Aida Vucic | 09/06/2019
The OG story no one asked for; a disappointing, poorly structured ending to the X-Men franchise.
Dark Phoenix follows the history of Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) as she tragically loses both her parents during a car accident and is taken in by Professor Charles Xavier (Jame McAvoy). Fast track a few years and Jean is a member of the X-men team, who’ve been charged with a mission to save a stranded spaceship. During the rescue Jean absorbs a cosmic entity that, rather than killing her, actually makes her more powerful; so much so it sends her spiralling into a murderous rampage.
Incapable of dealing with the new found power and internal conflict, Jean finds solace in a mysterious alien life form masquerading in the body of Jessica Chastain, who, unlike her X-men family, is encouraging of these new found powers. The X-men are confronted with a devastating choice - to save one of their own, or to save the world.
One of the questions you’ll find yourself asking a lot during X-Men: Dark Phoenix is why? Most presciently, the question is around why this movie exists, and writer / director Simon Kinberg never really managers to shake the feeling that there is absolutely no purpose to this instalment.
Partly, this is down to structural issues. Dark Phoenix starts with little introduction to our characters, and continues fairly monotonously until a climax on a train that you’ll be shocked to discover is the final, epic battle for our heroes. Everything is told in the same way, with no rise and fall in tension; indeed, no tension at all.
That is coupled with a villain who is never adequately explained or given anything to do. Chastain’s role is utterly thankless, and immediately forgettable.
Dark Phoenix tries to maintain the strong sense of unity/family that the earlier films had and which created our strong attachment to the characters, but here too it fails miserably. It is this failing that perhaps hurts the film the most. Not even the few moments we are gifted between Magneto and Charles can salvage the film or bring any depth.
The script is patently indigestible; most so with lines reflective of the #metoo movement that, rather than igniting any semblance of emotion, come across as detached and merely a tool used to pander to this generations ideals. Besides these sensationalised one liners, the majority of dialogue is relatively stale and performances match. It is clear that McAvoy, Fassbender and Lawrence no longer have any interest in the franchise, and their roles seem wasted in the film.
A disappointing film in nearly every respect.