-Dark Phoenix's stated message - about how emotions make you strong and the dangers of repressing trauma - is totally at odds with Dark Phoenix's actual content, in which Jean Grey spends most of the movie in fear of losing control of her powers, then getting angry, losing control, and accidentally hurting the people she loves.
-Unbelievable but true: Jennifer Lawrence has now spent more than twice as long in the X-Men series as in The Hunger Games. I won't get into her character's specifics, but will say they're never fully explored. Dark Phoenix isn't weird, or interesting, nor does it save the franchise's reputation after the disastrous Apocalypse. The focus here is on Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) who was given a very small intro in the previous film, which itself is an odd decision to begin with considering her arc was already covered by The Last Stand, which Kinberg also wrote. Not only does it waste an excellent cast on a script that reduces all of its characters to basic constructs, it also puts them at the mercy of a first-time director who doesn't even know how to make them look cool.
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But attempts to salvage the film, written and directed by Simon Kinberg, appear to have failed. Still, Dark Phoenix is not as much trainwreck as it is a slow-moving auto collision that ends up screeching to a halt right before it scratches the bumper in front of it. "But while Dark Phoenix may have fewer embarrassing missteps than Ratner's 2006 disaster, it replaces that embarrassment with something that feels devoid of personality", he wrote. The same goes for her fellow mutants reaction to the change. The villains, led by a cold and clinical Jessica Chastain, are too forgetful to spur the film's momentum. Chastain, who's decked out like an albino for no reason whatsoever, is robotic in her performance.
But for Janssen, the question about the future of Jean Grey and her own future with the franchise is a little easier. Even more distractingly, each time we rejoin the characters ten years after their last adventure, their behaviors and motivations have shifted wildly. When she returns to Earth, her proxy father, professor Charles Xavier (McAvoy), is still convinced that he's doing the right thing, even as all signs point to disaster.
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Dark Phoenix hits theaters everywhere this Friday, June 7.
-Do you remember in X-Men: Apocalypse when Jean Grey turned into a big fiery bird during the fight with Apocalypse? Kinberg has a knack for crafting a dynamic battle scene that escalates in stakes but remains easy to follow. It unnecessarily draws comparisons to a failure that's meant to be forgotten.
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Sticking close to Jean, Kinberg anchors her fast-evolving rage in the realisation that Charles has tampered with her memories. The veterans of the franchise seem checked out, to say the least, with one conversation in which Mystique obliquely refers to her and Beast (Nicholas Hoult) as being the last survivors of "the first class" coming off as more tiresome than nostalgic. Dark Phoenix is a production of Marvel Entertainment, TSG Entertainment, and The Donners' Company, with distribution by 20th Century Fox. (Mark your calendars, in pencil, for April 3, 2020.) Some fans hope, with Fox being consumed by Disney, that the X-Men might hook up with the Avengers in a monster-sized superhero mash-up. Now, cursed with an unfathomable continuity, which has been regularly rebooted and often ignored, the franchise grinds to an end (well, nearly: There's still the long-delayed New Mutants arriving next year).