X-Men: Dark Phoenix
Director: Simon Kinberg
Producers: 20th Century Fox, Bad Hat Harry productions, Marvel Entertainment, TSG Entertainment, The Donners’ Company
Cast: Sophie Turner, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Evan Peters, Michael Fassbender, Jessica Chastain, Nicholas Hoult, Alexandra Shipp, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee
Simon Kinberg’s X-Men: Dark Phoenix is based on X-Men comic #129 I’ve been told. Not an ardent comic-lover, the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) however holds an unparalleled appeal. While the films have been known to often take many narrative liberties with the comic storyline, they are totally enjoyable independently too. So like most fans, the latest installment in the X-Men series was being much-looked forward to, irrespective of whether the comics have been read or not! Having said that and with fans still reeling in the shadows of the last MCU release Avengers: Endgame, does X-Men: Dark Phoenix help fill that void left behind by the last of the Avengers installment and offer some solace? Read on to find out…
What X-Men: Dark Phoenix is all about: It’s 1992, and Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is ready to go to any length to maintain the peace brokered between the mutants and the humans, even if that means putting a mutant life at risk to save a human one! So, when a team of astronauts needs to be rescued from space, the X-Men are sent on a mission to save them. In the bargain, Jean Grey aka Phoenix (Sophie Turner) risks her life and ends up absorbing the impact of some kind of cosmic solar flare that was threatening to destroy the entire spaceship. However, much to everyone’s surprise, what should’ve killed her, only ends up making her stronger, enhancing all her powers far beyond her control. And there starts the problem!
The mysterious cosmic force has somehow weakened her emotional defenses that Charles had altered and set up to keep her away from the pain of losing her parents as a kid. But a confused Jean is out to seek the truth, and unable to harness her powers, she ends up causing immense damage, including killing an important X-Men member… Yes, that’s right. But we are not telling who it is?
Anyway so that accidental killing triggers a series of untoward events. So, while an alien race led by Vuk (Jessica Chastain) seeks to lure Jean to the dark side with the plans of using her mega-powers to wipe out mankind and further their own kind, the lost-in-her-power mutant also has Eric Lehnsherr aka Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and Hank McCoy aka Beast (Nicholas Hoult) baying for her blood. Meanwhile, Charles and the X-Men team including Scott Summers aka Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) are trying to bring back Phoenix from the dark side and set the wrongs right.
Yay: Sophie Turner manages to bring in a deep intensity to her character and topped with bearings of trauma and confusion, the Game of Throne actress aces her part. Sophie’s Phoenix and her struggle with power as she turns to the Dark keep you engaged emotionally. Jessica Chastain as Vuk conveys a cold menacing evil that make her a formidable enemy and you watch in anticipation each time she comes on screen.
The rest of the cast including Jennifer Lawrence as Raven aka Mystique, and Alexandra Shipp as Ororo Munroe aka Storm were really impressive. Raven pointing out to Charles that the X-Men should be renamed X-Women gets a whistle. We do wish there was more of the charming Evan Peters as Quicksilver though! Michael Fassbender easily proves that he owns the role of Magneto once again. There’s an amazing carry-forward quality to his equation with Charles that we love.
The film is fast-paced and the action sequences are an absolute delight for the fans, especially the ones involving the Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee). The film scores full points there as you get a good fill of the X-Men action that we’d wanted! The film keeps you on the edge-of-the-seat, slackening in very few spots. The CGI is top-notch and the dialogues and narrative is entertaining enough.
Nay: The heavy and often uncalled for emotional graph is not satiating enough for the character to get a film really and we wish there was more backstory to the alien race than just the amazing fights. The film seemed easy-breezy almost as if simplified for the benefit of the theatre-going audience! A mistake undermining the MCU fan’s grasp for complex layers of characters there. Also somehow X-Men can never really be complete without Wolverine even for an itsy-bitsy cameo and a show of hands can prove that!
CineBlitz Verdict: While not the best in the X-Men series, it does score in the top five we’d say. The film is not to be missed by the X-Men fans. Just don’t go in expecting a layer-rich complex story and you won’t be disappointed. Enjoy the action, which there’s lots of. There’s nothing new there, but it gets the adrenaline pumping and keeps you hooked! So go watch it!