Closing out the Fox era of X-Men movies, Dark Phoenix revisits the story of Jean Grey falling prey to the powerful Phoenix Force - but the reviews are even worse than they were for X-Men: The Last Stand. Dark Phoenix is the feature directorial debut of long-time X-Men screenwriter and producer Simon Kinberg, and stars Game of Thrones' Sophie Turner as Jean Grey alongside the rest of the prequel series' cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Nicholas Hoult, Jennifer Lawrence, Evan Peters, and Kodi Smit-McPhee. Jessica Chastain also joins the cast this time around as alien villain Vuk.
Dark Phoenix's Rotten Tomatoes score currently sits at 22% on its opening weekend - the worst in the X-Men franchise. While many fans may have hoped that the last time we saw this particular version of the X-Men would be a triumphant exit, it seems like more of a whimper than a bang. Many of the negative reviews of Dark Phoenix have the same criticisms: that the movie is bland and feels lifeless and deflated, and that the actors' performances reflect how uninspiring the material they're working with is.
The X-Men franchise has had its up and downs, but there's no denying that it played an instrumental role in the early days of the current superhero movie renaissance. Unfortunately, it looks like the franchise that started out so powerfully with 2000's X-Men has come to a considerably less impressive end. Here's a sampling of the reviews for Dark Phoenix:
"A film so dull, flat and totally joyless that, in the absence of anything compelling unfolding on screen, one’s mind may be forgiven for turning to the corporate machinations grinding behind it... little in the way of table setting had occurred in the run-up to Dark Phoenix, which makes it feel less like a grand finale, and more like a rushed ending hammered out under a tight deadline."
"Dark Phoenix doesn’t just suck big time. It’s the worst movie ever in the X-Men series. That’s 12 films since the first X-Men in 2000. Even series low points — that’s you X-Men Apocalypse — offered compensations. Dark Phoenix just lies there like a dying fish, futilely flapping about on land while it waits for the inevitable dying of the light."
"Almost every single scene in this film, action or otherwise, suffers from Kinberg’s oppressively dull, flat direction. On one hand there’s the overly frantic space rescue set-piece and the choppily edited mutant super-brawl in New York, and on the other we have dialogues unspooled with an utterly unfussed sense of efficiency."
"At its heart, this is a story about what an immeasurably talented woman chooses to do with her life; unfortunately, it doesn't play like one, as Kinberg pitches his script in the most melodramatic direction possible while the exceptional impulses multiplying inside Jean grow as well as fester by the moment."
Looking at the other end of the spectrum, there aren't any rave reviews for Dark Phoenix out there, though a few critics did find enough to like about the movie to give it a positive overall verdict. Here are some of the more favorable takes on Dark Phoenix:
"Director Simon Kinberg has taken this inauspicious material and made a decent superhero film. Dark Phoenix manages the difficult task of remaining true to the source material's tragic vision while dumping most of its banal misogyny. The result is an often moving story about failure and redemption, with more emotional weight than most superhero blockbusters can muster."
"This is a movie that, unusually, is carried along by the strength of its cast’s performances, not the showiness of its special effects. Chastain, McAvoy, Lawrence and Michael Fassbender (returning as Magneto) ground their characters in ways that make their dilemmas and motivations plausible, while Turner does a good job of exploring the complexities of someone forced to reckon with suddenly being the most powerful person on the planet."
Do you think the critics are being too harsh on Dark Phoenix... or not harsh enough? Let us know in the comments.