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“Pacific Rim: Uprising”: Mecha-Lecha-High? Mecha-High-Nee-NOPE

Pacific Rim Uprising!

Blue Man Group: The Metal Years.

Much as I’d love for John Boyega to be successful in everything he touches, I felt sheepish about my issues with Detroit and hoped I wouldn’t have to harp on him again too soon. Then I rushed out to see Pacific Rim: Uprising in its second week of release, and realized…well, uh, here we go again. It’s still better than at least three of Michael Bay’s Transformers films, but that’s…well, I wouldn’t call that a “low bar” so much as it’s me whispering to Boyega and director Steven DeKnight that I won’t tattletale if they want to walk around the climbing wall and skip the bar as a courtesy.

I try not to hold MCC to too many inflexible rules, but one of the few remaining is that every film I see in theaters gets its own entry. Now that Uprising‘s home video release is coming up this month, maybe it’s past time to hold myself accountable for that promise and face down this long-delayed entry, no matter how fruitless it may end up.

(Look, I’m not a great self-promoter. Anyone who’s been here long enough know this. We persevere together anyway.)

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“Solo: A Star Wars Story”: From Scaramouch to Scoundrel?

Solo!

THIS IS CORELLIA. WE CAUGHT YOU SLIPPIN’ NOW.

It’s never fun to hear stories about difficulties behind the scenes on a film set. When Lucasfilm decided Rogue One: A Star Wars Story needed retooling, they recruited top screenwriter Tony Gilroy (the Bourne series, Michael Clayton) and delivered. When Lucasfilm fired original jokey directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller from Solo: A Star Wars Story after repeated clashes with the producers and the Kasdan dynasty, they recruited director Ron Howard — a known name, a respected professional, but a safe choice to save the film. I’ve liked quite a few of his works (Cocoon, A Beautiful Mind, Frost/Nixon) and still remember that time on Saturday Night Live‘s “Weekend Update” when Eddie Murphy led the audience in a chant of “OPIE CUNNINGHAM! OPIE CUNNINGHAM!” But I don’t know any Star Wars fans who fist-pumped in triumph when he signed on. I mean, maybe there were some, and we just haven’t been introduced?

On a related note, quick show of hands, out of curiosity: how many folks out there still buy anything and everything with the words “Star Wars” stamped on it regardless of content or merit?

…huh. I count a lot fewer than there used to be.

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Yes, There’re Scenes During the “Deadpool 2” End Credits

Deadpool 2!

I see a handful of critics listed on Rotten Tomatoes who might use this as their letter grade…

The Merc with a Mouth is back! And so is Deadpool!

For any regular readers who roll their eyes whenever I have one of my “Old Man Yells at Cloud” moments when it comes to excessive profanity…well, you might wonder what in the world possessed me to go see Deadpool 2 in the first place. Perplexing question, isn’t it? I am large, I contain multitudes, there are comics involved, sometimes I like to go scavenger hunting for priceless curios in landscapes that are basically alien to me, sometimes I do things that aren’t good for me, and there are other logistics involved that are too weird to go into here, even for me.

But every film I see in theaters gets its own MCC entry. I can either write about the #1 movie in America that also happens to have scenes during the end credits, or I can finish an entry for the mostly inert Pacific Rim: Uprising that I’ve been procrastinating for six weeks and counting because I get sleepy every time I return to it, and will surely be of use to lots of moviegoers when I eventually finish it because as of tonight the film is playing in [checks notes] zero theaters, having been officially yanked after May 17th.

…so. Some thoughts on Ryan Reynolds’ latest multi-million-dollar paycheck it is, then.

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Margot Kidder 1948-2018

Margot Kidder!

MCC file photo, June 9, 2017.

Anne and I were saddened today to hear of the passing of Margot Kidder, the definitive Lois Lane of our generation. Much has been said and will be said around the internet and in the media for days to come. We had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Kidder less than a year ago at the Superman Celebration in Metropolis, IL. We always talk about the actors and other personalities we’d love to meet before it was too late. In this particular case, for this amazing woman, we had no idea we were cutting it so close.

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Yes, There’s a Scene After the “Avengers: Infinity War” End Credits

Thanos!

If you can see only one Josh Brolin film this year, skip Sicario 2: Soldado.

The short version of this entry: for anyone who’s sat through all three Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America films; the first two Avengers films; both Guardians of the Galaxy flicks; Edward Norton’s Incredible Hulk; Spider-Man Homecoming; Ant-Man; Dr. Strange; and the great and powerful Black Panther…as those fans hoped unanimously, Avengers: Infinity War is the ultimate, fitting culmination of all that. It ties lots of threads together, features unexpected team-ups, makes time for heroes punching heroes in the grand tradition of Marvel misunderstandings, hits hard with heavy emotional moments, allows a few quiet spaces to breathe in between the chaos, and has a few moments rigged to invite audience cheers and gasps, sometimes mere seconds apart.

However, it is not the season finale. It’s episode 19 of a 22-episode season eleven years in the making, with three more episodes to go: this summer’s Ant-Man and the Wasp, which takes place beforehand; the technical prequel Captain Marvel; and the true season finale, Avengers: Secret Subtitle. Anyone trying to approach Infinity War as a standalone work, clinging to the notion that any and every film should be a self-sufficient viewing experience in itself, will walk away disappointed. Infinity War has other objectives in mind. Comics fans are used to major crossover events and know how the game works, but some film critics are bristling at this new idea that threatens to make movies more like comics in the long term, and not necessarily like good comics.

Okay, that opening was supposed to be shorter. Even shorter version, then: upon a single viewing in IMAX, where the volume-17 sound system purged all intellectual notions out of my body, Avengers: Infinity War was extremely cool, somewhat depressing, and, as I suspected going into it, thoroughly futile on at least one ostensibly dramatic level.

That’s still too long. One more try: if you love Marvel movies to pieces, Avengers: Infinity War is more of that but quadrupled.

Caution ahead: spoilers are probably ahead if you’re the kind of deductive reader who can put two and two together too quickly. My movie entries are normally written as if I’m talking to a general audience who hasn’t seen the film, but we’re now on the nineteenth film, the biggest one yet (literally for me, since I saw none of the others in IMAX) and I don’t know if I’m about to make this entry quite so reader-friendly. I’m not indulging in stroke-for-stroke golf commentary, but a few aspects of my reactions — including my least favorite thing about it — can’t be covered coyly without rendering them into so much useless ambiguity. If you need to brake and reverse now, I’ll understand.

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“Ready Player One”: The Movie Based on the Book Based on the Lists Based on the Collections

Ready Player Cyclops!

A grimdark timeline in which the only survivor of X-Men: Apocalypse was Cyclops.

Everyone loves crossovers! Who doesn’t get excited every time two to 10,000 pop culture characters of varying degrees of familiarity get stuffed into the same frames or panels and generate mechanical synergy for the amusement of fans and the enrichment of corporations? As a young teen collector of both Marvel and DC Comics I was bedazzled by the one-two punch of Secret Wars and Crisis on Infinite Earths, each of which tossed piles of IPs into dogpiles and let them take turns teaming up and punching each other into oblivion. This brilliant concept in apocalyptic storytelling wowed me at the time, but began losing steam over the decades as all the other annual Marvel and DC crossover events kept (and keep) producing diminishing returns for increasingly transparent financial cravings. Meanwhile in other media, we had the innovative novelty of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and mash-ups like Kingdom Hearts, Soul Calibur, and Super Smash Bros. We had obscurities like Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue, while the previous generation arguably had their own predecessor in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

Despite the amount of behind-the-scenes wrangling involved, the method is simple: pick lots of famous faces that each have had tons of stories and years of character development dedicated to them, cultivated by their creators and successors with some combination of time and care; strip away everything from them but their outer shell and a one-line descriptor of their most superficial traits; throw everyone into an arbitrary arena; make them fight and fight and fight; then, profit. Hurray! It’s a crossover!

To those who love crossovers and other spectacles a la Battle of the Network Stars, by all means keep loving what you love. After a couple decades or more of them, they’re not an automatic draw for me.

And don’t get me started on the crossover’s close cousin, the whole “Easter egg” fetish that’s become a mandatory element of every geek-related product ever, to the point that viewers spend so much time expecting recognizable tokens and high-fiving each other for spotting them that they become the point of purchase and the only reason to pay attention. Some works are so oversaturated with Easter eggs, they’re less like a narrative and more like an extended Highlight for Children “Hidden Pictures” puzzle.

That brings us to Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, adapting the novel by Ernest Cline that I couldn’t bring myself to touch after reading a lacerating review of its nostalgic self-indulgence that gave me more than enough signifiers to tell me it was Not My Thing. As if that weren’t enough, someone on Twitter (I wish I could remember who or in which recent month) shared numerous excerpts from the novel that confirmed it’s entirelty about the hero name-checking, listing, and pumping himself up with his never-ending stream of collector callback consciousness. Unless someone wants to pay me to bypass my gut reaction, count me among the viewers who saw the movie but didn’t and won’t read the book.

Frankly, I only saw the movie because I knew friends or family would ask me about it. In their defense and to my surprise, I’ll give them this: Ready Player One was a lot less anathematic to me than The Big Bang Theory.

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