Movie ReviewsDark Phoenix – A Lackluster Effort (Early Review)

Anthony LeJune 5, 201941/100
James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Sophie Turner
Simon Kinberg
Simon Kinberg
PG (Canada), PG-13 (United States)
Running Time
113 minutes
Release Date
June 7th, 2019
Overall Score
Rating Summary
Even though it was somewhat elevated by its cast, there’s unfortunately not enough to save Dark Phoenix from being a disappointment.

Dark Phoenix is unfortunately a mostly wasted opportunity to get the X-Men back on track. The X-Men have been around for a long time, and since the very divisive Apocalypse, people have been hoping for the franchise to find its footing again. First Class and Days of Future Past were both some of the best films in the whole franchise. James MvAvoy and Michael Fassbender proved to be a great duo, something that was already apparent to begin with, considering both of them are great actors. However, Dark Phoenix‘s greatest fault was its wasting of the onscreen talent on screen.

The story this time around was predictable at best. What made the aforementioned First Class and Days of Future Past so great was how their stories weaved in directions that the audience could never anticipate. What Dark Phoenix did differently was that even for those unfamiliar with some of the characters’ backstories, it’s certainly not difficult to see where the film is heading.

Kinberg may have all the parts of a good film, but they would all overshadowed by one, glaring flaw: the lack of story. Story aside, the effects were also just okay. They could never seem to quite reach the level of grandeur as other Marvel films and looked kind of flat. Dark Phoenix falls into that trap. There was just something about their design that made them look unconvincing and devoid of a sense of wonder or excitement.

Fassbender and McAvoy, as Magneto and Charles Xavier respectively, have undeniably been great throughout all the previous X-Men films. Dark Phoenix is probably the first film in the franchise that wastes their talents. Their characters, having been developed from past films, are ones we already know and love. Putting past films aside, the character development and the dialogue in Dark Phoenix are some of the worst aspects of the series.

With a running time of nearly 2 hours, none of the cast get the opportunity to shine. Jean Grey’s (Turner) ark throughout the film is anything but fresh, and her character just isn’t as compelling as the writers seemed to think it would be. The conflict that the characters are put through never felt as consequential as the film’s synopsis promised. At no point in the film were the characters forced to make difficult decisions. This all leads back to the story; because of its predictability, the climax the writers were hoping for was not nearly as satisfying.

If there’s one good thing about Dark Phoenix, it was its score. Not only did it feel appropriate, it also helped to conceal some of the flaws within its writing. Even when we don’t feel like the moment is satisfying, it perhaps convinces us otherwise. That’s likely the biggest factor in not declaring the film a complete disaster. If it deserves credit for anything, it’s highlighting the importance of sound and music.

Dark Phoenix was the film that everyone was hoping would make up for Apocalypse. After the disappointing flaws in Apocalypse, Dark Phoenix suffers from a lot of those same problems. It doesn’t prioritize its story, which if should. Unlike First Class and Days of Future Past, it features a story that just doesn’t feel engaging enough to warrant an entire film, especially at 114 minutes. Further, it suffers from the poor design of its visual effects. This is something that has held the franchise back in prior films, and continues to now.

*still courtesy of 20th Century Fox*

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