out of Five
Running time: 125
Enjoyable, fast-paced threequel with impressive action sequences and strong performances, but it spreads itself too thinly in terms of characters and plot.
What's it all about?
Say what you like about replacement director Brett Rush Hour
Ratner, but he knows how to kick-start a movie. After a couple of intriguing prologue scenes, he swiftly establishes that Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) has been reborn as Phoenix, complete with unimaginable powers and that the government have developed a cure for the mutant gene and intend to use it.
As Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and his students agonise over what the cure might mean to mutant life as they know it, Magneto (Ian McKellen) launches an all-out war on the government.
The performances are excellent, with McKellen, Janssen, Hugh Jackman (returning as Wolverine) and Kelsey Grammar (as the blue-skinned Beast) easily the stand-outs. In addition, the film includes plenty of references to both classic and recent storylines that will delight fans of the comics.
The film is surprisingly dark in places and you shouldn't expect all your favourite characters to make it to the final reel. This was a bold decision, but it risks provoking the wrath of the aforementioned die-hard comics fans.
In terms of a big-budget effects extravaganza, the film delivers in spades, serving up several exciting action sequences and some impressive set-pieces. It's just a shame that it's all largely at the expense of the character work that distinguished the first two films.
In particular, it's a shame we don't get to see more of both Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) and Angel (Ben Foster), whose dominant presence in the film's publicity is decidedly misleading. Similarly, Janssen is wasted in the latter half of the film.
In short, this is an enjoyable blockbuster and not the disaster that many feared, though it's not as good as X-Men 2. Oh, and whatever you do, don't leave before the credits have finished!
X-Men: The Last Stand (12A)