Sunday, February 11, 2007

X-Men: The Last Stand

X-Men: The Last Stand is the third film adaptation of the Marvel Comics' X-Men superhero comic books. It was directed by Brett Ratner and written by Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn. The previous two movies were X-Men (2000) and X2: X-Men United (2003). The movie revolves around a "mutant cure" that causes serious repercussions among mutants and humans, and on the mysterious resurrection of Jean Grey, who appeared to have died in X2. The film is based on two X-Men comic book story arcs: writer Chris Claremonts and artist John Byrne's "Dark Phoenix Saga" in The Uncanny X-Men (1980) and writer Joss Whedon's six-issue "Gifted" arc in Astonishing X-Men (2004).

The film was released May 26, 2006 in the United States and Canada, and one or two days earlier in approximately 22 other countries. Despite mixed reviews from critics and fans of the comic book series, the film has done extremely well at the box office. Its opening-day gross of $45.5 million is the third-highest on record while its opening weekend gross of $103 million is the fifth highest ever. Currently it holds the record for highest grossing movie during Memorial Day weekend totaling nearly $122.9 million in its first four days.

The film is sometimes colloquially referred to as X3 or X-Men 3.

Bryan Singer, the director of the first two X-Men films, left the project during preproduction in order to direct the film Superman Returns. He was joined by X2 screenwriters Dan Harris and Michael Dougherty and composer / editor John Ottman. Though Singer, Harris and Dougherty had yet to complete a script, the director has revealed that at the time of his departure they had partially completed a story treatment for the film which would have focused exclusively on Jean Grey's resurrection with the new villain Emma Frost, a role intended for Sigourney Weaver.

Simon Kinberg was hired as writer soon after Singer's departure, and speculation arose to Joss Whedon directing the film. Rob Bowman and Alex Proyas were also rumoured, though the latter personally turned it down. Despite the controversy over Singer's departure, the cast and producers were still clearly keen to return.

Matthew Vaughn was hired as the new director for the project. He cast Kelsey Grammer as Beast and Vinnie Jones as Juggernaut, but family issues reportedly led him to withdraw before shooting began. Vaughn was replaced by Singer's friend Brett Ratner, who was among those originally considered to direct the first film — and coincidentally was considered by Warner Brothers to direct the 2006 Superman project before it evolved into Superman Returns.

On June 13, 2005, a review of an incomplete early draft[13] of the screenplay posted by Drew McWeeny from Ain't It Cool News sparked controversy from fans, due to certain main characters' storylines; however, that draft was the very first of over two-dozen drafts the film went through and has had numerous changes happen to the storylines. Most notably the Golden Gate Bridge was originally in the middle of the film, but Ratner decided it would create a more dramatic climax if moved to the end, whereas it was originally to take place at Washington D.C.

Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen were made to look 20 years younger through "digital skin grafting".X-Men: The Last Stand began shooting in August 2005 and ended in January 2006. Much of X-Men: The Last Stand was filmed in Vancouver, Canada. According to associate producer Dave Gordon, "This is the biggest production ever filmed in Canada. It used to be X2, now it's X3."

Senior actors Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen had their faces completely "de-aged" by complex keyframing, in which no CGI elements were used. A technique called "digital skin-grafting" was employed to make them look 20 years younger in the first-scene flashback.

The film has extensive wirework, where many of the actors performed some of their own stunts. The whirlwind wire-stunt performed by Halle Berry during one fight scene reportedly caused Berry to become so nauseated that she vomited. The crew actually had to bring in buckets for her before shooting her scenes. Angel's wings were initially too heavy for Ben Foster, and were remade from foam.[18] Despite his fear of heights, Foster performed a single second unit stunt where he escapes Worthington's facility.

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