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Dark Phoenix Movie Review – The Heart Just Isn’t There

As a wrap-up of a once powerful franchise, the film doesn’t really work.

Reviewed by on Jun 07, 2019
Rating: 3 Star Rating

Kidzworld saw Dark Phoenix on a big IMAX screen but action sequences can’t carry what is supposed to be an emotional goodbye to once-popular X-Men characters. Read our movie review.

By: Lynn Barker

In Dark Phoenix, X-Men must battle one of their own. When Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) is nearly killed on a space shuttle rescue mission by a weird cosmic force that enters her body amplifying her powers, unstable Jean starts to hurt the ones she loves with new uncontrollable force. The destruction she causes divides the X-Men. Can she be saved or must she be destroyed? When shapeshifting aliens led by Vuk (Jessica Chastain) try to gain the power for themselves, it is up to the divided X-Men to help save our planet.

Dark Phoenix Trailer


The Family Accident

In 1975, when Jean Grey is 8-years-old, her psychic/telekinetic powers begin to manifest. She is unable to control them and accidentally causes a car crash that kills her parents but leaves her totally unharmed. Professor X/Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) sees her mutant abilities and takes Jean to his school for exceptional mutant youngsters convincing her that she isn’t evil but special.

Jean Grey character poster from Dark PhoenixJean GreyCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Save the Shuttle

In 1992, the X-Men are accepted and cheered for aiding humankind as heroes. When the space shuttle Endeavour is critically damaged by what is thought to be a solar flare, the combined X-Men lead by Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) are sent to the rescue. They save all of the astronauts except the commander. Jean must literally hold the shuttle together telekinetically while he is rescued. She is successful but a strange purple mist envelopes the shuttle and goes into Jean’s body. She is left unconscious and thought dead but is brought back aboard the X-Men’s plane by Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee).

Nightcrawler character poster from Dark PhoenixNightcrawlerCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Back Home

At the school, Hank (Nicholas Hoult) checks Jean’s health and learns that her power is greatly amplified but she feels great. Crowds cheer the victorious X-Men. Raven and Xavier argue. She thinks his ego makes him put the team in danger and thinks that the women in the group always seem to be saving the men. Jean and boyfriend Scott/Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) kiss and all seems well. Meanwhile, three small alien ships land and the inhabitants take over the bodies of several people at a dinner party. While the younger X-Men are out partying, Raven tells Hank/Beast that Xavier has changed. He’s not the leader he used to be when they were the “first X-Men class”.

Raven/MystiqueRaven/MystiqueCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

The Phoenix

The kids at the school party around a campfire and call Jean “The Phoenix” because she rose from apparent death. The fire seems to kindle her new powers and she can’t control them. A shockwave knocks everyone down. Professor X tries to use his thought amplifier Cerebro to enter Jean’s head but she is too powerful. Mental protection he placed years ago around her memories is being torn down. She now knows that her father wasn’t killed in the accident. She breaks up with Cyclops to protect him and goes back home to confront her father. Meanwhile alien leader Vuk rallies her troops and tells them they must have Jean’s new power.

At the party, Jean's powers riseAt the party, Jean's powers riseCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Trouble at Home

When Jean confronts her father and learns that he was afraid of her, couldn’t control her and just turned her over willingly to Xavier, she is hurt and furious and her powers start destroying everything. The arrival of X-Men friends doesn’t stop her and one of the X-Men is killed. There is much destruction and policemen are killed as well. Jean flies away and the shattered X-Men return to the school to bury their lost colleague while Vuk and group arrive to question Jean’s dad. The X-Men are divided by the death of one of their own and members take sides; some to kill Jean others to protect her.

Jessica Chastain as alien VukJessica Chastain as alien VukCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Erik’s Compound

Hoping Magneto/Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) can help her control her powers, Jean goes to his isolated mutant compound but he can’t help and turns against her when he learns that she has killed a beloved X-Men member. Her powers wreck the approaching military and some of the compound before she leaves. Again, mutants are hated by humans. Jean uses her powers to hide but Vuk finds her and explains that he/she is from an alien race from a planet destroyed by the cosmic force Jean absorbed. The aliens must control it. They take Jean to their headquarters and vow to kill her if they can’t get her power.

Vuk shows Jean just how powerful she isVuk shows Jean just how powerful she isCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Taking Sides

Hank/Beast feels betrayed by Xavier who wiped out Jean’s memories, mourns his dead colleague and allies with Erik and his mutant refugees to kill Jean in New York. The two X-Men “teams” battle each other in the streets and Erik confronts Jean but is overpowered by her stronger abilities. Vuk is there and tries to fully absorb Jean’s new cosmic force but Xavier and Cyclops/Scott stop her and both mutant factions are captured by government soldiers and put on a train going to a containment facility.

Some of the X-Men confront JeanSome of the X-Men confront JeanCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Final Battle

Vuk and her alien forces attack the train and when the soldiers are overpowered by the shape-shifting aliens, they free the mutants from restraints to combat the alien threat. Vuk tries again to drain all of the cosmic power from Jean. The X-Men realize that their dead colleague would want them and Jean to act as one family to fight the alien threat so they reunite but who will win and will Jean do more damage to her friends? Will she survive?

Will Jean survive the final battle?Will Jean survive the final battle?Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Wrapping Up

This final X-Men film hopes to be full of emotion and lessons on absolute power and its consequences, redemption, love and family but when contrasted with the last Avengers “Endgame” film, it fails. The heart just isn’t here. It’s not emotionally satisfying. It seems most of the cast is just tired of their characters and is just walking through the film in a daze.

X-Men mourn one of their ownX-Men mourn one of their ownCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

There are so many eras and ages for the key X-Men characters in the many films that it is harder to keep track of them than in the cinematic Avenger saga and harder to invest in their fates. Different actors playing the key roles over time and, no Wolverine in this one doesn’t help. 

Vuk tries to recruit Jean to her sideVuk tries to recruit Jean to her sideCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

Sophie Turner does a good job of focusing on Jean’s distraught mental state and it is very nice that, since the Famke Janssen era playing the character, filmmakers decided to focus more on Jean’s story and what makes her tick when she gains so much power. Just wish it could have been done with more emotional satisfaction.

X-Men turn against each other as Avengers did in “Civil War” but it seems too easy for them to reconcile to fight a common alien foe. Even Jean shifts to being happy that she has emotions and family feelings, all too easily.  With its many flaws, the film is still entertaining enough that we give it three stars.

Dark Phoenix Movie Rating: 3

Dark Phoenix Movie PosterCourtesy of 20th Century Fox

See Dark Phoenix in theaters now.

What is Your Opinion?

Let us all know your take on X-Men films and this one in particular? Did you see the older films? Are you looking forward to the Dark Phoenix tale getting more attention? Are you cool with Sophie Turner in the lead role? Leave a comment and/or say something on your personal Kidzworld page.