Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015): The Biggest Blast in the Galaxy

Hey everyone! Jack Drees here! It is the final day in the epic Scene Before event, 7 Days of Star Wars! We finished the prequel trilogy! We finished the original trilogy! And now, it is time for the sequel trilogy! Now as you may or may not know, I already reviewed “The Last Jedi” and “The Rise of Skywalker” on this blog before. Therefore, I will not be diving into those movies here because doing so would be somewhat repetitive. And if you are unfamiliar with the “Star Wars” franchise by any means, this implies that today I would be talking about “The Force Awakens.” This film has been one of the most impactful I have ever seen in my life. It is the only movie I have watched four times in the theater. It is the first film that I bought on Blu-ray in Steelbook form. And like many people, it revitalized my interest in “Star Wars.” Not to say I wasn’t interested before, but it practically gave me “Star Wars” fever in the same way that the original movie did to people back in 1977. The question is… Does it hold up five and a half years later? It is time to find out in the final episode of a miniseries I’m calling… 7 DAYS OF STAR WARS!

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is directed by J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Super 8) and stars Harrison Ford (The Fugitive, Air Force One), Mark Hamill (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Batman: The Animated Series), Carrie Fisher (The Blues Brothers, Family Guy), Adam Driver (Lincoln, Girls), Daisy Ridley (Silent Witness, Casualty), John Boyega (Attack the Block, 24: Live Another Day), Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina, Sucker Punch), Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave, Non-Stop), Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1), Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Max von Sydow (Minority Report, Flash Gordon). This film is set 30 years after “Return of the Jedi” and follows a group of people trying to seek the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi. At the same time, an ex-stormtrooper, a desert scavenger, and a BB droid must unite with Han Solo and Chewbacca to search for said Jedi all the while dealing with the currently enormous threat to the galaxy, the First Order, which is in control of the Death Star planet hybrid, Starkiller Base.

Imagine this… You are a mega fan of “Star Wars.” You saw all the movies. It’s been ten years since the prequels came out, when it seemed as if this franchise was done for good. But since Disney bought Lucasfilm, they’ve had plans to expand it since. This is where “The Force Awakens” comes in. Maybe one thing comes to mind, and that one thing is hype. After all, the trailers seem to promise a sense of direction that relates more to what we’ve experienced in the original films as opposed to the prequels, which have seemed to divide fans over the years. I think the hype that has been built up going into “The Force Awakens” is almost unlike any movie I’ve seen in my life aside from “Avengers: Endgame.” For the record, I think only one “Star Wars” movie surpassed “The Force Awakens” in terms of all time hype, specifically “The Phantom Menace,” but I was not born yet. But in the time that I’ve been alive, I remember the feeling I had going into “The Force Awakens.” I bought tickets in advance for what would end up being my SECOND screening of the film, which was for Tuesday December 29th, when I went to see the movie with my father. My first screening was purchased around the weekend it came out, amazingly there were still tickets available. I went with a few people I know, including one of my close friends who was mainly a Trekkie, but she watched the original films in preparation for this event and she enjoyed them. The hype was F*CKING REAL. Was “The Force Awakens” worth all that hype? Or was it something that would let me down in the end?

You bet it was worth the hype. And having rewatched it in preparation for this review, if anything, it has gotten better since my first viewing. I will admit, part of it may be because I watched it for the first time in a while, whereas in a year like 2016 I would watch it almost every other night over the spring, so it almost maintains a feeling of freshness, but this is a film that evokes the feeling of excitement. If the prequels have style and the originals have substance, then “The Force Awakens” probably has both! When this film came out, it was by far one of the most presentable “Star Wars” films yet. Granted, a lot of it has to do with maybe a greater sense of detail that has been built up over the years and better effects. But I look back at the original “Star Wars” and also notice that in this film, they do a lot more movement with the camera and attempt to make this newer installment slightly more immersive. The flight sequences in “The Force Awakens” are probably the most dazzling in the franchise. We see the camera attached to the side of an X-Wing, maybe we’re inside an X-Wing, maybe we’re flying in the air and the camera goes through an explosion as we head into it. There is a lot to love in this film in terms of flight. And it’s not just the craft we fly like TIE Fighters and X-Wings, but the characters we meet along the way.

Poe Dameron : What’s your name?

Finn : FN-2187.

Poe Dameron : F… What?

Finn : That’s the only name they ever gave me.

Poe Dameron : Well, I ain’t usin’ it. FN, huh? Finn, I’m going to call you Finn. Is that alright?

Finn : Finn. Yeah. Finn. I like that. I like that.

Poe Dameron : I’m Poe. Poe Dameron!

Finn : Good to meet you, Poe!

Poe Dameron : Good to meet you too Finn!

The scene where Finn an Poe first meet is up there with one of my favorites in the franchise. Because after a series of three movies where we see semi-unrelatable Jedi who almost have no emotion whatsoever, we get these two individuals who let out any single sense of emotion they have within them. There’s this moment where Finn takes out a couple cannons on a Stardestroyer and the next thing we see is them cheering out of satisfaction. Finn just lets himself loose and Poe soon joins in. They’re having the time of their lives. While it is noticeable that Anakin and Obi-Wan have become good friends over the years, they honestly don’t feel like “buds” or actual people with things in common other than the Jedi way. These two in just a matter of moments let out more emotion than we’ve seen in a couple of entire prequel movies.

In fact, that is something I really want to talk about. This movie, much to my delight, goes into a direction that truly humanizes “Star Wars.” And it is not to say that the series has not done that already. “A New Hope” is about being a larger than life individual and the steps that a hero takes to get to that larger than life status. But here, they go as far as to humanize Stormtroopers, who we find out are actual people who can remove their helmets. To be fair, this should not be TOO surprising, as Darth Vader had a helmet that could be removed, but it is something that at least in the movies, has never been seen in “Star Wars” before. There is a scene Finn removes his helmet and we see his pain, his exasperation. He just finished his first battle and he is clearly not thrilled with what he has witnessed. I feel like writers J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, and Michael Arndt were in a room together and constantly asked each other what ways they could evoke more actual human emotion into the franchise, because they not only manage to do that with something as robotic as Stormtroopers, but with the brand new villain, who I would argue is my favorite of the Disney “Star Wars” characters, Kylo Ren.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Ph: Film Frame ©Lucasfilm 2015

When it comes to “Star Wars,” Darth Vader is seen as the biggest of all baddies. That is written in stone. None of the prequel villains like Darth Maul ever surpassed Vader’s legacy in terms of how they were represented in the movies. There are days that I look at Kylo Ren however, and see something in him that makes him come off as more likable than Vader. And I’ll tell you why… He’s not exactly fearsome. He talks a good game. He wields a sparkly red lightsaber that almost looks like it’s on life support, but somehow it looks pretty badass. He stops blaster bolts with the force, which provides for one of my favorite shots of the film where we see Poe getting dragged to Kylo by a couple troopers. But he is so busy fanboying over Vader’s legacy, trying to be him or surpass him. After all, as people, we all look up to someone and hope their qualities that we may take from them will lead to a successful path in life. And Kylo kind of reminds me of myself a little because he sometimes will lose his temper and take his anger out on electronic devices. He kind of feels like an angry gamer playing “Cuphead” and he can’t make it past the one boss that will lead you to the next island. It’s HILARIOUS. I don’t know how this statement will be received… But aside from Luke Skywalker, Kylo Ren may be the character in the “Star Wars” franchise that I relate to the most. Feels weird to say, but it is true. In fact, that is part of the humanization of this film that really stands out, the humor. “Star Wars” is one of those franchises that comes off as funny to me without the characters exactly being funny. That has stood true in films like “The Empire Strikes Back.” But this film takes the humor to another level.

Poe Dameron : Wha- why? Why are you helping me?

Finn : Because it’s the right thing to do.

Poe Dameron : You need a pilot.

Finn : [chagrined]  I need a pilot.

There is so much that goes on in this film in terms of attempts at comedy that honestly don’t feel forced. They feel like a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie where every humorous quote blends naturally into the conversation or scene. Every shining character from Finn to Han to Chewbacca to Rey has at least funny moment in the film, even if it is minor or something that could be glossed over. And speaking of Rey, let’s talk about her.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Ph: Film Frame ©Lucasfilm 2015

I went into “The Force Awakens” during my initial screening thinking I’d like Rey, but after multiple rewatches, I practically admired the character more and more. Kind of like Luke Skywalker was, she seemed somewhat hesitant to go on her journey, but also like Luke, it made the character somewhat relatable. She was emotional, sometimes giddy, observant of her surroundings, and she has great chemistry with Finn. I think the first three to five minutes with her are some of my favorite in recent “Star Wars” history because it comes without any dialogue, at least none out of her specifically, and in those moments, I have practically learned the base of what I need to know about her. She lives in a slightly ruined, but also civilized desert, she lives by herself and makes the most of what she has, but she’s looking for an escape at the same time. This is well established by her exiting her unusual home, sitting in the sand, and watching a spacecraft fly up. She clearly longs for a way out of her life and the movie did a great job at encapsulating that.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Ph: Film Frame ©Lucasfilm 2015

But this film is not all about the new characters. Because these new characters get to journey alongside Han Solo and Chewbacca, and every time I watch this movie, I think Han Solo gives a good performance, but it is arguably his worst when it comes to this specific character. Maybe it’s because the character is not in their prime and seeing a grizzly Han admittedly takes a little getting used to, but it’s nice to know Harrison Ford is still going strong in these films. As for Chewbacca, he is played by two people. In some scenes, he is portrayed by Peter Mayhew, and in others he is played by Joonas Suotomo. It’s nice to see Han and Chewie back together because I think their relationship, and this was also highlighted in the “Solo” spinoff movie, has been one of the franchise’s biggest standouts. To see them both together feels natural and fun. There’s also a great gag where Han Solo tries out Chewbacca’s gun, and he seems to be quite impressed with it. Admittedly, as fun as it is in the movie, one SLIGHT nitpick I have with that, and it is a very small one, it does not take too much away from the film itself. It feels very weird to know that in the extended number of years that they’ve known each other, Han has supposedly never tried Chewbacca’s gun out. Maybe there’s a reason. Maybe it’s the typical instinct thing that Wookies have that kind of makes them go wild. I mean, if Chewbacca can tear off somebody’s limbs after losing a friendly match of a holographic game on the Millennium Falcon, or as LEGO Batman calls it, “Space Checkers,” you can only wonder what would happen if somebody touches his gun. Then again, he probably trusts Han after many years of standing by each other. Who knows? Just something I wanted to bring up.

We also have Leia, who as of this movie, has been deemed a “Disney Princess.” But in this movie, we see that she and Han, somewhat unsurprisingly, have stuck around over the years. And I will admit, when it comes to “The Force Awakens,” the first scene that we see of her and Han in the same frame is the one that arguably gets me the most nostalgic about the “Star Wars” franchise aside from Han admiring the Falcon cockpit and Han referring back to the old days where he remembers his skepticism about the Jedi and how his thoughts have changed since. And speaking of nostalgia, let’s dive a little further into it.

“Star Wars” has become part of many people’s lives. And for lots of them, their first exposure was the original movie, which is phenomenal even by today’s standards. “The Force Awakens,” according to many people, feels like a ripoff of “A New Hope.” To me, I do not like to use that word. Because to call it a ripoff would mean that I did not like the movie. To me, this film took the plot lines of “A New Hope,” tinkered with them, and successfully made an extremely effective picture. To me, “The Force Awakens” is more like a homage and tribute to what makes the franchise great than anything else. “Star Wars” has always been revered mainly because of the success of the original trilogy. People like it for other things too, but mainly the original trilogy. So I have a feeling that J.J. Abrams or Lawrence Kasdan or Kathleen Kennedy wanted to consider the people who did not like the prequels, and give them something that they’re probably more likely to enjoy. And to do that, there was a sense of nostalgia every other step of the way between X-Wings, TIE Fighters, Death Stars, characters we already knew from prior films, and so on. In a way, this is basically a VERY WELL DONE “Star Wars” greatest hits album. It takes everything people like about “Star Wars” and puts them all into a beautiful package. And I’m surprised that people feel like this movie is too familiar. Yes, some of the story beats are similar to the original trilogy. There’s a big planet killer, a guy with a red lightsaber and helmet that wants to destroy the galaxy, there’s someone else with a blue lightsaber trying to save the galaxy, there’s a space battle towards the end, there’s a scene where the Millennium Falcon gets caught in a tractor beam. There’s a lot that this film takes from entries prior. But I’d say that it is, as people say, similar to the original “Star Wars,” and I’ll add, it comes with a hint of darkness from “The Empire Strikes Back” sprinkled in between. There’s even blood in this movie! I like that little detail they added in!

If anything, and I say this as a huge fan of “Revenge of the Sith,” this feels like a “Star Wars” reunion party that has been built up for years. One that in a way, semi-apologizes for the prequels. Disney is the host, the mass audiences are all invited in, we go to the theater, head to the auditorium, and once that opening crawl commences and we get to the nitty gritty of the film, the movie is basically screaming “WELCOME BACK!” to all of our faces. This film is most certainly nostalgic to the tenth degree, but manages to interweave that nostalgia with a brand new story and set of characters that I have grown to admire over a couple of hours.

One last thing before we get to the final verdict. I really need to know this. If John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, or anyone else who worked on the film can confirm, I have a question about… This scene. Because I think I may have interpreted it much differently than a lot of other people who saw the movie.

In this moment, is BB-8 giving a thumbs up or is he flipping Finn off? I know the video title goes with the former, but still! When I saw this film at the theater, I always thought BB-8 was flipping Finn off. After all, when you present a light of fire at somebody, it almost signals a threat. Besides, BB-8 originally tried to electrocute Finn on Jakku. And yes, he’s kind of warmed up to him, but it’s almost like BB-8 smells a rat and is telling Finn, “I’m onto you.” At least that is what my interpretation is of what is going on. So if anyone involved with Lucasfilm or “The Force Awakens” could confirm this to me, please do.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Ph: Film Frame ©Lucasfilm 2015

In the end, “The Force Awakens” puts the fun back in “Star Wars” after years of emotionless movies with somewhat dull characters. We now have humanized individuals, including the big bad villain who unlike Vader, is much more man than he is machine. If anything, this almost reminds me of an animated film because you know how in animated films like “The Lion King” or “A Bug’s Life” they’ll take creatures that are not human and personify them by giving them human voices? This reminds me of that because they took characters like Stormtroopers and others who are robotic and gave them all personalities. Every single character in this film feels like they have some understanding of the human condition and have at least a single ounce of relatability. The film looks amazing and one of my nerdy pieces of nostalgia I’ll bring to the table, this movie was shot in 35mm, although there is one sequence, specifically the escape from Jakku, that was shot on IMAX film, which was marvelous to watch on the IMAX screen the two times I saw it in that format. Plus there is also footage shot with an Arri Alexa XT. The film is funny, it’s happy, sad, everything in between. It has everything I could want in a “Star Wars” movie. Is it familiar? Sure, but again, familiarity in this case is not a weakness. For this movie in particular, it is used as a technique to get us to appreciate the joys of the past in “Star Wars” while also looking to the future. When I first reflected on the film, my one hope was that when Episode VIII comes out, it is not a copy-paste of “The Empire Strikes Back,” because this copy-paste technique worked in the favor of “The Force Awakens,” as it was trying to remind people what “Star Wars” *is*, but the next film also had to differentiate itself from what came before in the franchise.

Well… It was different alright. But it doesn’t mean it was great.

I walked out of “The Force Awakens” as a 16 year old geek in 2016 with a feeling that could only be described as orgasmic, and each time I watch the film, I enjoy it as much as the first. I’m going to give “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” a 10/10.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” did everything it should have done and more. It made me feel like a kid again in the best possible way. This movie is so good, that I almost forgot to put in my obligatory statement where I appreciate John Williams’s score. And by the way, John Williams killed the score in this film, if you must know. I love his theme for the Resistance, Rey’s theme is soft and smooth, and Kylo Ren’s jingle has been catchy since early viewings of the film.

Much like the original trilogy, “The Force Awakens” has an insane replay value. I saw it four times in the theater, many more times on home video. In fact, I’d watch it almost every other night in April, May, and June of 2016, and I’d occasionally watch it on television. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was a fantastic setup for what was to come. Unfortunately, what came after was not so fantastic, and I say that despite giving “The Last Jedi” a positive review. I was in a much different mindset when I saw the movie compared to long after it. That’s the power of thinking things over and watching a movie a second time.

Thanks for reading this review! This concludes the 7 Days of “Star Wars” event! I want to thank everyone for reading this review, along with those who read my reviews for Episodes I through VI. If you want to read any of my other “Star Wars” movie reviews, I have links for them down below. I have always wanted to talk about these movies to an extensive length, and I finally got the chance to do it, so I hope you enjoyed reading these reviews as much as I enjoyed making them, even if it did take a lot of time for me to sit down and complete, but it was worth it. I do have plenty of reviews for new movies coming soon including “Wrath of Man,” “Army of the Dead,” and “A Quiet Place Part II.” I do apologize if I end up getting these out somewhat late, but I have mainly been focused on the 7 Days of Star Wars event in regard to my recent goings on here at Scene Before. Therefore, everything else has been put on the backburner. Although I am also excited to announce that I will soon be doing another Blu-ray collection update. In all likelihood, this will be done in June, but depending on my schedule and how things go in life, I may end up doing it in July.

I also will share with you that my next review series, which is being done in preparation for the Disney ride to film adaptation “Jungle Cruise.” This series is going to be focused on “Pirates of the Caribbean.” I have admittedly not watched these movies in YEARS. I have also never seen even a minute of the fourth and fifth installments, and I don’t think I have any memory of watching the third one either. I could be wrong though. Find out my thoughts on all five sea adventures this July in “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Chest of Reviews.” Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account or like the Facebook page so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Star Wars: The Force Awakens?” What did you think about it? And I’ll end with three more questions… One, what is your favorite “Star Wars” film? Two, what film have you seen the most times in the theater? And three, what is your favorite franchise continuation or reboot? And I don’t just mean sequel, I mean a sequel that has been long-awaited like “Jurassic World” or “Mad Max: Fury Road” or “Blade Runner 2049.” Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

May the force be with you. Emphasis on the May.

THE PHANTOM MENACE: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/23/star-wars-episode-i-the-phantom-menace-1999-worst-for-chronologically-first/

ATTACK OF THE CLONES: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/24/star-wars-episode-ii-attack-of-the-clones-2002-a-revisit-to-my-first-star-wars-movie/

REVENGE OF THE SITH: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/25/star-wars-episode-iii-revenge-of-the-sith-2005-my-favorite-star-wars-prequel-ever/

STAR WARS/A NEW HOPE: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/26/star-wars-1977-an-ageless-adventure/

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/27/the-empire-strikes-back-1980-i-love-you/

RETURN OF THE JEDI: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/28/return-of-the-jedi-1983-i-see-the-good/

ROGUE ONE: https://flicknerd.com/2016/12/16/rogue-one-a-star-wars-story-a-movie-built-on-hope/

THE LAST JEDI: https://flicknerd.com/2017/12/15/star-wars-episode-viii-the-last-jedi-2017-another-year-another-star-wars-movie/

SOLO: https://flicknerd.com/2018/05/25/solo-a-star-wars-story-2018-somehow-this-star-wars-movie-exists/

THE RISE OF SKYWALKER: https://flicknerd.com/2019/12/20/star-wars-the-rise-of-skywalker-2019-the-final-word-in-the-story/

Return of the Jedi (1983): I See the Good

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is day 6 of 7 in 7 Days of Star Wars, and today we will be finishing the original trilogy reviews! We’ve already talked about 1977’s “Star Wars,” 1980’s “The Empire Strikes Back,” so by process of elimination, it only makes sense that today we talk about 1983’s “Return of the Jedi.” When it comes to “Star Wars,” my childhood was quite a weird one. Because regarding the original trilogy, I saw “The Empire Strikes Back” first, and I ended up watching “Return of the Jedi” before “A New Hope.” But then again, I was of single-digit ages and I did not care what order I watched these movies in as long as things moved on a screen. But as an adult, much like the other two films in the original trilogy, I should note that as I picked up certain things and opened my imagination a little more, my appreciation for “Return of the Jedi” only grew. We will dive into this during the review.

It is time for the penultimate entry to the epic Scene Before saga, a miniseries I’m calling… 7 DAYS OF STAR WARS!

“Return of the Jedi” is directed by Richard Marquand and stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, and Frank Oz. This film is the final installment in the original “Star Wars” trilogy. Taking place one year after the end of “The Empire Strikes Back,” our heroes journey to Jabba’s Palace to retrieve Han Solo, who has previously been frozen in carbonite. After a daring adventure, the rebels are tasked with destroying a second Death Star, this time set above the moon of Endor, where tiny, furry creatures known as Ewoks reside.

Okay… When it comes to the original trilogy, I was excited to talk about “A New Hope.” I was arguably even more excited to talk about “The Empire Strikes Back.” But after watching “Return of the Jedi,” I think I became absolutely freaking stoked to talk about what I saw. Much like quite a few other movies in this 7 Days of Star Wars series, I have watched this film countless times on physical media and television. So this should already tell you what I think of this movie.

I will be straight up with you. Regardless of what I think about “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back,” both of which are technically beautiful and marvelously written masterpieces, I’d say that “Return of the Jedi” had the biggest impact on me of the three original films. Some of my best memories of watching “Star Wars” as a kid harken back to some of my earliest viewings of “Return of the Jedi.” It is a film that I would stop every once in a while to watch when it is on TV too. To this day, I can say that like some of my favorite films, which I will not list for the sake of time, this is a film that gets better the more I watch it. But I will say, and this won’t affect my score, it is probably by far the worst of the “special editions” between Jedi Rocks, the odd-looking CGI creatures in Jabba’s Palace, and Darth Vader’s “no” scream towards the end of the film.

Let’s dive into the tone of the movie, but before we do, I want to point out to those who are not in the know, to me, “A New Hope” is a lighthearted space adventure. “The Empire Strikes Back” maintains a lot of elements that made “A New Hope” great but also dives into a route of depression to give itself a new flair. “Return of the Jedi,” is honestly somewhere in between. It has the lightheartedness and excitement of “A New Hope,” not to mention a Death Star, but also some darkness that you’d find in “The Empire Strikes Back.” We see our heroes’ journeys and where they have led to at this point. Many of the characters we have come to know in the previous films maintain their admirability and charisma here in this installment. In fact, remember how in the other two films in the trilogy, I mentioned Luke Skywalker was a whiner? Not anymore! He’s a Jedi Knight now, not to mention one of the most badass individuals in the galaxy. He’s got a green lightsaber, which probably helped sell more toys for a period of time. From the first scene he’s in, I have gotten the sense that I DO NOT want to f*ck with Skywalker. He just steps into Jabba’s Palace, walks up to a couple guards and chokes them. It is a truly bold sight for the eyes. “Return of the Jedi” easily has the most likable version of Luke because he is still a great pilot like he was in the previous two films, but now he has gone from occasional whiner to… sorry, I literally have no other definition that could be better… guardian of the galaxy.

Speaking of Jabba’s Palace and other similarities to “A New Hope,” we get to see early scenes in the film exclusively with R2-D2 and C-3PO, and the first sight we get of the iconic duo in the film is of them walking to Jabba’s Palace and seeing if they can get in. Much like “A New Hope,” this is a very well done, not to mention wonderfully placed scene because it lets the movie kick off in an intimate manner and it overall just builds up, getting bigger by the second. “Return of the Jedi” understands that we got to start small before we go big. Plus the droids themselves have amazing chemistry. They’re almost like two roommates who barely have anything in common but the things they do have in common, which is very little, perhaps makes them inseparable.

I also really like the Rancor fight. It felt like a strategy video game where Luke had to learn the tricks of the boss as he went along. It’s not like he was just able to find its weaknesses straight up and go for the kill. He had no choice but to open his eyes and his mind. It was rather exciting to watch. Only thing is, and I know this is somewhat intentional, the lighting in some clips of it is rather dark, I feel like turning up the light just a tad would have had me as a viewer look back and not feel lost in that underground space. Then again, that may have been the intention.

But speaking of brightness, let’s talk about the Sarlacc Pit scene. It is to this day, one of the most exciting and fun “Star Wars” scenes to date. First off, the music in it, unsurprisingly smashed by John Williams, is incredible from the slow build up to the glorious blow that brings us into the iconic “Star Wars” theme tune that you hear either in the crawl or the credits. It just screams “Star Wars” whenever I think about it. There’s a lot going on here between Luke trying to retrieve his lightsaber from R2, who is busy serving drinks, Leia being chained by Jabba’s side, and… Boba Fett? Wait, where’d he go? Oh, that’s right. Yeah, he comes and goes instantaneously. Well, kind of, depending on whether you’re watching “The Mandalorian,” which I do need to catch up on. But this is a fast-paced scene from gunslinging to saber-wielding to chain-honking. Lando is there too, and there is some action between him and Han. Everything building up to the final blow at the end led to a sense of satisfaction.

Let’s move onto Dagobah. Going back to what I said about this film getting better the more I watch it. I do not just mean it gets better despite its age. Although like the other two films in the original trilogy, I can declare “Return of the Jedi” is timeless. There is a quote that I picked up from Yoda during the film.

Now I am just gonna warn everyone, even though I did not get into heavy spoilers for “The Empire Strikes Back,” this quote does contain an important point from the film, and I’m sure it is one a lot of you know even if you missed out on the movie. So sorry in advance as this does dive into spoiler territory.

Luke: Master Yoda… is Darth Vader my father?

Yoda: [avoiding the subject] Rest I need. Yes. Rest.

Luke: Yoda, I must know. If you know, tell me.

Yoda: Your father he is.

[pause]

Yoda: Told you, did he?

Luke: Yes.

Yoda: Unexpected this is. And unfortunate.

Luke: Unfortunate that I know the truth?

Yoda: No! Unfortunate that you rushed to face him… that incomplete was your training. That… not ready for the burden were you.

Not only does this confirm the exciting twist from the previous film, but it goes a step further. In “The Empire Strikes Back,” you may remember that Luke was discouraged by Yoda from going into Cloud City to confront Vader. Luke went regardless of the advice, but he did promise that he would return, as he did in this very film. While I will agree that it is unfortunate to know that Luke’s father is a power-hungry half man half machine overlord who is capable of chopping off hands, Yoda just states that Luke rushed into action without thinking things through, even though Luke foresaw grave danger for his friends. Not only were his skills incomplete, but he had no idea what would lie ahead in regards to emotional attachment. I often look back at “The Empire Strikes Back” and I think of the scene where Yoda tells Luke to avoid going to Cloud City as a warning that Luke’s skills as a Jedi still need work, which they did. But little did I realize after all these years, Yoda, along with ghost Obi-Wan, was likely trying to protect Luke from losing control of his emotions. After all, they knew who Darth Vader was. They knew he was Luke’s father. Yoda took Luke under his wing and not only treated him like a student, but almost as if he was his own son. And like many parents, Yoda perhaps became slightly overprotective of Luke’s inner and outer thoughts.

I will also add, that last line from Yoda, where he notes Luke’s training was incomplete, this feels like the “Star Wars” way of saying, “I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed.” Luke, despite his seemingly on track instincts, had no idea what he was in for. That is the power of being an inexperienced Jedi who barely has any attachment to the force. Yes, Luke did screw up. But part of me also wants to think that even with the amount of doubt that could have been brought to the table, Yoda, or perhaps even ghost Obi-Wan had an inkling of faith in him.

Not long after we see plans for a second Death Star, our heroes go to the moon of Endor, where we get a FUN speeder chase between Luke and Leia who are trying to keep themselves from getting shot by Stormtroopers. There’s no music. No other sounds except for the speeders themselves. It feels like the extreme version of riding a bike in the woods. But of course, when I talk about Endor, I have to talk about the Ewoks.

I have seen people talk about the Ewoks and how they tend to be annoying. I even remember watching “Ride Along 2” of all movies and the characters were talking about “Star Wars” and one character said they enjoyed “Return of the Jedi” to which another pointed out how annoying Ewoks are. Here’s the thing. Unlike Jar Jar, the Ewoks actually come off as useful. Yes, they emit weird sounds every once in a while, but it’s a delightful kind of weird. They have their own army, they’ve become civilized in the woods, and the movie does a really good job at highlighting their sense of community. When it comes to the final battle at the end of the film, seeing them get creative with how they go about killing troopers is nearly goofy, but also kind of exciting. Plus, we do get to see them, along with the wookie Chewbacca in an AT-ST, which was pretty badass. But to me, this movie’s second half comes in three tiers. These tiers, starting with the lowest and going to highest, are “awesome,” “extraordinary,” and “perfect.”

The “awesome” tier goes to the Battle of Endor, where we get to see our heroes on the ground fighting troops with the Ewoks and destroying a base that has an effect on how the “extraordinary” tier task goes, which is destroying the Death Star.

If the space battle at the end of “A New Hope” was exciting, then the one in “Return of the Jedi” is SUPER exciting. I will admit, it does suffer from not having Luke in it because I admittedly have become much more attached to Luke compared to Lando, who is a great character, but not as involved in the franchise as Luke has become. Then again, Luke’s off doing something else which we’ll get to momentarily. This battle has a ton of ships on the light and dark sides. We get to see the Death Star blowing ships up. People are dying left and right. And what makes this even more interesting is that the outcome of this battle could not be realized unless the Battle of Endor likely ends up going in the heroes’ favor. But BY FAR the best part of the movie, is any scene between Luke, Vader, and the Emperor.

I want to avoid giving a ton of spoilers for this review. In fact I had a whole thing planned to talk about one particular problem I had with the film. It’s NOT A BIG ONE, it does not even affect the score that much, but it makes want to see another version of the film if you will. Let’s just say, if I have the time, I may end up doing a separate post on it. The thing I will say about it is that it is about death. But that is about it. Luke and Vader meet in Endor, they flock to the Death Star, where the Emperor introduces himself to Luke and looking back, this provided for some of my favorite close-up shots in the franchise.

I mean, look at the Emperor’s face!

And the Emperor, at least in this film, has such a way with words. It’s almost like he spent an extended period of time studying poetry.

The Emperor : You want this, don’t you? The hate is swelling in you now. Take your Jedi weapon. Use it. I am unarmed. Strike me down with it. Give in to your anger. With each passing moment you make yourself more my servant.

Luke : No.

The Emperor : It is unavoidable. It is your destiny. You, like your father, are now *mine*.

I cannot think of a time in this franchise, maybe with the exception of Palpatine perhaps doing the same wordplay thing to Anakin and maybe Count Dooku getting into that same character’s head, where words have been used so effectively as a weapon. Plus that voice… It’s so grizzly and old. IT IS PERFECT. This is quite literally, the “perfect” tier. And this is in addition to the badass lightsaber stuff that goes down at the end, which I really don’t want to talk about because even though “Return of the Jedi” has been around for 38 years, it’s kind of like “The Empire Strikes Back.” The less newcomers know, the better. I’ll just say this, I often talk about in the prequels how one of the better things about those movies is the choreography in the lightsaber fights. That is true. That is clear. But in “Return of the Jedi,” there feels like there is a reason to occasionally have a lack of choreography. It shows more of the emotion between characters. The final lightsaber duel of the movie feels rough. It feels tough. But the strokes that come out from one specific individual just feel like they are coming through because of pent up emotion. This is, well… perfect.

I want to talk about the thing that happens afterwards, I really do. But it involves heavy spoilers. If you have never seen “Return of the Jedi,” PLEASE watch it. If you want to avoid spoilers… Skip this next paragraph. Go to the part that IS NOT italicized like so.

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My favorite part of the film comes around the time Luke slices off Vader’s hand. BAM! Hammurabi Code! Almost like payback for the last movie! This may have been part of why the original title for this film was “Revenge of the Jedi,” until it was changed at the last minute. But the Emperor tries to convince Luke to join the Dark Side, to which he just denies the request after looking at Vader on the ground. At this point, the Emperor’s a little pissed and disappointed, he casts out his hands and unleashes force lightning, which has been used in the prequels by multiple characters, but “Return of the Jedi,” in terms of release, was the movie introduction to the force lightning concept. He continues his wordsmith tendencies, and he just goes all out on Luke. The hero is screaming for his life, he’s going to Vader asking for help. But no dice.

“Now young Skywalker, you will die.”

We have a brief beat, but the Emperor ain’t done yet because he momentarily unveils more lightning and Luke is just screaming and spasming. He has never been in so much rapid physical pain in his entire life. But the other great part about this is that the camera is getting shots of Vader and we can tell based on the directions he turns his head, he’s almost conflicted. But he decides to do the right thing and lifts the Emperor from the ground and throws him down the shaft. The Emperor perhaps lets out the most epic death scream in film history, and he is just TOAST. Why did “The Rise of Skywalker” bring him back from this? Who knows? But it is not over. Because Luke and Vader reunite, just experiencing whatever sense of relief they need to. Unfortunately for Vader, the journey does not end well for him.

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People often argue that the later additions to the sequel trilogy, specifically “The Last Jedi” and “The Rise of Skywalker,” feel like nothing more than pieces of course correction. They take what was previously shown in the last movie and try to divert from it to a degree hopefully going in a competent direction, perhaps one that the primary filmmaker or producer prefers, that will not end up being a slap in the face (hopefully). While there are definitely many ideas that felt like they could have been sprinkled in later into production, “Return of the Jedi” is the end of a trilogy that feels perfectly planned and realized from start to finish. The original “Star Wars” trilogy is up there to me with “Lord of the Rings” and “Toy Story” as one of the greatest trilogies of all time. And at the same time, there may have been some course correcting here. This movie feels a lot lighter than “The Empire Strikes Back,” especially with the Ewoks in the mix. So part of me wondered if Lucas wanted to win some fans back by making the series “fun” again. He even brought back the Death Star concept, which despite being in “A New Hope,” did not feel entirely repetitive. And ultimately, the darkness of “The Empire Strikes Back” still exists here in some places, but the mix between the light and dark tones oddly enough never felt out of place or disorienting. They’re two tones that combine together to form something special, whereas “The Phantom Menace” had a plethora of tones to combine together to form something… well, it’s special alright. What an ending. Well, kind of. Before the prequels and the sequels, but my gosh this movie is a work of art!

In the end, I often have trouble deciding which of the original “Star Wars” movies is my favorite. Is it “A New Hope?” “The Empire Strikes Back?” Or is it “Return of the Jedi?” They’re all great for different reasons. But of all of the movies, I’d say “Return of the Jedi” had the best climax and conclusion, which really says something because this is something that the “Star Wars” franchise, even on its worst day, at least goes out of its way to make “fun.” Here, they just go balls out with it. Three different interweaving storylines that do not feel convoluted and I actually care about. Each one is about as thrilling as the last. From the heroes and Ewoks taking down troops on Endor to the Rebels and Empire duking it out in space to Vader and Luke dealing with their father and son issues in the Death Star. This film has the best interpretation of Luke. It comes with great chemistry amongst our heroes. And on top of that, the best lightsaber action of the original trilogy. LIGHTSABERS. ARE. AWESOME. You cannot convince me otherwise. With all this, and considering this film’s insane replay value over the years, I’m going to give “Return of the Jedi” a 10/10!

Would ya look at that? All three films in the original trilogy have earned a 10! These films truly are timeless. I will say once again, there is one particular “problem” with the film I wanted to discuss, but I won’t for the sake of spoilers. It won’t affect my score, but I may bring it up another time. Once again, it has to do with death. I do not know my fate regarding this topic, but if I am ever in the mood, I will discuss it.

Thanks for reading this review! Just a few days ago we have finished the prequel trilogy, and now we finished the original trilogy, which means it is time to move on to the SEQUEL trilogy! For the record, I have already reviewed “The Last Jedi” and “The Rise of Skywalker,” so we will not be talking about those films. By process of elimination, tomorrow I will have my review up for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens!” Disney’s first foray into the world of “Star Wars” movies and one of the most successful films of all time at the box office. What do I think of it? You’ll find out tomorrow in the FINAL installment of 7 Days of Star Wars! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account and also like the Facebook page so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Return of the Jedi?” What did you think about it? Also, two questions. First, what is your favorite movie in the “Star Wars” original trilogy? AND, what do you think is the greatest trilogy of all time? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

THE PHANTOM MENACE: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/23/star-wars-episode-i-the-phantom-menace-1999-worst-for-chronologically-first/

ATTACK OF THE CLONES: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/24/star-wars-episode-ii-attack-of-the-clones-2002-a-revisit-to-my-first-star-wars-movie/

REVENGE OF THE SITH: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/25/star-wars-episode-iii-revenge-of-the-sith-2005-my-favorite-star-wars-prequel-ever/

STAR WARS/A NEW HOPE: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/26/star-wars-1977-an-ageless-adventure/

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/27/the-empire-strikes-back-1980-i-love-you/

ROGUE ONE: https://flicknerd.com/2016/12/16/rogue-one-a-star-wars-story-a-movie-built-on-hope/

THE LAST JEDI: https://flicknerd.com/2017/12/15/star-wars-episode-viii-the-last-jedi-2017-another-year-another-star-wars-movie/

SOLO: https://flicknerd.com/2018/05/25/solo-a-star-wars-story-2018-somehow-this-star-wars-movie-exists/

THE RISE OF SKYWALKER: https://flicknerd.com/2019/12/20/star-wars-the-rise-of-skywalker-2019-the-final-word-in-the-story/

The Empire Strikes Back (1980): I Love You

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Today is day 5 of 7 in the epic Scene Before 7 Days of Star Wars saga! We have finished the prequels earlier this week, we just tackled the original “Star Wars” yesterday, but now it is time to move onto what some consider to be not just one of the best “Star Wars” movies to date, but one of the greatest sequels of all time. Of the original “Star Wars” films, this is actually the first one that I tuned into. I still remember renting the widescreen copy of the 2004 edition from Blockbuster Video. Man, I miss that place. I rented the film one or two more times, until I finally got the full screen 2006 edition that came with both the 2004 special edition of the film and a bonus disc that had a somewhat poorly mastered DVD transfer of the original film. While it was widescreen, allowing the viewer to see more picture, it was also grainy and would not adjust for an actual widescreen television. Although for this review, much like Episodes IV and VI, I decided to use the most up to date versions of the film through recent 4K Blu-ray transfers that have released in stores in 2020. Safe to say, this film looks gorgeous to this day, and of all the “Special Editions,” I’d say that this one is the least offensive, although that statement will likely not have much of an effect on my review.

We would be honored if you would join us, because it is time for a miniseries I’m calling… 7 DAYS OF “STAR WARS!”

“The Empire Strikes Back” is directed by Irwin Kershner and stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, and Frank Oz. This film is the sequel to 1977’s “Star Wars” and follows our heroes who have a base on the planet Hoth. But not for long, because the Empire takes its swift strokes on the rebels. Soon thereafter, Luke Skywalker journeys to Dagobah to learn the ways of the Jedi under the wing of Master Yoda. Meanwhile, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Leia, R2-D2, and C-3PO flee from the dark forces on the Millennium Falcon, but with an unfortunate hyperdrive problem.

Since 1977, “Star Wars” has become a part of many people’s lives. Similar to 1975’s “Jaws,” the film went on to become one of the biggest phenomenons of the decade. The turnout was enormous, the box office was immense, the force was with everyone. Characters like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo have been ingrained in many people’s minds for extended periods. While the film itself is a throwback to stories that may have come before and shares many of the traits of the ordinary “hero’s journey” rubric, it comes with a flavor that could have arguably been created by Willy Wonka. “Star Wars” has, as you may have noticed, become one of the most acclaimed and iconic films of all time. With a film that good, it is almost hard to imagine how they could have made a sequel that could have surpassed it.

…Well they did.

To know that such a feat could be pulled off is utter insanity. I mean, it’s been done in similar instances with other franchises. The first “Godfather” was critically acclaimed, but today there are many people who would argue the second one is as good, if not better than the original. The same can be said for “Toy Story.” The same can also be said for “Blade Runner.” Maybe even “The Terminator!” In the case of “The Empire Strikes Back,” the reasoning is simple. It maintains the fun of the original film despite being darker in tone, it builds on the characters we’ve come to know and love with impactful depth, and it subverts expectations, which feels weird considering how “The Last Jedi” tried doing that to rather poor results. Although speaking of “The Last Jedi,” I remember when that film came out and people started bringing up comparisons to “The Empire Strikes Back,” but not for a positive reason. When “The Last Jedi” came out, I would occasionally be online, maybe on YouTube or something and someone would say that “The Last Jedi” is a film that will get better with age. When it came out, it was incredibly divisive. The fans of the film were quite passionate, and so were the haters. But nevertheless, “The Last Jedi,” despite being well-reviewed, had a strong number of people who felt it ruined the “Star Wars” franchise to a degree. Back in 1980, “The Empire Strikes Back” received the same treatment. There were people who liked the film. But there were also others who expressed displeasure or disappointment with it mainly because of how dark and not so fun it happened to be.

Today, it is one of the most universally revered films in not just the sci-fi genre, but in all of movie history. It has one of the most talked about twists of all time. Despite being darker, I’d almost argue it not only knows how to crack a joke here and there, it is actually somehow funnier than the first one. And this feels weird to say, because when I’m looking back at lines I could bring up on the spot to make someone laugh, I do not usually think of “The Empire Strikes Back,” but that’s because the film does not try to go for humor. What it does is it takes lines that usually would not mean anything. The lines are not even that funny, but in the context of the film, they can get a laugh out of me for some reason. A line as simple as Han Solo’s “Never tell me the odds” is chuckle-worthy to say the least. Leia shouting “I am not a committee” feels like it could come out of only Carrie Fisher’s mouth with pristine delivery.

Speaking of characters, let’s talk about Luke Skywalker. I mentioned in my review for “A New Hope,” one forgivable concern for Luke is that he is kind of a whiner. In “The Empire Strikes Back,” the case is no different. But like in the previous film, Luke’s tendency to be a downer is also what makes him an interesting character. Because again, he is relatable. As humans, we all have a tendency to say we want do something, but we never end up actually doing “that something” and it is an idea that is always in the back of our minds. During Luke’s training with Yoda, we see glimmers of this as he lifts rocks and his X-Wing fighter that is stuck in the dirty water. There’s periods of refusal, self-denial, lack of confidence. It is a perfect encapsulation of a student/mentor relationship where the student feels like they are worthless and they cannot advance in their studies. In the last movie, we got see the pilot side of Luke, and that has been excellently built up throughout the film all the way to the end. In “The Empire Strikes Back,” we get to see more of the Jedi side of the character. And yes, we get to see parts of that in “A New Hope” too, but that is Luke simply learning how to use the force, he barely touches a lightsaber. Although it does help him in his piloting mission where he is tasked along with his rebel fleet to destroy the Death Star. But now that Obi-Wan is dead and likely just sitting back in the Jedi afterlife needing nobody’s company, he commands that Luke will go to Dagobah and learn the ways of the Jedi from Yoda. Oh yeah, and Yoda is awesome in this film.

Let me just say, I really like the prequel version of Yoda. But here is the thing about prequel Yoda, he is quite different than the original Yoda. Because in the prequels, Yoda is seen as one of the most powerful Jedi with one of the higher midichlorian counts and an enormous sense of wisdom. Also, screw midichlorian counts. In “The Empire Strikes Back,” we got to see that wisdom intact, but it does not take away from the fact that Yoda is one of the funniest characters in the original trilogy. Remember how in the prequel trilogy George Lucas tried to make Jar Jar Binks the big comic relief that stole every scene, which then turned out to be one of the most cringeworthy things in the entire franchise? Yeah, Yoda is ten times funnier because he is just a nut. He’s that interpretation of an old man who I hear is on his last legs but then I hear they are in “good spirits.” I always think of that as someone who is able to utilize a sense of humor while also showing signs of weakness. And this is yet another example of lines that really are not that funny, but in the context of “The Empire Strikes Back,” they can get me to laugh for some reason. And I think part of it is not just the lines themselves and how they are brilliantly delivered by Frank Oz, but maybe even Yoda’s laughter. It just proves that laughter is contagious and without any argument, the all-time best medicine.

But when I’m not busy laughing at Yoda’s antics, I am busy admiring Darth Vader’s fiendish will to rule the galaxy. In the previous film, we did get to know Vader as a character a little bit, especially considering how he was the main threat at the end. In this film however, we get to dive into his character and see another side of him aside from being just a big baddie. And he still is. He still force chokes his own allies, he still wields a red lightsaber. But in “The Empire Strikes Back,” there is more added to his story that makes him who he is, and it also affects other characters in the movie. For those of you who have not seen the movie, I will do my best to not say anything about a specific scene towards the end, even though it has been parodied and talked about millions of times, but if you don’t even have an inkling of how the end of “The Empire Strikes Back” goes down, just wait. It was brilliant back in the 1980s (maybe depending on what language you spoke) and it has aged like a fine wine since.

But also on the topic of the dark side, going onto a recurring category in these reviews, the score in this film, composed by John Williams, is bonkers good. In some cases, it might even be better than the original “Star Wars.” In addition to some themes that make a reappearance to a degree, “The Empire Strikes Back” adds exciting new music that can be heard as the Falcon flies through asteroids, as the heroes run around Cloud City, and as Luke tries to defend himself against a Wampa. But by far the most iconic original theme from “The Empire Strikes Back,” for good reason, and this is what I mean when it comes to talking about the dark side, is the Imperial March.

This music is literal perfection. You know how in times of war they have these propaganda songs to get people to join the military? You know, songs like “Over There” by Nora Bayes? The patriotic song that has been used since the 1910s during World War I? If the Empire wanted a way to convince me to join their fleet as a soldier or officer, this would perhaps be more effective than them saying “We have pizza, AND you get ten million bucks on the spot.” It is so… weirdly catchy. Again, I think part of it is because “Star Wars” is so ingrained in our culture whether we like it or not, but for some reason, this song goes to show the power of John Williams. The man knows how to do a killer track and as much as I see myself more in line with the values of the Jedi, this goes to reveal how fascinating the dark side is. If I ran a dictatorship where I had obnoxious power, which I do not see myself doing, I would use this as its theme music.

I think the best part of “The Empire Strikes Back” however is the fact that, and this maybe makes me a hypocrite, because we kind of see this in “The Last Jedi” too and that film was a disappointment, it’s that failure is a common result in this film. The title is as it suggests, the Empire strikes back with as much force as it can, putting the pressure on our heroes, and in the couple hours that everything goes down in the film, I manage to care about everyone on screen. I want to talk about some of these blunders, but the reality is that if I do, I’d be going into spoiler territory, and even though this is a 41-year-old film that has been celebrated by many people, I would doing a disservice if I did not let people who have not seen the film avoid going in blind. There is so much I want to talk about, everything from *bleep*, to *bleep*, all the way to the end where we *bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeep*. But I can’t. I’d be doing the newcomers a lack of a favor. I’d be ruining the experience for them. Yes, I talked about failure, but I don’t want to get into how much failure or the specific contents behind all of it. I want you, the people who have not seen “The Empire Strikes Back,” to finish reading this review, buy the movie in whatever way you can or watch it on TBS On Demand or Disney+ or something and experience what truly makes this film so extraordinary. The less you know, the better.

On another note, I just want to say that Lando Calrissian is a great addition to the franchise and he almost steals the show in every scene he is in. Whoever cast Billy Dee Williams as the character, well done. You deserve a pat on the back. Kind of like Han Solo, he has that rogueish, ladies-man vibe, but he also delivers it in his own way. I truly think he is one of the standouts of the movie.

One last thing before we go any further. Again, I want to be as secretive as possible, but the way this movie ends when we get to the final scene, it has one of the most unique feels not just in regard to how a “Star Wars” movie ends, but how any movie ends. Because the scene before the end is almost an adrenaline rush to the final second and at this point, just about every potential arc has developed. Without giving much context, we see our characters and the sense that I have at this point is satisfaction. Then after one particular incident is resolved, the music just swells up as we see the characters gaze out at a window and look at the galaxy that lies within. To me, this just says one word. Relief. We’ve had failure along the way, but the journey has paid off to where not just us as an audience, but our characters, get a moment to breathe. Yes, they have to live with their recent failure, but they finally get a break where they get to relax, unwind, and process what they just went through. In war, there is no rest. But this ending represents that relief which would come with taking a break every once in a while. So as a viewer, I feel satisfied, but I am also left longing for our characters to move on and see what they do next. The ending is bittersweet to say the least. It’s sad that the previous events happened, but it is heartwarming to know they have come to an end.

Remember when I reviewed the 1977 “Star Wars” and I talk about how “fun” it is, in addition to how often I feel like flocking to that universe in my imagination? Well, that has not changed. To me, this just goes to show the true genius of “The Empire Strikes Back.” It almost reminds me of, going to a more modern example, “Avengers: Infinity War,” because that is a film that like its predecessors, is fun from start to finish, but is full of emotionally charged moments that affect certain characters in less than positive ways. If the film still has glimmers of fun and imagination in it despite being depressing every other moment, that is not a good movie. It is an incredible movie.

In the end, “The Empire Strikes Back” strikes forth as one of the greatest sequels of all time. To me, this is a film that gets better with age, and how they answer certain questions in the next film probably solidifies that. The original “Star Wars” became a timeless classic through its likable predictability and familiar feel and story, but by offering a blend of that familiarity that audiences could easily fall in love with. “The Empire Strikes Back” on the other hand goes in for the kill and tries to warp your mind into something new even if has traces of familiarity as well. The film is subversive, exciting, and eye-popping. The effects still hold up to this day. The asteroid scene looks beautiful even in 2021. The duel towards the end with Luke and Vader offers some of the best shots in the franchise and an epic feel despite coming off as occasionally intimate. Again, it’s probably another reason why people look at “Star Wars” as if it were a western instead of a traditional science fiction or fantasy story all the time. “The Empire Strikes Back” is one of the greatest, most magnificently crafted pieces of art ever known to man and it is a film that is likely only going to continue to get better as years pass by. It is a film truly deserving of a 10/10.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for the final film in the original “Star Wars” trilogy and that is going to be for “Return of the Jedi.” Get ready for Ewoks, the Emperor, and Jabba the Hutt! That review will be up tomorrow, Friday, May 28th! And after that, I will be doing the final review in the 7 Days of Star Wars event, which will be for “The Force Awakens,” the first film in the sequel trilogy. If you want to see these upcoming reviews, follow Scene Before either with email or WordPress account, and if you’re on Facebook, like the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Empire Strikes Back?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite sequel ever? It doesn’t even have to be a movie. It can be a book. It can be a video game. Heck, it can even be Diet Coke! A worthy successor and slightly healthier edition of an iconic drink! Not sponsored, I promise. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

THE PHANTOM MENACE: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/23/star-wars-episode-i-the-phantom-menace-1999-worst-for-chronologically-first/

ATTACK OF THE CLONES: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/24/star-wars-episode-ii-attack-of-the-clones-2002-a-revisit-to-my-first-star-wars-movie/

REVENGE OF THE SITH: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/25/star-wars-episode-iii-revenge-of-the-sith-2005-my-favorite-star-wars-prequel-ever/

STAR WARS/A NEW HOPE: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/26/star-wars-1977-an-ageless-adventure/

ROGUE ONE: https://flicknerd.com/2016/12/16/rogue-one-a-star-wars-story-a-movie-built-on-hope/

THE LAST JEDI: https://flicknerd.com/2017/12/15/star-wars-episode-viii-the-last-jedi-2017-another-year-another-star-wars-movie/

SOLO: https://flicknerd.com/2018/05/25/solo-a-star-wars-story-2018-somehow-this-star-wars-movie-exists/

THE RISE OF SKYWALKER: https://flicknerd.com/2019/12/20/star-wars-the-rise-of-skywalker-2019-the-final-word-in-the-story/

Star Wars (1977): An Ageless Adventure

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Today is a big day in the “7 Days of Star Wars” run because we are finally going to tackle one of the most universally revered films in the franchise. The one that started it all! “Star Wars!” If you have read my reviews for the three prequels over the past few days, you’d know they came packed in with lots of controversy. From midichlorians to style over substance to forced romance storylines to robotic dialogue, there were plenty of new things brought to the table in the trilogy. Per my opinion, some of those things worked out, but there’s also plenty that didn’t. But it doesn’t mean the original trilogy is free from controversy either. For example, what do we call this movie now? “Star Wars?” “Star Wars Episode IV?” “Star Wars: A New Hope?” “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope?”

The answer to the previous question may be harder for some, but let’s calm down for a second and relax because it is time to discuss the kickstarter to one of the most popular franchises of all time in a miniseries I’m calling… “7 DAYS OF STAR WARS!”

“Star Wars” is directed by George Lucas and stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, and Alec Guinness. This film centers around a young man named Luke Skywalker who lives on the desert-heavy land of Tatooine. After being encouraged to stay with his aunt and uncle to farm for another year, Luke aspires to leave his life behind and learn the ways of the force and the Jedi under the mentorship of Ben Kenobi. Together, they journey alongside captain Han Solo, his Wookie pal Chewbacca, along with droids R2-D2 and C-3PO to rescue Princess Leia from Darth Vader and save the galaxy from a recently finished battle station, the Death Star.

Let’s face it. If you have ever watched movies, and I mean that as in, any movie ever. There is a SOLID chance that one of those options you’ve watched has been “Star Wars,” and it does not even have to be the original. But people continue to talk about “Star Wars” as if it is today’s equivalent to Shakespeare. I can almost see future scholarly classes dedicated to the history of storytelling or even K-12 language arts going over the impact “Star Wars” has had on people. Similar to how “Romeo & Juliet” has become required reading for students these days, I could see a future where “Star Wars” becomes required watching for scholars. And having watched the movie several times throughout my life, I can see why. Even with the special editions that have been hitting the market since 1997, which I probably won’t dive too much into during this review, this movie still holds up to this day. The storyline is the by the numbers, cliche hero’s journey, which we have seen before and after this movie came out, but for some reason, this particular hero’s journey has a flavor that makes it feel more palatable than others.

For all I know, it could be a nostalgic thing. “Star Wars” has been a part of my life for years, so there is a chance that when I think “hero’s journey” and what it means to be a larger than life individual, this is the movie my mind goes to. I do not know, it is like associating Burger King with fast food (sorry, not a huge McDonald’s fan), my mind cannot help but go to this movie as the definition of what it means to be a hero. This does not mean “Star Wars” is my favorite movie, although it is up there, but between my childhood attachment to the film and the brilliant execution of everything that goes down, it is not surprising to see why this film continues to be as popular as it is and why we are getting endless sequels and spinoffs. One passion project started it all.

The movie begins in the most hypnotizing way imaginable as we see a rebel ship getting chased by a Stardestroyer. We get our introduction to Leia who gets stunned by Stormtroopers in a rare successful attempt at shooting somebody. We also have Darth Vader who makes his way past dead Rebels and chokes Captain Antilles to death. But the first characters we see are also the ones that are essential to the franchise in the same way that pancakes are to Denny’s, R2-D2 and C-3PO. I really like how the film starts out from their perspective. Not only because they are the borderline comic relief characters of the film (at least until Han says something snarky), not only because they are seen through the film from start to finish, but because it makes the beginning of the movie feel small, as it should. Yes, we start out in space, there’s a big chase, and people die left and right, but as soon as we see R2 and 3PO hop on the escape pod and land into the desert, it gives a sense of intimacy to a degree. The scene where R2 is zapped by a Jawa is one of the smaller-scale scenes of “Star Wars” and I think it has provided for a breath of fresh air in a franchise full of blaster and lightsaber fights.

I will say though, the film has some slight imperfections. And by imperfections, I mean forgivable ones, because I admire Luke Skywalker as a character, but he is also kind of a wuss at times, at least in this film. Granted, he is young, he is at a rebellious point in his life, so it is understandable. This does not change the fact that Skywalker is a charismatic, brave, and extremely relatable hero. As I grow up, I begin to emulate more of his traits from wanting to control my destiny to wanting a balance between a social life and alone time and as this pandemic has revealed… Wanting to do something with my life. Luke Skywalker has a perfect balance of nerves and a sense of determination, which are two qualities that make for a likable hero on screen. Again, I mention the imperfections, despite them somewhat counting as flaws, I’d rather have an emotional, imperfect hero as opposed to someone who goes through life sitting pretty the whole way. It is our flaws that make us who we are at times and Luke Skywalker is a shining example of that. In fact, I am trying to break into the film industry, but like Luke Skywalker with the force, part of me occasionally has a hesitancy to get off my butt and actually do it. It is a human trait that I think extends to a lot of people no matter what they desire. It’s like when you’re a teenager and want to ask your crush out. Yes, it’s scary, but you may wonder where the question leads you.

I also really like Luke’s first introduction to Obi-Wan, because we get to see Luke learn about Ben’s history with the Jedi, Luke’s father, and things that TOTALLY happned. Regardless of how things turned out after this conversation, it showed that “Star Wars” did not mess around when it comes to lore and world-building. It gave a fascinating slice of backstory interweaved into this “civilized age.”

But I gotta admit, when it comes to deciding which of the main characters of the movie happens to be my favorite, my mind usually darts toward Han Solo, a suave, charming captain who wants not much more than money and a princess. Just from the first minute, I already got the distinction that Han Solo may be the biggest badass in the galaxy that does not wield a lightsaber, well, except for one, we’ll get to that momentarily. Between his affirmations of being a space captain, someone who made the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs, and shooting Greedo (FIRST) like a boss, I already knew that I could count on Solo if I hired him as a bodyguard. Plus, he probably has the best lines in the movie.

Han Solo: Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.

Princess Leia Organa: Looks like you’ve managed to cut off our only escape route.

Han Solo: [sarcastically] Maybe you’d like it back in your cell, your highness.

Han Solo: [referring to Leia] Wonderful girl. Either I’m going to kill her or I’m beginning to like her.

Now Han Solo may arguably be my favorite character of the protagonist side of things, but on the dark side, a big standout for me in this movie is Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing). In movie fandom, Darth Vader is often recognized is the biggest of all baddies. But despite that, the larger presence in this film in terms of villainy is Grand Moff Tarkin, who is put in charge of the Death Star’s operations. The reason why I love Tarkin is because of his lack of emotion. He almost feels like if Squidward Tentacles from “SpongeBob SquarePants” were a supervillain. A near regular Joe who works his ass off just to go about his days. Granted, unlike Squidward, who is stuck doing a part time job he hates, I could imagine Tarkin has a passion for what he does in regards to destroying the galaxy. But it’s not just his stern and somewhat classy personality that makes him likable to me, but it is also how he puts people in their place. I feel like of all the “Star Wars” characters to ever exist, Tarkin may be the most formidable and intimidating who does not use weapons to control others. Let’s put it this way. Count Dooku from the prequels is not a bad villain. He’s not fantastic either, but he’s serviceable. Either way, I have a strong feeling that if he did not have a lightsaber by his side, he would not be that intimidating. Tarkin does not even need one and yet he may be the most fearsome character in the movie. Just saying “You may fire when ready,” is not only iconic, but strikes fear into the heart. There are a lot of good villains based on their physical abilities, but Grand Moff Tarkin is a *great* villain by not needing to tap into his physicality the entire time.

If you read my reviews for the prequels, one of my usual pros that I would provide happen to be the lightsaber battles. Each one of the three episodes have at least one cool lightsaber fight. In “The Phantom Menace” we have the climactic duel between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan going up against Darth Maul. In “Attack of the Clones,” the climactic duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin vs. Count Dooku is honestly less impressive, but still quite entertaining. Now “Revenge of the Sith,” one reason why I gave it a positive grade is because it has some of the best lightsaber action in the entire franchise in terms of concepts between Obi-Wan vs. General Grievous to choreography with Obi-Wan and Anakin’s rematch with Count Dooku to story with Obi-Wan facing off against Anakin at the end of the movie. Lightsabers are awesome and the prequels have proven that. The lightsaber battles are legitimately the best parts of those movies. Now with the original “Star Wars,” we do not focus on that as much. And one of the things that I have noticed with the original trilogy over the years is that it treats the lightsaber as if it were special. There’s only one specific duel per movie and there are only a few other scenes where a lightsaber even shows up. But even I gotta admit… The choreography during the one duel in the movie is not perfect.

There is a duel in the film between Ben Kenobi and Darth Vader past the halfway point. We have had buildup about their connection through the force to a degree, so the script does an effective enough job at signifying a sense of conflict between these two. But here’s the thing, I could almost imagine this fight being a futuristic presidential debate if Joe Biden and Donald Trump run against each other once more. I’m not giving any political views, but the point is, they fight as if they are on their last legs when they really aren’t. Yes, we see Obi-Wan is all greyed out, but he seems to have some juice left in him. I think the choreography could have been slightly improved if you ask me. But going back to the prequels, one thing I found to be a flaw in those movies is the mix of characterization and story. Yes, you have your point A to point B structure, but 1977’s “Star Wars” does a much better job at fleshing out its characters and giving them a reason to have the conflicts that appear in front of them. I actually care about what is happening. I am rooting for Obi-Wan, based not only on his likability, but his motivations, to come out on top here. This sounds like a small thing to accomplish, but considering how the prequels have played out later on, it just goes to show how well this story holds up.

The end of the fight has a real lasting impact when, spoiler alert, Obi-Wan dies. That’s the thing that this movie gets right that the prequels just couldn’t do as successfully. I felt the intimidation of the Empire through the blast of their Death Star, specific characters on the fleet, the TIE Fighters, and part of it was because I cared about people in the film, what they were doing, what they stood for, and potentially even their personality. This is why I often get excited when I think about the climax of the film. The climax of “Star Wars” is one that I often forget how exciting it is until I sit down and watch it again. As we are given the game plan and Luke shoots off into space in his X-Wing with R2 by his side, composer John Williams orchestrates the music like a boss and creates the perfect playlist for saving the galaxy. On top of that, the mission itself is just fun. Good clean fun.

We see a lot go down in just a matter of ten to twenty minutes. We see a tad of conflict between Skywalker and Solo before takeoff, we see all the ships in formation, we get the perspectives of the observers, the Rebels, the Empire, and it does not take long after all the ships get into attack position to just feel a sense of excitement and adrenaline. I also love the decision towards the end to have the ships navigate through a seemingly endless, straight, grey trench. It’s not only simple but it kind of has a drag race feel to it. The ships are rushing to the finish line as they try to find the one hole that will get them the win. When you have such an expansive franchise like “Star Wars” it is sometimes difficult to harken back to where it all started partially because it has become so immense, so universal, but when I pop on “A New Hope” and watch the end, I remember the grin on my face, the tingle in my brain, and even though I have watched the film almost hundreds of times by now, I still root for Luke hoping he actually makes the shot at the end. “Star Wars” feels like a dream. It is a universe that I often want to flock to in my imagination. In my mind, I often want to visit Mos Eisley or ride the Millennium Falcon and have captain Solo by my side. This movie has opened my imagination as a kid and it continues to surpass many of the movies I watch today as an adult.

George Lucas once said that “the films were designed for 12-year-olds.” I do not see that statement as derogatory or as an insult to anyone’s intelligence. Now I can look back at certain pieces of media that I watched as a kid that could have arguably made me dumber, like “Power Rangers.” As fun as it was to watch that franchise when I was younger, I often look back and wonder if I spent my time wisely. “Star Wars” on the other-hand is a well-crafted and intelligently designed piece of art that holds up to this day because it is one of more imaginative modern stories we have. The story is timeless, even if bits and pieces are repetitive. The effects are amazing and in some cases are better than the prequels. The characters are admirable to the tenth degree. And the quotes from the film stand out whether it is May the 4th or literally any other day. But the film is not perfect. It is not for everyone. Some Wookies may want to sit this one out.

BECAUSE CHEWIE DIDN’T GET A MEDAL AT THE END!

In the end, “Star Wars” is everything that people say it is and more. One of the best films ever made. When it comes to the typical hero’s journey story, “Star Wars” has everything you could ask for. A not so perfect, but also interesting main hero, a wise man, a rambunctious wit who tries to do what they see fit, and an out of this world adventure that is easy on the eyes, ears, and most importantly, the imagination. Is “Star Wars” a western? Some would say it is, and I can see why. Although while technically not in the western genre, this occasionally has the slight pace of a western duel, as you may notice in the fight between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, all these desert environments, and occasionally gunslinging here and there. But to me, “Star Wars” is a great combination of fractions of a western if they merged into a pure fantasy. There is a reason why this movie is as celebrated as it is. As a child, I wanted to be a Jedi. As an adult, I want to go on an adventure. This movie has spoken to me for years and its staying power proves why “Star Wars” is deserving of a 10/10.

Also, one last thing I’ll mention is the score of the film. John Williams is up there with some of my favorite film composers of all time including Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer, and Alan Silvestri. His work on “Star Wars” showcases why that is the truth. If my previous reviews did not emphasize that enough already…

Here is a great track from this movie to support my statement. Enjoy.

Thanks for reading this review! We are more than halfway through the “7 DAYS OF STAR WARS” event and despite the recent 10/10, we are going to talk about a movie that some fans would argue is not just better than “Star Wars,” but the best film in the entire franchise, specifically “The Empire Strikes Back.” I cannot wait to discuss the film, but until then if you want to see more content like this, follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account, or just like the Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Star Wars?” What did you think about it? Or, if you could go back and watch any movie for the first time ever that you’ve already watched, what movie would that be? I sometimes get jealous of thinking about the people who have not seen “Star Wars” because that just means that they will likely get to experience it for the first time at some point. I am at an age where I should not worry about having children, but if I do, I would eagerly await the day we sit on the couch, I put on “Star Wars,” hopefully they have never seen it, and I sit down and watch it with them. Until next time, may the force be with you and Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

THE PHANTOM MENACE: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/23/star-wars-episode-i-the-phantom-menace-1999-worst-for-chronologically-first/

ATTACK OF THE CLONES: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/24/star-wars-episode-ii-attack-of-the-clones-2002-a-revisit-to-my-first-star-wars-movie/

REVENGE OF THE SITH: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/25/star-wars-episode-iii-revenge-of-the-sith-2005-my-favorite-star-wars-prequel-ever/

ROGUE ONE: https://flicknerd.com/2016/12/16/rogue-one-a-star-wars-story-a-movie-built-on-hope/

THE LAST JEDI: https://flicknerd.com/2017/12/15/star-wars-episode-viii-the-last-jedi-2017-another-year-another-star-wars-movie/

SOLO: https://flicknerd.com/2018/05/25/solo-a-star-wars-story-2018-somehow-this-star-wars-movie-exists/

THE RISE OF SKYWALKER: https://flicknerd.com/2019/12/20/star-wars-the-rise-of-skywalker-2019-the-final-word-in-the-story/

Top Movies of the 2010s (THE BEST 25)

Top Movies of the 2010s OFFICIAL POSTER

*WARNING: This post is over 11,000 words long…*

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! This is it! We have arrived! Second upon second, minute upon minute, hour upon hour, week upon week, month upon month, year upon year, has led to this very moment. It is time to dive into the best and the worst movies of the 2010s! For this initial installment of the multi-part series, I will be diving into the best movies of the decade. If you have followed this blog for some time, there is a good chance that you know that I usually like to cap off my years by reflecting on the best and worst in film through short countdowns. This however, is going to be bigger. I’ll not only explain movies, what they’re about, why I did or did not like them, but I will also show clips of the movies as well, so you can get a taste of the cinematic flavor. Plus, instead of top 10, this countdown is going to be a top 25, more films, more fun! I am going to continue being as descriptive about these movies as I can without providing any spoilers about them. And per usual, rules apply. This is a completely subjective and personal countdown. All of these entries are strictly my opinion, and in no way factual. I am not being paid money to put a film in a certain place, I am not sponsoring any of these films, I have not even worked on a single one, I am just a viewer. Also, the 2010s is a span of ten years and thousands of movies, for all I know the final outcome could be much more because it is getting easier to make a film nowadays. People do it on iPhones for crying out loud! With that being said, I have not seen every single film this decade. I still haven’t gotten around to films like “Despicable Me” (2010), “The Artist” (2011), “Silver Linings Playbook” (2012), “This is the End” (2013), “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” (2014), “Bridge of Spies” (2015), “The Nice Guys” (2016), “Logan” (2017) “If Beale Street Could Talk” (2018), and “The Two Popes” (2019). Films like those will not be on the list. I will also point out, if the film does not have a theatrical release of any kind, it will not be allowed on here. That means all movies that have gone straight to DVD, TV, or streaming are not qualified and will be off the list unless the public was able to see it in a theater during its prime release schedule. So with that being said, let’s dive into a countdown to ultimately define the past ten years. This is the big one, let’s do this! These are my top 25 BEST movies of the 2010s!

#25: Honey Boy (2019)

Out of all the movies that I am putting on this list, this one is one of the most recent to have come out. Specifically, “Honey Boy.” This movie is written by, of all people, Shia LeBeouf (Transformers, The Peanut Butter Falcon). And I have to say, as an observer, I think LeBeouf might be a better writer than he is an actor! LeBeouf wrote this movie while he was in rehab and I think the turnout result on screen is nothing short of fantastic. This is the first feature-length script written for the screen by LeBeouf himself, and if he is ever up to the task, I would love to see more from him. Speaking of debuts, this film is also the feature-length debut of director Alma Har’el, who I think personally created one of the best directorial debuts of all-time. This is a film that hit me when I saw it in the theater. I was never able to fully relate to the situations at hand. But that’s because I never grew up with an abusive parent, I have very loving parents, but I cannot deny that I felt something for the movie’s lead kid character, Otis, who is played marvelously by Noah Jupe. Speaking of which, we also manage to see some rather unfortunate effects that have been eventually attached to this character as he ages into a 22-year-old. The only problem I have with this movie are a couple nitpicky comments I have with shot choices. Other than that, it’s perfection.

#24: Birdman (2014)

You ever watch a certain movie and ask yourself, “HOW THE F*CK DID THEY MAKE THAT?!” Admittedly, I knew one or two things going into “Birdman,” but having seen that movie, I have to reiterate that question to myself from time to time. Seriously! This is  a film that quite literally, never stops. It is one of the most innovative films of our time, specifically because the shots never cut. I just saw “1917” before concluding this list, which is a great movie. And that too has a non-stop, one shot take represented for an extended period of time. But this movie was a game-changer for me. This movie also could have sucked as a story, and still work for me in regards to how it represents itself visually. But guess what, it doesn’t suck as a story! The movie revolves around an actor who is well known for his role as a superhero in a film franchise. He’s sort of becoming increasingly irrelevant, and he is trying to revitalize his career on Broadway. The film gets surprisingly intense and delivers some of the best acting of the decade. This movie may represent Emma Stone’s best performance to date, which says a lot because I like her as an actress even in movies that I didn’t enjoy overall. Even though I didn’t entirely dig films like “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” she was a highlight. If Stone keeps kicking ass in Hollywood and taking names for years to come, maybe she’ll be the next Meryl Streep. That’s another thing, what really makes this film all the more intense as a production is the fact that the camera is literally never stopping. There’s a shot that goes on for fifteen minutes, suggesting that there is a clear sense of needing to remember literally everything you have to do. Somehow, everyone pulled this ambitious project off! To me, it’s one of the greatest cinematic achievements of all time. Good story, good cast, good cinematography, GREAT film.

#23: Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)

One of my favorite DreamWorks franchises is “Kung Fu Panda,” so it should not be surprising that one of the films from the franchise end up on here. Well… except the first one, that came out in 2008, therefore it doesn’t count. Instead, why not put the second one on the list? “Kung Fu Panda 2” is too awesome for words. If you ask me, this is an animated sequel that is visually stunning, fun, and continues directly where the original left off and gives itself a reason to exist. It also, to my surprise, does a really good job with world-building and providing some decent backstory material as well. Much like many other sequels that come to mind, this references the original in clever ways, the most notable instance that comes to mind is the “stairs” scene, which continues to get a kick out of me conceptually. I will also say that much like the original “Kung Fu Panda” movie, the climax of this film is one of the best in animation history. It is compelling, it is attention-grabbing, it is flashy, it is epic, it’s everything I want out of a movie like this. The animation itself is pristine, clean, and overall very marvelous to glance upon. It’s easily one of DreamWorks’ best-looking films! If “Kung Fu Panda 2” ever comes out on 4K, I would not mind going to the store and picking it up! The original “Kung Fu Panda” will always have a place in my heart, both as a childhood film, and as one of my favorite films in general. But this sequel, along with the third installment in the trilogy, both bring smiles to my face. Spoiler by the way, the third installment, as much I adore it, is not on this list!

#22: Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

Coming in at #22 is an entry that I feel is going to strike some controversy, but what is the Internet without a little disagreement? So, hear me out. Here’s the thing about “The Wizard of Oz,” many people seem to know it to be one of the most beloved, iconic films of all time, and I can see why. Having seen the film myself, I think it is definitely worthy of utter appreciation even eighty years after its release. However, if you ask me, one of the best films of my time, personally, comes from the same universe, “Oz the Great and Powerful.” This is one of those films that I am surprised I do not talk about more often. While the visuals at times may not look realistic and maybe like something out of a TV movie, that honestly adds to the charm of this film a little bit. I think James Franco does a pretty decent job with the lead Role. Mila Kunis adds her slice of charisma and comes off like she’s having fun with the movie. When I saw the marketing for this film originally, I was expecting something epic, fun, and flashy, and I got all three of those things. Did I mention Sam Raimi directed this film? I think he did a pretty swell job at not only giving us a solid story, but the way they utilized 3D in this film was honestly done to levels that I did not expect. Is it gimmicky? I guess you can definitely make an argument for it being gimmicky, but that sort of adds to the fantastical charm of it all. I also have to give a shoutout to Danny Elfman for creating the fantastic score. As soon as I was introduced to the film and I was going through the opening titles, I knew that this movie was going to be rad. There are times where, dare I say it… *whispering* think this could be more entertaining than “The Wizard of Oz…” Does that mean it’s technically better? Probably not, but still.

#21: Roma (2018):

I think this film is pretty unique in terms of where it stands. After all, it is the only black and white movie on this list. I give you all the movie that made me start taking Netflix just a tad more seriously as brand, “Roma!” This is one of those films that I went in blind for, and as I watched whatever was happening, it made for one of the best theater experiences of the past few years. Plus, getting to see this movie in 70mm was a treat. This film is directed by Alfonso Cuarón, who also made another enjoyable flick from this decade, “Gravity.” Now I liked “Gravity” when I saw it, and as a theater experience, it was better than “Roma,” which says something because “Roma” is great on its own. But having said that, “Roma” is ultimately the superior film. It’s a story revolving around a maid to a family in Mexico who becomes pregnant. Essentially, this is one of those “slice of life” films that is not always happy go lucky. There was a moment during the film, probably through shot composition, direction, and acting, where I almost let a tear go. The beach scene in this film is one of the most emotionally powerful moments I had the privilege of witnessing in a cinema. When it comes to this list, there is almost no other film that I can think of, except a few, that can rival this one in terms of cinematography. If you want to watch it right now it is free on Netflix, but it is also getting a physical release as part of the Criterion Collection which REALLY makes me happy. I will say though, I am not sure how audiences, specifically Americans, will continue to respond to it overtime. It is black and white and has subtitles. I don’t care about subtitles personally, but it is, as “Parasite” director Bong Joon Ho suggests, a one-inch tall barrier that some viewers have yet to overcome. 

#20: The Disaster Artist (2017)

I did not make this list, it’s not true, it’s bulls*it! I did not make this list! I did nawt! Oh, hi viewers! This film is one of the best comedies I have seen, which is tremendous praise on my part because if you are making a comedy specifically for me, it is HARD to make a good one. What comedy am I talking about? That first pile of sentences should be a hint. “The Disaster Artist!” This is a film that is about a lot of things. Friendship, sticking up for one another when one is trying their hardest to make something special, and how MIND-NUMBINGLY DIFFICULT it is to make a good movie. This movie is basically a telling of how Tommy Wiseau and others went about making the early 2000s cult classic “The Room.” For those of you who haven’t seen “The Room,” this film basically tells you the behind the scenes mayhem and chaos that went into that movie. It’s one of those movies, kind of similar to films like “Batman & Robin” or last year’s “The Fanatic” starring John Travolta that is so incredibly hysterical that it would probably leave some viewers wondering how it even was conceived, made, and released! This film dives deep into all of that. James Franco also gives one of the best performances I have seen from him. Yes, he was definitely great in films like “127 Hours.” To me, that’s nothing compared to “The Disaster Artist,” and I can tell that it was rather simple for Franco to put a lot of passion into this performance considering how he not only starred in the film, but he also directed it. At the end of 2017, I told pals of mine that I was looking forward to watching this more than “The Last Jedi.” I cannot say I was disappointed walking out of it. In fact, the tail end of the film has that feel good vibe that I did not even think I would have needed. Do you have to watch “The Room” to understand “The Disaster Artist?” Not really, no. You can go watch this film, and once it ends, I think you may be able to fully understand everything. Does it help? Sure it does, because it goes into some of Tommy’s mannerisms, quirks, and even pays homage to certain choices and dialogue that had ultimately been put in “The Room” itself. Also, shoutout to Tommy Wiseau. I love you, man. You’re kinda crazy, but I love ya!

#19: Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

Some people say that Pixar may be the biggest force today that will allow the animation industry to thrive. I would not say they’re wrong, but if you ask me, I think the animation industry also has a place for another particular company, Laika, the creators of “Coraline.” Speaking of Laika, they also created my favorite animated film of 2016, “Kubo and the Two Strings.” When I went through 2016 as a year in film, there were plenty of good ones like “Captain America: Civil War,” “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” and “Patriots Day.” However, if there happened to be one genre that dominated the year for me, it has to be animation. With the exception of maybe “Moana” and DEFINITELY “Ice Age: Collision Course,” I don’t think there is a single animated film from 2016 I did not enjoy. For the record, I missed out on “Norm of the North,” so I have no comments regarding that. “Finding Dory, “Zootopia,” “Sing,” “Kung Fu Panda 3,” and even the raunchy adult animation “Sausage Party” all were worthy of a thumbs up. However, “Kubo” came out on top. It is a film that is visually creative and stunning, colorful, and an amazing tribute to everyone who’s got a story to tell. The film’s cast also has some notable names including Charlize Theron (Hancock, A Million Ways to Die in the West), Matthew McConaughey (Mud, Dallas Buyers Club), and even George Takei (Star Trek, Kim Possible). The film has various scenes that make me personally wish that I was the one responsible behind the screenplay or the overall production due to the brilliant ideas being presented. “Kubo and the Two Strings” is one of those films that is worth just about every second of my time. Out of all the films to come out in its particular year, it’s probably the one that most resembles a video game. I guess if you change some character names, maybe one or two pieces of the plot, and have a side gag dedicated to breaking pottery, this would make for one fine “Legend of Zelda” movie.

#18: Inside Out (2015)

I have only seen this movie once, but even so, it is still one of the most charming animated films out there today. I’m talking about “Inside Out!” The concept behind it is one that I personally wish I originated. Essentially, it dives into the “voices inside your head.” These voices include Joy, Anger, Disgust, Fear, and Sadness. One of the biggest surprises that I have with “Inside Out” is its expansive world. And I say it’s surprising because of where exactly the world takes place, specifically inside the head of a young girl going through puberty. Even though this movie is made for families and children, it deals with some heavy topics. Moving, adapting to a new lifestyle, growing up, and handling yourself emotionally regardless of the situation. This movie does a really good job at displaying the human condition by reminding you that there are times when your feelings take over and you lose a sense of control in a way. I liked all the characters in this film, some of the human characters are admittedly a little generic, but the movie is not about them, they are ultimately pawns in this story, it’s really about the main human character, Riley, and the voices in her head. Speaking of said voices, I also want to give massive props to Lewis Black for his terrific voiceover performance as Anger, and part of it has to do with the golden script that allows these emotions to shine. But out of all of them, Anger is by far the best of the bunch because of how raw he feels. Whenever he gets mad, he literally erupts like a volcano. It’s f*cking great. Much like some other Pixar films such as “Coco” or “Up,” this film is powerful in its impact. That’s probably the best part of it because you have these five core emotions and all of them make you feel emotions. This movie does its job well, and even though I have not watched it since my initial viewing in 2016 when it came to Starz, I cannot wait to watch it again.

#17: Room (2015)

HOOO-LY CRRRAAAAP. THIS MOVIE. I cannot even begin to describe what is like to watch this for the first time. For those of you who don’t know what I am referring to, just watch “Room.” Not, “THE ROOM,” “ROOM.” “Room” is a film that is based on a book that I have personally never read, but even so, the movie delivers. Between the remarkable performances between Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, the film packs a brutal punch in every possible method imaginable. It is emotional, it is heart-pumping, it is disturbing in the best way I can possibly describe the word. I read a review on IMDb for “Room” before watching it and somebody said that this movie made them a better person. Having seen “Room” myself, I can see why. This film is almost on the edge to where it drags in the middle of it, but it does not mean the movie has that many flaws whatsoever. This is not a horror movie, perhaps in any sense of the word. But after watching this film, there is an argument to make that “Room” could be scarier than a vast number of horror flicks out there. “Room” is a film that kind of ends up being cute, but to have it end up being cute, it cannot be cuddly. This is especially true when you take the brilliant screenplay and the way that actor Jacob Tremblay, who get this, WAS NOT EVEN TEN YEARS OLD during the production or release of the film, executes all of his beautiful lines. The story is told from his perspective, and that made the movie just slightly better, because the idea was to have a child who knew nothing about the outside world, and getting that perspective made me feel for the mother and son duo. Just watch this movie, you will not regret it. If I need to say anything else about it, A24 helped get this film out there. They are easily one of the best studios working today, so if you want to support independent, not to mention compelling filmmaking, go buy this movie.

#16: Toy Story 3 (2010)

This entry is one of the best Pixar films I have ever seen. Let’s just be clear, it is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT for something to top “The Incredibles” as far as my opinions are concerned. I’m talking about “Toy Story 3.” This is a film that I think hit every single level that not only an animated film need to hit, but also every level a trilogy capper needed to hit. Yes, “Toy Story 4” exists, but to me, that’s just additional DLC at this point. “Toy Story” was never one of my big franchises growing up, even though I do admire its technological achievements for the film industry as a whole. The reason why “Toy Story 3” is such a great movie overall is because despite how it does feel like something kids can enjoy, it can ultimately connect with anyone, no matter what age they just so happen to be. The whole trilogy seems to present a tiny little structure of Andy, the owner of a majority of the toys seen in the franchise, growing up, and now we have come to this third installment where he is now an adult and he’s off to college. If you know me in person, I tend to be extremely sentimental. I still have various items from when I was a kid that I imagine other people would get rid of if they had them at a particular age. I still have a stuffed duck, a ton of DVDs I possessed at a young age, all the game consoles that I have ever owned (that still at least partially work). I didn’t even get rid of my childhood twin bed until it broke at the age of nineteen! This movie basically reminded me to cherish the memories of childhood, and while not everything lasts forever, you can still cherish the legacy of something or pass it down to future generations. Also, the ending of this film may be the best Pixar has ever done. It has numerous emotions attached to it that make it all work. It is perhaps one of the saddest, yet happiest endings I have seen in a film. This is why I didn’t want a “Toy Story 4.” Granted, I will admit, I was utterly surprised with how good “Toy Story 4” was when I saw it, but compared to the original trilogy, it is just a bonus.

#15: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019)

You know that movie that might as well match up with where you are in life? One of those films that reminds you of an event you are currently tackling? Well at the beginning of 2019, I was in my second semester of college and to my surprise, “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” spoke to me on every level that it could. This third installment to the “How to Train Your Dragon” franchise is the perfect ending to its particular trilogy. It dives deep into the character of Toothless, goes through a major change in how the character thinks, not to mention feels. With the recent introduction of a “Light Fury,” Toothless finds love. This side of the story, along with various other elements reminded me of the man that I am trying to become. I still live with my mother, mainly because despite being in college, I do not want to lose the family connection I have right now. I still go to my grandparents every week. I still talk to my parents just about every chance I get. Even though I do plan to eventually develop my own path in life, move out, etc, I do not want to lose the connection of family quite just yet. But with that being said, this reminded me of how some parents want to protect their children, which means that the children perhaps have a helicopter over them at times. This movie highlights the connection between Hiccup and Toothless, and builds off the terrific chemistry the two had before. I will also say, of the numerous DreamWorks animated films that I’ve watched over the years, this is one of the more stunning ones. And it definitely shows when we get to The Hidden World. It’s flashy, colorful, vast, and if I imagined myself there in person, I’d be overwhelmed by the scope of everything around me. The only problem that comes to mind with this film might as well be the cliché villain, but even with that, everything else is A+ material. To this day, it is the only film I watched in the theater that made me cry. It is one hell of an experience overall.

#14: Inception (2010)

Christopher Nolan is my favorite director of all time. He can take a comic book concept like “Batman” and deliver on it 110%. He can put you directly in a war zone like he did in “Dunkirk.” He can also take you back in time for an epic thrill in “Memento.” But one movie that is better than all of those is one of my personal favorite flicks of 2010. “Inception.” This movie has everything a sci-fi action flick is supposed to have! Great characters! A brilliant concept! Cool looking visual effects! A lovable story! AMAZING screenwriting! Epic music, kudos to Hans Zimmer by the way! Everything in this movie builds up to what I consider to be one of my favorite climaxes in film history. I’m not talking about the very end, but the final act itself is a true display of why I continue to watch movies to this day. It delivers on spectacle, stakes, and you care about the characters! At least I did. The relationship between Leo DiCaprio and Marion Cottillard? HOLY F*CK! Not only did I buy them the way they were together, the movie does everything it can to make you get emotional about them. Speaking of DiCaprio, his chemistry with Ellen Page was great, I thought they were terrific partners, and I almost cannot imagine anybody else in that duo. And again, the concept! The idea of someone going from dream to dream and trying to plant an idea in someone’s head?! Freaking rad! This movie is literally what dreams are made of.

#13: Ready Player One (2018)

Continuing down this list, we have, “Ready Player One.” I’m putting this on the list in reference to the great year that I personally believe 2018 has been for the film industry as a whole. There are more 2018 films on here, and this is just one of them. Before the movie came out, I read the book, and I’ll be honest, I love the book to death. It’s pretty much everything I would want out of a book of its kind. The author’s kind of a cool guy too, Google Ernest Cline, he’s awesome. But here’s the thing about books and movies, I don’t always WANT the book to be exactly the same as the movie. If they make the movie and book identical, great! Maybe it works out, but there are a few things in the book like the “Pac-Man” scene that I do think could have ended up being pretty cool to see, but it would make the film itself lose some of that theatricality factor. It’s one of those films that I love because of how much of a true adventure it is. It feels like that from start to finish, when we are introduced to the OASIS virtual reality system, I instantly wanted to be a part of that world. Even though the real world ended up kind of being in deep s*it in the film’s vision of 2045, I still wanted this VR system in front of me because of all the unlimited capabilities that come with it. Plus, despite how this movie is filled with all of these pop culture associations like a digitized version of “The Shining,” “Batman,” a “Minecraft” world, and even a ton of time spent with the DeLorean, I still cared about the main characters in front of me. As for the visual effects, they are quirky, they are different, they look like something out of a 3D anime, but that’s something that makes them work. After all, a good portion of this movie takes place in a virtual universe with Avatars, so it is kind of cool to see all the customized beings walking around with all their digitized swagger. And of course, I cannot end this without mentioning two things. One, the amazing score by Alan Silvestri. It’s epic in every way. It’s grand, it’s big, and it fits this nostalgic fantasy realm to the tenth degree! Also, the final chase between the main heroes and villain is one of the most creative scenes I have witnessed on film. Between all of this and being one of my most rewatched movies of 2018, I just had to put this somewhere on the list. 

#12: Ready or Not (2019)

I think I said what needs to be said about “Ready or Not” in my best movies of 2019 list, but let’s be real, I can’t stop talking about it! “Ready or Not” is one of those movies that may sound silly on paper, even though it had one of my favorite trailers of the year. The concept of “Ready or Not” is that a woman is getting married into a family that traditionally plays a game before someone new joins the family. Turns out they have to play hide and seek, which ultimately means that the family has to let the newcomer hide, before they have go on a quest to kill her. It’s f*cking nuts. This is one of those movies, according to many people, that has a trailer with more information to reveal than necessary. I wouldn’t say people are wrong to say that. But I will say that this movie gave me EXACTLY what I would have expected, not to mention wanted, after witnessing its trailer. I saw this at an advance screening in Boston, and the communal experience that was had during this movie was one to remember. Everybody gasped, applauded, and while I am not a fan of people talking during films, there was an older woman next to me who would provide some hilarious commentary on what’s happening. Also, everything from the production design to the writing to the pacing just works 100%. I will also mention, again, hiding spoilers, the ending. If 2019 has done anything for me in terms of films, it has given some of the best endings ever. From “Avengers: Endgame” to “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and even the recently mentioned “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” the endings were all a collection of perfection. I am going to keep myself from talking about the ending, because it is something that you seriously have to see for yourself, but it’s pure movie Heaven. I rarely go see movies twice in the theater at this point, but if I had more time on my hands (and less movies to pick from in the cinema), I would have gone to see this a second time. I mean, HOLY CRAP.

#11: Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)

Up next, is one of the best action movies I have witnessed in my life, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout.” “Mission: Impossible” is a very interesting franchise as far as movies go because it has been going on since 1996, it has had no reboots since then, Tom Cruise is always a guaranteed badass, and with the exception of “Mission: Impossible II,” all the movies have been pretty good. In fact, if it weren’t for “Risky Business,” this would probably be my all-time favorite Tom Cruise film. I mean, seriously! I cared about everyone, every action sequence was done to perfection, and I will forever be in Tom Cruise’s debt just because he learned how to fly a helicopter for this movie. And remember how in “Justice League” Henry Cavill had his beard erased by digital effects? Like, to the point where certain people could notice certain particles on his face? After seeing this movie, it’s completely worth it! Between the cinematography, location choices, directing, score, editing, sound, and overall immersion factor, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” is easily one of those action flicks that puts a smile on my face. There are certain movies that I have watched in the past like “Atomic Blonde” or “John Wick” that have one memorable action scene and I often sometimes perhaps equate that to how much I enjoy those movies. For “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” If they ever put this back in theaters, I will come for the movie, but STAY for the helicopter scene, because holy f*ck! Thank you, Tom Cruise, for nearly giving up your life making this masterpiece!

#10: Arrival (2016)

I’ve seen a lot of movies from 2016, including the one where Donald Trump becomes president. That movie by the way is called “Real Life” and is often getting mixed critical responses. Trump becoming president, to me at least, was practically a “holy f*ck” moment. I’m not gonna talk about politics, I’m not saying I like or dislike him, I’m just saying that this is something I would have never predicted to have happened ten years ago. Speaking of “holy f*ck” moments, that term can also apply to one of the last movies I saw in 2016, which by coincidence, came out the same week Trump was announced as President-Elect, specifically “Arrival.” This movie is about a group of people who are investigating the actions of alien life forms as they try to interpret their language and communicate with them. I like that concept, because the movie starts off as if it were an alien invasion summer blockbuster, but in reality, it fits right in with a thinker just in time for award season. I’ll remind you, this is a November movie, so it is technically just in time for award season. In fact, it won an Oscar, and happened to be nominated for Best Picture! Although it ended up losing to “Moonlight”–wait wait wait, was it “La La Land?” Which one was it? Could have been a tie for all I know. The plot overall was fascinating, I loved Denis Villeneuve’s direction, the sound work was some of the best of the year, and the score at times was awesome. In fact, when I watched the movie at home once, I nearly shed a tear! I never cry during movies, that’s personally an achievement on this film’s part!

#9: The LEGO Movie (2014)

This next spot is dedicated to one of the biggest surprises of the decade. I saw the trailer for this film long before it came out, and while I did not hate it, there might have been a part of me that thought that this film could not have possibly worked whatsoever, but it did! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you perhaps the funniest animated movie of the decade, “The LEGO Movie!” This is a film that gets better every time I watch it. Because I watched it when it came out, and I found it to be delightful, charming, and witty. Then as I continued watching it when it came to HBO and cable networks like TBS, I have observed the dialogue, which was already fantastic to begin with, and so many other lines popped up and busted my guts. This movie’s Batman is perfect for its own world! He’s an egotistical man who’s always about himself. He’s basically what would happen if you took Kevin O’Leary from “Shark Tank” and made him “Batman,” because both people seem to think that they are the best person alive. There’s no competing against them! Anything out of his mouth is pure gold. This is why I also thought 2017’s “The LEGO Batman Movie” was just as pleasing as this specific film. The movie has an advantage of playing off of iconic properties, because there’s a scene dedicated to how many characters from preexisting material they can fit into one area. They managed to get Gandalf, Dumbledore, more DC characters aside from Batman himself, NBA basketball players including the Shaq, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and they have Abraham Lincoln in a flying space chair! Holy f*ck this movie is a trip! And speaking of trips, the climax in this movie introduces something that you do not really see in this genre of film. I cannot go into it because, well, spoilers, but it is the stuff of absolute genius! As for the other leads, they are funny, they are well-written, and provide some of the best comedic material of 2014. The movie does follow beats of other films, with there being a prophecy and all, but it does it so well that I just don’t care. And before we move on, can we just talk about Good Cop/Bad Cop? Yeah, it’s two characters in one, and it makes for one of the most hysterical questioning scenes I have ever witnessed. GENIUS! Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are powerhouse filmmakers and I would to love to see more from them! 

#8: Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

What do you get when you build a story up for a decade, over tens of films across different IPs, with all of them making millions to billions of dollars? According to many, I’d say you’d get “the most ambitious crossover in history.” “Avengers: Infinity War!” You know those movies that are so good, so iconic, so life-changing, and so experiential that they define a generation? Yeah, this is one of them. Earlier on in the decade, “Star Wars” was seen to many as the important franchise to remember for a long time. Well guess what? Everyone at Marvel glanced at “Star Wars” saying, “Hold our beer!” The reason why I love this movie so much is because of how much it changed the game for movies of its kind. Sort of in the same manner that a film like “The Dark Knight” managed to do so. To be honest, before this movie came out, I was getting worried about what the Marvel Cinematic Universe would become. The Marvel movies in 2017 were not up to par with what I would want out of a flick in its particular genre, but when 2018 arrived, “Avengers: Infinity War” gave me EXACTLY what I wanted. A ton of visually stunning action scenes, a compelling story of good vs. evil, all the while putting much more emphasis on evil than usual. Honestly, Thanos may be the greatest movie villain ever written. His motivation to “balance” the universe is something I can buy into. His relationship with Gamora and Nebula during the film brought some attention-grabbing moments, including a scene that involves sacrifice in order to achieve what you desire. While I didn’t exactly root for Thanos, I understood why he did what he did, and in various ways, I almost feel bad for him. And let me just say, I won’t name names, but this is a film where A LOT of people die, including many on the good side. One of my complaints involving the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to do with the lack of deaths on the good side, and when they do happen, they mean nothing to me because the character either comes back or the death comes from a character who I happen to find irrelevant. This is part of why I felt an impact from various scenes in the film’s sequel, “Avengers: Endgame.” By the way, “Endgame’s” not on the list. Sorry guys!

#7: Whiplash (2014)

Coming in at #7, is “Whiplash!” “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than good job.” This quote will forever stick with me, partially because “Whiplash” makes jazz look like the greatest art form ever created just from how brutal it appears. I have heard some comments from certain jazz enthusiasts and students saying that the idea behind this film is flawed because jazz doesn’t work the way it does here. I am in no way trying to invalidate their prior experiences, but I think the movie is all the better for what it does in regards to how jazz is being taught, being enforced among students. I say that because it makes the movie completely relatable to those who have taken on a class, it could be a subject of interest or one that you are forced into for some reason, and the person teaching the class is just the biggest dickface on the planet and now you have to put up with them. But I will say, JK Simmons plays this dickface very well. JK Simmons is one of my favorite actors working today and he deserved his Oscar upon finishing this film. His chemistry with Miles Teller is some of the best I have ever seen. This is also one of the earlier films directed by Damien Chazelle, who would go on to direct “La La Land” and “First Man,” both of which were also great movies. I can tell the guy really has a passion for the jazz genre of music, and it shows through several moments of the screenplay, which is why it is also no surprise that he made it a centerpiece of the story in “La La Land.” Damien Chazelle is still a young filmmaker and time will tell if his productions will continue to be worthy of conversation and preservation, but with films like this, he is off to a flying start if you ask me.

#6: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Out of everyone in my family, it goes without saying that I am probably the geekiest. So naturally, this next movie was almost made for a geek like me. I’m talking about the live-action resurrection of a popular saga! “Star Wars: The Force Awakens!” The things that really cement this movie’s presence on the list is my history with it. I already really enjoyed “Star Wars” before this movie came out, therefore, how I could I NOT be excited for this film? I went to see it four times in the theater and twice in IMAX! It’s the first steelbook I’ve ever owned! And I used to have a joke I would think about in my mind from time to time. Remember how George Lucas went back and changed the original trilogy and rereleased every installment from said trilogy as “Special Editions?” Well, people often point out this movie, Episode VII, being pretty similar to Episode IV. If that is truly the case, allow me to declare that Episode VII is without a doubt, the best special edition in the entire “Star Wars” saga! I will say, the trilogy that this belongs to itself is a bit of a mixed bag. I liked “The Rise of Skywalker,” I thought it just good old-fashioned “Star Wars” fun, but still a little messy. But “The Last Jedi” is what I think hurt this trilogy most, because a lot of things were set up in “The Force Awakens” and the payoff to all of those things happen to be either ignored or off-putting. However, it does not take away from how much I love this movie. It’s great seeing old faces like Han and Chewie again, 3PO and his red arm, the lightsaber battles are as fun and exciting as they’ve ever been. The film has possibly the most eye-candy-esque color palette in a “Star Wars” film yet. Then again, with newer tech, it probably helps. But keep in mind, this movie was also shot on film, and it looks great! I will also mention Adam Driver’s character of Kylo Ren being one of the best things that has EVER happened to the “Star Wars” franchise. I love him because he’s ultimately trying to carry on the legacy of Darth Vader and the Empire, but as this villain who is supposed to be evil, he is clearly conflicted and broken, which adds a lot to his character. There is an argument to make that stuff like this can make a villain look weak, but I feel that this is what this sequel trilogy needed. A different kind of villain who can kick ass, while also being able to release themselves and reveal how they feel emotionally. As for other lead characters, I think Rey and Finn have great chemistry, and seeing them together after they finish their first fight onboard the Millennium Falcon is like watching two kids discover they have unbelievable talent in a video game. Poe Dameron is also a fresh and exciting addition to the franchise. I’m just mad of the direction they took his character in “The Last Jedi.” As much as I am scared of a future where Disney rules the entire media universe, “The Force Awakens” is most certainly worth watching. And watching again. And again. No seriously, when this thing came out, the replay value for me was bonkers! 

#5: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

Up next, we have one of the best comic book movies of the decade. Is it in the DC universe? No. Is it in the Marvel universe? No. It’s a little film directed by Edgar Wright, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World! THE FREAKING WORLD! This movie, to me, was perhaps everything I would have wanted it to be and more! FLASHY! OBNOXIOUS! CREATIVE! VISUALLY STUNNING! HILARIOUS! OH MY GOSH THIS MOVIE’S AWESOME! As far as comic book movies go, this has some of the best directing, not to mention, some of the best writing I have seen. It goes for that ridiculous, absurd fast pace that will allow you as a viewer to keep your eyes on the screen. In fact, you know what? You know that stereotype about video game movies? You know how a lot of people are perhaps still waiting for that “excellent” video game movie that they have yet to see in their life? If they perhaps changed a few things about the characters, a small number of visuals, things like that, then I might as well say that this would have made for an EPIC “Guitar Hero” movie or something. In fact, I’d compare this movie to something along the lines of “Ready Player One,” because there is a sign of at least one or two characters having an obsession with pop culture and both movies seem to have a unique visual style. Granted, “Scott Pilgrim” is a lot less reliant on preexisting IPs, but still. It talks about things like the history of “Pac-Man,” it has a scene that might as well take place in a “Seinfeld” episode, and the band’s name is “Sex Bob-Omb,” which is “sex bomb” mixed with the name of the bombs from “Super Mario.” Plus, both feel like cinematic video games if you truly break them down. They feel not only immersive, but like they have this visual aesthetic that has a larger than life aspect to them. And I must say, if this film was not already exciting enough, not only are the fights with the exes stunning to watch, each one is perhaps creative in its own way. There is a bass battle, a fight where an ex breaks out into song, there’s one where gigantic visual creatures are spawned out of nowhere! It’s the stuff of magic, really! So if you ask me, “Jack, what’s your favorite comic book movie of the 2010s? Is it “Infinity War?” “Endgame?” “Logan?” “Deadpool?” “The Winter Soldier?” “The Dark Knight Rises?” “Man of Steel?” Forget Marvel and DC! I direct you, to “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.”

#4: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

When I was first introduced to “The Hobbit,” specifically the movies, I had no idea that it was attached the “Lord of the Rings” franchise (I haven’t read any of the books or seen any of the movies). But if you had to ask me right now, it feels weird to say, but “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is arguably my favorite “Lord of the Rings” film. “Fellowship” is up there, but still. I walked out of the theater LOVING this movie, and I still do. I think it is one of 2013’s best, and the villain, Smaug, may be one of the greatest given to my generation. MASSIVE KUDOS to Benedict Cumberbatch for his fantastic portrayal and voicework. As creepy as this may sound, I would not mind it if Smaug was the narrator of my life. That’s how much I love his voice. As for everyone else, I liked Martin Freeman and Bilbo Baggins, Ian McKellan as Gandalf, per usual, is great. The visuals, as expected, are top notch. And that final chase between Bilbo, the dwarves, Smaug, was an adrenaline rush brought up to 9,000! Speaking of adrenaline rushes, I also really enjoyed the barrel scene, where they all fight in the forest river, which by the way, more props have to be given, Howard Shore, you are a musically gifted man. Go listen to The Forest River on the official soundtrack for the movie. You won’t be disappointed! And one of the best things I can say about this movie is that it feels like an improvement over its predecessor. I say that because the first “Hobbit” movie, even there are some coolish things in it, was overall kind of a mixed bag. Still good, watchable, but it’s the worst movie in the “Lord of the Rings” franchise for sure. This is especially true when it comes the pacing. This sequel is fast paced from start to finish, with a short little breather in the middle of it all. I also admittedly like the introduction of Tauriel, who was never in the books, but she honestly added something to the movie for me. This movie can be summed up in one word. Epic. That’s all you need. It is one of the best fantasy movies I have ever seen, and one of the best sequels I’ve ever seen. One of the best prequels too if you want to get technical.

#3: Colossal (2016)

Monster movies can be fun, but have you ever heard of a film where a woman reunites with a childhood friend, occasionally get drunk together, whilst Seoul is being attacked by a kaiju, and that kaiju is the girl herself? No? Well, you have been missing out! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you “Colossal,” the greatest monster movie ever made. I did not hear much about “Colossal” before going into it. In fact, I never recalled watching any trailers. And I honestly feel bad for those who did, because I read reviews from people thinking this is was going to be heavy on comedy. Not really, it’s got comedy in it, in fact with an actor like Jason Sudeikis comedy almost feels like a guarantee, but it’s not trying to be a comedy. It’s more of a drama if you ask me. It’s a drama about a group of pals who live in a small town and while one girl is adjusting to her new social group, she is also a killer monster (under certain conditions). “Colossal,” starring Anne Hathaway, takes that killer monster concept and avoids making it the main part of the story, while still using it to develop every action our characters take. In fact, you know how some big blockbusters or monster movies tend to show the despair and downfall of a city as everyone is trying to save themselves from danger? Oh… WOW. I HAVE NEVER SEEN IT DONE THE WAY IT IS DONE IN “COLOSSAL.” Not only is it creative, imaginative, and original, but it’s also to my surprise, almost shell-shocking. Not to mention, some of you might not feel the same way as I do, but I don’t think I would spend much of my adult life drinking alcohol, and this movie reminds me of why I tend to avoid it. The film is pleasant, unique, and most of all, exciting! It’s a film, kind of like “Whiplash,” that feels very big by being very small. When I saw this movie in the theater, I walked out feeling like a changed man. I remember texting a friend about the film some time after seeing it and telling them I don’t recall the last time I felt the way did walking out of “Colossal” since perhaps “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” What a f*cking movie.

#2: Blade Runner 2049

#2, is one of the best science fiction and noir flicks of my generation. It is a long-awaited and ambitious sequel. It is yet another return to a franchise starring Harrison Ford, now accompanied by the Canadian boy toy, Ryan Gosling, “Blade Runner 2049.” I am a major advocate for the theatrical experience. I believe streaming services like Netflix have some sort of purpose in society. You can pop on a movie whenever you wish, you can watch a movie practically wherever you want, but if you ask me, films like this is why the movie theater has been established. It is big, loud, and it looks DOPE. If you had to ask me, if I had to choose which film has the best cinematography ever, “Blade Runner 2049” might be somewhere on that list. It is a film that I believe would be an inspiration to future filmmakers, fans of sci-fi, and maybe even film composers, because Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch made the score together and it is FANTASTIC. I remember my senior year of high school and one of the highlights of said time period is not particularly doing homework, but playing the soundtrack of “Blade Runner 2049” while I do my homework. It put me in the mood to get my work done, and made homework just a little more epic. In fact, I have immense respect to this sequel compared to a ton of others, because unlike a lot of sequels that come out today, this doesn’t try to force any setup of future installments or cinematic universes. It feels like its own story, sort of like the first “Blade Runner.” Would I love to see a third “Blade Runner?” Absolutely. I think a third “Blade Runner” could end up being one of the better films of its particular year depending on how they execute it. The question is, how much money would it make? Because despite how much I love “Blade Runner 2049,” I do have to acknowledge that not everyone went out to see it. Maybe it will gain a following in future years, but for now, I have to be knowledgeable about its past. As for how they handle the story of “Blade Runner 2049,” I loved everyone in the film. The returning characters, the new characters, and if I had to be honest, Harrison Ford gave the best performance I have seen from him in this particular film. I should also point out… Ana de Armas… Yeehaw. I had a crush on her after this movie for a number of reasons. But if I had to be honest, her character is quite honestly, spectacular, mainly because of how Armas herself handled the role. If a movie makes me, the viewer, fall in love with a holographic being, it has done its job, and more. “Blade Runner 2049” is one of those films that will end up defining the decade for me as a reflect on it further. And if you haven’t seen it yet, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!

#1: ??? (2014)
Here we are my friends, we have made it this far! This is #1! As far as this decade goes, if I were to use sports-related terms, when it comes to this countdown, 24 movies enter, one movie leaves. This is the one to leave. Speaking of leaving, this is the film that admittedly I do not think left that significant of an impact on me until one of my many rewatches. This is a film that I admired going into it, not to mention leaving it for what it was able to do from a technical perspective. As time went on, I found every single element of this movie worthy of two thumbs up. Just to let you all know, this is a 2014 film. Take a look at this clip from my #1 film of the 2010s.

Christopher Nolan is a god among men. My #1 movie of the 2010s is “Interstellar!” Everything about this film is done to unimaginable levels. In terms of important achievements in mankind, the pyramid goes something like this: Somewhere on the list, you have clay tablets, next on that list is medicine, then comes the wheel, maybe democracy gets one of those slots too, but at the top of that list, to me, is the movie “Interstellar.” When it comes to movie theater experiences, there is almost no competition when it comes to trying to rival the time I had watching this in IMAX 70mm. Even if I did not like the movie, I would probably still give it kudos for being a great time at the cinema. On that topic, it’s visually stunning, in fact it even won an Oscar for said visual effects. The cinematography is great no matter what, but if you watch it in a way that allows for the IMAX scenes to shine, it becomes ten times better than it already is, which says a lot. Seriously, if you are watching the film on DVD, do yourself a favor and upgrade to the Blu-ray, it’s GREAT. The film also has some of the best sound I have ever heard in a movie. I mean that in terms of volume, the specific sounds chosen, and even lack thereof (because ya know, space). Hans Zimmer also created what may be my personal favorite film score of all time. It’s one of those scores that I cannot stop listening to simply for motivation. If there’s ever a future event where they do “Interstellar” with a live orchestra playing the music, I don’t care where it is, I’ll travel out of the country for it if I have to, I’m game. And now you might be thinking, “Hey, Jackass! This may sound great and all, but how’s the story? How are the characters?”

Whoops! My bad! I forgot!

When it comes to the film’s story, it displays a future that is relevant and one that could happen very soon. It’s another one of those dire and somewhat depressing future films kind of like “Wall-E.” The film revolves around a bunch of characters who are currently dealing with the effects of a dying Earth. Every now and then they get dust storms, resources are dwindling, plants are going away. In fact, corn, which is almost extinct in this movie, is all humanity seems to rely on when it comes to fulfilling their hunger. Meanwhile, NASA, which is kind of a point of controversy because younger generations are being taught in school that the Apollo missions are fake, is trying to set up a mission to find another inhabitable planet for humanity. This is something that I think could happen in real life. Maybe not exactly the same as this film suggests, because let’s face it, I don’t think the moon landing conspiracy is going to get that many more supporters, but who knows? My point however, is that humanity is becoming more aware of their environmental impact on this planet, which may suggest a need to perhaps abandon it and find a new one. There are some films that mess around with time, and Christopher Nolan as a filmmaker is no stranger to this concept. After all, when you’re known for doing films like “Memento” and “Inception,” you obviously have some experience. “Interstellar” to me does a phenomenal job in terms of how it handles time and plays around with it. There’s a situation where they have to get things done very quickly because on one planet the span of an hour is seven years, we see the result of Cooper’s kids growing up and becoming adults and how that plays into the film’s impact, the film’s score, I’ll mention once more, FANTASTICALLY composed by Hans Zimmer, goes at 60 beats per minute to match with the “tick tock” that is often associated with time. After all, there are 60 seconds in a minute, so why not have 60 beats per minute? Plus, this is a film that gets better with every rewatch. There was a point where I kept rewatching it and maybe I’d discover something new or retain something amazing that maybe I’ve forgotten before. I will also point out that the performances, across the board, are stellar! No pun intended! You’ve got decently chosen actors including Matthew McConaughey (The Wolf of Wall Street, Dallas Buyers Club), Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises, Rio), Jessica Chastain (Take Shelter, The Help), Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone, Out of the Furnace), and unsurprisingly, Michael Caine (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Batman Begins). All of them give performances that embody the proper emotions of the situations at hand, and this is the film where I started to admire Chastain as an actress. There’s a chilling moment towards the end of the film, I will not go into it, but she does something that occasionally sends a tear down my cheek. There’s a line of spoken dialogue in that moment that is PERFECTION. That moment could not have been executed any better through a different vision or a rewrite. Even the child actors kill it in their roles! Timothée Chalamet as Tom is a more limited role in the film, but I feel like it is limited for a reason. He’s mainly there to suggest that he’s “fine” in whatever situation he’s in. He’s sort of a settler who never complains. He likes being a farmer, which does eventually play into the film’s script, and when Cooper leaves to go to space, Tom does not seem that upset or emotional over the situation. Obviously, he is rooting for his dad on his mission, but he is always fine, which makes sense in regards to his character development. As for young Murph, played wonderfully by Mackenzie Foy by the way, who might arguably give my favorite child actor performance to date. There was a very touching scene before (HEY! SEE WHAT I DID THERE? AREN’T I A SMART COOKIE?) Cooper left for his mission that highlights such an opinion for me.

I also cannot talk about how much I dig “Interstellar” without discussing the ending. Don’t worry, I will not spoil a thing. But when it comes to endings, “Interstellar” may be my all-time favorite film in the category. Again, I mentioned that moment with Jessica Chastain, but that’s not all. It’s weird, I did not see it coming, and it’s incredibly emotional. It’s as rewarding as it is unfortunate. To add onto that, Hans Zimmer’s score continues to shine here as well. A movie like “Interstellar” sort of makes me consider whether or not the church organ is the greatest instrumental achievement ever. This is an ending that made me appreciate this film the more that I watched it. When I saw it in the theater, I did not have too many thoughts on it, but I liked it more with rewatch upon rewatch. But then one such rewatch, it struck me like a lightning bolt somehow. It became an ending I liked, and somehow turned into one of the greatest endings in film history. It’s charming and also leaves me to question who exactly came up with it. Was it Christopher Nolan’s brother, Jonathan? Maybe I should give him some credit here!

I think the big thing for “Interstellar” to me, both before and after watching it, is how much it made admire the filmmaking process. Keep in mind, I admired it before, but “Interstellar” helped me further appreciate it. Films like this and “The Dark Knight,” basically Christopher Nolan as a filmmaker in general, has given me a dream, a reason to want to pursue work in the film industry. While there was a point that I wanted to be a filmmaker, I now know which filmmaker I look up to the most. And I would love to do what he does. While I have my own scripts that I plan to do, I would love to shoot a movie in the IMAX format one day and present the movie on film stock. I think film is the best possible cinematic presentation and whenever there’s an opportunity to go watch a movie on film, I cannot help but take it.

Throughout my journey as a film viewer, there is no other film, at least over the past ten years, that gave me a remarkable impact like this one did. It involves an increasingly relevant concept that I think will continuously be developed over the years, it’s an original property, and technically, it’s a masterpiece. This film is very similar to another sci-fi classic, “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and I imagine there are some people out there who would consider this movie too similar. To me, “Interstellar” stands on its own because “2001” does not make particular characters the centerpiece of the film. It takes a bunch of random elements and scenes and manages to develop a story out of all of it, whereas “Interstellar” comes off as an adventure story from beginning to end, with various fiddles with time connected along the way. This is nothing against “2001,” which is one of my favorite films of all time, but “Interstellar” does something to relate to “2001” while also being its own movie, at least to me. Nevertheless, “Interstellar” is a master work of art, one of the best sci-fi films ever made, and earns the crown as the best movie of the 2010s!

Thanks for reading this post! This is a list that was admittedly, very hard to make. Part of me wonders if I should have spent a year on this. There’s a very good chance that I will be changing this list in the next few days because unlike most of these lists, which spans over a year, this spans over a much longer period of time, so I don’t even think this list is going to be that definitive. There’s a good chance that “Interstellar” will remain at #1 for a very long time, but for everything else, who knows? But with that being said, it’s time to forget the good and move on to the bad! Maybe even the ugly! I say that because tomorrow I am going to be releasing my top 25 WORST movies of the 2010s. These are movies that are 2,010 times as horrible as anything else! JUST YOU WAIT! With that being said, be sure to look forward to that post tomorrow, and if you are reading this early and wanted to be notified about my worst list and other exciting content here on Scene Before, click the follow button! If you have a proper account up and running, be sure to like and comment if possible, it definitely helps me out! Speaking of helping me out, like my Facebook page, I want to get more people to follow me on that side of things, it would probably help spread the word a bit on social, so please, help a guy out! I want to know, what are your favorite movies of the 2010s? Do you have a favorite year this decade for film? For me, I’d say mine are 2014 and 2018. Do you think I missed a film? Seriously, there may have been a film that I liked that I completely forgot about, and I say this as someone who has worked on this countdown series for literally MONTHS. Nevertheless, leave your comments down below, and stay tuned for the worst list! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019): The Secret’s Out: This Movie’s As Lifeless As A Pet Rock

“The Secret Life of Pets 2” is directed by Chris Renaud, who directed the previous installment to this specific franchise. He also has a voice role as multiple characters. Renaud is directing alongside Jonathan del Val, whose work has mainly been in the animation department for other Illumination titles such as “The Grinch” and “The Lorax,” which makes this his directorial debut. This film stars Patton Oswalt (King of Queens, Ratatouille) as the character of Max, a dog who has many pet pals in his vicinity around the city of New York. What’s interesting about that is the first movie had Max be voiced by Louis C.K., but based on eventually surfaced controversy, C.K. was replaced by Oswalt. Alongside Oswalt, we have Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family, Identity Thief), Kevin Hart (Ride Along, Central Intelligence), Jenny Slate (Obvious Child, The LEGO Batman Movie), Tiffany Haddish (Night School, Uncle Drew), Lake Bell (BoJack Horseman, Childrens Hospital), Nick Kroll (Operation Finale, Sing), Hannibal Buress (The Eric Andre Show, Neighbors), Bobby Moynihan (Saturday Night Live, Me, Myself, & I), and Harrison Ford (Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark).

“The Secret Life of Pets 2” follows the story of the recently mentioned Max as he adapts to having a human child by his side, only to eventually become protective of said child, not to mention, his own self. Meanwhile we get side stories involving the bunny Snowball as a superhero and the dog Gidget guarding a toy as she tries to learn the traditions of being a cat.

I saw the original “Secret Life of Pets” back when it came out, and it was also one of my first reviews I have ever done (view my continuously developing content here). When I did that review, I managed to view the movie as decent, and I managed to address a complaint that I imagine a decent number of people had while watching the film. Specifically, the notion that “The Secret Life of Pets” is too similar to “Toy Story.” Yes, there are similarities, but “The Secret Life of Pets” is fine enough to stand on its own if you ask me.

Oh, by the way! Check out my review for “Toy Story 4!”

That first movie managed to make $800 million more than its original budget of $75 million. Regardless of the movie’s quality, that is something both Universal and Illumination should celebrate. So naturally, a sequel seemed to be inevitable.

Well, here we are. And honestly, while I imagine some people like Chris Renaud may be doing this as a passion project, this almost feels like one of those movies that only exists just to make money. I could just say that just from viewing the movie on paper, but I viewed it on a screen. Guess what? I still feel that way! “The Secret Life of Pets 2” is the worst animation of the year so far! If I had to be honest, this just makes me feel bad for Illumination. I know the studio is pretty popular right now, especially with the following of “Despicable Me,” a trilogy I still have yet to see from start to finish. I saw part of the second film, and that is it. No, I have not seen “Minions.” But even though I enjoyed “Sing” and sort of enjoyed “The Secret Life of Pets,” I have yet to see that one film which defines the studio. To add onto this, I watched last year’s “The Grinch” and it was freaking awful. My gosh golly! That movie was a mean one for sure! Sadly, I think this movie’s worse. Because for starters, much like “The Grinch,” there is some occasional nice looking animation in this, but I think “The Grinch” slightly edges out its competitor because “The Grinch” was colorful and zazzy. There was nothing in this film that had a real wow factor. In fact, most of the film is cringe if you ask me!

Seriously! The writing is terrible! The plot is nearly convoluted! Not to mention, the movie almost has this rushed feeling to it. And if you look at the runtime, this statement would not surprise you. I say that because the runtime is 1 hour and 26 minutes. Coincidentally, that is also the runtime of what may be the worst animated film of all time, “The Emoji Movie,” another rushed disaster that might as well exist because, well, the thing it is about is trendy! “The Secret Life of Pets” was a success, why not make another one? We’ll make it the s*ittiest waste of time and money imaginable, and everyone will go see it. The script will be so lazy that it will eventually spend lots of time in one of the crew members’ junk drawers! Granted, “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” admittedly, is much better than “The Emoji Movie,” so this does not say much.

I felt like I already gave a teaser to how chaotic this movie is in terms of building blocks, because it didn’t feel like a movie. Instead, it felt more like a bad situation comedy episode with pets as the main cast. There are multiple plot lines for individual characters, which is fine for a number of films, but the execution was poor in this one. There are cheap jokes that don’t land, and there are anger-inducing moments that make playing a game of pinball where the flipper buttons shock you with each press look fun!

As for Max himself, there is one question I want to ask to the general audience going to this film. Do you care about the replacement voice actor? I could tell the voice difference betweent Oswalt and C.K., but I understand why the replacement happened so it’s not like I entirely give damn. Oswalt did a fine job with the voice, but as an avid moviegoer, I am gonna inevitably notice things, and Oswalt’s voice is not the same as C.K.’s. If you ask me, I would have probably done an audition process to see if someone could be a good match to Louis C.K.’s voice for the movie. Then again, I imagine some people don’t want to think about that guy so that could backfire. In terms of characterization, I understand the purpose of his character throughout the film and how he was written, but Max’s main problem in the movie in terms of how it was executed, nearly made me roll my eyes. Did I feel bad for him at times? Sure. But I still hated myself throughout the experience.

But as he tries to cope with this we get to meet the absolute best character in the movie, Rooster. For one thing, he’s voiced by Harrison Ford, who definitely brings a likable screen presence into a lot of projects, perhaps even if he sleepwalks. He has a couple of funny moments during the film, sadly I saw the characters’s main highlights prior to going into the auditorium. I guess this is what you get for watching promotional material and talk shows. Although unfortunately, because this movie quite literally cannot get any shorter, the amount of screentime Rooster manages to have is slightly underwhelming. I could tell that Harrison Ford was likely trying, but I would almost bet that this was a paycheck movie as far as Ford was concerned. As soon as I saw what I then gathered would be Ford’s final scene in the film, I almost wanted to turn off my brain. And I don’t mean turn off my brain and shove popcorn in my month as I stare at the screen. I mean lose all processes of thinking, knowing, and realizing. Because while I’m not psychic, I imagined that whatever would come next in the film, would be nowhere near as fun or entertaining as the scenes with Ford’s character. And of course, this super genius of film is right once again! Boom! Although I will say one thing about Harrison Ford’s character that is kind of interesting, I guess Han Solo got to play Chewbacca for once!

*Cricket noises*

Chewbacca derives from a Russian word for dog.

There is a lot of crap that happens in this movie to the point where I don’t even have the time to hit all of it (and some hinges into spoiler territory). Some of it includes a scene where Chloe (Lake Bell) is slowly taking in the effects of cat nip as if it was some sort of illegal drug, which might qualify to be one of the most unintentionally disturbing scenes in animation history. The ending is kind of absurd that it almost feels like it is too much for a cartoon, but there is one thing I have yet to cover regarding this film that I absolutely hate as a viewer.

They say a story is only as good as its villain. If that’s the case, THEN THIS STORY IS BULLCRAP! “The Secret Life of Pets 2” has a villain that even makes a good portion of the underwhelming MCU villains come off as menacing and watchable. Specifically, a character by the name of Sergei. The lackluster Sergei is partially responsible for running a circus. His latest addition to the crew is a wild tiger named Hu. Maybe I could appreciate the villain if he wasn’t so over-embellished, but crew went ahead and uttered “F*ck that! Quality? Who cares about quality? Let’s make him talk deep, with a unique yet cliche voice, give him the most boring lines imaginable, give him less personality than a bowling pin, and possibly make him more evil than he should be!” It would be fine if Sergei were some alien from another world or if he… I dunno, just didn’t happen to be human, but behind his black clothing and sidekick wolves, he is very likely just a regular guy. I imagine he would do other things in life aside from his dayjob at the circus. Once he gets home, I imagine he turns on the TV, watches the news, heats up a microwavable pizza, drinks a glass water, takes a shower, lives a normal life. I don’t mind ordinary people becoming extremely villainous for one reason or another, but in this case, it just didn’t work. If this is supposed to be propaganda against the circus or keeping wild animals where they don’t belong, maybe I could appreciate the movie for the direction it decided to take. But I’m sorry, it is overshadowed by cringe, insanity, stupidity, and a villain who makes this movie even more of a waste of my time than I ever imagined it would be. Remember the movie “Up” where the main villain is basically an elderly man who just loved to explore and hunt? He was not a maniac for the sake of being a maniac! Much like this film’s villain, he’s got a pack of animal sidekicks, but they have more dimension than chasing after potential victims. Then again, that’s because in this movie, the wolves are loyal to their one-dimensional owner whereas in “Up” the owner of the mob of dogs managed to have a personality. Man, this movie sucks!

In the end, “The Secret Life of Pets 2” is more intolerable than a bite from a vicious dog. I cannot even believe I am still talking about this movie! But in all seriousness, this movie could have been a lesson to children to make them realize they may have to face their fears, but sadly, I’m a teenager, and now I have self-diagnosed disease of TheSecretLifeofPets2phobia. Maybe it could be a lesson for adults and parents to not to make their children too soft, but even with a lesson like that intact, I learned a different lesson from “The Secret Life of Pets 2.” That lesson by the way is that I don’t ever want to watch this film again! This movie is a bad boy! Bad boy! Or… girl??? Is it a boy or girl? I dunno, who cares? The jokes don’t the work, the screenplay doesn’t work, and everything feels as rushed as math homework done by a student who answered each problem with the phrase “I dunno.” The first movie was OK, and now I am starting to wonder if someone put heavy drugs in my body because maybe if I watch that original film now it could suck. You know, kind of like this movie did. I’m going to give “The Secret Life of Pets 2” a 2/10. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that next week I am going to releasing a giant post related to my Scene Before experience so far this year, which will also include a preview for what I’ll be doing for the rest of the year. Stay tuned for that! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with a WordPress account or email so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “The Secret Life of Pets 2?” What did you think about it? Or, what is the worst animated movie of the year for you? I did not see “Wonder Park,” but if I did see it, I imagine that would be in the conversation for sure. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

90th Academy Awards Hopes and Predictions

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! On March 4th, which is this Sunday, which is also today, the Academy Awards will take place. The Super Bowl for movie buffs, and for at least the next few years, for a handful of people who enjoy hearing Trump jokes. Speaking of which, I can assure you that this Sunday’s Oscars show is gonna YUGE, and I’m not joking around. This year is the 90th show in the event’s history.

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Despite being a big number for the Oscars, I’ll say something I said for the 75th Golden Globes this year after it aired. “Seventy-five, undoubtedly, is a big number for any event, however this felt like other “Golden Globes” shows I watched with a 75 shoved in the title.” I imagine I’ll feel the same way for the Academy Awards, although I think it’ll be a much more comfortable and less awkward experience than the Golden Globes. While the Oscars can get, and has gotten, political, my recent experience tells me that vibe is present a bit more at the Golden Globes. In fact, when it comes to the political jokes during the Oscars, I honestly found those to be funnier and more memorable. If you recall last year’s show, the host, Jimmy Kimmel said somethings not necessarily about Donald Trump but TO Donald Trump. What better way to say something to Trump than what might be his all-time favorite form of communication than tweeting. The tweets are located below, and believe me, they were the greatest tweets you will ever see. The only people who hate these tweets are Crooked Hillary, the Mexicans, and Alex Baldwin!

Nowadays, the world essentially has been riddled with jokes about Donald Trump, and out of all the ones we’ve gotten, this is one that is difficult to top. Although if we were gonna get any more Trump jokes this year, I can assure you they might have a little joke sibling that I’m thrilled to see.

If you watched the Academy Awards last year and stayed tuned towards the end of the show, where it was time to reveal the winner for Best Picture, you may remember how that went down. You may have been screaming at your TV hoping for your pick to win either because you support a certain movie, or you just want to win a bet against your stupid friend, I dunno. I was hoping “Arrival” would win, but in reality, that probably wasn’t going to happen. “La La Land” was my second choice however, having seen that movie and loving it. So Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway are onstage, and they have a card ready. A card that will change everything. So the nominees for Best Picture are presented, the two appear somewhat confused as they’re about to read the card, and suddenly, Dunaway announces “La La Land.” Once I heard that name, my prediction for Best Picture was right, and I thought it was a fair choice. The crowd is roaring, and as everyone affiliated with that project is arriving onstage, it hasn’t sunk in for everyone, but something happened. Jordan Horowitz is onstage and he shouts to everyone something that I can’t even believe I heard. “La La Land” DIDN’T win Best Picture, “Moonlight” did. This made me think I had to see “Moonlight,” and WHAT JUST HAPPENED?! Turns out someone was too busy on Twitter instead of trying to hand the correct card. This win made me tempted to see “Moonlight” nearly a couple weeks later, and I was unfortunately met with underwhelming results. It’s a good movie, but it’s not THAT GREAT.

Even so, you know how at the end of 2015, the Miss Universe pageant was held and Columbia was the assumed winner, and it turned out to be Philippines? It’s almost hard to tell which screw-up was crazier because the Miss Universe one was the host’s fault, not to mention upon personal review, THE CARD LOOKED F*CKING CRAZY! Here however, you have a screw-up between a staff member working for the show, Warren Beatty along with Faye Dunaway, and it affected not just one person, but an entire crew who worked on something together. Also, remember Jordan Horowitz? The guy who was onstage revealing the true Best Picture? Well, he was a producer for “La La Land,” so this must have been hard for him to do. He took it like a good sport, which I couldn’t even believe, which only makes me admire Horowitz even more!

So yeah, it appears the Beatty and Dunaway are presenting Best Picture again, so my first hope/prediction is that they get it right this time!

Speaking of nomination categories, let’s move onto some that I feel are worth tackling. Starting with… Best Supporting Actor. Here are the all-male nominees!

  • Woody Harrelson (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
  • Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
  • Christopher Plummer (All the Money in the World)
  • Willem DaFoe (The Florida Project)
  • Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water)

Out of these, I’ve only seen Harrelson’s performance and Rockwell’s performance from beginning to end. So of the ones I’ve seen, I’ll go with Harrelson. Of the ones I haven’t seen, I’m either thinking Willem DaFoe or Christopher Plummer will take the cake. I haven’t seen “The Florida Project,” and I don’t have too many good things to say about DaFoe other than hearing positive remarks about his performance. Although think about what the crew behind “All the Money in the World” had to do regarding Christopher Plummer. If you have been living under a rock when it comes to news about Kevin Spacey, let me just say you might be living a happier life than some other people who live in this world because Kevin Spacey, as this world now knows, is a sexual predator. Spacey was originally going to be featured in “All the Money in the World” as the character of J. Paul Getty. Now that Spacey has his dark secrets revealed, Plummer was going to take Spacey’s place, which meant a frenzy of reshoots. Keep in mind, Spacey’s case was revealed on October 29, 2017, LESS THAN TWO MONTHS before the release of the picture! How did he do in the film? I don’t know, I haven’t seen it, but with a story such as that, I think Plummer has some potential. Sure, part of it involved more than just acting, but acting plays a key component into all of this.

Next up is Best Supporting Actress. And the nominees are…

  • Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water)
  • Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird)
  • Allison Janey (I, Tonya)
  • Mary J. Blige (Mudbound)
  • Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread)

Of everyone listed, I’ve seen NONE OF THEIR PERFORMANCES. But if you want my guess, I gotta go with Laurie Metcalf. I’m hearing a lot of good things about “Lady Bird.” From the acting, to the writing, to the directing, everything. I didn’t see it on opening weekend because let’s face it, “Thor: Ragnarok” was gonna crush it. Part of what people seem to like about “Lady Bird” is the realism it seems to convey, and I imagine that Metcalf’s performance plays a part in that. In all honesty, I don’t see Blige winning because “Mudbound” was distributed by Netflix and I imagine it would have to be in a larger number of theaters for the Academy to accept it. But anything can happen. One actress I thought unbelievably snubbed for this category is Holly Hunter (The Big Sick). When I saw “The Big Sick” this year, I thought Holly Hunter might have been the best part of the movie, and she fit the role of a gritty white mother quite well. She was part of why I thought the movie was “top 10 list” worthy when I did my end of the year “top 10 BEST movies” list. Ah well, you can’t have everything.

Moving onto Best Actor, the nominees are…

  • Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name)
  • Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour)
  • Daniel Day-Lewis (Phantom Thread)
  • Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq.)
  • Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out)

Out of all of these, there are a few that stand out. A lot of people are rooting for Gary Oldman, so that gives him a chance. Daniel Day-Lewis, one of the most revered actors ever, is nominated for not only a role that people praised, but the last role he’ll ever do on screen, so maybe that and some respect for his chops will land him a win. Daniel Kaluuya was in one of the most talked about movies of the year, and he’s black, which gives him an extended probability of winning. I have not seen any of these films, but if there were one I think would win, it would be between these three. I personally wanted James Franco and Harrison Ford to make this list, but that didn’t happen now didn’t it. Sure, Franco’s allegations could have SOMETHING to do with it and I may be in the minority when it comes to Ford due to my love for “Blade Runner 2049.” Although if you haven’t seen “Blade Runner 2049,” I personally consider that Ford’s all-time best performance I’ve seen.

Onto Best Actress, let’s take a look at the nominees…

  • Margot Robbie (I, Tonya)
  • Meryl Streep (The Post)
  • Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
  • Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird)
  • Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water)

OK… Meryl Streep has been nominated again… Big surprise. I have nothing against Meryl Streep, but I’m just making a point that she’s basically been nominated countless times. I don’t think she’ll win though. As for Margot Robbie, I’m SLIGHTLY surprised she was nominated. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a great actress, but I don’t remember her performance being the ultimate highlight of “I, Tonya.” I didn’t see “I, Tonya,” but from what I heard, that’s what I’m gathering. I think this will be either another “Lady Bird” win with Saoirse Ronan, or a win for “Three Billboards” with Frances McDormand. I bought “Three Billboards” on 4K today and I ADORED McDormand’s performance. I thought it was rather jaw-dropping at times, she had the right mannerisms, and it just screamed art. Will she win? Hopefully. Make it happen!

Next, we have Best Original Screenplay. These are…

  • The Big Sick (Kumail Nanjiani, Emily V. Gordon)
  • The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor)
  • Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig)
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh)
  • Get Out (Jordan Peele)

As far as the fact that “The Big Sick” is on this list goes, I’m happy, but rather puzzled. Sure, this wasn’t based on a book, video game, comic book, anything like that, but it is based on true events. I mean, I guess it can belong there if “Spotlight” belonged in that category a couple years back. Even so, I hope it wins out of all of these. Maybe I’m overthinking on the nomination process, but even so, I figured I’d say what I wanted to say. Although I can imagine all of these have a good chance, but “The Shape of Water” is on the lower end of the spectrum. “The Shape of Water,” while people are praising it, is more of a gem according to people from a visual perspective. It is getting praise for its story, but the visuals are more of a standout. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” was rather haunting and intriguing at times. “Get Out” is actually rather relevant and it has been that way for months now. “Lady Bird” is once again, from what I imagine, realistic. All of these have a shot, it’s just a matter of votes. However one thing I’ll mention about “Get Out” that I’ve yet to mention, is that there’s apparently stories going around about older Academy voters not considering it “Not an Oscar movie.” I haven’t seen the movie, but I know a lot of people disagree. I actually saw a couple of funny tweets yesterday putting “Get Out” alongside “The Boss Baby,” which was nominated in the Best Animation category.

Speaking of screenplays, let’s move onto Best Adapted Screenplay.

  • Logan (Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green)
  • The Disaster Artist (Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber)
  • Call Me by Your Name (James Ivory)
  • Molly’s Game (Aaron Sorkin)
  • Mudbound (Dee Rees, Virgil Williams)

Alright, once again, “Mudbound’s” a Netflix movie, therefore reducing its chances and that’s all I’m gonna say about it. I did see “Molly’s Game.” I never read the book it’s based on, but the adaptation for it contained a fast-paced, jumping all over the place kind of feeling screenplay and I felt the movie was all the better for it. I also saw “The Disaster Artist,” another book I didn’t read, but it did get a terrific adaptation. In fact, it made my top 3 films of 2017! “Logan” could win as well, but as far as I know, the Academy probably doesn’t usually view comic book movies the way others do. If I had to choose one that I WANT to win, it’s “The Disaster Artist.” Will it win? I don’t know. But I hope it does, its screenplay MADE the movie. It’s one of the funniest screenplays of the decade!

Now we’re moving onto Best Cinematography and THIS, my friends, is gonna be a big one for me. Here are the nominees…

  • Blade Runner 2049 (Roger Deakins)
  • Dunkirk (Hoyte Van Hoytema)
  • The Shape of Water (Dan Laustsen)
  • Darkest Hour (Bruno Delbonnel)
  • Mudbound (Rachel Morrison)

Now before we get into what I’ll call “the big guns,” let’s talk about Rachel Morrison. She’s done cinematography for “Mudbound,” as suggested above. And part of me thinks she has a legitimate shot at winning. I know it’s a Netflix movie, I know what I mentioned about it, but there’s a reason she could win and it’s as simple as this. It’s because… she’s a she. This is the ninetieth Oscars show, and it’s the first one where a woman’s been nominated for Best Cinematography. Part of me thinks that some of the more progressive voters behind the Academy will go for her, not to mention it would make for a good story. I don’t think she’ll come out on top, but that’s because part of me’s stuck on three people, including her. One of the other people is “Dunkirk’s” Hoyte Van Hoytema. I went to see “Dunkirk” in IMAX 70mm, I bought it the day it came out on home video, I watched it twice on Blu-ray and twice on 4K. You can obviously tell I ate “Dunkirk” up like pizza. The cinematography was a highlight for me. This is because this movie was shot on IMAX film cameras and standard 70mm cameras. Not to mention, the way various shots on land, water, and air were presented. The dogfight sequences from the perspective of the camera was absolutely astounding for example! Watching this in IMAX 70mm made it even better because multiple sequences once again, were shot using IMAX technology. Although there’s one film I think is much more deserving of an Oscar in this category and that is, “the big guns,” otherwise known as, “Blade Runner 2049.” If you follow this blog, I’ve talked about “Blade Runner 2049” many many many times, so it should be evident by know that I clearly love it. Part of it has to do with the cinematography. I thought it was not only the best cinematography from a 2017 movie I’ve watched, but also some of the best I’ve seen in my entire life. The camerawork was done by a guy named Roger Deakins. If that name sounds familiar to you, I wouldn’t be extremely surprised. Deakins has done cinematography for films such as: “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Fargo,” “No Country For Old Men,” “True Grit,” “Skyfall,” “Prisoners,” “Sicario,” movies like those! He’s been nominated for an Oscar in the Best Cinematography category FOURTEEN TIMES. With this being some of my all time favorite cinematography, if Deakins loses, I’d be OK with Hoytema winning, but if anyone else wins, I’ll riot. You can say I either want Deakins to win for my fanaticism for “Blade Runner” or just his story when it comes to the Oscars, but I can also argue you haven’t seen “Blade Runner 2049.” By the way, WATCH IT!

Now let’s focus on Best Original Score, with nominees including…

  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi (John Williams)
  • Dunkirk (Hans Zimmer)
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Carter Burwell)
  • Phantom Thread (Jonny Greenwood)
  • The Shape of Water (Alexandre Desplat)

Out of all of these, I think the one that has the least chance of winning is “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge “Star Wars” fan, and there many people out there who either like “Star Wars” or its music. Personally speaking, and perhaps speaking for a lot of other people out there, “The Last Jedi” might be the worst “Star Wars” score of all time. It’s all subjective, but to me, it just felt repetitive and unoriginal. “Three Billboards” could have a chance, but you never know what could happen. Although I will say, if “Dunkirk” wins, I wouldn’t be too surprised. It’s my second favorite score of 2017 (below “Blade Runner 2049”), it suits the tone of a war film, and upon experience of watching “Dunkirk,” the way it is edited also plays a bit into it. So yeah, go “Dunkirk!”

As for Best Animated Feature, I’m not even gonna go into detail about it. Everyone knows it’s gonna be “Coco.”

Also, why would “The Boss Baby” be nominated instead of something like “The LEGO Batman Movie?” No, seriously, WHY?! Ah well, at least it’s not “The Emoji Movie.”

I will however expand the lack of detail when it comes to Best Production Design…

  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • The Shape of Water
  • Darkest Hour
  • Dunkirk

Out of all these, I think the first three I listed have the best shot of winning. Maybe “The Shape of Water” in third place, but critics are eating it up so you never know. You probably know I’d be choosing “Blade Runner 2049” right now. If the sets didn’t look great already at home, imagine them all in the theater! I actually watched the bonus features and these sets still astound me! They’re unbelievable!

Now let’s go onto Best Visual Effects, and the five of these I personally believe were all very well selected.

  • Kong: Skull Island
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • War for the Planet of the Apes

A lot of people have been talking about “War for the Planet of the Apes” when it comes to the visuals, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they won in this category. And funny enough, I’ve seen at least a small portion of all of these films except for that one! Honestly, I’m fine with any of these winning. If there’s a film I think WON’T win, it’ll be “Kong: Skull Island,” but it did deserve a nomination in my book.

As for Best Film Editing, let’s take a look at those nominees.

  • Baby Driver
  • Dunkirk
  • The Shape of Water
  • I, Tonya
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I’ve seen three of these films, and all them are ones I feel are competently edited. “Baby Driver” however, I believe will take the cake, and if it does take the cake, I’m cool with it. The way it edits its music and action sequences is superb and I feel that the “Fast & Furious” franchise, as much as I enjoy some of those movies, can take some notes from it in order to improve their films. “Dunkirk” comes close, but no cigar.

The next two categories have to do with sound: Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing. And believe it or not, the same exact movies were nominated in both categories, so let’s look at them.

  • Blade Runner 2049 (EDITING: Mark A. Mangini, Theo Green) (MIXING: Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill, Mac Ruth)
  • Dunkirk (EDITING: Richard King, Alex Gibson) (MIXING: Gregg Landaker, Gary Lizzo, Mark Weingarten)
  • Baby Driver (EDITING: Julian Slater) (MIXING: Tim Cavagin, Mary H. Ellis, Julian Slater)
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi (EDITING: Matthew Wood, Ren Klyce) (MIXING: Michael Semanick, David Parker, Stuart Wilson, Ren Klyce)
  • The Shape of Water (EDITING: Nathan Robitaille, Nelson Ferreira) (MIXING: Christian T. Cooke, Glen Gauthier, Brad Zoern)

Yes, I credited people here and not in other places, but I don’t care. As for both of these categories, I think the big three rivals are “Baby Driver,” “Dunkirk,” and “Blade Runner 2049.” The sound recordings fit each film, they were great to hear, and when you mesh em all together, you get something fantastic. I would personally be satisfied with any of those three films winning in either category. The same can be said for “The Last Jedi,” but it’s not quite there…

Next we have Best Makeup and Hairstyling, which if you’ve watched last year’s show, you may remember the possibly hilarious and somewhat controversial win for “Suicide Squad.” This year, no comic book movies have been nominated. However, three other movies have.

  • Wonder
  • Darkest Hour
  • Victoria & Abdul

I’ve seen one movie on the list this year, and I don’t think it’ll win (Wonder) and as for the winner, I’m just gonna guess based on what I’ve seen in images. So with that being said, I’ll go with “The Darkest Hour.”

Moving onto Best Production Design, the nominees are…

  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • Dunkirk
  • Darkest Hour
  • The Shape of Water

I already talked enough about “Blade Runner 2049” from a visual standpoint, so you probably know my answer there. I think the actual winner will be either “Beauty and the Beast” or “The Shape of Water” but only time will tell.

Now for Best Original Song, we have…

  • This is Me (The Greatest Showman)
  • Remember Me (Coco)
  • Mighty River (Mudbound)
  • Stand Up for Something (Marshall)
  • Mystery of Love (Call Me by Your Name)

This will probably a two-horse race between “Remember Me” and “This is Me.” I’ve seen neither of these films, but given their popularity and likability factor from what I heard, that could help in potentially getting a win.

Next up is Best Costume Design, which includes…

  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Victoria & Abdul
  • Phantom Thread
  • The Shape of Water
  • Darkest Hour

Out of all of these, I believe a few have a shot. “Darkest Hour,” “Victoria & Abdul,” and “Beauty and the Beast.” “Darkest Hour’s” costumes seem to fit the vibe of the film from what I’m looking at. The same can also be said for “Victoria & Abdul.” Although when it comes to “Beauty and the Beast,” that also has potential because it seems to have transferred its costumes over from its animated predecessor quite well, and as costumes, they look elegant. So we’ll have to wait and see.

Next up, we have Best Director, and there are some names that I think are worth discussing here.

  • Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk)
  • Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)
  • Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water)
  • Jordan Peele (Get Out)
  • Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread)

All of these have potential from what I can tell. These all come off as competently made movies, and the direction seemingly appears to play into all of them. Although the big three here to me are Nolan, Gerwig, and del Toro. I mean, del Toro, from what I heard, is getting a lot of attention right now. Critics are loving “The Shape of Water,” people are rooting for him, and you may also remember, he won a Golden Globe in this category for that movie. This could be another win for him. For Greta Gerwig, I’ll say once again, a couple of actors stand out in this film, and part of it may be due to Gerwig’s realistic take and overall direction for it. Not to mention, Gerwig’s a woman, which could not only make an interesting story, but also a lot of people happy. I’m personally rooting for Christopher Nolan. For those of you who don’t know, Nolan is my favorite director of all time. He’s done so many great films and the man overall may just be a genius when it comes to storytelling. When it comes to “Dunkirk,” his vision was experimental and it made the movie all the better for it. So will the Academy choose Nolan? I don’t think so, it’ll probably be del Toro, but we’ll find out!

And last but not least, we have the biggest category of all, Best Picture…

  • Dunkirk
  • The Shape of Water
  • Call Me by Your Name
  • Darkest Hour
  • Lady Bird
  • The Post
  • Get Out
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Phantom Thread

As for the ones that are probably not gonna win, I’m gonna say those are “Get Out” and “The Post.” Once again, I’ll bring up how older Academy voters aren’t viewing “Get Out” as an Oscar film. As for “The Post,” while it is getting lots of positive reception, it doesn’t have too many nominations overall compared to some of the other movies on that list. The ones that I feel have absolute potential of winning are: “Dunkirk,” “The Shape of Water,” “Lady Bird,” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Not only have these films come off as great films to viewers and critics alike, they have all received a high number of nominations compare to some other films you’ll see on here. If I had to choose one film that I want to see win it would probably be “Dunkirk.” It has potential due to a high number of nominations and I personally want it to win based on the replay value it has and how it’s presented from an experimental and technical standpoint. My winner for voter picks would be “The Shape of Water,” because let’s face it, people are talking about it. It was nominated for thirteen Oscars, and it already won Best Picture at the Critics Choice Awards. My runner-up for both the critic picks and personal picks would be “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” I really enjoyed watching the film. I thought it was well shot, terrifically acted, and well written. For the critics, you have to consider past experience regarding this film. This won a Golden Globe for Best Picture in the drama section, and it basically made a sweep at the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) awards. Could it win? I don’t know. It’s hard to say what will ultimately take the cake. We’ll have to see when the awards arrive!

If you are actually reading this before the Oscars begin, I actually kind of congratulate you because they actually start VERY SOON. If you’re reading after, I just hope you’re enjoying my somewhat irrelevant content. I don’t know if I’ll be summing up my final thoughts on the Oscars once the show ends, only time will tell. Besides, I’m already busy doing another review which I’ll talk about in a second, but until time allows me to make a final decision, we’ll just have to see where the road leads. Thanks for reading this post! Be sure to stay tuned for my review for “Annihilation.” I just saw the film earlier today, and I cannot wait to talk about it. I’ve already started the review before it came out, because I figured some topics having to do with the movie (that can be talked about without having seen it) are relevant and I wanted to spit those out. Stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, if there’s still time to type them em in, what are some of YOUR hopes and predictions for the 90th Academy Awards? Also, which is better? “La La Land” or “Moonlight?” Me personally, I’d choose “La La Land!” Leave that info down below and please make sure you’re not too busy sending out important tweets, otherwise I might possibly have some false comments on my hands, so be careful! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Also, one more thing…

GIVE ROGER DEAKINS HIS OSCAR ALREADY!

10 Movies That Have Changes You May or May Not Have Noticed *SPOILERS*

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! You might have clicked on this post thinking “Oh, crap! Clickbait! GO BACK! GO BACK! GO BACK!” First off, thank you for giving me one extra view, very much appreciated. Second, regardless of how clickbaity this sounds, I will say what you’re about to read is somewhat interesting. When movies come out, you might think of it in a certain way. You might go back and watch it the way you remembered. Although in some cases you might go back and watch it, and there’s something different about it. Today we’re going to be looking at some of these changes, see if you see the movie in a different view than you did before. One rule I’m making for this list is that no made-for-TV changes apply here. If a movie gets a change from its original release because it airs on TBS or something, it doesn’t count. So changes as the one from “Home Alone” where Buzzy doesn’t say “I wouldn’t let you sleep in my room if you were growing on my ass,” and instead says “butt,” doesn’t qualify. Just for the record, this is not a countdown, these aren’t in any specific order, and I’m not sticking to any sort of idea, stating how much I like or dislike these changes. I might go into that, but I’m not saying I like every single change or dislike every single change. So let’s dive into this.

Revenge of the Nerds: Phone Number

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The first change comes from the 1984 comedy “Revenge of the Nerds.” This is one of my personal favorite comedies. The sequels? Not so much. The movie has been released on VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, and Blu-ray. However, the sequels haven’t gotten past the DVD mark. This is a change that is seen on both the DVD and Blu-ray editions of the film. In 2003, the film was put out on DVD, but with a reedit brought to the mix. There’s a “For Rent” sign in the movie which had a genuine phone number on it. For legal reasons, the footage where the phone number was displayed was removed. Note, I didn’t say blurred, but removed. I have never seen the footage of where the phone number is revealed and as I write this, I’m looking at originaltrilogy.com, where a bunch of users are talking about this change and a couple of them called it “jarring.” I will have to watch the original cut in order to agree or disagree, but if you really want to make everyone happy, just blur the phone number. Also to everyone, please don’t call the phone number. Don’t be a dick.

All the Right Moves: Lea Thompson In the Nude

Remember how I said this isn’t a countdown? Well, I guess this may be an excuse to talk about movies I haven’t seen. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you “All the Right Moves,” starring Tom Cruise (Risky Business, The Outsiders) and Lea Thompson (Jaws 3-D, Back to the Future). Why am I talking about this? Well apparently I was in Connecticut and while I was there, I managed to pick up a bunch of Blu-rays to add to my collection. This movie happened to be one of them and I figured it would go great in my Tom Cruise collection. Due to random research, I came across something interesting. When “All the Right Moves” came out in 1983, there’s a sex scene featuring Tom Cruise and Lea Thompson which contains full frontal nudity, however when the Blu-ray released in 2012, the framing of Lea Thompson’s character in the nude was altered. This prevented people from seeing Lea nude below the waist. I don’t want to sound like a pervert, but I don’t know why that change had to be there. First off, the movie’s rated R. Second, if people who have watched this before are rewatching this today, they might be slightly jarred by what they’re seeing and the experience of that scene might be ruined for them. Not to mention, this is a Blu-ray cut! Not a cut made for television! On TV, I can sometimes understand some movies being altered for certain viewers for a number of reasons. But, on a Blu-ray?! What do I know really? I’ve yet to see the film so I can’t really say much.

2001: A Space Odyssey: “Affirmative, Dave” and Nineteen Minutes of Footage

It’s been almost fifty years since the release of “2001: A Space Odyssey.” In that span of time, the movie has been considered a classic by fans of science fiction and film from a general perspective. You know what they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This change, much like the “Revenge of the Nerds” change, didn’t really break the film or anything for some people. In fact you can say it broke the film less because if you think about this, it’s not really that jarring compared to the “Revenge of the Nerds” change. In 1998, MGM released “2001: A Space Odyssey” on DVD, with a slight change in the dialogue. During the scene when Dave is trying to get through the pod bay doors, he asks HAL “Do you read me, HAL?” In that particular release, HAL responds by saying “Affirmative, Dave.” Although in the original release, HAL says “Affirmative, Dave. I read you.” What makes this change extra wacky is that the English subtitles for the DVD released by MGM actually still displays the line from the original release. The full dialogue however was revived in future home video releases from Warner Brothers. Speaking of changes, when “2001: A Space Odyssey” was first released, it was slightly over two and a half hours long. The version which is seen on most home video releases is a version that’s just slightly shorter than two and a half hours. Stanley Kubrick, the director of the film, removed nineteen minutes of footage after the film premiered. It would be nice to see that footage restored for when “2001” comes out on 4K, I’d totally buy that!

Blade Runner: Endless Cuts (SPOILERS AHEAD)

“Blade Runner” is one of the best sci-fi films ever made. In fact, a sequel just released in October and it might be just as good, if not better, compared to the original. Followers over the years have been exposed to multiple editions of what director Ridley Scott regards as “probably his most personal and complete film.” Ridley might not be lying when he says that, and we’ll get to that in a second. “Blade Runner” has had seven different cuts of the film released to the public.

In 1982, the workprint prototype version was shown to test audiences in Denver and Dallas. This was also shown in 1990 and 1991 to audiences in San Francisco and Los Angeles as a “Director’s Cut.” Although it didn’t have the approval of Ridley Scott. We’ll get back to that in a sec.

There was also a San Diego sneak preview version shown to audiences only once in May 1982. This version included three scenes that was never shown in any other version of the film (before or after).

Then we have the version the US audiences saw in theaters. This included a “happy ending” that the studio wanted in the film. Fun fact by the way, there are aerial helicopter shots which weren’t even filmed for “Blade Runner.” These shots were actually from Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.” The movie also included narration by Harrison Ford, who played the lead character of Deckard. While some might say Ford either was angry about his task or he intentionally narrated poorly, he said it was simply bad narration. This was also referred to as the “Domestic Cut,” which wasn’t released on DVD until 2007 as part of a collector’s set of the film.

Then we have the International Cut. This cut is a minute longer than the US version, and included more violence in three action scenes than the US version. This cut was eventually released in the US on VHS and Criterion Collection laserdiscs. Interestingly, this version was shown to the US on HBO during the 1980s, the 1990s, and 2015.

In 1986, the US broadcast version was released. This was put together by CBS to meet TV broadcast requirements. There’s even narration that wasn’t in any other version of the film leading up to it, plus a different opening crawl. And yes, I said made-for-TV changes don’t count, but I’m just providing evidence to prove my point.

Next came the Director’s Cut, which was created technically by film preservationist, Michael Arick. This cut was discovered as a 70mm print which nobody had an idea that it actually was the movie’s workprint version. This was discovered after a screening of the film in Los Angeles. Ridley Scott said the cut was roughly edited, lacked a key scene, and the climax missed Vangelis’s score. The Director’s Cut was very popular that it rereleased theatrically in 1992. This cut also brought up a very popular fan theory if you will to the table. At one point in the film, we cut to a clip of a moving unicorn. The original idea for this scene was to cut between Deckard and the Unicorn, but the condition of the print associated with this was not presentable, so it just shows the unicorn trotting. This scene along with a clip of Deckard holding an origami unicorn, may suggest he is a Replicant. Speaking of things this film removed, the movie no longer has the narration from Deckard along with the happy ending the studio wanted. Despite being called the “Director’s Cut,” Scott wasn’t satisfied. To be fair, he was busy with “Thelma and Louise,” time and money happened to be a problem, however this cut brought more satisfaction in general to Scott than the original. There’s one cut although, that brought even more satisfaction to Scott…

Here’s where we get to “The Final Cut.” This is the cut where Ridley Scott had complete artistic control. Remember the unicorn dream? Turns out in this version, the original dream was included. You know, the one where it cuts between Deckard and the unicorn. Other additions include alternate edits and violence featured in the international cut. It turns out there were parts of this version that went through reshoots to fit in this version. One such example is Zhora’s death scene. Fun fact, if it weren’t for Warner Brothers gaining total control over distribution rights in 2006, this would have probably never been released. This project started once the 21st century began, and in mid-2001, legal and financial troubles put the project to a halt.

Porky’s: Cherry Forever’s Extra Nudity

“Porky’s” is an interesting movie to say the least. When it comes to its reception, critics weren’t exactly pleased, but it did gain a cult following and there are still people who go back and watch it today. As far as 1980s coming of age stories go, this isn’t my goto pick. However, back in the 80s, this was a hit among many people who flock to the cinema. The film was #1 at the box office for nine consecutive weekends, suggesting that either a lot of people either wanted to see it, liked it and went multiple times, or happened to be really horny. The film eventually released on VHS and something appeared in that which never appeared in the theatrical release, or the future DVD release. Based on how the release was open matte, more nudity was revealed in the VHS version. This happened during the Cherry Forever scene. The additional nudity was a result of the transfer, and was never intended to be shown. You know, unlike my secret identity–whoops! That was close! I almost told you guys I’m the guy who saved the Golden Gate Bridge from absolute destruction. Oh, crap! I did it! I’m a failure! I was told by a wizard to keep that a secret! Oh, well! Sucks to be me!

xXx: Head-butt

One interesting move executed in battle is a headbutt. There’s something about it, you’re literally using your head to bounce off someone else as a fighting technique. Plus, the term itself is awesome. One movie where a headbutt is shown is 2002’s “xXx,” starring Vin Diesel. This movie isn’t exactly the next “Citizen Kane” or anything, however it is a fun action flick with some interesting lines in the lines in the script. Going back to headbutts, when this movie was released in several territories, audiences were exposed to a moment where a headbutt occurs. One territory where audiences didn’t get to see this however, was in the UK. Similar to the US’s MPAA, the UK operates under a rating system referred to as the BBFC. The BBFC has a rating labeled as 12A/12, which was the rating “xXx” was given. If the headbutt was kept in, the rating wouldn’t have been secured and would have bumped up to 15. This is how the film was presented for years. The headbutt wasn’t even in the eventually released Director’s Cut DVD. Although on January 5th, 2017, the film was rereleased on Blu-ray in honor of the film’s 15th anniversary. It was at this point that the BBFC waived the cuts to the film, and the headbutt was then inserted. The BBFC must have had this slogan for years:

BBFC: We’re buttheads!

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: Paramount Logo

I love “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” It’s a coming of age story that a lot of people in high school can relate to. In fact, you can also include anyone going to school in general, not to mention anyone who’s working a s*itty job can relate to. Sure, “Office Space” kind of does the same thing, but this came first. This change doesn’t even affect much of the movie, it just has to do with the logo. This movie is from Paramount, and if you know who they are, there’s a good chance you’ve seen one of their logos. Some time after the movie was in theaters, it came out on VHS. However, the VHS versions contain a plastered Paramount logo depending on the year the print released. The original logo although was restored on all future DVD and Blu-ray releases.

American Graffiti: Digital Effect

Ah, George Lucas. What have you done? You took a bunch of people’s childhoods, which were epic because of your “Star Wars” movies, and you threw them in the garbage! Because if you haven’t noticed, the original “Star Wars” trilogy has made a crapton of changes over the years! Well ya know what?! I’m not gonna focus on that! Because I already did a countdown focusing on those changes, and apparently George Lucas made a change to “American Graffiti” as well! This change didn’t exactly offend me as much. Then again I only saw this movie once. The change is shown in the 1998 Collector’s Edition DVD and VHS, and once you hear what it is without any specification, it almost sounds like something George Lucas would do. Lucas requested for the opening scene which features Mel’s Drive-In to have a sunset with clouds. The original opening had a cloudy sky with buildings in the background. In this opening, the buildings are still there, but the weather is different. Interestingly, there was also a documentary on the making of “American Graffiti” included as a bonus feature on the DVD, and the original shot was inserted there. Time travel much?

Kindergarten Cop: Little Terrorists

I imagine some people getting a sense of surprise from “Kindergarten Cop.” The film itself is a comedy where a cop goes undercover as a kindergarten teacher in order to locate the ex-wife of a dangerous criminal. This movie released in 1990 and stars Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s kind of interesting to put the Terminator as the star of a comedy, but stranger things have happened. Although I wouldn’t say it’s all too strange because another comedy, “Twins,” released two years before this one, and while not all critics and audiences appreciated the film, there were a number of them to say it was worth a watch. Interestingly, both comedies were directed by Ivan Reitman, who also directed “Ghostbusters” 1 and 2. And the movie does have some witty Schwarzenegger lines and also has some funny lines given by a bunch of kids as well. Speaking of lines, let’s talk about one of them. As mentioned, this movie released in 1990, which is eleven years before 9-11. Once that day occurred, it inspired the removal of one particular line in all future versions of the film. After Schwarzenegger’s first day with the kindergartners, he has this to say about them.

JOHN KIMBLE: They’re horrible. They’re like little terrorists.

I’d just like to state that if I were in kindergarten watching this film, it would probably be debatable on whether or not I should be watching it given it has a PG-13 rating. However I don’t know if this one incident means this line should be deleted. I don’t know if Reitman decided on this or if Universal did or anyone else for that matter, but you don’t really need to get rid of it. Sure, in reality, kindergartners aren’t commonly associated with terrorists, although that would make for an interesting cartoon or something, but I don’t see how this would offend anyone. I mean, it’s probably better than changing the line, but the elimination felt unneeded. Let’s face it. Kindergartners are crazy, and I know that because I was one. I wouldn’t blame someone comparing me with a terrorist at that age because I was a chaotic brat. Anyways, let’s move on.

Jaws: Smile, You son of a… (SPOILERS AHEAD)

“Jaws” is considered by many to be one of the greatest films of all time. It has a terrific script, admirable characters, and an awesome score from John Williams, who went on to do “Star Wars,” “Superman,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “E.T,” “Home Alone,” “Jurassic Park,” “Schindler’s List,” “Saving Private Ryan,” and “Harry Potter.” If you’ve seen the ending, you’d probably know how it ends. Part of that ending involves the character of Brody. He’s in a duel against the shark and he’s got a gun. He’s in full concentration mode, trying to take the creature down. In honor of the movie’s 30th anniversary, a DVD was released in order to celebrate. This brought a very minor change in one line, in fact, it’s actually one of the lines of the movie that I remember most. In versions prior to this release, before Brody shoots his gun to kill the shark, he says “Smile, you little son of a bitch.” Here, he says “Smile, you little son of a…” and then his gun is shot. Like the original, all the blood and gore remains, but the word “bitch” is removed. I’m glad I’m not Jesse Pinkman from “Breaking Bad,” because finding this out would be the worst day of my life. I can now say that my memory suggests that all the versions of “Jaws” I’ve seen in my life at this point, have this specific “bitch” removed. I want to know how this feels for everyone who has either seen the original version and possibly been exposed to alternate editions of the film. How does this “bitch” removal come off to you? Does it take away from the scene? Does it not take anything away at all? Does it anger you? I really want to know. I can’t say much about this change, but if they ever alter “You’re gonna need a bigger boat,” there will be riots.

Thanks for reading this post, there’s a good chance I just possibly either ruined a scene for you, so if I did, I apologize. If so, don’t blame me, blame the people who changed them! Nevertheless, the year’s almost over, the holiday season is coming to its conclusion, but that also means I will have two countdowns coming up. Like at the end of 2016, I’m counting down my top 10 BEST and WORST movies of the year. I’ve seen a number of films that came out this year. Most of those films are ones I reviewed, and there are others I’ve watched but couldn’t make a review of for the sake of time such as “The Great Wall,” “American Assassin,” and “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.” Believe it or not I will still be going to see more movies as the year comes to a close, because I have aspirations to go see “Downsizing,” “Father Figures,” “The Disaster Artist,” and if any other opportunities come up to see a movie released this year, I’ll take those as well. Stay tuned for more great content! Also, what is the worst alteration you’ve ever seen in a movie? For me, I gotta say Darth Vader screaming “no” at the end of “Return of the Jedi.” Leave your responses down below! And yes, can also includes ones from TV. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Blade Runner 2049 (2017): Is the 35 Years Worth the Wait?

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“Blade Runner 2049” is directed by Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Arrival), stars Ryan Gosling (La La Land, Crazy Stupid Love) and Harrison Ford (Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark), and is the sequel to 1982’s “Blade Runner” which was directed by Ridley Scott (Gladiator, The Martian), a movie considered by many people to be one of the greatest sci-fi films, if not one of the greatest films, ever made. “Blade Runner 2049” takes place in the year of 2049 in the US state of California, the plot is that there’s a young blade runner (Ryan Gosling) who discovers a long-kept secret which leads him into tracking down former blade runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), who’s been out of sight for three decades.

When it comes to the original “Blade Runner,” it’s a movie I haven’t actually watched until fairly recently. For the record, when I say that, I’ll have you know I didn’t even watch the original version of the film, which by the way the version I watched which isn’t original, is the one I viewed five times at this point. I say that because if you know this movie’s history, you’d be aware of how it has received endless cuts. In 1982, they started out with a movie that not many people saw but was on the rise to prove its influence to film. I mean, seriously! If you look at films and material which came out after it, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. Just check out “Ghost in the Shell,” “The Matrix,” the “Star Wars” prequels, “The Fifth Element,” all of these just look at them and don’t tell me you don’t see a bit of “Blade Runner” in them. The redo of the TV series “Battlestar Galactica,” according to the producers, cited “Blade Runner” was a major source of influence to the series. It has also been parodied in material such as the British science fiction TV show “Red Dwarf.” Based on what I have told you, it’s not surprising that people revere this movie. Overtime it has gained a cult following, and has been considered one of the greatest science fiction films, not to mention one of the greatest films in general, ever made. It was nominated for two Oscars (Best Effects, Visual Effects, Best Art Decoration-Set Decoration), it was also nominated for a Golden Globe (Best Original Score-Motion Picture), which I wholeheartedly approve of because the score is probably one of my favorites in movie history. BAFTA also praised the score by nominating it, which was one of the eight nominations the movie received in that particular show. By the way, it won three. It currently has a spot on the IMDb top 250, it’s on AFI’s 10 Top 10 as the #6 science fiction film, and IGN put it as the #1 spot in its “Top 25 Sci-Fi Films of All Time.” I watched the film multiple times now, specifically “The Final Cut,” and it gets better with multiple watches. So, how is “Blade Runner 2049?” Holy crap, this movie was an experience. I went to see this movie in IMAX, and I don’t regret it, because this is one of those films that MUST be seen in a theater! You know how I kept talking about “Dunkirk” and what an amazing experience that was? This was just as great! And with that I’m gonna give you guys a little sidenote…

I don’t use Netflix, in fact, I’d go as far as to say that Netflix is slightly overrated. I may be biased because they killed Blockbuster Video, a significant memory from my childhood, but I’m gonna let you know a little information about them that you may or may not be aware of at the moment. Netflix may be known for its selection of movies and TV programs to watch which are available at your fingertips, but they’ve also done original content. They’ve done TV shows such as “House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black,” and “Stranger Things,” all of which received positive reviews and a following by many people. That’s not to say all Netflix shows were considered watchable, there are disliked ones such as “Iron Fist” despite it having a following. They’ve also done movies such as “Gerald’s Game,” “The Ridiculous Six,” and “Beasts of No Nation.” What I’m going to say next is rather unnecessary for their TV shows, but can fit for their movies. When it comes to Netflix movies, they go straight to the streaming service. There’s no theatrical release for it, it just hops straight on over to the service, so people might get a theatrical experience depending on their setup, but chances are someone might end up watching the movie on their laptop without headphones, or heck, even their phone! Critically acclaimed director Christopher Nolan agrees with me when say that this is bullcrap, because Netflix is missing out on a opportunity for their movies to be shown in theaters, where audiences pay money to go see it in an immersive setting. Want to know something else? There’s an event called Cinemacon, which is a convention dedicated to film, it shows off what upcoming movies have in store, it also does screenings for flicks, stars show up, and it also has has a focus on cinemas themselves and technologies related to them. When “Blade Runner 2049” footage was being presented to attendees at the show, Sony chairman Tom Rothman said this…

“Netflix, my ass.”

Well said, Tom. For the record, Netflix has never presented at Cinemacon, so that shows what they stand for in the realm of cinema. At least Amazon releases content in theaters!

If this movie were released on Netflix, I would have been outraged, partially because I don’t use the service, but having seen this movie, this movie looked and sounded SPECTACULAR! Yeah, that was a long point, but I felt it had to be made. This movie was directed by Denis Villenevue, who also directed “Arrival,” one of my favorite movies from last year. I think he’s a great director, and his vision for this movie was brilliant. Every single frame had something worth appreciating. I can only imagine the detail that went into storyboarding this thing! Although, I can’t exactly say that he’s only in this fest of praise, because I gotta give kudos to Roger Deakins, the cinematographer of the film. For the record, this isn’t the first time Deakins and Villenevue worked together. They’ve also collaborated in “Sicario” and “Prisoners.” I haven’t seen those films, but I will say that Deakins is a fine cinematographer, just watch “No Country for Old Men” to see what I mean.

The original “Blade Runner” came out in 1982, and when it comes to movies with great lighting, as of right now, it’s probably the first movie that comes to my mind. The lighting in “Blade Runner 2049” personally isn’t as great as the original, but that doesn’t mean the lighting’s bad. However, from an overall perspective, much like its three decade old predecessor, “Blade Runner 2049” has terrific effects. Every single effect in the movie felt realistic. Sure, there are moments of the movie containing visuals that probably would be impractical (the giant sex doll with blue hair for example), but in all reality, even those felt like they actually existed for the universe this movie was presenting.

Speaking of things that aren’t as good as the original, I gotta say the music isn’t as great. Once again, this doesn’t mean the music was bad, the music was almost as brilliant as the 1982 film. But the thing about the 1982 film, is that it was unique. The music by the way in that film was done by Vangelis, who also did the score for “Chariots of Fire.” Also, Vangelis did not return for this movie, and yes, he’s still alive. The guy doing the score this time around is one of my favorite composers. I’ve brought him up in a number of posts this year, Hans Zimmer. Like the original score, it’s techno, and at times you do hear booms, which is pretty much the first thing you hear in the original movie when the titles show up. By the way, those booms sound amazing in IMAX. Also, this score at times felt a little more traditional than the original “Blade Runner.” The “Blade Runner” score is something you’d rarely hear, and while this newer film does have qualities of the older score, the new doesn’t have the absolute uniqueness of the old. I say that because I remember the original having moments that almost sounded like chimes, it was different. You could also hear vocalizing in the score, and I mentioned how much of an influence this had on “Ghost in the Shell” and I wouldn’t be surprised if the original movie’s score was partially influential. The vocalizing, the more I think about it, reminds me of “Ghost of the Shell’s” intro music. “Blade Runner 2049” was just released, so only time will tell how much the music, plus the rest of the movie will influence future products. Nevertheless, “Blade Runner 2049” had a GREAT score and I’d love to listen to it again and again.

Let’s talk about one of the leads in the film, specifically Ryan Gosling. This fellow has proven to be an excellent actor. By the way, there’s a couple scenes in this movie where Ryan Gosling is in front of a piano, and that’s not the only film where Gosling is in front of a piano, just watch “La La Land” to see what I mean. Gosling plays K and he’s basically this movie’s young Blade Runner. He’s given a mission at the beginning of the film, and seeing his character progress throughout the picture was entertaining and very moving. At times, Gosling’s acting chops were unleashed to full potential, which happened to be prominent during the movie’s emotional scenes which I won’t get into to avoid spoiler territory. K also had some qualities which were noticeable that could be compared to Harrison Ford’s character of Rick Deckard, who we’ll get to momentarily. K starts off in the movie as being directed by Lieutenant Joshi, a character played by Robin Wright, who in terms of looks and attitude, almost reminds me of your typical Charlize Theron role such as the ones she’s done in “A Million Ways to Die in the West” and “Hancock.” Anyway, seeing Gosling focus on his objectives was fascinating and despite this movie, like the original, appearing to be a slow burr, my eyes were never taken off the screen. Yes, this applies to more than Ryan Gosling in all technicality, but I’m just making a point. There’s also a spouse Ryan Gosling has, by that I mean a futuristic spouse, and by THAT I mean a spouse that is basically holographic, oh yeah, and she can change form. I can’t even get into the mission Ryan Gosling does in the film because I have a feeling this is something the trailers are hiding. I’ve seen all the main trailers, but it’s been awhile since I’ve seen one in particular, and I’m not sure if the hidden details are there, but for the sake of keeping some information a secret to possibly have some folks savor the movie’s flavor, I’m going to ignore uttering these details.

Now let’s talk about Harrison Ford. If you remember the original “Blade Runner,” Harrison Ford played Rick Deckard, the main character of the film. He was hunting down replicants just because he had a job to do. Speaking of the original film, we do get some callbacks. As mentioned recently, the music can qualify as a callback, but we do get some audio from the first film. During the film I heard Harrison Ford’s voice as it was in 1982, and I remember hearing Sean Young’s voice too. The origami unicorn makes a return here, which has brought up an interesting theory of whether Deckard’s actually a human or a replicant. By the way, I’d say he’s human. Also, I may have said that Ryan Gosling did a great job, but in all reality, Harrison Ford probably did better. By the way, out of all the performances I’ve seen Ford do, this might be his best one. Also, Deckard’s introduction is definitely one of the best scenes in the entire flick. You may have gotten a glimpse at it in the trailers, but there is more to it then what was there. I won’t go into detail though.

As much as I praise this movie, it’s not perfect. For example, some characters didn’t stand out as much as others, and speaking of characters, there’s one character who goes by the name of Mariette. She’s not unlikable, but she didn’t really add much of anything to the movie in terms of story except for maybe one part where she and K’s holographic wife are shown to have no clothes on. Also, this isn’t really a complaint but it’s mainly something I noticed, Jared Leto is barely in this movie. In fact I think he may have spent less time here than “Suicide Squad,” although I liked Leto better here than “Suicide Squad.” I may be nitpicking, and from experience, this is probably one of those movies I have to watch more than once to fully appreciate, so maybe I’m just imagining things. Other than what I mentioned, this movie’s pretty much a masterpiece, which is saying something considering what many people say about 1982’s “Blade Runner.”

Now I just mentioned this could take multiple watches to fully appreciate. And I’ll have you know I watched the original “Blade Runner” four times from start to finish since early September. I also saw it not long ago and I fell asleep to it, but to be fair, it was late. This is one of those movies, like the original “Blade Runner” that I’m probably gonna watch over and over.

In the end, “Blade Runner 2049” is a movie that defines how sequels should be made. This to me is 2017’s “Tron: Legacy,” by that I mean you’ve got this film which came out a long time ago, in fact the original “Blade Runner” actually came out the same year as the original “Tron.” The film now has a sequel, years in the making, and people enjoy it. Granted “Blade Runner 2049” has gotten more positive reception, but it doesn’t mean people didn’t appreciate “Tron: Legacy.” I love the film from a technical perspective, this movie and “Dunkirk,” so far, have been my two favorite cinematic experiences of 2017. Hans Zimmer created a great score, the screenplay hit every necessary emotion, the direction and cinematography are stellar, I’m glad to see Harrison Ford return as Rick, Ryan Gosling was great as well. Overall, this movie did what it needed to do. I’m gonna give “Blade Runner 2049” a 9/10. If you saw “Blade Runner” thinking that this movie could never be recreated, chances are you’ve just been proven wrong. This is a sequel worth remembering, and as far as sequels go, this is probably the best one I’ve seen so far this year. I can’t wait to buy this movie when it comes to home video, I want to see it again, possibly pick up on some details I missed, we’ll see what happens. Thanks for reading this review! As far as upcoming reviews go, I hope to see “Stronger” starring Jake Gyllenhaal, which is about a guy who manages to survive the Boston Marathon bombing, and I also am planning on reviewing “Thor” and “Thor: The Dark World” in preparation for “Thor: Ragnarok.” Stay tuned for those reviews, and more reviews! Also, if you’re into “Blade Runner,” you might be interested in checking out my post dedicated to things “Blade Runner” got right about the future. Here’s a question, which “Blade Runner” was better? The first one or the second one? Also, one more question, what is a movie that gets better the more you watch it? Let me know down below in the comments! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

WHAT “BLADE RUNNER” GOT RIGHT ABOUT THE FUTURE: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2017/10/06/what-blade-runner-got-right-about-the-future/

What Blade Runner Got Right About the Future

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Just about a month ago, I watched “Blade Runner” for the first time ever. For the record, no, I didn’t intend on doing so because the new one was coming out, however I would have done that anyway. By the way, the main reason I watched it is because it was part of a class curriculum in my school. Anyway, that movie takes place in 2019, which is two years away, and if you read the title of this post, you’d probably already know I’m going to be talking about what “Blade Runner” got right about the future. You’re probably thinking, why you doing this in 2017 and not 2019? I figured it would be appropriate to do it now since there’s gonna be a new “Blade Runner” installment coming out this weekend called “Blade Runner 2049” and I had no review planned for the original. If you’re asking, yes, I do want to see it, but I’m not sure when I will. However, I’ve watched the movie multiple times now, specifically “The Final Cut.” As mentioned, I watched it in school, but I later picked up the 4K Blu-Ray edition even though I don’t have a 4K Blu-Ray player. Throughout watching the movie I picked up on a number of things: The endless inspiration it had on material which arrived after it, the visually pleasing world and effects, and also, considering we are two years away from this movie’s setting, how much it got right about the future, along with how much it could get right in the meantime.

A lot of people are saying that it’ll probably be a bit longer before flying cars become a reality. While they certainly aren’t seen on the streets all that much, it doesn’t mean they haven’t been partially realized. There’s a company called Terrafugia who has made this happen. According to the Wikipedia page labeled “Flying car (aircraft),” Terrafugia announced the first autonomous flying vehicle on May 7, 2013. Now, these babies have not come to market yet and development is going to likely take 8-12 years. So this means these cars might come to market somewhere between 2021-2025. By the way, the name of this vehicle is the TF-X and there is a page on Terrafugia’s website about it. If you’re interested in checking it out, click the link down below! Also something interesting I just found out, their headquarters, located in Woburn, Massachusetts, is actually a couple towns away from where I live! So that means I’m currently a couple towns away from possibly future history in the making!

https://www.terrafugia.com/tf-x/

In “Blade Runner,” you’re seeing Replicants, artificial creatures, and scanners to confirm one’s identity, so it’s not really much of a surprise that another thing they’ve gotten right is the rise of technology. Sure, this can apply to flying cars, but I feel that deserves its own topic. This is something that a movie thought of before the release of “The Terminator.” Not only does technology control our everyday lives, but it comes off as superior to humanity in various ways. For example, with the rise of chess computers in the 1980s, they’ve beaten some of the world’s best chess players. Also, stores are now commonly using self-checkout, heck! People aren’t even going to stores anymore! Just look at what Amazon’s doing right now! It’s not just stores that are doing this, McDonald’s put self-checkout in its locations in 2016. By the way, they already had a number of these, this was the time when it was put to absolute use. They did this because the employees at McDonald’s wanted a $15 minimum wage. By the way, f*ck McDonald’s. I’ve been on the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority) to ride trains into Boston and they barely even announce anything manually anymore! In fact, they’re soon replacing their Orange Line trains with newer models, some of their last trains that only allow manual announcements. Not to mention on the topic of computers, not just ones that can play chess and win, we’ve even had IBM Waston, a computer that can play “Jeopardy!” and take victory against two of its winningest contestants, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter! I wouldn’t be surprised to go to restaurants in the future and instead of seeing waiters or waitresses, I just see robots coming to you and taking orders! Who knows really, only time will tell.

I want you to take a moment to observe this shot, what do you notice? If you’re thinking that’s Harrison Ford holding a gun, you’re right, but that’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about in this shot, is the rain. 2017 has been a hard year in terms of natural disasters, specifically hurricanes. This year we’ve seen hurricanes such as Harvey, Maria, and Irma. This is more rain than usual in any sense of the word. I won’t get into climate change or global warming because the movie didn’t really suggest any of that specifically, but the rain may have suggested all the pollution we’re getting. Who knows what it could be from? Maybe all the flying cars aren’t as efficient as those on the ground. If you watch the movie, look very carefully, because you’ll be able to see it’s raining a good portion of the runtime. In movies, it usually rains during certain situations such as a dramatic fight scene like in “The Matrix Revolutions” or to move the story along like in “Bee Movie.” The rain is much more common here than those films.

Much like flying cars, this isn’t really something that’s technically happened, but it is potential to happen soon, which is people living off of Earth. In the movie, they talk about off-world colonization, suggesting that people started living their lives on planets that aren’t Earth. Right now in the real world, people are actually getting ready to colonize Mars. There’s actually a couple of missions that are planned in future decades from SpaceX and Mars One. SpaceX wants to see colonization begin in 2022 and Mars One wants to see it begin in 2032. Not only are organizations planning to colonize it, but people are just planning to just travel to and fro. This is something that both the US and Russian governments are planning in the 2030s.

If you think I missed something that “Blade Runner” got right about the future, please let me know about it. I actually almost put sex robots on here, but the furthest we’ve gotten with them as far as I know happens to be prototypes plus I don’t even know if I fully trust the sources I’m getting this info from. For those of you wondering what I’m talking about, just watch the character of Pris in this movie. If you want to talk about something different related to “Blade Runner,” well then what are your thoughts on the movie? Are you excited for the sequel? I’m personally excited if you ask me, I will hopefully have my review of “Blade Runner 2049” very soon. Also, in terms of upcoming reviews that AREN’T “Blade Runner 2049” I do want to see “Stronger,” and I might also have interest in another film coming out this weekend, “The Mountain Between Us,” starring Idris Elba and Kate Winslet as two people who crash a plane on a mountain and go on a journey together. Stay tuned for more great content! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!