Hugh Jackman in X-Men: The Last StandThe first of summer's two most lucrative moviegoing weekends is upon us, and somewhat surprisingly'X-Men: The Last Stand' is the only new wide release. Perhaps that's because 'X2' made $85.6 million in its first three days when it opened on Memorial Day 2003. So when studios saw the latest 'X-Men' flick on the docket for a May 26 release, they first soiled their shorts and then moved their movies to another date. Well played, dirty-underweared studio executives. That said, my hunch is that Robert Langdon (aka Tomás Hanks) -- riding high from 'The Da Vinci Code's' monster $77 million opening last weekend -- is still sporting a fresh pair of Fruit of the Looms. Regardless, with 'Da Vinci' going into its second weekend, there's little hope that it'll muster enough box-office strength to avoid being ripped a new one by Wolverine's adamantium claws. The following are the three biggest reasons you'll dig 'The Last Stand' ...

Halle Berry in X-Men: The Last Stand

1) The plot of the 'X-Men' movies has always centered around mutants being considered freaks of nature, outcasts unworthy of assimilation into society. In 'The Last Stand,' this theme is taken to a whole new level when scientists discover a "cure" for mutanthood. Some mutants, such as Rogue, are stoked at the idea of being "normal." Others, such as Storm, are indignant at the insinuation that mutants are inherently damaged goods. And, not surprisingly, there are those (Magneto and his militant cronies) who want to find the cause of the cure and send it/him to meet its/his maker. So a movie that's ostensibly about superheroes and supervillains who control the weather, run through brick walls, throw balls of fire, etc. is -- at it's core -- really about tolerance. Is that deep stuff? I'm thinking it is.

Kelsey Grammer in X-Men: The Last Stand

2) 'The Last Stand' features tons more mutants than the previous two films. The most notable additions are Angel (Ben Foster), sporting a huge ... wingspan; Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), becoming the hypotenuse in a love triangle with Rogue (Anna Paquin) and Iceman (Shawn Ashmore); and Beast (Kelsey Grammer), adding brains, brawn and lot of blue fur to the X-Men cause. And, is it just me, or are the mutants pretty freaking hot for people with genetic defects? You've got Halle Berry (Storm), Famke Janssen (Jean Grey) and Rebecca Romijn (Mystique) for the guys, and Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), James Marsden (Cyclops) and Eric Dane (Multiple Man) for the ladies. Yeah, they're dreamy (I'm speaking exclusively about the ladies, of course).

3) If you thought the finale of 'X2' packed a wallop, buckle up, baby. The 'Last Stand' climax occurs at infamous prison Alcatraz and includes hordes of mutants, the funny but ingenious use of the Golden Gate Bridge, a life-and-death showdown between two unlikely adversaries and another HUGE surprise. And now ... I'm spent.

Come back this weekend for my take on how 'X-Men: The Last Stand' could have been better.

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Tags:X-Men, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, Rebecca Romijn, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Summer Movies

categories Features, Cinematical