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Movie Review: “X-Men: Dark Phoenix”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 6/7/2019

Theatrical Release: 6/7/2019

Synopsis

On a rescue mission gone horribly wrong, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) was caught in an explosion. However, miraculously, she absorbed all of the energy from that explosion. At first, Jean seems to have suffered no injuries at all, and she feels better than ever, but Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) runs some tests and determines that the magnitude of her power after the incident is unlike anything he has ever seen. There is a great power within her, a power that the X-Men do not understand, and with it comes an incredible darkness.

This dark power puts the people Jean cares about in great danger, and in her search for answers, Jean learns of a great secret that Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) has been keeping from her since she was a child. Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and his brotherhood of mutants set out to stop Jean before anyone else gets hurt, while Charles and the X-Men try to save her. Unfortunately, they are not the only ones trying to find Jean, as a mysterious entity (Jessica Chastain) has her sights set on the power that Jean now possesses.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Sophie Turner (+4pts)

Charles (-4pts)

Michael Fassbender (+3pts)

Jessica Chastain (-4pts)

The Climax (+4pts)

The Plot & The Pacing (-6pts)

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Pro: Sophie Turner (+4pts)

Sophie Turner had to carry a lot of this movie. Her character very obviously drove the plot of this story, so Sophie Turner got a lot of dramatic moments to sink her teeth into. Her character went through a lot, and I thought Sophie Turner did a pretty decent job with all of it. Jean Grey started the movie as a confident, and proud member of the X-Men. She then went on a very emotional and tragic journey.

Jean became an outcast, she had to deal with trauma from her past, and she had to go through all of this while dealing with an incredibly powerful force that she knew nothing about. She feared that she could control the power within her, and she feared that she could protect those she cared about from that power. This was not the type of performance that will stick with you after the movie is over, but Sophie Turner delivered the performance that the story needed from her. This was not a great movie, but Sophie Turner was far from being one of the reasons why.

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Con: Charles (-4pts)

I really did not like where the filmmakers took this character in this movie. For the sake of moving the plot along, the writers had Charles do things that did not make any sense for the character. We have seen James McAvoy’s version of Charles Xavier over the course of a few movies. Has he always made the right decisions? No, but he over the course of a few movies, he becamse a character that was as wise as he was compassionate, especially caring for the young mutants that he looks after. Was the character in a sound state of mind at the beginning of X-Men: Days of Future Past? No, but he very much grew from that.

The writers of this movie seemed to go take a step backward. They did it for the sake of moving the plot along, but they did not give the character any development that showed how he became this way. The filmmakers ignored everything about the character that came before, which made this feel more like an alternate version of the Charles that should have been in this movie. If we had not seen a bunch of other movies featuring this character, then this would have been okay. However in the final movie of Fox’s X-Men franchise, the filmmakers decided to deliver a version of Charles that was inconsistent with everything that came before.

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Pro: Michael Fassbender (+3pts)

As always, Michael Fassbender delivered a great performance. His character did not get much development in this story, but Michael Fassbender gave Magneto enough depth to make him compelling to watch anyway. The character was in pain, the character was angry, the character wanted revenge, and he wanted to protect his fellow mutants. We have seen all of this before with this character, and we have seen Michael Fassbender do a great job of bringing all of these emotion to the screen.

Michael Fassbender did not bring anything “different” to the role in this movie, as the writers did not give him anything “different” to work with. However, his character was not the focal point of this movie. He delivered the strong performance that we have grown to expect from him and this character. It was the performance that the character needed from him and it was the performance that the movie needed from the character. I have seen Michael Fassbender do it better, but he certainly delivered, and he made this movie more entertaining to watch whenever he was on screen.

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Con: Jessica Chastain (-4pts)

Jessica Chastain was definitely not the problem here, but it was instead her character. Her character was an alien and she was after Jean Grey for some reason that I will not get into here. This whole storyline felt unnecessary and it felt like a distraction from the story that I wanted to see. I wanted to see how each of the mutants that we were familiar with dealt with the power of Dark Phoenix.

I wanted to see the X-Men and Magneto struggle with the ramifications of what the Dark Phoenix did. The filmmakers definitely focused on that a little, but the Chastain-alien storyline was forced into the movie as well, and it was far less interesting. The character did nothing other than take screen time away from more interesting characters. Through all of her character's scenes and development, I could not help but think that I did not care about any of it. It just made it obvious that the filmmakers once again lost sight of what is so interesting about the Dark Phoenix storyline.

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Pro: The Climax (+4pts)

Even though the plot was a bit of a mess, which I will get into later, I still enjoyed the climax of this movie. There was plenty of mutant action, and I thought the filmmakers did a pretty good job of showcasing each mutant’s abilities in cool and entertaining ways. The action, as a whole, was pretty good, but I found the action in the climax of the movie was certainly more entertaining than the action sequences that came earlier. Knowing the issues that I had with the movie, my enjoyment of the movie’s climax should be a testament to how well I thought the filmmakers handled the action in it.

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Con: The Plot & The Pacing (-6pts)

The plot of X-Men: Dark Phoenix felt chopped up and slapped together. It felt like the filmmakers tried to put too much into this story, and it felt like they did not care if what they were putting in here made any sense. I honestly think there was a decent story in here somewhere, but it was muddied by poor writing and irrelevant storylines. It felt like I was watching one random, meaningless scene after another.

While I had my issues with the plot, it was the pacing of the movie that made the plot issues even more obvious. Between seemingly random scenes, the filmmakers made awkward transitions that slowed the story down and took me out of the movie. The best way for me to explain it would be to compare this movie to Frankenstein‘s monster. You can call this a movie in the same way you can say that Frankenstein‘s monster is alive, but the blatant stitch work from multiple rewrites and reshoots was hard to ignore.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: C- (72pts)

I had heard plenty of bad buzz about this movie months before its release date. That being said, with Disney buying Fox, this would be the last movie in Fox’s X-Men franchise, so I was curious enough to see how things would go down. Unfortunately, the bad buzz was mostly accurate, but it may have been a bit too harsh. The movie suffered from a somewhat incoherent story, poor pacing, and an uninteresting antagonist. The filmmakers also decided to develop Charles Xavier in a way that felt pretty inconsistent from the version of the character we saw in the movies leading up to this one. Fortunately, the movie was not all bad, but its weaknesses mostly outweighed its strengths.

Sophie Turner did a pretty good job in the lead role, and Michael Fassbender delivered the strong, layered performance that we have come to expect from the talented actor. Even the final action sequence, once we got there, was pretty entertaining. There was a lot going on in this action sequence, with a lot of different characters using a wide variety of powers, but the filmmakers did a pretty solid job of making it both engaging and entertaining. At the end of the day, X-Men: Dark Phoenix suffered from some pretty major issues, but I honestly do not think it was the absolute trash that many negative reviews would have you to believe. I think the issues that people had were justified, but I think that a lot of reviews exaggerated the severity of those issues. I would not go as far as to say it was "bad", but you will definitely find it toward the bottom of most lists ranking Fox's X-Men movies.

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