By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
First “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” and now “Dark Phoenix”
is the latest, underwhelming, big-budget summer movie that’s poised to make a splash, or maybe just a soft-landing in theaters.
“Dark Phoenix,” from writer/director Simon Kinberg (“Logan” and “X-Men: Days of Future Past”), supposedly is the closing chapter in the “X-Men cinematic universe. If true, it’s a pretty weak send-off for such a beloved franchise. Fans deserve better.
“Dark Phoenix” begins promising. It’s 1975 and we meet Jean Grey (Summer Fontana, TV’s “The Originals”), an 8-year-old girl riding in a car with her parents. Her special telekinetic and telepathic abilities kick in resulting in a tragic accident.
Fast forward 17 years and we see Jean (now played by Sophie Turner, TV’s “Game of Thrones”), trying to adjust to her superpowers.
She’s being raised at an elite school for mutant kids that’s headed by Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy, “Split” and “Glass”). He has a special interest in Jean and claims to want what’s best for her.
Jean makes a solid impression with everyone including her teacher Beast (Nicholas Hoult, “Tolkien”) and students Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee, TV’s “Interrogation”), Storm (Alexandra Shipp, Upcoming “Shaft”), Quicksilver (Evan Peters, Upcoming, “I Am Woman”) and Jean’s boyfriend Scott/Cyclops (Tye Sheridan, “Deadpool 2”).
She also gets served a heavy dose of female empowerment from Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence, “Red Sparrow” ). She tells her not to be afraid to use her powers for the greater good and that “The women are always saving the men around here.”
Is that change about to come? Kind of.
Professor Xavier is soon called upon and asked to assemble the X-Men for a rescue mission of astronauts in a spaceship that’s been significantly damaged in Earth’s orbit.
If there’s anyone capable of pulling off such a feat, it’s this group. They have a variety of powers that can do most everything from teleporting and controlling the weather to self-duplication.
But things go off the rails considerably and a situation arises with Jean when she absorbs a powerful cosmic force that takes over her body and messes with her mind.
Now the mutants including Erik Lehnsherr /Magneto (Michael Fassbender, “The Snowman”) must decide if saving Jean is worth risking all of mankind.
They should also be worried about Vuk, (Sacramento’s own Jessica Chastain, “Molly’s Game”), a villainous shape-shifting alien who wants to control Jean for nefarious purposes.
It all sounds interesting, but under the direction and screenwriting of Simon Kinberg, it all becomes rather tedious.
The biggest problem with “Dark Phoenix” is despite such a fantastic cast, the story is cold and humorless.
“I suppose “Avengers: Endgame” set the bar way too high on how to wrap a series. A little more razzle-dazzle could have done wonders for “Dark Phoenix.”
It should have been so much better. Unfortunately, it’s just OK.
Be sure to catch my N2Entertainment.net movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays now at 6:20 p.m. on radio station KFBK 1530 AM and 93.1 FM.
Check Out This Trailer For "DARK PHOENIX"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC), The Alliance Of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ) and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.