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FILM REVIEW: X-Men: Dark Phoenix - a hell of a shame


By Spalding Today Columnist


SHOWCASE CINEMA DE LUX PETERBOROUGH, OUT NOW

CAST: JAMES McAVOY, MICHAEL FASSBENDER, JENNIFER LAWRENCE, SOPHIE TURNER, NICHOLAS HOULT, TYE SHERIDAN, KODI SMIT-McPHEE, EVAN PETERS, ALEXANDRA SHIPP, SCOTT SHEPHERD, ANDREW STEHLIN, KOTA EBERHARDT & JESSICA CHASTAIN

RUNNING TIME: 1 HR 53 MINS

DIRECTOR: SIMON KINBERG

It’s tragic to see Twentieth Century Fox’s iteration of the X-Men go out with such a whimper – before the franchise ends up in the hands of Disney’s Marvel Studios.

After the highly-acclaimed First Class and Days of Future Past, the franchise went sliding off the rails with Apocalypse – and this final part of the quadrilogy isn’t much better.

In fact it’s the second time they’ve ventured into turning the legendary Dark Phoenix saga onto the big-screen – after 2006’s Last Stand.

Toss a coin to see which ended worse – as there’s not much in it.

X-Men Dark Phoenix. (12222875)
X-Men Dark Phoenix. (12222875)

But it does have the dullest villain ever seen in a superhero movie with Jessica Chastain’s (Oscar nominee for Zero Dark Thirty) alien shape-shifter Vuk.

Everybody simply seems like they’re going through the motions as this was plagued with production problems and rewrites throughout.

The much-loved X-Men comic-book premise actually has oodles of promise, as Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey develops incredible powers – that ultimately corrupt her and give her evil intentions – after a space accident goes wrong, when the team go into the stratosphere to save a group of astronauts.

Jennifer Lawrence’s Raven/Mystique questions the intentions of James McAvoy’s Professor X, as the team continues to take on death-defying missions – seemingly to gain favour for the much-maligned mutants.

But when it becomes clear that Jean’s contact with this ancient power has made her the most powerful force on the planet, Prof X, Raven, and the rest of the team – including Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Quicksilver (Evan Peters) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) – has to decide whether the life of a team member comes before saving the world.

Even if that means enlisting the help of the nomadic Magneto (Michael Fassbender) when Jean gets seduced by Vuk, and her invading alien army, who want to harness the power inside her – as she slowly evolves into Dark Phoenix.

But sadly – bar one early ‘shock’ moment and a decent final battle (Nightcrawler going crazy is pretty cool) – it all ends up a bit tepid.

Thank God the final thirty minutes was re-tooled – as apparently it was too close to Captain America: Civil War – as this could have been a complete disaster.

It’s definitely not the worst superhero movie you’ll ever see – it’s not Fantastic Four bad – but just trundles from one ‘seen it all before’ scene to the next.

Like the cast were just waiting to get this over with – and cash their paychecks.

Let’s just hope the X-Men rise like a phoenix from the flames once again in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – because sadly Fox’s legacy of the famous ensemble has been tarnished by the last two movies.

Which is a hell of a shame.

Rating: 2.5/5

By Gavin Miller



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