The X-Men storyline is on its last legs. From the original “X-Men” film in 2000 to the incarnations of Wolverine, the franchise can no longer keep up with itself.
After months of delays, “Dark Phoenix,” in theaters Friday, is the story of Jean Grey, which originally starred Famke Janssen in the early 2000s. In 2019, this version is Sophie Turner (from “Game of Thrones” fame) as Jean Grey, also known as, Dark Phoenix. Of course Hollywood always wants to appeal to the “younger” demographic and all of the characters in the recent installments are in their youth. However, younger isn’t always better, especially if you cannot stay true to the storyline.
After an outer space assignment goes wrong, Jean’s powers go into overdrive and she has no control. She is essentially at war with herself and the other X-Men must save the day. While the action is solid and the acting is strong for the script they had to work with, the film is wildly predictable and one of the worst in the franchise. Directed by Simon Kinberg, the film is missing soul.
There is a woman’s empowerment angle that is intriguing but never fully developed. The villain is played by Jessica Chastain who is some type of alien villain but her propose and existence is never fully explained. There are some interesting one-liners from Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, who is tired of women saving the day, but that is as far as the film goes. Their nod to women empowerment almost feels like a gimmick than sincerity.
Side note: Storm is once again minimized to a weak, supporting character. In the comic books, she is one of the strongest characters but a film version has yet to give her the love she deserves.
The most frustrating flaw of “Dark Phoenix “is that the film does not stay true to the storyline of the franchise. Characters die who are alive later in the earlier films — we already saw their future nearly 20 years ago. Does Kinberg think the world has forgotten the storyline of the “X-Men” when it was a blockbuster, quality franchise that we all anticipated?
The “X-Men” franchise may need to retire. The ideas have been sucked dry and just like Dark Phoenix, they are no longer able to control themselves. It’s a sloppy bore that doesn’t need a mind reader to know there is no more magic left.
On a positive note, the film is under two hours, a rarity for these over-bloated superhero films.
Watch the trailer below.