- Some interesting scenes
- This is the last part of the saga.
We don’t like
- Long footage of Jean Grey that tells us nothing…
- A predictable and tasteless scenario
- Too many under-exploited characters
- Fights that go off in all directions and badly fought.
Without being a particularly bad movie, X-Men Dark Phoenix is just insipid. The feature film offers many sequences that linger on the character Jean Grey, but only touch him. As for the combat phases, they are too messy to be really relevant and memorable. The film finally concludes the X-Men saga without any twists and turns, in the flattest way possible. A film to see when you have nothing else to do and to say one last goodbye to the team of mutants who have made us dream so much over the last 20 years. It is now hoped that Marvel Studios will be better able to exploit the licence. See you soon, X-Men, see you in a few years “through the looking glass”.
The X-Men are in a bad way: when one of them goes on a mission in space, one of them is invested with a cosmic power. Jean Grey acquires even more impressive super-powers than those she already had. But at the same time, the young X-Woman’s mind capsizes, forcing her to commit the irreparable. Whose side will Jean Grey turn to then? How will his teammates and his lover, aka Cyclops, react? Why has this cosmic force set its sights on the mutant and what do these strange aliens who can take the appearance of any human being want?
It’s been almost 20 years since the X-Men invaded the darkened theatres and resurrected the superheroic genre, which had been totally abandoned by the general public and the majors at the end of the 90s. Let’s face it: if Marvel is such a successful company today, it’s mainly because Bryan Singer’s first X-Men and Sam Raimi’s various Spider-Men have been box-office hits. The film adaptations saved the comic book publisher from the financial slump into which it had become mired.
In short, Marvel owes it all to Fox and Sony. But one page is about to turn: With Disney having acquired Fox, Mickey’s company has regained the adaptation rights to many of his most emblematic characters such as the X-Men, Deadpool, the Fantastic Four, etc. With production of X-Men Dark Phoenix having begun long before the takeover, the film continued its journey to release under the Fox flag. But it’ll be the last one like this.
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This film is therefore the last one produced and directed by Fox “without Disney”. Well, almost… Because next year should also see the release of New Mutants, which also takes place in the X-Men universe. If the film has been ready for 2 years, some scenes should be reshooted this year and a new character should be introduced. This would change a good part of the film and leave it up to Disney to take over the universe created by Fox… On the condition that the film is released one day, since its theatrical programming has been constantly postponed.
Well, but then, what’s this last part of the mutant saga started 19 years ago? Are we falling for Dark Phoenix, Fox’s last X-Men movie or not?
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The least we can say is that director Simon Kinberg loves special effects and offers us value for money. And it’s off to a pretty good start, because one of the very first scenes, the one where Jean Grey gets his new powers, is really bluffing. The mutants fly off into space and each X-Men does its job perfectly. Shortly afterwards, the Phoenix force seized Jean Grey and this beautiful sequence will be remembered for a long time. Other scenes are of the same kind, but we won’t tell you more so as not to spoil the film. Unfortunately, there are too few of them to really raise the level, as we will see later on. Besides, you don’t make a good film with only special effects and a good photograph, do you?
If the synopsis reminds you strangely of something, it’s perfectly normal. Dark Phoenix is the adaptation of a series of comics published in 1980 and imagined by two sacred monsters of comics: Chris Claremont and John Byrne. But let’s not forget that the saga has already been brought to the big screen in X-Men The Final Confrontation. This one is probably one of the worst movies of the license, with X-Men Origins Wolverine, it goes without saying.
The story of Dark Phoenix thus partly takes up the story of The Final Encounter, by modifying several elements (Cyclops doesn’t die in the first minutes of the film, Wolverine won’t come to kill her since he’s not present in the film…).
The result is finally without much flavour and still distils a good big smell of déjà vu. The most embarrassing part of the film is that it departs from its model, the 1980 comic book series, and that it completely loses the various messages instilled by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. The film is much more intimate and focuses on the character of Jean Grey, but never looks at the introspective side. As a result, you quickly get lost in a melodrama whose ins and outs are not really understood. It’s finally long and boring and we almost regret The Final Encounter (we did say “almost”).
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What then about the performance of the other actors? Wanting to focus too much on the character of Jean Grey, without getting to the heart of the matter, the director finally missed all the charm of an X-Men film: showing us much more than a team, but a family, with its good times and its clashes. He barely reminds us a few seconds before the end. As a result, almost all the other characters, except Jean Grey, are obscured. Diablo, Tornado and the Fauve are extras, and even Magneto and Professor Xavier are left on the sidelines most of the time. As for Cyclops, who should play an important role when we know his relationship with Jean Grey, it is simply non-existent.
Two new mutants are nevertheless introduced to us. One of them has super strong hair (a distant cousin of Medusa?). The other, a woman, is capable of mind control and is endowed with agility and super strength. But nothing is revealed to us about their past, about their motivations, and their fights are worthy of a B movie on a Sunday evening in the 3rd part of the evening. Finally, when we see Dazzler, who knows how to transform sound into light, we start hoping that the young mutant will play a small role in the feature film. Bad luck, we won’t see her at all. But why introduce him into the superheroic Fox universe if you’re going to get him out of it so quickly?
Fox has often liked to take risks with its superhero movies. Sometimes successfully (X-Men 1 & 2, First Class, Days of Future Past, Deadpool…), sometimes by committing good big nanars (The Fantastic 4, the one released in 2015). But if there’s one thing you can’t blame Fox for, it’s trying to take comic book history and turn it into something new and more personal. The majore knows how to revisit the origins of the characters and their future, or simply to propose something new to an audience that is nevertheless familiar with the theme. Deadpool is a perfect illustration of this.
Here, risk-taking is almost non-existent. Director Simon Kinberg brings out the same script strings and characters that we discovered in the 3 previous parts. Nothing else.
Of course, of the original team, the one we knew in the 2000s, not a single actor remains. But the “younger” generation was doing quite well. The performance of actors such as Michael Fassbender (Magneto), James McAvoy (Professor Xavier) or Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique) reinforced our belief that the next generation of actors was assured.
But then again, all good things come to an end and there’s almost no chance that we’ll find this casting in one of the next X-Men films, following Disney’s takeover of Fox. Although we would have liked the farewells to have taken place under different circumstances, it was finally time to put an end to the X-Men adventures, which tended to get bogged down anyway, as shown in the average X-Men Apocalypse. Goodbye X-Men, and we hope to see you in better shape at Marvel Studios.