Eppler: "Dark Phoenix" is violent, joyless end to current "X-Men

Eppler: "Dark Phoenix" a violent, joyless end to current "X-Men"

 
"Dark Phoenix" is the first X-Men movie released by Disney since it recently bought 20th Century FOX. And it may be awhile before audiences have an appetite for more of these. The Mouse House bought damaged goods with the "X-Men" series. "X-Men: Apocalypse" in 2016 is still one of the worst superhero movies to come along in a while, and "Dark Phoenix" isn't much better - a joyless, dull and surprisingly violent slog. 
 
Most of these new kids re-cast as popular X-Men characters are pretty much blank slates, and the good actors in the cast are wasted. Jennifer Lawrence looks like she's just thinking about she'll spend her paycheck, and who can blame her? No one is having any fun here. Even the movie's stilted attempts at jokes or lightheartedness are treated grimly. 
 
For those who do care, the story in this one finds Jean Gray, played by "Queen of the North" Sophie Turner getting enhanced powers and tempted into darkness by an alien in the form of Jessica Chastain, another great actor wasted spewing boilerplate villainy. 
 
Turner is better here than previous movies, but her character's struggle never makes much sense. James McAvoy is forced to play Prof. Charles Xavier as cold and smug - a far cry from Patrick Stewart's warm empathy. 
 
"Dark Phoenix" had to reshoot its entire third act reportedly because it was too similar to some Disney Marvel movies. But maybe these X-Men movies could stand to be a little more like the MCU, and now since Disney owns them all, maybe they will.  For now, "Dark Phoenix" closes out 19 years of "X-Men" movies. After the last few, it really feels freeing. 
 
EPPLER'S RATING: * * 
 

RATING SCALE

* * * * * Incredible - One of the best of the year
* * * * Excellent - Touches greatness with only minor quibbles
* * * Good - Plenty to like, definitely worth seeing
* * Mediocre - You can do better
* Awful - The worst, an insult to movies

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