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X-Men: Dark Phoenix


Stars: Alexandra Shipp, Ato Essandoh, Daniel Cudmore, Evan Jonigkeit, Evan Peters, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Chastain, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Olivia Munn, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan

Director: Simon Kinberg

Cinemagoers seeking a tsunami of state-of-the-art special effects, noise ad lib and a science fiction that serves up lashings of action without attempting to burden audiences with intellectually credible storytelling should not be too displeased with this latest X-Men epic. Writer-director Kinberg sees to it that his gaudy action-and-visuals adventure moves fast enough and offers enough frequently startling spectacle to offer some compensation for the all-too-often sagging narrative.

Ironically, perhaps, given the futuristic storyline, possibly the most effective action sequence occurs at the start of the narrative with the stunningly stage car crash that introduces youngster Jean Gray, who survives the smash that kills her parents and grows up under the tutelage of McAvoy's wheelchair-bound mutant Professor X who tells her 'Young people like you are special.'

Which she is. But not necessarily the way Professor X meant.

Grown-up and now played by Turner, Gray almost dies during a life-threatening mission in outer space during which she absorbs a cosmic entity that endows her with unique malign powers far beyond anything any mutant has previously possessed.

Which leaves her to catalyse action and chaos galore as - unable to cope with the entity inside - she causes escalating chaos, leaving the X-Men to save the planet...

Logic isn't the driving force of Kinberg's screenplay.

As far as he is concerned scary situations and action-heavy sequences are what the box-office doctor ordered. Genre nerds are well catered for with plenty of stunning special effects decorating lashings of adrenaline-surging fantasy action, delivering a basically one-damn-thing-after-another deluge of eye-appealing sequences that - unless you think too hard about what you've seen after the film ends - ensures action and thrills galore with all the intellectual depth of its seminal Stan Lee comic book origins.

The franchise ends here and series addicts will not be too disappointed. Genre virgins, however, may wonder what the hell is going on and - as long as they abandon hopes of narrative logic and simply settle for admiring the award-worthy movie magic-generated action that decorates the often uncomfortably lumpen chronicle - but still enjoy the brainless thrills.

(The late comic book creator Stan Lee, who died before he could film his usual cameo, earns his name on screen as executive producer).

Alan Frank

USA 2019. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Colour by deluxe.
114 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 08 Jun 2019