Star Wars Episode IV 4K Blu-ray Contains 2019 Disney+ “Maclunkey” Cut (And Other Thoughts on Star Wars in 4K)

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! As we are cooped up in our homes, I’ve been making more of a habit of buying my Blu-rays online given how we cannot go out into stores and buy them in as easy as a manner as we once could. Yes, Walmart and Target still have them, but those places are becoming more petri dish-like by the second. Best Buy is offering curbside pickup, but that takes the fun out of going into a massive electronics store. However, when surfing on BestBuy.com recently, I picked up some of the new “Star Wars” 4K Blu-rays. Is it a movie I already own? Yes. In fact I own multiple copies of several installments. But who cares? “Star Wars” rocks!

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Just last night, I watched my recently purchased 4K copy of “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope,” or as the old-timers call it, “Star Wars.” But if you are reading this and want to know my thoughts on it, I think the transfer overall is pretty satisfying. The color grading is off and on, but there are several scenes that look very stunning in 4K. The film also comes with Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision. The sound quality is immersive, but also did not seem to come off as too obnoxious.

Although, if you are wondering if Disney has decided to release the same cut that has been put out in recent years, specifically one introduced through a Blu-ray set from 2011, back when 20th Century Fox still owned “Star Wars,” that’s not what has happened.

Yes, a lot of that 2011 Blu-ray is still intact. Some of the changes they have made specifically for that film is in this new 2020 4K edition as well. Between R2-D2 being improbably hidden by so many rocks on Tatooine to Obi-Wan’s introduction sounding more fantastical than the idea of White Castle serving monster-sized hamburgers, those changes, along with others over the years, have survived. But wait, there’s more!

May the maclunkey be with you!

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about. When Disney+ came out less than a year ago, one of the draw-ins for a lot of people was the large “Star Wars” collection, which included the all new series, “The Mandalorian,” and the most up to date versions of a good amount of the older movies. In Episode IV, people began to notice that there was a new change added, and it is as meme-worthy as Elon Musk.

Remember how George Lucas went back and changed the scene in the cantina where Han shoots Greedo, leaving him dead with his head on the table? Well, he did that in 1997, then again in 2004, once more in 2011, and even one more time just last year! The infamous change signifying that Han does not shoot first anymore was just the beginning, because recently they added Greedo’s new line, “Maclunkey,” which has been suggested to be Huttese for “I’ll end you.”

Having seen the new change myself on the 4K Blu-ray, I’m in three different mindsets. First and foremost… WHY? Greedo’s mouth almost moves like a Jumanji-esque vacuum, and the delivery of the line almost feels kind of cheesy. Second, this change, as awful as it is, is simultaneously hilarious. Granted, it would be weirder to have Greedo say something in English given how every other line he has given so far was not in English, but saying maclunkey is kind of like uttering cattywampus, or lollygag, or boobies. It just rolls off the tongue, it’s funny-sounding! And third, this is just yet another reason why I want an unaltered edition of these movies in a modernized format. I don’t know if Disney will have permission from George Lucas or if they just don’t care as long as they get their money, but if I were to show “Star Wars” to my kid one day, I don’t think I’d want him or her to remember the original movie due to the “maclunkey” scene as opposed to the moment where Han shoots Greedo like a boss. As for when the blaster firing occurs, the two fire each other around the same time, kind of like in the 2011 Blu-ray edition.

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There are other changes too, most notably the color palette. From my point of view, when watching “A New Hope,” some of the scenes look kind of pale, but there are some scenes where color stands out and there are not as many occurrences where someone looks like they got sunburned. I will also point out that I saw “The Empire Strikes Back” last night as well. The colors in that movie also look a little darker, but in that movie, I think it works because “The Empire Strikes Back” is a slightly more depressing movie whereas “A New Hope” is a fun, throwback adventure. A lot of the other changes are not that noticeable to the average viewer. There are scenes where colors are corrected to a certain form. Specifically, during the scene where Luke is training on the Millennium Falcon, his lightsaber has been corrected to match an appropriate blue color. The laser bolts fired by the training remote in said scene also had their colors restored to red.

One of my favorite alterations however is one that I don’t know exactly how many people think about. For those of you don’t know, “Star Wars” has a “Digital Movie Collection” that came out in 2015, which features the Lucasfilm logo in the beginning, but the movies have gotten rid of the 20th Century Fox logo. The only film that didn’t do that was “A New Hope” because 20th Century Fox owns permanent distribution rights. As of now, the 20th Century Fox logo is attached to all the older “Star Wars” movies again, which may likely be due to the merger between Disney and Fox from 2019. They use the 1994 20th Century Fox fanfare minus the tagline, “A News Corporation Company.” However, they did update the Lucasfilm logo to match those from “The Force Awakens” and so on. Speaking of restorations, the opening phrase “A long time ago in a galaxy far far away” was restored to the original typeface featured in the older cuts. This is a change from the typeface used in the 2004 DVDs to match the prequels.

If you purchased any of the 4K editions of the “Star Wars” movies, perhaps including ones I didn’t, please let me know your thoughts on them! I already own “The Last Jedi” on 4K, which I will admit the sound could probably be better. By the way, I have the Best Buy Steelbook Collector’s Edition as well. I also own the “Solo: A Star Wars Story” Collector’s steelbook, which is still in the wrap, which may signify that I probably never want to watch the film again. But, the collector’s gotta collect. I also own the 4K Best Buy Steelbook for “The Rise of Skywalker,” which has adequate sound quality and stunning picture quality. I saw the boxset of The Skywalker Saga, but I didn’t get that because it contains movies I already own on 4K, so as cool as it would be to own, I didn’t think it was all that necessary.

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Thanks for reading this post! TOMORROW, ten years return, because we need those ten years now more than ever! It is the return of the original countdown series “Top Movies of the 2010s!” I’m going to be debuting an all new category, THE DISAPPOINTING 25, where I talk about 25 movies that I went into with expectations only to be underwhelmed or let down. If you want to check out the trailer for the countdown, go to the end of this post and see it for yourself! Want to see more great content? Follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the blog’s Facebook page as opposed to getting into fights in the comments section from the latest political post from your local news outlet! If you are going to watch “Star Wars” on 4K anytime soon, may the 4K be with you! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes – Part 4

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is now time for part 4 of the all new Scene Before series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes.” This series describes the recent happenings, or in some cases, a lack of happenings, in the film industry as the world deals with the COVID-19 outbreak.

As usual, we deal with real world matters first. Since Easter was this past weekend, gatherings at churches and homes within one’s collective connections of a family that was commonplace in years past managed to take a backseat this year.

California has recently extended its stay at home order from April 19th to May 15th. Speaking of California, the state recently joined forces with other nearby states including Oregon and Washington in what they call the Western States Pact. The three announced a plan to put health first and deliver a more scientific-based focus compared to a political focus to stopping the coronavirus. The states are still building specific plans for their area, but they are nevertheless working together to stop the spread.

Speaking of which, the northeast portion of the United States is engaging in something similar. Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania are joining forces in their own coalition. So, remember all those requests for Andrew Cuomo to run for President of the United States? That won’t be happening anytime soon, but when it comes to coronavirus matters, he is currently dealing with more than just New York. Speaking of Presidents of the United States…

President Donald J. Trump stated this Monday that he is the one that should have control on opening the country back up. He suggests, “When somebody is president of the United States, the authority is total.” Trump also stated he wants to open the United States back up by May 1st, which close medical expert Anthony Fauci declares is “a bit overly optimistic.”

Just today, Andrew Cuomo referred to Trump this morning on NBC’s “Today,” suggesting “We do not have a king, we have a president.” Cuomo is doing what he can to make sure that the state of New York opens back up at what he considers to be the right time for everyone’s health. While Trump is suggesting May 1st, Cuomo fears that this all-powerful decision made by Trump will lead to “a constitutional crisis like you haven’t seen in decades,” as he stated in MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Speaking of Andrew Cuomo, and somewhat transitioning to movie news a bit early here, he suggested the possibility of making drive-in theaters an exception to non-essential businesses that remain closed. Keep in mind, drive-ins have still been in operation during the ongoing crisis, but it does not mean that there are some that are not in operation, plus there are others that are just closed because it’s not the proper season for a drive-in to be open. Cuomo suggested, “Where is the public safety issue? It’s a drive-in theater. You’re in the car with the same people.” He is not wrong. Drive-ins make for a fun night out while also promoting social distancing. I would not mind drive-ins opening up, but the problem is… What movies are they going to play? Are just going to play “Trolls: World Tour” over and over? Maybe they’ll bring back some classics since there’s nothing else to do.

Going outside the United States, specifically in Wuhan, China, where early cases of the virus originated, the city opened back up after a lively lightshow and countdown declaring the disappearance of COVID-19. Despite the reopening, restrictions still appear to be in place including the closure of schools, shops, and sadly, cinemas. But one thing that has opened is the region’s wet markets. Outsiders are suggesting immediate closure of said wet markets as it serves live animals, including bats, which sources suggest is the reason why COVID-19 spread in the first place.

But of course, we have some movie news to talk about like usual. More delays, more new releases on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital, and some big news involving acclaimed filmmaker Bong Joon Ho (don’t worry, that part is all good news). Also, there’s a big movie that tried something new this weekend, going straight to digital while also having a theatrical release. Before we dive into that, I do want to point out that despite there being a major pandemic, some movie theaters are still open. Keep in mind, many of these theaters are drive-ins. This is now old news, but according to Deadline, 14 movie theaters remained open on the first weekend of April. I also want to point out another article I saw from The Wrap, which suggests that “Trolls: World Tour” played in 21 drive-in theaters this weekend. Even in desperate times, theaters are still active. Speaking of optimistic news, here’s more!

JAMES GUNN SAYS GUARDIANS 3 AND THE SUICIDE SQUAD WON’T BE DELAYED

Usually when I dive into these main topics during the series, I have often emphasized the bad news at hand. A common example is when a major film gets delayed such as “F9,” “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” or “Top Gun: Maverick.” However, it’s about time we get some good news in here and talk about a couple of films that are not being affected by the outbreak, both of which are being directed by James Gunn. To specify, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” which is a big movie, especially since it’s the third consecutive entry to the franchise being helmed by Gunn himself, but also “The Suicide Squad,” which has finished filming in February and is set to release August 6th, 2021. Gunn spent time on Twitter recently taking questions from fans and he had some notable things to say regarding these two films.

Alright, this resembles some decent progress on the film, and it shows that even in a time like this, people like Gunn in the entertainment industry are still working. But let’s see the next tweet.

Keep in mind, “The Suicide Squad” is not set to come out for a bit under a year and half, so there is plenty of time to edit the film, develop a marketing campaign, and lay out all the elements needed for the film’s post-production process. So the film is coming, and should this pandemic fizzle, there is a solid chance that “The Suicide Squad” will be in theaters during 2021. Now what about that other big comic book James Gunn has up his sleeve?

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is not currently listed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s fourth phase, but there have been previously established plans to make the film. Unfortunately, the film was supposed to come out this year, but due to James Gunn’s controversial tweets leaking, his business relationship with Disney was no more and he was no longer attached to direct the third installment to the franchise. Judging by this tweet right here, Gunn still seems to be working on the film, but an official release date seems rather uncertain at this point. IMDb lists it to come out in 2021, but given how Marvel has many other projects going on, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” might have to wait. But “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is nevertheless a film that I will see should I get the chance to witness it come out, so this information pleases me to say the least. I was not the biggest fan of “Vol. 2,” but I am curious to see what Gunn could deliver to this third installment.

MORE MOVIES GET DELAYED

But of course, with good news, comes bad news. In this case, the bad news is that yet another delay is happening. As if Pixar didn’t suffer enough already by having to put “Onward” on digital early, they just pushed back “Soul” to November. Nobody behind Pixar seems to be popping bottles at this point. “Soul” was originally supposed to come out June 19th, but now has been pushed back to November 20th. By the way, this is releasing the same day as “Godzilla vs. Kong.” I honestly have no idea how well that movie is going to do box-office wise, but given Pixar’s name recognition and since there already has been some anticipation towards this film, there could be a chance that “Soul” is the box office champ of the two when it comes to seeing how they play out on opening weekend. The film is directed by Pete Docter, who also directed 2015’s “Inside Out,” which this film honestly reminds me of. Kemp Powers will co-direct by the way. While conceptually different, “Soul” seems to present the vibe of “Inside Out,” not to mention a somewhat similar concept. The film follows a musician (Jamie Foxx) who loses his passion for music. After being transported out of his body, he interacts with an infant soul while trying to return to said body. The film definitely sounds like it could be emotional, which would not be much of a shocker for a film by Pixar. But now here’s a problem for not just this film, but a bunch of others coming out this year. I don’t know if it is just me, but it now feels like November is CRAMMED with popular titles. From “Soul” to “No Time to Die” to “Black Widow.” While I could look at this as a benefit because it likely means this November will be a pop culture haven, it’s also a negative because I imagine some films that could potentially be big will underperform because they are in such a congested schedule. Or to make matters more interesting, November is also a big month for award season, and now there is probably a bigger focus on pop culture titles that might not be awarded much of anything as opposed to what could be nominated for the Academy’s Best Picture in a couple months.

Also, remember how “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run” got delayed to late July? Paramount’s “Infinite,” an upcoming sci-fi flick starring Mark Wahlberg (Transformers: Age of Extinction, Ted), which was originally come out July 31st, has officially been pushed back to Memorial Day weekend in 2021. The film follows a man whose hallucinations are visions of his past lives. I would like to go into some of my past lives at this point just to get away from whatever the hell is going on right now. Think I was done talking about “SpongeBob?” Well I’m not! I say so because the film has been delayed again, but this time only by a week. As of now, “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run” is coming out August 7th.

TROLLS: WORLD TOUR DEBUTS DIGITALLY

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I’ve talked about this news already, but given how this does document a rare incident, I might as well talk about it. Certain movies like “The Irishman” have a limited run in theaters before being put on Netflix, but for “Trolls: World Tour,” the sequel to DreamWorks’ successful 2016 flick, that’s a different story. You won’t be able to find it on Netflix, but you will be able to find it through services including Prime Video, FandangoNOW, and Vudu. The reason, Universal wanted to put “Trolls: World Tour” out on digital the same day they put it out in theaters. This is kind of an unprecedented situation as movies typically start in theaters and there is a waiting period until the movie comes out on digital and DVD. But nope, Universal thought it would be better to just digitally release the film. I have not seen the film, in fact, I have no plans on seeing the film given how I have not watched the original, but others did manage to show up for this new installment. The movie managed to make more through its digital run than “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” did when it debuted digitally. “Trolls: World Tour” managed to make around $30 million according to reports. This is compared to “Fallen Kingdom,” which managed to rack up $2-3 million. Keep in mind, these reports are exclusive to the United States. Also, another thing to keep in mind, that even though many of the purchases were through digital platforms, theaters were open during the initial days of “Trolls: World Tour,” many of which are drive-ins, so it is not like everybody had to be stuck in their house to watch it. Also, while $30 million may be considered successful in this circumstance, the movie cost $90 million to make, so there could be a chance that Universal will lose money over this. Even though a $19.99 rental for 48 hours can cost more than a single movie ticket, the target demographic for “Trolls: World Tour” is families, especially kids. You can take a family of four to the theater and pay double that price to see the movie, maybe even more. It’s also short of what the first movie raked in on its opening weekend back in 2016, which was over $46 million. If this sequel was in theaters, it probably could have surpassed that due to factors such as name recognition. My biggest wonder for “Trolls: World Tour” is how well it will do over these next few days, not to mention next weekend. I say that because, sure, the movie can have excellent debut to rave about. But if we are treating this as the closest thing to a theatrical release we can get, we have to consider how much of a drop it could make this following weekend. Will it make $15 million? $12 million? $10 million? Could it possibly make more this weekend than it did last weekend? Only time will tell. This straight to digital rollout is an experiment if there ever was one, and its chances towards success have recently shown that maybe theaters COULD have been much better for “Trolls: World Tour,” but this is a new way of doing things, and if we are still in this crisis, things could change.

MY SPY GOES STRAIGHT TO PRIME VIDEO

For those of you who don’t know, “My Spy,” the film where Dave Bautista goes undercover and makes a connection with a nine-year old girl, is a movie that has been promoted from time to time by STX here in the states has already released theatrically in select regions including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom. But for the United States, it’s a different story. The film has already had free screenings before it was supposed to come out, one of which I went to in January by the way. But the film has had a rough history when it comes to getting a proper release. “My Spy” was supposed to release on August 23rd, 2019. The film had a trailer put out a year ago, so the promotion and marketing process was getting into gear. However, it was pulled from STX’s release schedule in July. The next release date that was announced for the film was March 13th, 2020. And of course, to get the ball rolling on word of mouth and that sort of thing, free screenings started popping up and I got to attend one of them. But, just in the snap of a finger, the release date changed from March 13th to April 17th. I would imagine that the COVID-19 crisis could be a contributing factor, but I also wonder if STX thought if it would be a better time for the film to release in terms of financial gain compared to competition. Nevertheless, it was just announced on April 8th that the film is now going to be distributed by Amazon Studios and instead of going to theaters, it is going directly to Prime Video. So if you are a Prime member, you are likely going to be able to watch “My Spy” for free on the service.

CBS SCHEDULES SUNDAY MOVIE NIGHTS

CBS is a leading name for television. Their standard channels air daytime staples like “The Price Is Right” and “The Young and the Restless” along with notable shows at night such as “Young Sheldon,” “MacGyver,” and “Mom.” Meanwhile, they have been building a name for themselves through streaming by providing material such as a couple of “Star Trek” original shows and a spinoff of “The Good Wife” known as “The Good Fight” through CBS All Access. But if you get access to the main CBS channel, which I’m sure a lot of you do, one thing you might want to keep an eye on is their schedule for May. Every Sunday, CBS is going to air movies under the Paramount label. This will begin with a movie that is very likely to garner attention, “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” In addition to that “Indiana Jones” film, the network is also airing “The Last Crusade.” Oddly enough, they are skipping over “Temple of Doom.” Other movies to be aired by CBS will include “Titanic,” “Forrest Gump,” and “Mission: Impossible.” This run will last for five Sundays from May 3rd to May 31st. By the way, all the movies are scheduled to begin at 8PM, except for “Titanic,” which will start at 7PM. Earlier on in the series, I discussed that ESPN was going to air movies on Friday nights, said movies are all Disney-owned and focus on sports. One thing that I think would help CBS in a case like this compared to ESPN just a little bit is its accessibility. CBS is a slightly more recognizable channel and unlike ESPN, you can get it on an antenna.

HULU ACHIEVES BEST PICTURE WINNER PARASITE

One of my favorite films of the past year is the Bong Joon Ho-directed masterpiece, “Parasite.” Lucky for me, I own the Blu-ray, therefore I have the ability to watch the film as much as I please through a physical disc. But if you have Hulu, you can consider yourself lucky because “Parasite” is now available on the service. For the record, the film is not the first of its kind to be on Hulu. To be clear, the film was distributed in the States by Neon, which also helped distribute titles including “I, Tonya,” “The Beach Bum,” and “Honeyland.” Films like these have also made it to Hulu. So if you wanted to watch “Parasite” without paying much, just make sure you have a Hulu subscription and you’re good to go. And remember, it won the Academy’s vote for Best Picture, so every film aficionado will tell you that it is bloody important. If you are a little skeptical on watching “Parasite” because it is in Korean, let me just remind you of this quote given by director Bong Joon Ho himself.

“Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”

Speaking of Bong Joon Ho, his 2013 work “Snowpiercer,” which is being adapted into a series set to air on TNT, is coming out for the first time in the United Kingdom on DVD and Blu-ray. The film is set to release on May 25th. It’s one heck of a time to be Bong Joon Ho.

NEW HOME VIDEO RELEASES

Stuck at home? Jack’s here to help! This week for digital has got a few new movies coming your way. For starters, we have “Underwater,” one of the last films to display the 20th Century Fox label. For the record, Disney did complete their acquisition of Fox’s assets during March 2019, but for a little under a year, they kept putting out films like “Ford v Ferrari” that had the studio label that has achieved fame. Although, with the recent release of “The Call of the Wild,” they are now using 20th Century Studios instead. Sticking with “Underwater,” the film stars Kristen Stewart alongside a crew of researchers as their underwater facility is hit with an earthquake. The film is a box office bomb, making $37.2 million on a $50 million budget. It has a 47% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 60% audience rating, so it’s hard to know what exactly you’ll think of it upon first glance. The film is also now available on DVD and Blu-ray if you prefer the physical copy.

“Fantasy Island,” which is based on a TV show of the same name, is now available for digital purchase. If you want to wait for a rental option, that is coming May 12th, the same day the film comes out on DVD and Blu-ray. Keep in mind, the film has a 4.6 on IMDb, which might not be the best of signs.

Also coming out, “The Rhythm Section.” This action flick stars Blake Lively and Jude Law, and is about a woman whose family dies in a plane crash. This woman joins the world of espionage as she seeks vengeance. The film is not out on DVD and Blu-ray until April 28th, but it is available for digital purchase today.

Thanks for reading the fourth part of the ongoing series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes!” Even in the apocalypse, there is one thing I can promise, and that my friends, is content. Maybe not the content that I want to make, but content nevertheless. Last week I said that I’d probably get shoved into an abyss by STX executives if I talk about “My Spy” at this point. So with that in mind, now that it is owned by Amazon and has no official release date, I will probably be shoved into an abyss by Amazon executives, or maybe even Jeff Bezos himself, if I talk about “My Spy” at this point. So what is happening with the movie is clear, but when I will review it, is unclear. Only time will tell. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, is there any big news I missed regarding COVID-19 and entertainment over the past week? Also, since it is appropriate, what are your thoughts on “Parasite?” Personally, I think it is one of the most twisted movies I have seen in recent memory and it is a blast from start to finish. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes Part 3

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is now time for part 3 of the all new Scene Before series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes.” This series describes the recent happenings, or in some cases, a lack of happenings, in the film industry as the world deals with the COVID-19 outbreak.

The spread continues! The United States is still the most affected country by this virus and one can only wonder when collective optimism will set in. What is happening? Masks weren’t safe then but they’re safe now? The New England Patriots sent protective equipment to New York? Speaking of New York, apparently it is just recently reported that the state has suffered its highest death toll yet. Although at the same time, Gov. Andrew Cuomo feels that the decrease in hospitalizations could bring hope. Speaking of hope, the death toll in Italy and Spain seem to be falling.

There’s also continuous talk about about a drug. President Trump is suggesting to use hydroxychloroquine in order to stop the virus. For the record, this is a drug that is used to cure malaria and mosquito bites. Trump has a financial interest in Sanofi, which is a French drugmaker that makes a brand-name edition of the drug. He also suggested that if the drug is combined with azithromycin, an antibiotic, it could be “a game-changer.” However, not everyone is onboard, including expert Anthony Fauci, who has stood alongside Trump from day to day during this crisis. Fauci suggests that there is only “anecdotal evidence” of the drug helping people.

Also, Easter is this Sunday, and given how there are strong recommendations for people to stay home nowadays, there is a high likelihood that family gatherings will be avoided. I often visit relatives out of town on Easter Sunday, but given the current situation, that does not seem to be happening. But, if you live in New Zealand and you have kids that are feeling down, feel free to cheer them up by letting them know that the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, considers the Easter Bunny an essential worker.

As stated in the video, it may be tough for the bunny to get everywhere, but if you want to spread some positivity to your children, here you go. Also, remind them that the Tooth Fairy is essential as well. Although if that Tooth Fairy shows up as The Rock, then reconsider what I just said.

Once again, this has been a rather uneventful weekend for the box office, and one of the biggest concerns as far as box office goes has to do with AMC Theatres, which I’ll get to eventually. But as a continual substitute to the theater, many movies are constantly being dropped onto VOD services early. Some recent highlights include “Bad Boys For Life,” the highest grossing January film of all time, and “Impractical Jokers: The Movie,” which appropriately dropped on April Fools Day. But with physical life in abandonment for the time being, there may be some concerns about big festivals. San Diego Comic-Con, arguably the most important comic convention in relation to film, is still on. However, weeks ago, Cannes, the annual festival held in France, has been postponed from May to sometime in June or July. And it was just announced from festival director Thierry Fremaux that there are no plans to digitally transform the event, suggesting that “it’s a model that won’t work.” And this doesn’t even cover all of the festival news that is relevant for this post. Here’s more!

SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST IS BACK ON (Sort of)

SXSW Conference & Festivals | March 13-22, 2020

One of the benefits of a large gathering like South by Southwest is the ability to mix the intention of interacting with other people, networking, while also putting the idea of entertainment into the mix. In fact, I was going to go to South by Southwest this year, but unfortunately, it got canceled the week I was supposed to depart. I also highly detest the recent actions of South by Southwest, because even though they are allowing people to move their purchased tickets to an alternate date in an upcoming year (which my mother did do for 2021), there is no option for a refund. While I am all for making money, SXSW is the kind of organization to me that purely resembles greed. In fact, they didn’t even cancel their event, the city of Austin did!  However, they do seem to be somewhat sympathetic to their vendors. According to various sources, Amazon Prime Video is going to be digitally showcasing various projects that were supposed to play at the festival last month. All the people behind the projects need to present a fee in order to let their work shine. Keep in mind that the revealing of work that was supposed to be presented in person in front of the masses on Prime is optional, so if you were expecting to see something in particular at the festival, maybe it won’t make it to Amazon’s service. Also keep in mind, if you are planning seeing on these pieces of work, you do not need to pay for Amazon Prime, but you do need an Amazon account. As long as you have that, you’re good to go.

VENICE FILM FESTIVAL DENIES GOING DIGITAL

Last year, the Venice Film Festival honored Todd Phillips’ “Joker” with the Golden Lion, which is the festival’s highest honor. This year, there is perhaps some wonder if it would be a joke to keep the festival running in September. Keep in mind that Italy has the second highest count of COVID-19 cases to date and who knows about a second wave and if that’s a possibility? However, according to Variety, a Venice spokesperson reported “The Venice Film Festival cannot be replaced by an online event.” This is in response to a recent interview between festival director Alberto Barbera and Italian news agency ANSA who said he is not weighing digital options. That by the way, is in response to what is happening with the Toronto International Film Festival, where there is consideration for both physical and digital aspects. At this point, it may be too early to tell given how the festival is about five months into the future. We’ll have to see if Italy is stable by then, and if there is enough reason to keep the festival on in person.

DELAYED MOVIES AND NEW RELEASE DATES

Well, it appears that COVID-19 is doing its own stunts now. “Top Gun: Maverick” has officially been delayed, which honestly disappoints me because it was one of my most anticipated films of the summer. It looked like another one of those films, kind of like the recent “Mission: Impossible” movies, where Tom Cruise does everything he can to nearly kill himself. Instead, the film is now coming out in December, which really has me scared, because this puts my most anticipated film of the year, “Dune” in a tough position. While I have no real idea how much money “Dune” will make, this is giving me the creeps because while I cannot exactly anticipate how well of a marketing campaign “Dune” is going to have, if it weren’t for a nostalgic, somewhat recognizable property stepping in, I figured “Dune” would have a massive chance at succeeding. Plus, I recall early reports of one person suggesting that the footage that has already been seen of “Dune” is on the level that matches “Lord of the Rings” and “Star Wars.” Can the praise get any better than that?! The 2020 adaptation of “Dune” could arguably be the greatest story ever told if the movie matches this previous word of mouth! Although at the same time, I’ll mention it again, as far as this summer goes, “Top Gun: Maverick” is one of my most anticipated films. Don’t think I’m trying to take it out behind the barn and shoot it. If anything, I want the movie to succeed, but I also want “Dune” to succeed. Maybe this could be a case where “Dune” heavily succeeds, thus leaving “Top Gun: Maverick” in the dust, which would also be disappointing. It feels like there’s no winning in this case. Speaking of Paramount films, they are also delaying “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run,” the third “SpongeBob SquarePants” idea that will ultimately be brought to the big screen. The movie will follow the titular sponge as he goes on a quest with Patrick Star to find his missing snail, Gary. Also in Paramount movie news, “A Quiet Place Part II” has a new release date, specifically September 4th, giving it a Labor Day weekend slot. For the record, the movie has already been delayed as of March 12th from its original release date, March 20th, but has not received a new date until now. I am beyond thankful that “A Quiet Place Part II” is not considering the streaming route, because having seen the original installment, it is one of those movies that you have to be in the theater to truly feel its impact. At least that’s what I got with the first one. When I saw “A Quiet Place” a couple years back, it was a highlight in my movie experience journey because it was one of the few movies that FORCED me to be quiet to fully enjoy the product. I could barely chew my popcorn, I almost couldn’t even take as big of sips of my drink as I usually would, it was a one of a kind time at the movies. I’m willing to bet that John Krasinski made “A Quiet Place Part II” with the same thoughts in mind that he had for the first one. SILENCE THE AUDITORIUM AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. I’m looking forward to September, let’s just hope that there are enough reasons to go to the movies by then.

While “A Quiet Place Part II” is sticking to a theatrical release, one movie that I was kind of looking forward to seeing in theaters is no longer going to be there, and will end up heading straight to that tenth streaming service you guys have, Disney+. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about “Artemis Fowl.” For those of you who don’t know, “Artemis Fowl” is based on a book about a 12-year-old criminal mastermind who must find his father while facing underground fairies. I was kind of looking forward to seeing “Artemis Fowl” even though I have not read the book personally. The movie sort of looked like a visual trip, and if successful, could have spawned the next big fantasy franchise. I wonder if this is a sign that Disney may end up throwing in the towel on the franchise before it even starts. After all, the film was made on a $125 million budget, so I guess they were expecting a return of hundreds of millions. The real question is, could the film have broken even? Who knows? I have not heard much word of mouth about “Artemis Fowl” from anybody else, but the trailers do intrigue me. It at least had my attention.

Speaking of Disney+, one of the suggestions people happened to make is to release “Black Widow” early on the service. Quite honestly, I think that is a ridiculous idea that could cost Disney a lot of money, and it seems that we are sharing a thinking cap because Disney has officially pushed back the MCU timeline, and placed “Black Widow” on the November 6 release slot. When I say the MCU timeline, I mean it almost 100%. Every movie that is supposed to eventually come out in the MCU has been delayed except “Black Panther 2.” Even “Captain Marvel 2,” originally set to release in June 2022, is moving up a couple weeks for a new July 8th release during the year. For those who don’t know, “Eternals” was originally supposed to come out November of this year, but having two MCU films come out at once is a little extreme, so now it is coming out February 12th, 2021. At this point, November is looking like a respectable month for popular nerd culture. Between “Black Widow,” a movie that Marvel fans are FINALLY getting to see. “No Time to Die,” the 25th Bond film that is supposed to be Daniel Craig’s final outing as the character. Plus, “Godzilla vs. Kong,” which I am curious to hear more about. I think one of these is going to get bumped to a different release date to guarantee avoidance of being a box office bomb, because November is a pretty big month for movies, and even though there are blockbusters at the time, a lot of focus from those who are heavily invested is going to be leaning towards the Oscar bait films.

As far Disney’s live-action “Mulan” remake goes, that is now coming out on July 24th. Should it get delayed again, I think that is another film that Disney is going to keep in theaters with all their might, because part of the marketing emphasizes the big battles of the film, and those could be stellar to see on the silver screen. The one thing that I think will be diminished though is its IMAX run. Because unless Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” gets delayed and “Mulan” still comes out, “Tenet” is going to have a long run in many IMAX theaters. It was shot on IMAX cameras after all! “Mulan” now takes the place of theme park ride-inspired “Jungle Cruise,” starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, which has now been pushed back to July 30th, 2021. Another big pushback comes from the Lucasfilm side of things, specifically for “Indiana Jones 5,” which is kind of unfortunate because Harrison Ford ain’t getting any younger. At this point with a film like “Indiana Jones 5,” I will believe it when I see it.

Remember how Disney bought Fox? Guess what? Their slate is getting kicked in the ass too! Wes Anderson was supposed to come out with “The French Dispatch” on July 24th, but now it is being pushed back to October. This could be some good news for Wes Anderson as the director behind the film has a history of being acclaimed, and having a unique style to his films. This unique style can be reinserted into everyone’s heads and perhaps bring up a reason for this film to contend for awards. If this came out in the summer, maybe it would have as much of a chance, but keep in mind. Award season pretty much gets into full swing in the fall. Summer is mainly for blockbusters and popcorn movies. Those movies don’t usually rack up the Oscars.

Universal is also in the news, because they recently pushed back Illumination Entertainment’s “Minions: The Rise of Gru.” That film was supposed to come out July 3rd this year, but it has been pushed back to July 2nd of next year. In addition, “Sing 2,” which is a sequel to a well-liked film starring Matthew McConaughey as a mouse who runs a theater, is also getting pushed back. “Minions: The Rise of Gru” is currently sitting where “Sing 2” was originally going to be, but much like the situation I mentioned earlier with Marvel, it could be weird to have two of the same types of movies releasing at once. Therefore, “Sing 2” will be coming out December 22nd, 2021. Keep in mind, the film was supposed to come out this year in December, but was delayed to its previous July spot. Honestly, this delay is not that bad, because the original “Sing” came out in December 2016, and ended up being a hit for Illumination. Maybe this sequel will do the same. Speaking of keeping things in mind, Universal was making a movie based on the popular play “Wicked,” which was set to release in the current spot where “Sing 2” resides. Due to “Sing 2’s” recent pushback, it could be possible that “Wicked” will be out in 2022. By the way, not steering away from animated features, this week is interesting for film, because remember “Trolls: World Tour?” It’s in the middle of its marketing campaign and if you are a parent who wants to torture yourself in order to please your kids, it comes out digitally this Friday, April 10th. Advertisements have suggested that the movie will also be playing in theaters. But the real question is, what theater in the United States is still open at this point? When you are increasingly going to get shamed for not wearing a mask outside, what theater is open?

AMC MAY NOT SURVIVE

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Now I understand that there are more important things in life than film. There’s health, happiness, and safety. Unfortunately, the news makes me feel ill, unhappy, and like I’ll never ever be safe again. If you all know me, you’d be aware that my safe place in life is the movie theater, and one of my regular stops for my experiences happen to be AMC locations. It’s where I often go for my press screenings, as an excuse to use Stubs points, and on occasion, for Dolby and IMAX. Depending on where you live in the United States, there is a solid chance that you have at least one AMC location near you. In fact, I recently went to downtown Burbank, California and they have three locations within minutes of each other, and this is walking distance I’m talking about! Even though AMC technically is a large chain that owns a lot of theaters, they do a good job at giving a sense of prioritization on the moviegoing experience. In fact, in recent years, they’ve been expanding their fleet, renovating theaters, putting in new seats (which admittedly, sometimes underwhelmed me), implementing reserved seating options, and one of their most notable innovations to the American movie market was their Stubs A-List program, which is basically their response to MoviePass as it began to die down. They even have an On Demand service now! In fact, even though I am a physical media junkie, that is probably a place where I’ll consider renting a movie one night (as long as Sony Android TVs) can get it. AMC just recently used to be the biggest chain in North America, but has recently been dethroned since Europe’s Cineworld bought the Canadian chain Cineplex. Now that Cineworld owns both Cineplex and Regal Entertainment Group, they are now the largest theater chain in regards to the continent.

Having said that, AMC Theatres is a pretty big chain. But the bigger they are, the harder they fall. AMC Theatres has spent a lot of money on changes in recent years, recently laid off a ton of employees, and is currently in debt. To make matters worse, S&P Global has recently downgraded AMC Theatres to a CCC-. The association to insert here is “Default imminent, with little prospect for recovery.” Keep in mind, that if you live in the United States, that means if AMC Theatres closes down for good, you are likely to lose a country-wide total of over six hundred cinemas. Just a couple weeks ago, I was reminding people that the smaller, indie theaters might be in a bit of trouble right now. They’re making AMC look like RadioShack! In fact, one of the cool ideas I have been seeing recently is that theaters are doing pop-up sales, where they are selling popcorn to paying customers even though there are no movies going on. This has happened at a couple locations near my house, specifically the Somerville Theatre and Capitol Theatre, both of which are in Massachusetts and owned by Frame One Theatres. I don’t know if a chain like AMC would do that, because I think they are more concerned about protecting what they have by letting people go than continuing operations and getting mocked. But, again, if any theater wants to take up my suggestion on a popcorn or candy delivery service, be my guest! I’ll probably order from it twice a day just to provide some support. That, and I love my movie theater popcorn. It could be through the organization itself, maybe through Uber Eats, maybe Grubhub could be a good idea. After all, pretty much the only thing I can do in life right now is stay inside and put on a movie. I need decent popcorn to go with it! But sticking with the main idea, the loss of AMC, can bring a tremendously dark impact to the industry. Because that means no more Prime Theatres, no more specifically branded Dolby Cinema, and no more A-List. But also, keep in mind the large theater count the chain has and how much of a reduction this truly can provide. There will be significantly less places to go to watch a movie. If you’re lucky enough to have somewhere like a Regal or Cinemark nearby, then you’re probably in luck. I’ve got Showcase Cinemas. Even though I’ve been to their theaters a number of times, I really think they are overhyped and their setup is occasionally bonkers (although their Providence location might have my favorite IMAX theater). And I don’t know if another chain is going to swoop in and take all the AMC locations that could die as a result of this. AMC is not the only chain hurting here. For all I know, maybe one of the big toilet paper companies can come in and start something new. Come on in to “Angel Soft Theater!” Your ass is safe on both our toilets and our auditorium chairs!

One YouTuber I regularly watch goes by the name of John Campea (Collider Movie Talk, The John Campea Show) and he suggested that studios should step in and help AMC financially during this dire time. If the studios have enough money, this is a swell idea. After all, there is a strong bond between movie theaters and studios. One cannot essentially exist without the other. And given how studios are perhaps likely to lose money should they rely on digital sales for their films, they are probably well off giving some of what they have to a chain that has given them tons of strength over the years. I often make fun of how much money Disney has, but wouldn’t it be a great story if Disney gave some money to AMC? I’d dig it. Time will tell when it comes determining the fate of AMC Theatres, but that is largely going to depend on when this crisis diminishes or ends, if people are not too scared to go out into the masses again, and if movies are even going to release by the time this ends. Again, if “Tenet” is not in theaters this July, I think I can officially call it quits on this year for film. Because that news will break me. Pixar’s “Soul” hasn’t been delayed yet. Maybe that will come out in June. Again, it’s hard to tell at this point given how confusing this virus really is.

NEW RELEASES GOING ON DEMAND

I did do this last week, and to be honest, I don’t know if I’ll continue this trend, but given how On Demand is becoming more of a core element to the movie-viewing experience given the current situation, I figured I’d share some new releases that are out On Demand this week. First off is “Ip Man 4: The Finale.” I have not seen any of these movies, but one things that intrigues me is that it stars Donnie Yen, who has been brought to my attention in recent years. The actor is probably one of the more badass men I have seen in an action film as far as newer material goes. While I will declare that “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” is not exactly the “Citizen Kane” of action, Donnie Yen may have been the best part of the movie. Up next is “Like a Boss,” which came out in January. This does not look or feel like my type of movie, but I believe I almost went to a press screening for it. Not sure though. The film stars Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne, alongside Salma Hayek and it is about friends who are trying to start a beauty company. The film clocks in with a total of an hour and twenty-three minutes. Did the editor want to finish their job as soon as possible or something? By the way, for those of you who prefer buying the physical copy, both films are scheduled to come out on DVD and Blu-ray on April 21st. If you have Disney+, there is heavy promotion going on right now to get people to watch Pixar’s “Onward,” and if you have the service, it is now watchable any time you want.

Thanks for reading the third part of the ongoing series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes!” As long as this crisis is unfortunately still with us, this series is going to continue, and maybe even get me to delay my scheduled film reviews. Although, for all I know, my review of “My Spy” might not even come out until next year given how I would probably be shoved into an abyss by STX executives if I open my mouth about it right now. As for myself, I have not left my house in awhile, and I continue to remain healthy. If you want to use your time wisely, be sure to follow Scene Before either through an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Since we’re all online right now, why not take a break from learning how to use Zoom for a quick second and check out the Scene Before Facebook page! You won’t regret it! I want to know, is there any COVID-19 movie news that happens to be significant that I missed? What have you been doing during this crazy time? Any movies you want to recommend? TV shows maybe? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes – Part 2

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is now time for part 2 of the all new Scene Before series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes.” This series describes the recent happenings, or in some cases, a lack of happenings, in the film industry as the world deals with the COVID-19 outbreak.

In the United States, which is where my main demographic happens to be, we unfortunately have more cases of COVID-19 than anybody else. Records are meant to be broken, but if only they were not broken like this. Although at the same time, there has been a significant increase in testing here in the United States, so while it does not make the record necessarily less disheartening, it still adds in a piece of needed information.

Now I do not typically talk about politics that much on Scene Before, but this is one of the rare instances where I have no choice. President Donald Trump has said that he wants the United States back in operation by Easter. The reason for this mostly has to do with Trump’s personal admiration towards the holiday, suggesting that it would be wonderful if the United States had “packed churches.” However, experts are saying that this would not be the best idea and Trump should wait longer.

Personally, I am still optimistic that we can get through this pandemic in a matter of a couple of a months, maybe a few even. But Easter Sunday is a bit too quick based on how many people are seemingly continuing to avoid the act of social distancing. I can possibly see certain portions of the economy putting lights back on in a matter of weeks, but it would not equate to a full-fledged, well-oiled machine. Maybe restaurants will be open again to an extent where people can sit down, but with a limited capacity, and takeout will continue to be highly encouraged. I do not know for sure, but anything’s possible. I said it part 1, I’ll say it again in part 2, I am not a doctor.

These are some general goings on during the COVID-19 situation, but for movies, things have been interesting. In fact, if you look at Box Office Mojo right now and notice the weekend totals, it’s kind of creepy. There’s not even a section for the previous weekend in regards to how much money each movie made. Should this go on for a long time, I wonder if the box office is going to partially change its ways and measure intake by monitoring how much is made by tracking how many rentals are purchased on cinema-specific sections on streaming services. I doubt that’ll be the case since there currently seems to be eager anticipation for the opening of movie theaters by sometime in the summer, but who knows? For all I know, this summer in movies for the most part will be cancelled. I am about to present some evidence as to why.

MAJOR MOVIES DELAYED: WONDER WOMAN 1984, GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE, MORBIUS, PETER RABBIT 2, ETC.

One of the biggest pieces of news in terms of movies getting delayed comes from Sony. The reason being is that when everybody found out about this, it didn’t involve just one movie. It involved Sony’s entire summer lineup. For those who don’t know, movies like “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” and “Morbius” put out trailers in anticipation of a summer release date this year. Guess what? Both have been moved to March 2021! And if that’s not enough, forget about “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway,” because you won’t be seeing that movie either! For the record, that movie was supposed to come out this upcoming weekend as of writing this post. That was until it was delayed to August, but now it is going to be a January 2021 movie! You honestly can’t write this! I was looking forward to these films (minus “Peter Rabbit”) but now I have to wait even longer! In fact, Sony’s delays doesn’t just affect current films set to come out that are either finished or nearly finished, but it also affects a heavily cursed movie, specifically “Uncharted!” Can that movie catch a break? What’s it on, like it’s SEVENTH director right now?! The film that has practically been in development hell for a long time and was set to come out on March 5th, 2021, which is now where “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” will be releasing. Instead, it will be coming out on October 8th, 2021.

In addition to Sony, Warner Bros. has been in a bit of trouble too, but at least their situation feels more of a semblance of optimism. For those who don’t know by now, “Wonder Woman 1984” is getting delayed, which is one of the movies I really didn’t want to see get pushed back, because part of me predicted that theaters would be open by the time this film is supposed to come out. Turns out that’s not the case, because the film’s previous release date of June 4th is no more. “Wonder Woman 1984” is now coming out on August 14th, which does disappoint me, but it does me hope that we will still be seeing a summer movie season in 2020. This also reinforces the crew’s commitment to theatrical experience, which may bring a sigh of a relief to major chains, smaller theaters, and an organization like NATO (National Association of Theater Owners), especially after Universal abruptly announced “Trolls: World Tour” was going to go to streaming as soon as it hit the minimal amount of theaters that would be open this April. Speaking of theatrical commitments, Warner Bros. is also optimistic in regards to releasing Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” which is scheduled to come out July 17th. First off, it’s a Christopher Nolan movie. If Warner Bros. announced that “Tenet” was going to go straight to streaming and skip theaters, there’s a good chance that Nolan would end his work relationship with Warner Bros. altogether. Second, if you want my personal thoughts on this matter, “Tenet” is my second most anticipated film of the year, right below “Dune” which is set to come out in December. If “Tenet” is not seen this summer, I am considering quitting movie watching altogether. Whether or not this situation goes away by July is still a mystery, but I would not be surprised if we reach the very beginning of July and hear that “Tenet” gets bumped to another release date. I think there’s an itty-bitty chance of that happening, but I am not too sure. Plus, the film cost $205 million to make. I do not think “Tenet” will join the billion dollar club, but if this is still around in July, part of me wonders if the film will break even.

Much like Sony, Warner Bros. is having notable production troubles regarding the ongoing crisis as well. “The Matrix 4” has officially shut down. Looks like that “Keanu Reeves Day” coming up in 2021 where “John Wick 4” and “The Matrix 4” release simultaneously will not be a thing anymore should these troubles keep up. Speaking of Warner Bros. productions, “The Batman” has shut down indefinitely. The film was scheduled to come in June 2021 and star Robert Pattinson (The Lighthouse, Good Time) as the Caped Crusader.

Sticking with the recently mentioned productions of “The Matrix 4” and “Uncharted,” both were in production in Germany, specifically in Studio Babelsberg. Termination of production of many on such property left them without pay and there is a current threat of legal action. But speaking of “The Matrix,” if this news has you down and you need your fix of the franchise, the original trilogy will be on Netflix starting this April.

“Top Gun: Maverick” is still coming out in June. Let’s just hope that stays put.

ESPN GETS CREATIVE WITH THEIR LINEUP

I don’t usually talk about sports on this blog, but this is a rare case where it is necessary. For those of you who don’t know, Disney owns you. It’s a fact. Also, for those of you who don’t know, Disney-owned ESPN is going to doing movie nights on Fridays for now on, specifically on movies revolving around sports. Not surprisingly, the movies that will be aired will all be Disney productions. Part of this goes into how the network recently aired “The Rookie,” a baseball film from 2002. For those of you who want to know, this upcoming Friday’s lineup will feature “Glory Road,” the 2006 title revolving around the 1966 NCAA basketball National Championship and the story of the first all-black starting lineup in this situation. Other films in the lineup include “Miracle,” “Secretariat,” and “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” Given how major sports like the regular seasons of NHL, NBA, and MLB have been affected by the outbreak, sports-related outlets have to get creative. 24 hours of SportsCenter on ESPN featuring the top 10 social distancing moments of the day is not going to cut it. I have no idea how long ESPN will be doing this, but just a reminder that Disney now owns Fox, and while I am not seeing any reports of them airing any Fox films, it doesn’t mean that there is no chance that Disney could allow ESPN to take Fox films and present them over the airwaves. This could allow the airing of films like “Rookie of the Year,” “Bend It Like Beckham,” “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story,” “Battle of the Sexes,” or even my personal favorite sports film of all time, “The Sandlot.” Such a good movie.

Also, if you don’t want to wait to watch these films on ESPN, or if you don’t want as many ad interruptions, they are currently available on Disney+, but if you are bored on a Friday night and the Internet is down, you may want to take advantage of watching your favorite sports movies on ESPN.

COVID-19 GETS A MOVIE

One of the things both my mother and I have been saying recently is that this virus is kind of like a movie. In fact, if you talked to me at in the past couple weeks and asked me what I could possibly be thinking about, my answer would be the “five years later” transition in “Avengers: Endgame.” I would not want to be in New York right now, because I can only imagine what it would be like to look at Lady Liberty! Although according to The Hollywood Reporter, it seems we are living in a movie world right now. Kind of. The Hollywood Reporter is suggesting that we are getting the first COVID-19 movie of this specific era. And it is a Canadian thriller shot on a soundstage in Vancouver, where a bunch of people are in an elevator and they quickly suspect that one Chinese individual who joins the ride happens to have the virus. “Corona” is shot handheld in order to be realistic, it’s an interesting move, and it could provide some tension, maybe in a way that could make the viewer a part of the story. The movie does not necessarily revolve around the virus as much it focuses on fear and racism. Plus, those two things will be taken into consideration and apply to how a group of people, varying in terms of walks of life and personality, could potentially react to a virus like this. By the way, if there is a company or organization out there that wants this movie, it is looking for a buyer. I am not surprised that we are getting a movie on COVID-19, but I am surprised that we are getting one this early.

If you want to view the trailer, click the video below.

NEW RELEASES GOING ON DEMAND

Last week, I discussed one of the big stories going on in the movie world is that the current theatrical releases, or in some cases, movies that haven’t even hit the big screen yet, have gone straight to VOD, or on digital services. These mainly include various cable-based On Demand channels, or streaming services like Prime Video, Google Play, and FandangoNOW. But over the past week, more things have happened in relation to this, and some new movies that barely seen the light of day are now being inserted to these On Demand services. By the time you’re reading this, “Impractical Jokers: The Movie,” which released in select theaters on February 21st, then eventually expanding on February 28th, will be available for digital viewing. It’s supposed to release April Fools Day, which makes sense since the movie heavily involves pranking. As for DVD and Blu-ray, that is not known at this point, especially considering how it has not been close to the ninety-day mark of the film’s official release. For all I know, it might not get a DVD, which I hope does not happen. But keep in mind the possibility is there considering how the last DVD for the show itself was for season 5, which aired in 2016. From season 6 and on, there are no plans to put out DVDs. As of March 31st, “Bad Boys For Life” and “Sonic the Hedgehog” are both available for digital purchase with a pop of $20. “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” which released in four theaters to make $16,825, will be hitting On Demand services starting April 3rd.

Thanks for reading the second part of the ongoing series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes!” I can guarantee you that more is likely to come, especially when considering that the Massachusetts stay at home advisory has been extended to May 4th. I don’t know if this will be a weekly thing though, considering how I still have reviews to do, and I just started online classes for my university. Again, I am still committing to putting out a post a week, and it might be easy to do so given how much time this crisis is likely going to give me. And if you’re wondering about me personally, I am okay. I currently contain no symptoms or evidence of having COVID-19, and given how it has been fourteen days since I got back from the fantastically run state of Florida, I am most likely in the clear. I have not personally invited anyone into my home, and I rarely have gone outside for anything. In a way, my practice from when I was twelve years old and playing video games all day has paid off for this very moment. Outside is so overrated!

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But man, I do miss the movie theater.

If you have time, which you do, let’s admit it, go ahead and follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account! And since you’re wasting time staying six feet away from others while only being trapped in your personal space, go ahead and follow the Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, what is your biggest piece of recently seen news regarding films and COVID-19? I covered a number of topics today, but for all I know, maybe I missed something important. It happens. Let me know down below, and let’s get through this together! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The 2nd Annual JACKOFF Awards

WARNING: They said it couldn’t be done. They said it shouldn’t be done. BUT I DID IT ANYWAY! The 2nd Annual Jackoffs is officially longer than The 1st Annual Jackoff Awards. Clocking in with a word count between 12,000 to 13,000. Feel free to take breaks and pauses and come back later if this is a stretch. Enjoy, and happy Jackoffs!

Hey everyone, how you all doing? I’m Jack Drees and it is time for the 2nd Annual Jackoff Awards, the most important blog awards show in history, because it is run by one man with many opinions! Last year, yours truly started a tradition, and this year, it is carried on with new nominees, specifically the best of 2019’s film lineup! And since this thing goes on as long as “The Irishman,” you are all in for a ride!

How does this show work? Each of the movies represented here are all films that I saw in 2019. Keep in mind, if there is a movie here that I did not nominate, there’s a possible chance that I did not see it. Much like many other award shows, individual categories will be presented including Best Sound Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Cinematography, all the way to the pinnacle of the show, Best Picture. A list of nominees will be presented and one will be victorious while others may or may not go home with the shirt on their back. Speaking of which, while all the other award winners will be chosen by me, I have decided once again to let the people speak for the Best Picture category. Upon announcing the nominees, I have decided to put out a poll and have you all choose what you think should win. After all, this list is mostly based on my Top 10 BEST Movies of 2019, therefore if I were choosing Best Picture, it would be partially predictable, and it might not be as significant of a win as opposed to the people’s choice option. The people choice’s last year has led to Disney’s “Avengers: Infinity War” taking home Best Picture last year! So the question is, who will win this year? That will be revealed at the end! Until then, I have to get through the rest of the ceremony, and to do so I am going to start by doing a monologue. Many award shows have one, because without them they would not be as funny or joyful. I am here today to chew bubble gum, and spread some laughs. And I’m all out of bubble gum. It is now time for “Jack Drees Tells Jokes to Others in Order to Please Himself.”

I’m going to state some facts about the year in film, and since there is no audience here, there shall be no laughs. With that in mind, I encourage you to imagine yourself as my only attendee in the crowd. Feel free to laugh, chuckle, boo, fall asleep, even heckle if you please. And I must say, when it comes to 2019 in film, I personally have been impressed with a majority of the films that I have witnessed over these past number of months. Overall, 2019 has been a fine year for movies. Unless you are a wasted spork, killed by the Joker, scared s*itless by Pennywise, stuck in a hurricane in Florida, or trying to run for your life while playing hide and seek.

 

This first thing should surprise some of you if you lived under a rock these past number of years. The 2010s are now over! Throughout that time you’ve seen, let’s see… um… what was it? SIX “Sharknado” movies? Yeah, it was. Crazy! Also, there was 5 “Spider-Man” movies. 5 “Fast & Furious” movies. 4 “Transformers” movies. 5 “Star Wars” movies. 4 “Avengers” movies. Surprisingly, no “Avatar” sequels. Feels strange.

 

During last year’s Jackoffs, I talked a little bit about Blockbuster Video and how they have very few stores left. Turns out, I was missing an important piece of the puzzle, because I only talked about Blockbusters in the United States. However, this March, the final Blockbuster in Australia shut their doors for good, making the Blockbuster in Bend, Oregon the last Blockbuster in the world. I would not mind making a trip to that Blockbuster, I’ll probably rent the video game “The Last of Us.”

 

This year is not just a big year in cinematic history, but it is also a big year for home viewing. Netflix just recently dropped “The Irishman,” which has been nominated for awards including Best Supporting Actor and Best Makeup & Hairstyling. Martin Scorsese does not care if you like or dislike the movie as long as you follow the one rule. Call it “cinema.”

 

It was suggested that a streaming service floodgate is opening at this point. There’s going to be a new streaming service called Peacock, which is going to be put out by Comcast, which owns NBC and Universal. So if you still have cable, think twice before getting rid of Comcast.

Cause ya might be stuck with them.

 

HBO Max is going to hit app stores and smart devices this May, which despite having HBO in the name, will partially be focusing on content from other divisions of AT&T-owned Warnermedia. Content from TV channels like TBS, TNT, truTV, along with other divisions of Warnermedia will have a presence on the service. Once again, AT&T owns the platform, so don’t be surprised if the “service” eventually goes down.

 

One of the biggest entertainment stories of the year is the launch of Disney+, which just came out in November. The service contains old Disney, new Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, Pixar, and more. Their slogan: We know you want to exterminate mice, but why not invite one into your home for $6.99? A-ha!

 

Marvel announced plans for phase 4 and onward in the MCU. Some highlights include: “Blade,” “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” “Thor: Love and Thunder,” and “Eternals.” Based on details regarding the film’s plot, “Eternals” is going to take place over 7000 years. So… Just short of how long the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been going on in real life!

 

Speaking of Marvel Studios, Sony, alongside Marvel, will be making a third standalone “Spider-Man” movie starring Tom Holland. It’s going to be called “Spider-Man: With Unlimited Reboots and Sequels Come Unlimited Possibilities.”

 

Speaking of “Spider-Man,” otherwise known as the real-life movie equivalent of “The Neverending Story,” A sequel to the 2018 critically acclaimed animated film “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” was announced to release in April of 2022. Just in the time that it has taken for me to announce all of this, Sony has already announced ten sequels, a reboot, and a crossover with Tom Hardy’s “Venom.”

 

“Spider-Man: Far from Home” is now officially the highest-grossing Sony film of all time! Just in the time that it has taken for me to announce this, Sony has already announced a “Spider-Gwen” film, a Tobey Maguire/Andrew Garfield crossover, and a “Night Monkey” spinoff!

 

“Avengers: Endgame” became one of the biggest box office hits in history, earning over $2 billion, being the fastest film to reach $1 billion, the fastest to reach $2 billion, and having the biggest worldwide opening weekend. As of right now, they are ahead of James Cameron’s “Avatar” as the highest-grossing film of all time. How did they do that? I’m pretty sure Bob Iger and everyone at Disney snapped the Infinity Gauntlet to generate money. Gotta pay those electric bills.

 

Speaking of Disney and Bob Iger, one of the highlights for amusement parks this year is the new “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge,” which just opened this May at Disneyland and also this August at Disney World. And because it’s Disney, it can cost some an arm and a leg to get in. But don’t worry, just find the nearest lightsaber and you’re good to go!

 

If you are an adult, don’t like “Star Wars,” or hate going to amusement parks in general, let me just remind you, “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” is alcohol-friendly. But don’t drink too much, because some side effects include: a willingness to force choke others, NOT TO MENTION yourself, and a willingness to watch “Star Wars: The Holiday Special.” Also, based on recent events, Disney has also outlawed drunk pod-racing.

 

Upon the opening of the attraction, Deadline Hollywood has pointed out that “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” is a “wildly immersive experience.” Now I can’t say I have been there myself, but this probably suggests one thing. The Stormtroopers there always try to shoot you, but don’t worry! THEY MISS EVERY TIME!

 

To say Disney did not have record-breaking year would be an absolute lie. From their performance in 2020, Disney’s the first studio to achieve a combined box office return of $10 billion on all of their released films.  Who knows what they’ll do with that money? Probably something that highly associates with the company… Maybe they’ll scientifically create a genie. Maybe they’ll build a Mickey Mouse-shaped Death Star. Maybe they’ll just let it go.

I did not see “Frozen 2” by the way, just saying. You know, in case it matters.

 

Even though Netflix is a popular choice for home viewers, they have recently been expanding their cinematic palette. In fact, just this year, plans were announced to buy a movie theater on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, California! Yeah, in April, it was announced that Netflix was seeking a purchase of Grauman’s Egyptian Theater! And with Netflix being Netflix, they will put a movie in there for about a year, only to have everyone complain once they finally get rid of it!

 

Following in the steps of programs like AMC Stubs A-List, Cinemark Movie Club, and Showcase Subscribe, one of the popular movie theater chains in the United States, Regal Entertainment Group has just unveiled their new moviegoing subscription service called Regal Unlimited. And by Unlimited, Regal means unlimited trailers. Maybe you’ll get a movie or two.

 

In all seriousness though, the program comes with various perks. For somewhere between $18 to $23.50 per month, you can watch as many movies as you want in Regal locations nationwide. And from anywhere between $0 to a $250,000 fine plus jail time, you can PIRATE as many movies as you want. You decide for yourself.

 

If you are a Regal Unlimited customer, chances are you used it to go see a flick or two, maybe even three. One such example… is “Cats.” “Cats,” a $95 million film, struggled at the box office. Many people have been disappointed with “Cats,” making this a loss for Universal, but a win for mice.

 

According to Taylor Swift, who plays a role in “Cats,” the cast attended “Cat School,” where you would learn the ways of a cat and how to behave like a cat. This is real! Apparently the “Cats” cast would adapt to crawling on fours, and get this, I think this is the best part… SNIFFING AND LICKING EACH OTHER! That’s one way to see if your senses work.

 

Also, apparently Taylor Swift graduated early compared to other actors. According to Rolling Stone, alternate cast members Francesca Hayward and Robbie Fairchild attended for six weeks whereas Taylor Swift attended for one week because based on the words given by, get this… Cat School professor Sarah Dowling, “Taylor is a natural cat.” Now that’s a breakup worth singing about!

 

When it comes to actors, one person who has had a hit year is Scarlett Johansson, who had appeared early on in the record-breaking “Avengers: Endgame,” and was eventually shown in other acclaimed films including “Jojo Rabbit” and “Marriage Story.” I personally love her in “Marriage Story,” I think she gave a great performance in that film. The film makes you feel like Black Widow is divorcing you! It’s that good! All she needs to do is kick her potential ex-husband in the face, maybe change her hair once or twice, and boom! Black Widow movie!

 

Scarlett Johansson also made a controversial comment earlier this year saying “You know, as an actor I should be able to play any person, or any tree, or any animal, because as an actor, that’s my job and the requirements of my job.” Never thought I’d say this, but if anybody is looking to reboot “Guardians of the Galaxy,” you now know who to contact for an audition. She is Groot! #SheIsGroot!

 

“1917” has received several nominations including Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, and Best Picture. Have any of you seen that movie? The film is designed to look like it is all done in one shot. Yeah, one shot is also the number of chances I have tell you that “Moonlight” won Best Picture tonight.

 

“Joker,” a case study on the iconic “Batman” villain is the first R-rated film to surpass the $1 billion mark. It has received a number of nominations including Best Film Editing, Best Actor, Best Costume Design, and Best Production Design. Think twice before showing this comic book movie to your kids, because the film is “rated R for strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language and brief sexual images.” Those are all solid reasons, but they also forgot to list the fact that the Joker suggests that it is okay to dance like crazy down the stairs! “Mom! Look at me! I’m doing the Joker dance!” “That’s great kiddo, now do it with scissors!”

 

In “Joker,” there is a scene where the title character dances on an exterior stairwell. This scene was shot on an actual stairwell on West 167th street in the Bronx area of New York City. Due to the success of “Joker,” tourists have come to visit the iconic stairs, leaving locals in dismay. One local resident said in regards to this matter, “we feel disrespected.” The only way residents would be more disrespected by this, is if it were revealed that the tourists were all Red Sox fans.

 

“The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part” released last February, which has received a Best Animated Feature nomination for this ceremony! If “The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part” loses the Best Animated Feature award during the show, they will have bricked it.

Too soon? Too soon.

 

“Toy Story 4” was also nominated for Best Animated Feature! “Toy Story 4” introduces a disposable spork character named Forky, who desires to end up in the trash. If “Toy Story 4” wins tonight, in honor of this, I’ll congratulate all the other nominees, but then note that when compared to “Toy Story 4,” they are TRRRRAAAASH!

 

“Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” was one of the biggest box office hits of the past year! “Hobbs & Shaw” is also the title of the anticipated remake “Dude, Where’s My Flying Car?”

Although speaking of “Hobbs and Shaw,” some of you may have gathered that the crew behind the film worked very hard to give audiences the most bombastic and enjoyable popcorn flick of the summer. Between Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, director David Leitch, among others, they brought their A game to delivering a proper blockbuster. The film definitely does its best to be an entertaining ride, but there was something I couldn’t help but notice. A lot of vehicles get destroyed. Now this would have made for a really good collaborative ad campaign. In fact, one company in particular, unbeknownst to the public, approached the fine folks behind “Hobbs and Shaw” and agreed to make a commercial partially using footage from the movie that would air on television. Unfortunately, however, that commercial never made it on the air. And honestly, I’m kinda disappointed, because I had a chance to witness the ad and it was almost Super Bowl-worthy. In fact, courtesy of the people who made the ad, I was able to get ahold of it to reveal what you all have been missing! Guys, I hope you enjoy the commercial, take a look.

This is a ceremony dedicated to honoring film as a collective realm. As one who has been a part of multiple productions, I understand how hard it is to make a film. This is why I wanted to take this time to at least shout out each film from 2019 I have seen as of nominating all of the films for this current ceremony. Let’s take a look back at what Jack Drees saw in 2019.

  1. The Upside
  2. Serenity
  3. The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
  4. Fighting with My Family
  5. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
  6. Captain Marvel
  7. Us
  8. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
  9. Shazam!
  10. Apollo 11
  11. Avengers: Endgame
  12. Long Shot
  13. Pokemon: Detective Pikachu
  14. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
  15. Cold Pursuit
  16. Booksmart
  17. The Kid Who Would be King
  18. Godzilla: King of the Monsters
  19. Rocketman
  20. Men in Black: International
  21. Replicas
  22. Toy Story 4
  23. The Secret Life of Pets 2
  24. Stuber
  25. Spider-Man: Far from Home
  26. Yesterday
  27. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  28. Alita: Battle Angel
  29. Missing Link
  30. Midsommar
  31. Crawl
  32. Ready or Not
  33. The Haunting of Sharon Tate
  34. Blinded by the Light
  35. Dora and the Lost City of Gold
  36. IT: Chapter Two
  37. Brightburn
  38. Ad Astra
  39. Black and Blue
  40. The Fanatic
  41. Joker
  42. Isn’t It Romantic?
  43. Zombieland: Double Tap
  44. Countdown
  45. Jexi
  46. Parasite
  47. The Lighthouse
  48. Last Christmas
  49. Honey Boy
  50. Jojo Rabbit
  51. Ford v Ferrari
  52. Knives Out
  53. Dark Waters
  54. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  55. Uncut Gems
  56. Jumanji: The Next Level
  57. The Peanut Butter Falcon
  58. Cats
  59. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
  60. The Aeronauts
  61. The Irishman
  62. Marriage Story
  63. Late Night
  64. Spies in Disguise
  65. 1917
  66. Little Women
  67. The Farewell
  68. Judy
  69. The Report

A big and hearty congratulations to those who made the films audiences everywhere went to see in 2019. Apologies if I missed something, but I am pretty sure I got all of the movies I saw. Without further ado, let’s announce some winners!

First up, is Best Animated Feature. These are the films that many families went to see to escape from reality, and I mean that in every sense of the word. After all, with these films, once the lights go down, you instantly leave your own big wide world, to enter alternate vast worlds of talking branded plastic pieces, living toys, and high-flying dragons. Within each one of these worlds, it is the lessons that we take, both as kids and adults that will have these stories stand the test of time. Maybe in some ways, their worlds of imagination, are just like our reality. Here are the nominees for Best Animated Feature!

  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (Dean DeBlois, Bradford Lewis, Bonnie Arnold)
  • The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (Jinko Gotoh, Roy Lee, Dan Lin, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller)
  • Missing Link (Chris Butler, Travis Knight, Arianne Sutner)
  • Spies in Disguise (Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, Michael J. Travers)
  • Toy Story 4 (Josh Cooley, Mark Nielsen, Jonas Rivera)

And the Jackoff goes to…

“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World!”

“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” is an animated masterpiece. Director Dean DeBlois has officially closed the book on the “How to Train Your Dragon” trilogy with an absolute bang and it shows with the everlasting fun this film can deliver. One thing that makes movies what they are is the experiences they can provide. DreamWorks animated films have been around for about two full decades now, and they have had a number of hits. “Shrek,” “Shrek 2,” “Madagascar,” “Kung Fu Panda,” “Megamind,” “Kung Fu Panda 2,” but if you ask a lot of people what they think the best DreamWorks franchise is, there is a chance that “How to Train Your Dragon” will be a contender. As this franchise has evolved, so have details in the animation, the hidden world sequence in this film shows off a dragon land beyond the imagination. Ending off everything with an emotionally satisfying note, “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” is a movie that made this guy cry, but just like a dragon, he was ready to fly. Congrats to “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” the third, and maybe final, “How to Train Your Dragon” flick.

Speaking of visual animation, one of the most controversial subject matters that has been addressed in the film cycle of 2019 is the art of visual effects. In July, Disney’s live-action remake of “The Lion King” has lead many of its viewers scratching their heads because despite often being labeled as a live-action remake, others would say that since almost everything in that film has been made on a computer, it is within the animation genre. I did not see “The Lion King” this year, but regardless, it is something to think about. Similarly, Paramount’s “Sonic the Hedgehog” received criticism for its visual design of the titular speedy character, which prompted the crew behind that film to get back to work after the first trailer dropped. But one thing that is not controversial is that these are the nominees for Best Visual Effects. And they are…

  • Ad Astra
  • Alita: Battle Angel
  • Avengers: Endgame
  • Spider-Man: Far from Home
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

And the Jackoff goes to…

“Alita: Battle Angel!”

The film “Alita: Battle Angel” is based off a manga series, and like the live-action redo of “Ghost in the Shell,” which comes from similar origins, “Alita: Battle Angel” as a visual story jumps off the screen to the point where its own future feels not only possible, but in some ways, desirable. “Alita: Battle Angel” does what films of its kind do best, immerse the audience with an experience that is as glamorous as much as it fills a hole by providing good old fast-paced entertainment. James Cameron has a credit for this film, and it is no surprise considering how much he is revered in the visual effects space of film. “Alita: Battle Angel” is as visually compelling as an intense game of Motorball. To all who have visually designed this film to its finest detail, pat yourselves on the back. Well done!

Now it is time for a segment that will be occurring ten times throughout the show, where we take a break from awarding, and show trailers for this year’s Best Picture nominees. The first one shall be revealed in just one second, but here is a description of what this first movie encompasses.

Marriage. Dealing with in-laws. Graphic violence. These are core elements of some of the Best Picture nominees here at this current ceremony. Although, this film has all three of those things. As Fox Searchlight celebrated its 25th anniversary, these characters celebrated togetherness in one moment, and then engaged in a hunt to kill within the next. Yours truly dubbed this film as “The Greatest Hide and Seek Story Ever Told.” After all, the film follows a newly married woman as she is forced to play Hide and Seek, with a sinister twist. Starring Samara Weaving as Grace, it is her objective to survive to the end while avoiding her recently established tradition-based in-laws who must eliminate their newcomer to the family if they too want to continue their own lives. Nominated for 5 Jackoff awards, THIS is “Ready or Not!”

“Ready or Not:” the perfect film to watch with your in-laws.

The next two categories are dedicated to sound. To specify, sound editing and sound mixing. Just like last year, sound editing will be presented first considering how sound editing is a process that comes earlier when making a film. As mentioned in 2019, one way to remember this is that E comes before M. These five movies have the best overall sound collections of the past year, and whether they are explosions, gunshots, or lightsabers, each one pulled the audience into the world of their respective films with ease. Here are the nominees for Best Sound Editing.

  • 1917
  • Alita: Battle Angel
  • Ford v Ferrari
  • John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

And the Jackoff goes to…

“Ford v Ferrari!”

It’s official, “Ford v Ferrari” has received its first award show equivalent to the first sight of a checkered flag during a race! Personally, I experienced “Ford v Ferrari” in a large IMAX theater, allowing me to put myself in an atmosphere full of fast cars, Coca-Cola everywhere, and if you had to ask me what the best part of my experience was, it was undoubtedly the eargasmic sound work put into the film. Some people will tell you to wait for a movie to come out on DVD or On Demand and skip out on the theatrical experience, which I disagree with because the theater makes ANY movie better. That’s just a fact. With that being said, if you all have not seen “Ford v Ferrari” in a theatrical setting, you’re doing yourself a disservice and missing out on some of the most energetic racing scenes ever, and part of it has to do with the killer audio. “Ford v Ferrari” may be a rivalry story, but your ears will not be rivaled by the contents of this film!

Piggybacking off of sound editing, it is now time to move onto sound mixing. This category is dedicated to the artists who have turned up the volume, raised the decibel levels, and blown the roof off the place. These are the nominees for Best Sound Mixing.

  • 1917
  • Alita: Battle Angel
  • Avengers: Endgame
  • Ford v Ferrari
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

And the Jackoff goes to…

“Ford v Ferrari!”

This is “Ford v Ferrari’s” second win meaning a couple things. First off, it has officially dominated the sound categories! Quite honestly, this should not come off as that big of a shocker. This is a film that is clearly designed for the big screen, meant to be obnoxious and immersive in every way, and it is beautifully pulled off. I have never been to a NASCAR race in my life, and I have no intention on going to one in the near future, but I am not going to deny that “Ford v Ferrari” absolutely feels like a NASCAR experience in a cinema. Not only are sounds for this film wonderfully implemented through conceptual thinking, but they also are leveled properly and add to the film’s fast pace. Congratulations to “Ford v Ferrari,” how many more awards will it get? It is too early to tell, but it has currently two of the awards it was nominated for. If it wins Best Supporting Actor and Best Picture, it will have won all the awards it was recognized for. But for now, a hearty congrats to “Ford v Ferrari,” the overall sound king of 2019.

Our second Best Picture nominee is a tale of class. Not only is it a classy motion picture from start to finish, but it highlights the differences between the thriving rich and barely surviving poor. The film follows a family who is trying to make ends meet, and miraculously manages to do so each and every day. As they begin to become a centerpiece of a rich family’s life, their own lives begin to alter. It is a twisty and turny ride to the very end. Brilliantly directed by Bong Joon Ho, it is a film that makes you, as an audience member wonder, how much planning went into it from the first draft, to the final cut. But for all we know, maybe there was not much planning in the first place. As Kang Ho-Song’s character Kim Ki-taek suggests, there is one kind of plan that never fails at all. The plan being… “No plan. No plan at all.” Nominated for 7 Jackoff awards, THIS is “Parasite.”

When a concept falls into place, it must be met with a proper setting. Similarly, when a design of an area or structure on paper or on a computer falls into place, it must be met with a proper set. They say that in life, looks are not everything, but a proper background and utilized sense of surroundings will always pack an extra punch into making a great film. Here are the nominees for Best Production Design.

  • 1917 (Dennis Gassner)
  • Joker (Mark Friedberg, Kris Moran)
  • Knives Out (David Crank)
  • Parasite (Ha-jun Lee)
  • Ready or Not (Andrew M. Stearn)

And the award goes to…

Dennis Gassner for “1917!”

Now, if this were a film that was presented like any other, this would probably have a decrease in its chances of winning, but keep in mind that not only did set design matter in terms of how compelling the movie itself could turn out, but how it was shot. “1917” is meant to look as if it is all done in one shot, making set design that much harder to accomplish and perfect. The main purpose of a set like this, at least if I were to build it, is to provoke a sense of detail and believability. If I as a viewer am not able to buy the “1917” set, then why am I watching the movie? However, the designers pulled it off and put yours truly into war. This is a sentence meant to be stated in the best possible way. Well done to Dennis Gassner, the production designer of “1917!”

Moving onto costume design, fun for Halloween, but a lifestyle for the makers of films. These five nominated costume designers have taken the following traits into account: Authenticity, detail, and glamour. It is the work of the costume designer that allows an actor to embody their character, because without them, there’s a good chance we’d be just be watching pornography. It’s the truth. Here are the nominees for Best Costume Design.

  • The Aeronauts (Alexandra Byrne)
  • Joker (Mark Bridges)
  • Knives Out (Jenny Eagan)
  • Little Women (Jacqueline Durran)
  • Ready or Not (Avery Plewes)

And the Jackoff award goes to…

Jacqueline Durran for “Little Women!”

Durran has been recognized over the years for many of her costume-related achievements. Some include 2017’s “Beauty and the Beast,” 2006’s “Pride and Prejudice,” 2017’s “Darkest Hour,” and she even did another noteworthy film this year, “1917,” which to be fair, did fairly well in this category, but only five films can make the cut. “Little Women” has had many media adaptations over the years, meaning there have been multiple interpretations of the cultural hit many would call a book. From Greta Gerwig’s personal touch to the well-thought-out filming locations to the chemistry provided between actors like Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, and Emma Watson, it is no surprise that “Little Women” is a film that is fairly attentive to detail, which also shows in the realistic and gorgeous costumes worn by many of the film’s actors. Congratulations to Jacqueline Durran!

Our third Best Picture nominee is a love letter and tribute to the film industry of old, created from the visionary mind of Quentin Tarantino, one of film’s most ecstatic fans. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as an actor, and Brad Pitt as his stunt double, it is a film displaying the decline of said actor, not to mention the alteration of his own industry. Taking place in the 1960s era of Hollywood, the film is a lively, fine display of Californian culture that is slightly interrupted with gory violence and bloody scenes. Above all, the film is a reminder of friendship, ageism, and the fact that Quentin Tarantino… REALLY likes feet. Nominated for 6 Jackoff awards, THIS is “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

Just a fair warning before I present the next category, two of the movies represented here feature main characters who happen to be clowns. So if you want to avoid having night terrors, look away now in case one of those movies win. But believe me, they look good in make up, alongside three other films. Here are the nominees for Best Makeup & Hairstyling!

  • The Aeronauts (Jacqueline Bhavnani)
  • The Irishman (Sean Flanigan, Nicki Ledermann)
  • Joker (Nicki Ledermann and Kay Georgiou)
  • Judy (Jeremy Woodhead)
  • IT: Chapter Two (Sean Sansom, Shane Zander, Iantha Goldberg)

And the Jackoff goes to…

Nicki Ledermann and Kay Georgiou for “Joker!”

Fun fact, “Joker” is the first R-rated film to gross over $1 billion at the box office! Based on the iconic DC Comics character, he has been through multiple visions over the years from numerous actors, and given how this film takes place in a depressing time where nobody has hope, Joker himself can not be more appropriately designed. Now, “IT: Chapter Two” was nominated, which is an earned nomination. Pennywise’s makeup is incredibly well done and I will say other characters like Beverly looked appealing. Then again, it’s Jessica Chastain, she looks appealing no matter the situation. But between the two clown movies, “Joker” pops the balloons with gunshots and comes out on top. Ledermann and Georgiou, clown around!

Our next category is for Best Original Score, where by the way, John Williams has been nominated for the one millionth, five-hundred fifty-seventh thousandth, and second time in any of the award shows that he has been in! This should not however take away from the other artists who have created their own pieces of modern music people listen to not containing Taylor Swift’s breakups or what happened after you took a DNA test. Here are the nominees for Best Original Score.

  • Avengers: Endgame (Alan Silvestri)
  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (John Powell)
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (John Williams)
  • Uncut Gems (Daniel Lopatin)
  • Us (Michael Abels)

And the Jackoff goes to…

Alan Silvestri for “Avengers: Endgame!”

Here’s the truth about the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. Over the years, yours truly has praised the MCU for the visual effects, the action, and its tendency to properly develop the stories of many of its characters. One lackluster element of many MCU films in my personal opinion has been the original score. While sometimes effective, it’s often nothing I want to listen to by myself the next day. Although in the past, films like “Iron Man 3” have been an exception with a hum-worthy and grand theme. And with Alan Silverstri in command, his work on both “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame” are both some of his absolute best, not to mention some of the all-time best in Marvel’s respective universe. If the Detective Comics Extended Universe had done one thing better than its Marvel competitor, it’s creating great original music from artists like Hans Zimmer (Man of Steel) and Rupert Gregson-Williams (Wonder Woman). However, with Silvestri’s previous efforts given in “Infinity War” and “Endgame,” it makes me think the scores have potential to be more memorable down the road. Will they be? We’ll have to see with films like “Black Widow” and “Eternals” hitting theaters this year. Congratulations to Alan Silvestri, your achievement must have been inevitable!

I have one shot to tell you what this fourth Best Picture nominee is, so I am not going to waste any time. It is a simple story involving two men at war who need to get from point A to point B with one thought in mind. Just don’t die. For these two, it is their mission to send a message in order to save sixteen-hundred men. Shot by last year’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner Roger Deakins, this film presents a concept lacking complexity, but fully displaying brutality. Perhaps one of the most innovative additions to the war film genre, Sam Mendes has written, directed, and produced a technical masterpiece that may, like World War I was supposed to, end all technical masterpieces. I personally hope there’s more to come, but you cannot deny how much work went into this piece of art. Nominated for 6 Jackoff awards, THIS is “1917.”

During last year’s Jackoffs, one of the pieces of work introduced was something I like to call “Film Improvements,” it is where I take a piece or a clip of a movie, in last year’s case it would involve films from 2018, and slightly alter it to maybe make it better or more meaningful than it already is. This year I have decided to revisit the concept given how no film is perfect. “Jaws” has a fake looking shark, “The Wizard of Oz” has a random bucket of water that can take out the Wicked Witch, and “Star Wars,” ironically, does not have stars fighting for supremacy. No film is perfect, but why not make the imperfect better? Here is my latest edition of “Film Improvements.”

Last year, I presented THIS award first, but now I need reasons to SUPPORT why I am putting this award here. Why am I doing this? Because it is my show and I can do whatever the hell I want! That’s a reason to support my statement! But let’s talk about supporting actors. Just because they are not at the forefront does not suggest they are any less important compared to other characters on screen. Between helping our main characters further unravel the story and meaning of the film and delivering a sense of charisma I would like to see from those who supported me in my life, the supporting actors of 2019 have broken their legs while audiences everywhere settle their legs on a chair. Here are the nominees for Best Supporting Actor!

  • Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood)
  • Tracy Letts (Ford v Ferrari)
  • Shia LeBeouf (Honey Boy)
  • Al Pacino (The Irishman)
  • Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

And the Jackoff goes to…

Brad Pitt for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood!”

Pitt excels in his performance to a degree that I am unable to comprehend. Adding quirky flair and tons of personality, Brad Pitt plays one of the best characters who killed their wife I have ever seen, all the while having me in stitches and in an everlasting smile! What really sells Pitt’s character is his tendency to be charismatic and well-paced. Between the chemistry he brings to the table as Cliff Booth alongside main character Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and the perfect delivery of lines given to him in the scene where he trips on acid, Booth plays one of this year’s funniest characters and does so in true Quentin Tarantino fashion. There is a reason why additional supporting actor Timothy Olyphant suggested, “I’d never leave my wife for another woman. But there’s a chance, I might leave her for Brad Pitt.” Congratulations to Brad Pitt, and because he won the award, here is a clip of Brad Pitt’s performance in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

But of course, you cannot have a Best Supporting Actor category without a Best Supporting Actress category. The five supporting actresses represented here have delivered lines with excellence, portrayed their characters with proficiency, and fulfilled the director’s vision by embodying the spirit of the film. Here are the nominees for Best Supporting Actress!

  • Shuzhen Zhao (The Farewell)
  • Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit)
  • Toni Collette (Knives Out)
  • Laura Dern (Marriage Story)
  • Annette Bening (The Report)

And the Jackoff goes to…

Laura Dern for “Marriage Story!”

Dern has been a prolific actor in recent years appearing in films such as “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” “Downsizing,” “The Founder,” and she’s even done some notable TV work as well including “Big Little Lies” and “F Is for Family.” However, there is no denying that when it comes to “Marriage Story,” Dern provides an overall fantastic presence as her character of Nora Fanshaw. A lawyer who needs to defend her client, Nicole, who is currently going through her divorce. Not only does Dern play an appropriate character for the role at hand, but she does so with the most proper of possible mannerisms and her attitude is top notch to the point where it matches the character’s personality. If there is one strong point to talk about in “Marriage Story,” it is in all likelihood, the acting. Three of the film’s actors are nominated as part of this ceremony, and tying in with “Knives Out,” “Marriage Story” has the most acting nominations at this year’s ceremony! To be specific, 3 in total. Congrats to Laura Dern, and with that being said, here is a clip of Laura Dern in “Marriage Story.”

Our fifth Best Picture nominee is inspired by true events and stars its own writer, Shia LeBeouf. Originally conceived during Shia LeBeouf’s personal experience in rehab, the film goes over the struggles of having an abusive parent. It not only dives into a series of hard times during childhood, but it reveals the after effects once the abused child reaches a certain age. As the feature-length debut given to us by Alma Har’el, this first-time directorial effort comes off like a culmination of somebody’s life’s work. Slight digression, but I will also make the argument that this nominee may have the all-time greatest film shot featuring pie. Nominated for 4 Jackoffs, THIS is “Honey Boy.” 

It is now time for this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award. As promised last year, the recipient of last year’s Lifetime Achievement Award will officially have future Lifetime Achievement Awards named after them, so this year, I am going to be presenting the Roger Deakins Lifetime Achievement Award! Also like last year, I did not plan a video in advance for the winner. In fact, this is as spontaneous as a Lifetime Achievement Award can possibly get. Of course, there will also be another Lifetime Achievement Award, specifically presented to someone who is no longer with us, but has been graceful through the many years of the art of filmmaking.

The winner of the 2020 Roger Deakins Award is a BAFTA Winner, a Golden Globe Winner, an Emmy winner, and an Oscar nominee. He is an actor who has been in the business since the 1970s, making his prominent field debut in a short known as “The Hat Act.” He would eventually go on to embody iconic characters in many classic films. Some include Carl Specklar in “Caddyshack,” John from “Stripes,” Dr. Peter Venkman from “Ghostbusters,” and eventually recapturing the magic of a character like Bosley in “Charlie’s Angels,” not to mention Baloo in 2016’s “The Jungle Book.” He also played Phil in “Groundhog Day.” He also played Phil in “Groundhog Day.” He also played Phil in “Groundhog Day.” He also played Phil in “Groundhog Day.” He also played Phil in “Groundhog Day.” It’s a movie where Phil lives the same day over and over again. The man has lived long enough to play himself in films like “Space Jam” and “Zombieland,” where he was not afraid to suck the brains out of his own work in “Garfield,” which he must hate more than Mondays. He has a proper relationship in the business with director Wes Anderson, appearing in all of his films with the exception of “Bottle Rocket,” Anderson’s independent debut. Films like “Rushmore,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” and “Isle of Dogs.” If there’s something gold, and it really looks good, who ya gonna call? BILL MURR-AY! This year’s Roger Deakins award is given to the one, the only, Bill Murray!

If this were a Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award, Bill Murray would definitely be slimed, but since it is the Jackoffs, it is my pleasure to simply hand over the gold. Congratulations to Bill Murray, a man of talent, humor, and charisma. This year he is appearing in “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” so hopefully his work will continue to represent an amazing level of quality.

One of the most popular types of films over the previous decade has been the superhero and comic book movie. I am willing to bet that a lot of people who go to see these movies enjoy them, but don’t read the comic books. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. Comic book movies have been, and with the ongoing success of say the Marvel Cinematic Universe, will continue to be a major force in the industry. This past fall, I took a trip to one of my local comic book shops by the name of Harrison’s Comics, located in the historic and spooky Salem, MA, and interviewed the owner. I figured, comic book films are the thing right now, but why not get in touch with someone who surrounds himself with more than just the movies, more than just the TV shows on networks like CW. Here is my interview with Larry Harrison, the owner of Harrison’s Comics.

I just want to continue on from this with a true story. Before I even did the interview, I figured I’d get Larry a gift card to thank him for his participation. I had no clue what he would say to the questions I gave him, but he clearly represented himself as someone who does not buy anything digitally. I should have thought of that before giving him a card from Amazon. I swear to you this is true, I told him I got him a gift card, I had an envelope prepared and everything. I told him to just be prepared for what I’m about to give him, because based on recent utterances, he might throw the gift out the window! I even took the liberty of OPENING THE ENVELOPE FOR LARRY instead of letting him do it himself! I felt like a “Price is Right” model! I then take the letter out, open it, reveal the gift card, and being a classy dude and good sport, he just goes, “You know who’d like this, my wife.” Special thanks to Larry Harrison, and let me know if you need a new gift card in the future.

Our sixth Best Picture nominee is the only animated film on the list and the concluding chapter to one of DreamWorks’ most beloved franchises. When a city full of humans and dragons becomes overpopulated, it is up to its citizens to find a new home where everyone can thrive. At the same time, the vicious dragon hunter Grimmel will not stop until he captures the Night Fury audiences everywhere have come to know over the years. Throughout, viewers witnessed a story of companionship and growth, to the point where the film reveals that sometimes it is best to let things go. Stunningly animated and full of emotion, it is a step in the right direction for DreamWorks, not to mention their new parent company, Universal, who made this film together to kick off their partnership. Nominated for 5 Jackoff awards, THIS is “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.”

Our next two categories of awards belong to screenplays. Specifically, adaptations and originals. Starting off with the adaptation category, it is the job of the writers behind these screenplays to take preexisting material and define it for a specific era. It is also their job to continue the stories and traditions that may go far back from generation to generation, bringing said material to the forefront for our current generation. These five nominees have put a little originality or vision into the works of several storytelling gods. Here are the nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay!

  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Micah Fitzerman-Blue, Noah Harpster)
  • Blinded by the Light (Sarfraz Manzoor, Gurinder Chadha, Paul Mayeda Berges)
  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (Dean DeBlois)
  • Jojo Rabbit (Taika Waititi)
  • Joker (Todd Phillips, Scott Silver)

And the award goes to…

Taika Waititi for “Jojo Rabbit!”

One of the most prolific people in the film industry right now is Taika Waititi. The dude can act, he can direct, he can write, he can do all sorts of things! “Jojo Rabbit” earned its nomination, not to mention its win for basically packing in all sorts of genres within one movie and doing so effectively. It’s a satirical comedy where Adolf Hitler just happens to be a scene stealer! It’s a coming of age tale about a young boy who is raised in Nazi Germany! It’s a tragic war story! And if none of those elements came together and worked like a charm, this movie would not be getting the praise it deserves. Taika Waititi, you have outdone yourself! And even though I failed to nominate you for your performance as Hitler, that was a killer portrayal! Well done!

As for original screenplays, it is the job of the writer of said projects to create something innovative, magical, and something beyond the imagination. But much like adapted screenplays, it is also the job of the writer to trigger emotion, reactions, and attention. These five nominees have adapted a style to be original. Here are the nominees for Best Original Screenplay!

  • Honey Boy (Shia LeBeouf)
  • Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach)
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino)
  • Parasite (Bong Joon Ho, Jin Won Han)
  • Ready or Not (Guy Busick, R. Christopher Murphy)

And the award goes to…

Guy Busick and R. Christopher Murphy for “Ready or Not!”

“Ready or Not” is my #1 favorite film of the year 2019 for many reasons, and part of it has to do with the bonkers script that takes a crazy concept and turns it into gold! How many times have all of you seen a movie where a couple gets married and has to play a game to get the newcomer to join the family? The game, hide and seek! As a horror, the movie is suspenseful and scary! As a comedy, it’s hilarious! As something that falls in the mystery genre, it is absolutely brilliant! “Ready or Not” has a sense of consistency to the end, making my second viewing of the film very fun. The characters all have phenomenal chemistry, even when there is absolute hell going down. Well done to the writers of “Ready or Not,” you kept me on the edge of my seat in a way very few films this year did!

Our seventh Best Picture nominee is the perfect film to watch with your family. I say so because it does highlight a lot of what can go on during a family gathering. Maybe you’ll fight to the point where you want to murder somebody…  Maybe you’ll want to leave with somebody else to avoid all sorts of chaos… Maybe you’ll tell everyone around you to eat s*it because you hate them so much, there’s so much truth to this film! Anyway, helmed by Rian Johnson, this original murder mystery is likely to entertain the many viewers who tune in, but let’s just hope it does not make them hate time with their loved ones. With an ensemble including Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Christopher Plummer, and Chris Evans, this film contains many actors who have established their name, all the while making this film as SHARP as it could be. Nominated for 7 Jackoff awards, THIS is “Knives Out.”

The Jackoff Awards are meant to be a celebratory event. With that being said, one of the biggest film news stories of 2019 is that the Academy Awards was going to potentially avoid presenting Best Film Editing and Best Cinematography live and instead, present them during the commercial breaks and show them to home viewers later on. That did not sit well with people, especially those in the industry, so the Academy quickly backtracked on the idea. I can officially confirm that at this year’s Jackoffs, all categories are presented equally. This even includes my next categories, the recently mentioned Best Film Editing and Best Cinematography. As for these next five nominees, they have officially established themselves… as cut gems. Here are the nominees for Best Film Editing.

  • Joker (Jeff Groth)
  • John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (Evan Schiff)
  • Marriage Story (Jennifer Lame)
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Fred Raskin)
  • Parasite (Jinmo Yang)

And the Jackoff goes to…

Jinmo Yang for “Parasite!”

The movie “Parasite” is no joke whatsoever. It is EVERYTHING that you all have heard. It’s creative, brilliant, and top-notch! As for the editing, this is something I failed to appreciate for a little bit, but the reality is that this contains one of the most well-put-together scenes of its respective year. There is an extended montage in the film about a third of the way through that not only contains great shots and stellar ideas brought to the screen that are executed well, but it even has a great score behind it! Scenes like this, and many others, that easily manage to implement proper timing in lines, dialogue, music, and cinematography, are why “Parasite” deserves as much praise as it is getting. It’s not too fast, not too slow, it’s just a masterpiece. “Parasite” is cut out to be the winner!

Continuing on, we dive to a category that is fairly exclusive to the art of film, not to mention television, Best Cinematography. Whether a movie is shot conventionally, as if it were ongoing, or in old timey black and white and full screen, the cinematographer behind each of these five nominees have not only helped the director carry out their vision, but let us, as an audience, visualize the surroundings of each story. Here are the nominees for Best Cinematography!

  • 1917 (Roger Deakins)
  • Ad Astra (Hoyte Van Hoytema)
  • The Lighthouse (Jarin Blaschke)
  • Parasite (Kyung-pyo Hong)
  • Us (Mike Gioulakis)

And the Jackoff goes to…

Roger Deakins for “1917!”

This is “1917’s” second win of the ceremony! Good news for Roger Deakins, not only did he get a Lifetime Achievement Award here named after him, but he does not have to wait ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen times to finally possess a respective award like this. “1917” is some of Deakins’ most innovative and groundbreaking work. Yours truly would probably consider “1917” up there with films like “Birdman” in the top 5 cinematography-related achievements of all time. Knowing Deakins’ achievements like “The Shawshank Redemption,” “The Big Lebowski,” and “Skyfall,” this certainly suggests something. Universal Pictures is responsible for “1917,” if Universal ever wanted to make a war themed ride to put out at one of their amusement parks, “1917” would be a great piece of inspiration for the product, and maybe it could be heavily based on the movie. Deakins, you are a god, and so is this spiritual experience of a film.

Our eighth Best Picture nominee is a glimpse into something that I myself have been through… Divorce. While I personally have never been married, as a child of divorce, I was able to emulate the emotions of at least what one person was going through during this motion picture. Featuring some of the year’s finest chemistry between leads Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, director Noah Baumbach has taken a concept often associated with struggle and turned it all into a slice of life roller coaster. It is a film that reminds us that we all have our own paths in life and they may not be easy to follow. Plus, even though they often say divorce is hardest on the children, the film displays hardships on the divorcing couple of Titanic-level tragedy. Nominated for 6 Jackoffs, THIS is “Marriage Story.”

One of the biggest film stories of 2019 is Disney’s finalized takeover of their recently purchased Fox assets. This included notable film studio names including 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight, and Fox 2000 (officially no more). They also have ownership of FOX-related networks like FX, FXX, and National Geographic. The Walt Disney Company now owns current movie franchises like “X-Men,” “Kingsman,” “Planet of the Apes,” and “Avatar.” They also own current TV shows like “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy,” “Bob’s Burgers,” and “9-1-1.” These additions have increased Disney’s empire-like presence over the media industry, leaving certain cinephiles worried about the history of film itself. In fact, one of my worries was that Disney was going to prevent making any R rated films in the future. I’m still scared that we may be getting a PG-13 “Deadpool” (despite various pieces of evidence that we are not), I am scared of the lack of diverse voices and types of films we could get down the line, and I am also scared of how Disney is going to be handling Fox’s past work. And with the new Disney+ app being successful, the company’s growth is definitely not grinding to a halt. Much to my surprise, Disney has since become less family-friendly, because they decided to go full George Lucas and change some Fox films of the past slightly. These changes are not the best for your next family movie night. For the record, I am one of the only people who has actually seen these changes, so it is my pleasure to share these with you. Here are some surprising changes Disney has made to Fox films of the past in a bit I like to call “Disbleep.”

Songs are more than music. Songs are more than just those tunes that get inside your head while on your way to work. To some, songs are a way of life and just a simple lyric can define the path one will ultimately take. These five songs here and now have demonstrated excellence through the combination of vocals and instruments. Here are the nominees for Best Original Song.

  • The Hide and Seek Song- Headquarters Music (Ready or Not)
  • Home to You- Sigrid (The Aeronauts)
  • I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away- Randy Newman (Toy Story 4)
  • I’m Gonna Love Me Again- Elton John, Taron Egerton (Rocketman)
  • Together From Afar- Jónsi (How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World)

And the Jackoff goes to…

“Home to You” by Sigrid, featured in “The Aeronauts!”

Fun fact about this particular win, this is the first win ever at the Jackoffs for an Amazon movie. Last year, “Cold War” was nominated for cinematography, which it ended up losing to one of the frontrunners, “Roma!” This year, Amazon has multiple movies represented including “The Report,” “Honey Boy,” and as of now, the Jackoff-winning film “The Aeronauts.” Amazon’s “The Aeronauts” never really sat well with yours truly as a story, partially because it involved a huge alteration regarding the main characters. However, once the movie ended and Sigrid’s “Home to You” began playing during the end credits, it sort of the captured the spirit the film seemed to be going for. The film does have an advantage compared to films like “Toy Story 4” and “Rocketman,” where I watched those films only once earlier on in the year. But the original songs from those films, as charming and well done as they are, never stuck with me. “Home to You” sounds like what I would want to hear out of a film presented in the style of what “The Aeronauts” was trying to be. Plus, “Home to You” in general comes off like a solid example of what an end credits song should be. It sort of adds a satisfying feeling to the table that I as a viewer probably did not think I would have needed. Sigrid sang her notes with serious skills, the song overall is soft, yet sweet, but because of the way it is presented, I personally cannot imagine a song like “Home to You” being done differently. Congratulations to Sigrid and to Amazon for earning their first ever Jackoff award! Don’t worry, the shipping’s free! If you want to listen to “Home to You” click the video below!

If actors are puppets, then directors are puppet masters. In case you all have recently lost track of time, it is the year 2020. Many people have put this year together with “20/20 vision.” As far as year the goes for 2019, its predecessor, specifically in films, these five directors have officially realized their own visions before a year of solid eyesight. Speaking of eyesight, it is through our eyes that we see these visions come to life on the big screen, and it is through future generations’ eyes where they see these visions on small screens. Here are the nominees for Best Director.

  • Sam Mendes (1917)
  • Alma Har’el (Honey Boy)
  • Rian Johnson (Knives Out)
  • Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)
  • Bong Joon Ho (Parasite)

And the Jackoff goes to…

Sam Mendes for “1917!”

Earlier in the decade, Mendes helmed two James Bond titles, “Skyfall,” and “Spectre.” At the end of this decade, Mendes took on the ambitious project of “1917,” the story of two soldiers who need to hand-deliver an important message. Mendes, through the power of solid directing, delivered a message too. The message that he does not mess around! All five nominees are incredibly deserving of being credited here, but Mendes delivered something with “1917” that was not only the product of a vision, but something that appears to be incredibly hard to make. Lucky for Mendes, he surrounded himself with solid talent including recently crowned cinematographer Roger Deakins, well-known actors including Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch, not to mention some solid artists behind sound and visuals. “1917” is a jaw-dropping epic from aspects including the stellar chemistry between characters to the groundbreaking “one-shot” idea that has been done before, but there is no denying that it is deserving of applause based on how well-executed it is here. One of the main goals of many war films is to make the audience feel as if they are a part of the action, maybe in a near-uncomfortable way. “1917” does that, and a lot more to satisfy someone like me. A hearty congratulations to Sam Mendes, and if Bong Joon Ho is reading this, sorry if this keeps you from having a drink. But nobody’s stopping you! So go party!

Our ninth Best Picture nominee is not a goodbye, nor a departure, but more of a welcoming to its audience to experience a story centered around tradition. Set mostly in China, it is the story of a woman who is terminally ill unbeknownst to her while she is surrounded by the family she has come to know, including a “stupid child.” Starring Awkwafina of “Crazy Rich Asians” fame, this film reveals the tragedy of loss while also reminding us that our own lives are beautiful in each of their own ways. In a year of phenomenal endings, this film delivers one of the most emotionally satisfying conclusions to a flick that yours truly has watched in 2019. Nominated for 3 Jackoff awards, THIS is the “The Farewell.”

This, like many awards shows, has probably taken as long as “Avengers: Endgame,” but three categories remain until you can all be disappointed that there is no end credit scene and just move yourselves away from here.

While it is certainly the director’s job convey the actions and emotions of a film, the job of a director, much like many other positions would likely not be possible in the film industry if it were not for the actors who show up to set, ready to interact with their ensemble. Actors can disappear in one moment from their real life persona, and magically reappear as a fictional character, or an icon that is about to deliver grace to the screen through the power of showmanship. These five actors, not to mention actresses, who we’ll get to in a second, have embodied well-contrived characters with proper execution. Here are the nominees for best actor!

  • Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)
  • Daniel Craig (Knives Out)
  • Adam Driver (Marriage Story)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)
  • Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems)

And the Jackoff goes to…

Joaquin Phoenix for “Joker!”

This may be the single-hardest category of the ceremony, sort of like last year. Sandler delivered what may have been a career-best performance that can make a viewer have a heart attack. DiCaprio portrayed a fine character and matched through great chemistry with supporting actor Brad Pitt. Speaking of chemistry, Driver killed it in the film “Marriage Story,” where his chemistry with Scarlett Johansson delivered one of the best argument scenes of the past few years. Craig helped craft something special with his performance of Benoit Blanc in Rian Johnson’s “Knives Out,” where he develops a southern accent and ignites the quirky fun to be had. But a Phoenix has risen. One reason why Rami Malek won last year for his performance as “Bohemian Rhapsody’s” Freddie Mercury is because of not only his ability to deliver lines, but to also be physically convincing. I cannot think about the “Joker” without directing mental attention to the “stairs” scene. It is something so simple, but it is also weirdly magical. The performance has everything from dramatic delivery of lines to convincing physical motions and endless laughter! As a comic book movie fan, I have noticed that throughout many performances given by those who played the villainous clown by the name of “The Joker,” they all feel like they belong in their respective environment. Even though I and many others are not particularly fond of Jared Leto’s “Joker” introduced in “Suicide Squad,” it is a decent representation of the character when considering its surroundings. “Joker” takes place in a depressing 1981, and Arthur Fleck is a fine embodiment to portray what could be an opposite for those meant to represent said time. Many of the characters in “Joker” are either serious or down. While Fleck definitely shows signs of being down, he is slightly more hyperactive, a little more upbeat. I left “Joker” feeling like I witnessed something kind of nuts, and part of it has to do with the bonkers, but serious portrayal of Batman’s arch nemesis. Here is a clip of Joaquin Phoenix in “Joker!”

And with a Best Actor win, also comes a Best Actress win. Here are the nominees for Best Actress!

  • Awkwafina (The Farewell)
  • Ana de Armas (Knives Out)
  • Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story)
  • Yeo-jeong Jo (Parasite)
  • Lupita Nyong’o (Us)

And the award goes to…

Scarlett Johansson for “Marriage Story!”

I was not lying earlier! The acting in “Marriage Story” is easily the best part of the movie. When it comes to actors, I have been debating who exactly this has been the year of. Is it Keanu Reeves? Is it Tom Holland? Is it Brad Pitt? Tom Hanks? Adam Driver? Chris Hemsworth, maybe? Let me direct your attention to an actress who may have had one of, if not her best year yet, official Jackoff winner Scarlett Johansson. While her first appearance in a film this year was uncredited, specifically in “Captain Marvel,” she quickly found a presence in the MCU’s next film, “Avengers: Endgame,” which without spoilers, she had a crucial role in. The film went on to gross over not one, but two billion bucks, eventually leading to its official crowning of the biggest film of all-time, beating James Cameron’s “Avatar.” Then she gives one of the finest supporting performances this year in Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit,” which she was also nominated for. But nothing beats “Marriage Story.” The film is not only a great look inside what happens when a divorce-bound couple is driving themselves up a wall, but it is enhanced through its performances, including Johansson’s. The actress portrays Nicole, who wants to make a life for herself in LA, as opposed to New York, a location where her husband (Adam Driver) seems to be more fond of. Partially through the excellent writing and direction, Johansson plays her character with absolute power, especially during the argument scenes. I felt the pain of this couple as they broke themselves down, mocking each other, and eventually setting themselves on fire internally. Here is a quick glance at Scarlett Johansson in “Marriage Story.”

We are nearing the very end of the ceremony, and we still have one more award to present, Best Picture. But before we get to that, we need to continue on with the show by awarding tonight’s second Lifetime Achievement Award. Specifically, the Stan Lee Award. For those of you unfamiliar with the Stan Lee Award, I gave myself the opportunity to award a posthumous Lifetime Achievement to one individual, which in the previous show’s case happened to be Stan Lee. Much like the Roger Deakins award, this award will forever remain named after the legendary comic book creator. Given how Stan Lee passed in 2018, it is now time to honor someone who passed in 2019. After all, we are the reaching the end of the road. Why not end said road… with the end? This year’s Stan Lee award is given to an influential name throughout the film industry. Born July 18th, 1933 in St. Paul, Minnesota, this individual was about to make a mark on movies like few ever would in terms of how they are presented. Given what he would do later in the realm of filmmaking, it should be no surprise that his father would read him pulp magazines like “Flash Gordon.” After graduating high school, he served in the U.S. Army, and went to Art Center School in California. Soon thereafter, he worked with Ford Motor Co.’s Advanced Styling Studio, and eventually started his own company in 1970. Phillips was a grand supporter of this fellow, becoming an early client who would receive designs down the road. Did I mention books yet? Yes, in an illustrious life of his, he took time to illustrate books too! This illustrious career also led to him providing architectural renderings for establishments including Intercontinental Hotels. It is no surprise that in a career that involves visuals, he would use those for the art of filmmaking. Providing an outlook for films including “Aliens,” “Tron,” “2010: The Year We Make Contact,” “Mission: Impossible III,” and “Tomorrowland,” the man has built quite the resume. Many of his credits come from the Art Department, including one of his finest achievements, “Blade Runner,” the influential noir flick from “1982” that would become a cult classic. He even came back for the sequel, “Blade Runner 2049,” thirty-five years later. Speaking of influence, while the man himself never had a credit for any portion of “Star Wars,” George Lucas suggested the design for the AT-AT is inspired by this gentleman’s art. Said gentleman released his autobiography in 2018 titled “A Future Remembered.” I’m sure your work, as far as the future goes, will be remembered for generations. This year’s Stan Lee award goes to Syd Mead!

In “Back to the Future Part III,” Doc Brown said “Your future is whatever you make it.” For Syd Mead, not only was he determined to make his future a great one, but develop many other futures along the way. From “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” to “Blade Runner 2049” these written futures would not be possible if it were not for Mead. Congratulations, and may you forever rest in peace.

Our tenth and final Best Picture is a triumphant story for the American car industry. During an unfortunate time for the Ford Motor Co., the organization must come up with a plan to remain relevant and avoid running out of gas. It is eventually thought out that the company must make a racecar to beat Italy’s Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans of 1966. With such thoughts in a drivers’ seat position, engineer Caroll Shelby, portrayed with excellence by Matt Damon alongside car driver Ken Miles come together to build the ultimate racing machine. The film dives deep into a revolutionary story for driving, but it does not take away from the just as revolutionary sound and overall theatrical experience such a film can deliver. Nominated for 4 Jackoff awards, THIS is “Ford v Ferrari.”

We are now in the final moments of the ceremony. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway can now say with pride that they DO NOT have to present Best Picture. So guess what? The Movie Reviewing Moron will do so himself! 2019 has been a haven for film fans everywhere. We were introduced to some fascinating titles like “Just Mercy,” “Richard Jewell,” “Queen & Slim,” and “The Two Popes.” How are they fascinating? I don’t know! I have not seen any of them! But, these ten films I am about to present to you right now have defined my film cycle of 2019. These are the films that I walked into with curiosity, watched with attention, and left with satisfaction, or maybe the desire for more. Although, this is not all about me, because these are YOUR VOTES, even though these ten movies are my personal faves, 13 of you got to choose which of these was your fave. Here are the nominees for Best Picture!

  • 1917 (Pippa Harris, Callum McDougal, Sam Mendes, Brian Oliver, Jayne-Ann Tengren)
  • The Farewell (Anita Gou, Daniele Melia, Andrew Miano, Peter Saraf, Marc Turtletaub, Lulu Wang, Chris Weitz, Jane Zheng)
  • Ford v Ferrari (Peter Chernin, James Mangold, Jenno Topping)
  • Honey Boy (Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Christopher Legget, Daniela Taplin Lundberg)
  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (Dean DeBlois, Bradford Lewis, Bonnie Arnold)
  • Knives Out (Ram Bergman, Rian Johnson)
  • Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach, David Heyman)
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (David Heyman, Shannon McIntosh, Quentin Tarantino)
  • Parasite (Sin-ae Kwak, Bong Joon Ho)
  • Ready or Not (Bradley J. Fischer, Willem Sherak, James Vanderbilt, Tripp Vinson)

And the Jackoff goes to…

“1917!”

This is “1917’s” FOURTH win of the ceremony! Of the six nominations “1917” has received prior to today’s show, it has also won Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, and Best Director. The film has also been nominated for Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing. It is also the first Best Picture winner distributed by Universal Pictures.

Films tell you a lot of things based on what is visually represented. But they can be provide great emphasis on the meaning of life. The reality of life is that you only live once, you have one opportunity to make your life the best it can be. YOU GET ONE SHOT. No do-overs. No mulligans. Just one shot. “1917” is a film that put me into a war zone by literally making the camera another set of eyes for about a couple of hours. With virtual reality becoming increasingly popular, it is safe to say that “1917” is one of the closest attempts in regards to filmmaking of getting to the scale and scope of virtual reality without goggles. One weird fact about “1917” is that despite being what one would technically refer to as a 2019 film, it released in most areas, at least most areas in the United States, in 2020. It’s safe to say that good things do come to those who wait. Stories involving war have always been a target for award shows. “Schindler’s List,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Dunkirk,” and now “1917.” Other Best Picture competitors such as “Knives Out” or “Ready or Not” mostly made me have fun and ignited my willingness to cheer at the screen at least once. “1917” on the other hand left me in silence as I tried to process whatever in the ever-living f*ck I just witnessed. Because the reality is that “1917” is one of the most competently made films I have seen from a technical perspective. I left the auditorium, after being in awe of what I just witnessed, applauding as a sign of respect to the crew who made the best possible movie they could, feeling as numb as a tooth in its last moments before getting a cavity filled. Critics have responded to this film with positive reviews, leading to its 78 on Metacritic and 89% on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences have also responded to this film with a current score of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes and a decent run at the box office so far. Therefore it is no surprise that “1917” has won the popular vote! The film really has had quite the run in regards to this year’s award season. It spun the Golden Globes to receive Best Picture-Drama. Not only did it win the DGA, but also the PGA! It flocked across the pond to take home a BAFTA. And now, it has received the most important movie blogging award in history, the Jackoff! Congratulations to the producers, cast, crew, and all others behind “1917!” You have won Best Picture!

Thanks for tuning to the 2nd Annual Jackoff Awards! An epic as stretched out as “Avengers: Endgame!” If you made it to the end, I love you 3,000! You’re unbelievable! I hope you enjoyed this one of a kind style of award shows that maybe unintentionally puts a person to sleep, and I will hopefully be doing a third edition come 2021. I should point out, I’m thinking of changing the name, but that is not a certainty at this point. Congratulations to “1917!” for winning Best Picture, plus the other four victories it snatched at this point! Congratulations to “Parasite” and “Knives Out” for receiving the most nominations for tonight’s ceremony! Congrats to all the other nominees! You’re all breathtaking!

That’s the show! Follow Scene Before through an email or WordPress account, check out the blog’s Facebook page, and my personal Twitter account (@JackDrees) for the latest shenanigans from the Movie Reviewing Moron! Peace out! Stay tuned for more great content! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Spies In Disguise (2019): #TeamWeird

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“Spies In Disguise” is directed by Nick Bruno and Troy Quane, stars Will Smith (Men in Black, Suicide Squad) alongside Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Lost City of Z), and this is the latest animated feature from Blue Sky, the creators of films including “Rio,” “Epic,” and “Ice Age.” This film follows the adventures of showoff spy Lance Sterling (Smith) as he eventually runs into the quirky and hyperactive Walter Beckett (Holland). When the two first meet, their chemistry does not quite match, causing a bit of a ruckus between them. Speaking of things that cause a ruckus, the film involves Sterling’s accidental transformation and adaptation to the life of a pigeon. Meanwhile, Sterling is also in a situation where he has been framed.

Before we go any further, I do want to remind you all that this is my final film review of 2019, and what a better way to end than by touching upon a movie where Agent Jay and Spider-Man collide, amirite? Now, while this was not a film I was planning on seeing instantaneously, I recall seeing a trailer or two for this film in the theater earlier this year. During that time, my curiosity meter increased. But as I went in, part of me was still skeptical as to how this could turn out. As much as I have enjoyed a good portion of Blue Sky’s work, I was worried that this movie could end up being a little more disposable than I’d like. And in some ways, I guess it is. It relies a bit on gross and toilet humor, there’s even a scene that I probably want removed from my memory as soon as possible.

I have to ask all of you, what is the most disturbing sight you’ve witnessed in a kids movie? Because while I cannot confirm what mine would be at this point. I would probably need to think about it, but there’s a scene that I am truthfully surprised this movie was somehow able to get away with. There is a brief clip where we get a look at this chubby naked dude and it shows pretty much the entire backside of his body, including his magnificent ass. Seriously, watch the movie, it’s actually pretty spectacular.

MOVE OVER, CAPTAIN AMERICA! THERE’S A NEW PLAYER IN TOWN!

And the film is kinda sorta what a parent would want when they need to waste an afternoon with their kid. It’s fun, but also kind of unmemorable. You’re not really getting the quality that you would come to expect from say your typical Pixar fare nowadays. It’s a film that is sort of cliche, sort of been there done that, not to mention done better, but it his a few elements here and there that still make it a fun time at the movies.

I also have to say, when it comes to Will Smith’s character, I’d say he was very well portrayed given the writing and overall style of the film. After all, it is an animated film, which does allow for, not to mention celebrate, enhanced hyperactivity. Lance Sterling is essentially the result of what would happen if Michael Bay were black and fought crime. He often tends to reveal personal enthusiasm or excitement towards explosions, violence, flying through helicopters in ways that don’t really make any logical sense, and whatever other way he can show himself off. The movie’s second scene does a really good job at showing Smith’s character in all of his glory. He’s basically what would happen if Po from “Kung Fu Panda” became a spy. I say that because Po often displays a sense of enthusiasm from his particular martial art, and while spying is not kung fu, Po would probably take various elements from his passion, which seems to be fighting for good, hold onto them, and continue to express himself as the “most awesome” fighter ever. In fact, to put two and two together, Lance Sterling is referred to as “the most awesome spy.”

To add onto this supposed awesomeness, Sterling in this film is displayed as kind of a narcissist. Even though he is often responsible for people’s lives and has to save the day, he thinks that he is a step above those around him just because he’s, well, him. We see a scene where he’s given a marathon of compliments in a giant lobby, and if he were invited to a party of spies, he’d be a hit based on what I can assume from that short moment. I will say though, and this is my opinion, this narcissism of Sterling’s, while definitely a defining character trait, also kind of made him somewhat of an asshole, most notably during the beginning portions of the picture.

As much as I like Will Smith, I also have a soft spot for Tom Holland, considering he has one of the best interpretations of a comic book-based character of all time. He stars in this film alongside Smith as a young, millennial, aspiring inventor and scientist who went to MIT in his younger teen years. In fact, when we first see him, in a scene that almost felt like it was ripped out of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” he shows off this invention that sort of reveals his personality. This makes him almost a polar opposite of Smith’s character once they team up, because Smith lives for violence, whereas Holland is almost kind of a pacifist. Much of his character’s traits revolve around him being happy or optimistic or peace-loving. I think the mismatched chemistry was a good idea and helps build a lesson for younger viewers, specifically the notion that sometimes problems can be solved without anger or destruction.

I mentioned one problem I had with the film early on in the review, specifically how it does something that I almost wonder how it got in the film in the first place. Maybe it’s not as graphic as I thought, it’s just something that I do not usually expect to see in an animation like this. However, this movie is not afraid to let in a swear. Seriously! There is a moment where Lance Sterling is in a sticky situation and the moment basically called for a joke where he drops a bomb. For those of you who are possibly parents who want to protect your kid, don’t worry, it’s censored! I’d also say the film is still predictable and kind of standard as far as modern animations go, but it still manages to handle itself quite well in the process.

In the end, if you have kids, I think this might be a fine afternoon outing of some sort. If you want to go see a movie for matinee price, I’d recommend this. Maybe if you have A-List, it would be a slightly higher recommendation. Maybe you should wait until it becomes available on DVD, maybe go see “Star Wars” for the second or third time. But just to remind you, Disney wins either way. After all, this is a Fox movie.

And we all know the fate of that company…

Anyway, I don’t think I’ll ever rewatch “Spies in Disguise,” at least not in the near future. It’s by no means a bad movie, but it is one that I am almost surprised I have not forgotten by now. I have a feeling if I were a general audience member, maybe I’d forget about it at this point, maybe fairly soon. But like most of the movies I have seen this year, the positives tend to outweigh the negatives. It’s not Shakespeare, but it’s a good time. I’m going to give “Spies in Disguise” a 6/10.

Thanks for reading this review, 2019 is finally over and I have had one heck of a year. I will be kicking off 2020 in style, because tomorrow is the release of my top 10 BEST movies of 2019. Speaking of which, the day afterwards, I will be following this up by revealing my top 10 WORST movies of 2019. I’m not going to give much hints as to what will be on those lists, but I am excited to continue my annual countdown tradition, and I hope you enjoy the content! Speaking of content, if you want to receive the latest updates from Scene Before, follow the blog either with a WordPress account or email! And speaking of stalking my daily life, go on over to my Facebook page and give it a like! It really helps me out! I want to know, did you see “Spies in Disguise?” What did you think about it? Or, since this is my final review of the year, what is your favorite and/or least favorite movie of 2019? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Jojo Rabbit (2019): Hitler Can Be Fun

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“Jojo Rabbit” is directed by Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, The Hunt For the Wilderpeople), who also plays the character of Adolf Hitler in this movie. Alongside Waititi, the film stars Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Scarlett Johansson, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant, Alfie Allen, and Sam Rockwell. This film is about a young boy living in Nazi Germany by the name of Jojo. We see him at the start of the movie, trying to become part of Hitler’s force. However, he is eventually revealed to be wimpy compared to those around him, which partially inspires the titular nickname “Jojo Rabbit.” The film also explores Jojo’s life at home, when he eventually finds himself in a situation where he is living with an enemy of many Nazi Germans, a Jew.

I have not seen much of Taika Waititi’s work. Admittedly, as much as it makes me look like a bad moviegoer, the only film of his (specifically, the ones he hasn’t had an acting role in) I managed to see happens to be “Thor: Ragnarok.” Judging from that, Waititi definitely has his own style when it comes to his movies. Granted, judging from the fact that “Thor: Ragnarok” is a Marvel movie, it follows a lot of the beats to fulfill the requirements of what makes one of those films possible. If you ask me, I think “Thor: Ragnarok” is almost the most overrated Marvel movie. It’s good, but I really think they should have toned down on the humor, and the vibe should have fit with a lot of the dark ideas the movie seemed to have going for it. I mean, THE CITY OF ASGARD IS IN DEEP S*IT! Now that “Ragnarok” is in the past, Waititi went on to direct this film, which if I had to be honest, is better than “Thor: Ragnarok.”

Now that I had a week to think about “Jojo Rabbit,” I just realized that this film and “Ragnarok” manage to have something kinda sorta in common that I could not quite grasp at first. Both of them feel like parodies. Granted, “Jojo Rabbit” IS a parody, but that’s not the point. When I watched “Thor: Ragnarok,” I was not able to appreciate the humor that they were trying to hammer inside my head. I thought it was quite unnecessary. But there are various parts of “Thor: Ragnarok,” and I won’t get into them, that might as well be part of a rather effective big budget “Saturday Night Live” sketch. I have not gone back into the past to view Waititi’s earlier work, but it does make me curious as to what he has up his sleeve in the future. How far will he go with the humor? If he goes on to direct “Thor: Love and Thunder,” is he going to make it a pure comedy? I don’t know, but it would at least be interesting to see.

And speaking of long, deep thoughts, this movie managed to do something quite extraordinary and rather unexpected. Once again, this is a parody film. Keep that in mind. But Nazism is one of the most serious subjects that one could talk about or put in a motion picture. As someone who knows the Nazis were objectively evil, I cannot help but point out that this film made Nazis look fun. Based on pure entertainment value, I wouldn’t say that’s an entirely bad thing. I don’t mean any offense when I say this, but between Hitler, a book burning scene, and a few funny moments here and there, “Jojo Rabbit” managed to surprise me immensely.

Keep in mind, for those of you who are thinking this movie is about Hitler, guess what? It’s not. Adolf Hitler in this movie plays an important role, but if you are expecting this to be a movie about Hitler, you MIGHT be disappointed. Personally, the real concept behind this movie is one that I would love to shout from the rooftops. As mentioned, this movie is about a young kid, who goes by the name Jojo. There are various scenes in the film where Hitler appears, but each time, it’s all a figment of Jojo’s imagination. Basically, Adolf Hitler in this film is Jojo’s imaginary friend.

AWESOME.

Staying on the topic of Hitler, Taika Waititi does a really good job at playing him. The movie also somehow did a good job at making him a charming, relatable character. One of the first scenes where I see him talking to Jojo, he talks about how people made fun of him in the past. He then advises Jojo to “Be the rabbit,” which is a suggestion to take a nickname that is seemingly derogatory, but use it to make yourself a better human being.

I will also say that the kid who plays Jojo, otherwise known as Roman Griffin Davis, did a pretty good job. For the record, as I write this review, I have looked at both his Wikipedia page and his IMDb page. According to both sources, “Jojo Rabbit” is the dude’s only acting credit. The only other piece of media, at least according to IMDb, featuring Roman Griffin Davis in some way, shape, or form is an episode of “Entertainment Tonight Canada.” I am not sure how much training or practice Jojo had before taking on this film, but for a first time performance, this was nothing short of a job well done. Personally, despite being a actor of his particular experience level and age range, this didn’t feel like a first time performance, which may be the best compliment I can give.

Overall, the cast of “Jojo Rabbit” completely stands out in the best possible way. Again, I mentioned that despite the evils of Nazism, certain elements of the film made it look like a party, which made the final product particularly interesting. This is why I liked the performance from Rebel Wilson’s character, which I’m glad to say because if you know me in real life, I am not that big of a fan of her. To be honest, her acting job in “Jojo Rabbit” may be the first likable performance I have seen from her. This may be the first movie I liked featuring her too. “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” comes close, but it just misses the mark.

I think one of the best parts of the movie, even though it ended up going in a direction I did not think it was going to go, is the screenplay. When I saw this film being marketed, I thought it was going to be a full-on satire. Imagine “Spaceballs” but with Nazis. And in a way, I kind of got that, the movie wasn’t as funny as I was originally anticipating it to be. That’s a small problem of mine, but the movie also has a serious plot to it that I can kind of get behind. There is a scene, about two thirds of the way through the movie, that has an enormous amount of tension that I really dug. When I walked into “Jojo Rabbit” I was expecting to laugh myself to death. I cannot say I did that. Instead, this movie managed to bring a surprising smile to my face. I felt utterly alive.

In the end, I had a good old time with “Jojo Rabbit.” It’s probably not the gutbuster I was expecting it to be, but it is still a damn good couple of hours. This is a movie that manages to make Nazis look fun, while also reminding me of their evils and what terrible things they have done. The movie kind of concludes on a surprisingly less than pleasant note. I say that because this film starts out with a clear humorous vibe. It’s kind of wacky and silly overall. Is it perfect? I wouldn’t say so, there are some minor issues. But I think there is enough in the film for me to think to myself that I’d want to watch it again. I’m going to give “Jojo Rabbit” an 8/10. Thanks for reading this review! My next review is gonna be up very soon, which is for the new Amazon movie “Honey Boy.” I was just recently at a free screening at a local arthouse theater for the film, so I will have my thoughts on that very soon. Also, I just saw a new movie this weekend at my local IMAX, specifically James Mangold’s “Ford v Ferrari.” A review for that will soon hit the interwebs, and I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts on it. If you want to see my thoughts on either of these movies, or other content from the Movie Reviewing Moron, be sure to follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account! If you are on Facebook, be sure to check out my page and give it a like, it really helps me out! I want to know, did you see “Jojo Rabbit?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a movie that you went to see, not to mention liked, that you were expecting to be funny, but turned out to be serious? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Spider-Man Is BACK IN THE MCU!

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! So next week, I’ve been thinking about seeing “Joker,” the latest of the neverending trend that we like to call “comic book movies.” And I’ll tell you, the movie looks pretty freakin–WAIT A MINUTE! HOLD THE PHONE! SPIDER-MAN JUST RETURNED TO THE MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE!

This information, to me, came completely out of the blue. I was just enjoying my Friday off from school, summing up my thoughts on the latest movie I’ve gone out to see, when all of a sudden, I’m on social media, and a Variety article comes up with a headline that at this point looks too good to be true. Once I saw the headline “Spider-Man Will Stay in the Marvel Cinematic Universe,” there was only one thing to do.

DO SOME CARTWHEELS AND ALERT THE FREAKING MASSES!

I try to maintain a level of professionalism on this website. There are definitely signs that may suggest otherwise, but that’s because I want my blog to be fun, not boring, not unoriginal. I want everything to stand out. So with that in mind, THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS I’VE HEARD IN MY LIFE! HELL TO THE FREAKING YEAH! BOOM!

Now, let me just say, Spider-Man is my favorite superhero of all time, and if you have not been following my favorite superhero of all time in the news recently, you’d know that Disney and Sony had a little scrap. For some years now, Sony had the ability to spend money on a new Spider-Man movie, but Marvel Studios (owned by Disney) helps out in making those movies come to life and in return, their side gets a portion of the money, all of the merchandising rights, and a couple of chances to show Spider-Man off in other movies they happen to be making. Sony also gets the chances to retain rights to solo Spider-Man filmmaking as they have already come out with films like “Venom” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” But this was recently interrupted because Disney asked Sony for greater permission on the content, but Sony said no.

The original deal had Sony making 95% of the box office totals on films that would eventually be known as “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” This means for those movies, Disney would gain 5% of the box office. After the exciting news of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” becoming Sony’s highest grossing movie ever, it was a great sign that the deal seemed to have worked out. Both Disney and Sony are making money on Marvel Studios films, Disney is getting merch money, and Sony gets to make money on their own “Spider-Man” films outside the MCU. But Disney asked for Sony to co-finance and split profits on upcoming “Spider-Man” films. Sony wasn’t satisfied with Disney’s new proposal, so they were no longer involved with the MCU. But, a “Spider-Man 3” was still planned. So they were going to make the movie on their own, without Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige’s involvement, which seemed kind of difficult because if you ask me, Spider-Man currently represents an enormous part of the MCU’s current storyline. With several main characters we currently know having disappeared, Spider-Man may be the next crucial main character for Marvel’s phase 4 and on. He was taken under the wing of Tony Stark, he tried to make him proud from time to time, and now he is trying let Stark’s legacy live on. This separation would have been bad because Sony probably couldn’t use any of Marvel Studios’ other properties or characters if they needed to, and future Marvel Studios films would probably have to come up with some lame or cheesy excuse as to why Spider-Man is not with the Avengers.

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Did he have too much homework?

Is he busy with The Daily Bugle?

Did he not feel so good? I mean, come on!

Nevertheless, as of Friday, Sony and Disney have reunited with new terms that may seem to work out for both of them. And that was one thing that I personally was worried about, because as much as I want Spider-Man in the MCU, I understand why Sony left, and I would have rather had Sony leave the way they did as opposed to having them go along with the 50/50 terms because that means they lose control, or at least partial control of their biggest property, and let’s face it, if this were a game of Film Studio Monopoly, Disney would be winning. They own Boardwalk (most of Marvel), they own Park Place (Lucasfilm), there are hotels on both properties, and you might as well say that they own Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Pacific Avenues, all of which represents the remains of 21st Century Fox, and they are starting to build on those properties as we speak. If Sony were playing this game, they’d be better off landing on the go to jail spot over and over again. I’m not saying they are in danger of going out of business, but still. Luckily, things are being kept in check, because while the deal is no longer a 95/5% difference between sides, it is now 75/25%, with Sony gaining most of the profits. And while this may seem like a significant increase right now for Disney, it may be worth it in the end. Because Sony is still putting some of their eggs into the basket of their own Spidey content, including “Venom 2” which is currently in development.

Despite how much I may point out how Disney is making “too much money,” there’s not much wrong here with Disney wanting more money for these “Spider-Man” films. They’ve done their part when it comes to inserting soul into the character. But I think this deal should probably not go much higher, because Sony is the one distributing the film, and they are the ones paying for it to be made. I personally think 25% is the highest that I would be OK with Disney earning for these movies. Because if they are allowed to earn anything greater, then they might as well be snatching “Spider-Man” from Sony. Yes, Disney technically owns Marvel, but Sony is also in a position where Spider-Man movies are “their thing” and will probably end up being their greatest asset for the time being. It would be like Universal giving up “Fast & Furious” or Paramount giving up “Mission: Impossible” or STX Entertainment giving up “Bad Moms.”

I should also point out that in addition to this whole reunion, the spreading of joy and good news across the movie fandom, Sony put out a post recently of a little announcement that I think you all might enjoy.

One word. Hype.

I honestly almost couldn’t be happier because while Disney is still increasing their control on Spidey, it’s not like they’re hogging the entire plate. Sony gets to keep the rights, and Marvel Studios gets to keep Spider-Man in the MCU. And even if it is just for one more movie, it would help me as an audience member in getting some closure after the AMAZING mid-credits scene of “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” What mood am I in right now? Well, look down below!

I feel like dancin’ like I just don’t care! Booyah!

Thanks for reading this post! I just want to remind everyone that “Joker” comes out next weekend. Now, I want to go see it next weekend. I have time to go see it next weekend. But chances are, I’m not going to. I will say though, I do have tickets booked for the second weekend! I’m going to see “Joker” on Friday, October 11th in 70mm! Hopefully I can get a review up by the end of Columbus Day if I go see it then for the first time, or Indigenous Peoples’ Day depending on your preference, I cannot wait to check it out! As for this next weekend, I am not sure what’s going on. Maybe I’ll watch “The Fanatic,” the new John Travolta movie that just came out, because I kind of want to talk about it. It just seems like it would make for good material, so we’ll see what happens. Be sure to follow Scene Before with a WordPress account if you want to see new posts in your WordPress feed, or if you just want to subscribe with an email, you will be notified of new posts immediately through email. Stay tuned for more great content, and check out my Facebook page! I want to know, what are your thoughts on the latest news regarding Sony, Disney, Marvel, and Spider-Man? Are you happy to see him back in the MCU? Do you think a better deal could have been made? Or are you disappointed? Did you want to see what Sony could have done with Spider-Man without Marvel Studios? Leave your thoughts and opinions down below and I’m not sure about you guys, but bring on “Spider-Man 3!” I want it now! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

“This is terrific, Peter Parker’s story took a dramatic turn in ‘Far From Home’ and I could not be happier we will all be working together as we see where his journey goes.” -Amy Pascal (Producer, SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING and SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME)

Ready or Not (2019): The Greatest Hide and Seek Story Ever Told

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“Ready or Not” is directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, who worked together on projects including “V/H/S” and “Devil’s Due.” This film stars Samara Weaving (SMILF, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Adam Brody (Jennifer’s Body, The O.C.), Mark O’Brien (Republic of Doyle, Halt and Catch Fire), Henry Czerny (Mission: Impossible, Revenge), and Andie MacDowell (Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Jane by Design) in a film where a woman gets married, has a traditional wedding where everyone gathers together, the couple gives their vows, kiss, all the basics. But that’s not the important part of joining the family according to the side of the groom. Why? Because it is tradition for the family to play a game starting at midnight. As seen in previews and as somewhat suggested by the title, everyone is playing hide and seek. Samara Weaving’s character has to hide as everyone tries to find her, but if you have seen the trailers and heard much about this film, you’d know it’s not the normal game as one may expect. Instead of a pleasant game where everyone frolics around looking for the hiding individual, there is a sinister element involved.

“Ready or Not,” to my knowledge, is a movie that I did not hear much about until a couple months ago when the first trailer came out. But as soon as it came online and was brought to my attention, there was nothing I could do except watch it, which eventually led to me raving about it.

Take everything I have said about this seriously, because the trailer to this film just kills. Even if I never saw the actual film, I would at least recommend the trailer. If you know me in real life, then you must have known my excitement regarding the fact that the movie had a pre-release screening in Boston the day before it came out. I took advantage of the opportunity, scored myself two passes through a reservation online, invited my dad to tag along, and we hit the road!

And I’ll tell you what guys, this is a film that I was highly anticipating. Kind of like how I had massive expectations for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” recently. As far 2019 goes, “Ready or Not” was definitely one of my most anticipated films. There are a lot of instances where people set their expectations high and end up disappointed. Granted, my expectations for “Ready or Not” were not as high as some other films I have seen throughout my life, but as far as this year goes, my hype levels were astronomically high. Although I recently rewatched the trailer, because again, it’s awesome, and I read the comments, and everyone feels as if the movie reveals too much in its trailer. I won’t entirely say whether or not it does because it is not even out yet (except one element in just a moment), but holy crap! I think we may have my favorite film of the year so far!

As I type this review, I cannot tell a lie. My head is still f*cking spinning after what I just saw. This film is a combination of a dark comedy and horror, and it feels like it knows it wants to be that way. It meshes both genres together and creates a spectacular birthchild if you will. It’s not a film that gets confused about its own identity in the same way that a stereotypical middle-schooler would. The best way I can describe this film is referencing Pixar’s “Ratatouille.” You know that scene from “Ratatouille” where Remy takes a bite of one thing, takes a bite of another thing? Both have their own theme music, only to lead to a bite of both things at once which leads to an absurdly upbeat theme that lasts for a few seconds? That’s the best way I can describe “Ready or Not.” It’s hilarious and scary in the best ways possible. I know I said I won’t mention whether or not this movie’s trailer reveals too much, but one thing that I can say is that the trailer contains a number of the movie’s funny parts. This isn’t to say that the movie isn’t funny, but that is something to point out for those who are perhaps coming in for the comedy. It also does not mean that there are not any funny moments not shown in the trailer. I won’t go into detail about them, but this movie has more hilarity than what has already been exposed to most of the public.

In fact, one reason why this movie works so well is the characters. Samara Weaving plays the main character of Grace who I just plain adored. She was performed very well, had incredible charisma, and I bought into the relationship between her and the husband. By the way, the husband’s name is Alex Le Domas and he’s portrayed by Mark O’Brien. To me, Alex is probably one of the most out of field characters I have witnessed on screen this year, and I don’t mean that in a terrible way. His actions intrigued me, and his character went in multiple unexpected directions that made the movie lovable from my perspective. I won’t go into any of them, but I want to give the writers every ounce of credit possible for how they wrote him. When it comes to everyone else, my biggest salutes have to go to Henry Czerny (Tony), Kristian Bruun (Fitch), and Nicky Guadagni as the incredible Aunt Nadine. This lady is always either unhappy or crazy, and the actress portraying her manages to play the role with both traits at a level of absolute excellence. Even though her character is not the most prominent in the film, any screentime with her is a breath of fresh air.

And this film in some ways, reminds me of a film like “Avengers: Infinity War” because while I was not exactly rooting for the antagonistic side, I could see why they were doing what they were doing, and I could believe it or not, side with them. They have to find Grace, perform a ritual, and kill her. And they say that if they don’t do it before dawn, they’re all dead. So in reality, taking the standpoint of the protagonist (survival), or the standpoint of the antagonists (kill or be killed), if one side were to die in this situation, they would absolutely feel like they are doing the right thing for their own good. Not to mention in a way that makes them feel better about themselves. Granted, it’s a movie in a somewhat realistic and slightly intimidating setting for an adult audience, so I wouldn’t expect the antagonistic side to just be “a bad guy doing bad guy things,” but even with that in mind, the way this film plays out the rivalry and their motivations makes the screenplay completely worthy of my admiration. And even though I was able to feel bad at times for the antagonistic side even if their motivation seemed like it involved something that only they would believe, it does not change the fact that for just about every second I was rooting for Grace to run, hide, escape, just let this game of f*ckery come to an end. By the way, people die in this movie and when the deaths arrive, they are occasionally bonkers. You have to see them to believe them, they are masterpieces of darkness.

When it comes to other standouts, I really like the house this movie was shot in. This allowed for some noteworthy set and production design, a ton of dark rooms to highlight what kind of movie we were in for, and specifically for this film, a ton of reasons to intensify a simple game of hide and seek. I also think this film may have a shot during awards season at getting some costume design nominations. There are tons of outfits in the film that suit the characters well and are also impressively designed. I also really like how the film manages to elevate such a simple game traditionally played by children. If you told me five years ago that we’d be getting a movie with an intense hide and seek match, I don’t know what I would have thought, but I probably would have asked for something else. But having seen the trailer for this movie two months ago, I became interested. That interest was strong enough to make me go out and see it. Having seen it, I cannot help but endlessly recommend it.

One last thing I’ll say is this. The final moments in this film are as masterful as air conditioning on extremely hot days. There is a line that I won’t go into during the final three to five minutes of the film, but that line made me pull myself back in my seat, drop my jaw in shock, and place my hand on my head in utter disbelief. I don’t mean that in a bad way, in fact, the exact opposite. I was floored to the point where I went from really liking this movie to wanting to see it again at full price. Let me just remind you that this is a year of fantastic endings. We’ve had films like “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” which to this day is the only film to flat out make me cry in a cinema. Then came “Avengers: Endgame,” which not only had a geek wet dream come to life, but a satisfying finale to over 20 films that came before it. And just a few weeks ago we had “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” which… simply put, is a f*ckstravaganza of madness. Now we have “Ready or Not,” which has an ending that is as wild as it is satisfying. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” has the advantage of having the better climax and ending, but this film’s ending elevated its final verdict to me and if you ask me, “Ready or Not” as a film, to me, is better than “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

In the end, don’t hide, just RUN to the theater to go see “Ready or Not.” It’s a unique concept, has likable characters, and has an impressive amount of bloody violence to keep my eyes towards the screen. This film is from Fox Searchlight, a studio that happens to be a major contributor to many of the awards-type pictures that have come out in recent years. Will this movie be one of them? I don’t know, it’s possible, but it’s still August so I cannot exactly confirm that will be the case. Although many awards outlets are not that friendly to horror flicks so there’s a good chance “Ready or Not” may be ignored. But I will remind you, in Disney’s recent acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s assets, this is one part that they now can claim as their own. And movies like these are what I hope to continue to see from Disney with their new Fox additions. Movies that are compelling, original, and in the case of Fox Searchlight, small. Disney has recently exterminated Fox 2000, which is a sad move from my perspective, but if they eradicate or shrink the relevance of Fox Searchlight, that would be an even bigger mistake, and films like “Ready or Not” are why. This is a film that I want to see again, buy on Blu-ray, and this should not surprise you right now, I’m going to give “Ready or Not” a 10/10! Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that I just recently went to Terrificon over a week ago, I am currently working on a post related to my experience of the event, and I don’t know for sure, but I’m hoping it is up by the end of the week. Only time will tell though! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! If you are hiding from the real world and spending your days in the virtual universe of the Internet, I don’t know what you are doing, but who knows? Maybe you have Facebook. And if you have Facebook, do me a solid favor, check out the Scene Before Facebook page, give it a like, tell your friends about it, maybe your Facebook friends, and if you are an old school Internet junkie, tell your MySpace friends! I want to know, did you see “Ready Or Not?” What did you think about it? Or, have you played a whacked up edition of a particular game? If so, what was it like? Ready or not, let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Alita: Battle Angel (2019): A 26th Century Fox Film

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“Alita: Battle Angel” is directed Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Spy Kids), written and produced by the critically acclaimed James Cameron (Avatar, Titanic) and stars Rosa Salazar (Parenthood, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained, Spectre), Mahershala Ali (Green Book, Moonlight), Ed Skrein (Game of Thrones, Deadpool), Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children, A Nightmare on Elm Street), and Keean Johnson (Nashville, The Fosters). This film takes place in the year 2563, or 300 years after a massive war between planets leading to Earth’s devastation. When the film starts, we see a scientist assemble a girl who clearly has a consciousness but has no memory of major events that happened in the past. With that in mind, she decides to go on a journey to recover her memories.

This movie, to me, had a very bumpy road up until its official release. Word of mouth about it in terms of its development has been spoken since we hit the 21st century. At the turn of a new millennium, Fox registered the rights to the domain battleangelmovie.com and James Cameron registered the rights to battleangelalita.com, who has said for years that this film is in progress. He was going to do it after the production of the TV series “Dark Angel,” but he didn’t get to it. He wanted to get the thing done after the film “Aliens of the Deep,” once again, he didn’t get to it. After all, Cameron’s biggest priority during the late 2000s was “Avatar,” mainly because he wanted to bring awareness of environmental preservation to public audiences, which to be fair, is a pretty good reason to focus on a movie like that. Well, in addition to raking in over $2 billion at the box office… In August 2010, over a year and a half after “Avatar’s” release in theaters, Cameron stated he wanted to work on the “Alita” film, but he is having trouble getting around to it. Then came 2013, where Cameron happened to be in an interview with director Alfonso Cuarón (Roma, Gravity). Cameron suggested 2017 as the time to start working on the film. Coincidentally, shooting began in late 2016. And a year before that, The Hollywood Reporter stated that Robert Rodriguez was in talks to direct the film (a confirmation to direct would be announced in 2016). Said director was supposed to “condense and combine Cameron’s 186-page screenplay and some 600 pages of notes into what could be the shooting script.”

So basically, James Cameron is approaching his “Alita” project similar to how I would approach my high school crush. I’d start out looking at her, admiring her, trying to talk to her abd say hi once or twice, get her to notice me, only til I get to the point where I either lose that crush or I think she’s too good for me.

Although, I haven’t even gotten to the trailers yet! The first trailer for “Alita: Battle Angel” released at the end of 2017, and at the time, the film was scheduled to come out in July 2018. Then, the second trailer, which came out last year in July during San Diego Comic-Con, suggested the film would be out at the end of the year in December. If you ask me, that was a terrible decision made by whoever was in charge of the release, because then the film would have to compete with other titles such as “Aquaman,” “Mary Poppins Returns,” “Bumblebee,” and more. Luckily, they made the smart choice of moving the release date once again, this time to February 2019, as suggested in a trailer for the film which came out this past November. And it seems to have worked out in the film’s favor because it ended up making over $400 million worldwide, which is more than twice the film’s budget of $170 million.

But the real question is this… How was “Alita: Battle Angel” as a movie? Was it good? Was it bad? Was it ugly? My answer, none of the above! In fact, it was awesome! Remember back in 2015 when “Mad Max: Fury Road” came out? Personally, I don’t particularly like it as much as everyone else, but I for one have grown to appreciate the flick as a visual spectacle. There are numerous thrilling action sequences, the cinematography took a lot of effort to pull off, and damn it pulled off well! And the film is filled to the brim with practical effects. There are tons of vehicles specifically built for the film, the locations fit every scene quite well, and there are a number of stunts and movements throughout the picture that are kind of brilliant when you break them down. To me, this was that, but with CGI. Kind of like “Avatar” or “Gravity” or the 2016 “Jungle Book” remake because like those films, I almost questioned how the CGI looked as polished and stunning as it did. This film is the very definition of a visual spectacle, and I’m almost surprised that I am even saying that, because when I first looked at Alita herself from the first couple of trailers, I thought she I’d be slightly offput by her appearance. Not by her body, I am not a guy who wants women’s bodies to look a certain way, but… her eyes. Honestly, they didn’t even bother me in this film, and to be honest, they made Alita stand out to me in a positive way as the film went on. It let me know of the character I happened to be looking at. After all, when we first look at Alita’s face at the start of the film, she didn’t even have eyes. The eyes we see in the film were added on.

If anything, if I had to compare “Alita: Battle Angel” to another film visually, I’d say the best example would have to be last year’s “Ready Player One,” which if you have followed this blog for some time, you may know I adored that film. Visually speaking, it was hard at times to recall if I had seen anything like it. To this day, “Ready Player One” has some of the best CGI I have seen in a film because it creates this immersive video game world that I kind of wanted to be in, especially considering how it highlights the real world and how it has gone to s*it. I don’t think I’m going to have a great 2045, I think we’re going to be super low on resources! Give me my video game world now! Much like “Ready Player One,” “Alita: Battle Angel” spends much of the runtime being rather glossy, but in its own case, it also has some grittier looking images to take a gander towards. Down in Iron City, it kind of has a similar look to Wakanda from “Black Panther,” but with more to do around the area. Then again, I don’t typically imagine many Wakandans walking down a street to sample some chocolate so who knows? Plus, there’s one part of the city scenes that captured my attention.

The introduction of motorball.

Holy s*it, I seriously don’t get how people can watch football. I can watch motorball all day every day!

Motorball: The new sport for the universe.

Now I should point out that I have never introduced myself to the original source material of “Alita.” In fact, despite calling myself a nerd, anime and manga are two of my weakest areas when it comes to following the main aspects of geek culture. So in case you cannot tell, the concept of motorball is fairly new to me. But damn, I love it. It has the physicality of hockey, although perhaps greater physicality since everyone’s occasionally trying to kill each other, not to mention the adrenaline of NASCAR. It is a sight for the eyes if there ever was one.

And speaking of awesome moments with tons of CGI, let me just point out that you all should check out “Alita” just for the action alone. There’s some creative ideas to be witnessed, and there is one character in particular who has these chain wires coming out of his arm, it reinvents the word epic. Honestly, to me, these action scenes are up there with films like “The Matrix,” “Man of Steel,” and the “Lord of the Rings” franchise of how fantastically exhilarating the action can tend to get. It almost reminds me of a video game, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. I mean that in comparison to a bunch of flashy video games where everything is eye candy and it almost makes you feel like you want to be part of the action despite the possibility of getting killed. Damn, this movie is the bomb.

But this movie is not all looks, it has some decent characters too. I was rooting for Alita the entire time, I really liked the love interest she interacted with, specifically Hugo (Keean Johnson). I bought into the chemistry Alita had with her “father” and I really liked the backstory as to how Alita got her name.

But at the same time, since I have been talking about how unbelievable this film is, it should come as no surprise that my biggest problem should have to do with the characters. This is not to say that I hated anybody in particular, I have no beef with anyone. But when it comes to the film’s antagonistic side, it almost feels as if it doesn’t exist at times. For some reason, there have been numerous moments throughout the film that make it feel as if there happens to be no real threat. Granted there is a threat, but even when there is, it almost feels like it barely has a reason to be in there. And speaking of problems, there is a moment in the film where the “father” character, Dr. Dyson Ido, establishes a couple of rules with Alita, and that conversation tends to almost go nowhere in terms of how the rest of the film plays out. Granted, it partially goes somewhere, but it never feels like it has a full reason to exist. I won’t go too far into the rules or where they tend to go, but it’s something I wanted to point out. This is slightly nitpicky, but nevertheless, I feel it is also something that is important to establish.

In the end, “Alita: Battle Angel” gave me pretty much what I wanted. It’s enormous, it’s lively, and it’s boisterous. Overall, it’s probably the biggest spectacle of the year (maybe aside from Endgame). And based on how much I enjoyed this film, it kind of makes me forget about the development and post-production problems a little bit. I watched this film on 4K Blu-ray because I wanted to provide myself with as much of a spectacle as I can. Having done that, it kind of makes me mad at myself for not going to see this in a theater. Especially in IMAX 3D. There are several moments that if you have a 7.1 surround sound system, it will make you feel like you’re inside your screen. It’s what a movie is supposed to be, an escape. And in this case, “Alita: Battle Angel” is one escape that put me in a world which I never wanted to leave. I’m going to give “Alita: Battle Angel” a 9/10. I don’t know if this film will end up being for everyone, but for me, this was Heaven. As a nerd, I found myself loving the sci-fi and fantasy elements brought to the story. And from a technical perspective, “Alita” shines as bright as the sun. Plus, you know how a lot of people are still waiting for that “excellent video game movie?” Films based on anime and manga are almost in the same league as video games. The only ones that stand out, happen to do so for not so good reasons. I have not watched “Dragonball: Evolution,” but knowing enough about it, there is enough to support why I have not watched it yet. I don’t dive into anime and manga all that much in general, but still, this movie, unlike a lot of other similar entrants to its genre, is something special. I dig it, I would love to see a sequel, and if it comes back to theaters, I am there.

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that I just recently watched “Missing Link,” the new animated film from Lakia. I will have a review for that up as soon as possible, be sure to stay tuned for that! Also, this upcoming weekend, I will be at Terrificon so I will not be watching anything new from Friday to Sunday. But fear not! Because I will be doing a post reporting my activities from the con! That should be up sometime next week, hope you all get a chance to read it! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! And while I cannot promise you I am sharing my epic wins from playing motorball on there, be sure to like my Facebook page! It has updates on upcoming posts, it lets you know when new content is available, and I’ll even remind people of various milestones I hit on the blog every once in a while. Check it out, please! I want to know, did you see “Alita: Battle Angel?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite fictional sport? Willing to bet most of you are going to say Quidditch, aren’t you? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!