X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX

Cert 12A 113mins Stars 2

This final episode in the long running live action comic book superhero series fails to finish in a blaze of glory, and instead flames out in a CGI puff of indifference.

Set mostly in 1992 it stars a willing Sophie Turner as young superhero Jean Grey, who along with fellow X-Men team members, is involved in a deep space rescue of a space shuttle.

She’s exposed to a solar flare which gives an immeasurable boost to her mind-reading telepathic and ground-shaking telekinetic powers, but back on Earth she struggles to control her enhanced abilities.

Soon she’s being pursued by two competing groups of X-Men, the US military, and a band of homeless alien shape-shifters lead by Jessica Chastain. It’s alarming and dispiriting to see an actress of her quality slog through CGI landscapes and grossly functional dialogue and direction with such grim determination.

Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult don’t fare any better as blue skinned mutants, while James McAvoy’s bald and brainy Professor X, and Michael Fassbender’s anti-hero Magneto, are rolled out once more to read minds and bend metal.

Given an eight year head start on rival superhero franchise, the Avengers, but with ten fewer films under its belt, the X-Men series suffers from previous creative decisions resulting in a confused and contradictory patchwork of cast changes, multiple timelines and repetitive narratives.

This twelfth X-Men yarn is a sombre and plodding retread of the series’ 2006 third instalment, X-Men: The Last Stand, and feels at all times like a rehashed greatest hits package of uninspired action scenes.

Sorely missing the fan-pleasing muscle of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, at least we should be grateful this repeat adventure doesn’t see former football Vinnie Jones reprise his role as the super-villain, Juggernaut.

‘Nobody cares anymore’ exclaims Fassbender at one point. It’s as if he can read my mind.

 

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