As happened with episode 2 in the series the old heroes are back to fight the cause of good for the mutants while a whole host of new characters are introduced to help proceedings and so we don't get too bored. Doctor Xavier is still teaching the young and gifted and trying to prove that the mutant race can live in harmony with the rest of humanity, while Magneto is still fighting society to try and prove that the mutants are the dominating race that will rule.
An apparent cure has been discovered that will 'cure' people with the mutant gene, and the American government is keep to get this injected into all mutants to rid the world of this apparent disease. The mutants themselves are split in opinion of this, some think it's a good thing while others think not, especially Magneto and his merry band of mutants. This premise serves as a co-story to the one that is really being played out at the heart of the film.
It doesn't give anything away (and comic book fans will know too well) to say that Jean Grey who was thought to be killed in the previous film makes a stunning resurrection in this film, although things are not as they seem with her. At the start of the film we are treated to a short flashback section that has Dr. Xavier and Eric Lensherr (Magneto before he became the metal bender) visiting Jean as a child and discovering she had enormous powers of the mind, strong in fact than the Doctor himself.
Once the resurrected Jean has returned safely to the Xavier mansion it's explained that during her mutant training an alter-ego was discovered which she named Phoenix, but as Jean was dangerous and powerful as Phoenix this side of her was suppressed to the back of her mind, now it seems Phoenix has come out in force and is out for revenge on Xavier, and possibly the rest of the world as well.
With one story is concentrating on the cure that scientist have discovered that could rid the world of the mutants, the other story is the concluding part of a love story that has been simmering away since the first film and is destined not to have the happiest of endings
With Singer on other directing duties it was feared by the legions of fans that the series would fall into repute and just come apart with new director Brett Ratner on board. His previous directing efforts have been the likes of the Rush Hour series and Red Dragon from the Hannibal series to name a few, but nothing of great merit. So the big question has to be how has he lived up to the challenge?
X-Men: The Last Stand, while maybe not as good as the previous episodes is a really enjoyable film and a great addition to the series, in hindsight there was no need to worry, Ratner has handled the demands of the immense special effects really well, and in the process has managed to get some humanity into the film, something that Singer had problems with. As well as there being a central love story in the mix, there is also the anguish that the mutants have within themselves as they make the choice of loosing their mutant abilities and fitting in with society or continuing on their quest with the fear of loosing their abilities, this is all handled by the director really well and a joy to see.
The performances are all as we've come to expect from the series and we have some very good actors in the mix including Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and Oscar winner Halle Berry, and for these characters and the others that have been in the series since the first installment there is plenty of character enhancements for them to relish. Unfortunately the same can't be said for the new mutants, with the exception of Beast, Played by Kelsey Grammer, the rest are left to almost cameo roles which is a shame as it would have been interesting to see them a little more development of them.
This is reportedly the last of the X-men films before the series fragments and the different characters all get a chance to appear in their own films, kicking off with a promised Wolverine film, but on the evidence here lets hope that they at least bring one more adventure to the screen for the mutant collective as this film has you asking questions that you just need answering'..Oh and keep watching to the end of the credits.