FlixChatter Review – DARK PHOENIX (2019)


Written & Directed by: Simon Kinberg

Let me preface this review by saying I’m not an X-Men fan. That’s not to say I dislike the franchise; I just never got into it. I saw the first three movies when I was in middle and high school and liked them well enough, but I never read the comics or watched the cartoons as a kid, and I haven’t seen the newer movies. Most of what I have gleaned about the franchise beyond that is from video essayist Lindsay Ellis’s “Loose Canon” series on YouTube. That said, a film adaptation of another media should be able to stand on its own for an audience that might be less familiar with its source material. Does Dark Phoenix manage this? Not really.

In Dark Phoenix, the telepathic and telekinetic mutant Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) absorbs what appears to be a solar flare during an outer space rescue mission. But whatever is now inside her is enhancing her already frighteningly strong powers, and she soon begins to lose control. She is pulled between her friends and colleagues who want to help her (James McAvoy’s Professor Charles Xavier, Jennifer Lawrence’s Raven/Mystique, Tye Sheridan’s Scott Summers/Cyclops, Alexandra Shipp’s Orono Munroe/Storm, Evan Peters’s Peter Maximo/Quicksilver, and Kodi Smit-McPhee’s Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler), those who want to kill her (Michael Fassbender’s Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto and Nicholas Hoult’s Hank McCoy/Beast), and a dying race of aliens who want to use her, led by a being named Vuk (Jessica Chastain).

For a movie called Dark Phoenix, there’s surprisingly little focus on the eponymous mutant. There’s plenty of discussion and fighting among the people around her, but most of Jean Grey’s scenes are limited to her looking anxious, crying, or destroying everything–not a great use of a complex and interesting character played by an incredibly talented actress. Honestly, most of the talent in this movie feels so wasted.

The cast is incredible, but it feels like they’re giving maybe 70% at most, which might be because of how cheesy and predictable the dialogue is (including gems like “You want to fix me.” “I don’t need to fix you. Because you’re not broken,” “Your emotions make you weak.” “You’re wrong. My emotions make me strong,” and an extra melodramatic “NO!” exclaimed by Cyclops toward the end of the movie that made me laugh out loud). Maybe the cast just wasn’t feeling the script (which I can absolutely sympathize with). Maybe they just received some really weird direction. Either way, the acting is forgettable at best and cringe-worthy at worst.

Not everything about the movie is awful. The CGI is gorgeous, especially in some moments between Jean and Vuk toward the end. There are some decent action scenes. And while Sophie Turner is given a disappointingly small amount to work with, the scene at her childhood home (SPOILER – highlight to read) confronting her father (whom she believed to be dead) is both heartbreaking and nerve-wracking, thanks to some stellar acting and directing. But these few things aren’t enough to make Dark Phoenix a good movie.

If you’re a hardcore X-Men fan, maybe you’ll appreciate this movie more than I did. If you like cool CGI and fight scenes, maybe you’ll enjoy yourself. But I would advise saving your money and waiting for this one to hit Netflix if you want to see it.

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Have you seen Dark Phoenix? Well, what did you think? 

Special Collaborative Post: Recasting Jane Austen AdaptationPart II – Mansfield Park

Today I bring you the second one of our collaborative Austen Recasting Series with a fellow blogger, and fellow British actor aficionado, Anna from Defiant Success blog. The first one we did was Sense & Sensibility, this time we’re tackling the screen adaptation of Mansfield Park. If you haven’t read the book or seen any film adaptation of Mansfield Park, this Sparknotes article gives a good insight about its characters.

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Anna’s Picks

Sophie Turner as Fanny Price

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Admittedly, this choice is the result of watching too much Game of Thrones. Knowing what her character of Sansa Stark goes through on the show (well, at least up to “The Mountain and the Viper”), Turner seems perfect for the role of Fanny. (Then again, what Fanny goes through is practically idyllic compared to Sansa’s ordeal.)

Ben Whishaw as Edmund Bertram

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I was initially considering Whishaw for Edward Ferrars on the Sense and Sensibility casting post, but I realized he was must better suited as Edmund. A few of his roles have him as kindhearted but naive, which easily sums up Edmund.

Rebecca Hall as Mary Crawford

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It was Hall’s work in Parade’s End that made me think she’d be right for this role. Her character of Sylvia Tietjens uses her looks and charms to conceal her more deceitful nature, much like what Mary does throughout the book.

Dominic Cooper as Henry Crawford

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I must thank Andrew from Encore Entertainment for this suggestion because quite frankly it’s almost impossible to cast the men in an Austen adaptation. (Key word: almost.) Cooper could easily play a man who thinks he’s entitled to any woman he fancies, regardless whether they return the affection or not. (It doesn’t hurt that he had previously played another Austen cad.)

Stephen Dillane as Sir Thomas Bertram

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Dillane has done his fair share of authoritative roles (Game of Thrones comes to mind) and often times they’re not that sympathetic. With Sir Thomas, Dillane could continue that role and have the chance to become kinder towards the end (particularly after a “my God, what have I done?” moment).

Natalie Dormer as Maria Bertram


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Okay, last Game of Thrones actor, I promise. Anyway, Dormer could easily play a woman who’s arrogant and thinks she’s entitled to anything (or anyone) that catches her eye. (It would certainly be satisfying to see her comeuppance towards the end.)

Emily Blunt as Julia Bertram

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Similarly, Blunt could play a character like Maria albeit in a less vain manner. (At least Julia gets a happier ending than Maria.)

Emma Thompson as Lady Bertram

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There’s just something about seeing Thompson in a role that would have her being lazy and indifferent most of the time that sounds so appealing. After all, she’s played so many prim and proper roles throughout her career. It would be nice to see her to do a role like Lady Bertram.

Imelda Staunton as Mrs. Norris

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Likewise, most of the roles I’ve seen Staunton in had her as the kind matronly figure. Suffice to say, it would be a bit of a shock to see her being absolutely vile to the main character.

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Ruth’s Picks

Jessica Brown Findlay as Fanny Price

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I LOVED Frances O’Connor as Fanny in the 1999 adaptation so it’ll be hard to top her in my mind. I think of Fanny as a strong young woman who keeps to herself a lot as a result of her circumstances. Growing up in her wealthy uncle’s estate, she often gets belittled and degraded, especially by her aunt Norris, but she remains dutiful and patient. She’s gentle but does NOT mean she’s a feeble character. In fact, her strong moral compass and sound mind makes her indispensable to the Bertram family. After seeing Findlay as Lady Sibyl in Downton Abbey (and the unfortunately dreadful Winter’s Tale), I think she’d make a suitable Fanny. She’s effortlessly likable and sweet, but she’s also steadfast in her will, as evident in her refusing Henry Crawford no matter how hard he tries.

Sam Reid as Edmund Bertram

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After seeing the Belle movie twice the last couple of months, I’ve been quite taken with the 27-year-old Aussie-native. In fact, as I watched his character John Davinier in Belle, I knew immediately he’d make a fine Edmund. In the book, Edmund desires to be a clergyman and Davinier was the son of a vicar. Sam Reid is classically handsome but he has a kindness about him, an earnest demeanor that’s perfect for this character. Edmund is Fanny’s only true friend in Mansfield Park, and it’s easy to see why Fanny would fall for him.

Lara Pulver as Mary Crawford

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I LOVE Lara Pulver in BBC Sherlock and Robin Hood. I think she’s absolutely stunning and is the kind of girl that can make any man fall for her. Mary is charming and bewitching, as she practically steals Edmund’s heart. There’s a certain seductive quality about her as well that Lara would be perfect for.

Tom Hardy as Henry Crawford

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Henry is as equally charming as his sister Mary. He’s what you’d describe as a bad boy, perhaps even more so than Willoughby is in Sense & Sensibility. Tom Hardy simply oozes charisma and sex appeal, plus he has that playful quality that would make him quite an irresistible scoundrel. I think Hardy can display a certain sensitivity for the role for when Henry falls for Fanny and he ardently pursues her.

Iain Glen as Sir Thomas Bertram

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I’ve always liked Iain Glen since he played the villain in the first Lara Croft movie. Yes he even out-shined pre-Bond Daniel Craig in that one. Later on he popped up in the later season of BBC Spooks and now he’s in Game of Thrones. There’s a certain gravitas that commands respect which makes him suitable to play a wealthy landowner who’s tough on his children. His authoritarian style drives away his eldest son Tom, and he’s quite harsh to Fanny when she refuses to do what he says. But in the end he realizes the error of his ways and I think Iain can also display vulnerability when the scenes call for it.

Gemma Arterton as Maria Bertram

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Maria is described as vain and pretentious, and she’s a bit of a bully to Fanny. She’s obviously materialistic as she only marries Rushworth for his money. I could see Gemma play this role. She may look like a sweet English rose but there’s an icy quality about her that could work well for the role.

Rose Byrne as Julia Bertram

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Julia is not as mean nor cocky as Maria and deep down she resents her sister for being so over-indulgent. Seems that Rose has been in a lot of American comedies lately, I’m curious to see her in a period drama like this one.

Helena Bonham Carter as Lady Bertram

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I always see Helena being so feisty all the time, I’d like to see her play a rather lethargic character. Lady Bertram is described as neurotic as she’s dependent on her pills and all she does is lounge around in the house doing absolutely nothing. There’s something childlike about this character that I think Helena can pull off with aplomb.

Brenda Blethyn as Mrs. Norris

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Having played Mrs. Benett in Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice, I somehow think it’d be interesting to see her play a mean-spirited character here. I absolutely loathe Mrs. Norris, especially her treatment to Fanny, always reminding her of her *place* in the family in the cruelest way. Blethyn often plays comedic character and sometimes comedic performers often make convincing villains.


Previous Jane Austen Recasting Post:

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Well, those are our picks for the main characters Mansfield Park. Let us know your thoughts and feel free to offer your own picks in the comments!