Movie #149 2021: Dark Phoenix (2019)

As you may have noticed, I have a love/hate relationship with the X-Men franchise in that I love some of the movies (Logan, Days of Future Past) and despise others (The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine). I’m actually quite happy to say that this one falls somewhere in the middle for me.

For a lot of people, Dark Phoenix falls into the ‘despise’ category, so I was fully expecting not to be interested by it. Since Jean Grey is probably my favourite X-Men character, I was not thrilled to see anyone other than the supreme Famke Janssen playing her, and just assumed it would be a mediocre origin story. In truth, it is just an origin story, but it turned out to be quite an entertaining one.

Watch Dark Phoenix (Movie) | HBO

When Jean goes on a rescue mission in outer space (yes, you read that correctly), she’s hit by cosmic energy that causes her to slowly spiral out of control when she returns to Earth. In an attempt to save her soul, the rest of the X-Men work together in order to defeat a clan of aliens who want to use her powers as a weapon for their own gain.

I just feel like this movie isn’t as bad as people said it was. It’s a fuck ton better than those horrendous movies I mentioned before, that’s for sure.

I genuinely thought I’d dislike Sophie Turner as Jean, but you know what? Whilst she’s no Famke Janssen (who is?), she steps up to the plate well here and has certainly improved technically performance-wise since her days on Game of ThronesJessica Chastain is great too but she’s slightly wasted on this movie – as a villain, the character is kind of boring. The X-Men themselves though are as good as ever.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix review – these superheroes are a spent force | Sight &  Sound | BFI

Pleasingly, the CGI in Dark Phoenix is perhaps the strongest thus far in the X-Men universe. Its green screens are much more seamless and the visuals look expensive and meticulously designed. Hans Zimmer’s score is as good as you’d expect from him too and something about the costuming in this one hits different. All in all, the technical aspects of this film come together well to form a cohesive vision. Now, that doesn’t sound like a total train wreck, does it? Because it’s not!

As with the majority of the X-Men franchise, the downfall comes with the scriptwriting. Although the story of how Jean Grey was once so destructive and morally torn is interesting, the pacing is very up and down, the dialogue is forgettable, and the whole narrative is convoluted and too long. Despite that, I still found it more entertaining than many other X-Men movies and it just feels like the hatred towards this one isn’t quite fair.

I don’t know, it just seems as if people hate this in the same way they hate Captain Marvel – your misogyny is showing, dudes. No, it’s not the best superhero film in the world, but it’s definitely not the half star failure that people are so desperate for it to be.

For me, Dark Phoenix is mostly quite the spectacle, even if the plot is a little subpar.

Dark Phoenix is available to stream on Disney+ in the UK.

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