Mutant pride

Look, I know we’re right in the middle of a battle here, but can we take 5 for a smoke break?

Look, I know we’re right in the middle of a battle here, but can we take 5 for a smoke break?

Rated 3.0

I’ll say it straight up; I don’t really give a shit about X-Men comic books. I don’t have anything against them, but I just never got into comics in general. Love Mad Magazine, and the occasional Alan Moore or Frank Miller graphic novel might hook me, but comic books just never grabbed me by the balls and said, “Collect and fondle me! Keep me in plastic wrapping and make sure not to spill cola on me!” (Note to comic collectors: The author of this article is not really making fun of you. He used to collect Mad Magazine, Smurfs, Tiger Beat and Mr. Show paraphernalia so, to a degree, he has the illness).

I tell you this because word on the Internet suggests X-Men: The Last Stand isn’t for fans of the comic books. It condenses too many of the beloved mutants into one script without giving them their due, kills off too many characters without blinking an eye and doesn’t present the story of the Phoenix (Jean Grey’s alter ego) to its full potential. So I’m guessing some comic-book lovers are pissed, and they’re probably justified to some sort of sad, comic-book collector degree.

As for me, I think the film is alright. Just alright. The first two films, directed by Bryan Singer, were far superior. Brett Ratner, he of the suckass Rush Hour movies, stepped in when Singer took off to jumpstart the Superman franchise, and he does some OK stuff with the material. His film feels clogged and a bit rushed, but there’s no denying that some of the mainstays have a blast in this one, and that translates into some halfway decent blockbuster entertainment.

The government has come up with a cure for mutants that will change them to regular human forms, and that has many mutants miffed. Storm (Halle Berry, given way too much screen time here) thinks mutants should be gassed about being mutants, as does Magneto (Ian McKellen, kicking royal McKellen ass as usual). However, while Storm, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and the “good” mutant lot support more peaceful dissent, Magneto wants war. And because this is a summer movie, we’re going to see that war.

Some new mutants are thrown into the mix, including Kelsey Grammer as the lovable, very blue and puffy Beast. Grammer doesn’t get much screen time, but he certainly makes the most of it. His character is some sort of Washington D.C. diplomat for mutants, but when things get ugly, he puts on some leather and throws down with the best of them.

There’s also Angel (Ben Foster), a winged boy with daddy issues who doesn’t say much but manages to be in the right place at the right time near film’s end. Another mutant, Leech (Cameron Bright), is the source of the cure. He’s imprisoned in a cell on Alcatraz Island, the government’s headquarters for ridding mutants of their powers.

I suppose Phoenix (Famke Janssen) counts as a new mutant. When Cyclops (James Marsden) discovers Jean Grey alive in the lake that supposedly killed her in the second movie, she shows her nasty side. Magneto takes Phoenix under her wing (her tendency to kill people makes her relatively unwelcome at the mutant school), and it all builds to a Golden Gate Bridge-moving climax on Alcatraz.

This is supposed to be the last X-Men movie, but I severely doubt it. There are a couple of cliffhanger deals at film’s end (stay through the credits), and the third chapter is proving to be one mother of a cash cow. There’s talk of a Wolverine spin-off, so Hugh Jackman fans, rejoice! As for you comic-book fans, just try to hang on. Superman Returns is on its way and will hopefully be more respectful towards comic book lore.