Judge Roman Martel is ready to make his last stand against the penguin invasion.
Our review of X-Men: The Last Stand, published September 25th, 2006, is also available.
It's time to check out the Blu-ray version of the final film of the X-Men trilogy. Is X-Men: The Last Stand worth picking up?
This is the first time I've had the opportunity to watch this movie in one go. I avoided seeing it in the theaters after reading the nasty reviews. No, I didn't have much faith in Brett Ratner (New York, I Love You). To be honest, I'm glad I did wait. Back in 2006 I probably would have disliked the film.
The story begins with the discovery of a vaccine that can remove mutant powers. Some mutants like Rogue (Anna Paquin, Scream 4) are more than willing to take it. Others like Magneto (Ian McKellen, The Da Vinci Code) see it as a weapon that will be used to destroy the mutants. Xavier (Patrick Stewart, Dune) sees the potentially volatile situation stirring and is ready to find a diplomatic way to solve it, but another issue arrises.
Phoenix (Famke Janssen, The Ten) returns, and she's the most powerful mutant the world has yet seen. Even worse, she's incredibly unstable and unpredictable. Xavier is convinced that with proper treatment he can restore balance to her mind. But Magneto sees her as the ultimate ally, one that will allow him to crush all those who oppose him and his battle to save all mutants.
Seeing X-Men: The Last Stand after only catching bits and pieces on television over the years I actually appreciated what the creative team did with the series. The goal was to create an epic battle between Magneto's brotherhood and the X-Men. They wanted to throw Phoenix in the mix and they wanted to hit the audience with some real emotion.
Did they succeed? The Last Stand works as an epic finale superhero film, especially in the action scenes. We get plenty of mutant battles and some great use of powers. With new mutants fighting on both sides, we aren't relegated to seeing all the same stuff from Wolverine and Storm. I also love the idea of the vaccine used to "cure" the mutants and how it works into the story and the battles.
Where the movie stumbles is in hitting the viewer emotionally with the deaths of several main characters. The only reason this falls short is because the characters in the film series were never developed that well. Since X-Men, Wolverine and Magneto have been the main focus. So when other characters do pay the ultimate price, we may wince and John Powell's powerhouse score may try to convince us of the gravity of the situation but most viewers will probably be more sorry to see the actor go than the character.
Luckily both Wolverine and Magneto have moments of drama that do work well and provide some solid closure at the end. I'm surprised the franchise didn't continue building off the events in this film. The story ends in a way that nicely completes the trilogy, but leaves enough room open to continue the story.
Maybe the fan backlash against this movie, which was extremely nasty, forced the producers to go backwards instead of forward with X-Men franchise. When you kill off fan favorite characters with little regard for their legacy it does tick people off. But viewers need to approach all three of these films as their own continuity, packaged in their own world. That way, you'll see how this story is a natural follow-up to the previous film and works just fine as a sequel.
As for Mr. Ratner, he did a decent job here. The action and plot move along briskly, he works in some character moments for just about everyone. The stinger after the end credits finish was a bit too corny, but all in all, it's not a bad job. Singer had a little more panache in his camera work, but honestly that's about the only thing I really ended up missing.
A few things did keep me from loving the film. The first, predictably, is Halle Berry. Her performance is slightly stronger in The Last Stand but still doesn't carry the weight it needs to. Storm has to step up quite a bit in this film and when Berry attempts those key scenes it falls flat. The writers also managed to keep Rogue out of a big chunk of the film. The first two films seemed to be building her up to be a key point in this trilogy, and I was disappointed she didn't play into the finale at all. Lastly, some of the plot elements in this film are slightly altered ideas from X2: X-Men United. It's mostly around the father/son dynamic involving the man behind the "cure," an odd plot point that didn't need to be here.
The Blu-ray transfer looks great. The black levels are nice and solid, and the detail is rich and clear. Much like the previous disc, the sound is where things get tricky. The DTS mix weighs a bit too heavy on the sound effects and John Powell's huge score. Dialogue is comparatively quiet, forcing you to adjust the volume at various times. It's better balanced than, but not as smooth as, X-Men. I did a quick check of the 5.1 Dolby Digital track and found that mix a lot more balanced, but lacking the rumble power of the DTS track.
Once again you get extras spread over two discs. Disc One features two commentary tracks. The first features director Ratner and the screenwriters. The second features the producers. The deleted scenes are also featured on this disc. The second disc houses the directors production diary, several documentaries and featurettes, a stills gallery, and animatics. You also get vignettes, blogs and the theatrical trailers all in high definition.
While X-Men: The Last Stand was released on Blu-ray back in in 2006, this version loads up on the extras. According to my research, the image and sound are pretty much the same beast. I say go for the double dip if you have the standard def version. Otherwise weigh your love of extras and see if that makes the difference in buying this again on Blu-ray.
The film looks great in high def and if you don't mind having a hand free for volume control, the sound issue on the DTS track isn't too bad. If you are a fan of the X-Men films, I say go for the upgrade. If you never picked this one up and are on the fence, Blu-ray is the way to go.
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