Jean Grey has been my favorite character from the X Men universe for a VERY long time. I felt she was ill-used in X Men Last Stand. They crammed a 6+ hour story into a tight film format and it simply didn't work for me. The result of that film, the end of it, just...fell flat especially after the previous two were so much fun.
X Men Apocalypse introduced the new Jean Grey. I remembered really liking her but beyond a few snippets, I have to admit the movie was mostly forgettable. It wasn't the penultimate battle between the mutants I expected I suppose.
Dark Phoenix suffers from that a little bit. There are a number of things which happened to this movie that contributed to negative reviews, expectations, etc. I'll try to address them as I see them after watching the film.
1) We heard test audiences hated it. This led to reshoots. It seems like whenever we hear about a film having trouble, we immediately believe it's going to be trash. This happened to Solo. I know MANY people who didn't go see it in the theater. Several of them watched it at home and regretted missing it.
2) Many say it's the last X Men movie by this studio. So the expectations are elevated. It suffers a comparison with Avengers Endgame. They've been making these movies since 2000 so we have had 20 years of this going on. I admit right now that this doesn't feel like a 'conclusion' to a story. It's not some satisfying end to a tradition. It's another installment.
3) And because of comparison, it falls short. This is not to the quality of Avengers. It's simply not. The first forty minutes were wooden. The actors didn't seem to care about what they were doing. Two things happen that compels them out of that rut somehow. I don't know if they filmed in order (I doubt it) or what, but at a certain point, the movie just changes gear and gets better (reshoots maybe?).
4) The Phoenix story tends to be told as a Saga. And that's not a quick 2 hour movie. That's like...multiple comics, multiple shows, etc. What they messed up with here is calling it Dark Phoenix because now, there are expectations. And when we see the run time isn't even 3 hours, we're like 'you're done'. You can't tell that story so fast! Arguably, they did not.
Jean Grey goes on a mission with the X Men into space to save some astronauts. In the process, she's blasted with some kind of crazy space energy. After sucking it all inside herself, it begins to break down the barriers put in place by Professor Xavier to allow her to have a reasonably normal childhood.
Stuff goes wrong from there.
I ended up enjoying the movie. So much so that I'll be picking it up when it comes out. This was not 'change your life' cinema. It was an X Men movie. It is not the best in the series but it's absolutely NOT the worst (that should still be leveraged at the Origin Wolverine movie).
Some of the lines in the movie are cornier than usual. James McAvoy has been an actor that I hold as being in my top 5 and I feel like he didn't really show up. There are a few moments where he shines but for the most part, he's just not as invested.
Jennifer Lawrence was in the same boat. I didn't feel like she cared as much as she had in the past.
Michael Fassbender, on the other hand, delivers 100%. And the new Cyclops was great. He finally got to prove that he's not the schlub the other movies made him out to be. All around, I think they did an admirable job and it's an entertaining film.
One that was unfairly maligned against expectation, perception and a desire for it to be bad.
Rating: 3 out of 5
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