Critics and members of social media have been bashing and tearing down the latest entry into the X-Men saga, and it seems since the release of the first trailer, a global memo had been released that stated, more like dictated, that the world must utterly dislike and hate upon X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
Whether this is true or more along the lines of crazy-town conspiracy theory can be debated until the days of future past, or even the apocalypse, but the point of the matter is, we were all meant to not accept Dark Phoenix.
This is quite ironic, seeing as to how this is exactly how the narrative of the film leads Jean Grey into snapping and becoming a force not to be reckoned with.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix, directed by Simon Kinberg, flips the formula that was used in the previous entry, which focused more on the spectacle rather than the characters themselves, and delivers an emotionally volatile and psychologically complex film & rises from the ashes as a powerful end to the x-men saga.
The Dark Phoenix saga is one of the most beloved of the X-Men series in its long lineage, primarily because it's not a story where you have heroes and villains, black and white.
Turning the camera lens towards Jean Grey and her characters struggle with her inner demons, the narrative corrects the mistakes of X-Men: The Last Stand, and instead of making Jean a bulldozer with no sense reason or purpose, it makes her a powerful mutant who is simply trying to understand why she is the way she is.
The slow-burn narrative builds up tension towards a final trigger moment, paralleling Jean Grey's character journey within the film - her inner guilt from when she was a child building and boiling until she can no longer control it.
What is quite interesting within the film is the ideologies that it tackles.
Here, the idea of unleashing havoc and chaos because this is who "you" are even though deep down you know that self-control is the smarter option, is the villain's perspective, with the villain being an unemotional power-hungry woman with no empathy.
Jean struggles between which path to choose, ultimately realizing that her emotions, her love for her family are what make her stronger.
The film showcases the X-Men in fight sequences that are very much worthy of the super-heroes themselves - and though the fight only occurs in the film's final forty-minutes, they are very much worth every minute due to the fact that they were earned narratively and not simply created for spectacle.
Here, it's all about character and story, with profound, primal questions haunting every character choice and narrative beat: if you love someone, at what point do you let them go? Or do you hold onto them forever, at all costs, even at your own peril?
With that grounding the film in a very human mindset, it offers a bolder, edgier, more intense, and more emotional X-Men film, one that is far more character-driven and deeply human than any that have come before it.
All the actors here are on top of their game, not holding back any punches in their performances, and doing the screenplay and the characters justice.
Sophie Turner is the standout, and that is to be expected, as she has been blossoming beautifully as a powerful performer and capable to handle all forms of narratives - Game of Thrones was a great school for her to grow in.
Visually, the film offers some beautiful moments.
Using a darker color palette than the previous films gave this entry a moodier, more realistic, intimate feel.
Even the camera work is less beautiful and smooth, it's raw, imperfect and places the audience right there with the characters.
Adding to the undeniable impact of the film is Hans Zimmer's remarkable score.
The Oscar-winning composer's work lent immeasurably to DARK PHOENIX, underlining the deep sense of unease at the heart of the story and helps to send audiences out of the theater entertained and deeply affected by Jean Grey's singular journey.
It's not sweeping and comfortable, it gets under your skin. It's really emotional when it wants to be emotional, but without being sentimental. That was exactly what the film needed to score its homerun.
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