Friday, June 14, 2019

Movie Review: "Dark Phoenix" (2019)

Movie"Dark Phoenix"
Director: Simon Kinberg
Year: 2019
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 53 minutes

When running a rescue mission in space, the X-men come into contact with a mysterious energy force that enters Jean Grey. This force gives her immeasurable power, but she struggles to control it, making her a danger to everyone. Matters only get worse when an alien race tries to manipulate Jean as a means of destroying the world.

Movie still of X-Men: Dark Phoenix as Sophie Turner's Jean Grey sits in a spaceship with Cyclops
The first face we made watching "X-Men: Dark Phoenix." (Image Source)
The films within the "X-Men" series have ranged from phenomenal to less-than-mediocre. "Dark Phoenix" is the final entry in the 20th Century Fox "X-Men" franchise. The question we had going into this installment was, will the series go out with a bang, or with a whimper? This screenplay is written by Simon Kinberg, and this film is also his directorial debut. Kinberg has been writing screenplays for a long time, including scripts for "X-Men Apocalypse" (2016), "Fantastic Four" (2015), and "X-Men: Last Stand" (2006), meaning this is his second go-around at the Dark Phoenix saga (this will be important later). The year is 1992, and over the last couple of years, mutants have become accepted by the general public. Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) even has a direct line to the president, who can call upon the X-Men whenever needed. One such moment arises when a space shuttle is left crippled by a large energy cloud in outer space. The X-Men fly up to save the astronauts, who are facing certain doom. In the process of the rescue, this mysterious energy enters Jean Grey (Sophie Turner). At first, all seems fine, but her powers suddenly become off the charts, and as they grow, she becomes increasingly unable to control it. To make matters worse, an alien race known as the D'Bari come to earth disguised as humans. Their leader Vuk (Jessica Chastain) seeks to manipulate Jean to achieve her own master plan to take over Earth since her race has lost their home planet.
James McAvoy's Professor Xavier looks in horror in the film X-Men: Dark Phoenix 2019
The second face we made watching "X-Men: Dark Phoenix." (Image Source)
Remember when we mentioned that Simon Kinberg wrote and directed "Dark Phoenix"? Well, it just so happens that "X-Men: Apocalypse" and "X-Men: The Last Stand" are widely considered two of the worst films in the "X-Men" franchise, and on top of that, "Fant4stic" is one of the most hated comic book movies of the last decade. Knowing this, we have to ask the inevitable, obvious question: why the hell would Fox, in all their infinite wisdom, ask the same guy who had a hand in writing all three of these meh-to-terrible scripts to not only write this film but to direct it as well?! Did they expect the end result to be anything other than disastrous? Sure, Kinberg also had a hand in writing "X-Men: Day of Future Past," but looking at his other screenplay credits, he has far more misses than hits, including the dreadful "This Means War," the middling "Jumper," and the god-awful "xXx: State of the Union." The story of "Dark Phoenix" is a jumbled, contrived mess with an overabundance of forced drama that wants to draw an emotional reaction from the crowd but, without fail, always falls flat. The real villains of this movie, Vuk and the D'Bari, are so underdeveloped that we had to look up who they were after watching it. Even with the exposition dump about the D'Bari delivered by Jessica Chastain, their motivations are shaky at best. Their powers and abilities are a little unclear, and they seem to change as the story needs them to. And how do you have Jessica freaking Chastain at your disposal but absolutely waste her talents!? Her character is a hollow, one-dimensional misuse of space as relegated to espousing dialogue that we've forgotten by the time she delivers it. UGH! Speaking of characters, and beyond these egregious errors, it is painfully apparent that some of the stars are involved in this project purely out of contractual obligation. This is the most phoned-in performance we've ever seen Jennifer Lawrence give, and it is clear to us that she didn't care about this movie. We liken the way she delivers a couple of her crucial lines to the way Willy Wonka talks when the kids at the chocolate factor have stepped out of line. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are the only two people who save this movie from being a total disaster, well, them and a couple of cool action scenes towards the end of the third act, but even those are riddled with unfinished, rushed CGI.
Michael Fassbender as Magneto has his mouth open in the 2019 movie Dark Phoenix
The third face we made watching "X-Men: Dark Phoenix." (Image Source)
"Dark Phoenix" is a total letdown, a tedious slog of a conclusion that hobbles this franchise across the finish line to a rather unremarkable end. We're used to comic books movies rousing and stirring out emotions. This? This nearly put us to sleep.

My Rating: 4/10
BigJ's Rating: 4/10
IMDB's Rating: ~6.1/10
RT Rating: ~23%
Do we recommend this movie: No.

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