Instead of going out strong and leaving a good impression after so many years, they did the exact opposite. The movie is distorted, rushed, predictable, flat and overall unimpressive. Everything looks cheap from the costumes to the decorations. The actors are uninterested in the movie and look like they just want to deliver their weak lines and get done as soon as possible.
The most frustrating thing about Dark Phoenix is just how dull it all is, meaning it closes the Fox X-Men franchise with a bit of whimper rather than a triumphant flourish. This arc from the comics is supposedly iconic for the character yet there’s no sense of that at all, Kinberg’s writing and directing just feeling flat from start to finish.
Even the action sequences, save for the finale aboard a train, lack the excitement that usually makes these films entertaining at the very least. Impressive effects can’t even mask the fact the action beats feel uninspired. Hans Zimmer’s score doesn’t even have the power to add much to proceedings either, which I never thought I’d say myself about the great composer.
Coming to the performances, Dark Phoenix is lacking a powerful lead for the titular character. Sophie Turner made a name for herself in Game of Thrones, a show where she was far from the best, and she doesn’t own the gravitas to bring the Dark Phoenix. It’s all little nicer than it should be. James McAvoy is the stand-out as Charles Xavier, once again showing dedication to the role akin to Patrick Stewart, while the likes of Nicholas Hoult, Jennifer Lawrence and even Michael Fassbender are wasted however, the real criminal act here is how the film doesn’t utilise an actress of Jessica Chastain’s calibre, reducing her to nothing much of a role at all.
They also tried to give Charles Xavier a bit more of a character dilemma instead of presenting him as the evergreen moralist. I also think James McAvoy gave his best performance yet as Professor X. However, Fasbender’s portrayal of Magneto still felt so-so. He is still the same character from previous movies without much growth. They definitely could have introduced some interesting character evolution. The rest of the X-Men cast were the same as in previous films although Storm certainly was more fleshed out than in Apocalypse.
Now how does the story compare to X3 which was also based on the Dark Phoenix saga in the comics. Well, despite the bad dialogue and directing, I think it was told better in the older movie. However, what primarily holds the interest in the 2019 version are the action sequences. I felt the X-Men really acted as a team with all the mutants complimenting one another’s superpowers to fight a common enemy. I am glad they didn’t keep on overusing the same setup each time a fight scene ensued.
Unbelievable to say, but watch instead “the last stand” if you want to watch a live action interpretation of the phoenix saga. It wasn’t good too, but at least they tried and knew their characters.