‘Dark Phoenix’ Has Worst Opening in X-Men History

Jennifer Lawrence and Sophie Turner in Dark Phoenix Twentieth Century Fox 2019

And even though Chastain brings all of her seasoned grace to the role, the character is lost in the fray of what amounts to a conclusion of a franchise dwarfed by Marvel Studios' own epic last stand. They are pooped out and can sit out on the latest comic book flick. 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. She would trigger so many different emotional reactions. I don't know. Hoping New Mutants is wonderful.

Still, the Simon Kinberg-directed Phoenix has yet to bow internationally, where the franchise has excelled in the past, but with a $200 million price tag and mostly poor reviews it will need some kind of box office mutation overseas. She is credited as a producer on all of those films but sounds just as disappointed as fans. There's no time spent with Jean, and she's reduced to a plot device rather than a fully realized character. Movies like Logan or Deadpool are sometimes dismissed as true X-Men high points due to their tenuous connection to main-series continuity. Part of that was the end is a little intense and it doesn't feel like you should go to a tag.

Though some elements of the visuals were at times unbecoming of the modern action-fantasy superhero epic and instead more in-keeping with the X-Men's heyday of the 2000s, Kinberg managed to pull together some creative, franchise-appropriate action set pieces, with one structured to take place on a moving train being a particular highlight.

The X-Men arrived, and a battle ensued, during which Jean was able to regain control of her body - which was the exact moment that the Shi'ar empire teleported them all up to space for a trial. Additionally, none of the X-men seem to really use their powers except near the end and even then it was pretty underwhelming, to say the least.

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Currently, the worst opening for the franchise is 2013's The Wolverine which took in $53 million closely followed by X-Men: First Class, at $55 million in 2011however both of those films were met with mainly positive reviews and helped breathe new life into the franchise which had stagnated slightly. But writer-director Simon Kinberg, an old hand at X-Men screenplays (including The Last Stand!), doesn't often find dramatic inspiration in his staging apart from some evocative close-ups. However, despite all of its issues, I enjoyed this movie.

Hear me talk more about this week's in-theater highlights in my weekly movies segment for WVUE-Fox 8.

However, I think the more likely answer is that I just love the X-Men so much that even when they are in an terrible movie I can still enjoy myself.

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