One of the big surprises in the latest (and probably last) of the X-Men films is seeing Canada's own Shawn Ashmore graduate from Mutant Hunk, junior division, to full-on romantic lead. He might not have as much onscreen time as Hugh Jackman's Logan/Wolverine, but he's at the heart of the film's big love triangle. Expect the Teen People set to swoon. Ashmore visited T.O. recently to flash his blue eyes and talk about how his man of ice is heating up the big screen.
How does it feel to be X-Men's new romantic lead? Pretty good. I really like the romantic triangle with Iceman, Rogue (Anna Paquin) and Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page). It's great that in the midst of this gigantic war with these life-and-death plots, there's this human aspect.
If you had to choose between Anna and Ellen, who would it be? Neither. I have a girlfriend already.
Are you and she (Michelle Trachtenberg of Ice Princess and Mysterious Skin) ever going to work together? Right now we're just boyfriend and girlfriend.
Tell me about the ice-skating scene with you and Ellen Page. Was that real ice? Actually, it was Teflon, but we were using real skates with blades. I think it's hilarious that the two Canadians got to skate in the movie.
How important is the political subtext in the X-Men films? It's very important. They're about how we deal with prejudice. In this film there's a mutant cure, and it ups the ante and makes the issue personal for everyone. If we were the same, maybe there wouldn't be prejudice. But is that the right solution?
How many Iceman figurines do you own? One. But I also did a TV show when I was younger called Animorphs, and I have a few of those figures. And they used my likeness and voice for the new X-Men video game, and I've played that.
Apart from the X-Men films, what's your favourite comic book film adaptation? I liked the Tim Burton Batman movies. Oh, and Hellboy was amazing.
X-MEN: THE LAST STAND (Brett Ratner) Rating: NN
Ironic that the latest X-Men is subtitled The Last Stand. As the final not-so-special-effect sizzles out, the franchise wobbles and nearly comes crashing down.
That's a shame. Of all the comic book adaptations, the X-Men films boast the strongest political and social allegory. Their theme about a minority group - in this case, mutants with special powers - disagreeing over how to coexist with so-called normal society has always resonated powerfully.
Do you work peacefully, like Patrick Stewart's Charles Xavier? Or do you morph into a terrorizing anarchist, like Ian McKellen's Magneto?
This sequel raises the stakes by presenting a cure for mutancy, personified, somewhat confusingly, by Cameron Bright, the spooky kid from Birth, who essential played the same crappy part in Ultraviolet.
Bright's anti-mutant powers are captured in syringe form, and both the goodies and baddies want it, for different reasons.
On hand are a bunch of new mutants, including Kelsey Grammer's Beast, a peace-loving cabinet minister, and Angel (Ben Foster), a self-hating mutant whose billionaire dad (Michael Murphy) helped develop the cure.
And back in a different way is Famke Janssen, whose character, Jean Grey, died in X-2 but (hey, this isn't a spoiler - it's in the trailers) has been resurrected by a mysterious and destructive figure called the Phoenix.
The confusing script never lets us know if Jean is possessed by the Phoenix Exorcist-style or if she's present at all. This confusion results in a huge acting problem for Janssen (you can practically hear the actor pleading, What's my motivation?), and sums up the film's failure.
Director Brett Ratner, who replaces the first two films' Bryan Singer, doesn't care about characters or actors. The film's got a lazy back half, mostly because we've lost interest in the characters and their cool powers.
The only actors who emerge unscathed are, naturally, those wily Brits. Stewart and McKellen can sell even the most mutated bit of hack dialogue.