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Review: X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019)

Director: | 114 minutes | , adventure | Actors: , , Michael Fassbender, , , , , Evan Peters, , Jessica Chastain, , , Brian d’Arcy James, , , ,

In a second sense, the “X-Men” films all use the same theme: those who are different also have a right to exist. The X men, the superheroes on duty, derive their powers from an aberrant gene mutation. As a result, they are looked at with the neck by the rest of humanity, despite having saved the world from destruction several times. This is partly because not all mutants are so benevolent. Why conform to the majority, when it can also be outstripped with special super powers?

Ultimately, in the movies, righteousness always overcomes evil. As humans, in all different shapes and guises, we have to get along together. It is a formula that after six films and a few spin-offs starts to wear out, despite the fact that the content is always slightly different. With “X-Men: Dark Phoenix,” the series adapts the same source material as “X-Men: The Last Stand,” widely regarded as the weakest part of the series. This raises the question of whether the series still has added value.

While the basic premise of “X-Men: Dark Phoenix” is not that bad, now the danger threatens to come from within. When a space shuttle runs into trouble due to an alleged solar flare shortly after departure, the X-men fly out to rescue. However, the danger is greater than expected. When Jean Gray (Sophie Turner) becomes trapped during the rescue operation, the solar flare sails right through her.

Back on Earth, her telekinetic powers appear to have multiplied. In fact, she has become so strong that leader Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) no longer has control over her. Her mind is in danger of being corrupted under the weight of her newfound powers. Between fear and fury she undergoes the transformation into a new person. A battle that, hypothetically, should give much-needed depth and dynamism to the .

The latter is not entirely evident, due to the rather muddled frame. The solar flare turns out not to be a solar flare at all, but a cosmic life force a host to live in. A nation of aliens wants to have the power for themselves and thereby conquer the world en passant. Although all this is clearly portrayed, the logic is hard to find.

What is especially interesting, however, is that Jean Gray, presented as a heroine, is the majority of the film the direct object of her renewed powers. At the beginning of the film she asks the question, via a voice-over, whether humanity is chained to fate or whether it can grow into more. That transition, especially in a mental sense, only starts in the closing scenes in “Dark Phoenix”. As if the makers had been unable to look deeper into the female mind. Embracing femininity, because that’s what it’s all about here, is therefore a little organic process. This is in stark contrast to other recent superhero films starring women, such as “Wonder Woman” and “Captain Marvel”. The intended feminism therefore only partially gets off the ground. Compared to its predecessor, “X-Men: Dark Phoenix” is an improvement, but the series can’t make it.

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