The Aeronauts (2019): The Theory of Ballooning

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“The Aeronauts” is directed by Tom Harper (The Woman in Black: Angel of Death, Peeky Blinders) and stars Eddie Redmayne (Jupiter Ascending, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Felicity Jones (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, The Amazing Spider-Man 2), Himesh Patel (EastEnders, Yesterday), and Tom Courtenay (Doctor Zhivago, The Dresser). This film is based on the 2013 book “Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air,” written by Richard Holmes. This is about a pilot (Jones) and a scientist (Redmayne) as they try to survive in a gas balloon as they attempt to break boundaries for all mankind.

“The Aeronauts” was one of my more anticipated films of the fall. When I did research on this film earlier this year, I figured this would be a fun ride, and I mean that literally. During the summer, I made a big post meant to recap the initial half of 2019 and how it links to my time on Scene Before. In said post, I made a statement about some of the plans I had for October. I wanted to check out “Zombieland: Double Tap,” which I did see. And I also wanted to take a gander at “Gemini Man,” which I didn’t see. Another film on the list of things that I wanted to see then was “The Aeronauts.” After all, it was supposed to release in October, but it didn’t even come out here in the United States until December 6th. This release period by the way is very limited. And I think Amazon thought that the movie would do better if it was released to Prime as soon as possible. By the way, I wanted to go see this in the theater. In fact, I had an opportunity to see it for free, because I reserved a pass for a screening at a theater in Boston, but I ended up not going because it was during a time of a big snowstorm and I was wondering if I would be able to get home easily.

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Also, when I reflect on the buildup period to this film’s release, I recall this being Amazon’s earliest planned attempt at an IMAX run. Having said that, it seems to be true. In the United Kingdom, this released in cinemas during November. This run seems to have included screenings in IMAX and 4DX. This movie was shown in various places in the US, including at AFI Fest this year, where according to Wikipedia, it would show at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX. Unfortunately, as far as I know from research, the movie lost its IMAX run here in the US.

Having seen the movie, I must say, as an experience, Amazon honestly missed an opportunity. They could have marketed the film as the “must-see in cinema experience of the year” or something of that nature. This film is vibrant, lively, and just a joy to look at. The cinematography is nice at times, the visuals have this sense of lifelike magic, and it kind of made me want to go up in the sky. In fact, one thing that I noticed while watching this film, is that the aspect ratio changes overtime. When the balloon launches up in the air, the black bars diminish. This gives a grand sense of scope of the sky. I would have loved to have seen this in a cinema, especially in IMAX to be a part of the amusement park-like experience, which this movie really is. However, the movie does not shy away from building proper characters.

I do not know much about the real life events this movie happens to be based on, but the movie managed make the event feel important yet entertaining. Part of the entertainment has to do with the likable chemistry between Amelia Wren and James Glaisher, played wonderfully by Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne. I think the characters feel like a legit pair for the time and pretty much every scene with them on the balloon was a bundle of joy. This should not be too surprising though because Redmayne and Jones have collaborated in a project before. Even though I haven’t seen this movie in particular, I know they both appear in 2014’s “The Theory of Everything,” which received mostly positive reviews.

Again, every scene with these two in the balloon was hypnotizing and I almost didn’t want them to stop. But how’s the rest of the movie off the balloon? Aside from the opening scene, it’s almost a snoozefest. Not gonna lie, I’m kinda disappointed. This movie is perhaps one of the more badly edited products we’ve gotten all year. Okay, the editing itself is fine, but the structure is what the real problem happens to be.

If I had to compare “The Aeronauts” to anything, it would have be “Suicide Squad” and “IT: Chapter Two.” I say that because one of the core elements of both movies is that they rely heavily on flashbacks. I often joke about this, and I made this joke over three years ago when I originally reviewed “Suicide Squad,” specifically calling it “Flashbacks: The Movie.” Granted, the flashbacks here are not as prominent as “Suicide Squad,” but I think that’s what makes this movie suffer. Even though a movie like “Suicide Squad” is perhaps strangled by its past, I was still able to keep myself awake to whatever past events are being shown on screen. Maybe it’s because of the previously established grand scope, but the events of reality deterred the pacing of the film for me. I was expecting this film to mainly focus on the main event at hand, simply based on the opening. While this may not be the most accurate of comparisons, it sort of reminded me of “Dunkirk,” which was not really about anything except one particular event. Unlike “Dunkirk,” “The Aeronauts” tries to focus on two main characters. Ultimately, this just feels, to me, like it focuses more on the journey overall than anything else.

I enjoyed “The Aeronauts,” don’t get me wrong. But at the same time, it’s seemingly forgettable. The flashbacks almost feel like filler, but there is one that sort of leaves an impact on the film, and sort of foreshadows the danger that lies ahead. Judging by what I said, it might as well be easy to point out that this is the first flashback of the movie. And speaking of films directed by Christopher Nolan, because I just mentioned “Dunkirk,” the very beginning sort of reminds me of the opening scene of “Interstellar.” I won’t go into much detail, but both seem to highlight significant danger, and both do so very well. Speaking of the beginning, the launch scene very much reminded me of a rocket launch that plays out in a space film. It really does come off as something special and extremely important. Given how space travel was not even a thing back when this movie takes place, it is nice to see some sort of equivalent for the time.

But if there is one thing I need to say… Why did they have to alter history and make a gender swap? OK, let me just say, I am for writing history when it is done right. I don’t always watch films for the sake of a history lesson, but when a film is focusing on history, I do expect a certain level of realism and accuracy. Unfortunately, this film fails with that. For the record, Amelia Wren is essentially a replacement for Henry Coxwell, who was part of this real life event the movie tends to go over. I think it’s a bit far for me to say that I felt ripped off, but considering the fact that I didn’t even know this until I was doing my final revisions for this review, I would not lying to you if I told you this lowered my grade for this film. I’m serious. As I was writing this, I already had a paragraph with my score set. Guess what? Just for this, it’s going to be altered!

In the end, I don’t have all that much more to say about “The Aeronauts,” partially because it is rather simple to explain, and to be honest, it’s unfortunately forgettable. Let me just say, it’s better than “Cats.” Definitely better than “Cats.” ANYTHING at this point is better than “Cats!” As gorgeous as this film looks, as stunning as it truly presents itself, it suffers slightly in terms of substance. It’s not a disaster by any means, in fact I had a fun time with it, but if it were paced better and structured differently, I think it could have lead to something that would float higher on the scale. And honestly, I could end up watching this again, but the lack of focus on history was a slight downfall for me, so I’m going to give “The Aeronauts” a 5/10.

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone of a couple updates here on the blog. On Christmas Eve, I am going to be dropping my final trailer (I promise) of my upcoming two part countdown series “Top Movies of the 2010s.” Speaking of countdowns, I want to remind you all that at the beginning of January, I am going to be releasing my top BEST & WORST movies of 2019 lists. Per usual, I am planning on doing top 10 lists, perhaps with honorable mentions, and I will recap some of my thoughts on some of the films I have seen this year. That is unless I reference a film that I have not reviewed, but we’ll have to see how everything pans out in the future. If you want to see upcoming content like this and more, be sure to follow Scene Before! Want to help me out even more? Give this post a like and share with your friends! Speaking of places you can find friends, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Aeronauts?” What did you think about it? Or, what is the most visually impressive movie you have seen in 2019? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019): The Final Word in the Story

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“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is directed by J.J. Abrams (Mission: Impossible: III, Star Trek), who also directed 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” This film stars Daisy Ridley (Peter Rabbit, Murder on the Orient Express), John Boyega (Pacific Rim: Uprising, The Circle), Adam Driver (Paterson, Girls), Carrie Fisher (The Blues Brothers, Family Guy), Mark Hamill (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Batman: The Animated Series), Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina, Operation Finale), Anthony Daniels (I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle, The Lord of the Rings), Naomi Ackie (The End of the F***ing World, Lady MacBeth), Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina, American Made), Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Logan), Lupita Nyong’o (Us, 12 Years a Slave), Keri Russell (Waitress, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), Joonas Suotamo (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Solo: A Star Wars Story), Kelly Marie Tran (Adam Ruins Everything, XOXO), Ian McDiarmid (The Lost City of Z, Sleepy Hollow), and Billy Dee Williams (Batman, Dynasty). This film is the conclusion to the sequel trilogy of the “Star Wars” franchise, bringing an end to the now trendily-named “Skywalker Saga” and follows the heroes we have come to know so far as the Resistance is dwindled. Where do they go next? Wherever they can to face off against the First Order one last time.

Oh, and of course… There’s a REAL LIFE plot to this movie too! After the events of “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi,” audiences are divided! Between playing it too safe in one movie and trying to find unlocked paths in another movie, there is no way to impress every single “Star Wars” fan out there! So now it is the job of J.J. Abrams to bring balance to the “Star Wars” fandom and take on the near impossible task of sticking the landing in terms of directing “Episode IX.”

Now, for those of you who have been following Scene Before for some time, I do have to say, I make an effort to provide as little spoilers as possible for every movie review I do. There may be a case where I either have to or want to put in spoilers for one reason or another, but most of the time, I make an effort to be as secretive as possible in regards to the film’s key points that could potentially alter how one would see the movie if it had been revealed to them beforehand. With that being said, this is a “Star Wars” movie. “Star Wars” is a franchise that I would be eternally heartbroken had spoilers for it come my way. I imagine most of my viewers would feel the same way. So let me just say, this is a SPOILER-FREE review. Knowing that I just saw the movie on one of the earliest showtimes the public can access, I am going to raise my shield to avoid all effects from blasters, lightsabers, pistols, force lightning, and if possible (and I’m not saying I am weak-minded), Jedi mind tricks. So without further ado, let’s talk some “Star Wars.”

The “Star Wars” sequel trilogy has been a mixed bag for me so far. I for one LOVE “The Force Awakens.” I’m not gonna lie, it is one of my favorite “Star Wars” movies for sure. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was a movie I was looking forward to, saw in the theater on opening weekend, and walked out of it feeling like I saw the second coming of Christ on screen. Every now and then I’ll walk out of a movie feeling something inside me that made me feel like I leveled up. That was one of them. In fact, it might even be my favorite movie of 2015. Is it a copy paste of the original “Star Wars” movie? Sure, you can definitely bring up that point. But the thing is, the movie did exactly what a film of its kind needed to do. Deliver crowd-pleasing moments, provide stunning visuals, unleash great characters, start something special, and take you away from reality. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was able to do that. I will admit, I liked “Episode III,” in fact I personally admire it much more than most people, but as someone who looks back at the prequels as a slight step in the wrong direction, what Disney and J.J. Abrams did with “The Force Awakens” was exactly what I believe the “Star Wars” community and fanbase needed. Something familiar, but immensely entertaining.

Then we got “The Last Jedi” which was… Mediocre. Now if you have ever read my initial review for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” you’d know I dug it. The reason being is because as much as I enjoyed “The Force Awakens,” I saw it partially as a throwback. But it’s a good throwback, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind movies or media jumping on the nostalgia train, but I wanted something new out of this “Star Wars” trilogy that could separate them from the other two. As good as “The Empire Strikes Back” is, I was afraid that this movie, like “The Force Awakens” did with “A New Hope,” would be a rehash of “The Empire Strikes Back.” However, based on what the movie provided from a story perspective, that did not seem to be the case. The movie made some bold, expectation-subverting choices. While I admire director Rian Johnson for trying to take “Star Wars” in a new direction, it didn’t pay off. Originally, I gave the movie a 9/10 for the steps it took in finding new storytelling paths, but as I thought about the movie more, I dug it less and less. Mark Hamill is GREAT as Luke though, I’ll give the movie that. I will admit, the film is beautifully directed, it’s wonderfully shot, and the visuals are sometimes incredible. But the screenplay is almost the worst in “Star Wars” history. “The Last Jedi” felt like a passion project that ended up splattering in someone’s face. I will admit, as much as I don’t like Johnson’s vision for “The Last Jedi,” I do think he is a damn fine director with the right project. He made “Knives Out,” which is one of the best movies of the year, and I just saw “Looper,” another film he wrote and directed, and it’s nothing short of dope. I would be SOMEWHAT open to him directing another “Star Wars” project, but not writing one.

Now we’re here! “The Rise of Skywalker” is upon us. I will admit, I did not have the most pleasurable thoughts going into it. But nevertheless, I scored tickets for the first show of the film at one of my all-time favorite movie theatres, so the fan inside me felt ready for this experience. I will admit, some of the trailers were really good, and part of me was curious to see how this saga will end (until Disney needs more money and they make Episode X). What are my thoughts on the ultimate story of the “Skywalker Saga?” The top of Mount “Star Wars!” The height of the force! WHAT? DID? I? THINK OF IT?

Well… uhhhh…. It was better than “Cats.”

To be completely serious with you, I really enjoyed this movie A LOT MORE THAN I THOUGHT I WOULD going into it. “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is up there to me with “Toy Story 4” and “Alita: Battle Angel” as one of 2019’s most pleasant surprises. I could honestly end the review by pointing out that against each and every single odd, J.J. Abrams delivered something watchable. But, ending the review here would be boring, and y’all will probably feel cheated, so let’s move on.

Sticking with J.J. Abrams, he was the right choice to direct this film. I love what he did with “The Force Awakens” as mentioned earlier. And I think those who have complained in the past about “The Force Awakens,” specifically about it playing it too safe might dig this movie a little more than that. Granted, this movie relies HEAVILY on nostalgia. There are many iconic themes from John Williams that are brought back, nods to past “Star Wars” films and TV programs, the return of Lando, and Palpatine is even somehow in this movie. But even with that, this movie introduces quite a few new things. I am not exactly going to go into each and every one of them, but they are there nonetheless. In fact, as someone who doesn’t like “The Last Jedi,” I think the thing about it that I at least appreciate is its willingness to take risks. They didn’t pay off, but they are still risks. This movie was able to take me to my happy place, sort of back to my childhood, while also introducing some fresh ideas. Not all of them worked, kind of like in “The Last Jedi,” but there are some that played into how fun this movie ultimately is.

One thing you are going to hear me repeat often throughout this review is that I won’t spoil something, so bear with me here. But I want to mention that without going into much detail, C-3PO had a bit to do with the movie’s story, and I think this may be my favorite 3PO story yet. In fact, 3PO honestly feels like a necessary character for this movie to go on. And even though he has been in just about every “Star Wars” film so far, this may be the first story where I felt 3PO’s presence was required in order for certain events to take place since the original trilogy, or maybe “The Phantom Menace.” I mean, most of his stories since just involved him being in the movie to have a random character be a comic relief (which he was before, but still) or just give some random perspective of what’s going on. Well that, and he needs his red arm replaced. It’s nice seeing him in the prequels and the last couple of sequel films, but seeing him as a core part of the story here is an utter delight, knowing the legacy this character has overall.

As for our main characters, I think Rey, Finn, and Poe, the main human trio we have come to know so far throughout this trilogy are hypnotizing to watch. Seeing them on screen again was a blast, in fact there is a scene early on between Finn and Poe that might be one of the most ridiculously fast-paced and bonkers “Star Wars” moments ever. Without saying much, it involves the Millennium Falcon. Personally, the scenes involving Rey when she was separated from her friends were a bit more fun than those between her friends. Honestly, there are a few scenes between the main trio, not every scene, but there is one that stands out in particular, where I just began to question the chemistry between them. I know that one of the key differences between this and the other two trilogies is that it is the shortest of the timelines. The original trilogy spans about four or five years and the prequels last even longer. This entire trilogy lasts about a year. It’s kind of mind-boggling if you think about it. Even though you have less time to develop these characters off-screen, it still somewhat unfortunate that the movie’s quality suffered as a result.

Speaking of character flaws, let’s talk about some of the newer additions to the movie. I’m not gonna go too deep into the new characters, but what I can say about them is that they sort of make me reflect upon “The Last Jedi.” What I mean is that whenever a new character in that movie is introduced, it takes some amount of time for me to just want them to disappear. The only new character in that film that really brought something to the table for me was the one played by Benicio Del Toro because he seemed to have some hint of swagger to him. I didn’t like Holdo, I didn’t like Rose (who is much better in this movie better by the way), the force kids didn’t really seem to add much of anything. Kind of like that, the new characters introduced to this film were also kind of forgettable. Granted, they’re better than those introduced in “Episode VIII,” but nevertheless. Nobody made me roll my eyes and no one took away my dignity. Even if the new characters were not that great, you could still tell me that they were in the movie for a reason and I’d probably be on your side.

Case and point, Keri Russell’s character of Zorii Bliss. As the main adventurers are in the middle of their quest, they run into this woman, thus leading to an explanation of her past history with one of the film’s other characters. Again, I’m trying to be vague with this review, because knowing some people, they consider minute details spoilers, so I am going to fulfill those people’s wishes. I like her costume design, and I’ll reiterate, she serves her purpose when the movie needs her, but if she was taken out of the movie, I would probably not care all that much. But, movie’s gotta movie.

Speaking of new characters, I also, to my disappointment, didn’t like D-O, the new green droid that was introduced. I am not saying I was highly anticipating D-O to be the scene stealer of the film or anything, but if there was one character that was probably created SPECIFICALLY for this movie just to get somebody out of the house to go buy a toy, this would be the one. D-O is along for the ride, but it’s another one of those characters that could literally be removed from the script and bring no negative effect to the table. Well, maybe except Disney who won’t be making as much money from people who may go out and buy D-O merchandise in the meantime. It would be fine if D-O had more dimension as a character, but there’s barely anything that I could say about D-O that makes him resemble a character full of personality, and full of charisma. You can make the argument that a character like BB-8 was mainly created to sell toys, but the thing is, BB-8 is charming, serves the plot very well, and doesn’t necessarily feel tacked on. BB-8 has basically been a centerpiece to the films he’s appeared in so far, not to mention this entire trilogy. D-O could have been something special, but the somewhat lackluster writing says otherwise.

I also gotta be honest, and I don’t know if I should be entirely surprised, but General Hux has become more of a joke for each movie that he’s in. Here, it’s almost insulting. He starts out well in this film for the most part, and I was entertained when he was on screen, but as the movie gets a bit closer to finishing its first hour, his character does something that honestly got on my nerves. I am not gonna go into detail about what he does, but I don’t know if J.J. Abrams or Chris Terrio or even Colin Trevorrow years back, when he was scheduled to helm this movie, made this decision, but it come off HORRIBLY when delivered on screen. It felt like something ways off from Hux’s personality and it was rainbows and unicorns kinds of impractical. Some people I know have been somewhat displeased with Hux in “The Last Jedi,” a notion I kind of agree with by the way. However, in that movie, I still got a sense of Hux being himself. He still felt like the same character introduced in “The Force Awakens.” It felt like a sligthly natural progression. While Hux is still kind of himself in this film as well, there’s just a moment where I felt dumbfounded as a viewer watching him on screen.

I’ll say this again, Lando’s back! This is something I was personally rather excited for, because I think Lando is one of the many highlights of the original trilogy. It’s hard to list any bad characters from said trilogy, but if there are any, Lando ain’t one of them. How is he in this movie? Well, without spoiling much, he brings some fun to the table, but he isn’t really in the movie all that much. Is that a bad thing? Given the movie’s story structure, I wouldn’t say that’s a bad thing at all, but if you were expecting a Lando extravaganza, you’re not gonna get that. He plays a somewhat minor role in the film, but all of his scenes are watchable and easy to enjoy.

Now let’s get to this one of the most odd yet interesting additions to this film’s cast of characters, Palpatine. Before we go any further, let me just address that people behind this film have stated that it was always the plan to bring back The Emperor. I honestly don’t know if I buy that. I think that’s just a protective statement to avoid turning audiences off. I would have NEVER envisioned The Emperor coming back for this movie, or the sequel trilogy in the first place. Remember that first trailer for the movie? The one they showed at Star Wars Celebration in April? Once I heard Palpatine’s infamous laugh for the first time, I was shivering to my core. It was something so out of left field at the time, that it made my interest meter for the movie go up a couple notches. At the same time however, the more I thought about it, the more nervous I became. I say that because as much as I love the fact that we get to see Palpatine one more time, I was worried that his appearance here would undermine everything in previously established material. Most specifically, “Return of the Jedi,” which may be his most prominent film. Why? Becuase SPOILERS, it’s been 36 years since that movie came out, WHO CARES? He dies. And it’s not just the fact that he dies that I was worried about, I also felt apprehensive because of the way he died. The ending of “Return of the Jedi” is probably my favorite endings of the “Star Wars” franchise (aside from “Rogue One”), partially because the way The Emperor goes out is chill-inducing. Between the powerful score given by John Williams, Vader’s conflict, Luke’s near-death experience, and the massive stakes at hand, it makes The Emperor’s fate all the more meaningful and emotionally satisfying. Seeing the smoke rise from the pit is a feast for the eyes and ears, and I thought that was a fine bow tie for his character. But no, I guess for some reason he’s returned to the party. I was honestly worried for a number of reasons. Two of which I’ll give here. 1. Again, The Emperor died in a way that was satisfying and the way he went out feels like a way that would be difficult to recover from. 2. The marketing seemed to promise Palpatine, but I did not think it was clear as to how much of him we’d be getting. After all, his voice is heard a lot, but I only remember seeing him physically in probably just one TV spot. That and one of the early posters.

So how was Palpatine? Not bad, to be quite honest. There is no way, at least at this point that I could be convinced that Palpatine was supposed to be the endgame the whole time, but inserting him in this movie was surprisingly solid. I mean, you can make the argument that Palpatine’s character being a centerpiece of all three trilogies in some way bring something to the table, but I’m not sure I’d completely agree. Nevertheless, just about any character interaction with him was tense and had my full attention. Ian McDiarmid played him like Slash can play a guitar! I am not going to dive deep into his character because there is a good chance that any effective thing I can say about him would be somewhere in spoiler-territory. I’ll just say this… He doesn’t just feel like a bad guy who wants to do bad guy things. He legit feels like a threat, as he should, and a necessary part of the film’s overall story and conflict. Overall, I dug him being here.

Speaking of things I dug, one thing that stood out to me at the start of the movie happened to be Rey, and the reason for that is because she apparently is kind of the Jedi definition of a showoff. She has these abilities that I think almost no other person in history could ever achieve. I will admit, when I first saw this, I kind of liked it. This new trilogy has shown was in which the force has perhaps evolved so to have this all powerful being is not completely unbelievable. Again, I already said I dug it, such a comment about liking this might almost be irrelevant at this point. BUT… There are a couple moments where I legit thought I was watching a piece of fantastical and far-fetched fan-fiction come to life. There are some things done with the force in this movie that I do not remember seeing much in “Star Wars” prior to this movie. This movie has a point where it becomes seemingly convenient in terms of how the force works. Sometimes it might be cool, maybe even badass, sometimes it just doesn’t work. There’s a moment in particular between Rey and Kylo on a desert that I want to say I like, but the Movie Reviewing Moron part of me wants to question whatever it was I just saw.

Sticking with Rey and Kylo, they have a number of scenes together in the movie, and there are some neat moments between them. Specifically fights, conversations, and more. Although if I had to list a complaint in the movie that might be my biggest of all, it would have to be this one scene between the two of them at the very end. It’s something that starts off as charming and sweet, and then becomes something that continues to piss me off. I have a feeling that if you are under a certain mindset going into the film you might enjoy whatever it is I won’t talk about whatsoever, but it just didn’t work for me.

Continuing off of what I just said, the final half hour to forty five minutes of this movie is full of fan service. Almost in the same way such a fraction of “Avengers: Endgame” was for the MCU. I won’t go into details about the fan service specifically. Some of it worked and some of it didn’t. Listen, that thing that I mentioned pissed me off in the last paragraph, I AM NOT GONNA SPOIL A THING, but if you pay attention, the thing that pissed me off personally is part of said fan service. And having said that, I almost wonder what the people behind this movie were thinking while making it. Keep in mind, while a good number of people seemed to enjoy “The Last Jedi,” I and many others was not really satisfied with it. This movie, in a way, seems to try to give something to everyone. Whether they liked “The Last Jedi,” hated it. Or whether they liked the other “Star Wars” movies, maybe hated those as well, it seems that a lot of time writing the screenplay went into focusing on elements that made other “Star Wars” screenplays what they are, but also what made “The Last Jedi” liked by certain people. This movie, even though it acknowledges the existence of “The Last Jedi,” sort of feels like an apology letter to viewers for “The Last Jedi.” Having disliked “The Last Jedi” myself, I can’t complain too much, but it feels like a script that is supposed to cater to anybody who ever watched “Star Wars” and admired a piece of it. This brings a complication into the mix. There will be things that will inevitably piss off some people, but there will also be things that will floor those same people in a positive way. For all I know, there could be someone out there that loves all things “Star Wars” that might end up liking EVERYTHING in this movie. I’m sure they’re out there.

I do not have all that much more to say about “The Rise of Skywalker,” but I gotta say as an ending to a nine film saga, this is surprisingly satisfying. I was worried that J.J. Abrams wouldn’t stick the landing, I was worried that I would feel unfulfilled for some reason, or the direction in this film will highlight a completely rushed ending. I gotta say one thing though. As much I enjoy having gotten my own opportunity to see an entire “Star Wars” trilogy with both previously established and newly established characters in theaters, I do not know if this film in particular is as fulfilling overall compared to the ending of “Return of the Jedi.” Again, I’m not going to spoil anything, but that film ended on such a note where the characters many of us have come to love got just about everything that they have come to earn. Admittedly, having seen this new ending, I WON’T GO INTO detail, but one character “acquires” something new that hasn’t been acquired yet that combines fan service and pure emotion. It also solves a complaint. What complaint? Not gonna tell ya. If I ever do a spoiler talk, I’ll be sure to bring this up.

Overall, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is entertaining, visually impressive (which shouldn’t be surprising, it’s “Star Wars”), and one more thing I will mention is this, because I feel I should not leave you all hanging without a mention of John Williams kicking ass with his score. I mentioned earlier that his score is heavily reliant on nostalgic themes, but whenever there is a scene that is heavy on said nostalgia or one that really needs a certain mood, Williams is there to bring the goods. I need time to see where I’ll rank this score, but as of now, this is one of the absolute best “Star Wars” scores I have ever heard. Having witnessed comments about this being the last “Star Wars” score from John Williams, I think he went out with an absolute bang. Williams, this world, nor does a galaxy far far away, deserve you. You are a god, enough said.

In the end, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is a flawed, but simultaneously charming finale to a nine film saga that has been going on for over forty years. Once more, I’ll bring up “The Last Jedi,” and I will say even though that film has glimmers of entertainment, it does not feel like a story worthy of the “Star Wars” name. This sequel is a bombastic roller coaster that is worth seeing, especially if you are a fan of the “Star Wars” franchise because I can probably guarantee that even if you end up not liking the movie overall, there will ultimately be SOMETHING to enjoy. But I must say one thing, and this is probably going to piss off some people.

So I have the unpopular opinion, although over the years I have found this unpopular opinion to be a bit more popular than I anticipated, of “Revenge of the Sith,” the finale to the prequel trilogy, being one of my favorite “Star Wars” movies. Another movie which I consider to be just as great is “Return of the Jedi,” the finale of the original trilogy. If I had to be honest, my thoughts on “The Rise of Skywalker” are not that positive compared to my thoughts on the other two movies I mentioned. I liked it, quite a bit in fact. But if I had to give the honest truth, “The Rise of Skywalker” is my least favorite of the three trilogy finales the saga has had so far. Even with that in mind, it’s still good. At the same time though, this does bring up one positive regarding the “Star Wars” saga as a whole, and a negative as well, depending on how you look at it. The finales of all the trilogies make up the one portion of the saga that is entirely positive in one way or another. Keep in mind, I love all the films in the original trilogy, so the beginning, middle, and end all work there. But “The Phantom Menace” was a fail to start off the prequel trilogy, and speaking of prequel failures, I also wasn’t a fan of the middle act of the trio of films, “Attack of the Clones.” Similarly, this most recent sequel trilogy had the disappointing middle entry “The Last Jedi.” The finales all worked, even this one, to my complete surprise. With that being said, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is worth a watch, especially in a big, obnoxious movie theater with fantastic sound, and I’m going to give it a rather high 6/10. As much as I enjoyed the movie, I think a 6 is a fair grade. Would I watch it again? Oh, you betcha. And technically, this film has some of the best sound and visual effects of the year, which isn’t new for a “Star Wars” film. But story-wise, there is an argument to make that even though I love how quick this movie progresses, it almost gets to that point where it becomes rushed. If the newer characters were better and if MAYBE it tried to focus going down one particular path as opposed to catering to a bunch of different demographics, the score could potentially be higher.

With all of what I just said in mind, this movie honestly has notable flaws, not to mention things that piss me off. But this movie is also satisfying overall, and the many positives of the movie tend to outweigh the negatives. It’s not as bad as I thought it would be, and most importantly, it’s better than both “The Last Jedi” and “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” both movies which by the way, I felt disappointed by. I want to thank everyone for giving a great saga of films to remember. I hope various future “Star Wars” projects work out and I am looking forward to the future of the franchise should I continue to tune in. Thanks for reading this review! Next week is the limited release of the all new war film “1917.” It is going to be hitting theaters everywhere this January, but honestly this is a movie that I need to see as soon as possible because I have a feeling that it is going to be one of the best directed and well-shot movies of this particular release year. It comes out Christmas Day, which I’m busy on, but hopefully I can get my butt in a seat as soon as possible. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or if you want greater access to the blog, use a WordPress account. Be sure to like this post and share it with your friends, and check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker?” What did you think about it? Or, now that the three main “Star Wars” trilogies are concluded, which is your favorite? The prequels? The originals? Or the sequels? You know what, here’s another question. How would you personally rank the three trilogies? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Jumanji: The Next Level (2019): The Kinda Sorta Freaky Friday Holiday Special

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“Jumanji: The Next Level” is directed by Jake Kasdan, who also directed this film’s predecessor, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.” This film stars Dwayne Johnson (Rampage, San Andreas), Kevin Hart (Ride Along, The Wedding Ringer), Jack Black (Kung Fu Panda, Goosebumps), and Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Who). This film is the sequel to the recently mentioned “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” and it continues following the characters we got to know from the last film, a group of young adults who get sucked into a video game and become the the avatars they chose. And in this followup, the main young adult, specifically Spencer, returns home from studying in New York around Christmastime. He eventually goes into his basement and decides to play the “Jumanji” video game once more. This leaves Spencer’s friends bewildered of where he’s gone and leads to their eventual return to the virtual world.

I have been on this blog since 2016, and I have reviewed a good number of movies every year since then, but one of them was not “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.” For one thing, I had little time on my hands for it, there were other movies I was more focused on such as “The Disaster Artist,” I was trying to get started on 2018 in film, I had my end of year countdowns (by the way, stay tuned for my BEST & WORST movies lists of 2019 once the New Year arrives), and I will also add that I saw the trailer for “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” and before that, I heard about the movie’s plot. I wasn’t particular fond with it. I grew up admiring the “Jumanji” film from the 1990s, the one with the horrific board game that brought havoc upon humanity, I loved that movie from a story and spectacle perspective. The ending still gives me chills just thinking about it. When it comes to “Welcome to the Jungle,” the 2017 reboot, I was scared for how it would turn out because it felt like there was going to be significantly less at stake compared to its 1990s counterpart. After all, the movie took place inside a video game as opposed to the real world, where ACTUAL things happen. But to my surprise, I had a rather fun time with “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.” The main cast has terrific chemistry, a lot of jokes inside the video game worked, Jack Black’s performance is up there with some of the finest I’ve seen in a popcorn movie, and here’s a shocker, it felt like there were stakes! Surprisingly, anything that took place in the real world was boring compared to the video game. Granted, when the movie kicks itself into gear and I start seeing lots of Sony product placement everywhere, I cannot help but get irritated.

Speaking of surprises, I honestly think “Jumanji: The Next Level” may be better than its predecessor. I think it has better writing, the ideas are just about as clever as they were in 2017, it’s crowd-pleasing, and I will say that a couple new characters bring a bit to the table as well. Most notably, Danny DeVito (Batman Returns, The Lorax).

In this movie, Danny DeVito plays Spencer’s grandfather, Eddie, and I don’t know how many of you saw the trailers, but without giving much detail, he ends up getting sucked into the “Jumanji” video game, so he manages to become an avatar. To be as blind as possible, the avatar he happens to portray is why I found it hilarious when he asks “Are we in Florida?” Yes, the trailer reveals who he becomes, but I went into this movie fairly blind so I am just trying to go off of my experience.

Now I mentioned that in the last “Jumanji” movie, “Welcome to the Jungle,” I never really liked anything that happened in the real world, and I say this because anything that was spoken or acted out in the real world was never funny, somewhat generic, and it did not have much glamour to it if you wil. All I saw were four stereotypical teens not knowing they were going to escape their boring everyday lives and that’s about it. Granted, I grew to like them, but still. But what made the real world events interesting was catching up with our past characters, because they were reuniting, and even though I have known them for less than a week, I feel like I have grown up with them. After all, they were in high school in the first film, and now they are following their own paths in life. I have a feeling I will have some sort of reunion with somebody down the road that I have known from high school in the future, after all, the holidays are here, making this a good time for it. Plus, I’ll mention once again, speaking of reality, Danny DeVito’s real life character is honestly a highlight of the movie for me. I am honestly surprised at how much I enjoyed watching him, especially when he has a little reunion of his own. This movie goes into a little sideplot (if you can call it that), about a restaurant that he and someone else operated together. This is just a fraction of the interactions DeVito has with the character of Milo, who is wonderfully played by Danny Glover. Both of them have great chemistry and I honestly would not mind a spinoff mini-series on Crackle or something just listening to them have conversations.

But let’s be serious, real life is overrated, and sometimes it’s a video game, it’s just a fact. I do like how the video game manages to go in different directions with its characters and storyline, this time there is a new plot where the characters are after a different object. It’s sort of got similar beats to the previous installment, but it has enough to not feel like a ripoff. As for the villain, Jurgen the Brutal, I thought he was just going to be this cliche bad guy who wants to do bad guy things upon one or two early impressions of him, but even though he may resemble someone with cliches, the way the movie goes about executing his character, specifically towards the end, is a thing of beauty. There is an ongoing scene where our characters are interacting with him and his cronies, it’s not only intense, but also pretty funny. That’s the thing that I will say is amazing about this movie. I know it’s got comedic talent, but to have TWO “Jumanji” movies that aren’t exactly the within the realm of “Jumanji” I have come to know and have BOTH be funny and charming is one of the best surprises I have gotten during my recent moviewatching experiences.

But even though I will point out that this film is better than the original, it doesn’t mean it’s flawless. As much as I really like the climax, it does get a little off the rails towards the end. Granted, there is a bit of that off the rails factor that I like, but there’s also a tad that I found to be too insane. It is a video game though, which often distorts itself from reality so maybe I’ll retract this error eventually. I think some of the pacing could have been fixed, and once again, this is not that big of an issue, but there are some scenes that take place in the real world that feel like they are just inserted at a random point and it almost doesn’t flow. This movie is not that much longer than its predecessor, and even though I found certain portions dull, the pacing is a bit better in that film. The last film felt shorter than what it actually was, but this one just felt a tad longer. There’s also one scene with ostriches that is most certainly trying to get a laugh out of people, but feels like something out of a a horror movie where every character does not know the first thing about common sense. I get it, jokes bring smiles to people’s faces, but so do characters with brains. Nevertheless, “Jumanji: The Next Level” is funny and I would not mind watching it again on a rainy day at home.

In the end, “Jumanji: The Next Level” is exactly as the title suggests, “The Next Level.” The last movie was good, this one is a step up. I think I’ll end up having a little more replay value with this one, but we’ll have to see. The characters, both real and fake, are all a joy to watch. The movie itself is pretty mindless, but also works because it is so mindless. In fact, portions of its creativity perhaps comes from mindlessness. I know “The Rock” is not a GREAT actor, just a muscular man who has a somewhat engaging screen presence, but if I had to compare the performance he gave in “Jumanji: The Next Level” to pretty much anything else he’s done, this may be the best he’s been in terms of solid acting ability. I mean, when you are playing someone that is literally portraying somebody else in avatar form, it requires a little bit of extra effort to maybe be convincing. For that, props to Dwayne Johnson. I’m going to give “Jumanji: The Next Level” a 7/10.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is most likely going to be for “Uncut Gems,” which I saw before reviewing this movie, but I wanted to get this “Jumanji” review out first because it felt like a higher priority. Also stay tuned in about a week and a half, where I will have my review for the biggest movie event of the season, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account for greater access and posts brought directly to your personal feed! Please leave a like on this post, and if you like liking, like… a lot, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Jumanji: The Next Level?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite video game of all time? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Ford v Ferrari (2019): Damon and Bale Blaze to The Finish

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“Ford v Ferrari” is directed by James Mangold (Walk the Line, Logan) and stars Matt Damon (The Martian, Good Will Hunting) as a car designer and Christian Bale (Batman Begins, Vice) as a driver. This film takes place in the 1960s, during a time where Ford Motor Co. was seemingly in a bit of a sticky situation. To get out of it, it is proposed that the company tries to develop a car that could win Le Mans, the 24 hour racing competition in France. Throughout, we get interactions between the two leads as they try to complete the ambitious project handed to them.

“Ford v Ferrari” is one of those movies that just sounds like it would be worth seeing just from hearing what it’s about. The film is based on a true story from over fifty years ago and describes Ford’s efforts to rise to superiority in a realm they don’t traditionally associate with. Plus, racing on the big screen always packs a punch. Now let me tell you about my history of going to the cinema.

The first movie I have seen in a theater is Pixar’s “Cars,” the film where a rookie racecar tries to win a big event and make history, ends up in a three way tie, eventually gets stuck in a town in the middle of nowhere, and must adapt to the current situation and deal with whatever consequences get in his way. I remember when I first watched “Cars” in the theater, one of the things that stood out to me the most that day was the sound. Let’s face it, racing movies are always better in the theater. Not that I have anything against watching them at home, but to hear cars blaze at hundreds of miles per hour through an advanced audio system is orgasmic to say the least. Such a notion can also be applied to “Ford v Ferrari,” whether it was intentional or not. I saw this film at my local IMAX Laser cinema at Jordan’s Furniture, where the sound is perhaps better than any theater I have been to. Although Dolby Cinema at AMC comes pretty close. If “Ford v Ferrari” does not at least get consideration in the sound categories during awards season, then the voters must be smoking something. That’s the only conclusion I can come up with at this point.

Speaking of praise, I have to say the performances in this movie, pretty much all over, are worth saluting. Matt Damon plays car designer Carroll Shelby, who has this swagger to him that kind of makes you like him even before he speaks. Maybe it’s because Matt Damon is, well… Matt Damon. The guy in general just manages to have this charm to him that makes him so damn admirable. Maybe it’s because I’m a Bostonian, I dunno. But Damon plays a character that fits directly within the specific time period. He feels like a guy I would want to have lunch with, kind of like Cliff Booth from “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” or Joel Goodsen from “Risky Business.”

Christian Bale, if you ask me, personally does a better acting job in this film than Damon. And part of it honestly has to do with his physique. Because for starters, Bale lost weight for this film. While Matt Damon is definitely giving a solid portrayal of his characters, looks sometimes matter. Bale’s last role was Dick Cheney, and to hear Bale trimmed himself down for this already gives me a proper first impression. I also really enjoyed seeing his character’s arch as well. One of the main ideas behind Bale’s character is that he does not represent the idea of a team player. Without going into much detail, such an idea made the movie eventually feel charming and to my surprise, heartwarming.

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But if you ask me, neither of the main two actors in this film hold a candle to the performance given by Tracy Letts (Lady Bird, Divorce) who plays Henry Ford II. From the first scene he’s in, I automatically got the sense of who his character truly is, a no nonsense type of boss that will do anything to make sure s*it gets done. Pretty much every moment of his presence was pure joy. There is a scene that takes place where he is discussing what Ford can do to have a place in society, you know that part of the trailer where Carroll is told to “go to war?” Yeah, that one. I imagine that directing had a lot to do with how delivery of his dialogue came out, but seeing Henry Ford II attached to his chair, almost as if his wife happened to be present and he was giving her the silent treatment, was gritty as hell.

I will also say that this film does one thing very well, and I already talked about how immersive the sound is, and that is definitely a win for this film. However, that is not the only way this film ultimately immersed me. As mentioned, “Ford v Ferrari” took place in the 1960s, based on my experience of watching this film, I felt like I was a part of that environment. It almost felt like everyone was into cars, and in a way that is sort of a representation of our history, specifically in the United States. Plus, the fashion styles popped for me, seeing various environments happened to be pleasant, and it almost made me want to be a part of this time period. Because, you know, there is no reality like fantasy. Only… this was reality over fifty years ago.

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Now I know that I’m probably raving about this movie right now, and it is definitely worth seeing in the theater, but I gotta be honest, if there is one thing that I think could be a bit of a turnoff for me personally, it’s the product placement. I get it, some people gotta eat. I understand the purpose of product placement, and bits of it, kind of work. But there are various moments in the film where it gets annoying. I remember one shot just pans over to some advertisement on a building. It feels rather tacked on if you asked me. It’s NOWHERE near as bad as “Uncle Drew,” but that movie was partially responsible because of Pepsi, so there you go.

Speaking of complaints, I’ll have you know that I happened to be at this movie with my mom. She went to the restroom afterwards, and I was waiting outside for a short time. While she was in there, she just overheard somebody else going “That ending sucked.” My mother and I pretty much agreed that such an opinion is perhaps surprising. Partially because, based on recent research, the ending I’m referring to actually happened and is not completely inaccurate. I do want to know if there is something I am missing here, because I thought the ending was awesome. If anybody here did not like the ending to “Ford v Ferrari,” please leave a comment as to why you don’t like it. I seriously want to know. Maybe you’ll bring a new perspective to the table that could change my ways, or maybe I’ll never want to hang out with you. We’ll have to see.

In the end, “Ford v Ferrari” is a fast-paced, epic thrill ride to the finish. The characters are a mix of fun, charming, and gritty. The theatrical experience of going to see this movie is one you don’t want to miss. Yes, “Star Wars” is coming, but if you want a cinema experience that packs a punch and dials the immersion levels up to a 10, “Ford v Ferrari” is for you. I do think the product placement, while it definitely sometimes fits in and makes sense, is on the brink of being forced. Nevertheless, “Ford v Ferrari” is a delight of a movie and should get some attention during the awards season. I do not think it will win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, but do not be surprised if it at least gets nominated. I’m going to give “Ford v Ferrari” a 9/10. Thanks for reading this review! Just this past week, I saw two more movies, specifically “Knives Out” and “Dark Waters.” We are in a fine time to go to the movies, folks! Stay tuned for these reviews, and more great content by following Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out my Facebook page!

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I also have one more announcement to make. This week I’m planning on dropping my possible final trailer for the Top Movies of the 2010s countdowns I’m planning on doing. That’s countdowns, with an s. I’m going to be doing a best list, followed by a worst list the day after. I already started working on them, and here’s hoping that the end of 2019 will not change that list significantly because I’m working really hard on them. The trailer should drop by the 30th of November, but if you want to know my ideal motives, I’m planning on either releasing it on the 28th, which is Thanksgiving, because then your family can talk about something less controversial than politics, or on Black Friday, the 29th, that way you can watch something to relieve yourself of the crowds at the mall. Also, with that in mind, stay tuned for my Top Movies of the 2010s countdowns, coming this January.

I want to know, did you see “Ford v Ferrari?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite racing movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Zombieland: Double Tap (2019): A Presidential Zombie Flick

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“Zombieland: Double Tap” is directed by Ruben Fleischer, who also directed the original “Zombieland” back in 2009. The film stars Woody Harrelson (Solo: A Star Wars Story, The Edge of Seventeen), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice), Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine, Scream Queens), Emma Stone (Easy A, The Amazing Spider-Man), Rosario Dawson (Sin City, Men In Black II), Zoey Deutch (The Year of Spectacular Men, Dirty Grandpa), and Luke Wilson (Concussion, Enlightened). This film takes place, appropriately, ten years after the original “Zombieland.” Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita, and Little Rock are back and they have survived in an America that has basically become zombified. We see them in the White House, continuously living with their current reality as an imaginary dysfunctional family. Meanwhile, Little Rock flees away with a guy which prompts the remainder of the White Household, plus a new teammate, to go find her. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget, there’s zombies.

I first saw “Zombieland” back in 2016, which happens to be 7 years after it came out. While it was not the best comedy of its particular year, I found it to be rather funny. Granted, it also tries emphasize various horror elements, but the more I think about it, it almost feels like a pure comedy. That’s not to say that “Zombieland” is a bad horror movie, but it just feels like it was meant to be funny more than it is meant to be scary. This is why when I saw the marketing a couple times, I was a tad turned off, because it didn’t seem that funny.

Although at the same time, one thing I didn’t consider is a common complaint among various moviegoers. You know how there are a lot of comedies out there that show all the funny parts in the trailer? This movie, at least from my experience, saved a great portion of the funniest parts for the final product. By the way, if you have NOT seen the recent red band trailer for “Zombieland: Double Tap.” DON’T. There’s a moment that is not in the main film, but instead, during the credits. I didn’t watch this red band marketing piece until after watching the movie, but I saw something in there that I would have preferred the marketing team to leave out because I would rather have it be a surprise. Granted, it involves something I knew about going in, but it involves a specific moment that should have been unmentioned for a greater effect.

This is also a warning to all of you who are going to see “Zombieland: Double Tap,” stay for the entirety of the credits. You will not regret your decision.

One of the best parts of the film is perhaps the characters. I say that because they all have lovable chemistry. I mean, it shouldn’t be too surprising. The main cast consists of great actors, all of whom were at least nominated for an Academy Award. Granted, “Zombieland: Double Tap” is not the type of movie that would be going for any acting awards, but it is hard to deny when it comes to being together as a team, the characters tend to shine. You’ve got Tallahassee who is the same quirky, gun-loving redneck we have seen from the first film. There’s Columbus who will stop at nothing to follow his own rules. Little Rock shows up and while she does not have as much screentime as the others, her story in the film is rather interesting. Wichita’s here too, and there’s a subplot in this film involving her and Columbus, it gets nuts. Also, I don’t know how anyone else feels, but to me it feels kind of weird to see Emma Stone in this movie. I say that because I thought based on her last few choices of work, it seems she has increasingly made a transition to Oscar bait material or smaller budget films. Guess she just wanted a change of pace, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Based on how much I enjoyed this film, I should rephrase myself… There’s ABSOLUTELY NOTHING wrong with that.

Much like the first film, I must warn everyone, this is a horror comedy. Although I feel just like the first one, this is more funny than scary. I will also state, personally, this isn’t really a bad thing. Because of level of humor in “Zombieland: Double Tap” is freaking unbelievable. I was with a relatively active crowd, and there’s a good mix of chuckle-worthy, burst out laughing, and kneeslapping moments. There’s even a couple of moments where the crowd managed to applaud.

Sticking with the theme of things that worried me slightly when I was going into this film, let’s talk about Zoey Deutch’s character, Madison. We first see Madison in a surprise moment for Columbus. Specifically, he’s in an abandoned mall and he’s trying to defend himself. From this moment, I’ve gotten the impression that she is a talkative teenager in an adult’s body. I thought as soon as I saw her, she was going to be the reason for me wanting to slap someone in the face as a way of taking out anger towards this movie. I WAS DEAD WRONG. She’s also associated with the dumb blonde stereotype, which gave for PLENTY of laughs. Speaking of funny scenes with her, she is involved with perhaps the most hysterical sex scene I have witnessed in recent memory. I will not go into detail about it, but look forward to it.

The film is incredibly well paced, finely written, and while I’m not sure if this film will get many nominations for cinematography, there is one kick-ass action scene that is all done in one take. The set used for it is incredibly vibrant, which only adds to the overall sense of satisfaction I achieved from watching the particular clip. This movie happens to be shot by Chung-hoon Chung, who also shot 2017’s “IT.” To me, “IT” has good cinematography. After seeing “Zombieland: Double Tap,” there’s a good chance “IT” might as well eat its own heart out. Or in this case, its brains out.

If I had any flaws with “Zombieland: Double Tap,” there are a couple lines that don’t exactly land, and there is a line that happens to be a callback that feels kind of awkward as one particular character responds to said callback. Also, there are certain portions that do become slightly predictable. But even with that, it pretty much fails to detract from the overall fun to be had watching this movie. And again, this is mostly a comedy. I don’t consider it a “flaw” per se that this feels more comedic than horrifying, but if you are going in expecting pure scares or dark vibes, look elsewhere. Then again, I guess I couldn’t go wrong with a fun zombie movie every now and then. Nothing wrong with that in my book.

In the end, “Zombieland: Double Tap” is a sequel worthy of the “Zombieland” name. It may be as good as the original, if not better. It’s fun, crazy, and hilarious. Halloween is coming so there’s a lot of horror material right now in theaters, so if you want your horror fix while also slapping your knees, “Zombieland: Double Tap” is worth seeing. In fact, if you just saw “Joker” and need something light to watch, I would probably recommend this movie even more because you have a transition from something incredibly disturbing and depressing to something absolutely bonkers and energizing. It would probably be a pretty good double feature if you ask me. I’m not sure on my final rating yet, but I enjoyed “Zombieland: Double Tap” just about as much as its predecessor, so I’m going to give it a rather high 7/10. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that next Wednesday, I have an advance pass to the upcoming film “Countdown.” This film is about a nurse who downloads an app that predicts when people would die, only to find out she has three days left before she bites the dust. This sounds like a neat concept, so I am absolutely curious as to how it will be executed. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email if you want notifications about the blog in your inbox, or with a WordPress account to like, comment, and get notifications in your WordPress feed. Stay tuned for more great content, and check out my Facebook page! I want to know, as of this review, there have been a number of advance screenings that have taken place. So, did you see “Zombieland: Double Tap?” What did you think about it? Are you looking forward to it? How does it compare to the original for you? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Black and Blue (2019): The Adventure of the Body Cam

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“Black and Blue” is directed by Deon Taylor (Meet the Blacks, Supremacy) and stars Naomie Harris (Skyfall, Moonlight), Tyrese Gibson (Transformers, 2 Fast 2 Furious), Mike Colter (The Good Wife, Luke Cage), Frank Grillo (The Purge: Anarchy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Reid Scott (My Boys, Veep), and Beau Knapp (Death Wish, The Nice Guys). This film involves a rookie cop working for the police department in New Orleans. She is on a mission where she is forced to do nothing, only to lead to a moment where some real chaos goes down. This “chaos” by the way, is the killing of a drug dealer, who died as a result of the actions executed by cops. Naomie Harris’ character, Alicia West, sees this and now she is on the run, defending her life.

The film experience I had for “Black and Blue” in particular was very interesting, because unlike a good portion of the films I watch when they first come out, I have not witnessed a single piece of marketing for this one. I will admit, I knew a bit about the plot going into it, but as I was reserving my spot in the theater, this was literally the earliest I have known about this movie.

I just want to remind everyone that this movie is not even out until the final weekend of October. I saw this at an early screening where there seemed to be a good amount of people who scored advance passes. So I’m gonna be pretty vague here with this review. When I saw this movie, I was with a pretty active audience. They would gasp, talk to the screen, and burst out into applause at times as if this were an “Avengers” movie. As for me, I was pretty quiet. There were a few moments where I would react to things, but those reactions were nowhere near as obnoxious or as likely to shake the entire room. Then again, I don’t usually watch movies about cops, maybe it’s because the director, writer, and producers weren’t trying to target me specifically. I don’t know. The point is, this movie is not as good as the rowdy crowd at my theater would have made it seem. In a way, this almost reminded me of “Captain Marvel,” which I had the privilege of seeing this year at Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre. It’s a movie that when audiences applauded or reacted to something, I honestly either remained in silence or questioned why this was happening in the first place. There were even a select couple of moments where I had my hands on my face. I did the same thing I when I saw “Venom” last year. If you saw that review, you could tell that this isn’t pretty. But staying on the topic of “Captain Marvel…”

Remember when Captain Marvel takes down Yon-Rong with a laser beam in one hit after he’s maniacally rambling? OK, this sort of thing worked in “Raiders of the Lost Ark!” Here it’s just cheap!

Now I am not going to deny that there are a fair share of “edge of your seat” moments that the movie has to offer, but the fact is that when it comes to characters, not everyone stands out. As I left the film, there are a fair share of characters who I felt their motivations or feelings could have been expressed better and overall the film convoluted itself based on how many characters it tries to handle at a time.

In fact, I’m not gonna get into the ending, but let’s just say that it goes on for a time that is longer than I would have anticipated, and it kind of overstays its welcome. There are a couple of things that I would trim out, clean up, some edits that I might end up fixing and speaking of editing, there are a couple moments in this film, albeit in the category of nitpicky, but it does show a select amount of shots where the cinematography almost looks like something out of a student film. There are a couple of shots I think could have been adjusted, but they have little to no real effect on the movie as a whole. I will admit, I am surprised to dive a little deep into the cinematography of this movie, but speaking of surprises…

Screenshot (28)

Let’s talk about Tyrese Gibson. Looking back, I didn’t think about this that much, but Tyrese Gibson does a really good job in this movie. Gibson plays a character by the name of Milo “Mouse” Jackson, who operates a convenience store. Throughout the film, we come to realize that he is the only one who can help Alicia in her current situation. I might need to watch the movie again to know for sure, but compared to some other movies I have seen him in, he seems a lot more calm and collected here. I almost couldn’t even tell Tyrese played the character he was supposed to portray, which may be one of the best compliments I can give to an actor.

As for the main character, I was rooting for her. There was a point, especially during the beginning, where she kind of came off as the only interesting character in the entire movie. Granted, I would rather watch a movie where I care significantly more about the main characters as supposed to supporting characters, but it does not change the fact that when it comes to supporting characters, they’re either bland or unmemorable. I didn’t flat out hate any of them, but the main characters made me feel like I drank 10 cups of coffee whereas the supporting characters made me feel like someone dropped an entire container of Melatonin pills into my body like Tic-Tacs.

When it comes to other things about the movie worth pointing out, part of why I don’t particularly think this movie is going to be all that memorable as time goes on is because of the pacing. The movie tends to maintain a fast pace throughout and sticks with it. But at times, it goes a little haywire. It feels like the movie eventually goes on a sugar rush and gets a little too bombastic with some absurd happenings. There are a couple of moments where I questioned the logic of the movie, and again I’ll bring up the obnoxious crowd I was with. Take out the lively atmosphere, this would probably be a slightly lackluster movie experience.

To quote YouTube user Jacksfilms…

“Wait why are we clapping? Stop clapping!”

In the end, “Black and Blue” was not even close to insufferable. But it also wasn’t even close to a masterpiece. It’s just… Something. …That exists. The experience was undeniably wild, which may be why I wasn’t exactly bored during the movie. I was silent, and at times, annoyed by certain people who happened to be talking, but it was still like a big movie theater party. I’m wondering how this film will do when it releases at the end of October. It’ll definitely get some people in the theater, but so far, most of the reviews I have seen, specifically from outlets like Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, have not been great. Unfortunately, this review belongs in that category. Based on how much I think I’ll forget this movie compared some other films that came out this year, I’m going to give “Black and Blue” a 5/10. Thanks for reading this review! Next week is the release of “Joker,” which could possibly be THE BEST comic book movie of the year. I’m planning on seeing it opening weekend, I’m probably not gonna go opening Thursday night, because I might make it a priority to see this film with my dad, because I think he may enjoy it. I’ll have to see if he’s busy, but nevertheless, I am here, I am ready, I am game for “Joker.” Bring it on! If you want to see that review and other great content, be sure follow Scene Before! Also, if you are on Facebook, check out my Facebook page, it helps me out a ton! I want to know, did you see “Black and Blue?” What did you think about it? I’m willing to bet at the time of this review, a majority of you didn’t, so let me ask another question. What is your favorite movie featuring Tyrese Gibson? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Crawl (2019): When Life Gives You Gators, Make Gatorade

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“Crawl” is directed by Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes, Piranha 3D) and is produced by Sam Raimi, who is known for directing various horror titles such as “The Evil Dead,” “Army of Darkness,” and “28 Days Later.” I also can’t forget to mention how he helmed all of Tobey Maguire’s “Spider-Man” trilogy. This film stars Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper as a daughter and father who live in Florida, a state known for the magic of Disney World, warm sandy beaches, and of course… stupid people. For all you old-timers out there, please search up “Florida Man” for more information. Anyway, the movie takes place during a massive, boisterous, category 5 hurricane. Throughout said hurricane, Scodelario’s character of Haley is trying to save her father, Dave. Simultaneously, Haley is trying to fend off incoming alligators.

Good thing this guy wasn’t in the movie.

When it comes to “Crawl,” it was never my most anticipated film of the year. I didn’t think it would be a modern day “Citizen Kane” or anything, but walking into this film, all I really asked for was a fun time. In fact, I almost expected “Crawl” to be somewhat similar to last year’s “The Meg.” Why? Because that movie seems to fit into that category of “summertime fun.” It’s a category that I would place certain movies that are not terrible enough to be dumped into an early month of the year, movies that in no way are going to win Best Picture, but they are perfect for witnessing simple, effective stories that can win an audience over for a period of time. The reason why I enjoyed “The Meg” so much is because it kind of knew what it was. It wasn’t trying to be serious the entire time, even though there were slight dabs of seriousness throughout. It just let the audience know that they were going to witness absurd fun.

Although I will say, “Crawl” is not exactly like “The Meg.” It’s got a bit more common sense put into it, but that does not mean it wasn’t good. In fact, one of the biggest strengths of “Crawl” has to do with something that I found to be a bit of a shocker. Specifically, character building. The entire movie hinges on the relationship of the father and daughter, two individuals who have great chemistry and play off each other very well in certain moments. I think the casting choices for both characters are top notch. Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper are a likable duo in a dangerous situation. There were several moments where I managed to root for them and hoped they would get themselves out of peril. As for the daughter, I could definitely tell she really cared about her dad from the very beginning. She really wanted to protect him. And this brings up an interesting reversal of a stereotypical thought I have. Because I know parents sometimes might say they’d do anything to protect their child, but here, we see the child trying to do the same, as if they were the parent, which really makes our main hero an excellently written character.

And one other thing I should point out about “The Meg” is that I occasionally refer to that movie as “what ‘Sharknado’ should have been.” And in some ways, “Crawl” is kind of like “Sharknado.” In fact, more so than “The Meg” because unlike that film, “Crawl” takes place during a natural disaster. But unlike “Sharknado,” I, again, bought into the characters, and when I look back at a film like that, I think it plays out with a tad too much seriousness than I would prefer for a film of its title. But here in “Crawl,” the tone is pretty much on par with what I would expect. Not too silly, not too gritty, just right.

I must also point out that one of the main elements of the film is that the father and daughter not only have to deal with a big storm, but they also have to survive against alligators. A number of moments with these alligators are hypnotizing, full of tension, and it just makes you root for the two leads. And going back to the comparison with “Sharknado,” these alligators are not nonsensical. They feel legit, they don’t look like they were made for a PS2 game. They have a raw feel throughout the film based on their proper utilization.

But I must remind everybody, this movie takes place in Florida, which does make sense because of the alligator appearances during the runtime. However, what does not make sense is the layout of the main house where all the s*it is going down. Why? I’m not saying it’s a bad house by any means. I’m not saying it is poorly designed or decorated, but what I am saying is that Florida homes don’t have basements. A majority of the film takes place in this house with a basement, where the alligators are coming in, water is making its way, nothing is very happy go lucky. I have never lived in Florida, I’ve been a few times, although I’ve never lived there. But I am willing to bet I can talk to almost anyone who lives in Florida, reach out and ask for a tour of their home, and if I asked them, “Hey, can I see your basement?” Some of those people might reply saying I’d probably need my brain checked. But you know what? I like to keep an open mind. So I did a Google search on this. From what I have gathered, it seems some people have pointed out that the practicality for a basement in south Florida is rather low, although it may be a tad more common in north Florida. With that being said, a majority of this film takes place in Coral Lake, which is the area of the main house. Let me just remind you that Coral Lake is in a southern area of the state. Maybe crawl spaces, as opposed to basements are a bit more common there than I would think, but this is still something I need to bring up. As of now, this isn’t going to lower the film’s ultimate score, but even with that in mind, as a guy who lives in Massachusetts… I have questions.

Speaking of questions, let’s talk about the film’s ending. Now, this is spoiler free, but I want to point out that this film ends kind of abruptly. This film is 87 minutes long, and I can see why. I have a feeling that either the two people who wrote this film, the director, or the studio wanted this film to be less than an hour and a half in runtime. And at some point, one person thought in order to guarantee a “satisfying” runtime, someone said to just end the film at whatever point could be imaginable. It kind of reminded me of “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” which is much longer than “Crawl,” in fact it is around two and a half hours. But that film, just like “Crawl” ended in a way that kind of felt rushed. It didn’t make me angry, it just took whatever excuse is possible in order to get to the end credits lickety-split. I was just like, “Alright, that happened.”

In the end, “Crawl” is a fun movie to watch no matter how rainy of a day it is. I felt the chemistry between the two leads. I was able to get past my questioning of reality in Florida. And while it is no masterpiece for the ages, “Crawl” will definitely stand as an appropriate summer movie. Overall, it’s a good time. I’m going to give “Crawl” a 7/10. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that next week I will be going to see “Ready Or Not,” which is a movie about a recently married woman who must partake in a game of hide and seek in order to be part of her new family. I just got passes to an advance screening, and my hype levels are VERY high for this movie right now. The Red Band trailer for it is up there with the best trailers I have seen this year, so be on the lookout for my thoughts on the film! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! And if it is a rainy day, one perfect activity aside from staying in and reading Scene Before, is checking out the Scene Before Facebook page! The Scene Before Facebook page is a great place to stalk the Movie Reviewing Moron before finding out if your friend likes your latest cat picture. Because CATS on social media are brand new! I want to know, did you see “Crawl?” What did you think about it? Or, do you currently live or have you ever lived in Florida? Tell me about it! Most important question though, if you lived in a home there, did it have a basement? I’m absolutely curious right now! Let me know! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

AVENGERS: ENDGAME (2019): Highest Grossing Box Office Movie Ever (My Thoughts)

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! I’d like to start off this post by saying, I’m sorry if this post seems as if it is being put up late. I’ve been busy, I’ve had other posts that got in the way, and I had to (or should I say got to) go see a movie for a post I wanted to get up by the end of this weekend. I have so little time, so much to do! But with that aside, let’s stay on topic! If you have been living under a rock for the past few days, let me just say, 1: I hope you’re enjoying that rock. And 2: Chances are that at least SOME of you may have heard the big news coming out of the movie industry recently. As many may know, Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” has hit many milestones during its theatrical run, but most recently, it hit the milestone to end all milestones (at least in theaters). As of now, “Avengers: Endgame” has dethroned James Cameron’s “Avatar” as the highest-grossing film at the box office of all time. The movie has been in theaters for just about three months, and over the weekend where it was just days away from approaching its three month mark, it made “Avatar” feel blue.

Anybody? I officially quit comedy.

Nevertheless, before “Avengers: Endgame” swooped in, “Avatar,” which in my opinion is a good movie for its visual effects, not to mention a thrilling experience, but a little lackluster on some script elements, had the all-time box office record of $2,789,679,794. As of now, “Avengers: Endgame” is sitting at $2.79 billion! And I knew, from the start, that the record was bound to be broken. Let me just give a list of some records “Endgame” broke before this all happened!

  • HIGHEST GROSSING OPENING WEEKEND WORLDWIDE
  • HIGHEST GROSSING OPENING WEEKEND IN AMERICA
  • FIRST MOVIE TO PASS $300 MILLION ON OPENING WEEKEND IN AMERICA
  • FASTEST MOVIE IN ADVANCE TICKET SALES
  • FASTEST MOVIE TO $1 BILLION (5 DAYS)
  • FASTEST MOVIE TO $1.5 BILLION (8 DAYS)
  • FASTEST MOVIE TO $2 BILLION (11 DAYS, WHICH IS THE TIME IT TOOK INFINITY WAR TO REACH $1 BILLION)
  • BEST THURSDAY PREVIEW
  • BEST OPENING DAY

To me, this record shatter was inevitable as soon as the opening weekend totals were revealed. It might have been inevitable since the tickets went on sale. Remember that virtual line from Fandango? Remember AMC’s site crashing? Never forget… 4/2/2019. This movie not only had legs, but it had a sense of being this big event. After all, this is why I wanted to see the film as early as possible. This is why I bought tickets for opening Thursday! I treated my adventure to “Avengers: Endgame” as if it were an official holiday. You know how some kids count down to Christmas? That was me with “Avengers: Endgame.” Its predecessor, “Infinity War,” impressed me to no end, I declared it to be my 2nd favorite film of 2018, and this made me realize that while it is a cinematic event, it is practically something that I felt was generational. I got into the MCU when I was thirteen years old, back when I started watching the first two “Iron Man” films after recording them and watching them through my DVR. Technically speaking, I watched the original “Avengers” movie back when I was twelve, but I still had little to no realization of what the MCU actually was. I eventually got the concept, and started watching more movies that took place in this cinematic universe that I cannot even believe still exists. It felt like something my entire life has been leading up to. Yes, “The Force Awakens” was a resurrection of a property I have loved for years. Yes, I have been excited for several films from worlds I have never been exposed to before such as “Interstellar.” But as soon as the release date of “Avengers: Endgame” hit, nothing else mattered. Even though I had to go to school and do a final presentation, that was secondary to me. “Endgame” mattered. Although this does bring up one thing. We live in a society where everything feels as if it is supposed to be done in a nanosecond.

We have tiny computers that fit in a pocket. These things have a free dictionary, encyclopedia, and study book all in one! We can preorder whatever the heck we want at Dunkin’ through an app on our phone! We have streaming services that drops an entire season of a brand new show for everyone to watch so they don’t have to wait for the next episode! While I thought it was unavoidable that we would see this film become the biggest in history, there was a point where I thought I should take that statement back because of how many people went to see it when it first came out. Some people went back, but not everybody did. To this day, I have only seen the film in theaters once. As a film critic who needs to review a diverse selection of content, I need to save my money! If I had AMC Stubs A-List maybe I’d go see it again, but I am still debating on whether or not I should get it.

Although there are factors on this film getting people in the theater for a repeat viewing. For one thing, critical reviews helped. Many people related to the film industry praised the film for many aspects, not to mention the reviews that come from the fan side of things. The film received an A from CinemaScore, a 91% audience rating from Rotten Tomatoes, which is 3% less than the combined critic rating, and the film has a spot on the IMDb top 250! The public response to this film is enough to warrant a repeat viewing in some way.

But I do have one question: Did the folks behind this movie use bad marketing to get people in the theater towards the end?

As some of you may know, Marvel and crew put out another version of “Avengers: Endgame” in theaters about a month ago. This was marketed as a “rerelease.” What did this rerelease contain? No additional footage for the movie, but a tribute to Stan Lee, some cut out footage featuring the Hulk, and a preview for what audiences were going to get in “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” If anything, this is almost deceptive because while I was not exactly expecting much out of this rerelease, this brings nothing new to the table. As suggested by Box Office Mojo, the rerelease brought an increase in the movie’s domestic box office totals by 207%. I’m not calling the folks at Marvel Studios frauds. There is new stuff in the rerelease, but… barely. It’s just marketing that feels cheap, instead of calling it a “rerelease,” call it the “After Credits Special” or something.

Although this does bring up something interesting. “Avatar” had a rerelease as well. While not done in the same fashion as “Endgame” since their rerelease happened about 8 months after the film’s original release, it was little less… I guess I can say deceptive. The new cut featured extended footage of the film despite how it was already shown on home video. Nevertheless, it felt like there was a reason for the rerelease to happen based on timing and new content. Plus, let’s bring this up. “Avatar” beat “Titanic,” which is now third place in all-time box office totals, in just a month. Granted, “Endgame” beat “Titanic” faster, but that’s irrelevant. “Avatar” still remained the same film the entire time. The release an of an alternate edition didn’t happen until months later.

And I will still say, “Endgame” is better than “Avatar.” While “Avatar” is a visual spectacle, “Endgame” is that with story. Granted, if you are not familiar with the MCU, I’d say wait to watch this film until you maybe watch some other films in this universe. You would probably still have fun watching this movie, but there’s a good chance that you’d be asking some questions as to what might be happening. I know there are a lot of people, based on discoveries through the past number of years who like to point to “Avatar” as overhyped (which it kinda is), but much like “Endgame,” “Avatar” is a cinematic achievement. Granted, I don’t like how it is one of the major contributors to how we present movies in theaters (digitally). Although it helped bring the 3D craze, which isn’t a complete success, as some of you would also suggest, but there have been a number of movies that I feel have personally been enhanced through 3D technology. Movies like the “Hobbit” trilogy, “Gravity,” and “Oz the Great and Powerful.”

If I had to make a comparison, “Endgame” might start a revolution. Granted, it is a continuation of the superhero/comic book movie craze that has been going on for years now, but it could have sprung something new. And it reminds me of how much credit I also gave to the preceding installment, “Infinity War.” Why? Because that movie was essentially a culmination of a ten year span. While I do think “Infinity War” is the superior film, “Endgame” is not just a culmination, it’s the perfect capper for the MCU itself. Then again, “Far From Home” just came out and we seem to be getting at least two more phases so we’ll see what happens. The revolution I think it could start is the successes of multiple cinematic universes, if not successes, I’m at least expecting a number of attempts to be remembered through the years. However, that is not a guarantee because everyone is flocking to Marvel, but it makes me optimistic about the storylines and quality that could possibly go into future cinematic universes. DC has their own universe that seems to have gotten off to a rough start, but I think it recently turned itself around if you ask me with films like “Aquaman” and “Shazam.” Although I do think “Wonder Woman” is better than most Marvel movies so there is that. Warner Bros. seems to be having some success with their “Conjuring” universe that is quite honestly bigger than I ever thought it would be. And while there was a big bump in the road when it comes to “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” I am still curious to see what else is in store regarding the MonsterVerse.

And I am willing to bet, despite how “Avengers: Endgame” comes out on digital in just a few days, there will still be room for it in theaters. After all, it’s one of those films that kind of resembles why movie theaters were built in the first place. It’s epic, it’s boisterous, it’s glorious, it’s built up for periods of time, and the potential audiences that could show up are immense. And despite the flak that I’m probably going to continue giving the marketing team behind this film for that “rerelease” fiasco, I don’t care because this movie deserves just about every penny it earned so far (despite being released by Disney) just for its quality and ability to entertain.

Nevertheless, I am thrilled to see this in my lifetime because I think “Avengers: Endgame” is an excellent film that deserves tons of praise. I gave the film an 8/10, which still stands to this day. In fact, it’s not even the best comic book movie of the year, that honor belongs to “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” Even with that being said, “Endgame” is a game-changing movie. It feels like the cinematic events to end all cinematic events. Not only was it successful, but quite damn good. I was not alive to see this, but remember “The Phantom Menace?” At the time, that might have been the biggest cinematic event of all time. While there is still a debate on what might be the biggest of all time, “Endgame” is definitely a contender and I am happy to have this film be a part of my life.

Thanks for reading this post, I am sorry if this information appears to be irrelevant at this point, but I’m better late than never. I have a ton of things to do this week related to Scene Before, I was planning on doing this earlier but my review for “Yesterday” got in the way because… well, I had to talk about it. It was too bad to be ignored. Anyway, speaking of reviews, my next post is going to be for my review of Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” I just got back from seeing it in the theater, and I cannot wait to talk about it. It is one of those movies that is gonna be fun to describe to those who haven’t seen it yet. And for those of you who are still thinking about “Endgame” at this point for whatever reason, be sure to check out my review for “Avengers: Endgame,” which I originally posted back in April. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! And while we are on the subject of breaking records. You know what isn’t breaking records? The likes on my Facebook page! Please like my page so you can be on the lookout for Scene Before news, recent content, and maybe I’ll throw in a random thought every once in a while! I want to know, what are your thoughts on “Avengers: Endgame” breaking the all-time box office record? Also, would you say it doesn’t count? Maybe for inflation? The rerelease factor? Something else? Or, how many times did you see “Endgame” in the theater? As for myself, I only saw it once, but once that 4K disc drops, perhaps the exclusive version from Target if you want to be totally specific, I am definitely picking it up! Let me know how insane you are down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Avengers: Endgame (2019) REVIEW

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019): The Truth Is… I Am Spider-Man

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Well, I waited over two weeks, I finally get to say it. “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is directed by Jon Watts (Cop Car, The Onion News Network), who also was the director and one of the writers behind the preceding film in this franchise, “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” This film stars Tom Holland (The Lost City of Z, In the Heart of the Sea), Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Snakes on a Plane), Zendaya (The Greatest Showman, Shake It Up), Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother, Safe Haven), Jon Favreau (The Jungle Book, Chef), Jacob Batalon (Blood Fest, Every Day), Martin Starr (Silicon Valley, Knocked Up), J.B. Smoove (Uncle Drew, Hall Pass) with Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinny, Chaplin) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler, Stronger). This is the 23rd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the second Spider-Man film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the eighth big screen “Spider-Man” film of the 21st century. So much for originality! Yay! This film continues the adventures of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker in a post universe-wide snappening setting. As everyone adapts to a world that has changed forever, Peter Parker and his classmates are going on a field trip to Europe, only to run into chaos through unexpected encounters including Mysterio, and Nick Fury himself.

When it comes to Spider-Man, he is by far my favorite superhero of all time. Spider-Man is the perfect embodiment of your average teenager trying to live a normal life, but various struggles and obstacles beyond their control manage to get in their way. As for Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, my love for him is unbelievable. While I wasn’t the biggest fan of “Homecoming,” I really enjoyed him in other films including “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War.” If I had to a superhero to relate to more than any other, Spider-Man is definitely number one. This is a reason why I really enjoyed a movie like Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2,” because it emphasizes the internal conflict of what Peter wants vs. what he needs. That film by the way, is my favorite comic book flick of all time. And in some ways, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” sort of takes me back to the time frame of Sam Raimi’s films.

Mary Jane has a screen presence in this film that I personally did not expect.

This movie has the result of Sandman getting a makeover due to incoming tides.

Not to mention, the film is freaking awesome!

In fact, you know how “Avengers: Endgame” perhaps stands as the most anticipated film? Like, ever? As the release for “Endgame” got closer and closer, my hype levels increased. Can’t say that for “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” I saw the first trailer, thought it sucked, and while going into the film, I appreciated this film’s efforts to try reminding everyone of the effects of “Endgame,” I was still somewhat nervous. Then I came out of the film, got home, and made the following tweet.

For all I know, this could be due to just seeing the film, my opinion could change, but I felt a bigger impact through the smaller and slightly more individualistic story of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” than I did for perhaps what has been marketed as the biggest geekfest in history. But much like that giant nerdgasm-inducing experience, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is not perfect.

Much like “Avengers: Endgame,” “Spider-Man: Far From Home” suffers from minor pacing issues, but similar to “Endgame,” “Far From Home” has pacing issues which I can live with simply because of everything else that is happening. And this is not an issue in every sense of the word, but this movie has a lot of moments in its script that are incredibly convenient to what is happening on screen. But at the same time, I feel like that is one of the big improvements I can give to “Far From Home” when comparing it to “Homecoming.” Why? One of my biggest issues with “Homecoming” had to do with the script in a crapton of ways, one of which included the unbelievable amount of comedy inserted. And honestly, there was not a lot that landed. When it comes to Spidey’s quips and one-liners in “Homecoming,” they don’t feel as hysterical as they could be. I could tell that Tom Holland was trying his hardest with the material that may have sounded great on paper, but for one reason or another, the jokes just didn’t stick the landing for me. Here however, there seems to be a lot less comedy, and the bits of comedy they have in this film, when present, completely works. Because let’s face it, this movie is the first installment in the MCU that has to reflect on the past couple of “Avengers” flicks, which honestly would present the need for a slightly more serious script. Plus, Sony’s distributing this film instead of Disney. When the mouse is away, the spiders will play!

Also, while I keep talking about “Spider-Man: Homecoming” as if it happens to be the last “Spider-Man” film to be released, keep in mind that we just got “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” which many consider to be the best “Spider-Man” film to date. While I don’t know whether or not I enjoyed this film or “Spider-Verse” more, I can confirm that when I saw “Spider-Verse,” it was perhaps the biggest acid trip of a superhero film I have ever watched. Guess what? I might need to rethink that statement, and I won’t go into why, BUT LET ME HAVE YOU KNOW THAT “SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME” IS ONE HELL OF A DRUG! If you drop acid before this movie, I wish you luck on getting out of the movie theater when the film ends because there are a couple of head-spinning moments that kind of left me speechless.

And you know something? Another shocker for this film to me is MJ, because when I saw her in “Homecoming,” I did not like her, I thought she some clowny individual who barely had a personality. This time there is depth to her, and even though I was nervous back in 2016 when they announced who was playing MJ, specifically Zendaya, she pulled it off in this movie! Mainly because she had a take on it that made the character her own. After all, her name isn’t really Mary Jane, it’s actually Michelle. If she was a redhead, I’d want the character a certain way. But I appreciate Zendaya’s take not only because her character was well written, not just because she did her part with excellence, but because it did not feel like the type of MJ I thought she would be, which would be a black person trying to playing the typical white Mary Jane, almost as if it were a s*itty impression. Zendaya has her individual flair which brought some pizzazz to the final product. Rock on! Granted, seeing her in the beginning of the film was a little sloppy, in fact, that’s not the only issue I have with the start of the film (there are a couple minor moments leaning towards cringe), but as it went on, I began to admire her.

And the surprises don’t even end there, because this time around I actually liked Ned! If you don’t remember my “Homecoming” review, this is what I said about Ned.

“One character in this movie goes by the name of Ned Leeds, he was played by Jacob Batalon, and there was a point in this movie where I wanted some sort of technology that existed which could allow me to jump into a movie’s universe. I could go into this one, find Ned, and give him the finger!”

You know what? Forget about that statement, f*ck it! Because in this movie, Ned is the opposite of annoying. In fact, he’s pretty charming at certain times. There’s this portion of the film dedicated to this relationship he has with this one girl, which honestly, had its ups and downs, but there are moments when I can approve of it.

Also, if anything, it reminded me of the Schmoopie relationship from “Seinfeld.”

And while I won’t dive too deep into this, another problem I had with “Homecoming” that somehow gets fixed here is my displeasure with the AI from that film. Remember Karen? I do. And I don’t like her. While she could have been charming in that film, she had a few quirks that did not sit well with me. Karen does not make a return here and I won’t go into detail, but there’s an AI here that is honestly charming, and even sets up an entertaining and thrilling sequence on a bus.

Moving onto our main character, Peter Parker is back and now the important question is this: What would be a bigger feat for him than going to space? Europe? That’s nothing! Any idiot can fly a plane to Europe! But nevertheless, Parker is vacationing in Europe, and now he has to deal with a side mission, which takes away from whatever relaxation he can get. This is why I really enjoy the character of Spider-Man, because other heroes, specifcally in the MCU, always seem to be built with this sort of drive to save the world. Granted, with an interpretation such as Tony Stark, maybe he’d get a little drained from it and prefer to lay low for awhile like he did in “Iron Man 3,” but there are not many moments where I have seen an MCU hero flat out refuse to do hero work. When the Avengers got together, just about everyone showed up. Thor always seemed to have a knack for defending Asgard with a hammer by his side. Captain America would always be willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good. But Spider-Man… Needs his alone time. While in some instances, I imagine this would make a hero look like a dick or a coward, it works for Peter Parker because he’s just a normal, likable, not to mention, relatable kid. He just wants a normal life despite various perks of being a superhero. In fact, Peter’s story and actions in this film kind of remind me of what is like to be me when I was younger. I had my crushes, perhaps constantly imagined plans to get together with said crushes, and if you know me, they did not work out, and I’m fine with that. By the way ladies, I’m single! Plus, Peter in this film has to deal with following in the footsteps of those above him, which is something that I did think about out sometimes when I was younger. Granted, probably not a lot, but the thought definitely did come up in my head once or twice.

I also really liked Mysterio in this film, they managed to go in a direction with the character that I for one personally did not expect, and as for Jake Gyllenhaal, he was basically perfect casting for this role. I remember back in the day I wanted him to be the next Batman if Affleck were to leave. Granted, he’s not, but still. But even though I never imagined Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio, I cannot help but dig him. He did a really good job, and I love his costume! It’s amazing!

Now despite what the box office can make me think, there are still people out there who have yet to see “Avengers: Endgame.” But in “Endgame,” there is a lot that happens that leads to this film’s events. In fact, the beginning of this film is a tribute to a couple of major characters who have encountered a common barrier in “Endgame.” And this movie, while I won’t go into context, shows off perhaps the most heart-wrenching footage of the snappening I’ll ever see in my life. If you thought that collection of deaths on Wakanda was disturbing, I’ll remind you, the effects to me were personally diminished (although still slightly powerful) because going into “Infinity War,” I kinda knew we were going to see people die. Granted, I didn’t know who, how, or when, but I knew something was coming. What made it really disturbing is that it was just a bunch of innocent people going through their everyday lives. Granted, that was sort of already shown during “Infinity War’s” end credits, but this movie did it better because for all I know it was shot on somebody’s phone or some other everyday camera. It almost reminds me of the found footage movie “Cloverfield” the more I think about it, because in a way, I felt immersed into such a disturbing situation, not to mention from a rather shaky first person perspective.

In the end, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” can be summed up in one word. Fun. It has a vibe that is almost reminiscent of Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” films while also managing to be a product of its own. The movie, in more ways than one, made me feel young again. I talked to death about the relatable teen year experiences this film provided, but I grew up watching Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” films and in some ways, this film managed to take me back to when I was somewhere between 6 to 14 years old. “Spider-Man 2” still stands as my favorite comic book movie ever, but I cannot deny that this is definitely another solid second “Spider-Man” movie. As I was writing this review, I’ve been having a constant debate in my head on whether or not this is better than “Spider-Verse,” and this debate is far from over. I’m willing to bet that this won’t end for awhile. I’d probably have to rewatch both films to know for sure. But if I had to make my thoughts on this film as finalized as possible, I’d say that unlike “Spider-Verse,” I felt that “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” while just as entertaining, if not more, had a greater quantity of issues that stood out to me. So with that being said, “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” despite “Endgame” being a more conclusive chapter to the entire three phase saga of the MCU, is a damn fine way for Marvel to cap off their third phase. I’m going to give “Spider-Man: Far From Home” a high 8/10. I love the constant joke about how we are getting too many “Spider-Man” movies or movies that have Spidey in them. Well, if we’re getting films that are this good, why should they stop making them? I’ll wait for the next “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” and then we’ll revisit this topic later. And I also will say, I almost forgot to consider this about “Spider-Verse,” it basically was a game-changer for the comic book genre in cinema. The animation style was unlike anything I have seen on the big screen up until that point. How many live-action “Spider-Man” films do we have right now? I don’t care about real numbers at this point. Let’s just go with umpteen because it sounds kind of fun. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that next Monday, July 22nd, will be the release date for my final Quentin Tarantino review series installment, specifically, “The Hateful Eight.” I’ll be reviewing this film just in time for Tarantino’s new film coming out next week, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Stay tuned!

Also, if you love “Spider-Man” like I do, or if you simply want to know more of my thoughts on the “Spider-Man” movies, I posted a review for every big screen “Spider-Man” film since the original Sam Raimi flick from 2002. If you want to check these out, click the links down below! Be sure to follow Scene Before through a WordPress account or email so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, I have a Facebook page, if you could do me a favor and give it a like or follow it would be very much appreciated! I want to know, did you see “Spider-Man: Far From Home?” What did you think about it? Or, as painful of a reminder as it may be, this is the first MCU film without a Stan Lee cameo. RIP, by the way. So with that being said, what is your personal favorite Stan Lee cameo? If you ask me, I’d go with the one where he tries to get into Reed and Susan’s wedding in “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer,” Tony Stank from “Captain America: Civil War,” the bus driving scene from “Avengers: Infinity War,” or even though it’s not Marvel, “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies,” which basically takes the Stan Lee cameo and manages fetishize it to the core. Nevertheless, let me know your pick, that way your name will make a random appearance as a cameo in this post! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Spider-Man (2002)

Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Spider-Man 3 (2007)

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Django Unchained (2012): Now You Have My Attention, Tarantino

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Before we begin this post, I want to announce that I officially purchased my opening night tickets for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” which is the latest film from director Quentin Tarantino. I’m going to see the movie in 35mm and I will likely have my review up by the end of the opening weekend. But since that movie is not out yet, I am going to be tackling a couple more Tarantino films from the past including one of the latest additions to the director’s library, “Django Unchained.” I sat down last week, watched the film for the first time, and let me just say, any movie that has Robert Carradine (King of the Nerds, Revenge of the Nerds), chances are I will have some interest in checking out. Without further ado, let’s start the review!

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“Django Unchained” is directed by Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction) and stars Jamie Foxx (Ray, Collateral), Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds, The Green Hornet), Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic, Inception), Kerry Washington (Scandal, Save the Last Dance), Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers, Snakes on a Plane), Walton Goggins (Justified, The Shield), Dennis Christopher (Breaking Away, It), James Remar (2 Fast 2 Furious, Sex and the City), Michael Parks (Red State, Planet Terror), and Don Johnson (Miami Vice, Nash Bridges). This film involves a dynamic duo, specifically a freed slave and German bounty hunter. The freed slave’s main purpose throughout the film is trying to reunite with his wife. To do that, they have to travel to a plantation in Mississippi.

I was pretty excited to watch “Django Unchained” for a number of reasons. As of watching “Pulp Fiction” and reviewing it, I instantly had Tarantino fever. “Django Unchained” had a decent cast including Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio. Plus, while he does not play a major role, Robert Carradine, one of the members of the legendary Carradine acting family, is in this movie. While I may not be invested in said family, Carradine is personally one of my idols simply for being host of “King of the Nerds,” one of the only good reality shows to ever exist. I was pretty much set for whatever Tarantino was going to deliver.

I just want to remind everyone that in the name “Django,” the “D” is silent. But as for my thoughts on the film, I almost feel that in a world where praise can make noise, my praise for “Django Unchained” would be pretty freaking audible. That is not to say that it is as good as “Pulp Fiction,” there are a couple issues I have with “Django Unchained,” including one or two that could be used in comparison to “Pulp Fiction.”

When I watched “Pulp Fiction,” I had my eyes glued to the screen for pretty much the entire picture. Part of me wants to say that for “Django Unchained,” but I’d be lying if I didn’t go without saying that the pacing for “Django Unchained” occasionally becomes a hindrance. The thing that kept me looking at the screen for “Pulp Fiction” was the execution of the dialogue between characters, not to mention actions in between. “Django Unchained,” much like “Pulp Fiction,” is a movie that is very cool to look at. It feels exactly how I would want a western-style film to be. But there are one or two points where I am thinking to myself certain scenes can be executed in a slightly different way for the sake of shortening the runtime or some other reason. Who knows? Maybe it’s one of those things that I will learn to appreciate over a second watch, but it’s hard to tell. It’s not like I became angry with the ways certain scenes went down, in fact, there is one scene in particular past the halfway point that goes on for a long time, and the execution there is brilliant. And that’s the thing about Tarantino that I have come to appreciate over the past couple of films I watched. There are a lot of movies out there that I would criticize for having extended scenes that go on forever, with boring dialogue. There are particular long scenes in this that may have dialogue that some directors and writers could probably leave behind. Tarantino however, seems to be the master when it comes to shoehorning in useless scenes. It’s mind-boggling that I as an audience member could be witnessing a moment of the film that is borderline unneeded, but because of what is being said, it feels like a cherry on top of a sundae!

As for the characters in “Django Unchained,” all of them are well written. In fact, there are some cases where I refuse to call them characters and instead call them “A+ dialogue generators.” I really felt for Jamie Foxx’s character of Django at certain points, and there are times where I managed to find him pretty kick-ass. And such kick-assery is established from the very first scene, which is carried through the entire film with ease. And as far as his chemistry with Christoph Waltz goes, it is taken to the point where I cannot even imagine anybody else playing either of their characters.

By the way, I love this scene.

Amerigo Vessepi: What’s your name?

Django: Django.

Amerigo Vessepi: Can you spell it?

Django: D-J-A-N-G-O. The D is silent.

Amerigo Vessepi: I know.

I dunno, there’s something about that which just randomly screams, “Hey! I kick ass and take names!” And not only do I have to give credit for Jamie Foxx for the way he delivered that line, but I think top credit has to go to Quentin Tarantino, because I imagine he wanted this line specifically in the way which it happens to be presented here. Granted, it is also an Easter egg because this movie was inspired by the 1966 movie “Django,” starring the guy opposite this movie’s “Django” in the conversation above. Specifically, Franco Nero.

Although, even though I said I cannot imagine somebody playing someone else’s character, there’s one exception, but the reasoning for it is kinda crazy. When I read the cast on the Blu-ray case for this movie, I almost thought KERRY Washington said DENZEL Washington, so I cannot currently get him out of my head!

Speaking of things I cannot get out of my head, part of me really wants to see this movie turned into a video game. Why? Because this movie at times is unnecessarily violent, but it is all the better for it. There’s one shootout towards the end in particular that was a giant bloodbath. Said shootout contains a number of satisfying kills, and I would probably would need to rewatch this film, or maybe that scene in particular, but it could end up being in my top 20 favorite action scenes. And it does not take away from any emotion that I had towards the characters, because Django would get himself into a less than satisfying situation that made me admire the other side for how they executed their actions (stylistically), but I was still able to latch onto Django as a character.

I also gotta give credit to the costume and makeup department, especially with the transformation of Samuel L. Jackson. Because in this movie, he does not completely look like Samuel L. Jackson and instead looks more like the stereotype for a retired badass NBA basketball player. Per usual, Jackson is charismatic, plays a well written character, and at this point I’m pretty much repeating myself, I do not see anybody else playing his character. It’s amazing what a little grey hair can do to make a role more convincing.

In the end, “Django Unchained” is a fun ride, and kinda bonkers. Depending on the next movie I watch from Tarantino, he could become my favorite screenwriter of all time, and while this was not as good as “Pulp Fiction,” this manages to have the same Tarantino flair that movie had which I appreciate. This is not to say that “Django Unchained” is a ripoff, but it is just another reason why I happen to admire Tarantino’s directorial choices. He’s edgy, creative, and badass. “Django Unchained” solidifies itself as one of the best films of its year and when it comes to other violent films out there, this makes every other film look like it was made for children. “Django Unchained” kicks ass! I’m going to give “Django Unchained” a 9/10!

Thanks for reading this review! For those of you who want to know my next installment in the Tarantino review series, it is going to be his latest film, specifically 2015’s “The Hateful Eight.” I wanted to see this movie in theaters, but I never got around to it because of competition. Let’s face it, I ended up seeing “The Force Awakens” four times in a matter of two months. Nevertheless, I am very excited, I enjoy a good mystery every once in a while, so hopefully this will be good! As for new releases, I’m still trying my best to get myself to go see “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” I’m wondering if it is gonna be this year’s “Deadpool 2.” It’s a movie that I want to see, one that I am trying extra hard to get myself to see, but for one reason or another, I almost failed to get around to it. We’ll see what happens! Be sure to follow Scene Before 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 ever watch “Django Unchained?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite unnecessarily violent film or scene from a film? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!