It’s hard to write a review on a movie when one’s first reaction is confusion. With Captain Marvel setting the bar, expectations are high for a strong, female hero. X-Men: Dark Phoenix, however, can only be described as unsubstantial, pointless, and inexplicably boring. Intended to serve as a bookend for the original X-Men saga, it ended up as a series of fight scenes stitched together with an altogether aimless storyline.
The year is 1992 and the human population has reached an unsteady truce with the mutants. A space shuttle is thrown off course by a mysterious force and the X-Men are enlisted to help rescue the crew. After risking the lives of the team in an effort to leave no one behind, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) is caught in the middle of a massive explosion but somehow manages to absorb the mysterious force. She makes it back to earth, her powers heightened and volatile. Jean accidentally kills Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) due to not being able to control her powers and flees to find her father, who she thought was dead due to Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) repressing some of her memories.
The only somewhat redeeming thing about the movie is the special effects. With a character like Jean Grey, it would be impossible to have a movie about her without the high caliber CGI (computer generated images) that went into the film. From the superpowered fight scenes to the impressive outer space sequence, the effects are at the level that one would expect the entire film to match.
With actors known for movies and shows such as The Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, and Love, Simon, it’s as if the production company is trying to make up for the lack of ingenuity. The movie uses cliche and almost cartoonish tropes, such as the “X Phone” that exists in Professor X’s office solely for the reason of calling the president. It’s also incredibly formulaic, following the generic superhero movie outline to a T.
This movie could’ve covered racism and sexism in an actually meaningful way. The opportunity was right there, but it was completely ignored. Maybe five minutes of the film actually address how much the mutant population is feared and discriminated against, and even less time goes towards the blatant sexism. Professor X literally takes it upon himself to minimize Jean’s emotional experience and even as an adult, continues to try and make choices for her instead of letting her make them for herself. The only time any sexism is acknowledged is some throwaway quip about how they should be called the X-Women instead.
In conclusion, this movie fell short. That’s not to say it’s bad, but the bar has been raised with Captain Marvel, especially for a strong female hero. If you’re into fight scenes and nothing else, this would be a good one to go see in the theaters. For the rest of you, it might be a better idea to wait for the DVD. All in all, I’d say that this movie has earned its IMDB rating of 6.2/10 as of June 5. X-Men: Dark Phoenix is out in theaters on June 7.