Greenland (2020): A Perfect Distraction From a Virus-Infused Reality: The End of the World

“Greenland” is directed by Ric Roman Waugh (Snitch, Angel Has Fallen) and stars Gerard Butler (300, How to Train Your Dragon), Morena Baccarin (Deadpool, Firefly), Roger Dale Floyd (Stargirl, Doctor Sleep), Scott Glenn (Daredevil, The Leftovers), David Denman (The Office, Parenthood), and Hope Davis (Captain America: Civil War, For the People). The film centers around a family who make up a fraction of the many observers of Clarke, a comet that enters the earth’s atmosphere, makes a rough landing, and all of a sudden we have a race against time to survive and get to safety.

I live in the state of Massachusetts, and our cinemas were allowed to reopen over the summer. Over the trips I took to the golden gates of film, one of the trailers that caught my attention, not to mention the attention of my dad, was “Greenland.” After all, we were sitting in a giant IMAX together waiting to watch “Tenet.” And on comes this constant outburst of CGI destruction and debris. The auditorium turned into a dying planet, essentially. We both agreed, this would be AWESOME in the theater. So I figured I would keep this film in mind for the day it finally arrives.

Well, it didn’t.

At the last minute, STX decided to release the film on VOD in the United States, where it is available right now for a $19.99 rental fee. I did not end up buying the film on VOD, mainly because I attended an early virtual screening of “Greenland” this past Tuesday. So I watched the film on my laptop, which was quite a downgrade from the theater, but I at the very least got to see it in the comfort of my bedroom.

As much as I would love to judge this film based on my experience of watching it in the theater, I can’t. So instead, allow me to declare that if you are watching “Greenland” on a phone, a laptop (like I did), or a tablet… What are you doing with yourself?! You’re wasting your time! Watch “Greenland” on the biggest screen you can! Get that 65″ 4K with HDR television set running! Hook up that mighty projector! Rent out a private screen somewhere where you can hook up your Roku! Just do it! This movie deserves the biggest screen and highest quality sound system possible, because it truly is an experience. While it is not the most Shakespearean film of the year in terms of concept, “Greenland” handles its simple story effectively, all the while delivering a technical blast from start to finish. There are a couple moments in this film that looked like “Blade Runner 2049” if Michael Bay stepped in and directed it.

Although, don’t take that Shakespearean comment too seriously, because speaking of not taking things too seriously, this movie went beyond my expectations. I was expecting “Greenland” to be your typical apocalyptic, end of the world disaster film where serious s*it goes down. The visual scope of the ruin and constant downturn of everything takes the front seat while story and characterization are pushed back to the bus. Nope! This movie is better than not only it deserves to be, it’s better than what we as a society deserve after this wreck of a year. I can tell you right now, this December could be a haven for film lovers. Between this, “Soul,” “Wonder Woman 1984,” “News of the World,” and more, we could have a great end to the year for film.

I really admired the chemistry between the main family. You have John Garrity (Gerard Butler), a Scottish structural engineer. His estranged wife, Allison Garrity (Morena Baccarin), who happens to live with her kid Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd). They’re all great as their respective characters and I liked them individually not to mention when they are all together. This film just came out, so I will not dive into spoilers, but one of the main continual conflicts that comes up between this trio feels like something that would happen during a disaster like the one presented in “Greenland.” Not to mention, the way they deal with said conflict feels natural, especially since the movie reveals that they are not the only ones dealing with said conflict. There is a moment when everything starts to unfold, just when these three begin to escape to safety, that sets the tone for what’s to come and it represents the everlasting desire to survive, to be safe. What exactly happens during this moment plays out during the movie multiple times, and is used to great effect. I will not say much, once again. But this is just part of why this movie is so well written, even if it may be marketed as a mindless, popcorn disaster film. It takes time to allow us to get to know our characters. It allows us be in the moment with them. It allows us to appreciate them. So every moment they are in peril, it sort of hits me.

While this movie has a terrific trio of protagonists, they say that stories are usually as good as its villains. Now, “Greenland” does not specifically contain one main antagonist or villain that our heroes must go up against. Instead, it’s more of a race against time. It’s a race against fragments of a comet. Although there are people along the way that do present themselves as a threat. And the way these people are handled within the script is marvelous. I say so because “Greenland” mainly focuses on these three people, but everyone else has the same motive. Specifically, to survive. They will literally do anything even if it means killing someone, harming someone else, affecting a certain portion of their lives. Every villain is the hero of their own story, and “Greenland” is a great encapsulation of such a statement.

This film cost $35 million to make, and I’d say that every penny was spent wisely. This movie did a great job at feeling like a bigger budget disaster flick that pulls no punches and unleashes mass destruction, but with a great emphasis on character development. The production value of the film is stunning and each frame does not disappoint. This should not surprise me as this film comes from STX Entertainment, and they do a lot of mid budget stuff. They have done “Hardcore Henry,” an immersive film that resembles a first person shooter. That cost $2 million to make, by the way! Admittedly, it could have been better, although I give it props for being unique. They did “Bad Moms,” a comedy starring Mila Kunis which… Yeah, that also could have been better. I also won’t leave out “Peppermint” starring Jennifer Garner, which… yes… That could have, just as well… been better. I think I’ve only seen a couple films from STX that I seriously admired, but that’s not the point. The point is, these movies typically utilize middle of the road or somewhat smaller budgets but still have plenty of production value intact. “Greenland,” given its subject matter, is no exception to this rule. At times it feels like it has the budget of a “John Wick” sequel, but in reality, it doesn’t. Although to be fair, this movie is from the same producer of the “John Wick” franchise, Basil Iwanyk. I’m glad that “Greenland” is willing to focus on its story instead of relying on constant special effects that slightly sacrifice characterization.

If I had any problems with “Greenland,” I will say that the best parts of the film are during the first and third acts. This is not a diss on the second act, which has some really solid moments, but there’s a point where we as an audience are perhaps allowed to breathe, and while that may have been the intention, I was a little bored at this point in the film. Other than that, “Greenland” is a great time. I’d say give it a watch. I know $19.99 is not the best price for renting a movie, but if you do ever get the chance to watch it, do so on the biggest screen you can.

In the end, “Greenland” is a welcome surprise that deserves the best picture and audio quality possible. It’s a disaster. People run. Things fall from the sky. Civilians die. That’s what I expected, and that’s what I got. However, this film amazingly offers more substance than I anticipated. STX is admittedly not my favorite studio working today, but this may be their best film. Either this or “The Edge of Seventeen,” I need some time to think. Gerard Butler and the rest of the cast sell their roles, the film makes a disaster look pretty, and if you are tired of your current reality where a virus is constantly spiraling. Why not watch the end of the world? Sounds like fun, right? I’m going to give “Greenland” an 8/10.

“Greenland” is now available on premium VOD services. Examples include Xfinity On Demand, Google Play, AMC Theatres On Demand, and Prime Video where you can rent it for $19.99.

Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I’m going to have my review up for “Monster Hunter.” That will be available next week, that is if I have any brain cells left. Only time will tell. I also want to remind you that I bought tickets to see “Wonder Woman 1984” in the theater on December 27th. I will not be reviewing the movie right away when it comes on HBO Max, because I want to see it with my dad and sister, and I want to go in with a fresh perspective. I also want to remind you that we are quickly approaching the end of the year, and I want to publicly announce that two of the first posts you’re getting next year are my annual countdowns for the best and worst films of the year! So on the first day, you’ll be getting my top 10 BEST movies of 2020. And on the second day, you’ll be getting my top 10 WORST movies of 2020. Yes, those are coming! The year is not over yet, I still have some films to watch. So the lists are not final. But I cannot wait to share those lists with you all, I enjoy doing them. If you want to see those lists and other great content, follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Greenland?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Gerard Butler movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Becky (2020): The Most Interesting Kevin James Performance to Date

“Becky” is directed by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion, the team who also brought you the movie “Bushwick,” starring Dave Bautista. This film stars Lulu Wilson (Annabelle: Creation, The Haunting of Hill House), Joel McHale (Card Sharks, Community), and Kevin James (The King of Queens, Paul Blart: Mall Cop). This film follows its titular character, Becky, as she and her dad drive-up to a house by a lake. Her life has hit rock bottom between family matters and trying to keep herself together. Aside from that, she’s a rather typical teen girl. Suddenly, convicts break into the house, so we begin our tension-filled ride where it is a matter of life and death.

I bought this movie for one reason, and one reason only. This might shock some of you considering how I imagine this guy can sometimes be considered a punchline when it comes to modern movies. Kevin James. I grew up watching his work like “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” “The King of Queens,” “Here Comes the Boom,” “Grown Ups,” (which sucked), and so on. I even liked “Zookeeper!” How many people can say that?! Granted, I haven’t watched it in years, but it got plenty of laughs out of me through the times I have watched it. My fascination for his work has not died down in recent times, I went to his stand-up show, I follow his social media, and I checked out his YouTube channel, which has pretty cool concept behind it. Kevin James plays a sound guy on a film set, and I’ll show you an early video, where his character worked on “The Empire Strikes Back,” where one of the movie’s iconic scenes is about to go down.

I think the man is hilarious. Keep this in mind.

With that being said, I know a bit about one other lead, specifically Joel McHale. I’ve seen him in other movies, not to mention on ABC’s “Card Sharks,” which is coming back for season 2 very soon. Prior to this film, I didn’t really know much about Lulu Wilson, but I should also point out she’s mainly known for horror projects. When it comes to my knowledge about film, horror is one of my weak spots. So all in all, this was kind of my major introduction to Lulu Wilson.

Overall, “Becky” is a movie that I don’t think will be remembered for much buzz by the end of the year. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it. I watched this movie at home, and I will always defend the theatrical experience, even during a pandemic, although I would never force anyone to go during such a time if they didn’t want to. With that in mind, this movie had my attention like some of the better theatrical experiences I’ve witnessed this year. Movies like “Tenet,” “Summerland,” and “Sonic the Hedgehog.” But part of why it had my attention is because of the movie’s simplicity. It all comes down to the basic want to survive. And I think “Becky” does a really good job at highlighting the potential stakes. What does this family do? Will Becky make it? I was rooting for them, and when the movie can get me to do that, there’s a sign it is doing something right.

I will say though, when it comes to Lulu Wilson as Becky, I think there are a couple snippets of her performance that are a bit inferior to the rest of said performance. Wilson has IMDb credits going back to 2012, so it is not like she’s starting, but having not seen much of her acting career, I don’t really have much to say except, she’s “alright.” Much of the second half of the film is where she truly gets to shine. I won’t go into much detail, but when the movie intensifies, so does Wilson. For all I know, maybe this is a directorial issue. The duo behind this movie, like Wilson, has some experience helming media, but they are not as experienced as other filmmakers. I’m not saying they didn’t have a vision for this film, but what I am saying is that I feel like there are certain scenes where they managed Lulu Wilson and her character better and others where they just didn’t do as swell of a job.

Speaking of mixed thoughts, I have mixed thoughts on this film’s score. I know this film does not have a big budget, so it’s not like I was expecting something of the likes of John Williams to show up, but it’s got a very techno feel, and I’m not sure if I dug it. This film’s score comes from Nima Fakhara, who has a lot of credits. Can’t say I’ve seen many of them, but I imagine he’s done better work in the past.

But what may be the best thing in this film, and I sort of talked about this already, but it is worth bringing up once more, is the casting. This film has a good fit for Becky (Lulu Wilson), her father (Joel McHale), but I feel like the antagonistic side in particular is what stands out the most. Robert Maillet, who has appeared in a few blockbusters including “300” and “Pacific Rim,” makes an appearance here as a villainous sidekick of sorts. He. Is. Perfect. Some roles in movies will be remembered based on how an actor performs his or her lines. This role however will be remembered just because Robert Maillet… exists. That’s the best way I can describe this. Just seeing him on screen is scary enough. Just his height and physical structure makes for an outright intimidating character! He looks like Lou Ferrigno if he were always pissed off by his kids! Angry, muscular, tall, and he’s often got a murderous look on his face!

But of course, I cannot leave this review without mentioning Kevin James. This is complete subversion of my expectations. Because I’ve always seen Kevin James as the big, goofy, pasty white dude that tries to go for a laugh. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But here, there’s none of that. Kevin James isn’t funny here, and if he was, it would honestly ruin the movie for me. Because in reality, he’d be playing someone I’m used to seeing, perhaps “himself” as some would say for certain actors. Kevin James gives dialogue in a rugged manner that I am not used to seeing from him, his physical stance throughout the movie is intimidating at times, and so are some of his lines due to solid writing. I have always classified James as the guy who is charismatic, lively, and upbeat in a comedic way. This is a guy who lead a sitcom for almost a decade where he jumps on a couch in the nude eating pizza.

Just for clarification…

This guy…

Is this guy.

This is not my favorite thing with Kevin James in it, but I cannot deny that this might be his best performance as an actor mainly because of how much of a diversion he’s taken with this. Gotta say though, after this movie, if they ever do an “Avengers” parody, I would not mind seeing James play Thanos. If it’s a full blown Marvel movie, that’s a no from me unless he changes his physical structure a little, but I would not mind seeing him in a parody.

In the end, “Becky” is a good movie, a thing we could all use in 2020. Although one thing I should mention, this movie’s not for everyone. If you don’t like blood and gore, you might want to stay away. My mother came into my room as I watching this film, I told her it has Kevin James in it, as she admires the actor. I’m starting to wonder if I’d recommend this film to her. It’s a good movie, but you probably have to have the right mindset and personality to fully enjoy it. I’m going to give “Becky” a 7/10.

Thanks for reading this review! TOMORROW, I’m going to be doing something fairly unusual, TALKING ABOUT TV! Tomorrow is the 10th anniversary of what is arguably my favorite television episode of all time, “Family Guy’s” And Then There Were Fewer! I will be doing a spoiler-heavy dive into the episode, and talk about some of the reasons why I love it so much. As for movies, I’m not sure if I’ll see anything this weekend, but if I do, I will talk about it. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Becky?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite project with Kevin James in it? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Ways To See TENET in Theaters (From Digital to Film Stock to IMAX)

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! I cannot believe I’m saying this, but for real this time, “Tenet” is almost here! The signs have been lighting up! Marketing has been increasing! Theaters have been opening! Sure, there are some key areas that may miss out on “Tenet” for now, but who’s to say markets like those can’t get the movie down the road? Nevertheless, this is something I have been looking forward to since last year, and it is finally here! I feel like a kid on Christmas!

For those of you who know anything about cinemas, there are some basic facts that can easily be picked up. For example, no matter what you are watching, it is usually on a big screen with high tech surround sound, but today, we are going to talk about one of the biggest movies of the year, and while we are not that far into the 2020s yet, I’ll go as far as to say it’s probably going to end up being one of the biggest and possibly defining films of the entire decade. That film my friends, is Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” which I have discussed on Scene Before in the past. In fact, I cannot think of many other movies that I have discussed more before it came out aside from a few “Star Wars” flicks. In the trailers for “Tenet,” there’s a lot that can be picked up. For example, it is shot on IMAX film, which is often claimed to be the highest quality shooting format in existence, which also happens to be the highest quality projection format in existence. We’ll talk more about that in just a sec…

You may be thinking, is “Tenet” worth seeing in a theater? Now, don’t take my word for it, because I myself have not sat down in a theater to watch “Tenet.” And thanks to the spreading of COVID-19, almost nobody else in the world has gotten the opportunity to do such a thing either. This movie was originally supposed to release on July 17th of this year! What is that that ten eras ago or something? I think dinosaurs were still around when “Tenet” was supposed to come out! But, keeping that in mind, there are a couple things that you should know about “Tenet.”

  1. This film is directed by Christopher Nolan, who typically goes all out and advocates for the theatrical experience. If Warner Bros. were to kick “Tenet” away from its current release date, there is one thing that they WOULDN’T do, which is put the movie directly to home-based platforms. Nolan does not make his movies to be viewed at home. After all, when you spend over $200 million on this movie, putting all the biggest tech into it, why would you not put it into theaters?
  2. “Tenet” is being shot entirely through old-fashioned, heavy-duty 65mm film, some vertical and some horizontal. Again, I mentioned how this film was shot with IMAX, that is part of the 65mm process. The rest of the movie is shot on Panavision cameras which support the same format just in a vertical direction as opposed to IMAX’s unusual horizontal film stock. The film used to shoot “Tenet” is high quality and will look detailed on a big screen.
  3. Aside from high tech, “Tenet” also packs in a high concept. While much of the plot to “Tenet” currently remains secret, it involves time inversion (not to be confused with time travel), meaning that the movie will contain scenes where characters have to go backwards in time. There is also an international espionage plot moving everything along. Speaking of big, this movie was shot in seven countries.

As I’ve stated on this blog in the past, my most “anticipated” film of 2020 is “Dune,” which may be subject to change if it gets pushed back and that sort of thing, but who knows? Although, if there is currently a film that I want to see come out and succeed right now, “Tenet” would be my #1 answer. “Tenet” has a lot going for it both from tech and story. And I encourage you all to see it (that is, if you feel safe going out in August or September depending on where you live). But if you were to see it, you may overlook something… Where do you go see it? Well, here’s some options…

Digital (Resolution: Varies, typically 2K, 4K)

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If you have been to one to ten movie theater experiences in the past decade, there is a good chance that at least one of them, if not a majority, have been in digital. This is the industry standard as the equipment used is light, environmentally friendly, and maybe also because James Cameron wanted this to be the big projection standard for 2009’s “Avatar.” 3D is much more common on modern digital projection. Just for the record, “Tenet” is shot entirely in 2D, and will not be converted to 3D. To this day, all of Nolan’s films had no relation to 3D shooting or 3D projection. But this projection is basically what you’d be able to find your local multiplex like an AMC or Regal. This is not to say that mom and pop theaters don’t have it, but if you walk into a big chain theater, this is what you would find in almost every auditorium. It’s clear, bright (except when someone doesn’t know what to do when changing the filter for 3D), and like everything else in this 21st century society, computerized. Unlike film, this will allow for no scratched, tampered, or deteriorated images. If you want to go see “Tenet” and get a bang for your buck, see it in a digital theater. Keep in mind, the projection equipment may vary and the resolution may be better in some places than others. This is a very broad category, so be wise with your theater decision.

35mm (Digital equivalent: Approx. 6K)

Before digital projection of all kinds took over, the main source for projection during moviegoing happened to be 35mm. While many theaters have gotten rid of it for the digital projection you see today, many arthouse style theaters tend to have this format. In fact, I’ve seen two presentations in 35mm within the past year or so. To specify, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and “Little Women.” While I will admit one movie happened to be significantly more entertaining than the other, both looked crisp on the big screen. Given how 35mm is nearly equal to digital’s 6K, it is clearer than a vast majority of digital options on the cinema market today. Given how Nolan’s film was shot on 70mm however, some detail will be lost when projected. Which leads me to…

70mm (Digital equivalent: Approx. 12K)

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Back in the day, 65mm stock was used to shoot a number of big films that try encapsulate a large scope. After all, 70mm is such a large resolution and a feast for the eyes, which is why there’s a lot to love about it. And I can confirm that as I have seen “2001: A Space Odyssey” in the format twice. Pictures like the recently mentioned “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” and “Ben-Hur” were all shot with 65mm, making them worth projecting in 70mm to see in their full glory. Christopher Nolan is no stranger to this format. As mentioned, he’s shooting “Tenet” entirely in 65mm, but this is not his first time doing so. The same can be said for his previous movie, “Dunkirk,” which like “Tenet” was also shot using IMAX footage. As for the scenes shot in traditional 65mm, those were shot to be presented in a 2.20:1 aspect ratio, same thing can be said for “Tenet.” This format was also what exactly was used for when the film was projected. This allows for no cropping or adjustments during various scenes that were NOT shot in IMAX. Given how the IMAX scenes are taller, those are cropped. Note for all the other non-IMAX 1.43:1 formats, they feature cropped pictures as well.

IMAX Digital (Resolution: 2K)

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Sticking with IMAX, the most mind-blowing thing about the brand for me is how much it has expanded over the years to the point where its multiplex-style theaters outrank what made them famous, their 1.43:1 aspect ratio screens (more on those later). One reason for this, easy digital projection and for the most part, retrofitting. IMAX Digital is typically projected onto screens with a 1.90:1 aspect ratio (kind of like the one above). But they are also used on the older style screens depending on the theater, and in some cases, what movie is playing. The screens these are normally used on are traditionally larger than the average movie screen and are comparable to RPX or Cinemark XD. They are also in theaters usually packed in with IMAX’s traditional 6 channel surround sound system, offering around 12,000 watts of power. While the image is not exactly the highest quality you’d get in a theater, the IMAX scenes do expand in this format and get rid of the black bars that are visible in other scenes. It is a good step up compared to most digital screens, which are smaller in size. As for the sound, that can also be a step up too in a lot of cases.

IMAX Laser (Resolution: 4K)

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Here we have the biggest digital offering yet. A typical setup containing 12 channel surround sound, bright colors, and full support for screens that are anywhere between five to eight stories high. This takes what IMAX was built upon and digitalizes it. While the IMAX brand started with their spankin’ clear 70mm projection, they are modernizing their brand while also recognizing their tradition. Large format technology that literally aims high. This is true with their IMAX Laser technology, which began rolling out in 2014. IMAX Laser presents movies in vivid 4K images and supports the traditional IMAX 1.43:1 aspect ratio used to shoot several of Nolan’s films including “The Dark Knight,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Interstellar,” and “Dunkirk.” This means once “Tenet” enters theaters, the IMAX Laser experience will allow for not just crystal clear images, but for several scenes to lack the black bars no matter what screen it is on. Keep in mind, if you have an IMAX Laser projector in your theater, it won’t always show the movie in 1.43:1 as the results will vary based on the screen’s dimensions. Some, like the very famous TCL Chinese Theatre in California, will show the movie in 1.90:1, much like the regular IMAX digital projectors in their specific theaters. Once again, if you are seeing the movie in 1.43:1, you are paying for the TALLEST picture possible. This is one of the best digital formats out there but keep in mind, like IMAX digital, some of the movie will have black bars, and if changing aspect ratios happen to be distracting to you, there’s a chance you may want to look at a different format. The same can be said for the next format, IMAX 70mm.

IMAX 15/70mm (Digital equivalent: 18K)

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And now, onto the clearest format on the planet, IMAX’s 70mm technology. For those unfamiliar with the technology, IMAX started their company by using very large 70mm film that goes horizontal. As previously mentioned, it is used in their flagship 2D cameras, which were used during “Tenet’s” filming. Until sometime in the 2000s, it was the norm for IMAX to install theaters that have unheard of dimensions, installing screens that can rise up to a hundred feet. Once finished, they would have the IMAX GT (Grand Theatre) or IMAX SR (Small Rotor) projection systems along with 12,000 watts of surround sound, including speakers from the walls and behind the screen, which is a norm for IMAX. Although with IMAX’s newer 12 channel system, they have speakers on the ceiling. This system is meant to go with theaters that are converted or prepackaged with the Laser system, but are also used in several theaters that have BOTH the IMAX Laser and IMAX film projection models. Either way, you are getting the best the brand has to offer. Wall to wall, ceiling to floor picture. The clearest images of all time, many of which are shot to match the projector’s intentions. If you shell out the money to buy a ticket for an IMAX 70mm show, you are paying for the viewing experience Christopher Nolan literally intended for his viewers to get. One thing to note about both the IMAX Laser and IMAX film shows… Good news, they are presented the way in which the film was perhaps meant to be. Bad news, the theaters with the proper equipment for this are not dime a dozen, they are quite rare in fact. Not all of them will be used for “Tenet” for one reason or another. But, IMAX has a selection of theaters that are playing “Tenet” in the uncropped, true IMAX formats if you are curious to know more about them.

Now, I could go over other theatrical formats such as Dolby Cinema (includes dual 4K projection, DOLBY ATMOS, DOLBY VISION), AMC Prime (responsive subwoofer seats, enhanced sound and projection), RPX (large auditorium, large screen, high quality sound, exclusive to Regal-branded theatres), Cinemark XD (large auditorium, high quality sound, exclusive to Cinemark-branded theatres), and so on, but the reason why I am specifying on the formats above is because they are the basic projection features running today for this film. While formats like those are unique and specifically branded, they either offer something with “Tenet” that is very similar to what they’ve done before or it is too similar to other formats to go in depth about it. The reason why I included the three IMAX formats above is because Christopher Nolan treasures the IMAX experience and suggests that it is one of the best ways to see a movie, but the brand offers three somewhat distinctly different experiences today. As for 35mm and 70mm, these are classic formats that are not often used today and can enhance the movie experience for some. Plus, “Tenet” was shot in 70mm, so that’s another reason to bring the format into the discussion. I even brought up and broadened the digital category because chances are that if you have a movie theater near you, it is likely going to have that style of projection, but it can vary depending on where you go. Some of these experiences are rarely used for new releases and depending on which one you pick, you will achieve bragging rights, suggesting that you saw “Tenet” in a higher quality than the way your friends managed to.

By the way, if you are scrolling down because you hate reading, watch the very informative video listed above published by Slate (feel free to read more from their site) explaining some of the ways you can see this movie and how these formats work. NOTE: This is an explanation for “Dunkirk,” not “Tenet,” but the two are shot very similarly, so the information provided here can apply to both films.

“Tenet” is currently scheduled to release September 4th, 2020. Unless of you course you count early screenings starting August 31st. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, select states including New York, California, and Arizona are keeping their theaters closed for the time being. Please note: This is the release date for the United States. My international friends in countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, Thailand, South Korea, Ireland, and so on will be getting the movie as early as August 26th. You lucky ducks… Should coronavirus not continue to spiral out of control, the movie will likely release on time. Movie theaters have been closed since March due to COVID-19, but more are opening as areas continue to loosen restrictions and move along their calendar of phases. Whether or not they’ll remain open, is a mystery. Given how some theaters are already open and some will be opening soon, if said theaters open and operate without many issues, expect “Tenet” to come out on time.

Thanks for reading this post! If your movie theater is open and you do decide to go, please do yourself a favor. Respect their policies, don’t harass their employees, and be sure to distance yourself from other people. Remember, they’re a place of business, so even though the customer’s always right, there needs to be a collective effort from everyone to make sure the moviegoing experience is alive and well. When “Tenet” comes out, I’ll very likely see it whenever possible. I hope there’s an IMAX 70mm show near me, and if not, screw this world because Rhode Island and Connecticut have working projectors for this sort of thing. Just saying. My home state of Massachusetts does too but they’re not normally used for big Hollywood blockbusters. If you want to see more from Scene Before, be sure to follow this blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out my Facebook page! I know you already liked it… It just hasn’t happened yet. I want to know, are you seeing “Tenet?” And where do you plan on seeing it? If not, do you plan on staying home and watching something instead? What is that you’re watching? Coincidentally, “Mulan” drops on Disney+ the same day that “Tenet” hits theaters in the United States, so I’m gonna be interested to see which movie ends up doing better on its first weekend. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Summerland (2020): My Faith in 2020 Is Officially Restored

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“Summerland” is directed by Jessica Swale and this is her feature-length directorial debut. Swale’s other credits include shorts and a TV movie. This film stars Gemma Arterton (The Girl with All the Gifts, Clash of the Titans), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle, The Morning Show), Lucas Bond (The Alienist: Angel of Darkness, Slumber), Dixie Egerickx (The Secret Garden, The Little Stranger), Siân Phillips (I, Claudius, Dune), Penelope Wilton (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Downton Abbey), and Tom Courtenay (The Aeronauts, The Dresser). This film follows a woman named Alice, she’s a writer, she’s a hermit, she’s bullied by local children, and she’s sometimes called a witch. Keep in mind, the movie is set during World War II, so when an evacuee is sent to her doorstep, her world turns upside down. However, their relationship develops as we get to know more about the backstory of both characters while also seeing how they engage with one another in the present.

I’m gonna be straight up with ya. 2020 is s*it. It’s f*cking stupid. So far, this entire year has been a waste. My spring break trip was ruined by the beginning of a pandemic. Movie theaters shut down for some time. Every comic con beyond March got cancelled. The only positive is that I don’t need to wear pants right now. As far as movies go… Screw that noise! Nothing is memorable! This year, like many, started off with some duds, but that’s expected. What I didn’t expect is for this entire first half of a year to just amount to absolutely nothing!

I got to see Joe Gatto in person… There’s something.

I saw “Emma” in February, the star and director happened to be there to promote the film. There’s something else.

I got to go to Universal Hollywood before they closed down… That’s pretty much it.

Things have been turning around however. Cases and hospitalizations have been going down in my area, I finally shaved my facial hair for the first time in months, and movies have been getting SLIGHTLY more watchable.

Note: I said slightly. “Vivarium,” “An American Pickle,” “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” they’ve all been fun to watch. But it’s hard to tell if I will remember them by the end of the year.

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“Summerland,” before I saw it, was an interesting little movie. One of the positives of the second half of 2020 for me was the reopening of some movie theaters. Granted, not all of them have reopened, but some of them, including a local spot known by the name of Lexington Venue have welcomed back patrons. “Summerland” was one of the movies initially playing on their second reopening, but I decided to wait and see it on the second weekend I returned. It was my third time at that theater in a span of a little over a week.

When I started watching this movie, a lot a havoc began. The projector was having problems. We had to stop the movie more than once. The movie itself was not much better. Ten minutes in, I already hated the main character. She came off as an insufferable jerkface that I would never want to meet in person if she actually existed. There was perhaps no redeeming quality to this character other than the fact she was a writer.

Then… Something happened. The movie went along, the main relationship builds, characters develop, and I will tell you something, I almost shed a tear. This is my favorite film of the year. Period. Granted, given how “Tenet” comes out soon, I would bet that such a notion could change, but it’s true. “Summerland” is one of the most emotionally investing movies I have seen in recent memory. It sort of reminded me of “Jojo Rabbit,” minus all the satire. After all, both films take place during World War II, and in some way, involve a young boy at the center of everything. Granted, his name is not the biggest on the poster and he does not have top billing, but he seemingly has much of a prominence in this movie as Gemma Arterton’s character does, who I really need to talk about by the way.

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Gemma Arterton plays a character named Alice, and when I saw her in this movie for the first ten to thirty minutes, I thought to myself, “OK, time to watch the latest pile of crap I’ve seen this year. 2020’s full of them.” I say that because her character comes off as a bitch in the beginning. Then she kind of grows a heart, where she is a bit nicer. I understood what the movie was going for in the long run. But at the same time, it’s like they were writing lines for Sheldon Cooper, but they turned him into a woman. And I say that as someone who loves Sheldon Cooper, but at times, this seemed like a draft version of Sheldon Cooper where the whole time he’s just a complete ass to those around him. At the same time however, I’ve grown to realize something. This character is completely relatable. Before staying home and being alone was cool, I was always focused on a number of things: Avoiding people, writing, and perfection. This lady, seems to be all about that! Alice is practically an older, 1940s version of me! I may be a little more welcoming to visitors, but I was floored on how much she reminded me of myself.

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As for Frank, the young kid in the movie, seeing how he develops in this film is quite intriguing. Seeing him adapt to his new environment was worth my time. I also think Lucas Bond does a pretty good job playing this character, providing one of the more admirable child performances I’ve seen in recent memory. The same can be said for a friend he meets in the movie, Edie. She’s played by Dixie Egerickx, and their relationship not only feels natural, there was a point where it sort of felt like Simba and Nala in “The Lion King.” Granted, it’s not exactly the same, but there is one scene where they are hanging out together and I sort of made that connection for some reason.

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What I really enjoyed about the relationship between Frank and Alice is not only seeing how both characters developed as individuals, but how their differences are obviously present, even though they don’t get in the way of the two being together. The relationship doesn’t entirely feel 100% in wonderland while not being entirely toxic either. I wouldn’t call it a Goldilocks relationship if you will, but if you see the movie, you might get a sense of what I’m talking about.

Admittedly, this movie did start a little slow. Considering that, in addition to perhaps a nearly painful introduction to Gemma Arterton’s character, make up the most notable turnoffs of the film. There are also one or two directorial choices that I wouldn’t have made. Although I won’t knock this film’s director, Jessica Swale, too hard given how this is the first feature she’s handled. But there is so much to love about “Summerland” that I almost don’t care. I will not dive into spoiler territory, but I went into this movie, wondering what the heck the title of this film even means. Is it a place? A thing? An idea? The way the movie handles the subject matter presented in the title is incredibly enchanting and satisfying. The way this movie sort of goes kind of reminded me of “Onward,” the recent Pixar film that came out. It’s not exactly the same though for several reasons if you watch both movies, but I nevertheless made such a connection. Now, I like “Onward.” I had a really good time watching that movie and it continues to prove that Pixar can do no wrong. But I expected to go into “Onward” and leave a certain way. “Summerland” gave me the feelings and emotions that I couldn’t quite get from “Onward,” even though I expected that they were almost a guarantee. I don’t want to dive too much into either film, because I want to avoid spoilers, but holy smokes!

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I walked out of “Summerland” similar to the way I walked out of “Marriage Story.” When I left my screening for “Marriage Story,” I was so moved… and floored, that I stayed for the credits. I then walked out of the theater and I needed to sit down somewhere. During my “Marriage Story” experience I sat on a bench inside the cinema, but after seeing “Summerland,” I sat in my car, partially because I wanted to look at some local restaurants on Google Maps in private. But also because I needed a place to process what it was I just saw. When your movie has me feeling nearly motionless for around five minutes. You’ve made something special. Period.

In the end, “Summerland” is my favorite movie of 2020. During a year where a pandemic has gotten me down, this movie happens to have lifted my spirits up just a little bit. This film is playing in a few theaters, but I am not going to force everyone to attend a theater right now, given how some of my viewers might be a little nervous. Plus states including New York and California, which any other day of the year, would be part of the biggest markets for moviegoing, are not open at the moment. But fear not! This movie is available on VOD if you want to watch it at home! I think the casting for all the actors was well done, I like some of the scenery and locations in the film, the backstories for certain characters were incredible and added a bit to the movie in terms of overall likability. “Summerland” is one of the better written movies of 2020 in terms of its screenplay. As far as directing goes, that is an area that “works,” but there are a few things I would have done different if I were at the helm. Nevertheless, I am excited to see what Jessica Swale has next. Keep in mind, this movie is not perfect… But it is the first time I’m saying this all year for a new release, unless you count “1917” even though it technically came out last year. I’m going to give “Summerland” a 9/10.

Wow that feels good. I have still not given a 10 this year unfortunately. This film came close, there are a couple changes I’d make before calling it perfect. But that leaves a question for the rest of 2020. What will get a 10? “Unhinged?” “The New Mutants?” “Tenet?” “Wonder Woman 1984?” “Dune?” “Black Widow?” “Soul?” “No Time to Die?” Who knows at this point? For all I know, there might not end up being any 10/10s this year. Even so, I’m glad to actually have a reason to say 2020 has a glimmer of hope in it at this point. Because I have waited SO LONG to finally see something memorable. I was wondering at this point, is “The Vast of Night” the best thing this year’s got? Because I’d be quite unsatisfied if that’s the case. Nope! Thank you, “Summerland!” And also, thank you Britain! Hundreds of years ago, my country separated from you over our differences regarding things like tea, but I’m glad to unite on something as simple as the movie “Summerland!” Go watch this movie! I recommend this movie to just about anyone, and who knows? Maybe it’ll put a smile on your face!

Thanks for reading this review! Just want to let everyone know that I got an early access invitation to watch the new movie “Words on Bathroom Walls.” I’ll be blunt, this does not look like my type of movie. But, as a reviewer, I am glad to talk about new content, so I am likely going to watch the film and discuss it here on Scene Before. If you want to see more content like this, follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Summerland?” What did you think about it? Or, how is your cinematic year for 2020 going? Are the movies good? Bad? Anything you want to see? Have the delays got you down? Personally, I have not seen a cinematic calendar more disappointing and underwhelming in quite some time. I am holding out hope for films like “Tenet” and “Dune” this point. And “Tenet” tickets go on sale soon! Let’s hope it actually opens! PLEASE. If it pushes back once more I’m running over my TV with an Amtrak train! Leave your thoughts down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Capone (2020): Josh Trank Chronicles the Gangster

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“Capone” is directed by Josh Trank (Fantastic Four, Chronicle) and stars Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Dunkirk) as the title character alongside Linda Cardellini (Daddy’s Home, Gravity Falls), Jack Lowden (Dunkirk, Fighting with My Family), Noel Fisher (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Shameless), Kyle MacLachlan (Inside Out, Carol’s Second Act), Matt Dillon (There’s Something About Mary, Crash), and Al Sapienza (The Sopranos, Person of Interest). This film is about the famous American gangster, Al Capone, and is set during the last year of his life as he suffers from dementia.

This movie originally released on VOD this past May, and I have waited a little bit to talk about it for several reasons. For one, I took a break for the most part when it comes to movie reviewing during the spring. Also, “Scoob!” was a priority for me. It is an animated film, and I usually tend to review at least five a year now, so I wanted to get one under my belt. I should note that both movies released around the same time.

However, I was shopping inside Best Buy the other day and I came across “Capone,” which had a copy available on Blu-ray. I snatched it when I had the chance, and I popped it in a couple weeks later. For a price of $12.99, I felt that I was getting my money’s worth. After all, when this thing came out, I believe it was $19.99 to rent on VOD, which is still ridiculous to me. By the way, Disney, you’re crazy, and I say that as someone who may want to work with 20th Century in the future. “Mulan” deserves better and so do your customers!

Before I go any further, I should note that “Capone” has a 4.7/10 on IMDb. Given how a lot of the stuff on IMDb happens to be somewhere in the 6 to 8 range, that’s a pretty low score. I will say though, what kind of shocks me here is that this rating does not come from mostly 1s and 2s. Not even 3s. The most common rating for “Capone” is a 5 on IMDb. I’m not gonna give my score just yet. Per usual, we save that for the end. But I can see why 5 would be a common verdict here. This movie really isn’t anything special.

Now, this movie is directed by Josh Trank, who as far as my opinions are concerned has a fairly mixed resume. His movie “Chronicle” released back in 2012, was a fun found footage flick with a neat concept. I think it was pretty well done overall. But in 2015 he directed “Fantastic 4,” which ironically wasn’t even close to fantastic. When I was seeing it at the theater. I missed part of the climax as I was more concerned about getting more popcorn than I was about catching the rest of this movie. When it comes to “Fantastic 4” in particular, I don’t put all the blame on Josh Trank, given how that film was basically made as a quick money grab so Fox could keep the rights from reverting back to Marvel. So even though “Fantastic 4” was not entirely great, it wasn’t exactly earth-shatteringly devastating to watch. As for “Capone,” the same can be said for that movie. It’s by no means the best movie in the world, it’s not a masterpiece, not worth massive attention. It just… exists.

I will say though, and this should not be completely surprising as this movie does come from a smaller studio, this project feels just a tad more personalized coming from a guy like Josh Trank. Maybe there’s some hints of a story formula that become obvious here and there, but if this movie were say, the next “Parasite,” I would be all over Josh Trank right now and completely excited to see whatever he does next. Although I should point out, unlike “Fantastic Four,” Josh Trank actually wrote the screenplay for “Capone” by himself. During the writing process for “Fantastic Four,” he was involved with the screenplay enough to receive a credit. But so were Jeremy Slater and Simon Kinberg.

I do like Tom Hardy’s performance here as Al Capone. One thing for me to consider, based on the other projects where I’ve seen Tom Hardy, such as “Mad Max: Fury Road” or “Venom,” it doesn’t really feel like my typical vision for Tom Hardy himself. It actually feels like he’s playing a character. Although ironically, this movie comes out during the COVID-19 pandemic and this is the one time Tom Hardy plays a character that doesn’t wear a mask. Given his resume, such as the recently mentioned “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Venom,” along with other films including “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Dunkirk,” it feels a little out of the ordinary. I’m not complaining, it’s just something I noticed.

I should note that I watched this movie on Monday, August 3rd. This gave me plenty of time to gather my thoughts for a review. Unfortunately, the little that I do fully remember about this movie does not say enough for this movie to have a lasting impact. Yes, I did feel bad for Al Capone given how he was going through some health issues. There’s definitely a reason to get attached to such a character. Although, I’m gonna use this phrase once again, this movie doesn’t really have the oomph factor to push it over the edge. Do I care for Al Capone here? Sure. But will I care for him in a week when I move on to the next movie? That’s hard to say. This movie has some great dialogue exchanges between characters that make you somewhat emotionally attached, but I don’t feel like I’m going to remember anybody’s name in this film except maybe Al Capone because he’s on the flipping title of the movie for crying out loud!

For the most part, I do think Josh Trank’s “Capone,” kind of like the last movie I reviewed, “Gretel & Hansel,” is a competent production. I think the location choices were suitable, I like the casting, and getting Tom Hardy to play the lead role is a fine mix of name recognition and talent. I will say one thing though as a compliment compared to “Gretel & Hansel.” “Capone” was more entertaining in its span of a hundred and three minutes, compared to “Gretel & Hansel” in its span of eighty seven minutes. Sometimes, it goes to show… A movie is as long as the viewer makes it. “Gretel & Hansel” in this case, maybe took a million more years to get through. I was entertained by “Capone,” but I don’t think I’ll watch it again in the near future.

In the end, “Capone” is not… Terrible, but to call it next level material or even “good” would be a lie. It’s just some extended series of scenes that may or may not be a waste of time depending on your mood. I think there was some effort put into it, but again, there’s no lasting impact for me to remember this film forever. Maybe if I watched the film in a theater, who knows? It could be experiential, but I didn’t. I saw it at home… Where we are stuck for the rest of our lives… End this pandemic… I’m going to give “Capone” a 5/10. I will say, the rating could jump to a 6/10 as there were some entertaining parts. But when seeing a brief moment of “The Wizard of Oz” was the most fascinating part of “Capone,” that’s kind of a problem. It was a good scene, but still.

Thanks for reading this review! This weekend I’m planning on seeing “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” a new movie that is only playing in theaters. Can’t believe I’m saying that! This film is about an art dealer trying to steal a painting and the mission suddenly goes out of control. Sounds like a work of art.

*Cricket noises*

Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out the official Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Capone?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Tom Hardy performance? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

My Spy (2020): Dumped Onto Amazon? No Kidding.

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“My Spy…” That is a name I have been waiting to say for the LONGEST TIME. Nevertheless, “My Spy” is directed by Peter Segal (Grudge Match, 50 First Dates) and stars Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy, Stuber), Chloe Coleman (Big Little Lies, Transparent), Kristen Schaal (Bob’s Burgers, Gravity Falls), Ken Jeong (The Masked Singer, The Hangover), and Parisa Fitz-Henley (Jessica Jones, Midnight, Texas). This film is about a CIA operative who is on a mission alongside a fanatic/newbie in Chicago, who is supposed watch over a particular family’s apartment, only to run into a nine year old girl who lives in said apartment. As this happens, the CIA operative is now at the mercy of this nine year old who can potentially affect the entire mission.

If you wonder why I started this review the way I just did, here’s some context. I have waited FOREVER to talk about “My Spy.” Not because I knew about it for a long time and was finally getting to see it. Not because I was looking forward to it. Hey, this is no “Star Wars.” Before the COVID-19 craze happened, prior to when it was announced that this film would be going straight to Amazon’s Prime Video after multiple delays in the United States, I was invited by STX Screenings, which is an outlet based on the studio responsible for this film, to see “My Spy” a couple towns away from me. So I got on a train. Remember trains? Those were so much fun. I headed on over, saw the movie, but I knew one thing was for sure. I could not talk about it. That is unless I turned Scene Before into an Australian outlet, because this film already released in Australia months ago. Without saying much about the film, I did not hate myself, but it didn’t feel buzzworthy.

By the way, THIS WAS IN JANUARY. And it’s not like I went to a big festival or something or a test screening. No! This was a finished product! This was a screening meant to promote the film, get people to think about it, and that sort of thing! It was a simple free screening that just so happened to take place on a Saturday in January at 10AM! They really wanted families for this thing, didn’t they?

But guess what? I’m a Prime member, so I took the opportunity to watch this film again. After all, a lot can change on a second viewing, and I did forgot a lot about this movie over the last five months.

Once again, I did not completely hate myself for watching “My Spy.” But to call it Shakespeare is laughable.

Oooh! Here’s a hashtag! #ThisAgedWell.

Now don’t think I’m nagging on Dave Bautista, I love his work and he often comes off as one of the most down to earth celebrities working today. He doesn’t let the attention and fame get to his head, and he seems like an all around fun guy. I also love his passion for the film industry, those involved in said industry, and unlike some people, he is not afraid to project his opinion beyond the stratosphere (even if sometimes it might not work out in his favor). And I’ve seen him do good work. I think Bautista was a good pick to play Drax in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He had a solid screen presence during the beginning of “Blade Runner 2049” as Sapper. I even liked “Stuber!” It’s not a masterpiece, but… It has its moments. Well, Bautista’s performance in “Stuber” wasn’t his finest, but I liked the movie nevertheless. Here in “My Spy,” he looks the part from a physical standpoint, but the way the script translates onto the screen is weird at particular points where Bautista happens to speak.

Continuing on with what I just said, Dave Bautista DOES NOT give a career-damaging performance. At this point, I’m still excited to see him if there is a “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” which is seemingly in development at this point, so I can’t wait to see where that goes. However, when it comes to how his character is written. It’s very hit or miss. And the same can be said for some other moments of the screenplay as well.

While I did end up buying the mother/daughter relationship between Parisa Fitz-Henley and Chloe Coleman, there are a couple utterances of their lines and interactions where they didn’t feel like real people. Yes, one of the core objectives of a film is to stretch the truth and reality to a certain point, but there are one or two moments where it breaks the barrier and goes a little too far. I bought into the characters, but this is nevertheless how I felt as I witnessed said characters on screen. I also think the chemistry between Dave Bautista and Chloe Coleman is admirable, which does kind of end up being the heart of the film, so I gotta give credit to the casting department where it is due. Although, it is not like I haven’t seen this type of chemistry done better in the past. This film kind of reminded me of “The Game Plan” starring Dwayne Johnson. You know, that movie where he unexpectedly meets his own daughter. Although, that movie handles something better that this seems confused with, its identity.

While I often criticize Disney for its unwillingness in regards to pushing boundaries, their movie, “The Game Plan,” at least feels consistent. It always feels family-friendly, it always comes off as somewhat warm yet exciting, it projects a sense of clean fun throughout. Here, it feels kind of weird. Did they make this movie for young teenagers who wanna hear people drop a couple bombs? Did they make this for kids? Families? The movie starts off with a strategically laid out action scene that almost glorifies violence, but later on we get this family drama that turns out to be the heart of the movie. It feels like a PG-13 action movie in one moment, but for almost the full remainder of the runtime, it feels PG at best. I am willing to bet, that if this movie was PG, it MAYBE could have gotten away with as much violence as there is. Maybe if it was just toned down or edited with slight differences, it would have gotten the PG rating. If they took out a few naughty words, it would have gotten a PG rating. Do I want this movie to be PG? No. If you ask me, I am always for the dark route whenever possible. But I want this movie to have a tone that works, but it almost fails when it comes to having its own identity. It feels like a conglomeration of ideas that are randomly placed together to waste a little more than an hour and a half.

“My Spy” is a technically competent film. When it comes to aspects like editing, camerawork, and music, “My Spy” works. It’s not the greatest movie ever made. Far from it in fact, but it is confusingly laid out and doesn’t feel like it really knows what it is. The movie also tries to be a comedy, and there are moments where the comedy does land, but it also comes off as a little traditional, like I’ve seen it before. Bautista has a couple well-executed comedic moments as the movie goes on, but if you have seen a lot of movies, it is probably not going to stick the landing as perfectly as one would hope.

For those of you who don’t watch a lot of animated movies, one of the cliches from that realm of film is that there is a dance sequence of some sort. Now, “My Spy” is not animated, but this does honestly nearly, not COMPLETELY, but nearly come off, as a movie meant for kids. Much like the typical animated fare, “My Spy” has a dance sequence, but I will say the way they handled it here was not exactly annoying. It wasn’t completely exciting or exhilarating, but it felt like it had a noticeable purpose compared to some other movies (I’m looking at YOU, “Uncle Drew”). For a movie like this, seeing a dance sequence that actually worked and didn’t make me want to rip my hair off was sort of delightful.

In all seriousness though, “My Spy” is probably going to end up being one of the more forgettable movies of 2020. How do I know that? Because as I mentioned, I already saw the film in January and a lot of it already faded. It feels disposable, slightly typical, and doesn’t really offer anything spicy to the table. I think Chloe Coleman, who plays the young girl in this film, has a bright future ahead of her, but if she becomes successful, I don’t think “My Spy” will be the film I will end up remembering her for most.

In the end, “My Spy” is probably going to be watched once and then quickly left in the dust. The only thing I can say at this point is that if you are bored and you pay for Amazon Prime, watching this movie won’t exactly kill you. If it’s a family movie night, you can do better, but you can also do a lot worse. Now I saw this movie twice, and that’s because I wanted to refresh my memory on what happened in the film and how it presents itself. Was it worth the second watch for those reasons? Sure. But if we’re talking about entertainment value, there are superior options out there. I like the people in the movie, but the movie itself, not as great. I’m going to give “My Spy” a 5/10.

Thanks for reading this review! It is almost the end of June, so that means that we are getting closer to the day I release my review for Tom Cruise’s “Minority Report.” This is the conclusion to Scene Before’s Tom Cruise Month, which has been fun for me personally, as I do enjoy Tom Cruise as a professional. I have not seen “Minority Report” yet, but I assure you that I do have even just the slightest anticipation to talk about it. If you want to see more great content like this from Scene Before, please give the blog a follow! If you have proper account credentials, give this post a like! Also, check out the official Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “My Spy?” What did you think about it? Or, since it’s relevant… Did you ever see the 2007 movie “The Game Plan?” Tell me your thoughts on that! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

CHECK OUT MY TOM CRUISE MONTH REVIEWS SO FAR:

OBLIVION (2013)

ALL THE RIGHT MOVES (1983)

DAYS OF THUNDER (1990)

TOP GUN (1986)

TENET is Delayed Again: New Release Date: August 12th, 2020

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Hey guys! Welcome to the latest apocalypse-related update of 2020! A year so bad that it made fully regret ever giving “Cats” a negative review. That hour and fifty minute movie which really ended up feeling like an utter eternity was a blessing compared whatever the f*ck is going on right now! Remember how I posted this s*it down below just a couple weeks ago?

TENET Gets Delayed to July 31st, INCEPTION Returns to Theatres July 17th

Guess what? That s*it’s outdated! Welcome to 2020! A one-way ticket to a dark room full of deadly lasers, accompanied with a bloody water tank with a giant shark that is about to eat you whole! WORST! YEAR! EVER! With that being said, I’m going to try my best… My absolute… Best. To avoid going ABSOLUTELY OVER THE TOP WITH THIS POST! Gah! I already failed! Let’s just do this!

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! In case you’re reading this, I have somehow survived being disintegrated by tons of deadly lasers and a giant shark that was about to eat me. For all I know, maybe the shark thought I was pitching a terrible product, and said “I’m out.”

…Which reminds me, I gotta cross that shark-raid whistle thingy off the pitch list. Here we go.

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A couple weeks back, we have had an announcement that “Tenet” was getting a pushback, which I think at the time, could have arguably been the most shocking pushback for a film we’ve seen all year. “Tenet” was one of the few pictures to not move a muscle so far in 2020, so to see it gravitate towards a later, granted two weeks later, but later nevertheless, release date on the calendar is a little shocking. However, in my post talking about it, I mentioned there was probably a good reason, one of the notable pieces of news sticking out to me being the plan to rerelease 2010’s “Inception,” allowing for a perfect reason to recognize the film’s 10th anniversary. Not to mention, I thought it was just a damn fine consolation prize. “Inception” will be brought back to theaters around the same exact time it came out, it would be a good way to get audiences back into the theater, see how many people are willing to go to the theater, and as for me, I get to see one of my favorite movies on the big screen, which I did not get to do when I was younger. However, this week, it was announced that “Tenet” has been delayed once more. Time runs out? More like, we need more time to put out our movie.

Before we go any further, “Tenet” is not the only film moving in this case. “Inception” is in on this as well. “Inception” is now going to be taking up the July 31st release slot previously held by “Tenet.” As for “Tenet,” that film will be taking a spot in the middle of the second week of August, allowing it to come out on August 12th.

Let’s start with the good news. The good news, I can’t believe there is good news available in 2020… It’s not that big of a delay. That can be a sign of pure optimism from Warner Bros., Christopher Nolan, or both. While we don’t know where we’ll be in days or weeks from now, it does show that somebody somewhere is sticking to a commitment to put the movie out in theaters. Let’s face it. If I were to shoot a movie on the largest format possible, which Christopher Nolan did. Release it on the largest format possible, which is currently planned. You bet I, as a studio executive, would surely keep a promise to put this damn movie in the theater. I saw previews for this film on my TV, and it looks good on my TV. But why does it look so good? Because it gave me the urge to get off my ass, into my onmyassmobile, and head to a freaking movie theater to enjoy myself for hours!

Wait, that sounds very familiar…

“This film (Dunkirk) is what actually going to the theater is all about. Not renting a movie on DVD, not streaming it on Netflix, but getting off your ass, getting in your onmyassmobile, and heading straight to the movie theater.” –Top 10 BEST Movies of 2017

Nolan is all about the “get off your ass” mentality when it comes to releasing films, and that is part of why I will remain committed to checking out his work. I am all about the experience when it comes to moviegoing. There are very few feelings like entering a movie theater and seeing a movie in general, but when Nolan makes a movie, it’s almost guaranteed to be a ride. To see at the very least, the notion regarding this movie not losing sight of the theater experience delights me to no end.

Now, for the bad news… What if this is not the last delay? Because I feel like the factors determining whether or not we will get to see this movie in theaters as soon as possible have little to do with whether or not theaters are ready. In fact, the major chains including AMC, Regal, and Alamo Drafthouse, have all announced plans to open in July, with precautions in mind. Some of these include deep sanitizing of the auditoriums and often-touched spaces through advanced equipment and materials, allowing extra time to clean auditoriums, reduced capacities and spaced seating to encourage social distancing, and enforcing the use of masks. And yes, I’ll wear a mask, because I’ll happily allow my mask to possibly smell like popcorn. Just because they’re ready does not automatically equate to the public being ready. Am I ready to head back to the movie theater? I’ve been motivated to go pretty much as soon as everything shut down. Granted, knowing myself, I am a little biased. I would have risked my life during the pandemic to go see new movies because this was the routine for my blog. Go to the movies. See a new release. Review said new release. Repeat. Instead, I had to take a break, report whatever fresh hell was happening during the apocalypse to point where I wanted to smash my F*CKING BRAIN INTO SPIKES! Save myself some money so my family and I don’t go broke. Occasionally review a new movie if possible, and so on. I would not deny that there is at least some sort of craving from various demographics to live in some sense of normalcy at this point. Movie theaters are a part of that normalcy. But would the public automatically leap themselves back into theaters? That’s going to depend on who you ask. Some would definitely go back in a heartbeat, but if you scour social media, there are some that are hoping for more at-home releases and those sorts of things.

Not only that, but let’s also look at statistics. One of the biggest catalysts that likely caused this delay in the first place is the notion that New York had no plans to reopen theaters in phase 4, which supposedly starts in a couple weeks for a great portion of the state. New York is one of the biggest movie theater markets out there. They have a large moviegoing population and a ton of theaters to back them up. New York City has also been home to many big film events, including premieres. Although if I’m not mistaken, if “Tenet” releases on time, if Manhattan remains closed, the run could still work if many other theaters in the state as long they remain open in other areas. Speaking of which, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey, are trending pretty positive right now when it comes to handling the virus overall. This is as opposed to states like Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California, where the virus is proving to be a little more effective and deadly. Hospitals are filling up by the second, states are seeing record cases, and if they keep going up, who knows what’s gonna happen next? And besides, I just mentioned California, like New York, it is one of the biggest movie markets in the world. It’s where many red carpet events occur, the culture in various cities revolve around film, and it’s home to many historic venues. Plus, Los Angeles county is currently the most populous of the U.S. counties, if you don’t let them for example go see a movie in their local area, that’s potentially a lot of lost customers.

Not to get sidetracked, but I wonder if this means anything for the other big movies coming out soon like “Unhinged” and “Mulan.” Will they bump their dates somewhere else as well? Although Regal Cinemas, the second largest chain in the United States, is supposed to reopen the day that movie comes out, so I doubt they want to move as they have a sweet spot. As for “Mulan,” I feel like Disney could move it, but they also have a good spot should things turn around. They don’t have to worry much about what could be opening the week after, and a lot can happen in a month from now. As much as I would not be TOTALLY surprised if they put the movie on VOD eventually, I feel like from an executive standpoint, this is a movie that like “Tenet” is specifically made to be seen in a theater. Putting the film on VOD would be a sacrifice from one kind of perspective. Plus, based on what I’m hearing from people who have already seen the movie, it may have solid enough verdicts to avoid getting dumped onto Disney+ like “Artemis Fowl” did, which currently has a 10% on Rotten Tomatoes.

One thing I will point out, when it comes to this new release date, it presents a fairly interesting idea given by a Warner Bros. spokesperson.

“In this moment what we need to be is flexible, and we are not treating this as a traditional movie release. We are choosing to open the movie mid-week to allow audiences to discover the film in their own time, and we plan to play longer, over an extended play period far beyond the norm, to develop a very different yet successful release strategy.”

Before this delay, in fact, even before the first delay, what I thought was going to happen was that Warner Bros. was going to attempt to pull the throttle as far ahead as possible. What could have been done is that they’d release the movie, allowing it to play on virtually every available screen in the facility, say this is all happening in a multiplex, allowing for everybody to go see this one movie at practically anytime, with an outright guarantee for social distancing. Granted, with the current plans to bring throwback releases into the mix, that would now be impossible, but again, I’m talking about the past. Now I’m noticing a fairly slow approach that Warner Bros. seems to be taking. I don’t know how well it’ll work out. But if they keep it in theaters for a long enough time, there’s a solid chance that it could be profitable. It’s likely going to depend on word of mouth, positive reviews, and maybe even some hint of rewatchability. For all I know, it could also depend on cases. But this blog is being documented by someone who lives in the United States of America, where we are perhaps all brainwashed into thinking the economy is more “essential” than lives. Am I sick of staying home for the longest time? You betcha. I have gone through several periods of not even exiting my house doors. In fact, this entire post pretty much sums up my distaste with the fact that I’ve had to stay home. But if we all really get back outside, we need to understand that the world is not going to be pretty. We need masks (which I detest, but I understand why we need them). We need clean hands. We need to do our best to stay apart. If we want to have what we love in front of us at some point during 2020, we need to understand the meaning of sacrifice amongst ourselves. And how this even became a political issue here in the United States, I will never understand! Apparently in this country, science equals politics! It’s global warming all over again!

Just so you all know, if you didn’t already, I hate needles with a burning passion. This is the one time, I repeat, the one time in my life, where I want a vaccine for something! I don’t care if it kills me quicker than the virus, but I just want to have a sense of normalcy at this point. I’ve had it with all this! I just want to go see a movie! It’s the one place where I can feel like I’m at home, because I’ve been at my house for so long that it doesn’t even feel like a home anymore! I love my house, but with isolation and everything! It has basically become a prison with people who love and care about you, not to mention better food options! I need to get out at least once to cleanse my brain from whatever spasms it has at this point! Walking won’t do the trick! Am I overreacting? Most likely! But this is my life! Art is the quintessential element that makes me whole, and now I feel like that has been snatched away. I turn 21 in November, so I think I have picked the wrong time to supposedly “build my life.” I want safety for all. But I want to do things.

“Tenet,” please help me. I’m more excited for “Dune” to come out in December, but as of now, I don’t know if there has ever been a movie I wanted to see succeed more than “Tenet.” It’s from my favorite studio, my favorite director, and will be shown in my favorite format. And I surely hope this delay is the last one we get. For all I know, should things continue to trend positively in certain states, I can almost see Warner Bros. releasing the movie in states that are trending positive, then adding a phase 2 to areas that trend positive later. It’s like the government, but it’s all about a $200 million+ movie. “Tenet” HOPEFULLY, and I cannot stress that enough, releases in theaters August 12th, 2020. The film will be available in digital, various large formats including IMAX, 35mm, 70mm, and IMAX 70mm. And you bet I will be striving to catch an IMAX 70mm presentation should one pop up in my area, and given how I don’t live far from Providence, RI, and I do expect the movie to end up playing at their IMAX venue, I will probably make it to one of these shows whatever it takes.

Thanks for reading this incredibly emotional post! And by incredibly emotional, I mean a post where I turn into an absolute brat who simultaneously wants what’s best for society. How did we get here?! Do we even deserve to live at this point? Bring on the alien invasion! Bring on dinosaurs! Bring on giant asteroids! Bring on dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria! What are we still doing here anywhere? It’s not like we’re… DOING ANYTHING! By the way, right now on Scene Before I am focusing on Tom Cruise Month here in June, which will conclude next week with my review for “Minority Report!” Until then, check out my review for “Top Gun,” a movie which had a sequel that was supposed to come out this exact week, but of course, COVID sucks. It really does. July is coming up, and I’m hoping for my sake at this point that I get to talk about at least one new movie. I’ve spent so much time talking about the past that the future looks mighty fine right now. This universe is punching me in the gut every day. Be sure to follow Scene Before if you want to see new content, and check out the blog’s official Facebook page! I want to know, what are your thoughts on the “Tenet” delay? Personally, I kinda saw it coming, but unlike the last one, this one hurt me a little more. I am more than likely overreacting, but as a guy who doesn’t really care if sports come back at this point, I at least want a movie. Or, here’s another question. Do you plan on going back to the movies anytime soon? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

400TH POST SPECIAL! Blu-ray Collection Update!

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! If you like things that are predictable, sorry, this post is not for you. Although at the same time, this is a little unpredictable for me. Because as of now, Scene Before has 400 currently active posts. Why am I calling this predictable? Well, this 400th post special is going to be similar to other post specials, specifically where I show off my Blu-ray collection. My Blu-ray collection has sort of become a staple of my life, even in a time where physical media is less relevant compared to digital streaming.

You may ask, do I stream? Occasionally. I pay for Prime Video and HBO Max, I will watch something On Demand through my cable, and I’ve used Crackle a couple times. But for the most part, when I’m in control of my content, I’m usually using physical media. Is it more expensive? Sometimes. But it’s also more satisfying given how I am the owner of my content and I don’t have anybody corporate overlords potentially taking it away from me.

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Nevertheless, this year, I have decided to show you my latest updates to my collection, which without giving everything away, includes a bunch of the latest movies from 2019, some Steelbooks, and a good number of 4K Blu-rays. Have I seen all the movies? No. Some are still in the wrap, some have not been watched yet, and to be truthful, there are one or two I do not think I’ll be putting in my player anytime soon. Just because I own a movie doesn’t mean I like it. Maybe I watched the movie, found out through watching it that it was bad, never sold it, or I am a loyalist and have to pick it up for some reason (I’m looking at you, “Star Wars”).

Enjoy my all new and admittedly, utterly insane (you will find out why), Blu-ray collection video, featured on my YouTube channel!

Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes – Part 7

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is now time for part 7 of the Scene Before series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes.” This series describes the recent happenings, or in some cases, a lack of happenings, in the film industry as the world deals with the COVID-19 outbreak.

As much as I want to continue to create informative content, I’m getting to the point where this series has become an annoyance. But I continue to do it anyway because historians can look back on this and remember it as a dire time for the film industry, which it really is. And those reviews I’ve been saving for months cannot go to waste. So Scene Before is STILL your place for the apocalypse! But who knows how much longer this will last? If I have to do more than twelve or thirteen, I might shove an aluminum soda can down my throat. In other news, I still know how to put on pants, I have not been going outside, and if I’m not back in the cinema by the end of July, I am going to throw all my DVDs and Blu-rays out the window like I’m a stubborn child!

And since we are still on a downward spiral, let’s get to the news of the world!

Starting in New York, we have news regarding what could be the United States’ most famous public transportation system, the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority). Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York state, made a major change to the system. The MTA is known for having a 24/7 schedule, so they never stop running. However, under Cuomo’s order, the system will be shutting down from 1 AM to 5 AM. This is likely a financially responsible decision, as nightlife in New York is nonexistent at this point. Plus, ridership is down 90% as far as the system goes. With less money, there’s more of a willingness to engage in the system’s preservation. This is also part of an effort to properly disinfect MTA property and machines, making a safer and cleaner ride for customers.

While some states are going to have to wait a bit longer to reopen, some like Georgia and Texas have begun easing on restrictions. Another state that has announced some easing on restrictions is the New England state of New Hampshire. The state plans to partially reopen starting May 11th. Certain pieces of economic industry including golf courses, campgrounds, and hair salons are permitted to reopen. Outdoor dining is also permitted to take place. Strict guidelines are still in place however as there is still a tendency to keep people 6 feet apart. New Hampshire currently has over twenty-five hundred confirmed COVID-19 cases so far. That is more than neighboring states Maine and Vermont, but is significantly less than its other neighboring state, Massachusetts, which has over seventy thousand cases.

Let’s go over to the United Kingdom and talk about Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Previously diagnosed with COVID-19, Johnson spent time in intensive care and was monitored health-wise. As he gets back into his routine, he stated that doctors were ready to announce his death in an event that he refers to as a “death of Stalin’-type scenario.” Johnson told UK newspaper The Sun that he required “liters and liters of oxygen.” During hospitalization, the Prime Minister kept asking himself: “How am I going to get out of this?” In other news, Johnson and his wife recently named their newborn son Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas Johnson. The “Nicholas” in this full name is chosen in honor of a doctor who helped aid Johnson.

Before we dive into our main topics, here’s a conglomerate of news that I ought to share because it can be packaged into a little box. While most theaters in the United States seem to have a plan on opening back up in the summer, because nothing’s out until then, some theaters are already opening their doors. For example, in Rhode Island, the Rustic Tri-View Drive-In, located in North Smithfield, is now part of the state’s reopen plan according to Governor Gina Raimondo. As for non-drive ins, Texas has three Santikos theaters reopening with a $5 ticket deal. For the record, this is a third of the company’s locations. Honestly, while it is good news for business that these theaters are reopening, I think it is also good news for health that they are taking it slow. The major chains like AMC and Cinemark still plan on a July reopening, which I think is fine, because it builds up anticipation and there’s nothing really new playing until then. Outside the U.S., Norway is reopening its theaters starting May 7th, capping the limit at 50 people per screening. The movie theater to me is a place beyond the imagination. It’s also a place where I occasionally get to see masterpieces. These masterpieces often get awards, such as Oscars. Speaking of the Oscars, let’s talk about them!

THE ACADEMY CHANGES RULES FOR THE 93RD ANNUAL OSCARS

One of my favorite days of the year is Oscar Sunday. When this crisis first started, I was a little worried that would not even be able to see an Academy Awards show next year, much less get more movies that could potentially be nominated. After all, when you are a studio or crew and cannot come out with your movie, it’s kind of a struggle. However, The Academy may have something planned next year. One indicator of this is them announcing changes to their rules and layout. Most notably, the Academy is putting its traditional rule of its nominees needing to have a theatrical release on hold. Specifically, the rule that a movie must play in Los Angeles county cinemas for at least a week with daily screenings taking place at least thrice. So if you play your movie in cities such as Los Angeles, Burbank, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Glendale, Pasadena, Culver City, or anywhere else in Los Angeles county that may have a movie theater under certain requirements, it could potentially be nominated for an Academy Award. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Academy is making an exception for this year. The following quote is taken from The Academy’s website, oscars.org.

“Until further notice, and for the 93rd Awards year only, films that had a previously planned theatrical release but are initially made available on a commercial streaming or VOD service may qualify in the Best Picture, general entry and specialty categories for the 93rd Academy Awards under these provisions:

  1. The film must be made available on the secure Academy Screening Room member-only streaming site within 60 days of the film’s streaming or VOD release;
  2. The film must meet all other eligibility requirements.”

So this means that films like “Trolls: World Tour,” “Scoob!,” and “The King of Staten Island,” which are either already On Demand or will be dropping towards On Demand soon, are considered eligible for the Academy Awards. Films that barely even got a theatrical release like “Bloodshot” or “The Hunt” also qualify. I’m willing to imagine to some extent that this *may* count a film such as “The Lovebirds,” which was going to theatrically release this year and make a debut at South by Southwest. Although the festival was canceled and Paramount is no longer putting the film out in cinemas. But unlike films such as “Trolls: World Tour,” which is available on platforms including Prime Video, Google Play, Vudu, FandangoNOW, AMC Theatres On-Demand, iTunes, and cable outlets such as Xfinity and Fios, “The Lovebirds” is going straight to Netflix. Given how Netflix has made a major presence at the Academy Awards in past years, films like “The Lovebirds” could be considered eligible, but is the Academy only considering certain platforms? Are exclusive platform deals going to tie in somehow? What about “Artemis Fowl” on Disney+? That movie was supposed to come out this month, but unfortunately that’s not happening.

Also keeping fine print in mind, these rules pertain to films that were once planning on theatrically releasing. So films like Netflix’s “Extraction,” which was intended for a streaming platform, or HBO’s “Bad Education,” which went straight to television, will not qualify. This policy is also not permanent, as the Academy intends to make this only apply for this year’s ceremony, and anticipates an end date in the future when there is a sense of normalcy, not to mention when theaters re-open. However, the Academy is also planning on expanding qualifying theaters to U.S. areas including New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area, Atlanta, Chicago, and Miami. As one who lives fairly close to Boston, I am disappointed, but we can’t have everything, even if sports prove otherwise. By the way, I hate football. I said it.

PHYSICAL MEDIA (and other electronic) SALES GO UP

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Now I imagine some people will flat out not care about this, but to me, physical media is the best way to watch a movie at home. Because when you buy a movie on Prime Video for example, you don’t own it. Yes, you possess the film digitally, but if the service goes down, crashes, or the company behind it closes its doors forever, you’ll probably never be able to watch it again. With physical media, it is all up to you. Now it is not a surprise that we have had more time on our hands to go on Netflix and watch “Extraction,” to flock over to Disney+ and watch “Star Wars,” to jump on over to FandangoNOW and give “Trolls: World Tour” a rent. But what KIND OF surprises me, and I say kind of, is how much of a presence physical media has in this pandemic. According to recent statistics, DVD and Blu-ray players went up 27% during the pandemic. Keep in mind, this is a market that Samsung recently abandoned.

Another thing to keep in mind is that DVD and Blu-ray players, which went up by 27% is not the only winner here, in fact, the increase is not as big as other categories such as TV mounts (41%), printers (61%), and streaming players (67%). So rather than just being a great boost for physical media, it is also a great boost for tech. TVs have been doing well, and so have computers. As for where the actual total of sales for DVD and Blu-ray DISCS stand, that’s another question. Although, based on this quote from NPD’s Tom Baker, that type of electronic may be doing just fine.

“Sales are up as consumers stay at home and look for multiple forms of entertainment. These include DVDs and Blu-ray discs to entertain children while their parents are working, backup access devices if Internet access is challenged by streaming, or simply the consumers’ realization that they may need a physical disc player as an alternative to streaming and either they didn’t already have one or the one they do have needs an upgrade.”

Honestly, in a time like this, I think some people are going to want physical media. Sure, it involves getting up and putting in a disc, but one of the reasons why I am such an advocate for it is the technical side of it. Outlets like YouTube and Netflix have lowered the default quality of content to standard definition. With Blu-ray, the default quality is 1080p, or if you have a smaller setup, it’ll work in 720p. Yes, standard definition is the quality of DVD, which is 480p, but again, I’ll bring up the fact that you have control over your content. Netflix, or more specifically, Warnermedia, is not going to snatch “Friends” away whenever the year ends like they did months ago. If you don’t want it, just sell it and get some money back! Plus, you get all the bonus features which can help you pass the time. I just got the “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” 4K Blu-ray last month, I still need to watch the bonus content! So I still have something to do! Also, what if the Internet goes down? You don’t need any Internet to watch a DVD! If I had to come up with any downsides, maybe it involves a little more activity, but since we refuse to go outside, it could be worth taking a couple steps to the collection and popping a disc in. Or, since places like Walmart sells them, there’s always a chance, given how grocery stores are becoming petri dishes right now, that other people touched the DVDs or Blu-rays and spread their germs, which may not be the most pleasant happening for a time like this. But of course, worst case scenario, you can always order these things online. Although I can also imagine that some people are buying these devices because they have smart capabilities as well, allowing them to contain apps like Netflix, YouTube, and Prime Video.

NO MORE KEANU DAY, BUT HERE’S MORE DELAYS!

One of the actors who arguably was the “winner” of 2019 is Keanu Reeves. His year in acting brought him success through films like “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” and “Toy Story 4.” He did films like “Replicas,” which honestly sucked, but he also became a heavy hitting piece of promotion for the upcoming game “Cyberpunk 2077,” by making a surprise appearance at E3 last year. And honestly, this might have spawned my favorite slice of all the content that went viral on the Internet last year.

In fact this year, the Keanussance is likely going to continue. After all, he is making an appearance in the third “SpongeBob SquarePants” movie in a minor role. The movie by the way for those who don’t know is titled “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run.” Speaking of known properties, Reeves is also going to be reuniting with Alex Winter to star in “Bill & Ted Face the Music.” Although, if you are a fan of one of Keanu Reeves’ most popular franchises, specifically “John Wick,” prepare to be disappointed. “John Wick: Chapter 4,” once scheduled to come out May 21st, 2021, will now be releasing May 27th, 2022, a full year later. Taking the spot of “John Wick” is the “Saw” reboot titled “Spiral,” which was supposed to be out May 15th of this year. Speaking of Lionsgate films, “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” which is a sequel to 2017’s “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” will be hitting theaters August 20th, 2021, as opposed to its prior date of August 28th, 2020. An upcoming horror drama, “Antebellum,” is set to release August 21st, 2020, as opposed to its original date which has already passed, April 24th, 2020.

However, sticking with “John Wick: Chapter 4,” this delay is a particularly interesting one. Not just because it involves a meme-worthy actor and a hit action franchise, but this film was originally supposed to come out the same day as another Keanu Reeves movie. And it’s not some indie film made by a studio like A24 or Neon. It’s not, THANKFULLY, a sequel to “Replicas,” a film Reeves starred in that turned out to be one of the worst films of 2019. It’s “The Matrix 4.” Now if you asked me five years ago about the possibility of a “Matrix 4,” I’d probably toss the idea behind my head. There didn’t seem to be much place else that the story could go. But hey, everything’s getting a reboot and a remake now, so why not “The Matrix?” I honestly don’t know what to expect from it, but the fact that this is a reboot and not a remake pleases me. Nevertheless, both films prior to the delay of “John Wick: Chapter 4” were scheduled to come out May 21st, 2021. The Internet has often called this “Keanu Day.” I will say that the delay of “John Wick: Chapter 4” is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good because it avoids having the crew rush on making the film, but it’s also unfortunate because as a Keanu Reeves follower, I figured it would be fun to go to the theater and do a Keanu Reeves double feature. However, if more good news needs to be said, I should also point out it’s perhaps likely that these films, which by the way, are from different companies, will be marketed to similar groups of people, and maybe both could lose their respective studios money as a result. Both films debuting on their own release dates could not only benefit Lionsgate, who is delaying “John Wick: Chapter 4,” but also Warner Bros., who is responsible for “Matrix 4.” Not everyone has the money and time to go see two seemingly similar movies. While “John Wick” fans may have to wait, this could give Lionsgate a greater chance of creating a “John Wick: Chapter 5,” because what if “John Wick: Chapter 4” doesn’t warrant a sequel after losing lots of money to “Matrix 4?” At least the studio has a “Hunger Games” prequel and “Knives Out 2” potentially coming soon so it’s not like they’ll spend years losing money from here on out.

AMC THEATRES AND REGAL ENTERTAINMENT GROUP BAN UNIVERSAL FILMS

Can I get some popcorn?! Because I’d say it’s time to enjoy the greatest battle in cinematic history, and it’s not even in a movie! Tonight’s fighters are… movie theaters and Universal Pictures! Now, “Trolls: World Tour” is a one of a kind movie, mainly because Universal decided that it should be released directly onto VOD. Universal bragged about the film’s progress so far to the point where they thought it would be a good idea to release more of their films On Demand while also putting them into theaters.

Now, I’m going to have to be very careful here, because several different outlets have reported similar sounding items that might contextualize something different.

The story here begins by bringing the mega-chain AMC Theatres into the mix. AMC Theatres saw Universal’s plan to simultaneously release movies theatrically and at home and responded by saying that they will not play any of Universal’s movies if that’s the case. While a source like The Hollywood Reporter did a story on this and cited from AMC CEO Adam Aron that the company will no longer play any of Universal’s films in its theaters worldwide, one quote from Deadline’s article suggests, also from Adam Aron, that they will not do so “on these terms.” By that, it likely means that AMC will not release Universal’s films if they just follow a simultaneous home video rollout. Keep in mind, it is traditional for films to follow a strict theatrical window. While there have been cases of films like “Black Panther” that you can still see in some theaters while it becomes available at home, tradition has suggested that a movie released for theaters must be out for about ninty days before it comes home. Universal doing a release like this not only ignores the theatrical window, but it also makes the theater potentially lose money because people could just stay home and put the movie on their TV. In fact, movie theaters were against Universal since this pandemic started. While they did manage to have a rather solid idea of making “Trolls: World Tour” a straight to On Demand movie, other studios seemingly have concretely laid out their plans and avoided giving such a last minute notice like Universal appeared to. NATO (National Association of Theater Owners) head John Fithian was against this from day one.

“Only Universal, and only on ‘Trolls,’ did one studio skip the theatrical model and go straight to the home. Universal continues to advertise to consumers that ‘Trolls’ will be released simultaneously to theaters and the home on April 10. And they are lying to consumers. Universal knows that theaters will still be closed on April 10, so unlike every other distributor who must simply delay their releases in that time period, but still understand that theatrical release is essential to their business model, Universal on ‘Trolls’ didn’t make that decision. Exhibitors will not forget this.”

Fithian also shares his thoughts on the current matter of AMC abandoning Universal films with this quote…

“Universal does not have reason to use unusual circumstances in an unprecedented environment as a springboard to bypass true theatrical releases. Theaters provide a beloved immersive, shared experience that cannot be replicated — an experience that many of the VOD viewers of this film would have participated in had the world not been sequestered at home, desperate for something new to watch with their families. We are confident that when theaters reopen, studios will continue to benefit from the global theatrical box office, followed by traditional home release.”

Let me just say that if Universal is planning on releasing “F9” through VOD the same day as in theaters, that might be one of the worst decisions they’ve ever made. People go to those movies because they provide adrenaline rushes, the effect is not as great if watched on a TV, tablet, phone, or computer. This is why before this whole pandemic, I bought opening Thursday tickets. Luckily, I did get my money back. So if all Universal films are never coming to AMC again, it’s going to make it harder for me to review them as AMC locations are easy for me to access. The theater is a huge money-maker for Universal, to have hundreds of screens lost is not a great investment in the long run. People are inevitably going to get back into routines, and part of that routine is the movie theater. It might take awhile for some people, but if you’re someone like me who sees a difference in the experience from watching at home and in the theater, I’m going to choose the theater by a long mile. This is why I want to see “Tenet” in July. Heck, before this all happened, I probably had little to no intention of going to see the remake for “Mulan,” but I’ll show up because I want to support movie theaters.

But just you wait! There’s more! Universal, if you do nothing, cinema chains will double the offer! That’s two cinema chains not playing your movies, for a chance to lose more money! Cineworld, which currently owns the U.S. staple, Regal Entertainment Group, also said that they “will not be showing movies that fail to respect the windows.” So, should Universal continue to release movies On Demand early, Regal, along with AMC, will not be playing those films in their venues. Alternate chains like Showcase Cinemas, Alamo Drafthouse, and Arclight for example have not really said much about this matter. But remember, the theatrical window is a sacred bond of trust. If you’re putting a movie in theaters, chances are you have to follow it or face consequences.

Also, I wonder how much longer this will go on for, because guess what? If you go to Universal Studios Hollywood, you’ll notice on the CityWalk that there is a movie theater that currently goes by the name Universal Cinema. The theater has reserved seating, recliners, a Director’s Lounge, and an IMAX with Laser. By the way, that IMAX is also equipped with a 70mm projector, which if the theaters open back up in time for “Tenet,” will probably be used. Guess who owns that theater? AMC of all possible names! Who knows what is going to happen there?! As for Universal Orlando Resort, they’re safer in this circumstance as they currently have a Cinemark. They had an AMC at one point, but that has now closed. Gotta love drama.

NEW HOME VIDEO RELEASES

First off, it is Tuesday, May the 5th! Meaning it is the day after “Star Wars Day,” AKA May the 4th! For those who have not heard it already, May the 4th be with you and as for today, enjoy your Revenge of the Fifth! With that being said, there’s some new “Star Wars” content on Disney+, including a documentary on “The Mandalorian,” the series finale of “The Clone Wars,” and since we talk about movies on here, one of the new additions is “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” the conclusion to “The Skywalker Saga.” As of now, the full “Skywalker Saga” is available on the service. The only theatrically released “Star Wars” movie not available on Disney+ at the moment is “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” However, the movie is currently on Netflix. If you are wondering when “Solo” will be coming to Disney+, it will be available starting July 9th, 2020. As for what’s coming On Demand, one example is “The Lodge,” which is about a soon-to-be-stepmom who is staying with her finace’s children at a holiday village, where strange events begin to occur. The film is available today, May 5th, on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital. Another film getting such a release on May 5th is “Arkansas” starring Liam Hemsworth and Vince Vaughn. It is the directorial debut of Clark Duke and was supposed to be shown at this year’s South by Southwest Festival. The film is a thriller about two men who live under the orders of a kingpin whom they’ve never met. Unfortunately, a deal goes wrong, meaning they could end up facing harsh consequences. “Arkansas” was supposed to theatrically release on May 1st, the same day that “Black Widow” would have hit theaters had it not been delayed. However, it is now available physically and digitally starting today, May 5th. One more film to avoid skipping over is “I Still Believe,” which is now out on DVD and Blu-ray as of today. The film is based on the true story and journey of Christian music star Jeremy Camp.

Thanks for reading the seventh part of the ongoing series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes!” Happy Revenge of the Fifth, hope all the “Star Wars” fanatics in the world are happily going about their lives and not getting into fights in comments sections, because that’s impossible, right? Also, Happy Cinco de Mayo, on a Taco Tuesday coincidentally! Two days that go together quite well! Also, if you want remind yourself of a simpler time when movie theaters were open, be sure to check out my latest YouTube video where I document my experience of going to see “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” on opening night. Disney has already put copyright claims on it, but I really don’t care as I enjoyed making the video. Also, if you like the video, leave a like, if you want to subscribe, go ahead! Speaking of leaving likes, be sure to check out my Facebook page and immerse yourself to posts much shorter than these while also getting the latest updates from Scene Before! Since we’re still on the topic of likes, be sure to like this post if you’re enjoying the content, and as we’re continuing promotion, why not give this blog a follow either with a WordPress account or your email? I want to know, what is the biggest piece of movie news for you in regards to the COVID-19 crisis this past week or so? Did I miss anything? Also, how did you celebrate “Star Wars” day? Me personally, I started on May 3rd! TBS had a marathon and I watched for hours! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!