Dave's Rating:

3.5

… not bad with action …

Who's in It: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Rebecca Romijn, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, James Marsden, Ben Foster, Ellen Page, Kelsey Grammer, Shawn Ashmore, Vinnie Jones

The Basics: Just in time for Gay Pride month, the X-Men return to do that giant, blockbuster, "allegory about the persecution of homosexuals" thing. Wolverine alone looks like every guy you'll ever see in a leather bar, plus or minus a few razor-sharp fingers.

What's the Deal? I had low expectations. It is a Brett Ratner movie, after all. But he's not bad with action sequences, and the ones here make you forget that he made Red Dragon and After the Sunset. It's the first halfway decent summer movie so far. It's only the fourth one, parading after M: I-3, Poseidon and Da Vinci, but it's more enjoyable than all of them put together. I know, faint praise and all that.

New Characters vs. Old: This is where you can tell Ratner's weaknesses as a director. The returning cast didn't seem to need direction, but most of the new characters weren't established as very memorable. Perhaps next time — especially considering the fates of some major characters in this installment.

Fanboy Satisfaction Index: 8 out of 10, and that's according to a comic-book geek who attended the screening with me. His quote, after the fact, about Phoenix (Janssen's character) was, "There could have been more destruction. In the comic book, she eats a planet."

And About the Gay Thing: You will swear that Wolverine and the Beast are flirting with each other every single time they have a scene together.

Stay Put: Of special interest to followers of the comic book is the post-credits scene. Stay until the very end to check it out.

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