by Evan Brown
Rated M. Starring Sophie Turner, Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender. Directed by Simon Kinberg.
It’s been three years since the last X-Men franchise film – X-Men: Apocalypse (Logan and Deadpool 2 don’t really count), and when actor Sophie Turner debuted as a teenage Jean Grey. Now she has fully evolved, no longer the naïve and innocent super hero, she’s now the Queen of the North but more importantly she also has her own movie: X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
Dark Phoenix is the origin story of mutant Jean Grey aka Phoenix. For those who aren’t familiar with the comics or the movies, Jean Grey can basically do anything and everything – read minds, move things with her mind, fly, shoot lasers out of her hands and eyes. She’s super intense!
As the saying goes, “with great power comes great responsibility” (thanks Uncle Ben), and Jean Grey has to come to terms with her incredible abilities and whether she should use them for good or for evil. On top of this all this, Jean Grey and the X-Men have to deal with an alien invasion lead by Vuk (Chastain) who want to harness Jean’s powers to destroy Earth.
Not a bad premise for a summer blockbuster, however X-Men Dark Phoenix is underwhelming and doesn’t really deliver. But how could it go wrong with such an enormously talented cast?
Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult and Jessica Chastain are all incredibly talented in their craft however even their performances couldn’t save this one. The film is a tad boring and the main character Jean Grey is a little bland. There isn’t a huge range of light and shade in her character and she is super serious all the time except for when she is angry. It’s kind of hard to relate to a protagonist who doesn’t show much human emotion. We know Sophie Turner is a competent actor (Barely Lethal, Game of Thrones) but a couple of more light-hearted moments would have delivered in spades in terms of her character development and rapport with the audience.
Dark Phoenix needed some of that Marvel-winning formula: a serious plot with a few funny bits around the sides to lighten the mood, which hopefully we will see in the future now that Disney has bought Fox (fingers crossed, anyway). There are some cool moments though; Raven asking why it isn’t called “X-Women”, and basically any scene with Nightcrawler teleporting in and out of everything – he was awesome.
Despite this film’s lack of human depth there was a very warming scene where Charles Xavier explains to a young Jean Grey about gifts and abilities. He explains to her that a gift is just a gift and it is up to the individual on what to do with it. Do you use it for yourself, for others, for good, for evil or not even use it at all? It’s a deep moment and one that continues to resonate throughout the entire film as Jean Grey battles her metaphorical demons.
Similarly, Christianity believes that everyone has been given incredible gift – the gift of God’s love. 1 John 4:9,11 tells us:
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him… Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
Just like any gift, it’s up to the individual on what to do with it. It can be accepted, rejected, used for good or used for evil. Unfortunately there are people in this world that will try to use God’s love as an excuse for alienation and persecution, which is sad because it is not a true representation of God’s love and is not an example of living through Jesus (1 John 4:9). For those who follow Jesus, the best way is to share God’s love in a way that honours Jesus – speaking and acting in love towards everyone despite beliefs, lifestyles and opinions.
The Verdict: Dark Phoenix is far from the best X-Men movie to date but there are some cool throwbacks to the 90s cartoon series and comics that will pull at the nostalgia heart strings. Still waiting for that yellow spandex to make a comeback though! 2/5
X-Men: Dark Phoenix is in cinemas now.