In this, the last Fox produced “X Men” film, a big structural problem comes to the moviemakers. Like the Marvel movie creation, “Captain Marvel,” what can you do with a character with what amounts to infinite powers? In “Dark Phoenix” the moviemakers spend $200 million to show us.
Clever of them and lucky for us they cast beautiful and talented “Game of Thrones” star Sophie Turner in the title role. In the “X Men” films, the characters have special powers of one sort or another. Phoenix has special powers but the scale of her gifts takes things to a level far beyond what any of the others possesses. Lord Acton taught us that power corrupts and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. The “Dark Phoenix” has by our standards, absolute power.
Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sharidan, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender return to play their respective parts as powerful mutants. Jessica Chastain has at last been enticed into a Marvel film after declining two other roles from the studio.
Simon Kinberg might not have much experience as a director but he has a long history in Hollywood as a producer and a writer. This makes his first outing as a director, and a big one at that.
Six writers appear on the credits as part of the writing team. Kinberg gets the credit for the screenplay.
The overburdened script has too much going on for us to care much about a particular character. He has bad mutants, good mutants, regular humans who mostly soak up abuse and the Dark Phoenix herself. Then he throws in space aliens. Too much by half.
The best superhero films give us enough space to appreciate the characters. Not here. So when someone gets into a tight spot we care about as much as we care about a random bad guy in a “John Wick” movie. Not much.
Director Kinberg, one of his three hats for this film, casts Jessica Chastain, twice nominated for an Oscar for her skill, as an alien who never changes her expression. He hides a superior actress behind a Kabuki mask. Not good.
I did like hearing a few bars of “Werewolf of London.” I liked seeing Sophie Turner as a being so powerful that she could create or destroy worlds. But all else was for naught.
The $200 million extravaganza that is “Dark Phoenix” has a mild PG-13 rating. It runs for a solid one hour and 53 minutes. I give it a miserable two sawblades. I like it a little more than most critics.
The amazingly prolific Hans Zimmer produced the score for “Dark Phoenix.” Zimmer has scored 134 movies. He snatched the Oscar of his score of “Lion King,” the film for which Elton John grabbed the gilded gewgaw for best song.
For good or ill, the parting shots gave us the hope of a new film in the series.