It takes a combined creative effort to create a film that manages to both convincingly sell the action and do so in a way that continues belief in improbable characters such as mutants. In the film X-Men: The Last Stand, the most powerful mutant yet born turns out to be Jean Grey…
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The plot of the film begins when a 'cure' is found for the mutant gene and the debate about whether mutants should be forced to take it begins again. Predictably, Magneto is in favor of banding the mutants together and forcibly claiming supremacy over the non-mutant humans while Xavier is in favor of educating the public to a greater degree so that mutant and human can co-exist peacefully. It is a difficult argument to win, though, as the scientists continue to try to find new ways to neutralize their powers. Jean's appearance in the film is surprising because her character died at the end of the last film in the series as she saved the rest of the party from certain death. She reappears in front of Scott when he goes out to the lake to grieve for her and then kills Professor Xavier before she emerges fully as the Phoenix. Xavier and Magneto had been battling wills to see which one would gain the Phoenix's assistance in their conflict with the humans. With Xavier out of the way, Magneto quickly enlists the Phoenix to his cause and the X-Men have a new problem. The challenges they overcome and the way they overcome them are sold to the audience through careful directing, detailed production design and a skilled art director. The director is responsible for the positioning of the actors, the camera angles, lighting choices and editing cuts, but it is up to the production designer to come up a fitting setting and visual effects to convey the story to the audience and it is the art director who ensures everything, including costumes and makeup, blend with the overall vision (Mackendrick, 2004). In the hands of director Brett Ratner with production designer Ed Verreaux and art director Chad Frey, a climactic scene such as the one in which the Phoenix finally falls takes on highly intense dimensions. The setting for the climax scene of the film is at the shattered remains of the pharmaceutical laboratories on what seems to be Governor's Island where the mutant cure is produced and where the mutant who produces it is held against his will. The building and surrounding structures have been crumbled by battling humans and mutants. Twisted, burnt-out cars, huge chunks of concrete and tortured metal constructions lay around in total destruction. Small fires burn in pockets throughout the scene and Jean herself stands on a rise of debris. Wind whips around the characters, blowing lighter weight debris around them and, in flashes, whips so hard at Wolverine as he attempts to approach her that his clothing and even his skin and bones become stripped away in places. It is only because of his fast-healing abilities that he is able to overcome her attacks to reach her side. This wrecked scene demonstrates the extreme wastefulness of war as there doesn't appear to be anything truly useful left standing in the vicinity. When the camera looks up at where Jean is standing, the area looks like ancient Greek ruins, emphasizing the film's suggestion that mutants such as Jean are approaching the status of gods and have unearthly power. The tremendously destructive energy that is coming from Jean in the form of the wild and powerful wind couples with the destruction seen around them as an indication of Jean's lack of control over her own power while her position at the top of the hill demonstrates her superiority over everything she sees. Wolverine's battle uphill reveals his increasing mastery over himself and his own acceptance of responsibility for his powers. At the same time, the fitful nature of the winds illustrate the Phoenix's internal battle with the consciousness of Jean and provides
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