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“Incredibles 2”: Further Feats of the Fantastic Five

Incredibles 2!

The expressions every time Emily Blunt gets top billing over some quote-unquote “A-list” dude.

Writer/director Brad Bird’s 2004 The Incredibles remains one of my all-time favorite Pixar films, and not just because it was about superheroes. I could relate to a film about an aging guy who considers himself talented but thinks he should be doing something better with his life, but whose family had much more important concerns than his, and everyone has to dive deep into their conflicts but come out all the stronger for it as a unit. And a film where there are spectacular chase scenes. And just so happens to draw on seventy years of mainstream super-hero culture.

Fourteen years later Incredibles 2 brings back Bird and the family to pick up where they left off. But are the viewers in the same place fourteen years later?

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Yes, There’s a Scene After the “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” End Credits

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom!

Can scaly and sweaty live together in perfect harmony?

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: in 2015 we saw Colin Trevorrow’s Jurassic World, groused a little, but ultimately thought:

While the human interactions grow increasingly awkward and superfluous in the final hour, I’d have to be a humorless, eightysomething stick-in-the-mud to rebuke the film’s grandest spectacle, the great big Godzillatastic dino-bashing showdown that so blatantly aims for the kid’s heart in all of us. I have to wonder if it was the first scene they wrote, and then the rest of the screenplay was reverse-engineered purely to make it happen by any plot device necessary. I wish life had found a way for the rest of Jurassic World to match that same giddy zeal, or the heartwarming cleverness of too-brief scenes like the baby triceratops petting zoo or the one touching moment where The Land Before Time meets Where the Red Fern Grows. And it’s a shame the wink-wink self-parody gags are short-lived. On average, though, this stockholder-pleasing sequel is thankfully a bit more fun than flipping through a museum gift shop catalog.

Once again it’s time for a trip to the deadliest theme park known to man, but at least this time they’re not selling tickets to future civilian casualties. With the next chapter Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Spanish director J.A. Bayona (The Impossible, Penny Dreadful) revisits the blockbuster-thriller foundation that Steven Spielberg laid down in the original with gusto, succumbs to bouts of sequelitis, but finds ways to make at least a few dinosaurs exciting all over again.

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My 2017 at the Movies, Part 2 of 2: The Year’s Least Worst

Last Jedi!

The indefatigable Rey, future head of the New Jedi Order alongside her new best pal Mara Jade. Look, we can dream, okay?

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: In 2017 I made 21 trips to the theater to see films made that same year. In Part 1 we ranked the bottom eleven. And now, the countdown concludes:

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My 2017 at the Movies, Part 1 of 2: The Year’s Least Best

Transformers 5!

Academy Award Winner Sir Anthony Hopkins, exchanging Merchant Ivory dignity for the opportunity to earn zillions spouting toy robot origin gibberish and Witwicky family lineage mythology balderdash.

It’s listing time again! In today’s entertainment consumption sphere, all experiences must be pitted against each other and assigned numeric values that are ultimately arbitrary to anyone except the writer themselves. It’s just this fun thing some of us love doing even though the rules are made up and the points don’t matter.

I saw twenty-five films in theaters in 2017, but four were Best Picture nominees officially released in 2016 and therefore disqualified from this list, because I’m an unreasonable stickler about dates. (Ranking those four from Best to Least Best: Fences, Lion, Hidden Figures, and Manchester by the Sea. Of those four, nothing has haunted me throughout 2017 more than the Attack of the 50-Foot Viola Davis.)

Of the remaining 21 contenders that I saw in theaters, we had eight super-hero sequels or continuations, though one of them didn’t reveal that till the final scene; five non-superhero sequels; one reboot; two adaptations of printed works (one already famously done); one non-superhero animated film (possibly an all-time low for me); and four live-action original works. Obviously you’ll note the following list is far from comprehensive in covering 2017’s release slate. This was such a busy year for us that spare time for theater-going was in much shorter supply than usual, to say nothing of the impact that Netflix’s strong TV-series slate has had on my viewing habits. On the bright side, 21 films is a 10% increase over my total for 2016, which wasn’t much of a year.

(For what it’s worth, I decided to set aside most Oscar-potential films until after the official nominations announcement is made on January 23rd. I definitely plan to get around to Get Out soon, and for light kicks maybe Cars 3 if it ever reaches Netflix, where I noticed the other day they now have Pirates of the Caribbean 5 for any die-hard cheapskate Captain Jack Sparrow fans willing to kill 2½ hours to catch up on his antics. Last year I was not one of those.)

In the meantime, here’s what I didn’t miss in theaters in 2017, for better or worst-of-the-worst. Links to past reviews and thoughts are provided for historical reference. And now, on with the bottom half of the countdown:

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My 2016 at the Movies, Part 2 of 2: The Year’s Least Worst

Ghostbusters!

Not perfect, but still 100 times better than Sucker Punch.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: In 2016 I made 19 trips to the theater to see films made that same year (well, 20 to be honest — I saw one of them twice). In Part 1 we ranked the bottom nine. And now, the countdown concludes:

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My 2016 at the Movies, Part 1 of 2: The Year’s Least Best

Bruce Wayne!

My absolute favorite moment in what was not the Year’s Worst Film.

Once again it’s National List Month, that only time of year when all of Hollywood buys “For Your Consideration” ads in newspapers to impress the AMPAS over-70 voting bloc. Meanwhile on the internet, where newspapers can’t touch us except when they’re spreading propaganda or puff pieces that their supporters have pre-approved, we dedicated theater-goers can overlook the stars’ campaigns, hash out our opinions free of influence, and vote with our bullet points. It’s just this fun thing some of us love doing even though the rules are made up and the points don’t matter.

I saw twenty-two films in theaters in 2016, but three were Best Picture nominees released in 2015 and therefore disqualified from this list, because I’m an unreasonable stickler about dates. (Ranking those from Best to Least Best: Room, The Big Short, and The Revenant…though throughout the year I mentioned The Big Short in conversations more often than any other 2015 film.) Disqualified from inclusion are four 2016 releases I watched via Netflix, Redbox, or Black Friday Bluray (which are ranked in that entry), because I let convenience and budgetary concerns talk me out of a few extra theater trips.

Of the remaining 19 contenders that I saw in theaters, I saw nine sequels (five of which were super-hero universe expansion packs), one reboot, one would-be big-budget YA series launch, three Based on a True Story (none of which were grade-A), five animated films (two of which were not-great sequels included in said count), one original musical and one original science fiction film. To be honest, 19 may be the fewest films I’ve seen in theaters in any year so far this millennium. Here’s hoping 2017 tempts me out the front door a bit more often, time permitting and quality pending.

Links to past reviews and thoughts are provided for historical reference. And now, on with the lower half of the countdown:

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