X-MEN: THE LAST STAND is finally out, and not nearly the debacle fans of the first two Bryan Singer installments feared. Without giving too much away (no spoiler alert here), certain things came to mind:
1) There's plenty of action capably directed by Brett (RUSH HOUR) Ratner and $165 million can certainly buy you some impressive special effects, but perhaps the best one of them all is how creepy they make the young Prof. Xavier and Eric Lensherr (Magneto) look in the "20 years ago" flashback to their first meeting with Jean Grey as a girl. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen are so smooth they barely look human...scary! Be on the lookout for the obligatory Stan Lee cameo in this scene as well.
2) The huge cast seems game but they are unfortunately saddled with little or no back story and frequently atrocious dialogue. Though I'm sure fanboys will want to blame these howlers on Ratner, the screenplay was co-written by Simon Kinberg (MR. AND MRS. SMITH, XXX: STATE OF THE UNION) and Zak Penn (INSPECTOR GADGET, ELEKTRA)--there's pedigree for ya! And the "well...it's supposed to be a comic book" rationale only goes so far. But at least they had the balls to knock off some characters.
3) Wouldn't it have been interesting to see what Matthew Vaughn (LAYER CAKE) could have done with this material if he hadn't bailed on the project?
4) Was Juggernaut British? I have no recollection of that from the comic book, but Vinnie Jones has some fun with him and for the brief time he's on screen, he's one of the more entertaining characters up there. But that helmet looks idiotic and bothered me in the same way that Magneto's has done through the whole series.
5) In case you haven't heard, there's a short scene after the end credits that you'll want to stick around for. 'Nuff said.
6) A huge sigh of relief--it may not be up to high standards set by the first two or Sam Raimi's SPIDER MAN movies, but at least it's better than other recent Marvel adaptations such as FANTASTIC FOUR, DAREDEVIL, and HULK. Some may call this damning with faint praise, but hey!--we're talking about a Brett Ratner film here. Go, see it on the biggest screen you can, keep your expectations reasonable, and we'll all wait for SUPERMAN RETURNS to rock our superhero world on June 30.
--Matthew (ex-comic geek)