It may have been forgotten amidst all the hoopla over the Avengers, but Marvel has another completely different universe with a different set of superheroes.
While “Avengers: Endgame” brought that story arc to an epic crescendo, the mutant-powered X-Men series seems to be nearing an end with barely a whimper, courtesy of the dreary “Dark Phoenix.”
A talented cast is wasted in a dark, plodding story, with lots of meaningful glances and very little excitement.
Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner gets a lead role this time around as mutant Jean Grey, whose already impressive telekinetic powers increase exponentially when a mission to rescue a space shuttle ends with her absorbing what appears to be a solar flare.
The new power affects her young mind too, and soon she becomes a danger to those around her. Jean’s supposedly dark turn never really seems villainous, though, and she never seems to be a true opponent, just a victim who happens to have powers that could rival the much more entertaining Captain Marvel.
To fill the real villain role, the film instead offers the extremely talented Jessica Chastain as some kind of alien shapeshifter who wants to use Jean’s new powers to take over the planet -- likely the low point in Chastain’s career.
Familiar faces like James McAvoy’s Professor X, Michael Fassbender’s Magneto and Jennifer Lawrence’s Raven also feel like they’re going through the motions. Regrettably, there’s no Hugh Jackman or even a mention of Wolverine.
“Dark Phoenix” can’t be saved by its action scenes either, as these are mostly dull and familiar, though the climactic train battle had its moments.
The X-Men series isn’t officially over -- it’s been revived from low moments before -- but it seems like its current form has run its course.
Rental Recommendation: “Logan” is dark, but emotional, and would have been a fitting conclusion to the “X-Men” series. Grade: A-minus.
Email Steve Ouellette at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Starring: Sophie Turner, James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain
Rated: PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action including some gunplay, disturbing images, and brief strong language)
Running time: 113 minutes