Dark Phoenix is considered as the last possible film in the Fox-produced X Men franchise, which is arguably the most confusing movie franchise with a totally messed up timeline. Directed by Simon Kinberg, the movie has a couple of breathtaking action sequences, but beyond that, it’s a really underwritten movie with no real emphasis on character development.
So the movie is set in the year 1992 where the X Men for the first time takes up a space mission to save astronauts who were facing problems from a strong solar flare. The mission ended up in a situation where Jean absorbed the entire energy from that flare and yet she was alive. The physical and mental changes that happened to Jean post that and the trouble that came along with it is what Kinberg’s version of Dark Phoenix showing us.
If you go back to some of the old X Men movies, (a move that I don’t really recommend) you will find this Dark Phoenix character arc on multiple occasions. And because this timeline thing is so messed up, I would like to look at Dark Phoenix as a standalone movie to reduce the stress of understanding the complicated timeline. Like some of the recent X Men movies, there is some absolutely stunning work of action choreography here that uses wild imagination very effectively. But the real problem is the writing. There are no real explanations to a lot of the character motives here and you will feel bad for someone like Jessica Chastain who is wasted as a mere shapeshifter.
James McAvoy is convincing as the always “wait, I can explain” Charles Xavier. The movie is trying to make him a grey selfish character for some time and McAvoy has made some adjustments to make us fall for that narrative. Michael Fassbender is okay as the rebellion leader Magneto. Jennifer Lawrence is there briefly as Raven. The main star, however, was Sophie Turner as Jean and she looked as confused as us in understanding the problems of this so-called dark power. And like I already mentioned above, Jessica Chastain is a wasted talent here with a character that has so little to do.
Simon Kinberg is heavily relying on the visual effects oriented storytelling here. The story here had the possibility of playing with the grey area in characters and the writing at times even promised its intent to make someone like the professor an antagonist. But those ideas were never addressed and the movie slipped into the superhero cliché one would easily predict. The wonderfully imagined action sequences in the movie that use the abilities of the mutants smartly are indeed a treat to watch. And such scenes getting the backing up of the music of someone like Hans Zimmer just makes it even better.
The X Men franchise was never really a steady ship like the MCU. There were some really good movies and some utterly forgettable creations as well. But considering how Fox managed to give a brilliant and emotional adieu to someone like Wolverine in Logan, I wanted Dark Phoenix to be a much better last outing for this franchise, but it ended up as a boring experience with a lot of visual effects.
Directed by Simon Kinberg, the movie has a couple of breathtaking action sequences, but beyond that, it’s a really underwritten movie with no real emphasis on character development.