Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999): Worst For Chronologically First

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Today is May 23rd! Here’s hoping you are feeling the force today and every day! Today we are going to begin an all-new miniseries, 7 Days of Star Wars. We are going to talk about a “Star Wars” film for each day that we progress through this week. I have reviewed most of the core “Star Wars” movies such as a couple of the sequel trilogy installments and Disney spinoffs like “Rogue One.” However, this is a project I have waited to do for years. Partially because of time constraints, trying to find the right days to pull something like this off, and the typical human issue we all have, hesitancy towards actually sitting down and doing something. Some say they are gonna write a novel, but never actually get to the point of starting to write a novel. I am not saying that me doing “Star Wars” reviews is like me writing a novel, but I have been pondering over this idea since maybe 2016, perhaps 2017. I had a friend or two request me to talk about these films. Although I don’t usually take requests and I wondered how I wanted to go about doing something like this. That is why during my 5th anniversary of Scene Before, we are going big. 7 “Star Wars” movies. One new review per day. All for your entertainment. Ladies and gentlemen, it is time for the first entry of… 7 DAYS OF STAR WARS!

“Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” is directed by George Lucas (American Graffiti, THX 1138) and stars Liam Neeson (Schindler’s List, Michael Collins), Ewan McGregor (Emma, Trainspotting), Jake Lloyd (Jingle All the Way, The Pretender), Natalie Portman (Leon: The Professional, Mars Attacks!), Ian McDiarmid (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Dragonslayer), Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker (Time Bandits, Flash Gordon), Pernilla August (The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, The Serpent’s Way), and Frank Oz (The Dark Crystal, The Muppet Movie). This film tells the journey of two Jedi, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi Wan Kenobi, as they escape a hostile blockade and find themselves with a young boy on Tatooine. This young boy, Anakin Skywalker, is prophesized to bring balance to the force. Although the Sith, arch rivals of the Jedi, are desperate for a return to glory.

Wow. Can’t believe it took me this long, but here we go. “Star Wars Episode I” is an interesting film from the surface because as a kid, it is the one that I watched the least. I say that as someone who grew up with the prequels and not the originals. And it is not because I did not like the movie. I had little to no concept of what a “good” or “bad” movie was as a kid. I borrowed my cousin’s DVD at one point, I MAY have rented it from Blockbuster, and I am pretty sure that is the most exposure I had of the film as a kid except for when it aired on Spike. I owned all the live-action “Star Wars” movies as a kid, except for “The Phantom Menace.” I even owned “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” on DVD as a kid and I still never owned “The Phantom Menace.” I did not own “The Phantom Menace” until buying a used Blu-ray copy of The Prequel Trilogy at the Northshore Mall Newbury Comics.

I will be completely real with you about the “Star Wars” prequels. There are some genuinely good things about these movies. They are marvelous to look at. Then again, which “Star Wars” movie is not? While they may not be the goto standard these days in regards to visuals, they have been a major influence to CGI and digital effects. And even though they kind of harm the lore that was previously established in the original trilogy, they also introduce some new ideas to the universe that we have not been exposed to yet. We’ll definitely be talking about Darth Plagueis the Wise when we get to Episode III, but unfortunately we are talking about Episode I which I would consider to not just be the worst prequel, but perhaps arguably the worst “Star Wars” movie ever.

I was not joking in the subtitle when I said that the worst comes chronologically first. Because OH MY GOD, there is so much that is wrong with this movie. I don’t even know where to start. The movie admittedly starts off fine because one of the things that separates this trilogy from the original is the fact that this takes place in a time where Jedi were more likely to be found. They were in their prime, they were badass, and the opening scene of the film were we see Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan slice heads off battle droids solidifies that. “The Phantom Menace” is like the Bloomin’ Onion from Outback Steakhouse. Sure, having it is great, but if you think too much, it may ruin the experience of taking it all in.

The sad thing about “The Phantom Menace” is that when it comes to the characters, I can almost barely remember a single thing about them. Qui-Gon Jinn wields a green lightsaber, he does some cool stuff, he’s played by Liam Neeson, and that is about it. There is not much depth to his character that would really make me remember him or care about him. Say what you want about the recent sequel trilogy, one thing they did really well in those movies is build some semblance of backstory for Rey and Finn. The backstories for them may have been somewhat bumpy, but they’re backstories nevertheless. Here, George Lucas pretty much goes as far to say, “Well, they’re Jedi Knights. Watch them.” That ain’t enough, Georgie! Give me some backstory! I don’t care about Qui-Gon! I don’t care about Darth Maul! They do cool things in the movie, but it does not make them great characters. It just makes them eye candy! Heck! Jar Jar Binks, the literal joke of the film, has more of a backstory than Qui-Gon! At least a backstory that I can cite for someone who happens to be curious. Jar Jar is clumsy and is hated by his peers. Done.

Oh yeah, about Jar Jar being the joke of the film. All respect to Ahmed Best, I have no intention of harming him as a professional, but wow his character SUCKS. And I must admit, it takes the “Star Wars” name, which arguably is for kids and young adults, and instead makes it for toddlers. Jar Jar Binks is what happens when you let a toddler write a “Star Wars” movie with their dad. The father has all the civilized characters. Jedi, droids, hutts, royalty, and then you have the toddler come in with a character they thought of, and because the father has to be a good sport and avoid disappointing his son, he lets the newly established character into the script. It ultimately ruins the film and divides the tone from the point this character begins to appear. It’s like if you put Peter Griffin in the “Lord of the Rings” universe. Can you imagine how the secret meeting would go?

Aragorn: [to Frodo] If by my life or death I can protect you, I will. You have my sword…

Legolas: And you have my bow.

Gimli: And *my* axe.

Peter: You know what really grinds my gears? Eagles! They’re stupid! They stop flying before you actually get to your destination! And they made the Patriots lose a Super Bowl!

Frodo: For Pete’s sake…

Gimli: Shut up, you dwarf-brained imbecile.

Peter: Oh, sorry sorry. You have my Road House kicks.

Despite living in a world where I happen to be extremely tolerant of everyone regardless of who they are, Jar Jar Binks represents that barrier of tolerance I have for some people, and by that I mean, he crosses it significantly. Binks cements himself as the most annoying nuisance to ever exist in the “Star Wars” universe. There are some characters that have failures or downfalls in the “Star Wars” universe, or in many other stories by the way, who I continue to root for because I want to see them succeed after their recent blunder. Jar Jar Binks, the half-assed comic relief of this “film” is not one of them because he makes one mistake too many. They say that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. Well they also say you cannot teach Jar Jar Binks any tricks whatsoever. Old or new. Everything he does represents embarrassment or failure. I do not want to go into much detail, but this goes into the lack of dimension this character happens to have. I think Qui-Gon Jinn did a really good job at putting Jar Jar in his place as best he could.

Qui-Gon Jinn: The ability to speak does not make you intelligent. Now get out of here.

In fact, speaking of Qui-Gon, I want to go back to something I said earlier on. He’s a Jedi Knight, and we have gotten a sense of this throughout the entire film. Although we see throughout the film, Obi-Wan is considered to be Qui-Gon’s Padawan. Granted, he is rather skilled, but nevertheless. Here’s the problem, and it is a spoiler, so I do apologize in advance. At the end of the film, Obi-Wan is promoted from his role as a Padawan to a Jedi Knight.

Why is that a problem? Let’s look at the opening crawl of the movie.

“While the congress of the Republic endlessly debates this alarming chain of events, the Supreme Chancellor has secretly dispatched two Jedi Knights, the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy, to settle the conflict….”

Wait! Obi-Wan was a Jedi Knight this whole time? I think we have an imposter! Space security! Put this liar in jail!

This movie cannot even follow its own rules. I have tremendous respect for George Lucas as a filmmaker. He created one of the most iconic stories in not just film history, but the history of storytelling in general. I imagine he had a backstory planned for a number of elements in the franchise for years. But I feel like when it comes to bringing such a backstory to life, he could not take what was on paper and turn it into magic. And speaking of magic… That is LITERALLY gone in this movie and instead replaced with science.

F*cking. Science.

Now, I love science. Dinosaurs are awesome. Computers are amazing. Space is spectacular. But not all science is created equal. Some people consider “Star Wars” to be science fiction. And I would not say those people are wrong, but I’d also argue given how magical elements inserted into the franchise like the force and the fact that this film supposedly happened “a long time ago,” it is technically science fantasy. “The Phantom Menace” turns fantasy into a night terror with a simple question.

Anakin: “What are midichlorians?”

No seriously. WHAT THE EVER-LIVING CRAP ARE MIDICHLORIANS?! Well, according to Qui-Gon Jinn…

“Midi-chlorians are a microscopic life form that resides within all living cells.”

So you mean to tell me… That one can become a Jedi from being born with something? I actually hate this. Like, literally hate this. Hate is a strong word. But I think that is the best word I could possibly use here. In the 1977 “Star Wars,” seeing Luke Skywalker train to become a Jedi did not come off as if a gifted individual, and only a gifted individual, could use the force. At the time, he was just an ordinary boy with ordinary problems. He chose the path of the force not because he was special, but because he wanted to fulfill a destiny and live a life. Sure, Anakin had his problems too. He was a slave after all, but this movie goes to show how far the franchise has fallen. It has gone from choice and magic to prophecy and science. Yes, Anakin chooses to go on to become a Jedi, but again, I had less of a reason to root for him. While Luke had his grievances with being on Tatooine, he was still a somewhat likable character that came off as relatable. He was a dreamer. Anakin is just an annoying brat, and unfortunately, Jake Lloyd failed to sell me on the role. I don’t even know if I can blame Lloyd however, because for one thing, Lloyd was a child when filming “The Phantom Menace,” and at his age, he likely had less experience than Mark Hamill did when he started playing Luke. Hamill was in his twenties whereas Lloyd was not even a teenager when this film was made. But you know, it’s “Star Wars!” One of the most iconic names in film of all time! And you also have George Lucas! One of the most visionary creators of all time! At least “The Phantom Menace” had some good writing. Right?

Not really.

Queen Amidala : You’re a slave?

Anakin : I’m a person and my name is Anakin.

WOW! Thank you! For a second I was really confused and thought you were an armadillo! Thank you *so much* for clearing that up for me! Anakin, you’re the best!

Anakin, as a character, was just never set up well. Sure, there are increments of his backstory that bring some intrigue to the table, but the execution of the character feels sloppy at times, especially at the end of the film, part of which feels like was written by the same toddlerish mind who came up with Jar Jar Binks! There are some similarities between “The Phantom Menace” and the original “Star Wars.” Both involve Skywalkers. Both have R2-D2 and C-3PO. Both have climactic sequences involving spaceflight. Now about that last thing. In the original “Star Wars,” that last sequence felt planned and as if everything associated with it had a place and purpose. The climactic spaceflight sequence in “The Phantom Menace,” where Anakin goes into space in a ship on autopilot and flies to the control ship, feels like everything in it happens by accident or coincidence. Nothing feels like it matters, even though it leads to something big towards the end of the film. This is practically the Murphy’s Law of “Star Wars!” Nothing matters! Anything that can happen will happen! Let’s try spinning! That’s a good trick! Let’s try pod racing! That’s a GREAT trick! Maybe this would work as a Disney ride, but I can say that it does not work as a sequence in a film.

I will admit though, the pod race sequence was pretty fun. It might even be the best part of the movie. Well, except for one. We’ll get to it momentarily.

But about the pod-racing. This was one of the best set up sequences in the entire film. For starters, we are introduced to it when first seeing Anakin, and we get to know that in a way, it is important to him. His friends see his pod and doubt him. Qui-Gon makes a bet against Watto for the boy and proposes to put his hyperdrive part at risk. And we are warned of some of the dangers that lie ahead in a race like this. In a way, these dangers were met. When the race is on, it is on. We see pods flying, crashing, and there’s a good mix of brains and skill that goes into maintaining the pod, both on and off the track. I would love to see a “Star Wars” movie or series specifically dedicated to pod-racing. I know we have a video game, but I would love to see more of this on screen if possible. Then again, I love the concept of racing in general, so I may be a little biased. Basically, the best way I could describe the pod race in “The Phantom Menace” is if “Star Wars” had a baby with “Death Race.” It is fun, fast-paced, and occasionally off the rails.

Now about that best part… I mentioned in the beginning of the review that this movie did a really good job at solidifying the Jedi as people you do not want to mess with. At the end of the movie, when you have Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon going up against Darth Maul, the movie also does an equally impressive job at making the Sith a worthy opponent. Between his dual-blade lightsaber and his tendency to keep up the pace while dealing with more than one opponent, Maul is a boss in this film. Unfortunately though, the character, similar to Qui-Gon, has very little depth to him other than existing on the dark side and being sent in to capture Amidala while also finishing off the Jedi. This film does such a terrible job at establishing the threat despite having them look cool. Darth Maul has a double lightsaber, but not much else.

In “A New Hope,” we had Grand Moff Tarkin of all people. Grand Moff Tarkin was not much more than a guy who wore a uniform, but he had a sense of intimidation. He had a commanding presence, the entire room could bow down to him at any moment. Even Darth Vader would listen to his demands. Remember that scene where everyone is in the board room talking about the Death Star being the ultimate power in the universe? Someone mocks Vader for following the force, to which he chokes the naysayer and utters, “I find your lack of faith disturbing.” Tarkin then says, “Vader, release him!” He gives in. They say actions speak louder than words. But when I remember the double lightsaber-wielding badass as LESS of a threat than the guy who walks around saying things like “You may fire when ready,” that says something about these two films. Maybe it is not the best comparison, because Tarkin did take control of a planet-killing machine whereas Darth Maul does a bunch of Sith tricks. But again, it goes to show that when it comes to “The Phantom Menace,” the villains just do not strike any fear. They do not make me feel afraid or like I’m going to see them in my nightmares. When it comes to the kickstarters of their respective trilogies, “The Phantom Menace” is eye candy, but “Star Wars” is candy you can eat.

But I’d argue that BOTH films are ear candy, partially because of the musical mastermind known as John Williams. When I saw the last few “Star Wars” movies for the first time at the theater, I would have a playlist set up to blast in the car or on the bus with my headphones on. When doing so, I would make it a priority to put Episode I’s “Duel of the Fates,” arguably in my top 3 or 5 “Star Wars” tracks ever, which SAYS something about the music in this franchise, on the list.

To call this track bonkers and exciting would be an understatement. If “The Phantom Menace” did one thing right, it is getting John Williams to add his musical touch to another portion of the “Star Wars” universe. Williams is just a small fraction of what made those original films so memorable from his opening crawl music that may be the most iconic intro music ever made, to his theme for Princess Leia, to the Imperial March. Again, if these films did something right, it is getting one of the best film composers to ever exist to return and unleash more of his creative juices. And if this film reveals anything, he did not run out of steam after “Return of the Jedi.” If anything, he dialed up his creative meter to an 11. You’ll get this idea as we go along, but even though I have an easily obtainable idea of what my favorite “Star Wars” film is, not to mention what my least favorite “Star Wars” film is, I have a ton of trouble deciding which score, at least in the Skywalker Saga, is my favorite, because Williams smashes it with each go. That is part of why I love the final lightsaber duel so much with the two Jedi against Darth Maul in addition to all the crazy choreography that comes with it. This music is a perfect encapsulation of the future hanging in the balance for almost any scenario imaginable. It can take even an event as boring as watching paint dry and make it exciting. This is the power of John Williams. This is why he has built such an amazing library of “Star Wars” music. The maestro just doesn’t shy away from giving it his all.

I just wish this movie were as good as the music.

“The Phantom Menace” kind of reminds me of “Justice League.” The 2017 version, not the Snyder Cut. Because in that film, the tone was all over the place. One moment it is as light as a feather. The next moment it is moody. It really doesn’t have an identity. In “The Phantom Menace,” we go from a space adventure with Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon to a live-action cartoon with Jar Jar to a political debate with Senator Palpatine and all the others that make this movie significantly dull at times (OH MY LORD THE POLITICS ARE A SNOOZE). The odd thing is, even though you could argue that “Star Wars” from 1977 had a target audience of 12 year olds, it was so enjoyable that anyone could watch it, pick up the message from the movie, and embrace it. “The Phantom Menace” almost doesn’t even have a singular tone that it could be defined by, therefore it almost cannot dedicate itself to a single audience. I just look back at this film and ask… Who is this for? It’s got explosions and sword fights! So maybe it’s for younger kids and teenagers! But it’s got space politics! So is it for adults, actually? But then it has Jar Jar Binks and him repeatedly saying “Meesa” to the point where it splits my head open so I wondered if the film was for infants. “The Phantom Menace” goes in a lot of directions at once, but it’s like computer RAM. If you put in too much information, it can get overwhelming. Georgie! Close some tabs, will ya please?

In the end, “The Phantom Menace” is just a film that evokes the phrase “style over substance.” We start off with Jedi being badasses and end with said Jedi fighting a double blade lightsaber guy. Yes, this movie has a story. It has a point A. It has a point B. Unfortunately, it comes with lore expansions that infuriate me the more I think about them. Midichlorians suck. End of story. The best comparison I can give about this movie is that I can imagine it as if it were a chicken nugget. “Star Wars: A New Hope” is like a good old chicken nugget that I get every now and then, I put it in my mouth, and it tastes delicious. I keep coming back for more. “The Phantom Menace” on the other hand, also represents that chicken nugget. But instead of enjoying its god-like taste, I just found out the revolting secret recipe. The force tastes savory, but seeing how it is conceived is best left to the imagination. “The Phantom Menace” adds one or two good things to the “Star Wars” franchise. But the negatives unfortunately outweigh the positives significantly. This film tarnishes the lore in the “Star Wars” universe that has been established in the original trilogy, adds new lore that is uninteresting, and focuses less on characterization and more on looking cool. And that says something because I honestly think there are quite a few digital effects in this film that aged rather poorly to this day. Will say though, if it means anything, Liam Neeson did his best with the material given to him, and Ewan McGregor did an alright job as Obi-Wan. Although he personally gets better in the next two films. Also, one last thing, Coruscant is a cool planet. That’s about it. That was a lot to talk about. I didn’t even talk about everything! I left out Mace Windu for crying out loud! I’m going to give “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” a 3/10.

This was a hard film to grade. The fan in me wants to give it a 1 because of how much it sullies the original trilogy. The part of my brain that likes looking at things on a screen wants the grade to be a little higher. Perhaps at least a 5 or 6. However there are one or two good things about the film that cannot be ignored. Unfortunately, again, these positives are kept to a minimum. But hey, at least Yoda had the right idea all along.

“Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

This was not my first time watching “The Phantom Menace,” but having seen it and remembering my horror stories, because I did watch it more than once in some recent years for varying reasons, I went in fearing the results. Then I got angry because of Jar Jar, which made me hate myself for putting in this movie and sitting through it. And of course, I suffered through the rest of it because I had to put out this review.

Thanks, Master Yoda! You really are wise!

One last thing. I think I did a pretty good job with my review for “The Phantom Menace,” but I’m gonna be real. There is someone out there in the land of YouTube that has arguably created a near perfect “Episode I” review. It is one of the most hilarious video reviews I have ever seen. If you want something fun to watch, take a gander RedLetterMedia’s review of “The Phantom Menace.” Part 1 of the video is posted below! Check it out!

Thanks for reading this review! That is one day of “Star Wars” down and we have six to go. TOMORROW, I will be sharing my review for “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.” The second “Star Wars” prequel and it is one that a few of my friends probably consider to actually be worse than “The Phantom Menace.” I won’t give my thoughts just yet. You’ll have to find out tomorrow on Scene Before! If you want to find out, make sure you are following Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account. Also be sure to check out the Facebook page and may the force be with you! I want to know, did you see “The Phantom Menace?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite “Star Wars” world, planet, or moon? For me, I’d have to pick Coruscant. I’m an urban guy so that pick is a goto for me. Although I do like the idea of Starkiller Base if that counts as a planet. Let me know your picks down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

ROGUE ONE: https://flicknerd.com/2016/12/16/rogue-one-a-star-wars-story-a-movie-built-on-hope/

THE LAST JEDI: https://flicknerd.com/2017/12/15/star-wars-episode-viii-the-last-jedi-2017-another-year-another-star-wars-movie/

SOLO: https://flicknerd.com/2018/05/25/solo-a-star-wars-story-2018-somehow-this-star-wars-movie-exists/

THE RISE OF SKYWALKER: https://flicknerd.com/2019/12/20/star-wars-the-rise-of-skywalker-2019-the-final-word-in-the-story/

7 Days of Star Wars FINAL TRAILER

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! TOMORROW, May 23rd, we will take our first steps into a larger world. That world to be specific, is “Star Wars.” To get you all ready for this ambitious undertaking that I cannot believe how long it has taken me to actually get around to doing, I will unleash my second and final trailer to coincide with the event.

I do want to apologize to anyone who wondered where these reviews were. I did not make an update video for YouTube, or an official update post here for a specific date change, although I did let everyone know on other forms of social media like Facebook that the series would be shifted from its original May 2nd to May 8th run to a new lineup that goes from May 23rd to May 29th. I’ve been busy, I’ve been vaccinated, I’ve been focusing on school, so I’ve had more important things going on in life. I apologize.

Now this is, as the title suggests, “7 DAYS OF STAR WARS,” that means on Scene Before, the entire week will be filled with “Star Wars” reviews. Nothing else. Even though I have to work on reviews for “Wrath of Man,” “Profile,” and “Army of the Dead,” those can wait. By the way, stay tuned for those reviews. Even though “A Quiet Place Part II” and “Cruella” release this upcoming weekend, I will not be reviewing those right away. All of those reviews, as much as I may want to do them, may have to wait until June. Also note, I have already reviewed “Rogue One,” “The Last Jedi,” “Solo,” and “The Rise of Skywalker.” Looking back, there are things that I could potentially add to my reviews, most especially “The Last Jedi” because my opinion has shifted DRAMATICALLY since my first viewing, but we are not going to worry about that. Instead, we are going to talk about the seven films in the Skywalker Saga that I have not discussed on Scene Before as of yet.

These include:

The Phantom Menace: May 23rd
Attack of the Clones: May 24th
Revenge of the Sith: May 25th
Star Wars/A New Hope: May 26th
The Empire Strikes Back: May 27th
Return of the Jedi: May 28th
The Force Awakens: May 29th

After I review “The Force Awakens” on May 29th, I will have talked about all of the main line “Star Wars” films from Episodes I-IX and the recent Disney spinoffs. The circle will be complete. The link for the final trailer for 7 DAYS OF STAR WARS is down below. Special reminder that tomorrow will be the day I post my review for “The Phantom Menace.” It should be up by the afternoon, and for my Instagram followers on @realscenebefore, I should have the links between reviews replaced within a near 24 hour span. These terms may change, they may not, we shall fulfill our destiny as we go.

May the force be with you, emphasis on the May.

Four Good Days (2020): Glenn Close and Mila Kunis Deliver Dramatic Excellence and Spot on Chemistry

“Four Good Days” is directed by Rodrigo Garcia (The Affair, In Treatment) and stars Glenn Close (The Wife, The Hillbilly Elegy), Mila Kunis (Family Guy, Bad Moms), and Stephen Root (The Man in the High Castle, Get Out) in a film where a mother and daughter reunite after an extended falling out. Molly (Kunis) commits to sobriety and hopes to do so with the help of an “opioid antagonist.” Throughout that time, she lives with her parents and receives assistance from her mother in trying to become clean.

I consider myself to be in a position that makes me feel rather blessed. I come from a family that does not have much of a history when it comes to drug abuse. Sure, I know people who smoke. I know people who drink. I’ll admit I maybe drink a little more soda than I should. But currently, I do not know of any scenario in my family where someone has a serious drug problem that has affected everyone around them, at least none that come to mind. Speaking of keeping things to keep in mind, I want you to keep this in mind because this sort of will have to do with my opinion regarding this film.

I saw this film over a week ago because I was intrigued by a clip I saw on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” during an interview with Mila Kunis, I will not go into everything just yet, but I walked out of the theater feeling floored. Between the performances of the two leads, the directions in which they took the story from point A to point B and so on, and even the notion that this was based on reality, I was amazed by “Four Good Days.”

Then I went to IMDb, and I noticed a bunch of low scores. I then wondered, “Why?”

Now, I am not trying to say that everyone should simply be swayed by what other people say on the Internet, but again, I have little experience when it comes to life involving drugs, which may be a good thing. But I noticed that there are some negative reviews suggesting that this movie would generalize people on drugs. In a way, I can kind of understand that. There is a movie that I refuse to watch to this day, even if it is the greatest film ever made, because of its supposed message regarding the autistic community, specifically Sia’s “Music.” And this involves not just content of the movie itself, but also some behind the scenes work.

Even so, having seen the negative reviews, I wondered if this movie was really as good as I said it was. The answer, yes, it is still great. As a story, this film is a goldmine from start to finish. Yes, it has cliches, and it is slightly predictable depending on what moment we are talking about, but the film succeeds in having me as a viewer root for Molly in order to follow a path to cleanliness. Like, REALLY root for her.

I also want to address Molly’s looks. Now, Mila Kunis is often described as one of the most attractive actresses on the planet. It is honestly ridiculous to consider how great she looks. But in this movie, you can see she’s had slight alterations to her appearance from oddly dyed hair to fake teeth. The movie did do a great job at making me think Mila Kunis was somebody else, because even in her best (non-Family Guy related) performances, I can still see a shade of her every now and then.

This film is based on a true story, which was captured in a newspaper article you can find through the Washington Post. The article, written by Eli Saslow and titled “‘How’s Amanda?’ A story of truth, lies and an American addiction,” is almost the same thing as the movie from start to finish. It shares a lot of the same quotes, events, some of the names almost interlink, but I also noticed that Amanda, at least in the pictures the article provides looks more like a person that really has not deteriorated much over the years. That is compared to Molly, played by Mila Kunis. This is where all the previously mentioned negative reviews come in, and I understand those. This may be the one glaring negative I have about the film, because other than this, “Four Good Days” sucks your soul out in perhaps the greatest way possible. The last time I think I’ve said this about a film was probably “Parasite” because that film is so well done and incomparable because of how dark it can get and how much it can satisfy you despite occasionally having a terrifying turn every step of the way.

One of the other shining positives of “Four Good Days” is the perspective of the parental side of things. I very much enjoyed seeing Glenn Close, who is excellent in this film, question herself on whether she is doing the right thing. Parenting is a difficult task on its own, and this movie takes it up to another level. We see at the beginning that the mother daughter duo are not quite connected at that point. The relationship evolves through the film as you may guess, but seeing the disconnect and somewhat forced attempt at making a connection at times between these two felt rather authentic. I can tell it is really hard for the mother, otherwise known as Deb, to reestablish a bond with a daughter who has obviously changed over the years.

In a way, this reminds me of films in recent years like “Green Book” or “Summerland” or “The Last Shift” because it has that tendency to highlight unlikely bonds and put two people together that would not go well together on paper. Except that in this case, it literally involves a family that was once close but eventually separated by an object.

There is a reason why I love “Four Good Days” so much, and potentially more than a lot of people, and that is because of the bond between the mother and daughter character. Again, I say this as someone who does not have much experience with the dangers of drugs or people whose lives are taken over by drugs along with the person taking drugs. This is a story that I am glad went from text media to visual media because it is honestly bombastic as a visual story. I felt immersed, I cared for everyone involved from the main to the supporting characters, and the drama that builds up towards the end gets into your head and starts to destroy it second by second.

In the end, “Four Good Days” is a movie that I loved the moment I saw it, questioned my love for it afterwards, then validated said love moments later. Time will have to tell as for whether this will make my top 10 movies of the year. Given how little I have seen so far, it is definitely one of the better ones. I would love to sit with someone who has experienced a situation like this, watch this movie with them, and see what they think of it, because I think their perspective could help me formulate a full on opinion of this film. Until then, as a story, this film is magnificent. As art, it is moving. It also delivers Mila Kunis’s best performance of her career. As a piece of entertainment, I could definitely watch this again. So for those reasons, I am going to give “Four Good Days” a 9/10.

“Four Good Days” is now playing in select theaters and will be available through VOD services such as Fios On Demand, VUDU, and Prime Video starting May 21st.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review, which I do not know when it will be posted, will be for “Wrath of Man” starring Jason Statham. But, I also wanted to announce that this June I plan to do another update on my Blu-ray collection. I enjoy doing these posts and I’ve glad to talk about this concept at least once over the past couple years.

Speaking of big announcements…

7 DAYS OF STAR WARS!

IT’S HAPPENING! IT’S REAL! THE REVIEWS ARE BEING WRITTEN! The circle will be complete this month! I’ve reviewed every mainstream “Star Wars” film since “Rogue One,” including Episodes VIII and IX, but I have yet to talk about the episodes that came before, I through VII. THIS SUNDAY, MAY 23rd, I will be releasing my review for “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.” And of course, every other film will follow. Episode II will be released on May 24th! Episode III will be released on May 25th! Episode IV on May 26th! Episode V on May 27th! Episode VI on May 28th! Episode VII on May 29th! I have legitimately been planning for a time to talk about these movies, and with Scene Before existing for over half a decade and next week being the 44th anniversary of the franchise, I’d say this is perfect timing. Stay tuned, follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account, like the Facebook page, be updated, be in the know, and until then, may the force be with you. Emphasis on the may. I want to know, did you see “Four Good Days?” What did you think about it? Or, did you read the “How’s Amanda?” article, tell me your thoughts on that! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Mortal Kombat (2021): You May Want to Get Over Here For Some Things, But Not Everything

“Mortal Kombat” is directed by Simon McQuoid and stars Lewis Tan (Deadpool 2, Into the Badlands), Jessica McNamee (Sirens, Battle of the Sexes), Josh Lawson (Superstore House of Lies), Tadanobu Asono (Thor, 47 Ronin), Mehcad Brooks (Desperate Housewives, Supergirl), Ludi Lin (Aquaman, Power Rangers), Chin Han (The Dark Knight, Skyscraper), Joe Taslim (Fast & Furious 6, Star Trek: Beyond), and Hiroyuki Sanada (The Last Ship, The Wolverine). This film is based on the iconic video game franchise of the same name and is another attempt at possibly kickstarting a big screen “Mortal Kombat” movie franchise.

This film centers around an MMA fighter named Cole Young who seeks out Earth’s greatest fighters to defeat the enemies of Outworld with the fate of universe potentially at stake.

As I mentioned in my reviews for prior “Mortal Kombat” movies, I am familiar with the “Mortal Kombat” games even though I have barely played them. I know about the bloody nature and vibe, the rivalry between Sub-Zero and Scorpion, and the fact that it has spawned a couple of the more iconic utterances in video game history. Having seen the prior “Mortal Kombat” movies and having known what I know about the games, there was potential for this movie to be really good.

Buuuuut… One thing stood in the way. Actually two things. A first time writer and a first time director.

Now, the first time writer, otherwise known as Greg Russo, is technically accompanied by other experienced people who have writing credits, but still, it is a cause for concern. But the director of this film, Simon McQuoid, has literally nobody else by his side, nor does he have any credits for prior extended content.

“Mortal Kombat” is according to IMDb, Simon McQuoid’s (left) feature-length debut. The only other credit he has is for the video short titled “The Night-time Economy.” I’d be less concerned if the film I am talking about was less expensive or not based on any iconic property, but here we are. This is a reimagining of a popular video game intellectual property and it is being done by a couple of people who may clearly be passionate about what they’re doing, but with fewer credits to their name than I would desire.

Having seen “Mortal Kombat,” let me just start off by saying that I really enjoyed the movie. BUT… My concerns were met. In fact that’s not all! Not only are the directorial and written efforts for this film a cause for concern, but I will also add the editing is mediocre at best!

I have not seen all the “Bourne” movies. I have watched the first two from start to finish, started three, never finished it. Anyway, having seen those first two, I just remember both of those happen to be one of those action flicks that occasionally thinks fast pace can sometimes be taken too literally. Every other second, there is a cut during an action scene that shows us one thing, part of that thing happening again from a different angle, maybe some shaky cam is inserted here and there, and it does not give the viewer as much time to breathe. Do not get me wrong. Fast pace is everything to me. But if you watch movies in recent years like “John Wick,” you’d notice that they sometimes avoid reliance on quick cutting for the sake of showing an overload of information at once. They let a certain shot play out for a decent amount of time, that way the viewer can determine what is going on without needing to go somewhere else in terms of an angle. In “Mortal Kombat,” while I will say, I do not find the editing *as bad* as other people have confirmed it to be, it is still sometimes distracting and despite this being a fast-paced movie, there could have been a greater effort at cutting it together. At least those are my two cents.

For all I know, this may be on the director, because again, Simon McQuoid has not had much experience when it comes to filmmaking compared to other people. He has done this film, one short, and that is about it. In fact the editors on this film are experienced. Scott Gray has credits going back to the 1990s and Dan Lebental has done a ton of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films ranging from “Iron Man” to “Spider-Man: Far from Home.” So if anything, I do not know how much blame I can put towards them. I think Simon McQuoid, who I imagine is a nice guy, may have something to do with how the film turned out in the edit.

Despite the technical difficulties, I will point out, as a 21-year-old, who really has he mind of a 12-year-old sometimes, I enjoyed myself immensely watching this movie. It is not Shakespeare, the only Academy Award I could see this film going for is for visual effects, maybe costume design, but this is a vastly entertaining adaptation of “Mortal Kombat” and frankly better than the 1995 version. It is not much better for some reasons I already stated, but better nevertheless.

When it comes to recent movies based on video games, I do think it is slightly better than “Pokemon: Detective Pikachu” but not as fun as “Sonic the Hedgehog.” I will say though, it may end up being almost as rewatchable as the latter. Simply because of the fun this film provides as it goes for the edge, kind of like the games. Seeing gross, bloody finishers are sometimes simply satisfying. If I want eye candy, I would definitely watch this movie again.

But what about characterization? Would that make me watch the movie again? Hard to say. Yes, the movie does have a ton of the iconic characters from the games and gives a lot of promising details in terms of world-building and establishing identities, but sometimes the characters themselves are somewhat forgettable as someone who has barely played the games.

The main character of Cole Young is not that bad. He serves his purpose in the film. There is nothing that I can really say about him that is negative, but to call him the most memorable character of all time would be a lie. I understand the need of changing or adding something to material that already exists, but at the same time, Cole Young is not the holy grail of characters. I did not go see “Mortal Kombat” strictly for Cole Young, and as I stayed in my chair, I was interested in his journey, but his charisma was not as high as I would have wanted it to be. Although I do like one moment where he is learning about Mortal Kombat and points out that the word “Kombat” is not even spelled right. I don’t know, it got a laugh out of me.

Although the real scene stealer in this film is Kano.

Kano. Kano. Kano.

Kano is played by Josh Lawson, who owns his particular role because of his rugged voice, Australian accent that shines all the way through, and how his character is basically written to be the wise-cracking nutjob of the bunch. He’s almost got the personality of Deadpool or a Disney sidekick comic relief if such a character took a few drugs and enjoyed the ride. Safe to say, he is easily my favorite character of the movie and I would watch a film specifically centered around him as long as Josh Lawson is playing the role! He is well-written and realized perfectly for this bloody extravaganza!

In the end, “Mortal Kombat” is not a bad film, but it is also sadly, another example of why video game movies have yet to break this rock solid barrier. The film does a good job at establishing the world in which our characters roam. Unfortunately, characterization and filmmaking techniques leave a little to be desired. Again, this is Simon McQuoid’s feature-length directorial debut and it shows. It is also Greg Russo’s writing debut, and that shows as well. I can tell that there are elements of this movie that feel like they come from people who have played the games, which is one of the major strengths that comes with it. But passion is not enough. There also has to be talent, and there is unfortunately not enough brought to the table. Maybe if they got different people or a co-director with some experience, things could have worked out. But I don’t know. I am just hoping McQuoid and Russo move up from here. I am rooting for them. Until then, I’m going to give “Mortal Kombat” a positive grade of 6/10.

I decided to give it this grade because despite not being the best film in terms of craftsmanship, even though there are various shots, effects, and costumes that looked pretty neat, it is also one of the more entertaining films I have seen in some time. If you are at the movies and are looking for something to watch, give this film a chance. You may enjoy it. I also want to see a sequel. Although if that’s the case, maybe a different directorial or writing crew would make the film better. At least that is my assumption. Again, I am rooting for McQuoid and Russo in their careers, but they personally were not off to the best of starts. But hey, we all get our starts somewhere!

“Mortal Kombat” is now playing in theaters and is also currently available for a limited time on HBO Max for all subscribers.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for “Four Good Days” starring Glenn Close and Mila Kunis as a mother/daughter duo. The mother in particular tries to help the daughter escape her drug addiction and turn her life around. Stay tuned for that review and more great content on Scene Before! Follow either with an email or WordPress account, and also like the Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Mortal Kombat?” What did you think about it? Or, which movie is better? 1995 “Mortal Kombat” or 2021 “Mortal Kombat?” Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Godzilla vs. Kong: Maximized Monsters, Minimized Story, Balls Out Time

“Godzilla vs. Kong” is directed by Adam Wingard and stars Alexander Skarsgård (The Legend of Tarzan, Big Little Lies), Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things, Enola Holmes), Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3, The Prestige), Brian Tyree Henry (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Joker), Shun Oguri, Eiza González (Baby Driver, Alita: Battle Angel), Julian Dennison (Deadpool 2, The Christmas Chronicles 2), Lance Reddick (John Wick, Oz), Kyle Chandler (Game Night, The Wolf of Wall Street), and Demián Bichir (The Midnight Sky, The Hateful Eight). Without going into much detail, “Godzilla vs. Kong” follows the two titular titans as they duke it out with humanity watching closely. Throughout we also get to see humanity attempt to understand why these two are fighting, their origin stories, all the while trying to live to fight another day themselves.

Kong: Skull Island (2017) - Photo Gallery - IMDb

So far in the current Warner Bros. MonsterVerse, we have had three movies: “Godzilla,” which I thought was average, but watchable. “Kong: Skull Island,” which is fun at times but somewhat disposable. But I should also not forget the last one, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” given how it is the only one I reviewed of the bunch. Let’s take a look back on my thoughts on that movie, specifically stated in my review titled Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): For Godzilla’s Sake, Please Stop!.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

“Upon watching ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters,’ I wanted to perhaps die. In fact, as I write this, I almost don’t have words that I could possibly put into a sentence to describe this movie.”

“I can imagine myself finding this movie on TV one day, perhaps on HBO or something, maybe watching it if I want to destroy my brain cells, clicking the info button and the description would be ‘Time to die.'”

“Somehow, these characters are more forgettable than most of Apple’s terms & services agreement!”

“Surprisingly, there’s not a moment where I can remember conceptualizing a personal need for Anger Management classes. But based on this movie’s script and my memory of said script, I almost can’t remember feeling any emotion whatsoever, which may almost be worse than getting angry about a movie or its characters.”

“Yes, there are positives, but again, they are heavily outweighed by tons of crap, and the fact that my brain literally could not function upon leaving the theater.”

That film, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” ended up as my #2 worst film of 2019, my #12 worst film of the 2010s, and my #1 most disappointing film of the 2010s. Safe to say, I’d rather watch my future children, should I ever have them, play with knives. I ended my review saying that when it comes to the MonsterVerse, I practically lost any and all hope I could have had for “Godzilla vs. Kong” because I felt like they were going into a direction that I would not find pleasing. Three of the big problems I had with “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” was putting too much attention on human characters, the clashing tones between seriousness and silliness, and not putting enough attention on the script. I know some people will come out and say that these monster movies don’t NEED good scripts, because big action and fight sequences matter more. I would go back and watch the 2014 “Godzilla” again. I would go back and watch “Kong: Skull Island” again. If I were in a situation where I had to watch “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” again, chances are I’d bang my head into whatever device is playing the movie.

Let’s mention those problems I had with “King of the Monsters” once again. Bad human characters who overstay their welcome, clashing tones, and a lazy script. Two of those three critiques have returned to “Godzilla vs. Kong.” The film, despite being a massively entertaining titan on titan showdown, is not too too much more than that. I will say one thing though, WITHOUT SPOILERS OR MUCH DETAIL, this script *is* an improvement over what “King of the Monsters” provided.

There are plenty of human characters in this movie, and there are a majority that you could perhaps take out and have the results of the film be no different, and there are some who sort of do matter that are barely interesting. Some of them feel like they were processed in a factory and just say words every now and then to have the movie trail along as smooth as it can. The film not only has Godzilla and King Kong fighting each other, but it has two different sides of human characters. You have the ones who observe Godzilla, and you have the ones who observe King Kong. And there are quite a few of the Godzilla-centric characters who make an appearance in this movie who also showed up earlier in the franchise. Millie Bobby Brown is back, her dad played by Kyle Chandler also makes a return, but that side for the most part had a script that would probably work more for a theme park ride as opposed to a movie. Again, you could remove a ton of the characters on that side and have the film feel like it has not changed much. Also, I feel like the Godzilla side also has more questionable absurdities in the movie compared to the Kong side.

For me, the difference between effort of putting together characters on one side as opposed to the other is night and day. I mean, look at the characters on Kong’s side! Some have distinct characteristics that individualize them, I think they did a better job at moving the plot and story along, and this is especially noticeable when you bring the young girl, Jia (Kaylee Hottle) into the equation. For the record, she is deaf, which is kind of refreshing for a film like this because throughout the three MonsterVerse films, the big expectation is loud, obnoxious noise, and you do get that here as well, but we get to occasionally see things from this character’s perspective and it makes the world feel quieter, smaller, more intimate despite having giant monsters in it. Her relationship with Kong and Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) were some personal highlights of the film for me. Another thing about this side, when it comes to Kong himself, seeing the humans journey with him to explore his world occasionally had me escaping from my chair into the screen. It felt like a pure fantasy at times, and I give the film props for that.

So far, the script is a mixed bag. It improves characterization, but it also stays pretty on laziness. The film is not going to win any screenplay awards. But the film did win me over on one thing. MONSTERS.

I said in my review for “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” that the monsters look cool and there are some halfway decent fights, but there is too much going on in the movie that I could not fully appreciate them. I almost ended up with a headache leaving the theater. In “Godzilla vs. Kong,” some of the compliments I gave for the previous MonsterVerse entry stand once more. The monsters look visually appealing. They look polished and wonderfully textured. But also, having watched this film, I think the lighting is also significantly better. I did not think about this, but “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” almost felt like the MonsterVerse version of “Batman v. Superman” because almost every other fight that I could think of took place either in the dark or with at the very least, a semi-depressing color palette. One of the better things I can say about “Godzilla vs. Kong” compared to “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is that my eyes can do a better job at interpreting what is going on. Maybe it is partially because Hong Kong in this movie is lit so brightly with neon at night, but nevertheless. This is not a diss on the Detective Comics Extended Universe, because there are movies in that universe that I genuinely enjoy, but the fights in “Godzilla vs. Kong” felt more like a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie because it is brighter and easier to see what is going on. Looking back at the fight in Boston at the end of “King of the Monsters,” it felt like there was an endless parade of blue, and maybe some orange. “Godzilla vs. Kong,” even in its darker scenes such as the first appearance from Godzilla, felt ten times as vibrant.

As I said, the film won me over on monsters, so let me just say, THE MONSTER FIGHTS IN THIS MOVIE ARE EVERYTHING I WANTED TO SEE! They were gigantic! Epic! They felt like something mattered at every twist and turn! There was a fine mix of brains and brawn! The trailer for this film, when I first saw it, surprisingly sold me for the action that would be in this film, and it did not disappoint! If you want to watch any of these MonsterVerse films for action, this is the one! Yes, there are a ton of human characters as well that could bog your experience, but when the film is available for home viewing, this is where fast forward and rewind come into play. When it comes to monsters fighting in this film, I do not think I could name a single problem. And you know what? Let’s talk about tone. But before we do that, just remember, when discussing my problems for the previous MonsterVerse film, remember that one of them is the lack of a consistent tone. “King of the Monsters” went in two directions, serious and silly, without being able to decide on one that defines the movie. While there are moments of slight seriousness in “Godzilla vs. Kong,” it almost had the tone of a “Fast & Furious” movie if the whole time it were a WrestleMania event. The opening titles for this movie delivered the most excitement I have gotten out of an opening title sequence I can think of in years. It is up there with the Sam Raimi “Spider-Man” movies, Tim Burton’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and “Blade Runner 2049” as one of my all time favorite film opening credits sequences.

Why do I love the opening credits in this film so much? Because in addition to the other ones I mentioned, “Godzilla vs. Kong” teased something cool or epic and kept its promise. It promised a big blockbuster adventure from the very beginning and that is exactly what it delivered. The music, which was marvelously done by Tom Holkenborg, also known as Junkie XL, was booming and dominant of my attention. The film is also, from what I gathered, not afraid to dive into shark-jumping. There are a lot of fantastical elements in this movie, which should not be a surprise as there happens to be a universe with giant titans that could appear at any moment. Some of the fantasy elements worked, most notably on the Kong side. We got to see Kong’s origins and history regarding his species in battle. Seeing that was not only an effective breather as an audience member, but it was also somewhat effective world-building. There are some fun fantasy elements in “Godzilla vs. Kong,” but not every impractical situation stuck the landing. Without spoilers, Millie Bobby Brown’s character spends the climax of the film talking on the phone and there is something that she says that does not really have the impact to one character that I would have probably anticipated them to have. Again, no spoilers, the film is not out on DVD yet.

At the end of “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” I lost much of my hope for this universe, I thought it would be short-lived. As of now, I do hope this universe continues. I would not mind seeing Kong and Godzilla do a round 2 or we see more of these monsters individually. Although I am hearing reports that Adam Wingard may return to direct another MonsterVerse movie, which does excite me. I am also hearing it may be a “Son of Kong” story, but no matter what it is, I will remain curious and excited. Bring on the titans!

In the end, I went from having little interest in “Godzilla vs. Kong” for two years leading up to it, seeing the trailer and watching it a bunch of times, to flat out recommending that you go watch it on the biggest screen you can. I saw the film twice in the theater, and aside from the obvious notions, specifically that there are not too many other big movies out and the giant monster situation, I went a second time because it is honestly a significant dose of pure entertainment. If the film is still playing near you and you have not watched it, give a chance, you may have fun. I sure did! Is it stupid entertainment? You could make that argument, but it simultaneously builds a fascinating history and I feel like there is a promise of an intriguing future. I want to see more of this world, and while the Marvel Cinematic Universe is great for how well it intertwines a bunch of different characters together at once, I think it would be refreshing to see a universe like this one take it self perhaps a little less seriously. With that being said, “Godzilla vs. Kong” is a killer time at the movies and most certainly, big screen material. I am going to give “Godzilla vs. Kong” a 7/10.

“Godzilla vs. Kong” is now playing in theaters, get your tickets today. The film is no longer on HBO Max as of writing this, considering how it has finished its 31 day run on the service.

Mortal Kombat (2021) - Photo Gallery - IMDb

Thanks for reading this review! Apologies for yet another late review, I have been preoccupied with other things. But I want to let everyone know that I will soon have a review for the 2021 “Mortal Kombat” remake. That will be released by sometime next week. Also, I want to remind everyone that this week is the week of Star Wars Day. This is the week that I originally intended to release my reviews for the first seven “Star Wars” episodes. I wanted to do a “7 Days of Star Wars” series, where I review a different “Star Wars” movie every day for an entire week, but I had so many other things going on that I pushed it back to the week of May 23rd to May 29th. No guarantees, but DO NOT BE SURPRISED if it gets pushed back another time. However, if you want to be prepared for the epic run of reviews, I should note that I plan to release another trailer advertising what will HOPEFULLY be a finalized release date. I do want to get these done before my “Pirates of the Caribbean” reviews which will be finished in July. So many things to do, but not much time to do them all. We shall see how things shape up in the future. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account and check out the Facebook page so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Godzilla vs. Kong?” What did you think about it? Or, who do you prefer? Godzilla or King Kong? Let the fight begin in the comments section! Civilly, of course. We don’t want anyone losing an eye. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Nobody (2021): Bob Odenkirk Seeks Revenge Over a Kitty Cat Bracelet, and It’s Worth the Watch

“Nobody” is directed by Ilya Naishuller, who also directed one of the first films I reviewed on Scene Before, “Hardcore Henry,” and stars Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad, Nebraska), Connie Nielsen (Wonder Woman, The Following), Aleksei Serebryakov (Leviathan, McMafia), RZA (The Dead Don’t Die, Mr. Right), Michael Ironside (Superman: The Animated Series, Turbo Kid), Colin Salmon (Tomorrow Never Dies, Krypton), and Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future, Clue). This is a revenge flick centered around a guy named Hutch Mansell, who seemingly lives a normal life. He has his job that he goes to every day, he has his routine, he his wife and kids at home. He’s in some ways, a typical suburban dad. Note: I said some ways, because hidden behind this persona is a past where he was an auditor, or an assassin who kills people that are impossible to arrest. But he left his action-packed past so he can have the family he has now. But just because he has a family, does not mean life is completely quiet, as the house suffers through an overnight break-in. Hutch lets the invading party go off with select items, to where he’s questioned by his son and others in his life. However, not long after, Hutch goes on a revenge quest, where he somewhat harkens back to his days as an assassin.

There is something about revenge movies that are pleasing. Minus a couple things that are intertwined here and there, these movies are mostly simple, action-filled experiences that bring on the fun. One of my favorite movies of the past year is a revenge film, albeit much different regarding plot and story, specifically “Promising Young Woman.” But I saw the trailer, both green band and red band, for “Nobody” a number of times, and all I wanted out of this film was some cool fights, funny one-liners, and fast-paced scenes. And that is exactly what I got, and maybe a little more.

– New York, NY – 10/8/16 – Derek Kolstad (Screenwriter) at John Wick: Chapter 2 Lionsgate’s New York Comic Con Panel -Pictured: Derek Kolstad (Screenwriter) -Photo by: Marion Curtis/StarPix

This film comes from writer and producer Derek Kolstad, who also wrote one of the most iconic action movies of the 2010s, “John Wick.” Now I like “John Wick,” I’ll even admit that the sequels honestly are an improvement over the original to an extent, they know how to have more fun and just go nuts. “Nobody” perhaps to a lack of surprise, takes some of the beats that “John Wick” manages to have in its movie. But “Nobody” gets away with it for some new things it introduces and the fact that it puts the idea of making an entertaining action thriller first. Despite the similarities, “Nobody” never feels like it is trying too hard to pay homage to or copy and paste from something else, it is its own thing. But it does not mean there are not clichés. Some include having the main character have something be taken away, the main character going back to their roots to move the plot along, and occasional quips from one character to another. These are not disses on the movie, after all, these clichés were done well! It made for an entertaining product.

To say this is a “John Wick”-like movie would be an understatement. In fact, like glimmers of “John Wick,” which mostly stands out to me for being fun, it also aces in regard to its serious moments as well. One of the more iconic moments of “John Wick” is that moment when the title character’s dog gets killed, which is a catalyst for him seeking revenge. This movie has an animal-related revenge story as well. Although it has nothing to do with a dog, or a living creature.

It has to do with a kitty-cat bracelet.

The reveal for this is almost the best part of the movie and one of the reasons why “Nobody” aces its goal of not always having to take itself seriously. Now, I already knew that from the trailer that this would be in the film, but I did not expect it to be as paramount as it is. I do not want to go into complete spoiler territory, but the reveal for this in the film plays out like a scene from a Fox primetime cartoon like “The Simpsons” or “Family Guy.” The moment that Hutch’s young daughter, Abby (Paisley Cadorath), starts complaining that her precious item is gone and specifies exactly what that item is, is almost flat out hysterical. Because of ALL THINGS, this… Kitty cat bracelet, is the one thing that we see pushes Hutch over the edge and gets him to go out and bust some heads. Not having a watch stolen, not having money stolen, not having the house simply broken into at night.

A kitty cat bracelet.

I mean, seriously! Hutch’s reaction kind of reminded me of “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” because I can totally see a scene in either one of those two shows where Homer Simpson or Peter Griffin respectively hear something as simple as a show being cancelled or the McRib being off the menu at McDonald’s again and that causes them to go on a rampage. If there is a film that I think could work well as inspiration for an animated spinoff, “Nobody” is an arguable contender.

But at the same time, this is a film that does the best it can to deliver a gritty, well-shot, and violent thriller every step of the way. The action in this film is well-choreographed, I can mostly tell who is fighting who, and it occasionally gets a laugh out of me. There is a scene on a city bus that nails this description.

One of the best parts of Bob Odenkirk’s character of Hutch is his relatability. Again, kind of like “John Wick” if you ask me. I got to stop saying that. He’s a 9 to 5 guy and a family man at the same time, so I would say that he is just a simple guy with extraordinary qualities, he’s a well thought out protagonist. I could buy into all of his motives at the beginning despite what others say about him. Think about it, when someone breaks into your house, what matters to you? Yes, your possessions are important, but living to fight another day is a priority as well, perhaps one that is even greater. Not to mention, he had a family to protect too. Sometimes you are in a situation where you have to pick your poison. I really like Hutch and I would not mind seeing him in a sequel.

Actor Christopher Lloyd arrives at Smiles from the Stars: A Tribute to the Life and Work of Roy Scheider at The Beverly Hills Hotel on April 4, 2009 in Beverly Hills, California. A Tribute To The Life And Work Of Roy Scheider – Red Carpet The Beverly Hills Hotel Beverly Hills, California United States April 4, 2009 Photo by John Shearer/WireImage.com To license this image (57129316), contact WireImage.com

Now Bob Odenkirk is great in this movie. So is Connie Nielsen, so is just about everyone else, but I also want to point out the comedic genius of Christopher Lloyd. To me, he will forever be known as Emmett Brown, that is inevitable, but Lloyd slaps in this film, mainly due to how his character is written. I will not say much, but we see him as this elderly man who just happens to be Hutch’s father, but without going into detail, he has some other qualities to him that almost come out of nowhere. Just watch the movie, but there is a moment that will likely have many of you grinning like an idiot around the halfway point or so. You’ll see what I mean.

Although I do want to talk about one thing. Per usual, I saw this movie a month ago. I hope I get to a point where I can review stuff I have recently seen, but this is just the way it is. But even though this is a fun action movie that is incredibly balls to the wall, it’s rated R, it goes for the edge, there is one presence that is lacking in this film, and that is a threat. Yes, there is one in the film, but the antagonistic side of things is honestly somewhat forgettable. At the same time though, the protagonistic presence is hypnotizing, which sort of makes up for the flaw. And, this once again, harkens back to “John Wick.” It has great buildup, and even though the climax is entertaining, the antagonistic side is not that memorable. I don’t know, maybe it is just me.

In the end, “Nobody” is a movie that everybody should see. That is if you really like action and violence that is taken up a notch. I keep making comparisons to “John Wick,” but this does not mean that “Nobody” is a bad movie, it just means that a lot of the great things that appear in “John Wick” make an appearance in here as well and it ends up being beneficial. Great action, likable characters, fast-paced editing, and stellar cinematography. What more could you ask for? I would definitely watch “Nobody” a second time, maybe on a Friday night when I am at home or something and I am going to give it a 7/10.

“Nobody” is now playing in select theaters and is also available through VOD services such as Xfinity On Demand, VUDU, and Prime Video to rent or buy.

Thanks for reading this review. My next review is for the battle of the year. Not humans vs. coronavirus, not Pepsi vs. Coke, and DEFINITELY not “Tom & Jerry,” it is “Godzilla vs. Kong.” I saw the movie in March, once more in April, and I cannot wait to finally give you my thoughts on it! Everybody’s seeing it, so I might as well pitch in and do my part to be in the conversation! That review should be up by next week, but we shall see. Tonight I watched “Mortal Kombat,” which is in theaters and on HBO Max. The film is based on the popular video game franchise, and I will have my thoughts on that soon. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account, and check out the Facebook page so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Nobody?” What did you think about it? Or, what is an item that means very little to other people, but you would freak out if you discovered it was lost? For me, it would have to be a particular external hard drive. Data is very important to me. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Boogie (2021): Keeps on Dribbling, But Misses Some Shots

“Boogie” is written and directed by Eddie Huang (Huang’s World, Fresh Off the Boat) and stars Taylor Takahashi, Taylour Paige (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, White Boy Rick), Bashar “Pop Smoke” Jackson, and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Bumblebee). This film centers around an aspiring basketball player named Albert Chin, also known as “Boogie.” He lives in Queens, New York with his family who are of East Asian descent. In this movie, Chin must balance the pressure from his parents to get into a good college with a decent scholarship, his love life with his new girlfriend Eleanor, and his dreams of making it to the NBA.

When I review a movie, you may notice that I often point out some of the other projects that the crew behind the film has done. For example when I reviewed “News of the World,” I would point out the director, in this case it would be Paul Greengrass, and I would highlight his previous work, which included, as marked in the following parenthesis, (The Bourne Supremacy, United 93). Then I would go on to talk about the actors. For example, you have the star, Tom Hanks, then I followed his name with parenthesis as well, for him it was presented as (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Toy Story), given how those are two of his projects. For this film, “Boogie,” you may notice I included parenthesis for director Eddie Huang, who has produced one of the more talked about network comedies in recent years, “Fresh Off the Boat.” Although for Taylor Takahashi, who plays the film’s lead, he has no parenthesis. That is because, and part of me is somewhat surprised, that this is Takahashi’s acting debut. Not just for features, but for anything. Now to be clear, I got this information from IMDb. For all I know, before this movie Takahashi did something on the side that maybe was either less professional, not as well known, or maybe done in his years of being educated. I do not know the full story.

I should also point out that he is not the only actor with barely any documented experience here, because Pop Smoke is in this movie, and this is likely his first rodeo in feature filmmaking. He’s more known for music, not film.

Also, going back to the director, Eddie Huang, this is, also, his feature-length debut from the director’s chair and in terms of penning the script. Huang also wrote and directed a short titled “Bitch, Please!” alongside two other people, but “Boogie” is a whole different animal for him. He wrote the script himself and he directed the movie himself.

With all that being said, the good news is for the people who will look back at this movie as a debut, chances are they could potentially go up from here.

This is not to say that “Boogie” is a disaster. I will say right off the bat, I would much rather watch “Boogie” than the live-action “Tom & Jerry” movie. But there are other movies from this year I would go back to first including “The Marksman,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” and “Raya and the Last Dragon.” Those all happened to be fun or attention-grabbing experiences that may be harder to forget than others. As for “Boogie,” even though there are elements I like, piggybacking off my previous statement, this film belongs with the “others.”

I want to talk about Taylor Takahashi (left) in this film. Now I will start off by once again confirming that this is Taylor Takahashi’s first acting role, or least the first he is credited for. Maybe he has a bright future ahead, but unfortunately he got his career started in a forgettable movie. I think as far as a first performance goes, I was quite impressed. I would not mind seeing more of Takahashi in the future whether that means they make a sequel to this movie, which I doubt would happen, or if he ends up in some other movie or television show. However, his character kind of had this asshole personality at times. I am not saying Boogie was a complete moron, if I were in this movie’s universe and had the opportunity to grab a couple slices of pizza with him, I would not back myself out of the opportunity instantaneously. After all, who can deny pizza? But I felt like he came off as slightly less relatable than he could have from his personality. There are ways that I did relate to his character from having parents pressuring me to stay in school and having aspirations that go beyond Mars, but for some reason, I did not always click with his character. My impressions of him throughout the film were not the greatest. I just found him to be a goofball, and almost in a way that would make him look like a jerk. I wish I could be more descriptive, but I think part of why I am occasionally blanking during this review is because as you may have noticed recently, I have been less active on Scene Before because I’ve had priorities, which makes me determine which movies are easier to forget overtime and which ones are easier to remember as well. This is one is, as you may have observed, easier to forget.

Now I talked about the first timers from Taylor Takahashi to Eddie Huang. They put on a good show whenever possible, but I do not want to forget some of the other cast members like Pamelyn Chee and Perry Yung, who admirably play Boogie’s mother and father, but perhaps the most memorable performance of the film for me came from none other than Taylor Paige, who plays Boogie’s love interest, Eleanor. There is something about this casting choice that feels almost incomparable. Paige checks the marks of her character being fun, outgoing, and relatively casual at times. I really liked her in this movie, and some of my favorite parts are between her and Boogie because it is a fascinating look at how people manage love lives in this particular age and demographic. I was intrigued.

I will also say this… Once again, I have not watched this movie since March, so maybe I have this stored in my short term memory or something, even though this movie pretty much revolves around basketball and someone who really enjoys playing basketball, I barely even remember any of the basketball scenes in this movie. I think I might need a rewatch to actually remember any of those scenes. This is not a bad movie, but to call it an instant classic would be a straight up lie. And I don’t think I have any plans to watch it a second time.

In the end, “Boogie” kind of disappointed me. I saw the trailer for this film when I was at the theater getting ready to watch “Minari,” and “Boogie” looked pretty good, so I had some positive expectations. Unfortunately, those were not met. If you want a good recent basketball movie, although in this case, it would be more about the coach as opposed to an individual trying to become a standout player, I highly recommend “The Way Back.” Between Ben Affleck’s insane performance and the outstanding script, I cannot help but beg you all to watch that movie at least once. “Boogie” on the other hand, maybe don’t watch it. Maybe it could be okay background noise, but for me, I wanted more. I wanted something better. If Eddie Huang makes another feature-length movie, I will root for him, and the same goes for Taylor Takahashi in his acting career, but this was not the best start for either of those two. I’m going to give “Boogie” a 5/10.

“Boogie” is now playing in theaters wherever they are open and you can also buy it at home on VOD services such as Apple TV, Prime Video, and VUDU.

Thanks for reading this review! I’m pretty excited for the next couple of reviews I plan to get out to you guys, and those are a couple recent action type of films. I’m talking about “Nobody” starring Bob Odenkirk, and “Godzilla vs. Kong.” I cannot wait to talk about both of those.

Also, I have an announcement to make. For those of you who read this year’s Jackoff Awards, follow Scene Before on Facebook, or subscribe to the Jack Drees YouTube channel know that I announced “7 Days of Star Wars.” That series was scheduled to be released on various days on the week of May 2nd to May 8th, which would coincide with “Star Wars Day.” Unfortunately, due to being busy with school right now, wondering when I’ll get my vaccine, and an internship which is allowing me to do a side project that I will soon present to you all, those dates will not be met.

Here are the new dates for the upcoming “7 Days of Star Wars” reviews.

THE PHANTOM MENACE: May 23rd
ATTACK OF THE CLONES: May 24th
REVENGE OF THE SITH: May 25th
STAR WARS/A NEW HOPE: May 26th
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: May 27th
RETURN OF THE JEDI: May 28th
THE FORCE AWAKENS: May 29th

These dates are subject to change, as last year has proven that even the impossible is possible. May the force be with you, emphasis on the May.

If you to see more cool upcoming content on Scene Before, give the blog a follow either with an email or WordPress account, and check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Boogie?” What did you think about it? Or, did you ever watch “Fresh Off the Boat?” Tell me your thoughts! Leave your comments down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997): Worst Video Game Movie Ever?

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Welcome to the second of two installments of my special review series, “Mortal Kombat: Finish the Reviews!” In this review series we will be discussing the two live-action “Mortal Kombat” films from the 1990s. I also want to apologize for saying in my previous review that Paul W.S. Anderson directed both “Mortal Kombat” AND “Mortal Kombat: Annihilaiton.” Of the two, Anderson only directed the former. With that being said, it is time to go back to 1997 and review “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation!”

Also, HELP me.

“Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” is directed by John R. Leonetti (Wish Upon, Annabelle) and stars Robin Shou, Talisa Soto, Brian Thompson, Sandra Hess, Lynn “Red” Williams, Irina Pantaeva, and James Remar. This film is the sequel to the 1995 film “Mortal Kombat,” inspired by the game of the same name, and this is yet another PG-13 action film that may as well have been created to entertain teenage boys who just want to watch sexy things and explosions on screen.

Wait, this film has a plot?! WHO KNEW?! “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” follows a group of martial arts warriors who have to save the world from Shao Khan’s wrath in a matter of six days.

Last week, I reviewed “Mortal Kombat,” which I ended up giving a 6/10 due to its rather pleasant execution of style over substance. To me, that was a film that could have arguably been directed by Michael Bay if he took a few drugs and changed his behavior. It was fine. It’s a video game movie, those are not usually perfect, but “Mortal Kombat” was not offensive. It is forgettable, it is almost bland at times, but not one portion of it felt offensive.

Just like in my review for the prior “Mortal Kombat” installment, this was my initial foray into “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” from start to finish. I’ve seen stuff online about it, pretty much all of which happened to be negative. So to say that I was looking forward to “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” upon my first viewing would have been generous. Once again, for those who missed the previous review. I have played “Mortal Kombat” only once or twice, but I am somewhat familiar with the franchise, what you do, how graphic it was for its time, and so on. While the first movie had a slight charm that made it feel like the game for a moment or two, “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” on the other hand just strips that charm away and cast out all my organs.

Prior to watching “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation,” my least favorite video game-based film of all time was “Super Mario Bros..” Ladies and gentlemen, that film has some fierce competition.

I want to talk about the video game film genre as a whole. In recent years, it is something that has noticeably been improving in minor trickles. While I will claim we have not seen a perfect video game-based film, we have gotten some recent hits like “Pokemon: Detective Pikachu,” which I thought was okay. But we also got “Sonic the Hedgehog,” which hit theaters in February 2020 and became my favorite entry to the genre. I saw it a couple times from start to finish, and I am quite excited for the sequel. I think that when it comes to the video game movie genre, it is something that either really needs some critical thinking from its crew or needs to take things slow and find its footing. The Marvel Cinematic Universe seems like it is going to last forever, but let’s say it does not. Let’s say comic book movies go the way of the dinosaur, I think video game movies could be the next box office juggernaut. Video games are a much bigger industry than film, which is also pretty enormous itself. And much like comic books, video games have some of the most immersive art that can draw inspiration for theatrical content. Even though I was not a fan of “Warcraft,” I will give the film kudos for its impressive renderings and effects that look incredibly fantastical. Even though time and time again has supported the basis of why video game movies should not be made, I do see potential for improvement in the future, especially in a time where movie theaters are trying to provide “experiences” in order for select people to return after a time ruled by COVID-19. Think about it, with minor exceptions like “Superman: The Movie,” before movies like “X-Men” in 2000, “Spider-Man” in 2002, and “Iron Man” in 2008, comic book movies were usually a joke. Look at films like “Batman & Robin” for example, which coincidentally came out the same year as “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.”

I want to apologize to every bad movie I reviewed. I’m sorry, “Mission: Impossible II.” I’m sorry, “Cats.” I’m sorry, crappy 2016 “Ghostbusters” reboot. You have nothing on this movie because “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” is rife with problems ACROSS THE BOARD! The screenplay comes off like it is written by a backwardly wired 10 year old! The directing is incompetent to a level beyond my imagination! The acting is almost worse!

I want to talk about tone. It is a very important factor that can make or break a movie. I will say, going into the first “Mortal Kombat,” whenever I look at the cover, I expected something bold, action-packed, a little violent. And in that first movie, I got glimmers of that. It was not perfect, but it worked to a degree. This second movie sort of follows the tone of the original, but has sucked out any sort of intelligence that the original movie had, and that is saying something because when I think “intelligent movies,” my mind DOES NOT automatically dart to “Mortal Kombat.” If you want to talk about tone, here is an easy comment I can deliver. Here is one of the first exchanges of dialogue in this movie.

That’s the tone of this movie. Just a bunch of over the top bull that will make you want to die! The line is almost comical, but simultaneously unforgivable. What did we do to deserve this treachery? I can imagine there is a scenario where an exchange like this would work, but it certainly did not work in this one. I do not just blame the actors for this outlandish, off-putting execution of these two lines. I also blame director John R. Leonetti, who I will do my absolute best to be fair to in this case, because the film is his directorial debut, but this does not feel like a good film to put on one’s resume as their first feature. Then again, look at Tim Miller! “Deadpool” was his directorial debut and that was near perfect! But at the same time, they had terrific writing, exciting fight sequences, and Ryan Reynolds’s brilliant and I’ll add, Golden Globe-nominated, performance to back it up! “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” not only feels like it drifts far away from its video game counterpart, but unashamedly shows off a plethora of some of the most abysmal visual effects I’ve ever seen. There are creatures in this movie that make the monsters in the holographic Millennium Falcon game from “Star Wars” look like they are eye-popping and realistic!

I described this movie to a friend recently. For the record, this friend has not seen the movie. And I stand by this description. Here’s what I said over text…

“It basically feels like if Power Rangers went on an acid trip and somehow became horny. I can’t even describe how bad this is.”

I mean this to the tenth degree! This movie looks sexy, it’s got attractive people in it, there’s a selection of good-looking costumes. But it is overacted, overstylized, and at it certain points, it treated me like I was five years old! The dialogue is an enormous annoyance. The slo-mo in this film is not a saving grace, if anything, it was horrendous.

Robin Shou, Linden Ashby, Bridgette Wilson, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Christopher Lambert

I watched “Power Rangers” as a kid, and while I watched it, I was wildly entertained. Because the show, even though it was stupid and insulting, knew exactly who it was made for. Young boys. For the record, the “Power Rangers” franchise, which from generation to generation, has had numerous consistencies, was first introduced in the early 1990s. I feel like somebody either on the writing team, director John R. Leonetti, or some s*itty studio executive who just got into crack started watching a ton of “Power Rangers,” eternally left it on in the background, and its overexposure led to one of the most unwatchable pieces of crap on the face of the earth! This film is so bad that I am not even going to get into the characters! Yes, this film has characters, but they’re not really characters, they’re just potential faces and bodies that may as well have been created to be action figures.

The special effects in “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation…” Oh my f*cking god. Well, they exist. They’re special alright. A special kind of special if you ask me. Maybe “The Star Wars Holiday Special” kind of special! They look like they skip frames, they are barely textured, and are a true resemblance of how far we as a society have advanced since the terror of the 1990s and the corny visuals that were offered to viewers then. I sometimes joke about some modern visual effects looking like a Nintendo game or something on the PlayStation, this movie made any pixelated image in an early “Mortal Kombat” arcade cabinet look more lifelike and attractive!

LOOK AT IT!

Given what I recently said about this film’s characters and them existing seemingly almost as if they were to become action figures, you might as well argue that the special effects in this film come off as large scale action figures.

I MEAN, LOOK AT THIS S*IT!

I cannot name one single freaking positive in this entire movie. The only positive I can come up with is that it ends, because it means I can get some s*it done. Some much more important s*it, that’s what I say. I think the only positive, if this even counts, is that it ended the series. I mean, there’s probably other places to go from “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation,” but no third movie was greenlit. For all I know, there could have been a third one and it may have ended up being the worst one in the franchise. This once again makes me excited for the 2021 “Mortal Kombat” movie that looks ten times better than what New Line pooped out in 1997.

Robin Shou, Linden Ashby, Bridgette Wilson, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Christopher Lambert

I think the only way that this film can possibly get any worse is if it were longer. The runtime is 95 minutes, and I assure you when the film hit minute 95, I was in utter relief. Ending this film felt like a divorce. I just wanted to get out, go away, and f*ckin’ celebrate. I’m surprised I did not end up popping a few bottles to mark the occasion. I survived “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.” I’ve heard the horror stories, it sounded like a movie where I would laugh, but little did I realize how much I would want to vent, because this movie grabbed me, dragged me across the floor, and finished me with its mightiest fatality. But like in many video games, it pays to have an extra life, and I used my extra life to conquer this bloody nightmare.

In the end, “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” killed me. It finished me. I’ve seen a lot of bad films. “The Emoji Movie,” “Battlefield Earth,” “Samurai Cop,” “Sharknado.” This might actually be worse than all of them! Of all the movies I have watched and talked about in the history of doing Scene Before, “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” may just be the worst one I’ve ever watched. It’s barely like the video games, and at times, it makes the older video games look real! I almost see no scenario where I watch this movie ever again, unless I was bats*it drunk with a group of friends, we’re all at my place, I grab the Blu-ray, and we prepare to laugh our asses off. And then maybe I cry myself to sleep. I can imagine having nightmares about this movie. I can only imagine what they’d look like.

AH! TERRIBLE-LOOKING EXPLOSION! GO AWAY! SCRAM! YOU FREAKING ASS!

I cannot even believe I survived whatever the hell this movie actually is. Because it is not a movie, it is a pathetic excuse of a compilation of visual images that technically qualify as a 95 minute story.

To those who want to watch “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation,” “Too bad your brain… WILL DIE!”

I’m just done, this movie broke me. I’m going to give “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” a 1/10.

Worst screenplay ever.
Worst direction ever.
Worst effects ever.

Almost the worst movie ever if you ask me.

I will also add that on the poster for this atrocity, the slogan is “Destroy all expectations.” That would be true, if I even had them to begin with!

Movies like this make me glad that movies like “Sonic the Hedgehog” have followed. Maybe the video game movie realm will end up getting a lot better with time, but films like this one most certainly reveal some of the worst this subgroup has to offer. Avoid “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” at all costs, unless you like torture or bringing pain to your enemies, in which case, those are your exceptions. But DO NOT watch this movie. You’ll thank me later.

Thanks for reading this review! Thanks for reading part 2 of 2 of the “Mortal Kombat: Finish the Reviews” review series! I just want to remind everyone that I have upcoming reviews for “Boogie,” “Nobody,” and “Godzilla vs. Kong.” I will admit, it may take me some time to get out each one of these reviews because I am in the middle of my busiest college semester yet and I am currently working on a side project that I may end up sharing with you guys. More details may arrive soon.

Also, I want to address my next upcoming series, “7 Days of Star Wars,” where I will review the first seven main saga episodes in the “Star Wars” franchise. When planning this series, I hoped to release it from Sunday May 2nd to Saturday May 8th, which would coincide with Star Wars Day, May the 4th. Do not take this as an official confirmation, but I have considered postponing the dates for the upcoming review series. It’s not that I do not want to do it, it’s just that I’ve been incredibly busy and I would rather have a series I am proud of instead of a series that is rushed. I currently have no review series planned for June, so maybe I’ll push it back then at the latest. If you want to know about upcoming content on Scene Before and more shenanigans, be sure to follow the blog either with an email or a WordPress account. Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation?” What did you think about it? Or, and this is good time to ask this, what is the worst movie you have ever seen? “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” may arguably be mine, there are like one or two that may be worse. I would have to rewatch the other two if I even dare. Either way, let me know about your horror stories down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Mortal Kombat (1995): Sadly, One of the Better Video Game Movies To This Day

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Welcome to the first of two installments of my special review series, “Mortal Kombat: Finish the Reviews!” In this review series we will be discussing the two live-action “Mortal Kombat” films directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, a major player in adapting video games into film. With that being said, it is time to go back to 1995 and review “Mortal Kombat!”

“Mortal Kombat” is directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, or Paul Anderson as he was credited back in the day. The film stars Linden Ashby, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Robin Shou, Bridgette Wilson, Talisa Soto, and Christopher Lambert. This film is based on the video game franchise of the same name. It has been well-known as one of the more popular fighting games in the arcade and even today at home. The film centers around three people who are summoned to an island to participate in a fighting tournament where the outcome will decide the fate of the world.

If you know me personally, you’d be aware that I passionately collect Blu-rays. “Mortal Kombat,” and “Mortal Kombat: Annhilation” for that matter, just so happen to be two that I own. I bought the Blu-ray for “Mortal Kombat” back in 2015 after finding a used copy at Newbury Comics, a staple for pop culture items in New England. One of the habits I have developed over the years is waiting forever to watch certain movies after buying them. I bought “Spy” back during the 2016 holiday season and I have still yet to put it into the player. Not long after that period ended, I bought a copy of “Napoleon Dynamite,” and to this day I have not watched the movie. Then after that, I bought my first 4K Blu-ray ever, “The Lone Survivor.” Originally I wanted to wait out on watching it until I had a proper 4K Blu-ray player and not just one that upscales 1080p footage to look like it is in 4K. Despite owning a 4K Blu-ray player for a few years, I still have not watched the movie. But for “Mortal Kombat,” I waited over six years to finally watch this film. I bought this film prior to starting Scene Before! Although with the new movie coming out, the timing to not only watch, but talk about it, could not be better.

Now, let’s talk about video game movies in general. If you are versed in certain areas of film, you’d know that movies and video games typically do not mix. My least favorite film of all time is based on a video game, “Super Mario Bros.” from 1993. I love the “Super Mario” franchise as a gamer, but the magic of those games disappeared when translated to the big screen. There’s a scene where Mario refuses to jump! That’s literally his only purpose! Other than eating mushrooms, stomping on Goombas, and overshadowing his brother. Paul W.S. Anderson is one of the more famous directors when it comes to movies that are inspired by games, but that fame does not automatically equate to quality. While I have not seen the “Resident Evil” movies, those films have usually not been well received. “Monster Hunter” was… Alright. Visually it is not bad. But it does not feel like a movie that belongs in 2020. The music feels like it is from a 90s movie that is trying really hard to be an 80s movie. In some ways, “Mortal Kombat” and “Monster Hunter” come close in style, but unlike “Monster Hunter,” it feels advantageous for “Mortal Kombat” as it is a product of the 1990s.

Once again, keep in mind that I have not seen “Resident Evil,” but for all I know, Paul W.S. Anderson makes each of his movies in the same way as he has done since making “Mortal Kombat,” which I will say, was rather enjoyable to watch. There’s all this epic music that shimmies around a border to where I can AND cannot take it seriously. In fact, I do not work out much, I do not take much time to go to the gym, but if I were to start working out and take it seriously, the opening song of this movie is one that I would definitely consider adding to my playlist. The set design and effects all have this fantasy feel to it, and the entire time I felt like I was in another world. I will say that this is “Mortal Kombat’s” greatest strength. It does a really good job at transporting me as a viewer from the real world to the film world.

I’m just gonna say this though. If you told me that Michael Bay had a phase where he got totally into practical effects and directed this movie, I would believe you. I say so because this movie is excellent when it comes to style. As for substance, eh, not really. It has been a few weeks since I have seen this film, and I have only played traces of the games, although what I have played has been fun. I barely remember the characters. Yes, I know their names: Johnny Cage, Raiden, Sub-Zero, Scorpion just to list some. But I should know more than just their names. I will say that the best thing about a good number of these characters is the fights they were in, but that appreciation once again goes to show that “Mortal Kombat” is a film with mostly style but not as much substance.

But having said that, I often call myself a ten year old kid in an adult’s body. If I were watching this film at the age of ten, there is a good chance that I would have been wowed and considering it perfect because it checked various marks that a younger me would want to see. Grand action, extravagant environments, and some cool music. This film, even though it really leaves much to be desired as a story, would make for an excellent tech demo. I would not be surprised if they come out with a 4K Blu-ray for it in the near future because there is an argument to make that this would look rather polished if enough effort is put into it.

One of the minor disappointments about this “Mortal Kombat” film is that even though there are some ties to the video games that fit right in, there is a big one that is missing. For the record, “Mortal Kombat” is one of the earlier games that embraces graphic violence, much of which was done through “fatalities.” And yes, there are finishers in this movie to a degree, but this film is PG-13 and I feel like it would have been fun to see the crew take this movie in a more R-rated direction if possible. Although I must say I am glad we are getting the new “Mortal Kombat” film coming out this month because that is R-rated and it may right what I consider to be the wrongs of this film. It just goes to show, not all remakes are bad ideas. John Carpenter’s “The Thing” was a remake and that film is celebrated today!

In the end, “Mortal Kombat” is one of the better video game movies, but then again, that does not say much given how there really are not too many great ones. I found this film delightfully entertaining but mainly as something to glance upon. Maybe it would be cool to watch in the theater one time, but I do not have all the time in the world so I may end up not doing that. If anything, it is a good effort, and surprisingly works despite having a few characters who do not necessarily belong in the world this movie represents, but it is not something I’d watch five to ten times in a matter of months. I would watch it on a Friday night, but only as a feast for the eyes and ears. I’m going to give “Mortal Kombat” a 6/10.

Thanks for reading the first of two reviews in this “Mortal Kombat: Finish the Reviews” review series! I will have my review up for “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” on April 12th! Stay tuned and follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account and check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Mortal Kombat?” What did you think about it? Or, have you played the “Mortal Kombat” games? Tell me about your experiences! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Chaos Walking (2021): The Noise Awakens

“Chaos Walking” is directed by Doug Liman and stars Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Onward), Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Peter Rabbit), Mads Mikkelsen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Hannibal), Demián Bichir (The Hateful Eight, A Better Life), Cynthia Erivo (Bad Times at the El Royale, Harriet), Nick Jonas (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Midway), and David Oyelowo (Gringo, Selma). This film follows a guy named Todd who lives in a dystopian future. In 2257 A.D., the men of New World go about their daily lives after an unfortunate war. One thing our protagonist, Todd, has in common with everyone else is that he has this thing called “noise,” where his thoughts are outspoken despite not opening his mouth. However, one day, a ship crashes on the planet and it peaks Todd’s curiosity. Turns out, the rider inside the ship is a girl, which Todd has never seen before, given how all of them died in the recently mentioned war.

I saw this film on the second weekend of March. Therefore, per usual, I am getting this review out late. That’s the bad news. The good news however that comes with it is that I likely have more time to process and think about what I saw, which I have done when it comes to this movie. With my previous review, “Raya and the Last Dragon” to be specific, I did not flip back and forth between much. The only thing I flipped around with was the score, which I was wondering whether I’d give it either a 8/10 or 9/10. I settled for the latter. I thought a little more about “Chaos Walking,” but not much more. Sure, I kind of flipped around on the score here as well, but that is not the only slice of this pie we have here. The big question I thought about was if I was actually going to see myself watching this movie again. The short answer would be… Maybe? But not now? I dunno… The thing is, when it comes to the young adult novel adaptation realm of filmmaking, I usually watch those movies once and I normally don’t have an urge to go back to them. Yes, I’ll buy the Blu-ray, but it ultimately may just end up sitting on my shelf. I like the “Divergent” movies, in fact I personally think it is better than “The Hunger Games” as a franchise, but I don’t usually watch those movies while sitting at home on a Friday night. I am somewhat mixed on “Chaos Walking” as a movie, because using the recent example, “Divergent,” I find “Chaos Walking” to be more entertaining at times than “Divergent,” specifically the first installment. I interestingly enough find “Insurgent” to be a better movie. If anything, I find “Chaos Walking” to be more entertaining than “Divergent” because “Chaos Walking,” whether it is intentional or not, comes off as somewhat funnier and maybe has a little more fun with its concept. In fact, I think the concept is slightly better, because I think it is a little more cliche to do the whole “divide people into groups” and boom, we have our movie idea. This movie eliminates an entire gender and as a viewer, I am somewhat intrigued to see how the survivors are going about their days.

At the same time though, similar to some other young adult novel adaptations, this film does get borderline cheesy. Sometimes it provides for a fun line, which is cool. But if you are looking for a Shakespearean, timeless flick with some of the best writing and directing imaginable, go elsewhere. Going back to the movie I recently mentioned, “Chaos Walking” came out the same weekend as “Raya and the Last Dragon.” That is a much better film in my opinion, so if I had to pick between two films to watch, the choice would easily be “Raya” by a long shot.

Moving onto characters, I want to talk about the chemistry between Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley. On their own, these two are great actors. I loved Holland as Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I adored Rey in “Star Wars,” so to see these two nerd icons come together in one movie is almost magical. As for their characters I bought into them as a pair as they sometimes found each other odd, sometimes they found each other likable, and so on. Going back to what I said about this movie having fun lines, there are a couple character establishment moments between these two that are personal highlights of the script. One other highlight of the script for me is that like every other young adult novel or every other young adult adaptation, the guy or girl has to crush on the other person or fall in love with them. I will not go into much detail on that, but this film almost felt like it was parodying that cliché at times, and I mean that in a positive way. There are moments where we see Tom Holland’s character specifically either thinking about kissing her, which was hysterical, and maybe there will be another scene in the film where we simply see that he finds her attractive. That may have been the best part of the movie because it takes a cliché, has fun with it, and makes it a kneeslapper.

I also want to talk about the driving gimmick of the film, “the noise.” When I saw the trailer for this film, I thought I was going to hate every single second that this, well, noise, was going to be emitted. It sounded awfully rugged, and it kind of goes against the screenwriting rule where you have to use as little words as possible to get points across because film is a visual medium. Yes, there is writing in it, but ultimately it is a matter of what you see. Seeing someone doing something is usually more entertaining and calming than hearing someone saying they are going to do something. And I will admit, when I heard this early on in the film, I was kind of pissed on how it played out. I figured if they were just going to utilize this thing for a poop joke, which more likely belongs in a disposable Illumination or DreamWorks project if anything, I figured this film was not going to be worth my time. But the gimmick was surprisingly well utilized to a certain degree. It does not change the fact that when it comes to most movies, less is more, but “Chaos Walking” is a weird animal where more is more when it comes to screenwriting.

In the end, “Chaos Walking” is just weird. I like the movie, but I cannot confirm that I’m ever going to watch it again. When comparing it to other young adult genre entries, I’d rather watch the first two “Divergent” films again. “Noise” is a terrible gimmick on paper, but an okay one when ultimately executed on screen. This film is cheesy, but weirdly attractive at the same time. This is a film that took years to make, and it honestly shows. A lot of the lines are borderline wooden and it almost feels like the only reason why this movie exists at this point is for the studio to poop it out in a pandemic where it is almost impossible for some people to go to the movies. “Chaos Walking” is a good movie, but not a great movie, so I’m going to give it a 6/10.

“Chaos Walking” is now available in theaters wherever they are open and the film is also now available to buy on video on demand services such as Fios, Xfinity, Google Play, and VUDU.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for “Mortal Kombat” as part of a review series I am calling “Mortal Kombat: Finish the Reviews,” which I am doing as a lead-in to the all new R-rated “Mortal Kombat” movie which is out in theaters and on HBO Max on April 23rd. I will also have my review up for “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” available starting April 12th. I should also soon have reviews for “Boogie,” “Nobody,” and “Godzilla vs. Kong.” To stay tuned for these reviews, follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account and check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Chaos Walking?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite 2021 film so far? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!