Minority Report (2002): Spielberg Conveys a Deadly 2054

TOM CRUISE MONTH POSTER

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

*LIGHTNING CRACK*

TOM CRUISE MONTH

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

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

“Murrrrder.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Last Samurai

Risky Business

The Firm

American Made

Mission: Impossible

Mission: Impossible II

Mission: Impossible III

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Cats (2019): Kitty Litter

EVERYBODY:
Go see “Richard Jewell!” Clint Eastwood has done it again!
Check out “1917!” It’s heart-stopping!
Watch “The Irishman” on Netflix! It’s worth the three and a half hour runtime! It’s REAL cinema!
Hey! “Queen & Slim” is getting positive reviews!
GO SEE “STAR WARS!”
“Bombshell’s” the movie we need right now!
“Frozen II” is a great Disney sequel!
“The Two Popes!” Check it out!
Hey Jack, have you seen Amazon’s “The Aeronauts?”
“MARRRRRRIAGE STOOOOOORRRRRY!”

ME:
Hey guys, I’m going to review “Cats!”

*Beat*

…Awkward. No matter what happens, this will unite us all. It’s time to review the NON-“Star Wars” movie coming out this weekend, because this is what I was able to see early on this week. Let’s get this s*itshow overwith.

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“Cats” is directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, The Danish Girl) and stars James Corden (The Late Late Show with James Corden, The Emoji Movie), Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love, Philomena), Jason Derulo (Everybody Dance Now, Drop the Mic), Idris Elba (Pacific Rim, Thor), Jennifer Hudson (The Voice, Dreamgirls), Ian McKellan (Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Good Liar), Taylor Swift (The Lorax, The Giver), Rebel Wilson (Jojo Rabbit, Pitch Perfect), and Francesca Hayward. The plot of “Cats,” if there is one in this damn thing, is that a bunch of cats that look and walk like humans compete against each other to be the one to earn another life… That’s the best way I can describe this movie without cringing. Because holy s*it. THIS IS PUTRID.

Going into “Cats” on Tuesday night, I had two screenings to choose from. “Cats” being one of them, obviously. The other one happened to be “Bombshell,” which I said to you all that I would review. Well, expect a delay on that, when I finally got my RSVP for “Cats,” I could not pass it up, and by that I mean I wanted to wait to see “Bombshell” with somebody else, because as far as I know, there is probably not one person that would want to see “Cats” with me. Did I have any plans to watch “Cats” originally? Absolutely not. In fact, if you follow the Scene Before Facebook page, and if you aren’t following it, CLICK THIS LINK and give it a like! Anyway, if you have kept track of recent happenings there, you may have noticed this recent post…

Well guess what? I ended up dragging myself on the underfunded transportation system in the Boston, Massachusetts area, put my ass in a cinema seat, and here we are. But let me just say, I did not go into “Cats” blind. I went in having seen bunches of the marketing, including the main trailers, which honestly just creeps me out the more I think about it! I had little to no real anticipation of this movie, even though I was expecting some decent numbers and neat visuals at times. Did I get those in the end? Kind of. The visuals were nifty, but the numbers are honestly forgettable. I have never seen any other related “Cats” material, not the play, nor any other adaptation. So this movie ultimately took my “Cats” virginity. As someone who has had their first “Cats” experience of any kind, I cannot imagine myself returning to this franchise in the near future. This movie BROKE me to no end. It’s honestly up there with some of the most anger-inducing content I have seen all year. In fact, I am honestly kind of glad I went to see the movie as early as I did. I love the moviegoing experience, and going to see a movie early, depending on the film is honestly kind of thrilling. I was in a theater containing some people who were enthusiastic. One person had cat ears on, some were Taylor Swift fans, and I think the best part about this movie is that the occasional reactions from people that were given with a hint of sarcasm. There was this one moment around the first act where this guy just belted out a snarky laugh and a bunch of us played along because I think a surprising number of attendees thought this movie was going to suck balls and we had almost no expectations for it. Maybe we collectively thought this movie was cheesy or a waste of time. Who knows? The point is, if I went to see this movie in perhaps January during a dead afternoon, it probably wouldn’t be as fun or lively. The only thing I probably would have felt at that time is pure anger. Being in the environment of a free screening before a movie opens definitely helps.

BUT IT DOES NOT TAKE AWAY FROM THE CRAP I SUFFERED THROUGH!

I have been noticing something about our current moviegoing audience. We seem to enjoy two things nowadays. Granted, that’s an understatement, we seem to enjoy lots of things in reality, but the two of the commonalities I’m seeing from the general moviegoing audience is spectacle and nostalgia. There’s definitely an argument to make about “Cats” being one of the more nostalgic movies of the year. It’s based on a hit musical from the late 20th century, which was inspired by poetry from T.S. Eliot. I think a lot of older audiences will gravitate towards this film, plus younger theater admirers. And I will point out one thing that I think could have ended up being a positive about this film, specifically the prettiness that’s intact. From the marketing, there have been a lot of shots that looked nice, the neon signage everywhere kind of adds a nice touch, the film is visually appealing on the surface. And throughout, at times, I dug it for its visuals. That’s probably the biggest compliment I can give.

Earlier this year, I reviewed “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” which is one of the worst blockbusters I have witnessed in recent memory, especially when considering how FANTASTIC the trailers were leading up to its release. To this day, the only compliments I can give the film are some of the shot choices and the appealing visual effects. That’s it. “Cats” is kind of like that. Granted, I did not like the “Cats” trailers, but you probably get my point. However, the good news is, and it honestly PAINS me in the ass to say this… I’d rather watch “Cats” again. As a movie, it is technically competent. Not to mention, competently… BOOOOORRRRRRRING!

This movie technically has a plot, but when it’s presented on screen, it’s an utter mess! It’s a nice looking mess, but a mess nevertheless! I guess we’ll call it a hot mess! The movie undoubtedly is trying to rely on the spectacle provided from each number. I didn’t expect this movie to lack singing, but the singing in this movie is ENDLESS. OH MY FREAKING LORD! A good portion of the numbers are… borderline OK? I guess? But I don’t feel like I will end up remembering them. The only numbers that truly stood out to me was the one where Taylor Swift’s character was introduced, most likely because there were a few people in the crowd who were ecstatic over seeing her on screen and one heavily revolving around Laurie Davidson’s character of Mr. Mistoffelees, which I won’t go into. Again, I went into the movie not knowing much about “Cats,” so I’m gonna be somewhat vague with the material.

I am not even in the mood to go into the characters, because for one thing, there are a lot of them. It’s overwhelming. I am willing to bet that if there were fewer characters, this movie could be a tad more interesting. I will say though, even though “Cats” itself is somewhat visually attrractive, it is simultaneously off-putting. I don’t know about you guys, but I didn’t ask for a movie where Ian McKellan plays a live-action, human-like cat that is licking a plate. It’s something so unimportant, yet so horrifying. Much like the numbers, there is perhaps not even a single character that ended up standing out. Many of the characters feel like they have little to no layers, and the only thing that could end up being memorable is all of the “digital fur technology” that went into this pile of crap they call a movie.

I do not seek out musicals that often. I don’t usually watch all that many films that are heavy on musical numbers, but if I had to compare “Cats” to any other film, I’d say one of the closest examples I can give is Michael Bay’s “Transformers.” For the record, they are COMPLETELY different on almost every single level in terms of plot, genre, and character motivations. But one of the biggest compliments I can give to “Transformers” is the visuals. The effects are nothing short of amazing. I think even people who don’t like the newer “Transformers” movies can probably agree that the visual effects are nice to look at. Now, I personally enjoyed the first “Transformers.” It’s a fine action movie if you ask me, but I know the franchise is not always the most pleasing to everyone. The story is basic, repetitive from one film to the next, and some would say it almost doesn’t even matter when there are tons of explosions and American flags everywhere.

This movie doesn’t really shy away from comedy. I mean, what do you expect when there’s a seemingly sarcastic laugh during my screening? Only thing is, the comedy just doesn’t work. In fact, the jokes I remember are random cat puns. They might have been the only jokes in the movie, and they sully the experience entirely.

Why did I go see “Cats?” Well, I wanted to wait to see “Bombshell” for one thing, but I thought this would be a fun film to review. It’s one of those one of a kind, crazy experiences that I will end up remembering, but not for the right reasons. Personally, I don’t ever see myself watching “Cats” again, and I had no plans to get a cat in the near future, but this movie has officially eliminated any possibility of me wanting a cat, because if I am ever presented with an opportunity to get a cat, part of me would not stop thinking of this piece of trash. And in other news, Taylor Swift is in this movie, that picture above is of her. And SPOILER, the movie DOES NOT go into how many cats she broke up with.

In fact, let me specify about my experience of watching this film. This was a film that felt embarrassing to say the least. It’s well-crafted, but embarrassing nonetheless. Whenever I go see a film, I usually order myself a popcorn and soda to keep myself up. I didn’t do that this time. I don’t know, I guess I wasn’t in the mood for it. Maybe it’s because I was busy talking to a friend I ran into, but that’s not the point. The overall experience of seeing “Cats” feels like a dream. Because I became increasingly sleepy, increasingly bored, and the movie itself became more irrelevant than the door close button on modern elevators! There is a part of me that wanted to laugh, but it felt really hard, because at the same time, what I really wanted to do was leave. This movie overstays its welcome, even giving itself an opportunity to hammer in one final number that is so bad that it’s good. And when those stinking credits FINALLY came on screen, I let out a bellowing “THANK GAAAWWSH!” Because again, the movie broke me to shreds. You know how I said I didn’t get any popcorn or soda for this movie? Upon the leaving the film I had one thought in mind. I need popcorn, because I felt like I dredged through this movie in the same way that Bart Simpson would dredge through homework. I felt like part of my well-being has been erased. This was a well-earned treat for myself. By the way, the popcorn was f*cking satisfying. It made my cat nips go hard.

In the end, “Cats” is perhaps the most competent borefest of the year, and that really says something because… “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” was a thing. And that’s the absolute worst thing about “Cats.” It looks charming, it looks presentable, it looks nifty. Some of the camerawork is nice. But between some of the questionable editing, lame-ass script, and nearly nonexistent plot, this movie made me angrier than that kid from “Looper” whenever something goes wrong for him. I would rather poke my own eyes out with my own two hands than go see this movie again. The ensemble has a lot of big names including Idris Elba, Ian McKellan, and James Corden, but not even that could save the movie. In a way, the more I think about it, it almost makes the movie worse. Remember that movie, “The Circle” that came out a couple years ago? It’s like that. It had a list of respectable actors including Emma Watson, John Boyega, Bill Paxton, TOM FREAKING HANKS! To know that these people took on this film specifically, makes my brain leak a little bit. Again, visually appealing, but it’s not enough. I’m going to give “Cats” a 2/10. Part of me wants to give this movie a 3/10, I really do. But now that I’ve had a little bit of time to marinate, this is up there with some of the most frustrating, not to mention forgettable, movies I have EVER seen during my time on this blog. Did the crowd reactions add something? Kind of. But not entirely. To me this was just a waste of time. The only ways that this movie could end up as a 1 is if it didn’t look pretty, if the acting was the worst I’ve ever seen, or it weren’t for a couple of halfway decent moments. Nevertheless, this was an insufferable experience, and I know “Star Wars” is not getting the best reviews right now, but this is actually making me excited for “Star Wars.” I think the only way I could have ended up enjoying “Cats” is if I was perhaps very young and this was one of the first movies I have watched. Maybe one of the first in the theater. Because as long as there are cats doing things on screen, why should I care about anything else? How am I still alive? I don’t know! It’s amazing! Even so, I’m done talking about this garbage, let’s move on!

Thanks for reading this review! Stay tuned guys, because I am going to have my review up for the next film that will inevitably make a billion dollars, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” I’m going to my local IMAX theater on opening Thursday, I cannot wait! How will the film turn out? I do not know for sure, but I am endlessly curious, so let’s do this! May the force be with us! Be sure to follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account if you want greater access to the blog, and be sure to stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Cats?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite movie that is cat-related? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Men In Black: International (2019): Thor and Valkyrie Play with Toys

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“Men In Black: International” is directed by F. Gary Gray (The Fate of the Furious, Friday) and stars Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Rush), Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok, Creed), Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation, The Girl On the Train), Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick, Silicon Valley), Rafe Spall (The Big Short, Life of Pi), Les Twins, Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks, Love Actually), Liam Neeson (Non-Stop, Cold Pursuit), and Tim Blaney (Muppets Tonight, Guild Wars 2). This film is a spinoff that takes place in the popular “Men In Black” franchise, which would traditionally star Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, but this time, as you can assume by the recently mentioned word “spinoff,” the story is diverging away from its usual storytelling methods. Although Frank the Pug is back, which is awesome. This spinoff revolves around agents H and M (coincidence?) as they save the planet from alien-related attacks.

Going into this movie, I had my expectations set somewhere around the middle. I enjoy the “Men In Black” movies. I own the first one on DVD, and I have seen the second and third films as well. When it comes to the second film, I thought it was decent. Just another case of the sequel not surpassing the original, but still a good time. Surprisingly, probably not just for me, but this might surprise a lot of you, of Will Smith’s trilogy, my favorite of them all is “Men In Black 3.” There was one point where I would watch Starz all the time, and throughout the year of 2013, “Men In Black 3” was probably the thing I rewatched the most on that channel. I admired the film for its use of time travel, some of the dialogue, and the surprisingly emotional ending. When I first heard they were doing a “Men In Black” spinoff, I didn’t particularly know what to think. I also remember there once being an idea for a crossover between “21 Jump Street” and “Men In Black.” I have not seen “21 Jump Street,” so I can’t fully give my thoughts on how much sense this idea would make. However, despite my slight apprehensions, which I still had after witnessing the first trailer for “Men In Black: International,” I still went in with some hopes that this movie would be worthy of the franchise name. I will say though, the final trailer, is actually a pretty good piece of marketing. It got me a bit more interested in the movie than I was before.

So, how was the movie? It’s the best “Men In Black” spinoff ever!

It’s also the only one.

Seriously though, how was the movie? It was pretty good. If you ask me, I think “Men In Black: International” has all the ingredients for a cliche, but effective, summer blockbuster. Cool action, witty dialogue, charming characters, neat effects (for the most part), and some nifty concepts here and there. It’s good enough for you to go with a few friends and forget about reality for a couple hours, and then, I dunno, maybe catch on cable one day. And I say that with all seriousness, because it is probably the most “fun” I’ve had in a theater this year. It’s not the best movie of 2019. In fact, there are other “fun” movies that I saw that I would technically consider better than this, but if you if you ask me which movie made me grin like an idiot for most of the runtime in 2019, “Men In Black: International” is certainly a contender.

The “Men In Black” franchise has always seemed to have mastered the art of comedy, and “Men In Black: International” is no exception to this rule. Unfortunately, while Frank the Pug does make a brief appearance in this film, he’s not a critical character. But we do manage to get an equally as awesome comic relief character by the name of Pawny, played by the likable and talented Kumail Nanjiani. His backstory, which is explained during the film, made me care for him, and he had a number of gutbusting lines here and there. Speaking of gutbusters, Pawny’s charisma does suggest that all the other characters are less funny or less interesting, because Chris Hemsworth is the bomb.

My respect for Chris Hemsworth has grown so much over the past few years, even though I hated “Ghostbusters,” even though “Thor: Ragnarok” was not what I wanted it to be, I still had respect for Chris Hemsworth because in general, he makes the idea of being charming the exact opposite of a chore. And when it comes to “Men In Black: International,” I think Hemsworth was one word: charismatic. He had fantastic lines, he truly feels like an expert in his field, maybe a bit of a goofy smart-ass who simultaneously takes his job seriously, and a guy who I would not mind having lunch with. Also, I mentioned the excellence of this film’s comedic elements, and I will certainly link an inside joke involving Hemsworth’s character. If you have ever heard of Marvel or Thor, there is a shot that will have you dying. Prepare for it if you ever see this movie.

Speaking of Hemsworth, I’d say he also had great chemistry with the film’s other lead, Tessa Thompson, but then again, that should not be too surprising since they have worked together before in multiple Marvel films, most notably “Thor: Ragnarok.” In fact, if I had to be honest, I think the duo’s chemistry here in “Men In Black: International” is better than it was in “Thor: Ragnarok,” because I feel the actors’ personalities meshed together when it comes to collective line delivery and interactions. I was able to buy into their partnership, and they worked together quite well.

I also really liked the big gun the marketing revealed at one point. If you remember the final trailer where our main characters test a gun in a desert, that makes for a couple highlights in the film. The gun does not get heavy usage, but it is probably the most admirable weapon in the film, which is saying a lot.

However, like most movies, “Men In Black: International” comes with its imperfections. Like a number of films I have seen recently, this movie suffers from some minor pacing issues, which almost made me lose interest in the story. Also, compared to a couple other “Men In Black” films, this installment feels a tad disposable. I’d watch it again, but I would not call it the holy grail of summer blockbusters. And as mentioned earlier in the post, a lot of the effects worked, but it doesn’t mean all of them did. When the movie started, I got a glimpse at a creature who was in front of young Agent M. It looked like something out of a B-rate “Avatar” film or perhaps live-action “Sonic the Hedgehog,” although, probably much more competent than that. It didn’t look revolting, but absolutely artificial. There was also almost no real threat. While various baddies appear throughout the film, it’s almost impossible to pinpoint the most threatening of them all, at least for a period of time, and it almost took me out of the movie. Another aspect I didn’t like is the Lexus product placement, but at the same time, compared to “Hitman: Agent 47” and that film’s relationship with Audi, I can tolerate Lexus in this film by MILES. Pun most certainly intended. Then again, this film had a decent amount of positives to which point, the negatives almost don’t even matter. I had enough fun with “Men In Black: International” that I felt in the zone. Do I want to see another story with Chris Hemsworth or Tessa Thompson? That’s still up for debate from my perspective, but I still managed to enjoy what I saw.

In the end, “Men In Black: International” had me smiling, laughing, and immersed. If there is one aspect of movies that I personally felt has improved since I first started Scene Before in 2016, it is comedy, and movies like “Men In Black: International” support that sentiment. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson make a good team, I enjoyed the humor, and it made me, surprisingly, appreciate a “Men In Black” story that didn’t have Will Smith in it. Although technically speaking, he does appear at one point, I won’t say how. Also, part of me may be wondering however if my positive, “smile on my face” thoughts related to this film, may be due to the collective atmosphere in the theater. Because just about everyone was laughing from one point to the next and the cinema was nearly full. Then again, I saw “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” in a full cinema where everyone was laughing and I hated that piece of crap. Part of me wonders if my thoughts as of now, are simply fueled by what the collective vibe must have been. Maybe if I watch the film again, said thoughts could end up changing. But I don’t care, because I’m going to give “Men In Black: International” a 7/10. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that I just recently reached my 300 post mark on Scene Before, so if you want to check it out, click this link! The post involves me going over my complete Blu-ray collection, which features a video I uploaded to YouTube, partially because WordPress would not let me upload it directly. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Men In Black: International?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite “Men In Black” movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018): I Believe in Magic 8-Balls

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“The House with a Clock in Its Walls” is directed Eli Roth (Death Wish, Cabin Fever) and stars Jack Black (Kung Fu Panda, Goosebumps), Cate Blanchett (Thor: Ragnarok, How to Train Your Dragon 2), and Owen Vaccaro (Daddy’s Home, Mother’s Day) as a young orphan named Lewis meets up with his charismatic uncle Jonathan. This uncle happens to be a warlock who lives with an elderly witch by the name of Florence Zimmerman. Together, they are all living in the same house that is said to be haunted. Throughout the movie, Jonathan is trying to get rid of a clock through magic in order to preserve the world.

“The House with a Clock in Its Walls” is one of those films I just didn’t know much about before going to see it. I remember seeing one trailer for it in the movie theater. And in all honesty, the first time I even heard about this was when the film was doing advance screenings. Then again, I live 30 minutes from Boston and Eli Roth, the director behind this film, actually was born around the area. So I don’t know what other areas happened to be doing regarding this film, but I remember getting some alerts for screenings going back as far late August. Although I must say, the screenings were far ahead of when I was alerted of them. The screenings actually happened to be on the week when the movie actually released. Guess Universal didn’t have too much faith in this film. Most of the marketing I saw came towards the time before the movie went into theaters.

I have to say though, despite some apprehension with the marketing, “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” is a fun time! I’d say it’s a decent flick for kids and adults alike. It doesn’t treat people like idiots (for the most part, because it is apparent these days that you can’t have a kids movie without poop jokes). The biggest praises I can give to this movie is the lovable chemistry between the characters. Some highlights include Jack Black and Cate Blanchett, who play off each other calling each other rude names. The gag increasingly dies down as the movie goes on, which is kind of unfortunate considering once I first witnessed this, it was one of the best parts of the movie.

As far as the kid goes in this movie, his name is Owen Vaccaro. I wouldn’t go ahead and call Vaccaro the next great child actor, who is gonna go onto win Oscars one day. I mean, he could, but his name probably wouldn’t be as prominent. It’s not like I’m witnessing another Jacob Tremblay (Room, Wonder) or Macaulay Culkin (Home Alone, My Girl). However, Vaccaro’s performance serves both the character and the movie very well. His character, known by the name of Lewis Barnavalt, is pretty much a wiz. He reminds me of a more humanized version of Mindy Kaling’s character from “A Wrinkle in Time.” I’m not saying he often quotes other people, particularly those who happen to be famous and have perhaps above average intelligence, but he does seem to have some abnormalities to him. He often looks in a dictionary, and I mean that in a way that technically qualifies as a hobby. In fact, what makes this kid weird, is kind of what this movie tries to teach people. It’s similar to other lessons that may have been provided in children’s films before, but it doesn’t mean the film fails on trying to emphasize such a lesson.

While the kid may be weird, the character played by Jack Black is just plain crazy. He almost reminds me of a mad scientist in some ways because he doesn’t seem to believe in the concept of sleep. So in a way, I guess you can say I can relate to this character. The character’s name is Jonathan Barnavalt and he is a warlock. Jack Black is probably my favorite character in the movie, and perhaps the one that kids might want to emulate the most. For one thing, his house has one rule (don’t open a particular cabinet), but other than that, there are literally no rules. He’s enthusiastic, hyperactive, and it adds up to make him rather charming.

As for Cate Blanchett, her character goes by the name of Florence Zimmerman. Out of everyone in the movie, she wasn’t my favorite character. She was pretty close, but Jack Black takes the cake. But the thing is, I literally had no idea I was even witnessing Cate Blanchett in this movie. So out of everyone in the movie, I’d say this character was the most well performed. Maybe it’s because I didn’t really know Cate Blanchett was going to be in this film and I knew Jack Black was. Plus the film reminded me of “Goosebumps,” which also had Jack Black as a character with some similarities to his character in this movie. I’ve seen Cate Blanchett in some films before like “Lord of the Rings,” “Thor: Ragnarok,” and “How to Train Your Dragon 2.” I’m somewhat surprised that I wasn’t really able to discern Cate Blanchett because to me she seems to have one of those voices you can easily pick out. But you also have to consider how Cate Blanchett looks in this movie compared to how she does off screen. Even so, I feel like Cate Blanchett embodied this character well and it just goes to show one actor can truly slip over your head sometimes. I am not saying Cate Blanchett’s performance is gonna get her an Oscar nomination, maybe at best she’ll be recognized for a Saturn Award, but I’m not sure.

But in all reality, what makes this film so interesting to me is the vibe and the spirit of the film itself. This film is in the fantasy genre, and it’s particularly aimed at families. I will have you know that when I was actually at the theater to watch this movie, I was the only customer in attendance. “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” manages to balance humor, story, and character development very effectively. In fact, in some ways, I guess you can also say this is a horror movie as well. One reviewer on YouTube by the name of Chris Stuckmann actually went to see this movie, and somebody told him that children walked out of the theater early because they were scared. When I saw his review, it reminded me of how I studied something scary from a childhood show I watched. I’m not sure what it was, but it was probably from a show on PBS or something. I could understand why some children would walk out. Comparing this film to “Goosebumps” once more, there are some light scares that almost seem like scares that fall into the “playing safe” category, but then there’s one scene that stood out to me as I watched it and almost reminded me of what I “must” have witnessed as a kid. If you like horror, I wouldn’t say to go out of your way and watch this movie. This isn’t like you’re watching “A Quiet Place” or something. But if you want to have fun and escape reality, “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” is for you.

In the end, “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” is a fine fantasy film that probably won’t be remembered throughout time, but it is certainly good for a watch. It’s intriguing, occasionally suspenseful, funny, and perhaps the most effective commercial for the Magic 8-Ball that I’ve seen since maybe “Angels in the Outfield.” Would I buy the movie on Blu-ray? Probably not. If it were used and available for a decent price maybe I’d put my hands on it. However I am proud to say that my recent viewing of this film was not a waste of time. I’m gonna give “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” a 7/10. Thanks for reading this review. Be sure to stay tuned for my review of “Apollo 13,” which will be up on October 11th (hopefully). This will be my last space movie review before I make the trek to see “First Man,” so be sure to check that out. Also, be sure to check out my eventual reviews for “Venom” and “A Star Is Born.” One more thing, I just got back from New York Comic Con, and I’ve got a bit to talk about regarding that, so look forward to my review on that sometime soon! Be sure to follow Scene Before with a WordPress account or email so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “The House with a Clock in Its Walls?” What did you think about it? Or, given how this film is directed by Eli Roth, what is your favorite film Eli Roth was involved in? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Ready Player One (2018): Pop Culture’s Ultimate Birthchild

*SPONSORSHIP ALERT* (although nobody’s payin’ me)

Before we dive into my review for one of my most anticipated movies of 2018, let me just have you know that this review is being called “Pop Culture’s Ultimate Birthchild.” If you watch “Ready Player One” and/or read the book, you’d know precisely what I’m talking about. And speaking of birthchildren, there’s one couple out there in California who are currently expecting a birthchild. The couple contains souls by the names of Genevieve and Paul, and they are going to giving birth to a child sometime in the future. You can find out the true story of this babymaking journey in “What the IVF?!”

“What the IVF?” documents the seemingly endless but also effort-filled journey of having a child. What’s so hard about it? Watching over them? Finding a babysitter? Trying to get them to fall asleep? No, you fools! The hard part is making them! Watch as Genevieve and Paul do something that will change humanity. By, you know, trying to increase its overall population by 1. But the process of doing that isn’t easy! The couple suffer through troublesome situations in regards to sex, math, testing, costs, and because they TOTALLY asked for them, infinite needles! If you want to watch the fifth episode to this series, it’s listed up above. This time, Genevieve and Paul’s marriage might be going down the toilet! Not to mention, nothing seems all that pleasant at this point. Watch the episode, comment, subscribe, hit the notification bell, share with your friends, enemies, frenemies, whoever they may be. Also check out the “WTIVF” website, and their other forms of presence on social media, all of which is listed down below! Oh yeah, and tell them Jack Drees sent ya! I’m sure they’ll appreciate it!

WTIVF? WEBSITE: http://www.whattheivf.com/

WTIVF? YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCILXSidkzWgwrQ5Oa1py78w/featured?disable_polymer=1

WTIVF? TWITTER: https://twitter.com/WTivF

WTIVF? INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/wtivf/

WTIVF? FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/What-The-IVF-288868031634125/

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“Ready Player One” is directed by Steven Spielberg (Jurassic Park, Lincoln) and stars Tye Sheridan (X-Men Apocalypse, Mud), Olivia Cooke (Ouija, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, The Dark Knight Rises) and is based on the pop culture extravaganza of a book written by Ernest Cline, who by the way, is one of the film’s screenwriters alongside Zak Penn (The Avengers, The Incredible Hulk).

Much like the book, this movie centers around the character of Wade Owen Watts, a teenage boy who is currently living in the 2040s. Oh yeah, and just like every other movie that takes place in the future that seems to have something depressing, Earth is dying, who’d a thunk it? Nowadays he basically spends his time on the virtual reality headset universe known as the OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation), where you can literally live your reality meeting other avatars who go by nicknames. For example, Wade’s avatar name in the game is known as Parzival. Another example would be for a different character in the movie, Samantha, which is the name she goes by in real life, but in the OASIS, she’s known as Art3mis. There’s not just that, you can do just about anything you can think of! You want to drive a DeLorean? You’ve got yourself a DeLorean! You want an Iron Giant to hang out with? Of course you do, and you’ve got one! You want to ride the bike from “Akira?” Bingo! This is basically a future, where there’s nowhere left to go. And I’ve seen a lot of media will give this dystopian landscape where everything looks all depressing, but one thing I’ve never noticed is a hint of pop culture in there. And I feel this movie, the more I think about it, is kind of relevant. Not just for the environmental message that you’d find in films like “Wall-E” or “Interstellar,” but the fact that maybe we’re running out of ideas in terms of what could be the next big franchise or the next big movie or the next big TV show. The movie doesn’t really dive into that, but this is an unoriginal movie which centers around unoriginality and it’s all the better for it!

This was one of my most anticipated movies of the year. Most of the promotional material had me nerdgasming! The visuals looked astounding! The music, like, oh my gosh! The teaser trailer for “Ready Player One” which was revealed at San Diego Comic-Con, went on to become one of my favorite trailers of 2017, and the movie had a couple more trailers that went on to become instant favorites of mine for this current year. I went to see the movie in 70mm film! A lot of people see “Avengers: Infinity War” as their most anticipated movie of the year, and I totally get why, but when it comes to both movies, I can’t help but hype both up like the Soup Nazi when his place was in business on “Seinfeld.” I even did something that I never do before going to see a movie. I actually read the book. Let me just pull up a quote that I left in my review for “The Firm.”

“…movies are more fun! Sorry, books!”

Part of my reading of the book has to do with a challenge I gave to some friends, but still.

After reading the book and seeing the promotional material of the movie, I felt like this was a fictionalized “King of the Nerds.” If you have seen “King of the Nerds,” you’d probably know it as a part competition and part nerd culture extravaganza. This show is actually quite possibly my favorite of all time, making me even gladder to have read the book to capture the feeling of the show inside me once more after it was canceled by TBS in 2015. And speaking of “King of the Nerds,” “Revenge of the Nerds,” the movie which the show is sort of based on, is referenced in the book. In fact, there’s one part where the main character of Wade Watts goes searching for something important to the plot, and he tries going into a recreation of the house that the nerds rent and fix in the movie! If you know me in real life, if something receives a comparison to “King of the Nerds,” you know that I am jumping up and down.

Unfortunately, there’s no “Revenge of the Nerds” references in the movie. However, when you take the rest of the movie for what it is, you might as well refer to it by one word: Amazing. Am I fanboying? Sort of. I’m only fanboying because this film met, and in ways, exceeded my expectations. I am not one of those people who says this:

“This is a great book! Terrific! Unbelievable! If you change an ounce of this book, I will find you studio freaks at your filthy houses and slaughter every last one of you!”

Yes, there are changes from the book, and personally, I can understand the changes, and based on what we’ve gotten out of this movie, I don’t care! This movie itself, was probably one of the most thrilling experiences I’ve had in a theater. If the 70mm show wasn’t enough to please, some of the scenes which have now become new personal faves of mine certainly were!

Steven Spielberg directed this film, and when I first heard about him taking on this project, I was like, “cool.” As I read the book though, I thought to myself, there is NO OTHER MAN ON THIS EARTH that should direct this movie! Well, it was mainly because Spielberg was referenced in the book and it was done in a form of appreciation. Now that I’ve seen the film from start to finish, I can’t say anything else except, THERE’S STILL NO F*CKING WAY ANOTHER PERSON COULD HAVE DIRECTED THIS FILM! Steven Spielberg’s hayday was blockbusters galore, not to mention he’s a master of putting you into the action. Just watch “Saving Private Ryan” or “Jurassic Park!” The film’s opening contains this big and important race, and I guarantee you that at some point, you’ll feel like you’re in it.

Speaking of action, “Ready Player One” also contains one of the best mega-battles I’ve seen in a movie, and one of the best chases I’ve seen in a movie. There’s this big climactic battle that decides the future of both sides, and as I watched, I felt like I was back the early 2000s, going to the theater, and watching “Lord of the Rings.” I ate it up and I wanted more! Now I know that I talked about the race during the film’s starting point, and it’s sort of chase-like, but we cut to the real chase towards the end of the film. Literally. This final chase, may be one of the very best I’ve ever seen in a movie. The climactic chase of the movie almost feels like a mix of “Inception” and “The Lego Movie.” In other words, it was a mix of a heartfelt moment and the dropping of my jaw. I don’t even want to go into it, because I want you as a viewer to be surprised.

Now I mention that this movie, like the book, is really freaking good! But if there’s one thing that the book does better, it’s character development. I’m not saying that the characters in this movie sucked, in fact I really liked all of them. But in comparison to the book, the book did it better.

Let’s talk about the main character of Wade Watts, otherwise known as Parzival. In some ways, much like the book, I resemble this character. We both want to do something that will prevent our governments from harming us personally, we’re both uber nerds, and we both know a lot about a variety of popular culture. Although then again, that’s what pretty much a majority of the movie’s characters know about. In the book, Watts was actually fat in real life. I can kind of understand why they would cast a guy like Tye Sheridan for the role of Watts even though he’s not fat, but they could have paid homage to the book and done that. If they did cast someone fat, it would have increased the chance of seeing a key character moment from the book. I’m not saying I’m unsatisfied with what we got, but still, the book did it better.

Although one thing that may rival the book entirely in my opinion was the depiction of Samantha, or Art3mis. When I read the book, I always thought of the interactions in the OASIS between Parzival and Art3mis as cutesy, and as something that just developed over time. The movie feels faster, and it almost makes Samantha’s avatar look like someone a boy would usually be attracted to. Well, to me anyway, looks are subjective. Sure, in the book I can kind of buy Parzival’s infatuation towards Art3mis, but it didn’t have a raw feeling, like this movie did, and I personally thought it worked. Cooke as an actress pretty much nailed what this character needed, and I admired her performance.

Now let’s get into one of my favorite parts of the movie, and that is the character of Nolan Sorrento played by Ben Mendelsohn. Having seen him play Krennic in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” it should be proof at this point that Mendelsohn can play one awesome villain! Here, he does that too! He’s basically this corporate baddie that oversees all the operations of IOI (Innovative Online Industries) and he wants to change the OASIS to make it more like what can be translated as something like Net Neutrality or EA shoving micro-transactions down your throat. As if his representation of evil was good enough, his character has one of the major highlights of the movie for me. There’s a point where he’s talking with Wade and he’s trying to act consumer-friendly, attractive, and telling Wade what he would probably want to hear, and someone is on the other end, speaking into his ear without Wade’s knowledge. Trust me, it’s kind of funny.

Now let’s state another highlight performance of the movie, and that is the character of James Halliday, played by Mark Rylance. This is Rylance’s third performance with Steven Speilberg, and he was cast perfectly in regards to this character. Halliday was charming, somewhat funny, and a mix between Willy Wonka and Steve Jobs. You’ve got the one side that seems to scream charisma and wonder and you have another that represents brains and sometimes over-stressed. I will say though, I was doing research on this movie, and while I think Rylance’s performance is terrific, there is someone I would have loved to see bring their skills to the table.

Rylance’s character is once again, comparable to Willy Wonka, and thus it kind of makes sense where Steven Spielberg’s mind would be going at one point. One idea he had for the character of Halliday before Rylance ultimately took over is to get Gene Wilder back on screen. According to the movie’s trivia page on IMDb, “Wilder respectfully declined.” Mark Rylance was cast in 2016 some time before Gene Wilder’s death. But what if Wilder were in the movie? I imagine the movie would make a hell lot more money than it already did, it would have a stronger opening weekend, and based on recent events, it might actually bring something emotional to the movie. Although then again, I wonder if they still would have been filming the scenes for Halliday at the time of Wilder’s death, so it probably wouldn’t have even mattered. Nevertheless, Wilder as Halliday would have been PERFECT, A+, 10/10 casting. However, Rylance, based on his portrayal, is just as solid.

Moving onto one thing that I heard a number of people complain about, let’s talk about references. People were nervous about this movie because they figured the only thing that it stands for is to make references down your throat. Personally, I did not have that complaint going in. I thought the movie was gonna have a fine number of references that didn’t feel bloated. Besides, references are awesome! As far as this movie goes none of the references forced (for what I remember), they were charming, and they were even sometimes hysterical! One of the biggest standouts is a moment where the main characters are going into the world of a classic movie. No, seriously, they go in, and several events from that movie play out in this one! I didn’t have too too many people in my theater, so I can’t say much noise was made, but I heard there were some presentations that people attended where audience members collectively gasped. The most references come in during the commencement of the movie and the climax, and while the middle definitely has some, it seems to come off as more story-oriented. And that’s not to say that the beginning and end aren’t story oriented. I’d say the references used at the start and finish were properly utilized while still maintaining an interesting story, thus making the movie better. You know, unlike “The Emoji Movie,” which story-wise and reference wise, is nothing but trash buried beneath the ground after being lit on fire. That movie was nothing but a complete waste of the talent from minds like Patrick Stewart, Anna Faris, and TJ Miller.

Fortunately, TJ Miller’s talent is not wasted here! If you don’t already know, TJ Miller plays the character of I-R0k, and let’s just get serious for a moment. TJ Miller’s voice, IS ASTOUNDING. If Morgan Freeman is the king of narrating serious pieces of work, then TJ Miller is the king of narrating anything that sounds hilarious. Just watch “Silicon Valley,” “Deadpool,” heck, I’ll say “Transformers: Age of Extinction.” HELL! I’d say even watch “The Emoji Movie!” Even though the movie sucks, you still get to hear the killer voice of TJ f*cking Miller. TJ Miller was TOP-NOTCH CASTING for I-R0k, and after seeing Miller play him, I probably can’t imagine anyone else taking on the role! If the remake and reboot craze continues and “Ready Player One” is the next in line, I quadruple dog dare those behind the project to find a better I-R0k.

In the end, “Ready Player One,” was a f*cking blast! I had very high expectations for the movie, and I certainly was not let down. This is also personally, almost a #1 favorite of mine for Steven Spielberg. I saw this movie on a Tuesday night, and this review was finished on a Friday. On this day, I’m still thinking to myself, “I want to see this again.” Have I seen it again? No I have not, but I’d literally cut through traffic and smash cars to pieces just to go to the theater for a second time and catch the experience once more. So with that being said, “Ready Player One” is yet another win for Spielberg and I’m going to give it a 10/10!

Thanks for reading this review! Fun fact about my experience watching this in the theater, I mentioned I went to see this in 70mm, and it actually was in this quaint theater near Boston, and they played a trailer for “2001: A Space Odyssey” since the theater was bringing it back in the 70mm format for its 50th anniversary. Just… One of the best things I’ve witnessed in my entire life. I might do something soon for “2001” if possible, maybe a movie review, maybe dissect it, or something else along those lines. As far as other content goes, I have a few ideas lined up. Maybe I’ll go see “Blockers,” “A Quiet Place,” “Pacific Rim: Uprising,” or maybe I’ll wind up seeing “Ready Player One” again. Who knows? Stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Ready Player One?” What did you think about it? Did you read the book? What did you think about that? I personally love it, and comparing both the movie and the book side by side, they both make themselves great in their own ways. Also, if you were going to make a book or movie full of references, what would the references be and how would the movie play out? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!