John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023): The Most Action-Packed, Exciting John Wick Yet

“John Wick: Chapter 4” is directed by Chad Stahelski, who has directorial credits on all of the previous installments in the franchise. This film stars Keanu Reeves (The Matrix, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure), Donnie Yen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Ip Man), Bill Skarsgård (It, Barbarian), Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix, Ant-Man and the Wasp), Hiroyuki Sanada (Mortal Kombat, Bullet Train), Shamier Anderson (Goliath, Invasion), Lance Reddick (The Wire, Bosch), Rina Sawayama, Scott Adkins (Criminal, American Assassin), and Ian McShane (Kung Fu Panda, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides). This film centers around John Wick as he tries to get revenge against the High Table and take down anyone who stands in his way.

I love the “John Wick” franchise. One thing that stands out about this franchise that separates itself from several others is that not only is the first movie good, but every sequel that comes out is a step up from its predecessor. I enjoyed “John Wick: Chapter 2” more than the original, and I found “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” more entertaining than “John Wick: Chapter 2.” The objective of a Hollywood sequel is to, perhaps stereotypically, go bigger, but it does not always mean it is better than what came before. “John Wick” has gone bigger in its two sequels to extremely pleasing results. From one film to the next, the action sequences are incredible, the cinematography is amazing, and the lore is fascinating. And it happens to be all the more so with each go. That said, after two successful sequels, I wondered if the franchise ran out of steam. I thought “John Wick: Chapter 4” was just going to be a cash grab that would make most of its money from name recognition. I wondered how they could possibly top the other films.

Now that I saw the film, I can confirm “John Wick: Chapter 4” not only tops its predecessors. It stabs them, shoots them, and sends them tumbling off a cliff. It makes those films inferior and asserts its dominance. “John Wick: Chapter 4” is easily my favorite film in the franchise, and I did not think I would come to that conclusion a year or two ago.

This film is the fourth installment of an ongoing franchise that has made a decent chunk of change. It stars a well-known actor who has continued to maintain his relevancy in an extended career. Some may say that making this film implies Lionsgate would be, understandably, playing things safe. I understand why they made it, but I was not sure if I wanted it, that is until I watched it. I thought when they were making this film, it was a sign that “Hollywood” happened to be running out of ideas. After seeing this masterpiece, and I mean that in every sense of the word, I can confirm that Hollywood is not running out of ideas. Because this movie came up with a buttload of fresh new ways to kill people.

This movie has a great list of characters between all of the returning faces like Keanu Reeves as John Wick, Laurence Fishburne as Bowery King, Ian McShane as Winston, and Lance Reddick as Charon (RIP). But the newcomers manage to steal some of the spotlight for themselves. Donnie Yen, who may be at risk for being typecast as a visually impaired, skilled fighter, is brilliant in this film. I loved every minute he was on screen. Scott Adkins does a great job with his limited screentime as Killa, who is only enhanced by some excellent makeup and costume design. Did I mention assassin dogs?! Bring on the assassin dogs!

Over the past few years, we have practically been in a Keanussance with the previous “John Wick” installments amongst other projects like “Toy Story 4,” “Bill & Ted Face the Music,” “The Matrix Resurrections,” and even the “Cyberpunk 2077” video game. Of all of the projects Keanu Reeves has done in recent years, this is the best one. It is up there with “Point Break” and the original “Matrix” installment as one of the greatest Keanu Reeves projects of all time. But if I have to be real, I should not solely rely on encouraging my readers to take a shot every time I gloriously say the name Keanu Reeves, because the real stars of the show are the people behind the camera. From director Chad Stahelski, who has consistently delivered one good time after the next with this franchise. To writers Shay Hatten and Michael Finch, who have conceived my favorite screenplay in the “John Wick” franchise since the simple but effective original. To cinematographer Dan Laustsen, who has distributed some of the most palatable shots in an action movie to date. To production designer Kevin Kavanaugh, who has built a multitude of sets that do not deserve to look as good as they do in a movie where tons of people get killed by a guy who has successfully utilized a pencil as a weapon.

This is one of the most thrilling action flicks ever put to screen, and it is not only because Keanu Reeves takes names in corners that you did not know existed, but because so much care was put into each frame. If anything, the progression of the “John Wick” movies reminds me of “Mission: Impossible” in recent years. From the third movie and onward, each one felt like a step up from its predecessor. For “John Wick,” each movie feels like a step up from the original, which is already a decent time.

I have said that this is my favorite “John Wick” script since the original. Part of it is because, like all the other installments, it maintains a sense of atmosphere that makes a series like this something of its own. But also because it is the closest the franchise has come to making me relate to or feel strong emotions for the characters. While the first “John Wick” is my least favorite in the franchise, I will not deny what made that first movie work is its ability to make me root for “John Wick” over his loss. It is all the more significant when considering that I am probably the furthest thing from a dog person. The sequels are great, but I remember them more for what the characters did as opposed to why they did it. What makes the fourth movie the best one is that it takes the substance of the first movie and the style that has improved from one installment to the next and showcases what the full potential of what this franchise could be. This is the ultimate “John Wick” experience from scene one to the final frame.

If I had anything else of note to say, I would recommend maybe watching the other movies before this one. For starters, they’re good movies. But I also bring this up because there may be some lore to pick up on before this fourth film. If I had any problems… They are not coming to me. I was worried about the runtime. However, this movie flew by, because I was having fun. That is ultimately what “John Wick” is. And between Keanu Reeves’s trademarks, his dynamite chemistry with Laurence Fishburne, all of the action, this is the epitome of fun. These types of movies are not for everyone. My mom would not like this film. But if you are an action junkie and refuse to watch “John Wick: Chapter 4,” you are missing out on the pinnacle of what this genre is capable of. From a technical perspective, this movie checks every box and receives extra credit. The sound design might end up being the best of the year depending on what comes out after this. Every frame looks like a painting. Some of the music is quite good too. The lighting is balls out and spectacular. At times, the stunts made me wince. I have enjoyed all of the “John Wick” installments, but as far as this movie goes, I am bending over for it like it is my lord and savior.

In the end, “John Wick: Chapter 4” is a thing of beauty, a thing of splendor. It is something I will be thinking about for a long time. The track record for “John Wick” over the years has reminded me of the track record for “Mission: Impossible” over the years. It gets better every time. Keanu Reeves has personally earned a seat at my High Table. When it comes to movies, few things beat a surprise. Few things surpass the time when a movie comes out of nowhere, I am not looking forward to it, but I see it anyway, and it ends up being one of the best things I have watched in recent memory. I was technically looking forward to “John Wick: Chapter 4,” but not on the level that I was going into “Chapter 3.” That said, this is better than chapters 1, 2, 3, all of them. Everything has led to this, the ultimate “John Wick” experience. I do not know if “John Wick: Chapter 4” will be this year’s “Top Gun: Maverick” or “Avatar: The Way of Water” as a select big budget, popular film that shoehorns its way into the Best Picture slate at the Oscars, but we shall see. I am thinking this franchise is not only back, but better than ever! I am going to give “John Wick: Chapter 4” a 10/10!

“John Wick: Chapter 4” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now!

Thanks for reading this review! I have a couple more reviews coming up very soon including one for “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves,” which I plan to see tonight. Also coming soon, I will be sharing my thoughts on “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” which hits theaters next week. Speaking of which, I figured with the brand new “Mario” film coming out, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to go back and review 1993’s “Super Mario Bros.,” which I have to remind myself, unfortunately exists. I just rewatched the film earlier this week and I will be sharing my thoughts on it soon. If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “John Wick: Chapter 4?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite of the “John Wick” movies? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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Shazam!: Fury of the Gods (2023): A Marvelous Spectacle That Goes Bigger Than Its 2019 Predecessor

“Shazam!: Fury of the Gods” is directed by David F. Sandberg, who also directed the previous “Shazam!” movie. This film stars Zachary Levi (Chuck, Tangled), Asher Angel (Jolene, Andi Mack), Jack Dylan Grazer (It, Luca), Rachel Zegler (West Side Story), Adam Brody (Ready or Not, Promising Young Woman), Ross Butler (13 Reasons Why, K.C. Undercover), Meagan Good (Think Like a Man, Brick), Lucy Liu (Charlie’s Angels, Kung Fu Panda), Djimon Hounsou (Furious 7, Guardians of the Galaxy), and Helen Mirren (Gosford Park, F9: The Fast Saga). This sequel is set two years after Thaddeus Sivana, the main antagonist of the last installment, was beaten. This time around, Billy Batson, otherwise known as Shazam, must team up with his “family” to stop the daughters of Atlas from destroying the world.

Before I give my thoughts on “Shazam: Fury of the Gods,” here is a recap on my thoughts on the comic book movie genre in recent months.

I remember a time when comic book movies were not taken as seriously as they are today. Right now we are getting so many of these projects, particularly ones inspired by Marvel and DC properties, at various times of the year. “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods” is just the latest addition to the collection. I have no problem with the excessive amount of comic book movies we are getting as long as the people making them recognize one thing as we move along. Quality. Sadly, in 2022, comic book movies, while still good, have taken a bit of a dip.

When I look at the MCU, I enjoyed every movie they have done that year, but I had notable problems with each one they released. These could range from the visual effects to the humor to the pacing or certain lines that I was not able to believe once they were spoken. Part of the problem, if you ask me, is the MCU going for such an ambitious, perhaps overcrowded route with its Multiverse Saga and also balancing movies with straight to Disney+-content. This has made the MCU lose some of its novelty in addition to its polish.

When it comes to DC, the last couple years has had its hits and misses. “Black Adam,” the last DCEU film before this one is a barely passable time that only delivers as much charm as it does thanks to its stylized action sequences and performances that are perhaps as well delivered as they could have been by the main cast. I liked “The Batman,” but I thought it overstayed its welcome.

2022, again, while still enjoyable, felt like a significant step down from the year before where Marvel delivered a couple of my favorite movies they have done. Specifically, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” I went back for repeat viewings on both of these films. I have seen the latter four times in theaters specifically, including the extended version. On DC’s turf, “The Suicide Squad” ended up not only being my favorite movie of 2021, but also my favorite DC movie I have ever seen. It is such a perfect balance between heart, humor, and action that I cannot stop thinking about it. It also inspired HBO Max’s “Peacemaker,” a brilliant series on its own.

Now we move forward to “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods,” which follows up what I thought to be quite an entertaining film we got four years ago. I was looking forward to this movie, but I thought the marketing was awful. If anything, the first trailer felt too light for a movie about gods trying to destroy earth. Also, I assumed the second trailer basically revealed the whole movie. That said, I was delightfully surprised. I had a good time with this film. There is a lot to like about it. It has a lot of cool fights and visual effects, which are two mainstays in this genre by now, but I also like how they handled the characters. Especially when it comes to a subplot involving Freddy. Rachel Zegler, who is still developing her career, is one of my favorite parts of this film. I loved the way they handled her character, and while her performance is not as awards-worthy as Maria in “West Side Story,” it had my attention from the moment she appears. I was shocked, not to mention full of joy, to find as many positives as I did in this movie.

If I have to note a standout from “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods,” it would be the action sequences. This movie contains some of the more thrilling scenes this genre has provided in recent years. Is it a lot of it big, bloated CGI shenanigans? Sure, but some of the utilizations of the CGI make these scenes worthwhile. They are a ton of fun to watch. There is also a fun scene towards the beginning of the film where the Shazam family tries to save a ton of people from danger on a bridge. There was one song choice that I was a bit iffy on in that scene, specifically Holding Out for a Hero by Bonnie Tyler. Although one of my favorite parts of the movie is when Billy, AKA Shazam, is holding onto a car, hears the song playing, and he asks the driver if he seriously saved them while they were listening to that song. First off, I think a younger superhero would totally say something like that. Second, it kind of goes to show how much that song has become a part of our culture in terms of heroism. Not just because of the name. I mean, look at how it was used in the climax of “Shrek 2!”

Speaking of which, the Shazam family themselves have fantastic chemistry. We got a glimpse of them in the previous film, but this film features them prominently and they are properly utilized from start to finish. Not only do they try to save the world together, but I found it fun to see how they hang out in their off time. And they actually do feel like a “family.” Sure, they stick together, but they are not afraid to occasionally bicker and argue. Yes, they technically are family, they always have been. But they show the positives and negatives to being with a family on a consistent basis. I think this movie shows that perfectly.

Pacing-wise, “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods” could not be better. The film is 130 minutes long, but it honestly feels shorter than it actually is. It is not rushed, it just goes to show how much fun I was having with everything being thrown at me. This movie never has a dull moment in it. Even in lesser moments, I was never uninterested or bored. The third act in “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods” is nowhere near my favorite third act of all the comic book movies that have come out, but it is also one that had my attention more than several others in recent months. In fact, once it starts, it feels like it never wants to stop. I felt an adrenaline rush from the moment it began.

But of course, we must also address the negatives. While this is a fun, entertaining movie, it is also predictable. It occasionally has its own flair but the structure feels like a comic book movie from a decade or two ago. While I love certain comic book movies from a decade or two ago, they have their shortcomings. The villains, while intimidating and threatening, have basic motivations. Destroy the world we have so they can build a new one of their own. Granted the way they go about it works for what this movie delivers, but a cliché is a cliché.

If I have to name a cream of the crop for my negatives, it would involve a personal pet peeve of mine in films. Product placement. As I have said on posts in the past, product placement is an understandable motive. People need to make money, and companies want their products exposed. That said, if you have ever seen a Skittles commercial and thought it should have unicorns, you are in luck. There is something that goes down in the third act involving Skittles, I will not say what, that continues to grind my gears. It is weirdly written, oddly executed, and even stranger wondering how such a thing came to be. This is possibly the most mind-numbingly obvious instance of product placement I have witnessed since “Sonic the Hedgehog” and its sequel’s blatantly obvious and masturbatory tribute to Olive Garden. Because when I think of “Sonic the Hedgehog,” I think of underwhelming, Americanized Italian food.

Although going back to what was said earlier about the second trailer revealing the whole movie, I can say there are segments of the movie that were never shown. There is also one big surprise at the end that I had no idea about. The final ten minutes of this movie put a huge smile on my face. Apparently this surprise was revealed in the marketing, but I did not see said marketing prior to watching this film, therefore I had a heart-stopping reaction when the scene of interest came up.

In the title of this review, I suggest that “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods” goes bigger than the original, which is an effort several sequels, perhaps stereotypically, aim to achieve. This time around you have multiple threats, a giant dragon, and more heroes trying to save the day. I had fun with what this movie had in store. But as I have suggested with some other sequels in the past, bigger does not always mean better. But unlike say the “Matrix” sequels, going bigger in the case of “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods” is not a hindrance. It does not burn the movie to the ground. I get why “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods” would try to do such a thing, and it works in more ways than one. I think the heroes are likable. The villains, despite their lack of depth at times, are somewhat well realized and nicely performed by their individual actors. The CGI is honestly better than some of what Marvel has put out as of late. Heck, I think when it comes to CGI, I think this is better overall than the last big comic book movie to hit theaters, “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” I liked the movie, and some of the effects are quite good. But at times, some of them are so out of this world that I had trouble believing in them. M.O.D.O.K might just be the MCU’s strangest-looking insertion of effects work yet.

Although speaking of “Ant-Man,” I would say if I learned anything about “Shazam!” after two movies, it is very much the “Ant-Man” of the DCEU. The heroes and stories have their differences, but both are played by tall white men with black hair. Both are naturally snappy and occasionally hyper. And they both have to significantly change their physicality to become their alter egos. But what I have also noticed is that both of their movies, in addition to their franchises, play out in similar fashions. On the surface, both movies feel much smaller than their sister movies. In terms of scale, “Ant-Man” is no “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Similarly, “Shazam!” is no “Aquaman.” “Shazam” might occasionally feel large in scale, but compared to most of the cinematic universe to which it belongs, it is puny. And now, with their latest sequels, “Quantumania” and “Fury of the Gods” respectively, they try to unleash something much bigger than they’ve had before. How they go about doing so is completely different from one another, but they nevertheless try to aim higher in terms of their concept than their other movies. This is not to say 2018’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp” feels smaller than 2015’s “Ant-Man,” but I would say the leap from “Ant-Man and the Wasp” to “Quantumania” is much bigger. While not as seismic, the shift between “Shazam!” and “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods” definitely feels noticeable. There is a lot more action, more world-building, not to mention, more potential world-destroying. Bigger does not always equal better, but in the case of “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods,” going bigger led to a movie that is serviceable in more ways than one, but does not reinvent the wheel. It is a step up from “Black Adam,” but it is not the DCEU’s best work either.

In the end, “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods” is not a masterpiece of the comic book sub-genre, it has its wins, it has its losses, but I had a grand time with it. This film is packed with superpowered, monstrous joy and entertainment. It is not going to win any awards. But I do not say that as a negative because it certainly is not going to take home any Razzies. It is simply put, a decent time at the movies. To those who want to avoid this movie because they are tired of the superhero genre or because the DC universe is getting a reboot at some point, I hear you. I get it. I thought the marketing for this movie looked awful, but I went to see it anyway. Safe to say, I am glad I shelled out a few bucks to see it on the big screen. It is worth your time. I am going to give “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods” a 7/10.

“Shazam!: Fury of the Gods” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for “John Wick: Chapter 4!” The film just hit theaters this weekend, and I am very much looking forward to checking it out tonight. My thoughts will be up next week. If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods?” What did you think about it? Or, did you see the original “Shazam!” film? What are your thoughts? Which of the “Shazam!” movies do you prefer? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

65 (2023): Jurassic Farce

“65” is written and directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, the duo who also scripted “A Quiet Place” and “A Quiet Place Part II” alongside John Krasinski. This film stars Adam Driver (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Marriage Story) and Ariana Greenblatt (Avengers: Infinity War, Awake) in a story set 65 million years before modern times. In this science fiction adventure, Mills (Driver) crashes on prehistoric earth, which to him is an unfamiliar territory. He discovers within the surroundings of this land, there is intelligent life, specifically a young human girl, and dinosaurs.

“65” is easily one of my most anticipated movies of the year. Yes, it has an early release date. Although it has a lot of promise going into it. Adam Driver is a terrific actor who gives it his all in every project he does. The plot is simple but also engaging enough to not turn me off. Oh, and what was the other thing? A little something called DINOSAURS!

I was not just excited for “65” because dinosaurs were in it, but I happened to be eagerly awaiting to see what precisely “65” would do with these dinosaurs. Because I was hoping we would get a proper use of these creatures after a couple underwhelming “Jurassic World” movies. The last couple were not that great, especially “Dominion,” which I consider an achievement because it somehow managed to make dinosaurs boring. While the trailer for “65” showcased the dinosaurs to some degree, it never fleshed them out. That gave me the impression that the dinosaurs in this movie would be special, they are not going to emit a special kind of staleness. In addition, they will actually come off as scary.

But you know what is also scary? The fact that “65” might just be the worst movie I have seen so far this year.

I am truly disappointed to bring this thought to the table, because I was genuinely excited for this movie. It hurts to watch a movie that sucks. However, it breaks my heart to see a movie that I was rooting for from the beginning turn out as bad as it did. Although I should have seen the writing on the wall. Sony did not do a ton of marketing for this film. While I had no intentions to watch this, mainly because I am not caught up in the franchise, Sony made the decision to release this movie the same weekend as “Scream VI.” “65” is not a pure horror flick, but it has a ton of horror elements wrapped in whatever package it tends to bring forth. Therefore, I would not call it counterprogramming. Maybe Sony thought it could do well as a double feature with its competitor. I am not sure.

Once again, “65” is written and directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, whose experience with “A Quiet Place” speaks volumes. No pun intended. Much like “A Quiet Place,” “65” is a simple movie with a few characters who are simply trying to survive against dangerous monsters. Or in this case, dinosaurs. Although what made the screenplay for “A Quiet Place” so brilliant compared to a ton of other mainstream films is that it has almost no spoken dialogue. There are a few lines. There is also sign language. But it goes to show the power of film as a visual medium. While “65” does not have a script that insults your intelligence, the way certain lines came to life did not end up coming off in maybe the way I would have hoped. There is one particular exchange between Mills and Koe where the former emits a noise, and there is this awkward pause. Not only is the pause, again, awkward, but the noise sounds almost unnatural. For all I know, maybe Driver was poorly directed in that moment.

“65” is like if “Jurassic Park,” “A Quiet Place,” and “The Midnight Sky” got together to create a lovechild. You have dinosaurs, minimal lines, and an older man/younger girl relationship that moves things along. Except in the case of “65,” they forgot the part where they actually had to make a good movie.

This is not to say there are no positives in “65.” The film’s visual effects look clean and slick. They fit perfect within the film’s environment. The tech looks polished. The dinosaurs look real. I have no problem with the way this movie looks. I would also say some of the shots are screensaver-worthy. Not to beat a dead horse, even though this movie was not executed perfectly, the concept was at least intriguing. There was also some tension to be had in the movie regarding a particular element beyond the main characters’ control. Although I wish the writing happened to be better and the characters had more of a personality than what the movie gave me.

If I had to make a guess, “65” sounded like a great movie on paper, but was ultimately a project whose signs of doom appeared somewhere in the edit. If I pitched a movie to a studio about dinosaurs, I am sure the person on the receiving end would at least be curious. How could they not? Unless they are named Barney, dinosaurs equal instant, guaranteed entertainment. And the “Jurassic World” movies, including “Dominion,” which released two years after COVID-19 ruined everything, made tons of money despite what I and others have to say about them. “65” is not the same movie as “A Quiet Place,” but Beck and Woods evidently use similar techniques from one film to the other. There is not much dialogue, and therefore, there are moments where we are shown things instead of being told them. A basic rule of filmmaking is to show instead of tell, which is part of what makes “A Quiet Place” work like a charm. But what also made “A Quiet Place” work is that I bought into the relationships between its characters. I liked the dynamic between the family. The main duo in “65” barely has any chemistry whatsoever. Both Driver and Greenblatt do their best alongside each other with the material given to them. Although it does not change the fact these two are leads in an awkwardly designed story that I wanted to end as soon as possible.

Also, it says a lot when a movie that only goes for 93 minutes, just over an hour and a half, somehow feels too long, not to mention insufferably boring on occasion. This film is set 65 million years before our times, and yet that is how long this movie sometimes feels. Maybe this film would have made for a good video game. You could go around detailed portions of prehistoric earth. You could fight dinosaurs. You could have cool weaponry. But as a movie, this was a waste of time.

In the end, “65” is a roaring disappoint. What is it with dinosaur movies as of late? “Jurassic World: Dominion” is one of the worst blockbusters to have released in recent memory. And now “65,” which I thought could have given a boost to the dinosaur movie realm, only makes me think that these kinds of movies should be extinct. I am not going to remember “65.” In fact, I frankly think I may have tuned almost all of it out of my head by now. That is how bad this movie is. Go something else if you have the chance. I am going to give “65” a 2/10.

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

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for the latest DC movie, “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods.” I had a chance to watch the movie last Thursday, and I cannot wait to share my thoughts on this sequel. If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “65?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a movie you saw in recent memory, that you were looking forward to, only to have your hopes shattered? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

RRR (2022): Really Rad Ridiculousness

“RRR” is directed by S.S. Rajamouli (Baahubali: The Beginning, Eega) and stars N. T. Rama Rao Jr., Ram Charan, Ajay Devgn, Alia Bhatt, Shriya Saran, Samuthirakani, Ray Stevenson, Alison Doody, and Olivia Morris. This film centers around two men living in 1920s India who form a bond during a revolution.

Despite how a vast majority of my reviews are for films made in the United States, this post feels long overdue. I have heard the hype regarding “RRR” for the longest time. Everybody is talking about it. But for some reason I never got around to it. Maybe it is the three hour runtime. Maybe it is because it came out as I was finishing my senior year of college. Maybe it is because I thought there were other movies that were more important at the time. I do not know why I did not talk about this film when it was in theaters last year. While the film is available on Netflix now, I thought I would take the chance to talk about it. After all, the Oscars are this weekend, and this film did receive a nomination, so it is only appropriate. Granted it is Best Original Song, but still. Plus, the film is back in select theaters for some time, so I thought I would take the opportunity to check it out with one of my available AMC A-List punches.

As noted with my “Brahmastra: Part One” review I did last year, my experience with Indian cinema is limited. Therefore, I do not have a lot of material I can compare “RRR” to. That said, “RRR” is an incredible theatrical experience. One of the most immersive and engaging I have had in my entire life. It felt like a Broadway musical put on a giant screen. I went to go see this film at a regular 2D auditorium at an AMC. If I had to be real though, the sound in the theater is comparable to what I have experienced with seeing some movies in Dolby Cinema. The sound mix in “RRR” is basically “Tenet,” if you could actually hear what everyone is saying. The action is big, the music is loud, the effects are commanding. But not only does this movie sound like a good time, it is, simply put, a good time.

“RRR” is a simple premise done to the best of the filmmaker’s ability. The film starts off with a girl getting captured, therefore setting the stage for someone to keep her in mind and rescue her. It is definitely an inciting incident that has been done before. For example, every other “Super Mario Bros.” title has done something like this. But much like how the “Super Mario” video game franchise always strives to make the gameplay and design fun despite its simple premises, “RRR” takes this simple premise and dials everything around it up to an 11. In addition to the sound mix, the visual effects are some of the most polished ever produced. In fact, if this movie looks expensive, that is because it is. This movie cost ₹550 crore to make. In U.S. currency, that translates to $72 million. While the U.S. film industry has made plenty of movies that cost more than $72 million, as far as India’s records go, this is their most expensive production ever. When it comes to 2022’s film slate, few films compare visually. The only real rival I can name for “RRR” in this year of film would have to be “Avatar: The Way of Water,” mainly because almost all of the movie relies on CGI and effects. To be frank, “RRR” looks more polished and attractive than all of the Marvel Studios fare that came out in 2022, even “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” which I thought is one of the better-looking films the studio has done so far.

This film is led by N. T. Rama Rao Jr. and Ram Charan. These two are dynamite together. I almost cannot imagine anyone else playing this duo in their respective roles. They are likable, charming, and every scene with these two is nothing more than a joy. I could watch these two actors together in a buddy cop movie if there were ever an excuse to make one with them in it. I did not know a whole ton about this movie going into it, but one thing I always saw through the marketing is this one shot where these two gravitate, and they are holding hands together. I knew from that moment that this connection would be something special, and I was proven correct. Also, having seen that handholding scene play out in the movie, I can declare it is one of the most satisfying shots, not to mention scenes, of 2022 cinema.

A lot of people might hesitate to watch this film because of the three hour runtime. Trust me, I understand how you feel. When I saw that “RRR” is three hours long, I was a bit weary. Although I have reviewed a couple three hour movies over the past few months. As far as their individual runtimes go, they led to mixed results. One ended up feeling like a snoozefest at some point, while another took me on a time traveling journey I never wanted to end. Although if you ask me, I do not care how long a movie is as long they use that runtime to tell an entertaining narrative. “RRR” did not feel like three hours. If anything, at times, it felt shorter.

There were times where I did not want this movie to end. For those of you reading this, specifically those who question why you should watch a film made from someplace that is not Hollywood, not belonging to any preexisting IP, and comes with a runtime that surpasses three hours, I hope that everything I said so far, especially the fact that it feels shorter than it actually is, helps. “RRR” is a jaw-dropping, mind-blowing, earth-shattering spectacle in every sense of the word. Is it kind of cliché? Occasionally. Is it predictable? There are times where it is. But oh my gosh, I had a supersized batch of fun with it. When I say this film has a few clichés sprinkled in, I am being honest. But I will also be honest that those cliches are done brilliantly and supplemented by other things that I would have struggled to imagine until I saw them in this project. It is hard to determine if there will be any replay value with this film given the long runtime. The runtime is not a problem, but it is a commitment nevertheless.

I do not want to give a ton away about “RRR” in this review, partially because despite the movie being a year old, I still sort of went in blind as a bat. I did not know everything about the premise, the characters, how everything plays out. But I can guarantee you that if you want an experience you will never forget, this movie is of utmost importance. Put it at the top of your must see list. If you cannot go see this film in theaters, which you can in certain markets as of this writing, sit in front of your biggest television or crank up the dials in your home theater just to let your pixels go nuts. The film is a lively, obnoxiously immersive, and pleasing story. In addition, it has a style and look to it that pops for its entire runtime. What more could you ask for?

In the end, “RRR” is an incredible three hour extravaganza of insanity. There are films out there that I have called out for relying on style over substance like the “Star Wars” prequels. There are films that have bad looking effects in certain moments, like part of the climax in “Black Panther,” but are nevertheless able to capture my imagination. “RRR” is what happens when you take style and substance and create something special out of both of them. If anything, it is like that scene in “Ratatouille” where Remy bites two different substances and finds the tastiest, most satisfying result out of biting both at the same time. When it comes to style and substance, it is not an and/or. It is an and/and. In this case, the result is “RRR.” I am going to give “RRR” an 8/10.

“RRR” is now playing in select theaters and is available to watch on Netflix and ZEE5 for all subscribers.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for the brand new movie, “65,” starring Adam Driver as an astronaut who finds himself on prehistoric Earth. Be sure to check out that review when it drops! If you want to see this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “RRR?” What did you think about it? Or, what is the most visually stunning movie you have ever seen? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The 5th Annual Jack Awards

WARNING: The following post is over 12,000 words long. If you have a dinner reservation, cancel it now. If you have a family gathering, put it on hold. If you are tasked with saving the universe, be safe, but be sure to read this for your entertainment. Now enjoy the 5th Annual Jack Awards, formerly known as the Jackoff Awards.

Hello and welcome to the 5th Annual Jack Awards! 5 out of 5 awards show experts agree, awards shows are way too long. I am here to solve this problem by almost cutting its name in half. Hope it works! The Jack Awards used to be called The Jackoff Awards, and how did I come up with the name? Well, it won a Twitter poll. True story. I spoke for the people for four years, and now it is my turn. Literally. It’s Jack time! 

Fun fact, last year’s show, the 4th Annual Jackoff awards, was held the same day as the Oscars, where Will Smith slapped Chris Rock onstage while the latter was doing a comedy bit. Neither Smith or Rock are affiliated with today’s show, but I guarantee you, it is gonna SLAP. We’ve got a great show for you today filled with awards, comedy, and per usual, no special guests. Several films that have released over the past year have been nominated, ten of which are being recognized for the coveted Best Picture! 

Here is how the show works! Each category will feature five nominees. Categories may be technical, like Best Sound Editing. On-screen oriented, like Best Supporting Actor. Detail oriented, like Best Costume Design. All these categories will be presented one by one, and the winner will be decided by yours truly. These categories all lead up to the final category, Best Picture! This category, which features 10 nominees, is not decided by me, as I have already listed my top films of the year. The votes have been tallied based on the perception of the public. I sent out a poll which ran for two weeks. I asked, and you answered! Your favorite movie of the year could win it all! As for other rules, all the films that qualify for this year’s show must have received a theatrical release in the United States. Therefore, films like “Prey,” “Deep Water,” and “Moonshot,” regardless of quality, do not qualify for the 5th Annual Jack Awards. 

Let’s start the show! And we are going to do it the same way we always do, with a little monologue! It is time for “Jack Drees Tells Jokes to Nobody in Order to Please Himself!” I am going to state some facts about this year in film, and since there is no audience, there shall be no laughs. You know, unless you use your imagination, which Hollywood, are you listening? Use your imagination these days! Either way, 2022 is another great year for film, and I am glad to see more movies being released theatrically. Overall, a nice, solid year. Unless you are vomiting after going through a ton of multiverses, trapped inside an everything bagel, punched in the air by Black Adam, ran over by an F-18, or for some reason, happen to be canceled by Warner Brothers. 

COVID-19, whether you continue to think about it or not, has not gone away. In fact, now that it is 2023, it must be time to start season 4. What will happen this year? Who knows? Who cares? Is “Tiger King” coming back? I don’t wanna know.

Speaking of COVID-19, one of the virus’s biggest victims regarding movies, specifically “Top Gun: Maverick,” which had been postponed multiple times, finally came out. The wait is over, after like sixty billion years. Paramount wanted to release it earlier but Tom Cruise kept telling them to avoid the danger zone!

“Top Gun: Maverick” was highly successful at the box office this year, becoming the second film of the pandemic era to make $1 billion at the box office. That’s just plane crazy.

Fun fact, before “Top Gun: Maverick,” Tom Cruise, who has been acting since the early 1980s never performed in a billion-dollar film. Not even one of the “Mission: Impossible” installments joined the billion-dollar club. Looks like it only took four or so decades to show Tom Cruise the money.

The Jacks is doing its fifth ceremony today, and one of its trademarks is that for the past five years, we still had no celebrity guests. This is a matter concerning time, money, and the fact that I, Jack Drees, have a problem of desperately needing attention. It’s the story of my life.

Speaking of awards shows, audiences often complain about award shows like the Golden Globes because according to them, it is basically the Hollywood elite patting themselves on the back. So the Hollywood elite at NBC decided it would be fun to cancel this year’s Golden Globes broadcast, only to have the Hollywood Elite see it entirely in-person for themselves. 

It’s true, for the first time in years, the Golden Globes did not air its 2022 ceremony on live television. This is partially due to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organization that runs the Golden Globes, historically not having black members onboard. Some of the winners of the 2022 ceremony include the movie “Dune,” the series “Succession,” and seventy thousand other films and television shows you didn’t watch the year prior. 

On Saturday, September 3rd, movie theaters and fans alike celebrated National Cinema Day. To mark the occasion, many movie theaters including those in chains like AMC, Regal, and Cinemark for instance sold tickets for $3. And if you snuck in the back on September 3rd, you get the ultimate discount! 

Speaking of big movie theater chains, Cineworld, a British cinema chain that owns the U.S.-based Regal, officially filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. Nicole Kidman says she is heartbroken, but she responded while watching a movie at AMC, so I imagine it felt good in a place like that.

“Lightyear” released this year! “Lightyear” is the “Toy Story” spinoff that explores what would happen if Andy had found out about Buzz Lightyear through a science fiction movie. The answer, go to Toys R Us, point at a Buzz Lightyear toy, and throw an endless tantrum until he finally gets what he wants. You know, normal kid stuff.

This is the first Pixar movie since theatres reopened in the United States to have an exclusive theatrical release. The last time a Pixar movie was in theatres, I remember some guy named Woody telling another guy in a hat that this town ain’t big enough for the both of them.

Speaking of Pixar, “Turning Red,” nominated for Best Animated Feature and Best Picture, released this year on Disney+ and in select theatres. “Turning Red” is about a young girl named Mei who becomes a red panda whenever she experiences any strong emotion. Otherwise known as… the most dangerous setup for a YouTube reaction channel ever.

Marvel Studios produced three theatrical films this year including “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” “Thor: Love and Thunder,” and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” It has been another epic year for post-credit scene enthusiasts.

Sam Raimi directed the Best Visual Effects-nominated “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” making this the 4th Marvel-based film he ever directed. Because if Hollywood is known for anything over the past few years, it’s trying new things. 

Sam Raimi has had a long and prestigious career as a horror director in addition to helming the Tobey Maguire-starring “Spider-Man” movies. Sam Raimi did the impossible! He made THREE movies with “Spider” in the title that literally had no scares! 

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is being represented today with three nominations! The film is also one of the biggest box office hits of the year. I can see why. I admire Kevin Feige and Ryan Coogler for following in the footsteps of James Cameron and putting more blue people in the story. 

Speaking of which, “Avatar: The Way of Water,” the first “Avatar” sequel, is nominated for three awards today. The long-awaited follow up FINALLY released this year. Fans waited thirteen years for an “Avatar” sequel, meaning that the first movie probably needs braces. 

“Avatar: The Way of Water” is the only 2022 film to make over $2 billion at the box office. Other studios are already taking action. The inclusion of blue people equals an automatic success! Obviously! Paramount just announced seven Smurfs movies! 

Speaking of James Cameron, the classic movie “Titanic” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet has officially turned 25 years old! Therefore, Leonardo DiCaprio decided it would be best to break up with it. 

On the topic of iconic directors, Steven Spielberg released a movie this year! That’s right! He released “The Fabelmans!” Nominated for 5 Jacks, the film is about a young boy who aspires to turn his filmmaking passion into something bigger. It’s good to see Grampy Spielberg getting up and out of the house again! 

Much like Kenneth Branagh’s “Belfast,” which was honored during the previous ceremony, “The Fabelmans” is a coming-of-age story loosely based on Steven Spielberg’s childhood. Yes, I was really excited to learn that “E.T.” was inspired by that one time Spielberg flew by the moon. 

There are a lot of movies that were released this year that celebrate filmmaking and allow Hollywood to pat themselves on the backs. “The Fabelmans,” “Babylon,” “Nope,” even “Clerks III.” You know what they should do in 2023? Make follow-ups to all these movies and celebrate the eternity of sequels we’ve gotten over the years! “Clerks IV: Give Us More Money for the Fifth One.” 

This evening’s frontrunner, “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” has been nominated for a record-breaking 16 Jack Awards! This beats last year’s “West Side Story,” nominated for 11 awards, to become the most nominated film in this show’s history. I imagine a lot of people are very happy about this. The only people who are probably not happy are some folks who work for the IRS. 

Of the many nominations “Everything Everywhere All at Once” has received for today’s ceremony, a good number of them are for acting. Michelle Yeoh was nominated for Best Actress. Jamie Lee Curtis was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Stephanie Hsu was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress. And Ke Huy Quan was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. This movie has so many terrific performances that I almost gave the Google Eyes their own category. I’m calling it the “The Blink You’ll Miss It Performance of the Year.” 

Earlier this year, “The Batman” released in theaters! “The Batman” is nominated for 4 awards today! The movie is rated PG-13, so unfortunately, Bruce Wayne cannot see it.

Last summer, San Diego Comic-Con had its first in-person event since the beginning of the pandemic. For the first time in three years, fans got to experience the quintessential foundation of Comic-Con, waiting in long lines. 

Many exciting announcements came from this year’s Comic-Con, like the confirmation that Marvel Studios will continue to bring forth its Multiverse Saga, which will conclude with two “Avengers” films in 2025. Meanwhile, James Cameron announced that “Avatar 3” will be hitting theatres in 2099. 

For the first time since the start of the COVID era, D23, Disney’s large convention where announcements are given on Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and other related projects, was held in Anaheim, California. This year’s event was sponsored by Visa. VISA: The perfect way to forget that you bought a subscription for ESPN+. 

Here’s a fun fact. Speaking of Disney, I went to Disneyland for the first time this year. Now, I have been to Disney World a couple times in my life, but this is the first time I went to Disneyland. And I thought the Internet needed something new, something fresh. After all these years, they are getting an entitled vlogger who paid over a couple hundred bucks to wait in long lines. Finally! So, on Friday, September 9th, I left my hotel in West Hollywood, went to Anaheim, and entered a place where the impossible happened. There was a giant mouse in sight, and not one human being tried to poison it. Here is my first time at Disneyland.

I will be real with you. I had a great time at Disneyland and if I had the opportunity to go back, I might as well take it. And speaking of great times, it is a great time to honor the movies of 2022, and we are going to do that by introducing the first category of the ceremony, Best Animated Feature. To help me do that, please welcome my first celebrity guest!

*cue jazzy music*

*record scratch*

Ha, I fooled ya! You’re stuck with me!

Since the 2nd iteration of the Jack Awards, Best Animated Feature has always been presented first. Past recipients of this award include “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” and “Over the Moon” just to name a few. Who will join the ranks this year? The latest DreamWorks spinoff? A shell-shocking ride? A tale of teenage bros? A Japanese fantasy novel adaptation? Or a 2000s-set coming of age story? Here are the nominees for Best Animated Feature.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:

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

And the Jack goes to…

Dean Fleischer Camp, Elisabeth Holm, Andrew Goldman, Caroline Kaplan, and Paul Mezey for “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On!”

The animation medium has had various highs in 2022. Three movies from said medium made my top 10 of the year, including “Marcel the Shell.” “Marcel the Shell” is a movie that stuck with me because in addition to being intricately designed and realized, it is maybe the most adorable movie I have seen in a long time. If a Studio Ghibli title had a baby with the mockumentary genre, you might get “Marcel the Shell.” Of the movies listed, this is the only film of the bunch that has been done in stop motion. The others are either done with traditional 2D or 3D animation. Cinematically, “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” is one of this year’s most minimalistic films. Compared to other nominees like “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” it is quiet and tiny. But it is also mighty in its execution. With some of the year’s most heartwarming and hilarious moments, “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” is a must see, and a definite recommend for a movie night, especially with family.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If that is the case, then these next five movies are some of the most gorgeous of 2022. In an era dominated by effects-heavy films, these are the ones that stand out. Here are the nominees for Best Visual Effects.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

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

And the Jack goes to…

“Avatar: The Way of Water!”

In 2009, the world was marveled by James Cameron’s latest creation. 13 years later, that creation finally has a sequel, and it might just look even better than its counterpart. The motion capture in “Avatar: The Way of Water” is some of the finest that has ever been put to screen. The underwater scenes are eye-popping and jaw-dropping. “Avatar: The Way of Water” is a film that is best experienced on the biggest screen you can find. It is worth the extra bucks for IMAX, Dolby, 3D, you name it. And part of the reason is because like James Cameron’s other films, “Avatar: The Way of Water” is easy on the eyes. Pandora may not be a real place, but there were times where I felt like I was one with it. There were times I where I felt like I was floating by whales, flying through the air, and rushing through the jungle. “Avatar: The Way of Water” is as stunning as it is massive.

That is two awards down, and we have several more to go. But before we get to those, it is time to introduce one of the nominees for Best Picture. We will introduce the film and play a trailer that goes along with it. There are ten Best Picture nominees today, and this is the first one.

Our first Best Picture is the latest spinoff and sequel set in the “Shrek” universe. Starring Antonio Banderas as a fearless hero who gets caught up in his own obsession of pushing the boundaries of his safety, he needs to find a way to live his best life before he dies his ninth and final death. Packed with comedy, adventure, and tons of fun, this film truly is the cat’s meow. With stunning animation that blends elements of 2D and 3D, this film is a feast for the eyes. But this film is not all spectacle, as its story brings an important lesson about appreciating the life you have, while also serving as a reminder to avoid throwing that life away. Nominated for 2 Jack Awards, this is “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.”

It is time for the first acting categories of the night, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. Help is needed every day. Whether it means help from an assistant, a medical professional, a parent, a mentor, a teacher. The concept of help spans far and wide. In the film industry, help, or in this case, support, is a constant need, and some of it is fulfilled with these performances. Here are the nominees for Best Supporting Actor.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

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

And the award goes to…

Ke Huy Quan for “Everything Everywhere All at Once!”

I think it is safe to say… EVERYBODY loves Waymond. In this short round of time, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” has racked up its first win of the day! The film was nominated in almost every category today, including the recently presented Best Visual Effects. So while it will not have a clean sweep, it should come close to nearly putting everything on a bagel. Ke Huy Quan’s outing in this film is not only a great performance on its own, but it is supplemented with the amazing notion that he has not been a part of this industry for several years. He took a break, sat around, and made a Tom Brady Super Bowl-style comeback for the ages! Ke Huy Quan, much like several other stars in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” were given a complicated task. Because they not only had to play a layered character, but they had to differentiate their interpretations from scene to scene, one moment to the next. Quan makes his transititons from one universe to the next look easy. He brings a lot to the table between his energy, his dramatic chops, and an occasional funny line. He is the whole package. Here is a clip of Ke Huy Quan in “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

And now, here are the nominees for Best Supporting Actress.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

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

And the Jack goes to…

Stephanie Hsu for “Everything Everywhere All at Once!”

What a tough category! What a lineup! All of these performances are deserving of recognition! But at the end of the day, I had to choose one. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is two for two on supporting actor categories, with Stephanie Hsu taking the latter! Much like Waymond, played by Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu’s Joy is an incredibly complex individual. At one moment, she is as innocent as can be. In another, she is an evil mastermind. Hsu is given everything all at once to do and she does it to a T. The fact that Hsu is able to provide a couple unique, but still believably connected performances, makes her completely admirable. What makes “Everything Everywhere All at Once” work so well is that the varied versions of the characters of different universes are not only unalike based on what the audience is told, but shown. Whether it is through a costume, an action, or the way a character talks. It is difficult to say this is more evident than whenever Joy, or Jobu Topaki, is on screen. Hsu gives a portrayal for the ages and brings EVERYTHING to the table. Here is a clip of Stephanie Hsu in “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

Our second Best Picture is an animated feature which was released in select theatres and on Disney+. The film follows Meilin Lee, a young girl with an expressive personality. This film serves as a metaphor for human development in addition to being an excellent representation towards a divide a parent and child might have as the child grows up. This 3D animated coming of age story set in the 2000s has a modern-looking polish that also takes inspiration from Japanese anime, and the results are quite pleasing. The style is dynamic, the characters are beautifully energetic, and there is not a moment where boredom seems inevitable. Nominated for 2 Jack awards, this is “Turning Red.”

It is time to move onto the sound categories. This year is the same as every other. We will be starting with sound editing and finishing with sound mixing. The reason is the same as always. E comes before M, therefore editing comes before mixing. If you have experienced this show before, you know the rules. These movies have some of the most exhilarating effects for the ears. Here are the nominees for Best Sound Editing.

BEST SOUND EDITING

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

And the Jack goes to…

“Top Gun: Maverick!”

Few movies since COVID-19 started have had people coming to it in droves like “Top Gun: Maverick,” and if the box office, the reviews, the audience reactions show anything, it is that this is a movie that was MADE for the theater experience. And part of that has to do with the film’s sound effects. No effect compelled my ears more than anytime a plane was either set to take off or already flying through the air. The original “Top Gun” is a notable movie and a favorite among some, but this sequel surpasses its predecessor from a technical perspective. “Top Gun: Maverick” delivers the big guns on its effects and that is a small part of what makes the movie such a thrilling, captivating, and immersive theatrical experience, and one that can also be enjoyed on a home theater system as well. Congrats!

Now, you think you are seeing double, think again. For the first time in Jack Awards history, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing have the exact same nominees. Will they have the same winner? That is for fate to decide. These are the movies that are so nice, we had to nominate them in sound categories twice. Here are the nominees for Best Sound Mixing.

BEST SOUND MIXING

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

And the award goes to…

“Top Gun: Maverick!”

Speaking of so nice we had to do it twice, “Top Gun: Maverick” wins again! It has taken BOTH sound categories! While many movies over the past few years have tried to get people back in the cinema to varying results, few have said “welcome back” like “Top Gun: Maverick” did. This is best showcased in the film’s opening scene, which is reminiscent of its original counterpart. Planes have NEVER sounded as attention-grabbing as they have in this scene. Then the rest of the movie happened. And these planes are loud, but they never felt damaging to the ears. If anything, they felt like a drug. They were mixed so perfectly that they hit a sweet spot. It is sound so loud, and yet, not to the point where I felt like I was going to lose my sense of hearing by the time the film was over. This film took me to the danger zone and back, and therefore, it is no surprise, that it takes home both sound categories. Congratulations to “Top Gun: Maverick!”

Our third Best Picture is what happens when a simple concept has monumental execution. The concept, which showcases the divide and splitting up of two friends, has never been so amusingly funny and hypnotizingly dramatic. Reuniting director Martin McDonaugh and stars Colin Farrell alongside Brendan Gleeson, this film was a recipe for success based on its talent. But talent is not all this movie has. There is a compelling narrative where every character has a moment to shine. Gorgeous locations that are immersively placed on camera. And some of the most hysterical writing that has been delivered in any project made for the screen in 2022. Nominated for 6 Jack awards, this is “The Banshees of Inisherin.”

They say that no film is perfect. And they’re right. Even some of the greatest films of all time have their imperfections. The shark in “Jaws” looks fake. “La La Land” presents a much more happy go lucky interpretation of Los Angeles traffic. And there are no celebrities fighting each other in “Star Wars!” No movie is perfect, including some of the films that have been nominated for the 5th Annual Jack Awards. That is, until now. Yours truly took some of this year’s films and decided to make them even better, even if it is just by a smidge. Ladies and gentlemen, it is time for the 5th edition of Film Improvements.

It is time for the design categories! Starting with costume design. The costumes of a film are especially important to the production. For one thing, they keep everyone on set from being naked. That is always important. Another thing to consider is that they emit a flair for someone on screen. A vibe. A fashion sense. An identity. When it comes to these identities, these are some of the most intricate factors to forming said identity throughout the past year of cinema. Whether it is an alter ego, or an open form of self-expression. Here are the nominees for Best Costume Design.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

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

And the Jack goes to…

Mary Zophres for “Babylon!”

Another tough category! I was going back and forth on this one! “Babylon” is a film that celebrates the film industry and Hollywood. And for the three hours of this celebration, I got to see a large cast, all of which were intricately dressed with one unique outfit after the next. The film is set in the era where filmmakers were transitioning from silent films to talkies, and I can say these outfits have spoken for themselves! Whether it is formal wear, a Knight outfit, or a revealing dress, this movie is not short on the options of wearables. What helps in this film’s case is that all of these options are done masterfully. Some people might say the three hour runtime for “Babylon” is too long. I can only imagine how long it took for some of these outfits to be conceptualized, crafted, and finalized. The results are fantastic, and it aids this equally fantastic film.

And now, onto the Production Design category. The Production Designer is responsible for the overall look of the film’s sets and background. If I cannot believe their work is real, then I cannot believe that the film feels real. Thankfully, these five have provided some unreal results, allowing them to receive a nomination today. Here are the nominees for Best Production Design.

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

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

And the Jack goes to…

Florencia Martin for “Babylon!”

“Babylon” is by far one of the year’s most extravagant films. It is packed to the brim in every way. It is three hours long. There are a ton of characters. And the sets are some of the most detailed of any film to have come out in 2022. Every shot feels like a trip into a painting. One moment, I am at a party. In another, I am on a movie set. In another, I am at someone’s house. Not once did I feel like I was in 2022. I felt like I was taken back to an era before I was born. That is the best compliment I can give this movie. Especially given how the film was set in 1926. A lot of these films are nominated because of how they can take me back to a particular time in history, but “Babylon” did so better than any other. Florencia Martin, congratulations!

Our fourth Best Picture is for one of the funniest, wildest, craziest movies of 2022. The film makes fun of everyone from the food service industry to critics to entertainers to other artists of various kinds. It is a story that shows how creators will do anything to make themselves feel fulfilled, but also serve the needs and desires of others. This film is more than a dig on the rich and entitled. It is a suspenseful, thrilling, unpredictable ride full of twists and turns where the heartbeat skipping and knee slapping never end. With a stacked cast including Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult, and Ralph Fiennes to name a few, it is a feast of a movie fit for a king. Nominated for 3 Jack awards, this is “The Menu.”

Every year, the Jack Awards gives out two Lifetime Achievement Awards. One for someone who is alive, and one for someone who had ended up passing away the previous year. Per usual, we will start by honoring the individual who is still with us. This is the Roger Deakins Award.

The Roger Deakins Award is given to an individual who has continuously made their mark on cinema and the industry throughout the course of their life. For this year, we will be honoring someone who has developed a reputation as an iconic and talented actor. Born in 1952, his first role was as Fred in the television movie “The Face of Rage.” The film originally aired on ABC in 1983. This was not the actor’s only television experience, as he would go on to star in one of the most iconic shows of the late 20th century, “Roseanne.” He even returned for the 2018 reboot and its spinoff show, “The Connors,” the latter of which continues to air on ABC today. Speaking of television, he has hosted “Saturday Night Live” 13 times. A couple people who ended up hosting more times than him include Steve Martin, who hosted 16 times, and Alec Baldwin, who hosted 17 times. But he is not just a star on television, as he has had quite a history on the big screen. From comedies like “Revenge of the Nerds” and “Blues Brothers 2000.” To dramas like “The Artist” and “Flight.” To thrillers like “10 Cloverfield Lane” and “Argo.” To action blockbusters like “Transformers: Age of Extinction” and “Kong: Skull Island.” The man does it all. He has even had a history of animation voiceovers. His voice can be heard each year around the holiday season as Frosty the Snowman on “Frosty Returns.” He has also appeared in Pixar films like “Up” and “Monsters, Inc.,” Disney proper fare like “The Emperor’s New Groove” and “The Princess and the Frog,” and even films like “Bee Movie” and “Speed Racer.” His voice is everywhere. He is everywhere. Arguably his most well-known movie role is Walter Sobchak from “The Big Lebowski,” one of his few collaborations with the Coen Brothers. In addition to “The Big Lebowski” becoming a cult classic, the actor behind this character is responsible for delivering one of the most iconic edited for TV lines in the history of cinema. “This is what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps.” I will let you figure out what that means. His work has led to a Golden Globe win, in addition to four other nominations. If you think that is impressive, his work also led to a Primetime Emmy win, in addition to nine other nominations. Ladies and gentlemen, this year’s recipient of the Roger Deakins Award is none other than John Goodman!

John Goodman has the talent of a superstar and the range of a chameleon. Truly an actor’s actor. Whether it is on the big or small screen, there is no denying his ability to captivate and entertain an audience. I am sure the world is looking forward to whatever else Goodman has in store to add to his already stacked library of content. Congratulations!

For those of you who have followed Scene Before or have known me for some time, you would know that I am an advocate for physical media. I have always been a physical media junkie. I go out every Tuesday to stores like Best Buy, Target, and Walmart just to pick up new titles that drop for the week. This past February, a new store opened in Biddeford, Maine, about an hour from where I live, and I decided to check it out for myself. This is part of a chain called Bull Moose, whose stores I have been to in the past, but on Saturday, February 11th, the location of interest had a grand opening, so I thought I would investigate. Here is my first visit.

Our fifth Best Picture is the most nominated film in Jack awards history. Starring Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, and Stephanie Hsu, these three portray a family of characters that display a sense of universality in this film’s multiversal story. This movie takes the multiverse concept and creates a story out of it that is difficult to imagine as to how it could ever be topped. With a multitude of outlandish, freaky, never before seen concepts, the only thing bigger than this movie’s count of characters and universes are the imaginations of its directors, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. These two have delivered a one-of-a-kind film that showcases what cinema is all about. Big, bold, imaginative, fresh ideas brought in front of an audience to deliver every emotion ever conceived. The film is a lot of things at once, literally, but it is at its core, a family drama with compelling characters who must navigate various obstacles. Nominated for a record-setting, multiverse-shattering 16 Jack awards, this is “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

Movies and music go together like bread and better. Whether it was through the silent era where music would be played live at the theater, or through modern times where there would be a pre-recorded score. Regardless of the setting, movies have continued to provide emotional value through its extravagant compositions, various themes, and terrific tunes. These five are the most memorable musical supplements of 2022 cinema. Here are the nominees for Best Original Score.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

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

And the award goes to…

Justin Hurwitz for “Babylon!”

This is Justin Hurwitz’s second Jack nomination and first win! His first nomination was in 2019 for “First Man.” It has become clear that Damien Chazelle movies and jazz are a match made in Heaven, and “Babylon,” alongside its banger score, is a testament to that. “Babylon” features a couple hours of Justin Hurwitz’s music, and not even for a second, does it get old. It makes you tap your feet, bang your head, and smile! Out of all of this year’s repeated themes, Hurwitz’s work in “Babylon” is by far some of the most memorable. As mentioned in the Production Design category, “Babylon” is a film that easily transports its viewers, such as myself, back to another era. While jazz continues to be a banger genre in these times, the music in “Babylon” provides for a transportive experience. It is magic for the ears and the brain. If you would like to know what I mean, here is a taste of some of the score.

The next category goes out to the laborers of the body. Specifically through polishing, cutting, styling, and other forms of making on-screen talent sparkle and shine in their designated role. These five movies have stylists who are dedicated to their craft, therefore allowing the talent they work with to be as dedicated to theirs. Here are the nominees for Best Makeup & Hairstyling.

BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING 

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

And the award goes to…

Jason Baird, Mark Coulier, Louise Coulston, and Shane Thomas for “Elvis!”

If you have read my review for “Elvis” this year, you would know that there are certain things I have to say about the film as a “movie.” But as a production, there is no denying its glitz and glamour. Some of this year’s finest makeup work has gone to the likes of Austin Butler and Tom Hanks, Elvis and Tom Parker respectively. If you look around in life, you are likely to find several Elvis Presley impersonators, and Austin Butler could have looked like yet another one of them, but in the case of this film, he is Elvis. He is as the movie title says he is. He looks like he belongs within his time and as if he brought the long-hailed artist back from the dead. While Tom Hanks certainly has his distinct, recognizable face in this film, there are several scenes in this film where he has a look, both on his face and the rest of his body, that harkens away from the perhaps stereotypical America’s dad look he has rocked for so many years. Congrats to “Elvis!”

Our sixth Best Picture is a lovely charmer of a flick based on a web series. Jenny Slate has had a productive year between “Bob’s Burgers,” its theatrically released film, “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” and “Big Mouth” for example. Slate’s most prominent role this year, however, may be as a shell that shocked the world. One small, tiny creature was able to emit such enormous adorableness. When you meet this shell for the first time, you will fall in love and see the world in a whole new way. There are movies that are larger than life to the point that they’re exciting. But there are also movies like this that are so miniscule, so small, that yet the imaginative power behind them is evidently giant. Nominated for 3 Jack awards, this is “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.”

Some movies start with a flashback. Some start with a flash forward. Some start somewhere in the middle. Where a movie starts is dependent on what the story requires. But there is a place where all of these movies start. An idea. That idea, eventually becomes a screenplay. That screenplay, eventually becomes a production. That production, eventually becomes history. These next two categories celebrate a series of ideas that started off somewhere in time and eventually went on their way to becoming timeless. And we will start this segment by listing the nominees for Best Original Screenplay.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

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

And the Jack goes to…

Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert for “Everything Everywhere All at Once!”

In this great, vast multiverse, few ideas are as lively and vivid as this one. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is a goldmine of a movie because despite its complicated nature, it is palatable, easy to grasp once you get the hang of it, and full to the brim with entertainment. They say not to judge a book by its cover, but “Everything Everywhere All at Once” may make an argument to bend that rule. This movie has… Quite literally everything you could want in it. It travels across various universes. There’s comedy. There’s drama. There’s action. There’s scares. There’s family turmoil. There’s hot dog fingers! There’s everything bagels! Is it too much?! Absolutely not! The beauty of “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is that at the center of all of these shenanigans going on, the most important thing happening is perhaps the fate of Evelyn as to whether or not she can steady her relationship with the IRS. It is a simple concept blown to an attractive, tasty proportion. It is a seamless, yet crazy ride. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is the Best Original Screenplay of 2022.

Now onto the Best Adapted Screenplay category, where we celebrate five of the best borrowed and adjusted ideas of the year. Here are the nominees.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

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

And the Jack goes to…

Ti West and Mia Goth for “Pearl!”

“Pearl” is part of a unique, lovable, attractive franchise. Yes, you read that right, franchise. Unless you follow horror or have been paying attention to this year’s cinematic calendar, some of you might not know what I am talking about. “Pearl” is a prequel to “X,” which started off as a story about people in the adult film industry whose time filming a movie goes sideways. “Pearl” takes a certain character and aspect of that movie and completely has a field day with it. The script for the film is a different animal entirely. This story, much like “X,” is about someone who wants to be a star. Although one notable difference is that “X” is about someone who is doing what they can to rise as a star. “Pearl” is about someone who wants to rise as a star, but has a hard time overcoming the obstacles to get there. Whether it is her family or self-esteem. Original ideas, “X” being an example, can sometimes beg questions as to whether it would be cool if the idea were taken further, perhaps in a sequel or spinoff. “X” a nifty idea that was excellently expanded with its own flair in “Pearl.” Although in addition to that, this movie was done this well at such a quick pace and a $1 million budget. If you think small, you can sometimes win big. Congratulations!

Our seventh Best Picture is a horror film that despite its happy go lucky title, can make you do lots of things that do not fall under its description. It can make you jitter, wince, maybe even scream. Led by Sosie Bacon, this film is about a psychiatrist who investigates an ongoing trend. One that may make people look as joyful as a party clown, but also as sinister as the Joker. During the investigation, she begins to see an unraveling of chaos in her life and around her social circles. Helmed by Parker Finn in his feature-length debut, this is the definition of a little movie that could. It is inspired by a short film he directed, “Laura Hasn’t Slept.” It was originally supposed to go straight to Paramount+, but based on an enthusiastic audience during test screenings, the film found its way into theaters, where it provided for one of the most chilling experiences of the year. Nominated for 3 Jack awards, this is “Smile.”

We are now moving onto Best Film Editing. An important aspect of any cinematic outing. Without editing, scenes and framing will not line up as smoothly. Without editing, audiences will be lost in the story’s pace and direction. Without editing, movies and stories will not be as seamless as one could hope. Whether it is through an L-cut, J-cut, cross dissolve, fade to white, fade to black, or even a long take, the edit is always important in conveying the story everyone involved set out to tell. We will now insert the nominees for Best Film Editing.

BEST FILM EDITING

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

And the Jack goes to…

Paul Rogers for “Everything Everywhere All at Once!”

Paul Rogers has sealed the fourth win for “Everything Everywhere All at Once!” That covers a quarter of the film’s 16 nominations. For the record, if this film wins two more Jacks, it will tie “Tenet” as the winningest film in the history of this show. And much like “Tenet,” “Everything Everywhere All at Once” has complications that are perhaps mostly evidenced through its edit. Between the multiple universes colliding with each other, Evelyn’s revelation scene two thirds of the way through, and how beautifully timed everything is with the musical score by Son Lux, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is a well oiled machine of a movie. It is an adventure that truly has everything you could want and more. It goes for everything, and lands it. It is hard to find a faster, quicker paced movie from the past year than this one. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is an edit that starts off like any other movie, and somewhere around the first act and beyond, forms a league of its own. It is exciting, thrilling, and emits an adrenaline rush. Congratulations to Paul Rogers!

Wayne Gretsky once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Thankfully, these five movies honored today have a multitude of shots that go to 100%. Whether they were shot on film or digital, the missions of these films and their crews have been accomplished to the best of their abilities. The cinematographers nominated today aided in giving some of the most picturesque images that are either fantastically framed, wonderfully lit, or both. Here are the nominees for Best Cinematography.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

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

And the Jack goes to…

Hoyte Van Hoytema for “Nope!”

Yep! You heard that right! “Nope” is the winner. And you might have been thinking between the aerial shots in “Top Gun: Maverick” and the multiversal shenanigans in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” as a couple examples, that “Nope” would not have a chance in this category. You might be shocked to know that “Nope” is the winner. Here is why “Nope” won. Not only does it offer stunning shots from start to finish, including some on IMAX film, making it one of the clearest movies of the year. But what seals “Nope” as the true victor is its night shots. I had no idea while watching “Nope” that a majority of the night shots were actually filmed during daytime. Not because they were done on a green screen or a StageCraft, but Hoyte Van Hoytema utilized an infrared version of the ARRI Alexa 65. This results in some of the most massive and attractive shots of the year, and it could set a new standard for how night shots are done. Much like “Babylon” and “The Fabelmans,” “Nope” is a story that honors people working in film. Part of the plot even involves getting the “money shot” of a UFO for everyone to see. This movie shows the money and more. Congratulations to Hoyte van Hoytema!

Our eighth Best Picture is a subversive, scary flick that is yet another great addition to this year’s collection of horror masterpieces. Written and directed by Zach Cregger, who also appears in the movie as Everett, this film is not the easiest to describe, but a thrill to watch. At its core, this story showcases what happens when strangers navigate themselves into each other’s lives through a house. Despite this film having a small cast, they find a way to deliver a huge oomph. Offering one of the most twisted, horrific, and unpredictable screenplays of 2022, this is a film that kicks off with intimidation and dials the craziness up to an 11 as the runtime progresses. Nominated for 3 Jack awards, this is “Barbarian.”

One of the biggest horror movies of the year is Paramount’s “Smile.” By the way the film is nominated for Best Original Score, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture today! The movie was very successful, it beat “Bros.” on its opening weekend and dominated the September 2022 slate. However, theoretically, the success of this movie has led to an unfortunate, unexpected problem. People are smiling way too much. We here at the Jack Awards are proud to present a solution to this ongoing problem.

Songs are more than just music. They can take us to places we would have never expected to go just in the whim of a note. Whether it is the flick of a piano, the sound of a voice, or the bang of a drum, songs often emit the best of our emotions, and often times, the emotions of those who create them. There are many ways to make your voice heard. Talking, whispering, shouting, even voting. But I think it can be universally agreed that singing may be one of the most awe-inspiring ways of all. These five songs inspired viewers, touched their emotions, and put them in the right place at the right time. Here are the nominees for Best Original Song.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG 

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

And the award goes to…

Lady Gaga and BloodPop for Hold My Hand, featured in “Top Gun: Maverick!”

First things first. In the official nominations post where I shared the list of potential winners in this category, I forgot to acknowledge BloodPop. We all make mistakes, I have acknowledged him now. Let’s hope this does not happen again. Second, congratulations to him and Lady Gaga for creating such an epic, memorable song that capped off “Top Gun: Maverick” with an absolute BANG! Between this song, “Danger Zone,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and the epic score helmed by Lorne Balfe, “Top Gun: Maverick” has a killer track and this song culminates it like a boss. I have seen the film three times, and I have been moved by this song every time I watched it. It matches perfectly with the scenes with which it belongs, it has a rhythm that goes hard, and Lady Gaga’s recognizable and beastly voice sells the song even harder than it had to be sold. It is a perfect finale song that ends the story and it made me go, “Yeah, that was worth it.” “Top Gun: Maverick” is a movie that was worth watching in the theater, and I was thrilled with the two times I heard this song through 12 channel surround sound. Doing that, only made me more excited once I bought the movie and watched it at home. And if you think I am joking when I tell you this song goes hard, I might as well show you I am serious. Here is the official original song from “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Hold My Hand.”

And now we are down to the final five categories of the show. Starting with Best Director. The directors of these five films have taken us back in time, forward in time,, and everywhere in between. Whether their story was told in the confines of our universes, or within a made up environment, the end goal for each of these filmmakers was the same. Execute their vision to the best of their ability. These tales allowed us to see the world through their eyes, and made us look at our own in a different light than we did before. Whether their vision was an old Hollywood tribute, a multiversal trip, a childhood remembrance, a COVID-acknowledged escape, or a cheery yet disturbing tale of hysteria, the filmmakers took us from our world to theirs in the spawning of a frame. Here are the nominees for Best Director.

BEST DIRECTOR 

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

And the Jack goes to…

Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert for “Everything Everywhere All at Once!”

The domination continues! “Everything Everywhere All at Once” acquires another win and The Daniels acquire their second of the ceremony! Good thing the Jacks does not give out trophies, they are gonna need a bigger shelf! The Daniels are not only crazy scribes, but diabolically twisted directors too! The strangeness of “Everything Everywhere All at Once” should come as no surprise to followers of these two, given their preceding effort on “Swiss Army Man.” And if you thought Daniel Radcliffe farting was weird, then how about their follow-up with Michelle Yeoh traveling across universes while trying to do her taxes? “Everything Everywhere All at Once” feels like a movie only these two could have done. Obviously the fact that they wrote it helps. The two utilized a stellar cast from Michelle Yeoh to Jamie Lee Curtis, giving them transformative roles that add to their already stacked resumes. As someone who has made productions like this, developed shorts, and worked at a news station, I understand the strength and fortitude it takes to make a piece of media. The ability to make a movie with this many things going on at such a quick pace is beyond my capacity of comprehension. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is not only one of the best written films of the year, but the Daniels utilize their screenplay as best they can during the film’s actual production and dials their lovable trademarks up to an 11. Congratulations to the Daniels! “Everything Everywhere All at Once” has to win two more awards to set a Jack record! Let’s see if it can be done!

Our ninth Best Picture is a prequel to a film that came out only months before it did. While it may seem like a short time to separate an original and expansion from each other. Despite belonging in the same universe as its predecessor, in no way does it feel like the same story, nor does it emit the same vibe. There are similar themes and ideas, just executed differently. Speaking of similarities, Mia Goth returns to play a character who had a supporting role in the previous outing, as she unveils the life of a younger, more aspirational version of the character. Also returning is writer and director Ti West, who beautifully helms this chilling, thrilling, shivering character study. Featuring one of the best monologue scenes in the past few years of cinema, the film is a masterpiece based on its screenplay, direction, and character portrayals. Nominated for 7 Jack awards, this is “Pearl.”

The movies are a magical place. Once those actors show up on screen, their real life personalities disappear. In the case of the five men who are nominated for Best Actor tonight, they did not disappear physically, but they did so imaginatively, by transforming into someone else. One actor transformed into a happy go lucky man who wants to be everyone’s best friend. Another transformed into a veteran who wants to do what is best for his daughter. Another transformed into one of the world’s most famous singers. Another transformed into an eccentric, brilliant chef who wants to satisfy his customers. Another transformed into a father who wants to make up for lost time with what little moments he has left. Magic is in the air, and these five are some of this year’s finest illusionists. Here are the nominees for Best Actor.

BEST ACTOR 

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

And the Jack goes to…

Austin Butler for “Elvis!”

Over the years, lead actors and movies about music have gone together like bread and butter. During the initial Jack awards in 2019, back when it was called the Jackoffs, Rami Malek won for Best Actor based on his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody.” In 2021, Eva Noblezada took Best Actress for her portrayal of Rose, an aspiring singer in the movie “Yellow Rose,” in the 3rd edition of the show. Much like the latter, Butler carries this award based on his singing ability. He did most of the singing in “Elvis” himself. But much like Rami Malek, Butler transformed himself into one of the most talked about artists of their time, and only helped increase the relevancy of said artist today. Not just through lyrics, but through physical movements. Austin Butler is the man who became the king. He is easily the shining light of his film. Not just because of the character’s glitz and gloss, if I had to give my favorite aspect of the movie “Elvis,” Austin Butler would be it. The movie would not be the same without him. It does not matter how the rest of the movie is. If the character of Elvis Presley were miscast, it would have arguably have been the biggest misfire of the year. While I did not end up giving “Elvis” a positive review, I mentioned Austin Butler saves the movie in more ways than one. He puts on a show. Both as a performer, and the performer he portrays. Like it or not, “Elvis” is one of the most dynamic, quickly paced narratives of the year, and much of the credit should go to Austin Butler, who did everything in his power to transform into one of the most iconic artists of the 20th century. Congratulations to Austin Butler! Here is a clip of his performance.

Moving onto five more fine illusionists. This year, we saw many terrific performances from a multitude of actresses. But only five can reside amongst the year’s greatest. One actress transformed into one of the biggest stars of 1926. Another transformed into a stern but charismatic movie theater manager. Another transformed into a traveler of dimensions. Another transformed into someone who aspired to be legend of the screen. Another transformed into a controversial, but notable composer. These five women cast a spell on all of us, with dazzling, imaginative, out of this world results. Here are the nominees for Best Actress.

BEST ACTRESS

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

And the Jack goes to…

Michelle Yeoh for “Everything Everywhere All at Once!”

The Queen of the Multiverse has entered the castle, and she has officially risen to the throne! Similar to what was said about the Daniels being the supposed sole individuals who could have told the story of “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” it is possible that Michelle Yeoh is the only woman on this planet who could have played Evelyn. As this movie suggests, there are multiple ways one could describe Evelyn, but Michelle Yeoh owns each definition like no one else can. When it comes to the complicated nature of Yeoh’s performance, describing how much she had on her plate would be like discussing the idea of the space time continuum. Her performance has the strength of some of the other nominees, but the difference between Yeoh and everybody else is that when the movie gets to a certain point, she is playing somebody else every other minute. And yet, it is the same character. Yeoh was arguably given the toughest role of any movie to have come out this year, and she handles it like a champion. She had to be a lot of things at once. A laundromat owner. A movie star. An opera singer. A hot dog-fingered romantic. A kung fu master. A chef. Let me just remind you, all due respect to Ralph Fiennes, who deserved his Best Actor nomination, he played a chef in “The Menu!” Was he a laundromat owner? Was he a movie star? No! And it would be one thing if Yeoh had to play all these roles at a time and did so to pleasing results. To call the results pleasing would be an understatement. To see the results, click the video below to see Michelle Yeoh’s performance in “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

It is time for the second of the Lifetime Achievement Awards, the Stan Lee award. Similar to the Roger Deakins Award, we will be honoring someone who has had a major significance throughout the history of cinema. But for this Lifetime Achievement, we will be honoring someone who is no longer with us. This year’s recipient of the Roger Deakins Award has been a major influence on movies, most notably in the science fiction genre. Having worked on iconic titles through several decades, this individual’s touch shall not go unnoticed. Born on April 8, 1942, this man would go on to work in visual effects, with his first credit being “To the Moon and Beyond.” A 1964 project about the universe, which was shown at the New York World’s Fair. This recipient was not the first one of his family to work in visual effects. His father, Donald, a man whom he would work alongside during projects like “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” was an uncredited special effects rigger on “The Wizard of Oz,” which released three years before the recipient’s birth. In addition to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” he would also work on the special effects for sci-fi staples like “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Blade Runner.” His final VFX credit was for a 2018 movie starring Sam Elliott, and it is arguably the most epic sounding title of his career. The title, for those who want to know, is “The Man Who Killed Hitler and then Bigfoot.” He also served as an executive producer for the film. In addition to effects, he was also a director for films like “Brainstorm,” which is about the development of a system where people can jump into others’ minds. He also directed “Silent Running,” which is the story of an astronaut who is forced to destroy the last of earth’s plant life. For the latter, he was also responsible for handling special photographic effects. Not only did he handle various shorts and features, he also dove into the realm of theme parks, as he was the director of the video for “Back to the Future: The Ride,” which operated at Universal Studios Florida and Universal Studios Hollywood from the early 1990s until 2007. It also had a run at Universal Studios Japan from 2001 to 2016. I am happy to announce the winner for this year’s Stan Lee Award is the talented and influential Douglas Trumbull.

Douglas Trumbull speaking during a post screening Q and A of “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968) during the 2010 TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, California. 4/23/10 ph: John Nowak

Douglas Trumbull, throughout his lifetime, has been responsible for the creation and expansion of several properties. His legacy lives on today as one of the greatest minds behind visual effects. And while some of his projects are in the science fiction genre, Douglas Trumbull has helped the genre feel as real as possible. May he rest in peace.

Our final Best Picture is a throwback to the middle of the 20th century. It is also a semi-autobiographical glance at the coming of age of one of the most iconic filmmakers in all of history. Starring Gabriel LaBelle as Sammy Fabelman, his love for the art of film knows no bounds. Through his growing up, he uses it to tell stories of his own and embrace life as he navigates through one situation after the next. This story shows what movies can do. They can show the best in us, they can hypnotize us. Sometimes, they can affect us so deeply, either for better or worse. Joined by Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, and Judd Hirsch, the film is not short on talent. Speaking of talent, at the helm for this project is Steven Spielberg. Safe to say, he has made his latest masterpiece. Nominated for 5 Jack Awards, this is “The Fabelmans.”

Ladies and gentlemen, it is time for the final category. Best Picture. For those who do not know how Best Picture works, the ten films chosen for this year’s show are based on my top 10 BEST movies of 2022 countdown. Since that was posted, I have not seen a movie from the past year that surpassed those movies, so the list still stands. But I am not choosing Best Picture. Because people like you already did. I sent out a survey with the ten nominees and let people vote online for which movie they think should win. The tallies are in, and we have a winner. Ten movies have entered the arena. One movie leaves triumphant. While awards shows may not be gladiator fights, for those who are nominated, it is always an event to see which one is deemed the finest, the most cinematic of all. Here are the nominees for Best Picture.

BEST PICTURE

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

And just a reminder, if “Everything Everywhere All at Once” wins, it sets the record as the winningest film in the history of the Jack Awards.

Now, with that in mind, the Best Picture of 2022 is…

“Everything Everywhere All at Once!”

This is the 16th nomination and seventh win for “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” Its previous wins include Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress for Stephanie Hsu, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Director, and Best Actress. The film was also nominated for Best Visual Effects, another Best Supporting Actress achievement for Jamie Lee Curtis, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Makeup & Hairstyling, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Song. This is the first A24 production to win Best Picture.

EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE, ALL AT ONCE, has led to this moment. This truly is the little movie that could. Between “Pearl,” “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On,” and this movie, A24 had one heck of a year, and now, they have been recognized as the favorite studio going into today’s show, and they still are as it concludes. This is the studio’s highest-grossing film yet, and it is easy to see why it continues to rack up the cash. They say original filmmaking is dead. I beg to differ. I will point out some of the things this movie has. Hot dog fingers… Rocks with googly eyes… Pinky finger kung fu… Giant, fearsome everything bagels… I have often been guilty of complaining that original cinema is not here. It has been awhile since we have had it, and it is never going to come again. I will admit, I say that sometimes, even if I am occasionally proven wrong. Ladies and gentlemen, if you want originality, look no further!

And within this vast, fresh conglomeration of ideas thrown at the wall, is an end result that sticks like glue. And this all would not have come to be if it were not for the brilliant, crazy minds of Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, who wrote, directed, and produced what can only be called the greatest multiverse-based story ever brought to the screen. Because in addition to all of the topsy turvy action and bold ideas, are familiar emotions executed to their full potential.

Evelyn is one of the most palatable and relatable protagonists of any movie released this year. While not many of us can say we went into a universe where we realized the version of us in that universe was a star, we all aspired to be something like that. Evelyn is the kind of person who will drift off from her own life, hoping for something different, but never finds a way to achieve that something. Michelle Yeoh, who I will remind you, was honored with a Jack today, plays Evelyn to a T. And joining her are Jack winners Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, in addition to Jack nominee Jamie Lee Curtis. Everyone in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is perfectly cast, whether it is another day at the office, or a comeback story.

The whole film feels like it was made by people who did not have a rulebook in front of them. They had blank pages and they scribbled their own guidelines. Again, yes, it is a one of a kind story brought to life in an unimaginable sense. But when you consider how much had to be done in terms of depth, universes, editing, in such a quick pace, this comes off as one of the most ambitious films on the smaller budget end. It is not tiny, but it is not a blockbuster either. The film was nominated for Best Visual Effects, let me remind you, the team behind the visual effects barely knew anything about the craft. And yet it has led to an endlessly eye-popping and jaw-dropping movie.

I am honored to present my favorite movie of the year with this award for the first time in this show’s history. Every other time, it has either been my #2, #3, or something lower. Not this year! “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is my favorite movie of 2022, it has been for the longest time and has never been topped. This is the seventh win of the show for “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” meaning that it is now the winningest picture in Jacks history. Congratulations Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert, and Jonathan Wang! Congratulations to the cast and crew! Congratulations to A24! “Everything Everywhere All at Once” has won best picture, and I can truly say that THIS is a life!

That is all for this year’s Jack Awards! I want to thank everyone who read this post from start to finish! I want to thank those who clicked on this by accident and found themselves going down a rabbit hole! I want to thank the individuals who scrolled down to the end to see which movie would win Best Picture! I want to thank everyone who voted in this year’s Best Picture contest! I can only hope to do this again next year! I always enjoy doing these shows, and yes, if another show happens next year, the Jack Awards name is sticking. It works! Congratulations to all the winners and nominees, and a massive thank you to everyone who made a movie last year. Your efforts to entertain, inform, and keep minds at ease shall not go unnoticed! If you want to see more from Scene Before, follow the blog with an email or WordPress account, and check out the Facebook page! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 5th Annual Jack Awards (NOMINATIONS)

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

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

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

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE 

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

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS 

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

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR 

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

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS 

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

BEST SOUND EDITING 

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

BEST SOUND MIXING 

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

BEST COSTUME DESIGN 

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

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN 

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

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE 

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

BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING 

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

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY 

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

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY 

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

BEST FILM EDITING 

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

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY 

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

BEST ORIGINAL SONG 

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

BEST DIRECTOR 

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

BEST ACTOR 

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

BEST ACTRESS 

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

BEST PICTURE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Specifically, about how tiringly dull it is.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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