Dark Phoenix Flames Out
Chris Kavan - wrote on 06/16/19
The best thing I can say about Dark Phoenix is that I liked it better than Apocalypse. It still is a sad ending to a good franchise as it lacks the emotional depth for such a powerful story. Big moments that should have a major impact just fall flat and you really connect with the characters.
Things start off well enough, in a nice 90s touch, the X-Men - now friends to the U.S. Government, are called in to save the space shuttle Endeavor after it encounters some malfunction in space. Our core group is here - Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Quicksilver (Evan Peters), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) and Jean Grey (Sophie Turner). Despite his hesitations about using the never-tested-for-space plane, Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) wants to prove once and for all that mutants are a boon to mankind, not something to be feared. Thus our team manages to save the astronauts, but not before Jean seemingly absorbs the strange energy that bombarded the ship.
While seemingly fine, Jean begins to experience rapid surges of power - a power that also breaks down the mental blocks that Charles put up - with good intentions - but none-the-less open doors to painful memories. Jean, realizing her father, who she thought dead all these years, is still alive, goes to confront him - while the X-Men follow, hoping to help her. But Jean is losing trust in those around her and, striking back in anger, injures and even kills - and fracturing the team in those who want to save her... and those who want her dead. Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is eventually brought back into the fold, while an alien race also looks to harness the power within Jean - led by Vuk, who has taken over the body of a human (Jessica Chastain), and has other such sleeper agents ready and willing to fight.
The film has some nice action, but what it lacks it character development. You never get enough out of Turner or Sheridan or most of the newer mutants to really care about them. While Hoult, McAvoy and Fassbender are all treated a bit better - even they are not given nearly enough. Peters, always the "fun" standout as Quicksilver is pretty much sidelined for most of the film - thus we don't even get to enjoy that usual standout scene. The story suffers as well - when it should be focusing on Jean, she is actually not in the film all that much, with the guys doing the heavy lifting for her, and it just doesn't work as well as the original story.
Director Simon Kinberg has owned up to the film - but he has one good point, if the studio hadn't been so intent on releasing this during the busy summer season, it probably would have had a much better reception. As it stands, this is how the current X-Men franchise ends, not with a bang, but a whimper.