For many, X-Men: Dark Phoenix was doomed to fail. The production was messy, the trailer looked shoddy and faith in the X-Men series has been shaky since the critical hammering that X-Men: Apocalypse received. The review embargo lifted this morning on the day of release giving way for speculation that the teams behind the production had little faith in the film, and here at Heroes Direct, we’re sorry to report that they definitely had reason to. Dark Phoenix is a disappointing end to the franchise that falls apart in most places- a boring and low-quality mess to leave a bad taste in the mouths of most fans of the long-running series.
“THE FILM IS HERALDED AS THE FINALE OF A SAGA OF FILMS THAT FLAUNT MARVEL’S FAVOURITE DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY, AND THEY TRULY DON’T FEEL LIKE ONE”
Before we dive into the issues, this film isn’t totally free of merit- some of the CGI visuals are impressive for the product, and both James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender really fight for their characters to have a great ending. But their heartfelt performances are muffled by the lazy script they were given. The dialogue is painfully unnatural and cuts through the immersion the film tries to develop at every turn. The characters are victims of the script, and they all totally fail to convey the rage, heartbreak and determination that Dark Phoenix tries to convince you of. The film is heralded as the finale of a saga of films that flaunt Marvel’s favourite dysfunctional family, and they truly don’t feel like one. The characters suffer division through the plot, but it’s so difficult to care when the moments of them acting as a family are so short and with little focus in favour of giving Jean Grey the screentime she needed, seeing as she slightly faded into the background in previous X-Men instalments.
The action set-pieces feel disappointing and there is a serious problem with their lack of impact. Quicksilver, in particular, has no chance to shine in the way he does during the Pentagon scene in Days of Future Past. All of the moments in preparation for punch-ups are underdeveloped and give the action little reason to exist beside something to entertain the fans, especially in moments where Jean goes on something of a soul-searching road trip. The tone throughout the film reflects this with a bland and boring attitude- the conflicts are under-written (as is everything else) and even Jean flexing her abilities with Magneto is dull. The cinematography and lighting through the film show no creative merit and the film has no visual flair whatsoever, which reflects the boring and sluggish nature of a huge portion of the film. Character motivations are laughably barebones, and while some of the elements of the climax push the barriers of boredom slightly, none of it makes any sense comparatively with the rest of the clunky plot, and it all feels marvellously undeserved, just as the bland antagonists of the story do.
Dark Phoenix is one of the most important comic book runs for the X-Men, and to see it butchered by this film is disappointing to say the least. No character receives their due diligence, and this finale is underwhelming for all involved. Charles Xavier’s band of misfits don’t get the sendoff they truly deserve, and Dark Phoenix stands as one of the worst of the X-Men instalments yet. Who knows where the mutants will go from here following their merger with Disney, but let’s hope they go to better places than this film took them.