(In theaters, May 2006) If I actually cared about the X-Men as a comic book with a decades-long history, I may be peeved at the way they handled the “Dark Phoenix” idea. But given that I don’t (and haven’t even read the Dark Phoenix Saga), I thought the film was a good-enough summer action blockbuster and a good third instalment in the series. There is, certainly, a bit too much material and characters to handle gracefully: “The Cure” was a concept strong enough that the Dark Phoenix subplot wasn’t strictly required, and some more time with the characters may have been beneficial. But when the leather hits the pavement, X-Men 3 is a straight-ahead action locomotive: Brett Ratner is a better action director than Brian Singer, and the way he handles the rest of the film is unlikely to annoy anyone but the tedious anti-Ratners and the even more tedious X-Men integrists. Hey, it’s not deep cinema (despite the deeper-than-usual thematic resonances, simple concepts such as “succession planning” still seem to elude Professor X) and the only yardstick required in this case is the good old “was I entertained?” question. Of course I was. End of story… but don’t bet on this “last stand” being the end of the series: Peek at the end of the credits to understand why.