Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes Part 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST IS BACK ON (Sort of)

SXSW Conference & Festivals | March 13-22, 2020

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

VENICE FILM FESTIVAL DENIES GOING DIGITAL

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

DELAYED MOVIES AND NEW RELEASE DATES

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

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

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

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

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

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

AMC MAY NOT SURVIVE

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

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

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

NEW RELEASES GOING ON DEMAND

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

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

Top Movies of the 2010s (THE BEST 25)

Top Movies of the 2010s OFFICIAL POSTER

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

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

#25: Honey Boy (2019)

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

#24: Birdman (2014)

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

#23: Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)

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

#22: Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

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

#21: Roma (2018):

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

#20: The Disaster Artist (2017)

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

#19: Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

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

#18: Inside Out (2015)

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

#17: Room (2015)

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

#16: Toy Story 3 (2010)

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

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

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

#14: Inception (2010)

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

#13: Ready Player One (2018)

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

#12: Ready or Not (2019)

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

#11: Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)

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

#10: Arrival (2016)

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

#9: The LEGO Movie (2014)

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

#8: Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

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

#7: Whiplash (2014)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#3: Colossal (2016)

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

#2: Blade Runner 2049

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

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

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

Whoops! My bad! I forgot!

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

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

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

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

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

Hollywood, We Need to Talk About Film “Rereleases” and “Alternate Cuts”

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Remember how “Avengers: Endgame” became the biggest film in history? Well, some may argue that it couldn’t have gotten to that point without one thing, putting a new version of the film in theaters! I remember back in June we were getting advertisements for the upcoming “Avengers: Endgame” rerelease, signifying there would be new content to witness. Granted, I already knew what audiences were in for. It’s the exact same movie, but with end credits content that audiences didn’t get to see originally. I still roll my eyes to this day that the marketing team decided to market this as a rerelease to begin with because THE FILM WAS STILL IN THEATERS BEFORE THIS HAPPENED! I figured this would be a one time thing. Granted, “Avatar” did a rerelease back in the day with extended content, but for one thing, that was a different version of the film, and it was already out on DVD.

I was able to personally let “Endgame” slide. After all, it ended up being the king of the box office as an effect. But then came August, and apparently “Spider-Man: Far From Home” was joining the party on this!

Now, I will give some credit to “Spider-Man: Far From Home” in regards to their actions during this rerelease game plan. Why? Because they at least called it the “extended cut.” This cut featured additional footage that wasn’t seen when this film originally came out, so ultimately, this wasn’t a “Spider-Man 2,” it was a “Spider-Man 2.1.”

Wait a minute…

Coincidentally, on the same weekend “Spider-Man: Far From Home” came out with its alternate cut, another movie which, believe it or not, came out at the same time as Spidey’s original cut, “Midsommar,” was doing the same thing. “Midsommar” came out with what was marketed as the “Director’s Cut.” This different cut included extended and new scenes.

I will point out, for those who are not in the know, these “rereleases” and “alternate editions” are not a new thing. “Blade Runner” has had multiple releases in various forms including “The Director’s Cut” and “The Final Cut.” The “Lord of the Rings” franchise, including installments of “The Hobbit,” would eventually release an “extended edition” on DVD of each film. And “Star Wars” has been putting out redos of the original trilogy in 1997, 2004, and 2011.

But here’s the difference, everyone behind these movies are not putting these out only a couple of months after they originally went into theaters! I don’t know how the average moviegoer feels about this, but if I had to judge from my perspective, it sort of is beginning to remind me of a path that the video game industry seems to follow. Back in the day, you would pay full price for a game, and you get the entire game. Nowadays if you typically want to buy a video game, you have to not only pay $60 if it is a big name title, but on top of that, you have all these additional downloads, in-game currencies, packs, those sorts of things! I remember I would play a lot of NBA 2K back in the day, everything I needed was included! Now, if you want the good stuff, you might as well sell your soul! This is why I refuse to buy what seems to be a pay to win-oriented NBA 2K20! If I wanted to gamble, I’d go to Vegas for crying out loud!

Movie tickets are not as expensive as video games (although if you are buying popcorn and bringing a family along, I might take that back), but it is still not cheap. The average price of a movie ticket in 2019 is $9.01, which as far as my area is concerned, is actually kind of a bargain. Where I live, specifically eastern Massachusetts, I’m usually paying somewhere in the double digits for one ticket each time I go see a movie. It could be worse, but it is certainly something that can warrant a slight complaint.

I don’t mind seeing the same movie twice in the theater. I’ve done that with a number of a titles throughout my life because a lot of them happened to be very good and perhaps worth a rewatch. But it never felt like in any of those scenarios that the studio was robbing me. I was seeing the exact same film, just at a different time.

I guess there is a curiosity factor that can come out of an extended cut or something like that. What if there’s a scene that makes the movie better? But at the same time, an extended cut of “Far From Home” feels cheap because I just saw the original.

I am not worried about this right now, but I honestly think this has the potential of becoming the next big trend in moviegoing. Audiences see a movie, and since Hollywood is running out of ideas, someone thinks, “Let’s show the same thing two months later!” Now if this is a way for the director to get out a version that they would have preferred releasing as opposed to the original, then I can approve. However, why couldn’t we have just seen that version in the first place? As a moviegoer, I want to see the next new thing as opposed to seeing studios perhaps making me obligated to see their product again because “it’s my duty.”

I just don’t want to see a future where all of our movies lose their individuality. It seems kind of pointless and just an excuse to make more money. Even if these extended editions do end up somehow being better than their original counterparts, it manages to give me this vibe that certain movies are overstaying their welcome. Who knows? Maybe this will simply be a 2019 fad that will wash away over time, but I am hoping for the sake of individuality, not to mention moviegoers’ wallets, that we don’t give into Hollywood studios putting out a bunch of changed products. And you know what? Let me just put it this way…

I make a bunch of movie reviews for Scene Before. One of them by the end of the year is inevitably going to be for “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” Let’s say I see that movie, review it, and give my thoughts on it. How would you feel? After wasting about 5-10 minutes of reading that, that I announce, “Hold your horses! Stay tuned for this February where I release the EXTENDED EDITION of this review!” Granted, if I went ahead and made a spoiler talk that is one thing, because I’d intentionally make the review filled with spoilers, but what if I came out with the exact same wording, phrases, and paragraph structures as I did in that original review, but I sprinkle tiny new bits and pieces? Wouldn’t you feel like I snatched your dignity and thrown it out the window?

So please, Hollywood… Stop grinding my gears.

Thanks for reading this post! This weekend is the release of “IT: Chapter Two.” As for whether or not I’m seeing it, that will be up for debate. And I just want to let everyone know that next week I’ll be heading back to college for the fall semester, so if you see me posting a tad less than usual, that could be a reason why. However, this all depends on the workload, so we’ll see what happens. I am not planning on losing my commitment to Scene Before, so I will do my best to stick to doing at least one post a week. I will do my best to cover topics that stand out and focus on big or important movies coming out. After all, …Oscar season is upon us. 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, what are your thoughts on these alternate editions of films? Or, have you seen the recently put out versions of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” or “Midsommar?” Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Black Panther (2018): Is the Revolution Worth the Hype?

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“Black Panther” is directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station) and stars Chadwick Boseman (42, Get on Up), Michael B. Jordan (Creed, Fantastic Four), Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Danai Guira (All Eyez on Me, The Walking Dead), Martin Freeman (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Sherlock), Angela Basset (Olympus Has Fallen, Contact), Forest Whitaker (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Arrival), and Andy Serkis (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers).

This is the, I can’t believe I’m saying this, EIGHTEENTH, installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the whole story hasn’t even been going for ten years yet! Nevertheless, in this next chapter, it’s main focus is directed towards the title character of Black Panther, or T’Challa. Wakanda, an African nation with isolation and advanced technology, needs a new king. Why? Well, T’Challa’s dad died. His father was a former king and now T’Challa is next in line for the throne.

Going into this film for the first time, I was terrified of what I’d end up thinking of it. I remember watching trailers for this film, and I watched the first trailer that came out and thought to myself, “What in the world did I just watch?” The music felt WAY off, the tone felt like something in between a slapstick comedy and a fantasy for all ages, and it didn’t feel like something I’d get invested in. The second trailer was an improvement over the first one, and it made the movie look more watchable. I will say though from both trailers, the movie looked like it was well directed and had some good action. However, I was still scared. Heck, even the teaser poster (the first image in this review) was giving me some weird thoughts! It felt stale and almost as if you could confuse the background as if it were Asgard in “Thor.”

Let’s also just get something out of the way… (sigh) I’m white.

Let me just say that none of my comments regarding this movie or review have to do with race. I don’t judge people by the color of their skin (unless someone is miscast in something and part of it has to do with skin tone and it doesn’t flow with material that came before something related to it was made or some other reason like that). I imagine A LOT of people were excited for this movie for reasons having to do with a lack of white people, and I get that. Let me just say, if this movie had all white people in it, I’d probably give it a lower verdict than I would in this current review. Why? Read the extended parentheses statement above. A LOT of people are giving this movie some of the most positive reviews I’ve seen for a film recently, and it has become one of the best reviewed superhero movies of all time. What are my personal thoughts on the movie itself? It’s good, but it’s overhyped.

Before you call me a racist for not giving the movie a 10/10, let me state once again, IT’S GOOD. If that’s not positive enough, I’m sorry, that’s my personal opinion. You can have your personal opinion, we’re still friends. I’ll actually state if you want to know who the real racists are, I will provide a link down below to a tragic story about this movie and what happened before it released. Either take a break from this review and click the link, continue on and come back once you’re finished with the review, or if you hate reading, don’t click it at all. Also, if you hate reading, what are you doing here? YOU’RE LITERALLY READING THIS! Go do something else! You know, unless this is your punishment and you hate reading!

TRAGIC AND RACIST “BLACK PANTHER” STORY: https://www.colorlines.com/articles/white-supremacist-groups-plan-tank-black-panther-rotten-tomatoes-score-fails

Also, regarding that article, no matter what your views are, why would you rate a movie before you see it? Did I give “The Emoji Movie” a 1/10 on this blog or IMDb without even taking a look at it for myself? Nope! I went to the theater, paid $5.99 at the ticket line, which is ultimately money I was robbed of, and then I destroyed every last trace of life it had!

I will say though, “Black Panther” might actually be better than I thought it would have turned out. I thought it was just gonna be a middle of the road movie, but it turns out, it’s just slightly above that range. Now, I gotta become Mr. Movie Reviewing Moron, and tell you some things I found wrong with the movie. Wait a minute, I’m missing something. I’ll be right back.

*MAKES TRIP TO MEN’S WEARHOUSE, BUYS EXPENSIVE CLOTHING, RETURNS HOME, REMOVES GREY RALPH LAUREN SWEATSHIRT, BLACK “YOU’RE NOT GROOT” (FEATURING WHITE TEXT) T-SHIRT, BLACK (WITH WHITE STRIPES) ADIDAS SWEATPANTS, BLACK SKECHERS AIR-COOLED CLASSIC FIT MEMORY FOAM SHOES, AND ’47 GREY AND WHITE BOSTON RED SOX SOCKS, SOME HINTS OF BLACK ARE FEATURED TOO, INCLUDING THE COLOR OF THE RED SOX LOGO. PUTS ON WHITE DRESS SHIRT, BLACK SUIT, BLACK TIE, MATCHING DRESS PANTS, BLACK SOCKS, AND BLACK LEATHER SHOES, I DON’T EVEN CARE ABOUT THE BRAND NAMES FOR THOSE FOUR RECENTLY MENTIONED PRODUCTS, USE YOUR IMAGINATION. USE OF IMAGINATION IS SOMETHING I’M TRYING TO PROMOTE, SO UTILIZE IT!*

Alright, I’m back. Let’s get cracking.

This movie ended up being two hours and fourteen minutes long. Honestly, it felt a tad longer. It wasn’t like watching “Downsizing” which came out last December, but it still felt long. Some of the stuff that goes down in this movie, most notably the climax, takes forever and a half to conclude. I get that the movie needs a grand and epic feel during the climax, but it can have the same feel without being too long. Just saying.

While I will admit that the climax felt long, I will also mention that at various points of the first half, the movie itself felt a bit draggy. It’s not like I was watching “The Last Jedi” during its first half, but it still felt like it could have been improved.

This next part is part positive and part negative. This movie barely has any humor in it, which completely worked for what I was watching. TAKE NOTES, “THOR: RAGNAROK!” However, I won’t ignore how cheap the humor in the film happened to be. There were parts where I chuckled, but that’s probably how most of the humor went down for me. It wasn’t like “Doctor Strange” or “Ant-Man” where it felt like I was gonna die from laughter, it felt more like a disposable comedy starring you people know, people you liked in other movies, let’s blurt out such names like Will Ferrell and Ed Helms, and they’re there for the paycheck, much like every other actor in the picture. And it’s not just them. The whole movie is just gonna come off as a cash-grab. Maybe the writer(s) happen(s) to be trying their absolute hardest, maybe the director, and while the studio doesn’t think it’s a total masterpiece, they think it’s “good enough.” How good enough is good enough? Good enough to make money. Some people will think it’s funny, some will be in the middle, and others might just roll their eyes the entire time.

This film for the most part is very well written. I don’t have many complaints but when it comes to a couple scenes that tried to come off as emotional, I don’t really think I felt anything. Maybe I felt a tad of something in one moment, but for the most part I really didn’t feel much of anything aside from things such as my popcorn bag, my clothes, and my reclined seat.

My next complaint is somewhat personal, and it has to do with the film and how it’s color graded. There are a lot of scenes shot well, directed well, and a number of them also look great in terms of their wide range of color, but I will admit, there are some that look rather cheap just because, personally, the grass looks kind of pale. The grass is green, but not the green I want it to be. Maybe I’m imagining things, maybe I’ll change my mind, but this is how I feel for now.

You know one place grass can be found? The forest! And happily, not on Forest Whitaker, because that would be beyond terrifying! Forest Whitaker is in this film, he plays Zuri, and I’ve seen him play a number of characters prior to watching this. Those characters can be found in movies such as “Arrival,” “Taken 3,” and sadly, “Battlefield Earth.” Another film you can find Whitaker in is “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” which is a great movie in my book. Although the thing is, Forest Whitaker is in this movie, and in it, he just comes off as another version of Saw Gerrera, which is the name of the character he played in “Rogue One.” Not exactly in terms of what he does, but watching the movie, I couldn’t help but pick up on certain mannerisms and how the character behaves and compare it to Saw. It’s almost like the movie’s director, Ryan Coogler, saw “Rogue One,” loved it, and said, “Your character in ‘Rogue One,’ he’s awesome, best part of the movie, so do me a favor, and play the same character but with different clothes and keep your tentacle porn business out of any scenarios.”

This film also contains what may qualify as the most forced kiss in cinematic history.

 

Enough said.

 

I could get into some writing problems, but they’re mainly just diction complaints that will end up coming off as nitpicky at best. I already got personal with the colors, but I feel this will come off as a bit more personal than that, and I say that because I have perhaps a greater knowledge when it comes to writing than I do color grading despite color grading various videos.

Now let’s move away from the negativity and talk about some of the stuff I really appreciated during the film. First off, the visuals. Pretty much every single Marvel movie I see has competent visual effects. Some more than others, but it’s very hard to say that a Marvel movie hasn’t given me some sort of impression from a visual perspective. I will say from a visual standpoint, at times it very much reminded me of last year’s “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.” And no, this movie did not remind me of “The Fifth Element” all that much.

Some of these visual effects are part of what made for some of the best shots in the entire film. A select number of shots pertaining to what I’m talking about came from the trailer, but even some of those I have just recently discovered stood out to me. With that being said, the cinematography in this film actually was really impressive overall. It might actually add up to be some of the better cinematography I’ve seen in a Marvel Cinematic Universe film. There’s actually this one shot where a character is walking forward and the camera is slowly rotating 180° from an upside down point of view to a normal point of view. It’s one of the best shots of the entire movie.

Speaking of cinematography, some of the action was also very well shot. There were actually some parts that feel like they came out of a Marvel movie from the Russo Brothers, such as “The Winter Soldier.” The action was also very well directed and well choreographed. I was able to believe it for what it was, although there’s one part of the highly promoted car chase, or as I like to call it, an excuse to get people to watch a Lexus commercial, that felt kind of jarring. I remember the Lexus going at a blazing speed at one point, and I don’t know if it actually was going at said speed, but it almost felt like it was a computer-enhanced effect. It probably wasn’t, but that’s just “what it felt like.” The whole thing kind of threw me off.

There’s one more mega-plus this movie has, what was it again?

Oh yeah right, Bilbo and Gollum reunite.

Speaking of characters, let’s talk about T’Challa, AKA Black Panther. This is not the first movie in the MCU featuring Black Panther, that happened to be “Captain America: Civil War.” In that movie, I thought the character was cool, but not completely memorable. Although the first action scene with him was a total blast. Here, he’s cool and memorable. To be fair however, the movie literally has his name as the title, so it’s kind of hard to get him out of your head. His rise to becoming king invested me, and I will also say that you probably don’t have to watch “Civil War” to understand some of the stuff that’s going on in this film. I say that partially because the movie actually cuts back to “Civil War” during some key moments that way you don’t have to. I was able to root for the character, I truly cared for him, and I was able to buy Chadwick Boseman as this hero.

I buy Chadwick Boseman as the hero, so it’s super duper that I also buy Michael B. Jordan as the villain. Michael B. Jordan plays the character Erik Killmonger (as if you didn’t need a bigger hint as to whom this movie’s villain is, just read the last name) and with him, we’re getting yet another rare case of a great Marvel villain. I’ve had my history of viewing Marvel Cinematic Universe villains to be underwhelming (Red Skull from “Captain America: The First Avenger”), cliche (Ronan from “Guardians of the Galaxy”) unmemorable (Wait, What Was His Name? from “Doctor Strange”), or just plain stupid (Malekith AKA Mr. Dumbasadoornail from “Thor: The Dark World”). Erik is yet another surprising addition to a recently formed chain of fantastic Marvel villains. This is due to his motivation, his mannerisms, and how whatever he does is essential to the plot. As a viewer, it is clear that you’re supposed to hate the villain as a character, and that’s exactly what I did given Erik’s actions.

A lot of characters in this movie, you know, ones that happen to be Wakandans, they’re all super fierce and warrior-like, they reminded me a lot of “Wonder Woman’s” Amazons. They often appear organized, they’re somewhat rowdy, and often shout “Wakanda forever.” The actors who played them all did a very good job, from major roles to extra roles, and I’d trust these folks to help everyone survive, I don’t know, say a zombie apocalypse.

Also, let me just say, at one point during the movie’s first act, one character gives the finger, I’m calling it right now, it’s not gonna take too long for that to become at the least, a somewhat popular meme. It might take some time, but I’m willing to bet some people might make a GIF out of it or just spread the GIF somewhere. If not, they might just use a random screenshot. And maybe I’ll use it one day, if it’s not popular enough, maybe I’ll change its popularity.

One thing I’m still debating however, is whether Black Panther himself was more of an action delight in “Captain America: Civil War” or this movie. On the way home from the theater, I was asking that question to myself. It’s been over a year since I actually watched “Civil War,” but I still remember the chase scene where we first see Black Panther in his suit. It was well shot, fast-paced, very well done. The action scenes in this movie can also qualify to be up around that caliber, but there’s a part of me that doesn’t think I’d usually go and point out a scene from this movie to show off the awesomeness of Black Panther in action as opposed to the chase with him in “Civil War.” Although as I say for a lot of things on here, only time will tell.

In the end, I was actually somewhat pleasantly surprised by “Black Panther.” Sure, it’s overhyped, but ultimately enjoyable. I must say, as a Marvel Cinematic Universe film, it’s not the best, I’ll be completely honest with you and say I’d rather watch “Iron Man 2” than this, which a number of people don’t seem to like. Ah well, opinions are opinions. I can see why people are hyping up the movie in ways, but what matters is the execution, and in some senses of the word, it partially felt off. However, I’d probably watch “Black Panther” again and I’m gonna give it a 7/10. Also, remember, IT’S GOOD. I LIKED IT. YOU CAN STOP TELLING ME TO GO SCREW MYSELF. I’m actually going to see this movie again a number of hours after this is posted, so my opinion could change, but I figured why not get this review up while I can. Plus, a majority of movies I’ve seen have been reviewed after just a single viewing, so it might as well be fair to give that sort of treatment to this one.

Thanks for reading this review, on February 23rd, a couple of movies are coming out and I really want to see both of them. The first one is “Game Night,” which is a comedy where a game night turns into a murder mystery. The second one is “Annihilation,” Alex Garland’s second film he ever directed, which I’m hyping up like crazy because he directed “Ex Machina” and that movie is not exactly perfect, but just… beautifully made. So yeah, I can’t wait to see how this new film turns out. Stay tuned for more reviews and other great content! I want to know, did you see “Black Panther?” What are your thoughts? Leave your comment below! The next Marvel movie’s “Infinity War!” Woohoo! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

WAKANDA FOREVER!

Top 10 UNPOPULAR Movie Opinions

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! There’s a saying that not everyone is the same. We are all different in our own little ways. This case is shown in our individual thoughts. In fact, in some instances, there are times when people wholeheartedly have different thoughts than others, or someone may call another’s opinion invalid for one reason or another. After reading this list, chances are you might just do the same with me. Today I’m going to be counting down my top 10 unpopular opinions in the realm of movies. With this list, I’m not trying to encourage others to change their minds about something. If they do, great! Although if they don’t, it’s understandable. So if you think that you should embrace something I say here simply because I embrace it, I wouldn’t recommend that. I’d recommend you embrace whatever fits with you, while I embrace whatever fits with me. So without further ado, let’s begin counting down my top 10 unpopular movie opinions.

10: Animal House is OVERRATED!

Before we get into this entry on the list, let me remind you, I’ve only seen this movie once, it was New Years Eve, and I recall there was also a transition to New Year’s Day while watching this. So ultimately, I could have been more awake. Nevertheless, when I was watching “Animal House,” I found it for the most part, boring. It’s not a terrible movie, there are worse comedies out there, but I don’t remember much about it today. I don’t remember anybody’s name, whats it’s about, how it ended. I don’t remember. There are some parts I remember, mainly the “I’m a zit” scene. For what I recall, I don’t think I laughed as much as other people while watching “Animal House.” Maybe it’s better the second time around, but only time will tell. This movie was directed by John Landis, who also directed “The Blues Brothers,” which is an awesome movie. If it were movie night and I had to pick between “Animal House and “Blues Brothers,” it’s “Blues Brothers” all day everyday baby! Although ultimately, if there’s a movie that I would personally watch that involves a fraternity, I personally prefer “Revenge of the Nerds.”

9: The Dark Knight is SLIGHTLY OVERRATED!

I love Christopher Nolan, I’ve said it time and time again. Some of you might be tired of me shoving that opinion down your throat. There are some of his movies that in recent times I’ve gone back and watched again. I have done that with “The Dark Knight,” but I really don’t think it’s as good as everybody says. Don’t get me wrong, it has a lot of redeeming qualities. The screenplay is really good, Hans Zimmer has created an excellent score, this was the first major Hollywood release to have footage not only presented, but shot in IMAX, and Heath Ledger’s interpretation of The Joker was phenomenal! This is certainly a film that has proven that comic book movies don’t always have to be childish, but even with that, I can’t give it the same praise that everyone else gives it. I’ve watched films from Nolan that I personally thought were better than “The Dark Knight,” such as “Inception,” “Interstellar,” and his most recent release, “Dunkirk.” “The Dark Knight” is a good movie, but it’s not a fantastic movie. Even my dad agrees with me. I mean, seriously?! #4 on IMDb?! Seriously?! This film is better than every installment of “Lord of the Rings?!” This film is better than “The Matrix?!” This film is better than “The Empire Strikes Back?!” Come on, guys! Christopher Nolan is certainly a director with tons of talent, but really? This is low on the list however because I personally predict that “The Dark Knight” might somehow become better with age therefore making this entry to the list having no matter whatsoever.

8: Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 is FUNNY AND ENTERTAINING!

Kevin James is a mystery to me. I like him in “King of Queens,” however his movies don’t usually live up to that show (mainly Grown Ups). However of the movies featuring James which I enjoy, a couple of those happen to be the two “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” films. Now, I said two. I like the first one better, but I’ll go as far as to say the second one, as much as you might want me to turn in my movie buff card for saying this, is watchable. Now, it’s not perfect. It’s stuff we’ve seen before, not to mention it borrows a lot of what we’ve seen in the first movie, in fact there’s more stuff in this movie that may as well come off as cringeworthy when compared to the original. I know from a critical perspective, this isn’t a good movie, it’s a slapstick comedy starring a fat guy on a segway, that TOTALLY sounds like an Oscar winner! And you know what? This movie was nominated for six Razzies! Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, Worst Screen Combo, Worst Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel, Worst Actor, and Worst Picture! Based on all of the negativity that is being displayed toward this film, it’s kind of surprising that it actually won a positive award. What did it win? It won a Young Entertainer Award in the category of Best Leading Young Actress- Feature Film due to Raini Rodriguez’s performance as Paul Blart’s daughter, Maya. I can understand how some people dislike this film. Sometimes it’s awkward, but it really could have been worse. There are moments in the film where I did laugh, and I wouldn’t mind watching it again. Now some of you may be wondering why I put this one on the list instead of the first one even though I like the first one better. Based on experience, I’ve seen more positive verdicts given to the original “Paul Blart,” and quite honestly, me putting the original “Paul Blart” on this list feels biased because I live right near the shopping centers where the original movie was shot. I think the first movie does get a lot more hate than it deserves, but I know people who watched it and ended up liking it. Although there is a saying that comedy is subjective and if fat guys on segways isn’t your thing, that’s understandable.

7: Revenge of the Sith is AMAZING!

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I love “Star Wars,” these movies have such an impact on our culture nowadays, and it’s easy to see why. In fact, now that Disney owns Lucasfilm and is making several new installments to the franchise, people are going as crazy for it as they were back when it started. So, what is my unpopular opinion about it? Well, it’s concerning the fact that “Revenge of the Sith” might be one of my favorite movies in the saga. For those of you who think I’m fanboying, I’ll have you know I don’t like “The Phantom Menace”  nor do I like “Attack of the Clones.” Now this is a lower entry considering the fact that when it comes to the “Star Wars” prequels, people might refer to “Revenge of the Sith” as “the good one.” In fact if you look at IMDb, “Revenge of the Sith” has a higher rating than both of the other movies in the prequel trilogy. A lot of people do like “Revenge of the Sith,” however, I LOVE IT. There are so many elements of this movie I appreciate. The score, the sound, the lightsaber duels, just about everything in the movie is awesome! The movie’s not perfect, Hayden Christensen isn’t really the best actor. That has also been proven in “Attack of the Clones.” However, to say this is bad like the other two movies in the prequel trilogy isn’t right. In fact, they toned down on Jar Jar, they only included him walking in the film! They don’t have him talking this time around! Woohoo! Part of me can imagine that as George Lucas was working on the prequel trilogy, this was the story he couldn’t wait to do. Who doesn’t love Darth Vader? Anakin as a character in this movie is totally conflicted, everything is crumbling for him and this starts out at a point in this movie. Palpatine is killer in this movie and the fight between him and a bunch of Jedi was short but sweet, not to mention accompanied by great music. His lines have become meme-worthy over the years and I can imagine Ian McDiarmid had fun at times on set. Ewan McGregor is terrific as Obi-Wan and it was really engaging to see him alongside Hayden Christensen’s Anakin both as a friend and as an enemy. John Williams crafted his best score of the prequel of the trilogy and that is saying something because “The Phantom Menace” has Duel of the Fates in there. Every single fight, whether it be a space battle, a lightsaber duel, or a massive land brawl, was awesome. Speaking of which, the opening shot for the first space battle is cinematic bliss. Also, the final lightsaber duels featuring a fight between Obi-Wan and Anakin and another fight between Yoda and Palpatine were engaging and thrilling. The Obi-Wan vs. Anakin duel is my favorite duel in the saga, it’s two former friends going up against each other and while fans may know the results to come of this battle, the characters don’t and despite it going on for awhile, it was never boring. You can say duels like the ones between Luke and Vader are awesome because of the situation at hand and the fact that you might not know what’s coming, but the duel between Obi and Ani impressed me from a musical perspective, a technical perspective, and it shows how far these two characters have come since they first met. Is it highly choreographed? Sure, but it doesn’t mean said choreography wasn’t impressive! Everything looked stylish, it had a video game feel to it which I kind of admired. The CGI actually still holds up today, and is much improved since the start of the prequels. If you ever feel like watching “Revenge of the Sith,” (Transition to Palpatine’s voice) do it.

6: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is THE BEST MOVIE IN THE LORD OF THE RINGS SAGA!

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There was a time when I had a huge fanaticism for “Lord of the Rings.” To this day I never read the books, but I’ve watched all the movies. I like all of the movies in the saga, including “The Hobbit” trilogy, but my favorite of all of them might surprise you. That my friends, is “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” Fun fact about “Lord of the Rings,” prior to going into the movie in the saga which came out before this, AKA “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” I had no clue this was even connected to “Lord of the Rings.” Part of this is due to how I never even watched “Lord of the Rings” in the first place. It took a long while for me to actually find out there’s a connection between these movies. The movie I watched after is “The Desolation of Smaug.” Before I watched that, I thought “An Unexpected Journey,” wasn’t bad, but it really could have used some improvement. The 3D was awesome though! “The Desolation of Smaug” was a whole different ballgame however. I walked out of the theater thinking “The Desolation of Smaug” was a huge improvement over “An Unexpected Journey.” It became my favorite movie of 2013 and stands today as one of my favorite movies of all time. In fact there’s a good chance I might say it’s better than any of the “Star Wars” films. The movie as whole was awesome, the action was immersive and entertaining, the music is epic, I mean it’s “Lord of the Rings,” so why wouldn’t it be? Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug the Dragon is probably my favorite villain in movie history. He’s so menacing, so massive, and his voice is amazing! The entire confrontation with Smaug sent literal chills down my spine. Imagine if in “The Empire Strikes Back” the entire confrontation between Luke and Vader actually had Luke as a very tiny guy and instead of going up against a guy his size, he’s going up against a freaking enormous giant! Also, imagine instead of having a fight, the small guy is getting chased the entire time! This goes on until the end of the movie and I was engaged the entire way through. This movie also introduced Evangeline Lilly’s character of Tauriel, who undoubtedly kicked some ass in the movie! Another really entertaining part of the movie is the barrel scene, which is basically this fight that is going on through a river, there’s dwarves, there’s orcs, there’s elves, it’s just glorious to look at. The music in that scene is something I’ve listened to time and time again. If I had any problems with the movie, it would be one thing and it’s how some of the effects actually somehow look better in the trailer as opposed to the movie. I’m not saying the visual effects in the movie were bad, I’m just saying that they didn’t look as good as what I saw in the trailer. While “An Unexpected Journey” may have been the first “Lord of the Rings” film I’ve seen, “The Desolation of Smaug” began my love for the franchise (movie-wise) and this still stands today as my favorite “Lord of the Rings” movie.

5: Avatar is OVERRATED!

Ah, 2009, the decade is coming to an end, everyone’s 2010 fever is rising, and at the end of the year, we’ve gotten, based on advertising, possibly the biggest movie of the decade. James Cameron, the director of the first two films in the “Terminator” franchise, is back in the director’s chair. The CGI looks very impressive, this movie’s being built up like hell, everybody’s super stoked to see James Cameron’s first film since “Titanic.” A film named “Avatar.” I saw this movie in the theater, and while I was somewhat impressed with what I saw, I really couldn’t say it was super duper. The CGI, as mentioned, is objectively amazing. Everything looks like you’re on a realistic theme park ride, but as a story, not only has it been done before, but upon rewatch, the story isn’t really something this movie has me coming back for. Not to mention, when this movie was released in theaters, it basically brought a huge rise in digital projection. While digital projection may be easier to use than film projection. Film projection from experience usually provides better images. A good number of digital projectors might give off an image at a resolution slightly higher than HD. Some theaters operate in 4K, but it’s still not as clear as film projection. I went to see the movie in 2D, and I imagine the 3D was awesome, but this is probably part of what brought the rise of 3D shows becoming a normality. And while certain movies are thrilling in 3D, there are those movies that really didn’t need conversion in the first place. I mean, it probably could have been worse. At least the cameras used to shoot the film were actually 3D cameras and the movie wasn’t just post-converted. I haven’t seen the film I’m going to be talking about here, but here’s a fun fact for you. You may be aware of a Disney film which came out in 1995 called “Pocahontas.” I’m going to provide a link down below to something I want you to see. “Avatar” is basically just another version of “Pocahontas!” By the way, on IMDb, “Avatar” has a higher combined rating.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/04/avatar-pocahontas-in-spac_n_410538.html

4: Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a CHOCOLATE-COVERED DELIGHT!

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Remakes and reboots are usually frowned upon by moviegoers, but it doesn’t mean good ones don’t exist. To me, one of the good ones happens to be “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Some of you probably have your pitchforks ready and that’s understandable, but please hear me out. For those of you who don’t know, Rohld Dahl created a book called “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” back in 1964, it has grown in popularity ever since and it is often read by children. Then in 1971, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” came out, starring Gene Wilder, I think that’s a great movie. It’s not exactly faithful to the source material in every single way, but in ways it isn’t faithful, it still works. Ever since it came out, it has remained as one of the most popular musical films and family films to date. Then in 2005, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” came out. What do I like about “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?” It gives a twist on a tale we already know and manages to be a darker interpretation which I can appreciate. Not to mention it relies on the source material in ways “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” didn’t. I don’t mind the Oompa-Loompas in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” in fact their songs are catchy, but the Oompa-Loompas in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” sing songs that resemble songs written in the book. Instead of being labeled a bad egg, Veruca Salt is labeled a bad nut. In fact, the scene in the nut room is awesome! There are more similarities, but I don’t want to go on a tangent, in fact the movie isn’t a complete copy of the book. Much like the 1971 movie, the 2005 movie has a different ending than the book. Honestly, the 1971 movie had the better ending. Wonka was kind of a jerk as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” came to a close, this changes as the movie goes on, but still. Speaking of Wonka, Johnny Depp’s performance could have been better, and as of right now I probably mean WAY BETTER. Also, I gotta say, Mike Teevee in “Charlie” was a great character. That’s not to say 1971 Mike Teevee was bad, but I also admire 2005 Mike Teevee. His introduction is AWESOME. We see him playing a video game in front of his TV, there’s a bunch of press around him, his parents are there. He’s kind of mopey and just trying to concentrate on his game. The thing I find funny about Teevee is that he hates chocolate. I think the writer nailed Teevee’s personality perfectly! Also, I love Danny Elfman’s score. It’s so dark, it’s so intriguing, and it’s just wicked investing! Is “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” perfect? Not really. Is it watchable? AB-SO-F*CKING-LUTELY!

3: Mad Max: Fury Road is OVERRATED!

I love it when movies can literally immerse you. I felt this way during certain movies. Some examples include “Interstellar,” “Dunkirk,” “Hardcore Henry,” “Oz the Great and Powerful,” and “Doctor Strange.” Another movie that belongs in that category to me is “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Although just because it’s immersive, it doesn’t mean I enjoyed it as much as I wanted to. For the record, I saw this in 3D in the theater, so it would have been surprising for the experience to let me down. What I got out of the experience was pure awesomeness, but I really wanted a better movie. After watching “Fury Road” I said to myself multiple times that I think it’s a great film from a technical perspective, but I wanted more from a story perspective. This film was filled with practical effects and it’s just an explosive chase from beginning to end. I still can’t get that one guy with the guitar out of my head. This movie actually broke a common rule used in cinema, that being the rule of thirds, which basically has a subject of focus on a left or right side of a camera frame. In this movie, a lot of the footage has its subjects centered. This can be an advantage if you’re a viewer because this means you won’t really have to tilt your head as much while you’re watching the movie. I couldn’t really get into too many of the characters, I was mainly into a lot of the other crazy stuff. Also, I recall my experience and there were times in the theater that I couldn’t make out some of the dialogue. Maybe if I watch the movie at home that’ll change, but it’s something that happened to me. Another thing I’ll mention is that I haven’t seen another “Mad Max” movie aside from “Fury Road.” Maybe there’s a chance this opinion will change once I witness another one of those movies.

2: Spider-Man 3 is ENJOYABLE!

Spider-Man, without a doubt, is one of my all time favorite superheroes. I grew up with Spidey, I watch Spidey, I love Spidey and in the realm of movies, there are a number of things when it comes to Spider-Man that I can agree with when it comes to the opinions of others, the majority’s thoughts on “Spider-Man 3” however is something I can’t agree with. Now, let me just say, “Spider-Man 3” in my opinion is not the best of all the “Spider-Man” movies, that medal actually belongs to “Spider-Man 2.” When it comes to “Spider-Man 3,” it’s a movie that a lot of people consider to be the worst “Spider-Man” movie ever made, and one of the worst comic book movies ever made. I personally disagree on both of those statements. Some of you may be thinking right now “Oh you’re just a Sam Raimi fanboy!” No I’m not, if I were a Sam Raimi fanboy, I would say his movies are perfect. I didn’t say “Spider-Man 3” is perfect! In fact, let’s point out some flaws I have with it right now. This movie interjects a similarity to “Batman & Robin,” which is adding in too many villains. They weren’t all terrible, but there was one that was literally shoehorned in there, AKA Venom. Flint Marko’s transformation to sandman was kind of idiotic because he landed in a pit of sand, which, yeah, things happen, but the problem I have with that is that a bunch of scientists are operating a machine above the sand. It’s turned on, and before it starts its procedure, one scientist picked up “a change in the silicon mass” in the pit, not exactly suggesting the scientist knows there’s a person in there specifically, and another scientist goes off on that statement saying “It’s probably a bird, it’ll fly away when we fire it up.” Based on the change given, is that really believable? There is NO spider-sense tingling sounds in this movie! Just a personal preference. Also, one complaint you’ll agree on is that the jazz club scene is rather cringeworthy. Now I don’t hate it as much as other people, I just think it’s a weak scene. But it could honestly be worse. It does illustrate the personality of certain characters and it plays into Peter’s development as a character. I’d rather watch that scene than “Suicide Squad” again! There are a lot of things I like about this movie I haven’t mentioned. I like the action scenes, the music, J Jonah Jamesson, the rivalry between Peter and Harry, this movie has plenty of positives that part of me imagines has once been overshadowed by the movie’s negatives for some people. I’ll even go as far as to say this movie is better than “Spider-Man: Homecoming!” I’m not joking!

1: Baby Groot SUCKS!

Ah, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” This movie had me going into it with high expectations and it ultimately disappointed me. The movie wasn’t bad, it just disappointed me. I did think there were some redeeming qualities shown throughout such as the visuals, some of the fight scenes, and the character of Ego. However, this movie wasn’t perfect, and part of it has to do with F*CKING BABY GROOT! I hated this thing! Groot from the first “Guardians” was a cool character. Somewhat one-dimensional, but his charm ultimately was revealed to me. Baby Groot however is not only one-dimensional, he’s just taking this picture which is meant to be a superhero flick and turning it into a f*cking toy commercial! When I first saw him at the beginning of the flick, it set the tone for the whole movie, I couldn’t even tolerate what I was watching. The movie had an opportunity to show us an opening action sequence, but we cut away from that just to focus on this twig! I know that Baby Groot is considered cute by many people, but based on how much he stole from the entire movie as a movie, he got on my nerves. This is part of why I don’t own a Baby Groot toy unlike a lot of other people. What if R2-D2 was just made to serve no purpose in all of his movies other than to sell toys? You can argue he’s that way in “Rogue One,” but what if he was that way in the original “Star Wars?” I expected Baby Groot to leave some sort of impact on the movie, but not this kind of impact! I already thought “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” was overrated but the fact that this character is being put on such a pedestal right now is astounding to me! Sure, some people think he’s cute and I imagine kids like him, but there’s so many things I found annoying about him. In a way, he’s almost like Toad from “Super Mario Bros.,” puny and annoying. Not to mention, after seeing Baby Groot, it kind of makes me worried about the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Will we ever see a great MCU movie ever again? I already said I wasn’t a massive fan of “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” which was somewhat enjoyable, but it wasn’t what I wanted it to be. “Thor: Ragnarok” looks visually pleasing, but I’m not sure how I feel about it from a story perspective. I imagine the fight between Thor and Hulk will be cool, but this ultimately, judging from the trailers, might be filled with certain things I’ve already seen. Not to mention the vibe doesn’t feel like it fits “Thor.” “Black Panther” honestly looks intolerable. I’ve only seen the trailer a couple times but it really didn’t impress me. I hope “Avengers: Infinity War” is good otherwise this franchise might fall. Is “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” a bad movie? No. Is it overrated? Sure. Although before I think to myself that the movie’s overrated, I might think to myself about the horror I had to suffer through while glancing at Baby Groot. I’m sorry if you like him, and clearly a large portion of the world does, but in my world he’s as annoying as Spirit Airlines.

Thanks for reading this countdown, I hope you aren’t planning to kill me or my family after I made this list, but I’m sorry if this list has various things you don’t agree with. Do you have any unpopular opinions in the realm of movies? What are they? Do you agree with any of my picks? Do you think my mind should be adjusted? Do you think you can convince me to change my mind about one of these picks? Leave a comment below and maybe I’ll respond! Also, stay tuned because tomorrow I’ll have my last review in my series of Tom Cruise films, and that review will be for “The Firm!” Stay tuned for that review and more great content! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!