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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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Your Handy “Lion King” 2019 Review Bingo Card

Lion King Review Bingo!

For my next trick, I shall create a “Many Moods of CG Simba” T-shirt with 25 adjectives and 25 copies of that same photo.

Disney’s crass rehashes of its extensive back catalog haven’t really been aimed at me, by and large. The Jungle Book had beautiful jungles, but some of those musical numbers…yikes. Our family unanimously hated Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. I have yet to see Dumbo, Cinderella, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, or live-action brand extensions such as Maleficent, Alice Through the Looking-Glass, or Mirror, Mirror. (Snow White and the Huntsman found ways to surprise me, but that wasn’t Disney.)

I therefore have no plans to see Jon Favreau’s nearly Warholesque repurposing of Rob Minkoff and Roger Allers’ animated classic The Lion King…and yet I’ve spent half my Thursday reading the first wave of opinions out of skeptical curiosity. After the first five reviews I read from critics and websites I follow on Twitter, I saw patterns emerging. And thus the above artifact was born. Now I can make a game out of reading still more reviews.

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With Wishes for a Happy and/or Restful Fourth of July

George Washington!

Like Superman, nobody thinks about the fact that Uncle Sam’s hair grows the same as anyone else’s.

Pictured above: a quiet moment from writer/director David Gordon Green’s 2000 feature-film debut George Washington. It’s a low-key contemplation of rural life, maturity, haunting regrets, and atonement through heroism (including a pivotal scene that echoes the tragedy of Uncle Ben), but the important thing at this moment is the film’s final scenes are set on the Fourth of July, which therefore means it’s a Beloved Holiday Classic. Pity they never seem to have copies on sale in every Walmart every June, but I don’t think they’re on speaking terms with Criterion.

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“Dark Phoenix”: X-huming and X-amining the End of the Ex-Series

Dark Phoenix!

The all-new Firestar from a grim-and-gritty Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.

Remember the glory days when the prospect of a new X-Men film excited anyone who’d previously thrilled to their greatest spectacles, and not just the unconditional superfans?

Dark Phoenix isn’t the worst superhero film I’ve seen this year, but after the waste of resources that was X-Men: Apocalypse, I was fine with waiting until its fourth weekend to see it using free passes, sitting in a theater with half a dozen other viewers who likewise couldn’t be bothered to rush out to the not-quite-grand finale to Fox’s X-Men era (unless we keep holding our breath waiting for New Mutants). Their 19-year run had its highlights, but writer/director/producer Simon Kinberg’s Hail Mary of a retread isn’t one of them.

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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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“The Dead Don’t Die” But They May Be the Last Ones Here to Turn Out the Lights

Sheriffs Don't Die!

Your local sheriffs scrambling to fathom the zombie menace in a film that could also be called The Living Don’t Live. Ooh, paradoxes.

I remember reading about the films of idiosyncratic director Jim Jarmusch in the Movies section of Entertainment Weekly throughout the course of my now-lapsed 28-year subscription, but I’ve never made an effort to watch one for myself till now. Inertia can be a pathetic anchor like that sometimes. And it’s far too easy to get distracted in a universe of nigh-unlimited cultural options, where the human mind can only hold so many directors’ names in its head at any one time, presuming one is making an effort to retain them.

When I saw Jarmusch’s name on the trailer for The Dead Don’t Die, I knew this could be no ordinary zombie film. After a long journey that involved me showing up at the wrong theater, driving halfway across the city to the correct one, nearly having a breakdown when I had to brake for a funeral procession, and arriving with plenty of minutes to spare thanks to a glut of trailers that stalled for time in my favor…then did I see my prophecy fulfilled.

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