x3Diving many followers, much like Xavier and Magneto, X-Men: The Last Stand hit theatres hard in May 2006. Raking in over $230 million domestically, the movie was an unquestioned hit. While fans of the franchise may be divided over the decision to bring in Brett Ratner to take over for Bryan Singer in the final installment of the X-Men series, the movie still managed to be the biggest installment vof the franchise to date. Focusing more on action and wrapping up storylines, the movie turned out to be a fine addition to the series, though not the strongest. Minor spoilers from the film follow in this review.

In X-Men: The Last Stand, a pharmaceutical “cure” for mutancy threatens to alter the course of history and the stability of the mutant community. For the first time, mutants have a choice: retain their superhuman abilities, though it isolates and alienates them, or give up their unique powers to fit in as “normal.” The opposing viewpoints of peaceful mutant leader Charles Xavier and his militant counterpart Magneto, who believes in the survival of the fittest, are put to the ultimate test – triggering the war to end all wars!

Since this a review of the DVD, my comments on the movie will be brief. While not matching the high quality of X-Men 2: X-Men United, X-Men: The Last Stand (or simply X-Men 3), is on par with the first movie in the trilogy. While the quick pace and lack of character moments (though there are some) might be unfortunate, the movie does adamantly try to wrap up all the plot lines for the movie series. While Wolverine’s story was finished with the last movie, he still remains (appropriately) the focus of the third movie, sharing the spotlight with Jean Grey and Storm. While the quick pace made the movie feel rushed, I felt pleased with the final product and thought it did a fine job wrapping up this portion of the X-Men movie franchise.

If I have any large complaint, it would be Brett Ratner, the director who took over for Singer for the final entry. He seems to put the movie on auto-pilot, stringing along a host of actions scenes with little in-between. While Singer approached these characters with respect, Ratner seems to take the more “comic book-y” approach and presents the characters as caricatures of themselves. It seemed basically like X-Men Lite. While the movie does a fine job at wrapping up the trilogy, one can’t help but wonder what was left out, and what could have been and what should have been.

Still, kudos to Hugh Jackman, Famke Jannsen, Ellen Page, and Sir Ian McKellan for providing excellent performances. Even Kelsey Grammer, hiding under a pile of somewhat convincing make-up, brings an air to respectability to the role of Beast. A fine showing, but it should have been better, and longer than 104 minutes.

As for the DVD itself, the audio and visual aspects are top notch, as we can always expect from Fox. The visuals are crystal clear, as we’re able to see every teeny pixel of action on screen. It adds an extra boost to the sometimes lackluster special effects, though can also show just how bad the CGI is sometimes. The audio is easily demo material. Crank up the speaker, skip to a big battle scene, and enjoy.

The cover art serves the purpose of highlighting the main characters, with the remaining forced onto the back cover art. The inserts are the usual promo flyers and chapter listings. The disc art is reflective of the cover art. It’s a fine package overall, and I have a feeling that the more flashy and artistic ideas will be saved for the inevitable two-disc edition.

As can be expected, being a big summer hit means we’re going to see this movie out on DVD in time for the holidays. This one disc edition holds enough extras to keep the casual fan interested, and the die-hard begging for more (or counting the days until the inevitable two-disc edition arrives). DVD extras for this edition of X-Men: The Last Stand include:

-Audio commentary by director Brett Ratner and writers Zak Penn and Simon Kinberg
-Audio commentary by producers Lauren Shuler-Donner, Ralph Winter, Avi Arad, David Gorder, plus writers Zak Penn and Simon Kinberg
-3 Alternate Endings (with optional commentary by Brett Ratner)
-10 Deleted / Extended Scenes (with optional commentary by Brett Ratner)
-Inside Look: A Night At The Museum
-First Glimpse at The Simpsons Movie
-Easter Eggs: “Beast recites Shakespeare,” and “X-Jet lands in D.C.”
-Original Theatrical Trailers
-The World Of Marvel Trailers (“Daredevil,” “Elektra,” and “Fantastic Four”)

The extras form a nice small package of bonus features the casual viewer will enjoy. The extras aren’t in-depth by any means, but do hint that there’s a lot more to explore in terms of behind the scenes information for X-Men: The Last Stand. Given the nature of the director musical chairs and the incredibly short shooting schedule, I’m sure there are many interesting facts that are still yet to be explored, and hopefully will be in a future release of the movie.

The audio commentaries are mildly interesting, mostly containing information we already know for those who kept tabs on the film during production. The deleted and extended scenes seem to hint more at a darker, increasingly violent movie that was trimmed down to a PG-13. The fight scene at Jean Grey’s home has more violence than what was seen on the big screen, including scenes where Wolverine puts his claws through Juggernaut’s left arm, and then electrocutes ol’ Juggy with the help of Storm later on in the tussle. The destruction caused by Phoenix in the film’s climax also ups the body count considerably. Most of these extended scenes are of minor interest, but there is some interesting material to be found. Likewise with the deleted scenes, which I thought would’ve added to the film by wrapping up a couple more storylines in a more complete fashion, such as the scene where Wolverine returns to Canada (keep an eye out for a familiar gun-wielding bar owner).

The easter eggs, if you can find them, are actually quite amusing. The rest of the disc holds the usual sneak peek and trailers. I’m glad to see Fox has included the X-Men: The Last Stand theatrical trailers, as many studios are now dropping theatrical trailers from their releases (a pet peeve of mine – I like seeing how these films are marketed, what scenes may have been dropped, etc).

Also, Fox will also be releasing a special X-Men: The Last Stand Collector’s Edition DVD that features an exclusive 100-page commemorative book with an all-new story penned by Stan Lee himself. The original comic “The Unlikely Saga of Magneto, Xavier and Stan” features art by some of Marvel’s legendary names, including John Romita Jr. (Spider-Man), Pasqual Ferry (Ultimate Fantastic 4), Leinil Francis Yu (Wolverine), Howard Chaykin (New Avengers), Ben Oliver (Ultimate X-Men), Ron Frenz (Spider-Girl), Sean Chen (X-Men: The End) and Ron Lim (Silver Surfer); plus also features Stan Lee’s personal favorite selections for three classic X-Men comic reprints.

And that’s not all, expect many retailers to include exclusive bonus discs or free gifts when X-Men: The Last Stand hits DVD on October. And on top of all of that, Brett Ratner has stated a two-disc edition is currently being worked on, containing more in-depth features. Expect this release within the next two years.

So, if you want just the movie, with a nice helping of extras, pick up X-Men: The Last Stand on October 3rd. If you’re looking for a more bonus packed DVD, be patient, as the two-disc set will likely be released in 2007 or 2008 to coincide with the solo Wolverine film, currently in early pre-production. The one disc release is a fine release and should easily hold fans over until the special edition later down the road. The movie and disc come Recommended for fans of both the franchise and the comic characters.

Originally posted on the DVD Discussion Forum on September 19th, 2006.