X-Men: Dark Phoenix will be the last proper X-Men film produced by Twentieth Century Fox, so going into the movie I was hoping that the series could finish on a high and send me home smiling.. instead the only smile that came to my face come the end was at the thought that there won’t ever be another one of these movies made by Fox.
Now let me start by saying that Fox haven’t done an entirely bad job with the franchise, in fact it’s been quite up and down, there’s the highest of highs (I’m looking at you Logan) and the lowest of lows (hello Wolverine Origins) but all in all while watching Dark Phoenix I couldn’t help but feel a certain sense of relief that the Fox/X-Men adventure is finally over.
Coming off the back of the decidedly average X-Men: Apocalypse, Dark Phoenix continues the story roughly a decade later with the majority of the film of course focusing on Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey and the battle with the power inside her called the Dark Phoenix. Turner does a very good job in the role to her credit but not even her acting skills can save what is an underdeveloped lead character who really hasn’t featured heavily enough in previous movies to justify this role. I couldn’t help but ask myself, if the film makers knew that they were heading this way then why only introduce Jean in one movie before now? Why not give fans the chance to love this character before attempting such an ambitions story arc? Either way it hasn’t worked.
Other fan favourite such as James McAvoy’s Professor Xavier and Michael Fassbender’s Magneto make welcome returns and much like the X-Men films that have come before, they’re probably the best characters in the movie. The story they tell with Professor Xavier is interesting and thought provoking though unfortunately they fail to stick the landing which strikes me as a victim of last minute script changes and/or re-shoots. And Magneto.. well in truth Magneto doesn’t really have a story this time round but he has some truly bad ass moments so I can let that slide! Speaking of fan favourites, Quicksilver is back and once again played by the talented Evan Peters. It’s a crying shame and damn right criminal that after having some of the most memorable scenes in the franchise to date that this film barely makes use of him at all. In fact you will find that many of your favourite X-Men are wasted here and this includes Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique who after having one of the most interesting character arcs in the franchise is basically swept aside in this story, undoing all the hard work put in by previous filmmakers up until this point.
Believe it or not this story does have another antagonist played by Jessica Chastain. I’m not going to say too much about her character due to A: Spoilers and B: There really not being a lot to tell. I will say though that we may have a new contender when talking worst comic book movie villains of all time. Speaking of villains, what about Jean Grey and her Phoenix force.. Well it’s fine. There’s nothing glaringly wrong with the direction they decide to take with this story but there’s nothing special or memorable about it either. I think that goes for the majority of the film itself to be fair, the whole thing just feels very flat and middle of the road without doing anything particularly offensive. There were some interesting sub plots added to the story but they never amounted to anything and in the end felt like a waste of time. The ending itself felt more unsatisfying than anything else, especially when you consider that this is meant to be the end of a franchise. Compare this to the ending of something like Avengers: Endgame (admittedly unfair but still) and it becomes laughable, actually compare this to the ending of Fox’s own film – Logan. They’ve proven they can end a characters story with class so why didn’t Dark Phoenix get the same treatment? Maybe we need to look at the writers or maybe I need to look at my own expectations of this films story.
I’ll give credit where it’s due, some of the visual effects were absolutely stunning and the action set pieces were a lot of fun and a joy to watch, especially in the third act. Magneto in particular has some great moments that pushed the boundaries of the films 12A rating to it’s maximum! This is all backed up by a brilliant score by composer Hans Zimmer which made the big moments feel more epic than they really had any right to be. Essentially, although the story wasn’t up to much at least your eyes and ears will be in for a treat.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix is not a bad movie, hell it’s much better than X-Men: The Last Stand which was the last film to attempt this cursed story but that really isn’t saying much. It’s just not very memorable and unlike most comic book movies, I have no desire to go see it again anytime soon. Maybe I’m just burnt out by the X-Men at this point, maybe it was too soon for another telling of the Dark Phoenix story or maybe it’s suffering from being the first superhero movie to hit cinemas since the record breaking masterpiece – Avengers: Endgame. What I do know however is that I’m relieved that we won’t be getting another Fox produced X-Men movie shoved down our throats again. The last thing I want to do is take away from such classics as Logan, Deadpool, X-Men 2 and even First Class but every time something like this comes along I’m reminded why I’m so happy that this property is finally returning home to Marvel.
I give X-Men Dark Phoenix