A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that X-Men: The Last Stand includes comic-bookish violence: characters are repeatedly stabbed, shot, smashed, and variously injured (bloody gashes on faces or bodies, some -- on Wolverine -- healing themselves immediately), thrown against or through walls, exploded, burned, and frozen. Vehicles and buildings explode with fiery booms, the Golden Gate Bridge is lifted and crashed into Alcatraz Island, with violent shaking of humans driving on it. Human military units shoot weapons loaded with cure-bearing darts. In a flashback, a young boy tries to cut his wings off, causing bloody wounds. A passionate kiss leads to one character's death (off-screen), another passionate embrace leads to a violent clash. Mystique's blue suit looks painted on.
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What's the story?
In X-MEN: THE LAST STAND, the third film of the series, Warren Worthington II (Michael Murphy), whose son is the magnificently bewinged Angel (Ben Foster), develops a genetic "cure" for mutantism. Pressured by his father to take the injection that will make him "fit in," Angel resists. While Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and the X-Men only want to be accepted for who they are, the grand Magneto (Ian McKellen) declares his opposition to the humans' puny plan. He gathers together an army of angry mutants, including "the Beast" (Kelsey Grammer), pin-bodied Kid Omega (Ken Leung) and punky speed-demon Callisto (Dania Ramirez), who agree to fight not only the U.S. government, but also the X-Men, who now number six. The struggle between the two bands of mutants is laid out in the story of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), who returns as Phoenix, a Class Five mutant capable of all kinds of destruction. Phoenix's love interests, Cyclops (James Marsden) and Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), battle over her, as do Professor X and Magneto, because whoever controls this most powerful "creature" will run the world. Soon, Homeland Security is worrying about the mutants' threat and Magneto is making underground videotapes to disseminate dire warnings against his opponents.
Is it any good?
Full of comic book action, rudimentary passion, and fiery tragedy, this third entry in the film franchise is also unfocused. Tying together a number of dangling plot strands, dropping in a couple of additional themes, and introducing new X-Men, X-Men: The Last Stand isn't as quirky and endearing as the first two, though it does deliver the usual family melodrama and sensational finale.
The plot has never been this franchise's strong suit. Rather, the X-Men films delight in quirky, complicated, flamboyant characters, sometimes subversively funny, sometimes outrageously desirous. As Mystique (Rebecca Romijn) goes missing in the early part of the film, the next closest fun freaks are the thudding Juggernaut (Vinnie Jones) and the charming, coming-into-her-own Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page). But their appearances are brief, as the film is crowded with other characters and plots, such that its end -- yet another celebration of diversity that remains at risk -- only seems like more of the same.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the theme of friendship and group unity in X-Men: The Last Stand, as well as the celebration of difference. The X-Men look after one another even when they are accused of being afflicted with a "disease" and offered a "cure." How do the X-Men challenge conformity and encourage creativity, even as they learn discipline and good manners at school?
How do the several generations of X-Men come together to form an alternative, supportive family?
How does this movie compare to other X-Men stories?
- In theaters: May 26, 2006
- On DVD or streaming: October 3, 2006
- Cast: Famke Janssen, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen
- Director: Brett Ratner
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes
- Run time: 104 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of action violence, some sexual content and language.
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