The Menu (2022): Phenomenally Mouthwatering and Jaw-Dropping

“The Menu” is directed by Mark Mylod (Succession, Game of Thrones) and stars Ralph Fiennes (The LEGO Batman Movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel), Anya Taylor-Joy (Emma., The Queen’s Gambit), Nicholas Hoult (Tolkien, Mad Max: Fury Road), Hong Chau (Downsizing, Big Little Lies), Janet McTeer (Jessica Jones, Ozark), Judith Light (Who’s the Boss?, Dallas), and John Leguizamo (Super Mario Bros., Ice Age). This film follows a young couple, who are just two of the many people who partake in an expensive outing at Hawthorne, where food meets art. What is supposed to be an extravagant dining experience turns into a night of mayhem where the tension never ends.

If I had a dollar for how many times I ended up seeing a trailer for “The Menu” during a screening at the theater, I could probably at minimum, pay to see this movie at matinee price when it came out. Although I did not mind seeing this movie advertised a whole ton. Because it had a lot of things going for it. You have a stacked cast including Ralph Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy. The concept, while it reminded me of other stories, came off as one of the more original ideas of 2022, and it looked like an okay mix of comedy and scares, kind of like one of my favorite movies of the past five years, “Ready or Not.” At the same time though, while the trailers do show a bit in regard to what the movie’s about, one of the first positives I can give to the movie, in addition to the marketing, is that despite being hammered with the trailers, there were plenty of surprises to be had. I had the privilege of getting to see this film with a big crowd the day before public release, and I had no regrets going.

Ladies and gentlemen, I can easily say “The Menu” is one of my favorite movies of the year. And in a year that has been chock full of fantastic horror, this may be my favorite film in its genre. More than “Smile.” More than “Barbarian.” I reviewed both of those movies about a month ago, and I said the exact same thing when talking about those. If there is any genre that I think is the clear winner this year in regards to film, horror takes the cake. Much like cake, “The Menu” is a deliciously attractive and satisfying time.

“The Menu” cements why I go to the movies. This movie is dark, twisted, yet fun. I had the time of my life laughing and gagging with a couple hundred other people.

Speaking of communal events, this movie showcases a group of people who are supposedly loaded with money. One of the best parts about this movie is that even though Hawthorne is full of… let’s just say snobby guests, the snobby characters never managed to once get on my nerves. In fact, seeing of some of these people on screen for whatever length of time they happened to be on provided for decent entertainment. Even though this movie has characters who went to an Ivy League school without financial troubles and business partners for example, all of them were fun to watch.

This movie jokes about the rich, the food service industry, and how artists endlessly strive to be perfect. With an endless spree of gags on these topics among others, this leads to brilliant exchanges and side-splitting moments. I cannot think of a movie this year, even in the pure comedy genre like “The Bob’s Burgers Movie,” that is as funny as “The Menu.” I cannot remember the last time I have gone to a movie and laughed so hard that after seconds of chuckling, I felt a particular numbness running through my body for a split second. If I got any dizzier, I would have arguably needed a medical professional. This happened more than once during my experience.

All of the characters in “The Menu” serve their purpose and bring something to the table. While this movie’s batch of supporting characters are exactly what they are, minor, their respective actors all do a great job. Everyone from Judith Light as Anne, Janet McTeer as Lillian, and Rob Yang as Bryce delivered performances that arguably satisfied my cravings. One of my favorite members of the supporting cast however is John Leguizamo, who plays a Movie Star (Yes, that is the character’s credited name). Without giving much detail, we get some hints of his history as an actor that allow for some of the movie’s most entertaining and laugh-inducing moments.

Although I cannot forget about the two leads, Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult. These characters, as we learn early on, are a couple. We see from the beginning that of the two, Tyler (Hoult) is the one who is clearly more invested in the dining experience whereas Margot (Taylor-Joy) is more or less just coming along for the ride. Many of Tyler’s lines are him either trying to get Margot to “blend in” or showcasing his worship for the establishment and its head chef. I thought having a character like one of Tyler’s personality made for added tension in a movie that already had plenty of thrills and chills. Margot, who was more than unfamiliar with Hawthorne, was likely in for some culture shock. And that was only the start of her journey.

Anya Taylor-Joy is not only great in “The Menu,” but it is the kind of great that makes me think she is easily in the conversation to become the next “it” actor of her generation. Not only is she mega-talented as she has shown from one role to the next, but she always manages to choose interesting projects. Even ones I do not particularly like such as Robert Eggers’s “The Witch” at least has some notable quirks. As much as the cast of “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” has me weary because of how many big stars are onboard instead of professional voiceover artists (although Jack Black seems to be perfectly cast), Anya Taylor-Joy’s presence gives me hope because of her current resume. “The Menu” is another solid addition to her ongoing list of wins. This movie involves a multitude of characters at once, but if this story belongs to anyone, it is Anya Taylor-Joy’s character of Margot. Therefore, I am delighted, although not surprised, that she killed it in this movie.

Again, the trailers for “The Menu” made it look like another “Ready or Not.” This makes sense given the film’s success and it also being under the Searchlight Pictures library. If I had to give a proper description to “The Menu” for those who have not seen it, I would describe “The Menu” as “Ready or Not” meets “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” You have an eccentric genius who is often the elephant in the room. There is a group of people who all gather to experience a literal food fantasy. And much like “Ready or Not,” the main character is a young woman who is different from everybody else despite attempts to fit in. Much like both movies, there is plenty of comedy (and horror if you count the tunnel scene in “Willy Wonka”) to take in. The film is a must see, especially with a big crowd in a theater. While this probably will not make “Wakanda Forever” bank, this film is worth watching and supporting. It is a definite must see.

In the end, “The Menu” is a phenomenal moviegoing experience and a hysterical ride from start to finish. The cast is great, the mix of horror and comedy is perfectly balanced, and overall, this is also well done from a technical standpoint. A lot of the food, even though it did not look like the first thing I would put in my mouth if I saw it in person, had an Insta-worthy feel to it. The shots and sets look as clean as can be. Some of the editing, without going into specifics, is perfectly timed with how the script plays out. I can only name one particular problem I have with this movie, but I am not going to go into it as it would dive into spoiler territory. This movie is only days old and I want the people reading this who have not seen this movie to go in as blind as they can. That said, “The Menu” is yet another win for Searchlight Pictures. You may remember I recently reviewed “The Banshees of Inisherin,” another Searchlight production. That is a movie I honored with high marks. I think “The Menu” is on the same level. Therefore, this is another win for Searchlight, and as far as I can see, moviegoing audiences. I am going to give “The Menu” a 9/10.

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

Thanks for reading this review! If you like this review, please check out some of my other ones! For example, if you want to see more comedy reviews, check out my thoughts on “Ticket to Paradise,” the recent romcom starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts. If you are looking for more horror, go ahead and read my thoughts on “Halloween Ends,” the conclusion to the David Gordon Green series of “Halloween” flicks. Also, coming soon, I will be sharing my thoughts on “The Fabelmans.” That review should be posted later this week. If you want to see this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Menu?” What did you think about it? Or, what is the hardest you laughed at a movie this year? For me, while “The Menu” comes close, the definitive answer might be “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” The shocks I experienced during that movie are on another level. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Amsterdam (2022): David O. Russell’s Latest Fast-Paced, Star-Filled, Forgettable Time

“Amsterdam” is directed by David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle) and stars Christian Bale (The Dark Knight, Ford v. Ferrari), Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad, I, Tonya), John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman, Tenet), Chris Rock (Madagascar, Grown Ups), Anya Taylor-Joy (The Queen’s Gambit, Last Night in Soho), Zoe Saldaña (Avatar, Guardians of the Galaxy), Mike Myers (Shrek, Bohemian Rhapsody), Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road, Nocturnal Animals), Timothy Olyphant (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, The Mandalorian), Andrea Riseborough (Bloodline, Battle of the Sexes), Taylor Swift (The Lorax, Cats), Matthias Schoenaerts (The Danish Girl, Red Sparrow), Alessandro Nivola (American Hustle, Selma), Rami Malek (Night at the Museum, The Little Things), and Robert De Niro (Raging Bull, Meet the Parents). This film is mainly set in the 1930s, and centers around three people who are framed for murder. Together, this trio uncovers a plot that will change the course of history.

I have not seen all of David O. Russell’s films. I have seen “American Hustle,” which I was not a fan of. I have mostly forgotten it by now. I saw “Joy,” which I thought was cute. The acting was great, especially on Jennifer Lawrence’s part, but it was not my favorite movie of the year. I also saw “Silver Linings Playbook,” which, while not one of my favorite movies ever, is probably the best attempt at a feature Russell has ever given. I still have yet to see films like “Flirting with Disaster,” “Three Kings,” and “I Heart Huckabees.” I am mostly familiar with David O. Russell’s recent work. That said, he has built quite a name for himself as a filmmaker and it is no surprise that names like the ones listed happen to be working with him.

When you have this many Academy Award-nominated or winning actors and actresses in your film, it builds promise. It builds interest. It reminded me of when I saw “The Circle” back in 2017. You had all these culturally relevant or critically acclaimed performers like Tom Hanks, Emma Watson, John Boyega, Patton Oswalt, and Bill Paxton. Given their resumes, I was excited to see what they could do. Unfortunately, their collaborative efforts could not escape them from this misfire. “Amsterdam,” while definitely more satisfying than “The Circle,” is in the same boat.

The best way I can describe “Amsterdam” is to say that the film is all over the place. There is a lot that goes down in just a span of two hours that I felt like I had to take some notes. The film is not wholly incompetent by any means, but it begs me to keep up with its quick pacing. I like quick pacing, but at times, the movie goes too quick. There are a lot of characters and interwoven storylines that there is a good chance that I will have forgotten a couple of them by the next couple weeks. I think this is a film that could warrant a second viewing, but I am not sure yet if it has the replay value. At times, the pacing of this movie reminded me of Guy Ritchie’s “The Gentlemen,” which I know some people like, but for whatever reason I just could not get into. One moment we’re here, one moment we’re there, and in the next my brain, which has escaped from my body, might as well have traveled to the end of the universe.

If there is any saving grace in “Amsterdam,” it would have to be Margot Robbie as Valerie Voze. I thought she had the best moments in the movie. I thought the casting matched the character and the way she was written and directed. This performance solidifies Robbie as one of my favorite actors working today. Her chemistry with Christian Bale and John David Washington is solid, and as much effort as those two put into their performances, Robbie feels like the clear winner here.

Speaking of Christian Bale, if you want me to be completely honest, I think he had a more memorable performance in “Thor: Love and Thunder” of all things. I am not saying that Christian Bale gave a terrible performance in “Amsterdam.” If anything, it was stellar. But I think when combining acting with overall characterization, Bale’s attempt at playing Gorr the God Butcher was somehow more convincing and compelling despite a movie like “Amsterdam” appearing to be more along the lines of Bale’s forte.

It is crystal clear that the story of “Amsterdam” is not the highlight of the movie. If you ask me, it had its moments. There was a specific moment that intrigued me at the beginning where our main characters find themselves in an unspeakable situation. Unfortunately, as soon as we dive away from that, the quality of the movie lessens.

If I had to look in advance at 2022 in film and predict any Best Ensemble nominees at the SAG Awards, “Amsterdam” would have been a contender based on name recognition. However, much like Garry Marshall’s unwatchable holiday-based movies like “New Year’s Eve” and “Mother’s Day,” the movie’s cast is the one glimmer of hope within what can simply be referred to as a hot mess. At least on paper. I never thought I would see the day where we have Margot Robbie, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Robert De Niro in the same movie. I just hope when that unpredictable day came along, there was good script for them all to bring to the screen.

As for other positives, the movie is attractively colorful. Not quite as glitzy and glossy as say “Elvis,” which in some ways might happen to be a good thing if you ask me. However, the look of the film is sometimes easy on the eyes. In addition to having a stacked, recognizable cast, a lot of them are wearing stunning outfits, some look handsome or sexy. If this were a silent film, this might be okay depending on what you put for text. The sets at times look presentable, elaborate, and occasionally have a vintage feel to them.

There is a saying that looks are not everything, and this movie is exhibit A as to why that saying exists. Yes, some of my favorite actors are put in the forefront. Yes, some of the costumes and sets look dazzling. Yes, the movie has an occasional feeling of immersion. Although this cannot save the film itself from providing what could be one of the sloppiest stories of the decade, and that is despite this movie claiming “A LOT OF THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED.” Just because a story is true, does not make it entertaining. You want to know a true story? I woke up today and wrote this review. Imagine if I tried to sell that as a movie. The distributor would probably go out of business!

Here is a fun fact. Christian Bale, who has worked with David O. Russell in the past, signed on to do “Amsterdam” before a script was written. I get the notion of wanting to work with a big name director. Especially one you supposedly have a decent relationship with. Heck, if I were an actor and I hear the name Christopher Nolan or Jordan Peele I automatically think “business partnership.” I hope while these two high-profile industry insiders were thinking about how great it would be to work with each other, they took a moment to think of the quality of what they were going to make. Because despite the quantity of big names, quality seems to be sacrificed when it comes to the final product of “Amsterdam.”

In the end, “Amsterdam” has occasional glimmers of enjoyment, with some extreme emphasis on the word “occasional.” The film has an okay start, but the film itself never finds a way to be as compelling or entertaining as its first ten or fifteen minutes. I liked “Silver Linings Playbook,” but I cannot say the same for “Amsterdam.” I am going to give the forgettable and dull “Amsterdam” a 4/10.

“Amsterdam” is now playing in theatres everywhere, tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed this review, I have more coming! I will soon unveil my thoughts on a couple of horror movies I watched recently, specifically “Smile” and “Halloween Ends.” Also, if you want to see more reviews from me, check out my thoughts on “See How They Run.” 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 “Amsterdam?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a movie with a stacked cast whose script could not justify its star power? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Northman (2022): A Hero’s Journey Collides with Robert Eggers’s Insane Personality

“The Northman” is directed by Robert Eggers (The Lighthouse, The Witch) and stars Alexander Skarsgård (The Legend of Tarzan, Big Little Lies), Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos, Bombshell), Claes Bang (The Burnt Orange Heresy, The Girl in the Spider’s Web), Anya Taylor-Joy (Emma., The Queen’s Gambit), Ethan Hawke (Moon Knight, First Reformed), Björk, and Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man, Platoon). This film is about Prince Amleth, who loses his father and sees his mother get captured at a young age. Holding an infinite desire to avenge his father and save his mother, Amleth joins a band of Vikings, who raise him as a berserker.

PARK CITY, UT – JANUARY 26: Director/writer Robert Eggers of “The Witch” poses for a portrait at the Village at the Lift Presented by McDonald’s McCafe during the 2015 Sundance Film Festival on January 26, 2015 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

Robert Eggers is a filmmaker I do not traditionally think about all that much, but I have grown to respect him. If anything, I think my experience with Robert Eggers is equal to my experience with Ari Aster, who released “Hereditary” in 2018, and followed it up with “Midsommar” in 2019. Well, specifically, I mean this in reverse. Because the first movie I saw from Eggers was “The Witch,” which despite its quirky shots and angles, and non-traditional aspect ratio, left me feeling icky to the point where I hated myself for watching it. The next movie I saw from him, which if for some reason if you are still on the Robert Pattinson hate train, I recommend you watch, is “The Lighthouse.” That movie ended up being one of the most wonderfully weird films I have watched… Probably ever. Looking back, it kind of makes me want to invite a bro or two to my place, bring out some drinks, and dance to some old timey songs like maniacs.

Seriously, if “dope” had a current dictionary definition, they should literally implement this scene into it.

But with that said, I think it is important to note that my feelings regarding “The Northman” going into it were rather positive. I was gonna go see “Everything, Everywhere, All at Once,” but due to a conflict regarding someone I planned to see it with, it did not look like such a thing would work out. So I decided to use what free time I had and go see this movie instead.

It was… Interesting.

I feel like one of the best and worst things about films made by directors like Robert Eggers is that you probably don’t know all of what you’re going to get. But it doesn’t mean that Eggers’s quirkiness can always potentially sacrifice good storytelling. In fact, my first notable positive of the film is that the first act has pretty much everything I could want out of a movie like this. It properly sets up the world, solidly introduces some of the characters, including our main protagonist, has surprisingly halfway decent toilet humor, and even a menacingly intriguing presence from Willem Dafoe. The more I think about Willem Dafoe, the more I admire him as a performer. He practically commits to just about anything he chooses to do. I would love to see a role of his where he’s just sitting on the couch, watching television, and I am sure he’d still have the potential to be recognized during awards season. His role in the movie is not a big one, but it is one that I am sure if you saw it, you definitely won’t forget it. Unfortunately, I probably have forgotten about some of this movie. Partially because it has been a few weeks since I have seen it, but if you take out all of the weirdness of the film, some of the traits that are taken from other, perhaps better stories become more noticeable. And it would be fine if the rest of the movie kept my interest, but I will be real with you, I was checking the time to find out when the heck this thing was going to end.

I did not hate this film as much as “The Witch,” but I certainly did not adore it as much as “The Lighthouse.”

This is the biggest feature Eggers has done yet. Between a full-scale adventure that spans from land to water to the large cast, this movie ain’t small. Like, take the cast of “The Lighthouse” and multiply it by 25 or something. And I think the cast overall did a really good job. Alexander Skarsgård is incredibly convincing is a brooding, gritty main hero who wants nothing more than to avenge his father’s death. And I should not be surprised considering how he played Tarzan in the past in, coincidentally, another movie I maybe do not plan to watch again anytime soon despite liking when I saw it.

Nicole Kidman also gives one of the best performances in the film, delivering convincing line after convincing line, she is a true chameleon. I will also point out her look for this film. It blends in perfectly with the time period this movie is going for.

I would also like to give a mention to Anya Taylor-Joy because in addition to her well-executed performance as Olga of the Birch Forest, this movie seems to show that Eggers is bringing in his favorite co-workers from the past, either that, or actors really like working with him. Perhaps both ideas click here. We’ve seen Eggers bring back Willem Dafoe for a small role, Anya Taylor-Joy was also directed by Eggers in “The Witch.” When I think of actor/director relationships, my mind instantly goes to Michael Caine and Christopher Nolan, or Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi, or Bill Murray and Wes Anderson. I will likely be watching more of Eggers’s work if he decides to make more movies, so I will be curious if either of these actors will become a mainstay for Eggers and continue to work together for every movie they do. It’s show business, not show friends, but sometimes business can allow you to make friends along the way.

This movie had a great start, and frankly an intriguing visual outlook to it. One of the best things about a movie or a TV show is that it make you forget where you are. I did not feel like I was watching this movie somewhere in Burlington, Massachusetts, I instead felt like I was transported to the high seas. I think this movie manages to capture a better sense of escapism compared to some others I have seen. As much as I liked “The Tender Bar,” the escapism does not feel as authentic when you remember that Long Island does not have candlepin bowling. That said, I did not hate this movie, I just wish the story and characters brought me in as much as the quirks and visuals did.

In the end, “The Northman” is a movie that is DEFINITELY not for everyone, and I honestly do not know if it was for me. And it feels odd saying that, because I like a stylistic movie. I like a movie that is different. But I also like the classic hero’s journey. But I have seen weird done better. I have seen the hero’s journey done better. I’ve seen an uncle killing their nephew’s father in front of their own eyes done better in “The Lion King!” Well, the 1994 one, the new one is a waste of time. I probably will watch this movie again at some point, I don’t know when specifically, because I think it could warrant a second viewing. Although for now, I don’t hate the movie, but I do not particularly love it either. Let’s meet near the middle in terms of the verdict and confirm that I am giving “The Northman” a 6/10. It’s a positive grade because a lot of the movie’s strengths are evident and prominent from start to finish, but it also bored me, left me slightly uninterested at times, and when it comes to the Robert Eggers library, I prefer “The Lighthouse” by a long shot. For those of you who have not watched “The Lighthouse,” it may not be your cup of tea, but much like “The Northman,” it is a movie that I think you HAVE to see at least once to find out if it really is your cup of tea.

“The Northman” is now playing in theaters and is available to buy or rent through a VOD provider of your choice.

Thanks for reading this review! If you liked this review, I have more coming soon! Be sure to stay tuned for my thoughts on “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness!” 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 “The Northman?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite film from Robert Eggers? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Last Night in Soho (2021): BEST NIGHT EVER!

“Last Night in Soho” is directed by Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Baby Driver), and stars Thomasin McKenzie (Leave No Trace, Jojo Rabbit), Anya Taylor-Joy (Emma., The Queen’s Gambit), Matt Smith (Doctor Who, The Crown), Michael Ajao (Silent Witness, Attack the Block), Terence Stamp (Superman, Billy Budd), and Diana Rigg (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Game of Thrones). This film is about a young girl named Eloise, or Ellie, who aspires to be a fashion designer. She decides that she’s gonna try to make it big and in doing so, she moves to London to study at the London College of Fashion. One night, Ellie finds herself magically transported to the 1960s, where she encounters a young singer named Sandie. Throughout we follow Ellie’s journey as she stalks the singer and finds out more about her, maybe more than one would prefer.

“Last Night in Soho” was a particularly interesting movie on the surface in terms of its marketing, because it is one of the few movies I’ve barely seen marketed either through movie trailers in the theater, social media, or television, but every time I saw it, I found myself intrigued. If anything, it’s because of colors. I think ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been enamored with neon. To this point, and I’ve probably mentioned this once or twice in Scene Before history, neon is probably my favorite chemical element. And when you are setting a film in a city and passage of times like the ones at hand, there are quite a few opportunities for dazzlingly colorful scenes, which spoiler, this film has plenty of. It feels weird to say that though, because this film often presents itself as a horror show.

From start to finish, if you look at the film from a certain point of view, it is the less than fortunate life of a rising star, that being Anya Taylor-Joy’s character of Sandie. The character has immense talent and confidence, but she also is in a way being controlled by men, which we see throughout the film. Although that is not the main story, and instead, just a fraction of it.

I’m gonna be real with you. This film f*cking slaps. I was gonna go see this at a press screening, but I ended up not going. But once I saw that one of my local venues was showing this movie in 35mm film, I jumped at the opportunity to watch it. Having seen it, the film is bloody magical, mystical, kind of in a realistic rainbow and unicorn kind of way, but somehow, it finds a way to be scary. I remember seeing the trailer for this film back in the spring, and I was slightly jarred by it, not because it didn’t look good, but I was not sure what they were trying to go for. Is it a horror movie? Is it about music? Something maybe more erotic? At the same time though, this is a good example of how trailers should be done. Give a basic taste and feel of how the movie could go, but don’t spoonfeed the audience. Granted, that was just a teaser trailer. I actually never saw the legit, full-length trailer they put out before the film hit theaters which gives more of an indication of how things go, but that may have made me kind of glad. I went in somewhat blind, but walked out happy. Very happy in fact.

At its heart, I would not call “Last Night in Soho” a thriller nor a horror, I’d call it a coming of age story. I don’t mean that in a John Hughes kind of way where there’s comedy and shenanigans going on like in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” or “Weird Science,” but in the OTHER John Hughes kind of way where a young kid is trying to become an adult and they have to adapt to something unfamiliar or something they may prefer to avoid. In our main protagonist’s case, she’s been living in a rural environment all her life, but one day, she decides to make this enormous transition by going to college, and living in London. And of course, moving to the big city in a case like this can feel incredibly overwhelming. You almost don’t even know where to start. This would be a hard enough story for our main character to go through, but then you have a rabbit hole that develops in the 1960s from which she cannot stray away.

The other thing that ties this film together is the performances. Much of the film, specifically in the 1960s portion is about the chemistry, if you really want to call it that, between Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy. I really like these two whenever they’re in the same scenes together because you have McKenzie who is young, curious, and wants to find her way in the world. Meanwhile, you have Anya Taylor-Joy’s character, who like McKenzie, is not that old either, but she has maybe had some experience that hindered with her ability to do things from one day to the next. The whole idea of Thomasin McKenzie going to London was to be something bigger than herself, follow her passion of fashion design. Anya Taylor-Joy is sort of going through the same thing as an entertainer, a singer. And we see McKenzie, prior to her time travel adventures, she is obsessed with the 1960s period from a fashion perspective, so to have her travel here would be somewhat appropriate while also providing an increasingly edge of your seat story.

Honestly, I don’t know if Anya Taylor-Joy will win an Oscar this year, but when it comes to showing the physical beauty of the 1960s, she shines, but there’s also another side to her character, Sandie, where she seemingly refuses to embrace such beauty. After all, even though she is kind of finding her passion right in front of her, she’s also being followed and affected by all these men surrounding her.

Now this is the part of the review where I am supposed to come in with some sort of random flaw that I experienced with the film. Something like pacing, which was great. Maybe the music was not that memorable. There actually was some decent music to be honest, maybe not my favorite score of the year, I’d have to listen to it separately to fully judge. Maybe there was one performance that didn’t line up with the others. Not true, everyone felt like they were in sync. I’m sure if I thought hard enough, I could come up with something, because no movie’s perfect. But at the top of my head, I cannot think of anything. This movie had a promising beginning with a likable character, and capped itself off with one of the most mind-blowing endings I have seen in some time. My jaw was on the floor in the last twenty minutes. There are definitely scarier horror flicks out there depending on what you’re looking for, but I don’t choose to see it in that light. If you look at this film, like I did, as a coming of age story, it is one of the most entertaining and thrilling that has ever been done. Edgar Wright directed the crap out of this. Technically, this has some of my favorite shots and lighting of the year. If I were getting a new television, this would be a phenomenal test movie.

In the end, “Last Night in Soho,” oh my god! I have not seen anything like this in a long time! As for whether it will end up as my favorite movie of 2021, I am not sure. I have another movie that could take that spot, but if you want to know how much I enjoyed “Last Night in Soho,” this movie took me much longer to review than the other potential favorite, and the fact that I am still thinking about it, perhaps more than the NEXT movies I’m going to review, says something. If you go into this movie expecting a horror or thriller, I will warn you, you won’t walk out disappointed, but I did not walk out of this film having enjoyed one of those types of films. I walked out having enjoyed one of the single greatest coming of age tales I have ever watched. Whether it is a horror, thriller, or a coming of age story like I suggested, it does not change the fact that I’m going to give “Last Night in Soho” a 10/10!

“Last Night in Soho” is now playing in theaters everywhere and is available to buy on a VOD service of your choice.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for the all new MCU film, “Eternals.” FINALLY, I’m talking about this! There’s literally another MCU film around the corner! So for that reason, this review needs to be to done! I also have reviews coming for “Red Notice,” “Ron’s Gone Wrong,” “King Richard,” “Encanto,” and “Sing 2.” Six reviews coming up! That’s quite a list! And I’m also planning to see “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” pretty soon, so yeah, I’ve got a lot on my plate. If you want to see all this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, be sure to check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Last Night in Soho?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite decade? Fabulous Fifties? Rad Eighties? Maybe we’re going really retro with somewhere in Medieval Times? Let me know what your favorite decade is down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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

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

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

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

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

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

…They view it as a perfect “movie.”

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

…Horror? Sign me up!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Radioactive (2019): Imagine Elements

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“Radioactive” is directed by Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis, The Simpsons) and stars Rosamund Pike (Jack Reacher, Gone Girl), Sam Riley (Maleficent, Control), Aneurin Barnard (The White Queen, Dunkirk), and Anya Taylor-Joy (Emma, The Witch). This film is about the life and story of Marie Curie, a scientist who discovered radioactive elements on the periodic table, which eventually changed the world. The film also dives into her family life, and her love life.

I knew a bit about Marie Curie before I saw “Radioactive.” In fact, when it comes to women in science, I think her name has a bigger lock in my head compared to just about anybody else. After all, there was a point during my sophomore year in high school where I knew her name through various means, and I wanted to do a project on her for my chemistry class. Unfortunately, she was taken. But as a consolation prize, her husband, Paul Francis Curie was available. So I did have some history regarding the Curie name, even if I didn’t really know them or consider myself to be a part of their legacy. I just… reflected on them. That’s a good word to use at this point.

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Before we go any further, I just want to let everyone know that if you are an Amazon Prime subscriber, this movie is free as it is an original production from Amazon Studios. Thankfully, Gofobo sent me a notice that Amazon was letting people see the movie early for free. For various reasons, I decided to wait a little to review it, but I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity. Having said that… This is one of the best movies of 2020!

BUT… Hold your horses! If you have been following my recent work, you’d know THIS DOESN’T SAY MUCH. 2020, as a whole, has been a wreck for movies. Not just because of the industry-wide impact productions and crews everywhere happen to be facing, but what we have gotten so far has been nowhere near worthy of high honors. At this point, I would not be surprised if “Sonic the Hedgehog” ends up getting nominated by the Academy for Best Picture. It’s that crazy of a year! I will say though, “Radioactive” is a movie that going into it, I really did not have much awareness towards, but walking out of it, I felt that I made a superb life choice to gaze my eyes upon it.

Of the movies that I have seen this year, this honestly feels like the most worthy contender of being a “well-rounded” production. It has an excellent cast who performs well in each particular role on the list, the script is attention-grabbing and very much follows the much-respected “show, don’t tell” route of filmmaking. It’s a win for visual storytelling. Directing-wise, this was a solid vision of the period and people in which it portrays. The production design in this film may be the finest of the year. There’s a lot to unpack here and appreciate. Speaking of the production design aspect, I know the competition is not that heavy, and it could increase as we get movies like “Tenet,” “The New Mutants,” and so on, I think if any movie were to contend for a production design award at this point, “Radioactive” could win. I felt like I was in a different period than my own. And this REALLY says something, because when I review new movies. Guess where I’m watching them? Either on the big screen in theaters, or at home on my 4K TV. I used neither of those for this movie. Instead, I used a laptop. Why? Because the link to the movie was provided to me so I could watch it on smaller devices. To say that I watched a movie on my laptop and felt immersed from a picture standpoint, is a tremendous compliment.

Amazon.com: Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and ...

This film is based on a graphic novel by Lauren Redniss, and that thought never popped into my head while watching the movie. I never really made any sort of connection. But as I reflect upon what I witnessed, it adds up. A lot of the images are packed with impeccable detail, the colors really resemble a dreariness that isn’t exactly depressing, but more or less brings a pop to the eyes.

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One of the best parts overall of “Radioactive” is the performance given by Rosamund Pike. I will admit, I need to see more of her work, but she breaks a leg here. So far, it is probably my favorite performance of the year. This film centers around Marie Curie, and Pike does a really good job at maintaining the sense of importance such a character in an environment like this can provoke. This is one of the most notable women in all of scientific history, not only was her story laid out in an organized manner that allowed me to gaze at the screen, but it’s nice to see Pike lay a dramatic effect to somebody whose name I recognized, but didn’t have a complete knowledge about. Also one of the highlights of the picture, there are various points where the script jumps through time, and it doesn’t really feel out of place. It’s a bunch of various extended cases of cause and effect. The story attributes Marie Curie’s accomplishments and also notes future achievements that occur, and perhaps mainly occurred because of Curie’s past work. It does a really good job at making you care about the main character without necessarily seeing the main character do much of anything or put herself into action. The editing here felt seamless and organized. I dug it all.

There are not too many standout issues I have with “Radioactive.” When it comes to the 2020 library of movies, it is definitely one of those that I would consider watching again. Pacing-wise, “Radioactive” is not bad at all. I will say though, even though I like the overall way the script plays out, it is almost a little by the numbers. In fact for a period-based film about Marie Curie, it feels like the crew went with… let’s say a rather cliche or ordinary vibe for this type of film. Despite its flaws, I would recommend “Radioactive.” Again, if you have Prime Video and pay for it, you can get it for free. Check it out if you’re ever in the mood. But in all seriousness, if I had to give one description for this film, it is “well-rounded” if you ask me. All the elements (no pun intended) line up for a competent picture that is entertaining, yet honorable to Curie’s legacy.

In the end, I will remind you all… It’s 2020. If you just want a good movie at this point, “Radioactive” could end up being for you. “Radioactive” elegantly presented the story of Marie Curie and despite the few critiques I would give to this film, it was extremely well done, especially if you had to line this film up with whatever else came out this year. That is if this is even a year anymore. Nobody has a concept of time at this point.MV5BYjgwM2JhNjItNjFlYi00MjYwLTlhYWEtZjk2NzcwYmZmYTg0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjU1NzU3MzE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,675,1000_AL_ I’m going to give “Radioactive” an 8/10. In 2020, 8 really is the new 10. Sad to say, but if things actually come out in theaters on time or if we get better movies, that could change. Still mad about “Tenet…” Ugh.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for “Vivarium,” starring Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots. I won’t say much about the movie… But… It’s weird. Won’t say if that’s a good or bad thing, you’ll have to find out for yourself. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Or, you can get some alternate content from Scene Before through the official Facebook page! Give it a like! I want to know, did you see “Radioactive?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite movie about a woman in science? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes – Part 1

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Last week on Scene Before I addressed what my blog would be doing in regards to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. As you may know, I type and upload all my posts via WordPress.com, and as long as that does not go down, I should be fine. I can also easily do some of the work I do for this blog at home, but given how this virus has taken a toll on the film industry as a whole, it has prevented me from doing my main goal for Scene Before, which is to go out and see new releases in the theater. Granted, I was able to go see “Bloodshot” during the previous week at an AMC Prime, so I did get my precious theater time before everything shut down. So I will have reviews coming. That’s a guarantee.

But a couple things are for sure. 1. I am not a doctor, so if I were to tell you that this virus were to go away by tomorrow, I’d probably be lying to you. 2. Even if I was a doctor, I would most certainly be aware that there is a lot of confusion going on when it comes to COVID-19, so I might not be able to pinpoint an exact moment when society would return to normal. It could be April, May, June, July, August, who knows? If I had to guess, we would still have SOME restrictions in April, but we would continue to grow from that point. That depends on how seriously precautions are taken. Will people go out? Will people stay home? How many essential or non-essential activities will we engage in? Will testing improve? These are questions that need answering, and they will likely be answered overtime. But it doesn’t look like this virus will be eradicated as long as things like this continue happening.

And I will admit, I did travel recently. In fact I went to LA and Fort Lauderdale, but this was sort of in the unraveling of the “social distancing” trend. I stayed in LA for the three nights I had scheduled, but my mother and I went home two days early from Fort Lauderdale. We may have realized that we made the right decision.

But I don’t want to make this post, or this series, depending on how often I update this, all about me. Instead, I want to focus towards the movie industry and how it is being impacted by the coronavirus. Because right now, it’s not lookin’ pretty, like at all. Sorry, but it’s true. Here are some reasons why.

THEATERS SHUT DOWN:

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I already mentioned this briefly, but theaters pretty much everywhere have either been forced to shut down or voluntarily shut down. There are a few that are still open, most notably drive-ins, but the traditional movie theater just about as a whole, has closed doors until further notice. Sadly, not only does this include big chains like AMC Theatres, Regal Entertainment Group, and Cinemark, but also some of my favorite local cinemas who do not belong to a bigger name, and some need help now more than ever. One of the first notable closings I bat an eye towards was for the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, MA.

Although I will respect some people in the industry such as acclaimed director Edgar Wright (Baby Driver, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) for making a call to action when it comes to these smaller cinemas.

I will admit, at this time, I am trying to save my money in case this apocalypse becomes bigger than I can ever imagine, but this is an informative tweet and it has had me considering pulling some support towards theaters like the Coolidge. It’s a lovely theater that plays many films that are not traditionally found in typical venues, and they even have special events where industry professionals make appearances. Remember how I did my review for “Emma?” Well, when I saw the movie at the Coolidge, the film’s star Anya Taylor-Joy and its director, Autumn de Wilde, appeared together to talk about the film. I am still considering becoming a member in support of the theater. Maybe I’d make more visits to it as a result.

But speaking of which, I do feel bad not just for the establishments themselves, but their employees who work hard to keep the theaters running. Surprisingly, despite going to the theater a lot, I have never really developed a complex relationship with the employees who work there, but at the same time, I don’t want keep them from doing their job. With the recent closings of theaters, this automatically means that thousands of people cannot work. I could end this statement here and call it a day. However I have been reading from various users online who worked at outlets like Regal, and they said that they have been fired along with the rest of their staff. In fact, check out this little exchange I had on Twitter just the other day…

I looked into this and I saw a bunch of tweets from people who worked at Regal, reporting how poorly this situation has been handled by the company. In fact, as I right this, Cinemark employees seem to be going through the same deal.

Now I have heard about Regal’s situation much earlier, but I have not seen much news about this from major outlets. So I don’t know if I am planning to take this matter on any further, but I do want to know something. If anybody from a major movie theater chain like Cinemark or Regal was terminated, thought they were terminated and then corrected to not be terminated, or something else along those lines, feel free to send me an email, just go to my contact page and leave your information there. I also have a public Twitter, so if you want to DM me @JackDrees, feel free to let me know about what happened that either got you fired or even if you weren’t fired. How did your movie theater handle this matter? Were they justified? Unjustified? Let me know! I don’t know how far I might take this matter, but maybe, JUST MAYBE, I’ll address all of this in a future post.

NEW RELEASES COME HOME

I feel rather lucky that I got to see a number of 2020’s films prior to the big hit of COVID-19 here in the U.S.. Films like “Sonic the Hedgehog,” “Onward,” and “Emma.” However, these movies unfortunately all face a common problem. An extended chance at a theatrical experience will be missed for all of them. After all, since theaters are shut down, how is everyone going to see those movies? ON DEMAND TO THE RESCUE! Even though some films have recently released, studios happened to be kind enough to put their new releases onto VOD as soon as possible. Sony has done this with “Bloodshot,” Paramount has done this “Sonic the Hedgehog,” STX is going to do this with “The Gentlemen,” Warnermedia is doing this with “The Way Back,” and Comcast’s studios is not only putting out films like “Emma” or “The Hunt” on VOD, they are separating themselves from various studios such as Disney, who happen to be delaying all their future films until further notice, and putting DreamWorks’ newest film, “Trolls: World Tour” onto VOD the same day it is scheduled to release in theaters. Now I am willing to assume that some theaters, not all, but some, will be open around the time “Trolls: World Tour” comes out, specifically April 10th. So with that in mind, families can still go to the theater and maybe watch the movie together. But this also brings a unique opportunity for home viewing. And it’s not like it’s a new thing, because there have been movies that released through VOD around the same time that it has been put out in the theater, but given the type of movie that “Trolls: World Tour” happens to be, it’s somewhat unprecedented. Man, I hate that word! For the record, the movies that have recently been put on VOD early are only available to rent right now, specifically for $19.99. This is slightly less than one would pay for an individual IMAX ticket at some multiplexes during an evening or night show. When it comes to a film like “Onward” or “Trolls: World Tour,” $19.99 is not the worst of prices because if you are stuck with a family, it will make for time well spent compared to taking a group of four to the theater in the evening and spending $50 on tickets alone.

Then you add popcorn and candy into the mix. That crap full of calories ain’t cheap!

If you’re watching one of these new movies by yourself, it could be worth the price, but keep in mind that there happens to be little to no alternative right now. Let’s face it, ANY movie is better in the theater. But if you have a solid sound or screen setup, take advantage of it! Or if you want to brag to some socially distant friends that you saw the latest big film on TV as early as possible, give some of these films a rent! In fact, I have yet to see “The Hunt” in theaters, so maybe I’ll take advantage of the current situation and either rent it through services like FandangoNOW or Prime Video. In fact, if you have Prime Video, they just added a new section labeled “Prime Video Cinema” just in case you need help finding movies like these.

One of the bigger surprises to me when it comes to all of this is how much Disney seems to be getting involved. Granted, it doesn’t surprise me a ton that “Onward” did not take long to find a new home on VOD, but what did surprise me is how early it was declared that “Onward” would be on Disney’s new streaming service “Disney+.” Seriously! Not only is “Onward” now available digitally through various services, but it is coming to Disney+ on April 3rd. In fact, if you have young girls, chances are that their lives are about to be significantly better, while you are probably going to suffer through a tremendous meltdown, because Disney+ currently has “Frozen 2,” which I would have expected to appear on the service eventually, but due to its recent digital and physical media release, it sort of comes as a shock.

But one question still stands. How long will this crisis go on? Because if this goes on past August, then some trouble could be afoot. “Wonder Woman 1984” is coming out, and I have recently heard reports that the film could go straight to streaming. If it was still coming out in June and the crisis was still happening, it’s bad enough, but this film needs to see the light of day! There is a case to make for this streaming scenario, maybe the crisis will get out of hand, people will still spread the disease, and theaters need to keep their doors closed as a result. But my gosh, if my only option in August to watch “Wonder Woman 1984” is through streaming services, I will set my house on fire. Will I still watch “Wonder Woman 1984?” Probably. The review for it will probably be necessary given how comic book movies continue to be the big thing. If anything, I am optimistic enough that this abnormality could pass before “Wonder Woman 1984” comes out, but my question is, what will the people behind the movie do? I mean, think about it! There’s a lot of money to be made on this movie! It’s highly anticipated, the first one was Warner Brothers’ highest-grossing film of 2017, and speaking of the first movie, it pretty much set the basis of how you make a superhero film with a female lead. Sorry, “Captain Marvel!” “Wonder Woman” did this idea ten times better! I think if they stick with the rental route, the theatricality factor of the film will be lost and therefore make less money as a result. “Wonder Woman 1984” was also shot using IMAX cameras, so if anything, I am HOPING that the movie gets shown in IMAX theaters at least once! I think Disney and Marvel kind of made a solid call by delaying “Black Widow.” While it does disappoint me that we are not getting to see it as soon as possible, I am still looking forward to the theatrical experience to be had by all. Now as I write this, Warner Brothers has stated that they are going to plan on putting “Wonder Woman 1984” in theaters instead of streaming, but for all I know, maybe people are clumsy enough to prevent that from happening. Granted, it was already delayed once from June to August, but should this go on any longer than expected, I have every right to worry. Oh, and if they EVEN THINK about delaying “Tenet,” I will most likely be quitting movie watching for the rest of my life! I NEED THIS MOVIE NOW! IN IMAX 70MM FILM!

DRIVE-INS THRIVE

This crisis has brought a stunning reversal that maybe made me a little more surprised than I should have been. When one door closes, another one opens. In this case, the door slammed on movie theaters, but the doors seemed to have unlocked for drive-ins, and this kind of shocks me given how much we seem to forget about the drive-in based on everything else in our culture. Yes, every now and then, a conversation will come up and the drive-in will be part of the discussion and there will be talk about how cool it is, but not everybody goes. In fact, I have never been to a drive-in myself. Even the closest one to my house is a bit of a hike. But according to Deadline Hollywood, many of the more prominent exhibitors to continue operations in states like Arizona over the past weekend happened to be drive-ins. According to the article…

“Among Onward‘s top 30-grossing theaters this past weekend, drive-ins repped 25 of them. For Invisible Man, 20 out of its 30 theaters earned money from drive-ins, Call of the Wild‘s saw 15 out of 30, and Bloodshot 14 out of 30. All of Onward‘s top 20 theaters were drive-ins, led by the Glendale 9 in Glendale, AZ with close to $10K. Invisible Man‘s top 17 theaters were drive-ins, led by the Starlight 4 in Atlanta, GA with $11K. Bloodshot‘s top venue was also Atlanta’s Starlight with just over $7K, while Call of the Wild‘s top theater was the Swan drive-in Blue Ridge, GA with just under $5K.”

TO READ FULL DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD ARTICLE, CLICK HERE

And should movie theaters remain closed for a few more weeks, maybe six, this will bring a greater opportunity for those who run drive-ins or have a drive-in near where they live. I live in New England, where the weather is not the most pleasant as we speak, but more drive-ins will open as we get closer to eventual warmer weather. This can be a great alternative to the movie theater, while allowing customers to practice social distancing in the surroundings of their vehicle. And if you have a large family, it could make for a fun, not to mention relatively inexpensive night out, at least compared to a traditional theater where you pay per ticket as opposed to per car. Should this crisis eventually develop a fear of socializing or being close to others, maybe drive-ins could get an uptick overtime. This does not mean the traditional theaters could suffer, because they often have the advantage of not having to worry about weather, and a proper sound system.

BIG QUESTION: Are movie theaters in deep trouble?

There has been a conversation going on for years as for when movie theaters could potentially shut down for good. Sort of in the same way that some would wonder when physical media could go away. I already mentioned that movie theaters are closing their doors for the time being, yada yada yada, but I must not forget one more important notion. This crisis could be costly. A lot of studios are thinking in a certain direction, and it has somewhat paid off. They are losing money as a result. But what else are they gonna do? Release big movies to limited theaters? Have these movies be left in the dust? But if this crisis never happened, Paramount could have hit it big with “A Quiet Place Part II.” Disney could have another live-action remake monster hit with “Mulan,” and if Universal avoided postponing “F9,” their upcoming “Fast & Furious” flick, I would probably be willing to bet that the movie would be this year’s most precious piece of box office gold. If movie theaters open back up any time soon, there’s a solid chance that a lot of titles could be playing, but they wouldn’t make much money. Would we be going back to seeing “Bloodshot” again? For all I know, they could open back up in time for “Wonder Woman 1984” to have a solid start to the industry’s revitalization. Or, what if they simply waited until the middle of July to open “Tenet?” I doubt that the movie theater industry would intend on doing this, but “Tenet” is a movie that is being labeled as an “event.” Why not bring back the moviegoing experience with an event? I would immediately flock to it! Especially in this case if they have a nearby IMAX playing this movie in 70mm film. Granted… I also desperately want to see “Top Gun: Maverick” so… I will simply be looking forward to that. I think the business given to movie theaters once this is all ends is going to mostly depend on the films being presented. How many big movies are being pushed back towards eternity? What movies will remain once the movie theaters open? But if people don’t show up, and if the corporations don’t have enough money to pay workers or keep lights on, then there’s where trouble swoops in.

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis is continuously reminding me of the beginning of “Avengers: Endgame.” It almost feels like five years have passed in just a matter of a few days and everything is desolate, and completely abandoned. How much longer will this go on? It’s hard to tell. Countries like South Korea seemed to curb the spread, but Italy seems to be spiraling out of control. One light at the end of the tunnel is that China has recently reopened hundreds of movie theaters. Granted, it’s probably going to take some time for its people to return to the dark rooms of movie magic, but it at least provides some positivity to this negative crisis.

If you have a proper account setup, be sure to like this post if you want to see more of this series, specifically titled “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes,” that I am setting up for the time being. Also, be sure to follow Scene Before if you want to stay up to date on the latest posts provided by the Movie Reviewing Moron. To follow Scene Before, use an email or WordPress account! It really helps me out! Also, speaking of helping me out, be sure to like my Facebook page, because let’s face it. Life is boring right now! Scrolling through sites that are full of cat videos, epic fails, or jokes about toilet paper is exactly what we need! Get crackin’!

Thanks for reading this post! Again, if you want to see more of this content, follow the instructions above, and remember to stay safe and we’ll get through this together! In other words, I’m trying to come up with phrases that do not rhyme with “We’re all gonna die” so I can stay sane. Let’s just elbow bump our way through this crisis and let it pass! We’ve got this! In other news, my next review is going to be for Pixar’s “Onward” which is now available on digital! I hope to have the review up by the end of the week, and if not, maybe it’ll be up at the end of the month. Who knows? Be sure to follow Scene Before, like this post, and stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, how are you currently going about the COVID-19 crisis? Is it no big deal to you right now? Is it not in your county, your state, your province, your country? Or is it affecting you in some way? Or, what was the last movie you saw in the theater? ALSO, when was the last time you went to a drive-in? What did you see? How was your experience? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Emma (2020): Such News! This Movie’s Solid!

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“Emma” is directed by Autumn de Wilde and this is her feature-length debut. This film stars Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Thoroughbreds), Johnny Flynn (Song One, Beast), Josh O’Connor (The Crown, Florence Foster Jenkins), Callum Turner (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, The Only Living Boy in New York), Mia Goth (Nymphomaniac, High Life), Miranda Hart (Spy, Miranda), and Bill Nighy (Norm of the North, Underworld). This film is based on a Jane Austen novel of the same name and follows its titular character as a selfish woman living in 1800s England. Throughout said time, she is revealed to be meddling in the love lives of the people she happens to know.

When I created Scene Before, my original intention for the blog was to give my honest thoughts on various matters. And to be completely truthful, this movie is not my cup of tea. In fact, the main reason why I went to see it is because there was a free screening at a local indie theater where Anya Taylor-Joy and director Autumn de Wilde happened to be appearing. I figured it would make for a fun night out. But when it comes to original material this movie is based on, I was never previously invested. In fact, I have a feeling this is going to piss off some bibliophiles reading this, Jane Austen wrote the book that I had the most miserable experience reading in high school, specifically “Pride and Prejudice.” I never found it that interesting, entertaining, or compelling. It was the complete opposite of a page-turner, but I was forced to read it, so I had no choice but move along. When it comes to “Emma,” I have never picked the book up. However, I was somewhat interested in this movie. In fact, if anything, this trailer right here PUMPED. ME. UP! Watch this trailer!

 

The music! The cuts! The fast-pace of it all! Whoever edited this deserves some toilet paper and hand sanitizer to get through this dire time!

However, that’s just a trailer. How was the movie itself? Pretty decent, actually. While “Emma” is undoubtedly nowhere near my cup of tea as far as stories go, I found myself chuckling, smiling, and overall having a fun time watching this movie. And a lot of it may have to do with the attention to detail of everything in it. The production design could eventually go down as some of my favorite of the year. The colors are vibrant and match the charm of this movie’s specific time frame. The performances, across the board, are well executed. The ensemble of “Emma” is well put-together. If this were a silent film, I don’t think I’d be able to remove my eyes away from the screen just from how hypnotizing everything feels. It’s easy to tell that Autumn de Wilde brought her vision to life, or depending on who you ask, Jane Austen’s vision to life. In fact, before she took on “Emma” she dived deep into photography, which may partially signify how a lot of the movie’s individual frames feel like a painting or something you’d find hanging in an art gallery. The cinematography in the film at various points is extremely pretty. I am not lying. As for costume design, that is another highlight. Granted, when it comes to movies that take place in a period or setting like this, it is not that surprising that costume design is a key factor into what could make the movie at least partially work.

This is not the first “Emma” adaptation brought to the screen, but given how I have not seen the other adaptations of this kind, I don’t really have much to compare it to. But I feel that if I were to read the original novel of “Emma,” I would at least be somewhat satisfied by the writing style of this adaptation, given how it is true to the period, and the vibe of the film has a rather witty feel to it. Jane Austen is an author who seems to bring an individual feel to her stories, and that seems to be translated well here. Granted, when I read “Pride and Prejudice,” the writing style made it one of the most infuriating experiences of my time on this planet. But a movie like this, brings life to said writing style and evokes a sense of imagination.

Fun fact about the Emma character, when she was being portrayed by Anya Taylor-Joy, the actress thought she kind of came off as an unlikable being. Granted, that is kind of the point. And knowing what the movie is about and what it exactly contains, I can understand why. But at the same time, Emma is a character who I consider to admirable despite how selfish or manipulative she happens to be. Part of it may go towards the way the movie presents her and how I cannot imagine anyone else in Emma’s shoes except Anya Taylor-Joy. The casting for Emma herself was very well done given how there happens to be some sort of individualistic flair attached to said character.

As for problems, while this film is well-paced, it still has one or two moments where it is kind of a drag compared to others. Regarding the movie itself, it is somewhat forgettable. I may be cheating with this given how I am reviewing this almost a full month after seeing it in the theater, but this is a story that I do not think I’ll want to tune into again while it is still fresh in my memory. Granted, Comcast-owned studios, including Focus Features, the distributor of “Emma,” just so happen to be putting their movies that were supposed to be in theaters onto VOD, so I could watch it again at home if I really wanted to, but “Emma” is not a movie that I felt an instant connection to. I just thought to myself, “Eh, that was a fun couple of hours.” Maybe the novel is better. Because, you know, apparently every book is SUPPOSED to be better than the movie. The “Emma” movie is witty, charming, and marvelous to gaze upon, but it’s missing something. It has the vision, it has the individualistic style, but it doesn’t have the oomph factor I want in movies nowadays.

In the end, I found myself rather satisfied with “Emma.” I don’t think this satisfaction will ever encourage me to read the book, but at the same time, the experience I had while watching the movie in a pretty full theater could have been a contributing factor to making it feel somewhat communal. By the way, remember when we went to movie theaters? It was a long time ago! “Emma” is not my cup of tea, and I think this review kind of shows it. However, I will not deny that I indeed had a good time. I’m going to give “Emma” a 7/10.

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let you all know that my next review is going to be for Pixar’s new movie “Onward.” By the way, if you want to watch the movie before I review it, it is coming to digital tonight due to all the theaters shutting down. So if you want to rent it and read my review if you want to see where we stand in terms of our thoughts on the film, feel free to chill out on your couch, go to a preferred digital service whether it be Prime Video, Fandango Now, Google Play, or Vudu, and you’ll have access for the movie, that way you can watch it and determine your thoughts on it before reading my review. That is unless I somehow list my thoughts for “Onward” before the movie drops everywhere, but we shall see. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can tuned for more great content! Also, since you clearly have all the time in the world, be sure to check out the Scene Before Facebook page to get the latest updates of the goings on for the Movie Reviewing Moron. Hey, that rhymes! I want to know, did you see “Emma?” What did you think about it? Or, did you see any of the other adaptations of “Emma?” What are your thoughts on those? Did you read the book? Give me your thoughts on that! Leave your thoughts and opinions down below, and stay safe everyone! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Marrowbone (2018): Crossing the Line Into An Unmemorable Horrorland

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“Marrowbone” is directed by Sergio G. Sánchez and stars George MacKay, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Mia Goth, and Matthew Stagg in a movie that starts as every happy-go-lucky story does, with the mother dying immediately. This mother’s death now leaves four children varying in age to take care of themselves. At the same time, this death has to remain in secret. If the secret gets out to the town lawyer, Tom Porter (Kyle Soller), it’ll be revealed that the new caretaker, Jack, the oldest of the children, has nobody in his home that is over the age of 21. This gives the alert that Jack, is illegally taking care of his younger siblings. That’s not all, because throughout the movie, they have to deal with a monster inside the house.

I bought this movie for $15 during my time at New York Comic Con, so why not watch it? Going into the flick, I was somewhat intrigued as to what I was about to see. I am not a complete and total stranger to the studio behind this movie, Magnolia Pictures, although in this case the studio label is Magnet. They made a movie that came out earlier in the decade, “Grand Piano,” starring Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings, Happy Feet) and John Cusack (Better Off Dead, Say Anything), which I wholeheartedly admired. Naturally, while I wasn’t expecting to compare this movie to “Grand Piano” (different genres, different crew, etc), I did have some faith in Magnolia because their name is not as prominent as Disney or Sony, which for the most part, seems to be all about the money as opposed to quality. They operate on the more independent side of the spectrum, much like another prominent studio, which I honestly probably like a lot better than Magnolia, A24.

Another thing to consider is how good 2018’s movies have been so far, specifically in the horror genre. “A Quiet Place” came out in April and it was one of the most innovative horror flicks I’ve seen. What John Krasinski was able to do not only with as someone who had little materials to work with, but also as a first-time director is astounding to me. My favorite horror film of the year however, has to be, coincidentally, an A24 film. To be specific, “Hereditary.” Toni Collette better be nominated for an Academy Award, the cinematography was stylistically successful, and it is a truly wild ride.

“Marrowbone” is not as good as those two films.

Before the crew sends their pitchforks flying in the air, all the way to my house, let me just state, it’s good.

One of “Marrowbone’s” biggest strengths comes from the cast. The chemistry between all of the children is extremely believable, there’s even some chemistry between one couple I was able to buy into, and as far as everyone’s general acting ability goes, a job well done is in order.

Another aspect I totally found myself getting into was the score. It’s been days since I watched the film from start to finish, but it somewhat reminded me at times of what Howard Shore did for “Lord of the Rings.” Since I seem to be spitballing Shore’s name right now, I’ll also give a shoutout to Fernando Velázquez for creating the excellent score for this very film. The score also manages to accommodate the stellar cinematography, most notably the land shots. Will this receive any Best Cinematography awards during the upcoming season? Hard to tell, this movie didn’t make much money during its limited release and it is not even out on digital yet.

When it comes to the main characters, the oldest of the siblings goes by the name of Jack. He is the one responsible for hiding the family secret throughout the whole runtime. While there are moments in the movie where I do side with him, while there are moments where I do root for him, there’s also this thought that I’m currently having in my mind that is trying to get me to gather all of my other thoughts about him. Jack is a likable, although slightly unmemorable character. Then again, it’s not as easy for him to stand out when you have a young kid in the mix who occasionally serves as comic relief.

By the way, that young kid’s name is Sam and he is played by Matthew Stagg. Out of everyone in the film, I gotta say that he delivers the best performance. No, he is not the next Jacob Tremblay, he is not the next great child actor to be remembered for eternity (might need to see more work before my ultimate verdict on that though). I also got to give credit to the writing for the movie because some of the character’s most notable lines are pretty much what the audience might as well be thinking. He is curious, he is suggestive, and he is charming. Having seen Matthew Stagg perform as this character, I can’t imagine anyone else playing him.

Also, I can’t go without mentioning that this is a horror movie and there are supposed to be some scares in this thing. The scares are there, but I feel like maybe they could have been taken up a slight notch. I wasn’t really genuinely terrified by what I’ve witnessed. However I must say I will say that the monster this movie seems to heavily revolve around is very well done special effects-wise. Nice work! The scares are not horrible, but they are also not as memorable or outstanding as I’d hope they’d be.

In the end, I don’t really have much else to say about “Marrowbone” because everything else I really do have to say is in spoiler territory, and if I actually had the ability to remember more of the movie, I would be talking about it more. Again, it’s not a terrible movie. It could be some decent background noise on Halloween, but there’s not really much more credit I can give to it other than that. Well, maybe except the production value, that is excellent. Also, I must say, another factor that makes me think this is worth a second viewing is that there is a 4K Blu-ray for this. By the way, I used that for my review. So I guess that copy is a hearty $15 well spent. Perhaps this movie would also get the same verdict I gave to live-action “Ghost in the Shell” last year. It’s not a fantastic movie, but if you want a movie that can show off a new giant TV, this wouldn’t be a bad pick. Especially when you consider there’s a 4K edition of it available. Maybe part of my lack of remembrance towards “Marrowbone” has to do with my review coming days after seeing the movie, as opposed many of my other reviews which traditionally are posted in much less time compared to when I finished the movie. So in that case, maybe some human error applies to this. I’m going to give “Marrowbone” a 6/10. I have a strong feeling this grade could go up in the future during a potential rewatch, but for now, this verdict stands. But still, going back to the beginning, 2018 has been one of the best years for movies I’ve ever seen. By far the best year for movies since I started Scene Before. The good movies this year have certainly outweighed the bad. There were a number of all timers like “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?.” Even some of the stinkers this year couldn’t rival some of my worst movies of the past couple of years. Maybe “The Hurricane Heist” sucked, but it was certainly better than “The Space Between Us.” Melissa McCarthy’s “Life of the Party” took every ounce of life I had and set it on fire, but it was not as bad as that 2016 “Ghostbusters” movie she starred in. “Marrowbone” is a slightly forgettable movie, but it still gets a 6 from me. Well done.

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Thanks for reading this review! I just want to say to everyone reading this that I wish you all a Happy Halloween and good luck avoiding teepees, eggs, and most importantly, police officers telling your kids they are too old to trick or treat. Speaking of treats, this weekend I’ll be my making 4th annual trip to Rhode Island Comic Con, and I’ll be documenting all of the craziness that is bound to go down. I should also have you all know that it is my birthday weekend, so hopefully, I can beg somebody to give a free autograph or photo. Cons are not cheap! Also, there’s a movie theater not far from me in the area, so if I have the time, maybe I’ll catch something there. I’m well aware that this weekend is the release of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” one of my most anticipated movies of the fall. And no, I’m not reviewing “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” (depending on how many requests I end up getting)! Maybe if I want to torture myself I will do such a thing, but for now, I’m staying away! 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 “Marrowbone?” What did you think about it? Or, since it is Halloween, what is your favorite horror movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!