X;Men; Dark Phoenix is an American superhero movie based on the Marvel comics team The X;Men and is a sequel to 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse. Directed by Simon Kinberg, the film is set in the early 90’s & the plot follows the members of the superhero team dealing with the threat posed by the Phoenix Force within Jean Grey after a space mission gone awry.
Acting & Character performances.
Well, for starters, I’d say this iteration of Jean Grey is way better than Famke Janssen’s, my opinion. That’s not to say Famke was a bad choice for the original three films; not in the slightest bit. My gripe with the previous version of Jean Grey was the way she was written in the third movie; a film that failed to pay homage to the epic Dark Phoenix story-line from the comics.
That said, just because the latest version of the character is better doesn’t mean I was entirely impressed. Without spoiling much, the film begins with a bit of a backstory to Jean when she was young, a tragic event befalls her; an event that later on comes to play a crucial role in her behaviour after an unconventional space mission. In as much as she does a lot wrong in the film, you tend to get an understanding of what she is going through because it’s not entirely her fault. Furthermore, Sophie Turner does a good job in portraying the emotional aspects of the mutant.
McAvoy’s character Professor X had a little bit more depth in this film as opposed to the previous ones. As the leader of the X-Men, Charles feels he has the responsibility to do whatever it takes for the betterment of the mutants under his roof as well as all over the world. I understood his point of view on why he wanted there to be peace at all costs irrespective of whether certain members of the team disagreed with him e.g Mystique.
Speak of the angel, Mystique’s characterization in this motion-picture epitomizes the incredible journey she has taken throughout her arc. She is more less the voice of reason in the gradually escalating conflict within the Xavier’s school that the other X-Men prefer to avoid. Tye Sheridan is great as Scott Summers; a much better version of the character than James Marsden’s. Just like Mystique, he is also another ‘voice of reason’ character but in a different way in that he insists that Jean not be killed in spite of her disastrous actions.
Michael Fassbender reprises his role in this as Magneto. For the most part, he doesn’t pull his weight around the story as much as I thought he should have nonetheless, his character is responsible for some exceptional scenes in the flick which were visually appealing as well. As for Hank McCoy a.k.a ‘Beast’ played by Nicholas Hoult, he takes an unfamiliar path in this and I personally connected with his motivations considering the tragic event that he witnesses in the 1st Act.
The Plot, Merits and Demerits.
To begin with, I get that most people will base their judgement of the movie’s story on their expectations of a live-action depiction of the Dark Phoenix comic book story-line. Plain and simple. That said, in case you read the ‘Uncanny X-Men issues 101-108 (1976)’ and ‘Dark Phoenix’ saga (1980) and you wanted the awesomeness of that replicated on the big screen in this film, then I’m sorry to say you will be disappointed. However, if you just wanted to see a better version of the story than what X-Men: The Last Stand had to offer then you’ll probably cut this Simon Kinberg film some slack.
All in all, the plot is pretty much rushed, uneventful and fails to explore certain themes e.g vengeance to the fullest. The action sequences are admittedly fascinating and unique case in point the ‘chopper-off’ between Magneto and Jean in the 2nd Act; I guess you’ll have to see the movie to know what I mean. The production design and cinematography are bang average; they don’t present anything out of the ordinary. Hans Zimmer’s score is otherworldly; I stayed long after the credits started rolling just to listen to the fabulous music.
As far as the other cons of this film are concerned, you just can’t afford to overlook them. The villain character, played by Jessica Chastain, is overwhelmingly awful; definitely one of the worst villains in cinema history yet alone in comic book film history. Everything from how the character is introduced to her motivations in the story is simply bland and unexciting; I’d rather the film had Mastermind as the villain, he would have made for a more exciting antagonist. Lastly, there is a cliffhanger ending in this that I thought was excessively unnecessary.
Just to wrap up, I’d say most critiques for X-Men: Dark Phoenix that I have read and watched are pretty harsh to say the least. However, I can’t be too judgmental about them, opinions vary from one critic to another. On my end, the film had some exciting bits to it that I enjoyed and was grounded by but it bares a sizable amount of flaws which can’t be swept under the rug.