Directed by: Brett Ratner
Screenplay by: Zak Penn and Simon Kinberg
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, and Kelsey Grammer

“Why can’t you, just for once, be normal?”

My wife will sometimes say this. It’s usually followed by a laugh or a grin, sometimes even a resigned shake of the head and a look to the sky, as if she were asking God why He has cursed her with such a strange husband with odd tastes in books, music, movies, and humor. It happened just the other night, while I was watching a Japanese horror anthology.

“This is so weird!” she said. “Why can’t you do anything normal?”

What if we could all just be normal?–like everyone else? Normal.

That’s the question that fuels this third (and by all accounts final) installment in Fox and Marvel’s X-Men saga, X-Men: The Last Stand.


A lot has changed in the world since we left our heroes. There is a new president in office (Josef Sommer) who supports the rights of mutants. He has even gone so far as to create a new Department of Mutant Affairs, run by the blue haired Dr. Henry “Hank” McCoy (Kelsey Grammer). Yes, it looks as if the long-held dream of Prof. Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), human and mutant co-existence, is now becoming a reality. But as much as society says it will accept mutants, deep down, it still thinks of them as weird…as people with a disease needing to be cured.

Enter little Jimmy (Cameron Bright). He can take away a mutant’s powers through close contact. Billionaire Warren Worthington II (Michael Murphy), ashamed of his own freak son (Ben Foster with digital wings), takes Jimmy’s blood and uses it to create a serum–a cure for mutation. Now every mutant can give up their powers and their “deformities” and be just like everyone else. Everyone can be normal.


Magneto (Ian McKellen) sees this for what it is: a way for “regular” people to cleanse the world of undesirables. He has seen this all before, and he has the concentration camp tattoos to prove it. Gathering other mutants to his cause, he builds an army to go after the source of the serum, bringing the film to a climactic showdown where he actually throws the Golden Gate Bridge at Alcatraz.


In the hands of the craftsmen who forged the first two films (director Bryan Singer, composer and editor John Ottman, cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel, writers Mike Dougherty and Dan Harris, and production designer Guy Dyas), X-Men: The Last Stand could have been a different (and dare I say, smarter) film, with allegorical issues explored more deeply and the existing characters further developed, but like the cure their movie depicts, replacement director Brett Ratner and writers Zak Penn and Simon Kinberg have taken away most of what made the previous films so unique, turning this installment into a run-of-the-mill action movie that races like a speeding juggernaut from one special-effects filled scene to another, ignoring opportunities for real drama. At one point, Worthington is rescued by the son he has so loathed. Does he say thanks?–tell his son that he loves him?–that he was wrong to try to change him? No. The two fly past the camera and the fight scene moves on without them. The two fly past the camera and the fight scene moves on without them. The climax also features one of the most obvious film flubs in recent memory as it turns from bright sunny day to midnight in the space of a few seconds. There are so many plots and subplots from various comics at work here (Jean Grey’s [Famke Janssen] resurrection as The Phoenix could have been a film unto itself) that, like a car in Magneto’s grip, the narrative is nearly crushed under the weight.

And yet, despite its flaws, I must admit that I liked The Last Stand. The special effects are spectacular, and there are plenty of genuine surprises and inspired moments to shock and delight fans of both films and the comics that birthed them.


Is this really the last flight of the Blackbird? It might be scheduling conflicts and not box office returns that ultimately decides, but there are now fewer stars for producers to deal with. I will not reveal any spoilers here as to who lives and who dies (why ruin the fun?), but I will say one thing: If you’re one of these people who have to be first out the door when the credits start to roll, you need to just have a seat. There’s a final scene that is well worth the wait.

3.5 stars out of 5.