X rated: Some thoughts on X-Men – The Last Stand

Poster for X-Men - The Last StandI saw X-Men – The Last Stand on Saturday. As usual, it was freezing in the (Vue) auditorium, the air-conditioning blasting away throughout. At least, being an early screening, the audience was quiet and respectful – if you make it out to a cinema before lunchtime, chances are you’re interested in actually seeing a film.

I didn’t know much about this second X-Men sequel, other than the fact that Bryan Singer’s not involved and it’s been getting middling reviews, which I can understand because, while the film packs just as much visual wallop as X2, it’s not as satisfying.

Some plot points that beg further exploration/explanation are neglected or glossed over, while in one instance a subtle reversal of roles is made explicit by one of the characters commenting on it in a clunky manner, lessening its impact. Magneto’s band of mutants are characterised, for the most part, as a stereotypically grimy street gang, and Vinnie Jones jars as Juggernaut – a role that will, I imagine, provide much mirth for his critics in years to come.

The biggest flaw for me, though, is that the movie doesn’t have the courage to sign off properly. The final scene had me inwardly groaning, and the brief post-credits extra might as well have been 10 seconds’ worth of the screenwriters blowing me a raspberry.

That said, there is plenty to enjoy. Coda aside, there’s a decent story with what feels like a very real sense of threat. The set-pieces are eye-popping and the climax expertly pitched. Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine gets a run for his money, as Kelsey Grammer’s Beast steals almost every scene he’s in. Halle Berry’s Storm not only provides more bang for your buck this time out, but is a much more rounded character. And Ian McKellen is, as always, a pleasure to watch.

I’ll definitely catch the film again on DVD, where I’m hoping to see at least one other, much more satisfying, closing scene. And perhaps a Vinnie Jones-less option.

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