Tuesday, May 23, 2006

X-Men: The Last Stand -- Is Ratner the Right Guy for the Job?

Speaking of movies adapted from comic books (you mean Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code isn't a comic book?), my latest reviewing assignment takes me to tonight's screening of X-Men: The Last Stand.

It's the third installment in the superhero movie franchise that began quite impressively six years ago with X-Men, directed by New York City-born Brian Singer (The Usual Suspects, Apt Pupil).

Singer went on to direct the similarly engaging X2, released in 2003, but this time around he opted to grab the forthcoming Superman Returns and its sequel rather than hang with Wolverine, Storm, Magneto and the rest.

So the directing chores went to ... Miami Beach native Brett Ratner, whose credits include the Rush Hour movies and Family Man. The early reviews have been mixed.

New York magazine's David Edelstein calls the film "a fast and enjoyable B-movie" while Variety critic Justin Chang writes, "though it delivers only in fits and starts, is still sharper and more inventive than most comicbook-adapted fare, and eventually gets the job done as far as action buffs are concerned." See the rest of Chang's review here.

Dennis Lim, in his review for the Village Voice, decides that "the third and supposedly final entry in the X-Men mega-franchise suggests that some movies—or at any rate some formulas—are not just critic-proof, they might even be director-proof."

Hollywood Reporter critic Michael Rechtshaffen sounds underwhelmed: "While the setup, with its underlying themes of sexual identity and alienation more pronounced than ever, is intriguing enough, 'Last Stand' is more concerned about getting to the next special effects sequence than it is about tapping into those relevant undercurrents." The full review is here.

Nev Pierce, of BBCi, had this to say in his review: "This sequel is tidy but uninspiring, despite a storyline which deals with the invention of a controversial 'cure' for mutant-kind."

Louise Keller, of the Australian movie site Urban Cinefile, reported that she was left a little cold by the goings-on in Ratner's movie: "The stunts are non-stop and we marvel at them all. Yet the heart of this third film about the mutant Marvel comic characters is overtaken by splashy effects. That's not to say I didn't enjoy director Brett Ratner's showy, visual style, but emotionally, I felt a little like Anna Paquin's Rogue, unable to touch the characters I love." Her full review is here.

Ratner doesn't strike me as an inspired choice to helm the X-Men finale, er, purported finale. But I'll reserve judgment until I've actually seen the movie.

1 comment:

Doc said...

I actually thought that it was pretty good for what it was-- a comic book movie. I was a comic reader as a kid, and it spoke to me in that it made use of several of the plot-lines from the classic comics. I love seeing a big screen version of the Dark Phoenix Saga.... One question-- in the Danger Room, they fight a foe that does not even EXIST yet. How does THAT work? Yes, I know-- the very asking of that question means that I need to get a life.