Knives Out (2019): 2019’s Pop Culture Murder Mystery Dinner

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“Knives Out” is directed by Rian Johnson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Looper) and stars… well, pretty much everyone you know. To be completely serious though, “Knives Out” stars Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049, Exposed), Chris Evans (Captain America: The First Avenger, Gifted), Daniel Craig (Skyfall, Logan Lucky), Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween, Scream Queens), Michael Shannon (Take Shelter, The Shape of Water), Don Johnson (Miami Vice, Nash Bridges), Toni Collette (Hereditary, The Sixth Sense), Lakeith Stanfield (Sorry To Bother You, Get Out), Katherine Langford (13 Reasons Why, Love, Simon), Jaeden Martell (It, The Book of Henry), and Christopher Plummer (All the Money in the World, The Sound of Music). Holy crap, that’s a lot of names.

“Knives Out” takes place in the middle of Massachusetts and it typically centers around the interactions of a family after the death of a patriarch. Everybody gathers around a large house, everybody’s got a story, everybody’s got a motivation, but it is also up to a detective (Daniel Craig) to settle everyone down and find out the truth regarding what happened.

The murder mystery genre for me is kind of like horror, because I never take too many chances to dive into the genre itself. Granted, horror, at least to me, is a tad more predictable because it seems to have more of a staying power in today’s society, so I personally prefer the murder mystery genre. In fact, my favorite “Family Guy” episode ever, “And Then There Were Fewer,” is a murder mystery, so I do have some respect for the genre. And honestly, when it comes to Rian Johnson, I will admit that I have had a slight bad taste in my mouth because of the way he handled “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” It’s a film that just got significantly worse after I first saw it. In fact, when I watched it a second time, I was kind of turned off by the result. I say that because I wanted the movie to go in a different direction than say “The Empire Strikes Back,” which is a great movie. However, despite the everlasting love and affection I have for 2015’s “The Force Awakens,” one minor flaw with that movie is the way they manage to basically rehash the earliest “Star Wars.” Granted, it’s a fantastic homage which had many repeat viewings for me. But as much as I originally appreciated it for going in a different direction, a lot of the choices they made to go in such a direction were sort of faulty and questionable.

However, having seen that movie, I now know that Johnson might as well be one to subvert expectations. Here’s the thing. Murder mysteries are supposed to keep you guessing. If this movie could keep me on the edge of my seat and questioning everything, then I’d walk out satisfied.

Honestly, I went into this movie with an idea of what is going to be. It turns out, I got something better than what I thought I would get. And that says a lot because the hype behind this movie felt real for me. The production design is some of the best I have seen all year. The acting, not to mention casting in general, is perfect. Everyone from Daniel Craig to Ana De Armas to Toni Collette, everyone served their roles properly and put a smile on my face.

I’ll just say though, I think the two most popular award ceremonies that have to with movies are the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. I have had a history of talking about both ceremonies on here, especially the Academy. But I never usually talk about another popular ceremony, the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) Awards. One of the biggest awards they present on the night of the ceremony is one given to the entire ensemble of actors. We still have about a month left before 2019 is over, and a little longer than that until the ceremony takes place, but I’d argue that at this point, “Knives Out” has an extremely solid chance at winning such an award. I think purely based on how Rian Johnson has to handle so many actors at once, many of whom happened to already establish their name in the industry, including a couple who are a bit lesser known, there is a chance “Knives Out” could walk away with the biggest award from that ceremony.

One of the more solid examples that could let that case be true is Daniel Craig, who plays Benoit Blanc in the film. His performance, was part of what set the tone for the entire movie for me. Daniel Craig, while taking his performance seriously, realizes that this movie is sort of supposed to be fun. His introduction scene almost made me think I was watching something from Wes Anderson, because it is charming, quirky, and based on the way it was directed, I was perhaps hypnotized to leave the film, regardless of whether or not I liked it, admiring Craig in all his glory.

Another standout performer to me is one of the leads, Chris Evans. I think most of what I love about this performance has mainly to do with the screenplay and how the character is written. I say that because the movie is full of tense dialogue between characters, which allows serious vibes to kick in, but Evans manages to play a character who is incredibly laid back and sort of a smartass. Do I think other people could have played his character? Personally, yes, I think I could have played it if I tried, because if I were in this situation, this is probably how I would act. I’d try to have fun with the seriousness at hand, while also trying to deal with the current situation.

As for smaller roles, I think there are a number of them that stand out. Jamie Lee Curtis, Jaeden Martell, but the one I want to talk about is the one given by Toni Collette. I think Collette is not only a great performer here, but brought such life to her character that I cannot imagine anyone else bringing at all, or at least without being cringeworthy. Collette’s character sort of reminds me of a crazy aunt who likes to party. Maybe another good example is the mother from ABC’s “The Goldbergs,” minus the toxic affection she has for offspring. In a way, she’s almost like Chris Evans’ character, because as much as everyone else may be moody or depressed, which she kind of is at times, but still, she has a somewhat happy outlook on current happenings. Either that or she may just have some sort of God-given charisma that nobody else can have.

But if you ask me, I think the best performance in the film is given by Ana de Armas, an actress who I personally happened to have liked before this film came out, and someone who may been the main reason why this film was originally put on my radar. For the record, Ana de Armas was one of the supporting roles in my 2nd favorite film of 2017, and one of my favorite sci-fi films of the decade, “Blade Runner 2049.” She has this ability to take a challenging role and own it. Because in that movie she played a holographic woman that was supposed to have a connection to whoever owned them. The complexity of that role involved being someone who is robotic enough to serve their master, while also being human enough to understand emotion, because in that movie she was someone who happened to be in love with the main character. At the same time, it was almost as if she was a product of the main character’s desires.

As for this movie, we get more of a glance at a character where Ana de Armas has a personality where she is more worried about saving herself. In fact, I mentioned earlier that Daniel Craig presented himself as this quirky, out of nowhere detective. If you ask me, I think the biggest quirk in the movie didn’t necessarily come from him, and instead, came from Ana de Armas. Because she plays a character who practically cannot lie. If all other people were like her, she’d make the lie detector test obsolete. I say that because her character cannot tell a lie, otherwise she throws up. This makes every scene where Armas is forced to tell a truth or where she is being questioned all the more intriguing because not only was I, as an audience member, hypnotized to follow the mystery as it was unraveled, but I was also somewhat concerned for the character’s sanity, health, and sense of self.

From a technical standpoint, the cinematography in the film is amazing. The various dutch angles fit a number of the scenes and sort of had an old Hollywood vibe. The music is outstanding. By the way, such music is composed by Rian Johnson’s cousin, Nathan Johnson, who also worked with him in films like “Brick” and “Looper.” I think Rian Johnson could have a chance for being nominated in the Best Director category, I think his vision helped this movie immensely. This honestly feels like a movie that only he could have done. Maybe one or two other people could do this, but this feels like a personal project. And as much as I despise “The Last Jedi,” I could see what Rian Johnson was trying to do with that movie, because he not only directed that film, but he wrote it as well. “Star Wars” to me, must be a more collaborative piece of media to work on at this point, and with “The Force Awakens” pointing in a certain direction, it admittedly feels odd looking back to see one man with perhaps a sole vision take over for a big film that could expand on previous lore and build up to the next one which happens to conclude a trilogy. These are the kinds of films that I would prefer to see Johnson tackle. Could he do another big franchise in the future? Maybe, but I want to see more of his original work. Media that feels like something only he could own.

I honestly don’t even know what problems come to mind with “Knives Out.” The camerawork is some of the best I have seen all year. The characters are all charismatic. The screenplay is nothing short of outstanding. The ending, as well done as it is, is little choppy in buildup. As for other problems, if there are any, they are a bit hard to point out. Overall, this movie kicks ass!

In the end, “Knives Out,” the movie with perhaps the most badass title of all time, packs a brutal punch of bloody goodness. It is easily one of the best movies of the year, and a step in the right direction for Rian Johnson as a filmmaker. I have not checked out his earlier work, but I really want to check out “Looper.” Films like these are the ones I’ll be excited for when it comes to Rian Johnson’s filmography. Films that are original, exhilarating, and keep me on the edge of my seat. If I have to say one more thing, I will suggest that you’d go see this movie with the biggest crowd you can. If you have one of those theaters with reserved seating near you, buy your tickets online and see how many people have already reserved seats. If there many seats reserved already, I implore you, PLEASE buy a ticket to that show because this is a movie where crowd reactions enhance the experience to the tenth degree. I’m going to give “Knives Out” a 9/10.

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Thanks for reading this review! Just want to announce to everyone reading that during this Thanksgiving weekend, I am going to be showing off my newest trailer for “Top Movies of the 2010s,” a project I plan to release this January, it is going to be the most ambitious countdown series I have done yet, and I cannot wait to share it with you all! If you want to be notified about this trailer, here’s what you can do. Follow Scene Before with an email, or if you want greater access, use a WordPress account! If you are on Facebook, check out MY PAGE and give it a like! I want to know, did you see “Knives Out?” What did you think about it? Or, who happens to be your favorite fictional dysfunctional family? It can be from anything, books, movies, TV, you name it! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Ad Astra (2019): Cliff Booth Goes to Space

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“Ad Astra” is directed by James Gray (The Lost City of Z, The Immigrant) and stars Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, World War Z), Tommy Lee Jones (Men in Black, The Fugitive), Ruth Negga (Preacher, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Liv Tyler (Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Incredible Hulk), and Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games, Ordinary People). This film is about an astronaut by the name of Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) and he is trying to fulfill a space mission with one person in mind. Specifically, his father. But it’s not easy, it is in fact, as this movie presents, dangerous to the tenth degree.

I. Love. Space movies. Period. Some of the best movies of the decade have primarily taken place in space. So naturally, I was curious about “Ad Astra.” I will say though, compared to other years, “Ad Astra” didn’t seem to have the same level of anticipation that I had for say “Interstellar” or “The Martian” as they were coming out. But, it doesn’t mean I didn’t take whatever anticipation I DID have into account. This is being released at the end of the summer into the beginning of the fall, which is around the kickoff of awards season. Plus, Brad Pitt is playing the starring role, which is something that is totally attention-grabbing for this year because Pitt just had the scene stealing role as Cliff Booth in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

Before going into the auditorium to sit down and watch the movie, I have been exposed to tons of positive word of mouth regarding the film’s technical aspects. Let me just say off the bat, to every person who said this movie is cinematography gold, you are 100% correct. And I can totally see why, because this movie is shot by Hoyte Van Hoytema, who shot another wonderful space adventure during the decade, specifically “Interstellar.” And he also shot “Spectre,” which had one of the most incredibly well-done opening scenes in a recent action film. And at times, you can say this film has thrills and vibes that maybe a film like “Interstellar” also had. But you can also say that much like “Interstellar,” it’s slow at times. Now “slow burns” are not a bad thing. As long as the “slow burn” is used to execute the story well, then I’m all for it. But that is something to keep in mind, because “Interstellar” was still entertaining and somewhat compelling at its slow moments, this movie is just… f*cking dull.

I mean, it’s not bad! But it’s utterly forgettable! This movie sort of reminds me of the most recent movie I reviewed, “Brightburn.” If “Brightburn” were considered an organism and had a personality, I wouldn’t be surprised if I had to take it to a professional to see if it could diagnose it with a minor disability. This film is sort of on the same level. Would I immediately go back and watch the movie a second time? Probably not, but maybe I would, there’s always a chance. But if there were any reason to pay attention, I’d say it would be due to certain well thought out and executed concepts.

One sci-fi flick I often think about is “Star Wars,” and one reason is because of their “spaceports,” which to me, are futuristic versions of airports, even though that movie takes place “a long time ago in a galaxy far far away.” And guess what? One of the standout scenes in “Ad Astra” involves a literal space version of an airport! You’d look around and you have random shops, restaurants. If I were in this movie, I could literally go to the moon, get off the craft, be surrounded by walls, and go grab a muffin at Dunkin’. I guess this was in one way or another, just an excuse to shove product placement down our throats, but it doesn’t I’m denying that this was a good idea! I wouldn’t mind seeing a future where I could go to the moon and grab some chicken crispers or something at a Chili’s Too during a long layover to Mars.

The main message that I have honestly gotten out of this movie is to appreciate your parents and make them proud. This movie relies heavily on a plot involving the son of a famous astronaut, who also takes on the same lifestyle. In fact, one of the main reasons why our main character is doing what he is doing in the first place, is because of his father.

That being said, this does bring up one thing… I’m not going to give anything away, especially considering how “Ad Astra” was not the highest grossing film of the past weekend. I’m kind of shocked, but apparently I underestimated the level of anticipation there was behind “Downton Abbey.” Anyway, in “Ad Astra,” some things were established about the main character’s father. What things? I’m not going to go into any of them, but based on the information that was provided about him throughout the film, I questioned why we were getting the movie we happened to be getting in the first place. If you ask me, if you were pitching two movies, they took place in the same universe, and a movie about the main character’s father was one of them, I’d rather watch that. It would probably be way different from what we’re getting here, but from an entertainment factor, I think a movie like that would have a better shot at putting a smile on my face. But, keep in mind, this is just an idea. The execution of the final product is what matters. Things like proper direction, stellar acting, and excellent writing are all supposed to culminate to make something special. Based on what I’m about to tell you regarding the screenplay… They don’t.

The movie’s script, on the surface, is not bad. There are a fair share of attention-grabbing and thrilling scenes. But between the pacing issues and lack of knowledge I have about Brad Pitt’s character or some other characters during the movie when it starts, it doesn’t flow the way I would want it to. I imagine some people, specifically those in the general audience demographic would rather watch “Ad Astra” than “Interstellar” simply because of the two films, it’s shorter. To me, when it comes to characterization, “Interstellar” has a significant advantage because it takes its longer runtime to have us as an audience get to know our characters and eventually care about them. I like Brad Pitt, but the character he plays is almost not even worth giving a damn about. But let’s get into something that I did not expect to talk about. One of the last pieces of marketing I saw for “Ad Astra” before going into it was a trailer where Brad Pitt is just narrating from start to finish.

There is a lot of narration in this movie. And I can’t say I dig it.

Granted, you can also make the argument that since Brad Pitt’s character is a little reserved in this movie, almost similar at times to Ryan Gosling’s portrayal of Neil Armstrong in “First Man,” the narration works. It gives the audience some insight to what the character’s thinking given how little he tends to open his mouth. And if I had to judge Brad Pitt’s acting in this movie, it’s actually really good, but his character’s minor turnoff for me was the narration. There were a lot of times where it just felt tacked on. It makes “Ad Astra” feel more like a book than a movie. If this were originally a book, I’d understand everything that occurs in the film in terms of narration because narration in a book, specifically in the same case as the movie presents, which is “first person,” is a common happening. I’ve yet to watch the original cut of “Blade Runner,” although I’ve watched “The Final Cut” quite possibly ten times. But if you are familiar with “Blade Runner’s” different cuts, you’d notice that in the original, the main character of Rick Deckard, played by Harrison Ford, narrates. I’m not forcing for this to happen, but I wouldn’t mind if one day they came out with an alternate cut of “Ad Astra” and they called it the “Third Person Edition” because I want to see how a narration-less version of this movie will turn out. It could be better, it could be worse. Who knows? But part of me thinks that the movie will end up benefiting from something like this because I think it would allow an audience member to immerse themselves into the vibrant environment of the film. Again, the cinematography in this movie is some of best I’ve seen this year. It’s up there with films like “Us” as far as 2019 goes in that realm. But sticking with the topic of narration, I will say that it doesn’t make me feel stupid, so as much as I am not exactly satisfied with it, I can tolerate it.

This review is weird! I’m saying I like this movie, but at the same time, I want two different ones that I think could be better, based on its material! Pretty f*cking crazy if you ask me!

In the end, “Ad Astra” has the potential of being the worst good movie of the year, if that makes any sense. Brad Pitt is really good in this film, although he is better in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” if you ask me. I like some of the directions in terms of concepts and story elements this movie tends to lean towards. The cinematography, lighting, and sound are all superb and this movie would be excellent to show off as part of a tech demo. But if you are watching purely for the story, I’d seek out another space movie. Who knows? Maybe this is one of those movies that will be better on the second watch, but I cannot say for sure. I’m going to give “Ad Astra” a 6/10. I almost gave this a 7, but I had a few days to think about this because I’ve been busy with life and school. This is a good movie, but I wouldn’t rush out to see it, but if you want to watch Brad Pitt act well and see big pretty things for a few hours, no judgments here. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that tonight I will be going to see a movie that will not be out until the end of October, and that is “Black and Blue.” I honestly know little to nothing about this movie, but since I have an opportunity to attend a press screening for it, I thought why not take it? Be sure to follow Scene Before to check out that review when it is up, I’m not even sure when the embargo lifts so I might have to guesstimate as to when I can officially release ANY thoughts related to the movie. Also, like my Facebook page and tell your friends about the blog, it really helps me out! I want to know, did you see “Ad Astra?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a movie that you thought you would be at the top of the box office charts on its opening weekend but couldn’t make it? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Ready or Not (2019): The Greatest Hide and Seek Story Ever Told

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“Ready or Not” is directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, who worked together on projects including “V/H/S” and “Devil’s Due.” This film stars Samara Weaving (SMILF, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Adam Brody (Jennifer’s Body, The O.C.), Mark O’Brien (Republic of Doyle, Halt and Catch Fire), Henry Czerny (Mission: Impossible, Revenge), and Andie MacDowell (Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Jane by Design) in a film where a woman gets married, has a traditional wedding where everyone gathers together, the couple gives their vows, kiss, all the basics. But that’s not the important part of joining the family according to the side of the groom. Why? Because it is tradition for the family to play a game starting at midnight. As seen in previews and as somewhat suggested by the title, everyone is playing hide and seek. Samara Weaving’s character has to hide as everyone tries to find her, but if you have seen the trailers and heard much about this film, you’d know it’s not the normal game as one may expect. Instead of a pleasant game where everyone frolics around looking for the hiding individual, there is a sinister element involved.

“Ready or Not,” to my knowledge, is a movie that I did not hear much about until a couple months ago when the first trailer came out. But as soon as it came online and was brought to my attention, there was nothing I could do except watch it, which eventually led to me raving about it.

Take everything I have said about this seriously, because the trailer to this film just kills. Even if I never saw the actual film, I would at least recommend the trailer. If you know me in real life, then you must have known my excitement regarding the fact that the movie had a pre-release screening in Boston the day before it came out. I took advantage of the opportunity, scored myself two passes through a reservation online, invited my dad to tag along, and we hit the road!

And I’ll tell you what guys, this is a film that I was highly anticipating. Kind of like how I had massive expectations for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” recently. As far 2019 goes, “Ready or Not” was definitely one of my most anticipated films. There are a lot of instances where people set their expectations high and end up disappointed. Granted, my expectations for “Ready or Not” were not as high as some other films I have seen throughout my life, but as far as this year goes, my hype levels were astronomically high. Although I recently rewatched the trailer, because again, it’s awesome, and I read the comments, and everyone feels as if the movie reveals too much in its trailer. I won’t entirely say whether or not it does because it is not even out yet (except one element in just a moment), but holy crap! I think we may have my favorite film of the year so far!

As I type this review, I cannot tell a lie. My head is still f*cking spinning after what I just saw. This film is a combination of a dark comedy and horror, and it feels like it knows it wants to be that way. It meshes both genres together and creates a spectacular birthchild if you will. It’s not a film that gets confused about its own identity in the same way that a stereotypical middle-schooler would. The best way I can describe this film is referencing Pixar’s “Ratatouille.” You know that scene from “Ratatouille” where Remy takes a bite of one thing, takes a bite of another thing? Both have their own theme music, only to lead to a bite of both things at once which leads to an absurdly upbeat theme that lasts for a few seconds? That’s the best way I can describe “Ready or Not.” It’s hilarious and scary in the best ways possible. I know I said I won’t mention whether or not this movie’s trailer reveals too much, but one thing that I can say is that the trailer contains a number of the movie’s funny parts. This isn’t to say that the movie isn’t funny, but that is something to point out for those who are perhaps coming in for the comedy. It also does not mean that there are not any funny moments not shown in the trailer. I won’t go into detail about them, but this movie has more hilarity than what has already been exposed to most of the public.

In fact, one reason why this movie works so well is the characters. Samara Weaving plays the main character of Grace who I just plain adored. She was performed very well, had incredible charisma, and I bought into the relationship between her and the husband. By the way, the husband’s name is Alex Le Domas and he’s portrayed by Mark O’Brien. To me, Alex is probably one of the most out of field characters I have witnessed on screen this year, and I don’t mean that in a terrible way. His actions intrigued me, and his character went in multiple unexpected directions that made the movie lovable from my perspective. I won’t go into any of them, but I want to give the writers every ounce of credit possible for how they wrote him. When it comes to everyone else, my biggest salutes have to go to Henry Czerny (Tony), Kristian Bruun (Fitch), and Nicky Guadagni as the incredible Aunt Nadine. This lady is always either unhappy or crazy, and the actress portraying her manages to play the role with both traits at a level of absolute excellence. Even though her character is not the most prominent in the film, any screentime with her is a breath of fresh air.

And this film in some ways, reminds me of a film like “Avengers: Infinity War” because while I was not exactly rooting for the antagonistic side, I could see why they were doing what they were doing, and I could believe it or not, side with them. They have to find Grace, perform a ritual, and kill her. And they say that if they don’t do it before dawn, they’re all dead. So in reality, taking the standpoint of the protagonist (survival), or the standpoint of the antagonists (kill or be killed), if one side were to die in this situation, they would absolutely feel like they are doing the right thing for their own good. Not to mention in a way that makes them feel better about themselves. Granted, it’s a movie in a somewhat realistic and slightly intimidating setting for an adult audience, so I wouldn’t expect the antagonistic side to just be “a bad guy doing bad guy things,” but even with that in mind, the way this film plays out the rivalry and their motivations makes the screenplay completely worthy of my admiration. And even though I was able to feel bad at times for the antagonistic side even if their motivation seemed like it involved something that only they would believe, it does not change the fact that for just about every second I was rooting for Grace to run, hide, escape, just let this game of f*ckery come to an end. By the way, people die in this movie and when the deaths arrive, they are occasionally bonkers. You have to see them to believe them, they are masterpieces of darkness.

When it comes to other standouts, I really like the house this movie was shot in. This allowed for some noteworthy set and production design, a ton of dark rooms to highlight what kind of movie we were in for, and specifically for this film, a ton of reasons to intensify a simple game of hide and seek. I also think this film may have a shot during awards season at getting some costume design nominations. There are tons of outfits in the film that suit the characters well and are also impressively designed. I also really like how the film manages to elevate such a simple game traditionally played by children. If you told me five years ago that we’d be getting a movie with an intense hide and seek match, I don’t know what I would have thought, but I probably would have asked for something else. But having seen the trailer for this movie two months ago, I became interested. That interest was strong enough to make me go out and see it. Having seen it, I cannot help but endlessly recommend it.

One last thing I’ll say is this. The final moments in this film are as masterful as air conditioning on extremely hot days. There is a line that I won’t go into during the final three to five minutes of the film, but that line made me pull myself back in my seat, drop my jaw in shock, and place my hand on my head in utter disbelief. I don’t mean that in a bad way, in fact, the exact opposite. I was floored to the point where I went from really liking this movie to wanting to see it again at full price. Let me just remind you that this is a year of fantastic endings. We’ve had films like “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” which to this day is the only film to flat out make me cry in a cinema. Then came “Avengers: Endgame,” which not only had a geek wet dream come to life, but a satisfying finale to over 20 films that came before it. And just a few weeks ago we had “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” which… simply put, is a f*ckstravaganza of madness. Now we have “Ready or Not,” which has an ending that is as wild as it is satisfying. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” has the advantage of having the better climax and ending, but this film’s ending elevated its final verdict to me and if you ask me, “Ready or Not” as a film, to me, is better than “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

In the end, don’t hide, just RUN to the theater to go see “Ready or Not.” It’s a unique concept, has likable characters, and has an impressive amount of bloody violence to keep my eyes towards the screen. This film is from Fox Searchlight, a studio that happens to be a major contributor to many of the awards-type pictures that have come out in recent years. Will this movie be one of them? I don’t know, it’s possible, but it’s still August so I cannot exactly confirm that will be the case. Although many awards outlets are not that friendly to horror flicks so there’s a good chance “Ready or Not” may be ignored. But I will remind you, in Disney’s recent acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s assets, this is one part that they now can claim as their own. And movies like these are what I hope to continue to see from Disney with their new Fox additions. Movies that are compelling, original, and in the case of Fox Searchlight, small. Disney has recently exterminated Fox 2000, which is a sad move from my perspective, but if they eradicate or shrink the relevance of Fox Searchlight, that would be an even bigger mistake, and films like “Ready or Not” are why. This is a film that I want to see again, buy on Blu-ray, and this should not surprise you right now, I’m going to give “Ready or Not” a 10/10! Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that I just recently went to Terrificon over a week ago, I am currently working on a post related to my experience of the event, and I don’t know for sure, but I’m hoping it is up by the end of the week. Only time will tell though! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! If you are hiding from the real world and spending your days in the virtual universe of the Internet, I don’t know what you are doing, but who knows? Maybe you have Facebook. And if you have Facebook, do me a solid favor, check out the Scene Before Facebook page, give it a like, tell your friends about it, maybe your Facebook friends, and if you are an old school Internet junkie, tell your MySpace friends! I want to know, did you see “Ready Or Not?” What did you think about it? Or, have you played a whacked up edition of a particular game? If so, what was it like? Ready or not, let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Midsommar (2019): Can Ari Aster Top Hereditary?

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“Midsommar” is directed Ari Aster, who is known for directing numerous shorts along with his feature-length debut which came out last year, “Hereditary.” This film stars Florence Pugh (Fighting with My Family, The Commuter), Jack Reynor (Sing Street, Free Fire), William Jackson Harper (The Good Place, The Electric Company), Vilhelm Blomgren (Gösta, The Days the Flowers Bloom), and Will Poulter (We’re the Millers, The Maze Runner). This film involves a couple and a bunch of close friends going away together to rural Sweden. While the main characters intended to take a simple vacation to view a mid-summer festival, they eventually find themselves becoming more involved with various activities having to do with a Pagan cult.

If you asked me about my thoughts on Ari Aster as a filmmaker before this movie came out, I would have simply told you that I love him. Granted, I could be biting off more than I can chew because he only directed one feature film, but it does not change the fact that said feature film, specifically, “Hereditary,” floored me as soon as I witnessed it in the theater for the first time. The interactions between the family was truly worth appreciating. The cinematography is eye candy as delicious as white chocolate Kit-Kats. And Toni Collette gave one of my favorite performances of the decade as Annie. Naturally, the more I heard about “Midsommar,” the more excited I got. In fact, of all the movies coming out this summer season, “Midsommar” might be the one I anticipated the most, which is surprising when you consider how I waited over a month to go see it in the theater. But I just checked it out, so here we are! I feel like I have some weight off my shoulders!

Although before we go any further, I want to give a special shoutout to a friend of mine. His name is Choyon, and he went to go see this movie in July, only to tweet the following:

I cannot say I have seen the original “Wicker Man” film, but from what I gathered by this tweet, that was probably an enormous insult towards “Midsommar.” Having said that, I replied to him saying that I’ll probably instead check out “Spider-Man: Far From Home” that weekend, which in reality I didn’t do until two weeks after tweeting that out. He replied to me saying “Spider-Man” sounds like a better choice, calling “Midsommar” “pretentious crap.” These were followed by two more tweets.

I love Hereditary, I am almost scared for how I’ll feel about this thing after seeing that film. –Me

It may be a letdown, just saying –Choyon

I’ll remind you that Choyon has previously been a contestant on “Jeopardy!” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” so I for one am able to trust him in an assortment of ways. Then again, while he appeared on “Jeopardy!,” he participated in the final round only to do this:

Yeah, that happened! It even got featured in a video from SGSA (Stupid Game Show Answers), a famous name in providing game show fail compilations for years.

But even with that, he is right. “Midsommar” broke me, tore me apart, and ignited me into scorching flames. If I had to judge this as if it were two movies, I would point out the movie’s excellence in terms of direction, cinematography, and location choices. The technical aspects stand out for good reason. But there is a lot that I can’t stand when it comes to how the film plays out as to what characters do on camera.

From the very start of the film, I am instantly reminded of one of my problems involving “Hereditary.” Below is a quote from my review of said film.

“I heard him crying and made me think he was doing a terrible impression of Matthew McConaughey.”

If you put that in context, I will point out that “Hereditary” had a ton of terrific performances by its cast, including Jackoff winner Toni Collete, but one performance that caught my eye at a certain scene was the one given by Alex Wolff. Why? Because he happened to be crying in a manner that managed to lack any sort of match to realism, and overall, it made me think of him as some cartoon who fails at animating their own expressions. This movie gave me the worst possible first impression it could by having Florence Pugh’s character also cry in a manner that just irked me. Granted, I know crying is a natural thing, I know people do it in various situations, but again, I just don’t know if these actors would cry in the movie in the same way they would in real life. And having seen two movies from Ari Aster now, it makes me wonder as to what he will have stored in the future for his projects. Is this going to become a cliche? Is this going to be an Ari Asterism? Is he going to have at least one oddball, Lifetime movie-esque sobbing scene for each one of his films? And I will say, this crying, while annoying, was not even the worst part of this sack of crap!

I will say, when it comes to the characters in general, they are very off and on. For one thing, I kind of hate the main group of guys in this film because they all seem to just be less than friendly to the main character at times and it is sort of off-putting. There’s a scene where everyone completely establishes they don’t want to go on this trip to Sweden with her, only to pretend to be nice to her when she’s in the room and invite her to the trip. I understand why they would invite her, even if they have something against the main character to begin with. But even so, upon first seeing all the guys, they all had this rather unlikable vibe to them. It’s like if a speeding ticket was a person!

But I will say, upon first seeing rural Sweden and the setting for the movie’s main events, I was undeniably impressed. The setting looked vibrant and beautiful, almost to the point where I wanted to go there. All the costumes stand out and it brought this feeling of immersion. Sadly though, as the movie progressed, there was not much of interest when it came to various happenings in Sweden. Granted, the movie does a good job at letting us as an audience experience the traditions of the cult, but when it comes to shock value, which this movie seems to promise, I almost felt nothing. Maybe because I saw it coming though. I remember going into this movie being told it’s more gross than scary, and honestly I can see why, but I won’t go into it.

One comment about this film before it came out that admittedly made my hype levels rise as high as a skyscraper came from director Ari Aster himself. Back in March, he referred to “Midsommar” as “a ‘Wizard of Oz’ for perverts.” Honestly, I took that as a bit of a joke. I did expect this movie to be somewhat gory, I did expect a lot of the costumes to pop, I also expected the locations and setpieces to set the tone for what’s to come, but holy s*it, he’s right. I won’t go into complete detail, but that is a good way to describe this film based on certain scenes.

But it does not change one thing. THIS MOVIE SUCKS!

I–I can’t believe it! This is Ari Aster I’m referring to! I should be praising him like he is god or something! But now, he has diminished some of my hopes for his future projects! As if the movie itself was bad enough based on the beginning and the main events as everyone happens to be in Sweden, the ending just takes those two concepts and makes them look like a breeze to sit through. Why? Because, again, without spoiling anything, it is simply one of the most repulsive things I have witnessed in recent memory. In fact, I might even go as far to say that the ending to “Midsommar” could qualify to be a part of my top 10 worst endings in film history! Granted, I saw where the film was going with the ending, trying to have this compelling vibe that maybe could get some viewers to be speechless or something. It could possibly get them to activate their brain a little bit. In a way, if I had to use a recent example, it kind of had a similar feel to the ending I witnessed in last year’s “Annihilation,” only that movie was ten times better and more interesting than this piece of crap!

In fact, if I really had to make a comparison between this film and something else it has to be “The Favourite.” It’s a film that I heard a lot about, it has a reasonable amount of hype behind it for various reasons, it looks beautiful (both in previews and the final product), but it turned out to be a colossal disappointment. Granted, I will point out this movie is superior to “The Favourite” in terms of how invested I was from start to finish. It was less boring, better paced, and overall a slightly more hypnotizing story. But it does not change the fact that when it comes to “Midsommar,” it is a film that had tons of potential to be associated with prestige, and sadly, it ends up falling flat on its own face.

The best way I could describe the ending to “Midsommar” without further context is by once again going back to the idea of this movie being gross as opposed to scary. To me, it was neither, it was simply annoying. If you think hearing Jar Jar Binks and his hellish voice is ridiculous at home on your living room TV, try going to a cinema with surround sound and listening to every single utterance during this film’s climax. I imagine when this film comes out on DVD, it is not going to change how nearly headache-inducing the ending could possibly get.

Ari Aster, I love you! Please make a better film than than this! I was rooting for you!

In the end, “Midsommar” might as well have as much of a chance of completely impressing me during a repeat viewing as White Castle does of creating a pancake-sized burger. The worst thing about “Midsommar” is not necessarily how bad it is, but how disappointing it is. I say that because there are lot of movies out there that I knew were going to be terrible before watching them like “Batman & Robin” and “The Emoji Movie,” but “Midsommar” looked fantastic. In fact when I call this my most anticipated film of the summer compared to another film that opened the same day, “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” which ended up surprising me to the point of absurdity, it leaves a hole in my heart. I cannot even recommend this movie as background noise, because again, this film has an ending that is probably just as annoying to me as annoying as Teletubbies may be to parents who are raising newborn children. But again, I cannot give this movie a 1/10 because it is well shot, it does look impressive, and I say that to the point where it would make for a good tech demo. Well, as long as the product is on mute at certain points. I’m going to give “Midsommar” a 3/10. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that pretty soon I’ll have my review up for “Crawl,” a film about a father and daughter who are caught in the middle of a Florida hurricane. If you want to read a review for an Ari Aster flick that I think is worth your time, my link to my “Hereditary” review is down below! Be sure to follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account, also be sure to like my Facebook page if you have an account there as well! Stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Midsommar?” What did you think about it? Am I crazy right now or something? Or, who is a director working today who doesn’t have much background that you are curious about? Aside from Aster, Tim Miller would be one of my picks. I’m somewhat curious as to what he’s going to do with “Terminator: Dark Fate.” Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Hereditary (2018) REVIEW

The Hateful Eight (2015): More Like the Mediocre Eight

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Just a reminder that we are days away from the opening of Quentin Tarantino’s newest film, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and I just want to let everyone know that I WILL be going to see it this Thursday in 35mm! I will also be reviewing the film as soon as it releases and by that I mean, hopefully by the end of the Sunday which it comes out. I might not have it up right away because I’m going to see the film on Thursday at 7:30, I’ll be out of the theater 2 to 3 hours later, meaning I won’t be home until sometime before or after 11PM. Then on Friday I’m going to New Haven, CT, which is 2 to 3 hours away from my house. I’ve got a busy weekend ahead, but it’ll likely be fun, so I’m excited! But, the movie is not out yet, so I am going to be reviewing my third and final entry to my Quentin Tarantino review series, specifically “The Hateful Eight.” This is the most recent product Tarantino directed and it even features his voice through narration. Without further ado, let’s begin!

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“The Hateful Eight” is directed by Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs) and stars Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers, Kingsman: The Secret Service), Kurt Russell (The Thing, Furious 7), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Revenge, The Spectacular Now), Walton Goggins (Django Unchained, Justified), Demian Bichir (Machete Kills, The Bridge), Tim Roth (United Passions, The Incredible Hulk), Michael Madsen (Species, Kill Bill Vol. 1) and Bruce Dern (Nebraska, The ‘Burbs). This film takes place in 1877 as several characters interact, travel, and question each other during a snowstorm in Red Rock, Wyoming.

This is the latest film from Quentin Tarantino, and it was also one of those films that I really wanted to see in the theater. Unfortunately, I missed out. One of the reasons I wanted to go see the film in a cinema was due to the technology used for filming and presentation. This film was entirely shot with 70mm cameras, and much like director Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino is very particular to how his films look. After all, both directors have this in common. They either shoot on film, or they choose death. I have noticed that Tarantino has shot all of his past projects on 35mm, which is something he is also doing for his upcoming film for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” But this is Tarantino’s first attempt at shooting a full-length 70mm movie. And with that in mind, he’s trying to hark back to an era of old Hollywood, when glorious films like “Lawrence of Arabia” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” were shot in the same format. He even did a special engagement with select theaters where they would show the movie in 70mm (or sometimes digital), and present it in a roadshow format. This even had an intermission, which many of the other theaters’ versions of the film did not include. So if you went to see this in digital at your local Regal Cinemas, chances are you watched from start to finish.

In fact, another thing that I noticed was completely different compared to many other films is the aspect ratio. This film is presented in 2.76:1. Most modern films are usually not as wide. In fact, of any film I have seen to this day, this is without a doubt the widest. This is definitely a unique modern film in its own right simply because of how it looks, how it presents itself.

Sadly though, while this movie manages to be extremely impressive in visuals, it manages to simultaneously suffer as a story. Granted, it’s not bottom of the barrel. In fact, the day I see a bottom of the barrel story from Tarantino is the day I think the entire art of filmmaking is dead. There are some elements of “The Hateful Eight’s” script that I can appreciate. It’s mysterious, occasionally suspenseful, and it has this one gag involving a door that I happened to appreciate from a comedic standpoint. I thought it was up there with the funniest parts of the movie.

But if you had to ask me what my biggest problem with “The Hateful Eight” is, it’s the characters, because I can barely remember any of them at this point. I should note, I watched this movie last Thursday. I guess a couple of the characters have interesting conversations, including one about a particular character’s interactions with US President Abraham Lincoln. Although when it comes to overall personality, none in particular stand out. The characters do and say cool things, but it doesn’t add up to making the characters lovable. Just me.

Although I did some research before this movie came out. If you don’t know, Tarantino’s film prior to this was “Django Unchained.” When this project first got into gear, Tarantino’s original vision was to make this a sequel to “Django Unchained.” And if you watch this film it is easy to tell the elements for a unrealized sequel are there. This is in the western genre, around the same time period, and a couple actors including Samuel L. Jackson and Walton Goggins happen to appear in both movies. Did I mention both films came out on Christmas Day? While I do appreciate Tarantino for sticking to original material as opposed to expanding upon something that already exists, the mediocre quality of this movie almost makes me curious to know what would happen if this either took place in the same universe as “Django Unchained” or if Tarantino just stuck to writing a sequel to his previous film as opposed to having to spend lots of time developing something new.

Speaking of Tarantino, I’m willing to bet some of you who watched the movie may have noticed the narration during the film. For those of you who have yet to see “The Hateful Eight,” I won’t share the narration because it does dive into something important that can be seen during the film. But before checking this movie out, I was reminded by my dad of the film’s quirky narration, which quite honestly, was not that quirky if you ask me. Plus, to be honest, while it can be attention grabbing when it happens, it feels very out of left field. Why? While this is a “semi-spoiler” (maybe), there is no narration in the first half of the movie. It just happens at this random point where Tarantino probably was writing the script, didn’t find a character that was a good match for him that he could personally portray. Then he thought, “Hey! I can be the narrator! Perfect!” It’s a weird complaint and I almost question myself for making it, but I can’t help myself. It just stands out! Then again, I kind of made a similar compliant, while not exactly the same, for 2018’s “The Grinch,” so I guess it works here!

If you ask me, Tarantino has this excellent ability to match up a stellar script with spectacular locations or setpieces, or gorgeous cinematography. This movie rules in the technical department, I almost forgot to mention how much I enjoyed listening to Ennio Morricone’s score at times, but it fails when it comes to keeping me on the edge of my seat. Maybe it’s one of those movies that I have to pay full attention to with no distractions (in fact, I had to pause the movie to complete a task that took 30 minutes). But nevertheless, compared to Tarantino’s other films, this one just sticks out like a sore thumb because the characterization just feels weak in certain places. The only characters I feel like I’ll end up remembering are Marquis Warren, John Ruth, and Domergue. If I had to compare the behind the scenes efforts of this movie from Tarantino during this film’s production to another well known director, it would probably be Zack Snyder, because he’s very much a director who relies on style. This is evident in a movie like “Sucker Punch,” which at this point, I don’t particularly recall appreciating for the story or characters despite one or two kick-ass scenes. After all, one thing that would probably save the movie from being lower than the score I gave it when I first saw it is the amazing long take action scene that occurs on a train. There are redeeming qualities about “The Hateful Eight,” but they’re not enough to satisfy me.

In the end, after my watch of “The Hateful Eight,” I was slightly disappointed. Granted, I knew going in, according to others, this is not Tarantino’s best work, but even when you consider his resume and the fact that his name is attached to this, I might as well not be wrong to expect nothing but excellence from “The Hateful Eight.” To me, this film kind of reminds me of “Avatar.” It’s a film that looks very nice on the big screen, and is definitely built for a cinematic environment, but the story is not the strong point of the movie. I have not lost my faith in Tarantino however, partially because the trailers made his next film, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” look really good. Plus, it’s already getting good reviews, but “The Hateful Eight” still left me with a less than satisfying taste in my mouth. Sure, it hits a number of the cool Tarantino checkpoints. Gritty violence, pretty locations, attention-grabbing dialogue (despite weak characters), and giving Samuel L. Jackson an interesting hairstyle. But if someone were to come up to me and ask me to recommend a Tarantino film, “The Hateful Eight” would not be my first pick. I’m going to give “The Hateful Eight,” as much as it kind of feels criminal to say this, a 6/10. And before I go off on other ramblings, I would like to point out Samuel L. Jackson’s performance. It’s good. But, there’s a scene where I personally think he overacts to the point of cringe. Just saying. Thanks for reading this review! Just a reminder that tonight I am going to be seeing the new film “Yesterday,” directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours). I expect to have my review up by Thursday because on that day, I’m going to see “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” opening night, and I feel like I should have just about nothing else blog-related that I should focus on during the weekend. In addition to all this, I have to give a report and my thoughts on some big news for Marvel, “The Avengers,” and the movie industry as a whole. If you follow movies, chances are you may know what I’m talking about. Be sure to follow Scene Before if you have an email or WordPress account, and once you click the follow button, be sure to stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Hateful Eight?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a movie from a director that you really love that disappointed you in some way? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Hereditary (2018): No Chris Pratt, No Explosions, No Superheroes, Just A24’s Latest Dose of “WTF?”

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Before we begin diving into this review of “Hereditary,” it must be stated that the tagline for this film, as you see in the poster above, is “Evil runs in the family.” If evil ran in my family, chances are I’d probably be in a different family. I can’t say it does, but it’s possible that I also can’t say it doesn’t, because there are many ways of interpreting evil. Speaking of families, a new family will be formed in a matter of time. Paul, Genevieve, and their future child will eventually find themselves together. Although the journey to get to the guarantee of the couple and child finding themselves together was an absolute quest of tears and pain. This is all explained… in “What the IVF?!”

“What the IVF?” is a YouTube series which has been going on for months. Each Monday, watch a new short video of Paul and Genevieve’s misadventures of making their best attempt to create a baby. Every week, a new story is told concerning the couple, and it displays small positives and major negatives. Watch the two as they have to deal with unfortunate realities in sex, math, exams, crying, and needles sharper than the picture on that TV at Best Buy you want so freakin’ bad. You can find the latest episodes on the series’s dedicated YouTube channel, and new stories arrive each Monday! The latest episode in the series goes over the couple’s sixth, seventh, and eighth “IVF” cycles in a small matter of minutes. This episode is a bit shorter than some of the other ones you’d find on the channel, so if ten minute videos are your thing as opposed to six minute videos, make your way over to the “WTIVF?” YouTube channel (link below) and browse their video selection. Be sure to subscribe, hit the notification bell, and follow “WTIVF?” on other forms of social media aside from YouTube! To do that, visit the links below and hit the follow icons! Also, be sure to tell them that Jack Drees sent ya over!

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

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

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

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

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

“Hereditary” is the feature-length directorial debut of Ari Aster and stars Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense, Little Miss Sunshine), Alex Wolff (Patriots Day, The Naked Brothers Band), Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale, The Leftovers), Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects, The Man in the Iron Mask) and reveals scary occurrences and events, not to mention dark secrets hiding within a family after the passing of its matriarch.

When it comes to “Hereditary,” I’ve heard mostly positive thoughts about it before I went out to see what this thing is all about. I recall seeing trailers, but not as much as other films I saw this year and others I’ve still yet to see. One of the biggest things that really got me excited for “Hereditary” is the studio behind it. This movie is distributed by the independent company A24. While their first films such as “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III” and “Spring Breakers” released back in 2013, A24’s true recognition came during the year of 2015. In that year, they released films such as “Amy,” “Ex Machina,” and “Room.” All those films went on to win Academy Awards, and since then A24 has been bringing their A-game to the theaters. They released a number of films the following year, including the 89th Academy Awards Best Picture winner, “Moonlight.” Last year, 2017, was also a significant year for the studio. They’ve released several acclaimed films such as “The Florida Project,” “A Ghost Story,” “Lady Bird,” and what I find to be one of the best films of the decade, and in the conversation to be the best comedy of the decade, “The Disaster Artist.” This year, they’re still killing it. “Lean on Pete” has been getting great reviews, “First Reformed” is not getting many bad reactions either, and “Eighth Grade,” a film I’m really looking forward to that has yet to be released has gotten extremely positive criticism so far, with only a single rotten review on Rotten Tomatoes.

I walked into “Hereditary” with a smile on my face, all happy to see something that could potentially be masterful, scary, and just an overall well-done product. However I walked out of “Hereditary” thinking to myself, “What the f*ck did I just watch?”

NOW HOLD ON!

I didn’t say the movie is terrible, in fact, it’s the exact opposite. In fact, it’s in the horror genre so you kind of might want to think that. There were several aspects of the film that had me in awe, and others that dropped my jaw.

First off, we have the direction and cinematography. The first shot of the movie is the camera moving away from a window, and it kind of reminded me a bit of “The Witch” and “The Neon Demon” if you’ve ever seen those films. That same shot pans and moves into this dollhouse, eventually leading to the introduction of a couple of the movie’s characters. Part of me wanted to really know how exactly this was done. This dollhouse is supposed to resemble the house where the movie’s family lives, and part of me wonders how exactly they transitioned into our first character interaction. It could have been as simple as stopping tape and moving onto a real live-action location, trying to replicate EXACTLY where tape stopped in the previous shot. If so, bravo, I couldn’t even tell. Maybe some CGI work went into this whole thing. I’m not doing much research on this, but this makes me extra curious to watch the movie again once it comes out on home video just so I can scroll through the bonus features. But if someone were to ask me today, how exactly this scene was done, I’d tell you that I haven’t got the darndest clue. I mean, how would I? I wasn’t on set. I took a TV and video production class for four years in high school, and I’ve learned quite bit about filmmaking during that time, but I wouldn’t say I’m the ultimate guru when it comes to this stuff. When you combine this movie’s direction by Ari Aster and the cinematography by Pawel Pogorzelski, you get this plethora of wonder and suspense. This ultimately may have been the very thing, if not one of the very things that reminded me of “The Witch.” I say possibly one of the very things because that’s also a below average paced A24 horror film about the overall destruction of a family. One thing that’s different about “Hereditary” and “The Witch” however is that I find “Hereditary” to actually be a good movie.

I gotta say though, for those of you reading this on a later date, I saw this film during the summer movie season of 2018, which funny enough, based on the thoughts of some people, starts almost a full couple of months before summer actually begins. 2018 is looking to have one of the best summers I’ve witnessed in terms of movies. I’ve already given three perfect scores to movies this year, with two of them being for movies that got wide theatrical releases during the summer movie season. One of those two films wasn’t a blockbuster, but neither is this. Pretty much since June, I’ve given mostly scores of 8 or above to movies I’ve seen in theaters. While we have not even gotten to my final verdict section of the review yet, just a warning, this is going to continue my positive score frenzy.

Moving onto some of the characters in “Hereditary,” let’s begin this section by talking about Toni Collette’s character of Annie. I haven’t seen much work featuring Collette, but having seen “Hereditary,” I now want to go on and look at some of her past work because her performance here is fantastic! She might have just provided my favorite performance by an actor so far this year! I know it’s early, but when awards season comes around, I’m willing to bet that the name Toni Collette will be popping up somewhere. Her expressions, her emotion, her line delivery, everything about this performance was top-notch and kept my eyes on the screen. Now that I think about it, there’s one moment in this movie that takes place while the family is having dinner, and it reminded me a bit of “10 Cloverfield Lane.” It’s almost as if John Goodman’s character from “10 Cloverfield Lane” switched genders, took crazy pills, and started yelling up a storm. Collette gives by far the best performance of the movie, and if I were to do my own awards show where I choose all the winners, Collette might just take Best Actress.

 

Speaking of actresses, this movie is the film introduction of Milly Shapiro, who plays the character of Chucky–err, I mean Charlie. In terms of acting, this is not only a great performance by a child actress, but just a solid performance in general. I felt bad towards this character in a way, because as mentioned, the movie is basically about the events that occur after, in this particular case, Charlie’s grandmother passes away. And given the dialogue in one scene, Charlie feels like she gets greater care and attention from her grandmother than she does from her own birthmother. And the more I think about that scene and the way it’s written, I could make connections to my own life. I’m lucky enough to have my grandparents still living today. This includes grandparents on both my mother’s and father’s side. Once they die, I don’t know what exactly my parents will be thinking, but maybe it’s something along the lines of getting older, wondering how long they have to live, how much this will impact them, or simply being “next.” If one or both my parents die, and maybe I’m at any age range in this circumstance, I can’t exactly say how I’ll react, this isn’t something that’s supposed to be rehearsed. But I feel like a part of me will die too. I wonder how much longer I have left until I go.

I will say that all the actors in this movie give terrific performances, and this even includes one that who I’d say gives perhaps the worst performance in the movie, and that’s Alex Wolff. Now, when I say worst performance, I could be exaggerating. There are a good number of roles played by various actors in this film, but out of the main roles, Alex Wolff’s portrayal of Peter may have been the weakest. Granted, he was born in 1997 and is not even twenty-one yet, so it’s kinda sorta understandable that he’s not in the same caliber as say, Toni Collette, but I do find it somewhat surprising for him to be considered worse by me than Milly Shapiro. The unfortunate thing about Wolff’s performance is there are certain segments of scenes that kind of took me out of the movie for a second. I heard him crying and made me think he was doing a terrible impression of Matthew McConaughey. If that’s how he cries in real life, then OK, I didn’t know. But Wolff’s cry in this movie (no pun intended) doesn’t sound all that realistic. It made me think I was watching the climax of “Interstellar” and instead of trying to cry, Matthew McConaughey gave random choking noises that qualify as sad sounds. For the most part, Wolff was on his A-game, it’s a very solid performance, but if it weren’t for the crying, I would have been fully immersed into the movie.

One thing I will mention though is that I went to a restaurant after watching the movie, and I talked about it for a brief moment with the bartender serving my mother, sister, and I. If you ask me what I thought about how this movie ended, I’d say it was one of the better endings I saw all year, and I imagine a good number of people would feel the same way. When I heard from the bartender that he didn’t like the second half of the movie, I was curious to know why. I very much enjoyed the second half, thought it was disturbing, jaw-dropping at times, and made me question exactly what’s happening in such a positive way. There’s one thing about the ending however that I won’t get into that I particularly didn’t care about but he said he didn’t like. This is not the first time I heard a complaint like this, but it just goes to show that despite this movie’s acclaim, maybe it’s not for everyone. But it certainly was for me.

In the end, “Hereditary” is one of the most well directed movies of the year, along with a movie that just showcases tons of powerhouse performances. Toni Collette better get some chatter regarding the Academy Awards and depending on how the rest of the year plays out, her lack of appearance as a nominee for Best Actress will probably be a personal snub. I haven’t seen any of the shorts Ari Aster directed before going on to do “Hereditary,” however I would love to see some more work from him in the future. Maybe some more horror movies, film noir, or maybe something like a period piece. I loved “Hereditary,” I want to watch it again, and if it weren’t for issues as small as a Tic Tac, this would have received a perfect score. I’m gonna give “Hereditary” a 9/10. Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I’m gonna have my review up for “Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation,” whether or not I’ll have it up this week is a total mystery to me, but I’ll be sure to have it up prior to the release of “Mission: Impossible: Fallout,” thus completing my Tom Cruise “Mission: Impossible” movie review series before that next installment hits theaters. Stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Hereditary?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite A24 film thus far? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Why I Won’t Review The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Last night the Super Bowl aired on NBC and with another Super Bowl around that means another set of overpriced ads that are basically trying to become more important than life itself. The ads overall were underwhelming, however there were a few good ones personally. These good ones came from Bud Light, Amazon, Sprint, Groupon, and M&Ms. As usual, the Super Bowl featured a few movie ads. Some of which were trailers for trailers, which is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. One movie spot that specifically caught my attention was “The Cloverfield Paradox.”

I actually knew about this movie before it came out, but I didn’t think it would be coming out now. The movie was originally titled “God Particle” and it was going to be in theaters. This film had been in development since 2012 and its release had been delayed several times. After that, it has been confirmed that this is the third “Cloverfield” installment, following “Cloverfield” and “10 Cloverfield Lane.” As the trailer for this film aired during the Super Bowl, some people were surprised, and I was too. I’m not sure about other people, but I wasn’t surprised there was a trailer. I was surprised about three other things. The first surprise was that it was out in a couple of hours after the trailer dropped. The second surprise was that it wasn’t called “God Particle” and instead called “The Cloverfield Paradox,” but hey, you gotta make the title come off as something people know. The third, and biggest surprise, is that it’s coming out on Netflix.

As of now, a number of people have already watched “The Cloverfield Paradox.” Many of the final verdicts of the film are on the positive end. You want to know my verdict on the film? Well, I can’t tell you since I never saw it. As matter of fact, I don’t think there will come a day where I actually sit down and watch it. If you have seen “The Cloverfield Paradox” and enjoyed it, good for you, I’m glad you had a pleasurable experience. My reasons behind not watching the film don’t have anything to do with hate towards the “Cloverfield” films or the fact that I’m lazy. Also, if you hated it, I’m sorry, and you probably deserve your time back. Although now that I say that I’m lazy, I don’t really exercise as much as some people. My lack of review has more to do with my refusal to use Netflix.

I sound like a total weirdo that doesn’t belong in the generation I was born into, AKA the millennials, especially considering that almost everyone I know my age uses Netflix. Although I refuse to support them for a number of reasons.

The first reason behind this sounds absolutely crazy, but it still exists. I miss Blockbuster Video. Sure, I was a kid, so I never really had to deal with paying late fees or maintaining a Blockbuster membership card or driving to the place. Heck, even if I was my mother or father, I wouldn’t usually have to worry about that because we used to have one that was walking distance from my house. Even as a kid, there was such a joy to be had about that store that I could only replicate by going to someplace where you could buy a movie. Every time I went there felt like a small birthday present. You can’t get that with Netflix! Not only that, but on Netflix, you can’t actually get a deeper emphasis of the film you’re watching by looking all over the case, seeing images, descriptions, all sorts of information. Also, you don’t even need WiFi to play a DVD or Blu-ray. There’s something about streaming that’s kind of depressing. Granted I do use certain streaming services such as Amazon Video and Crackle, but if anything, Netflix was the biggest killer of Blockbuster. I can kind of understand certain movies going straight to streaming, much like how I can understand certain movies going straight to DVD or straight to TV. Although with Netflix’s exclusive content, it’s pretty much ALL straight to streaming.

Netflix began making exclusive content for some time now, and I can truly understand if Netflix wanted to make a TV show to put on its streaming service right away. I would prefer for Netflix to make their own TV channel, but apparently that concept is dwindling. I honestly don’t like that. It feels nice having a TV schedule as opposed to a TV clutter, and this is coming from a guy who hates schedules! The thing I really hate, is how every Netflix original movie has to be straight to streaming. People are saying that movie theaters are dying, and that is just UPSETTING. People are trying to get with the times by the endless recliner installation and renovation, which I think is overrated because you have a lot less seats than you would if you went to a theater with normal seats. Do you know why I go to see movies at the theater? Bigger screen, more audible sound, clearer images. Can you imagine someone watching “2001: A Space Odyssey” or “Cast Away” or “La La Land” and it happens to be on a TV? OK, maybe it’s not that bad of an experience depending on your setup, but what if someone is watching one of those movies on a computer or laptop? What if they’re watching it on a tablet? Or an even more terrifying thought, their phone. What Netflix is basically doing is destroying not only history, because people gather at these places for special events, but they’re also destroying one of a kind experiences.

Netflix’s idea of releasing films the way they do is baffling to me because for one thing, if they release their movies in theaters, they have a chance to make more money! Amazon has a strategy which involves them releasing films, putting them in theaters for ninety days, and around the end of the theatrical run, the movie comes out to home video media and streaming. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can stream the movie for free on Amazon Video. Amazon’s method of showing their films in theaters has brought me to check out their films for this blog. I didn’t review all of the ones I saw, but I kept their theatrical releases in mind. This idea is a good way to make money while at the same time, providing a decent experience. If someone really likes a movie released by Amazon as they watch it in theaters, chances are they could watch it again once it hits Prime. Netflix apparently isn’t as bright of a bulb as Amazon, no wonder they’re in debt.

Will I watch “The Cloverfield Paradox” sometime in the future? I’m not quite sure. Maybe if they put it out on Blu-ray and I find it for a good price I might take it, but I also hope that maybe by the end of the year they put it in the theater. I mean, I’m not gonna be surprised if Netflix doesn’t allow something like this, because they are going to be distributing Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” and there’s a good chance it won’t be in theaters. If you don’t know who Martin Scorsese is, he departed the wolves off of Wall Street and made them join an aviator in flying towards the movie theater. Seeing his name on a project can make some people interested in seeing how said project turns out. It’ll get them right into the theater! But no, Netflix is different, and that’s good! What a bunch of malarkey!

To this day, I never really used Netflix for anything. I’ve been with other people while they used it, but I never used Netflix for anything I wanted to do, and unless they start putting movies in theaters, or maybe pick up a reality TV show that has shaped my life for three seasons (“King of the Nerds”), I will not be using their services, and I will not be reviewing their content. Yes, I’m not even gonna watch “Stranger Things.” I won’t watch “Altered Carbon.” I will not be watching “The Crown.” I’m not watching “Orange is the New Black.” If you like these shows, good for you, enjoy them. I just won’t be watching them. Nor will I be watching “Cloverfield 3,” or “The Cloverfield Paradox,” or “God Particle,” I like that the name the best, it’s kind of kick-ass. Thanks for reading this non-review! I’m sorry if I disappointed anyone, but I can understand considering how Netflix disappointed me during the Super Bowl. Although if you actually want to know, I will be reviewing more movies soon, such as “The 15:17 To Paris.” That comes out in a few days, so I might see that movie rather soon! Stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, what are your thoughts on Netflix? What are your thoughts on streaming? Did you see “The Cloverfield Paradox?” If so, did you like it? Also, where would you rank it along with “Cloverfield” and “10 Cloverfield Lane?” Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Maze Runner (2014): The Continuation of Teen Angst, Starring Dylan O’Brien

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! In 2014, one movie I kind of wanted to see was “The Maze Runner,” unfortunately, I never got around to watching it. Although a few months ago I was buying a number of Blu-rays at one of my personal favorite shops around the mall, AKA Newbury Comics, and I managed to come across “The Maze Runner” and “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. I still went on for months after buying them without watching either one of the films. That however, has changed. On January 26th, “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” will hit theaters. Appropriately, I felt I should review the first “Maze Runner” and the second “Maze Runner.” Since I’m a chronological type of person, we’re gonna kick this series off by talking about the first “Maze Runner.” Without further ado, let’s start the review.

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“The Maze Runner” is directed by Wes Ball who has mainly done work in the film industry in the realms of art and visual effects. Aside from a few short films, this is pretty much the guy’s directorial debut. This movie stars Dylan O’Brien (Teen Wolf, The Internship), Kaya Scoldelario (Now Is Good, The Truth About Emanuel), and Will Poulter (We’re the Millers, Son of Rambow). “The Maze Runner” is about a youngish boy who is brought into this green, limited realm. He meets a group of men who tries to get him to adapt to the way things are. However, there is a way out (sort of). There is a maze separating this realm from the outside world. “Runners” are searching inside it every day, trying to find a way out. It’s at a point when this youngish boy learns about all of this, when he desires to join the runners.

This movie came out in 2014, it’s based on a book by James Dashner, and one thing I noticed about not only the 2010s decade, but perhaps slightly before this particular decade began, is how many popular young adult teen angst novels were being adapted into movies. Some examples include “Twilight,” “The Hunger Games,” “Harry Potter,” “Percy Jackson,” “The Chronicles of Narnia,” etc. I’ve seen a number of these, and no, “Twilight” wasn’t one of them. Thank goodness! While some of these young adult novels might fall under say the romance or fantasy genres, one concept that has applied a lot to recently popularized young adult books is the sci-fi dystopian element. This has been extremely evident with the worldwide phenomenon known as “The Hunger Games.”

I’ll be honest with you, I read the first “Hunger Games” book in the summer of 2012, and I don’t even recall making it a quarter of the way through the whole thing. I watched the movie, and while it wasn’t bad the first time watching it, the film got worse over more watches and the more I thought about it. The second film’s good, but I’ve yet to see “Mockingjay” parts 1 & 2, because as of now, I no desire to pay for two parts.

There’s a series that relates to this called “Divergent,” and I haven’t read the books for that. I enjoyed the first movie, I thought the second one was slightly better, but the third one sucked. As for the third movie, this is yet another case of splitting a book into two parts, and I’m wondering if that’s partially why the movie didn’t do well in terms of reactions and returns at the box office. Oh yeah, also don’t forget the rather dull story, annoying characters, and crappy CGI. One of the biggest problems I have with the movies however is that Tris keeps changing her hair. What’s up with that?!

People often consider “Divergent” a ripoff of “The Hunger Games,” but that’s simply not true. Both have corrupt governments and are futuristic, but just tinker around with them a little bit and you’ll see the differences underneath. “The Hunger Games” is an event that involves fighting to the death whereas “Divergent” is simply about a girl in a certain class that society doesn’t like. As for “The Maze Runner,” it’s got some similarities to both “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent.” However, as far as the book goes, “The Maze Runner” came out before “Divergent,” so you can technically say “Divergent” has similarities to “The Maze Runner” and “The Hunger Games.” All three books involve a post-apocalyptic world with a nasty regime, there’s a teen who has to fight against the overlords, and they’re all tested. The similarities are significant in all three films. However, I think out of “The Hunger Games,” “Divergent,” and “The Maze Runner,” I have to say I think “The Maze Runner” may be the best film of the three. This doesn’t say much about the book, but as a film, this one likely reigns supreme.

What I just said doesn’t mean “The Maze Runner” is a masterpiece, I just think it’s an enjoyable flick that could help you pass the time for a couple of hours. Since I have that out of the way, let’s get into some problems.

Pacing wise, this movie is mostly competent, you can follow everything quite well, and your eyes will be stuck to the screen for a long time.  However, as the movie gets towards the end, I have to say that there’s a point, specifically when a screen comes on and everybody’s listening, that the pacing just goes off for a second. I don’t know how others feel about that but that’s how I feel. I will say though, without spoiling much of anything, the movie has to do something in particular, and that thing in particular is what caused the drag for me.

One little nitpick, and I don’t know if this was an idea that the book’s author had, or if it was a director, or an editor, or who it could have possibly been that had this vision, but there are these enemies that you see in the film. They’re called Grievers. As enemies, they are serviceable and I don’t really have much that’s significantly wrong with them, but thinking about them, they almost look like ripoffs of the Xenomorphs from the “Alien” franchise. I’m surprised I’ve even said that because believe it or not I haven’t watched one “Alien” movie.

Dylan O’Brien plays the main character of Thomas throughout “The Maze Runner,” and I’d say that the character was well written, and I’d say having gone through the movie, O’Brien’s a nice pick to play the character. Granted, I can tell they probably cast Dylan O’Brien mainly because girls have a crush on him since he’s on “Teen Wolf” and if you know what the show is, you’d understand my point. To my happiness, the script focused less on his physique and more on his hope to become a runner and leave the maze. That remains true for every single one of the movies characters, which is just rather refreshing. Speaking of refreshing, there’s not much romance in this film. There is friendship, there is interaction, but there’s never any romance. And in a world where that is prominent in both the “Hunger Games” and “Divergent” franchises, that is awesome.

I really like the scene in the film where we first meet Thomas and he forgets his real name. The way he finds out is kind of hilarious. Basically, we meet him, it’s daytime, we are introduced to the Gladers, and soon, night arrives, we see a bunch of boys around a campfire. Thomas is in a fight, and as he is fighting, he’s getting his butt kicked, and all of a sudden, he remembers his name is Thomas, announces it in front of all the boys, and everyone is just exclaiming to the tenth degree. Pure hilarity.

As for another standout character, we have the big bad bully, Gally, played by Will Poulter. While Thomas is just trying to save everyone, Gally would occasionally interfere, saying that Thomas needs to be punished. I must say, this is good choice from a casting perspective, and I’m not saying this is a negative despite coming off as repetitive, he kind of looks like bullies we’ve seen in the past in terms of what’s happened in TV and movies. Just compare him with characters such as Biff from “Back to the Future” or Buzz from “Home Alone” and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

In the end, I’d say “The Maze Runner” is a really enjoyable film for what it is. It has some of the teen angst cliches, but at the same time, is a little more lighthearted in ways making it feel like you can have fun watching the movie. I have nothing against dark and gritty films, but in reality, that’s how a majority of teen angst films seem to come off. If you have never seen “The Maze Runner,” I do recommend it. I don’t know what to say about the book, or how much you’ll like the movie if you’ve read the book. I just know they’re not exactly the same. I’m going to give “The Maze Runner” a 7/10. Thanks for reading this review! I’m going to have my review up for the second part of the “Maze Runner” trilogy next Thursday, January 25th, which is also the night of the early screenings of the final installment, “Maze Runner: The Death Cure.” So stay tuned for my review of “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials,” along with more exciting content coming your way. I want to know, did you watch “The Maze Runner?” What are your thoughts? Did you read the book? Which is better? The book or the movie? Let me know your thoughts down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Blade Runner 2049 (2017): Is the 35 Years Worth the Wait?

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“Blade Runner 2049” is directed by Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Arrival), stars Ryan Gosling (La La Land, Crazy Stupid Love) and Harrison Ford (Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark), and is the sequel to 1982’s “Blade Runner” which was directed by Ridley Scott (Gladiator, The Martian), a movie considered by many people to be one of the greatest sci-fi films, if not one of the greatest films, ever made. “Blade Runner 2049” takes place in the year of 2049 in the US state of California, the plot is that there’s a young blade runner (Ryan Gosling) who discovers a long-kept secret which leads him into tracking down former blade runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), who’s been out of sight for three decades.

When it comes to the original “Blade Runner,” it’s a movie I haven’t actually watched until fairly recently. For the record, when I say that, I’ll have you know I didn’t even watch the original version of the film, which by the way the version I watched which isn’t original, is the one I viewed five times at this point. I say that because if you know this movie’s history, you’d be aware of how it has received endless cuts. In 1982, they started out with a movie that not many people saw but was on the rise to prove its influence to film. I mean, seriously! If you look at films and material which came out after it, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. Just check out “Ghost in the Shell,” “The Matrix,” the “Star Wars” prequels, “The Fifth Element,” all of these just look at them and don’t tell me you don’t see a bit of “Blade Runner” in them. The redo of the TV series “Battlestar Galactica,” according to the producers, cited “Blade Runner” was a major source of influence to the series. It has also been parodied in material such as the British science fiction TV show “Red Dwarf.” Based on what I have told you, it’s not surprising that people revere this movie. Overtime it has gained a cult following, and has been considered one of the greatest science fiction films, not to mention one of the greatest films in general, ever made. It was nominated for two Oscars (Best Effects, Visual Effects, Best Art Decoration-Set Decoration), it was also nominated for a Golden Globe (Best Original Score-Motion Picture), which I wholeheartedly approve of because the score is probably one of my favorites in movie history. BAFTA also praised the score by nominating it, which was one of the eight nominations the movie received in that particular show. By the way, it won three. It currently has a spot on the IMDb top 250, it’s on AFI’s 10 Top 10 as the #6 science fiction film, and IGN put it as the #1 spot in its “Top 25 Sci-Fi Films of All Time.” I watched the film multiple times now, specifically “The Final Cut,” and it gets better with multiple watches. So, how is “Blade Runner 2049?” Holy crap, this movie was an experience. I went to see this movie in IMAX, and I don’t regret it, because this is one of those films that MUST be seen in a theater! You know how I kept talking about “Dunkirk” and what an amazing experience that was? This was just as great! And with that I’m gonna give you guys a little sidenote…

I don’t use Netflix, in fact, I’d go as far as to say that Netflix is slightly overrated. I may be biased because they killed Blockbuster Video, a significant memory from my childhood, but I’m gonna let you know a little information about them that you may or may not be aware of at the moment. Netflix may be known for its selection of movies and TV programs to watch which are available at your fingertips, but they’ve also done original content. They’ve done TV shows such as “House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black,” and “Stranger Things,” all of which received positive reviews and a following by many people. That’s not to say all Netflix shows were considered watchable, there are disliked ones such as “Iron Fist” despite it having a following. They’ve also done movies such as “Gerald’s Game,” “The Ridiculous Six,” and “Beasts of No Nation.” What I’m going to say next is rather unnecessary for their TV shows, but can fit for their movies. When it comes to Netflix movies, they go straight to the streaming service. There’s no theatrical release for it, it just hops straight on over to the service, so people might get a theatrical experience depending on their setup, but chances are someone might end up watching the movie on their laptop without headphones, or heck, even their phone! Critically acclaimed director Christopher Nolan agrees with me when say that this is bullcrap, because Netflix is missing out on a opportunity for their movies to be shown in theaters, where audiences pay money to go see it in an immersive setting. Want to know something else? There’s an event called Cinemacon, which is a convention dedicated to film, it shows off what upcoming movies have in store, it also does screenings for flicks, stars show up, and it also has has a focus on cinemas themselves and technologies related to them. When “Blade Runner 2049” footage was being presented to attendees at the show, Sony chairman Tom Rothman said this…

“Netflix, my ass.”

Well said, Tom. For the record, Netflix has never presented at Cinemacon, so that shows what they stand for in the realm of cinema. At least Amazon releases content in theaters!

If this movie were released on Netflix, I would have been outraged, partially because I don’t use the service, but having seen this movie, this movie looked and sounded SPECTACULAR! Yeah, that was a long point, but I felt it had to be made. This movie was directed by Denis Villenevue, who also directed “Arrival,” one of my favorite movies from last year. I think he’s a great director, and his vision for this movie was brilliant. Every single frame had something worth appreciating. I can only imagine the detail that went into storyboarding this thing! Although, I can’t exactly say that he’s only in this fest of praise, because I gotta give kudos to Roger Deakins, the cinematographer of the film. For the record, this isn’t the first time Deakins and Villenevue worked together. They’ve also collaborated in “Sicario” and “Prisoners.” I haven’t seen those films, but I will say that Deakins is a fine cinematographer, just watch “No Country for Old Men” to see what I mean.

The original “Blade Runner” came out in 1982, and when it comes to movies with great lighting, as of right now, it’s probably the first movie that comes to my mind. The lighting in “Blade Runner 2049” personally isn’t as great as the original, but that doesn’t mean the lighting’s bad. However, from an overall perspective, much like its three decade old predecessor, “Blade Runner 2049” has terrific effects. Every single effect in the movie felt realistic. Sure, there are moments of the movie containing visuals that probably would be impractical (the giant sex doll with blue hair for example), but in all reality, even those felt like they actually existed for the universe this movie was presenting.

Speaking of things that aren’t as good as the original, I gotta say the music isn’t as great. Once again, this doesn’t mean the music was bad, the music was almost as brilliant as the 1982 film. But the thing about the 1982 film, is that it was unique. The music by the way in that film was done by Vangelis, who also did the score for “Chariots of Fire.” Also, Vangelis did not return for this movie, and yes, he’s still alive. The guy doing the score this time around is one of my favorite composers. I’ve brought him up in a number of posts this year, Hans Zimmer. Like the original score, it’s techno, and at times you do hear booms, which is pretty much the first thing you hear in the original movie when the titles show up. By the way, those booms sound amazing in IMAX. Also, this score at times felt a little more traditional than the original “Blade Runner.” The “Blade Runner” score is something you’d rarely hear, and while this newer film does have qualities of the older score, the new doesn’t have the absolute uniqueness of the old. I say that because I remember the original having moments that almost sounded like chimes, it was different. You could also hear vocalizing in the score, and I mentioned how much of an influence this had on “Ghost in the Shell” and I wouldn’t be surprised if the original movie’s score was partially influential. The vocalizing, the more I think about it, reminds me of “Ghost of the Shell’s” intro music. “Blade Runner 2049” was just released, so only time will tell how much the music, plus the rest of the movie will influence future products. Nevertheless, “Blade Runner 2049” had a GREAT score and I’d love to listen to it again and again.

Let’s talk about one of the leads in the film, specifically Ryan Gosling. This fellow has proven to be an excellent actor. By the way, there’s a couple scenes in this movie where Ryan Gosling is in front of a piano, and that’s not the only film where Gosling is in front of a piano, just watch “La La Land” to see what I mean. Gosling plays K and he’s basically this movie’s young Blade Runner. He’s given a mission at the beginning of the film, and seeing his character progress throughout the picture was entertaining and very moving. At times, Gosling’s acting chops were unleashed to full potential, which happened to be prominent during the movie’s emotional scenes which I won’t get into to avoid spoiler territory. K also had some qualities which were noticeable that could be compared to Harrison Ford’s character of Rick Deckard, who we’ll get to momentarily. K starts off in the movie as being directed by Lieutenant Joshi, a character played by Robin Wright, who in terms of looks and attitude, almost reminds me of your typical Charlize Theron role such as the ones she’s done in “A Million Ways to Die in the West” and “Hancock.” Anyway, seeing Gosling focus on his objectives was fascinating and despite this movie, like the original, appearing to be a slow burr, my eyes were never taken off the screen. Yes, this applies to more than Ryan Gosling in all technicality, but I’m just making a point. There’s also a spouse Ryan Gosling has, by that I mean a futuristic spouse, and by THAT I mean a spouse that is basically holographic, oh yeah, and she can change form. I can’t even get into the mission Ryan Gosling does in the film because I have a feeling this is something the trailers are hiding. I’ve seen all the main trailers, but it’s been awhile since I’ve seen one in particular, and I’m not sure if the hidden details are there, but for the sake of keeping some information a secret to possibly have some folks savor the movie’s flavor, I’m going to ignore uttering these details.

Now let’s talk about Harrison Ford. If you remember the original “Blade Runner,” Harrison Ford played Rick Deckard, the main character of the film. He was hunting down replicants just because he had a job to do. Speaking of the original film, we do get some callbacks. As mentioned recently, the music can qualify as a callback, but we do get some audio from the first film. During the film I heard Harrison Ford’s voice as it was in 1982, and I remember hearing Sean Young’s voice too. The origami unicorn makes a return here, which has brought up an interesting theory of whether Deckard’s actually a human or a replicant. By the way, I’d say he’s human. Also, I may have said that Ryan Gosling did a great job, but in all reality, Harrison Ford probably did better. By the way, out of all the performances I’ve seen Ford do, this might be his best one. Also, Deckard’s introduction is definitely one of the best scenes in the entire flick. You may have gotten a glimpse at it in the trailers, but there is more to it then what was there. I won’t go into detail though.

As much as I praise this movie, it’s not perfect. For example, some characters didn’t stand out as much as others, and speaking of characters, there’s one character who goes by the name of Mariette. She’s not unlikable, but she didn’t really add much of anything to the movie in terms of story except for maybe one part where she and K’s holographic wife are shown to have no clothes on. Also, this isn’t really a complaint but it’s mainly something I noticed, Jared Leto is barely in this movie. In fact I think he may have spent less time here than “Suicide Squad,” although I liked Leto better here than “Suicide Squad.” I may be nitpicking, and from experience, this is probably one of those movies I have to watch more than once to fully appreciate, so maybe I’m just imagining things. Other than what I mentioned, this movie’s pretty much a masterpiece, which is saying something considering what many people say about 1982’s “Blade Runner.”

Now I just mentioned this could take multiple watches to fully appreciate. And I’ll have you know I watched the original “Blade Runner” four times from start to finish since early September. I also saw it not long ago and I fell asleep to it, but to be fair, it was late. This is one of those movies, like the original “Blade Runner” that I’m probably gonna watch over and over.

In the end, “Blade Runner 2049” is a movie that defines how sequels should be made. This to me is 2017’s “Tron: Legacy,” by that I mean you’ve got this film which came out a long time ago, in fact the original “Blade Runner” actually came out the same year as the original “Tron.” The film now has a sequel, years in the making, and people enjoy it. Granted “Blade Runner 2049” has gotten more positive reception, but it doesn’t mean people didn’t appreciate “Tron: Legacy.” I love the film from a technical perspective, this movie and “Dunkirk,” so far, have been my two favorite cinematic experiences of 2017. Hans Zimmer created a great score, the screenplay hit every necessary emotion, the direction and cinematography are stellar, I’m glad to see Harrison Ford return as Rick, Ryan Gosling was great as well. Overall, this movie did what it needed to do. I’m gonna give “Blade Runner 2049” a 9/10. If you saw “Blade Runner” thinking that this movie could never be recreated, chances are you’ve just been proven wrong. This is a sequel worth remembering, and as far as sequels go, this is probably the best one I’ve seen so far this year. I can’t wait to buy this movie when it comes to home video, I want to see it again, possibly pick up on some details I missed, we’ll see what happens. Thanks for reading this review! As far as upcoming reviews go, I hope to see “Stronger” starring Jake Gyllenhaal, which is about a guy who manages to survive the Boston Marathon bombing, and I also am planning on reviewing “Thor” and “Thor: The Dark World” in preparation for “Thor: Ragnarok.” Stay tuned for those reviews, and more reviews! Also, if you’re into “Blade Runner,” you might be interested in checking out my post dedicated to things “Blade Runner” got right about the future. Here’s a question, which “Blade Runner” was better? The first one or the second one? Also, one more question, what is a movie that gets better the more you watch it? Let me know down below in the comments! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

WHAT “BLADE RUNNER” GOT RIGHT ABOUT THE FUTURE: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2017/10/06/what-blade-runner-got-right-about-the-future/

The Firm (1993): Life’s a Mitch

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! This Friday, there will be a new movie out called “American Made.” It stars Tom Cruise, it’s directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Jumper), and it’s not the first time these two are teaming up together. They worked on “Edge of Tomorrow” together. By the way, an “Edge of Tomorrow” review isn’t going to be done now or anytime soon, if I had the movie I’d probably look at it and review it, but I don’t. Also, good movie, check it out. Anyway, this review is the last installment of my past Tom Cruise movie series, so far I’ve done reviews for “The Last Samurai” and “Risky Business.” What’s my last movie? If you’re seriously asking that, look at the freaking title! But seriously, today I’ll be reviewing “The Firm.” After watching this movie, I have a good number of things to talk about, so let’s get to it!

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“The Firm” is directed by Sydney Pollock (Tootsie, Out of Africa), and stars Tom Cruise, Jeanne Tripplehorn (Waterworld, Basic Instinct), and Gene Hackman (Superman, The French Connection), and revolves around the character of Mitch McDeere, a young lawyer who went to Harvard who goes to work at a firm which he soon discovers has a dark side.

For the record, this is the first time I watched “The Firm.” Last month I got a Triple Feature Blu-Ray pack featuring three Tom Cruise flicks: “Collateral,” “Days of Thunder,” and this one. When I told my mother I was watching this movie, her reaction almost sounded like she founded the Fountain of Youth. She loves this movie, and she also loves the book. By the way, the book is written by John Grisham, writer of novels such as “The Chamber,” “Skipping Christmas,” and “A Time to Kill.” After watching “The Firm.” I don’t know what to think. Part of me feels the need to read the book, and I don’t mean that in a positive way. “The Firm” made me rather want to take a bar exam as opposed to watching the movie. Before we dive into negatives, let’s dive into some positives.

The cast for “The Firm” is undoubtedly outstanding. Tom Cruise is, well, Tom Cruise. This isn’t really his best performance, you can still see a bit of Tom Cruise himself while watching this, but you can totally buy into his character. Jeanne Tripplehorn as Cruise’s wife, Abby, does her job well, the chemistry between the two is believable and there’s a scene that personally stands out. Although admittedly I didn’t really care about their relationship in the end, which I will come back to. Gene Hackman was also pretty good as the character of Avery. Also, some of the supporting characters are played by respectable actors who gave good performances throughout the picture. For example, Holly Hunter (Raising Arizona, The Incredibles), she played he character of Tammy Hemphill, Hunter’s performance delivered a lot of charm. It almost sounded fantastical and was almost shot up the sky high enough to reach over the top territory, but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t charming. Hunter’s performance was also nominated for an Academy Award by the way. One of my biggest surprises I encountered during the movie’s runtime is that Gary Busey (Point Break, Lethal Weapon) has a role in it. His performance is definitely one of the best in the entire movie and it was aced from scene one. He’s barely in it, but if you check this movie out, look forward to Busey.

The cinematography for this film, while somewhat conventional, was pretty good. This was shown during the scene towards the end of the movie with Tom Cruise running, which I personally like because it doesn’t really do any quick cutting or jumpcutting or anything like that.

Now let’s dive into my first negative of the film, and this is something which if you have seen the film, you’ll probably disagree with me on, and that is the music. Here’s the thing about the movie’s music, at times, it meshes well with the movie, but at other times, it could have been altered. In fact, the film is using a piano in a lot of it’s music, the way the piano’s being used almost reminds me of a silent film. If you like the movie’s music, that’s great! You’re allowed to like it, but it really just didn’t flow that well at times. On a sidenote, one reason why I brought up the possibility of you disagreeing with me on the music is because it received an Oscar nomination. By the way, the composer of this movie’s music, Dave Grusin, is also the composer of music featured in various films which came out before this one such as “The Goonies” and “Tootsie” and Grusin also happens to be the musical composer of various films which came out after this one such as “Hope Floats” and “Selena.”

Also, the pacing of this film seems to be all over the place. I don’t know about you, but I felt like I was watching a completely different movie than my mother (refer to third paragraph). While this is mainly a thriller, it almost felt like it wanted to focus a lot as a romance film. It almost felt like it wanted to be two different movies at once. Now don’t get me wrong, films that are about something in particular can have romances interjected in there, but this romance almost felt like unnecessary filler at times. Not to mention, I almost didn’t care for anyone because the movie itself bored me at times. There’s a moment where it becomes interesting, then it just goes back to the slow-paced borefest I was already used to. The runtime is 2 hours and 34 minutes long, I’ve witnessed longer films that are better than this, also to be fair I witnessed longer films that are worse than this. As someone who hasn’t read the book, this makes me kinda curious, why is the movie this long? I did a Google search and I found out that the book is 412 pages long, and part of me wonders how much of this movie was taken from the book. Was everything taken from the book? Was everything that was considered “necessary” taken from the book while other stuff was left behind? I kind of want to know. Although with school and everything I don’t really have much time to sit down and read right now, not to mention, movies are more fun! Sorry, books! I’m not saying the movie should completely eliminate the romance which is included in it, but the movie honestly, as a whole, feels convoluted. If it removes various things from the film, things I can’t really come up with right now due to my boredom making my brain lack material from this movie, it might be a better movie.

Before we get into the section where I deliver my verdict, I have a rather humorous story to tell you. I only watched “The Firm” once, meaning I only watched it for this review. I have a Twitter account, by the way, the handle is @JackDrees if you’re interested. On that account, one thing I do occasionally is promote my upcoming material here on Scene Before. When I promote my upcoming material, one thing I would usually do is search for GIFs, otherwise known as the video file that might as well have started a pronunciation war. When I search for GIFs, I try to find footage of something that correlates to the focal point of a post. For example, when I reviewed “Risky Business” as part of this Tom Cruise series, I searched for GIFs related to that, and in a couple promotions I went with a GIF which had Tom Cruise sliding across the floor in his underwear. Now when I decided to review “The Firm,” I went searching for GIFs right away. I typed in “the firm” and “the firm tom cruise.” Both times, I got GIFs featuring Tom Cruise, then I chose the first result. I didn’t even know what it was, it had Tom Cruise in it though, I thought it was good enough because I needed something to promote my review for “The Firm” which you are reading right now. So I inserted the GIF, tweeted, and soon started watching the movie. About an hour or so in, I go to Twitter, and I have a notification waiting for me. Some user I don’t even know who goes by the handle @MrsPetitions replies to me saying “This is from Rain Man though 😂.” First, I’d like to thank @MrsPetitions for the little factoid. Second, I’ve never seen “Rain Man,” so if you’re going to accuse me for my lack of movie knowledge, just be glad it’s not from a movie I’ve seen or a movie that doesn’t have Tom Cruise in it. Third, upon review, there were barely any GIFs I saw for “The Firm” whatsoever. Fourth, this almost set the tone for the movie. It’s almost like Twitter suffered brain damage and immediately forgot what “The Firm” was, you know, kind of like me right now. This movie is forgettable.

In the end, “The Firm” was disappointing. I went into it with, not necessarily high expectations, but based on my mother’s thoughts towards the movie, I was expecting it to be good. I like the cast of the movie, sometimes the dialogue works, the cinematography isn’t all that bad, the film does look presentable, but there aren’t really many qualities that stand out about this film. “The Firm” got some things right, but ultimately needs some improvement. Is the book any better? I don’t know, I never read it, but it will be some time before I come back to this film unless I need something to fall asleep to. I’m gonna give “The Firm” a 5/10. Thanks for reading this review, that’s the end of this Tom Cruise series, I hope to see “American Made” this weekend or some other time soon. I’ll also have you know this Wednesday I’ll be seeing “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” which I’m really excited for. As far as other upcoming movies go, I’m desperately hoping to catch “Blade Runner: 2049” on opening weekend, but I don’t know whether or not that’ll happen.

Also, I want to let you know that in the future I do have other reviews in mind for past movies, for example, next month I’ll probably review “Thor” and “Thor: The Dark World” in preparation for “Thor: Ragnarok” which comes out November 3rd. If you have any movies in mind that I should review for one reason or another, let me know about it and I’ll keep it in mind. Also, if you want to check out my other entries in this Tom Cruise review series, links to those are down below if you want to read those posts! Stay tuned for more reviews! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

“THE LAST SAMURAI” REVIEW: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2017/09/11/the-last-samurai-2003-not-a-perfect-blossom-but-not-a-bad-one-either/

“RISKY BUSINESS” REVIEW: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/risky-business-there-is-no-substitute/