Dark Phoenix

If you’re looking for another review panning this film, move along. I pretty much enjoyed it. I thought the action scenes were pretty amazing, I thought it was a significant step up from Apocalypse, and I thought it was an acceptable capper to this seven film series. I’ll get into some more details below.

First, though, I want to clarify why I’m referring to this as a seven film series. “But Russell,” you say, “what about the Wolverine films? What about Deadpool?”

The Wolverine films are their own little trilogy, with only Patrick Stewart reprising his role a couple of times. Other than that, it’s just Wolverine doing Wolverine things. Want my take on them? X-Men Origins: Wolverine is terrible, The Wolverine is both terrible and boring, and Logan is amazing.

The Deadpool films, OTOH, don’t even exist in the same universe. Case in point: Deadpool himself is introduced in Origins in dramatically different form. Also, Juggernaut and Colossus are very different. So that’s another universe. (The awesome shot in Deadpool 2 of the official X-Men closing a door on Wade is a throwaway joke, not an indication of continuity. In the Deadpooliverse, they just happen to look identical to their X-Menverse counterparts.)

The key component of an X-Men film is that it’s supposed to be an ensemble piece, with lots of characters that have lots of powers. And this one does that. In fact, it does it pretty well, I think. It still has to follow some of the basic formula of an X-Men film. In fact, let’s look at that formula, shall we? And take this opportunity to do a review of the series.

A Character Who Feels Like an Outcast is Accepted into a Group

X-Men – Both Wolverine and Rogue join the X-Men.

X2 – Jean and Storm find and help Nightcrawler. Pyro is recruited by Magneto.

The Last Stand – Jean (in her proto Phoenix form) is accepted by Magneto. Leech is accepted by Professor X at the end.

First Class – There’s a lot of that going on here, but the biggies are Charles reaching out to Mystique (as a child) and Magneto (as an adult). Then Magneto returns the favor by taking Mystique away.

Days of Future Past – This one is fun because now it’s Wolverine reaching out to a lost Charles.

Apocalypse – Apocalypse recruits his “horsemen”, most notably Magneto.

Dark Phoenix – Poor Jean. Now that she’s all Phoenixy, she can only be accepted by the D’Bari. But then, at the end, Magneto offers Charles a new home. Awww.

Winner – X-Men. That train scene.

Charles Xavier Walks

X-Men – Charles get to live inside Senator Kelly’s memories, allowing him to stand and walk around.

X2 – Charles is mind-controlled by Stryker’s mutant son, and has a brief fantasy sequence on his feet.

The Last Stand – In an early example of deaging (which, ironically, hasn’t aged well) Charles walks right up to Jean Grey’s house to recruit her for his school.

First Class – He’s walking all the way through this thing, until a stray bullet takes out his back.

Days of Future Past – Now he’s walking around in a drug-addled haze, since this compound helps him walk, but removes his powers.

Apocalypse – He’s on his feet to fight a dreamscape version of Apocalypse inside… their shared consciousness? I really don’t know.

Dark Phoenix – Jean uses her powers to force him to flail his way up a flight of steps.

Winner – X-Men wins this one, too. It’s just about the most subtle one of all.

Film MVP

X-Men – Wolverine takes care of business.

X2 – Jean steps up and Wrath of Khans her way into a heroically self-sacrificing act.

The Last Stand – Ummm. Maybe Beast? Or Kitty Pryde?

First Class – I think I have to give this one to Magneto. Pulling the sub up out of the water is bad ass. As is grabbing all those missiles and turning them around.

Days of Future Past – If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I’d like to do… is watch that Quicksilver scene again.

Apocalypse – Honestly, no one really shines in this one. Quicksilver by default, I guess.

Dark Phoenix – Took a while, but they finally made Cyclops cool. His part of the train scene was awesome.

Winner – Dang it, Quicksilver. I just can’t quit you.

Most Annoying Moment

X-Men – Storm should not be allowed one-liners.

X2 – If Magneto can pluck a plane traveling at the speed of sound out of the sky, why can’t he reach with his mind to the metal on the far side of his plastic prison?

The Last Stand – Angel could simply not have gotten from Westchester to Alcatraz that fast. Also, Angel’s whole subplot.

First Class – Why didn’t little Magneto kill Sebastian Shaw right then? Or ever while he was under his control?

Days of Future Past – I could see Magneto inserting metal into the sentinels to move them around, but he can’t control their programming. He doesn’t control all electronics.

Apocalypse – Honestly, there’s a fair amount of annoying stuff in this film. Let’s use this slot to call them out for using the same actors to span a forty year period in this series.

Dark Phoenix – I get that the metaphor essentially requires Jean to rise from the ashes, but really? She’s flying in the sky right above Magneto and Charles? The series is over. There’s no call for a tag that will never be followed up on.

Winner – For sheer cringe-inducing power, I’ve got to hand it to Storm and that first movie.

Final Ranking of Awesomeness

  1. Days of Future Past
  2. X2
  3. X-Men
  4. First Class
  5. Dark Phoenix
  6. The Last Stand
  7. Apocalypse
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