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“Bumblebee”: Bay Ban Breeds Better Bug-Bot Battle Ballet

bumblebee!

Not quite life-size, but close.

“Midlife Crisis Crossover calls Bumblebee the Greatest Transformers Film of All Time!” is how I expected to lead off this entry. With Michael Bay out of the director’s chair (though still credited as an executive producer) and replaced by Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings), it couldn’t possibly be another empty failure.

After seeing the film, which was fine, I’m not yet feeling the “Greatest” superlative.

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“Mary Poppins Returns”: Sequel Gal a Frabjous Mystic, Extra Braggadocious

Mary Poppins Returns!

Meanwhile in the evil Mirror Universe, a misbegotten Mary Poppins reboot rues its poor box office and looks upon our universe’s sequel in envy.

Anne and I haven’t watched the original Mary Poppins in 35-40 years. We had considered revisiting it before lining up for director Rob Marshall’s showy happy sequel, but all the legal streaming services wanted twelve bucks or more for one (1) showing of one (1) 54-year-old film. We moved on without it.

I remember very little of the plot, but the songs have haunted me ever since. Credit goes mostly to the legendary songwriting team of Robert and Richard Sherman, and partly to my grade-school music teacher Mrs. Quebbeman, later Mrs. Surdi when she remarried. She taught us songs we never wanted to know (“Up with People”), didn’t notice when a few of us discovered the new fad called “lip-syncing” in sixth grade, assigned me solos in three consecutive Christmas programs while I still had a stable singing voice, and blessedly introduced us to the wonders of wooden percussion, “The Rainbow Connection”, “Danse Macabre”, and at least half the Mary Poppins soundtrack. For me the film may have faded, but the tunes remain etched into my brain. Long after all the useful parts have shut down, I’ll be in my bed humming the chorus from “Step in Time” till the end of days.

Sadly, Mrs. Surdi passed away about a month ago. She was firmly in my thoughts as Mary Poppins Returns played on. Thanks to her, I knew ahead of time there’s no way I’d like the sequel more than the original. But sometimes it’s nice to sit back, be patient, listen closely, and wait to be surprised at what sticks.

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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’s a Scene after the “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” End Credits

Spider-Verse!

Introducing: Spider Squad Six!

Midlife Crisis Crossover calls Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse one of The Year’s Best Films!

So…there’s that. But I can’t simply post a screen shot of Ralphie’s teacher from A Christmas Story writing “A++++++++++” on her chalkboard and be done with it, because we know that’s not how I roll.

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Past Time for “Bad Times at the El Royale”

El Royale!

The Don. The Dude. The Diva.

For some reason I had a heck of a time trying to keep the name of Bad Times at the El Royale straight my head. On the way to the theater, I had to keep reminding myself it wasn’t called Bad Times at the El Diablo. Then I stepped up to the cashier and asked for tickets to Bad Times at the El Dorado. Before setting up this entry, I had to double-check and remind myself it also wasn’t Bad Times at the El Rodeo, though that might make an intriguing sequel in which the survivors step fully into California for an upper-class shopping trip that goes horribly awry.

Until that worthy successor to this very entertaining film arrives, it’s El Royale all the way. El Royale, El Royale El Royale. I think I’ve got it now.

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“Creed II”, or “How to Train Your Drago”

Creed II!

This time around, “Baby Creed” has a happier, less insulting context.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: Creed, the seventh film in Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky series, was one of my two favorite films of 2015. It was the first major-studio film for director Ryan Coogler, whose debut Fruitvale Station was my favorite film of 2013. This year’s Coogler model, the amazing colossal Black Panther, will be ranking very, very high for this year’s standings. Tangential note: remember how Black Panther was a 2018 release, even though it feels five years old by now, because 2018 has been that kind of year?

I was a little nervous knowing Coogler would be handing over the reins of Creed II to a relative newcomer, one Steven Caple, Jr. Granted, we knew the main cast would be back — Stallone himself, Thor: Ragnarok‘s Tessa Thompson’s Bianca (levels above the standard Concerned Girlfriend), and of course Michael B. Jordan, star of Fruitvale Station and costar of Black Panther and season 1 of The Wire, which I will never, ever stop name-checking. With the larger-than-life core of Creed still intact, could failure possibly be an option?

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