Dark Phoenix movie poster

Dark Phoenix

In theaters June 7, 2019


, ,

113 minutes

Directed by:

Starring: , , , ,

Buckle in kids and grab a drink, because I want to talk about Dark Phoenix and it won’t be kind or pretty.
Have you ever had a movie paces so poorly your main concern was staying awake? I did…and I didn’t.

Origin stories usually have more zip, and we know what happens to 10-year-old Jean Gray within in the first 10 minutes of Dark Phoenix. Great, that’s how these things should go – catch us noobs up who haven’t been following X-men since the late 80s. She then goes into space and absorbs a whole lot of energy. When she gets back to earth, she’s “fine” drinks a lot, gets angry a whole lot, and starts killing people. This may be accidental, but she’s raging with this out of control power, so who really knows. I despise how it makes powerful women look fragile but makes the men who gaslight them look sympathetic.

We then spend the next hour dealing with Jean’s daddy issues – first Professor X (James McAvoy), then [SPOILER], then Eric Lehnsherr/Magneto (Michael Fassbender).

I’ll come out and say it – Sophie Turner isn’t Jean Grey. Much like you need more than the laugh to be Betty Rubble (looking at you, Rosie O’Donnell), you need more than red hair and flashing green eyes to be the most powerful mutant the world has ever known. Ideally, you should have a personality that has more than two speeds (disgruntled rage and hurt surprise0. When she raised her hands in effortless manipulation of her new Phoenix powers, it should still look like a little bit of effort. It’s only the unending force of the universe, right, so no big deal. Just a little light gas? This should have been a movie about the power struggle of Jean and the Cosmic Force taking over, but, meh. Jean got a headache and kinda just gave up. Every mutant did. This was sleepwalking through 200 million dollars of costumes, prosthetics, and choreography, and those are compelling reasons to watch.

All of the exposition was for hard fans and aficionados, so you haven’t seen an X-men film since Alan Cumming was Night Crawler and Patrick Stewart was Professor X (like me), you have no idea who these people are. You go along with it because, in Marvel Movies, things get explained.
So stop telling yourself this is a Marvel Movie. It’s not. It’s a Fox property aiming at for that low-bar so consistently set by DC.
There are scenes of interminable dialogue that say nothing, fight scenes where the fighting stops as camera angles change, and D’Bari villain Vuk (Jessica Chastain) who reminded me of a low-rent Kree. By the way, I had to look up what race the D’Bari was because so little time was spent on their back story I completely missed the throwaway dialog. More time was it was spent on Professor X voiceovers telling Jean how special she was. There was an ensemble X-Men cast of 10 – 9 of them stand around watching Jean Grey/Phoenix break stuff. I guess we’re just supposed to know who to cheer for (ice blonde women are always bad).

Cool SFX in Dark Phoenix and some of it was downright beautiful, but what happened with them was wasted.  In 1992, Hank has some super fancy (modern) lab equipment, and we have ships that can safe crews of space shuttles without things like suits or masks, and we have really slick computer equipment that feels more 2012. We have a movie that wasn’t sure what it wanted to be so it decided on being none of them the best they couldn’t. There are a lot of writers on this movie and none of them could fix it. It wasn’t Jean’s transformation to Dark Phoenix. It wasn’t Professor X realizing he was a hero in his own story but the villain in Jean’s. It wasn’t a D’Bari race who could both be cut down with bullets and not – often in the same sequence.

I’m sorry, but Dark Phoenix is a messy slog and utterly forgettable entry that will hopefully be the final nail in the coffin of a forgettable reboot.

Dark Phoenix is rated PG-13 for swears, explosions, car crashes, people binge drinking, intense scenes of unrealistic space travel, people getting shot, people getting disintegrated, and people getting impaled.

Dark Phoenix is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: MontiLee Stormer
MontiLee Stormer is a writer of horror, dark and urban fantasy. She’s also is a troublemaker, concocting acts of mayhem and despair for her own selfish pleasure. An avid movie watcher, she prefers horror but will see just about anything if you're buying. Poltergeist (1982) is her favorite movie and she actively hates The Shining (1980) due to its racism, misogyny, the butchering of the source material. She could host a TEDtalk on this single subject. Writing about herself in the third person is just a bonus.


  1. Late reply, but after recently rereading the Dark Phoenix saga it certainly know what it wanted to be. Because it is more or less plotted like the original storyline.

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