Yes, There’s a Moment after “Da 5 Bloods” End Credits

Da 5 Bloods!

Five men in search of T’Challa.

Longtime MCC readers know the rule: every film I see in theaters gets its own entry. That rule hasn’t come up much lately because (previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover) our last theater experience was the first weekend of March. Entries about my home video consumption tend to be a no-fly zone for any kind of inbound traffic, but every so often I’ll ignore my blog stats and go for it anyway. Then again, that’s my approach to 90% of what I post here, so why hold my viewing habits to a tougher standard?

I do miss theaters. To a lesser degree I miss racking my brain for the occasional movie entry. I do go out on a limb for the occasional Netflix Original. And though I’ve only seen six previous Spike Lee films (that really should be higher), it seemed remiss to watch his new joint Da 5 Bloods and then do nothing else to engage with the experience.

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Yes, There’s a Message After the “Birds of Prey” End Credits

Birds of Prey!

They gleefully aimed for an R rating, but their spoof of Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” adds clothing to the central figure. I bet Ryan Reynolds would’ve gone there.

I thought Harley Quinn was a pretty nifty addition to the wild world of Batman when she debuted on his animated series way back when I was in college. I was surprised DC Comics took as long as they did to bring her to the printed page. I lost interest in her shortly before she was anointed the Greatest DC Character of the Millennium and had a personal hype machine devoted to her. Some of our separation is my own fault; it’s a peculiar personal phenomenon that I tend to lose interest in an up-‘n’-coming character whenever they start feeling too popular.

I had several reservations about Suicide Squad, but Margot Robbie’s debut as a live-action Harley wasn’t among them. And yet, I wasn’t among the fans chanting “MORE! MORE! MORE! MORE! MORE!” when DC announced she’d return in Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. In my mind she’s in danger of becoming the kind of character that guest-stars in eight comics a month and overstays their welcome. We had a lot of those in the ’90s (Ghost Rider! Wolverine! Punisher! Lobo!) whose ubiquity turned me off. And yet, the Birds of Prey trailers managed to avoid any vibe resembling an Elektra or Catwoman-level failure.

My son and I showed up opening weekend, days before disappointed theater owners apparently banded together and decided it should be called Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey instead. I for one agree with this change, which more accurately reflects the film’s true contents of 90% Harley to 10% Birds. Too bad they couldn’t have made film retitling a standard practice back when Edge of Tomorrow failed to live down its empty soap-opera name.

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Yes, There’s a Deleted Musical Number During the “Midway” End Credits

Midway!

Once again the world is saved thanks to EXPLOSIONS!

One of MCC’s steadfast rules is that every film I see in theaters gets its own entry, for better or worse or in between. My wife Anne and I saw Roland Emmerich’s Midway on opening weekend because World War II history is among her greatest proficiencies. Theaters don’t screen as many WWII films as they used to back in ancient times, but when they do, we try to be there. For us they’re good excuses for am afternoon date, even when they’re not a good use of filmmaking funds or resources.

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Yes, There’s a Scene After the “Frozen II” End Credits

Frozen II!

The band reunites for the sophomore follow-up to their bestselling self-titled debut album.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: six years ago Disney’s Frozen made a kajillion dollars, set off a new merchandising phenomenon, and inspired more than a few cosplayers at our favorite conventions. The cooled-down coterie is back for Frozen II, which was rightly deemed good enough for a theatrical release and not immediately consigned to Disney+ like that Lady and the Tramp do-over or the Teenage Kurt Russell Comedy Collection.

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Yes, There’s a Scene During the “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” End Credits

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood!

Meet Rick and Cliff. Or call them by their bro-couple name, Riff.

The trailer calls it Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood. Some online resources call it Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood. Others call it simply Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and rip out the ellipsis like the vestigial decoration it is. It’s not as though this site suffers from an ellipsis deficiency, so I’m leaving them out as Quentin Tarantino’s latest period piece has more than enough “period” to go around.

Courtesy warning: spoilers ahead for thoughts after 161 minutes of viewing. Not everything is revealed here, but a few tidbits cry out to be explored, particularly that controversial ending…

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Yes, There Are Scenes During and After the “Spider-Man: Far from Home” End Credits

Spider-Man Far from Home!

And now my paychecks are thiiiis big!

The inspired, rambunctious Spider-Man: Far from Home marks Tom Holland’s fifth film as everyone’s favorite put-upon wall-crawler, meaning he’s now done as many Spider-films as Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield combined. While every Spidey has had his high points in my estimation, Far from Home may be the best translation to date of the Spidey-era from my own childhood, roughly 1978-1989 plus Marvel Tales reprints of the first sixty issues of Amazing Spider-Man (the entire Steve Ditko oeuvre plus John Romita’s first two years). It’s a winning coda to the emotional pinnacles and pitfalls of Avengers: Endgame, an encouraging sign of heroism to come and a herald of hopefulness for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Fair warning: this entire film follows the events of Endgame and reverberates from its ramifications. If you’re waiting for Endgame to hit DVD and living in the off-grid wilderness has sheltered you from learning of its major MCU-changing moments, you may want to flee now if you want to maintain your cone of silence. (True story: I know at least one person in this very situation. It is possible. I realize it’s hard to imagine, but not everyone in America is as entrenched in online living as you and I may be.)

On another level, anyone with zero foreknowledge of the antagonist Mysterio and his motifs from old Spidey-comics will want to skip the regular “Meaning or EXPLOSIONS?” section because, frankly, it was kind of boring to ruminate on that aspect spoiler-free. I’m not revealing all his secrets or recapping his scenes shot-for-shot, but…well, there’s stuff that spoke to me.

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Yes, There Are Scenes During and After the “Toy Story 4” End Credits

Toy Story 4!

Utensil friend and me! Utensil friend and me! When your aunt makes her chili, or you’re eating cole slaw at KFC…

The Toy Story trilogy remains an unparalleled cinematic achievement in animation with its track record of consistent excellence through every chapter. The original put Pixar on the map and legitimized three-dimensional computer animation as a feature film-making medium. The follow-up was loaded with at least as much humor and heart, and arguably topped the original for some viewers. The grand finale may have been a hairbreadth beneath its predecessors in quality, but it brought the series full circle, gave us fully satisfactory closure on the saga of Andy’s room, and remains the only animated sequel ever nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. All three remain shining jewels in Pixar’s crown, a fixture in millions of childhoods, and an object lesson for anyone who wants to teach kids what grade-A movies look like so that they can judge the hollow offerings of other Hollywood studios all the more harshly.

It’s therefore with a sigh that we now give a round of polite, lukewarm applause for the arrival of Toy Story 4, the Zeppo of the series. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing, mind you.

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Yes, There Are Scenes During AND After the “Shazam!” End Credits

Shazam!

At long last, everyone will know what Gomer Pyle was always exclaiming about.

The never-ending battle to distance us all from Dawn of Justice continues as DC Comics proudly presents the mostly lighthearted Shazam!, based on a 1940s alleged Superman copycat that DC acquired in 1953 after they sued original publisher Fawcett Comics into oblivion. His original name was Captain Marvel, which DC kept using in multiple series and projects for the next few decades but made sure never to print on any covers lest their competition sue them, even though Fawcett’s Captain Marvel predated Marvel’s Captain Marvel by almost 28 years. Prior to this nomenclatural conflict, Fawcett’s Captain Marvel was conceived with the name Captain Thunder, but this was also the name of a non-superhero character in a series called Jungle Comics published by Fiction House, neither of which survived past the mid-’50s. Technically DC could call him Captain Thunder without repercussions today except no one wants that.

Comic Books: Overcomplicating What Should Be the Simplest Things Since 1939.

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Yes, There Are Scenes During AND After the “Captain Marvel” End Credits

Captain Marvel!

My son had to remind me Brie Larson used to be on Community. I thought he was confusing her with Alison Brie, but no, he remembered Brie Larson was Abed’s girlfriend Rachel, and I’m like WHOOOOOOA.

Years from now we’ll all look back on the historical debacle that was the Not-Great Captain Marvel Flame War of 2019 and we’ll laugh about it if only to keep from breaking down in tears at how deeply the fandom-at-large had reached yet another embarrassing nadir. Until then, here’s a shout-out to those millions of kids out there finding delight and inspiration in the sight of a wondrous super-woman punching her way through an evil spaceship armada at hyperspeed, like a young Princess Diana plowing through German soldiers.

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Yes, There’s a Scene During the “Aquaman” End Credits

Aquaman!

I’m sure this same image was used on hundreds of reviews. I can’t help staring at it because I can’t believe movie magic somehow made this decades-old relic of a costume work.

Midlife Crisis Crossover calls Aquaman “The Most Entertaining DC Comics Film Since Wonder Woman!” Also, “The Best Screen version of Aquaman Ever!” Also also, “The Greatest Film with Patrick Wilson in it of All Time!” although my son insists I really need to see Hard Candy at some point. Until I do, Aquaman beats Hard Candy.

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Yes, There Are Scenes During AND After the “Ant-Man and the Wasp” End Credits

Ant-Man!

“PARDON ME. DO YOU HAVE ANY GREY POUPON?”

Millions of viewers who depend on Marvel movies for all their fantasy escapism needs went home shell-shocked after Avengers: Infinity War slaughtered far, far too many of their favorite heroes and threatened to turn the Marvel Cinematic Universe into just another super-hero realm of perpetual misery like Dawn of Justice or the upcoming, dreadful-looking Titans. Now, in Ant-Man and the Wasp, two heroes who weren’t invited to Thanos’ big coming-out party are here to remind everyone that there’s still hope to be found in this world, along with heroism, teamwork, and happy endings…as long as you don’t stay for the end credits.

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Former Kickstarter Junkie VIII: The Final Reward

Fight for Space!

Me explaining to people why crowdfunding is no longer my thing.

Hi, My name is Randy. It’s been five years and two months since the last time I pledged money to a Kickstarter campaign. This week I achieved closure on that chapter in my hobbyist life at last.

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Yes, There Are Scenes During and After the “Black Panther” End Credits

Black Panther!

Local theater, doing it right.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: Ryan Coogler’s emotionally charged directorial debut Fruitvale Station was my favorite film of 2013. His follow-up, Creed, struck a bone-deep nerve inside me and was one of my two favorite films of 2015. It didn’t hurt in the least bit that the star of both films was Michael B. Jordan, who’s been raising his game with every project from his early start in The Wire to Chronicle (my favorite film of 2012) and beyond.

As a longtime comics fan who counts Christopher Priest’s ’90s runs on Marvel’s Black Panther as one of the all-time greats, and who wouldn’t have dreamed of this past weekend ever happening as a kid, I was beyond excited when the reins for the big Panther motion picture were handed over to Coogler, and that Jordan would be a part of it.

In a rare move for me, I kept my expectations unreasonably high. In a rare move for Hollywood, my expectations were blown away.

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So There’s a Collage and a Message After the “Coco” End Credits

Coco!

Welcome to the Land of the Dead, where there’s never an affordable housing shortage!

A word of advice from someone who’s been there to other empathetic souls out there: do not go see Pixar’s new grade-A adventure fantasy Coco immediately after attending services for a dearly departed family member. Some unmanageable side effects may occur.

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Yes, There Are Scenes During AND After the “Justice League” End Credits

Wonder Woman!

An optimistic Wonder Woman is already scouting locations for the Hall of Justice.

Midlife Crisis Crossover calls Justice League “Not Remotely the Worst Film of the Year!” I mean, y’all do remember 2017 spawned another Transformers sequel, right?

As a comics fan for nearly forty years, I’m not among those with unconditional love for every project with the DC Comics imprimatur on it, but their creators have made cool things over the decades. I found Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice the Worst Film of 2016, but The CW’s The Flash is my favorite current TV show, and I thought more highly of the first half of Suicide Squad than many people did. In comics I found the New 52 reboots largely dreadful, but love that “Rebirth” brought Christopher Priest’s Deathstroke and Gene Luen Yang’s New Super-Man into the world. The Flash was among the first super-heroes I ever followed monthly beginning at age 6. When I started making up my own super-heroes circa age 9, Cyborg was among the first ones I ripped off. But I pledge unquestioning allegiance to no fictional characters.

I fully expected Justice League to be an enormous waste of time that would have me nitpicking and raging for hours, given: (a) the departure of director Zack Snyder under tragic circumstances; (b) that former Marvel movie overseer Joss Whedon, the opposite of Snyder on every conceivable level, had been tasked with stitching together the pieces; (c) that Warner Brothers executives had demanded nearly a third of the movie be chopped out to enforce a shorter running time for reasons of greed; (d) they were trying to foist a redundant Flash on us despite the ongoing awesomeness of Grant Gustin; and (e) it’s mostly from the makers of Batman v. Superman. That’s a lot of strikes even before getting to the plate.

Honestly? It wasn’t that bad. In fact, I’ll go on record here and confess I wouldn’t call it “bad”.

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Yes, There Are Scenes During AND After the “Thor: Ragnarok” End Credits

Thor Ragnarok!

“Do you know what happens to a toad when it’s struck by lightning? In this scenario you’re the toad.”

Midlife Crisis Crossover calls Thor: Ragnarok The Greatest Thor Movie in World History!

Granted, it’s for lack of competition, but still. Director Kenneth Branagh’s opening kickoff set the tone for the shiny city and cast of Asgard and gave the Marvel Cinematic Universe one of its core creations in the form of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, saddled with a big stupid brother that his dad made him bring along. The neglected middle child Thor: The Dark World was a forgettable playground romp that remains my least favorite MCU entry to date and left me with virtually no impression except tremendous pity for former Doctor Christopher Eccleston. I had to go reread my own take on it to recall that I liked all the Loki parts, and my wife had to remind me whatever happened to Rene Russo because I totally forgot. Sorry, I mean “forget”. I still can’t remember her final scenes. At all.

The trilogy now concludes with Ragnarok under the direction of Taika Waititi, one of the few survivors of Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern, who went on to a second life as an indie director (my son tells me What We Do in the Shadows is “amazing”). Someone apparently handed the keys to the series to Waititi, told him “go nuts”, walked out of the Marvel Studios mansion leaving him unchaperoned, and asked themselves, “What’s the worst that could happen?” And for the first time in world history, the answer was the complete opposite of an immediate disaster.

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Technically There’s a Message After the “Baby Driver” End Credits

Baby Driver!

Spoiler photo from the Young Han Solo set, where so little budget is left for reshoots that actors have to share earbuds while being prompted with their hastily rewritten lines.

Now that Baby Driver mania has stopped taking the internet by storm, is it safe to come out of hiding and confess I didn’t think it was Edgar Wright’s Best Film Ever? It had its strong points and it’s certainly better than The World’s End, which didn’t click with me at all…

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Yes, There Were LOTS of Scenes After the “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” End Credits

I Am Groot!

I am Groot, I am Groot. I am Groot; I am Groot I am Groot I am Groot I am Groot…I am Groot. I am Groot!

If it’s Marvel, that means it’s time for summer blockbuster extravaganza movie-going season again! And what more appropriate way to kick off than a sequel. Thankfully Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is not one of those Marvel sequels that makes fans regret their obsession with seeing every Marvel movie ever. Better still, the series proves there’s no such thing as a useless character. If an angry space raccoon, an Ent with no vocabulary, and three remnants from Marvel’s 1970s sci-fi era can strike a chord in today’s world, any character can if a talented filmmaker is allowed to try hard enough.

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Yes, There’s a Scene after the “Kong: Skull Island” End Credits

Kong Skull Island!

“COME AT KONG, BROS.”

New rule: anyone who was in line opening day for the King Kong reboot Kong: Skull Island hereby relinquishes all rights to complain about too-soon Spider-Man reboots. Peter Jackson’s 2005 cover of the original Kong isn’t dead and buried yet. The return on its $250 million investment wasn’t as robust as the studio would’ve hoped, but considering its Tomatometer rating tops Skull Island‘s (84% vs. 78%), I wouldn’t call it a failure that needed to be erased — unlike, say, Spider-Man 3.

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Yes, There’s a Moment After the “Lion” End Credits

Lion!

“Hey, mister! I’ll trade you this fresh fruit for an Oscar!”

My wife and I first heard of Lion when we attended last fall’s Heartland Film Festival preview night here in Indianapolis. I’m sorry we missed its festival screening, but now that it’s been nominated for Best Picture, once again the film and I crossed paths as part of my annual Oscar quest.

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