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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


“Dark Phoenix” fails to rise from the ashes

The “Dark Phoenix” official movie poster. The movie premiered on June 7, 2019. PUBLIC DOMAIN

The final installment in 21st Century Fox’s X-Men franchise, “Dark Phoenix,” crashes and burns on its opening weekend on Friday, June 7.

Though the movie had enticing CGI and setpieces, they were overshadowed by a truly boring villain and a storyline that feels bland at best. The story of Jean Grey (played by Sophie Turner) is interesting.

Jean Grey is a superhero from Marvel’s X-men Comics who has extraordinary powers like telepathy, astral projection and psychokinesis. However, juggling Grey’s troubled past with an unusual plotline about alien-shapeshifters on Earth did not work. The writers should simply have picked one of the two plots and elaborated on it for a better movie.

Instead, we get a nonsensical plot about random aliens who come to Earth seeking some sort of weapon/planet-maker/ether that entered Grey’s body while she was in space and starts to turn her evil.

The aliens are led by Jessica Chastain’s character, Smith, who is so irrelevant to most of the plot and unmemorable that, without looking it up, I would have never remembered the name.

We’re introduced to the aliens very early in the film but then they are not seen for the rest of the movie until the second half. When they come back into play, during the last part of the movie, their only purpose is to act as a catalyst turn Grey good again.  

The fact that these villains were so unbelievably lame since they weren’t given enough screen time to actually feel threatening  — undercuts the suspense of the movie drastically, and Grey’s struggle between the light and the dark forces within herself — which could’ve been a beautiful and tense story — is ruined by the fact that the mysterious weapon was making her commit evil acts all along.

The actors all did their best with what they were given; James McAvoy (Professor X) and Turner both performed brilliantly. Turner’s American accent could definitely use some work, but it wasn’t abysmal. However, what was abysmal was the movie’s criminal underuse of Evan Peters.

Peters, who plays the mutant speedster Quicksilver, is one of the most talented actors in the film. He’s the only one who brings any level of levity or joy to pretty much all of the X-Men movies besides Deadpool. Yet for some unknown reason, the movie sidelines him relatively early on, wasting his talent and hurting the movie.

This also comes as a disappointment for any fans hoping to see some sort of resolution to the father/son relationship between Michael Fassbender’s Magneto and Quicksilver that was hinted at strongly in the series’ previous film, “X-men: Apocalypse.” Once Quicksilver is injured, the movie pretty much neglects to mention him ever again.

Yet there were still a few high points in the movie, like when Jennifer Lawrence — who plays Raven/Mystique — calls out Professor X for his arrogant and narcissistic behavior. Lawrence and McAvoy’s chemistry gives the scene a palpable tension that the rest of the movie lacks.

Despite the few satisfactory moments, the movie feels hollow and underwhelming. For a movie that calls itself “dark” in its title, it feels like the writers barely dipped their toes in the concept.

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