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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jun 10, 2019


THE ‘X MEN’ movie series started in 2000 with “X Men”, directed by Bryan Singer, starring Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Halle Berry as Storm, Famke Janssen as Jean Grey, James Marsden as Cyclops, Anna Paquin as Rogue, Rebecca Romijn Stamos as Raven or Mystique. It was a big hit so several sequels followed: “X2”, “The Last Stand”, “Origins”, “First Class”, “Days of Future Past”, “Apocalypse” and the own solo stories of “Wolverine” (also “Logan”) and “Deadpool”.

If you’re a diehard X Men fan, you won’t have difficulty in keeping track of the various characters and their individual powers. But over the years, the same characters were played by different actors and it can really get confusing. Now, we have “Dark Phoenix” and it’s said to be the last installment in the series for Fox. For diehard X Men comic book fans, the Dark Phoenix Saga as created by Chris Claremont and John Byrne is a great favorite from the late 70s to 1980.

It has been made twice for animated TV shows and is now writtren and directed by Simon Kinberg (his directorial debut). He tries his best to be faithful to the comic book story but the material is so massive that it’s just difficult to give it justice and what appears on screen is more of an abbreviated version. The best way to do the Dark Phoenix saga is by making it into a mini-series.

The movie opens with Jean Grey as a child with telekinetic powers who causes a horrible car crash that killed her own mom and injured her dad. She is then given to Prof. Charles Xavier (James MacAvoy) who nurtures her in his School for Gifted Children (or mutants). As a grown up, Jean is played by Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark in “Game of Thrones”.

She has a boyfriend, Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), and they are assigned to form a team to rescue the astronauts in a failed outer space mission, along with Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast (Nichola Hoult), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Quicksilver (Evan Peters) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit McPhee.) They succeed in accomplishing their mission and are given a hero’s welcome upon their return.

But while doing their mission, Jean Grey encounters a mysterious force in a massive solar flare and absorbs the energy of a cosmic entity called Phoenix. When she returns to Earth, she now possesses greatly enhanced super powers that she can hardly control. A mysterious alien named Vuk possesses the body of a female human (Jessica Chastain) and stalks Jean to get the super powers from her.

Jean is haunted by memories of her past that Prof. X repressed and a sense of betrayal by her father figure leads her to the dark side. Her new powers  take over Jean and she becomes too powerful and violent, having confrontations not only with Charles and her colleagues but also with their former enemy, Magneto (Michael Fassbender).

The problem with “Dark Phoenix” is that there are so many clumsily written expository “daldalan” portions that cause many parts of the movie to go “laylay” because of very poor storytelling. As my apo Jane said at one point: “I’m bored.” Next, there’s the fact that “Captain Marvel” has just been shown and the powers of Dark Phoenix approximate those of Brie Larson, who is definitely much better and more believable than Sophie Turner.

What we remember more in “Dark Phoenix” is Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence, who usually gives a lively performance, looking so bored by what’s going on that she seems to be just sleepwalking and seems to be genuinely happy when her character died. No one seems to be having fun in this movie, not even Michael Fassbender who normally comes out with a lively portrayal even in duds like “Assassin’s Creed”. Here, he just looks suffering from constipation when using his powers.

As for James MacAvoy, he still cannot emerge from Patrick Stewart’s shadow in this his fourth outing as Prof. X. It’s about as bad as past X Men failures like “The Last Stand” and “Apocalypse” that both suck. But they say it would have a reboot to be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe or MCU, so maybe we can see a better live-action adaptation of the X Men in its future incarnations and the inept execution of “Dark Phoenix” would have been forgotten by then.