Fox takes Another Crack at Chris Claremont’s Beloved Storyline with Underwhelming Results

After being plagued by reshoots and release delays the last chapter of Fox’s X-Men franchise “Dark Phoenix” is out and while it may not be as bad as it’s rating on Rotten Tomatoes and in my opinion not the worst installment in the franchise, that doesn’t make it good. Set in the 90’s the movie does nothing to showcase that decade except for the launch of the space shuttle Endeavor at the beginning. Ignoring the colorful costumes of the beloved X-Men animated series and their film adaptations in the last scene of X-Men Apocalypse, the X-Men are wearing matching uniforms, again. Surely they knew this was potentially the series swan song and could have pulled out all the stops instead the film is as bland and boring as their matching uniforms.

X-Men has always been about the unique personalities of its characters but in this movie none of the characters stand out beyond the scope of their powers. The new team (Nightcrawler, Storm, and Quicksilver in particular) only serve to showcase said powers; and anyone of them could have been easily swapped out for another X-Men. This movie would have been a great opportunity to have Cyclops grow into his role as captain of the team, but instead they rely too heavily on the performances of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender.  In a cool scene in Central Park Magneto says “You’re always sorry Charles, and there’s always a speech and nobody cares” feels like Fassbender’s sentiment to being in another X-Men movie and worst off it’s the feeling the audience gets for the franchise. Luckily Cyclops responds by dropping the “F” bomb and while its unexpectedly badass it would have meant more if he had stepped up prior to this.

There were some interesting elements to the film such as Xavier’s questionable decision making and Mystique calling him out for being more interested in the team’s image than the safety of his students. If you were looking forward to seeing a scene showcasing Quicksilvers speed to the tune of Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit” than you’re in for a disappointment. He’s completely underutilized and if they had killed him off instead of Mystique that would have been a great way to reveal to Magneto that he was his son (which never gets addressed) and still would have given Magneto the proper motivation to exact revenge on Jean Grey. The only good thing that came out of Mystique’s predictable demise was a great performance between Nicholas Hoult and James McAvoy. The Phoenix force itself is nothing more than a plot device with no motivation or personality of its own. Jessica Chastain’s underdeveloped antagonist Vuck wants to absorb the power of the Phoenix but doesn’t seem to have an actual plan on how to accomplish this feat. Equally as questionable is Magneto’s logic; despite seeing how much more powerful the Phoenix is than him he intends to kill her, and it comes to no surprise to anyone (except him) when he fails miserably. Afterwards Magneto has a cool showcase of his powers in the train climax but after that the ending is predictable. All in all “Dark Phoenix” tells a better story than its predecessor “X-Men The Last Stand” but doesn’t have the benefit of Hugh Jackman to carry the story. While there are some enjoyable scenes and some great performances most of the characters are only their to show off their abilities. Fox should have embraced what made the X-Men so popular in the 90’s instead of glossing over it. For my review of Dark Phoenix I give it a 6/10 , read Chris Claremont’s Dark Phoenix saga instead and stop after X-Men Days of Future past when it comes to the movies.

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Anthony Zangrillo is the President and Owner of the Motion Picture Club. While an undergraduate student at NYU, he founded the Motion Picture Club. At the Fordham University School of Law, he was the Online Editor of the Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal and started the IPLJ Podcast, which continues recording to this day. You can find him on Instagram: @anthony_mpc.


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