In Brief: Dark. Light. In between? In the superhero hierarchy, the X-Men this class or the original group the movies about them just don’t matter.
Dark Phoenix is loosely-based on Marvel Comics’ near legendary two-parter comic, The Dark Phoenix Saga. Very loosely. I haven’t read the comics but my research says other than being overdone and overwrought, it doesn’t have much in common with the film.
As you know there have been two different groups of actors playing the X-Men characters. They are the original group and the X-Men: First Class group. This movie has the latter. They’re a little more interesting than the original cast but that’s not saying much. Both groups are pretty boring.
No, let’s make that terribly, terribly boring.
The only positives in the first series are the brilliant casting of Patrick Stewart as Professor X and giving Hugh Jackman a shot at Wolverine. Jackman gave the character more humanity than most super heroes by letting him continue to be into Logan and giving the character three-dimensions.
Stewart finally did something deep with Professor X when he and Jackman gave us incredible performances and demonstrated the negative side of superherodom in Logan.
It is by far the best super hero movie of them all.
In group two Jennifer Lawrence’s Raven rocks, and what’s not to like about anything done by Michael Fassbender. The rest of the characters are as forgettable as the series.
While both groups initially did fairly well at the box office, other than Logan, the films are a critical mess. So is this one. By the way, if you’re familiar with the X-Men — even if you’re not — and you’ve not seen Logan, then you need to correct that now.
As you remember, the First Class group was originally set in the 1960s. They have now moved past the 1960s and have settled nicely into the 1980s. Dark Phoenix begins with the rescue of a Space Shuttle crew. While in space, and with no other way to describe it, Jean Grey inhales an energy entity that attacked the ship. It is part of an alien invasion and the leader of the invaders — a female called Vuk — needs to find Jean because she and her ilk have to have that power to take over the planet.
Grey is unable to handle all that power. She goes rogue, attacks the X-Men and kills one of them. I won’t spoil it for you and give you the identity of the character. I’ll let the Internet and social media handle that task for me.
Writer/director Simon Kinberg — who has produced and written several X-Men flicks — writes Dark Phoenix and is at the helm of what could — and probably should — be the series’ swan song. The story is bad and the script is even worse. The only positive is the excellent acting of Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner who plays Grey.
While that sounds positive, much of the reason is because she has very little dialogue. Lacking much to say, Turner’s main focus becomes looking tortured. Not as tortured as the rest of the cast. They have to endure uttering dumb lines from an equally dumb story that tries, and fails miserably to explore the negatives of an out-of-control ego using mind-control techniques to change a person and remove bad experiences from their lives.
All this leads to a conclusion based on a question that Marvel fans have been asking for the last couple of years. Why were the X-Men were not included in the killing off of a lot of Marvel characters in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame? Other than the brilliant original series-conclusion of Logan, and the use of the X-Men in two Deadpool movies, the original X-Men and the First Class group — as this movie proves — just aren’t that interesting.
So why mar two very good movies with characters this dull?
Director: Simon Kingberg
Stars: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Sophie Turner, Nicholas Hoult, Jessica Chastain, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Evan Peters, Kodi Smit-McPhee
This series and the original series have run their course. If this isn’t the X-Men series swan song, it ought to be. Nothing fickle about this Friday Flicks with Gary rating. Give Dark Phoenix a 1 on the 0 to 5 scale.
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Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.