Let it be known at the start that these trifling thoughts in no way constitute a full review of X-Men: The Last Stand, henceforth referred to as X3 for the sake of brevity and because it's just less pretentious. I did the same thing after I saw Mission: Impossible III, mainly because I know enough about J.J. Abrams and I just wanted to throw some stuff out there. So if you want a big, regular review, look elsewhere.• The film was visually pleasing, so that's something. But the effects were perfunctory, not once jaw-dropping or engaging or arresting or anything you'd expect from a superhero film of this magnitude. • X3 was so poorly structured as to be laughable. There was absolutely no drama, no tension, no build, no arc, no character dynamic. Not a thing. The film ended with a supposedly climactic battle at Alcatraz, but there was no sense that things had been building to this point, merely that the scenes had stumbled along with a minimum of grace and skill to get us to the final fight. • Kitty Pryde is a great character, and Ellen Page is a talented actress who certainly looks the part. But it's a shame she never had much to do with the film series up to this point. Page is the third actress to play Kitty, after Sumela Kay in X-Men and Katie Stuart in X2. In Ratner's film, Kitty at least gets a few lines, though she doesn't do a lot besides flirt with Iceman, which is annoying for several reasons, mainly (1) Ice Guy has been hung up on the slutty but untouchable Rogue for two movies now, and (2) Kitty is supposed to be with Colossus. Which is a good segue: • In what could be the weirdest change from the first two films, the character of Colossus is now an American dude named Pete, not a Russian guy named Peter. Why this change was made escapes me. And also, seriously, Kitty should stop flirting with Iceman. • No spoilers here, so don't worry. But I will express my disgust that more than one major character was killed with the kind of cavalier manner that suggests both Ratner's inability to tell a story with the remotest semblance of competence and his lack of understanding of how to effectively utilize characters. George Lucas once callously said that anyone could manipulate the audience just by showing a kitten onscreen and then having someone break its neck. But Ratner doesn't understand that having a canonical, integral character mutter five lines before getting utterly disintegrated by a villain is just a boneheaded thing to do. Trust me, it's possible to kill a briefly used character and make it an emotionally resonant moment for the audience. Not to mention that having one of the X-Men — not just a random mutant, or even a student at Xavier’s academy, but a full-on member of the team — choose to give up their powers by taking the scientifically developed "cure" for mutancy is stupid and weak and pathetic and pick your own adjective. • Ratner seems to be pandering to the fanboys by introducing more and more classic characters. After all, who doesn't want to see Beast onscreen? And I will concede that the casting of Kelsey Grammer for that role is beyond inspired; therefore, I'm obviously curious how much a role Ratner played in that decision. But more characters means less overall development, which is one of the main reasons there's no tension or story. It's all but impossible to do anything with a main cast of 13 mutants, surrounded by a host of others, in 1 hour and 45 minutes. And to the naysayers who would complain that I'm an idiot for asking for some kind of character development in a superhero movie, (1) shut up, and (2) it's possible. Very possible. • The real hell of it, the real kick in the nuts, is how great X3 could have been. The story line about a cure for mutancy has its roots in the surprisingly good cartoon from my childhood and Joss Whedon's run of recent "Astonishing X-Men" stories. There's a great possibility here to talk about rights, and prejudice, and government's control over citizens it might deem different. There could have been a real nuance to the story, too: It's not just mutants vs. humans, or good guys vs. bad. All the mutants want freedom, to be able to live without fear of discriminationor extermination, and it's how far each one is willing to go to achieve that freedom that determines whether they're "good" or "bad." There's not really a clear line between the two; they exist at either end of a continuum, a sliding scale ruled by your willingness to compromise yourself for the pursuit of your goals. But, well, Ratner doesn't have the faintest glint of any of this. He has no idea just how close he came to telling a truly epic story. And that's the biggest disappointment.