Little Women (2019): Call Me “March” Like You Said You Would

mv5by2qzytqyyzitmzawyi00yjzllthjntutnzmymddkyzjinwm4xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtkxnjuynq4040._v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_

“Little Women” is directed by Greta Gerwig (Isle of Dogs, Lady Bird) and stars Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird, Mary Queen of Scots), Emma Watson (Beauty and the Beast, The Circle), Florence Pugh (Midsommar, Fighting with my Family), Eliza Scanlen (Home and Away, Sharp Objects), Laura Dern (Marriage Story, Star Wars: The Last Jedi), Timothée Chalamet (Beautiful Boy, Interstellar), Meryl Streep (The Post, Sophie’s Choice), Tracy Letts (The Lovers, The Post), Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad, Incredibles 2), James Norton (Happy Valley, Flatliners), Louis Garrel (The Dreamers, Redoubtable), and Chris Cooper (The Amazing Spider-Man 2, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood). This film is based on the book of the same name conceived by Louisa May Alcott, which has been adapted and brought to other mediums in the past, and this is another attempt to make a film out of it. The story of “Little Women” follows the lives of the March sisters, four women who are determined to live life on their own terms.

Apparently, this is one of multiple adaptations of “Little Women.” However, just a fair warning, I have never read the book, and I never witnessed any other adaptation of the IP. So this film took my “Little Women” virginity. I probably would have gone to see this film earlier, but due to time constraints, other films getting in the way, not to mention missing out on an opportunity to go to an advance screening, I just couldn’t get around to “Little Women” until now. In fact, the reason why I am watching “Little Women” at this point is to get caught up on this year’s Academy Award nominations, specifically Best Picture. Upon hearing which films were announced for the category, I have seen each one except “Little Women,” so I took today,  perhaps my least busy day of the week, and took the subway to a non-profit theater that way I could go watch the movie in 35mm film. I figured if I wanted to watch a Best Picture nominee, I might as well commit.

Sadly, I don’t feel like that commitment has worked out. I will be honest, I was kind of disappointed with “Little Women.” I would like to just point out, I admire Greta Gerwig as a filmmaker. I think she knocked it out of the park with her 2017 feature-length directorial debut, “Lady Bird.” Although if I had to compare “Little Women” to “Lady Bird” and my desire to go back and watch them again, it would be like comparing odds of finding a Chick-fil-A in a casino or a slot machine in a casino. Even though I have seen “Lady Bird” once, it would probably associate more with the slot machine. It’s a jackpot! As for “Little Women,” I might chicken out after a little while.

Now… Don’t think I am nagging on “Little Women” calling it a disaster. It is by no means the worst movie of all time, it just has problems is all. In fact, “Little Women,” in terms of direction, shines. I feel like in terms of a director wanting to get THEIR vision out to the public, “Little Women’s” Greta Gerwig succeeded at such a task more so than a good number of other filmmakers this year. A lot of the cinematography done by Yorick Le Saux is beautiful and totally stands out through the 35mm print shown at my screening. Alexandre Desplat’s score is great and fits the vibe! I also like the idea of not only shooting the film on location, but shooting it around the area where Louisa May Alcott wrote the “Little Women” book, Concord, Massachusetts. It provided for some of the most gorgeous scenery of 2019’s cinematic year and some of the better production design for said cinematic year. A lot of the scenes in the film are wonderfully realized and jump off the screen. Too bad the movie’s kind of boring.

Don’t get me wrong, the movie starts out fine. In fact, the first two thirds are somewhat interesting. The characters, not to mention the actors who play them, are not half bad. I felt the chemistry between pretty much every single character, which may have been the most necessary requirement for this film, because if I did not believe in the chemistry between the sisters, then why should I care? Amazingly, I got to a point where I did not care. I say that because even though this film is one of the better technical pieces of the year, I think pacing-wise, it suffers. I like the idea of these women dealing with their separate and collective issues, and there are some scenes that were in a word, capital! I will not go into detail, because despite having seen a trailer, I am not sure how much this film revealed beforehand. But I think one of this film’s bigger challenges, from a screenplay and directing perspective is meshing together all of these characters’ individual journeys and having a viewer like me care about all of it without it feeling a tad like a mess. Unfortunately, the film dives into the messy territory. “Little Women” honestly feels ten, twenty, maybe even thirty minutes longer than its runtime, specifically 2 hours and 15 minutes. For reference, I watched “Marriage Story” in the theater at the end of the previous December, which was 2 hours and 17 minutes. “Marriage Story” honestly somehow feels shorter than “Little Women.” To add onto this, I remember staying throughout the entire credits during “Marriage Story.” On the other hand, I left part of the way through “Little Women’s” credits.

I almost wonder if “Little Women” is one of those films that could get better through a rewatch, that way I can just concentrate closely on each character and maybe care about them with an all new point of view, but after watching this film for the first time, I don’t see much else of a reason to watch it once more. I have never been interested in the book, I have never sought out any other adaptation of this material, and in case you must know, and maybe this is affecting my thoughts on the film a little bit, I am not really in the target audience for “Little Women.” As far as I know, “Little Women” was never originally written for me, so I may not have the perspective that many of its targets would. I think actors like Saoirse Ronan, Laura Dern, and Timothée Chalamet do a fine job with their roles and suit their characters well, pretty much to the point where I don’t imagine anybody else portraying them. I also think the costumes in the movie are some of the finest and most sophisticated costumes in a 2019 film. “Little Women” has a lot of good qualities to it, but several things keep me from wanting to go back and watch it again. I am honestly shocked to say all of this, because I didn’t hate the trailer that I saw for this film, and I had faith in Greta Gerwig. To be clear, she did a good job with the direction, but had a few things been handled better, I think this could have been a damn fine vision, not to mention a better movie.

Plus, another thing to consider is this… I already mentioned that I am not the target audience. So I have to ask everyone reading a question and this may be important. First off, if you have seen 2019’s “Little Women,” what are your thoughts on it? Also, if you have seen any other material related to the “Little Women” IP, what are your experiences in relation to that? Was what you saw pretty good? Bad? Middle of the road? I’ll even ask this classic question, was this movie better than the book? Let me know!

In the end, “Little Women” is one of the bigger disappointments of a film that I have witnessed in recent memory. If you have followed this blog recently, you may know that I reviewed “Cats” because I apparently have ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD to watch “Cats.” When I reviewed “Cats,” I called it the most competent borefest of a film released in its particular year. “Little Women” was released in the same year as “Cats,” specifically 2019, and there is an argument that I could make from my end that “Little Women” may dethrone “Cats” to earn such a title. It’s gorgeous, beautiful, not to mention vibrant. As a production, it is a feast for the eyes. But the eyes need to do more than stare at pretty things for a couple of hours. Had the movie maintained the promising pacing and kept me as interested as I was during the first couple of acts, I would still recommend “Little Women” to a lot more people. Of the movies the Academy nominated for Best Picture this year, “Little Women” is honestly my least preferred. But to be honest, based on the positives outweighing the negatives for this film FOR NOW, I am going to give “Little Women” a 6/10. This film is no “Lady Bird,” and I’ll be honest, for everyone who is upset about Greta Gerwig not getting nominated for Best Director, I get it. But personally, gender is not a topic I am associating with how I view nominations, but that’s just me, I think a display of talent regardless of gender, should come first, doesn’t mean I want to start an online war about it. Although I will be honest, all the chosen nominees, to me, were better in terms of vision fulfillment, technical choices, not to mention creating an overall better movie, at least for the most part on some of these direction-related requirements. And if you want my two cents, I do have a recommendation for a great 2019 film directed by a woman. If you haven’t already, go watch “Honey Boy,” it’s gonna be on Prime soon and I highly recommend it!

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that I am going to be heading back to college next week, and hopefully it does not affect my consistent content release schedule. But maybe before I go back, I am planning on watching one more movie. Maybe I’ll watch more than one, but I didn’t want to end this post without mentioning “The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson,” directed by Daniel Farrands. As of right now, this film is not playing anywhere near me, although it did get a release in theaters. And if this sounds somewhat familiar, this film is from the director of the 2019 abomination, “The Haunting of Sharon Tate.” I just want to say… I MIGHT sacrifice my soul and watch this movie. For those of you who have seen my worst of the 2010s list know that “The Haunting of Sharon Tate” earned a spot pretty high on the list. I’m just curious to know if “The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson” is somehow any worse. If I watch this movie, please wish me luck! I might need it! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! If you want to leave a like or comment (if your account is eligible), please do so! It really helps me out! Also, please check out my Facebook page and spread the word about Flicknerd and Scene Before on social! I want to know, did you see “Little Women?” What did you think about it? Or, of the 2020 Best Picture nominees from the Academy, which is your favorite? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Marriage Story (2019): A Child of Divorce Gives His Two Cents

mv5bzgvmy2rjndgtmtc3yy00ymy0ltgwodityzbjnwjhntrlyjdkxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjm4ntm5ndy40._v1_sy1000_cr006751000_al_

“Marriage Story” is directed by Noah Baumbach (The Meyerowitz Stories, Francis Ha) and stars Adam Driver (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote) and Scarlett Johansson (Iron Man 2, Lucy) as a couple who are going through a divorce. This film dives into the events that unfold as the once married couple try to move on with their lives, work, and whether or not they get to see their own kid again.

Earlier this week, I could have stayed home, turned on Netflix, and watched not one, but two films already on the service! But, I like the theatrical experience, so I went to see both “The Irishman,” which I enjoyed, and then that was followed by this film right here! I went into this film knowing little about the material itself. I know it involves heavy dialogue, and based on the plot, it’s a serious situation. I was also made aware of various positive verdicts beforehand, therefore I had rather high expectations. Plus, it’s got Adam Driver, a fine actor who may have ended up being the best part of the new “Star Wars” trilogy. Alongside Driver is Scarlett Johansson who I, unashamedly, consider to be a celebrity crush. I think both actors are great and to see them together is a dream I did not even realize I had.

I was not even sure if I was going to watch this movie, because as much as I am beginning to appreciate Netflix’s efforts to expand itself into the realm of cinema, even to the point where even Martin Scorsese has considered Netflix to be more cinematic than Marvel, I don’t pay for their streaming service and I am not that invested in the company. Again, when it comes to media consumption, I’m kind of a dinosaur, I can’t help myself. That, and this award season has kept me pretty busy with films like “Uncut Gems,” “Knives Out,” “Jojo Rabbit,” and more. Well that, and blockbusters like “The Rise of Skywalker.” I still haven’t even seen “Queen & Slim” yet! That’s how busy I have been with this blog!

I have waited a little while to talk about this movie, keeping in mind that it has been since Monday since I walked out of the theater. With that being said, I was focused on getting my review out for “The Irishman,” which does not necessarily mean I wanted to delay my review for this movie, but with Christmas and other projects getting in my way, I am getting my thoughts out later than I expected, so I do apologize. Again, I walked out of the theater after seeing this film this past Monday. How did I feel then?

One word. NUMB.

HOLY F*CKING F*CK I FELT NUMB.

This movie captured perhaps everything I wanted it to capture and more. “Marriage Story” is an emotional, enthralling, not to mention exciting piece of art that did pretty much everything it needed to do. I walked out of this film not exactly in tears, but I did walk out feeling like my skin had gone through a paper shredder. It can remind you of how unbearable the idea of divorce really is from all sides.

Now I think I have a somewhat interesting perspective regarding this film. Okay… Maybe not, depending on how you look at it. I’ll have to do more concrete research, but I often remind myself of the statistic that flies around regarding how over 50% of marriages end in divorce. That’s what happened to my parents when I was 13 years old, they announced their separation, and it took them quite awhile from that point for a full divorce to finally occur, but it happened. And I felt a part of my life had been destroyed. I am not joking. Look, have I adapted to a situation where I was able to live with one parent? You betcha. But behind the skin that conceals my mind, there was a part of me that wanted my mother and father living together. It just felt like the natural thing. Even at twenty years old, it is still something I beg for. I know it is a situation that is beyond my control, and if I were to interfere, I would probably be facing a head dunk in the toilet at best, or a fatality at worst. But this movie reminded me of everything in my life from my teen years to today.

I still live with my mother. So… Hit me up girls. You’ll find me very charming. For the record, I love my mother. I am eternally thankful that she is in my life. But not having a father figure in my life all the time is something that I feel has slightly diminished me as a person. I had no brothers, and even though some of you might think this is progressive or cool, most of the people I knew in my life, at least when this whole divorce thing first started, happened to be women. I felt like I could barely surround myself with anyone I knew. As if there were anyone in school that wanted to hang out with me. I still surrounded myself in activities that guys my age would typically enjoy. Video games, Internet surfing, and of course, film. But when it comes to people I could relate to who could take part in certain activities that others in my family or social circles wouldn’t really take part in, it would be dad. Did he want to do every single thing with me? I would not say yes, there’s a good chance that he had better things to do from time to time, but I felt there was a sense of brotherhood between us.

This is why I have forever feared “replacements.” I think some people at my age would have understood what I am talking about. When my parents separated, it seems that my mother did not usually have much trouble finding a date. I mean, she’s an amazing woman, why wouldn’t she? Why wouldn’t any guy want her? But whenever my mother got close with someone she dated, I was worried because that equated to certain transitions that I would have to adapt to whether I liked it or not. There also may have been a possibility that there was something about the person she dated that I felt would affect the way I grew up. Maybe I would have someone in my life that I am supposed to see as “my parent,” but a certain part of my brain would keep me from doing such a thing. There’s only one “mom” and “dad” for me, and I am thankful to have them both in my life, even if they are apart. But this movie sort of took me back to my childhood struggles. There is a certain event in this film that felt all too real for me.

Now I am going to avoid spoilers as much as I can, but I am going to dive a bit deep into this film as I talk about what happens during Halloween. This is not something that has happened to me personally. Partially because I never trick or treated when my parents got divorced, but with that in mind, there is a part of the movie that takes place during Halloween, where the parents decide at one point to have “two Halloweens.” The mother takes the kid out for a period of time, and then it’s dad’s turn. By the way, the kid’s name is Henry, and he is played by Azhy Robertson and he does a fine job in this movie.

I have never been in the situation where I had to have two Halloweens, but I imagine that I am not alone when I have to note that I celebrate “multiple Christmases” every year for now on. Now, prior to the divorce, I have celebrated Christmas at multiple venues for both sides of the family at different times. And as much as I continue to enjoy Christmas every year, including this past year, I found that it sort of deteriorates the specialty of the holiday. There are a lot of things in life that I would like to have more than one of during the year. Of course I’ll take multiple “Star Wars” related holidays! May the fourth be with you, and I shall have my revenge of the fifth! I would love to have more than one Marvel movie within a number of months! As long as they make them as good as they are at this point, I’d say they should keep crankin’ them out! But Christmas is that one day of the year that maybe in my childhood I looked forward to more than most others. Even though I still find Christmas to be unbelievably fun, I still long for the days of togetherness between the family I once knew. The very idea of this double Halloween alone brought such thoughts to my mind.

But I will say, the events of this divorce in this movie does not play out like it did in my life. In fact, why should it? If it did, then all divorces would supposedly be the same to me, making life very boring. One thing I will say that I sort of related to is the idea that maybe I would have a favorite parent. I think about that a lot less today, mainly because I am doing whatever I can to rely less on my parents and focus more on myself. But this movie does a really good job at highlighting the less than pleasant chemistry between Charlie, the father, and his kid Henry. There are some moments where the movie flat out reveals Henry’s love and affection for his mother, Nicole, that I clearly did not see between him and Charlie. Little things like that got me. Despite how they say divorce is hardest on the children, this movie is not exactly about how a child handles the situation of divorce, in fact, this child seems to be handling it in a way that I never could, especially at his age.

As for Nicole and Charlie, their screen presence together make for some of my favorite scenes of the year. There’s a scene at the beginning of the film where they seem to be seeking some counseling that give a basic idea of how high tensions are between them. Later on, past the halfway point, there is an extended argument that could be an Oscar reel clip for both of these people. I felt every moment of the dialogue and everything from their setup and onward was nothing short of fantastic. I think one of the best parts of both characters, at least to me, is that I could point out flaws from both sides and be able to realize that not only are these two demonstrating how they may not be right for each other, but I could equally argue that one person or the other is an asshole based on random actions that happen during the film. As nice as they may seem, they have their dark sides, and that’s what makes this marriage stor–sorry, DIVORCE story, so interesting. It’s not one side causing everything, it’s actions from both sides combining to form an eventual reaction.

The movie also does a really good job at providing depth to its two leads. I really enjoyed the backstories to both of the main characters. Scarlett Johansson plays someone who aspired to be an actress. In fact, we see her early on in a fake film flashing herself, which does come up a couple times later in some interesting ways. But she gave up her life in Los Angeles to allow Adam Driver’s character to focus on his career in theater. This not only feels like a story where a couple fights because of lost love or random attacks, it feels like something that has been gradually built up, which is why much of the dialogue in this film between the leads feels, in a way, climactic, that’s probably the best word I can use to describe all of it. There is an argument in this film that might as well be the human resemblance of what happens when a house is on fire.

I think one of the best things about this movie is how it handles getting custody over the kid. For one thing, it delivers more out of the two main actors, who also show off their chops here. In addition to that, Laura Dern shows up and gives an excellent performance as well. From a story perspective, I was almost on the edge of my seat, and this is not even a flashy action movie. There have been some films that I have seen where I honestly don’t know who precisely I am supposed to be rooting for, because maybe the film goes in an unexpected direction, or it is just flat-out stupid. Here, I feel the same way, I don’t know who exactly to root for, but that’s because I feel it is almost hard to pick a side. On the one hand, the kid could end up getting full custody from his mother, who he clearly likes more. On the other hand, if such a thing happens, the father, who wants to see his own child grow up, won’t get that opportunity. This is one of those movies that knows how to set up stakes and tension within its overall story. As a story, it is relatable, somewhat charming, and yet at the same time, depressing. It’s everything I could want out of this movie.

If I had to slide in any complaints, it might be for one scene in particular. Now this involves a scene that I overall enjoyed, so I personally would consider this a nitpick more than anything else. But kind of like much of the movie “Parasite,” another amazing film from this year, there is one moment that is borderline convenient in terms of moving the plot along. Maybe if I watch the movie again, I’ll change my mind, but having watched it once, this is just how I feel at the moment. Even so, I cannot think of too many other flaws regarding “Marriage Story,” and even though Netflix does not usually consider releasing physical copies of their material, I would pay hundreds for a copy of “Marriage Story.” I mean, Criterion is releasing “Roma” next year, so anything’s possible!

In the end, “Marriage Story” is a movie that I really enjoyed as I saw it, one that destroyed me upon leaving it, and one that has honestly gotten better the more I thought about it over these past few days. If I had any other flaws, I probably would have forgotten about them by now because I feel I am delaying my review a little bit, but even so, this is a film that I will probably to continue to carry in my memory. In fact, it is perhaps one of the most relatable pieces of art I have witnessed in my entire life. I think in terms of chemistry, or lack thereof depending on how you look at it, I think Driver and Johansson might make for the best on-screen pair of the year. Laura Dern does a really good job with the film. The directing, cinematography, and editing are a terrific trio. As for the screenplay, I want to frame it. There is very little that I could consider to be problematic with this movie. “Marriage Story” might not end up being my favorite film of the year, although I do have a few days left to decide for sure, but it is one of the few to hit me where I live and remind me of the ups and downs my current or prior experiences. Especially now, because during the time of another “split Christmas,” which again, I did enjoy, this felt like a story that I could potentially be a part of. I am going to give “Marriage Story” a 10/10!

Thanks for reading this review! I will be completely honest with you, I am not gonna make any guarantees, but it is a possibility that this is my final review of 2019. I might go see one more movie, but I am not too sure. If that’s the case, I do hope to have a review up on New Year’s Eve, hopefully New Year’s Day at the latest. After all, I am getting closer to sharing my picks for my top 10 favorite and least favorite movies of 2019! If I do have one more review to do, I will hopefully separate it long enough before you are all able to read my countdowns, which may be hard because of the millions of other projects I have going on right now. At least that’s what my life feels like at this moment. Nevertheless, if you want to see upcoming content like my countdowns or more reviews, be sure to follow Scene Before! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Marriage Story?” What did you think about it? Or, have you ever been through divorce of any kind? As a kid? Partner? Tell me about it if you feel like it! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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!

mv5bmteymjyxntu0mjveqtjeqwpwz15bbwu4mdi3mzc5otyz._v1_sx1777_cr001777985_al_

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!

mv5bmze5nzk5mtg4mv5bml5banbnxkftztgwntu3nti2njm40._v1_sx1777_cr001777736_al_

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.

screenshot (414)

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.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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.

Capture+_2019-03-14-20-30-54_LI

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.

20190322_145537_HDR

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:
rhodeisland_comiccon_november2018_eventimage_600x280-copy-24e2513026
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!

Cold Pursuit (2019): A Slow Brrrrr

mv5bm2yyywi3njitmwewzs00mzhklwjmztmtzdazyjrhodm0otmzxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjm4ntm5ndy40._v1_sy1000_cr006481000_al_

“Cold Pursuit” is directed by Hans Petter Moland (In Order of Disappearance, Aberdeen) and stars Liam Neeson (Taken, Non-Stop), Tom Bateman (Murder on the Orient Express, Snatched), Tom Jackson (The Diviners, Star Trek: The Next Generation), Emmy Rossum (Shameless, The Phantom of the Opera), Domenick Lombardozzi (Breakout Kings, The Wire), Julia Jones (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Westworld), John Doman (Borgia, ER), and Laura Dern (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Jurassic Park). This film is about a guy named Nels Coxman as he tries to seek revenge against people who ended up drugging his son.

I mentioned at the top that “Cold Pursuit” is directed by the same guy who directed “In Order of Disappearance.” I have not seen “In Order of Disappearance,” but around the time I watched this film, I found this information out. And knowing things about this film, I managed to find out that “Cold Pursuit” is actually a remake of “In Order of Disappearance,” which was made primarily for a Norwegian audience. “Cold Pursuit,” as far as I can tell, was most certainly intended for an American audience. In fact, without giving much away, there’s a cool thing that happens when the movie reaches the end credits, and if you haven’t seen “In Order of Disappearance,” you’ll see further proof of this being a redo of that film. Keep in mind, this is coming from a guy who also has not seen “In Order of Disappearance.”

I did some Internet searching on the original film and found out that it currently has over a 7 on IMDb, which is pretty decent for a film. Most of the user scores are above average range, with many of them being 7/10. For “Cold Pursuit,” it’s currently higher than a 6. Most of the user scores are also 6, slightly edging out over the 7 range. While a 6 is still a win for a movie on some days, there are times when it could equal nothing but trouble. And I can see why this movie is worse than its original counterpart, because while there are some cool quirky elements throughout the film, the movie is just slow at times.

When I saw the opening scene for “Cold Pursuit,” where snow is being shoved around by a bulldozer, it gave me a sense that s*it was about to get real. Unfortunately, everything that went down in “Cold Pursuit” (except for one thing), was not enough to fulfill my appetite. What’s the one thing that did fulfill my appetite however? Well, I hate to be cruel, but the deaths were infinitely creative. And I am not referring to how people died, but every time someone would die, something would come up and it does that for the whole movie. I thought it was a neat gimmick at times. Granted, and I am not sure if this dives into spoiler territory, but I’ll say it anyway, the deaths could SOMETIMES be slightly improved if you actually get a better glimpse at people dying. Just me. I’m not asking for a complete bloodbath, but this movie is rated R. Let us see some more stuff on screen sometimes.

Speaking of stuff we see on screen, let’s talk about Liam Neeson. I mean, this movie is basically Liam Neeson doing Liam Neeson things. His mannerisms are present and he definitely takes no names whatsoever. And while for me, this may be a hindrance regarding some actors like Melissa McCarthy, Liam Neeson never really gets tiring. One thing that may make him interesting is that the dude’s over sixty. He’s getting to that point where he is the superior version of the crazy old dude telling kids to scram out of his yard. Plus, his Irish accent is freaking killer. I mean, it’s similar to when Tom Cruise plays typical Tom Cruise. It usually avoids getting old, and both are crazy men who like to take baddies down. This is not to say that “Cold Pursuit” is Liam Neeson’s all time best work, I personally think “The LEGO Movie” might be, but still.

I also kind of like the bad guy in this movie. His name is Trevor “Viking” Calcote, he’s played by Tom Bateman, and while he definitely has some cliches of someone representing the idea of greed, I dug some of the execution of his character. This is especially true when you see how he treats his son. Because let’s face it, without going into too much detail about the movie, the way he treats his son is the same way White Castle would treat big hamburgers. They would much prefer not talking about them, or ever bringing them up in a conversation, similar to how when the son and “Viking’ talk to each other, there’s an intentional disconnect in chemistry.

When it comes to chemistry and execution of a few of the movie’s characters, those are the definite highlights of “Cold Pursuit,” that is, aside from the deaths. Unfortunately, it does not have many other highlights. I originally watched this movie on Friday, so I had time to gather some of my thoughts together before making a completed review. And I’m kind of glad I took that time. When it comes to the action in “Cold Pursuit,” it feels like the atmosphere of the movie itself. It’s all kinda dull, and it doesn’t really feel like there’s much to it. Unfortunately, much like this movie, it did not send chills down my spine.

And it’s almost like this movie didn’t always know what it wanted to be, because one of the taglines for this film is “Revenge is best served cold.” Doesn’t that sound like something out of a cheesy 1980’s action film starring Patrick Swayze and Arnold Schwarzenegger that takes place in Alaska or something? This movie could have been cheesy fun, but it wasn’t, it was serious garbage.

But I will give credit to one more thing about this movie before finishing this review off, and that happens to be the location choices. Everything looks beautiful on camera, especially when it is all surrounded by snow, which occasionally gives the movie the theme of “real s*it,” which I mean in a way describing various situations, but not the movie itself. Although then again, maybe it does describe the movie itself, because the movie is in fact, real s*it.

In the end, if you’re gonna watch “Cold Pursuit,” I recommend putting on some gloves, a hat, a jacket, whatever you can get to bundle up for the lackluster experience that this movie truly is. Liam Neeson is alright, the actors for the most part, while well cast, gave me a rather mixed collective reception. And I don’t feel like I’ll end up remembering this movie all that well. In fact, it was almost a waste of time. If it were not for the coolish death moments, all hope would be lost. This movie would be… Don’t say it… DON’T YOU DARE F*CKING SAY IT!…

…Ah, screw it.

LIFELESS! OK, lifeless!

I’m going to give “Cold Pursuit” a 3/10. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that pretty soon I am going to be doing an update on my Blu-ray collection, so please be on the lookout for that! I also recently bought the 4K for this year’s “The Kid Who Would Be King,” which I missed in the theater, however now that I own it, I have the chance to watch it and review it for the first time. Once I get around to watching it, and I’m not sure when this will happen, I will have a review for it. Please stay tuned! 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 “Cold Pursuit?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a movie that you think should have been more cheesy? Weird question, but I’m going with it. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Academy Postpones BEST POPULAR FILM: Thank Heavens!

mv5bnta0nzq2nzayof5bml5banbnxkftztgwodqxntq3ndm-_v1_sx1777_cr001777708_al_

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Last month I talked about perhaps the all-time dumbest idea that has ever come about in the history of the Academy Awards, that idea being the introduction of an all new award that celebrates POPULAR FILM. Like, why? As if the idea was bad enough, part of me wondered why it was even introduced in the first place. Yes, the Academy Awards had its least watched show ever this year, and they are trying to find ways to get its ratings higher next year and years down the road. But part of me wondered if ABC, the channel that airs the Oscars, stepped in and said, PRAISE US! And I don’t mean that literally, because ABC doesn’t make movies set to release in theaters. What I mean is that ABC is owned by Disney, the creator of the animated film “Dumbo,” which is just an understatement for how ridiculous this popular film award idea truly is. Disney has had a pretty successful year so far, releasing three films this that have surpassed $1 billion mark at the worldwide box office, and one of those films actually reached the $2 billion mark (“Avengers: Infinity War”). And it’s not just money that talks here, it’s also the critics and moviegoers. “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War” happened to be two of the best reviewed comic book movies in recent memory. It’s possible that Disney wants an Oscar, just to say they’ve won an Oscar. “Black Panther,” which is getting tons of phrase left and right, seems to be a big contender, and certainly would also have that title attached to it if this category were to exist, but if you nominate “Black Panther,” or if that movie WINS the Oscar for “Best Popular Film,” I just see it as an insult. It makes the Oscars look like a popularity contest, and it somewhat diminishes the value of the movie itself. Maybe “Black Panther” ended up not taking Best Picture, but hey! It’s popular!

Gimmie a f*cking break.

Luckily, after about a month of a storm that is almost on the disaster level of a sharknado, The Academy answered the prayers of many in the movie community by saying that the award WILL NOT be presented in the 2019 Oscars telecast.

*APPLAUSE FROM SELF*

Now let me just say, from what I’ve read, I wouldn’t say this concept of an award is gone for good, because I’m hearing from various sources like The Wrap and Indie Wire that it’s been delayed, but still, IT’S NOT GONNA BE A THING! For those of you who have read my post that I completed last month about this, I must say, I had a wish to pick the host of the 2020 Oscars if this award idea was still going to be executed, and as much as I wanted either Mark Hamill, Conan O’Brien, or Howie Mandel to host the Oscars, the eradication (sort of) that this popular award idea has received is certainly something I’ll take.

And it’s not just me who has been raging about this whole Oscar popular award fiasco, people in the industry such as Steven Spielberg (Ready Player One, Schindler’s List), Laura Dern (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Big Little Lies), were highly against this idea. Not just them, but movie bloggers, vloggers, websites everywhere just so happened to be calling this a s*itshow! Another notable celebrity included Rob Lowe (Parks and Recreation, St. Elmo’s Fire), who tweeted saying that this idea was the worst thing the Oscars has done since he was supposed to come on the show and sing onstage with Snow White, which did happen by the way, as I was writing this, I watched a video of what exactly went down (below). It says it’s just over eleven minutes, which is a total lie, allow me to declare, IT NEVER ENDS! And if you were to ask me which Oscars idea was the worst, having seen this Snow White bulls*it, it’s close, but this popular award frenzy would CERTAINLY be my answer.

Let me once again state, this award is DOWN, not OUT. I gotta ask though, WHY THE F*CK IS THAT THE CASE?! Before I get too selfish here, I ought to calm down and realize that sometimes a little experimentation can’t do all that much harm. Because if you have been following this site and read that other post I did about this, you may remember I went over a couple of other new ideas the Academy has come up with. These include a commitment to making the show a three hour telecast, and setting an earlier airdate for the 92nd Oscars. And while I do have minor concerns related to both the first and second idea, my concern level isn’t as enormous as it is for the main topic. While I’m relieved that we’re not getting this award, it almost makes me think in a couple different ways. Does the Oscars have an idea related to this award that maybe the general public and reporters are absolutely missing? Because the way I see this idea is that it’s just an excuse to make the Oscars a popularity contest for a moment. F*ck craftsmanship! F*ck hard work! F*ck not putting how much money something makes into a situation like this!

To me, Best Popular Film, is basically the same thing as Best Animated Feature, only dumber. It’s an exclusive category for films that MIGHT not be good enough for Best Picture, or other prestigious categories, but hey, at least they’re nominated. If a film like “Thor: Ragnarok” won this award at the most recent Academy Awards, it’s just gonna be that one kid at the small table, stuck with his juice box and grilled cheese sandwich, whereas the grown-ups like “The Shape of Water,” “Dunkirk,” and “Call Me by Your Name” all get to enjoy the liquor at the bar while simultaneously chowing down on some fresh steak.

One highlight from all of this is some of the words spoken by Dawn Hudson, the CEO of The Academy.

“There has been a wide range of reactions to the introduction of a new award, and we recognize the need for further discussion with our members.”

Wide range? OK, I’ve talked to a number of people I know about this, but I’m pretty sure only ONE of them thought it was a good idea. In fact, if I remember correctly, this person could have changed their mind! But for the most part, the reactions all over have been “F*ck this idea!” So this, “wide range” that apparently is on your mind right now, forget about it, f*ck it!

And let me just say one thing, should the Academy decide to bring this award back to life, they should pay attention to my statement. Just because something is popular, it doesn’t make it good or Oscar-worthy. “Twilight” is popular, doesn’t make it good or Oscar-worthy. “Fifty Shades of Grey” is popular, doesn’t make it good or Oscar-worthy. “Mission: Impossible II” was the highest worldwide grossing movie of 2000, but was it good or Oscar-worthy? No. And you could make a case saying by stating fantastic popular films to come out in the years the other, inferior popular films came out. “Twilight” came out in 2008, but so did “The Dark Knight.” It was nominated for eight Oscars and ended up taking home two. “Fifty Shades of Grey” came out in 2015, but so did “Mad Max: Fury Road.” It was nominated for ten Oscars, including Best Picture, and ended up taking home six. And yes, “Fifty Shades of Grey” was nominated for an Oscar, but it’s for Best Original Song,” so who cares? “Mission: Impossible II” came out in 2000, but so did “Gladiator.”  It was nominated for twelve Oscars, and ended up taking home five, including Best Picture. I’ll just remind everyone that there is a place for popular films, but it’s not the Oscars, you know, unless it was masterfully created and executed. If someone were to create a show that celebrated everything that people know or follow, then OK, at least it’s honest. “Black Panther” will probably end up taking home a ton of awards, it’ll be a close race between that and “Infinity War” for Best Picture. But if you are creating a show that’s meant to celebrate the best of the best, don’t bring popularity into it.

And going back to Best Animated Feature, let’s consider that for a second. What if we find ourselves in a year which there are no good animated films? Some of the animations we’re getting next year include “Toy Story 4,” “Wonder Park,” “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part,” “UglyDolls,” “The Addams Family,” “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” “Farmageddon: A Shaun the Sheep Movie,” and “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.” Based on the trailer for that last movie I mentioned, I’d say we’re gonna have at least one good animated feature next year, but what if in future years, all of the animated features suck? So, what if the future popular movies are simply phenomenons? They just make money, and therefore they are popular. It would take a kiddy table award and just shrink it into a baby table. So, Academy, listen to me, if you don’t want me getting closer to choosing a future Oscars host again, ERASE THE IDEA COMPLETELY. YOU GET IT?!

If you want to find out more of my thoughts on this whole fiasco, I have a link to my other post that I did on this, be sure to check it out, back when life was harder and I wasn’t jumping for joy. This award may not be dead, but the progress of a full disappearance may be near completion. Let’s just hope it goes away as soon as possible.

Academy Awards Adds Popularity Contest?! *AN UNACCEPTANCE SPEECH*

Thanks for reading this post! I also want to invite you to check out some of my recent movie reviews. Be sure to click the links down below if you’re interested! Be sure to follow Scene Before with your email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, what are your thoughts on the Best Popular Film Oscar being postponed? Or, do you think they should have kept it? Is there any reason why? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

“KIN” (2018) REVIEW

“EIGHTH GRADE” (2018) REVIEW

“GRINGO” (2018) REVIEW

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017): Another Year, Another Star Wars Movie

mv5bmjq1mzcxnjg4n15bml5banbnxkftztgwnzgwmjy4mzi-_v1_sy1000_cr006751000_al_

“Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi” is directed by Rian Johnson (Looper, Brick) and has a cast including Daisy Ridley (Only Yesterday, Murder on the Orient Express), Mark Hamill (Batman: The Animated Series, Kingsman: The Secret Service), John Boyega (The Circle, Detroit), Adam Driver (Logan Lucky, Girls), Domhnall Gleeson (American Made, Ex Machina), Carrie Fisher (Family Guy, The Blues Brothers), Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina, Drive), Gwendoline Christie (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, Game of Thrones), Laura Dern (The Founder, Jurassic Park), Billie Lourd (Scream Queens, American Horror Story), and Benicio Del Toro (Snatch, Sicario) and continues the journey of Rey, Finn, Poe, all of those people in the second installment of the “Star Wars” sequel trilogy.

Before we go any further, I’m just gonna give a little information towards the reality of this movie. The movie just came out, there are some films that maybe some people would care about that others wouldn’t, and there are also films that people just don’t care about at all. As far as I’m aware, a significant portion of the world’s population cares about “The Last Jedi.” So let me have everyone know, for the sake of the world’s population, this review is SPOILER-FREE for those who haven’t gotten a chance to see this film yet. If I spoil anything in the movie, perhaps regardless of whether I warn anyone or not, the Internet, and by that I mean pretty much the ENTIRE INTERNET will want to kill me.

This film is a follow-up to “The Force Awakens,” I love that movie, I saw it in the theater four times, I think it’s the best movie released in 2015 despite it being a rip-off the 1977 “Star Wars.” Although there is a positive to that, specifically that this may be the best “special edition” of “A New Hope.” In this brand new sequel, I was hoping for one thing. It’s no ripoff! I wouldn’t mind them tinkering around with certain ideas from “The Empire Strikes Back,” after all, this is the second installment in the sequel trilogy, much like how “Empire” is the second installment in the original trilogy. Does this movie take some ideas from “The Empire Strikes Back?” It does, but having seen this, I wouldn’t say it goes overboard. In fact, I’d even say it takes an idea from “Return of the Jedi.” Going back to “The Force Awakens,” I wouldn’t say it’s a complete ripoff of “A New Hope,” because it borrowed a trait shared by multiple characters from “The Empire Strikes Back.” In a way, you can say the two movies are similar that way.

Going into this film, I couldn’t help but think to myself “They better not freaking redo “Empire,” which as mentioned, didn’t happen. Walking out of it, it exceeded my expectations. This film continues to show why “Star Wars” is one of the greatest franchises ever. Is it as good as “The Force Awakens?” In my personal opinion, no. Some people will probably say it’s better given it’s less of a copy-paste type film, even though elements of that do exist here. However, there are those that will probably appreciate this film based on what it does with its characters. There are flaws, and I will touch upon them right now.

In the movie, there’s a subplot involving the character of Finn. There’s a point in the movie’s first act where Finn meets this girl named Rose, played by Kelly Marie Tran (Hot Girls on the Beach, Untouchable). There were a couple moments that I wasn’t really all that invested, and as far as the rest of the film goes, their relationship builds to a point where I thought their current status wasn’t exactly earned. It didn’t affect much of the movie, although it is a problem.

Next up we have Porgs. Say what you want about them. You think they’re cute, annoying, unneeded, whatever. My thoughts: They added NOTHING to the film! All they really are, to my lack of surprise, are a bunch of puny guinea pig-esque creatures that turned this movie into a toy commercial for a brief moment! On a positive note, it’s NOWHERE near as bad as what “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” did with Baby Groot! The Porgs weren’t even in the movie that much! It’s not like they’re the next Jar Jar Binks or something! Seriously though, as much as I’m surprisingly not annoyed by the Porgs, I am still unhappy they had no real use character-wise. But what do you expect? This is a Disney product after all…

Everything else in the movie however, was excellent. The progression of the characters was pretty much perfect! Seeing Luke again was a treat, and Mark Hamill didn’t fail to impress me at all! The visuals, whether they’re practical or not, as usual, are spectacular! The movie managed to convince me with its darkness, I’m so amazed that this came out as well as it did!

As mentioned, I consider “The Last Jedi” to be an effective character movie. For example, you have the character of Rey. You may remember in “The Force Awakens” she has a strong connection with the force, and she went off to meet Luke Skywalker. This sequel continues right where the last film left off, the two talk and they seem to have different attitudes and mindsets. Daisy Ridley as an actress is absolutely impressive, I want to see more of her in other movies. I’d probably have to wait a bit to get that because “Star Wars Episode IX” is happening. I will also say, there’s one scene where she’s on the island, there are Reys in a line, just prepare yourself for that scene because it’s awesome.

Speaking of characters who make a return in this film, Adam Driver is back as the evil Kylo Ren. In the last movie, Adam played a very convincing villain, I loved his performance as Kylo, and his relationship to Han Solo made the movie better. Now he’s here in this movie and he’s just awesome. I will say though, I do have a minor complaint, and it’s a continuity error. At the beginning of the movie, we see Kylo with his mask on. If you remember Kylo in “The Force Awakens,” we last see him with his mask off. This is on Starkiller Base, where he takes his mask off in a different part of the planet-wide facility. Based on what this movie suggests, and you can say this is suggested in the last movie as well, Kylo made it off the planet just in time before it completely exploded. They never really showed Kylo going back for his mask. Maybe General Hux, who played a part of the First Order in the last film, got it as the planet was collapsing. Given Kylo’s condition, it’s unlikely he went back, so what happened in all actuality? Nevertheless, Kylo was an absolute beast and he continues to prove his effectiveness as a villain. One more thing before I move on, in “The Force Awakens,” Rey roasts Kylo with this line:

“You. You’re afraid. That you’ll never be as strong as Darth Vader.”

In that film, the line literally made Kylo at a loss not only for words, but for actions. The roast party isn’t over, because there’s another one in “The Last Jedi” that regardless of which one I technically like better, I thought had greater execution. Instead of making Kylo speechless, we got to see him rage out like a five year old who wants to run away from home. I won’t say who says the roast, but it’s amazing.

Speaking of characters on the Dark Side, let’s talk about Andy Serkis’s character of Supreme Leader Snoke. In “The Force Awakens,” we’ve only seen Snoke through a hologram. Since his first appearance, fans have developed theories about Snoke’s true identity, some of which I found interesting. Is he Jar Jar? Is he Mace Windu? Is he Boba Fett? And this last one that absolutely intrigues me, is he Darth Plagueis the Wise? Heck! There’s even a Ranker list called “12 Theories About The Identity of Supreme Leader Snoke In Star Wars.” All theories aside, Snoke was awesome! He was as evil as he needed to be and there’s one scene with him that’s a huge highlight of the film for me.

John Boyega also returns here as Finn and I mentioned how Finn meets a certain character whose relationship I couldn’t appreciate as much as I would have wanted, but there’s more to Finn in this movie than just meeting someone. For example, he has a more active role in the Resistance, he’s fighting more than he did in the last movie and comes off as more confident, and speaking of fights, he reunites with Captain Phasma, who is a character that has gained a fan following in the last movie, and the two have a duel.

Speaking of characters from the last movie, Poe Dameron returns here. I see Poe as the “new Han Solo.” I say this based on his hairstyle, his mannerisms, and his ability to pilot a ship. Granted it’s not a freighter and it’s a simple X-Wing, but he reminds me of Han Solo. I’ve seen many people on social media saying they love this character. I don’t think he’s terrible, but I also would say the reactions to the character happened to be a little overhyped. OK, yes, he did take out a bunch of fighters in one sick shot, but there’s not really much that made Poe stand out there compared to other characters. I’d say after watching this movie, I’d say Poe was better here than he was in “The Force Awakens.” He added more to the story, and seeing him struggle at a point in the film made him stick out. As you can see in the image above, Poe is running alongside BB-8, who was once again, charming. One of my favorite scenes in the film is actually when BB-8 is “disguised” as an MSE-6 droid. Don’t know what that is? It’s basically this tiny car that is often something that rolls around any floor that is the property of the Imperial forces. BB-8 is copying the sounds it makes and I love it!

I cannot explain Mark Hamill’s role as Luke in “The Force Awakens” better than the movie’s Honest Trailer did:

“THE EASIEST MONEY MARK HAMILL EVER MADE.”

Basically, it’s just him standing on an island, looking at Rey. Here in “The Last Jedi,” Mark Hamill does a lot more as the character of Luke. I don’t know how many people will agree with me when I say this, but this must be my all time favorite performance when it comes to Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker. As if the writing wasn’t great enough already, Hamill aced his character as an old hermit. Luke has become a regretful, anti-social, and broken person after a long period of time. The transition is extremely fluid and made me truly care for Luke. You know how in the teaser for the movie, it’s exposed that Luke wants the Jedi to end? That’s explained in this film, and the explanation just made me feel sorry for Luke in general.

On the topic of original trilogy characters, let’s move on to the saddest thing about the movie, Carrie Fisher. Her final “Star Wars” performance was a thing of beauty. Much like in the previous film, she didn’t have too much to do, but for what she had, it kept me interested. There’s one scene that’s actually kind of exposed in the trailers, and it’s one of the best parts of the entire film. The one where Kylo Ren is flying in his ship, Leia’s aboard another ship, and the two notice each through the power of the force. Also, much like the other “Star Wars” films, there’s no credit scenes, however, during the credits, right before the scrolling segment begins, there’s a text stating “In loving memory of CARRIE FISHER.”

Let’s take a look at two previous “Star Wars” installments, “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Attack of the Clones.” This film, like those, was advertised to be dark. “The Empire Strikes Back,” to me, was dark based on the conflicts going on and the upper hand which the Empire has during the film. “Attack of the Clones” tries to be dark but ends up failing by not making you believe in what’s going on and focusing on the romance between Anakin and Padme that just makes the movie feel like a fantasy novel of some kind. The darkness of this film was present and I felt it deeply. The Resistance is getting wiped out all over the place, Luke is broken, and the climax isn’t all that fortunate either. It gives a similar feeling to the climax of “Empire,” which ends on a cliffhanger. After seeing this movie, I’m just eager to see the ninth installment!

John Williams (right) returns in this film as the composer. He’s done all the main films in the saga, but he didn’t do last year’s spinoff, “Rogue One.” Out of all the scores I’ve heard from John Williams in the “Star Wars” saga, I didn’t really think this one impressed me as much as the others. I’ll probably have to either watch the movie again or listen to the soundtrack to be sure, but the soundtrack just sounded repetitive, there was nothing really new. At least that’s what I recall. Granted, there were times where the music was awesome, but it just felt like stuff I’ve heard before. Speaking of that, the opening song from “The Last Jedi” has a similarity to the opening song from “A New Hope.”

Staying on that topic, not to put the movie down or anything, but the opening felt, well, unexpectedly fast paced. I mean, none of the “Star Wars” openings ever felt “slow,” but the movie quickly got to dialogue which was unexpected.

I won’t really go on for too much longer, but another highlight from the film is the sound editing. Out of any “Star Wars” film I’ve seen, I have to say, this might be the best when it comes to sound. There were moments when the sound literally made me feel tense. It reminds me of “Interstellar” during the docking scene and the sound literally just goes out.

In the end, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is a terrific ride, I loved every minute. This was one of the most engaging movie experiences I’ve had all year, and after seeing this, I cannot wait for “Episode IX!” The characters continue to progress to points where I appreciate them more than ever, there are multiple scenes I want to go back and watch again, and again, I’ll mention, the sound work is unbelievable in this film, some of the best I’ve heard all year! I’m gonna give “Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi” a 9/10. This movie is not as good as “The Force Awakens” in my personal opinion, but it’s slightly better than “Rogue One.” Part of me just wants to time travel into the future, just so I can see “Episode IX,” but until then, I’ll just have to wait. I really enjoyed this movie, I think you guys will feel the same way, and I’m just glad this isn’t a total ripoff of another great “Star Wars” film. Thanks for reading this review, if you are interested in seeing “The Last Jedi,” there’s a good chance you can go see it anywhere, but I have a link below that will take you to a list of some of the best possible ways to view the movie. “The Last Jedi” is playing in eleven theaters that contain IMAX 70mm equipment. To find out which theaters are on the list, click the link below and read the post. Stay tuned for more reviews and other content! I want to know, did you see “The Last Jedi?” What are your thoughts? Are you going to see it? Also, where does this movie rank in the “Star Wars” universe for you? Let me know all of that down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is Getting the IMAX 70mm Treatment and a History of Star Wars in IMAX!: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2017/10/17/star-wars-episode-viii-the-last-jedi-is-getting-the-imax-70mm-treatment-and-a-history-of-star-wars-in-imax/