Magazine article The Spectator

No Messing with Redheads

Magazine article The Spectator

No Messing with Redheads

Article excerpt

X-Men: The Last Stand 12A, selected cinemas Friends with Money 15, selected cinemas The X-Men trilogy has been a superior translation of comic book to big screen (although I wouldn't bet money on this being truly 'The Last Stand'; probably more like 'The Second Last Stand', given its ambiguous closing shot). Part of its charm has been the willingness of the writers to handle the metaphor of the comics: that the mutants are representatives of society's minorities and outsiders. Most explicitly, its homosexuals.

This instalment presents its subtext more baldly than ever. Its bang-crash storyline, i. e. , the one that causes maximum kerfuffle, is intriguing. What the (evil, conservative) government likes to call a 'cure' for mutants is discovered in the near-future. Government scientists announce that volunteer mutants can be reprogrammed and made 'normal', by which they mean all-human. One Erik Lensherr, a. k. a. Magneto (Ian McKellen), is deeply suspicious of 'the cure' and when he finds a 'cure weapon' in the hands of a prison guard his suspicions appear to be confirmed -- the government in fact intends to wreak a kind of genocide on its mutant population, cleansing them of their colossal, and threatening, powers.

Magneto rallies together a bunch of mutant troops with the cry, 'We are the cure for Homo sapiens', and sets out to destroy the cure and those responsible for it. He is confronted not only by a (fairly ineffectual) human army, but also by mutant pupils of Professor X (Patrick Stewart) who have determined to avert a full-scale war. Led by Storm (Halle Berry) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), they go head-to-head with Magneto and face an ugly decision: do they use 'the cure' to win their fight?

To dwell on the film's other plot would be to spoil it, so I will say only this: don't mess with a mutant redhead. It will hurt.

When the mutants stop fighting to talk to each other about their feelings, the film drags horribly, but these moments are mercifully few. To be frightened of Ian McKellen after Widow Twanky and Coronation Street is a challenge, but it is fun to watch him flicking cars off a road, and diverting the Golden Gate Bridge to Alcatraz with his bare hands (surely a pointless exercise, given that one of his fellow mutants could have just flown him over there in a trice? ). It is all rather silly, of course, but watchable and admirably light-hearted. …

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