FILM REVIEW | X-Men: Dark Phoenix

The X-Men films have a long a storied history of ups and downs.

From bright beginnings in 2000 to the this month's new X-Men: Dark Phoenix, fans have endured a rollercoaster of emotions in the past 19 years.

Timelines have been messed with to render entire films redundant and characters have mysteriously reappeared from the dead throughout the years, but most entries in the series have been pretty enjoyable.

The worst were easily X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, while the best were the original X-Men and and the reinvigorated X-Men: First Class.

The latest entry, sadly, falls in the bottom half when it comes to quality.

Dark Phoenix sees the exemplary Jean Grey (Game of Thrones' Sansa Stark, Sophie Turner) become more powerful than ever before. Previous films have touched on Jean's great power - high levels of both telekinesis and telepathy - but none as clearly as Dark Phoenix, where she is firmly front and centre.

Dead in the water: Sophie Turner's good acting as Jean Grey sadly cannot save the sloppy and inconsistent X-Men: Dark Phoenix, rated M, in cinemas now.

Dead in the water: Sophie Turner's good acting as Jean Grey sadly cannot save the sloppy and inconsistent X-Men: Dark Phoenix, rated M, in cinemas now.

As with all the X-Men films, it's the different ways the mutants react to threats and the changing political climate - here shaken up by Jean and Jessica Chastain's mysterious character - that drives the plot and provides the most interest.

But unfortunately, this film seems to have forgotten to actually provide any sort of context for its characters.

It's all well and good - and in fact encouraged - to carry over themes, storylines and relationships from the other films in the series, but there needs to be enough character information for this film to stand on its own as a unique viewing experience, and that's something that Dark Phoenix does not accomplish.

If you haven't seen the past films, or haven't caught up in a while, you're going to struggle to remember where each character's allegiances lie, what conflicts have shaped them and even what their abilities are.

Something that hasn't changed with this film, though, is the standard of acting, which is once again spectacular, led by James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult and Jennifer Lawrence.

There are some cool moments in Dark Phoenix, but overall it fails to rise from the ashes.

Rating: 5.5/10