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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Brett Ratner
Cast:
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

Tagline:
Take a Stand.

Synopsis:
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:
Budget
$210 million.
Opening Weekend
$122.861 million on -unknown- screens.
Domestic Gross
$234.150 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.40:1
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 6.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Cantonese
Korean
Mandarin
Portuguese
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 104 min.
Price: $39.98
Release Date: 4/21/2009

Bonus:
• 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
• 24 Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• Trivia Track
• Trailers


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


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

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 21, 2009)

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 me 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 is examined in that review, 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 so much potential. Ultimately, it keeps us interested but it disappoints since it could have been much more than just the simple smash ‘em up it is.

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 Blu-ray Disc. Across the board, the movie offered a strong transfer.

Sharpness was quite good. Only a smidgen of softness ever crept into wider shots, but even that was minor; overall, the movie looked crisp and well-defined. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I noticed no edge enhancement. 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. Overall, this was a solid presentation.

I felt even more impressed by the excellent DTS-HD MA 6.1 audio of X-Men: The Last Stand. 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 and bass response seemed terrific. Really, I found a lot to like and virtually nothing to criticize from this superb soundtrack.

How do the picture and sound quality of this Blu-ray Disc compare with those of the prior DVD release? I think the audio is similar for both, especially since the DVD already offers an excellent DTS track; the lossless DTS-HD audio might be a wee bit stronger, but they’re very much alike.

I would guess that the Blu-ray simply ports over the same transfer created for the 2006 DVD. And that’s fine, as the image holds up well. Though the old release looks very good for a DVD, the Blu-ray adds a bit more definition and clarity to the package.

A few extras round out Stand, all of which already appeared on the DVD. 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.

In addition to the commentaries, we find a trivia track. This offers the standard mix of factoids about the production and the comics. It proves reasonably satisfying.

24 Deleted/Alternate Scenes fill a total of 19 minutes and 31 seconds. 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. 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 disc’s supplements. We get trailers for Stand as well as Fantastic Four, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and the 2001 Planet of the Apes.

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 Blu-ray provides solid 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.

To rate this film, visit the original review of X-MEN: THE LAST STAND

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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main