Written and Directed by Simon Kinberg
Starring everybody and the cat
Running time: 1 hour, 53 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13
by Rosalie Kicks, Old Sport
"You're always sorry, Charles. And there's always a speech. But nobody cares!" - MagNEATO
Question: Why did the Magneto cross the road?
Dark Phoenix was everything that I expected it to be: a bloated, poorly written and executed story with some moments in SPACE. Fortunately, I have not watched any of the previous installments of these X-people flicks, but even without these experiences, I knew what I was in for. The goons of Hollywood have laid the groundwork. They have spent countless hours and money building this X-UNIVERSE to prepare me for this moment and deliver the anticipated pile.
My last time hangin’ with Charles and the gang was back in 2006, X-Men: The Last Stand. You know the one where Magneto is a leader of a bunch of goth mutants that want to take over the world, and there was that whole incident at the Statue of Liberty, where Rogue’s hair ends up white! Despite it being thirteen years since I watched this movie, there is still a scene that will occasionally pop into my head and instantly make my blood boil. When they made this thing, all the basics of movie making were thrown out the window and instead the Ed Wood school of filmmaking was embraced. Picture it! The X-people walking across a bridge, sun shining and then suddenly it is dark. One second it is day, the next it is night, who cares no one will notice. But oh wait! Remember kids, none of this happened anyways. As we learned in Logan, all of those previous mutant stories they shared with us, they were NOT REAL. It was just some baloney from comic books.
Sadly, Dark Phoenix does exist and even with what I feel were substantiated low expectations it still managed to shock me. I was not anticipating that literally every X-person would be staring out at me from the silver screen with painful eyes, wishing for their own demise. I also was not expecting to find Magneto, as an organic farmer on a tranquil island, living off grid. Who knew the guy was into gardening and read the Farmer’s Almanac?
Although the most stupefying aspect of this film was how the writer somehow managed to make the story about so many characters other than the Dark Phoenix herself, Jean Gray. The film may be entitled Dark Phoenix, but Jean Gray (Sophie Turner) is not the one driving this bus. It is the other characters, particularly, the X-MEN at the center of the plot. There are countless scenes, in which the writer chooses to show the emotions and reactions of the male characters rather than taking us inside Jean’s head.
When Jean learns that she has been lied to her entire life, we are not given the opportunity to see how this affects her, instead we are shown how this impacts Charles (James McAvoy), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), and Magneto. After she is blasted with some weird cosmic ray and her body is going through some life altering change - the story chooses to focus more on how it affects the rest of the group. The only scene that gives an insight into what she is thinking comes off as a cliche, with the character crying in a darkened alley during a thunderstorm.
One of the most frustrating scenes for me though, was when Jean encounters her father after spending most her childhood believing he was dead. This moment could have been so much more and instead is another missed opportunity. When the truth is revealed to Jean about her past, instead of it being her chance for redemption, it plays out in the loathsome father’s favor. It is a missed opportunity to learn about what the loss of family had on Jean.
This scene along with the countless poorly executed female empowerment quips made for a close to two hour long eye roll. Not even Jessica Chastain can save this thing. Frankly, I am not even sure what the purpose of her alien character was, other than to waste time and crash a dinner party. When the credits hit the screen, I could not help but think how envious the cast must of been of Jennifer Lawrence - she got out. This film is the definition of phoned-in acting and it was rather clear the cast wished they slept through their alarm.
I will admit though, I was left up at night wondering how they shot the scene in which a bunch of mutants crossed a busy city street, for the purpose of Magento to seek vengeance on Jean Gray for all the wrongs she did unto him. (Ugh!) This action sequence was extremely clunky and left me wondering whether they just shot it all in one take or possibly employed a “sophisticated” filmmaking method like, in-camera editing. The special effects were also something to behold, and extremely reminiscent of 1984 Ghostbusters.
On a more uplifting note, this flick would make for one heck of a drinking game. Each time they say CHARLES take a shot…a sure fire way to get blotto.
Answer: In hopes to get hit by a bus.