X-Men: Dark Phoenix [2019] ★★

Judging from the early reviews and reactions, you’d think that “Dark Phoenix”, the final installment in the “X-Men” franchise (at least until Disney takes over), is a complete disaster. It isn’t. But it’s not great either. I think the film’s biggest mistake is that it happens to fall after a series of truly terrific superhero movies (“Days of Future Past”, “Thor: Ragnarok”, “Avengers: Endgame”, to name a few). Marvel set the bar too high that anything less than a great story might be considered a disappointment. And “Dark Phoenix” doesn’t have a great story. It’s fun for a while, thanks to James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender’s solid return as Charles Xavier and Magneto. But if we’re being completely honest, the story shows stress cracks early on, as it tries to disturb the harmony of all its characters, before bringing them together for a giant climax. By now, you probably know that Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey is about to turn evil. Her descent into madness is the reason why a few X-Men will start doubting Professor X’s ability to run his school. It’s an intriguing plot that never truly reaches its full potential. Still, the mere presence of all these characters together for a final round might be enough to satisfy fans that aren’t too demanding. But I was hoping for a more emotional sendoff, especially after the disappointing “Apocalypse”. No such luck. I’ll always appreciate the “X-Men” franchise, notably “X-Men United”, “First Class” and “Days of Future Past”, but a much more memorable finale was sorely needed.

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