Marrowbone (2018): Crossing the Line Into An Unmemorable Horrorland


“Marrowbone” is directed by Sergio G. Sánchez and stars George MacKay, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Mia Goth, and Matthew Stagg in a movie that starts as every happy-go-lucky story does, with the mother dying immediately. This mother’s death now leaves four children varying in age to take care of themselves. At the same time, this death has to remain in secret. If the secret gets out to the town lawyer, Tom Porter (Kyle Soller), it’ll be revealed that the new caretaker, Jack, the oldest of the children, has nobody in his home that is over the age of 21. This gives the alert that Jack, is illegally taking care of his younger siblings. That’s not all, because throughout the movie, they have to deal with a monster inside the house.

I bought this movie for $15 during my time at New York Comic Con, so why not watch it? Going into the flick, I was somewhat intrigued as to what I was about to see. I am not a complete and total stranger to the studio behind this movie, Magnolia Pictures, although in this case the studio label is Magnet. They made a movie that came out earlier in the decade, “Grand Piano,” starring Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings, Happy Feet) and John Cusack (Better Off Dead, Say Anything), which I wholeheartedly admired. Naturally, while I wasn’t expecting to compare this movie to “Grand Piano” (different genres, different crew, etc), I did have some faith in Magnolia because their name is not as prominent as Disney or Sony, which for the most part, seems to be all about the money as opposed to quality. They operate on the more independent side of the spectrum, much like another prominent studio, which I honestly probably like a lot better than Magnolia, A24.

Another thing to consider is how good 2018’s movies have been so far, specifically in the horror genre. “A Quiet Place” came out in April and it was one of the most innovative horror flicks I’ve seen. What John Krasinski was able to do not only with as someone who had little materials to work with, but also as a first-time director is astounding to me. My favorite horror film of the year however, has to be, coincidentally, an A24 film. To be specific, “Hereditary.” Toni Collette better be nominated for an Academy Award, the cinematography was stylistically successful, and it is a truly wild ride.

“Marrowbone” is not as good as those two films.

Before the crew sends their pitchforks flying in the air, all the way to my house, let me just state, it’s good.

One of “Marrowbone’s” biggest strengths comes from the cast. The chemistry between all of the children is extremely believable, there’s even some chemistry between one couple I was able to buy into, and as far as everyone’s general acting ability goes, a job well done is in order.

Another aspect I totally found myself getting into was the score. It’s been days since I watched the film from start to finish, but it somewhat reminded me at times of what Howard Shore did for “Lord of the Rings.” Since I seem to be spitballing Shore’s name right now, I’ll also give a shoutout to Fernando Velázquez for creating the excellent score for this very film. The score also manages to accommodate the stellar cinematography, most notably the land shots. Will this receive any Best Cinematography awards during the upcoming season? Hard to tell, this movie didn’t make much money during its limited release and it is not even out on digital yet.

When it comes to the main characters, the oldest of the siblings goes by the name of Jack. He is the one responsible for hiding the family secret throughout the whole runtime. While there are moments in the movie where I do side with him, while there are moments where I do root for him, there’s also this thought that I’m currently having in my mind that is trying to get me to gather all of my other thoughts about him. Jack is a likable, although slightly unmemorable character. Then again, it’s not as easy for him to stand out when you have a young kid in the mix who occasionally serves as comic relief.

By the way, that young kid’s name is Sam and he is played by Matthew Stagg. Out of everyone in the film, I gotta say that he delivers the best performance. No, he is not the next Jacob Tremblay, he is not the next great child actor to be remembered for eternity (might need to see more work before my ultimate verdict on that though). I also got to give credit to the writing for the movie because some of the character’s most notable lines are pretty much what the audience might as well be thinking. He is curious, he is suggestive, and he is charming. Having seen Matthew Stagg perform as this character, I can’t imagine anyone else playing him.

Also, I can’t go without mentioning that this is a horror movie and there are supposed to be some scares in this thing. The scares are there, but I feel like maybe they could have been taken up a slight notch. I wasn’t really genuinely terrified by what I’ve witnessed. However I must say I will say that the monster this movie seems to heavily revolve around is very well done special effects-wise. Nice work! The scares are not horrible, but they are also not as memorable or outstanding as I’d hope they’d be.

In the end, I don’t really have much else to say about “Marrowbone” because everything else I really do have to say is in spoiler territory, and if I actually had the ability to remember more of the movie, I would be talking about it more. Again, it’s not a terrible movie. It could be some decent background noise on Halloween, but there’s not really much more credit I can give to it other than that. Well, maybe except the production value, that is excellent. Also, I must say, another factor that makes me think this is worth a second viewing is that there is a 4K Blu-ray for this. By the way, I used that for my review. So I guess that copy is a hearty $15 well spent. Perhaps this movie would also get the same verdict I gave to live-action “Ghost in the Shell” last year. It’s not a fantastic movie, but if you want a movie that can show off a new giant TV, this wouldn’t be a bad pick. Especially when you consider there’s a 4K edition of it available. Maybe part of my lack of remembrance towards “Marrowbone” has to do with my review coming days after seeing the movie, as opposed many of my other reviews which traditionally are posted in much less time compared to when I finished the movie. So in that case, maybe some human error applies to this. I’m going to give “Marrowbone” a 6/10. I have a strong feeling this grade could go up in the future during a potential rewatch, but for now, this verdict stands. But still, going back to the beginning, 2018 has been one of the best years for movies I’ve ever seen. By far the best year for movies since I started Scene Before. The good movies this year have certainly outweighed the bad. There were a number of all timers like “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?.” Even some of the stinkers this year couldn’t rival some of my worst movies of the past couple of years. Maybe “The Hurricane Heist” sucked, but it was certainly better than “The Space Between Us.” Melissa McCarthy’s “Life of the Party” took every ounce of life I had and set it on fire, but it was not as bad as that 2016 “Ghostbusters” movie she starred in. “Marrowbone” is a slightly forgettable movie, but it still gets a 6 from me. Well done.


Thanks for reading this review! I just want to say to everyone reading this that I wish you all a Happy Halloween and good luck avoiding teepees, eggs, and most importantly, police officers telling your kids they are too old to trick or treat. Speaking of treats, this weekend I’ll be my making 4th annual trip to Rhode Island Comic Con, and I’ll be documenting all of the craziness that is bound to go down. I should also have you all know that it is my birthday weekend, so hopefully, I can beg somebody to give a free autograph or photo. Cons are not cheap! Also, there’s a movie theater not far from me in the area, so if I have the time, maybe I’ll catch something there. I’m well aware that this weekend is the release of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” one of my most anticipated movies of the fall. And no, I’m not reviewing “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” (depending on how many requests I end up getting)! Maybe if I want to torture myself I will do such a thing, but for now, I’m staying away! Be sure to follow Scene Before with a WordPress account or email so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Marrowbone?” What did you think about it? Or, since it is Halloween, what is your favorite horror movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!


New York Comic Con 2018 Review/Haul


Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It’s time to go over perhaps not just one of the biggest events I’ve attended all year, not just one of the biggest events I attended ever, but one of the biggest THINGS I’ve ever attended. A couple weeks ago I’ve been given the absolute privilege to go to New York Comic Con. A friend of mine who I have known for a few years decided to go all out for a graduation gift and give me the most badass thing ever. Given this post, you might be able to guess I got Comic-Con tickets. This is my first time at New York Comic Con, and my second time in New York throughout my life. My tickets were for Friday and Sunday, two out of four days the convention goes on for. As far as my Saturday went, I happened to go around New York City with my mother, but that’s irrelevant here. If you want my thoughts on that, it was fun, end of story. Now let’s focus on New York Comic Con.


New York Comic Con is a yearly event held in New York, NY’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. As far as attendees go, these conventions usually get somewhere in the six digit range. According to Wikipedia, over 180,000 people attended this very convention in 2016. This year, many celebrities were present from ranges in entertainment, literature, gaming, and comics. The show’s basement has an ENORMOUS Artist Alley, but let me make it clear, I didn’t investigate any further into it. I also didn’t go to any panels, but there were some I would have gone to if I had the time or greater motivation. One was the “Mortal Engines” panel, but I couldn’t get in because once it started, I actually wasn’t in the convention center yet. However throughout my visit I did a bunch of other things that were definitely enjoyable. There is so much to go over when it comes to what New York Comic Con has that it is so easy to say that I am not gonna be able to hit all of it. But all of the highlights I did hit, I’ll document them here. Let’s start this off by going over some purchases.


This first section relates heavily to what I do here at Scene Before. These con posts, I just do them as a hobby. I don’t get invited to cons. It would be nice if I had a chance to promote this site there at some booth or something though. As most of my followers probably already know, my main dedication goes toward movie reviewing. This is probably the con that I’ve gone to that relates closest to movies than any other. I say that because while some cons I go to I am well aware that they have those movies and TV shows that you can’t really buy in other stores (this con has that too), there is one space in this con that is actually a movie store, and that is FYE. I will say though, this is not my first time seeing an FYE at a con. At Rhode Island Comic Con, FYE actually happened to be present every year I went.


In fact in 2016, I actually managed to buy a piece of wall art from there which had Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman on it. I got it signed the next day for very low price of $125. That is $15 cheaper than a professional photo op alongside her.

Although when I went to that FYE, movies were not a priority. Sure, last year I remember seeing a bunch of Japanese anime-related film material. Although I usually don’t seek out anime. This year at New York Comic Con, they decided to show off some Funko Pop Vinyls, including exclusives from FYE and believe it or not, San Diego Comic Con. They also had their exclusive food such as 10th Anniversary MCU cereal, Breaking Bad blue meth, and because the game apparently is still relevant enough to be a thing, Five Nights At Freddy’s cereal. I didn’t buy any food however. Instead, I did buy a few movies. One of the exclusive steelbooks they had happened to be an early purchase of mine on Friday, which was the “Iron Giant” steelbook. I have seen “The Iron Giant” before on TV, however I have never owned it. It’s a really good movie and definitely showcases the absolute talent of director Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol). Speaking of exclusive steelbooks, I went back on Sunday and they still had plenty of steelbooks to choose from. They had a bunch of horror related ones, after all it is October, so I went in and got a couple. I picked up the FYE exclusive of John Carpenter’s “Halloween,” which I already watched, and it is pretty much like the 35th anniversary edition. They do have a 4K edition of the movie which came out recently around the same time as this copy did. I never got that, but I went to Best Buy the day after getting home from New York and they had it for a cheaper price. Wah. I also picked up “Halloween II,” more specifically, the Scream Factory steelbook for it. This is also my second possession from Scream Factory. My other Scream Factory product by the way is a steelbook copy of “They Live,” which I purchased a matter of months before I attended this event. Much like “They Live,” this steelbook has only 10,000 copies. It includes the theatrical cut and the TV cut. The TV cut has additional footage which has not been seen in the theatrical cut.


Another purchase at FYE was an exclusive Funko, specifically one of Iron Man in “Avengers: Infinity War.” They had a decent selection of Funkos lined up, but Iron Man was the way to go for me. After all, when it comes to superheroes, “Iron Man” is easily up there as one of my all time favorites, Robert Downey Jr does a great job as the character and his screen presence is nothing short of a crowd pleaser. Although I’m surprised they didn’t make the label “Iron Man (Unmasked)” or “Iron Man/Tony Stark” because you can see his face. And like most of my other Pops, it’s still in the box. Speaking of which, I also happened to buy a Pop protector case. No, I am not using it for this Pop, because when I came home from the con, I went to the mall and stopped inside Thinkgeek. They had an E3 exclusive (also available in GameStop stores) of King Dice from the video game “Cuphead.” As of now, that is inside the protection case. For those of you who want to know more information about this FYE, I will have you know that the receipt actually lists the information for an actual FYE store out there. Similar to how at Rhode Island Comic Con I bought an item there and it tells me that the store happened to be from the Auburn Mall in Auburn, MA. This item is actually from the FYE at Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, NY. This mall is located on Long Island and is owned by Simon.

Speaking of places you can get movies, I actually happened to come upon a stand which I happened to recognize. It’s not a store, and it’s not for a particular person either. Instead, it was for a motion picture studio by the name of Magnet. For those of you who don’t know, Magnet Releasing is actually associated Magnolia Pictures, a studio founded in 2001. Magnet believe it or not is a name that is often associated with Magnolia’s genre and foreign films. I bought two movies at the stand, specifically “Marrowbone” and “RBG.” “Marrowbone,” or as it is referred to on IMDb, “The Secret of Marrowbone,” is about a man and three younger siblings who are cursed in a manor which they live. “RBG” is a documentary on the life of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. So one movie is about something that is haunting a house and the other is basically about a woman you can basically picture as a spirit in said haunted house.

I mean, just look at her! That open mouth will contribute to haunting your nightmares!


Also, because I picked up two films, I got a free t-shirt that came with them. Yippee! As you can see, it has the Magnolia Pictures logo on a field of black. That was also the only t-shirt I picked up at the con. However I almost went ahead and picked up a New York Comic Con shirt because I feel like out of all the cons I’ve gone to in my life, this is the one that I would most likely buy a self-promoting t-shirt from. Not everybody wants to promote the fact that they went to Terrificon. Not many people have even heard of Terrificon! I’m not bashing against Terrificon, I went this year and I had more fun than I once expected to. By the way, if you haven’t thought about it already, go to Terrificon next year.


My next purchase to go over is a Funko Pop Vinyl which happens to be retired. About a month I went into the New England-based nerd culture store Newbury Comics, they had a 25% off sale going around the store. I took heavy advantage of that. One of the purchases I made there was a Pac-Man Pop. Appropriately, when I saw that a place had a Pop for Ms. Pac-Man, I was intrigued. That place by the way was called Shorething Collectibles, which is based in Pennsylvania. They are a family owned business that sells Funko Pops, plush toys, and home goods.


Moving onto another purchase I made, there was this one place that went by the name of Omakase Images. They can be found online at, and they specialize in nerdy art with a slightly religious touch. My purchase happened to be a magnet that says “SAINT NEIL: THE INQUIRING.” As you can see in the picture above, it shows Neil DeGrasse Tyson, which I think is just plain cool because it kind of suggests that science and religion have come together. Two ideas that never seem to mesh together, happen to be completing a double-piece puzzle.


That’s not all the purchases I’ve made. After all, I have gotten a couple autographs, which I will get to. Although one of the biggest praises I can give to New York Comic Con is how they handled crowd control. Given the size and popularity of the convention. The crowd control here is executed BRILLIANTLY. I don’t know exactly what went into everyone’s mind. But I arrived at the convention at sometime around 9:45 AM on Sunday. According to my badge, the doors didn’t open until 10 AM. I still was able to avoid a huge line through the security check. Keep in mind, the security gates are located outside, not too far from where you can enter the convention center. Part of me is willing to bet that maybe there’s something I am unaware of when it comes to this convention that I am truly missing. Although this convention actually manages to have some of it’s cool stuff outside. There’s an “American Gods” diner, some promotional stuff for shows like “Outlander” and “The Good Place.” There was some fun to be had outside. Maybe everyone lined up very early and were let in at 9 AM. Perhaps they all got to stay outside, because that is totally something nerds very often do. Either that or people with VIP tickets were scheduled to go in early and the staff didn’t care if anybody else walked in. It’s New York Comic Con! It’s a party! Some of you might not afford to go next year so let’s make this one count! Overall, it’s a pretty effective use of space and it gives you something to do when you want some breaths of fresh air.

Speaking of promotions, I also took a picture in front of a car promoting “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. I will say something though regarding my picture. It was not taken on any personal camera of mine. It was taken on a camera already set up at the event. Unfortunately, I cannot find the picture of me alongside the vehicle. I will admit I got badges from a friend, and with that in mind, I was willing to imagine that they were linked to one of our emails. As far as I know, it has no link to mine (I checked, even in spam), I asked my friend if they had it just in case, but there was no sign of it. Aw, well. It’s just a picture. Experiencing is what counts.


And this is the one thing that I can imagine is a negative to New York Comic Con. I didn’t really mind this, but I can imagine someone coming here, ready to have a good time, and all of a sudden, they are overwhelmed with one bit of promotional material after the other. All of the convention you can see stuff for Capcom, Marvel, Disney, Funko, and Starz. The badges that I had on me were actually advertising AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” There’s even a Syfy Wire Fan Lounge and a Syfy Wire Live show! It kind of makes sense when you think about it because this convention is organized by ReedPop, which organizes PAX, which I’ve been to. There’s video game advertising up the wazoo. Everybody there is just trying to show off their latest and greatest video game whether your name is Nintendo, Bethesda, Square Enix, or Blizzard. This all kind of reminded me of one convention my friend went to in Las Vegas, specifically the one that celebrated “Star Trek’s” 50th anniversary. My friend explained that she went and was just comparing it to Dragon Con and how she feels that Dragon Con caters more to fans whereas the “Star Trek” convention she went to was more of an advertising effort. New York Comic Con in my personal opinion takes every chance it gets to advertise something, but it also simultaneously keeps everything in balance by providing a good show for the fans. In fact, I’d say it was a wise choice for Syfy to advertise at this event given how they often use the slogan “It’s a fan thing.”


Although, one of my favorite promotions in the entire con has to be for Amazon’s upcoming show “The Boys.” This was one of the first things I saw once I walked inside the convention center. F*cking brilliant.


One of my favorite video game franchises is “Super Smash Brothers.” Apparently the con had an area full of flat screen TVs and Nintendo GameCubes which all had the game “Super Smash Bros.: Melee.” This is one of my most nostalgic games, not to mention one of my all-time faves. On Sunday, I had time to play a round of Smash with three other people. I don’t know who they are, I don’t know their names, chances are I might never see them again. But they are fine people. I played as Donkey Kong, who is one of my mains. I wouldn’t say I have a “main” in Smash, but Donkey Kong is one of my preferred characters. Although I will say I have been playing the 3DS version a lot recently and Lucina is kind of my main there. Also, if you want my goto main on Melee, I gotta say, it’s Roy. However, he wasn’t unlocked yet. Marth was, but Roy wasn’t. Whatever, I like Donkey Kong. I didn’t win, however I got pretty close in a position of second place. A worthy competitor playing as Falco ended up taking the top position.


Moving onto autographs, I actually managed to get two of them. One of them was from Friday and the other was given to me on Sunday. On Friday, Zachary Levi (Shazam, Chuck) happened to be present in the building. I came to his line at a time when it happened to be rather short. Levi was just finishing up with photo ops, and now he was ready for his next adventure in autographing. So I chucked up $80, no pun intended, and got Levi’s signature on a photo of him as Shazam chewing bubble gum. It’s a true feast for the eyes. It is truly kick-ass until you run out of bubble gum. We happened to chit chat for a moment. Levi said he is enjoying the con so far, and he comes off as a genuine nice guy who at that moment, just became $80 richer by writing his name.


The other celebrity I met is not as well known. The celebrities who were well known had lines in the basement. This one is not really known for a specific TV show or movie, she is actually known for cosplaying. She goes by the name Yaya Han. Now I don’t follow cosplay. I don’t partake in cosplay. I have massive respect for those who do happen to be involved, although I never took part in it. Keep in mind, I said some of those words to her face. So she must be thinking, “What is this schmuck doing talking to me?” Then I got to the point. For those of you who have known me for awhile, one of my all-time biggest obsessions is the TBS reality competition “King of the Nerds.” Yaya Han was not heavily involved with the show, but she was the only guest I met who had some sort of association with it. Sure, there was another guest, Curtis Armstrong, who was at the con for a panel, but that happened on a day which I didn’t have a ticket. Yaya Han however was there when I was. Therefore, I told her I remember her as a guest judge for all three seasons of the show. When I did, I also thanked her for being a part of something that heavily makes me an individual. She commented saying “King of the Nerds” is an excellent production and she has enjoyed it. Shortly afterwards, I got an autograph from Han on a photo displaying her as Batgirl. Besides her name, she also wrote, “Gotham needs you!” The autograph was only $15 and to me it was well worth the money. Afterwards, I took a picture alongside her.

One person I ended up meeting also happened to be someone I was subscribed to on YouTube. If you know me in person, chances are you’d be aware that I watch “Family Guy.” The thing is… I met Peter Griffin.

Image result for real life peter griffin

No, not Seth MacFarlane! I met Robert Franzese. If you don’t know who this guy is, I don’t blame you. On YouTube, his channel name is known as Real Life Peter Griffin. He is known for talking, dressing, and sounding like Peter Griffin. On YouTube, you can find videos of him doing his own version of some of “Family Guy’s” popular bits (Grinds My Gears is a common example), and whatever other funny material he can come up with. I told him I was subscribed to his channel and he said that’s “Freakin’ sweet.” As you can tell, I didn’t get a picture with him.


New York Comic Con is basically a giant compared to other cons that I went to that when you consider how much I DIDN’T get to do. It all makes sense. I never got a pro photo op. I never went into a panel. There was a bunch of interactive stuff I never really took part in. I never tried out any of the upcoming video games like “Megaman 11” or “Kingdom Hearts III.” There was even one thing that I was kind of curious to do, which was take part in a VR game based on the recent film “Skyscraper.” This had you attempt to make what is referred to as “the impossible jump” and if you make it from the crane to the skyscraper, you will be entered to win $10,000. But the area was cluttered, so I avoided pressing my luck. And I have to say that I have the same excuse for the panels. I’d try going down and checking on them, but the case is either that I am not interested in something, or I just don’t want to wait in line with tons of people and risk getting a bad seat. Only thing is there is only one seat I’d get on the “Skyscraper” game. Regardless of the endless list of things I DIDN’T get to do, it did not make me think I did nothing, because all of the stuff I ended up doing, I really enjoyed.


Guys, New York Comic Con is literally not just one of the best cons out there, but quite possibly one of the best THINGS ever created! The staff is really nice, everyone seems to be enjoying themselves, the organizers know their audience, and it’s as big as Kanye West’s ridiculous ego! If I have any cons regarding this convention, I do want it to have slightly cheaper tickets (tickets are $50 for just a single-day admission), but there’s also probably an argument to be made that maybe all that is in store is totally worth the $50 ticket price. I must say though, as a nerd, it has kind of been an objective to hit one of the big two comic-cons before I die. Aside from this one, a con in particular I wanted to hit was San Diego Comic-Con. And now I am super glad to have one of the big two off my bucket list. Will I be back next year? Tough to say. Tickets may be easier to get than San Diego, but I don’t live in New York, I live in Massachusetts, traveling ain’t cheap. Plus, again, just one day at the convention is worth $50. Maybe. Maybe not. Who knows? Thanks for reading my thoughts on New York Comic Con! If you want to find out more about my con adventures, I should have you know that Rhode Island Comic Con is upon us and I’ll be attending all three days. This is my fourth time going to Rhode Island Comic Con in a row, and as much as I’m excited for it, let’s just get serious and hope that when it comes to organization, they succeed and don’t piss people off. Look that s*it up, that’s usually their biggest flaw. Be sure to follow Scene Before with your WordPress account or email so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you go to New York Comic Con? What did you think about it? Or, what is an expensive con that is worth the money? Also, in the comments section, feel free to suggest future cons for me to visit in the future, I’d LOVE to hear them. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

First Man (2018): One Giant Spacegasm


“First Man” is directed by Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, La La Land) and stars Ryan Gosling (Blade Runner 2049, The Notebook) as Neil Armstrong. This movie takes place during the events of Apollo 11, the most famous of the Apollo missions. Many people going to see this movie probably know the story, Neil Armstrong and some other astronauts attempt to land on the moon, but this movie explains a little bit more than that. It goes into the personal and family life of Neil Armstrong, and shows off all the preparation that went into executing such a daring mission.

I don’t know if many people reading this remember, or even knew when this movie was first announced, but my first time hearing about it was around January 2017 if I recall correctly. As if the concept alone of the moon landing was interesting enough, it was to be helmed by one of my favorite directors working today, Damien Chazelle.

Damien Chazelle is known for his work on “Whiplash,” but in my eyes, his popularity skyrocketed during the release of “La La Land.” That movie is a 2016 musical which went on to win 7 Golden Globes, which also happened to be the total number of awards the movie happened to be nominated for. Speaking of awards, the movie went on to receive 13 Oscar nominations, 6 wins, which doesn’t happen to include the rare instance of the kinda sorta maybe victory of Best Picture. So kids, if you are reading this and think that your dream will never come true, if you think you’ll never be able to colonize Mars one day, just remember this. Two films were labeled Best Picture at the 89th Academy Awards!

When it comes to “First Man,” this is actually a really interesting movie though because out of all the feature-length films Damien Chazelle has done as a director, this is actually the first one he doesn’t have a screenplay credit for. Granted, this movie was actually written by Josh Singer, who also wrote the screenplay for 2015’s “Spotlight,” which won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Even so, the fact that this was not written by Chazelle himself made me slightly worried. I was beginning to wonder if I didn’t like this movie, it might partially lead to me thinking Chazelle is another Brad Bird. He’s a fantastic director, but only fantastic when it comes to directing his own material. Having seen this movie, that worry is meaningless, because I’ll be honest with you, this is one of the best movies I’ve seen all year. In fact, when putting Chazelle into the conversation, it’s my second favorite film of his directly behind “Whiplash.”

Just about everything in “First Man” worked. The acting, the directing, the score, the entertainment value, the sound work, the effects, everything just felt as if it was created by a god. I went to see “First Man” in IMAX, which I will get to, but I must say, regardless of whether or not you went to see “First Man” in IMAX, I must tell you, this is one of those films that you have to get off your ass and see in the theater. This joins some recent films like “Dunkirk,” “Blade Runner 2049,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Ready Player One,” and “A Quiet Place” on the list of films to watch on the big screen. What the crew did for this movie in terms of cinematography is genius.

In all honesty, part of me wonders how many people will notice or care to notice, some of the images in the movie, are incredibly fuzzy or grainy and it just feels like they were gathering dust before processing. Let me just have you know that this movie was shot on 16mm film. Most of the scenes early on in the films, that take place on Earth, looked somewhat old-timey. And I honestly thought that fit, because believe it or not, I don’t know how much you guys know about Neil Armstrong’s life, but when this movie started it was basically a soap opera. For some people, I imagine that will take them out of the movie, but to me, it fit because for one thing, you can’t alter history. It partially comes into play when developing Armstrong as a character. Also, it showcases the excellent acting ability of Ryan Gosling.

Ryan Gosling is the star of the movie and he seems to have a decent range as an actor. You can put him in a movie as a sex doll that girls will dream about. You can put him in a movie where he happens to be somewhat passionate and upbeat. And you can put him in a movie where maybe he happens to be intentionally robotic. To call Ryan Gosling my favorite actor of all time is a stretch, but he is a true force in the industry. And when it comes to his portrayal of Neil Armstrong, overall it is really good, but I have a couple minor complaints. For one thing, Neil in this movie is incredibly stoic at times. If he was as stoic in this movie as he was in real life, then whatever, then my complaint will be taken off. That’s not to say he doesn’t show any emotion at all. He’s actually seen in the beginning of the film shedding tears. It’s a great performance, but part of me wonders how much Neil Armstrong would say it’s “him” had he been alive to see this picture come to life. Ah well, where’s Buzz Aldrin when you need him? Another minor complaint I have is a bit nitpicky, but Neil Armstrong was born and raised American, and yet they cast the very idea of the “Sexy Canadian Boy” Halloween costume. Again, nitpicky. It does not however change the fact that the interpretation of Armstrong is still a top-notch performance. Plus, it’s still a pasty white dude, so it’s not like they’re trying to make Neil Armstrong a woman or black and erase history by doing so.

Speaking of minor casting issues, I also should point out that Claire Foy (Unsane, The Crown), who plays Neil’s wife, Janet, is British. Let me just point out that much like Neil Armstrong, Janet was born and raised American. It’s still a great performance and BY FAR the best one in the entire film. I really hope Foy receives a Best Actress nomination. Several scenes from her add tons of emotional weight to the film and I can imagine in a way, back in the 1960s, her character would not only encapsulate the thoughts of just herself, but those people who are out of Neil’s family who have to watch the crew go to the moon. Granted, it’s a lot worse for her, because she can lose her husband, but still.

All my complaints in this movie are legit complaints for sure, but in reality, they are easily forgivable because they fall under the classification of “minor” or “nitpicky.” One small complaint I have is something that occurs towards the end of the film that I wonder if it actually happened. Without going into spoilers, when Neil Armstrong gets to the moon, he has an object with him that happens to be very significant. As far as I’m aware, there is no concrete evidence to this happening. If it did happen, cool. But if it didn’t, maybe it added some emotion, but there would also be that part of me who thinks that shouldn’t even be in the movie.

Speaking of objects on the moon, let’s get controversial! One report that has been going around about “First Man” is that there is no scene showing the American flag being planted on the moon. As someone who witnessed this movie, let me confirm to you all, THIS IS TRUE. Many conservatives for what I know are upset about this and they’re hoping this movie fails. Based on the box office for the opening weekend, it lost big time to “A Star Is Born” and “Venom,” which retained its first place spot for the second week in a row. By the way, f*ck “Venom.” I will say though, this is kind of a spoiler, but it’s not really going to affect your viewing experience, at least I don’t think. If it’s any consolation, the American flag is shown on the moon during the film. I can understand why people would be upset about this, but honestly I don’t really care. I live in America, and this is an American achievement, but at the end of the day, “First Man” is supposed to be a film, not a propaganda piece. Also, if you like your flags so much, let me just remind you that the astronauts have American flags on their spacesuits, and there’s actually a scene where an American flag is being raised. Also, I’ll be honest, I’m glad that someone like Damien Chazelle directed this movie as opposed to someone like Michael Bay. I say that because there would be an American flag overload to the point where the planting scene would involve Neil Armstrong breaking the laws of physics, jumping into space bumping into one planet into the next like a pinball. Once that’s all done, he flies back to the moon striking the surface with the flag like Link did to Ganon in “The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.” Also for fun, we cut to explosions happening in Russia therefore symbolizing their loss in the space race. There are reasons why I wouldn’t mind seeing the flag planted in the film, but the direction Damien Chazelle took with the movie worked very well and made me not care about seeing the planting of the American flag. The emotional journey mattered more in the end to me than seeing a country’s representation, even if I do happen to be a part of that country. Plus, you also have to consider international audiences. How will they respond to this? I don’t know. There’s always room for experimentation. Even so, I guess it is not wrong to assume that international audiences will be able to recognize the accomplishment that the US made with the moon landing, but at the same time, since it is not their accomplishment, they’d probably find the scene less relatable. I really think I should do a separate post someday on why it might be a good idea to have the planting of the American flag shown in the movie and why it might not be a good idea. Now let’s move onto…

Screenshot (362)


Before we actually dive into my thoughts on the space scenes, I gotta say that I saw this movie with my mother and sister. I can understand why some people would have certain complaints but one that really stuck out to me is that my mother said the movie spends too much time in space. I find this amusing because “First Man,” after all, is a space movie. I’m not saying it’s invalid, each to their own, but I thought the space time was fine. And trust me, it does spend a bit of time. Aside from focusing on Apollo 11, the movie spends some time focusing on Gemini 8. I’m willing to bet this is where my mother complained. Although I appreciated that the movie decided to include that, because this establishes not only the dangers for anyone who has to go to space, but as far as Neil Armstrong goes, he had to experience said dangers before moving onto another dangerous mission that is amazingly daring, to the point where he might never see his wife and kids again. One thing I also admire about this scene is the music, which is very reminiscent of “2001: A Space Odyssey” when they play “The Blue Danube.” ALSO, THE SOUND WORK IS TOP-NOTCH! If this movie doesn’t win best director at the Academy Awards, it better get something in the sound categories because it is something worth hearing. While the movie is great overall when it comes to sound, in fact some of it reminded me of “Gravity,” one of the best scenes when it comes to sound comes after the lunar lander touches down on the moon.

In terms of sound, cinematography, and theatricality, the walking onto the moon is definitely one of the best scenes I’ve witnessed all year in a movie. And you even get an added bonus if you see this movie in IMAX. As you can see, the crew is getting ready, opening their hatch, as they are about to see the moon outside their craft. So you get to see the camera coming out, and BOOM! Silence. Scientifically accurate for sure, but that’s not the point. The effect that lack of sound has on the scene literally dropped my jaw. And as if that’s jaw dropping enough, the lunar sequences for this movie were shot on IMAX film. So once the camera comes out of the craft, we go from the aspect ratio we’ve been seeing for the entire movie so far to full fledged, screen-covering glory. WALL TO WALL. FLOOR TO CEILING. Looking at Neil Armstrong up close makes you feel like you are an ant compared to him. The screen dominated me in that moment. The way everything plays out in that from acting, directing, and camerawork just felt like I was in a museum looking at paintings instead of a movie. And another reason why I love this IMAX transition goes back to how this movie was shot on 16mm film. Everything looks fuzzy, it was somewhat of a more unsettling time back then. This takes all depression out of the equation and we have gone from a sad movie that felt like a soap opera, to the end of an epic. It’s one of the best movie transitions I’ve seen in recent memory, and some of the all time best use of an IMAX camera that I am aware of.

I will say that a number of movies shot with an IMAX camera happen to be ones I enjoy. Take the “Transformers” movies out of the equation however. On the subject of cinematography, something happens in this movie that made me realize how awesome this movie truly was. When it comes to filmmaking, one term I’ve always hated was “shaky cam.” But there are several scenes in this movie that actually use shaky cam, and it almost made me change my mind on it entirely! Shaky cam is probably a reason why some critics aren’t massive fans of certain action movies. Aside from hiding poor stuntwork, one reason why I imagine some people use shaky cam in their movies may be to heighten tension. I can’t really recall many moments where shaky cam increased tension for me. Here in “First Man,” there’s moments where shaky cam happens to be prominent and believe it or not, I am not bashing on it. A good movie can do things that people have seen before which have been done with care and everything works. A great movie can take something that might not be your thing and change your perspective on it. While I do enjoy space movies VERY MUCH, I don’t traditionally find myself bowing down to the gods of shaky cam. Shaky cam is a reason why I find shows like “Modern Family” somewhat off-putting. I honestly don’t know if I am overrecating, I wonder how other people would react to something like this, but this is just how I felt from my experience.

In the end, I wouldn’t call “First Man” an A+, but it sure comes close. This is by far one of my favorite movies of the year, and when it comes 2018’s new releases, “First Man” is up there with “Ready Player One” as one of my favorite theater experiences. It has the potential to shoot itself up to an A+ depending on replay value or depending on how I view this movie outside the theater, but in reality, from a critical point of view, while it has some minor things to complain about, there are really no glaring errors (then again, I don’t work for NASA, so science isn’t my biggest strong suit). What Damien Chazelle did with this movie is truly something to appreciate. The cast, while not technically completely matching with their counterparts were believable and added to the movie’s overall grit. The score is appropriate for the film and perhaps something maybe I’ll listen to for motivation. While there were not really any shots to pick out to say that they were really innovative for the most part, the cinematography in “First Man” is certainly something I hope not to forget sometime in the future. Also, if you can, please, go see “First Man” in IMAX. You’ll thank me later. I’m going to give “First Man” a 9/10.

Thanks for reading this review! For those of you who read my work often, you may be aware that I’ve gone to New York Comic Con. I went almost a couple of weeks ago, and don’t worry, a post on that is coming. I just need to put it together. I’m actually going to be in a hotel room in Connecticut this weekend because I’m going to see the Impractical Jokers live, so when I have some free time, or if I choose to be a madman and stay up all night (which would be appropriate because I’m in a casino), maybe I’ll work on this post then. As far as movie reviews go, I will say that my next pick is currently undecided, maybe I’ll go see “Bad Times at the El Royale,” “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween,” maybe “Night School.” A good comedy is soothing every once in a while. Seriously though, I’m almost considering going to see “First Man” again sometime soon. It’s that good. Be sure to follow me on Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “First Man?” What did you think about it? Or, you know what? F*ck it. Was the moon landing faked? Please comment below, I would like your honest answers, I won’t judge (maybe). Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

A Star is Born (2018): Lady Gaga Can Act?!


“A Star is Born” is directed by Bradley Cooper (Guardians of the Galaxy, Joy), who also stars in the film as well, alongside Lady Gaga (Machete Kills, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For) as two singers who have both of their individual problems in life. Bradley Cooper plays a country vocalist who has a drinking problem and Lady Gaga plays someone who writes her own songs but lacks the courage to sing those songs. Both meet each other, fall in love, and go on a journey together as they sing.

This was a movie I was looking forward to this year. Bradley Cooper is not a bad actor, and judging by the idea of this movie alone, it seemed like a good idea on paper to get a singer (Lady Gaga) to act in a role that primarily involves singing. Also, one thing that really interested me was the fact that Bradley Cooper, someone who is usually known for acting, actually decided to write and direct this film. Granted, this just shows his range in the film industry, especially when you begin to consider how great this film truly is. But you know what? I gotta get something out of the way, it has problems, so just to scratch those off the board, I’m gonna tackle those first.

One problem that I imagine is going to get some controversy is the songs in this movie. This may be just me, but the main song in the movie, “Maybe It’s Time,” just didn’t work for me. I don’t know, the fact that the same lyrics are used more than a single time in a row just felt slightly off-putting. Granted, it might almost make me look like a hypocrite because there’s a song that has nothing to do with this movie, known by the name “Roadhouse Blues,” which has a similar tactic. Then again, I find this movie’s song to be a bit more serious, and I found the tactic in “Roadhouse Blues” perhaps a bit funnier. Speaking of songs, I don’t feel like there’s going to be many songs from this movie that I’m either going to remember or want to listen to again. And that’s kind of sad because this movie revolves around music and singing. I imagine the studio wanted to sell an album based off this movie. Chances are they just lost a customer! It’s not like I walked out of “La La Land,” where I not only remembered songs from the movie, but I had some of urge inside of me that made me want to listen to certain songs again.

I’ll say once again, this film is directed by Bradley Cooper. This is actually his directorial debut and I gotta say, this is a pretty good debut. Not as good as it could have been. I will say there could have been some improvements. But as far as lighting goes, I really like the bar scene. The lighting of the bar really stood out to me. I don’t know why, but it just felt like something you’d probably encounter in a big city. Cinematography wise, some of the shots sometimes immersed you into concerts, maybe even toward’s Bradley Cooper’s typical everyday life. As decent as the directing may have been, especially for a debut, it doesn’t hold a candle to the fantastic acting. Bradley Cooper’s performance as Jack was believable and had some emotion beneath it. You can see this broken singer who is still chugging along with his life. Also, for those who don’t know, the singing in the movie is Bradley Cooper’s actual voice. It kind of reminded me of Tim McGraw if he happened to combine with Rick Deckard from “Blade Runner.”

The best performance in the movie however, hands down, is Lady Gaga. While this movie is mainly about Bradley Cooper’s character’s life, I gotta say, character and acting-wise, Lady Gaga dominates as the character of Ally. Casting-wise, I gotta say, it may almost feel cheap on paper getting a singer to do an acting gig. Why not give it to an actor? But when you consider the fact that Lady Gaga is playing a singer, you know why she was chosen for her specific role. And it’s not like Lady Gaga is new to the world of acting. Just look at her IMDb! Seriously though, great casting! Although my one problem with the character, despite Lady Gaga’s killer performance, is the nose story. I seriously have to ask, is this based on true events? I can understand people being insecure about their looks. But not only am I not aware of people being insecure of how their nose appears, but when it comes to Lady Gaga, she didn’t make that story believable. I sort of said this before, and I’ll say it again This is like getting Mila Kunis, who was then recently nominated at the Teen Choice Awards in the Female Hottie category, earned the #2 spot on AskMen’s Top 99 Women list, and earned Esquire’s Sexiest Woman Alive in 2012 to play a stay at home mom who wears “typical mom clothes.” Maybe this statement is technically a little invalid because I’m a guy, and it seems to be a gender-oriented stereotype that guys don’t usually care about their own looks as much as women do, but I usually don’t see people complain about their nose, or say someone’s nose looks ugly. That idea is almost cheesy at this point. But in reality, despite the weird writing, Lady Gaga hit it home with her performance and made the movie.

Another highlight performance comes from Sam Elliot (Road House, Mission: Impossible), who plays the brother of the main character. This character goes by the name of Bobby and he seems to know that something is up with his brother. He’s trying to get the message across to his brother that he shouldn’t be drinking as much as he is. Clearly the brother is not listening. His performance is maybe a little more quiet than some of the others in the movie, but in the end that’s what makes it great.

Also, for those who are curious to know, there is a dog that plays a role in the movie and believe it or not, that dog actually happens to be Bradley Cooper’s own pet. When I first heard about this, I thought that little factoid was rather interesting. I went to see this movie with my mother and sister, they thought the dog was cute, but I’ll be honest with you, and if Bradley Cooper is reading this, I love your work, I apologize, it looks like a canine Fozzie Bear, and not in a good way. This does not affect the score, and my opinion of the dog has nothing really to do with how I feel about the movie, but I just thought I’d let you know about the little factoid if you were curious.

In the end, “A Star Is Born” is awesome, and if you are planning on seeing this, don’t wait for streaming, don’t wait for the DVD, don’t wait for On Demand, go see it in the theater. I actually went to see this movie in Dolby Cinema at AMC, there were literally parts where I felt like I was in a concert. I have my gripes with the movie, but this movie certainly had enough to admire to the point where I consider it one of the better flicks I’ve seen this year. As far as Bradley Cooper as a director goes, I’d like to see more of his work, and given how he also has a screenplay credit for this movie, I’d like to see more from him in that field as well. I’m going to give “A Star is Born” an 8/10. Thanks for reading this review! Tomorrow I’m going out to see the new movie directed by Damien Chazelle, “First Man,” which is based on the events of the Apollo 11 mission. Be on the lookout for that. Sticking on that topic, I’m not sure, but depending on my work load this week and how I feel, I’m going to do an extra post related to “First Man” aside from the review. I’m not gonna give any details as to what it is, but please stay tuned. Speaking of things of to be on the lookout for, I am also going to have my analysis of my time at New York Comic Con, so stay tuned for that. Be sure to follow Scene Before with your WordPress account or email so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “A Star is Born?” What did you think about it? Or, just out of curiosity, not that it’s going to happen, but do you see Bradley Cooper potentially being able to direct “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?” Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Apollo 13 (1995): Houston, We Have a Movie Review

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Apologies for the slight delay on this review. My goal of this space movie review series is to do one new post in the series every Thursday. Although work (and fun) have gotten in the way, so you’re getting this on a Friday and for that, I apologize. Right now, “First Man” is in theaters everywhere, and I do have plans to review it (as long as I can get my “A Star Is Born” review up first). For those of you who are curious to know what “First Man” is about, it revolves around the moon landing and how Neil Armstrong and his family cope with the enormous difficulties of the Apollo 11 mission. Funny enough, that is not the only movie involving the moon landing I’ll be talking about this year. Another one goes by the name “Apollo 13.” Without further ado, let’s dive into the review!


“Apollo 13” is directed by Ron Howard and stars Tom Hanks (Big, Forrest Gump), Bill Paxton (Weird Science, Aliens), and Kevin Bacon (Footloose, Friday the 13th) as the trio of astronauts who go on a mission associated with the movie’s title. This is the seventh manned mission of Apollo and the third which involves an attempt to land on the moon. Based on true events, the three astronauts are onboard a ship which eventually faces damage, thus making the journey back home more difficult. It is up to NASA to help strategize a plan to get the trio back to Earth.

When it comes to the Apollo missions, the one that we mainly still talk about to this day is Apollo 11, which is getting covered in the upcoming movie, “First Man.” However another mission that got covered a while back, specifically 1995, in movie form was Apollo 13. As far as this movie goes for me. I first watched it in 2014 in a science class during eighth grade. I enjoyed the movie and thought it was a very compelling mission. I appreciated the space scenes, the music, and the launch sequence. Having watched it now, I’d probably say I MIGHT like it less than I did back then, but I still enjoyed it. In fact, now that I’m older, I feel like I paid a bit more attention to the dialogue, which probably felt a tad more compelling than it did when I was 14 years old.

When it comes to the music, this honestly feels like some of the most patriotic music I’ve ever heard in a movie. The main theme almost reminds me of a theme that used to be on CBS Evening News until getting rid of it in 2016. And I’ll be honest, that’s probably where this movie excels more than anywhere else. The music basically does the talking. It reminds you to pay attention. It sometimes give you a feeling that you need to silence yourself. At times it is almost eerie. When I watched this movie, one piece that can be heard almost reminded me of some of the last music you hear before the credits in “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” Looking at this movie now, I can totally see why they decided to put this music in, and it does symbolize how this mission is not just for the world to see, but just like the groundbreaking Apollo 11, it was for the United States to see.

Let’s talk about some of the performances in this film. I mean, you do have star power from folks like Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, and Kevin Bacon, but in reality their individual performances do not really make the film what it is. As a matter of fact, it’s their chemistry. It’s how they get along as a team and how they cooperate with each other in space. These three look like they get along with each other, they look like buds, and they also look like they are actually trying to help each other in a time of need. But I’ll be honest, the performance I’ll probably forever credit is Ed Harris (The Abyss, Jacknife) as Gene Kranz.

Gene Kranz is a guy who I occasionally still hear about today. He was part of the documentary “Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes of Apollo,” which I have reviewed on here. I have a friend who works for NASA who has met this fine gentleman. And I will say that my friend has also brought up his name every once in a while. When it comes to his portrayal in “Apollo 13,” my gosh. I f*cking loved it. Ed Harris literally knocked it out of the park when it comes to not only talking, but believe it or not, remaining silent. One thing I often think about when it comes to talented actors who go on to get nominated for Oscars is how they have that one moment where they just talk. The talking seems to stick out to a point where it stays in your head. It’s very compelling. But as I’ve learned from another movie this year, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” silence is a great gift. There is a moment in this movie, specifically towards the end, where we see Ed Harris say no words. If you have not seen this movie and decide to check it out one day, be sure to look out for that. By the way, Ed Harris was nominated an Academy Award for this performance and lost to Kevin SPACEYYYYOW! Gross! Get that away! Get out! Get out!

Speaking of mission control, the set for mission control was very well done. It felt rugged, the colors seem to be accurate, and the computers just scream like they are from the time frame which this movie takes place. Also, as far as your NASA employees go, they seem to fit the time frame as well. Nerdy, white males who could have potentially gotten kick me signs on their backs or atomic wedgies when they were in school. And to add a little extra nerdiness to the mix, I even noticed pocket protectors. As I was watching the movie I was just saying to myself that everyone resembled Lewis or Gilbert from “Revenge of the Nerds.” And now that I think about it, maybe George McFly from “Back to the Future.” Costume design and casting was very well done here.

One thing I do find interesting about this movie though is the PG rating. If this movie came out today it would probably be PG-13. I find it really interesting to see that a movie  with as much smoking and language as it has actually managed to get a PG rating. Then again, according to Wikipedia, smoking wasn’t really as big of a problem until 2007. It almost reminds me of “Back to the Future” which got a PG even though it has multiple utterances of the word s*it and some other vulgar language that parents wouldn’t want their kids to hear. I’ll say though for “Back to the Future,” PG-13 was a new concept back when it came out. When “Apollo 13” arrived it actually was a thing for a decade.

One of my favorite scenes of the movie, despite how Apollo 13 was a mission where the astronauts attempted to go to the moon and never made it, involves being on the moon. We cut to a scene where Tom Hanks’s character, Jim Lovell, is actually getting off a craft and envisioning himself walking on the moon. It’s almost sad looking at that. In a lot of movies, I imagine some people saying that they care about historical accuracy, and I’m with those people. Here though, I don’t want to know if Jim Lovell actually envisioned that. If that vision was fabricated, I don’t give a flying f*ck. That actually enhances the movie in so many ways. And in a way, it almost shows how dreams can slip away from you. Many boys dream of being an astronaut. Sorry, kid, lower your expectations.

Also, one more thing.


That’s a tradition in this series, so I might as well keep it going!

In the end, I don’t really have much to say about “Apollo 13,” but what I do have to say is that it is a watchable, enjoyable space flick based on a great story. “Apollo 13” is directed by Ron Howard, who also directed “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” which I suffered through this year. To those who must know, this movie truly showcases the talent of Ron Howard. Leave “Solo” in the dust! Overall, I think “Apollo 13” is a good movie, and I would say while it is the worst of the films I tackled in this review series, it is certainly worth watching. I’m going to give “Apollo 13” a 7/10. Thanks for reading this review! I hope you enjoyed this space movie review series, apologies for the delay once again. But at least I was able to get this out. Stay tuned for my review of “First Man.” I don’t think that’ll be up right away, but given how I am seemingly seeing it on Sunday, I’ll have my thoughts on it probably sometime next week. Be sure to follow me on Scene Before either through an email or WordPress account that way you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Apollo 13?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a dream you had as a kid that never became a reality? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Venom (2018): A Turd in the Wind

Tom Hardy in Venom (2018)

“Venom” is directed by Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland, 30 Minutes Or Less) and stars Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Mad Max: Fury Road) as Eddie Brock, a reporter who we as an audience discover is living his life in the city with his partner, but one thing leads to another and he loses everything that’s important to him. At the same time, a symbiote lands on Earth and starts taking over people. A lab got their hands on the material and now they want to do whatever they can with it in regards to experimentation. Also, for those of you who know the comic books, you’d know that Eddie Brock eventually becomes the violent, mind-controlling Venom.

Let me just start this review off by saying I did not want this movie to exist before it came out. My earliest memory of hearing about this movie got me worried just from the concept alone. I had a feeling that comic book movie fatigue was starting to kick in for me after the painfully disappointing “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” and I felt like it was a really weird idea for someone to do a movie revolving around someone many people would associate as technically being a comic book villain. Granted, this movie treats him as a protector (sort of, really an antihero), but still. Then I saw the first couple of trailers, they were, “alright,” but I still was not fully onboard. The trailer we got over the summer however was definitely the best of the bunch. It showed Venom as this dark, crazy being and it made me want more.

That trailer was a few minutes. This movie is around the two hour range. Two hours is certainly more than a few minutes. But more isn’t always better. In this case, more is f*cking worse. The good thing about trailers is that they usually are quick. You get tons of shots and information regarding an upcoming movie in a short amount of time. It’s hard to say one can actually get bored by a trailer. This movie, to me at times, reminded me of “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” It’s a movie that takes a profitable or popular IP that nobody asked for, nobody wanted, but the studio is going to poop out anyway. Then again, based on what I’ve been hearing going into both movies, I think more people wanted “Venom” than “Solo.” Although unfortunately, I actually had a crapton more fun with “Solo.” You want to know how much fun I had for “Solo?” Well, when I saw the movie, I CLAPPED. Yes, I gave it a barely passable grade of 6/10. Here, I just questioned whatever was happening on screen.

In fact, you want to know how much I hate “Venom?” Here’s a tweet I recently posted.

If you didn’t already know, I actually reviewed “Spider-Man 3” and I managed to give it a 7/10. I will probably say that falls into the hot take category because a lot of people hate “Spider-Man 3” but in all seriousness, this movie just felt like it was an excuse for Sony to make a movie with “Spider-Man” characters that aren’t Spider-Man. At least there were some attempts of passion to potentially be put in “Spider-Man 3.” Granted, the attempts at putting Venom in the movie weren’t that way, but at least I had a reason to care about the people on screen. Here in “Venom,” I was bored, irritated, and just wanted to leave. And this is a weird complaint, but this movie felt like it was too fast. I say that most likely because it has barely any “Venom” in it. Maybe that’s an illusion, but that’s the way this movie felt to me. You get a lot of focus towards Eddie Brock, the human, to the point where I consider despite how this movie is actually called “VENOM,” it has a tad less of that character than I’d probably prefer. It’s the “Transformers” all over again! Granted, I will say, what we do get of the Venom character in this movie is a positive.

Some of the best scenes with Venom include him in a fight between the movie’s main villain (I won’t get into it), Venom calling Eddie a pussy for not jumping from a super high distance to the ground instead of taking an elevator, and one scene at the end that we saw in the trailer. And I will say, the voice work for Venom technically qualifies as my personal favorite performance in the entire film. I say that because when I compare the voice work to literally everything else, including Eddie Brock himself, everything else was just cringeworthy. While the character for Eddie Brock was well established, not only did I avoid caring about him, performance-wise, this might be the worst Tom Hardy performance I’ve ever seen. So many lines just feel like they’re processed by Hardy himself or they were written in the first draft. I can seriously imagine this movie had a first draft that sucked balls but because Sony wanted money sooner than later, they just let the first draft fly. It’s “Venom,” not “Spider-Man!” Who f*cking cares?! I don’t know who to really blame here! I want to blame the director. I want to blame the actor. I want to blame the writers.

“Venom” was written by three people and one of them probably wrote this movie because they have a good relationship with Sony. This writer in particular has written other Sony projects including “The Dark Tower,” “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” “The Fifth Wave,” and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” By the way, those last two films, I reviewed those and the highest grade I gave to one of those movies is a 3/10. Another writer worked on “Kangaroo Jack,” which I heard was horrible. The third writer worked on “Fifty Shades of Grey” so when you add this all up, you get one word. S*it.

Speaking of writing, another problem with it from my personal view can also translate to the directorial vision of the film as well. You know, if there even is a vision with this uninspired garbage. A lot of people wanted this film to be rated R. Having seen “Venom,” I understand why. While this film has some scary elements intact, it feels a lot more comedic than it should be. The director has done some work in the past involving comedies, and I feel like the comedic vision of the film when combining the writing and directing just make this film something it really shouldn’t have been. “Venom” should have been dark, it should have been gritty. “Venom” is PG-13, and admittedly, you can get away with some stuff in a PG-13 film. But this film probably would have been better if it actually didn’t cut away from certain violent happenings and show us more close-up action. “Venom” is throwing people around, eating them, and I didn’t see that much of it. F*cking stupid if you ask me! Although in the UK, “Venom” managed to get a 15 rating. I’m willing to bet it got a rating that high because the movie had a headbutt.

There are probably multiple reasons why “Venom” could have been kept at a PG-13. For one thing, “Venom” was in “Spider-Man 3” and that was PG-13. And speaking of “Spider-Man,” one wonder in my head is whether or not Sony plans to put Venom into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After all, Spider-Man, whose movie rights are owned by Sony, is currently under a deal where the character can appear in the MCU, which is run by Disney. Sony probably wants to get kids into the theater and if they succeed, this only increases their chances of Venomizing the MCU.

Also, reason #3, money. If you want to bring in the money, bring in the kids.

I’ll be honest with you, if comic book movies weren’t a priority to me for movie reviewing purposes, I would have probably gone out to see “Venom” maybe not right away, but maybe later on if it were PG-13. But if it were rated R, I would have probably gone to see it sooner.


In fact, the more I hear about “Venom,” the more I realize Sony has just about no faith in it whatsoever. For one thing, most of the movie’s screenings occurred on the week of the film’s release, the film was met with poor reviews from critics, and the review embargo was not that far from the release of the movie. Without going into spoilers, they play a clip of one of their upcoming films in the end credits. And you know something? This isn’t a minute, it’s more like a few or four minutes! It just basically says, “Hey, our film sucks! If you were patient enough to stick around for all of this time, we have a special treat for you! Check out this amazing footage to one of our upcoming movies!” I know some of you might be thinking, “Hey, Jackass! Don’t people like you praise Marvel Studios for their end credit scenes?” Again, those don’t last nearly as long, and they stay in their own universe. This promotes a movie in an entirely different universe. It’s just s*itty!

Speaking of the credits, there was also a mid-credits scene. This one however managed to stay in the same universe. Without going into detail, I gotta say, it kind of reminded me of “The Amazing Spider-Man” because it takes place in a prison. It just goes to show that maybe these Spidey-related films are probably more processed than maybe we’d all realize. Also, I mentioned that one of the writers for this movie worked on “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” I am someone who loves “Spider-Man,” and the fact that one of the writers from one of the worst “Spider-Man” movies and perhaps one of the all-time most abysmal comic-book movies came back to work on “Venom” just makes me angry. We’re seeing ideas that have been done before, and maybe even done better.

Wayne Pére, Riz Ahmed, Jenny Slate, and Sope Aluko in Venom (2018)

Speaking of horrible, let’s talk about the antagonist. His name is Carlton Drake and he’s played by Riz Ahmed. If there were a word to describe this guy, I’d say it would be “ass.” While his presence on screen could have been worse, there are so many moments where I look back and he comes off as this processed, cliche bad guy who we eventually find out does cliche bad guy things. Not to mention, there’s one moment where we see this character staring at the symbiote and he refers to it as “beautiful.” The way that line comes off is cringeworthy. Actually, I take that back because cringeworthy is too much of a compliment. Instead, that line is an abomination.

Tom Hardy and Scott Haze in Venom (2018)

Let’s also talk about the action here. I recently mentioned this movie is PG-13, I wanted it to be rated R, yada-yada-yada. One reason I wanted an R rating is because of how the movie was shot, directed, and edited. This actually feels like it could have been done better by a high-schooler. I feel like that’s a good comparison because the action here just feels standard and conventional. At least when you’re younger, you probably have a tendency to think outside the box. Just think of those mind games where you have to, say, I don’t know, put a giraffe in a refrigerator or something. Maybe the high schooler’s action looks cheap, but at least it’s stylistic. The action easily felt like it could be compared to scenes in movies like “Skyscraper” or something. Nothing felt raw, or at the very least, intriguing.

“Deadpool” is rated R, and a phrase often associated with the character is “maximum effort.” This PG-13 pile of garbage? It doesn’t feel that way! And sticking with the rating idea, I will admit that some people I come across on the Internet would call this film cheesy. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. Cheesy doesn’t always mean bad. “Power Rangers” is cheesy and a lot of kids enjoy it. “Big Trouble in Little China” is probably the epitome of cheesy and it’s tons of fun. “The Meg” is a summertime blockbuster that is clearly meant to just be a good time while still being somewhat packed with cheesy humor. It’s all good. There was cringe in this movie, involving directing, acting, and writing that made me take my eyes off the screen and turn my head as I placed my hand there. Part of me couldn’t even believe what I was watching. I wanted this to be dark. Venom is not a comical inner voice. Venom is in fact, essentially a monster that eats people. I know that the MCU seems to be succeeding in terms of delivering effective movies with humorous scripts, but not every comic book movie has to have tons of humor. This is why you have “V For Vendetta.” This is why you have “Batman Begins.” This is why you have “Man of Steel.” They say that laughter is the best medicine, but at this point laughter might as well be a drug and when it comes to “Venom,” I seemed to acquire the drug from somebody else and it wasn’t prescribed to me. Not to mention, this movie released in October, and given how everyone is getting into the Halloween spirit, this movie could have gotten a chance to fall more into the horror genre than perhaps the action genre. There are disturbing elements intact, but the shock value from bloodier and more violent scenes that can be triggered from an R rating can definitely contribute to being associated with horror. Then again, when you’re competing against horror films left and right along with some films made for awards season, I guess being a conventional comic book-based flick can make you stand out in the crowd.

Did I want “Venom” to be the next “Dark Knight?” Not really. In fact, that movie is PG-13 so that also partially contributes to my thoughts. I was not expecting “Dark Knight” material from “Venom,” I was expecting crap the whole time, and I turned out to have my expectations met. Over time, I have thought to myself that maybe comic book villains could get their own movies. The more I hear about the Joaquin Phoenix “Joker” film, the more excited I get. “Deadpool” is technically not really a hero, but he does have some motivation behind him to do as he sees fit which makes him an intriguing main character. The way they handled “Venom” is the same way I’d probably handle parenting. They dropped the movie on its soft spot.

Tom Hardy in Venom (2018)

I will give credit though where it is due, Tom Hardy has had his fair share of roles where he had to play a character in a mask. Out of all of them, this was by far the easiest to understand.

Tom Hardy in Venom (2018)

In the end, I sucked all the “Venom” out out of a snake. In case you haven’t figured it out, this movie made me stupider. How often does one say they would rather watch “Spider-Man 3” as opposed to another movie they can pick from their collection? This movie just gets so much worse the more I think about it. Upon leaving the theater, I thought the movie sucked. A few days later, I think it sucks balls. If you like cheesiness, I wouldn’t say you should shy away from this movie, but for me, this was too light. In fact, Sony is seemingly planning to release a sequel I GUESS by the end of 2020, but if that’s the case, I am not looking forward to it. As of right now, I gotta be honest. This is the worst movie I’ve seen done in live-action that has some sort of relation to the “Spider-Man” franchise. IT’S THAT HORRIBLE. I’m going to give “Venom” a 2/10. I was across the board as this film progressed. Maybe it’s a 5/10, maybe a generous 6/10, perhaps a 4/10. This movie is honestly getting the poor grade it deserves. It feels like a corporate studio effort (or lack thereof) to cash-in on “Spider-Man” and get some hardcore fans in the theater because this interpretation of “Venom” could potentially be better than “Spider-Man 3.” It’s as if the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has generated $17.5 billion dollars thus far, is the latest fashion trend and “Venom” is the latest thing to enter such a craze going off the MCU’s heels because it’s gonna make money. At the end of the day, movies are not all about trends or making something to just keep business going. They are an art form, and certain comic book movies have fallen into a category that makes them artistic. “Venom” is just not one of them.

Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I’ll have my review up for “A Star Is Born,” which I can assure you all is a hell lot better than this movie. “Venom” may have crushed the weekend, but “A Star Is Born” dominated in just about every other way. Speaking of movie reviews, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get this out on time, but I do have plans to review “Apollo 13.” I already did a couple reviews in my space movie review series, both of which I enjoyed making. I would love to make a review for “Apollo 13,” but the fact is, I don’t know if I will be able to put it out on time. I have some things on my plate regarding these next couple of days, I have to deal with school, and this may be a weird thing to say, but I need to relax. I just got back from New York Comic Con, I have to do a post on that, and I took somewhere past 70,000 steps over the weekend. MY LEGS ARE KILLING ME. Nevertheless, be sure to follow me here on Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Venom?” What did you think about it? Or, who is your favorite “Spider-Man” villain? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018): I Believe in Magic 8-Balls


“The House with a Clock in Its Walls” is directed Eli Roth (Death Wish, Cabin Fever) and stars Jack Black (Kung Fu Panda, Goosebumps), Cate Blanchett (Thor: Ragnarok, How to Train Your Dragon 2), and Owen Vaccaro (Daddy’s Home, Mother’s Day) as a young orphan named Lewis meets up with his charismatic uncle Jonathan. This uncle happens to be a warlock who lives with an elderly witch by the name of Florence Zimmerman. Together, they are all living in the same house that is said to be haunted. Throughout the movie, Jonathan is trying to get rid of a clock through magic in order to preserve the world.

“The House with a Clock in Its Walls” is one of those films I just didn’t know much about before going to see it. I remember seeing one trailer for it in the movie theater. And in all honesty, the first time I even heard about this was when the film was doing advance screenings. Then again, I live 30 minutes from Boston and Eli Roth, the director behind this film, actually was born around the area. So I don’t know what other areas happened to be doing regarding this film, but I remember getting some alerts for screenings going back as far late August. Although I must say, the screenings were far ahead of when I was alerted of them. The screenings actually happened to be on the week when the movie actually released. Guess Universal didn’t have too much faith in this film. Most of the marketing I saw came towards the time before the movie went into theaters.

I have to say though, despite some apprehension with the marketing, “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” is a fun time! I’d say it’s a decent flick for kids and adults alike. It doesn’t treat people like idiots (for the most part, because it is apparent these days that you can’t have a kids movie without poop jokes). The biggest praises I can give to this movie is the lovable chemistry between the characters. Some highlights include Jack Black and Cate Blanchett, who play off each other calling each other rude names. The gag increasingly dies down as the movie goes on, which is kind of unfortunate considering once I first witnessed this, it was one of the best parts of the movie.

As far as the kid goes in this movie, his name is Owen Vaccaro. I wouldn’t go ahead and call Vaccaro the next great child actor, who is gonna go onto win Oscars one day. I mean, he could, but his name probably wouldn’t be as prominent. It’s not like I’m witnessing another Jacob Tremblay (Room, Wonder) or Macaulay Culkin (Home Alone, My Girl). However, Vaccaro’s performance serves both the character and the movie very well. His character, known by the name of Lewis Barnavalt, is pretty much a wiz. He reminds me of a more humanized version of Mindy Kaling’s character from “A Wrinkle in Time.” I’m not saying he often quotes other people, particularly those who happen to be famous and have perhaps above average intelligence, but he does seem to have some abnormalities to him. He often looks in a dictionary, and I mean that in a way that technically qualifies as a hobby. In fact, what makes this kid weird, is kind of what this movie tries to teach people. It’s similar to other lessons that may have been provided in children’s films before, but it doesn’t mean the film fails on trying to emphasize such a lesson.

While the kid may be weird, the character played by Jack Black is just plain crazy. He almost reminds me of a mad scientist in some ways because he doesn’t seem to believe in the concept of sleep. So in a way, I guess you can say I can relate to this character. The character’s name is Jonathan Barnavalt and he is a warlock. Jack Black is probably my favorite character in the movie, and perhaps the one that kids might want to emulate the most. For one thing, his house has one rule (don’t open a particular cabinet), but other than that, there are literally no rules. He’s enthusiastic, hyperactive, and it adds up to make him rather charming.

As for Cate Blanchett, her character goes by the name of Florence Zimmerman. Out of everyone in the movie, she wasn’t my favorite character. She was pretty close, but Jack Black takes the cake. But the thing is, I literally had no idea I was even witnessing Cate Blanchett in this movie. So out of everyone in the movie, I’d say this character was the most well performed. Maybe it’s because I didn’t really know Cate Blanchett was going to be in this film and I knew Jack Black was. Plus the film reminded me of “Goosebumps,” which also had Jack Black as a character with some similarities to his character in this movie. I’ve seen Cate Blanchett in some films before like “Lord of the Rings,” “Thor: Ragnarok,” and “How to Train Your Dragon 2.” I’m somewhat surprised that I wasn’t really able to discern Cate Blanchett because to me she seems to have one of those voices you can easily pick out. But you also have to consider how Cate Blanchett looks in this movie compared to how she does off screen. Even so, I feel like Cate Blanchett embodied this character well and it just goes to show one actor can truly slip over your head sometimes. I am not saying Cate Blanchett’s performance is gonna get her an Oscar nomination, maybe at best she’ll be recognized for a Saturn Award, but I’m not sure.

But in all reality, what makes this film so interesting to me is the vibe and the spirit of the film itself. This film is in the fantasy genre, and it’s particularly aimed at families. I will have you know that when I was actually at the theater to watch this movie, I was the only customer in attendance. “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” manages to balance humor, story, and character development very effectively. In fact, in some ways, I guess you can also say this is a horror movie as well. One reviewer on YouTube by the name of Chris Stuckmann actually went to see this movie, and somebody told him that children walked out of the theater early because they were scared. When I saw his review, it reminded me of how I studied something scary from a childhood show I watched. I’m not sure what it was, but it was probably from a show on PBS or something. I could understand why some children would walk out. Comparing this film to “Goosebumps” once more, there are some light scares that almost seem like scares that fall into the “playing safe” category, but then there’s one scene that stood out to me as I watched it and almost reminded me of what I “must” have witnessed as a kid. If you like horror, I wouldn’t say to go out of your way and watch this movie. This isn’t like you’re watching “A Quiet Place” or something. But if you want to have fun and escape reality, “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” is for you.

In the end, “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” is a fine fantasy film that probably won’t be remembered throughout time, but it is certainly good for a watch. It’s intriguing, occasionally suspenseful, funny, and perhaps the most effective commercial for the Magic 8-Ball that I’ve seen since maybe “Angels in the Outfield.” Would I buy the movie on Blu-ray? Probably not. If it were used and available for a decent price maybe I’d put my hands on it. However I am proud to say that my recent viewing of this film was not a waste of time. I’m gonna give “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” a 7/10. Thanks for reading this review. Be sure to stay tuned for my review of “Apollo 13,” which will be up on October 11th (hopefully). This will be my last space movie review before I make the trek to see “First Man,” so be sure to check that out. Also, be sure to check out my eventual reviews for “Venom” and “A Star Is Born.” One more thing, I just got back from New York Comic Con, and I’ve got a bit to talk about regarding that, so look forward to my review on that sometime soon! Be sure to follow Scene Before with a WordPress account or email so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “The House with a Clock in Its Walls?” What did you think about it? Or, given how this film is directed by Eli Roth, what is your favorite film Eli Roth was involved in? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Gravity (2013): Life in Space Is Impossible

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Some of you may be aware that I am currently doing a series of reviews which involve space movies. Last week I did my review for “2001: A Space Odyssey.” I’m pretty sure I HAVE NOT talked about the movie before. LOL. Now it is time for my second entry in the series. After this week, I will be tackling another space movie, which is all being done in preparation for the upcoming Damien Chazelle directed “First Man.” This movie is going to release on October 12th everywhere in 2D and IMAX so look around for your local showtimes regarding the film. As for the movie we’re going to be talking about today, that is going to be the 2013 flick “Gravity.” In fact, coincidentally, this review is being brought to you EXACTLY FIVE YEARS AFTER “GRAVITY” CAME OUT IN THEATERS EVERYWHERE. Therefore, this review feels very fitting. Without further ado, let’s blast off, and get going with the review!


“Gravity” was directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men), stars Sandra Bullock (The Proposal, The Heat) alongside George Clooney (The American, Batman & Robin) and revolves around a girl by the name of Ryan Stone (Bullock). She is in space working with Matt Kowalski (Clooney) when all of sudden their mission doesn’t go according to plan. A bunch of debris coming towards them causes a separation in crew members, and now it is up to Kowalski and Stone to survive together in space.

Now this is the start of the review so I might as well set the mood.




Aside from the Warner Brothers logo which happens to introduce the movie, this is the first thing that can be seen on screen regarding “Gravity.” There are many introductions to a movie that can either remind you what you’re in for or get you excited for what’s to come. This one succeeds at both tasks. The rise in the music, the black screen, and the fades of the text. All of these remind you that you’re in for a ride. You have to strap yourself in. Many bumps are ahead. There’s even some sounds in the background that might as well associate with what a disaster in space would end up being.

Then… you cut to…


Much like the space shots in the last movie I reviewed, specifically “2001: A Space Odyssey,” pretty much all of them are insanely gorgeous. I will probably give the 1 up to “2001” over “Gravity” when it comes to space shots based on what it is shot on and how they actually crafted everything in space as supposed to using CGI (you can’t really do that in 1968), but given how realistic the CGI looks in this movie, I am almost convinced at times that this actually is space. I had a conversation with a companion months after this movie came out where she uttered this movie is basically “all visual effects.” She’s right. The amount of effective green screen used in “Gravity” actually blows my mind. It’s almost like we’re witnessing “Jurassic Park” in space. I say that because “Gravity,” like “Jurassic Park” relies heavily on CGI and the way they’ve executed visual effects in both movies just feel like they can blow your mind out of the water.

Speaking of shots, this movie came out in 2013, and as far as movies released that year go, this one won Best Cinematography at the Academy Awards. And holy crap this movie deserves it. Let’s talk about some of the unique shots in “Gravity.” When it comes to “Gravity,” the first shot I think of is actually the earliest one we see in the film. We see Earth, and a spacecraft is coming in. We also get to see our characters. If you have never seen this movie, this is probably gonna get you to want to check this movie out. That shot goes on for somewhere around ten minutes! Can you imagine how much rehearsing went into that shot? Can you imagine how much preparation the director and people behind the camera had to go through? I wonder what the storyboards must have been like!

Another cool shot is one that is pretty much reminiscent of a first-person game. And I mean that literally, they have FIRST-PERSON shots in this movie. There’s one in the middle of the film that has Ryan Stone trying to get into the International Space Station and as she opens the door to get inside, you can get a view into her helmet just before the door flies as she tugs onto it.

Take that, “Hardcore Henry!” You stole “Gravity’s” idea! I’ve seen this movie in IMAX, and as I reflect on what this movie has, it just makes me want to create a petition to rerelease this film in the format so I can experience shots like the ones I mentioned in such an immersive way.

Going back to visual effects, we need to talk about 3D. There are VERY few movies that I think have been worth the extra money for 3D. Some include “The Hobbit” trilogy, “Mad Max: Fury Road,” and f*ck it, even the stupid “Ghostbusters” remake. Gotta give it credit for something, ya know. “Gravity” is also in such a category. You have many scenes where debris and characters are flying everywhere and it’s all just a visual spectacle to the face. It’s like you’re in space and you’re constantly getting hit in the head with debris! Only thing is you’re much more likely to survive because in all practicality you might as well be Dominic Toretto from “Fast & Furious.”

I can’t wait for “Fast & Furious” in space. It’s gonna be great.

One of the most immersive scenes in the movie comes from when Ryan Stone changes spacesuits and is outside the ISS. More debris is incoming, and all of a sudden, the ISS is doomed. You’re seeing bits and pieces flying everywhere and it is just like going on a ride at Universal. While Ryan Stone is certainly in danger, you feel like you’re in danger as well. I also love the line given by Ryan after she is free from any more suffering in this incident.

“I hate space.”

One of the main characters in “Gravity” is played by George Clooney. His name is Matt Kowalski, and he seems to have a knack for telling stories. As I watched this movie, I noticed that when the mood seems to be light, he would tell a story, maybe it is one the characters have heard before. If not, he tells one that has a similar vibe or structure to it.

Another main character, and I’m talking about someone who is technically THE main character is Sandra Bullock’s Ryan Stone. Talk about one of the best established characters of the decade. She starts off this movie as a seemingly normal character and then you get into her backstory. It’s almost like watching a Pixar movie that doesn’t really gear itself towards children. I mean, HER KID DIED. All she does when she isn’t in space, is go to work and drive. That’s gotta be the most boring life imaginable. I mean, she doesn’t clean McDonald’s restrooms, but even so. Given her backstory and the fact that she is TRULY pulling through, it just makes you root for the character that much more.

I gotta say though, when it comes to the end, that’s where this movie falls flat. This film is an hour and thirty-one minutes, but I don’t know how to feel about the ending. Without going into spoilers, it’s not an out of place ending, but I don’t know, I kind of wanted to see more than just what we got. Also, speaking of out of place, there’s a song that you can hear at the end of the movie and the credits, one of the weirdest song choices in movie history.

Also, regarding out of place stuff that I won’t really spoil, George Clooney’s character does something towards the end of the movie that really, honestly, makes zero sense. If you want to get technical with me, I might even say there are two things. I don’t even know, it just feels out of place. If anything, I could say it might be associated with an illusion or some sort of vision, maybe symbolism, it just makes the movie feel very strange and I just don’t understand why he would be doing what he’s doing.

Now it is time to get…


I’ll be honest with you, I don’t do work with rockets, I have no scientific background in anything related to space, I don’t work for NASA. My friend does, but she’s busy doing her own thing, so no, I didn’t ask her to help me out with this post. And you know what? I’d probably do a fine job noting some inaccuracies that can be seen in “Gravity,” but the fact is, I’d really be taking the words out of someone’s mouth. To be specific, the words of Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

Some of you might remember the pointing out of scientific inaccuracies since early on in this movie’s release. But one of the more notable bits when it comes to that is from Tyson. He went on Twitter and had a few things to say.

Again, it’s nitpicky, it’s not like we have everybody in the world going around saying the same thing as this guy. Maybe some people would complain about the single-dimension of George Clooney or the cheesy lines that occasionally pop up. But at the same time, science is something that I’m willing to bet a number of filmmakers want to get right in their movies. If your movie has something that maybe in the screenplay was written to be completely compelling, but on screen has the most glaring scientific flaw, some people might point out the scientific flaw as opposed to what makes the scene a thing of beauty. In fact, you know that friend at NASA I was talking about? Even she sometimes says that Hollywood and science don’t always mix and she is not into that sort of thing.

And for those of you who think Dr. Tyson hated “Gravity…”

And this is something that can be taken seriously. While you can certainly enjoy a movie for what it is, there is certainly no shame in pointing out problems, even if they are nitpicky. After all, the more accurate the science is in the movie, the more I might end up enjoying it. “Gravity,” according to my memory, might as well be the first movie where I didn’t exactly question the science on screen, but it had me realizing that when it comes to science, not everything was perfect. In that sort of way, this movie is kind of special to me. How often can you say you remember a movie for its flaws? OK, well, more than you think, I still remember “The Emoji Movie.” But at least these flaws aren’t game-breaking.

In the end, “Gravity” is scary, it’s suspenseful, it’s what you can totally ask for in a space disaster film. To this day it is by far one of the most immersive movies I’ve ever seen. Some of the camerawork is not only masterful, but just so brilliant that it basically changes the game of how future movies could be made. And it did in a way if you think about it given how “Hardcore Henry” took the first-person concept and made an entire movie out of it. I could be wrong. Maybe video games were a bigger inspiration, I don’t know for sure. But if “Gravity” was bigger, cool. Not to mention, “Hardcore Henry” uses GoPro as its source of cinematography whereas this movie’s main source happens to be Arri Alexas. Like Dr. Tyson, I enjoyed this movie very much and I’m going to give “Gravity” an 8/10. While this movie does have some problems, what really gives “Gravity” the 8 mark for me is the journey of watching this film. Our main hero who is just trying to survive is definitely one of the more compelling characters I’ve come across over the past few years. The sound work done in this film is scary as s*it. The visual effects feel like in a way that they may be somewhat groundbreaking, or in some cases, International Space Station breaking. And the cinematography is just so brilliantly done.


Thanks for reading this review! Next week will be my final installment in my space movie review series in preparation for “First Man.” Just a reminder, “First Man” is in theaters everywhere on October 12th, but the day before I will have my review up for “Apollo 13.” I’ll be honest with you, and I’ll let you guys know in advance, I’m not sure how this review will turn out. I’m not saying it’s gonna suck. In fact, if I knew it was gonna suck, I’d scrap the review altogether. But compared to this movie and the other one I’ve reviewed in this series, “2001,” “Apollo 13” just happens to be a film I don’t have as much experience with. I will say one thing I’ve noticed with reviews for older movies is if I know the movie, I put more detail into the review. In my Tom Cruise series, I barely put anything into my review for “The Firm” because my review for it was composed after my first viewing whereas “Risky Business” was something I not only seen before but also happened to have a deep passion towards. My “Firm” review ended up at over 1800 words and my “Risky Business” review ended up at over 3400 words. Then again, it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. And I may be underestimating myself. I have seen “Apollo 13,” but it’s been years and I only deeply remember various parts. Plus I’m going to New York this weekend and I haven’t even watched the movie yet. Maybe I’ll watch it, go to sleep, wake up, and start my review on the train ride to New York, I dunno.

Speaking of New York, be sure to stay tuned for my thoughts on this year’s New York Comic Con! I will be going to the con on Friday and Sunday. I do have Columbus Day off, so if I have time, maybe I’ll use it reviewing the con and telling you what I purchased there. For those of you who want to see more of my work, be sure to follow Scene Before with a WordPress account or an email so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Gravity?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your personal worst scientific inaccuracy you’ve ever seen in a movie? Doesn’t even have to be scientific, maybe history-related. Your choice. You have the power.

Only you can control your future. -Dr. Seuss

Scene Before is your click to the flicks!