DARK PHOENIX Review — Lively Girrrl Power Theme Helps it Rise Above the Crowd

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Dark Phoenix review — A clever, refreshing superpower flick where the hero, the villain and many supporting cast members are powerful females. 

Dark phoenix reviewI was sold on Dark Phoenix in the first two minutes, when Jean Grey as a young girl (an extremely talented Summer Fontana) is sitting in the backseat while her parents happily drive down the highway, listening to music on the radio. The first song we catch snatches of is Glen Campbell singing, “By the time I get to Phoenix.” Using her nascent powers, she psychokinetically switches the station to find something more appealing, and settles on “Werewolves of London.”

The references to her future superhero moniker and her relationship with Wolverine are subtle yet clever, and serve notice that this film is something special. What follows does not disappoint.

And the timing couldn’t be better. While our grief over saying goodbye to Sansa Stark and all the other Game of Thrones characters is still fresh, along comes Sophie Turner in another kickass and conflicted role. It’s good to see this Phoenix rise and fall, and a rise and fall and…

It’s also fun seeing Jennifer Lawrence back in blue face as Raven, telling Professor X (James McAvoy) that since the females in the pack are so often saving the Xmen’s bacon, he might want to rethink the name.

And Jessica Chastain gleefully runs with the girl power theme, as an evil alien super villain whose goal is to take Jean Grey’s superlative power and make it her own. Yep, it’s the women in this one who do most of the heavy lifting, and the film rises to another level because of it.

Oh sure, there’s a lot of flashing, crashing, people getting tossed around like dirty underwear and metal being squeezed like empty Coke cans. But writer/director Simon Kinberg, who also produced the Deadpool franchise, the X-Men movies including Logan, and others like The Martian and, Cinderella (of all films) has used his experience to achieve just the right balance and still bring us something new.

Phoenix, I don’t care how unstable you are, you’ll always be a favorite.

Rated PG-13

1 Hour 53 Minutes

If this Dark Phoenix review inspires you to run out and see it, get times and tickets at Fandango.com.

Dark Phoenix review — A clever, refreshing superpower flick where the hero, the villain and many supporting cast members are powerful females. 

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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.


  1. Avatar Erik on June 5, 2019 at 11:41 am

    Awful movie. Awful review.

  2. Avatar Terry on June 5, 2019 at 11:43 am

    How is this a review? All you said was you liked the female characters and how great it is that they’re women… Nothing wrong with that but shouldn’t a review go a little bit further than that? I push back constantly against the alt-right screeching males but this review is basically everything they say left-wing critics and journalists do in an unironic way.

  3. Avatar krammagunzoshonnisey on June 5, 2019 at 12:16 pm

    I haven’t seen the movie (yet?), so I can’t say whether or not I agree with you on its quality, but praising a movie almost entirely because of its female-centric cast is, yup, sexist. Although to dilute my point, I did enjoy Black Panther that much more BECAUSE of its mostly black cast.

  4. Avatar Mark Chranowski on June 5, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    Women belong barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen making me a sandwich.

  5. Avatar Christine on June 5, 2019 at 1:41 pm

    This review just made my day! I had reservations about getting my ticket to see Dark Phoenix early, but now I can’t wait! Action movies have always been my favorite, but it’s easy to lose sight of the character development and little details that make a story more meaningful. Sophie Turner’s character is complex and I’m interested to see how she portrays Jean Grey. Also, loved the reference to the music and Wolverine. I’ll keep my ear tuned in for that when I see the movie tomorrow!

  6. Avatar Aaron on June 5, 2019 at 4:57 pm

    I would like to point out that last I checked, every critic on Rotten Tomatoes ranked this film as Rotten except for one or two critics like this one who put it as Fresh, and her entire review was about feminism. What’s with the amount of social justice in every single blockbuster movie? If you wanna have some sort of empowering feminism moment like that, pull something brilliant like literally any action scene from Wonder Woman where the women show their power in a way that fits the narrative and doesn’t seem like virtue-signalling. Don’t include a line in the movie like “The name should be changed to X-Women because women are saving all the men around here” because every person who’s seen the X-Men movies could tell you that that’s sure as hell not true. If you want an empowering scene in an X-Men movie, maybe leave it at the also sub-par X-Men: Apocalypse with Jean Grey literally shredding Apocalypse, the most powerful mutant in existence, out of existence.

    • Avatar krammagunzoshonnisey on June 5, 2019 at 9:20 pm

      I wasn’t crazy about Wonder Woman, but that had nothing to do with feminism; in fact, considering the source material, I don’t think Wonder Woman was feminist enough. I will always cite Kill Bill as the best kick-ass feministy lady action movie any time someone calls me a sexist.

  7. […] It’s the women in this one who do most of the heavy lifting, and the film rises to another level because of it.– Lisa Johnson Mandell, AtHomeInHollywood.com […]

  8. Avatar Matty on June 5, 2019 at 8:32 pm

    How is this drivel a critic review on Rotten Tomatoes? The standards must be insanely low. I write better reviews on my personal Facebook without even trying to write a review.

  9. Ainsley Haines Ainsley Haines on June 7, 2019 at 11:53 am

    This is my kind of review, because I much prefer to go into a movie as clueless as possible. You know how you can watch a 2-minute trailer and by the end get the feeling you’ve just seen a mini-version of the entire film?
    I’d much rather have someone paint some broad strokes (oops) that hint at what might, or might not, appeal to my ticket-buying instinct and then go in having chosen to witness a fresh experience that’s pretty much information-free and let it, like, do me.

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