X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

X-Men Last StandReleased: May 26, 2006. Directed by: Brett Ratner. Starring: Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen, Halle Berry. Runtime: 104 min. 

I guess all mutants getting along was nice when it lasted. This time Charles Xavier’s (Patrick Stewart) X-Men face off against Magneto’s (Ian McKellen) Brotherhood. Stewart’s limited screen time helps prove that a presence will still be felt throughout the flick. In this film, a cure is introduced for mutants everywhere. Is mutation something that really needs to be cured? Do mutants really need to conform to what everyone else looks like? Is it cowardice if they choose to take the cure? This time, it touches on the idea that some mutants might benefit from the cure. This is basically in Rogue, who might benefit from it because if she holds onto someone too long, she could kill them. I learn that she is contributes a lot more in the comic books, when she’s felt sidelined to me in the films – at least in terms of battle. I think that’s awesomely touched on more intelligently with Mystique’s characterization in 2011’s X-Men: First Class.

This film just doesn’t feel as smart as the first two films. Heck, it’s still fun – but there are a lot of frustrating occurrences, mainly because some are so unnecessary. Something this film is missing is Bryan Singer’s direction. He just brought such an intelligent style to it, and it just feels like it’s lacking. This time Brett Ratner directs the film, and it’s a bit of an odd choice. Prior to this he directed the Rush Hour franchise and the Hannibal Lecter flick Red Dragon. It was a cool attempt, but it’s only successful to some avail. The fighting for freedom just feels a bit too clichèd this time around under Ratner’s eye. 

Like the Rush Hour flicks show, his style of direction just feels a bit familiar, and not quite a memorable style you could recognize a single director for. Though, he does direct a phenomenal prison escape sequence and kudos to the cinematography department during it. The actors bring humour to the film, per usual, it just isn’t as strong because the story gets dark at times. The film handles heartbreaking aspects of characterization well to some degree, just not perfectly like the last two films. It does handle being a blockbuster pretty well, though, because this is all really fun. 

It’s cool how Jean is a new sort-of character this time around, found in her alter-ego Phoenix, who is much more aggressive and angry than the regular Jean. Professor X wants to contain it in a series of psychological barriers, while Magneto wants to let her out of her cage. What happens with that is an intense sequence. Janssen gives her most interesting performance of the franchise thus far. In Wolverine and her relationship, Hugh Jackman brings some power to his performance. 

There are some good other mutants. It seems that the Beast, a political representative for mutants, is replacing the blue good guy (Nightcrawler in the last film) this time around. I love Ben Foster as the Angel, even though I would have loved to see more from the character. Callisto (Dania Ramirez) on the villains side is a really cool villain, because she’s like a walking, talking Cerebro. She can sense when mutants are near, and also know their power level. There’s a sort-of porcupine blowfish villain named Kid Omega who’s kind-of fun. He’s portrayed by Ken Leung, and I think I subconsciously assumed he was a villain when I saw him on TV’s Lost because I recognized him from this villainous role. As a villain, Pyro (Aaron Stanford) is a bit of a bland idiot. I thought he was a lot more fun as an antagonizing hero. 

I think the title indicates that there might be a few losses from all ends. I think there’s a minor problem when the opening simulation fighting sequence is the same amount of fun as the finale, but that might be because it’s lacking a few fun characters who would be helpful. The finale should just stand out in memory more, as far as I’m concerned. Don’t get me wrong, I like the finale and I like the film, but it’s just disappointingly not as character-driven as the previous two films.

Score: 65/100

Advertisements

The Hills Have Eyes

the hills have eyesThe Hills Have Eyes

Release Date: March 10, 2006

Director: Alexandre Aja

Stars: Ted Levine, Kathleen Quinlan, Dan Byrd

Runtime: 107 min

Tagline: The lucky ones die first

A suburban American family is being stalked by a group of psychotic people who live in the desert, far away from civilization.

The Hills Have Eyes should get some props for actually being a horror flick that isn’t totally mindless. Wait a second… It is. It’s also just nasty. But… It is slightly easy to care for a select few of the characters, instead of rooting the baddies to just kill them off one by one, like most slasher flicks. Though, the villains are despicable, unsettling and nasty mutated freaks and not in a way one would want their horror villains to be. They’re some of the ugliest things I’ve ever witnessed, they’re certainly not the cool type of mutants to hang out with Charles Xavier, and they’re actually too eerie to be a highlight of a freak show attraction.

Some of the movie is creepy, but when the middle comes, it’s just downhill from there. Horror movies are universally known for characters to do some of the most idiotic things ever, but some characters’ actions are incredibly irresponsible (Hint: If you see your dog laying dead with some of his body taken off… Tell someone), and by the time some of them get picked off at the scene where the action heats up and a weird mutant guy actually takes the head off a bird and drinks from it, it’s hard to care that they get killed. They’re just so idiotic.

This is one of the nastiest and worst horror flicks I’ve ever seen, and it’s not even a fun gore-fest. Since many believe this outdoes the original, the original must be one of the worst movies ever made. The only redeeming qualities this has is it’s sometimes creepy (but it soon gets irritating) and Aaron Stanford’s character goes through a kind-of David Sumner-esque transformation to stand up for himself. Other than that, it’s poorly constructed, the acting is hardly top-tier (Stanford is okay), it’s nasty, you’ll need a strong stomach to stand it, it’s stupid, unrewarding, and just way too long. Only a few films make me angry to think back to, and this is one of them.

20/100