Zwia Reviews: Dark Phoenix

My ranking of the X-Men movies off the top of my head:

1. Logan
2. Deadpool
3. X-Men: First Class
4. Deadpool 2
5. X2
6. X-Men: Days of Future Past
7. Wolverine
8. X-Men
9. Dark Phoenix
10. X-Men: Apocalypse
11. X3: The Last Stand
12. X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Did I forget any? Who cares. If you’re curious if you will like Dark Phoenix, please refer to the above rankings.

If your response is, “Hey Alex, I though X-Men: Apocalypse was the best in the franchise!”
Well firstly, you’re an idiot. And secondly, cool. Go watch Dark Phoenix then. You’ll probably enjoy it and then I can throw some foil at you to keep you busy for the rest of the weekend.

If your response is: “X-Men: First Class was garbage, its effects were shit and the story was boring.”
Well, you need to back the fuck up RIGHT NOW! THAT MOVIE IS A MASTERPIECE, DAMNIT. MASTERPIECE. I had sunburn so bad that my parents wanted to take me to the hospital and I said, “NO, I MUST SEE X-MEN: FIRST CLASS AGAIN INSTEAD!” (That is a true story.)

Anyway, Dark Phoenix wasn’t terrible. It certainly probably doesn’t deserve to be attacked as much as it is online right now, and definitely doesn’t deserve to be compared to train wrecks like the new Hellboy movie.

Is it perfect? Hell no.
Is it fun? Mostly no.

But it is watchable.

I will say I genuinely enjoyed a majority of the first half of the movie. It is slow, focuses on the X-Men characters, the school itself, their relationships to the world and Professor X. It’s a lot of the stuff I like from the comics that gets sprinkled in some of the better movies, but rarely gets focused on.

What I’m saying is, the X-Men are really close to feeling like… wellthe X-Men at the start of this movie. They know each other, they have interesting relationships, they work as a well-oiled group, they trust each other and their mentor, the school has a real school atmosphere, and their uniforms match… We have the start of that X-Men movie that X-Men: Apocalypse‘s ending teased! And I really enjoyed it.

(Small spoiler upcoming)
Then the rest of the movie happens.

And aliens…

And Phoenix…

And there’s a train…

And we were so close. So damn close.

Lets tackle these three points:

1. Aliens. There are aliens. They are generic and serve very little purpose. Sorry if it’s a spoiler. But could an uninteresting group really be considered a spoiler if they barely effect the plot?

Listen, I get that the original Dark Phoenix storyline has the Shi’ar and a whole planet getting blown up and all that jazz. And I am very cool with Fox taking a real dive into the crazy world of comics and just going super bonkers for one of these movies that’s not Deadpool. But if you’re gonna do it, you gotta do it right… And this was not it. This movie hands down would have been more interesting if the aliens were left out and it just focused on the X-Men and their conflicts.

2. Phoenix. Lets get into that drama.

Jean Grey is losing control and the X-Men want to either help her or kill her, and they’re breaking apart under all the pressure. Great idea. I love it, and I thought it was handled… okay. The biggest problem is the audience’s ability to relate to these characters.

Captain America and Iron Man fight and I feel something. I’ve grown with these characters. I’ve watched them for years. I understand them.

Jean Grey and Cyclops have an issue? Uh… I mean, I saw you two once before? And all I can remember from it was you two helping a naked Wolverine?

I’m not attached to these characters. Not these versions of them, at least. You bring Famke Jansen and the Cowboy from Westworld in, I can relate to them. But we have yet to really get to know these versions of the characters, and this movie doesn’t take the time to help with that problem.

I truly think this movie would have been better if it was set up as the final of a trilogy just focusing on this new X-Men team. We really needed more time with them.

3. TRAIN. Just so you guys know, Simon Kinberg, the writer and director of this movie also wrote like half the other X-Men movies. This is also his directorial debut.

So we’re in… hands. Maybe not great, experienced hands… But we’re in hands.

And for the most part, I liked it. The action for sure wasn’t anything special, but I didn’t care because it was all character-motivated action.

Well, sounds like Fox did not like it, so they scrapped his original final act for a train scene and, boy… The action is certainly better, but the movie feels very different very suddenly. That shift didn’t sit right with me and is probably my biggest complaint.

Some of the effects were really cheap looking, too.

It’s a bit boring.

The first five minutes have a moment where Xavier is using a bunch of adjectives and easily could have added “astonishing” or “uncanny” but didn’t.

Not sure why Jean used the Phoenix Force in Apocalypse but had to regain it here… But continuity has never been the strong suit for this franchise.

This movie had potential. And it does some things really well. It almost was a real X-Men movie and not just another “Wolverine saves the day with some friends” movie.

Sadly, it doesn’t quite stick the landing, and is certainly not a movie I see myself seeing again any time soon, but it’s not the worst thing to sit through.

I’d definitely say to check this out over Hellboy.

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