X-Men: The Last Stand

Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Halle Berry, and Hugh
Jackman star in a film written by Zak Penn and Simon Kinberg and
directed by Brett Ratner.

Reviewed by D.J. Palladino

It’s now clear that the best thing about the X-Men movies is
their grand unifying theme and the exquisitely intricate ways the
plot examines it. Now, don’t laugh. From the first film’s opening
on young Magneto being dragged into a Nazi death camp to this
film’s small-scale, nearly apocalyptic ending, the scripts looked
unblinkingly at capital-p Power and its tolerance of offbeat
others — or, as in the case of some of the more prickly mutants,
the toleration of their own offbeat powers.

In this film, a believable cure forces the major players to
rancorous side-choosing, with an ambitious president of the Untied
States making a surprising show of potency in a pitched battle most
of us thought would be waged solely between Professor Xavier
(Patrick Stewart, smooth and benign) and his uncanny X-Men versus
Magneto’s (hirsute and wicked Ian McKellen) thuggy mutant

“They say they have the cure,” intoned Magneto. “And I say we
are the cure.” The best, most unexpected development of the
“democracy versus will to power” conflict is how it works out
inside the brain of two female protagonists, and if I said whom you
would call me a spoiler. It’s a surprisingly non-sexist superhero
world, too.

The second best aspect of X-Men is the roundness of its
characterizations, richly built on paradox, like all great poems.
Sometimes, though, the line between roundness and stupid
contradictions gets crossed sloppily. Magneto, for instance, is so
malicious one second and yet adorably noble two beats later. But
paradoxes inform the story, too. Life, death, teamwork, and loose
cannonry are but a few choice morsels of unresolved dilemmas in
brisk competition here. Hey, this ridiculous superhero book’s a lot
like life.

Please don’t let the comic fans dissuade you from seeing this
film. (Just read the letters to the editor in any four-color mag if
you want to meet head-in-butt critics.) It’s not as good as the
last two films, maybe, and newcomer Brett Ratner sometimes forgets
to dazzle us. But it’s choice escapist fare, nonetheless. You know,
big explosions, titanic mayhem, and special effects that make you


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