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Dark Phoenix First Reviews: An Underwhelming Finale with a Villain Problem

Critics so far say the film fails to do justice to the classic story from the comics and could be the worst entry in the series.

by | June 5, 2019 | Comments

Going on nearly 20 years, the X-Men movie franchise has had many ups and downs. Now, with the release of Dark Phoenix, critics are declaring it the lowest of the low, and the Tomatometer score certainly affirms the dishonor. While some reviews claim it’s not really the worst X-Men sequel yet, even the most positive takes are far from excited. If this is the conclusion of what began back in 2000, it’s possibly a more disappointing series finale than anything on TV. Still, there’s reportedly some decent action, if that’s enough for you to finish out its run.

Here’s what critics are saying about Dark Phoenix:


Is this really the worst X-Men movie?

The worst chapter of its long-running main series.
– Eric Eisenberg, CinemaBlend

It may very well be the worst X-Men movie ever made.
– Jordan Ruimy, World of Reel

It’s more focused and less bloated than Apocalypse.
– Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

A tiny bit better than the worst X-Men films!
– Todd Gilchrist, Birth.Movies.Death.

Dark Phoenix IS GOOD!… It’s more distinguishable and bares the identity of an X-Men movie that plays like a long episode of the animated series.
– Rendy Jones, Rendy Reviews


20th Century Fox
(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

Is it at least better than The Last Stand?

The film is marginally better than the previous telling of the Phoenix saga.
Jim Vejvoda, IGN

[Kinberg] makes up for the single worst X-Men film… Chris Claremont and John Byrne would be proud.
Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

[Simon Kinberg] is a more sensual and intuitive filmmaker than Brett Ratner.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety

While Dark Phoenix may have fewer embarrassing missteps than Ratner’s 2006 disaster, it replaces that embarrassment with something that feels devoid of personality.
– Kambole Campbell, Little White Lies

Maybe X-Men: The Last Stand wasn’t an accurate adaptation of the Dark Phoenix comics, but at least it was a fun celebration of an ensemble of characters.
– Fred Topel, We Live Entertainment


Will die-hard X-Men fans enjoy it?

Dark Phoenix is not the movie for fans of the comic book series. It’s arguable if Dark Phoenix is the film for hardcore fans of the franchise that’s existed in one form or another since 2000.
Jeffrey Lyles, Lyles’ Movie Files

It’s as though the audience is expected to be grateful that they are seeing most of the classic line-up of characters, without exploring what makes them interesting.
Kambole Campbell, Little White Lies

This final Fox X-Men film also has a number of Easter eggs for comic fans… there’s also a cameo by writer Chris Claremont.
– Scott Chitwood, ComingSoon.net


20th Century Fox
(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

Is it a satisfying franchise finale, at least?

Compared with the conclusions of other major franchises — the most recent being Avengers: Endgame — this one seems distinctly minor league.
Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter

This X-Men outing feels more like an afterthought than a climax.
Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro

With this final installment, the franchise goes out with a resounding thud.
Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

Dark Phoenix makes for a satisfying conclusion to the X-Men series.
Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

Ultimately a movie that understands its status as a farewell to characters who have thrilled audiences for two decades… It’s a fitting final chapter.
Tom Beasley, Flickering Myth


How is Sophie Turner?

For Game of Thrones fans, it is tempting to imagine Turner as the all-powerful being she deserves to be…Dark Phoenix just doesn’t do [her] justice.
Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

If she deserved better than Game of Thrones finally gave her, she deserves even better here.
Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

Turner puts in the work, but the writing and sloppy direction does little to underpin the performance.
Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Toronto

The pleasure of Dark Phoenix is watching her emerge from the wreckage.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety


20th Century Fox
(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

Is there a strong feminist message?

It’s the women in this one who do most of the heavy lifting, and the film rises to another level because of it.
Lisa Johnson Mandell, AtHomeInHollywood.com

Dark Phoenix takes blockbuster gender politics a step further… to forge an allegory of the rise of women that’s sharply compelling in its renegade/victim edge.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety

If Dark Phoenix was intended as a feminist statement, it plays out more like a male fear at women seizing power and wreaking havoc.
Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro


How is the rest of the cast?

The excellent acting… is better than the Disney-run Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post

James McAvoy is probably the standout… Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender, meanwhile, are practically checking their watches.
Eric Eisenberg, CinemaBlend

Perhaps the most affecting work is by Hoult as Hank, who etches a journey from loss to rage as the effects of Jean’s unravelling hit hard.
Ian Freer, Empire Magazine


Does it have a villain problem?

It’s a character so immensely boring that it doesn’t really deserve mention in the basic plot description of the film.
Eric Eisenberg, CinemaBlend

Chastain is excellent as always, but her character is so underwritten that you’d be hard-pressed to remember its name.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire

Chastain puts on an icy performance as the baddie… but the movie doesn’t seem to know what to do with her.
Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Toronto

One of the film’s biggest missed opportunities is its handling of the villains… with Chastain delivering a flat performance as a one-dimensional super-powered baddie.
Jim Vejvoda, IGN


20th Century Fox
(Photo by 20th Century Fox)

What about the good parts?

Kinberg actually puts together some very well done fight scenes. The film’s signature sequence on a train showcases the X-Men’s powers in a way we haven’t seen on the big screen in a long time.
Jeffrey Lyles, Lyles’ Movie Files

One diverting action sequence, set aboard a fast-moving train and goosed by an enjoyably bombastic Hans Zimmer score.
Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

[It has] what may very well be the best on-screen train fight since Captain America: The First Avenger.
Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

There aren’t many action scenes in Dark Phoenix, but the few that there are end up being somewhat entertaining.
Scott Chitwood, ComingSoon.net

The light-show effects have a mid-’90s fanciful cheesiness, and I dug them for that reason.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety

There’s a refreshing simplicity to Dark Phoenix at a time when superhero movies are becoming increasingly complex.
Tom Beasley, Flickering Myth


Are we just ready for the X-Men to join the MCU?

Now the legacy of the X-Men will pass into a new set of hands, and hopefully it will rise, like a certain mythological bird, again.
Don Kaye, Den of Geek

As Disney and Marvel Studios take the reins, I hope they embrace the stakes, humanity and scrappiness of these special characters.
Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post

While the MCU may prove better… the property itself deservedly needs a good long rest before the X-Men return to the screen.
Jim Vejvoda, IGN


Dark Phoenix opens in theaters June 7, 2019. 

#1

Dark Phoenix (2019)
23%

#1
Adjusted Score: 39.446%
Critics Consensus: Dark Phoenix ends an era of the X-Men franchise by taking a second stab at adapting a classic comics arc -- with deeply disappointing results.
Synopsis: In DARK PHOENIX, the X-MEN face their most formidable and powerful foe: one of their own, Jean Grey. During a... [More]
Directed By: Simon Kinberg

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