‘Dark Phoenix’ | Film Review: Is it That Bad?

Some say it’s easy for people obsessed with superhero movies to be excited about anything. Dark Phoenix wasn’t one of those superhero movies to be anticipating, and this is coming from a fan of the X-Men movies. Out of the eight that I consider good, they put themselves out there by being some of the most entertaining comic book movies to ever be released. It’s just that all of the trailers were unimpressive and with it being pushed back a couple of times makes it appropriate for me to get worried. Now that Dark Phoenix is said to be the final movie to come from Fox, it’s hard to know if it’ll go out in spades.

What’s the Story: After the X-Men goes on a life-threatening rescue mission to space, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) gets hit with a comic force that changes her into becoming one of the most powerful mutants out there. Fearing for the worst and being hunted by a mysterious alien Vuk (Jessica Chastain), the team must face her before she can unleash her true emotional powers.

Sophie Turner in Dark Phoenix (2019)

Simon Kinberg makes his directorial debut here, and he’s been well-established in the series for being a longtime producer and writer for some of the entries. But I always thought it was a strange choice for him to take a huge step into directing a huge superhero movie. The main reason the anticipation was very little was that there was no reason for them to do the “Dark Phoenix Saga” storyline again after it was butchered in X-Men: The Last Stand 13 years ago. This was also following 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse, which many consider it to be a slump, including myself recently. If Dark Phoenix was meant to be a perfect way to wrap up this run for the studio’s most popular franchise, then this is one mighty big whimper for everybody.

First, let’s get the performances out of the way. Turner does a really good as Jean Grey this time around when she’s basically the one that’s in the center of the story, and I can honestly say she was capable of handling those scenes that are emotional. Then you got James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender returning as Charles Xavier/ Professor X and Erik Lehnsherr/ Magneto, and just like in the previous films they appeared in, they’re still one of the best aspects about these newer films, in my opinion.

That can be said about the rest of the cast like Nicholas Hoult (Beast), Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique), Tye Sheridan (Cyclops), Alexandra Shipp (Storm), Evan Peters (Quicksilver) and Kodi-Smit McPhee (Nightcrawleras well even though some aren’t given enough to do.

Nicholas Hoult, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Andrew Stehlin, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tye Sheridan, and Kota Eberhardt in Dark Phoenix (2019)

Also, Hans Zimmer’s score wasn’t too bad when listening to it after it’s over. Nice to see him return to provide the score for a superhero movie.

But when it all comes down to the story for Dark Phoenix, that’s where it just gets messy and turns this into a mediocre film inside the franchise. All I wanted from this was to see a good adaptation of the famous comic how Jean controls her new powers, and since I haven’t read it, I don’t think it was handled well due to Kinberg’s script. Nothing about this second attempt at this story was impressive when it suffers from the same problems from before with character decisions and overall execution, and it doesn’t exactly make sense. Mistakes like these aren’t meant to happen. Hollywood shouldn’t take characters that were ruined before and try to do it again (Venom). It also kind of felt rushed when the third act doesn’t lead to anything important, or when our heroes are dealing with Chastain’s weak antagonist.

This should be put in the group of X-Men movies that doesn’t count as being fun. Fun isn’t the right word to describe whatever this tired to be. If that’s not bad enough, there was never a sense that Dark Phoenix truly felt like it’s a part of the X-Men universe. I felt nothing while this was on, maybe it was because I was feeling a bit tired when I saw this, but surely it was because of the lack of energy.

None of the action sequences were anything to get pumped by since a lot of them doesn’t grab its audience with excitement. Kinberg’s direction was something to worry about, and it just came off as flat in my mind. At least the other X-Men movies took chances with their action scenes and made them memorable and awesome. Where was that in here? Not only that, but how are we supposed to care about these characters when we only got to know the younger version of the mutants one movie ago? You know it’s trying hard when the climax takes place on a train, and it has a couple of cool moments. Actually knowing that the third act was reshot after test screening reactions were bad, you have to wonder what it was originally supposed to be.

Jessica Chastain and Sophie Turner in Dark Phoenix (2019)

As someone who’s a huge fan of this franchise (when it’s good), this wasn’t should’ve been a solid enough conclusion this series and this cast, and it instead fails to do just that. Who knows what will come next for this series. We still have The New Mutants coming out, but I honestly stopped caring about that after numerous push backs keeps delaying it.

Dark Phoenix is shown to be one of the flattest entries in the X-Men franchise. Not only did this installment lack any fun, but it felt empty with no style and fails to connect with any of the characters that fans know, which culminates in this being labeled a major disappointment. Is this the worst X-Men movie to come out? It’s currently the second worst behind Origins: Wolverine. You know it’s depressing when The Last Stand is better. Since Disney now owns Fox, we’re very close to seeing them in the MCU in the near future. All in all, though, this shouldn’t be the way to end things.

Grade: D+

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