It's officially the first day of summer, so this is the perfect time to catch up with some of the summer movie releases we haven't gotten around to reviewing, and that you might not have made it out to the theater to see yet. These won't be full reviews, but more my quick impressions (good and bad) of the last few movies I've watched.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
Directed by: Michael Dougherty
Starring: Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga, Kyle Chandler, and Ken Watanabe
Thoughts: This is a sequel/side-quel to two films I haven't seen - Godzilla from 2014 and Kong: Skull Island from 2017. Regardless, this movie stands on its own just fine, and keeps things fairly simple: giant monsters called Titans exist, and an organization called Monarch is investigating them. How much you like the movie may depend on just what you're looking for. Human characters, drama, and dialogue that ring true, make sense, or just are generally engaging? Not so much. Some pretty cool looking monsters wreaking havoc on the world (and each other)? It definitely works on that level.
Men in Black: International (2019)
Directed by: F. Gary Gray
Starring: Tessa Thompson, Chris Hemsworth, Liam Neeson, and Emma Thompson
Thoughts: It's hard to have much to say about this movie. It's a Men in Black movie, and follows the formula and aesthetic faithfully (and probably a bit too faithfully). The plot involves some aliens who want to destroy/take over the world, and new recruit to the MiB teams up with a jaded vet to stop them. Witty banter is exchanged. In this case, it's the stars that made it work for me. Put the Rock and Jason Statham in the movie (sorry, I've seen the Hobbes and Shaw trailer way too many times) and I could not have been less interested in seeing it, and if forced to probably would have found it intolerable. Thompson and Hemsworth are great together, just as they were in Thor: Ragnarok, so at this point you could put them into any action-comedy formula and I'd be up for it.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019)
Directed by: Simon Kinberg
Starring: Sophie Turner, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Jessica Chastain, and Jennifer Lawrence
Thoughts: Taken on its own, this is a far better movie than the abysmal box-office would have you believe. What really hurts it is the baggage from previous films, including woefully underdeveloped characters that we're meant to care about (Storm, who had about three lines in the previous film, X-Men: Apocalypse, has about five, here), time jumps between each of the films (60s in the first, 70s in the second, 80s in the third, and 90s here, though it really only sort of matters in the first one), and that previous film I mentioned being so awful. And it's a shame, because everyone involved, including Kinberg making his directorial debut, after having a hand in writing several of the other films, is really trying, and, for the most part, doing well. This is a better version of the Dark Phoenix comics storyline than the previous attempt, X-Men: The Last Stand (a film that I actually like), and given the aforementioned problems with character development they do a surprisingly good job of making the stakes and consequences effective.
Final thoughts: While none of these are essential viewing, and I don't know that I'd recommend paying full price to see them in theaters, I think if you can catch a cheap matinee, have a Movie Pass or A-List type of subscription, or want to see something in a few weeks in your local discount theater, they're all an entertaining time at the movies. Of the three, the one I'd recommend most is X-Men: Dark Phoenix, which was the one I was least-interested in seeing.