It has been roughly twenty years since the initial “X-Men” first graced the silver screen, and here we are concluding with what is arguably the most significant story in the source material’s illustrious history…or so they would like us to believe.
Sophie Turner (Jonas?) returns as the title character in Simon Kinberg’s “Dark Phoenix,” struggling with a power greater than any entity has ever experienced after a rescue mission of astronauts in 1992, spawning issues of control that are only multiplied by the power she has always had and her own demons. Oh yeah, and there’s also an ancient race seeking to harness that power.
Cutting to the chase: this movie may have been well-received a decade ago and even possibly lauded, but it can’t step into the arena Marvel has created with the MCU (more on that in a minute). This film is an uneven bell curve with a great start, but after that, it meanders through emotionally laden drivel that might have an effect if the cause was not spoiled in the first trailer and doubt removed BY THE DIRECTOR CONFIRMING WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN A SURPRISE FOR THE AUDIENCE. If you missed this news, don’t go looking for it because it ruins (I repeat) RUINS what should be the linchpin of the plot. I envy anyone who was able to walk into this unjaded.
Partial redemption comes from the fact that this is the darkest and most gritty “X-Men” feature, and much of the action showcases this well, even if the graphics sometimes become cartoonishly bad. The fight sequences are well choreographed and feel like they matter more than they have in prior outings, but I wonder if that could be because this is the final movie where the X in 20th Century Fox is last thing on the studio logo showing to open the picture. However, I do believe this was done with hard work and rehearsal. The “X-Men film mandated convoy fight” towards the end of the picture was a fantastic showcase of how enjoyable these films can be at their best. Despite how great Kodi Smit-McPhee, Michael Fassbender, and James McAvoy are during this portion of the picture, it doesn’t do enough to save the blasé acting and story presented in the other 90% of “Dark Phoenix”. When one of the best scenes is a tongue in cheek visual joke of the team beating up their captors (you CAN’T miss it), there isn’t much to celebrate beyond the hope that Disney can better save the X-Men and entertain us as an audience.