X-Men: Dark Phoenix

Dark Phoenix (also marketed as X-Men: Dark Phoenix) is a 2019 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics X-Men characters. It is the twelfth installment of the X-Men film series, and the sequel to 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse. The film is written and directed by Simon Kinberg (in his feature directorial debut) and stars an ensemble cast featuring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, and Jessica Chastain. In Dark Phoenix, the X-Men are forced to face the full power of the Phoenix after a mission in space goes wrong.

We see back in 1975, an 8 year old  Jean Grey and her parents get into a car accident that kills her mother. She is led to believe that her father too died in the crash. Shortly afterwards, Professor Charles Xavier takes her to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. We move forwards to 1992 some of the X-Men are sent respond to a distress signal from the space shuttle Endeavour, which is critically damaged by a solar flare-like energy during the STS-49 mission. While the astronauts are saved, Jean is the last one in and she struck by the energy which she absorbs into her body to save her team’s aircraft from destruction. She is brought back to earth but recovers quickly. However psychic powers are greatly amplified as a result, but they become uncontrollable and she accidentally unleashes her power on mutants celebrating the victory at Xavier’s school.

Xavier had placed mental walls in Jean’s mind as a girl to protect her psychic mind from experiencing trauma; these are destroyed by Jean’s enhanced power and the trauma slowly returns, resulting in her being full of rage and pain. She travels to her hometown and finds out that her father is still alive and had infact abandoned her. . Jean recovers her complete memory of the car accident and remembers that she had inadvertently caused it rendering her mother unconscious at the wheel with her telepathy, which causes her to develop post-traumatic stress disorder. The X-Men arrive and attempt to take Jean home but she injures Quicksilver and accidentally kills Mystique before fleeing. Jean travels to the mutant refugee island of Genosha to seek assistance from Magneto in controlling her rage, but is turned away after she engages in combat with U.S. military forces tasked with her arrest. Jean meets Vuk, the leader of a shape-shifting alien race known as the D’Bari, who explains to her that she has been possessed by a force of cosmic power which wiped out the D’Bari home planet long ago.

The power had consumed all those it came across until it was drawn to Jean. Meanwhile, Hank McCoy (Beast), mad with grief by Raven’s death, allies with Erik and the mutant refugees in an attempt to kill Jean in New York City. Upon learning of Erik’s plan, the X-Men try to stop him and his faction of mutants. As they battle, Erik manages to enter the building and confront Jean, only to fall to her amplified powers. Xavier then enters the building with Nightcrawler. Jean attacks them until Xavier convinces her to read his memories—allowing her personality to resurface. Feeling remorseful, Jean offers to let Vuk take the force from her; however, it is revealed that doing so would kill Jean, as well as revealing that Vuk also intends to use the force to conquer Earth. Xavier and Scott are able to prevent Vuk from fully absorbing the force from Jean, though Jean loses consciousness from the ordeal. Troops sent by the U.S. government, who use stun weapons and power-inhibiting collars, attack and subdue both mutant factions, who are placed on a train headed towards a containment facility.

The train is attacked by Vuk and her D’Bari forces. When the soldiers are overpowered by the shape-shifters, the mutants are freed from their restraints to combat the threat. The mutants deal with most of the D’Bari attackers, but Vuk arrives and heads for Jean. Xavier confers with Jean within his mind, allowing Jean to gain control of her power. After forgiving Xavier, Jean saves the mutants from Vuk’s attacks and the ensuing train wreck before proceeding to easily disintegrate the remaining D’Bari when they attack her. Vuk once again attempts to drain Jean of the force, but Jean takes Vuk into outer space, retakes the power that Vuk had received earlier, and then kills her. Jean then disappears in a burst of energy in the form of a phoenix. In the aftermath of the incident, Xavier’s school is renamed the “Jean Grey School for Gifted Youngsters”, and Hank becomes their new dean with Xavier having retired. While settling himself in Paris, Xavier is reunited with Erik and agrees to play a game of chess with him. As they start playing, a flaming phoenix appears in the sky.

While I love the special effects and the cast, the story is a mess. Such a big cast tends to get lost in the melee. The actors even seem bored at times with little to work with. Depth of character is not there, except forced on some of the characters. I didn’t feel the movie connected with audiences, certainly not with me. They missed another chance to make Whiplash a major character and the rest is forgettable. Too much of the powers is like “magic” that it becomes so cliched and boring. Villain(s) aren’t fleshed out enough. Were they even needed in this film? Anyways, I did enjoy parts of the film, enough to give it a 6 outta 10!

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