Not Every Phoenix Should Rise

“Dark Phoenix” is the latest film in the X-Men franchise and was written as well as directed by Simon Kinberg.  The film sees the return of cast members including James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Jennifer Lawrence, Sophie Turner, and several other familiar faces.

The film is supposed to be an adaptation of the comic book era known as “The Dark Phoenix Saga” initially written by Chris Claremont and John Byrne.  I have not read the comic book series even in my younger years, so I can’t speak to the faithfulness of this latest effort.  Audiences saw another version of Jean Grey’s transformation into the Phoenix with a previous X-Men film entitled “The Last Stand”.

The McAvoy version of Charles Xavier has taken in Jean Grey and raised her in his school for gifted children. Of course, the gifted children are not so much geniuses as they have unique abilities courtesy of their mutant DNA.  However, the good professor has kept secrets from the supposedly orphaned Jean.  The actions begins with the X-Men flying off into space to rescue astronauts apparently threatened by a solar flare.  Although the rescue is successful, a mysterious force inhabits the body of Jean Grey, amplifying her already formidable psychic abilities.  Just when the situation can’t look worse, an alien presence has arrived searching for the one who absorbed the powers of the space phenomenon.  The leader of these invaders have taken over the form of Jessica Chastain, or rather the character she is portraying.

Anyway, there is a lot going on in this thing.  The story struggles with a consistent coherence.  Sophie Turner is okay as the increasingly befuddled and desperate Jean Grey.  She tends to get panned pretty thoroughly for her, and I didn’t think she was all that awful.  I thought Fassbender as Magneto was the most compelling of the cast.  It’s a talented cast, and they did the best they could, but really the film suffers from profound mediocrity in the writing.  Plus, as mentioned before, this storyline has already been done on the big screen.

The visual effects were done well enough, but that was not unexpected.  The movie has a few interesting moments and revelations, but nothing that really filled me with awe and amazement.

I would hesitate to call this piece truly terrible, but I can’t say there is much to call it all that good.

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