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PCR # 322  (Vol. 7, No. 21)  This edition is for the week of May 22--28, 2006.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"X-Men: The Last Stand"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Three stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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20th Century Fox     
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and Kelsey Grammer
Directed by: Brett Ratner
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 1 hour 44 mins

The last time we saw our favorite band of mutants they had just defeated bad guy William Stryker, albeit at the cost of losing one of their own. However, the ending of "X2" hinted at the resurrection of that character, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes. Hint, hint!

This latest adventure begins with a series of flashbacks, as Professor Charles Xavier (Stewart) and Eric Lensherr (McKellen) visit a young Jean Grey. We are also given a glimpse of a father (Michael Murphy) who discovers his son (Ben Foster) is "one of them." Jump ahead to the near distant future and the latest group of "students" are undergoing some intense battle testing. Running the course are Storm (Berry) and the always battle ready Wolverine (Jackman). Wolverine seems pleased with the action, often standing admiringly with a cigar in his mouth, reminding me of Hannibal Smith on "The A-team." Meanwhile, Dr. Hank McCoy (Grammer), a furry blue mutant who holds the position of Secretary of Mutant Affairs in the cabinet, learns that a scientist has developed a vaccine that will reverse the mutant gene, allowing those that wish to lose their power and become "normal." While Professor Xavier ponders the discovery, Lensherr (better known to X-Men fans as Magneto) is certain the vaccine will threaten him and his followers. Add a surprise return (did someone say Phoenix?) and you've got the makings for one heck of a wild ride.

Like the first two films in the series, "Last Stand" gives fans both their favorite returning characters as well as a few new ones. While Wolverine, Storm, Cyclops, Rogue and others are featured, new mutants, including Juggernaut and Beast (Grammer again) get their share of screen time. Having grown with the characters, Jackman, Berry and the others blend together seamlessly. Even the newer mutants stand out, especially Vinnie Jones as the aptly named Juggernaut. Grammer is fine as Beast, though his dialogue often makes one think of Dr. Frasier Crane. A big, furry blue Frasier Crane. Stewart and McKellen, both classically trained actors, have also made their characters their own and they do some of the best work in the film.

Much was made when Bryan Singer, who directed the first two "X-Men" films, left the series to helm the upcoming "Superman Returns." Fans were upset at the choice of Ratner, who was better known for his comic touch with the "Rush Hour" films. They needn't worry. With "Last Stand," Ratner proves himself quite capable of pulling off an action film. The action is non stop and the special effects jaw dropping, with a scene involving San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge an incredible highlight. Though an upcoming "Wolverine" film is in the works, the possibility of a fourth X-Men film is also hinted at (I urge you to stay through the end credits). As long as they keep making them like this, I can't wait to see it.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "X-Men: The Last Stand"  Three stars

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This week's movie review of "X-Men: The Last Stand" is ©2006 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2006, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.