Dark Phoenix

Critics Consensus

Dark Phoenix ends an era of the X-Men franchise by taking a second stab at adapting a classic comics arc -- with deeply disappointing results.

23%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 338

64%

Audience Score

Verified Ratings: 15,327
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Movie Info

In DARK PHOENIX, the X-MEN face their most formidable and powerful foe: one of their own, Jean Grey. During a rescue mission in space, Jean is nearly killed when she is hit by a mysterious cosmic force. Once she returns home, this force not only makes her infinitely more powerful, but far more unstable. Wrestling with this entity inside her, Jean unleashes her powers in ways she can neither comprehend nor contain. With Jean spiraling out of control, and hurting the ones she loves most, she begins to unravel the very fabric that holds the X-Men together. Now, with this family falling apart, they must find a way to unite -- not only to save Jean's soul, but to save our very planet from aliens who wish to weaponize this force and rule the galaxy.

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Cast

James McAvoy
as Professor Charles Xavier
Michael Fassbender
as Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto
Jennifer Lawrence
as Raven / Mystique
Nicholas Hoult
as Hank McCoy / Beast
Sophie Turner
as Jean Grey / Phoenix
Tye Sheridan
as Scott Summers / Cyclops
Alexandra Shipp
as Ororo Munroe / Storm
Kodi Smit-McPhee
as Kurt Wagner / Nightcrawler
Evan Peters
as Peter Maximoff / Quicksilver
Olivia Munn
as Psylocke
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News & Interviews for Dark Phoenix

Critic Reviews for Dark Phoenix

All Critics (338) | Top Critics (40)

Audience Reviews for Dark Phoenix

  • Jun 23, 2019
    This movie is an absolute mess. This is one of the most iconic stories in Marvel history and they don't respect it in the slightest. Instead of making it about sacrifice , responsibility, death and rebirth, they make it about feminism. how progressive of you fox. Taking the liberty of modern social issues and gender politics and completely degrading the tightly written literature that therein the Phoenix Saga! Despicable. They do not delve into the lore, The Pheonix Force, what is is, how it works, or anything.. No Shi'ar empire, No Hellfire Club, No Cyclops leading the team... nothing.
    Vincent T Super Reviewer
  • Jun 12, 2019
    We have come to the end of an era. The very first X-Men film was released in the year 2000, and since the purchase of 20th Century Fox by Disney, it became official that this franchise as we know it, will end very soon. The core storyline that has served as a loose prequel to the original three X-Men films has come to end, with a thud. Although I wouldn't say I hated this movie, it does present itself as a bit of a disgrace to fans of this franchise as a whole. Almost playing as a low-budget feature film, Dark Phoenix is a film that fails on pretty much everything it promises. Following the events of a mishap in space that ultimately gives Jean Grey the ability of endless power, she becomes the very thing the X-Men have learned to destroy. How she receives the power is blown over and how it comes to be the climax of the film is also ridiculous and overblown. As Jean's power hasn't been fully explored in previous films, her overpowered self seemed more than a little forced here. Personally, I found myself bored by this movie, simply because these characters didn't feel like they felt in any of the previous movies that preceded it. I would say, more than anything, Dark Phoenix is a film that feels like it needed extra work in the development of the screenplay. Simon Kinberg adapted this screenplay from the comic books alone, and while I believe he has been a great writer for this franchise in the past, I believe he took on a little more than he could handle. On top of writing the film, he also stepped into the director's chair. I do believe this man to be incredibly talented in certain areas and may possibly become an award-winning director in the future, but this was not the movie to start with. An amateur director with a budget of over 100 million dollars is usually not a good idea and this film proves that notion tenfold. Where this film does shine (for themes part), is in its performances. These actors/actresses have always been fantastic since their first appearances in the films, X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and X-Men: Apocalypse. Although a few of them may have been phoned in for reasons that shouldn't even be mentioned in the review itself, this is a movie that's riddled with talent from beginning to end. Overall, Dark Phoenix marks the ending to this era of X-Men films, and for that alone, many will look at this instalment as possibly the worst in the franchise. It tries to finish this new story, while also tying loose ends from the past, but honestly fails at accomplishing either. There are a few moments of levity here and honestly aspects of the movie that brought me to tears, but only because I was invested in the previous movies. Dark Phoenix brings nothing new to the table and ultimately feels like an independent superhero movie with a big budget to back it up, but not capitalizing on any of that. More than anything, I'm disappointed.
    KJ P Super Reviewer
  • Jun 10, 2019
    While it may not be as wasteful as it was anticipated to be, it also feels like an underplayed effort for a franchise that's closing its chapter under the 20th Century Fox banner for nearly 20 years. Dark Phoenix has salvagable action and performances, but its meddling story and flat, rushed pacing felt more disappointing than terrible. 2.5/5
    Eugene B Super Reviewer
  • Jun 09, 2019
    Dark Phoenix is the end of the X-Men as we know it. The franchise is arguably the reason that Disney bought Fox, to combine its Marvel properties under one creative universe, and hastened its ultimate demise. The franchise kicked off in 2000 when nobody knew what a Hugh Jackman was. Over the course of 19 years we've had ten total X-films (the original trilogy, four prequels, three Wolverine solo films — I'm not counting the two Deadpool entries) of varying quality. Dark Phoenix is longtime series writer Simon Kinberg's debut as a director and was originally intended for a fall 2018 release before it got pushed back for extensive reshoots. There was even some doubt whether Disney would release Dark Phoenix or shunt it to its new streaming service (that's my prediction for the long-delayed New Mutants, which released its trailer… in 2017). Ultimately this is the final X-Men movie, as we have known them for 19 years, and it's the equivalent of a mayonnaise sandwich at room temperature: something nobody really wanted and delivered in a package not designed to satisfy. In 1992, the X-Men are called upon by the president when the government is left with no other options. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) watches over as shape-shifting Mystique/Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) leads the younger X-kids, Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) and Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Storm (Alexandra Shipp), into space to save some astronauts. A strange cosmic energy cloud zaps Jean Grey and supercharges her telekinetic powers. At first she feels more alive but is losing control and worrying her friends. After a tragic confrontation, she runs off to find Magneto (Michael Fassbender) while a mysterious alien woman (Jessica Chastain) seeks to gain the "phoenix" powers. Thoroughly mediocre, Dark Phoenix is a pitiful ending to a franchise that kicked off the superhero era of the twenty-first century. This is a pretty sad ending to a franchise that has admittedly had more downs than ups (I'd say four of the ten X-Men movies have genuinely been good, two were fine, and four have been different levels of bad). What's even more peculiar is this is Kinberg's second attempt at the Dark Phoenix storyline, arguably the most famous in X-Men comics, and it doesn't work — again. At least 2006's The Last Stand had other storylines that presented topics of interest, like the choice over taking a mutant cure and whether this should be a choice after all. The problem with Dark Phoenix is that it's nothing but Dark Phoenix with little variation but it doesn't ever expand on the Dark Phoenix dilemma. Act Two of the film seems to consist of the same scene on repeat, where Jean Grey complains about her power struggles to some character, warns them, doesn't want to harm people, and then something bad happens and more characters elect to try and murder her. It's like watching the same TV show recycle the same plot but just changing the characters. It makes for a saggy mid section that loses momentum and cannot regain it. The last act feels like a different movie because… it is. Thanks to late reshoots, the final act is a series of clashes aboard a military train. There are some fun moments of mutant-power action, especially Magneto and Nightcrawler. It doesn't make much sense to what came before (when questioned why Magneto is trying to save Jean after literally trying to kill her ten minutes earlier, he says, "I had a change of heart") but the sequence is at least diverting and visually playful in a way the rest of the movie had been missing. By the end of the film, much of it feels rushed and little feels earned, especially the time you've spent watching it. I'm going to declare that the villains in Dark Phoenix are actually the worst in the entire universe of X-Men movies. They're aliens adopting human form and they talk… so… slowly… and in unshakable monotone. They're an alien species that wants the powers of the super space cloud. That's it. That's all you get. I have no idea what attracted Jessica Chastain (Molly's Game) to this role and almost feel like it must have changed at some point. She walks around in a zombie-like daze with a giant platinum blonde wig that makes her look like an albino. At no point are any of these aliens interesting. At no point do they present personalities. At no point does their overall powers become clear. They seem invulnerable to anything, except when the script needs them not to be, and their vaguely defined powers seem limitless. Because of the creative choices with Jean Grey and how she developed her Dark Phoenix powers, extra emphasis is placed on the villains to carry the burden, and they could be eliminated entirely and not be missed in the slightest. It's genuinely hilarious to watch them walk so stiltedly and then break into a run. The best thing Chastain does is strut in stilettos while taking a dozen blasting firearms to the face. There are just some weird moments in this movie. Apparently Charles Xavier watches the students have their beer blasts in the woods and also keeps a thermal heat analysis of them during these moments ("That student's really hot… I mean… getting really hot…, uh…"). That's so weird and possibly perverted. There's a running clothing item with blood that never gets changed. You'll listen to "whose blood is that?" close to ten times. It's always been inherently goofy watching these trained actors make silly strained faces while pretending to do things with their mind powers. Except this movie it goes a step further. There's a moment of goofy strain face versus goofy strain face while the actors thrust their arms out, and there's a scene where Jean Grey only has one arm out and then, to power up, she throws out her second arm. That's not how mind powers work. There are several character jumps that seem rushed and unearned, like Charles becoming a focal point of disdain amongst his fellow X-people over his catering to public relations. Everyone is so quick to jump on the murder wagon when it comes to Jean Grey, which makes me wonder if they never really liked her and have just been waiting for a good excuse to kill her. The seesawing public support on mutants can be extremely confusing. The action sequences are filmed in a very haphazard way with replenishing bad guys to be disposed. During key stretches of the movie, I didn't know who was on screen, where they had come from, and what relations they were to one another until punches started being thrown. Continuity has never been a thing the X-universe cherished, especially once you started throwing in time travel with 2014's Days of Future Past. However, Dark Phoenix complicates matters with its disregard for the overall continuity. Firstly, I am not a fan of the idea that these prequel films all take place in separate decades. It worked with First Class which tied the cultural revolutions and changing mores to the characters and their selfI identity, plus the Cold War paranoia. It even worked for Days of Future Past being set in the early 70s, during the malaise of the optimism of the 1960s. That related to the character arc for Raven on her quest for vengeance and the individual versus society. But what did Apocalypse have to gain by taking place in 1983? What does Dark Phoenix gain by taking place in 1992? Plus it means that these characters have hardly aged in 30 years and in less than a decade James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are going to look like Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen (no offense to McKellen, but that's quite a sudden, precipitous drop). Let's even say the older movies are eliminated from the timeline after the reboot of Days of Future Past. Just in the LAST movie they established that Jean Grey had the powerful phoenix spirit and abilities within her, as it was the final push to topple the bad guy. Allow me to get into more detail why this disregard is so troublesome and erroneous. Judging from the trailers and marketing, I thought Dark Phoenix was going to be an addiction metaphor, with Jean Grey embracing a self-destructive thrill that made her feel good even as it pushed others away and forced her down a darker path. Despite the ads emphasizing this aspect, the actual movie ignores this addiction metaphor for a cosmic illness she contracts. Kinberg and the filmmakers have dropped that Jean Grey had this power within her and have made her a victim of an external force from space. This is far less interesting because it makes the story of Jean as reactive from external forces taking over. Space clouds resembling a pink Parallax (the poop cloud monster from 2011's Green Lantern) did it all. That's boring. Think of the stronger version already within reach that examined the power within her that Charles has been keeping limited thanks to withholding her memories of her parent's deadly accident. Because she was denied this essential part of her past she was never able to process her trauma and work through it. The man she trusted, the father figure telling her how to best control her feelings and powers has been inhibiting her the whole time and manipulating her. That betrayal could reignite the power already within her, and her journey would be about self-discovery while also confronting the gaslighting by those she trusted. You could even go further and have Charles eventually revealed as a villain for psychically altering people's memories and minds to his ideal of what is right. That's the better movie. They might as well have gone all-out and ended with the destruction of the Earth and the death of everybody we know because why not? What we get with Dark Phoenix is a woman who glows a lot thanks to an inscrutable pink space cloud. It's hard for these talented actors to hide their disinterest; some have been eyeing the exits since the last film. I challenge every reader to look at the painting of Chastain's face on the very poster, which to me reads loudly, "Let's just get this thing done with." Turner (HBO's Game of Thrones) is the best thing in the movie and yet the screenplay doesn't give her an actual character arc with depth. It feels like she has three or four stages in the movie where Kinberg just asks her to repeat the same note over and over. Many of the actors that have been here since 2011's First Class feel like they're on autopilot. It's simply another level of mediocrity that ends up defining this disappointing movie. If you asked writer/director Simon Kinberg, in private so he could be truly honest, whether he would have repeated what happens in Dark Phoenix as the very last X-Men movie, and I legitimately think he would say no. That's the problem with the movie is that it's a double dip that, surprisingly, doesn't get better. The story is boring and repetitive, the action is bland, the characters are at the mercy of a story that has no interest in them, and the resolution does not provide any satisfying finality. It feels like the close of a weekly television episode that knows more is to come except it's been cancelled. The X-Men movies have been at their best when they've been about something, when they've gone inside their characters and the conflicts of living in a society of oppression and prejudice and fear. The franchise lends itself to being more than spandex-clad superheroes fighting each other. The division between the good X-Men movies and the bad X-Men movies is wide and clear; nobody is going to put Logan and Apocalypse in the same grade. It's easy to tell when the plots connect to character and have exciting themes to go with their exciting action sequences. Coming to a shrug-worthy series conclusion, I think I'd rather rewatch The Last Stand than the second go-round of the Phoenix saga. The X-Men ultimately go out with a whimper but that doesn't take away from the greatness of the other films. It's been nearly two decades, and I'm grateful for the ride, but it's a shame it had to end this way. Nate's Grade: C-
    Nate Z Super Reviewer

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