X-Men: Dark Phoenix

It’s easy being confused with multiple sequels as they seem a dime a dozen these days. If there’s money to be made, Hollywood will keep churning them out in order to squeeze every last cent. The ‘X-Men’ films are a good example. Reaching the 12th instalment in the long-running series, ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’ adds another layer to the franchise’s mythology. Whether it’s needed is another question but it will look nice in the inevitable DVD/Blu-ray box set. In the meantime, ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’ is more of the same cosmic battles for sequel-fatigued audiences.

Now national heroes, the X-Men continue to fight any evil-doers standing in their way. Among powerful mutants are Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) and Hank (Nicholas Hoult). When Jean’s powers suddenly turn into something more threatening, the team must combat one of their own. Now calling herself Phoenix, Jean’s new abilities threaten to destroy the world unless the rest of her gifted comrades stop her carnage.

Directed with little flair by Simon Kinberg, ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’ is a mediocre instalment. Gone is the epic majesty of previous films, replaced with low-key, lethargic pacing. It has a definite TV movie vibe with lots of close up of intense faces with few battle scenes to dazzle the eyes. As writer and director, Kinberg has no one else to blame except himself although ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’ has the occasional moments where it dares to soar. Such moments enliven an uneven script showing the potential Kinberg fails to follow through with.

None of the faults found in ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’ are due to the performances. McAvoy, Turner and the rest do fine work, bringing vitality to their characters. It’s been pleasurable seeing them progress throughout the franchise, conveying the many emotional layers to their roles. The CGI is amazing as ever. It’s unfortunate the story isn’t as engaging as it should have been with the timeline not fitting well in the overall scheme of things.

As a grand farewell to this iteration of the ‘X-Men’ series, ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’ fails. It’s a middling entry infrequently utilizing the series’ rich history. With the Disney company now in charge of the series, it will be interesting seeing where it goes in the future. Even the law of diminishing returns won’t vanquish the mutant heroes with a rousing comeback always assured.

Rating out of 10: 5

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