Directed by Simon Kinberg | Written by Simon Kinberg
More often than not, a great epic storyline from a comic book never seems to live up to the hype on the big screen, and this is such a case. Since the first X-Men movie back in 2000, filmmakers have tried in vain to deliver a Dark Phoenix storyline, but as the train wreck of a film that was 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand proved, this is not an easy feat. Here we have a successful writer from films like Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Sherlock Holmes trying his hand at a screenplay that falls flat again and again. Dark Phoenix should be treated as a trilogy. I feel that is what fans want but perhaps will never get. This film could have benefited from a second writer to infuse more emotion into the storyline.
Here come the spoilers.
Opening scenes shows us a young Jean Grey in a car with her parents. When her powers get out of hand, an accident occurs which kills her mother. She ends up with Professor Xavier at his school for the gifted and he blocks out memories of the crash to protect her. Fast forward to current day and an emergency situation with the space station causes the President to call Xavier (James McAvoy) to enlist the help of the X-Men. They arrive in space and start their extraction of the astronauts but an unusual space storm ends up surrounding Jean (Sophie Turner) and then disappears inside her. Jean is taken back to the mansion and examined but nothing serious is found to be wrong other than her powers are off the charts.
Jean soon grows scared of her powers and leaves the school to find her father who she discovered didn’t die in the car accident. This film moves at such a quick pace that it doesn’t really take the time needed to show the struggle within Jean. The relationship between her and Scott (Tye Sheridan) was rushed and you don’t feel a real connection between the two. Again, a downside of having to rush a trilogy story into a single film.
A shape shifting alien group called the D’Bari have been tracking this dark force that is now inside Jean. They seek to harness its power to take over a planet as their new home. This was a rather boring element of the story. I felt the theme of government versus the mutants would be a far better angle to tackle. Show that the world loves the X-Men but then have their opinion reversed to show just how fickle people can be. In this day of public shaming, social media causes, etc., it would have been better to insert into this film the idea that you can be a hero one day and a villain the next. It could’ve been brought up when Jean visits Magento (Michael Fassbender) at his island refuge for mutants where they have shunned technology and given up on the outside world. The mutants under his protection are done with the world at large and just trying to survive in peace. This was a worthwhile theme that should have been explored more with opposing views between Xavier and Magento.
Alas, the film is rushed, the story has no time to breathe, and we arrive at the ending that is quite frankly sad, particularly when you look back at how wonderfully they set up X-Men First Class and X-Men Days of Future Past to deliver epic storylines. The studio should take notes from Marvel on how they split up Avenger’s Infinity War and Avenger’s Endgame. That allowed enough time to tell the story and let characters connect emotionally to its viewers. Without viewers being connected to the characters, their deaths don’t have impact and therefore the story is not memorable or worthwhile.
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