Most fans rejoiced when news broke in late 2017 that Disney was going to be purchasing Twentieth Century Fox. It meant that characters like the X-Men, Fantastic Four and Deadpool would finally be able to cross paths with The Avengers & Spider-Man. As the process began for the two companies to become one, Fox had still filmed and had plan to release three more X-Men films in Deadpool 2, Dark Phoenix & the ever escaping New Mutants. Not to mention that Fox had started production, or at the very least the creative production, on three more X-films. James Franco was slated to tackle a Multiple Man movie. Channing Tatum was going to be learning card tricks as Gambit. Let’s not forget the Deadpool-led X-Force movie. The latter three projects seem to be dead in the water. New Mutants is slated for a 2020 release date, two years after its initial release and its fourth date change. Then, you have the final X-Men movie from Fox in Dark Phoenix.
Dark Phoenix takes place ten years after the events of its’ predecessor X-Men: Apocalypse. Upon a rescue mission to space, the team encounters a space flair which launches itself into Jean Grey and the ultimate battle of self begins. Unlike the last time that Fox execs tried their hand at the famous comic arc, Jean Grey actually takes center stage for this film. Sophie Turner is the star of the film – no doubt about it. Turner brings an emotionally tormented performance that draws a sense of reliability to the character. Crafting an arc which opens the audience to an emotional connection to the character. She is strong, fierce and extraordinarily entertaining. Which is more than I can say for the rest of the cast.
So many of the performances honestly just come across so flat and wooden. Phoenix sees the return of James MacAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence & Nicholas Hoult – all of which deliver two dimensional and uninspiring performances. The biggest flaw of this film, though, must be the addition of Jessica Chastain. I want to emphasize that this is Academy Award nominated actress, Jessica Chastain we are talking about here. She is underdeveloped, wooden and a waste of screen time. Chastain is so forgettable in every sense of the word. Biggest tragedy, her villain adds nothing to the overarching plot. She has little to no purpose for an actual existence within the movie.
The film suffers from some weird pacing as well. The opening and final act tend to be a bit quicker pace. However, the film comes to a bit of a crawl for its’ middle act. Phoenix tends to have a knack for rushing the setup of the movie. It feels as though it is using its follow-up act to do all the set up which should have been featured in the first act. It just has some extraordinarily weird narrative choices. Narrative aside though Simon Kimberg, who is not only the writer but also the director, does a fantastic job at creating a visual spectacle of this film. Kimberg has an eye for visual beauty and excellent fight choreography. Some of the fight sequences within this film could be the best within the franchise. The practical effects of Nightcrawler, Mystique & Beast all look phenomenal as well.
Overall, Dark Phoenix, is entertaining but misguided. Sophie Turner leads with grace and fierce strength as the conflicted Jean Grey struggling with identity and power. Turner delivers an emotionally impactful performances. Proving to be the strongest aspect of the film, aside from Simon Kimberg’s directing. Phoenix force might be strong but even it’s not strong enough to escape the subpar acting, pointless villain and weird pacing of the movie. Still, Dark Phoenix, is beautiful to look at and an entertaining ride from start to finish.
RORSCHACH RATING SCALE:
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