I remember when I first watched X Men, I thought Hugh Jackman was a total hottie, Rogue was the lonely teen I could relate to, Jean Grey was this beautiful and strong woman and of course the dynamic duo Professor X and Magneto made the early 2000’s Marvel movies great fun to watch.
In 2006 we saw X Men: The Last Stand and it feels so long ago that we saw Jean Grey introduce Dark Phoenix as a concept to the X Men universe, and even though some were not huge fans of that film I did find it a very well rounded segment of the franchise.
Why am I mentioning the 2006 film, you might be asking? Well… if you have seen the early 2000’s X Men franchise then you will (hopefully) understand just why I despised The Dark Phoenix as much as I did.
Up until this point I have really loved the X Men reboot films. Can you even call them a reboot? More of a prequel series. We have seen James McAvoy take over the role of Professor X and Michael Fassbender as Magneto; both of which I believe do an amazing job as those roles and I have loved seeing them in X Men First Class and even X Men Apocalypse was a good watch. But with Dark Phoenix, I won’t lie… I feel a bit like the directors decided to kick X Men fans in the gut.
Sophie Turner plays Jean Grey and in Apocalypse we caught a very small glimpse of her power as the Dark Phoenix, and this has really excited me because OH MY GOD A REFERENCE TO THE X MEN THE LAST STAND and I thought we would finally understand where the whole dark phoenix came from. Sadly, it was not how I expected it.
First of all, Jean Grey as a child is already a powerful mutant but where did these evil voices come from? Where did this evil voice that tells her to do things originate? Professor X does some mind-alteration on her to shut out the fact she killed her mother and her father disowned her, and instead makes her believe both her parents died in the crash. Going so many years into the future where Jean is now a teenager and she has had her phoenix moment in Apocalypse and again, THERE IS NO REFERENCE OR MENTION OF WHERE THAT CAME FROM
So you mean to tell me that NONE of them were curious as to how she just started floating and bursting into flames? No one was wondering where this power came from? Alrighty then…
So back in Dark Phoenix everyone is super chill… and Professor X is letting the fame of the non-mutants accepting them get to his head by the way, totally not the characteristics of Professor X so this already made me question what the hell was going on. And to continue boosting his ego, Prof X sends the X Men up to space to save some spacemen who were on a mission. We find that it is not a normal energy surge that has caused the astronauts to be in danger but it is this cosmic energy that is almost blowing them all up. The X Men save them BUT Jean sucks in all of this energy which coincidentally is the same shade of red as her Phoenix power so OBVIOUSLY it’s going to kickstart some kind of power of the phoenix and saves everyone from being destroyed by this mysterious power source.
Back on Earth Jean then goes through a journey that basically outcasts her from the team because she can’t control this power that is charging the Phoenix power (yes, this is what I’m calling it because I have no idea what to call it otherwise) which, of course, scares everyone. They are kids for crying out loud. Of course everyone around her is going to be scared of her. But with this power surge, her telepathic/mind-reading powers are heightened and LO AND BEHOLD she hears her fathers voice! The same father who she believed died in the crash when she was a child. When she meets her father for the first time in years, you pray that he has a change of heart and accepts his little girl back. Sadly, he blames her for his wife’s death after all this time and just can’t get over the grief. Because of the Phoenix power getting stronger, Jean is unable to control her emotions and just before she has chance to do anything to her father the rest of the X Men turn up to try and bring her home.
Now this is where things go sour… after a hefty little fight and a tantrum from Jean later… Mystique is thrown back by Jean’s tantrum energy surge and is impaled by… a large piece of wood. SHE DIES. THEY KILLED MYSTIQUE.
And so begins my confusion as to where the director of this film was taking Dark Phoenix. Because… Mystique is very much alive in the earlier films… so… this can’t be prequels to the previously made X Men films?
IS ANYONE ELSE AS CONFUSED AND HURT AS ME?!
ok… I’m going to miss the rest of the plot here because by then I just gave up hope for the plot. On to the actors…
Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, in my opinion, is a good casting choice! I enjoy watching her as Jean because she actually is a good actress. Not even taking her performance as Sansa from Game of Thrones into consideration. I have had discussions with friends on Turners acting ability (within the X Men franchise) and they believe that she is focusing too much on the American accent that her acting gets lost along the way. Although she could do with trying to focus less on the accent, she plays the troubled girl with a troubled past very well, and you believe the moments where she is hurting, where she is happy, and where she is angry which is all the audience needs from her. But I do wish the scriptwriters gave her more depth. I wish they gave Jean Grey a deeper range for Sophie to play with. When she is feeling said above emotions, it’s like watching a bipolar person, one minute she is happy, the next she is angry, then back down to sad. So it would have been amazing to see a deeper character development from the scriptwriters.
Jennifer Lawrence as Raven (or in my eyes, Mystique) is always a pleasure to watch, although as the films have gone by you see less of the villainous Mystique that older X Men fans knew and more of the caring side. Don’t get me wrong, Lawrence plays the caring type well, but it doesn’t feel like Mystique who I knew growing up. Maybe because she isn’t and is instead emphasised to be Raven?
here is where the conflicting opinion comes in.
There is one line that Raven says on the film which does grate me. After the space adventure, Raven confronts Prof X on his growing ego and fame. As she is leaving, she turns to Prof X and says
It’s funny, I can’t actually remember the last time you were the one risking something. And by the way, the women are always saving the men around here. You might want to think about changing the name to X-Women.
Now I am all up for female empowerment but was this line really necessary? Why does every film nowadays have to turn it into a “make it about powerful women”? Why can’t the women JUST BE POWERFUL without having to make a big deal on it?
And if you’re going to eventually kill off the character who said this, then you’re kind of missing the point. But hey, that’s my opinion.
James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as Prof X and Magneto, while I would usually individually review actors, I feel like the pair come together in this. I feel like there has been a huge switch of character development for both characters. As stated above, Charles is letting fame get to his head which is NOT LIKE HIM and Erik has shown a much calmer lifestyle side where he would rather hide away and not cause problems, as opposed to the man who is fuelled with anger for non-mutants and wants revenge like he has been in the previous x men films.
Why the sudden change now?
Whose idea was it to do a complete U turn on these characters behaviours? Thankfully, McAvoy and Fassbender play their roles believably, but when their script is being completely out of character for their roles it makes it hard to watch.
In summary, the acting was good… the script is terrible. They had so much potential for this film, and it was a huge disappointment.
I’d give it a 4/10, with the actors ability to act being the saving grace of this film.
Have you seen Dark Phoenix? What did you think?
Until next time,