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X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019): A Movie Review

Updated on August 27, 2019
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The first step is to know what you do not know. The second step is to ask the right questions. I reserve the right to lean on my ignorance.


Okay, first up is this year's release of X-Men: Dark Phoenix.

Friends, I'm going to tell you right now that I really like this one, even if the Internet, in general, does not. I give this an easy 8.5 out of 10.

A friend and I went to see this one Sunday. We had originally meant to see John Wick 3: Parabellum, but tickets got sold out by three o'clock. X-Men was an improvised-on-the-spot Plan B.

We were not disappointed!

The story is...

Now, as I understand it, the mutant X-Men team member, Jean Grey, aka "Marvel Girl" is one of the world's most powerful telekinetics (she can move objects with her mind) and telepaths (she can read minds and such), only surpassed by Professor X and a handful of others in the latter department.

There exists, in the vastness of space, a cosmic, intergalactic, yellow, sentient, space cloud entity known as the Phoenix. It is a symbiotic intelligence, smart and self-aware on its own, but also capable of joining with other sentient life, creating a new psychic identity, which is a fusion of itself, its vast cosmic life-span of experience and knowledge, and whatever host it enters.

The X-Men team, led by the mutant shape shifter, Rogue, go on a space adventure to rescue imperiled U.S. astronauts. Most significantly, for our purposes, Jean's telekinetic powers are put to the test as never before, in the course of this operation.

The Phoenix enters Jean Grey. The entity exponentially amplifies her telekinetic and telepathic abilities, as well as granting Marvel Girl an additional, vast array of other powers.

Now, for the purposes of the film, the chief psychological effect of the symbiote upon the host is suspicion.

I am talking about suspicion of the motives of one's family and friends. I am talking about a deepening and intensification of suspicion of the motives of one's family and friends, in regard to how they interacted with her, the host.

The process of strengthening suspicion, in the host, of her loved one's motives, somewhat bypasses empathy.

This causes the host to become engulfed in feelings of, what must be called self-pitying abandonment, loneliness, and alone-ness --- which, perhaps, synchronizes with the feelings of self-pitying abandonment, loneliness, and alone-ness that has always been felt by the cosmic phoenix entity itself.

It's as if someone broke off from the Green Lantern Corps and made her own "power ring" fuelled by abandonment and betrayal.

The Phoenix/Jean Grey entity becomes "dark," never actually "evil." I say that because the Phoenix/Jean Grey entity actually acts in self-defense, as you will see when you, perhaps, rent or purchase this movie for yourself. Oh yeah, there is one accidental death.

The two big screen heavyweights Michael Fassbender (Magneto) and James McAvoy (Professor X) continue to anchor this franchise.

As for the two actors playing Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) and Jean Grey (Sophie Turner): At first I didn't care for them, but they grew on me as the movie went on.

Spoiler Territory --- Stop Here, if you want to watch the film first!

Warning! I am going to "spoil" one little thing here.

The reason that I like this movie so much is because I think it is an exceptionally well-written film. The underlying script is very strong, in my opinion. Proof of this, for me, is the ending, by "ending" I simply mean the final and ultimate defeat of the villain of the movie.

The villain of the movie is not --- is not --- the phoenix entity or the Jean Grey/Dark Phoenix collaboration.

Now, there is a remnant of an alien race involved. These beings, cast in humanoid form, are vastly superior to human beings. They have super strength, speed, agility, and durability. The can easily rip steel doors off their hinges and shrug off bullets; it really takes anti-tank weapons to put them down.

In addition to this, they are led by a female played by Jessica Chastain.

Now, she seems to be as much a "mutant" relative to her species, as Namor or Aquaman are "mutants" relative to their own people, the already-vastly-superior-to-humans Atlanteans.

Follow me?

Now, Jessica Chastain's character seems to have abilities that make her an interesting, corresponding counterpart to Jean Grey.

Jessica Chastain's group seeks to capture Jean Grey/Dark Phoenix, in order to gain control of the Phoenix entity and its power.

Jean Grey, of course, feels tormented by the presence of the Phoenix entity within her, and, understandably, wants to get rid of it. She asks Jessica Chastain to "take it.

Jessica Chastain agrees to "try" to take the Phoenix entity from Jean's body and absorb it into her own.

Fun Fact: Jessica Chastain tells Jean that the Phoenix entity destroyed her own world. She wants to gain control of that power in order to restore the galactic imperial power of her people.

As Jessica Chastain tries to absorb the entity, the Phoenix obliterates her.

This is odd, at first, since the movie set up Jessica Chastain in such a way as to suggest that her character had everything it takes to contain the entity.

Spoiler Territory (continued): Stop here if you want to watch the film first

The fact that the Phoenix entity destroys Jessica Chastain is an exquisite ending.


How so?

Remember what I told you about the apparent psychological effect of the Phoenix entity upon its host?

It amplifies and intensifies the host's feelings of self-pitying alienation, in a way that somewhat bypasses empathy.

Jessica Chastain makes the mistake of trying to absorb the Phoenix entity --- the same Phoenix entity that destroyed her world. There can be no other being in the universe that she, and the remnants of her people, hate more than this very Phoenix entity.

If the Phoenix entity amplifies and intensifies the host's feelings of alienation, in the case of Jessica Chastain --- the Phoenix entity can only enhance Jessica Chastain's feelings of alienation from itself.

Therefore this is an untenable psychic bond.

The Phoenix is not going to destroy itself.

It's a "you or me" situation which can only end one way: with the would-be new host's obliteration.


Thank you for reading!


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