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Spider-Man Gives MCU’s Phase 3 a Stellar Finale in ‘Far From Home’

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(2019—Director: Jon Watts) — by Renard N. Bansale — ★★★★ (out of 5 stars) “You’re not a jerk for wanting a normal life, kid.” — Quentin Beck/Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) to Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) “Aw, I love Led Zeppelin!” — Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) to Harold “Happy” Hogan (Jon Favreau) Potential spoilers below Of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) offerings …

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‘Midsommar’: More Beneath the Surefire Folk Horror Than You’d Expect

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(2019—Director: Ari Aster) — by Renard N. Bansale — High ★★★½ (with strong moral reservations) (out of 5 stars) “It’ll probably seem quite silly, but it’s like theatre.” — Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren) to Dani Ardor (Florence Pugh) Potential spoilers below When writer-director Ari Aster made his feature debut last June with Hereditary, a strong majority of critics and audiences were …

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“Fab” Fantasy Gives Way to Sweet Yet Average Romance in ‘Yesterday’

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(2019—Director: Danny Boyle) — by Renard N. Bansale — ★★★ (out of 5 stars) “A world without The Beatles is a world that’s infinitely worse.” — Liz (Sarah Lancashire) to Jack Malik (Hamish Patel)  Potential spoilers below Ever since the summer of 2000, I have loved The Beatles. They were the only music I listened to up until I started …

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Pixar Finishes the Decade Strong With ‘Toy Story 4’

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(2019—Director: Josh Cooley) — by Renard N. Bansale — Low ★★★★★ (out of 5 stars) “Being there for a child is the most noble thing a toy can do.” — Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) to Sheriff Woody (Tom Hanks)  Potential spoilers below 1995’s Toy Story remains both a childhood monument for a majority of the past few generations, not to …

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Producer-Director Friction Undermines ‘MIB: International’

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(2019—Director: F. Gary Gray) — by Renard N. Bansale — ★★½ (out of 5 stars) “Always remember, the universe has a way of leading you to where you’re supposed to be at the moment you’re supposed to be there.” — High T (Liam Neeson) to Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) Potential spoilers below Besides the behemoth that was Titanic, the blockbuster …

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‘Dark Phoenix’: A Pitiful Farewell for Fox 2000’s X-Men Franchise

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(2019—Director: Simon Kinberg) — by Renard N. Bansale — High ★★½ (out of 5 stars) “You’re not like the other doctors.” … “No, and you’re not like the other patients.” — Young Jean Grey (Summer Fontana) and Prof. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) Potential spoilers below Ever since the release of the first film back in 2000, 20th Century Fox’s X-Men …

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‘King of the Monsters’: Titan Duels Space Out Bloated Human Drama

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(2019—Director: Michael Dougherty) — by Renard N. Bansale — High ★★½ (out of 5 stars) “You’re a monster.”  “If I had the two of you as parents, I would’ve run away from home too.” — Chief Warrant Officer Jackson Barnes (O’Shea Jackson, Jr.) to Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) and Dr. Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler)  Potential spoilers below When Legendary …

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‘Aladdin’: Not Wholly New, But Sure to Please Eyes & Ears

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(2019—Director: Guy Ritchie) — by Renard N. Bansale — High ★★★ (out of 5 stars) “I made you look like a prince on the outside, but I didn’t change anything on the inside. Prince Ali got you to the door, but Aladdin has to open it.” — The Genie (Will Smith) to Aladdin (Mena Massoud) Potential spoilers below (Also, following …

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John Wick vs. the Assassin Underworld in ‘Ch. 3—Parabellum’

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(2019—Director: Chad Stahelski) — by Renard N. Bansale — High ★★★½ (out of 5 stars) “Si vis pacem, para bellum.” — Winston (Ian McShane) “There are rules. They are the only thing that separate us—” “—from the animals.” — The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) and Winston (Justice Smith) Potential spoilers below In 2014, actor Keanu Reeves was at least two …

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‘Pokémon: Detective Pikachu’s’ Serviceable Mystery Shows Promise for the Future

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(2019—Director: Rob Letterman) — by Renard N. Bansale — ★★★ (out of 5 stars) “Should I talk about the fact that your childhood bed is a Pikachu bed? … “It’s a coincidence.” … “I’ve never been so flattered and creeped out at the same time.” — Det. Pikachu (voiced and facial motion captured by Ryan Reynolds) and Tim Goodman (Justice …