Directed by Simon Kinberg
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Sophie Turner, Jessica Chastain
Runtime: 114 minutes
I went into this week with low expectations. It’s impossible in today’s world to not hear anything about the new movies out, especially “blockbusters”. I’d heard leading up to Dark Phoenix that it wasn’t any good. That it was the worst in the series. Arriving at the theater I made some small talk with one of the employees named JeVon. He made a comment about the film that helped me enjoy it. JeVon said, “If you look at the movie just from beginning to end by itself, you’ll enjoy it.” He was right. Shout out to JeVon and give that man a raise! He’s a Rockstar. This would be the twelve film in the X-Men series, counting the Deadpool films and Logan. Disney has recently acquired the rights to X-Men so it seems this will be the finale addition to these versions of the mutants we’ve learned to both love and hate.
On to the film
We open with a voice-over from Jean Grey (Turner) She asks the question that will encompass the entire film. “Who are we?” This would be a running theme. We see mutants who are normally good make terrible, evil decisions and vice versa. We cut to 1975. A young version of Jean Grey, maybe 6 or 7 years old is sitting in the back seat while her family is driving. Bad things happen which it appears were caused by Jean. I’ll give the film credit here. It was nice to see some backstory on this character which hasn’t really been touched on before and let the audience know this was HER story. Jean meets Professor Xavier (McAvoy) and our journey truly begins.
We move onto 1992. For once in an X-Men film, the mutants are loved. How long would that last is the question? We are brought up to speed that a space shuttle has been damaged by solar flares and the X-Men are sent up to save the astronauts. Once in space I immediately took notice of the CGI. It looked fantastic. Obviously, it was computer generated but you would swear they filmed it in orbit.
Ok Dark Phoenix. So far so good. The acting and dialogue were great. Xavier (McAvoy) and Mystique (Lawrence) have a nice back and forth and their chemistry comes off naturally and seasoned. (Maybe a compliment to both being good actors) We are given a great action set piece in space where all the X-Men are needed in some way to complete the rescue. The film excelled here turning the attention to the team.
Then the breaks started to come off.
We meet the “big bad” of this film – Vuk (Chastain) I’ve written in many of my reviews how great films show characters with layers. Nothing is truly black or white. Not in this film. Vuk comes off generic and flat. Oh, and that great CGI, maybe they had two separate teams because Vuk’s minions looked fake. Very distracting. We then see where this film is going, how/why will Jean Grey become the Dark Phoenix?
I won’t spoil what happens next, but I will say that there is a shocking death. If you’re an X-Men fan go to see what plays out because I was surprised by this and intrigued of what’s to come. Eventually we meet Magneto (Fassbender) who’s no longer fighting (Seems like every film he needs to be convinced to come back.) Fassbender, like McAvoy and Lawrence, killed it. I don’t want to rain on the young actors too much but these three carry the film. We are then given some backstory on Magneto to help the viewer who hasn’t seen the previous films. It hit me here that not everyone was given a backstory. (Mainly just Jean and Magneto) I know we’ve had previous films but it’s nice to a new fan to be able to come in without seeing the others and not feel completely lost. The film could have done better here.
We have the whole gang, maybe the film would pick back up from the shaking ground we were on. NOPE. I felt that there were two films here unfortunately. We had moments of cohesion with the X-Men and even nice scenes with X-Men fighting X-Men but for every great moment was a poor one. The conversations were either convincing and deep, or melodramatic and cheesy. Same with the action scenes. Either heart-racing or laughable. Originally, I had the film standing with 3 stars. I had to knock it down to 2 because of two EXTREMELY cheesy moments right before the credits roll. JeVon was right. It was a good film watching it by itself. It just wasn’t great. Give it a shot if you’re a fan of the series or go see Godzilla if you haven’t already. 2 stars out of 5 #SHOPLOCA
Andrew McManus is Operations Manager for Patties & Pints and its parent company Eflow Development.He can be reached at [email protected] or 740-981-9158