“Countdown”

6.8

Vastly outperformed what sounded like an incredibly dumb concept. The cast, especially lead Elizabth Lail, knock it out of the park. The perfect balance of suspense and absurdity. It also benefited from being the only thing even resembling a horror movie in theaters Halloween week… take that as you a may. A solid, middle of the road horror movie.

“Dark Phoenix”

6.8

Not as bad as everyone says it is. Not as great as this franchise deserves. That being said, it’s exactly what you would expect from this saga at this point. A great premise convoluted by a largely unnecessary villain with a side plot that takes away from the characters that everyone is here to see. The distinction between Fox and Disney’s Marvel handling has never been more apparent. The closing of a saga was handled at complete opposite ends of the spectrum, and I for one am glad that all of these characters are now in safe hands. I’m satisfied with the closing, but not really wowed like I was with “Endgame.” I can’t wait to see how the MCU grows with these characters and the combining of universes. Overall: Meh… Not bad. Could have been worse.

“Godzilla: King of the Monsters”

6.66

2/3 of this movie is great. The monster fights were epic, and most of the scenes with Ken Watanabe and his friendship with Godzilla were surprisingly heartwarming. That being said, the main human villain of the film came across as silly, and that entire story line got an old fashioned eye roll and sigh combo from me in the theater. I don’t want to be lectured about climate change and politics in a clear rip-off of Thanos’s plan in my monster movie. Come on, movie!

Once the story got out of its own way, things really got rolling and the action was superb. Not as much story as the last Godzilla film, but much more actual Godzilla. Take that as you will. Some will love it, some will not. It really depends on what you’re looking for. As something that I perceived being sold as a straightforward monster showdown meant to been seen in IMAX (it really takes it to another level), I was 2/3 happy. Lucky for the movie, it buried the crap in the middle and ended on a high note.

“Rocket Man”

8.3

Did not expect this one… In the vein of other music biopics, this film checks all the boxes required for a music documentary. A rough childhood, drug and alcohol abuse, creative differences, the evil manager. What I especially enjoyed about this particular one is that the involvement of the artist did not lead to a watering down of the lows, but a deeper exploration of them. I was reminded of “Springsteen on Broadway” throughout the film, as many of Elton John’s songs took on a whole new meaning and levity with the context that the various stories add. (Also, hearing the actual accurate lyrics, not the nonsense I’ve been singing for years.) The cast, especially lead actor Taron Egerton as Elton, superbly conveys this tale of excess, heartache, and beautiful music. Heavy on the musical, you’ll definitely be re-discovering some auditory gems after leaving the theater.

“John Wick 3: Parabellum”

8.6

WARNING: Quite a bit of gore. Not for the light of heart.

This thrill ride of a film erupts from the gate like a shot and doesn’t let off the gas until the credits roll. The variation of fighting styles was a nice touch, that I didn’t really catch on to until the third act. They showcase different strengths with each oncoming scene and do some of the best world-building outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I felt transported back in time to the classic “Game of Death” finale, as Wick must take out wave after wave of highly trained assassins with his signature headshots and martial arts. The characters all develop further levels to their characters, and the underground (or, under table) world of assassins takes shape as the movie moves along, but none of it bogs down the non-stop action. A feat in and of itself. I was also pleasantly surprised that they were able to shoehorn in a pretty kick-ass explanation of the film’s title. A definite must-see for anyone looking for one of the best action movies of the year!