Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023): Huge in Scope, Tiny in Believability, But Serviceable in Enjoyment

“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is directed by Peyton Reed, who also directed the prior two “Ant-Man” films. This film stars Paul Rudd (Dinner for Schmucks, Ghostbusters: Afterlife), Evangeline Lilly (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Lost), Jonathan Majors (Lovecraft Country, Devotion), Kathryn Newton (Blockers, Freaky), Bill Murray (Caddyshack, Groundhog Day), Michelle Pfeiffer (Hairspray, Batman Returns), and Michael Douglas (Fatal Attraction, Wall Street). This is the third installment to the “Ant-Man” franchise, in addition to being the 31st film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In this latest adventure, Scott, Hope, Cassie, Hank, and Janet are taken into the Quantum Realm via a signal device. When they find themselves in this larger than life environment, they must familiarize themselves with its surroundings and survive. One such obstacle is Kang the Conqueror (Majors), who claims he can allow Scott to make up for lost time with his daughter.

“Ant-Man” is not my favorite franchise within the MCU, although I have always found it to be one that has been continuously distinct. For one thing, these films have always come out a couple months after “Avengers” titles. Specifically “Age of Ultron” and “Infinity War.” I have a feeling these films were placed around these release schedules on purpose. Not just for how it fits in the main story, but because of the vibe these movies try to shoot for. In these stories, Ant-Man is not only small in size, but so are the stakes. It is not say there are not any stakes at all, but compared to “Avengers” titles, where practically the whole world is in peril, the main objective is to save a neighborhood, save a community. After “Avengers: Infinity War,” it felt nice to have a more happy go lucky adventure with these characters in “Ant-Man and the Wasp.” I cannot say the movie was great, but there were glimmers of joy to be had. Overall, these movies are not packed with as much doom and gloom as other adventures the MCU has to offer. This time around, it is a little different.

This film, in addition to starting phase 5 and setting the stage what is to come, prominently features Kang the Conqueror, played by Jonathan Majors. This is not Majors’ first outing in the MCU, as he played the “He Who Remains” variant of this character in the Disney+ series “Loki.” Majors did not have a ton to do in the series, as he was only around for the season finale, but he had a particular, non-glorious purpose in the series as he does in this movie. While I cannot say He Who Remains was the major highlight for me in “Loki,” one compliment I can give to Jonathan Majors in “Ant-Man in the Wasp: Quantumania” is that he steals every scene he is in. There was a lot of hype going in regarding his character and I can confirm it is real. Is it the best MCU villain since Thanos? That depends. I will be real with you, the franchise has actually had some decent villains since his appearance, and I may be cheating a bit since it is a progression of a character that was done in another fashion, but I believe “Spider-Man: No Way Home’s” take on Green Goblin was incredible. Possibly the best use of the character on screen. I would say for me, Kang comes close to that level.

Speaking of the film’s stars, let’s talk about Paul Rudd. Paul Rudd has always maintained a certain down to earth feel within his Scott Lang character with each appearance despite going around in tights. I have always liked that. This time around, while still emitting a similar vibe to his previous appearances, Lang starts off this film a bit differently than before. For one thing, the character has evolved with each go, becoming more and more well known. He is a hero, an Avenger, an icon on the streets. In fact, he starts the movie by promoting his new book, “Look Out for the Little Guy.” I like this concept. I think if there is one thing recent Marvel movies have been doing on a consistent basis that fits into the timeline, it is referencing the progression of the universal canon and its characters. It makes sense that Scott Lang, who has probably burnt himself out a little from being a hero, would resort to writing a book about himself and selling it to an audience. It would make for a page turning story and a chance to continue his fame. If there is one thing that is noticeable about the Scott Lang character, and the movie in general, is that it feels like a tale of two stories, or vibes. One vibe is the consistent “so small it feels big” nature of the previous two installments. The other is this “Avengers-level” feel that kicks in somewhere around the Quantum Realm. There is a point in this movie, and Scott Lang as a character is evident of this, where the lighthearted nature I was previously used to seeing kind of takes a backseat. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

This time around, there is a new performer in the shoes of Cassie Lang, specifically Kathryn Newton. This makes sense. In the MCU timeline, there was a time jump for five years, therefore it makes it a tad harder to believe that Abby Ryder Fortson, who played Cassie in the prior “Ant-Man” installments, is the age this movie suggests she is. I was excited to hear Kathryn Newton, an actress who I adored since “Blockers,” would be playing Cassie this time around. She does a fine job here. She is not the standout of the movie, but I thought she brought her own sense of joy to this role even though this is a more mature version of this character. I adored Fortson’s performance as Cassie in the previous works because she matched the happy go lucky nature of the film. Newton, while definitely another animal, maintains some of those consistencies. This is not the first time a teen Cassie has been in the MCU, Emma Fuhrmann made an appearance as the character in “Avengers: Endgame.” But I nevertheless think Newton did a swell job with this film in particular.

My biggest problem with “Ant-Man and the Wasp” has been a consistent problem in the MCU lately. The effects. Now let me be fair, there are various aspects of the Quantum Realm, which is pretty much all CGI, that look breathtaking There are a lot of visuals in this film that pop. If anything, I would put “Ant-Man and the Wasp” in the same boat as “Thor: Love and Thunder,” which has plenty of visuals to enjoy, but there are also some noticeable duds. Despite what I said about the Quantum Realm looking nice, there are also particular shots where I thought I was looking at a green screen or a StageCraft setup. Despite how I did not end up loving “Avatar: The Way of Water,” my problems with the film never concerned its looks. What made that film so awe-inspiring is how real everything looked despite being almost entirely done through computers, motion capture, or digital effects. Even though I disagree with Martin Scorcese’s opinion that Marvel movies are nothing more than theme parks, I will say that “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is almost one of the more theme park-esque adventures in the MCU because it is mostly about spectacle, but it almost utilizes its gimmick too much to the point where nothing feels authentic.

In reality, as immersed as I felt at times into the whole Quantum Realm universe, which was definitely aided by the IMAX experience, the problem with the Quantum Realm that it occasionally felt like a universe that was created for a screen and not one that felt like I could go into it. The best comparison I could use in this case would be to say that the Quantum Realm universe is similar to the environment explored in “Strange World.” It tries to be bonkers, but it gets caught up in its bonkers nature that nothing feels real. “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” despite being an indescribably weird movie that travels to many different universes, feels more real than “Quantumania” and “Strange World.”

Speaking of things that do not feel real, I want to talk about M.O.D.O.K.. Not for long though because there were certain things about the character I did not know going into this film. One thing I will say about M.O.D.O.K. is the same thing I will say about the CGI. At times it works, at other times, it is taken to such an extreme that it felt out of place. There is a certain reveal in this movie that kind of makes sense, but it also spawned a problem that constantly came up. The character’s design. There is a certain “design” if you will, to this character that is so off-putting that it makes Power Rangers costumes look more realistic. I will not say more. This is all I have to give on the character. It adds to the plate of this film’s occasionally lackluster visual outlook.

But at the same time, this is honestly disappointing to say because the MCU, which has continued to set a competitive bar for its visuals year after year despite having multiple movies come out, is starting to worsen its craft. Part of it is because this universe is focusing way more on quantity than it used to. With so many shows on Disney+ in addition to the movies coming out months apart, the MCU is starting to feel like school instead of a fun franchise. The movies are part of the core classroom curriculum, the television shows are homework, and the shorter form specials like “The Guardians of the Galaxy: Holiday Special” are extra credit. But when it was just a bunch of movies, it felt simple and easy to understand. Now having watched “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” for instance, one of the questions I have had before, during, and after watching said movie regards how many people needed to watch “WandaVision” to fully appreciate or understand everything that was going on. As much as I enjoyed certain shows like “WandaVision” and “Ms. Marvel,” if there were a way to get back to a time where the Marvel Cinematic Universe were only CINEMA specific, I would like to find out about it. The quality has suffered while the quantity has grown. If I had to give one solid mark to phase 4, it is that while no movie is perfect, I liked all of them. I am just waiting for the day when I can love each movie I see, or not quickly forget about one as much. I loved “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” I loved “Shang-Chi.” But I would rather forget about a vast majority of the MCU shows. “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is a sign that the MCU still has its wheels on the wagon, but if they continue to pump out as much content as they are making right now, they might need to realign those wheels a bit.

In fact, one of my bigger problems with this film and how it connects to the whole “see this to understand that” thing is one of the post-credits scenes. Which by the way, if you are planning to stay after the movie, there are two. For the record, the post-credit scenes are not awful. In fact, I liked both of them. But the second movie harkens back to my worry with the MCU feeling like school. Because one of the scenes were specific to an upcoming television program. My apprehension, which could go away, I reserve the right to change my mind, is that this teased television event might not be understood as well unless you saw “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” I am not saying this has happened with every recent Marvel project, and I am not saying it will. That said, this movie reinstates my fear that it will.

“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” seems to bridge the gap between where the previous saga, the Infinity Saga, culminates, and sets a stage as to where the Multiverse Saga could be going. This does not start the new saga. We are just starting phase 5 and the Multiverse Saga already kicked off in phase 4. Although one of the most poignant notions about “Avengers: Endgame” is the realization of how much people have missed for five years. When Thanos snapped in “Avengers: Infinity War,” he basically initiated a five-year, luck-based, societal imprisonment. Meanwhile, Lang spent a ton of that time stuck in the Quantum Realm. But the film manages to bridge a gap between lost time and the breaking of the multiverse. It is essentially saying we are moving on from one thing to the next. Unfortunately, it also means that a seemingly investing idea about recovering lost time occasionally takes a back seat in the film for more bonkers, seemingly brooding CGI mayhem. I could tell Peyton Reed was intentionally making a film that separates itself from its two predecessors. I am not saying “Ant-Man” is not allowed to be serious. But I am saying that “Ant-Man” works better when it is lighthearted, but still action-packed.

In the end, “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” ranks down the middle for me in terms of the “Ant-Man” trilogy. While this is not as good as the first movie, there are more redeeming elements for me in this third movie than the second. It honestly may come down to pure personal tastes. At its core, this is a film that is full of inconsistencies. In one moment, the story is lighthearted. In another, it is dark. In one moment, the effects are stunning. In another, they are crap. In one moment, there is tons of comedy. In another, the humor takes a backseat. The film is not abysmal, but to call it a masterpiece would be generous. If anything, “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” reminds me of “Thor: Love and Thunder.” Both films are wildly inconsistent, despite there being a series of moments that land on their feet with ease. In fact, another way both films are similar is their score, because I am going to give “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” a 6/10.

I was going to give “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” a 7/10 because I had a great time with it in the theater, but the more I thought about it. A lot of my negatives, in addition to the inconsistencies, stood out, and that muddied the waters a bit. It also seems to work more as setup for what is to come as opposed to a self-contained story. This is not to say the story is uninteresting, but its promises seem to stand out more than what is happening right now. Not a bad movie, but not a great movie either. Nevertheless, it might be a good time at the theater, so I would still, by a slight edge, recommend it.

“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed this review, why not check out some of my other ones? I have reviewed a ton of superhero fare over the past year including “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” “Black Adam,” “DC League of Super-Pets,” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” Check those reviews out at your convenience!

Also, be sure to stay tuned for March 5th, because I will be dropping the 5th Annual Jack Awards! This is the latest edition of my painstakingly prepared film awards show, hopefully to brilliant execution. In addition, there will be video content which will also be posted on my YouTube channel. If you would like to vote for Best Picture for this year’s show, you can do that by clicking the link right here! It will take you to a Google form where you can choose one of the ten movies I previously nominated. May the Best Picture win. To check out the official nominations, click here! 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 “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania?” What did you think about it? Or, which “Ant-Man” movie is your favorite? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!


A Man Called Otto (2022): Tom Hanks Hits a Grump in the Road

“A Man Called Otto” is directed by Marc Forster (World War Z, The Kite Runner) and stars Tom Hanks (Toy Story, Cast Away) as Otto. The performers joining him in the cast are Mariana Treviño (How to Break Up with Your Douchebag, Overboard), Rachel Keller (Tokyo Vice, Legion), Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (The Magnificent Seven, Murder on the Orient Express), Truman Hanks, and Mike Birbiglia (Orange Is the New Black, Billions). In this adaptation of the Swedish novel and film by the name of “A Man Called Ove,” Otto is a man who has had it all. When a new neighbor moves in, Otto develops a companionship that may turn his frown upside down.

Complaining. It is about as human as breathing. Complaining is the foundation of many protagonists. Some of the most iconic film protagonists of all time started off their story by complaining. In “Star Wars,” Luke Skywalker complains about having to live on the farm for another year. In “Ratatouille,” Remy complains about the way rats treat food compared to mankind. In “Risky Business,” Joel Goodson complains about the landscape of high school as it comes to an end while he tries to pass his exams and get into a good university. We love to complain, and I have done my fair share of it over the years. And I assure a lot of people reading this have too. Now this story centers around that entirely. Otto is an aged man who has seen a lot over the years, maybe too much. He thinks he is smarter than everyone else, and he simultaneously thinks society as a whole is getting dumber. When I think of Tom Hanks, this is a more subversive role for him, much like his appearance the recent shiny, polished turd known as “Elvis.”

Much like “Elvis,” I was not a huge fan of “A Man Called Otto.” Not because I think it is a bad adaptation. I have not seen the original movie or read the novel. Therefore, I have nothing to compare it to. But if I have to be real, this movie was not for me.

As someone who has reviewed movies on the web since 2016, I have learned that sometimes I can be predisposed to liking certain things. I love “Star Wars,” so I often get excited for whatever the franchise has coming up. I am a huge fan of J.K. Simmons, therefore when he is in a new project, I am usually curious. Similarly, when I look back at my experience regarding “A Man Called Otto,” I may have been predisposed to thinking I would not like it. Not because Hanks is playing someone who is complaining, but because the main character himself is complaining. What do I mean? Honestly, I have had enough of it in real life. Look at me, complaining about complaining. Hey, everyone! Time for a new drinking game! Take a shot every time the Movie Reviewing Moron says “complaining!”

I am not saying that characters in a movie should not complain. But what I liked about Luke Skywalker is that when I watched him, complaining never felt like the definitive aspect of his character. Sure, he definitely whined, he definitely did not want to do certain things for particular reasons, but Luke Skywalker felt like a relatable character, at least to me. Part of it is because of his complaining, but it was executed in a way that was palatable. I cannot say the same for Otto. While there is noticeable character development in “A Man Called Otto,” the character of Otto starts the movie calling out everything in sight that he views as unfit or unlike his worldview, and it is hard for him to stop. There are few things that are as important in life as first impressions. If I go to a pizza shop and I end up making a wacko face on my first bite of their pie, that is not the best of signs. I might hesitate to come back. Tom Hanks, or perhaps director Marc Forster, is the pizza shop owner. And the character of Otto, unfortunately, is a lackluster pie.

Although speaking of predisposal, part of me wonders how much the supposed subversiveness of this role rubbed me the wrong way. Tom Hanks is, perhaps stereotypically, America’s dad. And seeing him in a light like this felt jarring. But if you ask me, I do not know if that is the case. Because in reality, Tom Hanks is a great actor. But he feels miscast here. Yes, name recognition helps, but he nevertheless sometimes fails to bind with this role. Plus, after seeing him in “Elvis,” where he potentially gave my least performance he has done as the weirdly accented Tom Parker, and now this, I am beginning to assume that this turn where he plays meaner or comparatively pessimistic roles is not working out. I recently watched “Spirited,” the brand new holiday movie, with my family last December. During said viewing, my mom said she does was not used to seeing Ryan Reynolds or Will Ferrell sing or do anything musical-related. As far as I’m concerned, Ferrell and Reynolds had range whereas Hanks is trying his best and he does not have everything down to a science. In some ways, his character is comes off as one-dimensional as a ragdoll. I love Tom Hanks, but this is not his best work.

This is not to say that “A Man Called Otto” is entirely bad. If anything, it is an interesting concept for a movie that is not done as well as I would have hoped. There are characters I liked in the film including Marisol, played by Mariana Treviño. Every scene she is in, she warms everything up, including my brain. She is perhaps the most adorable character in the entire film. If I could spend an entire weekend with this character, I might take that chance.

The film, which again, is based on previous works from Sweden, also has a nice touch to honor where it came from. There is a scene set in a cafe where Otto shows Marisol a certain usual he enjoys. The moment he explained what it was, I thought it was a nice little touch. As much as I dig on this film, I will recognize some small glimmers of charm it carries.

Although despite the small glimmers of charm, when I take everything that I saw leading up to this film’s final moments, I look back at the film negatively. Almost in as grumpy of a state as Otto himself. There are funny moments in the film, but I cannot say they had me laughing out loud. There are poignant moments in the film, but I never felt a ton of emotional weight. Even though there are certain complexities in regard to Otto’s character that make him interesting, I never felt intrigued enough to say that my time was not being wasted. Ultimately, this film has some likable supporting characters, like the recently mentioned Marisol, but the same cannot be said for the film’s main character.

Though I must add one final note. There has been a lot of talk lately about “nepo-babies” in Hollywood and the film industry. Personally, I have mixed feelings on it given how I can support family business, but it could also exclude equally, more talented, or even more aspiring individuals who hope to enter this industry. With that in mind, I must say this film’s use of Tom Hanks’s son, Truman Hanks, was not only appropriate, but made for some highlights. Truman Hanks plays a prominent role in the film as the younger version of Otto. He is seen in several scenes and he plays the part well. I have no idea to what degree Truman Hanks is hoping to take acting seriously much like his father, but he did a good job in this film as Otto’s younger interpretation.

In the end, “A Man Called Otto” is a shocking movie. Because if you told me that I would watch two movies in the span of a year where I am not fond of Tom Hanks’s character, in addition to his performance, I would have slapped you Will Smith style. But here we are. I love Tom Hanks as an actor, and I would continue to watch anything he is in. Heck, they just announced “Toy Story 5.” I would watch that. But as much as I respect Tom Hanks for trying to spice things up from his usual flair, I think his “nicer” performances work because he executed them so much better. Although art is subjective, so maybe this flair works for others. But it did not work for me. I am going to give “A Man Called Otto” a 5/10.

“A Man Called Otto” is now playing in theatres everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for the brand new MCU installment, “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” I had the chance to see the film last weekend, and I will have the review for you to read sometime next week.

Also coming on March 5th, it’s the Jack Awards! Scene Before’s annual awards show is back with a new and hopefully improved name! Get ready for another unnecessarily long celebration of the past year in film with exclusive video content, also featured on my YouTube channel! The nominations for the show are already online, and if you would like to vote for Best Picture, click the link right here, it will take you to a poll and you can vote for one of the ten nominees! May the best picture win.

If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “A Man Called Otto?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a performance that you hate from an actor you love? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The 5th Annual Jack Awards (NOMINATIONS)

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Welcome to the 5th Annual Jack Awards nominations! The full ceremony will be available on on Sunday March 5th, one week before the Oscars. But we all know which show between these two actually matter, right? For those of you who have followed Scene Before and for some time, you would know that I traditionally do an award show every year, but the major difference this time around, is the name. It used to be called the Jackoff Awards, a name I chose because it won a Twitter poll. But I will be real with you. The name is getting old, and so am I. So it is time the name grows up with me. This is the same awards show as usual, but with a different title. This is not an alternate universe. I am not typing this with hot dog fingers, and John Krasinski is not pretending to be the smartest man alive.

2022 has brought a return to hints of normalcy in the realm of cinema. While COVID-19 is still a thing and chains like Regal are finding themselves in trouble, we are seeing the return of billion dollar films with titles like “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Avatar: The Way of Water.” We are also receiving more blockbuster hits like “The Batman” and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Additionally, Bob Iger and Mickey Mouse are having morning coffees together again. Although despite this return of the ordinary, it is time to focus on the extraordinary.

It is time to present the nominees. Each category listed below has five nominees, except Best Picture. That one has ten. Per usual, given how I have already listed my favorite movies of the year, I will not be voting for best picture. I am handing the vote over to the general public based on the ten films I have chosen. The films you are about to see listed are the most exceptional and out of this world of any feature projects to be made in 2022. Here are the nominees for the 5th Annual Jack Awards.


  • The Deer King – Masashi Ando, Masayuki Miyaji, Keiko Matsushita
  • Goodbye, Don Glees! – Atsuko Ishizuka, Kenji Nakamoto, Sho Tanaka
  • Marcel the Shell with Shoes On – Dean Fleischer Camp, Elisabeth Holm, Andrew Goldman, Caroline Kaplan, Paul Mezey
  • Puss in Boots: The Last Wish – Joel Crawford, Mark Swift
  • Turning Red – Domee Shi, Lindsey Collins


  • The Adam Project 
  • Avatar: The Way of Water 
  • Brahmastra: Part One – Shiva 
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness 
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once 


  • Brad Pitt – Babylon
  • Brendan Gleeson – The Banshees of Inisherin
  • Ethan Hawke – The Black Phone
  • Michael Ward – Empire of Light
  • Ke Huy Quan – Everything Everywhere All at Once


  • Kerry Condon – The Banshees of Inisherin
  • Angela Bassett – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
  • Jamie Lee Curtis – Everything Everywhere All at Once
  • Stephanie Hsu – Everything Everywhere All at Once
  • Brittany Snow – X 


  • Avatar: The Way of Water 
  • The Batman
  • Devotion 
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once
  • Top Gun: Maverick 


  • Avatar: The Way of Water 
  • The Batman 
  • Devotion
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once 
  • Top Gun: Maverick 


  • Babylon – Mary Zophres
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Ruth E. Carter
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once – Shirley Kurata
  • Pearl – Malgosia Turzanska
  • See How They Run – Odile Dicks-Mireaux


  • Babylon – Florencia Martin
  • Elvis – Catherine Martin, Karen Murphy
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once – Jason Kisvarday
  • The Fabelmans – Rick Carter
  • See How They Run – Amanda McArthur


  • The Batman – Michael Giacchino 
  • Babylon – Justin Hurwitz 
  • Nope – Michael Abels 
  • Pearl – Tyler Bates, Tim Williams 
  • Smile – Cristobal Tapia de Veer 


  • Babylon – Heba Thorisdottir, Jamie Lee McIntosh
  • The Batman – Michael Marino, Naomi Donne
  • Elvis – Jason Baird, Mark Coulier, Louise Coulston, Shane Thomas
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once – Michelle Chung, Anissa Salazar
  • X – Sarah Rubano


  • The Banshees of Inisherin – Martin McDonagh 
  • Barbarian – Zach Cregger 
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once – Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert 
  • The Fabelmans – Steven Spielberg, Tony Kushner 
  • The Menu – Seth Reiss, Will Tracy 


  • Emergency – KD Dávila 
  • Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery – Rian Johnson 
  • Marcel the Shell with Shoes On – Dean Fleischer-Camp, Jenny Slate, Nick Paley 
  • Pearl – Ti West, Mia Goth 
  • Smile – Parker Finn 


  • Barbarian – Joe Murphy 
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once – Paul Rogers 
  • The Fabelmans – Sarah Broshar, Michael Kahn 
  • Pearl – Ti West 
  • Top Gun: Maverick – Eddie Hamilton 


  • The Banshees of Inisherin – Ben Davis 
  • Empire of Light – Roger Deakins 
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once – Larkin Seiple 
  • Nope – Hoyte Van Hoytema 
  • Top Gun: Maverick – Claudio Miranda 


  • Lift Me Up – Tems, Rihanna, Ryan Coogler, Ludwig Goransson (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever) 
  • Sunny Side Up Summer – Loren Bouchard, Nora Smith (The Bob’s Burgers Movie) 
  • Deva Deva – Arijit Singh, Jonita Gandhi, Pritam Chakraborty (Brahmastra: Part One – Shiva) 
  • This Is a Life – Ryan Lott, David Byrne, Mitski (Everything Everywhere All at Once) 
  • Hold My Hand – Lady Gaga (Top Gun: Maverick) 


  • Damien Chazelle – Babylon
  • Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert – Everything Everywhere All at Once
  • Steven Spielberg – The Fabelmans
  • Rian Johnson – Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
  • Ti West – Pearl


  • Colin Farrell – The Banshees of Inisherin
  • John Boyega – Breaking
  • Austin Butler – Elvis
  • Ralph Fiennes – The Menu
  • Branden Fraser – The Whale


  • Margot Robbie – Babylon
  • Olivia Colman – Empire of Light
  • Michelle Yeoh – Everything Everywhere All at Once
  • Mia Goth – Pearl
  • Cate Blanchett – Tár


  • The Banshees of Inisherin – Graham Broadbent, Peter Czernin, Martin McDonaugh
  • Barbarian – Arnon Milchan, Roy Lee, Raphael Margules, J.D. Lifshitz
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once – Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert, Jonathan Wang
  • The Fabelmans – Kristie Macosko Krieger, Steven Spielberg, Tony Kushner
  • Marcel the Shell with Shoes On – Elisabeth Holm, Andrew Goldman, Caroline Kaplan, Paul Mezey, Dean Fleischer Camp
  • The Menu – Adam McKay, Betsy Koch, Will Ferrell
  • Pearl – Jacob Jaffke, Ti West, Kevin Turen, Harrison Kreiss
  • Puss in Boots: The Last Wish – Mark Swift
  • Smile – Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, Isaac Klausner, Robert Salerno
  • Turning Red – Lindsey Collins

By the way, if you would like to vote for Best Picture, click the link right here. It will take you to a Google form that lists the ten mentioned choices. These picks are based on my countdown for the top 10 BEST movies of 2022, all of which remain the same as when I made the list. May the best picture win.

Thanks for reading this post! The 5th Annual Jack Awards arrives on Scene Before March 5th! This year we will be honoring the 2022 slate of films, and per usual, there will be more than just awards! This year, in between the action, I will be showing the grand opening of a brand new store that every physical media lover should check out before they die, and I will be presenting my first time at Disneyland. This year’s awards show is going to be great, it is coming along, and I cannot wait for you all to check it out. Speaking of checking things out, if you would like to watch the official trailer for this year’s show, watch the video below!

If you want to be alerted when the show goes up and know more about upcoming content, follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! Scene Before is your click to the flicks, and once again, may the best picture win.

Plane (2023): Gerard Butler and Crew Thrill by Air and Land

“Plane” is directed by Jean-François Richet (Assault on Precinct 13, Blood Father) and stars Gerard Butler (300, Gods of Egypt), Mike Colter (Evil, Luke Cage), Yoson An (Mortal Engines, Mulan), and Tony Goldwyn (Ghost, The Last Samurai). This film is about a pilot and a group of passengers who crash land together on a plane and find themselves in the middle of a war zone. Their goal, in addition to getting back in the air, is to survive to the very end.

I will not lie, “Plane” sounds like the most generic title that one could have come up with for a movie like this. However, as the old saying goes, never judge a book by its cover. Although when it comes to the cover, I cannot say it was that attractive because the trailer, while it sold me, never resembled anything more than camp. Between Gerard Butler playing the lead, the simple concept, and of course, the title, “Plane” did not necessarily look like a dumpster fire, but to call it the second coming of Jesus would be exaggerative. Oh yeah, this film also released in January. There is that too. Unfortunately, due to other movies being a priority, life events, and me doing my countdowns, I never got around to seeing “Plane” when it came out. I waited until this month, and I ended up going to go see the movie with my dad.

Once the movie ended, my dad and I both agreed on one thing, “Plane” was a good time.

When it comes to the camp factor mentioned earlier, that fails to make its presence known in this story. The film is not serious, but if there were a tone to describe “Plane,” the best word to use is “natural.” If there were a Goldilocks Zone for tone, “Plane” lands right there.

Perhaps the most desirable aspect that makes plane fly smoothly is the characters. All of them are likable, well-written, and well-realized. Gerard Butler pilots this craft of a film with ease and allows everyone else onboard to shine alongside him.

If I have to give a favorite character in the entire cast, it would not even be someone who happens to be amongst the plane’s passengers or staff, it is someone a bit more behind the scenes. That individual would have to be Scarsdale, played by Tony Goldwyn. No disrespect to anyone else who worked on this movie, because there was not one performance I disliked amongst the cast, but when it comes to energy, Scarsdale defines the night and day difference between him and the rest of the characters. He steals almost every scene he is in. He is serious, all business, and comes off as someone who will do anything, no matter the cost, to accomplish his goals. I love his performance, and given what kind of movie this is, it is all the more fitting.

Yes, my friends, a pun is officially coming in for a landing. “Plane” flies by. This movie has a runtime of 107 minutes. Not the longest movie, not the shortest movie. Whether it is long or short is almost irrelevant because of its 107 minutes on screen, the movie refuses to waste a single one. I was never bored. I was never annoyed. I was never nauseated. My eyes were glued to the screen the whole time and I had a joyous experience with these characters. Whether that is referring to Brodie Torrance, the recently mentioned Scarsdale, and I will even include the main antagonist, Datu Junmar, portrayed Evan Dane Taylor, who dialed up my intimidation.

If you are looking for a movie that is simple, effective, and fun, there are few options currently in the theater that match this one. There is nothing deep to “Plane,” but the film’s minimalistic nature is perfect for it. In fact, speaking of minimalism, if you watch the movie, you would notice that the plane is nowhere near capacity. There are quite a few passengers onboard, but there are also enough to justify a story like this and make sure enough characters have one glimmer of the spotlight. Obviously, this is not the passengers’ movie. It is at the end of the day, Gerard Butler’s. But having this many passengers on the plane allows the story to be more personal for everyone involved. Yes, there is an argument to make that having a full plane would have made a large impact because of how many people crash, but I like the approach this movie makes because we spend more time on individual characters and I am not thinking that the movie refuses to tell someone’s story. The movie takes some time to show that the passengers have a reason to get to their destination or someone wants to lash out because of what is happening. Now do I remember select passengers more than others? Yes, but I nevertheless respect the film for trying to give everyone some attention.

I am also not going to pretend that “Plane” is a fresh idea. There are glimmers of other stories or even characters that one could pick out here. It can also be said that the structure has a by the numbers feel to it at times. But it does not change the fact that some of the structure is done well. You can call something cliché, but if you entertain with those clichés, they are not a problem.

This film has been out for a month, and if it is playing in a theater near you, I recommend checking it out there. Not only because it is a good movie, which I have already explained a ton in this review, but I think the experience has its moments too. This film is occasionally ridiculous, but it is the kind of ridiculous I would put “Fast Five” in. It still manages to maintain a sense of reality within its far-fetched nature. The plane crash scene is a definite thrill. The shots were tense, the audio was commanding, and at one point, the scene itself made my brain jitter. Again, the film is simple and effective. But it does not mean it forgets to check off a box that includes fun. “Plane” is an exciting ride that is well-directed by Jean-François Richet. Additionally, it contains a solid cast led by Gerard Butler. “Plane” is a throwback action extravaganza made for a modern age. Check it out.

In the end, “Plane” is… plain great. It is still early in the year, and there are probably many more excellent movies on the horizon, but “Plane” is a solid time at the theater. If you like tense action, this movie is for you. If you like simple premises done well, this movie is for you. Is it the next “Citizen Kane?” Absolutely not. But I say that knowing that “Plane” is a fun movie on its own and not just a big, dumb, Boeing 747-sized eyesore. I am going to give “Plane” a 7/10.

I am also delighted to know that a sequel to “Plane” has recently been announced. Personally, I approve. I cannot wait to see what’s next.

“Plane” is now playing in theaters. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for “A Man Called Otto,” the brand new movie starring Tom Hanks as a grumpy man who has had it all.

Also, this Sunday, February 19th, I will be revealing the nominees for the 5th Annual Jack Awards! Formerly known as the Jackoff Awards, the 5th Annual Jack Awards will honor the 2022 slate in movies with comedy bits, trips to movie-related locations, and my picks for the best designs, performances, and technical achievements throughout the year in film! Per usual, Best Picture will be chosen by the public, so stay tuned for the poll that will showcase the list of nominees. The ceremony will be available on on March 5th! 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 “Plane?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite movie involving air travel? Not outer space, but air. You know, like the sky. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Infinity Pool (2023): Don’t Do Drugs, Because We Will Get More Psychologically Mind-Numbing Bores Such As This

“Infinity Pool” is directed by Brandon Cronenberg (Possessor, Antiviral) and stars Alexander Skarsgård (The Legend of Tarzan, The Northman), Mia Goth (X, A Cure for Wellness), and Cleopatra Coleman (In the Shadow of the Moon, The Last Man on Earth) in a film… that I honestly would not be able to describe in a single sentence if I were asked to do so on the street. It is something… Though in all seriousness, “Infinity Pool” centers around a couple, James and Em Foster, who travel to an island for a getaway. When the couple is involved in an accident, what is supposed to be a relaxing trip turns into a nightmarish and outlandish marathon of events.

I often describe January, and February for that matter, as the time where movies go to die. When I say that, I often refer to the movies being dead on arrival, uninteresting, or just plain lazy. “Infinity Pool,” which premiered at Sundance on January 21st and had a wide release on January 27th, does not meet those three January movie trademarks. While I was looking forward to other movies more, “Infinity Pool,” at the very least, had my interest. It looked meticulously crafted. I know even if a movie looks bad, there are people behind the scenes who aspire to make something significant out of it, and this definitely looked significant, not to mention unique. To be honest though, “Infinity Pool” did not sell me with the trailer. Although to be fair, it did not look like the easiest film to market, which may be another January trademark. Yes, Alexander Skarsgård is a great actor and an increasingly notable name. Yes, Mia Goth is hot right now, especially amongst horror junkies. Yes, the film is written and directed by the son of a man who has made his mark on the industry for years. But if I were a general audience member, I would probably slip past this film. Plus, as I have stated several times, if there were a genre I would consider to be my weakest, horror is a contender.

I saw “Infinity Pool” over a week and a half ago, and I cannot stop thinking about it.

Specifically, about how tiringly dull it is.

Now I will be fair to “Infinity Pool,” like I was saying about the trailer, this film is exquisitely crafted. The shots consistently shine, the locations are easy on the eyes, the set design fits in every frame, the costumes are top notch. When it comes to style, “Infinity Pool” succeeds.

I also like the performances. All of the main characters are well portrayed and nobody feels miscast. No one on screen feels out of place. In fact, if I had to pick one performer who definitely feels like they are in their place, it would be Mia Goth as Gabi Bauer, a fan of author James Foster, the film’s protagonist. Her performance is perhaps the most larger than life of all the ones in this film, especially compared to the main couple, but that is also what I love about it. This makes the performance stand out, even though I found certain moments with said character to be a nuisance. Although maybe that was the point. That said, the point did not land with me. If you know the saying that not every movie is for everyone, maybe that could apply to my reaction to “Infinity Pool.” It definitely was not for me.

I will give credit to “Infinity Pool” for having moments and concepts that fit within its narrative. There were times where the story had my attention. There are some occasionally disturbing moments. Although when it comes to this film’s sequence of events, there was a moment around or past the halfway point where I just tuned out. The runtime for “Infinity Pool” is less than two hours. If I had to be honest, this film feels like it goes for two and a half hours, possibly longer. Structurally, this film is not the simplest to follow and may warrant a second viewing. Although to be quite frank, this movie shows that first impressions matter because some of the things that happen in this movie did not interest me. If you cannot keep me entertained the first time, then why should I return for a second time?

If I had to pick a film “Infinity Pool” would remind me of, it would be “Midsommar.” Both films have their similarities and differences. Off the bat, a similarity that comes to mind is the fact that the main character travels to a foreign environment only to have things get out of hand. Said environments and happenings within them are different, but nevertheless. Although speaking of similarities, if I had to note a similarity between these two horror flicks, it is that they did not necessarily scare me. There are eerie moments and concepts, but as both movies progressed, there came a certain point where I was more annoyed than I was scared. For “Midsommar,” my annoyance grew and peaked in the middle of the climax. In “Infinity Pool,” I had glimmers of annoyance beforehand, but it increased around when the climax started. I respect “Infinity Pool” for never backing down on anything that happens in it, for the most part, I will address something about that in the next paragraph. But when I left “Infinity Pool” I left feeling less like I was going to have a nightmare and instead thinking to myself that I have seen movies that are scarier, not to mention better paced, despite some of the horrific moments this movie provides.

Fun fact about “Infinity Pool,” when this film premiered at Sundance, an unedited, NC-17 version of the film was played. When this film was widely released, an R-rated, edited version was shown. This film is rather disturbing as is, and I am not sure what this film cut out, maybe some nudity or something, but this film is unhinged to the tenth degree. Even though I lack the motivation to watch “Infinity Pool” a second time, I am curious to know how far Brandon Cronenberg was trying to go for this film, because depending on your personality, this might not be an easy film to watch. Again, I found it more headache-inducing than disturbing, but I respect Cronenberg for going as far as he could.

It is hard to come up with any other last minute pros regarding “Infinity Pool.” Although if I had to, I would say some of the dialogue is well-written. I was somewhat invested in the story, even in moments where I was tuned out, there were slight glimmers of my attention that were still intact. I just wish I found the story and script more compelling and less infuriating to sit through. For that reason, I cannot recommend “Infinity Pool,” though I am sure it will find its audience.

In the end, “Infinity Pool” is a bloody terrible time that I wish I could have gotten back. There are moments of this movie that I imagine would have been enhanced had I been drunk or high, but I do not partake in such activities, therefore I just settled for being sober and bored. I had a Diet Pepsi, which has caffeine in it. That is a drug. But I cannot say it kept me awake. While “Infinity Pool” comes off as a greater piece of art than the uninspired hour and a half-long NFL ad in disguise known as “80 for Brady,” it does not mean I want to watch the film again in the near future. I am going to give “Infinity Pool” a 4/10.

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

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for “Plane,” the all new action flick starring Gerard Butler as an airline pilot. I just saw the film last week, and be sure to expect my review for it next week! Also, on Sunday, February 19th, I will be announcing the nominees for the 5th Annual Jack Awards! I will drop all the names you need to know and a form where you can vote for Best Picture! The ceremony drops on March 5th, only on 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 “Infinity Pool?” What did you think about it? Or, what is the slowest horror movie you have ever seen? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Best Buy Raises Physical Media Prices – What Happened?!

UPDATE: Some of these prices have altered some time after this was recently published.

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! If you know me personally, you would know my preferred way of watching movies at home is through physical media. I have bought and received an excessive amount of DVDs, Blu-rays, 4Ks, Steelbooks, and other forms of physical media over the years. For those who ask, I do stream. But physical media has various pros that make me gravitate towards it before turning on Prime Video or HBO Max for instance. Pros like bonus features, not needing an Internet connection, and the idea that when you buy a movie physically, you have the opportunity to own it forever. I love physical media, but having looked around stores like Target and Best Buy in recent years, it is evident that to some degree, it is not as relevant or popular as it once was. Heck, one store I have frequented for physical media over the years, specifically New England-based chain Newbury Comics, has withered the DVD and Blu-ray sections at most of their stores. On a somewhat consistent basis, I feel like a caveman. I feel as if in one moment or the next, I will see physical media’s demise. This week has cemented why I feel this way. Case and point, my recent experience at Best Buy.

I go to Best Buy every Tuesday, as they have been a primary source for my physical media collection. They have all the newest titles, collectors’ editions, and the employees are typically friendly. I will not lie when I say they have turned me off recently because they downgraded the myBestBuy rewards program. I once had a 45-day return policy, which has now downgraded to 15. I used to be able to buy anything online with free shipping, now they have a $35 minimum. Plus, racking points and $5 rewards has become more challenging because my loyalty from buying various products allowed me to earn points quicker. This was a turn off, and I said to myself I will stop shopping at Best Buy. I did not, however. They still had decent inventory, a nice atmosphere, and reasonable prices. Keep that last one in mind.

It is Tuesday, January 31st, 2023. I visit the Best Buy 10 minutes from my house, and I get excited for what is to come. But I did hear through various videos on YouTube that Best Buy has been increasing their prices. I went in with the thought in the back of my mind, but I also acknowledged that this could just be a tiny uptick on select items. While not every item in the store had their price jacked up like there’s no tomorrow, quite a few were. In fact, some prices, are ludicrous. One example is the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray for “Amsterdam,” a terrible movie on its own. I would not even pay a few dollars to watch it a second time, much less what Best Buy actually charged me. How much are we talking? $39.99. For the record, when the film came out physically, this copy cost $33.99 at Best Buy, the price you can get it for on Amazon right now.

When I saw this price, I knew something was off. If you ever go into the DVD section of Barnes and Noble, that is if the store has one, this is practically what they would charge. Another interesting charge comes from “Halloween Ends,” another movie I had no intention of buying because I was not a fan of it. But the prices for its copies went up too. Well, mostly. If you want to buy the standard Blu-ray (center), you have to pay $34.99. Standard Blu-rays at Best Buy are normally $24.99 max. Not enough? Let me remind you that the 4K Blu-ray (right) happens to be $44.99. This was not even the Steelbook, which by definition, is a collector’s item! In fact, the Steelbook (left) for “Halloween Ends,” actually costs less than both the standard Blu-ray and 4K! If you really want the collector’s packaging, get it now for $32.99 before you are left with the ripoff prices mentioned earlier.

Now if you are an avid collector like me, you might be thinking, it cannot get much worse than $44.99, right? I wish I could say you happen to be right. But Best Buy shows why cannot have nice things.

One of the better movies of the past year, “Bullet Train,” in addition to some other Sony titles, also had a price increase. While the Blu-ray is at a barely passable, but still odd price of $26.99, the same cannot be said for the 4K, which is a whopping $45.99. At Target, the same 4K edition of this movie costs $29.99. Therefore, if you buy three 4K copies of “Bullet Train” at Target, you will end up spending a couple bucks less than if you bought two copies of the same movie at Best Buy. I am not a financial expert, but consider this some basic money management skills. If that is not enough, did I mention “Uncharted” is $45.99 too? Maybe that is not enough either, because the Steelbook edition of the film is $55.99. What makes it that price? The ring that comes with it? What else justifies it? Does Tom Holland fly out of the television while I watch the movie and exchange hi-fives? Depending on where I live and what format I choose, I probably could have gone to see this movie in the theater four times for less money. And yes, if you look at the Steelbook’s history, which is fascinating to say the least, $55.99 is not the most expensive it has been in its cycle. But it is ridiculous nevertheless.

And it looks like Best Buy has no plan in sight to stop this. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” which releases on home video this month, has two Steelbooks coming out, $38.99 apiece. Other new release titles coming soon like “Strange World” and “Babylon” have Steelbooks coming out priced at $39.99. I do not care about the quality of those movies. If I preordered both of them right now, I would be wasting over $80 after taxes! I am not going to pretend that buying physical media is the cheapest thing in the world, but I would say there is a threshold when it comes to this.

Although in the case of Best Buy, it seems as if they do not care. For one thing, if customers spend $45.99 on “Bullet Train,” that is extra money in the company’s pocket. That is how the world works. The other thing that seems to be going on here is that a lot of these movies are being advertised with sale prices for Totaltech members. What is Totaltech? Basically, it is a $199.99/year membership that gives you access to a ton of perks within the Best Buy brand. The last thing I need is another subscription, so I do not have this myself. But regardless, if you look at some of the physical media prices, and you think they are obscene, you may also notice a less obscene option for those equipped with Totaltech. After being ripped off with myBestBuy, I cannot see myself being a part of Totaltech anytime soon. But as you can see in the “Bullet Train” example, there is a different price for which you can buy this 4K copy if you are a Totaltech member. If you are a member, you have the perk of saving $19.00, subtracting to a total of $26.99. Therefore, it would be slightly less than what Target is offering for the same copy as of the time of this post being published.

This might also be Best Buy waving the white flag, and they could looking for any excuse they can to stop selling DVDs and Blu-rays. While they still sell vinyl, there are not many Best Buy stores that sell CDs, and some have already gotten rid of their DVD and Blu-ray inventory. I have been to a couple Best Buy stores that have done this, but they still have video games, therefore the store is not done with physical media altogether. But recent years have shown the company has taken steps to reduce its presence in stores.

Question is, how do you navigate with this as a consumer? Well the good news is, Best Buy is not the only player in town for physical media. Target, Walmart, Amazon, among several other stores, supply physical media, normally at more reasonable prices. If I were you in this case, I would start going to Best Buy less and supporting these stores more. If you are not a fan of big box stores, I highly recommend stores like Bull Moose. If you live in New England, they have locations in New Hampshire and Maine, but they also have a website and they sell everything from VHS to 4K Blu-ray. Check these stores out and give them your support. There is no reason why “Black Adam,” whose 4K Blu-ray copy would normally cost $29.96 at Walmart, should have a max price of $49.99 at Best Buy. Make it make sense. That said, Best Buy does price match, so if you somehow decide to pick something up at Best Buy, ask for price match at checkout and show a competitor’s price, they might follow through with it. There is a saying that consumers speak with their wallet, and the fewer times people spend money at Best Buy, the more likely they might have to make an excuse to bring those customers back. How can they be brought back? Cheaper prices, I would imagine.

But if anyone at Best Buy is reading this, please take this into consideration and shrink the prices for physical media back down. The market for physical media has become increasingly niche and actions like this will make it more so. Therefore, I beg, live up to your name, and give us the best buy. If nothing good is to come from here on out, it is Best Bye Bye from me.

Thanks for reading this post! I also want to take a moment to make an announcement! The Jack Awards are coming to Scene Before on March 5th! That’s right, Scene Before’s annual movie awards show is back with a brand new name. It is no longer the Jackoff Awards, which is a name chosen because it won a Twitter poll. And as everyone knows, Twitter polls, like coin flipping, happens to be how the most scientific and true decisions are made. But I have decided, for this fifth ceremony, we are going in a different direction. It is the same show, but with, in my opinion, a less crappy name. The nominations will be announced Sunday, February 19th, a couple weeks from now. And the show will be held on Sunday, March 5th, only on Stay tuned. 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, what do you think about this Best Buy physical media situation? Do you care? Also, do you even buy physical media? If so, what do you buy? How often do you buy? And how big is your collection? I know I am probably in a minority as a 23-year-old who still buys Blu-rays these days, but I choose to live with it. Physical media, to me is better than streaming, and should there ever be a day it dies, I will probably be a sad man. Leave your comments down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!