After approximately 45 minutes into X-Men: The Last Stand, three primary characters had already been killed off, while one had been brought back to life. I suppose we can call this a net loss of two, although the one brought back to life more than makes up for the three losses — at least in terms of power level. Or at least, that’s what the characters tell us, because apparently there is such a thing as a mutant power level now. It’s so kind of them to mention it for the first time in the third installment into the franchise.
If by now you are still unaware, the X-Men franchise insists that people with superpowers, called mutants, live amongst regular human beings. Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) has created a school where mutants can live safely, free from the prejudices that society places on them. Here is where the titular X-Men reside, led by Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Storm (Halle Berry) and Cyclops (James Marsden). The villain of the first film, Magneto (Ian McKellen), returns too, as does his sidekick Mystique (Rebecca Romijn).
The characters that get knocked off are ones I will not mention, because it needs to come as a surprise. One of the best things about this film is the shock that comes when characters you’ve seen for multiple films are removed from the spotlight. And when it’s not quite as good as its predecessors, you need that shock to come into play. If you don’t get it, you’re not getting the full experience, and your experience with it will likely be worse.
The plot this time around revolves around the humans finally creating a cure for the mutant gene. Magneto, who earlier claimed that something like this would eventually happen, isn’t too thrilled. He decides to recruit some more mutants and wage war against the humans for creating this cure. Still missing, and I can only assume presumed dead, are Toad and Sabretooth from the first film. I would have thought that he would have wanted these characters back for a major war, so they must have died. Instead, he recruits people like Juggernaut (Vinnie Jones, a man who, once he gains momentum, cannot be stopped, and Callisto (Dania Ramirez), someone who has superhuman speed, and can detect these so-called “power levels”. He also, eventually, gets the resurrected character on his side, but, for most of the film, all this person does is stand there looking angry.
The X-Men have a couple of new players as well. A character who appeared in the first two films, albeit in incredibly small roles, gets some spotlight this time around. Shadowcat (Ellen Page in this installment, although she didn’t play this character previously), is a girl who can walk through solid objects. Hank McCoy, otherwise known as Beast (Kelsey Grammer), is a blue, hairy, creature, who is agile and strong. Colossus (Daniel Cudmore) is also on the team as a man who can make his skin become metal. That will work against Magneto.
What the film comes down to is this: Magneto wants to completely destroy the place where the cure comes from, and the X-Men want to stop him. There’s a big battle that lasts nearly half an hour as they fight over this place. The first hour is spent mostly in setting this major fight up, and also killing off the characters that they don’t want to take part in it. The first hour is also kind of a mess in terms of plot.
There are some parts of this film that don’t completely mesh well with others in the series. This mostly comes in the decisions made by Xavier and Magneto, which seem to go against what their characters believe in. Apparently Xavier had done some things before the first film even took place that will make you think of him differently as a character. We end up questioning if his actions are actually for the betterment of mutants after all, or if he’s just someone who wants as much control as he can get. But the film never answers this for us.
The Last Stand is different from the other films in the series in that it attempts to be more of a full-on action film. As a result, we get less characterization. Although I don’t really think we needed all that much, considering most of these characters are ones we’ve already seen for two films. Instead, we get large, extravagant action scenes which will entertain. There isn’t the same level of tension as there was in previous films, but if you just want to be entertained for 104 minutes, you probably won’t be disappointed.
X-Men: The Last Stand did a fine job of wrapping up the trilogy. Yes, it’s a worse film than both of its predecessors, but it was still good. It was entertaining, the action scenes were really enjoyable, and I had fun while watching it. The character development was thinner than in previous films, and the plot was a bit of a mess for a while, but on the whole I still enjoyed myself. The story also concludes quite well. For the first time in the series, I didn’t need more. For the final film in a trilogy, that’s what you want.