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“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”: Ride or Die

Train Your Dragon 3!

We gather today for a Toothless farewell.

Time was, I used to see a lot more animated films per year — partly because my son was once a youngster with lower standards, and partly because good animated films used to come out more frequently. Or maybe that’s the middle-aged fogey in me talking.

To this day the original How to Train Your Dragon — an imaginative, action-packed flight of fantasy with a gut-punch of a climax — remains my favorite Dreamworks Animation project to date. The first sequel wasn’t bad, but never addressed the deadbeat-mom issue at its center to my satisfaction. Five years after How to Train Your Dragon 2 the trilogy concludes with How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World — a definitive ending to the saga of Jay Baruchel’s awkward young Viking Hiccup and his fierce, loyal dragon partner Toothless. I nearly typed “pet”, but that descriptor is a bit reductive and and refuted by this very movie itself.

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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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“Us”: Revenge of the Duality of Man

Lupita Nyong'o!

Now I’m imagining a do-over of 12 Years a Slave in which this version of Lupita Nyong’o turns Michael Fassbender into so much whittling scrap.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: once upon a time in 2002 I once spent most of a museum walk expounding at length on how virtually every piece of art in front of me, no matter how abstract or realistic or kitschy or modern, could in some way be deconstructed into a metaphor for the Duality of Man. It’s not hard. Take a thing, figure out a way to chop it into two warring halves like you’re Karnak of the Inhumans teaching a philosophy class, and presto. You’ve just written some tenth-grader’s literature report. It was fun till I began annoying myself and possibly our friends.

Leave it to Jordan Peele to follow up his Best Picture nominee Get Out with an unofficial adaptation of my blathering seventeen years later as the raging box office smash Us. It’s about time someone better than me did this.

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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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MCC Home Video Scorecard #16: Saluting the Oscar-Adjacent

Sorry to Bother You!

Sales and talking on phones? This job would crush me.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: the recurring feature that’s more like a newsletter in which I’ve jotted down capsule-sized notes about Stuff I Recently Watched at home. I could string together several entries out of the backlog I built up through 2018, but for now let’s settle for tackling a few recent catches from the past six weeks, when the Academy Awards were fresh in mind, whether relevant or tangential:

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MCC Home Video Scorecard #15: Oscar Quest 2019 Extra Credit

First Reformed.

Ethan Hawke isn’t a big fan of superhero films, but he’s perfectly okay with bold costumes.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: the recurring feature that’s more like a newsletter in which I’ve jotted down capsule-sized notes about Stuff I Recently Watched at home. In this batch as well as the previous one: the past few months’ worth of comfy-chair viewing as prep for this Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony, except this year I went overboard and decided to see how many the nominees I could catch from other categories, either free via legal means or via existing streaming-service subscriptions. As it turns out, quite a few, mostly documentaries but that’s not a bad thing.

But first, an Original Screenplay nominee I’d been curious to see for a while:

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