600TH POST SPECIAL!: Blu-ray Movie Collection Update!

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is that time yet again! If you know me in real life or online, chances are that I may have an obsession with physical media. If I am not watching a movie in the theater, there is a good chance that I am buying it on Blu-ray. Well, every hundred posts, I give an update on my collection, and this one is no exception! I made a video specifically for my YouTube channel, but I am also proud to share it here!

This video will go over every one of my Blu-ray movie copies ranging from Blu-rays to 4K Blu-rays to Steelbooks. Keep in mind, this is a movie collection, therefore there will be no reference specifically towards television programs.

If you have a favorite movie in the collection, let me know what it is! Let me know what you think I should pick up in the future! Thanks for continuing to check out Scene Before, AKA Flicknerd.com, 600 posts later! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Clerks III (2022): The Most Personal Clerks Installment Yet

“Clerks III” is directed by Kevin Smith (Mallrats, Dogma) who also appears in the movie once again as Silent Bob. Joining Smith on his latest “Clerks” outing are stars including Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Trevor Fehrman, Austin Zajur, Jason Mewes, and Rosario Dawson. When Quick Stop employee Randall survives a heart attack, he decides he wants to do something with his life and make a movie. What’s the movie? Well, think of it as another version of “Clerks.” With the help of colleagues along with Jay and Silent Bob, they all come together to make a movie based on Randall’s life and experiences.

Hollywood has a tendency to celebrate itself from one movie to the next. This has been done through Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land,” Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” and the trend does not seem to be stopping anytime soon as we’re getting more movies of this sort like “Babylon.” That movie is, coincidentally, also directed by Damien Chazelle. Some of these movies have proven to be industry and award season darlings, which is why it is interesting to see that Kevin Smith is almost going for another approach with this. Kevin Smith has been part of “the industry” for years. As of a few years ago, he officially has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But compared to other individuals, he doesn’t feel like a part of the industry. He often wears a part of New Jersey on his sleeve, his ego is not over the top, and compared to say the recently mentioned Tarantino, his track record with critics is not the best.

In fact, when I did my list of the worst movies of the 2010s, “Copout,” which released early on in the decade, ended up making the list.

But it does not change the way I feel about Kevin Smith as a personality. I met him at a comic con, and I can genuinely say he is the nicest guy I have talked to in this industry. Smith is an avid pop culture geek, extremely humble, and even though critics say he cannot make a movie, he has shown to be appreciative of the art. When it comes to the first two “Clerks” movies, I enjoyed both of them. Both are relatable and funny. I still think about the “Lord of the Rings” storyline joke in the second movie on a regular basis. As an aspiring filmmaker, I look up to to people like Christopher Nolan for his auteur-like traits. But in the back of my mind, I want to maintain the same sense of humility and spirit that Kevin Smith has possessed all these years. I did not know what to expect going into “Clerks III,” but I paid $20 for a Fathom Events ticket because I wanted to support the movie.

Having seen this film, it is probably my favorite “Clerks” installment, partially because of its shift from the other two.

While this film serves a proper sequel to both “Clerks” and “Clerks II,” “Clerks III” shows how much the franchise has evolved with each outing. From the first to the second movie we go from shooting in black and white to shooting in color. What’s the big shift in the third movie? Things get comparatively serious.

Kevin Smith based “Clerks” on his time in New Jersey and working behind counters. That stays true in “Clerks III,” but Kevin Smith has grown up since making his first feature back in the 1990s, therefore it feels natural that the franchise grows up too. This story would have never happened if in addition to the two “Clerks” movies, Kevin Smith never had a serious heart attack in 2017. The attack nearly killed him, but he has since made adjustments to his life, and now he is using his life experience to make “Clerks III” happen. This is a surprisingly sentimental and personal story that tugs at the heartstrings as much as it busts the gut. When it comes to emotional, mature storytelling, I do not often put that thought alongside Kevin Smith. Sure, the movie still has its series of silly shenanigans like a goofy line out of Jay or an occasional joke about drugs or private parts. Although in between that, it is ultimately a story about friendship. It is about people who stick by each other even in the toughest of times.

“Clerks III” feels like a love letter to filmmaking in the same way that “The Disaster Artist” was. Because that movie chronicled a film that would have been doomed to fail if it were not for its insane cult following. While “The Disaster Artist” based its story on the making of a movie that actually happened, “Clerks III” pays tribute to what the franchise has already provided while offering an unfamiliar, but most certainly welcome, sentimentality.

“Clerks III” feels like this year’s “Bill & Ted Face the Music.” It is a sequel to two movies that despite their charm, are not exactly Oscar-worthy, but come loaded with entertainment value. Both of the franchise’s third installments keep that same entertainment value, but also come off as a slightly, and I do mean slightly, more mature variant of what came before.

If you are a fan of Kevin Smith’s work over the years, there are particular scenes that could resonate with you. My favorite part of the film is when Randall’s movie is in pre-production and they are trying to find the right people for the right roles. This brings out a great number of Kevin Smith’s colleagues, friends, and a few other celebrities who I am quite surprised managed to take time to be in a movie like this. I will not say any names, as I did not know any of these going in, but the audition montage alone was worth the $20 I paid to see this movie. If you are looking for cameos, Smith’s got em. And they are all here!

Although there is one big name in this movie that I would like to reveal, and that is Amy Sedaris (At Home with Amy Sedaris, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt). Amy Sedaris not only plays a cardiothorasic surgeon, she kills the part in every way. Every line out of Amy Sedaris is delivered with a sprinkle of flair and I cannot see anyone else playing this part except for her. Also, there is a particular exchange between her and Randall that caught my attention. For those of you who remember “The Martian,” there is a scene featuring Sean Bean of “Lord of the Rings” fame, and his character has to explain what Project Elrond is to a group of people. To those who do not know, Project Elrond is the secret meeting in “Lord of the Rings.” Attentive “Star Wars” fans, most notably those who are familiar with “The Mandalorian,” may be able to notice a reversal of this in “Clerks III.”

To spoil the ending of “Clerks III” would be like spoiling the ending to a lot of movies, it would ruin the grand effect of what’s to come. Although if I had to give my quick thoughts on the ending of “Clerks III,” I would say that it is one that I would not have predicted, but it is definitely earned. There is a particular moment between Randall and Dante that hit me. It feels weird to say because I am not that attached to these characters. From start to finish, I only saw both “Clerks” movies once. I liked both, but nevertheless. But these characters have a moment together that adds up and delivered the feels. There is more to the ending, and it nearly feels choppy, but it is a kind of choppiness that I was willing to appreciate.

If I had to give my biggest problem with the film, it weirdly enough has to do with one of my positives. The drama. There is a fundamental shift between the characters in the film in terms of how they view each other and their current situations. While I appreciate the fact that for the most part, this film goes for drama, and succeeds, this is the one blunder. This shift feels seismic to the point where I could not buy it. Maybe if it were written differently, it would have been executed better. Maybe less dialogue, maybe different words. But there is a hot second in the movie that has a moment of tension that almost feels forced.

Even so, “Clerks III” is a funny yet heartwarming conclusion to a trilogy that started nearly thirty years ago. There is a saying in that you should write what you know. And that is what Kevin Smith did. He took what may have been the worst situation of his entire life, and now he is telling what could be his most emotional story yet.

In the end, “Clerks III” is a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy that mostly blends comedy and drama to an admirable degree. Kevin Smith movies always provide a likable vibe, even if it is not up to the caliber of say a Spielberg flick. The “Clerks” movies look cheap, but have occasional moments that feel like a million bucks. With “Clerks III,” Smith arguably hit the jackpot. When it comes to pure fun, there are few other movies this year that were able to deliver what this movie did for me. “Clerks III” is not my favorite movie of the year, but when it comes to genuine good times, there is are few rivals in terms of 2022’s cinematic calendar. I am going to give “Clerks III” a 7/10.

“Clerks III” is playing in theatres for a limited time and is going on tour across the United States and Canada! For those who live in certain areas, Kevin Smith will be bringing the movie to a city near you like Los Angeles, Chicago, or Montreal. For tickets and more info on “Clerks III: The Convenience Tour,” visit clerks3.movie/roadshow.

Thanks for reading this review! Guess what guys? My next post is going to be very special because I will be reaching 600 posts on Scene Before! Per usual, I will be doing a long-winded update on my Blu-ray collection. That video will also be available on my YouTube channel, but I will be sharing said video here as the 600th post for those who read my blog. 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 “Clerks III?” What did you think about it? Or, did you see the other two “Clerks” films? Tell me your thoughts on those! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Brahmāstra: Part One – Shiva (2022): A Godly, Fantastically Computer Generated Spectacle of the Classic Hero’s Journey

“Brahmāstra: Part One – Shiva” is directed by Ayan Mukerji (Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Wake Up Sid) and stars Amitabh Bachchan (Kaun Banega Crorepati, The Great Gatsby), Ranbir Kapoor (Rockstar, Barfi!), Alia Bhatt (2 States, Dear Zinidagi), Mouni Roy (Naagin, Lip Sing Battle), and Nagarjuna Akkineni (Annamayya, Ninne Pelladata). This is the first installment to what some intend to call the Astraverse. In this first installment, we follow the story of Shiva, a young man who has forever lived as an orphan. When one event leads to another, Shiva embarks on a journey against the forces of evil as he discovers who he truly is.

I am going to be real with you. 2022 has not been the greatest year for film so far. Sure, there have been good movies here and there like “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Bullet Train” for instance. Unfortunately, I have rarely seen any films this year that have had a complete and total spark. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is the exception, and a pretty big one at that. It is one of my new favorite movies simply because of how wonderfully bonkers it is. But 2022 is also a year that I have been diving more into films that are not from where I live. Particularly Japanese anime. I have watched films like “Only Yesterday,” “Summer Wars,” and “Your Name” for example.

These were not the first anime I have ever watched, but I can tell you a fun fact about “Brahmastra: Part One – Shiva.” Aside from “Monsoon Wedding,” which I enjoyed, this is the first film from India that I have ever seen. Therefore, I do not have as much material to compare this film to from that country.

Although for the newcomers here, I will point out that this is being written by someone who lives in the United States. As I watched this film, there were a few big Hollywood movies that often came to mind during the runtime. If Michael Bay’s “Transformers,” “Star Wars,” and “Inception” got together to have a baby with “Romeo & Juliet,” then the result might be “Brahmāstra: Part One – Shiva.” As for the result itself, I particularly enjoyed it.

On the surface, this movie does not break new ground in terms of plot, story, writing, any of that jazz. It is the classic hero’s journey intertwined with a love story. We have seen that been done before and in certain cases it has been done better. The screenplay is probably not going to win any major awards but it has a fun vibe throughout. But it does not take away from this movie’s overall effectiveness. Shiva (Ranbir Kapoor) is a likable hero. His love interest, Isha (Alia Bhatt), brings an admirable presence in addition to solid chemistry. These two are the foundation of the film, and if they did not work, this would just be a boring, cliché movie. But thankfully, I bought into their connection and I rooted for both of these two characters.

The biggest standout in “”Brahmāstra: Part One – Shiva” is the visual effects. This is probably the most visually stylized live-action movie I have seen in a long time. Some of the effects reminded me of “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” because that film has the stylization of a fever dream. Think of the Katayanagi Twins sequence with the gorilla and dragons times five. At times, this movie reminded me of “Warcraft,” based on the popular video game of a similar name. While the film was not that memorable, it had tons of color, lots of CGI, but despite looking like a pure fantasy, I bought into all of it. This movie is partially based on Hindu myth, therefore I am not surprised that it looks the way it does. At times, the movie had a graphic novel feel to it, and it feels like this is almost Bollywood’s response to the success western cinema has been having with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact, if you ask me, I think the visuals in this film look ten times better than most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe content we are getting today. It looks better than “Black Widow,” “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” and “Thor: Love and Thunder” if you want my two cents.

Star Studios produced this movie, which if you do not know, is currently owned by Disney. Therefore, the Mouse House is the distributor for this film. I do not think “Brahmāstra” will become a gigantic phenomenon in the United States, there is too much competition. Although if this film were to make “Avatar” money here by some miracle, there would probably be conversations in regard to installing a theme park ride for this movie at Disney World or something, because this film is worth seeing for the visual trip it provides. Again, the writing is not original, but some of the characters and their respective performers make it work. If “Top Gun: Maverick” is 2022’s marvel for practicality, then “”Brahmāstra: Part One – Shiva” is arguably 2022’s marvel for fantasy. I still think the former is the better movie because of how it handles its screenplay, but it does not change the fact that both are stunning to look at in their own rights.

The technical aspects of this movie is where everything comes together. In addition to the amazing visuals, the music in this film is fun to listen to. The singing bits had me entertained and occasionally tapping my feet. Singing is not the only standout, because the musical score by Tanuj Tiku is one of the best I have heard this year. It is everything you could want in an epic. If this movie is playing in a theater near you, I highly recommend you go see it there, because this is one of the most theatrically-suited experiences I have witnessed recently.

Now I talked about the writing in this film, and that would be my biggest problem. Again, it is a story that when broken down, feels repetitive. It feels ordinary. It does not mean I did not like the story overall, but it is rather unoriginal. Some of the dialogue is cheesy, there are some corny attempts at humor that did not quite get a laugh out of me, but these are little things in a journey that had my attention the entire time. Again, if I thought the characters were the second coming of Jack the Ripper, then I would be approaching this movie with a completely different attitude. Staying on the topic of writing though, when this movie ends, it left me wanting more. I genuinely am curious about what is next in this universe. It is suggested that this is going to be a trilogy, and I would like to see this trilogy come to fruition. Although I hope if this were to continue that the next movie has a comparatively less flawed screenplay and offers a reason for me to keep watching in addition to the pretty effects. You have my curiosity, now I ask that you have my attention.

In the end, “Brahmāstra: Part One – Shiva” is, and I make no exaggeration when I say this, 2022’s biggest visual feast. “Avatar: The Way of Water” could outdo it in terms of visual appeal, but I do not think there is another movie that is set to come out this year that is going to have the same amount of eye candy. Unfortunately, the reviews for “Brahmāstra: Part One – Shiva” are quite mixed. There are some people who like the movie, like me, but there are a lot of people who are pretty active in terms of why they do not like it. I kind of get it. Before I saw this film, I had no idea how many years it took to develop, but apparently it took a long time. The shooting process started in the late 2010s and photography ultimately finished a couple years after the COVID-19 pandemic started. If the writing and characters are a problem, I can see that. If you ask me, I found them likable. I found them charming. If I had any real problem with the characters, it would be that the antagonists were on the disposable side. They are still more fleshed out then some of what Marvel has provided over the years in various films, but nevertheless. I am going to give “Brahmāstra: Part One – Shiva” a 7/10.

On another note, even though my Indian cinema experience is rather lackluster, I actually recognized a couple faces in this film. Dimple Kapadia has a small role in the movie. For those who are Christopher Nolan fans, you may recognize her through her role in “Tenet” as Priya. I did not recognize him at first, but I was also surprised to see Amitabh Bachchan has a prominent place in the cast. As a game show nerd, I was delighted to remind myself that he hosted “Kaun Banega Crorepati,” which for those who are unaware, is the Indian version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.” See? I know some things!

“Brahmāstra: Part One – Shiva” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for the brand new movie “Clerks III!” The film is now screening in theaters for a limited time and I got the chance to see the film during a recent Fathom Events screening. I will have my review coming very soon.

Also, I just want to remind everyone that I am nearing 600 posts on Scene Before, so I have something special planned coming soon. Every other hundredth post I usually document the current status of my Blu-ray collection, therefore, it should come as no surprise that post 600 will be yet another documentation of my Blu-ray collection. It has grown a lot over the years. New movies, old movies. Steelbooks, Digibooks. You name it. I will be shooting and editing the video soon, so be on the lookout! 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 “”Brahmāstra: Part One – Shiva?” What did you think about it? I am absolutely curious. Am I the only one who likes this movie? This feels like “Welcome to Marwen” all over again. Or, which movie has the best CGI ever? For me, I would say Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” is a crisp-looking movie that fully immersed me into its digital world. That could be a contender for me. Let me know your pick down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Luck (2022): Somewhat Charming, Although Not Enough to Be the Luckiest Charm

“Luck” is directed by Peggy Holmes, whose resume, which includes four other directorial credits, has mostly consisted of Disney content. This film stars Eva Noblezada (Yellow Rose, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit), Simon Pegg (Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Run Fatboy Run), Jane Fonda (Grace and Frankie, Klute), Whoopi Goldberg (The View, The Lion King), Flula Borg (Pitch Perfect 2, The Suicide Squad), Lil Rel Howrey (Uncle Drew, Free Guy), Colin O’Donoghue (Once Upon a Time, The Right Stuff), and John Ratzenberger (Cheers, Toy Story). This film follows a girl named Sam who suffers from one unlucky incident after the next. After one particular case of bad luck, she finds herself in a universe where good and bad luck collide to determine the fates of everyone on earth.

Many protagonists have a case for being down on their luck for one reason or another. But this is a case where the protagonist suffers from one incident after another after another after another in just a short amount of time. It’s the whole down on one’s luck thing, but it’s wildly consistent here. Some might say that luck is not cinematic. But after watching Domino in “Deadpool 2,” I think that’s a falsehood. So I was looking forward to whether the movie “Luck” could be the latest charm (haha) from Hollywood. As for the movie itself, was it worth the watch?

Not exactly. The good news is, as far as the studio is concerned, specifically Skydance Animation, this is their first film. Founded by David Ellison and led by former Pixar vet John Lasseter, “Luck” is the first film in the studio’s slate, and they do have more coming like “Spellbound,” which has a stacked voice cast ranging from Rachel Zegler (West Side Story), Nicole Kidman (The Northman), and even John Lithgow (Interstellar). Maybe their second outing will be better. But for now, let’s focus on the mediocre first outing. But hey, they can only go up!

Again, I like the concept of the movie. I love how one person could be this unlucky all the time and a story can be made out of it. In fact, as far as the protagonist goes, being unlucky is not all about the little things. This movie establishes that the main character, Sam, grew up as a foster kid. At the end of the day, she was never able to find her real family. But at some point, she found herself on her own. She started a new job, she started school, she started living in her own apartment. Sam had a plan and she was sticking by it. So I do admire that the film is not just saying that the main character is unlucky every other second and just going with it. Bad luck is literally intertwined as a core foundation of Sam’s backstory, her growing up.

Sam is voiced by the amazingly talented Eva Noblezada. For the loyal followers who remember the 3rd Annual Jackoff Awards, which honored 2020’s cinematic calendar, I bestowed Noblezada with the win for Best Actress for her brilliant performance in the music-centric film “Yellow Rose.” It makes sense that she would be in a movie like this, as her character does sing and she not only has a history of singing originals in “Yellow Rose,” but she was also in the Broadway play “Hadestown,” so she has range of being on and off-screen. I was excited to see what she could do in a voiceover role. I thought Noblezada had a cute presence and fit the character in every way. I also sort of related to her character. I mean, who wouldn’t? I am pretty sure everyone has had that one day in their life. That one day where anything that could go wrong, actually does.

I also like some of the supporting characters in the film. Simon Pegg plays Bob, a black cat who happens to be Sam’s sidekick for most of the film. I thought he brought some personality to the table. Jane Fonda was a great choice to play Dragon, a character that could literally sniff out bad luck. I thought she was larger than life and lively to say the least. As for the real world, there is one character named Hazel that is presented of highest importance. Not only is she well written from a story perspective, notably through her bond with the protagonist, but I think her respective actress, Adelynn Spoon delivered a cute performance that garnered my attention from early on. Overall, the voicework in this film is top notch. Also, unlike the recent “DC League of Superpets,” despite this movie having some big names, I was never distracted. I never felt like I was listening to someone such as Whoopi Goldberg, who happens to portray the character of Captain, play herself.

While I will reiterate that I am not a massive fan of the film and do not intend to watch it again, I think one of the main highlights is a scene from the first five or so minutes where Sam is going through her morning routine. She’s making breakfast, she’s showering, doing everything she needs to get ready to start her day. But this plays into the whole bad luck trend that has been large part of her life. This lends to some of the funniest visual comedy I have seen recently. I think animation often lends itself to some great humor. And this year is no different when it comes to films in that genre like “Turning Red.” While “Luck” may not be as enjoyable as that film, it is a film that like “Turning Red,” can guarantee a laugh out of me for something I see on screen.

As for the music in the film, I think the musical score by John Debney (The Orville, Iron Man 2) is quite impressive and fits the scope of the film. In fact the scope is quite large given the eventual enormity of the protagonist. I also want to talk about the use of the Madonna song Lucky Star. While it may intertwine with the luck theme this movie has going for it, I think its use comes off as nonsensical, and I kind of cringed when it happened. But that is because of how the song is used from a story and script perspective. I am sure that if the song were simply used as an end credits piece, I would have appreciated it more, but it was used as an out of nowhere device to move the story forward. It is almost lazy. Eva Noblezada sang the piece and she did an okay job, but I just feel like its insertion was either through writer’s block or as a joke to cater to adults who knew the song or children that need visuals to lighten the moment. This movie does not have enough lyric-based songs to sell a soundtrack, so I cannot say that is what the writers were going for.

I also feel incredibly conflicted by the ending. Sure, there are things that happen in the end that add up and feel in place. There is even one moment in the end that made me genuinely happy. But I also feel like how we got to a certain point almost felt forced. It is almost kind of cringeworthy. I get why what happened actually happened, but how we got there almost feels nonsensical. Maybe it drives home the lesson of the film for families and children, but even so, it just feels odd watching it. I almost did not buy what I was seeing on screen. This might sound weird, but this is just from my experience. Despite just about everything making sense, the final moments of the film nevertheless became slightly convoluted. I was not angry, I was not disappointed, I was just a little bewildered and questioning whether the protagonist would actually do what she did. I do not know. Maybe if I watch the film a second time I would feel different. But again, the movie is not worthy enough of a second watch, so that is probably going to remain a mystery.

In the end, “Luck” is rather unlucky. The protagonist is perfectly established, some of the supporting characters are fun, and I never found myself outright angry at this film unlike say the recent “Paws of Fury.” Although if you have children and are looking for an animated movie to watch together, there are better options out there. In fact, this movie is on Apple TV+. If you want a great animated movie to watch on the service, I highly recommend checking out “Wolfwalkers.” It is a 2D animated film about a girl who can suddenly transform into a wolf and ends up befriending someone just like her. It is wonderful, it has emotional beats, it is quite imaginative to say the least. This is not to say that “Luck” is not imaginative. I will be frank, I like the concept of having a universe that controls good and bad luck on our planet. I just wish it were done better. There are some good things about “Luck,” but when the ending came into play, I just found myself nearly indifferent about what I just watched. Maybe you will not feel the same, but I have no plans to watch “Luck” again. And that stinks, because I want to see more from Eva Noblezada, but I hope she does something better than this. I am going to give “Luck” a 5/10.

Also, before I move on, I want to address something I was curious about in regard to the movie ever since I saw the trailer. This is a screenshot I took on YouTube. As a Bay Stater, I need to ask everyone who made “Luck” a simple question. Is this movie secretly set in Boston? Look at license plate on the city bus and tell me that is not a Massachusetts license plate! I know it does not say Massachusetts, but look at the thing!

“Luck” is now streaming on Apple TV+. While it did release in theaters in August, there are showtimes listed online and the film will be coming back to several markets starting Thursday, September 22nd. If you want to see the film in theaters, get your tickets now.

Thanks for reading this review! I want to remind everyone once again that this October, I will be doing a Steven Spielberg Month in honor of his brand new film, “The Fabelmans.” In preparation, I will be reviewing “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial,” “The Post,” and “West Side Story,” so 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 “Luck?” What did you think about it? Also, did you ever have a day where everything just went wrong no matter the case? Tell me about it! I would not mind hearing all about it! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Inu-Oh (2022): Get Ready To Rock on in This Solid Japanese Animation

“Inu-Oh” is directed by Masaaki Yuasa (Mind Game, The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl) and stars Ava-chan and Mirai Moriyama in a film where a cursed dancer and a musician team up and perform for eager audiences.

If the box office suggests anything, not many people saw “Inu-Oh,” as it has so far only raked in over $300,000. The film released on August 12th and is already out of theatres where I live. Meanwhile, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is back to do for Sony a second time what “Morbius” could not. I saw “Inu-Oh” at a theater about an hour from home. Usually I only have to travel like, 15, 20 minutes to a local multiplex. So not only was I hoping I would like the movie, I was hoping it would be worth the extra driving time. Especially considering how I got my wisdom teeth out days prior, and this was my first theatrical experience since… Was it worth the drive? Perhaps.

When I think of animation, and this includes anime, I often think of color, I think of vibrancy, I think of heightened aspects that you cannot do in live-action. This is part of what makes 1994’s “The Lion King” a much more attractive feature in comparison to its 2019 live-actionish remake. Even in more adult fare like the current HBO Max series “Harley Quinn,” the frame is often filled with color. It is rare for me to look at an animated product and think, “Wow, that looks dreary. That looks depressing.” “Inu-Oh” is a rare exception, and this works in its favor. Because yes, the movie is about friendship. Yes, the movie is about two guys performing rock music. But in addition to that, there is an important part of the film that has to do with how the songs are to be performed. It kind of reminds me of how some interpret history, and how some prefer to rewrite it for their own benefit.

Although speaking of flashy, colorful, attractive animation, the climactic sequence of the film, while it still manages to have the ongoing dark and dreary color palette, there are moments of color that won me over. I thought the film looked great whether it had a soap opera vibe or a kid’s cartoon feel. There is a great moment with a dragon towards the end of the film that established this movie’s excellence with the latter.

I think on paper, the two main characters, Tomona and Inu-Oh, are a recipe for delightfulness. Through the years, there have been a number of stories of two people who have their differences, no matter how far apart, and somehow they form a bond. “Inu-Oh” is no exception to this rule and the chemistry between the characters is likable. It is in essence, this film’s heart and soul that holds everything together.

Now if you saw the trailers for this movie, you would know that it heavily revolves around music. It centers around two people who share a bond over rock and decide to perform together. Obviously, the music has to be good. And I would say that it was. In fact, part of why I went to see this movie in the first place is because I watched the main trailer for it in advance, and I really liked the song they attached throughout. Safe to say, that song, along with others, did not disappoint. I think even if the Academy Awards were to pay more attention to anime, I don’t know if any of the songs here will win Best Original Song at the Oscars next year, but they are perfectly jammable given the movie at hand. Maybe if I listen to the soundtrack on my own I would appreciate the music more. Because that’s part of what happened with, using another recent anime as an example, “Belle.” I really liked the movie, but then I started listening to the music both in English and Japanese and it won me over. Although at the same time, I had the desire to watch that film a second time (which in addition to the music, was due to a brilliant satire on the Internet). Knowing what I saw in “Inu-Oh” from a story perspective, it feels like a one and done.

I have not watched a ton of anime. I got into the medium this year and have recently gotten into more classics like “Akira,” which despite its popularity, I was not a fan of. In addition, I watched “My Neighbor Totoro.” It felt simple, sweet, but I felt like it was missing something. I also watched “Summer Wars” for the first time recently, which was epic in every way. I also checked out “Your Name,” which blew me away. If I had to give “Inu-Oh” a ranking, “Inu-Oh” falls somewhere in between all these movies. It’s not bad enough to make me hate it, but it is also not solid enough to get me to watch it again. But is well-animated, the characters feel fairly fleshed out, and the soundtrack is quite good. Overall, a fine movie.

Going back to the music in “Inu-Oh,” here are a couple of my specific thoughts about it. The songs overall have good lyrics, decent rhythm, and a couple of them truly sound epic. It is exactly what you could want out of a rock opera. If I had to give one minor problem with the film’s soundtrack, it would be that I wish we had just a tad more variety. I understand that if you are doing a concert, it is almost a priority to “play the hits” or “give the people what they want.” Of course, I understand. If I go to a KISS concert, I would definitely want to hear “Rock N’ Roll All Nite,” but in regards to this movie, I want to see some extra juice in regards to the musical talents of the main characters. I think one or two different songs, or one more song that does not have the exact same pattern as another would have benefited the movie slightly. The soundtrack in general is really good, but hearing the same song or some slight variation of the same song more than once as opposed to hearing what else the duo could have given was slightly disappointing. Another way to compare and contrast is to think of it like AC/DC. If you ask me, I think they are quite talented. I think they have fun, energizing music. But almost every other song from them feels like a copy of another. At least the duo seems to understand what the audience in the movie wants, if there is any positive to all of this.

In the end, “Inu-Oh” is a decent movie, but it is not my favorite animation of the year. It is the first of this year’s anime lineup I saw so I have no films of that medium that I could compare it to, but as far as other animation goes, I would rather watch “Turning Red” again, which coincidentally pays homage to content like “Sailor Moon,” speaking of anime. I think “it is “Inu-Oh” well-directed, the story is intriguing, and of course, the music does not disappoint. I am going to give “Inu-Oh” a 7/10.

“Inu-Oh” is unfortunately mostly done with its U.S. theatrical run. It is seemingly just finishing in Southern California, but there are still more showtimes in New York. But as for other areas, you’d probably have to press your luck at finding a showtime. The film is still playing in select markets, so if you want to check it out, get your tickets now.

Thanks for reading this review! I want to make an announcement in regard to a future event on this blog. This November, “The Fabelmans,” the latest Steven Spielberg movie, is set to hit theaters. In preparation, I am going to be doing a Steven Spielberg month during the span of October! I will be reviewing “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “E.T. the Extra Terrestrial,” “The Post,” and some of you may have forgotten that I did not review this film last year, “West Side Story!” I did watch the film in theaters twice, but I just never got around to talking about it! It was even one of the Best Picture nominees during the 4th Annual Jackoff Awards! EIther way, that is coming this October!

As of right now, I am still in California, so my movie-watching schedule is kind of out of the loop, but I will have at least one review to post for next week, so stay alert! 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 “Inu-Oh?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite rock band? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Elvis (2022): A Movie So Bad That Not Only Was Tom Hanks Unable To Save It, He Sullied It

“Elvis” is directed by Baz Luhrmann (Romeo + Juliet, The Great Gatsby) and stars Austin Butler (Life Unexpected, Switched at Birth), Tom Hanks (Toy Story, Cast Away), Olivia DeJonge (The Visit, The Society), Helen Thomson (Bad Mothers, Stupid, Stupid Man), and Richard Roxborough (Moulin Rouge!, Mission: Impossible II). This film is a biopic on the iconic musician Elvis Presley. The movie providers glimmers of his childhood in addition to his life in music and movies. There is also a shining of light on Presley’s relationship with his manager, Tom Parker.

I was looking forward to “Elvis” ever since I saw the trailer. It looked electric, zazzy, and colorful. I also will admit that I enjoy listening to Elvis Presley every once in a while as “Suspicious Minds” is sometimes a notable song choice of mine when I am writing. I am not a hardcore Elvis fanatic, but I was quite curious to get to know more about the iconic musician’s life and perhaps see a killer performance from Austin Butler. While Butler has had plenty of acting experience, this is undoubtedly the role that will make him a star, and not just because he’s playing a star. This leads me to my most prominent positive of the film, which is that Austin Butler does not waste a second on the screen.

Similar to how Rami Malek practically transformed into Freddie Mercury in 2018’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Austin Butler gives a performance for the ages. In fact one thing that I think Butler does better in his performance as Presley compared to Malek as Mercury is that we actually hear Butler sing. There are snippets of the movie where Presley’s actual voice can be heard, but unlike Malek in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the singing sequences in “Elvis” were not completely lip synced. Butler also looks like a king in this film. Speaking of which, one notable element of Elvis Presley that I often think of is like some modern musicians like Megan Thee Stallion or Cardi B, there is some definite sex appeal that had been accurately reflected in the movie. Sometimes this comes with the idea that the sexualization goes too far. Young people, especially women, are seen in this movie losing their minds the moment they see Presley himself. I liked this aspect of the film, I thought it was perfectly showcased.

Butler gives a transformative, otherworldly portrayal of a musician who has not been alive since the 1970s, but somehow has risen from the dead just to stand in front me as I eat popcorn for two and a half hours. It is undoubtedly one of the best performances of the year. I think they made a good choice on casting Butler, not only because he’s a great actor, but unlike say Harry Styles, who was in the running to play the character, Butler is way less recognizable, which I think comes off as less of a distraction. This adds, again, more of a transformation factor than anything else. Although I was delighted to know that before “Elvis,” Butler’s most recent outing was in the insanely good “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” where he slays as Tex Watson. There is no denying it, Austin Butler was perfect in “Elvis.”

Too bad almost every other aspect of the movie pales in comparison.

Speaking of performances, let’s talk about Tom Hanks. Unlike Austin Butler, it is almost certain that most moviegoers would watch a movie just because Tom Hanks is in it. He is great in everything he does, except for “Elvis.” Tom Hanks plays Elvis Presley’s sleazy, gambling addict manager by the name of Tom Parker. Judging this performance is incredibly difficult. Because on one hand, Tom Hanks plays a much different role than I am used to seeing him in. This is a rare instance where Hanks actually plays an antagonist, so I appreciate that Hanks is trying to drift away from always being typecast as Mr. Nice Guy. But this is not only not Hanks’s bread and butter, he delivers a performance that feels weirdly over the top and stereotypical. Granted, it kind of matches the tone of the film, which almost feels animated at times. When I think of Elvis Presley, the artist, I think of lively, vibrant music that often lights up a room. Tom Hanks definitely feels animated. As for lively and vibrant, not so much. And that accent got on my nerves real fast…

Let’s put it this way, Tom Hanks has had a long and prestigious career as an actor to the point where he has done many great films like “Toy Story,” “Saving Mr. Banks,” and fairly recently, the somewhat overlooked “News of the World.” Of course he has had bad days at the office. Just look at “The Circle,” a movie that almost ruins the reputations of several iconic names in Hollywood like Emma Watson and Patton Oswalt. Even in a bad or fairly mediocre Tom Hanks movie like “Sully,” Hanks is never the problem. He gives it his all. “Elvis” is a rare instance that not only is the movie atrocious, but Tom Hanks gives one of the worst performances I have seen from him. I do not completely blame Hanks. I think in terms of makeup and costume design, his character looked transformative. Hanks himself, once again, sort of diverged from being a “nice guy” that not only audiences are used to seeing, but people claim him to actually be in real life. The directing and script are the real problem here. Tom Parker comes off as one of the most stereotypical and cliche characters of his kind in cinematic history.

It also feels weird knowing that this movie is called “Elvis” and yet it almost feels more like “The Tom Parker Chronicles” in disguise. I mean, sure, in a way, Parker was a monumental part of Elvis Presley’s legacy. But when I go into “Elvis,” I want, well, Elvis, taking up as much spotlight as he can. The movie IS about Elvis, but it almost does not feel that way at times. I am almost surprised we did not see Tom Parker in a mid-credits scene suddenly walk out on stage, bedazzled, singing a snippet of “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

Here is a fun fact for you all, so far, the only movie in history to have not just been nominated, but win both an Oscar and a Razzie is the 1987 film “Wall Street.” Michael Douglas won an Oscar for Best Actor and Daryl Hannah won a Razzie for Worst Supporting Actress. This is a shot in the dark prediction, because awards season is technically still on the rise. Although I think there is a solid chance that “Elvis” could categorize itself as one of two films to win both the Oscar and the Razzie. I can see Austin Butler winning Best Actor, and I can see Tom Hanks winning Worst Supporting Actor. It goes to show how much of a mish mash “Elvis” feels like. This film comes off as a Saturday morning cartoon, a grounded drama, and unfortunately, a confused narrative. I think the confusion is best summed up in one of the first lines, where Tom Parker introduces himself.

“For those of you who are wondering who this fella here is, I am the legendary Colonel Tom Parker. I am the man who gave the world Elvis Presley. Without me, there would be no Elvis Presley. And yet, there are some who’d make me out to be the villain of this here story.” -Tom Parker

Yes, there are movies I like where the villain technically becomes the hero of the story. “Avengers: Infinity War,” despite having “Avengers” in the title, starts and ends with Thanos, the man who wants to rid of half the universe’s population. But not only did he feel fleshed out, I bought into the character. Similarly, there are movies about self-absorbed, entitled morons that make themselves out to be the hero, like “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and if it is written and directed in a certain way, it can work. “Elvis” honestly feels inconsistent, and part of it is because Parker needlessly steals the spotlight in every other scene. There are scene stealers, and then there are scene hijackers, like Tom Parker. Tom Parker comes off as a paper thin cartoon within a grounded story. It is kind of like “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” if Roger Rabbit had actual human flesh.

I should not be surprised, but as I watched this movie, I failed to realize perhaps the greatest source of my pain, the director, Baz Luhrmann. Baz Luhrmann directed and co-wrote “Elvis.” This film definitely has a style, but despite its occasional ease on the eyes and ears, the movie travels at the speed of a rocket. Only thing is, I am not in the rocket, I am hanging right by the engine. It feels like I was watching “Run Lola Run” but if the runtime were doubled. This is probably the closest I have come to having a headache while watching a movie in a theater. Now, Baz Luhrmann did not direct “Run Lola Run.” He did direct other glitzy, glossy films like “Moulin Rouge!” and “The Great Gatsby.” I have not seen those movies. But I did see another film from Luhrmann, the 1997 “Romeo + Juliet.” I understand what the movie was going for by trying to modernize the classic Shakespearean play. Perhaps give it more of an oomph for people who tend to nap during class readings and discussions of William Shakespeare. But I genuinely thought it was one of the most annoying and mind-numbing movies I have ever watched. “Elvis” is more entertaining, but compared to “Romeo + Juliet,” it suffers from a longer runtime and pacing issues. “Elvis” is 2 hours and 39 minutes long, and yet it feels like an eternity at times.

Speaking of negativity and hate, let’s dive into another positive. Trust me, this makes sense. Like other modern musicians such as Kanye West, Taylor Swift, or Justin Bieber, Elvis definitely had his haters. While I was not a fan of the Tom Parker character and his portrayal from Tom Hanks, one thing I did like is how all out this movie went to showcasing the merchandising for Presley. They even sold “hate” merchandise which upon one’s purchase, the money from said purchase goes directly to Parker and Presley themselves. This is genius and I think if we lived in a non-Internet age, we could have seen more of this from other high profile names, including politicians. Unfortunately for the movie “Elvis,” the negatives outweigh the positives. Therefore, if I had to buy a button symbolizing my thoughts in regard to the movie, it would probably lean toward the “hater” route. Baz Luhrmann is a director who knows his style, but leaves much to be desired when it comes to delivering an entertaining narrative.

In the end, “The Tom Parker Chron–” sorry, got confused for a sec… In the end, “Elvis” is a long, overblown, glitz and glamour fest that melted my brain. It is sad to say that perhaps the most positive thing I can say about “Elvis” is that it is at least more watchable than “Romeo + Juliet.” But much like “Romeo + Juliet,” I cannot see myself ever watching “Elvis” again even if I were promised a million bucks. This is the movie that is going to be remembered as both Austin Butler’s big break, and yet, one of the worst days at the office for acting legend Tom Hanks. I am going to give “Elvis” a 3/10.

“Elvis” in now playing in theatres and is also available on HBO Max.

Thanks for reading this review! Speaking of music-based films, my next review is going to be for the brand new Japanese animation “Inu-Oh.” The film follows a dancer and a musician who develop a friendship and perform for crowds across the land. 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 “Elvis?” What did you think about it? Or, have you seen any other Baz Luhrmann films? Tell me your thoughts on the ones you like or dislike. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Beast (2022): Idris Elba Fights His Way Through a Disposable Safari Adventure

“Beast” is directed by Baltasar Kormákur (2 Guns, Everest) and stars Idris Elba (Pacific Rim, The Suicide Squad), Iyana Halley (Abbott Elementary, This is Us), Leah Jeffries (Rel, Empire), and Sharlto Copley (Elysium, District 9). This film follows a father his two teenage daughters who spend time together in the Savanna. Unfortunately, their explorative adventure becomes a survival mission when they come to face with a killer lion who will stop at nothing to hunt them down.

I have seen the trailer for “Beast” numerous times in the theater, part of which is due to Comcast’s outright domination in the theatrical market right now. After all, their primary film distribution outlet, Universal, is responsible for some of the more attractive films of the summer like “The Black Phone” and “Nope.” Despite seeing the trailer, I cannot claim that I was particularly stoked for the film. Granted I was not dreading it, I would say I was just indifferent. For the record, I like Idris Elba. He has evidently been on fire recently. Elba starred in my favorite live-action film of the last year, “The Suicide Squad.” He also recently voiced Knuckles in “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” which is not quite as good as its predecessor. Despite what I just said, Elba was the highlight of that film to me. His voice was perfect for the character. Elba is full of charisma in almost anything he does, so while “Beast” was never at the top my list of films to see, I went in with some positive curiosity.

What did I think of “Beast?” Well, I would not say it has replay value, but it is also certainly not the worst man vs. nature film of the year. “Beast” is the kind of film I would probably watch in a hotel room when I have trouble deciding what to watch and need to put something on so I can fall asleep at night. It is entertaining, but it comes with its flaws, most notably the characters.

There are worse characters in other movies, and the ones in “Beast” are not exactly insufferable. But the roster of characters in this film feel like a roster conceived by Michael Bay in some summer blockbuster that has forced corny humor. I imagine on paper, these characters were well written, if I read their dialogue or motivations on a page, I would buy into them and appreciate what I see. But when it comes to the screen, not everything translated properly.

While this movie does not shine in terms of characterization, the same cannot be said for the way this film looks and sounds. Some of the shots of the Savanna landscape do look presentable. And every time the lion roars in the film, it does feel rather terrifying. It is weird to think, but as far as creature-based films go, this movie is perhaps scarier than the last couple “Jurassic World” installments. I think this is because “Beast,” while its primary focus is on a lion, not dinosaurs, has more in common with the “Jurassic Park” movies at the franchise’s inception, when it was more about making the creatures a specialty. They were a threat, and like other threats, they showed their true colors, but they were not overexposed. Unlike most of the “Jurassic Park” movies, “Beast” focuses on one lion the entire time and lets its human characters, who are unfortunately not that interesting, but still more interesting than Owen and Claire in “Jurassic World,” take as much of the spotlight as they can muster.

It is crazy to think that this movie is from Universal Pictures, because they also released the “Jurassic Park” movies. And based on “Beast” being better than the most recent “Jurassic Park” installment, I would not mind seeing a “Beast” simulator ride at Universal Studios in the future.

There really is not much to this movie other than the fact that the main family has to find a way to survive to the end. That’s really it. If you are coming into “Beast” and expect a Shakespearean drama where a family deals with conflict amongst themselves that will resonate for the ages, then look elsewhere. If anything, “Beast” reminded me of “Godzilla vs. Kong,” which I admittedly enjoyed to a greater capacity and would actually watch a couple more times, but still.

The reason “Beast” reminded me of “Godzilla vs. Kong” is because if you are looking for epic creatures doing epic creature stuff, then that is an A+ movie. The characters, while not horribly offensive, are kind of dumb, unmemorable, and despite their quirks, they do not steal the spotlight from the from the monsters themselves. Yes, the star power of Idris Elba was definitely evident. Kind of like the star power of Millie Bobby Brown in “Godzilla vs. Kong,” but Elba’s star power did not erase the attention I had for the lion. Partially because despite the limited characterization, Elba was competently directed and he played his part well. He is not going to win an Oscar for this movie, and as far as summer movies go, he churned out a better performance in “Pacific Rim,” but he gave a good encapsulation.

I have a strong feeling that if Idris Elba were not the star of this film, “Beast” would have probably never gone to theaters. Maybe it could play for a limited run in Los Angeles or something, but on paper, “Beast” comes off as a movie I would find on television. It feels weird to say because Baltasar Kormákur is not a name I would think of when it comes to that comparison, as he previously directed “Everest,” which despite its disposability, looked pristine in almost every shot.

Going back to my hotel room comparison, I would probably watch this film, in the background that is, if I randomly found it while flipping through channels. If I had to write a review like this and I needed background noise, there are worse options out there in terms of finding something to help me concentrate on my work. But in all seriousness, if Idris Elba were not the star, I could see this movie having gone straight to Syfy or even direct to DVD. Remember that? It’s still a thing! Have you ever been to a Walmart and seen all these crappy looking, ripoff movies? Yeah, this would randomly blend in with the three thousand direct to DVD shark movies that have come out over the past few years. No offense to Amber Midthunder, but I assume if “Prey,” the new “Predator” movie, starred someone who has evidently been a box office draw, that movie would have went theatrical instead of straight to Hulu. I have not seen the movie, so I cannot comment on how good it is. But I can say that if they had Margot Robbie or Jennifer Garner for example, 20th Century Studios would have probably leant towards putting the movie in theaters. Before I saw “Beast,” I asked my friend if he wanted to go, and when I described the movie, before I even said the title, I mentioned Idris Elba’s name. That goes to show how much of a selling point he is. Even a movie with this low brow of a plot could be sellable with a star like Elba attached. I was sold at the door. Too bad I probably will not watch the movie again anytime soon.

In the end, “Beast” is a movie with a straight to DVD vibe that went theatrical due to its polish and bankable lead. As of writing, “Beast” barely past its budget of $36 million at the box office, so Idris Elba-wise, this could wind up being less of a “Pacific Rim” and more of a “Cats.” Only time will tell, but the latter seems likely at this point. “Beast” is arguably the most positively middle of the road film of the year so far. It is not good enough for an instant rewatch, but it is also not terrible enough to say that my time was wasted. It is only 93 minutes long, and the runtime is suitable enough for the limited story at hand. I am going to give “Beast” a 6/10.

“Beast” is now playing in theatres everywhere, tickets are available now!

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed this review, check out some of my other ones. Just recently I shared my thoughts on the Jordan Peele-directed blockbuster “Nope,” which yes, I think you should read. Also, if you want more star power, check out my review for “DC League of Super-Pets,” the all new animated movie starring Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart. Speaking of Beasts, I think it is time to once again promote a recent post I did that I am unbelievably proud of, my extended thoughts as to why I cannot stop watching “Belle,” which has now become not only one of my favorite movies, but my gateway drug into anime. Also stay tuned for more reviews coming soon because I will be sharing my thoughts on the musical biopic “Elvis” and the brand new anime film “Inu-Oh.” 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 “Beast?” What did you think about it? Or, out of curiosity, for those of who have seen both movies… Did you enjoy “Beast” or “Jurassic World: Dominion” more? I am genuinely curious and given how both films are from the same distribution company, I figured this would be an appropriate question to ask. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Bodies Bodies Bodies (2022): A Silly, Obnoxiously Delightful Satire on Gen Z Despite Some Flaws

“Bodies Bodies Bodies” is directed by Halina Reijn, an industry insider mostly known for acting, but one who also took on previous directorial work such as the dramatic thriller “Instinct.” This film stars Amandla Stenberg (The Hate U Give, The Darkest Minds), Maria Bakalova (The Bubble, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm), Myha’la Herrold (Plan B, Industry), Chase Sui Wonders (Generation, On the Rocks), Rachel Sennott (Shiva Baby, Call Your Mother), Lee Pace (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey), and Pete Davidson (The King of Staten Island, Big Time Adolescence). This film is set at a giant house during a violent hurricane. A group of twenty-somethings come together to have a “hurricane party” despite the dangers the storm might bring. As the party goes along, various shenanigans ensue ranging from being overly honest about friendship to actual death.

Ah yes, another A24 film! A24 is one of my favorite distributors in the market right now thanks to a series of great films like “Room” “Eighth Grade,” and “Minari.” All of these films are watchable and attractive in their own way. And the studio is killing it so far with its undoubtedly epic 2022 slate. One of their most recent films, “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” might just be the cutest flick I have seen in years. It is also the first time I can remember, at least in a long time, laughing so hard in a theater that I drooled. And I cannot go on without recognizing the cinematic achievement that is “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” Of the few multiverse stories that audiences have been treated to in recent history, this is the most heartfelt and an absolute treat of a movie. The film of focus for this review, “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” is one that I was looking forward to even without the A24 label being shown. That was just a bonus. The marketing has revealed some likable talent like Pete Davidson, who I enjoyed through his work on “Saturday Night Live” and even through his short appearance in James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad.” The movie looked dark but fun, and I was hoping for nothing more than maybe a scary good time.

“Bodies Bodies Bodies” advertises itself as a mix of slasher horror with a little bit of comedy. I thought both of those elements were well presented. Speaking of presentation, I am surprised to say that “Bodies Bodies Bodies” features some of my favorite shots of the year. The color palette leaps off the screen sometimes in the best possible way. The cinematographer of “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” Jasper Wolf, previously worked on “Instinct,” which as mentioned before, was also directed by Halina Reijn. I hope these two continue their business relationship on an upcoming project because this film looked better than I could have ever expected.

It’s been a couple weeks since I have seen “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” and I feel like I remember more about the movie’s spectacle and vibe more than its characters. The characters in “Bodies Bodies Bodies” are performed to the best of each actor’s ability. Honestly, this movie consistently elicits a feel that I am meeting a series of strangers in a club, so in a way it did its job. But if there is one thing that this film reminds me of, it is my inability to specifically remember everyone I just met. These characters, while they all have wild and dynamic personalities and are attractive at first glance, are not the most memorable. At times, the characters are slightly disposable despite the fact that I almost can imagine few specific actors filling a particular character’s role.

I was born in 1999, therefore I am amongst the Gen Z crowd. This film pokes fun at my generation and makes no apologies for it. The tagline is even fitting for the film, “THIS IS NOT A SAFE SPACE,” which uses a couple words that are often negatively associated with my generation. …And to be quite frank… Given the current social climate, almost every generation living today… Anybody ever heard of Fox News? As a satire, this film succeeds at what it sets out to do. Introduce a set of characters who are so twisted and out of left field that despite having traits that some might find down to earth, their flaws stick out like a sore thumb. This made the movie wildly entertaining, but if I must state a couple negatives, it is that this movie nearly travels like a bullet train, almost too fast. The other negative, is that the characters come off as idiots. That is the point, but it can get annoying. There are such things as lovable idiots, and this movie has its moments of lovable idiocy, but it also has an occasional over the top vibe that could be seen as a problem.

This movie’s title is “Bodies Bodies Bodies” because that is also the title of a game these twenty-somethings play with each other. Think of it as “Clue” but without the board. Now, I understood the movie just fine. I understood what it was trying to go for in regards to the message. But if I had come close to not understanding something in the movie, it would be the game itself. The rules and actions of the game, based on the way they are presented in the movie, come off as more convoluted than they have to be. Maybe it is because of the characters and the way they are written. These are all obnoxious partiers who risked their lives through a hurricane just to be in the same place. If I watch the game being played out, it is a somewhat simple premise, but through the exposition and explanation this movie gives, it feels more convoluted than it should. Although it does remind me of when my friends introduce me to a game I never played or I play Yahtzee with someone who is not that experienced with the game. We’re not going to get it right from square one.

When it comes to A24’s slate this year, “Marcel the Shell” and “Everything Everywhere All at Once” are better movies. I would rather watch those again. Although, “Bodies Bodies Bodies” has more in line with the latter. “Bodies Bodies Bodies” has dark comedy, it is kind of zany, and fast-paced. Although if I must note one thing “Marcel” and “Everything Everywhere” had that this film did not, it would be heart. Granted, this is not the first film that I would think of when it comes to heart. It is a satire where friends almost in a way become enemies. If you are looking for an intentionally heartless movie, this might be a solid choice. But I also think this is where the movie becomes a double edged sword. The movie is really good at delivering a story where the characters become more and more unhinged. Although this craziness nearly reaches a tipping point which depending on your mood, could become a problem. Despite this, I had a good time with the movie and it was another solid addition to A24’s lovely roster of films.

In the end, “Bodies Bodies Bodies” was an absurdly fun movie. Emphasis on the absurd. This is not going to be a movie for everyone. Some might be annoyed by the pacing, others might think the characters are too over the top, and maybe it will not work as a satire. I had problems with the movie, and I evidently dove deep into them. But the positives of the film outweigh the negatives. I did laugh at the film, I found it amusing, but if I wanted to watch a horror movie where a bunch of rich people play a game around a single house, I would rather watch “Ready or Not.” Even with its flaws, “Bodies Bodies Bodies” is a fun time. I recommend the movie and I will give it a 7/10.

“Bodies Bodies Bodies” is now playing in theatres everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! I have more reviews coming soon! Stay tuned for my thoughts on the new creature feature, “Beast!” Also, I will soon be sharing my honest opinions about “Elvis,” which I finally got the chance to see. Last but not least, look forward to my review of the all new anime film “Inu-Oh!” No joke, I had an AMC A-List reservation to go see this film, but I ended up skipping it due to a last minute conflict. So I ended up driving out of state just to go see the film before it left theaters for good. Was it worth the drive? You’ll find out soon! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Bodies Bodies Bodies?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a movie that you enjoy that has a ton of unlikable characters? I think “Jurassic World” is one that comes to mind given the main characters’ motives and lack of dimension, but it is quite a spectacle. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Bullet Train (2022): A Rambunctious, Wild Ride That Lives Up To Its Transportive Name

DISCLAIMER: Before this review had been published, reports suggest Angelina Jolie had been revealed as a plantiff in recent assault allegations against her former partner, Brad Pitt. Scene Before (flicknerd.com) is a film review-centered website and will review “Bullet Train” in the same way it reviews any other movie regardless of who its crew happens to be and what their past actions are. Scene Before and its owner, Jack Drees, does not condone actions of assault.

“Bullet Train” is directed by David Leitch (Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2) and stars Brad Pitt (Mr. and Mrs. Smith, World War Z), Joey King (Ramona and Beezus, The Kissing Booth), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Godzilla, Avengers: Age of Ultron), Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta, Eternals), Andrew Koji (Warrior, Snake Eyes), Hiroyuki Sanada (The Last Samurai, Mortal Kombat), Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road, Nocturnal Animals), Bad Bunny, and Sandra Bullock (Gravity, The Lost City). This film centers around a former assassin, known by the name Ladybug, who is tasked with acquiring a briefcase on a bullet train, all the while encountering other deadly assassins.

Brad Pitt has been on fire in recent years with the success of Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Not only did he receive critical acclaim for the role, but he went on to win the Golden Globe, the BAFTA, the SAG, and the Oscar for his work. After adding all of these awards to his Tinder profile and wiping off his sweat from the forgettable “Ad Astra,” Brad Pitt is back to work releasing another cornerstone of the summer. Albeit this one definitely fits the definition of “summer movie” compared to his outing with Tarantino.

Not only is Pitt the big star this time around in this movie, because joining him you have cast members including Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry, both of whom are likely the best part of the entire story. Their chemistry is undeniable. Some of the major awards ceremonies like the Oscars do not rank on-screen couples or duos, but one awards show that does is the Razzies. If the Razzies decided to give a Worst On-Screen Couple nomination to Tangerine and Lemon, then I think they are high. Their awards body would need to seek a medical professional.

But behind the camera, you have an action director who has been making the rounds in recent years in David Leitch. He is a legend in regards to stuntwork, which he has been credited for in films like “The Matrix Reloaded,” “The Matrix Revolutions,” “300,” “TRON: Legacy,” and even though I do not look back at “Jupiter Ascending” as the best sci-fi film ever, its stunts were never the problem. As a director, his work on “Atomic Blonde,” “Deadpool 2,” and “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” are thrilling to say the least. Therefore, it is nice to see him have another go at an action flick. Overall, I had a ball with Leitch’s latest attempt at delivering some fast-paced glory.

The biggest positive I can give to “Bullet Train” is that the action, per usual, is ridiculously entertaining. While somewhat similar, this outing seems to have a different flair compared to say “Deadpool 2” in terms of how the action is delivered. Let’s imagine… You sat me down to watch this film, and I went in blind. If you told me that this film were directed by Guy Ritchie, I would believe you. It kind of had that same pace that films like “Snatch” and “The Gentlemen” delivered. If anything, “Bullet Train” comes off as what would happen if Guy Ritchie were given some of the tools to direct a “John Wick” movie. Now, “John Wick” is obviously in a different universe, but the action in this movie felt somewhat reminiscent of something I’d see in a more modern, stylized action film such as John Wick. There is a great sequence between Ladybug and Wolf (Bad Bunny) where the latter goes all Jason Voorhees on him and the former’s main defense is a briefcase. It’s ridiculous, but as the review’s title suggests, this ridiculousness lives up to the name. The movie is over two hours and not nearly a minute of the movie feels wasted.

This film is based on a book which I have never read. Therefore, I cannot tell you the differences between the two stories. But what I can tell you is that at times, “Bullet Train,” the movie, feels like a graphic novel or a comic book. There are several shots and sequences that leap off the screen and made me feel like I was in the moment, perhaps in a hyperactive way.

Going back to Tangerine and Lemon, one of my favorite moments in the movie is where we get into this flashback sequence where we reveal how many people they killed. That is the spice this movie needed to individualize itself. It kind of had a “Deadpool” flair, which should not be surprising considering the director’s previous work. And again, it also kind of had the pace of a Guy Ritchie movie. I would love to see more stories told in this style, from this universe. It does not even have to be on the same characters. But if we could get a similarly set story from David Leitch’s mind perhaps, I would want to check it out.

But at the same time, if you ask me, I would rather go back and watch one of David Leitch’s previously mentioned movies. This is not a complete diss on “Bullet Train” because I had a GREAT time with “Bullet Train,” I just think “Atomic Blonde,” “Deadpool 2,” and “Hobbs & Shaw” offer a smidge more of entertainment than “Bullet Train.” Just a smidge. The one thing I can say is that the competition for which David Leitch movie I randomly put on the TV on a Friday night just got a lot harder, because these are all entertaining flicks in their own way. “Atomic Blonde” feels grounded yet fun. “Deadpool 2” is silly yet gory. “Hobbs & Shaw” is absurd yet delightful. “Bullet Train,” if you ask me, is obnoxious yet hilarious. It has the right amount of ridiculous, but it does not go too over the top in an annoying way. Kind of like “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” It is a movie that knows what it is from starts to finish. It starts as a nonsensical spy movie, and ends as an even more nonsensical, but also satisfying spy movie.

Also, I must say, that as someone who grew up with “Thomas the Tank Engine,” this movie is a wonderful tribute to my childhood. You would have to see the movie to understand.

If I had any other comments in regard to “Bullet Train,” the main one that comes to mind, sticking with the ridiculousness, is that the ending is probably some of the most stupid fun I have ever had during any of my recent moviegoing experiences. “Bullet Train” is willing to embrace its ridiculous nature and the ending is just the cherry on top. If you like big, loud action movies, this could be for you. I’d rather watch “John Wick,” but when it comes to being a supposed “John Wick” wannabe, this is a fun ride that you might want to buckle up for.

In the end, “Bullet Train” is probably some of the most fun I have had at the movies this summer. All the actors do their best with the material. And while Brad Pitt does a good job in the movie as Ladybug, the whole story eventually becomes the Tangerine and Lemon show. I would love to see another story with these two as the leads. Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry play their parts with excellence. This is a slow month for movies, but if you are looking for something to watch, I would buy a ticket to ride what I would call a fast-paced thrill. I am going to give “Bullet Train” a 7/10.

“Bullet Train” is now playing in theatres everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for the all new A24 film “Bodies Bodies Bodies!” Stay tuned! Also, be on the lookout for my thoughts on “Beast!” 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 “Bullet Train?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite of David Leitch’s films? For me, I gotta say of the ones he’s directed, “Deadpool 2” stands out the most. Let me know your picks down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Vengeance (2022): B.J. Novak Directs and Stars in A Texas-Sized Slice of Mediocrity

“Vengeance” is directed by and stars B.J. Novak (The Office, Saving Mr. Banks). Joining him is a cast consisting of Boyd Holbrook (Logan, The Predator), Dove Cameron (Descendants, Liv and Maddie), Issa Rae (Little, The Lovebirds), and Ashton Kutcher (That 70s Show, Two and Half Men). The film is about a writer who travels to rural Texas and attempts to figure out the happenings behind the murder of a girl he previously hooked up with.

I live in Massachusetts, and as someone who lives in Massachusetts, I often get excited to hear that particular people from my state like Elizabeth Banks or Ben Affleck get involved in a project or do a project of their own. I feel a sense of pride as a “wicked smaht” Bay Stater who occasionally stops by a Dunkin’. The U.S. version of “The Office,” despite being a sitcom I could never get into, has a few Bay Staters in the main cast including Steve Carell, John Krasinski, and the one we are going to focus on for this review, B.J. Novak.

Unfortunately for Novak, of the three stars of “The Office” I previously mentioned, he is the one I know the least about. I am more likely to acknowledge Carell or Krasinski. Steve Carell has terrific range from doing voiceovers in projects like the “Despicable Me” franchise, slapstick comedy through movies like “Anchorman,” and even drama flicks such as “Beautiful Boy.” John Krasinski is obviously known for his acting career, but I have grown fond of him for his directorial efforts in “A Quiet Place” and its sequel. But, this year, Novak is the new Krasinski. Not only is he directing a movie, he is starring in that same movie.

Although Krasinski has the upper hand if you ask me, because the concept of his movie felt more marketable. It felt more attractive. Novak’s new film, “Vengeance,” like any movie, could be good. But the trailer, if I had anything positive to say, barely sold me. Then I saw the movie… What did I think?

In theory, I like the messages this movie tries to convey. It dives into a number of a conversation-starting topics and ideas. Do we stereotype people too much or do stereotypes continue to have a place in our society? Is humanity, from a general perspective, too full of itself? Are we too attached to our electronics and is it heavily affecting what we could be experiencing in the real world? I like these concepts and questions. But it pains me to say that these are all presented in a script that could have been better.

Speaking of which, not only did Novak direct and star in the film, he wrote it too. This was undoubtedly a personal project, which only makes me feel worse that I have to describe why it did not work for me.

You want to know what sucks? Vacuums. You want to know what blows? Protagonists who you do not particularly like from the first scene. I wanted to relate to the character of Ben Manalowitz (right), and while I was able to find charm from the character here and there, I do not think the character was written in a way that sat well with me. The movie sells this character as a writer who has very much adapted to the northern city life. But in addition to that, he often came off as moody, or unlikable on the outside. I do not know what it is, but I feel like every scene he was in, he did not want to be doing what he was doing. I like the concept of his character, and he does his best to enforce the conceptual messages which I did enjoy, but the execution could have been better.

As I watched this movie, I got the sense that it was trying to present itself, maybe to an audience like mine, as a cultural shock. You know how you enter a country you’ve read a ton about but you have never been to? This is what I felt as a Bay Stater watching this movie about rural Texas. It is a movie that maybe is supposed to induce feelings of discomfort or unfamiliarity, and I think it did its job. But at the same time, I felt like some of the stuff that happens in Texas, at least in this movie, were a bit over the top. I was looking at the New York or more urban scenes and felt a contrast between that and the rural scenes. The rural scenes, or their centered characters, felt more exaggerated, more like cartoons at times. According to Wikipedia, B.J. Novak traveled to Texas to do research on the area and hoped that would translate into the movie’s concept or story. I do not know how over the top rural Texas is as I have never been, but I need to know how Novak came up with these specific Texan characters.

If I had to declare my favorite part of “Vengeance,” it would be one clip where Ben interviews the family and asks them some questions. In one scene, he asks what makes the family’s area so great. It only takes a second for the young boy, known by the nickname “El Stupido,” to shout “WHATABURGER!” Other than spending an hour or two at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to catch a connecting flight, I have never been to Texas. But even as someone from the north, the moment I heard the word “Whataburger,” I knew that this would be a somewhat accurate description of certain parts of Texas. We do not get Whataburger in Massachusetts, but it is everywhere in Texas. I know people who have been, and they say it is quite good. And besides, I go back to what I say in the beginning of the post and that random Dunkin’ comment. Like Whataburger, I can say that Dunkin’ is sort of a cornerstone to the lives of New Englanders. Obviously, Dunkin’ can be seen on the west coast. But there is a reason why Whataburger has such an association with Texas, and New England sports stars like David Ortiz and Rob Gronkowski have done commercialized material together for Dunkin’. So, good job on the inside humor.

Before we close off this review, I have to say the flaw that stuck with me the most is the way the film ended. I do not want to give any spoilers as this movie is only a few weeks old, but I will remind everyone reading this that the film is called “Vengeance” for a reason. Part of that reason is shown in the film’s climax. This allows us to see our protagonist do something, I will not say what, that felt completely out of character for them. Some may argue that this is “character development,” but as someone who saw the film, I would say that this was tacked on. Yes, in screenwriting, and therefore, in movies, there are “rules.” They do not always have to be followed, art and filmmaking are subjective after all, but nevertheless. One of the cliches of a protagonist is that they have to change throughout the film. And we see that here. Doesn’t mean the change is good. Once again, the concept is there, but the execution is not.

In the end, “Vengeance” could have been better. This is not the worst movie of the year, but if you are looking for something to watch at this point, there are better options out there. Unfortunately this August is a slow month for movies, especially more mainstream titles. But I would nevertheless recommend you even go see “Top Gun: Maverick” a third time at this point. I went into “Vengeance” not knowing what to expect and I left feeling unsatisfied. I wish B.J. Novak the best in his future works,. If he decides to direct more movies, I hope they are better than this forgettable outing. I am going to give “Vengeance” a 5/10.

“Vengeance” is now playing in theaters and is also available to watch on VOD platforms.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for the brand new Brad Pitt-starring action flick “Bullet Train.” I will not say much about it other than the fact that it literally lives up to its name. If you want to know my thoughts, stay tuned for the review. Also coming up, I will be sharing my thoughts on “Bodies Bodies Bodies” and “Beast.” 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 “Vengeance?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite project involving B.J. Novak? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!