Free Guy (2021): Grand Theft Awesome

“Free Guy” is directed by Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum, Real Steel) and stars Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, The Proposal), Jodie Comer (Killing Eve, The White Princess), Lil Rel Howrey (Uncle Drew, The Carmichael Show), Utkarsh Ambudkar (The Mindy Project, The Muppets), Joe Keery (Stranger Things, Chicago Fire), and Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, Jojo Rabbit). This film is primarily set in Free City, a massive sandbox video game where players can control characters through a massive city and go on missions. Guy, an NPC (non-playable character), discovers the secrets of the game and breaks the rules of his own character. While he is typically a bank teller who often finds himself in the middle of a robbery, he gets bored of doing the same thing over and over again and decides to level up his life while also trying to win the girl of his dreams.

I love Ryan Reynolds. The word “movie star” does not have as big of an impact as it may have years ago with faces including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Will Smith dominating the big screen with their blockbuster titles. There are a few big “movie stars” that have risen to astronomical heights over the years including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and others who have maintained their fame for years including Tom Cruise. When it comes to the conversation of which actor is currently the biggest star in the world, Ryan Reynolds has to be in the conversation every single time. He is one of Canada’s finest exports and adds a flair to every movie he’s in. This even includes ones I don’t like such as “The Croods” or “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.”

The concept of “Free Guy” by itself, where a video game NPC increasingly gains a sense of consciousness and humanity, is already one that could be considered a recipe for greatness. But if you put Ryan Reynolds into the picture, you’ve taken a great movie and bumped up its power by five times. This is a film that had a bumpy road in terms of its marketing. In fact I think the best trailer we got of the film was in 2019 when it made fun of Disney for putting out its animated titles in live-action form. I thought it was genius because it sounded like humor that would associate with Ryan Reynolds, especially considering how he has dominated the meta humor concept with a film like “Deadpool” and its sequel. The trailers after weren’t bad, but they did not live up to the original for me. Although there was a great piece of marketing that had Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool sitting next to Korg (Taika Waititi) doing what could only be a parody of a YouTube trailer reaction video. I was excited for this film despite the mixed road to get to the official release. And I say that even without acknowledging the ongoing pandemic, not that it should be forgotten.

What did I think of “Free Guy?”

Simply put, I had a lot of fun with “Free Guy.” When it comes to movies set in a video game universe, I think “Ready Player One,” which “Free Guy” reminded me of at times and is coincidentally also written by Zak Penn, is a slightly better film. But “Free Guy” takes a cool concept and gives it a smooth execution in the end. And I should not be surprised that this film is as good as it is. Because director Shawn Levy, whose recent projects include Paramount’s “Arrival” and Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” is a master at creating a film for everyone. One of my favorite films from my childhood is “Night at the Museum.” It is a film that does not exactly feel like it is being targeted at kids, but when it comes to both titles, many children could watch the film, understand much of what is going on, and appreciate everything in front of them. At the same time, adults could watch this film and have a great time with it. The first two films in that particular franchise have been a cornerstone of movie nights in my family. To see Levy do a movie like this does not surprise me, and if anything else, it pleases me.

For starters, it is an original idea, which in terms of blockbusters, feel very few and far between. In fact, this is technically the first Disney original live action film in years (technically because 20th Century Fox made it). I just love seeing creative, never before seen ideas come to life and “Free Guy” is a fine example of that.

Also, if the last couple decades have proven anything, people love video games, including me. Much of my childhood has been spent pushing the buttons on my Nintendo devices, so the idea of this film has a special place in my heart. I find it fascinating that this movie chooses to focus on someone who could be anyone and have them evolve. We look nowadays at video game NPCs as tools to let the player do their thing. But to have what is technically a tool sprout into something more is flat out fascinating. Yeah, it kind of feels like that cliche idea that “anyone’s special,” which as Dash from “The Incredibles,” would suggest, “which is another way of saying no one is.” It’s a cliche idea, but it is brought to life through something incredibly creative in addition to Ryan Reynolds’s terrific encapsulation of Guy.

One thing I’ve always noticed while I play a video game is that when you go by NPCs, they’ll often spew the same things out of their mouth over and over. A big part of that is because they’re portrayed by a certain actor, and actors will record a limited number of lines for a certain character, therefore they can only do so much. Therefore, NPCs are usually one-dimensional, do not have much personality, and are often in the background. In the case of Guy, I think Ryan Reynolds did a good job at making the character not feel flat or putting him in a sphere that makes his personality limited. In fact, Reynolds brings a sense of hyperactivity to his character despite him having a life that most would consider boring. Guy is a banker who drinks the same cup of coffee every day and says good morning to his goldfish by his bedside. This is an everyday routine for him, but he seems to accept it because he’s programmed that way.

Now I like Taika Waititi, but I think “Free Guy” has only increased the chances of me wanting to get together with the dude for lunch. You know how a lot of films directed towards young audiences will have an over the top villain? Taika Waititi’s character of Antwan almost seems to find himself within the confines of that description. Not that this movie is specifically for children, but nevertheless. In a lot of cases, this could be a turnoff because then the film could become a live-action cartoon, but not in “Free Guy!” If anything, Waititi’s performance is an utter enhancement in this film. The mixture of his lines and hyped up antics arguably makes him the best character of the movie. It kind of reminds me of another film Shawn Levy directed, “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian,” because that film’s villain was Kahmunrah, and he was perhaps written and presented in such a way that could arguably make him cartoony, but it was presented in such a way where Levy and actor Hank Azaria seemed to embrace the silly that the script listed. As far as “Free Guy” is concerned, Taika Waititi plays a guy who might as well be jacked up on Red Bull all the time and does not seem to care much about others. As far as I’m concerned, I love the execution of this character, and I almost wonder if part of why it worked so well was because of the casting. I cannot imagine anyone other than Waititi playing Antwan at this point.

Without spoilers, the climax of “Free Guy” is a thing of beauty. The film just goes straight into becoming “Garry’s Mod” of all things. There’s some stuff in this climax that I had almost zero warning about going into it, and I think if you want to have the same reaction, do everything you can to avoid any online discussion about the end of the film. It is in a word, “epic.”

If I had any problems with “Free Guy” it would be that the film does get into some impractical nonsense by the end that comes off more or less as a plot convenience more than anything else. It is not a humungous turnoff as the rest of the film is nicely structured but there’s one moment towards the end that feels jumbled in terms of execution, and it’s a pretty important one. Maybe in the script, it sounds more coherent, but in the final product, it sounds kind of… pun intended, pixelated. It’s kind of sad considering the impact the moment was trying to deliver, but for some reason, they could not stick the landing.

This one moment does not take much away from the literal joy I achieved from watching “Free Guy.” “Free Guy” is a crazy, fun adventure. I love the setting, I love the idea, I love how it seems to have fun with our modern video game culture and how much of a cash cow it has become in addition to being heavy entertainment. I left this movie wanting more. I want to see more of Guy, Molotov Girl, Buddy, all the characters in this film were utter delights. I legit think that this is a movie that anyone could watch and enjoy. I sometimes go to see movies with my mom, and most of the movies I see with her are ones that usually are not action heavy or horror heavy. Despite the action heaviness of “Free Guy,” I legit think that this is a movie that my mother could put on and have a ball with despite some things being there that she may not usually tend to see on screen. If you like action, you’ll definitely like this movie, but the crew behind “Free Guy,” whether they intended to or not, did a really good job at creating something that a lot of people could find themselves attached to, even if it wasn’t specifically made for them. In that sort of way, I highly recommend “Free Guy” to anyone reading this and their friends.

In the end, “Free Guy” may solidify Ryan Reynolds as one of the finest Canadians to ever live and the film itself is easily one of my favorites of the year. Disney did not release this film on streaming. Granted, I do not know if they could have contractually, 20th Century Fox movies still go straight to HBO months after release. But from everything I’ve read, Disney practically had all the faith in the world given towards this movie. Based on what has been created, “Free Guy” has massive franchise potential. Heck, I could see this thing becoming a Disney ride at some point. The film is immersive, fun, bonkers, and just a straight up good time. “Free Guy” by the way is set in two different places. The real world and the game of “Free City.” to my surprise, the stuff that happens in the real world has the same level of intrigue as everything that happens in the world of “Free City.” To have the escape be as interesting as the world from which people are trying to escape is definitely pleasing. I’m going to give “Free Guy” an 8/10.

Also, if you need another reason to see this movie, you’ll get to see Alex Trebek one last time. Seeing him on screen brought a smile to my face and I am sure it will for many other viewers as well.

“Free Guy” is now playing exclusively in theaters and IMAX. Get your tickets now!

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that on Monday, August 23rd, I will be sharing my thoughts on “Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation.” The film is not as often talked about as the original, partially because it was made for television. But I am here to talk about it as we dive deeper into my ongoing review series, “Revenge of the Nerds: Nerds in Review” as we celebrate Scene Before’s fifth anniversary. And speaking of reviews, be sure to stay tuned for my review of “Don’t Breathe 2.” I just saw the film last night and I intend to talk about it soon. If you want to read all this and more on Scene Before, be sure to follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Free Guy?” What did you think about it? Or, if you could put yourself in the universe of any video game, which one would it be? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise (1987): Geek, Out

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Welcome to the second part of the ongoing Scene Before review series, “Revenge of the Nerds: Nerds in Review!” In honor of Scene Before’s fifth anniversary, we are looking back at a few notable movies that I have not had a chance to talk about, and the “Revenge of the Nerds” franchise has been one of those properties that I would try to find an excuse to talk about because in a way it’s been a part of my life. With that being said, it is time to talk about the franchise’s second installment and most recent theatrical release, “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise!” Will this movie deliver paradise? Let’s find out!

“Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise” is directed by Joe Roth (Streets of Gold) and stars Robert Carradine (The Cowboys, The Big Red One) and Anthony Edwards (Top Gun, Fast Times at Ridgemont High) in the sequel to the 1984 sex comedy “Revenge of the Nerds” and follows the Lambda Lambda Lambda fraternity, who as seen in the first movie, gave a voice to outsiders against cool kids and jocks. In this film, they fly down to Fort Lauderdale, Florida for a national fraternity convention. All seems well until they are kicked out of their hotel, reunite with the Alpha Betas, and have to prove that they have a place in the convention.

The first “Revenge of the Nerds” is special to me, because as a nerd myself, as someone who has often found himself as an outsider in a number of situations, I related to the characters and I feel as if it is one of those films that made people like me cool. Sure, there’s that one scene with Robert Carradine and Julia Montgomery having sex that is a little controversial, but at the same time, there are a lot of positives when it comes to the film, and it inspired one of my favorite shows, “King of the Nerds,” a reality competition that lasted for three seasons on TBS. Simply put, if that first film did not exist, my life would be a lot different today in terms of my social circles and who I hang out with, so regardless of the first film’s quality, I owe a lot to that film for giving me the life I have today.

I really enjoyed this first film, which seemed to have a formula that was pleasing for what it was. So naturally a sequel had to be good, right?

Well…

Let’s start with the good. The film does genuinely have its moments. There are a couple funny lines here and there, especially from Booger. After all, as I mentioned in my previous review, Booger was one of the highlights of the first film because despite residing with the Tri-Lambs, he definitely had an aura of coolness to him. In this film, he’s perverted, crazy, and hyper. Not every line from him lands, but Curtis Armstrong gives one of the better performances in the film and he goes all the way with his character. Although at the same time, I was not a massive fan of the film’s subplot where apparently Booger spends some time with an older, more wrinkly version of himself named Snotty.

As for other positives, the song that plays as the nerds head to their hotel, 38 Special’s “Back to Paradise,” is a fitting song for the film in addition to being a genuinely catchy tune. I still have glimmers of the song in my head after watching this film. In fact, prior to my most recent viewing which I did specifically to have enough to talk about in this review, I would occasionally have this song pop into my head despite not watching the film since 2017. The film’s cast of characters is genuinely likable all around. Unfortunately, that’s where the positives end.

This film is a genuinely forgettable, underwhelming, and disappointing time that comes off more as a chance to capitalize on the “Revenge of the Nerds” name as opposed actually providing a quality product. The first “Revenge of the Nerds” film is a raunchy, naughty, R-rated sex comedy with adult aspects such as nudity, intercourse (even though it is implied), and a fair share of foul language. PG-13 was barely a concept in 1984. In fact it was first introduced the same month “Revenge of the Nerds” came out. But I feel like within the multi-year stretch that it took to get “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise,” there must have been a serious intention from someone to focus on getting as many extra dollars as possible by having a rating that would make teens more likely to come in. With a PG-13 rating, whether it may have been intentional or not, this means there is significantly less of the “fun” material that made the 1984 sex comedy what it is. The film is not Shakespeare, but it knows what it is. It’s over the top, it’s crazy, and inappropriate for children.

As of writing this, “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise” has a 7% on Rotten Tomatoes. And rightfully so. This film provides nowhere near the level of satisfaction that the first one can provide. I feel like some of the film’s plot points were forced just to move things along. There’s a whole thing where the manager of a hotel did not want the nerds staying there simply because they were nerds. I know that was a reason why the jocks had a rivalry in the first film, but the way they go about this just felt tacked on and unrealistic. In fact, speaking of unrealistic, there is a scene in this film where the nerds run into Ogre, a jock who also made an appearance in the first movie. Now I get that they are on opposite sides, but the way the nerds react in this exact moment felt like something out of a Disney channel original Halloween movie. I guess the scene could be worse, but it felt weird nevertheless.

I will also add that Anthony Edwards’s character of Gilbert, who was one of the two main guys in the first film, barely made an appearance in this sequel. Now, he is in it. But he cannot go to Fort Lauderdale because he’s got broken bones. It’s a weird change of pace seeing one of the characters who was arguably a large part of the original film’s heart and soul alongside Robert Carradine’s Lewis have a role as small as the one he has. In fact part of why we barely see Gilbert at all is because Anthony Edwards was not a fan of the script, and then they ended up writing a shorter role for him. It ended up resembling something he could film very quickly.

And he’s not alone, because Julia Montgomery, who played Betty Childs in the first film is also not in this one. The only time we see her is through a picture taken of her during the first few minutes when Lewis is packing for his trip. Much like Edwards, Montgomery was not a fan of the script either, therefore her character was written out entirely. The script had Childs, who by the end of the original film, was in love with Lewis, cheating on him with another guy. I actually would have been curious to see where this plot goes. Whether such a motivation actually falls in line with her character is a mystery, but given how Lewis is spending much of this movie trying to impress a woman in Florida, it would have been fascinating to see Lewis and Betty, two lovers, cheat on each other, how they would go about their separate situations, and if these situations were ever revealed to one another. Noting this, as much as I like Robert Carradine as an actor, and even though I can relate to Lewis in ways, these past two movies have select moments that kind of make him look like an asshole. In the first film, to get with Betty, he rapes her, technically speaking. As for this sequel, he decides to cheat on her, even though it is never embellished too much, while on his trip.

The way that “Revenge of the Nerds” seems to have progressed in just a couple of movies kind of feels like the “Fast & Furious” or “Kingsman” franchise. Why? Because earlier in these franchises, as I watched them, I enjoyed those movies for being a bit crazy, even when it causes me to suspend my disbelief. But as we get into this sequel, which by the end, dials its bonkers nature up to an 11, my suspension of disbelief could only go so high and this affected how much I could enjoy this film by the end of it. If you guys remember my review for “F9: The Fast Saga,” one of the big reasons why I gave that film such a low score is because of how over the top it gets, and I do not mean that in a good way. “Revenge of the Nerds II” kind of falls in the same boat. While the first film has its moments where things happen there that are less likely to happen in reality, this sequel goes bigger and ultimately becomes a tad dumber. And it’s really weird to say that because again, this is a PG-13 movie, which technically speaking, neuters the “Revenge of the Nerds” name.

The other negative I will bring to the table is this. I feel like this movie expects the viewer to watch the first movie and get attached to the characters from said movie, and therefore use that attachment to have them enjoy the second movie. Having watched “Revenge of the Nerds II,” I feel like we do not get to see the nerds be themselves. Sure, the point of these movies is kind of to suggest that nerds can do things that do not always involve staying in front of a computer. Sometimes they can party, sometimes they can be brave. But going back to what I said about certain plot points in this film feeling forced, one of my critiques of the film is that the nerds’ opposition with the manager at their hotel feels like it barely has a reason to exist. The opposition between these two feels surface level if anything, and I’ll also add, despite this movie being a “Revenge of the Nerds” installment, I feel like the “nerd” portion of a lot of these characters have disappeared for the most part. The movie places them in a nerdy box just because it can. I bought into the rivalry between the jocks and nerds in the first film, even when the jocks did things to flat out ruin the nerds’ time in college just based on their status partially because the jocks felt natural as characters and also because of John Goodman’s insanely iconic performance as Coach Harris as he gave some orders to the jocks.

If I had to give a positive note, I would say that this movie feels consistent with the first one in a way, because I said the first film felt like a parody on how society treats minorities. And when you consider ideas like the rivalry between the nerds and the hotel manager, there is a slight sense of consistency between movies. I just wish I were able to buy into whatever this movie’s selling me a little bit more.

In the end, “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise” is an inferior sequel to the 1984 cult classic. If anything the film fails to understand what made the first movie so special. “Revenge of the Nerds II” sometimes feels rushed, like we’re just skimming through random plot points just to get somewhere else, and nothing more than an obvious cash grab. Yes, the film does feel a bit similar to the original, especially with the nerds trying to party, find girls, get laid, that sort of thing, but it does not have that same exact raunchiness that the original tried to deliver. And if anything, part of me cannot blame the actors. They were given a crappy script that some cast members refused in a way or another. Anthony Edwards was barely in the movie. Julia Montgomery was not in the movie at all. In fact, according to Curtis Armstrong, the man who plays Booger, 20th Century Fox did everything they could, almost in a way that imitates the rivalry between the jocks and nerds in the film, to hide the first “Revenge of the Nerds” when it came out. But it was a huge success. So what about this sequel, you might ask? How did it come about? Well, here’s a quote from Curtis Armstrong’s memoir, “Revenge of the Nerd.”

“Despite everything, by the time we finished filming that spring we’d felt like we’d accomplished something. But 20th Century Fox, now under a new regime far less accommodating to movies like Revenge of the Nerds, begged to disagree and did everything it could to bury the picture. Ultimately, it became a case of life imitating art, as the jocks at the studio tried to destroy the little underdog nerd movie and failed completely. It made money. Quite a lot of money. They instituted a studio-wide embargo against any sequels at 20th Century Fox, which was lifted under a different administration three years later. The first sequel to be green-lighted at that point was Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise.” –Curtis Armstrong, “Revenge of the Nerd,” pg. 183

As much as I am happy that the first movie was a huge success, the final result of “Revenge of the Nerds II” goes to show that not all sequels can work through name recognition alone. Then again, what do I know? The film ended up making over $30 million on a $10 million budget. I’m glad people are getting paid. People have to eat. I just wish we got a better movie. I’m going to give “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise” a 4/10.

“Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise” is available wherever you buy movies digitally including Apple TV, Vudu, and Google Play. The film is also currently available to watch on Cinemax as of writing this. Physically, the film is available on DVD and VHS.

Thanks for reading this review! Next week I will be reviewing “Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation.” The franchise’s first straight to television feature. I have watched the film a few years back, but I am curious to see how it holds up as of today. This upcoming review, along with my current review, is being done in honor of Scene Before’s fifth anniversary, in a little series titled “Revenge of the Nerds: Nerds in Review.” I will also be reviewing “Free Guy” sometime this week, so stay tuned for that as well! If you want to see this and more on Scene Before, be sure to follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise?” What did you think about it? Or, have you ever been to Fort Lauderdale, Florida? Do you live there? Tell me about your time in the area! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Revenge of the Nerds (1984): This Tale of Losers is a Real Winner *SPOILERS*

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is time to talk about a movie that I have always wanted to touch upon, partially because I feel like when it comes to the people in my extended social circles, I feel like I am the only one who really has such an extended exposure to this film compared to everyone else. Well, maybe except people born before me. It is time to talk about the tale where the odd attempt to get even, the losers try to become winners. It is time to talk about the 1980s cult classic, “Revenge of the Nerds” in a brand new Scene Before review series titled “Revenge of the Nerds: Nerds in Review!”

“Revenge of the Nerds” is directed by Jeff Kanew (Ordinary People, Natural Enemies) and stars Robert Carradine (The Cowboys, The Big Red One), Anthony Edwards (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, It Takes Two), Ted McGinley (The Love Boat, Happy Days), and Bernie Casey (Never Say Never Again, Boxcar Bertha) in a film where Lewis (Carradine) and Gilbert (Edwards) head off to Adams College together in the hopes of pursuing an excellent education in addition to possibly meeting girls. Things do not go off to a great start as they, alongside other nerdy freshman are forced to live in the gym. When the jocks of the Alpha Beta fraternity keep getting on their tail in various ways, the nerds decide it is time to teach them a lesson.

I have wanted to talk about this film for a long time. Literally just saying that feels like a tremendous understatement. When it comes to comedy franchises, I am not going to call “Revenge of the Nerds” the masterpiece that every other franchise should try to be, but it is nevertheless one that I think shaped me more than others. As some of you know, I was a huge fan of the reality show “King of the Nerds” on TBS, which was partially inspired by this film. In fact, part of the reason why I went back to watch this film in the first place was because of my admiration for the reality show. I am not going to talk about the television show that much in this post, but I do want to talk about something that this film has in common with the television show. It takes the nerd demographic, in addition to one or two underrepresented groups, and makes an attempt at empowering them by the end. “King of the Nerds” did that gracefully when I watched it years ago. As for “Revenge of the Nerds,” I would say the same, but the more I watch it, the more I notice that someone could see it today and not find it as empowering.

Now, I am not going to call “Revenge of the Nerds” a film that should be taken seriously. It’s a maturely rated sex comedy for a reason. If anything, it’s really a combination of “Porky’s” and “Animal House,” at least in part, when you break down the concept. They were never making this movie for kids, and honestly, if I had kids, I’d wait until they reach somewhere in the double digit ages to show them this film. But even as an adult, there is a scene that I look at and think would not pass by the censors today in Hollywood. I’ll get to that later. But for now, let’s focus on characters.

We start off the film as we’re introduced to Lewis (right) and Gilbert (left). Two friends who become college roommates until they are suddenly kicked out of their dorm. Right off the bat I got a sense that these two were a likable pair. As we see them enter Adams College, they try to encourage each other to be the best they can and make it through a fun year of education and girls. I also really think they nailed the outfits for these two between the glasses, the pocket protectors, they fit the stereotype in the film’s title while also coming off as fun for the viewer.

One of the things I like about this film is the supporting cast of nerds, because they went out of their way to make everyone have their individualities and insert some slight diversity. They have their differences, but one thing they seem to have in common, perhaps like every guy on the face of the earth, they love sex. Well, almost everyone. Wormser’s not even in his teens. Going back to what I said about Lewis and Gilbert, I seriously think they nailed the look of all these characters.

Poindexter has some semi-decent looking outfits, he’s got big glasses, crazy hair. I love it. He’s also got this gag in the film where he’s constantly practicing the violin, which by the end of the film, it becomes a part of his arc in a satisfying way.

Moving onto Wormser, he is not even a teenager and yet here he is in college. Like a few of the other nerds, he’s got over the top glasses, and I love this kid from the moment he appears. Not only is he kind of cute, but looking back, he also reminds me of myself whenever I entered certain activities at a particular age. I had a particular resistance sometimes as I was not the same age as some other people.

Lamar (center) is hyperactive, he’s got crazy outfits, and he spends some of the movie in front of the television watching exercise videos that I would assume are directed at women. In fact, he is homosexual, which in a way, kind of makes me respect him a bit for going through this film’s plot with many of the other guys given what they try to do.

I mean, I said before when this movie was going for diversity, I think they nailed it on the nerds part. Between having someone who was young, someone who is black and gay, in addition to a guy who is of Japanese descent with Takashi, who is wonderfully played by Brian Toshi (right), they nailed having a diverse group of characters. But I also cannot forget Curtis Armstrong’s iconic portrayal of Booger.

I’m not just saying this because I am a fan of the actor, but Armstrong nails the role of Dudley “Booger” Dawson. I think if anything, he was perfectly cast. It’s really weird to say that because well, this is a guy whose defining trait is poor hygiene and nose picking, but I mean this as a compliment because Armstrong, even though in real life, he is honestly nowhere near as revolting, aces the portrayal of an outcast who has some coolness within him to the point where maybe he’s also kind of a jerk. I would say as far as all the supporting nerds go, I think his character is probably the most sex-obsessed of the bunch. In fact, there’s a point where the nerds are hosting a party and Booger has the most resistance to the guests being invited as they are not the “party type” in his eyes. As fun as Booger can be, he also kind of has particular tastes and poor manners.

I also love this shirt that he’s wearing in the picture above. It suits the character well and goddamnit is it cool. Of all the nerds in the Lambda Lambda Lambda fraternity. I have a strong feeling that if you were a regular guy, Booger is the one you’d want to hang out with the most, at least on the surface that’s how things seem. As for how that hangout will go, we’ll find out.

When I referenced the diversity factor amongst the group of nerds, one thing that I immediately thought about afterwards was the lack of diversity within the opposing jocks of the film. The jocks in “Revenge of the Nerds” are represented by the Alpha Beta fraternity, which has members who are on the school’s football team, and the Pi Delta Pi Sorority. One of the members of said sorority, Betty Childs (Julia Montgomery) is dating Stan Gable (Ted McGinley), quarterback of the Adams Atoms and president of the Greek Council. Here’s the thing about the Alpha Betas and Pi Delta Pis. Every member of both groups that I saw in this film happened to be caucasian. I do not recall seeing a single person who was black, Asian, or anyone else of a particular descent. While the Lambda Lambda Lamdba fraternity still has a few white people in it, the casting department did a good job at making this group have a sense of diversity by having a few people appear different from others. You have your white people, you have someone who’s black and gay, you have a young kid, you have someone who is Japanese. If anything, this movie is almost a parody on white privilege and how minorities and others are trying to make themselves relevant in a society that is dominated by the whites. It is in the same way how Adams College, at least from the perspective of this film, has a student body dominated by jocks. I do think this film, on its surface, is something that stands out as a whimsical sex comedy. But much like I said about 2018’s “Blockers” when I reviewed that film, it has layers and fantastic characters with likable individualities that I did not expect going in.

Oh yeah, did I mention the music? This movie has pretty kick-ass music. Much of the score is that 1980s blocky tune that sounds like something you would hear out of an 8 bit video game. It fits the movie well. But there are a couple original songs that define the film and make it a musical treat. The opening song, simply titled “Revenge of the Nerds” is a banger that truly feels like it belongs in its decade. It’s also a pretty good anthem for the nerd community once they get out of high school, because as this movie suggests in the beginning, Lewis and Gilbert did not have the best time in high school but they are looking at college as a point to redeem themselves.

As a nerd myself, I respect this film. Not only because it is funny, charming, and by the end, a somewhat positive anthem for a community I consider myself to be a part of. But it was kind of one of those early pieces of media that made nerds cool. People talk about “The Big Bang Theory,” which is a great show by the way, and how it makes nerds cool. “Revenge of the Nerds” walked so “The Big Bang Theory” could run.

But just because I appreciate this movie to no end, does not mean it is not problematic.

One of the problems of the film that did not really stand out to me during early viewings, but it is one that I thought about during my most recent viewing, is that the first of the Greek Games happen to be arguably flawed. Now I know this movie is set in the 1980s, but I would love to know what state this film was set in. I know it’s the midwest. But where specifically? What are the drinking laws? That’s my question. Minor complaint, but it kind of stands for now. I can live with this.

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

However, the one big conflict of this movie for me is the scene during the charity fundraiser where we see Lewis go after Betty Childs at an attempt to have sex with her.

Just for context, the Alpha Betas set up a “kiss for charity booth.” After some time, Betty expresses to Stan that she’s getting horny from all the kissing and wants to do it. Stan does not follow Betty, allowing Lewis to get into Stan’s costume and find Betty waiting for him. The two do it on the moon, where Lewis remains masked. After intercourse, Lewis takes his mask off, shocking Betty. Now, after everything that happened in this movie, you’d probably expect Betty to slap Lewis and shove him aside. Nope! She accepts him because he is so great at sex! That’s a lesson for every generation! If you steal someone’s girl, the girl does not know the guy in front of her is not her own, and that guy is spectacular at f*cking, then hey! It’s okay! We can move on! In some cases, this would honestly be considered rape. While this certainly does fit the “revenge” theme of the film that has been implemented throughout the runtime, this may be too far. Now I do think Lewis and Betty have chemistry. But it does not change the fact that their love connection started with what could technically be defined as rape. There’s revenge, and then there’s being a maniac. Again, this is “Revenge of the Nerds,” which as mentioned before, I would put together in that same realm as “Porky’s” and “Animal House,” so I would not take the film as seriously as others. But this is still something to think about.

I love this movie. I really do. But every time I watch it now, part of me wonders if Lewis takes things too far. By the end of film, he and Betty are in love. Which, that’s great. I’m glad the two are in love, and they do have solid chemistry. Unfortunately though, it started with something that to this day would be unacceptable. One of the constants in this film is the excessive horniness of the guys. After all, they’re in college, there’s a bunch of girls, and I do not mind that side of them being explored. Lots of guys are this way, but the way they go about it with Lewis by the end of the film rubs me off the wrong way the more I think about it, even though the dialogue at the end of that moon scene is… Well, actually kind of well written. I’m not gonna lie.

Betty Childs: Are all nerds as good as you?

Lewis: Yes.

Betty Childs: How come?

Lewis: ‘Cause all jocks ever think about is sports, all we ever think about is sex.

Gotta admit, Robert Carradine gave a really convincing delivery on that line. I just wish it were in a less conflicting scene.

Despite this, I think “Revenge of the Nerds” stands as one of my favorite comedies. I’m not going to call it the pinnacle of all things funny. But a lot of the jokes hold up today, the film is well cast, and I almost forgot to mention John Goodman as Coach Harris, who is a BLOODY RIOT. He is ridiculously over the top, trying to empower his team, while also being on the opposing side of the nerds. The movie does a really good job at making this jock side look kind of hyperactively evil and Coach Harris is part of that. Have you ever seen a movie or show where the villain is in their quarters kind of frustrated with themselves or taking their anger out on other people due to a recent failure? There’s a great scene towards the end of the film where Harris is yelling at the jocks because of the nerds getting the upper-hand on them.

Oh yeah, and Ogre’s face is everything. “NEEEEEEERDS!”

In the end, “Revenge of the Nerds” is a great movie that probably would not be made today. Well I wouldn’t say that. Partially because Seth MacFarlane is supposedly working on a redo of the film at the moment, but also because I feel like the movie could be popular today with nerdy being cool. It will probably have a lot more pop culture influence in the script, maybe some gaming elements intact. But if they are going to try to make it as sex heavy as the original, I’d tell them to be careful because with the #MeToo movement having blossomed a few years back, if they made that original movie today, it would probably strike controversy. It would probably get some people thinking that nerds are not good people. Probably sex maniacs. But when the film ends with Lewis and Gilbert giving the speech about them being proud of their nerdy selves and the film’s rendition of Queen’s “We Are the Champions” started playing, it delivered a message of positivity. It gave people who did not often have a voice to speak up. This is not only for the nerds, but for people who are black, people who are gay, anyone who has ever been left out. This speaks to me and I love this message of inclusion. In the end, “Revenge of the Nerds” is a fun movie with a rocky road in terms of what it is trying to suggest to the viewer. But I would say give it a watch, see what you think, and given how it is a comedy, I should warn you, it is hilarious. I’m going to give “Revenge of the Nerds” a 7/10.

I said before that this is one of my favorite comedies. But is also an enigma. While the film itself comes as something that should not be taken too seriously. Part of me wonders what would happen if not younger viewers, let’s face it, seven year old kids should not be watching “Revenge of the Nerds,” but people of my generation and maybe a little younger put this on for the first time. While this movie is massively entertaining with some great layers and lovable characters, there’s that one big conflict in my head that sort of brings it down. I’ll still watch it again. In fact, in 2017 I got to meet most of the cast at Rhode Island Comic Con and they were all wonderful people. I literally have three autographs from Curtis Armstrong, the guy who plays Booger. This movie may be doing something right if I went to meet all those people. As Gilbert in the movie suggests, I’m a nerd, and I’m pretty proud of it.

“Revenge of the Nerds” is available on VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray. The film is not available anywhere to buy or rent digitally at the moment, but you can catch reruns of it on cable channels like IFC and AMC, and you can also watch it on AMC+.

Thanks for reading this review! Next Monday, August 16th, I will be reviewing “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise,” the much less liked sequel and the last film in the franchise to receive a theatrical release. Stay tuned for my thoughts! Also, be sure to check out my review for “The Suicide Squad” coming this week! I cannot wait to talk about this movie. And I bet some of you cannot wait to hear my thoughts on it. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, be sure to check out the official Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Revenge of the Nerds?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a movie that you saw that you love, but has that one thing about it that brings the score down for you? It could be something big, small, medium. As far as “Revenge of the Nerds” goes, the one thing that brought it down for me was pretty big. Just gonna say it. Leave your thoughts down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Return of the Jedi (1983): I See the Good

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is day 6 of 7 in 7 Days of Star Wars, and today we will be finishing the original trilogy reviews! We’ve already talked about 1977’s “Star Wars,” 1980’s “The Empire Strikes Back,” so by process of elimination, it only makes sense that today we talk about 1983’s “Return of the Jedi.” When it comes to “Star Wars,” my childhood was quite a weird one. Because regarding the original trilogy, I saw “The Empire Strikes Back” first, and I ended up watching “Return of the Jedi” before “A New Hope.” But then again, I was of single-digit ages and I did not care what order I watched these movies in as long as things moved on a screen. But as an adult, much like the other two films in the original trilogy, I should note that as I picked up certain things and opened my imagination a little more, my appreciation for “Return of the Jedi” only grew. We will dive into this during the review.

It is time for the penultimate entry to the epic Scene Before saga, a miniseries I’m calling… 7 DAYS OF STAR WARS!

“Return of the Jedi” is directed by Richard Marquand and stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, and Frank Oz. This film is the final installment in the original “Star Wars” trilogy. Taking place one year after the end of “The Empire Strikes Back,” our heroes journey to Jabba’s Palace to retrieve Han Solo, who has previously been frozen in carbonite. After a daring adventure, the rebels are tasked with destroying a second Death Star, this time set above the moon of Endor, where tiny, furry creatures known as Ewoks reside.

Okay… When it comes to the original trilogy, I was excited to talk about “A New Hope.” I was arguably even more excited to talk about “The Empire Strikes Back.” But after watching “Return of the Jedi,” I think I became absolutely freaking stoked to talk about what I saw. Much like quite a few other movies in this 7 Days of Star Wars series, I have watched this film countless times on physical media and television. So this should already tell you what I think of this movie.

I will be straight up with you. Regardless of what I think about “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back,” both of which are technically beautiful and marvelously written masterpieces, I’d say that “Return of the Jedi” had the biggest impact on me of the three original films. Some of my best memories of watching “Star Wars” as a kid harken back to some of my earliest viewings of “Return of the Jedi.” It is a film that I would stop every once in a while to watch when it is on TV too. To this day, I can say that like some of my favorite films, which I will not list for the sake of time, this is a film that gets better the more I watch it. But I will say, and this won’t affect my score, it is probably by far the worst of the “special editions” between Jedi Rocks, the odd-looking CGI creatures in Jabba’s Palace, and Darth Vader’s “no” scream towards the end of the film.

Let’s dive into the tone of the movie, but before we do, I want to point out to those who are not in the know, to me, “A New Hope” is a lighthearted space adventure. “The Empire Strikes Back” maintains a lot of elements that made “A New Hope” great but also dives into a route of depression to give itself a new flair. “Return of the Jedi,” is honestly somewhere in between. It has the lightheartedness and excitement of “A New Hope,” not to mention a Death Star, but also some darkness that you’d find in “The Empire Strikes Back.” We see our heroes’ journeys and where they have led to at this point. Many of the characters we have come to know in the previous films maintain their admirability and charisma here in this installment. In fact, remember how in the other two films in the trilogy, I mentioned Luke Skywalker was a whiner? Not anymore! He’s a Jedi Knight now, not to mention one of the most badass individuals in the galaxy. He’s got a green lightsaber, which probably helped sell more toys for a period of time. From the first scene he’s in, I have gotten the sense that I DO NOT want to f*ck with Skywalker. He just steps into Jabba’s Palace, walks up to a couple guards and chokes them. It is a truly bold sight for the eyes. “Return of the Jedi” easily has the most likable version of Luke because he is still a great pilot like he was in the previous two films, but now he has gone from occasional whiner to… sorry, I literally have no other definition that could be better… guardian of the galaxy.

Speaking of Jabba’s Palace and other similarities to “A New Hope,” we get to see early scenes in the film exclusively with R2-D2 and C-3PO, and the first sight we get of the iconic duo in the film is of them walking to Jabba’s Palace and seeing if they can get in. Much like “A New Hope,” this is a very well done, not to mention wonderfully placed scene because it lets the movie kick off in an intimate manner and it overall just builds up, getting bigger by the second. “Return of the Jedi” understands that we got to start small before we go big. Plus the droids themselves have amazing chemistry. They’re almost like two roommates who barely have anything in common but the things they do have in common, which is very little, perhaps makes them inseparable.

I also really like the Rancor fight. It felt like a strategy video game where Luke had to learn the tricks of the boss as he went along. It’s not like he was just able to find its weaknesses straight up and go for the kill. He had no choice but to open his eyes and his mind. It was rather exciting to watch. Only thing is, and I know this is somewhat intentional, the lighting in some clips of it is rather dark, I feel like turning up the light just a tad would have had me as a viewer look back and not feel lost in that underground space. Then again, that may have been the intention.

But speaking of brightness, let’s talk about the Sarlacc Pit scene. It is to this day, one of the most exciting and fun “Star Wars” scenes to date. First off, the music in it, unsurprisingly smashed by John Williams, is incredible from the slow build up to the glorious blow that brings us into the iconic “Star Wars” theme tune that you hear either in the crawl or the credits. It just screams “Star Wars” whenever I think about it. There’s a lot going on here between Luke trying to retrieve his lightsaber from R2, who is busy serving drinks, Leia being chained by Jabba’s side, and… Boba Fett? Wait, where’d he go? Oh, that’s right. Yeah, he comes and goes instantaneously. Well, kind of, depending on whether you’re watching “The Mandalorian,” which I do need to catch up on. But this is a fast-paced scene from gunslinging to saber-wielding to chain-honking. Lando is there too, and there is some action between him and Han. Everything building up to the final blow at the end led to a sense of satisfaction.

Let’s move onto Dagobah. Going back to what I said about this film getting better the more I watch it. I do not just mean it gets better despite its age. Although like the other two films in the original trilogy, I can declare “Return of the Jedi” is timeless. There is a quote that I picked up from Yoda during the film.

Now I am just gonna warn everyone, even though I did not get into heavy spoilers for “The Empire Strikes Back,” this quote does contain an important point from the film, and I’m sure it is one a lot of you know even if you missed out on the movie. So sorry in advance as this does dive into spoiler territory.

Luke: Master Yoda… is Darth Vader my father?

Yoda: [avoiding the subject] Rest I need. Yes. Rest.

Luke: Yoda, I must know. If you know, tell me.

Yoda: Your father he is.

[pause]

Yoda: Told you, did he?

Luke: Yes.

Yoda: Unexpected this is. And unfortunate.

Luke: Unfortunate that I know the truth?

Yoda: No! Unfortunate that you rushed to face him… that incomplete was your training. That… not ready for the burden were you.

Not only does this confirm the exciting twist from the previous film, but it goes a step further. In “The Empire Strikes Back,” you may remember that Luke was discouraged by Yoda from going into Cloud City to confront Vader. Luke went regardless of the advice, but he did promise that he would return, as he did in this very film. While I will agree that it is unfortunate to know that Luke’s father is a power-hungry half man half machine overlord who is capable of chopping off hands, Yoda just states that Luke rushed into action without thinking things through, even though Luke foresaw grave danger for his friends. Not only were his skills incomplete, but he had no idea what would lie ahead in regards to emotional attachment. I often look back at “The Empire Strikes Back” and I think of the scene where Yoda tells Luke to avoid going to Cloud City as a warning that Luke’s skills as a Jedi still need work, which they did. But little did I realize after all these years, Yoda, along with ghost Obi-Wan, was likely trying to protect Luke from losing control of his emotions. After all, they knew who Darth Vader was. They knew he was Luke’s father. Yoda took Luke under his wing and not only treated him like a student, but almost as if he was his own son. And like many parents, Yoda perhaps became slightly overprotective of Luke’s inner and outer thoughts.

I will also add, that last line from Yoda, where he notes Luke’s training was incomplete, this feels like the “Star Wars” way of saying, “I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed.” Luke, despite his seemingly on track instincts, had no idea what he was in for. That is the power of being an inexperienced Jedi who barely has any attachment to the force. Yes, Luke did screw up. But part of me also wants to think that even with the amount of doubt that could have been brought to the table, Yoda, or perhaps even ghost Obi-Wan had an inkling of faith in him.

Not long after we see plans for a second Death Star, our heroes go to the moon of Endor, where we get a FUN speeder chase between Luke and Leia who are trying to keep themselves from getting shot by Stormtroopers. There’s no music. No other sounds except for the speeders themselves. It feels like the extreme version of riding a bike in the woods. But of course, when I talk about Endor, I have to talk about the Ewoks.

I have seen people talk about the Ewoks and how they tend to be annoying. I even remember watching “Ride Along 2” of all movies and the characters were talking about “Star Wars” and one character said they enjoyed “Return of the Jedi” to which another pointed out how annoying Ewoks are. Here’s the thing. Unlike Jar Jar, the Ewoks actually come off as useful. Yes, they emit weird sounds every once in a while, but it’s a delightful kind of weird. They have their own army, they’ve become civilized in the woods, and the movie does a really good job at highlighting their sense of community. When it comes to the final battle at the end of the film, seeing them get creative with how they go about killing troopers is nearly goofy, but also kind of exciting. Plus, we do get to see them, along with the wookie Chewbacca in an AT-ST, which was pretty badass. But to me, this movie’s second half comes in three tiers. These tiers, starting with the lowest and going to highest, are “awesome,” “extraordinary,” and “perfect.”

The “awesome” tier goes to the Battle of Endor, where we get to see our heroes on the ground fighting troops with the Ewoks and destroying a base that has an effect on how the “extraordinary” tier task goes, which is destroying the Death Star.

If the space battle at the end of “A New Hope” was exciting, then the one in “Return of the Jedi” is SUPER exciting. I will admit, it does suffer from not having Luke in it because I admittedly have become much more attached to Luke compared to Lando, who is a great character, but not as involved in the franchise as Luke has become. Then again, Luke’s off doing something else which we’ll get to momentarily. This battle has a ton of ships on the light and dark sides. We get to see the Death Star blowing ships up. People are dying left and right. And what makes this even more interesting is that the outcome of this battle could not be realized unless the Battle of Endor likely ends up going in the heroes’ favor. But BY FAR the best part of the movie, is any scene between Luke, Vader, and the Emperor.

I want to avoid giving a ton of spoilers for this review. In fact I had a whole thing planned to talk about one particular problem I had with the film. It’s NOT A BIG ONE, it does not even affect the score that much, but it makes want to see another version of the film if you will. Let’s just say, if I have the time, I may end up doing a separate post on it. The thing I will say about it is that it is about death. But that is about it. Luke and Vader meet in Endor, they flock to the Death Star, where the Emperor introduces himself to Luke and looking back, this provided for some of my favorite close-up shots in the franchise.

I mean, look at the Emperor’s face!

And the Emperor, at least in this film, has such a way with words. It’s almost like he spent an extended period of time studying poetry.

The Emperor : You want this, don’t you? The hate is swelling in you now. Take your Jedi weapon. Use it. I am unarmed. Strike me down with it. Give in to your anger. With each passing moment you make yourself more my servant.

Luke : No.

The Emperor : It is unavoidable. It is your destiny. You, like your father, are now *mine*.

I cannot think of a time in this franchise, maybe with the exception of Palpatine perhaps doing the same wordplay thing to Anakin and maybe Count Dooku getting into that same character’s head, where words have been used so effectively as a weapon. Plus that voice… It’s so grizzly and old. IT IS PERFECT. This is quite literally, the “perfect” tier. And this is in addition to the badass lightsaber stuff that goes down at the end, which I really don’t want to talk about because even though “Return of the Jedi” has been around for 38 years, it’s kind of like “The Empire Strikes Back.” The less newcomers know, the better. I’ll just say this, I often talk about in the prequels how one of the better things about those movies is the choreography in the lightsaber fights. That is true. That is clear. But in “Return of the Jedi,” there feels like there is a reason to occasionally have a lack of choreography. It shows more of the emotion between characters. The final lightsaber duel of the movie feels rough. It feels tough. But the strokes that come out from one specific individual just feel like they are coming through because of pent up emotion. This is, well… perfect.

I want to talk about the thing that happens afterwards, I really do. But it involves heavy spoilers. If you have never seen “Return of the Jedi,” PLEASE watch it. If you want to avoid spoilers… Skip this next paragraph. Go to the part that IS NOT italicized like so.

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My favorite part of the film comes around the time Luke slices off Vader’s hand. BAM! Hammurabi Code! Almost like payback for the last movie! This may have been part of why the original title for this film was “Revenge of the Jedi,” until it was changed at the last minute. But the Emperor tries to convince Luke to join the Dark Side, to which he just denies the request after looking at Vader on the ground. At this point, the Emperor’s a little pissed and disappointed, he casts out his hands and unleashes force lightning, which has been used in the prequels by multiple characters, but “Return of the Jedi,” in terms of release, was the movie introduction to the force lightning concept. He continues his wordsmith tendencies, and he just goes all out on Luke. The hero is screaming for his life, he’s going to Vader asking for help. But no dice.

“Now young Skywalker, you will die.”

We have a brief beat, but the Emperor ain’t done yet because he momentarily unveils more lightning and Luke is just screaming and spasming. He has never been in so much rapid physical pain in his entire life. But the other great part about this is that the camera is getting shots of Vader and we can tell based on the directions he turns his head, he’s almost conflicted. But he decides to do the right thing and lifts the Emperor from the ground and throws him down the shaft. The Emperor perhaps lets out the most epic death scream in film history, and he is just TOAST. Why did “The Rise of Skywalker” bring him back from this? Who knows? But it is not over. Because Luke and Vader reunite, just experiencing whatever sense of relief they need to. Unfortunately for Vader, the journey does not end well for him.

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People often argue that the later additions to the sequel trilogy, specifically “The Last Jedi” and “The Rise of Skywalker,” feel like nothing more than pieces of course correction. They take what was previously shown in the last movie and try to divert from it to a degree hopefully going in a competent direction, perhaps one that the primary filmmaker or producer prefers, that will not end up being a slap in the face (hopefully). While there are definitely many ideas that felt like they could have been sprinkled in later into production, “Return of the Jedi” is the end of a trilogy that feels perfectly planned and realized from start to finish. The original “Star Wars” trilogy is up there to me with “Lord of the Rings” and “Toy Story” as one of the greatest trilogies of all time. And at the same time, there may have been some course correcting here. This movie feels a lot lighter than “The Empire Strikes Back,” especially with the Ewoks in the mix. So part of me wondered if Lucas wanted to win some fans back by making the series “fun” again. He even brought back the Death Star concept, which despite being in “A New Hope,” did not feel entirely repetitive. And ultimately, the darkness of “The Empire Strikes Back” still exists here in some places, but the mix between the light and dark tones oddly enough never felt out of place or disorienting. They’re two tones that combine together to form something special, whereas “The Phantom Menace” had a plethora of tones to combine together to form something… well, it’s special alright. What an ending. Well, kind of. Before the prequels and the sequels, but my gosh this movie is a work of art!

In the end, I often have trouble deciding which of the original “Star Wars” movies is my favorite. Is it “A New Hope?” “The Empire Strikes Back?” Or is it “Return of the Jedi?” They’re all great for different reasons. But of all of the movies, I’d say “Return of the Jedi” had the best climax and conclusion, which really says something because this is something that the “Star Wars” franchise, even on its worst day, at least goes out of its way to make “fun.” Here, they just go balls out with it. Three different interweaving storylines that do not feel convoluted and I actually care about. Each one is about as thrilling as the last. From the heroes and Ewoks taking down troops on Endor to the Rebels and Empire duking it out in space to Vader and Luke dealing with their father and son issues in the Death Star. This film has the best interpretation of Luke. It comes with great chemistry amongst our heroes. And on top of that, the best lightsaber action of the original trilogy. LIGHTSABERS. ARE. AWESOME. You cannot convince me otherwise. With all this, and considering this film’s insane replay value over the years, I’m going to give “Return of the Jedi” a 10/10!

Would ya look at that? All three films in the original trilogy have earned a 10! These films truly are timeless. I will say once again, there is one particular “problem” with the film I wanted to discuss, but I won’t for the sake of spoilers. It won’t affect my score, but I may bring it up another time. Once again, it has to do with death. I do not know my fate regarding this topic, but if I am ever in the mood, I will discuss it.

Thanks for reading this review! Just a few days ago we have finished the prequel trilogy, and now we finished the original trilogy, which means it is time to move on to the SEQUEL trilogy! For the record, I have already reviewed “The Last Jedi” and “The Rise of Skywalker,” so we will not be talking about those films. By process of elimination, tomorrow I will have my review up for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens!” Disney’s first foray into the world of “Star Wars” movies and one of the most successful films of all time at the box office. What do I think of it? You’ll find out tomorrow in the FINAL installment of 7 Days of Star Wars! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account and also like the Facebook page so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Return of the Jedi?” What did you think about it? Also, two questions. First, what is your favorite movie in the “Star Wars” original trilogy? AND, what do you think is the greatest trilogy of all time? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

THE PHANTOM MENACE: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/23/star-wars-episode-i-the-phantom-menace-1999-worst-for-chronologically-first/

ATTACK OF THE CLONES: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/24/star-wars-episode-ii-attack-of-the-clones-2002-a-revisit-to-my-first-star-wars-movie/

REVENGE OF THE SITH: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/25/star-wars-episode-iii-revenge-of-the-sith-2005-my-favorite-star-wars-prequel-ever/

STAR WARS/A NEW HOPE: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/26/star-wars-1977-an-ageless-adventure/

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/27/the-empire-strikes-back-1980-i-love-you/

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

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

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

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

The Empire Strikes Back (1980): I Love You

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Today is day 5 of 7 in the epic Scene Before 7 Days of Star Wars saga! We have finished the prequels earlier this week, we just tackled the original “Star Wars” yesterday, but now it is time to move onto what some consider to be not just one of the best “Star Wars” movies to date, but one of the greatest sequels of all time. Of the original “Star Wars” films, this is actually the first one that I tuned into. I still remember renting the widescreen copy of the 2004 edition from Blockbuster Video. Man, I miss that place. I rented the film one or two more times, until I finally got the full screen 2006 edition that came with both the 2004 special edition of the film and a bonus disc that had a somewhat poorly mastered DVD transfer of the original film. While it was widescreen, allowing the viewer to see more picture, it was also grainy and would not adjust for an actual widescreen television. Although for this review, much like Episodes IV and VI, I decided to use the most up to date versions of the film through recent 4K Blu-ray transfers that have released in stores in 2020. Safe to say, this film looks gorgeous to this day, and of all the “Special Editions,” I’d say that this one is the least offensive, although that statement will likely not have much of an effect on my review.

We would be honored if you would join us, because it is time for a miniseries I’m calling… 7 DAYS OF “STAR WARS!”

“The Empire Strikes Back” is directed by Irwin Kershner and stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, and Frank Oz. This film is the sequel to 1977’s “Star Wars” and follows our heroes who have a base on the planet Hoth. But not for long, because the Empire takes its swift strokes on the rebels. Soon thereafter, Luke Skywalker journeys to Dagobah to learn the ways of the Jedi under the wing of Master Yoda. Meanwhile, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Leia, R2-D2, and C-3PO flee from the dark forces on the Millennium Falcon, but with an unfortunate hyperdrive problem.

Since 1977, “Star Wars” has become a part of many people’s lives. Similar to 1975’s “Jaws,” the film went on to become one of the biggest phenomenons of the decade. The turnout was enormous, the box office was immense, the force was with everyone. Characters like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo have been ingrained in many people’s minds for extended periods. While the film itself is a throwback to stories that may have come before and shares many of the traits of the ordinary “hero’s journey” rubric, it comes with a flavor that could have arguably been created by Willy Wonka. “Star Wars” has, as you may have noticed, become one of the most acclaimed and iconic films of all time. With a film that good, it is almost hard to imagine how they could have made a sequel that could have surpassed it.

…Well they did.

To know that such a feat could be pulled off is utter insanity. I mean, it’s been done in similar instances with other franchises. The first “Godfather” was critically acclaimed, but today there are many people who would argue the second one is as good, if not better than the original. The same can be said for “Toy Story.” The same can also be said for “Blade Runner.” Maybe even “The Terminator!” In the case of “The Empire Strikes Back,” the reasoning is simple. It maintains the fun of the original film despite being darker in tone, it builds on the characters we’ve come to know and love with impactful depth, and it subverts expectations, which feels weird considering how “The Last Jedi” tried doing that to rather poor results. Although speaking of “The Last Jedi,” I remember when that film came out and people started bringing up comparisons to “The Empire Strikes Back,” but not for a positive reason. When “The Last Jedi” came out, I would occasionally be online, maybe on YouTube or something and someone would say that “The Last Jedi” is a film that will get better with age. When it came out, it was incredibly divisive. The fans of the film were quite passionate, and so were the haters. But nevertheless, “The Last Jedi,” despite being well-reviewed, had a strong number of people who felt it ruined the “Star Wars” franchise to a degree. Back in 1980, “The Empire Strikes Back” received the same treatment. There were people who liked the film. But there were also others who expressed displeasure or disappointment with it mainly because of how dark and not so fun it happened to be.

Today, it is one of the most universally revered films in not just the sci-fi genre, but in all of movie history. It has one of the most talked about twists of all time. Despite being darker, I’d almost argue it not only knows how to crack a joke here and there, it is actually somehow funnier than the first one. And this feels weird to say, because when I’m looking back at lines I could bring up on the spot to make someone laugh, I do not usually think of “The Empire Strikes Back,” but that’s because the film does not try to go for humor. What it does is it takes lines that usually would not mean anything. The lines are not even that funny, but in the context of the film, they can get a laugh out of me for some reason. A line as simple as Han Solo’s “Never tell me the odds” is chuckle-worthy to say the least. Leia shouting “I am not a committee” feels like it could come out of only Carrie Fisher’s mouth with pristine delivery.

Speaking of characters, let’s talk about Luke Skywalker. I mentioned in my review for “A New Hope,” one forgivable concern for Luke is that he is kind of a whiner. In “The Empire Strikes Back,” the case is no different. But like in the previous film, Luke’s tendency to be a downer is also what makes him an interesting character. Because again, he is relatable. As humans, we all have a tendency to say we want do something, but we never end up actually doing “that something” and it is an idea that is always in the back of our minds. During Luke’s training with Yoda, we see glimmers of this as he lifts rocks and his X-Wing fighter that is stuck in the dirty water. There’s periods of refusal, self-denial, lack of confidence. It is a perfect encapsulation of a student/mentor relationship where the student feels like they are worthless and they cannot advance in their studies. In the last movie, we got see the pilot side of Luke, and that has been excellently built up throughout the film all the way to the end. In “The Empire Strikes Back,” we get to see more of the Jedi side of the character. And yes, we get to see parts of that in “A New Hope” too, but that is Luke simply learning how to use the force, he barely touches a lightsaber. Although it does help him in his piloting mission where he is tasked along with his rebel fleet to destroy the Death Star. But now that Obi-Wan is dead and likely just sitting back in the Jedi afterlife needing nobody’s company, he commands that Luke will go to Dagobah and learn the ways of the Jedi from Yoda. Oh yeah, and Yoda is awesome in this film.

Let me just say, I really like the prequel version of Yoda. But here is the thing about prequel Yoda, he is quite different than the original Yoda. Because in the prequels, Yoda is seen as one of the most powerful Jedi with one of the higher midichlorian counts and an enormous sense of wisdom. Also, screw midichlorian counts. In “The Empire Strikes Back,” we got to see that wisdom intact, but it does not take away from the fact that Yoda is one of the funniest characters in the original trilogy. Remember how in the prequel trilogy George Lucas tried to make Jar Jar Binks the big comic relief that stole every scene, which then turned out to be one of the most cringeworthy things in the entire franchise? Yeah, Yoda is ten times funnier because he is just a nut. He’s that interpretation of an old man who I hear is on his last legs but then I hear they are in “good spirits.” I always think of that as someone who is able to utilize a sense of humor while also showing signs of weakness. And this is yet another example of lines that really are not that funny, but in the context of “The Empire Strikes Back,” they can get me to laugh for some reason. And I think part of it is not just the lines themselves and how they are brilliantly delivered by Frank Oz, but maybe even Yoda’s laughter. It just proves that laughter is contagious and without any argument, the all-time best medicine.

But when I’m not busy laughing at Yoda’s antics, I am busy admiring Darth Vader’s fiendish will to rule the galaxy. In the previous film, we did get to know Vader as a character a little bit, especially considering how he was the main threat at the end. In this film however, we get to dive into his character and see another side of him aside from being just a big baddie. And he still is. He still force chokes his own allies, he still wields a red lightsaber. But in “The Empire Strikes Back,” there is more added to his story that makes him who he is, and it also affects other characters in the movie. For those of you who have not seen the movie, I will do my best to not say anything about a specific scene towards the end, even though it has been parodied and talked about millions of times, but if you don’t even have an inkling of how the end of “The Empire Strikes Back” goes down, just wait. It was brilliant back in the 1980s (maybe depending on what language you spoke) and it has aged like a fine wine since.

But also on the topic of the dark side, going onto a recurring category in these reviews, the score in this film, composed by John Williams, is bonkers good. In some cases, it might even be better than the original “Star Wars.” In addition to some themes that make a reappearance to a degree, “The Empire Strikes Back” adds exciting new music that can be heard as the Falcon flies through asteroids, as the heroes run around Cloud City, and as Luke tries to defend himself against a Wampa. But by far the most iconic original theme from “The Empire Strikes Back,” for good reason, and this is what I mean when it comes to talking about the dark side, is the Imperial March.

This music is literal perfection. You know how in times of war they have these propaganda songs to get people to join the military? You know, songs like “Over There” by Nora Bayes? The patriotic song that has been used since the 1910s during World War I? If the Empire wanted a way to convince me to join their fleet as a soldier or officer, this would perhaps be more effective than them saying “We have pizza, AND you get ten million bucks on the spot.” It is so… weirdly catchy. Again, I think part of it is because “Star Wars” is so ingrained in our culture whether we like it or not, but for some reason, this song goes to show the power of John Williams. The man knows how to do a killer track and as much as I see myself more in line with the values of the Jedi, this goes to reveal how fascinating the dark side is. If I ran a dictatorship where I had obnoxious power, which I do not see myself doing, I would use this as its theme music.

I think the best part of “The Empire Strikes Back” however is the fact that, and this maybe makes me a hypocrite, because we kind of see this in “The Last Jedi” too and that film was a disappointment, it’s that failure is a common result in this film. The title is as it suggests, the Empire strikes back with as much force as it can, putting the pressure on our heroes, and in the couple hours that everything goes down in the film, I manage to care about everyone on screen. I want to talk about some of these blunders, but the reality is that if I do, I’d be going into spoiler territory, and even though this is a 41-year-old film that has been celebrated by many people, I would doing a disservice if I did not let people who have not seen the film avoid going in blind. There is so much I want to talk about, everything from *bleep*, to *bleep*, all the way to the end where we *bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeep*. But I can’t. I’d be doing the newcomers a lack of a favor. I’d be ruining the experience for them. Yes, I talked about failure, but I don’t want to get into how much failure or the specific contents behind all of it. I want you, the people who have not seen “The Empire Strikes Back,” to finish reading this review, buy the movie in whatever way you can or watch it on TBS On Demand or Disney+ or something and experience what truly makes this film so extraordinary. The less you know, the better.

On another note, I just want to say that Lando Calrissian is a great addition to the franchise and he almost steals the show in every scene he is in. Whoever cast Billy Dee Williams as the character, well done. You deserve a pat on the back. Kind of like Han Solo, he has that rogueish, ladies-man vibe, but he also delivers it in his own way. I truly think he is one of the standouts of the movie.

One last thing before we go any further. Again, I want to be as secretive as possible, but the way this movie ends when we get to the final scene, it has one of the most unique feels not just in regard to how a “Star Wars” movie ends, but how any movie ends. Because the scene before the end is almost an adrenaline rush to the final second and at this point, just about every potential arc has developed. Without giving much context, we see our characters and the sense that I have at this point is satisfaction. Then after one particular incident is resolved, the music just swells up as we see the characters gaze out at a window and look at the galaxy that lies within. To me, this just says one word. Relief. We’ve had failure along the way, but the journey has paid off to where not just us as an audience, but our characters, get a moment to breathe. Yes, they have to live with their recent failure, but they finally get a break where they get to relax, unwind, and process what they just went through. In war, there is no rest. But this ending represents that relief which would come with taking a break every once in a while. So as a viewer, I feel satisfied, but I am also left longing for our characters to move on and see what they do next. The ending is bittersweet to say the least. It’s sad that the previous events happened, but it is heartwarming to know they have come to an end.

Remember when I reviewed the 1977 “Star Wars” and I talk about how “fun” it is, in addition to how often I feel like flocking to that universe in my imagination? Well, that has not changed. To me, this just goes to show the true genius of “The Empire Strikes Back.” It almost reminds me of, going to a more modern example, “Avengers: Infinity War,” because that is a film that like its predecessors, is fun from start to finish, but is full of emotionally charged moments that affect certain characters in less than positive ways. If the film still has glimmers of fun and imagination in it despite being depressing every other moment, that is not a good movie. It is an incredible movie.

In the end, “The Empire Strikes Back” strikes forth as one of the greatest sequels of all time. To me, this is a film that gets better with age, and how they answer certain questions in the next film probably solidifies that. The original “Star Wars” became a timeless classic through its likable predictability and familiar feel and story, but by offering a blend of that familiarity that audiences could easily fall in love with. “The Empire Strikes Back” on the other hand goes in for the kill and tries to warp your mind into something new even if has traces of familiarity as well. The film is subversive, exciting, and eye-popping. The effects still hold up to this day. The asteroid scene looks beautiful even in 2021. The duel towards the end with Luke and Vader offers some of the best shots in the franchise and an epic feel despite coming off as occasionally intimate. Again, it’s probably another reason why people look at “Star Wars” as if it were a western instead of a traditional science fiction or fantasy story all the time. “The Empire Strikes Back” is one of the greatest, most magnificently crafted pieces of art ever known to man and it is a film that is likely only going to continue to get better as years pass by. It is a film truly deserving of a 10/10.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for the final film in the original “Star Wars” trilogy and that is going to be for “Return of the Jedi.” Get ready for Ewoks, the Emperor, and Jabba the Hutt! That review will be up tomorrow, Friday, May 28th! And after that, I will be doing the final review in the 7 Days of Star Wars event, which will be for “The Force Awakens,” the first film in the sequel trilogy. If you want to see these upcoming reviews, follow Scene Before either with email or WordPress account, and if you’re on Facebook, like the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Empire Strikes Back?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite sequel ever? It doesn’t even have to be a movie. It can be a book. It can be a video game. Heck, it can even be Diet Coke! A worthy successor and slightly healthier edition of an iconic drink! Not sponsored, I promise. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

THE PHANTOM MENACE: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/23/star-wars-episode-i-the-phantom-menace-1999-worst-for-chronologically-first/

ATTACK OF THE CLONES: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/24/star-wars-episode-ii-attack-of-the-clones-2002-a-revisit-to-my-first-star-wars-movie/

REVENGE OF THE SITH: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/25/star-wars-episode-iii-revenge-of-the-sith-2005-my-favorite-star-wars-prequel-ever/

STAR WARS/A NEW HOPE: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/26/star-wars-1977-an-ageless-adventure/

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

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

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

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

Star Wars (1977): An Ageless Adventure

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Today is a big day in the “7 Days of Star Wars” run because we are finally going to tackle one of the most universally revered films in the franchise. The one that started it all! “Star Wars!” If you have read my reviews for the three prequels over the past few days, you’d know they came packed in with lots of controversy. From midichlorians to style over substance to forced romance storylines to robotic dialogue, there were plenty of new things brought to the table in the trilogy. Per my opinion, some of those things worked out, but there’s also plenty that didn’t. But it doesn’t mean the original trilogy is free from controversy either. For example, what do we call this movie now? “Star Wars?” “Star Wars Episode IV?” “Star Wars: A New Hope?” “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope?”

The answer to the previous question may be harder for some, but let’s calm down for a second and relax because it is time to discuss the kickstarter to one of the most popular franchises of all time in a miniseries I’m calling… “7 DAYS OF STAR WARS!”

“Star Wars” is directed by George Lucas and stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, and Alec Guinness. This film centers around a young man named Luke Skywalker who lives on the desert-heavy land of Tatooine. After being encouraged to stay with his aunt and uncle to farm for another year, Luke aspires to leave his life behind and learn the ways of the force and the Jedi under the mentorship of Ben Kenobi. Together, they journey alongside captain Han Solo, his Wookie pal Chewbacca, along with droids R2-D2 and C-3PO to rescue Princess Leia from Darth Vader and save the galaxy from a recently finished battle station, the Death Star.

Let’s face it. If you have ever watched movies, and I mean that as in, any movie ever. There is a SOLID chance that one of those options you’ve watched has been “Star Wars,” and it does not even have to be the original. But people continue to talk about “Star Wars” as if it is today’s equivalent to Shakespeare. I can almost see future scholarly classes dedicated to the history of storytelling or even K-12 language arts going over the impact “Star Wars” has had on people. Similar to how “Romeo & Juliet” has become required reading for students these days, I could see a future where “Star Wars” becomes required watching for scholars. And having watched the movie several times throughout my life, I can see why. Even with the special editions that have been hitting the market since 1997, which I probably won’t dive too much into during this review, this movie still holds up to this day. The storyline is the by the numbers, cliche hero’s journey, which we have seen before and after this movie came out, but for some reason, this particular hero’s journey has a flavor that makes it feel more palatable than others.

For all I know, it could be a nostalgic thing. “Star Wars” has been a part of my life for years, so there is a chance that when I think “hero’s journey” and what it means to be a larger than life individual, this is the movie my mind goes to. I do not know, it is like associating Burger King with fast food (sorry, not a huge McDonald’s fan), my mind cannot help but go to this movie as the definition of what it means to be a hero. This does not mean “Star Wars” is my favorite movie, although it is up there, but between my childhood attachment to the film and the brilliant execution of everything that goes down, it is not surprising to see why this film continues to be as popular as it is and why we are getting endless sequels and spinoffs. One passion project started it all.

The movie begins in the most hypnotizing way imaginable as we see a rebel ship getting chased by a Stardestroyer. We get our introduction to Leia who gets stunned by Stormtroopers in a rare successful attempt at shooting somebody. We also have Darth Vader who makes his way past dead Rebels and chokes Captain Antilles to death. But the first characters we see are also the ones that are essential to the franchise in the same way that pancakes are to Denny’s, R2-D2 and C-3PO. I really like how the film starts out from their perspective. Not only because they are the borderline comic relief characters of the film (at least until Han says something snarky), not only because they are seen through the film from start to finish, but because it makes the beginning of the movie feel small, as it should. Yes, we start out in space, there’s a big chase, and people die left and right, but as soon as we see R2 and 3PO hop on the escape pod and land into the desert, it gives a sense of intimacy to a degree. The scene where R2 is zapped by a Jawa is one of the smaller-scale scenes of “Star Wars” and I think it has provided for a breath of fresh air in a franchise full of blaster and lightsaber fights.

I will say though, the film has some slight imperfections. And by imperfections, I mean forgivable ones, because I admire Luke Skywalker as a character, but he is also kind of a wuss at times, at least in this film. Granted, he is young, he is at a rebellious point in his life, so it is understandable. This does not change the fact that Skywalker is a charismatic, brave, and extremely relatable hero. As I grow up, I begin to emulate more of his traits from wanting to control my destiny to wanting a balance between a social life and alone time and as this pandemic has revealed… Wanting to do something with my life. Luke Skywalker has a perfect balance of nerves and a sense of determination, which are two qualities that make for a likable hero on screen. Again, I mention the imperfections, despite them somewhat counting as flaws, I’d rather have an emotional, imperfect hero as opposed to someone who goes through life sitting pretty the whole way. It is our flaws that make us who we are at times and Luke Skywalker is a shining example of that. In fact, I am trying to break into the film industry, but like Luke Skywalker with the force, part of me occasionally has a hesitancy to get off my butt and actually do it. It is a human trait that I think extends to a lot of people no matter what they desire. It’s like when you’re a teenager and want to ask your crush out. Yes, it’s scary, but you may wonder where the question leads you.

I also really like Luke’s first introduction to Obi-Wan, because we get to see Luke learn about Ben’s history with the Jedi, Luke’s father, and things that TOTALLY happned. Regardless of how things turned out after this conversation, it showed that “Star Wars” did not mess around when it comes to lore and world-building. It gave a fascinating slice of backstory interweaved into this “civilized age.”

But I gotta admit, when it comes to deciding which of the main characters of the movie happens to be my favorite, my mind usually darts toward Han Solo, a suave, charming captain who wants not much more than money and a princess. Just from the first minute, I already got the distinction that Han Solo may be the biggest badass in the galaxy that does not wield a lightsaber, well, except for one, we’ll get to that momentarily. Between his affirmations of being a space captain, someone who made the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs, and shooting Greedo (FIRST) like a boss, I already knew that I could count on Solo if I hired him as a bodyguard. Plus, he probably has the best lines in the movie.

Han Solo: Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.

Princess Leia Organa: Looks like you’ve managed to cut off our only escape route.

Han Solo: [sarcastically] Maybe you’d like it back in your cell, your highness.

Han Solo: [referring to Leia] Wonderful girl. Either I’m going to kill her or I’m beginning to like her.

Now Han Solo may arguably be my favorite character of the protagonist side of things, but on the dark side, a big standout for me in this movie is Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing). In movie fandom, Darth Vader is often recognized is the biggest of all baddies. But despite that, the larger presence in this film in terms of villainy is Grand Moff Tarkin, who is put in charge of the Death Star’s operations. The reason why I love Tarkin is because of his lack of emotion. He almost feels like if Squidward Tentacles from “SpongeBob SquarePants” were a supervillain. A near regular Joe who works his ass off just to go about his days. Granted, unlike Squidward, who is stuck doing a part time job he hates, I could imagine Tarkin has a passion for what he does in regards to destroying the galaxy. But it’s not just his stern and somewhat classy personality that makes him likable to me, but it is also how he puts people in their place. I feel like of all the “Star Wars” characters to ever exist, Tarkin may be the most formidable and intimidating who does not use weapons to control others. Let’s put it this way. Count Dooku from the prequels is not a bad villain. He’s not fantastic either, but he’s serviceable. Either way, I have a strong feeling that if he did not have a lightsaber by his side, he would not be that intimidating. Tarkin does not even need one and yet he may be the most fearsome character in the movie. Just saying “You may fire when ready,” is not only iconic, but strikes fear into the heart. There are a lot of good villains based on their physical abilities, but Grand Moff Tarkin is a *great* villain by not needing to tap into his physicality the entire time.

If you read my reviews for the prequels, one of my usual pros that I would provide happen to be the lightsaber battles. Each one of the three episodes have at least one cool lightsaber fight. In “The Phantom Menace” we have the climactic duel between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan going up against Darth Maul. In “Attack of the Clones,” the climactic duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin vs. Count Dooku is honestly less impressive, but still quite entertaining. Now “Revenge of the Sith,” one reason why I gave it a positive grade is because it has some of the best lightsaber action in the entire franchise in terms of concepts between Obi-Wan vs. General Grievous to choreography with Obi-Wan and Anakin’s rematch with Count Dooku to story with Obi-Wan facing off against Anakin at the end of the movie. Lightsabers are awesome and the prequels have proven that. The lightsaber battles are legitimately the best parts of those movies. Now with the original “Star Wars,” we do not focus on that as much. And one of the things that I have noticed with the original trilogy over the years is that it treats the lightsaber as if it were special. There’s only one specific duel per movie and there are only a few other scenes where a lightsaber even shows up. But even I gotta admit… The choreography during the one duel in the movie is not perfect.

There is a duel in the film between Ben Kenobi and Darth Vader past the halfway point. We have had buildup about their connection through the force to a degree, so the script does an effective enough job at signifying a sense of conflict between these two. But here’s the thing, I could almost imagine this fight being a futuristic presidential debate if Joe Biden and Donald Trump run against each other once more. I’m not giving any political views, but the point is, they fight as if they are on their last legs when they really aren’t. Yes, we see Obi-Wan is all greyed out, but he seems to have some juice left in him. I think the choreography could have been slightly improved if you ask me. But going back to the prequels, one thing I found to be a flaw in those movies is the mix of characterization and story. Yes, you have your point A to point B structure, but 1977’s “Star Wars” does a much better job at fleshing out its characters and giving them a reason to have the conflicts that appear in front of them. I actually care about what is happening. I am rooting for Obi-Wan, based not only on his likability, but his motivations, to come out on top here. This sounds like a small thing to accomplish, but considering how the prequels have played out later on, it just goes to show how well this story holds up.

The end of the fight has a real lasting impact when, spoiler alert, Obi-Wan dies. That’s the thing that this movie gets right that the prequels just couldn’t do as successfully. I felt the intimidation of the Empire through the blast of their Death Star, specific characters on the fleet, the TIE Fighters, and part of it was because I cared about people in the film, what they were doing, what they stood for, and potentially even their personality. This is why I often get excited when I think about the climax of the film. The climax of “Star Wars” is one that I often forget how exciting it is until I sit down and watch it again. As we are given the game plan and Luke shoots off into space in his X-Wing with R2 by his side, composer John Williams orchestrates the music like a boss and creates the perfect playlist for saving the galaxy. On top of that, the mission itself is just fun. Good clean fun.

We see a lot go down in just a matter of ten to twenty minutes. We see a tad of conflict between Skywalker and Solo before takeoff, we see all the ships in formation, we get the perspectives of the observers, the Rebels, the Empire, and it does not take long after all the ships get into attack position to just feel a sense of excitement and adrenaline. I also love the decision towards the end to have the ships navigate through a seemingly endless, straight, grey trench. It’s not only simple but it kind of has a drag race feel to it. The ships are rushing to the finish line as they try to find the one hole that will get them the win. When you have such an expansive franchise like “Star Wars” it is sometimes difficult to harken back to where it all started partially because it has become so immense, so universal, but when I pop on “A New Hope” and watch the end, I remember the grin on my face, the tingle in my brain, and even though I have watched the film almost hundreds of times by now, I still root for Luke hoping he actually makes the shot at the end. “Star Wars” feels like a dream. It is a universe that I often want to flock to in my imagination. In my mind, I often want to visit Mos Eisley or ride the Millennium Falcon and have captain Solo by my side. This movie has opened my imagination as a kid and it continues to surpass many of the movies I watch today as an adult.

George Lucas once said that “the films were designed for 12-year-olds.” I do not see that statement as derogatory or as an insult to anyone’s intelligence. Now I can look back at certain pieces of media that I watched as a kid that could have arguably made me dumber, like “Power Rangers.” As fun as it was to watch that franchise when I was younger, I often look back and wonder if I spent my time wisely. “Star Wars” on the other-hand is a well-crafted and intelligently designed piece of art that holds up to this day because it is one of more imaginative modern stories we have. The story is timeless, even if bits and pieces are repetitive. The effects are amazing and in some cases are better than the prequels. The characters are admirable to the tenth degree. And the quotes from the film stand out whether it is May the 4th or literally any other day. But the film is not perfect. It is not for everyone. Some Wookies may want to sit this one out.

BECAUSE CHEWIE DIDN’T GET A MEDAL AT THE END!

In the end, “Star Wars” is everything that people say it is and more. One of the best films ever made. When it comes to the typical hero’s journey story, “Star Wars” has everything you could ask for. A not so perfect, but also interesting main hero, a wise man, a rambunctious wit who tries to do what they see fit, and an out of this world adventure that is easy on the eyes, ears, and most importantly, the imagination. Is “Star Wars” a western? Some would say it is, and I can see why. Although while technically not in the western genre, this occasionally has the slight pace of a western duel, as you may notice in the fight between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, all these desert environments, and occasionally gunslinging here and there. But to me, “Star Wars” is a great combination of fractions of a western if they merged into a pure fantasy. There is a reason why this movie is as celebrated as it is. As a child, I wanted to be a Jedi. As an adult, I want to go on an adventure. This movie has spoken to me for years and its staying power proves why “Star Wars” is deserving of a 10/10.

Also, one last thing I’ll mention is the score of the film. John Williams is up there with some of my favorite film composers of all time including Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer, and Alan Silvestri. His work on “Star Wars” showcases why that is the truth. If my previous reviews did not emphasize that enough already…

Here is a great track from this movie to support my statement. Enjoy.

Thanks for reading this review! We are more than halfway through the “7 DAYS OF STAR WARS” event and despite the recent 10/10, we are going to talk about a movie that some fans would argue is not just better than “Star Wars,” but the best film in the entire franchise, specifically “The Empire Strikes Back.” I cannot wait to discuss the film, but until then if you want to see more content like this, follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account, or just like the Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Star Wars?” What did you think about it? Or, if you could go back and watch any movie for the first time ever that you’ve already watched, what movie would that be? I sometimes get jealous of thinking about the people who have not seen “Star Wars” because that just means that they will likely get to experience it for the first time at some point. I am at an age where I should not worry about having children, but if I do, I would eagerly await the day we sit on the couch, I put on “Star Wars,” hopefully they have never seen it, and I sit down and watch it with them. Until next time, may the force be with you and Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

THE PHANTOM MENACE: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/23/star-wars-episode-i-the-phantom-menace-1999-worst-for-chronologically-first/

ATTACK OF THE CLONES: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/24/star-wars-episode-ii-attack-of-the-clones-2002-a-revisit-to-my-first-star-wars-movie/

REVENGE OF THE SITH: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/25/star-wars-episode-iii-revenge-of-the-sith-2005-my-favorite-star-wars-prequel-ever/

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

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

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

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

Why “And Then There Were Fewer” is the Best Family Guy Episode *MAJOR SPOILERS*

PREVIOUSLY ON SCENE BEFORE:

“What happens here? You know what? I’m not even gonna specify, because spoiling this particular episode, while hard, isn’t worth it.”

“I could go on forever about this episode, but I’d be wasting precious time.”

SOURCE: Top 10 “Family Guy” Episodes *SPOILERS*

AND NOW…

FAMILY GUY: When the residents of Quahog are invited to a stately mansion for a weekend getaway, the retreat turns into a real murder mystery when guests end up dead and everyone scrambles to solve the crime on the one-hour season premiere episode of FAMILY GUY airing Sunday, Sept. 26 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. FAMILY GUY © and ª 2010 TTCFFC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! I do not talk about TV that much here on Scene Before, but it has been over three and a half years since I talked about ten of my all time favorite “Family Guy” episodes. Some examples from the time include “PTV,” (S4E14) “Wasted Talent,” (S2E20) “The Simpsons Guy,” (S13E01), and “Blue Harvest” (S6E01). If you are wondering, no, I do not have any current plans to update the countdown anytime soon. Maybe in a couple years if I’m desperate, but who knows? Besides, even though “Family Guy” is still on the air today, many of the newer episodes are either unfunny, disposable, overly cruel, or downright unwatchable. But there have been some diamonds in the rough, most notably “Three Directors,” (S16E05) where it is one short story presented in the “visions” of Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson, and Michael Bay, and “Trump Guy,” (S17E11) where Peter works for the Trump administration. But my favorite episode has aired during a time where “Family Guy” was just getting into the HD age.

Today, September 26th, 2020, is the tenth anniversary of my favorite “Family Guy” episode of all time, “And Then There Were Fewer.” Now I have a lot of respect for the “Family Guy” series. It is a show that I started watching at one point, and convinced my father to watch alongside me. I guess I got lucky, because at this point my father thinks Seth MacFarlane is a genius. In fact, I’m attempting to work on a bit of a “Family Guy” project myself. I can’t say much about it, but if Seth MacFarlane, Fox, or Disney reads this, I will be happy to talk with them about an idea or two I have!

When it comes to the adult animation genre, I think “Family Guy” reigns supreme in terms of humor and likable characters. From Peter to Stewie to Joe to Quagmire, the list goes on. Throughout the seasons, they all have their highlights in various episodes. And even if the episodes themselves are not that great, I still like the characters because at the end of the day, they have a likable presence or personality to keep the show afloat. Peter is a lovable idiot. While he is somewhat entitled and lazy, he plays the part great. I’m not a dog person, but Brian is probably one of my favorite dogs in media, mainly because of how well executed he is as a voice of wisdom. I occasionally enjoy myself realizing that Seth MacFarlane sometimes puts a bit of his own personality into Brian’s character. As for Stewie… He is probably in my top 10 most relatable characters of all time. Well, minus the desire to kill my own mother.

The supporting characters of “Family Guy” show themselves to be quite admirable too. From Tom Tucker, the charming newscaster who has a knack for dry commentary, to Mayor West, who is basically a college frat boy in a geezer’s body (RIP Adam West), and even though the actor himself is a controversial name as of today, James Woods had some of the greatest moments of screentime in the entire series.

This all adds up to something… That, kinda feels like a culmination.

The reason why I enjoy “And Then There Were Fewer” more than any other “Family Guy” episode is the same reason why I consider “Avengers: Infinity War” to be the best installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Every other movie felt like they played a part in a series of buildup. These movies eventually let “Infinity War” take elements from them to give a big, grand story that stands on its own and recognizes what came before, and even builds the story further in the end.

Keep in mind, “And Then There Were Fewer” is the premiere episode of “Family Guy’s” ninth season, but at times, it feels more like a finale. People die. The vibe is incredibly grand and massive. Also keep in mind, even though I mentioned “Infinity War,” this is not exactly like an epic. After all, this episode is a quirky but somewhat serious murder mystery. This episode relies a ton on its own, heavy, unique atmosphere that quite frankly, I have not seen in too many other “Family Guy” episodes. Your typical “Family Guy” episode goes straight for humor. Maybe it’s dark humor, controversial humor, or some plethora of pop culture references. And those are not always bad. These are in the show’s collective wheelhouse. In “And Then There Were Fewer,” the humor is there, but I stay for the story and characterization.

Let’s go over how the episode goes down, and I’ll give some of my thoughts along the way. *MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD*

The episode begins with the Griffins finding out they were invited to a party at Rocky Point Manor, a massive location where the rest of the episode would take place. This episode is the first one in series to be presented in 16:9 widescreen and high definition. In fact, the intro that is not often shown on television due to time constraints (it can be found on the DVD version of the episode, however) tries to make the viewer aware that they are in for something new. Not just in regards to looks, but the overall vibe. The scope is massive, almost movie-like perhaps. Instead of the traditional intro where they show the main characters in the Griffin House and an alternate venue singing, they rely on scenery and atmosphere. When the main location of the episode is revealed, the music, which by the way is a full-blown orchestra, is kind of bombastic and triggers an emotional punch. The music does a solid job of reminding me as a viewer of the beauty regarding the massive mansion up ahead. The colors and animation in these opening scenes are vibrant and finely detailed.

Now, this is a cartoon, meaning that you can get away with more in a presentation of its kind compared to something in live-action. Thus, this episode handles a crossover sort of situation at hand. Turns out the Griffins were not the only ones to get the party invitation, but as Lois points out, “the whole town got invited.” Not only did they get invited, but they got invited “in their honor.”

This brings every single character imaginable into the episode. Your main tag team including Mayor West, Quagmire, and the Swansons. They’ve also got Mort and Muriel Goldman, the Channel 5 news team, Dr. Hartman, you name it. This episode seems to open with big promise, but does it deliver above and beyond the idea of bringing tons of people together? You betcha.

“Good evening, everyone.” -James Woods

I know a lot of people are currently divided over James Woods as a person, but regardless of his personal views of the world, I will say that he has appeared in some of the best “Family Guy” episodes, and this one is no exception. His role in here is perfect as it solidly relies on previous buildup. “Family Guy” has had a history of using James Woods as an antagonist against several characters, including Peter, when he tried to copy several aspects of his life. He ruined Brian’s TV pilot, changing the core aspects of the script and overall vibe of the production. Throughout the episode, there are a couple of other things that other characters briefly bring up that make Woods look like an undesirable monster. Quagmire reveals Woods stole Cheryl Tiegs from him, Tom Tucker mentions Woods kept him from being the star of “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” and Mayor Adam West says James Woods took the Twitter name @MayorWest, meaning he had to then use @Mayor_West. His presence in the episode is a reminder of how far this series has come and raises questions as to where it goes from there, and I admire that about Woods here.

Woods reveals he has recently become a born-again Christian thanks to his girlfriend, Priscilla (voiced by Ashley Tisdale). Because he’s just become a man of god, he felt it was necessary to invite all the people he wronged to make amends. The guests wonder why they should trust him, but James Woods begs for said guests to give him a chance.

When Woods exits the dining room where everybody happens to be sitting, waiting for dinner, Priscilla tags along. Quagmire’s annoying girlfriend, Stephanie, goes over to the Woods’ chair and sits down. Soon thereafter, blood pours out of her chest.

She dies. Head flat on the table.

To quote Agatha the Pre-Cog from “Minority Report…”

“Murrrrderrrrr.”

This is the perfect catalyst to bring darkness to this episode. “Family Guy” is usually known for being dark, but that’s usually just from a comedic perspective. From this moment, it might as well be gathered that some serious stuff is about to go down.

Everyone assumes James Woods killed Stephanie, thus leading them to flee to their cars. Upon beginning their drive, a tree collapses a bridge, the only way they can go in their escape.

Retrieved from TVGag

So it’s back to the mansion!

Unfortunately, nobody is getting reception on their cell phones, and even though there’s a landline, it’s dead. Everyone is in panic mode. until James Woods enters the room, where such panic is dialed up a couple notches. After a penis joke, scolding, and further realization that Stephanie is kind of a gag character. James and Priscilla are confused by everyone’s fear. James claims he’s unaware of what’s going on. So they go to the next room, where Stephanie’s body no longer remains. A power outage ensues, summoning a series of black frames, and “Family Guy” does what it does best.

“Oh my god! Is this what black people see all the time?” -Peter Griffin

James Woods dies with a knife in his back.

We don’t see who strikes Woods down, nor does anybody in the mansion. Joe Swanson catalyzes the rest of the episode.

JOE: What I’m saying is James Woods isn’t the murderer. The murderer… is one of us.”

*Collective gasps*

JOE: And someone ate the last goat cheese tartlet.

*Collective yammering*

PETER: Now I hope I die next!

Criss Cross GIF - Criss Cross Family - Discover & Share GIFs

We soon see that Stephanie died due to a timed gun, which went off as soon as Stephanie sat down in the chair that was supposed to be for James Woods. Nobody admits to wanting James Woods dead, so it’s time to play Clue!

Unfortunately for Joe, he’s soon knocked unconscious by Peter, who takes over the investigation. The characters remind us, the audience, that everyone at the dinner had a motive for wanting James Woods dead, but one was willing enough to get revenge. We see tons of finger-pointing. Diane Simmons points at Tom Tucker, who points at Seamus the pirate, who then points at Mayor Adam West. We get into a finger-pointing frenzy! No answers in sight!

Carl shoves Chris into a bookshelf, causing books to gravitate downward. One hits a particular floor tile that pushes down, making the bookshelf slide, thus revealing an opening to the basement.

Everyone goes downstairs, Peter opens a book revealing James’ misdeeds. He’s written each one down so he remembers who to make amends to. Upon some investigation, Brian comes across tons of Oxycontin bottles with James Woods’ name on it. All of it comes from Goldman’s Pharmacy, appropriately owned by Mort and Muriel Goldman. James Woods blackmailed Muriel specifically, as he was being supplied with free medicine. Everyone assumes Muriel is the killer, but she escapes before she can be captured.

Peter divides everyone into teams, and if you watch “Family Guy,” a couple of these combinations make complete sense.

“Chris, you check the basement with Herbert.”

*Herbert stretches over to Chris, emitting a twiggish sound*

Perfect.

Peter even points out Joe and Priscilla, who are currently passed out, therefore they’re labeled the “unconscious team.”

We see these teams in action. Derek and Jillian investigate an attic, where a black cat, voiced by Patrick Stewart, jumps out. There’s even an inside joke to “X-Men” where the cat reveals himself as a “professor.” Chris and Herbert collaborate, and Herbert makes a request to Chris to burn his house down if he dies. Diane Simmons and Tom Tucker enter an art gallery, where Tom clicks a button with his shoe, thus sliding a painting automatically. Tom goes inside, but he gets trapped! Diane raises some concern, but where did Tom go?!

Meg and Carl enter a billiard room, as if this wasn’t like “Clue” enough already. Meg bumps into the stuffed bear from “The Great Outdoors” written by John Hughes.

CARL: Oh, it’s okay. It’s just the stuffed bear from “The Great Outdoors.” Did you see “The Great Outdoors?”

MEG: No.

CARL: You suck.

FAMILY GUY: A swanky retreat turns into a real murder mystery when guests end up dead, and Meg scrambles to solve the crime on the one-hour season premiere episode of FAMILY GUY airing Sunday, Sept. 26 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. FAMILY GUY © and ™ 2010 TTCFFC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Even though the duo are searching for Muriel, they decide to take a break and play some pool. Meg finds the pool cues, but she falls down a chute as soon as she grabs one of them.

We see Brian and Stewie humming TV themes to each other, when suddenly, a shriek is heard in the distance. The two run to the scene.

Retrieved from CutawayGuyHD (YouTube)

Muriel lies down with the knife inside her. Everyone else comes in as well.

And if you’re wondering, the thing I love about this death, not to mention a couple others in this episode, is that the people who died here have not been revived. In fact, the only person to die in this episode who has been revived is James Woods.

The clock ticks. The lightning strikes. The tension could not be higher. There is no other episode in the “Family Guy” series that I can think of that has given stakes like this.

Meg and Tom Tucker reveal their journey through an underground passageway to the rest of the crew, who are all standing together in the dining room. This is where we get one of the best jokes in the episode, and honestly, it has aged like a fine wine.

Derek reveals he’s getting reception on his cell phone. Peter speaks up.

PETER: Oh my god is that–…

*reveal Derek’s phone cover picture, him in front of the Hollywood sign

PETER: Are you holding up the whole Hollywood sign?

DEREK: No no no no, the sign was way in the background. I was standing in the foreground going like this (raises his arms) while Jillian took the picture. So, by forced perspective it looks like I’m holding up the whole sign.

PETER: I don’t believe you. I think you are a god. And I would die for you or kill others.

It’s stupid, but simultaneously brilliant, which to me is a core element of what makes “Family Guy” worthy of its cultural relevance.

Derek goes to the roof to call the police. Unfortunately, not everyone heard him say that. As evidenced by this next quote…

“Oh my god, Priscilla’s gone!” -Brian Griffin

We angle on the couch where Priscilla was laid to rest. We don’t know her fate, but she is nevertheless gone. But guess who isn’t gone? Joe! He’s back!

Some assume Priscilla’s the murderer. Some think there’s more data needed to confirm if that’s true. Then we get arguably the funniest outburst of the episode. Everyone’s arguing about the situation. Peter just jumps in being himself.

PETER: Derek lifted up the Hollywood sign.

*Collective yammering*

PETER: He did too, I saw the picture!

Derek reaches a balcony, dials for the police, but he’s smacked off. Splat! He hits the ground. Dr. Hartman steps in, confirms he’s dead, also noting his head was hit by a blunt object.

Everyone flies back into the mansion, gathers together in a room. Lois assumes Priscilla’s up to this, then Consuela discovers James Woods’ Golden Globe is missing. Everyone gathers around Joe, who suggests that if anyone leaves the group, they’re assumed to be the killer. They investigate Glenn Quagmire’s room, which doesn’t have anything of note. Although Stephanie’s huge underpants get some screentime, which provides for some funny lines.

LOIS: Oh it’s got flowers! I mean, why bother? Who’s gonna see em?

CHRIS: Maybe someone in space!

*Collective laughter*

The gang moves onto Tom Tucker’s room. They search around, Meg gasps, slowly revealing a bloody Golden Globe in her hand.

Everyone turns on Tom Tucker, Joe wheels himself over prepared to possibly turn him in. Tucker brings up Priscilla, noting that nobody knows what she’s up to. Joe suggests that’s possible, then blood starts dripping from the ceiling.

Peter lifts Joe to the ceiling, Joe opens a vent, and a dead Priscilla is revealed, everyone screams. Tom Tucker flees the room as many of the men track him down. They capture him in the dining room, where he’s cuffed. The police take him in once the sun rises.

The music in all of these scenes, and the entire episode for that matter, is simply put, “ear porn.” That’s the best way I can describe it. I know “Family Guy” is often known for their numbers that they’ve sprinkled into various episodes, but this episode has my favorite musical score, or my favorite musical job without lyrics, particularly in the “Family Guy series.” It’s intense, grand, and it pulls you right in. It’s kind of like some movies such as “Star Wars” where the music practically plays a supporting role.

The episode’s not over. We’ve just witnessed the main course. Now it’s time for dessert.

Retrieved from CutawayGuyHD (YouTube)

Everyone’s about to leave, Peter and Lois are packing up. Peter checks his stuff and notices his Hot Wheels fire engine does not appear to be in his luggage. He asks Lois if they’re in the bathroom, but she suggests she put them all in his bag. Lois walks down the hall, enters Diane Simmons’ room. She asks if Diane’s okay, to which she responds saying she’s managing. Then comes… this quote.

Retrieved from CutawayGuyHD (YouTube)

“You sound like my mother, she actually bought me this blouse for my first solo broadcast. I guess that’s sweet, huh.” -Diane Simmons

Lois is confused, until she puts what Diane said together.

As Peter often says, “Holy crap!”

Retrieved from CutawayGuyHD (YouTube)

Lois backs away, suggesting she’s looking for Peter’s fire engine, but Diane points a gun at her. She’s the killer.

As if this wasn’t exciting enough, the backstory behind all of this is incredible. At times when I watch it, I feel like I am viewing this story from the point where Diane is the protagonist. It kind of gives a grand, emotional “John Wick” vibe. I even teared up a couple times by watching the last 5 to 10 minutes of the episode because it’s that good.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screenshot-188.png

Diane reveals that she and James Woods met at a press event, but their relationship was a secret from the media. Then she does something that NO CARTOONS EVER DO. Age. The footage reveals she turned 40, and around this time, James dumps her. Speaking of being left behind by straight, white men, Tom Tucker started promoting a younger blonde anchor, who we now know by the name Joyce Kinney. This anchor was set to take Diane’s place in a matter of weeks.

“I saw my career and my love life crumble, and I wasn’t gonna stand by and take it.” -Diane Simmons

From here, Diane reveals she has previously taken advantage of an intern named Priscilla. Sound familiar? At Diane’s discretion, Priscilla persuades James Woods to become a born-again Christian. This inspired the dinner where Woods invited everyone he wronged. Diane wanted everything to go as smooth as possible so she could kill James Woods and frame Tom Tucker.

“Oh my god. You’re 40?” -Lois Griffin

As for Diane killing everyone else, this was not part of the plan. Stephanie, as suggested earlier in the episode, was an accident. As soon as the power went out, Diane took advantage of the darkness and put a knife in James Woods’ back. From here, she reveals that due to Priscilla and Muriel realizing Diane’s true motivations, they had to die as well. For Priscilla specifically, Diane hid her in Tom Tucker’s room. Muriel was left on the ground as everyone gathered around, and Diane was lucky enough to be “part of the scene.”

When everyone gathers in the dining room, Diane notices Derek running to the balcony.

Remember this line?

“Derek lifted up the Hollywood sign.”

Yeah, you want to know why that’s possibly the best line in the episode? Because even though it was delivered in a manner where Peter was pretty much being a smartass, Diane Simmons utilizes it and takes it seriously.

“When Peter was yelling at everybody about that picture of Derek holding up the Hollywood sign, I grabbed the Golden Globe and slipped out. I followed Derek outside and did what I had to do.” -Diane Simmons

She then reveals the rest of her plan was a success as everyone turned on Tom Tucker.

But what about Stephanie? She was the first to die! But Diane didn’t acknowledge what happened to her body and where she went!

Turns out, Quagmire had Stephanie’s body locked in his trunk. Because when your annoying girlfriend dies, you might as well keep their body as a memento! It’s a lesson for everyone!

But of course, Diane has one thing left to do. Kill Lois.

Retrieved from CutawayGuyHD (YouTube)

Peter comes in the room, asks Lois if she’s on her way, and adds the notion that he wants to listen to tapes, but he can’t do that without the car key. Diane says she and Lois are going to take a quick walk. So Peter just asks for the key.

Retrieved from CutawayGuyHD (YouTube)

Lois awkwardly hands the key, Peter runs out of the room, and Lois is forced to follow Diane’s orders. Realization sets in that these may be Lois’s final moments. She and Diane walk to the back of the property, they stumble upon a cliff. Diane is set for the kill.

LOIS: Diane, please! You don’t have to do this! I won’t tell anybody, I swear to god!

DIANE: That’s right, you won’t. Goodbye, Lois.

By the way, the music here is glorious.

*GUNSHOT*

Retrieved from CutawayGuyHD (YouTube)

We zoom out on Lois, looking as normal as ever. Then we cut to a close-up of Diane, who has a bullet through her chest. She falls off a high cliff into the water. This is the last we’ve seen of her since.

Now who killed Diane? Lois didn’t do it! Nobody else was at the scene! So who killed her? Tom Tucker? Joe? Peter? Nope!

Retrieved from CutawayGuyHD (YouTube)

The answer is all kinds of badass, none other than Stewie Griffin himself!

“If anybody’s gonna take that bitch down, it’s gonna be me.”

Not only does this support Stewie being one of the most kick-ass cartoon characters of all time, but from a story standpoint, I am curious to know exactly he did this. I’m not saying there’s a plot hole behind it or anything, but for years, one of the biggest storylines in “Family Guy” history is that Stewie continuously desires to kill his own mother. The series even dedicated a two-part special where Stewie and Lois try to kill each other! This is how far they’ve taken this concept! Now, Stewie subversively SAVES Lois from danger. Why does he do this? Does he love his mother? Does he realize he needs a mother figure in his life? Did Diane piss him off one time? Does he just hate the news? I’m probably asking more questions than I need to! This is a complete twist, but I love it!

Chevapravatdumrong at the San Diego Comic-Con International in July 2017

This episode is written by Cherry Chevapravatdumrong, and she honestly went above and beyond with it. All the characters within this massive cast had a purpose of some kind. Each one a motive, something to do, and unfortunately this episode has quite a few clips that cannot be shown on most TV broadcasts due to timing purposes. So I will definitely recommend you check this episode out if it plays on TBS or Adult Swim or something, but if you have the motivation, buy the DVD. I know the series is on Hulu as well, but I am not sure how long the episode is on there.

And Then There Were Fewer also uses a classical orchestra to its fullest potential, providing for a soundtrack that I still wonder why is not on iTunes or something. The opening theme for this episode is also used in a “Family Guy” mobile game, subtitled “The Quest for Stuff.”

The animation in this episode is incredible. Not only do we get to see everything in high-definition, but they utilize flashy water, crisp skies, and I must say that the manor inside and out is wonderfully detailed. I must say, this being the first episode in widescreen must have really set the tone, because this episode goes long. Not only because it’s an hour, but because there’s so much that goes on. A vast of number of characters! Plot point after plot point! Stakes dialed up to an 11! The episode barely has any dead air.

But I think the best part about this episode is that it relies less on comedy than usual. “Family Guy” is one of my favorite shows of all time, and I will say part of the reason why is because it makes me laugh harder than perhaps any other show I can think of. But when the show can do something different, make me feel emotions, almost get me to tear up WHILE STILL BEING FUNNY, that is a sign of a masterpiece. This thing gives me chills, man! I felt for everyone during the episode. Everyone who wondered if they were the next to die. Those who were perhaps about to die. Maybe not Stephanie, but she was a gag character, so it’s not like I was supposed to get emotionally invested in her. I even felt bad for Diane by the end of it. I understood her motivation despite the reveal that she killed everybody, because I got a sense of her struggle. This is a character that has appeared every now and then on the show, and to see her at this point, where she defends herself for her deadly actions, is kind of hauntingly beautiful.

But just a reminder, the most important thing we all learned in this episode iiiiiissssss…

“Derek lifted up the Hollywood sign.” -Peter Griffin

Don’t you forget it!

In the end, And Then There Were Fewer is incredibly rewatchable, insanely beautiful, and provides perhaps the greatest blend of comedy and emotion in the entire series. Characters develop, thus allowing the show to develop down the road. It’s something I kind of wish this show would do more. Yes, it said goodbye to a few characters, but with an ending like this, comes a new beginning. We say goodbye to Diane Simmons, but now we have Joyce Kinney. They say change is inevitable, but I think “Family Guy” handles such an inevitability brilliantly. And Then There Were Fewer to this day, officially ten years after it came out, is my favorite “Family Guy” episode, and may just be my favorite television episode of all time.

You want to know how good this episode is? Even Seth MacFarlane himself says that this is favorite episode!

“I think this is my favorite episode of the series. A classic format, great-looking direction, and, I hope, a genuinely surprising ending. It was also the first episode to air in HD. It was really cool to finally see Lois’ pores.” -Seth MacFarlane (Retrieved from: Seth MacFarlane Reveals His 20 Favorite ‘Family Guy’ Episodes)

If the creator says its the best, that says something! Also goes to show that great minds think alike!

Today, “Family Guy” is continuously losing steam despite a few great episodes here and there. Although I will give the show credit for being a pioneer in adult animation for going where say “The Simpsons” can’t, and essentially making the cutaway gag a trademark. Season 19, not to mention the show’s 350th episode, is set to premiere on Fox tomorrow. I will most likely be watching, but “And Then There Were Fewer” is an episode that reminds me of what makes this series so watchable. The characters, the storylines, the brilliant writing. It all comes together beautifully. I will be looking forward to season 19 of “Family Guy,” not to mention the recently announced seasons 20 and 21. But I long for the day where “Family Guy” makes an episode as good as this. Although, just remember one thing, and one thing only.

“Derek lifted up the Hollywood sign.” -Peter Griffin

It’s in the picture!

Thanks for reading this post! It’s not every day that I decide to talk about television, but I figured since And Then There Were Fewer turns ten today, that would make for a good opportunity to do a post like this. But if you are interested in my movie content, feel free to check out my review for “Tenet!” Or, as some call it, the only movie in theaters right now! I’m not sure when I’ll get to talk about TV again. Maybe when another streaming service comes out or something, but we shall see. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! You know what grinds my gears? The fact that more people are not checking out my Facebook page! So do yourself a favor, and check out the official Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, did you ever watch the “Family Guy” episode titled And Then There Were Fewer? What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite “Family Guy” episode? As of today, you have 349 to choose from, which is quite a buttload! Leave your freakin’ comments down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Personal History of David Copperfield (2019): A Well-Adapted, Modern Take on a Dickens Story

“The Personal History of David Copperfield” is directed by Armando Iannucchi (The Death of Stalin, Veep) and stars Dev Petel (Slumdog Millionaire, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), Anuerin Bernard (War & Peace, Dunkirk), Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who, Paddington), Morfydd Clark (The Man Who Invented Christmas, Crawl), Daisy May Cooper (This Country, Avenue 5), Rosalind Eleazer (Howards End, Death in Paradise), Hugh Laurie (Stuart Little, Tomorrowland), Tilda Swinton (Doctor Strange, We Need to Talk About Kevin), and Ben Whislaw (Skyfall, Paddington).

This film is based on the similarly titled book written by Charles Dickens and follows David Copperfield, an orphan who finds himself needing to get through a series of obstacles.

“The Personal History of David Copperfield” already released in several film festivals last year, which eventually led to the film being nominated for a Best Casting BAFTA. The movie has not hit the United States until this past March, specifically at a festival, and has gotten a full fledged release in August. In my view, that officially makes this a 2020 movie. IMDb says this is a 2019 film, but it has not had an official theatrical release until this year, so I rest my case for now. As of late August, “The Personal History of David Copperfield” has hit several theaters in the United States, and so far has earned over a million dollars. Now, that’s a great total if I went on NBC’s “The Wall,” but the film’s budget is $15.6 million. The collective total at the box office worldwide is $11.6 million. That’s not entirely pleasing so far, but given how movie theaters are coming back to life at this point, it should not be too surprising. Nevertheless, I used one of my A-List tickets to see this movie last Sunday, and having never once read the “David Copperfield” book, I did not really know what to expect. I will have you all know, when movie theaters were allowed to reopen in my state, the first screening I attended contained one trailer, which was for this exact movie. That’s all. I could tell you I really enjoyed the trailer, but the reality was that I was more focused on the notion that a movie theater was actually open.

Even so, this movie had an advantage, because it was *that first trailer* I’ve seen in a while, it stuck in my mind like a catchy tune. So was this movie worth my time when I finally saw it? I’d say so.

Going into “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” I did not entirely know what to expect. Keep in mind that this review is written by someone who never read the book. I walked out of the movie fairly delighted. There was a series of well-directed, marvelously written scenes. I could thank the writers for this film, but maybe I should thank Charles Dickens considering how he wrote the material. It also goes to show how timeless this movie feels, and how one can possibly connect to some guy living in the 19th century. All the factory scenes from this film are incredible. Not only are they atmospheric, but they allow for this movie’s writing to shine. I felt for Dev Patel’s character of David Copperfield several steps of the way.

This movie manages to maintain its own vision from beginning to end, and I was massively entertained by said vision. While “The Personal History of David Copperfield” is not my favorite movie of the year, I will not deny that this movie manages to maintain its own flair every step of the way. I do not feel like I will end up remembering every character’s name, although I do imagine if I read the book maybe I will. Speaking of which, this brings up another point.

A lot of people tend a read a book, watch a movie, compare the two side by side. Personally, I see books and movies as two separate entities and I don’t always think they should be compared just to be one thing since they are two different mediums. However, let’s reverse what I just brought up for a moment. I watch a ton more movies than I read books, but if I were to take this movie, “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” I would definitely read the book that inspired it because I enjoyed the end product of the film. I don’t know when I’ll dedicate time to it, but it is a thought that I am intrigued by.

In terms of performances, I think everyone across the board did a great job from Dev Patel to Hugh Laurie to Peter Capaldi and Benedict Wong. Their performances help provide a refreshing take on what must be a classic. One of my favorite performances in this movie however comes from Darren Boyd, who plays Mr. Murdstone, who marries Copperfield’s once widowed mother. In addition to that, Copperfield has to work for Murdstone in his factory, which as previously suggested, makes for some of the finest scenes in the movie. This movie is PG, so according to the MPAA, kids can watch this and feel fine. There are some notable scenes where that PG rating shows, but at the same time, as I watched those scenes, I got the feeling I was watching somebody who was pushing the barrier a little higher. They say a movie is only as good as its villain, and “The Personal History of David Copperfield” utilizes that saying to full potential.

There are few other antagonists from movies this year that I can think of that I will remember for years to come. Maybe Dr. Robotnik from “Sonic the Hedgehog,” perhaps Sator from “Tenet,” and this might shock you, Paula Abdul from “Impractical Jokers: The Movie.” Just being honest. Murdstone is up there with the greats for me. I really hope we get a couple more comic book movies this year, because I am curious to see Taskmaster in “Black Widow” and see how he ranks against the rest of the Marvel villain crew. IF “BLACK WIDOW” MOVES AGAIN OR GOES STRAIGHT TO DISNEY+ I MIGHT BE DONE WITH MOVIES. Nevertheless, Murdstone is one of my favorite characters in this movie and his attitude says a lot about who he is.

If I have anything else to say, I also enjoyed the score in this film. I don’t know if I’ll end up listening to it during free time later, but hearing it in the theater was most certainly atmospheric and occasionally gave a larger than life vibe. The score is done by Christopher Willis, who has also done work for a couple Disney television shows and HBO’s “Veep.”

In the end, “The Personal History of David Copperfield” is a fine adaptation of the well-known Charles Dickens novel. I have never read the book, but after seeing this movie, who knows? Maybe I’ll give it a shot. I imagine it is better than the movie, given how Dickens is a household name. Even so, I found myself delighted with “The Personal History of David Copperfield” and I am going to give it a 7/10.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for “Becky,” which stars Lulu Wilson, Joel McHale, and Kevin James. I just got the Blu-ray recently, watched it, and I want to say some things about it. I’m not sure what my next review after that is going to be. I’m thinking either “Bill & Ted Face the Music” or there is also this one movie that has supposedly been out for a month called “Tesla.” I saw trailers for it at one theater, it never showed up, but it is also available On Demand for a cheap price. Maybe I’ll watch that. Although one of my local theaters, the Lexington Venue, just recently opened once more, so maybe I’ll check something out there if I have time. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Personal History of David Copperfield?” What did you think about it? Or, did you read the original “David Copperfield” book? Tell me your thoughts on that! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The New Mutants (2020): This Review Has Been Delayed 2 and a Half Years

“The New Mutants” is directed by Josh Boone, who also directed the 2014 film “The Fault in Our Stars,” based on the hit book of the same name. This film stars Maisie Williams (Gen: Lock, Game of Thrones), Anya Taylor-Joy (Emma, Split), Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things, Marrowbone), Alice Braga (City of God, Queen of the South), Blu Hunt (The Originals, Another Life), and Henry Zaga (Teen Wolf, 13 Reasons Why) in what could arguably be one of the bigger tragedies of 2018 and 2019, but such tragic outcomes helped this movie form some semblance of comedy by 2020. More on this in a second, but this film is about a group of mutant teenagers who all stay in a facility together. I won’t give too much away, but these teenagers meet someone new to the facility, Danielle Moonstar, who ends up making friends, enemies, and discovers more about mutant powers.

I saw “The New Mutants” in IMAX Laser this past Thursday. So at one point I thought in honor of this movie FINALLY coming out, after the merger, the delays, the pandemic getting into gear… I would make this review and not release it until early 2022. It’ll be just like creating the movie! But of course, I’d be insane! I’m not going to do that. So, let’s talk about “The New Mutants.” This movie is the latest installment to the “X-Men” universe, even though it really is a spinoff that has just about nothing to necessarily associate with the main franchise. I’ll be honest with you guys. I love comic book movies. I love superheroes. Give me a Marvel or DC movie any day!

…I have not seen one “X-Men” film from start to finish except “Deadpool” and “Deadpool 2.” I’ve seen part of 2013’s “The Wolverine,” but that’s about it!

Although I will point out, if you have not seen any “X-Men” films, it won’t really matter going into “The New Mutants,” which definitely helped someone like me who doesn’t want to waste a ton of time catching up on everything else. Granted, I was able to watch six “Fast & Furious” films in less than a week before watching “Furious 7” in the theater, but “X-Men” seems a little more daunting at this point.

Now, I’ve talked about the Disney Fox merger on here before. I’ve talked about how quite honestly I don’t happen to be a fan of the idea. But, I have no position in Hollywood, I have no power, and I can’t talk to mice. One of the things I respect Fox for is that when it comes to some of their recent work in the comic book movie genre, it has been fairly experimental. Yes, there have been R rated comic book movies before, “V For Vendetta” is one of my favorite films of the past fifteen years! but it doesn’t mean they’re common! “Deadpool” is basically “Family Guy” in comic book movie form. It makes fun of the genre, blockbusters, and takes comedy to another level. “Logan,” even though I have not seen it, is something that I recognize is not your traditional comic book movie. Not only do we get to see an R rated Wolverine, but there’s tons of added foul language, and one of my friends, and perhaps more accurately one of their friends, does not necessarily view “Logan” as a perfect comic book movie.

…They view it as a perfect “movie.”

As for “The New Mutants,” I respect the direction in which this movie was taken, because there’s no other comic book movie like it. The movie takes place in one location for the most part? There’s not really any bad guys?

…Horror? Sign me up!

I really like the vision for this movie as it is not only unique, but also because it barely has excuse to display bloated visual effects for a couple of hours. Now I like my big summer comic book action movies. This movie, like the typical fare, has action, but it’s not like we’re watching big, humongous fights like we’ve gotten in the MCU. I’d even say this movie is a bit more intimate than “Joker” because this film in particular takes place in one spot and has a fairly small cast. If anything, the best way I can describe “The New Mutants” is if “The Breakfast Club” took place in prison. You have these people who are placed together whether they like it or not, they have their individual personalities, and kind of like detention, you might as well wonder when time runs out.

I will say one thing about this movie, I like all the characters. I think Danielle is a well-written newcomer to the facility. I think the other teenagers in the building are also pleasing to watch. The woman in charge of the facility and everyone in it, AKA Dr. Reyes, was not only a likable character, but competently performed by Alice Braga.

I will say though, if there were one standout character in this movie, it would have to be Illyana Rasputin, played by the very talented Anya Taylor-Joy, an actress who I’d personally argue would happen to have 2020 be “her year” by the end of it if nothing else comes out. Then again, I may be somewhat biased… She showed up at a screening I attended. I liked her in “Emma.” “Radioactive,” which is now available on Prime Video, was pretty good. “The New Mutants” is another solid movie featuring said actress. I think overall Taylor-Joy had the best performance, and she played one of the more compelling characters in the movie. I really enjoyed seeing Rasputin and the puppet she carries around. Any scene with those two together is purely entertaining. I think Taylor-Joy does a really good voice transition with it too. I will say, the fact that I like her so much does feel really weird, because she has one of the more dynamic personalities of the group, but at the same time I’m supposed to hate her. Then again, take a movie like “Back to the Future.” Sure, I know Biff Tannen is a complete and total butthead, but he has a good personality that makes me as viewer simply like him. Sometimes movies have likable assholes. Maybe I don’t agree with them, maybe I don’t want to be them or emulate their behavior, but they’re likable nonetheless.

I will say though, even though I don’t have a ton of issues with “The New Mutants,” the biggest problem I will point out is probably the directing. Now, I like the vision of this film. If anything, it should not have been altered in any way. I think the horror elements of this film make it stand out amongst an overcrowded genre, and it’s nice to see a comic book movie that feels fairly intimate. However there was a scene in particular, where the teenagers are sitting around. I imagine all the actors are giving what they can to make sure they give the best performance possible, but I noticed they were having a conversation that quite honestly didn’t feel natural. It’s not the wording, phrasing, or anything like that, it’s more having to do with the way everybody talked. It didn’t feel like actual teenagers talking. There was just a second watching where one or two characters felt like robots, or maybe even exposition machines. Directors have a lot to do. One of the most essential duties of a director is to get solid performances out of their actors. And I think the cast, for the most part, do a good job with their performances. But there was just one scene that stood out to me where nobody felt natural, and I wouldn’t necessarily put any of the blame on the actors themselves.

If you were to ask me, “Jack, would you watch ‘The New Mutants’ a second time?” I’d probably respond with a “yes.” However, if you were to expand on that question and say “When is the second time you are watching ‘The New Mutants’?” I wouldn’t be able to answer to the best of my ability, but if I were to guess, I’d predict maybe when it hits HBO or FX or whatever cable network it happens to hit. I don’t see myself (for now) buying the Blu-ray for this film when it comes out. Talk to me again in a couple months, that could change, because I am an avid collector of comic book movies, and I am willing to expand my “X-Men” collection. But at the same time, even though a lot stood out to me, and I appreciated what made this movie differentiate itself from other entries to its genre, I don’t see myself going back to watch “The New Mutants” instantaneously. It’s rather unfortunate, as I did really like the movie. It was worth seeing in the theater, but it almost feels like a one and done type of deal.

Was this worth the two to three years of delays from April 2018 all the way to present day just to see this movie? I’d say so. It was worth my time. I had fun. If I had any other problems, looking back at this film, there are one or two borderline cheesy lines from one of the characters involving his/her reaction to another character using his/her power. But other than that, this is a pretty good movie, and for comic book movie fans who want to go back to the theater, I think that many of them will be relatively pleased with what “The New Mutants” has to offer.

In the end, “The New Mutants,” which really feels like “The Old Mutants” at this point based on how long it took to put this thing out, is fun, dark, and occasionally spooky. I will admit, horror is one of my weaker spots in my film palette. But I have often expressed my love for comic book movies, and to have one mix with horror and do so with excellence is certainly pleasing. I think the cast is admirable, both as individual performers and as parts of a group, and I hope even though Disney merged with Fox, which could end up equating to a slight loss in creativity if you ask me, we can still get some more experimental comic book films down the road if possible. Again, I enjoy movies like those in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I can’t wait for “Black Widow” this November, and even though I’ve often gotten “Mission: Impossible” vibes from the trailers, it takes a lot of elements from familiar aspects of the genre. I’m just hoping for more originality at this point. I don’t know, it’s just the way I feel. One last thing before I give my official verdict, I was also pleased to know that I happen to live less than hour away from where this movie was shot. Maybe I’ll do a post on that sometime soon if I ever get to see the major shooting location. Just saying. I’m going to give “The New Mutants” a 7/10.

Thanks for reading this review! Next week, guess what? I’m going to see “Tenet” not once, but TWICE! I already have my ticket booked for an early access screening slated for Tuesday! And I’m going again Thursday for IMAX! I cannot wait, this is going to kill! I am almost questioning myself for booking tickets for two different showtimes, but I also don’t care as I am supporting the film industry, my favorite industry, during this trying times, and I get to experience one of my most anticipated films of the year in two vastly different ways. If you want to see more great content from Scene Before, give this blog a follow either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out my Facebook page! It’s been around for over two years, kind of like the delays for this movie! I want to know, did you see “The New Mutants?” What did you think about it? Or, are theaters open near you? Have you gone to the theater recently? What did you see? Is everyone following the rules? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Minority Report (2002): Spielberg Conveys a Deadly 2054

TOM CRUISE MONTH POSTER

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! We have reviewed four Tom Cruise movies so far this month, now let’s make it five! Before we go any further, if you do want to check out my reviews for “Oblivion,” “All the Right Moves,” “Days of Thunder,” and “Top Gun,” you’ll notice that the titles are highlighted, meaning that you’ll find the links right there! These are all other movies that I have previously reviewed for the purpose of Tom Cruise Month, but we’re not focusing on those right now. Instead, we are going to focus on the year 2054, which looks mighty pleasant compared to 2020. It is time to talk about “Minority Report” as we begin our final installment of…

*LIGHTNING CRACK*

TOM CRUISE MONTH

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“Minority Report” is directed by Steven Spielberg (Jurassic Park, Jaws) and stars Tom Cruise (Risky Business, Top Gun), Colin Farrell (Ballykissangel, American Outlaws), Samantha Morton (Band of Gold, Pandaemonium), and Max Von Sydow (Flash Gordon, The Seventh Seal). This film takes place during the year 2054 and is based on the material once created by author Philip K. Dick. In a future where Pre-Cogs can see upcoming murders and related criminal acts, a special police unit is supposed to stop murderers and arrest them before such crimes are committed. Interestingly, one of the police officers themselves is accused of a future murder.

Prior to making this review, I had not once seen “Minority Report.” And at this point, getting to witness something new, even if it is almost a couple full decades old, is kind of a treat. I bought the Blu-ray when I was in Santa Monica, California, and I figured this Tom Cruise Month theme would give me a solid excuse to pop in the disc. Unknowingly, I was aware of this movie’s existence. I mean, sure, I guess I knew the title and everything, but what I did not know was that this movie was the picture featuring Pre-Cogs. Like every other person under the age of thirty, I achieved a great deal of knowledge, or at least a conglomeration of useless factoids, over the Internet. If it were not for YouTuber Jeremy Jahns referencing one specific scene…

“Murrrrder.”

…I would probably not know squat about this movie, or at least acknowledge squat about this movie. So I will say, this movie must have stood the test of time in terms of being recognized in pop culture. Then again, it is a Steven Spielberg flick, and he has a fairly recognizable, prolific, diverse, and masterful library.

By the way, before we go any further, one of the biggest compliments I’ll give to this movie is that the framing is very well done. The scope of “Minority Report” pulls you right in. It does not disappoint. It takes this 2054 type of environment and makes you embrace it. Speaking of which, one of the best shots of this movie, is the first full-on glimpse we get of a Pre-Cog, which is shown in the GIF I would assume you have scrolled through fairly recently. It’s just so clear and crisp. I don’t know why, but the more I look at the shot of that Pre-Cog, the more I want to go into a pool. Although, maybe not until next year, knowing how things are right now. I will say, on that note, even though I really like the way this film looks, it’s not pretty all the way through, because I think the color scheme of many of the shots are a little too somber. Granted, “Minority Report” is not a comedy, it was never supposed to represent the best of times, even though we do get some classy looking cars in the future, but there are some times where this movie doesn’t come off as a soap opera from the script, but the color palette begs to differ. It almost reminds me of the “Point Break” remake from 2015, only this movie is twice as good as that film and in my personal opinion, technically qualifies as a “movie.”

Since this is a Tom Cruise movie, and given how this is the final entry to Tom Cruise Month, let’s talk about Tom Cruise himself. When it comes to Tom Cruise in this film, this is honestly one of his better performances. I think casting was a job well done with this film, not just with Cruise, but with names including Max Von Sydow and Samantha Morton. I bought into all their performances and it helped enhance the movie. I will say though, not that it matters entirely, Tom Cruise with a haircut like the one he has here is probably one of his inferior looks for one of his roles. But that’s just me. Also, if you know me, when it comes to Tom Cruise, I don’t always point out my love and respect for him through his ability to convey a character, even though he’s a respectable actor in that regard, but his motivation to perhaps nearly kill himself. Like some of his other movies, he does his own stunts here. Granted, I never really noticed anything as scary or heart-racing as say his plane hang from “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” as an example, but is nice to know that like some of his other projects, Cruise himself put an effort into the stuntwork.

One of the best parts of “Minority Report” is the concept. You have a special police force trying to stop murderers who are predicted by Pre-Cogs. I think the way that this movie went around executing the concept was worthy of a thumbs up. The movie kind of had me in the beginning alone. I will say when it comes to pacing it does slow down overtime, but the climax is fairly entertaining as well. It ups the pace of the movie when said climax begins, and it makes the viewing experience worthwhile.

Another point of the movie that stood out to me for a reason I truly should have grasped from the very beginning was the score. For the record, the score for “Minority Report” was conducted by John Williams, and I don’t know why for the life of me I didn’t conceptualize that from the beginning. I knew John Williams automatically went hand in hand with the “Star Wars” franchise but for some reason I completely forgot his attachment to Steven Spielberg, the two go together in the same way that Hans Zimmer and Christopher Nolan tend to go together. They have worked on so many films to the point where their coupling has become nothing short of iconic. When it John Williams, I will say, even though there are fractions of the score that I happened to like, it is one of inferior scores. This movie came out the same year as “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones,” another score that John Williams did. And even though I, along with many others, would point out that “Attack of the Clones” is a lackluster installment to the “Star Wars” franchise, there’s a solid chance I would agree with someone that “Episode II,” per usual had a kick-ass John Williams score. When it comes to his 2002 work, “Attack of the Clones” kicks “Minority Report’s” ass. Although, if you want me to go further, even though I barely remember, I do recall not hating Williams’ score to “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” But I have to watch that movie again as it has been forever since I saw it. Sticking with “Minority Report’s” score, I will say I enjoyed it, but if I had to say one standout negative about it, I think it’s a little overbearing on drums. Just a little bit.

Little sidenote, this review is being written in 2020, the year that “Cops” was practically taken off the air for a list of reasons, so I will admit, I did get a slight chuckle seeing that apparently the TV show “Cops” was still relevant in 2054. Just thought I’d point that out.

In the end, “Minority Report” is a good movie, and a likable futuristic vision with a clever concept. However, when it comes to futuristic visions, specifically ones that come from the mind of Steven Spielberg, I much prefer his vision of 2045, which was represented through 2018’s “Ready Player One,” as opposed to his vision of 2054, represented here in “Minority Report.” Then again, “Ready Player One” is based on a book by Ernest Cline, and “Minority Report” is based on a short story from Philip K. Dick, so in reality, it’s not Spielberg’s vision. Nevertheless, I think when it comes to movies that are set in the future from Spielberg, I personally prefer “Ready Player One.” Although I will say, one thought that has been in my head for a little bit about this movie is the desire to check it out once more. Not just because I liked the movie the first time, which I did. But I feel like there are possibly one or two crucial points that I may have glossed over that are worth noticing in the future. If your movie can get me to have a urge to go back and see it one more time, no matter what the reason (unless maybe I want to torture myself), I’d say a job well done is in order. There are better Spielberg movies out there, I’d say there are better Tom Cruise movies out there. But this was worth my time, I didn’t really have any regrets. I’m going to give “Minority Report” a 7/10.

Thanks for reading this review! Thanks to all who showed any ounce of interest in Tom Cruise Month! I will point out that July is coming up, and while I have no real theme for the month, I will note that “Tenet” is scheduled to come out pretty soon, so maybe I’ll review some Christopher Nolan movies if I have the time. I will point out though, given how I have not really paid much attention to this year in film all that much, I do want to give this year’s movies a shot before it is too late. So there is a solid chance that a lot of July’s content is going to be of some 2020 movies that I missed. I’ve got a few on Blu-ray, I can probably check a few movies through streaming if I have the proper account setup. And even though I personally don’t have Apple TV+, there is a movie coming to that service that I might end up reviewing if possible, specifically “Greyhound” starring Tom Hanks. Because who doesn’t like Tom Hanks?! Be sure to follow Scene Before either through an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! Speaking of checking things out, if you want to see some more of my Tom Cruise reviews that are not exactly affiliated with Tom Cruise Month, the links are listed down below. These reviews by the way go all the way back to 2017, my second year of film reviewing on Scene Before. I want to know, did you see “Minority Report?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite John Williams score of all time? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Last Samurai

Risky Business

The Firm

American Made

Mission: Impossible

Mission: Impossible II

Mission: Impossible III

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Mission: Impossible – Fallout