“I don’t know what’s happening to me!” is the most recurrent sentence that you’ll hear in the first hour of #DarkPhoenix, along with some variations of the same. Jean Grey doesn’t know what’s happening, she’s scared of whatever is changing her and making her hurt her loved ones. I know what is going on there. A saga reached its (really likely) end in the most forgettable and silent way. No epic memories, no legendary moments and definitely no consistency: let’s be honest, the latest X-Men chapter is not a complete disaster, but it’s for sure one of the worst (if not the worst) film of the mutants so far. Shame is, it could be the last installment in a saga that got millions of fun excited and that was one of the most successful within Marvel’s stint on the big screen, despite some highs and lows (Apocalypse, anyone?).
A saga that always seemed to have something to say, something to tell in every story, dealing with delicate topics like social diversity and its acceptation, or the feeling that our heroes were actually fighting for the greater good, against the human hate towards the mutant. Writers seemed to forget everything that happened before and what is supposedly about to happen in the universe timeline: characters with sudden (and unexplained) change of personality are the biggest evidence of script problems that could have definitely being avoided. The film lasts for a time of almost two hours but it feels so hollow that you can probably remember only one hour of it. It lacks of structure, the central part is clearly missing as it seems the film is developing into one direction but then it turns away and it heads straight toward the end. But let’s get into details: as usual, stop here with reading if you don’t want to have spoilers!
One of the first things to leave me confused is Charles Xavier sudden change: the film starts and it looks like McAvoy character has become arrogant, selfish and ambitious in a snap of a finger, without any explanation at all. He is always been the good guy no matter how harsh the situation was, against everyone, so it is a bit alienating to start the film in such a way. It could have been an interesting character development if only they had given us some time to see him actually change and accept it, before making him come back to his starting point, as it’s exactly what happens later on, again with a sudden change of mind. Did he follow some advice from his long-time enemy/friend Magneto? Fassbender’s character had already been shattered in X-Men Apocalypse, and this time the writers have shown no mercy for the poor Erik Lehnsherr, once again. Similar to the previous film, indeed, we find Magneto on a deserted island leading a mutant community, living in peace and authorised by the US government. After his several change of factions it is insane to make him change behavior for the umpteenth time. After he finds out that Jean killed Raven, he suddenly comes back to who he was in his early ages: a violent and ruthless murderer, blinded by vengeance.
And of course, in the final battle he changes his mind again: this time this quick turn is pointed out by Magneto himself, saying “I had a change of mind”. I can’t tell if that’s supposed to be a joke or whatever, but it’s pretty lame to see him swapping sides every single film. Did anyone had enough of this sudden changes of personalities? Also, in the film both Erik and Charles are supposedly around 60 years old, since the film it’s set in 1992. I’d say they look quite good for being in their sixties, especially Magneto; are they supposed to become their respective older counterparts (Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart) in 10 years? That would be a really fast aging process, to say the least.
Then, we get to Jennifer Lawrence‘s character. Raven in this film has been totally mistreated and Lawrence itself looked she didn’t care about the mutant anymore.
Her performance doesn’t transmit any emotion whatsoever, and it’s really sad as she’s usually an amazing actress. She looked quite off during her whole screen time, even though the script didn’t help her at all. Raven dies in the most predictable way, killed by accident by Jean and his Dark Phoenix powers, between the general indifference: it is like her death is just the pretext to spark a new reason of conflict between Xavier and Magneto.
Now to the bad guy (bad girl, this time). Jessica Chastain’s villain is the lowest, lamest and unconvincing villain ever: I can’t even remember her character name without googling it (it’s Vuk, by the way, the leader of the alien race D’Bari, an information the writers thought it wasn’t important to let us know during the film). Sometimes in all the Marvel film so far it happened that the villain didn’t have the best characterization, but at least it was a real threat to the main characters: this time, Chastain is just a bad girl that tries to manipulate Jean Grey to reach her goals. Then completely out of the blue she remembers that she could have just stolen her powers all along, fails, and in the last battle she’s just out-powered with no chance of victory, but, for some reason, Jean has still to sacrifice herself to kill her. Jean. Our supposedly main character whose actress name isn’t even the first name to appear during the credits. Because, matter of facts, Sophie Turner looks like she’s never the star of the film which is supposed to be about her and her Phoenix. Sophie is a good actress, but as the leading actor along a strong cast like this she never rises and her attempts to look like she’s evil are just hilarious, and sometimes it almost looks like she’s about to have an orgasm. Zimmer’s soundtrack is the only thing that really stands out during the film, even if sometimes it could have been used a little bit more wisely.
The film end with Jean’s sacrifice to save her friends from her and her powers, rising high in space to prevent the explosion to deal any real damage. A death nobody believed in as, not long after, before the credits start we spot the Phoenix flying in the background sky, letting us know that Jean is not really dead and that she will be back from her ashes. Something that it’s not gonna happen about the mutant saga, now that this universe will likely become part of the MCU, after Fox sold the X-Men copyrights to the Disney. Probably there will be a reboot for every character and a recast is the most likely outcome, leaving us just with the ashes of this saga that we loved. Ashes that hopefully will lead to a new, fresh and exciting life within the MCU in the near future.