X-Men: Dark Phoenix is directed by Simon Kinberg and it is the final X-Men movie from the 20th Century Fox versions. This movie takes place a decade after Apocalypse, where after a dangerous space mission, Jean Grey gets exposed to a powerful cosmic force which strengthens her power and unlocks all of the rage, desire and pain she kept inside. Now the X-Men must face their powerful friend and try to bring her back. This movie stars Sophie Turner, James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Tye Sheridan and Jessica Chastain.
This review is late because I just finished watching the X-Men movies for the first time yesterday! I saw Dark Phoenix earlier today and now I’m ready to give my thoughts and boy do I have some things to say! Basically I like the original trilogy but I love the newer movies with the younger versions of the characters. I did not like The Last Stand at all so I was very excited to see this movie despite everyone basically boycotting it because Disney now owns Fox.
This movie faced a ton of obstacles, it’s honestly ridiculous when you think how this movie was doomed before it even came out. This movie changed drastically many times in a short period of time and it cost the movie gravely but those changes were made to business and company requests so I can’t really say the movie is bad because of the writing or directing. I will comment on the movie but I won’t blame the movie or director.
This movie gave me quite the unique experience, I went with my brother and it was just us. We sat down and a few minutes later a father and son came in. Then they walked out of the movie after about 35 minutes after a rather detailed death scene. Never have I ever seen someone walk out of a movie, ever. Then we continue watching the movie and then it ends in the most anticlimactic way possible. I then found out that it is being pulled from half of all the theaters in America in just it’s third weekend.
As a movie, Dark Phoenix fails to satisfy X-Men fans in almost every way. Mutant powers are rarely used, there is no closure for fans of these characters and the timeline is so confusing you don’t know what to make of this movie and where it stands. However I care so much for these characters and the cast does such a wonderful job that they automatically elevate the movie. Sometimes this movie doesn’t even feel like it belongs to this franchise. I don’t mean to disrespect the director but this movie feels like a rushed incomplete product. There are certain iconic staples of the X-Men movies which are completely ignored, well except for that obligatory edgy use of that one f-word which is safe enough for a PG-13 movie.
Speaking of the rating, this movie should have definitely been rated r. The X-Men movies have always been darker and more mature and this movie is no exception. As I said that death scene caused the parent and kid to walk out. Not only that but this movie never aimed for the demographic of an MCU movie. X-Men fans are different, this movie was made for the fans so I don’t really understand why it wasn’t rated r. Also what bothered me was the ridiculous short runtime of this movie. This movie is only an hour and 45 minutes. Apocalypse and Days of Future Past were both well over 2 hours. This movie could have definitely used it to add more character building scenes, not to mention give the movie a proper ending. Yet another bewildering decision that hurts the movie.
Because of the short runtime, the movie suffers in pace. It’s as if this movie was just wanting to end as fast as possible. Everything feels rushed and not earned. One thing I loved about the previous movies where how they took their time and use it to build character moments. This movie focuses on a sub-plot so bizarre, it doesn’t even feel like it belongs to this movie or to this franchise. Jessica Chastain’s character is easily my least favourite. There was all this secrecy surrounding her character which was unnecessary not to mention it didn’t pay off in a satisfying or shocking way.
Simon Kinberg, the director initially planned this movie to be the first in a series of X-Men movies, meaning there was no plan to end this franchise with this movie and it shows. There is no satisfying ending, they leave anticipated moments which have been built up by previous movies completely out. They don’t even do something special with the opening or closing credits. I was excited to see the Cerebro opening title but no, apparently silver text on a black background is more enjoyable. Wolverine does not make a cameo in this movie, Mystique only uses her power to turn to human, ironic right? Quicksilver doesn’t even have a cool scene in this movie! Why, seriously why?
However this movie does have a couple of redeeming qualities. As mentioned the cast is amazing and I can’t see anyone else playing these characters. Sophie Turner is amazing as Jean. She gives the movie an edge and I can happily say that she was my favourite character. McAcoy can do no wrong I love him and Charles and no one will ever be a better Professor X in my mind. Fassbender also gives a great performance albeit a short one. Lawrence’s Mystique was rather different this time but still a great, heartbreaking performance. I love Mystique, I don’t why a lot of people don’t. Chastain gives a very emotionless performance and instead comes off as annoying rather than intimidating.
The movie also looks visually beautiful, apart from the CGI and technical elements, the movie has some amazing shots which really stand out. The first scene really impressed me, it was intense but it was shot so elegantly despite it being a tragic scene. Whenever Jean unleashes the Phoenix or teases it at least, the effects add a lot of nice touches to Turner’s deliciously evil performance. Hans Zimmer composes the music for this movie and as usual he delivers. The music truly elevates the movie in terms of immediacy, danger and emotion, three aspects which the script lacked.
Overall, Dark Phoenix fails to really deliver on the promise of showing how dark the Phoenix really is. The movie never realizes it’s full potential and it also fails to bring this set of stories to a close with closure as it ends on a unsatisfying note with wishes left unfulfilled. That being said, this movie still has the same wonderful cast the previous three movies had. Sophie Turner and the supporting cast carry this movie on their back. It’s iconically colourful visuals and intense score do add nice touches. If you are an X-Men or just a superhero fan, you have to simply watch this movie because this franchise is what started it all.