Top Movies of the 2010s (THE BEST 25)

Top Movies of the 2010s OFFICIAL POSTER

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

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

#25: Honey Boy (2019)

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

#24: Birdman (2014)

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

#23: Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)

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

#22: Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

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

#21: Roma (2018):

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

#20: The Disaster Artist (2017)

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

#19: Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

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

#18: Inside Out (2015)

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

#17: Room (2015)

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

#16: Toy Story 3 (2010)

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

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

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

#14: Inception (2010)

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

#13: Ready Player One (2018)

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

#12: Ready or Not (2019)

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

#11: Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)

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

#10: Arrival (2016)

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

#9: The LEGO Movie (2014)

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

#8: Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

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

#7: Whiplash (2014)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#3: Colossal (2016)

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

#2: Blade Runner 2049

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

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

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

Whoops! My bad! I forgot!

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

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

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

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

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

Cats (2019): Kitty Litter

EVERYBODY:
Go see “Richard Jewell!” Clint Eastwood has done it again!
Check out “1917!” It’s heart-stopping!
Watch “The Irishman” on Netflix! It’s worth the three and a half hour runtime! It’s REAL cinema!
Hey! “Queen & Slim” is getting positive reviews!
GO SEE “STAR WARS!”
“Bombshell’s” the movie we need right now!
“Frozen II” is a great Disney sequel!
“The Two Popes!” Check it out!
Hey Jack, have you seen Amazon’s “The Aeronauts?”
“MARRRRRRIAGE STOOOOOORRRRRY!”

ME:
Hey guys, I’m going to review “Cats!”

*Beat*

…Awkward. No matter what happens, this will unite us all. It’s time to review the NON-“Star Wars” movie coming out this weekend, because this is what I was able to see early on this week. Let’s get this s*itshow overwith.

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“Cats” is directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, The Danish Girl) and stars James Corden (The Late Late Show with James Corden, The Emoji Movie), Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love, Philomena), Jason Derulo (Everybody Dance Now, Drop the Mic), Idris Elba (Pacific Rim, Thor), Jennifer Hudson (The Voice, Dreamgirls), Ian McKellan (Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Good Liar), Taylor Swift (The Lorax, The Giver), Rebel Wilson (Jojo Rabbit, Pitch Perfect), and Francesca Hayward. The plot of “Cats,” if there is one in this damn thing, is that a bunch of cats that look and walk like humans compete against each other to be the one to earn another life… That’s the best way I can describe this movie without cringing. Because holy s*it. THIS IS PUTRID.

Going into “Cats” on Tuesday night, I had two screenings to choose from. “Cats” being one of them, obviously. The other one happened to be “Bombshell,” which I said to you all that I would review. Well, expect a delay on that, when I finally got my RSVP for “Cats,” I could not pass it up, and by that I mean I wanted to wait to see “Bombshell” with somebody else, because as far as I know, there is probably not one person that would want to see “Cats” with me. Did I have any plans to watch “Cats” originally? Absolutely not. In fact, if you follow the Scene Before Facebook page, and if you aren’t following it, CLICK THIS LINK and give it a like! Anyway, if you have kept track of recent happenings there, you may have noticed this recent post…

Well guess what? I ended up dragging myself on the underfunded transportation system in the Boston, Massachusetts area, put my ass in a cinema seat, and here we are. But let me just say, I did not go into “Cats” blind. I went in having seen bunches of the marketing, including the main trailers, which honestly just creeps me out the more I think about it! I had little to no real anticipation of this movie, even though I was expecting some decent numbers and neat visuals at times. Did I get those in the end? Kind of. The visuals were nifty, but the numbers are honestly forgettable. I have never seen any other related “Cats” material, not the play, nor any other adaptation. So this movie ultimately took my “Cats” virginity. As someone who has had their first “Cats” experience of any kind, I cannot imagine myself returning to this franchise in the near future. This movie BROKE me to no end. It’s honestly up there with some of the most anger-inducing content I have seen all year. In fact, I am honestly kind of glad I went to see the movie as early as I did. I love the moviegoing experience, and going to see a movie early, depending on the film is honestly kind of thrilling. I was in a theater containing some people who were enthusiastic. One person had cat ears on, some were Taylor Swift fans, and I think the best part about this movie is that the occasional reactions from people that were given with a hint of sarcasm. There was this one moment around the first act where this guy just belted out a snarky laugh and a bunch of us played along because I think a surprising number of attendees thought this movie was going to suck balls and we had almost no expectations for it. Maybe we collectively thought this movie was cheesy or a waste of time. Who knows? The point is, if I went to see this movie in perhaps January during a dead afternoon, it probably wouldn’t be as fun or lively. The only thing I probably would have felt at that time is pure anger. Being in the environment of a free screening before a movie opens definitely helps.

BUT IT DOES NOT TAKE AWAY FROM THE CRAP I SUFFERED THROUGH!

I have been noticing something about our current moviegoing audience. We seem to enjoy two things nowadays. Granted, that’s an understatement, we seem to enjoy lots of things in reality, but the two of the commonalities I’m seeing from the general moviegoing audience is spectacle and nostalgia. There’s definitely an argument to make about “Cats” being one of the more nostalgic movies of the year. It’s based on a hit musical from the late 20th century, which was inspired by poetry from T.S. Eliot. I think a lot of older audiences will gravitate towards this film, plus younger theater admirers. And I will point out one thing that I think could have ended up being a positive about this film, specifically the prettiness that’s intact. From the marketing, there have been a lot of shots that looked nice, the neon signage everywhere kind of adds a nice touch, the film is visually appealing on the surface. And throughout, at times, I dug it for its visuals. That’s probably the biggest compliment I can give.

Earlier this year, I reviewed “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” which is one of the worst blockbusters I have witnessed in recent memory, especially when considering how FANTASTIC the trailers were leading up to its release. To this day, the only compliments I can give the film are some of the shot choices and the appealing visual effects. That’s it. “Cats” is kind of like that. Granted, I did not like the “Cats” trailers, but you probably get my point. However, the good news is, and it honestly PAINS me in the ass to say this… I’d rather watch “Cats” again. As a movie, it is technically competent. Not to mention, competently… BOOOOORRRRRRRING!

This movie technically has a plot, but when it’s presented on screen, it’s an utter mess! It’s a nice looking mess, but a mess nevertheless! I guess we’ll call it a hot mess! The movie undoubtedly is trying to rely on the spectacle provided from each number. I didn’t expect this movie to lack singing, but the singing in this movie is ENDLESS. OH MY FREAKING LORD! A good portion of the numbers are… borderline OK? I guess? But I don’t feel like I will end up remembering them. The only numbers that truly stood out to me was the one where Taylor Swift’s character was introduced, most likely because there were a few people in the crowd who were ecstatic over seeing her on screen and one heavily revolving around Laurie Davidson’s character of Mr. Mistoffelees, which I won’t go into. Again, I went into the movie not knowing much about “Cats,” so I’m gonna be somewhat vague with the material.

I am not even in the mood to go into the characters, because for one thing, there are a lot of them. It’s overwhelming. I am willing to bet that if there were fewer characters, this movie could be a tad more interesting. I will say though, even though “Cats” itself is somewhat visually attrractive, it is simultaneously off-putting. I don’t know about you guys, but I didn’t ask for a movie where Ian McKellan plays a live-action, human-like cat that is licking a plate. It’s something so unimportant, yet so horrifying. Much like the numbers, there is perhaps not even a single character that ended up standing out. Many of the characters feel like they have little to no layers, and the only thing that could end up being memorable is all of the “digital fur technology” that went into this pile of crap they call a movie.

I do not seek out musicals that often. I don’t usually watch all that many films that are heavy on musical numbers, but if I had to compare “Cats” to any other film, I’d say one of the closest examples I can give is Michael Bay’s “Transformers.” For the record, they are COMPLETELY different on almost every single level in terms of plot, genre, and character motivations. But one of the biggest compliments I can give to “Transformers” is the visuals. The effects are nothing short of amazing. I think even people who don’t like the newer “Transformers” movies can probably agree that the visual effects are nice to look at. Now, I personally enjoyed the first “Transformers.” It’s a fine action movie if you ask me, but I know the franchise is not always the most pleasing to everyone. The story is basic, repetitive from one film to the next, and some would say it almost doesn’t even matter when there are tons of explosions and American flags everywhere.

This movie doesn’t really shy away from comedy. I mean, what do you expect when there’s a seemingly sarcastic laugh during my screening? Only thing is, the comedy just doesn’t work. In fact, the jokes I remember are random cat puns. They might have been the only jokes in the movie, and they sully the experience entirely.

Why did I go see “Cats?” Well, I wanted to wait to see “Bombshell” for one thing, but I thought this would be a fun film to review. It’s one of those one of a kind, crazy experiences that I will end up remembering, but not for the right reasons. Personally, I don’t ever see myself watching “Cats” again, and I had no plans to get a cat in the near future, but this movie has officially eliminated any possibility of me wanting a cat, because if I am ever presented with an opportunity to get a cat, part of me would not stop thinking of this piece of trash. And in other news, Taylor Swift is in this movie, that picture above is of her. And SPOILER, the movie DOES NOT go into how many cats she broke up with.

In fact, let me specify about my experience of watching this film. This was a film that felt embarrassing to say the least. It’s well-crafted, but embarrassing nonetheless. Whenever I go see a film, I usually order myself a popcorn and soda to keep myself up. I didn’t do that this time. I don’t know, I guess I wasn’t in the mood for it. Maybe it’s because I was busy talking to a friend I ran into, but that’s not the point. The overall experience of seeing “Cats” feels like a dream. Because I became increasingly sleepy, increasingly bored, and the movie itself became more irrelevant than the door close button on modern elevators! There is a part of me that wanted to laugh, but it felt really hard, because at the same time, what I really wanted to do was leave. This movie overstays its welcome, even giving itself an opportunity to hammer in one final number that is so bad that it’s good. And when those stinking credits FINALLY came on screen, I let out a bellowing “THANK GAAAWWSH!” Because again, the movie broke me to shreds. You know how I said I didn’t get any popcorn or soda for this movie? Upon the leaving the film I had one thought in mind. I need popcorn, because I felt like I dredged through this movie in the same way that Bart Simpson would dredge through homework. I felt like part of my well-being has been erased. This was a well-earned treat for myself. By the way, the popcorn was f*cking satisfying. It made my cat nips go hard.

In the end, “Cats” is perhaps the most competent borefest of the year, and that really says something because… “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” was a thing. And that’s the absolute worst thing about “Cats.” It looks charming, it looks presentable, it looks nifty. Some of the camerawork is nice. But between some of the questionable editing, lame-ass script, and nearly nonexistent plot, this movie made me angrier than that kid from “Looper” whenever something goes wrong for him. I would rather poke my own eyes out with my own two hands than go see this movie again. The ensemble has a lot of big names including Idris Elba, Ian McKellan, and James Corden, but not even that could save the movie. In a way, the more I think about it, it almost makes the movie worse. Remember that movie, “The Circle” that came out a couple years ago? It’s like that. It had a list of respectable actors including Emma Watson, John Boyega, Bill Paxton, TOM FREAKING HANKS! To know that these people took on this film specifically, makes my brain leak a little bit. Again, visually appealing, but it’s not enough. I’m going to give “Cats” a 2/10. Part of me wants to give this movie a 3/10, I really do. But now that I’ve had a little bit of time to marinate, this is up there with some of the most frustrating, not to mention forgettable, movies I have EVER seen during my time on this blog. Did the crowd reactions add something? Kind of. But not entirely. To me this was just a waste of time. The only ways that this movie could end up as a 1 is if it didn’t look pretty, if the acting was the worst I’ve ever seen, or it weren’t for a couple of halfway decent moments. Nevertheless, this was an insufferable experience, and I know “Star Wars” is not getting the best reviews right now, but this is actually making me excited for “Star Wars.” I think the only way I could have ended up enjoying “Cats” is if I was perhaps very young and this was one of the first movies I have watched. Maybe one of the first in the theater. Because as long as there are cats doing things on screen, why should I care about anything else? How am I still alive? I don’t know! It’s amazing! Even so, I’m done talking about this garbage, let’s move on!

Thanks for reading this review! Stay tuned guys, because I am going to have my review up for the next film that will inevitably make a billion dollars, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” I’m going to my local IMAX theater on opening Thursday, I cannot wait! How will the film turn out? I do not know for sure, but I am endlessly curious, so let’s do this! May the force be with us! Be sure to follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account if you want greater access to the blog, and be sure to stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Cats?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite movie that is cat-related? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Blinded by the Light (2019): The Boss Shines in Luton

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“Blinded by the Light” is directed by Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham, Bride & Prejudice) and stars Viveik Kalra, Kulvinder Guhr (Goodness Gracious Me, Howards’ Way), Meera Ganatra (PREMature, The Question), Nell Williams (Game of Thrones, London Town), Aaron Phugura (Doctor Who, Informer), and Dean-Charles Chapman (Game of Thrones, Into the Badlands). This film is inspired by a true story and is about a Pakistani teenager named Javed who lives with his family in the United Kingdom. Said family usually leaves all control and decisions to their father, life is becoming increasingly tough, and this teenager, who has a passion for poetry and writing, is forced to study and follow a path his father is trying to set upon him because it is “safe,” “expected,” and “the way he likes it.” At the same time, he is introduced to the music of Bruce Springsteen, he connects the music to himself, his life, and his struggles.

I barely knew anything about the film “Blinded by the Light” before going into it. In fact, when I decided to go, it was very last minute. I was doing an impromptu train ride into the city, when all of a sudden, I saw a time for a movie on my phone that was most certainly calling my name. I was almost debating on doing something else entirely until this unexpected matter came into play. I saw ads for this film on TV and I was somewhat impressed by what I saw. Granted, I was not automatically hypnotized or compelled into buying a ticket, but if I were in a situation where I had to watch this film, I wouldn’t feel like I was being held against my will. However, I chose to buy a ticket with hard-earned money, so I strapped myself in for whatever was ahead. And one thing was for sure in the very end, I had a great time! In fact, after seeing the epic fail that is “Yesterday” over a month ago, this is just what I needed. I think The Beatles are probably better, and without argument, more culturally important than this film’s music-related subject, Bruce Springsteen (not saying I don’t like him, but still). Nevertheless, I feel as an audience member, this movie did more to honor the legacy and pay respect to Bruce Springsteen than “Yesterday” did to “The Beatles.” Interestingly though, similar to how “Yesterday” had tons of Beatles music and wasn’t mainly about The Beatles themselves, the movie is not specifically about Bruce Springsteen in general and instead focuses on someone who can qualify as a fan.

This fan’s story by the way was more fascinating than it needed to be. It focuses on how his family is close (which to his view, is too close), how he is being kept from living the life he anticipates to achieve, while also being a reminder to viewers to work in order to achieve dreams. Speaking of Javed, I think Viveik Kalra did a really good job with his portrayal and I would not mind seeing more from him.

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Speaking of excellent portrayals, I think the best acting job in the movie has to be from Kulvinder Ghir, who plays Javed’s dad, Malik. He was able to express himself as an overworked, tired, occasionally obnoxious, and pushy parent who wanted everything to go his way. As for relating to the character, I cannot really say that’s possible for me. For one thing, I am not a parent. But let’s say I was just to set an example. I would want the best for my children, I would want them to succeed, but I also would want them to be happy and follow a path that doesn’t feel forced upon them. Granted, I know there are certain customs set upon various families, but I would be understanding in a number of cases if one were to object to a certain custom. No turkey on thanksgiving? That’s one less turkey to kill! Skipping out on watching the Super Bowl? Football’s not for everyone! By the way, football is overrated and I am tired of talking about it at this point! Maybe I relate a lot more to Javed since I am in his age range, but I think there are reasons to understand where Malik is coming from. He wants the best for his son, not mention his family, while also perhaps keeping them safe.

Another great thing about “Blinded by the Light” is that while it does pay tribute to Bruce Springsteen, that doesn’t even feel like the main part of the movie. I think that’s a good thing because yes, his music can be fun to listen to, but it can take away from the story. It’s more about Javed and his relationship with the art of writing. It’s about how he wants to chase after his dreams and make himself happy. Although I will say one thing regarding The Boss and it is a slight problem. There are a couple moments that almost took me out of the movie, where it would almost turn into this Bruce Springsteen-related musical. The movie felt kind of grounded in reality for the most part, so seeing something like that almost threw me off. Having a musical vibe can work for a movie like “Rocketman” because the marketing kind of implied there would be fantasy elements in the film making the musical scenes seem kind of fitting, but not in “Blinded by the Light.”

And to be honest, that recent thing I mentioned may be my only problem with the entire film, or at least the only one that stands out front and center. Because if that was taken out, I would completely be focusing on this film’s well put together pacing (although one particular scene dragged a little), the collectively excellent chemistry, and the immense sense of joy that I have achieved while watching it. This is one of those movies where I walked out with a smile on my face. Also, I may be biased, but as a writer, this movie sort of made me want to appreciate all that I have done thus far in my life regarding the subject matter, and made me look forward to what I had in store. While I won’t go too far into it, there is this teacher in the film that if I had her for an English class or something, I would never want to get out of her sight. I’d show her my writing, come to her for advice, allow her to be honest about what I have done. She’d be honest about what I’d do, but it also seems as if she’d be appreciative. And having seen this movie, I would like to give a shoutout to everyone who has made a bad movie. Unless I am possibly talking about a film that you regret doing and probably never wanted to be part of in the first place, just remember, that film may be crap, but it is your crap. I give loads of flak to everyone who made “The Emoji Movie,” but you guys finished it, and gave it a release. It’s your movie, and you should be proud to have something be a part of your artistic history. It may not be good, but at least be proud of what you have done, even if I eventually called it the worst movie of 2017.

In the end, “Blinded by the Light” is a movie that I didn’t entirely ask for in the first place, but having seen it, it is probably the film I needed right now. It’s fun, it’s joyous, it’s attention-grabbing, and it is probably my favorite music-related movie that has come out over the past year. It’s better than “A Star is Born,” it’s better than “Bohemian Rhapsody,” it’s better than “Rocketman,” and it’s DEFINITELY better than “Yesterday.” “Blinded by the Light” shows who’s boss! I’m going to give “Blinded by the Light” an 8/10. Thanks for reading this review! This weekend is the release of “It: Chapter Two.” For those of you who have followed me on Scene Before, I have not reviewed “It” when that came out, in fact I still have not seen that movie as I write this. I don’t think I’ll get around to talking about that, but I am going to do my best to talk about “It: Chapter Two” as soon as possible. I might go see it this weekend, but if I don’t, I’ll definitely be seeing it the following weekend. After all, possibly other than “Joker,” “It: Chapter Two” could end up being the biggest R rated title of 2019. I have to stay in the know about these things, it’s my duty! If you want to look out for my “It: Chapter Two” review and other upcoming content, follow Scene Before via an email or WordPress account, and if you want to dedicate more time listening to the movie reviewing moron, click the link to my Facebook page and give it a like! I want to know, did you see “Blinded by the Light?” What did you think about it? Or, what are your thoughts on Bruce Springsteen? Do you have a favorite song of his? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Yesterday (2019): The Beatles? Who Now?

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“Yesterday” is directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) and stars Himesh Patel (EastEnders, Damned), Lily James (Baby Driver, Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again), Ed Sheeran (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Bridget Jones’s Baby), and Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live, The Angry Birds Movie) in a movie where the music icons known as The Beatles happened to be erased from everyone’s memories. However, this movie’s main character, Jack Malik is the only one who can recall who they are.

If you know me in person, you’d know that while I may not be a big music junkie, I enjoy my rock songs. The Beatles, while not my favorite band of all time, have definitely set the standards of how music should be done. They have a ton of songs, many of which are iconic and catchy, and they even were so popular that they got their own dedicated installment in the “Rock Band” video game franchise. It’s unquestionable that they have an interesting history, which makes it all the more intriguing to have this film exist. The concept is one that is absolutely worth taking on, and to top it off, Danny Boyle is the director! The guy did “Slumdog Millionaire” for crying out loud, therefore I am forever in his debt.

As of publishing this review, I will have seen the movie “Yesterday,” well, yesterday. What are my thoughts on it since yesterday? Well, part of me argues on whether or not I should be alive to see tomorrow after watching this movie. It’s a trainwreck! My gosh! If anything, “Yesterday” makes the live-action “Ghost in the Shell” movie look like “Citizen Kane!” You want to know how bad “Yesterday” was? To this day, I have yet to fall asleep to a movie in the theater. This is not the first time I have fallen asleep, but wow! There were one or two moments where I sure as hell wanted to close my eyes. The movie was anger-inducing, boring, and it even ruined “Let It Be!” You know, arguably the most well known Beatles song ever?! Yeah! There’s a scene that I won’t talk too much about in this movie where Jack Malik performs the song and it has this thing that happens, and it’s a complete turnoff. It’s a legendary song and the crew managed to sully it!

Speaking of sullying things, the writers of this movie have sullied the art of screenwriting! This film BARELY has a plot. This film BARELY has a conflict. This film BARELY kept me interested. Perhaps the only well executed scenes I’ll end up remembering from “Yesterday” are the ones that take place during concerts because they sounded immersive and happened to be very lively. But the rest of the movie almost never reaches the same level of fun. But just having good concert or music scenes is not enough for a movie like this, because the biggest thing to me that this film had going for it was the concept. If I wanted to watch this film for the concert scenes in the future, I’d either wait for it to become free on Prime Video or something, or I’d just look up said concert scenes on YouTube and just watch them there.

And this concept REALLY could have worked with the right script. The movie starts out well with its character introductions and buildup to the main story. But once the main story starts, it begins to feel like someone is constantly smashing me in the head with a guitar. Like, holy f*ck! This movie! There was a point, in fact, multiple points, where I’d shake my head in anger, question the way certain things were written, and flat out lose my mind to the point where I am almost surprised I didn’t walk out of the theater!

I will say though, despite the large amount of flak I’m giving this movie, I will give some praise to the actors, including Himesh Patel as Jack Malik. He’s a good Paul McCartney wannabe and I bought his character throughout the picture. Despite the lackluster screenwriting at times, his character, along with others, were well performed, including Ed Sheeran’s character. Although that doesn’t say much because he plays himself.

And speaking of good things, this movie has a good story about Jack getting a manager and a few other people to schedule interviews, help get music out to the public, and basically turn him into a product. One example from this bunch is Kate McKinnon’s character who I thought was charismatic and occasionally likable. I thought that was a highlight of the film and while the chemistry was mixed or off at times between certain characters, I thought it was a pretty good concept added into the movie because it shows the power of the stereotypical corporate monster. Unfortunately though, it could have been executed better. If you ask me, if you want to see an example of a movie that does this story better, just go watch Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s “A Star is Born.” Lady Gaga plays a singer who starts performing her own music, she becomes a big star, and now she is essentially a product for the world, similar to how Bradley Cooper is presented throughout the film.

But I gotta say, I might as well give an idea as to how horrible this movie really is. Why is it so bad? Guess what? As mentioned, this movie is on the literal edge of having zero stakes whatsoever. And without going into detail, there is a scene in this movie that receives expansion as soon as it is played. It had something in that scene that could have potentially made the movie better, or even worth watching to begin with. Why did it receive no expansion? BECAUSE IT’S A F*CKING DREAM SEQUENCE! As I watched this scene I felt like Simon Cowell if he had to watch C-3PO try singing on “American Idol!”

I also really hate the ending to this movie. I did not buy it for a second. There is a big collective reaction from some unidentified people that made me want to go grab a flamethrower and burst some things into flames! Like… WHAT?! I won’t spoil anything because chances are some of you have still yet to check out this movie (PLEASE DON’T!). But it’s f*cking stupid! It blows my mind on how disappointing a film from FREAKING DANNY BOYLE can be! He directed multiple films that have been nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, and now we get this crap! I thought “The Hateful Eight” from Quentin Tarantino was a disappointment. I think I actually enjoyed that more than this piece of junk! Maybe the writers are to blame too because there are just so many times where I either lost interest in the film, questioned what happened, or imagined a better scenario for where the movie should go. For the record, the movie’s screenplay is done by Richard Curtis, who has worked on other liked films such as “Love Actually” and “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” Those are films that are not really in my comfort zone, but a lot of people like them! Then again, he also did “Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again” so that might be an exception for him.

In the end, if “Yesterday” is playing at a theater near you, DO NOT take your yellow submarine there, or any vehicle for that matter. Don’t even walk there! I am not against exercise (maybe followed by a popcorn and soda), but if you are engaging in this sort of exercise at this time, just do it for a better movie like “Spider-Man: Far From Home” or “Toy Story 4!” There were one or two moments where I thought this movie could be interesting through my predictions of where it would go. And when the movie subverted my expectations in those moments, I lost the will to live. I don’t mind subversions of my expectations as long as they’re good. While “Yesterday” didn’t completely ruin The Beatles for me, even though they destroyed “Let It Be” in one scene, it did nothing but make me feel like I was about to be beheaded. This is not the worst movie of the year, it’s just painful to sit through. I’d say don’t see it, but if you are bored and want something to do, just watch the concert scenes on YouTube when you can. Those can be fun. To make this even worse, it almost seemed that recently it would be difficult to screw up a music-related movie. With projects like “A Star is Born,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “Rocketman,” music films have been on fire (while not 100% perfect) during these past months! I’m going to give “Yesterday” a 3/10. Thanks for reading this review! This Thursday I am going to be seeing Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” stay tuned for my review of that film. If everything goes right, I should have it up by the end of Sunday! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, be sure to take a look at my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Yesterday?” What did you think about it? Is it good? Am I insane? Or, what is your favorite Beatles song? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Rocketman (2019): Elton John: The Musical

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“Rocketman” is directed by Dexter Fletcher (Eddie the Eagle, Bohemian Rhapsody) and stars Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Sing), Jamie Bell (Fantastic Four, Jumper), Richard Madden (Game of Thrones, Bodyguard), and Bryce Dallas Howard (Spider-Man 3, Jurassic World). This film is based on a portion of the life of music icon Elton John. It goes over his origins as an artist, as a person, and as someone who eventually must overcome various personal weaknesses or quirks.

I don’t know much about Elton John as an artist, and he’s not the first musician I go to when I need some music to soothe the mood. It’s not to say I hate him, but unlike other artists including AC/DC or Metallica, I just don’t think to myself, “Oh yeah, Elton John! I’ll leave myself on this station for him!” However, going into this movie, I did have some expectations. One of them, specifically the least important expectation, is that it would be better than “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” Why? Because “Rocketman” came out the same weekend as that movie, I already saw “King of the Monsters,” and now I unfortunately can’t unsee it. As for other expectations, I did think that “Rocketman” would be rather fun and maybe not as much a downer type of film compared to other music-related biopics. For one thing as an example, unlike the main character of last year’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Freddie Mercury, Elton John is still alive. It’s not like we’re going to see a movie and feel like it is asking the audience, “Oh, remember him?” I’m not saying I’m bored of the whole “memory” thing, if you remember the movie “Ray,” I thought that was one of the best movies of the 2000’s and it showcased some serious downs of Ray Charles’ life. Even with that being said, I was still expecting this movie to go in a slightly different direction. “Rocketman” from the trailers looked vibrant, immersive, while at the same time, a true escape from reality. After all, one of the movie’s taglines is “Based on a true fantasy.” And I certainly did get a true escape from reality, almost a little too much. “Rocketman” is based on true events, and I know a lot of movies don’t have every detail of accuracy when it comes to basing them on reality. But “Rocketman” went into a direction that I for one did not see coming. The Wikipedia page for “Rocketman” describes the flick as a “biographical musical film.” I was expecting “biographical,” but not “musical.” In fact, this movie’s early attempts at being a musical kind of felt forced. It did become slightly more acceptable and a tad less cringeworthy as time passed, but due to my limited research on the film prior to seeing it, not to mention having certain expectations, this kind of came off as a surprise.

To put this in a short amount of words, if you went into “Rocketman” thinking you’re going to get a glimpse of what happened during Elton John’s life, I must point out that you are in fact going to get that. But it is all surrounded by tons of musical numbers, some of which kind of felt admittedly cringeworthy at first. It almost made me think I accidentally bought tickets for a Disney flick or something! Although that would be kind of amazing because this is rated R. And as the movie went on, the numbers actually almost became the biggest highlight. After all, while I am not a musical guy, one thing I can appreciate about certain musicals is the spectacle, which at times, this movie truly does have. It pulls you into the lively, flashy concerts, and takes an idea that I usually think would not fit in a biopic, but somehow the crew would manage to make it all work.

Also, Taron Egerton as Elton John? Hell yeah. I bought it completely. Definitely one of the best performances of the year so far. But it’s not even summer yet so I cannot confirm or speculate how many awards he’s going to win. And I have a feeling that part of why Egerton may have encapsulated the essential elements of Elton John is because the two have previously interacted with each other. If you remember 2017’s “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” which to me was a fun, but slightly disposable action flick, Taron Egerton plays the main character. During that film, Elton John made an appearance as himself.

Don’t go breakin’ my heart? More like, “Go breakin’ some bones!”

Does Egerton have a shot at an Oscar from here? I dunno, we’ve still got time to wonder. But much like Bradley Cooper in “A Star Is Born” from 2018, one of the biggest praises I can give to Taron Egerton is that he does his own singing. I never saw Taron Egerton as a singer, and the fact that he even made the effort to sing on his own is magnificent. Big thumbs up from me!

I also admire the direction that this film tends to go, because the way it starts off, it’s almost glamorous, almost as if I went to see a movie that takes place in a cinematic universe where all the contestants from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” team up to fight crime. Then without going into spoilers, it turns out to be… well, not that. I mentioned that this movie isn’t really the most “downer-like” of biopics, but some serious stuff manages to happen in one overarching part of the story, not to mention other parts of the film. I’m not saying the film is having trouble knowing what it wants to be, in fact, I think the tone in its entirety works for a movie like “Rocketman.” It’s big, it’s exciting, but also at the same time, slightly grounded in some sort of reality here and there. I guess I am not that surprised to see an Elton John film. A lot of famous people will get their own movie if their story can be told while being interesting and profitable. But what I am somewhat surprised by is the fashion in which we managed to get a movie like this. Because for those of you who don’t know, Elton John himself has an executive producer credit for this film. While he didn’t direct or write the film himself, this almost must have been a glimpse back, not just for the audience, but for Elton John more than anyone else. I have seen some of the film’s marketing, but I can’t say I knew everything about it going in, so let me just say, consider my last statement and see how this movie is presented. Trust me.

And I do mean this, “Rocketman” has the flair of Elton John himself, whilst presenting some peaks and valleys from his youth. He had trouble living with his parents, not to mention getting care from both of his parents, especially his father, who is nothing short of a jerkface with an extreme lack of tact.

One last thing, I also really like some of the scenes where Elton John has to present himself and his musical talent to executives. I thought those were some of the better parts of the movie and there’s one scene where an executive just keeps criticizing every music-related choice Elton John is making. It’s kind chuckle-worthy, maybe even funnier than that.

In the end, “Rocketman” is not the best movie of the year, but it probably qualifies as the most interesting. It’s quirky, it has spectacular direction, and a stellar performance by Taron Egerton. It’s no wonder that Egerton likely had John’s blessing, and if they make another movie together, whether it is another “Kingsman” or something completely different, sign me up! I will say however, to me, this is probably going to be a movie that does not have much replay value. A lot of the movie’s standout scenes, at least to me, may make for good YouTube clips, but unless I needed something to watch on a big 4K TV, I probably wouldn’t go straight back to watching “Rocketman” this instant. It’s kind of a one-off, but it’s a good one-off. I’m going to give “Rocketman” a 7/10.

But before we go any further, I do have to bring one thing up, I went to see this movie with my mother and sister, and as far as I know, this is probably the most anticipated my mother in particular has ever been for a film. And she had a ball watching it. In fact, she brought up something I would have never expected to have ever heard from her. She mentioned the movie “brought her back to her childhood.” I don’t talk about my family life much on here, but this came off as a shock to me because my mother, at least when I’m in the room, NEVER gets nostalgic over anything. And out of all the nostalgia bombs arriving in theaters today, there are few, if any, that ever brought my mother back to her youth. I think only exception in my entire life when it comes to this sort of thing would have be 2015’s  “Pixels” because it inspired my mother to play an 80’s playlist. I’m just glad that in this postmodern era of media, it’s not just people like myself who obsess over “Star Wars” or “The Incredibles” can return to the days of being a kid. Even my own mom, who to my knowledge, never tends to go back in time, just experienced time travel.

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that I scored a couple of passes to go see “Men In Black: International” next week, which is the first spinoff in the popular “Men In Black” film franchise starring Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, who coincidentally, worked closely together in “Thor: Ragnarok.” I also want to remind you all that if you have not checked it out already, I recently released my 300th post on Scene Before, which is a glance at my Blu-ray collection. It features a YouTube video going over every single solitary copy I own including special editions like 4K, 3D, Steelbook, etc. To view the post, click the link right here! 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 “Rocketman?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite song by Elton John? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Captain Marvel (2019): Not That Marvelous

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“Captain Marvel” is directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Sugar, Half Nelson) and stars Brie Larson (Room, The Glass Castle), Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Snakes On a Plane), Ben Mendelsohn (Ready Player One, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), Djimon Hounsou (Gladiator, Blood Diamond), Lee Pace (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Lincoln), Lashana Lynch (Fast Girls, Brotherhood), Gemma Chan (Mary Queen of Scots, Crazy Rich Asians), Annette Bening (American Beauty, 20th Century Women), Clark Gregg (The New Adventures of Old Christine, 500 Days of Summer), and Jude Law (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Closer). This film is the 21st installment in the cinematic universe. Good luck with your marathons, newcomers! “Captain Marvel” is about a soldier from another world who has memories of her past on Earth. As she is sent down to Earth, or as her planet’s kind calls it, “C-53,” she must combat a foreign force who can disguise themselves into other people and save the universe from further destruction.

OK… Here we go. I went into this movie rather excited. I must point out though, it is not because I am seeing the movie, but because I got to see it in the historic Chinese Theatre. This was kind of a dream of mine and I was waiting to go away to see this movie instead of seeing it on its first two nights just to make the experience special. And it was! When it comes to my familiarity with Captain Marvel, it is admittedly lower compared to other superheroes. But regardless of how familiar audiences and I are with this character, Disney and Marvel had an excellent marketing opportunity on their hands. They have never done a movie with a woman in the lead role before, so after almost eleven years of making MCU films, this is the first time this was being done. Unfortunately, it was not good.

Let me just get some things out of the way. I’m straight, I’m white, and I am a male. I am well aware that my physical and internal qualities that I can’t change, unless I go through surgery, puts me in the position of associating with the most hated type of person on the planet. So… reviewing this movie is hard. But I will say some things that I actually found to be good about the movie. This movie is kind of a crowd-pleaser. Much like a bunch of other MCU films, it had many attempts at humor, some of which totally worked. Some of the action is flashy and the visuals are very colorful. Speaking of that, the deaging done on Samuel L. Jackson is top-notch. And there are tons of callbacks to the 1990s that take up a portion of screentime.

Blockbuster Video, as seen in the trailer, plays a big role in the film. There’s a couple moments where people were laughing because of how 1990s technology worked. There was the use of Dial-up, CD-ROM had its share of screentime, and as I imagine some people expected, pagers were used in the movie.

But as a story, the movie is cliche, which would be fine because “Wonder Woman” was actually cliche and that film was actually pretty kick-ass, but the thing about “Wonder Woman” which made me not care for “Captain Marvel” is the difference in pacing. “Captain Marvel,” in reality, was a somewhat boring movie. Granted, there were parts that were exciting and entertaining, but there was a part of me that didn’t care about what was going on, I didn’t give a crap about the Kree, and after watching the movie, there are perhaps some parts that I feel like I am going to forget about in less than a month.

Let’s talk about Brie Larson in this film. I like Brie Larson as an actress. She’s very talented, she’s won awards, and she is in one of my favorite movies of 2015, “Room.” Also, I just watched “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” a movie featuring said actress, and that was one of the best films I’ve seen in recent memory. Brie Larson has a tendency to sign on to play good roles. Granted, this doesn’t always happen (watch “The Glass Castle”), but she usually has a keen eye for her roles. In fact she joined a movie that I am rather excited for the more I hear about it, “Just Mercy.” Knowing how the world of Hollywood tends to work, or at least having an illusion as to thinking I know how it works, Brie Larson definitely saw potential in a role as her particular character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Based on the legacy of said universe, I could definitely see potential. However, the execution of her performance was… I don’t know how to say this… Very off and on. The elements are all there for a decent Captain Marvel performance at the very least. A lot of the mannerisms done in the movie are all right for said character, and there is some range presented in terms of personality. But I feel like Brie Larson was at times directed to act a certain way that just didn’t work. It felt like watching multiple characters in one to the point where it is almost easy to assume Captain Marvel had multiple personality disorder. The performance just kind of didn’t work for me, which is absolutely disappointing because Brie Larson is practically an A-list actress. She won an Oscar for crying out loud! There are some moments where I found Captain Marvel to have some charisma behind her, some emotions to display, and others where she is just stoic. While there are times where such emotions (or lack thereof) can work for the movie, it is hard to tell exactly if everything flows as properly as I would hope. Speaking of proper flow…

One of the best movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Not only did it make a rather unknown comic book IP become known and loved by millions, but when the first movie came out, it was actually pretty unique as far as comic book movies go. And one way that statement can be supported is through the movie’s soundtrack. Not only is it fun to listen to, but it has practically had an association with the movie in a way that many other soundtracks don’t. While “Captain Marvel,” unlike “Guardians,” doesn’t rely on a soundtrack for music all that much (maybe except for 90s’ references), there is this one moment where a pop song can be heard. I won’t go into much detail, but it is during a fight. If the crew behind this film was trying to capitalize on the success of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” then I can totally see that. But it didn’t f*cking work. In fact, that “Guardians”-esque moment, might just be the most cringeworthy part of the entire movie. And for those of you who know what I am talking about, I don’t know if you will agree with me, but this is just how I feel. In fact, it totally wouldn’t surprise me if some of these songs were put in because of “Guardians of the Galaxy’s” popularity because Nicole Perlman worked on this movie, earning herself a story credit. For the record, she was a writer behind “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

I will give some credit to Samuel L. Jackson however because like usual, he did a fine job as Nick Fury. And I will give even more credit to whoever deaged him. Sticking with the “Guardians of the Galaxy” theme, one of the highlights of the truly disappointing “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” was the deaging CGI done on Kurt Russell. It was nice to see Nick Fury not only have hair, but believable looking hair. Jackson’s performance as Fury was definitely worth buying for how such a character would behave in the 1990s. However, without going into spoilers, there is something that happens in this film that references something in the future, and it takes place during the end of the film (no, not during the credits, around the climax). It is absolutely crucial to Fury’s character. The way that this film manages to go about it, managed to get a big laugh from the audience, but I thought this GIF would sum up my thoughts on this whole situation.

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Now imagine a part of my brain saying that for an eternity, and you have my thoughts on this moment towards the end of the climax.

And I gotta say, I feel like I am in a weird place as I review this movie. I am a straight white male. I have nothing against women having their own superhero. What I am against however is when people think take the idea of gender equality and twist it to make one gender look better than the other, and I will say, despite “Captain Marvel’s” numerous flaws, not to mention its overall lack of memorability, one of its strengths is that it made a woman look good as a role model, while not exactly putting guys down. If you have ever seen me talk about the 2016 “Ghostbusters,” chances are you know my thoughts on that movie, and none of them are good. One thing I absolutely hated about the 2016 “Ghostbusters” movie is that it went out of its way to display moments that practically make just about every man in the movie look like idiots. There’s a secretary played by Chris Hemsworth who literally makes Patrick Star look like a genius. They ruin the reputation of Bill Murray. And there’s a scene where the ladies shoot a giant ghost in the nuts. There are no moments where I feel like if I had a place in the “Captain Marvel” movie’s universe where I’d have an IQ below 40. Thanks, “Captain Marvel!”

I don’t really have too much more to say in terms of my own originally gathered thoughts, but I will point out that when it comes to “Captain Marvel,” I feel like this movie manages to disappoint me in more ways than I would imagine. While the villain in this film could definitely be worse, I feel like we are going back to phase 1 and even phase 2 MCU, because the villain here was just not memorable. And speaking of villains I don’t really find to be all that great, Ronan the Accuser apparently had a few moments in this film! Like… OK… More “Guardians of the Galaxy” stuff, whoppity do! I have no idea why you even needed much of Ronan’s presence in the movie, but somehow he’s here! Then again, his appearance, much like the film’s main antagonist, could definitely be worse.

Also, another thing to consider about “Captain Marvel” is that this is the 21st film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Now that we have gotten to this point, it is getting harder to impress me because a viewer, it almost feels like I’ve seen everything. Granted, there are some unseen things in “Captain Marvel.” This is the first female-led film in the franchise, this is the first film to take place mainly in the 1990s, and it is also the first film where we get to see a cat play a significant role.

By the way, if anyone wants to know my thoughts on Goose the Cat, I thought he was funny, but I don’t think I liked him as much as other people. Although I imagine this character is going to inspire some people to create some funky, psychedelic t-shirts, which if that is the case, I can’t wait.

However, going back to my main point, I have been a follower of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for years. And with following, comes knowledge, and having a competent knowledge of the MCU, to MAYBE hold my own in a related trivia competition, makes me realize that a lot has happened over the years. There are times when material might just seem like something we’ve seen in the past, but with a different name attached. “Captain Marvel,” the more I think about it, just seems like a newer, inferior version of “Thor” with elements of “Captain America: The First Avenger” intact. You have this god-like being who is trying to find their identity or place in the universe, and part of it takes place in space, while another portion is set on Earth. Plus, it is another fish out of water story.

Also, before we get into the verdict section, I will point out a statement from MCU executive Kevin Feige.

“Captain Marvel, she is as powerful a character as we’ve ever put in a movie. Her powers are off the charts, and when she’s introduced, she will be by far the strongest character we’ve ever had.”

Having now seen “Captain Marvel,” I am definitely not going to deny that Captain Marvel is powerful as hell. However, as far as her character being the most powerful of all, that is still up for debate. At least from my point of view. And speaking of which, there is a climactic moment towards the movie that was probably played for comic relief, but it also made a certain moment feel rushed and kind of cheap. More powerful does not always mean more exciting. And I say this whole “power” thing is up for debate for one reason and one reason only.

Can Captain Marvel do this? I’ll wait… I’ve got years of my life left, which give tons of time to provide an answer.

In the end, I hate to say it, but “Captain Marvel is one of the worst movies of the MCU. Granted, that statement might not say all too much as very few have actually gotten a low score from me. I go to the movies for memorable experiences, and many of the MCU’s installments have provided said experiences. I basically put my money on the table for “Captain Marvel,” because again, I went to the Chinese Theatre, which is MILES from where I live, and I literally mean MILES, because I am from Massachusetts. The Chinese Theatre is states away! I had a good time, and I would love to come back. After all… There is a “Star Wars” movie coming out soon… But the whole experience would have been perfect if I went to see a better movie, and “Captain Marvel” was just not that great. I am happy for women who are getting a hero they want to look up to, but I am not judging “Captain Marvel” completely as a feminist piece, I am judging it as a film. As a film, “Captain Marvel” is visually appealing, which is not surprising at this point for a comic book movie. It is pacing-wise, perhaps the worst of the twenty-one films presented in this series. And I felt that I wouldn’t pop this in my Blu-ray player right away if I had the chance. There is a mid-credits scene worth staying for, and there is another scene that happens towards the end. It is honestly unneeded, but if you like your end credits scenes, there’s your update. I’m going to give “Captain Marvel” a 4/10. I honestly don’t know if this grade is going to stay where it is. Because I honestly didn’t like this movie, but part of me had glimmers of enjoyment. And part of me also wonders if I am being generous because this movie stars a woman. I didn’t find myself to be angry throughout the film, so maybe this is technically a 4/10 for me. Only time will tell if this grade manages to stay where it is. And I gotta point out something regarding this “Captain Marvel,” DC did this type of film better! How often do I get to say that? Maybe they screwed up on “Suicide Squad,” the effects on “Justice League,” and keeping a singular vision alive, but they managed to do a female-led film better than Marvel, and that is an accomplishment for DC if I have ever seen one. “Wonder Woman” over “Captain Marvel” for sure, if you ask me! Thanks for reading this review! I actually wanted to make an announcement regarding April, while most of the month is uncertain in terms of content (although an “Avengers: Endgame” review is a undoubted guarantee), I do have a confirmation for you all. For those you who follow the director Terry Gilliam, you may be familiar that he worked on films such as “Brazil” and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Recently however talk has been going around regarding his new film, “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.” For those who have ever heard of this film, you may be aware that production for it actually took decades to complete. Why? Total and utter disaster, that’s why! Anyway, here in the US, it is playing in several theaters for one night. Courtesy of Fathom Events, I have scored a ticket to one of these shows on April 10th! Next month, expect a review from “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote,” and if it takes forever to complete… Who knows? It could be just like the movie and go through several failures regarding production! Be sure to follow Scene Before with your WordPress account or email to catch that review and more great content! I want to know, did you see “Captain Marvel?” What did you think about it? Or, have you been to the Chinese Theatre? What did you see? What was your experience like? I personally enjoyed it, minus the movie. But I want to hear about your experience! Let me know about it in the comments section! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Cold War (2018): The Colorful Technology of Amazon Meets Black and White

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“Cold War” is directed by Pawel Pawlikowski (Ida, My Summer of Love) and stars Joanna Kulig and Tomasz Kot as a music director and a singer who eventually find themselves in an unlikely romance. The music director is also trying to get the singer to flee Poland and enter France alongside him.

I actually heard some things about “Cold War” before going into it, but my prior knowledge didn’t really encompass of much. The main thing I did know however is something that I imagine a number of people don’t truly care about, which is the fact that this movie, at least in the United States, released on the infamous December weekend of death. It was released alongside big features including “Aquaman,” “Bumblebee,” and “Mary Poppins Returns.” Not to mention, another disadvantage this movie had is that it is a foreign film. And as much as everybody hates America right now for how it is being run as a country, many Americans can’t turn down a Hollywood film. I am usually the type of person who doesn’t care what country a film comes from. As long as a film is properly executed or well done, I can approve of it. And regardless of where this film in particular comes from, I enjoyed it.

From a technical perspective, “Cold War” shines. The film is presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio, which is rare for a film nowadays, but at the same time, has happened in the past with recent films like “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” It successfully provides an old-timey feel. Speaking of old-timey things, the film is also in black and white. Artistically speaking, I can approve of such a choice because this film does take place between the 1940s to 1960s, when not everything has been put in color yet. Speaking of things that are quirky by today’s standards, one thing I found interesting is that if the film makes a time jump, it cuts to black and goes back to providing images in a snap. There are also various shots containing a plethora of information and it is just f*cking beautiful. I won’t go into detail, but the ending shot reminded me of Orson Welles’ “The Third Man” and Robert Zemeckis’ “Cast Away.” And I’m surprised to say that because this movie, again, is entirely shot in 4:3. Although at the same time, the more square-like images can make the information provided feel crammed, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. It almost reminds me of when I go to see certain movies in IMAX like “First Man” or “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” because those have scenes shot in IMAX and when you go into the IMAX theater to see the movie, the screen fills up for a period of time, taking a break from the scope aspect ratio.

Moving onto our two main characters, Zula and Wiktor, the best thing I can say about them is that they actually feel like a real couple at times. Not all the time, but there are many times where their relationship feels extremely authentic. I will say however, I did see the movie earlier this week, specifically Tuesday, and to give you a sense as to how I feel about this film as a story, I will remind you that I saw this in an art-deco theater. If you live in the Boston area, there’s a possibility you may have heard of the Coolidge Corner Theatre. It’s probably one of the most gorgeous and state of the art cinemas I’ve ever set foot in. I saw this movie in their largest auditorium, which has the old-timey red curtain, and I found myself to enjoy it. But days after viewing the movie, I almost don’t even recall a good portion of it. Whereas just the other day, specifically Saturday, January 19th, I just saw “Roma” at that same theater. I still remember it, I can’t stop thinking about it, and I can’t recommend it enough. “Cold War” on the other hand is a good movie, but really stands out more from a technical point of view as opposed to a character point of view.

When it comes to “Cold War” as a movie, it sort of reminds me of “Hail, Caesar!” directed by the Coen Brothers. “Hail, Caesar!” is a beautifully shot movie, which is not that surprising since it was done by Roger Deakins, who recently, FINALLY won an Academy Award for his work on “Blade Runner 2049.” Hell, both movies even have great moments of music and choreography! However, in terms of overall quality from characterization and other parts related to the story, that’s where the movie leaves a little bit to be desired. Granted, on paper, the movie sounds like a good, intriguing story, but the fact is, much of it is actually not that memorable. “Cold War” is kind of the same thing. It sort of attempts to harken back to a certain time period with as much purposeful authenticity intact. Granted, there is fiction inserted throughout the entire runtime, but said fiction is taking place in a time that realistically happened, and such a thing manages to provide a quirky vibe for both films. They aren’t exactly the same considering how “Hail, Caesar!” is sort of marketed to be more fun, but “Cold War” is advertised as a more serious, compelling drama.

I’m not saying I have the inability to sit through movies like “Cold War” that are sometimes slow in terms of pacing, which coincidentally is a minor problem at times. Although what I am saying is that this movie just kind of underwhelmed me. Granted, it didn’t underwhelm me all that much. When I watched it, I had a certain positive score for it in my mind once I left the theater, which by the way still stands. Plus, this movie is not even that long. The total runtime comes out to an hour and twenty-nine minutes. Although at the same time, maybe it did feel long because I did something I am somewhat ashamed to have done.

*Clears throat*

Forgive me father for I have sinned.

I had my phone on during the movie. Now don’t worry, the ringer was off! I often leave my phone on with my ringer silent during many of my moviegoing experiences. But given how I don’t have a watch on me, and since I don’t have an iPhone, nor do I care to possess an iPhone, meaning I never wasted hundreds of bucks on an Apple Watch, I put my hand in my pocket, took my phone out, and checked the time. If I recall correctly, the brightness was low. Also, don’t worry that much! There were a few other people in the cinema alongside me, I only had it on for a few seconds to check the time, the screen was hidden from everyone’s sight, then I shut it down and put it away!

Man, that felt good and horrible at the same time.

In the end, “Cold War” is kind of an enigma. I don’t really hate the movie, but over the past few days, bits and pieces of it are continually being erased from my mind. Granted, now that I am back in college, certain assignments and classes are affecting my time to keep this blog up to date, but still. Although on the bright side, the fact that I am reviewing this now as opposed to immediately once I get home from the theater might actually be a positive thing because I reviewed certain movies like “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” I gave that film a 9/10 when I first saw it. Why did I give it a 9/10? Because I was a crazy fanboy that had certain requests I wanted fulfilled with the film. And while at the time, I had those requests fulfilled, little did I realize how much I would come to hate the movie in the very end. To sum it up, “Cold War” is one of the best-looking movies of the year, but story-wise, needs a boost, at least for me. I don’t know if this grade will make sense, or surprise some of you, but this movie was still enjoyable enough, and likable enough, that I’m going to ultimately give “Cold War” a 7/10. And who knows? Maybe the second time watching this will be better. It is coming to Prime pretty soon since it is an Amazon movie, so I can watch it for free in the future if need be. For all I know, maybe it will somehow be worse. It’s hard to tell. We’ll just have to see what happens. Thanks for reading this review! And if you have made it to the end of this post when it was released, congratulations! You picked a good post to read! Because this Sunday, I am planning to release my ultimate list of my nominees for the upcoming Scene Before Jackoff Awards ceremony. I am not going to say whether “Cold War” actually is nominated or not, but I will point out that this might be the last 2018 movie I watch before the nominees are announced. I might be going to see “On the Basis of Sex” this weekend, I don’t know for sure, but it is a possibility. But speaking of movies, I will admit that I have seen a 2019 movie recently by the name of “Serenity.” And no, this is not attached to the “Firefly” franchise, this is entirely different. My review for that will be up very soon, I’m not sure if I’ll release my “Serenity” review before or after the nominations, but it is a 2019 movie so it won’t even count in this current ceremony. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with a WordPress account or an email so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Cold War?” What did you think about it? Or, since I can praise this movie’s final shot, what is your favorite concluding shot to a movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018): This Movie Will Rock You, and Occasionally Drop a Rock Over You

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“Bohemian Rhapsody” is directed by Bryan Singer (X-Men, Jack the Giant Slayer) and stars Rami Malek (Night at the Museum, BoJack Horseman) and is about the story of Queen and its singer, Freddie Mercury. We get glimpses into the formation of Queen itself, Mercury’s personal life, and how the band went on to become the huge success and inspiration powerhouse that it is.

If you ask me what my favorite genres of music are, chances are that one of my answers would be rock. Queen formed during a time of rock and roll bands being pretty much in their prime. As we look back on them today, they’ve helped shape the genre with iconic beats, lyrics, and how their music has blended into our pop culture. One of my all time favorite scenes from a comedy that’s not necessarily funny is the pep rally scene during “Revenge of the Nerds” where “We Are the Champions” is playing as the nerds achieve victory against the jocks. One of my favorite songs that I often don’t typically quote as being a favorite song happens to be the movie’s title, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” There so many elements to that song that separates it as its own thing whereas all the other songs follow a certain formulaic rhythm. While some may consider songs not following a rhythm a giant flaw, “Bohemian Rhapsody” manages to make such an odd quality work extremely well. Speaking of which, the creation of this song basically highlights something I’ve noticed while watching this movie, and something that I often think about when it comes to the movie industry.

One of my favorite movies of all time is “Blade Runner 2049.” Much like its predecessor, it failed at the box office. As far as the domestic total goes, it didn’t make its budget back. One reason behind this is probably likely due to the movie’s runtime coming in around two hours and forty-three minutes. There’s a part of the movie where we see “Bohemian Rhapsody” coming to life, and the executive is basically denying permission to let the public hear the song. Queen’s band members think their song is nothing short of a masterpiece, but as we all know, corporations are about money. This is where the phrase “time equals money/money equals time” comes into play. The executive thinks the song is too long, six minutes to be specific, which leads to a fantastic sex joke by the way. When it comes to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” I assume a lot of people can look at a song like that today and say that it was created with a purpose to stand out from other songs. This is why I think modern music sucks. Most of the modern music I hear, especially those songs that play on loop on the radio for all of eternity, all seem to have similar patterns or formulas. It’s almost as if every song is an obvious remix of each other. Oh yeah, and with most modern music, technology has basically ruined a lot of it. Moments like this shows that it is sometimes OK to take risks and throw money out the window for the chance of an everlasting success. In terms of scenes, this was most certainly the highlight of the movie for me. As far as characters go, it’s gotta be Freddie Mercury.

Freddie Mercury is played by Rami Malek, but in reality, to say Malek “played” Freddie Mercury is a bit of understatement. In my book, Malek transformed into Mercury. In terms of singing, it is a slight disappointment that Malek is lip-syncing, but at the same time, I can’t help but praise him for everything else. Everything from the mannerisms, the moves, and while this may be more of a compliment towards costume design, I have enormous praise for the outfits he’s got on. As far as his performance goes, I don’t know if it will win him an Oscar, but he certainly comes close as far as this year is concerned. In fact, I will admit, funny enough, when it comes to my overall knowledge of Queen, the way I view Freddie Mercury’s performance in this film is somewhat similar to how I view Queen in general. I for one definitely know Freddie Mercury and who he is. The other band members, I don’t really know their names, so why should I give a f*ck? That’s not to say that they aren’t good in this movie. All of their actors have done a great job at delivering effective performances, but they don’t stand out that much compared to Malek’s. Then again, that could be because “Bohemian Rhapsody” is more of a Freddie Mercury movie than anything else. Sure, it has Queen. Yes, it has songs from Queen in it. Although it gets through the life of Freddie Mercury in terms of seemingly important plot points. And the more I think about it, it does make sense, the only original member of Queen to have passed away was Mercury himself. Not to mention, the marketing seems to make the movie a lot about Mercury. In the first trailer for this film, it explicity states in text form: “The only thing more extraordinary than their music is his story.” Boom, now you know it’s a Freddie Mercury movie. I will say though, this brings me to some slight confusion about the title. I know Freddie Mercury sings “Bohemian Rhapsody,” but in reality, it is a QUEEN song, executed by multiple members. If you really wanted to smack-dab a sticker on this movie saying “THIS IS UNARGUABLY A FREDDIE MERCURY STORY,” just call it “Mercury.” Sounds kind of epic if you ask me. The more I think about the “Bohemian Rhapsody” movie, the more I think about Freddie Mercury. The other members of Queen just aren’t sticking out to me. It would be like the 2004 movie “Ray.” What’s the movie about? Ray Charles. Granted when I think of Ray Charles, I don’t think of any particular band, but still, if you are going to have your movie revolve around maybe one character as opposed to a band, take my suggestion into consideration. I’m not saying “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a terrible name. It’s an awesome name no matter where you slap it. Not to mention, for a movie like this, it’s still more than marketable. As far as any other performances go, the only one to me that truly stands out is Mike Myers (Shrek, Austin Powers) as the executive I talked about earlier.

If there was one big criticism I had with the movie however, it is some of the writing. This movie is obviously going for some Academy Awards, but I think screenplay is not one that will be achieved. While most of the writing is actually pretty decent, there are a couple of moments I just wasn’t able to believe. These moments just felt rather Hollywoodized. Granted, it’s a movie, and not everything has be crystal clear to reality, but these moments just felt like something I wouldn’t be able to believe. If this movie were pure fiction or a fantasy than maybe I’d buy into a couple of these moments I’m talking about, but I just don’t buy them here. Other than that, I’d say “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a fine movie and certainly worth watching in the theater. If you thought watching “A Star Is Born” is awesome in the theater, it might become somewhat obvious that watching “Bohemian Rhapsody” in the theater would have a similar effect.

Speaking of the theater, I want to go back to what I said earlier about the production of the “Bohemian Rhapsody” song. One of the complaints the executive had in the movie is that the song goes on forever. Let’s face it, a movie about Queen and Freddie Mercury is very likely something people would go out and see. And to prove it even more, IT BEAT A DISNEY MOVIE on its opening weekend. That same weekend by the way, it made less than a million dollars under its overall budget in the US alone! This film is two hours and fourteen minutes long. I wouldn’t consider this film to be a “long” movie, but once I walked out of the auditorium, I heard someone’s conversation calling the movie a bit long as far as they are concerned. I managed to find it hilarious, and maybe a little less than satisfying, to discover that the story to the “Bohemian Rhapsody” song would actually apply to the results of the “Bohemian Rhapsody” movie. To me, this movie reminded me of why I usually choose to enjoy every little moment of what I watch, as opposed to putting my head down waiting for the third hour to pass.

In the end, “Bohemian Rhapsody” had the exhilaration of a concert and at times, the joy of looking at a wax museum. Rami Malek shines as Freddie Mercury. The cinematography really immersed me into the story. The concert scenes were wild and fun. The costume design also deserves tremendous kudos. Is it a little over the top? At times, sure. But it doesn’t take away from the true spirit of Freddie Mercury and Queen itself. “Bohemian Rhapsody” is definitely worth your time, especially for a watch in the theater. I’m going to give “Bohemian Rhapsody” a 7/10. One last thing before I go, when I saw this movie, I witnessed it at an IMAX, and those theaters have given me some of my all time best experiences, but this time the trailers were playing and all of sudden the footage stopped and we were staring at a green frame for maybe five minutes. I have never had so much fun with a movie experience going wrong in my life. Thanks for reading this review! Please stay tuned for more content coming down the road because sometime soon I will be posting my thoughts on this year’s Rhode Island Comic Con! I’ve gone for the fourth year in a row, had a great time, and as someone who has gone for multiple years, I am excited to point out something that has probably been done differently than years before that counts as a complaint from the years prior that has now been somewhat resolved. Those of you who attend the con might know what I’m referring to. Without giving any hints, I’d just like to remind everyone to follow Scene Before either with a WordPress account or an email so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Bohemian Rhapsody?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Queen song? 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!