Dull, haphazardly paced and devoid of almost any true excitement, “Dark Phoenix” ends 20 years of the X-Men franchise with a whimper, not a bang.
During a dangerous rescue mission in space, X-Men member Jean Grey comes in contact with a cosmic force that transforms her into one of the most powerful mutants of all time. Battling with the unstable power that dwells inside her, Jean loses control, tearing the X-Men family apart and threatening to destroy the entire planet. “Dark Phoenix” is the end of 20 years of X-Men movies from 20th Century Fox.
Following in the footsteps of the tepidly received 2016 “X-Men: Apocalypse,” “Dark Phoenix” fails to capture any sense of genuine excitement for the franchise, culminating in a film that revisits the Dark Phoenix comic storyline previously explored in 2006’s “X-Men: The Last Stand,” but with even less successful results.
The Dark Phoenix storyline from the comics is cosmic, grandiose and features fan-favorite characters having their faith tested. But first-time director Simon Kinberg is in over his head. The film is sporadically paced, with no real action sequences after the film’s opening until around the hour mark. In that hour, Sophie Turner tries her best to play a heavily conflicted and hurting Jean Grey, but her dialogue and actions come off as more temper tantrums than actual inner conflict.
And while it is admittedly great to see veteran franchise actors like James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Nicholas Hoult back in these roles, they are poorly utilized. It’s also clear that some actors, such as Jennifer Lawrence, took this film on for a measly pay check and are just going through the motions.
In fact, Jessica Chastain, a fantastic actress, is incredibly wasted here, playing an alien antagonist that is so unnecessary, so generic and so disposable that it’s mind-blowing why she even took this role to begin with.
What is even more disappointing is the film wants to explore these characters, to take them on an emotionally damaging and rough story, but the script isn’t smart nor exciting enough. For having Grey be the most powerful mutant on the planet, the film is shockingly small scale, playing off as more of a TV finale than a giant, blockbuster superhero film.
With Disney getting the rights back to the X-Men characters, I can only hope that Kevin Feige and the entire creative crew at Marvel can give these characters more respect. The X-Men franchise has seen greatness (“Days of Future Past,” Logan”) but this film might be the lowest point of the franchise.
Connor’s take: Don’t waste your money. Wait to see it on Redbox.