Onward (2020): Peter Parker and Peter Quill Cast Spells

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“Onward” is directed by Dan Scanlon and stars Tom Holland (Captain America: Civil War, Spies In Disguise) alongside Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World) as two brothers. These two brothers live together in a magical realm, or more specifically, a magical realm that has increasingly evolved over the years due to advances in convenience and technology. Now that both brothers are of appropriate age, they are able to execute a magical spell that can help them bring back their father for one day. When they are only able to bring part of their father back to reality, the two brothers go on a quest together to figure out how they can get the rest of him back.

First and foremost. It’s good to be back. While we are not back to normal yet, and yes, NORMAL, I’m tired of whatever the “new normal” is supposed to be! It is still nice to talk about a movie that has come out this year without as much distraction towards the greater pain of reality. “Onward” was one of the last movies I saw in a theater before everything ground to a halt. The film started off with a somewhat underwhelming box office performance, perhaps likely due to COVID-19 taking effect, but I did see it opening weekend, so I feel glad to be one of the chosen people. While there were other movies I was looking forward to this year more, many of which I won’t get to see for awhile, “Onward” was definitely one that had my attention. For starters, it’s a Pixar movie. And Pixar, kind of like Marvel Studios or A24, is one of those distributors that always delivers a midas touch. Heck, I even like all the “Cars” movies! I’ll go as far to say that I really enjoyed “Cars 2!” If you want action, that’s a Pixar movie I’d recommend. So even though “Onward” was not my most anticipated film of 2020, it was one that I thought would be at the very least, solid. And that’s what it was. A solid movie. As much as I make fun of Disney for their business practices, which work for them even though I don’t fully support them, I will forever love Pixar, which might be the mega-corporation’s greatest asset in terms of quality. Over the years, a lot of their films have been well-written, conceptually creative, and of course, beautifully animated. Especially over recent years, even if one of their films was never in my top 5 from them, I would not deny the amount of work that must have been put into those films to make them family-friendly, while also trying to keep not just kids, but adults interested. Even though I was, and I hate to say it, disappointed, with their late 2017 film, “Coco,” it is some of the studio’s finer work in terms of color and animation detail. Even though “Toy Story 4” is probably the worst movie in the series, there is a shot of a cat in that movie that looked like something out of real life. For the record, I saw “Cats” later in the year that “Toy Story 4” came out and none of the cats from “Cats” hold a candle to that digitally animated feline! That’s how much I appreciate Pixar as a studio.

Once again, Pixar does not let me down from an animation standpoint. Everything fits its respective environment, it’s crisp, and the attention to detail is spot on. I saw this film in IMAX and the animated shots of this movie shine on the big screen. I cannot say that it is Pixar’s best technical work, but it is absolutely superb nevertheless. The film is now on Disney+, and I imagine that the film does look pretty good on Disney+, but since movie theaters are starting to reopen, if “Onward” is playing near you, take the opportunity to see it! Because even if the movie is not that great for you story-wise I imagine it will still be fun to look at. It is a film, kind of like recent Pixar entries, that I see holding up for years if you want a tech demo.

As for the screenplay, I think it is at times predictable, but that is also what makes it work in certain moments to deliver a satisfying story. There is conflict in just about every single moment, there’s a good amount of setup and payoff that is done effectively. The playaround and mashup between this fantastical, dungeons and dragons-like sort of environment and our modern lives is undoubtedly entertaining and creative. It makes for some fun scenes and ideas. In a way, it almost reminded me of Disney’s “Zootopia” which came out four years ago. That’s a really good movie by the way! Because that movie took a bunch of talking animals, put them in a world like ours, and while that film more or less was a satire on modern society, it was cool to see a blend of fantasy and reality put together to deliver a fun time.

As for Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, I think both characters are well-written, but when it comes to casting. That is where things begin to become questionable. Now, I will say, Tom Holland as the younger brother is definitely worth keeping. But when it comes to Chris Pratt, I like him as an actor, but I feel like he’s more closer to a father figure than an older brother in this film. That’s just the first impression I got from him. After all in real life, Tom Holland is 23 right now. As for Chris Pratt, he’s 40! Now I know you can get away with a lot more in animation in terms of details, actions, voices, personalities, but hearing Chris Pratt’s voice attached to someone perhaps close to my age is a little bit weird. I’m not saying it’s off-putting, it’s just weird. Both characters are great, serve the movie well, and have likable chemistry, but I just don’t think Chris Pratt was the right choice for the character of Barley Lightfoot. Nothing against him, I respect Pratt as an actor, he’s got decent talent, but I think he was a little bit miscast.

As for Tom Holland, I think his casting was perfect. He plays a teenage boy, and I am willing to bet that due to his marvelous (no pun intended) performance as Peter Parker, that there may be some worries down the road that he may be typecast. Because Holland’s still in his early twenties, and he has tons of charisma that can convince somebody he’s likely able to play an older teen for a while. But nevertheless, when it comes to this animated role, his voice completely fits the character. It’s in this tone that is almost in what I would call a “downer” mood, I just made that up on the spot! I don’t even know what I’d call it! But Holland’s pitch matches his lanky character to a high degree. I will also give props to Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Seinfeld, Veep) and Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, Ma) who also stood out for their fine performances, plus the solid casting on someone else’s part.

Funny thing is, going back to Pixar’s quality, I will admit that I have not checked out all their films yet. I own “The Good Dinosaur,” but I have yet to watch it. I also still need sit through “Monsters University” and “Brave.” When I was at university this semester, I had a screenwriting professor who saw “Onward” and he pointed out that when it comes to Pixar, it’s one of their inferior movies. He also went on to suggest that bad Pixar is better than a lot of movies. He’s got a point. From an animation standpoint, “Onward” is pristine. Story-wise, everything adds up, makes sense from beginning to end. Compared to some other notable animations or family movies that completely rely on immature fart jokes, “Onward” just tries to tell a needed story from beginning to end, which is usually what I go to movies for. And yes, the occasional visual spectacle of “Onward” is a much-desired and satisfying cherry on top of the sundae, but story must come first, which Pixar typically succeeds with, even in cases like this when it is not their finest work. Pixar was supposed to come out with another movie in June, specifically by the name of “Soul,” but that unfortunately has been delayed. Much like “Onward,” “Soul” is an idea that has not been tested out before by the studio. Going into these movies, I am always looking forward to where Pixar takes their characters and its creative concepts. When “Soul” comes out later this year, I will continue to anticipate attention to detail, but at the center, a dang good story.

In the end, “Onward” is a fun ride from start to finish. It is a movie that you can watch with your kids without really feeling the need to tune much of anything out. Pixar’s always had that intention and plan of execution in mind. I remember the first time I saw “Up” in the theater, and years later, my dad and I still remember the movie, and if I’m not mistaken, he’d probably watch it again if it were in front of him. Would I watch “Onward” again? Probably. Maybe not right away, but I can see the effort put into this film and that is something I totally respect. I’m going to give “Onward” a 7/10. Fun fact, a 7/10 is honestly a low score for the Pixar brand given their resume. So even though this is one of, and as weird as it is to say, Pixar’s worst movies, I think it is still worth your time. I’d probably rather watch this again than “Coco,” which, was good! But I expected a lot more from it. Maybe one of the downsides of that film is waiting until 2019 to watch this, whereas I watched “Onward” right away. But I could be sticking my feet into hazardous mud here.

Thanks for reading this review! Once again, it’s finally nice to talk about something that is not specifically about COVID-19! I wish I could do this more often. I don’t know if I’ll be doing a part 8 next week to my Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes series, but I’ll have to find out what I’m doing, what kind of mood I’m in, and so on. But if I were to review a new movie, my next one is likely going to be for “The Way Back” starring Ben Affleck. I will say, given how it has been a couple months since I’ve seen that movie, I wonder how much of a challenge it’ll be for me to talk about the film in detail, but that question shall be answered as we cross that bridge. Maybe I’ll rent the movie if I need to watch it again, but I also don’t to waste $5 or $6 for the sake of wasting $5 or $6. These reviews typically regard my first impressions, and I had little intention on changing anything in regards to how I do my blog, but this pandemic did it for me. It took some control away from how I operate everything I do at Scene Before. Or, maybe I’ll soon do my review for “My Spy” which is about to debut on Prime Video. I am officially one of the few that has ever seen “My Spy” in a theater, which I feel pretty lucky for doing. But as of recently, the film changed plans, and instead of getting STX to release it in theaters, the plan is to get the film on Prime Video as an exclusive. Given how very few, if any, sources in the U.S. have even talked about or reviewed the film at this point, it might be necessary to hold that review off for a little bit longer. It’s a truth that is difficult to handle at this point, but what isn’t difficult to handle during a pandemic? If you want to see more great content from Scene Before, give the blog a follow either through an email or WordPress account! Like this post, share it with your friends, show some appreciation for the Movie Reviewing Moron! Also, instead of scrolling across some clickbait articles with misleading information about COVID-19, check out the Scene Before Facebook page and give it a like! I want to know, did you see “Onward?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your LEAST favorite Pixar movie? Why? Would you still consider it to be “enjoyable?” Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019): The Final Word in the Story

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“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is directed by J.J. Abrams (Mission: Impossible: III, Star Trek), who also directed 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” This film stars Daisy Ridley (Peter Rabbit, Murder on the Orient Express), John Boyega (Pacific Rim: Uprising, The Circle), Adam Driver (Paterson, Girls), Carrie Fisher (The Blues Brothers, Family Guy), Mark Hamill (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Batman: The Animated Series), Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina, Operation Finale), Anthony Daniels (I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle, The Lord of the Rings), Naomi Ackie (The End of the F***ing World, Lady MacBeth), Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina, American Made), Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Logan), Lupita Nyong’o (Us, 12 Years a Slave), Keri Russell (Waitress, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), Joonas Suotamo (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Solo: A Star Wars Story), Kelly Marie Tran (Adam Ruins Everything, XOXO), Ian McDiarmid (The Lost City of Z, Sleepy Hollow), and Billy Dee Williams (Batman, Dynasty). This film is the conclusion to the sequel trilogy of the “Star Wars” franchise, bringing an end to the now trendily-named “Skywalker Saga” and follows the heroes we have come to know so far as the Resistance is dwindled. Where do they go next? Wherever they can to face off against the First Order one last time.

Oh, and of course… There’s a REAL LIFE plot to this movie too! After the events of “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi,” audiences are divided! Between playing it too safe in one movie and trying to find unlocked paths in another movie, there is no way to impress every single “Star Wars” fan out there! So now it is the job of J.J. Abrams to bring balance to the “Star Wars” fandom and take on the near impossible task of sticking the landing in terms of directing “Episode IX.”

Now, for those of you who have been following Scene Before for some time, I do have to say, I make an effort to provide as little spoilers as possible for every movie review I do. There may be a case where I either have to or want to put in spoilers for one reason or another, but most of the time, I make an effort to be as secretive as possible in regards to the film’s key points that could potentially alter how one would see the movie if it had been revealed to them beforehand. With that being said, this is a “Star Wars” movie. “Star Wars” is a franchise that I would be eternally heartbroken had spoilers for it come my way. I imagine most of my viewers would feel the same way. So let me just say, this is a SPOILER-FREE review. Knowing that I just saw the movie on one of the earliest showtimes the public can access, I am going to raise my shield to avoid all effects from blasters, lightsabers, pistols, force lightning, and if possible (and I’m not saying I am weak-minded), Jedi mind tricks. So without further ado, let’s talk some “Star Wars.”

The “Star Wars” sequel trilogy has been a mixed bag for me so far. I for one LOVE “The Force Awakens.” I’m not gonna lie, it is one of my favorite “Star Wars” movies for sure. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was a movie I was looking forward to, saw in the theater on opening weekend, and walked out of it feeling like I saw the second coming of Christ on screen. Every now and then I’ll walk out of a movie feeling something inside me that made me feel like I leveled up. That was one of them. In fact, it might even be my favorite movie of 2015. Is it a copy paste of the original “Star Wars” movie? Sure, you can definitely bring up that point. But the thing is, the movie did exactly what a film of its kind needed to do. Deliver crowd-pleasing moments, provide stunning visuals, unleash great characters, start something special, and take you away from reality. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was able to do that. I will admit, I liked “Episode III,” in fact I personally admire it much more than most people, but as someone who looks back at the prequels as a slight step in the wrong direction, what Disney and J.J. Abrams did with “The Force Awakens” was exactly what I believe the “Star Wars” community and fanbase needed. Something familiar, but immensely entertaining.

Then we got “The Last Jedi” which was… Mediocre. Now if you have ever read my initial review for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” you’d know I dug it. The reason being is because as much as I enjoyed “The Force Awakens,” I saw it partially as a throwback. But it’s a good throwback, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind movies or media jumping on the nostalgia train, but I wanted something new out of this “Star Wars” trilogy that could separate them from the other two. As good as “The Empire Strikes Back” is, I was afraid that this movie, like “The Force Awakens” did with “A New Hope,” would be a rehash of “The Empire Strikes Back.” However, based on what the movie provided from a story perspective, that did not seem to be the case. The movie made some bold, expectation-subverting choices. While I admire director Rian Johnson for trying to take “Star Wars” in a new direction, it didn’t pay off. Originally, I gave the movie a 9/10 for the steps it took in finding new storytelling paths, but as I thought about the movie more, I dug it less and less. Mark Hamill is GREAT as Luke though, I’ll give the movie that. I will admit, the film is beautifully directed, it’s wonderfully shot, and the visuals are sometimes incredible. But the screenplay is almost the worst in “Star Wars” history. “The Last Jedi” felt like a passion project that ended up splattering in someone’s face. I will admit, as much as I don’t like Johnson’s vision for “The Last Jedi,” I do think he is a damn fine director with the right project. He made “Knives Out,” which is one of the best movies of the year, and I just saw “Looper,” another film he wrote and directed, and it’s nothing short of dope. I would be SOMEWHAT open to him directing another “Star Wars” project, but not writing one.

Now we’re here! “The Rise of Skywalker” is upon us. I will admit, I did not have the most pleasurable thoughts going into it. But nevertheless, I scored tickets for the first show of the film at one of my all-time favorite movie theatres, so the fan inside me felt ready for this experience. I will admit, some of the trailers were really good, and part of me was curious to see how this saga will end (until Disney needs more money and they make Episode X). What are my thoughts on the ultimate story of the “Skywalker Saga?” The top of Mount “Star Wars!” The height of the force! WHAT? DID? I? THINK OF IT?

Well… uhhhh…. It was better than “Cats.”

To be completely serious with you, I really enjoyed this movie A LOT MORE THAN I THOUGHT I WOULD going into it. “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is up there to me with “Toy Story 4” and “Alita: Battle Angel” as one of 2019’s most pleasant surprises. I could honestly end the review by pointing out that against each and every single odd, J.J. Abrams delivered something watchable. But, ending the review here would be boring, and y’all will probably feel cheated, so let’s move on.

Sticking with J.J. Abrams, he was the right choice to direct this film. I love what he did with “The Force Awakens” as mentioned earlier. And I think those who have complained in the past about “The Force Awakens,” specifically about it playing it too safe might dig this movie a little more than that. Granted, this movie relies HEAVILY on nostalgia. There are many iconic themes from John Williams that are brought back, nods to past “Star Wars” films and TV programs, the return of Lando, and Palpatine is even somehow in this movie. But even with that, this movie introduces quite a few new things. I am not exactly going to go into each and every one of them, but they are there nonetheless. In fact, as someone who doesn’t like “The Last Jedi,” I think the thing about it that I at least appreciate is its willingness to take risks. They didn’t pay off, but they are still risks. This movie was able to take me to my happy place, sort of back to my childhood, while also introducing some fresh ideas. Not all of them worked, kind of like in “The Last Jedi,” but there are some that played into how fun this movie ultimately is.

One thing you are going to hear me repeat often throughout this review is that I won’t spoil something, so bear with me here. But I want to mention that without going into much detail, C-3PO had a bit to do with the movie’s story, and I think this may be my favorite 3PO story yet. In fact, 3PO honestly feels like a necessary character for this movie to go on. And even though he has been in just about every “Star Wars” film so far, this may be the first story where I felt 3PO’s presence was required in order for certain events to take place since the original trilogy, or maybe “The Phantom Menace.” I mean, most of his stories since just involved him being in the movie to have a random character be a comic relief (which he was before, but still) or just give some random perspective of what’s going on. Well that, and he needs his red arm replaced. It’s nice seeing him in the prequels and the last couple of sequel films, but seeing him as a core part of the story here is an utter delight, knowing the legacy this character has overall.

As for our main characters, I think Rey, Finn, and Poe, the main human trio we have come to know so far throughout this trilogy are hypnotizing to watch. Seeing them on screen again was a blast, in fact there is a scene early on between Finn and Poe that might be one of the most ridiculously fast-paced and bonkers “Star Wars” moments ever. Without saying much, it involves the Millennium Falcon. Personally, the scenes involving Rey when she was separated from her friends were a bit more fun than those between her friends. Honestly, there are a few scenes between the main trio, not every scene, but there is one that stands out in particular, where I just began to question the chemistry between them. I know that one of the key differences between this and the other two trilogies is that it is the shortest of the timelines. The original trilogy spans about four or five years and the prequels last even longer. This entire trilogy lasts about a year. It’s kind of mind-boggling if you think about it. Even though you have less time to develop these characters off-screen, it still somewhat unfortunate that the movie’s quality suffered as a result.

Speaking of character flaws, let’s talk about some of the newer additions to the movie. I’m not gonna go too deep into the new characters, but what I can say about them is that they sort of make me reflect upon “The Last Jedi.” What I mean is that whenever a new character in that movie is introduced, it takes some amount of time for me to just want them to disappear. The only new character in that film that really brought something to the table for me was the one played by Benicio Del Toro because he seemed to have some hint of swagger to him. I didn’t like Holdo, I didn’t like Rose (who is much better in this movie better by the way), the force kids didn’t really seem to add much of anything. Kind of like that, the new characters introduced to this film were also kind of forgettable. Granted, they’re better than those introduced in “Episode VIII,” but nevertheless. Nobody made me roll my eyes and no one took away my dignity. Even if the new characters were not that great, you could still tell me that they were in the movie for a reason and I’d probably be on your side.

Case and point, Keri Russell’s character of Zorii Bliss. As the main adventurers are in the middle of their quest, they run into this woman, thus leading to an explanation of her past history with one of the film’s other characters. Again, I’m trying to be vague with this review, because knowing some people, they consider minute details spoilers, so I am going to fulfill those people’s wishes. I like her costume design, and I’ll reiterate, she serves her purpose when the movie needs her, but if she was taken out of the movie, I would probably not care all that much. But, movie’s gotta movie.

Speaking of new characters, I also, to my disappointment, didn’t like D-O, the new green droid that was introduced. I am not saying I was highly anticipating D-O to be the scene stealer of the film or anything, but if there was one character that was probably created SPECIFICALLY for this movie just to get somebody out of the house to go buy a toy, this would be the one. D-O is along for the ride, but it’s another one of those characters that could literally be removed from the script and bring no negative effect to the table. Well, maybe except Disney who won’t be making as much money from people who may go out and buy D-O merchandise in the meantime. It would be fine if D-O had more dimension as a character, but there’s barely anything that I could say about D-O that makes him resemble a character full of personality, and full of charisma. You can make the argument that a character like BB-8 was mainly created to sell toys, but the thing is, BB-8 is charming, serves the plot very well, and doesn’t necessarily feel tacked on. BB-8 has basically been a centerpiece to the films he’s appeared in so far, not to mention this entire trilogy. D-O could have been something special, but the somewhat lackluster writing says otherwise.

I also gotta be honest, and I don’t know if I should be entirely surprised, but General Hux has become more of a joke for each movie that he’s in. Here, it’s almost insulting. He starts out well in this film for the most part, and I was entertained when he was on screen, but as the movie gets a bit closer to finishing its first hour, his character does something that honestly got on my nerves. I am not gonna go into detail about what he does, but I don’t know if J.J. Abrams or Chris Terrio or even Colin Trevorrow years back, when he was scheduled to helm this movie, made this decision, but it come off HORRIBLY when delivered on screen. It felt like something ways off from Hux’s personality and it was rainbows and unicorns kinds of impractical. Some people I know have been somewhat displeased with Hux in “The Last Jedi,” a notion I kind of agree with by the way. However, in that movie, I still got a sense of Hux being himself. He still felt like the same character introduced in “The Force Awakens.” It felt like a sligthly natural progression. While Hux is still kind of himself in this film as well, there’s just a moment where I felt dumbfounded as a viewer watching him on screen.

I’ll say this again, Lando’s back! This is something I was personally rather excited for, because I think Lando is one of the many highlights of the original trilogy. It’s hard to list any bad characters from said trilogy, but if there are any, Lando ain’t one of them. How is he in this movie? Well, without spoiling much, he brings some fun to the table, but he isn’t really in the movie all that much. Is that a bad thing? Given the movie’s story structure, I wouldn’t say that’s a bad thing at all, but if you were expecting a Lando extravaganza, you’re not gonna get that. He plays a somewhat minor role in the film, but all of his scenes are watchable and easy to enjoy.

Now let’s get to this one of the most odd yet interesting additions to this film’s cast of characters, Palpatine. Before we go any further, let me just address that people behind this film have stated that it was always the plan to bring back The Emperor. I honestly don’t know if I buy that. I think that’s just a protective statement to avoid turning audiences off. I would have NEVER envisioned The Emperor coming back for this movie, or the sequel trilogy in the first place. Remember that first trailer for the movie? The one they showed at Star Wars Celebration in April? Once I heard Palpatine’s infamous laugh for the first time, I was shivering to my core. It was something so out of left field at the time, that it made my interest meter for the movie go up a couple notches. At the same time however, the more I thought about it, the more nervous I became. I say that because as much as I love the fact that we get to see Palpatine one more time, I was worried that his appearance here would undermine everything in previously established material. Most specifically, “Return of the Jedi,” which may be his most prominent film. Why? Becuase SPOILERS, it’s been 36 years since that movie came out, WHO CARES? He dies. And it’s not just the fact that he dies that I was worried about, I also felt apprehensive because of the way he died. The ending of “Return of the Jedi” is probably my favorite endings of the “Star Wars” franchise (aside from “Rogue One”), partially because the way The Emperor goes out is chill-inducing. Between the powerful score given by John Williams, Vader’s conflict, Luke’s near-death experience, and the massive stakes at hand, it makes The Emperor’s fate all the more meaningful and emotionally satisfying. Seeing the smoke rise from the pit is a feast for the eyes and ears, and I thought that was a fine bow tie for his character. But no, I guess for some reason he’s returned to the party. I was honestly worried for a number of reasons. Two of which I’ll give here. 1. Again, The Emperor died in a way that was satisfying and the way he went out feels like a way that would be difficult to recover from. 2. The marketing seemed to promise Palpatine, but I did not think it was clear as to how much of him we’d be getting. After all, his voice is heard a lot, but I only remember seeing him physically in probably just one TV spot. That and one of the early posters.

So how was Palpatine? Not bad, to be quite honest. There is no way, at least at this point that I could be convinced that Palpatine was supposed to be the endgame the whole time, but inserting him in this movie was surprisingly solid. I mean, you can make the argument that Palpatine’s character being a centerpiece of all three trilogies in some way bring something to the table, but I’m not sure I’d completely agree. Nevertheless, just about any character interaction with him was tense and had my full attention. Ian McDiarmid played him like Slash can play a guitar! I am not going to dive deep into his character because there is a good chance that any effective thing I can say about him would be somewhere in spoiler-territory. I’ll just say this… He doesn’t just feel like a bad guy who wants to do bad guy things. He legit feels like a threat, as he should, and a necessary part of the film’s overall story and conflict. Overall, I dug him being here.

Speaking of things I dug, one thing that stood out to me at the start of the movie happened to be Rey, and the reason for that is because she apparently is kind of the Jedi definition of a showoff. She has these abilities that I think almost no other person in history could ever achieve. I will admit, when I first saw this, I kind of liked it. This new trilogy has shown was in which the force has perhaps evolved so to have this all powerful being is not completely unbelievable. Again, I already said I dug it, such a comment about liking this might almost be irrelevant at this point. BUT… There are a couple moments where I legit thought I was watching a piece of fantastical and far-fetched fan-fiction come to life. There are some things done with the force in this movie that I do not remember seeing much in “Star Wars” prior to this movie. This movie has a point where it becomes seemingly convenient in terms of how the force works. Sometimes it might be cool, maybe even badass, sometimes it just doesn’t work. There’s a moment in particular between Rey and Kylo on a desert that I want to say I like, but the Movie Reviewing Moron part of me wants to question whatever it was I just saw.

Sticking with Rey and Kylo, they have a number of scenes together in the movie, and there are some neat moments between them. Specifically fights, conversations, and more. Although if I had to list a complaint in the movie that might be my biggest of all, it would have to be this one scene between the two of them at the very end. It’s something that starts off as charming and sweet, and then becomes something that continues to piss me off. I have a feeling that if you are under a certain mindset going into the film you might enjoy whatever it is I won’t talk about whatsoever, but it just didn’t work for me.

Continuing off of what I just said, the final half hour to forty five minutes of this movie is full of fan service. Almost in the same way such a fraction of “Avengers: Endgame” was for the MCU. I won’t go into details about the fan service specifically. Some of it worked and some of it didn’t. Listen, that thing that I mentioned pissed me off in the last paragraph, I AM NOT GONNA SPOIL A THING, but if you pay attention, the thing that pissed me off personally is part of said fan service. And having said that, I almost wonder what the people behind this movie were thinking while making it. Keep in mind, while a good number of people seemed to enjoy “The Last Jedi,” I and many others was not really satisfied with it. This movie, in a way, seems to try to give something to everyone. Whether they liked “The Last Jedi,” hated it. Or whether they liked the other “Star Wars” movies, maybe hated those as well, it seems that a lot of time writing the screenplay went into focusing on elements that made other “Star Wars” screenplays what they are, but also what made “The Last Jedi” liked by certain people. This movie, even though it acknowledges the existence of “The Last Jedi,” sort of feels like an apology letter to viewers for “The Last Jedi.” Having disliked “The Last Jedi” myself, I can’t complain too much, but it feels like a script that is supposed to cater to anybody who ever watched “Star Wars” and admired a piece of it. This brings a complication into the mix. There will be things that will inevitably piss off some people, but there will also be things that will floor those same people in a positive way. For all I know, there could be someone out there that loves all things “Star Wars” that might end up liking EVERYTHING in this movie. I’m sure they’re out there.

I do not have all that much more to say about “The Rise of Skywalker,” but I gotta say as an ending to a nine film saga, this is surprisingly satisfying. I was worried that J.J. Abrams wouldn’t stick the landing, I was worried that I would feel unfulfilled for some reason, or the direction in this film will highlight a completely rushed ending. I gotta say one thing though. As much I enjoy having gotten my own opportunity to see an entire “Star Wars” trilogy with both previously established and newly established characters in theaters, I do not know if this film in particular is as fulfilling overall compared to the ending of “Return of the Jedi.” Again, I’m not going to spoil anything, but that film ended on such a note where the characters many of us have come to love got just about everything that they have come to earn. Admittedly, having seen this new ending, I WON’T GO INTO detail, but one character “acquires” something new that hasn’t been acquired yet that combines fan service and pure emotion. It also solves a complaint. What complaint? Not gonna tell ya. If I ever do a spoiler talk, I’ll be sure to bring this up.

Overall, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is entertaining, visually impressive (which shouldn’t be surprising, it’s “Star Wars”), and one more thing I will mention is this, because I feel I should not leave you all hanging without a mention of John Williams kicking ass with his score. I mentioned earlier that his score is heavily reliant on nostalgic themes, but whenever there is a scene that is heavy on said nostalgia or one that really needs a certain mood, Williams is there to bring the goods. I need time to see where I’ll rank this score, but as of now, this is one of the absolute best “Star Wars” scores I have ever heard. Having witnessed comments about this being the last “Star Wars” score from John Williams, I think he went out with an absolute bang. Williams, this world, nor does a galaxy far far away, deserve you. You are a god, enough said.

In the end, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is a flawed, but simultaneously charming finale to a nine film saga that has been going on for over forty years. Once more, I’ll bring up “The Last Jedi,” and I will say even though that film has glimmers of entertainment, it does not feel like a story worthy of the “Star Wars” name. This sequel is a bombastic roller coaster that is worth seeing, especially if you are a fan of the “Star Wars” franchise because I can probably guarantee that even if you end up not liking the movie overall, there will ultimately be SOMETHING to enjoy. But I must say one thing, and this is probably going to piss off some people.

So I have the unpopular opinion, although over the years I have found this unpopular opinion to be a bit more popular than I anticipated, of “Revenge of the Sith,” the finale to the prequel trilogy, being one of my favorite “Star Wars” movies. Another movie which I consider to be just as great is “Return of the Jedi,” the finale of the original trilogy. If I had to be honest, my thoughts on “The Rise of Skywalker” are not that positive compared to my thoughts on the other two movies I mentioned. I liked it, quite a bit in fact. But if I had to give the honest truth, “The Rise of Skywalker” is my least favorite of the three trilogy finales the saga has had so far. Even with that in mind, it’s still good. At the same time though, this does bring up one positive regarding the “Star Wars” saga as a whole, and a negative as well, depending on how you look at it. The finales of all the trilogies make up the one portion of the saga that is entirely positive in one way or another. Keep in mind, I love all the films in the original trilogy, so the beginning, middle, and end all work there. But “The Phantom Menace” was a fail to start off the prequel trilogy, and speaking of prequel failures, I also wasn’t a fan of the middle act of the trio of films, “Attack of the Clones.” Similarly, this most recent sequel trilogy had the disappointing middle entry “The Last Jedi.” The finales all worked, even this one, to my complete surprise. With that being said, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is worth a watch, especially in a big, obnoxious movie theater with fantastic sound, and I’m going to give it a rather high 6/10. As much as I enjoyed the movie, I think a 6 is a fair grade. Would I watch it again? Oh, you betcha. And technically, this film has some of the best sound and visual effects of the year, which isn’t new for a “Star Wars” film. But story-wise, there is an argument to make that even though I love how quick this movie progresses, it almost gets to that point where it becomes rushed. If the newer characters were better and if MAYBE it tried to focus going down one particular path as opposed to catering to a bunch of different demographics, the score could potentially be higher.

With all of what I just said in mind, this movie honestly has notable flaws, not to mention things that piss me off. But this movie is also satisfying overall, and the many positives of the movie tend to outweigh the negatives. It’s not as bad as I thought it would be, and most importantly, it’s better than both “The Last Jedi” and “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” both movies which by the way, I felt disappointed by. I want to thank everyone for giving a great saga of films to remember. I hope various future “Star Wars” projects work out and I am looking forward to the future of the franchise should I continue to tune in. Thanks for reading this review! Next week is the limited release of the all new war film “1917.” It is going to be hitting theaters everywhere this January, but honestly this is a movie that I need to see as soon as possible because I have a feeling that it is going to be one of the best directed and well-shot movies of this particular release year. It comes out Christmas Day, which I’m busy on, but hopefully I can get my butt in a seat as soon as possible. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or if you want greater access to the blog, use a WordPress account. Be sure to like this post and share it with your friends, and check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker?” What did you think about it? Or, now that the three main “Star Wars” trilogies are concluded, which is your favorite? The prequels? The originals? Or the sequels? You know what, here’s another question. How would you personally rank the three trilogies? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Lighthouse (2019): Spill the Beans! This Film Shines as Bright as a Bulb!

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“The Lighthouse” is directed by Robert Eggers (The Witch, The Tell-Tale Heart) and stars Robert Pattinson (Twilight, High Life) alongside Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man, Aquaman) in a film where two men make themselves at home on an island with a lighthouse on it. This is a tale where two men basically go about their everyday lives and eventually have to deal with various happenings, including an enormous incoming storm.

Just want to let everyone know, that I went into “The Lighthouse” having seen at least one piece of marketing, but in reality, I went into the film with my mind containing perhaps as little as I am probably supposed to know. So for the sake of perhaps providing all of you, the viewers who haven’t checked out this film yet, with a proper experience, I am going to be a bit vague in this review, so bear with me here.

OK… I think we are officially getting a taste of awards season by now. We’re starting to get films like “Parasite,” which is SO GOOD by the way. Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit” has been in theaters for a little while. We are coming closer to seeing films like “Ford v. Ferrari,” “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” “Knives Out,” it is legit a fine time to be a moviegoer. And keep in mind, all these movies could suck, I haven’t seen them yet, I don’t want everyone assuming that all these films are the definitions of greatness right now. But staying on this topic, let me just kick off my thoughts on “The Lighthouse” by saying it is one of the year’s most well made films. Keep in mind, this film probably won’t be for everyone, but it is competently shot, terrifically acted, finely directed, and I like the visual choice of presenting the film in both black and white, not to mention in a 4:3 aspect ratio. It sort of reminded me of last year’s “Cold War,” which I mainly admired more for its technical aspects rather than its competence as a product meant to entertain. “The Lighthouse” however, not only looks fine and dandy, but really makes me want to slap a high five to the screen in my theater’s auditorium. Is “The Lighthouse” the best movie of the year? Honestly, no. In fact, I can come up with at least 5 movies this year that I personally enjoyed more than this. In fact, I think this movie, kind of like “Joker” for some people, could end up suffering a little due to a lack of replay value. As I reflect on “The Lighthouse,” part of me is continuously thinking that once is enough. Maybe I’ll buy the Blu-ray, but it’s going to be hard to decide when to watch it again.

At the same time though, like “Joker,” the insanity this movie can provide, especially as it comes to a close, makes it worth sitting through and worth my time. It’s absolutely hypnotizing watching two men perhaps lose their s*it as they are together on an island. I also found the “tall tale” that the movie describes, about killing a seabird, rather compelling, especially considering that it leads to a brutal killing of said creature later on. In that sort of way, it makes me never want to kill a seagull. I mean, I don’t think I ever wanted to in the first place, but still… That’s even if I’m on the beach and it ends up taking all my fast food that I purchased at the snack bar. Maybe in that case I’ll give it a little slap, but I wouldn’t flat out annihilate a seagull the way that one of the movie’s characters goes about doing so. And I think one of the more interesting things about the film that I can point out is that before the seagull death moment, it’s not like the seagull is just an innocent little creature, it looks like a complete nuisance, at least to me. Perhaps an insult to seagulls everywhere. If there were a seagull version of the Donner Party incident, this one would probably be the easiest target because it is a complete jerk to everybody in sight.

Aside from “Joker,” another goto comparison I have regarding “The Lighthouse” would probably be the TV show “Seinfeld.” Maybe I didn’t think about it too much while watching the movie, and maybe some of you who have already watched the movie are looking at me and wondering if an acorn fell on my head. Yeah, “Seinfeld” would usually contain more characters in a single twenty minute episode than this movie does in its entire one hour and forty-nine minute runtime. But regardless of character count, the idea behind “Seinfeld” can easily correlate with “The Lighthouse.” I say so because “The Lighthouse” is definitely entertaining as a story. But it is also about, well, nothing.
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In that sort of way, it can be somewhat easy to tell that “The Lighthouse” is sort of a slow burn kind of picture. Again, it’s about two guys stuck on an island with a lighthouse on it in the middle of a storm. I mean, come on! And just because it is slow, does not mean it is terrible. In fact, I cannot imagine this film in terms of pacing being represented in any other way.

Robert Eggers at an event for The Lighthouse (2019)

I will also say that I am rather surprised to be appreciating this film as much as I am, because this film is directed by Robert Eggers, who also directed one of my least favorite horror flicks of the past few years.

Movie buffs, feel free to take my “Official League of Film Fanatics” card. That’s a thing I just made up, but bear with me here. But if that did exist, let me just tell you that “The Witch” may be one of the most overhyped films of the decade. I know I am not alone, but I really did not like that movie. It wasn’t scary, it was just boring and occasionally annoying. If I had to be honest, it has to be one of the worst films that A24 has ever been involved with. But one thing that is definitely true about that film, much like many others put out by A24, I was able to witness a crystal clear directorial vision. That truth manages to make itself visible in this film as well. “The Lighthouse” is interesting in terms of its vibe, because it is definitely a calm film. That’s how it appears on screen in terms of visuals (although it is interfered by crashing waves, a storm, and a black and white shots). But it is also occasionally bonkers. I could talk about some of the crazy s*it that goes down, but then I’d just be spoiling the experience for potential viewers.

Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson in The Lighthouse (2019)

In the end, “The Lighthouse” was definitely worth my time. I will say, if I sound like I am being more vague than usual in this review, it is because I feel that if you want to go see this movie, I think it is best to go in knowing as little as there is to know as possible. All I can say is, it’s good, it’s insane, and entertaining. That’s all she wrote. If any of you want to go check out “The Lighthouse” in the theater, give it a go. Not the best film of the year, but definitely worth checking out. Between the chemistry of the two leads and the atmosphere this film tends to provide, I’d say you are for something swell. I’m going to give “The Lighthouse” an 8/10. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that over a week ago I just saw the movie “Last Christmas.” I will have a review up for that very soon. And I am not sure what my schedule looks like, but as of now I have passes to the upcoming movie “The Good Liar.” If I get around to seeing it, I will have a review for it. But until then, we’ll just have to see what happens. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email to get notifications in your inbox, or for comment and like access, use a WordPress account! Stay tuned for more great content! If you also want notifications from Facebook, consider liking my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Lighthouse?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite pirate movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Isn’t It Romantic? (2019): When Jack Met Natalie

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“Isn’t It Romantic?” is directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson and stars Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect, How to Be Single), Liam Hemsworth (Independence Day: Resurgence, The Hunger Games), Adam Devine (Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, Modern Family), and Priyanka Chopra (Baywatch, A Kid Like Jake). This film revolves around a woman named Natalie, who we first see in this movie as a young kid watching “Pretty Woman.” In this scene we hear her mother tell her that she’ll probably never see a romantic comedy about her, or she’ll never truly experience a fantasy worth living. Keeping this in mind, she grows up and questions the purpose and value of the rom com. Meanwhile, she eventually gets trapped in a PG-13 romantic comedy and now she has to deal with a new reality she never experienced before. Meanwhile, we as an audience, get to experience a parody that pokes fun at the rom com genre. AND IT F*CKING BLOWS, and I’ll explain why in just a sec!

Romantic comedies are not my preferred genre of film. In fact, the only two reasons why I am reviewing this film is because I found a Blu-ray copy of it at Newbury Comics for $5.99, which is probably the cheapest price this movie could be right now in the United States. Plus, in school, I have to do a project on something that I, a straight white male, happen to find “gendered,” so I figured this was a good opportunity. I almost considered watching “The Bachelor,” which frankly, probably would have been a better idea. Why? Because it’s free! I probably could have found an episode or two On Demand or something and just gotten it out of the way. It involves entitled brats fighting over a flower, but it still wouldn’t mean I’d be typing this crap away! F*ck this reality!

And in fact, speaking of realities, this movie has an alternate reality that’s less s*itty, less of an increasing everyday wasteland, everything is happy go lucky. I have nothing against this reality, except that nothing entertaining happens in it. I’m just going to have you all know, “Isn’t It Romantic?” is PG-13, and because of that supposedly intended rating, it tends to make jokes about how the movie can’t push the envelope to the tenth degree.

Remember that “Family Guy” episode, PTV? The one where the FCC starts censoring real life? One of the big jokes of this film is that Rebel Wilson is in this universe, and while she’s here, she cannot swear, she cannot have sex, and the only way she can enjoy an actual man’s genitalia is by sneaking a peek when the male’s getting dressed or something. “Family Guy” did something like this ten times better. The way the characters in “Family Guy” question this reality (for the most part) and overall the writing there much more clever. Here, it’s like an overstretched “Saturday Night Live” sketch. This is especially true when Liam Hemsworth’s character says “Good morning beautiful,” to Rebel Wilson’s character for the third freaking time in a minute!

Also, guys? Can we just agree that Chris Hemsworth is a much more relevant Hemsworth?

This movie attempts to parody the style and traditions of numerous romantic comedies. There’s the gay best friend who is incredibly hyperactive. There’s the big, hunky billionaire that someone lusts after. The movie has a joke about the lead character having a voiceover moment. I honestly think the biggest problem about a movie like this is that it not only is self-aware, but even the characters in the movie know about the self-awareness that’s ensuing. It kind of makes me feel unintelligent as a viewer!

I cannot say I watched a plethora of parody films, but do you guys remember “Spaceballs?” That’s a parody, but that was never talking down to its audience! The closest thing in that movie to letting the audience know that someone had the knowledge that they were in a parody was during the scene where they show all the merchandise. Oh and let’s not forget, “Spaceballs” is hilarious. The most generous thing I can say about “Isn’t It Romantic?” is that it got a laugh out of me out of at a couple of points, but 99.9% of the moments dedicated to this film have irritated me to no end. I think the fact that the main character has almost no knowledge of how a romantic comedy works made me end up not liking her. Just about every single choice from a screenwriting perspective pissed me off.

And I’ll be honest, I never fell in love with Rebel Wilson as a performer. She’s never been that funny, she happens to be put in roles that don’t exactly appeal to me. Her movies are not usually in my demographic, so therefore I can’t entirely blame her. Although at the same time she was in “Night of the Museum: Secret of the Tomb,” and she just goes to show how this happens to be the worst “Night of the Museum” movie. In fact, I just saw her in a couple Match.com commercials recently and I cannot say that I was happy to see her. They were obviously trying to be funny, not to mention real about the dating game. They failed miserably. I pretty much already established my displeasure with her performance here in “Isn’t It Romantic?,” but like another movie Rebel happens to be in, “Pitch Perfect,” she certainly gives effort in her performance. But for some reason, the execution leads to a result that doesn’t sit well with me. And if Rebel’s character was supposed to symbolize how stupid lead characters can be in these types of movies. Maybe I could understand, but it still made me want to throw up on the Blu-ray copy I bought for this film.

Remember how in the abomination against humanity some like to call “Uncle Drew” there’s a dance sequence? In my review for that film, this is what I had to say about it… “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… THE MOST. POINTLESS. DANCE SEQUENCE. IN HISTORY!”

Now, “Isn’t It Romantic?” fortunately does not have a pointless dance sequence. OK, technically it does, but it doesn’t exactly hurt the movie as much as such a thing hurt “Uncle Drew.” But, ladies and gentlemen, I give you… THE MOST. POINTLESS. KARAOKE SEQUENCE! IN HISTORY!

I cannot recall the last time I got so angry towards a sequence like this. I was in fumes as this happened! I had a bunch of questions! What did this have to do with the plot? How does this benefit the characters? Why is this happening? Granted, it does address an “important” rivalry in the film. But as the scene went on, I thought… WHY?!

As for the movie’s ending, it is perhaps one of the most convoluted things I have seen in recent memory. A lot happens in a few minutes, I feel like there’s not much that I care about, and I continued hating my life. It also tries to tack on this lesson that feels amazingly forced and is a complete twist on almost everything that has been built up. This movie broke me! If I put this movie in my Xbox 360, it might just flash the red ring of death as a sign of begging for mercy.

In the end, “Isn’t It Romantic?” has destroyed every fiber of my being, tarnished my dignity, and it feels like the writers bitch slapped me in the face like I’m on reality TV! And you know what? This may not be my type of movie, but seeing the low IMDb ratings from both genders make me wonder if this movie was for anyone to begin with. “Isn’t It Romantic?” is almost the most anger-inducing movie I have witnessed all year. It might actually be more intolerable than “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” which if you have seen that review, says A LOT. I did not expect to love this movie, but I also did not expect to have the urge to bury it in the ground either. But, it’s time to bury! Good riddance! I’m going to give “Isn’t It Romantic?” a 1/10. Thanks for reading this review! This Tuesday I’m going to be heading to an advance screening of “Zombieland: Double Tap.” I have no idea if I am going to like this movie, if I won’t like this movie, but I enjoyed the first one, so anything’s possible! I’m also interested in seeing Ang Lee’s “Gemini Man” starring Will Smith, and if I have time, I might be able to catch it in the high frame rate edition. It will give me a film to review plus something else to talk about! If you want to see these new movies get talked about, or other great content, follow Scene Before with an email address to get notifications in your inbox. Or, you can use a WordPress account to like and comment on all my posts past or present. While you’re at it, give a like to my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Isn’t It Romantic?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Rebel Wilson movie? Seriously! I need a good one to watch to turn my opinion around regarding her! Please comment to save my life! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

It: Chapter Two (2019): Hiya, Sequel!

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“It: Chapter Two” is directed by Andy Muschietti, director of the 2017 “It” installment. This film stars Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, Interstellar), James McAvoy (Split, Wanted), Bill Hader (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Power Rangers), Isaiah Mustafa (Shadowhunters, Horrible Bosses), Jay Ryan (Go Girls, Sea Patrol), James Ransone (Sinister, The Wire), Andy Bean (Swamp Thing, Power), and Bill Skarsgård (Deadpool 2, Allegiant). “It: Chapter Two” takes place 27 years after its predecessor, specifically 2016. If you have not seen 2017’s “It,” it’s established in that film that the main antagonist, Pennywise the Dancing Clown, wreaks havoc amongst certain individuals every 27 years. In 1989, we were introduced to the Losers Club, a group of mocked teens who unite to conquer their fears and take down the clown. At the end of the movie, the group forms a pact that if Pennywise ever happens to be alive or makes a return, they will meet up to face him once more. After all this time, the adult versions of these characters join forces once again, discuss where they’ve ended up all these years, while Pennywise happens to be on the loose.

If you have followed Scene Before over the past couple of years, you’d know that I talk about a lot of big movies. However, due to a lack of interest or commitment on the subject matter, I never got around to reviewing the first chapter of “It.” I also never watched the version of “It” where Tim Curry plays Pennywise (although I did watch Doug Walker’s Nostalgia Critic review). And one more thing… What was it? Oh, right. I NEVER READ THE BOOK! To this day, I have yet to read a single page of “It.” Movies are more fun, sorry books! I almost avoided any commitment I could possibly have with this movie, but there were certain factors about it that eventually intrigued me. I went to Best Buy one day, picked up 2017’s “It” on Blu-ray, which came with a $8 off sticker for the sequel (which I must have thrown out, like an idiot). I then waited almost a month to watch the movie, and when I finally witnessed what I’ve been missing for the past couple of years, I lost my mind. The main characters are so relatable, so charming, and when you put them together, it’s the recipe for perfection. Ultimately, “It” was a scary horror movie, but above all, an excellent coming of age story.

This brings us to the opening weekend of “It: Chapter Two.” I’ve heard a lot about this movie before I went into the auditorium. I’ve heard it’s got scares, people seem to like it for the most part, the cast is great, especially Bill Hader as Richie. While seemingly liked, it is not perfect, it does have notable problems here and there. And these statements, for the most part, are pretty much on the money. “It: Chapter Two,” from my perspective, is a film that feels as if it is trying to be “Return of the King.” The runtime is nearly three hours, it covers the finale of the written material from the books, and much like “Lord of the Rings,” this movie significantly showcases the power of companionship. Did this movie really need to be three hours? Probably not. I wouldn’t have minded a extended runtime, but it didn’t need to as long as “Interstellar.” I say that because when it comes to the material presented in the three hours of “It: Chapter Two,” a lot of it almost feels tacked on.

Remember “Suicide Squad?” One of the big problems with that movie is that it couldn’t focus too much on the present and instead relied heavily upon various flashbacks that would constantly appear out of nowhere. This movie has a good amount of flashback footage that isn’t off-putting, but pretty exorbitant. It kind of gets to the point where the flashbacks are charming, I guess, but they overstay their welcome.

But when focusing on the present, the characters are in fact the some of the best parts of this movie. It’s nice getting to know these new versions of previously established losers, especially considering how they all turned out to be winners in the very end. Richie became a stand-up comedian, Beverly is a fashion designer, Bill writes mystery novels, etc. I really admire how everyone in the Losers Club, which is appropriately named as it consists of people who were picked on, comes out on top in the end. But it’s not like everyone’s lives turned out to be rainbows and unicorns upon becoming adults. Beverly starts out the movie in an abusive relationship with her husband. Bill, while he seems to be a fine writer, doesn’t seem to stick the landing on his endings. Richie even has a little mishap upon returning to Derry, because he apparently yelled at a fan because he forgot a line he said during one of his gigs. Not everything’s perfect.

And speaking of imperfections, let’s talk about Pennywise. I’m not saying he’s a flawed character or anything, just saying he’s a psychopath. Bill Skarsgård is a f*cking boss in this film! This shouldn’t be too surprising because Pennywise was a standout in the original film. Films like this also remind me of how much fun it is to play a villain. Who wouldn’t want to play a vicious, horrifying killer clown that eats people? Everything about Pennywise was what I wanted out of this movie. The voice, the dialogue, the makeup, the crazy antics, the exploration of lore, whatever was presented was as delicious as pizza! That even includes one or two moments that are a bit heavy on CGI to the point where it is easy to pick up if you look hard enough.

But I will say, I don’t know if this movie will end up having the same replay value that I think the first one will end up having. It’s a bit early to say since I just saw this film on Saturday, plus I waited until last Thursday to watch the original. But if I were alone on Halloween and needed something to watch in the living room while handing out candy to children, I currently much prefer the original. Both films are effectively scary, and in this film, there are a lot of gross, disturbing, and shocking moments to witness. Remember that trailer with Jessica Chastain visiting the old lady? Get ready. That scene where Pennywise is surrounded by black and utters “Hello?” F*cking nuts. And the climax, while a bit extended, is undoubtedly entertaining. But as a story, this film is a tad more convoluted and a bit more poorly paced compared to the original. The original has a bit of an advantage due to the shorter runtime, but I can live with films going past three hours (which this one almost does). With that being said however, everything in those three hours has to matter, or be something that I as an audience member can care about, and unfortunately, that’s not the case for everything presented in that time.

Also, speaking of time, the ending takes FOREVER to fully establish itself. There are like two, three, four, perhaps even five or six points during the climax where the movie could stop, and wrap itself in a bow that is satisfying. Unfortunately, it goes ahead and says “Look at me, I’m ‘It: Chapter Two!’ There’s no stopping me now! Ha ha! Yeah!” And it’s kind of unfortunate because 2019, in my view, has not been the all-time best year for movies, but if there is one thing that stands out this year compared to others, it’s the eternal positive impact many endings will have on me as a viewer. We’ve had “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” “Avengers: Endgame,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “Ready or Not,” and “Toy Story 4.” All of these movies have magnificent final moments that I will perhaps forever appreciate. The ending of “It: Chapter Two” tries as hard as it can to leave a big impact, and I imagine for a chunk of people, it will. However, for me, I was appreciative of what was happening, while also hoping to get out of my chair because I feel like I have seen more than enough. It wasn’t like Pennywise bit my arm or anything, but it was like I was in line in a crowded Burger King or something.

In the end, “It: Chapter Two” is dark and gorey, but part of the mess associated with this movie is the less than pleasant pacing. The characters are great, the transitions they seem to make from teens to adults make sense for the most part. I find it a tad interesting that Ben is much more physically fit as an adult compared to how he was as teen, but Tom Brady is still winning Super Bowls, so anything can happen if you put your mind to it. If the movie were at least ten or so minutes shorter, perhaps fifteen, I think the pacing would be fair and square. But just because the movie is a bit sloppy on pacing, doesn’t mean it wasn’t enjoyable. So with that being said, I’m going to give “It: Chapter Two” a 7/10. Thanks for reading this review! I have no idea what my next review is going to be, at least for films out in theaters right now. I’m still trying to get my ass to a “Hobbs and Shaw” screening before it’s too late, maybe that’ll be the one I go to next. But I also heard a lot recently about this movie called “The Fanatic,” starring John Travolta. It’s not a big moneymaker, nor is it playing at too many cinemas, but I’m hearing a lot about this movie. It even got a Hilariocity Review from YouTuber Chris Stuckmann! And this film looks like it could be the next “The Room.” Perhaps even better than “The Room” in terms of how enjoyable yet horrible it really is. It’s available On Demand, maybe I’ll rent it, check it out, see what it’s all about, because as of recently, I’ve kind of been dying to see it in order to know what I’ve been missing. If you want to see that review or other great content, consider following Scene Before with an email or WordPress account, tell your friends about the blog, it really helps me out! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “It: Chapter Two?” What did you think about it? Or, did you ever read the “It” book? Is it better than this movie? Is it better than the Tim Curry “It?” Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

CON ANNOUNCEMENT: I’m Going to Terrificon 2019!

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! If you have followed my blog over the past couple of years, you’d know that I occasionally cover my experiences at conventions, and the first one I ever did was the annual Terrificon. Therefore, it should perhaps be no surprise that I am returning to the con for the third time in a row! If you have read my recent “halftime” post, you’d notice that one of my announcements for August is my return to this con. But for the sake of tradition, I thought I would provide a preview to this event in depth.

For those who don’t know about Terrificon, it is an annual event held every year in the state of Connecticut. In recent years, the event has taken place at the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, 15 minutes away from its main competitor, Foxwoods. This year, the event returns in Mohegan Sun’s Earth Expo & Convention Center, a venue where the convention happened to be held for the first time ever in 2018, making it one of the earliest events to have occurred in said spot. The con primarily focuses on comic books, comic artists, gaming, cosplay, sci-fi, fantasy, animation, and more. It is organized by Big Fedora Marketing, LLC and Mitch Hallock, who has spent years in design and marketing. They are also responsible for another Connecticut-based convention, CTGamerCon. I have never been, but I have been curious about it for awhile. Per usual, this convention is being held this August, but due to the actions one of the convention’s competitors, they have decided to hold this year’s con on the second weekend of August (9-11) as opposed to the third weekend of August (16-18). Why? Another New England con, specifically Fan Expo Boston, is being held on August’s third weekend instead of their usual spot, which is the second weekend.

Regardless of whatever time it is held, the organizers are definitely promising a fun time. There are multiple recognizable celebrity guests, a number of big comic artists, and tons of shops to visit for all your nerdy needs.

One notable celebrity crew uniting for Terrificon comes from the show “Animaniacs.” This con is said to have Rob Paulsen (Yakko), Jess Harnell (Wakko), and Maurice LaMarche (Ralph the Guard). All three guests will be showing up, signing autographs, and doing photo ops. They’ll also have the option to voice record for a certain price. I cannot say whether or not I’ll be meeting all three of these people, but Jess Harnell has recently gotten me curious because I just found out that he did the voice of Crash Bandicoot, the iconic video game character from the 1990s.

Other voiceover related guests include Larry Kenney (SilverHawks, ThunderCats), Tony Todd (Transformers, Justice League), Maile Flanagan (Ice Age, Naruto), and Phil LaMarr (Family Guy, Star Wars: The Clone Wars). Of all these voice actors, I’d be very likely to meet Phil LaMarr, for one thing, he plays Ollie on “Family Guy” and I would love to hear his character “see how things are looking” at the con. But he also played a smaller role in Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction,” which I just watched for the first time and reviewed here on Scene Before. I would probably bring my “Pulp Fiction” Blu-ray for him to sign, maybe chat with him for at least a few minutes, because why not? Depends on the line though…

Although, if I had speculate from here, I am willing to bet LaMarr’s line will be considerably short compared to a guest like Val Kilmer. As some of you may know, he played Batman back in the 1990s when Joel Schumacher’s “Batman Forever” came out. So I am expecting at least one “Bat Nipple” Batman cosplay at this convention. It has to happen. Granted, George Clooney could have shown up and this would probably be much more likely, but Kilmer had the nips as well! But I am somewhat excited for him to be here, that way I have the opportunity to possibly ask some things about “Top Gun: Maverick,” a movie coming out next year that I am really excited for. Unfortunately however, I don’t know if I am going to get to do that, because I have no desire to get an autograph or photo op with Kilmer, especially when looking at the prices that he asks for. But I also looked at the panel schedule for this year and it appears, unless there is not enough specification or I am just completely missing something, there is going to be no panel for Kilmer.

Speaking of “Batman,” another guest related to the franchise, Robert Wuhl, AKA Alexander Knox in Tim Burton’s 1989 “Batman” movie, will also be showing up. However, even though I imagine a lot of people are desiring to stand near Wuhl, I think there is one guest I have yet to mention that will knock some people’s socks off.

BILLY.

DEE.

WILLIAMS.

That’s right, Harvey Dent himself, but much more importantly, LANDO F*CKING CALRISSIAN from the “Star Wars” franchise will be showing up to Terrificon. I would probably bet $1,000, and appropriately so since the con is taking place in a casino, that Billy Dee Williams will have the biggest line for all the con’s guests. He has set himself up as a geek icon! These two franchises are enough to get him some attention at this con. Plus, he is going to be in the upcoming “Star Wars” film, “The Rise of Skywalker,” which will easily generate some attention. I will definitely be going to Williams’ panel, which is being held on Saturday at 1PM. However, I do not think I’ll be getting a signature or photo op. Why? Just look at the prices! For personal items, a signature is $100. For an item at the table that happens to be 8 x 10 inches, it’s $105. For an item at the table that happens to be 11 x 17 inches, it’s $110! Granted, it would be nice to stand in line and make a commitment for Billy Dee Williams, but based on statistics, not only are the autographs expensive, but the website suggests that selfies at the table are not happening, and if you get an autograph, you cannot get a selfie with the purchase.

Plus… I already met him, so I’m good.

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Yeah, we talked back in 2016 when I stood in line for him at Rhode Island Comic Con. I asked how he was doing, he said he had a decent lobster meal recently, I got his autograph, and I showed him something that I thought he might appreciate. Before getting into Billy Dee Williams’ line, I ran into a shop at the con that sold drones. Believe it or not, it’s called Cloud City Drones, which if you know your “Star Wars” lore, Cloud City is the city where the climax of “The Empire Strikes Back” basically unfolds. I’m not sure if he heard what I said, because I showed him a piece of paper that was essentially an advertisement for the place. But the way he responded, and I’m not saying he’s a jerk, because I’ve seen him, I can say he’s calm and well-mannered, but he said “That’s… Star Wars.” The way I thought he said that almost made it sound like that maybe he thought I wanted to know what Cloud City was, but I got what I wanted so I was satisfied. But that’s not why I am not meeting him again, I just mentioned the whole overpriced autograph thingy. If anything, I’d enjoy talking to him for a second, ask how he’s doing, and maybe remind him that we have met once in the past. But when I already have an autograph from Williams, not to mention one that cost $50 for the signature, plus $8 more for a protector, I just gotta say, “Eh, I’m good.” There are certain celebrities that I wouldn’t mind having multiple autographs from, in fact, there has been a case where that has happened for me, but if Williams’ signature were cheaper, chances are I’d jump in line and pay up.

I will say however, when it comes to lesser known guests, there is one that I plan on interacting with at some point. I already met this guy at New York Comic Con last year by coincidence, but I barely got to talk with him. Although since he is on a list to visit Terrificon this year, I am putting out all the stops to meet Robert Franzese, AKA “Real Life Peter Griffin.” If I can’t meet Seth MacFarlane, this is the next best thing! I am subscribed to this guy’s YouTube channel, he’s hilarious, and I love how implements the “Grinds My Gears” gag into his videos. In fact, when he announced that he was coming to Terrificon, he implemented that very gag! Check out this video below!

I mean, the resemblance is uncanny! I will say, if they are serious about that live-action hybrid “Family Guy” movie and they want a realistic looking guy for Peter Griffin, we have your actor!

One of the things that I have personally noticed about Terrificon is that it is a good con for families, because if you have a child that wants to meet their favorite celebrities, and they are eight years of age or younger, they get free admission! That however only includes admission to the con itself and does not apply to any after con activities. But there is a thing that has been around last year called the Aw Yeah Comics Fun Zone. They have numerous guests music artists providing family friendly entertainment, various activities, magic shows, tons of things for kids to enjoy. So if you have a kid and you want to come to this con, why not bring them along? Just make sure you are an adult paying for your own ticket!

But what do kids also like? Games of course! Granted, this is also adult friendly too. This year Terrificon has a list of games lined up for everyone to enjoy. One game that I have noticed was there last year, but I did not play, was “Rock Band 4.” I enjoy “Rock Band” even though I don’t play it as often as I used to, but I’m still questioning whether or not I’d give this game a shot. But one game I will inevitably be playing at the con is “The Jackbox Party Pack.” When I was at this con last year, there was a session on Friday as the con was coming to a close where a bunch of people gathered in a room to play “Jackbox” games. For those who don’t know about “The Jackbox Party Pack,” it is a series of games meant to be played with friends or at parties, and they all have this humorous flair attached to them. Some of my favorite games from the packs include “Fibbage,” “Guesspionage,” and “Trivia Murder Party.” There is a good chance that there will be a decent crowd joining in to play these games, which will definitely make the experience all the more lively. This is all going down on Friday at 7PM, but that is not the only gaming-related event I’m planning to observe, because there are a couple of sessions dedicated to “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” which are being held on Saturday. I’d probably be interested in the second session (singles) because the doubles match is being held at 12PM, which depending on how long it should go on, could interfere with me seeing Billy Dee Williams’ panel.

But for those who also like tabletop gaming, they shouldn’t have to worry about missing out, because there are plenty of sessions involving “Magic: The Gathering.” These are all happening every day at various times. Other games that are to be seen include “Transformers: Turbo Sealed,” “Star Wars: X-Wing,” and “Warhammer: Underworlds.”

Another thing this convention has is after con events. One example is happening at Mohegan Sun’s Cabaret Theatre, where you can see John Barrowman (Arrow, Doctor Who) onstage. According to Terrificon’s site, the event is said to be “filled with spontaneous stories, music, and fabulous fun.” Tickets are on sale at prices ranging from $60 to $100 depending on which tier you select.

If you ever wanted to have dinner with a celebrity, now’s your chance! Because you can sit down with a man who has undoubtedly established himself. He’s a male model, art director, historian, magician, escape artist, musician, illustrator, pop-culture lecturer, publisher, designer, and sideshow fire-eater. I’m talking about Jim Steranko, or as my words probably suggest, the coolest person EVER. Except when he’s eating fire, then he’s flamin’ hot! In the realm of comics, he’s known as an artist-writer behind “S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Captain America,” and “X-Men.” And that doesn’t even cover all of what he has done! The dinner will be held in the Passamaquiddy/Brothertown room in the Sky Convention Center and will conclude with a conversation about Steranko’s life and career. However, tickets are limited and they are $125 a pop. I probably won’t be going because it will coincide with the “Jackbox” gaming session. After all, the event is from 8-12 on Friday.

One thing I must point out in case certain people don’t know, George Perez was scheduled to appear at this convention at a certain point as part of his ongoing retirement tour. He has announced his retirement back in January and soon thereafter, it was leaked that he would be appearing at Terrificon during said tour. However, fairly recently, it was announced that he couldn’t make it and he couldn’t cancel. But fear not, because there are still items up for grabs from Perez. This is suggested on a page from Terrificon’s website announcing Perez’s cancellation.

“We are working with Mr. Pérez to obtain 275 (the same amount of autograph tickets he was going to hand out at the show) limited edition prints that he will sign and ship to TERRIFICON to be handed out to fans on a first come, first serve basis.”

So while there certainly are people, who in my opinion may be understandably upset or disappointed to know that George Perez isn’t showing up, it is also worth noting that the con is still trying to pay respect to the artist as much as they can. While I’m not particularly interested in getting a signed print from him, I do recognize Perez’s importance in the comics industry. He has been involved with both Marvel and DC, he penciled Marvel’s “The Infinity Gauntlet,” he’s responsible for DC’s 50th anniversary event, “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” he rebooted “Wonder Woman” in 1987, and he has worked on several issues for Marvel’s “The Avengers.” He has done more than enough to solidify himself as a comic book icon. I almost wouldn’t be surprised if he starts taking notes from Stan Lee and begins appearing in more comic book movies during his free time. He’s had proper relationships with the big two, Marvel and DC, so it is possible that such a thing could happen. After all, with Stan Lee gone, we need new cameos! Plus, Perez is 65, he’s got a good portion of his life let from the way things seem, and despite how retirement can be fun, maybe he’ll eventually get tired of golfing.

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One last important thing. This is a reminder that the con is occurring at the Mohegan Sun casino, and with that in mind, I am willing to bet a number of guests will be spending time doing much more than going to the con. They may want to shop, stay in the hotel, and grab a bite to eat, so if you want to save some money for activities, I’d recommend taking a gander at this link down below that will provide a bunch of deals for con goers. Keep in mind that certain deals will apply to certain days and some of these won’t even be available on any day of the con. But a deal is a deal, so click the link below to keep things real!

DEALS FOR MOHEGAN SUN ATTENDEES

I am pretty excited to appear at this year’s Terrificon, and I am going to be heading down there with a friend of mine. She got her own tickets, and we are ready to go into the con with the intention of making all other activities look dumb. If anyone knows me, happens to be reading this post, and will be either at Mohegan Sun or the con this weekend, feel free to say hi, but don’t go looking in one of the casino areas because I am not gambling this weekend. The con will most likely be my “money-waster” for these few days.

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Thanks for reading this post! I hope to see you all at Terrificon, and I would like to just remind everyone that days before I go to Connecticut, I am hoping to go see at least one movie. I’m going to be without family for a few days before heading out, I’ll have some free time on my hands, so I may want to kill some of that time by going to see at least one movie. I’m not sure what I am going to see yet, but if things work out, I might do a double feature at an AMC because they have the $5 Tuesdays deal which I often like to take advantage of. After all, there are a decent number of movies that’ll be out that I want to see such as “Hobbs and Shaw,” “Midsommar,” “Crawl,” and “The Farewell.” I also have a couple 2019 movies that I just purchased on Blu-ray that I have yet to watch. Those include “Missing Link” and “Alita: Battle Angel,” so maybe I’ll shoehorn in a review of at least one of those films. Who knows? Maybe I’ll go check out “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” again! By the way, if you have yet to read my review of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” feel free to click the link at the end of the post to expose yourself to the latest piece of work Tarantino has to offer. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, do you have tickets to 2019’s Terrificon? What kind of tickets did you get? What days are you going? Or, since it’s on topic, who is one celebrity that you wouldn’t mind paying a lot of money for more than one autograph or photo op? I’ll go with one I haven’t met yet, so I guess I’ll say Ana de Armas. I loved her in “Blade Runner 2049” and yeah, she’s good looking. I could brag to my pals back at home that she’s my new girlfriend.

I mean, look at her! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD REVIEW

Will STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER Be Shown On IMAX 70mm Film?

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Last year, I created a post asking the following question. Will “First Man” be shown on IMAX 70mm film? The answer, no. This year, there is another movie that I have followed for some time that is making me ask the same question. Specifically, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” Why? Because despite a majority of this decade’s “Star Wars” films getting 70mm IMAX releases, there are reasons to believe that “The Rise of Skywalker,” the final film in The Skywalker Saga, will miss the mark.

When J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” came out in December 2015, that released in a number of IMAX 70mm locations, along with standard 35mm and 70mm theaters. It also was projected on IMAX’s then new laser technology in other locations. While that’s not film based, it is a digital response to IMAX’s film projection. When it comes to being projected in IMAX 70mm, the following locations took action.

US/CANADA

Alabama
McWane Center IMAX Dome Theatre – Birmingham
IMAX, U.S. Space & Rocket Center – Huntsville

California
Hackworth IMAX Dome, The Tech Museum – San Jose

Canada
Kramer IMAX, Saskatchewan Science Centre – Regina

Florida
Museum of Discovery & Science AutoNation IMAX – Ft. Lauderdale
IMAX Dome, Museum of Science & Industry – Tampa

Indiana
IMAX, Indiana State Museum – Indianapolis

Iowa
Blank IMAX Dome, Science Center of Iowa – Des Moines

Missouri
Branson’s IMAX, Entertainment Complex – Branson
St. Louis Science Center OMNIMAX Theatre – St. Louis

Pennsylvania
Tuttleman IMAX, The Franklin Institute– Philadelphia

Washington, DC
Lockheed Martin IMAX, National Air & Space Museum

Texas
Omni, Fort Worth Museum of Science & History – Fort Worth

INTERNATIONAL
LG IMAX, Darling Harbour – Sydney, Australia
The Science Museum – London, England

That’s 15 locations. That is less than the number of seasons of “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy,” “NCIS,” “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” “Real Time with Bill Maher,” “Judge Judy,” “Dr. Phil,” “South Park,” “The Bachelor,” and the combined seasons for “Star Trek: The Original Series,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” also came out in certain IMAX 70mm locations, but the difference between that and “The Force Awakens,” aside from being a spinoff, is that the film was not shot specifically for 70mm IMAX projection. “The Force Awakens” was shot using IMAX branded cameras, and when a number of films were shot using that, IMAX presented the movie having those scenes fill the entire screen. This is true for many of their digital-based locations, as well as those running film. In fact, the film was shot completely in digital using an ARRI Alexa 65. Nevertheless, it still managed to hit 13 IMAX 70mm screens.

Alabama
IMAX, US Space & Rocket Center
IMAX Dome, McWane Center

California
AMC Universal CityWalk Stadium 19 & IMAX – Universal City
Esquire IMAX – Sacramento
Hackworth IMAX Dome, The Tech Museum

Canada
Kramer IMAX, Saskatchewan Science Centre

Florida
IMAX Dome, Museum of Science & Industry

Iowa
Blank IMAX Dome, Science Center Iowa

Indiana
IMAX, Indiana Stare Museum

Minnesota
IMAX Theatre, Minnesota Zoo

Missouri
OMNIMAX, St. Louis Science Center

Pennsylvania
Tuttleman IMAX, The Franklin Institute

Texas
Omni Theatre Fort Worth Museum of Science & History

Granted, this was a starting list. I say so because “Rogue One” was shown in more IMAX 70mm theaters after its initial release, including one in Connecticut’s Maritime Aquarium, which is one of the closest venues of its kind to where I live. When it comes to this specific theater, they managed to do the same for “The Force Awakens.”

Then came “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” directed by Rian Johsnon. Much like its chronological predecessor, “The Force Awakens,” this was partially shot using IMAX cameras. I will say though, personally, I missed out on the IMAX experience for this film when it came out. But based on research, I did not miss much. Why? Multiple sources suggest that the film never had any scenes projected from top to bottom on IMAX 70mm screens. The entire movie was projected in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1, which is conventional in the movie industry. The original IMAX-specific aspect ratio is 1.43:1. “The Force Awakens” had 5 minutes of IMAX footage intact. All five minutes was blown up to fill the brand’s screens. But for those who went to see “The Last Jedi” in IMAX, they may have gotten crystal clear images, but black bars up the wazoo. Turns out, as a matter of fact, IMAX was the only film format in which this movie happened to be presented. No standard 35mm or standard 70mm was available. And if viewers did manage to check out these types of IMAX screenings, chances are they flocked to one of these places.

US/CANADA

Alabama
IMAX Dome, McWane Center – Birmingham
IMAX, U.S. Space & Rocket Center – Huntsville

California
Hackworth IMAX Dome, The Tech Museum – San Jose

Canada
Kramer IMAX, Saskatchewan Science Centre – Regina

Connecticut
IMAX, The Maritime Aquarium – Norwalk

Indiana
IMAX, Indiana State Museum – Indianapolis

Iowa
Blank IMAX Dome, Science Center of Iowa – Des Moines

Missouri
OMNIMAX, St. Louis Science Center – St. Louis

North Carolina
The Charlotte Observer IMAX Dome, Discovery Place – Charlotte

Pennsylvania
Tuttleman IMAX, The Franklin Institute– Philadelphia

Texas
Omnitheatre, Fort Worth Museum of Science & History – Fort Worth

UK
London Science Museum – London

That’s 11 locations. That is less than the number of seasons of “The Big Bang Theory,” “Supernatural,” “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia,” “Criminal Minds,” “America’s Got Talent,” “Ridiculousness,” “Bones,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Face Off,” “The Bachelorette,” “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Dallas,” “Two and a Half Men,” and “Love Connection.”

As for “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” which released almost half a year after “The Last Jedi,” that was not filmed with any IMAX technology. It still released in the IMAX format however, going through a traditional DMR (Digital Media Remastering) process. Here are the theaters that presented “Solo: A Star Wars Story” in IMAX 70mm.

There aren’t any, the film was entirely released in digital formats.

That’s 0 locations. That is less than the number of seasons of “Freaks and Geeks,” “Firefly,” “Clone High,” “Swamp Thing,” “Whiskey Cavalier,” “The Michael J. Fox Show,” “Bam’s Bad Ass Game Show,” “Son of Zorn,” “Bordertown,” “Inhumans,” “Selfie,” “Heroes: Reborn,” “Ghosted,” “America’s Next Best Weatherman,” and “State of Georgia.” FYI, ALL OF THESE got cancelled after one season.

To be honest though, I can’t complain too much because the entire movie was shot digitally on ARRI Alexa cameras.

And when it comes to a good portion of the locations that have played a few of these recent “Star Wars” movies in 70mm, not only are they few and far between, but many of them rarely play Hollywood features. Many of these theaters simply show IMAX-distributed documentaries that are either new or cater to a theme that would associate with a venue. Not to mention, a glaring fraction of these are domes, and while I will say I rarely go to domed IMAX theaters, one thing to point out about them is the 180° style of the screen. With a number of cinema screens, it is sometimes easy to notice a slight curve they can provide, and traditional IMAX screens are no exception. Forget about a curve with an IMAX Dome, it’s practically a boulder sliced in half. Not only do they rarely show Hollywood features, but they also can have a quirky looking image when there are black bars involved. Granted, I have yet to see something like this for myself in person, but from what I’ve seen online, it’s almost weird looking. I almost wonder if it would turn off a good portion of general audience members.

History aside, let’s move onto the present and the future. Despite IMDb’s current claims that this film will be shot with IMAX cameras, no word of mouth from Disney, J.J. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy, etc., has said anything related to such a claim (except this one, based on brief research). After all, I don’t know for sure, it could have been inserted long before, or maybe just as soon as the film happened to be starting production. However, IMDb is also claiming that the movie will be presented in multiple film formats. These include 35mm, 70mm, and IMAX 70mm. By the way, they are also suggesting these were also formats used for shooting.

“Shot on 35mm, 70mm, and 70mm IMAX, this is the third Star Wars film to be shot in the IMAX format, the first film in the franchise to be shot on 70mm film, and the first Star Wars film since Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983) to be shot entirely on celluloid.”

OK, I can buy this movie entirely being shot on film. After all, one of the things that J.J. Abrams wanted out of “Episode VII” was the nostalgia factor, which was partially brought to the table through filming the movie in celluloid, an action that the prequels neglected for the most part. But to be fair, “new technology” sometimes has a ring to it.

As for what technology was used specifically, I think we still need updated information on it. Because when it comes to technical specifications, that is still a mystery kept by those who made this film. Yes, there are articles suggesting a mixture of 35mm and 70mm cinematography in the movie, but many of them are from the end of 2016, a month before “Rogue One” came out. However, perhaps the most credible information I came across was this occasionally updated article as seen on fromthegrapevine.com. For those who are lazy, there is a suggestion via an image that this next “Star Wars” film will be shot in 70mm.

Granted, I highly doubt that this movie will be mostly shot in digital. The past two films in the trilogy have been shot using film for a good portion of the runtime, therefore to maintain a similar feel, Abrams must have said film was the way to go.

And with this information in mind, I will point out that IMAX has a vast history of showcasing movies that were not shot through their technology on their true projection format. The thing is however, that time happened back when the DMR process was starting to get into full swing. With IMAX’s jump into digital projection in 2008, it wasn’t too long before IMAX started getting picky with what films would be shown in their original format. “Rogue One” was a rare exception back when it came out in 2016.

In fact, let’s look at IMAX in 2018 and what they have done with this technology. Unfortunately, IMAX missed the opportunity to put “First Man,” their only new release that year shot with IMAX 70mm tech, in theaters catering to that format. They were shown in IMAX Laser theaters, which is a nice consolation, but having been in both venues for different movies, it’s not the same. The only “new” 70mm experience that came out was a limited 50th anniversary engagement of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Aside from that, there was a 10th anniversary limited engagement of Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” which played around the same time period. There was another movie released in IMAX shot with their technology (Avengers: Infinity War), but that film was shot completely in digital. This allowed a complete fill of the screen in many, smaller, digital venues, but not for the venues IMAX was originally known for.

If you think I am pulling these facts out of my butt, let me just point out to you, I am not. There is a Wikipedia page that lists every single IMAX film that has gone through a DMR process. Yes, Wikipedia is not the most scholarly source of all time, but over the years, this has been pretty reliable for this subject matter.

List of IMAX DMR Films

In fact, if you scour the list, go to the section labeled “2019,” and scroll down to “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” you’ll notice it does not suggest there will be any IMAX 70mm screenings, nor does it say anything about the cinematic equipment. Granted, a lot of the information related to this does not exactly need to be displayed now, the movie does not even release until December. Even with that in mind however, it is slightly concerning. I can live with a lack of IMAX 70mm screenings if it wasn’t shot in that exact format, but if it was, I feel like we are gonna be in a “First Man” situation all over again. Although that movie flopped as far as I am aware so, who knows? It might have been for the best. I enjoyed the movie, in fact it was one of my favorites of the year, but regardless, it didn’t have proper financial legs.

It is perhaps slightly inevitable that “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” will be a financial success. I say SLIGHTLY inevitable, because while a number of recent Disney “Star Wars” flicks made over $1 billion at the box office, the most recent one, “Solo: A Star Wars Story” did not meet the financial standards of films that came prior to it, including the spinoff “Rogue One.” At the same time, it has things going for it. For one thing, it’s the conclusive chapter to The Skywalker Saga, it involves characters we have known for the past two films and even further into the past, Lando is back, and Palpatine seems to be making an appearance as well. It has the potential to win audiences and a portion of the fanbase overall. Well, that depends on how divided said fanbase is by the time this movie comes out, because it’s pretty ugly right now. And even though that ugliness is a thing, there are enough fans in the “Star Wars” community that could potentially show up for a new flick in the franchise.

If you ask me, I think Disney, Lucasfilm, Bob Iger, IMAX, among others would not have minded the idea of releasing the film in IMAX 70mm. Sure, “Solo” didn’t do as well as they would have hoped, but based on how that is a film that not many audiences asked for in the first place, added onto the prior success of films that came before it, they wouldn’t mind releasing the film in an IMAX 70mm format. They’re making more money with the Skywalker films compared to the spinoffs, and let’s face it, audiences care about Rey, they care about Kylo, they care about Chewie, they care about Lando, they care about BB-8. The praise is there, the studio just has to make a decision. Another factor to consider is the transition to go back to how Disney originally released these types of films. Specifically, by doing so in December. This is a good strategy because people are home for the holidays, kids are on break, and with a bunch of Oscar-bait films competing against each other, this blockbuster has a significant chance of standing out.

Do I want to see a reality where we get the opportunity to go check out “The Rise of Skywalker” in IMAX 70mm? I would, but I know it’s not certain. Given my clustered knowledge of how this movie is being shot, I don’t know if it is being shot in the IMAX format, but even if it isn’t, I would be willing to show up for an IMAX 70mm presentation simply because it is the clearest picture in existence. And… Disney, if you are planning on releasing this in IMAX 70mm… PLEASE… Consider releasing it at the Providence Place IMAX. It’s one of the closest true IMAX venues to my house, and one of the best theaters I have ever been to. I will flock there immediately if you release your film there in this specified format.

Am I being an obsessive nerd about this? Probably. Do I care? Hell no! In fact, with all statistics being considered, it makes me worried for the future of how IMAX movies are presented. Yes, we are likely getting Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” in IMAX 70mm next year, but are we simply doing so because it’s a Christopher Nolan film? Is it because of the director’s power in the industry? He’s my favorite director working today, but it’s still a question I can’t help but ask! “Star Wars” is a big franchise. And this latest film is seemingly shot in a big resolution. So why not let us as an audience look at the big picture?

YUP. PUN ABSOLUTELY INTENDED.

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” hits theaters December 20th, 2019. I am looking forward (although I am also slightly apprehensive) to seeing how this sequel trilogy will conclude. I do have faith in J.J. Abrams, especially after the excellent job he did with “The Force Awakens.” It also seems inevitable that I am going to see the movie on opening night, even if I get access to a press screening before the movie hits theaters everywhere. As for IMAX, I don’t care what you do with this movie. If it is shot in your format, release it in 70mm. But based on the popularity of this franchise, consider that sort of release even if this movie was shot in a smaller format. What will happen? I don’t know, only time will tell! Thanks for reading this post! I just want to remind everyone that next week starts the second half of 2019, so I will be creating a mega-post containing a halftime report and a glimpse into the future of Scene Before. Be sure to look forward to that! Also, stay tuned for my second trailer of “Project 2020.” If you have seen one of my posts back in April, you know what I am talking about. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, do you have any thoughts on this “Rise of Skywalker” in IMAX 70mm matter? Or am I just batcrap crazy? Also, are you looking forward to “The Rise of Skywalker?” Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please help me.

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

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

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

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

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

Avengers: Endgame (2019): The MCU’s Lifetime Achievement

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WARNING: The following post is a spoiler-free review for “Avengers: Endgame.” If you came to this post expecting a spoiler talk, go elsewhere. If you have yet to see the movie, you are safe. Why is this spoiler-free? Let’s sum this up in a GIF.

This would be what I’d witness outside my front window should I even provide one single solitary important secret detail about the film. So Mark Ruffalo, Tom Holland, if you guys are reading this, please use this as a guide for your future interviews and press tours. LET’S GET THIS STARTED!

#DontSpoilTheEndgame

“Avengers: Endgame” is directed by Anthony and Joe Russo and stars Robert Downey Jr. (Chef, The Judge), Chris Evans (Gifted, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), Chris Hemsworth (Rush, Ghostbusters), Scarlett Johansson (Her, The Jungle Book), Brie Larson (Room, The Glass Castle), Jeremy Renner (Tag, Arrival), Karen Gillian (Doctor Who, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), Bradley Cooper (A Star is Born, Joy), Don Cheadle (Crash, Hotel Rwanda), Paul Rudd (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Dinner For Schmucks), Danai Gurira (All Eyez On Me, The Walking Dead), with Josh Brolin (Deadpool 2, No Country For Old Men). This film is the sequel to the unbelievably enormous, not to mention, amazing masterpiece known as “Avengers: Infinity War.” Following the events of the film’s climax, the remaining Avengers have to undo the universal effects of Thanos’ snap.

I have to say, when it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there are two sides to my thought process on the franchise. There is one side of me that is a fanboy for this big and loud nerd extravaganza from a story and visual effects perspective, and there’s also another side of me, the movie reviewing moron side of me that says this is some of the most corporate bullcrap I’ve seen. In reality, it depends on my mood and the movie we’re talking about. If you take “Avengers: Infinity War” or “Ant-Man” for example, I grin like an idiot. If we are talking about “Thor: The Dark World” or “Captain Marvel,” I honestly facepalm. And between those two, going into “Endgame,” I thought this was going to be more on the “grin like an idiot” side. The trailers and marketing have been very good so far, they seemed to hide a lot of secrets during my glances, and it all happened to make me very excited for the film, which is the job of marketing. In fact, part of “Infinity War’s” story and conclusion, most likely went into my anticipation for “Endgame.” Basically, a lot was at stake going into this film. If this film sucked, I would probably punch holes in a wall with my bare hands. I wasn’t asking for the best movie ever… OK, maybe I was, I dunno. I wanted to see a compelling, immersive, and emotional experience. And guess what? The movie was good! Yay! My life isn’t over! The only question I still have on my mind is this… How good was the movie? I mean, I would definitely consider it above average, but the fact is, as I continue to think about this movie, I am flipping through possible final verdicts because the reality is there’s a lot to process. And because I am not a dick who will spoil everything, I’ll do the same with my final score and just say that there’s a lot that I’m thinking about. I’m thinking about the way everyone’s storylines were interwoven, I’m thinking about the action, I’m thinking about the technical aspects. Although I will point out, I didn’t see the movie in IMAX, so I cannot talk about how the Russo used IMAX technology in this film to their advantage, although based on what I have seen from “Infinity War,” which I did see in IMAX, I imagine they did a very good job in that realm of the cinematography department.

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The biggest positive that I can give to “Avengers: Endgame” is also one of the biggest positives I can give to “Avengers: Infinity War.” This movie was literally made to be a gladiator-like event. I cheered, I applauded, I nearly cried. In fact, I think I came close to being the most obnoxious person in the entire theater. There’s a moment somewhere in the film that takes a turn that some might find epic, and shortly afterwards, after seconds of cheering, we just cut to another moment where I am in a sold out theater of a tad less than 200 people as I exclaim “YESSS!” This movie is literally the cinematic equivalent of sex, and I’ll show you what I mean.

This movie starts off with an opening scene that simply put, got me in the mood to see what’s next. Practically speaking, it was like lighting a candle. When the title shows up, I went from being in the mood to craving every last drop of this movie. While this movie has many standout moments, including multiple love letters to the previous films that came before it, I would say that the first couple of hours of this movie, which I’ll call the building block hours, were a bit on the slow side. Granted, I don’t mind slow, as long as its good, and this actually was good slow so I will give the filmmakers credit where its due. But nevertheless, it does kind of slip into that territory where there are pacing issues. But it is balanced out by fan service, great looking shots, and even fantastic writing. I think one of the right moves for this film production-wise was getting the Russo Brothers to direct, since they already have background knowledge for “Infinity War.” As far as I know, these movies were shot back to back, which must allowed them to process both films and treat them as one. After all, I remember back when “Infinity War” was announced, it was marketed as “Part 1” and “Part 2.” So in reality, the fact that these two movies play out the way they do is less surprising having “Infinity War’s” background knowledge. And it actually just hit me, because Anthony and Joe Russo have now directed four comic book movies, all of which are in the MCU. Coincidentally, even though not all of them are centered around Captain America, his character manages to make an appearance in each movie they have done. In fact, without giving my grade for this movie, when it comes to the comic book movie genre, they’re probably in the debate right now for “greatest comic book movie director(s) of all time.” For me, I would have to think about that for awhile but based on their batting average prior to this film, I think that notion is certainly in consideration. “The Winter Soldier” is a fun and engaging action thriller. “Civil War” is a great mini-Avengers story. “Avengers: Infinity War” is… the f*cking bomb, by definition.

Sticking to my main point however, this is like riding a roller-coaster (or sex). The beginning is a bit down the fast lane, almost like riding an Amtrak train. Then you trek up the heights, and the movie does that for a long time. Then… the final hour begins. And you begin squealing with enjoyment upon the adrenaline rush you are about to go through. It is literally the geek equivalent of getting the best deals at Target on Black Friday before everybody else. If you have ever seen the movie “Ready Player One,” you know how epic that last big battle was? It was almost like watching that! This is yet another achievement for the Russos, somehow from one movie to the next, there’s always a big battle, and the game is stepped up each time. The climax of “The Winter Soldier” was very compelling and exciting. “Civil War” had the airport fight, which was freaking sick. “Avengers: Infinity War” had the awesome fight on Wakanda where most of the Avengers happened to be present. Out of every throwdown or fight that was done, this was not just the greatest throwdown in the MCU. This is not just the greatest throwdown done by the Russos, it is up there with some of the best action sequences in comic book movie history, not to mention, film history itself.

Remember, “Star Wars: Episode I?”

“It’s so dense. Every single image has so many things going on.”

Yyeeeah… It’s kinda like that, but it’s actually a quality product.

Oh yeah, Hawkeye. Let’s talk about him. For those of you who don’t know, I manage to share a popular opinion with others that Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye is not even close to being the being the best character in the MCU. I mean, what do you expect when your superhero identity is someone shooting with a bow and arrow as the definition of “Generic White Dude?” For years, I have considered Hawkeye to be that “other Avenger” who just shows up. Well, guess what? Forget about that in this movie! Because… HAWKEYE IS AMAZING IN THIS MOVIE! His story, his motivation for being in his current state, everything about him! There is literally not even that much I can say about what happens on screen during “Avengers: Endgame,” but one of the things I can say is that Hawkeye, or in this case, Ronin, changed my perception on his usefulness as character! Let me just remind you of something I said in a post I made last year.

“Sure, you can also make the point that not every Marvel superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe had their own film released before “The Avengers.” Although judging by the time, did you really think putting out a Hawkeye film before “The Avengers” would have gotten everyone flocking to the theater? Everyone would probably go see it now, including me even though I think Hawkeye’s as useless as a rock paper scissors match to determine what time it is.” –What the Heck is Up With Justice League (2017)? *PART 2*

Yeah, I said that. And I would have still gone to see the movie if he sucked, but now I actually would WANT to see a movie with him.

Distracted Boyfriend Meme | RONIN MOVIE REVIWING MORON HAWKEYE | image tagged in memes,distracted boyfriend | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

And by the way, I made a meme, I hope you like it.

Let’s continue this lovely discussion by talking about Thanos, which if you’re unfamiliar with Marvel…

He loves the word “kill” so much that he would do anything to make it the definition for literally every word in the dictionary. He also may be an ass, but he’s pretty f*cking kickass. I think I made it pretty clear in previous posts that I consider Thanos to be the best Marvel Cinematic Universe villain ever. And in this movie, while it doesn’t display him to be as cool as he was in “Infinity War,” he’s still sick. And I will say, part of that may be due to how everyone was motivated to tell this story. “Infinity War,” if you think about it, was a Thanos movie. Yes, it is has Avengers. Yes, it is called “Avengers.” But it’s about Thanos’ quest and the Avengers are trying to stop him. It does not treat the Avengers as the villain, but it makes them feel like they fall into the territory of less important or secondary characters. After all, when you have a large heroic team taking on a guy who must have survived some tragic Purple People Eater massacres, along with his children, not to mention minions, someone has to be the main character. And I think this was a good idea because it allowed every hero in “Infinity War” to have their moment. Now, this movie is about the heroes, and I cared about them more than I ever have before. 22 movies in, I better give a s*it for all of these heroes. And again, Hawkeye… HOW?!

Also, I don’t have much else to say, but if I had to add in anything else I would need to point out Captain Marvel, because she does have her own movie which came out a month ago, but now she is here as a part of the Avengers team. Let me just say, I didn’t have the best things to say about the “Captain Marvel” film, but I kept an open mind going into “Endgame” and maybe things will turn around, which personally, things did. One skepticism I had however was triggered prior to watching “Endgame.” I say so because I found out how Captain Marvel’s scenes in “Endgame” were shot before Brie Larson actually started working on her solo film. It just felt weird to know considering “Captain Marvel” is an origin story and in terms of production, it is done after a big story involving her now established character. I guess there is an excuse to make here because while Brie Larson might have gotten a feel for her character while shooting for “Endgame,” this movie and “Captain Marvel” took place during different time frames. “Captain Marvel” took place in the 1990’s, and this film is a little more modern in terms of its setting. As time moves on, we may change our attitudes, so more I think about it, maybe I should provide some definite leeway to Brie Larson.

One other great part about this film is that it really does feel like as its title suggests, the freaking endgame. I honestly think it is fair to compare the Marvel Cinematic Universe film series to one gigantic TV show. If this were a TV show, it wouldn’t be hard to doubt that this is the series finale. Granted, there are still plans for the MCU after this film, including some TV shows coincidentally, but it really does feel like an end. I know we’re getting “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” I know we’re getting “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” I know we’re getting a “Black Widow” solo film, but if the MCU were to end here and not make a single movie in its series ever again, I’d be fine, because as of now, I feel satisfied.

In the end, “Avengers: Endgame” is a fantastic conclusion to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we currently know it. I got emotional, I got cheery, and I got an epic thrill ride. Despite reading several theories on the Internet, and having various predictions of my own, this movie does manage to have some surprises, kind of like “Infinity War.” And just like “Infinity War,” I won’t dive into a single one of them. And if I had to be honest with you, when I saw “Infinity War,” that was my favorite MCU film. This film is definitely up there with the best, but it is not my favorite. But if you know my typical verdicts for MCU films, you’d know that they are usually above average. In fact, my lowest grade is currently a 4/10, which this movie is not. And I honestly still need time to marinate all of my thoughts on this film. Part of me feels like I need to watch it once more just to provide the best verdict possible. But for now, I really enjoyed “Endgame,” and think its a great finale to a series I’ve been attached to for years. I’m going to give “Avengers: Endgame” an 8/10. The fanboy side of me is saying this film is a masterpiece, but there is that other side of me that remembers the film’s pacing. I don’t mind three hour films, but there are a couple moments, not many, but a couple, where I felt this film’s pacing slow down. Maybe it’s because I was seeing this film at 9PM, which I never do for films in the cinema, but the pacing is worth noting. Nevertheless, I do want to see “Avengers: Endgame” a second time, and buy the 4K when it comes out. We’ll meet again, one day.

Thanks for reading this review! I actually wanted to publish a couple pieces of content before this, but based on timing, motivation, and college finals, it just wasn’t the best time. However, over the next week or so, you guys can look forward to some new content including reviews for “Apollo 11,” “Shazam,” and “Long Shot.” However, I am about to finish my first year of college, which means I’ll have some more time on my hands for this blog and going to see movies. I promise you (at least I’m trying) that I will deliver you some excellent work over the summer! Bring on blockbuster season! Let’s do this! If you’re new around here, be sure to follow Scene Before with a WordPress account or email before I snap you out of existence! I want to know, did you see “Avengers: Endgame?” Stupid question, I know, chances are you did, but still, what did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite series finale? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Avengers: Endgame (2019) Official Trailer 1: You Happy, Marvel Fans? Here’s Your Stinkin’ Trailer! *SPOILERS FOR INFINITY WAR*

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! This has been an interesting week to be a Marvel fan. Not only did we get a “Captain Marvel” trailer just a few days ago, but today we also got our first look at “Avengers 4,” now titled, “Avengers: Endgame.” To be completely honest, I would have been fine not having an official title to “Avengers 4,” and I would have felt the same way about a trailer. Sure, a trailer would be nice, but I want to know as little as possible going into this seemingly epic thrill ride. I would have been fine with maybe a TV spot or two, but I could have done without trailers. I will say though, without giving anything away, I’d say the guys behind the trailer did a pretty good job of hiding all the key details. We get some things we’d come to expect, while not having too much shoved in our faces. Then again, there’s also that part of me that’s thinking… Where’s the juice? This, to me, is ultimately a middle of the road trailer. It does a good job at providing “necessary” material, but there is literally nothing that will set a huge spark get me in the theater. Then again, I am definitely gonna be in the theater to see this opening night anyway, so why should I care? Anywho, on with the trailer.

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We start off by getting a glimpse of Tony Stark being a crazy person. He is now talking to an inanimate object, making him according to my diagnosis, insane. In all seriousness though, Stark is actually sending a message to Pepper, his longtime partner, notifying her that he is adrift in space and everything is starting to become bleak. He’s already run out of food and water, and he is soon going to run out of oxygen. One standout quote from here is “part of the journey is the end.” It’s clear as crystal that Stark is thinking that his last moments are right in his face. He thinks he might not survive long enough to see him and Pepper get married. He’s worried about his own future. No happy go lucky thoughts seem to be coming from Mr. Stark. He soon finishes the message and to make things seem more unhappy, we get a look at his helmet slowly shutting down. How could things get more dark and depressing?

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Oooo-kay! Forget I asked that. Let’s make this purple instead! Because we get a look at Thanos’s armor from the last movie.

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Speaking of which, we sort of get a look at Thanos himself, which if you’re unfamiliar with Marvel…

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…he takes the word dickweeb as a compliment. Because in reality, he’s Marvel’s biggest douchebag stuck inside Adolf Hitler’s asshole. This glimpse of Thanos walking in the fields is pretty much all we see of him. I should also note that his gauntlet, which was part of the fatal snap in “Infinity War,” is now damaged.

Throughout the rest of the trailer we get a look at the rest of our heroes. You have Steve Rogers/Captain America, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow who again, for some reason, has blonde hair, Thor, and Nebula. Also, let’s get a look at this quote from Black Widow.

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“Thanos did exactly what he said what he was gonna do. He wiped out 50% of all living creatures.”

HEY! SPOILERS! YOU JUST RUINED EVERYBODY’S LIVES!

This is where the trailer gets a tad more uplifting. While everyone in these scenes, for the most part, are down or sad, they are trying to talk about how they are going to kill Thanos. They realize they lost the battle, they lost friends, but the war is not over yet. Believe it or not, I was watching a new episode of “The Big Bang Theory” which aired on December 6th. It was a crossover between that show and “Young Sheldon.” We get a look at a high school football game, and a part of that episode showed a “halftime speech” that is supposed to get everybody motivated. The rest of this trailer reminds me of that cliche yet effective motivational speech that a coach would give to his team as an effort to push them all the way to victory. Granted, there is no screaming, no yelling, none of that, in fact, it doesn’t even come as close to being as great as the one given in “Braveheart.” That’s not a sports movie, but if you have seen that movie, you’d understand my point.

Also, we get a look at someone who was not in the last movie.

The mystery person is…

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Eh… whatever. It’s Hawkeye. I’ll be honest, if I had to pick one fellow in the MCU that I really don’t care about, it’s Hawkeye. Just how I feel. I’m looking forward to seeing what he would do in this movie, but from past experience, Hawkeye is just not my favorite character in this universe. I like Jeremy Renner, he’s a good actor, but still.

We soon get to a defining exchange…

NATASHA: This is gonna work, Steve.

STEVE: I know it is, cause I don’t know what I’m gonna do if it doesn’t.

HOLY S*IT.

NOW we know how high the stakes are at this point. Seriously though, that quote is amazing. I can imagine a lot of soldiers who fight in war probably have that thought on the back of their mind. If they don’t succeed, what point is there to life?

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Then we get the logo, and I love how it’s purple, which basically reminds me of how crucial Thanos’ story could be in this movie. The buildup in the music here has some serious chills behind it.

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Then we cut to the only lighthearted moment in the entire trailer. We see Scott Lang/Ant-Man asking to be let in. Steve and Natasha are observing said message with the following dialogue:

STEVE: Is this an old message?

NATASHA: It’s the front door.

Honestly, I’m stoked to see Ant-Man in this movie, and hopefully he can redeem himself after the mediocre waste of time, “Ant-Man and the Wasp.” After all, he has been in a teamup Marvel film before, “Captain America: Civil War,” and he was a standout in that movie to me. Hopefully he will have one or two scenes that can rival his moments in that movie.

Again, I gotta be real, this is not the best trailer I have ever seen. It’s a good trailer, and it highlights what I need to know going into the movie, but I really have nothing much to say except, ah, here’s what I need. There’s no key details that strike as bright as the sun to me, but there are a couple moments that I thought were decent. Overall, I’m looking forward to “Avengers 4,” looking at the Wikipedia page for 2019 in film, it’s one of the films I’m looking forward to. I don’t think it’s my most anticipated film of the year. It’s a competitor, but I’m also looking forward to “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “You Are My Friend,” “John Wick 3,” “The LEGO Movie 2,” “Toy Story 4,” and “Shazam.”

When it comes to predictions, I think a couple stand out in my mind, especially one that suggests Captain America dying. Think about it, back in October, Chris Evans went on his Twitter saying he’s thankful for playing Captain America:

This tweet can have multiple meanings behind it. Maybe Chris Evans realized how big this movie was going to be. Maybe he realized something about his character’s arch. OR, his character his dead, and he realized that this is the last time the audience will ever see his interpretation of said character, and he wanted to show his appreciation to the audience because of that. The directors of “Avengers: Endgame,” Anthony and Joe Russo, suggested recently that Evans is not done. I honestly think that is a stunt to make people happy. I honestly think he’s dead in this movie. In fact, maybe he sacrifices himself for the greater good. Maybe Iron Man or Thor would do the same, but based on how things seem to be playing out at this point, Cap is the most likely to do such a thing.

Although I gotta be real, Iron Man is a close contender to self-sacrifice. What if the fight between him and Thanos on Titan was a foreshadow towards a moment in the future where Tony has to sacrifice himself? Not to mention, if we are getting another “Spider-Man” movie a couple months after this fourth “Avengers” installment, Iron Man dying would play a huge role into Peter Parker’s story. It’ll affect him emotionally at one point or another during the film. In fact, this film, like the last “Avengers” movie, is pretty much a culmination. This culmination all started with Iron Man. Why not have it end with Iron Man?

Also, if we want to talk about death related to story, let’s talk about Thor. In “Avengers: Infinity War,” we start out with Thor and we end with Thor. In the beginning we see a few people, including Thor and Thanos. Thor sees the people he knows die in front of him. At the end, we see that emotionally charged scene where Scarlet Witch is trying to kill Vision for the greater good. Simultaneously, she is trying to defend herself from Thanos. She succeeds at killing Vision, also removing the powers of the stone on his head. But Thanos uses the time stone to get Vision’s stone while it is still working. He wins. Or does he?

BECAUSE THOR IS HERE TO SEND CHILLS DOWN EVERYBODY’S SPINE!

Despite nearly annihilating Thanos, Thor fails once Thanos snaps his fingers. Half of the universe goes away. Sure, Thor was still alive after that moment, but had he aimed for Thanos’ head as opposed to his chest, this would have made a positive mark on Thor’s arch for the film. What if “Avengers: Endgame” ends with a one-on-one duel between Thor and Thanos? This whole combined “Avengers” culmination leads up to where it began. Holy crap.

Plus, when it comes to Thor and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, his part of the spectrum seems to be the one that seems to associate with death all the time. You have Thor’s mother, his father, his brother (multiple times), Heimdall, and maybe even his hammer. Thor is not the god of thunder, he’s the god of mourning. Let’s have Thor die and complete the cycle!

Enough with the predictions, I think I have said all I needed to get out of my pie hole. I can’t wait for “Avengers: Endgame,” it looks like it will be a good time. And I can already tell that everyone will be “undusted,” but if Gamora, Vision, Loki, and Heimdall all come back, screw yourselves! I came to see an epic, I don’t want to be insulted! If there is one complaint I have with Marvel, it’s fake deaths!

STOP IT!

Thanks for reading this post! Right now it is December, so that means that I too, am in the endgame. I’m already gathering some nomination ideas for my first annual awards show, which is supposed to be up sometime early next year. I just saw “Red Sparrow” on 4K Blu-ray the other day, I MIGHT review it, I MIGHT NOT review it, my decision isn’t final yet. I’m also looking for a movie to review this weekend, I might go see “Widows,” but I’m not quite sure yet. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with a WordPress account or email so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see the new “Avengers: Endgame” trailer? What did you think about it? Or, what are your “Avengers: Endgame” predictions? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!