Dark Phoenix (AU - M/UK - 12A/US - PG-13)

In a Word: Flat

Dark Phoenix

Sophie Turner stars as Jean Grey in Dark Phoenix.

It's a year for endings - we already watched the last Avengers film, the final in the nine-part Star Wars series is coming to screens later this year and now we have the final in the X-Men series as we've known it.

Things are going well for the X-Men who are back in residence at the school for the "gifted" run by Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) - dedicated to helping humanity find their way out of trouble, the X-Men - including Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), Cyclops (Scott Summers) and the blue "Beast" Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) - are being seen as superheroes by a grateful public.

So when a space shuttle runs into trouble in 1992, it's not unexpected that the X-Men are dispatched to rescue the crew. But as they make a narrow escape doing so, Jean becomes infected by a mysterious alien force that amplifies her powers significantly. And so their troubles begin.

Jean Grey is very much the focus of this final chapter - Dark Phoenix opens with a flashback telling the story of how she came to be in the care of Xavier and it's this tragic past that shapes much of the action to come, including battling aliens lead by a relatively colourless figure known as Vuk (Jessica Chastain) as well as each other  - yes, Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is back.

The storyline's rather formulaic with some rehashed themes and several subplots which aren't really developed at all (the alien subplot seems nothing more than a means of empowering Jean). There's a bit of a stab at making the film about female empowerment - Raven, suggesting that women are doing most of the work in the X-Men unit, asks whether it should be renamed X-Women - but this idea too doesn't really get very far.

It's not as bad as some critics have made out - there's plenty of action, the effects are solid and, yes, the acting's a bit wooden but then we've seen that before in some ensemble superhero films (and maybe we've all been a bit spoiled by the likes of Thor: Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy).

There is, however, a flatness, a sense of weariness, in Dark Phoenix (the film's name refers to the character the reborn Jean Grey becomes) which the film never succeeds in shaking off. Certainly time to launch something fresh.