BY RICHARD SUPLEE GEEK SPACE CORRESPONDENT Dark Phoenix could be the last X-Men movie, in which case the franchise ends not with a bang but a whimper. The plot is a bit of a hot mess. Right away the X-Men jump into space to rescue some stranded astronauts and Jean Grey (Game of Throne’s Sophie Turner) is bombarded with a mysterious red energy known as the Phoenix Force that supercharges her powers. Predictably, she is also tempted to the dark side by the power. The rest of the film is just the X-Men trying to either save or kill Jean Grey after she accidentally murdered the X-Men leader Mystique (Jennifer Lawerence) and a few cops. And then some aliens (led by Jessica Chastain’s character Vuk) who have been tracking the Phoenix Force show up for a smackdown from the X-Men. And yes, it’s just as confusing onscreen as it is on paper.
Ultimately the film feels like a rush job. I can’t help but wonder if director Simon Kinberg tried to finish the film before Disney bought Fox Entertainment (which had licensed the X-Men characters from Marvel back before Marvel started making movies) and opted to reboot the franchise with new actors. It will be a shame if Disney recasts these actors the same way they recasted Spider-Man when he was added into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Each X-Man actor feels perfect for their role. And fans have been begging to see these characters on the big screen since Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the mutant team in 1963.
In fact, the acting is the strongest aspect of the film. Whenever Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Mystique, Jean Grey or any of the other X-Men are on screen delivering lines the movie comes alive. But the superb acting plays second fiddle to a subpar plot that just compounds the inevitable confusion of movie fans that may be unfamiliar with the comics. Dark Phoenix is not a bad movie per se, it’s just an underwhelming one. The breathless plot drags the audience from one special effects crammed fight scene to the next but the film doesn’t make you give a damn about the characters or the fight. It is hard to understand what the heroes and villains are fighting for.
DARK PHOENIX NOW PLAYING IN AREA THEATERS