Dark Phoenix review
When Disney purchased 20thCentury Fox, a lot of people had questions about their properties, but most of them were about the X-Men. Where would the series go? Can it continue? Should it continue? Can it be incorporated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe? In a way, I think the officials at Fox are still trying to figure that out. I can't be easy to not only be told that you have new owners, but also that the series may not last longer regardless of the fans want. I would not want to be anyone working on those movies and I really have a lot of empathy for their situation.
Given that, the X-Men series has lasted over eighteen years, which is longer then the MCU. It's had it's ups and downs, but it was a series that proved that superheroes could not only be made into good movies, but could be a big money maker as well. Cut to 2019 and in an age where comics are more popular then ever, people still want to see story arcs that are ripe for a cinematic adaptation. One of them had already been given a shot in X-Men: The Last Stand, which was negatively received. It now has a second shot in the appropriately named Dark Phoenix.
Like in the previous X-Menmovies, Charles Xavier (played by James McAvoy) runs his school for mutants where children are taught and not shunned by society while the teachers are acting heroes. After what happened in X-Men: Apocalypse, they've been more accepted and are even on call to the US president for anytime their needed. One such mission in 1992 sends a group of X-Men to space to help out an accident on the space shuttle Endeavor. Some of them include Raven/Mystique (played by Jennifer Lawrence), Beast (played by Nicholas Hoult), Nightcrawler (played by Kodi Smit-McPhee), Cyclops (played by Tye Sheridan) and Storm (Played by Alexandra Shipp).
While the mission to save the astronauts, one member ends up sucking in a lot of cosmic energy. This one is Jean Grey (played by Sophie Turner), a psychic mutant who is just as powerful, if not more then Charles Xavier with psychic powers. She survives, but her abilities have become even more unstable and dangerous. In anger, she leaves the school and manages to find Magneto (Played by Michael Fassbender) asking for help. At the same time, she's visited by a cosmic shapeshifter Vuk (played by Jessica Chastain) who encourages her negative actions. Can the X-Men help Jean Grey and prevent the "Dark Phoenix" monster from emerging?
You'd think that getting a second chance would be a benefit for Dark Phoenix and it's famous saga. The sad part is when I compare it to the original, I think I'd rather watch X-Men: The Last Stand. While that one is at least somewhat memorable, Dark Phoenix is a dull, boring slog that repeats more of the same mutant discrimination and "whose on what team" dilemma that a lot of these movies have done.
What a shame is that there is a large cast that is ready to go with their characters. With the exception of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, everyone either seems to be in a monotone or just an uncaring vibe. We know Jennifer Lawrence can be a great actress, but everything about her performance was just uncaring. And it's not just her. Jessica Chastain is also a phenomenal actress, but I can't recall a single line of dialogue. Every character has this, and the blame goes on writer/director Simon Kinberg.
It's clear that Simon Kinberg wanted to keep his story dark and serious to emphasize the dramatic danger. Compare to Avengers: Endgame where despite also having a dark story, you still get a sense of fun as the characters are allowed to crack an occasional joke and have a lot of human moments. The people in Dark Phoenix are rarely given that. It's just dull exposition with some dull action. It's even more obvious in the third act which has a large train battle. It could have regained my interest, but I had already lost attention in what happens to anyone. I cannot emphasize the importance of strong characters.
I'll give this one and a half X-Men comics out of five. What a bad, anticlimactic ending to the X-Men saga! I can say that this is the worst of the series (yes, even more then X-Men Origins: Wolverine). It's one thing to botch a fan favorite story, but another to make it more boring then paying taxes. It's time for the Mutant Academy to close and return these heroes to Marvel.