The Rolling Stone screams “Dark Phoenix doesn’t just suck big time. It’s the worst movie ever in the X-Men series.” Is it as bad as its 23% Rotten Tomatoes rating, or closer to the 69% Audience score? Actually, it “sucked” me in when Raven says to Charles Xavier “the women are always saving the men around here. You should consider renaming us X-Women.” Yes, the “we are family” story is repetitive. Just because the mutants are a little (nay, a lot) paranoid about humans not trusting them, doesn’t mean they are wrong. For those of us not intimately familiar with all the intricacies and complicated backgrounds of the multitude of comic-book characters, it was pleasant to sit back and watch without wondering where this guy/gal fit in. I give Dark Phoenix 3.5 Gavels.
In 1992, the space shuttle Endeavor is spinning wildly out of control. The President asks Xavier for help. As she is rescuing the the final astronaut, Jean absorbs a cosmic force which increases her powers exponentially. Unable to control her power, she sets out to discover her past and avoid hurting others. Now alone, Jean is “vulnerable” to those who seek to use her. Who are those behind this cosmic force and what do they want?
Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones) is impressive in the role of Jean Grey/Phoenix. It’s not easy going from confused to all-powerful so quickly. James McAvoy returns as Professor X, a satisfactory substitute for Patrick Stewart. Michael Fassbender, as Erik/Magneto, demands your attention anytime he appears on the screen. Jennifer Lawrence is also back as Raven/Mystique, the conscience of the X-Men, or shall we say, X-Women?
Some critics are calling for the end of the X-Men franchise, a rather severe punishment for a movie expected to make $170 million worldwide this weekend. Made at a cost of $200 million, it expects to earn as much, or more, in China as in the US. Now that Disney owns Fox, expect X-Men to be nurtured and re-directed. (If interested, read What’s Next For The X-Men Movies?) While Dark Phoenix is the final installment in this series, the ending might also be interpreted as a beginning. And, what else would you expect? Bottom line–not great, but enjoyable!