Movie Review - Dark Phoenix
In that, it's similar to Avengers: Endgame, which preceded it by two months. That record-breaking blockbuster featured a lot of nostalgia with characters looking or remembering moments from previous films. It also possessed some notable deaths and some characters seemingly riding off into the sunset, retiring as it were. It's doubtful that writer-director Simon Kinberg had access to the script for Avengers: Endgame, but who knows? If not, then the similarities only expose the predictability or laziness that filmmakers for these kinds of super-hero stories have.
Fridging is when a female character is either de-powered or killed in order to motivate a male character into doing some action, typically seek vengeance and commit violent acts himself. Fridging is a misogynistic and offensive trope that occurs in comic book and action stories. It's a term that was coined in the 1990's, but in the nearly 30 years since its identification, it continues to be a problem. In fact, last year's entry in this franchise, Deadpool 2 was also accused of fridging its main female character. Kinberg would have been aware of those criticisms and perhaps had time to address them, but he doesn't.
The plot involves the X-Men being sent into space to save some American astronauts who had been attacked by what looks like a solar flare but is some kind of living energy. Jean ends up absorbing that living energy and it becomes a part of her, making her the most powerful being on Earth. That origin is akin to how Captain Marvel got her powers and what her status became. Like Captain Marvel, Jean's memory was also erased or blocked. The difference is that Captain Marvel was trained to use and control her god-like power. Jean wasn't trained or even allowed herself to be trained. She loses control and hurts some people and then believes herself a danger, so she just runs away.
Other than the whole alien invasion plot, the premise of this film is one that I don't buy. The alien invasion isn't the least believable thing about this film. What's unbelievable is what Professor X aka Charles Xavier, played by James McAvoy (Split and Atonement) does. Professor X basically erases Jean's memory of the car crash that killed her mother and caused her father to give her away. I don't understand and I don't think the film ever explains why Professor X does so because I don't think he's ever done so before in this film series. The 2000 film for example was the opposite. Professor X was trying to help Wolverine remember his past and his trauma, not forget it, so I don't get his choice here.
In terms of action, not much of it is interesting or memorable. There is a train hijacking scene toward the end that is okay, but it's not worth the price of admission. If one wants to see a better version of this story, check out X-Men: The Animated Series. The third season of that show, which aired in 1994, did the character of Jean Grey extremely better than this.
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence, action, gunplay, disturbing images and language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 53 mins.