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Brett Ratner
Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Kelsey Grammer, Anna Paquin, Rebecca Romijn, Vinnie Jones, Shawn Ashmore, Ben Foster
Writing Credits:
Simon Kinberg, Zak Penn

Take a Stand.

After a controversial cure is discovered, mutants can choose to retain their superhuman abilities or give up their unique gifts and become normal. When peaceful mutant leader Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) clashes with his militant counterpart, Magneto (Ian McKellen), the battle lines are drawn for the war to end all wars. Bursting with nonstop action, spectacular special effects and exclusive extras, X-Men The Last Stand is a force of nature that will blow you away!

Box Office:
$210 million.
Opening Weekend
$122.861 million on -unknown- screens.
Domestic Gross
$234.150 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 2.40:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
English DTS 5.1 ES
Spanish Dolby 2.0
French Dolby 2.0

Runtime: 104 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 10/3/2006

• Audio Commentary with Director Brett Ratner and Writers Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn
• Audio Commentary with Producers Avi Arad, Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winter
• 13 Deleted/Alternate Scenes with Optional Commentary
• Trailers
• “First Glimpse of The Simpsons Movie”
• Previews


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 5, 2006)

Today’s definition of irony: I went to a movie in May 2006 that ran a trailer for the then-upcoming Superman Returns. A woman behind bemoaned that “Hollywood’s run out of ideas!” She stated this after she’d dropped her eight bucks to see X-Men: The Last Stand.

Whatever creativity Superman Returns offered will be examined another time, but now we’ll look at how well Stand expands on the X-Men franchise. The third iteration in the series looks at the continued tension between humans and mutants. A pharmaceutical company develops a “cure” for mutations and makes it available. This causes controversies as some mutants see this as nothing more than an attempt at genocide.

The Brotherhood, a group of disgruntled mutants headed by Magneto (Ian McKellen), pursues that view. On the other side of things, we find Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart), the MLK to Magneto’s Malcolm X. Xavier heads his “X-Men”, less radical mutants who don’t support the status quo but who avoid the Brotherhood’s violent attempts to follow their agenda.

Much of the movie follows the lead-up to their climactic confrontation connected to this “mutant cure”. A few character-related side issues also occur. The main one comes from the resurrection of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen). A telepath who died at the end of the last flick, she miraculously comes back to life. However, this isn’t the same Jean. Now known as Phoenix, the darker side of her personality dominates and makes the powerful mutant an exceedingly dangerous force. We see how Xavier and Magneto battle for Jean’s allegiance and soul, really, and also watch a few other personal issues along the way.

I liked both of the first two X-Men flicks, though neither impressed me tremendously. X2 was the better of the pair, mainly because it seemed more self-assured. It didn’t top the first film to a huge degree, though. Both remained enjoyable though short of classic status for the genre.

Some fans feared that Stand would offer a letdown, largely due to a change in director. While Bryan Singer led the first two flicks, he skipped Stand so he could helm Superman Returns. He turned the reins over to Brett Ratner. Best known for the Rush Hour films, this wasn’t a popular choice, and I understand why. Ratner favors cheap humor and recycled action in his work, neither of which inspires optimism in me.

Does Ratner treat Stand like another Rush Hour flick? Happily he doesn’t, though I can’t say he does much to bring a lot of personality to the movie. While he holds back his more annoying filmmaking tendencies, he doesn’t manage to create anything distinctive.

Perhaps he was overwhelmed by the scope of Stand. He got to concentrate on a couple of characters for the Rush Hour flicks, while an X-Men project requires a much broader focus. This movie brings back plenty of returning roles and adds a few new ones to the mix. That’s a lot to balance. Ratner keeps things moving reasonably well and balances the concerns acceptably well, but he does seem a bit overwhelmed. He can’t quite manage all the challenges well enough to do much more than keep things together on a basic level.

That leaves Stand as a fairly fun flick, but not one with much personality. Perhaps that’s as good as I can expect from Ratner; he’s competent at best but never inspired or impressive behind the camera. I appreciate the fact the Ratner is respectful of what came before him. He tries to ensure that Stand feels like it fits with the first two X-Men flicks; he doesn’t do a Joel Schumacher and attempt to put a dramatically different stamp on things.

Unfortunately, this means that Ratner lacks his own creative impression. Granted, given the fact that I’m not wild about his usual broadly comic overtones, it might be for the best that he tries to emulate Bryan Singer here. I still feel the movie lacks a great sense of personality, though.

Usually I criticize modern movies due to excessive length. Stand, on the other hand, could’ve used a good extra half an hour or so. The flick boasts an unusually complex storyline, with plenty of opportunities to explore moral and ethically issues. It doesn’t do so well, though, as it rushes through all the elements. The movie shortchanges the potential for depth. The subject of “the cure” is a really interesting one that just doesn’t receive the exploration it deserves.

Good action scenes redeem The Last Stand, and I do think the movie entertains. I might be too hard on the flick because it had to much potential. Ultimately, it keeps us interested but it disappoints since it could have been so much more than just a simple smash ‘em up.

Note: stick around through the finish of the end credits for a very intriguing coda.

The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A/ Bonus B

X-Men: The Last Stand appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Across the board, the DVD offered a strong transfer.

Sharpness was excellent. If any softness crept into the presentation, I didn’t notice it. The film was consistently crisp and well-defined. I detected some light jaggies and shimmering on occasion, but those were rare, and no edge enhancement appeared to mar the flick. Source flaws also remained absent.

Stand stayed with a subdued palette. Bright colors rarely cropped up, as it preferred a low-key setting. Within those parameters, the tones seemed accurate and well-delineated. Blacks were deep and firm, and low-light shots came across as clear and easy to discern. Only the modest jags and moiré effects caused me to lower my grade at all, as the movie always looked great.

I felt even more impressed by the excellent audio of X-Men: The Last Stand. The DVD featured both Dolby Digital EX 5.1 and DTS ES 6.1 soundtracks. The pair appeared very similar. I thought the DTS mix offered slightly tighter bass, but the variations weren’t substantial enough to produce different grades for the two tracks. Overall, they were much more alike than dissimilar.

The soundfield was consistently terrific. As expected, the movie’s many action scenes created the greatest impact. From flying objects to Storm’s weather manipulations to explosions and blasts, the soundfield used all five channels to excellent effect. The elements swarmed all around us and firmly placed us in the action.

Quieter scenes also worked well. These formed a nice sense of atmosphere, though they also produced some involving effects. For example, telepathic elements cropped up from all around the room. At all times, the mix used the different speakers to their full advantage.

Never did the quality of the audio disappoint. Effects remained concise and robust. They presented great dynamics and lacked any distortion or other problems. The score occasionally threatened to get buried under the onslaught of action effects, but the music managed to stay lively and bright nonetheless. Speech was crisp and distinctive. Bass response seemed terrific, especially in the slightly superior DTS mode. Really, I found a lot to like and virtually nothing to criticize from these superb soundtracks.

A few extras round out Stand. We open with two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from director Brett Ratner and writers Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They talk a lot about the characters and story issues. We hear about the integration of all the different mutants and related concerns along with other plot and script topics. In addition, we get some info about sets and locations, various effects and stunts, comic book allusions, and a few other production topics.

The three participants manage to make this a fairly entertaining track, if not one of the most informative discussions I’ve heard. A lot of joking occurs – probably too much, as it sometimes becomes tough to tell factual statements from comedic exaggerations. There’s also more praise than I’d like. Nonetheless, we get a decent amount of information in this genial and generally likable piece.

For the second commentary, we hear from producers Avi Arad, Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winter. All three sit together for their own running, screen-specific chat. They discover production basics like sets and locations, effects and visual concerns, cast and characters, and a mix of technical issues. All of these act as a satisfactory look at the flick, but none of them stand out as particularly memorable. Inevitably, some information repeats from the first commentary. However, since that one focused more on the story and script, the amount of duplication never becomes extreme. Ultimately, the producer track is acceptable but without much spark.

13 Deleted/Alternate Scenes fill a total of nine minutes and 46 seconds. All of them come anamorphic 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. As you can guess, none of them last very long; the one-minute and 40-second “Extended Fight Sequence at Jean Grey’s House” is the lengthiest clip. It’s also arguably the most interesting, as it adds some fun battle elements.

Of the three alternate endings, one with Rogue offers the most provocative change. We also get a tease in which Wolverine returns to Canada; it looks like it existed to prod along another flick. Most of the other scenes offer very minor changes or extensions, so don’t expect much from them. Heck, two of them are the same sequence; they only differ in that Magneto sports a beard in one but is clean-shaven in the other.

We can watch these with or without commentary from Ratner, Penn and Kinberg. They give us basic notes about the scenes and usually let us know why they cut the sequences. The commentary fills out matters well.

Promotional elements comprise the rest of the DVD’s supplements. We get two Stand trailers as well as ads for 24 season 5, Night at the Museum and fellow Marvel properties Elektra, Daredevil and Fantastic Four. A First Glimpse of The Simpsons Movie lasts 63 seconds and gives us a short storyreel from that upcoming flick.

The DVD opens with a few Previews. We find ads for Ice Age 2: The Meltdown and Thank You For Smoking

I think X-Men: The Last Stand offers the weakest of the three films in the series, and it suffers from some unnecessary flaws. That said, it still packs enough of a comic book bunch to entertain. It’s not a great movie, but it keeps us interested despite its misfires. The DVD provides excellent picture and audio as well as some decent extras highlighted by a pair of reasonably useful audio commentaries. This is the worst of the three X-Men movies but it has enough going for it to warrant a recommendation for the fans.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.7377 Stars Number of Votes: 61
18 3:
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