Tick, Tick…Boom! (2021): Andrew Garfield Booms the Roof Off in This Marvelous Netflix Original

“Tick, Tick…Boom!” is directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, Mary Poppins Returns) and stars Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man, Hacksaw Ridge), Alexandra Shipp (Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B, Straight Outta Compton), Robin de Jesús (The Boys in the Band, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit), Joshua Henry, Judith Light (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Dallas), and Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical, Powerless). This film is about Jonathan Larson, a young musical composer who lives in New York and is trying to make it big. When trying to assemble and sell his play, Larson must simultaneously balance work, friendships, and trying to create the art he wants people to see.

I feel like such an idiot because I have spent much of the 2010s hearing about “Hamilton,” while everyone talks about it, makes such a big deal about it. “Go watch ‘Hamilton!'” “Go listen to ‘Hamilton!'” “I cannot stop talking about ‘Hamilton!'” I have never bothered with it. I am sure that if I put on a song from “Hamilton,” I’ll find some fun in it. Heck, they even have the recorded version of it on Disney+ right now so it is at my fingertips. But I know that “Hamilton” is part of the reason why everyone knows Lin-Manuel Miranda as one of this generation’s most iconic entertainers. I am all for any story that makes history fun. I just haven’t gotten around to it.

I did however watch this year’s “In the Heights” film which I left feeling very mixed about. On one hand, there are some occasional catchy tunes and some of my favorite shots of the year. There’s one scene towards the end of the film that left me marveled to the floor. At the same time though, the film is rather dense for a somewhat fun musical and goes on for way too long. I did not mind any of the serious matters in it, I just don’t think it is a film that is worth watching more than once.

Either way, Lin-Manuel Miranda is an entertainer that I have known about for years, but for some reason, I have never gotten around to his work. To be fair, I watch a ton of movies. I don’t always seek out plays or Broadway musicals. Those just aren’t my thing. That seems to be Lin-Manuel Miranda’s forte. But this film is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s feature length debut. Could he take his talents which he used elsewhere and translate them to a project like this? After seeing this film, I can confirm he did.

Miranda develops a movie that sort of made me forget that I was watching a true story. Granted, I did not see a ton of marketing and did not hear much about the film going into it, so I didn’t really know I was watching a film based on actual events. But after realizing that this film was based on real events and watching the film itself, it nevertheless kind of felt like a fantasy. Almost like “Rocketman” in a way, but better. Miranda takes the script of “Tick, Tick…Boom!,” which is very much set in reality, and makes it feel like it set in some blend between that and some fantasy world. “Tick, Tick…Boom!” naturally delivers a compelling narrative that bridges the gap between true events and sequences that maybe one would wish could be true.

Part of this is due to the amazing performance by Andrew Garfield, who carries the movie on his two shoulders. I mean, casting-wise, I think they did a good job on picking Garfield because I don’t want to sound stereotypical, he looks like an artist. He’s down to earth, but also a little crazy. If anything, his interpretation of Jonathan Larson made him come off as a more artistic Steve Jobs, because Jobs was kind of eccentric, a little quirky, and I got that sense from Larson as well. I got the sense that he genuinely loves what he does and Garfield had solid chemistry with everyone on screen including his love interest, Alexandra Shipp as Susan. This film kind of reminded me of “La La Land” because that film’s about dreams and the effects that one can have from said dream taking up much of their lives. Will they be able to achieve it? That’s the eternal question. But there’s also the idea that relationships and connections you have in your life can separate you from having a life in which you desire. Same thing with money. There’s the struggle of being able to make it from day to day, and sometimes you think this may not be the best path. This film wonderfully complicates the struggles of one person achieving their dreams. In a world where “follow your dreams” is often the message of the story or the heartbeat that keeps the story alive, it’s nice to see a movie like this handle this main character desire so well.

I want to do my best to not spoil anything when it comes to “Tick, Tick…Boom!” but I sort of related to this film on a personal level. It’s not my favorite film of the year. In fact, after seeing something else, it’s not even my favorite musical film of the year. But I feel like the screenwriter, or Steven Levenson, either took some advice from a screenwriting class, or acknowledged a common saying that starting writers have to hear. I took a screenwriting class and one of the common things I heard in that class is to “write about what you know.” In fact, if you saw the trailer, you’d know those words are used in this film. The way that the film uses said words arguably makes for one of, if not my favorite line, of any movie I’ve seen this year. I think people will look at a film like “Tick, Tick…Boom!” and be wowed by it. Between the acting, the direction, and the music. It is all combined to make something special. But for me, some sequences are enhanced because I have personally dabbled, or am willing to continuously dabble in the arts. I’m an aspiring screenwriter, and one lesson I will always take from my screenwriting class in sophomore year of college is the advice to write about what you know. I won’t say much about the context of those words being used, but the use of them hit me because of what I’ve gone through in my life and what I may end up going through in the future depending on my career path. A good movie can entertain you. A great movie can entertain you and remind you of your own life. “Tick, Tick…Boom!” definitely comes off as great.

In the end, “Tick, Tick…Boom!” delivers a big boom and is a pleasantly enjoyable musical. Lin-Manuel Miranda delivers one of the best directorial efforts I’ve seen all year, one of the best casts I’ve seen all year, and one of my personal most relatable screenplays I’ve seen all year. I have never followed Lin-Manuel Miranda, nor have I followed Jonathan Larson. “Tick, Tick…Boom!” made me appreciate both of them. I’m going to give “Tick, Tick…Boom!” an 8/10!

“Tick, Tick…Boom!” premiered in select theaters this November, but it is also available on Netflix for all subscribers.

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that I have more content coming up, which coincidentally, also involves Lin-Manuel Miranda, that being my review for “Encanto!” Stay tuned! Also, I want to wish everyone a happy new year. 2022 is around the corner, which means I will also have my picks for the top 10 best and worst movies of 2021 coming soon. If you want to see this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Tick…Tick…Boom!”? What did you think about it? Also, what is your favorite Netflix original of the year? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

King Richard (2021): I See Venus. I See Serena. I See Will Smith in a Finely Crafted Tennis Flick

King Richard (2021) - IMDb

“King Richard” is directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green (Monsters and Men, Top Boy) and stars Will Smith (Suicide Squad, Wild Wild West), Aunjanue Ellis (Girls Town, Lovecraft Country), Saniyya Sidney (The Passage, Hidden Figures), Demi Singleton (Godfather of Harlem, Goldie), Tony Goldwyn (Scandal, Ghost), and Jon Bernthal (The Punisher, Ford v Ferrari) in a film where we see the childhood lives of Venus and Serena Williams, two people who have become tennis professionals, through the eyes of their father, Richard.

Erin Cummings

Before we go any further, I want to give a shoutout to actress Erin Cummings, who has a small role in the film. I watch her almost every other time she appears on the YouTube series “The John Campea Show,” so I want to spread my support. I enjoyed seeing her in this film. I have nothing positive or negative to say about her performance, after all, she’s only around for a minute, but I just wanted to say, “go Erin!” Anyway, on with the review.

King Richard (2021) - IMDb

I saw this film at a press screening back in November and I was not surprised to be able to get a seat looking back, after all, this is a Warner Brothers film, and all of the Warner Brothers films to hit theaters in 2021 also made a simultaneous debut on HBO Max. I guess some people just wanted to skip this film to watch it at home. I’m sitting here as a critic trying to give you a good reason to go see this film immediately. Given how it is now off HBO Max, I might as well suggest why you should watch it in theaters… And compared to some other films out this year, I cannot come up with many. This is not a bad film by any means, but there are certain aspects about it that stand out more than others.

This is a rather oddball way to tell the story of two tennis icons. You might be thinking, oh my god! Serena and Venus Williams! I cannot wait to see how they became who they were! Sure, you get that. But keep in mind, the movie is not called “Serena and Venus.” It’s called “King Richard,” therefore it is about these girls’s father and it in a way tells the story through his eyes.

Now, I like a good father figure. I think we’ve seen a number of them in films from Uncle Ben in “Spider-Man” to Cooper in “Interstellar.” I think if anything, “King Richard” showcases how much its title character loves his children, but as I am watching this film, there are times where I just want to look the other way and I feel like he is doing something that nearly falls out of line. This is based on real people, so for all I know, this film could be referencing a ton of Richard’s mannerisms, but sometimes watching him speak or do something on screen felt nearly headache-inducing. Although I will say one thing about Will Smith, even though there were slight times that maybe I did not always like his character, I think given the material, Smith excels in terms of his performance. I felt every line of dialogue and I think Smith did an okay effort at bringing Richard Williams to life.

One of the things I did like about his character is that said character, not to mention this film in general, sort of represents the struggle that people of his kind, specifically black people trying to make it big in a white-dominated United States face. And the way this story is told sort of encapsulates that. There’s this one scene in a particular neighborhood that solidified that. In fact, if you watch the movie, and this exchange is in the trailer, all he wants for his daughters is to grow up and not be “on these streets.” I get where he’s coming from, and performance-wise, this was properly emoted.

At the same time, even if you took the aspect of underrepresented communities and the dangers of certain areas out of the equation, at the end of the day, one could look at this film as the story of a father who truly loves his daughters. He would do anything for them, but I also look at him and I feel like even though he is their parent, he almost comes off as controlling. I think a second viewing would be much needed at this point because for all I know, maybe I was in a certain mood that day and maybe he actually was justified from start to finish, but I feel like Smith put on an extreme performance for what seemed to be an equally extreme character. I could also kind of look at this film as what happens when you have nepotism come into play. Of course, you’re going to automatically think your kids are the best. My mother thinks I’m the best. But I KNOW I’m not. She’ll say it a thousand times over and over, doesn’t make it true. Those may just be words of encouragement as some sort of dream may be achieved in the process.

Now don’t get me wrong, just because Smith’s character does some occasional oddball things in this film, doesn’t mean I think it’s bad. Conceptually, it sounds fine. Part of me really enjoys tennis, and this film is about two of the most popular players in the sport’s recent history. I knew who they were, but I never knew about their childhood, I never knew about how they became so great at the sport itself. This movie was occasionally a fine history lesson.

When it comes to the two performers playing Venus and Serena, or Aunjanue Ellis and Demi Singleton, I think seeing these two together may have been the best part of the film. The duo felt like real sisters, and when their dad is in the mix, I think the best chops are executed out of all three of these guys. Seeing their relationship to me was one of the film’s major highlights.

Once again, I want to point out that this is based on true events, and as for the true events portion of this film towards the end, with this big tennis match, it’s some mighty intense stuff. If you enjoy tennis, or you don’t really know the stories of the Williams sisters, which I did not, I think you might get a kick out of the final act. Stay tuned.

King Richard (2021) - IMDb

In the end, “King Richard” is a film that I recommend to everyone who likes tennis, likes Will Smith, and wants an empowering story about two young girls. This is the kind of film I think some people will need for the most part. It’s about not giving up, not backing down, and giving it your all to be the very best. I think we all need that in some way. I’m going to give “King Richard” a 7/10.

“King Richard” has released in theaters this November. If it is playing near you, tickets are available.

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that the end of the year is coming up so this January I will be sharing my picks for the top 10 BEST and WORST movies of 2021. I cannot wait to share those picks. If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “King Richard?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your personal favorite Will Smith movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021): Sony and Marvel’s Thrilling, Emotional Love Letter to Three Generations of the Webhead *SPOILER-FREE*

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) - IMDb

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is directed by Jon Watts, who also directed the previous two MCU-set “Spider-Man” installments, which also have home in the title. I’m assuming if they make a fourth movie, it’s gonna be called “Grand Slam?” You know, instead of home run? Four?

Anybody?

Who cares?

Anyway, this film stars Tom Holland (Cherry, Onward), Zendaya (Space Jam: A New Legacy, Dune), Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek: Into Darkness, Sherlock), Jacob Batalon (Blood Fest, Let it Snow) Jon Favreau (Chef, Solo: A Star Wars Story), Jamie Foxx (Soul, Ray), Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse, Aquaman), Alfred Molina (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time), Benedict Wong (Annihilation, Raya and the Last Dragon), Tony Revolori (Dope, The Grand Budapest Hotel), and Marisa Tomei (Parental Guidance, Anger Management). This film revolves around Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man, who has to deal with the newfound dangers that lie ahead now that his identity has been revealed, in addition to being connected to the recent event of Mysterio’s drone swarm in London, which have been interpreted differently by the general public. When Peter seeks Dr. Strange’s help to make everyone forget he was Spider-Man, the spell to make such a thing happen goes wrong, villains from other universes arrive, and it is up to Peter to do the right thing before the dangers of one universe then become the dangers of another.

Alright guys, it is that time again. A big movie in December. Although this time around, it’s not in the “Star Wars” franchise. Still huge. That being said, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is the biggest movie of the year. I should note the box office suggests that this film is enormous, but there are still people who have not seen the film. I know at least a couple. With that being said, I will note that this review is spoiler-free. I am going to talk about certain points in the film that stand out, but I’m not going to go into deeper plot points. If you have not seen this movie and plan to see it, I can tell you that this review is safe to read.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is a follow-up to “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Spider-Man: Far from Home.” I have to say that when it comes to the first film, it is slightly more enjoyable than I remember it being. But given Spider-Man’s excellent writing in “Captain America: Civil War,” the writing for that film felt like a step down. I really liked Vulture. Peter’s chemistry with Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) was charming. I even liked Liz in that film. I still think the film has logic issues when it comes to how Peter’s suit works and how Tony Stark would want it to work, but the film is still decent enough to pass the time. When it comes to “Spider-Man: Far from Home,” that film felt like a step up. Jake Gyllenhaal did a great job as Mysterio. I liked Ned a bit better this time around compared to the original. Plus it was nice to see Spider-Man somewhere other than New York for a change. Plus, the end of the film promised a fantastic setup for what would ultimately become “No Way Home.”

When it comes to “No Way Home,” is it a thumbs up or a thumbs down?

I think neither. I’d say TWO thumbs up.

Now, like almost everyone else, I should note that my anticipation and my excitement for “No Way Home” was high. Not as much as “Dune,” but still high. But I was also nervous. Because the film promised massive multiversal shenanigans, which sounds great. I should note… It SOUNDS great. During the fall as we built up to this film’s release, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” in my mind sounded like it could be one of two things. It’s either going to be the best movie ever, or the worst movie ever, and nowhere in between. In crossover-speak, is it going to be the next “Infinity War?” Or is it going to be the next “Space Jam: A New Legacy?” God that movie was awful. Thankfully, upon leaving the theater, I can confirm that I felt excited to go see the movie again in less than 24 hours, and my mind literally melted on the way home from how exciting this movie was to watch.

This film has a ton of villains ranging from Doc Ock to Electro, but it’s not like they’re just there for nostalgia purposes. Granted, at the end of the day, this film is sort of a tribute to the Spider-Man character and all the stories that came before this one. Anyone can put in a ton of cool characters and have them fight against Spider-Man. Heck, this movie could be Spider-Man vs. Godzilla vs. Agent Smith vs. Ron Burgundy, but it does not guarantee a good movie. It’s a basic case of concept vs. reality. The concept is great, but the reality could suck. But here’s the truth about all these villains…

Jamie Foxx’s Electro was written ten times better than he was written in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” Now, I will admit, they did kind of highlight a specific aspect about him from that film, specifically how Max was a nobody, which I thought had some okay setup before he was affected by a bunch of eels. But as we see him enter this universe, I could really tell that he was confused, he was concerned, and had no idea what was going on. They’ve even given him a new costume, which may be for story purposes, sure, but of course, who doesn’t want to sell more toys? Why do you think they gave 3PO a red arm in “The Force Awakens?”

My favorite villain of Raimi’s “Spider-Man” films was always Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock. I feel like even though his character was truly at the end of the day, an evil mastermind, he also had a heart. He went through tragedy the same way Peter did in those movies when he lost Uncle Ben. Only in the case of Doc Ock, he used his tragedy for evil, partially for a reason beyond his control. Even though he terrorized New York City, I feel bad for him, looking back. Plus, his arms are among some of the best practical effects ever. As for how he’s handled in this movie, I like the way they went about exploring his character’s newfound questions. After all, when you enter another universe, everything feels completely strange. Although when they first introduced him, they had a potential plot hole that could have affected how I viewed the entire movie that was corrected about ten to twenty minutes later. Glad they touched up on that. In this film, instead of his arms being practical, they were CGI, and I honestly could barely tell the difference. They did a really good job at making Doc Ock fit into a universe like this, even though it’s really the same character as another one.

But if you’re going to ask me who I think gives the single greatest performance out of all the film’s villains, I think that would have to be Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin. Now I always sensed that Dafoe enjoyed playing the character of Norman Osborn and being a part of the “Spider-Man” franchise. Even after his character died in “Spider-Man” (2002) he came back for the sequels, and there’s also a bonus feature where Alfred Molina is pranked by Dafoe, wearing the Doc Ock tentacles, trying to motivate Molina to give the greatest performance possible. Part of this movie centers around Osborn struggling with his inner self, which is not new for him, and I feel like we get so many layers to his character. We see his bewilderment of the world around him. We see him conflict over power and normalcy, and I think his dark side is more evident than ever. Whenever he does something truly horrific in this film, not only is it well written, I think it may deliver the best performance I have seen out of a Spider-Man villain in a long. Long. Long. Long time. I really liked the Green Goblin in the 2002 “Spider-Man” movie. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” arguably made him even better.

Now I will say that there are a couple other villains in this film, including Sandman and Lizard. Of the film’s villains, those two were the weakest, but they were still better than a lot of the villains we get in the MCU nowadays. I say that because a lot of the films in the MCU sometimes fail to heighten the villain and instead we get a cliche bad guy who just stands in the hero’s way. These are two are better than Ronan in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” And they’re especially better than Malekith in “Thor: The Dark World.” These two have some occasional funny lines, and I like Lizard’s reference to his master plan which Electro ended up making fun of. It’s not like they did not need to be in the movie, the movie is definitely cool with them and they do not end up doing anything offensive. But of all the villains in the film, Sandman and Lizard are the weakest links because they have the least depth. We get more time with Doc Ock and Goblin, therefore we have more opportunities to see depth for them, but for Sandman and Lizard, not so much.

But of course, this film belongs to the heroes. Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Ned, and MJ.

All of these actors who play the heroes are great and I think when it comes to Ned (center) in this movie, he’s kind of a bundle of joy. When I saw Ned for the first time in “Homecoming,” I thought he was annoying. I kind of grown to like him in that movie a little bit, because I kind of get the enthusiasm behind finding out your best friend is Spider-Man, but I think of these three movies, he had the worst writing because his questions can get excessive. To me, the writing in this film made the most sense of the three, although his storyline in “Far from Home” was hilarious. It’s one way to write teen love I guess. Although if I have one thing to say, it’s not a huge complaint, but it is something worth pointing out, something happens with Ned in this movie that is out of random chance. It was never something that was established that he could do, or something he learned. It just happened. I mean, if you watched the movie, they “teased” it a little, but kind of as a joke, nothing more. I guess foreshadowing is foreshadowing, even if it’s a throwaway joke.

Zendaya’s MJ is another character that to me evolved with time. In the first film, she felt overly snarky. In the second film, I got to know her a little better and I began to appreciate her as a character just a bit more. In this third film, we see her with Spider-Man from the start, and I think their chemistry has blossomed into something special. It is worth noting that all three live-action Spider-Men from Tobey Maguire to Andrew Garfield to Tom Holland all dated their character-based love interests at one point in real life. Maybe that’s why their chemistry all feels natural. There was a scene on a school rooftop, it’s in the trailer, that stood out to me as to why Holland and Zendaya work together. Although I was a bit surprised to see MJ reading a physical newspaper as opposed to some article on her phone. I dunno, just a stereotypical generational thing.

Doctor Strange is in this film as well, and judging by the trailers, his performance at first felt a little different from his previous outings in the MCU. Having seen the movie, and having remembered some of the other movies he’s been in, it actually feels somewhat consistent. Maybe it feels different because he’s communicating with teenagers, which may not be his forte. I may be making excuses, but I think if you’re an adult, you may have a way of communicating with teenagers in a slightly different tone than you would with your spouse or your boss. You know, unless your employer works at “LitDonald’s!” Keep it 100 with our Big Lit! Sauce me some of those yeet fries! Enjoy the LitRib for a limited time! Although when it comes to consistency, there is a one-liner out of Strange about birthday parties that feels wonderfully similar in tone to this exchange in “Infinity War.”

Dr. Stephen Strange: If we don’t do our jobs…

Tony Stark: What is your job, exactly, besides making balloon animals?

Dr. Stephen Strange: Protecting your reality, douchebag.

But of course, we need to talk about Tom Holland. Spider-Man stories have shown a balance between a hero struggling to maintain his friendships, his identity, while also trying to save the world. In the case of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” this balance is handled brilliantly. The film starts off right where the last one ended, and right off the bat we already see Spider-Man protecting what he has left of his identity, his love interest, and the people he knows. We already start off the movie with one of the worst possible things that could have happened to Peter Parker, and that’s just the beginning. We see him deal with controversy in school. Parker’s trying to find a lawyer. The people he loves are being hurt for reasons beyond their control. As we go through Spider-Man’s journey, the tragedy only builds up. And this is what makes Spider-Man a hero. When he goes to Doctor Strange to make everyone forget he’s Spider-Man, he’s not just looking out for himself, he’s looking out for the people around him. His friends, family, colleagues. There’s a subplot in the film where the trio are trying to get into college and that is only made harder through their connections to the battle in London.

I expected this film to be exciting. I expected this film to be fun. But part of me was not ready for how much emotion this movie packs. Now I figured there would be at least one emotional moment because it is the third film of a trilogy and that’s where certain ends are tied up for good and that sort of thing. This film has multiple powerful scenes and happenings that bring a balance between the expected excitement and the emotional weight. Tom Holland in this film honestly delivers one of the best performances of his career because of this. I don’t think he’ll be nominated for an Oscar, but by the end of the film, there’s a particular arc that is perfectly assembled and you don’t even need words for it. Just the expressions on his face alone make the scene perfect. You may know what I’m talking about when it comes around.

Although I do want to talk about one thing when it comes to the emotion. This is a spoiler-free review, so I will not go into detail. But the ending of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” despite its instant feeling of satisfaction, induction of a smile, and solid conclusiveness to certain characters, probably would have been made better if Peter did one thing to possibly prevent another thing from happening. If I did a spoiler review, I would expand on it. But again, I cannot. The point of me making this review is not to discuss every single plot point and detail. It is to convince my viewers as to whether they could make a formal decision on whether “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is worth seeing. I recommend you do, I think this is easily one of best “Spider-Man” films ever made. But I want my viewers to go into this film knowing as little as possible, but with enough details as to what I like, didn’t like, and maybe that will help them know whether or not this movie is for them. I would not instantly recommend this movie to my mom (although I would recommend Shang-Chi), but I do recommend a lot of you reading this should go check out “No Way Home” on the biggest screen you can.

I will also point out that this is Jon Watts’s third film in this trilogy, making him the first director to direct a complete trilogy in the MCU. Jon Favreau directed two installments for “Iron Man,” but Shane Black did the third. Joss Whedon did the first two “Avengers” films, but the next two ended up going to the Russo Brothers. When it comes to all three movies, they are solid. But the directing in these films do not really give him much of a chance to individualize himself. And as for this movie, I think Willem Dafoe’s face reveal, as exciting as it was, could have been handled slightly better. It was still exciting, but it was very quick. Although I think if you take into account the end of the film and the performances from just about everyone, this may be the best-directed film in the franchise. Everyone felt true to their characters and when came to Peter’s emotions, Watts likely knew exactly how to touch base with Tom Holland. I think after seeing this film, I am curious to see if there are any specific quirks Watts develops, but I nevertheless think he will do a good job with “Fantastic 4,” whenever that comes out.

One last thing before we move on, J.K. Simmons is back as J. Jonah Jameson. You saw the little snippet of him in the previous film, but now we have him here and the way they utilize him is perfect. For this modern era, his placement in the universe makes sense. He’s basically Alex Jones if he was trying to find a cure for his balding. After seeing this film, I am convinced that nobody else aside from J.K. Simmons can play J. Jonah Jameson. Debate over.

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

In the end, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is the best film in the Jon Watts trilogy. It’s a triumph for Tom Holland. It’s at the end of the day, a love letter to the character. My favorite “Spider-Man” movie is “Spider-Man 2,” and right below that would have to be this one. It’s that good. The movie has its flaws, but no movie’s perfect. I think the best part about “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is that it doesn’t just use all these previous characters and actors just for the sake of marketing. Granted, it definitely helps. But each villain had at minimum, the slightest of reason to be there. Even Sandman and Lizard. The first two “Spider-Man” films in the MCU happen to be about teenage Spider-Man dealing with teenage situations from crushes to school dances. This film, in my imagination, is literally Spider-Man attempting to push back a giant boulder of inconveniences and tragedies. And by the end of the film, I felt enough of its weight to make me care for everyone. If you like “Spider-Man,” you will love this movie. I don’t know if you will like it more depending on whether you have seen the other villains before, but that’s another debate for another time. Please check this film out, take your friends, take your family, take everyone. It’s best experienced with an audience, and there are some are some epic potential applause break moments depending on when and where you see this film. I’m going to give “Spider-Man: No Way Home” a 9/10.

To me, this kind of reminds me of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood…” because despite the glaring issues that such a movie has, I ended up giving it a 9/10. The reason for that is because those issues barely get in the way of all the other crazy sequences and crowd-pleasers of this film. The fan part of me wants to give a perfect score, but again, there’s some issues that keep that from happening. There’s the fan side of me and the critic side of me. Today, I have to be the critic. The film is an experience that I want erased from my memory in order to go back and witness again. For those reasons alone, I highly recommend you go watch this film in a theater. But reserve your tickets in advance, you’re gonna want the best seats.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! I want to let you guys know that I have more reviews coming up including one for “King Richard.” Stay tuned for that! If you want to see more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Spider-Man: No Way Home?” What did you think about it? Or, which Jon Watts-directed “Spider-Man” movie is your favorite? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Matrix Revolutions (2003): The Stylistic, Loud, and Occasionally Epic Finale to End the Green Jesus Trilogy

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! First off, I want to thank everyone for journeying with me through over five full years on Scene Before. It has been a pleasure to talk about all these classic franchises with you. Many of which are being done in correlation to something else, but I often enjoy going off the beaten path and talking about some older movies. Today we are concluding the final review series in this anniversary segment. A series that I like to call, “The Matrix Reviewed.” With that being said, it is time to talk about the third installment to the “Matrix” franchise, “The Matrix Revolutions.” Here’s the story. “The Matrix” has been a widely welcomed and celebrated film that has been considered a modern classic. Then came “The Matrix Reloaded,” which took a lot of the material from the original, repackaged it, expanded on some concepts, but it was not exactly memorable. Or if you ask me, in some cases it lost some of its meaning. I’m looking at you, “upgrades.” As the poster suggests, “everything with a beginning has an end.” Well, until Warner Brothers decides to cash in on nostalgia and make “The Matrix Resurrections,” but that review comes later. Now that the end is here, let’s talk about it!

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“The Matrix Revolutions” is directed by the Wachowskis, the same directors behind the previous two “Matrix” films and stars Keanu Reeves (Point Break, Johnny Mnemonic), Laurence Fishburne (Event Horizon, What’s Love Got to Do with It), Carrie-Anne Moss (F/X: The Series, Dark Justice), Hugo Weaving (Babe, The Interview), and Jada Pinkett Smith (Scream 2, A Different World). This film is the finale to the “Matrix” trilogy, and war is more prominent than ever! This film follows the people of Zion as they fend off invading machines and Neo, the once ordinary soul who became “the one,” tries to stop Agent Smith while also trying to win the war himself.

As mentioned in my review for the original “Matrix,” that film in particular was my first R rated movie. I watched “Reloaded” with my dad about a week and a half later, followed by “Revolutions” just over five months later. At the time I was 12 years old. Therefore, I had more of a concept of what a good and bad movie happened to be than say when I was seven. At the same time however, the reason why I was into “The Matrix” at the time is the same reason why I was into movies like “Star Wars” at the time, they were so visually fascinating and had sound that felt like they had a place beyond the comprehensions of life itself. Safe to say, I enjoyed all the “Matrix” films to some degree, with the first one obviously being my favorite. Now that I am getting to analytically look at these films all over again almost a decade later, I am coming up with affirmations that maybe I would not have had as a child. “The Matrix Reloaded” is action-packed as I remember it being, but story-wise, it lacks substance compared to the original. The new characters were not that interesting. And the upgrades thing kind of bothered me, despite the awesome fight scene where Neo on took on hundreds of Smiths at once in that courtyard.

But the past is the past, the point of this review is to look at what came after “The Matrix.” What came after “The Matrix Reloaded.” So what came after those two things? I’ll tell ya. Another sequel that doesn’t quite hold a candle to the original. Although if you ask me, I do think that this film is slightly more enjoyable than “Reloaded” for what it is. What makes the first film work so well is that despite taking place in the future, and despite taking place in a digital machine, there was a down to earth quality to it. This was shown in the characters, the action (even though it is obviously choreographed), and the comparison between the real world and the matrix world and showing how much more enhanced and kick-ass the latter happens to be.

One thing I noticed in this film compared to “The Matrix Reloaded” is that there is so much action in your face that the idea of story seems to take a backseat. Now this is not always a movie killer. If anything, this year’s “Godzilla vs. Kong” did a really good job at reminding people of why they came to see it. They did not come to see Millie Bobby Brown somehow miraculously make it into Hong Kong for no reason. They came to see giant monsters whopping each other’s asses, and that’s what the movie delivered. Only thing about that film, is that it kind of knew what it was. I feel like these “Matrix” sequels did a good job at taking half of what made the original good, while leaving another half to rot. The half that was included was obviously the visuals and action. The first film had a solid script and story, but I feel like those were left behind.

Although I will note that one of my personal highlights of the movie as we progress is the chemistry between Neo and Trinity, which has blossomed beautifully over the past three films. Even though I have had my critiques as to how Neo was directed in the first film, I do think one constant positive I had for him and the franchise is how he interacts with Carrie-Anne Moss. The relationship has developed from this one encounter in the original film to a charming romance. I HATED the way Neo handled bringing Trinity back to life in “The Matrix Reloaded.” It felt kind of cringeworthy, but nevertheless. The kiss was nice. In fact, I don’t know, I think if Neo just kissed Trinity without putting his hand inside her skin, I think that would have been a more satisfying way to see Trinity return from the dead. I know the heart is essential to live, but I think in this universe, it would have been a more pleasant and given what they’re going for with Neo, a more Christ-like sight.

Yep, there is plenty of Jesus symbolism in this film. If you get to the end of the film, they’re not even trying to hide it. It’s pretty much in your face.

I will say one thing about the end of the film, the final fight in “The Matrix Revolutions” is by far one of my favorites in film history. Now, I love the final fight in the first film, and I think if there is one thing that first fight did better, it would have been stakes. But when it comes to style, this final confrontation has it ALL. By the end, it’s not even a “Matrix” fight anymore and is more likely something out of “Dragonball Z.” This fight does something well that I forgot to mention in my other reviews. One of the signature things about the “Matrix” that I already hinted at in this review is the choreography. In some movies, if the choreography, it can sometimes detract from the film because it feels maybe otherworldly and takes away from the realism at hand. In the case of all three “Matrix” films, they did a really good job stylizing all the action to make every fight feel like a strategy game. As I look at Neo and Smith in this final fight, every single one of their movies feels less like them fighting and instead pushing buttons on a console controller to hopefully master the skill sets of their avatars. It feels incredibly computerized, which is ultimately what the Matrix happens to be. I really like that.

Also, the MUSIC. HOLY CRAP. This is one of the best written pieces of a score I’ve heard in a movie. I dare you not to drive in the rain with this song with a smirk on your eyes. I mean, oh my god. Technically speaking, this is one of my favorite elements of the film. Don Davis is practically unleashing a flame thrower onto all of his orchestral instruments. By the way, once you’re done with this review, go to YouTube and type in “Neodammerung.” It’s freaking awesome. Bill Pope, who has been involved with some of my favorite movies alongside the other two “Matrix” installments, delivers some of the best shots I have seen in a sci-fi film. In terms of style, this film is full of it, and it does not disappoint.

I will note one thing about the visuals of “The Matrix Revolutions” in comparison to the visuals of “The Matrix Reloaded.” Just to note, both films came out in 2003, within months of each other. I think when it comes to the visuals of “Revolutions,” it does a better job than “Reloaded” of not taking you back to 2003. Now, “Revolutions” is newer, it’s younger, but not by much. Keeping that in mind, in a franchise that has heavily tried to impress audiences through groundbreaking visual effects, I think my mind is more likely to harken back to the final battle in this film more than anything else. The fight against all the Smiths in “Reloaded” was great, but it felt like it was designed in a computer whereas the final fight in “Revolutions” to me bended the line just slightly between reality and fiction. For those reasons, I think both films may end up having a somewhat similar replay value, after all this franchise is not a bad one to binge, but “Revolutions” remains superior in terms of how well it holds up.

In the end, “The Matrix Revolutions” is an improvement over “The Matrix Reloaded,” but it ain’t no party like the one in 1999. There are positives in this film. The performances are great from everyone, even Keanu Reeves, who I have criticized in the past. The film has non-stop, exhilarating action, and it is VISUALLY STUNNING. Now again, this film came out in 2003. Therefore it is not as visually appealing as “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King,” but it is eye candy nevertheless. I could watch that final duel between Neo and Smith numerous times over and over. It’s shot wonderfully, and rendered nicely. It gets my thumbs up. If there were a little more substance, maybe the film would be better. But I do think this film is better than some people make it out to be. Maybe it’s because I did not grow up with it. It could just be a representation of my age. I was never part of the phenomenon, which makes me wonder how people will look at films like “Avengers: Endgame” in a matter of 15 years. Either way, I’m going to give “The Matrix Revolutions” a 6/10.

“The Matrix Revolutions” is available on VHS, DVD, HD DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K-Blu-ray! The film is also available on HBO, HBO Max, and Hulu.

Thanks for reading this review! If you want to read my reviews for “The Matrix” or “The Matrix Reloaded,” click the nearby links and check them out! I want to thank everyone for journeying with me through “The Matrix Reviewed,” where I talk about the three live-action “Matrix” films, and I also want to spread my appreciation to everyone who tuned in to any of my special series in honor of Scene Before’s five full years of being on the Internet. We had quite a year from “Mortal Kombat: Finish the Reviews,” “7 Days of Star Wars,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Chest of Reviews,” “Revenge of the Nerds: Nerds in Review,” “Ghostbusters: Before Afterlife,” and the series that has officially been concluded, “The Matrix Reviewed.” It’s been a heck of year and I want to thank all my readers for spending part of it on Scene Before. If you want to see more reviews like this, I will remind you that I will be coming with more thoughts on the latest films including “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” So much content, so little time! This year I will also be recapping my top 10 BEST and WORST films that I saw throughout the 12 month period. I don’t know if I’ll be doing it as early as usual, but we’ll see. I have a ton of movies to talk about, but I don’t even know if I’ll be able to get to all of them. Nevertheless, if you want to see this and more on Scene Before follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account. Also, check out my official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Matrix Revolutions?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite “Matrix” film? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Ron’s Gone Wrong (2021): A Mediocre Display of Social Media-Based Materialism

“Ron’s Gone Wrong” is directed by Sarah Smith, Jean-Phillipe Vine, and Octavio E. Rodriguez. This is one of those interesting cases where a film has three directors, don’t usually see that. This film stars Jack Dylan Grazer (Luca, It), Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover, Missing Link), Ed Helms (The Office, Vacation), Justice Smith (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, All the Bright Places), Rob Delaney (Catastrophe, Deadpool 2), Kylie Cantrall (Just Go with It, Gabby Duran & the Unsittables), Ricardo Hurlado (School of Rock, Glitch Techs), and Olivia Colman (The Favourite, The Father). The film is set in the future where a giant company unveils their latest invention, the B-bot. The B-bot is a personal companion robot that is designed to make friends. Everyone has one, except for Barney, who lives in a slightly unusual household. One day, he opens up what appears to be a B-bot, only it is glitchy and all over the place. After a series of events, the two stay together, form a friendship and navigate themselves through a trend-based crowd of middle-schoolers.

When I saw the trailer for “Ron’s Gone Wrong” earlier this year, my expectations were somewhere in the middle. I liked the fact that it was an original property, which is nice to see. I liked the idea that it sort of connects to our reality (even though this film is set in the future). And the ultimate kneeslapper at the end, the “6 feet apart” joke, which probably would have been nowhere near as funny if it were not for COVID-19 happening. It’s the old saying, comedy equals tragedy plus time. And for the record, I did find out that this film was recorded and animated during the pandemic, therefore it is completely possible that the 6 feet apart joke could be a reference to it. My expectations were neither high or low, I was just looking for a good time at the movies.

And was it a good time at the movies?

Welllll….

I have watched a lot of animated movies. For this blog, I typically watch at least five in a year. But I always notice that in these movies, the filmmakers always intend to hide a lesson about something to children by the end. “The LEGO Movie” had a lesson telling children that just because you’re ordinary, doesn’t mean you’re not special. “The Lion King” taught children that life is hard and the truth will always come out, even if the consequences are deadly. “Cars” teaches children to keep their friends close and sometimes you do not need to win to be the best. I love when animations are more than just farts and giggles for the sake of farts and giggles. This is why I hate when someone says “x movie is for children, therefore x does not have to try hard at being great.” Uh… That’s lazy. That’s like saying the Boston Celtics won 17 championships, why not suck for one season? No, you give it your best shot and try to stick the landing.

“Ron’s Gone Wrong” has an obvious piece of social commentary within it. This film mainly follows Barney, who lives in what could be described as an “under a rock” setting compared to everyone else in the film. Once he acquires his B-bot, which is way different than others, this makes him more normal than before, but not in the ways that one would consider positive. There’s a moment where we see Barney encounter his bullies, and Ron helps fight back against them. I could not really decide whether I like this pair together or not, based on what I saw on screen at the time, because I doubt the movie is trying to encourage fighting for children, but I could imagine some could see it coming across that way if they don’t pay enough attention.

Although one of my favorite things about this film is how much it reminds me of today’s franchise and gaming culture. I don’t play “Fortnite,” but I know one of the big things about that game aside from the terrible hidden narrative that elevators are freakin’ useless, happen to be the skins. During the film, we see all these B-bots, and they seem to cater to the personalities of those who possess them. There’s one that displays a basketball, another one’s a monkey, another one’s a grizzly knight in armor. It’s kind of playing on the notion that the working B-bots all belong to trendy people who have no problem fitting in.

Another big allegory of the film that I picked up on was the idea that social media ruins lives. Now, these B-bots are not just personal companions to their owners, but they also run social media. Basically, the B-bot is a walking phone. There’s this great look into this one person who has something in particular happen to them during the film that makes them go from being the cool kid to the one nobody wants to sit next to during lunch.

If I had to compare this movie to anything else, I would say this it is a mashup of “Jingle All the Way” and “Free Guy.” While this film does not take place during Christmastime, unlike “Jingle All the Way,” this film heavily relies on a story that makes fun of materialism and certain things making children look cool. As for the “Free Guy” comparison, much of this film is spent from the perspective of a massive corporation who is responsible for the creation of the B-bot. The story is very similar, one guy came up with the idea, he had all the marbles and strings attached, but of course, someone else at the company is more concerned about making money and stocks. It’s your show friends vs. show business kind of story. I like bits and pieces of this, but for what I remember about the film, I don’t think I agreed with every move the characters took. Maybe I’m just an ass, I don’t know.

When it comes to animated fare, this one does not pass, but it also does not fail. I was endlessly annoyed by Barney’s B-bot. Now I get it, it’s out of control, it’s got problems. But the voicework for it became increasingly infuriating to listen to, and I’m a fan of Zach Galifianakis just to be clear. But the thing about his voiceover is that the B-bot literally says the same words the same way every single time. If they were trying to go for the typical robot thing where the bot is monotone, that’s one thing, but it’s a mix between monotone and expressive to the point where I feel like I myself am going to glitch out.

I also want to talk about my experience of watching this in the theater. It’s been a month, so I don’t remember everything. But I do remember this… After the movie had it’s big climactic moment, we see this one scene where there’s these B-bots rolling around, and one of them is in the form of a Stormtrooper. I believe there was a Darth Vader version in the movie as well. This movie is obviously making fun of the corporate way, the endless franchise propaganda we’re getting today. But if you’re a kid, it probably doesn’t matter. There was a mother and son next to me, and the son says something along the lines of “I like that one, it’s Star Wars!” Kids might not get the lesson just yet. Either way, Disney probably wins. They made this movie (under the 20th Century banner) and now they get to sell a kid more “Star Wars” stuff. That’s business!

Freakin’ corporations.

In the end, “Ron’s Gone Wrong” made me leave the theater with such a confused reaction. I did not hate this movie, but I didn’t love it either. I would not call it good, but I also would not call it a disaster. It has some occasional funny moments, but I did not always care for every character and there were certain parts I liked more than others. The film does come packed with lessons for children, but whether or not they take them, is a mystery at this point. I’m going to give “Ron’s Gone Wrong” a 6/10.

“Ron’s Gone Wrong” is now available to rent or buy. You can find it on DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K Blu-ray in stores. It is available to stream on Disney+, HBO, and HBO Max. It is also playing in select theaters.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed this review, be sure to look out for more of my upcoming reviews including “King Richard,” “tick…tick…BOOM!,” and “Encanto” just to name a few. The end of the year is here and there are plenty of movies to talk about. Let’s do it. If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Ron’s Gone Wrong?” What did you think about it? Or, what is one item you always begged for as a kid? Perhaps as a gift? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Matrix Reloaded (2003): Digitize Harder

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is time for part 2 of the ongoing review series, “The Matrix Reviewed!” Last week we discussed my thoughts on “The Matrix,” and my opinions for the most part appear to be the same as a lot of other people’s, it is easily one of the greatest sci-fi stories ever told. Like many great stories, this one happened to get a sequel. Or in the case of “The Matrix,” two in one year. Don’t usually see that play out much. Today we’re gonna be talking about the first of those two sequels, “The Matrix Reloaded!” Are we able to load some digital goodness on the screen with this film? Here are my two cents!

“The Matrix Reloaded” is directed by the Wachowskis and stars Keanu Reeves (Point Break, Johnny Mnemonic), Carrie-Anne Moss (Models Inc., Memento), Laurence Fishburne (Event Horizon, What’s Love Got to Do with It), Hugo Weaving (Babe, The Interview), Jada Pinkett Smith (Scream 2, A Different World), and Gloria Foster (Law & Order, Leonard Part 6). This film is the sequel to the 1999 box office smash “The Matrix,” one of the biggest R rated films of all time. This sequel follows Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus as they continue their fight against a machine army. This time, the agents are bigger, stronger, and upgraded. SEQUEL S*IT!

You know that sequel advertsing bulls*it? You know what I’m talking about! BIGGER IS BETTER! Forget the first movie! This second movie is gonna make the first movie look like the zeroth movie! I’ll admit, I was three when this film came out, therefore I never had a chance to watch it in the theater, nor did I get to see the trailers. But even I know that this is one of those films that became a literal phenomenon. Heck, this first film became so big, yeah I know it is a franchise now, but that first film is the one everyone talks about, that they apparently took time to reference it in kids’ movies, despite the R rating! Just look at “The LEGO Batman Movie” and “Space Jam: A New Legacy.” Both films are from Warner Animation Group, and even though that first film has blood, language, and tons of violence, they still found a way to put it in a Looney Tunes story! The first film was respected, it won an Oscar, it kind of set a standard for visual effects and sci-fi. If you ask me, I think Keanu Reeves has been directed better in other projects, but that’s just a me problem, and it’s one that would be difficult to turn into a me solution. Time travel doesn’t exist, and I don’t work for Warner Brothers.

I want to talk about some things I like about “The Matrix Reloaded.” The action is great, and in some cases, I think it may almost be better here than in the original. The highway chase was epic, the fight in the courtyard with all the Smiths was wildly entertaining (I’ll get into a problem about it in a second), and there was some pretty badass stuff in the beginning and end of the film with Trinity. The visuals of the film still hold up today. I would not say they’re maybe as good as the visuals from 1999, but they’re still worthy of falling into the “eye candy” classification. I also really like, going back to the bigger is better idea, the expanding of Zion. The first movie teased it, but now we get to see more of it here. It’s not the highlight of the film, but I didn’t hate it. There’s one montage that goes on for a bit too long, but nevertheless.

This idea of “bigger is better” is not just something that one would put in the marketing for a sequel, but something you’d actually see QUOTED in a sequel like this one! There’s a scene where Neo is fighting an Agent and he’s trying to kick his ass. When he thinks he’s got it, he senses the agent’s increased in strength, so we get to hear Neo utter “Upgrades.” I like how this film gives our heroes some tougher competition. But it’s a blessing and a curse at the same time. I think the best example of this is during the fight where we see Neo all by himself in a courtyard after talking to the Oracle. So all these Agents come out and take on Neo altogether. Look, the scene between Neo and all these agents is one of the most exciting, thrilling, and perhaps badass things I have witnessed in a sci-fi movie, but by the end of it, the more I think about it, it almost feels like the stakes have been minimized. We get to see fiveish minutes of Neo fending off all these agents like they’re flying stormtroopers.

“Ah! The agents! They fly now!” I don’t know where that came from. Just go with it.

While it’s totally badass, it also makes the recently exposed “upgrades” feel like nothing. Look, they’re obviously referencing these “upgrades” in the sense that the Agents have gotten stronger. In the quality/quantity expression, the upgrades would more likely link to quality. So when we get to the quantity portion about fifty minutes into the film, the upgrades seem to lessen their meaning.

The great thing about the first “Matrix” is that we see Neo kind of go through a transition from ordinary person to hero. Yes, the hero’s journey trope been done numerous times. But it is often a successful route to take a story. Who doesn’t love a hero? While there is some struggle or newfound obstacles in this sequel, Neo doesn’t come off as someone who is trying to make a massive change amongst himself. Much of the struggle that we see from Neo as a character comes at the end of the film, which is not a terrible thing. That’s kind of the moment where you want a character to fall to their lowest point. It’s the whole thing about getting back on the horse. You may be down but you can get back up.

Now I’m not asking for every movie to be the hero’s journey. That would therefore make every movie the same as the next. I’m just saying that I prefer seeing a Neo find his way through the Matrix and learn about its roots. I feel like the first film gave us a better opportunity to unravel Neo’s personality. Now he’s kind of a robotic god.

You know what’s also bigger in this movie? The slow motion! But it ain’t better! If we learned anything from the “Sharknado” franchise, it’s that too much of something can make that something become worse. I’ve heard this statement through the walls of the Internet before, but I’ll say it because it is kind of true. This movie could have been trimmed in half in terms of the runtime… Okay, maybe not that much, but the trimming would be significant, if the slow motion was not a thing. This film is two hours and eighteen minutes long. Granted, I don’t have a huge problem with the runtime. The pacing was okay. It could have been worse, but if you take out the slow motion, I think you could have trimmed down that runtime quite a bit. Maybe I’m imagining things, I don’t know. But in that first movie, the slow-motion felt like it meant something. But similar to the “Star Wars” prequels where nearly every scene had a lightsaber (not that I’M complaining), it felt like every other moment of the film had some semblance of slow motion. It was kinda ridiculous. Slow motion is cool! But you know what’s also cool? Ice! And if you touch it for too long your hands are gonna go numb so let’s cool down the slow motion a bit!

KEANU REEVES in Warner Bros. PicturesÕ and Village Roadshow PicturesÕ provocative futuristic action thriller “The Matrix Reloaded,” also starring Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. ©2003 WARNER BROS. – U.S., CANADA, BAHAMAS & BERMUDA. ©2003 VILLAGE ROADSHOW FILMS (BVI) LTD – ALL OTHER TERRITORIES (ALL RIGHTS RESERVED USED BY PERMISSION). PHOTOGRAPHS TO BE USED SOLELY FOR ADVERTISING, PROMOTION, PUBLICITY OR REVIEWS OF THIS SPECIFIC MOTION PICTURE AND TO REMAIN THE PROPERTY OF THE STUDIO. NOT FOR SALE OR REDISTRIBUTION

I also really didn’t like the end of the film. I think part of the climax had some cool action, and seeing Neo fly through the city is something that will forever be in my memory. I love seeing that on screen where he’s flying and all these cars are continuously piling up behind him. It’s iconic. But for those who have not seen this movie before, there are a couple key moments after that which I liked less. One involves a character I mentioned already and a situation that feels totally impractical, and the other one involves something that I feel didn’t have the impact I thought it was trying to go for. I don’t know, this movie goes bigger, but really minimizes the oomph in the final moments. Strange.

The Matrix Reloaded (2003) - IMDb

In the end, “The Matrix Reloaded” had some glitches. While it is not the worst sci-fi film ever, it is a massive step down from the original. I talked about how my one big con from the original film is the way Neo was portrayed, which I assume mostly had to do with directing. Even though I think he could have been portrayed better in the original, I still think was written better in the original. He’s written worse in this film, but Keanu Reeves’s performance here, in his defense, matches the slightly more lackluster writing. Again, the like bigger is better thing, it’s a blessing and a curse. I’ll always remember the first “Matrix” as one of my favorite sci-fi films. The second film, not so much. I’m going to give “The Matrix Reloaded” a 5/10.

“The Matrix Reloaded” is available on VHS, DVD, HD DVD, Blu-ray, 4K Blu-ray, and is also available to watch on HBO Max.

Thanks for reading this review! Be sure to stay tuned for next week, December 19th to be specific, because I will be reviewing “The Matrix Revolutions,” capping the ongoing “The Matrix Reviewed” review series and ending the ongoing trend of reviewing older movies in 2021. Until my top 10 best and worst of the year, which may end up coming out late, just so you’re aware, I will solely focus on reviewing films released in 2021 including “Ron’s Gone Wrong,” “West Side Story,” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home” just to name a few examples. If you want to see this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Matrix Reloaded?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite slow-motion scene in film history? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Red Notice (2021): The Three Biggest Movie Stars Join Forces to Torture Movie Watchers Everywhere

“Red Notice” is directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber (Skyscraper, Central Intelligence) and stars Dwayne Johnson (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, ), Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, Free Guy), and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman, Criminal), Ritu Arya (Doctors, The Umbrella Academy), Chris Diamantopoulos (Up All Night, The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse), and this film centers around two agents who are assigned to track down the world’s most wanted art thief.

Netflix is the epitome of watching a movie or TV show from home today. You can go to your microwave, whip up some popcorn, turn on your smart television, open the app, and let those images fly. Granted there are other options like Hulu or Prime or HBO, but only one has earned the identity of being the place where can watch your stuff and “chill.” Although in recent years, Netflix has taken the movie theater business rather seriously. They’ve released great, emotional titles like “Roma” and “Marriage Story,” and they’ve racked up some Oscars here and there. They even released my favorite film of 2020, “Over the Moon,” which I’m sure is an opinion that others don’t typically share, but knowing myself, I really could have used that film at a certain time in my life, hence why I loved it so much. Netflix’s bread and butter is obviously streaming, but they’ll occasionally try their hardest on a movie when the moment allows. Extreme emphasis on when the moment allows. Because not all of their stuff is theatrical, and a straight to streaming movie is today’s equivalent of a straight to cable movie. Everything looks a bit less polished and they don’t always showcase high quality. But for “Red Notice,” this is an interesting case. This was released theatrically, so it has that going for it. But also, the film had not just one, but three of the highest paid actors working today.

You have Deadpool and Blue Shirt Guy himself, Ryan Reynolds. One of the sexy Canadian Ryans out there. Yes we Canada! I know, he’s not in “Toy Story,” just go with it!

You also have Dwayne Johnson, who if you ask me, is probably today’s biggest stereotype when it comes to being a movie star. He’s not the ultimate chameleon, but he has his fans and knows his audience.

Lastly, there’s Gal Gadot, who I have fallen in love with for awhile given her portrayal as Wonder Woman. I think when she first started in that role, granted that was not her first gig, I think her line delivery could have been improved, but I saw potential in her, and she has been growing since then. And one of the first positives I can give to this film in terms of Gal Gadot being in it is that this is one of the better performances I’ve seen from her. The reason is because the way her character is written and directed unleashes the thought I have held for her for a long time. Gadot is probably one of the most beautiful women acting right now. Whether it is of highest intentions or not, which it probably is, she spends much of the movie coming off as almost semi-seductive in every scene. She has a couple lines in this film that feel like they come out of an action-packed porno.

I will also give the movie another thing. When it comes to the costumes, again as an example, I’ll mention Gal Gadot’s red outfit that is almost intentionally meant to put her perverted enemies at bay, they’re very well done. Ryan Reynolds and Dwayne Johnson look like they’re going to be the highlights of spy prom. I think many of the costumes in “Red Notice” are dazzling to say the least. I will also say that some of the sets are well put together and they occasionally make me want to travel the world. But I also want to note that nearly every positive I have given so far is either something based on looks, or how attractive the cast is. As the old saying goes, looks aren’t everything. How is the actual movie in terms of substance?

It’s pure crap. Honestly, this looks like a cheap “Fast & Furious” ripoff that is not quite bad enough to be in the Walmart $5 bin, but that kind of makes it worse because looks can be incredibly deceiving. It has the looks of a modern blockbuster, but it has a script that was created by a 12 year old! This film cost $200 million to make. I bet the three leads received an enormous portion of that pile of cash. I mean, what does Ryan Reynolds need all that money for? Is he gonna try to buy Canada or something?!

This is one of those scripts that if you are specifically writing it with the actors who ended up in this movie in mind, it would sound great in a pitch, but from my perspective, it’s also kind of a long shot considering some of these actors having busy schedules. Given the final results, I think these actors should have stayed busy.

Look, I love Ryan Reynolds as much as the next guy. I think he is one of the most hilarious dudes, and possibly my favorite movie star on the market today, but I have to admit, I don’t think I laughed once when this character was on screen. Part of his role in this film is the typical Ryan Reynolds schtick where he’s almost got traits of a lovable idiot but in actuality he’s not that much of a dumbass, but every line out of his mouth is ridiculously flat and I don’t even know if he was just off while filming or if Rawson Marshall Thurber is not as good at directing as I would like him to be. I liked “Central Intelligence.” I just wish “Red Notice” was as entertaining as that. This film is edited and written as an action-packed thrill ride. Why doesn’t the acting match the feel of a thrill instead of coming off as slightly robotic?

In fact when I watch this movie and I look at Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds, the first thing I’m reminded of is “Hobbs & Shaw.” Only it’s ten times worse… Because between the characters of Hobbs and Shaw, you had chemistry. One of the best things about the film “Hobbs & Shaw” for me was the chemistry between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. They hated each other, and they took every other moment to acknowledge their displeasure. Sometimes it was really funny. Whenever I look at, again, Dwayne Johnson, shows you the kinds of roles he’s taken in recent years, alongside Ryan Reynolds, I feel like I’m watching a watered down version of that pair. Even though the “Fast & Furious” franchise has never made a single masterpiece, the one thing it often gets right is the chemistry between certain characters, Hobbs and Shaw being one notable example.

Also, this film has one of the lamest and most forced examples of Coca-Cola product placement in recent memory. It felt like something out of an “SNL” sketch that made fun of an action movie as opposed to an actual action movie.

In the end, when it comes to “Red Notice,” there is not much to say except that it is one of the most forgettable landfills of a film I have watched in some time. Again, the stars look cool, the sets look cool, but I feel like more time was spent on developing the style of the movie to the point where Rawson Marshall Thurber and others involved literally forgot substance. I thought it would be tough for Dwayne Johnson to release a film that is worse than “Jungle Cruise” this year. Well, here we are. I also thought it was gonna be tough for Ryan Reynolds to crap out something worse than “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” this year. Mission accomplished, I guess! Gal Gadot looks stunning in a red dress. Okay. Let’s make a good script with that concept in it! How bout that? I’m going to give “Red Notice” a 2/10.

“Red Notice” is now available on Netflix for all subscribers. The film also released in theaters, but it has been a month since it came out, so I would not count on going to the theater to see this film at this point.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed this review, I just want to let you know that I have more coming. I have reviews coming for “Ron’s Gone Wrong,” “King Richard,” “Tick, Tick…BOOM!,” “Encanto,” “Sing 2,” “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” and “West Side Story.” I’m also going to be seeing “Spider-Man: No Way Home” soon, so I will have a review for that as well.

Also, tomorrow, I will be sharing my thoughts on “The Matrix Reloaded” as part of the ongoing review series “The Matrix Reviewed!” Stay tuned!

If you want to see this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Red Notice?” What did you think about it? Or, what is the most disappointing movie you’ve seen with a great cast? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Matrix (1999): A Sci-Fi Wonder Drug

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Welcome to the final review series of 2021, “The Matrix Reviewed,” where I talk about the critically mixed “Matrix” trilogy. Based on the major opinion from critics, “The Matrix” is a franchise with a great first movie, but some inferior sequels. But then again, sequels are not often as good as the original as the old saying goes. Today we will be talking about the 1999 film “The Matrix,” which has become a classic amongst sci-fi fans, and one of the most parodied movies of its era. Tell me you haven’t seen a movie reference one of its slow motion gimmicks. “Shrek” immediately comes to mind for me. Either way, it is time to review the film! Enjoy!

“The Matrix” is written and directed by the Wachowskis and stars Keanu Reeves (Point Break, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure), Laurence Fishburne (Event Horizon, What’s Love Got to Do with It), Carrie-Anne Moss (Dark Justice, F/X: The Series), Hugo Weaving (Babe, The Interview), and Joe Pantoliano (Godzilla: The Series, Risky Business). This film is about a man who is taken to an underworld where he is given a couple of choices, the blue pill or the red pill. He chooses the latter, allowing him to discover the truth about his world, and the depths of an underworld controlled by an AI. In a journey of universal discovery, where he is prophesized to become “the one,” Neo must embrace the inner-workings of the matrix while also surviving against a team of Agents.

“The Matrix” may be one of the most significant films I have talked about on Scene Before, not just on an objective level where many consider it to be one of the best films in its genre, but it is also a personal goldmine for me. For the record, I first saw “The Matrix” at age 12, and was enamored by it. “The Matrix” was the first ever R rated film I’ve ever watched. Looking back, it’s a tamer R rated flick, but it has its reasons to be rated R from language to blood to some disturbing images. “The Matrix” is one of those films that I have always appreciated. The film released in 1999 and upon multiple rewatches, it never shown any sign of aging or deterioration over the years. 1999 was honestly a fascinating year for visual effects between this film and “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace,” while “The Phantom Menace” has some cool shots, a lot of its renderings feel pixelated by today’s standards. “The Matrix” feels immersive, detailed, and glamourous. The film came out in 1999, and even today, it is one of the first things I think of when it comes to virtual reality. It is a world that looks almost too good to be true, but also legit enough that it can have kinks and characteristics that separate it from the real world.

Let’s talk about Keanu Reeves as Neo. I have to say, compared to some of his earlier performances such as Johnny Utah in “Point Break” and as Ted in the “Bill & Ted” films, this is a completely different outlook for him. And you know why? Because in those movies, Reeves’s characters have a nearly built-in, natural charisma. When I watched “The Matrix” once or twice or when I thought about it as a younger individual, I always thought that Keanu Reeves played such a stoic character, and I thought that made him appear limited in terms of his acting ability. If I had seen those other films first, which I did not at the time, it took me five years to get from seeing “The Matrix” to seeing “Point Break,” I probably would have had a different appreciation for Keanu Reeves as a performer. There are times throughout the film where Neo feels like a random pawn in the middle of the chessboard while everyone else is super-expressive. In fact, here’s a good comparison. You ever play a video game like “Portal” or “The Legend of Zelda” where the protagonist doesn’t talk? That’s what Neo feels like at times. He’s one of those characters that you may grow to like, but he may not be as outgoing as everybody else. I do think if I were writing or directing “The Matrix,” I would make Neo a tad a more expressive, but he has his moments. I even like the little supposed nod that his character gives to “Bill & Ted” during the “first jump” scene.

In all seriousness, if you take the dynamic performances of Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus, Joe Pantoliano as Cypher, and Hugo Weaving as the fearsome yet handsome Agent Smith, you have all these incredibly directed performances surrounding one that quite frankly, wasn’t BAD, but it felt like it was in a different space compared to everyone else. I mean, I guess Trinity sort of felt the same as Neo performance-wise in ways, but nevertheless. Maybe if I watch the film again I’ll feel different.

Also, can we talk about Gloria Foster as the Oracle? I love all my grandparents equally, but if I could have anyone else as my grandma, I think the Oracle would instantly come to mind. I could occasionally go for some real, brutal foreshadowing followed by some delicious cookies. Can’t go wrong!

The Matrix (1999) - IMDb

To me, the performances are not exactly what makes “The Matrix” so freaking spectacular. At the end of the day, it comes down to the action. When it comes to sci-fi, “The Matrix” may just have some of the single best action sequences in the genre. The kung-fu sequence where we see Neo and Morpheus in the dojo is ultra-exciting. Not only does it properly showcase and foreshadow the obstacles Neo may have to face in his journey, but it’s just a slick looking fight! I remember watching this for the first time years ago and being awe-struck by Neo flipping in the air showing himself off. This fight opened the doors to a digital environment. What happened here felt greater than reality. I also love the whole badass slo-mo bullets trend this movie does from time to time. I do think there is such a thing as an overuse of slow motion in film, but “The Matrix” makes it look jaw-dropping. The fights involving heavy gunfire are intense and action-packed. There’s a big shootout in a lobby where you see chunks of the wall flying everywhere, it’s like if the bullets were flying into a concrete birthday cake! If this movie had no dialogue and were judged solely on visuals, it would be a 10/10.

“The Matrix” does a really good job at making you feel like you’re either in the real world or the virtual world. The most noticeable difference is the color grading. Whenever you’re in the real world, there’s this pale blue feel, which partially makes sense because that’s probably where Neo would have stayed if he had just taken the blue pill, but of course, he didn’t. Plus, blue, at least in this instance, presents itself as a rather depressing color. It’s gloomy and sets a banal atmosphere. Inside the matrix, you’ll see that everything is green, and every time that green tint is on screen, it feels super vibrant and noticeable. It doesn’t just match all of the code on screen, but it’s also attractive to the eye. It makes you want to be a part of this other world.

I’m gonna talk a bit about the climax, but I will also keep some details hidden for people who have not watched the movie yet, which you definitely should. The climax of “The Matrix” allows us to see Neo’s arch fully realized, it does what a climax should do in a movie like this. Take everything we saw from earlier stages of the protagonist’s journey and unleash it all in one satisfying conclusion. Some ways may be predictable, but there is one built up piece that was foreshadowed that plays out in a way that I think some people will not see coming. I won’t say what it is though.

The Matrix (1999) - IMDb

I will say though, one of the other things I like about “The Matrix” is that despite being in a vast world where there are less physical or emotional consequences than our reality, it does an okay job at making you feel like there are real stakes involved. There are real emotions, real stories, and despite hyping up reality just a few notches, the film manages to bring itself down to earth every once in a while. It feels weird to say especially with a character like Neo showing little emotion from time to time, but there are also times where he shines as someone who wants something. That’s what all protagonists do, right? They want something. I think the want in “The Matrix” is decently explored.

The Matrix (1999) - IMDb

In the end, “The Matrix” is one of the most badass movies I have ever seen. It is a fun film to watch, and it FLIES BY. It is a film that never feels slow. There’s always something going on! Before I forget, I also need to shout out Don Davis, who composed the score for the film. Unfortunately, he has not been that active in the realm of film composing, but “The Matrix” has a score that by the end, becomes a thing of delight. It’s intense, fast-paced, and might even be good for working out at the gym or going for a jog. I do think Keanu Reeves’s performance could have been better, but I do not know if I should put most of the blame on him, the Wachowskis, or maybe both sides. Again, if I were in the director’s chair, I would handle this matter differently, but that’s just me. Either way, I’m going to give “The Matrix” a 9/10.

“The Matrix” is now available on VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, HD DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K Blu-ray. The film will be shown for a multiple night engagement in IMAX as of the week I’m writing this, the week of December 7th and 8th, 2021. It is also available to stream on HBO Max.

KEANU REEVES in Warner Bros. PicturesÕ and Village Roadshow PicturesÕ provocative futuristic action thriller “The Matrix Reloaded,” also starring Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. ©2003 WARNER BROS. – U.S., CANADA, BAHAMAS & BERMUDA. ©2003 VILLAGE ROADSHOW FILMS (BVI) LTD – ALL OTHER TERRITORIES (ALL RIGHTS RESERVED USED BY PERMISSION). PHOTOGRAPHS TO BE USED SOLELY FOR ADVERTISING, PROMOTION, PUBLICITY OR REVIEWS OF THIS SPECIFIC MOTION PICTURE AND TO REMAIN THE PROPERTY OF THE STUDIO. NOT FOR SALE OR REDISTRIBUTION

Thanks for reading this review! Be sure to tune in next week, December 12th, because I’ll be talking about “The Matrix Reloaded!” It will be the talk of the town during my next installment of “The Matrix Reviewed!” Stay tuned! If you want to see this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or a WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Matrix?” What did you think about it? Or, what is the first R rated movie you have ever watched? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Eternals (2021): Chloe Zhao’s First Post-Best Picture Effort

“Eternals” is directed by Chloe Zhao, who is the writer, director, and editor of the current champion of the Academy Awards, “Nomadland.” For those who don’t know, the film was nominated for several awards, took home a few, including Best Picture, so naturally my anticipation for this film, at the time, was honestly HIGHER than “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which seems to be the movie all comic book film fans have been building themselves up to this year. Sounds crazy, but I’m not lying. This film stars Gemma Chan (Transformers: The Last Knight, Raya and the Last Dragon), Richard Madden (Cinderella, Game of Thrones), Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley, The Big Sick), Lia McHugh (The Lodge, American Woman), Brian Tyree Henry (Vice Principals, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), Lauren Ridloff (Sound of Metal, The Walking Dead), Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk, American Animals), Don Lee (Train to Busan, The Neighbors), Harish Patel (Run Fatboy Run, Today’s Special), Kit Harington (Game of Thrones, Pompeii), Salma Hayek (The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Grown Ups), and Angelina Jolie (Salt, Wanted).

This film is about a group of everlasting beings who have lived on earth for 7,000 years. They take the form of human, although they are not exactly human per se. Throughout their time on earth, they take it upon themselves to protect life from the Deviants, a set of invasive creatures who the Eternals finished off by 1521. Or, at least that was they were told originally was their mission. But now, somehow the Deviants made a return, allowing for the Eternals to reassemble after years apart to protect humanity and prevent the Emergence, or an essential rebirth of earth, which had been delayed due to the Blip that eliminated half of the universe’s population, from happening.

This is a lot to take in. And that is going to be a theme throughout this review. This is the first year we have had MCU-specific spinoff shows and FOUR MCU movies released in theaters. Granted, part of this is due to COVID-19 pushing some projects like “Black Widow” and this one back, but still. A few years back we were getting three MCU movies, and I already thought that was getting slightly overwhelming. We’re literally getting FOUR MCU MOVIES IN A HALF A YEAR! We have “Black Widow,” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “Eternals,” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” As far as Marvel shows go, we have “WandaVision,” “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” “Loki,” and “Hawkeye.” To be completely honest, the Marvel shows have mostly had some effect of leaving me underwhelmed. I liked the beginning and end of “WandaVision,” “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” had a strong start, but I pretty much forgot certain portions by the end. “Loki” had a GREAT concept, with some okay execution. Didn’t like the finale though. As for “Hawkeye,” it’s a bit early to judge, but I would not be surprised if I forgot it by a year from now.

Of those eight projects, I mean, holy crap! “Eternals” was honestly my most anticipated of them all! I started off 2020 anticipating “Spider-Man: No Way Home” the most, but when I saw “Nomadland” and all its awards honors, that changed significantly. Chloe Zhao is a director I do not know everything about, but I know a couple things about her. First off, she is a brilliant storyteller. I gave her specifically two awards last year during the Jackoffs, one for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director. The reason why I thought Zhao was a perfect fit for a movie like this is because she has shown that she knows how to balance serious and lighthearted tones, which has been a backbone for some of my favorite Marvel movies. “Captain America: Civil War” takes a serious matter like the aftermath of millions of people dying because the heroes saw something as the greater good, and yet you have Spider-Man throwing jokes every other minute. “Avengers: Infinty War” deals with the potential downfall of half the universe’s population, and yet we have time for Star Lord mocking his newfound companions. “Iron Man 3” deals with Tony Stark having anxiety attacks and insomnia, but he also finds away to throw a witty one-liner at someone in every other scene. It’s serious, yet hilarious, and it never feels like these two tones clash to create something stupid.

As for “Eternals,” this is definitely the most serious film they have done in the MCU to date. Honestly, this film has the lore building that I experienced in “Dune” just this year. This is not to say there is no humor. I think when it comes to that, Kumail Nanjiani’s character of Kingo is a major standout, not to mention his camera guy, Karun, played by Harish Patel. Kingo, at least in his modern outlook, is a Bollywood actor who enjoys the craft of cinema and the arts. I find it quite fascinating to see an Eternal like him blend into the 21st century world as we know it, but I also find his presence interesting as it raises a couple questions. As a movie star, will he ever be cast as an old man due to his long lifespan? As much range as this guy may have, I cannot see him as Gandalf. But in all seriousness, I was quite excited to see Nanjiani in this film as on the surface he was one of my favorite performers of the bunch, and I was not disappointed.

Nanjiani, however, is not the heart and soul of “Eternals,” because the film starts and ends with Gemma Chan’s character of Sersi. As far as Gemma Chan’s performance in this film goes, it has an interesting history, because this is not Chan’s first time playing an MCU character. She did after all have a role in “Captain Marvel” as Minn-Erva. I cannot tell you what I thought of her in that film because I pretty much forgot about most of it by now. Again, there were three MCU projects in 2019, one has to be the forgotten child. It could not compete with “Avengers: Endgame” and “Spider-Man: Far from Home.” But I think this character brings a sense of both maturity and grace to the MCU, maybe in a way that has not been done until now. We’ve seen space aliens, wacky beings, and so on, but I will give everyone credit for coming up with a way to bring someone like Sersi down to earth. Each and every scene she felt like someone who knew the planet for such a long time, but also someone who maybe has seen too much, but despite that, she can’t wait to experience whatever else lies ahead. That sounds like a ton of bull, but I hope it makes at least a nick of sense. I am somewhat fascinated by her fascination, the fact that she spent a lifetime observing the lives of others and being enamored by it all. It’s kind of neat to see someone so invested in something that is not their own. It’s almost like she’s a lifelong nature photographer.

What makes this even more fascinating is that not all the Eternals agree on everything. The dynamic of the Eternals when it comes to this reminds me of one scene from the 2007 “Transformers” movie because Optimus Prime is clearly pro-human, he wants to protect them as he sees goodness in every one of them. He says this despite those same people capturing Bumblebee, while a couple of the other Autobots found them to be violent and destructive. This is where Druig comes in, because even though at the end of the day, he has to follow what is supposedly the greater good for him and others, he does not always see great achievements out of mankind, and part of it is because of factors that he was initially told not to control.

One of the big questions of this film, both before going into it and in the script, is “Why did these Eternal beings never interfere in any human activity?” Why did they not stop Thanos? A being that literally erased half of all living creatures? The movie explains that they cannot interfere in any happenings unless Deviants are involved, which as mentioned, all of those creatures were eliminated, or so they thought. Is it odd that they never fought Thanos? Admittedly, yes. At the same time though, if “Avengers: Infinity War” took its current script and spent time introducing all these new characters, the movie would be bloated as hell. This movie has ten Eternals, and it is probably the densest story in the MCU yet. While “Guardians of the Galaxy” was a team-up movie, it was never as jam-packed as this. Basically, this film goes over the creation of life, while also talking about the potential end of it.

When I think of superheroes, two opposite ideas come to mind. Turning men into gods, like Shazam, Spider-Man, and Captain America. Then there’s the idea of turning gods into men, like Thor, Superman, and Wonder Woman. I say that because those last three heroes come from elsewhere and try to blend in with our kind, which the Eternals have done to a T. You have all these people who have seen things happen through the ages and are in fact the most accurate representation of walking history books in MCU history, and at a certain point, you have not only these people showing an appreciation for mankind, but also a desire to live amongst their kind. We see this with the character of Sprite, because one of her struggles throughout the film is that she is living amongst the humans and she’s in this permanent state. Humans change and evolve, but she cannot.

Much like “Nomadland,” this film looks BEAUTIFUL. This film is shot on multiple gorgeous locations, in addtion to some nice sets. Honestly, this is the best-looking MCU film, and I say that in a way that may sound like a detractor to all the other work that came before it (but it isn’t). “Eternals” really doesn’t look like an MCU film. It’s something that’s kind of dirtier. It’s more rugged, but also pristine in spots. It’s like a nice used car you instantaneously buy off the lot and end up taking for a number of joyrides. I saw this film in IMAX, which shows 26% more footage than traditional movie screens for a film like this, and I honestly felt like I was on the beach with these superpowered beings. I wanted more. In fact, after seeing this film, I kind of do want more, I want a break, there is a lot to take in, so I need rest. But I also want more, and this also allows me to state my one problem with the film.

I love the MCU. I know there is a whole debate on whether or not it is actually “cinema,” which I never understood. Yes, I will partially agree with Martin Scorsese that these films work as theme park rides, but that kind of adds to the, well, cinematic experience. But like a lot of cinema, I end up caring about the characters in this film. And when I say characters, I mean CHARACTERS. There is lot to unpack in “Eternals.” I saw this film with a friend, and by the end of it, I talked about how much I liked it, how fun it was, and the things I liked about it, but the film is unbelievably dense. I’m terrible with names in general, but holy crap, I had trouble remembering some of these heroes’ names! There are times in “Eternals” where I’m watching it and it feels like I’m reading chapters of a textbook. Okay, okay! Slow down just a little! It’s a different take on the MCU than I’ve seen in movies past. I welcome it, in fact I love having a different take. But it also played with my mind a bit.

But I also want to say that when it comes to this year’s MCU projects, despite being my most anticipated of the bunch, it did not end up being my favorite. My favorite, at least thus far, is “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” By the end of that film, it basically becomes the typical MCU fare with magnificent creatures flying in the air, CGI galore, and so on, but it starts in such a way that felt at least kind of different, similar to how “Eternals” was trying to be. The reason why I would rather flock back to that film compared to “Eternals” is because at the end of the day, “Shang-Chi” is about a couple best friends having fun as they discover a whole world bigger than themselves. It’s hilarious, action-packed, and has some of the MCU’s best choreography. Much like “Eternals,” I had a couple scenes where my jaw dropped to the floor. But when it comes to my taste in films, replay value is a massive factor in how much I like a movie. I’ll definitely watch “Eternals” again, but I may have to be in a certain mood to watch it on a Friday night. “Shang-Chi” feels more like a movie you can watch either by yourself with your friends. It’s a perfect movie for just about anyone. I would even recommend it to my mom, and she never watches these types of films. “Eternals” is a movie I can see having a more limited audience. It knows its audience and knows it well, but nevertheless.

If I had to give one more positive to “Eternals,” it would be this. One of the big things about the earlier MCU films is that they were all practically building up to Thanos, the idea that half the universe could literally fade. Thanos was seen as the pinnacle of the fate should be avoided. “Eternals” eased my worries in terms of the MCU’s future because Thanos was such an enormous threat, that my big question was how they could top it. “Eternals” seems to promise something potentially bigger, while also introducing big concepts for the early MCU timeline. I will not go into full detail, but this movie is not only huge in its own scale, but the scale of what may be to come.

In the end, “Eternals” is a film that I want to go back to watch another time, and it honestly, the more I think about it, feels a like a motion picture that ages like a fine wine. I have a feeling that if I go back and watch it again, I will have a greater appreciation for the characters. This is a film that introduces a lot of new characters and concepts to the MCU, a lot of which I like. I think Chloe Zhao has brought and may continue to bring some sparks of glamour and fun to this ongoing universe and I would love to see more of her work in it. Do I think “Eternals” is going to get a Best Picture nomination like “Nomadland?” I don’t think so. There’s still a few movies still coming out this year like “Don’t Look Up” that seem to have potential, and the Rotten Tomatoes scores are not fantastic by MCU standards. But if you want an entertaining, beautiful, lore-stacked story, I highly recommend “Eternals” and I’m going to give it an 8/10.

“Eternals” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks fore reading this review! I have plenty of material coming including reviews for “Red Notice,” that’ll be my next new release to talk about, but also stay tuned for my thoughts on “Ron’s Gone Wrong,” “King Richard,” “Tick Tick… Boom,” and a few other films that I am getting set to talk about! Lots of big stuff coming!

Also, on Sunday, December 5th, my final scheduled review series of 2021 is here! In honor of “The Matrix Resurrections” hitting theaters on December 22nd, I will be reviewing all three main “Matrix” installments. On December 5th, I’ll be reviewing “The Matrix,” followed by “The Matrix Reloaded” on December 12th, and “The Matrix Revolutions” on December 19th. These dates could change, I have not decided yet, but we shall see. I cannot wait to talk about these films, the first one is very significant to me, if you need any hints on what I might say during my review that I’m going to be posting on Sunday. If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Eternals?” What did you think about it? Also, did you see “Nomadland?” What are your thoughts on that? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!