Despite good performances by the star-studded cast and fairly fun set pieces, Dark Phoenix can’t rise above the ashes of a paint-by-numbers plot and bland dialogue.
When Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) is exposed to a powerful cosmic force during a space rescue mission for NASA, her already impressive powers are increased exponentially. However the upgrade comes with a hidden cost, as the young mutant struggles to control her new abilities, and a shadowy group seeks to tame the power for themselves.
Turner gives a nuanced performance as someone who is acutely aware of the danger she poses to her loved ones, but at the same time, is unable to control their own destructive potential. She hits a good balance between the confident and vulnerable sides of the Jean Grey character, and does her best with the script she is given.
James McAvoy is also in fine form as Charles Xavier, as he comes to terms with past actions done with the best of intentions, but now are causing unintended consequences. Michael Fassbender is great as usual as Magneto, but the confusing pacing of the plot makes his character arc unsatisfying. The rest of the cast is above average as well, but the dialogue often seems dry and tedious.
Fortunately, fans of stylish fight scenes will love the big-budget set piece in the second half. The action sequence which takes place on a speeding train is intense and visually-creative, with each of the X-men able to showcase their unique fighting styles in well-choreographed edits. The studio certainly didn’t try to save money on the CGI budget and it really shows.
Unfortunately though, while the acting and production values are good, the overarching story is boring and predictable. Though the stakes are supposed to be sky high, the sense of urgency just isn’t there. Pacing is also a problem, as the story drags on at times.
Overall, Dark Phoenix is not the epic finale that fans of the X-Men franchise were hoping for. With a so-so plot and a forgettable antagonist, it is merely an average summer action flick.