So I finally watched X-Men: Dark Phoenix, knowing that the movie was not received well. I went in expecting a bad movie, but I came out thinking it wasn’t half bad. It wasn’t superb, but it was good enough to merit another movie. My take away from it is simple: it’s another X-Men movie, and I personally enjoy them. Did we need another one? No, but for a movie so late in the franchise, it was fairly entertaining.
The plot is a little far-fetched but nonetheless intriguing. The movie starts off with the X-Men going on a space mission, surprise surprise, it goes wrong; in the process, Jean Grey is possessed by a super powerful space entity. In a convenient twist, there were aliens around at the time, and they desperately desire Jean’s power for themselves. Jean’s chaotic spree is interesting enough as she fails to handle her newfound power well due to repressed childhood memories, and so is the alien invasion plot. The two plots coincide quite smoothly, both essential for Jean’s character development (quite limited development, but c’est la vie). You see, the aliens want to make friends with Jean, to use her. Being aliens, they have a superior intellect and help Jean to learn about her power/the space entity, obviously with nefarious intent. It’s enough of a stress-inducing/interesting plot to mostly merit bringing the X-Men back to the screen, however, it has limitations.
The plot is a little too reminiscent of 50s B movies to be taken that seriously. Zooming in on the roaring, blue, man-monster (Beast) doesn’t lighten the cheese load either, as he does more flips than acrobats. Still, this is a superhero movie, and there’s enough super powered fights to entertain. Magneto was ridiculously fun to watch, as always, especially during the deliciously intense train sequence. Storm also went at it, which was a joy to witness. The generally great CGI matched the excitement, providing much entertainment, and even “wow” moments.
The hinderance of the entire movie was the forced feeling throughout. The dialogue was often awkward and horribly stilted – it had me thinking that no real human would have said a plethora of lines chosen, but due to plot restrictions, the writers no choice. The plot was almost entirely predictable, much too simple and obvious, with groaner lines right, left, and center. The only real surprise was Mystique’s death, but even that felt forced – someone had to die. There was little room for emotional impact amongst the contrived lines, and expected plot developments, although a few moments did admittedly hit.
In the end, X-Men: Dark Phoenix can be forgiven for being a little cartoony and ridiculous – for obvious reasons. What it can’t be forgiven for is the movie being so forced that the franchise subsequently felt like it’s slowing down. It often felt like they were going through motions, giving the action the audience wants, with less care than previously. There were potentially huge stakes, but every threat is dealt with rather systematically, which is boring. That being said, there’s enough popcorn crunching cheesy action to keep a superhero fan entertained throughout, even when the movie slows down a bit. For X-Men fans, here’s another one, just don’t expect an amazing return.