Ok, so at the end of the second movie, they pretty much had set up for the next film to showcase one of the more pivotal story lines in the X-Men franchise; The Phoenix/Dark Phoenix saga. Now this story line had ramifications that were felt for years, decades even, after it was originally resolved in 1980. So with the Phoenix Saga being the central plot of the latest movie, I knew it wasn’t going to have any of the interstellar elements from the comics, as they hadn’t been introduced previously and would take too much time to try and fit them in and explain them, but I was hopeful that they would at least make a good movie with what has been introduced so far. After watching today’s movie, X-Men: The Last Stand, I really should stop wishing for things that just won’t happen.
The plot: Twenty years ago, Professor Charles Xavier and his friend Eric Lehnsherr head to the home of a young Jean Grey. After speaking with her parents, Jean’s mom calls Jean down and then leaves with Jean’s father, leaving Jean to speak with the two men. Xavier telepathically speaks with Jean, telling her that they are mutants just like her but when Jean shows that she is able to lift several cars and objects outside all at once, Eric is thrilled at the amount of power she displays. Ten years later, Warren Worthington II knocks on the bathroom door, concerned for his son Warren Worthington III, who had been in there for a hour. Hearing a clattering sound as Warren hastily moves something, Warren’s father quickly breaks down the door to see Warren crying as he is surrounded by bloody feathers, revealing that he had cut off the wings that had grown from his back. In the present day, Storm is leading a training exercise for Rogue, Bobby (Iceman), Peter (Colossus), and Kitty in the Danger Room but she gets upset when Wolverine, who is filling in for Cyclops, takes matters into his own hands to deal with the obstacle. When the session ends, Storm and Wolverine argue over their tactics before heading their separate ways. Elsewhere in the mansion, Cyclops is becoming more withdrawn as he tries to cope with Jean’s death. When Wolverine tries to tell him that it is time to move on, he shakes off Wolverine’s help and leaves the mansion. In Washington D.C., Dr. Henry “Hank” McCoy (Beast), a former student of Xavier’s, has been appointed to the President’s cabinet as Secretary of Mutant Affairs. During a meeting where it was revealed that Mystique was captured while breaking into the FDA, the President reveals that the files she stole were about a mutant boy named Jimmy, code-named Leech, whose power is the ability to remove other mutants’ powers. Worthington Industries is working on using his power to a fashion a “cure” for mutants and the President wants Hank’s help in keeping things calm, knowing this would become a massive powder keg when word got out. Hank goes to the mansion and speaks with Xavier, Storm, and Wolverine about the cure, just as the announcement is being made on television. At Alcatraz Island, Warren Worthington II has remade the prison into a treatment center saying they can cure mutants of their differences. Rogue enters the room, excitedly asking if they really did make a cure but Storm gets upset, saying there is nothing wrong with them that needs curing. Meanwhile, and underground meeting of mutants is being held to discuss the cure when Magneto and Pyro crash the meeting. Magneto tells the groups that while the government says the cure is voluntary, they will soon force every mutant to take it in order to completely wipe mutants off the face of the Earth. Magneto asks if any of them want to join his Brotherhood and a group called the Omegas (Callisto, Arclight, and Kid Omega) agree to join him. When he learns that Callisto’s powers include the ability to sense and locate other mutants, he asks her to locate Mystique. Hank goes to Alcatraz and meets with Dr. Kavita Rao, who introduces him to Jimmy and Hank is momentarily taken aback when he gets close to Jimmy and his fur disappears, revealing a normal human hand. Elsewhere, Scott travels back to Alkali Lake and as he repeatedly hears Jean calling out to him in his mind, he cries out and fires an optic blast into the water. As he recovers, he sees a whirlpool in the middle of the lake, just as a pressure wave knocks him off his feet. When he gets up, he sees Jean standing before him and the two embrace, then Jean tells Scott to take off his glasses, saying she can control her powers. Scott allows her to do so and she manages to block his optic blasts and the two kiss, but as they kiss, something starts happening to Scott. Back at the mansion, Xavier senses what is happening, which ends up being projected to everyone in the mansion, and when Storm and Wolverine go to check on him, he tells them to go to Alkali Lake. When they get there, the area is surrounded by a dense fog and Storm uses her abilities to disperse the fog, revealing dozens of stones floating in the air. As they split up, Wolverine sees Scott’s glasses floating among the rocks but no sign of Scott anywhere but before he can look further, he hears Storm cry out for him and when he rejoins her, he sees she located Jean, who has fallen into a coma. They take Jean back to the mansion and Xavier theorizes that when she was hit by the water, her powers wrapped her in a telekinetic cocoon to protect her. He explains that Jean’s powers are limitless and when she was a child, he placed mental blocks on her powers so that she couldn’t utilize her full powers as her full powers led to a different persona dubbed the Phoenix. Wolverine is upset with Xavier over his messing with Jean’s mind and the two argue before Wolverine leaves as Xavier works on restoring the blocks on her powers. Meanwhile, Warren shows up at Worthington Institute and his father is eager for him to be the first person given the cure but Warren decides he doesn’t want to and breaks free from the men holding him, then jumps out the window and flies away. Elsewhere, Mystique is being held in a mobile prison contained within a tractor trailer when Magneto shows up and destroys the escort then stops the truck. As he makes his way inside with Pyro, Mystique had managed to kill one of the guards inside and free herself. They then free the other prisoners, Jamie Madrox (Multiple Man) and Cain Marko (Juggernaut), but as Magneto recruits them to the Brotherhood, the surviving guard loads his gun with darts filled with the cure and takes aim at Magneto. Mystique sees this and moves to take the dart but as Pyro kills the guard, they are shocked to see Mystique changing back to her normal human form and Magneto leaves her there, saying she isn’t one of them any more. At the White House, Hank argues with the President about the existence of the weapons, then quits his position as he feels the President is on a slippery slope. Back at the mansion, Wolverine stands watch over Jean’s body and as he moves to touch her, she stops him, having awakened from her coma. The two talk for a bit before Jean tries to seduce Wolverine and he gives in to his urges at first but then backs off and asks her about Scott. As Jean remembers what she did to Scott, her powers start to go out of control and she begs Wolverine to kill her before she kills someone else but when he refuses and says that they should get Xavier to help her, Phoenix takes control and tosses him aside, then breaks open the door and leaves. In his hideout, Magneto contemplates the gun and decides to use it to bring more mutants to their cause when Callisto enters the room and tells him she picked up a Class 5 mutant, more powerful than him, and Magneto, knowing who it is, asks Callisto where she is. Back at the mansion, Storm and Xavier head to the infirmary and find Wolverine unconscious and after he tells them he thinks Jean killed Scott, Xavier admonishes him for not listening to him, then tells them Jean headed back to her childhood home. The three X-men fly there and find Magneto and the Brotherhood there as well and Xavier and Magneto head inside, telling everyone else to stay outside. Inside, they find Jean sitting in a chair and Xavier tries to talk to her and allow her to let him help her but Magneto interjects, saying that Xavier wants to diminish her. As Jean/Phoenix cries out, her powers start to go out of control and Wolverine moves to head inside but is intercepted by Juggernaut. Storm uses her powers to make it past Quill and Arclight but is then attacked by Callisto, who uses her rapid reflexes to get the upper hand on her. Inside, Magneto is thrown back as Phoenix confronts Xavier, suspending him up in the air and then disintegrating him. Magneto quickly goes to Jean and helps her out of the house as Wolverine and Storm, having been thrown from the house by the force of Jean’s powers, race back inside only to cry in grief over Xavier’s death. A funeral is held for Xavier and as the students all deal with their grief, Bobby goes to check on Kitty and the two grow closer, which makes Rogue jealous. Rogue decides to go get the cure but as she leaves, Wolverine stops to talk with her and tells her to make sure she is doing this for herself and not for someone else. In the California Redwood forests, Magneto is gaining more mutants to his cause and tries to convince Jean to help him but is nervous about her powers. Back at the mansion, Hank, Storm, and Wolverine are discussing what they should do with the school and Hank suggests closing it down but when Warren shows up, asking if it was still a safe haven for mutants, Storm says it is and tells Hank the school will stay open. Wolverine heads down to Xavier’s memorial when he is suddenly buffeted by psychic images from Jean, showing him where she and Magneto are located. Wolverine packs some things and prepares to head out when Storm confronts him, saying that Jean made her choice and he has to choose whether he is with them or not. Meanwhile, Bobby discovers that Rogue has left and figuring she might be going to get the cure, heads down to a treatment site, where mutant protesters are lined up across the street saying they don’t need a cure. He encounters Pyro, who taunts him about Rogue needing the cure and as Bobby walks away, Pyro proceeds to torch the facility. Magneto issues an ultimatum against using the cure, prompting the President to issue an order for more weapons loaded with “cure darts” to be issued for some military units. Wolverine makes his way to the Redwoods and after killing several sentries, he makes his way to the camp, where Magneto is giving a speech to the Brotherhood, telling them that they will head to Alcatraz and destroy the cure so it can’t be used against them. As Wolverine tries to catch up to Jean while she is alone, he is suddenly captured by Magneto and thrown through the forest, rendered unconscious. Back at the White House, the President is overseeing an operation to take out Magneto and the Brotherhood, having been given the location of their camp by Mystique. As the commando team moves in, the President is watching satellite feed and sees that all of the mutants are suddenly disappearing, as it is revealed it was simply Madrox using his powers to fool the military, allowing Magneto and the Brotherhood to make their way to Alcatraz unimpeded. Wolverine returns to the mansion and tells Hank and Storm that Magneto is heading to Alcatraz and they suit up, joined by Bobby, Peter, and Kitty, unaware that Warren had overheard them and heads out himself. As Wolverine gives a speech to help get the three younger X-Men ready, Storm asks him if he will be ready to do what needs to be done when the time comes. In San Francisco, Magneto and the Brotherhood begin marching across the Golden Gate Bridge, then Magneto uses his powers to rip one end of the bridge from it’s moorings and move it towards Alcatraz, crashing it on a guard tower. Magneto sends the Brotherhood out to deal with the guards and several of them fall victim to the cure darts. When the first wave falls, Magneto shields the rest of the Brotherhood from the soldiers attacks, then has Arclight use her shockwaves to destroy the guns. As the second wave of Brotherhood troops makes their way towards the facility, the X-Men arrive and Wolverine tells the soldiers to guard the doors as the X-Men move to hold the line. As the Brotherhood attack the X-Men, Callisto goes after Storm but she is able to knock her out. Magneto sends Juggernaut to kill Jimmy, while Arclight and Kid Omega go to deal with Worthington and Dr. Rao. Seeing Juggernaut bulldozing through the guards, Kitty goes inside to try and stop him, temporarily phasing him through the floor but Juggernaut is easily able to rip himself free and chase after her. Meanwhile, Arclight, Kid Omega, and another mutant corner Worthington and Rao and Kid Omega kills Rao as the other two grab Worthington and lead him towards the roof. Kitty reaches Jimmy’s room and tries to get him out of there, only to find her powers don’t work. Thinking quickly, she tells Jimmy to stay close to her and as Juggernaut bursts through the room and heads towards them, she quickly pushes Jimmy out of the way, causing Juggernaut to knock himself out on the wall. Meanwhile, Arclight, Kid Omega, and the other mutant have Worthington on the roof and push him off but he is rescued by Warren, who swoops down to grab his father and fly him to safety. Outside, Magneto joins the fight, using his powers to throw cars from the bridge at the X-Men, as Pyro lights them on fire. As the X-Men take shelter, they notice some of the cure darts nearby and Wolverine, Hank, and Storm silently come to a decision. Wolverine tells Bobby to deal with Pyro while Storm uses her powers to summon a fog to cover the other’s movements. Bobby and Pyro face off and Pyro appears to have the upper hand, beginning to burn Bobby alive but Bobby is able to transform his body to solid ice and knocks out Pyro. Meanwhile, Wolverine has Colossus throw him at Magneto but Magneto easily stops Wolverine and causes him to slide towards his feet. As Magneto mocks Wolverine for never learning, Wolverine tells him he did, just as Hank jumps down behind Magneto and stabs him with several doses of the cure. As Magneto reals from the fact that he is now human, he turns to Jean and warns her that this is the same fate they intend for her. Wolverine tries talking to Jean, telling her it is over, when the military’s reinforcements show up and suddenly start shooting at Jean. Phoenix regains control of Jean and uses her powers to stop the darts, then disintegrates the darts, as well as the soldiers who fired them. As Jean begins to destroy the entire island, Wolverine realizes his healing factor gives him the only chance at stopping Jean and tells Storm to get everyone off the island. As everyone evacuates, with Phoenix killing off Arclight, Kid Omega, and some of the others that were too late in getting away, Wolverine approaches her and tries to call out to Jean. Phoenix blasts Wolverine with her power, stripping away his flesh all the way down to the bone in some places, but he finally reaches her side. Jean manages to get control briefly and asks Wolverine to save her and he tells her that he loves her, then stabs her in the chest. Jean reacts to the wound, then gets a sad smile on her face as she dies and Wolverine cradles her body and cries out in grief. Some time later, things are starting to go back to normal at the mansion, with Storm taking over as headmaster of the school. Bobby finds that Rogue has returned and she apologizes but says she had to take the cure and he says he didn’t want that but she says she did as she is able to take his hand with no ill effects. As Storm is greeting a new class of students, Wolverine is watching a news report, where the President announces Hank as the new ambassador to the United Nations. In San Francisco, Warren is seen flying around the city and passes over a park, where Magneto sits at a chess table and as he gestures towards one of the pieces, it starts to wobble, indicating the cure might not be permanent after all. Elsewhere, Moira MacTaggert checks on a patient that has been comatose for years when the patient suddenly greets her in Xavier’s voice.
X-Men: The Last Stand met with mixed results from the critics, holding a 53% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “X-Men: The Last Stand provides plenty of mutant action for fans of the franchise, even if it does so at the expense of its predecessors’ deeper character moments.” Bryan Singer, who had directed the first two movies, has admitted to regretting his decision to decline from directing this movie in order to direct Superman Returns. Despite the mixed reviews from the critics, the movie was a success at the box office, earning $459.4 million off of a $210 million budget.
AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH. There are no words to describe my disappointment with this movie but I will try. The acting was decent, with the returning characters doing good jobs in their roles. I will say that I loved Kelsey Grammer as Beast, thinking he fit the role pretty well, but as much as I like Vinnie Jones, he was completely miscast as Juggernaut and gave us one of the worst lines to ever be put into memes. The story honestly felt a little disjointed, as it tried to have two major plots going, Jean’s Phoenix powers emerging and the whole fight over the cure, and in the attempt to try and give them equal merit, actually weakened both stories of some serious impact as these two stories could have made incredibly compelling movies on their own. I thought the story about the cure, especially how it played into Rogue and Bobby’s relationship, was really good. As for the Phoenix story, that was incredibly disappointing and honestly felt like a slap in the face to fanboy me. The special effects were pretty good and did have some good scenes, such as the Golden Gate bridge scene but special effects can accent a movie, but doesn’t necessarily make it a good movie. A disappointing end to a trilogy and a disappointing movie all around.
Rating: 2 out of 5