The Morning After: Jun. 10, 2019

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

Dark Phoenix

With Disney now fully in control of the entirety of Fox’s film division, the X-Men universe is in their control and, as such, Dark Phoenix represents the last film of the Fox era. While the film sets itself up with the possibility of continuation, the affable cast are likely at an end with these characters. James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Alexnadra Shipp, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Evan Peters have managed to give us terrific final performances as the X-Men in a film that, while imperfect, is the most entertaining entry in the series since Days of Future Past.

Set in 1992, Dark Phoenix sees the X-Men as celebrated among the non-mutant population of earth, saviors who have done much to improve their standing in society. During a successful mission to rescue the astronauts aboard the Endeavor as they were able to be destroyed by a mysterious space entity, Jean Grey (Turner) absorbs the energy and her already formidable powers are amplified and the walls in her mind erected by Charles Xavier (McAvoy) have begun to crumble. As Jean loses focus on family and friends through a sense of intense betrayal and her inability to control the force within her, the careful walls Xavier has built between the X-Men and society begin to crumble and with them, the safety of the X-Men themselves is at stake from both within and without.

Although Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen were the best incarnations of Xavier and Eric Lehnsherr/Magneto, McAvoy and Fassbender gave them their own unique talents and while they are modest shadows of the characters they created in Days of Future Past and First Class, they still provide strong characterizations. Lawrence, given very little screen time in this outing, does well with what she has. Hoult, Shipp, Sheridan, Smit-McPhee, and Peters are equally engaging, though perhaps not given enough material. What they are given, however, is the confidence in their abilities that enable them to produce the kind of power displays that are perfect embodiments of their characters.

Apocalypse was the nadir of the X-Men universe, although the Wolverine films were on the whole inferior with only Logan topping much of what came before it, Dark Phoenix is a step above all but the first two films in the series and ranks third among the recent four X-Men outings. It’s too bad these characters aren’t going to be given more chances to expand. I’m afraid Disney’s tinkering might have been a detriment to the film’s overall potential success. We may never know if the rumors of disastrous showings were true or if this was their attempt to ingratiate with X-Men fans for the eventual assimilation into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which without the X-Men might never have been thought possible and to which they owe a great deal of gratitude even if they should never acknowledge or grant it.

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