X-Men: Dark Phoenix Movie Review - Raising the Dead...or is it dread?

Updated: Jun 10, 2019, 18:47 IST | Johnson Thomas | Mumbai

X-Men: Dark Phoenix Movie may be the current series' swan song but it's not exactly a memorable one!

X-Men: Dark Phoenix still
X-Men: Dark Phoenix still

X-Men: Dark Phoenix
U/A; Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Cast: Sophie Turner, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Tye Sheridan, Jessica Chastain, Evan Peters, Nicholas Hoult, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Hannah Emily Anderson
Director: Simon Kinberg
Rating: Rating

This film is essentially the end of the current X-Men franchise. A new series is expected to be relaunched by Marvel Studios as part of the Marvel Cinematic universe- so in effect the last hurrah for the current bunch of much-adulated power wielders. Disney/Fox is projecting this film as a culmination of 20 years of X-men movies and the late embargo preventing reviewers from outing their critical thoughts on its quality signifies the Studio's desperate need to control the initial narrative so as not to affect its opening Box office numbers.

The story is no surprise for comic book fans and avid toon watchers. 25 years after X-Men: The Animated Series introduced us to Dark Phoenix( comprising eight episodes), the same story is getting a big-budget live action mark-up. So other than a few unfamiliar twists and big-ticket visuals there's no big secret to hide in here. There's no great buzz surrounding the film, other than that caused by the unusual embargo – so you don't have much expectations going in. Luckily, director Simon Kinberg's treatment is such that you feel inveigled by the almost mysterious dark tone and tenor of the narrative. In DARK PHOENIX, the X-MEN face their most formidable and powerful foe. Jean Grey (Sophie Turner in a major lead role following the success of Game of Thrones), during a rescue mission in outer space is nearly killed when she is hit by a mysterious cosmic flare-up. On her return to earth she finds herself spiralling out-of-control with powers she can neither comprehend nor contain. And the inevitable happens- she ends up hurting the ones she loves most unravelling the very fabric that held the X-Men together.

The tempo is evocative as Hans Zimmer's signature orchestrations help you along, drumming up some emotion as the X men find themselves in a catch 22 situation - fighting amongst themselves while deciding to kill or show compassion to the evil wielding force that has taken complete control over one of their own. With Magneto Erik (Fassbender), the rebel, returning, Raven(Jennifer Lawrence) finding herself clueless on how to deal with the powerful new force, Dr X(James McAvoy) trying hard to ally his team with the humans – it's a nuanced assay into ethics, morality and gender equality territory. Raven, after the successful outer space rescue mission, questions the very validity of the moniker X men. "It should be called X women' she opines " as all the successful missions of late have been led by women."

Watch the final trailer of X-Men: Dark Phoenix

Other than facile tokenism, there's not much depth in this telling. It's difficult for the audience to empathise with the central character, Jean's, dilemma and despite the back story there are not enough moments written-in, that allow us to feel for her plight. The 'Grey' areas remain unresolved largely – so for most of the narrative runtime we feel dazzled by the technical aspects ( CGI, VFX , make-up, costumes, action choreography, cinematography etc.) but remain emotionally untouched. The performances by the A-listers are dramatically intense but they too are unable to bridge the yawning disenchantment caused by emotional dysfunction. This may be the current series' swan song but it's not exactly a memorable one!

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