Dark Phoenix

Blu-ray Disc - 2019
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The story of one of the X-Men's most beloved characters, Jean Grey, as she evolves into her iconic alter ego. During a life-threatening rescue mission in space, Jean is hit by a cosmic force that transforms her into one of the most powerful mutants of all. Wrestling with this increasingly unstable power as well as her own personal demons, Jean spirals out of control, tearing the X-Men family apart and threatening to destroy the very fabric of our planet.
Publisher: Beverly Hills, CA : Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, [2019]
Edition: Blu-Ray
Branch Call Number: ACTION 791.43652 X-MEN
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (114 min.) : sound, color ; 4 3/4 in.
5.1 Dolby digital,2.0 Dolby digital
video file
region A


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Sep 21, 2019

Until the very end of the movie, I felt it was much better than many critics would have us believe. Certainly equal to Days of Future Past and superior to Apocalypse. I didn't mind the relatively unimportant changes from the original story, e.g., the movie uses aliens in place of the Hellfire Club. However, the writer and/or director did make one change at the very end that completely negated the emotional impact of the entire story, a change that IMO is decidedly contrary to the theme of the saga. Sometimes movie makers get so caught up in details, they lose sight of a story's core element. Sadly, I believe that's what happened here. The movie is worth a viewing, but it could have been much better. Maybe when X-Men is rebooted yet again the folks in charge will finally do justice to the Phoenix saga.

Sep 17, 2019

Dark Phoenix: A defense.

The critical consensus seems to have come down pretty hard on this movie, and far be it from me to question the validity of so, so much effort expended on 1 star reviews, but I will push back on this narrative in my own small way and leave it for you, esteemed reader, to decide.

Unlike the vast majority of films we've seen them in it is 1992 (the same year the X-Men TV cartoon series started, among other things) and the X-Men are riding high in the public's esteem- Professor X even has a direct landline to the Oval Office and revels in his role as a Special Advisor to the U.S. President. This culminates in his unilateral choice to send his spiffily uniformed "superheroes" into space to rescue a shuttle mission gone awry. And, from this final decision grounded in his own hubris, Xavier unwittingly sets off a chain of events that will lead to decades of deceit coming to light and the near destruction of all life on Earth, mutant or otherwise (not quite Infinity War level stakes, but pretty damn high).

I don't intend to dissect the plot so I'll leave it there, but I will make mention of the performances before moving on to how I feel the picture fits into the series and the general zeitgeist of 2019.

James McAvoy has done some great work throughout the series, with perhaps his high watermark the disaffected early-70s Junky Charles of "Days of Future Past" but he absolutely nails the smugness and self-righteousness needed for this version of the character while at the same time reminding us of his youthful idealism and core goodness as a person, all while putting him through a wringer of emotions and regret.

Michael Fassbender as Magneto- what more need be said? I'll always be a fan of Ian McKellan as well, but there is one reaction shot in this movie in which his rage and remorse come welling up and you can't help but internally applaud a master actor at work.

As for the lead, Sophie Turner was dealt a challenging role and rose to the occasion. Even with all the post-production digital effects raging around and, in some cases, on her you can't help but notice the depth of feeling she's pulling from to portray a deeply conflicted and confused young person.

Before the accusations of rose tinted glasses, though, I will admit that supporting characters like Cyclops, Mystique and Storm (shocker!) were underacted, but Jessica Chastain's otherworldly turn as the villainous Vuk was much stronger than I'd expected- she does bad pretty good.

Final thoughts: coming hard on the heels of the "Avengers Endgame" spectacle and, more importantly, after "Captain Marvel", "Wonder Woman", and the era of #MeToo in general I think a film that ostensibly positions a troubled young woman into apparent victimhood, particularly of her own emotions, would be pushing against the general tide. Add to that the appearance that a male parental figure
like Charles is trying to save her, along with Cool Uncle Erik and committed nice guy boyfriend Scott and the dissonance goes further. Examined on its own merits and story, however, I think the Jean does achieve her own agency and makes the most important choices for herself when she needs to, and several scenes also deal with coming to terms with past mistakes, admitting culpability and striving to be better, which are certainly universal themes just as relevant today as ever.

PS: Oh yeah, Hans Zimmer's score is pretty weighty and dread inducing, I feel it worked well with the themes of the film but I did miss the touch of the classic John Kamen X-Men movies theme at least a little.

JCLZachC Jul 29, 2019

There are plenty of issues to nitpick, but the overwhelming feeling after this one was positive because the quality of the moments when it did deliver, in spite of the baggage I brought into the film from previous entries. Sophie Turner is one of the bright spots, she is excellent as Jean Grey. The movie also succeeds in setting up some fist-pumping character moments in the big action set pieces.


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