Title: Dark Phoenix
Release Date: June 7th, 2019
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Simon Kinberg
Release Format: Theatrical
Dark Phoenix is one of the most emotionally charged X-Men films to date, rising from the ashes of the terrible last film for one last fun go around.
During a mission in space, Jean Grey is imbued with the power of the most unstoppable force in the universe. She becomes unstable, leaving ashes everywhere she steps foot. Now, her team must fight against the end of the world by ending Jean for good.
This story feels more rushed than the last five minutes of a high school math test at times. However, that doesn’t detract from the great dramatic performances and cool action that makes this worth a watch.
A major part of X-Men films has been the characters and this is the end of an almost two-decade story with Dark Phoenix establishing that no one is safe early on. The series has always been Marvel’s big soap opera and the amazing craziness of an X-Men film.
America’s Most Wanted
The question on fan’s minds is if director Simon Kinberg does “The Dark Phoenix Saga” justice the second time around. Yes, but with the understanding that audiences haven’t had much time to get invested in this storyline proper.
Avengers: Endgame basically gave the middle finger to anyone who hasn’t watched their film before. Dark Phoenix is the opposite with an absurd amount of flashbacks to scenes within its own film. Kinberg must be worried about his elderly dementia audience being lost because it loves to replay the same clip over and over.
These constantly replayed scenes are partly done because Dark Phoenix has a lot of unearned moments. There isn’t much buildup of Scott & Jean’s relationship in this or the last and we barely know Turner’s version of Jean or her team. Instead of earning and building to the payoff, it does the Game of Thrones method of “screw it. we’re rushing straight towards the end.”
Boom Boom Pow
The action here is top notch with intense skirmishes that build up to the epic climax. While there isn’t much fighting initially when things pick up, you better hold on to something.
Everyone gets a moment to shine like Nightcrawler having a sequence that rivals his X2 opening. Magneto once again shows why he has a team of background mutants as he wrecks shop by himself. This series has always had fun with old chrome dome since his powers have many stunning possibilities and this film is no exception.
The CGI effects are great for the most part with great visuals supporting this more Sci-Fi inspired story. There’s attention to detail, whether it be the little things like the fire red streaks that appear on Jean or Cerebro graphics looking for mutants.
But, there is a scene that has funky CGI copied from the 2000 film with X-Jet taking off from the mansion court. I had to check if my glasses were on as that looked blurrier than an N64 texture. It’s a small thing but as noticeable as the claws from X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
The alien villains serve literally no purpose here as you can remove them and nothing changes. They are there because there are hordes of them that are super durable, which makes for an excellent fight for the mutants to let loose.
United They Act
The writing here is snappy with moments of extreme cheese that is stickier than theatre floors. The mostly good dialogue is made even better by many of the great performances. These dramatic scenes cover up for a lot of the film’s faults
James McAvoy does the most comic accurate portrayal of Professor X to date thanks to some masterful acting. This is the first time we’ve gotten to see the darker side of him, the same comic side that got a woman pregnant, then left to be with his X-Men.
Charles thinks he knows what’s best and will do whatever he wants to reach that goal. He ends up being no better than Magento and that makes for one of the more interesting story beats.
Nicholas Hoult returns as Beast to act his ass off as if to show why he should have got Matt Reeves’ Batman role. He shows a range of hearing with his characters going through emotional turmoil. There is a chilling scene in the kitchen with Charles where Hoult could have been Ted Bundy with his ice cold stare.
Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) is a comic accurate Phoenix that is dangerous and unpredictable. Turner does her best with the little development given to carry things. It was good before aliens came and “took ‘er job” or development in this case.
Quicksilver (Evan Peters) has been given the show-stealing scenes with every short appearance he’s had. This time around, he’s again back for a short time like some deadbeat dad. His superspeed may be overpowered but why tease such a great character for three movies straight if he can’t be used for more than a cameo.
Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) returns somehow even more checked out than she was in the last entry. You can see her frequently looking off-screen, probably to a clock waiting to leave the set. Not even Quicksilver could move as fast as she did every day to her car.
Verdict: This is a very good film held down by some it’s clunkier sections like the filler villains and so-so buildup. Dark Phoenix stumbles at first but soon takes off to hit its stride only to trip again right at the end.
These issues don’t stop the movie from being enjoyable from start to finish. This cake just needed a little more time in the oven but what came out is still delicious. Spend time at the theatre this weekend to have a fun film with America’s favorite mutants.
What are your favorite and worst X-Men movie? How do you feel going into Dark Phoenix? What’s a comic-book movie you can’t wait to release? Leave your comments!