Dark Phoenix could’ve been the dark, epic finale to the Fox X-Men franchise the same way Logan masterfully completed Wolverine’s saga, but unfortunately it plays out like a superhero-edition of Degrassi. That isn’t to say it is bad, I actually enjoyed the film, but it could’ve been so much more.
During an astronaut rescue mission, Jean Grey absorbs a powerful source of cosmic energy. Her control over her powers becomes increasingly unstable and she flees the X-Men, searching for answers and solitude. Meanwhile in-house fighting among the X-Men becomes inflamed, as concern over Charles Xavier’s direction, what to do about Jean, and the relationship between humans and mutants rise.
So, wait, where exactly are we in the X-Men timeline? I’ve lost track and personally don’t care. If you feel similarly, then you should be able to enjoy the film for what it is: A B-list superhero film. If the timeline and how Dark Phoenix connects to the other films does matter to you, then you might hate this film. From what I’ve read, it does not interest itself in developing or even continuing some plot points, specifically ones introduced in Apocalypse. RIP X-Men Chronology 2000-2019. Anyways, if Dark Phoenix fails to be a piece which fits the greater puzzle, how does it perform individually?
Starting with the positive, the score, composed by Hans Zimmer, is traditional awesome Zimmer, it’s bold and brooding and reminds me of his work on Batman vs. Superman. There are also a lot of cool moments spread throughout the film, opening with a space rescue, moving to the confrontation at Jean’s childhood home, the train sequence teased at in the trailer, and quite frankly, everything with Magneto. Dark Phoenix develops some character arcs better than others but, is able to use the conflicting interests of some of the arcs to build tension. The actors and actresses do fine in their respective roles, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, and Nicholas Hoult all adequate. Sophie Turner does well in her first role post-GOT. However, the acting does feel limited in the film and that leads me into my biggest criticism: the writing.
The dialogue is subpar at best, the diction is basic, and too often a character would say something, and I’d ask myself, “Is that really the best the writers could do?” And so, the acting feels limited because there is only so much one can do when delivering such generic lines. Furthermore, because the writing suffers, the overall interwovenness of the different characters’ stories is weakened, and the film does not resolve itself as well it pretends to. Not to mention the true antagonists of the film, aliens who want to destroy humanity and take Earth for themselves, like I haven’t seen that one before; what a waste of Jessica Chastain’s talent.
There is plenty of bad news surrounding Dark Phoenix, from critical reviews to being a complete box office failure, so allow me to offer some light. It’s by far not a perfect film, and like I said earlier, could’ve been so much more, but I still really enjoyed it. Better writers and a R-rating might’ve done the trick, it’s what took Wolverine to the next level. 7/10