X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Drama / Science Fiction
Fox || PG13 - 104 minutes - $34.98 || April 21, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-05-05


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Brett Ratner
Writer(s): Simon Kinberg & Zak Penn (written by)
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Kelsey Grammer, James Marsden, Rebecca Romijn, Shawn Ashmore, Aaron Sanford, Vinnie Jones


Theatrical Release Date: May 26, 2006


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • 2 Feature Commentaries
  • 7 Featurettes
  • 7 Vignettes
  • Blogs
  • Previz Animatics
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Galleries
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • BD-Live


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 6.1), English (Dolby Digital EX 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Korean, Portuguese, Cantonese, Mandarin

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.::THE FILM::.

It’s been a few years since I last saw X-Men: The Last Stand and while the movie is entertaining and all, it never could live up to the high ideals that X2: X-Men United set. It didn’t help that director Bryan Singer left taking his talented writing crew with him to do Superman Returns but one has to wonder when you get movies like an X2, Spider-Man 2 or, most recently, The Dark Knight, how something with so much potential could squander it? I have nothing against Brett Ratner, in fact I think he’s a capable enough director (see: Red Dragon), but an action movie director he is not.

In any case, when you pull back the curtain you get a movie with mildly entertaining story and semi-energetic action sequences with little at its core in terms of a soul save for a moment here and there, especially near the end. I’m not asking for Oscar-caliber writing or acting here, but give me something or someone to care about. X2 set it all up, it should’ve been a grand slam and instead it was more like a sacrifice hit so that one more run could be scored. In spite of having three years for this movie to come out, The Last Stand felt more like a lazy movie with untapped potential.

I have provided here my original theatrical review of X-Men: The Last Stand. Some edits have been made for space.

ORIGINAL REVIEW:
"They will force their cure upon us. There is only one question you must answer: Who will you stand with?"

It was only three years ago that X2: X-Men United stormed movie complexes and wowed even the non-X fans such as myself. The imagination was endless with everything Singer and company set up for the third and (supposedly) final chapter in the X-Men saga. The death of Jean Grey; Magneto taking away one of the "X-Men"; and so many other possibilities. I had high hopes X-Men: The Last Stand would deliver despite the departure of Bryan Singer... unfortunately it seems Singer took the heart and soul of the previous installments with him to the Superman Returns. And that's the core problem with X3. This third entry doesn't feel like the other two and worse yet, is void of the fun, humor and soul of X2 (and even the original).

X-Men: The Last Stand takes place in the "not so distant future" as the mutant heroes try to move on from the loss of Jean after her heroic sacrifice to save the team. However, Cyclops (James Marsden) has not given up after hearing her calls for help in his head. At the dam where she "died", he finds his beloved alive but not so well underneath. At the X-mansion, Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) admits that when he (and, at the time, good guy Magneto) recruited Jean to attend his school for the gifted, she possesses a split personality, one good and able to control her power, the other one that could not.

After Jean's dormant personality (known as the Phoenix) has taken over, she joins up with Magneto's ever growing mutant army bent on stopping a pharmaceutical company -- run by Warren Worthington II (Michael Murphy) in an attempt to help his son, nicknamed Angel (Ben Foster) -- from distributing a "cure" that suppresses/eliminates the mutant gene, making the former mutant, human again.

Magneto's core group also include the return of the sexy Mystique (Rebecca Romijn), former X'er Pyro (Aaron Stanford) as well as some new mutant blood and powers like powerhouse Juggernaut (Vinnie Jones), "Flash"-like Callisto (Dania Eamirez) and Spike (Lance Gibson) who can take down opponents by, well, extracting spikes through his head.

Other "X-Men" also return to help stop Magneto. Outside of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Storm (Halle Berry) and the Professor, minor/mid-major mutants come into the mix to fight including Rogue (Anna Paquin), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), Kitty (Ellen Page) and Colossus (Daniel Sudmore) as well as Dr. Hank McCoy a.k.a. Beast (Kelsey Grammer), head of Mutant Relations in the President's cabinet (note: this administration is more accepting of the mutant population).

As stated before, the biggest fault with The Last Stand is it lacks a certain heart and instead of such, it's replaced with a story that comes across more hollow or a shell than anything of substance. Now, I can appreciate it as a popcorn summer blockbuster, but with X2 setting the standards so high, I cannot and will not accept it as anything other than an underwhelming sequel.

Who's at fault? I don't want to blame Brett Ratner as his previous films, though nothing great, was still decent. But, I can't ignore some editing and pacing problems aggregated with a story lacking much needed character development not only for the new mutants, but also the established ones. Where's the emotional turmoil that eats up at Logan over Jean? Where's the agony over the events that befall the "X-Men"? Frankly, I didn't see any and while it's easy to condemn the writers, the focus goes back to the director whose job is to get the most out of his actors, and unfortunately he failed.

On the plus side of things, despite some cheesy dialogue and below-average character and story development, stars Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry and Ian McKellen turn in good performances saving the film from mediocrity. If there was any weight lost when Singer left, at least these actors provides some stability to the picture. Also adding to the movie were Vinnie Jones (Juggernaut was easily my favorite character of the bunch this time around), Shawn Ashmore (he gets much more screen time than the first two combined) and Kelsey Grammer (who benefits from being a strong stage actor).

!!MINOR SPOILER WARNING!!

Missing from the picture (making more of a token cameo) was James Marsden as Cyclops. Marsden appears maybe for five minutes and even then, barely has any lines. It could be because he changed sides, working on Singer's Superman Returns, but the fact Cyclops has never really gotten any good development thus far in this franchise is pretty sad.

!!END SPOILER WARNING!!

I will say up front that since it's easier to criticize a movie than to praise one (especially one you mrely like versus love), it may sound like I disliked the movie, on the contrary, I did enjoy it overall. The special effects are great (though today, one expects no less for a high budgeted flick), the acting is at least passable and the core story is interesting, if not starting to stale. All in all, X-Men: The Last Stand is an entertaining movie, just one that takes a step back from its predecessor.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

As far as I can tell, all of these features were ported over from the various DVD releases, though I think most of the second disc’s contents might be making its debut in the States.

DISC 1:
Disc one starts out with two feature commentaries, the first with Director Brett Ratner and Screenwriters Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn and the second featuring Producers Avi Arad, Lauren Schuler Donner and Ralph Winter.

Next up are all 24 deleted scenes (19:02) with optional commentary with Ratner, Kinberg and Penn. Apparently only a number of the initial DVD releases of X-Men: The Last Stand contained all 24 scenes while others only had 13. Nothing in these stand out too much but there were a couple that I think would be great to include if Fox ever decides to release an “Extended Cut”...

There is also Marvel Universe Trailers (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X2: X-Men United, Daredevil and Fantastic Four) and BD-Live ** Blu-ray Exclusive ** where you can buy tickets for Wolverine and can then watch a scene from the movie. There is also an Enhanced D-Box Motion Control System for those with the appropriate equipment. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

DISC 2:
Brett Ratner’s Production Diary (41:21) is usually a staple on any of his DVDs and this one is basically a look at behind-the-scenes filming of X-Men: The Last Stand with a basic camera. We get to see both actual filming and rehearsals with Ratner directing the actors.

X-Men: Evolution of a Trilogy (44:58) – This featurette/documentary is almost a long Cliff’s Notes of the three movies going through each film with the growth of some of the character across the films. Featuring interviews/sound bites with the cast and crew talking about their characters and about each other.

X3: The Excitement Continues (21:16) is a ‘making-of’ featurette re-introducing us to the returning cast and the newcomers including director Brett Ratner. It features more interviews with the cast and crew commenting on how the third movie evolved from X2 and what Ratner brought to the project (supposedly more emotion according to one producer... yeah, OK).

X-Men Up Close – You can check out Wikipedia-like info on each of all the characters and find out various things such as their powers, history and pics. It also includes short clips for each from the actors.

Anatomy of a Scene: Golden Gate Bridge (12:03) goes through the complexities of putting together of the major action sequences from the film.

General X: Comic Book History (68:32) is an amazing and very extensive look at the “X-Men” comic book, how it began and how it eventually found success later down the road. This massive documentary features various artists and writers at Marvel who worked on the book over the years. I could be wrong, but I think this was originally available (in the States) as a part of a bonus DVD at Wal-Mart. THIS is why Marvel DVDs/BDs will always dominate over anything Warner/DC Comics will ever release...

Fox Movie Channel Presents: Life After Film School (26:14) and Casting Session (10:05) – The “Film School” featurette has three film students asking questions of producer Ralph Winter about the Hollywood process while “Casting Session” covers the, well, casting of the film and how important it is to make a good movie.

Vignettes (27:05) – There are seven short featurettes covering various topics: “Prophecies”, “X-Men Politics”, “Clothing vs. Costume”, “Make-Up Chair Confessions”, “Weapons of Choice”, “On Set Effects” and “Learning to Fly”. This is a good collection of featurettes that gives some insight into the making of X-Men 3.

Finally we get a few blogs (14:17) used to tease the fanboys, 20 Previz Animatics (25:45), a few galleries and 3 trailers.

DISC 3:
Our good friend, the digital copy awaits us on the third disc.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

This is actually the second Blu-ray release of X-Men: The Last Stand but having not owned that version, I couldn’t tell you if the audio or picture is any different (probably not). But as for the video on this release, it does look very good though I did tend to notice a couple dust marks every so often, but not enough that it was distracting. Other than that, the picture was fairly sharp, skin tones looked about right and the black levels were good. It’s not a pristine video presentation, but still quite good overall. The movie is presented in its OAR of 2.40, in 1080p HD and on a 50GB Blu-ray disc.

The original DVD release sported a DTS ES 6.1 track so it should come to no surprise that the 6.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track sounds amazing with rich crisp sound that isn’t overwhelming (i.e. just loud) but instead encompassed the entire room evenly. The climatic action scene at the end, not to mention John Powell’s score, sounds great.



.::OVERALL::.

X-Men: The Last Stand closes out the trilogy with more of whimper than a bang, but man oh man, this Blu-ray is jammed pack with some of the best bonuses I’ve seen in a while and a fantastic audio quality with above average video as well, it’s only a shame the movie didn’t live up to these heights.