Strange World (2022): No Awe, No Wonder, Just Boredom.

“Strange World” is directed by Don Hall and co-directed by Qui Nguyen. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler, Spider-Man: Far from Home), Dennis Quaid (A Dog’s Purpose, The Express: The Ernie Davis Story), Jaboukie Young-White (The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Only Murders in the Building), Gabrielle Union (America’s Got Talent, Think Like a Man), and Lucy Liu (Charlie’s Angels, Kung Fu Panda). This film follows the Clades, a family who must overcome each other’s differences in order to successfully navigate themselves in a space off the map.

Thus far, animation has not been perfect this year. The only real highlight in regard to 2022 animation for me would have to be “Turning Red,” which I watched back in March and enjoyed immensely. In fact, my favorite animation I watched that came out this year is one that technically came out last year, specifically “Belle,” as it released in Japan in July 2021. That movie was so nice that I had to post about it twice. Therefore, I was hoping that “Strange World” could join the ranks of “Turning Red,” or surpass it, and give the genre a boost. “The Bad Guys” was okay. “Lightyear” was fun but it is no “Toy Story.” “Luck” was not perfect. Let’s not even talk about “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank.” I wanted something that could potentially be a medium-defining movie. We had a couple of those last year with “The Mitchells vs. the Machines,” the recently mentioned “Belle,” and Disney’s own “Raya and the Last Dragon.” The good news for those movies, depending on how you slice it, is if they wanted to remain superior, then this is a good day for them. “Strange World” is a movie that should have dazzled me. Unfortunately, I was bored.

Now let me be clear, for the people who ask why I do not like this movie, please note that this has nothing to do with a certain character having feelings for another specific character. If you are looking for another review where the writer disses on the movie because it is “woke,” go someplace else, arrogant scumbags. Scene Before is not the place for that. That said, it is time to talk about why “Strange World” is one of the most underwhelming and snore-inducing animations of the decade.

However, before we get there, I do want to drop some positives. Because the movie does have its moments. The first act, while not flawless, introduces the characters at a quick pace and provides some fascinating setup for what is to come. There is a particular event towards the end of the movie that caught me off guard, but in a good way. The opening song, while short, is kind of a banger. Oddly enough, this does not go for that traditional Disney movie soundtrack extravaganza where every other scene becomes a musical all of a sudden. There is no equivalent to Let It Go in “Strange World.” If you are seeking a musical, look elsewhere. If you are instead seeking a mediocre adventure in unfamiliar territory, look no further.

When your movie is called “Strange World,” that should be code to make a world that looked kooky and fun. However, I had my arms crossed for a good portion of the runtime. “Strange World” had scenes that looked like an escape from reality, but it is not just a matter of how the movie looks, but how it feels. Despite being taken on an adventure to somewhere unfamiliar, I never felt immersed into this world. Part of the reason is because this movie feels like it spends more time building its vast environments as opposed to the characters who are surrounded by said environments. Sure, we get moments where we get to know the characters, but it sometimes comes off as the bare minimum. In addition, the characters themselves are annoying.

Now the characters, for the most part, are well voiced. Dennis Quaid and Lucy Liu are particular standouts as Jaeger Clade (top right) and Callisto Mal (top left) respectively. The voice performances serve their purpose and are in no way problematic. However, I was annoyed by a character that should have been a lovable sidekick, Splat.

I found out that nobody voices Splat (right), so the voice actors are safe in this instance. However, the sounds that Splat makes, while somewhat appropriate, are honestly more headache-inducing than trying to find a parking spot at the mall on Black Friday. I can say this is based on true events. Both as someone who just wanted cheap Blu-rays the other day, and as someone who wanted to have a good time watching “Strange World,” but failed miserably.

Like most animated fare, there is a lesson intertwined that the crew perhaps aspire to deliver towards the children watching the movie. As an adult, I took away a particular lesson that sounded halfway decent. But at the same time, the lesson made for an atrocious story. It is predictable, dull, and worst of all, the three main characters all made me roll my eyes. Whether it was cheap dialogue, selfish motives, or overembellishing what could easily be shown instead of told. There are scenes where the main characters argue, and it had dialogue that should have been compelling, it should have gotten me invested in the scene and where things could go from here. All it did was made me put my hand on my head, begging for the movie to move along.

I watched “Strange World” in a theater that had some people. It was nowhere near its total capacity, but there were some families and kids. Despite the various attempts at comedy in “Strange World,” no one uttered a sound. I could barely hear children chuckling. For all I knew, the children at this screening had a good time. But when your family movie fails to get the family to emote, that is a problem. Although when the movie was over, people did clap. So there is that.

Watching and/or reviewing a Disney movie sometimes has its complexities. Because Disney is not just movies. That is just a small aspect of how they entertain the masses. What goes into their movies often factors into their merchandising, their parks, and so on. While “Strange World” is not a good movie, it was the kind of movie that despite its failed attempts to immerse me, made me think there could be a chance that this would make for a decent theme park ride. I can imagine this universe as a motion simulator in Disney World because it is so otherworldly. Kind of like some of Disney’s other rides such as Star Tours or Pirates of the Caribbean, it feels like going somewhere else. It does not feel like Florida. It does not feel like California. You’re either in space or some vast environment far from home. Unfortunately, I am not reviewing a theme park ride. I am reviewing a story. And despite one or two okay scenes, there was not enough to make me root for the characters or care about what was going on. As a story, this is dull. This is forgettable. This is uninteresting. I wanted it to end. Thankfully the movie not that long, but despite time flying by, I was not having fun.

In the end, “Strange World” is a bit of a letdown. I did not think this movie looked like the next big thing, but it also looked fun. Disney movies, even ones that are lower tier, seem to have glimmers of fun on a consistent basis. When I fail to walk out of a Disney movie, or any movie for that matter, with a smile on my face, that is not a good sign. Let me just put it this way. I had more fun with another Disney film, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” and that is despite the film saying goodbye to a major character (in addition to the actor who plays him) and having a few downer scenes. “Strange World” occasionally made me angry because it looked fun, but it did not feel fun. There is a difference between designing something pretty, and doing something with it that is interesting. This movie felt like a first date with the most attractive woman alive, only to find out she has zero personality whatsoever. “Strange World” is a waste of time and I am going to give it a 3/10.

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

Thanks for reading this review! If you liked this review, check out some of my other ones! If you want to see more animated movie reviews, check out the review I did for “The Bob’s Burgers Movie.” If you want to see more family movie reviews, check out my thoughts on the brand new Netflix film, “Slumberland.” I am planning on seeing a movie this weekend, I am not sure which one specifically, so as to whether “Violent Night” or “Spoiler Alert” is going to be my next review is a total mystery. You will have to find out for yourselves. If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Strange World?” What did you think about it? Or, what is an animation that you saw recently that disappointed you? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Slumberland (2022): Willy Wonka Meets Inception In This Fun But Disposable Family Adventure

“Slumberland” is directed by Francis Lawrence (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Red Sparrow) and stars Jason Momoa (Aquaman, Dune), Marlow Barkley (Spirited, Single Parents), Chris O’Dowd (Big Mouth, Bridesmaids), Kyle Chandler (Game Night, Godzilla: King of the Monsters), and Weruche Opia (Sliced, I May Destroy You) in a film where a young girl finds herself in the fantastical, larger than life dreamscape of Slumberland, where everyone’s dreams and nightmares are literally brought to life. With the help of Flip, a dazzlingly dressed outlaw, she attempts to navigate through a world beyond one’s wildest dreams with the hope to reunite with her recently deceased father.

This is one of the latest movies to come from the popular streaming service Netflix. Right now, the film is currently playing in California and I had the privilege of getting to see a screening of the film at a local theater for free. Despite the film mostly being targeted for streaming exclusivity, the budget is comparable to many theatrical features. “Slumberland” was made for $150 million. This is less than the studio’s recent feature, “The Gray Man,” which cost $200 million. Despite a scene stealing performance from Chris Evans, “The Gray Man” had a script that did not do it any favors. For the record, “Dune,” which Jason Momoa is also in, cost $165 million to make.

Unfortunately, this begs a question. Why does this film look occasionally off-putting? I know that one defense that could be made is that since the film is a streaming-centric release, it is inevitably not going to look as polished as a film that primarily releases in theaters. But as I was watching this movie, some of the green screen looked rather unfinished. Certain areas of the dreamscape feel dazzingly fantastical, but there are also moments that lacked verisimilitude even for something imaginary. It is as if this movie were helmed by Robert Zemeckis, he had limited tools, but still managed to create something with his trademarks. There is a segment in the movie with a ton of vending machines that is perhaps manufactured simply to advertise Twinkies, it kind of turned me off. Not only because it is forced product placement, but because of how artificial it looked. I know this is a movie about dreams, but I can tell you that in my dreams, even if what I am imagining has sparks of fantasy, the backdrop often delivers a hint of realism. It still feels lifelike when I am in it. Then again, what do I know? I am not in other people’s dreams. What can I say? Maybe Francis Lawrence dreams differently than me. Maybe he dreams about people taking 15 minutes to save 15 percent or more on their car insurance.

“Slumberland” is based on the comic strip series “Little Nemo in Slumberland.” Except in this case, the title is changed to match the dream fantasyland, and the main character is a girl. I am not familiar with the comic series, therefore I will not be comparing two and two together. That said, I do like the idea this movie is going for. When I saw the trailer for “Slumberland,” I thought, “Oh, so it is ‘Inception,’ but for kids.” It kind of is that, but there is a little more to it. I am not saying “Slumberland” is as complex or thought-provoking as “Inception” but much like “Inception,” I was intrigued by how “Slumberland” managed to imagine what happens when we dream. One of the things I remember most from “Inception” is when Cobb shows Ariadne the inner workings of dreams and reminds her to never imagine things exactly as they are in real life and instead imagine new places. It reminded me of dreams I remember from my childhood where I visualized going through a local mall. Much of the structure was the same except for the floor tiles, the elevators, and there was a weird-looking McDonald’s nearby. Similar to that, “Slumberland” plays around with dreams that are quite literally what they are. Imaginative. There is an entertaining sequence in the middle of the movie where we see a young woman dreaming she is dancing around all these people with leaves around them. I would never expect that to happen in real life, but when it comes to wild, crazy dreams, this checks some boxes.

I keep going on about the aesthetic of the film, which is sometimes a hit, sometimes a miss. But what about the story? Is that any good? Again, I like the concept. While it does blend some familiar hero’s journey elements, it does manage to at the very least, emit a vibe that could technically qualify as entertainment. Despite my gripes with the design of the movie, it is fun. I think if you have children, this might be an okay watch with them. There are other family friendly stories that came out this year I would flock to first. For example, “Lightyear,” which if we are doing Christopher Nolan comparisons, where in this case “Slumberland” is “Inception” for younger audiences, then “Lightyear” is “Interstellar” for younger audiences.

The highlight in “Slumberland” is the chemistry between the two stars. While this is not my favorite movie or performance from Jason Momoa, I must admit he looks like he a had a ton of fun on set and this gave him a chance to let loose. While “Aquaman” is a film that could easily be described as crazy stupid fun, his character never goes too off the rails. Here, Momoa is occasionally a lovable goofball to the point where I am surprised Dave Bautista or John Cena did not end up taking this role. Meanwhile Marlow Barkley shines as Nemo. She is charismatic, dynamic, and every scene between her and Momoa, and even Chris O’Dowd, had my attention partially because of how she played off of Francis Lawrence’s direction.

“Slumberland” is like a Roald Dahl story, or more specifically, a 99 cent Roald Dahl story. Momoa plays a Willy Wonka-esque character, both in terms of appearance and emotional delivery. Seeing how Nemo found herself in Slumberland and the journey she took throughout the world reminded me of “The BFG,” because you have this young girl discovering this strange place and her new best friend appears just as otherworldly but there is more than meets the eye. Unfortunately, unlike “The BFG” and some of Dahl’s other work, I do not know if “Slumberland” will be worthy enough to have staying power in children’s imaginations. This might be a movie that will remain relevant on Netflix for a short time. Although much like the many dreams we have during sleeps of our own, “Slumberland” will assumingly be forgotten as children and families move onto the next thing. Whether that next thing is “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” “Strange World,” “Avatar: The Way of Water,” or their holiday movie traditions this year. Maybe this will be the year the kids finally get to watch “Die Hard.”

In the end, “Slumberland” is not offensive, but not a masterpiece either. But if you want me to be real, despite its flaws, I had some fun. There are a lot of cool concepts in the movie, but with slight flimsiness in terms of execution. If I had to compare to this film to any other I saw this year, it reminded of Apple TV+’s recent animation “Luck,” which also follows a girl traveling through an unfamiliar world alongside someone she does not know. When it comes to these kinds of films, “Slumberland” is the better iteration of the two, but it is not saying much. Although when it comes to fantasylands, I would much rather immerse myself in the universe of “Slumberland” as opposed to the universe of “Luck.” The manufacturing of dreams is more palatable than the manufacturing of luck. The actors are serviceable in the movie, with Momoa being the standout. There are some occasionally neat sequences, but given that this movie is made for streaming, there are also sequences that highlight its lessened polish. Would I recommend the movie? Barely. I think if you go in with the right mindset, you could have some fun. This movie is not playing in many theaters, but if I were paying above matinee price to watch the movie, it would not be worth it. At the discount price, it might make for an okay experience with some popcorn by your side. I am going to give “Slumberland” a 6/10.

“Slumberland” is now playing in one theater in California, but if you are not in California or would prefer another option, the film is available on Netflix for all subscribers.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for another brand new movie, “The Menu!” I got the chance to watch “The Menu” at a press event the other day, and I cannot stop thinking about it. I will reveal my thoughts on the film in the next couple days. If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Slumberland? What did you think about it? Or, tell me about the craziest dream you remember having. Leave your comments down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Black Adam (2022): The Hierarchy of Power in the DC Universe Does Not Change All That Much

“Black Adam” is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (The Shallows, The Commuter) and stars Dwayne Johnson (Red Notice, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), Aldis Hodge (Straight Outta Compton, Hidden Figures), Noah Centineo (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, The Fosters), Sarah Shahi (Person of Interest, The L Word), Marwan Kenzari (Aladdin, The Old Guard), Quintessa Swindell (Euphoria, Trinkets), Bodhi Sabongui (A Million Little Things, The Baby-Sitters Club), and Pierce Brosnan (Mamma Mia!, The November Man). This film is the latest installment to the Detective Comics Extended Universe, well before the recent transition under James Gunn and Peter Safran. Nevertheless, the film follows an individual who is freed from a tomb after 5,000 years. Being a fish out of water, said individual must adapt to a new world with new friends and foes.

2022 has been an okay year for comic book movies. I liked most of the comic book movies that have come out this year. There have been some duds like “DC League of Super-Pets” and especially “Morbius.” However, the genre has had more wins than losses so far. I will say, regardless of their quality, this year has given me a reason to look forward to various comic book movies like “The Batman” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” The expectations I had for those movies were at the very least, notable. As for how they turned out, both were good, but not great. Although “Black Adam” is an interesting case in regards to hype unlike those two movies. While “Black Adam” may not be as popular as say Wonder Woman, this project had a lot of time put into it, so I was curious to see how it would turn out after all these years. The development of “Black Adam” had been known since the late 2000s. Since then, Johnson has been a busy professional, but I am glad to see him come back to work on this property. At the same time, was the wait too long? It is possible, because every other year, the idea of a “Black Adam” movie became an idea where I would “believe it when I see it.” Well, it is 2022, and now I have seen it. What did I think of it?

Ehh… I guess it is okay…

If you want me to be real, my expectations for “Black Adam,” despite the amount of time that has been put into it, were not high. I was not expecting to be disappointed. Although the marketing was fine at best. When it comes to Dwayne Johnson, I have respect for him as a personality, but he does not always make the best movies. Sure, there are some standouts like “Central Intelligence,” some of the “Fast & Furious” installments, and the “Jumanji” movies. Although he has also made quite a few stinkers like “Rampage,” “Skyscraper,” and “Red Notice.” Despite being arguably the biggest and strongest movie star in the world, he has had quite a few punches he had to roll with. Even so, I find Johnson charming and I look forward to some of the things he does, even if it ends up sucking.

From a general audience perspective, this is the kind of movie that should sell. It is based on comics, which has been a hot trend in recent years. It stars The Rock, who has also been on trend based on his leading and supporting roles. Not surprisingly, the film already made over $250 million worldwide. It may not be making as much money as certain previous DC films, but the film is on track to become one of the biggest of Johnson’s career. Just because the box office is big, at least until “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” slaughters the movie next weekend, does not mean the movie has the strength of Johnson himself. Although I can see why this movie is doing so well with audiences. The action is bombastic, the scope is enormous, and there are some genuinely fun moments to be had here.

This movie is fun, but it is the kind of fun that would I also use to describe certain fast food restaurants. It is great for getting together with your friends to experience something that is it not going to revolutionize the world, but instead something you will mostly enjoy the moment it is in front of you. The dialogue is some of the cheesiest of its genre but the visual effects are pretty enough to have an attractive flair.

Dwayne Johnson, after many years of advertising this movie, saying it will happen, and finally delivering it to the masses, dons the suit of Black Adam, an anti-hero whose main trait is changing his mood either between brooding or stoic. While this may sound like a jab at the performance, I will give Dwayne Johnson some credit for his performance. Every time I watch a performance from Johnson, it comes off like he is playing the same person. Specifically, himself, or some alternate version of such an individual. It is just like Kevin Hart. It is just like Melissa McCarthy. It is just like Tiffany Haddish. Johnson has a tendency to play characters from one movie to the next who would come off as interchangeable if they stood next to each other. While Black Adam may not be my favorite of his characters he has played, Johnson seems to emit a different vibe or deliver another tone when portraying the anti-hero. Maybe it is because Johnson is often seen playing characters whose motivations for good happen to be clear. He is trying to help friends, his family. This time around, he plays a character who is comparatively psychotic compared to say Bob Stone in “Central Intelligence.” Though it is slightly different from some of other roles, I admire Johnson for attempting to play a character with this angle in mind.

When it comes to this film’s characters, that is the element of the film, as disposable as it is, that I am probably going to remember the most. But it is probably for reasons that would work more when it comes to marketing than the film itself. There is nothing wrong with star power, but I am likely going to remember this film because of that more than what happens in the film. I have a strong feeling that the only reason I will remember who the Justice Society is a year from now is the fact that renowned actor Pierce Brosnan plays Dr. Fate. No offense to Hawkman, Atom-Smasher, and Cyclone along with their discount Xaiver Institute where they reside. If Pierce Brosnan was not in the Justice Society, this movie would be just a tad more forgettable than it really is.

“Black Adam” feels like a comic book movie that tries to belong in the 2020s, especially with its attempts to expand a tonally inconsistent cinematic universe. But at the same time, it cannot help but stretch itself back to previous decades. Select scenes reminded me of a wild 90s movie with goofy edits or some notorious 80s film from Cannon Productions like the Sylvester Stallone-starring “Over the Top.” The latter is actually a pretty good example here because of the unlikely bond between the protagonist and a young boy. Although when it comes to this similarity, “Over the Top,” which is not a great movie to begin with, somehow delivers a more appealing edition of such a bond.

Despite my digs at the film, which it earns, I had a halfway decent time with “Black Adam.” But if you had to ask me what my favorite part of “Black Adam” was, I would have a troubling time coming up with a definitive answer. This is not to say the movie is awful. It is to say that maybe that when it comes to DC fare, this is an addition that delivers. but maybe not to its full potential. Even though I did not think the movie was perfect, I had a “favorite part” in “The Batman,” specifically the chase between Batman and the Penguin at the movie’s midway point. I had a favorite part in “Joker.” I had a favorite part in “Wonder Woman.” Despite its flaws, I had a favorite part in “Batman v. Superman.” To me, “Black Adam” is going to be remembered for its wins. But when I use the word “remembered” in this case, I might be a bit generous with that, because there are better comic book movies this year. As far as movies with Dwayne Johnson go, this is not the worst he has done, but it is certainly not his strongest effort either.

If anything, this movie comes off as a visual experience. When I watch movies, I refuse to turn off my brain because as someone who reviews movies, I need to stay focused on what it is in front of me. That said, “Black Adam” feels like a turn off your brain kind of movie. Not to mention a noisy one at that. If you watch this in a premium cinema, I would not be surprised if your auditorium shakes, or at least comes close to doing so. “Black Adam” is basically this year’s “Venom: Let There be Carnage.” I liked both movies, but not for reasons that would make want to watch them in the next month or two. They’re noisy, but they’re also noisy in a way that appeals to the senses. The dialogue is not the greatest, but it has its moments. Although “Venom: Let There be Carnage” in this case would be a better movie because as a turn off your brain movie, it feels simpler. Possibly because of its tightly knit runtime and pacing.

In short, did the hierarchy of power in the DC Universe change? The answer, not so much.

In the end, there is not much to say about “Black Adam” other than it is a movie that easily entertains, but also hardly gives a reason to have staying power. “Black Adam” is not the worst DC movie in the ongoing cinematic universe. That dishonor belongs to “Wonder Woman 1984.” Although it comes off as a massive step down to the previous DCEU film, “The Suicide Squad.” I was not expecting this film to be as killer as “The Suicide Squad,” but I was hoping that it would be good. To say it is good would not be a lie, depending on what your definition of good is. But to say it is memorable is another thing. If I need background noise, “Black Adam” is an okay choice. But if I want to watch a DC movie, I will stick with “The Dark Knight.” Although I would still give this a watch in the theater if you really want something to see, but maybe for a matinee price. I am going to give “Black Adam” a 6/10.

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

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for the brand new movie “Call Jane.” I went to go see the film in theaters last weekend. It is not getting a lot of publicity, but it is a movie that had my curiosity with Elizabeth Banks in the lead role. Whether it had my attention, is another story. If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Black Adam?” What did you think about it? Or, who is your favorite movie star working today? For me, the rule is simple. Give me Tom Cruise or give me death. Let me know your picks down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982): An Emotionally Thrilling, High-Flying, Down to Earth Tale

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Last September, I made a promise to those who follow me on social media that I would do a Steven Spielberg Month! And with that promise comes a review of one of his most famous works, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” I mean, how can I not review this movie? Look at my last minute Photoshopped poster! I am committing to this movie no matter what! That said, “E.T.” is one of the films most people think of when they hear the words Steven Spielberg. It might shock you to know that despite this film coming out before I was born and having such longevity, this is my second time in my entire life watching this film. Is the rewatch worth it? Let’s find out.

“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” is directed by Steven Spielberg (Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind) and stars Dee Wallace, Henry Thomas, Peter Coyote, Robert MacNaughton, and Drew Barrymore. This film centers around a young boy who finds an alien life form. Despite the foreign nature of this being, the boy befriends and communicates with the alien all the while trying to send him back to his planet of origin.

When it comes to Steven Spielberg’s most influential works, there’s often a debate as to what that film might actually be. “Jaws” essentially invented the modern blockbuster. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” spawned an iconic franchise that other exploration and adventure stories often get compared to. “Jurassic Park” is not only often considered to be the best dinosaur movie, but paved the way for CGI heavy cinema as we know it. However, “E.T.” should also be in the conversation. Even though “E.T.” is a story that brings our world together with foreign territory, it is a film that works because of how tiny it feels. And that is despite the occasional scene where things happen away from home. That is despite an iconic moment where we see our heroes fly by the moon. That is despite the punch-packing score by John Williams. This movie is like being promised a small, delicious pizza, but getting a large at no extra charge.

Safe to say, I had a ridiculously fun time watching “E.T.,” and it is easy to see why people are still celebrating it forty years later.

Even if its video game adaptation is cringe.

I only saw “E.T.” once when I was younger, and while I remember various things about it, this viewing truly felt like an initial watch. Like “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” I had the chance to watch “E.T.” at home on 4K Blu-ray. Speaking of similarities to “Close Encounters,” “E.T.” looks surprisingly practical, and that practicality adds a hint of charm to the film itself. If E.T. himself were CGIed, part of me would wonder how off-putting or pixelated that could come off. Thankfully, such an idea remains a mystery.

Speaking of practical, one of the most believable things in the movie is how they handled the connection between Eliott and E.T.. Whether you believe a kid like Eliott would actually take an alien into his home is one thing. As for how they handled the taking of an alien into Eliott’s home makes the journey worthwhile. Seeing their differences in communication provided for glimmers of entertainment. This also goes to show the magic of minimal dialogue, notably on E.T.’s part. E.T. has very few lines in the movie, but each one emits a particular positive emotion that stands out. This is perhaps the film’s biggest strength. The story is simple, but the way it is executed allowed for a great balance of happiness, sadness, and everything in between.

When I look back on my experience of watching “E.T.,” I anticipate to remember select moments where my eyes lit up, and others where my eyes almost watered. And this movie is not short on these. While “Blade Runner” may still be my favorite movie from 1982, I can confirm that “E.T.” is more effective when it comes to inducing character attachments and emotions for everything that is happening.

When it comes to Steven Spielberg’s science fiction slate, I think this is a better movie overall than “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” The biggest strength of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” is not the main character of Roy Neary, as likable as he is. Instead, that honor belongs to the curiosity of Barry, a three-year-old boy. Spielberg is consistent from one film to another in suggesting that children are likely to take steps to determine what strange happenings are going on outside. This consistency is effective because naturally, children are curious. Although for “E.T.,” the child of focus here, specifically Eliott, is the protagonist. His mother, Mary (Dee Wallace) plays a prominent role in the film. However, when it comes to “Close Encounters” comparisons, Mary emits more of the characteristics of Ronnie, who is noticeably less open-minded towards the ongoing alien plot.

If I had to give any problems to “E.T.,” it would have nothing to do with the story. In fact, it is as perfect as can be. I would barely change a single thing about it. That dishonor, instead, belongs to the technical aspects of the film. The film has its highlights from various night shots that look beautiful, a nicely edited action sequence towards the end, and of course, one of the best, not to mention catchiest, scores John Williams has ever done.

“E.T.” came out in 1982. Therefore, after the film’s release, many improvements have been made to how green screen is done. Although you cannot have the improvements seen in movies like “Avengers: Endgame” without the mistakes made in “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” There are a couple flying sequences in this film. At times, they come off as beautiful. John Williams’s score accompanies both of these scenes and allow him to deliver the best music in the movie. However, the green screen, or blue screen in this case, looks obvious. It looks kind of fake. If anything, it makes the shark in “Jaws” look real. I was fully immersed in this flying sequence and nevertheless continue to reflect on it after the movie with positive thoughts. But seeing the landscape move around in the background the way it does is kind of distracting. That said, as far as I know, there is no such thing as a flying bike. Therefore I respect Spielberg and crew for trying to imagine how such a thing could look. The result, per my born in 1999 and viewing in 2022 eyes, is mostly positive.

If I had any other problems with the movie, it would be the first scene between Eliott and E.T. from either an editing or directorial perspective. When E.T. is revealed, we see Eliott react to the sight of the foreign creature. Obviously, he is terrified. I have no problem with the way this is written, but the way it was assembled was a bit jumpy. There are only so many cuts you can do of one person’s face screaming in fear. I think that was a bit overdone.

That said, these are small problems within a film of wonder. The cast is great, the characters are well-written, and the shots are some of the most gorgeous of 1980s cinema. As far as science fiction and alien-based films go, I think Spielberg stepped it up from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” As much as I enjoyed “Close Encounters,” I think I would rather watch “E.T.” again in the near future.

Also, I cannot go on without acknowledging this iconic moon shot. There are few instances in cinema that are as eye-popping as this. There is a reason why this became part of the Amblin logo.

In the end, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” is some of the most fun I have had watching a movie recently. They say that moviemaking is a business, which comes with a double-edged sword. The studios always try to follow the money, and therefore quality is sometimes neglected. Not with “E.T.,” because the movie is the highest-grossing project of 1982 by a long shot. It is one thing to be successful, but to be successful and career-defining is another. This film was a win for Steven Spielberg back in the 1980s, and it is a still a winner today. This is a great film for all ages, and I would not mind putting it on again sometime. I am going to give “E.T the Extra-Terrestrial.” an 8/10.

“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” is now available on VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K Blu-ray. The film is also available to rent or buy digitally, and you can also stream it on Peacock.

Thanks for reading this review! If you want to see another review from this ongoing Steven Spielberg Month event, check out my thoughts on “Close Encounters of the Third Kind!”

My next review in the Steven Spielberg Month series is a 35 year jump in time! This is a film I have not seen yet, I am watching it for the first time for this review, “The Post.” I have heard decent things about this movie. In fact it was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Here is hoping it is good! Also, be sure to stay tuned for my reviews for “Amsterdam,” “Smile,” and “Halloween Ends.” If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial?” What did you think about it? Or, this might be a dumb question, but it is about something stupid so it comes full circle. Have you ever had the chance to play “E.T.” on the Atari 2600? If so, tell me about your experience. I want to know everything. Scene Before is your click to the flicks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for the all new A24 film “Bodies Bodies Bodies!” Stay tuned! Also, be on the lookout for my thoughts on “Beast!” If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Bullet Train?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite of David Leitch’s films? For me, I gotta say of the ones he’s directed, “Deadpool 2” stands out the most. Let me know your picks down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank (2022): A Catastrophically Legendary Failure That Will Make You Hate Cats and Dogs

“Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank” is directed by Rob Minkoff (Stuart Little, The Lion King), Mark Koetsier (Kung Fu Panda, Big Hero 6), and Chris Bailey (X2: X-Men United, Kim Possible) and stars Michael Cera (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The LEGO Batman Movie), Ricky Gervais (Night at the Museum, The Office), Mel Brooks (Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs), George Takei (Star Trek, Kubo and the Two Strings), Aasif Mandvi (The Daily Show, The Brink), Gabriel Iglesias (Magic Mike, Space Jam: A New Legacy), Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of the Galaxy, Shazam!), Michelle Yeoh (Crazy Rich Asians, Everything Everywhere All at Once), and Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers, Pulp Fiction). This film centers around Hank, a dog who aspires to become a samurai. Once given the first glimmer of this goal, Hank is taken under the wing of Jimbo, a once great samurai, as he aspires to fulfill his destiny.

I am going to start off this review by stating something that may piss off some of my readers. I have never seen “Blazing Saddles.” I just have not had the time. In fact, as I started doing this review and refreshed myself through the cast on Wikipedia, I found out that this film is a loose adaptation of Mel Brooks’s well-known western comedy. To add to the similiarities, Mel Brooks even has a role in this film as The Shogun. I cannot confirm how many similarities and differences there are between this film and “Blazing Saddles.” Sure, there are some obvious ones I could make without having seen both films.

“Paws of Fury” is animated while “Blazing Saddles” is live-action. That’s the obvious difference. “Paws of Fury” is more focused on samurai whereas “Blazing Saddles” takes a more wild west approach with its story. In a way, this is almost a reversal of what “The Magnificent Seven” did as a redo of “Seven Samurai.” Because there is a solid chance that “The Magnificent Seven” would not be what it is if it were not for Akira Kurosawa’s creation. There is also a consensus that “Blazing Saddles” would not be made today due to the current climate and there being a greater strive to be politically correct in comedy. Obviously, this movie is mostly meant for families and children.

But children, mostly.

God help us all.

Some make the claim that “Blazing Saddles” is a movie that can not, and maybe should not be made today. They’re right. That is, if you are going to make it into something like this. “Paws of Fury” is the worst animation of the year.

I should not be too surprised that this movie is lacking in any and all luster. Because in my animation reviews, I often talk about Pixar as the gold standard on how you make an animated movie. Literally, this year, they released “Turning Red,” which slaps. And they followed that up with “Lightyear,” which is inferior by Pixar standards, but better than many movies could ever hope to be. They are a tough act to follow, but one thing that often separates Pixar from the competition is the studio’s ability to tell mature stories that do not rely heavily on cheap comedy gags that appear as if they were written for infants.

This movie is from Nickelodeon Studios. I have some nostalgia for Nickelodeon as “SpongeBob SquarePants” was my goto cartoon when I was younger. As I look back on the series, the early seasons had great writing, gutbusting comedy that ages like a fine wine. However, as we get through seasons 4, 5, 6, and so on, all of that trickles down. Every other joke is disposable, some character motivations and feelings come off as over the top, and they sometimes rely on sight gags that go too far. Similarly, this movie is no stranger to toilet humor. You want to know how much this movie relies on toilet humor? The main villain’s motivation literally involves the use of a super-sized toilet. I wish I were making this up. I’ll remind you, there is literally an animated movie called “FLUSHED AWAY,” which literally involves the use of toilets to further the plot, that takes itself more seriously than this when it comes to humor and writing. I think that toilet humor can be funny in doses and depending on the execution. As an adult, it is a bit hard to take it seriously however. Part of it is because it feels like the cop out of comedy. Fart noises can get a laugh, but fart-related jokes are so easy to write. All it takes is one noise. There’s very little effort involved. This movie tries to get creative with fart jokes by the end, but it did not change the fact that the whole concept of the joke felt lazy and forced. As much flack as they get, I think puns have more thought put into them than fart jokes. You might as well say that fart jokes can sometimes be… A pain in the butt.

I’ll see myself out. I have two working eyes.

Overall, “Paws of Fury” is very much that typical hero’s journey structure we’ve seen many times before. The potential hero is an unlikely one, but for whatever reason, the hero will do whatever he can to achieve his goals. On the surface, “Paws of Fury” feels like “Kung Fu Panda” if it were more samurai-based as opposed to martial arts-based. Except that “Kung Fu Panda,” while I remember it having maybe one joke that felt kiddy, did not treat its audience like morons. I already talked about the fart jokes, but this movie also has meta humor infused at times, part of which includes the notion that the flick “is only 85 minutes long.” I noticed over the years that there is a tendency amongst some people, and I include myself in this on occasion, to watch a film on the shorter side. It’s a time-saver, it helps with the attention span, and if you have extra time on your hands, it means you can possibly bang out a couple movies in a single Friday night. Given the frequency in which it appears, I am assuming that meta humor was always the intention from the film’s writers. But when I heard the “85 minutes long” joke, it only made me assume that the writers wanted to rush the project to its end. Like, okay, here’s a throwaway line! Let’s get to that pristine runtime!

This film has a stacked cast ranging from Michael Cera to Samuel L. Jackson to Ricky Gervais to even Michelle Yeoh. This film is not short on big names, and it’s almost as if they prioritized these names to get butts in seats over the story. Don’t get me wrong, just about every cast member plays their part to the best of their ability. Samuel L. Jackson does his best not to get in trouble with the parents who will be dragged by their kids to see this movie. Michael Cera is convincing enough to play a lanky dog hero who kind of sounds like a dork. Ricky Gervais does his best channeling his inner annoyed Golden Globes host personality as Ika Chu, a feline who wants to rid of a nearby impoverished town. Overall, the cast does their best with the stiff and sometimes lazy writing. But it does not change the fact that they are in a movie whose characters are mostly given stiff and sometimes lazy writing. This movie is not offensive, but it is almost uninspired. It feels crazy to say because it has an awesome opening sequence that had joyful Saturday morning cartoon vibes. After that, it’s all downhill. It goes to show that even when you have the competent direction and animation, it is not enough to hide a terrible script.

The one positive I can give this film is that it somewhat reminded me of something I learned in school. It may as well be the film’s takeaway for its younger viewers. There are films out there that unveil unlikely heroes, and this one is no exception. It’s the whole expect the unexpected cliché, but there was a scene that reminded me of a picture where a bunch of animals are given an examination to “climb that tree.” Of course, the monkey is the only one in the group who seems enthused by this order. The penguin, the elephant, the fish, the seal, and the canine are noticeably more hesitant. This idea could be applied to the entire film because it is about a dog who is assigned to watch over a town of cats. The dog is also trained by a cat to become a samurai. This leads to a particular moment in the training montage where we literally see a climbing course. I won’t say much more, but this scene is executed in a way that reminded me of “climb that tree.” It goes to show that there is more than one way to teach or learn something. Although for everything else in the movie, it pales in comparison. The movie is not funny, some of the characters are occasionally annoying, and it is full of clichés that have been done better. Do not waste your time. I have seen other animated movies this year that are better than this one.

In the end, “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank” is certainly legendary. More specifically, a legendary failure. Will kids like this movie? Yes, they probably will. And fortunately, as far as kids movies go, this is better for them than “Tom & Jerry” given how the protagonist is probably a more positive influence on younger minds. But I found myself more annoyed by this movie than anything else. I do not have kids, just to be clear, but would I let my kid watch this movie? Maybe. But I might have to leave the room because I can only take so much. But at the same time, I would worry, because given the movie’s script, it might only dumb down my kid should they keep watching it. Maybe they will grow up with the film, but not watch it past say their teen years. I did not know going in that this was an adaptation of “Blazing Saddles,” but I do know that I am going to give “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank” a 3/10.

“Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank” is now playing in theatres everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed this review, I have another one coming soon! Be sure to stay tuned for my thoughts on “The Gray Man!” If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or a WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank?” What did you think about it? Or, did you see “Blazing Saddles?” What did you think about that? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Thor: Love and Thunder (2022): Taika Waititi’s Second, and Slightly Less Worthy, Thor Outing

“Thor: Love and Thunder” is directed by Taika Waititi, who also directed the franchise’s previous installment, “Thor: Ragnarok.” This film stars Chris Hemsworth (Men in Black: International, Rush), Christian Bale (Ford v Ferrari, Batman Begins), Tessa Thompson (Men in Black: International, Annihilation), Jaimie Alexander (Nurse Jackie, Blindspot), Taika Waititi, Russell Crowe (Gladiator, Cinderella Man), and Natalie Portman (Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, V For Vendetta). This is the fourth installment to the “Thor” franchise, the 29th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the first instance where a character in said universe gets a fourth standalone movie. In this… THORth installment, Thor reunites with Jane Foster, who is now worthy. The two join forces with Valkyrie and Korg to defeat Gorr the God Butcher, a white being whose aspiration is literally in his namesake, the widespread elimination of all gods.

MCU phase 4 is like having a demanding girlfriend. You love her, but you also want to get away from her. Although when you think you are about to leave, you just keep coming back because you cannot see yourself attached to something else. I am not saying I hate the MCU right now. I thoroughly enjoy the MCU, but as I’ve said in my reviews for “Black Widow” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” the whole universe, while still entertaining, is almost homework in disguise. When I was watching “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” I had fun, but I felt like I was being tested on how much I remembered “WandaVision.” You could almost make an argument that “Spider-Man: No Way Home” tests your memory on seven different “Spider-Man” movies at once across three different universes. To be fair though, I am not of this demographic, but I would imagine the general audience would not need to watch all of those other shows and movies in order to understand what comes after. However, their experience would only be enhanced if they did.

There is a notable audience that tends to enjoy “Thor: Ragnarok.” I consider myself a fan of the film after a couple watches. It is not up there with the original “Thor,” but anything is better than “Thor: The Dark World.” If you liked “Thor: Ragnarok,” there is a solid chance you might find joy in “Thor: Love and Thunder.” This should not come as a surprise, as Taika Waititi helmed both pictures.

Waititi may be most responsible for Thor’s current success. If we did not have “Ragnarok,” his arc in followup “Avengers” titles “Infinity War” and “Endgame” may have slightly less meaning. But the best thing about his storytelling abilities is his tendency to perfectly balance light and darkness. I saw “Thor: Love and Thunder” with my dad. When we walked out of the theater, he affirmed, grinningly, that the movie had “something for everyone.” He may be right. After all, this film has comedy, action, drama, and even horror. Without going into specifics, Christian Bale is, on occasion, utterly terrifying as Gorr the God Butcher. The MCU is often criticized for its lackluster antagonists, and phase 4 is no exception to the rule with Taskmaster from “Black Widow” being a prime example of how movies are only as good as their villains. Gorr the God Butcher is not quite Thanos, and if we are judging “Thor” villains, I even think I have a softer spot for Hela in “Ragnarok.” But when you take a character like Christian Bale’s Gorr the God Butcher and place him in a story where Zeus strips gods in public and threatens others by not allowing them to come to an orgy, it is an odd combination. But somehow they make it work.

Speaking of things that work, let’s talk about Chris Hemsworth as Thor. While it took awhile for me to warm up to Thor kind of being the butt of a joke sometimes, I have come to learn that Chris Hemsworth has tremendous comedic chops. Even when the script does him no favors like in “Ghostbusters” (2016), he still manages to give the performance his all. He will practically do anything to make the character of Thor come off as fun. It’s almost like what they are trying to do with Aquaman in the DCEU where he has a somewhat godly presence, but at the end of the day, you might want to flock to the bar with him. It is why I consider Party Thor to be one of the standout characters in the Disney+ series “What If…?”. At the same time though, this movie can be used as an example in regard to jokes going too far. And I do not mean offensive, I mean the joke tries too hard or it goes on longer than it should.

This movie has some weird, but also simultaneously hypnotizing comedy gags. Thor literally talks to his weapons. There’s even a love triangle between them. Not what I would have written but… Okay. Jane Foster spends a portion of the film trying to come up with an epic one-liner that was somewhat hit or miss. There are these goats in the film that feel less like an attempt at comedy and more so a homage to outdated Internet memes. Sure, when they were first introduced, I laughed. But as the movie went along, they became progressively less funny.

One of the biggest surprises in “Thor: Love and Thunder” prior to its release was the return of the recently mentioned Jane Foster. Natalie Portman is a great actress between her work in movies like “Black Swan” and “Annihilation.” Despite the shortcomings of the dialogue, she also did her best in the “Star Wars” prequels. Speaking of shortcomings, one of the flaws of the first two “Thor” films is that her character did not have a ton to do. I liked her better than Kat Dennings’s character, most specifically in “Thor: The Dark World,” but nevertheless. Mostly, she was almost just there to be the love interest, and that was the character’s biggest service to the story. This time, she is an equal to Thor, or Mighty Thor, as she calls herself. That is, if Thor really is the Thor he once was in say “Thor: Ragnarok” or “Avengers: Infinity War,” because he has evolved, slowly but surely, into one of the MCU’s goto gags in recent years. When he was not fighting in “Avengers: Endgame,” the movie focuses on him in a dad bod, playing “Fortnite,” and drinking heavily. That movie’s humor adds substance to its story, much like some of the jokes in “Thor: Love and Thunder.” It is weird to think how much this character has tonally evolved since 2011.

“Thor: Love and Thunder” has some good humor here and there, but I think of all the Marvel Studios films so far, this is the one I think feels the most kiddy out of them all. It is weird to say because the film has a butt shot of Chris Hemsworth and an ongoing orgy-related threat, but this was one of the first times I can remember watching an MCU film and having it feel this much like a Saturday morning cartoon. I am not saying I did not experience Saturday morning cartoon vibes in the MCU before. “Thor: Ragnarok,” the “Spider-Man” movies, and “Guardians of the Galaxy” are all great examples of this vibe. But in the case of those films, the Saturday morning cartoon vibe, minus say “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” was presented more effectively, perhaps more maturely.

While this fourth “Thor” movie flashes back to its predecessors and revisits multiple characters across various stories, I can say that a notable positive I can give to “Thor: Love and Thunder” is that it does not require any prerequisites. You can go into this movie not having seen a single “Thor,” “Avengers,” or MCU installment and have a good time. Yes, the Guardians of the Galaxy show up, but it is not like they are going to test you on the complexities of Groot’s language or something. This is a contained story from start to finish and while it may be referenced later in the MCU, it does not come off as a tale told by gatekeepers. Ultimately, “Thor: Love and Thunder” may be the most stupid fun movie the MCU has given us so far.

If have to be real though, despite this movie being stupid fun, it kind of comes with a caveat. Before “Thor: Ragnarok” came out, the “Thor” movies were comparatively serious. They had their jokey moments. The first film is a fish out of water story that lends itself to tons of humor, and it worked. The second movie had many comedy attempts, but I can only recall one or two that stuck the landing. With “Ragnarok” and now “Love and Thunder,” we have Taika Waititi’s zany touch. I was not particularly fond of the humor in “Ragnarok” when I first saw it, but after rewatching the film, I warmed up to it. Therefore, during this movie, I was looking forward to seeing what the attempts at humor could be. Compared to “Ragnarok,” they’re a bit flat. Once again, some work, but the ones that do not happen to stand out. The goats were funny the first time, but maybe not the fifth or sixth time.

When I think of “Ragnarok,” certain hysterical moments come to mind. “Get help” is one of the funniest gags in recent action movies. The chemistry between Thor and Banner, Hulked up or not, is worthy of my attention. Stan Lee’s cameo where he cuts Thor’s hair is not only crucial to the plot, but gutbusting. So, what does Taika have in mind for this movie? A rock n’ roll-infused opening action sequence where Thor, almost egomaniacally, saves the day. There’s literally a moment where he stops two vehicles from running into him by doing a split. The image is still in my mind. In the moment, I thought that split was hilarious. But it also makes me realize how dramatic of a shift these movies have taken over the years. The first two movies are mature, with the original almost successfully capturing Shakespearean drama vibes. “Thor: Ragnarok,” while still having maturity in it, contains many comedy gags that nearly conflict with some of the movie’s darker moments. The same can be said for “Love and Thunder,” but the comedy is a bigger star than before.

Note how I said bigger, not better. There’s a difference.

“Thor: Love and Thunder” reminds me of “The Fate of the Furious.” I say so because like “Love and Thunder,” I had fun with “The Fate of the Furious,” but there is a certain amount of absurdity in that film that feels more leveled up than say “Fast Five” which jumped the shark, but was comparatively believable. “Thor: Ragnarok” was a ridiculous fun time with great humor and some logic-defying, but still entertaining moments. As the saying in Hollywood goes, bigger is better. Or is it? Because if you liked “Thor: Ragnarok,” chances are that this movie has twice the silliness. While laughter is the best medicine, this movie shows that comedic overdoses may be possible.

Before we dive into the final verdict, I want to talk about the visual effects of “Thor: Love and Thunder.” I am not going to dive into the recent news regarding visual effects employees struggling to work for Marvel. That is another issue, perhaps for another time. But on the surface, most of the visual effects in this film matches the recently mentioned Saturday morning cartoon vibe. Everything is bright, colorful, vivid, and sometimes gargantuan. I do want to note though that there have been some concerns about Marvel’s visual effects as of late in movies like “Black Widow.” I think if you are in the general audience, you might not care. I will admit, it has been awhile since I have seen “Black Widow” to give a detailed comment. However, I remember some of the effects in that film are surprisingly inferior to say “Captain America: Civil War,” which came out five years before. “Thor: Love and Thunder,” for the most part, looks great. But as far as “Thor” movies go, it might be the worst looking one yet if you pinpoint select shots.

While I said I will not dive too deep into the struggles of working in visual effects, I think we are seeing a sign that the MCU is becoming too crowded and overstuffed with content. I am enjoying phase 4 of the MCU. I have yet to see a completely terrible film. One or two series were hit or miss, but others were good. “WandaVision” was a fantastic debut for the MCU on Disney+, and “Ms. Marvel” was also really charming. The MCU has so many shows and movies now that it also has so many deadlines to consider. This year we have already seen two shows that ran for six-episodes and a couple movies. That is a lot of work, and it is not over yet because “She-Hulk” quickly approaching to Disney+ and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is scheduled to hit theaters this fall. I had fun with “Thor: Love and Thunder,” but by the standards of the MCU, this is not as good as I would hope for. Although the MCU has its occasional off day with movies like “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” or “Ant-Man and the Wasp.” I just hope this is a slight bump in the road. But the MCU also did not have this much content going on at once at those times. I know some would disagree, but I would happily sacrifice all the upcoming Disney+ shows if it meant we were going to get a few consistently great MCU movies. I am sure Marvel has a plan, but is it too big of a plan? I hope not. But my worry is that the further along we go down the MCU timeline, the more signs we will get that this whole conveyer belt will unveil itself. Let’s hope that this does not happen.

In the end, “Thor: Love and Thunder” was good, but it is also my least favorite film of MCU’s phase 4. While not the worst of the “Thor” films, “Love and Thunder” nevertheless fails on arguably the same mission in which “Ragnarok” succeeded. Sure, there were a couple laughs here and there, and as far as “summer blockbusters” go, you could do far worse. Just look at “Jurassic World: Dominion.” Although “Love and Thunder” has quite a few negatives that stand out significantly. Natalie Portman was badass enough that I might want to buy a Mighty Thor Hot Toy. But I just wish I could see more of her. I wish I could have seen more of Gorr the God Butcher. This is one of the shortest Marvel movies yet, which could be beneficial to your bladder, but that’s were the benefits stop. Overall, the film feels rushed. I heard they shot some extra footage that never made it into the film, and Taika Waititi does not want to make an alternate cut with said footage, but for all I know, that could give some much needed fleshing out to certain aspects of the story. I would never want to put pressure on a filmmaker into making something they do not want to make, but as a viewer, I would be intrigued to see some of what I originally couldn’t see in some fashion. Maybe as a Blu-ray bonus feature. I am going to give “Thor: Love and Thunder” a 6/10.

“Thor: Love and Thunder” is now playing in theaters including large formats like IMAX and Dolby Cinema. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed my review for “Thor: Love and Thunder,” then be on the lookout because I have more reviews coming soon! Stay tuned for my thoughts on “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank” and “The Gray Man.” If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Thor: Love and Thunder?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite of the “Thor” movies? I’m a purist, I would have to go with the 2011 “Thor” directed by Kenneth Branagh. Leave your opinions down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!