X-Men: Dark Phoenix – Film Review
by Fran Winston
Directed by: Simon Kinberg
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Alexandra Shipp, Evan Peters, Jessica Chastain
In cinemas June 5th
Since this is the 12th movie in the X-Men film series and the 7th instalment in the main X-Men series I’m assuming that most people at least have a basic knowledge of the premise of the films. If you don’t I would suggest google as I don’t have a long enough word count to bring you up to speed. This franchise’s timelines are far more complex than any plot they could come up with. Also, a little background knowledge is really helpful when watching a movie like this given that it is a direct sequel to X-Men: Apocalypse from 2012 and references several other movies in the franchise.
So, assuming you are up to speed on the backstory, the premise of this is that while the X-Men are on a rescue mission in space, where they save the lives of several astronauts, Jean Grey absorbs a mysterious cosmic force that completely amplifies her telekinetic and telepathic powers. She loses control unleashing the Dark Phoenix all the while being pursued by mysterious aliens who want to harness her energy. The rest of the X-Men must try and stop her before she destroys the entire planet.
This is the final instalment in the current franchise but unfortunately it sends the characters off with a whimper rather than a bang. All of the CGI and action scenes can’t detract from the fact that the script is very weak with far too much exposition and the actors don’t really seem to care. There are some amazing names on the bill here, who have all more than capably demonstrated their acting chops in the past, but they literally seem to dial it in. The plot is extremely cumbersome and you have no idea what is motivating half of the characters.
The actual big action scenes, often the saving grace of a movie like this, are also disappointing. There is nothing special or new about them although they are extremely violent. Jessica Chastain’s baddie Vuk inexplicably wears killer heels while battling the X-Men and it looks somewhat ridiculous – although nowhere near as ridiculous as her story arc. Chastain is a fine actor but she is given nothing to work with.
You get the feeling that they were trying to wrap up so many story arcs that they couldn’t actually focus on what was supposed to be the core premise of this movie and it just makes for a rather messy offering overall. In terms of superhero movies, it is extremely average – even more so when you consider how good some of the previous offerings in this franchise have been.
It feels like this never really tries, instead relying simply on the goodwill of fans to get it over the line. However, even the most die-hard comic book and X-Men fan will have difficulty finding any saving grace here. I, like many others I’m sure, expected far more from such an established brand.