SO, last night I took the chance to go see the LAST installment in the Fox X-Men Franchise, Dark Phoenix. Let’s just get this over with.
Opening: I already had a bad feeling when I didn’t get to see the classic X-Men opening credit sequence with the wonderful theme that started in X2. At the same time, I guess that is primarily a Singer element. Oh well…
The opening shows the X-Men heading into space to save some astronauts from an incoming “solar flare.” This sequence was wonderful. I was like, ok! We’re off to a good start! The X-Men together, going into space, using their powers together to save the day. I loved it. There was even a moment as they were going up where Scott puts his hand on Jean’s shoulder and I’m like, yes. Scott and Jean. Finally.
First Jean Encounter: When the X-Men go to confront Jean at her father’s house they have a pretty decent action sequence. I was all for it. Of course, the scene concludes with, the already super spoiled plot point, Raven’s death.
Jennifer Lawrence barely does anything in this movie. She’s a plot point to set up how Xavier has become a villain and using the X-Men to promote his ego and cover his insecurities. More on that below… But, yes. She dies at the end of the fight scene and though people have felt “done dirty” by Mystique in this franchise I actually think she performed alright!
I put the lack of weight to her death right there next to Havok’s from Apocalypse. Alas, I digress.
Kill Attempt/Train Sequence: I understand the the ending of the movie was where we got the majority of the reshoots. It shows. The train fight sequence and even the X-Men trying to get into the building before Magneto were not just my favorite for the movie but some of my favorite sequences from any X-Men movie! It showed the thing we never really got before; the X-Men fighting together and using their powers together! Loved it.
However, Magneto’s “colleagues”?-no. Mutant hair? Staring contest lady? Nope. You didn’t have any bigger of a budget to showcase a more intense fight scene? Fortunately their participation was minimal on the train.
Oh, yes, back to the train- NIGHTCRAWLER USING HIS SIGNATURE KNIFE WORK, STORM BLASTING BITCHES, and MAGNETO MAKING IT LOOK EASY. I loved it. Great stuff. That being said, they weren’t just great with the action…
The Younger Mutants: I have to give respect and also give my feels for the actors playing Cyclops, Storm, and Nightcrawler. With what they were given I think they did a really good job. Cyclops did embody that desperate love for Jean, Storm showed that logical and serene yet intense personality, and Nightcrawler had a few good one-liners.
What sucks, is that more than anything, their performances communicated two things to me.
1- I’m that much more excited for the characters to appear in the MCU so they can ALL be done right and
2- These characters really do not belong in film.
There just ISN’T enough time to do everyone justice. There’s so many doors that appear in this movie that I want to open and explore but we have to stick to the main plot and whatever Jessica Chastain is here to do. It’s a shame!
At Least the Start of Some Good Ideas…: The conversation between Mystique and Charles at the beginning of the movie presents a very good idea. When faced with discrimination or even just neglect/ not being invited to the table we can lean towards giving too much of ourselves in order to fit in. I actually felt for Xavier at the opening of the movie. He was willing to do whatever it took to get people to like them. That’s an experience to relate to.
The rest…. ugh.
Jessica Chastain: So, with Xavier being propped up from the beginning by Mystique as a discrete “villain” and Jean being consumed by this dark force, Jessica Chastain’s character really did not need to be here. Her main purpose was to explain what the force was. Something I think Jean could have done herself with a five minute monologue while in Phoenix mode? She felt generic and pointless. Any time she and the other aliens came on the screen I just got bored and checked out of the film.
Why is Magneto Here?: Another person that didn’t need to be here. Now, because Raven died, yes, one would wonder what Magneto’s reaction would be and what his emotional stakes would be in the story. Also, this is the last Fox film for the X-Men so I guess I understand the need for him to give his final bow. Yet, he wasn’t necessary.
The Dark Phoenix saga always felt like an internal conflict for the X-Men. This idea of what was happening with Xavier and the team having to make a decision on what to do with Jean, it was enough! There wasn’t the need for all this other stuff but again, there wasn’t much of an investment before this movie to build characters to a point that audiences could really feel the depth of loss and have their own chips in the game.
Conclusion: The action sequences, those younger mutants, and yes, Jean included (she did a fantastic job with what she was given),were all positives to the film. However, it just wasn’t enough. Everything in between the fights was bland. There wasn’t enough to hold on to or to care about!
Mystique’s warning and even what she died for ended up being out of a misunderstanding? Xavier is fine, Jean just didn’t understand. uhhhh ok? You know someone died cause of this S#$% right?
It’s so tossed aside that Jean’s final words to Chastain are to let her know that her emotions makes her strong…. really, girl?!
Have you been paying attention these last couple days?! Your emotions have been the mess! Ugh, forget it…
Even when Jean dies you don’t care as much as when Mystique did because we’ve known the other character since 2011! This story has power because it comes after YEARS of build up with ALL the characters. Fox just went for the cash grab and didn’t think to properly lay down the ground work.
Ironically, I saw this thing opening night and that theater was EMPTY.
It’s a sad thing for me as a fan of this IP. This is the comic book series that celebrates being different! To own the things that make you feel like an outcast and let those things be your superpower! It’s upsetting to see this is how a 20 year franchise takes its final bow.
I truly hope Marvel brings them back sooner rather than later because unfortunately, we live in times where the X-Men might be the most needed heroes of all.
I give Dark Phoenix a 1.5/5 potatoes.