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Simon Kinberg
Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender
Writing Credits:
Simon Kinberg

Jean Grey begins to develop incredible powers that corrupt and turn her into a Dark Phoenix.

Box Office:
$200 million.
Opening Weekend
$32,828,348 on 3721 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English Descriptive Audio 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 114 min.
Price: $37.99
Release Date: 9/17/2019
• Audio Commentary with Director/Writer Simon Kinberg and Producer Hutch Parker
• Deleted Scenes
• “The Making of Dark Phoenix” Documentary
• “How to Fly Your Jet to Space” Featurette
• Trailers


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Dark Phoenix [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 15, 2019)

Back in 2011, X-Men: First Class took the series back to its origins and showed how telepathic Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) formed his squad of super-powered mutants. Two more chapters – 2014’s Daya of Future Past and 2016’s Apocalypse - followed before 2019’s Dark Phoenix wrapped up this side of X-lore.

A prologue from 1975 introduces us to Jean Grey as an eight-year-old (Summer Fontana). Her nearly limitless telekinetic powers cause a car crash that kills her parents, and Xavier accepts him into his school for young mutants.

Fast forward to 1992 and Jean (Sophie Turner) maintains a spot as a valued member of the X-Men. When a mysterious “solar flare” threatens the space shuttle, the team rescues the astronauts, but Jean finds herself subjected to intense energy that she absorbs.

This changes Jean and sends her down a dark, destructive path. Her inability – or unwillingness – to control her growing strength makes Jean a threat, so Charles and the others need to choose how to contain or stop her before the creates massive damage.

Whether you call it a prequel or a reboot, First Class started matters on a strong note, and it remains easily my favorite of the X-Men series. Via 2013’s The Wolverine and 2017’s Logan, we got two solid spin-off flicks, but I still think First Class acts as the best of the seven official X-Men films.

Of the three that followed First Class, the quality declined from each to the next. Days of Future Past combined the original cast from the trilogy that started in 2000 with the prequel actors and became a largely satisfying adventure, whereas Apocalypse was a mixed bag that I mostly liked despite some flaws.

And then we get to Dark Phoenix. Though the prior two films to focus solely on the prequel cast didn’t dazzle at the box office, they easily topped the poor returns of this 2019 tale.

Indeed, Phoenix couldn’t even crack the $70 million mark in the US, and it took in $251 million worldwide. That’s the lowest figure in the X-Men annals, so if Fox hadn’t already planned to put X-films on hiatus, this weak showing must’ve convinced them.

Though I’ve never been a huge fan of the X-movies, I’ve generally enjoyed them, and I hoped Phoenix would end things on a strong note. Granted, it seemed odd to go with the tale in question, as it essentially follows the same story from 2006’s Last Stand.

Nonetheless, I thought the prequel situations could bring a new spin on matters. In addition, the much-maligned Last Stand wasn’t a classic, so it showed clear room for improvement.

Sadly, Phoenix falters as a creative endeavor. With all its flaws, Last Stand remains a superior version of this story, as the 2019 movie sputters far too often.

Much of the fault lies with Turner, as she simply can’t deliver the emotional range necessary for the conflicted Jean. Whereas the character goes through a slew of changes, Turner remains oddly flat and without much dimensionality, factors that severely damage the movie’s impact.

Perhaps I should blame writer/director Simon Kinberg more than Turner, though, as similar issues impact the rest of Phoenix. The film comes packed with action that should thrill and drama that should provoke emotion, but even when major characters die, the viewer seems unlikely to feel much.

Kinberg can’t find the power at the heart of this tale. There’s a good reason the movies have gone with this basic story twice: it’s a comics classic.

So why can’t they get it right? As noted, Last Stand faltered too much of the time, and Phoenix fares even worse. At least the 2006 movie mustered some emotional resonance, whereas that element never appears in Phoenix.

A muddled narrative doesn’t help, as a wholly superfluous subplot that involves an alien race drags down the overall story. I understand that the D’Bari formed part of the source, but in this movie, they feel pointless.

We encounter the D’Bari mainly via a character called Vuk (Jessica Chastain), but she comes and goes nearly randomly and fails to create a worthwhile impression. Chastain seems overqualified for the role, as Vuk does too little to warrant an actor of her talents.

Speaking of the cast, I find myself perplexed by the decision to allow the First Class group’s stories span 30 years, mainly because no one tried to make the performers look much older. All the First Class performers found in Phoenix - McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender – look eight years older than in the first movie, not the 30 years that passed in the series’ chronology.

On the surface, I get this, as the producers don’t want to bury their leads in old age makeup. However, it makes no sense in terms of continuity, especially since the reasonably youthful McAvoy and Fassbender “turn into” the elderly Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen only eight years later, and 29-year-old Hoult becomes 51-year-old Kelsey Grammer in Last Stand.

We can accept that Lawrence’s Raven doesn’t age visually because she’s a shape-shifter, and maybe we’d accept the notion that mutant status slows the aging process – if we didn’t already have older versions of the characters in the first three X-Men movies. But we do, so that theory goes kersplat!

Perhaps I wouldn’t focus on potentially trivial matters like this if Phoenix boasted more of a dramatic impact. Unfortunately, it presents an oddly flat, spiritless affair that makes it a bland disappointment.

Credits footnote: the film ran theatrically solely as Dark Phoenix. Perhaps Fox blamed its financial failure on the lack of brand identification in that moniker, as the home video version comes billed as X-Men: Dark Phoenix. I still call it simply Dark Phoenix because that’s the original title.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus B+

Dark Phoenix appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a consistently strong image.

Sharpness always remained positive, as the movie exhibited fine delineation and accuracy. Any softness remained negligible in this tight presentation.

The film lacked moiré effects or jaggies, and it also didn’t suffer from any edge haloes. Print haloes remained absent.

Colors favored a mix of teal, orange and amber, with some purples and other tones tossed in as well. The hues came across as well-developed.

Blacks seemed deep and dense, while shadows appeared smooth and concise. Everything about the image satisfied.

In addition, the film’s DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack proved to be top-notch, with a vivid, involving soundscape. The movie boasted a slew of action scenes, and those used all the channels in a lively, engaging manner that brought out a good sense of the material.

Audio quality pleased, with speech that seemed natural and distinctive. Music fared well, as the score appeared bold and rich.

Most importantly, effects came across as accurate and dynamic, with tight, dynamic low-end response. The soundtrack gave the movie an extra level of life and impact.

When we shift to extras, we open with an audio commentary from director/writer Simon Kinberg and producer Hutch Parker. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/characters and connections to the comics, cast and performances, sets and locations, various effects, editing and cinematography, and connected domains.

At times, Kinberg and Parker can go down a fairly self-congratulatory path. However, they still cover the movie in a reasonably compelling manner, so this becomes a reasonably engaging chat.

A five-part documentary called The Making of Dark Phoenix fills a total of one hour, 20 minutes. The program offers notes from Kinberg, Parker, 2nd unit directors Guy Norris and Todd Hallowell, comic writer Chris Claremont, production designers Michele LaLiberte and Claude Pare, costume designer Daniel Orlandi, property master Claire Alary, SPFX supervisor Cameron Waldbauer, VFX supervisor Phillip Brennan, 2nd unit SPFX coordinator Tom Blacklock, 1st AD Josh McLaglen, director of photography Mauro Fiore, linguist Adele-Elise Prevost, editor Lee Smith, and actors Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Alexandria Shipp, Evan Peters, Halston Sage, Scott Shepherd, Hannah Anderson, Kota Eberhardt, Andrew Stehlin, and Jessica Chastain.

“Making” examines Kinberg’s move to the director’s chair and his approach to the material, the source material and its adaptation, cast and performances, sets and locations, costumes and props, stunts and action, various effects, photography, and editing.

With 80 minutes at its disposal, “Making” comes with a lot of room to explore various topics, and it does touch on a good array of domains. At its best, it can provide a nice view of the production, mainly via ample footage from the sets.

However, the tone tends to remain rather fluffy at times. We get a lot of praise for the production and all involved, comments that can become tedious. Still, the good outweighs the meh in this largely informative program.

How to Fly Your Jet to Space with Beast lasts two minutes, three seconds. It’s a comedic piece with Hoult in makeup/character. It gives us some amusement value.

Five Deleted Scenes span a total of eight minutes, 22 seconds. We find “Edwards Air Force Base” (1:12), “Charles Returns Home” (1:18), “Mission Prep” (1:14), “Beast Mia” (0:52), and “Charles Says Goodbye” (3:42).

Most of these tend toward minor character bits or exposition, so we don’t lose anything crucial. I do like “Goodbye” and might prefer it as the film’s ending to the existing conclusion.

We can watch the scenes with or without commentary from Kinberg and Parker. They give us basics about the sequences and tell us why they cut them.

We finish with three trailers for Phoenix. No other promos appear here.

Fans who hoped the X-Men First Class series would wrap on a high note will encounter a major letdown via Dark Phoenix. Despite the grand drama of its story, the film seems bland and emotionless. The Blu-ray boasts excellent picture and audio along with a fairly positive package of bonus materials. Phoenix fails to adequately explore its material.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.25 Stars Number of Votes: 8
2 3:
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