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Film Review: Dark Phoenix (2019)

Dark Phoenix (2019) is the final film in the Fox X-Men franchise that has been going on for the past twenty years. Writer of Days of Future Past and Apocalypse, Simon Kinberg, has come back to write but to also have his directorial debut for this closing chapter. This film stars Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, the main focus of this film and this particular story line that has previously been covered in X3: The Last Stand. This film also stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence as they try to help Jean Grey when she finally discovers her full potential, yet loses who she is within that power.

I have to give it to the actors, who do a good job with the material that they were given. Whilst I do not think Sophie Turner gives a Game of Thrones level of performance, she still shows an array of emotion and I believe her in the role. Fassbender and McAvoy remain the standouts throughout the recent era of X-Men, even if I do not like what their characters were doing in terms of the story. The performances overall are solid and I can tell that the actors wanted to give their all and try to finish this franchise off on a good note.

I actually had hope that this would be a relatively good time at the cinema just by the opening scene, which is strong both narratively and visually. I felt a lot of emotion from that initial scene and the concept was strong and captivating. I knew that everything was not as it seemed, but this opening scene confirmed to me that there was some strong ideas that the script had, even before it was reshot and edited later on. Some of the fight scenes and emotional punches worked, particularly in the last major fight scene. This film did have some promise to it.

However, as many people have pointed out, there are simply too many problems with the film overall. The script was changed completely in the last two acts due to major similarities with Captain Marvel, and that is completely obvious. It wouldn’t shock me if the villains were meant to be Skrulls, because they have no name in this film. There is no wonder that the team told Jessica Chastain that she could not say her character’s name, because she basically did not have one. This was such a waste of potential and felt rushed and completely forgetful.

They also tarnished and altered a lot of the X-Men characters to the point that they felt completely separate to the comic books. Whilst I would not complain about characters like Mystique having some alterations to her personality, her character was a complete waste of potential in this film. I was extremely disappointed about how they handled Quicksilver, who is easily the stand out character in this new era of the X-Men, and I actually hated Xavier throughout this film. They make him have this arc which makes him look obnoxious, and the film never gets me to like him for the rest of the film. His choices seemed completely out of character and was badly handled.
Aside from the opening scene and the last fight scene, I found myself bored throughout. There was a “feminist” moment which was not only forced and went away from everything that X-Men stands for, but was also inappropriate considering what happened in the very previous scene. The CGI can look good at times, but other times it just looked awful. Like, Steppenwolf in Justice League awful. They tried to do so much, and it just continually took me out of the movie over and over again.
Whilst Kinberg has some great potential from his writing credits, writing for incredible films such as Days of Future Past, this shows that he was not ready to take on a film like this as his directorial debut. He had these great shots and sequences planned and seemed to get too ahead of himself. The film could have been cut by 15-20 minutes and it might have had better pacing. It would not have saved the film, but Kinberg needs to realise that not every storyline, not every bit of visual effect and not every line of dialogue has to be used, even if they are good lines or moments that he wrote and wants to show off.
To conclude, this film was just a mess. I found it to have some potential from the first scene, but from there on it became clear that this film could not be saved. From reshoots to re-writing to divide this film from Captain Marvel, suddenly the villains had no purpose and I felt no emotional connection to Jean Grey, and without that connection I have no care for this story. This is such a bad note to finish a 20 year franchise on, but the X-Men franchise has always been known as a rollercoaster. The box office numbers make this clear, but this is definitely a skip.


Have you seen Dark Phoenix yet? Did you think it was as bad as many people are saying, or do you think I’m being a bit harsh? Let me know in the comments below.

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