Dark Phoenix Review

I never thought I'd say this but X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) may actually be better than Dark Phoenix. I really don't like writing negative reviews but there really isn't much to be positive about when considering Dark Phoenix. Dark Phoenix at best has some glimmering moments in a swirl of nothing. It's so sad that the X-Men movies did not get the satisfying or even good ending they deserved. These X-Men films are what introduced me to Marvel as a child and I hate that the final film falls flat. Please read on to see what I thought, I promise to not be to negative. There will be spoilers!!
(Also check out my predictions on who could play the X-Men in the MCU here:https://thisisjustafilmblog.blogspot.com/2018/09/marvel-who-could-play-who.html
The film opens with a young Jean Grey (Summer Fontana) causing the death of her parents in a car crash, she is taken in by Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) who takes her to his school to learn how to use her powers. The film then jumps to 1992 where the X-Men fly to space to save a group of astronauts from the Phoenix force (although at this point no one knows what it is). The team made up of Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Quicksliver (Evan Peters) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) manage to save the astronauts but the Phoenix force enters Jean after she fails to get back to the X-Jet in time. The X-Men travel back to earth where they are hailed as hero's which causes Mystique to question Charles' motives. Jean now the most powerful mutant begins to break the blocks Charles placed in her mind as a child (her father is still alive/she killed her mother), she leaves the school and goes on a trail of destruction before killing Mystique. Jean seeks refuge on Magneto's (Michael Fassbender) island; however he turns her away. Then the story starts making little sense as aliens lead my Vuk (Jessica Chastain) are introduced and the mutants must pick sides. Honestly this narrative is so full of holes, pointless characters and random moments.

So, what where the glimmering moments? The fight scenes were pretty great, especially the final train fight. I loved the little team up shot of the X-Men including Magneto and his team. I thought the film started off great with the flashback scene and then the space mission. I loved the moment Magneto pulled a subway carriage out of the ground. I love that they finally included Dazzler. I really liked the way they showed Jean's powers; I loved the final fight where she disintegrates the aliens however for some reason her powers still felt muted. I never got a sense of pure power which I did get in X-Men: The Last Stand. The CGI effects were also pretty great. But even thought I enjoyed these scenes there was a little voice in the back of my head that kept chanting 'nothing makes sense'. Dark Phoenix seems to forget narrative moments from its predecessors especially X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) and even X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) (both of which I loved). We never get to see the comic book accurate costumes that were teased at the end of Apocalypse, which was a real shame. Also, and I may be wrong but Magneto and Storm seem to have forgotten that their powers were enhanced by Apocalypse in the previous movie. Because for the majority of the film Storm does nothing but use a few lightning bolts and make ice cubes at a party. Again, I may be wrong but the ending of Days of Future Past is end game right? But Dark Phoenix does not even remotely try to stay on course for that ending, Jean ends the movie as Phoenix in space, Charles is retired, beast is running the school?? I'm confused!!

This paragraph is going to be a little negative. So, what did I not like? The score for starters was just awful! The film may actually have been better without the score, it added no emotion, it didn't even match the action on screen most of the time. There was no X-Men theme, no Magneto theme, no nothing. The score actively pulled me from the film. I have already mentioned the narrative but honestly what was the point of the aliens? Like they made no sense, there was no development nothing. Also, the film was paced so weird, there was no builds in tension, everything just felt flat. Then there's the tone, the film just seemed so out of place, like it had lost its X-Men heart. That's not to say the film wasn't full of emotion it was full of one emotion - sadness! It had no heart, no happiness, no power, no goose bump epic moments. Sadly, the relationship between Jean and Scott lacks chemistry and the film could have just ignored their relationship and had the same outcome. I know that Hugh Jackman retired from the role of Wolverine, but this was the first X-Men movie without him and he is missed! Plus, as we all know Wolverine must always kill the Phoenix. So, you know how everyone hated Mystique because she was too much of a main character and she was made into a good guy? Well in this film she dies! Yay you say? Nay I say she was actually the most interesting part of the film and keeping her alive could have saved some of the narrative considering she had motive and heart. (Plus, her line about renaming the X-Men to X-Women was awesome!!).    

I was really looking forward to this film and it's such a shame that it was barely even good. Dark Phoenix had such great potential that was wasted, I honestly felt like I was watching a first cut not a finished product, which is a shame considering the amount of time and talent that went into its creation. I can't fault the acting, everyone was brilliant. I thought they managed to create the 1990s pretty well. But will I be rushing to see this again? No. Part of me thinks they should have ended these films at Days of Future Past, I would have even welcomed a continuation with the original cast. As I said at the start Dark Phoenix is miss able with some glimmering moments that struggle to save this film from its flat narrative and tonal imbalance. 

Thank you for reading xx

Make sure you check out my Who Could Play Who post here: https://thisisjustafilmblog.blogspot.com/2018/09/marvel-who-could-play-who.html

Let me know what you think in the comments below. 

Comments

  1. Peter C9/6/19

    I was not a fan. I nearly left the cinema after 10 mins. Young jean grey bit was awesome and had emotion to the story but after that it went downhill for me.

    Here was my grievances about the film

    SPOILERS FOR ANYONE READING THIS!

    Storm cannot make ice cubes in a small space. I felt that was a joke and didn’t really show her off enough. Nightcrawler I felt was everyone’s little whipping boy (Kurt take me here, Kurt I need you, Kurt to me!!) his potential at the end was good but they should have put that in a whooole lot sooner than they did! He is an awesome character.

    Jean literally absorbed the Phoenix force and everyone watched and were like yeah that’s fine!
    And when she exploded in the woods, they took her back in her room rather than a safer place! How irresponsible
    Professor X showed no remorse throughout the whole thing and he was far too ignorant. Especially when mystique died. Plus mystique died for what purpose. Quicksilver we didn’t see again or had little cameos.
    For quicksilver they have done these amazing slow-mo scenes and I was really looking forward to one!
    X-men working for the president felt too much like Super-Friends to me
    Magneto was a better person in this film than Professor X! He said more emotion and character and depth than Charles Xavier.
    The end scene playing chess I felt the roles should have been reversed like that should have been Charles saying that speech to Eric. I felt the roles were very much revered. Plus Magneto suddenly retiring to a little farmland like seriously?
    The aliens to me didn’t show a lot of villain and depth. I know they were there for the Phoenix force but didn’t really seem like villains until the end.

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  2. Darcie16/6/19

    Thank you for reading and for your comment Peter. I so agree Nightcrawler was underused especially when you consider his potential. Yes I wondered where Quicksilver was for most of the movie - we didn't even get a full slow motional scene! I think the did a 360 on magnetic - I thought at first the farmland was a joke and that it might be a front for an evil plan but nope! I could not agree more with your comments!! I really expected so much more from this film.

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