REVIEW: “Dark Phoenix”; This X-Men Franchise Is Done. Take It Away Marvel!
Dark Phoenix is the seventh X-Men movie in the X-Men movie franchise. If you count the three Wolverine movies and the two Deadpool movies, technically there are twelve. For the most part, these movies have been hit or miss. As popular as a lot of these characters are, these movies have really not been too memorable and do not share the love that audiences have for the MCU movies. Does this last movie change things? Read on and see.
You have to give credit to the X-Men movie franchise for one thing. Warner Brother’s “Batman And Robin” was a disaster, and so much so, that it killed the super hero movie genre for about 13 years. Back in 2000, Fox released the first X-Men movie. It wasn’t great, but it was no Batman And Robin either. X-Men also introduced the movie going world to the character of Wolverine. He was played by new comer Hugh Jackman and the world fell in love with the character and Jackman soon became a household name. This one movie helped jump start the superhero movie genre again and was soon followed by other superhero movies such as Sony’s “Spider-Man”, Universal’s “Hulk” and Paramount’s “Iron Man”. Eventually this all led to Disney acquiring Marvel and slowly but surely reaquiring the movie rights for some of its most popular Marvel characters for their Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Surprisingly, this movie is not as bad as what most critics are claiming it to be. Sure it has it’s problems, but it also gets a lot of things right too. In my opinion, this is a much better movie than X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: Apocalypse. It is nowhere as good as X2: X-Men United or Logan, but it kind of falls in the middle of the pack. What they really get right in this movie are the X-Men themselves. This just feels like the X-Men from the comics more than any other X-Men movie. And you have to love those blue and yellow costumes that comic book fans have been dying to see ever since the days of X-Men just wearing black leather in all of those earlier movies. In my book, the first half hour is really great as the X-men rescue astronauts from an endangered space shuttle mission. It shows the X-Men working together as a team and utilizing the best of their powers and again it just feels like something right out of the X-Men comics.
I think Sophie Turner does an excellent job as Jean Grey. I was never a fan of Famke Janssen in the original X-Men movies, and to me Turner is just the perfect embodiment and look of the character. I have also really liked James McAvoy as Charles Xavier in this series. Again, I prefer McAvoy over Patrick Stewart, and for me this is his best performance, or make that his most comic book accurate performance. Michael Fassbender as Magneto, Nicholas Hoult as Beast, Tye Sheridan as Cyclops, Alexandra Shipp as Storm, Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler and Evan Peters as Quicksilver also have wonderful performances and are all as comic book accurate as you are going to get.
My problem with this group of X-Men is how they alway seem to elevate the character of Mystique in these movies, who is played by Jenifer Lawrence And I don’t care if Lawrence has won an Oscar or two, she just does not add anything to these movies, nor does her character. Lawrence being predominately featured in these movies is probably due to her Oscar winning celebrity status and for some reason Fox must feel that she is a huge draw to movie goers. It’s kind of like if Leonardo DiCaprio played Egghead in a Batman movie before he made it big and then every Batman movie after that had DiCaprio reprise his role as Egghead. In the X-Men comic books, Mystique was never really an an integral part of the X-Men, nor was Quicksilver. I hope in whatever incarnation that we see in the future for the X-Men, that Mystique is nowhere to be seen.
The lack of Wolverine also hurts this movie. You have to face it, Wolverine is the most popular X-Men and his introduction in the comics really brought the X-Men into the forefront. And like I said before, Hugh Jackman was always an excellent choice. He loves playing the character and he has gone out of his way to be as faithful as possible with his portrayal of the character for the millions of comic book fans out there. No one wants to see a Wolverine cameo in an X-Men movie. And in this movie, you dont even get a cameo.
The other big problem for me where the villains in this movie. They were led by Jessica Chastain and it felt like a very generic alien invasion story. They could have used the original source material, “The Dark Phoenix Saga”, in the comics and brought in The Hellfire Club, but they chose a bunch of shape shifting aliens. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it. Also some of the X-Men seem to make irrational decisions for no reason. Kind of similar to Batman V Superman, where both heroes wanted to kill each other for not the best of reasons. Superheroes should be much smarter than that. But probably the biggest negative issue is that this film feels like it is missing soemthing. Either something on the cutting room floor or something that was never filmed becasue they ran out of funds. It just kind of ends abruptly and I felt they could have done something much more spectacular than the ending that we got. Read on.
And oh boy! Are you going to see a lot of similarities with this movie and Marvel’s “Captain Marvel”. I kind of wonder if this movie came out first, if Captain Marvel would have been accused of plagiarism. Both of these women focus on overpowered female superheroes with cosmic powers who must take on a group of shape shifting aliens. And both of these movies take place in the ninetys. In fact, Fox had to re-shoot the ending of Dark Phoenix because it was too similar to Captain Marvel’s ending. Did the Disney/Fox deal have anything to do with it? Originally, Dark Phoenix was sscheduled to be released on November 2, 2018 and then it was moved to February 14th, and then finally it moved its release date to June 7th. Sounds fishy.
It’s always best to go into these movies with low expectations and then come out pleasantly surprised. And I’m glad that happened for me. There are a lot of good action scenes and performances, but it also could have been better. This movie gets pretty violent at times, and even though it is rated PG-13, I don’t know if I would bring the whole family to this one. It would have been nicer if we had a more epic ending to the X-Men franchise, but in a way, this somewhat guarantees that this group of X-Men will not be carried over to the MCU. I am really hoping to see an X-Men team consiting of Jean Grey, Cyclops, Beast, Wolverine, Storm, Gambit and Rogue one day. OK Marvel, let’s see what you can do!