My good friend and fellow commentator Rosemary Dewar excellently reviewed Dark Phoenix, the finale to the X-Men franchise released by 20th Century Fox before their acquisition by Disney. At the time, I had not seen the film, but once it was released on DVD, I took the chance to view it.
In 1993, the X-Men have become heroes to the world. Prof. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) has a direct line to the President of the United States. After a bizarre space anomaly that resembles a solar flare appears, the President asks Prof. X for help. He sends Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Quicksilver (Evan Peters), and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) into space to save the astronauts. However, as Jean tries to save them, the solar flare encapsulates surrounds her and possesses her.
Back on Earth, Jean seems to be fine, but she slowly begins to change from a caring ally to a power-hungry force. Vuk (Jessica Chastain), the leader of an endangered alien race called D’Bari, want the being inside her to restore her homeworld. They are violent and deadly, ready to use Jean for their own purposes, eventually attracting the attention of Magneto (Michael Fassbender). This leads Jean on a journey into her mind and past before the thing inside her takes over.
You never know what to expect with first-time directors like Simon Kinberg, who also wrote the film. I was hesitant, especially knowing that he co-wrote the disastrous X-Men: The Last Stand, which almost destroyed the franchise. I will say, he did manage to pull it off and while an imperfect movie, I felt it was a worthy entry into the franchise.
One minor issue with the film was the tacked-on politically correct yelling. The lines of dialogue “girls = good, boys = bad” were boring and obvious, leading to some massive eye-roll moments. Fortunately, not too many.
My main problems were two-fold. One, this whole throwing stones at Professor X that started in this reboot series, infecting Logan, and dripping into this series is getting kind of annoying. I get that we do not want heroes to be so heroic they are unrelatable, but the constant slamming of Prof. X, who is supposed to be a mentor, is getting old. Move on. Find a new trick. Same for Magneto. Is he a villain or not? The whole ‘shades of gray’ thing does not give him depth, it just gets frustrating. Make up your mind. The antagonist or not? I guess we’ll never know.
Second, it is disappointing as a finale. When Disney took over Fox, they forced the franchise to close with the hopes of adding the X-Men into the MCU. While FOX does its best to seemingly wrap up the movie franchise (at least the reboot one), it still left you with the feeling you felt watching the finale of Awake or Lost.
Now, I have noticed Sophie Turner being criticized for how she portrayed Jean Grey in this show. I disagree. Sure, there was room for improvement, but I did think she herself did a good job for the tone and pacing of the movie. While I did think she gives into the Dark Phoenix a little too quickly, I feel that was more of a writing issue than her acting skills. Likewise, I felt the rest of the cast did a good job.
Aesthetics wise, the special effects are incredible. The space sequences, the battles, and the mutant mayhem were all done incredibly well. Mauro Fiore did amazing with the cinematography and made every scene up close and personal. I also want to shout out Hans Zimmer, whose amazing talent is found in The Dark Knight, was on full display in this movie as well.
As for the overall film, it was definitely way better than X-Men: The Last Stand. It has a lot of twist and turns, but I felt that it was appropriate for this particular adaption. Instead of the Phoenix being a separate personality, it was a powerful alien force that was attracted to Jean Grey based on her human emotions and slowly took over. It was a fast-paced science fiction adaption of the comic book arc and while toned down, I still found it a highly entertaining movie.
Bottom line, I honestly feel a lot of the criticism of the film is more about it being an abrupt ending to the franchise that kicked the superhero genre into the mainstream. While it is sad to see this series go, I do feel that this movie is a good entry into the series. It is fun.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Violence, Foul Language
FAVORITE QUOTE: The mind is a fragile thing. Takes only the slightest tap to tip it in the wrong direction.
Check out the trailer below:
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel wou would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my movie reviews of Brightburn, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, and Godzilla: King Of The Monsters. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.