Movie Review: X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019)

The 12th and absolutely, really, truly final entry in the 20th Century Fox series of X-Men films, X-Men: Dark Phoenix (or just Dark Phoenix, in some places) is a 2019 superhero movie, directed by Simon Kinberg in his directorial debut. Now famous and beloved after defeating Apocalypse, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) leads and publicly brands the team of the X-men: Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Quicksilver (Evan Peters). After heading into space to rescue a team of stranded astronauts, a powerful cosmic force infects Jean Grey.

+ this film really gives Turner and Hoult, as well as the defacto main characters of Charles Xavier and Magneto (Michael Fassbender, given second billing?) room to work. I wasn’t sold on Turner as fan-favourite Jean Grey in Apocalypse, but in this film I really felt she could have done the character a great service. Hoult, too, seems to get a lot of character development, and I could buy him as eventually becoming Kelsey Grammer’s adult version. McAvoy and Fassbender are always good, of course, and that continues here
+ in general, the plot was relatively simple but effective. Love, family and betrayal are given some weight in the story and it gives you a reason to at least feel one way or another for the characters, especially in the moments you disagree with the points the film clearly wants you to accept (a divisive scene between Raven and Xavier, in particular)
+ the action is bombastic and wild, but frankly I quite liked it. There are two major action scenes between various parties, both of which are enjoyable, if a little bit messy due to the moving pieces. Still, the effects are fun, with Beast running all over the place, Cyclops using some fancy targeting work and especially Nightcrawler bamf-ing and Storm giving Thor a run for his money in the lightning department

– I understand this was called ‘Dark Phoenix‘, and therefore should be mostly about Jean, but Quicksilver, Storm and Nightcrawler were all far too underutilised. The few seconds each were given a chance to do something cool were some of the highlights of the film
– if this is indeed the final film in this X-Men continuity, then I can’t stress enough how happy I am to be rid of Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique. I enjoyed her in First Class, but once it became clear that her character was in almost no way based on her comic self, I lost all interest. This movie in particular is the character at her absolute worst
– I am more confused than ever about the timeline/continuity after Days of Future Past/Apocalypse (and even Deadpool 2‘s X-men canon cameo – ask me about that, because it fits in a bit too nicely). Did Apocalypse happen or not, because here there is no Psylocke or Moira MacTaggert, and it seemed to be hinted in that film that Jean had ‘a darker power inside of her’ already. I don’t know; I guess it doesn’t even matter anymore

> it’s a real shame that Deadpool 2 finally introduced the Juggernaut in all his glory only for the X-Men films to end (in their current form). I guess if any franchise could seamlessly jump to the MCU it would be Deadpool

Should you see this film: This was not a good movie, but it so easily could have been. Sophie Turner and Nicholas Hoult were really captivating, and I do always like Fassbender and McAvoy, but an unclear (and I think entirely unnamed) villian, lack of focus on the other X-Men and this essentially being a retread of X-Men: The Last Stand (albeit this is significantly better than that) make this not really worth your time.


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