Ready or Not (2019): The Greatest Hide and Seek Story Ever Told

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“Ready or Not” is directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, who worked together on projects including “V/H/S” and “Devil’s Due.” This film stars Samara Weaving (SMILF, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Adam Brody (Jennifer’s Body, The O.C.), Mark O’Brien (Republic of Doyle, Halt and Catch Fire), Henry Czerny (Mission: Impossible, Revenge), and Andie MacDowell (Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Jane by Design) in a film where a woman gets married, has a traditional wedding where everyone gathers together, the couple gives their vows, kiss, all the basics. But that’s not the important part of joining the family according to the side of the groom. Why? Because it is tradition for the family to play a game starting at midnight. As seen in previews and as somewhat suggested by the title, everyone is playing hide and seek. Samara Weaving’s character has to hide as everyone tries to find her, but if you have seen the trailers and heard much about this film, you’d know it’s not the normal game as one may expect. Instead of a pleasant game where everyone frolics around looking for the hiding individual, there is a sinister element involved.

“Ready or Not,” to my knowledge, is a movie that I did not hear much about until a couple months ago when the first trailer came out. But as soon as it came online and was brought to my attention, there was nothing I could do except watch it, which eventually led to me raving about it.

Take everything I have said about this seriously, because the trailer to this film just kills. Even if I never saw the actual film, I would at least recommend the trailer. If you know me in real life, then you must have known my excitement regarding the fact that the movie had a pre-release screening in Boston the day before it came out. I took advantage of the opportunity, scored myself two passes through a reservation online, invited my dad to tag along, and we hit the road!

And I’ll tell you what guys, this is a film that I was highly anticipating. Kind of like how I had massive expectations for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” recently. As far 2019 goes, “Ready or Not” was definitely one of my most anticipated films. There are a lot of instances where people set their expectations high and end up disappointed. Granted, my expectations for “Ready or Not” were not as high as some other films I have seen throughout my life, but as far as this year goes, my hype levels were astronomically high. Although I recently rewatched the trailer, because again, it’s awesome, and I read the comments, and everyone feels as if the movie reveals too much in its trailer. I won’t entirely say whether or not it does because it is not even out yet (except one element in just a moment), but holy crap! I think we may have my favorite film of the year so far!

As I type this review, I cannot tell a lie. My head is still f*cking spinning after what I just saw. This film is a combination of a dark comedy and horror, and it feels like it knows it wants to be that way. It meshes both genres together and creates a spectacular birthchild if you will. It’s not a film that gets confused about its own identity in the same way that a stereotypical middle-schooler would. The best way I can describe this film is referencing Pixar’s “Ratatouille.” You know that scene from “Ratatouille” where Remy takes a bite of one thing, takes a bite of another thing? Both have their own theme music, only to lead to a bite of both things at once which leads to an absurdly upbeat theme that lasts for a few seconds? That’s the best way I can describe “Ready or Not.” It’s hilarious and scary in the best ways possible. I know I said I won’t mention whether or not this movie’s trailer reveals too much, but one thing that I can say is that the trailer contains a number of the movie’s funny parts. This isn’t to say that the movie isn’t funny, but that is something to point out for those who are perhaps coming in for the comedy. It also does not mean that there are not any funny moments not shown in the trailer. I won’t go into detail about them, but this movie has more hilarity than what has already been exposed to most of the public.

In fact, one reason why this movie works so well is the characters. Samara Weaving plays the main character of Grace who I just plain adored. She was performed very well, had incredible charisma, and I bought into the relationship between her and the husband. By the way, the husband’s name is Alex Le Domas and he’s portrayed by Mark O’Brien. To me, Alex is probably one of the most out of field characters I have witnessed on screen this year, and I don’t mean that in a terrible way. His actions intrigued me, and his character went in multiple unexpected directions that made the movie lovable from my perspective. I won’t go into any of them, but I want to give the writers every ounce of credit possible for how they wrote him. When it comes to everyone else, my biggest salutes have to go to Henry Czerny (Tony), Kristian Bruun (Fitch), and Nicky Guadagni as the incredible Aunt Nadine. This lady is always either unhappy or crazy, and the actress portraying her manages to play the role with both traits at a level of absolute excellence. Even though her character is not the most prominent in the film, any screentime with her is a breath of fresh air.

And this film in some ways, reminds me of a film like “Avengers: Infinity War” because while I was not exactly rooting for the antagonistic side, I could see why they were doing what they were doing, and I could believe it or not, side with them. They have to find Grace, perform a ritual, and kill her. And they say that if they don’t do it before dawn, they’re all dead. So in reality, taking the standpoint of the protagonist (survival), or the standpoint of the antagonists (kill or be killed), if one side were to die in this situation, they would absolutely feel like they are doing the right thing for their own good. Not to mention in a way that makes them feel better about themselves. Granted, it’s a movie in a somewhat realistic and slightly intimidating setting for an adult audience, so I wouldn’t expect the antagonistic side to just be “a bad guy doing bad guy things,” but even with that in mind, the way this film plays out the rivalry and their motivations makes the screenplay completely worthy of my admiration. And even though I was able to feel bad at times for the antagonistic side even if their motivation seemed like it involved something that only they would believe, it does not change the fact that for just about every second I was rooting for Grace to run, hide, escape, just let this game of f*ckery come to an end. By the way, people die in this movie and when the deaths arrive, they are occasionally bonkers. You have to see them to believe them, they are masterpieces of darkness.

When it comes to other standouts, I really like the house this movie was shot in. This allowed for some noteworthy set and production design, a ton of dark rooms to highlight what kind of movie we were in for, and specifically for this film, a ton of reasons to intensify a simple game of hide and seek. I also think this film may have a shot during awards season at getting some costume design nominations. There are tons of outfits in the film that suit the characters well and are also impressively designed. I also really like how the film manages to elevate such a simple game traditionally played by children. If you told me five years ago that we’d be getting a movie with an intense hide and seek match, I don’t know what I would have thought, but I probably would have asked for something else. But having seen the trailer for this movie two months ago, I became interested. That interest was strong enough to make me go out and see it. Having seen it, I cannot help but endlessly recommend it.

One last thing I’ll say is this. The final moments in this film are as masterful as air conditioning on extremely hot days. There is a line that I won’t go into during the final three to five minutes of the film, but that line made me pull myself back in my seat, drop my jaw in shock, and place my hand on my head in utter disbelief. I don’t mean that in a bad way, in fact, the exact opposite. I was floored to the point where I went from really liking this movie to wanting to see it again at full price. Let me just remind you that this is a year of fantastic endings. We’ve had films like “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” which to this day is the only film to flat out make me cry in a cinema. Then came “Avengers: Endgame,” which not only had a geek wet dream come to life, but a satisfying finale to over 20 films that came before it. And just a few weeks ago we had “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” which… simply put, is a f*ckstravaganza of madness. Now we have “Ready or Not,” which has an ending that is as wild as it is satisfying. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” has the advantage of having the better climax and ending, but this film’s ending elevated its final verdict to me and if you ask me, “Ready or Not” as a film, to me, is better than “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

In the end, don’t hide, just RUN to the theater to go see “Ready or Not.” It’s a unique concept, has likable characters, and has an impressive amount of bloody violence to keep my eyes towards the screen. This film is from Fox Searchlight, a studio that happens to be a major contributor to many of the awards-type pictures that have come out in recent years. Will this movie be one of them? I don’t know, it’s possible, but it’s still August so I cannot exactly confirm that will be the case. Although many awards outlets are not that friendly to horror flicks so there’s a good chance “Ready or Not” may be ignored. But I will remind you, in Disney’s recent acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s assets, this is one part that they now can claim as their own. And movies like these are what I hope to continue to see from Disney with their new Fox additions. Movies that are compelling, original, and in the case of Fox Searchlight, small. Disney has recently exterminated Fox 2000, which is a sad move from my perspective, but if they eradicate or shrink the relevance of Fox Searchlight, that would be an even bigger mistake, and films like “Ready or Not” are why. This is a film that I want to see again, buy on Blu-ray, and this should not surprise you right now, I’m going to give “Ready or Not” a 10/10! Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that I just recently went to Terrificon over a week ago, I am currently working on a post related to my experience of the event, and I don’t know for sure, but I’m hoping it is up by the end of the week. Only time will tell though! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! If you are hiding from the real world and spending your days in the virtual universe of the Internet, I don’t know what you are doing, but who knows? Maybe you have Facebook. And if you have Facebook, do me a solid favor, check out the Scene Before Facebook page, give it a like, tell your friends about it, maybe your Facebook friends, and if you are an old school Internet junkie, tell your MySpace friends! I want to know, did you see “Ready Or Not?” What did you think about it? Or, have you played a whacked up edition of a particular game? If so, what was it like? Ready or not, let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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Crawl (2019): When Life Gives You Gators, Make Gatorade

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“Crawl” is directed by Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes, Piranha 3D) and is produced by Sam Raimi, who is known for directing various horror titles such as “The Evil Dead,” “Army of Darkness,” and “28 Days Later.” I also can’t forget to mention how he helmed all of Tobey Maguire’s “Spider-Man” trilogy. This film stars Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper as a daughter and father who live in Florida, a state known for the magic of Disney World, warm sandy beaches, and of course… stupid people. For all you old-timers out there, please search up “Florida Man” for more information. Anyway, the movie takes place during a massive, boisterous, category 5 hurricane. Throughout said hurricane, Scodelario’s character of Haley is trying to save her father, Dave. Simultaneously, Haley is trying to fend off incoming alligators.

Good thing this guy wasn’t in the movie.

When it comes to “Crawl,” it was never my most anticipated film of the year. I didn’t think it would be a modern day “Citizen Kane” or anything, but walking into this film, all I really asked for was a fun time. In fact, I almost expected “Crawl” to be somewhat similar to last year’s “The Meg.” Why? Because that movie seems to fit into that category of “summertime fun.” It’s a category that I would place certain movies that are not terrible enough to be dumped into an early month of the year, movies that in no way are going to win Best Picture, but they are perfect for witnessing simple, effective stories that can win an audience over for a period of time. The reason why I enjoyed “The Meg” so much is because it kind of knew what it was. It wasn’t trying to be serious the entire time, even though there were slight dabs of seriousness throughout. It just let the audience know that they were going to witness absurd fun.

Although I will say, “Crawl” is not exactly like “The Meg.” It’s got a bit more common sense put into it, but that does not mean it wasn’t good. In fact, one of the biggest strengths of “Crawl” has to do with something that I found to be a bit of a shocker. Specifically, character building. The entire movie hinges on the relationship of the father and daughter, two individuals who have great chemistry and play off each other very well in certain moments. I think the casting choices for both characters are top notch. Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper are a likable duo in a dangerous situation. There were several moments where I managed to root for them and hoped they would get themselves out of peril. As for the daughter, I could definitely tell she really cared about her dad from the very beginning. She really wanted to protect him. And this brings up an interesting reversal of a stereotypical thought I have. Because I know parents sometimes might say they’d do anything to protect their child, but here, we see the child trying to do the same, as if they were the parent, which really makes our main hero an excellently written character.

And one other thing I should point out about “The Meg” is that I occasionally refer to that movie as “what ‘Sharknado’ should have been.” And in some ways, “Crawl” is kind of like “Sharknado.” In fact, more so than “The Meg” because unlike that film, “Crawl” takes place during a natural disaster. But unlike “Sharknado,” I, again, bought into the characters, and when I look back at a film like that, I think it plays out with a tad too much seriousness than I would prefer for a film of its title. But here in “Crawl,” the tone is pretty much on par with what I would expect. Not too silly, not too gritty, just right.

I must also point out that one of the main elements of the film is that the father and daughter not only have to deal with a big storm, but they also have to survive against alligators. A number of moments with these alligators are hypnotizing, full of tension, and it just makes you root for the two leads. And going back to the comparison with “Sharknado,” these alligators are not nonsensical. They feel legit, they don’t look like they were made for a PS2 game. They have a raw feel throughout the film based on their proper utilization.

But I must remind everybody, this movie takes place in Florida, which does make sense because of the alligator appearances during the runtime. However, what does not make sense is the layout of the main house where all the s*it is going down. Why? I’m not saying it’s a bad house by any means. I’m not saying it is poorly designed or decorated, but what I am saying is that Florida homes don’t have basements. A majority of the film takes place in this house with a basement, where the alligators are coming in, water is making its way, nothing is very happy go lucky. I have never lived in Florida, I’ve been a few times, although I’ve never lived there. But I am willing to bet I can talk to almost anyone who lives in Florida, reach out and ask for a tour of their home, and if I asked them, “Hey, can I see your basement?” Some of those people might reply saying I’d probably need my brain checked. But you know what? I like to keep an open mind. So I did a Google search on this. From what I have gathered, it seems some people have pointed out that the practicality for a basement in south Florida is rather low, although it may be a tad more common in north Florida. With that being said, a majority of this film takes place in Coral Lake, which is the area of the main house. Let me just remind you that Coral Lake is in a southern area of the state. Maybe crawl spaces, as opposed to basements are a bit more common there than I would think, but this is still something I need to bring up. As of now, this isn’t going to lower the film’s ultimate score, but even with that in mind, as a guy who lives in Massachusetts… I have questions.

Speaking of questions, let’s talk about the film’s ending. Now, this is spoiler free, but I want to point out that this film ends kind of abruptly. This film is 87 minutes long, and I can see why. I have a feeling that either the two people who wrote this film, the director, or the studio wanted this film to be less than an hour and a half in runtime. And at some point, one person thought in order to guarantee a “satisfying” runtime, someone said to just end the film at whatever point could be imaginable. It kind of reminded me of “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” which is much longer than “Crawl,” in fact it is around two and a half hours. But that film, just like “Crawl” ended in a way that kind of felt rushed. It didn’t make me angry, it just took whatever excuse is possible in order to get to the end credits lickety-split. I was just like, “Alright, that happened.”

In the end, “Crawl” is a fun movie to watch no matter how rainy of a day it is. I felt the chemistry between the two leads. I was able to get past my questioning of reality in Florida. And while it is no masterpiece for the ages, “Crawl” will definitely stand as an appropriate summer movie. Overall, it’s a good time. I’m going to give “Crawl” a 7/10. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that next week I will be going to see “Ready Or Not,” which is a movie about a recently married woman who must partake in a game of hide and seek in order to be part of her new family. I just got passes to an advance screening, and my hype levels are VERY high for this movie right now. The Red Band trailer for it is up there with the best trailers I have seen this year, so be on the lookout for my thoughts on the film! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! And if it is a rainy day, one perfect activity aside from staying in and reading Scene Before, is checking out the Scene Before Facebook page! The Scene Before Facebook page is a great place to stalk the Movie Reviewing Moron before finding out if your friend likes your latest cat picture. Because CATS on social media are brand new! I want to know, did you see “Crawl?” What did you think about it? Or, do you currently live or have you ever lived in Florida? Tell me about it! Most important question though, if you lived in a home there, did it have a basement? I’m absolutely curious right now! Let me know! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Midsommar (2019): Can Ari Aster Top Hereditary?

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“Midsommar” is directed Ari Aster, who is known for directing numerous shorts along with his feature-length debut which came out last year, “Hereditary.” This film stars Florence Pugh (Fighting with My Family, The Commuter), Jack Reynor (Sing Street, Free Fire), William Jackson Harper (The Good Place, The Electric Company), Vilhelm Blomgren (Gösta, The Days the Flowers Bloom), and Will Poulter (We’re the Millers, The Maze Runner). This film involves a couple and a bunch of close friends going away together to rural Sweden. While the main characters intended to take a simple vacation to view a mid-summer festival, they eventually find themselves becoming more involved with various activities having to do with a Pagan cult.

If you asked me about my thoughts on Ari Aster as a filmmaker before this movie came out, I would have simply told you that I love him. Granted, I could be biting off more than I can chew because he only directed one feature film, but it does not change the fact that said feature film, specifically, “Hereditary,” floored me as soon as I witnessed it in the theater for the first time. The interactions between the family was truly worth appreciating. The cinematography is eye candy as delicious as white chocolate Kit-Kats. And Toni Collette gave one of my favorite performances of the decade as Annie. Naturally, the more I heard about “Midsommar,” the more excited I got. In fact, of all the movies coming out this summer season, “Midsommar” might be the one I anticipated the most, which is surprising when you consider how I waited over a month to go see it in the theater. But I just checked it out, so here we are! I feel like I have some weight off my shoulders!

Although before we go any further, I want to give a special shoutout to a friend of mine. His name is Choyon, and he went to go see this movie in July, only to tweet the following:

I cannot say I have seen the original “Wicker Man” film, but from what I gathered by this tweet, that was probably an enormous insult towards “Midsommar.” Having said that, I replied to him saying that I’ll probably instead check out “Spider-Man: Far From Home” that weekend, which in reality I didn’t do until two weeks after tweeting that out. He replied to me saying “Spider-Man” sounds like a better choice, calling “Midsommar” “pretentious crap.” These were followed by two more tweets.

I love Hereditary, I am almost scared for how I’ll feel about this thing after seeing that film. –Me

It may be a letdown, just saying –Choyon

I’ll remind you that Choyon has previously been a contestant on “Jeopardy!” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” so I for one am able to trust him in an assortment of ways. Then again, while he appeared on “Jeopardy!,” he participated in the final round only to do this:

Yeah, that happened! It even got featured in a video from SGSA (Stupid Game Show Answers), a famous name in providing game show fail compilations for years.

But even with that, he is right. “Midsommar” broke me, tore me apart, and ignited me into scorching flames. If I had to judge this as if it were two movies, I would point out the movie’s excellence in terms of direction, cinematography, and location choices. The technical aspects stand out for good reason. But there is a lot that I can’t stand when it comes to how the film plays out as to what characters do on camera.

From the very start of the film, I am instantly reminded of one of my problems involving “Hereditary.” Below is a quote from my review of said film.

“I heard him crying and made me think he was doing a terrible impression of Matthew McConaughey.”

If you put that in context, I will point out that “Hereditary” had a ton of terrific performances by its cast, including Jackoff winner Toni Collete, but one performance that caught my eye at a certain scene was the one given by Alex Wolff. Why? Because he happened to be crying in a manner that managed to lack any sort of match to realism, and overall, it made me think of him as some cartoon who fails at animating their own expressions. This movie gave me the worst possible first impression it could by having Florence Pugh’s character also cry in a manner that just irked me. Granted, I know crying is a natural thing, I know people do it in various situations, but again, I just don’t know if these actors would cry in the movie in the same way they would in real life. And having seen two movies from Ari Aster now, it makes me wonder as to what he will have stored in the future for his projects. Is this going to become a cliche? Is this going to be an Ari Asterism? Is he going to have at least one oddball, Lifetime movie-esque sobbing scene for each one of his films? And I will say, this crying, while annoying, was not even the worst part of this sack of crap!

I will say, when it comes to the characters in general, they are very off and on. For one thing, I kind of hate the main group of guys in this film because they all seem to just be less than friendly to the main character at times and it is sort of off-putting. There’s a scene where everyone completely establishes they don’t want to go on this trip to Sweden with her, only to pretend to be nice to her when she’s in the room and invite her to the trip. I understand why they would invite her, even if they have something against the main character to begin with. But even so, upon first seeing all the guys, they all had this rather unlikable vibe to them. It’s like if a speeding ticket was a person!

But I will say, upon first seeing rural Sweden and the setting for the movie’s main events, I was undeniably impressed. The setting looked vibrant and beautiful, almost to the point where I wanted to go there. All the costumes stand out and it brought this feeling of immersion. Sadly though, as the movie progressed, there was not much of interest when it came to various happenings in Sweden. Granted, the movie does a good job at letting us as an audience experience the traditions of the cult, but when it comes to shock value, which this movie seems to promise, I almost felt nothing. Maybe because I saw it coming though. I remember going into this movie being told it’s more gross than scary, and honestly I can see why, but I won’t go into it.

One comment about this film before it came out that admittedly made my hype levels rise as high as a skyscraper came from director Ari Aster himself. Back in March, he referred to “Midsommar” as “a ‘Wizard of Oz’ for perverts.” Honestly, I took that as a bit of a joke. I did expect this movie to be somewhat gory, I did expect a lot of the costumes to pop, I also expected the locations and setpieces to set the tone for what’s to come, but holy s*it, he’s right. I won’t go into complete detail, but that is a good way to describe this film based on certain scenes.

But it does not change one thing. THIS MOVIE SUCKS!

I–I can’t believe it! This is Ari Aster I’m referring to! I should be praising him like he is god or something! But now, he has diminished some of my hopes for his future projects! As if the movie itself was bad enough based on the beginning and the main events as everyone happens to be in Sweden, the ending just takes those two concepts and makes them look like a breeze to sit through. Why? Because, again, without spoiling anything, it is simply one of the most repulsive things I have witnessed in recent memory. In fact, I might even go as far to say that the ending to “Midsommar” could qualify to be a part of my top 10 worst endings in film history! Granted, I saw where the film was going with the ending, trying to have this compelling vibe that maybe could get some viewers to be speechless or something. It could possibly get them to activate their brain a little bit. In a way, if I had to use a recent example, it kind of had a similar feel to the ending I witnessed in last year’s “Annihilation,” only that movie was ten times better and more interesting than this piece of crap!

In fact, if I really had to make a comparison between this film and something else it has to be “The Favourite.” It’s a film that I heard a lot about, it has a reasonable amount of hype behind it for various reasons, it looks beautiful (both in previews and the final product), but it turned out to be a colossal disappointment. Granted, I will point out this movie is superior to “The Favourite” in terms of how invested I was from start to finish. It was less boring, better paced, and overall a slightly more hypnotizing story. But it does not change the fact that when it comes to “Midsommar,” it is a film that had tons of potential to be associated with prestige, and sadly, it ends up falling flat on its own face.

The best way I could describe the ending to “Midsommar” without further context is by once again going back to the idea of this movie being gross as opposed to scary. To me, it was neither, it was simply annoying. If you think hearing Jar Jar Binks and his hellish voice is ridiculous at home on your living room TV, try going to a cinema with surround sound and listening to every single utterance during this film’s climax. I imagine when this film comes out on DVD, it is not going to change how nearly headache-inducing the ending could possibly get.

Ari Aster, I love you! Please make a better film than than this! I was rooting for you!

In the end, “Midsommar” might as well have as much of a chance of completely impressing me during a repeat viewing as White Castle does of creating a pancake-sized burger. The worst thing about “Midsommar” is not necessarily how bad it is, but how disappointing it is. I say that because there are lot of movies out there that I knew were going to be terrible before watching them like “Batman & Robin” and “The Emoji Movie,” but “Midsommar” looked fantastic. In fact when I call this my most anticipated film of the summer compared to another film that opened the same day, “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” which ended up surprising me to the point of absurdity, it leaves a hole in my heart. I cannot even recommend this movie as background noise, because again, this film has an ending that is probably just as annoying to me as annoying as Teletubbies may be to parents who are raising newborn children. But again, I cannot give this movie a 1/10 because it is well shot, it does look impressive, and I say that to the point where it would make for a good tech demo. Well, as long as the product is on mute at certain points. I’m going to give “Midsommar” a 3/10. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that pretty soon I’ll have my review up for “Crawl,” a film about a father and daughter who are caught in the middle of a Florida hurricane. If you want to read a review for an Ari Aster flick that I think is worth your time, my link to my “Hereditary” review is down below! Be sure to follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account, also be sure to like my Facebook page if you have an account there as well! Stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Midsommar?” What did you think about it? Am I crazy right now or something? Or, who is a director working today who doesn’t have much background that you are curious about? Aside from Aster, Tim Miller would be one of my picks. I’m somewhat curious as to what he’s going to do with “Terminator: Dark Fate.” Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Hereditary (2018) REVIEW

Missing Link (2019): Good Animation Is Not Endangered

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“Missing Link” is directed by Chris Butler (ParaNorman, Kubo and the Two Strings) and stars Hugh Jackman (X-Men, The Greatest Showman), Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy, Avatar), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks, Love Actually), Stephen Fry (V For Vendetta, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug), David Walliams (Britain’s Got Talent, Pudsey: The Movie), Timothy Olyphant (Santa Clarita Diet, Live Free or Die Hard), Matt Lucas (Doctor Who, Alice in Wonderland), Amrita Acharia (Game of Thrones, The Good Karma Hospital), and Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover, Due Date) in a film about an explorer who comes across a rare creature who we as an audience come to know as Mr. Link. It is eventually revealed that this creature has others of his kind and he calls upon the explorer who found him to help bring him to said others.

“Missing Link” comes from the brilliant folks at Laika, known for films like “Coraline,” “ParaNorman,” “The Boxtrolls,” and “Kubo and the Two Strings.” Granted, of the four films I just mentioned, I personally have witnessed two of them. But it does not change the fact that my experiences of watching those films were exhilarating and worth just about every second of my time. “Coraline” is just a blast! It’s a creative, slightly disturbing, and compelling animation from 2009 that I honestly question myself as to why I haven’t gone back to watch it just a few more times. And I’ll even say that “Kubo and the Two Strings” is even better! That film for now stands as a 10/10 in my book, and it’s up there with films like “Arrival” and “Captain America: Civil War” as one of my favorite films from 2016. As an aspiring screenwriter, it spoke to me. And wow! What Laika can do with stop motion animation is purely groundbreaking! As for “Missing Link,” it is not as good as those two films, but it’s still good enough to say it is worth a watch.

This film shines mostly for its upbeat and quick pace, and the film’s dialogue seems to fit the pace and vibe with ease. I really like the chemistry between all of the characters and there is a lot of humor in the film that didn’t feel immature. I look at particular animated films every now and then and see where they are going in terms of humor, they are CLEARLY trying to just get the attention of young children. Granted, that’s the typical stereotype when it comes to animated movies. Dancing! Fart jokes! Just write the script for the kids whose brains haven’t fully developed yet! Who cares if it’s s*it? Does Laika do that! Hell no! Instead, they are keeping all ages in mind while also trying to be smart, which is something I enjoy seeing from animated films or other movies that could probably cater towards families.

Although speaking of these films, “Missing Link” reminded me of a DreamWorks animated film that came out in 2009, specifically “Monsters vs. Aliens.” Granted, the storyline, not to mention animation style, is completely different, the ideas behind both films don’t really connect with each other. But I have a question.

Chris Butler, is “Monsters vs. Aliens” your favorite movie?

I mean, seriously! This film is called “Missing Link,” which is a decent title for a number of conceptual projects, but that’s not the point. If you have seen “Monsters vs. Aliens,” you may be aware that one of the monsters is a long-living fishman by the name of THE MISSING LINK! In fact, in the image above, he can be seen on the left! Now some of you may be thinking, “This is only a coincidence, how could this apply to what this jackass is saying?” Well, Mr. Link in this film also goes by the name “Susan.” If you are not familiar with “Monsters vs. Aliens,” Susan is the name of the main character of the film, who also goes by Ginormica, played by Reese Witherspoon. Is this film a secret tribute to a 2009 DreamWorks movie that played a part in my childhood? I ask because if that’s the case, holy s*it!

I also really like one thing the movie did towards the end, because it almost felt like a little trip into reality. It kind of reminded me of certain human issues that trace back to years before this film came out, and issues we continue to have today. It’s one reason why I really liked the character of Mr. Link so much, since I had the ability to sympathize with him. But it wasn’t like his character was a downer throughout the film. Much like some other characters, he was charismatic and had fitting dialogue to make me give him two thumbs up. In fact, compared to other animations I’ve seen, and this may be a bit of a stretch, the characters and vibe add up to be completely quirky. Granted, it makes sense as this is not entirely done on computers, unlike most modern day animated films and instead done through stop motion work. But the film felt like it could only come from one particular place. I will say, in terms of quirky animations, it’s got nothing on Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs,” but this is still worth pointing out.

I will say though, adding onto something I mentioned earlier, the one major disappointment I have regarding “Missing Link” is that other than the appreciation for its likable characters, quirky vibe, and compelling screenplay, it didn’t have the oomph factor that I would want out of a lot of movies. I may sound like a spoiled brat, but it felt like something was left out. There was a part of the movie during one of the first scenes that I thought was incredibly symbolic, but I won’t go into because it’s in none of the movie’s trailers. Simply put, despite my positive thoughts on the film, there was nothing to make me want to play the Blu-ray again right after watching it. Comparing the film to “Coraline” and “Kubo and the Two Strings,” I feel like those two films left a bigger impact on me. “Coraline” was probably an easy oomph for me because I was 9 and I wasn’t really familiar with too many films with this sort of style. But when I saw “Kubo and the Two Strings,” it felt like it was everything an animated adventure film should have been. Good balance between humor and seriousness, fantastic cast of characters, and a neat concept. Maybe I’m biased there too because that film sort of pays tribute to storytellers, which is a way I sort of see myself.

Although, if you do want to be wowed in some way by this film, I will say, stick around for the credits, because it actually shows part of the process that goes into filming a stop motion scene. It’s really a sight for the eyes.

In the end, I really do recommend “Missing Link,” but it is also the weakest of the Laika films I have witnessed thus far. It’s kind of like Christopher Nolan. My least favorite film of his is “Insomnia,” but it doesn’t mean I am going to avoid recommending it, because there are qualities that make it watchable. Plus, I like it better than some of the other animated films we have gotten so far this year, specifically “The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part” and the abomination against humanity known as “The Secret Life of Pets 2.” Laika is continuing to deliver original and exciting content, and while this film did not make much through its box office totals, I really hope it picks up on home video, especially in the family demographic. I’m going to give “Missing Link” a 7/10. Thanks for reading this review! I have couple more movies to review, I’m not sure I will be getting both out by the end of the week. To be honest, I’m not even sure if I’ll even be getting the first one out until next week because this weekend…

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I’m going to Terrificon! Terrificon is a three day event held at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT! It’s a convention that caters to fans of comics, sci-fi, fantasy, animation, and gaming! If you are at Terrificon this weekend, know who I am, or even if you don’t know who I am, feel free to shout my name from the rooftops! I will be walking around the convention center and various areas of the casino (although I am not gambling), so feel free to give me a hello at any time! If you want to keep yourself updated with everything I do here, I have a Facebook page that gives automated posts every time I upload something new on here, and speaking of things that are on here, give this post a like! Give this blog a follow either with your email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Missing Link?” What did you think about it? And this question is for everybody, but if someone named Susan replies to this, I will give it a like. What are y’all’s thoughts on DreamWorks’ “Monsters vs. Aliens?” Personally, it’s not their best animation but it’s better than some of the “Shrek” sequels and it’s nice to see Stephen Colbert playing the President of the United States, especially since every other day he makes fun of the President of the United States. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Alita: Battle Angel (2019): A 26th Century Fox Film

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“Alita: Battle Angel” is directed Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Spy Kids), written and produced by the critically acclaimed James Cameron (Avatar, Titanic) and stars Rosa Salazar (Parenthood, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained, Spectre), Mahershala Ali (Green Book, Moonlight), Ed Skrein (Game of Thrones, Deadpool), Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children, A Nightmare on Elm Street), and Keean Johnson (Nashville, The Fosters). This film takes place in the year 2563, or 300 years after a massive war between planets leading to Earth’s devastation. When the film starts, we see a scientist assemble a girl who clearly has a consciousness but has no memory of major events that happened in the past. With that in mind, she decides to go on a journey to recover her memories.

This movie, to me, had a very bumpy road up until its official release. Word of mouth about it in terms of its development has been spoken since we hit the 21st century. At the turn of a new millennium, Fox registered the rights to the domain battleangelmovie.com and James Cameron registered the rights to battleangelalita.com, who has said for years that this film is in progress. He was going to do it after the production of the TV series “Dark Angel,” but he didn’t get to it. He wanted to get the thing done after the film “Aliens of the Deep,” once again, he didn’t get to it. After all, Cameron’s biggest priority during the late 2000s was “Avatar,” mainly because he wanted to bring awareness of environmental preservation to public audiences, which to be fair, is a pretty good reason to focus on a movie like that. Well, in addition to raking in over $2 billion at the box office… In August 2010, over a year and a half after “Avatar’s” release in theaters, Cameron stated he wanted to work on the “Alita” film, but he is having trouble getting around to it. Then came 2013, where Cameron happened to be in an interview with director Alfonso Cuarón (Roma, Gravity). Cameron suggested 2017 as the time to start working on the film. Coincidentally, shooting began in late 2016. And a year before that, The Hollywood Reporter stated that Robert Rodriguez was in talks to direct the film (a confirmation to direct would be announced in 2016). Said director was supposed to “condense and combine Cameron’s 186-page screenplay and some 600 pages of notes into what could be the shooting script.”

So basically, James Cameron is approaching his “Alita” project similar to how I would approach my high school crush. I’d start out looking at her, admiring her, trying to talk to her abd say hi once or twice, get her to notice me, only til I get to the point where I either lose that crush or I think she’s too good for me.

Although, I haven’t even gotten to the trailers yet! The first trailer for “Alita: Battle Angel” released at the end of 2017, and at the time, the film was scheduled to come out in July 2018. Then, the second trailer, which came out last year in July during San Diego Comic-Con, suggested the film would be out at the end of the year in December. If you ask me, that was a terrible decision made by whoever was in charge of the release, because then the film would have to compete with other titles such as “Aquaman,” “Mary Poppins Returns,” “Bumblebee,” and more. Luckily, they made the smart choice of moving the release date once again, this time to February 2019, as suggested in a trailer for the film which came out this past November. And it seems to have worked out in the film’s favor because it ended up making over $400 million worldwide, which is more than twice the film’s budget of $170 million.

But the real question is this… How was “Alita: Battle Angel” as a movie? Was it good? Was it bad? Was it ugly? My answer, none of the above! In fact, it was awesome! Remember back in 2015 when “Mad Max: Fury Road” came out? Personally, I don’t particularly like it as much as everyone else, but I for one have grown to appreciate the flick as a visual spectacle. There are numerous thrilling action sequences, the cinematography took a lot of effort to pull off, and damn it pulled off well! And the film is filled to the brim with practical effects. There are tons of vehicles specifically built for the film, the locations fit every scene quite well, and there are a number of stunts and movements throughout the picture that are kind of brilliant when you break them down. To me, this was that, but with CGI. Kind of like “Avatar” or “Gravity” or the 2016 “Jungle Book” remake because like those films, I almost questioned how the CGI looked as polished and stunning as it did. This film is the very definition of a visual spectacle, and I’m almost surprised that I am even saying that, because when I first looked at Alita herself from the first couple of trailers, I thought she I’d be slightly offput by her appearance. Not by her body, I am not a guy who wants women’s bodies to look a certain way, but… her eyes. Honestly, they didn’t even bother me in this film, and to be honest, they made Alita stand out to me in a positive way as the film went on. It let me know of the character I happened to be looking at. After all, when we first look at Alita’s face at the start of the film, she didn’t even have eyes. The eyes we see in the film were added on.

If anything, if I had to compare “Alita: Battle Angel” to another film visually, I’d say the best example would have to be last year’s “Ready Player One,” which if you have followed this blog for some time, you may know I adored that film. Visually speaking, it was hard at times to recall if I had seen anything like it. To this day, “Ready Player One” has some of the best CGI I have seen in a film because it creates this immersive video game world that I kind of wanted to be in, especially considering how it highlights the real world and how it has gone to s*it. I don’t think I’m going to have a great 2045, I think we’re going to be super low on resources! Give me my video game world now! Much like “Ready Player One,” “Alita: Battle Angel” spends much of the runtime being rather glossy, but in its own case, it also has some grittier looking images to take a gander towards. Down in Iron City, it kind of has a similar look to Wakanda from “Black Panther,” but with more to do around the area. Then again, I don’t typically imagine many Wakandans walking down a street to sample some chocolate so who knows? Plus, there’s one part of the city scenes that captured my attention.

The introduction of motorball.

Holy s*it, I seriously don’t get how people can watch football. I can watch motorball all day every day!

Motorball: The new sport for the universe.

Now I should point out that I have never introduced myself to the original source material of “Alita.” In fact, despite calling myself a nerd, anime and manga are two of my weakest areas when it comes to following the main aspects of geek culture. So in case you cannot tell, the concept of motorball is fairly new to me. But damn, I love it. It has the physicality of hockey, although perhaps greater physicality since everyone’s occasionally trying to kill each other, not to mention the adrenaline of NASCAR. It is a sight for the eyes if there ever was one.

And speaking of awesome moments with tons of CGI, let me just point out that you all should check out “Alita” just for the action alone. There’s some creative ideas to be witnessed, and there is one character in particular who has these chain wires coming out of his arm, it reinvents the word epic. Honestly, to me, these action scenes are up there with films like “The Matrix,” “Man of Steel,” and the “Lord of the Rings” franchise of how fantastically exhilarating the action can tend to get. It almost reminds me of a video game, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. I mean that in comparison to a bunch of flashy video games where everything is eye candy and it almost makes you feel like you want to be part of the action despite the possibility of getting killed. Damn, this movie is the bomb.

But this movie is not all looks, it has some decent characters too. I was rooting for Alita the entire time, I really liked the love interest she interacted with, specifically Hugo (Keean Johnson). I bought into the chemistry Alita had with her “father” and I really liked the backstory as to how Alita got her name.

But at the same time, since I have been talking about how unbelievable this film is, it should come as no surprise that my biggest problem should have to do with the characters. This is not to say that I hated anybody in particular, I have no beef with anyone. But when it comes to the film’s antagonistic side, it almost feels as if it doesn’t exist at times. For some reason, there have been numerous moments throughout the film that make it feel as if there happens to be no real threat. Granted there is a threat, but even when there is, it almost feels like it barely has a reason to be in there. And speaking of problems, there is a moment in the film where the “father” character, Dr. Dyson Ido, establishes a couple of rules with Alita, and that conversation tends to almost go nowhere in terms of how the rest of the film plays out. Granted, it partially goes somewhere, but it never feels like it has a full reason to exist. I won’t go too far into the rules or where they tend to go, but it’s something I wanted to point out. This is slightly nitpicky, but nevertheless, I feel it is also something that is important to establish.

In the end, “Alita: Battle Angel” gave me pretty much what I wanted. It’s enormous, it’s lively, and it’s boisterous. Overall, it’s probably the biggest spectacle of the year (maybe aside from Endgame). And based on how much I enjoyed this film, it kind of makes me forget about the development and post-production problems a little bit. I watched this film on 4K Blu-ray because I wanted to provide myself with as much of a spectacle as I can. Having done that, it kind of makes me mad at myself for not going to see this in a theater. Especially in IMAX 3D. There are several moments that if you have a 7.1 surround sound system, it will make you feel like you’re inside your screen. It’s what a movie is supposed to be, an escape. And in this case, “Alita: Battle Angel” is one escape that put me in a world which I never wanted to leave. I’m going to give “Alita: Battle Angel” a 9/10. I don’t know if this film will end up being for everyone, but for me, this was Heaven. As a nerd, I found myself loving the sci-fi and fantasy elements brought to the story. And from a technical perspective, “Alita” shines as bright as the sun. Plus, you know how a lot of people are still waiting for that “excellent video game movie?” Films based on anime and manga are almost in the same league as video games. The only ones that stand out, happen to do so for not so good reasons. I have not watched “Dragonball: Evolution,” but knowing enough about it, there is enough to support why I have not watched it yet. I don’t dive into anime and manga all that much in general, but still, this movie, unlike a lot of other similar entrants to its genre, is something special. I dig it, I would love to see a sequel, and if it comes back to theaters, I am there.

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that I just recently watched “Missing Link,” the new animated film from Lakia. I will have a review for that up as soon as possible, be sure to stay tuned for that! Also, this upcoming weekend, I will be at Terrificon so I will not be watching anything new from Friday to Sunday. But fear not! Because I will be doing a post reporting my activities from the con! That should be up sometime next week, hope you all get a chance to read it! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! And while I cannot promise you I am sharing my epic wins from playing motorball on there, be sure to like my Facebook page! It has updates on upcoming posts, it lets you know when new content is available, and I’ll even remind people of various milestones I hit on the blog every once in a while. Check it out, please! I want to know, did you see “Alita: Battle Angel?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite fictional sport? Willing to bet most of you are going to say Quidditch, aren’t you? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!