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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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“Detroit”, One Night Only

Detroit!

“Look, this is all a big misunderstanding. If I could just have my blaster back…”

One of MCC’s long-standing rules is that every film I make the effort to see in theaters gets an entry. I saw Kathryn Bigelow’s harrowing Detroit a few months ago but procrastinated writing about it because I had trouble sorting what few thoughts I had on it. We’re now less than a month away from the scheduled DVD release, and on the heels of an upcoming limited re-release meant to remind Oscar voters that it exists. Maybe it’s time to move on this and see what happens. I won’t be surprised if I get something wrong according to the zeitgeist or say something innately stupid, but that’s the risk we run in oversharing opinions online on sensitive subjects.

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“Murder on the Orient Express”: The Train in Vain Strains Plainly to Maintain

Hercule Poirot!

“Stay back or I’ll poke your eye out! With finesse!”

From Shakespeare adaptations to Hitchock homages to Frankenstein, once upon a time director Sir Kenneth Branagh’s primary focus was leading regal thespian ensembles in bringing back classics for a new generation. Over time he’s somehow transformed into a major-studio go-to for big-budget fare like Disney’s Cinderella do-over, the first Thor movie, and the unnecessary Jack Ryan prequel. His latest highly polished effort, a revival of Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel Murder on the Orient Express, tries to bridge the gap between the two halves of his career — recruiting well-known faces to help him reacquaint an unfamiliar audience with one of the standards of the nearly dead mystery-movie genre. If nothing else, he’s also overseen a talented hair/makeup crew who bring us the Best Movie Mustache of the Year.

Full disclosure: I’ve never read any Christie novels or seen any adaptations of her work. The only thing I knew going into Branagh’s version is that the twist ending was spoiled for me decades ago by some long-forgotten humorist who thought it would be funny to joke about spoilers by citing Rosebud, Luke Skywalker’s father, and Orient Express‘ solution all in the same careless punchline, on the flawed assumption that everyone who mattered already knew how it ended. I wish I could remember the writer in question so I could tell him to his face that he was wrong and he sucks.

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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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Cincinnati Comic Expo 2017 Photos, Part 2 of 2: Who We Met and What We Did

Me Falling!

Lesson learned: sometimes we all have to be reminded that we are in fact not Batman.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Saturday morning my wife Anne and I drove two hours southeast of Indianapolis to attend the eighth annual Cincinnati Comic Expo in the heart of their downtown that’s not so different from ours. The guest list seemed a little thinner, particularly in the comics department, but we had such a great time last year that we agreed an encore was in order.

“Boy, you guys sure do a lot of cons!” is a thing we keep hearing lately from family and friends who’ve noticed how our 2017 has been going. The tone and implication vary by speaker.

We keep expecting the Midwest convention boom that ignited for us in 2015 will eventually fizzle out, but it hasn’t happened yet. Anne and I agree and keep telling each other we need to cut back on conventions, if for no other reason than to have more time for all the other aspects and responsibilities in our lives. But the temptation is hard to resist when so many cons keep popping up within a manageable driving distance for us, based on the road-trip skill set we’ve developed over the past nineteen years. It’s harder to resist when showrunners actually invite guests we’re excited to meet. And it’s hardest when we’re talking about shows we’ve done and loved before.

That’s how Cincinnati Comic Expo, having passed all three qualifiers with flying colors, beckoned to us for a second year.

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