🚨X-Men: The Last Stand🚨 is another bad third film in any trilogy ever. Bryan Singer and writer, Michael Dougherty, left to do "Superman: Returns" so we got stuck with Hollywood's "Yes-Man", Brett Ratner.
In this film, we follow the main character, nobody, as Jean comes miraculously back to life for plot convenience. A cure is found for the mutant gene so a new debate begins over whether mutants should be "cured" or not. Many characters die just to have the end of the film undo all of it because Brett Ratner did anything the studio told him to.
The biggest issue this film suffers from is stupidity and boredom. It is not as terrible as I remembered, however, at nearly one hundred minutes, it's still too long. Most of the boredom can be attributed to Ratner's inability to make dialogue interesting. With Ratner especially, there is a clear distinction between the action scenes and the dialogue scenes. When they can be distinguished rather easily, there is an issue. The action never informs any of the characters. It is a perfect display of spectacle over substance.
In the previous two films, Wolverine was usually the protagonist. He is a main character in this film, but his character is "We need to learn to work as a team, Logan." It's so dumb and cliche that it makes you want to search for a new favorite character. That idea can work, but when it's spelled out so easily like that, it's just dumb. But, Hugh Jackman is so good that you just accept it.
Cyclops is cheaply killed off in the first twenty minutes because Brett Ratner didn't feel like dealing with that character. Later on, Jean, who becomes Dark Phoenix, kills Professor Xavier. That's a really impactful death and makes other characters step up. In the end credits it shows Xaiver survived by transferring his conscience into his brother. The ending also undoes Magneto's loss of power when it teased that Magneto could move metal again. Both of those moments are such a slap to the face because it undercuts all of the character growth from Xavier's death. At that point, why even make the movie if important aspects are going to be undone so easily? (Continued in the comments...)
🚨X2: X-Men United🚨has a terrible looking poster and Bryan Singer is back directing this with his film prodigy, Michael Dougherty, writing the script along with two others. The war between mutants and humans is approaching when an attack on the President sends William Stryker to take action against the School for the Gifted.
This is a sequel that doesn't do more of the same. It takes almost every character to new places as Stryker, the villain, seeks to eliminate all mutants from Earth. At the core of the first film, it's really about the social commentary of discrimination and gets into the politics of it all. "X2" does the same but also introduces the theme of temptation.
Wolverine/Logan is the main character of this film and he doesn't know where he came from. He seeks his past until it comes right to him in the form of Stryker who reveals that he is the reason Wolverine is full of adamantium. Logan is then tempted by pursing a romance with Jean Grey. Both Jean and Stryker tempt Wolverine and create an internal dilemma: should Logan abandon the X-Men to find out who he really is or stay with the people who care about who he is and not who he was.
Iceman and Rogue also continue to experiment with their romance, but it's difficult because Rogue cannot touch anyone without absorbing their life force. It's the temptation of risking Iceman's life for each other's happiness.
Pyro is a minor character, but just to show the extent of this films ability to focus on so many characters and balance it all well, Pyro is even given temptation over whether he should give in to being a hero or a villain.
This is a film that doesn't get talked about much anymore because it was long before the largest superhero wave, but this is better than most of the "Avengers" films. "X2" is a film that could be compared to "Empire Strikes Back" as it takes characters to dark places and even leaves a hook for the next film with Jean Grey. (Continued in the comments...)