Critics Consensus

Dark Phoenix Lands with a Thud

Plus, The Secret Life of Pets 2 is pleasant enough, the new seasons of Black Mirror and The Handmaid's Tale are solid, and Big Little Lies season 2 is Certified Fresh.

by | June 6, 2019 | Comments

This weekend at the movies, we’ve got a problem heroine (Dark Phoenix, starring Sophie Turner and James McAvoy) and Illumination’s domestication animation (The Secret Life of Pets 2, featuring the voices of Patton Oswalt and Kevin Hart). What are the critics saying?

Dark Phoenix (2019) 22%

The latest chapter of the X-Men franchise proper (and likely the final one to feature these characters for some time) takes its narrative straight from one of the most beloved and celebrated stories from the comics, and it’s one we’ve seen before. “The Dark Phoenix Saga,” as its known, has been recounted in two different animated series and made its way onto the big screen in the form of 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand. The writer for that film, Simon Kinberg, who also stuck around to write or produce all of the subsequent films, makes his directorial debut here, following telepathic mutant Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) as she struggles to control the immense — and dangerous — power that awakens within her when she suffers an accident in space. Series regulars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, and the rest of the young X-Men all return to reprise their roles, but critics say their efforts here are largely in vain, due to uninspired storytelling, some wooden performances, and a not altogether surprising feeling of “been there, done that.” Die-hard fans may be able to recognize some of Kinberg’s winks and nods in Dark Phoenix, and anyone looking for a two-hour diversion may feel satisfied, but the end result is a decidedly underwhelming franchise conclusion that fails to capitalize on its potential.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019) 61%

2016’s The Secret Life of Pets did for domesticated cats and dogs what Toy Story did for dolls and action figures, taking audiences on a mostly fun-filled adventure with likable characters voiced by a talented cast. Most of them are back for The Secret Life of Pets 2, which splits the action into three loosely connected narrative threads and, critics say, suffers a little bit for it. Patton Oswalt is game as the replacement voice for Max (previously voiced by Louis C.K.), who freaks out when his owner Katie (Ellie Kemper) brings home a baby; Kevin Hart’s Snowball teams up with newcomer Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) to rescue a white tiger from a circus; and Jenny Slate‘s Gidget attempts to retrieve Max’s favorite toy from a cat-infested neighboring apartment. It’s all harmless stuff that should resonate with younger audiences, and there’s probably just enough to engage everyone else. Just don’t expect to be blown away by any new tricks, as it were.

What’s New on TV

Big Little Lies: Season 2 (2019) 85%

Gorgeous and gripping, Big Little Lies‘s second season doubles down on the dark humor and gives its impressive cast even more juicy drama to chew on — especially the excellent Meryl Streep.

The Handmaid's Tale: Season 3 (2019) 81%

The Handmaid’s Tale‘s third season reigns in its horrors and inspires hope that revolution really is possible — if only the story would stop spinning its wheels and get to it already.

Black Mirror: Season 5 (2019) 68%

Though Black Mirror‘s abbreviated fifth season never quite reaches the heights (or surprises) of previous installments, it remains one of TVs strangest philosophical offerings — for better or worse.

Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019) , a drama about a man attempting to reclaim the historic San Francisco home his grandfather built, is Certified Fresh at 93%.
  • The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil (2019) , a South Korean thriller about a crime boss who teams up with a detective to take down a serial killer, is at 90%.
  • The Raft (2019) , a documentary chronicling a famous and controversial social experiment aboard a raft in 1973, is at 89%.
  • Funan (2019) , an animated drama about a woman’s experience in Cambodia living under the Khmer Rouge, is at 89%.
  • Framing John DeLorean (2019) , starring Alec Baldwin in a docudrama about the rise and fall of the famous automaker, is at 88%.
  • Ghost Fleet (2019) , a documentary about an activist who fights for the freedom of enslaved fishermen in Indonesia, is at 86%.
  • Leto (2019) , a period biopic about the early life of Russian rocker Viktor Tsoi in 1980s Leningrad, is at 80%.
  • Pavarotti (2019) , Ron Howard’s documentary about the life of the legendary opera singer, is at 80%.
  • Late Night (2019) , starring Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson in a comedy about a struggling talk show host who bonds with a new female writer on her staff, is at 78%.
  • Papi Chulo (2019) , a comedy about a weatherman who hires a Latino day laborer to be his friend, is at 71%.
  • This One's for the Ladies (2019) , a documentary about the dancers and community surrounding a New Jersey strip club, is at 57%.
  • Katie Says Goodbye (2019) , a drama about a young Arizona woman who turns to prostitution to fund a dream move to San Francisco, is at 42%.

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

cancelled TV series deadpool See It Skip It USA Network VH1 FXX Awards Tour 2015 blaxploitation ABC Family satire historical drama Pop justice league MTV dragons cars First Look CW Seed ID Trophy Talk Musical Mudbound game of thrones 71st Emmy Awards Academy Awards Comic Book worst movies toy story anime 2020 robots classics talk show Musicals documentaries El Rey game show nfl reboot Comedy Pet Sematary venice psychological thriller hollywood Arrowverse DirecTV NBC adventure Valentine's Day TCM DC Universe Lifetime Kids & Family sequel Winners Winter TV canceled Sundance Now FOX Star Trek 007 transformers toronto crossover serial killer jamie lee curtis Marvel Television stand-up comedy kids Esquire green book Amazon Prime crime thriller Alien doctor who hispanic mockumentary Nat Geo Spring TV Reality Epix comic discovery LGBT Crunchyroll Shondaland Year in Review travel Writers Guild of America Freeform Super Bowl award winner Disney streaming service golden globes Horror composers psycho WarnerMedia movie X-Men History independent Box Office Lucasfilm Vudu Summer Marvel Studios Sneak Peek E3 Ghostbusters Masterpiece Teen free movies dramedy what to watch Nominations franchise Bravo Lionsgate Black Mirror Television Academy E! all-time Mary Poppins Returns singing competition Film Sundance teaser CNN ESPN Interview ratings spider-man video on demand Toys Polls and Games batman Biopics DC streaming service dark Star Wars Brie Larson sitcom VOD Netflix Tubi The CW Logo quibi canceled TV shows spy thriller hist Disney Plus renewed TV shows Animation A24 emmy awards WGN halloween mission: impossible Pride Month festival unscripted christmas movies TCA 2017 Ellie Kemper NYCC screenings American Society of Cinematographers football Pop TV Tumblr biography RT History Hallmark Christmas movies binge Thanksgiving GoT mutant TV Land Anna Paquin Election worst halloween tv Film Festival Superheroe Comedy Central Pixar Calendar Rom-Com Hallmark spanish language ITV Mindy Kaling Rocky FX remakes Emmys Disney Channel police drama Netflix Christmas movies Hear Us Out Television Critics Association universal monsters australia The Academy Premiere Dates italian BBC scorecard Mystery theme song SXSW OneApp Sony Pictures Mary Tyler Moore Elton John facebook Tarantino movies Music dceu james bond screen actors guild Certified Fresh RT21 PBS National Geographic The Purge Fantasy social media CBS Universal cinemax Best and Worst 45 21st Century Fox President IFC Films Heroines archives latino LGBTQ Extras comics Emmy Nominations animated 4/20 TCA Endgame versus cooking Baby Yoda Action ghosts MCU Shudder Starz HBO Max cancelled TV shows french concert Chernobyl asian-american Song of Ice and Fire Video Games DGA blockbuster japanese TLC strong female leads period drama The Walking Dead First Reviews Western Holiday Rocketman comedies YA Apple Showtime casting Crackle Fall TV Schedule BET TV renewals vampires political drama Amazon Studios disaster Family cancelled television natural history Peacock 20th Century Fox richard e. Grant Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt fresh Disney+ Disney Plus A&E superhero Marvel Trivia crime drama Apple TV Plus Avengers Nickelodeon criterion BET Awards Warner Bros. Spike Syfy war science fiction rotten movies we love Sci-Fi cults Countdown dc 2016 films Trailer Photos Disney Fox News Amazon Prime Video Hulu TNT romance Fox Searchlight series witnail zero dark thirty HBO slashers 72 Emmy Awards stoner revenge Grammys HBO Go Quiz child's play diversity APB obituary GLAAD rotten DC Comics Women's History Month BBC America TIFF documentary Cartoon Network Black History Month 2019 2018 Lifetime Christmas movies YouTube Red directors YouTube nbcuniversal SDCC crime TV Drama Paramount cops Classic Film children's TV aliens Comics on TV elevated horror television 2017 Rock reviews harry potter stop motion video Adult Swim fast and furious werewolf Cosplay docudrama nature romantic comedy Turner Classic Movies miniseries name the review CBS All Access MSNBC twilight Pirates finale Red Carpet Ovation sports Country The Witch space The Arrangement spanish Marathons Watching Series medical drama Superheroes Holidays festivals BBC One indiana jones sag awards supernatural Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Walt Disney Pictures foreign book technology Columbia Pictures Food Network GIFs boxoffice Dark Horse Comics Acorn TV Mary poppins spinoff Apple TV+ dogs joker tv talk Set visit Amazon Britbox TCA Winter 2020 anthology BAFTA Martial Arts Podcast Stephen King PaleyFest news VICE Opinion black breaking bad critics adaptation politics best parents Oscars Reality Competition Tomatazos 24 frames Spectrum Originals indie ABC Awards zombies Cannes true crime Captain marvel FX on Hulu Sundance TV streaming TruTV Infographic cancelled TCA Awards comic books PlayStation cartoon IFC die hard laika comiccon chucky OWN San Diego Comic-Con Discovery Channel CMT 99% sequels south america USA scary movies Creative Arts Emmys Character Guide rt archives Paramount Network TBS boxing Funimation Turner AMC based on movie Travel Channel zombie New York Comic Con Christmas YouTube Premium SundanceTV Binge Guide cats spain thriller a nightmare on elm street