Dark Phoenix unleashes its messy, often incoherent but entertaining fire in all its finality. Twelve films. Two decades. Nearly the entirety of Hollywood's A-list actors. All to climatically end on the re-telling of the epic Dark Phoenix saga. How were the producers going to rebirth this arc and give it the X-Men justice it deserves after the ludicrous disappointment that was 'The Last Stand'? Employ the same writer of course! And also make him director! Simples. For Kinberg, this was redemption. Undoing all the wrongs he had once inserted into the franchise. Was it worth the second shot? No. Is it better than the absolute decimation this film has been receiving? Yes. After a space rescue mission seemingly goes awry, Jean Grey absorbs a solar flare-like energy which greatly amplifies her powers to uncontrollable levels.
The Phoenix Force saga was the path to vindication for Kinberg, and in a weirdly wonderful way he did the story justice. The problem is how he writes the characters. These supporting mutants, mostly comprising of Cyclops, Storm and Nightcrawler, are severely underdeveloped and lacked the backstory in 'Apocalypse' to become compelling individuals now. Jean Grey herself was sidelined in the previous film, and felt more like an afterthought. To have the proceeding film tackle the Dark Phoenix story almost immediately with no background knowledge and emotional attachment to these reformed characters, well, naturally results in an exercise in combating boredom.
Unfortunately, the first hour sucks. There's no nice way to describe it. It's just flat out terrible. Basic storytelling interwoven by heavy exposition and simplistic dialogue that give no personable traits to these characters, almost as if no one was actually trying. Lawrence wanted out immediately, to the point that she wouldn't be phased if Beast seductively shaved his fur in front of her or if Charles openly admitted his undying pure love for Erik (make it happen!). Turner, as the eponymous entity, failed to balance her accent and rarely engaged me with her self-proclaimed stoic performance. I don't rate her. I won't rate her. Next. Chastain, my baby girl, did the best she could given that her antagonistic role was redundantly pointless. In fact, every character felt off during the first act! Something wasn't right.
But then, a shining light in the distance moistened my eyes. Could it really be Phoenix? As soon as a pivotal plot point undergoes the most anticlimactic emotional breakdown (literally didn't care anymore, glad it happened), Kinberg finds a tone. A dark, moody and ethereal atmosphere that would present itself during the second half and exclaim "I am Dark Phoenix. Sit down, stop complaining and just enjoy the film!". You know what? I did. Yes, Magneto randomly lifting a subway carriage through the ground to the sound of Zimmer's defiant score (which is quite possibly the best element to the film), whilst his mutant companions are duelling to the backdrop of heightened violins, just tickled my senses enough to make me perch precariously on my seat. It was happening. I felt it. I was enjoying Dark Phoenix.
The performances improved, with McAvoy and Fassbender leading the crew. The supporting characters had their time to shine, especially Nightcrawler. The sheer bombastic carnage during the final train sequence, in all its glorious messy CGI, was enough to keep me entertained. An undertone of emotional vengeance started to seep through the cracks and enhance the dark aura of Phoenix herself. And oh my goodness, I'm going to mention it again, Zimmer's score was out of this world. You sure he didn't absorb Phoenix Force? Because he was unleashing heavenly music, I tell you.
Look, I'm not saying this film is a perfectly good superhero blockbuster. It's not. At the best of times, it's an incoherent fiery inferno that disregards continuity as it if it was its last spark of life. But if you allow the film's contents to infiltrate your system and overpower you, I can confirm you will have a tolerable time. It is not the worst X-Men film (everyone has forgotten about 'Origins: Wolverine' clearly...) and it is not even remotely close to being the worst superhero film ever. Far too many elitists around...