The “X-Men” films have had a rich history of good films such as “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Logan” and “Deadpool” with a couple of missteps including “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” However, none of the previous “X-Men” films are as boring as “Dark Phoenix,” the recent film in the franchise, which will make even the most avid fan bored beyond comprehension.
“Dark Phoenix” sees the X-Men, comprised of superpowered young adults called “mutants,” face off against one of their own as Jean Grey, played by Sophie Turner, is possessed by a cosmic power which gives her dangerous, uncontrollable power. With few options left, X-Men leader Charles Xavier, played by James McAvoy, must turn to past enemy Magneto, played by Michael Fassbender, for help to contain Jean’s powers and save both her and the X-Men.
The acting in “Dark Phoenix” is one of the few things in this film that deserves praise. Sophie Turner in particular gives a strong portrayal as Jean Grey who struggles with powers that, if released, can cause terrible things to occur. James McAvoy, as always, portrays the telepathic Charles Xavier well with a powerful blend of refinement and emotion. Both characters are easy to sympathize with as are the rest of the cast who bring the X-Men to life and are memorable.
“Dark Phoenix’s” plot is easily the worst thing about the film because everything feels rushed in the film’s less than two hour runtime. There is little to no character development before the events that cause Jean to lose control of her powers and afterwards all characterization is tossed aside for lackluster action sequences.
One such wasted opportunity was the romance between Jean and fellow X-Man Cyclops, played by Tye Sheridan. This was a pivotal point of the comic the film is based on and, at the film’s beginning, it appears that the plot will focus on how their romance affects the film’s events. But instead, there’s a subplot involving aliens, one of which is played by Jessica Chastain, who wish to use Jean’s power.
This plotpoint is stupid, uninspired and comes completely out of nowhere. In a much better 2019 superhero film, “Captain Marvel,” aliens fit into the film’s universe because the Marvel Cinematic Universe has already explored their cosmic side. “X-Men” is a much more grounded franchise so the idea of having aliens in the franchise’s final outing is confusing to say the least.
The “X-Men” films have previously had exciting action including the battle at Alcatraz from “X-Men: The Last Stand,” the train chase in “The Wolverine” and “Logan’s” forest battle. However, the entire film contains little action with the exception of the last 20 minutes which contains a battle between mutants and aliens on a train. While the scene is excellent to watch, it doesn’t feel original. The fight also takes place at night so it can be difficult to comprehend what is occurring.
“X-Men,” overall, has been a fantastic franchise. The first film, along with “Blade” and “Spider-Man,” made Marvel a Hollywood contender and, arguably, is the reason theaters have an onslaught of comic book films each year. With the purchase of 20th Century Fox by Disney, this franchise will end following the 2020 release of “The New Mutants.”
“Dark Phoenix” may not be the worst comic book film or even the worst “X-Men” film but it is certainly disappointing because of the way it concluded a nearly 20 year-old franchise. For those interested in seeing this, just see “Avengers: Endgame” for the ninth time.