Video: Dark Phoenix (2019)

Review

Dark Phoenix, the final installment in the main X-men film series. It’s directed by Simon Kinberg in his directorial debut; although he is not new to the material as he was a writer for many of the previous X-Men movies.

It’ll definitely be helpful if you’ve seen previous X-Men films in regards to being familiar with the characters but if you haven’t this is not a movie where you will be completely lost the entire time. Certain character decisions and choices may not make as much sense but you should be able to logically follow the story and that was one thing I appreciated; the story is very simple.

The X-Men venture into outer space to save the lives of other humans whose ship is in distress. Jean uses her abilities to save the last person on the ship but in doing so absorbs a mysterious force that causes her to go crazy out of control. We then learn about Jean’s past, secrets that have been kept from her, and sit and wonder how the X-Men will respond to Jean’s actions. There’s also a villain shoved into all of this.

The first two acts of this movie are engaging and hit the beats that movies should hit. There’s an unexpected attention-getting story that I was moved by involving Jean and her parents. This setup allowed me to like Jean. Sophie Turner does a fine job portraying this character. When she ventures out into space, risking her life to save, her likability continues to go up. Lastly, there’s a big secret that James McAvoy’s character, Charles Xavier, has kept from Jean. I won’t spoil what it is but this kept secret is what sets Jean off and I liked that the way this conflict unfolds. The notion that the trailer gave off was that this thing in outer space just makes her evil and that’s not all that interesting. Instead, this encounter in space makes Jean extremely overpowered and easily irritable. And once she learns about something that Charles Xavier has done, chaos erupts and when you find out what it is- you will completely understand why she feels the way that she does.

It is for these reasons that, despite the havoc she causes later on in the film, Jean Grey is a mostly likeable character.

At the same time, James McAvoy’s character is also likeable and understood. You also understand why he did what he did. Director Kinberg stated that he wanted characters to feel like they all had a “valid point of view” and I think he accomplishes this mission.

This movie’s fine setup sinks when the villain, played by Jessica Chastain, arrives. I really enjoy Jessica Chastain as an actress but unfortunately the writers did not add the depth they gave to their established group of characters to this antagonist, who has the most forgettable and contrived motive. I believe she wants to use the Dark Phoenix powers that Jean has in order to resurrect her species. We do not get any scenes seeing this species die out and or any prior interaction that Chastain has with them. Therefore, there was not a strong reason to get behind what this villain is doing and just feels like a nameless bad person. In fact, I actually don’t even remember if this villain has a name. I really think she might not. The wikipedia just calls her a shapeshifter.

The finale in this film is not even a fraction of the epic explosiveness that Avengers: Endgame recently pulled off– and while I was not expecting that big of a final battle, I was extremely underwhelmed with how poor the final fight is. You think that there should be more. There was very little creativity put into it.

The movie should have either not used the villain and kept the conflict among it’s main established characters or taken more time to develop the villain that I did not care about at all.

As a finale to the series, the resolution is underwhelming and too safe. However, the first two acts’ quick pacing and character choices allow “Dark Phoenix” to fall fresh.

Final Verdict:As a finale to the series, the resolution is underwhelming and too safe. However, the first two acts’ quick pacing and character choices allow Dark Phoenix to fall fresh.
Rating:B-