Movie Review – X-Men: Dark Phoenix

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Mutation: it is the key to our evolution. It has enabled us to evolve from a single-celled organism into the dominant species on the planet. this process is slow, normally taking thousands and thousands of years. But every few hundred millennia, evolution leaps forward – If you know these words you are probably already familiar with one of the great Stan Lee’s creations of ordinary people who through puberty develop powers through mutation to be known as mutants.

Originally created in the1960s as a comic book analogue for the parallels of racism and inequality, the X-Men was one of the first big hits of the new Comic Book film renaissance. Before Iron Man and the MCU with Hugh Jackman. So now on the final film of an impressive run and looking to finish with a take on arguably one of the greatest comic book storylines of all time, how does the Dark Phoenix shape up.

The X-Men have a slightly confusing history, well it’s pretty straight forward in comparison to the current state of the Terminator franchise. Now 7 films under their belt beating even Spider-Man’s 3 reboots (10 if you count the Wolverine stand-alone films and 12 with Deadpool) what do you need to know walking into the final film in the series?

Obviously, spoilers are ahead if you aren’t up on your X-Men but if you don’t have time to rewatch the Mobius strip of X-Men films you can probably just start mid-way with the soft reboot of X-Men: First Class.

First Class starts the X-Men franchise again skipping over the films from 2000 to 2006. Taking everything back to the beginning with Charles Xavier the telepathic founder of the X-Men along with Magneto (Metal-Kinetic Nazi Holocaust survivor) being recruited by the CIA in the 1960’s at the birth of the Atomic Age and first appearances of Mutants. Initially united against a common foe by the end of the chapter Magneto was responsible for confining Xavier to a wheelchair and leaving the X-Men for the Brotherhood of Mutants (mostly considered a Terrorist group).

The next chapter Days of Future Past is set in the 1970’s with Magneto in a plastic prison and Xavier able to walk again by taking a drug that suppresses his powers. The X-Men are largely disbanded and Xavier’s school for the gifted is closed. Days of Future Past wraps the original trilogy into this timeline by starting in the far future with the X-Men from the original trilogy sending Wolverine back to get the X-Men back together to stop Mystique (the mutant shapechanger and previously the adopted Sister of Xavier) from killing the president. This then potentially starting a Mutant/Human war leading to the development of giant mutant-killing robots called Sentinels.

The closeout then saw Wolverine being sent Back to the Future which had changed with the original cast now being the older versions of the past X-Men linking the timelines of both trilogies with some minor edits that can be chalked up to wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff.

Continuing to the 1980’s X-Men: Apocalypse saw Xavier’s school rebuilt, the X-Men team re-founded. A lot of the more well-known X-Men from the original films were introduced including a young Cyclops and his possible girlfriend the unstable Jean Grey going from students to full X-Men status to stop a world ending-level threat. Other stuff also happens in this movie but going into the next film that is probably all you really need to know about the status quo.

The latest film is the 4th and final chapter of the Fox/X-Men saga with the Disney acquisition going through and all Marvel properties under Fox going back to Marvel under the House of Mouse. Following suit the latest film is set in the early 1990s (still early enough to not overlap with the 2000-2008 trilogy) in a world where the X-Men are household names. Far from the team known to protect a society that ‘Fears and Hates them’, they are considered heroes with the President of the United States having a Batphone directly to Professor X to help out in the occasional crisis – like if a Space Shuttle was in trouble from a giant space cloud that isn’t Galactus.

The latest film follows the Dark Phoenix saga from the comics which was loosely followed in X-Men: The Last Stand except for following the comics much closer. More the abridged version of the Dark Phoenix Saga the last chapter is very much about Jean Grey who was introduced in the previous film. While in the Last Stand Jean was considered an Omega Level Mutant (a potential world-ender) all along if not for mental blocks put on her as a child the new X-Men Dark Phoenix takes a page from the comics with one of the Marvel Universe’s Cosmic Entities (aka Gods with a capital G, not a small one) being drawn to Jean during a space-based mission.

As a stand-alone film, Dark Phoenix does a lot to ignore the previous films and try to wrap everything together by itself, such as the teaser we got of the Phoenix force from Age of Apocolapyse. But as the final film of the series, it does try to wrap up quite a lot which only really has meaning for anyone invested in these characters across all the previous films.

So should you go see it? If you are huge into X-Men comics than this is an absolute no brainer. While the shortest of all the post soft reboot films this is very much aiming to be true to the comic fans as much as it can. If you are a fan of the Fox X-Men series you are definitely going to see this as the last hurrah for this version (especially with New Mutants being bumped for a second time) and wish it had more Quicksilver.

The only way you won’t enjoy this is if you have never seen an X-Men film before, in which case you are going to be very confused but entertained by a ton of action. But that should whet your appetite enough to go back and start at the beginning all over again.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix is in Cinemas across Australia from Thursday June 6th

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Story and Characters
Visuals and Effects
Enjoyment Factor
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