The Gentlemen (2019): A Confused, Hungry Lion of a Ride

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“The Gentlemen” is directed by Guy Ritchie (Snatch, Aladdin) and stars Matthew McConaughey (Interstellar, Sing), Charlie Hunham (Nicholas Nickleby, Queer As Folk), Henry Golding (Last Christmas, Crazy Rich Asians), Michelle Dockery (Good Behavior, Downton Abbey), Jeremy Strong (The Big Short, Succession), Eddie Marsan (Ray Donovan, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell), Colin Farrell (S.W.A.T., The Lobster), and Hugh Grant (Four Weddings and a Funeral, A Very English Scandal). This film is about an American expat who is trying to make money through selling off his marijuana business in London. This leads to eventual chaos… And by chaos, I mean what my brain went through while watching this movie.

It’s been a week since I saw “The Gentlemen” just to get things up to speed. My noggin is still spiraling in all sorts of directions.

Honestly, I am sort of glad I have waited as long as I did to talk about this movie. I saw this on the Wednesday before it came out to a pretty active crowd, there were laughs and applause throughout, therefore this seemed like a fine experience. As for other reviewers, they seem to be digging this movie. I on the other hand cannot say I share the same opinion as everyone else. Let me just start with the positives, because believe it or not, this movie has some.

This film is finely directed and it feels as if Guy Ritchie is delivering his own style and implementing it into the final product. The characters feel like they could only come out of a movie of this kind, maybe a few others. The casting from Matthew McConaughey to Colin Farrell, to Michelle Dockery is all very well done. It also shows how brilliantly each character is performed based on each actor’s ability. In a way, it almost had a similar vibe to “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” while not exactly being the same film overall in terms of plot and style. And if you know me, you know I think “Kingsman: The Secret Service” is one of the better spy films of the past decade. Part of the movie revolves around two characters who are basically reading a movie script and analyzing what the movie calls a true story in an attempt to turn that into a feature film. One of the better parts of it is when they throw out archaic terms like 35mm, anamorphic widescreen, almost in that tone where someone thinks of what cinema is “supposed to be” like in the “good old days.”

A number of the action scenes are enjoyable. Again, going back to the characters, there is a scene, and if you watch the trailer, chances are you got a taste of it, where Matthew McConaughey almost looks like a madman as he has a gun in his hand. There are a couple other fun scenes too, don’t get me wrong.

Other than that, this movie has no real reason for me to go back and watch it again… Except for one thing, which I will get to later.

If you go back up the opening paragraph, chances are you noticed me trying to describe the movie and I ultimately present it as if some blanks need to be filled. I’ll be honest, that’s because pacing-wise, this movie is almost too fast. I said this film reminds me a tad of “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” One of the great things about that movie in my opinion is how it almost never stops, it kept me glued because of the bonkers action and ridiculousness of all to be seen. While that may have been a positive in “Kingsman,” such a notion honestly deters “The Gentlemen.” There could be an argument to make that this is one of those movies that could end up getting better through multiple watches, that way I can digest everything, but in order to do that, there has to be some sort of desire that a viewer like me must achieve to watch a movie again in the first place. After watching “The Gentlemen,” there are elements that I liked, but as a film, I have managed to find a lot of it forgettable and even though I am not great with names in real life, I walked out of this film wondering what everybody’s name was.

Just for the record, I have been previously been diagnosed with ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactive disorder, which is just a fancy way of saying that my mind likes to go in several places at once. This feels like a movie that maybe I would make if I were to shove in a bunch of ideas, locations, characters, but I just want them in there just for the sake of being there. In real life, my ADHD sort of represents a less than pleasant span of attention at times, and from one moment to the next, the movie just feels like it cannot stick to a proper idea for a suitable length of time. One moment it’s here, one moment it’s there, the next moment it feels like it is about to go everywhere! That’s the best way I can describe this disappointing mediocrity.

This film is directed by Guy Ritchie who also helmed “Snatch” in the past, which I have enjoyed due to its individualistic style and overall fast pace. I barely remember the film partially due to how I have only seen it once, but I remember enjoying it. But he also did “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,” which was a waste of precious time. As a director, there is no doubting that Ritchie likes to do films kind of in his own way, sort of like Quentin Tarantino or Wes Anderson. I do respect the feeling of creative freedom that is represented from “The Gentlemen,” I just wish the movie was better as a result of said creative freedom. Too many movies seem to be tied down to a formula or locked into the requirements of a studio, “The Gentlemen” sort of reminds me of the kinds of movies I would prefer to see today. At the same time however, this movie almost feels like something Zack Snyder would direct. Now that is a bit of a stretch, but if you have seen films like “300” and “Sucker Punch,” which if I were to review right now, would receive positive grades, they feel like they ultimately do a better job at representing style over substance.

I also kind of see why a film like this sort of ended up in January, while I could probably market this film with ease and maybe represent it as summertime fun with all sorts of action, that’s not entirely what is shown in the final product. This is a film that I would imagine behind the scenes some were feeling would be not too difficult to describe, but not the easiest film to describe either. This makes it harder to form a concrete marketing campaign. January is usually seen as dumping ground for film, so it would not be surprising that the studio thought a film like “The Gentlemen” could end up in such a release month.

Also, over the past number of days, I’ve been starting to crush on Michelle Dockery because of this movie. Just saying. Not that it affects my score all that much.

In the end, “The Gentlemen” is a movie with a number of positives in it. The action is slick and fun, the writing style is something probably only Guy Ritchie himself would come up with, the casting is perfect! But this film needs to calm down. If anything, I should remind you all of another film that came out recently, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” I want to bring this up because one of the complaints I have heard about “The Rise of Skywalker” is that the movie feels like it is too quick. Having seen “The Rise of Skywalker” myself I have no idea what these people were thinking, I think the fast pace of the film made it fun, compared to its predecessor, “The Last Jedi.” But if you don’t like the bonkers pace of “The Rise of Skywalker,” try watching “The Gentlemen” and tell me you have a basic understanding of EVERYTHING that is going on. I don’t know, maybe I am getting ahead of myself. Going back to the one reason why I might watch this movie again, there is a good chance that I could watch “The Gentlemen” a second time and like it more because the film goes so fast, maybe I will catch something new. But having seen it once, I am going to have to continuously wonder if it warrants a second viewing. Until then, I have to be brutally honest, because I’m going to give “The Gentlemen” a 5/10.

Thanks for reading this review! This SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 2ND, that’s Super Bowl Sunday, is the beginning of the Super Bowl for movies, the Jackoff Awards! For the record, the actual ceremony will not be up until SUNDAY FEBRUARY 16TH, a little more than two weeks from now. I am not going to provide too many hints for the nominations, but for those of you who have witnessed last year’s events related to the ceremony, you’d probably be aware of how I handled Best Picture. This year, once again, once I announce the nominees for Best Picture, I am going to provide a poll of the ten movies and have you pick the one that YOU think should win. Why? Because I already chose mine earlier this month in my best movies of the year list! Now, it’s your turn! Be sure to look out for my upcoming nominations announcement this Sunday! If you want to see this post and more from Scene Before and Flicknerd.com, give the site a follow via an email or WordPress account. Speaking of following, give me a like on my Facebook page, located on the Zuckerberg Land itself! I want to know, did you see “The Gentlemen?” What did you think about it? Am I getting ahead of myself? Or, what is a movie that you think is too fast-paced? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson (2019): Worse Than The Haunting of Sharon Tate?

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“The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson” is directed by Daniel Farrands, who also directed the gosh-awful piece of crap that some would call a movie, “The Haunting of Sharon Tate.”Β  This film stars Mena Suvari (American Pie, American Beauty), Nick Stahl (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Sin City), Agnes Bruckner (The Bold and the Beautiful, Once Upon a Time), Drew Roy (Falling Skies, Hannah Montana), and Taryn Manning (Orange Is the New Black, Crossroads) in a film that dives into the final days of OJ Simpson’s wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, as shown from her point of view.

If you have been following my blog, you’d already know that I have talked about a couple films this year and reviewed them. However, this is ultimately the first film released this particular decade that I have to tackle. And to be honest, I wish I could have chosen a better one.

To call what I’m reviewing a “January movie” is perhaps generous. Because for those of you who must know, the month of January is usually a dumping ground for films. Maybe the film is not that good, not that profitable, and maybe studios don’t know what to do with it. But when I think of other bad January movies, a lot of them contain some sort of charm when compared to “The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson.”

This film is from director Daniel Farrands, who also directed a movie I mentioned earlier, which happens to be the worst movie I sat through in 2019, “The Haunting of Sharon Tate.” I don’t, THANKFULLY, remember all that I saw. But what I do remember is that I witnessed one of the most distasteful, incompetent, not to mention insulting films I have ever sat through. IT WAS EVEN RELEASED IN THEATERS! F*CKING THEATERS!

And guess what? This one is no different! Not only did it get a small release in theaters, but just like “The Haunting of Sharon Tate,” this piece of s*it can just go to Hell! I rented this film on Prime Video with absolute curiosity as to what I was going to witness. But honestly, this movie feels like a tarnation even if it is free. As I watched this film, based on the vibe and characters, this felt like one of those films that could easily go straight to Lifetime, but for some reason, I have no full idea why, this got approved for a theatrical release.

Technically speaking, it’s barely watchable. The music is fitting, but also kind of a waste of time and space. The camerawork… well, is full of properly framed material… But there’s not really much of anything special about it. But speaking of things on camera, this director must really love horror movies. Because I saw a review before checking this movie out, but having witnessed that review, I have been informed that there is a clip that might as well be out of “Nightmare on Elm Street.” Now, I have not seen “Nightmare on Elm Street” but I have seen the clip that this film CLEARLY rips off.

Actually, you know what? Saying that this film rips off “Nightmare on Elm Street” is honestly too generous. If anything it almost tries to… pay respects, I guess? BUT IT DOES SO TO ABOMINABLE LEVELS! If anything it just does a horribly shot and blasphemously edited sequence that pretty much can only be compared to something out of a really bad Michael Bay movie. The scene has so many massively off-putting jumpcuts and mind-numbingly annoying flickers that I am almost surprised I did not exit my viewing experience with a headache! IT’S SO BAD!

Speaking of Lifetime movies, the characters and acting levels represented in this film are very fitting for such an environment.

There’s this whole subplot about Nicole trying to find someone, the dialogue in the earliest scene regarding this is still in my head, specifically where one of her friends is trying to encourage her to go to town on a waiter. Cringe! Period! I can’t even form complete sentences at this point! GAH! Even if Arnold Schwarzenegger confirmed to me that it’s not a tumor, I’d probably feel like a tumor is destroying me as we speak.

I will give credit though to the lead actress, Mena Suvari, because I feel like even though this movie fell apart through screenwriting, music, and the lack of ability to helm a project, this is still a competent performance. I felt like this was the performance needed out of a character like this. She’s shy, not incredibly outspoken, and a bit reserved. It might be the best part of the movie. Although given how much this mess shatters itself like a newer model iPhone when tossed to the ground, it doesn’t really say much!

For all of you writing a book on the history of film reviews, mark this day, because I am about to use “The Haunting of Sharon Tate,” a film that broke me to no end that it wound up being my #3 worst film of the past decade, AS THE POSITIVE in a comparison. We have officially reached worldwide insanity.

Whereas “The Haunting of Sharon Tate,” did one thing, and I repeat ONE THING that could have been interesting regarding its screenplay, this film has nothing that feels fresh or emotionally investing, even though the main character is about to get bloody murdered! “The Haunting of Sharon Tate” AT THE VERY LEAST had one interesting point within its screenplay… Are our lives written from beginning to end? Is everything in our lives pre-planned? Can we write our own scripts? That reminds me, THIS MOVIE HAS A F*CKING DREADFUL SCRIPT! Am I being a little harsh? It’s possible. After all, this is the first feature-length script from Michael Arter, who also had a credit for “The Haunting of Sharon Tate” as a production coordinator. Still, I gotta be truthful, I have to point out what irked me, because honesty is the best policy.

In fact, get this. Whenever Simpson says something regarding how she thinks she is going to brutally murdered one day or something else along those lines, it felt like an utter joke. And speaking of jokes, there is a scene where Simpson and another character are sitting in the kitchen as they drink… WAIT FOR IT. WHAT COULD IT EVER BE? Oh, I know! ORANGE JUICE! Is it just me or is this movie a punishment for someone? Possibly a punishment for me?

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I should also point out, when it comes to Simpsons’ friends, specifically Kris Kardashian (Agnes Bruckner) and Faye Resnick (Tayrn Manning), their characters at times feature some of the most painful to watch overacting I sat through in recent memory. If this film was a parody, this probably would have worked. Admittedly, this is what the film feels like at times, but without any intention whatsoever.

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Also, Faye Resnick’s wig is one of the worst I have seen on film. It almost looks like a wig someone would wear if they made a poorly realized stage play for an episode of “Friends” and they needed someone to play Rachel.

“The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson” is just short of an hour and a half, making it barely feature-length. Luckily, it does not feel longer than it needs to be, but this almost makes the movie feel disappointingly cheap, especially when considering that not all of the footage is shot specifically for it! Daniel Farrands is a director who I will be honest, needs to avoid going down the rabbit hole he seems to have fallen into. Is he a nice guy in person? Probably. Maybe he’s a charming fellow. This isn’t the only type of film Farrands has helmed. After all he has done documentaries before he dove into feature-length movies. Documentaries which by the way, also focus on the realm of horror. But I really think stories based on famous murders is not going to be something I would look forward to from now on if Farrands is behind the camera. If Farrands is really passionate about horror, then maybe he has some potential to create something magical within its genre, but these past couple of films I have seen from him have been dull, unsatisfying, and a waste of my time. Speaking of unsatisfying, this film contains a sex scene that isn’t exactly gross, but it feels poorly put together. The music in this scene feels incredibly out of place! It makes the belly-button sex in “The Room” look like “Pulp Fiction!”

In the end, this film is MURDER. It is nothing short of one of the worst experiences of film-viewing that I have ever dredged through. This is the first 2020 film, (some say it’s a 2019 film, but it’s a 2020 film as far as the United States is concerned) that I have witnessed. If this is not the worst film we are getting this year, not to mention for the remainder of this entire decade, then chances are this is God’s way of punishing us. “The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson” is perhaps acted as competently as possible, at least as far as Mena Suvari is concerned. Although the film is also shrouded in a piss-poor script, catastrophic scenes, and terrible directing. Is this film worse than “The Haunting of Sharon Tate?” Honestly, yes. As boring as “The Haunting of Sharon Tate” is, the film, from what I remember is collectively acted better, and I’ll also reiterate that the conversations about fate were at least somewhat intriguing even if they were almost tacked on. Story-wise, this film honestly has nothing. I’m going to give “The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson” a 1/10. This is honestly one of the worst films I have ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot of them, especially over these past number of years. I’d honestly rather watch “Cats” again! I’m not kidding! It’s that bad! Daniel Farrands, get your act together, and make better films! Get crackin’!

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that I just saw “Dolittle,” the latest movie, not to mention reboot in the “Dr. Dolittle” franchise and the first film featuring Robert Downey Jr. outside of Marvel Studios since 2014’s “The Judge.” I just went to see it in Dolby Cinema and I hope to have my thoughts on it as soon as possible. Be sure to follow Scene Before if you want to stay up to date on my latest content, you can do so by using an email or WordPress account! As for social media, check out my Facebook page if you want to not only receive access to my content as early as possible, but also random thoughts from the Movie Reviewing Moron. I want to know, did you see “The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson?” What did you think about it? Or, now that 2020 is here, what films have you seen so far? I know it’s early, but just for fun, give me your best and worst. Just to make it easier, feel free to insert films from past years! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Irishman (2019): Jack Does a Short Review of Martin’s Long Film

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“The Irishman” is directed by Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street, Silence) and stars Robert De Niro (Meet the Parents, The Godfather: Part II), Joe Pesci (Home Alone, Raging Bull), and Al Pacino (Heat, Insomnia). This is a return to form for critically acclaimed director Martin Scorsese, who is well-known for his gangster movies including “Goodfellas,” “Casino,” and “Mean Streets.” In this film inspired by Charles Brandt’s book “I Heard You Paint Houses,” Robert De Niro’s character, Frank Sheeren recalls events of his past as he gets involved with Russell Bufalino and dissects into his involvement with Jimmy Hoffa.

I will be completely honest with you. There was a time, going back two or three years ago that I did not think I was going to check out this movie as all. After all, I don’t personally pay for Netflix, which I heard this movie was going to be on. I did not realize at the time that they were getting a bit more serious with their theatrical releases. To this day, my family uses Netflix, but I just never jumped on the train. I’m just not a streamer, it’s not my style. The only services I use today happen to be Prime and Crackle. When I heard this was getting a theatrical release, my curiosity levels shot into the air and almost splattered like glittery fireworks. Even though I am rather late to the party, I did make a trip to one of my local theaters to go see “The Irishman.” I’d say it was worth the trip. To be honest with you, even though some of the most well-regarded movies ever made are gangster flicks, that type of film has never been my style. With that being said, my experience of witnessing this film was still a good use of my time.

Speaking of time, “The Irishman” is three and a half hours long, making it my most extended watch of the year. This is both a blessing and a curse. I say that because the movie for the most part is entertaining and rather investing. The downside is that perhaps both the first thirty minutes and last thirty minutes happen to be the points where the film manages to fizzle. I may be exaggerating on the first thirty minutes because for one thing, the film was just beginning, therefore it was nearly impossible for me to divert my eyes away from the screen. But, for the last thirty minutes or so, I felt like I was watching something that was four hours as opposed to three and a half.

I did something I don’t normally do when I work on my reviews, but I jotted down some short notes after watching the film. I was in the middle of a double feature, because I watched both this and “Marriage Story” in the same day. Before my second movie started, I stated that “I enjoyed the little things.” There are a few scenes in this movie that sort of add something to the film, but almost feel like they belong on an extended cut. There is a scene towards the end of the movie, that I won’t entirely go into that involves a conversation about the delivery of a fish. It’s undoubtedly entertaining, and in the moment, it kind of put a smile on my face, but the more I think about it, it almost does not really add anything to the film overall aside from some random laughs. It just feels like wasted time. I mean, it sort of reminded me of “Pulp Fiction,” which has random conversations about uncomfortable silences and foot massages. These are two random topics that somehow got in the script in the first place, but most amazing of all, worked. However, “Pulp Fiction” feels like it uses every minute wisely whereas “The Irishman” almost overstays its welcome. The pacing drags at a point, which considering the runtime, is not that surprising.

While this movie may suffer in terms of pacing, I think it is nevertheless one of the best directed and acted films I have seen all year. Martin Scorsese manages to deliver a technically competent film on all levels ranging from camerawork, lighting, and delivering the best performances possible. This movie also contains what may be my favorite child performance of the year, given by Lucy Gallina. Her performance is very subtle, and any scene involving her was either entertaining or simply charming.

Speaking of surprise performances, I want to talk about Ray Romano. Do not get me wrong, I liked Ray Romano long before he signed onto this movie, but I never thought Romano had the acting range he does today. After all, he was the lead role on one of my favorite sitcoms, “Everybody Loves Raymond,” where he basically plays an exaggerated, alternate version of himself. In this movie he plays a lawyer by the name of Bill Bufalino, and honestly, it’s the best performance of his career. Looking at his past work, it might not say too much, but it’s still worth pointing out.

However, Romano is not part of the big three. Specifically, De Niro, Pesci, and Pacino. And while I do admire the portrayals given by the entire trio, Pacino, personally, cannot be beat. Pacino was perfectly cast as Jimmy Hoffa. This is a role that I honestly do not see anybody else playing, except maybe John Tuturro, not specifically because of his acting ability or anything, but at one point, I thought Pacino looked like Tuturro during the film. Out of all the characters, Hoffa was by the far the most charismatic and interesting of all. He’s bombastic, wacky, and quirky. He’s basically what you need out of a proper Pacino role.

I don’t have much more to say on “The Irishman,” but as I watched this film, one of the things I almost forgot about going in that I eventually reminded myself of is the de-aging processes that can be seen throughout this flick. De-aging through digital tech is a seemingly increasing trend. We’ve seen it so far in films like “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “Tron: Legacy,” and “Gemini Man.” I think one of the best de-aging jobs that has been done recently is for Samuel L. Jackson in “Captain Marvel.” YES, I JUST BROUGHT UP A MARVEL MOVIE IN A REVIEW FOR A MARTIN SCORSESE FILM. REMIND HIM NOT TO READ THIS IN ORDER TO AVOID NIGHT TERRORS. As for this film, I could barely even notice the digital makeup applied to everybody. I’d probably have to watch the film again, and I have no plans to watch it again in the near future, but if I were to watch it again it would be for one reason only. Because the main actors are not that young, and I want to remind myself of how they move. They may look younger in the film than they do in real life, but do they move like younger people should? It’s a question that is still on my mind.

In the end, “The Irishman” is entertaining, but a tad too long. Although at the same time, this brings up a dilemma, because one of the most entertaining factors of “The Irishman” are some little additions that do not need to necessarily be in the final cut, but are entertaining nonetheless. This movie is a solid piece of work, and not exactly a waste of my time (maybe except for somewhere between ten and thirty minutes worth), so I’d still recommend it. I’d recommend it to a good number of people, unless you are an easily offended vegetarian. This film has a lot of steak consumption. I really liked Jimmy Hoffa’s story overall, and basically any scene involving him made the movie twice as swell as it already was. I’m going to give “The Irishman” a 7/10. One reminder to Martin Scorsese, there are two Marvel films I saw this year that I liked better than this. Just being real.

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone, as mentioned earlier, I went to see “Marriage Story.” I will have my review up for that as soon as possible, and stay tuned at the rise of the new year for my countdowns on the best and worst movies of 2019! If you want to see more great content like this, follow Scene Before! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Irishman?” What did you think about it? Did you see it in theaters or at home? Tell me about your experience! Or, do you consider comic book movies like those in the Marvel Cinematic Universe “cinema?” Yes? No? Maybe? I don’t know? Part yes part no? State your case, defend your opinion, the universe depends on it! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Uncut Gems (2019): Anything’s Possible -Kevin Garnett

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“Uncut Gems” is directed by Josh and Benny Safdie and stars Adam Sandler (Big Daddy, Happy Gilmore), Kevin Garnett (Rebound: The Legend of Earl ‘The Goat’ Manigault, NBA 2K19), Idina Menzel (Frozen, Glee), Lakeith Stanfield (Sorry to Bother You, Knives Out), Julia Fox, Eric Bogosian (Billions, Law & Order: Criminal Intent), and this film tends to revolve around a jeweler from New York, who is always looking for big bets. He’s a bit of a gambler, and if you watch this movie, there are times in which it resembles a tad of an obsession. The film follows one big bet story and dives into the actions of the jeweler as a character as he tries to balance work, family, and adversaries.

If you told me back in September that Adam Sandler was coming out with a new film, there is a good chance that I would have just responded to you saying “That’s cute,” and move on. However, to my surprise, “Uncut Gems” seems to have been met with high praise and many positive reviews. To me, this is an utter surprise, because as much as I like Adam Sandler, as funny as I think he is, his work in the realm of feature film is not always the best. “Grown Ups” is honestly one of the decade’s worst comedies. I haven’t even seen “Jack and Jill” so I think I am in a safe place at the moment. I liked “Pixels,” kind of… However, it does not take much away from what Adam Sandler did back in the day. I really liked “Happy Gilmore,” “Click,” and “Big Daddy.” In fact, “Big Daddy,” at least to me, is probably one of the most overlooked comedies that I have seen in my life. It’s a film that manages to balance being sweet, while also being incredibly immature, and somehow working. For that, everyone behind the movie has my respect.

I also had the privilege of seeing this movie early on December 8th, at the Boston premiere. The city just opened the new Arclight by TD Garden, which I may do a post on eventually if I feel like it. Me, alongside the rest of the audience, happened to be introduced to the movie by the Safdie brothers, the directors of the film, Kevin Garnett, who plays a supporting role, and Adam Sandler himself. They said hi, Sandler supported a nine or ten year old kid (and their parents) up front for coming to an R rated movie. The experience of seeing this movie was a fairly unique one, some might even call it awesome. Was the movie as awesome as the experience of going to see it? Yeah, I’d say so.

This is an interesting project given what’s entailed. It’s a rarity to see an actor like Adam Sandler taking on a serious role and project like he did here. He has my respect. The Safdie brothers do a really good job at directing this film. And one of the best parts of the film overall, and I really hope this does not get overlooked during awards season, is the musical score by Daniel Lopatin, who also did the music for “The Bling Ring” and “Good Time,” another film directed by the Safdie brothers. Just from early on in the film, it got in my head. It has this very mystical vibe that is kind of hard to describe. If they had to make an original song to describe part of the “Jupiter and Beyond the Infinte” sequence in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” part of this score would be a good way to do so. If I had to compare this to other films, maybe I’d compare it to maybe “Blade Runner,” perhaps “The Neon Demon.”

But let’s be real, this is Adam Sandler’s movie. And I mean that 100%. I have not seen all of Adam Sandler’s work. Heck, to this day I haven’t even seen “The Wedding Singer” or “Billy Madison.” However, if I had to compare this movie, in terms of Sandler’s performance, to anything else that he’s done, this is EASILY my favorite performance that he has given. And I think a lot of it has to do with the writing, because this character is taken a lot more seriously than Adam’s previous roles, and the directing, because Adam feels like he is a little more subtle than usual. Granted, there are moments that resemble a typical Adam Sandler performance like over the top yelling and moving around like crazy. But the thing is, when it comes to these tendencies from Adam Sandler, it feels a lot more grounded and much less goofy. I know Sandler took on a role in “The Meyerowitz Stories” which earned him a Critics Choice nomination, but I have a feeling that this role is going to be remembered for a longer period of time. For the record, I have not seen “The Meyerowitz Stories,” but I am aware of its existence. When it comes to Adam Sandler in “Uncut Gems,” I felt moved, I felt like I was there for the ride, and ultimately, Sandler manages to deliver an unbelievable amount of charisma to the table.

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And speaking of solid performances, I will also give kudos to one of the bigger surprises for me in the film and that is Kevin Garnett. Granted, his role is not all that complicated, because he does play himself. But based on his delivery in this film, I would not mind seeing more of him in other movies. Maybe he’ll be the next Dwayne Johnson or John Cena, one of those big sports stars who ends up going into the entertainment realm. In fact, much of the movie revolves around him and is based on events that took place during a big NBA playoff session. Speaking of celebrity appearances in this film, the Weeknd makes an appearance, and sort of dives into a fraction his life prior to today.

As for negatives, even though “Uncut Gems” is a really solid movie, a gritty, punch-packing, exciting thrill of a flick, I don’t see myself going back to theater to watch it again. If I ever find it on Blu-ray, I’ll definitely pick it up if I am ever in the mood. I think this movie contains bar none, the best performance ever given by Adam Sandler, but it’s not like one of those movies that I feel would require a second or third viewing because it is THAT good. Then again, there is another part of me, that thinks would need a second or third viewing to see if I missed anything subtle. This movie made me curious. It allowed me to wonder what was going to happen next. This feels like one of those movies that could end up being better on a second viewing, because this first viewing, while entertaining, feels like something I should process for a long period of time, but I am ultimately forced to in just a matter of a couple of hours. Technically, across the board, this film rocks. The music, the cinematography, the makeup, all of it works. I just don’t know if I’ll flock to it again. I love the screenplay, very much so in fact, but if it weren’t for very minor issues, it would almost be near perfect. “Uncut Gems” is a good movie, one of Adam Sandler’s finest in fact, so if that does not resemble a fine time at the cinema, I don’t know what does.

In the end, I think “Uncut Gems” is a damn fine film. It’s a GOOD TIME. Pun intended for those of you familiar with the Safdie brothers. I wouldn’t mind listening to the soundtrack at 2 in the morning while everyone else in my neighborhood is asleep as I write my screenplays like a madman. And even though Adam Sandler is often defined as a joke when it comes to actors today, I think this is a career-defining performance as far as he’s concerned. It’s honestly unlike anything I have seen from him. Now will he win an Oscar for it? It’s still hard to tell. I would not be surprised if he gets nominated. After all, despite not being nominated for the Golden Globes, he did win the Best Actor award from the National Board of Review, and he was just recently nominated for a Critics Choice Award. It’s still possible. Would Sandler be snubbed if he’s not nominated? From my perspective, I still need to think about that. We’ll just have to see. I’m going to give “Uncut Gems” an 8/10.

Thanks for reading this review! And if you are reading this review the week it has been released, you are in luck because I am about to remind you it is officially “STAR WARS” WEEK! This week is the official release of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” I am going opening night, and I will have my review up (hopefully) on Friday morning. If not, it’ll be up by the end of the day, or sometime later during the weekend. Speaking of reviews, I will be seeing another movie this week, “Bombshell.” This film is based on the scandal revolving around Fox News’ Roger Ailes. I will have my thoughts on that film up as soon as possible, hopefully by Wednesday or Thursday. Only time will tell. If you want to see more content like this, be sure to follow Scene Before, like this post, and if you want to help me out a little more, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Uncut Gems?” What did you think about it? Or, who is an actor you thought couldn’t be taken seriously, but eventually turned themselves around for you? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Knives Out (2019): 2019’s Pop Culture Murder Mystery Dinner

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“Knives Out” is directed by Rian Johnson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Looper) and stars… well, pretty much everyone you know. To be completely serious though, “Knives Out” stars Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049, Exposed), Chris Evans (Captain America: The First Avenger, Gifted), Daniel Craig (Skyfall, Logan Lucky), Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween, Scream Queens), Michael Shannon (Take Shelter, The Shape of Water), Don Johnson (Miami Vice, Nash Bridges), Toni Collette (Hereditary, The Sixth Sense), Lakeith Stanfield (Sorry To Bother You, Get Out), Katherine Langford (13 Reasons Why, Love, Simon), Jaeden Martell (It, The Book of Henry), and Christopher Plummer (All the Money in the World, The Sound of Music). Holy crap, that’s a lot of names.

“Knives Out” takes place in the middle of Massachusetts and it typically centers around the interactions of a family after the death of a patriarch. Everybody gathers around a large house, everybody’s got a story, everybody’s got a motivation, but it is also up to a detective (Daniel Craig) to settle everyone down and find out the truth regarding what happened.

The murder mystery genre for me is kind of like horror, because I never take too many chances to dive into the genre itself. Granted, horror, at least to me, is a tad more predictable because it seems to have more of a staying power in today’s society, so I personally prefer the murder mystery genre. In fact, my favorite “Family Guy” episode ever, “And Then There Were Fewer,” is a murder mystery, so I do have some respect for the genre. And honestly, when it comes to Rian Johnson, I will admit that I have had a slight bad taste in my mouth because of the way he handled “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” It’s a film that just got significantly worse after I first saw it. In fact, when I watched it a second time, I was kind of turned off by the result. I say that because I wanted the movie to go in a different direction than say “The Empire Strikes Back,” which is a great movie. However, despite the everlasting love and affection I have for 2015’s “The Force Awakens,” one minor flaw with that movie is the way they manage to basically rehash the earliest “Star Wars.” Granted, it’s a fantastic homage which had many repeat viewings for me. But as much as I originally appreciated it for going in a different direction, a lot of the choices they made to go in such a direction were sort of faulty and questionable.

However, having seen that movie, I now know that Johnson might as well be one to subvert expectations. Here’s the thing. Murder mysteries are supposed to keep you guessing. If this movie could keep me on the edge of my seat and questioning everything, then I’d walk out satisfied.

Honestly, I went into this movie with an idea of what is going to be. It turns out, I got something better than what I thought I would get. And that says a lot because the hype behind this movie felt real for me. The production design is some of the best I have seen all year. The acting, not to mention casting in general, is perfect. Everyone from Daniel Craig to Ana De Armas to Toni Collette, everyone served their roles properly and put a smile on my face.

I’ll just say though, I think the two most popular award ceremonies that have to with movies are the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. I have had a history of talking about both ceremonies on here, especially the Academy. But I never usually talk about another popular ceremony, the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) Awards. One of the biggest awards they present on the night of the ceremony is one given to the entire ensemble of actors. We still have about a month left before 2019 is over, and a little longer than that until the ceremony takes place, but I’d argue that at this point, “Knives Out” has an extremely solid chance at winning such an award. I think purely based on how Rian Johnson has to handle so many actors at once, many of whom happened to already establish their name in the industry, including a couple who are a bit lesser known, there is a chance “Knives Out” could walk away with the biggest award from that ceremony.

One of the more solid examples that could let that case be true is Daniel Craig, who plays Benoit Blanc in the film. His performance, was part of what set the tone for the entire movie for me. Daniel Craig, while taking his performance seriously, realizes that this movie is sort of supposed to be fun. His introduction scene almost made me think I was watching something from Wes Anderson, because it is charming, quirky, and based on the way it was directed, I was perhaps hypnotized to leave the film, regardless of whether or not I liked it, admiring Craig in all his glory.

Another standout performer to me is one of the leads, Chris Evans. I think most of what I love about this performance has mainly to do with the screenplay and how the character is written. I say that because the movie is full of tense dialogue between characters, which allows serious vibes to kick in, but Evans manages to play a character who is incredibly laid back and sort of a smartass. Do I think other people could have played his character? Personally, yes, I think I could have played it if I tried, because if I were in this situation, this is probably how I would act. I’d try to have fun with the seriousness at hand, while also trying to deal with the current situation.

As for smaller roles, I think there are a number of them that stand out. Jamie Lee Curtis, Jaeden Martell, but the one I want to talk about is the one given by Toni Collette. I think Collette is not only a great performer here, but brought such life to her character that I cannot imagine anyone else bringing at all, or at least without being cringeworthy. Collette’s character sort of reminds me of a crazy aunt who likes to party. Maybe another good example is the mother from ABC’s “The Goldbergs,” minus the toxic affection she has for offspring. In a way, she’s almost like Chris Evans’ character, because as much as everyone else may be moody or depressed, which she kind of is at times, but still, she has a somewhat happy outlook on current happenings. Either that or she may just have some sort of God-given charisma that nobody else can have.

But if you ask me, I think the best performance in the film is given by Ana de Armas, an actress who I personally happened to have liked before this film came out, and someone who may been the main reason why this film was originally put on my radar. For the record, Ana de Armas was one of the supporting roles in my 2nd favorite film of 2017, and one of my favorite sci-fi films of the decade, “Blade Runner 2049.” She has this ability to take a challenging role and own it. Because in that movie she played a holographic woman that was supposed to have a connection to whoever owned them. The complexity of that role involved being someone who is robotic enough to serve their master, while also being human enough to understand emotion, because in that movie she was someone who happened to be in love with the main character. At the same time, it was almost as if she was a product of the main character’s desires.

As for this movie, we get more of a glance at a character where Ana de Armas has a personality where she is more worried about saving herself. In fact, I mentioned earlier that Daniel Craig presented himself as this quirky, out of nowhere detective. If you ask me, I think the biggest quirk in the movie didn’t necessarily come from him, and instead, came from Ana de Armas. Because she plays a character who practically cannot lie. If all other people were like her, she’d make the lie detector test obsolete. I say that because her character cannot tell a lie, otherwise she throws up. This makes every scene where Armas is forced to tell a truth or where she is being questioned all the more intriguing because not only was I, as an audience member, hypnotized to follow the mystery as it was unraveled, but I was also somewhat concerned for the character’s sanity, health, and sense of self.

From a technical standpoint, the cinematography in the film is amazing. The various dutch angles fit a number of the scenes and sort of had an old Hollywood vibe. The music is outstanding. By the way, such music is composed by Rian Johnson’s cousin, Nathan Johnson, who also worked with him in films like “Brick” and “Looper.” I think Rian Johnson could have a chance for being nominated in the Best Director category, I think his vision helped this movie immensely. This honestly feels like a movie that only he could have done. Maybe one or two other people could do this, but this feels like a personal project. And as much as I despise “The Last Jedi,” I could see what Rian Johnson was trying to do with that movie, because he not only directed that film, but he wrote it as well. “Star Wars” to me, must be a more collaborative piece of media to work on at this point, and with “The Force Awakens” pointing in a certain direction, it admittedly feels odd looking back to see one man with perhaps a sole vision take over for a big film that could expand on previous lore and build up to the next one which happens to conclude a trilogy. These are the kinds of films that I would prefer to see Johnson tackle. Could he do another big franchise in the future? Maybe, but I want to see more of his original work. Media that feels like something only he could own.

I honestly don’t even know what problems come to mind with “Knives Out.” The camerawork is some of the best I have seen all year. The characters are all charismatic. The screenplay is nothing short of outstanding. The ending, as well done as it is, is little choppy in buildup. As for other problems, if there are any, they are a bit hard to point out. Overall, this movie kicks ass!

In the end, “Knives Out,” the movie with perhaps the most badass title of all time, packs a brutal punch of bloody goodness. It is easily one of the best movies of the year, and a step in the right direction for Rian Johnson as a filmmaker. I have not checked out his earlier work, but I really want to check out “Looper.” Films like these are the ones I’ll be excited for when it comes to Rian Johnson’s filmography. Films that are original, exhilarating, and keep me on the edge of my seat. If I have to say one more thing, I will suggest that you’d go see this movie with the biggest crowd you can. If you have one of those theaters with reserved seating near you, buy your tickets online and see how many people have already reserved seats. If there many seats reserved already, I implore you, PLEASE buy a ticket to that show because this is a movie where crowd reactions enhance the experience to the tenth degree. I’m going to give “Knives Out” a 9/10.

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Thanks for reading this review! Just want to announce to everyone reading that during this Thanksgiving weekend, I am going to be showing off my newest trailer for “Top Movies of the 2010s,” a project I plan to release this January, it is going to be the most ambitious countdown series I have done yet, and I cannot wait to share it with you all! If you want to be notified about this trailer, here’s what you can do. Follow Scene Before with an email, or if you want greater access, use a WordPress account! If you are on Facebook, check out MY PAGE and give it a like! I want to know, did you see “Knives Out?” What did you think about it? Or, who happens to be your favorite fictional dysfunctional family? It can be from anything, books, movies, TV, you name it! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Joker: No Laughing Matter (2019)

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Before we get into my review for “Joker,” I just want to iterate a quick thought. I am well aware of this movie constantly being compared to “Taxi Driver,” and I’ll have you all know, I have not seen “Taxi Driver,” so none of those comparisons will be coming from me. I would love to check it out one day, but my schedule is pretty stacked up at the moment so it might have to wait for a little bit. So without further ado, let’s dive into the latest controversial movie!

Man, this poster is badass!

“Joker” is directed by Todd Phillips (Due Date, The Hangover) and stars Joaquin Phoenix (You Were Never Really Here, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot) as the famous, psychotic killer clown originally created by DC Comics. This film is about the character of Arthur Fleck, who eventually becomes known as the Joker. Essentially, it is a character study of what would happen if the Joker were placed in a depressing environment, with depressed people, in what could perhaps also be a depressing time.

If you have missed out on a lot of comic book movies recently, there is a good chance you probably have no recollection of big, explosive, not to mention expensive, blockbusters that purely exist to be part of a collected universe and happen to be somewhat friendly for both kids and adults. Maybe there’s an occasional dark vibe here and there with movies “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” or “Avengers: Infinity War,” but nevertheless, comic book movies, over the past decade, have mainly been big budget films that get a lot of audiences, including families, in the theater. There’d also however be an occasion where a film would be rated R. Some examples include “Deadpool” and “Logan,” both of which have been successful. And when the MPAA would end up slapping an R on these movies, there would usually be a reason. Gorey violence, language, perhaps bloated sex scenes, and so on. “Joker” is the next to join the club, and honestly, I am very happy to say that.

Before going to see “Joker,” I had some thoughts in mind regarding comic book villain movies. I was very skeptical before we had one of these films come out, and some of you know this already, but last year, audiences witnessed “Venom.” This was one of the earliest examples of an origin story of a comic book character who is usually seen as the villain. Once I heard we were getting a “Venom” movie, I thought all hope was lost. Granted, this was at a time when I realized comic book movies were perhaps the biggest force in the industry, and it seemed like the only thing people would willingly go see. I wasn’t sure how people such as myself or other audience members would go into “Venom” and enjoy him as a character because it’s hard to relate to a villain. Plus, as a viewer, I traditionally aspire to be the hero. Why should I aspire to be a monster who eats people? And the last nail in the coffin… a PG-13. This made every action scene feel lifeless, it made the editing feel odd at times, and it honestly just showed that perhaps Sony or somebody else behind this movie wanted a quick, disposable money grab. However, oddly enough, as time passed, I did become curious about the “Joker” movie.

There was not enough evidence that “Joker” was going to be a masterpiece or even a halfway decent movie once I first heard about it. But it was hard to deny that I was not at least intrigued. The various details that stacked up in 2018 got me interested. Then the trailers dropped this year, and whoever edited them, you deserve a cookie! All the while, the movie played at events including TIFF and Venice Film Festival where it received the top prize, the Golden Lion. Keep in mind, everybody was saying that “Avengers: Endgame” was going to be the biggest and best movie of the year, but when it comes to chances at awards, “Joker” may have an answer. “Joker” may be tapping on the shoulder of “Endgame” saying “On your left.”

So… It’s time for answers! Is “Joker” worth the hype? Is it worth jumping up and down over? Is it worth every single penny? Did it deserve all the praise it received during snobby film festivals? In a word, yes. This is pretty much EXACTLY what I would want out of a movie like this. Serious, dark, sort of slow, and honestly, kind of poignant. Because I cannot even believe I’m saying this, I sort of felt for the Joker character. Granted, he spends a lot of the movie making stupid decisions and mistakes, and the Joker is a guy you don’t want to mess around with, but even his moments that would make a person in this particular movie turn against him may as well be all part of his charm. In fact, as I watched “Joker,” I thought to myself that the movie was not trying to approve of his actions, it was just showing a realistic view of what could happen if this guy existed in our society. And by our society, I mean how it was years ago. You know those controversies that happen to be surrounding this movie? Honestly, they’re pointless. Granted, there is an argument to be made that every single movie ever made contains the slightest of bias. But “Joker” is not a movie that is trying to hammer a message down your head. It’s trying to say, “Hey! Here’s this character, here’s his journey, it’s pretty twisted, we just want you to believe it.”

I should also not go without mentioning that Joaquin Phoenix acts his ass off in this movie! I’m honestly having trouble right now on whether I should declare him the best Joker or if I should stick to my opinion towards Heath Ledger being the best of them all. I know it’s only October, so there is an argument to be made that maybe Phoenix won’t get an Oscar for this movie, but he BETTER get nominated, or there will be riots!

OK… Not literally! Movies don’t promote violence! It’s just the truth!

Anyway, Phoenix manages to handle a role where he has to be the biggest laughing maniac possible. At the same time he has to be creepy, while also occasionally being sweet. There are a lot of, get this, JOKER cards that Phoenix himself has to flip over to showcase the core elements of his character.

I also really liked Robert De Niro’s character. He plays a late night host, and as I watched this movie and saw Arthur Fleck watching the show at home with his mother, I kind of felt immersed into the world, probably realizing that this was a pure form of escapism for most people in society. The two are talking and I remember it being mentioned by the mother that this late night host, AKA Murray Franklin, is relatable to them. Now this movie took place in 1981, so I got a good sense that this guy was a fine alternative to Johnny Carson. Not to mention, he’s charming and has a good presence, which is something all talk show hosts should possess.

The acting overall in this movie is pretty much off the charts, I think the only other movie where I have seen a group of cast members put so much effort into their roles this year might be “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Although “Us” comes relatively close as well. But other standouts of excellence in “Joker” come from the technical side of the spectrum.

I mean, my gosh! Let me just start off by saying, I had the special privilege of watching “Joker” on a 70mm print. Thanks to Warner Brothers and everyone else involved with this film for making such a thing happen! The color grading on this film is some of best I have seen this year. It’s pale, it’s depressing, and it’s almost off-putting in the best possible way. The cinematography is great too. This movie is directed by Todd Phillips and if you watch some of his movies like “The Hangover,” you’d notice they are shot by Lawrence Sher, and much like that film for example I have seen from the two of them together, the pair combine to deliver some delicious hot and spicy buffalo wing level shots! There’s a scene where Arthur is walking down an enormous staircase and between his motions of dancing on the steps and jumping in puddles, the camera manages to catch each one and make me want to have them all as a desktop photo. The editing’s pretty stellar in that scene too, it’s eye candy. I’m almost shocked that I’m saying that about a scene in a comic book movie that doesn’t have much glossy CGI.

And speaking of depression, this entire movie has nothing but people who are almost too upset to acknowledge existing, and almost nobody manages to care about another living soul. There’s a scene where Arthur is playing peek a boo on a bus with a kid, and the kid’s mother is just plain annoyed. The film also manages to go into certain problems regarding people with mental illnesses, and it features a deep struggle that Fleck himself has to face. There is a scene where he comes to the realization that he’s meeting with his therapist for the last time due to funding cuts. Even though I knew who the Joker character was, I still couldn’t help but sympathize with Fleck at times. It feels weird to say that, but I have been taught at a young age that is not nice to lie.

If you ask me, I think the absolute best part about “Joker” is the fact that it has the rare qualities that you wouldn’t manage to find in many other comic book movies. This film was given an R rating from the Motion Pictures Association of America, and once I heard that was going into effect, I felt like climbing a tree, pounding my chest, finding a banana, and tearing it open! Going gorilla style! It was one of the most glorious moments of my life! Having seen this movie, let me just give a message to all the parents and guardians who are planning on seeing this “comic book movie” with their kids.

Don’t. Just don’t.

I mean, you can… Maybe they are mature enough to comprehend everything that is going on in a movie like this, but this is NOT a film for kids in the slightest. It deals with real world issues, it’s bloody, kind of disturbing, and without going into much detail, I’d say there’d be a moment or two where I would not blame a kid if they cried out of pure fear.

Let’s look at it this way. Let’s take one of the most recent comic book movies that also had a couple heavy moments, “Avengers: Infinity War.” Without going into detail about the ending, if you have a kid who cried at the end of “Infinity War,” I think there’s a good chance that same kid, depending on their transition of age, will weep for sweet release of death during “Joker.”

Having said that, I realize simply having dark moments in a movie doesn’t automatically make it good, but these dark moments were an absolute highlight and a reason for me to keep my eyes glued to the screen.

In the end, “Joker” is one of the most unique comic book movies I have ever seen. I honestly would love more movies like this in its particular genre. I am a bit curious to see “Taxi Driver” now that I have seen “Joker,” but I’m just hoping it doesn’t ruin “Joker” for me in any way. Everything about this movie was done to A+ levels. The acting, the camerawork, the music choices, the screenplay. It’s all worthy of two thumbs up. If I had any issues with the movie, I’d say there’s a couple moments, as I put on my brain, that I could see coming a mile away. Also, there’s a moment or two where my head drifted off into space, signifying a slight issue with pacing. Granted, it’s not a big deal, but nevertheless. “Joker” is a movie that I personally think may be one of the most individualistic in its genre. I have almost seen nothing like it. Just for that alone, it gets a ton of praise from me. I’m going to give “Joker” an 8/10. One more thing. After walking out of this movie, I did have a question on my mind: How much replay value is this going to have down the line? It’s a really good movie, but is it going to get a ton of replays in the DVD player? I can see reasons for some people declaring “Joker” to be a movie that is good for a single watch, but because of how heavy it is, maybe a second watch would be impossible. Even so, I enjoyed “Joker.” I personally want to see it again because of the enjoyment factor. Hopefully when it comes out on Blu-ray, I can catch it another time.

Thanks for reading this review! Next week I am going to an advance screening of the new film “Zombieland: Double Tap.” I saw the first “Zombieland” a few years ago for the first time. I’m personally intrigued as to how they are going to handle this sequel. I don’t know if it will be as good as the original, but Bill Murray’s back, so anything’s possible! If you want to see this review or other great content, consider following Scene Before either with an email, or if you want the ability to comment or like, use a WordPress account! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Joker?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite R rated comic book movie? For me, the answer is simple, “V For Vendetta.” It also might be Natalie Portman’s best movie for all I know! Leave your opinions, or if you want to be a moron, completely objective and factual statements down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Black and Blue (2019): The Adventure of the Body Cam

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“Black and Blue” is directed by Deon Taylor (Meet the Blacks, Supremacy) and stars Naomie Harris (Skyfall, Moonlight), Tyrese Gibson (Transformers, 2 Fast 2 Furious), Mike Colter (The Good Wife, Luke Cage), Frank Grillo (The Purge: Anarchy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Reid Scott (My Boys, Veep), and Beau Knapp (Death Wish, The Nice Guys). This film involves a rookie cop working for the police department in New Orleans. She is on a mission where she is forced to do nothing, only to lead to a moment where some real chaos goes down. This “chaos” by the way, is the killing of a drug dealer, who died as a result of the actions executed by cops. Naomie Harris’ character, Alicia West, sees this and now she is on the run, defending her life.

The film experience I had for “Black and Blue” in particular was very interesting, because unlike a good portion of the films I watch when they first come out, I have not witnessed a single piece of marketing for this one. I will admit, I knew a bit about the plot going into it, but as I was reserving my spot in the theater, this was literally the earliest I have known about this movie.

I just want to remind everyone that this movie is not even out until the final weekend of October. I saw this at an early screening where there seemed to be a good amount of people who scored advance passes. So I’m gonna be pretty vague here with this review. When I saw this movie, I was with a pretty active audience. They would gasp, talk to the screen, and burst out into applause at times as if this were an “Avengers” movie. As for me, I was pretty quiet. There were a few moments where I would react to things, but those reactions were nowhere near as obnoxious or as likely to shake the entire room. Then again, I don’t usually watch movies about cops, maybe it’s because the director, writer, and producers weren’t trying to target me specifically. I don’t know. The point is, this movie is not as good as the rowdy crowd at my theater would have made it seem. In a way, this almost reminded me of “Captain Marvel,” which I had the privilege of seeing this year at Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre. It’s a movie that when audiences applauded or reacted to something, I honestly either remained in silence or questioned why this was happening in the first place. There were even a select couple of moments where I had my hands on my face. I did the same thing I when I saw “Venom” last year. If you saw that review, you could tell that this isn’t pretty. But staying on the topic of “Captain Marvel…”

Remember when Captain Marvel takes down Yon-Rong with a laser beam in one hit after he’s maniacally rambling? OK, this sort of thing worked in “Raiders of the Lost Ark!” Here it’s just cheap!

Now I am not going to deny that there are a fair share of “edge of your seat” moments that the movie has to offer, but the fact is that when it comes to characters, not everyone stands out. As I left the film, there are a fair share of characters who I felt their motivations or feelings could have been expressed better and overall the film convoluted itself based on how many characters it tries to handle at a time.

In fact, I’m not gonna get into the ending, but let’s just say that it goes on for a time that is longer than I would have anticipated, and it kind of overstays its welcome. There are a couple of things that I would trim out, clean up, some edits that I might end up fixing and speaking of editing, there are a couple moments in this film, albeit in the category of nitpicky, but it does show a select amount of shots where the cinematography almost looks like something out of a student film. There are a couple of shots I think could have been adjusted, but they have little to no real effect on the movie as a whole. I will admit, I am surprised to dive a little deep into the cinematography of this movie, but speaking of surprises…

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Let’s talk about Tyrese Gibson. Looking back, I didn’t think about this that much, but Tyrese Gibson does a really good job in this movie. Gibson plays a character by the name of Milo “Mouse” Jackson, who operates a convenience store. Throughout the film, we come to realize that he is the only one who can help Alicia in her current situation. I might need to watch the movie again to know for sure, but compared to some other movies I have seen him in, he seems a lot more calm and collected here. I almost couldn’t even tell Tyrese played the character he was supposed to portray, which may be one of the best compliments I can give to an actor.

As for the main character, I was rooting for her. There was a point, especially during the beginning, where she kind of came off as the only interesting character in the entire movie. Granted, I would rather watch a movie where I care significantly more about the main characters as supposed to supporting characters, but it does not change the fact that when it comes to supporting characters, they’re either bland or unmemorable. I didn’t flat out hate any of them, but the main characters made me feel like I drank 10 cups of coffee whereas the supporting characters made me feel like someone dropped an entire container of Melatonin pills into my body like Tic-Tacs.

When it comes to other things about the movie worth pointing out, part of why I don’t particularly think this movie is going to be all that memorable as time goes on is because of the pacing. The movie tends to maintain a fast pace throughout and sticks with it. But at times, it goes a little haywire. It feels like the movie eventually goes on a sugar rush and gets a little too bombastic with some absurd happenings. There are a couple of moments where I questioned the logic of the movie, and again I’ll bring up the obnoxious crowd I was with. Take out the lively atmosphere, this would probably be a slightly lackluster movie experience.

To quote YouTube user Jacksfilms…

“Wait why are we clapping? Stop clapping!”

In the end, “Black and Blue” was not even close to insufferable. But it also wasn’t even close to a masterpiece. It’s just… Something. …That exists. The experience was undeniably wild, which may be why I wasn’t exactly bored during the movie. I was silent, and at times, annoyed by certain people who happened to be talking, but it was still like a big movie theater party. I’m wondering how this film will do when it releases at the end of October. It’ll definitely get some people in the theater, but so far, most of the reviews I have seen, specifically from outlets like Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, have not been great. Unfortunately, this review belongs in that category. Based on how much I think I’ll forget this movie compared some other films that came out this year, I’m going to give “Black and Blue” a 5/10. Thanks for reading this review! Next week is the release of “Joker,” which could possibly be THE BEST comic book movie of the year. I’m planning on seeing it opening weekend, I’m probably not gonna go opening Thursday night, because I might make it a priority to see this film with my dad, because I think he may enjoy it. I’ll have to see if he’s busy, but nevertheless, I am here, I am ready, I am game for “Joker.” Bring it on! If you want to see that review and other great content, be sure follow Scene Before! Also, if you are on Facebook, check out my Facebook page, it helps me out a ton! I want to know, did you see “Black and Blue?” What did you think about it? I’m willing to bet at the time of this review, a majority of you didn’t, so let me ask another question. What is your favorite movie featuring Tyrese Gibson? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Hateful Eight (2015): More Like the Mediocre Eight

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Just a reminder that we are days away from the opening of Quentin Tarantino’s newest film, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and I just want to let everyone know that I WILL be going to see it this Thursday in 35mm! I will also be reviewing the film as soon as it releases and by that I mean, hopefully by the end of the Sunday which it comes out. I might not have it up right away because I’m going to see the film on Thursday at 7:30, I’ll be out of the theater 2 to 3 hours later, meaning I won’t be home until sometime before or after 11PM. Then on Friday I’m going to New Haven, CT, which is 2 to 3 hours away from my house. I’ve got a busy weekend ahead, but it’ll likely be fun, so I’m excited! But, the movie is not out yet, so I am going to be reviewing my third and final entry to my Quentin Tarantino review series, specifically “The Hateful Eight.” This is the most recent product Tarantino directed and it even features his voice through narration. Without further ado, let’s begin!

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“The Hateful Eight” is directed by Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs) and stars Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers, Kingsman: The Secret Service), Kurt Russell (The Thing, Furious 7), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Revenge, The Spectacular Now), Walton Goggins (Django Unchained, Justified), Demian Bichir (Machete Kills, The Bridge), Tim Roth (United Passions, The Incredible Hulk), Michael Madsen (Species, Kill Bill Vol. 1) and Bruce Dern (Nebraska, The ‘Burbs). This film takes place in 1877 as several characters interact, travel, and question each other during a snowstorm in Red Rock, Wyoming.

This is the latest film from Quentin Tarantino, and it was also one of those films that I really wanted to see in the theater. Unfortunately, I missed out. One of the reasons I wanted to go see the film in a cinema was due to the technology used for filming and presentation. This film was entirely shot with 70mm cameras, and much like director Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino is very particular to how his films look. After all, both directors have this in common. They either shoot on film, or they choose death. I have noticed that Tarantino has shot all of his past projects on 35mm, which is something he is also doing for his upcoming film for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” But this is Tarantino’s first attempt at shooting a full-length 70mm movie. And with that in mind, he’s trying to hark back to an era of old Hollywood, when glorious films like “Lawrence of Arabia” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” were shot in the same format. He even did a special engagement with select theaters where they would show the movie in 70mm (or sometimes digital), and present it in a roadshow format. This even had an intermission, which many of the other theaters’ versions of the film did not include. So if you went to see this in digital at your local Regal Cinemas, chances are you watched from start to finish.

In fact, another thing that I noticed was completely different compared to many other films is the aspect ratio. This film is presented in 2.76:1. Most modern films are usually not as wide. In fact, of any film I have seen to this day, this is without a doubt the widest. This is definitely a unique modern film in its own right simply because of how it looks, how it presents itself.

Sadly though, while this movie manages to be extremely impressive in visuals, it manages to simultaneously suffer as a story. Granted, it’s not bottom of the barrel. In fact, the day I see a bottom of the barrel story from Tarantino is the day I think the entire art of filmmaking is dead. There are some elements of “The Hateful Eight’s” script that I can appreciate. It’s mysterious, occasionally suspenseful, and it has this one gag involving a door that I happened to appreciate from a comedic standpoint. I thought it was up there with the funniest parts of the movie.

But if you had to ask me what my biggest problem with “The Hateful Eight” is, it’s the characters, because I can barely remember any of them at this point. I should note, I watched this movie last Thursday. I guess a couple of the characters have interesting conversations, including one about a particular character’s interactions with US President Abraham Lincoln. Although when it comes to overall personality, none in particular stand out. The characters do and say cool things, but it doesn’t add up to making the characters lovable. Just me.

Although I did some research before this movie came out. If you don’t know, Tarantino’s film prior to this was “Django Unchained.” When this project first got into gear, Tarantino’s original vision was to make this a sequel to “Django Unchained.” And if you watch this film it is easy to tell the elements for a unrealized sequel are there. This is in the western genre, around the same time period, and a couple actors including Samuel L. Jackson and Walton Goggins happen to appear in both movies. Did I mention both films came out on Christmas Day? While I do appreciate Tarantino for sticking to original material as opposed to expanding upon something that already exists, the mediocre quality of this movie almost makes me curious to know what would happen if this either took place in the same universe as “Django Unchained” or if Tarantino just stuck to writing a sequel to his previous film as opposed to having to spend lots of time developing something new.

Speaking of Tarantino, I’m willing to bet some of you who watched the movie may have noticed the narration during the film. For those of you who have yet to see “The Hateful Eight,” I won’t share the narration because it does dive into something important that can be seen during the film. But before checking this movie out, I was reminded by my dad of the film’s quirky narration, which quite honestly, was not that quirky if you ask me. Plus, to be honest, while it can be attention grabbing when it happens, it feels very out of left field. Why? While this is a “semi-spoiler” (maybe), there is no narration in the first half of the movie. It just happens at this random point where Tarantino probably was writing the script, didn’t find a character that was a good match for him that he could personally portray. Then he thought, “Hey! I can be the narrator! Perfect!” It’s a weird complaint and I almost question myself for making it, but I can’t help myself. It just stands out! Then again, I kind of made a similar compliant, while not exactly the same, for 2018’s “The Grinch,” so I guess it works here!

If you ask me, Tarantino has this excellent ability to match up a stellar script with spectacular locations or setpieces, or gorgeous cinematography. This movie rules in the technical department, I almost forgot to mention how much I enjoyed listening to Ennio Morricone’s score at times, but it fails when it comes to keeping me on the edge of my seat. Maybe it’s one of those movies that I have to pay full attention to with no distractions (in fact, I had to pause the movie to complete a task that took 30 minutes). But nevertheless, compared to Tarantino’s other films, this one just sticks out like a sore thumb because the characterization just feels weak in certain places. The only characters I feel like I’ll end up remembering are Marquis Warren, John Ruth, and Domergue. If I had to compare the behind the scenes efforts of this movie from Tarantino during this film’s production to another well known director, it would probably be Zack Snyder, because he’s very much a director who relies on style. This is evident in a movie like “Sucker Punch,” which at this point, I don’t particularly recall appreciating for the story or characters despite one or two kick-ass scenes. After all, one thing that would probably save the movie from being lower than the score I gave it when I first saw it is the amazing long take action scene that occurs on a train. There are redeeming qualities about “The Hateful Eight,” but they’re not enough to satisfy me.

In the end, after my watch of “The Hateful Eight,” I was slightly disappointed. Granted, I knew going in, according to others, this is not Tarantino’s best work, but even when you consider his resume and the fact that his name is attached to this, I might as well not be wrong to expect nothing but excellence from “The Hateful Eight.” To me, this film kind of reminds me of “Avatar.” It’s a film that looks very nice on the big screen, and is definitely built for a cinematic environment, but the story is not the strong point of the movie. I have not lost my faith in Tarantino however, partially because the trailers made his next film, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” look really good. Plus, it’s already getting good reviews, but “The Hateful Eight” still left me with a less than satisfying taste in my mouth. Sure, it hits a number of the cool Tarantino checkpoints. Gritty violence, pretty locations, attention-grabbing dialogue (despite weak characters), and giving Samuel L. Jackson an interesting hairstyle. But if someone were to come up to me and ask me to recommend a Tarantino film, “The Hateful Eight” would not be my first pick. I’m going to give “The Hateful Eight,” as much as it kind of feels criminal to say this, a 6/10. And before I go off on other ramblings, I would like to point out Samuel L. Jackson’s performance. It’s good. But, there’s a scene where I personally think he overacts to the point of cringe. Just saying. Thanks for reading this review! Just a reminder that tonight I am going to be seeing the new film “Yesterday,” directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours). I expect to have my review up by Thursday because on that day, I’m going to see “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” opening night, and I feel like I should have just about nothing else blog-related that I should focus on during the weekend. In addition to all this, I have to give a report and my thoughts on some big news for Marvel, “The Avengers,” and the movie industry as a whole. If you follow movies, chances are you may know what I’m talking about. Be sure to follow Scene Before if you have an email or WordPress account, and once you click the follow button, be sure to stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Hateful Eight?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a movie from a director that you really love that disappointed you in some way? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Pulp Fiction (1994): That Is a Tasty Movie

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! In just a matter of weeks, Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film, “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood” is being released in theaters, with select engagements in 35mm. But before that comes out, I wanted to look back at three previous films this cinematic powerhouse has helmed over the years. And to kick this series off, we are going to tackle one of Tarantino’s most popular and highly revered titles, “Pulp Fiction.” This flick first released in the mid 1990s and is one of his earliest attempts at creating a film. Much like his previous efforts such as “My Best Friend’s Birthday” and “Reservoir Dogs,” Tarantino also had personal credits for “Pulp Fiction” as both a writer and an actor. Without further ado, let’s start the–

*GUNSHOT*

*in Samuel L. Jackson’s voice* Motherf*–

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“Pulp Fiction” is directed by Quentin Tarantino and stars John Travolta (Grease, Welcome Back, Kotter), Uma Thurman (Batman & Robin, Gattaca), Samuel L. Jackson (Jurassic Park, The Avengers), Harvey Keitel (Taxi Driver, Thelma & Louise), Tim Roth (The Hit, The Cook), Amanda Plummer (The Fisher King, Needful Things), Maria de Medeiros (Midsummer Madness, April Captains), Ving Rhames (Mission: Impossible, Bringing Out the Dead), Eric Stoltz (Mask, St. Elsewhere), Rosanna Arquette (Desperately Seeking Susan, Nowhere To Run), Christopher Walken (A View to a Kill, Batman Returns), and Bruce Willis (Moonlighting, Die Hard). This film is partially inspired by unused scenes from the 1993 flick “True Romance,” also written by Quentin Tarantino. Without going into much detail, because to be completely honest, it’s hard to talk about the plot to a certain extent without spoiling, the film involves a bunch of different people who all have one thing in common: Deadly situations at hand. You have a couple of hitmen played by Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta, there’s a couple who wants to rob a restaurant, etc.

I went into “Pulp Fiction” with extreme expectations. After all, many would call this movie a masterpiece. Plus, prior to seeing the whole film on Blu-ray, my dad showed me clips on YouTube 5 years ago. From what I saw, I was rather impressed. In fact, as of publishing this review, this is the only Tarantino film I have watched from start to finish. I have seen part of one of the “Kill Bill” films when it was on Starz, but that’s not really saying much, isn’t it? I also saw the “Why do I have to be Mr. Pink?” clip from “Reservoir Dogs” five years ago.

And some may even argue that I saw a short film from Quentin Tarantino. I say so because “Family Guy” once did an episode presented in the style of three directors, with the first director being Tarantino. While he was never involved with the episode, the parody is there.

How was the film? Is it the masterpiece that just about every cinephile is making it out to be? Abso-f*ckinglutely. This is screenwriting at its finest! This is set design at its finest! This is actors’ chemistry at its finest!

In fact, I owe a serious apology to what I have said about John Travolta, because I think he has made some unwise choices throughout the century. “Gotti” was his most recent example. And while this was done last century, I now have an increased amount of respect that I can give to him as an actor. Also, Samuel L. Jackson has an incredible resume based on how much work he has been able to get over the years. Out of the millions of projects he has tackled in his career, this might as well be the one with his best performance yet. And part of that has to do with his traditional mannerisms where he yells and swears in a over the top fashion, but also due to what I’ll call “perfect dialogue.”

I cannot cite the screenplay of “Pulp Fiction” from start to finish, although based on how much I enjoyed this film, a mission like that would probably be on my bucket list. There are a lot of moments, either through spoken dialogue or visuals that feel like they would randomly play out in an everyday conversation, or at least I that’s the way I would desire these moments of dialogue to play out. Because there are no points in my life that I would discuss matters involving foot massages with others, but this movie makes me want to go to my local coffee shop or restaurant with someone I know just to talk about the most random topics. It doesn’t have to be foot massages. It could probably be about toenail clippings, maybe which brand of light bulb is the most reliable, which Target store is the best for shopping? There are a ton of moments where the movie is technically sticking to the main story, but it occasionally has diversions when it comes to spoken dialogue. And none of these diversions feel forced because each one is as entertaining as the next. Aside from the foot massage scene, we get a hypnotizing moment where one character wants to order a $5 milkshake, which plays out very well based on the chemistry between the two main characters in the scene, not to mention perhaps the sense of wanting to be a part of this world. Granted, that is a bit of an inaccurate statement, because I don’t want to get shot. I don’t want to get an overdose. I don’t want to be in much danger.

BUT LOOK AT THIS JAW-DROPPING SET!

Seriously, if Tarantino imagined this, he is automatically my favorite filmmaker of all time. This is a classy, American restaurant with a lively interior, but with some unique features, one of my favorites being the car table on the right! At the start of the scene, we see John Travolta and Uma Thurman sitting across from each other chatting and eating, and a part of me just felt immersed into this other-worldly atmosphere. It was almost like watching a “Star Wars” movie if it took place on Earth! It almost reminds me of this movie theater chain that’s primarily known in New Hampshire, I’ve gone several times, but I have not been in years. If you are in northern Massachusetts, or southern New Hampshire, or if you ever heard of Chunky’s, you’d know what I’m talking about. They have this concept that combines a movie theater with a restaurant, where you can sit in car chairs at long tables. I imagine this could exist in other parts of the world, but it is a concept that is close to home for me. They have some traditional American restaurant food like… burgers. OK… this movie made me hungry.

Between this Thurman/Travolta segment and the scene in the apartment from the start of the film, “Pulp Fiction” really makes me want to go out and grab a burger. Coincidentally, I live near Boston, which has a quick bite chain called “Tasty Burger,” whose name was partially inspired by Samuel L. Jackson’s tasting of the Big Kahuna burger from this movie.

“Mmm-mmmm. That is a tasty burger.” -Jules

Another highlight from Thurvolta, as I’ll call them in this review, is something I won’t dive too deep into, but there is a scene where Uma Thurman has an overdose. And let me just say, as those around her are trying to revive her, the execution of this process is nothing short of engaging and kinda brilliant. Again, I didn’t think this was going to happen based on the type of movie this is, I kinda felt like I was there. Luckily, I was not the one with the overdose, but a third party observer.

Last but not least, and WITHOUT SPOILERS of course, because this is one of those films you have to see before you die, let’s talk about the ending. Granted, over my years of experience of going to the cinema and watching films, I saw the direction this film was tending to go towards, but it does not mean that it is not awesome. It’s one of those endings that I feel like I will remember in my last moments. Between the atmosphere, the dialogue, and the mannerisms perhaps provided through Tarantino’s direction, it was like eating an entire birthday cake and realizing you lost a ton of weight the following morning. Again, there is not much I can say about it, because a lot of people who are young will probably read this, maybe they have yet to experience the film for one reason or another. This is a film that you have to watch before you die! TAKE MY WORD FOR IT!

In the end, what else can I say about “Pulp Fiction?” It’s creative, hypnotizing, and gritty to the freaking core. I have only seen one Tarantino film from start to finish, so I cannot really call him my favorite director. But depending on how I feel about the next two films I do in this series or “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” I would not be surprised if I ultimately rank the man in my top 5 directors, or screenwriters, of all time. The man isn’t too bad at acting either. I don’t know when I am going to watch “Pulp Fiction” again, but when I do, I am gonna be grinning like an idiot. Why? This thing is freaking phenomenal. Well done to everyone involved (maybe except Harvey Weinstein)! I’m going to give “Pulp Fiction” a 10/10!

Thanks for reading this review! For those who want to know, my next Tarantino review is going to be for the 2012 film “Django Unchained,” I will be posting my thoughts on that next Monday, July 15th, which will eventually be followed by one more Tarantino review on July 22nd, stay tuned for both of those. As for new releases, I am trying to go see “Spider-Man: Far From Home” as soon as possible, maybe I’ll go Tuesday, I dunno. But on Wednesday I will be going to see the movie “Stuber” as part of an advance screening. I was gonna go see this a couple weeks ago for a Regal Crown Club screening, but due to a mish-mash of reasons, I ended up bowing out. I am however going to do my best to make this one, because I am curious to see how this film turns out. Especially when you consider that this is one of the first Fox films released under their new Disney overlords. Be sure to stay tuned for that review, along with more great content! Also, be sure to follow Scene Before through WordPress or an email! Or, if you are on social media, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Pulp Fiction?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your personal favorite Samuel L. Jackson performance? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go grab a burger.

Cold Pursuit (2019): A Slow Brrrrr

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“Cold Pursuit” is directed by Hans Petter Moland (In Order of Disappearance, Aberdeen) and stars Liam Neeson (Taken, Non-Stop), Tom Bateman (Murder on the Orient Express, Snatched), Tom Jackson (The Diviners, Star Trek: The Next Generation), Emmy Rossum (Shameless, The Phantom of the Opera), Domenick Lombardozzi (Breakout Kings, The Wire), Julia Jones (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Westworld), John Doman (Borgia, ER), and Laura Dern (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Jurassic Park). This film is about a guy named Nels Coxman as he tries to seek revenge against people who ended up drugging his son.

I mentioned at the top that “Cold Pursuit” is directed by the same guy who directed “In Order of Disappearance.” I have not seen “In Order of Disappearance,” but around the time I watched this film, I found this information out. And knowing things about this film, I managed to find out that “Cold Pursuit” is actually a remake of “In Order of Disappearance,” which was made primarily for a Norwegian audience. “Cold Pursuit,” as far as I can tell, was most certainly intended for an American audience. In fact, without giving much away, there’s a cool thing that happens when the movie reaches the end credits, and if you haven’t seen “In Order of Disappearance,” you’ll see further proof of this being a redo of that film. Keep in mind, this is coming from a guy who also has not seen “In Order of Disappearance.”

I did some Internet searching on the original film and found out that it currently has over a 7 on IMDb, which is pretty decent for a film. Most of the user scores are above average range, with many of them being 7/10. For “Cold Pursuit,” it’s currently higher than a 6. Most of the user scores are also 6, slightly edging out over the 7 range. While a 6 is still a win for a movie on some days, there are times when it could equal nothing but trouble. And I can see why this movie is worse than its original counterpart, because while there are some cool quirky elements throughout the film, the movie is just slow at times.

When I saw the opening scene for “Cold Pursuit,” where snow is being shoved around by a bulldozer, it gave me a sense that s*it was about to get real. Unfortunately, everything that went down in “Cold Pursuit” (except for one thing), was not enough to fulfill my appetite. What’s the one thing that did fulfill my appetite however? Well, I hate to be cruel, but the deaths were infinitely creative. And I am not referring to how people died, but every time someone would die, something would come up and it does that for the whole movie. I thought it was a neat gimmick at times. Granted, and I am not sure if this dives into spoiler territory, but I’ll say it anyway, the deaths could SOMETIMES be slightly improved if you actually get a better glimpse at people dying. Just me. I’m not asking for a complete bloodbath, but this movie is rated R. Let us see some more stuff on screen sometimes.

Speaking of stuff we see on screen, let’s talk about Liam Neeson. I mean, this movie is basically Liam Neeson doing Liam Neeson things. His mannerisms are present and he definitely takes no names whatsoever. And while for me, this may be a hindrance regarding some actors like Melissa McCarthy, Liam Neeson never really gets tiring. One thing that may make him interesting is that the dude’s over sixty. He’s getting to that point where he is the superior version of the crazy old dude telling kids to scram out of his yard. Plus, his Irish accent is freaking killer. I mean, it’s similar to when Tom Cruise plays typical Tom Cruise. It usually avoids getting old, and both are crazy men who like to take baddies down. This is not to say that “Cold Pursuit” is Liam Neeson’s all time best work, I personally think “The LEGO Movie” might be, but still.

I also kind of like the bad guy in this movie. His name is Trevor “Viking” Calcote, he’s played by Tom Bateman, and while he definitely has some cliches of someone representing the idea of greed, I dug some of the execution of his character. This is especially true when you see how he treats his son. Because let’s face it, without going into too much detail about the movie, the way he treats his son is the same way White Castle would treat big hamburgers. They would much prefer not talking about them, or ever bringing them up in a conversation, similar to how when the son and “Viking’ talk to each other, there’s an intentional disconnect in chemistry.

When it comes to chemistry and execution of a few of the movie’s characters, those are the definite highlights of “Cold Pursuit,” that is, aside from the deaths. Unfortunately, it does not have many other highlights. I originally watched this movie on Friday, so I had time to gather some of my thoughts together before making a completed review. And I’m kind of glad I took that time. When it comes to the action in “Cold Pursuit,” it feels like the atmosphere of the movie itself. It’s all kinda dull, and it doesn’t really feel like there’s much to it. Unfortunately, much like this movie, it did not send chills down my spine.

And it’s almost like this movie didn’t always know what it wanted to be, because one of the taglines for this film is “Revenge is best served cold.” Doesn’t that sound like something out of a cheesy 1980’s action film starring Patrick Swayze and Arnold Schwarzenegger that takes place in Alaska or something? This movie could have been cheesy fun, but it wasn’t, it was serious garbage.

But I will give credit to one more thing about this movie before finishing this review off, and that happens to be the location choices. Everything looks beautiful on camera, especially when it is all surrounded by snow, which occasionally gives the movie the theme of “real s*it,” which I mean in a way describing various situations, but not the movie itself. Although then again, maybe it does describe the movie itself, because the movie is in fact, real s*it.

In the end, if you’re gonna watch “Cold Pursuit,” I recommend putting on some gloves, a hat, a jacket, whatever you can get to bundle up for the lackluster experience that this movie truly is. Liam Neeson is alright, the actors for the most part, while well cast, gave me a rather mixed collective reception. And I don’t feel like I’ll end up remembering this movie all that well. In fact, it was almost a waste of time. If it were not for the coolish death moments, all hope would be lost. This movie would be… Don’t say it… DON’T YOU DARE F*CKING SAY IT!…

…Ah, screw it.

LIFELESS! OK, lifeless!

I’m going to give “Cold Pursuit” a 3/10. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that pretty soon I am going to be doing an update on my Blu-ray collection, so please be on the lookout for that! I also recently bought the 4K for this year’s “The Kid Who Would Be King,” which I missed in the theater, however now that I own it, I have the chance to watch it and review it for the first time. Once I get around to watching it, and I’m not sure when this will happen, I will have a review for it. Please stay tuned! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Cold Pursuit?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a movie that you think should have been more cheesy? Weird question, but I’m going with it. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!