Movie Review – Dark Phoenix (X-Men: Dark Phoenix)

TL;DR – In what might be the last major release of a Fox X-Men film, instead of going out with a bang, it goes out with a meh.     

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Dark Phoenix (X-Men: Dark Phoenix). Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.


With Fox being bought by Disney we know that the current X-Men film franchise is going to be reaching its end sooner rather than later, and with the New Mutants film having a difficult production, there is a chance that this is the last time we will see these characters on the big screen. With that in mind, there are many words I have used to describe the X-Men films in the past. There have been the highs of X-2, Deadpool, and Logan. There have been the lows of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Last Stand, and Apocalypse. However, today I have a new descriptor for an X-men film, and unfortunately, that word is dull.

So to set the scene, we open with a young Jean Grey (Summer Fontana) back in the 1970s driving with her parents when tragedy strikes and she becomes an orphan. Back in the present day of 1992, the Space Shuttle Endeavour has been hit by a solar flare and the president (Brian d’Arcy James) has only one team he can call. Since the time of Apocalypse, mutants have come out of hiding and the X-Men have become almost celebrities, using their powers, to help save the day. While in space, they discover that it was not a solar flare, but some kind of entity. While Jean (Sophie Turner) is trying to keep the shuttle together, the entity attacks and is absorbed by her. Back on Earth, she seems fine, but slowly they find out that this is not the case because Charles (James McAvoy) did something to her back in the day and that secret just burst forth.

Dark Phoenix (X-Men: Dark Phoenix). Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.
One of the ways the film holds itself back is in its completely bland main villain. Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

There is such a wealth of stories that you could draw from when creating an X-men film and that is putting aside for the moment the fact that you could create a whole new story rather than just adapt those that have come before. With this in mind, I have to wonder why you would go with rehashing a narrative plot beat that you already used in your cinematic universe. I think it might have been a way of having a second go at trying to get something right and well on this measure it does succeed. Because at best Dark Phoenix is an improvement on The Last Stand. However, by improving a bad film and making it average I have to ask was it really worth it.

Nearly every part of this film felt like it was running on empty from the action scenes, to the characters, to the story. The Dark Phoenix saga is one that has been put to print and film many times before and while this one is closer in tone to the original, it still felt like it was just rehashing material. Like whenever they do a Batman film and have to go through his parents dying all over again. All of this is not helped by the blandest villain in the film series history. I mean why go to all the trouble of casting Jessica Chastain, one of the best actors working at the moment, if you are just going to have her act like she is bored to be there.

Dark Phoenix (X-Men: Dark Phoenix). Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.
The film seems like it wants to spend more time asking is Charles a dick or not than explore the concept of the Dark Phoenix. Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

This flows on to the story, and we will dive in here a bit so some [SPOILERS] will be ahead. It felt like this film was cribbing notes from other more successful entries, and getting the actions but not the substance. Like having Jean being unable to control her powers and have that lead to the most predictable foreshadowed death in the series so far. Remember when they ate that up in Logan, it should work wonders here, but alas it did not. Or attacking a mutant prisoner transport which has happened in at least two different films. Indeed, there are many references to scenes in past films, but they just had me fondly think of better films that I could be watching.

Even when they try to be interesting they can’t help but return to being formulaic. There is a moment where we catch up with Magneto (Michael Fassbender) who is creating a secret community in an island where mutants can be safe and left alone, it is not referred to as Genosha in the film but it is vibing that story. After seven films it was nice to have him and Charles not fighting for a change and whops that lasted all of ten minutes before we make them fight again. While that could at least be interesting if they showed us something we have not seen before, but here the film continues to be happy just going through the motions again. With the one exception being Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) being given a chance to let loose what he can actually do. But waves of generic henchmen when you have such a wealth of potential to mine is such a waste. To add to this, while the effects are mostly fine, they are just riffing off things we have seen before, and there are a couple of establishing shots that clearly the effects team had not been given enough time to make work. Even Hans Zimmer’s score is completely unnoteworthy, and I have never once said that about one of his scores before.    

Dark Phoenix (X-Men: Dark Phoenix). Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.
There are these moments where you think the film is about to finally break out of the mould, and then nope back to formulaic it goes.

I honestly feel really bad for Sophie Turner, because this is her first lead film role, and she is giving her best, but they are just not giving her anything to work with. While they wrote a quip in the beginning about it should be ‘X-Women because they are always saving the day’, maybe they should have incorporated that into the story a bit more. Because in a film titled ‘Dark Phoenix’ you would expect the focus to be on you know the Dark Phoenix. However, instead, the film wants to spend as much of its runtime as possible on brooding men and their anger issues.

In the end, do we recommend Dark Phoenix? Look that is a hard maybe. As far as the film goes, it is still a competently created work. However, it is just going through the motions, so I would only really recommend it to those who are completionists and want to see every film in this franchise.                   

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you watched Dark Phoenix?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.

Credits –
All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Dark Phoenix
Directed by
– Simon Kinberg
Written by – Simon Kinberg
Based on – X-Men by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
Music by – Hans Zimmer
Cinematography by – Mauro Fiore
Edited by – Lee Smith
Production/Distribution Companies – 20th Century Fox, The Donners’ Company, Marvel Entertainment, TSG Entertainment & Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Starring – Sophie Turner, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Summer Fontana, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Evan Peters, Ato Essandoh & Jessica Chastain with Scott Shepherd, Brian d’Arcy James, Halston Sage, Kota Eberhardt, Andrew Stehlin, Daniel Cudmore & Lamar Johnson            
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Germany: 12; New Zealand: M; United Kingdom: 12A; United States: PG-13


4 thoughts on “Movie Review – Dark Phoenix (X-Men: Dark Phoenix)

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