Licorice Pizza (2021): Paul Thomas Anderson Delivers a Pizza Crap

“Licorice Pizza” is directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread, The Master) and stars Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman, Sean Penn (Mystic River, Milk), Tom Waits (The Old Man & the Gun, The Dead Don’t Die), Bradley Cooper (Guardians of the Galaxy, A Star is Born), and Benny Safdie (Uncut Gems, Good Time). This film follows the connection between Alana Kane and Gary Valentine, not to be confused with the guy who plays Danny on “King of Queens,” as they spend time together in the San Fernando Valley in 1973.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – FEBRUARY 05: Director Paul Thomas Anderson attends the 90th Annual Academy Awards Nominee Luncheon at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 5, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Paul Thomas Anderson is a name I have not followed as much as other directors, and it is something I feel guilty of doing in regards to my film watching journey. Not only because he is an acclaimed name, but he also went to Emerson College, which I was probably going to attend had I gotten past the waitlist. So he has a bit of history in Boston, which as someone who lives near the Massachusetts state capital, is something I take a bit too seriously. I’ve seen “The Master” towards the end of the 2010s, but that’s all I have watched from him. I remember it being magnificently shot, but the story is not something that stuck with me to this day. I still need to watch “There Will Be Blood,” I own copies of “Inherent Vice” and “Phantom Thread” and still need to watch those. I still haven’t seen “Boogie Nights!” There are quite a few directors I have gotten around to over the years in terms of catching up on their filmography, but Paul Thomas Anderson fails to make the list.

When I saw the trailer for “Licorice Pizza,” I thought it sort of nailed the nostalgic aspect. The film takes place in the 1970s, and not only does it get a thumbs up for the production design that reminds me of walking into my grandparents’ house, but some of the music is okay as well. I think this film from a presentation point of view, checks a lot of boxes. It looks like it is from its focal decade, the acting, despite the leads having no evidential experience, is top-notch. For all I know, it could be on Anderson’s part. If I have learned anything from James Gunn over the years, he can take an actor with less experience like John Cena and make them pop. The best thing I can say about “Licorice Pizza” is that Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman give good performances regardless of the material that’s given to them.

I’m not using that last sentence lightly, because “Licorice Pizza” is probably the most uncomfortable I have felt watching a movie in some time. Okay, well, maybe not as uncomfortable as “Music,” that s*it was downright personal. I live in the age of social media and in my teens I would talk to people far from my age group and nothing weird happened. Although I believe it is commonly agreed upon that adults should not be dating teens that are ten years apart in age. Gary in this film is 15 years old and Alana is 25.

Do you see the problem?

Now, if Alana was 18, that would be one thing, because that’s also technically an adult, but she is also old enough to still be in high school, just like Gary. TWENTY-FIVE?! The film is kind of a back and forth sort of thing in terms of the romance, where Gary sometimes claims Alana’s his girlfriend, but then the two go back to calling each other “business partners” or something else, but I honestly could not justify myself liking the character of Gary. Because when I think of these sorts of relationships, maybe I’m thinking the adult is in the wrong of dating someone that is significantly younger than them. But with Gary, he’s a literal pervert, and he’s not afraid to hide it. And he’s not a cool pervert like Ron Burgundy who has some personality, granted the movie he’s in respectively has a different vibe, but every time I look at Gary and he says some other line, I want to put some tape over his mouth.

Look, I’m a guy, and it is scientifically evident that guys love anything that has to do with sex. We are revolting creatures. But oh my god. Gary is a downright creep who I occasionally wanted to punch in the face throughout this film’s poorly paced runtime. Seriously, it felt like it was 15 or 30 minutes longer than it actually was. If it’s not about getting to see Alana’s boobs, it’s about making money. Downright power. That’s what we’re dealing with here. Now, I’ve seen “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Jordan Belfort in that film has a semi-similar personality, but he’s also proven that he can be chill, he can be cool. Granted Belfort’s not a teenager, that’s one big difference. Even so, I never got that positive vibe from Gary. I felt like he was trying too hard to be cool when in reality, he felt disgusting.

Now, and I cannot believe I have to say this on a blogging platform that my family reads… I don’t think Paul Thomas Anderson is interested in showing his junk to young girls. I mean, if the genders were reversed, where Alana sees a 25 year old Gary’s junk, who knows? I am comfortable with a storyline about sexual exploration, it’s not something I wouldn’t expect out of some coming of age tales, but this was poorly executed in the worst way possible. I would not want Gary as my friend, and I would want out of any matters involving him if he ever tried to get into Alana’s pants.

One of the most important things about a romance film is that the two leads are likable. I don’t even like their characters by themselves all that much, and even less so together. Because despite what I’ve been saying about Gary coming off as a creep, movies have shown how characters can develop and change. Compared to some other films that I’ve seen, including another recent 1970s nostalgia fest, “The Tender Bar,” I could not really catch onto much character development, especially from Gary. I think Alana’s character has some moments where I could feel her emotion, her stress, the want to escape from reality and other people, but it’s barely enough to make this movie the slightest bit watchable.

If I had any other positives to give “Licorice Pizza,” it is that Bradley Cooper shines as Jon Peters. He honestly came off as a bit of a drugged-up Hugh Hefner type. I think his presence in the film allows the costume design to show its power. Cooper was well directed by Anderson and I would not have minded seeing more of him.

In the end, “Licorice Pizza” is a film that I was looking forward to, but as soon as they stated the age difference, that was an immediate turnoff. This harkens back to the saying that first impressions matter. And if you think this is my only problem with the movie, I’ll mention once again that this movie could have been fifteen to thirty minutes shorter. The movie occasionally dragged, it felt boring. Gary Valentine is by no means a likable character. In fact, he’s probably the character that I hate the most of any project I’ve watched in the past 12 months or so. If you think “West Side Story” was worth skipping because of the Ansel Elgort controversy, I will not stop you from doing that. But based on the fictional elements presented in “Licorice Pizza,” this is a film that part of me wishes I could have skipped. It’s barely any fun, it’s creepy, and I wish the script was good enough to match the amazing talents of some of the actors on screen. I’ll probably go back and watch some of Anderson’s work like “Phantom Thread,” but I hope his next project, whenever that comes out, won’t be as off-putting as this. If you want a 1970s nostalgia fest, just go watch “The Tender Bar.” It’s on Prime Video, and worth your time. I’m going to give “Licorice Pizza” a 4/10.

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

Thanks for reading this review! This week I’m going to be watching the all new Japanese animated film, “Belle.” I have heard nothing but good things about this flick, and I am quite curious to see how it is. I will have a review coming soon, and if you want to see more content like this, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Licorice Pizza?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a film, one specifically that IS NOT in the horror genre, that genuinely makes you uncomfortable? For me, I’d say that would be “Music,” which I literally talked about in my worst of the year list a couple weeks ago! Let me know your pick down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

No Time to Die (2021): It’s a Good Time to Watch Daniel Craig’s Bond Swan Song

“No Time to Die,” a film that was literally scheduled to come out a year and a half ago mind you, so there really was still some time to die between then and now, is directed by Cary Joji Fukanaga (Maniac, Beasts of No Nation) and stars Daniel Craig (Knives Out, Logan Lucky) in his fifth and final portrayal of James Bond. Joining him this time around is Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody, Night at the Museum), Léa Seydoux (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Midnight in Paris), Lashana Lynch (Still Star-Crossed, Captain Marvel), Ben Whishaw (A Very English Scandal, Fargo), Naomie Harris (Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest) Jeffrey Wright (What If…?, Westworld), Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained), and Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, The LEGO Batman Movie). This film is once again, Daniel Craig’s last outing as James Bond, the suave 007 spy who this time around, is retired, he’s done with his life as a spy, but when an old colleague asks for help, Bond takes on the job and finds himself down a path toward a villain who will unleash hell to the world with weapons of mass destruction.

Bond. James Bond. These are words that probably come to everyone’s mind when they think of the iconic 007 intellectual property. This is the last time we can associate them with Daniel Craig, who has not only done a great job at portraying the spy since “Casino Royale,” but as of recently, has also been the symbol of letting you know when the work week is over.

Exquisite.

I will admit, as excited as I was to see Daniel Craig give a goodbye to the character we’ve come to know for so many years, I was also a little nervous. The front of my head, all excited and ready to go, was doing cartwheels. Meanwhile, the back of my head, all nervous and timid, was shivering. Part of me wondered if Daniel Craig genuinely wanted to make a fifth Bond title or if he was just showing up for the paycheck. Thankfully, the trailers for this film put those worries away as each one is as action packed as the next. Each time this film got pushed back, it made me slightly more eager to see it to witness whether the thing I was bound to see was actually worth the wait. The film had more that intrigued me on the surface aside from Daniel Craig. Ana de Armas, one of the most objectively attractive and talented actresses working in Hollywood right now, plays a role in the film as well, and this is not even her first outing with Daniel Craig as they both played key roles in 2019’s “Knives Out,” which is one of the most fun films I have watched in recent years. The film was also shot in IMAX 70mm, which kind of didn’t matter in the end as it didn’t play anywhere in the format in which it was shot, but I saw the film in IMAX and those scenes are well put together, even if audiences will not usually be able to fully realize them. This is just speculation and pregame, so how was the film?

Everyone is going to have their personal rankings of the Daniel Craig Bond films. If it were me, I would put “No Time To Die” somewhere in the middle, which is not a bad thing, because based on the decent track record these films have, “No Time To Die” is a fun film to watch and just so happens to be a lovely tribute to the Daniel Craig era by the time it is over. For the most part, the film does not necessarily feel like a finale through the first act, I’d say you get more of that feel through the second and third act. I don’t mind that. Even though the film ends in one of the most climactic ways it could possibly go out, the feeling of this being the end never came off as forced.

We’ll skip Daniel Craig’s performance for a second, we’ll get to it. But going back to Ana De Armas, I think of all the film’s supporting characters, she was the most fun to watch. I may say this with a predisposed bias as I love the actress. I have been excited to see almost anything she’s in since “Blade Runner 2049,” but her character may be the most fun in the movie. I say that because she is genuinely HAVING THE MOST FUN in the movie. There is a scene that takes place in Cuba where she and Bond meet, they get dressed, get ready, and she’s just spewing out the fact, smilingly, that she’s had “three weeks training.” She’s just excited to see whatever comes up in her path. I would love to in some way, see more of this character. Or, based on what I just saw in this film, I would love to see Ana de Armas lead her own Bond-esque spy film. De Armas has one of my favorite performances in the film and her chemistry with Daniel Craig is untouchable.

And this also leads me with my one deterrent with Daniel Craig in this film. As much fun as I imagine Craig could be having on set, his character never feels like he’s having fun anywhere he goes, even for a drink. I dunno. I get it, he just retired and wants to relax, but it feels weird to say that I’m having fun when the main character is not. I get it. He’s out killing left and right, interrogating people, and after a while that can get boring, but I feel like the way Bond was written in this film made him feel less “fun” then he did in other iterations. I get that characters develop and change, and that’s good for story purposes, but I feel that one constant Bond has experienced is that he was genuinely happy to do what he does. It may just be a personal thing. If anything, the best way I can describe Bond in this film, is that he has a lot of the traces that the character had in every film from “Casino Royale” to “Spectre.” He’s badass, he’s kind of stern, and he’ll let out his emotions only when he means to. These are traits I keep in mind every time when I think of this character. But the way Bond is written in this film sort of reminds me of the way Luke Skywalker was written in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which currently stands as one of my least favorite “Star Wars” films to date. The reason why I bring that up is because Luke Skywalker has a broken personality to him to the point where he almost refuses to associate himself with what made him who he is. If you break down the two characters, Bond is obviously more in tune with his profession than Luke, but still.

One of the big lines of press this movie got before it came out was the fact that there was a brand new 007. Of course, Craig’s character left the service, so it’s only fitting that he got replaced. The replacement, Lashana Lynch’s character of Nomi. I don’t mind Lashana Lynch as an actress. I thought she did an okay job in “Captain Marvel” as much as I think it is one of the inferior MCU installments. Lynch brings her character to life here and there are some fun scenes with her. But there is one part of the film that the more I think about it, the more I dislike it. It’s this recurring gag between Craig and Lynch where the two are throwing these little jabs at each other. On the surface, it’s kind of fun to watch, but as it keeps going, it only feels forced. It sort of rubbed me the wrong way.

As for Rami Malek, who I personally awarded a Jackoff during my first ceremony, he sort of plays the typical Bond villain that has a distinguished look to him. He’s got a suit. He’s got this attitude that you would probably only find in the Bond franchise. The way he’s written in some ways feels cliché, but Malek is convincing enough to play the part to perfection. I like the way he’s handled toward the end of the film. The conflict between him, Bond, and other people whose names I won’t mention, added up to make an entertaining, intense, fast-paced finale. When it comes to the finales in the Daniel Craig Bond saga, this might be my favorite. It’s explosive, it’s brutal, and the choices the characters have to make feel like they have some real stakes.

I will admit, I have rarely exposed myself to anything Bond aside from Daniel Craig, so I have nothing much else to compare this movie to. Although I would love to have a big marathon one day where I catch up on all the other flicks in the franchise. But I would say that collectively, the Daniel Craig Bond saga was a success. I had fun watching this conclusion to said saga. I am glad they ended it where they did. If you like the Craig era of James Bond movies, this may be a fun watch for you. I don’t know if you will put it in the same caliber as some of the other installments, but you will probably have a good time with it. I can say I did.

In the end, “No Time To Die” was worth the fifty thousand year wait we had to sit through to see it. I am glad we got a proper goodbye to the Daniel Craig character. The film looks beautiful. The villain, while cliché in certain ways, is effective. This film blends fun and emotion together to positive results, and I would probably watch it again one day. What’s next in Daniel Craig’s career? Well aside from “Knives Out 2,” which I hope Netflix gives a wide theatrical release (PLEASE. That first one was one of the greatest theatrical outings of my life.), we’ll have to see what the future holds. Either way, his Bond run is complete, and it ended in a satisfying way. I’m going to give “No Time to Die” a 7/10.

“No Time to Die” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! Just a reminder that this Halloween, Sunday, October 31st, I will be debuting my review for “Ghostbusters,” the classic 1984 film featuring creepy libraries, ghost traps, proton packs, and giant marshmallows. What could be better? Well, let me just remind you, this is all part of my upcoming mini review series titled “Ghostbusters: Before Afterlife,” where I not only review the first “Ghostbusters,” but I will also be talking about “Ghostbusters II” on November 7th. I cannot wait to talk about both films, and not long after, I will be sharing my thoughts on the all new “Ghostbusters” installment, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which hits theaters the weekend before Thanksgiving! Which if you’re not from the United States, that’s where turkeys make a plan of attack against humanity to dominate the world.

Also, couple more housekeeping updates… My next review, as far as new releases go, is going to be for “Dune,” my most anticipated film of the year. I have no idea what day that will drop, but I guarantee you will see it by the end of next week. After that, I also have reviews coming for “The French Dispatch” and “Last Night in Soho.” 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 “No Time to Die?” What did you think about it? Or, who do you think should be the next James Bond? In no particular order, I would to throw these names into the ring: Henry Cavill, Tom Hiddleston, and Orlando Bloom. Feel free to use em. Or don’t. Your call. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Snake Eyes (2021): A G.I. Joe Spinoff with Dice, But No Spice

“Snake Eyes” is directed by Robert Schwentke (RED, R.I.P.D.) and stars Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians, Last Christmas), Andrew Koji (Warrior, Fast & Furious 6), Úrsula Corberó (The Secret Life of Pets, The Emoji Movie), Samara Weaving (Ready or Not, Bill & Ted Face the Music), and Iwa Uwais (The Raid, Stuber). This film is a spinoff set in the “G.I. Joe” franchise and follows the origin story of Snake Eyes, whose father was murdered during his youth. Since that tragic day, the character seeks to avenge his father as he grows into a full-blown martial arts fighter.

G.I. Joe: The Revenge of Cobra (TV Mini Series 1984) - IMDb

No lie here, I have never watched anything related to “G.I. Joe,” nor have I grown up with the franchise. I have never played with the toys, never bought any of the merch. This was my first “G.I. Joe” anything… Ever. I saw the marketing for this film and quite frankly it was never my in my top block of movies to see this summer. If anything, it may have been closer to somewhere in the middle. The trailers never looked awful, but I cannot say they looked great either. If anything I felt rather indifferent while watching them. That may be partially due to my lack of commitment to the “G.I. Joe” franchise in addition to just simply looking forward to other movies like “The Suicide Squad” more. The trailer that I usually saw over the past few weeks at the theater just felt like it lacked a flavor that could individualize this film from others. It felt kind of cookie cutter and surface level. But if a movie like “Ralph Breaks the Internet” has taught me anything, it is that even movies with not so great trailers can turn out to be watchable.

Unfortunately, this is not the case with “Snake Eyes” as I walked out of the film thinking it was one of the biggest bores of the year.

One of the movies I had the most fun with this year is the new edition of “Mortal Kombat.” It was definitely worth the theater experience and was a fun blend of fantasy, action, and gore. But the real draw for the movie was not that it was constructed perfectly, it was that the film was a product of entertainment before anything else. That film was, unsurprisingly, done by a writing/directing combo who had little experience. The action scenes, while fun, were also cut very quickly. It was just too much going on at once, therefore everything was not presented in maybe the most effective manner. For the case of “Snake Eyes,” the directing/writing team of this film unfortunately have been working for a long time. In fact, the director of “Snake Eyes,” Robert Schwentke, does not have the best track record according to critics in recent years. “R.I.P.D.,” which released in the summer of 2013, has a 12% on Rotten Tomatoes critically, and the audience score is not great either with a 37% total. He also directed the last two “Divergent” movies. I will admit, of the movies that came out in that franchise, I would have to say the first one he did, “Insurgent” is probably my favorite and one of the more visually stunning films of 2015. But I cannot say the same for its sequel, “Allegiant,” which was one of the most horribly paced action films of the last six years. The visuals in that film at times looked like something out of a Wii game!

While “Snake Eyes,” thankfully, is no “Allegiant,” it is also not good. In fact, I am having trouble remembering certain parts of it. But one thing that I do remember is that the main character, gosh the writers did try to make him likable, but it felt weird trying to root for him as he was technically working for the bad guys. Plus, by the end of the movie, there is another character who I think is more of a “hero” than he is.

I will say one thing about the character of Snake Eyes, I do think the guy who plays him is charming. Snake Eyes in this film is played by Henry Golding, who I have not seen a lot of on screen, but I have seen him in a couple things. I do think that after seeing him in “Snake Eyes,” he would be a great leading man in an original Bond-like spy film. By that I mean a spy film where Golding is the one who is front and center on the poster, he carries the movie. I think Golding has that potential. I just wish “Snake Eyes” as a film did the actor, along with others involved, a tad more justice.

This film, at times, just looks plain atrocious. No, seriously, if you want to talk about terribly crafted shots in cinema, look no further. Just watch a scene in the middle featuring Samara Weaving as Scarlet, and no, I’m not exactly talking about the picture above. To call that scene an eyesore would be an understatement. I mean, sorry for the digression, Samara Weaving being an eyesore would be a lie. First off, she is good-looking, on top of being an incredibly talented actress. Just watch “Ready or Not.” Although I do think her performance in this film was not one she’d want on her resume. I don’t think Weaving truly had a chance to showcase the best of her acting abilities.

One of the complaints I have about the action in “Snake Eyes” is that it dives into that trend that was made popular by films like those in the “Bourne” franchise, shaky cam to be specific. You know that thing where they move the camera so rapidly it’s almost like the camera is simulating the beginning of the end of the world? That happens in “Snake Eyes,” and at the worst possible times. Seriously! Sticking with what I said about shaky cam, there is literally a scene in the movie where Scarlet walks down a hall and the camera is moving all over the place! It’s so incomprehensible and deranged! Why does someone walking down a hall have to appear as action packed as Snake Eyes trying to slash people to death? Tell me!

This movie, obviously like all others, are made for the purpose of profit. With the COVID-19 pandemic going on, the idea of profit is questionable. Either way, profit for a film like “Snake Eyes” could have meant more than just a success or a sequel. For me, it could have gotten me more into the “G.I. Joe” franchise. I’m not saying I will never watch another “G.I. Joe” movie, but “Snake Eyes” did not make me want a sequel, and I was just too uninterested to say that I will go back and dive deeper into this franchise’s source material or other spinoffs. I think “Snake Eyes” obviously would have done better without a pandemic, but I think even without one, the movie would still struggle to justify franchise expansion. My first thought when I saw the trailer for “Snake Eyes,” regardless of how well put together the trailer was, happened to be “Okay, whatever.” My first thought after seeing the movie “Snake Eyes” was, “Ehhh….” Yep, I don’t think I want to see a sequel at this point.

In the end, “Snake Eyes” is not an eye-roller, but it’s also not a high roller. Again, this is my first dive into the “G.I. Joe” franchise, so as a newbie, maybe I chose a poor place to start. At the same time though, first impressions matter. It’s like trying to get someone into “The Simpsons.” Because that series has evolved so much and has continued to remain a part of our popular culture that as newer pieces of it releases, the differences between the new and old content begin to become noticeable. Do we go with glitchy animation and classic humor? Do we go with hi-def episodes and the mocking of modern trends? Do we go with “The Simpsons Movie?” There’s a lot to pick from! But all things considered, “Snake Eyes” was not my cup of joe. I’m going to give “Snake Eyes” a 4/10.

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

Thanks for reading this review! I also want to let everyone know that my next review is going to be for the all new Disney theme park ride-based film, “Jungle Cruise.” I just watched the movie last Thursday and I will have my thoughts hopefully shared by the end of the week. Speaking of the end of the week, I want to let everyone know that I will be seeing “The Suicide Squad” this Saturday and I will have my review for it up sometime next week!

Staying on the topic of next week, stay tuned for Monday, August 9th, because I will be starting the all new review series, “Revenge of the Nerds: Nerds in Review.” This is a series that I personally felt has been long overdue given my attachment to these movies, or more notably the first one, in addition to “King of the Nerds,” the reality competition series inspired by the film franchise given how it is hosted by two of the actors who appear in the movies, Robert Carradine and Curtis Armstrong. I cannot wait to share this series with you as we continue celebrating 5 years of Scene Before!

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 “Snake Eyes?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite spinoff? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Wrath of Man (2021): Jason Statham Protects Money and His Life from Getting Snatched

“Wrath of Man” is directed by Guy Ritchie (Snatch, The Gentlemen) and stars Jason Statham (Furious 7, Safe), Holt McCallany (Alien 3, Mindhunter), Jeffrey Donovan (J. Edgar, LBJ), Josh Hartnett (Penny Dreadful, 40 Days and 40 Nights), Chris Reilly (The Last Post, Game of Thrones), Laz Alonso (Battle of the Year, The Boys), Raúl Castillo (Looking, We the Animals), DeObia Oparei (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Dumbo), Eddie Marsan (V For Vendetta, Ray Donovan), and Scott Eastwood (Suicide Squad, Snowden) in a film about a man who recently joined a cash truck company and is responsible for moving lots of money around Los Angeles on a frequent basis. After an unexpected incident, H wants revenge over his son’s death.

“Wrath of Man” is a movie that I nearly slept on. But with advertising for it picking up in recent times, I decided to go see it Mother’s Day weekend as it was one of the bigger films out at the time. To be quite frank, I REALLY did not know what to expect. I thought this film would be okay, but I have recently been reflecting back to a time in recent memory when my dad and I went to see “Godzilla vs. Kong.” The trailer for “Wrath of Man” came up and he said that he would probably wait until this comes out on television to watch it. I somewhat agreed as it seemed like a somewhat standard action film starring Jason Statham, but at the same time, I feel like as one who has devoted himself to the industry, I had to see this for myself as it did have Guy Ritchie’s name on it. At the same time though, even though I have not seen every Guy Ritchie film, the ones that I have seen have not specifically impressed me. “Snatch” is wonderfully paced, but I honestly don’t even remember it. “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” is nice to look at, but also forgettable. “The Gentlemen” was too fast and too boring. It’s amazing how many people complained about “Tenet” being the hardest 2020 movie to understand when everything is flying in your face and down your throat lickety split in “The Gentlemen.” God, that movie almost gives me a headache the more I think about it. But was “Wrath of Man” worth watching? Is it something that is worth waiting for?

Cinematically, it is marvelous. The cinematography is some of the best of the year so far, and the opening sequence of the film put me right in. But other than that, it is your basic action flick starring Jason Statham. I am not the biggest fan of Guy Ritchie films, but much like how I have noticed distinctive styles from directors like Quentin Tarantino, Zack Snyder, and Wes Anderson, I feel like one of the highlights of Guy Ritchie films like “Snatch,” specifically a flair that feels like something only Guy Ritchie could provide, is missing. This really just feels like a run of the mill action film that almost crosses the threshold for cable TV background noise.

In fact, just for context, it has been nearly a month since I went out to watch this film. I remember some of it, but the more I reflect on it, the more disposable it feels. I do like some things about “Wrath of Man.” The concept of the film, while definitely not the highlight, is intriguing. Because the main character works for a company that deals with carrying around significant amounts of money, and because money is something that we as human beings somehow equate to happiness, even though there are times where we shouldn’t, it packs a bit of stakes into the story from the getgo. The other thing I like in this film is the music, and I do not mean the score. I have nothing bad to say about it, but nothing really good either. It gets the job done. What I really like about the film is there is this one song that plays at a point, specifically Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash, and ever since I heard it not only in the trailers for this film, but in the actual movie, I have the tune from it nearly ingrained in my mind. It’s almost like second nature to me at times. This sort of reminds me of another film, specifically “Thor: Ragnarok,” which despite how I think it is overrated, I will say one of the positives is that the film managed to successfully ingrain Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” into my head from one moment to another.

When I say that this is a basic action flick starring Jason Statham, I am not lying. There are elements that encapsulate that notion, but I am not saying it is a bad movie, and I think part of it is because of how Jason Statham handles his performance. Statham is, based on what I have seen from him, not exactly the most Shakespearean of actors working today, but he has this range that makes him one of the more attractive individuals for action movies. He his this gritty tone from him, one he has also shown in movies like those in the “Fast & Furious” franchise, that he also brings into “Wrath of Man.” Is he arguably playing himself? That is difficult to say, but I think for Statham, I think this comparison is kind of like Kevin Hart. I say so because I love Kevin Hart, even though he plays some incarnation of himself in almost every movie he is in. At the same time though, in the case of Hart, it is not a bad thing, because Hart has a great personality and he does his best to sell that with each go. So if Statham continues down this road where he keeps playing an incarnation of himself, I would be worried for his range, but if he keeps entertaining audiences, I will not be completely disappointed.

Without spoilers, the other main thing I really like from “Wrath of Man” is the ending. This film has a way of splitting different chapters or acts, and I think they did a really good job at setting the tone for the last chapter with the name. Now I had no idea what any of it would mean or what context the name would provide, but when I saw it play out on screen, it felt rather satisfying. I think it was a well written climax overall and I would say that Guy Ritchie did an excellent job at helming it. While it is not my favorite climax in film history, it is definitely one of the better ones I have seen in recent memory.

In the end, “Wrath of Man” is pretty entertaining, but it does come with some basics that make the story and walkthrough of the film feel somewhat familiar. In fact, parts of it kind of reminded me of the recent film titled “Honest Thief” starring Liam Neeson. Although, I will admit, the way Jason Statham carries the film makes it all worthwhile. It almost feels like there are select scenes written with him specifically in mind, which is a good thing if you ask me. Would I watch “Wrath of Man” again? Not instantaneously, but I would not shy away from it either. If I do not buy the Blu-ray, I would at least give it a quick glimpse if it shows up on a cable network. For all I know, it may be worth your time as well. I’m going to give “Wrath of Man” a respectable 7/10.

Thanks for reading this review! As you may have noticed, I have been outrageously busy creating a full week of “Star Wars” content through my 7 Days of Star Wars event. This has been a pleasure to work on, even though there may have been moments where I wanted to pull out my hair because of how painstaking it may have been to meet certain deadlines, but if you want to check out those reviews, the links are listed below. I hope you enjoy the reviews as much as I enjoyed creating them.

THE PHANTOM MENACE: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/23/star-wars-episode-i-the-phantom-menace-1999-worst-for-chronologically-first/

ATTACK OF THE CLONES: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/24/star-wars-episode-ii-attack-of-the-clones-2002-a-revisit-to-my-first-star-wars-movie/

REVENGE OF THE SITH: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/25/star-wars-episode-iii-revenge-of-the-sith-2005-my-favorite-star-wars-prequel-ever/

STAR WARS/A NEW HOPE: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/26/star-wars-1977-an-ageless-adventure/

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/27/the-empire-strikes-back-1980-i-love-you/

RETURN OF THE JEDI: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/28/return-of-the-jedi-1983-i-see-the-good/

THE FORCE AWAKENS: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/29/star-wars-the-force-awakens-2015-the-biggest-blast-in-the-galaxy/

ROGUE ONE: https://flicknerd.com/2016/12/16/rogue-one-a-star-wars-story-a-movie-built-on-hope/

THE LAST JEDI: https://flicknerd.com/2017/12/15/star-wars-episode-viii-the-last-jedi-2017-another-year-another-star-wars-movie/

SOLO: https://flicknerd.com/2018/05/25/solo-a-star-wars-story-2018-somehow-this-star-wars-movie-exists/

THE RISE OF SKYWALKER: https://flicknerd.com/2019/12/20/star-wars-the-rise-of-skywalker-2019-the-final-word-in-the-story/

But speaking of reviews, I have plenty of reviews for new movies coming soon including “Profile,” “Army of the Dead,” “A Quiet Place Part II,” and I will also be seeing “In the Heights” tomorrow so I will have my thoughts on that too. I do not have any set days, but my next review should be up by Saturday at the latest, so stay tuned. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account, and don’t forget to check out the Facebook page so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Wrath of Man?” What did you think about it? Or, of the four collaborations between Guy Ritchie and Jason Statham, which is your favorite? I’ve only seen this one and “Snatch,” so… I don’t know if I should participate. Either way, if you do want to participate, leave your thoughts in the comments section! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020): The Most Triumphant Review to Unite the World

The year is 2020, COVID-19 is the talk of the town. Political talk never ever ends. Toilet paper is a precious commodity. Hand sanitizer is the trendiest item for the past few months. The Internet is a war zone. Not with weapons, but with words, name-calling, and reminders that masks go over the nose. One man must unite the world, and that man is…

The Movie Reviewing Moron.

“Bill & Ted Face the Music” is directed by Dean Parisot (RED 2, Galaxy Quest) and stars Alex Winter (Grand Piano, Freaked), Keanu Reeves (John Wick, The Matrix), Kristen Schaal (Bob’s Burgers, My Spy), Samara Weaving (Ready or Not, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Brigette Lundy-Paine (Atypical, The Glass Castle), Anthony Carrigan (Gotham, Barry), Erinn Hayes (Kevin Can Wait, Childrens Hospital), Jayma Mays (Paul Blart: Mall Cop, American Made), Holland Taylor (The Practice, Two and a Half Men), Kid Cudi (How to Make It in America, Need for Speed), William Sadler (Iron Man 3, The Shawshank Redemption), and Jillian Bell (Bless the Harts, Workaholics).

This film is the third installment to the “Bill & Ted” franchise, and the first one that has come out in almost thirty years. Years after their excellent adventure and bogus journey, Bill & Ted are happily married to their princess wives. They are also loving fathers to their daughters. Suddenly, the duo is alerted of a world-ending event in the future, and they must write a song that will unite everyone, as they were destined to.

“Bill & Ted Face the Music” is one of those films that I became more excited to watch as the year went on. Part of it is because the 2020 calendar happens to be losing more films by the day. Films like “Black Widow,” “No Time to Die,” “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” “Dune,” and so on. But “Bill & Ted Face the Music” was one of the early films to release when studios and exhibtors were collaborating to get moviegoing back on track this summer. Having a duel release in theaters and on demand, the film received mostly positive reviews.

But I didn’t watch it at first.

There are a few reasons why. Movies like “Unhinged,” “The New Mutants,” and “Tenet” were more important for me to tackle at the time. And more importantly, I still haven’t seen the first two “Bill & Ted” installments. Thankfully, now that I have, I can declare that both are wonderfully quirky, hilarious, and both times I ended up wanting Bill & Ted to be my best bros. Yeah, they are idiots, they do not really have brains, but they have enough charisma to make them some of the most lovable idiots on the face of the earth. I also have to say, I wish more people talked like the main duo did in real life. I would like to just have the occasional moment where I say something and do an air guitar solo, even if the moment does not call for it.

At the same time though, this is a sequel that is many years in the making. It has been a long while since Bill & Ted had their time, and it was hard for me to wonder if seeing these two grown men acting like their younger selves would work. This is especially true when I look at an actor like Keanu Reeves, who has evolved quite a bit since his portrayals of Ted. He has gone from playing hyperactive, maybe somewhat quirk-filled characters like Ted and Johnny Utah to the true badass grit that I managed to get out of John Wick.

If you want to know the truth, “Bill & Ted Face the Music” is one of the most triumphant film experiences of the year. When it comes to pure fun, “Bill & Ted” has consistently been top notch. “Bill & Ted” is a franchise that has a universe that I quite honestly cannot take all that seriously. But makes the movies all the more enjoyable.

I know it is 2020, and partying is not allowed. But each time Bill & Ted happened to be on screen, it made me want to… PARTY ON DUDES! There is a sense of infectious joy to be had every time they do something. Bill & Ted could do something as simple as take a piss at a urinal while standing next to each other, and I would still be having fun with them. They could sit on a couch eating chips flipping channels on a television trying find something to watch, and I would still be having fun with them. They could wait in line at the DMV, sitting right next to some jackoff talking too loud on the phone, and I would still be having fun with them. Literally the best part of Bill & Ted as characters is the fact that they even exist to begin with. Now watch, they make a “Bill & Ted 4,” ruin everything about these two and perhaps I suddenly change my mind. But for now, everything is fine. I rest my case.

One of the biggest concerns I had for “Bill & Ted Face the Music” is whether Alex Winter’s and Keanu Reeves’s previous schtick would hold up even those the duo has aged. As somewhat suggested already, Bill & Ted’s schtick may be the absolute best part of this movie. Unless they are doing a full on remake where they erase everything about this current trilogy, I hope they never recast Winter and Reeves. They are the perfect fit for their characters, even if they are middle aged men acting like teenagers.

I also really like the daughters, played wonderfully by Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine. But before I continue with the positives I do have to mention one problem. As it has been taught throughout our history, it takes two to reproduce. A man and a woman. Evidence suggests that these two daughters have a mother that is still alive. Now, for all I know the mothers are not role models or incredibly abusive off-screen. But it is a little hard to believe that the daughters do not really take after their mothers, even in a minimal sense. They’re basically copies of Bill & Ted except that they’re women. They call each other dude, act cartoony, and obsess over music. Again, “Bill & Ted” is a universe that I do not take seriously 100% of the time, but this almost leans into a territory where it breaks the suspense of disbelief bar. Despite that, I will say their characters are well cast, funny, and their story in the film was fun to watch. I would not mind seeing their own movie if possible. Maybe they could do a “Bill & Ted” adult animated TV show where these two have a new adventure every day. It could be like “Rick & Morty” but with greater use of the word “whoa.”

I will also bring up one more thing about the movie that kind of surprised me. Remember “Transformers: Dark of the Moon?” Remember “Kingsman: The Secret Service?” When those movies end, they basically conclude the big climactic event that defines all that came before it, but they don’t really do anything else from there. “Bill & Ted Face the Music” does something similar. This movie has a big climax, but they just have something completely abrupt happen, and the movie just ends. It did not make me angry, but it made the end feel so sudden, it’s like celebrating your birthday, having your cake, then 25 other people cut all the slices for themselves before you can get one piece of it and eat it.

I want to talk about death. Death sucks. Life is definitely better. Stick to life.

With that being said, I want to talk about Death. He’s spectacular! If there were any moment in “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey” that happened to be a highlight, it would have to be when the duo interacts with Death. Most notably, when they play Battleship. It takes an ordinary scenario, but makes it the most hilarious thing on earth. I’m glad they got William Sadler to come back, because he embraces the character and once again, allows him to shine. I will say that I will remember his material in “Bogus Journey” more than “Face the Music,” but it was a pleasure watching Death in his return to the franchise. His story was fascinating and Sadler gives the role his all. There’s not much more to say.

In the end, “Bill & Ted Face the Music” is a spark of fun in a dumpster fire of a year. I wanted to see this movie when it came out, and I unfortunately avoided doing so at every opportunity. I can definitely say that “Bill & Ted Face the Music” is worth the wait. Not only is it worth my wait of avoiding it in theaters, avoiding it on PVOD, and holding out for physical media, but I can declare that for those who want a solid “Bill & Ted” sequel all these years later, you will most likely be pleased. I am going to give “Bill & Ted Face the Music” an 8/10.

“Bill & Ted Face the Music” is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. You can also find it on premium streaming services such as Google Play, VUDU, and Prime Video for a rental fee or a purchase price.

Thanks for reading this review! We are slowly approaching Thanksgiving weekend, and I have a few movie reviews lined up including “The Croods: A New Age,” which hits theaters this week. “Superintelligence,” which hits HBO Max this week. And if I have time, I’ll be sure to talk about the 2020 edition of Disney’s “Mulan,” which I just bought on 4K Blu-ray. I did not watch it when it first came out partially because I did not have Disney+ and I was much more focused on “Tenet.” I just watched the original Disney animation, so I am eager to see how the live-action version compares to its counterpart. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Bill & Ted Face the Music?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite “Bill & Ted” movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Fighting with My Family (2019): 2019’s First Truly Lovable Movie Experience

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“Fighting with My Family” is directed by Stephen Merchant (Hello Ladies, Logan) and stars Florence Pugh (Lady MacBeth, The Commuter), Leda Headey (Game of Thrones, 300), Nick Frost (Paul, Into the Badlands), Jack Lowden (Mary Queen of Scots, Dunkirk), Vince Vaughn (Wedding Crashers, The Internship), and Dwayne Johnson (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Rampage). This film is based on the true story of a family who live and breathe wrestling like it is an alternative to oxygen. Two kids who are very passionate about the sport get a chance to try out for the WWE, and this is based on truth so I wouldn’t call this a spoiler, but it is also essentially the origin story of Paige, who becomes the famous wrestler fans have come to know in recent years.

Right off the bat, I will just tell you all something. Wrestling is not my jam. If you know me in real life, this wouldn’t surprise you, sports in general are not usually my goto activity. I say that regardless of whether I am watching a sport or playing a sport. In fact, the reason why I went to see this movie has nothing to do with wrestling. Aside from getting passes to a free screening, I was excited for this movie because it was being helmed by the likable and talented Stephen Merchant. He has this flow when it comes to comedy that ultimately just works. I have seen a lot of his interviews on talk shows or other scenarios over the years and the guy is just freaking funny! Maybe his British accent has something to do with it, but still. Plus, he was the voice of Wheatley in “Portal 2,” which might just be my favorite video game of all time. Granted he was in “Tooth Fairy,” which if you think about it, it’s sad that I still remember that movie, but the guy is talented. And let me just say, he does a hell of a job with this movie! Merchant actually wrote and directed the film, but to add onto what I just said, he actually has a role in it too. Granted, the role isn’t enormous, he plays some random dude named Hugh, but it works. In fact, that is an understatement, because Hugh might just be the best part of the movie!

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Part of me is wondering if Merchant (left) wanted to do this role simply because out of everything he’s written, he thought it was the most humorous part, but nevertheless. Hugh is comedy gold. And when it comes to a lot of comedy that I am exposed to, most of what I consider to be “good” comedy is actually through written lines. Physical comedy usually takes a backseat for me nowadays. Not everyone can be “The Three Stooges.” When it comes to Hugh, it’s all non-verbal comedy. And f*cking brilliant non-verbal comedy when all is said and done! Also, one of the standout traits that I personally gathered from Hugh is not only that he acts funny, but he also looks funny. I’ve seen images of Stephen Merchant (in fact I just provided one), and the way he transforms himself into this character just takes him from a lanky British dude to a guy whose house your kid might not bother visiting on Halloween night. And this was actually a surprise to me because I saw marketing for the film and I see Stephen Merchant in it for a brief second, but it almost looks like he’s doing OK comedy. This was better than I anticipated!

One of the best parts of “Fighting with My Family” is that you don’t have to like wrestling to watch it. Because ultimately it is not about wrestling, it’s about family, it’s about striving to accomplish your goals, and the complication of social interaction. There was a part of the film where I compared it to a reality competition, especially when you consider there’s a scene where chicks hate each other over word choice. In fact, this comes partially as a surprise considering how the opening titles state that this is from WWE Studios. When was the last time I saw that for a motion picture release like this? Admittedly, there are times when this kind of feels as if it commercializes WWE, especially considering the cameos from professional wrestlers that are present in this film including John Cena, the Big Show, and Sheamus. Plus there is one scene where the brother is saying that he is imagining 20,000 people cheering him on as he stands in an empty stadium that has graphics moving around. It’s almost like “The LEGO Movie,” which may technically be commercial but it tries to sneak things in along the way.

Now as far as Paige goes, I do like her portrayal in this film. I like how they made Paige out to be a shy, timid, and goth looking girl in front of these stereotypical chicks who show off their bodies the whole time. It sort of reminds me of that Planet Fitness commercial where the girls keep talking about how “hot” everything is and there’s also another girl who finds the whole situation awkward. Another thing I like about her character, without diving too deep into spoilers, is the message that people can sometimes pressure you into being somebody just for shiggles or for the sake of fitting in. Maybe you ultimately don’t want to be that person, but the way things go in life, you are automatically triggered into thinking you need to change your ways. I thought that was very well done.

Also, I will say, I saw this going in, but I went to see this film with my mother, and she was somewhat looking forward to seeing Dwayne Johnson appear on screen. Without spoiling anything, he’s only in a couple of scenes. He’s not the star of this film. But for the scenes he’s in, it makes me wonder how he is in real life. I’ve always pictured The Rock to be a nice guy, and this movie makes a convincing case that maybe he is supportive of his fans. This is a guy who gets in a car accident with someone who happens to be a fan, keeps his cool, and shakes it all off like it is no big deal. By the way, that’s a true story, there is a link below the paragraph for further proof.

ARTICLE

Before I give the final verdict, I’ll talk for a sec about Paige’s brother, Zak. One of the complaints that my mother gave toward the film is Zak’s appearance, saying he didn’t look like a wrestler. Having seen him in the movie, I would agree. If this were fiction, there’s a high chance that I’d automatically be on her side, but this is based on true events, so I decided to close my mouth on that subject for a period of time. With that in mind, I decided to do some brief research on Zak, and I found a couple of images where his body looks similar to his actor counterpart. The body thing is something I can actually avoid calling a mistake, but what is a mistake is Zak’s characterization. While his motivations seemed to be clear, I kind of pictured a guy who would get mad for no reason. Granted, the reasoning for his anger seemed understandable, but there are not many characters I would prefer to remember just for mainly being angry.

In the end, “Fighting with My Family” was actually pretty fun. It’s intense, humorous, and kind of heartwarming. Again, I am not a fan of wrestling, and I don’t follow organizations like the WWE, but I enjoyed this movie. “Fighting with My Family” shows what happens when you pit people against each other in a heated, dramatic competition, and also what happens when you aspire to be the very best you can be. I’m going to give “Fighting with My Family” a 7/10. Thanks for reading this review! I’ve got some more content coming soon, including another review which will be in the works soon, specifically for the new DreamWorks animation, “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.” Also, I just watched the Academy Awards this previous Sunday, so stay tuned for future content related to that. Some of you might wonder why I didn’t do a prediction post this year like I’ve done in the past couple of years, and the reason is simple. Life is short, and college cares more about me killing my brain cells with endless work as opposed to balancing my life with brief periods of relaxation. I would have loved to have done a prediction post, in fact, I would have loved to have posted this review earlier, but the fact is, my brain was fried. There were points where I almost couldn’t help but crawl into the fetal position. So that’s the story of my life for the last few days, how about you tell me yours? Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Fighting with My Family?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite movie where a celebrity plays him or herself? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

A Star is Born (2018): Lady Gaga Can Act?!

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“A Star is Born” is directed by Bradley Cooper (Guardians of the Galaxy, Joy), who also stars in the film as well, alongside Lady Gaga (Machete Kills, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For) as two singers who have both of their individual problems in life. Bradley Cooper plays a country vocalist who has a drinking problem and Lady Gaga plays someone who writes her own songs but lacks the courage to sing those songs. Both meet each other, fall in love, and go on a journey together as they sing.

This was a movie I was looking forward to this year. Bradley Cooper is not a bad actor, and judging by the idea of this movie alone, it seemed like a good idea on paper to get a singer (Lady Gaga) to act in a role that primarily involves singing. Also, one thing that really interested me was the fact that Bradley Cooper, someone who is usually known for acting, actually decided to write and direct this film. Granted, this just shows his range in the film industry, especially when you begin to consider how great this film truly is. But you know what? I gotta get something out of the way, it has problems, so just to scratch those off the board, I’m gonna tackle those first.

One problem that I imagine is going to get some controversy is the songs in this movie. This may be just me, but the main song in the movie, “Maybe It’s Time,” just didn’t work for me. I don’t know, the fact that the same lyrics are used more than a single time in a row just felt slightly off-putting. Granted, it might almost make me look like a hypocrite because there’s a song that has nothing to do with this movie, known by the name “Roadhouse Blues,” which has a similar tactic. Then again, I find this movie’s song to be a bit more serious, and I found the tactic in “Roadhouse Blues” perhaps a bit funnier. Speaking of songs, I don’t feel like there’s going to be many songs from this movie that I’m either going to remember or want to listen to again. And that’s kind of sad because this movie revolves around music and singing. I imagine the studio wanted to sell an album based off this movie. Chances are they just lost a customer! It’s not like I walked out of “La La Land,” where I not only remembered songs from the movie, but I had some of urge inside of me that made me want to listen to certain songs again.

I’ll say once again, this film is directed by Bradley Cooper. This is actually his directorial debut and I gotta say, this is a pretty good debut. Not as good as it could have been. I will say there could have been some improvements. But as far as lighting goes, I really like the bar scene. The lighting of the bar really stood out to me. I don’t know why, but it just felt like something you’d probably encounter in a big city. Cinematography wise, some of the shots sometimes immersed you into concerts, maybe even toward’s Bradley Cooper’s typical everyday life. As decent as the directing may have been, especially for a debut, it doesn’t hold a candle to the fantastic acting. Bradley Cooper’s performance as Jack was believable and had some emotion beneath it. You can see this broken singer who is still chugging along with his life. Also, for those who don’t know, the singing in the movie is Bradley Cooper’s actual voice. It kind of reminded me of Tim McGraw if he happened to combine with Rick Deckard from “Blade Runner.”

The best performance in the movie however, hands down, is Lady Gaga. While this movie is mainly about Bradley Cooper’s character’s life, I gotta say, character and acting-wise, Lady Gaga dominates as the character of Ally. Casting-wise, I gotta say, it may almost feel cheap on paper getting a singer to do an acting gig. Why not give it to an actor? But when you consider the fact that Lady Gaga is playing a singer, you know why she was chosen for her specific role. And it’s not like Lady Gaga is new to the world of acting. Just look at her IMDb! Seriously though, great casting! Although my one problem with the character, despite Lady Gaga’s killer performance, is the nose story. I seriously have to ask, is this based on true events? I can understand people being insecure about their looks. But not only am I not aware of people being insecure of how their nose appears, but when it comes to Lady Gaga, she didn’t make that story believable. I sort of said this before, and I’ll say it again This is like getting Mila Kunis, who was then recently nominated at the Teen Choice Awards in the Female Hottie category, earned the #2 spot on AskMen’s Top 99 Women list, and earned Esquire’s Sexiest Woman Alive in 2012 to play a stay at home mom who wears “typical mom clothes.” Maybe this statement is technically a little invalid because I’m a guy, and it seems to be a gender-oriented stereotype that guys don’t usually care about their own looks as much as women do, but I usually don’t see people complain about their nose, or say someone’s nose looks ugly. That idea is almost cheesy at this point. But in reality, despite the weird writing, Lady Gaga hit it home with her performance and made the movie.

Another highlight performance comes from Sam Elliot (Road House, Mission: Impossible), who plays the brother of the main character. This character goes by the name of Bobby and he seems to know that something is up with his brother. He’s trying to get the message across to his brother that he shouldn’t be drinking as much as he is. Clearly the brother is not listening. His performance is maybe a little more quiet than some of the others in the movie, but in the end that’s what makes it great.

Also, for those who are curious to know, there is a dog that plays a role in the movie and believe it or not, that dog actually happens to be Bradley Cooper’s own pet. When I first heard about this, I thought that little factoid was rather interesting. I went to see this movie with my mother and sister, they thought the dog was cute, but I’ll be honest with you, and if Bradley Cooper is reading this, I love your work, I apologize, it looks like a canine Fozzie Bear, and not in a good way. This does not affect the score, and my opinion of the dog has nothing really to do with how I feel about the movie, but I just thought I’d let you know about the little factoid if you were curious.

In the end, “A Star Is Born” is awesome, and if you are planning on seeing this, don’t wait for streaming, don’t wait for the DVD, don’t wait for On Demand, go see it in the theater. I actually went to see this movie in Dolby Cinema at AMC, there were literally parts where I felt like I was in a concert. I have my gripes with the movie, but this movie certainly had enough to admire to the point where I consider it one of the better flicks I’ve seen this year. As far as Bradley Cooper as a director goes, I’d like to see more of his work, and given how he also has a screenplay credit for this movie, I’d like to see more from him in that field as well. I’m going to give “A Star is Born” an 8/10. Thanks for reading this review! Tomorrow I’m going out to see the new movie directed by Damien Chazelle, “First Man,” which is based on the events of the Apollo 11 mission. Be on the lookout for that. Sticking on that topic, I’m not sure, but depending on my work load this week and how I feel, I’m going to do an extra post related to “First Man” aside from the review. I’m not gonna give any details as to what it is, but please stay tuned. Speaking of things of to be on the lookout for, I am also going to have my analysis of my time at New York Comic Con, so stay tuned for that. Be sure to follow Scene Before with your WordPress account or email so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “A Star is Born?” What did you think about it? Or, just out of curiosity, not that it’s going to happen, but do you see Bradley Cooper potentially being able to direct “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?” Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968): A Symphony in the Stars *SPOILERS*

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! In just a few weeks, “First Man” will be hitting theaters, and in preparation for that, I’m going to be doing three reviews for movies that have some sort of relation to space. I will be posting these reviews weekly, so on the day this review is posted, expect another review in this series around the same time the week after. For this first review, we will be talking about “2001: A Space Odyssey,” which I feel is totally appropriate given how this year is the film’s 50th anniversary that way I have more than one excuse to do a post on it. Also, I must warn you that while this is technically a review of the movie, and my tradition is to leak as little important information as I can. This review is filled to the brim with spoilers. So if you have not seen “2001: A Space Odyssey,” proceed this review with caution. Without further ado, let’s open the pod bay doors!

Duuuuuuun. Daaaaaaan. Daaaaaaaawwn.

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DUN DUN!

“2001: A F*cking Space Odyssey” is directed by Stanley Kubrick (Spartacus, Dr. Strangelove) and stars Keir Dullea (David & Lisa, The Good Sheppard), Gary Lockwood (Star Trek, The Six Million Dollar Man), William Sylvester (Gorgo, The Six Million Dollar Man) among some other people you may or may not have heard of. This film takes place, as the title suggests, in a depiction of 2001 before it even happened. Although that’s not necessarily all there is to it, because the movie starts in prehistoric times. This is why if I’m asked to explain the plot of “2001” to you, I’d almost say that the plot doesn’t necessarily stick in a particular direction. Keep in mind, I don’t mean that in a negative way. It’s not like one of the “Transformers” movies where there’s either a very basic plot or a nonsensical plot to the point where it’s almost a compliment to even call those films “a movie with a plot.” Gosh I love this movie.

“2001” when it comes to ratings and reviews is one of the more interesting films I’ve encountered. You know how movies like “Fight Club” got terrible reviews by critics and yet we still manage to talk about them today? “2001” is “Fight Club” before “Fight Club.” Maybe not entirely because from what I hear about “Fight Club” when it first came out is how it got mostly bad reviews, “2001” on the other hand was simply polarizing. In fact, when it comes to 1968 releases, “2001” actually managed to become the biggest film at the box office of the year. But now fifty years later, not only are we still talking about it, most of the reception it still gets today is most likely to be positive. On IMDb, it has the #90 spot on its top 250 list. Many screenings are still being shown of this movie in theaters from one occasion to the next. In fact this year alone, MANY screenings have been going on in what this film was shot and projected in, 70mm film. I actually went to two of those screenings in two different theaters, and I might as well describe both of them as epic. There was even a week where “2001” happened to be presented in IMAX, which I also took advantage of. As far as this year goes, “Avengers: Infinity War” may be the biggest reason to see a movie in a theater according to many people. I personally beg to differ, “2001” might be THE movie you must see in a theater before you die no matter what year we’re talking about. There are so many sequences, which I’ll eventually dive into, that make a “2001” experience in a theater worth every penny. And that’s not to say that watching it at home is terrible. I own the movie on Blu-ray and it looks fantastic on my TV. “2001” to this day is one of the few movies I even watched with an overture, and when I hear it, it’s so freaking special. There was actually a point where it was on a plane, at the ready, just for me to watch on the itty-bitty TV they have. I avoided such a thing because they didn’t include the overture, and this film, while I would CERTAINLY watch it anywhere, was made to be seen on the biggest screen possible.

If I were to talk about this movie in detail, I’d like to divide it into three sections.

You’ve got the first section titled “The Dawn of Man,” which is the entirety of the ape scenes. The second section is in space where we see Dr. Heywood Floyd’s journey. And we have the ultimate section where we meet Dave, Frank, and HAL. This movie could probably work if the ten or so minutes of “The Dawn of Man” had been erased, but it is all the better for having it in there. I have a friend who watched this movie alongside their mother, who kept asking questions about what this movie was trying to do or be as she observed everything that was going on.

If you are very unfamiliar with this movie, there might be a chance that you might not be able to fully grasp the point of the apes in the beginning. Although with due time, it could enhance the movie’s entire message. Towards the end of this sequence, we see them create tools. We see a fight go down among the apes as they some take turns slashing with a bone. The bone is defined, as this movie pretty much suggests, as mankind’s earliest tool. There’s a point where we see the bone thrown up in the air, it goes back down, and we just cut to…

SPACE.

In fact, the first shot we get in space is of a satellite, which some people have said is a nuclear missile. If that’s the case, this movie is better than it needs to be. That means we go from mankind’s most primitive weapon to mankind’s most advanced weapon. We go from a bone that can take out a monkey, to a big fat hunk of junk that suggests that its user is NOT MONKEYING AROUND.

Let me just say though, all of the space scenes are BEAUTIFUL. This movie was made in 1968, and it looks so much better in terms of effects than a vast amount of content coming out today. You disagree? Well tell that to Stanley Kubrick who won an Oscar for the effects work done on this film!

Let’s talk about some of the characters in “2001,” starting with Dr. Heywood Floyd. His story is mostly covered through the movie’s second act. He has to maintain a cover story. He has to go after an artifact. Overall, this character indicates something that not only this movie’s characters indicate, but the movie itself indicates. Sometimes nothing can turn into something. This movie is on the slower side of the spectrum, but it’s all the better for it because you can inevitably focus on what is happening and not provide more information that we as an audience don’t really need.

Speaking of which, you want to know how much this movie can associate with the word “nothing?” The first line of spoken dialogue aside from whatever gibberish the apes are saying is given somewhere around the fifteen to twenty minute mark. The last line of the movie is given about twenty minutes or so before the end credits roll.

Two of the third act’s characters include Dave Bowman and Frank Poole. They are onboard the ship where HAL 9000 resides. These two don’t seem to have any sort of close relationship to each other that the movie dives into, but they are put on the mission together, which works for the plot. The duo happens to be heading to Jupiter on a ship by the name of Discovery One. As we meet Dave and Frank, we get an insight as to what their mission is along with their relationship with HAL.

Speaking of that, this is where we meet HAL. Our first lines of dialogue spoken by all of these individuals were all given during an interview. Dave and Frank aren’t necessarily complaining about anything, and HAL is the same way. His words of dialogue are especially worth holding onto because it is what we all want to be. And I say this regardless of whether we are human or technology. HAL goes on saying that he is “incapable of error” and he has a stable relationship with Frank and Dave. This is where we find out HAL was programmed to have emotional capabilities.

Soon thereafter, we see HAL wish Frank a happy birthday. More specifically, after he plays a message where Frank’s parents do the same. This shows how HAL has complete control over the entire ship and he has tons of responsibility. We also see a scene that if you didn’t realize how much this movie was about where we may have been heading with technology, this was hopefully your wake up call. We see Frank and HAL playing each other in a game of chess. HAL outsmarts Frank.

After we see that, we take a look at a scene where HAL alerts Dave of a part of the ship that was going to fail in 72 hours. What happens in terms of removing that part, forget it, we’re gonna jump over it. But an important thing that HAL says afterwards, is that this may be “attributable to human error.” HAL even affirms that incidents like these have always been due to human error and that the computer is never a problem related to this.

It’s scenes like these that make me think about where technology will go in the future, what it will do in the future, how we will stand with or against it in the future. And that is f*cking important, because this movie came out FIFTY YEARS AGO. Whoever these people who watched it back when this came out happen to be, they probably thought something along these lines, and now “their future” might have already arrived! I’m still in my teen years and yet this movie makes me wonder what technology is ultimately going to do! We are pretty much at the point where if you don’t have technology (for the most part) you’re basically a caveman. This movie makes me wonder when/if technology will take over to the point we as a human race are no more. Everyone is now attached to their smartphones, which like HAL, seems to be controlling all of our daily lives. We use it to make calls, receive messages, and depending on who you are, even buy newer phones!

When HAL kills Frank, the way that scene plays out is BRILLIANT. It shows you Frank flying in space, even hitting a pod, which has no sound whatsoever, which is how space works so I appreciate the accuracy. Most big deaths in movies have some sort of sound attached to it. Perhaps an explosion, some dramatic music, maybe even a headbutt. This death is different and honestly stands out from many other deaths we see in movies today. Not only does HAL kill Frank, but he kills some other individuals on the ship who happened to be in cryogenic sleep mode. None of them were awake for the whole movie, I didn’t know much about them, and yet those deaths are just tragic.

Of course, we can’t go without mentioning “Open the pod bay doors, HAL.”

After the recently mentioned deaths, not to mention Dave’s attempt to rescue Frank, Dave asks HAL to open the pod bay doors so he can reenter the ship. HAL denies Dave’s request, to which Dave asks what the problem happens to be. HAL says Dave knows the problem as well as HAL does. The computer knows what’s up. Dave says he’s gonna go in the emergency airlock, which leads to a lack of communication with HAL from then on. Once Dave is inside, we get one of my favorite rants that just scream “Oh s*it, I f*cked up, I need to defend myself,” in the history of film.

“Just what do you think you’re doing, Dave?”

“Dave, I really think I’m entitled an answer to that question.”

“I know everything hasn’t been quite right with me. But I can assure you now, very confidently, that it’s going to be alright again.”

“I feel much better now. I really do.”

“Look, Dave. I can see you’re really upset about this. I honestly think that you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill and talk things over.”

Throughout this ramble, Dave isn’t even talking, he’s just going into HAL’s control room. Ready to end this tragedy. He begins disabling HAL, and we see HAL feeling very afraid, which eventually leads to things he must have said in the past, or things maybe he’s programmed to say once turned on. The whole death is really just something that I feel might be hard to replicate in a future film.

An interesting thing I found on “2001’s” Wikipedia page is that critic and poet Dan Schneider recalled HAL’s death being sad. And in all honesty, I can see why. This movie gives you time to see HAL go. The death is a process to go through, and I believe as I watched this scene certain times, I may have felt HAL’s pain. HAL, without a doubt, was an ungrateful son of a bitch as this movie went on. But when he starts defending himself through words, I think that one of two things are absolutely possible. He either is genuinely sorry for his actions, after all he has been programmed with genuine emotions. Or maybe he is trying to defend himself, lie, and attempt to please Dave in a time such as this. Given how HAL has been programmed with genuine emotions, it makes me wonder, does HAL have the ability to know when he’s lying? Does he know how to lie at all?

HAL comes off as fairly certain that the HAL 9000 series is a perfect piece of machinery. Was that a total lie? Did he lie about the chess match against Frank being “a very enjoyable game?” Was the game considered “work” for HAL in order to please Frank? Did HAL enjoy the match, but feel that his win made the humans on the ship useless? There are so many relevant questions to be asked.

You know how I mentioned the last line of the movie comes about 20 minutes before the credits? That is given by Dr. Heywood Floyd, which makes him the only character to appear in multiple time periods of the entire film. Afterwards we are introduced to the ultimate segment, “Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite.”

I need you to take the greatest horror movie of all time. Maybe it’s John Carpenter’s “Halloween,” perhaps “Psycho,” or maybe if you are a fan of Stanley Kubrick and you’re reading this you might say “The Shining.” Keep that movie in mind. The sequence that defines this final part of the movie to me, is the Stargate sequence. If you have followed this blog for a long time, you may know I’m a super-fan of IMAX. I know a bit about IMAX’s history, including one of their pre-shows. A lot of people today are exposed to IMAX’s epic countdown before they watch a movie in that format. This has also occasionally been mixed up during certain films including “Blade Runner: 2049,” “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” and “Suicide Squad.” Before that was a thing however, IMAX had a couple introductions where it’s basically a journey through this wormhole which I’d love to see brought back everywhere for a special occasion if possible. The stargate sequence is pretty much what I described except more hypnotizing, and more horrifying. One of the first questions on my mind after watching the stargate sequence for the first time was the wonder of how high Stanley Kubrick had to have been to include that in the movie.

I mean, I eventually found out that when some people watch “2001,” they’re on drugs or they drop acid, and I can totally see why. It’s not my thing. In fact having seen this sequence in theaters a few times now, the sounds of the stargate were so unbelievably boisterous that it kind of drowns out the music at times. You take the visuals which are eye candy to say the least. You take the music which is a mixture of excitement but a reminder that what you’re watching is simply put, f*cked up. You also take the shots of Dave himself, you can tell he’s scared and doesn’t know what the heck is going on. All of it makes a sequence that is nothing short of masterful.

The way they did this sequence was actually through slit-scan photography, which was done by Douglas Trumbull. You know what? I refuse to call the guy Douglas Trumbull. Instead, I’m calling the guy a genius. This process was also used in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” and when it comes to “2001,” this actually required a customized machine. The sequence is haunting, it’s colorful, and it’s just strange. When I have “2001” on and this sequence playing, each time feels like my first time because it’s hard not to be hypnotized by a scene like this.

Now we get to the very ending, where Dave is in this room. He notices an alternate version of himself. The thing is, he’s older. The difference isn’t by much, but if you look closely, you can notice some grey hairs on the alternate Dave. There are also two more alternate versions of Dave himself. You have the one at a dining table and another lying down in bed. The one sitting at the table is not in a suit and instead, some sort of robe. It’s almost like he’s an old Jedi master that is trying to enjoy his last moments before he dies. Speaking of which, this alternate version glances over to another alternate version, whose skin is so worn to the point that he looks like a deranged grandfather. He’s practically on his deathbed. We notice him raising his hand up into the air very slowly. It’s slower than a shy kid in his history class. This hand raise is almost as if he is calling to God. In fact, if you watch the scene, you might notice the monolith, present before in the film, right in front of the bed. It’s as if the monolith is symbolizing Dave’s next stage, which is the star child. We notice this baby on the bed, which also happened to appear where old Dave was once lying down. Where does this baby end up?

SPACE.

Wikipedia suggests that Stanley Kubrick once said that this space baby is the next stage of human evolution. Now this baby has not cried once in this entire movie. If Kubrick is suggesting that we don’t have to go on a plane anymore and hear a crying baby. Spectacular, I hope this is futuristically accurate. Kubrick also said that this space baby, in his mind, is Dave as an elevated being, which is what evolution can suggest. But this film, as the old saying has been thrown around, is seemingly up to interpretation. I do agree on him being reborn, but part of me wonders if this makes Dave “a chosen being.” We always wonder what would happen to us after we die. Maybe the good go to heaven. Maybe the bad end up in hell. And if you kill a supercomputer with genuine emotions, you are reincarnated as a space baby. I can’t wait for the day when everyone forgets that Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter lost to a supercomputer on “Jeopardy!” all because they eventually destroy one with their bare hands and it sends a curse on society.

Another thing that can bring lots of interpretations to the table is the monolith. Our first glimpse of the monolith is during The Dawn of Man. The apes seem to have much curiosity towards the monolith upon first glance. They are all around it trying to decipher whatever the heck it is they are looking at. One thing I’ve noticed is that most of the moments where the monolith can be seen, we see the sun growing over it. When it comes to the first two scenes with the monolith, specifically the scene with the apes and the one on the moon, those are both moments of discovery. We have the apes curious to know what they’re looking at and the men curious to know what they’ve found. It shows how we as mankind are still curious even after we make discoveries years ago. The monolith may also be a way of symbolizing life itself. We see the birth of mankind in The Dawn of Man, where we create tools, and pieces of the puzzle are forming together. We see the moon discovery with the fact that the monolith knows the letter “e.” By the way, that “e” thing, I feel like those who have seen this movie might know what I’m talking about and might consider what I said to be some sort of joke based on actual events, but there’s this sound that can be heard towards the end of that scene and it’s basically the same sound that the fire alarm would make at the school I went to in grades 1-4. I had to cover my ears in the theater during that scene for good reason. We also see the monolith in the stargate signifying that maybe Dave is not going to be in as good of shape as he once was. The stargate, while majestic and beautiful to us as an audience, was not all fun and games for Dave. Then we see the rest of Dave’s life play out. The last thing Dave apparently sees is the monolith, therefore signifying death. Not the death of mankind, but the death of Dave. Although at the same time, maybe if Stanley Kubrick’s words of Dave evolving to the next, superior form of man can be applied here, maybe it can be the death of OUR mankind as we know it, and the birth of a new mankind.

Let’s also talk about the music in this movie. Before “2001” ultimately ended up with the music it has, it once was going to have a score by a composer known as Alex North. Before this film, he worked with Kubrick before on “Spartacus.” After he worked on the score however, his work was eventually discarded. Instead, Stanley Kubrick decided to insert pieces of music that already existed such as Richard Strauss’s “Also Spoke Zarathustra” and Johann Strauss’s “The Blue Danube.” By the way, those two have ZERO relation to each other. That first song I mentioned? That’s the one from that famous opening title sequence. That’s the song that has received parody after parody to the point where it’s almost not even a joke anymore. This song plays three times in this movie, and each time is just about as epic as the last. As for The Blue Danube, that plays three times, but none play the song in its entirety. There is not one original song here. In most movies, I’d ask myself why the f*ck that would be the case. Here, I wouldn’t blame others for asking such a question, but the biggest surprise to me is how much something like this works here. I mentioned I went to see this in the theater. When you listen to the music, it’s more like you’re taking a trip to an opera house as opposed to a movie theater. Much like the stargate sequence, it’s a trip. All of the music just feels grand, it matches with what the movie is trying to be, which is an ambitious epic.

This movie also shows something in space that I never really thought too much about until I saw this movie. I know that at NASA they have those zero gravity simulators and those can help you know what you’re in for regarding your future space travel. Although there are several scenes, and these are noticeable when the space scenes begin, where people are learning how to adapt to their spatial environment. There’s a scene where a stewardess is trying to walk and she’s having a tad of trouble doing so. You also have a scene that shows people needing to learn how to use the toilet in space. It gives us a look at humanity at a new stage in our cycle. We have now gotten to the point where space travel is pretty much a necessity and now we need to learn how to adapt to it.

Before this closes off, let’s dive into some detail about HAL. One recent notion I heard about this movie is that HAL, despite being a supercomputer, might be the most “human” character in the entire movie. Having heard that, such a thing makes every bit of possible sense. All of the humans in this movie for the most part, while they do appear human, barely have any sense of emotion. Even when they’re seemingly in danger, they don’t act like they are as much as HAL would. If you take HAL’s final words, you can tell that he made a mistake. You can tell he is trying to defend himself. Everyone else is trying to get work done. Sure, people do work, but each and every day we are letting the machines do all the work for us. It’s as if we are really the machines and HAL is the sole human in this entire film. In fact, as we become the machines, which we rely on to get work done, the machines have the ability to grow a consciousness, to the point where they can beat us in literally anything. After all, in terms of how animals operate, humans are pretty high in terms of superiority. The time when machines are as emotional as say a human is a point where one can assume that they can “win” the fight for survival. The whole message of the movie is that mankind created tools, allowing us to advance ourselves, to the point where we create a doomsday tool.

Gosh I love this movie. Oh, I forgot one more thing.

SPACE.

In the end, “2001: A Space Odyssey” is one of the best sci-fi movies ever made. Not only in terms of story, but also in how it was made, how it was directed, the effort put into every single set. This film has been influential on many more sci-fi films that have arrived after it. I can imagine it STILL being talked about even a thousand years from now. Not to mention, as a film it is different, imaginative, and also just something that can evoke lots of emotions. Either fear, sadness, inspiration, whatever. Stanley Kubrick, I love you, I want to watch more of your movies, you have outdone yourself here. I’m going to give “2001: A Space Odyssey” a 10/10. Thanks for reading this review! My next space movie review will be up on Thursday, October 4th, and I am not sure what I’m going to do next. But I would like to announce that one of the installments in my space movie review series is going to be “Gravity.” I will say, if I don’t have that review next week, I can guarantee that will be up the week after. As for the other movie, I’m actually still deciding. The mystery remains. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with your email or WordPress account so you can open the pod bay doors and find some more great content! I want to know, did you see “2001: A Space Odyssey?” Or, what is your favorite Stanley Kubrick movie? I’ll be honest, I need to see more of his work. But if you have a favorite, let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Getting Limited IMAX Release *Tickets Now On Sale!*

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Before we dive into this post, let me just ask you all something. What is your favorite form of social media? If you ask me, my two favorites have to be YouTube, the site that won’t stop playing the same freaking GEICO or Google ad before watching EVERY VIDEO YOU CLICK ON, and Twitter, the elementary school playground where Donald Trump pushes his enemies down the slide, Wendy’s is being the class clown, and former Economic Secretary to the Treasury of the UK, Ed Balls, is trying to play “Guardians of the Galaxy” with his friends all the while doing a terrible Groot impression.

A couple things to say. First, YES, that is a real tweet. It’s exactly as Ed Ballsy as it looks. And second, it’s I AM Ed Balls! Actually, wait a minute, he’s playing the character, it should I am Groot. Never mind. Speaking of social media, some of the most popular things people happen to find as they flock around their favorite sites is pictures or videos of babies. Why else do you think “Charlie Bit My Finger” is one of the most viewed YouTube videos of all time? If that’s the case, I’m a little dumbfounded that some channels having to do with babies are getting left in the dust, for example, one created by a couple known as Paul and Genevieve. This channel, while it doesn’t exactly focus on kids doing peculiar, cute, or funny things on camera, it does focus on the preparation for becoming parents, and by that I mean, literally trying as hard as possible to get pregnant. This is all explained… in “What the IVF?!”

“What the IVF?” is a series on YouTube where the recently mentioned couple attempt as hard as possible to have a baby. Each and every Monday, a new adventure is uploaded to the interwebs, and usually the adventure is not a pleasant one. In fact, most of these adventures continue to remind the couple about the struggles of their journey as they deal with incessant crying, pain, needles, thinking they’re under a dark spell, needles, appointments, needles, “trying everything,” and more needles! You can find the latest “WTIVF?” content on a YouTube channel specifically dedicated to the series. Their latest video is a bit of change of pace from the norm. Most of the events have been shot prior to this channel’s inception, however this is the first full-length video audiences get to see around present time. If you like unicorns, this episode is probably more preferable than some others in the series. Be sure to subscribe to the “What the IVF?” YouTube channel, ring the notification bell, check out the show’s other homes on the interwebs, all links are down below including a personal website for the show itself. Also, be sure to tell Paul and Genevieve that Jack Drees sent ya over!

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

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

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

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

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

If you have been following me here on Scene Before lately, you might know that I have done a recent post titled “Going To See 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968): A Tale of Two 70s.” In that post, I talk about the two times I saw “2001” in a theatrical setting. Both times were in 70mm equipped cinemas in the state of Massachusetts. That post took a long time to make, but overall I’m pretty proud of it. If you want to read it, click the link below and check it out. But if you’re more focused on this post, please stay here, because I’ve got some words I need to spit out. I’ve already seen “2001” twice this year in theaters, both of my experiences were nothing short of fabulous. And you know what? I think it might be time to go see it again. Unfortunately, there are no 70mm runs near my house at the moment, nor are there any other engagements that I’m personally aware of. But there is something big coming.

This year, “The Incredibles,” my all time favorite animated movie FINALLY got a sequel released to the public, and incredible it was indeed! My experience of seeing that movie was also pretty darn incredible as well. Before the release of “Incredibles 2,” one of my deepest desires was to see its prior installment in the IMAX format. I thought throughout most of my life that this was an experience that I would always dream of, but it was never going to become a reality. But for one night, it did. As part of a double feature which included both “Incredibles” installments, my dream of seeing “The Incredibles” in the IMAX format came true. By the way, this was shown before the official technical release of “Incredibles 2.” To specify, it was shown ONE DAY PRIOR TO THE OPENING THURSDAY NIGHT SCREENINGS! However, this month, something just as incredible will be hitting IMAX, and that is “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Having seen “2001: A Space Odyssey” a bunch of times now, a part of me couldn’t be happier. I haven’t watched the movie from start to finish until this year, but when I did sit down to watch this movie, it made me realize what I had been missing. It’s a movie that came out in the 1960s, and yet it looks better than a bunch of movies coming out today. The space shots are majestic and full of glory. People back then would agree with me in saying those shots look amazing, and I think they look so beautiful that I had to see this movie in theaters not once, but twice! There are other reasons too, but nevertheless.

But in all seriousness, a movie like this in IMAX? I’m in for sure! Aside from the huge scale glory that can apply to “2001,” I think that “2001” is a perfect choice for a movie to bring into the IMAX format simply because it’s that good of a movie. And I’m not saying that only because I think it’s one of my all time favorite movies, which it is, but to say I’m alone on that sort of statement would be completely false. As you know, two of IMAX’s main focal points are to crank out their exclusive content such as those documentaries which are traditionally exclusive to museum settings, and to immerse audiences into new content from other studios. However bringing older movies to be presented in the IMAX format has become a somewhat increasing trend over the years. This has been done with “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Harry Potter,” “Forrest Gump,” “Jurassic Park,” and “Top Gun.” I honestly don’t mind this trend. As much as I try to promote originality, it’s fun to see what it would be like to witness a movie that was in theaters at one point on the big screen once again, maybe share that experience with younger generations, and since it involves IMAX, that experience could actually be enhanced.

One thing that I’ve noticed however when it comes to a number of these presentations is that some of them don’t exactly utilize the ultimate technology of IMAX by showing the movie in IMAX’s 70mm projection. In fact, with a movie like “2001: A Space Odyssey,” which was shot using 70mm equipment, not to mention shown in theaters during its theatrical run using 70mm projectors, the whole idea of presenting this in IMAX 70mm film just sounds perfect! And that is EXACTLY what is going to happen!

I will say though, I am probably unlikely to catch one of these 70mm screenings. I live about an hour away from Providence, RI, which has an IMAX 70mm projector, but based on evidence I’ve witnessed since tickets have recently gone on sale, I can’t really say that Providence is actually showing this movie. They even have digital projectors, but the movie isn’t even being shown on that. In fact, if you’re reading this right now, there’s a good chance that YOU might not even get the chance to see the movie in IMAX 70mm. Here’s a list of the theaters showing “2001: A Space Odyssey” in IMAX 70mm.

AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 (New York, NY)

AMC Metreon 16 (San Francisco, CA)

AMC at Citywalk Hollywood (Universal City, CA)

Ontario Place Cinesphere IMAX (Toronto, ON, Canada)

Indiana State Museum (Indianapolis, IN) (Starting September 7th)

Although, something feels strange about all this. This is starting towards the end of August (for the most part), there is another movie that is supposed to be showing in IMAX 70mm that seems to be in just about all of these locations. Don’t believe me? Here’s an article from Variety, published last month.

‘The Dark Knight’ Set for 10th Anniversary Imax Re-Release (EXCLUSIVE)

If you are too lazy to read articles, there’s not much wrong with that, I understand, but the article basically states that around the same time, IMAX is doing a one-week engagement for “The Dark Knight” because it just turned 10 years old. And I will say, that is actually a grand idea. For one thing, it not only dazzled audiences for how much of a quality movie it turned out to be. But it also happened to be the first major Hollywood film shot using IMAX cameras. Turns out, both “The Dark Knight” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” will be playing on the same day as each other at different showtimes. And having heard this sort of news, I actually think that’s almost mind-blowing because when I usually go to an IMAX it usually has one film playing a day unless there’s some special event going on like an opening Thursday night. So we have two big movies playing simultaneously in IMAX, we have both of them on 70mm film, and they have around two and a half hours of footage! That’s a LOT of film! A little bit of digression here, but the funny thing about this is that “The Dark Knight” is actually directed by Christopher Nolan and now this presentation of “2001” is actually being kind of overseen by Christopher Nolan. Gosh he’s my favorite director of all f*ckin’ time.

And if you can’t catch this movie on IMAX 70mm film, there’s still other opportunities to catch this movie in the IMAX format. According to sources including the Hollywood Reporter, Deadline, and others, this movie is said to be shown in more than 350 IMAX theaters. IMAX has over 1,000 theaters in existence, so I can only wonder which ones will be selling the golden tickets. Although another thing to consider is that all of these theaters that are playing the movie in IMAX 70mm are located somewhere in North America. Is it possible that this is only exclusive to North America? I think that might be the case. In fact, don’t trust me completely, because I don’t have evidence to completely back this up, but I think I remember reading about this somewhere, I don’t know where, but wherever I read this had a statement saying that this was exclusive to North America. I don’t know, maybe I’m imagining things, but I don’t work for Warner Brothers, I don’t work for the movie industry, so I’ll admit upfront, I might not be the first guy you’d want to trust on every single detail you hear.

Another thing I will say though is that “2001: A Space Odyssey” is one of those masterpieces that you have to catch before you die. There’s a reason why it has a spot in the IMDb top 250! And let me tell you something about this movie. Last June, I caught the movie twice in a 70mm theatrical setting, as mentioned earlier. A week after I saw “2001” in the theater for the second time that month, I was going on a trip to Walt Disney World, because my family and I decided to give more money to the people we already gave money to for their work on “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Incredibles 2,” “Black Panther,” and unfortunately, “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” On the way back from the trip, I was searching through JetBlue’s options for free movies. One movie on the free list was “2001,” so I started watching it. And I realized it was missing something I usually get when I watch the movie, not only at the theater, but even when I watch the Blu-ray.

It was the overture that occurs before the MGM logo… In fact, if I remember correctly, I don’t even think the MGM logo appeared either.

Sure, that is a weird compliant… But having watched this movie several times, that is probably something that I will continue to associate with my experiences. And this made me realize something. “2001” IS NOT A PLANE MOVIE. Would I watch “2001” anywhere I go? I probably would. I consider it to be one of my favorite movies of all time. But if you ask me, if you should watch the movie on a plane, that is probably not my goto choice. If you want the full power of “2001,” either watch it in an area where you can get some peace and quiet on a decent TV screen or projection wall, or in a theater. I don’t know if we as living creatures will ever get an opportunity to watch “2001” in IMAX ever again. Maybe I will, maybe when it turns 75 or 100 years old, but in all seriousness, being given the chance to witness this masterful work of art in a place having to do with one of my all time biggest influences towards wanting to pursue a career in the film industry is a chance I don’t want slipping past my radar.

Thanks for reading this post! If you have read this and are rather interested in that post I just mentioned, “Going To See 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968): A Tale of Two 70s,” I’ll have you know that the link to it is down below, so if you want to check it out, go right ahead! As for new reviews, the future is somewhat uncertain, but there are few things I’m seeking out right now including “The Spy Who Dumped Me,” “The Darkest Minds,” and one of my most anticipated movies of the year, A24’s “Eighth Grade.” Maybe I’ll sprinkle in a countdown somewhere since I haven’t done one in awhile, but seriously, only time will tell what will be happening here. Stay tuned for more great content, be sure to follow me and like this post! I want to know, are you planning to see “2001: A Space Odyssey” in IMAX? If so, which theater are you setting your eyes on for this? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Going To See 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968): A Tale of Two 70s: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2018/07/17/going-to-see-2001-a-space-odyssey-1968-a-tale-of-two-70s-spoilers/

Going To See 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968): A Tale of Two 70s *SPOILERS*

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Hey everyone! Jack Drees here! The last number of weeks have been wild. Not just here on Scene Before, but I mean life in general. From learning to drive, to dealing with college, to being invited to a pre-release screening and accepting an invitation for the first time, to going to see my first double feature in a theater, to perhaps one of the most infuriating and crap-induced days of my entire life, vacations, family reunions, and everything has just been stacking up on my schedule like pancakes at IHOb. That’s right! IHOb! Apparently someone thought it was so brilliant to switch the last initial of IHOP. The new initial by the way, happened to be “burgers.” The International House of Pancakes, has now become the International House of Burgers. IHOP is synonymous with breakfast in the same way that Sprint is synonymous with *muffled voice*

GUY ON OTHER END: Sorry, what was that? I can’t hear you.

ME: Oh, sorry, let me try going into another room!

*Footsteps*

ME: OK, let’s try this again, where were we?

GUY: Something about IHOP.

ME: Oh, right, thanks!

IHOP could have gone with several names for their replacement initial if they wanted to stick to having a “b!” Bacon! Breakfast! Buttermilk! And as weird as it sounds, Belgians! Seriously! International House of Belgians! That… The more I think about it… Kind of has a ring to it. Or, what if the “b” was so random that it had nothing to do with food whatsoever? Imagine the name change being International House of Butts. I think smoking is usually frowned upon at IHOb, but you have butts that get right into the restaurant and eventually land in a seat! What about International House of Balls? Because it takes balls to go to a diner and eat pancakes with fake syrup. Or even more random, what if the “b” is for a person’s name? IHOP could become the International House of Bob. Maybe the International House of Bianca? That not good enough? What about the International House of Becky? Still not satisfied? Why not settle for the International House of Barry? Everyone will come in, desperate to ask an employee, “Who the hell is this wacko named Barry?” And maybe if your name is Barry, you’ll get your entire meal half-priced! If you are a FAMOUS Barry, your meal is free! That’ll bring all the Barrys in! Barry Trotz! Barry Williams! Barry Manilow! Now is your time to be the best Barry you can possibly be! After awhile, IHOP learned their lesson and changed their name back to what it originally was, but this just felt like a natural disaster! Screw whatever s*it went down in “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” allow me to introduce Hurricane Burger!

Seriously though, this rant is not what you came in for, you came in for something related to “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Over a couple of weeks, I’ve taken two opportunities to go see “2001” in two different movie theaters. Both times, I saw the movie in 70mm, which is the way that many audiences witnessed the film back when it came out. Speaking of that, this print that was shown at both theaters I went to was a photochemical recreation of the original camera negative for the first time since the film’s theatrical run. There are no digital tricks, add-ons, or gimmicks. It’s quite possibly the closest one could get to going back in time and watching this movie in a theater during the year of 1968. During the realization of how this print would ultimately turn out, the whole project was under the supervision of critically acclaimed director Christopher Nolan, who has been a lover of “2001: A Space Odyssey” for a very long time. Nolan has directed films including the “Dark Knight” trilogy, “Memento,” “Inception,” and most recently, “Dunkirk.” He has also created a film with several similarities to “2001,” “Interstellar.” The first presentation of these “unrestored” prints occurred at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where Nolan received a standing ovation upon being greeted. Warner Brothers went on releasing a number of prints at select theaters, and not all of them have been released yet.

Let me just start off by saying that both experiences of “2001” were absolutely spectacular! I consider “2001” to be one of my all time favorite movies, so naturally I wouldn’t mind watching it anywhere, but the fact that I’ve went out to see it in a theater in 70mm probably brought out the best the film ever had to offer.

Every other time (maybe except one) that I’ve watched the movie “2001,” whether it was start to finish, split into parts, whatever, it was on a Blu-ray disc, and the transfer that “2001” has gotten on that particular disc is not bad whatsoever. I say maybe except one because I’d bet my first viewing was on a DVD. You can see all the necessary details, no colors look all that weird, and the sound is pretty good too. Although for the past couple of viewings, I’ve gotten off my ass, and went into a theater with other people. See guys? I have a life! I can go out of the house every once in a while! And with just enough motivation, I think you can too!

The first time I walked out of “2001” after seeing it in a theater, I don’t think I said this right away, but I can guarantee you that at one point, even if it is days after my experience, I said something along the lines of “THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING.” Sounds like you would hear that phrase every now and then. I was born just barely before 2000, but I can imagine back in 1977, when “Star Wars” came out, some people, adults, teens, and children living at that time probably at the very least had that thought in their mind after their first “Star Wars” experience. In 1994, “Toy Story” came out, and when it released, there was not much like it in the animation genre. It blew a lot of minds out of people’s heads and just lead to just about nothing but high appreciation. In fact, this year, in 2018, minds are still being blown. We have just witnessed the culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Avengers: Infinity War,” and people are having many emotions towards it. I thought it was a total game changer, not to mention one of the all time greatest movies I’ve witnessed that is based on a comic book due to how the execution of the content the film contained turned out and the way it ended. Even after “Avengers: Infinity War,” my mind is still able to be blown, and with this mind blowing experience, it’s not just amazing because it’s truly unlike anything I’ve ever seen. But it’s also something that I’ve technically seen before, but am now getting to view in a whole new way that feels unique.

Without further ado, let’s talk about both of my experiences in detail!

SOMERVILLE THEATRE, SOMERVILLE, MA (JUNE 3RD, 2018, 12:30 PM):

The first of my two experiences took place at the closest theater to my house where this sort of thing happened to be taking place, the Somerville Theatre. The theater first opened in 1914 and my presentation was in its original auditorium. As far as getting there, I went with my friend by her car on a Sunday afternoon, leaving my home an hour prior to showtime. And since it was Sunday, we were kinda lucky, parking was free. Yay! We get in the theater to realize there actually is a line to get tickets or check in. My friend and I already had our tickets. Then once we grab our tickets, we get into another line on the opposite side of the sidewalk from where we walked in. Continuing our luck, it wouldn’t take that long for us to enter the theater given our distance in line. Once we enter, we grab our seats somewhere towards the rear end, and more luck happened to be on the rise! CENTER SEATS! As we grab our seats, I decide to go on into the lobby because I wanted a popcorn and soda.

I enter the lobby, knowing where the snack stand is because this is not my first time at this theater. As I walked forward, I knew exactly what to order. I ended up getting a large combo which cost less than $10! Holy crap! You know how much I have to pay for a combo like that an AMC? It’s somewhere around $15 to $17! I do it to support the theater and they actually make more money off of food purchases than ticket sales, which is why I don’t bring my own stuff into the theater. But just the other day I was down in Disney World, and they had an AMC on the property, where a large popcorn and a large drink would cost me around $15 to $17, and even when I use a discount which I earned from rewards points, it’s still a good deal, but if I remember correctly, it still cost me more than a large combo at Somerville Theatre WITHOUT rewards points. By the way, both of those combos actually allow you to get free refills. Boom. The guy at the register was really nice too. He complimented on my Cinema Sins t-shirt, and pointed out that everyone who got something at the stand so far in the day, including myself, ordered a large combo. The streak was eventually broken, but it’s still cool to be part of the team! Speaking of broken streaks…

I get back into the theater, and I accidentally enter the wrong row. I’m one row ahead of where I’m supposed to be. So instead of executing my gymnast skills of lifting my legs over a seat, I walk out on the side, like a normal person. Then suddenly, bad luck ensues. Not just for me, but for the poor man whose drink I accidentally spilled. I hear a noise, and this guy say “S*it.” I didn’t know what to do for a second. So it was time to play a game, let’s call it “Somersolve,” the game of solving problems in Somerville, Massachusetts. The objective is to avoid getting into a problematic situation and solve a problem. So, I act calm, and let out my humorous side.

“On the bright side, it’s a free refill.”

The guy who I interacted with seemed to take the situation lightly, my friend offered to spend some money on him toward new refreshments, to which he replied that he’s alright and ended up getting a free refill. Based on my observations, the guy ended up moving to a different seat. By the way, if this guy I’m referring to is reading this, I’m sorry!

Once it’s just about time to begin the action, a guy comes into the theater and starts talking on the microphone. He greets and welcomes everyone, and he states that the projectionist in the booth is considered by numerous people to be “the best in the business,” suggesting that he’s projected “2001” many times. Then the bad luck continued… He goes on to say that a gear on the projector is actually broken, and from what I heard, this happened many hours, perhaps a day or two, prior to my arrival. The projector still works, and the movie is still playable. However, there is a drawback to all of this. During certain points of the movie, the screen will go black for a minute, and the movie will stop. And no, this is not in an intermission type of pause (although the movie did provide one). What would happen is the screen will suddenly stop displaying an image. No sound would be heard whatsoever. And you know what? The guy was gonna make it up to anyone who wasn’t fond of this. If this bothers anyone, they actually get their money back, which is actually not a bad deal because they paid a premium price and maybe they can show they aren’t getting their premium service. Once I heard this, I was worried. What was gonna happen? What scenes were I going to miss? Oh my gosh! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria! Nevertheless, the speaker had an admirable hint of charm to him, and appeared to be extremely presentable. He also states some of the technical aspects I gave to you all in this post. The Christopher Nolan thing, the original camera negative thing, stuff like that. Once he finishes speaking, everybody begins to clap. It was clear that a good number of people were either really hyped for this experience, they love “2001,” they are enthusiastic about the whole 70mm situation, or clapping is possibly an undiscovered effect of dropping acid. Then, the auditorium returns to the low volume it previously contained. Afterwards, music begins. It’s the overture.

From what I can tell, the overture didn’t even start from the clear beginning. OK, whatever, it’s just the overture, there’s no picture during this moment, I can deal with that. I got to hear over 75% or 80% of it at least. Around the song’s technical halfway mark, I notice the slight dimming of a ceiling light. Once the song comes to a close, almost all of the auditorium is dark, excluding the screen, which has been revealed by the opening of the red curtain, and a few red lights on the walls. Then I see it. The MGM logo. The adventure has begun. We as an audience are then greeted to the famous, masterful, and endlessly parodied opening accompanied by Richard Strauss’s “Also Sparch Zarathustra.” I felt reborn. I almost wanted to clap immediately, but I didn’t want to be the one awkward attendee making everyone question humanity. I already made one person question such a thing when I spilled their drink. One thing I kinda sorta expected from there on out, was silence. Everyone was hypnotized to the screen, including me. I was trying to be respectful and not eat and drink too much for sake of not letting out too much noise. It reminded me of when I went to see “A Quiet Place” and would try to not be as obnoxious as I might be during other movies with my drink, and literally dissolve popcorn by use of my tongue. The screen demanded my full attention. When the movie started, and as it progressed, I did notice a slight difference in color when it comes to various shots. I didn’t consider it a bad thing, in fact compared to my Blu-ray, I think it truly captures the retro feel that maybe you’d want out of a movie like “2001,” and the more I think about it, makes it feel slightly less artificial. It’s not to say that it’s less clear than my Blu-ray, it’s higher in quality. Blu-rays go up to 1080p, and I have a player that can upscale those kinds of discs to near 4K quality. When it comes to 70mm, 4K is 70mm’s meal for breakfast. Now, let’s get to what could have been the worst part of the experience, had we been ripped off.

As mentioned, we were told that there would be short pauses during our presentation, which will eventually lead to the return of the movie playing. I was worried, I didn’t want to complain too much, then it happened. Around the “voiceprint identification” scene, the screen goes black, and the auditorium is almost in complete darkness. And since we were told about this, nobody really complained! I was thinking that we were going to miss a segment of the movie, and that point would be Floyd talking to his daughter while simultaneously wishing her a happy birthday. Nope! We didn’t really miss anything! Yippee! What a relief! This happened a couple more times during the screening. The first one being one of the earlier scenes on the ship introducing Dave, Frank, HAL, and the hibernating scientists. When that occurred, I turned to my friend, and tried to vocalize myself at a volume at which others in the auditorium could possibly hear me, asking, “What the HAL?” Nobody cracked, and based on what I could tell, she could correct me eventually considering she reads this and we see each other every once in a while, but my friend must have thought I was taking myself seriously and said “hell.” I tried to make sure I was coming off in the proper way so I told her what I was trying to say. The next pause occurred towards the climax of the film, and I have to say it may have been the PERFECT break. I say this because it’s right in between the Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite Sequence, and the last spoken line of dialogue in the movie given in the HAL control room.

One thing I was super excited for was the scenes in space. I will probably rave until I die about my experience watching “Interstellar,” a movie with many similarities to “2001,” one of them being that both movies heavily take place in space. Seeing the jumpcut from the bone to the satellite (TOTALLY A NUCLEAR MISSILE) started to make me smile like I had just realized I won a million dollars on “Deal or no Deal.” As I progressed through this first moment with The Blue Danube playing in the background, I think the girly part of me kicked in and I wanted to cry. If you told me I went to an enormous and epic opera house in space, I would have believed you. Speaking of the Blue Danube, one of the conveniences of sitting towards the back of the theater is getting to see all of the action from those upfront, and there’s this scene where you see a guy reading instructions on how to use a zero gravity toilet. It just shows how much we have to relearn what we already know how to do on Earth in space. Towards the front, there were a couple guys chatting and one that I assume was talking about exactly what I’m referring to. We may have gotten far as a society, but it is still our duty to learn how to poop in space. Yay, humans!

One thing that occurred in both Somerville Theatre and the second cinema I want to talk about is something near and dear to my heart.

“2001” to me is an interesting movie when it comes to sound. It has a soundtrack that’s big and loud, and yet there are several moments in the movie, mainly in space where you hear, LITERALLY NOTHING. Hey, I’m not complaining! That’s scientifically accurate! I love the big and loud soundtrack, which when I saw the movie at Somerville, brought an immersive, not to mention symphonic feeling to the auditorium. But there’s one noise in the movie, while I still am technically fine with having it in there in the first place, that I JUST. CAN’T. STAND. A bunch of astronauts are on the moon together, observing the monolith in front of them. Then, it’s picture time! One astronaut is trying to align a bunch of other astronauts together in front of the monolith and take their picture. In the process, this loud screech comes out of nowhere. It’s ear-piecing to the tenth degree! And I don’t just mean that for those around the monolith, but also for me. My friennd was covering her ears too! I have sensitive ears, and there are a lot of noises that I’ll surprisingly get by in a movie theater, but that is something which I had to survive.

One of the best parts of my Somerville experience is HAL’s last moments, which was a hint of preparation for my second experience which I will touch upon. I got some surprising reactions during my experience. The most surprising one I’ve gotten up to this point is probably the collective laughter towards Floyd’s daughter wanting a bush baby for her birthday. Then, we get to the final moments of HAL. Dave enters the ship through the emergency airlock, you can hear him breathing. Then we hear HAL, say the following lines in chronological order, starting with the earliest:

“Just what do you think you’re doing, Dave?”

“Dave, I really think I’m entitled an answer to that question.”

“I know everything hasn’t been quite right with me. But I can assure you now, very confidently, that it’s going to be alright again.”

“I feel much better now. I really do.”

“Look, Dave. I can see you’re really upset about this. I honestly think that you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill and talk things over.”

I mean, sure, a computer telling someone to take a stress pill is a bit out of the ordinary, that can work as comedy. In fact, when I walked out of one of these experiences, I said that I always thought that maybe the highest form of comedy I found in “2001” happened to be the part where the apes first use the bone as a weapon. These unexpected reactions however were not distracting, it was just a bunch of people enjoying themselves and having a good time. The one thing that disappointed me however is that with all of these reactions of laughter towards HAL, not one was given towards him singing “Daisy.” It’s a complete change of pace and it’s just funny seeing an electronic sing! It’s like seeing Edna Mode from “The Incredibles” go on “American Idol!” I almost wanted to start laughing at that moment, but just like what I said about the intro, I wanted to avoid being the awkward guy in the auditorium.

Then came what possibly might be the best part of the movie, the stargate sequence. This is a moment where the auditorium’s sound system just BOOMED. I’m not gonna go too much into it, because there’s some nifty stuff I want to save for the next experience, but it was awesome. The end came, and so did applause. I probably stood out the most when it came to the applause. I was literally standing up applauding. Some clapped, some wooed, but I stood up with my hands bouncing off each other. I had a great experience that is difficult to describe in words. It may have been bumpy, but I wouldn’t have traded this time at the theater for anything else.

I had such a great time, and I would easily put it in my top 10 best movie theater experiences. But the thing is, I wanted more… Before I went to Somerville Theatre to see “2001,” I asked my dad if he wanted to go, but he couldn’t make it. Nothing against him, a guy’s gotta do what he’s gotta do. Nothing against my friend either, I really enjoyed my time with her. But, I figured this would be something I wanted to do again, and I had a chat with my dad on the phone. I told him about my experience, describing it as “epic,” which it was, that is, if my experience could be described in words. He stated at one point he was jealous that I got to go to this. That gave me an idea. I REALLY wanted to see the movie in 70mm again, and I think my dad wouldn’t mind doing something like this. Father’s Day was slowly, but steadily approaching. While Somerville Theatre was scheduled to show “2001” for two weeks until it goes away, another nearby theater has yet to show their 70mm prints of the movie. I told dad I’d buy tickets for this show, I’d pay for it, and the experience would be on me. That wasn’t really true, my dad paid for train transportation and dinner, although I had money and tried to keep him from paying, but I paid for the tickets at least, not to mention the food I purchased for myself at the theater.

COOLIDGE CORNER THEATRE, BROOKLINE, MA (JUNE 17, 2018, 7:00 PM)

When going to my second experience, I had no idea what I was in for. I was well aware that the theater was going to have some similar architectural aesthetics to Somerville, based on images I’ve seen online. The experience was actually a tad more expensive than Somerville, which makes sense since I’m seeing this in the evening as opposed to the early afternoon. I may have jumped on the wagon a tad early, buying tickets for this experience as soon as possible. Little did I realize, sometime after purchasing tickets, Somerville would have extended their run of “2001” for a week. Knowing Somerville, the experience would have been cheaper. But I didn’t care, because this brings a breath of fresh air. And I mean that in a literal sense because I went to the Somerville Theatre a couple months prior to the “2001” event, also for another 70mm experience. This second 70mm “2001” viewing was my first time at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. I was pretty amped. This theater is actually younger than Somerville. First established in 1933, the Coolidge Corner Theatre is widely considered one of the best movie theatres in New England.

I left alongside my father and sister approximately three hours prior to showtime. I felt this would allow us to guarantee a higher possible chance of earning decent seats. We ended up going to the closest subway station to my house on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, AKA the MBTA, AKA the T, AKA the place numerous Bostonians go to as much as Dunkin Donuts. I planned this, considering I was the one behind the wheel, and my excuse, “trains are awesome.” So we get off at our designated stop, my sister and father don’t really have any sort of preference on where to eat. But I did have a place in mind considering I’ve done extended research.

There were multiple restaurants in Coolidge Corner, but the one that attracted me the most was a place nearby that goes by the name of Oath Pizza. They have multiple locations in Massachusetts and having seen footage of them on the New England exclusive restaurant tour show, “Phantom Gourmet” I was eager to check them out due to how much boasting was given towards their “90 second pizza oven.” Keep in mind, that 90 second thing, is likely just for the oven’s actions. But you know what? Doesn’t matter, the pizza was a delight. Because I’m boring, I got the “classic cheese.” My sister got a make your own pizza of some sort. Dad however, came to play. It’s father’s day. He can order whatever he wants. While some may be tempted by the “spicy mother clucker,” and I’m willing to bet maybe he was too, he didn’t go for that. Instead, he went for the whole hog. I mean, it had smoked bacon and sausage. In his worldview, that’s my father’s version of not going wrong. The place had a Chipotle kinda feel considering they brag about their dedication to natural ingredients, not to mention the place was rather small and a little more upscale than your typical fast food chain restaurant such as McDonald’s or Burger King. The pizza from what I heard was actually rather crunchy, and what I heard was definitely correct. The more I think about it, it’s a better version of the pizza Pringles.

Once finished, we had more than an hour to waste before the movie. If I remember correctly, I believe we picked up our tickets prior to doing anything else. So while my father and sister have no idea what they want to do, I automatically declare to everyone that we’re trotting over to GameStop, because there’s one nearby. But that ultimately backfired. It’s Sunday. The store closes at 6PM, so we couldn’t go in. We pass by the Brookline Booksmith, which I’ve been inside, and it is rather nifty, but none of us really chose to go in today. We do some walking, and I notice a comic book store. My minor nerdgasm starts to kick in. I’m attracted, and everyone follows me towards it. But once again, we’ve fallen into the Sunday trap. That store was scheduled to close at 6PM as well. With almost nothing to do, we are almost left stranded in the middle of Coolidge Corner, possibly just inevitably waiting outside before we can actually go into our auditorium. But then, a miracle happens. The miracle of CVS. We go in and just start making fun of everything. The biggest standout is whatever we could say about medicine. My sister eventually got somewhat intimidated to the point where my father thought we were overstaying our welcome. Fun fact by the way, this is not the only CVS that’s less than a two or three minute walk away from the theater! We were in the closer one, if you want any specification.

We are let in the theater around somewhere between thirty to ten minutes before scheduled showtime. The seats were pretty much the same scenario as last time. We were towards the center of our row near the back. I go get myself some popcorn and a soda, and I experience something that I’ve never witnessed in a movie theater before. No battle of the soda corporations. That’s right! For the first time ever, I enter a theater that has neither Coke or Pepsi! When I was at Oath Pizza, they had no “traditional soda,” they instead had Stubborn soda, but the closest thing I can find to “traditional soda” was probably root beer. On the menu at Coolidge Corner Theatre, I find “cane soda” and “diet cane soda.” I ask the employee at the register if the diet cane soda is like Diet Coke, to which I remember the person giving some answer that relates to “yes.” I end up getting that. While the price for my large popcorn and soda was more expensive than Somerville, it certainly isn’t a price I’d complain about. The popcorn was nice and fresh, but the soda was something I really had to get used to. From what I imagine upon further research, it must taste like the Coke you’d drink in somewhere like Mexico, because that has cane sugar. But what do I know? I’m an American who recently graduated from high school, and according to everybody else in the world, our education system is crap, so what do I know?

One thing that kind of surprised me about the theater in Coolidge Corner and was slightly different than Somerville, was that there was music playing inside the theater. It wasn’t “2001” based or anything, it was just regular music. Although during my first time in Somerville there was “Back to the Future” music blasting inside the theater. To me, that made sense, because the movie I was seeing, “Ready Player One,” happened to have “Back to the Future” playing a huge part in it. Similar to Somerville, we get a guy coming in the theater, who speaks to everyone near the screen. He also lectures us on the specs of the print we’re about to witness, warns us of an intermission that will be taking place, luckily it’s only one and intentional this time, and he even goes on advertising other stuff related to the Coolidge Corner Theatre which sounded interesting personally. He warns everyone to enjoy the show, and then applause ensues. I’m willing to bet that *maybe* I was the one who started the applause. We are just about to start the movie, I was ready. After about a minute of preparation, I heard the noise of glory. The overture. And you know what? I could actually hear the whole thing this time!

When it came to the overture, And in terms of lighting, it was slightly different than Somerville. For one thing, the dimming began rather early. And the whole auditorium didn’t go black instantaneously, it was a lot darker in Coolidge Corner than it was in Somerville. Most of the lights went off, but a couple were on, most noticably two lights on opposite sides of the stage, shining on the red curtain. Fun fact by the way, for those who don’t know, the overture song is called “Atmospheres,” and atmospherically speaking, Coolidge Corner wins against Somerville in my book. Coolidge Corner’s lightshow, or in this case, darkshow, felt like it could be choreographed in my imagination, but the one in Somerville came off as a tad clunky. But whatever, it’s not even the main course of the movie, it’s just the appetizer. Throughout the overture, my dad turned over to me, and actually asked if I got this thing in Somerville as well. I replied saying, “yes.” It was go time. Almost all the lights, except some side ones, were soon completely off. The curtain opened. The famous introduction began. I was in full focus mode.

This time, I was a little more conservative when it came to my popcorn and drink. Sure, I mentioned my drink was tough to have at times because it’s a bit different to consume than what I usually get at the movies, although still tolerable. Not to mention, unlike Somerville, I heard nothing about a free refill. Doesn’t matter to me, I’m here for the movie. Even if your movie is called “The Emoji Movie,” chances are I’m at the theater for the movie.

Once the movie starts, I begin to notice the color differences once again. We get to the first monolith scene with the apes, and while it’s very intriguing and hypnotizing, I’m noticing something that’s different, and that is the sound. There was moment during the song that plays in that scene. It didn’t have as much of a vibration effect in the auditorium. No big deal, the sound is still spectacular and probably superior to anything I’d watch at home. And you know what? I looked online and noticed some different speaker placements, so maybe that contributed to it. Either that, or maybe the volume was higher on one system compared to another. Part of it may have to do with seating arrangements as well. Because all of the seats at Coolidge Corner are in one designated area. Although with Somerville, as mentioned, the seating arrangements include an orchestra section and a balcony section. The speakers are more in an upsey-downey fashion as opposed to a straight line.

Once we got to the first scene in space, I was once again instantly reminded of how majestic “2001” truly is. Noticing the first shot with the satellite as the camera moves towards Earth is nothing short of beauty in an image. One thing I noticed is that the audience in my theater wasn’t exactly as talkative as the one prior. That can be a good thing if you want to focus on the movie, but if you want an unexpectedly fun experience, it’s gotta have the audience laughing at stuff you don’t expect to be laughable, which is what I got at Somerville. Unlike Somerville, nobody at Coolidge Corner seemed to laugh at the “bush baby” wish. Although one thing that both experiences had in common is that both times the call between Floyd and his daughter ended, there would be a price showing up on the screen. Once the charge is on the screen, some laughs ensue.

One thing I also noticed about Coolidge Corner that gives it a boost in points against Somerville, is that the image is a lot smoother. And when I say that, I’m not talking about it in terms of the images displayed. Those are pretty similar in terms of overall motion. But if anything, this is more of a comment towards the projection. There’s one scene in particular during the movie as I watched it in Somerville that I began to notice something odd. After the conference which Floyd gives a speech, we cut to a set of establishing shots in space. Throughout, I’m noticing the images jumping up and down. Why is this exactly? I don’t know. I wouldn’t consider that an issue, because it doesn’t necessarily interfere with the experience, but it’s just something I noticed. At Coolidge Corner, there seemed to be none of that interference through the whole film. This is just a part of why I gotta give more points to Coolidge Corner in the atmospheric category when it comes to showing this film.

Then we get to the part of the film that I’m willing to bet my dad was highly anticipating, because that’s the part where our main characters are introduced. This made me realize that to certain people, HAL is more than an evil supercomputer trying to take over a spaceship. When it comes to people like my dad and he thinks about HAL, there’s a good chance that my dad is thinking about how funny HAL is. In fact, I don’t think there’s even one person I know currently that would probably laugh at HAL in this movie as much as my father. I mentioned in Somerville that a bunch of people were dying laughing towards the end of the movie because of some of the stuff that HAL says, but my dad pretty much laughed at HAL for the entirety of his screentime. There are certain times during the film where HAL is talking, just saying things such as pointing out how foolproof he is. My dad just starts cracking up. Did it annoy anyone? I’m not entirely sure. In fact, if it did annoy other people, let me just have you know, it was Father’s Day, let my dad have his fun. Speaking of HAL, I can say watching the movie in the theater definitely has its perks. As far as watching this film from beginning to end, I’ve watched this movie in school off of a projector. It was pretty good quality, I wouldn’t say I have any complaints about it. All of the other times have been on a Blu-ray disc played on my 43″ 4K TV. The images are upscaled to near-4K quality. A 43″ TV is decent sized product for where I use it, and the images have always come off pretty crystal clear. I always appreciate the movie’s huge scope every time I watch it. Watching the film in 70mm however, allowed me to notice the little things. For the first time in recent memory, I was literally able to observe the label “HAL 9000” above the red eye located on the computer’s monitor. I watched the movie once more after seeing it in Coolidge Corner, and having this information locked in my head, it made me try to focus really hard on the HAL 9000 label once I got to the point where it could be seen.

We get to the intermission, and I see the white text come up, signifying that normal people can get up, go to the bathroom, grab some food, stretch, those sorts of things, while the abnormal go outside and drop acid in preparation for the stargate sequence. When I was at this screening of the film, I noticed that everyone didn’t really react to the intermission. The best way I can describe the atmosphere that maybe everyone felt in the theater was some sort of jaded-like feel. For some reason when I went to Somerville, some people felt the need to clap and cheer once seeing the intermission warning pop up. Here, it was quiet. I find the audience reactions here to be expected, and I do respect them because it just shows that everyone knows not to be chaotic. Although while the reactions at Somerville for the intermission happened to be quirky, I also found them to be rather charming. I didn’t even get up from my seat during the intermission, I just turned on my phone for a sec, browsed through some things, and turned it back off.

The overture begins again… Atmospheric as ever. I was amped like you wouldn’t believe. The curtain soon opened and the feature presentation resumed. Soon, you see Frank’s death. My dad once again stood out among the audience, and nobody seemed to give a flying f*ck. As Frank began to struggle, my dad uttered, “Bye, Frank.” This is during a scene where there is barely any sound whatsoever, which if this were not the case, I don’t think his remark would have had as much charm behind it. I always found this scene interesting though, and this interest has grown significantly over these past couple of watches. Even though one of the movie’s main characters is dying, and it’s a pretty big death for the movie, nobody really reacts to it. There may be reasons behind that though. For one thing, it happens in a near-silent set of clips. Another point to consider is that this movie is fifty years old and there’s a good chance everybody knows exactly what to expect at this point of the film. When I saw “Avengers: Infinity War,” people basically didn’t even know what to think at certain points of the film when certain major characters died. That’s most likely because of the buildup these characters had prior to dying and we’ve gotten more time to know them. Plus, I imagine a good number of people didn’t see certain deaths coming. Nobody was scared of Frank dying in “2001.” Maybe some people didn’t see it coming, maybe some did, who knows really? But still, we didn’t really get to know Frank to such a high extent. While Frank’s overall character development was at a low level, I wouldn’t say it needed to be built, and I think that’s part of the genius that goes into “2001.” You get to know people, but you don’t need to see them grow or observe their backstory to care about them. It’s almost like “Dunkirk” but with less characters and a bit more detail behind certain characters.

Then we arrive at one of my dad’s absolute favorite parts of the movie, HAL’s death. While there was not as much noise that could be heard like there was in Somerville, there were definitely some audible laughs. My dad was definitely part of the laughing crew. I could tell this was one of my dad’s favorite parts of the film because he and I were quoting it on the way home.

Now I mentioned the stargate sequence in my section about Somerville, but I really want to talk about it here. I honestly had a slightly better and perhaps more memorable experience at Coolidge Corner during the stargate scene than I did in Somerville. Don’t get me wrong, Somerville was AWESOME. But one thing that stuck out to me during that scene more than any other during the movie, although if I remember correctly, may have been noticeable in others, is that part of the image, specifically towards the bottom, is off the screen. I noticed this as soon as we get to the first shots of Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite with the monolith. Coolidge Corner didn’t seem to have that same flaw. In both experiences, I just got ecstatic as the music built up. Everything was established, except for the stargate. Then we get this haunting, unbelievable, f*cked up, melt your face off, not to mention exhilarating vocalization from the chorus! It’s like I was walking into the mind of Mr. Burns from “The Simpsons!” It was like watching a Nicolas Cage movie and it’s nothing but kick-ass dream sequences! It was like going on MySpace today in 2018 and suddenly realizing it became the most popular form of social media in one night! I felt like I was having an orgasm! My dad was on a totally different thought process than I was. I always thought of the stargate sequence as a simple trip, or a journey through a wormhole and other things mish-mashed along the way, once I walked out of the theater alongside the other two people I came along with, my dad told me he thought of the video game “Rock Band” during the stargate sequence. All the colors and wild occurrences that can be witnessed throughout is what made him create that link. If you ever listen to the music during this scene, you’d be aware that the overture song is actually playing throughout portions of the sequence. The overture itself is epic when hearing it in the theater by itself before the movie starts playing, but during this scene, I was almost convinced I was in the movie. It felt like it was being played at a different volume, a different pitch, it was a whole new level of immersion and adventure. That stargate sequence, alone, is worth the price of admission. It’s to this day one of the wildest things I’ve witnessed in a movie, and I’d probably put it in maybe top 10, 20, 30 movie sequences I wouldn’t mind being forced to watch for the rest of my life.

As soon as we get to the credits, a lot of people in the theater start applauding. I don’t go to the extent that I did at Somerville where I stand up, but I did clap. As I left the theater, I got a peak into the projection booth, I noticed the film reels spinning and I couldn’t help but point it out to my sister and father. My father enjoyed the experience, you all know my thoughts on it, but what about my sister’s? Turns out this was her first time watching “2001” from start to finish, and personally, a 70mm experience such as this is one of the best ways to do it. Her thoughts on the film as a whole? From what I could tell, I wouldn’t say she didn’t enjoy it, but she found it somewhat hard to get through. For one thing, there’s a lot happening, a lot of information to be processed. Another factor that contributed is that the whole experience of getting through the movie was about three hours. I was personally wide awake. I happened to be taking on a grand opportunity to watch a great movie with people I admire in a setting that is difficult to acquire at times. In those moments, I may have handed my dad the most selfish Father’s Day gift I’ve ever given to him, but based on the time we had, it was all worth it.

Thanks for reading this promised, delayed, and perhaps long-winded thing some people might call a post! I really wanted to get this out earlier, but due to a lack of time and motivation, I screwed up. You might ask, what about the movie reviews? My movie reviews are basically the building blocks of Scene Before. This is why you haven’t seen that many countdowns lately, the only ones I’ve done so far this year are my top 10 best and worst movies of 2017. Because my main purpose behind this blog is to review movies, and I feel like that is something that can easily be associated with Scene Before. This post you’re reading right now, is just a special, rare gem, buried beneath the ground, ready to be revealed around the world. Now going back to business, I do want to review the movie “Eighth Grade.” This has already released in a couple markets, but not everywhere. I tried getting passes for an early screening, but I just got an email saying the screening was full so I can’t go. Although if I can see it when it comes out, I’ll definitely be sure to review it! I’m also going to be probably seeing something I’d tell you some time ago that I’d never see, but due to my mother’s interest in it and the fact that it’s playing at an awesome local IMAX theater, I’m planning on checking it out anyway. That movie by the way, is “Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again!” And based on the reviews I’m seeing for “Mission: Impossible: Fallout,” you can guarantee I’ll be checking that out as soon as time will allow. Stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, what are your thoughts on “2001: A Space Odyssey?” Did you get to ever see the movie in 70mm? Will you take advantage of such an experience in the future? Leave your answers to those questions below, and speaking of questions and answers… My dad who came along with me for the second experience gave the answer to the question, “What is the opposite of infinity?” The answer, the number of times my dad will go to IHOb! And based on the results of that campaign, you can sure bet that number will last forever! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!