The X-Men get a mission in space which goes wrong. Afterwards, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) develops incredible powers which corrupt her. Now it’s up to Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), Erik Lehnsherr aka Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) and the rest of the superhero team to save Jean or save the world from her.
Everything about ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’ is painfully conventional and terribly dull. From Jean Grey’s origins being established in the opening scene as we see her powers discovered in childhood, everything that follows is so predictable that anyone with a vague knowledge of the superhero genre could write the thing themselves. We’ve come to a point in superhero movies where we want more humour, more depth of emotion, something of interest or tangibility to keep us invested. ‘Dark Phoenix’ plays it safe, standard and – it needs to be reiterated – dull.
While adequate, even the CGI and action scenes lack imagination. One feels that it could be down to the inexperience of Simon Kinberg, this being his directorial debut (he was a writer and producer on several of the ‘X-Men’ movies, including ‘Last Stand’, and produced the likes of ‘Logan’ and ‘Deadpool’ so there’s a fair background of experience on the genre there). But then you wonder, why didn’t he get more back-up from the cast for his first time around? Everyone just seems so bored making this film, and that sense of boredom is infectious. It’s impossible to say out of a cast that features such talent as James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence who is the standout. No one is trying all that hard.
Aspects of the film like the conflict between McAvoy’s Charles and Lawrence’s Raven, and the morality of Xavier and Magneto being somewhat swapped, are touched on and dropped. Jessica Chastain as the alien villain seems misdirected in her role, just acting a bit weird and bewildered. Sophie Turner is giving her all but the character is so moany and irritating that she’s difficult to sympathise with.
There’s no sense of anticipation or momentum in ‘Dark Phoenix’. You wait and hope that it’ll kick off and/or surprise you, but it never does. The first hour is given away by the trailers anyway, and even after that, it drags, lacking anything original, creative or clever. It's worse then 'Apocalypse.' The only good thing that can be said for it is at least they’ve realised this generation of ‘X-Men’ has run out of steam, and it’ll be the last film in the current series.