The X-Men franchise is at it again with their tenth and final film of the series deeming to flop once more. 2016’s X-Men Apocalypse didn’t do well enough in the eyes of critics and moviegoers. And here comes Dark Phoenix hoping to shadow the negative response of their previous films. Well, it shows. Dark Phoenix is better than X-Men Apocalypse, and even better than 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand. Not to mention, better than Captain Marvel, while sharing no specific plot details, but to the point where they have to reshoot Dark Phoenix’s climax scenes to avoid looking like a complete rip-off. Although better in some ways, it’s not a good movie. It’s one of those boring movies that is completely uninspired.
The movie starts in 1975 where young Jean Grey (Summer Fontana) unexpectedly discovered that she had powers and caused a car accident which led her to be an orphan. Years later, 25-yeard old Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) has received her much-needed attention and care in the hands of Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and became part of the X-Men.
What’s really interesting is that Jean Grey was more fleshed out and develop in her own solo film. Compared to the past X-Men movies (or even in animations) where she was portrayed as this weak damsel in distress with uncontrollable powers. So kudos to the story writing department for giving her a much more interesting and stronger story arc that makes her a likable character for once.
The problem lies where X-Men screenwriter Simon Kinberg spent too much time relying on character development across the entire X-Men movies. This worked well with Logan, which has been the most successful comic-based movie to date. But this Jean Grey we have in Dark Phoenix is only seen once before, in X-Men Apocalypse. Which only has a small share of screen time in a rather forgettable movie. Thankfully, because of Dark Phoenix, we now have the chance to see “this” Jean Grey once again and how her origin story turned out to be.
This whole character study thing runs smack into the film’s mandate to be a popcorn movie, something it does indifferently for most of its long running time of about 113 minutes (which is okay by comic book movie standards). Kinberg is not any more than a proficient director, either of his cast or of his camera; cinematography Mauro Fiore oversees things to an utterly shocking degree. Between the two of them, they manage to make this horrible expensive film look somewhat unimaginative and uninspired, mistaking glossiness in the form of style.
The only scene where the film was worthy of being called a “popcorn film” is in the climax where the mutants are fighting of hordes of aliens, all in the form of a train fight scene in a montage way. This has been the staple of X-Men films where each mutant was showing off their powers in a sequence of set pieces just like in X-Men 2 back then. This is where the Dark Phoenix has done it right. Eye-candy fight scenes with an ample amount of epilogue scenes that finishes the movie with quality material. And the rest was garbage.