A Rather Late and Random Review of X-men: Dark Phoenix

The only thing more embarrassing about how long its taken to see this movie, is that I haven’t posted anything since July!

I hope its not too hurtful to consider X-men Dark Phoenix to be a bad movie, it seems if anything to be one of the more derogated superhero films and I confess I do hold a certain fascination for what it is exactly that makes a film “bad.”

DP has the added enjoyment of being quite strangely bad. It’s like an uncanny valley situation where almost all parts of it are a near-miss in terms of being almost good, even great, but somehow nothing quite fits right.

The first issue is that DP doesn’t really have a main character. This is actually kind of an X-men thing where due to the emphasis on an ensemble team character development gets very diluted – usually this is solved by focusing on Wolverine or in the case of First Class on Xavier and Magneto. DP doesn’t know who it wants you to focus on – is it Jean herself? Or is she the villain/damsel/mcguffin. Xavier kind of has a hubris/downfall character arc but doesn’t really do anything throughout.

Thing is – the story actually starts pretty well, with a tension between an overly giddy Xavier who thanks to his hard work is buddies with the president, and the older member of the team who feel he is losing touch. This isn’t too bad a setup for the X-men disagreeing on how to deal with Phoenix, but its kind of ruined by shoehorning magneto back in to the mix as the ‘kill her’ faction. Oddly The plot would be a lot more effective if either faction even had a chance – as mentioned the flaws of DP are strange, by making Jean all powerful it saps tension from the conflict between how to deal her because she can’t be defeated by Magneto or reached by Xavier.

I don’t really want to get into the aliens because they are just so utterly senseless and poorly handled – not that I wanted this exactly but at no point to the movie did anyone actually address that their were friggin aliens, and their shallow and 2D presentation was almost pointless. It would have been far more interesting to see Jean attempt to navigate her power without alien influence.

There are many more odd flaws, the action had some cool moments but was almost all stilted and directionless, less detailed than the 90s cartoon which I’m working through on Disney+ right now!

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