Name: The Dark Phoenix
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-fi
The Dark Phoenix is my long awaited redesign of basically X-Men 3, with Jean Grey the most interesting character in the franchise, delivering the collapsable X-Men team. The most captivating part of the film is how it paints Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) as a narrow-minded overprotected dictator running the gifted mutants school. The older students who we have been introduced to and learn to love are growing up, starting to rebel and act on their own beliefs and emotions. With Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), things escalate very quickly when she returns from a space mission exceeding the strength of her teacher. The message of Jean struggling with her superior powers, is a subtle metaphor for the path to adulthood, but this wasn’t the most shocking element of the film.
From past movies we have learnt that Professor X has been a protective father figure, but this movie shows a different side of him. A more evil sinister side comes out, smothering his friends and students, deciding for them what they can and cannot handle. He’s constantly been fighting for mutants to live normal lives with regular humans, but we see him using the X-Men as a bargaining chip to do the Presidents bidding to keep the peace. With the latest mission being a space rescue, Charles commands the X-Men to shoot straight off without hesitation, even though members of the team felt it was too dangerous. During the mission Jean gets belted by a cosmic cloud and killed. But with all this cosmic energy she is resurrected and returned to earth with unimaginable power. We follow and dive into Jean’s past where her emotions set her powers out of control. Will she be able to control her powers before they completely take over her?
Even though Jean’s portrayed as the main character in the film, Charles’ character arc is a lot more gripping. He is the one constant that must change his attitude and see how his over controlling nature of the X-Men has prevented Jean and other characters from evolving. It’s a fascinating change to see one of the most beloved franchise characters, sweating and troubled as one of his students grow ultimately stronger in power and resistance to his nature.
Although the movie is intense with action, it was also full of darkness and depressing scenes at times. One for example, when one of the most loved and iconic characters die (trying not to spoil too much), Charles’ lies catches up to him and the X-Men start to see what he’s become.
The final battle is located on a moving train with X-Men fighting the enemies protecting the cosmic energy Jean absorbed in space. Magneto joins in with the rebel mutants but a lot of the powers seem unnoticed during the battle. More gunshots than super natural powers.
The film thrusts the stance for feminism throughout the film as it greatly shows female’s as strong-willed badasses and crushes the male saviour complex. The constant ‘mansplaining’ by Charles’ eventually gets shut down and the characters start thinking and deciding their own paths to take – which was about time.
The pace of the film seemed as scenes were shortened at times, suggesting the film was highly emended in post edit, after the poor reaction it had in it’s screenings. Although the film’s ratings didn’t shoot off into space like the X-Men’s first mission, Jean’s ultimate powered rage delivered it with a huge punch.