Great character arc, weak action

X-Men: Dark Phoenix

Starring Sophie Turner, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender

Rated M

Dark Phoenix features some of the best character writing in the long, rocky X-Men film series but falls short of its predecessors in the action department.

After absorbing an otherworldly force, powerful mutant Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) confronts the hidden demons of her past.

Dark Phoenix is an engrossing character drama full of sensitive pathos, but the rest is perfunctory.

The first two acts are tragic and tightly-paced, steadily delivering damning details that force the X-Men apart.

Jean and benevolent franchise mainstay Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) attain newfound moral nuance, with Charles revealed as increasingly egotistical and disrespectful of boundaries, while Jean, who unleashes her grief and resentment through her new powers, lashes out from a legitimate sense of betrayal by Charles.

Dark Phoenix has a well-acted, deeply-affecting narrative framework about broken trust and all-consuming anger but the rest of the film is lightweight and unfocused.

The supporting characters plainly describe their motivations, but change them far too quickly.

Members of the alien race courting Jean for the energy inside her are bland, extraneous villains.

The small-scale action highlights Jean’s emotional turmoil but it’s also visually uninteresting.

The action climax is tense and contains dynamic choreography, but it’s severely unoriginal, being at least the fourth sequence in the X-Men series to take place on a train or other long moving vehicle.

A compelling character piece, X-Men: Dark Phoenix is still a stumbling conclusion to the rebooted X-Men series.

– Seth Lukas Hynes