Reviewed by: Michael Karounos
What’s wrong with being gay? Answer
Homosexual behavior versus the Bible: Are people born gay? Does homosexuality harm anyone? Is it anyone’s business? Are homosexual and heterosexual relationships equally valid?
What about gays needs to change? Answer
It may not be what you think.
Can a gay or lesbian person go to heaven? Answer
If a homosexual accepts Jesus into his heart, but does not want to change his lifestyle, can he/she still go to Heaven?
What should be the attitude of the church toward homosexuals and homosexuality? Answer
Read stories about those who have struggled with homosexuality
Christian ministry to ex-gays: exodus.to
Family Research Council article on the supposed gay gene
Catholic article on the gay science supposedly supporting the gay gene theory
|Featuring||Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Ian McKellen, Anna Paquin, Rebecca Romijn, Kelsey Grammer, Ben Foster, Ellen Page, aka Elliot Page, Bill Duke, Olivia Williams, Daniel Cudmore, Shawn Ashmore, Vinnie Jones, Aaron Stanford, Cameron Bright, Michael Murphy, Kate Nauta, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Mei Melancon|
|Producer||Avi Arad, Lauren Shuler Donner, Ralph Winter|
|Distributor||Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation|
“Take a Stand”
The plot of “X-Men: The Last Stand” repeats the conflict of the first two movies in which the mutants are divided into pro-human and anti-human camps. The catalyst for the conflict is the creation of a new drug which alters the mutant gene and transforms the mutant into a “normal” person. The sub-plots focus on Cyclop’s inconsolable loss of Jean, Rogue’s inability to cope with the distance her power places between her and Bobby, and Wolverine’s unrequited love for Jean. Additionally, there is an interesting twist between Magneto and Mystique that reinforces this theme of relationships, what bonds them, and what breaks them.
Professor Xavier’s team acquires new characters like the Beast (Kelsey Grammer) and Angel (Ben Foster), while Magneto picks up a prickly mutant (Luke Pohl), and my favorite, Multiple Man (Eric Dane), who has the power to replicate himself. Dane’s engaging smile and well-delivered lines enables him to do more with less material than almost any actor in the film. However, Ellen Page, aka Elliot Page, as Kitty Pryde, the girl who can pass through matter, steals nearly every one of her scenes. She manages to project a strength that is simultaneously intelligent, vulnerable, and yet innocent, an impressive feat for a young actor. She’s one to watch for in the future.
The story follows Magneto and his bunch as they gather mutants and attack the Island of Alcatraz, the former prison which has been turned into a facility to manufacture the anti-mutant serum from Leech’s blood. Leech (Cameron Bright), whose power is to negate the power of other mutants, is kept in a clinically pristine room where he sits on the linoleum floor and plays video games. Bright infuses his acting with the same tortured quality that Haley Joel Osment brought to the “The Sixth Sense” and also turns in a strong performance in comparatively little screen time.
The movie makes much of Jean, now Phoenix, as being the final stage in the evolution of mankind. Magneto calls her “A goddess!” and she may very well be the sacred feminine that “The Da Vinci Code” misplaced. Arguably, however, it is Leech who is the last mutant because his mutation negates all other mutations. His pre-eminent quality is one of kindness and it raises the profound question that the matter of difference, of mutation, which each of the movies constructs as a metaphor for racial and sexual identity, is internal and not external. To quote Martin Luther King, the movie seems to suggest that one’s identity does not depend on the (blue) color of one’s skin, but on the content of one’s character. Hence, the issue of whether to remain a mutant or to become fully human, and to whom one owes one’s allegiance once such a change takes place, has more to do with inner values like justice and love, than with external distinctions like color and the desire for power.
One of the greatest flaws in the movie is how it dispatches with a major character. If one assumes that this is the last movie in the franchise, than the death of the character is strangely dismissive. I have no special knowledge, but the character’s death is so counter to film convention which demands that such moments are played for maximum emotion (as another is played later in the film), that I believe the character will be found alive in a sequel. Unlikely, but it’s the only rationale that would explain such a strange disappearance.
Another fault is the prolonged sequence with the Golden Gate Bridge, a silly and extended piece of CGI trickery which probably cost a fortune to make and contributes absolutely nothing to the excitement, to the story, or to any character. The movie was 30 minutes shorter than the other two probably because special effects ate up so much of the budget. Ratner and the writers should have spent that time and money constructing backstory for the new mutants who basically have cameo roles (Angel) or wooden parts (The Beast).
The Beast, unlike Aslan, is a tame Beast and is not quite convincing as either a scientist or a scary creature. He’s pretty much blue and strong and punches hard. The writers miss the point in their portrayal of the Beast even though they try to copy the comic book version. He is called the Beast because of the contrast between his intellectual and subliminal natures. As Xavier remarks of Jean, “I’m trying to restore the psychic blocks and cage the beast within.” This is the universal commonality between mutants and humans, between people of different cultural backgrounds. We can either let our reason form the basis of our relationships, or let our ids fight it out. Xavier’s group represents the first solution; Magneto, in his Nitzschean drive for power, prefers the latter, the “oberman” solution.
Likewise, the conclusion of the fight between Iceman and Pyro is anti-climactic, as is that between Wolverine and a mutant who can regenerate limbs. In those instances, the movie settles for juvenile humor in moments where an imaginative darkness would be more appropriate to the material. One example of a convincing scene is the fight Wolverine has with a mutant who throws darts. It’s not as good or as long as his fight in the second movie, but it has the proper serious tone. Chopping people’s limbs off is not funny, and in this scene the intent of the two mutants to kill one another shows a serious and adult understanding. Violence should never be portrayed casually, flippantly, insensitively, or gratuitously. Violence is sometimes necessary; it is never funny.
As alluded to above, the film’s principle weakness is that the writers injected more exposition than backstory. There are several overt references to race and a number of covert references to homosexuality. At one point the Professor portentously says to the “colored” Storm: “Things are better out there. But you of all people know how fast they can change.” Later, the “colored” Mystique refuses to respond to a question because, she indignantly claims, “I don’t answer to my slave name.” On another occasion, a black prison guard shouts at Mystique as she assumes the form of the President of the United States. The camera goes to close-up and the black guard says: “Mr President: shut up!” Mystique next changes to the image of a small white girl and the guard shouts: “Shut up, *****!” The acute pretentiousness of the dialogue and camera angles make it clear that this was the film’s symbolic “speaking truth to power” moment, full of sound and banality. On the one hand, Mystique affirms the privilege of victimization with her color; on the other hand, the black officer negates it with his abhorrent conduct, which he later pays for. These are contradictory and ambiguous messages about race in the movie and both satisfy and unsettle audience members of the left and the right. I think that’s as it should be.
There are also specifically gay moments in the film. During one of the protests a television reporter says, “Some are desperate for this cure while others are offended by the very idea of it.” This is the case in our culture today where ex-gays who are born-again Christians travel the country speaking about their faith and newfound straight life. This offends gays because many believe there is a gay gene. (Coincidentally, there is a report on the “gay gene” in the current issue of The Advocate, the national Gay and Lesbian magazine.)
For viewers who find the assertion that there is a gay subtext difficult to believe, Carina Chocano in the L.A. Times writes:
“the mutant concept in “X-Men” is particularly applicable to the gay experience, a metaphor that was cleverly pinged and poked in the films directed by Bryan Singer” [i.e., the first two X-Men movies].
Roger Ebert observes,
“There are so many parallels here with current political and social issues. I thought of abortion, gun control, stem cell research, the ‘gay gene’ and the Minutemen.”
Phil Villarreal comments:
“The first [movie] could be read as a parable advocating for gay rights. The second was laced with commentary on race relations and the AIDS epidemic.”
Walter Chaw had the strongest reaction, exclaiming, that the movie is…
“an example of what can happen when a homophobic, misogynistic, misanthropic moron wildly overcompensates in a franchise that had as its primary claim to eternity that it was sensitive to the plight of homosexuals,” and he calls the movie Brett Ratner’s “painfully queer X-Men.”
And he has a point, for the movie is “painfully queer” in the sense that it both sympathizes with and seems to criticize the gay movement. A gay writer, Michael Musto, satirically pronounces it “a giant metaphor for the ex-gay movement!”
Note: A World Entertainment News Network article titled “McKellen wants gay sex scene” reported:
“Actor Sir Ian McKellen complained on the set of upcoming sequel “X-Men: The Last Stand”, because he wanted his character Magneto to have some gay sex scenes. “The Lord of the Rings” star, who has been openly gay since 1988, insists a homoerotic sub-plot would have enhanced the movie. McKellen tells Empire magazine, ‘He hasn’t been given a love line, which I think is a pity. It would be wonderful if the camera hovered over Magneto’s bed, to discover him making love to Professor X.’ However, McKellen admits he needed camera trickery to help him match Magneto’s muscular physique.
He adds, ‘I’d like to see him at the gym, because in the comics he has the most amazing body. I’m the slimline version of Magneto, but of course, these days you could morph my body into something really fantastic.’”
If, as gay and liberal writers seem to agree, the movies signify the gay experience, than they clearly suggest that there are “good” gays and “bad” gays: the good ones assimilate while the bad ones stage violent protests. The same is true of race and of the abortion issue. In other words, I’m suggesting that either the writers, or Ratner through his direction, opted for a more complex portrayal of minorities in which they are not only victims but victimizers. This is not a politically correct message and is why, I believe, the mainstream critics so strongly dislike the movie and Ratner’s direction. It goes against multi-cultural orthodoxy which dictates that minorities must always be saintly (or angry) victims and white men and the institutions they represent must always be stupid or evil. In this movie, the preponderance of the bad mutants, if anything, comprises more minorities, a conspicuous reversal of the race message in the “Matrix” movies and a fact that troubles the most liberal reviewers.
Similarly, the issue of abortion and choice is handled with a double-edged ambivalence. In at least two scenes, viewers observe crowds of protestors outside the serum clinic where mutants line up of their own free will to receive the injection to effectively kill the mutant life within them. “We don’t need a cure!” the protesters shout, and, indeed, no one is forcing them to get one. But the spectacle of the crowd is a highly complex one because it elicits the common image of protests outside abortion clinics, thus criticizing both those who protest abortions and those who get them. In keeping with my interpretation, I believe this represents an indictment not of any particular position, because right can be found on both sides of any given issue, but it indicts the means by which grievances are expressed. The movie, ironically, is against violent expression and demonstrates that violence, regrettably, must sometimes be used to counter those who resort to violence first. Hence Magneto’s self-justification that “they have drawn first blood.”
Intellectually, the movie promotes dialogue, negotiation, and assimilation. Emotionally, it shows the love that Rogue has for Bobby, that Cyclops and Wolverine have for Jean, and, in a poignant moment, the love that the Professor has for Wolverine. (Whether that is a gay moment I will leave to the gay reviewers to determine.) On the other hand, it shows the lack of love that Magneto has for Mystique. Teamwork and sacrifice are emphasized both at the beginning and the end of the film, while the ego-centeredness of Magneto, Phoenix, and even Juggernaut (Vinnie Jones) are punished.
Admittedly, the first half of the movie is a choppy mess in which the pacing seems mechanical and episodic. And while every reviewer blames director Brett Ratner for this and other crimes against humanity, much of the responsibility lies with the story-telling. Unlike the first two movies, neither Brian Singer nor David Hayter were involved in the writing which I believe explains the poorer dialogue, the thinner characterization, and the heavy-handed cultural references.
The movie is violent, and it has more nudity than any conservative Christian can be comfortable with, showing extended shots of Mystique’s naked chest and back. Depending on a family’s acculturation, those scenes, brief though they are, may be deal breakers. (For those who would like to take a chance on the content, the more egregious scene with Mystique occurs when she begins to walk out of the truck.)
It’s a shame, because, aside from those scenes and three swear words (two “b” and a “d” word), “X-Men: The Last Stand” is more gratifying for fans than not, and more complex than either of the first two films in seeming to portray both sides as being sometimes rational, sometimes irrational—sometimes right, sometimes wrong. Ultimately, the Professor demonstrates true love and grace for Jean, as a Father might His child.
I cautiously recommend the movie for Christian audiences, but with a heavy emphasis on the caveats in the previous two paragraphs.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
All in all, save your money. Consider the X-Men movie story to end at X2. This movie was a real let down.
Offensive / 1