Reminiscence (2021): Inception for People Who Like Being Bored

“Reminiscence” is written and directed by Lisa Joy (Westworld, Burn Notice) and stars Hugh Jackman (X-Men, The Greatest Showman), Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible – Fallout, The White Queen), Thandiwe Newton (Mission: Impossible II, Solo: A Star Wars Story), Cliff Curtis (Missing, Fear the Walking Dead), Marina de Tavira (Roma, Ana and Bruno), Daniel Wu (Into the Badlands, Tomb Raider) and this film is set in the future when climate change has severely affected Miami. During this time, Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman) is part of a business responsible for a machine called the tank, which allows people to go back in time and see older memories. One day, a client named Mae comes in looking for her missing keys. Shortly after, Nick and Mae become romantically involved, although Nick’s co-worker, Emily “Watts” Sanders does not trust Mae and wants to do anything she can to keep Nick from seeing her. In addition, Nick spends time revisiting past memories in the tank involving his love interest, which could trap him forever.

Well, that took some time to explain now didn’t it… I’ve been looking forward to “Reminiscence” for a number of reasons. It’s from my favorite studio, Warner Brothers, despite how they’ve stabbed the backs of theater owners this year. It’s got a decent cast with Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Ferguson in starring roles. But I also really like the concept this movie tries to deliver. Sometimes going into this movie, it would remind me and a few other people of a Christopher Nolan flick. In fact on the surface, it really does feel like that. The color grading and sets feel like something out of “Inception” or “Tenet,” and much like those two movies, this film has a concept that mixes action, romance, and transportation to another reality. The trailer for this film was not too bad, although I have seen better. The way they edited it though made it feel like it was somewhere outside our world even though it really was in our not so far future, and the action did look pretty sick.

Another reason why this looks like a Christopher Nolan movie… Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan’s brother, was one of the film’s producers. And this should not be surprising, after all, he is the director’s wife! Hollywood, everybody! It’s about WHO you know! Not always what ya know! Granted, Jonathan Nolan had no writing or directing credits by the end of the product, Lisa Joy wrote and directed this film on her own, but it would not surprise me if some of his touch made it into the final product.

But going back to what I said about “Inception” and “Tenet,” as much as I like both movies. And I do. …Very much. I would say that “Inception” is clearly the better film because at the end of “Tenet,” I’m left amazed, but also wondering how certain things came about in that film because it is one of the most beautifully confusing things I ever watched.

“Reminiscence,” to me, even though the concept was somewhat, well, reminiscent, of “Inception,” kind of felt like it belonged in the same category as “Tenet.” As a high-concept sci-fi film, it is nice to observe, but there were still some loose ends that needed tying.

That’s what I would say if “Reminiscence” weren’t so goddamn forgettable! I would have reviewed this earlier if I had the motivation and time, because I did watch this film days after it came out, but I waited until this point because this is just the way things lined up. And now that I’ve had as much time as I did to think about this film, I think I may have spent more time thinking about the film I watched before this one, “Don’t Breathe 2.”

I really like the concept of “Reminiscence.” To have people go back and revisit their favorite memories, especially in a future where it seems that there are no positive memories left to create, is fascinating. I honestly wish a machine like this existed because it does seem to be safer than time travel and there are fun memories that I would love to revisit for one reason or another. I would love to go back to my first visit to New York City or one of my flocks to Salisbury Beach. Those were fun times and I would love to relive those. In fact, the more I think about what this movie is trying to do, it kind of succeeds at communicating that people do not see rainbows and unicorns in the future and would do anything to revisit their past. I just wish the story involving all of these elements happened to be more attractive. You know, kind of like Rebecca Ferguson in this movie. Props to the costume design on this film, a couple of her looked legit.

“Reminiscence” does not have the best screenplay of the year. At least in terms of visual execution. But there is one line that is repeated throughout the film that I found intriguing.

“No such thing as a happy ending. All endings are sad. Especially if the story was happy.”

Believe it or not, there is some truth to that. This is perhaps a slightly more artistic way of saying “Nothing lasts forever,” or “We all die at some point,” or “There will come a day where you will hate something that ‘Star Wars’ puts out.” I think this is a great quote, even if the script leaves a bit to be desired.

Technically speaking, this is not a bad looking film. Some of the shots are majestic, and kind of have a feel that harkened back to not just the couple of Nolan films I mentioned, but I’d even bring up “Blade Runner” and “The Shape of Water” as goto comparisons.

If anything, “Reminiscence” was an idea that had wasted potential. Aside from the concept, which I mentioned earlier, the film comes in with a stacked cast from Hugh Jackman to Thandiwe Newton. These are all-stars, and they’re working on one of the most uninteresting sci-fi flicks of the past few years.. The one thing that I wonder is that even though Lisa Joy has been in the visual entertainment industry for some time, is if she was truly ready to take on a movie like this. Because most of her work has been through television. I’m not saying that Lisa Joy should be forbidden from directing, writing, or working on a film if she so desired, but I wondered how out of her comfort zone something like this could have been for her. What else has she directed? One episode of “Westworld?” Okay… I mean, I’ll say in her defense, HBO programming usually has a higher price tag, standard, and more cinematic feel compared to most television shows. I’ll give her that. But I think if you were to direct a film like this, which is not the most expensive thing in the world, but it is by no means cheap, I think you would want someone with more experience in the director’s chair to pull this off. I am glad that women are getting more opportunities to direct, but I wonder if Lisa Joy should have just stuck to the screenplay and let someone else bring her vision to life. Because despite my complaints about the screenplay, the original script for this film was on the 2013 Black List of most-liked unmade screenplays. This film had a lot going for it. I’m glad Lisa Joy could get her movie out there, but my god I wish it were better.

In the end, “Reminiscence” by no means the worst movie of the year. In fact, I think at this point I’d rather watch this again as opposed to some other recent Warner Brothers titles like “Space Jam: A New Legacy” and “Tom & Jerry.” Then again, this may come with a bias towards sci-fi. I had very little connection to the other two projects going into them with the exception of liking one of the trailers for the former. As for “Reminiscence,” it had plenty going for it from the marketing (even though they did not spend much money on it), the people in it, and the concept. But in the end, it all feels like a waste. I’m going to give “Reminiscence” a 4/10.

“Reminiscence” is now playing in theaters and it is also on the ad-free tier of HBO Max for a limited time.

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that my next review is going to be for “Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings.” I wanted to get this out a bit earlier, but life has been busy, so I’ve been holding this review off for some time. I do want to let everyone know that I already did see the movie, AND I am seeing it again tonight, which unfortunately may spoil part of my thoughts regarding the film itself, but either way, look forward to my review when it drops! Also, be sure to check out my review for “Malignant,” whenever that drops as well! 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 Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Reminiscence?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a film that you think has a great concept with terrible execution? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Meg (2018): Shut Up, Shark

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“The Meg” is directed by Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure, Phenomenon) and stars Jason Statham (The Transporter, Furious 7), Bingbing Li (Transformers: Age of Extinction, Resident Evil: Retribution), Rainn Wilson (The Office, Juno), Ruby Rose (John Wick: Chapter 2, xXx: Return of Xander Cage), Winston Chao (The Wedding Banquet, 1911), and Cliff Curtis (The Last Airbender, Fear the Walking Dead). This movie is essentially about Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) who encounters a megalodon, a killer shark that is as large as Texas. It is up to him to save people from suffering while a submersible happens to be sinking.

“The Meg” was not really my most anticipated movie of the year, it was not really something I was thinking was going to be all that great, but at the same time, I just couldn’t keep my eyes off of it. Kind of in the same way that geckos can’t keep their eyes off of how 15 minutes can save you 15 percent or more on car insurance. Maybe they don’t know what that means, but at the same time it’s just so hypnotizing and rings a bell in people’s heads. The first trailer of “The Meg,” at least to me, was a thing of beauty. I felt like this was not going to necessarily be the movie that kills all of the other summer movies in terms of likability. Having already seen “Mission: Impossible: Fallout,” this movie has some big shoes to fill. Based on the music and catch phrases that the marketing provided (CHOMP ON THIS), I knew what I was going in for, and I was f*cking ready for it. Let me just tell you all, this movie is what “Sharknado” should have been. OK, well, maybe not, the plots kind of differ, but even so, in a world where we have more “Sharknado” movies than we have “Jaws” movies, “The Meg” is here to chew on every last “Sharknado” possible!

I’ll remind everyone about “Sharknado,” and if you don’t know what “Sharknado” is, consider yourself safe from being trapped by shark Satan. There’s also a good chance you might not be aware that it is well known for being stupid, and in a way that I GUESS entertains people. For me, I just find it horrendous. And even the franchise itself understands what I’m talking about. The previous “Sharknado” installment claims to be the ultimate movie in its lineup. It’s literally called “The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time!” When it comes to “The Meg,” the plot, while still revolving around scope per se, utilizes it and uses it in a way that is technically smaller. “Sharknado” might as well be the “Star Wars” prequel trilogy…

“It’s so dense, every single frame has so many things going on.” -Rick McCallum

…whereas “The Meg” might as well be the “Star Wars” original trilogy, where there’s glory, with a proper purpose.

“The Meg” is a movie revolving around a really big shark, and this does feel like a big movie, and that’s exactly what this movie does very well. Speaking of things it excels at, it manages to have some scares. Nothing groundbreaking, nothing to write home about, but it all works. “The Meg” manages to have the same quality “Jaws” seems to have, which is to effectively combine summertime fun and horror and put it into a nice little package. Now this movie is no masterpiece, so to call it the next “Jaws” is a bit of a stretch, but it certainly does share a redeeming quality that kind of made “Jaws” what it is. Horrific summertime fun.

What “Jaws” has though compared to “The Meg” is compelling characters. The characters in “The Meg” aren’t exactly unlikable, they don’t do anything that makes you want to smash them to bits, but they just aren’t really worth talking about in a greatest characters of all time list. And I say that primarily because while they certainly serve their purpose and are somewhat intriguing, they don’t have enough depth to them. Although then again, some of them are deep underwater in the movie so what do I know?

Our main character in the movie is played by Jason Statham and he plays a guy named Jonas Taylor, but in all seriousness, I am probably not gonna remember the character’s name that well and just refer to him as Jason Statham. If he looks like Jason Statham, talks like Jason Statham, walks like Jason Statham, then he’s Jason Statham. I also gotta say though, seeing Jason Statham in this movie, I honestly think he was slightly miscast. I can imagine others playing this character aside from Statham. Sure, Statham kind of works, but there are better choices out there. Maybe John Cena (Blockers, The Wall), maybe Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ex Machina), maybe Terry Crews (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Brooklyn Nine-Nine).

And when it comes to the background we get related to Jason Statham’s character, there’s not really much I can report. All we really know about him is that apparently he’s crazy. In fact, what do we really know about anyone in this movie? Let’s just say you tied me to a chair and the only way I’d be able to live is if I can explain about at least one character in detail. Chances are that’d be impossible, because I feel like all of these characters lack detail. These are just people that all seem to be stuck in a situation who we as audience members could be getting to know, but in reality, are just scribbled on the script just to move the story along. These characters are seemingly interesting, they’re funny, they have good chemistry for the most part, acting is hit or miss, but they all seem to work well together.

Speaking of good acting, let’s talk about the portrayal of the young girl, Meiyang, played by Shuya Sophia Cai. Let me remind you, this is a child actress. She was born a decade ago, and the first trailer for this movie came out barely before she entered the double digit ages. Her acting level in this movie was probably better than a good number of adults present on the cast list. Either the director worked extra hard with this girl to make her execute the best performance possible, she has excellent mentors who know acting and can teach acting quite well, or maybe pleasing acting to her is something that just comes naturally. I don’t know, but the main point is, this girl can act! Well done to her!

As far as pacing in this movie goes, it almost makes the movie a puzzle in a sense. In the very beginning, it’s all exposition, it’s all introductions, it gets boring after a while, you just start begging for a megalodon to show up out of nowhere. I will admittedly say that maybe the first act of “Skyscraper” may have entertained me more than the first act of “The Meg.” Once you get into the megalodon stuff however, you don’t want to go back. It gets funnier, it gets wilder, it gets stupider in the best possible way. There was also some cringe comedy in there, and I’ll be honest, it flows rather well if you ask me.

One thing I gotta ask myself though is how GOOD this movie actually is. Because I’ll be honest with you, I REALLY enjoyed myself during “The Meg.” Let me just say this IS NOT a 10/10, but it’s also not a 1/10. What I’m trying to figure out on my mind if I like this movie because it’s so stupid it’s fantastic, or if it’s fun, or I’m just putting myself in a particular mindset for a couple of hours. And speaking of time, when I walked out of the theater, I noticed it was around 9:50PM, I went into the movie at 7:45PM, and the actual film started sometime past 7:50PM. When I walked out, this movie felt like it was 10 or 20 minutes shorter than it actually was, and I mean that in a good way. When you consider the boring first act, that almost sounds impractical. But from my perspective, this movie REALLY picks up at around the 30 or 40 minute mark.

Not only is pacing something that doesn’t stay consistent in this movie, but the tone is sometimes off for me. There were a couple times when someone was in danger where I didn’t really care if they got seriously hurt or if they died, whatever. I just didn’t really care for them because this didn’t feel like a character movie for one thing and once again, these people basically have no depth to them. And speaking of that, you know how I mentioned “The Meg” might as well be the superior version of “Sharknado?” With that statement in mind, “The Meg” contains a better story with more competent camerawork, special effects, and writing. I didn’t say everything in this movie was better by a landslide when it comes to “Sharknado.” Characterization needs some work if you ask me.

In the end, “The Meg” is the best kind of stupid movie you could ever ask for. It basically knows what it is, the fun never stops after a certain point, and while there happen to be some clashing tones interfering, this movie is still a good time. I honestly want to get the “The Meg” on Blu-ray when it comes out, because I think this will end up having a positive replay value on my part, so when that movie hits stores, I’ll be on my way. I don’t recommend this movie to everyone. If you are someone who is often called “Shirley” and is very serious, this movie might be one you’d want to avoid. For me, I just had plain fun, and I can’t wait to watch this movie again if I ever get a chance. I’m gonna give “The Meg” a 6/10. I’ll be honest with you. This grade might not even last. It could go up, it could go down, it could stay where it is. But based on everything I said, 6 seems to fit. Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I’m going to have my review up for “2001: A Space Odyssey,” which will be the first entry in my space movie reviews in preparation for “First Man.” Speaking of upcoming content, I would like to warn everyone that New York Comic Con is coming up in a couple weeks, and I have tickets for Friday and Sunday so be sure to look out for my thoughts on the con whenever I can get around to posting them. Be sure to follow me here on Scene Before either with a WordPress account or email so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “The Meg?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite shark movie? I bet all of you are gonna pick “Jaws” so I’ll ask another question. What are your thoughts on “Sharknado?” You can talk about individual movies or the franchise, your choice. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!