September 23, 2019  (Web Review)

Dark Phoenix

Fox, 114 min., PG-13, DVD: $29.98, Blu-ray: $37.99, Sept. 17

Reviewer rating: 2.0/4

The near-two-decades long 12-film X-Men franchise comes to a substandard halt with this saga of Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), whose Phoenix character made a brief initial appearance in X-Men: Apocalypse (2016). Young Jean’s supernatural gifts inadvertently caused the fatal car crash that killed her mother, landing her in the care of Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), who recognizes the traumatized orphan’s telepathic/telekinetic skills. Apparently, exposure to a solar flare has now increased Jean’s already amazing psychic skills, turning her into one of the most destructive mutants—which moves Jean’s once-simmering romance with Cyclops/Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) onto a back-burner. Enter shape-shifting alien Vuk (Jessica Chastain), who twists Jean’s mind, asking: “Are you a scared little girl who answers to a man in the chair, or are you the most powerful creature on the planet?” Their encounter inevitably leads to disaster, causing surly, brooding Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to resurface in his remote rural commune. Here in one scene, gone in another are Hank/Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Quicksilver (Evan Peters), and Storm (Alexandra Shipp). Eventually, Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) notes that X-Men should become X-Women because “the women are always saving the men around here.” Melodramatically scripted by director Simon Kinberg, this was made before Fox was acquired by Disney, which owns Marvel. So, will the heroic mutants join the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Who knows? Who cares? Optional. (S. Granger)