X-Men: Dark Phoenix brings the X-Men saga to a conclusion after 19 years and 12 movies under the 20th Century Fox banner, as it gets absorbed into the Marvel canon behemoth, as has also happened to the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man… well, Spidey seems to be in AND out, since he appeared to have gone back to Sony, but then will be back in the fold for a third Marvel movie in 2021, either because it’s a money-maker, or because the news about the character going back to Sony was fake news?
As for Fantastic Four, Fox contractually had to make a third movie before their rights were up, but while not only was no-one interested in another movie after the 2007 Rise of the Silver Surfer sequel, Chris Evans had already long since departed to be Marvel’s Captain America, but you can’t play two Marvel characters at once, surely? (ahem, Josh Brolin – Thanos and Cable!)
But back to this saga, and another change is immediately noticeable – there’s no 3D release this time round. Both X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse saw a 3D release, but a lot of studios have been scaling back on their home releases, and similarly, TV manufacturers have also stopped making them, with 2017 seeing the last one, which was from Panasonic.
However… 3D does look fantastic when it’s done well, such as with movies that are FILMED in 3D, like Gravity and Prometheus, but all too often, studios do it on the cheap, filming in 2D and converting in post-production afterwards, leading to ‘cardboard cut-out’ jobs like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. RealOrFake3D.com confirms Fox did the right thing for the previous two movies, but they stopped updating that site before this one was released, and now this link at Wikipedia has taken over, and it confirms that this time, Fox have faked it.
Along the way, Logan was released, yet did NOT get a 3D release, but then we can see that since 15-cert films get less bums on seats, Fox aren’t going to put the money into a 3D version of those films, so 12-cert is as high as they’ll go.
I didn’t see X-Men: Dark Phoenix in the cinema. I had originally intended to do so, but then it was put back and put back (as has The New Mutants, which is coming out godknowswhen), and then the premise of one of the X-Men’s own flock turning against the rest just sounded like the plot of Apocalypse all over again. So, I left it until the home version came out. And before starting it, I see that this movie runs for a decent length of just under two hours, while Apocalypse prattled on for an additional 30 minutes, needlessly.
It’s 1975, and a car calamity leads to a young Jean Grey having to go to Charles Xavier’s school. Fast forward to 1992, so, 9 years after Apocalypse, some astronauts are in a bit of trub thanks to a solar flare, and our heroes have somehow got to shoot up there in the X-Jet. Naturally, they manage it, but the solar flare sends Jean doolally.
A situation at a dinner party leads to Jessica Chastain (above) feeling a little bit pasty, and she develops a neat trick in curing someone’s heartburn. Somehow, she is now Vuk, and she’s got a major beef with Jean. I have to admit I didn’t wholly understand that aspect of it, if at all, but then the whole situation just translates to a “good vs bad” story, and thanks to poor test screenings, the entire third act of the movie was re-shot. I’ve no idea whether that would’ve made for a better film, and director Simon Kinberg has “taken full responsibility” for this movie flopping on the big screen, but no doubt a “Director’s Cut” will surface in a few years and we’ll get a chance to compare that, then.
The extras include director Simon Kinberg give his thoughts on directing whilst making the movie, and it’d be more interesting to hear his thoughts now, following the fact the film cost $200m to make, and only took $252m at the box office worldwide. A film generally needs to recoup 2-3 times its budget in order to see a profit, once marketing et al is taken into consideration.
X-Men: First Class took $353m based on a $160m budget – so I’m amazed any more came out. However, X-Men: Days of Future Past took $747m based on a $200m budget, and X-Men: Apocalypse took $543m based on a $178m budget, and clearly, Fox would’ve wanted the numbers to head up towards that of Days Of Future Past.
What happens to Jean, and how this plays out, is actually a more interesting story than I expected. However, despite events ending up being a lot darker than usual (no pun intended), the interesting premise gives way to a very scrappy second half and a mediocre fight-fest; and it all ends up feeling very half-assed.
I’ve enjoyed most of the X-Men movies, and I like the dark tone that’s often in them, but it’s the world it has built which kept me interested to a degree. However, as a standalone film, X-Men: Dark Phoenix is not great.
A plus point? There’s a superb demonic score throughout from Hans Zimmer.
And as this is the final X-Men movie from Fox, there’s no post-credits scene.
And now some elements I’ll discuss which I’ll put behind a spoiler header, so if you haven’t yet seen this film and are planning to do so, don’t read here…
The picture and the sound is stunning, the latter be it for the action or the score, so if you did enjoy the film, then you can be sure the presentation is spot-on.
Similarly, so is the packaging. I received 4K Blu-ray package – which you can see below – and it includes both the film on the 4K disc, as well as again on the Blu-ray, along with the extras on the latter. I do have an Xbox One S which can play 4K discs, and a 4K PC monitor, but my TV is regular 1080p high defintion. I have been looking to upgrade to a 4K TV, but… it would HAVE to include 3D capability.
There’s only a few extras in there, but the second one is a biggie:
- Deleted scenes (8:22): with optional commentary from director Simon Kinberg and producer Hutch Parker.
Despite the entire third act being rewritten, there’s only a handful of brief scenes on this disc. Maybe the rest of it is buried under the desert like those Atari 2600 E.T. cartridges?
Some of these slightly extend scenes we’ve seen already. I’d put back in the first one, but I’ll discuss the last one behind a spoiler header.
- Rise of the Phoenix: The Making of Dark Phoenix (1:20:32): An extensive making of which runs for approximately two-thirds of the actual movie’s length.
Simon Kinberg says he’s glad he could take the directing reigns so he has more “authorship” of the finished product, and how Jennifer Lawrence convinced him to direct. Sophie Turner, James McAvoy and others also big him up for the task. I bet he now wishes he hadn’t put his head above the parapet.
I haven’t watched the whole of this piece, but it’s split into five separate sections: Story & Pre-Production, The Cast, Production Design, Special Effects and Filming & Editing.
- How To Fly Your Jet To Space with Beast (2:03): Nicholas Hoult talks us through heading into the great beyond. It’s a nice, humourous piece, and the first time we actually see any humour amongst this movie.
- Theatrical Trailers (6:27): Three of them – a teaser, theatrical and final trailer.
The teaser includes a moment where the young Jean taps her feet together in the opening scene (like Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz), but which wasn’t included in the actual film.
- Audio commentary: from director Simon Kinberg and producer Hutch Parker.
- Audio description: Does exactly what it says on the tin.
The box only states that the film’s language and subtitles are in English only, but there are a ton of options which I’ll list below.
The menu mixes clips from the film with a short piece of the score, there are subtitles in English, Spanish and French, and while one thing most studios skimp on is a decent number of chapters, X-Men: Dark Phoenix finally gets us back to where we should be with a massive 32!
(click on the image for the full-sized version)
Running time: 113 minutes
Studio: 20th Centry Fox Home Entertainment
Released: October 7th 2019
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS HD Master Audio 7.1, DTS 5.1
Languages: Languages: DTS 7.1 HD-MA (English), DTS 5.1 (English, Russian), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Ukranian, plus 4 I can’t make out)
Subtitles: English SDH, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Russian, Swedish, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Ukranian, plus 3 I can’t make out.
Audio commentary subtitles: English, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Russian, Swedish
Format: 2.39:1 (ARRIRAW (2.8K) (3.4K), Anamorphic Panavision)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Simon Kinberg
Producers: Todd Hallowell, Simon Kinberg, Hutch Parker, Lauren Shuler Donner
Screenplay: Simon Kinberg
Comic Book: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
The Dark Phoenix Saga story: Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Dave Cockrum
Music: Hans Zimmer
Professor Charles Xavier: James McAvoy
Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto: Michael Fassbender
Raven / Mystique: Jennifer Lawrence
Hank McCoy / Beast: Nicholas Hoult
Peter Maximoff / Quicksilver: Evan Peters
Jean Grey: Sophie Turner
Scott Summers / Cyclops: Tye Sheridan
Kurt Wagner / Nightcrawler: Kodi Smit-McPhee
Ororo Munroe / Storm: Alexandra Shipp
Vuk: Jessica Chastain
John Grey: Scott Shepherd
Young Jean Grey (8yrs Old): Summer Fontana
Elaine Grey: Hannah Anderson
Jones: Ato Essandoh
President of the United States: Brian d’Arcy James
Dazzler: Halston Sage
Match: Lamar Johnson
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.