Dark Phoenix (2019)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 6/8/19
Music: Hans Zimmer
Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Jessica Chastain

More like "The Fall Of Charles Xavier." When an American spacecraft is crippled by a strange cosmic force, the X-Men are sent to rescue the astronauts. While it's definitely a good and noble deed, Xavier (James McAvoy) sees it as more of a publicity stunt and a show of good will in an attempt to win over public opinion of him and mutantkind. Unfortunately, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) is attacked by the entity and absorbs its incredible power. As a result, she becomes the most powerful mutant in the galaxy, but she can't control herself and ends up hurting those around her. She leaves the X-Men out of confusion and fear, but eventually falls victim to her inner rage. Xavier and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) team up to stop her, while an alien task force led by Jessica Chastain seeks to reclaim Jean's cosmic power so that they can subjugate Earth. Jean eventually prevails and saves Earth at the cost of her own life, while Xavier retires from his school to live in shame.

Not being familiar with the original story, I can't say how good or bad this adaptation is. My biggest frustration was trying to figure out when and where it fits in with all of the other X-Men movies, which I can't reconcile in my head. It's better to just treat this as a stand-alone adventure and not try to bother with continuity of any kind. Since it was touted as "the final X-Men movie," I was a bit disappointed with its lack of finality. Nearly everyone lives, which is a dramatic letdown and not at all what I was expecting. The performances are good and solid across the board, although some of the dialog is clunky and difficult to swallow. Sophie Turner does a good job embodying Jean's pain and suffering, but unfortunately her performance is the weakest of the bunch. Jessica Chastain's white-haired villain borders on absurdity with her dominatrix sensibilities, and her highly impractical shoes are a constant distraction. Additionally, both Turner and Chastain suffer from regrettable makeup, which made me wince throughout.

Production-wise, it's a good looking spectacle film, and the visual effects look fantastic. I even saw John Dykstra's name in the credits as a consultant, which was a nice blast from the past. Similarly, martial arts veteran Richard Norton is listed as fight coordinator. The action is enjoyable, and it's fun to watch Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), and Storm (Alexandra Shipp) tearing things up. Magneto also gets in some impressively powerful moves. Hans Zimmer's music score is wonderful, and may actually be the best part of the movie. It's all gloom and doom, and creates a tense and heavy atmosphere that never lets up. The pacing fumbles a bit, and while the film starts out strong, the second half fizzles out and becomes a bit tedious. Also, the attitudes and behaviors of the characters are constantly changing, which turns the story into an inconsistent and incoherent mess. But if you can stay focused on the action and ignore the drama, it can still be a fun ride. The film also has an unsatisfying ending, but the epilogue between Xavier and Magneto is quite touching. It feels like the franchise has run its course, but now that Disney owns the property, it will be interesting to see what they decide to do with it.