Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2022): Full of Exciting Video Game-Like Action, and Minimal Video Game-Like Story

“Sonic the Hedgehog 2” is directed by Jeff Fowler, who also directed the 2020 “Sonic the Hedgehog” film. This film stars Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation, BoJack Horseman), James Marsden (Westworld, Hop), Tika Sumpter (Ride Along, The Old Man and the Gun), Natasha Rothwell (The White Lotus, Insecure), Adam Pally (Dirty Grandpa, Iron Man 3), Shemar Moore (S.W.A.T., Criminal Minds), Colleen O’Shaughnessey (Danny Phantom, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes), Lee Majdoub (The 100, Supernatural), Idris Elba (The Suicide Squad, Pacific Rim), and Jim Carrey (Batman Forever, The Mask). This film follows Sonic, who as of the last movie has trapped Doctor Robotnik in a world filled with nothing except mushrooms. However, Robotnik escapes from “The Mushroom Planet” and attempts to possess the Master Emerald, which would allow him to control the world at his will. Now, it is up to Sonic, and his new sidekick Tails to defend civilization and stop Robotnik, who has joined forces with Knuckles the Echidna, from changing reality for the worse.

There was a saying not too long ago that “video game movies suck,” and I can attest to that. A couple of my least favorite films ever, “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” and “Super Mario Bros.” are based on video games. They are poorly written, poorly acted, and poorly executed. But I must say that the first “Sonic the Hedgehog” maintains the throne for the best video game movie ever made, not that this is a high mountain to climb, but still, I liked the movie. When I wrote my review a couple of years ago, one of my immediate thoughts was, “I want a sequel,” because the movie ends in such a way that is satisfying, but also leaves enough open to make you want more. I frankly did not expect that with the first “Sonic,” but if that first movie were not good, I probably would not have been as excited for this movie as I was before I went in.

Part of me wonders if we would even have this movie if it were not for people on the Internet, perhaps justifiably, expressing their rage over the design of Sonic, because before the first movie came out, and before Paramount went back and spent money on redesigning the character, he did look butt ugly for an adaptation, but I also was conflicted as to whether they were going for a grittier, grounded story. Turns out they were not, the movie almost felt like a Saturday morning cartoon, but that is also why in the end, I am glad they went back to redesigning it. And as a result, I think we found a look that not just matches the first movie, but also its sequel, which also maintains this Saturday morning cartoon vibe from start to finish.

The heart of the first movie for me was the unexpected bond between Sonic and Tom Wachowski, which given cinematic history with movies like 2011’s “The Smurfs,” could have gone completely sideways. By the end of the movie, the two felt like genuine pals, and that is hard to do with a human and CGI hedgehog, so credit where it is due. In this movie, that is kind of replaced, because Tails ends up being Sonic’s sidekick for most of the picture. In fact, the formula the two seem to have together feels almost reminiscent of the first movie, even to the point where the film excuses itself to blast a once popular top 40 song that may have been slightly overplayed. Not Crush 40, no no no. Top 40. “Live and Learn” is not in the movie, sorry for spoiling in advance for those who really did not want to know.

While Tails serves his part in the movie, the movie also finds a reason to implement Tom Wachowski into the mix, but this allows for a completely separate subplot to commence… (sigh) …The goddamn wedding.

I think “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” can easily be watched at any age. I think if you are five, you’re fine. And if you’re ninety, you’re nifty. But let’s be real, some could argue that “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” is made for children to enjoy. This is not a bad thing, I do not mind children’s content, but I also prefer that children receive content that does not insult their intelligence. The first movie, while not quite as mature as what we have gotten from Pixar over the years, has a certain flair to it that makes you feel like a kid again. This sequel is consistent in that way. But one consistency that does not exist from one film to the next is the pacing. The first film is extremely tight in its 99 minute story, but this film is 23 minutes longer, and therefore, it suffers from an obnoxious and almost unnecessary subplot at a wedding. Granted, one story is means to an end where it lines up with another, but the journey to get from one place to another in the wedding was probably the most boring segment of the film. And I will add, the one moment where everything lines up makes absolutely no sense. Going back to what I said, I do not mind children’s content, but I want it to treat its audience as if they were smart. This does not. You know your “moment” is bad when you have the characters spinning their heads and then one person realizes that “the Olive Garden guy” from the first movie is here to spew out another advertisement for the company.

By the way, Olive Garden kinda sucks. I said it.

The first movie, while definitely not my favorite of the year, was fairly palatable because of a narrative that is as quick as its titular hedgehog. This movie relies way too much on over the top gags that feel tired by the end. That is not to say the movie does not have its occasional laugh, but let’s just say that the writing for Dr. Robotnik, who is marvelously portrayed by Jim Carrey, is not as much of a highlight as it was in the predecessor.

Now I do want to be clear, I liked Dr. Robotnik in this film, but the first film gave us a perfect blend of Jim Carrey’s zaniness mashed together with some of the best screenwriting I have witnessed for a villain in a children’s film. Robotnik is written similarly to how he is presented in the original film, but the original film takes the cake for perhaps a larger collection of memorable lines and moments. NOTHING beats the scene where Sonic sneaks up to Tom and Robotnik, exclaims to Robotnik not to hurt Tom, and Robotnik emits the most obnoxious, cartoon-like scream I have heard in a long time. I cannot remember a single line in this sequel that was “awful,” but I also cannot recall one line in the film that was on the level of the original. Not offensive, but also not as good.

In fact, I would like to go back to the compliment I gave this film about it making you feel like a kid again. I think that is a compliment I can give to certain comic book movies that have come out in recent years. Those films, while definitely mature, make me feel young, and I always love to maintain a youthful spirit. And there were moments during my theater experience where instead of a bunch of manchildren, including myself, admired everything on screen and uttered sounds of excitement, actual children got to be similarly wowed during key moments that trigger such immediate reactions. This is why THE CINEMA is the way to watch a movie. It’s a community.

Let me just remind you, the week before I saw “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” I saw “Morbius” in a theater that wasn’t quite full, but had a decent crowd. No one uttered a sound for the entire runtime. There were points during “Sonic 2” where people gasped, they cheered, they clapped. This is one reason why I love going to the movies. I stand by the rule where no one should be talking during the movie, but I also think some experiences can qualify for a rock concert vibe. If you are excited, why not embrace it? The movie is certainly one that could get you excited by the end of it.

Now much like Robotnik, I would have to say that Sonic is once again, fabulously portrayed by Ben Schwartz, but the problem I have with this film when it comes to Sonic is that despite his personality being on point, especially when lining things up with the first movie, Sonic’s jokes, kind of like in the first film, come off as fairly cheap pop cultural references or forced quips. Those jokes could work, but they kind of fall flat here. Now, I will 100% contend with Sonic’s sentiments from the first movie about Keanu Reeves being a national treasure, but I think when it comes to referencing the pop cultural mojo, I think he needs to calm down just a tad. Although Ben Schwartz is a perfect interpretation for Sonic and his over the top pitch sells the character for me. I think the lesson this character has to face in this film is one of its saving graces, because even though this movie has quite a few notable flaws from the wedding scene to the disposable humor, I think if you are going to watch this movie at a certain age, I think it would be a positive influence. In a world where we have tons of movies with violence and explosions, it is nice to see one that occasionally gives slight objections to those ideas despite them being in it.

This film introduces a couple new CGI characters into the mix, Miles “Tails” Power and Knuckles. One of my big complaints about movies that have voiceover characters nowadays like the upcoming “Super Mario Bros.” movie for example is that they tend to rely on big names to get people in the theater. Granted, I like Chris Pratt, I dig Charlie Day, and I adore Anya Taylor-Joy, so we’ll see what happens there. But I am glad that this movie tended to give an opportunity to not just an actual pro voice actor to voice Tails, but give that opportunity to a voice actor who has literally voiced the character in other creations. Colleen O’Shaughnessy is a delight in this film. But at the same time, this film is the best of both worlds, because they also allowed Idris Elba to voice Knuckles the Echidna, which I thought was a great choice. He’s a terrific actor, his voice is iconic, and it matches the grit such a character can promise. Elba’s interpretation of Knuckles allowed him to arguably become the most hysterical character of the entire film. Basically he has the personality of a fantasy narrator and a fantasy protagonist rolled into one person. It’s perfect. Unlike Sonic, Knuckles appears to have less of a hang of things when it comes to knowing about the rituals of mankind. Each joke related to his developing knowledge or lack of knowledge on the subject matter hits hard every time. I won’t spoil anything, but the moment you hear “Dot, dot, dot…” You’re in for a treat.

But if I had to be honest, this movie is not as solid as the original. Sure, it has fan service that lovers of the games will appreciate, the effects and sound are utterly amazing, and it is definitely one of the less offensive video game movies to exist compared to some others. But the first movie had a foundation that felt properly structured and put into place. It was a building that was functional and served its purpose. This movie took that same building and added way too many more floors to it. The wedding gag was utterly atrocious and ultimately sullies what could have been a fantastic movie. And if I were a kid watching “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” I probably would be saying the same thing. I liked the action, I liked the dynamic between Eggman and Knuckles, but the wedding scene made me want to break up with this film. I will also say that some of the supporting characters from the first film like Wade and Rachel make an appearance here, and they feel wasted by the end. They don’t do much to make their appearances feel worthwhile.

Also, can we talk about something? I want to remind you of the fact that Sonic, a hedgehog, not a human, but a HEDGEHOG. I know it speaks English, but still. This HEDGEHOG has technically been adopted as the Wachowski family’s son? I mean, literally, the movie makes references to Sonic calling Tom “dad.” It’s really weird! Look, I know they developed a relationship, but… That’s kinda freaky. I KNOW it’s a movie… But it is somewhat unsettling! It’s an odd taste in the mouth!

In the end, “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” was fun when I saw it, and the positives do outweigh the negatives, but the more I think about the film, the less I like it. The first “Sonic the Hedgehog” felt like that next step for video game movies, maybe we’ll be getting some great ones soon. Unfortunately, this sequel cannot acquire the same luster as that first one. The voice-work is great, the effects are top-notch, and the sound is unbelievable. But if I learned something about video games it is that not everyone cares about the story, they care more about how the game looks, how it plays. The movie looks incredible, and had they gone with that original Sonic introduced in spring 2019, I do not think that would have been the case. But the story in “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” feels like it is not as important as it was in its predecessor, and that is despite having a great lesson intertwined. I feel like children can learn something from this movie. But as an adult, I don’t know when I will be watching this movie again. I’ll probably go back to the original at some point, but this will probably have to wait. I’m going to give “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” a 6/10.

“Sonic the Hedgehog 2” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for the brand new DreamWorks Animation flick, “The Bad Guys!” Also coming soon, stay tuned for my review of “The Northman!” In addition, I am seeing “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” next week, so I will have a review coming for that movie too! Stay tuned! If you want to see more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Sonic the Hedgehog 2?” What did you think about it? Or, which movie did you like better? “Sonic the Hedgehog” or “Sonic the Hedgehog 2?” Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Suicide Squad (2021): The Best DC Movie Ever

“The Suicide Squad” is written and directed by James Gunn (Slither, Guardians of the Galaxy) and stars Idris Elba (Thor, Pacific Rim), Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), John Cena (Blockers, Wipeout), Joel Kinnaman (Robocop, For All Mankind), Sylvester Stallone (Rocky, Over the Top), Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder, Fences), Jai Courtney (Jack Reacher, Divergent), Peter Capaldi (Paddington, Doctor Who), Daniela Melchior (The Black Book, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), and David Dastmalchian (MacGyver, Ant-Man). This film is a sequel, well kind of, to 2016’s “Suicide Squad” and is the latest film set in the Detective Comics Extended Universe. The film is about a bunch of vigilantes, some of whom we’ve seen before like Harley Quinn and Rick Flag, in addition to newbies like Peacemaker and King Shark who are put on a mission to destroy all traces of Project Starfish.

When I saw “Suicide Squad” five years ago at the theater, I enjoyed it. Safe to say, my opinion quickly changed as soon as the home video release period came up because I got the movie as a Christmas gift, I popped it in, specifically the extended edition, and found myself displeased with what was in front of me. Harley Quinn was great, but the way they handled certain plot points and some of the editing was not up to my standards. Looking back, it looked like an effective ad campaign for Hot Topic without even mentioning the brand’s name once. Therefore, I was a tad weary going into “The Suicide Squad,” because prior to “Wonder Woman 1984” which came out last December, “Suicide Squad” has long stood as my least favorite DCEU film. So it has an offputting stain of displeasure. But there were also a few attractive factors brought to table that made me feel the need to see this film as soon as possible.

First, the film is rated R. While we have gotten some comic book movies over the past few years with said rating, including “Birds of Prey” which is also set in the DCEU, this did intrigue me as the previous “Suicide Squad” was PG-13 and I was curious to know how this film could be taken in a darker direction. Plus, if the “Deadpool” movies have proven anything, it’s that there is some REAL fun to be had with R rated comic book films.

Second, James Gunn. In case it matters, this guy is responsible for my senior quote in high school. This is a true story by the way, for my senior quote, I did some searching and came across one in particular from James Gunn’s IMDb page that stood out to me.

“I have a very strong imagination and have since I was a little kid. That is where a lot of my world comes from. It’s like I’m off somewhere else. And I can have a problem in life because of that, because I’m always off in some other world thinking about something else. It’s constant.” -James Gunn

I chose this quote because of how much I relate to it. I too consider myself to be imaginative, and in addition to that, I cannot say how much this ties to Gunn himself, but I have ADHD, therefore I am constantly wandering off from my own reality to somewhere else in my head. Here’s the thing, I graduated high school in 2018. That same summer, Gunn was fired by Disney due to old, offensive tweets being resurfaced. Gotta say, on the topic of my choice of senior quote, AWK-WAAAARRD. Keep in mind, Gunn notes that he is not the same man he was when he was younger. He has matured, he has evolved. But for those of you who know the story, he eventually was hired by Warner Bros. and DC. Of all the projects that Gunn could have chosen for DC, he ended up doing what we now know as “The Suicide Squad.” I have heard a number of stories on this film’s production. But one of the things that I have heard, at least on James Gunn’s part, is that the studio basically gave Gunn complete freedom to make whatever the hell he wanted.

Also, I’m not gonna lie, I really liked the trailers for this film. John Cena looked like he was gonna be a riot. Margot Robbie, per usual has a fine balance of mystery and humor within her Harley Quinn persona, and right off the bat, this actually did feel like a James Gunn film with the songs they chose for each trailer. In the end, this was easily my most anticipated film of the summer. And I thought that BEFORE the film had a 100% Rotten Tomatoes score for a period of time. But the past has proven that hype can kill a film. It’s happened to me with “Midsommar,” and in the case of James Gunn, I’ll even add that this happened with “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” which was my #2 most anticipated film of 2017, but I do not remember it fondly. I had a freight train of thoughts going into this film. What are my thoughts leaving the film?

It’s the best DC film ever.

Not just DCEU, I mean DC period. Like… Better than “The Dark Knight.” Better than “Wonder Woman.” Better than “V For Vendetta.” THIS FILM SLAPS!

Ladies and gentlemen, THIS is what happens when you let a director make their movie! James Gunn is outright unhinged with this film. He’s the sole writer and director, and he has pretty much made every decision possible regarding the product. Not once did I feel like I was watching something that was done by a studio head at Warner Brothers. I think it is hilarious how in just less than a month, we get “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” arguably the most corporate, commercialized film Warner Bros. has put out to date, and then we get this masterpiece from James Gunn. Unbelievable!

When 2016’s “Suicide Squad” came out, I said that it felt very much like another version of “Guardians of the Galaxy.” After all, you have all these criminals coming together for the same purpose, but despite them being bad, they join forces to save the world. Plus both films sort of relied on rock heavy soundtracks, which looking back, “Guardians” did A LOT better than “Suicide Squad.” “Suicide Squad” felt as if it was trying to copy the success of “Guardians of the Galaxy” but the former attempted to in a way that was inferior to the latter. I am glad to note that we got the ACTUAL director of that “latter” to come in and make something great out of a franchise that provided one of the worst comic book films of the last five years. And much like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” part of the success is achieved from taking lesser known, or less appreciated comic book characters and putting them into scenarios that can turn them into gold. In MCU speak, I bet a lot of people knew who The Incredible Hulk was before his movie came out. Same can be said for Thor. The same cannot be said for the Guardians of the Galaxy. In the DCEU, we’ve already had a movie with the Suicide Squad, but unlike Guardians of the Galaxy, it changes out a lot of the main characters in the first film like Deadshot and Killer Croc and replaces them with other characters in the second film. Yes, Harley Quinn is back. But I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts that most people watching this movie amongst the general audience would care to know who Polka Dot Man is in the comics. I’ve heard of Polka Dot Man before, he made an appearance in “The LEGO Batman Movie.” But I cannot say I was all that familiar with his history as a character.

I never thought I’d say this. “The Suicide Squad” made me care about a superbeing who spews… POLKA DOTS! I mean, WHAT?! Who ever thought this could be possible? Again, this goes to show the master class of James Gunn. He got me to care about a talking tree in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” When you can get me to care about a costumed man who throws magical polka dots at people, he’s not just a good director, he’s a flat out genius. Seriously! You wanna know how much I cared about Polka Dot Man? I literally picked up his Funko Pop the day after my screening! I love this guy! They gave him the social awkwardness of a geek combined with the hyper mania fuel of a kid who just discovered Red Bull. I do not want to give much away about this movie, but by the end of “The Suicide Squad,” there is a visual that references a tactic Polka Dot Man often follows, and it may be one of the single funniest shots I have seen in a movie in years.

Speaking of characters, let’s talk about Harley Quinn. Right now I am personally having trouble deciding whether I prefer the Margot Robbie Harley Quinn or the Kaley Cuoco Harley Quinn in terms of their personality, but one thing I cannot deny is that Margot Robbie has aced her role in “The Suicide Squad,” providing her most insane portrayal of the character yet. I’ve always admired this iteration of Harley Quinn since 2016’s “Suicide Squad.” I always thought that she could take any scene she’s in and automatically become the star of the show. But the thing that I think makes Harley Quinn better in this movie compared to her last two outings is that Robbie channeled Harley’s inner madness to her full potential. There is a scene in the second act where she just spews tons of dialogue towards someone in particular, filling in all sorts of potential blanks. Quinn has gone from being a hilarious scene stealer to the psychotic lovable moron that she is now.

I also love King Shark. For a lot of people who turn on this movie, I think this portrayal of King Shark is going to be their first introduction to the character. I personally have been watching him through DC’s “Harley Quinn” show, so this is not my first rodeo with him. I like King Shark in “Harley Quinn,” but I LOOOOOVE him in “The Suicide Squad.” Basically, King Shark in this film is a funnier, raunchier version of Lennie from “Of Mice and Men,” a simple minded, CGI, walking, talking, briefs-wearing shark who will tear you to shreds if you so much as even get close to screwing around with him. At the same time though, James Gunn managed to write this character in such a way that effectively personifies him and makes him relatable. We see throughout the film that yes, he is a man-eating shark that can walk on land for some reason, but he has a rather subversively cute motivation that is nicely explored from start to finish. Also, Sylvester Stallone, you are a god. James Gunn picked you for a reason and you knocked this out of the park.

I also want to talk about John Cena as Peacemaker. I think out of all the characters in the movie, he was the one who I think Gunn did the best job at fleshing out in terms of complexity. Having seen Peacemaker’s costume in the marketing, I was a tad skeptical. Would Cena be too goofy? Would I take him seriously? Not gonna lie, as goofy as the costume looks, it really pops and I was able to take Cena seriously in the film. I sometimes talk about “Blockers” and how much I like that movie. Although one fair critique of that film is that John Cena, as funny and likable as he is, does not have the best range as an actor. I like him in the movie, but I think that is a fair critique. Here, I think James Gunn and John Cena are a perfect match for each other. I mean, look back at “Guardians of the Galaxy” and look at Dave Bautista. Sure, he gave a good performance in the film. It does not mean he’s the best actor. I feel like Bautista and Cena are the muscle of their movies. Their performances in their individual movies differ in ways, but that’s who their well-built characters are at their core. During the film, Cena delivered a lot of funny one liners, including some of the more memorable ones.

“It’s not a toilet seat, it’s a beacon of freedom!”

However, by the end of the film, without going into spoilers, there’s a moment where I could tell that John Cena has some legit acting skills. I felt the exact emotions his character was going through. What emotions exactly? I cannot say. But if you watch this film, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

I will also note for all the parents who want to take their kiddies to the brand new superhero movie that some call “The Suicide Squad,” you may want to think twice, because your kids have probably seen flashy violence in movies like “Batman v. Superman,” painful moments in movies like “Avengers: Infinity War,” but I could only wonder what would prepare your kids for the ultra-gorey and visceral madness that “The Suicide Squad” has to offer. This film is not just violent, it goes over the top in more ways than one. Let me just put it this way. The first act had me laughing and slapping my knees at all the crazy violence going on. That’s the result of a great movie. But the REAL craziness doesn’t even stop there. There’s some real s*it that happens towards the end of the film that no PG-13 film could get away with. It’s basically “Mortal Kombat” in the DC universe!

In fact, one of my critiques for “Birds of Prey,” the DCEU’s first R-rated outing, is that the film, while serviceable, NOT GREAT, but serviceable, has an R-rating attached to it, but I feel like by the end of the film, it does not do much to satisfy its R-rating. “The Suicide Squad” is so mature that it might as well tear the audience to shreds when presented in 3D! So immersive!

Did I mention the soundtrack? Oh yeah, this movie has a good soundtrack! It’s probably just as good as John Murphy’s score! Seriously, by the end, there was a song that gave me goosebumps that I was not expecting from a movie like this! James Gunn chose some songs that not only fit the scenes they were in, but I even think I like this one better than “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” Granted, I still think the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” has a better soundtrack than “The Suicide Squad,” but my point stands. The music in this film may as well have been put together by a mastermind!

Supporting the notion that no movie is perfect, let’s talk about one thing that I could consider to be wrong in “The Suicide Squad,” and by wrong, I do not mean that in a huge way, it’s just a slight nitpick. I am not going to get into full details, as this would involve spoilers, but there is a shot in the movie that if you really know how shots and visual effects mix together, it would make *spoiler* feel a bit more predictable. That’s the one nitpick I can come up with aside from one more thing, and again, this is not something that is a turnoff, it’s just something that is noticeable and needs to be addressed.

In 2016’s “Suicide Squad,” which stars Will Smith as Deadshot, that character was a tall, rather hunky dude who wants to reunite with his kid. In 2021’s “The Suicide Squad,” which stars Idris Elba as Bloodsport, that character was a tall, rather hunky dude who wants to reunite with his kid. I know Will Smith was not in this movie for a reason, but still, it’s interesting how they barely changed certain traits about the main character. I mean if it ain’t broke don’t fi– Actually, I take that back, the 2016 “Suicide Squad” was pretty broke to begin with.

There’s not really anything else I can think of that turned me off in this film. Every joke landed. Every kill was satisfying. Every character was likable, and by the end of the film, I feel like everyone earned their destiny. James Gunn has a pure talent for making a film completely action packed and bonkers but also leaving enough room to have heart and soul in it. I started watching “The Suicide Squad” grinning ear to ear and laughing my ass off like a maniac, but by the end of it, I was simply in awe and I felt for all the characters. “Suicide Squad” from five years ago had me walking out saying I want to see more of Harley Quinn. “The Suicide Squad” had me walking out saying I want to see more of not just Harley Quinn, but King Shark, Ratcatcher, Peacemaker, EVEN POLKA DOT MAN… among other characters!

In the end, “The Suicide Squad,” I don’t want to sell it short. It’s the best freaking movie Warner Bros. has put out with a DC logo on it. Simply put, Marvel and Disney firing James Gunn is probably the best thing that ever happened to DC. And as a result, it may be one of the best things to happen in James Gunn’s career as “The Suicide Squad” has now become one of my favorite comic book movies of all time. Guys, I urge you to check this movie out. It is the literal definition of bonkers. It is something so violent, so funny, and yet so heartwarming. I almost wonder if we’ll get another DCEU movie like this again. I am looking forward to what’s coming up in the DCEU between “The Flash,” “Aquaman 2,” and “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods.” But they are following in the footsteps of something completely unique and mind-boggling that I almost wonder what it’s gonna take to top it. James Gunn, you have made a masterpiece, and I am glad to know that my senior quote that I mentioned earlier has been redeemed! I’m going to give “The Suicide Squad” a 10/10!

“The Suicide Squad” is now playing in theaters everywhere, including IMAX, and you can also watch it for free on top of your subscription on HBO Max until early September.

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that at the moment I am currently trying to review all four “Revenge of the Nerds” movies in a brand new review series titled “Revenge of the Nerds: Nerds in Review.” This Monday, August 16th, I will be sharing my thoughts on “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise.” Stay tuned for that as we celebrate Scene Before’s fifth anniversary! Also, I want to remind you all that this weekend, “Free Guy” hits the big screen, but I will probably waiting until sometime next week, maybe even next weekend, perhaps later, to share my thoughts on it. Life’s been crazy and busy, it is what it is. But, I will see it, I will review it, I am looking forward to it. If you want to see all this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Suicide Squad?” What did you think about it? Or, what do you prefer? 2016’s “Suicide Squad?” Or 2021’s “The Suicide Squad?” My answer is pretty obvious, but I’ll let you share your thoughts down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Cats (2019): Kitty Litter

EVERYBODY:
Go see “Richard Jewell!” Clint Eastwood has done it again!
Check out “1917!” It’s heart-stopping!
Watch “The Irishman” on Netflix! It’s worth the three and a half hour runtime! It’s REAL cinema!
Hey! “Queen & Slim” is getting positive reviews!
GO SEE “STAR WARS!”
“Bombshell’s” the movie we need right now!
“Frozen II” is a great Disney sequel!
“The Two Popes!” Check it out!
Hey Jack, have you seen Amazon’s “The Aeronauts?”
“MARRRRRRIAGE STOOOOOORRRRRY!”

ME:
Hey guys, I’m going to review “Cats!”

*Beat*

…Awkward. No matter what happens, this will unite us all. It’s time to review the NON-“Star Wars” movie coming out this weekend, because this is what I was able to see early on this week. Let’s get this s*itshow overwith.

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“Cats” is directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, The Danish Girl) and stars James Corden (The Late Late Show with James Corden, The Emoji Movie), Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love, Philomena), Jason Derulo (Everybody Dance Now, Drop the Mic), Idris Elba (Pacific Rim, Thor), Jennifer Hudson (The Voice, Dreamgirls), Ian McKellan (Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Good Liar), Taylor Swift (The Lorax, The Giver), Rebel Wilson (Jojo Rabbit, Pitch Perfect), and Francesca Hayward. The plot of “Cats,” if there is one in this damn thing, is that a bunch of cats that look and walk like humans compete against each other to be the one to earn another life… That’s the best way I can describe this movie without cringing. Because holy s*it. THIS IS PUTRID.

Going into “Cats” on Tuesday night, I had two screenings to choose from. “Cats” being one of them, obviously. The other one happened to be “Bombshell,” which I said to you all that I would review. Well, expect a delay on that, when I finally got my RSVP for “Cats,” I could not pass it up, and by that I mean I wanted to wait to see “Bombshell” with somebody else, because as far as I know, there is probably not one person that would want to see “Cats” with me. Did I have any plans to watch “Cats” originally? Absolutely not. In fact, if you follow the Scene Before Facebook page, and if you aren’t following it, CLICK THIS LINK and give it a like! Anyway, if you have kept track of recent happenings there, you may have noticed this recent post…

Well guess what? I ended up dragging myself on the underfunded transportation system in the Boston, Massachusetts area, put my ass in a cinema seat, and here we are. But let me just say, I did not go into “Cats” blind. I went in having seen bunches of the marketing, including the main trailers, which honestly just creeps me out the more I think about it! I had little to no real anticipation of this movie, even though I was expecting some decent numbers and neat visuals at times. Did I get those in the end? Kind of. The visuals were nifty, but the numbers are honestly forgettable. I have never seen any other related “Cats” material, not the play, nor any other adaptation. So this movie ultimately took my “Cats” virginity. As someone who has had their first “Cats” experience of any kind, I cannot imagine myself returning to this franchise in the near future. This movie BROKE me to no end. It’s honestly up there with some of the most anger-inducing content I have seen all year. In fact, I am honestly kind of glad I went to see the movie as early as I did. I love the moviegoing experience, and going to see a movie early, depending on the film is honestly kind of thrilling. I was in a theater containing some people who were enthusiastic. One person had cat ears on, some were Taylor Swift fans, and I think the best part about this movie is that the occasional reactions from people that were given with a hint of sarcasm. There was this one moment around the first act where this guy just belted out a snarky laugh and a bunch of us played along because I think a surprising number of attendees thought this movie was going to suck balls and we had almost no expectations for it. Maybe we collectively thought this movie was cheesy or a waste of time. Who knows? The point is, if I went to see this movie in perhaps January during a dead afternoon, it probably wouldn’t be as fun or lively. The only thing I probably would have felt at that time is pure anger. Being in the environment of a free screening before a movie opens definitely helps.

BUT IT DOES NOT TAKE AWAY FROM THE CRAP I SUFFERED THROUGH!

I have been noticing something about our current moviegoing audience. We seem to enjoy two things nowadays. Granted, that’s an understatement, we seem to enjoy lots of things in reality, but the two of the commonalities I’m seeing from the general moviegoing audience is spectacle and nostalgia. There’s definitely an argument to make about “Cats” being one of the more nostalgic movies of the year. It’s based on a hit musical from the late 20th century, which was inspired by poetry from T.S. Eliot. I think a lot of older audiences will gravitate towards this film, plus younger theater admirers. And I will point out one thing that I think could have ended up being a positive about this film, specifically the prettiness that’s intact. From the marketing, there have been a lot of shots that looked nice, the neon signage everywhere kind of adds a nice touch, the film is visually appealing on the surface. And throughout, at times, I dug it for its visuals. That’s probably the biggest compliment I can give.

Earlier this year, I reviewed “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” which is one of the worst blockbusters I have witnessed in recent memory, especially when considering how FANTASTIC the trailers were leading up to its release. To this day, the only compliments I can give the film are some of the shot choices and the appealing visual effects. That’s it. “Cats” is kind of like that. Granted, I did not like the “Cats” trailers, but you probably get my point. However, the good news is, and it honestly PAINS me in the ass to say this… I’d rather watch “Cats” again. As a movie, it is technically competent. Not to mention, competently… BOOOOORRRRRRRING!

This movie technically has a plot, but when it’s presented on screen, it’s an utter mess! It’s a nice looking mess, but a mess nevertheless! I guess we’ll call it a hot mess! The movie undoubtedly is trying to rely on the spectacle provided from each number. I didn’t expect this movie to lack singing, but the singing in this movie is ENDLESS. OH MY FREAKING LORD! A good portion of the numbers are… borderline OK? I guess? But I don’t feel like I will end up remembering them. The only numbers that truly stood out to me was the one where Taylor Swift’s character was introduced, most likely because there were a few people in the crowd who were ecstatic over seeing her on screen and one heavily revolving around Laurie Davidson’s character of Mr. Mistoffelees, which I won’t go into. Again, I went into the movie not knowing much about “Cats,” so I’m gonna be somewhat vague with the material.

I am not even in the mood to go into the characters, because for one thing, there are a lot of them. It’s overwhelming. I am willing to bet that if there were fewer characters, this movie could be a tad more interesting. I will say though, even though “Cats” itself is somewhat visually attrractive, it is simultaneously off-putting. I don’t know about you guys, but I didn’t ask for a movie where Ian McKellan plays a live-action, human-like cat that is licking a plate. It’s something so unimportant, yet so horrifying. Much like the numbers, there is perhaps not even a single character that ended up standing out. Many of the characters feel like they have little to no layers, and the only thing that could end up being memorable is all of the “digital fur technology” that went into this pile of crap they call a movie.

I do not seek out musicals that often. I don’t usually watch all that many films that are heavy on musical numbers, but if I had to compare “Cats” to any other film, I’d say one of the closest examples I can give is Michael Bay’s “Transformers.” For the record, they are COMPLETELY different on almost every single level in terms of plot, genre, and character motivations. But one of the biggest compliments I can give to “Transformers” is the visuals. The effects are nothing short of amazing. I think even people who don’t like the newer “Transformers” movies can probably agree that the visual effects are nice to look at. Now, I personally enjoyed the first “Transformers.” It’s a fine action movie if you ask me, but I know the franchise is not always the most pleasing to everyone. The story is basic, repetitive from one film to the next, and some would say it almost doesn’t even matter when there are tons of explosions and American flags everywhere.

This movie doesn’t really shy away from comedy. I mean, what do you expect when there’s a seemingly sarcastic laugh during my screening? Only thing is, the comedy just doesn’t work. In fact, the jokes I remember are random cat puns. They might have been the only jokes in the movie, and they sully the experience entirely.

Why did I go see “Cats?” Well, I wanted to wait to see “Bombshell” for one thing, but I thought this would be a fun film to review. It’s one of those one of a kind, crazy experiences that I will end up remembering, but not for the right reasons. Personally, I don’t ever see myself watching “Cats” again, and I had no plans to get a cat in the near future, but this movie has officially eliminated any possibility of me wanting a cat, because if I am ever presented with an opportunity to get a cat, part of me would not stop thinking of this piece of trash. And in other news, Taylor Swift is in this movie, that picture above is of her. And SPOILER, the movie DOES NOT go into how many cats she broke up with.

In fact, let me specify about my experience of watching this film. This was a film that felt embarrassing to say the least. It’s well-crafted, but embarrassing nonetheless. Whenever I go see a film, I usually order myself a popcorn and soda to keep myself up. I didn’t do that this time. I don’t know, I guess I wasn’t in the mood for it. Maybe it’s because I was busy talking to a friend I ran into, but that’s not the point. The overall experience of seeing “Cats” feels like a dream. Because I became increasingly sleepy, increasingly bored, and the movie itself became more irrelevant than the door close button on modern elevators! There is a part of me that wanted to laugh, but it felt really hard, because at the same time, what I really wanted to do was leave. This movie overstays its welcome, even giving itself an opportunity to hammer in one final number that is so bad that it’s good. And when those stinking credits FINALLY came on screen, I let out a bellowing “THANK GAAAWWSH!” Because again, the movie broke me to shreds. You know how I said I didn’t get any popcorn or soda for this movie? Upon the leaving the film I had one thought in mind. I need popcorn, because I felt like I dredged through this movie in the same way that Bart Simpson would dredge through homework. I felt like part of my well-being has been erased. This was a well-earned treat for myself. By the way, the popcorn was f*cking satisfying. It made my cat nips go hard.

In the end, “Cats” is perhaps the most competent borefest of the year, and that really says something because… “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” was a thing. And that’s the absolute worst thing about “Cats.” It looks charming, it looks presentable, it looks nifty. Some of the camerawork is nice. But between some of the questionable editing, lame-ass script, and nearly nonexistent plot, this movie made me angrier than that kid from “Looper” whenever something goes wrong for him. I would rather poke my own eyes out with my own two hands than go see this movie again. The ensemble has a lot of big names including Idris Elba, Ian McKellan, and James Corden, but not even that could save the movie. In a way, the more I think about it, it almost makes the movie worse. Remember that movie, “The Circle” that came out a couple years ago? It’s like that. It had a list of respectable actors including Emma Watson, John Boyega, Bill Paxton, TOM FREAKING HANKS! To know that these people took on this film specifically, makes my brain leak a little bit. Again, visually appealing, but it’s not enough. I’m going to give “Cats” a 2/10. Part of me wants to give this movie a 3/10, I really do. But now that I’ve had a little bit of time to marinate, this is up there with some of the most frustrating, not to mention forgettable, movies I have EVER seen during my time on this blog. Did the crowd reactions add something? Kind of. But not entirely. To me this was just a waste of time. The only ways that this movie could end up as a 1 is if it didn’t look pretty, if the acting was the worst I’ve ever seen, or it weren’t for a couple of halfway decent moments. Nevertheless, this was an insufferable experience, and I know “Star Wars” is not getting the best reviews right now, but this is actually making me excited for “Star Wars.” I think the only way I could have ended up enjoying “Cats” is if I was perhaps very young and this was one of the first movies I have watched. Maybe one of the first in the theater. Because as long as there are cats doing things on screen, why should I care about anything else? How am I still alive? I don’t know! It’s amazing! Even so, I’m done talking about this garbage, let’s move on!

Thanks for reading this review! Stay tuned guys, because I am going to have my review up for the next film that will inevitably make a billion dollars, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” I’m going to my local IMAX theater on opening Thursday, I cannot wait! How will the film turn out? I do not know for sure, but I am endlessly curious, so let’s do this! May the force be with us! Be sure to follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account if you want greater access to the blog, and be sure to stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Cats?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite movie that is cat-related? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018): This Year’s Independence Day: Resurgence?

*SPONSORSHIP ALERT* (although nobody’s payin’ me)

Before we dive into my review for “Pacific Rim: Uprising,” let me just take a moment to ask you, how ya doin’? How’s life? What’s going on? If it were around this time frame in 2016 and you asked what a couple named Genevieve and Paul what’s going on, one of them might respond saying, “A ton of s*it.” That’s because at the time, they were trying wicked hard to make a kid, but the overall task of doing so was an absolute nightmare. All of this is truthfully documented in their new web series, “What the IVF?!”

“What the IVF?” is about Genevieve and Paul’s journey to having a baby, where they discover that having a child is not all fun and games, it’s work! Not because of the child, but because they can’t make the child! Watch the couple as their life gets serious and begins to change dramatically as they face several challenges! Sex becomes less than sexy! Math apparently is now useful in real life! Trips to visit doctors are now more nerve-racking than ever! And needles are nothing but ungrateful sons of bitches! Then again, when were they not? Those pinches are killers! You can watch all of the content posted on the “WTIVF?” YouTube channel simply by going through the links down below and clicking on the one to the YouTube page. And speaking of YouTube videos, “WTIVF?” has an episode posted earlier this week! I won’t go into too much detail, but Genevieve refers to it as her favorite episode so far and as the video that highlights the moment that probably most dramatically changed her life. Be sure to watch the video listed above if interested, subscribe to the YouTube channel, hit the notification bell, that way you can get the latest “WTIVF” content before your friends who aren’t subscribed, who in which case, may become your enemies because they aren’t subscribed. Also, check out their website, and their other online pages such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, all down below! Also, be sure to tell them that Jack Drees sent ya!

WTIVF? WEBSITE: http://www.whattheivf.com/

WTIVF? YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCILXSidkzWgwrQ5Oa1py78w/featured?disable_polymer=1

WTIVF? TWITTER: https://twitter.com/WTivF

WTIVF? INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/wtivf/

WTIVF? FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/What-The-IVF-288868031634125/

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“Pacific Rim: Uprising” is directed by Steven S. DeKnight and stars John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Detroit), Scott Eastwood (The Longest Ride, Suicide Squad), and Cailee Spaeny. This is the sequel to 2013’s “Pacific Rim,” directed by Guillermo del Toro, and if you are keeping up with the Academy Awards, this guy recently won Best Director for “The Shape of Water,” a movie which also won Best Picture. When it comes to “Pacific Rim: Uprising,” it revolves around John Boyega’s character of Jake Pentecost, the son of Stacker Pentecost, played in the first movie by Idris Elba. His character teams up with another character from the first movie, Mako Mori, played in the first movie by Rinko Kikuchi, and leads a team of new Jaegar pilots against a new Kaiju threat.

As far as the first “Pacific Rim” is concerned, I’ll say I personally enjoyed it. I saw it in IMAX when it came out, I had a good time, I got to see some kick-ass robot/monster fights up on the big screen, it was pure popcorn fun. I got connected to the human characters a little bit, the music was not half-bad, and Idris Elba gave a speech to remember.

“Today. Today… At the edge of our hope, at the end of our time, we have chosen not only to believe in ourselves, but in each other. Today there is not a man or woman in here that shall stand alone. Not today. Today we face the monsters that are at our door and bring the fight to them! Today, we are cancelling the apocalypse!” –Stacker Pentecost

I’ve only seen the movie twice, with last time being a month ago, but no matter when I watch it, I can imagine myself getting goosebumps just listening to that. The first “Pacific Rim” is definitely not a masterpiece, but certainly a good time. This movie, is the complete opposite. Not the opposite of definitely not a masterpiece, but the opposite of a good time.

Speaking of movies that aren’t masterpieces but also good times, remember “Independence Day?” That’s a fun movie. Remember the sequel? Yes? Unfortunately, I do too, I had to review that crap for y’all. I’m gonna go as far to say that “Pacific Rim: Uprising” is this year’s “Independence Day: Resurgence.” It’s an attempt to kickstart a new franchise and rely more on spectacle than proper storytelling. Ask me, do you remember many likable, intriguing moments from “Independence Day: Resurgence?” I don’t. And you know what? I’m gonna say that personally I found this movie to be worse than “Independence Day: Resurgence.” Heck, I watched the first movie literally the day before I went to see the second one in theaters. Someone I had a connection with wanted to see the then new “Independence Day” movie, and I was unfamiliar with the first one, so I watched it on HBO for free, but it was something that I just had on in the background. I actually had attention directed towards “Pacific Rim” and personal enjoyment from gazing at the pixels on the screen. “Pacific Rim: Uprising” currently has a 6/10 on IMDb, and it is receiving more positive ratings than negative ratings, so it clearly has people who like it. And I will say, I imagined in my head that there are certain types of people who will watch this movie and have a good time. Let’s go through the list.

GROUP 1:
Fans of the first “Pacific Rim” who don’t care what others have to say and are just happy this movie exists.

GROUP 2:
Fans of the first “Pacific Rim” who clearly know the lore or are interested to see what other lore can be developed.

GROUP 3:
Kids who like giant robots, monsters, fighting, or any combination of those things. Yes, anyone can fit in here, but I’m mainly imagining kids.

GROUP 4:
People who just want to see John Boyega in something new for whatever reason.

GROUP 5:
Judging by what I just said, I guess the select few people who happened to enjoy “Independence Day: Resurgence.”

GROUP 6:
Me on Opposite Day.

GROUP 7:
Michael Bay. Just… Michael Bay.

I mean, seriously, how does this not feel like “Independence Day: Resurgence” all over again?! This movie’s a sequel to a film with a character who some might say gave a terrific speech. A black character who is not present in this movie has a kid who plays a big part instead of them. Both sequels take place in a future far from its predecessor. Oh yeah? And did I mention that both movies suck? That’s another thing too, it’s kind of important!

I don’t care about any of the movie’s characters, but since it is now a cliche for me to talk about at least one character in detail with a big fat image listed above, I guess it’s time for me to inject myself with the poison in front of my ugly face. Let’s talk about John Boyega’s character of Jake Pentecost. Gah! Why do I have to do this?! I don’t even monetize this site! It’s not even worth it! Alright, just for the sake of having a good review, let’s tackle this bitch. Pentecost is a fine character, and by fine I mean, you don’t want to kill him by the end of the movie. But probably the main reason you’ll end up liking him or caring about him is that he’s John Boyega. If you have been a fan of the new “Star Wars” movies, you might end up rooting for this character because you know he’s Finn. By the time you walk out of the theater, you’ll probably end up forgetting this character and go back to your life where you buy tickets for, hopefully, better movies.

Moving onto the main girl in this movie, Amara Namani, played by Cailee Spaeny, I was watching the movie and I thought to myself that she reminded me of the young girl in “Logan.” I can’t say too much about that though. Because to be honest I haven’t seen “Logan.” My comparison would be invalid given how I’ve only watched the film’s promotional material. But from the way she looks, and seemingly, acts in the movie, I was given that thought at one point.

Let’s talk about Charlie Day in this film.

More like… Charlie Good Day Sir!

Like, NO! JUST NO! NO!

WHAT! THE! HECK! DID THEY DO WITH HIM?!

For those of you who haven’t watched the first movie, Charlie Day was a character in it, and he went by the name of Newton Geiszler. He was a wacky scientist who studied the Kaiju during the whole war. Take Emmett Brown from “Back to the Future,” put him in a blender with JJ Abrams, maybe a pinch of the Cowardly Lion from “The Wizard of Oz,” and add in the voice of like, I dunno, let’s just say Michael Scott from “The Office,” and you get Newton Geiszler. I won’t talk too much about him in this movie, because I want to stay out of spoiler territory, but there was a point where the character of Amara was getting on my nerves a little, then all of a sudden something happened with Newton, and then my brain tried to find all the ways it could electrocute itself. Its reaction might as well have been this GIF featuring a clip from “Family Guy.”

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Another gripe I’ve got with this film is that it’s just boring as f*ck! I mentioned how this movie relies more on spectacle than proper storytelling, the story itself bored me, and so did the character interactions. I’ll be honest, I’m a defender of the first Michael Bay “Transformers” film, and I didn’t mind the human characters. While in that movie, you came to see giant robots fighting and may have been disappointed due to forced human character storylines, a movie such as the one I saw, had us wanting to see giant robots and monsters fight, but also made me as an audience member suffer through unlikable humans communicating with each other. In fact, one thing that I’ll point out about the first “Pacific Rim” is that while the movie isn’t exactly reliant on you giving a crap about the characters, I still cared about them and possibly rooted for them. Here, I wasn’t doing that. If somebody received any sort of pain, I wouldn’t have cared. This movie felt too extended and dull, and it ended up being an hour and fifty-one minutes. There are so many movies that are longer than this pile of garbage that are better and more worth your time! Let’s give a list!

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Citizen Kane
  • Jurassic Park
  • Every Lord of the Rings movie (including Hobbit installments)
  • Star Wars
  • Braveheart
  • La La Land
  • Interstellar
  • Titanic
  • V For Vendetta
  • The Dark Knight
  • The Matrix
  • Lincoln
  • The Fifth Element
  • The Big Sick
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service
  • Ray
  • Once Upon a Time in the West
  • Metropolis
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • Inception
  • The Martian

And you know what? I don’t know how long this statement will hold up in my book, but at this point, I might say this is worse than all of the Michael Bay “Transformers” films.

This movie isn’t all negatives, in fact, one positive I can actually give the movie, is some of the cinematography from Dan Mindel, cinematographer of such films including “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the 2009 “Star Trek” reboot, and “John Carter.” Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not the best I’ve ever seen, but it almost comes off as one of the only things that can make this look like a film that is trying. But unfortunately, that’s sometimes ruined by occasional choppy editing! How wonderful! I didn’t come to the movie to admire the cinematography and editing, but it doesn’t mean both of those things can be bad!

In the end, when I’m talking about a big blockbuster that is SUPPOSED to entertain you and have you enjoy yourself while munching on popcorn for a couple of hours, and the only positives that come to mind include some of the shots and maybe tads of humor, that’s an epic fail! I really wanted to like the first movie. When the first trailer came out, it sold me. It prepared me for what was to come. I was somewhat pumped. The future bits of marketing were not as great, but I thought maybe the movie could be a chunk of fun. I think I’d honestly have more fun flying Spirit Airlines than I would watching this movie. At least Spirit Airlines, as much as they suck, and trust me, THEY SUCK, can take you to places you want to go. If I wanted to see all sorts of pretty lights and maybe watch some drunkards duke it out, Spirit could take me to Las Vegas. If I wanted to go see one of my best friends in person or make fun of the way people in Texas talk up close, Spirit could take me to Houston. If I bought tickets to go to a convention that might as well be an excuse to pay lots of money to stand in line after line after line, Spirit could take me to San Diego. “Pacific Rim: Uprising,” also took me to a place, and that place, is hell. I’m gonna give “Pacific Rim: Uprising” a 2/10. I admire John Boyega, and continue to hope some brightness shines throughout his career, but to say that he may have just been shown in a movie that is possibly worse than “The Circle,” is just unfathomable.

Thanks for reading this review! Next week I’m going to have my review for “Avengers: Infinity War,” because I already have tickets to see the movie opening night, and probably right after I get done watching that, the first thing I’ll do is get right in front of my computer, type like a maniac until perhaps three o’clock in the morning, and post my review for y’all to read! By the way, I’ll warn you in advance in case you read that review, I’ll do my best to make the review spoiler-free, for the sake of not feeding the trolls who throw spoilers around the Internet, and to avoid ruining the experience of going to see “Infinity War” for those who aren’t seeing it as early as I am. Not to mention, according Anthony and Joe Russo, the two directors of “Avengers: Infinity War,” Thanos demands my silence, so I might as well respect Thanos’ wishes.

#ThanosDemandsYourSilence

Also, stay tuned because pretty soon, I’ll have my review up for “Mission: Impossible II.” This review will be up by the month’s conclusion, and it will be the second entry in my “Mission: Impossible” review series leading up to “Mission: Impossible: Fallout.” So look out for that! Stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Pacific Rim: Uprising?” What did you think about it? Which “Pacific Rim” movie was better? The first one or the second one? And since it’s relevant, did you see “Independence Day: Resurgence?” Leave all your thoughts down below, and PLEASE remember, if you are making an early review of “Avengers: Infinity War,” #THANOSDEMANDSYOURSILENCE. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Molly’s Game (2017): Passable, but with “High MIstakes”

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“Molly’s Game” is directed by Aaron Sorkin (Steve Jobs, The Social Network) and stars Jessica Chastain (Interstellar, Zero Dark Thirty), Idris Elba (Pacific Rim, Thor), and Kevin Costner (Man of Steel, Dances with Wolves) in a movie based on a book of the same name. It’s about the true story of Molly Bloom, a former poker entrepreneur and Olympic-class skier who was charged with running the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game.

I haven’t really followed much of Aaron Sorkin’s previous work. This movie is actually his directorial debut, and if you have followed Sorkin’s work, you’d know he’s typically known for his writing. Sorkin is responsible for creating “The West Wing,” which he often wrote. As far as movies go, he has written “Moneyball,” “Steve Jobs,” “The Social Network,” “A Few Good Men,” and “Charlie Wilson’s War.” I was actually going to watch “Steve Jobs” in 2015 during its theatrical run, but I never got around to it. Nevertheless, I heard the fellow can write. Having seen this movie, I’d say he can direct too. I can appreciate the vision this movie contained. Going at a quick pace, all the while providing a serious tone. There were a couple of moments that I really liked from a lighting perspective as well. The colors just meshed together almost like a very small lens flare that didn’t feel obnoxious in any sort of way. As far as writing and editing goes, here are my thoughts.

I totally see what people are talking about when it comes to Aaron Sorkin and writing, the two go together like FedEx and that arrow between the “E” and the “x.” What’s that? You didn’t know about the FedEx arrow? Google the FedEx logo and observe it closely. The opening sequence of this film has Molly Bloom talking like I’m listening to what happens when an auctioneer and a motivational speaker combine into a single person. Not only was the diction well done, it was funny, it was informative, and it set a proper tone for the movie. This movie’s based on a book, and I apologize to books, but I never read the book for this film. I don’t know how similar this movie’s introduction is to the book, but if the writing resembles the book here, I’d say this is great writing in general. Props to both Bloom and Sorkin if that’s the case. Still, at the very least, props to Sorkin. I’ve heard a saying that the best directors make the best editors. As far as directing ability goes, this was mostly competent. I have a couple of issues, but this can apply to either the script or the editing instead of just directing.

A couple of shows that really make me uncomfortable are “The Office” and “Modern Family.” I heard a lot of people like both programs. Personally, I can’t watch them. Maybe I’ll give “The Office” a try because I hear a lot of folks talking about it like it’s the greatest thing between Netflix and the idea of Netflix and chill. Also, f*ck Netflix. However I don’t think I can watch “Modern Family” ever again. It’s not only unfunny despite how many people watch it and revered it is, but it’s also shot in a style that tries to make you feel like you’re there, but it just comes off like a student film to me. It almost reminds me of the shaky cam from “The Hunger Games!” “Molly’s Game” is not as bad, it’s not as shaky, it’s not as handheld, it works for what it’s doing. …For the most part. When it comes to editing, this movie cuts way too quickly sometimes. It tries to maintain this very quick style of filmmaking, and it just doesn’t work. I noticed one or two jumpcuts here as well. As far as writing goes, it’s tonally inconsistent. While most of the movie is fast and stays fast, it sometimes just slows down to a point where it’s horribly slow. Throughout the entire film, Jessica Chastain is narrating as Molly Bloom and it almost feels like something that should keep you going towards the edge of your seat. There are moments here that just don’t match what the movie feels like the entire time. It feels like a couple movies meshed into one. It’s like combining one movie, “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” with another movie, “Manchester by the Sea,” although it’s a million times happier. The editing combined with the screenplay is like a hotel room with a comfortable bed, no bugs, it’s got a clean carpet, the TV is 4K, everything looks nice, but the toilet isn’t working, the shower’s water system is screwed up, and the sink handles for hot and cold are grungy and hard to operate. It just all needs minor tweaking on perhaps major flaws before absolute perfection.

However let’s move our attention to the best part of the movie, Jessica Chastain as Molly Bloom. Some people may go see this movie for a number of reasons. Some people are interested in the story of Molly Bloom, some people like Aaron Sorkin’s writing, and some will say that the cast looks promising. I’ve observed Idris Elba and Kevin Costner in this film, and while both give competent performances, Jessica Chastain trumped them both. If the writing wasn’t excellent enough, this movie had an amazing actress to go off of it. I must say, despite my love for Jessica Chastain, I haven’t seen too many performances from her. However, much like the other movies where I saw Jessica Chastain performing, this is another fine example of how someone should act in a movie. They transform into a different person, and they allow the audience to see them as more than someone on a screen.

In the end, I got to say that “Molly’s Game” is not really a movie that I’d recommend to everyone, but I wouldn’t say to shy away from it either. It’s one of those movies that can impress you in a number of ways, but isn’t entirely screwed together to the point of perfection. I like the acting. I like the directing. I like the writing. However, the movie itself is sloppy when it comes to pacing. At times it wants to accelerate, and at others it wants to drag. There are times where I just nearly wanted to fall asleep, and I must have felt that during the fast parts due to the inconsistency of pacing. Although I will say this, Jessica Chastain f*cking rocks. I’m going to give “Molly’s Game” a 6/10. Thanks for reading this review! On Thursday, I’m going to start off my “Maze Runner” review series by talking about the first installment in the movie franchise, “The Maze Runner,” so look forward to that. Also, depending on what happens, tomorrow I’m going to upload a surprise post. I won’t tell what it is. But January 17th is a special day in my heart. That’ll be your hint. I might not post this, but that’s if I don’t finish it in a certain amount of time. Stay tuned for more reviews and other great content! Did you see “Molly’s Game?” What are your thoughts? How do you think Aaron Sorkin did as a first-time director? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Thor: Ragnarok (2017): Guardians of Asgard

Before we begin my review for “Thor: Ragnarok,” I’d like to just take a moment and remind you that this upcoming weekend, I’ll be at Rhode Island Comic Con! Rhode Island Comic Con is a three day event which begins Friday, November 10, and ends Sunday, November 12. There will be tons of artists, vendors, panels, and oh yeah, they serve alcohol! So if that’s something that interests you, check that out! Celebrity guests typically have appeared in movies and TV shows ranging from “Star Wars,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Revenge of the Nerds,” “Boondock Saints,” “The Walking Dead,” “Power Rangers,” “Luke Cage,” and “Stranger Things.” In fact, since we’re on the topic of “Thor: Ragnarok,” Mark Ruffalo is actually showing up! If you are showing up to this event, don’t hesitate to say hi to me if you see me, which is probably gonna be hard considering the crowds this event can get. I will be there all three days so I’m sorry for stealing your ticket, but luckily there are tickets still available, and you can also buy special packages for individual or group celebrities, including a section that has little to do with the con itself, which is access to a Gene Simmons concert. Keep in mind, some of these don’t include admission tickets to the con. I’m going in as a patron, not as a guest, so if you see me walking around, I hope we can talk! Speaking of nerd things, let’s talk about “Thor: Ragnarok.”

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“Thor: Ragnarok” is directed by Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, What We Do in the Shadows) and stars Chris Hemsworth (Rush, Ghostbusters), Tom Hiddleston (The Night Manager, Kong: Skull Island), Cate Blanchett (Lord of the Rings, How to Train Your Dragon 2), Idris Elba (Pacific Rim, The Dark Tower), Jeff Goldblum (Independence Day, Jurassic Park), Tessa Thompson (Creed, Dear White People), Karl Urban (Dredd, The Bourne Supremacy), Mark Ruffalo (Now You See Me, Spotlight), and Anthony Hopkins (Beowulf, Hannibal). This movie revolves around Thor, who happens to be imprisoned. He soon finds himself in a gladiator battle, which is basically borrowed from the Planet Hulk storyline in the comics for “The Incredible Hulk.” Also, Thor must annihilate the evil Hela, the Goddess of Death, who set out to destroy Thor’s home and Asgardian civilization.

Going into this movie, my expectations weren’t all that high. I will admit, as time went on, they actually kind of increased. I say this because I watched the first trailer for this movie, the one that came out before “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” officially released in theaters. I just watched the trailer thinking that this will be alright for a Marvel movie, but it had too much of a “Guardians of the Galaxy” vibe, considering the fact that Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant” was playing in the background as Asgard is being destroyed. “Immigrant” is a good song, in fact it’s also pretty catchy, but it just doesn’t work. Plus the whole fight between Thor and Hulk, or technically, the buildup to it, is basically played out like a comedy. Granted, Marvel has used comedy in its past movies and it worked. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” has done a great job at balancing comedy and seriousness throughout the entire film. However when it comes to “Thor,” it always seems to have a less than pleasant storyline or tone, and by less than pleasant I mean dark. The first movie made it work, and there was comedy interjected there too which happened to work. Just watch the movie while it presents its version of the fish out of water cliche. Then we get to the second movie… Just, kill me. There were only one or two things I found funny in that film and after watching it recently, I almost hated my life. Then we get to the second trailer, which was pretty cool in ways. The song choice was slightly better, although the tone felt like it was meshed together properly, but it ultimately made me more interested in the movie. However to be fair I was gonna see this no matter how interested or disinterested I was, because this is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I gotta keep up with the timeline.

Another thing to consider towards my lack of expectations is the fact that Marvel has been declining in terms of likability with their recent releases. Both “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” were not as good as I wanted them to be. They were good, but at the same time they were just movies that I particularly wouldn’t watch many times again. “Thor: Ragnarok,” ultimately, kind of belongs in the same category. It’s by no means a bad movie, but not as good as it could be. Let’s take it from the top.

First off, we have the vibe. This movie starts out in a way that’s kind of comedic, although at the same time it makes you wonder what’s about to come next. Then we get some light comedy throughout the picture, there was nothing really that stood out about it, it’s your typical comedy that you see in Marvel movies nowadays. Nothing really hit me. And that’s the thing, this movie, in terms of humor, is divided. At times, it’s hilarious, at other times, it just made me remain in silence. I will say though, this movie is actually funnier than “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” Not the first movie, but the second one. The first movie is a kneeslapper to the tenth degree, the second one was somewhat underwhelming. On the topic of “Guardians” and vibes, the whole vibe of the movie, just like the first trailer, reminded me of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which to some people might be fine and dandy. For me, not so much. If you have seen “Guardians of the Galaxy,” you’d know that it’s a lot different compared to other movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s a lot more cartoon-like, a lot funkier, a lot lighter. OK, well, you can technically say the MCU as a whole is light, but “Guardians” definitely takes the cake as the MCU’s lightest film. This entire film we have here, is about the destruction of Asgard, and it’s all done by a being who’s referred to as the Goddess of Death, AKA Hela. I wanted this movie to be darker, I wanted it to be serious. Maybe it could interject tads of humor here and there, but nothing even close to the amount of humor given to us here. I may be biased, but this the seventeenth film in the MCU, not to mention the eleventh distributed by Walt Disney Studios, or as I like to call them, “GIVE US YOUR MONEY TO MAKE REPETITIVE CONTENT! Studios,” I would love it if we could see a really dark and gritty MCU film. Not like “Batman v. Superman,” it would have better characterization and casting put into it. “Captain America: Civil War” came really close, and I’ll have you know that it’s one of my favorite films of 2016, but what would put the cherry on the sundae is if someone from the Avengers died in the film. This as a whole just takes elements from the past “Thor” films, interjects part of the concept of “Captain America: Civil War,” and provides the mood of “Guardians of the Galaxy.” It just doesn’t feel original. Some might even say that there’s one reason specifically that this is like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and before I actually tell you that reason, let me just say, it made the movie remind me of “Pixels.”

Before “Pixels” came out in theaters, one trailer was released and the music behind it happened to be Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” which was eventually used in the movie, not once, but twice. The first time was during the introduction when the kids are in the arcade playing “Donkey Kong” and the second time was throughout the climax when the adults are actually inside the game “Donkey Kong.” This movie isn’t beat for beat on all of those things. However, you may recall I mentioned a trailer that played Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.” That song is in this movie as well, which I will say this movie gets some credit for unlike “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” which had Sweet’s “Fox on the Run” in a trailer, but it never made it into the movie. This is a great and catchy song but just like “Pixels,” the song is played at the beginning of the movie, and at the end of the movie. Reminder, by the end of the movie I don’t mean during the credits. I’d be fine if the song were used once, but twice? Given what this movie has to offer, it just kind of didn’t fit. It’s not like “Inception” where a song literally had a purpose throughout the film. Remember how in that movie, they had a song to signify whenever there was a kick? Yeah, it was Edith Piaf’s “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien,” which is French for “No Regrets.” I’ve never been a big fan of the MCU’s music as a whole, because it all sounds rather forgettable or generic, but I want some variety here!

I just want to say, to those of you who say that this movie is actually different compared to the other MCU films, you’re wrong. I will tell you something that is different though, and that’s Thor’s hair. During the movie it actually gets cut off and I got to say, going into this film, I’ve seen it cut off on posters, and it just simply reminded me of Channing Tatum’s character from “Jupiter Ascending.” Thor is shown to be the same charismatic dude we’ve come to know over the movies we’ve seen him in during the MCU thus far. He brings out a charm that’s extremely admirable, and he seems to be unbelievably joyous, and this is surprisingly also executed during the Planet Hulk fight scene. As far as Thor’s new look goes, I was a little skeptical at first, but in the end, I do think that it’s a good look for him.

Thor’s brother, Loki, also makes a return here. Loki has always been an interesting character to me. As far as this universe is concerned, sometimes he’s the antagonist, other times he’s a protagonist. Here, he’s helping out Thor on his mission, and at other times, the two are separated and doing their own thing. By that I mean, Thor’s doing his own thing and Loki is just watching. Loki also has one of the funniest parts of the movie, which involves a character whose name I won’t mention.

This movie is also the return of the strong monster-like Avenger and Jolly Green Giant impersonator, the Hulk. His last appearance in the MCU where he got some significant screentime was in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Neither Thor or the Hulk were in “Captain America: Civil War,” so there’s a good chance they don’t even know the whole controversy which arose in that movie. It’s nice to see the Hulk here, and his character, appeared to be a bit different than how I’ve seen him in previous movies in this particular universe, which I kind of liked. Seeing Hulk and Thor talk throughout the movie, kind of reminded me of George and Lennie from “Of Mice and Men” because of how one character’s language is structured compared to the other.

Speaking of the Hulk and Thor, the two had a fight, as mentioned recently. While heroes have fought each other before, I have to say this fight was pretty awesome. This fight, in terms of action, engaged me more than the fight in “Batman v. Superman.” I personally felt there was more at stake in that movie, but in reality, in terms of action, this fight was better. I will say though, the whole “friend from work” thing, was kind of cringeworthy. Still, the fight’s awesome!

Another character I want to bring up is the character of Hela, the movie’s main antagonist. As much as the Marvel movies have not been as good as usual, the villains have been becoming increasingly more likable. Another interesting thing about this villain, this is the first of the MCU’s main antagonists to be a woman. She’s played by Cate Blanchett, who you may know as Galadriel from the “Lord of the Rings” movies. In terms of mannerisms, Blanchett’s interpretation of Hela made her look like a cliche villain. Although at the same time, she was a very powerful being and the movie makes this case very convincing. The one thing that she did to drag down the movie more than anything else though is that she was very expositional at times, which helped you understand the history of Asgard, but at the same time, it just felt like a random monologue that could have been done in a lair but it was just done somewhere else. It’s the same thing, only different.

One of the movie’s biggest standouts for not just myself, but I imagine a lot of other people, is Jeff Goldblum’s character known as the Grandmaster. He’s basically this one dude who looks incredibly wacky, sounds incredibly wacky, and if there ever happened to be a commercial for makeup directed towards men, he would probably be  spokesperson presented in the ad. I have to give kudos to whoever did the makeup on Jeff Goldblum, it looked stellar!

One last plus I’ll give before I deliver my final verdict to you all, I noticed this in the trailer, but some of the shots in this movie are some of the best I’ve seen in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. There are various shots that probably looked great on a storyboard, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case. The movie has shots that almost look like they were copied exactly from a comic book, which I admire wholeheartedly since this is a comic book movie after all. I will say there’s one scene that in terms of colors, could have been graded better. Let’s just say it takes place on grass. This may be a personal thing, but I still feel I should unleash this thought.

In the end, “Thor: Ragnarok” is a very weird movie to judge. I had fun with it, but fun isn’t really the word I want to be using in a circumstance like this. I get it, it’s Marvel, it’s Disney, it’s a similar formula we’ve witnessed in past movies carried over to this one, but it really should have been darker. I will say these movies do feel consistent, and in a way, that’s a good thing, but at times, you need to know what kind of stories you’re putting into certain movies. When you have a character referred to as “the Goddess of Death” in your movie, it’s kind of odd to fill the entire runtime with jokes. I don’t know how well “Justice League” will turn out, but I think ultimately, DC is gonna end up biting Marvel in the balls just because of how I gave all the DC films I’ve seen this year perfect scores and I’ve yet to do that with Marvel. Reminder, I’ve still yet to see “Logan.” I’m gonna give “Thor: Ragnarok” a 7/10. I will say though, if you’re gonna go see this movie, just prepare yourself for the “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” reference. I won’t go into detail, but it was freaking hysterical! Speaking of movies, there’s a line in the film that mentions the title “Point Break.” I won’t go into detail there either. But in all seriousness, next year better be good for Marvel. After seeing the trailers, nothing looks all that amazing about “Black Panther,” “Ant Man and the Wasp” is something I’m excited for though, but my biggest request is to make “Avengers: Infinity War” a slightly serious movie at the very least. Thanks for reading this review, I hope to see you all at Rhode Island Comic Con this upcoming weekend! Just go, you’ll be glad you did, and you’ll thank me later. Also, if you feel you are worthy enough to read these, I’ll have my previous “Thor” reviews listed down below if you want to check them out. I’d say please do so, I think you’ll enjoy them. Stay tuned for more reviews! Also, out of the three “Thor” installments we’ve gotten thus far, which one’s your favorite? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

“THOR” REVIEW: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2017/10/23/thor-2011-you-wont-need-to-be-hammered-to-watch-this-spoilers-for-the-marvel-cinematic-universe-movies/

“THOR: THE DARK WORLD” REVIEW: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2017/10/30/thor-the-dark-world-2013-why-is-kat-dennings-in-this-movie-spoilers/