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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Dark Phoenix | Sophie Turner, James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence | Review

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4sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is GOOD Judy Thorburn

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4lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is GOOD

 

 

Dark Phoenix

The release of Dark Phoenix marks the culmination of 20th Century Fox's X-Men movie franchise that began almost twenty years ago. Notice I say Fox's X-Men movie franchise, because with Disney's recent purchase of Fox, and as parent company of Marvel Studios, it is inevitable there will be an X-Men reboot for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in the not too distant future. Be that as it may, let me stick with my review.

Making his directorial debut from the script he wrote, is the franchise's longtime writer/producer Simon Kinberg who delivers an origin or back story about the mutant female, Jean Grey, who possesses telekinetic powers, and how she evolved into the most dangerous, ultra powerful, and destructive Dark Phoenix.

The movie opens in 1975. After a deadly car crash in which her parents were killed, a pre-teen Jean is taken in by Professor Charles Xavier (the always excellent James McAvoy) at his school for mutants. The story then fast forwards to 1992. At the request of the U.S. President, Professor Xavier sends the X-Men on a rescue mission to save the spaceship Endeavor and its astronauts who have encountered what is believed to be a solar flare. Jean (Game of Thrones star, Sophie Turner), now a young adult, is sent to stop it, but things go awry when she is hit by, what turns out to be, a cosmic force that enters her body. Nearly killing her, she is transformed into an unstable,”off the charts”, strong and powerful destructive force, causing her to spiral out of control and threatens not only the lives of her mutant family but the entire world.

When one of their own is killed by Jean, the mutants are torn apart, with most on a quest to find and save her and one out to seek revenge.

In the meantime, a race of sinister, shape shifting aliens, led by Vuk (Jessica Chastain) in bleach blonde, stone faced, stiletto wearing, human form, is set on tracking down Jean and harnessing this cosmic force, which is the greatest power in the galaxy, so the displaced alien race can use it as a weapon and take over the planet.

Rounding out the supporting cast, actors returning as younger versions of their mutant counterparts include Jennifer Lawrence as Raven/Mystique; Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy / Beast ; Tye Sheridan as Scott Summers / Cyclops; Alexandra Shipp as Ororo Munroe / Storm; Kodi Smit-McPhee as Kurt Wagner / Nightcrawler; Evan Petersas Peter Maximoff / Quicksilver; and Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto. Each are given some screen time and moments to show off their distinct, individual super powers. The charismatic Fassbender is a standout, but the lead character and central focus is on Jean Grey/Dark Phoenix. Sophie Turner anchors the film and does a terrific job embodying the titular character who becomes mentally and physically unhinged as she struggles to understand and tries to get a grip on what has happened to her while repressed memories from her childhood tragedy pop up, lies are revealed, and rage takes over. The young actress (who recently married pop star Joe Jonas) credibly conveys Jean's inner turmoil of pain, sorrow, guilt and fear.

So there you have the gist of it, without giving away too much for moviegoing fans of the genre. Suffice to add that there is a good blend of drama, interesting emotional conflicts, great CGI effects, and well executed, top notch action sequences, along with themes of fitting in, loyalty, family, and love. All in all, despite a few headscratching moments, as a stand alone film, I found Dark Phoenix to be a good piece of sci fi fantasy entertainment, well worth seeing. It might be the final installment of X-Men from Fox, but, I am eager to see how X-Men, like the Phoenix, will rise from the ashes and come alive again in the Marvel Cinema Universe.


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