In 2000, Bryan Singer’s X-Men was released and it completely changed the game of comic book movies. This was the first movie to have a blockbuster budget and pay off in the box-office. It would be eight years until Jon Favreau’s ‘Iron Man’ came along and Simon Kinberg’s ‘Dark Phoenix’ has recently hit the theatres and it was brutally bad. It is so sad that the X-Men are closing this chapter of their existence with such a devastatingly terrible film.
For those who have been following this series know that this was not a surprise. It was expected. It has plain performances, bad narrative choices, slow storytelling and it is generally incompetent. Even fans will have a problem swallowing this. The story starts with the well-known mutants and Professor Charles Xavier, who is sending them to increasingly harder and more dangerous missions. By the way, they do not even show these missions, just an explanation of them.
The latest mission is in outer space, right after the Space Shuttle Endeavour mission which spins out of control when NASA says it has encountered a solar flare. Mystique, Beast, Quicksilver, Storm, Cyclops and Jean Grey all go out and save the lives of the astronauts. Jean is then left behind and absorbs the anomaly that sent the space shuttle down.
It is revealed that Jean is not dead but actually feeling better than before. Then we get into the part where her power is shown as being ‘off the charts’. She does not appear to have a good grip on her powers and starts being…dangerous. Professor X tries to help her and a secret, which had been buried for a long time, is revealed. This makes Jean homicidal and she rampages against the mutants. This divides them, as I always does, into a group of those who want to see her dead and those who want to save her.
If you thought that she was going to be a challenge they would die trying to take down, you are wrong about that. Jean and her group of ET friends are just basic villains who the heroes manage to overwhelm with numbers in the third act. Chastain is given nothing to do and it leaves you with an empty feeling.
None of the original cast we have been accustomed to is giving the performance we expect. James McAvoy is the only standout here as he plays a Professor X we are not used to; one with a slight drinking problem and a weakness caused by ego. Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence seem to be waiting for the whole thing to end. Quicksilver, who has the charm that brings some life to the franchise, gets sidelined a few minutes into the second act.
Simon Kinberg’s script seems to be hinging the conflict by borrowing from what he wrote for ‘The Last Stand’, by pitting the professor against Jean. Given the lie, you would expect this conflict to feel more dramatic and stringer but it doesn’t really do much. The murder Jean carried out was nothing more than an accident. The stakes do not go up and the movie trudges its way to the end without evoking emotion.