X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) – Movie Review
Video Review :
Written Review :
X-Men: Dark Phoenix is the 12th and probably the last instalment in 20th Century Fox’s X-Men franchise. It is sort of a remake of the 2006 X-Men: The Last Stand.
The story takes place after X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) where mutants are now accepted by the public and X-Men are on good terms with the government. The movie doesn’t recap much and trusts its viewers to have seen the previous films so if you haven’t seen them, you might be confused with a few things here and there.
The plot fully revolves around Jean Grey, who gets a major boost of power after an X-Men mission in space. She loses control to that power and people start to get hurt. Charles Xavier and his team of X-Men have to decide if it is worth it to risk everyone’s life to try to save her from herself.
The film is directed and screenwritten by Simon Kinberg, who wrote X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), X-Men: Apocalypse and the 2015 Fantastic Four. He’s definitely written for more misses than hits and this is only his directorial debut. Furthermore, there was a reshoot for the ending because the one that they had was apparently too similar to the ending of another recent superhero movie but they did not reveal which one.
On top of that, as far as I know as a casual fan of the 90s X-Men comics and cartoon series, just like Apocalypse, the Dark Phoenix Saga is a huge storyline that should not be done in a single movie but here they are again doing it the second time. This was certainly worrying but the film didn’t turn out to be that bad.
Is it the best X-Men film? No where near. Is it better than X-Men: The Last Stand? I think so but I don’t even remember much about it. I definitely enjoyed it more than X-Men: Apocalypse, which I was okay with at that time.
The biggest issue about the film is the rushed progression of the story. Just like the final season of Game of Thrones and Jean Grey here is basically Daenerys Targaryen who turns into this mad powerful biatch without proper character development. Coincidentally, Sophie Turner, who played the role of Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones, is playing Jean Grey.
But even with the rushed development, Kinberg didn’t have enough time in one movie so Jean Grey doesn’t get to become the full Dark Phoenix here. She doesn’t go totally crazy evil. She doesn’t kill too many people. You know the part in the trailer where she says, “When I lose control, bad things happen. But it feels good,” I don’t remember her saying that in the movie itself. Actually now that I think about it, I’m not even sure what exactly is making her lose control. I guess it’s just her, deciding to do all the bad things after her power is amplified. Which doesn’t make sense without the proper character development that this story needs.
Some of the other characters’ decisions and thinking are like dumbed down to progress the plot faster. Some of them even switch sides so quickly it’s laughable. Of course, many characters involved in the comics are also missing and one of the major ones is simply replaced by Jessica Chastain’s alien character. Without Wolverine, it can feel like a strong, iconic presence is missing. But then again, Gambit and… oh yeah, where’s Jubilee? Poor thing was in the last film and now she’s gone again. Sigh.
The ending of the film most definitely feels like a rushed job. It doesn’t give us the full aftermath. One of the characters gets injured halfway through the movie and I don’t remember seeing him again after that.
However, despite all these issues, the film didn’t make me feel like I was just waiting for the predictable ending to happen. It does have some enjoyable and emotionally engaging moments.
There are two really good action sequences. The space rescue mission at the beginning shows how the X-Men work together with their individual abilities to save a group of astronauts. I actually don’t remember seeing the X-Men being normal superheroes and saving people without fighting a supervillain. I really liked that.
Then there’s this long battle sequence in a train towards the end which I thought was really cool. To be honest, after the boring final battle in Apocalypse, I wasn’t expecting much from this one. But wow, I was pleasantly surprised. The mutants really kick ass with their powers and the visual effects are fantastic as well. It’s really fun to watch as a fan.
I also enjoyed the drama and conflicts between the characters even though the narratives are rushed. The performances by the actors are really good. I was really engaged by their emotions. My girlfriend was moved to tears by more than one scene apparently. This is what some of these great actors could give us some times in spite of a poor script – Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, just to a name a few.
In overall, despite its flaws, Dark Phoenix is still an entertaining superhero film.
Based on: The Dark Phoenix Saga in Marvel’s X-Men comic series by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Running Time: 113 minutes
Director-writer: Simon Kinberg
Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Evan Peters, Jessica Chastain
Malaysia Release Date: 6 June 2019 (sneaks 5 June)
Local Distributor: 20th Century Fox Malaysia
Production: 20th Century Fox, Bad Hat Harry Productions, The Donners’ Company, Marvel Entertainment, TSG Entertainment