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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE ACADEMY CHANGES RULES FOR THE 93RD ANNUAL OSCARS

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

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

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

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

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

PHYSICAL MEDIA (and other electronic) SALES GO UP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AMC THEATRES AND REGAL ENTERTAINMENT GROUP BAN UNIVERSAL FILMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEW HOME VIDEO RELEASES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ESPN GETS CREATIVE WITH THEIR LINEUP

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

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

COVID-19 GETS A MOVIE

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

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

NEW RELEASES GOING ON DEMAND

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

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

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But man, I do miss the movie theater.

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

How Scene Before Will Seemingly Adapt to Coronavirus Changes…

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! This is… Abnormal to say the least. Like, I never thought being an introvert would become as commonplace as it has today. I have never felt more numb than I do right now. Basically, the whole purpose behind Scene Before, which is to review the newest films for YOU, my viewers, has been diminished because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, or at least I think that will be the case. After all, I live in Massachusetts and this just came in earlier this week.

“Gatherings of over 25 people will be prohibited, including all community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based events, sporting events with spectators, concerts, conventions and any similar event or activity that brings together 25 or more people in a single room or a single space at the same time. This includes venues like fitness centers, private clubs and theaters.”

Now does this mean I can no longer go to the movie theater in my state? That is most likely. After all, I never recall seeing many auditoriums that can hold less than 25 people. I recall certain popular chains stating they will permit 250 people per auditorium or a 50% reduction per auditorium, but I think that is going to be voided now. I mean, if theaters stay open, I’ll consider going, but I also don’t want to become the “crazy movie freak of Massachusetts.” In fact, a lot of theaters around the country are already closed, because as I write this, Regal Entertainment Group, one of the largest North American chains, has shut down until further notice. In addition to that, AMC has done the same. So basically, the two big movie theater chains in my country are now avoiding service to moviegoing customers. Showcase Cinemas, another popular chain in the northeast shut down entirely. Nearby theaters catering to smaller and indie films like the Coolidge Corner Theatre and CinemaSalem have shut their doors until specific dates in April. Los Angeles has been ordered to shut down all of their theaters. LOS ANGELES! THE MOVIE CAPITAL OF THE UNIVERSE! The same goes with New York! Worst. Thing. Ever.

Speaking of tragic situations, I almost wonder if next year will have an Oscars ceremony. In fact, one of the major rules of the Academy Awards is that the movies participating for the award must have a 7 day theatrical release in Los Angeles. If they want this ceremony to fall through, they’ve GOT to make an exception for this year. Some theaters are still open, yes, but we are seeing a shift, at least for now, in increased home viewing. Basically, the whole world is going to continue watching Netflix and we all won’t be able to chill BECAUSE THIS IS THE ABSOLUTE WORST! I can’t chill! I can’t calm down! Who is writing our lives and why aren’t they fired?! Is it Stephen King? R.L. Stine? John Carpenter? Whoever the hell is writing this needs to be terminated immediately! Allow me to take their place and allow the entire universe to live happily ever after! Sometimes the predictable and happy ending is the best one!

I will say though, this does not mean I’ll STOP reviewing new releases. Because for all I know, there could be a Blu-ray, DVD, or digital release coming up for a movie previously shown in theaters that I missed. There’s not much from 2020 that is coming out that I have not seen or am interested in seeing, but one movie I missed, “Underwater,” is scheduled to release on DVD April 14th. I could probably go get it in person. After all, places like Target and Walmart are still likely to be open during these times (although worst case scenario I could buy it online), maybe I could buy it in a store if I feel the urge to.

Plus, one of the saving graces early on in this pandemic is Comcast, which I am utterly amazed by. A few years ago, I was talking s*it about their cable service. Having switched to Verizon, I felt instant relief. But recently, Comcast announced their commitment to providing free Internet to low-income customers for the next 30 days. I think that is a class act and a smart idea for these dark times. And given how people are less likely to head to the movie theater, Comcast distributors like Universal Pictures and Focus Features will be putting movies that are already out like “Emma” and “The Hunt” on VOD services as soon as possible for home viewers to enjoy without having to leave their couch. While this does discard the 90 day agreement where a cinema holds a movie for a period of time before it is officially allowed elsewhere, I think it is a smart decision. I don’t think it should be done for all movies, because there are a number of movies coming out that are absolutely enhanced through a communal experience that can be witnessed at a theater. While I am disappointed that “No Time to Die” got delayed, I am glad it is being shelved to November, when the world can HOPEFULLY unite as one community again. I was looking forward to “F9,” the upcoming “Fast & Furious” installment, but given the ongoing fears, it would make this movie lose a lot of its audience, thus losing its community. Also, when it comes to John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place Part II,” that was a movie that I wanted to see in a theater because the first one was easily one of the most unique experiences I have had while being surrounded by a group of people. I guess with all these delays, the theater is going to become “a quiet place.” Meanwhile, “Frozen 2” is getting an early release on Disney+, so if you have young girls, your place is going to become “the loud house.”

I think that some of these actions studios are taking are not only necessary, but simultaneously fulfilling, and some of them could help me, a guy who barely makes plans to leave his house, in the long run. Granted, I do hope this does not shatter the meaning of a communal experience at the movie theater, but I think I would be better off sharing thoughts related to such a topic another time. By the way, this suggests an idea I have in this case. Maybe I can fit in a series dedicated to the coronavirus, how it could *theoretically* impact the film industry, and maybe how it *is* impacting the film industry.

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But if you are loyal to this blog, you may be wondering if I have a concrete plan regarding the future of Scene Before and Flicknerd.com. The answer, yes and no. I have IDEAS, but there is no guarantee as to the absolute likelihood of every single part of my plan falling into place. But this is like how things have always been. I can plan ANYTHING on what my blog is going to entail, what posts I have coming soon, doesn’t make it a guarantee. The only guarantees I can make going forward is that I PLAN to continue making at least one post a week, hopefully within a cycle of every seven days and that I will have at least FOUR reviews coming within the next month or so. I still need to review “Emma,” “Onward,” “The Way Back,” and “Bloodshot.” These four movies will be reviewed at some point, and should things go according to plan, I will be reviewing each of these movies in the order of which I mentioned their names.

Now that I have mentioned that, I will also point out that I might plan on some movies that I haven’t given myself the chance to talk about. Now that a lot of big movies are getting pushed back, this prevents certain event-like experiences from happening. Maybe this period of nothingness will allow me to talk about films I don’t always get a chance to dive deep into into. I always wanted to do a four part “Revenge of the Nerds” review series, where I would talk about each of the films, this even includes the two that were made for television, in depth. Without talking much about the film critically, I have somewhat of a personal connection with the first “Revenge of the Nerds” installment, so reviewing it kind of feels somewhat overdue. If I had other series’ I could accomplish, I have all the “Underworld” installments, and I can review all the ones that I have not touched upon. I want to talk about “Star Wars” episodes I-VII, but at the same time, I want to save that for a special occasion. I’m putting that on the backburner for now. Maybe I could do a Pixar series since I have a number of those movies. The same goes with DreamWorks Animations. I also have a 4K boxset of the “Matrix” trilogy in my room sitting around. Part of me wants to unwrap it to see the films in 4K glory, and ultimately review them. Speaking of Keanu Reeves, while I did already review the second and third “John Wick” movies, I still need to talk about the first one. Maybe I could touch upon that! I also maybe could do films that are lacking in a franchise, allowing for more refreshing content that could stand on its own. It can either be a good reminder of standalone films that have come out over the years, maybe a PSA to those who have overlooked a particular title, or some other reason. For all I know I could be reviewing a movie that is beyond terrible and should never be watched for any reason. One other idea I had was to talk about some older movies. Thus far, the oldest film I have talked about in terms of reviews happens to be “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Maybe I could talk about some films older than that, maybe from the 1950s, 1940s, or even 1930s.

Speaking of reviews, one of the reviews I have waited LITERALLY FOREVER to put out is for STX’s “My Spy.” I cannot say anything about it, but what I can say about it is that it is going to have a difficult time getting into the public eye, as if it hasn’t had a hard time already. It already released in Australia in January, and in Britain just this past weekend. “My Spy” was supposed come out in August of last year, only to be delayed to the most recent weekend of this year. As we approached the release date of the movie, it just so happens that it managed to get pushed back AGAIN to April! Why? I doubt it has to with corona, and maybe it had more to do to with having less competition during the month. After all, now that “No Time to Die,” the latest Bond film has been pushed back to November, it opens up the opportunity for another spy film to swoop in its place. But I gotta be honest, I am not going to be shocked if the film gets pushed back again. However, I will also be disappointed. After all, I SAW THE FILM IN JANUARY AND I NEED SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT! I have not finished a review for “My Spy,” but I still have my points that I want to talk about. We’ll have to see what happens to this movie, but my gosh! How is STX still holding onto this thing? I’m kind of surprised they haven’t dumped it out of their schedule entirely and sold the rights to Netflix!

I want to say that this ongoing trend could lead me to providing you all with more trailer reviews, because I could easily watch them on a device I have access to. Unfortunately, given the way things are going, it seems I won’t even get to watch a trailer for anything. After all, if the movie industry itself is in a major shutdown, there will barely be any trailers to support those that are still coming out.

I could dive into the realm of countdowns. One of the things I have honestly considered doing at this time is adding more installments to the series “Top Movies of the 2010s.” I say that because I labeled it as a countdown event. If I wanted it to be event-like, why not have it go on for some time? I don’t really have many ideas for original countdowns at this point. Although I have previously been thinking, and I might want to do a countdown on my favorite “Star Wars” battles, specifically ones fought with lightsabers. I almost did it around the release of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” but that idea failed to see the light of day.

I was not going to originally reference this, but a friend of mine suggested that I should start reviewing TV shows from streaming services. First off, I am incredibly thankful for the idea. This gives me a TON of new material to work with. But that also brings in a problem. I don’t focus on TV in general. Yes, there has been the rare instance where I would do a random post on a TV show, but they would highlight something that stands out to me, or maybe it intertwines into movies. I appreciate the idea, but for now, Scene Before is not going to focus on television. Who knows? Maybe if this gets worse, maybe the government will insert a dome over the area most affected by the virus, isolating them from everyone else, and eventually attempt to blow the area up. Spoiler alert for those of you who have not seen “The Simpsons Movie.”

Now, one thing I should point out is that last month was the release of the 2nd Annual Jackoff Awards. Guess what? Even before the 2nd iteration of my personal film awards show, I started planning the 3rd. But with this new situation that could last forever, I am beginning to wonder if there will be a third. Because to do an award show like this, I need to see tons of movies, that way there is a variety of potential nominees. If I just have random movies that came out from January to March, it might not cut it. At this point, Best Picture would probably go to something like “Impractical Jokers: The Movie.” I want to be optimistic and say that I can probably start going to the theater again by May, June, July, but for all I know, this highly contagious disease could prosper and linger into our lives during 2021. If this affects me as a moviegoer, there’s a solid chance that I might have to cancel The 3rd Annual Jackoff Awards. Keep in mind that The Jackoffs are supposed to be a celebration of a year in film, and if I cannot celebrate a year, there is no point in doing it. And no, if 2021 turns around and I do The Jackoffs for that year in 2022, I ain’t including 2020’s films in it. It has to be a FULL year from January to December, NO EXCEPTIONS. I will say though that for maybe this one year, I might bend the rules to allow the presence of movies that were SUPPOSED to come out in theaters that were ultimately put out for home viewing because of COVID-19, but anything is possible when the world is hunting for hand sanitizer.

But in all seriousness, this is an ever-changing time. Not just for me. I am willing to experience it and live through it, even if that means shattering my brain wide open. I just tweeted this the other day, because the truth is, I love being by myself. Alone time is one of the things I value most. I rarely see friends, I don’t always make plans with others, I don’t socialize that often. But here’s what I said the other day. By the way, follow me on Twitter at @JackDrees if you haven’t done so already!

This really feels weird! Until COVID-19 hit, I felt like “that guy” who always wanted to be alone. And now the government, my country, and those around me, are forcing everyone to be alone. This is essentially a movie, I really hope they roll the f*cking credits soon, and I won’t be sticking around for any additional scenes! I’m done! This is anger! This is rage! THIS IS WHAT THE INTERNET IS ALL ABOUT!

Thanks for reading this post! These are simply ideas that I have going forward. I will continue to create material while I still have the opportunity, not to mention, the sanity. Nevertheless, here’s hoping your day is as cleansing as hand soap and nowhere near as crappy as toilet paper! My next post is hopefully going to be for my long overdue review of “Emma” directed by Autumn de Wilde. I will have my review up for that, along with other films that I managed to see while society was still doing things. Remember doing things? What time that was to be alive! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account, and DON’T WORRY! It’s free! I know it’s a dire time, but if you want some free material to gloss over whenever you have spare time, which is probably all the time now, give this blog a follow! Also, speaking of stalking the Scene Before blog, go over to Facebook and like the official Scene Before page! I want to know, what are some suggestions for material that you have for me as we elbow bump our way through the coronavirus? Or, what is a movie you recommend for isolation, or hanging away from everybody else? Leave your comments below, this can be great conversation starter for everybody tuning in! Who knows how long this is gonna go on? But holy crap, I need my head to stop spinning NOW. Scene Before is, and always will be, your click to the flicks, and your destination of all your movie needs during this apocalypse! Why couldn’t it have been zombies? Why this?!

Scene Before 2019 HALFTIME REPORT (And Glance Into the Future)

WARNING: The following post is over 8,000 words long. Disappointingly, it’s not over 9,000.

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! 2019 is midway through and this year is going by fast! As far as my personal life goes, I’m in between my first and second year of college, I am enjoying my time off, and I’m the same movie reviewing moron as usual. Things have changed, but at the same time, I’m still the same flick nerd I have always been. And I mean that literally, but we’ll get to that later. However, I wanted to try something I haven’t done before on this blog. At the end of the year, I tend to do some reflective work, most notably countdowns. And while I am not going to do that at this current midway point, I would at least like to sit myself down and go over some recent highlights related to Scene Before. At the same time, I’d like to also look into the future. Admittedly, some of this is still in planning stages, but still.

I’d like to start off with something I’d like to call “TERRIFIC 3” and “TERRIBLE 3.” I am going to list 3 movies that I have watched this year that I would recommend to people and 3 other movies that I would tell people to avoid. Now, of course, these picks are subjective, if you think differently about these films than I, it might be slightly harder to talk to each other, but you are nevertheless entitled to your different thoughts. In fact, these are not supposed to be my top 3 best or worst of the year so far. If I like a film, I’ll list it, if I don’t like a film, I’ll also list it. These are not meant to be in any particular order. Anyway, let’s begin!

TERRIFIC 3!

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Starting off the Terrific 3 is “John Wick: Chapter 3!” I went to see this film in Dolby Cinema alongside my dad, who might be a bigger “John Wick” fan than anyone else I know. He and I walked out agreeing that the action in the film is absolutely top-notch. The action in “John Wick” films is certainly the aspect that would grab my attention more than any other. Long takes, innovative setpieces, gritty violence, all of it adds up to make some of my favorite action scenes of all time. When it comes to current action franchises, I am having some slight trouble deciding whether I prefer this or “Mission: Impossible.” It’s that good!

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Up next is a stellar DreamWorks animation whose franchise I never watched religiously, but always liked, “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.” If you have ever seen the game show “Deal or No Deal,” the show always highlights the phrase “timing is everything,” and when it comes to “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” that phrase becomes more relevant than ever. This movie came out in the middle of my second semester of college, and I could not help but feel like the people behind the movie were trying to consider me in its target audience. After all, while “How To Train Your Dragon” may be a franchise directed towards families and children, this growing adult could not help but feel like a kid again. In fact, to add more to this true masterpiece of an animated film, I became more emotional during this movie than I did during perhaps more than any other. Even more than “Toy Story 3.”

Last but not least for the Terrific 3 is a movie that I decided to list because it’s on a slightly different end of the spectrum. Because let’s face it, I’m kind of recommending movies to you, and why recommend “Avengers: Endgame” when almost everyone went to see it? So let’s recommend a smaller movie, such as Terry Gilliam’s “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.” Now some would argue that this is a 2018 flick, but in the United States, which is where I live, this didn’t come out until 2019. For those of you who don’t know this movie, “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” took decades to make, and it’s about a guy who reunites with someone he worked with during a production. This person he meets with is convinced that he is Don Quixote. This did not get that big of a release in theaters, but it is worth seeing just because of its history, because despite going through “development hell,” it managed to turn out quite well! The movie is now available on home video including various VOD options.

Now let’s move onto something that probably doesn’t deserve any attention, but because I believe in equality, we’re talking about it anyway, the Terrible 3!

TERRIBLE 3!

First up is a movie that I want to put on here because what’s the harm with having an unpopular opinion? Oh wait, everything. Who cares? One of the most successful movies of the year, “Captain Marvel,” just didn’t stick the landing for me. This had a lot of hype building up to it, but I personally just couldn’t relate. And when I saw the final product, I felt like… Wait, why’s everybody laughing and cheering? Yes, there are a couple of cool moments in the movie. For example, I dug the 90’s references such as Blockbuster Video and Dial-Up Internet. Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson have some good chemistry, but when it comes to Larson in general, her performance was kind of mediocre. Granted, I know grade-A acting isn’t the biggest component of a comic book movie, but Brie Larson, an Academy Award winner, felt more like she was in a couple straight to DVD films and that’s it. Granted, I think she did a slightly better job in “Avengers: Endgame,” but her performance here simply underwhelmed me. Plus, there’s a moment in this movie that references a significant part of the MCU lore (having to do with Samuel L. Jackson) and quite honestly, the way they go about it just killed my brain.

Up next is a movie that could have been great but was simply wasted. From the creators of NOT “Firefly” comes “Serenity.” “Serenity” could be somewhat fun, not to mention a great “thinker” movie, but it manages to become more boring the more I think about it. I love the movie “Interstellar,” so I was somewhat excited to see Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway unite once again for another project. Both have talent as actors and they’ve proven they have great chemistry. Honestly, I’d just go back to watching “Interstellar” if this is the movie we’re getting. Although this movie came out in January so it should not be surprising that we would get a movie of this quality.

And finally, we have what may be my worst movie of the year should nothing surpass it, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” The sad thing about “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is that I was actually desperately anticipating this movie. When I went to see it, I was ready for what was about to happen. Or was I? Seeing movies in IMAX may be great because it feels so big, but when they’re a big mess, what is the point? Maybe the monster fights could be fun, but if I wanted to watch this movie again, I’d probably have to be heavily drugged. Because let’s face it, as cool as big monsters are, the unforgivable part of “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” are the one-dimensional human characters. This could be slightly less intolerable if the human characters were less of a focal point during the movie, but they made me want to go back and check out some of the “Transformers” movies again! They’re THAT horrible!

I just showed you all my terrific and terrible picks, now let’s go over a few recent highlights from my blogging journey.

As usual, I kicked off my 2019 with my traditional countdowns to reflect on the year of 2018 in film. I went over the best of the year along with the worst of the year. Some of my top picks included “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “Eighth Grade,” and “Mission: Impossible: Fallout.” Some of my bottom picks included “The 15:17 To Paris,” “Uncle Drew,” and “Life of the Party.” I enjoy doing these countdowns every year and this is the first year that I started writing what I would put in the countdowns as early as August. I did not do this for every single movie, but I visualized the lists a long time prior to actually releasing them. This does not suggest that I avoided considering movies released past August, as evidenced by some of my picks.

After I did my lists, I saw my first 2019 release, which according to IMDb, is actually a 2017 release. Based on my experience and research, I’d call it a 2019 release, but still. That film by the way is “The Upside,” which is a remake of 2011’s “The Intouchables.” I personally have not seen “The Intouchables,” and while “The Upside” from my perspective is not really anything special when it comes to cinema, it is still a fun time. I went to see it at a press screening, and there were tons of laughs to be heard.

A couple weeks later I went to one of my local arthouse theatres to see a flick that I almost ended up passing on. Specifically, “Roma.” Why? Because when it comes to today’s media, Netflix is a company that I traditionally tend to avoid. But one of my local theaters managed to get access to a 70mm film print of “Roma,” which would be presented for a limited time. I took advantage of the opportunity and purchased a few tickets for a matinee show. Not only was the experience breathtaking, but the movie was one of the best of the past year. If I had to redo my top 10 lists of 2018, this would be on the best list, but I saw “Roma” after completing said lists.

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I also decided to try out a new concept this year which I have decided to make an annual tradition, the Jackoff Awards. For awhile, over the past year, I have grown to admire the Oscars based on how much respect they tend to pay towards the film industry. Granted, they’re not perfect, but what they’ve done over the years is absolutely intriguing. I thought to myself, why not do a big awards related post? Present similar categories to other major shows, I do my own comedy bits, and it was perhaps the most ambitious post I have ever done. As for Best Picture, I decided to present what was then my top 10 of 2018, which DID include “Roma,” and instead of having me choose Best Picture, I would allow my audience to choose the winner. I figured it would allow for diversity in terms of opinions, and I managed to get a surprisingly diverse number of votes. I got some votes for “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “First Man,” “Ready Player One,” but the winner turned out to be last year’s biggest comic book movie, “Avengers: Infinity War.” Honestly, if there were any movie to put in my Blu-ray player on a Friday night at this point, it would most certainly be that one.

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I then continued my journey in March by going to the place that I would associate with film more than any other, Los Angeles. My family and I stayed right near Hollywood Boulevard and I got to visit a few media-related sights including Warner Brothers Studios, the TCL Chinese Theatre (where I saw “Captain Marvel”), and Universal Studios Hollywood. I also got the chance to witness a live taping of “Conan.” While I didn’t make a big post related to this, I managed to briefly discuss some of my highlights here and there.

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For those of you who are curious about my “Conan” taping experience, I managed to witness almost two full shows. Why? Conan O’Brien had to be somewhere when his Thursday show would air, so naturally, he had a demand, he wanted us, Thursday’s audience, to “make Tuesday’s audience look like s*it.” We got see all of Tuesday’s show, which had a couple comedy bits and an interview with Timothy Olyphant (Live Free or Die Hard, Santa Clarita Diet) and a good fraction of a Thursday night show which featured comedian Moses Storm, who joked about cell phone users, “Shark Tank,” and revealed a story where he would tape episodes of Conan O’Brien’s older talk show episodes over his religion-related educational programming. By the way, Conan in person looks like a real life action figure. Maybe it’s the makeup. Maybe it’s the lighting in the studio, but my gosh.

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I also got to visit an RPX venue for the first time. For those who don’t know about RPX, they are a premium format that can be found exclusively in cinemas under Regal Entertainment Group ownership. I didn’t plan on attending RPX when I did, but I managed to get something off my list of movie-related things to do before I died. After all, “Us” just came out, and I was in the Boston area. I figured just to save time, I’d go for the earlier, but more expensive show that Regal Cinemas Fenway was providing, as opposed to another show which would be starting a half hour later. For your information, I was aware that I was going into an RPX screen. I didn’t mind my decision, I figured if I wanted to see “Us,” I’d go see it in full scale glory because I was really anticipating it. While I have still yet to see “Get Out” to this day, I have heard about its overwhelmingly positive reception and I was expecting that Jordan Peele would deliver another sick movie. While “Us” was not perfect, it was definitely worth seeing, and I wouldn’t mind watching it again. As for the RPX experience itself, I thought the seats were not too bad. The capacity was through the roof, the screen, while not entirely wall to wall, was huge. As for the sound… It is undeniably better than a standard theater, but I was a little underwhelmed. Maybe I went to see the wrong movie, maybe the employees turned the speakers down, but when I compare the sound to something like IMAX or Dolby Cinema at AMC, I would go back to both of those places first.

Moving onto April, I managed to survive the whole “Avengers: Endgame” ticket buying craze. For those not fully immersed into what I just stated, I must point out that “Avengers: Endgame” tickets went on sale April 2nd, and the Internet went balls to the wall nuts when it came to snagging tickets. I had to wait in Fandango’s line, AMC was having problems, and it got to the point where I had to buy tickets from a somewhat local cinema chain, on their own, slightly buggy website, just to make sure I could get into school on time. I almost took the train to one of my local AMCs because I could stop by there on the way to school. If I did that, I am willing to bet I would have missed out on opening night of “Endgame,” which was the day I was shooting for. After all I did want to get my review out as soon as possible, and I did manage to score a couple tickets on remaining good seats for a 9PM show. Not at an AMC, but at a Showcase Cinemas. While it was not my first choice, I don’t regret going there, because an hour before going into the cinema, I got a glimpse at everyone leaving the 22 MCU movie marathon the theater was showing over a few days. Everyone was being applauded, and they left with some merch. I recorded this aftermath on Facebook Live, and despite my camera’s focusing problems and poor cellular service, I managed to get some respectable footage. Also as a Bostonian, I was proud of myself to catch a reporter from one of my local news channels, WBZ, or CBS Channel 4. To be specific, Tashanea Whitlow. As for the premiere itself, the movie was fun, and the three hour runtime was rather justified given what we as an audience received. I didn’t think it was perfect, I’d much rather watch “Infinity War,” but it was a great finale to over ten years of films. I will also say, this may be due to where I went to see the movie, seeing “Infinity War” was also a better experience. Because I went to see it at a 7PM show on opening Thursday on an eight story IMAX screen. If you have ever gone to see an event-type film in India, that is one of the most solid comparisons I could make to my experience. It was like going to a Stanley Cup game or something. “Endgame,” which was in a sold out theater in regular 2D, had barely any applause (although some reactions here and there), and out of everyone in the theater, I may have been the most obnoxious. If I had to make a sports comparison, I’d probably say it was like going to a slightly more competitive golf tournament. It was lively at times, but not like the roof was being blown off the place. I know some people are not particularly fans of going to theaters where everyone is reacting to the film’s key moments, but as a fan of the MCU, it’s something that I considered to be a privilege during my “Infinity War” experience.

May was an interesting month for me, because I just finished my first year of college, so I got a little more active on the Scene Before side of things. I’m now trying to earn revenue with the blog, I saw more movies than I did in months such as March or February, and I even changed my domain name. Unfortunately, scenebefore.com was taken, so I wanted to make sure I can fit something that would associate with me, but also be precise. I thought something like moviereviewingmoron.com, while definitely appropriate, is a tad too long. Luckily, after some searching, I found out that flicknerd.com was available. Did I ever call myself “flick nerd” on this blog? No, but I figured it would be a cool name to have because its simplicity will probably gain enough traction overtime. It’s hard to tell though, because this advanced blogging journey, at least from my point of view, is just getting started. I’m looking for sponsors, more potential viewers, but I’m also trying to be the same movie reviewing moron that everyone has come to know.

One of my highlight posts of the month is titled “What THE BIG BANG THEORY Has Meant To Me: A Nerd’s Perspective.” For those who are unaware, CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” just finished it’s twelfth and final season on the air, so I figured I’d take some time to remind the world of what the show has meant to me as a fan, as someone who would constantly tune in to new episodes, and most of all, as a nerd on the autism spectrum. I probably won’t have time to give a detailed description of everything I said, so if you want to read the post, click this link!

I also saw another one of my favorite films so far this year, “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum!” Not only that, but like I mentioned earlier, I managed to catch a Dolby Cinema presentation of it, which surprisingly, didn’t make me feel like I was getting shot in the head, which may be a good thing. Seriously though, “John Wick: Chapter 3” is probably the best installment of the franchise yet, and Keanu Reeves might now just have a better trilogy than “The Matrix!”

But I cannot say the end of the month was great, because “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” happened. Sad day. Even though I went to see the film in full scale IMAX glory, it didn’t feel like something worth my time.

Moving onto June, I managed to do something pretty cool with my dad. He and I go to the movies together a lot because for the most part we have similar tastes. We match together when it comes to sci-fi, action, comic book-based material, comedy, etc. However he has never been to an advance press screening, so I thought just for fun he and I could do so for the new movie, “Men In Black: International.” It’s a movie that I probably would have checked out had I waited for it to release everywhere. After all, “Men In Black 3” is my favorite movie of 2012. However, since this was free, not to mention, early, I thought dad and I could trek to the theater and see what this movie had in store. I personally enjoyed it. I know some people were scared of how this movie would turn out based on the marketing (Then again, it’s a Sony film, whaddya expect these days?). I thought the first trailer was alright, but not great. The second trailer was an improvement and actually got me more interested in the film. As for the film itself, it is not Shakespeare, but it’s a fun time at the movies. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson have great chemistry together and I think Kumail Nanjiani’s character is a fantastic comic relief.

The best movie I saw this month was “Toy Story 4,” which I must point out, I probably was not even looking forward to back when it was announced. Boy, times do change! Unfortunately, I had to witness brain cell erasers such as “Replicas,” which I bought on Blu-ray since I had some Best Buy rewards to waste. I also saw “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” which is worse than getting scratched in the eye by a cat. Yes, Harrison Ford is in it. Yes, he is the best part of the movie. But I might as well be at the point where I would rather have a dog sniff my butt then go so that film again!

Now that I have recapped my highlights, I just want to remind everyone of what’s being planned for the future. Here is my unofficial schedule for the second half of 2019!

JULY:

Throughout the month of July, there are not that many movies coming out compared to other months in the year (at least according to Wikipedia), but I am planning on catching a few blockbuster highlights such as “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” despite how little anticipation I have for it. I also really want to catch Disney’s live-action remake of “The Lion King.” I am not a fan of the Disney live-action remake trend, but I feel that this movie will be a great theater experience and also rather compelling. I don’t know how much it is going to be a carbon copy of the original or how much it’ll go in its own direction, but I am somewhat curious as to what will come of it. I know it is longer than the original, which slightly worries me, because it could add something that perhaps the 1990s film didn’t even need, therefore ruining my experience. Plus, it’s being directed by Jon Faverau, who also worked on 2016’s “The Jungle Book,” another Disney live-action remake, which was one of my favorite movies of said year. I also really want to check out “Crawl.” The trailer didn’t have me fully onboard, but I am still curious as to how this film will turn out. Plus, it’s being produced by Sam Raimi, who is known for his work in the horror industry, and one of my favorite comic book movie directors.

This does not mean that I want to ignore independent work, because on the same weekend as “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” A24 is releasing one of my most anticipated movies of the summer. Specifically, “Midsommar.” When your movie is A: Directed by Ari Aster, who had a phenomenal feature-length directorial debut last year with “Hereditary,” another A24 film, and B: Described by Aster as “a Wizard of Oz for perverts,” I am instantly intrigued. “Midsommar” takes place in rural Sweden as a young couple takes a vacation and settles in the area. Alongside their friends, they eventually discover that this area has a festival that takes place once every ninety years, which creeps them all out. I want to see Ari Aster succeed, so hopefully this film does well.

Speaking of successful filmmakers, another well-known director in the industry, specifically Quentin Tarantino, is going to be releasing his ninth film, “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood.” And to be honest, as anticipated as I am to see this film, I have to let something out. I have not seen much of Tarantino’s work. I will most likely be going to see “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood” when it comes out, maybe in 35mm, but before I do that, I am going to be doing a small series of reviews for Quentin Tarantino movies. In fact, I already have a few lined up. Specifically, “Pulp Fiction,” “Django Unchained,” and “The Hateful Eight.” Those reviews will be done as weekly projects and they should all be up before the official release date of “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood,” July 26th.

 

AUGUST:

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESRemember how I would occasionally announce I am going to cons from time to time? For some reason I have failed to do that this year. It’s not like I am not going anywhere, but I have just failed to put myself in front of my keyboard and try to say, “Hey guys, here’s where I’m going, stalk me!” Not that don’t mind the attention, I’m just saying. But if you really want to know about my next con, I do have it booked, and I will be going to Terrificon, which for those of you who have been following me for some time, you’d know that is also the first con I ever documented on this blog. And I am thinking of doing something a little different this time, just to spice things up. I’m trying to push more video content into my posts, maybe I’ll insert a compilation of the con’s highlights. I’ll record it on my camera, maybe my phone, whichever has more memory at the time. Maybe I’ll post it on YouTube and link it here. Who knows? But here on Scene Before I am trying find ways to innovate, and maybe this could be one of them.

Speaking of cons, this is NO GUARANTEE, partially because I have not even bought tickets, but there is one convention that is about a half hour away from my house that I kind of want to go to. Whether or not I am going, that’s a different story, but should things go in a certain direction, I may end up going to Fan Expo Boston, which is a con I have surprisingly never been to. And the guest list this year, aside from a couple big cancellations, is solid so far. You’ve got Zachary Levi (Shazam!, Tangled), who I will say, even if you are not into his work, he is a fun guy to meet, he is upbeat and has a massive sense of charm. Part of the cast of “Blade Runner” is going to be there including Sean Young, Rutger Hauer, and Edward James Olmos. I have a feeling there are more guest announcements coming our way, and if there are, I cannot wait to hear them, because there have been a lot of cool names who were there over the years to the point where I almost have slight regrets on missing out. If I were to get tickets to Fan Expo, I’d probably just go for one day. After all, Terrificon is the week prior, and I am staying overnight during that weekend, so my budget might be slightly higher at that event compared to Fan Expo.

Moving away from cons, I will say that my biggest film catches for August right now have to be “Hobbs & Shaw,” “Dora and the Lost City of Gold,” “Good Boys,” “Where’d You Go Bernadette?,” and “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.” There is not much from August that I am truly anticipating, but I will inevitably go see a few things here and there. And if you want to know something, I only put down “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” because let’s face it, “Dora the Explorer” was a part of my childhood, and nostalgia equals money nowadays. Granted, this movie looks a tad more adult-friendly than the cartoon. But am I looking forward to it? Hell no. In fact, I am thinking it is only going to ruin my childhood, but I might as well give it a chance just because I am a nice guy. I saw the recent “Power Rangers” film partially out of nostalgia and that worked for me, might as well do it with “Dora” and see if that works.

 

SEPTEMBER:
If I had to predict my least active month for the rest of the year, I have to call it right now, September is certainly a contender. For one thing, I’m going back to college, so I need to adjust to a new routine. I’m still going to keep my promise of doing at least one post within every 7 days or so, that way you can keep witnessing my constant dedication to this blog. I’m probably not gonna go see “IT: Chapter Two” mainly because I still have not seen the first one. Although the cast is pretty nifty from what I have experienced. But I am interested in “The Goldfinch,” I have some slight intrigue towards “The Report,” and maybe I’ll check out “Abominable.” I saw one of the trailers for it, and it looks like it might not be a new animated classic or anything, but I am somewhat curious to check it out, partially because even as an adult, I still have a slight need to check out animations from time to time. Plus, it is from DreamWorks, and I’m currently trying to seek out their next big thing. “Kung Fu Panda” is done, “How to Train Your Dragon” seems to be done, maybe this, or something else, can be their next kickstarter to a solid franchise. Then again, apparently they’re making sequels to “The Boss Baby,” “The Croods,” and “Trolls,” so why should I expect absolute quality? Nevertheless, it’s worth a shot.

Although if you had to ask me what my most anticipated movie would be for the month of September, it’s a no brainer, “Ad Astra.” I love space, I love compelling, dramatic stories involving space travel, even if it is close to Earth. Plus, the second half of the year for numerous ages of my life have typically contained at least one epic space movie. Maybe “Ad Astra” will be the next to join the ranks with other movies from this decade like “The Martian” and “Interstellar.”

 

OCTOBER:

This October is pretty interesting to me, because there will be a weekend where my mother and sister are out of the house and I will quite honestly, need something to do. I can’t just stay trapped behind walls! I have to see the world! Nevertheless, that particular weekend is the release of “Joker,” which I am inevitably going to check out no matter what, but for the sake of having an early review, I’m going to check it out as soon as possible. I have Fridays off from school this upcoming semester, maybe I’ll do it then. The following week is the release of Will Smith’s “Gemini Man,” directed by Ang Lee, so I might see that. And the week after is slightly bigger because Taika Waititi is coming out with his latest directorial feature, “Jojo Rabbit,” where believe it or not, Waititi himself plays Hitler. I never pictured that, but this film certainly has my attention. That same week is also the release of “Zombieland: Double Tap.” I had fun with the first “Zombieland.” I enjoyed the chemistry between Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson, and it has, at least to me, a pure highlight from Bill Murray’s acting career. And to my surprise, he’s coming back for this movie! I also want to check out “The Aeronauts” which is being released by Amazon, and the reason why I want to check it out is because it is Amazon’s first attempt at an IMAX run and it is also being released a week early in that format. The film will technically be in standard theaters in November after it’s week-long IMAX run. And if this is the case, this reminds me of the excitement I had for Robert Zemeckis’ “The Walk,” because that released a week early in IMAX and that was quite an experience.

Speaking of lesser known films, one other thing I want to check out is the South Korean flick “Parasite.” It’s getting tons of buzz at film festivals, having earned Palme d’Or at Cannes, winning the Sydney Film Festival, and already making tons of money in Korea. The film’s US release is this October, which would put it in a reasonable spot to be remembered by Academy and Golden Globe voters.

 

NOVEMBER:
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This November is particularly interesting. Because November 1st is the day I’m heading off to Providence for Rhode Island Comic Con, and that’s the day after Halloween! I’m not cosplaying (at least I have no plans to right now) at this con, but I just want to walk around the convention floor for hours and stumble upon every costumed individual and wish them a Happy Halloween. Nevertheless, I am staying true to my annual tradition of going to Rhode Island Comic Con. The guest list is usually filled to the brim, so I cannot wait to hear more announcements over these upcoming months. Even so, the convention has had some huge announcements for guests thus far. Some guests include Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy, Blade Runner 2049), William Shatner (Star Trek: The Original Series, Boston Legal), George Takei (Star Trek: The Original Series, Kim Possible), Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead, Final Space), and to my utter surprise, and possible delight, Chevy Chase. By the way, Chase made an announcement about his upcoming appearance online and the video he made for it is very funny.

Sticking to the announcement wishlist concept, I recently made a submission on the con’s website suggesting names of five possible guests that I want to see. They include: James Murray, Curtis Armstrong, Kunal Nayyar, Doug Walker, and James Holzhauer. I could be mistaking Doug Walker for somebody else, but even if I am, he would be fun to see at the con. Of all these names, the one that really stands out to me is James Holzhauer. Out of all the people on this list, he is the least “celebrity-like” of all of them. James Murray comes close, but barely misses the mark. For those who are unaware, Holzhauer is the name of the recent “Jeopardy!” contestant who wouldn’t stop taking the show’s money. He has nearly broken Ken Jennings’ regular winnings record, only to be stopped by an opponent who beat him by more than double his final total for the game he lost. I think Holzhauer appearing at Rhode Island Comic Con would not just be unique, but also entirely appropriate. After all, it would probably bring in a new audience of people who would otherwise skip out on cons. Plus, as a game show enthusiast, I cannot help but keep talking about Holzhauer like he’s my own child. It’s almost as if being able to catch the latest “Jeopardy!” episode or at least reading up on the latest stats was the ultimate bragging right. Also, this year I’m going with a VIP ticket, which comes with various perks.

VIP Ticket Perks:

  • 3 day admission
  • Early bird admission (9AM Sat & Sun)
  • Private VIP Entrance
  • Private VIP Lounge
  • 3 Exclusive RI Comic Con Show Prints
  • Rhode Island Comic Con Swag Bag
  • 20% off RICC Branded Merchandise
  • Exclusive VIP 2019 RI Comic Con Badge
  • Exclusive RICC AR Comics-Comic Book
  • Exclusive RICC Comic Book
  • VIP Autograph Fast Pass Line
  • VIP Photo Op Fast Pass Line
  • Chance to Win 2020 VIP Pass
  • One Exclusive Mystery Item

I am personally excited for the con, and believe it or not, it is not the first time I’m getting a VIP badge, because the first time I went, which was in 2015, I managed to get said badge as well.

That same weekend is also the release of the new “Terminator” film, “Terminator: Dark Fate.” It is a cliche title, but its first trailer, personally had me intrigued. I’m excited to see what Tim Miller has up his sleeve in terms of direction. I am somewhat excited to see James Cameron involved again, although I am slightly worried because we now have more disposable “Terminator” movies than memorable “Terminator” movies. Let’s just hope we can change that.

Some of my other most anticipated films of the month include “Ford v. Ferrari,” “Knives Out,” and “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” “Ford v. Ferrari” takes place during a race to determine which of the two recently specified car brands will dominate. “Knives Out” is an upcoming mystery crime film directed by Rian Johnson. I did not like his interpretation of the “Star Wars” universe, but it does not mean I am not willing to check out his future work. Plus, this movie has a number of big names that I imagine a lot of people would like to see. Some include Daniel Craig (Casino Royale, Logan Lucky), Chris Evans (Captain America: The First Avenger, Gifted), Lakeith Stanfield (Black Panther, Sorry To Bother You), Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049, War Dogs), Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween, Scream Queens), the world’s best Kevin Spacey impersonator, Christopher Plummer (All the Money in the World, A Beautiful Mind), and recent Jackoff winner Toni Collette (Hereditary, The Sixth Sense). As for “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” it is in the current conversation to be my most anticipated film for the remainder of the year. For one thing, I saw “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” last year, which much like “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” is about Mister Rogers. That documentary not only compelled me, but reminded me of my personal flaws in my childhood, and maybe inspired me to be a better person. I still rage out on this blog a lot, but it’s something that I don’t really do for me, I do it for the entertainment of others, so that’s different. But it reminded me of how much it pays to respect those around you. Plus, TOM HANKS IS PLAYING THE STARRING ROLE?! Who else could do that?! He’s practically the nicest guy in Hollywood! SIGN ME UP! Believe it or not, that comes out the same weekend as “Frozen II,” but who cares about that?! Rogers for life!

 

DECEMBER:

The end of the year is always a crazy time for me, but just like last year, it’ll perhaps be less busy than it has been in other years. My fall semester will end during the month, and I’ll be in the cycle of watching previous movies from the year at home. This does not mean that I’ll be skipping theatrical releases, because award season is in full swing. This means I’ll be paying extra close attention to films that receive Golden Globe nominations, and as for reviewing movies I watch at home, the chances of that are very slim. But this does not mean that big blockbusters are entirely off the table. For one thing, they tend to sometimes do pretty well in certain technical categories, and we have another “Star Wars” film this year. I have intentions to go see “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” opening Thursday night, mainly because I want to buy tickets as early as possible. If I can’t do that, I am going to try extra hard to find an available press screening, because aside from “Endgame,” “The Rise of Skywalker” is perhaps the biggest movie of 2019. Aside from being titled “Star Wars,” it is supposed to end “The Skywalker Saga,” and J.J. Abrams is directing again. I was not a huge fan of “The Last Jedi,” but I love “The Force Awakens” like it is my own brother. I am honestly more excited for “The Rise of Skywalker” than I was for “The Last Jedi” before that came out because I was somewhat worried that “The Last Jedi” would be a carbon copy of “The Empire Strikes Back.” Turns out it wasn’t, despite similarities to older films in the saga. And I even say this knowing how some things in “The Last Jedi” turned out. Having seen the trailer back in April, knowing certain plot points that could play out, and realizing J.J. Abrams could save this sequel trilogy, I am rather giddy for this December. But despite my excitement, I gotta ask. HOW IS PALPATINE STILL ALIVE?! I am excited to possibly see him in this film, but really?! When he was thrown down the pit in “Return of the Jedi,” yeeaah, HE F*CKING DIED. There is no coming back from that. I’m intrigued, I just need to be convinced.

When it comes to smaller films, one such film I am very excited for is “Little Women.” The film is supposed to explore the lives of sisters as they live in 1860s Massachusetts. It may not be my type of movie on paper, but one reason why I am excited is because the film is being directed by Greta Gerwig, who also helmed one of the best coming of age stories I have seen in recent years, “Lady Bird.” In addition to that, the cast is killer! This movie’s got Meryl Streep (Sophie’s Choice, The Iron Lady), Emma Watson (Beauty and the Beast, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone), Laura Dern (Big Little Lies, Jurassic Park), Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird, Mary Queen of Scots), and Timothée Chalamet (Interstellar, Beautiful Boy)! I am also probably going to be looking into “1917,” which is a war film. Those tend to often go for awards, which is why I have my sights set on it. There are a couple films that I might check out that I would probably regret seeing, but the only real film that I’d struggle with reviewing is “Fair and Balanced.” Granted, this does not mean I am not looking forward to the film, nor am I expecting to be underwhelmed with it, in fact it sounds rather intriguing from a storytelling point of view. But the movie is about relationships between women and Fox News owner Roger Ailes, and I feel that it is going to be rather hard to keep my political opinions out of the review. I’m not saying I am a core conservative that keeps a closed mind, I try to see all sides and then form my own opinion. I have made various political jokes here and there on Scene Before, but politics is not my top priority, especially when you consider how divided we are as a country right now. Although I did manage to check out “Vice” last year, which was pretty good, but part of it had to do with the buzz it has been getting. Who knows? Maybe I’ll check out “Fair and Balanced,” for all I know it could be the best movie of the year, but I feel like it would be hard to review if I’m going to have to inject my experience with how the world operates in terms of politics. We’ll just have to see.

And of course, I’ll be finishing off the year, or perhaps more likely, kicking off next year, by recapping my top 10 BEST and WORST movies of 2019. I enjoy doing these countdowns every year, because I get to honor films one more time, and also give myself a minor stress release.

Although I must remind you, it is 2019, and here on Scene Before I am trying to constantly find new ways to deliver exciting content to you all. In 2017, I did a couple of cutaway style parodies, in 2018 I did a post talking about my Blu-ray collection, and just this year I introduced the world to the Jackoff Awards. The question is, where I do I go next? I’ve done tons of countdowns, reviews of the past, reviews of the present, what could be next? I know! ALL OF IT IN ONE. Ladies and gentlemen, if you have been following Scene Before and saw one of my posts in April, you’d know that I put out a trailer for something I once referred to as “Project 2020.” Although, based on statistics, I doubt many of you have even glanced at that post. But for those of you who know what I’m talking about, good for you. You get a “good job” sticker! But for those of you who don’t know, watch this trailer down below!

*ALL COPYRIGHTS BELONG TO THEIR RESPECTIVE OWNERS*

That’s right! I am going to be crafting a list of my highlight movies of the 2010’s, and I must have you know, I am setting this list up to be bigger than the lists I traditionally do at the end of the year. While this is still in planning stages, I will be intending to make this list perhaps a top 25, maybe a top 50. I was also debating on a top 100 as well. Depends on how much time I have. I am honestly MORE THAN EXCITED to work on this list, and release it to you all. I started Scene Before in 2016, which means I did not get too many chances to talk about films from years prior, so not only is this a personal reflection of various films I watched during my blogging journey, but a reflection of an entire ten year span that I lived through before becoming this active on the Internet. I’m not gonna say anything, but 2014 was a great year for film as far I’m concerned, so depending on how the rest of 2019 plays out, we might see a good number of films I’m passionate about from that year make the list. This is not to put down any other year from this decade, I’m just giddy of what’s to come…

And by the way, a worst list is in the works too.

At home I am making an effort to watch various films that have come out this decade just to catch up, and maybe add something to the best or worst list at the end of the year. I’m not gonna get into too much detail, because I do want to save some secrets for when the list comes out, but I am stoked just to be working on this.

Thanks for reading this post! If you like Scene Before and want to see more content, consider following me either with an email or WordPress account! As for upcoming content, I want to remind everyone, in case they forgot by now, I will soon be starting my Quentin Tarantino review series, which will eventually culminate with a review either at the end of July or beginning of August with my thoughts on “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” I cannot wait to get started on this, Tarantino is a filmmaker I have often admired behind the scenes, but I have barely seen any of his material. Now is a good time to start! Also, be sure to check out my Facebook page! Get your latest updates from the movie reviewing moron by using Facebook, the home of some of the all-time laziest efforts at wishing someone a happy birthday. Be sure to stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, is there something that you would like to see be done here on Scene Before, perhaps for this half of 2019? Or, what is your favorite Scene Before moment, post, anything that I have done so far this year? It can even be this one for all I care! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Toy Story 4 (2019): Wait… This Got Made? Thanks, Pixar!

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“Toy Story 4” is directed by Josh Cooley (Inside Out, Up) and stars Tom Hanks (Cast Away, Sully), Tim Allen (Last Man Standing, Home Improvement), Annie Potts (Ghostbusters, Pretty In Pink), Tony Hale (Arrested Development, Chuck), Keegan Michael-Key (Keanu, Tomorrowland), Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us), Madeleine McGraw (Ant-Man and the Wasp, Cars 3), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men, The Neon Demon), Keanu Reeves (The Matrix, John Wick), Ally Maki (Wrecked, Cloak & Dagger), Jay Hernandez (Suicide Squad, Bad Moms), Lori Alan (Family Guy, SpongeBob SquarePants), and Joan Cusack (Say Anything, Saturday Night Live). This is the fourth installment to the “Toy Story” franchise, not to mention what I once considered to be one of the most unnecessary films of all time. While I never explicitly made a full length post about it, I was extremely skeptical about how would turn out. Nevertheless, the film takes place some time after the toys’ transition from Andy to Bonnie, as seen in “Toy Story 3.” The film also explores Bonnie’s personal life as she makes a transition of her own. Simultaneously, we get to know a new “toy” by the name of Forky. Bonnie and her family also go on a road trip together, allowing for more adventures to ensue.

I’m not even joking when I say this, out of all the sequels, reboots, or remakes coming out these days, I DID NOT think “Toy Story 4” was going to be one of them. “Toy Story 3” was one of the most satisfying, lovable, and emotionally charging movies I have ever seen. It is by far one of Pixar’s best examples of quality work, and possibly worthy of having the best ending to any of their movies. Although then again, it’s tough to decide between that and “Wall-E.” It is also one of my favorite movies of 2010, alongside “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” and “Inception.” In fact, the trilogy itself is nearly perfect. “Toy Story” revolutionized animated technology and was able to prove that computer animation was the future. “Toy Story 2” was a worthy follow-up that was hilarious, and expands the lore of its main character. “Toy Story 3…” is the bomb. That’s all I have to say. And despite hearing some comments from stars like Tom Hanks suggesting how emotional the movie is, I was still a tad skeptical about what we were going to get. This movie, on paper, felt like an obvious cash grab by Disney. Specifically, one that purely exists for financial gain, and for no reason that could associate with compelling audiences. But more and more word of mouth happened be positive upon this film’s arrival. I became more excited. I don’t know how, but apparently I wanted to see this movie. So I went to a local AMC, bought tickets for a Dolby Cinema screening, and I went in, with a thinking cap on, but still hyped.

How was “Toy Story 4?” Tell ya what, it’s almost my favorite movie of the year. In fact, it might be my #2. The animated genre in general almost does not get better than this. The animation is almost lifelike in some scenes. In fact, there is a cat in this movie, even though my head knew this film was animated, it looked like something I would probably notice in real life. The amount of detail done by the artists behind this film is astounding. As for the film, the story was surprisingly well done! If you think the words “Toy Story 4” would have sounded like nothing else but a cash grab back in the day, imagine a movie where a spork happens to have a conscience. Imaginative? Maybe. Would it sell toys. Probably. But what’s the story? This movie took that plot and executed it better than one would execute a deep dish pizza in Chicago!

Seriously guys, Forky is a surprisingly good character. I love how they take the purpose of a toy and apply it to something that is an eating utensil! Its connection with Bonnie is sweet, and kind of made me feel bad for the character. You remember “Blade Runner 2049?” There tons of reasons why I love that movie, but one of them is Ana De Armas’ character, Joi. She is not a human, while she does take the design of a human technically, she’s actually a hologram. When you can convince me that your movie’s main character is in love with something he might as well have purchased, to the point that gets me as a viewer to crush on them, you know your movie might be doing something right. Forky is a gem if I have ever seen one, and he also might be the greatest throwaway character in movie history!

By the way, one of the film’s main plot points involves a connection between Woody and Forky. While their connection was not displayed for the entire film, I was pleased with what was presented in front of me. In fact, if I had to compare the relationship between this duo, it would perhaps be Pixar’s response to the relationship between George and Lennie in “Of Mice and Men.” You have Woody, who is practically trying to be this father figure to Forky, teaching him all the traditions of being a toy. As for Forky, while not exactly simple minded, he is terrified and has a completely different purpose than being played with.

And I will say, one thing that the other movies had that this one didn’t have, was much of Woody and Buzz together. I will point out, I am not as nostalgic towards “Toy Story” as other people. For me, my most nostalgic franchise from Pixar is likely to be “The Incredibles.” I imagine some people may consider this a hindrance on the film’s part, but if you ask me, I don’t care. While Woody and Buzz can definitely go together like bread and butter, I didn’t care that they weren’t together much because I was already enjoying the storyline involving Woody and Forky. Plus, Buzz has a storyline of his own that I happened to enjoy.

In fact, the only real problem that I have with this movie happens to be the humor. And when I say problem, I don’t mean catastrophe, I mean something that at times just didn’t work. I will say, this movie is funny, but not as funny as I was expecting. There were a number of chuckleworthy moments, but there are few moments that I’d consider kneeslappers. I won’t specify, but I’m almost surprised that I’m even saying this, because I know some people are pointing out that this is the funniest “Toy Story” film yet.

If you ask me, that’s not the case. While this may not be my definite answer, since it has been awhile since I have seen every installment of the franchise, “Toy Story 2” is probably the funniest. What other movie can you get a line like this?

Thank you, Pixar!

As for everything else, this movie doesn’t just rock, it rocks the world. From the United States, to the United Kingdom, to the United Arab Emirates, to the United Nations, to United Airlines, to the United–wait wait, let’s just go with Canada just for shiggles. Wait… Canada… that reminds me.

Let’s talk about Keanu f*cking Reeves! Keanu Reeves… Oh my gosh, his role in this movie just proves that he is getting so much better as an actor. I don’t know if he is accepting any script that comes his way nowadays, or if he is getting more fun material to work on. Wait… He did “Replicas.” I take that back. Keanu Reeves plays a toy that is supposed to be a Canadian stuntman. He’s energetic, charming, and he even has a surprising amount of layers to him. And I can imagine other actors playing him and doing a good job with the voicework, but the fact that Keanu Reeves managed to not only take on the role, but light my eyes up by doing it, just puts a cherry on top of the sundae! And while I will say Reeves is more entertaining in “John Wick: Chapter 3,” I’d currently say this may be his best movie of the year. AND THAT SAYS SOMETHING.

Speaking of characters, Bo Peep is back! And I will point out something, you know how I appreciate “Toy Story 2” because it goes into the lore of its main character? Well “Toy Story 4” happens to dive into lore involving the connection of Woody and Bo. I will also say, upon seeing Bo in the middle of this film, I could not help but feel slightly shocked on how she would display herself. And when it comes to her character, it’s almost like this movie is trying to present a feminist message. This is your reminder that I am a straight white male, and as a straight white male, I don’t mind these sorts of messages as long as they feel like they fit or have a purpose. And guess what? It works! I’m not confirming this movie has a feminist message, and I won’t go into why, but if that’s what the movie was going for, I think they did a pretty good job with it. If not a feminist message, it is at the least, a message about growing up and becoming an adult. One or the other.

And what this movie didn’t do for laughs, is honestly forgiven when you consider how close I got to releasing man tears. You know how “Toy Story 3” had a whole climax of emotion? “Toy Story 4” kicks off with that, and there are more instances throughout displaying a similar vibe. I don’t think it was as sad as “Toy Story 3” as a movie, but there are more scenes where I felt like a girl. Nevertheless, this movie does a fine job of balancing character development, emotion, and storylines to the point where I’d call it one of the best animated films I have seen in recent memory. In fact, the ending… HOLY S*IT. Another thing that “Toy Story 3” did better, but this came SO CLOSE to being the best ending in the franchise.

Let me also just remind you, this film is directed by Josh Cooley, and this just so happens to be his feature-length debut. Much like other films from this decade such as “Deadpool” and “Lady Bird,” “Toy Story 4” in regards to its director, Josh Cooley, is definitely going to be one hell of a debut to put on his resume. I cannot wait to see Cooley’s next full length feature, and if it’s from Pixar, I’m there. If it’s live-action, I’m there. If it has a budget of $50 max, I don’t care, Josh Cooley did one hell of a job with this movie that I just want to see more from him. By the way, I think credit should also go to the writers, everyone behind the story, maybe even, as much flak as I might get for saying this, John Lasseter (based on recent events). For all I know, he could have conceived the best ideas in this movie. I don’t know, I wasn’t there. The screenplay for this movie is one of the best of the year, even with the hit or miss humor. Go see this movie now! That’s all I can say!

In the end, “Toy Story 4” is in the conversation of being the worst “Toy Story” movie. But that is not saying much, because ALL OF THEM are great. Don’t just take it from me, because the lowest rating one of these movies possess from Rotten Tomatoes is in the nineties. Half of the movies in the franchise have a 100% verdict on that site! “Toy Story,” honestly, might be the most solid franchise ever. When was the last time a franchise with four films in it was this good? “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” came out, some say it nuked the franchise. “Star Wars” had its first prequel, and as time went on it didn’t turn out too well. “Alien: Resurrection” is considered by many fans to be one most inferior installments in the entire franchise. “Mission: Impossible” had less than satisfying films before its fourth one came out. Some would say “Jaws: The Revenge” killed shark movies. Others would say “Sharknado” BRUTALLY MURDERED shark movies. It’s really hard to think of another franchise like “Toy Story.” This just makes “Toy Story 4” a pure cinematic achievement. It’s proof that sometimes, even when the idea of having a sequel that could feel like a cash grab, maybe a sequel that could be a bit scary to create, it’s all worth it in the end. It’s nearly tearjerking, it’s fun, it’s adventurous, the characters, new and old, have earned my seal of approval. But if the humor were just a little bit better, this could have been a perfect movie. But don’t think that last comment is meant to bog this movie down, because it is funny, but it was not as funny as I would have wanted it to be. That’s just me, plus comedy is one of the most subjective things on the face of the Earth, chances are everyone reading this will love the comedy and that’s great. I would love to buy “Toy Story 4” when they release a 4K for it, I think it is up there as one of my favorites of the year, and I am going to give it a 9/10.

I will also point out a few things for those who are curious. There is no short film before this movie, and I would recommend staying for the credits. If you want me to be specific, there are five end credit scenes, and they do something pretty cool with the Pixar logo at the end. Thanks for reading this review! Next week I am going to see the upcoming comedy “Stuber” starring Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista. I got passes to an upcoming screening, so look forward to that review very soon. I also want to let everyone know that pretty soon I am going to be releasing a reflection of my first half of 2019 as well as a less than concrete (but also somewhat official) schedule for the second half of the year. It’s going to announce movies I’m potentially going to review, some new, some old, cons I am planning on going to, and a special event that I am going to be releasing at the beginning of 2020. This post will be up very soon, look forward to it! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Toy Story 4?” I’m willing to bet a lot of you did by now, because it is one of the biggest selling movies in the animation genre. Nevertheless, if you saw the movie, what did you think about it? Or, what is the most solid franchise to you? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Replicas (2018): Keanu Reeves’ Latest Glitch In the Matrix

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“Replicas” is directed by Jeffery Nachmanoff (Legends, Traitor) and stars Keanu Reeves (The Matrix, Point Break), Alice Eve (Star Trek: Into Darkness, Iron Fist), Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie), and John Ortiz (Kong: Skull Island, Silver Linings Playbook). This film is about a man who works for a scientific organization and despite some downs here and there, his life is good. That is until he gets into a traffic accident alongside his family. He’s the only one in the car to survive. From this moment, his primary focus is on resurrecting said family through means of science.

Keanu Reeves is one of the best actors working today. He is one of those actors who has allowed me to change my perception towards them in regards to range and talent. I am not saying I hated Keanu Reeves back in the day or anything, but having seen him in “The Matrix,” it was almost hard for me to think of Keanu as anyone else but Neo for a period of time. An occasionally emotionless being who might as well be the heroic equivalent of an Amazon Echo.

USER: Alexa, try to make the first jump.

ALEXA: Whoa.

Then I saw him in “John Wick,” and holy hell that was sick! And at this point, in 2019, I feel like not just myself, but the world, is having Keanu fever. Keanu… Reever? Keanu Feever? Whatever. The point is, Keanu Reeves is arguably more popular and hip than he’s ever been. If you told me back in the day that Keanu Reeves could make another popular trilogy after “The Matrix,” I’d laugh in your face, call you a dirty rotten liar, and steal your most valuable possessions at night.

But today, we are not talking about “John Wick,” partially because I just saw the third movie and reviewed it about a month ago, and the fact that I purchased a Blu-ray from Best Buy of a movie that I for one am well aware, did not get good reviews. But for the sake of reviewing more relevant movies (as in, ones that recently came out) on this blog, I figured I’d buy it and watch it. And unfortunately, it is just about as bad as I heard. Like, what the f*ck?! Why did Keanu Reeves do this? Did he lose a bet or something? Granted, all of the actors in this movie, at least from my perspective, did well with what lackluster material was provided. But this movie felt like it should have gone straight to Syfy or something. I have a feeling that the studio behind “Replicas,” probably would have wanted to put this out on DVD or something, maybe sell the rights to Netflix. But they had Keanu Reeves, who as suggested, is probably a bigger phenomenon right now than the “Baby Shark” song. Maybe Alice Eve had something to do with it, but yeeeaah… Keanu Reeves is the bomb right now.

And sadly, the movie WASTES him! When he’s at work, he’s this serious guy who is insanely focused and has a bond with Thomas Middleditch. In fact, this is shown during one of the first scenes where Keanu is testing out a robot. And when it comes to this robot, he kind of represents the upright position of a homo-sapien, which isn’t a bad design. Granted, some of it looks cliche, maybe a little boring, but it’s at most, serviceable. Although at the same time, maybe even that is a little too generous! Partially because I then saw this robot move, it did not look real! I did not buy it! When it’s trying to gain control, it felt like the movie was losing frames. Movies are traditionally shot in 24 frames per second, when this robot moved, it felt like 12. What is this? Is this a movie? Or is it an online video game on a slightly tolerable PC?

You know what? It’s neither! You know what it is? S*IT!

In fact, that’s not all! Keanu has to figure out a way to revive his family, without getting into certain major consequences. This leads to an enormously off-putting scene where we have to watch him impersonate his family and make up lies. He tells the school his children go to that the kids are now being home-schooled, he’s texting with his daughters’ friends, some of these things just feel like they could work on an “SNL” sketch if the vibe was appropriate, but in a movie that I guess I’m supposed to take somewhat seriously, it just didn’t work for me. I could tell that Keanu really loves his family in this film, but holy crap, some of the things he does is just out of left field.

In fact, as a story, the concept could have potential, but at times it felt awkward, maddening, and sadly, BOOORING. I’d rather watch a YouTube video of some guy in a hotel counting all of the bedbugs in all of the guestrooms! You’ve got uninteresting characters, barely passable pacing, moments that make me as a viewer angry, and a cliche corporate guy who loves money.

It’s really sad how generic some of things in this movie happen to be. Sure, the story is kind of an interesting concept, but you’ve got a standard looking robot that does not come off as great, you’ve got the definition of a “suburban family,” and a lot of the dialogue feels bland and wooden. The testing in this movie kind of reminded me of “Fant4stic” from 2015, BUT WORSE! Granted, I wouldn’t say “Fant4stic” is AS bad as other people say, in my opinion, but knowing some things about this movie and that movie, that is a good comparison. You’ve got your randomly placed together characters, cliche writing, and a couple moments that made me as an audience member feel dumber.

In fact, there is a point where this movie’s “main plot” if you can call it that, gets into full swing, and I think the only interesting thing that happened is when Keanu is with his kids. It’s a warm morning and the kids at one point want one particular breakfast portion and once they’re finished with that, they want another decent breakfast portion. That’s kind of fun and quirky, give me more of that! But no, this movie wants to be boring, and as I write this review, I’m almost having trouble figuring out what to say. Out of all the characters in this movie, barely any of them have a personality. As for those who do have a personality, they are either less than fascinating or ordinary. I think a ragdoll from “Garry’s Mod,” simply lying on the ground on a map could potentially be more compelling of a character than some of these people!

Does the movie know what it wants it be? Probably so. It probably wanted to be this compelling sci-fi flick that could show the power of family and connections. That’s probably what I wanted it to be. But it was nothing except garbage to me, just the honest truth! When the climax arrived, I practically checked out. I didn’t care what would happen to anyone! Everyone could die and I wouldn’t care! The world could mutate or something and everybody would turn into banana splits! I wouldn’t give a damn! For all I know we get a plot twist that the big corporate dude from the beginning of the movie was Jesus Christ in disguise! Why should I even pay attention?! It doesn’t matter! Just let the movie end!

In the end, “Replicas,” which came out in theaters, feels like a carbon copy of a flick that went straight to Syfy. Keanu Reeves, seriously! Are you poor? If you are, I apologize, I’ll send you a Nintendo Switch to keep you entertained, I’ll bring some food, and I’ll organize a GoFundMe page! But why did anyone agree to do this movie? All the actors must have been “Alright, *double clap* paycheck time.” Because this movie is not just the epitome of bad sci-fi, but also a January movie. It bombed at the box office, and it did so for good reason! If you want a good Keanu Reeves movie from this year, go see “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum.” I’m just glad I could actually say that since I waited until June to check this film out. But no matter what month you check “Replicas” out, you will wish you could die. Given how I would be fine going through the rest of my life not watching this movie again, and finding perhaps one or two minor positives overall, I am gonna give “Replicas” a 1/10. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that this upcoming weekend is the opening for “Toy Story 4.” I don’t know if I’ll be catching it this weekend, but it is on my to do list for sure. “Toy Story” is one of the best animated franchises out there, and even though I have been petrified for a long time on the thought of “Toy Story 4,” I kind of want to see it the more I hear about it. I don’t have my tickets yet, but I want to get them as soon as possible, so we’ll see what happens. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Replicas?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your least favorite Keanu Reeves film? I have not seen em’ all, so I cannot really say “Johnny Mnemonic.” This one is certainly a contender for me. My gosh, my brain cells are literally exiting my body! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019): He’s Knowin’ He’s Back

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“John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” is directed by Chad Stahelski (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Safe) and stars Keanu Reeves (Point Break, The Matrix), Halle Berry (Catwoman, Extant), Laurence Fishburne (Ant-Man and the Wasp, Ride Along), Mark Dacascos (Hawaii Five-0, Dancing with the Stars), Asia Kate Dillon (Orange Is the Black, Billions), Lance Reddick (Bosch, Fringe), Anjelica Huston (Tinker Bell, Transparent), and Ian McShane (Kung Fu Panda, American Gods). This film is the third installment in the extremely kick-ass “John Wick” franchise, where Keanu Reeves comes up with new, inventive ways of annihilating people. And it’s f*cking awesome. In this fast-paced, killer installment, John Wick has a multi-million dollar price tag on his head. Throughout the film, he must survive at every turn, and avoid every hitman/hitwoman in New York and beyond.

I have a pretty good relationship with the “John Wick” franchise thus far. While I may not enjoy the franchise as much as some other people, I am most certainly able to recognize its stance in the film industry today. In a time where many action flicks tend to have editing jobs where each fight/battle sequence tend to cut at the same speed at which Usain Bolt can run, “John Wick” is a breath of fresh air. It is a franchise that I adore for its frequent attempts to shoot long takes featuring badass, raw choreography on attention-grabbing setpieces. The lighting in some scenes from “John Wick” really gives a sense of some s*it going down, and I think it translated to another action movie I like from this decade, specifically “Atomic Blonde” starring Charlize Theron. Then again, that should not be too surprising because one of the co-directors behind the original “John Wick,” David Leitch, eventually went on to direct “Atomic Blonde.”

And when it comes to “John Wick: Chapter 3” in terms of anticipation, it grew like a weed. While “John Wick: Chapter 2” was not the best movie of 2017 (although it was good enough to get an honorable mention in my end of the year countdown), the ending seemed to have promised something big in this franchise’s future. Therefore, I began to have high expectations that I thought this installment would potentially deliver upon. And deliver it did! “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” may just be the best “John Wick” movie yet. Granted, I may need some time to marinate, partially because I just saw the movie. But having seen it, this had two hours of superb action, compelling characters, and stakes that I rarely feel in movies nowadays. But I will say, the movie’s not perfect, and this is a minor problem, perhaps one that I could eventually take back, but it’s a problem nevertheless.

“John Wick” is a great franchise. It’s not for everyone, but I think it is definitely up there with my personal favorite action-oriented franchises. But much like other franchises such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “John Wick: Chapter 3” could slightly differ in a final verdict for those who are not as highly exposed to the franchise compared to more avid viewers. I feel my connection with “John Wick,” my anticipation for this movie, and the fact that I recall how “John Wick: Chapter 2” ended all contribute to my partial joy towards what was happening on screen. Because if you’re like me, chances are you saw the end of “John Wick: Chapter 2,” and felt that there were promises to be kept. If you have not seen “John Wick: Chapter 2” at this point, and I am mainly referring to the ending when I bring this up. I would still recommend “John Wick: Chapter 3,” but I am willing to bet your experience will be enhanced having background knowledge on John Wick’s character.

Speaking of John Wick, let’s just talk about him. Just when you think he cannot continue to find new ways to be the most insane ass-kicker in movie history, you would be proven DEAD wrong. In fact, I saw this movie with my dad and we came out agreeing that he and I basically witnessed the club scene from the original installment multiple times in this film. Regardless of what you may think of this movie as a story, there is no denying that John Wick, or Keanu Reeves, as an action star, is nothing short of sick. It is some of the most intense action I have witnessed in a movie in a long time, and I would recommend watching this movie on the biggest screen possible just for that. When that 4K Blu-ray comes out, I might need to blast the volume on my television!

Although at the same time, John Wick is not the only badass in this movie, because he is accompanied by Halle Berry, who much like Wick, has tricks of her own when it comes to action. Sadly though, I wouldn’t say from a story perspective, that I had much of a reason to care about her character. There was one moment in the film where I actually did, but it’s just a single moment, nothing more. Still, props to Halle Berry and the crew behind the film for making her come off as a force to be reckoned with.

But speaking of forces to be reckoned with, you know how in the first “John Wick” that the main character did what he did in that film because of the loss of his puppy? I had no idea on how prominent dogs would be in this franchise. I say that because as one who usually fears dogs, I could not help but appreciate what this movie did with them. You think Keanu Reeves and Halle Berry know how to kick ass? BRING ON THE F*CKING DOGS! This movie might now have my favorite scene featuring a dog (maybe aside from Up)! I will not go into much detail, but when you turn an animal associated with cuteness into something along the lines of a speedy great white shark, I cannot help but appreciate it. I’ll savor the flavor for you all, but look forward to this. I almost want to sit someone down who would probably usually avoid action movies and market this to them saying “Oh, it’s family flick with dogs in it, you’ll enjoy it!” I kind of want to see their reaction.

And as usual, the direction in this movie when it comes to action is spot on. There’s tons of spectacular setpieces, along with the thousands of sick, but realistic moves done by many of the movie’s characters. The film was shot on location, which I love, it added to the immersion factor that I love seeing in movies nowadays. And as usual, the camera only cuts when necessary, it doesn’t have ADHD, each displayed shot takes its time before moving onto the next. This movie, just like the first two “John Wick” films, is how you do action, and I might just think that this film might be the best in the franchise when it comes to action. However, when it comes to story and character development, it falls flat at a couple points. In fact, this movie partially reminds me of “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” because the beginning and end are pure adrenaline-rushes on their own. But the middle portion of the movie tends to slow down, and gives its audience a moment to breathe. It’s not really the highlight of the film, but it does feature a moment that is kind of shocking. Look forward to it.

In the end, “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” is everything that an R-rated, white-knuckled action flick is supposed to be. Interesting characters (despite some of my prior criticisms), great sequences, surprises, stakes you can feel, and mind-blowing shots. There’s actually a shot in the film that sort of reminded me of “Skyfall” when the movie takes place in Shanghai. If you have seen that movie and gotten yourself to the theater to witness “John Wick: Chapter 3,” you might know what I’m talking about. Again, is the story perfect? It’s not, it definitely serves the purpose well for the most part, but there are minor flaws. Although if I had to judge “John Wick: Chapter 3” simply based on action, this might be a 10/10. But still, as of right now, I still have to marinate, but this is my favorite installment in the “John Wick” franchise thus far, and I’m going to give “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” a 9/10. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to make an announcement to you all that I am reaching 300 posts pretty soon, and I already have a plan for what I’m going to do on that. I have decided like for my last number milestone post, I would show off my Blu-ray collection. But I’m actually going to present it in a different way than last time. I’ll have the post up as soon as possible, and I cannot wait to share it with you all. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite installment in the “John Wick” franchise? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!