Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022): An In Your Face, All Over the Place, Alternate Reality Craze with America Chavez and Doctor Strange *SPOILER-FREE*

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is directed by Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, Spider-Man) and stars Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek: Into Darkness, The Power of the Dog), Elizabeth Olsen (Godzilla, Wind River), Chiwetel Ejiofor (The Lion King, 2012), Benedict Wong (Annihilation, Raya and the Last Dragon), Xochitl Gomez (The Baby-Sitters Club, Gentefied), Michael Stuhlbarg (The Shape of Water, Call Me by Your Name), and Rachel McAdams (Game Night, Mean Girls). This film is a sequel to the 2016 film “Doctor Strange,” it is the 28th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and follows the titular wizard as he joins forces with America Chavez on a reality-spanning journey to save the multiverse from impending doom, whilst also seeking the help from Wanda Maximoff and Wong.

The first “Doctor Strange” was a fun movie, and arguably the most visually stunning Marvel Cinematic Universe film at the time it came out. I went to see the film in IMAX 3D and had no regrets. Looking back, the climax was not that memorable, and neither was the film’s main antagonist. The latter is typical of these MCU films so why should I be surprised? I frankly feel the same way about “The Incredible Hulk,” “Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Thor: The Dark World,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” among a few other movies in this universe. The villains do not always work, but at the same time, the movie is not about them. The movie is about the hero. And when it comes to establishing a great hero, the original “Doctor Strange” does that. The character has also been a highlight in other MCU titles where he is not the main focus, most recently “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” Coincidentally, given that movie’s success and how much it have could have possibly teased what is to come in later MCU installments, including this one, I had high expectations for “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” to the point where it may have been my most anticipated movie of the year, if not in my top 3.

SAN DIEGO, CA – JULY 12: Director Sam Raimi speaks at the “Oz: The Great and Powerful” panel during Comic-Con International 2012 at San Diego Convention Center on July 12, 2012 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/WireImage)

Plus, get this, Sam Raimi has returned to direct comic book movies again! I ADORE Sam Raimi’s work on the “Spider-Man” movies, even the third one. Yes, I liked it. I don’t care. If you are not going to respect my opinion then I will put some dirt in your eye. How much do I like those “Spider-Man” movies? In addition to liking “Spider-Man 3,” totally digging the 2002 “Spider-Man” movie, and literally claiming “Spider-Man 2” to be my favorite comic book movie ever, I could think of few people more capable of helming a movie like this than Sam Raimi. In addition, the film from the start was said to have horror elements. Raimi has experience in the genre with movies like “Evil Dead” and “Drag Me to Hell,” so this added up to be a movie fit for Raimi’s chops. Danny Elfman is also here doing the score! He and Raimi have been partners for years! This is not Elfman’s first MCU rodeo, because he also scored “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” but I will say, having seen both films, his score for this movie is better than his 2015 counterpart.

What did I think of “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness?” I think the film definitely lives up to its name, that being madness. But I also think that when it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this is one of its more inferior installments. For the record, I was not one of those people looking for the most obscure cameos imaginable. That is not why I wanted to go see this movie. Yes, we have some cool moments from heroes like Captain Carter, which was shown in a couple television spots, but at the heart, this is a “Doctor Strange” movie and it does not distract itself from that. Just about every factor and decision that goes into the film’s script revolves around or is affected by Strange himself. The movie does not teeter away from that. In the same way, I would say from a directorial standpoint, this is very much a Sam Raimi film. From a directorial point of view, this is better than some of the other recent Marvel movies if you ask me. Even though I liked each installment in the Jon Watts “Spider-Man” trilogy, I feel like Watts did not have a distinct style by the end of the third film. His tendencies felt basic and there were some choices by the end that I would have changed. In the same way, I feel like “Black Widow” came off as a basic blockbuster shot on green screen. Cate Shortland, despite her best efforts, did not exactly reveal an individualistic touch I could grasp. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” even though it obviously has Kevin Feige’s showrunner-like ideas brought to the table, is very much a Sam Raimi film. Between the action and scares, it definitely has that Sam Raimi touch. Heck, Bruce Campbell’s even in the movie! I won’t say where or how, but he’s in it!

This sequel is as much of a visual feast as its predecessor. In fact, why wouldn’t it be? It is a multiverse-spanning movie, allowing for infinite visual possibilities. There is this one scene where we see America and Stephen jumping from one multiverse to another and it is a literal acid trip. Let me say, I am not one who chooses to partake in any heavy drug-related activities, but if there were a movie out right now that I would call a perfect choice for such activities, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is a contender.

Speaking of activities I would mainly recommend for adults, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” presents a possible first in the MCU. If it is not a first, it is something that definitely has not happened in a long time. Every MCU movie so far has been PG-13. The TV shows have always been TV-14. So if you are a teenager, chances are you can probably handle what is on screen. But that does not mean that select younger viewers cannot watch this content either. I know some families have gone to see MCU movies in the theater. Kids often like these movies. Having seen “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” this is the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that I would recommend parents consider leaving the kids at home for. I am not saying that kids cannot watch it. If they want to watch this movie, there is nothing wrong with that. But all I am saying is that parents should be prepared for what this movie has to offer, because this may be the least kid-friendly MCU movie yet. It is definitely more kid-friendly than the R rated DC action-adventure “The Suicide Squad,” which came out last year, but you have been warned.

What do I mean? There is tons of violence that rises above the levels of what the MCU has depicted thus far, including some gorey moments. Once again I go back to the notion that this is the first movie in this universe to truly have elements of horror. Sure, there are moments in the MCU that could be considered dark. We’ve seen Asgard fall in “Thor: Ragnarok.” We see Peter Parker fall to his lowest point in “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” and it is emotionally charging. The ending of “Avengers: Infinity War” is a potential setup for heartbreak. But “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is the first truly scary MCU film. I am not saying it is the scariest movie ever, it is most certainly not. But there are elements in the movie that made me feel like I was watching something like “The Conjuring” instead of an action flick. This is not a bad thing, I really like the way this film went about it.

But I will say if you like massive, loud, and well-shot fantasy action, this film does not disappoint. The effects are amazing. There is not a lot of insane quick cutting. There are a variety of battles in this movie that give you a different flavor every time. These are probably some of the few action sequences I have watched in the MCU that had me feeling icky inside. Perhaps in a good way. But that ickiness did not take away from the excitement and joy I had in others.

I was surprised on how much I liked the chemistry between Doctor Strange and America Chavez. Their relationship is essentially the foundation on which this movie builds itself upon. Despite coming off as perhaps the most visionary of the Marvel superheroes, Strange is still humble, and it shows through his interactions with Chavez, whose knowledge of the multiverse is revealed to be greater than his. Because even though Strange has some knowledge, experience, and has made claims on how certain actions will be a benefit to the greater span of the multiverse, Chavez invites Strange along for a ride while also showcasing how multiversal jumping has practically become normal for her.

As for America Chavez herself, she is portrayed by Xochitl Gomez, who is only in her teens. I would like to see more from Chavez if possible, and I think Gomez did a good job portraying the character. I would like to discover what she does next in her career if she never comes back to Marvel.

But of course we need to talk about Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange. Not only do I continue to buy Cumberbatch as this character, but I have to give major credit to everyone behind the makeup for Cumberbatch, because this movie unveils different looks for the character, and not just to sell toys (that too), but when you have a movie where you have more than one Doctor Strange from more than one universe, you are going to have to get clever with how you handle one actor, should you choose to handle one actor, which this movie did. His character partially hinges on some off screen events that come into play with this film, where we reveal Rachel McAdams’s character of Christine Palmer no longer in love with Strange. She is marrying someone else, and while Strange is able to live with himself, this plays a heavy role in the plot as we span through the multiverses.

Although, I will not go into much detail, and this brings me into one of my most prominent complaints of the movie. When I reviewed “Black Panther” four years ago, I claimed that it contains arguably the most forced kiss in cinematic history. Similarly, I think “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” contains one of the most poorly conceived lines I have heard in the MCU, because it frankly feels out of character for Doctor Strange, even though it matches up with events that happen in the movie. It sounds more like something out of a cheesy romance novel than what this movie and its characters have to offer. It is one line, but it nevertheless bothers me.

I want to talk about my core worry for the MCU, and how it is only growing. I am not one of these people who claims they have comic book movie fatigue, but if there is one thing that has been on my mind these past couple years, it is not only how much content we are getting, but also how said content potentially affects the greater span of the universe. If you read my review for “Black Widow,” I touch on this by saying the movie contains a particular moment that sets up or teases a television show for Disney+. The reason why that was a concern for me was because for over a decade, the films have been organized and told through one medium, and now that we have television into the mix, it is only going to make things more convoluted, and as a viewer, I feel like I am starting to watch Marvel content for homework. In fact, I went to see this movie with my dad, who I invited to my living room to watch “WandaVision,” which is great television by the way, prior to seeing this film. I knew going into the film that “WandaVision” would be somewhat connected to how everything unfolds. After all, Wanda is in the movie, and we see some references to the show as well. Having seen this movie, I think if you do not watch “WandaVision,” you may be fine. The movie does its best to catch you up. But I think your experience will be heavily enhanced if you tend to seek it out. This is why I am somewhat concerned about the MCU’s future, because let’s say they decide to make a “Moon Knight” movie. How much of the TV show would I have to remember by then to fully enjoy it? In fact, the marketing kind of reveals that this movie is connected to “What If…?” of all things. The cartoon MCU show. We live in crazy times. And no, you do not have to watch “What If…?” to understand or appreciate this movie despite there being connections to the show.

Although on the note of possibly having to watch “WandaVision” before seeing this movie, I do want to talk about Wanda herself. Previously, she has been in multiple MCU movie installments thus far as a heroic figure, and of course in “WandaVision” she finally became the center of attention, allowing actress Elizabeth Olsen to unleash her almighty chops. There are few characters in the MCU that I feel as bad for as Wanda. She watched her partner die twice, succumbed to the Blip, and felt so bad for herself and her former love interest to the point where she wanted to take control of an entire town and make life revolve entirely around her. That said, as this film’s main antagonist, the Scarlet Witch, she pulls no punches. While I did feel bad for Wanda some time ago, my emotional connection has lessened now that she continuously uses power for what she sees fit, but at the expense of someone who does not deserve a certain fate. I do not think Wanda is my favorite antagonist of the MCU, but she is definitely up there.

In the end, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is not the best MCU film, nor is it the worst. But if you want my thoughts on this film compared to the first “Doctor Strange,” I think I like the original better. I will definitely be going back to watch this film again when I have time. I think it could at times be a proper tech demo for a new television. This film also has one of the best uses of music in a Marvel film to date. And I am not just talking about the score itself, but there is a scene where music heavily comes into play, and it is hypnotizing. Danny Elfman for life! This feels weird to say, but this may be in contention for my least favorite Sam Raimi comic book movie. I know what everyone says about “Spider-Man 3,” but I frankly had fun with it. I have to think about whether I like this film more or less than “Spider-Man 3.” That is not to say “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is a bad movie. I liked it. I am also not saying Raimi did not put enough effort into the directorial vision of this film. The on-screen story was well executed. But I am also noticing that Raimi’s worst comic book movies are the ones that are likely heavily influenced by higher powers. Sam Raimi did not want to put Venom in “Spider-Man 3” despite Avi Arad’s wishes. Similarly, the MCU has its own stories and threads from other content that have been interweaved into this film. Even though I mentioned that this movie feels like a Sam Raimi film, it also has the Kevin Feige effect where Raimi appears to have less creative freedom (to be fair though, he did not write the film, “Loki” writer Michael Waldron did) than he did in other works of his. I am still onboard with the MCU, but I am noticing more and more that as stories continue to come up and as threads constantly tie together, convolution and possible oversaturation feel inevitable. I cannot wait for “Thor: Love and Thunder,” but I also think as we get more content, it is starting to feel like too much is happening at once. That said, I enjoyed “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” and I am going to give it a 7/10.

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now!

Thanks for reading this review! If you want to see me talk about a movie perhaps way more incompetently than I do today, feel free to check out my review for the 2016 “Doctor Strange.” This was one of my earlier reviews and I made it when I was still developing a style, but if you want to read it, go ahead. Also, speaking of “Doctor Strange,” if you want to read a more competent review of a movie where he appears, feel free to check out my thoughts on “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” And it is spoiler-free for the ten people reading this who have neither seen or heard of the film. Next week, I am seeing “The Bob’s Burgers Movie,” so stay tuned for my thoughts on that! If you want to see this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness?” What did you think about it? Or, which “Doctor Strange” movie is your favorite? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021): Sony and Marvel’s Thrilling, Emotional Love Letter to Three Generations of the Webhead *SPOILER-FREE*

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) - IMDb

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is directed by Jon Watts, who also directed the previous two MCU-set “Spider-Man” installments, which also have home in the title. I’m assuming if they make a fourth movie, it’s gonna be called “Grand Slam?” You know, instead of home run? Four?

Anybody?

Who cares?

Anyway, this film stars Tom Holland (Cherry, Onward), Zendaya (Space Jam: A New Legacy, Dune), Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek: Into Darkness, Sherlock), Jacob Batalon (Blood Fest, Let it Snow) Jon Favreau (Chef, Solo: A Star Wars Story), Jamie Foxx (Soul, Ray), Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse, Aquaman), Alfred Molina (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time), Benedict Wong (Annihilation, Raya and the Last Dragon), Tony Revolori (Dope, The Grand Budapest Hotel), and Marisa Tomei (Parental Guidance, Anger Management). This film revolves around Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man, who has to deal with the newfound dangers that lie ahead now that his identity has been revealed, in addition to being connected to the recent event of Mysterio’s drone swarm in London, which have been interpreted differently by the general public. When Peter seeks Dr. Strange’s help to make everyone forget he was Spider-Man, the spell to make such a thing happen goes wrong, villains from other universes arrive, and it is up to Peter to do the right thing before the dangers of one universe then become the dangers of another.

Alright guys, it is that time again. A big movie in December. Although this time around, it’s not in the “Star Wars” franchise. Still huge. That being said, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is the biggest movie of the year. I should note the box office suggests that this film is enormous, but there are still people who have not seen the film. I know at least a couple. With that being said, I will note that this review is spoiler-free. I am going to talk about certain points in the film that stand out, but I’m not going to go into deeper plot points. If you have not seen this movie and plan to see it, I can tell you that this review is safe to read.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is a follow-up to “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Spider-Man: Far from Home.” I have to say that when it comes to the first film, it is slightly more enjoyable than I remember it being. But given Spider-Man’s excellent writing in “Captain America: Civil War,” the writing for that film felt like a step down. I really liked Vulture. Peter’s chemistry with Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) was charming. I even liked Liz in that film. I still think the film has logic issues when it comes to how Peter’s suit works and how Tony Stark would want it to work, but the film is still decent enough to pass the time. When it comes to “Spider-Man: Far from Home,” that film felt like a step up. Jake Gyllenhaal did a great job as Mysterio. I liked Ned a bit better this time around compared to the original. Plus it was nice to see Spider-Man somewhere other than New York for a change. Plus, the end of the film promised a fantastic setup for what would ultimately become “No Way Home.”

When it comes to “No Way Home,” is it a thumbs up or a thumbs down?

I think neither. I’d say TWO thumbs up.

Now, like almost everyone else, I should note that my anticipation and my excitement for “No Way Home” was high. Not as much as “Dune,” but still high. But I was also nervous. Because the film promised massive multiversal shenanigans, which sounds great. I should note… It SOUNDS great. During the fall as we built up to this film’s release, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” in my mind sounded like it could be one of two things. It’s either going to be the best movie ever, or the worst movie ever, and nowhere in between. In crossover-speak, is it going to be the next “Infinity War?” Or is it going to be the next “Space Jam: A New Legacy?” God that movie was awful. Thankfully, upon leaving the theater, I can confirm that I felt excited to go see the movie again in less than 24 hours, and my mind literally melted on the way home from how exciting this movie was to watch.

This film has a ton of villains ranging from Doc Ock to Electro, but it’s not like they’re just there for nostalgia purposes. Granted, at the end of the day, this film is sort of a tribute to the Spider-Man character and all the stories that came before this one. Anyone can put in a ton of cool characters and have them fight against Spider-Man. Heck, this movie could be Spider-Man vs. Godzilla vs. Agent Smith vs. Ron Burgundy, but it does not guarantee a good movie. It’s a basic case of concept vs. reality. The concept is great, but the reality could suck. But here’s the truth about all these villains…

Jamie Foxx’s Electro was written ten times better than he was written in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” Now, I will admit, they did kind of highlight a specific aspect about him from that film, specifically how Max was a nobody, which I thought had some okay setup before he was affected by a bunch of eels. But as we see him enter this universe, I could really tell that he was confused, he was concerned, and had no idea what was going on. They’ve even given him a new costume, which may be for story purposes, sure, but of course, who doesn’t want to sell more toys? Why do you think they gave 3PO a red arm in “The Force Awakens?”

My favorite villain of Raimi’s “Spider-Man” films was always Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock. I feel like even though his character was truly at the end of the day, an evil mastermind, he also had a heart. He went through tragedy the same way Peter did in those movies when he lost Uncle Ben. Only in the case of Doc Ock, he used his tragedy for evil, partially for a reason beyond his control. Even though he terrorized New York City, I feel bad for him, looking back. Plus, his arms are among some of the best practical effects ever. As for how he’s handled in this movie, I like the way they went about exploring his character’s newfound questions. After all, when you enter another universe, everything feels completely strange. Although when they first introduced him, they had a potential plot hole that could have affected how I viewed the entire movie that was corrected about ten to twenty minutes later. Glad they touched up on that. In this film, instead of his arms being practical, they were CGI, and I honestly could barely tell the difference. They did a really good job at making Doc Ock fit into a universe like this, even though it’s really the same character as another one.

But if you’re going to ask me who I think gives the single greatest performance out of all the film’s villains, I think that would have to be Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin. Now I always sensed that Dafoe enjoyed playing the character of Norman Osborn and being a part of the “Spider-Man” franchise. Even after his character died in “Spider-Man” (2002) he came back for the sequels, and there’s also a bonus feature where Alfred Molina is pranked by Dafoe, wearing the Doc Ock tentacles, trying to motivate Molina to give the greatest performance possible. Part of this movie centers around Osborn struggling with his inner self, which is not new for him, and I feel like we get so many layers to his character. We see his bewilderment of the world around him. We see him conflict over power and normalcy, and I think his dark side is more evident than ever. Whenever he does something truly horrific in this film, not only is it well written, I think it may deliver the best performance I have seen out of a Spider-Man villain in a long. Long. Long. Long time. I really liked the Green Goblin in the 2002 “Spider-Man” movie. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” arguably made him even better.

Now I will say that there are a couple other villains in this film, including Sandman and Lizard. Of the film’s villains, those two were the weakest, but they were still better than a lot of the villains we get in the MCU nowadays. I say that because a lot of the films in the MCU sometimes fail to heighten the villain and instead we get a cliche bad guy who just stands in the hero’s way. These are two are better than Ronan in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” And they’re especially better than Malekith in “Thor: The Dark World.” These two have some occasional funny lines, and I like Lizard’s reference to his master plan which Electro ended up making fun of. It’s not like they did not need to be in the movie, the movie is definitely cool with them and they do not end up doing anything offensive. But of all the villains in the film, Sandman and Lizard are the weakest links because they have the least depth. We get more time with Doc Ock and Goblin, therefore we have more opportunities to see depth for them, but for Sandman and Lizard, not so much.

But of course, this film belongs to the heroes. Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Ned, and MJ.

All of these actors who play the heroes are great and I think when it comes to Ned (center) in this movie, he’s kind of a bundle of joy. When I saw Ned for the first time in “Homecoming,” I thought he was annoying. I kind of grown to like him in that movie a little bit, because I kind of get the enthusiasm behind finding out your best friend is Spider-Man, but I think of these three movies, he had the worst writing because his questions can get excessive. To me, the writing in this film made the most sense of the three, although his storyline in “Far from Home” was hilarious. It’s one way to write teen love I guess. Although if I have one thing to say, it’s not a huge complaint, but it is something worth pointing out, something happens with Ned in this movie that is out of random chance. It was never something that was established that he could do, or something he learned. It just happened. I mean, if you watched the movie, they “teased” it a little, but kind of as a joke, nothing more. I guess foreshadowing is foreshadowing, even if it’s a throwaway joke.

Zendaya’s MJ is another character that to me evolved with time. In the first film, she felt overly snarky. In the second film, I got to know her a little better and I began to appreciate her as a character just a bit more. In this third film, we see her with Spider-Man from the start, and I think their chemistry has blossomed into something special. It is worth noting that all three live-action Spider-Men from Tobey Maguire to Andrew Garfield to Tom Holland all dated their character-based love interests at one point in real life. Maybe that’s why their chemistry all feels natural. There was a scene on a school rooftop, it’s in the trailer, that stood out to me as to why Holland and Zendaya work together. Although I was a bit surprised to see MJ reading a physical newspaper as opposed to some article on her phone. I dunno, just a stereotypical generational thing.

Doctor Strange is in this film as well, and judging by the trailers, his performance at first felt a little different from his previous outings in the MCU. Having seen the movie, and having remembered some of the other movies he’s been in, it actually feels somewhat consistent. Maybe it feels different because he’s communicating with teenagers, which may not be his forte. I may be making excuses, but I think if you’re an adult, you may have a way of communicating with teenagers in a slightly different tone than you would with your spouse or your boss. You know, unless your employer works at “LitDonald’s!” Keep it 100 with our Big Lit! Sauce me some of those yeet fries! Enjoy the LitRib for a limited time! Although when it comes to consistency, there is a one-liner out of Strange about birthday parties that feels wonderfully similar in tone to this exchange in “Infinity War.”

Dr. Stephen Strange: If we don’t do our jobs…

Tony Stark: What is your job, exactly, besides making balloon animals?

Dr. Stephen Strange: Protecting your reality, douchebag.

But of course, we need to talk about Tom Holland. Spider-Man stories have shown a balance between a hero struggling to maintain his friendships, his identity, while also trying to save the world. In the case of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” this balance is handled brilliantly. The film starts off right where the last one ended, and right off the bat we already see Spider-Man protecting what he has left of his identity, his love interest, and the people he knows. We already start off the movie with one of the worst possible things that could have happened to Peter Parker, and that’s just the beginning. We see him deal with controversy in school. Parker’s trying to find a lawyer. The people he loves are being hurt for reasons beyond their control. As we go through Spider-Man’s journey, the tragedy only builds up. And this is what makes Spider-Man a hero. When he goes to Doctor Strange to make everyone forget he’s Spider-Man, he’s not just looking out for himself, he’s looking out for the people around him. His friends, family, colleagues. There’s a subplot in the film where the trio are trying to get into college and that is only made harder through their connections to the battle in London.

I expected this film to be exciting. I expected this film to be fun. But part of me was not ready for how much emotion this movie packs. Now I figured there would be at least one emotional moment because it is the third film of a trilogy and that’s where certain ends are tied up for good and that sort of thing. This film has multiple powerful scenes and happenings that bring a balance between the expected excitement and the emotional weight. Tom Holland in this film honestly delivers one of the best performances of his career because of this. I don’t think he’ll be nominated for an Oscar, but by the end of the film, there’s a particular arc that is perfectly assembled and you don’t even need words for it. Just the expressions on his face alone make the scene perfect. You may know what I’m talking about when it comes around.

Although I do want to talk about one thing when it comes to the emotion. This is a spoiler-free review, so I will not go into detail. But the ending of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” despite its instant feeling of satisfaction, induction of a smile, and solid conclusiveness to certain characters, probably would have been made better if Peter did one thing to possibly prevent another thing from happening. If I did a spoiler review, I would expand on it. But again, I cannot. The point of me making this review is not to discuss every single plot point and detail. It is to convince my viewers as to whether they could make a formal decision on whether “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is worth seeing. I recommend you do, I think this is easily one of best “Spider-Man” films ever made. But I want my viewers to go into this film knowing as little as possible, but with enough details as to what I like, didn’t like, and maybe that will help them know whether or not this movie is for them. I would not instantly recommend this movie to my mom (although I would recommend Shang-Chi), but I do recommend a lot of you reading this should go check out “No Way Home” on the biggest screen you can.

I will also point out that this is Jon Watts’s third film in this trilogy, making him the first director to direct a complete trilogy in the MCU. Jon Favreau directed two installments for “Iron Man,” but Shane Black did the third. Joss Whedon did the first two “Avengers” films, but the next two ended up going to the Russo Brothers. When it comes to all three movies, they are solid. But the directing in these films do not really give him much of a chance to individualize himself. And as for this movie, I think Willem Dafoe’s face reveal, as exciting as it was, could have been handled slightly better. It was still exciting, but it was very quick. Although I think if you take into account the end of the film and the performances from just about everyone, this may be the best-directed film in the franchise. Everyone felt true to their characters and when came to Peter’s emotions, Watts likely knew exactly how to touch base with Tom Holland. I think after seeing this film, I am curious to see if there are any specific quirks Watts develops, but I nevertheless think he will do a good job with “Fantastic 4,” whenever that comes out.

One last thing before we move on, J.K. Simmons is back as J. Jonah Jameson. You saw the little snippet of him in the previous film, but now we have him here and the way they utilize him is perfect. For this modern era, his placement in the universe makes sense. He’s basically Alex Jones if he was trying to find a cure for his balding. After seeing this film, I am convinced that nobody else aside from J.K. Simmons can play J. Jonah Jameson. Debate over.

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

In the end, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is the best film in the Jon Watts trilogy. It’s a triumph for Tom Holland. It’s at the end of the day, a love letter to the character. My favorite “Spider-Man” movie is “Spider-Man 2,” and right below that would have to be this one. It’s that good. The movie has its flaws, but no movie’s perfect. I think the best part about “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is that it doesn’t just use all these previous characters and actors just for the sake of marketing. Granted, it definitely helps. But each villain had at minimum, the slightest of reason to be there. Even Sandman and Lizard. The first two “Spider-Man” films in the MCU happen to be about teenage Spider-Man dealing with teenage situations from crushes to school dances. This film, in my imagination, is literally Spider-Man attempting to push back a giant boulder of inconveniences and tragedies. And by the end of the film, I felt enough of its weight to make me care for everyone. If you like “Spider-Man,” you will love this movie. I don’t know if you will like it more depending on whether you have seen the other villains before, but that’s another debate for another time. Please check this film out, take your friends, take your family, take everyone. It’s best experienced with an audience, and there are some are some epic potential applause break moments depending on when and where you see this film. I’m going to give “Spider-Man: No Way Home” a 9/10.

To me, this kind of reminds me of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood…” because despite the glaring issues that such a movie has, I ended up giving it a 9/10. The reason for that is because those issues barely get in the way of all the other crazy sequences and crowd-pleasers of this film. The fan part of me wants to give a perfect score, but again, there’s some issues that keep that from happening. There’s the fan side of me and the critic side of me. Today, I have to be the critic. The film is an experience that I want erased from my memory in order to go back and witness again. For those reasons alone, I highly recommend you go watch this film in a theater. But reserve your tickets in advance, you’re gonna want the best seats.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! I want to let you guys know that I have more reviews coming up including one for “King Richard.” Stay tuned for that! If you want to see more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Spider-Man: No Way Home?” What did you think about it? Or, which Jon Watts-directed “Spider-Man” movie is your favorite? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Eternals (2021): Chloe Zhao’s First Post-Best Picture Effort

“Eternals” is directed by Chloe Zhao, who is the writer, director, and editor of the current champion of the Academy Awards, “Nomadland.” For those who don’t know, the film was nominated for several awards, took home a few, including Best Picture, so naturally my anticipation for this film, at the time, was honestly HIGHER than “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which seems to be the movie all comic book film fans have been building themselves up to this year. Sounds crazy, but I’m not lying. This film stars Gemma Chan (Transformers: The Last Knight, Raya and the Last Dragon), Richard Madden (Cinderella, Game of Thrones), Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley, The Big Sick), Lia McHugh (The Lodge, American Woman), Brian Tyree Henry (Vice Principals, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), Lauren Ridloff (Sound of Metal, The Walking Dead), Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk, American Animals), Don Lee (Train to Busan, The Neighbors), Harish Patel (Run Fatboy Run, Today’s Special), Kit Harington (Game of Thrones, Pompeii), Salma Hayek (The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Grown Ups), and Angelina Jolie (Salt, Wanted).

This film is about a group of everlasting beings who have lived on earth for 7,000 years. They take the form of human, although they are not exactly human per se. Throughout their time on earth, they take it upon themselves to protect life from the Deviants, a set of invasive creatures who the Eternals finished off by 1521. Or, at least that was they were told originally was their mission. But now, somehow the Deviants made a return, allowing for the Eternals to reassemble after years apart to protect humanity and prevent the Emergence, or an essential rebirth of earth, which had been delayed due to the Blip that eliminated half of the universe’s population, from happening.

This is a lot to take in. And that is going to be a theme throughout this review. This is the first year we have had MCU-specific spinoff shows and FOUR MCU movies released in theaters. Granted, part of this is due to COVID-19 pushing some projects like “Black Widow” and this one back, but still. A few years back we were getting three MCU movies, and I already thought that was getting slightly overwhelming. We’re literally getting FOUR MCU MOVIES IN A HALF A YEAR! We have “Black Widow,” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “Eternals,” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” As far as Marvel shows go, we have “WandaVision,” “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” “Loki,” and “Hawkeye.” To be completely honest, the Marvel shows have mostly had some effect of leaving me underwhelmed. I liked the beginning and end of “WandaVision,” “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” had a strong start, but I pretty much forgot certain portions by the end. “Loki” had a GREAT concept, with some okay execution. Didn’t like the finale though. As for “Hawkeye,” it’s a bit early to judge, but I would not be surprised if I forgot it by a year from now.

Of those eight projects, I mean, holy crap! “Eternals” was honestly my most anticipated of them all! I started off 2020 anticipating “Spider-Man: No Way Home” the most, but when I saw “Nomadland” and all its awards honors, that changed significantly. Chloe Zhao is a director I do not know everything about, but I know a couple things about her. First off, she is a brilliant storyteller. I gave her specifically two awards last year during the Jackoffs, one for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director. The reason why I thought Zhao was a perfect fit for a movie like this is because she has shown that she knows how to balance serious and lighthearted tones, which has been a backbone for some of my favorite Marvel movies. “Captain America: Civil War” takes a serious matter like the aftermath of millions of people dying because the heroes saw something as the greater good, and yet you have Spider-Man throwing jokes every other minute. “Avengers: Infinty War” deals with the potential downfall of half the universe’s population, and yet we have time for Star Lord mocking his newfound companions. “Iron Man 3” deals with Tony Stark having anxiety attacks and insomnia, but he also finds away to throw a witty one-liner at someone in every other scene. It’s serious, yet hilarious, and it never feels like these two tones clash to create something stupid.

As for “Eternals,” this is definitely the most serious film they have done in the MCU to date. Honestly, this film has the lore building that I experienced in “Dune” just this year. This is not to say there is no humor. I think when it comes to that, Kumail Nanjiani’s character of Kingo is a major standout, not to mention his camera guy, Karun, played by Harish Patel. Kingo, at least in his modern outlook, is a Bollywood actor who enjoys the craft of cinema and the arts. I find it quite fascinating to see an Eternal like him blend into the 21st century world as we know it, but I also find his presence interesting as it raises a couple questions. As a movie star, will he ever be cast as an old man due to his long lifespan? As much range as this guy may have, I cannot see him as Gandalf. But in all seriousness, I was quite excited to see Nanjiani in this film as on the surface he was one of my favorite performers of the bunch, and I was not disappointed.

Nanjiani, however, is not the heart and soul of “Eternals,” because the film starts and ends with Gemma Chan’s character of Sersi. As far as Gemma Chan’s performance in this film goes, it has an interesting history, because this is not Chan’s first time playing an MCU character. She did after all have a role in “Captain Marvel” as Minn-Erva. I cannot tell you what I thought of her in that film because I pretty much forgot about most of it by now. Again, there were three MCU projects in 2019, one has to be the forgotten child. It could not compete with “Avengers: Endgame” and “Spider-Man: Far from Home.” But I think this character brings a sense of both maturity and grace to the MCU, maybe in a way that has not been done until now. We’ve seen space aliens, wacky beings, and so on, but I will give everyone credit for coming up with a way to bring someone like Sersi down to earth. Each and every scene she felt like someone who knew the planet for such a long time, but also someone who maybe has seen too much, but despite that, she can’t wait to experience whatever else lies ahead. That sounds like a ton of bull, but I hope it makes at least a nick of sense. I am somewhat fascinated by her fascination, the fact that she spent a lifetime observing the lives of others and being enamored by it all. It’s kind of neat to see someone so invested in something that is not their own. It’s almost like she’s a lifelong nature photographer.

What makes this even more fascinating is that not all the Eternals agree on everything. The dynamic of the Eternals when it comes to this reminds me of one scene from the 2007 “Transformers” movie because Optimus Prime is clearly pro-human, he wants to protect them as he sees goodness in every one of them. He says this despite those same people capturing Bumblebee, while a couple of the other Autobots found them to be violent and destructive. This is where Druig comes in, because even though at the end of the day, he has to follow what is supposedly the greater good for him and others, he does not always see great achievements out of mankind, and part of it is because of factors that he was initially told not to control.

One of the big questions of this film, both before going into it and in the script, is “Why did these Eternal beings never interfere in any human activity?” Why did they not stop Thanos? A being that literally erased half of all living creatures? The movie explains that they cannot interfere in any happenings unless Deviants are involved, which as mentioned, all of those creatures were eliminated, or so they thought. Is it odd that they never fought Thanos? Admittedly, yes. At the same time though, if “Avengers: Infinity War” took its current script and spent time introducing all these new characters, the movie would be bloated as hell. This movie has ten Eternals, and it is probably the densest story in the MCU yet. While “Guardians of the Galaxy” was a team-up movie, it was never as jam-packed as this. Basically, this film goes over the creation of life, while also talking about the potential end of it.

When I think of superheroes, two opposite ideas come to mind. Turning men into gods, like Shazam, Spider-Man, and Captain America. Then there’s the idea of turning gods into men, like Thor, Superman, and Wonder Woman. I say that because those last three heroes come from elsewhere and try to blend in with our kind, which the Eternals have done to a T. You have all these people who have seen things happen through the ages and are in fact the most accurate representation of walking history books in MCU history, and at a certain point, you have not only these people showing an appreciation for mankind, but also a desire to live amongst their kind. We see this with the character of Sprite, because one of her struggles throughout the film is that she is living amongst the humans and she’s in this permanent state. Humans change and evolve, but she cannot.

Much like “Nomadland,” this film looks BEAUTIFUL. This film is shot on multiple gorgeous locations, in addtion to some nice sets. Honestly, this is the best-looking MCU film, and I say that in a way that may sound like a detractor to all the other work that came before it (but it isn’t). “Eternals” really doesn’t look like an MCU film. It’s something that’s kind of dirtier. It’s more rugged, but also pristine in spots. It’s like a nice used car you instantaneously buy off the lot and end up taking for a number of joyrides. I saw this film in IMAX, which shows 26% more footage than traditional movie screens for a film like this, and I honestly felt like I was on the beach with these superpowered beings. I wanted more. In fact, after seeing this film, I kind of do want more, I want a break, there is a lot to take in, so I need rest. But I also want more, and this also allows me to state my one problem with the film.

I love the MCU. I know there is a whole debate on whether or not it is actually “cinema,” which I never understood. Yes, I will partially agree with Martin Scorsese that these films work as theme park rides, but that kind of adds to the, well, cinematic experience. But like a lot of cinema, I end up caring about the characters in this film. And when I say characters, I mean CHARACTERS. There is lot to unpack in “Eternals.” I saw this film with a friend, and by the end of it, I talked about how much I liked it, how fun it was, and the things I liked about it, but the film is unbelievably dense. I’m terrible with names in general, but holy crap, I had trouble remembering some of these heroes’ names! There are times in “Eternals” where I’m watching it and it feels like I’m reading chapters of a textbook. Okay, okay! Slow down just a little! It’s a different take on the MCU than I’ve seen in movies past. I welcome it, in fact I love having a different take. But it also played with my mind a bit.

But I also want to say that when it comes to this year’s MCU projects, despite being my most anticipated of the bunch, it did not end up being my favorite. My favorite, at least thus far, is “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” By the end of that film, it basically becomes the typical MCU fare with magnificent creatures flying in the air, CGI galore, and so on, but it starts in such a way that felt at least kind of different, similar to how “Eternals” was trying to be. The reason why I would rather flock back to that film compared to “Eternals” is because at the end of the day, “Shang-Chi” is about a couple best friends having fun as they discover a whole world bigger than themselves. It’s hilarious, action-packed, and has some of the MCU’s best choreography. Much like “Eternals,” I had a couple scenes where my jaw dropped to the floor. But when it comes to my taste in films, replay value is a massive factor in how much I like a movie. I’ll definitely watch “Eternals” again, but I may have to be in a certain mood to watch it on a Friday night. “Shang-Chi” feels more like a movie you can watch either by yourself with your friends. It’s a perfect movie for just about anyone. I would even recommend it to my mom, and she never watches these types of films. “Eternals” is a movie I can see having a more limited audience. It knows its audience and knows it well, but nevertheless.

If I had to give one more positive to “Eternals,” it would be this. One of the big things about the earlier MCU films is that they were all practically building up to Thanos, the idea that half the universe could literally fade. Thanos was seen as the pinnacle of the fate should be avoided. “Eternals” eased my worries in terms of the MCU’s future because Thanos was such an enormous threat, that my big question was how they could top it. “Eternals” seems to promise something potentially bigger, while also introducing big concepts for the early MCU timeline. I will not go into full detail, but this movie is not only huge in its own scale, but the scale of what may be to come.

In the end, “Eternals” is a film that I want to go back to watch another time, and it honestly, the more I think about it, feels a like a motion picture that ages like a fine wine. I have a feeling that if I go back and watch it again, I will have a greater appreciation for the characters. This is a film that introduces a lot of new characters and concepts to the MCU, a lot of which I like. I think Chloe Zhao has brought and may continue to bring some sparks of glamour and fun to this ongoing universe and I would love to see more of her work in it. Do I think “Eternals” is going to get a Best Picture nomination like “Nomadland?” I don’t think so. There’s still a few movies still coming out this year like “Don’t Look Up” that seem to have potential, and the Rotten Tomatoes scores are not fantastic by MCU standards. But if you want an entertaining, beautiful, lore-stacked story, I highly recommend “Eternals” and I’m going to give it an 8/10.

“Eternals” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks fore reading this review! I have plenty of material coming including reviews for “Red Notice,” that’ll be my next new release to talk about, but also stay tuned for my thoughts on “Ron’s Gone Wrong,” “King Richard,” “Tick Tick… Boom,” and a few other films that I am getting set to talk about! Lots of big stuff coming!

Also, on Sunday, December 5th, my final scheduled review series of 2021 is here! In honor of “The Matrix Resurrections” hitting theaters on December 22nd, I will be reviewing all three main “Matrix” installments. On December 5th, I’ll be reviewing “The Matrix,” followed by “The Matrix Reloaded” on December 12th, and “The Matrix Revolutions” on December 19th. These dates could change, I have not decided yet, but we shall see. I cannot wait to talk about these films, the first one is very significant to me, if you need any hints on what I might say during my review that I’m going to be posting on Sunday. If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Eternals?” What did you think about it? Also, did you see “Nomadland?” What are your thoughts on that? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021): This Ring-Filled Story Had Me Engaged Until the End

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (Just Mercy, The Glass Castle) and stars Simu Liu (Kim’s Convenience, Taken), Awkwafina (Raya and the Last Dragon, Crazy Rich Asians), Meng’er Zhang (Oliver Twist, Finding Destiny), Fala Chen (The Undoing, No Regrets), Florian Munteanu (Creed II, Bogat), Benedict Wong (Raya and the Last Dragon, Annihilation), Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Crazy Rich Asians), Ben Kingsley (The Jungle Book, Gandhi), and Tony Leung (Infernal Affairs, In the Mood For Love). This film is the 25th feature-length project in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is about a guy named Shaun, also known as Shang-Chi, who reunites with his family and faces his past as he encounters the ten rings organization.

The Marvel train can’t stop, the Marvel train won’t stop. And honestly, despite a couple duds over the years like “Thor: The Dark World,” I am glad this train has yet to grind itself to a halt. Even though they were not perfect, I enjoyed the few Marvel shows we’ve gotten over the past number of months. I will also say that I enjoyed “Black Widow.” But additionally, as I watched some of this content, part of me became a tad worried, because I had a feeling regarding Marvel that I last felt in 2017 when “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and “Spider-Man: Homecoming” came out. While both movies had their moments, I think both “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and “Spider-Man: Homecoming” brought some level of disappointment to the table. And honestly, this feels weird to say, I may have had mixed feelings on “Thor: Ragnarok” too, even though I did find joy in it. Much like 2017, the 2021 Marvel slate has given viewers a fair share of “good” but it has yet to deliver that one gem that is comparable to say “Thor” or “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

Let me tell you something, I’m going to confirm straight out of the gate, “Shang-Chi” is not my favorite comic book movie of 2021. It’s got some tough competition with James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad,” which received my first perfect score of the year when I reviewed it, but I think that Marvel greatness is coming back with “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” I would say that as a Marvel fan, I was excited for “Black Widow” when they first announced it, and they executed it in a way that could please a Marvel fan like myself. But with “Shang-Chi,” I think it is going to do a better job at getting a wider audience to appreciate it over time. This is not just your standard Marvel movie with all your heroics, big booms, and such. This is a story that I feel could appeal to almost anyone. I would be SHOCKED if anyone comes out of this movie giving it a 1/10. Why? Because at the end of the day, this movie has one fun scene after the next with dozens of cool ideas and likable characters along the way. While I would not call this movie the next “Back to the Future,” I would put it aside that film in terms of accessibility to all audiences. Because that film is sci-fi, romance, comedy, adventure, and action all in one. It has a little something for everyone and each “something” is done to perfection. “Shang-Chi” I would say is a fine mix of action, mythology, comedy, family drama, and adventure.

I have never said this about any Marvel movie. Maybe with the exception of “Guardians of the Galaxy…” I would show this to my mother someday. For the record, she is *not* in the target audience for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I know the MCU can appeal to a wide number of people (Look at “Endgame’s” box office!), but these movies were not ever something that would appeal to my mother specifically. Maybe if I was 8, dad was busy, I could not go to the movies by myself, or if we had some sort of family outing, she would have gone to see one of these Marvel films with me, but I would be surprised if she went to one of these films because she wanted to or if she had any excitement to check one out. I would not be surprised if I had to maybe bribe my mother to watch this film on one occasion or another, but if my mother asked me, “Would I like ‘Shang-Chi?'” My answer would be a “Yes.” And part of that is because of the heart of the film. The heart being, Simu Liu and Awkwafina as Shaun and Katy. These are two people who have been best friends for years and to me they are arguably the most fun pair in recent cinematic history. While I will say that “The Suicide Squad” is still my favorite comic book movie, not to mention favorite movie in general of 2021, I think “Shang-Chi” is going to arguably end up being this year’s biggest crowd-pleaser.

Speaking of, shoutout to Simu Liu for giving a great performance as the character of Shaun. I have not seen much of Liu’s work. I know he is one of the starring roles in “Kim’s Convenience,” which I hear is a really good show, but I have not seen much of it. Frankly, Liu’s performance as Shang-Chi, which to me, evoked a vibe between fun and brooding, made me excited to see what else he could do in the MCU. As for “Kim’s Convenience,” who knows? Maybe I’ll get around to it. But I have way too many things on my plate when it comes to content and life, so we shall see. Also, the man is quite the action star! In the first half of the film, there’s some choreography that comes off as butter smooth. It feels natural, exciting, and fast. I love it! There’s not much evidence in the film that Liu ever needed a double while doing the action scenes, which if anything, pleases me to no end. One of my favorite action stars today is Tom Cruise because he will take any opportunity, practically to meme-worthy points, to do his own stunts. I’m glad that Simu Liu is taking an opportunity to do the same.

You want action? This movie’s got it! This movie does what Marvel does best and delivers one of its finest examples of quality. “Shang-Chi” does a great job at mixing epic action with gutbusting humor, and this is heavily exemplified in the bus scene. The scene is simple. Shaun and Katy are on a bus together, a guy comes up to Shaun, wants his pendant, and he just starts busting everybody in this magnificently fast series of punches and kicks. I won’t go into what makes the scene funny, as I had no idea what was going to happen going in so I’ll let everyone else do the same. However, what makes this scene so awesome is that it sort of grounds the movie despite being in something as fantastical as the MCU. There’s not really any superhuman crap going on here. Well, kind of… There’s some suspension of disbelief that could be brought to the table. It’s just martial arts and trying to survive. Not only is this a breathtaking scene from the heavy duty stunts and eye-popping camerawork, but it also does a good job at progressing the story of the film and establishing a key point of Shaun and Katy’s relationship. Katy’s reactions to this incident could not have been written any better.

Now, you may have seen in the trailer that Wong of “Doctor Strange” fame was going to make an appearance in “Shang-Chi.” If you wanted to know, Wong is in the movie for a number of minutes, but he does not have too much of an impact on the plot from start to finish. He’s in the fight club, he’s in the movie a little later, won’t say when, but if you are a fan of Wong, which I am, I’m sure that his appearance in this film won’t disappoint. Honestly, this movie made me like Wong more, because it did a good job at making him show off a fun personality. Here it is shown that Wong seems to be the kind of guy that you would not mind going out and a having a few drinks with.

As far as origin stories go, “Shang-Chi” excels. In fact, it is up there with “Thor” as one of my favorite origin stories of the MCU. When it comes to the story of this film, much like “Thor,” one of the core aspects of the film is the family drama a good number of the characters experience for themselves. Much of “Thor” was a battle between two brothers trying to impress their father, and in “Shang-Chi,” it’s a situation where the main protagonist is doing whatever he can to disassociate himself with his father. The family drama in “Shang-Chi” had my attention all the way through because I cared about the characters and there comes a point where Shang-Chi’s past catches up to him and he seems to regret everything that happened in his childhood. This is what makes him a broken hero, not so squeaky clean, and much of the backstory and flashbacks regarding what made Shang-Chi who he is happened to be incredibly compelling.

Oh yeah, Awkwafina is a goldmine in this movie. I already mentioned that the relationship between Simu Liu and Awkwafina in “Shang-Chi” is one of my favorite relationships in recent cinema, but part of what makes that relationship blossom is Awkwafina’s performance in the film as Katy. She feels so hyperactive, fun, and the real life version of caffeine! I already admire Awkwafina as a performer, just look at what she did in “The Farewell,” one of my favorite movies of 2019. But “Shang-Chi” proves that one of her strengths is comedy. And honestly, she’s having one heck of a year as far as her resume is concerned, because I already loved her in “Raya and the Last Dragon,” which turned out to be at one point, what I would consider to be the year’s best film. While I will say I like “Raya and the Last Dragon” a bit better than “Shang-Chi,” I think “Shang-Chi” will be a better reference to Awkwafina’s talent as a performer as it gives her a space to be dynamic and all over the place. I went through this entire movie wanting her to be my best friend, I think that is the best thing I can say about her. Honestly, if there is one thing I want after seeing “Shang-Chi,” it’s not just more of Katy, it’s more of Awkwafina in general. After seeing her in this film, I went from liking her, to legit wanting to treat her to lunch.

The flaws present in “Shang-Chi” are minimal. Again, I go back to my “Back to the Future” comparison, this is a film that I think just about anyone could enjoy, but it does not mean it is perfect. Before posting this review, I saw this film twice, and both times, I walked out saying the same thing, which is weird to say as a Marvel fan. This film becomes way too extravagant towards the end. You know how a lot of Marvel movies by the end like “The Avengers” or “Iron Man 3” will end in this big climactic battle? Everything is balls to the wall and flying in your face! CGI is everywhere! You can feel the production budget right in between your eyes! “Shang-Chi,” much like those movies, has that. But in the case of “Shang-Chi,” even though the film is by no means small, it feels weird seeing this big climactic sequence when the first half of the film feels natural and clean in terms of its action scenes. I will not do a deep dive into the second half of the film, but a lot happens and sometimes it can be overwhelming. It’s good stuff. Sometimes it’s great stuff, But when you take the fight choreography in the beginning of the film and compare it with everything towards the end, I find it to be a weird change of pace, even though it does at times match the opening scene, which by the way is an incredible opening scene, one of the best in the MCU. My question to myself is, if the story and characters were unlikable, how much would my opinion differ? It’s just something I want to keep on the backburner.

If you read my review for “Black Widow,” one of my complaints about that film, even though I liked it, is that at times, it felt like it was trying too hard to set up other MCU content. And this also brings in a growing complaint, or concern depending on how you look at it, that I have with the Marvel Disney+ shows like “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.” My worry for the future of the MCU is that I will either have to watch a movie to understand what goes on in a television show, or the other way around. I am accustomed to seeing all of the MCU’s content on one specific medium, specifically feature films. As much as I like some things about the MCU shows, watching the MCU is starting to feel like homework. That’s not the case with “Shang-Chi,” and I say that for a couple reasons. First, the movie in general kicks ass. Second, the film feels like a contained story. Sure, it has Abomination in it. Sure, it has Wong in it. But “Shang-Chi” focuses best on being a great movie first as opposed to being a commercial for other MCU content. If you are not an MCU fan and want a place to start, I would not stop you from watching this first. It’s fun, action-packed, hilarious, and it has a little something for every viewer.

Also, I want to just say two words… Hotel. California.

In the end, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is one of the best movies of the year, and also one of the easiest to recommend to people. Going back to what I said about “The Suicide Squad,” which to be clear, is currently my favorite movie of the year, perhaps by a long shot. That is a film that I immensely enjoyed, arguably because it was made for someone like me. When it comes to “Shang-Chi,” there’s obviously a target audience, but I would not mind showing this movie to someone outside of that target audience and seeing what they think of it because I think they would get a kick out of it. The action is big, the pacing is fast, and I am looking forward to seeing more of Shang-Chi in the MCU. As for his pal Katy, I would like to call her my new best friend. I’m going to give “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” an 8/10.

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is now playing in theaters everywhere and it is also available in 3D and IMAX.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for “Malignant” which has been out for over a week. Take this statement however you want, but I’ve had a lot of thoughts on this movie. Let’s just leave it at that. Also, just recently I went to a local theater to check out “Copshop,” so I will have a review on that coming your way as well. If you want to see more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings?” What did you think about it? Or, what upcoming Marvel project, I’ll even include television shows, are you looking forward to the most? For me, it’s “Eternals.” The concept sounds engaging, the cast is incredible, a lot of it is done on location, and Academy Award-winning director Chloe Zhao is the director. THE COUNTDOWN BEGINS. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Black Widow (2021): Natasha Romanoff’s Solo Marvel Movie Finally Arrives

“Black Widow” is directed Cate Shortland (Somersault, Lore) and stars Scarlett Johansson as the title character in her first solo movie after appearing in various MCU films since 2010’s “Iron Man 2.” Also joining Johansson is Florence Pugh (Midsommar, Fighting with My Family), David Harbour (Suicide Squad, Hellboy) O-T Fagbenie (Maxxx, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), William Hurt (Into the Wild, A History of Violence), Ray Winstone (Point Break, Beowulf), and Rachel Weisz (Denial, The Favourite). This film follows the Avenger Black Widow as she confronts a conspiracy tied to her past. The film follows her on the run not only for her life, but she’s also fleeing from her mistakes, and is set between the events of “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War.”

Sorry to use the cliché phrase, but it’s finally arrived! I’ve wanted to see a “Black Widow” solo film ever since the early 2010s. Not only is she one of the standout characters of the MCU, but of all the characters that started in this universe as part of the supporting cast, I think Black Widow is arguably the one who I wanted to see more of compared to any other. Hawkeye? Who cares? Granted, I thought he was a shining star in “Avengers: Endgame,” but early on in the MCU, I thought he was the least compelling of all the hero characters. There are times in “Iron Man 2” where I honestly think Scarlett Johansson shines more as an action star than even Robert Downey Jr., the film’s lead. Naturally, when they first announced that a “Black Widow” movie was happening, I was incredibly giddy. I thought it was a solid way to get to know more about a character who has displayed some spotlight over the years, but never took all of it for herself.

I will admit, the first trailer, while good, left me a tad uneasy by the end because those who saw it may remember the big action sequence in the end where the laws of physics are those of Middle Earth times five. In fact, I will say, that sequence was fun and worth the ticket price for the big screen experience, but it is also something that comes off like a video game. Now, video games over the past number of years have become experiential to the tenth degree, and so have our movies, but this movie by the end of it throws a middle finger to reality just for the sake of looking cool. Granted, it’s the MCU, which has a lot of fantastical elements. But this is something I would expect more out of a “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie as opposed to a movie like “Black Widow” where in comparison, it is a bit more grounded. However, this brings me to my next notion.

First off, I liked “Black Widow.” It was a fun time and I do recommend it to fans of the character, Marvel, and even general moviegoers who have not dipped their toes into the MCU all that much. If you cannot leave your house for whatever reason, by all means check the movie out on Disney+. It is worth $29.99 on top of your subscription fee, but I am sure if you watch it, you’ll have a decent time. If you want an experience, check this thing out in theaters! One of the big trends that has been going on in Hollywood and movie fandom is the desire or building up of anticipation for people to get back to the cinema. We’ve seen films like “A Quiet Place Part II,” which was good, alongside “F9: The Fast Saga,” which was bad, do that already. Both films have performed decently at the box office and evidence suggests that “Black Widow” has come out of the gate stronger than both of these films. Cinematically, “Black Widow” reminded me of the “Mission: Impossible” movies. Spies gone wild with crazy action sequences that for the most part are well choreographed.

The best part of the “Black Widow” movie is not even the action itself, which is one of the first things I think of when it comes to Marvel. Many of the universe’s films including “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Ant-Man,” and “Avengers: Infinity War” come packed with some of most memorable action scenes of the past decade. In the case of “Black Widow,” the best part is arguably the family dynamic between Romanoff and the people from whom she has distanced since her younger years. Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh have near perfect chemistry and they felt interlinked like little cogs in a clock in every other scene. I think Rachel Weisz was an interesting choice to play Natasha’s mother, and the execution pleased me. Although the best part of Natasha’s family has to be David Harbour as Alexei, also known as Red Guardian. Every other utterance from Harbour in this film is candy to the ears. Harbour is perfectly cast and as of right now, I do not think I can imagine anyone else taking this role from him.

I think we are at the point in the MCU where characters who have had less spotlight are getting their chance to put themselves in the driver’s seat. We’re obviously talking about Black Widow in her solo movie, but the Disney+ shows have revealed what happens when you let characters like Wanda Maximoff and Bucky Barnes take the wheel. I have no idea if there will be an end date for the MCU, but I would love to see a Red Guardian solo film at some point. Make it happen, Disney. He is probably my favorite supporting character of the film, and I love David Harbour’s portrayal of said character.

But let’s not take anything away from the star of the show, Scarlett Johansson. I have loved her iteration of Black Widow since I had a first glance in “Iron Man 2.” While we do get elements of Johansson’s past performances as the iconic character, this movie did a really good job at taking a character who I liked, but I also acknowledge has barely been humanized. Part of the reason why I liked Black Widow as a character is that there was a balance between badassery and sensuality provided within what was written for her. But in actuality, I barely knew anything about her. The movies didn’t really need to explain much at the time, but we’ve gotten to a certain point where we know so much about everyone else who had the lens enhanced on them so much, that it was time for Black Widow to take a turn. This movie is a perfect evolution for this character with a backstory that falls in line with her identity and it still has that MCU craziness that people tend to seek nowadays. I contend to this day that Natasha Romanoff as a character is someone who I would want to date. I mean, it’s Scarlett Johansson. Come on. But the point is, the character for a long while is someone who I did not know everything about, but I’ve seen enough of her that would make me ask her questions about… Well, her. Having learned about her now, I might think her family is a little crazy, but nevertheless. I’m glad we got this movie. This gave me the chance to learn more about Natasha herself, and thankfully, even though this movie could have arguably been nothing more than a cash grab, the story feels neither flimsy or slapped together. Everything from start to finish makes sense and has a purpose in the movie. Well, everything except physics.

The MCU over the years has become known for its humor. In a lot of cases it works, but I will also say that movies like “Thor: The Dark World” tries hard to be funnier than it actually is. When it comes to humor, “Black Widow” lands somewhere in the middle, which works for the character at hand because when it comes to the MCU and humor, I have more or less put those two ideas together and linked people like Tony Stark or Peter Parker or Nick Fury. Natasha Romanoff usually came off as stern or serious, and this has honestly been one of her more defining traits as a character. In fact I’d say most of the humor in this movie, as possibly implied, comes from David Harbour in addition to say Florence Pugh. There’s also this fun segment of the film dedicated to Natasha’s signature pose, which I liked partially because it mocks the traditional idea that superheroes don’t just kick-ass, but they have a tendency to show off while doing so. That and maybe it is something for the action figures to show off. Think of the “Deadpool” “superhero landing” scene but it is described for more than just ten seconds of screen time.

Unfortunately however, one of the biggest deterrents of “Black Widow” is a common complaint people have had over the years through a number of MCU films, the antagonistic side in this film is underwhelming. Taskmaster was beyond disappointing! Taskmaster is very much a character with all style and quite frankly, nearly no substance whatsoever. The film seemingly tries to give substance to the character, I could see where they may have been going with it. But I could not even come close to caring about the character to begin with so when the time arrives that the movie tries to persuade me to care, I just shake my head. Taskmaster kind of reminds me of Darth Maul if you sucked all the coolness out of him. Because remember how in the “The Phantom Menace,” Darth Maul had very little dialogue? He barely did anything except wield a kick-ass double lightsaber and some cool tricks? Taskmaster is basically Maul if you went out of your way to make me snooze while I laid my eyes upon the character. Sure, Taskmaster has the Red Room, which sounded like it could have been interesting, but I guess this is why we can’t have nice things. I will say, Maul is not the worst MCU villain. That honor likely goes to Malekith from “Thor: The Dark World,” but wow! Taskmaster was one of the highlights of the film’s marketing and they bricked it!

At the same time though, one of the strengths of the MCU, even when the villain is not exactly menacing or compelling, is that the script takes as much time as it can to make you effectively care about the hero. When it comes to Natasha Romanoff, that is no exception. Part of this is established in the first ten to fifteen minutes where we see Black Widow as a kid. I feel like Black Widow as an adult has had this way about her where she always hid what she was thinking and some of, but not all, of her emotions. Seeing her as a kid not only provided a thrilling start to the film, but made me care about the character when we got to see her as an adult.

Although I want to address something that has been bothering me. I love the MCU, but I’ve had a number of concerns regarding it over the past number of years. I feel like one of my biggest concerns culminated with the recent release of all the Disney+ shows. Without going into spoilers, “Black Widow” seems to be starting a trend that I did not exactly expect to see as early as we did, where we apparently have setup in one of the Marvel movies for one of the TV shows. At least that’s the impression I got. I know in the TV shows there also seems to be setup for the movies, but keeping this in mind, it kind of concerns me because it takes me, a Marvel Cinematic Universe fan, and feel more like I am watching all of these films and TV shows as homework as opposed to reasons involving enjoyment. While I have no proof, my biggest concern for Marvel and Disney is that they will force me to watch the movies to understand the TV shows and watch the TV shows to understand the movies. “Black Widow” did not exactly support my concern 100%, but there is a scene in the film that enhanced it. I remember years ago I was talking about how Marvel would crank out two, three movies a year. I thought we would see a breaking point from that, but apparently the majority of them are at least good. Now I’m concerned between all the movies and TV shows we’re getting that we will see some sort of clog entering the MCU in terms of quality. Again, I could be underestimating Kevin Feige. I could be underestimating Marvel. I could be underestimating Disney. I could be underestimating all the directors. I could be underestimating all the writers. But at the same time, I believe I have a reason to be concerned. I will also state that this may be a “me problem.” I just like having one particular medium to follow in order to weave every story and moment together. This is why I like the fact that the DCEU movies have rarely crossed ties with any of DC’s TV shows. They’re two separate things with special identities that only they could associate with. Again, this may be a me problem, but if I were in charge of the MCU, part of me would want to come up with a “me solution.”

On that note, there is an end credit scene in “Black Widow.” This should not come as a surprise to MCU diehards. But nevertheless, if you’re watching this movie, stay for the credits.

In the end, “Black Widow” is a fine welcoming back to the realm of the MCU movies, but it comes with its flaws. Scarlett Johansson once again proves that she is a great pick to portray the Natasha Romanoff character. And speaking of which, I would say that her younger counterpart, Ever Anderson, may have a nice future of talent ahead of her. At the same time though, it feels like it covers many of the MCU’s basics but doesn’t do much of anything special with them. As much as I liked phase 2 in the MCU, it had quite a few villains that I did not fall in love with. Taskmaster feels like they are a villain that belongs in the phase 2 crowd. And again, I love the MCU, but part of me feels that it is becoming increasingly overwhelming and now that there seems to be an emphasis on tying the MCU movies and TV shows together, it is a cause for me to be concerned. Again, this is something that I cannot say is fully concerning me, it is something I’d have to wait and see as we move along. But nevertheless, I’m wondering if the MCU could potentially be hitting an unbreakable ceiling. I’m going to give “Black Widow” a 7/10.

“Black Widow” is now playing in theaters everywhere including IMAX and you can also catch the film on Disney+ with Premier Access for a $29.99 fee on top of your subscription.

Thanks for reading this review! Tomorrow, we venture to the weird waters of world’s end to fetch back witty Jack! Tomorrow I’ll be reviewing “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” the third installment in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise and the conclusion to Gore Verbinski’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy. I just watched the film on Sunday and I cannot wait to share my thoughts with you in my latest installment of the Scene Before exclusive review series, “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Chest of Reviews.”

As for new releases, this Sunday I will be going to watch “Space Jam: A New Legacy” so I will have a review up for the highly anticipated film next week as it releases in theaters and on HBO Max. I will admit, I was not a massive fan of the original “Space Jam.” I did not grow up with it, in fact I just watched it for the first time recently. Here’s hoping this sequel will be better. If you want to see this and more on Scene Before, follow either with an email or WordPress account! Also, be sure to like the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Black Widow?” What did you think about it? Or, what movie are you looking forward to most in the MCU’s phase 4? For me, it’s gotta be “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” The way things are looking, some serious s*it is probably about to go down. Let me know your pick down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

My Top 10 Movie Crushes

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Earlier this week was Valentine’s Day, or as single people like me call it, February 14th. And that’s about it. When I watch movies, one of the main reasons why I glue myself to them is for all the well-developed and thought out characters. Sometimes, a movie can immerse me to the point where I feel like I am a part of their world. Sometimes the movie takes me from reality to fantasy, and in that fantasy, I sometimes see myself as a part of another character’s life. Maybe even to the point where I would want to hold hands with them. Perhaps even take things further. That is why I am taking this Valentine’s Day week to discuss my top 10 movie crushes. Now you may notice, unlike other top 10s, such as “Top 10 BEST Movies of 2020,” I am calling this “My Top 10 Movie Crushes.” There is a reason for that. Unlike my other countdowns, this is one where it is not only subjective, but perhaps one that could only be contained within my identity. I am a 21 year old straight white male, so do not interpret this as characters you should have a crush on as well. Even if you are a 21 year old straight white male, I am not saying you should agree with this. Your emotions and identity are your own and I am in no way trying to brainwash anyone.

Now let me just make one thing clear. These picks are on CHARACTERS specifically, not the ACTORS that play them, although as you’ll see, that may be a contributing factor. So instead of saying for example, #10 is Megan Fox, I would go with a character they play such as Mikayla from “Transformers.” Plus I should note that some of the actors who portray these characters are more distant from me in terms of age today, whereas a good portion of the characters are relatively close in one degree or another, so I hope this may end up making this list less awkward for some readers. Also, another rule, I need to have seen a movie the character is in from start to finish in order for their presence on this list to count. So, that eliminates a lot of “Bond” characters, Linda Barrett from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” and Madison from “Splash.” Also, even though I am a guy, I am not here to confuse anyone. This is not a list of the “Top 10 Sexiest Movie Characters.” We are not diving into that stereotype, although as you’ll see, looks will play a factor. With that being said, let’s get this list going! These are my top 10 movie crushes!

#10: Lorraine Baines/McFly (Back to the Future)

There has been a period over the past year that reminded me of how batcrap insane “Back to the Future” really is. It is a film where the protagonist goes back in time in a car, has to get his parents to fall in love, so they can f*ck, therefore having him and his siblings. The problem is, the protagonist’s mother lusts after him after he is hit by what just so happens to be his grandparent’s car. Holy freaking crap. I’ll admit, since my early teens, I’ve always had some attachment to Lorraine in “Back to the Future.” She’s attractive, somewhat nervous but also someone who knows what she wants, and from a fashion standpoint. Every outfit she wears suits her well. If I saw her in a room, I would immediately introduce myself as Calvin Klein. Now keep in mind, this list comes from someone who is 21 years old, therefore I should emphasize that when it comes to the “Back to the Future” timeline, I am mainly talking about 1955 Loraine. Although apocalyptic 1985 Lorraine is kind of sexy too, even though part of the reason for that is because Biff Tannen is practically going all Jabba the Hutt on her and giving her the most self-angering outfit in the world. But if I had to pick one to have by my side, it would be 1955 Elaine. I would take her to a dance if I had the opportunity. Plus unlike apocalyptic 1985 Lorraine, who again, is hella attractive, is perhaps somewhat brainwashed into a rich man’s lifestyle. Although part of me would want to help her escape it (because part of her maybe wants out from time to time).

#9: Tauriel (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug)

I love “The Lord of the Rings.” Want proof?

I just bought this bad boy in January. Well worth the $150.

But I was one of those people who happened to stumble upon “The Hobbit” prior to watching “Lord of the Rings.” To be fair, I was in my early teens, the films were PG-13, so I missed out on the hype train back in the day. However, when the “Hobbit” trilogy came out, I saw them all in IMAX 3D. I did it for the first film. I did it twice for the second film. And I also did it twice for the third film. I was hooked to the fantastical wonderland of Middle Earth at the time. So of course, since I repeatedly watched the trilogy, I easily got attached to Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lilly. If I had to pick one person to fight alongside on this list, there are a few that I would go with, but I assure you that Tauriel would be one of the top contenders. I will say, despite vastly enjoying “The Hobbit” as a trilogy, one of its problems through all three movies is that the dwarves are nearly disposable. Yes, they have their personalities and stories behind them, but it is almost difficult to keep track of all of them and remember them. So that’s why I’d say Kili is one of more attachable individuals in the group, due to his love connection to Tauriel. I buy their chemistry, even if it is somewhat comparable to say “Romeo & Juliet” at times. But it is not to say that she cannot be great on her own. She can rock a bow and arrow, her combat is sleek as much as it kicks butt, and technically speaking, based on one scene from “The Desolation of Smaug,” she’s arguably qualified enough to be a medical professional! Oh, did I mention that Elvish is such a fun language? Even though I don’t exactly know a word of it, I stand by that statement. Yeah, I think many “Lord of the Rings” fans would agree that for the most part, if you want a partner by your side, try to convince one of the elves to have lunch with you and see where it goes.

#8: Vanessa (Deadpool)

Morena Baccarin has been a frequent player in geek culture. She was in “Firefly,” “Serenity,” CW’s “The Flash,” Fox’s “Gotham.” But the role I’ll probably remember her for the most is Vanessa in “Deadpool.” The film is one of the rare attempts in the comic book movie genre to take things into R-rated territory, and it goes for it. Excessive language, graphic violence, and as for Vanessa and the film’s lead, Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), the two are quite a couple. The two are cute, charming, and of course, horny. One scene of the film that stood out to me every time I watched it is the sex montage. For starters, it was the first R-rated hardcore sex scene I saw in a theater, not to mention an eight story IMAX. While the whole movie is not a sexual extravaganza, you know, all it is just a little violent, just a little heavy on language, just a little rambunctious on action, that scene defined the romantic tone that partially intertwined with the rest of what the movie had to offer. Vanessa is not just a stud that lusts after one of the sexy Ryans from Canada, she is charismatic, knows how to have fun (I’d take her to an arcade, personally), and when she was in pain, I felt for her. I wanted her to live. And even when she is in distress, she is notably capable of defending herself. Also, while this may be more of a compliment to Baccarin than anybody else, I love Vanessa’s hair. Even since I was young, I think I’ve had a thing for brunettes. Vanessa, or Morena Baccarin depending on how slice it, is just part of why.

#7: Lisa (Weird Science)

When I think of a mind in film that defined the 1980s, that would have to be John Hughes. The man wrote and directed several movies that continue to come up in conversations today. Movies like “The Breakfast Club,” “Home Alone,” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” When it comes to those last two, I cherish them to a high degree because of how much I can attach their personal concept to my life. I like privacy, even as a kid I enjoyed it. As for school, while education may be essential in some cases, I did not go because I wanted to, I went because that is how society works. But one film Hughes did that I thoroughly enjoyed was “Weird Science.” If you want a wacky 1980s comedy where life is whimsical and crazy, this has that vibe. And of course, there was Lisa. This pick is just the first in a recurring theme on this list. Women that do not have the same life experiences as a regular person. Look, I could start this description off with the obvious. Lisa wears slick outfits that can turn a guy on. But that’s only a sliver of why she is on the list. Yes, when she is introduced, she comes out wearing almost nothing, which as a result, gets our two main characters, Gary and Wyatt, rather excited. Then we move onto the next scene where they shower with her. I think every teenager to a degree has imagined something crazy like that at some point in their young lives. But all of what I just said revolves around looks, which if that were the case, Lisa would be either lower on the list, or off it entirely. So let’s talk about her personality. Well, this is almost everything a young boy would want in a girl. She is fun, not afraid to take risks, explorative, honest, although maybe a little too honest. Because there is a hilarious scene where Lisa lets herself loose and explains to Gary’s parents that he plans to party with a bunch of teenagers. She even goes into explicit detail about it!

You know, there’s going to be sex, drugs, rock-n-roll… chips, dips, chains, whips… You know, your basic high school orgy type of thing. I mean, uh, I’m not talking candlewax on the nipples, or witchcraft or anything like that, no, no, no. Just a couple of hundred kids running around in their underwear, acting like complete animals.

-Lisa

In this scene, Gary does everything he can to defend himself, say that he is not doing anything crazy, including trying to tell his parents that he does not masturbate in the bathroom, despite Lisa outright confirming it to their faces! The scene overall is just wild. I was not always like Gary. I was never the party type of person in high school, although I am proud to say I won “Best Dancer” in the yearbook. I was never invited, nor did I ever go. It was just never my thing. I felt like it would have people perceive me to be a type of person that I am not. Even though I just turned 21, I do not drink. I do not smoke. I do not do any drugs. But at the same time, this movie sort of makes me want to have someone in my life that could allow me to have some fun, let myself screw around, boost my popularity. I imagine this is sort of similar to the philosophy about “girls liking bad boys.” While I wouldn’t call Lisa dangerous, she is edgy. She has all the qualities of an admirable person if you ask me, but at the same time, she sort of pushes the envelope. Did I mention she’s attractive? Yeah, that too.

#6: Ava (Ex Machina)

“Ex Machina” is a fascinating film. Much like “2001: A Space Odyssey” was back when it came out, “Ex Machina” is an intriguing glance as to what could happen if we rely on computers and use them for purposes that practically make them our slaves. Except in this case, the movie specifies more as to what happens if we deeply humanized a computer to the point where it is almost a part of our kind. It has our emotions, our thoughts, our way of processing what is in front of us. In fact, we kind of achieved that in real life. In Saudi Arabia, they have a robot that has been given citizenship. While I am not at the point where I have yearned for a robot in real life, I can confirm that part of me would not mind getting to know Ava from “Ex Machina” on an intimate level. Now, while not all robots are capable of love, part of Ava’s many human-like traits is that she has an understanding of romance, the connection between one lover to another. She even ends up having feelings for the film’s lead, Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson). I can see myself falling for her in the same situation. We do a bunch of tests together, get to know each other, interact, it’s almost like a date to some capacity. Plus, as I am doing each test, I particularly happen to view Ava more as a subject than a friend, so if I keep coming back to her, it is sort of in the same way I keep coming back to a passion project. Part of the beauty of a romantic relationship is getting to explore life with someone else, getting to explore the world with someone else. In the case with Ava, I would not just be exploring my life with her if we were together, Ava would arguably be exploring the concept of life in general. After all, in this film’s timeline, she was recently built. She has never even been outdoors. While relationships are 50/50, I would not mind having a major dash of credibility by taking Ava outside for the first time. I know I am a guy, which kind of suggests that looks play a major factor into a relationship, but do I care that she goes through the film with nearly no skin? Heck no! In fact, the Academy seems to agree with me, because the film won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects! Ava sounds like someone I would take out to dinner, then explore the city with for hours. Then I would teach her everything joyous about humanity, although maybe I should watch myself before she forms an army with a plot for world domination. I guess that’s a good reason to keep her lower on the list.

#5: Art3mis/Samantha (Ready Player One)

Not everyone agrees with me, but I think “Ready Player One” is one of the best films of the past few years. It is a visual effects-heavy thrill ride through a virtual reality world in 2045. If I lived in 2045, I would totally flock after Samantha, otherwise known by her username, Art3mis (pronounced similar to Artemis). Early on in the film, we see Wade Watts, also known as Parzival, racing for a key to aid his quest to own the OASIS, the virtual reality world where everything seems to matter. So much so that real life is meaningless. After all, there is nowhere to go. Nevertheless, during the race, he gazes upon a woman riding on a bike from “Akira.” Turns out, through his personal observations, this girl is not just anyone, it is Art3mis. He knows everything about her, not exactly in a stalkerish way, but it comes pretty close. Their first encounter in the film is near the end of the race where Parzival forces Art3mis to bail out to avoid getting slaughtered by King Kong. The two eventually get to know each other, even discussing what they know about the founder of the OASIS, James Halliday. The reason why I love Art3mis as a character so much is because of what she represents in the realm of the Internet. I mean this is not only from a crush perspective, but from a perspective where two people can simply be friends. It is that you may not always know who other people actually are. They could end up being your best friend, but in reality, unless you somehow have met them in person or maybe over Skype or something, there is a chance that the person you’re talking to is of a completely different identity, or not even a person at all. Art3mis represents that Internet fantasy that somewhat feels legit, but also feels faraway because you either live nowhere near the person or you barely know them in real life. As for the character herself, I like my nerds, she knows her references, so personality-wise, Samantha checks the boxes. Plus, I really like the design of her avatar in the OASIS. The movie does a really good job at making me fall for someone that does not feel like anyone else I’d meet. It would be someone I would dream about that maybe is not even human. It takes me to another world. Plus, the dress she wears in the Distracted Globe scene is utter fire. Art3mis is the quintessential encapsulation of your basic Internet friend. You may not KNOW them, even when you feel like you know everything about them. Or in some ways, you just want to get to know more and more about them by the second.

#4: Joi (Blade Runner 2049)

This is one of the more unique entries to the list, because this character is technically not a woman. Nor is it a human. It is a hologram. I give you Joi, the love interest to Ryan Gosling’s K in “Blade Runner 2049.” After I watched “Blade Runner 2049” a couple times, part of me began to fall for the actress playing Joi, Ana de Armas, and part of it is not only because she looks attractive, but because she encapsulates a person that knows very little about the world around her. I am not saying she is stupid, but keep in mind, again, she is a hologram. She is programmed. She is manufactured. The movie makes it clear that Joi is in fact a product and K is only a consumer of said product. In some ways, Joi is like Fox News. She rarely does something because she sees it as beneficial to her. The way I look at Joi as a character, she is there to serve her partner, perhaps her master. Tell them what they want to hear. She is not just someone in their life, they are a cheerleader, a motivational speaker. At the same time, it feels like this character wants to go through a journey of self-discovery. There is a scene where she is seemingly amused by rain, while also enjoying the moment with her partner. Also in some cases, she’s practically the 2049 version of Seri.

(referring to Frank Sinatra’s “Summer Wind”) “Did you know this song was released in 1966 on Reprise Records? It was number 1 on the charts…”

-Joi

Ana de Armas provides such an intimate, sensual, emotional, and all round cute performance that when she would fizzle, my jaw would drop a little. I have a couple concerns about her character, one long term concern being if I were in the “Blade Runner” universe, and if this product were successful, it would perhaps nearly antiquate the traditional human to human relationship, thus making the species die out overtime. Eh, we’re overpopulated now anyway. If there’s a balance between real and artificial, who knows? It might help. Although technically, the movie does show that one can make love with Joi while she syncs into someone else’s body, so reproduction may still be possible, as long as a third party is involved. My one question is this, are there male versions of Joi? Because thus far, Joi has mainly been marketed as an attractive, supportive woman, most likely for straight men. Can Joi transform into another gender? I kind of want to know more about this if we get another “Blade Runner” film in the future.

#3; Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Iron Man 2, Marvel Cinematic Universe)

Look, I’m a guy. And a lot of my picks partially base themselves around attractiveness. If you thought Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow would be an exception, then clearly you have never met the Movie Reviewing Moron. If there is one girl I would hang out with in a bar in the MCU, the answer would be Natasha Romanoff. I will admit, despite what I said about Vanessa and my potential thing for brunettes. Over the years, I think I have learned that I may also like redheads. Although I should note that even in “Avengers: Infinity War,” where she is blonde, Romanoff is a ticket. But my crush on Romanoff started pretty early when I saw her in “Iron Man 2.” I will admit, I watched 2012’s “The Avengers” before watching “Iron Man 2,” but my first actual attraction to her began in “Iron Man 2,” even though she probably looks her best in “The Avengers.” The fast-paced action scene in the white hallway towards the end of “Iron Man 2” is enough of a showstopper. Romanoff is incredibly kick-ass, sexy, and every outfit she wears suits her. Did I mention Scarlett Johansson’s voice? It is commanding and it makes you want to watch her do anything. Like… type a document. Or write in a diary. Or read a book out loud. If I were perhaps 13 and making this list, there is a solid chance that Romanoff could potentially be #1, because at that age, I am more about looks, whereas personality is just some added bonus points. I say this because even today, I cannot directly pinpoint much of her interests. She kicks people in the face and makes it look sexy. What else can I say? Plus her backstory is not really explored all that much until “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” meaning that it took 5 years and a phase in the cinematic universe to start exploring more about her character. And yeah, I know what she does for work. She’s with the Avengers, she’s a spy, but I also want to know more about what she does for fun. I mean, the MCU has 23 movies so far, with a 24th HOPEFULLY arriving in theaters this May, and that movie is a Black Widow-centered prequel. I got to know Black Widow over the years as an ass-kicking Avenger who looks like she’s way out of my league, can rock a bunch of different outfits, not to mention hairstyles. I want to know more about HER. Hopefully the upcoming “Black Widow” film can shine a light on the subject.

#2: Lana (Risky Business)

There are two movies starring Tom Cruise that I often debate as my favorites of all time, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” and “Risky Business.” While I will say Vanessa Kirby is quite good looking as The White Widow in the former, today we are going to be talking about the latter. We are going to be talking about Rebecca De Mornay’s character, Lana, from “Risky Business.” This film is one that gets better with every viewing, and as one who looks back at his high school years with mixed feelings, I sort of relate to this film. For those of you who have not seen the film, Joel Goodson, a teenager in his senior year of high school, is convinced that while his parents are away, he needs an excuse to let himself loose and have some fun. This gets to the point where he calls up Lana, a prostitute, who has sex with him all night. The next morning, after Joel fails to provide $300 for the services, she leaves before he can return to his house. Also missing, a Stueben glass egg. From the moment Joel tries to retrieve it, the moment he finds Lana and the two escape from Guido the Killer Pimp, they prove that they are a 5/5 in terms of chemistry. But also what makes Lana a fine entry to the list is De Mornay’s sensual performance. She always has this futuristic, other-worldly quality to her. She does a really good job at capturing the “girl out of my league” vibe that maybe Lana was supposed to represent. After all, when she is introduced, she is not just a girl, she is the listener to Joel’s demands. That is until he has to pay $300 and the two become friends and work together to overcome each other’s obstacles.

Oh yeah, and they make love on a subway. No big deal.

Will say though, the only turnoff I have about her is that even though she does feel somewhat sensually rebellious in various ways, is that she will occasionally smoke. If I were in the scene on the lake where all the characters get high, there’s a good chance I’d repeatedly tell everyone that I don’t smoke. It’s the same reason why I put Lorraine Baines lower on the list, because she does smoke in the scene where Marty is in the car with her. I don’t want to judge people for smoking, that is their choice after all, but for all I know, Lana could be a bad influence and get me to join in, and I do not want that. This is why I never had a chance with girls. I do not drink. I do not smoke. I do not party. Okay, enough with the self-deprecation, let’s move on.

#1: Wonder Woman/Diana Prince *Gal Gadot interpretation* (Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Detective Comics Extended Universe)

Here’s a question. Who won the fight in “Batman v. Superman?”

The answer, Wonder Woman!

Yeah, Wonder Woman is probably my favorite of the heroes in the current Detective Comics Extended Universe. She has a fleshed out backstory that is magical as it is intriguing, she can wield a sword like a boss, and her battle cry is just glorious. Let me just put it this way, there has rarely ever been a moment that a character in any movie has commanded my attention like she has just from thrusting into battle with an epic yell. Sticking with a recurring theme on this list, one reason why Wonder Woman is on here is likely because of her other-worldliness. She starts off in the mythical island of Themiscyra, comes to Earth with Steve Trevor, where she is the fish out of water, and she learns the ways of mankind overtime. She encounters some friends and foes along the way, making her into the wonderous being she is today. I did not have many thoughts on Gal Gadot originally being cast as the iconic heroine, but the moment I witnessed her on screen when I saw “Batman v. Superman” in IMAX, I was in love. First off, can we just admit that by herself, Gal Gadot may be one of the most gorgeous actresses working today? I’ll admit, in some of her earlier roles, including her first go as Wonder Woman in 2016, I was a little worried because her line delivery was occasionally flat, but her physical presence that I think many performers would vie for sort of makes up for it in parts. Sometimes I glance at her and she looks like someone who watched us from space for years, but somehow she decided to join us in the end. However, Gadot has definitely improved as a performer over the years, and she has nailed the role of Diana Prince harder with each attempt. Even in “Wonder Woman 1984,” which I will admit, was not my favorite of the DCEU movies to have come out. Going back to the character herself, the reason why I admire her as a heroine is despite her superpowers, despite being the pinnacle of all things mighty for women, she is not afraid to show her emotions. She is a god, but she is also quite personable. Kind of like how Chris Hemsworth’s Thor has been portrayed in recent years. But this all harkens back to the point that when it comes to a character like this, one that has the qualities of a human, one that has the qualities of an earthling, but also one who I can teach in a way or another, that is why Diana Prince is the wonder of it all. Plus, unlike Ava from “Ex Machina,” I would personally like to know more about Prince’s world. I would love to see Themiscyra, what the people there do for fun, maybe stay there for awhile. I cannot just one-side the entire relationship to just my planet. I have to show interest in where Diana Prince came from, how she grew up, what she appreciated about life before earth. And having seen all of her story in the DCEU so far, I do care. I think Diana Prince and I would get along fine, maybe more so than Chris Pine. To quote Vitruvius from “The LEGO Movie,” “All this is true because it rhymes.”

For those who want to know my opinion, I think Marvel makes better movies than DC right now. DC seemed like they were getting on the right track with “Aquaman” and “Shazam,” but then “Birds of Prey” and “Wonder Woman 1984” came along. but let me tell you the truth, if I wanted to spend the rest of my life with a character from one of those universes, I’d pick Diana Prince before anyone in the MCU. Let’s look at it this way. Part of the reason why Black Widow is on this list, not to mention part of why she is so high on it, is because of my attachment to her since my early teens that has not really gone away. And as I mentioned, I really do not know her as a person, although it is something to maybe get to know eventually depending on where things go. If I had to make this analogy any simpler, Natasha Romanoff may be fun to hang out with in a bar, maybe for a one night stand. Diana Prince has looks, she has personality, she seems to take life one day at a time, and she sounds like an optimist. And I’d say that Natasha Romanoff shares those qualities as well, but if I had to choose one person, I’d choose Diana because I’d probably end up liking her more for, well… her, than maybe I would for Natasha.

The only thing that I could think of that would keep me away from Diana is if I develop a habit of lying. Either to her or other people, because her lasso would probably bash my brains in. Other than that, I love her.

Thanks for reading this countdown! I hope you enjoyed this, well, pretty late to be a Valentine’s Day special, but you gotta do what ya gotta do. The best posts take time, not a Sonic the Hedgehog style rush! Speaking of posts that take time, I want to let you all know that on February 28th, I will be announcing the nominees for the 3rd Annual Jackoff Awards! The ceremony will take place two weeks after, on March 14th. I am also currently working on reviews for “Minari” and “Judas and the Black Messiah.” I will hopefully have both of those up soon. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account, also like the Facebook page so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, are there any characters in film that you desire? Remember, the key word is characters, not actors, this may provide a slight difference at the very least. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Top Movies of the 2010s (THE DISAPPOINTING 25)

Top Movies of the 2010s OFFICIAL POSTER

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

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Never thought you’d see this again, did you? Well, I originally marketed the Top Movies of the 2010s countdowns as an event, so you know what? If I really want to give this the event treatment it deserves, let’s keep it going! This time, we are going to be focusing on the twenty-five films that I watched either with full attention, anticipation, or curiosity, and was flat-out let down in some way. It’s time for the disappointing 25! Before we go any further, this countdown is subjective. All these entries are based on my own experiences and opinions, and are therefore no way supposed to represent the thoughts and opinions of other individuals. Keep in mind, just because I think a certain movie is disappointing, doesn’t mean you have to agree. This world would be boring if that were the case. Although… I’ll take less fighting in the comment sections any day. Also, even though I have had lots of time during this period of isolation to go back and watch more films, I have not seen every single film that has come out during the 2010s. It’s too big of a task to handle. So movies that I’ve heard from others that were disappointing like “Battle Los Angeles,” “Terminator: Dark Fate,” and “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” do not qualify to be on the list. I will also add, if a movie is to be included on here, I must have watched it from beginning to end. So, as much as I could count a movie like “Frozen,” that’s not happening.

Also, keep in mind this is a list of the most DISAPPOINTING movies and it is not to be confused with the WORST movies. The worst movies are just movies that I flat out don’t like. Disappointing movies on the other hand are the movies that I have expectations for in some way and end up being let down. In fact, some of these entries are movies that I like. They just have qualities attached that make them underwhelming, or in some cases, just a plain bad movie. So with that being said, if you had high expectations for this countdown, prepare to hopefully not be let down! These are my top 25 DISAPPOINTING movies of the 2010s!

#25: The Aeronauts (2019)

Starting off this list is “The Aeronauts,” otherwise known as what was supposed to be Amazon’s first attempt at an IMAX run. Unfortunately, that never happened, and it makes the movie slightly more unwatchable the more I think about it. This is a movie that I would probably watch again, but there are scenes in it that are slower than others. There’s the main plot of the movie that involves two people on a hot air balloon, and there’s a sideplot on land. And when the movie takes place on land, it’s almost worth tuning out. Did I mention this movie is based on true events and yet the main characters are fundamentally changed? I like what this movie did with the aspect ratio, because whenever this movie took place up in the air, the picture stretches to fit a traditional TV screen, whereas when the movie is anywhere else, it’s in a scope aspect ratio. It reminds me of the vibe the movie is going for whenever it wants to be adventurous or just drop back to reality. The cinematography is not bad either. A lot of the framing is lovely to look at. Another reason why this is not higher on the list is because this is one of the few movies that I’ve seen that I can consider the end credits to be the best part. Why is that? Because while the credits don’t really have any special background compared to… say… what a lot of animated films have presented over the past number of years, they have what could be one of the best original songs I have EVER heard in a movie, titled “Home to You” by Sigrid. Not only does it completely fit the vibe of “The Aeronauts,” it’s just a good song. Honestly, once this world goes back to normal, and I don’t mean the new normal, I mean normal period, it might be the first song I play as a sigh of relief. Because I know it’s easy to stay home, but after all I’ve done all this time, the song would be a great reminder of the journey I have been through and whatever positivity could lie ahead. I don’t like a lot of modern music, so it REALLY says something that I am giving a thumbs up for a song like this. But if you do want to watch the movie, it’s free on Prime Video, see what you think.

#24: Coco (2017)

For the record, I like this film, but the reason why I am putting it on the list is probably because of the expectations I’ve had for it. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you “Coco.” Even though I constantly make fun of Disney for their greed and desire to dominate the world, Pixar is probably one of the best studios working today, because they always manage to put out quality content that not only makes money, but is fantastically made. “Coco” is yet another example of why Pixar might have the best looking modern animations. It is also another effective story in the Pixar collection of films, even if it does remind me of a better of a better film, specifically “Kubo and the Two Strings.” But the reason why this film is on the list to begin with is a similar reason why I found “Manchester by the Sea” to admittedly be somewhat disappointing. By the way, that movie is not on the list. I’d probably put it as an honorable mention though. One of the core elements of “Coco” that I’ve heard from viewers prior to seeing it is that it is emotionally charged. I expected something maybe towards the end that could get me to almost shed a tear. I did not really get any of that from my experience. I will also say that maybe I am not part of the target audience that would usually feel that. In fact, many of the people I know who happen to be related or close to me are still alive. My core grandparents on both sides have not passed away, and I feel lucky to have them in my life. If somebody I know, whether it be a friend or family member passes away, maybe this movie will hit me more the second time I watch it. And no, none of this disappointment has to do with the extended “Frozen” short film they presented in theaters prior to “Coco” as I only watched this movie at home on a 4K disc.

#23: Seventh Son (2014)

Out of all the movies on this list, “Seventh Son” is one of the few that I’ve had little attachment to before seeing it. I was into the marketing, and the fact that it had gotten an IMAX run also pleased me. Little did I know how short of a run it would have in theaters. In fact, I was pretty lucky that I got to see it at all, because I found a screening of it when I was in Florida, and that’s how I managed to check out this flick. Unlike the other two movies that I mentioned previously, “Seventh Son” made it onto my worst 25 list for this series, meaning that it is not just disappointing, it’s beyond terrible! In fact, I’ll mention something I uttered in the worst list, I went to see this movie with somebody else, and while the screen did have my attention the whole time, the same cannot be said for my partner, who at this point, I might as well apologize for taking to the movie because they fell asleep! “Seventh Son?” More like “Seventh Snore!” “Seventh Son” is honestly one of the worst fantasy movies I have seen in my life, but part of me wonders if part of it has more to do with my experience of watching the movie because I will admit that the sound in my theater could have been better. Maybe if the theater provided a more quality experience, I could have at least felt like I was watching something worthwhile. Does this invalidate the #23 spot on the list? Frankly, no. Because the movie from what I recall felt generic. And speaking of recalling things, recalling everything about this movie is harder than Minesweeper! Remember that game?

#22: Jupiter Ascending (2015)

Fun fact about this next movie, in regards to release dates in the United States, this next film came out the same weekend as the one I just talked about. What is this next film? “Jupiter Ascending!” That’s what it is! “Jupiter Ascending” is quite honestly a film that I was desperately looking forward to. I was very disappointed that it was delayed from its original July 2014 release date into February 2015. The trailers looked great, the effects were eye candy, and it looked like it would make for a fun theatrical experience. It had good actors attached like Mila Kunis (Family Guy, Ted) along with the directors behind “The Matrix,” AKA the Wachowskis, but this film becomes more disposable the more I think about it. While it was, admittedly, an AMAZING theater experience, watching it on a standard TV does not really provide the same effect. Because while the film has an awesome musical score and great visuals, the story and dialogue are not the finest at times. I would definitely watch this film again for the action scenes, but definitely not for any of the writing. Channing Tatum didn’t even promote this movie when it was coming out. It’s that bad! As for Jupiter Jones, she does not really do much to resemble a proper protagonist other than simply be the center of the film just… because. For someone who is such a core character in the film, it feels weird that she is in distress as much as she is. Again, the visuals are breathtaking, and I would watch this movie as part of a tech demo, but I’d rather watch the “Matrix” sequels again than whatever this is.

“I love dogs, I’ve always loved dogs.” -Jupiter Jones

Shut up, Meg.

#21: Suicide Squad (2016)

Much like “Jupiter Ascending,” “Suicide Squad” was a fun time at the movies, but a lackluster experience watching it at home. I will say though, having already watched this film at home, the only time I watched it at home was at the beginning of 2017 and I popped in the extended cut of the film. I didn’t really feel much of a difference in terms of content, but in regards to the main movie, I became angrier than I thought I would about it. While Viola Davis is a solid actress, her character, specifically Amanda Waller, is one that I did not really enjoy watching. I didn’t really approve of all her actions in the film and she just left a bad taste in my mouth. Harley Quinn steals the show due to Margot Robbie’s performance, making her a solid character. But unfortunately, when it comes to the main heroes, Quinn is almost the only one who happens to shine. Deadshot’s okay, Katana’s alright, Killer Croc… looks pretty cool. But if I were to tell you who my favorite character in “Suicide Squad” happened to be, I’d go straight to Harley Quinn because she was pretty much the only one who had any charisma. I will say, when it comes to The Joker, he was not that bad. Of the Jokers I’ve seen on screen, he’s definitely inferior to others, but he’s also not a travesty by any means. Jared Leto played the part well and when it comes to this universe, I’d say his portrayal worked fine. Although I do think the movie maybe could have been better if they’ve utilized him more. This is also one of those movies, again like “Jupiter Ascending,” that had fantastic marketing leading up to it. The early trailer for “Suicide Squad” with Bohemian Rhapsody playing in the background was worthy of two thumbs up and raised the bar of excitement for me. “Suicide Squad” to me is the worst of the Detective Comics Extended Universe films. At least it’s uphill from there with films like “Wonder Woman” and “Shazam!.”

#20: Grown Ups (2010)

I don’t have a magical crystal ball, so I cannot go back in time and see exactly how many people were looking forward to “Grown Ups” when it was coming out. While I did not go see this movie in the theater, it was one I was curious about. But as I watched it, it didn’t stick with me. Now, from what I’ve heard, when it comes to Adam Sandler movies, “Grown Ups” is not as bad as “Jack and Jill,” which I have not seen. But this is one of those movies that the more I think about it, isn’t really as funny as I would want it to be. When you have renowned comedians like Adam Sandler and Kevin James in the mix, I probably would want a little more. And this comes from someone who likes Sandler’s earlier movies like “Happy Gilmore” and “Big Daddy.” This also comes from someone who really enjoys “King of Queens,” the nine-season sitcom starring Kevin James. RIP Jerry Stiller. Arthur Spooner for life. These two comedians have provided some thumbs up-worthy content for me over the years, and it’s disappointing to see these two, along with other cast members such as Salma Hayek, in something like this. I will also point out, even though the sequel is probably not remembered as the greatest of all time, I honestly think I enjoyed “Grown Ups 2” more than the original. Feels weird to say that, but it’s true. I did catch the movie on TV a few times and it did catch my attention, but it’s not one I’ll always remember for its quality. At this point, I only remember one or two scenes being remotely comical and well executed, and it was fun to see Cape Cod on screen. I say that mainly because I was at the waterpark where they shot part of the movie almost around the same time when filming took place.

#19: Under the Skin (2013)

Kind of like “Coco,” I do have some respect for this movie. It has a likable lead actress, some of the music suits it very well, and the vibe is seemingly perfect. So when it comes to “Under the Skin,” I have to ask… What exactly went wrong? That is a tough question to answer. Because for one thing, there are positive aspects about this movie. It just however wasn’t enough to keep me entertained. It is a seductive, hypnotizing film, and it honestly goes on to reveal the proper acting chops of Scarlett Johansson. Although the more I reflect on the film, the less I remember. I remember scenes in the car, I remember all the trippy s*it, but can I describe it all in detail? Absolutely not. This is probably one of those films that I probably need to watch again to fully appreciate, but with so many other movies out there, I am going to have to debate on whether or not such a notion is a proper idea. And if you think I am one of those people who cannot watch a film that is “too slow,” ask me what I think about “2001: A Space Odyssey” and I’ll tell you that it is arguably in my top 5 sci-fi films of all time. At times I was bored during “Under the Skin,” there just wasn’t enough for me. And that’s really disappointing. The film has an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. It was nominated for a BAFTA! It was made by A24! It has the associations of what could mark the label of a solid movie. But it just wasn’t for me. But… Scarlett Johansson is dreamy, I’ll say that.

#18: New Year’s Eve (2011)

Before I saw this movie, I heard from others about how bad it was, but I went in with curiosity. I have not seen all of Garry Marshall’s holiday-themed movies, but they are not good, man. And “New Year’s Eve” is just a prime example of that! This movie takes a bunch of prominent actors who have perfected their craft and wastes all of them! Halle Berry is in this movie? You might as well be watching “Catwoman” at this point! Sofia Vergara showed up here? Just because she’s in an award-winning sitcom, doesn’t mean that will automatically make this movie good! Robert De Niro’s here?! Oh, the horror! There’s almost no redeemable, likable, or watchable scenes in this mess. Out of all the big holidays, New Year’s Eve is one of the few that I bend over for more than others. And honestly, this year, it’s gonna be pretty f*cking rad if you ask me, because I have never wanted to say goodbye to a year more. I’m just hoping we find a cure to COVID-19 by December, otherwise the ball drop would be just as boring as me dropping a ball from my hand to my bedroom floor. The problem with this movie is that there is no real center of the story to attach to. Yes, it’s called New Year’s Eve, and that’s what the movie is about, but it just doesn’t have one specific character that I can attach myself to more than any other. It’s kind of like “Dunkirk,” except that “Dunkirk” is a freaking awesome movie! “New Year’s Eve” is just a waste of time. And this comes from somebody who was really curious about this movie just from the title alone. I will also add, the scene where the ball actually drops is not even that great. Your movie is called New Year’s Eve, centers around the ball drop in Times Square, and you manage to f*ck that up out of everything! Unbelievable!

#17: Allegiant (2016)

If you ask me, I was never a huge fanatic when it comes to the young adult genre. If I had to pick what movies within the genre would have to be the best in regards to this previous decade, it would probably have to be “The Maze Runner,” although it doesn’t say much. One of the franchises that I thought had a lot of potential is “Divergent.” I went to see the first movie in the theater, enjoyed it. Saw the second one, liked that one even more. Then the dreaded third one, otherwise known as “Allegiant,” happened. Out of the three movies in this franchise, this one is easily the most forgettable. It had the worst box office total out of these movies, and it was also one that I will admit, was not the best in terms of marketing. When I saw marketing for the first movie in the franchise, “Divergent,” it felt badass, it felt raw in some ways. This however, just focused too much on the lovey dovey s*it. I didn’t really care about any of the characters, even though most of the actors give halfway serviceable performances. It’s not Oscar-worthy or anything, it just works. As for the visual effects, they feel like visual effects from 2007 that’s trying to gloss itself up for 2016 standards. It felt like everything was out of an overpolished Nintendo game! Even the people behind this movie must understand what exactly they’ve put out, because this movie we know today as “Allegiant” was once going to follow the footsteps of “Harry Potter” and “The Hunger Games” and get f*cking greddy by splitting the last film into two parts. For those of you who have read the “Divergent” books, which I have not done by the way if this adds anything to the table, “Allegiant” is the third and final installment to the franchise. Or, at least the original trilogy, because there is additional material afterwards. If you are wondering where that second part to “Allegiant” is, forget about it. It was supposed to go straight to TV, but it never got made! So this franchise remains unfinished! And don’t even get me started on how much they surprisingly succeeded on making Miles Teller the most annoying piece of s*it of all time. His character… Is something else. He’s honestly headache inducing, which is really sad as this movie truly does waste this actor who based on his performance in movies like “Whiplash,” has terrific chops. I may have alleged myself to the “Divergent” franchise at the beginning, but in the end, it crashed and burned. What else can I say?

#16: Sully (2016)

For the record, this is another movie that I honestly enjoyed. It is a film that I bought on Blu-ray and continue to own to this day, I just felt underwhelmed by it when I watched it. I’m talking about “Sully,” directed by Clint Eastwood, who honestly has not done his finest work in recent years, and this is just one example. There are essentials to a good flick here. Tom Hanks gives a solid performance, which should not be surprising at this point. Everything involving the plane crash had my attention. In fact, given how that is a major selling point of the movie, I applaud the crew for sticking the landing on that. No pun intended. Everything else in the movie is technically entertaining, but it doesn’t mean I was not almost bored with what was on screen. I think one of the main problems with this movie is that it starts with something that honestly feels kind of climactic, and as it goes, nothing really matches that or has that tremendous of an effect. A plane crash feels like something that would happen to symbolize an end of a movie rather than the beginning. But because everything else feels like it has the vibe of buildup when it is really what is supposed to come later, it just feels unfulfilling. I understood what was happening and the movie itself was competent, but it just did not give me an impact that felt happened to be gripping or enormous. The movie doesn’t crash land into disaster territory, it’s just not maybe as satisfying as I would have hoped.

#15: Flight (2012)

Speaking of movies with plane crashes that start out with perhaps the most climactic part of the movie, the next entry to the list is “Flight” starring Denzel Washington and directed by Robert Zemeckis. Honestly, even though I will forever credit Robert Zemeckis for directing the entire “Back to the Future” trilogy, I will also call him out because “Flight” might be his worst movie. And kind of like “Under the Skin,” this is a notion that I am disappointed to say, because this did get some awards buzz. And to be fair, the production value and acting is not that bad in this movie. I can see why Denzel Washington got an Oscar nomination. But this movie honestly bored me. I will admit, it has been years since I watched it. But all I remember is the plane crash and anything that happens after it is on a downward spiral in terms of pacing and enjoyability. I will say, I bought this movie on Blu-ray, and having paid $3.99 for it, I could have ended up with worse. At the same time, I expect more out of movie like this. Even though it did get a nomination for Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards, it did not have my attention. Although it has been years since I popped it in my player and last watched it. Maybe it’s better the second time, but I don’t know for sure.

#14: The Revenant (2015)

Leonardo DiCaprio won his first Oscar for this movie… Which, yeah, he was great, even though I really wanted Matt Damon to win for “The Martian.” Just being honest. With that said, “The Revenant” is not as great as some make it out to be. Yes, it won Best Picture-Drama at the Golden Globes. It was nominated for get this, TWELVE Academy Awards! It had a pretty good trailer leading up to it. I really did have interest in this movie to get me to go see it in the theater. In fact, when I saw it in the theater, it was worth the price of admission because of how well presented it was. The cinematography is outstanding, which should not be surprising as it is directed and shot by the same duo who worked on “Birdman” together. “The Revenant” has some of best individual frames of the decade. The bear attack in this film was… alright, I guess. It was probably not as hyped up as I have heard from other people. At a runtime of two hours and thirty-six minutes, I kind of wish much of that runtime gave me something a little more epic. This movie is surprisingly slow at times. At times it works, but some of the time it doesn’t. I will admit, the effort put into the movie through performances by Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy plus the directing from Alejandro G. Iñárritu makes up for its faults. However, when it comes to movies nominated for Best Picture at the 88th Academy Awards, I’d rather go back and watch “The Martian,” I’d rather go back and watch “Room!” Those movies are killer, by the way!

#13: The Hunger Games (2012)

I was 12 years old and in middle school when this movie came out, and everyone in my classes DID. NOT. STOP. TALKING. ABOUT THIS FRANCHISE. I read the first book for the franchise and put it down, and while I enjoyed this movie the first time, it just got worse the more I thought about it. I’m talking about “The Hunger Games.” Now, was I looking forward to watching the movie based on “The Hunger Games” when it was coming out? Most likely. Because it was the big phenomenon of 2012. Thankfully, my cousin gave me the book to read. I didn’t even make it halfway. That should have been a sign of what was to come during the movie, which I nevertheless looked forward to. I was a little nervous going into the movie the first time I watched it because I didn’t finish the book (this was a couple months after I started reading it) and I probably had some sort of unfulfilled commitment. While I did enjoy the movie the first time I saw it, I watched it a couple more times and it really does not hold up. The dramatic portions of the film don’t feel as high as I’d want them to be, I don’t like the color grading at times, and some of the cinematography is not that great. Jennifer Lawrence is a likable actress. In fact, she’s in this movie with Stanley Tucci and Elizabeth Banks, who are also respectable names in the industry, but this film is dramatically overhyped. There was even a point where I wrote an entry specifically for my 25 worst films of the decade, but I did not use it mainly because I feel that this film is more overhyped than it is incompetent. In fact, I’ve used part of what I’ve written for that entry at the beginning of this specific entry. Want to know what I ended with? Well, here ya go!

I own the movie on Blu-ray, but perhaps the only reason why I still own it to this day is because a lot of my friends who have connected with me throughout my life know what “The Hunger Games” is, and if the opportunity strikes to just sit down and watch a movie, chances are they might choose that. Although I am not completely sure because knowing our disposable society, “The Hunger Games” was likely just a fad for the time being. I am honestly not even a fan of the franchise, I do like the second film, but I still have yet to see the third and fourth, and the reason is because I refuse to pay for two parts. Thanks a lot, Lionsgate!

#12: Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

“Ant-Man” is currently in my top 5 MCU films. When they announced a sequel to “Ant-Man,” I was pretty excited because the first one was a total surprise. I didn’t really expect much from it, I thought it had one good trailer, but I was not sure if that was going to translate to a great movie. However, it was brilliantly written, nicely weaved in one specific outside Marvel character, and Paul Rudd plays a really good “Ant-Man.” Now let’s jump to 2018. The first trailer for “Ant-Man and the Wasp” drops… Ehhhh… Then “Avengers: Infinity War” comes out, it’s my favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe movie yet, and then all of sudden, I’m excited for “Ant-Man and the Wasp” again. Then I saw the movie… The movie is not bad by any means, in fact, when it comes to 2018’s comic book movies, I’d rather watch this again than “Venom.” But “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is a massive step down from not just the recently mentioned “Avengers: Infinity War,” but also, and perhaps more importantly, the first “Ant-Man” film. The first “Ant-Man” was an exciting heist adventure with compelling characters and Paul Rudd at the center of it all. Here, Evangeline Lilly, who I happen to like as an actress, becomes more of a prominent character as she becomes The Wasp. Their chemistry is fine, but while the film is trying its hardest to be lighthearted fun, the stakes almost don’t even feel like they are there. And while this could be somewhat intentional due to “Avengers: Infinity War” probably being the biggest film Marvel has done in terms of stakes up to this point, it feels like a sacrifice as the film is fun, but nearly uneventful. Oddly enough, this film has what could be the most useless end credits scene in the history of the MCU, where a human-sized ant is playing the drums because… Paul Rudd did it in the movie, so it needs payoff for some reason. However, I will admit, this movie also has what could arguably be the best end credit scene in the MCU, where it basically teases where the movie’s characters are going to be and what they’ll be doing in “Avengers: Endgame.” In fact, I put up a tweet regarding the end credit scene shortly after going to see “Ant-Man and the Wasp” in the theater.

I love how the MCU is such a unique movie property trying to tie in so many characters and stories in at once, but when the main story is not as good as what comes after it, it’s kind of a weakness.

#11: Moonlight (2016)

Coming in at #11 is a movie that is probably going to piss a lot of people off, partially because it was not only nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, but it actually won it. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you “Moonlight.” The Best Picture? Of the Academy Awards? Are we sure it’s not “La La Land?” Now, I saw the movie after it won Best Picture, because it was still playing in theaters and I thought I’d give it a shot. While I did think the coming of age story was definitely watchable, I did not feel compelled the entire time. There’s one specific scene that I feel goes on for way too long, the movie starts out pretty solid, and while it continues to be pretty good, it’s on a downward slope in terms of quality. And I will admit, the movie is well made. The cinematography is beautiful. The color grading fits the tone quite well. The acting is top notch. Mahershala Ali earned his Oscar win for Best Supporting Actor. Also, it felt natural seeing Chiron’s character age, it did not feel like watching three different characters. Maybe I’m not in the right audience for this movie. I’m a straight white male. This movie deals with sexuality and identity, which are issues that I don’t struggle with. While can say I connected somewhat emotionally to the protagonist of the film, I cannot say I specifically embody the same traits as him. If you ask me, if the real Best Picture of 2016 was “La La Land” and that was not a mistake, I would approve, because I’d rather watch that movie again.

#10: Logan Lucky (2017)

Coming in at #10 is a film with a terrific cast, an acclaimed director, and a somewhat intriguing concept behind it. So, what went wrong? I don’t know! Nevertheless, “Logan Lucky” is probably one of the biggest drags of a film I have seen in recent memory. And it’s really sad to say that because this film has so many big names attached who are respectable in the industry, just from the cast alone! Channing Tatum! Adam Driver! Daniel Craig! Sebastian Stan! Seth MacFarlane for crying out loud! All these people are talented, but unfortunately, I could barely keep myself awake for whatever fresh hell this was. The funny thing about this movie, looking into the future, is that it is directed by Steven Soderbergh, who is known for films like “Ocean’s Eleven.” But what’s funny about that notion is that months later Soderbergh would come out with another movie by the name of “Unsane,” which by the way is free on Prime Video. Unlike “Logan Lucky,” which was beautifully photographed through a Red Epic Dragon camera, “Unsane” was shot primarily using an iPhone 7 Plus! Just goes to show that looks are not everything and without a good story, your movie is probably not going to be all that watchable. It was hard for me to connect with anybody, and it’s just as dull as watching paint dry. That’s even with the utterly wacky Daniel Craig performance somewhere in the mix! Kind of crazy if you ask me!

#9: Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014)

One of my most nostalgic films is 2006’s “Night at the Museum,” it was one of the first films I have seen in the theater, and to this day, it is one of the more experiential films I have seen. As a comedy, it’s fun for all ages. It’s sequel, “Battle of the Smithsonian,” could arguably be better than the original due to Hank Azaria’s performance as Kahmunrah, and a good of number of the gags. I don’t know how many people would agree with me, but that’s just how I feel. “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” however is a film that quite honestly did not hit me the way I wanted it to. While I will say that the trailer for the film is not the finest in the world, I was still stoked because I love the property. Ben Stiller as Larry Daley is one of the better roles I’ve seen him in. The plot of “Secret of the Tomb” talks a good game, because it does that traditional sequel thing where you supposedly have to go bigger than the previous films. The first film took place entirely in New York. The second one expanded to Washington DC. As for this one, it’s out of the United States. Bigger doesn’t always mean better. And yes, much like the other two “Night at the Museum” films, this one has comedy that lands. There’s a great bit where the character Lancelot comes across a play of “Camelot” featuring Hugh Jackman and Alice Eve. Jedediah and Octavius spend some time on mini Pompeii before the volcano explodes. The movie does have some creative elements intact and some enjoyable aspects tied into it. But I’d rather go back and watch the first and second movies again. Oh, and Rebel Wilson is in this film too… Why is she here? Who invited her to this sham of a party?

#8: Transcendence (2014)

There are particular facts that you have to carry with you all your life. The only things that are certain happen to be death and taxes. In the event of a tornado, driving into a tornado is not the smartest idea to keep yourself safe. Also, “Transcendence” is f*cking boring! Johnny Depp is an enigma of an actor, because over the years, despite being credited with some solid performances, he’s had a good amount of bad days at the office. Maybe because he got too attached to Tim Burton for all I know. Out of all the bad days at the office, this is probably the one where the TPS reports make you want to break your computer. “Transcendence” is one of those movies that has a cool concept, but is executed in such a poor manner. The trailers leading up to “Transcendence” were attention-grabbing and seemed to promise something worth watching. While I did miss “Transcendence” in the theater, I bought the DVD and it’s safe to say that it is one of the least worthwhile purchases I’ve made in my life. I’ve popped the movie in once or twice and fell asleep. The time I did watch the film and I actually managed to make it through the whole thing, sleeping probably felt like the best option as this movie was a complete borefest and a trainwreck. I could barely tell you anything that happens in this movie past the second half. All I remember is that it takes place in a desert, things go crazy, and no semblance of quality exists. Plus, this movie is directed by Wally Pfister, the cinematographer of “The Dark Knight.” While this is his directorial debut, it is very disappointing to know that even after doing a few movies alongside Christopher Nolan, he cannot whip up a quality product himself. Nobody could save this movie! Not Johnny Depp! Not Rebecca Hall! Not Paul Bettany! Not Cillian Murphy! As for the screenplay written by Jack Paigen, it’s got the pacing of a turtle! Believe it or not, this is his first screenplay he’s officially credited for, so maybe I’m being a little harsh, but it’s not always the best indicator of fine art when you have this $100 million movie and both the screenwriter and director have never been credited for anything in this spectrum of their craft! GAH! …At least Pfister will forever have my respect for being the first cinematographer to shoot a major Hollywood movie with an IMAX camera, so there’s that.

#7: Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018)

“Pacific Rim” is a fun movie. It has the concept of “Power Rangers” and blends it excellently with the vibe of “Transformers.” I saw the film in IMAX, enjoyed it, and eventually got the 4K Blu-ray for Christmas, so I have fond memories of this film. Oh, wait did I say “Pacific Rim?” I’m sorry! That’s the good one! “Pacific Rim: Uprising” on the other hand is a total bitch of a movie! This is yet another movie that I was looking forward to simply from the concept, but what really got me onboard was the first trailer for it. Just like the first movie, it looked like it was trying to pack in as much fun as possible. And with a mega-star like John Boyega at the forefront, it must have been a recipe for excellence! Fun fact… This movie takes place ten years after the point where the original leaves off. Here’s another fun fact, it nearly feels as if it takes about ten years to get through this stinkin’ mess! Unlike the first “Pacific Rim” directed by Academy Award winner Guillermo del Toro, which had tons of soul put into it, this film was directed by Steven S. DeKnight, who has never directed a film prior to “Pacific Rim: Uprising.” He’s done TV shows like “Daredevil” and “Smallville,” but when it comes to films, this is his debut. “Pacific Rim: Uprising” honestly feels more like a movie that was a studio plot to start a franchise than anything else. Aside from that, Charlie Day’s character may be more annoying than Flo from Progressive trying to change every conversation at a party to be about insurance! “Pacific Rim: Uprising” reminds me a lot of “Independence Day: Resurgence,” which was a sequel that was perhaps more long-awaited, although maybe less wanted at the same time, but both movies make massive time jumps, yet cannot help but force reflections that tie into their original counterparts. Where did all my IQ points go? Guess a Kaiju destroyed all of them! That’s the only solution I can come up with at this point!

#6: Shrek Forever After (2010)

Coming in at #6, is the worst animated movie on this list, “Shrek Forever After!” Now “Shrek Forever After” is marketed as the fourth and final chapter in the “Shrek” franchise, that is unless you count the 2011 spinoff “Puss in Boots,” which is a pretty good movie. As for this one, it’s kind of like that TV show that your friend tells you to watch. It’s that show where your friend warns you, “The first couple seasons are good, but don’t watch the final one!” Although, “Shrek the Third” was not that well received either technically speaking, but I find that movie to be more watchable than this. It has been years since I watched “Shrek Forever After,” but I still remember being let down. When you market your movie as the final chapter, there has to be something that puts a bow on the franchise that makes the finale grand. This, honestly just didn’t work. And the ending, if you ask me, is rushed and barely even counts as climactic. The first couple of “Shrek” films had better endings than this travesty! Especially “Shrek 2,” which may have put have put out a cover song of Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out For A Hero” that might be twice as good as the original! The concept is interesting, seeing Shrek wanting to return to his roots at times was quite entertaining. But in a franchise full of happily ever afters, this movie is the one that brought me at the closest point to becoming an ogre than any other.

#5: The Favourite (2018)

Between massive awards potential, a stunning cast, and an acclaimed filmmaker, “The Favourite” may have had a formula for success. Guess what? It succeeded! …At failing to impress me. Given how this film was getting tons of awards buzz, I figured I’d give it a shot at the cinema. However, this movie tied me to a horse and dragged me across grass for a couple hours! It’s boring, it’s nearly feels pretentious, it’s horribly paced, and I couldn’t stop wondering when it would actually end. If you ask me, the performances are fine. Olivia Colman is alright, I wouldn’t say she was my pick to win an Oscar, in fact of the nominees listed for that specific ceremony, I probably would have picked Lady Gaga for “A Star is Born,” but that’s just me. Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz are also competent as their own characters. Technically speaking, “The Favourite” is a solid movie with detailed set design, gorgeous framing, well put-together costumes, and a somewhat neat score. Story-wise however, while I was compelled at times, it did not do much to leave me satisfied. As the movie went on, I began to tune out, just being honest. For a movie called “The Favourite,” it’s really ironic how this turned out to be one of my least favorite films of 2018. It nearly made it into my honorable mentions on my worst list for that year! This is also yet another example kind of like “Jupiter Ascending,” of how a movie can look visually appealing, but fail to deliver on the story. This movie nearly touches the two hour mark, but if you ask me, I think based on my experience, it felt like three hours! It’s a drag!

#4: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Coming in at #4 is “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2!” The original “Guardians of the Galaxy” is a FUN movie. It has comedy! It has a killer soundtrack! It has a likable group of characters from Starlord to Gamora to Rocket! When it comes to 2014, it might as well have been the movie of the summer, as it became the year’s highest grossing superhero film, not to mention the year’s third highest grossing film period. Since this was a big box office hit, a sequel was perhaps inevitable. And when the first main trailer came out, I was hyped, because much like the first film, the comedy stood out. There was one joke that was shown at the end that introduces Mantis that made me switch between the mood of simply checking the movie out “because, why not,” to “absolutely needing to see it now.” Aside from “Wonder Woman,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” was my most anticipated film of 2017. But when I saw it with 500 other people, I wondered if I was on drugs, or if everyone else was on drugs. I say so because the audience I was with pretty much laughed at every joke that came up, but I on the other hand remained silent for perhaps most of the film. And honestly, Baby Groot sucks. Even though inserting Baby Groot is technically appropriate for picking up where the Guardians left off, it almost feels something as simple as a ploy to get people to buy more toys. Now I understand that Marvel movies are expensive, it costs a lot to make them, but still! I didn’t find him cute, I didn’t find him that charming, maybe I’m just a horrible person! It feels like there are too many scenes in the film where the characters are doing something and Groot just is shoved in there because… Baby Groot’s gotta Baby Groot! I will admit, when I first saw this movie, it was at a sold out IMAX and I was in the front row, so I was not in the best mood. But if you must know, I did see it again on a separate occasion. I laughed more, but I also remembered how much I didn’t like Baby Groot, and how much of a step down this was compared to its original counterpart. Even though there is an argument to make that the original “Guardians of the Galaxy” is slightly overrated, it lives up to the hype. It’s hilarious, fun, and visually stunning. Sure, some of the fun is there in “Vol. 2,” but the comedy feels absent! The effects and shots in “Vol. 2” however are some of the finest I’ve witnessed in the MCU, so I’ll give credit where it’s due. I have respect for James Gunn, because he’s kind of a wacky director, and this does feel like a personal movie from his end, but in some ways, the movie failed to hit me. Sure, it had a great villain, which at some points, is rather odd to say in regards to the MCU, but it’s true! Still, if it were a Friday night and I had some friends around, I’d probably pop in the first film as opposed to its sequel.

#3: Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Speaking of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one of the most anticipated films of 2015 for me was “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Now… Is it fun? Yes. Is it action-packed? Absolutely. …But it’s “The Avengers,” man! The freaking “Avengers” of all the heroes! Why is it that apparently “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” are some of the most solid films in phase 2 of the MCU and “Age of Ultron” is nearly the worst? Heck, even “Ant-Man,” which was the much smaller (in a literal sense) MCU installment to come out in 2015, is twice as good! I will say that this film is better than “Thor: The Dark World,” but when it comes to the MCU, that film is not hard to beat. This was a film that I felt an enormous need to see opening weekend. Every trailer captivated me and made me want to go see it. Joss Whedon, who did a solid job with the first “Avengers” film in 2012, is back in the chair again. The movie almost looked like it could be pretty dark as Robert Downey Jr.’s character of Tony Stark seemed to be going on a bit of a downward spiral from what I have seen in marketing. The trailers always caught my attention and promised something absolutely special. But instead, I got mediocrity shoved right in my face. Ultron is a slightly charismatic villain, but again, in Marvel’s first couple of phases, the villains did not always stand out. Also, you know how a lot of blockbusters are often defined as explosive popcorn movies? “Avengers: Age of Ultron” not only fits that bracket quite well, but to my surprise, it focuses way too much on being stylistic than effectively dramatic. It almost feels like Zack Snyder or Michael Bay could have directed this film at times. There are positives to it. It’s got funny at moments here and there. Some of the hero characters stand out, which they should. There’s a great gag involving mjolnir, AKA Thor’s hammer, and this also features one of the better Stan Lee cameos. Surprisingly, if you ask me what my thoughts are on the moments between Hulk and Black Widow, those did not annoy me as much as other people. In fact, “Age of Ultron” did little to annoy me, but I figured in a sequel as big and as highly anticipated as this, it could have lived up to a higher standard. I say this specifically not just regarding “Avengers,” but perhaps all Marvel movies, “Age of Ultron” has one of the weaker climaxes. While it is fun to look at, it doesn’t feel like there’s more to it than eye candy. This movie just feels like an excuse for Disney/Marvel to throw $365 million out the window. Which, in the end, probably wasn’t the worst idea as this movie joined the billion dollar club. Although I will admit, even though I think Joss Whedon, alongside everyone else involved, did a better job with the original “Avengers” movie, I do feel bad for some of the harsh feedback he got, because it’s a major factor that got the famous director to quit Twitter. Nevertheless, “Age of Ultron” is not only the worst “Avengers” movie, it is almost the worst movie of the MCU’s phase 2.

#2: Midsommar (2019)

These last two movies on the list are from 2019, which makes me even more satisfied that the year ended with a ton of solid movies from “Parasite” to “Ford v Ferrari” to “Knives Out” to “Uncut Gems.” In the middle of the year, specifically, July, my most anticipated film of the summer came out. While I did wait a month to see it and happened to be rather giddy when I finally got my chance, it was not even close to worthwhile! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the runner-up of the disappointing list, “Midsommar!” This is a disappointment if there ever was one. “Hereditary” is probably one of the best directorial debuts in recent memory. Ari Aster made me believe that he had a very bright future ahead… Then we got “Midsommar.” Leading up to this film, “Midsommar” was described by Ari Aster himself to be “a ‘Wizard of Oz’ for perverts.” Having seen the film, it’s not that! “The Wizard of Oz” is a story that takes place in a magical and mystical land! It’s all happy and colorful! Here, it tries to be colorful, it tries to be quirky, but it is perhaps almost the most annoying movie I have ever seen. While the cinematography is beautiful and the directing job from Aster is worthy of a thumbs up, the movie itself pisses me off to no end. Even though Florence Pugh is a likable actress, I cannot say that her character is as likable or charming as her. She honestly probably gives what could be the weirdest and one of the most unreal cries I have heard in a movie. If anybody has seen the first few minutes of “Midsommar” and remembers the cry that Florence Pugh gives, do you cry like that? Do you know anyone who cries like that? I don’t, personally. It’s a thing that I’ve noticed from Ari Aster, because I remember there was a scene from “Midsommar” where I noticed some weird crying as well. If anybody really does cry like this, I want to know because I may be keeping my head in somebody’s ass here, but… I just don’t have much experience hearing cries like the ones from Ari Aster’s films. As if Florence Pugh didn’t play a fine character, the supporting characters are also nearly unwatchable. Most specifically, Florence Pugh’s so-called friends. There was almost nobody I really rooted for in the film. And while this film tries to be pretty scary, it fails. Again, it’s more annoying than anything else! Even the delightfully strange moments don’t make up for its faults! Maybe if I had less anticipation for this film, it would either not make the list or be somewhere on it that’s lower. But again, this was one of my most anticipated films in regards to the summer of 2019. What was the most anticipated? Not sure. Could have been this, maybe “Ready or Not.” Because that had a kick-ass trailer! To add more disappointment, this opened around the same time as “Spider-Man: Far from Home,” which even though Spidey is my favorite superhero, the trailers for “Far from Home” were pretty terrible. Between an underwhelming first trailer, and unexpectedly dropping massive spoilers for “Avengers: Endgame” in a later trailer, it left a bad taste in my mouth. “Midsommar” was a film that felt like a pretty unique experience. Plus, it’s from A24, which is a studio I often respect. They helped put out some of my favorite movies from the past decade including “Room,” “The Disaster Artist,” and “Eighth Grade.” “Midsommar” is in competition with “The Witch” to perhaps be my least favorite A24 film. It’s kind of sad if you ask me. Again, this film is not scary. And I know some people have probably pointed out how “gross” it is. I never really found it to be disgusting or gross. I just found it to be an annoyance.

But you know what the sad part is? It’s not the most disappointing film of the decade! Not even the most disappointing of 2019 as a matter of fact! This past year came so close to being a lackluster year for film.

#1: ???

Alright, we’ve made it! #1! What could it be? Well, here’s some things I’ll say! This movie, as mentioned, came out in 2019. It’s a movie that has been featured on Top 10 WORST Movies of 2019, and in regards to this series, I put it in THE WORST 25 countdown. What is it exactly? Well, it’s not “The Aeronauts.” That did not make it on my top 10 worst, and it’s already #25 here. It’s not “Midsommar,” I just talked about that. It’s not “IT: Chapter Two,” it’s not “Serenity,” it’s not “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” it’s not “Dora and the Lost City of Gold,” and it’s DEFINITELY not “Cats” as I had no expectations going into it. My #1 most disappointing film of the 2010s is… FEATURED IN THE CLIP BELOW!

Oh my God. Zilla. I’ve said that before, but that saying has never made more sense than it does right now. Because my #1 most disappointing film of the 2010s is “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” I am not the biggest “Godzilla” fanatic, but even I was uber-excited for this movie. At 2018’s San Diego Comic-Con, they dropped the first trailer for this film and it pumped me up like a balloon! Aside from having stunning visuals and some cool monster action, it had a BEAUTIFUL redo of “Clair de Lune” playing in the background. But little did I know at the time, that distracted me from the reality that this movie was visually beautiful, but as a story, it is a complete wreck! Nearly none of the original human characters make a return. Instead, we get new characters played by some well-known actors including Vera Farmiga, Kyle Chandler, Thomas Middleditch, and Charles Dance. All of these actors have experience and are culturally respected. Just because this movie has big names, does not mean it’ll be a big success. In fact, it’s a monster-sized failure! Even though it made about double it’s budget, it’s still a disappointment after raking in $386 million worldwide. The movie made less money than its predecessor from 2014, simply titled “Godzilla,” which took in $529 million worldwide against a slightly smaller budget than this dreaded sequel. Why did this movie fail? It’s hard to come up with one simple answer. It’s one of those movies, probably like “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” that did not sit well with critics, but for casual moviegoers and people who are simply fans of “Godzilla,” it was worth watching. After all, the audience score for “King of the Monsters” is 83%, nearly double of the critic score, which sits at 42%. Maybe the low critic score influenced the audience’s thinking patterns. But then again, “Aladdin” came out the week before, so maybe people were still into that.

When I come across a good number of positive thoughts for “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” they sometimes have one thing in common. People sometimes point out that in terms of characters, this movie is lackluster, and despite that, they still give it a positive score. Some would say that monsters fighting each other is entertaining enough. With that being said, I will admit one of the slight positives of “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is that the monster fighting is expanded in this movie, but it’s also a negative because even though it was minimal in 2014’s “Godzilla,” it nevertheless felt special. In “King of the Monsters,” some of the camerawork during the fights is nothing to write home about, although some scenes are better than others. As for characterization, this is just like the “Transformers” movies where even though there are alternate subjects in the title, the movie chooses to focus primarily on disposable and one-dimensional human characters. They’re poorly written, they’re poorly realized, even though the actors do what they can with them. Even though an actress like Millie Bobby Brown was somewhat wasted in this film, she gave it her all, which is probably a sign that she is going to have a bright future that involves a lot more than “Godzilla” and “Stranger Things.” I have come to a point in my movie watching journey where I require more than flat characters and all pretty visuals. This is “Jupiter Ascending” all over again!

Speaking of these pretty visuals, even getting to say that they are pretty in the first place is kind of sad. Because there is a sign that people put some effort into this movie. In fact, I imagine everyone across the board did all they can to make the finest movie possible, but for some reason, when it was trying to stick the landing, it plummeted as hard as s*it! This is one of the few movies that from a visual and audio perspective, made me nearly leave the theater with a headache. I like obnoxious films that are incredibly immersive, but there was so much going on at once! It felt like I was at a concert where three bands where competing to see which one can get the crowd roaring the loudest! This movie honestly feels like that “Family Guy” cutaway where The Emperor from “Star Wars” is speaking through the formula for great dialogue in the franchise. Specifically, he says “Something something something dark side. Something something something complete.” While “Godzilla” is not “Star Wars,” replace “dark side” with “monsters,” and “complete” with “fight in Boston,” you have “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” Yes, it does have a standout story involving a major motivation from Vera Farmiga’s character, but again, all these characters feel incredibly disposable. I mean no harm, and people are allowed to like what they like, I don’t know how all the viewers who like “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” can get past the underwhelming characters who are played by big name actors, but have to deal with a s*itty ass script! It’s cheesy, boring, and forgettable! I can have fun with a big budget blockbuster, just not this one!

To add to the disappointment, this movie could have some unfortunate ramifications going forward. After all, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is the third installment to the current Warner Bros. Monsterverse, which currently features prime titans Godzilla and King Kong. In fact, both titans are supposed to duke it out against each other in a future film that is supposedly coming out this year. The more I hear about that film, or more specifically, what little I even hear about that film, the less I manage to look forward to it. But when it comes to what could happen to it regarding “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” the poor box office total of that film could be a bad sign of what’s to come. Plus, it’s been a few years since people have seen “Kong: Skull Island,” which to be fair, was a success. “Godzilla vs. Kong” could although continue a trend of box office disappointment as it is part of a universe that might as well be shrinking in terms of relevance. One of the reasons why the Marvel Cinematic Universe is still working today is because they’re constantly cranking out films. It took a couple years between one “Iron Man” or “Avengers” film to get to the next one. Plus, in between those sorts of properties, we get other characters getting movies including Thor and Captain America. “Godzilla” took its time, and maybe was on less people’s minds. Plus, given the quality of “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” it sort of hit me in a way that made me less excited for what’s to come. Going back to Marvel, “Avengers: Infinity War” made me excited for future movies including “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and the then untitled “Avengers: Endgame.” A bad movie can do more than just leave a bad taste in the mouth. It can leave an aftertaste that might stick for years. This aftertaste makes me look into the future and ultimately feel a tad pessimistic.

As for what that future looks like specifically, it looks like everyone might not be learning from their mistakes. After all, Eiza Gonzalez, who is set to star alongside Millie Bobby Brown as a couple human characters in “Godzilla vs. Kong,” was intereviewed in March while promoting the all-new Vin Diesel film, “Bloodshot.” She said the following during an interview for The Hollywood Reporter

“Yeah, everything’s been done. These movies take a long time because there’s a lot of CGI in them. But, yeah, we’ve done everything, and they’re just going through and creating these incredible characters. I’m just really excited to see it because it’s these two worlds colliding. The fan base for “Godzilla vs. Kong” is incredible. When I say I’m in the movie, people are like, “Oh my God.” Seeing that fanaticism and seeing how excited they are to see this movie makes me really excited; I think they’re going to be really happy. [Director] Adam Wingard is so talented. Both stories are going parallel, as you’ll see, without giving anything away. It’s a large cast as well, and it was really fun to be part of it. There’s so much going on, but the heart of it is two young girls as well, which is such a positive message for society nowadays. It’s just incredible.” -Eiza Gonzalez

So unless these two young girls are Godzilla vs. Kong bitchin’ it out against each other, I would imagine it involves Millie Bobby Brown and perhaps a character played by Gonzalez herself. Since this movie chooses to focus on humans again, I really hope there is a sense of strong effort put into the script. Because the last one made me want to go out and topple some skyscrapers!

Also, as someone who lives near Boston, this movie is an insult.

Thanks for reading this countdown! Kind of like the previous lists I’ve done in the Top Movies of the 2010s series, this could easily change as it does span an entire decade as opposed to an entire year. In fact, now that I’m in isolation, I have all the time in the world to watch more movies from the 2010s, so who knows? All these picks may be outdated in a month or two. However, if you are interested in seeing more of Top Movies of the 2010s, feel free to check out my other lists titled THE BEST 25 and THE WORST 25. Now that content becoming harder to make in these times, I am thinking of doing more of these. Maybe I’ll also do more than top 25s. Maybe I’ll go short and do top 11s or top 15s, or if I really want to cover such a massive topic, I’ll go for top 50 or top 100. I’ll have to think of a topic that can truly fit a hundred films if that’s the case, but it’s still a thought that I have. If you want to see more great content from Scene Before, follow this blog via an email or WordPress account! Also, be sure to check out my Facebook page if you are interested, I post content updates, random thoughts, and if you don’t want to follow the actual Scene Before blog, I also automatically post new content from Scene Before onto the page if you would like to check it out. But it’s your world and I just live in it! I want to know, what are your most disappointing movies of the 2010s? Is there a title I missed? Or, what other countdowns would you like to see come to life in the Top Movies of the 2010s series? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Onward (2020): Peter Parker and Peter Quill Cast Spells

mv5bmtzlyzk3nzqtmmviys00ywzmltk5ztetnwe0ngvjm2mzywu1xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyndg4njy5otq40._v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_

“Onward” is directed by Dan Scanlon and stars Tom Holland (Captain America: Civil War, Spies In Disguise) alongside Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World) as two brothers. These two brothers live together in a magical realm, or more specifically, a magical realm that has increasingly evolved over the years due to advances in convenience and technology. Now that both brothers are of appropriate age, they are able to execute a magical spell that can help them bring back their father for one day. When they are only able to bring part of their father back to reality, the two brothers go on a quest together to figure out how they can get the rest of him back.

First and foremost. It’s good to be back. While we are not back to normal yet, and yes, NORMAL, I’m tired of whatever the “new normal” is supposed to be! It is still nice to talk about a movie that has come out this year without as much distraction towards the greater pain of reality. “Onward” was one of the last movies I saw in a theater before everything ground to a halt. The film started off with a somewhat underwhelming box office performance, perhaps likely due to COVID-19 taking effect, but I did see it opening weekend, so I feel glad to be one of the chosen people. While there were other movies I was looking forward to this year more, many of which I won’t get to see for awhile, “Onward” was definitely one that had my attention. For starters, it’s a Pixar movie. And Pixar, kind of like Marvel Studios or A24, is one of those distributors that always delivers a midas touch. Heck, I even like all the “Cars” movies! I’ll go as far to say that I really enjoyed “Cars 2!” If you want action, that’s a Pixar movie I’d recommend. So even though “Onward” was not my most anticipated film of 2020, it was one that I thought would be at the very least, solid. And that’s what it was. A solid movie. As much as I make fun of Disney for their business practices, which work for them even though I don’t fully support them, I will forever love Pixar, which might be the mega-corporation’s greatest asset in terms of quality. Over the years, a lot of their films have been well-written, conceptually creative, and of course, beautifully animated. Especially over recent years, even if one of their films was never in my top 5 from them, I would not deny the amount of work that must have been put into those films to make them family-friendly, while also trying to keep not just kids, but adults interested. Even though I was, and I hate to say it, disappointed, with their late 2017 film, “Coco,” it is some of the studio’s finer work in terms of color and animation detail. Even though “Toy Story 4” is probably the worst movie in the series, there is a shot of a cat in that movie that looked like something out of real life. For the record, I saw “Cats” later in the year that “Toy Story 4” came out and none of the cats from “Cats” hold a candle to that digitally animated feline! That’s how much I appreciate Pixar as a studio.

Once again, Pixar does not let me down from an animation standpoint. Everything fits its respective environment, it’s crisp, and the attention to detail is spot on. I saw this film in IMAX and the animated shots of this movie shine on the big screen. I cannot say that it is Pixar’s best technical work, but it is absolutely superb nevertheless. The film is now on Disney+, and I imagine that the film does look pretty good on Disney+, but since movie theaters are starting to reopen, if “Onward” is playing near you, take the opportunity to see it! Because even if the movie is not that great for you story-wise I imagine it will still be fun to look at. It is a film, kind of like recent Pixar entries, that I see holding up for years if you want a tech demo.

As for the screenplay, I think it is at times predictable, but that is also what makes it work in certain moments to deliver a satisfying story. There is conflict in just about every single moment, there’s a good amount of setup and payoff that is done effectively. The playaround and mashup between this fantastical, dungeons and dragons-like sort of environment and our modern lives is undoubtedly entertaining and creative. It makes for some fun scenes and ideas. In a way, it almost reminded me of Disney’s “Zootopia” which came out four years ago. That’s a really good movie by the way! Because that movie took a bunch of talking animals, put them in a world like ours, and while that film more or less was a satire on modern society, it was cool to see a blend of fantasy and reality put together to deliver a fun time.

As for Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, I think both characters are well-written, but when it comes to casting. That is where things begin to become questionable. Now, I will say, Tom Holland as the younger brother is definitely worth keeping. But when it comes to Chris Pratt, I like him as an actor, but I feel like he’s more closer to a father figure than an older brother in this film. That’s just the first impression I got from him. After all in real life, Tom Holland is 23 right now. As for Chris Pratt, he’s 40! Now I know you can get away with a lot more in animation in terms of details, actions, voices, personalities, but hearing Chris Pratt’s voice attached to someone perhaps close to my age is a little bit weird. I’m not saying it’s off-putting, it’s just weird. Both characters are great, serve the movie well, and have likable chemistry, but I just don’t think Chris Pratt was the right choice for the character of Barley Lightfoot. Nothing against him, I respect Pratt as an actor, he’s got decent talent, but I think he was a little bit miscast.

As for Tom Holland, I think his casting was perfect. He plays a teenage boy, and I am willing to bet that due to his marvelous (no pun intended) performance as Peter Parker, that there may be some worries down the road that he may be typecast. Because Holland’s still in his early twenties, and he has tons of charisma that can convince somebody he’s likely able to play an older teen for a while. But nevertheless, when it comes to this animated role, his voice completely fits the character. It’s in this tone that is almost in what I would call a “downer” mood, I just made that up on the spot! I don’t even know what I’d call it! But Holland’s pitch matches his lanky character to a high degree. I will also give props to Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Seinfeld, Veep) and Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, Ma) who also stood out for their fine performances, plus the solid casting on someone else’s part.

Funny thing is, going back to Pixar’s quality, I will admit that I have not checked out all their films yet. I own “The Good Dinosaur,” but I have yet to watch it. I also still need sit through “Monsters University” and “Brave.” When I was at university this semester, I had a screenwriting professor who saw “Onward” and he pointed out that when it comes to Pixar, it’s one of their inferior movies. He also went on to suggest that bad Pixar is better than a lot of movies. He’s got a point. From an animation standpoint, “Onward” is pristine. Story-wise, everything adds up, makes sense from beginning to end. Compared to some other notable animations or family movies that completely rely on immature fart jokes, “Onward” just tries to tell a needed story from beginning to end, which is usually what I go to movies for. And yes, the occasional visual spectacle of “Onward” is a much-desired and satisfying cherry on top of the sundae, but story must come first, which Pixar typically succeeds with, even in cases like this when it is not their finest work. Pixar was supposed to come out with another movie in June, specifically by the name of “Soul,” but that unfortunately has been delayed. Much like “Onward,” “Soul” is an idea that has not been tested out before by the studio. Going into these movies, I am always looking forward to where Pixar takes their characters and its creative concepts. When “Soul” comes out later this year, I will continue to anticipate attention to detail, but at the center, a dang good story.

In the end, “Onward” is a fun ride from start to finish. It is a movie that you can watch with your kids without really feeling the need to tune much of anything out. Pixar’s always had that intention and plan of execution in mind. I remember the first time I saw “Up” in the theater, and years later, my dad and I still remember the movie, and if I’m not mistaken, he’d probably watch it again if it were in front of him. Would I watch “Onward” again? Probably. Maybe not right away, but I can see the effort put into this film and that is something I totally respect. I’m going to give “Onward” a 7/10. Fun fact, a 7/10 is honestly a low score for the Pixar brand given their resume. So even though this is one of, and as weird as it is to say, Pixar’s worst movies, I think it is still worth your time. I’d probably rather watch this again than “Coco,” which, was good! But I expected a lot more from it. Maybe one of the downsides of that film is waiting until 2019 to watch this, whereas I watched “Onward” right away. But I could be sticking my feet into hazardous mud here.

Thanks for reading this review! Once again, it’s finally nice to talk about something that is not specifically about COVID-19! I wish I could do this more often. I don’t know if I’ll be doing a part 8 next week to my Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes series, but I’ll have to find out what I’m doing, what kind of mood I’m in, and so on. But if I were to review a new movie, my next one is likely going to be for “The Way Back” starring Ben Affleck. I will say, given how it has been a couple months since I’ve seen that movie, I wonder how much of a challenge it’ll be for me to talk about the film in detail, but that question shall be answered as we cross that bridge. Maybe I’ll rent the movie if I need to watch it again, but I also don’t to waste $5 or $6 for the sake of wasting $5 or $6. These reviews typically regard my first impressions, and I had little intention on changing anything in regards to how I do my blog, but this pandemic did it for me. It took some control away from how I operate everything I do at Scene Before. Or, maybe I’ll soon do my review for “My Spy” which is about to debut on Prime Video. I am officially one of the few that has ever seen “My Spy” in a theater, which I feel pretty lucky for doing. But as of recently, the film changed plans, and instead of getting STX to release it in theaters, the plan is to get the film on Prime Video as an exclusive. Given how very few, if any, sources in the U.S. have even talked about or reviewed the film at this point, it might be necessary to hold that review off for a little bit longer. It’s a truth that is difficult to handle at this point, but what isn’t difficult to handle during a pandemic? If you want to see more great content from Scene Before, give the blog a follow either through an email or WordPress account! Like this post, share it with your friends, show some appreciation for the Movie Reviewing Moron! Also, instead of scrolling across some clickbait articles with misleading information about COVID-19, check out the Scene Before Facebook page and give it a like! I want to know, did you see “Onward?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your LEAST favorite Pixar movie? Why? Would you still consider it to be “enjoyable?” Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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

mv5bmtewodc3mtc2otheqtjeqwpwz15bbwu4mdiyndq5njcx-_v1_

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE ACADEMY CHANGES RULES FOR THE 93RD ANNUAL OSCARS

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

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

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

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

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

PHYSICAL MEDIA (and other electronic) SALES GO UP

20180614_145324_HDR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AMC THEATRES AND REGAL ENTERTAINMENT GROUP BAN UNIVERSAL FILMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEW HOME VIDEO RELEASES

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

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

Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes – Part 6

mv5bymi5zjk5mdmtntdmmc00mdu5ltkyotktzwe2zgmyogfhnwfkxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynzg0odmwndg40._v1_sx1777_cr001777755_al_

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is now time for part 6 of the Scene Before series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes.” This series describes the recent happenings, or in some cases, a lack of happenings, in the film industry as the world deals with the COVID-19 outbreak.

I’m telling you guys, this is getting annoying! We now have as many entries to this series, as “Sharknado” does within its own series! This is wrong! And honestly, this may be the biggest post yet, because a lot has happened in the entertainment realm! But of course, let’s get to the real world news first! By the way, if you’re asking, none of it has to do with Kim Jung Un. I’m only counting COVID-19 matters.

Today we’ll start in a film capital, California. Last week, Florida’s Duval County was in the news because people spent time at the area’s beaches that were recently reopened. This was referenced a ton on social media, which lead to the trend #FloridaMorons. While I never found #CaliforniaMorons to be trending on Twitter, some people did make tweets with that hashtag inserted. Before we go any further, here’s some highlights related to this subject, even if all of them don’t use the hashtag.

Once again, I did not see #CaliforniaMorons trending, but just to prove that I am not the only person who is noticing this…

I know, right?! I love California! I was just there a month ago! But, holy crap! This weekend, California was hit with warm weather, reaching 80 and 90 degrees. Since it is so warm, a lot of people thought it would be a good time to go to the beach. But of course, because COVID-19 ruins fun, there is a massive chance of spreading the infection. Naturally, much of the response on social media to this matter has been particularly negative. Speaking of beaches getting traffic, San Diego officially reopened their beaches starting Monday April 27th. However, this does come with restrictions. People cannot gather in groups, park, or lie down to get some rays. Question about parking, does Uber count? Drivers need to get by in these times! Plus, Fiesta Island, piers, and boardwalks will be closed. However, you can still swim, you can still fish, you can still surf. This is part of phase 1 rules in regards to San Diego beaches. California Governor Gavin Newsom had this to say about the matter…

“This virus doesn’t go home because it’s a beautiful sunny day around our coasts.”

Although, California is not done with announcing closures, because the Orange County Fair will officially be shut down for this year. This year’s fair was supposed to last for 23 days, on every day of the week except for Mondays and Tuesdays starting July 17th and ending August 16th. The fair, held in Costa Mesa, California, has previously seen over a million visitors in a year.

Two of the celebrities who have been taking up lots of spotlight in this time of a pandemic are Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, both of whom previously been tested positive for COVID-19. However, time has passed, and the two seem to be better then they were a month ago. Although they are back in the news for better reasons. Hanks and Wilson agreed to donate blood and plasma for a possible vaccine. After all, both individuals carry needed antibodies. I will be real, I f*cking hate needles. Even if they are necessary. I feel as if I’m gonna make it out of a burning building should a vaccine be injected into me in order to avoid getting COVID-19. However, if you want to convince an anti-vaxxer to get a vaccine, tell them that Tom Hanks will now be a part of you.

Speaking of Tom Hanks, the man known for such films like “Cast Away” and “Bridge of Spies” defended a child the other day. While he was not able to get physically involved, partially because of physical distancing limitations, he did take action. When Hanks and his wife, Wilson, were diagnosed with coronavirus, an 8-year-old male Australian student by the name of Corona De Vries wrote a letter to the couple saying he loved his own name, but he was often called the coronavirus, making him “sad and angry.” Hanks saw the letter and responded back suggesting “You got a friend in me,” a phrase inspired by “Toy Story,” another film Hanks is famous for.

Say what you want about celebrities being selfish and entitled, even in these times. Tom Hanks suggests otherwise.

Now I’ve talked quite a bit about Donald Trump, who as of recently, just invented the “Noble Prizes!”

By the way, if you are wondering why I am not using Trump’s tweet for this, it no longer exists!

Last week, after Trump suggested that the coronavirus “may not come back at all” for a second time, Dr. Anthony Fauci begs to differ. He suggested the possibility of a second outbreak after having a discussion with Robert Redfield, director of the CDC. This outbreak could hit in the fall, and be more complexing considering how the flu pops up at the end of the year.

Speaking of Trump, time for some bleach drinking! In the ambitious search for a COVID-19 cure, Donald Trump has suggested the possibility of injecting disinfectant in order to rid one’s body of COVID-19. Let me just start off by saying, yes, injecting disinfectant will VERY LIKELY get rid of COVID-19, because you’re about to f*cking go down along with it. Putting bleach in the body is good for a lot of things. Erasing the lyrics of “Baby Shark” from your head! Forgetting whatever the “Cats” movie was! Oh, and trying to become a f*cking ghost! The COVID-19 crisis is not going to be solved through disinfectant going inside you! Besides, everyone’s afraid to go to the supermarket right now! You think everyone’s gonna want to pile on top of each other in the same aisle grabbing Clorox?!

I’m done! I’m really just done! I just want to go to a restaurant and the movies, is that too much to ask?! Wait…

Before we go any further, I’m going to remind everyone that in my post from last week, I documented that Georgia was planning to reopen on April 27th. Well, that was yesterday. But when it comes to movie theaters, those are not reopening. I mentioned this specific before, but I thought I’d bring it up as a refresher. Georgia Theater Company, otherwise known as GTC Movies, is not planning on reopening theaters anytime soon. They intend on waiting until July, when Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” comes out, a movie which we’ll talk about later. Speaking of which, Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, has given theaters the green light to open starting Friday with 25% capacity. Chains like AMC and Cinemark do not plan on opening until the summer. Although in addition to that, a movie theater chain that is absolutely critical to Texas is taking similar actions. Specifically, Alamo Drafthouse. For the record, these theaters are not entirely shuttered, as some are open for takeout and delivery. After all, Alamo Drafthouse is known for its food selection. However, an Alamo Drafthouse spokesperson had this to say in regards to possibly reopening…

“Opening safely is a very complex project that involves countless new procedures and equipment, all of which require extensive training. This is something we cannot and will not do casually or quickly. We will not be opening this weekend. But know this, when we do open, we will be providing the safest possible experience for both our staff and our guests and we can’t wait to see you all again!”

It seems that Alamo going to follow the footsteps of other chains and maybe reopen during mid-summer. That is, should COVID-19 not affect the safety of theater patrons. Besides, not much material is coming out in theaters these days, including a movie I am going to talk about right now.

SCOOB! GOES STRAIGHT TO DIGITAL

One of the family films that was set to come out this year is “Scoob!,” which if you cannot tell, belongs to the “Scooby-Doo” IP. Now “Scooby-Doo” has had a lot of content over the years, but in May 2020 the franchise was about to have its latest theatrically released title. A couple of films within the IP have been presented this way already, and they were written by James Gunn, who of course is now famous for his work on the “Guardians of the Galaxy” films. This film was set to release May 15th, 2020, but Warner Bros. took it off the release calendar in response to the pandemic. Turns out, it will be coming out that day all along, BUT it won’t be in theaters, given how none are practically open right now. Instead, it is going to follow in the footsteps of “Trolls: World Tour,” the animated sequel by DreamWorks, now owned by Comcast, and release onto VOD. Meaning that services including Prime Video, Vudu, FandangoNOW, and Google Play will be getting the film. I’ll be honest, had this pandemic not been going on this year, there’s a solid chance that I might miss out on “Scoob!” if it were in the theater. The only reason why I would even consider seeing it, is because I feel the need to see five animated flicks by the end of the year, because I need enough nominees at the Jackoff Awards that I do in the winter. Although, it definitely does have a market. Families would probably have gone to see it. Generations who grew up with “Scooby-Doo” will recognize the movie and pass the torch to their children. Had it stayed in theaters, it could have made for a fun outing. But of course, it’s not in theaters.

“Trolls: World Tour” was not the worst option of all the movies that could go straight to VOD instead of theaters. A lot of younger kids recognize the film, and since sometimes bringing kids to the movies can be obnoxious, putting it in a home environment is not the worst idea. That is until Amazon’s 48 hour rental period expires and they beg for the parents to spend another $20. “Trolls: World Tour” landed one of the biggest digital debuts ever, and “Scoob!” could do the same, but that is going to depend on how many kids are looking forward to it. I think there was more of an appetite for a “Trolls” sequel among children than there was for a “Scooby-Doo” movie. At the same time however, “Scooby-Doo” has had a long history of being a product for the home environment. I grew up having a piece “Scooby-Doo” media in my collection. A lot of television shows and cartoons have been a part of the “Scooby-Doo” brand. From a production standpoint, this could come off as something that was meant for theaters, but may be remembered as another fine entry to the “Scooby-Doo” home media collection.

THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND GOES STRAIGHT TO DIGITAL

Had South by Southwest happened this year, one of the films that I would have been eager to see was Judd Apatow’s “The King of Staten Island.” The film had an advantage of being a higher-profile title, alongside such movies including “The Lovebirds,” which is now going to Netflix. This film had a bright future on the big screen. Aside from a SXSW debut this March, it was supposed to come out June 19th of this year in theaters. I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that “The King of Staten Island” is getting bumped up a week to June 12th, 2020. So it’ll come out a week earlier. The bad news is, if you were looking forward to seeing Judd Apatow’s latest film in theaters, that’s not happening, and this does not come as a surprise. I have a feeling that part of this not only has to do with analyzing the potential box office results ahead, but maybe it has a bit to do with “Tenet,” which I think is going to be a better example of a film that is going to try to entice people to get back in the theaters (again, more on that later). However, starting June 12th, “The King of Staten Island,” a semi-autobiographical comedy-drama starring Pete Davidson will be available On Demand through various services. This is a release technique similar to the recently mentioned “Scoob!.” The film also features notable names including Marisa Tomei (Spider-Man: Homecoming, My Cousin Vinny), Pamela Adlon (Bob’s Burgers, Better Things), Steve Buscemi (Miracle Workers, Fargo), and Bill Burr (Breaking Bad, Date Night).

While this technique has been done for a film like “Trolls: World Tour,” which again, was fairly successful. A film with this much name power that was supposed to be in theaters has not really gotten this treatment all that much during the pandemic. I see at light at the end of the tunnel, but as of now, “The King of Staten Island” is perhaps an adult version of the “Trolls: World Tour” experiment. I honestly don’t know how this is going to go, as “Trolls: World Tour” likely had several advantages. First, that movie was going for a wider audience including children, families, etc. “The King of Staten Island” is an R rated picture. No kids allowed on this flick! Plus, since this film probably won’t be heading to a platform like Netflix, where you can watch the movie for free as long as you have a monthly subscription, it could suffer from less views because people are cheap and they’d rather watch something free than pay a rental price. “Trolls: World Tour” might as well be a product that can be put on bunches of times just to shut kids up on some occasions. It may be expensive, but the peace and quiet could be worth it. Although, Comcast’s streaming service, Peacock, which is now available for Xfinity customers, is hoping to expand its customer base starting July 15th. Maybe “The King of Staten Island” will end up on the service as soon as possible for everyone to enjoy.

Also, side note, this movie is incorrect. Pete Davidson IS NOT the king of Staten Island. The Impractical Jokers are the kings of Staten Island. That’s a fact. Prove. Me. Wrong. I dare you.

A SURPRISING SUCCESS FOR TROLLS: WORLD TOUR

Thought I was done talking about “Trolls: World Tour?” Well, I’m not! Because according to The Wall Street Journal, it turns out “Trolls: World Tour” has officially made over $100 million in a matter of just a few weeks! This ultimately means that this digital experiment Universal was trying out happened to be relatively successful so far. Again, I think part of this mainly has to do with “Trolls: World Tour” being a family movie that kids will probably be watching over and over again to the point of becoming annoying. However, it’s an interesting success story as movies like this, including “Trolls: World Tour’s” predecessor, happen to gain massive successes from big theatrical runs. I should also point out that the first film currently has made more money at the domestic box office, specifically $153.7 million. But who knows? Maybe that will be broken. Will this mean Universal does more straight-to-digital releases in the future? Honestly, I hope not. While this may have worked for a film like “Trolls: World Tour,” which I think kids were going to watch no matter what, movies in general are often built up best by word of mouth in an attempt to get people out of the house. I just hope for the love of Pete that the ninth “Fast & Furious” DOES NOT get a straight to digital treatment. As for other factors to consider, “Trolls: World Tour” is also one of the only new films to watch right now, and since we can’t leave our house, maybe that has a contributing factor to how willing we are to stay in and pay a rental price on the movie. If we were in normalcy, who knows how this would have played out? But if you ask me, EVERY MOVIE is better in a theater. Mark my words.

SPIDER-DELAY! SPIDER-DELAY! DOES WHATEVER A SPIDER-DELAY DOES!

In part 5, I’ve practically given DC Comics its own section to talk about in terms of delays. This time, I’m going to be doing this for Marvel, both on the sides of Disney and Sony. Starting off with Sony, one of their hit movies, the Academy Award-winning “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” was supposed to get a sequel released on April 8th, 2022. That’s not happening anymore as the sequel has officially been pushed back to October 7th, 2022. It is hard to know what could come of “Spider-Verse 2” from this release date. Maybe it could do what “Venom” did and be able to separate itself in a month full of horror movies, not that “Venom” didn’t have some elements of the genre. For all I know this could work, because the first film won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a Critics’ Choice, and seven Annies. The first film by the way released in December. I feel like the Best Animated Feature category is the least important one when it comes to releasing a film at a certain time, but experience has suggested that when a film releases later in the year, it usually gets some awards buzz. “Spider-Verse 2” could not just be a big hit, but another award winner.

Speaking of “Spider-Man,” the third Tom Holland “Spider-Man” movie was delayed! This third “Spider-Man” film was supposed to be connected to the MCU and release in theaters July 16th, 2021 as part of Marvel’s fourth phase of films. However, the film now sits in the month of November, taking a spot on the fifth day of the month. I am disappointed that I have to wait for the film, but the film opens on my birthday weekend, so I’ll take the wins as they come along. This news may have ties to how filming has not really been happening, and I am willing to bet that the delay for Sony’s “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” now coming out on June 25th, 2021, plays a bit into this. After all, that too is technically a “Spider-Man” property. Having these two movies very close to each other could potentially be weird. Speaking of Marvel…

THOUGHT SPIDEY WAS ALONE? THE MARVEL RELEASE CHANGES SHALL ASSEMBLE!

One of the most complex questions right now in regards to the pandemic is the wonder of what is going to happen to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was not that long ago that “Black Widow” was delayed from this May to November, taking “Eternals'” spot on the release calendar. This resulted in pushback upon pushback upon pushback. Guess what? “Spider-Man” is not the only Marvel character affected this week. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” which was supposed to release the same weekend as “Spider-Man 3,” is now getting pushed back to March 25th, 2022. Interestingly however, “Thor: Love and Thunder,” which was supposed to come out February 18th, 2022 as of recent times, is getting bumped up a week and is now coming out February 11th, 2022. Why is that? I don’t know for sure, but maybe to get couples to go see it on Valentine’s Day. With a title like “Love and Thunder,” that’s probably the reason. And now, for everything else!

THE DELAYS NEVER END!

Going back to Sony, one of the interesting projects that they have held onto for some time is a movie based on the popular video game franchise “Uncharted,” which, appropriately, is a Playstation exclusive. Even though Tom Holland’s “Spider-Man 3” is getting pushed back to November 2021, “Uncharted,” which he is set star in, is getting bumped up. Finally! Some positive news about this movie! I have never played the video games, even though I have heard solid things about them, but as for the movie, it just goes to show that even in development, video game movies are cursed. However, “Uncharted,” which was supposed to release October 16th, 2021, is moving up to the summer of that year! As of now, it is taking the spot where “Spider-Man 3” once was! Hopefully, this optimistic bump means that production will be happening as soon as possible, considering how filming was shut down due to COVID-19 on day one. Who knows what’ll happen? This movie is an enigma! As for other projects under Sony’s control, “Fatherhood,” a new comedy starring Kevin Hart is being pushed back from October 23rd, 2020 to April 2nd, 2021. Speaking of Kevin Hart, another movie where he’ll appear, “Man From Toronto,” once set for a September 17th, 2021 release, is now coming out November 20th, 2021. And if you thought “Spider-Verse 2” was going to be the only affected animated title, you’re wrong. “Connected,” the upcoming film produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, was delayed a month. The film, which was previously expected September 18th, 2020, will now be coming out October 23rd, 2020. “Vivo,” featuring songs from Lin-Manuel Miranda of “Hamilton” fame, was supposed to release April 26, 2021, but now is getting pushed back to June 4, 2021. Can’t believe this is a thing, “Hotel Transylvania 4!” I guess this is also known as, “Adam Sandler needs an excuse be in a movie that won’t go straight to Netflix.” By the way, “Uncut Gems” is brilliant and you should watch it if you haven’t done so already. That is even if it does try to convince an audience that the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut has a sportsbook. Anyway, “Hotel Transylvania 4” is yet another movie that is not going down the calendar, but up! Originally set for a December 22nd, 2021 release, the animated sequel will now take the August 6th, 2021 spot. This could be a strategic move as it could give families something to do over the summer, while not having to compete with Universal’s “Sing 2,” which is set to release the same day “Hotel Transylvania 4” was once supposed to come out.

Also getting delayed, Tom Cruise is gonna have to wait a little bit longer before he attempts to kill himself once more, or more specifically, twice more. The seventh and eighth installments to the “Mission: Impossible” franchise, which will be directed by Christopher McQuarrie, also known for helming the fifth and sixth installments in the franchise, both have previous release dates set to self-destruct. The seventh “Mission: Impossible” installment was supposed to come out July 23rd, 2021, once again standing out as a summer staple. As of now, the film is coming out November 19th, 2021, just before Thanksgiving. As for the eighth installment, once planned to release August 5th, 2022, that is now set for a release date that I am personally digging, November 4th, 2022. Why am I stoked? Because it’s my birthday. From what I could imagine however, these two movies may have quite a bit to do with each other and could probably go well together in back to back viewings. Kind of similar to putting “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame” together. There is always a chance that “Mission: Impossible 7” could suck more than anything that has sucked before, thus lowering my hype levels for the eighth installment. However, “Mission: Impossible” is a peculiar series that honestly has gotten better with each installment, so anything is possible.

NEW HOME RELEASES

I usually save this for last, but this time, my next post has more of a climactic vibe, so this is going to be my penultimate section. When it comes to digital releases, perhaps one of the most notable titles coming out this week is “The Photograph.” This debuted in theaters last February, stars LaKeith Stanfield (Sorry To Bother You, Knives Out) alongside Chelsea Peretti and features intertwining love stories. This seems appropriate, because, again, this movie came out in February. Although for Netflix, one movie that just came out is “Extraction,” starring Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Ghostbusters) as a black market mercenary. The film is not one that I plan to review, however it is also one that I am hearing solid things about. Granted, the story is nothing to write home about, but if this film were to be solely judged based on action, I’m hearing it slaps. And this honestly does not surprise me as it is written by Anthony and Joe Russo and directed by Sam Hargrave, a stunt coordinator behind “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “Atomic Blonde,” and “Avengers: Endgame.” As for whether or not this is the next “John Wick” is something that you will have to decide for yourself. Also, if you have any plans to tune into Amazon, the SXSW lineup is now available, which was made in response to the cancellation of the ambitious annual event held in Austin, TX. If you have Disney+, your inner “Star Wars” nerd is going to be happy, because not only are you soon going to be getting more of “The Clone Wars,” you’re not only getting a documentary on “The Mandalorian,” but “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” will be available on Disney+ starting May 4th, known by the fan community as “Star Wars Day.” From then on, the complete “Skywalker Saga” will be available on the service. Speaking of action-packed films…

TENET IS LOCKED FOR JULY 17TH

This is going to be the main topic of this entire post. For those of you who don’t know, Christopher Nolan is coming out with his latest blockbuster title, “Tenet,” which had a trailer release this past winter. At the same time, a short preview attached to IMAX screenings of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” was shown for a limited time. This film, among all others, HAS NOT been delayed. And if you have talked to me at all recently, it is a film that is almost my most anticipated of the year. It’s just one spot under “Dune” if you are all curious. “Tenet” is a film that has literally been designed for the movie theater experience. It was shot using film stock through IMAX and 70mm cameras, it’s got a labyrinth of a concept similar to Nolan’s other films, and the cast looks promising. Some attached names include John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Kenneth Branagh, and of course, the one and only Michael Caine. I have been worried for the longest time that this film would get gravitated from this summer, taking away yet another big movie. It’s happened with “Top Gun: Maverick,” it’s happened with “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” it’s also happened with “Morbius.” However, “Tenet” happens to be one of the last men standing in this battle against the invisible enemy. That’s also what it will continue to be going forward, because IndieWire suggests that “Tenet” will be ready to open July 17th of THIS YEAR unless theaters are closed. Is this wishful thinking? It’s possible, but this article gives me hope, and I will state, this is not the first time I am hearing this statement. However, just to hear this be reinforced a month later, is extremely fulfilling. One of my big worries when it comes to “Tenet” is the possibility of it being a lone wolf in the movie theater, there is not much of a reason for the film to play in seemingly dead space. But at the same time, Christopher Nolan has constantly marketed “Tenet” as an event film. It’s an expensive blockbuster clearly meant for the summer. It’s got a similar vibe to Nolan’s own “Inception.” I will also point out that should quarantine end around the country starting July, Christopher Nolan can utilize a huge marketing push at the end of the game, maybe reminding people how exciting it is to go see a movie in a theater. Nolan is all about that atmosphere. Nolan is not a streaming guy. In fact, when this all started in the US, Nolan wrote an opinion article in The Washington Post where he called movie theaters “a vital part of American social life.” Before hearing what IndieWire suggests in their article, I had a rather bleak thought process as to what theaters would look like only being able to show “Tenet.” A few screens would be open, while every other one is some classic title that maybe not everybody is gonna pay $12 to see when they can they rent it on Amazon. Turns out, IndieWire sees a much more optimistic point of view. IndieWire suggests the following:

“Even if theaters start opening in June (Georgia’s aggressive early plan could permit openings in early May, but NATO has stated it prefers a nationwide, concerted rollout), few will attend without new films. Going before other big films would allow “Tenet” to play on virtually every screen in the country.”

Think about it. How many films have been delayed? From smaller titles that nobody has even heard of to the big blockbusters like those that Marvel cranks out every few months, despite their differences, they have something in common. They got delayed. A few got delayed not too far up calendar while others got kicked into another year, but nevertheless, they got delayed. “Tenet,” as the last man standing, could literally possess every auditorium in every theater, at least in the United States. This is something that during NORMAL times, I would be scared of a movie doing, but now, it makes sense and I am flat out encouraging it, because something needs to light the spark. Plus, should theaters reduce capacity for safety concerns, “Tenet” has themselves covered. They have more theaters and auditoriums that could supply everybody. If you have an AMC near you that has a bunch of standard screens, an IMAX screen, a Dolby Cinema screen all in one place, there’s a solid chance that they’ll use one or two, maybe another auditorium for standard screenings of a blockbuster. In addition, the IMAX or Dolby, depending on the deal they’ve made regarding the film, will also feature said blockbuster. If you have a decent-sized theater, for all I know, “Tenet” could take every screening possible. Can you imagine a 25 screen theater with “Tenet” on virtually every single one? It’s going to be the State of the Union Address of movies. There’s no alternate program you can resort to, it’s “Tenet” or bust! And if this were a film that could easily fit in for a streaming environment, had a small budget, or lacked some of name recognition, I’d probably say maybe this theater project is overblown and a bit beyond one’s reach. However, the film was designed for the theatrical experience, is a blockbuster, and is helmed by the man who I personally think is my favorite director of all time. For all I know, he could get another Oscar nomination for this film depending on how this year pans out.

The slogan of “Tenet” by the way, and hopefully I am not scaring anybody, is “time runs out.” Let’s just hope that time will not run out on this film and our chances of seeing it as early as possible, in as lively of an environment as possible. In a season of movies getting delayed like flights for United Airlines, “Tenet” is possibly going to be the last man standing. The fight against the invisible enemy shall continue, and we shall not stop until we can successfully get millions of butts sitting in cinema seats. Warner Bros., Christopher Nolan, the entire cast and crew of “Tenet,” to say I am rooting for you is an understatement. For all I know, if “Tenet” successfully enters theaters in July, I will be there opening night for IMAX 70mm. This virus is ruining Hollywood, and now we need to give it the Hollywood ending it absolutely deserves.

Screenshot (64)

Thanks for reading the sixth part of the ongoing series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes!” Look, I love doing Scene Before, but if this is what I’ll be talking about for the rest of my life, it’s going to get tiresome. I will point out that I left the house for the first time all month on the 25th. There’s that. I just want to go see a movie. If movie theaters collectively do not survive this crisis, I think I might almost be done with movies. One of the reasons why I love movies is because they are experiences, and these experiences are best had in a distraction-free environment either by myself, a few other people, or even a full house. Are the tickets and food sometimes overpriced? Sure, but moviegoing is a staple of the economy and I would flat out scream up to sky if they disappeared. PLEASE… Stay home as much as you can. Do *your* part if you want a better chance of me giving my thoughts on movies for you to possibly see. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! While it may not cure the coronavirus, if you want a better use of your time than drinking bleach, check out the Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, did I miss anything related to COVID-19 and film? What big piece of news stands out to you? Or, since it relates to this post, what do you think are the odds of “Tenet” getting delayed? At this point, it’s a competitive and strategic game of chess. Who knows at this point? Leave your thoughts down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!