After nearly two decades of mutant adventures, 20th Century Fox's X-Men movie franchise is finally coming to an end with what is arguably the Marvel comic's most iconic arc in Dark Phoenix. But unfortunately, the early reviews for the climactic movie make it sound like the X-Men are going out with a whimper instead of a bang. The Dark Phoenix ratings are in, and critics are not giving the new movie good reviews.
Dark Phoenix, which will be released on Friday, June 7, centers on Sophie Turner's telekinetic mutant Jean Grey, whom unleashes a terrifying new power when tapping into her evil alter-ego known as Dark Phoenix. The Dark Phoenix arc is iconic in the Marvel comics, widely considered one of the most fan beloved X-Men stories of all time, and the movie franchise has already half-heartedly attempted to bring the arc to the big screen in 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand with Famke Janssen as Jean Grey, but that was criticized for watering down the specifics of Jean's transformation.
Because of the intense fandom surrounding the Dark Phoenix story, there has been a lot of hype building up for the new movie, but the early reviews for Dark Phoenix suggest that fans should probably lower their expectations... a lot.
After the review embargo broke on Wednesday, Dark Phoenix currently stands as the lowest-rated X-Men movie on Rotten Tomatoes. With 80 reviews contributing to its score, Dark Phoenix currently stands at a dismal 20% on the review aggregation site. That is considerable lower than the 2016 clunker X-Men: Apocalypse (which has a 47%) and the nest lowest-rated film in the franchise, 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine (which holds 37%).
To get a better grasp on why Dark Phoenix is sitting at such a low Rotten Tomatoes score, check out some of the reviews that it has received:
The movie is so eager to get itself over with that its title anti-heroine even seems an afterthought. There’s a whole fascinating read on the Dark Phoenix narrative—particularly in the way it addresses women and power—that Kinberg’s film only limply gestures at. Mostly, Turner does the same “what is happening to me???”/“I can’t control it!” scene over and over, leaving us still unsure if Turner is a star who can shake off Game of Thrones and assert her talent elsewhere. I’m rooting for her, but Dark Phoenix is so stifled, in its curious way, that its arguable lead is left in the shadows.
Angie Han at Mashable wrote:
There's no memorable soundtrack, no thrilling action sequences, not even a detectable sense of humor. Dark Phoenix isn't especially ugly or upsetting, but it's no pleasure to sit through, either. It's just there, robotically going through the motions of recounting a story, without stopping to consider why it's bothering in the first place.
Compared with 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.
William Bibbiana at TheWrap wrote:
For a story as big as the one Dark Phoenix wants to tell, it’s a very tiny motion picture, full of events that could have transpired (and many of them did) in just about any other X-Men movie. Turner makes the most of her increased screen time, trying with some success to infuse the simplistic and irrational storyline with some humanity, but everyone else looks like they’re more interested in what craft service made for lunch that day. It’s a whole lot of nothing, made from the scraps of something great, assembled with Scotch tape, and ready to fall over.
David Ehrlich at Indiewire wrote:
Dark Phoenix, on the other hand, is designed to avoid pushing any buttons. Or doing much of anything else, for that matter. It just sort of happens, and not even the movie itself seems to know why. Dark Phoenix promises that the X-Men will rise from the ashes — that Jean Grey will be reborn from her own pain — but there’s no use holding your breath for a miracle; this entire franchise feels like it’s already been interred.
Yeah... not exactly glowing reviews. But fans can judge for themselves when Dark Phoenix hits theaters on Friday, June 7.