August 15, 2012

Queer Review: X-Men 3: The Last Stand (2006)

X-Men: The Last Stand
Director: Brett Ratner
Writers: Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Anna Paquin, Kelsey Grammer, James Marsden, Rebecca Romijn, Shawn Ashmore, Aaron Stanford, Vinnie Jones, Ellen Page, Daniel Cudmore, Ben Foster

If it was not for the presence of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, this would easily be the weakest of all the X-Men movies released to date. As it is, it is currently tied for last place. Bad writing, too many characters, and the elimination of any potentially interesting queer subtexts, all cause this movie to lack the gumption to take any stand at all.

When a cure for the mutant gene is found, some mutants such as Rogue (Ann Paquin) are overjoyed, while thers are more cautious. However, Magneto (Ian McKellen) views this as a threat to all mutant kind and decides to declare open war against the human race. While this is going on, Jean Grey, who was believed to have died at the end of X2: X-Men United, has been reborn as the Phoenix, a dangerous creature capable of immeasurable destruction.

The Queering
One of the more enjoyable aspects of the X-Men movies has always been the presence of a very definable queer subtext. The mutants, by their very nature, are different from normal humans and their mutations cause the rest of the population to fear and hate them. Thus, the X-Men films have always been allegories about the dangers of prejudice.

In X-Men: The Last Stand though, a major plot point revolves around a "cure" for mutation that was developed by a pharmaceutical company. The problem with this is that there is no parallel that can be made with queer sexuality. In the real world, the only person who would give serious consideration to such an option would be an ex-gay pusher or the self hater.

Not that I want to turn this into a political polemic or anything but to be honest, I find the idea that this would even be considered a possible subtext for being queer absolutely offensive. The suicide rate for teenagers who have been forced into ex-gay therapies is staggering.

Then there are the artistic qualities of the film itself, or rather the lack thereof. The main problem is that there are too many new mutants running around, along with beefed up rolls for those who had little more than cameos the first time around. Therefore, no one having enough screen time to really make much of an impact. Character development, never among the series strong suit, has taken a nose dive for the worse.

As for the threadbare plot, it basically amounts to a scattered build up, followed by a dramatically void climax. As the X-Men's last stand, this is not a send off to get excited about. Audiences were understandably disappointed by what Brett Ratner offered up here compared to what had been accomplished under the direction of Bryan Singer in the first two X-Men films.

For die hard X-Men fans only. Everyone else is advised to take a stand elsewhere.

The Rating
** out of ****


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