X-Men Dark Phoenix: Fitting swan song for a long-running series

Watching the X-Men film series is like being in a love-hate relationship.

Sometimes, there’s complete and sincere adulation for the series when movies with passion and calibre turn up at the end of the production line.

Logan and Deadpool rank high on good superhero flicks and the very first X-Men and its sequel are favourites.

And then, there’s contempt when having to watch complete stinkers such as X-Men Origins: Wolverine or soulless CGI fiestas like X-Men: Apocalypse.

To put it lightly, whenever a new X-Men movie is released, you can’t tell if you are going to leave the theatre wanting to kiss the screen or slap it.

In that case, where does X-Men: Dark Phoenix, penultimate film of the X-Men series, lie on the kiss-slap scale?

Well, while there wasn’t a need to shower it with kisses as was the case in Days of Future Past, it certainly did deserve a good hug.

There was evident effort and the problems with Apocalypse were greatly toned down to the point that this instalment was quite pleasing at times.

So, what’s the story about? Well, this Simon Kinberg film is an adaptation of The Dark Phoenix Saga, an iconic story arc among fans of the X-Men comics.

This arc was previously adapted in 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand, albeit shoddily. This time around though, the movie is far more faithful to its source material thankfully.

James McAvoy, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp and Kodi Smit-McPhee reprise their roles as the X-Men; Professor X, Cyclops, Storm and Nightcrawler respectively. (20th Century Fox pic)

In the aftermath of their heroics in X-Men: Apocalypse, Charles Xavier takes the opportunity to improve the global image of Mutants as superheroes rather than dangerous beings.

When a space rescue mission goes awry, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) is engulfed in a solar flare, which in turn awakens an all-powerful entity within her.

With the power of the all-powerful Phoenix unleashed, it becomes a race against time for the X-Men to save the world once again.

First things first, the direction the film took with the final action set pieces was pleasantly surprising.

With so many good superhero action films already out there, it takes substantial effort to stand out.

The main gripe with Apocalypse was the dullness of the final battle where the titular villain was finally defeated with the power of loud, flashy beams lobbed at him.

Yet, X-Men: Dark Phoenix manages to avoid this altogether, and every member of the X-Men and their allies were able to use their powers to the fullest in scenes crafted with imagination.

In the original trilogy, there was something of a love triangle between Jean, Scott Summers (Cyclops) and Logan (Wolverine).

The audience was told Jean and Scott had feelings for each other, but what transpired on screen was a relationship between Jean and Logan instead.

In this new trilogy, the audience is thankfully spared the romantic drama as Logan is out of the picture. Instead, you get to see a young Jean and Scott bonding with each other since the events of the last movie.

Despite the occasional cheesy line, it must be said that their relationship did come off as genuine.

It must be said that there is a genuine fear for him when he comes to the horrifying realisation that the one he loves may no longer be truly there.

Sophie Turner plays Jean Grey, a Mutant endowed with the powers of an ancient entity. (20th Century Fox pic)

Turner, remembered by some as Game of Throne’s Sansa Stark, carries herself as Jean well enough.

She wasn’t very impressive when she first appeared in Apocalypse, but in this movie, she was given more to work with and was thus, able to shine better.

The fear and anger that the Phoenix inside Jean intensifies is reflected in Turner’s acting and expressions.

So, kudos to her for generating some real concern about a character previously not thought much about.

Overall, X-Men: Dark Phoenix is a good addition to the X-Men film series.

While there’s the anticipation of the integration of the X-Men into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there’s a little sadness that a series that was more or less good in its own right is coming to an end.

Those who have stuck by the films since the first X-Men movie all the way back in 2000 ought not to miss this, for this is for all intents and purposes, a worthy send-off to their beloved series.