When a film is entitled ‘The Last Stand’ and is the third and supposedly final installment of an epic franchise, we naturally expect something
special.  Unfortunately, the latest X-Men film falls short of these expectations and even short of the previous two movies.

Taking over for director Bryan Singer, Brett Ratner of Rush Hour and Red Dragon fame gives us a visually stunning, but otherwise shallow
sequel.  To an even greater extent than the other films in the series, it suffers from the mass of characters that go along with the franchise.  
Instead of picking a few central players and really developing them, we get a movie that feels comprised almost entirely of side stories.  

Certainly there is an overriding plotline involving a ‘cure’ for mutants, but Zak Penn and Simon Kinberg’s screenplay feels completely
fragmented.  They desperately try to bring some closure to all the characters, even if that means haphazardly killing many of them off.  It
would not be out of the question for this film to make hardcore X-Men fans very angry.  The treatment of many of the main characters from
the other films just isn’t well conceived and is given surprisingly little emotional weight.

It’s important to note, though, that The Last Stand is certainly not a disaster.  Ratner’s action sequences blow away Singer’s as far as I’m
concerned (especially the climactic battle) and the visual effects are excellent.  The cast is also quite good even though they are poorly
utilized by the script.

At least the film is never boring; something I thought plagued the last act of X2.  However, the best thing I can say about the movie overall
is that it isn’t bad.  And that’s not good.

The same can be said for John Powell’s forgettable score.

I may be alone, but I think that the original film was the best of the series.  It was certainly the most focused; with an emphasis on Wolverine
and Rogue.  Singer also had fun with that movie.  That sense of humor is almost completely lost in Last Stand.

Overall, X-Men: The Last Stand is a disappointment.  It fails to provide a satisfying conclusion to the series and treats its beloved characters
as nothing more than devices to advance the fairly standard plot.  Somewhere along the line Brett Ratner needed to step back and ask
whether this story was worthwhile for its themes and characters, or just a way to jam as much X-Men ‘stuff’ as possible into one movie.

* * 1/2
(out of four)

P.S.  Be sure to stick around after the credits for a surprising final scene.
Directed by: Brett Ratner

Written by: Simon Kinberg & Zak Penn

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian Mckellen,
Patrick Stewart, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin

Cinematography by: Dante Spinotti

Music by: John Powell

Released: May 26, 2006; 104 Minutes