It's the end of an era. As Twentieth Century Fox closes out its final slate, they also close out one of their very successful franchises with this week's Dark Phoenix. Nineteen years ago in July 2000 X-Men came to movie theaters bringing yet another set of comic books to life on the big screen. Nine movies later (not including the two Deadpool films) we see how the studio wraps up their take on the series. That isn't to say there won't be other X-Men movies in the future, it just means this is the last of them before they get "Disneyfied".
Dark Phoenix is Jean Grey's (Sophie Turner; Game of Thrones) origin story. As the movie opens, we see an eight-year-old Jean riding in the car with her parents. As things escalate, Jean is unable to control her powers causing a car crash. She ends up in the hospital where she meets Charles Xavier (James McAvoy; Glass) who takes her to live with him and the other "special" children. It is here she grows up and learns to work with her powers. Ten years later she is part of a team of X-Men that goes to space to save the crew of the space shuttle. While on the rescue mission Jean absorbs a great amount of power that should have killed her but doesn't.
Back on Earth, Jean is suddenly having problems controlling her power again and upon further inspections, it seems her "readings" are off the charts. Any time she gets mad, she hurts people and destroys property. Afraid, she leaves Charles and goes to Eric/Magneto (Michael Fassbender; Steve Jobs) hoping he can help but he doesn't and she ends up on the run. She ends up meeting Vuk (Jessica Chastain; It: Chapter 2) who seems at first to want to help Jean but who really wants the power that's inside her.
Turner (a.k.a the newly minted Mrs. Joe Jonas) was a good casting choice to play the most powerful being in the galaxy. She portrays the young woman as strong yet vulnerable all at the same time. Chastain is also strong as the creepy, albino-like alien looking to regenerate her species and destroy everyone on Earth. McAvoy and Fassbender play the same characters we have seen before and they are surrounded by familiar faces - Jennifer Lawrence (The Hustle) as Raven, Nicholas Hoult (Tolkien) as Beast, and Evan Peters (American Horror Story) as Quicksilver.
First-time Director Simon Kinberg (Mr. and Mrs. Smith) does a fairly good job with the material. The scenes move at an even pace and there were only a few times I felt as if the plot slowed down. The effects were extremely well done especially on the mutants as even the smallest details were ascertainable to the naked eye. Fight scenes were well choreographed and not overdone. Some of the shots were dark making it hard to follow some of the action sequences but then again it is called Dark Phoenix.
Dark Phoenix is a far sight better than X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: Apocalypse but is can't compare to the first two X-Men films or X-Men: Days of Future Past. It offers a fairly plausible origin story for Jean Gray though the Alien subplot was a little convoluted and felt unfinished and not fully explained. It also doesn't fit the time line set forth in some of the previously released X-Men films so the ending left me with unanswered questions.
I think this film served its purpose and I found it entertaining almost the entire time. It's a rather mixed back but I didn't hate it as much as some of my fellow critics have.