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) 60%

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) 86%

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

scorecard Turner tv talk Mary Poppins Returns TLC Spectrum Originals theme song supernatural sag awards Creative Arts Emmys DC Universe First Look technology all-time Tomatazos Animation Cosplay game of thrones Stephen King science fiction TV Land GIFs MCU Netflix Christmas movies talk show Star Trek El Rey docudrama facebook child's play YouTube Premium DGA japanese IFC emmy awards Netflix Disney+ Disney Plus Music children's TV Calendar Song of Ice and Fire NBC rotten movies we love Photos Elton John Mary Tyler Moore Ghostbusters sports spain Vudu FXX indie foreign sitcom cancelled television critics spy thriller period drama hollywood festivals ID cartoon stop motion miniseries robots PBS Arrowverse Spike Logo Fantasy spanish language DC streaming service 2021 Character Guide video The CW PlayStation TCA Winter 2020 sequels Avengers BET Masterpiece Biopics Heroines anthology 4/20 TV renewals revenge Television Critics Association Freeform TV cops CNN TNT golden globes Musical cancelled TV shows Dark Horse Comics OWN ratings parents Pirates Broadway true crime Spring TV Acorn TV archives Paramount Plus 2015 Interview Sundance Now witnail directors Superheroes SDCC TruTV Trophy Talk CBS All Access superhero dogs Extras Amazon Studios Lionsgate 21st Century Fox Infographic Lucasfilm boxing ViacomCBS CMT fresh The Witch Marvel Television werewolf screen actors guild Amazon Prime Video TV One spider-man worst movies Set visit concert cooking serial killer television WGN First Reviews elevated horror casting black Columbia Pictures Travel Channel 2019 Black Mirror video on demand crime psycho social media satire dceu Emmys spinoff Comics on TV Holidays HBO Go cats finale renewed TV shows prank franchise boxoffice cults Pet Sematary dramedy Film Festival south america halloween Amazon italian crossover Mindy Kaling TCA Awards mission: impossible Amazon Prime Hulu hist The Arrangement jurassic park Podcast 2017 CBS comics Fox Searchlight 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Syfy razzies 45 mockumentary composers Family king kong Television Academy CW Seed FOX movie Sneak Peek MSNBC die hard docuseries venice comedies Walt Disney Pictures Rocky Schedule Apple blockbusters Warner Bros. SundanceTV History Pixar Rocketman YA a nightmare on elm street Martial Arts 20th Century Fox spanish Starz Binge Guide Hear Us Out Emmy Nominations laika Captain marvel Discovery Channel Kids & Family discovery FX BBC America travel classics TCM Video Games Holiday Certified Fresh disaster kong FX on Hulu Disney streaming service Star Wars ABC Signature SXSW stand-up comedy Showtime sequel Funimation Countdown Trailer comic books New York Comic Con Valentine's Day Cannes scary movies Nominations Pop TV nfl Universal Trivia medical drama pirates of the caribbean Year in Review Pop PaleyFest BBC One asian-american Christmas dragons what to watch Ovation adventure unscripted crime thriller blaxploitation Marathons Quiz TBS Anna Paquin Turner Classic Movies National Geographic Lifetime Christmas movies Awards Tour Reality VOD Ellie Kemper Crackle indiana jones A&E cancelled Peacock Legendary joker war 2018 political drama telelvision Shondaland doctor who thriller OneApp Best and Worst mutant romance Disney Tubi Women's History Month festival Bravo award winner kids 2016 BAFTA American Society of Cinematographers Sony Pictures halloween tv Teen BET Awards based on movie batman rt archives godzilla Horror Lifetime Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt french Alien rom-coms singing competition The Purge romantic comedy Country ABC documentary The Academy james bond LGBT toy story zombie Disney Channel Election comiccon crime drama Paramount Network best Adult Swim football Mudbound deadpool WarnerMedia kaiju series transformers HBO Max TCA Mary poppins Polls and Games San Diego Comic-Con Western reviews independent nbcuniversal binge australia Comic Book canceled TV shows documentaries RT21 The Walking Dead name the review historical drama Nat Geo hispanic trailers rotten 99% Cartoon Network obituary jamie lee curtis vampires Apple TV+ films justice league IFC Films superman Esquire green book 71st Emmy Awards DC Comics Disney Plus Nickelodeon criterion Endgame richard e. Grant cancelled TV series AMC Action USA Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Summer Baby Yoda versus RT History 2020 aliens GLAAD streaming remakes Rock APB Winners YouTube Toys universal monsters Watching Series Film monster movies NYCC Academy Awards BBC USA Network Epix twilight psychological thriller 24 frames ghosts popular E3 stoner zombies Super Bowl Apple TV Plus TCA 2017 police drama Superheroe Thanksgiving GoT cars Crunchyroll politics Writers Guild of America Premiere Dates diversity MTV dc 72 Emmy Awards Chernobyl cinemax christmas movies Oscars See It Skip It slashers Marvel Drama Tumblr LGBTQ VICE 007 X-Men Grammys ABC Family dark TIFF ITV teaser Rom-Com Marvel Studios The Walt Disney Company zero dark thirty DirecTV book women Comedy Central Hallmark E! President Sci-Fi Pride Month adaptation latino Box Office Britbox Red Carpet canceled Winter TV Sundance Fall TV VH1 ESPN Classic Film news toronto Fox News HBO worst Opinion nature reboot anime Comedy strong female leads screenings YouTube Red Musicals golden globe awards quibi Black History Month comic game show hidden camera natural history harry potter blockbuster Exclusive Video space chucky breaking bad Brie Larson Tarantino free movies Food Network Reality Competition Mystery animated A24 Sundance TV Awards Paramount fast and furious biography Hallmark Christmas movies movies Shudder