Michael Scott

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X-Men: Dark Phoenix


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Movie: :2.5stars:
4K Video: :4.5stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :5stars:
Extras: :3.5stars:
Final Score: :3.5stars:



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Movie

Sadly we’re at an end of an era. With 20th Century Fox getting bought up by Disney/Buena Vista it looks like the last of the major super heroes have finally made it’s way home under the same parent umbrella as Marvel Studios. For YEARS Marvel has tried to get the rights back for The Fantastic 4, Spiderman and The X-Men, but Sony and 20th Century Fox have been vehement about not giving up their own cash cows and letting Marvel have full control. With the major split between Sony and Disney over the Spiderman movies it looks like one may be back in the wild again, but with Fox back in the Disney fold the classic X-Men cast as well as the new rebooted “First Class” cast coming to a final end.

5 years ago I couldn’t have imagined that we would ever get back to the depths of despair that was X-Men: The Last Stand, and even though I wasn’t a WILD fan of the new First Class cast, I rather enjoyed their performances. Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy were perfectly cast and even though Jennifer Lawrence was HORRIBLY miscast as Mystique (and Fox shoehorned her into the X-Men for no other reason than J-Law was king of box offices back then), they all meshed well. X-Men: Apocalypse was a bit weak, but Bryan Singer had dominated box offices with X-Men: Days of Future Past, and the fall to Apocalypse was not THAT severe. However, studio intervention, weak directing, and the stars aligning just right have created a giant mess of a film that actually rivals the depths of the franchise, almost rivaling the dismal X-Men: The Last Stand for “what went wrong!?”.

After X-Men: Apocalypse the X-Men have garnered worldwide fame and support from the general population, with Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and his brotherhood of mutants given a section of land to live separate from the “normies”, while Charles Xavier’s (James McAvoy) school for gifted children is thriving, and the actual X-Men fighting force being used by the U.S. government to take care of things that are too tough for regular methods. When The X-Men go up into space with their jet to rescue a distressed space shuttle, Jean Grey is hit by a moving solar flare that infuses her with an incredible power. Her skills and powers are amplified many times that of her normal self, but that soon starts to reveal a terrible secret about her past. A secret that opens up a personality within her that is not the nice and cuddly Jean Grey of the X-Men, but a terrifying force of nature that could destroy everything in the world.

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Simon Kinberg was behind the writing for X-Men: Apocalypse, and not only returns to write Dark Phoenix, but also direct as well (his first feature film directorial debut). From what I can piece together from interviews with Simon, cast members, and behind the scenes workers, X-Men: Dark Phoenix was a huge mess of studio intervention, bad writing, bad timing, and bored actors. Watching the film straight through you can see that there is a good movie begging to peak through behind the veil, but what was assembled during final editing is a jumbled mess that just flat out feels like a remake of The Last Stand. Kinberg and several cast members have both confirmed that what we saw on screen was NOT the original idea. The first act plays out like one would expect, but after that studio heads interfered and forced Kinberg to reshoot and rescript about half of the movie, which alone screams budget cuts, as the final battle was cheaply shot on a green screen screen and in a very closed in location. By all reports there was supposed to be a massive battle where the space aliens came to invade earth, and Jean Grey was forced to use her powers as the Phoenix to protect earth, sacrificing herself in the process. This follows in line with the comics where in the Phoenix arc, the Shi’ari princess comes to Earth hoping to enlist Jean’s powers to help her fight her mad brother, the emperor. However, in this case we get the D’Bari (a race that the Phoenix actually slaughters in her blind rage by the billions in the comics) as random villains who just want her powers for themselves. Rumor has it that the aliens in the film was supposed to be the Skrull, but Captain Marvel beat them to it, forcing some restructuring (not to mention the suspicious nature of a studio head forcing giant rewrites with the huge Avengers style alien battle in New York) which results in a film that just feels forced and poorly edited.

One thing that the new First Class has always suffered with is Jennifer Lawrence. Back when she signed on for the cast she was THE biggest superstar in all of Hollywood at the time, with her career taking off on a massive upwards spiral after The Hunger Games. Her inclusion as a “goodguy” was a bit forced and pretty much only done to satiate J-Law fans in not making her a true villain. Thus she’s stuck around for the last several movies under Xavier’s mantle instead of Magneto’s right hand man. The problem is further amplified by J-Law being VERY obviously bored with her role in these “piddly” super hero films, and slept walked through the last two entries about as much as she did in the final Hunger Games movie. You can tell she was literally begging Fox to cut her contract, as there is a scene in the first act of the film that literally has the audience saying “whelp, guess she finally severed that contract”, and allows the film to go on without her presence (and she pretty much stayed out of makeup for the half of her screen time with her “human” persona, as she was infamous for hating the makeup process).

To make it even more interesting, the script writing by Kinberg turns Xavier into a raging douchebag for trying to suppress Jean (they make him pretty much complete cold hearted expect at the end, where he just vomits an apology to everyone before they’re going to die), and Mystique and Beast literally whine about how they always save everyone and how Xavier’s just a power mad despite (using some really cringe worthy monologues, especially with Mystique and Xavier’s conversations).

Now, it’s not all bad by a long shot. The movie is not ASSSS bad as The Last Stand, even though it comes pretty close. The action sequences are toned down a bit from other movies, but the end fight on the train is pretty nifty. You get to see Nightcrawler, Storm, and the rest duke it out with a handful of D’Bari aliens, and the face off between Magneto and Phoenix is so incredibly fun, especially as you see Magneto realize that he’s completely outclassed for once.



Rating:

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action including some gunplay, disturbing images, and brief strong language




4K Video: :4.5stars: Video: :4.5stars:
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Dark Phoenix is another “upscaled” 4K UHD disc taken from a 2K master, but this is one of the better looking 2K-4K discs I’ve seen in a while. The disc shows off some impressive detail boosts, both texturally and with colors, especially in the daylight sequences (such as Scott putting the new name on the school, or Xavier and Magneto meeting up for their chess game at the end). Blacks are deep and inky, with the battle on the train being a jaw dropping sequence that showcases not only the color advantages of HDR, but the deep black capabilities of the technology as well. The use of HDR is absolutely stunning here, with the bright reds and blues and other shades of primary colors really popping off the screen. Scott’s eye blasts and Jean’s glowing powers shimmer and sparkle with amazing pizazz, while the background colors like the green foliage of Magnetos new “home”, are just as rich and well saturated. There’s some mild softness with the cgi here and there, but otherwise this is a very impressive looking






Audio: :5stars:
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While the movie isn’t exactly top of the X-Men heap, the audio is certainly one of the best I’ve ever heard from them. This is a massively dynamic track, with enormous use of the LFE channel, and some widely spacious action sequences. The track gets off to an awesome start with the space shuttle blasting off into the stratosphere with earthshaking bass, and then the high flying action sequences keep the track dancing around the room. Overheads are used with great aplomb as the jet flies overhead, or something comes crashing down from above during the train sequences. Dialog is crisp and clean as usual, with pinpoint precision up in the front of the room, and the rear and side surrounds are constantly immersive. Did I mention the LFE? Yeah, I did, but it deserves some more attention. This is a DEVESTATING track in regards to the low frequency emissions. It’s a bass bomb from beginning to end, with wave after wave of deep bass, cooked to super hot levels, washing over you. This is a rocking track with a lot of power and authority in the low end, but one that also can get really quiet when called upon, only to shock you awake with another power house scene. Easily demo worthy reference level.







Extras: :3.5stars:
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• Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Simon Kinberg and Hutch Parker8:
-- Edwards Air Force Base
-- Charles Returns Home
-- Mission Prep
-- Beast MIA
-- Charles Says Goodbye
• Rise of the Phoenix: The Making of Dark Phoenix (5-Part Documentary)
• Scene Breakdown: The 5th Avenue Sequence88
• How to Fly Your Jet to Space with
• Audio Commentary by Simon Kinberg and Hutch Parker






Final Score: :3.5stars:


Underneath all of the rubble, reshoots, bad writing and cringe worthy monologues, there is a good movie crying out to be heard, but sadly we really won’t be able to see that motion picture by all accounts. So much studio interference and so much apathy about the whole project (not to mention coming out right next to Avengers: Endgame theatrically) ends the Fox run of X-Men movies with a whimper instead of a bang. The 4K UHD is simply stunning though, with a near picture perfect video encode and reference quality audio, as well as a solid array of extras to make this packaging an enticing buy for fans of the series. However, due to the fact that the movie is a bit lackluster, I would give this one a rental first unless you’re obviously wanting to complete the X-Men collection.


Technical Specifications:


Starring: Sophie Turner, Michael Fassbender, Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Tye Sheridan, Nicholas Hoult, Evan Peters
Directed by: Simon Kinberg
Written by: Simon Kinberg
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), English DVS, French DTS 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 114 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: September 17th, 2019
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Recommendation: Rental

 
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