‘Dark Phoenix’ Review: The X-Men Franchise Flames Out

Oscar Cross
June 6, 2019

Even in the context of Magneto elevating subway trains, X-Men: Dark Phoenix arrives with some heavy lifting to do.

"I actually would say that the Dark Phoenix idea was was set up in the end of Days of Future Past".

The real fireworks erupt in a confrontation with Jean, with fatal consequences for one X-favourite, a belly full of guilt for Grey and a divided determination to kill/save her from the X-crew. Some sought revenge, while the others wanted to save her.

Be prepared for a sense of deja vu as Dark Phoenix draws quite a few moments from X-Men: The Last Stand. Super-villain turned anti-hero Magneto (Michael Fassbender) once again becomes the opponent of Charles Xavier.

Hardcore fans would surely appreciate the scenes where each of their beloved mutants would showcase their powers, but there are also scenes focused mainly on how each of the X-Men are trying their hardest not to use their powers against each other.

Phoenix doesn't leave much room for X-Men neophytes; either you know why Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) is Selsun blue and Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is in a wheelchair, or you'll have to Wikipedia it.

But despite what sounds like all-out war, "Dark Phoenix" mostly plays like turgid psychodrama, with characters throwing around cheesy lines like "I thought I'd lost you", "Why can't you admit you were wrong?" and "She's not your little girl anymore". There's something up with Jean, and things are about to grow steadily out of control as her new, terrifying powers mount. "After 12 installments spread out over two decades, the X-Men franchise stumbles toward its close in Dark Phoenix".

And Jessica Chastain proved to be on the road to recovery as she sported a black cast while arriving on the red carpet for the premiere of Dark Phoenix at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on Tuesday night. X installed in her brain as a child collapse, she learns uncomfortable truths about her parents, and she gets angry. The new crop seen training at the end of X-Men: Apocalypse hasn't aged a bit! And when Jessica Chastain shows up as Vuk, interstellar alien working for the empire known as D'Bari (which boasts an Italian sandwich counter, I hear), the movie briefly stirs some anticipation of a smackdown slightly outside the usual order of business.

Xavier has always been a controversial character in the comics and on film, but Dark Phoenix seemingly goes out of its way to make him unlikable. The last problem is something that has affected not just The First Class trilogy but also the previous films and spinoffs. They continue to be convincing when the plot flounders.

So in the timeline that Dark Phoenix is set, Wolverine is still alive and roaming around in his Berserker Rage. The film is like an adaptation of the original Dark Phoenix comics, and also of the Anchorman "Well, that escalated quickly" meme Everything happens too fast, until the whole structure goes down in flames. Dark Phoenix is expected to be Fox's final X-Men film featuring the core X-Men cast in the cinematic universe launched by director Bryan Singer in 2000 with the Disney-Fox merger now complete. With Jean spiraling out of control, and hurting the ones she loves most, she begins to unravel the very fabric that holds the X-Men together. The film is the most intense and emotional X-Men movie ever made.

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