X-Men: Dark Phoenix
Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Sophie Turner
Director: Simon Kinberg
After writing many successful X-Men films, Simon Kinberg has been put behind the megaphone, and boy, has he delivered? In true X-Men style, with huge fireballs and totally engrossing whirlwinds.
It’s a newly created space within the same X-Men universe where Charles Xavier or Professor X (James McAvoy) is trying to not fight the US government at the cost of mutants being alienated and seen as different. Dark Phoenix’s problems begin right here because Patrick Stewart’s towering presence is hard to forget. But what tremendously works in the new film’s favour is its director’s understanding of the milieu. Don’t be surprised if you feel like not missing certain characters entrenched in the X-Men universe.
Like many Batman films, it simply changes the characters and gives them slightly tweaked trajectories. There you meet Jean Grey as a horrified kid longing for love and family, but it was a story the fans always deserved to know in entirety. They have been served with delicate twists and pure humility.
Sophie Turner, young Grey, gives us a sneak peek into her mind and her ever raging anger, but she is more human this time, like she cares about the responsibilities that come with superpowers or wouldn’t want to lose people close to her without giving them a chance. You know, things that mutants normally don’t do, or do they? In any case, it’s a good shift.
Before I am misunderstood, let me make it very clear that she is not the real reason why Dark Phoenix works for me. It’s the special effects that give Turner a chance to come out of her Game of Thrones mode and display a variety of emotions. McAvoy struggles while trying to fill into Stewart’s large shoes. His arc is mostly monotonous and certainly not justifiable for his kind of talent. The same is true for Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) and Erik (Michael Fassbender). This is just a new beginning though. Let’s give them the benefit of doubt.
This one also suffers from the issues of most origin films like how deep one should go inside a character’s history to justify what they might be doing in the future, and in this case, in the past. Dark Phoenix fails miserably on this front as there are hardly any impressive moments from Grey’s past life that we couldn’t have predicted.
They supplement such a drab storyline with exhilarating action scenes and fluid transitions. It holds the audience’s attention despite repetitive sequences and very over the top shape shifting aliens. What would Jessica Chastain do in such a scenario!
On second thoughts, this might not be the best VFX you have seen in a while but it blends perfectly well with the tonality of Dark Phoenix. There is a lot to cheer for in X-Men: Dark Phoenix but give it a chance with an open mind.
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