'Dark Phoenix' Review
Dark Phoenix is a 2019 superhero film based on the Marvel Comics X-Men characters, produced by 20th Century Fox and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is the twelfth installment in the X-Men film series, a direct sequel to X-Men: Apocalypse (2016), and the seventh and final installment in the main X-Men series. The film is written and directed by Simon Kinberg and stars an ensemble cast featuring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, and Jessica Chastain.
During a life-threatening rescue mission in space, Jean is hit by a cosmic force that transforms her into one of the most powerful mutants of all. Wrestling with this increasingly unstable power as well as her own personal demons, Jean spirals out of control, tearing the X-Men family apart and threatening to destroy the very fabric of our planet. It is the culmination of 20 years of X-Men movies, as the family of mutants that we’ve come to know and love must face their most devastating enemy yet, one of their own.
Dark Phoenix was honestly the first X-Men film I wasn't that exited for, and I almost forgot about. Now after watching it, I can say I was still disappointed. The film made a lot of mistakes and did so many things wrong. It felt like such a big missed opportunity, because the film itself had potential. Disappointing is the only word I can really think off.
Looking back, the only X-Men film I genuinely didn't like was X-Men: Origins. Last Stand wasn't great and definitely a little disappointing, but I didn't think it was bad. Apocalypse was one that a lot of people didn't like, but one I personally really enjoyed. Dark Phoenix's definitely not the worst X-Men film, but it's also far from the best.
One of the biggest problems I had was the pacing. The film was so slow for over an hour, and didn't really pick up until the last 30 or so minutes. The film tries to get going but it never really worked. The story felt a little stuck. This made the film feel very slow, sluggish, and a little boring.
Another problem I had was that a lot of the characters felt wasted. Two in particular were Mystique and Magneto. Professor X and Jean Grey are really the only ones shown any real attention. Every other character felt like they were just there to be there.
The villain really gets wasted. I can't even remember her name. She was interesting at first, but after a while she felt so irrelevant to the story. I understand they were trying to tell a more personal and inner conflict story, but why introduce a potentially great character only to not use her. After watching the entire film, I thought it would have been a lot better if they would've kept it a lot more personal and only focused on the X-Men.
With the exception of the ending climax, the film was pretty confined action wise. There just wasn't a lot happening. They also disappointingly didn't unleash the Dark Phoenix at all. It's just Jean with a light up face. It felt like they were trying to force some kind of conflict, and they tried to villainize Charles Xavier. I don't know if it's just because I love the character, but I really didn't like it.
Dark Phoenix played it way too easy. This is the last film in this particular franchise, but there was absolutely nothing special about it. It's not the worst X-Men film, and overall it's an OK film, but it was still very disappointing.
The acting was good, but like I said before, a lot of characters get wasted.
James McAvoy was great. I love him as Professor X and this film was no different. There was one scene in particular that really got to me. After some stuff happens, Mutants are seen as the enemy (shocking), and Charles hears the news and has a moment of defeat that was really heartbreaking.
Sophie Turner also did a great job and really gave much needed life to a, at times, boring film.
Michael Fassbender is an actor I love, and I love him as Magneto. He was great in First Class, Days of Future Past, and Apocalypse. The only three actors I want Disney to keep are James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Ryan Reynolds. With that being said, he was good in this film, but he just didn't have anything to do.
Jennifer Lawrence is an actress I really like, but with that being said, I've never really liked her as Mystique. Maybe with the exception of First Class, her character never really worked for me. Magneto and Mystique are both in my top five favorite comic book characters ever, with Magneto being my favorite villain. But now when I picture Mystique, all I see is Jenifer Lawrence, and she's not bad acting wise. She just doesn't do the character justice, and here she gets wasted.
The rest of the X-Men were again underused, maybe with the exception of Beast. Jessica Chastain really played her part well, but she's not given much to do.
The film was very well acted by great actors and actresses, but with the exception of James McAvoy and Sophie Turner, no one gets the opportunity to be great.
The plot is where the film really struggles.
It started off on the right track. They introduced the Phoenix pretty quickly, but from there nothing really happened for around 30 minutes. Then nothing happened until the end. There were so many long drawn out moments were nothing particularly interesting happened. It made large portions of the film boring.
Pacing was such a big issue. The film wasn't able to build up a substantiable amount of momentum, making the entire film drag. The middle of the film really struggled. It felt so sluggish and boring.
The film relied so much on its ending, but it didn't necessarily build up to it. What I mean is that the ending is where everything kinda comes together, but there wasn't enough there to justify a lot of the film and it kinda makes the ending feel a little out of place.
It just felt like there wasn't much of a story to be told. Add that to the fact that the film really lacked action and they felt the need to contain the Dark Phoenix. It just felt so slow.
The film starts with the X-Men going into space to save some astronauts. Then Jean Grey's Phoenix thing happens.
I had a small problem with the way the Phoenix was treated. At times it was treated as its on entity. Jessica Chastain's character followed it around the universe before it chose Jean. For most of the film, you hear the characters saying it's not really Jean. Treating the Phoenix like that was fine, but they also try to portray it as something that's been in Jean forever. At times they treat it like a personal demon she's got to overcome. It was a little conflicting watching someone basically get possessed, but it being treated more like a personal conflict. A lot of her past is brought up and they treated the Phoenix as if it was a product of it. I don't mind them treating it like a living thing or treating it like something that's always been inside of her, but they definitely should put choose one specific approach.
Another problem I had was that Mystique feels so wasted. In this specific film, I remember her character as Jennifer Lawrence saying X-Women, and I don't think that's a good thing. Her death really sets the film in motion, but it really didn't do anything for me. It felt rushed and a little cheap. I remember feeling so much more emotion for Mystique in Last Stand when she gets hit with the cure, but here I really didn't feel anything.
Another problem I had was with Magneto. In addition to his character being underused and completely wasted he just felt like a cheap way to add a little drama to the fun. Magneto's got a habit of switching sides a lot. First he's working with the good guys then he's the bad guy and vice versa, but every time (at least in the films) he switches it made sense. Here it just felt so forced and unnecessary. He was irrelevant to the plot until he finds out what happened to Mystique. Then he decides to kill Jean, but later joins the X-Men. I found it disappointing mainly because he's one of my favorite comic book characters, not to mention this is the final film.
Jean died (sorta) and I didn't feel anything. It felt more when Charles and Eric decided to play a game of chess. The film really struggle to make you care and feel any real emotions.
Overall this film was a huge missed opportunity. I personally didn't think the film was necessarily bad, but so many things in the film are borderline OK at best.
The plot was flat, so many characters get wasted, the villain barely does anything until the end, and the film felt slow and boring. It's even worse given its the final film in this X-Men franchise.
Dark Phoenix wasn't the worst X-Men film, but the film was so disappointing.
© 2019 Royce Proctor