While the X-Men are on a rescue mission, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) comes into contact with an alien force, causing her powers to grow stronger and more uncontrollable. The rest of the X-Men must find a way to stop Jean without killing her.
We’ve reached the end of an era. With Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox, X-Men: Dark Phoenix is the final entry of an era that started in 1999 with X-Men, one of the early films to kick off the current age of superhero film. How does Dark Phoenix bring the saga to a close? Unfortunately not as spectacular as the saga began, which is a shame because there are glimmers of what could have been a good movie.
Apparently, this second attempt at bringing Chris Claremont’s coveted Dark Phoenix Saga was supposed to be two movies. But with Disney’s acquiring of Fox’s movie division, it was condensed into one film. These edits can be felt throughout the film. It sets up the conflict nice and steadily. As the movie progresses, it slowly feels more and more rushed. By the end, the film gets to a climax it wasn’t prepared for. This creates an awkward pacing at times that, while not entirely jarring, is noticeable.
Many of the cast from the previous First Class era returns. James McAvoy returns as Professor Xavier. One thing I liked they did with his character this time was, despite his noble intentions and ideals, Xavier has made some questionable decisions to obtain them. This has been explored more recently in the comics and it was great to see some of that make it onto the big screen. McAvoy is enjoyable as always in the part.
Michael Fassbender returns as Magneto but with much less of a role than the previous films. This time around, he doesn’t feel as menacing and I’m not sure if that’s because writer/director Simon Kinberg wanted Phoenix to feel the most threatening or if because he’s had three films to be the strongest villain. Whatever the reason, his character clearly takes a hit in this film.
Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Holt are the last few to round out those who have been around since X-Men: First Class. In making way for the new class of X-Men, these two don’t get much time. You can tell that by this point in the series, they aren’t into their roles as they were in the earlier films. They don’t have the same charisma as before.
As for the new class, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, and Kodi Smit-McPhee, they all do fine but that’s it, just fine. I don’t think it is their fault. The script and direction wasn’t there to support them. Jessica Chastain, the newest member of the cast, can usually elevate a role beyond what is written. Unfortunately, she encounters the same problem as the younger cast members and doesn’t have the room to elevate such a one-dimensional villain.
Honestly, the one I feel most sorry for in this mess is writer and first-time director Simon Kinberg. He was one of the writers for X-Men: The Last Stand, the last film to attempt to adapt the Dark Phoenix storyline. From reading about the behind the scenes drama, he knew the mistakes of The Last Stand and had a plan to do the story right. However, when he was forced to combine his two Dark Phoenix movies into one, much of that went out the door. Now he is known as the writer who messed up adapting the Dark Phoenix Saga twice, which seems unfair given what happened.
I thought X-Men: Dark Phoenix was OK 😐 Most of the issues with this movie can be boiled down to the script. The pacing was off, the characters were flat, and the veteran actors of the franchise weren’t as dynamic or lively as the previous films. This was a much closer adaptation of the popular story line, and at times it showed hints of what could have been great moments, but it lacks the weight and heart that made the influential comic so popular.
Cast & Crew
Simon Kinberg – Director / Writer
Hans Zimmer – Composer
Sophie Turner – Jean Grey / Phoenix
Tye Sheridan – Scott Summers / Cyclops
Alexandra Shipp – Ororo Munroe / Storm
Kodi Smit-McPhee – Kurt wagner / Nightcrawler
Nicholas Hoult – Hank McCoy / Beast
Jennifer Lawrence – Raven / Mystique
Evan Peters – Peter Maximoff / Quicksilver
James McAvoy – Professor Charles Xavier
Michael Fassbender – Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto
Jessica Chastain – Vuk
Ato Essandoh – Jones
Scott Shepart – John Grey
Hannah Anderson – Elaine Grey
Summer Fontana – Young Jean Grey
Last week I announced the Christmas in July 2019 Blogathon. To find out more, check out the post here.