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X-Men: The Last Stand


Review

X-Men: The Last Stand (also known as X-Men 3 or X3) is a 2006 superhero film and the third in the X-Men series. It is directed by Brett Ratner, who took over when Bryan Singer dropped out to direct Superman Returns. The movie revolves around a “mutant cure” that causes serious repercussions among mutants and humans, and on the mysterious resurrection of Jean Grey, who appeared to have died in X2. The film is loosely based on two X-Men comic book story arcs: writer Chris Claremont’s and artist John Byrne’s “Dark Phoenix Saga” in The Uncanny X-Men and writer Joss Whedon’s and artist John Cassaday’s six-issue “Gifted” arc in Astonishing X-Men.

The film was released on May 26, 2006 in the United States and Canada. Despite mixed reviews from critics and fans, the film performed very well at the box office. Its opening-day gross of $45.5 million is the fourth-highest on record while its opening weekend gross of $103 million is the fifth highest ever.

Plot

The film opens 20 years earlier with Magneto and Professor Charles Xavier visiting a young Jean Grey where they convince her parents to let her join Xavier’s School: however, the pair seem wary of her potentially great power. Ten years later, a boy named Warren Worthington III is shown scratching his back with knives, after his father Warren Worthington II finds him, it’s revealed that he had wings on his back. In the present, Xavier worries about Cyclops, who is still heartbroken about the loss of Jean Grey. Mystique is captured by government agents while trying to steal confidential files for Magneto, leading Hank “Beast” McCoy to discover that a mutant cure has been invented from the DNA of a mutant boy called Jimmy, who is being held in a facility in Alcatraz Island.

Cyclops returns to Alkali Lake, where Jean appears to him. Jean wants to see Scott’s eyes and manages to control the laser shots, for the first time, Scott’s eyes can be seen perfectly. As they kiss, she appears to kill Cyclops. Sensing trouble, Xavier sends Wolverine and Storm to investigate but when they arrive they encounter telekinetically floating rocks, Cyclops’ glasses, and an unconscious Jean. Meanwhile, Magneto ambushes a military transport and frees Mystique, Juggernaut, and Multiple Man. Mystique blocks a shot of the mutant cure aimed at Magneto, losing her mutant ability and being abandoned by Magneto, who sadly states she is no longer one of them.

Back at the mansion, Xavier explains to Wolverine that when Jean was a little girl, she was so powerful that he had to put telepathic blocks on her mind to help keep her powers under control. Her bottled up powers manifested themselves as an alternate personality called the Phoenix — a purely instinctual creature, ruled only by its own violent desires. Initially skeptical, Wolverine becomes more convinced when Jean reawakens, as she is extremely aggressive sexually and tries to seduce him. Realizing he is facing the Phoenix, he asks Jean about Cyclops, but she cannot remember and fears she killed him. Jean pleads with Wolverine to kill her before she harms anybody else, but when he refuses and offers to have Xavier help her, the Phoenix surfaces and Jean flees to her childhood home, with Xavier, Wolverine and Storm in pursuit. Magneto, also aware that Jean’s powers are loose, meets Xavier at Jean’s house. The two men plead for Jean’s loyalty until the Phoenix resurfaces, unleashing her devastating power. Furious at being caged within Jean’s subconscious for twenty years, the Phoenix lifts and destroys her family’s house and engages in a psychic battle with Xavier whom she overpowers and telekinetically tears apart before leaving with Magneto.

Following the losses of Xavier and Cyclops, Xavier’s students are left despondent and overcome by his death. Rogue leaves to take the cure after seeing her boyfriend, Iceman, ice-skating with Kitty Pryde. Wolverine leaves the school to find Jean and finds out that Magneto and his army plan to attack Alcatraz and goes back to the school, leading the X-Men to assemble and head there. Meanwhile, the troops guarding Alcatraz are armed with cure weapons while Magneto moves the Golden Gate Bridge to allow his army to reach the island.

The Brotherhood’s first charge is ineffective and the first wave of mutants are hit with the cure cartridges and overpowered: Magneto initially tries to magnetically destroy the weapons, but fails with the words:”Plastic. They’ve learned”. However, Magneto’s minion Arclight is able to take out the cure weapons, leaving the soldiers defenseless. The X-Men arrive as another attack is about to begin, and while they confront the Brotherhood, Kitty Pryde goes inside the facility to save Jimmy, cleverly defeating Juggernaut in the process. Near the end of the battle, Iceman and Pyro have a one-on-one showdown. During that battle, Iceman finally transforms his body into organic ice, which gave him the form of his counterpart in the comics. As Pyro gains the upper hand, saying, “You’re in over your head, Bobby. Maybe you should go back to school.”

Iceman stands up and headbutts him in the face, knocking him out, and retorts, “You never should have left.”

With the help of Colossus, Wolverine distracts Magneto to enable Beast to inject him with the mutant cure.Afterwards, he tries to convince Jean to use her powers by stating “This is what they want for all of us.” After this, Wolverine nearly coaxes Jean back to sanity; however, the soldiers arriving to reinforce Alcatraz fire upon Jean and the X-Men. The Phoenix quickly resurfaces and, in her rage, begins to destroy everything and everyone around her, unleashing her abilities with such power and fury that she can disintegrate matter at will. While the X-Men, soldiers and the remnants of the Brotherhood flee from the terrible wrath of the Phoenix, Wolverine tells Storm that only he can stop her, and instructs her to lead everyone away safely. Wolverine fights his way to Jean, relying upon his healing abilities to save himself from her destructive power. When he reaches her, the Phoenix coldly sneers at Wolverine being willing to die for the others, to which he retorts that he would only die for her. Momentarily stunned at this reply, Jean regains control of herself and begs him to save her. Wolverine confesses his love for Jean, and reluctantly kills her thereby ending the wrath of the Phoenix.

Despite the X-Men’s losses, life goes on. The school continues without Xavier, with Storm now as leader; the President appoints Beast as the United States ambassador to the United Nations; Rogue returns, telling Iceman she has taken the “cure.” While Iceman says that wasn’t what he wanted, Rogue replies it was what she wanted; and the underpowered Magneto sits at a chessboard in a yard and reaches out toward a metal chess piece that moves slightly, indicating that the mutant cure may inadvertently be temporary.

In a scene following the credits, Dr. Moira MacTaggert checks on a comatose patient who greets her with Xavier’s voice. This is a reference to a statement Xavier made earlier on in the film while teaching a class, where he discussed the ethics of transferring one’s consciousness into the body of another, who, in this case, had no consciousness to speak of, although all organs and circulation were functioning normally. Shock is displayed on Moira’s face as she whispers, “Charles?”

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