Yes, ‘Dark Phoenix’ Really Is That Bad

Jean Gray is going bad… again! That’s right, kids, they’re attempting, yet again, to do the Dark Phoenix storyline in a movie, a storyline that is, quite frankly, too big and too complex to be handled in a two-hour movie, much less a two hour movie produced by a studio that seems bored with X-Men movies.

Dark Phoenix, reputed to be the last of the 20th Century Fox X-Men movies until or if The New Mutants is ever released into theaters or Hulu or wherever, is such an anticlimactic non-event that it’s almost fascinating. With a final film, you’re supposed to go for broke and permanently upset the apple cart, with Dark Phoenix, it’s like the makers of this movie wanted to do that, but at the same time, wanted to play it safe and conservatively. This movie stinks of something assembled by committee and then reshaped by test audiences.

Dark Phoenix runs its hands over the flames, but that’s it… it never burns like it wants to. I mean, sure — and this isn’t a spoiler because it’s in all of the trailers and previews — they kill of Mystique, but given Jennifer Lawrence’ increasingly bored expressions and even more bored performances in every single subsequent movie, this was a given sooner or later.

This movie takes itself way to seriously, tries to set up character conflicts that are so blunt and transparent and artificially manufactured that they appear on the plot like polyps and you’re just waiting for them to get over with.

It’s a mess… just a mess. Characters are out of character, the dialogue is flat and lifeless, and the direction is dull and plodding, looking more like something you would see on a two-camera drama than a major motion picture. There aren’t even any signature action pieces — say what you will about X-Men Apocalypse, the Quicksilver mansion evacuation was pretty memorable. Come to think of it, the lack of Quicksilver in this movie made it incredibly obvious that they were never sure what to with this entertaining character and so, they took the entertaining character out of the mix early because, after all, we can’t have an entertaining character in this movie, can we?

Okay, there is one very quick and neat action sequence with Nightcrawler, but but it’s a sequence born of him going loco and going from being the terrified meek team member to being a full blown psycho murderer. Even this scene, though, is highly derivative of the master-class Nightcrawler action scene in X2.

Nightcrawler, however, still fairs better than Professor Xavier who transforms relentlessly and suddenly into a tyrant, ready to sacrifice his own team members from the comfort of his own easy chair. He should change his name from Professor X to Professor A-Hole.

If I have anything nice to say, is that it was neat to see the X-Men acting like a team at the very beginning of the movie. Yes, it’s bad, but at least it’s not bad as X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

I know that’s not much, but I’m really struggling to come up with positives here.

Dark Phoenix looks and feels like a franchise that has had all the capability and freshness sucked out of it by committee. It’s a story too big and too complex to be told in one movie… it should be a trilogy or even part of a cinematic universe. Now, however, I don’t think that anyone will ever attempt to bring this story to the big screen again which is a shame because it’s a good story… it really is and could have been a good series.

Instead, this finale is so stupifyingly dull that it makes me wish that Logan would have been the ending of the 20th Century X-Men movies. Come to think of it, I think I’m just going to go into denial once I’m done writing this review and just say that Logan was the finale.

You know what? The Phoenix should have destroyed the universe at the end. Why not? Just destroy the whole universe and end the movie with an after credits scene showing Deadpool floating in a black void, cursing and grumbling about how “This is all Jackman’s fault!”

It might not have made the movie better, but it would at least have been memorable.

Let’s give 20th Century Fox some credit, though. This is probably the first time that a Jean Gray has been killed off and will likely stay dead.

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