DON’T be afraid of the Dark Phoenix.

The 12th film in the sprawling X-Men series, which has largely disappointed is a disjointed gallop through genre tropes and predictable narrative twists.

There are plenty of tears on screen but not a single droplet from us as super-powered characters make bold sacrifices for people they love and writer-director Simon Kinberg unleashes a blitzkrieg of spectacular but soulless action sequences to test alliances to breaking point. Two-time Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain is squandered in a pivotal but thankless supporting role as an otherworldly puppet master, who intends to eradicate mankind from the third rock from the Sun.

Jennifer Lawrence is also poorly served as a blue-skinned mother hen of the dysfunctional brood. Digital effects run riot in a bloated second act that delivers carnage with almost no emotional pay-off.

Nine years have passed since the events of X-Men: Apocalypse when Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) unlocked the devastating telekinetic powers of Jean Grey (Sophie Turner).

The X-Men are now on speed-dial to the White House, ready to answer a call from the US President (Brian d’Arcy James) to rescue the stricken crew of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, which is spinning violently out of control after a close encounter with a solar flare.

Mystique (Lawrence) leads the rescue mission, shepherding the special powers of Jean, Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Quicksilver (Evan Peters). During this heroic feat, Jean absorbs dangerous levels of energy and the near-death experience unleashes years of pent-up rage and frustration.

A shape-shifting alien (Chastain) exploits Jean’s inner turmoil to rebuild her species’ fallen empire. Meanwhile, a disillusioned Mystique questions Professor X’s duty of care to his young wards, who routinely risk their lives while their mentor observes proceedings from a safe distance using the Cerebro machine at his mansion.

Set in 1992, X-Men: Dark Phoenix doesn’t greatly enrich the series mythology, delivering one expected shock that ignores events from X-Men released in 2000 and its sequel.

Turner works hard to channel her beleaguered heroine’s confusion and despair. She may rise like a flaming phoenix but Kinberg’s film never takes off and certainly doesn’t catch fire.

RATING: 5/10