After the complete final destruction of the world – the apocalypse – the longest-running comic-book movie franchise attempts to rise from the ashes in its finale, Dark Phoenix. The direct sequel to 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse, the film deals with the X-Men as they come face to face with the Phoenix force. The 12th installment of the X-Men franchise sees the directorial debut of longtime X-Men writer Simon Kinberg with an ensemble cast that includes: , Sophie Turner, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender. Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan. Alexandra Shipp, Jessica Chastain and Evan Peters. Spoilers after the trailer.
So Dark and So Grey
If time is a construct then the X-Men franchise idea of a timeline is a cinematic demolition. X-Men: Days of Future Past was supposed to fix the timeline, it wasn’t a perfect fix by any means, yet every film after has done its best to ruin continuity. In Apocalypse, a film that takes place roughly a decade before Dark Phoenix, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) uses the power of the Phoenix force to defeat Apocalypse and if the franchise ended on this note then things would be fine.
Unfortunately, Simon Kinberg, the writer of Apocalypse and writer-director of this film, didn’t take that into consideration when creating this movie. Jean Grey goes into space with the rest of the X-Men to rescue astronauts on a failed mission. Unbeknownst to them, there’s a solar flare that turns out to be the Phoenix force. Jean Grey absorbs the Phoenix force and that’s how she gets her powers.
While the X-Men are in space, the scene stealer and most interesting character is Quicksilver (Evan Peters), who has some of the best scenes in the entire franchise. He and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) do the heavy lifting when it comes to rescuing the astronauts as they combine their powers to teleport and save each one. Check out the clip below:
After the space scene there isn’t much to look forward to throughout the movie because this franchise hasn’t given the audience a reason to care about these characters. Jean finds out that Professor X (James McAvoy) has tampered with her mind to hide the face that she is responsible for the death of her mother. Once Jean finds out she doesn’t trust the X-Men and goes to find her father.
Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and the rest of the X-Men set out to find Jean but thanks to the Phoenix force, Jean is too powerful for them to stop. Mystique tries to comfort Jean but Jean can’t control the power of the Phoenix and ends up killing Mystique.
Sophie Turner is doing her best to carry this material, but Jennifer Lawrence shouldn’t have even showed up in this movie because she CLEARLY didn’t want to be there. Saying that the best thing this movie did was kill off the dreadful Mystique early on is an understatement. Lawrence wasn’t the only person who did not care about Mystique, the effects team also did not put in any effort in her costume. Just look at this:
Lawrence half delivered all of her lines and was emotionless in every scene that she was in. Her death scene was comical which makes you wonder if she was going to act like that then why show up?
The rest of the X-Men, even if they didn’t want to be there, didn’t phone it in as much as J-Law. Their characters severely lacked any type of character development but they made the most out of what they were given. There’s a romance between Mystique and Beast/Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) that comes out of nowhere and doesn’t feel authentic in the slightest.
Cyclops/Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) is Jean’s lover but this relationship hasn’t been built up in this or previous movies so it’s impossible to care when things go haywire. They even make Cyclops drop an F-bomb in the least threatening way.
Quicksilver gets nerfed early on because, I guess, he’s too powerful, which writes the most interesting X-Men out of the film early on. Nightcrawler and Storm (Alexandra Shipp) are two mutants that were introduced in X-Men: Apocalypse that would’ve benefited the movie if they had more screen time. Nightcrawler’s teleportation powers are put to good use and spread throughout the film.
What is an X-Men film without Magneto (Michael Fassbender)? After finding out about the death of Mystique by the hands of Jean, Magnet goes all out to avenge the one that he loved. All of Magneto’s best moments in this film involve trains. He levitates a subway from underground and has the best fight scene in the entire film during the third act.
During the film’s big fight sequence, Magneto attempts to save the X-Men from the threat of a common enemy as the big set piece takes place on a train. This part of the film feels completely different than the action pieces during the first two acts. It turns out that the production crew had to change the planned fight sequence due to Marvel Studios’ other female superhero.
Lastly, an actress of the caliber of Jessica Chastain was a complete waste and not given anything to do. This may be due to the fact her character is a shapeshifter which is similar to the Kree that appear in Captain Marvel……but man, it was brutal to watch her meander through this film.
The longest-running superhero film franchise went out with a slow and painful death. A franchise that was mishandled by producers who seemed to care more about profits than creating an enjoyable film. Dark Phoenix isn’t a terrible movie, instead it is a very bland one. Sophie Turner does her best as Jean Grey but unfortunately the audience never gets a chance to know her. If these films would’ve taken their time and planted the seeds to build her up then this movie would’ve been far more enjoyable. Ironically, this film and franchise needed some new life, some new blood, some new mutants, instead the Phoenix Force allowed the series to die a dark death in the vacuum of space.
[All Mames Wey]
Dark Phoenix was released in theaters May 24, 2019.
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