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X-MEN 3: THE LAST STAND

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The making of the 'X-Men' franchise has evolved a mythology of its own with enough drama, suspence, betrayl and twists and turns to do Stan Lee proud. When the first movie was released in 2000 with a cast of then mostly unknowns and an indie director it won over critics and audiences alike with an emotionally charged and intelligent story coupled with spectacular action sequences. Thus, a franchise was validated.

With 'X2: X-Men United'(2003) Director Bryan Singer and band served up a rare entity, a sequel that was in every respect superior to the original. 'X3' became one of the most awaited films of all times. Disaster struck first when director Bryan Singer and his band of writers who had singlehandedly given the pop mythology of 'X-men' vision, depth, panache and the X-factor bucked off to the far more prestigious 'Superman Returns'. There were reports of mass spontaneous fainting. Relief came in the form of Brit director Matthew Vaughn with a track record similar to that of Singer was brought on board. A few intelligent cast choices also helped soothe the nerves a bit. All seemed smooth and sunny for a while until Vaughn opted out. Pandemonium raged. What next? The project which had taken longer than expected to come together now again seemed to flounder.

That was when the studio got Brett Ratner on the job. Bret Ratner of the cheesy 'Rush Hour' series fame, the very man who had made Nic Cage seem icky in a diabetic contraption called 'Family Man'. A terrible fit of rage gripped the fan community. Message boards and blogs screamed out in disgust and betrayl. Voodoo rituals were conducted hoping for something unfortunate like a huge iron anvil to befall Ratner. Ratner's plea that he loved the series as much as anyone else were drowned by pure hate. The verdict was out much before the movie began to roll:- The franchise has been 'ruined' beyond all hope.

In retrospect, Ratner did the right thing. With tremendous grace under tremendous pressure he went ahead and made the movie. And as I type this review, wishing every two minutes into a blue hairy beast, I can declare that he has completely redeemed himself.

'X-Men 3: The Last Stand' is pure chaos. Walls and buildings come down, cars are smashed, bridges uprooted, armies wiped out. The emotional and moral dilemas that ran through the first two movies are mostly absent and when explored are at best awkward. Chracter development is bare minimum. With a panolpy of charaters like never before some beloved mutants are scarcely given enough screen time. The storyline stumbles and a few dialogues come out trademark Ratner cheesy.

One thing is certain- Ratner loved his comic books. With the brio of a 10 year old playing with action figures he hurtles his chracters without stopping for sense and plausability from spectacular action sequence to another. You can almost imagine him giddy with excitement making gushing and flushing noises from the corner of his lips. Being a sort of closure for the 'X-men' series Ratner's adrenalin infused style works wonderfully. At the end of the magnificently orchastrated mayhem of the climax where even Wolverine's moral dilemna is surprisingly effective, there is a palpable sense of closure and a kind of satisfaction creeps up on you. Ratner's movie is full-blooded where Singer was intelligent and a spectacle where Singer preffered the understated. 'X3' may lag behind 'X2' but is more enjoyable than the first installment.

And thus the 'X-men' franchise has been successfully closed. Period. There are of course talks of developing certain strands of the story into a fourth installment minus and plus a few existing mutants. A 5 second scene at the very end of the credits may testify to that. Besides, the Wolverine' spin-off is almost ready to roll.

But today, I'm happy man. I'd be happier still if I was huge, hairy and blue.

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