X-Men: The Last Stand

Right behind Da Vinci Code for highly entertaining, light summer fare.

By the government's finding the cure for the mutant strain in X-Men: The Last Stand, the death knell has rung for the tripartite series inspired by the comic book series. What more can I say? Society might be considered better if, for instance, there were no "mutant" gays or power hungry politicians, or at least that's what some would say about the mixed blessing. Thus there is no future for this franchise, or not?

Director Bryan Singer, going to Superman Returns for later this summer, gave the final franchise installment to Bret Ratner, whose action sequences are first-rate but whose subtlety is less sure. Set in the near future, X-Men III brings the mutants together, from the benign Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and the nefarious Magneto (Sir Ian McKellen) to the edgy Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and atmospherically beautiful Storm (Halle Barry) to decide if a cure is a good or bad thing. Having fire or ice come out of your hands isn't bad, but when you are so powerful that you kill your boyfriend with a touch, reconsideration of the benefits is badly needed.

The newer X-Men comic books reflect Joss Whedon's genius by relying heavily on the allegorical elements that make alternative life styles and George Bush come to mind without much work. As successful as the multiple-approaches are for literary sleuths like me, they are not dealt with deeply enough because the American obsession with graphics almost always trumps the themes. In this case, some interaction between mutants and the general populace on a daily basis might have created a better sense of the complicated, ambivalent conundrum facing those who give and take the cure.

But this is summer, and X-Men: The Last Stand stands tall with MI-3 and right behind Da Vinci Code for highly entertaining, light fare that occasionally rips itself from special effects to entertain philosophies European cinema takes for granted.

But do be uncharacteristically American and sit through the very last shot and the credits to see if the future of X-Men can be finally predicted, The Last Stand notwithstanding.