Today I went and saw “Dark Phoenix,” which came out a little over two weeks ago (originally planned to be released last year), and I will let all of you know what I thought about it.
The final film in the other X-Men series that started so smartly with “First Class” may not have the high emotions (and difficulty) of “Avengers: Endgame” recently but still ends in its own special way.
Aside from a lot of the reviews, “Dark Phoenix” is an exciting climax to this specific series of Marvel characters, both improving on “X-Men: Apocalypse,” while also eliminating the memory of the lowest “X-Men: The Last Stand” (which also took the Chris Claremont/John Byrne’s 1980 Dark Phoenix series as their inspiration).
It’s nowhere near being one of the best in the franchise (Days of Future Past, X2 or the previous mentioned First Class) but it does bring a nice method of closure that has its own type of emotions. Disney now has the rights of Fox along with the MCU, and there is that sad feeling of losing actors of the talent of Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy, who won’t have any future roles.
Rob Carnevale said in his review, “Set in 1992, the film finds the X-Men going all Thunderbirds and heading into space at the request of the US President to rescue the crew of a stricken space shuttle.” However, while they are able to save all the astronauts, one of the mutants, Jean Grey, played by Sophie Turner, absorbs all the cosmic force that was going to obliterate the shuttle, giving her even more strength that she had before.
As she has difficulty having this control, her past comes back to trigger this, resulting in violent amounts of anger that puts the lives of her close ones in series danger.
Carnevale notes, “If there’s a major flaw in writer-director Simon Kinberg’s film it’s that it attempts to fit in a lot in a relatively short space of time for a modern superhero film. Where the likes of The Avengers have had anywhere between two and a half to three hours to wrap things up, Dark Phoenix unfolds in under two.”
Carnevale continues, “It means that Kinberg has less time to juggle the action with the emotion and only really offers fleeting moments of psychological exploration. Grey’s internal battle, as she tries to make sense of her own troubled past, is perhaps played a little too quickly and doesn’t give Turner enough to work with to create a genuinely gut-wrenching emotional arc. But there is still enough to make her journey worth taking.”
Meanwhile, McAvoy shows just how great an actor he is by doing a lot by doing so little. Carnevale notes, “His Charles Xavier in this film is a shell of his former self – a leader prone to drinking and egotistic risk-taking, who finds himself at odds with his own ‘family’ at several points. There is arguably more of a journey for him to go on in this film, and McAvoy grasps the opportunity, albeit with less screen time than usual.”
Fassbender’s Magneto, despite being turned into a side character, remains as cool and mysterious as usual, while Kinberg does well to give most of the characters a moment in the spotlight – if not emotionally for everyone, then at least during the film’s climactic fight on a train where they get to show off their super powers.
Mentioning that, a final scene between Fassbender and McAvoy is nicely seen and beautifully played, ending with it that sense of emotion that we’re definitely saying goodbye to two old friends.
Carnevale said, “Another plus is how X-Men: Dark Phoenix also delivers some genuinely rousing set pieces, most of which revolve around Grey and her powers. But an early confrontation in the suburbs is well handled and delivers one of the film’s few genuine shocks, as is a confrontation between Grey and Magneto in New York.”
The final train fight, where the film’s main villain, played by Jessica Chastain, plays a main role, is similarly well set up, though without the sense of danger that maybe made the climax of “Avengers: Endgame” such a great example.
Carnevale said, “Hence, while falling short of that kind of classic status, Dark Phoenix still deserves to be celebrated on its own merits. It does bring a decent sense of closure, it excites on a visceral level, and it still manages – albeit on a smaller scale – to explore some weighty and relevant issues: feminism is touched upon [albeit glibly], while the metaphor for the X-Men as outsiders or people who may be viewed as different is relatable and highly relevant.”
Seeing the downhill slope that this franchise looked like it was going in following “X-Men: Apocalpyse,” Kinberg has created something of a Phoenix-like rise of his own to satisfy that fans, if not critics, can say goodbye to McAvoy, Fassbender, Turner, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Evan Peters and the rest.
I don’t agree with the critics on this movie. It’s not as bad as everyone is saying it is. I personally think this movie did a better job with the Phoenix story than “X-Men: The Last Stand,” it was slow with a lot of dialogue instead of relying on so much action (which is a nice welcome), and the mutants that were in this movie all did their part instead of standing around doing nothing, which a lot of these movies were guilty of doing. Personally, I think this is still a good movie, even if I do think this may be one of the lower ones in the franchise. So I will give this film the benefit of the doubt and rate it with a 9. Don’t listen to the critics, go see the movie and judge for yourself.