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'X-Men: Dark Phoenix' ends franchise on a whimper

Sophie Turner in a scene from Dark Phoenix. Picture: Twentieth Century Fox/AP

Sophie Turner in a scene from Dark Phoenix. Picture: Twentieth Century Fox/AP

Published Jun 7, 2019


How did I feel watching "X-Men: Dark Phoenix"? Well, it was similar to how RuPaul felt after the abysmal Nina West versus Silky Nutmeg Ganache lipsync to TLC’s "No Scrubs"; “Meh!,” pretty much sums it up. 

Rating: 2/5

"X-Men: Dark Phoenix" is 20th Century Fox’s second go at bringing the Dark Phoenix saga from the comic books to the big screen. 

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In the movie, set in 1992, the X-Men are sent to save an astronaut crew after their spaceship loses control. During the mission, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) becomes infused with the Phoenix force. This could’ve been one of the best X-Men films, however, everyone involved is over it. 

Director and screenwriter Simon Kinberg is over it, the actors are over it (especially Jennifer Lawrence as Raven/ Mystique) and the visual artists are over it. 

Overall, the film lacks adroit direction. "Dark Phoenix" is Kinberg’s directorial debut in a feature film, although he has worked on X-Men films as a screenwriter and producer. 

This wasn’t a great first offering. The main plot of the film is never clear and, for the most part, characters do things only to show off their mutant abilities; they lack sincere motivations for their actions. 

And many of them redo character arcs from previous films. I’m surprised that after working on so many X-men-related things, Kinberg produced such a predictable and lacklustre script. The acting, while good, isn’t enough to salvage the movie. In many ways, the writing lets the actors down. 

Even James McAvoy as Prof Charles Xavier and Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr/ Magneto, who are the anchors with the most gravitas, don’t get to bolster the movie like they usually do. 

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This film feels as if all concerned held a meeting before shooting commenced and announced Disney’s acquisition of Fox. Everyone then sighed, and since this is the last film with everyone involved, they decided to do the bare minimum and call it a day. 

The pacing in "Dark Phoenix" is slow and it feels as if characters are merely moving from one set piece to the next for the sake of action sequences. It is only in the third act that the pace picks up in a train sequence. And while it’s fun, it feels like you’re watching a different film. "X-Men Dark Phoenix" could’ve been the gracious final bow for the Fox X-Men films. 

Instead, we end the era on a whimper and will have to wait until the new X-Men finally join the Marvel Cinematic Universe to see the franchise done some justice.

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