The new X-men: Dark Phoenix is out. The X-Men heroically rescue a space shuttle. Jean Grey absorbs some sort of cosmic force and begins to do bad things. The alien D’Bari want to use that force to recreate their destroyed world on Earth. The army wants to destroy Jean as do half the X-Men. The other half wants to save her. But can she be saved?
The Dark Phoenix saga is probably the best known and most loved single story in X-Men comic history, so much so that a version of it featured in X3: The Last Stand. And, 7 movies later, here it is again. And, boy, has it come in for some serious bashing from critics and fans alike, even though it is somewhat more faithful to its origins than the previous version.
X-men Dark Phoenix visuals
Visually it’s not too bad. There are some pleasing set pieces, albeit most are so fashionably dark that it’s difficult to follow what’s happening. I was pleased to see some classic X-Men uniforms in use, as well as minor things like obscure mutant Dazzler in action. And Nightcrawler gets to strut his stuff, with some highly creative BAMF!-ing.
Where this film fell down for me, big time, is in the utter lack of any emotional investment. This is a story of interlinked tragedy and redemption. The tragedy – beware spoilers – is the doomed romance between Jean and Scott (OK, Logan in X3), and the ultimate triumph is the sacrifice leading to redemption for the evil caused by Phoenix. So how does it fail?
It fails on several levels. Firstly, Jean/Phoenix doesn’t sem to be all that evil – Jessica Chastain’s D’Bari white queen is much more obviously evil – so her fall/redemption don’t have the impact they should. Secondly, the Jean/Scott romance is terribly limp. You never have a feelng of the power of their love, the sense that they are star-cross’d lovers. And thirdly, the casting. I’m not a huge fan of Famke Janssen and James Marsden, but they set the screen alight compared to Sophie Turner and, er, what’s his name again? The rest of the re-cast young X-Men are equally anonymous, which the exception of Evan Peters’ Quicksilver, who had standout sequences in Days Of Future Past and Apocalypse. This time he gets a one-liner, half a dozen steps on bits of an explosion, and – nothing. He had a bigger, and better, part on the Sky Fibre commercial which accompanied Apocalypse.
In short, while it’s not as bad as it’s been made out to be, it is far from good. The X-Men will reappear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in due course, but they deserved much better than this for their final outing for 20th Century Fox.
The 3D is completely worthless, by the way – see it flat.
Have you seen Dark Phoenix? What did you think?