Christian Movie Interviews, News and Reviews

6 Things Parents Should Know about Dark Phoenix

  • Michael Foust
6 Things Parents Should Know about <em>Dark Phoenix</em>

Jean Grey is a superhero who has lost control over her emotions. She’s bitter. She’s depressed. Most of all, though, she’s angry. Very angry.

She wasn’t always like this.

As a young girl and then a teenager and young woman, she was a mutant who possessed the power to read minds and move objects with her thoughts. At the School for Gifted Youngsters, she learned to use her powers for good.

But then she took part in a space rescue mission to save the Space Shuttle astronauts. And then she was hit by a cosmic force that gave her more powers than any mutant in the universe. It also resurrected negative emotions from her past that were suppressed – emotions that could cause her to go on a rage-filled attack and tear the X-Men apart (and destroy the Earth, too).

The X-Men film Dark Phoenix (PG-13) opens this weekend, starring Sophie Turner as Jean Grey/Phoenix, James McAvoy as Professor Charles Xavier, Jennifer Lawrence as Raven/Mystique, and Jessica Chastain as the evil Vuk.

It is the 12th X-Men film.

Here are six things you should know:

Photo courtesy: 20th Century Fox

1. It’s the Final Movie Before a Possible Reboot

1. It’s the Final Movie Before a Possible Reboot

Twentieth Century Fox is the studio behind Dark Phoenix and the X-Men series, which launched in 2000 and never achieved the massive popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). But now that Disney owns both Marvel and 20th Century Fox, it is widely expected Disney will re-launch or even reboot the franchise. (A film previously under development, The New Mutants, is scheduled for a 2020 release.)  

MCU movies rank one through four among the top-grossing superhero films of all time. The highest X-Men film (Deadpool) ranks 16th. The highest non-R-rated X-Men movie (X-Men: The Last Stand) ranks 32nd. No, the X-Men films haven’t achieved MCU-type success. Still, the X-Men helped pave the way for the huge success of the superhero movies from the last decade.

Photo courtesy: 20th Century Fox

2. It’s a Semi-Remake of a Film Few Liked

2. It’s a Semi-Remake of a Film Few Liked

If the Dark Phoenix story sounds familiar, that’s because it’s already been part of an X-Men movie. The 2006 film X-Men: The Last Stand also told the story of Jean Grey and her out-of-control, alter-ego Phoenix, but with a different plot. That film was not received well by critics and moviegoers, and a new movie eventually was launched. 

Jean/Phoenix died in The Last Stand, but the 2014 film X-Men: Days of Future Past erased the events of the past and brought Jean back to life.

Photo courtesy: 20th Century Fox

3. It Has an Engaging Family-Centric Plot

3. It Has an Engaging Family-Centric Plot

Mild spoilers ahead! Jean was raised by Professor X in the School for Gifted Youngsters after a car crash supposedly killed her mother and father. But when she learns her father survived the car crash and had given her to Professor X because he didn’t know how to raise a superhero daughter, she grows depressed and angry. She begins asking: Who is my family?

The film raises questions about family that many children have. Raven tells Jean the X-Men are her family: “I’m not giving up on you Jean. This is what family does.” Children who are adopted or who came from broken homes might find the plot troubling, but it has a happy ending.

Photo courtesy: 20th Century Fox

4. It Tackles a Few Other Big Issues, Too

4. It Tackles a Few Other Big Issues, Too

The children in the School for Gifted Youngsters are considered “special.” But as Professor X tells Jean, “special” means you have a gift. It means you’re different. And different can be good. Such a message is needed in the real world, where children and teenagers (especially Christian ones) are tempted to follow the crowd. As Jean asks early in the film: “Who are we? Are we simply what others want us to be?”

The movie also includes lessons on temptation (Jean is told she has the power to control the universe), emotions (Jean has trouble controlling hers) and forgiveness (Jean forgives a major character in the film’s final scenes).

Photo courtesy: 20th Century Fox

5. It's Quite Violent

5. It's Quite Violent

Dark Phoenix is rated PG-13 for “intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action including some gunplay, disturbing images, and brief strong language.” It has the typical punching and fighting and exploding as seen in most superhero movies, but it also includes more gunfire than most superhero films, too. The plot involves a race of shape-shifting aliens, the D’Bari, who inhabit human bodies and try to take over Earth. Bullets, though, don’t kill them, and we see several D’Bari shot hundreds of times and survive. (Spoiler alert) Two major X-Men characters die (one from a gruesome impalement.) Of course, the movie includes mind-reading, mind-control and teleportation, too (the powers of the X-Men). 

Dark Phoenix doesn’t include any sexuality (minus a couple of kisses) but it does have strong language (GD and the F-word are said once each, along with one misuse of “Jesus Christ.” All total, there are about eight coarse words).

Photo courtesy: 20th Century Fox

6. It’s Good, but not Great

6. It’s Good, but not Great

The superhero fan world can be cliquish. There are MCU fans. And DC fans. And X-Men fans. And Fantastic Four fans. But I’m a superhero fan who enjoys all of them.

Sure, it’s a bit odd to watch the Phoenix character come to life again, but as a stand-alone movie, Dark Phoenix is pretty good. It has a fun plot. It has a clearly defined good-vs.-evil worldview. It doesn’t have over-the-top violence. It has a few surprises. It even has an other-worldly score by the super-talented Hans Zimmer.  

The ending sets up the next round of movies, too – if Disney wants to follow it. 

Oh yeah. Dark Phoenix doesn’t have any mid-credit or post-credit scenes. This time, you can leave the theater when the credits roll.      

Entertainment rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Family-friendly rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.

Photo courtesy: 20th Century Fox





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