I did not see X-Men: Dark Phoenix in theaters because it was universally panned. I was looking forward to watching it on a flight at some point, but with the state of the world, I decided to watch it at home. I think it would be an acceptable plane movie on a tiny seatback screen when you can’t do anything else. If you are going to watch it at home and are known to partake in an adult beverage, I encourage you to line a few up.
When the first reviews were being released, I started referring to this movie as ‘Stupid Real X-Men.’ This is in contrast to The Darkest Minds, a movie I refer to as ‘Stupid X-men.’ Even on a plane crossing the Atlantic back to the United States, The Darkest Minds was bad. Dark Phoenix maybe a slightly better movie and more tolerable on an airplane, but it is not much better. I felt like the trailer for Dark Phoenix drew some parallels from Captain Marvel. Both Captain Marvel and Phoenix absorb a huge amount of cosmic energy and glow as they fly around in space. That is about the only similarity between the X-Men universe and the true MCU.
I was a fan of Game of Thrones until the final season. I liked Sophie Turner’s portrayal of Sansa Stark, she is a skilled actress. I never had an issue with her role in a previous X-Men movie either. I cared about Sansa Stark. I didn’t have any emotional reaction to Phoenix/Jean Grey. The writing and directing were bad, they failed to give a wonderful actress anything useful to work with.
As little as I cared about Phoenix, I cared even less about Vuk, the main bad girl. Vuk is an interstellar shape-shifting creature who takes the earth form of Jessica Chastain. Chastain was great in both Interstellar and Molly’s Game. She can be a lead and supporting actress and get you emotionally invested. Like Turner, Chastain was given nothing to work with. The make-up and lighting used for Vuk made everything worse. She was incredibly pale and straight-faced. It felt a little alien, but an interstellar race able to mimic a host’s body would surely be able to have facial expressions. Each time Vuk was on screen I cringed just a little.
Superhero movies should have wonderful fight scenes that advance the plot. The stakes should feel high for the failure of the good guys. None of that was achieved in Dark Phoenix. I didn’t care who won or lost because I wasn’t pulled into the story at all. The visuals were good, but nothing novel. This movie failed on the most fundamental level.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix had a $200,000,000 budget and only made less than $66,000,000 in the US. This is a bad movie that should only be watched on a plane if you have seen everything else on the seatback screen and don’t want to re-watch something. Even for an airplane movie, this would be disappointing. The X-Men universe has some fantastic movies and helped kick off the superhero resurgence. It’s a good thing this movie came along so far into the superhero resurgence so that it can’t prevent Marvel Studios form making more wonderful MCU movies.