X-MEN DARK PHOENIX IS PLAYING IN THEATRES NOW.
It is 19 years since the X-Men first burst onto our cinema screens, creating a new public appetite for comic book adaptations. Over those 19 years, the X-Men franchise has seen its fair share of success and failure, with spin-offs, prequels and sequels. Dark Phoenix marks the final chapter in the ‘First Class’ prequels that began in 2011. But does it offer the X-Men a good send-off?
Our story starts in the 1970s with a young Jean Grey (Summer Fontana) travelling in a car with her family. However, what begins as a road trip ends in tragedy due to Jean’s unfocused mutant abilities. Young Jean pulls herself from the wreckage unscathed and soon comes to the attention of one Dr Xavier (McAvoy), who takes her into his care at his home for extraordinary young people. We then jump forward to 1990s America, where the X-Men are regarded as heroes. However, when the X-Men are called upon to help save a space shuttle mission on the brink of disaster, a mysterious force invades Jean Grey intending to use her powers to conquer the world.
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Despite some superb sound design and cinematography, Dark Phoenix never manages to rise above the hamfisted screenplay at its heart, with most of the X-Men sidelined from the second act onwards. Meanwhile, any exciting themes and ideas are quickly airbrushed away in favour of another explosion or effect. Ultimately this leaves us with a film that is all visuals and no story; the only real emotional depth is held with McAvoy’s conflicted Xavier. Dark Phoenix never rises above the overwhelming sense of franchise fatigue surrounding it and is a disappointing swan song for a film series holding so much potential.
Director: Simon Kinberg