Last Night in Soho (2021): BEST NIGHT EVER!

“Last Night in Soho” is directed by Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Baby Driver), and stars Thomasin McKenzie (Leave No Trace, Jojo Rabbit), Anya Taylor-Joy (Emma., The Queen’s Gambit), Matt Smith (Doctor Who, The Crown), Michael Ajao (Silent Witness, Attack the Block), Terence Stamp (Superman, Billy Budd), and Diana Rigg (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Game of Thrones). This film is about a young girl named Eloise, or Ellie, who aspires to be a fashion designer. She decides that she’s gonna try to make it big and in doing so, she moves to London to study at the London College of Fashion. One night, Ellie finds herself magically transported to the 1960s, where she encounters a young singer named Sandie. Throughout we follow Ellie’s journey as she stalks the singer and finds out more about her, maybe more than one would prefer.

“Last Night in Soho” was a particularly interesting movie on the surface in terms of its marketing, because it is one of the few movies I’ve barely seen marketed either through movie trailers in the theater, social media, or television, but every time I saw it, I found myself intrigued. If anything, it’s because of colors. I think ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been enamored with neon. To this point, and I’ve probably mentioned this once or twice in Scene Before history, neon is probably my favorite chemical element. And when you are setting a film in a city and passage of times like the ones at hand, there are quite a few opportunities for dazzlingly colorful scenes, which spoiler, this film has plenty of. It feels weird to say that though, because this film often presents itself as a horror show.

From start to finish, if you look at the film from a certain point of view, it is the less than fortunate life of a rising star, that being Anya Taylor-Joy’s character of Sandie. The character has immense talent and confidence, but she also is in a way being controlled by men, which we see throughout the film. Although that is not the main story, and instead, just a fraction of it.

I’m gonna be real with you. This film f*cking slaps. I was gonna go see this at a press screening, but I ended up not going. But once I saw that one of my local venues was showing this movie in 35mm film, I jumped at the opportunity to watch it. Having seen it, the film is bloody magical, mystical, kind of in a realistic rainbow and unicorn kind of way, but somehow, it finds a way to be scary. I remember seeing the trailer for this film back in the spring, and I was slightly jarred by it, not because it didn’t look good, but I was not sure what they were trying to go for. Is it a horror movie? Is it about music? Something maybe more erotic? At the same time though, this is a good example of how trailers should be done. Give a basic taste and feel of how the movie could go, but don’t spoonfeed the audience. Granted, that was just a teaser trailer. I actually never saw the legit, full-length trailer they put out before the film hit theaters which gives more of an indication of how things go, but that may have made me kind of glad. I went in somewhat blind, but walked out happy. Very happy in fact.

At its heart, I would not call “Last Night in Soho” a thriller nor a horror, I’d call it a coming of age story. I don’t mean that in a John Hughes kind of way where there’s comedy and shenanigans going on like in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” or “Weird Science,” but in the OTHER John Hughes kind of way where a young kid is trying to become an adult and they have to adapt to something unfamiliar or something they may prefer to avoid. In our main protagonist’s case, she’s been living in a rural environment all her life, but one day, she decides to make this enormous transition by going to college, and living in London. And of course, moving to the big city in a case like this can feel incredibly overwhelming. You almost don’t even know where to start. This would be a hard enough story for our main character to go through, but then you have a rabbit hole that develops in the 1960s from which she cannot stray away.

The other thing that ties this film together is the performances. Much of the film, specifically in the 1960s portion is about the chemistry, if you really want to call it that, between Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy. I really like these two whenever they’re in the same scenes together because you have McKenzie who is young, curious, and wants to find her way in the world. Meanwhile, you have Anya Taylor-Joy’s character, who like McKenzie, is not that old either, but she has maybe had some experience that hindered with her ability to do things from one day to the next. The whole idea of Thomasin McKenzie going to London was to be something bigger than herself, follow her passion of fashion design. Anya Taylor-Joy is sort of going through the same thing as an entertainer, a singer. And we see McKenzie, prior to her time travel adventures, she is obsessed with the 1960s period from a fashion perspective, so to have her travel here would be somewhat appropriate while also providing an increasingly edge of your seat story.

Honestly, I don’t know if Anya Taylor-Joy will win an Oscar this year, but when it comes to showing the physical beauty of the 1960s, she shines, but there’s also another side to her character, Sandie, where she seemingly refuses to embrace such beauty. After all, even though she is kind of finding her passion right in front of her, she’s also being followed and affected by all these men surrounding her.

Now this is the part of the review where I am supposed to come in with some sort of random flaw that I experienced with the film. Something like pacing, which was great. Maybe the music was not that memorable. There actually was some decent music to be honest, maybe not my favorite score of the year, I’d have to listen to it separately to fully judge. Maybe there was one performance that didn’t line up with the others. Not true, everyone felt like they were in sync. I’m sure if I thought hard enough, I could come up with something, because no movie’s perfect. But at the top of my head, I cannot think of anything. This movie had a promising beginning with a likable character, and capped itself off with one of the most mind-blowing endings I have seen in some time. My jaw was on the floor in the last twenty minutes. There are definitely scarier horror flicks out there depending on what you’re looking for, but I don’t choose to see it in that light. If you look at this film, like I did, as a coming of age story, it is one of the most entertaining and thrilling that has ever been done. Edgar Wright directed the crap out of this. Technically, this has some of my favorite shots and lighting of the year. If I were getting a new television, this would be a phenomenal test movie.

In the end, “Last Night in Soho,” oh my god! I have not seen anything like this in a long time! As for whether it will end up as my favorite movie of 2021, I am not sure. I have another movie that could take that spot, but if you want to know how much I enjoyed “Last Night in Soho,” this movie took me much longer to review than the other potential favorite, and the fact that I am still thinking about it, perhaps more than the NEXT movies I’m going to review, says something. If you go into this movie expecting a horror or thriller, I will warn you, you won’t walk out disappointed, but I did not walk out of this film having enjoyed one of those types of films. I walked out having enjoyed one of the single greatest coming of age tales I have ever watched. Whether it is a horror, thriller, or a coming of age story like I suggested, it does not change the fact that I’m going to give “Last Night in Soho” a 10/10!

“Last Night in Soho” is now playing in theaters everywhere and is available to buy on a VOD service of your choice.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for the all new MCU film, “Eternals.” FINALLY, I’m talking about this! There’s literally another MCU film around the corner! So for that reason, this review needs to be to done! I also have reviews coming for “Red Notice,” “Ron’s Gone Wrong,” “King Richard,” “Encanto,” and “Sing 2.” Six reviews coming up! That’s quite a list! And I’m also planning to see “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” pretty soon, so yeah, I’ve got a lot on my plate. If you want to see all this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, be sure to check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Last Night in Soho?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite decade? Fabulous Fifties? Rad Eighties? Maybe we’re going really retro with somewhere in Medieval Times? Let me know what your favorite decade is down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The French Dispatch (2021): Wes Anderson Spreads the News

Characters! Characters everywhere!

“The French Dispatch” is directed by Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Rushmore) and stars Benicio del Toro (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, The Usual Suspects), Adrien Brody (King Kong, Predators), Tilda Swinton (Doctor Strange, The Deep End), Léa Seydoux (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Spectre), Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Fargo), Timothee Chalamet (Interstellar, Little Women), Lyna Khoudri (Papicha, The Specials), Jeffrey Wright (Casino Royale, What If…?), Mathieu Amalric (Quantum of Solace, Sound of Metal), Steve Park (Do the Right Thing, Warrior), Bill Murray (Ghostbusters, Stripes), and Owen Wilson (Loki, Cars). This film is a compilation of a few different written stories brought to life, all of which are told in The French Dispatch.

It’s been nearly a month since I watched this film, but before I went in, I’ve seen a number of Wes Anderson’s flicks. Much like Quentin Tarantino, Anderson has a distinct directorial style that I have not seen from anyone else. He shoots a number of his films with shots containing vibrant colors up the wazoo. One of his more recent pictures, “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which I enjoyed, shows a mix of aspect ratios from 4:3 to traditional scope widescreen. He has a flair to his work that if I were a director I almost want to resist at the risk of being deemed a copycat. But just because his quirks are obviously present in his directorial style, does not mean that the story in his films are sacrificed. Months ago, I put on “Moonrise Kingdom” for the first time and safe to say, I really enjoyed the connection the two main kids had with one another. The writing had this feel to it that explained everything you needed to know, but felt satisfyingly minimalistic. I don’t really have another way to describe it.

I was rather excited for “The French Dispatch.” I thought the marketing was decent, and hopefully it would be worth the wait after COVID-19 pushed this film back, just like everything else. Having seen it, I honestly think it is on the lower tier of Wes Anderson’s library. This does not say much however, because much like Christopher Nolan and Pixar, an inferior movie from Wes Anderson is still a movie many would kill to make. “The French Dispatch” is interestingly told because it’s not exactly one story, it’s a story that influenced the display of other stories. It kind of reminded me of the “Treehouse of Horror” specials that “The Simpsons” do every Halloween, although in this case it’s not the same characters in each story. I say that because the film is essentially a few different stories all told in the same newspaper. Each one has its set of main subjects, and they’re all after different goals. I kind of like this style of storytelling because there are a lot of movies that I watch nowadays where you have one character and their goals, everything feels very important. This feels lighthearted and fun, but it’s also not over the top. At the end of the day, the movie’s goal is to make the viewer have fun, which I did. Although that also brings in a minor complaint, even though there are characters that sew all the stories together, “The French Dispatch” does not have a specific character that I can look back on and remember as the center of the story, at least one that is particularly interesting when it comes to those at the French Dispatch. And frankly, even though these characters have their quirks, some of which may be due to Wes Anderson’s directing style, there is not one I can say I loved more than any other. This movie has so many characters that it’s hard to keep track of all of them. It especially does not help when you’re reviewing the movie nearly a month after seeing it.

Although just because there are so many characters that it makes the cast for a “Lord of the Rings” movie look small, does not mean that I did not enjoy any of the three stories. All of them were in fact, very good. I was delighted by all of them. The Concrete Masterpiece, which is a pretty creative title, is an interesting look at an artist who has to do time while also focusing on his work. Although of the few main stories, it was probably my least favorite. Revision to a Manifesto was wonderfully quirky, very Wes Anderson-esque. I loved the idea of a chessboard revolution, I would have never thought of that. Then again, I never play chess. If you put me in front of a chess board and it was my turn, I’d just slap the opponent’s pieces off the board and shout “Yay! I win!”

I would never fare well in a chess tournament.

The Private Dining Room with the Police Commissioner, which was the final story told of the bunch, was also a ridiculously entertaining piece of writing brought to life (even if it is fiction). I also think they did a good job at segmenting these stories in a certain way, because if you watch the movie, the real thing that connects all these stories together is the fact that they are presented in the same news outlet and are set in similar spots. There is not one specific story that has a main character that is directly tied to another, so they could have played around with all of them in whatever order they choose, but I think in terms of giving this film a satisfying conclusion, this final story was the best one, because not only is it, for what I recall, probably the most action-packed of all the stories presented, but it ends in such a way that is fitting for a finale. Not the story itself, but the aftermath of it where the people are talking about it. I will not go into detail about it, because I would rather have you see the movie yourself and be entertained by it.

If I had anything else to say about the film, I do think it did a good job with both the costuming and makeup. For the record, this film came out in a limited number of theaters the same weekend “Dune” had its wide release, so I got to see Timothee Chalamet (right) in two films on the same weekend. I could tell who Timothee Chalamet was on screen, but at times, at least from my eyes, he did not look like his real self. He looked like he could actually age a bit. But at times he’d also revert back to someone younger. It’s hard to describe. His outfit felt distinguished and he looked like he had his hair done a bit. His outlook was striking, and maybe having “Dune” come out at the same time had something to do with it, but it caught my attention nevertheless.

In the end, “The French Dispatch” is a delightful film that even though it is not Wes Anderson’s best work, is one I am looking back on with a smile. To be frank, as I wrote this review, I thought it would be fun to maybe watch it a second time. Maybe not in a theater, unless nothing else was out and I wanted to use my A-List for a free film. Either way, Wes Anderson made a delightful movie. The cast is incredible, although I wish I remembered all the characters. Although maybe that’s the advantage of a repeat viewing in this case. There’s so many characters, that they can only be appreciated in multiple viewings. I’m going to give “The French Dispatch” a 7/10.

“The French Dispatch” is now playing in theaters everywhere.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed this review, be sure to look forward to my reviews for “Last Night in Soho,” “Eternals,” “Ron’s Gone Wrong,” and “King Richard.” I cannot wait to get these reviews out for you all. I was gonna go see “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” this weekend, although I don’t know if I have the time. I was planning on seeing it with a couple other people, but it’s more or less a matter of what time works for them, as opposed to me. So a review may be coming, but I won’t be seeing it right now. If you want to see this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or a WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The French Dispatch?” What did you think about it? Or, since I brought it up… What is your favorite “Treehouse of Horror” segment from “The Simpsons?” My favorite would probably have to be “Citizen Kang,” the one that coincided with the 1996 U.S. Presidential Election. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Dune (2021): Denis Villeneuve Brings on the Dandy Sandy in This Epic, Beautifully Boisterous Adaptation

“Dune” is directed by Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049, Arrival) and stars Timothee Chalamet (Interstellar, Call Me by Your Name), Rebecca Ferguson (Reminiscence, Mission: Impossible – Fallout), Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ex Machina), Zendaya (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Space Jam: A New Legacy), Josh Brolin (The Goonies, Avengers: Infinity War), Stellan Skarsgård (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Thor), Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy, My Spy), Stephen McKinley Henderson (Lady Bird, Devs), Chang Chen (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Assassin), Sharon Duncan-Brewster (FIFA 17, Doctor Who), Charlotte Rampling (Stardust Memories, Dexter), Jason Momoa (Aquaman, Game of Thrones), and Javier Bardem (Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales). This film is an adaptation of the Frank Herbert novel and follows Paul Atreides, a young boy born into a royal, planet-ruling family. Paul is destined to one day take on the role of Kwistaz Haderach, much to the dismay of some, considering how his mother was instructed to bear a daughter. When House Atreides arrives on Arrakis, a sandy planet with worms that pop up out of the ground like geysers, it is up to them and Paul to protect the planet and its valuable resource, spice.

Where do I even start with “Dune?” Unlike “Blade Runner,” when it comes to Denis Villeneuve’s work, I was much less familiar with “Dune’s” source material, especially when compared to Villeneuve himself, because the more I heard about this movie, the more I recognized Herbert’s love for the source material. When I first heard Denis Villeneuve was working on this project, and I think cinematographer Roger Deakins was rumored to be involved as well, I was obviously excited because Villeneuve is one of the best directors working in Hollywood today. I’ve only seen a couple of his films, but I’ve always been curious to go back to “Sicario” and “Enemy” because of how much I have adored his recent work. Both “Arrival” and “Blade Runner 2049” made it to my Top Movies of the 2010s countdown event as the #10 and #2 spots respectively. I love both films to the moon and beyond, and I cannot tell you how many times I popped in the 4K Blu-ray for “Blade Runner 2049” since I bought it. I have not even read the novel or its follow-ups, and even with that, “Dune” was easily my most anticipated film of 2021. It may have even been my most anticipated for 2020, but COVID-19 ended up killing the hopes of it coming out that year.

Just for the record, I have not seen any of the previous on-screen adaptations of “Dune.” I’ve read a number of pages of “Dune” during a car ride, but I never picked it back up. It’s not that I did not like the book, I just didn’t have time for it. But regardless of what I have not seen, the trailers for this film encapsulated a supposed epic vibe that Villeneuve and crew may have been shooting for. Big scale, massive locations, and we even got a bit of taste of Hans Zimmer’s score long before the film officially released, and when I heard it, it made me more excited for the film because it sounds like what would happen if a madman trapped an orchestra in a chamber and wouldn’t release them until they were dead tired. From the little that I heard, it sounded majestic as hell.

Now that “Dune” is done, what did I think?

In a number of ways, “Dune” met my expectations, but it is not the best movie of the year. I can think of a few movies I liked more. BUT, if you want a great time at the movies that can make you put your thinking cap on, “Dune” may be for you. “Dune” reminded me of a number of films, one of the first being “Blade Runner 2049,” mainly because both have some distinctions that Denis Villeneuve can call his own. Plus, I knew a tad about “Dune” going into it, and one of the things I knew is that it was pretty dense, so it was no surprise to me that the film itself would turn out to be a bit of a slow burn. Slow does not mean bad in this case. You can make a film slow as long as it seems that the pace fits for the subject matter or the film itself. Same goes with quick pace. You can have explosions and bangs and crazy lasers flying in your face every other second as long as the script and direction makes those things add up. This is not to say there are no explosions in “Dune.” There are, just watch the trailers. But don’t go in expecting every other scene to be like a dogfight in “Star Wars.” But on that note, this film also feels rather “Star Wars”-esque. Granted, the book came out before “Star Wars” hit theaters, but my point is, both stories have similar vibes and themes. Both involve young boys who associate with desert planets and must strive to become men greater than themselves. Both in a way have to follow the hero’s journey, a typical story structure that is often followed or slightly altered depending on the story at hand. I will not give any details as to what ways “Dune” follows or does not follow that structure, but the point stands.

I want to talk about some of the characters in this film, and believe me when I say that this film is not short on bringing together a great cast. Between Timothee Chalamet, who I loved since “Interstellar,” to Zendaya who is practically starting to appear in everything now, to Oscar Isaac who has been great in Alex Garland’s work along with the “Star Wars” franchise, even though he was the one who had to say “Somehow Palpatine returned.” The film is not short on A-listers and stars. Overall, the chemistry and acting between everyone was top notch.

Timothee Chalamet appears as if he is going to be the next Oscar great. Maybe not this year, he is still quite young. But throughout his lifetime, I think he’ll be the male equivalent to Meryl Streep. I think one day, we’ll see an Academy Awards ceremony with an opening monologue from whoever is currently hosting a hit talk show on ABC and one of the jokes will poke fun at Chalamet for stealing all the Oscars from all the up and coming talent. I almost think there is no one better to play Paul Atreides because Chalamet not only looks young, but he has this bridge between him that I can sense that he is young enough to be a kid, but mature enough to be liked by the parents of whomever he’s dating. Chalamet has range, and it is shown in this film through his expressiveness and occasional stoic nature. That’s not implying that Paul Atreides, the character himself, is up for question on what kind of character he actually is, but it sort of shows that the character knows how to put himself in a variety of situations, even though he is still learning how to be an adult.

Along with Chalamet for much of the journey is Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica. I will admit, after watching the movie, someone brought up a creepy but true fact. Take this as you will. One of my favorite elements of the movie is the chemistry between Timothee Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson. Naturally, it feels the way a mother and son should be. The mother wants what’s best for her kid, and the kid does his best to impress the mother even though he may occasionally lash out or disagree with her. Chemistry-wise, I would love to see more of these two actors together. The thing however, in real life, Chalamet is 25 years old. Rebecca Ferguson is 38 years old. That’s a difference of 13 years! So either teenage reproduction is much more welcomed, accepted, and/or encouraged in the future, or these actors have such great range that age is meaningless, therefore making both individuals more convincing performers. For the sake of sanity and the fact that child labor laws exist, I would much prefer to go with the latter. If anything, I think Rebecca Ferguson may give a better performance than Timothee Chalamet, because there are several scenes and lines of dialogue that I could feel her pain, reflecting a natural instinct that most, if not all mothers, would have.

The main antagonistic side of the film would be the Harkonnens, who ravage the planet of Arrakis for Spice. It is up to our heroes to defend the planet and its precious resource. So in a way, this movie is literally the War on Drugs. This side allows for some more great performances to shine through, including one from Dave Bautista as Beast Rabban Harkonnen. I want to highlight him in this review because I think that a performance like this allows him to sharpen his skills as an actor. I like Dave Bautista as a personality, but I think even he knows that his acting skills are limited. Unlike his role as Drax the Destroyer, where he would either scream, laugh in someone’s face, or give a brooding quote every once in a while, his role in “Dune” is more menacing and takes the brooding nature of his Drax character and intensifies it a bit. I like Drax the Destroyer, but if you watch him in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” the way he’s both written and performed feel slightly one-dimensional, but Bautista did an okay job with the character nevertheless. I think if you put Bautista in front of the right director like James Gunn, again, I like Drax. Or in this case Denis Villeneuve, his talents could be unleashed. I hope that these two continue to collaborate in the future.

As menacing as Bautista may be, he’s got nothing on Baron Harkonnen himself, played by Stellan Skarsgård. HOLY CRAP. Now that’s casting. I also have to give props to the makeup department, because of the work they did on the Harkonnens, making them all look pasty white. As for Stellan Skarsgård, this is no offence to him, because in real life, he may be a nice guy, I would not want to shake Baron Harkonnen’s hand. He looks like what would happen if Wilford Brimley ate a ton of ice cream and endlessly made fun of the children of generations below his, and maybe once in a while, enjoyed those kids’ heads with his ice cream. The dude flat out looks creepy by sci-fi standards. You want my money Warner Bros.? You own both these characters to a degree so make this happen! Get Bill and Stellan Skarsgård together, have them portray their characters of Pennywise and Baron Harkonnen respectively, just have them go around scaring children and other crap like that. I’d watch that.

One character that must also be acknowledged is Duncan Idaho. Aside from the fact that the name is freaking lit, Jason Momoa is perfectly cast as this character, because similar to how he made Aquaman a superhero I would want to have a drink with, Momoa shines because of his enthusiastic, almost reckless nature in this film. He’s in a somewhat serious, deep, intense sci-fi picture that the rest of these characters happen to be in, and he’s the only performer who happens to be taking things not so seriously. His character just screams ridiculous fun at times. He’s expressive, he’s witty, he’s charismatic, and much like Aquaman, I would go to a bar with Idaho if I had the chance.

For those of you who were looking forward to seeing Zendaya in the film for whatever reason, I would not prepare for disappointment, but I would also not prepare for excitement at this point, because her character is written in such a way that she has such a minimal impact and appearance throughout the film. If anything, we’ll probably get more of her in part two. I do think her character was well cast, I just hope the next movie gives us a clear answer as to whether Zendaya was truly a good choice for the role of Chani. But from what I’ve seen so far, she seems promising.

I really want to talk about the ending of this film, without spoilers of course. But most stories you read or watch have a proper ending where something dramatic happens, matters are resolved, maybe there’s a happily ever after, then we cut to “the end,” maybe black or white, or just straight to the credits. “Dune” does not have that kind of ending. I will not say where it ends, but it ends in a particularly interesting place. Let’s just say the ending is not the same as the first book… If you want to put it that way. The film ends on at a place where we see our characters in a particular situation only to have the screen cut to black. I have seen the film twice, and both times, I did not mind the ending. Mainly because I have enjoyed what I have seen so far, and the movie set itself up in a way to make me want more. I left thinking, what’s next? When are we getting the next movie? I want it now! Some would claim that in a way, this story is unfinished. I disagree. While the film is structured in a such a way that could garner such a thought when the ending comes up, I disagree because from start to finish, this movie is about the journey, struggle, and change of Paul Atreides as a character. We see him start at one point. We know his ambition, his flaws, and what others think of him. By the end of the film, he is different from how he is when it starts. I won’t give much detail, but if you pay close attention to the movie, you’ll notice. One journey is over, and another one begins. It is a… Strange ending. But it is also one that happens to be effective. I do not blame the movie for ending where it did.

With that being said, “Dune: Part Two” cannot come fast enough. When it arrives, I will buy my tickets in a heartbeat.

I thought to myself upon leaving the theater that while “Dune” was not my favorite film of this year, there is a lot that will it do to aspire future filmmakers and storytellers. I have a feeling that this “Dune” movie is going to have a similar impact on part of the current generation that “Star Wars” and “Lord of the Rings” did on their generations. If anything, even though there were some imperfections when it comes “Dune,” I think it has a shot at being the next “Lord of the Rings.” Between the modern visuals, the epic scope, the dense storytelling with enormous potential, this is absolute franchise material. In fact, as of writing this, not only is “Dune: Part Two” greenlit, but there’s also going to be a TV show set in the “Dune” universe coming to HBO Max at some point. This could be big.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – JANUARY 16: Composer Hans Zimmer arrives at the 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at The Beverly Hilton hotel on January 16, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

As for Hans Zimmer’s score, OH MY GOD. If you go see this in theaters, and I highly recommend you do so, prepare to have the room shake like a fish out of water. It is some of his best work to date and I would put it up there with, interestingly enough, another score he did for a Denis Villeneuve film, “Blade Runner 2049,” which he did with Benjamin Wallfisch.

In the end, “Dune,” or “Dune: Part One,” depending on your preference, is a great adaptation of the iconic sci-fi novel. It’s dense and occasionally hard to get through if you are in a certain mindset, but this film successfully created an epic atmosphere and introduced a whole new world of lore and possibilities. Well, kinda. This is another retelling of a classic story. Denis Villeneuve is up there with some of my favorite directors and this movie ended in such a way where I enjoyed the journey so far, but I also left with curiosity as to where they’d take the story. As of now, “Dune: Part Two” is my most anticipated film of 2023. The film can occasionally feel dense and strenuous. The ending, even though it did fulfill the arch of Paul Atreides, comes at a satisfying point, but also feels particularly emptier compared to other portions of the film. So for what I said, I massively enjoyed “Dune,” and I have a feeling that it could be something that will increase in enjoyment through repeat viewings. I’m going to give “Dune” an 8/10.

“Dune” is now playing in theaters everywhere and is streaming for a limited time on the ad-free tier of HBO Max.

Thanks for reading this review! If you are worried that I am going to be short on upcoming content. Trust me, I’m not. I want you all to know that I have reviews coming for “The French Dispatch,” “Last Night in Soho,” “Eternals,” and “Ron’s Gone Wrong.” There’s plenty of content to come but so little time! If you want to read this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Dune?” What did you think about it? Or, did you ever read any of the “Dune” books? Which is your favorite? And did you see any of the other “Dune” adaptations? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Ghostbusters II (1989): Something Weird Alright

Hey everyone, Jack Drees! It is time for part 2 of 2 in the “Ghostbusters: Before Afterlife” review series. Yes, that’s the name we’re going with. After all, the series literally happens before “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” comes out and I’ll note that I thought of the title in March, published it, and have not had time to change it. But whatever, we’re sticking with it! No one ever said I was a god! But, Gozer, if you are reading this, I assure you, I am a god. TRUST ME. Either way, last week we reviewed the original “Ghostbusters,” the 1984 comedy featuring four guys who join forces to take down the paranormal in New York City. If you read my review, you’d know that I enjoyed the film and I would put it up there with some of the films you should see before you become a ghost yourself. Some tiny increments are slightly questionable by today’s standards, but regardless, I really like the movie. Today we are going to be talking about the 1989 sequel, “Ghostbusters II,” which until prepping for this review, I have never seen. What did I think? Read on to find out for yourself!

“Ghostbusters II” is directed by Ivan Reitman, who also directed the original “Ghostbusters,” and stars Bill Murray (Stripes, Scrooged), Dan Aykroyd (The Blues Brothers, Caddyshack), Sigourney Weaver (Alien, The Year of Living Dangerously), Harold Ramis (Stripes, Second City Television), Rick Moranis (Second City Television, Sterling Brew), Ernie Hudson (Spacehunter: Adventures in the Hidden Zone, Two of a Kind), and Annie Potts (Pretty in Pink, Corvette Summer). This film is the sequel to “Ghostbusters” and follows the four busters for hire as they are able to revive their unique business when ectoplasm is present in a river and ghosts resurge around New York City.

The “Ghostbusters” property has become one of the most iconic in all of history. So much so to the point that it has a few movies, an animated series, a sequelish video game, and a ton of quotable lines. Frankly, I have not dived all that much into the expanded material. However, it does not take away my appreciation for the original film. I ended up watching the 2016 remake before “Ghostbusters II.” Granted, that 2016 film was not exactly connected to the original series in continuity so it did not require me to watch those films, although watching that first film in advance, which I had on Blu-ray for some time, certainly helped. It not only helped me understand some of what to expect going into the remake, but after seeing the remake, it reminded me of how much better the original is in terms of characterization, humor, and action. Although it feels weird to say that I’ve not seen “Ghostbusters II.” I was not born on or before 1989 so in a way it kind of makes sense, but one would figure as someone who has enjoyed the original that I would come around to the sequel at one point or another. Nope! I ghosted the sequel far too long, and now it is time for me to give it the attention it deserves.

The saying is as cliché as ordering fries at a McDonalds, sequels are typically inferior to the original. Do I think that is the case with “Ghostbusters II?” Definitely. The sequel has a slightly campier feel compared to its counterpart, and honestly it feels more like it is trying to cater to families (after all it primarily features a baby) than the original. I wonder if the creation of PG-13 in 1984 had anything to do with it, but I could be spitballing here. After all, I’ve noticed less swearing and less lewd content. After all, you’ve got to entertain the kiddies who probably also saw a horny Sigourney Weaver seduce Bill Murray like it was their last days on earth. I will say though, this is sort of my first problem, albeit a personal one, with the film. The original “Ghostbusters,” even though it could definitely entertain younger audiences, felt grittier. It felt more adult and raw. “Ghostbusters” felt like a movie that put imaginary, spooky ghosts in a realistic environment with real people searching after true purpose in life. While “Ghostbusters II” definitely has elements of realism, and some continuations of previous storylines from the original film, the film starts off with this vibe that feels more supernatural, which is weird to say because the purpose of both movies is literally about guys trying to exterminate the supernatural.

While Sigourney Weaver’s character of Dana having a kid adds a bit to her character and makes sense chronologically, I much prefer the more adult aspects of the original film. Much of what happens between her, the kid, and everyone else that comes into her life, feels more like a kids movie more than a movie that could cater to almost anyone like the original did.

I will say though, one thing that has not changed is the chemistry between the four ghostbusters. Each respective actor portrays these individuals like glitter. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson. I will say though, despite their impressive chemistry, there are not as many quotable lines in this film compared to the original. I mean, there are a few funny ones, but if you asked me to name the first “Ghostbusters” quote that comes to mind, I’m probably gonna think of “We came, we saw, we kicked it’s ass,” long before “You’re short, your bellybutton sticks out too far, and you’re a terrible burden on your poor mother.”

I will point out my favorite part of the movie though, it is the chemistry between Rick Moranis and Annie Potts. The two actors are back as their respective characters, Louis Tully and Janine Melnitz. But this time around, instead of seeing them on their own charades, they’re together, and they find themselves in a situation where they’re kind of in love. I am not the kind of person that “ships” people, it just does not seem like a guy thing. But I will tell you, I think when it comes to two people who I legit think make a cute couple, Louis and Janine was a pair I did not ask for, but it’s also a pair I never knew I would have wanted. Janine and Louis hang out during a time when the former was hired to babysit for Dana’s kid, and some of the lines between these two feel absolutely perfect for the moment, and I could honestly watch a getaway style romantic comedy between these two. I’m not a romcom guy, but if these two were in it as their respective characters or different personalities, I would watch it instantly. Unfortunately, such a thing will probably never happen as we rarely see Moranis in anything nowadays. I mean, he’s only done a Mint Mobile commercial and an episode of “The Goldbergs” in recent years so the chances of this coming to light are as low as Tiger Woods’s scoring average.

The other highlight of the film is the ending. HOLY S*IT is it the perfect blend of stupid, awesome, and flat out insanity. If you take the bonkers nature of the original film by the end of it, and multiply it to gargantuan levels, you get the ending of “Ghostbusters II.” No, seriously! This is THE definition of a sequel. It doesn’t make the movie good, but in my book, it’s a proper definition. It’s that common saying, bigger is better! But that’s just advertising! “Ghostbusters II” presents a less heightened reality in this case! Without giving everything away, let’s just say, for those of you who have not seen this movie, I will guarantee that the “statue of liberty” scene and everything else involved with that is worth every single f*cking penny.

I will also say that the antagonists of this film got a bit of a downgrade compared to the original. In this film’s defense, I knew about Vigo the Carpathian going in, thanks to the internet and maybe comic con. Vigo was okay. He was not as memorable as say Slimer, who wasn’t even the main antagonist of the original, but still. And by the way, I will note that Slimer does make an appearance in this sequel too, but again, that’s not the point! It’s hard to be compelled by a villain when all he does is stay in one spot during the movie. Well, The Emperor in “Return of the Jedi” being an obvious exception here. Although he did move a bit when we were first introduced to him so I don’t know if my example is quite on point. As for the other villain, we have Dr. Janosz Poha, played by Peter MacNicol. Now, his character may look like a dick, but looks aren’t everything. Going back to what I said about this film being more kiddy than the original. I feel like MacNicol’s portrayal of this character is part of it. Personally, if he were around today and I were a casting director, I’d put him in as an Internet troll in a Disney Channel original movie. The execution of MacNicol’s dialogue in many scenes for some reason feels stiff and cartoon-like. Again, it takes some grit away from the franchise.

I think “Ghostbusters II” suffers from escaping reality and entering this vibe that represents a cartoon at times. Now this franchise did eventually develop a cartoon, but that’s not the point. The original film had this feel to it that put me in the room with these guys that were experiencing problems of their own and we see how they try to develop their solutions in ways that feel practical despite taking place in a world of ghosts. The sequel seems to become overly hyperactive and tries too hard. Some of the acting feels overdone and the story bridges into an unpleasingly unrealistic territory. I have seen films that are much more infuriating than “Ghostbusters II,” but this is not one I would be putting on again in the next month.

Ernie Hudson, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Harold Ramis in GHOSTBUSTERS.

In the end, “Ghostbusters II,” as much flack as I’m giving it, is not the worst movie I’ve ever seen. Heck, it’s not even my least favorite “Ghostbusters” film! But this film feels weirdly cleaner than its 1984 counterpart, and not in a good way. Again, I would imagine the MPAA had something to do with it since the concept of PG-13 was invented. With that idea, you could get away with more, but possibly risk losing box office money from younger audiences. You want little Timmy wearing that Ghostbuster Halloween costume, right? Let’s get some kids in the theater! Maybe I’m being a bit harsh, but this reminds me of when “Revenge of the Nerds II” came out. The first film, simply titled “Revenge of the Nerds,” was rated R. It was raunchy, dirty, and by today’s standards, somewhat questionable. I continue to find it ridiculously entertaining, but there are one or two scenes that if they came out today, they might end up on the cutting room floor to avoid controversy. Then “Nerds in Paradise” came out, got a PG-13 rating. Yes, there’s still some naughty material in the movie, but it is a significant downgrade if you will compared to the first movie. Both “Ghostbusters” and “Ghostbusters II” ended up with PG ratings, but time shows the evolution of movie ratings and I would say that it has altered a bit through the 1980s. Maybe it is not the best idea to be comparing “Ghostbusters II” to its original counterpart, but when the original counterpart is as iconic and quotable as it is, it makes such an avoidance nearly impossible. With that being said, I’d rather watch the original “Ghostbusters” before its sequel, and I’m going to give “Ghostbusters II” a 5/10.

“Ghostbusters II” is available on VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K Blu-ray. The film is also available wherever you buy or rent movies digitally.

Thanks for reading this review! Thanks for reading this two part mini-series I like to call “Ghostbusters: Before Afterlife!” Be sure to check out my review for “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” which will be posted some time after the movie comes out. Also, next month, is my final movie review series for 2020, and it is one based on an iconic sci-fi franchise. No, not “Star Wars,” we already did that one. It’s “The Matrix!” That’s right! This December, I’ll be talking about the “Matrix” trilogy, directed by the Wachowskis, in preparation for the upcoming film “The Matrix: Resurrections,” starring Keanu Reeves who will be returning as Neo. All will be discussed in my upcoming series, “The Matrix: Reviewed!” Look forward to it! I’ll be reviewing “The Matrix” on December 5th, “The Matrix: Reloaded” on December 12th, and “The Matrix: Revolutions” on December 19th. That last date may change as the new “Spider-Man” film may be prioritized, but we’ll see. Either way, look forward to the upcoming series! I can’t wait to get into it! If you want to see this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Ghostbusters II?” What did you think about it? Or, do you believe in ghosts? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Ghostbusters (1984): A Comedy That Proton Packs in a Ton of Fun (Spoilers)

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Just a reminder that this November, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” hits theaters after being delayed multiple times due to COVID-19. But we are not going to talk about that today, because today we’re going to be talking about the 1984 comedy “Ghostbusters.” This is the film that started it all. Enjoyed by critics and general audiences alike, “Ghostbusters” ended up being the second-highest grossing film of 1984, right below “Beverly Hills Cop.” It is one of the most recognized Sony properties as of today. The film recently celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2019 and just a few years prior, it was remade with women as the stars… Which really did not work out. If anything, it only made me appreciate the original a bit more. Speaking of which, let’s dive into my review for “Ghostbusters,” the first of two installments in my mini review series, “Ghostbusters: Before Afterlife.” No, seriously. That’s how creative the title is…

“Ghostbusters” is directed by Ivan Reitman (Heavy Metal, Stripes) and stars Bill Murray (Stripes, Caddyshack), Dan Aykroyd (Trading Places, Blues Brothers), Harold Ramis (Heavy Metal, Stripes), Sigourney Weaver (Alien, The Year of Living Dangerously), and Rick Moranis (SCTV, Streets of Fire) in a film where a group of men are kicked out of their respective university. This trio of parapsychologists and a man who just wants a job join forces to exterminate ghosts wreaking havoc in New York City.

In 2016 I reviewed the woman-centered “Ghostbusters” remake. Every time I talk about that film since I saw it, I feel uneasy. Not just because I did not like it. And BOY I did not like it. But I also feel like I have to go above and beyond to justify my dislike for that film, because part of me assumes that people will think I just hate women. That film ended up being a 1/10, which was my first on this blog, not to mention my least favorite film of the 2010s. Before that, I watched the original with my dad for the first time (not counting one time where I fell asleep because it was super late). Prior to going in, I already knew about the film and some of the things in it. There was the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, the iconic Ray Parker Jr. song, and Slimer. I already knew some core elements of the film through the Internet, seeing merchandise, and weirdly enough, playing “LEGO Rock Band” on my Nintendo DS as a ten year old. Of all the songs they could put on that game, the “Ghostbusters” theme song was one of them.

Over the years and after multiple rewatches, including my recent one that I did for this review, I have grown quite fond of the original “Ghostbusters.” To put it short, it’s fun, action-packed, and has a style of comedy that is about as raw as it could get in this film’s environment. I see a lot of comedies nowadays and they often go for these over the top, extravagant attempts at humor, and some work, some don’t, but with “Ghostbusters,” every other moment in the film, despite having a fantastical vibe because there’s ghosts and demons, feel like they could happen in real life. There’s this subtlety between select characters that kept my attention. Characters like Peter and Egon. The two on the surface are not exactly over the top 100% of the time, but they also have their quirks.

Now don’t take that statement too seriously, because this film was made in 1984, and over my past couple rewatches, there are a couple effects-heavy scenes, such as the one where Rick Moranis is running away from Zuul, that occasionally look hilarious. Zuul is menacing. No doubt. His design is perhaps perfect for this world. He has this dirty, rugged feel to him. But there is this moment where Louis’s party goes a bit haywire, Louis flees, Zuul crashes through the wall of his apartment into the hallway and his head busts into the wall. I love a lot of things about this movie, including the scene where Zuul chases after Louis in the middle of the city, but this instance of effects being… so eighties, is hilarious. If I saw that today as a visual effects artist, I would consider it unfinished. Granted, this is a 1984 film we are talking about, so visual effects have come a long way since then, but it’s still kind of hilarious. It does not take away from the moments were we see Zuul in minimal motion, because that’s where he looks the most terrifying.

Let’s talk about the three parapsychologists: Peter (Bill Murray), Ray (Dan Aykroyd), and Egon (Harold Ramis). The best part about these people is that despite having such prestigious degrees, they feel like regular guys. Guys you can talk to, hang out with, have a beer with. Although I will say, part of me kind of relates to Egon the most… Even though on the surface, he may seem somewhat outgoing, I feel that on the inside, he’s a bit shy. He kind of reminds me of myself, and similar to me, I would not be surprised if one would put him on the autism spectrum. Just look at this conversation between him and Janine, the secretary in the film wonderfully portrayed by Annie Potts.

Janine Melnitz: You’re very handy, I can tell. I bet you like to read a lot, too.

Dr. Egon Spengler: Print is dead.

Janine Melnitz: Oh, that’s very fascinating to me. I read a lot myself. Some people think I’m too intellectual but I think it’s a fabulous way to spend your spare time. I also play raquetball. Do you have any hobbies?

Dr. Egon Spengler: I collect spores, molds, and fungus.

If you watch the movie and see this moment play out in real time, Egon’s mannerisms show a supposed indifference to the situation at hand. He’s brutally honest about the subject of reading, although at the same time, he’s making an effort to listen to what Janine has to say, and he exposes his unique hobbies. If I were at a certain age or state of mind, I would be telling people that in my spare time that I like to go outside and ride elevators. No, seriously. That’s one of my real hobbies. And one can wonder why I don’t have much of a social life.

As for Ray, I think he’s definitely the most hyperactive of the bunch. Every other line out of him has an upbeat tone to it, especially during the scene where he and the other busters try to catch Slimer. I think Dan Aykroyd has the most relatable personality out of everyone on the team. He’s not just there for the scientific research, not just for the money, but for the thrill of everything else that comes along. I could genuinely tell that in each moment of the film, there was at least one thing that he thought about, saw, or heard that sparked joy. This is especially true in the scene where the guys are looking at their potential living space, while Egon is blubbering about how he thinks the place should be condemned, Ray enthusiastically slides down a pole. While the other two parapsychologists clearly don’t give a crap, Ray’s running around like a little child, excited about this place. He has this child-like personality to him that puts a fun feel in a film with scary monsters.

Now I like Bill Murray in this film. His performance here is fantastic. He’s kind of got a con artist vibe, but the character of Peter Venkman is still admirable. Some of the lines his character has is great too. The scene between him and Dana where she’s possessed is nothing short of hilarious between Murray’s one-liners and Sigourney Weaver’s sensual yet disturbing presence. Although on that subject, I will say that there is one scene where I thought Murray was becoming a borderline creep, almost in the same the sense that I may describe Lewis from “Revenge of the Nerds,” but in defense of Peter Venkman, this movie is PG, allowing him to be less creepy. I bring this complaint up because I like both characters, but there are times where I feel like they are going after girls like clingy dogs. When Peter and Dana first meet, there are a couple lines out of Peter’s mouth that had me a little uneasy. Part of me thinks Venkman is a somewhat classy dude and of all the “Ghostbusters,” I would consider him to be the driest, allowing for some of the funniest lines of the film to appear.

Dr. Raymond Stantz Everything was fine with our system until the power grid was shut off by dickless here.

Walter Peck They caused an explosion!

Mayor Is this true?

Dr. Peter Venkman Yes it’s true. [pause] This man has no dick.

Walter Peck Jeez! [Charges at Venkman]

Mayor Break it up! Hey, break this up! Break it up!

Walter Peck All right, all right, all right!

Dr. Peter Venkman Well, that’s what I heard!

As much as I despise the 2016 “Ghostbusters” remake, part of me could see why one would want to reimagine it because the film is very much from the perspective where guys think sex cures everything and makes everything else seem unimportant. Aside from the moment where Peter has to avoid the seductive nature of Dana in order to bust Zuul, there is a moment where Ray’s in bed, and a ghost is undoing his pants for him. The reason, I’ll leave it up to interpretation.

I also love the big climactic battle where all four Ghostbusters, including Ernie Hudson’s character of Winston, have to go up against Zuul and find out how exactly this beast could be conquered. There was not much of a quick pace to this fight that you might get in a modern blockbuster. Heck, the climax of “Ghostbusters” 2016 was as fast as a speeding bullet. But I think this movie did a great job at not only developing each character’s arc, both individually and collectively, but while building them, it showed the lack of experience these characters have with their craft, as they should. I mean, who else has ever used a ghost trap? The writing here is also stupendous between Zuul asking Ray if he’s a god, and the “chosen destructor” moment, which as Ray determines, is the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. FLAT. OUT. GENIUS! If I were in this situation, I probably would have done something similar! Who would I want to destroy the world? Dark Lords of the Sith from “Star Wars?” Nah! BRING ON EVIL SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS!

In the end, “Ghostbusters” makes me feel good. There are some flaws with the film. Some parts of it aged better than others, but by the standards of when it came out, the film was great. The characters are top notch from Venkman to Dana to Louis. Everybody is likable and quirky in their own way. The humor in this film feels rather dry, and I will admit, there are a few attempts that did not exactly hit me the way the filmmakers may have been going for, but there are also numerous times where I was laughing my ass off. If you like comedies, do yourself a favor and check this one out at least once. The film is definitely rewatchable. It’s not nightmarishly scary, but I don’t think that at the end of the day, that’s what everyone behind the film was going for. One last thing, the music in this film is great. And I’m not necessarily talking about the Ray Parker Jr. song, as iconic as it is, I’m talking about Elmer Bernstein’s score. It’s spooky, catchy, and weird. It matches the vibe this movie is going for. I’m going to give “Ghostbusters” a 7/10.

“Ghostbusters” is available on VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, Blu-ray, 4K Blu-ray, and is available to stream wherever you buy or rent digital movies.

Ernie Hudson, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Harold Ramis in GHOSTBUSTERS.

Thanks for reading this review! Stay tuned for my next review, because we are going to be tackling the second and final installment of the Ghostbusters: Before Afterlife review series, “Ghostbusters II.” The film, like many sequels, is often considered to be inferior to the original, but I cannot say at this point, as I have not watched it once. But I will watch it this week and my review will be up next Sunday, November 7th! Stay tuned! If you want to see more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Ghostbusters?” What did you think about it? Or, who is your favorite Ghostbuster? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

No Time to Die (2021): It’s a Good Time to Watch Daniel Craig’s Bond Swan Song

“No Time to Die,” a film that was literally scheduled to come out a year and a half ago mind you, so there really was still some time to die between then and now, is directed by Cary Joji Fukanaga (Maniac, Beasts of No Nation) and stars Daniel Craig (Knives Out, Logan Lucky) in his fifth and final portrayal of James Bond. Joining him this time around is Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody, Night at the Museum), Léa Seydoux (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Midnight in Paris), Lashana Lynch (Still Star-Crossed, Captain Marvel), Ben Whishaw (A Very English Scandal, Fargo), Naomie Harris (Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest) Jeffrey Wright (What If…?, Westworld), Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained), and Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, The LEGO Batman Movie). This film is once again, Daniel Craig’s last outing as James Bond, the suave 007 spy who this time around, is retired, he’s done with his life as a spy, but when an old colleague asks for help, Bond takes on the job and finds himself down a path toward a villain who will unleash hell to the world with weapons of mass destruction.

Bond. James Bond. These are words that probably come to everyone’s mind when they think of the iconic 007 intellectual property. This is the last time we can associate them with Daniel Craig, who has not only done a great job at portraying the spy since “Casino Royale,” but as of recently, has also been the symbol of letting you know when the work week is over.

Exquisite.

I will admit, as excited as I was to see Daniel Craig give a goodbye to the character we’ve come to know for so many years, I was also a little nervous. The front of my head, all excited and ready to go, was doing cartwheels. Meanwhile, the back of my head, all nervous and timid, was shivering. Part of me wondered if Daniel Craig genuinely wanted to make a fifth Bond title or if he was just showing up for the paycheck. Thankfully, the trailers for this film put those worries away as each one is as action packed as the next. Each time this film got pushed back, it made me slightly more eager to see it to witness whether the thing I was bound to see was actually worth the wait. The film had more that intrigued me on the surface aside from Daniel Craig. Ana de Armas, one of the most objectively attractive and talented actresses working in Hollywood right now, plays a role in the film as well, and this is not even her first outing with Daniel Craig as they both played key roles in 2019’s “Knives Out,” which is one of the most fun films I have watched in recent years. The film was also shot in IMAX 70mm, which kind of didn’t matter in the end as it didn’t play anywhere in the format in which it was shot, but I saw the film in IMAX and those scenes are well put together, even if audiences will not usually be able to fully realize them. This is just speculation and pregame, so how was the film?

Everyone is going to have their personal rankings of the Daniel Craig Bond films. If it were me, I would put “No Time To Die” somewhere in the middle, which is not a bad thing, because based on the decent track record these films have, “No Time To Die” is a fun film to watch and just so happens to be a lovely tribute to the Daniel Craig era by the time it is over. For the most part, the film does not necessarily feel like a finale through the first act, I’d say you get more of that feel through the second and third act. I don’t mind that. Even though the film ends in one of the most climactic ways it could possibly go out, the feeling of this being the end never came off as forced.

We’ll skip Daniel Craig’s performance for a second, we’ll get to it. But going back to Ana De Armas, I think of all the film’s supporting characters, she was the most fun to watch. I may say this with a predisposed bias as I love the actress. I have been excited to see almost anything she’s in since “Blade Runner 2049,” but her character may be the most fun in the movie. I say that because she is genuinely HAVING THE MOST FUN in the movie. There is a scene that takes place in Cuba where she and Bond meet, they get dressed, get ready, and she’s just spewing out the fact, smilingly, that she’s had “three weeks training.” She’s just excited to see whatever comes up in her path. I would love to in some way, see more of this character. Or, based on what I just saw in this film, I would love to see Ana de Armas lead her own Bond-esque spy film. De Armas has one of my favorite performances in the film and her chemistry with Daniel Craig is untouchable.

And this also leads me with my one deterrent with Daniel Craig in this film. As much fun as I imagine Craig could be having on set, his character never feels like he’s having fun anywhere he goes, even for a drink. I dunno. I get it, he just retired and wants to relax, but it feels weird to say that I’m having fun when the main character is not. I get it. He’s out killing left and right, interrogating people, and after a while that can get boring, but I feel like the way Bond was written in this film made him feel less “fun” then he did in other iterations. I get that characters develop and change, and that’s good for story purposes, but I feel that one constant Bond has experienced is that he was genuinely happy to do what he does. It may just be a personal thing. If anything, the best way I can describe Bond in this film, is that he has a lot of the traces that the character had in every film from “Casino Royale” to “Spectre.” He’s badass, he’s kind of stern, and he’ll let out his emotions only when he means to. These are traits I keep in mind every time when I think of this character. But the way Bond is written in this film sort of reminds me of the way Luke Skywalker was written in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which currently stands as one of my least favorite “Star Wars” films to date. The reason why I bring that up is because Luke Skywalker has a broken personality to him to the point where he almost refuses to associate himself with what made him who he is. If you break down the two characters, Bond is obviously more in tune with his profession than Luke, but still.

One of the big lines of press this movie got before it came out was the fact that there was a brand new 007. Of course, Craig’s character left the service, so it’s only fitting that he got replaced. The replacement, Lashana Lynch’s character of Nomi. I don’t mind Lashana Lynch as an actress. I thought she did an okay job in “Captain Marvel” as much as I think it is one of the inferior MCU installments. Lynch brings her character to life here and there are some fun scenes with her. But there is one part of the film that the more I think about it, the more I dislike it. It’s this recurring gag between Craig and Lynch where the two are throwing these little jabs at each other. On the surface, it’s kind of fun to watch, but as it keeps going, it only feels forced. It sort of rubbed me the wrong way.

As for Rami Malek, who I personally awarded a Jackoff during my first ceremony, he sort of plays the typical Bond villain that has a distinguished look to him. He’s got a suit. He’s got this attitude that you would probably only find in the Bond franchise. The way he’s written in some ways feels cliché, but Malek is convincing enough to play the part to perfection. I like the way he’s handled toward the end of the film. The conflict between him, Bond, and other people whose names I won’t mention, added up to make an entertaining, intense, fast-paced finale. When it comes to the finales in the Daniel Craig Bond saga, this might be my favorite. It’s explosive, it’s brutal, and the choices the characters have to make feel like they have some real stakes.

I will admit, I have rarely exposed myself to anything Bond aside from Daniel Craig, so I have nothing much else to compare this movie to. Although I would love to have a big marathon one day where I catch up on all the other flicks in the franchise. But I would say that collectively, the Daniel Craig Bond saga was a success. I had fun watching this conclusion to said saga. I am glad they ended it where they did. If you like the Craig era of James Bond movies, this may be a fun watch for you. I don’t know if you will put it in the same caliber as some of the other installments, but you will probably have a good time with it. I can say I did.

In the end, “No Time To Die” was worth the fifty thousand year wait we had to sit through to see it. I am glad we got a proper goodbye to the Daniel Craig character. The film looks beautiful. The villain, while cliché in certain ways, is effective. This film blends fun and emotion together to positive results, and I would probably watch it again one day. What’s next in Daniel Craig’s career? Well aside from “Knives Out 2,” which I hope Netflix gives a wide theatrical release (PLEASE. That first one was one of the greatest theatrical outings of my life.), we’ll have to see what the future holds. Either way, his Bond run is complete, and it ended in a satisfying way. I’m going to give “No Time to Die” a 7/10.

“No Time to Die” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! Just a reminder that this Halloween, Sunday, October 31st, I will be debuting my review for “Ghostbusters,” the classic 1984 film featuring creepy libraries, ghost traps, proton packs, and giant marshmallows. What could be better? Well, let me just remind you, this is all part of my upcoming mini review series titled “Ghostbusters: Before Afterlife,” where I not only review the first “Ghostbusters,” but I will also be talking about “Ghostbusters II” on November 7th. I cannot wait to talk about both films, and not long after, I will be sharing my thoughts on the all new “Ghostbusters” installment, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which hits theaters the weekend before Thanksgiving! Which if you’re not from the United States, that’s where turkeys make a plan of attack against humanity to dominate the world.

Also, couple more housekeeping updates… My next review, as far as new releases go, is going to be for “Dune,” my most anticipated film of the year. I have no idea what day that will drop, but I guarantee you will see it by the end of next week. After that, I also have reviews coming for “The French Dispatch” and “Last Night in Soho.” If you want to see this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “No Time to Die?” What did you think about it? Or, who do you think should be the next James Bond? In no particular order, I would to throw these names into the ring: Henry Cavill, Tom Hiddleston, and Orlando Bloom. Feel free to use em. Or don’t. Your call. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Last Duel (2021): Ben Affleck and Matt Damon Finally Reunite to Pen a Brilliant Display of Alternate Perspectives

“The Last Duel” is directed by Ridley Scott (The Martian, Alien) and stars Matt Damon (We Bought a Zoo, Good Will Hunting), Adam Driver (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Marriage Story), Jodie Comer (Free Guy, Killing Eve), and Ben Affleck (Justice League, The Way Back) in a film where two friends are divided over the claims Marguerite de Carrouges brings forth about her rape. The two friends agree to duke it out in a trial by combat where one lives, one dies, and the outcome of the battle will also determine the fate of Marguerite de Carrouges herself.

I have been excited for “The Last Duel” since 2020, which is when I believe I first heard about it. I may have been looking at the list of films coming out that year on Wikipedia, which at this point, almost looks like a shell of its former self with titles like “A Quiet Place Part II,” “No Time to Die,” and “Black Widow” moving dates. At that point, upon seeing some of the names attached, this had some potential. This looked like some Oscar caliber material. It kind of had this “Braveheart” feel to it that empowered the heart. I was genuinely curious of what was to come.

When the trailer came out this summer, confirming that this movie was finally coming, it honestly promised something beyond my prior expectations because as someone who did not know the full story, I did not know if this was going to be a film of slow or fast pace. But getting a peak of Jodie Comer’s performance, which ended up being one of the film’s highlights, was a symbol of how exciting this movie could potentially be. Everything about this movie going in looked great, Dariusz Wolski’s cinematography, the performances from one of the best ensembles of the year, the set design, the locations. All of it had promises.

And frankly, those promises were met. When it comes to big battle type of films that take place long before I was even born, this one stands out. Partially because of the amazing directing from Ridley Scott, whose legacy has not died yet, and after seeing this movie, I only want more from him. Of the three main performances from Matt Damon, Adam Driver, and Jodie Comer, each one did a really good job at conveying rawness, pain, and fear amongst each self. No matter the situation each character finds themselves in, they each find themselves within their own pain and we get a sense of that. One is obviously the hero in this story, but that is also something that at various points, the movie sort of spins on its own head.

In most movies you see a linear path from start to finish with the main hero having a major screen presence. Or in other cases, the main villain. Look at “Avengers: Infinity War.” That whole movie started with Thanos going after the infinity stones and ended with him resting on a farm. Yes, the movie is called “Avengers,” is about the “Avengers,” and heavily features the “Avengers” during its runtime. But you could also argue that the film is technically Thanos’s story once it started and once it ended. “The Last Duel” has a somewhat typical act structure where it has your act 1, act 2, and act 3, but it doesn’t necessarily use those acts in a way where you see a progression of time, which in most cases would be from past to future. For the most part, the acts take place quite literally at the same exact time, but you see certain events play out whereas others are left behind. In some cases, the exact same event will play out but you get a greater emphasis on whichever character’s perspective is put into frame, and it’s not like they’re sitting in a room narrating the story in front of your eyes, you’re seeing it from a visual standpoint.. For some people, I imagine this sequencing procedure will seem repetitive or irritating, but for me, it made me understand the way in which this movie was trying to tell its story. In fact, I honestly think when it comes to the act structure, the movie placed the least compelling act, or as they call them, chapters, before the others, and there’s a reason for that. The other two chapters highlights a certain event in the first chapter that you’re only told about, but as you see more of it in the other two chapters, the bigger the impact it has by the end of the movie. The film shows how important all the perspectives are to create one big picture, thus highlighting the rivalry, the controversy, the infighting, the drama. This is a script that I would honestly put up against many others this year.

The movie does take a bit of time to get into, although it admittedly starts with some quick pace and a promise, there’s that word again, of what’s to come, but once it gets into the nitty gritty, it’s basically full throttle, non-stop, and as for me, the viewer, I’m completely engaged with what’s going on. This movie is called “The Last Duel” and of course, the duel, which is the literal climax of the film supposedly, I mean, you could almost argue that this film kind of has four acts, is incredibly exciting and gritty. But it does not mean the material prior to that going down is inferior in any way. If I have any other cons with the film that I could think of, I would say that the way Matt Damon’s character handles a serious matter in chapter 3 made me a bit uncomfortable. Granted, I think that was kind of the point, but it almost made him less relatable or less likable than maybe he was earlier in the film. May just be a personal reaction.

By the end of the film, when they get to that last battle, I was shaking. Because the film has done such a brilliant job at establishing the perspectives of the main trio that they all came together so well in the last moments. When we see the position of Jodie Comer’s character, the stakes she has to go through as the fight between a couple friends goes down, it only adds to the tension. This film is one of the best of the year and despite coming out the same weekend as “Halloween Kills,” “The Last Duel” felt ten times as disturbing.

In the end, “The Last Duel” is one of the best ways to retell a story in a two and a half hour runtime. This is a film that at times made me feel a pit in my stomach, but it did so in the best way possible. The technical aspects from the camerawork to the sound is all done to perfection. As for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck getting back together to write a script so long after “Good Will Hunting,” it was worth the wait. Granted, Nicole Holofcener (Enough Said, Can You Ever Forgive Me?) also has a credit, but still, it was worth the wait. I love “The Last Duel” and I would personally give it an 8/10.

“The Last Duel” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that Halloween is coming up and we will be starting my brand new mini review series that day, on the 31st exactly, “Ghostbusters: Before Afterlife.” Expect a review then, and I will be following that up the Sunday after, November 7th, with my thoughts on “Ghostbusters II,” which as of typing this, I have yet to watch once in my entire life. Be on the lookout for these reviews and also stay tuned for my reviews of “No Time to Die,” “Dune,” and if I get around to it on time, “Last Night in Soho.” Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Last Duel?” What did you think about it? Or, have you seen “Good Will Hunting?” Tell me your thoughts on that! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Halloween Kills (2021): A Halloween Sequel That Encourages You To Find Jamie Lee Curtis

“Halloween Kills” is directed by David Gordon Green, who also directed the previous “Halloween” installment, simply titled “Halloween,” the 2018 sequel that erased all the other “Halloween” sequels out of continuity. Serious question… They had no other title for that movie? Anyway, this film “stars” Jamie Lee Curtis, even though she barely does anything here. In addition to her, this movie also has a cast including Judy Greer (Ant-Man, 27 Dresses), Andi Matichak (Assimilate, Underground), Will Patton (Falling Skies, Remember the Titans), Thomas Mann (Project X, Kong: Skull Island), and Anthony Michael Hall (The Breakfast Club, Weird Science). This film is the sequel to 2018’s “Halloween,” taking place directly where that movie ends, and follows the Strode family as they continue to survive against the dreaded Michael Myers. This time around, the entire Haddonfield community joins together to defend themselves against the twisted serial killer.

I feel like I keep beating a dead horse when I say this. Horror movies as a genre is not my forte in the film realm. I like some horror, I enjoy it. But for years I avoided a ton of new titles because they often looked predictable from the marketing. Although I have an appreciation for the 1978 “Halloween.” I think it did a lot for slasher flicks and it remains one of the more popular horror titles out there today. Michael Myers has become synonymous with a still face that you do not want to find on the street, and I think the original film is worth a watch at least once before you die, or before someone comes at you with a knife and slices your throat. I cannot say much about the other “Halloween” films, because all I’ve seen aside from “Halloween Kills” is the original film, “Halloween II,” and “Halloween” 2018.

Going into “Halloween Kills,” I was not expecting too much. I had some fun with the 2018 “Halloween” reboot, but I would not say it is that great. There are parts of it that were slow, underwhelming, but I still had some fun with it. I ended up going to the press screening just hoping to have a good time. And I will say that “Halloween Kills,” despite its flaws, and there are a few, is reasonably enjoyable. If you want something fun to watch this weekend, I would recommend “Halloween Kills.”

The film comes with some things that you might expect. Classy kills, great music including the classic “Halloween” theme that has become well known to the fanbase, and Jamie Lee Curtis being badass. Those have become a few staples of the franchise. But I also like where this movie takes its story as far as the supporting cast goes. This film spends much of its time getting to know a large supporting cast who reside within Haddonfield. They all agree on one thing. Michael Myers is on their death list. The way that they handled this supporting cast in the movie sort of reminiscences the U.S. capital riot earlier this year. After all, you have a large group of people, including someone who organized an entire mob, they’re together for the same purpose, but instead of going after a ton of people at once, they’re after one guy. Granted, this movie was written and shot before that happened, but I like that aspect of the film. Trust me, if I found out Jack the Ripper were still alive and somehow in my area, I would be encouraged to join a mob and go after him. I’m a pacifist, I do not have any intentions to kill anyone, but even I might be propagandized enough to go after him.

This movie also has some really cool kills. The movie is available to stream on Peacock even though it is also in theaters, but if you want my recommendation, I’d say go see this movie with an audience because there are one or two kills where our theater gasped, oohed, I said “oh my god,” one time. It is worth seeing in a theatrical environment. My other recommendation is if you want to watch it on Peacock. Get some friends, order some food, make sure you have plenty of people in the same room. This film is fun to watch by yourself, but might be even better with others. Michael Myers has a way of bringing people together.

I said there are a few problems about this movie, and I am not afraid to talk about them. First off, as much as I like the screenplay when it comes to how it handles its large group of supporting characters, I think the movie does not bring much that’s new to the horror genre or “Halloween” franchise. Part of the screenplay is predictable, and I’ll probably forget about a lot of characters in this film by the end of the year. Speaking of characters, again, as much as I like the supporting cast and what they do, I think a lot of time was wasted away from Laurie Strode. Jamie Lee Curtis received top billing in the film, so I would have liked to have seen more from her character. I feel like she doesn’t do much. I know the way the last movie ended and this movie begins has her character the way she is for a reason, but I was somewhat underwhelmed by Curtis’s appearance. It’s like, “Look everybody, A NEW HALLOWEEN MOVIE! Starring Jamie Lee Curtis as that one lady who earns her paycheck!”

My other big complaint is one that to some people, probably should not come as much of a surprise. I felt like the first half of the movie tried its best to set the tone for what’s ahead, but while it did that, it made much of that first half an extravaganza of jumpscares. There were just too many scares just done to keep people on their toes and they had little to no real purpose of being in the film. They’re just… There. I do recommend “Halloween Kills,” but it’s gonna be hard to call it a movie for the ages. It’s definitely fun to watch at least once and see how it is.

In the end, “Halloween Kills” is a good time and I do think it is best watched with a group of people, as long as you’re not out to kill anyone. This film comes with the basics of a “Halloween” film mixed in with an angry mob of people who gather together to get rid of the one thing that pisses them off, a man in a $2 William Shatner mask. No, seriously. Some people suggest that the mask for the original Michael Myers is based on a guy who just went up into space in a penis rocket! There is not a ton of substance in this film, but it definitely delivers style. I approve of the film despite its flaws. I’m going to give “Halloween Kills” a 6/10.

“Halloween Kills” is now playing in theaters everywhere. The film is also available to stream on Peacock Premium free of any additional charge.

Thanks for reading this review! Now if you thought “Halloween Kills was scary, just wait and see what I’ll be reviewing next. This weekend I went to see “The Last Duel,” one of my most anticipated movies of the season, and without giving much away, “The Last Duel” makes “Halloween Kills” look like a family film. I cannot wait to talk about the movie, I have a lot to say. Also be on the lookout for my reviews of “No Time to Die” and “Dune,” both of which will be coming soon. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account and also be sure to check out the official Facebook page to stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Halloween Kills?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a movie where you think one of the main characters should have gotten more screen time? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021): The Lethal Protector and the Big Red One Slash Up a Great Time

“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is directed by Andy Serkis (Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, Black Panther) and stars Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Mad Max: Fury Road), Woody Harrelson (The Edge of Seventeen, Zombieland), Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea, Blue Valentine), Naomie Harris (Spectre, Moonlight), Reid Scott (My Boys, Veep), Stephen Graham (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Boardwalk Empire), and Peggy Lu (Kung Pow: Enter the Fist, Always Be My Maybe). This film is the second installment to the “Venom” franchise, based on the Marvel Comics character. This time around, Eddie Brock who has spent time with a venomous symbiote in his body, attempts to interview Cletus Kassady, a serial killer. Kassady soon becomes a problem as he morphs into the big symbiotic creature, Carnage. It is now up to Venom to stop Carnage from unleashing destruction to society.

Venom (2018) - IMDb

I hated the first “Venom.” I have avoided this film since the theater. While it was not my worst film experience of the year, I was weary of what this film stood for as far as the comic book movie genre goes. The violence felt generic, the acting came off as lackluster, even from Tom Hardy, and I felt that it was a step down for the comic book movie genre, especially in a year where they have proven to be a force with critics and the box office. The success of “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War” were not enough, we needed some schlock in the mix I guess.

The first “Venom” made over $800 million at the worldwide box office. So naturally, when a sequel was announced, I was not surprised. After all, everyone likes money. I had little to no interest in a sequel based on the impression that the first film left me. I felt like that film made me dumber. It was one of those films that by the time we got to 2020, I didn’t really care as much if it got pushed back due to COVID-19. Granted, part of me is now in the mindset that if any movie does well, even if I don’t like it, I will root for its success as it is good for the industry. And that success has been solidified so far with “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” as the new movie made over $90 million the weekend it opened in the United States.

But is all that success just money talking or will I give this film a personal green checkmark? To be frank, I had a lot of fun with “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.” There is a saying in film that sequels are often inferior to the originals. Unless you’re talking about “Terminator 2,” “The Dark Knight,” “Spider-Man 2,” “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation,” “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” “Fast Five,” “Furious 7,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Captain America: Civil War,” “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “Toy Story 2,” “Toy Story 3,” and “Shrek 2.” The reason why this film excels is because of the same reason that “Godzilla vs. Kong” succeeded for me. It was big, loud, and delightfully dumb. Granted, you could say that about the first “Venom,” but that film personally had inferior acting, borderline corporate, uninspired writing, and violence that could have pushed the bar, but felt kind of tame. Much like its predecessor, “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is PG-13, meaning you can have violence, but not so much blood. But unlike the 2018 piece of crap, I would say “Let There Be Carnage” does a better job at, well, bringing on the f*cking carnage.

And speaking of Carnage, let’s talk about him. This film’s villain is obviously Carnage, an insane serial killer who becomes a red symbiotic monster. First off, big improvement over the last movie, as much as I like Riz Ahmed, who KILLED IT in “Sound of Metal” last year, his performance as Carlton Drake was not the highlight of the original “Venom.” Another improvement I’ll bring up, and this is one I think some would argue gets into nitpick territory, but still, I think the choice of using Carnage in this film gives this sequel an uptick over the previous film’s rivalry because there were times where I was watching Eddie and Carlton duke it out, but I cannot tell who is who because everything is dark and all the fighting is two guys in black symbiotic suits trying to wreck each other. The film is ultimately lit better, the color palette is more attractive, and the action is more fun to watch.

Cletus Kassidy is also a fine villain on his own. I think casting Woody Harrelson was a smart move because he did a good job at bringing a sense of insanity mixed in with a flair of viciousness to the table. Harrelson’s performance in this film reminded me of, as much as I did not like the film, Jared Leto’s performance as Albert Sparma in “The Little Things” because in that film he was subtle and quiet, but every time he spoke, it felt commanding and bigger than what I could actually see. The beauty in Harrelson’s performance was not only what he says, but how he says it. In addition, his physicality is individualistic and much like Tom Hardy as Eddie, I cannot see anyone else at this point playing Cletus Kassidy. As for his love interest, Frances Barrison, I liked seeing her in this movie too, because not only was she a fun character to watch who was decently cast with Naomie Harris in her shoes, but I like how her powers reveal the weaknesses of other core characters, including Cletus himself.

This movie, like the original, has a PG-13 rating. I critiqued the first “Venom” for having action that felt clean for its subject matter and not doing anything special with what was on screen. I wanted to see death and destruction, and there are times where the film looks like it is going to reach that point, but it can’t quite get there. “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” still has a slightly tame feel to it at times, but compared its predecessor, the violence in this film feels pretty close to an R even without all the blood. There’s a scene you may have noticed in the trailer where Carnage takes his tongue and swallows it down another person’s throat, a lot of the combat towards the end of the film is pretty intense, and I will say that as far as the PG-13 rating goes when it comes to language, they kind of nailed it. Because there is a rule in films that are PG-13 where you can only go so far with the f-bomb, and without spoilers, the point where they drop the f-bomb in this movie may have made for a possible spot in the top 10 best PG-13 f-bombs of all time. Might even be #1, it’s that effective and satisfying.

The best part of “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is the mix of the runtime and the pacing. There are a lot of movies that have come out over the years that are over 2 hours, maybe 2 and a half hours that maybe I, or someone else, will walk out of saying, that was okay, or that was terrible, one thing they should have done is trimmed at least ten minutes off the runtime. I even did that recently with “Dear Evan Hansen.” So for this to be my next movie in the cinema was a nice change of pace. This movie is all murder, no filler. All carnage, no– Actually, I cannot come up with a good rhyme. If anyone can comment with a rhyme that would be great! This movie ends up with a runtime of 97 minutes, and I don’t think I want more or less. 97 minutes was the perfect runtime for this movie as it allowed the story to establish its points from the beginning, quickly drop the audience into the middle of the action, and offer a simple structure that would appeal to the target demographic. Quite a bit happens in that runtime, it’s almost like the movie was on cocaine.

I was a bit weary on Venom and Eddie’s relationship from the first movie, but it had potential, and I think “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” unleashes all the possible potential there is to be had. I went to see this movie with a friend and I think she described the chemistry between Venom and Eddie the way it should immediately be viewed. She saw the chemistry between the dynamic duo equal to that of an old, married couple. There are several scenes in “Let There Be Carnage” that cement that point. At one point they’re besties, at some other point they argue, one tries to make the other feel better about something. Despite their differences, Eddie and Venom at the end of the day are best pals even if this relationship was not something either of them wanted. In fact, after I watched the movie, I read an article where Andy Serkis and others were debating on calling the movie “Venom: Love Will Tear Us Apart.” As much as I like the current title, that is a fine alternative given what goes on in the movie. And also, I think Tom Hardy himself has done a great job evolving into the character. Even though I thought his previous performance as Eddie Brock was underwhelming, I would have to say that these past two movies have shown that Hardy is embracing his character as much as he can. As far as this film goes, I like Hardy’s performance as both Eddie and Venom. His voice for Venom is ridiculously heightened to the point where I cannot imagine many other people taking this role in the future. If someone else does take the role, I think some major reinvention will have to come into play.

Also, it’s great to see Peggy Lu back as Mrs. Chen, the owner of the convenience store who is in the know of Eddie’s secret identity. I liked seeing her in this film because like Eddie, who has grown to know Venom, Chen has an understanding of Venom that makes the two of them have a connection. Even though at one point, Venom wants to eat her. Pretty normal friendly relationship if you ask me, nothing out of the ordinary.

If I had any other complaints about “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” the obvious one, even though this is not TECHNICALLY a complaint, would be that this movie is not to be taken seriously. The only real Academy Award I could see this film being nominated for is Best Visual Effects. The script does not reinvent the wheel and spends a lot of time trying to be silly. This is not always a bad thing because the film knows its audience and is only doubling down on the success of the first movie. If anything, the more I think about it, this movie has a heir of the tone of “Batman & Robin,” but it uses that tone to show off something ten times as competent.

My one last complaint about the film is also something that I could place into a box that I would write “GUILTY PLEASURE” on in black Sharpie. You know how Sony is… Well, Sony? PRODUCT PLACEMENT! PRODUCT PLACEMENT! GET YOUR PRODUCT PLACEMENT! There is this crucial scene in the film where we see Eddie and Venom bickering with each other, and in this scene, we see that Eddie’s apartment is being ruined in the process, and of course, one thing that gets ruined is the television. In this moment, we see the television face its doom, but in one or two scenes later, we are back at the apartment, and viola! A brand new TV! I’m not suggesting Eddie didn’t have the time to buy a new television. Although I hope he’s wealthy enough to live in the San Francisco area. What I am saying is, right next to the televison is a giant Sony box in all its glory! Ah, the ways to promote your products! Money talks! Money walks! I call this a guilty pleasure because it involves a couple scenes that serve their purpose, one of which had me laughing my ass off like a maniac, but they used them for some easy promotion. It’s not “Transformers: Age of Extinction” levels of obvious, but still.

Also, stay for the credits. You won’t regret it.

In the end, “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” brings on the carnage to gargantuan levels! I recommend this sequel over the original. I do plan to watch it again at some point. Tom Hardy has become married to this character in a sense. I hope to see more of him, maybe they’ll do a “Venom 3” someday, I would very much like to see that. This is by no means the best comic book movie of the year, especially not compared to “The Suicide Squad,” but “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” gets a thumbs up from me, and I hope to see more of the character in the future. I’m going give “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” a 7/10.

“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is now playing exclusively in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! If you want to see my review for the original “Venom,” click the link right here! It’ll take you back a couple years after I saw the movie on opening weekend, where the audience I was with seemed to have a much better time than me. Also, my next review is going to be for “Halloween Kills,” which hits theaters this weekend and will also be streaming on Peacock. I just went to the press screening the other night, and I cannot wait to talk about it. Spooky season is here! If you want to see this and more on Scene Before follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Venom: Let There Be Carnage?” What did you think about it? Or, which “Venom” movie do you prefer? The original or the sequel? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Dear Evan Hansen (2021): A Lackluster Adaptation of the Ben Platt-Starring Musical

“Dear Evan Hansen” is directed by Stephen Chbosky (Wonder, The Perks of Being a Wallflower) and stars Ben Platt (Pitch Perfect, The Politician), Julianne Moore (The Big Lebowski, Kingsman: The Golden Circle) Kaitlyn Dever (Unbelievable, Booksmart), Amandla Stenberg (The Darkest Minds, The Hate U Give), Nik Dodani (Murphy Brown, Escape Room), Colton Ryan (Little Voice, Homeland), Danny Pino (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Mayans M.C.), and Amy Adams (Arrival, American Hustle). This film is based on the Broadway show of the same name, which also stars Ben Platt, and follows Evan Hansen as he copes with a social anxiety disorder and finds himself falling down a rabbit hole after the sudden suicide of a classmate, whose sister he crushes on.

I have never been exposed to the musical version of “Dear Evan Hansen,” in fact my earliest memory of seeing anything related to it was by first seeing a trailer for this movie in the theater. I cannot remember if it was “Free Guy” or something else, it might have been “Free Guy,” but I saw the trailer before some movie, and it gave a pleasant first impression from the music and supposed balance of lightheartedness mixed in with serious drama. Then people started talking about Ben Platt’s age, which I did not care about at first, but the Internet has this fiendish method of sucking you into the latest trend that I inevitably got a closer look at Platt from time to time and thought, “Okay…”

If you want my honest thoughts on “Dear Evan Hansen” I can tell you right now that I do not have plans to watch this movie again. Musicals are not my preferred genre, but I should also note that my mother, who is probably more likely to watch musicals than me, watched this movie, and she found the tunes lacking in charm and style. She and I agreed that there are certain segments that are oddly placed and it kind of reminded me of when you’re in school, you’re writing an essay, and because your teacher likes rules, they want you to put in a certain number of transitions. Some of the transitions feel out of left field and almost anger-inducing at times. The songs honestly don’t sound as great as I would have expected either. The movie has two periods. Dead air and uninteresting songs. Nothing more.

No, seriously! This movie has some of the worst pacing I felt all year. I do not need all my movies to go bam bam licketdy split on a popsicle stick, but this movie feels absurdly slow in the worst possible way, and it did not need to be as long as it is. The final runtime comes out to 2 hours and 17 minutes. This movie could have been better if it lost five minutes. Even better if it lost ten minutes. Who knows? Maybe it needed to lose a half hour and one or two songs. The movie elongates in certain scenes, wastes its time, not to mention my time. By the end, part of me is surprised I did not fall asleep. I guess if I’m tired I could watch this movie again, it has that going for it. I mean, if some of the dead air was to promote the social awkwardness between one or two people, then sure, I guess the movie did its job. But it just didn’t work for me. For all I know this works better on a stage than it does in a movie, but if that’s the case, it shows that not everything translates to film. When “In the Heights” is longer and I gave it a more positive look than I did with “Dear Evan Hansen,” that’s a bit of a problem. Granted, it’s only longer by several minutes, but still.

As I watched this movie, I kept looking at Ben Platt, then I looked at his face. I kept looking. …And looking. …And looking some more. Obviously, this harkens back to the age problem. When your film’s star is distracting based on his looks, that’s a red flag. I turned to my mom at one point and told her “This guy looks like Jerry Seinfeld.” And I meant THAT Seinfeld from the 1990s. Every other minute as I type this review, I can almost imagine Ben Platt in a Puffy shirt singing his ass off. Do I think Ben Platt is a bad actor? Not really. Although I should note he’s nowhere near my favorite, nor should he be. I’ve only seen him in “Pitch Perfect” just to be clear, and it’s been years since I’ve seen that movie. But at the same time, watching his performance was a tad awkward, not only because of how old he looks on screen, but at times I did not completely buy into some of his mannerisms. There are certain scenes where Platt’s character is a fine embodiment of the movie’s message, but others where watching him is kind of on the cringe side. I do not know what to say. Even in some of the better scenes I would wonder what they were thinking casting him. Yes, he was in the original show, but do we really need him here?

I have a strong feeling that if Ben Platt’s father, Marc Platt, were not producing this movie, there’s a chance that Ben Platt would probably be more involved behind the scenes and let somebody else take the lead role. Look guys, I am all for family members or people who are related getting together to make movies, but my advice is to ease with caution on your projects otherwise you’ll just end up becoming the next Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone. Gosh, “Superintelligence” was a trainwreck.

In a way, I kind of relate to the main character of Evan Hansen because I never had much of a social life in high school, I think to some degree I had trouble talking to other people, including girls. I just think certain parts of Evan Hansen’s character were exaggerated to such a degree that it took me out of the movie. Granted, it is a musical, and musicals have a tradition of being exaggerated, but my suspense of disbelief can only go so high. Plus, the journey itself that Evan Hansen takes, the fact that he’s living a lie to pretend to the world he has a friend so he can feel good about himself and others around him, kind of made my brain shake. There are worse lies you could tell, but it’s hard to relate to the hero or root for him when the objective of the story is to lie about being friends with someone to share a positive message, all the while being a viral sensation on YouTube. It’s like if I went on a world tour lecturing about the dangers of caffeine and what it can do you, then I go back into my hotel and get a couple Diet Cokes from the vending machine every night. I don’t know. This movie’s an enigma. I get that likable characters cannot be perfect, not everyone can be Superman, characters have to have weaknesses, but something about this story, even with the positive message it provides, kind of turned me off by the end. Maybe I am a hypocrite because not too long ago I started watching HBO’s “Avenue 5” and one thing I liked about the main character was how he advertised himself as the captain of his ship, but he got by because he was charming. He was a flat out liar to the public eye, because behind the scenes, he didn’t know anything. I like the main character on the show for that reason and how his story is handled throughout the couple episodes I’ve seen at least. Ben Platt is an okay singer when the movie allows him to be, but his character became less relatable as the story progressed, and when you have a somewhat lackluster main character, then I do not see the point of returning to this film to watch it a second time.

In the end, “Dear Evan Hansen” is probably one of the more painful movie experiences I had this year, because unlike another musical adaptation that came out in recent years, “Cats,” I actually had some semblance of excitement for this movie. The trailer looked good. The music sounded good. But the actual movie failed to impress me. It’s boring, it has a main character I related to less and less throughout the film, and honestly the musical soundtrack was a bit lackluster for my taste. When you make a musical and the soundtrack collectively is not even halfway decent, then that’s a failure. This is not the worst movie of the year, I’d rather watch “Dear Evan Hansen” over “Tom & Jerry,” but I am going to give “Dear Evan Hansen” a 3/10.

“Dear Evan Hansen” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! Be sure to stay tuned for my review of “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” the movie where murder can happen and murder will happen. It’s called Murdphy’s Law! I made it myself. If you want to see this review and more upcoming content, be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account! Also, like the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Dear Evan Hansen?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a role that you think someone was either too young or too old to play when they portrayed the character? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!