Dark Phoenix Parent Guide
A reasonably entertaining popcorn flick for teen and adult fans of mutants and superheroes.
Parent Movie Review
On a mission to save the crew of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, the X-Men encounter a massive wave of…something in space. Although they rescue the crew, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) doesn’t make it out of the shuttle in time and is hit by the anomaly. When the wave passes, the rest of the X-Men find her floating in space, as healthy as ever. Upon their return to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, they realize Jean might not be as well as she seems, and worse still, her powers might be growing out of control…
There are quite a few things I liked about this film. For one, this is the only X-Men movie that confronts Charles Xavier’s (James McAvoy) manipulative behavior and its consequences in any depth. Other entries in the franchise usually hold him up as some uncompromising moral hero, although his mistakes frequently have serious consequences. Dark Phoenix also takes a more compassionate view of Erik Lensherr, aka Magneto (Michael Fassbender), who has been a dubiously relatable villain in the past. In this film, he is less a villain and more a penitent, albeit conflicted and reluctant, hero. By avoiding the trap of having one ultimate hero and one ultimate villain, Dark Phoenix can take a more nuanced look at its characters, with all their flaws and complexities.
On the downside, the film’s pacing is a bit wonky. The first two acts feel reined in, not slow exactly, just taking their time with the characters and subjects. By act three, things speed up, but rather than giving a sense of accelerating intensity, the movie just starts to feel rushed. Maybe that’s part of the reason I found it vaguely unsatisfying. Without spoiling anything, I found that by the end of the film most characters seemed to be at a status quo ante, despite the massive consequences and events stemming from the plot. Sure, the leads do some shuffling around and make some new choices, but most characters seem completely unaffected. When you’re one of the first superhero movies to come out after Avengers: Endgame, you’ve got to bring something more impressive to the table than the leftovers of X-Men 3: The Last Stand with a dash of Captain Marvel.
Parental concerns are going to be about the same as with other superhero movies, with violence being the primary issue. This film is slightly more graphic than some others in the franchise – leading to its very appropriate PG-13 rating - but less brutal than Endgame or Infinity War. And although it gets an automatic C grade from us for having one extreme profanity, there’s very little other cussing.
Dark Phoenix isn’t objectionable or bad, but that doesn’t make it great. Fans of X-Men or the superhero genre in general will probably find something to like in the film, and it’s not a terrible way to spend two hours despite its uneven pacing. Call me old fashioned, but I’ll take the corny early-2000’s X-Men films over this any day. With Hugh Jackman owning the role of Wolverine and Sirs Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart bringing a quiet dignity to the project, those movies have a special place in my heart. The special effects are worse, but they’re more fun to watch.Directed by Simon Kinberg. Starring Sophie Turner, Jennifer Lawrence, and Nicholas Hoult. Running time: 114 minutes. Theatrical release June 7, 2019. Updated June 7, 2019
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Rating & Content Info
Why is Dark Phoenix rated PG-13? Dark Phoenix is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action including some gunplay, disturbing images, and brief strong language
Violence: There is frequent superhero-style violence throughout the film, which includes individuals being thrown into the air, thrown against walls, punched, impaled on or by other objects, crushed, blown up, electrocuted, hit by trains or cars, hit by lasers, and disintegrated. Other incidents include individuals being tazered, several helicopter crashes, and a violent car wreck.
Sexual Content: No sexual content.
Profanity: There is one use of extreme profanity, one use of scatological terms, and perhaps a dozen mild profanities and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Several adult characters are shown drinking socially throughout the film. No one is shown as intoxicated. Drugs are not used or mentioned.
Page last updated June 7, 2019
Dark Phoenix Parents' Guide
Professor X struggles with his proclivity for manipulating and patronizing his friends and allies. How does he come to terms with this? Can you think of a better solution? He also struggles with accepting responsibility. Magneto says at one point: “You’re always sorry, Charles. And there’s always a speech.” Why is Magneto no longer interested in Professor X’s apologies? What could Professor X have done to take responsibility for his actions in a more meaningful way?
Even after Jean has committed some minor atrocities as Phoenix, Charles refuses to give up on the possibility of her redemption. How can we keep faith in our friends, while still holding them accountable for their actions?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
James Patterson’s Maximum Ride series features teens who have been experimented on and now have wings that give them the ability to fly. The Angel Experiment: A Maximum Ride Novel is the first in the series.
John Wyndham’s classic novel, The Chrysalids is set in a post-nuclear war world where genetic purity is enshrined in both law and religion and mutations are killed or banished. But a group of kids discover they are telepathic…and they have to hide their gift at all costs.
Agnieszka is taken by the dragon when she’s 17. He doesn’t know – and neither does she – that she has a hidden gift of magic. Uprooted by Naomi Novik contains some minor sexual content. For older teens and up. Another novel by the same author, Spinning Silver, features a heroine with the Midas touch.
E K Johnston’s A Thousand Nights, features a quiet heroine, taken by the king who plans to kill her. But she has gifts and abilities she could never imagine.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs should be a safe place for unusual youngsters. But we know how likely that is going to be…
Related home video titles:
For the first treatment of Jean Grey’s descent into villainy, 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand explores her personal relationships with the other team members and the political difficulties that changed her position.
For another film in which a character struggles to control an alien which occupies his body, 2018’s Venom, starring Tom Hardy, is a lot of fun. Both funnier and gorier than this film, but still technically a Marvel property.
Giant space clouds of dubious intent aren’t all that uncommon in film (unfortunately), but one of my favorites is in Star Trek: Generations, which stars the original Professor X, Patrick Stewart, along with William Shatner as they struggle to understand a massive space abnormality known as “The Nexus”.
For a movie about mutants that kids can watch, there’s cheesy fun in TMNT Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.