X-Men: The Last Stand (PG-13)

Action/Adventure 104 May 26, 2006
By Jason Anderson
Burning question among the geeks: How much damage can Brett Ratner do? After all, the maker of this third X-Men epic is the guy who discovered the "talents" of Chris Tucker (Rush Hour), who claimed to have improved on Manhunter with Red Dragon, and who generally makes Michael Bay look like a model of modesty and restraint. At least The Last Stand is more perfunctory hack job than soul-crushing disaster. While it boasts the excellent design and special effects of Bryan Singer's first two installments, Ratner's film has little of their sly wit or energy; that it's watchable nonetheless is largely due to the efforts of returning cast members Hugh Jackman, Sir Ian McKellen, and Famke Janssen, who end up carrying the weight after several familiar characters are dispatched. The one major mutant who died in X2, Jean Gray (Janssen) emerges from the watery depths. Unfortunately for her teammates, Gray has been reborn in the guise of her volatile alter ego Phoenix. Her teammates must also contend with escalating tensions caused by a new "cure" for mutation. "Since when did we become a disease?" wonders Storm (Halle Berry, sporting her best wig yet). Subtexts about queerness, contagion, and the culture of fear were intriguing to Singer, but not so much to Ratner, who also gives short shrift to new additions such as Beast (Kelsey Grammer in blue fur) and Shadowcat (Hard Candy dynamo Ellen Page). Yet Ratner handles the carnage well, his finale escalating into a pleasingly bombastic assault on Alcatraz. (Jason Anderson)
Brett Ratner Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Famke Janssen, Alan Cumming, Rebecca Romijn, Kelsey Grammer, Vinnie Jones Simon Kinberg, Zak Penn Lauren Shuler Donner, Ralph Winter 20th Century Fox