Title – X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019)
Director – Simon Kinberg (feature debut)
Cast – Sophie Turner, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, Tye Sheridan, Jessica Chastain, Nicholas Hoult
Plot – After a mission goes wrong, X-Men recruit Jean Grey (Turner) finds herself drawn to the dark side as her fellow X-Men friends try to save her from making wrong and potentially deadly choices.
“They’re right to fear me”
Review by Eddie on 25/09/2019
If contractual arrangements would’ve permitted, I am sure many involved in this giant X-Men clunker would’ve taken the money and run after the dire previous event Apocalypse halted the mutant franchise in its tracks with a diabolical cinematic event that felt like the death knell for a series that had already experienced its fair share of ups and downs.
Unfortunately for everyone however, debut director and long-time screen-writer/the man who wrote X-Men: The Last Stand Simon Kinberg and the Sony team thought there was more X-Men story needing to be told, in what has eventuated to be one of 2019’s biggest commercial and critical failures, Dark Phoenix.
To start with the positive’s (of which there really aren’t many), I’ve seen worse films than Dark Phoenix but its lifeless, dull and downright lethargic undertaking is so bland and void of spirit that you can practically feel the lack of enthusiasm emanating from its cast of known and established talent, that are unable to stop this charisma free affair from becoming two hours of the dullest Hollywood filmmaking you can imagine.
Based on the popular and far better source material that sees Jean Grey aka Phoenix turn to the dark side after a rescue missions goes pear-shaped, Kinberg’s film had the potential to explore some intriguing themes and take our beloved mutants to places we’ve not yet been (remember how Logan reinvigorated a known comic book staple?) but as the film progresses from scene to scene across an increasingly unengaging narrative, you quickly become aware that nothing is being done here we haven’t seen before, and seen done a whole lot better.
You certainly feel for the cast, so good in First Class and Days of Futures Past, the newer X-Men ensemble started out on a high but now after Apocalypse and this, they’d be right to feel like they have been robbed of opportunities to be involved in big-budget films of note, with not even the reliable James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender or Jennifer Lawrence able to do much to help proceedings here, while the less said about Jessica Chastain’s near pointless addition as bad girl alien Vuk the better.
Another key setback for the film that is unfortunate for all is the fact Game of Thrones mega-star Sophie Turner just doesn’t possess the star wattage a character like Jean Grey deserves.
A fine actress given the right material (evidenced throughout HBO’s world conquering fantasy epic), Turner feels horribly miscast as Grey as she is torn between the light the dark. It’s hard to know whether the blame should be laid at the feet of this still learning actress or the experienced hand of screenwriter Kinberg but regardless of who is at fault, both factors ensure that the focus of the film being on Grey and her journey of unlocking the true potential of her powers is one that remains cringe worthy throughout, where it should’ve been unpredictably entertaining.
When all is said and done, a film whose budget sits pretty at roughly $200 million, is jam-packed with some of the industry’s best talent and based around some of the comic book worlds most renowned property should never ever be allowed to be this dull and on the basis of this effort, it would be fair to say that the once dormant then reinvigorated X-Men series as we know it, should now take some well overdue time out before we are ready to trust its wares once more.
Final Say –
There are worse films out there than Dark Phoenix but not many duller. Devoid of imagination, creativity or anything worthy of remembering, this X-Men film is a deserved box-office bomb that will take the franchise some decent time recover from.
1 albino alien out of 5