Reviews For 'Dark Phoenix' Are In — Is It The Last Nail In The Coffin For Fox's X-Men?
MAYBE JUST WATCH 'LOGAN' AGAIN?

· Updated:

​When writer/director Simon Kinberg set out to take a second swing at adapting the Dark Phoenix storyline, Disney's acquisition of Fox and the associated sunsetting of this X-Men film franchise wasn't a done deal. When Digg published a guide to the X-Men films, it seemed like we'd be getting at least "Dark Phoenix," plus "The New Mutants" and a Gambit film. With how disastrous these "Dark Phoenix" reviews are, this could very well the last time Fox gets to make a big splash with these Marvel mutants on screen — and this "Last Stand" isn't too much better than the first:

As In The Comics, Jean Grey Merges With An Incredible Source Of Power And Turmoil Between Mutants Ensues

Dark Phoenix sees a fully realized X-Men team lead by Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) – consisting of Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Quicksilver (Evan Peters) – go on a mission to space[…] Jean is hit by some kind of cosmic force appearing to be a solar flare. Though she manages to survive, her already incredible powers are amplified and she has trouble controlling them.

[Screen Rant]

When a mysterious, shape-shifting alien (Jessica Chastain) arrives on earth determined to claim the cosmic force raging inside Jean for its own species, Xavier brokers a desperate deal to work with his old adversary Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to find the confused young woman before her powers fall into the wrong hands, or worse, grow so intense that they destroy her before she's able to learn how to manage them.

[Birth.Movies.Death.]

Despite Being At The Center Of The Film, Sophie Turner  Doesn't Get A Chance To Burn Bright

Turner is an incredibly talented actor, but outside of a lot of sinister stares and CGI-generated powers, she's not given much to do.

[Business Insider]

It's a shame that Dark Phoenix doesn't give Sophie Turner much to do beyond wave her hands around in a power stance. There's a really interesting character in there somewhere, and one gets the sense that she never quite gets to bring her to life.

[Refinery29]

There's a whole fascinating read on the Dark Phoenix narrative—particularly in the way it addresses women and power—that Kinberg's film only limply gestures at. Mostly, Turner does the same "what is happening to me???"/"I can't control it!" scene over and over, leaving us still unsure if Turner is a star who can shake off Game of Thrones and assert her talent elsewhere. I'm rooting for her, but Dark Phoenix is so stifled, in its curious way, that its arguable lead is left in the shadows.

[Vanity Fair]

Most Of The Returning Ensemble Cast, Especially Jennifer Lawrence, Seem Totally Checked-Out

The other characters, including Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), and Magneto (Michael Fassbender), are just there to serve as set dressing, and accordingly, most of them give performances as wooden as the mahogany furniture lining Xavier's mansion.

[Mashable]

Too many of its veteran key players seem to have checked out — particularly Jennifer Lawrence, who's all but holding her luggage in her handful of scenes — and the flimsy character development in Apocalypse does precisely zero favors for the remaining stars forced to the front lines.

[Consequence of Sound]

James McAvoy Does Get One Last Chance To Give Patrick Stewart's Professor X A Run For His Money

McAvoy is still great as Xavier. But maybe a few of those scenes of him pondering the state of the X-Men could have gone to more screen time for Turner — you know, the person playing the title character.

[Business Insider]

Only James McAvoy expands on his performance as all-knowing shepherd-commander Professor X. But that's because he's actually asked to play new shades of the character: intriguing chords of manipulation and hubris run through Dark Phoenix's version of Charles Xavier, which McAvoy communicates with his usual nuanced intensity. His scenes, when Xavier stubbornly digs in his heels and insists his way is right, show what kind of psychologically complex movie Dark Phoenix could have been had there not been all this rush to just get it done.

[Vanity Fair]

Jessica Chastain's Mysterious Character Turns Out To Be… Just A Totally Forgettable Villain

Chastain plays a character with an identity somewhat similar to her predecessor Apocalypse's – a menacing, power-seeking but already pretty much all-powerful being who speaks in cryptic one-liners – though thankfully unlike Oscar Isaac, at least she doesn't have to wear comically hideous prosthetics.

[Birth.Movies.Death.]

To His Credit, Kinberg Does Build A Few Good Moments In His Directorial Debut (Even If His Screenplay Suffers)

Most of the film's action sequences are relegated to specific locations, and that's when Kinberg thrives as a screenwriter and filmmaker. His imagination takes over, leading into tightly-wound sequences thriving on singularity and wonder. That's something you can't always say about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which tends to recycle epic battles between every other film.

[Consequence of Sound]

Actually, the ending of Dark Phoenix was reportedly so close to Captain Marvel's that they completely reconfigured and reshot it. That may have been a blessing in disguise: Though familiar, the new climax features some of the cleanest, most inventive action the series has offered; after years of writing these things, Kinberg proves himself a more than suitable replacement for Singer, one-upping the disgraced director in the spectacle department.

[AV Club]

The Movie Has More To Say About Xavier's Darkness Than Jean's — And Undercuts Her Story For The Sake Of His

At a time when superhero blockbusters are still struggling to figure out how to package girl power for the masses, there's certainly room for a tale that grapples honestly with the unruly passions stirred up by such awakening and empowerment. Somewhere along the way, though, Dark Phoenix loses sight of what it was trying to say about female anger, or male arrogance, or love or rejection or oppression or forgiveness. It forgets to explain who these people are or why they're worth our time.

[Mashable]

Each installment of the rebooted X-Men franchise has made it increasingly clear that Professor X's own insecurities about belonging and fitting in are what drive him in his purportedly selfless quest to help all mutants. And it's been mostly harmless, until now. His approach towards Jean is incredibly paternalistic — he protected her from her own woman brain! — and the revelation of his misdeeds force others around him to question his judgement. Dark Phoenix is about an idealistic man experiencing a woman's trauma as a catalyst to confront his own demons.

[Refinery29]

As A Series Send-Off, It's Supremely Disappointing

Of course, Kinberg's film for all intents and purposes ends the franchise in its current iteration, as Disney absorbs Fox's catalog and the lingering Marvel IP that wasn't already folded into their own cinematic universe. And maybe that's exactly what the X-Men needs – not Marvel's protective gaze, mind you, but someone who hasn't spent literal decades trying to get the same stories and characters right onscreen[…] Kinberg and Fox have tried so many times to deliver stories that they think people want; and after twenty years, maybe it's time to deliver the first one that somebody just thinks should be told.

[Birth.Movies.Death.]

Big, epic moments sink rather than spike excitement, and Kinberg never shakes this unconvincing performance quality throughout. You can spot production issues on screen – chopped up story reconfiguring, budget sidesteps, reshoot reshaping – and it's a bummer.

[We Got This Covered]

It's possible, of course, that there was a better Dark Phoenix once; the finished film, finally opening after delays probably associated with the Fox merger, bears the clear mark of post-production rejiggering. Certainly, this series, uneven and repetitive though it could be, deserved a stronger sendoff before the inevitable MCU reboot. But maybe it got that in Logan, whose final image is more powerful—and conclusive—than anything this skimpy, quasi-farewell can muster. Now there was a different kind of X-Men movie.

[AV Club]

To [Kinberg's] credit, Dark Phoenix is at least an improvement from the mess he made with Ratner over a decade ago. To his benefit, the responses will likely be more apathetic than vitriolic this time around.

[Consequence of Sound]

TL;DR

Ultimately, Dark Phoenix doesn't work as a single entry in the larger franchise, nor does it build effectively on what came before, leaving Fox's X-Men films without a satisfying conclusion to the nearly two-decade old series.

[Screen Rant]


Watch The Trailer

 

<p>Mathew Olson is an Associate Editor at Digg.</p>

Is The Seth Rogen Comedy 'An American Pickle' Any Good? Here's What The Reviews Say
IN A REAL PICKLE HERE

Digg · Updated:

The movie, which streams on HBO Max on August 6, has an enticing premise: a man gets preserved in a jar in the early 20th century and wakes up 100 years later in contemporary Brooklyn. But does the movie itself live up to its zany plot? Here's what the reviews say.


Seth Rogen Plays Two Men, Herschel Greenbaum, A Man Who Wakes Up After 100 Years In A Pickle Vat, And Greenbaum's Great-Grandson, Ben

An Eastern European labourer named Herschel (Seth Rogen) arrives in America, only to be pickled for 100 years in a factory accident. He awakes in 2020, and moves in with his only surviving relative: great-grandson Ben (also Rogen). Things are going swimmingly — until Herschel wrecks Ben's business, leading to a vengeful game of oneupmanship.

[Empire]

While Hershel is low-key confounded by these modern times (what with interracial dating, women's rights, and the high cost of produce), he is most perplexed by his descendant's priorities. Ben doesn't observe Jewish religious traditions and hasn't visited the family graves in years. He has no wife, no children, and no career that Herschel can comprehend. So tensions rise. In no time at all, the pair declare each other enemies. Herschel strikes out on his own with a pickle cart with wares pulled freegan-style from dumpster diving. Meanwhile, Ben stews over how to ruin his eccentric great-grandfather.

[IGN]


The Movie Probes Into Issues Of Jewish Immigration Identity — Though Perhaps Not Deeply Enough

In its best moments, An American Pickle knows how to thread the needle between fish-out-of-water comedy and retaining a thoughtful look at Jewish ancestry in America, but those moments are few and far between […] Every time the movie has a chance to go deeper, whether it's with immigration or legacy or American comfort or Judaism, An American Pickle skims the surface and moves on.

[Collider]

Made in the midst of a resurgence in blatant anti-Semitism across the US, it's a strange choice for "An American Pickle" to reveal that Herschel's greatest backlash comes from...violent Christians? The movie sidesteps the most alarming aspect of Jewish persecution — its resurgence in public over the last four years — and never even gives Herschel a chance to learn about the Holocaust.

[IndieWire]


As A Comedy, It Sometimes Falls Flat In Delivering Laughs

There are some scattered laughs but it's not particularly funny, and "American Pickle" […] is generally all over the place, aiming to be an abstract comedy about family and religion but losing its way trying to also poke fun at modern culture.

[USA Today]

 [T]he film fails to build its laughs into substantial comic momentum, or even construct many substantial scenes. (Tellingly, one of its funniest is a mid-credits bonus.) As it progresses, the material feels more and more like a series of slightly amusing paragraphs, with sentimentality wedged uncomfortably between flights of satirical whimsy.

[The AV Club]

There are laughs along the way with Herschel and Ben's mirror-image intergenerational, culture-clash roommate bromance. But, inevitably, as with so much high-concept comedy, the real laughs, the ones built on detachment, self-aware flippancy and cynicism, come at the beginning, with the establishment of the premise.

[The Guardian]


The Story's Emotional Beats, However, Manage To Shine Through

 Despite the acrimoniousness of their split, you root for their inevitable reconciliation, which closes the movie on a warm note […] "An American Pickle" is neither the most substantial nor the most sophisticated comedy, but its soulful sweetness outweighs its flaws.

[The Hollywood Reporter]

It may not always succeed as a comedy but as a drama, this is the real dill. Part time-travelling family drama, part idiosyncratic immigrant-adventure comedy, "An American Pickle"'s gags underwhelm, but its emotion and originality will surprise you.

[Empire]

[T]he thread of leaning on family to process grief is touching, and Rogen manages to make Herschel and Ben's longing to connect feel real. The movie is frequently funny, sometimes sweet, and never particularly deep, but it does have a uniquely odd relationship to time that gives it a peculiar extra layer. Call it the proprietary brine.

[Wired]


And Rogen's Charisma Helps To Keep The Audience Entertained, Even When The Rest Of The Movie Falters

[I]t's enjoyable enough to watch the actor single-handedly rescue the high concept surrounding him.

[IndieWire]

Rogen is an always likable actor whose reputation was built largely on playing crude, sophomoric stoners. But there's an inherent sweetness in his screen persona that's been there since the very beginning on "Freaks and Geeks," notably in the affecting story arc in which his befuddled character, Ken Miller, struggled with the revelation of his tuba-playing girlfriend Amy's intersex birth origins. It's a variation on Ken — the tender, passionate bear of a guy occasionally stymied by his blind spots — that steers "An American Pickle" through its narrative rough patches.

[The Hollywood Reporter]


TL; DR

Nothing in "American Pickle" can match the silly storybook fantasy of its opening moments, but they do a good job of getting us hooked. 

[IndieWire]


Watch The Trailer Here


Is The Google Pixel 4A Worth It? Here's What The Reviews Say
NOT PHONING IT IN

Digg · Updated:

The Pixel 4A, which will be released on August 20, is incredibly affordable at $349, but can it compete with other smartphones? Here's what the reviews say.


The Best Feature Of The Phone Is The Camera

[W]hen it comes to photos, the Pixel 4A goes toe-to-toe with the iPhone 11 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S20 — and often wins.

[The Verge]

There is no distinguishable difference between the $350 Pixel 4a's and the Pixel 4's camera, a phone that starts at $800. That's incredible, and if you like your photos to look good, it's a major reason why the Pixel 4a should be at the very, very top of your list. 

[Business Insider]


Design-Wise, It's Not The Flashiest Phone

The Pixel has always been a phone that felt a lot nicer than it looked — it's not the most stylish. The Pixel 4a's design is even more basic than ever, though. It comes in Just Black and... that's it. There are no other sizes available, either. Keeping to one size and color was part of Google's strategy to reduce production costs. 

[Engadget]

The word I use most often to describe Pixel hardware is "unassuming." It's basic: no frills, no fanciness, just an easy-to-hold phone without any embellishments. It's a little boring, but at least it isn't tacky.

[The Verge]


But Helpful Software Features Like Live Captioning Might Be Drawing Points For Users

Google's software tends to make up for its basic hardware, and as usual, the company has some helpful tools that make the Pixel experience better than any other Android phone. Most of these have already been announced, like its personal safety and car crash detection feature, Google Docs integration for the Recorder app, as well as adaptive battery management. With the Pixel 4a, though, Google is bringing its Live Caption feature to calls.

[Engadget]

I like Google's bonus software features that it includes on Pixel phones. The voice recorder app is able to transcribe text, for example, and accurately transcribed about 90% of my interview with Google during a Pixel 4a briefing. It just saves me a ton of time that I'd otherwise spend trying to jot everything down. Other unique software features include crash detection, which can automatically call 911 if you get in a car accident.

[CNBC]


The Performance Of The Phone Is Generally Fine, Though It Can Be Slow Sometimes

The Pixel 4a has a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. It's fine and fast enough to keep the phone running smoothly. There are a few hiccups at times, though. I noticed it would stutter while scrolling through long lists, like in Twitter, but that problem generally resolved itself after a few days. Google was aware of this, too, and it may just be that it takes some time for things to store inside the phone's memory.

[CNBC]

Anecdotally, the phone works quickly with most tasks. Unlocking the screen with my fingerprint, launching Assistant and opening apps went off without a hitch. But the Pixel 4A isn't the smoothest phone I handled. After I downloaded Call of Duty and PUBG, I had to restart the phone because both apps stalled while loading.

[CNET]


Some Of The Phone's Drawbacks Are Its Lack Of Wireless Charging And Waterproofness

Google left out one big feature that does matter: water resistance. That would save a phone that was accidentally dunked in a toilet or left out in a storm. So it was disappointing not to have it because durability was another feature that people wanted most in their smartphones.

[The New York Times]

This phone doesn't have some of the premium flourishes, like wireless charging, water resistance, a triple-lens camera, or 5G connectivity. But, it gets the core features so right that those extra flourishes seem irrelevant. 

[Business Insider]


Most Importantly Though, The Phone Is A Great Bargain With Its Cheap Price

The Pixel 4A is about $50 cheaper than its closest competitors and has 128GB of storage, instead of 64GB like years past, so it really is a solid value. And these days, any amount of money that can be saved is crucial.

[CNET]

The Pixel 4A is cheaper than high-end devices largely because it lacks the frills in fancy phones, like wireless charging and a face scanner. But for what you pay, it's a great value. Its camera quality and bright screen are on a par with many of the best smartphones out there.

[The New York Times]


TL; DR

The Pixel 4A is cheap and basic, but most cheap phones don't get the basics right. The Pixel 4A does. And just to remind you: it does so for $349.

[The Verge]


You can pre-order the Pixel 4A at Google Store and BestBuy. And if you're interested in buying a Pixel 4, you can buy one here.


If you buy something through our posts, we may receive a small share of the sale. Please buy a Ferrari. For more of Digg's suggestions on how to spend your money, check out Digg Picks.

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