Tenet (2020): This Review Hasn’t Happened Yet

Before we dive into this review, I just want to remind everyone that this is spoiler free. “Tenet” is one of the biggest movies of 2020 for a lot of reasons. There are not only a lot of people waiting desperately to see this movie, like myself, but there are also many people who might want to wait to see this movie depending on how safe it is to do such a thing. There’s also some areas like New York, California, the country of Japan that for the most part, cannot obtain access to this movie yet. With this in mind, I am going to attempt to be as vague as possible with my thoughts on “Tenet.” Kind of like its own trailers. What did we learn? Not much, which I don’t mind because I’d rather go into a movie knowing as little as possible. What’s the point of a trailer if it’s going to simply show the entire movie? I do go into detail on one or two things, but the things I take the deepest dives into don’t have much to do with plot, story, or characterization. Without further ado, it is time to start my review for “Tenet,” otherwise known as the movie I have waited since the Jurassic era to witness on the big screen.

The day we’ve waited for has arrived…

“Tenet” is written and directed by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Dunkirk) and stars John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman, Ballers), Robert Pattinson (Good Time, The Lighthouse), Elizabeth Debicki (The Burnt Orange Heresy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), Dimple Kapadia (Bobby, Fearless), Michael Caine (The Cider House Rules, Interstellar), and Kenneth Branagh (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Hamlet) in a film involving NOT time travel, but time INVERSION, which makes time move backward. John David Washington plays The Protagonist (yes, that’s his actual name) who journeys through a twilight world and faces a mission that could mean the difference between peace… or World War III.

It’s finally here! “Tenet” is arguably my most anticipated movie of 2020, not to mention of all time. For the record, I keep saying “Dune” is my most anticipated film of the year, but given how “Tenet” is supposedly the movie that will “save cinema,” that’s an added bonus for me. I’ve talked about this movie long before it came out. I reviewed one of the trailers, I did a couple posts on what we knew about the movie at the time, and I even brought it up a couple times during my temporary “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes” series. I don’t think I’ll be updating that anytime soon, because I can only take so much talk about COVID-19 at this point. “Tenet” is also directed by Christopher Nolan, my favorite director working today. “Dunkirk” ended up being one of my favorite movies of 2017, taking my #4 spot at my end of the year countdown series. Two of his movies showed up in my “Top Movies of the 2010s (THE BEST 25)” countdown, which by the way, one of them ended up being my #1 pick! That movie by the way is “Interstellar,” which is one of my favorite movies of all time! Christopher Nolan is a director who individualizes his work in the industry, partially because he’s developed a distinctive style himself, but also because a studio as big as Warner Bros. trusts him at this point to make “his movie.” Plus, this movie was shot entirely in 65mm film, much of which was through IMAX. I’m a sucker for large format filmmaking, and I knew that this movie was gonna look CRISP.

To this day, Christopher Nolan has not made a bad film. Keep in mind, I still have not watched “Following,” but I’ve seen every other film from him. I really enjoyed “Memento” and I thought its storytelling methods were pretty solid. His “Dark Knight” trilogy is not only fun, but kind of refreshing in a world full of big CGI comic book movies. “Interstellar” is incredibly rewatchable and I stand by it being arguably my most cherished movie experience. “The Prestige,” while I don’t recall much about it, was fairly enjoyable. “Insomnia” is an entertainingly gritty thriller and features a fine performance from Al Pacino. “Dunkirk” is proof that you don’t always need a centralized character to tell a story, and I kind of like that. As if “Inception” wasn’t already cool enough, I rewatched it four times this year! Two of those times were in IMAX! It’s that good! So, is this the movie we’ve been waiting for? Is this the savior of cinema? Is “Tenet” 2020’s goldmine? Is it worth the hype?

Honestly, I’d say yes. The best way I can describe “Tenet” is this. If you’ve never been to Fenway Park in Boston before, they have this one section where all the seats happen to be green, except for one. Why? Because former Red Sox player Ted Williams hit a 502 ft home run towards that seat, and even though all the other seats remain green to this day, that one seat, which is 502 ft from home plate, is red. I feel like in my imagination, all the other movies that I’ve seen this year, all possess the typical green seats, but “Tenet,” because of how much I enjoyed it, gets the special spot. I say that because as I’ve discussed on here before, 2020 sucks, not just in general, but in the case of what I focus on regarding Scene Before, our cinematic calendar is pretty much a waste.

We’ve barely had any animated features this year, and while they are not my goto genre, I’ve watched at least five per year in the past couple years. It’s something I miss, and I really hope more can come out because Best Animated Feature is a category I do during my awards show that I put on here. There’s one movie that I have lost all motivation to review partially because of the pandemic, and partially because I’ve pretty much put it out of my mind upon leaving the theatre (That movie is “Bloodshot,” by the way.) All the big blockbusters like “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” “F9,” “Morbius,” “Eternals,” and “Top Gun: Maverick” have all been pushed back about a year. “Tenet” is not only a movie that, unexpectedly, would supposedly “save cinema,” but it was one that was made to specifically show off the power of cinema.

I saw “Tenet” at a regular 2D screening at an AMC, and it felt like I was at an RPX or something. It really felt like the audio was cranked up beyond the maximum limit. This movie has some of the most immersive, and all time best sound editing I’ve heard in my life. Everything from the opening scene to the grand climax is magic for the ears. As for sound MIXING… That’s a different story, and quite honestly, it’s my biggest problem of the film.

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I’ve witnessed a few reviews before going to see “Tenet,” not mainly because I wanted to know how the movie was, but because I want to support the content from those who created it. Anyway, they seem to be having the same issue as me. “Tenet” is an audible, earth-shattering movie. Christopher Nolan is no stranger to this description. Have you guys seen “Dunkirk?” That’s gotta be one of the loudest movies I’ve heard in my life! Nolan is my favorite director of all time, but if there is one valid critique I will give to him, and this even stands true for “Interstellar,” my favorite movie of his. Christopher Nolan seems to be hyper-obsessed with having the sound mix be as obnoxious as possible, allowing sounds in the background like shotgun blasts, explosions, even music to take over the ears, thus making us lose some of what could be important dialogue. This wasn’t a huge dealbreaker because as someone who is an aspiring screenwriter, I know that words are not always necessary. Film is a visual medium. As long as I can see what’s going on and do so coherently, everything seems to be fine. Granted, I will always take good dialogue whenever possible, but what’s the point of making a movie when you can’t see or hear what people are “doing?”

I will also say, this movie has a lovable ensemble. Everyone from John David Washington to Elizabeth Debicki to Kenneth Branagh all happen to be great in the film. I enjoyed the presence of all their characters. I will point out though, once again, John David Washington plays a character whose name happens to be “The Protagonist.” I won’t say much about it, but I like the direction in which the movie took that meaning. I’ve read some things about “Tenet” before seeing it and I had no idea what that name could have to do with the movie, but the way they handled it was surprisingly pleasant, so kudos!

Speaking of “Tenet’s” ensemble, I will also bring up Michael Caine. For those of you who don’t follow Christopher Nolan, I should have you know that Michael Caine has been in every one of his movies since “Batman Begins.” He even had an uncredited role in “Dunkirk!” I’ve read about this before the film, and this is not spoiler, but Michael Caine’s character in the movie… is named Michael. Because, he’s already played everybody else in Nolan’s imagination, right? I won’t say much about Caine’s appearance in this film, but there’s a moment in the movie where The Protagonist ends a chat with him and my brain clicked as soon as I heard The Protagonist refer to Caine’s character as “Sir Michael.” Did Christopher Nolan originally write this movie with himself in mind for the lead role? I seriously want to know at this point!

I have already raved about this movie from an audio perspective, calling it one of the most immersive experiences I’ve had all year. I’ll also point out, I have never seen a movie “live in concert” before, but if they ever get to a point where they do such a thing for “Tenet,” I will IMMEDIATELY buy a ticket! Because let me just tell you one thing right now. “Tenet” may just have my favorite film score that I have heard in years!

One thing I’ve gathered about Christopher Nolan as a director is his tendency to work with people he’s worked with in the past. I recently mentioned Michael Caine. Nolan’s worked with Tom Hardy a couple times. Same goes with Anne Hathaway. He brought back Kenneth Branagh for this film. Hoyte Van Hoytema is the cinematographer for this movie, making this his third collaboration with Nolan. And if you ask me, this is another solid entry to his resume and I cannot wait to see how they used the IMAX cameras for this film. But I will point out one collaboration that I was shocked to see missing once I heard about it.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – JANUARY 16: Composer Hans Zimmer arrives at the 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at The Beverly Hilton hotel on January 16, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

No Hans Zimmer.

HOLLYWOOD, CA – FEBRUARY 24: Composer Ludwig Goransson poses with the Best Original Score award for “Black Panther” in the press room during at Hollywood and Highland on February 24, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Why is he not here? He’s busy. He’s been doing “Wonder Woman 1984,” “No Time to Die,” “Hillbilly Elegy,” and perhaps the biggest reason why he couldn’t fit “Tenet” into his schedule, “Dune.” Hans Zimmer said “no” to doing the score for “Tenet” because he wanted to fit “Dune” into his busy calendar. There’s no beef between him and Christopher Nolan, but he just wants to do “Dune” so bad to the point where he had to give up doing the score for “Tenet.” I was a bit disappointed considering how Zimmer and Nolan are one of the best duos in Hollywood history. The score for “Interstellar” is one I listen to quite often. However, the movie ended up getting Ludwig Göransson (The Mandalorian, Black Panther) who I will point out, may have made my favorite main theme for all the characters in Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe, specifically for Black Panther.

RIP Chadwick Boseman and Wakanda forever.

I must say… This score very much reminded me of a few movies. It felt like something out of the “James Bond” franchise, which does make sense as this is a spy movie. But it also reminded me of the “Blade Runner” franchise, especially “Blade Runner 2049,” and I say that because, and pardon my unprofessional-sounding diction here, the score sounded “boomy” at times. That’s the best way I can describe it. There’s this occasional drum pattern of some sort that comes and goes, I cannot get it out of my head at this point. In fact, when I got home, I did something regarding this movie that I have never done before. I went online, and tried to see where I could buy a physical copy of the CD. There are a few movies like “Knives Out” or “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” where I would watch it, enjoy the soundtrack, and maybe a couple days or a week later find the soundtrack on YouTube and listen to it. This is one of those rare times where I wanted to pay money for a physical copy.

Going with a different than usual composer for Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” sounded like a rather bold, not to mention somewhat peculiar move when it comes to my first impression, but this may have been the best thing that could have happened to “Tenet” overall. Honestly, looking back, I don’t mind this change. Let me just say, the last film that Nolan did before “Tenet,” specifically “Dunkirk,” was undoubtedly amazing. And if you ask me, a couple parts of the score were worthy of a thumbs up. However, if I had compare that to many of the other entries to Hans Zimmer’s resume, not just the projects he’s done with Nolan, but even projects like “Man of Steel,” “The Lion King,” “Kung Fu Panda,” and “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” the “Dunkirk” score felt kind of underwhelming.

The thing I really enjoyed about Ludwig Göransson’s score is that it really emphasized the scale of the movie. The entire time I felt like I was on an action-packed theme park ride that specifically caters to adults. Aside from that, it’s fast-paced, and I would not mind listening to it every single day for the rest of my life. I know funerals are supposed to be sad and that sort of thing, and honestly, the last thing I want to do is know that I will make everyone cry at my funeral, no matter what I bring to society. So, if anyone wants some epic music for my funeral that way not many people cry but it’ll still tie into a “Jack Drees” theme, download the “Tenet” soundtrack on your preferred service! Then again, when I die, why should I care? I can’t plan a funeral when I’m dead! It’s for the living to remember the dead as they choose! I can’t interfere! It’s improper!

Would I like to see Ludwig Göransson collaborate with Christopher Nolan again in the future? Yes and no. Let’s say they do a “Tenet 2.” I’m not implying I want a sequel. I’m not implying the movie ends highlighting plans to do a sequel. I’m just saying IF they do a “Tenet 2,” that’s an obvious yes from me. I cannot imagine anybody else handling this IP from a musical perspective at this point.However, I would either like to see Hans Zimmer come back because he and Nolan go together like bread and butter, or they get some other composer to come in like Danny Elfman or Alan Silvestri. It would also have to depend on the type of movie they do. I may be getting ahead of myself here, but I think Ludwig Göransson smashed this score so hard, that if he does another one, I will probably end up looking forward to it so much that I will just end up feeling underwhelmed upon hearing it no matter what happens. In addition, I don’t know how Göransson could top this score in another Nolan project. To be fair, he’s a musical genius and one of the more unique film composers I’ve heard, so he could find a way, but I also have my doubts. It’s kind of like when I watch “America’s Got Talent” sometimes during the quarterfinals or semifinals and there’s one act that does something so amazing that even though I WANT to see more from that act and I want them to succeed, I don’t see them topping what they just did, so it would be hard to tell if they could do something nearly as cool if they advance. It’s a compliment, but also kind of a curse.

“Tenet,” to be quite honest, is not my favorite Christopher Nolan movie. Nor is it my least favorite. As of right now, when it comes to my rankings, it ends up somewhere in the middle for me. I enjoyed it more than all the films in the “Dark Knight” trilogy, but I’d say that I enjoyed films like “Dunkirk” and “Inception” more. But as a filmmaker, Nolan is like Pixar. Bad Pixar is still better than a lot of movies. Remember “Onward?” I gave that movie a 7/10. That’s a low grade for Pixar, but a lot of filmmakers would kill to have their movie receive that positive of a review. But I will say that when it comes to “Tenet,” this movie has something going for it. Rewatchability.

Now, I already bought tickets for a second “Tenet” screening BEFORE going to my first one. The main reason is because I bought a ticket for myself, but I wanted to see the film in IMAX, but I didn’t buy an IMAX ticket, plus I figured it would make for a good outing with my father. So my second outing is so he could see the movie as well.

Not gonna lie, I’m already thinking of buying tickets to a third screening. Maybe I’ll do Dolby Cinema this time. I gotta check all the boxes for different formats I can see this movie in. In all seriousness, not only is this film rewatchable for entertainment purposes, but like some other Nolan flicks, I feel like I missed some things the first time around that could be picked up on a second, third, maybe even fourth viewing. And I’m not saying that as someone who feels like they HAVE to watch “Tenet” again, I’m saying that as someone who wants to. I don’t think I’ve wanted to go back to the movies to rewatch something this much since… I don’t know… Maybe ever. This film has some problems. The sound mixing is the most obvious and I think going forward, I’m not sure how much control Nolan has over the sound mixing process, I think that could be something that he needs to either stay away from, or something he should leave to others. Either that or just make a silent film. Nice little throw back. It could be shot in 4:3 on 8mm film. AMC could bring in special projectors for select screenings. It’s event cinema! Come on, Nolan! I’m writing your ideas for you! Use them! Although between the likable performances, the dazzling camerawork, the unreal use of practical effects, one of the most heart-pumping opening scenes I’ve witnessed in recent memory, one of the craziest climaxes I’ve witnessed in recent memory, and THAT. FREAKING. SCORE. “Tenet” is a good time at the movies. I repeat, AT THE MOVIES.

I cannot thank Warner Bros. enough to sticking to a theatrical release for this film. This is a movie that is literally MADE for the big screen, perhaps more so than any other this year. I’ll be honest, if this went straight to HBO Max… I don’t know if I would have watched it. Maybe I would have since I paid for the service and I want to get my money’s worth, but I would have been missing a lot of what I’ve gotten from my recent experience. Thank you, Warner Brothers, and I’m hoping you stick to your guns for films including “Wonder Woman 1984” and “Dune.” Cannot wait for those movies!

In the end, “Tenet” is exactly as it was advertised, an “event” film. It has the best and worst of Christopher Nolan’s cliches. Massive scale, but sometimes it’s too massive when it comes to the sound mix. Even so, it does not take away from this film’s long list of positives. Is “Tenet” my favorite movie of the year? No. I still think “Summerland” is my #1, and for all I know, it could stay at my #1 spot for some time. But again, “Tenet” comes off as an incredibly rewatchable film. If this film warrants enough repeat viewings, and maybe some more aspects regarding it stand out with greater positivity, “Tenet” could become my favorite film of 2020, but for now I’m going to give “Tenet” an 8/10!

“Tenet” warrants a viewing on the biggest screen possible. And I know that not everyone feels comfortable being inside a movie theater right now. But, if there is a drive-in open near you and it happens to be playing “Tenet,” it could make for a fun night out with an easier chance to remain socially distant. Otherwise, the film will probably be out on Blu-ray sometime in the future, but I really don’t know when. Because if I’m not mistaken, “Tenet” is supposed to be in cinemas for a long time, and if Warner Bros. wants to keep that promise alive, I would imagine that they’d go on long past the traditional theatrical window to keep exhibitors happy. I don’t know what’ll happen, but I highly recommend “Tenet” if you feel safe enough to get out of the house. Go see this damn thing! It’s freaking sweet!

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that “Tenet” is playing in several different formats to choose from. Many of the screenings perhaps near you happen to be in digital projection, but if you want other options, read this handy guide! I’m not sure what my next post is going to be as I am getting ready for my next year of college and I have a rather important family birthday coming up that requires major prioritization. But we’ll see what happens! Maybe it’s “Bill & Ted Face the Music,” maybe it’s “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” maybe it’s “Tesla,” who knows? Maybe I’ll cave in and get Disney+ so I can review “Mulan.” I really don’t want to, I think this is incredibly greedy, but who knows? I know you have seen more great content from Scene Before, it just hasn’t happened yet! With that in mind, do yourself a favor and follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Tenet?” What did you think about it? Or, who is your favorite film director of all time? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

An American Pickle (2020): More Seths, More Fun!

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“An American Pickle” is directed by Brandon Trost (The Disaster Artist, This Is the End) and stars Seth Rogen (Neighbors, Sausage Party) and Sarah Snook (Predestination, Steve Jobs) in a film that takes place over a span of a century. We start off by seeing a character by the name of Herschel Greenbaum. He’s immigrating to the United States, he’s got a wife, but when a factory gets condemned, Greenbaum falls into a vat of pickles and stays there for a hundred years. After escaping, he meets up with his only remaining descendant, Ben Greenbaum, also played by Seth Rogen. From here on out, the two get to know each other and slowly reveal their notable differences of how they go about daily life.

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This movie was originally supposed to come out in theaters. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sony, who produced the movie, gave the distribution rights to Warner Bros., which lead to the film going straight to HBO Max, the new streaming service that has been around since May. “An American Pickle” is the first original movie to hit the service, although the film has been theatrically released in countries outside the United States.

The concept of “An American Pickle” honestly intrigues me, partially because I admire Seth Rogen as an entertainer. Whether he’s doing voices, maybe working behind the camera or in front of it, Seth Rogen can do no wrong. So getting to see two characters played by Seth Rogen was an oddly charming idea to say the least. Granted, the world has seen two Adam Sandlers on screen before in 2011’s “Jack and Jill,” which ended up being one of the most critically panned films of the past decade. Let me just say, I have not seen “Jack and Jill,” although I’ve heard enough about it to know that I should never witness it. But I am glad I saw “An American Pickle.” From the very first scene, this movie has this weird charm to it. It’s almost as if Tim Burton, Wes Anderson, and the directors behind “The Wizard of Oz” had a lovechild of some sorts. Of course you get some of the modern comedy flair in “An American Pickle” as well, but as I watched the movie, I felt like I was watching something that I couldn’t really get anywhere else. There seems to be an odd, but interesting blend of satire, heart, and informative messages about the importance of family and modern culture.

I got to admit, for a film that has Seth Rogen involved in one way or another, this is surprisingly light and sweet. It has its moments of commentary and controversial humor here and there, but nevertheless. Having seen some of Seth Rogen’s other work (for the most part), there doesn’t really seem to be much that warms the heart if you will. Not really much that feels calming. “Long Shot” comes close to being in that category though. In fact, a lot of Seth’s films seem to have a quick and snappy pace to them. And this one is no exception. Maybe that’s a Seth Rogen trademark, and I kinda like it. Although when it comes to “An American Pickle” I should not have been too surprised given how the film clocks in at around 89 minutes.

They say that if you talk to yourself, that is perhaps a sign that you’re crazy, right? Well, if Seth Rogen happens to fall into a pit of craziness, I’d say it’s worth it because he gives not one, but two likable performances. The two characters he plays can easily be differentiated even though they come from the same bloodline. They also feel like they have easily detectable individual personalities. I will say, Seth Rogen’s voice that he does for Herschel, the older character he plays, is almost on the goofy side, but it works for what it is. It’s like the rest of the movie, simply charming. It’s not supposed to be real, it embraces the fantasy factor, even though it does involve some things that are happening in our world right now. Such as our attachment to technology, vlogging, political controversy, and so on.

This movie is directed by Brandon Trost, who is a name that I am sort of surprised I have not heard so much about. Trost has worked with Seth Rogen for some time because he is a cinematographer on a lot of his movies including “Neighbors,” “The Interview,” and one of my all time favorite comedies, “The Disaster Artist.” However, “An American Pickle” is Trost’s feature-length solo debut. For the record, he has a brother by the name of Jason Trost who co-directed 2011’s “The FP” alongside him. “An American Pickle” on the other hand is a solo project. I really like Trost’s vision of this film. It’s incredibly wacky, super fast-paced, and it almost feels like a live-action cartoon, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. I say that because if turn on something like “Bob’s Burgers” or “Family Guy,” there’s a good chance that they don’t waste a second using dead air. This may be a huge exaggeration, but “An American Pickle” almost feels like it belongs in that category when it comes to how it is paced. Granted, given how this is live-action, there’s a lot of time spent where dead air or beats are perhaps used, but once the movie starts, it feels like it refuses to stop. In fact, there are various portions of the score, composed by the legendary Michael Giacchino (The Incredibles, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) that accompany this movie’s quick pace.

Looking back on this movie though, I will admit, I don’t know if all the commentary portions of the film will sit in my memory forever. I’m probably going to remember “An American Pickle” more for how good of a production it was despite being done by a first time director doing a movie without somebody else, and Seth Rogen doing two likable performances. Even though this movie does touch upon a lot of commentary that I liked in the moment, I don’t know if it will be something to be permanently implanted in my memory. I will also say though, even though the movie itself is fast-paced, and I kind of like that, there’s a lot that happens in a certain twenty minute period that feels like we’re getting to the end of the film’s second act lickety split. It’s almost as if the movie wants to end without diving into what could possibly be a moment to breathe. Although in all seriousness, I definitely recommend an “An American Pickle” and if you like Seth Rogen, you’ll like this movie. If you have a Roku or Amazon Fire player, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to get HBO Max, but it is available on other platforms including cable, Android TV, Samsung Smart TVs, Apple TV, and game consoles. There are ways to watch this movie, but because society is insane, we can’t have all of them.

In the end, “An American Pickle” is ridiculous fun, but it’s hard to tell at this point if I will remember it by the end of the year. Granted, it has the benefit of being the only original film on HBO Max right now, but still. I really liked Brandon Trost’s vision, and if he has any more solo projects he wants to tackle as a director, sign me up! Seth Rogen, per usual, is really good here. He’s a delight on screen as not just one, but two characters. Bravo! I’m going to give “An American Pickle” a 7/10.

Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I will be reviewing the movie “Summerland,” which I just saw in the theater. It is playing in some places, but it is also available on VOD if you want to give it a rent. I can’t say much about this movie, but something interesting might happen in my review. Just letting ya know… Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, if you are interested, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “An American Pickle?” What did you think about it? Or, did you get HBO Max? What are your thoughts on the service so far? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes – Part 5

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is now time for part 5 of the Scene Before series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes.” This series describes the recent happenings, or in some cases, a lack of happenings, in the film industry as the world deals with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Per usual, real world matters first! Because life sucks! The United Kingdom is currently in a bit of trouble as evidenced from actions taken this past Thursday. Britain has confirmed they have extended their countrywide lockdown for a total of three more weeks. This was announced by foreign secretary Dominic Raab, who is taking on responsibilities in place of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was previously announced to have a positive case of COVID-19. With this extension, the country’s lockdown is likely going to last until the second week of May unless things change.

For the record, a good number of people in my country, specifically the United States, often point out that the economy is likely to collapse should we keep these restrictions going for any longer. One take that I found interesting mainly because I don’t hear it all that much, is the one given by the recently mentioned Dominic Raab. He suggests the opposite and thinks if we loosen these restrictions, the economy is going to go to hell. After all, since there’s always a chance of a second outbreak, there’s always a chance of a second economic downfall.

Although here in America, people clearly want the economy opened back up, including medical expert Anthony Fauci. The well-known director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was on the Snapchat show “Good Luck America,” which discusses the role young people have in spreading the virus. He explained on the show that he’s likely missing baseball season as he suggests, “I’m living in Washington, we have the world champion Washington Nationals. I want to see them play again.” He also thinks that sporting events like baseball and football could happen should there be a lack of an audience in stadiums.

President Donald J. Trump, who Fauci has been seen alongside for much of this crisis through cameras, wants the economy opened back up by May 1st, as I mentioned in part 4. As of suggesting that notion, certain states have declared the idea of opening back up on said day like Trump is opting for. One notable state is Ohio, which much like much of America, is planning to follow phases as to what exactly will open at supposed times. Restaurants may be more essential than bars, and bars may be more essential than football stadiums.

Speaking of U.S. states, one of the most talked about states in general regarding this crisis, has been New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose brother is a CNN reporter who has been tested positive for COVID-19, has been a significant voice in not only trying to pull his state into the right direction, but for the rest of the country as everybody deals with this. Although another voice that New Yorkers heard last week was former presidential candidate and current New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, who had some unfortunate news for the state. De Blasio suggested that all major gatherings for the month of May have been canceled except for certain events like farmers’ markets. So if you are expecting to attend a “Last Week Tonight” taping this May, sorry to say, you’re gonna have to continue staring at John Oliver in front of a white void.

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Well, at least he got the rat painting he’s been searching a month to find.

Fun fact, when this whole crisis initiated, I was in Florida, which may be one of the worst hit states when it comes to this mess. For the record, Florida does not have the most cases for the virus, in fact none of them hold a candle to New York. In fact, my state, Massachusetts, has more cases to my surprise! But when it comes to properly closing everything in the state, those ends have not been met. In fact, Governor Rick DeSantis just opened a crucial element to what makes Florida Florida, the beaches. I should note that not all beaches have been opened, and they are NOT open for the purposes of bringing blankets, chairs, and coolers. They are specifically open for exercise-related purposes, plus taking care of pets. Individuals are still supposed to keep their distance from others and avoid gatherings of 50 people. Many of south Florida’s beaches, such as those in Miami, continue to remain closed, but if you live in Duval County (Jacksonville), there’s a good chance that you can find an open beach near you.

The beaches managed to receive a major turnout. However, not everyone is happy, as partially evidenced by the reaction that surfaced on social media. One of the top trending topics of the past weekend is #FloridaMorons. Here’s some of the tweets that surfaced.

Just because we talk about movies here…

Also, one man wanted to drop a public service announcement…

Thank you, sir! Very informative!

Now that we are done with our continuously depressing and ridiculous reality, let’s move onto movie topics. This first part is not a main topic since it may not have as much relevance as others, but I do feel it needs to be talked about. One of the topics I discussed last week is “Parasite’s” Hulu debut. Now Hulu has been a pretty popular streaming service that has been relevant for a few years. In fact, now that Disney oversees them, they are included in a bundle package with their other streaming services including Disney+ and ESPN+. But for a streaming service overseen by a company that does not make many independent features, “Parasite” has earned an ASTOUNDING success on the service so far. The movie dropped on Hulu Wednesday April 8th, where from then on, it was not long before the film immediately became the most streamed foreign or independent feature on the service in just a week. According to IndieWire, the film is also the second most watched film on the platform of all time. This beats the likes of mega-titles such as “Transformers: The Last Knight,” “A Quiet Place,” and “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.” Given the film’s Korean background, how Hulu does not even serve Korea, plus the necessity for non-Korean viewers to read subtitles, it should come as a surprise that “Parasite” is as popular as it is on Hulu. Although keep in mind, the film has already been a critical success in the states, not only having major buzz from reviews, but tons of award wins as well, including the Academy’s Best Picture, which no international feature has received prior to “Parasite.” The film has made over $50 million at the U.S. box office, indicating success. So either everybody wanted a chance to watch the film again, or there’s a possibility that a majority of Hulu users missed out on the theater experience but now have an opportunity to watch at home.

Speaking of theater experiences and watching something at home, Lionsgate is trying to recreate the communal theater atmosphere while keeping movie watchers on their couch. One of the best parts of going to the movies sometimes is the reactions people can blurt out during a presentation. If you have seen the last two “Avengers” movies, you’d understand. Lionsgate is attempting to get people together to react to their favorite movies without hearing anybody else and with the intention of keeping viewers behind closed doors.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIONSGATE MOVIES ON YOUTUBE

Throughout the series, I have often touched upon the goings on behind some of the bigger studios. Disney and Universal have shuttered theme parks, delayed films, and have decided to put some of their films like “Artemis Fowl” and “Trolls: World Tour” straight to a digital streaming service. Paramount delayed a ton of films, but some of their classics will be airing on CBS soon. Warner Bros. has stated in the past about its optimism to release “Tenet” in theaters on time, all the while delaying big films like “Wonder Woman 1984.” But one of the major studios I have not talked about all that much yet in this series is Lionsgate. While they don’t have the franchise power that a company like Disney has, they do possess the rights to iconic properties including “The Hunger Games” and “John Wick,” which are relevant to this topic.

Recently, specifically Friday April 17th, Lionsgate teamed up with Fandango, YouTube, and NATO (National Association of Theatre Owners) to get people to watch “The Hunger Games” on YouTube for free. This is part of an event called “Lionsgate Live! A Night at the Movies.” These are movie night events hosted by Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween, Scream Queens), will feature celebrity guests, special programming, and opportunities for fans to interact via YouTube live. While the odds of watching “The Hunger Games” on one of these Fridays will no longer be ever in your favor, there are still a few movies listed for this special occasion. These include…

  • DIRTY DANCING (APRIL 24)
  • LA LA LAND (MAY 1)
  • JOHN WICK (MAY 8)

Just a reminder, if you want to watch “John Wick” during this occasion on YouTube, there is an age restriction. For the record, “John Wick” is rated R whereas the other films listed are rated PG-13. So if you want to watch your fan favorites with OTHER PEOPLE, I never thought I’d say that ever again! go to the Movieclips YouTube channel, check to see if one of the movies is playing or will be playing, and enjoy! This event will benefit the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation, a foundation dedicated to helping workers within the motion picture industry. This even includes the many theater employees affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Even companies behind food are getting in on this, which does make sense as cinemas and food go together like bread and butt–, sorry. Popcorn and butter. I don’t always agree with that statement, my apologies to all popcorn eaters who butter on their popcorn at the movies, but still, it makes sense here. So feel free to amuse yourselves over my forced statement all damn day.

Popcornopolis, which judging by the name, you can probably tell makes popcorn, will be donating 10% of its sales to the cause. Meanwhile, SnackNation, typically known for being a healthy snack delivery service for offices and homes, will be giving away a specially priced box of goodies for these movie nights. The box will include fruity candy, chips, puffs, popcorn, and more. The box is priced at $9.95 and shipping is free. So if you are tired of going to Target to get some Sour Patch Kids while also buying tons of toilet paper, give this snack box a shot, and if you don’t use it for one of these movie nights, it could always work for something else you pop on at home. “Tiger King” is pretty hip right now, why not give that a shot? If you wanted to get some grub from SnackNation for “Dirty Dancing,” there is a solid chance that you might not get it on time. But if you wanted something for “La La Land” or “John Wick,” by all means place your order!

Also in on this are major movie theater chains including AMC Theatres (Please make it through this!), Regal Entertainment Group, and Cinemark Theatres.

SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON CANCELLED FOR FIRST TIME EVER

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Alright, my fellow nerds. Buckle up. This is possibly the most dissatisfying news any comic convention fanatic will ever hear. San Diego Comic-Con, known for pioneering the comic con name and blueprint has officially been cancelled for the first time ever. The event started out small and has grown ever since. It has achieved fame for its success at bringing together communities of nerds of all kinds from comic book collectors, sci-fi fanatics, movie buffs, fantasy lovers, and TV junkies. It’s even gotten so big that “Conan” on TBS has done shows in San Diego as the con goes on! It’s an event so lively that even if you don’t get to go, you are guaranteed to hear something from it that is extravagant in the nerd world, mainly because there is heavy self-promotion going on in the sacred “Hall H,” where celebrities talk to fans, crews behind projects promote trailers, and the effort to get in is just as hard as it is to get through waiting at the DMV. Sadly, this year, there won’t be any of that. Last year, SDCC brought some great news to the nerd sphere, especially within Marvel, because that is where they laid the groundwork for phase 4, advertising plans for each theatrical movie set to release, and even the shows they’re planning to drop onto Disney+. Unfortunately, this news is already outdated as we won’t be seeing one of those projects, specifically “Black Widow,” this May and instead wait until November, which is when “Eternals” was originally supposed to release.

Who knows what could have happened this year? Would we finally get another trailer to “Godzilla vs. Kong?” Would we get a look at footage for James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad?” Maybe we’d get word that Warner Bros. will release the Snyder Cut the same day that Universal plans on releasing the Butthole Cut for “Cats.” Who knows?

Not to get selfish here, but I go to a couple cons every year, and I don’t know if I’ll even get to go to one based on this information. San Diego Comic-Con is such a powerful name in this industry. So powerful in fact that they even felt it was necessary to call out another con for using their name, even when this has been a thing that has been done for years to the point where it has become commonplace. It’s a comic convention where people get together to be happy, not an international format of “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire!” But with the first sentence of this paragraph in mind, with a name San-Diego cancelling, I have a feeling that others may eventually follow in the con’s footsteps because of name power. For all I know, that could be different because every area of this Earth is dealing with COVID-19 in its own way, but I figured that the U.S., or at least most of it, would be done with this virus in a couple months that way we can gain a sense of normalcy. But who knows at this point?

By the way, I could go for a massive bucket of overpriced movie theater popcorn right now.

MOVIES THEATERS ON REOPENING

AMC Shore 8 - Huntington, New York 11743 - AMC Theatres

Remember how in part 3 I was talking about the possibility of AMC falling into its grave? Well, turns out they have a plan! To specify, a $500 million plan. Has a nice ring to it. Keep in mind, AMC has MASSIVE debts, so while $500 million does not cover everything, it’s likely to help during this time. Wall Street has officially parsed AMC, giving them the thumbs up. This will give AMC some time to prevent themselves from heading into dreaded Chapter 11 bankruptcy territory. Stock-wise, AMC is now at $3.20, up 31% reaching their highest level in a couple of weeks. Similarly, Cinemark, a nationwide chain whose subsidiaries include Rave Cinemas and Century Theatres, is also up. While not as high as the 31% for AMC, it bounced up 16% to achieve $13.48 per share.

Speaking of AMC and Cinemark, movie theater operators such as these have planned for a hopeful summer reboot. After all, the kids are out of school, you can only go to the beach so many times before getting sunburned all over, so the cinema is a great outing. Cinemark themselves stated that they are planning for an opening on July 1st, suggesting that they plan on spending June rehiring employees and will screen some classic films during the summer. How classic? I don’t know. Could be black and white, color, old, new, across the board. But I would kill to see “Endgame” in a theater again. I would love to take someone who hasn’t seen the movie just to see how’d they react to it in a theatrical environment, because that movie, plus the Jackoff-winning Best Picture “Infinity War” were literally built for audiences to come together. And while it is disappointing for a film like “Black Widow” to not come out until November instead of May, I would much prefer that, when I can likely see it with a crowd, then curling up in my room watching it as it goes straight to streaming. In fact, I still have no plans to get Disney+. HBO Max might be on my radar though (I’ll get back to that).

While I did talk about reality before, I should bring it up again. The Governor of Georgia, otherwise known as Brian Kemp, has recently announced that he gave the green light to businesses to reopen their doors beginning April 27th. Regardless of whether or not this is stupid, which I personally think it is, movie theater chains will likely need longer than a week to rehire and retrain people before opening doors again, as insiders suggest. As for local theaters, I don’t know what the case will be, but chains are likely to follow a structured process. Maybe they will open all their theaters at once, maybe vary state by state, do a few at a time, but who knows?

THESE DELAY STORIES ARE GETTING TIRESOME!

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So… “Black Widow” has been delayed. “Eternals” has been delayed. “The New Mutants” has been delayed. “Top Gun: Maverick” has been delayed. “Infinite” has been delayed. “A Quiet Place Part II” has been delayed. Now the Caped Crusader has something he’d like to say to all of those movies.

That’s right guys! Unfortunately, Matt Reeves’ upcoming “The Batman,” starring Robert Pattinson (Twilight, The Lighthouse), has been pushed back from it’s original release date, June 25th, 2021, and will now hit theaters October 1st, 2021. If you had to ask me, here’s my response.

If you ask me, “The Batman” is a film that I am definitely looking forward to, and I am disappointed by the announcement. Despite the flack Pattinson sometimes gets for his past roles, most notably “Twilight,” he has generated an excellent acting method over the past number of years. Plus, it’s f*cking Batman, how could I not get excited over a movie with Batman in it?

Well, okay, maybe not all of them are that exciting. By the way, f*ck the convenient Bat Credit Card.

Although I will state, as disappointed as I am, it could still be worse. After all, movies like “Top Gun: Maverick,” which I’ve previously talked about had trailers and a marketing campaign all set up. “Batman” hasn’t even finished filming yet. In fact, production shut down earlier this year due to the virus. While I am underwhelmed and dissatisfied with the news, I cannot say I’m scarred for life. Although not having a “Batman” movie during summer blockbuster season does feel a little weird. Maybe this is a case, much like “Joker” where the delay to October can be favorable for “The Batman” as there COULD be an effort to get some awards buzz for the movie. There could be a possibility that “The Batman” is also intentionally made for mature audiences, perhaps the MPAA will give it an R rating, making the Dark Knight the DARKEST Knight. Even so, this is NOT the delay we deserve. NOR is it the one eager movie and comic book fans need right now.

“The Batman” is being put out by Warnermedia, which should not be surprising as DC Comics and Warner Bros. go together like peanut butter and jelly. Speaking of Warnermedia delays, a movie set in the universe of HBO’s hit series “The Sopranos,” originally set to release September 25th, 2020, is now coming out March 12th, 2021. The film is a prequel to the recently mentioned title and is currently going by the name of “The Many Saints of Newark.”

Also in DC Comics movie news, a couple more titles have been moved around. “Shazam 2,” which was supposed to release April 1st, 2022, is being pushed back seven months to a new November 4th release. I have no problem with this, because that just means I have probably already figured out what I might want to do on my 23rd birthday about 2.5 years before it even arrives.

Alright, kids. Buckle up. This movie deserves its own paragraph, because while I am busy bitching about all of these movies that have been pushed back like a skinny dude in a wrestling match, there’s one movie that has believe it or not, been pushed FORWARD. I’m talking about another DC movie, “The Flash!” The film was supposed to release July 1st, 2022 but has recently been pushed forward to its new June 2nd release date, also in 2022. I have NO IDEA if this movie will be out by this time, and to be honest, it’s almost wishful thinking. This film was supposed to come out in 2018 as the DCEU’s sixth installment. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, famous for movies including “21 Jump Street” and TV shows including “The Last Man on Earth” were supposed to get the ground running. They sent a treatment, but they couldn’t direct the film because they were busy. Seth-Grahame Smith was hired to direct, but he dropped out in 2016 due to creative differences. Then, Rick Famuyiwa said he was directing as of June 2016, and production was going to start in January 2017. But by the looks of things, that did not seem to last, as Screen Junkies reported that Robert Zemeckis was on a shortlist of directors to take on “The Flash.” Also on the shortlist, Sam Raimi and Matthew Vaughn, two famous directors within the comic movie realm. This comes three months after a Variety report that Joby Harold (Edge of Tomorrow, Underground) was going to rewrite the script. FLASH (see what I did there?) forward to June 2017, look who’s back! Lord and Miller, that’s who! While things did not seem to go far, the Wrap reported that the dynamic duo were in talks to direct the film again. Then in February 2018, another duo popped up, this time it was John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. These two managed to create one of the best comedies of the past five years, “Game Night,” and they also acquired comic book movie experience through writing the Disney/Sony collaboration, “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” Then came July 2019, where the duo announced their departure from the project! As of now, the project is expected to be helmed by Andy Muschietti (It, Mama) and Christina Hodson (Birds of Prey, Bumblebee). Also joining the project as a producer is Barbara Muschietti, Andy’s sister. As for Ezra Miller, who plays The Flash in the DCEU, who knows what’ll happen to him after the recent controversial video of him released where he chokes a woman? This project is going GREAT so far!

Holy crap, that was a mouthful. You think “The New Mutants” is having trouble? At least that movie got f*cking shot! “The Flash” has not even reached “production” level! It’s insanity! I remain hopeful that this film comes out in June 2022, but this is one of those cases of where I’ll believe this movie when I see it.

Warnermedia has also delayed two movies to November 2021. One of which was the movie Tom Hanks was shooting in Australia when tested positive for COVID-19, an untitled Elvis film. The film was originally supposed to come out October of next year. However, one film got the “F9” treatment where it won’t even see the light of day this year. It was once set to come out this November, but that will not be happening.

Moving away from Warnermedia, let’s talk about Sony. Recently I discussed that the studio pretty much abandoned the summer of 2020, pushing back films including “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” and “Morbius.” But it just so appears that they have delayed one of their Fall projects as well, specifically “Venom 2,” which is now titled “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.” Based on the title, the film is likely to have the comic book villain Carnage as the main antagonist, information that has been teased since the first movie. I’ll be blunt here, I am not looking forward to “Venom 2.” This is a delay that I am not personally offended by. I will say, I do feel bad for the people behind the film, because the first one came out in an October as well and grossed over $800 million. Then again, that piece of crap people like to call “Venom” grossed over $800 million even though it is most likely the worst movie that I have seen which is related to “Spider-Man.” This sequel has one thing giving me mixed thoughts, and that is the director. I feel like the vision for the first “Venom” is entirely corporate and lacks soul. I still wonder why people even clapped at the end of the movie. Even though Ruben Fleischer did some decent stuff in the past, like “Zombieland,” this was an idea that felt rushed and underwhelming. And honestly, they should have gone for the R rating. But this time, it is being directed by Andy Serkis, who definitely has a knack for visual effects, both in terms of acting and behind the scenes. However, I’ve heard “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle” was not the best work in the world. It has a 53% on Rotten Tomatoes, indicating that a majority of critics liked it, but it’s also not the finest number of all time. I like Andy Serkis, but I have vivid memories of the first “Venom” and they’re not pretty. I still have a bad taste in my mouth. The “Venom” sequel hits theaters June 25, 2021, which was “The Batman’s” former release date, as opposed to when “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” was supposed to hit theaters, October 2nd, 2020.

HBO MAX LAUNCH DATE ANNOUNCED

Now I love physical media, and I will likely continue to buy it even in a time where I cannot leave my house. It is by far the best way to watch a movie. Although if I were to invest in a streaming service anytime soon, one of my options is likely going to be HBO Max, which, yes, it will have HBO content. This service will be launching May 27th, as announced in a trailer down below.

Doesn’t HBO have a couple fancy streaming services already? Sure, but this is one may be worth your time. Aside from including bunches of HBO content including “Game of Thrones,” “Westworld,” and “The Sopranos,” they will also be shipping in content from alternate channels such as TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, and truTV, all of which are owned by Warnermedia. So this means in addition to all of the HBO programming available at launch, viewers will have access to content including “Conan,” “Impractical Jokers,” “Rick and Morty,” and “Miracle Workers.” Also available for TV are all the seasons of “Friends” and “The Big Bang Theory,” two of the longest running situation comedies of all-time. Another really long series that you can invest some time in is “South Park,” the long-running animated series that caters to an adult demographic. That series in particular will join the service this June. They’re even using content from a streaming service that I don’t know how many of you knew existed, DC Universe. From this, it can be confirmed that one of the starters for this service is “Doom Patrol,” based on a previously established superhero team. One show I am still wondering about is DC’s “Harley Quinn,” which recently dropped season 2 on DC Universe, but who knows what’ll happen in regards to coming to HBO Max? But don’t worry, there’s movies too! Some of the upcoming titles are “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “A Star is Born,” “The Dark Knight,” “Joker,” “The Matrix,” “Pokemon: Detective Pikachu,” the DCEU movies, and the Studio Ghibli library. The service is likely to serve around 10,000 hours of content at launch, which is more than Disney+ and Comcast’s Peacock, which is now available for Xfinity customers, but will be available for everybody else starting July 15th.

The downside however, is the price. At $14.99/month, which is more than what one would pay for Hulu, which has significantly more content, it is not the cheapest service out there. However, HBO has been known for their premium programming, therefore it is no surprise that a premium price would be placed for HBO Max. But if you are a Charter customer, it is free as long as you are currently paying for HBO. Certain AT&T customers, specifically those paying premium prices for AT&T’s services, will also be given HBO Max for free. Nevertheless, even though I don’t stream much, I think I would get some use out of HBO Max if I were to buy a subscription. Warner Bros. is my favorite movie studio, HBO is a notable channel with a lot of content known for quality, and TBS, plus truTV, have done some originals I like, plus some that I have missed out on that I want to check out like “Wrecked.” I just hope that said originals make it to the service in the first place.

Speaking of originals, there is some original content coming to HBO Max. Season 3 of “Search Party,” which originally aired on TBS, will debut on the service. Anna Kendrick will be starring in a new comedy, “Love Life,” which comes from Lionsgate Television. But if you have kids, there will also be content related to “Sesame Street” and “Looney Tunes.” HBO Max was going to have a “Friends” reunion at launch, but it has been delayed due to COVID-19 complications. Sorry, they will not be there for you.

Going back to my original point, HBO Max launches May 27th on smart devices, so if you cut the cord but miss many of the cable-based shows, or you just want some acclaimed TV and movies to watch, HBO Max may get your seal of approval.

HOME VIDEO RELEASES

Going back to my comment on physical media, it is fun to collect, but not everyone does it anymore. In fact, it’s getting hard to do in these times now that places like the mall have basically shut their doors down. Walmart’s still open, so there’s that. And if you do want to know what new releases are on DVD and Blu-ray, some notable titles include “Bad Boys For Life,” “Ip Man 4: The Finale,” “The Gentlemen,” and “Like a Boss,” which already released on digital, but needed some time to come out on physical formats. Out of these films, the only one I’ve seen is “The Gentlemen,” which honestly underwhelmed me. Hopefully that won’t be the same case should some of you give it a shot.

As for digital media, there is not much new content to pick from. However, “Wendy,” a movie that takes place on an island and follows a young girl in world that is increasingly facing destruction, has just dropped on services as of April 17th. So if you are expecting me to talk about any blockbuster titles dropping, think again.

Thanks for reading the fifth part of the ongoing series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes!” This was a long one to make, so I’ll try to wrap things up quick. If you’re wondering where my reviews are, I want to make them, but the apocalypse is currently my priority. Plus, “My Spy” hasn’t dropped on Prime yet, so there’s that. But should things still be hectic next week, which they most likely will, there’s a good chance you’ll see a part 6 to this series. Because life sucks! I have not left my house for *anything,* even a walk, for almost a month now. How did the country, no, the WORLD even get here?! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can tuned for more great content! Speaking of great content, why not check out my Facebook page? Give it a like and keep up with the latest info through Mark Zuckerberg’s wonderland! I want to know, did I miss anything for this past week? What are some your big points as of late regarding film and COVID-19? It could even be something I already mentioned! Or, what are you looking forward to seeing on HBO Max? Is there something you want to see that has not been fully announced? If they drop TBS’s “King of the Nerds” on the service, I’m sucking all my money into it. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020): No Joke, Fun (But Forgettable) Time

*WARNING: This review contains TITLES.*

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“Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn,” AKA “Birds of Prey,” AKA “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey,” AKA “Whatever F*cking Title You Desire,” is directed by Cathy Yan (Dead Pigs, According to My Mother). This film stars Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, 10 Cloverfield Lane), Jurnee Smollett-Bell (The Great Debaters, Gridiron Gang), Rosie Perez (The Road to El Dorado, Fearless), Christopher Messina (Argo, The Mindy Project), Ella Jay Basco (Grey’s Anatomy, Veep), Ali Wong (American Housewife, Are You There, Chelsea?), and Ewan McGregor (Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Stay). This film revolves around the character of Harley Quinn, who was originally, as far as the Detective Comics Extended Universe goes, introduced in 2016’s “Suicide Squad.” Quinn and The Joker (also introduced in “Suicide Squad”) broke up, and the film follows Harley’s adventures as she finds herself adapting to a new lifestyle while simultaneously developing reasons to become’s Gotham’s most hated citizen. Oh yeah, apparently there’s a team-up too, like it really matters. Because, you know, Harley Quinn is popular.

Let me take you back to 2016. The election was in full swing, female Ghostbusters were a fad, “Star Wars” was back, and Marvel was SO much better than DC at the time! Remember “Captain America: Civil War?” So kick-ass. While I liked “Suicide Squad” in the theater, it is one of those movies that I watched one time, liked, but disliked when I watched it again. People often talk about movies that they like better the second time, maybe because there is a new perspective that opens up in their mind as they watch it. Well guess what? I got a f*cking new perspective when I watched “Suicide Squad” for the second time, and it is the perspective that it was an utter waste of brain cells.

But, if there is one thing about “Suicide Squad” that I would point out to be a highlight during not just the first, but also the massively unfortunate second time of watching it, I’d say it would be Margot Robbie’s portrayal of Harley Quinn. In this current DCEU, it’s up there to me with Zachary Levi’s Shazam and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman as one of my favorite portrayals of the characters this universe brings to the table. But I think part of that is because of how eccentric the character really is. She’s charismatic, goofy, and knows how to have fun. And that is a trait is easily carried over into the realm of “Birds of Prey.” Harley’s got a swagger to her, and seeing Margot Robbie’s live-action portrayal makes me want to avoid seeing anyone else take on this role in this format, at least for awhile.

But that’s also the problem with this movie, because the marketing is horrible. And usually I wouldn’t expect to use the marketing to hammer in something towards my final verdict, but in this case, I kind of have to. You ever hear people suggest that you should not judge a book by its cover? When it comes to “Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulously Long Title,” that’s a big f*cking lie. While the movie’s title does focus on emancipation, while the Birds of Prey happen to be in this movie, it is, at its core, a Harley Quinn movie. The movie features narration from Quinn, it revolves entirely around her, and these little rascals who make up the Birds of Prey are barely in the movie for the most part. Characters like Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) don’t even show up for like an hour or so, maybe longer! Although, side note, when Huntress does show up, she’s introduced in pretty badass way. Even though I do think “Titles of Prey: And its Fantabulous Stretch” (for now) is better than “Suicide Squad,” it is also a bit more forgettable. As an audience member, I barely remember any of the names of those who make up the team. Keep in mind, I did see this movie two weeks ago, but it also goes to show how disposable of a movie it really is. It does not do much to make me carry it alongside me for the rest of my life. Granted, we do get some prime screen time to characters other than Harley, one of which was a highlight.

One of the best parts of “Birds of Whatever Title You Want” is the relationship between Harley Quinn and Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco). These two brought life into this movie and the scenes with them together were fun. I like the portion between them in the supermarket, which has been shown in the marketing. And one of the more pleasant parts of this film is where the two just sit down together watching cartoons on an old TV. I don’t know, it’s just soothing. I’d like to maybe see this duo in a comedy together, I think that could be fun.

Speaking of characters that could qualify for being the best in this movie, Ewan McGregor plays one of the better villain roles in the DCEU. Now, he’s not perfect, but this movie makes him work. Much like Marvel, DC kind of has a villain problem. While “Wonder Woman” had great battles, I do not remember the antagonist as much as I want to. “Suicide Squad” had Enchantress, who probably has the barest of substance. Lex Luthor, introduced in “Batman v. Superman” is quirky, but also a tad too cartoony to the point where I have officially entered a fun house. I don’t know where I’d officially rank Ewan McGregor’s Roman Sionis among the current villain lineup in the DCEU, but he’s portrayed brilliantly. He’s very charismatic to the point where he is kind of likable, but he also has a side to him where you probably want him to die a horrible death. Is he the best villain of all time? Absolutely not, but for this movie, it works!

Speaking of death and destruction, one thing that this movie has going for it that differentiates it from a lot of other films of its kind is that it is rated R. Comic book movies in recent years, specifically titles like “Deadpool,” “Logan,” and “Joker,” have gotten such a rating. While this is not a new concept, it was nice to know before going into “Birds of Prey: And the Name That Never Ends.” I also thought that this highlights what the DCEU is trying to go for at this point. Unlike Marvel, which seems to lock all of their movies within one box and has one or two connections to something else each and every movie, DC could continue letting their stories be their own thing. While this is technically in a cinematic universe, films like “Aquaman” and “Shazam!” have kept themselves within their own parts of the universe and barely connected to their universe except through brief references. “Long Names of Prey” is sort of the same way. In fact, aside from “Man of Steel,” I think “Titles of Forever” may be the most individualistic DCEU film yet. I do not remember much reference to the Suicide Squad team, even though a lot of the film is focused on the aftermath of Quinn and Joker’s breakup.

But keeping in mind that the film is rated R, I do not really think it did much to capitalize or emphasize its official rating, but nevertheless, it’s rated R. There are a couple violent scenes that probably barely go past PG-13, and they were a delight to watch when they were on screen. Because remember kids, kicking-ass is a good time! And yes, there’s the language, but if you’re expecting “Deadpool,” you MAY be disappointed. Did this film need to be rated R? Maybe to an extent, but it does not really seem like it goes for it. If they gave this a PG-13, there would almost be the slightest of differences. Maybe language has more to do with the R rating than violence does.

But I would be lying if I told you I was not at least entertained by the action scenes. I thought some of them were pretty creative, and there is one that sort of had a glossy “Terminator” vibe. Harley Quinn uses a glitter gun in this movie! Not gonna lie, if I were dealing with certain people, that would be my weapon of choice! Because while this movie admittedly does make this glitter shine, it really does suck! Anakin Skywalker thinks SAND gets everywhere? Tell him about glitter! Also, this movie probably has one of the coolest action moments involving a cell phone. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it.

Speaking of R rated comic book movies, if I had to compare “Insert Title Here” to anything else, it would probably be “Deadpool 2,” because while there is a team-up in that film, ultimately forming the X-Force, Deadpool is the character that is focused on pretty much from beginning to end. That is a better-marketed movie than “Titles of Long” because unlike this movie, it knows, even before the film came out, that Deadpool would be the core character, everyone else is either background noise, or simply supporting him. When you have a movie like “The Avengers,” you could argue that the movie mostly revolves a character such as Iron Man, but the focal point is everyone’s journey to build a team and save the world. Arguments could be made about this matter, but on the surface, Thor is not more or less important than the Hulk in that movie. Captain America is not more or less important than Iron Man. These characters, to as much of an extent as possible, have THEIR MOMENT. Even though this movie calls itself “Birds of Prey” and puts that title at the forefront, the movie itself seems to put the *rest* of the title at the forefront, specifically “the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn.” This movie really should have just been called “Harley Quinn.” And this is why I find it not so surprising that the film’s name *sort of* changed a couple times. Instead of this long title that goes on for all of eternity, the movie shortened its title to the simple name “Birds of Prey.” When the disappointing box office results came in, movie ticket websites started showing the title as “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey,” which makes sense given my previously established statements. Next thing I know, it’s gonna be called “Edge of Tomorrow” because why not? Maybe once the Blu-ray comes out it’s gonna be called “Live Die Repeat!”

In the end, “Birds of Prey: And the Supercalifragilisticexpialidociously Extended Title” is a step down for DC. I’d honestly rather watch “Aquaman” or “Batman v. Superman” again compared to this. Ever since “Wonder Woman,” I have been buying 4K steelbooks for the DCEU films, but I am not sure what I’ll be doing for this one. Will I go out and buy the steelbook for this one? I don’t know it’s worth it. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. It’ll be sad to end a streak, but the overall quality of this movie may suggest the end. I know some people making this movie kind of a big deal given the female star and female director, and I do admire the direction it tried to go in, and there are things I like about it. I just thought it could have been better. But at the same time, if you want disposable action, and you are looking for something to do on a rainy afternoon, go see this movie. Margot Robbie shines, the supporting cast is mostly forgettable but does have its highlights, and there are some cool action scenes. So… Thumbs up? Maybe? I don’t know. This grade could change, but for now, because I’m generous and given how I am not ruling out the option of watching this movie again, I am going to give “Birds of La La La Title Title Title” a 6/10.

Thanks for reading this review! Up next is the review for one of the most controversial movies that was supposed to come out last year, but because of said controversy, it was moved to the point where it came out this year. And if you think I’m talking about “The Hunt,” that’s not even out yet. Just keep yourself waiting for that one. I’m talking about “Sonic the Hedgehog!” Also, stay tuned for my reviews of “Impractical Jokers: The Movie,” “Emma,” and “My Spy.” That last one might be awhile because I don’t know when the embargo lifts, but it is coming. If you want to see these reviews, and other great content, consider following Scene Before either with an EMAIL or WORDPRESS account! While you’re at it, consider liking the blog’s Facebook page and follow me on Twitter at @JackDrees if you just like hearing me talk s*it about life! I want to know, did you see the movie with the long title? What did you think about it? Or, what comic book movie are you most excited for this year? Did you not see the one we’re talking about yet? That can count! Maybe it’s “Black Widow!” Maybe it’s “Eternals!” Maybe it’s “Wonder Woman 1984!” Do you want to go less mainstream? Perhaps you’re excited for “Bloodshot!” Let me know your response because let’s face it, based on how successful “Avengers: Endgame” was, you have seen a comic book movie. Just admit it. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): For Godzilla’s Sake, Please Stop!

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“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is directed Michael Dougherty (Krampus, Trick ‘r Treat) and stars Kyle Chandler (Game Night, Homefront), Vera Farmiga (The Conjuring, The Judge), Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things, Intruders), Bradley Whitford (The West Wing, Get Out), Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine, Happy-Go-Lucky), Charles Dance (Alien 3, Game of Thrones), Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie), Aisha Hinds (9-1-1, If I Stay), O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton, Long Shot), David Strathairn (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Good Night, and Good Luck), Ken Watanabe (Inception, The Last Samurai), and Zhang Ziyi (Rush Hour 2, Memoirs of a Geisha). This film is the sequel to 2014’s “Godzilla,” where the title character wreaks havoc over the city of San Francisco. 5 years later, this film tries to go bigger. More monsters, more destruction, more big cities, yada yada yada. And we also get emphasis towards Monarch, an organization overseeing these monsters we come across during the film.

The 2014 “Godzilla” film was an interesting experience. The trailers leading up to it were some of the best I have seen in my life. In fact, one of them might actually be my all time favorite trailer for a movie. Then I went to see it on opening weekend at a sold out IMAX theater. I was born ready. This is coming from a guy who up until that point, never sat down to watch a “Godzilla” flick from start to finish. In fact, I knew this going in, they changed the IMAX countdown before the movie to have sound effects from the trailers and Godzilla roaring at the end. It set the mood with ease. The movie was good for a theater experience, and I did manage to check it out once more when it hit premium channels. I also own a DVD copy of it that I once got for Christmas. It’s not the best movie I’ve ever seen, but it’s a good time.

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As for this sequel, I had a similar relationship going into it. I went into the same theater as I did for 2014’s “Godzilla.” I was a bit excited, not to mention a little bit scared because I managed to hear about some of the film’s reviews before going into it. It was ultimately a mix for critics, but for some reason audiences seem to be loving this thing. And before even entering the cinema, I remember seeing the San Diego Comic-Con trailer and I thought it was one of the best trailers of 2018. And judging by earlier impressions, this movie did manage to market itself pretty well if you ask me. But again, that’s just marketing. Upon watching “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” I wanted to perhaps die. In fact, as I write this, I almost don’t have words that I could possibly put into a sentence to describe this movie. And the sad part is, compared to a lot of other bad movies that I’ve witnessed, I have a tendency to go into them and not expect much. “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is a movie that I was actually really excited for. It looked great, it looked like an epic theater experience (part of it was, but it didn’t make up for tons of weaknesses), and I was just hoping for at the very least, a good popcorn flick. I am not one who would traditionally expect an Oscar-winning script from a movie like this, but I would at least want something where it feels like the writers are trying!

In fact, one thing that I really find to be weird about this movie is that despite how much I went out of it thinking it was a disaster, there were a couple moments that I could end up appreciating. The battle sequences are occasionally fun and look great on the big screen. The CGI monsters were all well designed for the film at hand. And as I would expect, the sound editors and mixers involved with this movie all deserve pats on the back. There are compliments to give, but these compliments are surrounded by tons of negativity.

As for how this movie’s written, I don’t know if someone secretly injected drugs inside of me for the first movie, because while Godzilla wasn’t on screen for that long,  I thought the human characters such as those played by Bryan Cranston and Aaron Taylor-Johnson were at least tolerable. Here, we got a bunch of new characters that we never met in the first movie, and they feel so dumb that they would all need a dictionary to research the definition of the word “dumb.” Yes, there are a lot of big name actors in this movie. You’ve got actors like Millie Bobby Brown, Charles Dance, Kyle Chandler, and my first impression of them wasn’t anything that had to do with hating them, but that certainly changed as this movie went on. At first, these characters were believable and I could at least go along for the ride with them. Then during that ride, everyone is infected by a virus, making them go insane, and I am the only person who can BARELY keep himself in control. In fact, despite having all of these well-known actors in this movie, a lot of these characters feel like they could easily be played by someone else. The writing feels stale, robotic, and at times, it almost feels as if this movie does not know what it wants to be.

As much as I liked the first couple of trailers for this movie, specifically the one that was shown at San Diego Comic-Con and another one which came out in December. I still remember watching them and as I look back, they kind of differ in tone. The first trailer was slow, dramatic, majestic, and somewhat serious. Its follow-up manages to be faster in pace, and while there is some serious s*it happening, it lacks the same tone that I managed to get in the first trailer. This movie is like those two trailers, and I probably should have seen that coming. I do have respect for the film not lying about how it is going to present itself, but this is one painful truth to bear. Because the reality is, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” just can’t stick to being one thing. At one moment, it’s about saving the planet, not mention sacrificing what we as humans have created overtime. At another moment, it’s your typical, goofy popcorn flick with cheesy one-liners that are kind of hit or miss. I can imagine myself finding this movie on TV one day, perhaps on HBO or something, maybe watching it if I want to destroy my brain cells, clicking the info button and the description would be “Time to die.”

The only human characters I really ended up liking in the movie are Millie Bobby Brown and Charles Dance, but it has nothing really to do with caring about their actions or their background stories. Millie Bobby Brown just manages to, out of everyone, including the hundreds of adults surrounding her, deliver the best performance in the movie. And Charles Dance just has a spark about him that would make him look good on screen no matter what he’s doing. He’s almost like JK Simmons. Even if he’s wasted, kind of like he was in a movie like “The Accountant,” there is still an appreciable screen presence that he can give. As for everyone else, there’s nothing… truly revolting I guess… But it doesn’t all add up to be masterful. Ken Watanabe’s back? Not enough. Maybe his story stands out, but it does not add up to make a good movie. Somehow, these characters are more forgettable than most of Apple’s terms & services agreement!

As for the monsters, I mentioned they do look cool, and they serve their purpose. One of the small perks that “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” has compared to its predecessor is that Godzilla actually receives more screentime. Unfortunately however, it kind of hits the tipping point. When the movie first starts, we get bits and pieces of Godzilla, but as it goes on, it’s almost like we get an overload of Godzilla. It almost makes me look like a hypocrite since the lack of Godzilla was a major problem of mine with the last movie, but at least what we got tended to work. As soon as we reach the climax of the movie where everything comes together, I’m admiring all of the eye candy present, but then it extends to a point that feels like it overstays its welcome. It’s almost like the movie does not really know when it wants to end.

Even with the presence of spectacular beasts like Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah, it just makes me want to punch myself in the face for fun. They look great for a movie like this, and I want to give an enormous shoutout to the VFX artists doing a spectacular job on creating them. I have to say, if I were rating “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” based on technical aspects, it would be a positive grade. Granted, not perfect, because the cinematography is a little off and on. But visual effects do not have to do with the story, which is what matters most when it comes to just about any movie imaginable.

Sticking with compliments however, one of the highlights of the movie is when the camera can show off all of the monsters in full scale. In fact, based on what I’ve seen in trailers, that is an aspect of the movie that didn’t surprise me once I saw the final product on the big screen. There’s an extreme wide showcasing the true monstrosity of Godzilla and King Ghidorah as they gaze upon each other. It almost sends chills down my spine as I think about it. But during the battles, while what I was seeing was cool, it didn’t entirely flow because the camera would just be in a certain angle that was uncomfortable or it would just keep moving. The best way I can describe it is messy. This movie may have a sense of style, at least it is trying to display that, but it can’t always do so in the best possible way.

The first “Godzilla” movie from 2014 is 2 hours and 3 minutes long. It ended up feeling like a movie that would be around that runtime, perhaps less. This one however is 2 hours and 11 minutes long. It honestly felt like 2 and a half hours long, maybe even longer. In other words, I was watching “The Favourite” all over again!

Also, as I was watching this piece of garbage, here’s what I thought to myself. “Holy s*it. Now I see why everyone hates the ‘Transformers’ movies.” While I will consider a few of the Michael Bay-directed “Transformers” movies to be less than satisfactory, I don’t particularly hate the franchise as much as other people. I enjoyed the first film, then again I grew up with it so I could be biased. And I almost enjoy the third film even more! But this movie reminds me of those. The movie is called “Transformers,” we have all of these cool fighting robots, but let’s make the movie about the human characters! Underwhelming scripts for the win! Here, we have a movie called “Godzilla,” and now we have to deal with a s*itty script that may have to do with Godzilla, but it collides with the plethora of human characters that may as just be there to pass time. If I were ten years old and I went to see this movie, I think part of me would be bored!

I know a lot of people will read this review and think about telling me in the comments section, “Hey, Jackass! Godzilla movies are not about brilliant scripts! They’re about the monsters!” Look, guys. If that’s the case, then you can make the same argument for a movie like “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Don’t go in wanting good characters! Go in for the kinky sex! Or what about “Sharknado?” Don’t go in begging for a justifiable plot! Embrace the silly! Listen guys, unless you’re creating some real-life event or there is some other special situation, no movie can exist without a screenplay. Some will be good, and some will be bad. This one was ugly. Is it cheesy? Yes. Some people may expect “Godzilla” movies to have some cheesy lines here and there. But it’s also met with a clashing serious tone. This clash between tones may be a bigger and more brutal fight as opposed to any of the monster action scenes presented on screen! When you treat your movie’s humans as if they are the core characters of the movie and you can’t get me to care about them, and I barely care about the monsters, you’ve done goof. As an aspiring filmmaker and in this case I’ll give a specification, screenwriter, I may be biased, but my case stands. This is especially important when you consider that this movie is in a cinematic universe. The next movie in this lineup is “Godzilla vs. Kong” and part of me is worried for that movie now because the excuse for both monsters to eventually interact could potentially be bulls*it. It could ultimately ruin the entire movie.

Please help me.

And one sad thing about this movie is this. While I probably hate this movie more than any other this year that I’ve witnessed so far. It’s almost an enigma because for one thing, I’m able to find positives, but they are heavily outweighed by a plethora of negatives. Surprisingly, there’s not a moment where I can remember conceptualizing a personal need for Anger Management classes. But based on this movie’s script and my memory of said script, I almost can’t remember feeling any emotion whatsoever, which may almost be worse than getting angry about a movie or its characters. I didn’t care about anyone enough to decide how I truly feel about them. When your movie makes me a robot, even though I cannot process information like a robot, you know your movie is a special kind of crap.

Now I know that I said this movie is surround sound Heaven, but I cannot help but think of a quote one wise man said back in the day.

“What can we do, to encourage people to have more quiet in their lives, more silence? Real revelation comes through silence.” -Fred Rogers

The answer, simple. Show everyone “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” That’s all this movie is. S*it and noise. Nothing more.

In the end, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” broke me. It made me dumber, it made me sum up better ideas for a monster movie script with a friend of mine, and it almost killed all hopes I have for this MonsterVerse Warner Brothers seems to be planning. I know a lot of people had no hope for the DCEU for some time. This is how I feel about this MonsterVerse. And as a sequel to 2014’s “Godzilla,” it tries to go bigger, but the reality is, bigger doesn’t always mean better. It’s like watching “Independence Day: Resurgence” three years later! With lackluster characters, unlikable plot elements, and beyond awful screenwriting, this movie, unlike its titled character, is most certainly no king. Will I go see “Godzilla vs. Kong” when it comes out? Sure, but whatever hype I’ve had for that movie before watching “King of the Monsters” has perhaps dwindled to a level lower than an underground subway tunnel in New York City. Let’s hope my life does not become more miserable than it already is! I’m going to give “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” a 1/10. Yes, there are positives, but again, they are heavily outweighed by tons of crap, and the fact that my brain literally could not function upon leaving the theater. I could probably never watch “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” ever again. If the MonsterVerse becomes as big as the MCU one day and there’s a big movie marathon at a theater, chances are I might end up buying a ticket, but I’d feel fine ditching “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” I’ll probably use that time for a fresh air break or something. Who knows? But the fact is, this movie is a freaking monster. Also, first 1/10 of the year! It had to happen at some point! Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that on June 11th I have plans to see “Men In Black: International” as part of an advance screening held a couple days before the film hits theaters. Be sure to look forward to that review! Also be sure to follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Godzilla: King of the Monsters?” What do you think about it? Or, when you see a movie like the one I’m talking about, does the script matter to you? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!