HOLLYWOOD—The moment I knew the “X-Men” franchise was traveling down that rabbit hole to focus on another Jean Grey and Dark Phoenix storyline I immediately had concerns. “Dark Phoenix,” the final chapter of the “X-Men” universe at least for 20th Century Fox, as the franchise now shifts to Disney offers very little to satisfy those fans of the comic book world and fans of the franchise. There have been so many baddies of “X-Men” that haven’t even been touched that leaves my mind boggled.
I’ve been eagerly wanting the franchise to tackle Mr. Sinister from the “X-Men” comic book verse for years, yet we have another rehash of Jean Grey after that terrible “X-Men: The Last Stand” narrative. Some of our favorites are back, but even they can’t save this movie that just feels tired, rushed and incomplete. I mean till this day I rank “X-Men: First Class” as one of the second best comic book flicks behind “The Dark Knight.” “First Class” had great character development, fun villains and a story that engulfed the viewer.
Since that installment, the franchise has struggled to capture that same element of success. “Days of Future Past” was decent, but lacked the punch I wanted, and “Apocalypse” could have given the audience much more in terms of action and story. With “Dark Phoenix” it’s all about Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) and while that is fun, I’ve seen this story before. We know Jean is the Phoenix and the powers within her are so powerful that no one can stop her. The only difference is we have a bit more of an explanation of her upbringing and we’re introduced to a semi-villain by the name of Vuk (Jessica Chastain) who wants Jean to embrace her power with no regret.
I don’t think this is a spoiler, but I won’t fully disclose it, but one of the “X-Men” doesn’t make it out the battle alive. That’s up to you to guess whom, but it shouldn’t be too difficult if you connect the dots, and you’ve seen any of the trailers or TV spots for the movie. I feel like the talent here is just wasted. Chastain is not the least bit entertaining in her role; James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender do the best with their characters Professor X and Magneto, with the script presented to them, and the rest of our heroes are just there.
We have Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Quicksilver (Evan Peters) and Beast (Nicholas Hoult) who are all present, but not doing too much. These characters have backstories too; we’d like to learn a bit more about them people. The fourth installment in the recently rebirthed “X-Men” franchise was written and directed by Simon Kinberg who has previously worked on entries on the franchise serving as a writer or producer.
However, I can’t help but wonder what if Matthew Vaughn, the guy who helmed “First Class” had the opportunity to tackle this flick, would it be better? That is something we will never know. I will admit there are some fun action sequences, but beyond that, there isn’t much to do cart wheels. It is even worse that the filmmakers are totting the flick as the end of a saga, and when you look at what “Avengers: Endgame” just accomplished this doesn’t come an inch of an iota to comparison.
Nothing feels final about this; if anything you’re grasping and begging for more. You want to feel you not only got your money’s worth, but you got a movie that went out with a bang and delivered as much drama and excitement as possible. “Dark Phoenix” manages to do none of that and it’s an utter shame for a franchise that has a ton of story left to tell.