The latest and probably final film in the original Marvel cinematic universe takes place some time after they gave up trying to maintain any kind of continuity in the franchise. It focuses on Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), the telepath with tremendous powers which are in the habit of bursting forth at inconvenient moments like mutant IBS.
When she’s exposed to a Fantastic Four style dose of cosmic something-or-other her already substantial abilities are pimped up, creating a threat the likes of which hasn’t been seen since they did the exact same storyline in X Men 3.
The film is dark and violent, possibly taking cues from highly successful Wolverine swansong Logan. But where that film also shifted to a more mature, tightly focused story, Professor X’s Phoenix Nights opts for loud, over-the-top action throughout, albeit less so than 2016’s exhausting Apocalypse. It’s an improvement on that last ensemble outing thanks to decent character development and the fact it finally moves away from relying on the utterly spent Xavier/Magneto (James McAvoy/Michael Fassbender) dynamic and Mystique’s (Jennifer Lawrence) constant side-switching.
The problem is that it has one central question: whether Jean Grey controls her powers or they control her. And this is asked over and over again throughout, even after already being resolved in X-Men 3. And while it’s an improvement on that film (if only for not having Vinnie Jones’s Juggernaut in) it’s just not that interesting.
Other problems are an under-use of Evan Peters’ fan favourite Quicksilver and a half-baked side plot about space aliens led by Jessica Chastain. It also places Jean’s relationship with Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) at the core of the film who, true to their counterparts in the original films, are far from interesting. This all adds up to an unimpressive end to the 20-year-old franchise, and while it may not be the worst film about our mutant friends, it is the third worst.