"In chess, the pawns always go first."
Everyone knows that this is the shittiest X-Men movie. It's an inescapable fact. The question is, why is it so shitty? Everything that came before it was good, so how did it all go to hell? I have a few theories, starting with the fact that director Brett Ratner doesn't seem to give a shit about these characters. Where Bryan Singer treated the plight of mutants with love, Ratner approaches these mutants with fear. The early scene with a young Angel trying to cut off his wings in the bathroom plays like something out of a horror film. It's an interesting and telling early scene that establishes Ratner as the guy who just has no fucking clue what to do other than bring the movie in on time and on budget.
Everything about X-Men: The Last Stand is a downgrade from the previous X-adventure. We get a worse director, a worse script, a worse aesthetic, an awful #2 for Magneto in Vinnie Jones' embarrassingly bad Juggernaut, and even a downgrade in blue guys from Alan Cumming's endlessly fascinating Nightcrawler to the somnambulant Kelsey Grammer snoozing his way through this movie as Hank McCoy. There's nothing about this film that feels like it's a continuation of what came before it, mostly because the cast is on autopilot and everything about this movie looks like its corners were cut. It quickly becomes reminiscent of one of those latter day Planet of the Apes sequels where shit got real cheap, real quick.
The film hinges its entire plot around this supposed mutant cure, but it feels like the Cliff Notes version of a better film. Everything is rushed from the setup of Warren Worthington and his mutant son Angel—who somehow gets even shorter shrift than Cyclops, but I digress—to the kidnapped mutant kid who holds the secret to the cure. Who was that kid? What's going on? Why am I spending most of the first twenty minutes of this film with a guy (Beast) I only just met? To paraphrase the brilliant We Hate Movies, where are the people I came to this party with?
There's so much about the film that I can't even tolerate from Rogue deciding to take the mutant cure because she thinks Bobby is gonna leave her for Kitty Pride to Magneto up and ditching Mystique the minute she is injected with the cure. She's still an ass kicking babe, Magneto, you might want to hang on to her instead of shacking up with the first muscle bound moron you come across. It would be one thing if these were missteps in an otherwise solid flick, but that's just not the case. Patrick Stewart is on autopilot here, playing Professor X more like Jean-Luc Picard than Charles Xavier, and even poor Famke Janssen is given nothing to do other than stand around looking confused while the grown-ups talk about her. It's one thing to give these characters more screen time, it's another to give them something to actually fucking do on screen, and that's where this film fails miserably.
The film looks like it was shot mostly on backlots, which contributes to a lot of the aesthetic cheapness. Frugality is one thing, but the grand climax of this movie set on Alcatraz looks like a bunch of extras were given vague instructions while Wolverine, Beast, Magneto, and Pyro do literally all of the heavy lifting. Half the damn movie takes place in the woods where Magneto makes these longwinded speeches that all kind of sound the same. The film's extras are also terrible, a surefire sign no one was paying the fuck attention on set. It's frankly embarrassing. This was Fox's marquee franchise at the time and they treat it like a cast-off from another era of the studio they're trying to put behind them.
X-Men: The Last Stand is every bit as bad as its reputation suggests. I'm glad we got some cool stuff like the Danger Room, a Sentinel head, and not one but TWO fastball specials, but it's all too little too late. It feels like everyone's done being X-Men and I don't blame them. There's no fun or momentum to this movie whatsoever. The best thing I can say about it is that it's only 104 minutes. I can't imagine how intolerable another half hour of this thing would've been, but maybe it would've felt more like a hundred million dollar plus movie and less like a poor attempt to recapture former glories. It's just depressing.
—Can we stop using ultimatums in the titles of franchise movies please? We all knew this wouldn't be the "Last" anything for any of these characters
—Also, can someone please verify that Wolverine's hair is indeed part of his mutation. I just don't know when this guy's doing his hair up
—Oh the sweet irony of Wolverine telling Scott it's time to move on when he spends the entirety of The Wolverine screaming for Jean
—Speaking of hair, looks like Pyro decided to get those tips frosted, eh?
—Does Magneto's master plan really involve just showing up at rando mutant assemblies all over the Bay Area and guilting mutants into joining his cause?
—Man, oh man do we love calling women "bitch" in this movie: "Shut up, bitch!" "I'm the Juggernaut, bitch!" My word
—There's no other way to put it, Cyclops got chumpatized
—Anyone care to explain how bare chested Angel survives his crash through those glass windows? I know glass in movies doesn't do what glass in real life does, but come on!
—Did Professor X put Jean in those booty shorts?
—Whomever designed that Juggernaut costume, with those stupid Popeye arms, should never work again
—Um, you guys are getting ice skating in my superhero movie. Did Brett Ratner watch Peter Jackson's King Kong and go, "Yeah, yeah, I want that in my movie too!"
—Also, who cast McSteamy as Jamie Madrox? Terrible, terrible choice
—And all of a sudden, Wolverine has wandered into The Most Dangerous Game
—Does Shadowcat call Juggernaut dickhead because he looks like a literal penis with that helmet on?
—Well Wolvy, you finally got to stick it in Jean
—If I had to point the finger at one person involved in this film's production being the most likely culprit for this overstuffed mess, it would be Avi Arad. Dude was upgraded to Producer for this one, and everything he touches turns to shit. Just check his track record. Sure, Ratner and Zak Penn suck, but I think giving Avi Arad any say in this film's production was a fatal mistake. Brandy?
Brandy: fuck this movie and fuck you for making me watch it again, Steve. THEY RUINED JEAN. THE DARK PHOENIX STORYLINE IS THE BEST STORYLINE IN COMICS AND THEY RUINED EVERYTHING.