Dark Phoenix


Dark Phoenix poster

Dark Phoenix, the last X-Men film of the pre-Disney saga, tells the story of super-mutant Jean Grey.

From my limited understanding of the comics, this was a hyper-condensed version of the story, but if you're a fairly casual fan of the franchise, I don't think you'll mind too much. Without giving too much away, Jean Grey was brought in as a child to Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters to help her learn to manage her powers. A Captain Marvel-esque cosmic event leads to absorbing an external source of additional power. As she grapples with her childhood and new-found power, she loses control and chaos ensues. The X-Men must face one of their own and restore the peace between the humans and mutants.

I appreciate the quick pace at which this movie moved. At just under 2 hours runtime, I got plenty of fun action and enough storyline to follow along. The downfall is that Jean Grey was a little under-developed. Sophie Turner did enough to be passable in a movie that did not do her character justice. Her chemistry with Scott/Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) was barely there. Sheridan does his best, but I stand by how difficult it must be to act without expression in the eyes. Jennifer Lawrence felt very phoned in as Raven/Mystique. The cast of major characters were just fine in their roles. Outside of James McAvoy's slightly elevated performance as Charles Xavier, there was nothing new or ground-breaking from previous iterations of the main characters. Much of the focus of the film turns to Professor X, Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) and Erik/Magneto (Michael Fassbender)'s rift over how to handle Jean. At one point, I felt as if I was watching a less compelling Captain America: Civil War. Also, I must note that Jessica Chastain was under-utilized, so much so that I found myself not caring much about the entire D'Bari Empire subplot.

The action in the film is its selling point. I found the major battle scenes to be compelling and visually impressive. Getting to see several our of favorite mutants do their thing and do it well is always fun. Some of the destruction in our first big battle seems bit excessive (especially one New York subway used by Magneto), but if you just roll with it, you'll have a better time. I have a very soft spot for the way Michael Fassbender portrays Magneto's powers. He brings some sass that is a perfect amount of levity. Quicksilver (Evan Peters) gets another great scene, but nothing will top his scene in Days of Future Past for me. Storm and Kurt/Nightcrawler also get some exciting fight sequences with moments to shine. Fun choreography and solid VFW work across the board.

I'm not nearly as passionate about X-Men as I am the MCU, so my expectations were much lower, which I believe was to my benefit. I'm honestly pretty shocked this is being reviewed as critically as it is with an abysmal 23% on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing. I don't think that's an accurate depiction of this film at all. That being said, if you're a tried and true X-Men fan who has followed along with each installment, I could see you being a bit disappointed at this ending. Overall, this is an okay end to a franchise that never truly found its footing. I'm more interested in how this will now converge with the MCU in the hands of Disney. The thing about Marvel, there's plenty of source material and places to take these fascinating stories and characters!

Brit's Tip: Go in with low expectations and don't overthink it that really messy X-Men timeline. You'll enjoy it more that way. And there are no bonus scenes, so you're free to go after seeing Sophie Turner fifth billed in the credits.

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