After almost 20 years of highs (Logan, Days of Future Past) and lows (Apocalypse, Origins), the 20th Century Fox X-Men universe comes to a close with the 2nd adaptation of the Dark Phoenix storyline from the comics. I've been a fan of the X-Men movies for the most part. They're more thought-provoking than the Marvel films and actually do the darker material well unlike the DCEU. So now we're here at the final one, and oh boy. What a way to go out.
Simon Kinberg (writer of many of the past X-Men movies) directs Dark Phoenix, and for a first time director, he doesn't do a bad job despite the fact that it's very apparent he doesn't have the same level of skill that Bryan Singer or Matthew Vaughn did in the past. The main problem is, the movie doesn't have much of a personality. While the majority of the acting was solid, the lifeless cinematography, bland color palette, boring action (until the final one at the end) and limited humor means you only have the acting & characters to latch on to. The slower, more thought-provoking stuff is where the movie shines, but there is way less of that in this X-Men movie than previous ones. It’s a shame because a story as dark in tone as this one would have really benefited from that social commentary angle that many of the other films did. At least some of the acting is really good.
I never read the Dark Phoenix storyline personally, but I've heard a lot about it and how dark and catastrophic it was for the overall plot of the comics. This film… just doesn't have that same kind of urgency and drama that I heard the story is supposed to have. Now I do give credit to the movie for having a much slower pace than the completely corny and over the top Apocalypse. Letting this story breathe a bit and having the characters actually discuss what they're gonna do next helped me understand each person's viewpoint on the situation. As a finale though, this just doesn't work. I can't blame the movie, as it was written and filmed before the Fox & Disney merger, but it's a shame a series of films that have had plenty of great installments ends on a very mediocre conclusion.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Of all of the performances in this film, I really enjoyed James McAvoy and Sophie Turner who both turn in really solid performances as Xavier and Jean Grey. McAvoy has less to do in this movie than others but ends up still captivating the screen every time he's on. Turner gets much more to do in this movie than she did in Apocalypse, and her backstory and relationship with Xavier are the 2 highlights of the film. Both sadly end up being mostly in the first 10 minutes of the film. Fassbender as Magneto is good as well, but he's barely in the film (showing up for the first time about 50 minutes into it) which is a shame because Fassbender is one of our best actors currently living, and he gets almost nothing to do. The rest of the supporting cast is about the same, as they get minimum screen time and not much to do, but are fine in their roles… except for Jennifer Lawrence. It's very obvious through her performance as Raven that Lawrence is not a fan of these movies anymore and just wants out of this franchise. I felt the same way with Apocalypse, but man is she completely dull in this film. Well, luckily for her, she won't need to reprise her role anymore and I'm sure Disney won't be asking her to be in any MCU X-Men films in the near future.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Not gonna lie, I can't remember a single time when I really noticed the score or the soundtrack. It's only been a couple of days since I saw it, and I can't remember anything about the music. All I remember is that the sound design is very cartoonish when the action starts with punches, kicks, lightning bolts and such all sounding like how they would in the X-Men animated series back in the '90s. I might've liked that if it matched the tone of the movie, but it does not at all. Speaking of the 90's cartoon, I guess we'll have to wait until Marvel makes an X-Men movie until we get that amazing X-Men opening song in one of these films.
I almost gave this a spilled rating just for the one mutant whose power was that he had dreadlocks that could attack people. I'm not joking. And here I thought the porcupine guy from X-Men: The Last Stand was silly (look it up if you don't remember him). The X-Men movies have always had either hit or miss visual effects. Days of Future Past and Logan both looked terrific, but Apocalypse and Origins: Wolverine both were embarrassingly bad. Dark Phoenix ends up in the middle of the good and the bad. All of the Phoenix powers looked cool and the use of different colors and particle effects lessened the dreariness of the film at times. Problem is, most of the other effects are very obvious, silly looking, and a little overdone. Especially when the movie introduces us to the shapeshifting alien creatures in the film that are totally not the Skrulls at all. Not only are they lame villains but whenever they shapeshift, the CGI is so bad and the design of the creatures is so generic that it makes them more laughable than anything else. Well, at least they don't have dreadlocks that attack people.
What a shame that this had to be the final film in the Fox X-Men series. If only we could flip Dark Phoenix and Logan around and have the latter be the final film. Well, I guess we technically still have The New Mutants coming out eventually. Hopefully that's better than this mediocre attempt. Rest In Peace to the first X-Men series (2000-2019).