Supposedly the final piece to the X-Men series, this lively, energetic, and fun cap to the trilogy is a worthy send off to this fantastic comic book based series. While a director change early on caused some controversy, Rush Hour director Brett Ratner does a fantastic job with the material. If anything, there’s not enough here.
The film’s problem is the lack of character development or even introduction. While Colossus was teased in the previous two installments, he’s used extensively here in battle sequences. There’s no introduction to the character, his background, or why he’s suddenly so involved. This happens with multiple mutants, and unless you’re a die-hard supporter of the comics, a lot of these introductions feel abrupt.
Wisely the movie stays on Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) as it did previously. Storm (Halle Berry) is given an expanded role more in sync with her part in the comics. This, of course, leads to some epic fight sequences, providing memorable and what will undoubtedly become classic images. Ian McKellen, flawlessly cast as Magneto, takes the Golden Gate Bridge and literally moves it off its base to suit his needs. It’s unforgettable.
The story creates a plausible scenario given the fantasy setting revolving around a “cure” for mutants. Protests and debates ensue, creating a solid reason for the conflicts to follow. Magneto is almost a sympathetic character, an odd spot for the lead villain. He firmly believes he’s in the right, though when he’s killing hundreds, it’s hard to buy into that angle.
As a third film, The Last Stand rapidly brings the audience to the present in finely spun flashbacks and dialogue. It’s enough to grasp the basics to follow the rest of the film. Neither of the writers worked on the first film in the series, and for Simon Kinberg, this was his first. It gives the film a different dialogue feel, especially in the realm of comedy. A line spoken by Juggernaut during the final struggle is simply priceless.
The closing is also worth mentioning, providing a nice “what if” scenario should the series continue. It’s also worth noting that it’s not over until after the credits scroll. You’ll miss a key point if you don’t keep watching.
As a send off, The Last Stand pulls together all loose ends to a satisfactory level. Fans can continue to wonder where their favorite characters are (especially Gambit), while the more casual fans can sit back and enjoy a solid piece of action filmmaking. Brett Ratner handled his last minute addition to the director’s chair wonderfully. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Movie]
X-Men III is still the only movie in the trilogy available in HD, and it quickly makes you want more. The stunning detail in close-ups ranks amongst the best in the format. Long shots rarely suffer from any flaws. A layer of grain is usually evident throughout and untouched. The only noticeable flaw is some trouble with the whites, which tend to bloom at times. This is still toned down from the DVD edition where it made some scenes unwatchable. Contrast is otherwise strong, with deep blacks producing a striking image. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]
A 6.1 DTS-HD audio track is an amazing piece of work. Action sequences never miss a beat. Objects consistently move through the sound field accurately and effectively. Bass produces a none too subtle boom with every necessary on-screen action. The first action sequence, the house fight, and the final confrontation are all worthy of repeated viewings for the audio alone. This track never disappoints. [xrr rating=5/5 label=Audio]
Fox carries over most of the DVD extras for this Blu-ray effort. Two audio commentaries begin the features, one with Brett Ratner and his screenwriters. The second seems rather pointless with four of the producers discussing the film with little insight.
Deleted scenes follow (10 in total), and these include three alternate endings. These flesh out the characters enough to be considered for official series canon. The new piece is a Marvel trivia track that runs along the film, testing fans on their geekiness during the movie. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Extras]