Dark Phoenix (2019)
June 8, 2019 7:46 PM - Subscribe

Jean Grey begins to develop incredible powers that corrupt and turn her into a Dark Phoenix. Now the X-Men will have to decide if the life of a team member is worth more than all the people living in the world.
posted by signal (21 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Just got back, quite disappointed with the plot, characterization and the ending. Much meh, in my opinion, and they completely mischaracterize Scott and Kurt. (Why can nobody get Nightcrawler right in live action? He came off as more Toad than Nightcrawler.) Sad as I was expecting a better send off to this era of X-Men movies.
I also feel that making Scott such a weak character and shifting the main emotional conflict to Jean/Xavier was a bad choice, and its resolution did not feel earned at all. Having Xavier apologize for being such an ass was nice to see, though.
posted by signal at 7:51 PM on June 8, 2019

None of the characters work because there's really no continuity (where's Storm's moment in this verse? It can't be only when she's the actual heel for Apocalypse) and totally agreed about Scott. They really whiffed the ball in ever setting up the new gen (of Jean, Scott, Storm etc) properly because the last gen also got set up badly (I still hold having DOFP so soon after FC was a terrible mistake) that by the time this movie got the responsibility of being the sendoff movie nothing works unless I pretend I myself have been in space for the last 7 years, and only recollecting FC (which is fine because that seems to be the only movie this movie wants to call back on as well) and I must have missed on some decent intervening movies, because or else so much of the drama is unearned.

I deeply enjoyed the Cherik ending but I was also deep in my genuine disbelief that it's even happening.

That said, the direction is fine. The action blocking is actually very good and the actors were giving their all, despite the general state of confusion of where their characters are supposed to be at this point.
posted by cendawanita at 8:16 PM on June 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Plus, why have Quicksilver in a movie if you're not doing an extended scene of him running around doing stuff while the world freeze-frames around him with a goofy grin and listening to period-appropriate music?
posted by signal at 8:24 PM on June 8, 2019 [13 favorites]

The years between 1992 and 2000 seem to have been exceptionally hard on Magneto, taking him from a fit, sexy, middle-aged man to a frail, craggy senior citizen.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:34 PM on June 8, 2019 [8 favorites]

The 90's were a rough time to be a mutant, man. He's lucky he didn't break out all over in pouches and tiny feet.
posted by kyrademon at 1:09 AM on June 9, 2019 [38 favorites]

I have not seen this yet, because I was hoping it would be Hillari-bad, instead of just BAD, but all the previews and fan chat seems to indicate it's just.. meh to bad. Is it worth seeing at the cinema?
posted by Faintdreams at 4:47 AM on June 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

I haven't seen it yet, but the way it's being received, and the way "The Last Stand" turned out, I think the problem is really that the Phoenix saga can't be properly done in a single movie and by trying to do it that way twice they've ruined any hope of anybody doing it justice. It really needs to be done over a full TV season, or over 22 movies like Marvel just did with the Avengers. You can't shorthand Jean Grey's journey from young innocent prodigy to galaxy-destroying cosmic entity. You need to set her character up, set up the relationships, make the audience and everybody on screen fall in love with her, THEN you get to set her on fire.
posted by wabbittwax at 5:13 AM on June 9, 2019 [14 favorites]

The Dark Phoenix saga is always cited as as one of the most important and profound in comics, whereas the Infinity Stones? It's fun, but not groundbreaking, so it's telling that the MCU took 22 movies to tell a story that has like 1/2 the gravitas and resonance of the one the FXCU tried to tell in a single movie.

wabbittwax: " It really needs to be done over a full TV season, "

Or you could do it over Season 3 of the X-Men animated series.
posted by signal at 7:06 AM on June 9, 2019 [5 favorites]

tbh, this first class 'verse shouldn't have worried about dark phoenix yet. in my fantasy football scenario, FC phase 1 needed another movie of that generation starting up the school/forming a militant movement, where we end with Jean and Scott, then maybe a DOFP for a nice trilogy then set up to Jean's eventual turn, THEN maybe we can think about the Phoenix Force.

As it is, I don't care, except Cherik in Paris.
posted by cendawanita at 8:50 AM on June 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Maybe the real Dark Phoenix was the friends we made along the way.
posted by signal at 8:53 AM on June 9, 2019 [9 favorites]

You can't shorthand Jean Grey's journey from young innocent prodigy to galaxy-destroying cosmic entity. You need to set her character up, set up the relationships, make the audience and everybody on screen fall in love with her, THEN you get to set her on fire.
posted by wabbittwax

Yeah. Even when they tried doing this arc with Game of thrones, they rushed and fucked it up.

I heard that Apocalypse was supposed to be the movie between First class and Days of future past, but after the studio switched things, the writers walked away.

Oh well, we ll always have the animated series.
posted by eustatic at 9:25 AM on June 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

I don’t understand why the movies keep trying to tell the same stories as the comics when the media are so different. Couldn’t talented writers just create new adventures for these characters (kind of the way comic book authors do)? Or will fans only go to see subpar retellings of tales they already know?
posted by rikschell at 10:37 AM on June 9, 2019 [4 favorites]

Thinking about it some more I'm wondering if maybe the other major stumbling block to adapting the Dark Phoenix saga is making Cyclops a likeable and relatable character. Even in the comics, he's always been kind of a dick, but because he was static images on a page, a reader could overlook that somewhat, and relate to him enough that his big sacrifice meant something. So far, none of the movies have done a good job of making Cyclops into somebody we care about.
posted by wabbittwax at 1:38 PM on June 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

So far, none of the movies have done a good job of making Cyclops into somebody we care about.

I think that's part of the reason I liked the movie. The franchise is a mess, and my expectations were low. And it exceeded my ( admittedly low ) expectations. I get that they didn't tell say, 70% of the story , and they didn't tell the story they DID tell well at all, but it was a nice evening out with the family.
posted by mikelieman at 5:10 PM on June 9, 2019

I liked it well enough, by which I mean that I didn't feel resentful over having gone to the trouble of putting my pants on to go to the theater to see this, which is how I still feel about its predecessor, Apocalypse. In part, I think that that's because I went in with pretty low expectations, thanks to negative reviews and buzz. Just because it was better than that doesn't mean it's perfect, though. The positives first:

- I thought that the plot was effective enough; while I understand that some people would have preferred the full Dark Phoenix saga, I really didn't mind not having to see Mastermind (non-comics-readers: a mutant illusionist who was part of the original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants) creep on her for however many installments. Some of the plot elements were obvious contrivances, but it moved along pretty logically, unlike much of Apocalypse. (I had to go to the Wikipedia page for that movie to remind myself of how they ended up running into fresh-out-of-the-vat Wolverine. Another thing that this movie did that was good? No gratuitous Wolverine references.)

- Charles admits that he fucked up. This is something that, AFAIK, he rarely if ever did in the comics.

- As with the lack of Wolverine references, I'm kind of glad that they didn't just do another extended Quicksilver sequence with era-appropriate music. I loved the two previous bits (in DOFP and Apocalypse), but it was threatening to become a shtick, and it's too good to use up too quickly. Save the next one for when Evan Peters gets retconned into the MCU.

- Jean, at least, wasn't fridged.

Now, then:

- Of course, Raven was, and even if J-Law was done with the X-verse, it was a classic fridging in that both Hank and Erik went on Roaring Rampages of Revenge. Not cool, man.

- Weaksauce villains. I guess that comics fanboys like me are supposed to appreciate the detail that the villains are supposed to be the D'Bari, the aliens from a very early issue of Avengers (the same one in which Captain America is thawed out), and later in the Dark Phoenix saga (Jean causes their sun to go nova, thus committing genocide on their entire planet); it's a cute call-back, but they turn out to be road-company Skrulls, boring shapeshifters who want to conquer the world.

- Most importantly, even for a series that had lately thumbed its nose at real continuity--skipping ahead a decade with each installment with no corresponding aging of the principals--they were especially lazy with this one, with everyone just sort of pretending that Apocalypse never happened, which is extremely weird as Jean went Phoenix at the end--it's basically her version of picking up the Infinity Gauntlet. Of course, if that's in continuity, then there's no movie, as she would have simply pulled the shuttle back to Earth without leaving the ground. So... they just sort of ignored it. They also ignore that Nightcrawler used to fight in cage matches in Berlin, and continue to make him this sort of naif.

So, not a great movie by any means, but they could have, and have, done worse.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:18 PM on June 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

Something else: this is at least the third time (after X3 and Deadpool 2) that they've had a scene where a bunch of mutants were being transported with some sort of power-dampening restraints and the transport got raided en route. At least this time the guard let them go to help out against the raiders, but still.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:35 AM on June 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Halloween Jack: "this is at least the third time (after X3 and Deadpool 2) that they've had a scene where a bunch of mutants were being transported with some sort of power-dampening restraints and the transport got raided en route."

Like the 6th if you count The Gifted, which I do, because it was the most X-like live action thing on screen.
posted by signal at 9:25 AM on June 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

Yes, this movie was not good. Do I care? No. Because Michael Fassbender was completely smoldering and Charles and Erik ended the movie in love in Paris, so.
posted by praemunire at 12:23 AM on June 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

My son says: "The Umbrella Academy tv show is a better Dark Phoenix adaptation than the Dark Phoenix movie"
He's not wrong.
posted by signal at 6:13 PM on June 23, 2019

Yyyyeah. I mean, it wasn't bad, but it sure wasn't good either. But I really regret that the 2000's era X-men movies didn't get here first, because they did manage to tell a more coherent backstory and managed to get Jean Grey's story from friend to foe to ... oops, I guess our contracts expired oh well sorry guys.

As it was, and this might just be me getting older, but they didn't really sell the first class versus young protege story at all - the first class of 40 year old Xavier and a 29 year old Hank and Raven while the new team's Jean and Scott are 22/23? I mean, it doesn't _have_ to be Sir Patrick Stewart, and James McAvoy does well enough with the role, but the age gap doesn't really sell "headmaster". This wasn't a huge problem in the prequel stor(y | ies), but it sort of got ungainly as things moved on.

And no kidding, I didn't know a single one of Magneto's team.

I mean it's weird - I was an X-fan growing up, it's the part of the Marvel universe I know best (FSVO of "best", mind you, it's been 30 years) and yet the recent movies have been deeply underwhelming. Meanwhile the MCU has been telling compelling stories about mostly second-rate heroes (viz why Marvel still held their rights) and I'm deeply invested in it. It's a shame Fox couldn't manage to have the same sort of vision for such a popular franchise.

Bring on phase four!
posted by Kyol at 6:49 AM on September 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also, and I know this is a challenge, but they just had Dark Phoenix versus telepath or magnetic manipulator fights over and over and over and those were some of the most underwhelming battles ever. Squint and look constipated, James! Ok, now you, Sophie! We'll fix it in post, trust us!


I mean, it's not like they manage to do all that good with the non-physical brawlers anyway - even the MCU sort of goes "uhhh ok just gesture at the bad guys" for Strange and the Scarlet Witch, but at least they're edited so those actions seem like they have consequences. Here it felt like they couldn't decide how powerful Storm's lightning or Scott's lasers should be.
posted by Kyol at 7:09 AM on September 16, 2019

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