Writer, producer and now, director Simon Kinberg once again fails to give the celebrated comic series cinematic justice in Dark Phoenix, in spite of the excellent performances and spectacular visuals. The saga crashes on Blu-ray with an excellent HD video, an outstanding DTS-HD MA soundtrack but a somewhat disappointing collection of bonuses. Nevertheless, the overall package is Worth a Look for more forgiving fans.
You can read our full thoughts on X-Men: Dark Phoenix in our review of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray HERE.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment brings X-Men: Dark Phoenix to Blu-ray with a flyer for a Digital HD Copy, which can be redeemed via FoxDigitalMovies.com or Movies Anywhere. The Region Free, BD50 disc is housed inside the standard blue, eco-cutout keepcase. At startup, the disc goes straight to the main menu screen with full-motion clips, the usual options along the bottom and music playing in the background.
The film debuts on Blu-ray with an overall excellent 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode, but there are moments when the picture falls below expectations. The biggest culprit is the brightness levels, which tend to noticeably waver from rich and true one minute to murky and faded the next. Sequences in space or at night come with attractive, accurately-rendered blacks, but daytime scenes and many interiors are often bathed in drab, grayish shadows, flattening the 2.39:1 image. This is likely related to Mauro Fiore's cinematography, as it appears to favor higher contrast levels, displaying brilliantly crisp and intense whites. This makes for some spectacular looking action sequences, especially the climactic battle, while daylight exteriors are vivid, but this is also at the expense of rather flat and dull dialogue-driven moments.
The rest of the palette also seems lightly affected by the filmmakers' creative choices, but thankfully, it's nothing too egregious or disappointing. Primaries are richly-saturated and vibrant, adding a good deal of energy to the aforementioned action scenes. Meanwhile, secondary hues are surprisingly radiant and flamboyant, making for some eye-dazzling moments whenever Jean Grey bursts into her temper-tantrums or when combating the D'Bari. The freshly-minted transfer also arrives with strong, well-defined lines in buildings, streets and surrounding foliage, and viewers can plainly make out the small objects and details decorating the background while facial complexions are highly-revealing, exposing the pores, wrinkles and negligible blemishes. Occasionally, resolution quality can dip ever so slightly in a couple scenes, but on the whole, the presentation is sharp with plenty to admire. (Video Rating: 84/100)
The Dark Phoenix also rises and flies to home theaters with a better and highly-engaging DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack, sure to keep viewers invested even if the movie itself can't.
Imaging feels wide and expansive, displaying excellent channel balance with plenty of background activity that moves smoothly and convincingly into the off-screen space, creating a continuously spacious soundstage for a majority of the runtime. The mid-range is dynamic and extensive with outstanding clarity and distinction in the upper frequencies, and the vocals are precise and well-prioritized amid the loudest, chaotic moments. A palpable and occasionally authoritative low-end delivers a powerful, room-energizing presence to the visuals with several moments that dig deep into the ultra-low depths, sending some couch-shaking waves through the room (bass chart).
Rear activity is interestingly not as aggressive as some of the visuals would imply, such as when the kids are celebrating outside the manor, but once the action erupts on screen, the surrounds come alive with marvelous directionality. Helicopters can be heard in the distance, debris scatters across the room, and Phoenix's energy flames swish and thrash around the listening area. From time to time, other atmospherics employ the sides and rears, most notably the scenes inside the train as clanking metals bangs and clanks from all directions, generating a very satisfying soundfield that nicely puts viewers in the middle of mutant mayhem. (Audio Rating: 92/100)
After writing the disappointingly disastrous X-Men: The Last Stand, long-time producer of the franchise Simon Kinberg returns to the same story for Dark Phoenix in his directorial debut only to blunder it once again. Despite excellent performances from the entire cast and some admittedly mesmerizing visuals, Jean Grey's tragic evolution into the Phoenix is ultimately a dull, tired trek with some problematic misunderstandings of its source material. The saga rises to Blu-ray with an excellent HD video presentation and an outstanding DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack. With a small, somewhat disappointing collection of bonuses, the overall package is nonetheless worth a look for fans more forgiving than this viewer.