13 years after X-Men: The Last Stand, Simon Kinberg returns with the retelling of the Jean Grey story as he believes X3 did no justice to the Dark Pheonix arc. X-Men: Dark Phoenix thus brings our psychic mutant Jean in focus as she transforms into a formidable rogue figure that endangers the whole planet. Kinberg, who has been a writer and producer on previous X-Men movies, makes his directorial debut with Dark Phoenix, which he believes is a natural climax and culmination to years of story telling.
What's it about
Under the leadership of Charles Xavier, the mutantkind are on a life-threatening rescue mission to get the astronauts stuck in space, back home. In an unfortunate turn of events, Jean Grey is hit by a cosmic force that turns her into the rogue Dark Phoenix. As she grapples with the unhinged, unstable power within her, she is also faced with her inner demons that toss her out of control. As a consequence, Jean Grey, now one of the most formidable mutants on Earth, is a threat to the entire planet that the rest of the mutantkind have to destroy.
Dark Phoenix is hands-down the most intense and most emotional X-Men movie in all 20 years of the franchise. As Jean Grey's telekinetic power magnifies after the cosmic flare, she discovers some bitter truths about her formative years. Sophie Turner beautifully transitions between Jean Grey and her alter ego - the Dark Phoenix. The actress deep dived into facets of mental illness, addiction, and behaviours that would manifest the conflict that her character in the film must be facing. And it shows in the gravitas that she exhibits on screen as Jean struggles to seek answers to difficult questions pertaining to her past, something that Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) kept from her all these years. Being a female-centric movie, Dark Phoenix is a welcome change in a franchise ever so populated by men.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix trailer
Be prepared for a sense of deja vu as Dark Phoenix draws quite a few moments from X-Men: The Last Stand. Super-villain turned anti-hero Magneto (Michael Fassbender) once again becomes the opponent of Charles Xavier. The promo of the film already spoilt Mystique's (Jennifer Lawrence) death at the hands of Jean Grey. Imagine the shock value the sequence would have had if not for the promo! The shape-shifting alien (Jessica Chastain) and her entourage do nothing more than levitate as they fight the mutantkind protecting Jean Grey. Fans of the franchise will definitely miss the visual spectacle that X-Men movies are known for, due to lack of the cosmic scale, thanks to the Earth bound train climax. Perhaps Simon Kinberg's retelling of the Dark Phoenix story needed some freshness with new writers.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix may be an underwhelming end to 20 years of the franchise, but watch it neverthess for the emotions and the brilliant message it conveys about humankind.
3.0 out of 5
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