Dark Phoenix (Movie Review)
Oscar Rendon | St. Louis, MO | June 10th, 2019
Dark Phoenix (2019) stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Alexandra Shipp, Evan Peters, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Jessica Chastain. Dark Phoenix is the last installment in the X-Men series with 20th Century Fox as the merger with Disney begins and all the rights to the X-Men go back to Marvel Studios for future appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Dark Phoenix tells the story of Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey as she begins to lose control of her powers after a dark energy enters her body while on a rescue mission in space. The power unleashes her alter ego the Dark Phoenix and the X-Men must find a way to stop her before she goes down a path she can’t return from.
Dark Phoenix suffered a lot of setbacks, one of them being the acquisition of 20th Century Fox by Disney. This forced a bunch of rewrites for the film during production. One major rewrite was for how the film ended, as it was never intended to be the last film in the series, Simon Kinberg had to find a way to tell the Dark Phoenix story while also trying to wrap up the stories of these characters in an unfortunate set of circumstances. So, with that being said, the film as whole is riddled with inconsistent storytelling from the villains motivations, Jeans motivations, and the overall arc for all the characters involved. One character that greatly suffered was Evan Peters Quicksilver who appears in the beginning of the film and in one quick scene at the end. Evan Peters has always been a fan favorite in the series ever since his great introduction in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Since then, there has been no great development for his character and what was once hinted in Days of Future Past with himself and Magneto being his father is never resolved or mentioned ever again. The plot is there but the motivation from the characters seems forced and lack luster. Visually the film is spectacular to watch from the action sequences to the cosmic element of the film. The plot holes in the writing are evident and it is very clear that Simon Kinberg is a first time director with his lack of vision for the film.
At the beginning of the film, Charles Xavier aka Professor X is drastically different from X-Men: First Class, Days of Future Past, and Apocalypse. He’s more cocky and enjoys the adulation from the public as mutants, specifically his X-Men team are seen as heroes and forces for good for humans. The taste for success and self righteousness clouds much of his judgement in the film and makes him a character you don’t want to root for. Erik Lehnsherr aka Magneto is a whole other story, when we meet up with him in the film he is living a simpler life on an island with mutants, away from humans. He still has the traits that make him Magneto but as an audience member we tend to side more with him and his motivations. Having Charles and Erik almost swap roles in a sense, thematically. Jean in this film is almost a non-factor, because we spent so little with her character in X-Men: Apocalypse we the audience can’t find her character sympathetic or at the very least care for her emotionally which is what the film tries so hard to do and ultimately fails. Cyclops and Storm are rarely featured in the film in any significant way the drives that plot forward but are instead utilized for the actions sequences and cool moments like those. Overall, the story while simple and lack luster at times, does have it’s charm to it. The smaller moments they pull off great, it is when they decide to get big that the film suffers from writing and directing. The biggest one of all being Jessica Chastain’s character who is almost unnecessary in the film and easily a forgettable villain. The film is entertaining when the action commences and when we have the smaller moments but ultimately fails to be a cohesive whole of a film.