Even with awful reviews ‘Dark Phoenix’ set to rise at B.O.

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Fox’s Dark Phoenix, the last of the 18-year-old X-Men saga, is currently on track to take the top spot at the worldwide box office with a $170 million-plus debut.

Roughly 50% of that projection is based on an estimated $120 million overseas debut, mostly coming from China. Tracking indicates the X-Men film will earn $50M-$60M.

This news comes in the wake of an absolutely terrible Rotten Tomatoes score of 24%. Consider that before this, the most hated X-Men film was Brett Ratner’s 2006 film X-Men: Last Stand which is at 58%.

Only four other films in the series have earned a negative rating – 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, 2015’s X-Men: Apocalypse and 2018’s Once Upon a Deadpool (which is merely a less well-reviewed, PG-13 version of the “certified fresh” Deadpool 2).

2017’s Logan remains the franchise champ in terms of review scores, sitting at 93%. Watch the trailer below:

While a handful of critics do find some nice things to say about writer/director Simon Kinberg’s finale, most were left underwhelmed by what sounds like a genuinely mediocre film. Not good. Not bad. Just meh.

Thus the X-Men franchise, for now, goes out not with a grand finale, but a relentlessly mediocre entry that once again whiffs on one of the canon’s great stories. The blame doesn’t lie solely with Kinberg, the studio, or the actors, although they’ve factored into it. Kinberg should get the chance to direct again, and perhaps once he’s free of the burden of trying to untangle the past 19 years of tortured X-Men continuity, his writing will pick up as well. [2.5/5]

SOURCE: Den of Geek

The phoenix that is the X-Men saga had completed its latest rebirth cycle to be reduced to ashes yet again — and this time, mercifully, it looked like it would stay that way.

SOURCE: Mashable

In “Dark Phoenix” you can sense Kinberg trying to summon that same finesse, to disappointing ends. He does pull off one diverting action sequence, set aboard a fast-moving train and goosed by an enjoyably bombastic Hans Zimmer score. Unfortunately, he also tries to explain the mysteries of the Phoenix with a dead-on-arrival subplot involving a race of alien body snatchers whose leader is played by an uncharacteristically listless Jessica Chastain. Her heavy-lidded gaze, presumably meant to suggest otherworldly detachment, merely holds up a mirror to the audience’s boredom.

SOURCE: The Los Angeles Times

I do wonder, 20 years from now, how we’ll look back on these movies. My guess is entries like Dark Phoenix and X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Last Stand will be forgotten, while films like X2 and First Class and Logan will all be remembered fondly. So, yes, it’s a shame we didn’t get one last great X-Men film, but in the end, it won’t matter. There are still a whole heck of a lot of them that will stand the test of time.

SOURCE: Uproxx

The first couple of “X-Men” movies in the 2000s, and more recently “X-Men: First Class” and “Logan,” set the standard for what this long-running franchise could and should do. Compared to that ilk, “Dark Phoenix” simply flames out.

SOURCE: USA Today

That more might be out there somewhere, in a movie that took increased time and consideration and, frankly, budget. (The special effects in Dark Phoenix are borderline bad.) What exists now, though, can’t even mount a weak defense of its own existence. “You’re right, you’re right, I’m sorry,” the movie seems to say, delivering its pat ending and then quickly shuffling off, embarrassed. If this is indeed the last installment of this version of the X-Men universe—with McAvoy, Fassbender, Lawrence, and the rest—then it’s a pretty pathetic goodbye. I’d probably rather they’d just ghosted.

SOURCE: Vanity Fair

It’s true that X-Men have never exactly been the party clowns of the Marvel Universe; their hero status has always been conditional to fearful humans, and the chosen family of mutants they’ve landed in is less choice than necessity. Why should they have to banter for us, too? Still, for what is being called a final installment, it all tends to feel both anticlimactic and a little grim in the end. [B]

SOURCE: Entertainment Weekly

Compared to the conclusions of other major franchises — the most recent being Avengers: Endgame — this one seems distinctly minor-league. The men who have anchored most of the X-Men outings are just spinning their wheels here, and while Jean’s central dilemma is certainly dramatic enough, and is most closely entwined with the actions of two other women, what should have registered as genuinely powerful instead plays out in a pretty low-key way. In no way does this feel like a fulsome, satisfying destination to a journey that started two decades ago and logged about 30 hours in the telling.

SOURCE: The Hollywood Reporter

Yet “Dark Phoenix” took me by surprise. Simon Kinberg, who wrote and directed it (he was the co-screenwriter of “The Last Stand” — this is his first time helming a feature), is a more sensual and intuitive filmmaker than Brett Ratner. He doesn’t pad out a generic story with the rollicking eye candy of mutant effects. He uses effects to tell the story.

SOURCE: Variety

A disappointingly average superhero flick, with a familiar story, disinterested actors, some cool action sequences, and a whole lot of missed opportunities.

SOURCE: The Wrap

For me personally, I am ready to wash the bad taste of the constant mistreatment of Cyclops, focus on Hugh Jackman (though he owned Wolverine), villain Mystique losing her blue skin coloring and becoming a hero because of Jennifer Lawrence’s protests, and the rest of the “Fox-men” out of my mouth for good. I am happy to let the franchise rest with – and eventually get rebooted by – Disney and Marvel.

This is the story of one of the X-Men’s most beloved characters, Jean Grey, as she evolves into the iconic Dark Phoenix. During a life-threatening rescue mission in space, Jean is hit by a cosmic force that transforms her into one of the most powerful mutants of all. Wrestling with this increasingly unstable power as well as her own personal demons, Jean spirals out of control, tearing the X-Men family apart and threatening to destroy the very fabric of our planet. The film is the most intense and emotional X-Men movie ever made. It is the culmination of 20 years of X-Men movies, as the family of mutants that we’ve come to know and love must face their most devastating enemy yet — one of their own.

Written and directed by Simon Kinberg, Dark Phoenix stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Evan Peters, and Jessica Chastain.

Dark Phoenix will be released in theaters on June 7, 2019. And mercifully disappear soon after.

 
Contact Colin Costello at colin@reelchicago.com.

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