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X-Men: Dark Phoenix flies into theaters as a curtain call to this story arc


Rating 6/10

Overview

The X-Men find themselves on a mission to space in order to save a collection of Earth’s astronauts. However, During the expedition, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) becomes merged with an intergalactic entity known as Phoenix. This results in Jean experiencing a new height in abilities. Unfortunately, these new powers have also caused negative effects on Jean’s mental state. The X-Men must now decide if the villain they must protect Earth from is one of their own.

What Worked

To begin, Dark Phoenix starts off on a good note. The opening act is taken directly from the source material and looks spectacular on screen. Every individual X-Man gets an opportunity to showcase his powers in order to save the astronaut crew. In fact, the visual effects in Dark Phoenix are probably the best of the series. Textures are extremely realistic and even outer space scenes appear as if they’re unfolding right in front of viewers. The movie displays some really solid action. One scene in particular on a train is action packed and allows us to see the X-Men come together as a team. Dark Phoenix sees the return of series regulars Professor X (James McAvoy), Magneto (Michael Fassbender), and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence). All of our returning actors do a good job in immersing themselves into character and showing us the growth that they’ve experienced. Finally, Dark Phoenix’s score is one of the series best thus far. Although it ditches the classic X-Men theme from previous films, composer Hans Zimmer provides a very well rounded collection of music. In fact, many of the movie’s action scenes are greatly aided by Zimmer's score.

What Didn’t Work

In the X-Men series thus far, producers have succeeded in providing a well balanced legacy. Acting, action, music, and even laughs were layered throughout to give us a great product. With this being the final entry before being rebooted by Disney, Dark Phoenix comes off as if it was made by a different studio. One of my favorite comedic reliefs of the last few films was Quiksilver (Evan Peters). In this film, we are unfortunately teased with an opening act cameo appearance. After that, the character disappears for basically no reason. Ultimately, This leads to very few comedic moments in the movie. Many characters have questionable judgement throughout as well. All of a sudden Professor X is viewed as a bad guy? We’ve been led to believe for twenty years now that he is the mentor that allows the X-Men to function. We also see Magneto switching between good and evil for what feels like the twentieth time. The movie’s Alien race is delivered to us with zero back story as to who they really are. The movie is also scattered with plot holes and characters that are disposed of before we even get to learn their names. A very curious ending ties a bow on this overall spectacular movie series. It comes off as if the producers were more worried about forcing this final film into theaters. The ending result is confusing and lacks conviction.

Overall

When it was announced in 2018 that Dark Phoenix was going to be the final edition of this twenty year series, I was initially sad. There have been so many great X-Men movies produced by FOX and I was hoping that this final entry was going to allow the films to go out with a bang. In the end, the results are very mixed. Dark Phoenix does have some moments that remind us why this series has thrived for as long as it has. Alas, on the other hand there are many aspects of the movie such as character motive that leave the audience shaking their heads. Big fans of the comic book and series in general may be disappointed. Kinberg took too many unwarranted risks and forgot what truly made this series thrive. In the end, Dark Phoenix is an entertaining summer flick for fans of action. Sadly, the expectations for a definitive series conclusion are anything but uncanny.

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