Dark Phoenix (2019) Movie Review

Having started movie reviewing in 2014, there were a lot of series I probably should’ve caught up on, like the MCU and Batman movies, maybe the Evil Dead movies, possibly the X-Men movies. I’ve now seen every X-Men movie since 2014, including the Deadpool movies (well, minus that Once Upon a Deadpool that got barely advertised), so yeah, not much, all things considered. But then I hear this is supposed to be the last one, and I wasn’t expecting this to beat Logan. I had no belief this would be better than the Logan knockout punch. And it wasn’t. But it didn’t fizzle out and die either.

The X-Men (or X-Women as Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) begins to think would be the rightful title, all events considered) are seen as heroes now, their yellow bumblebee costumes and everything. One of the X-, uh…Force, as Deadpool might say, Jean Grey (Sophie Jordan), is a prodigy of Charles Xavier’s school, after something really bad happened to her family as a result of her abnormalities. But one day after a crazy outer-space mission, Jean ends up absorbing a strange power that makes her for a while feel better than she’s ever had. But her powers also make her remember something that Xavier tried to negate from her memory, and soon Jean’s world ends up literally spiralling out of control when people are after her powers and she wants to keep everyone away from her until she can figure out what to do – though it may be too late to ever return at this point.

I’m really not an X-Men fan. Yes, there’s the Quicksilver played by Evan Peters that everyone says Michael Seater of Life with Derek looks like. Yes, there are a variety of superheroes and powers. But in all the ones I’ve seen (minus Logan, which wasn’t a typical X-Men film) they’ve had something important missing. Maybe it was the idea of having fun and laughing. 

This one is missing a little of that too, and this film is far from ranking up to the box-office blasting Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies. Yet, it’s better than a lot of blockbusters of its genre I’ve recently seen. I liked it better than Shazam. And I liked it a whole, whole, lot better than X-Men: Apocalypse. Maybe it’s not able to laugh with itself, but it actually is a pretty fun time.

Yeah, Apocalypse was an apocalypse on my eyes and patience. That movie was 2 hours and 24 minutes with too many pauses in the action for unclear and unexciting dream sequences, an incomprehensible plot centred around an antagonist with typical motives, and side characters we don’t get to understand in the slightest. I gave a D to that movie, despite my B of Days of Future Past. So I expected to supremely dislike this film. But there was a light noticeable hiccup in my theory. This one was forty minutes shorter than Apocalypse. Now, I heard this film may have been rushed into production a little, and it might be weird to say “It’s-good-because-if-it’s-garbage-at-least-it’s-not-long-garbage”, you know? But actually, unlike the critics that have named this the worst X-Men movie yet and one of the worst superhero movie attempts, I don’t think this chapter, and perhaps closing chapter, is garbage in the first place.

The undeniable criticism is Jennifer Lawrence’s makeup. I have no idea what the artists and director were thinking when they lightened her 100%-blue skin into pale blue. She looked like she didn’t get any sun in the last three years compared to the previous two movies. Everyone knows they had the budget for her appearance to be kept the same.

There’s a familiarity in this film’s plot, but that’s not completely criticism. The earlier X-Men movies talked a lot about how best to handle calamities when the world keeps tipping over whether the X-Men are good people to have around the normalized world, how delicate superhero politics are, and it’s also addressed here. The way our political climate now is, it feels so easy to trap someone into seeming arrogant and dangerous in front of a media audience. When Jean ends up committing something dastardly, some want her dead for relatably personal reasons, and others feel violence is not the way to go because Jean is still their friend, and a violent act could irreversibly destroy the reputation of the X-Men. They’re both right, and when that happens, it makes for compelling discussions after the movie. To be fair, there are quite a few other “They’re-both-right” situations in superhero movies these days, but this one manages to try hard enough to not look completely derivative.

Jean ends up forcing Xavier to walk despite his wheelchair, and I felt a creepy satisfaction seeing that which I can’t understand. The same goes for when Jean easily demolishes a helicopter ambush tasked with apprehending her. There’s also satisfaction when a very public and personal attack ends up on the streets. Maybe it’s because Jean does things to the people who try to control her in ways that would probably anger us in her shoes, and she does it tremendously easily. Tye Sheridan as Jean’s continuing love interest both gives a believable performance as he desperately tries to calm people’s anger towards Jean and he gets some moments of super-hero-ism with his diabolical laser eyes.

Maybe there’s in the end not quite as much to justify it as an end to an era as there could have been, and that’s why the movie’s so hated. Cause I wouldn’t call it boring. As I said, I was never an X-Men fan. Dark Phoenix did not make me change my mind on that, but I had a pretty decent time, maybe even a little more than Days of Future Past. It’s a nice little summer movie probably more worth watching on a movie night at home.

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