Let me start off by saying that this was probably the movie that I’ve most anticipated in my entire life.
Since I discovered that it was happening about a year ago, I was absolutely over the moon excited. I counted down the days, I squealed every time I saw the poster by the movie theater, I made my parents take a picture of me next to said movie poster(s), set all my wallpapers to the various posters (which all belong in the MoMA, honestly)…you get the idea. I was a very, very excited little mutant.
As the reviews started pouring in, I got a little worried. I told myself, time and time again, not to listen to the critics. I also tried to tell myself not to expect another First Class or X2, but…I couldn’t really help myself up until the end.
Then, I saw it on Saturday night. I haven’t felt such a surge of joy in a long, long time, not like I did when the “feature presentation” screen finally came up.
It didn’t deserve such hate-filled reviews from the critics. Nor did it deserve as high praise as some of the other films. But even still, an incredible film, and a beautiful ending to a masterful franchise.
*SOME SPOILERS AHEAD–I ADVISE THAT YOU DON’T READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN DARK PHOENIX*
Dark Phoenix has always been one of the most revered stories in the whole of the X-Men universe. Full of raw emotion not usually seen in a superhero story (at the time, at least), it was a groundbreaking series that changed the X-Men forever. I doubt any film will ever come close to portraying it perfectly, but Dark Phoenix sure came close. Some alterations were made to the plot, but they made enough sense that they worked with the story. (ex. instead of Jean consuming the mother star of the D’Bari and wiping the entire race out, they nearly went extinct in another way and sought Jean’s Phoenix Force to resurrect what was left of them. A bit cliche, but again, it worked.)
Perfectly paced, stunning FX (especially when it came to Jean), and a plethora of fun Easter Eggs that…yeah, I had a bunch of Chris Pratt-esque, gaping moments in the theater. FOR EXAMPLE…
–Dazzler. DAAAZZZZZZLEERRRRRR!!! I mean…okay, she’s not my favorite, but it was pretty cool to see her show up briefly after all these X-Men films. Plus, she was originally introduced in the Dark Phoenix Saga, so…nice touch.
–GENOSHA. Such a beautiful set. I really liked the approach they took with it–instead of being super high-tech, the structures and buildings were largely made up of scrap parts. Magneto’s house was also really pretty. (I mean, who wouldn’t put it past him to have a matching tea set?)
Another little Easter egg was the addition of Red Lotus (behind Storm) and Selene (in front of Nightcrawler). Though I can see why they were added in, they didn’t have much screen time at all, and seemed almost unneccesary, other than being throwaway allies of Magneto. Selene does look pretty cool, though. I’ll give them that.
What truly made this film, as it did in the comics, was the emotion and the themes of family. Dark Phoenix masterfully captured the raw, unfettered feelings of each of the mutants, showing their conflicts, their sorrow, their anger. Most prominent of all was Jean herself, and her internal struggle with her newfound abilities. I got choked up at the end–no spoilers, but it’s bittersweet, with a heartbreaking loss, followed by something more hopeful. A fitting farewell for the 20th Century Fox X-Men.
And to top it all off, there’s always the classic fun that comes along with watching an X-Men movie. The battle scenes are over-the-top, but in the best way possible. The final one was one of my favorite X-Men battle scenes, period.
No spoilers for this portion, but I’ll tell you one thing–
The context for that scene is…darkly hilarious.
Of course, every movie has it’s flaws. Dark Phoenix was in no way perfect, and I wished we’d had these aspects in it at some point:
–Quicksilver never told Magneto that he was his son. It ALMOST happened in Apocalypse, but alas…nada.
–On the subject of estranged relatives, there was a similar problem with Mystique and Nightcrawler. The only hint we get of their mother-son relationship is also in Apocalypse--she gives him some degree of special treatment, but not much beyond the rescue from the mutant fight ring.
–In the other films, there was lots of care taken to make the time period believable. Dark Phoenix is set in 1992, but if we weren’t told that, I’m not sure that I would’ve figured it out. Not even a band shirt or a running soundtrack for Quicksilver. *single tear slides down cheek*
But, all in all, Dark Phoenix was worth the long wait. Solid 8.5/10 from me. Go see it, X-Fans–you won’t regret it. Mutant and proud. 😉