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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 



Movie memories, by Siraj Syed—X-Men-The Last Stand (2006): Fire and ice

Movie memories, by Siraj Syed—X-Men-The Last Stand (2006): Fire and ice

X-Men and X-Women in all their glory, with abilities that, together, are capable of almost anything, like battling forces of the government of the USA, and each other, in this threequel to X-Men (2000) and X-2 (2003). What would have been a trilogy, has continued into 2017.

Having three to four years in between the successive franchise films works for the project, even in later editions, though there was a spate during 2014-17. This one has a horizontal tripartite divide, pitching three groups at loggerheads with each other, leading to polarisation and a last stand, with no holds barred. Several key characters die in this film, but with up to fifty on the roster, the series can continue forever.

Worthington Labs announces it has developed an inoculation to suppress the X-gene that gives mutants their abilities and powers, and offer the "cure" to any mutant, who wants become a normal human being. The cure is developed from the gene of a young mutant named Jimmy, who has been kept at the Worthington facility on Alcatraz Island. While some mutants are interested in the cure, including the X-Men's Rogue and many others, many are horrified by the announcement. Lehnsherr re-establishes his Brotherhood of Mutants, with those who oppose the cure, warning his followers that the cure would be forcefully used to exterminate the mutant race unless they destroy the Lab and the genetic substance stored there.

With help from Pyro, Lehnsherr recruits Callisto and several other mutants. They attack the mobile prison transporting Mystique, to free her, also freeing Juggernaut and Multiple Man. Mystique saves Lehnsherr by shielding him from an injection bullet containing mutant cure shot by a guard of the convoy and aimed at him, rendering her human. Hateful of humans, Lehnsherr abandons Mystique, much to her shock. Meanwhile, Scott Summers, still distraught over the loss of his fiancée, Jean Grey, drives to her resting location, at Alkali Lake. Jean, surprisingly appears to Summers but, as the two kiss, Jean kills him (revealed later). Sensing trouble, Xavier sends Logan and Storm to investigate at the lake. When they arrive, they find only telekinetically floating rocks, Summers' glasses, and an unconscious Jean.

A Marvel Comics venture, X Men 3 is based on the comic-book characters created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, with screenplay by Simon Kinberg (State of the Union, Mr. and Mrs. Smith and several subsequent X Men outings) and Zak Penn (The Last Action Hero, PCU and later X Men films). The duo employs a recipe that includes major chills and chilli factors which keep you engaged. These include the scene wherein a mutant who was to undergo inoculation suddenly backs out and unfurls huge wings, before escaping to freedom. Also commendable is the extended climax, which begins with Multiple Man using his powers as a decoy to mislead government forces out to eliminate X Men. On the Jean/Phoenix track, the script becomes repetitive and illogical

VFX and animation are the obvious mainstays of any film in this realm, and they are of a high order. Brett Ratner (Rush Hour, Red Dragon, After the Sunset; followed by Rush Hour 3, Tower Heist) who took over at the last minute from Matthew Vaughn is a reputable producer too. He ensures that X-Men 3 is a high scale project that is thrilling for the better part the 104 minutes of screen-time. Two areas where he stutters slightly are the development of the Jean character, and the tendency to get carried away with special effects, as in the scene where Magneto throws off the vehicles in the convoy. In the climax, however, it is this very Magneto and his ‘super’ power that will have your adrenaline pumping.

Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine has the most significant role, coming into his own in the climax. Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier/Professor X dies in the film, a fact he was not aware of when he signed-on. His mysterious looks and typical diction, made more interesting by his wheelchair locomotion, will be missed.

Halle Berry makes a comely Ororo Munroe/Storm. Theatre and film veteran Ian McKellen as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto is the villain after a noble cause. His outfit, like that of a knight of 500 years ago, is odd, but he proves to be a good foil to Xavier. Famke Janssen as Jean Grey/Dark Phoenix is indeed a Phoenix like part. But like her role demands, she continues to look lost and blank most of the time. Kelsey Grammer as Dr. Henry "Hank" McCoy/Beast, Secretary of Mutant Affairs, had to spend three-hours getting his make-up put, and it has been put to great use. Shawn Ashmore as Bobby Drake /Iceman continues from where he left in X-Men 2. This time, he gets to use his power in the battle between fire and ice! Guess who wins!

Also in the cast are:

Aaron Stanford as John Allerdyce/Pyro

Ellen Page as Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat

Anna Paquin as Marie/Rogue

Daniel Cudmore as Piotr ‘Peter’ Rasputin/Colossus

James Marsden as Scott Summers/Cyclops (appears briefly in a few sense at the beginning).

Rebecca Romijn as Raven Darkhölme/Mystique (saves Xavier’s life but is abandoned when she loses her mutant abilities while doing so)

Vinnie Jones as Cain Marko/Juggernaut

Ben Foster as Warren Worthington III/Angel

Eric Dane as James Madrox/Multiple Man (scene stealer)

Dania Ramirez as Callisto

Michael Murphy as Warren Worthington II

Bill Duke as Secretary Trask

A couple of continuity problems do arise related to the franchise, and if you have seen the first two films, it will help. As a stand-alone film, it can still be thrilling and exciting. Marvel/X-Men aficionados cannot afford to miss this one.

(Reviewed from my DVD).

Rating: *** ½ 

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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