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Dull 'Dark Phoenix' closes out exhausted X-Men series

Sophie Turner and Jessica Chastain in Twentieth Century Fox’s DARK PHOENIX. (Photo: Twentieth Century Fox)

Dark Phoenix
2.5 out of 5 Stars
Simon Kinberg
Writer: Simon Kinberg, John Byrne (story), Chris Claremont (story), Dave Cockrum (story), Jack Kirby (characters), Stan Lee (characters)
Starring: Sophie Turner, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action including some gunplay, disturbing images, and brief strong language

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) – Synopsis: While on a rescue mission to save a group of astronauts stranded in space, Jean Grey encounters an unusual force that grants her unprecedented powers.

Review: Like many of my generation, I grew up reading X-Men comics. I wasn’t interested in The Avengers, they were the popular kids. I always sided with the outcasts.

Not this time.

“Dark Phoenix” was supposed to be the culmination of 20 years of X-Men films, a thrilling close to cinematic journey that has had its share of ups and downs. Instead, “Dark Phoenix” feels like a film that was made only because of contract obligations.

It's supposed to be a cautionary tale centered on Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) about how power corrupts, but writer/director Simon Kinberg has managed to transform it into a messy snarl where Professor X (James McAvoy) is the egotist and Grey, despite being the protagonist, is given less screen time. An interesting take, but there's not enough room here to explore that tangent. It’s not the monstrosity that “X-Men: The Last Stand” was, but it certainly falls short of “The Dark Phoenix Saga,” its source material.

The movie is bursting at its seams with talent; none of it feels utilized. The characters feel disconnected from their previous (or future, or alternate timeline) selves and while the dark tone of the movie matches the mood of the narrative, it never quite gets to the emotional place it is desperately trying to reach.

I didn’t hate it, but compared to how “Avengers: Endgame” was able to give audiences a sense of closure, “Dark Phoenix” feels far shallower. The "First Class" cast deserved a better send off, something like "Days of Future Past" gave to the original trilogy's versions of the characters. You don't have to tie up all the loose ends, but a sense of forward momentum would have been welcome.

Where was Matthew Vaughn when we needed him most?