Jurassic World: Dominion (2022): What in the Jurassic World Did I Just Watch?

“Jurassic World: Dominion” is directed by Colin Trevorrow, who also directed the 2015 “Jurassic World” film, which I thought was slightly flawed despite its neat visuals, booming score, and somewhat clever concept. This film stars Chris Pratt (The LEGO Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy), Bryce Dallas Howard (Spider-Man 3, The Help), Laura Dern (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Marriage Story), Jeff Goldblum (Thor: Ragnarok, The World According to Jeff Goldblum), Sam Neill (Peaky Blinders, Crusoe), DeWanda Wise (She’s Gotta Have It, Fatherhood), Mamoudou Athie (The Circle, The Front Runner), BD Wong (Kingdom Hearts II, Mr. Robot), Omar Sy (Transformers: The Last Knight, The Intouchables), and Campbell Scott (The Amazing Spider-Man, House of Cards). This film is set in a time where dinosaurs are roaming the earth, they’re unleashed, there is no stopping them.

Actually, no… That was the promise that was given in that one short film that was shown in IMAX and eventually put online… But no! We have to settle for a comparatively boring story where the same dull human characters we have seen waltz through two movies, fight against a genetics research giant whose main goal is to conduct research on dinosaurs.

You hear that? That stomping on the ground? That is not a dinosaur. That is me, walking out of the theater in ire.

If you want a hint on what I thought of “Jurassic World: Dominion,” here it goes… “Jurassic World: Dominion” can be summed up in one word. And if I were writing this review for an outlet like The New York Times or The Boston Globe, I would probably be fired. Want another hint? It is literally a word in the title. It is not “ur,” and it is definitely not “sic.” Why would it be?

It is in between those two words, even if they do not spell exactly what I am trying to say.

Summer blockbuster season is in full swing! This means I will be talking about films including “Lightyear,” which will be my next review, “Thor: Love and Thunder,” which comes out in July, and “Bullet Train,” due in August for instance. But before we get to those films, we have to talk about “Jurassic World: Dominion,” exhibit A for what is wrong with Hollywood. I know this sounds like an exaggeration, but it is kind of true. “Jurassic World: Dominion” is continuing the trend where we see elder actors return to play their roles another time, giving either prominent screentime, fan service, or possibly both.

Sony, who to be clear, is not in any way responsible for the “Jurassic Park” franchise and its distribution, is no stranger to this given the recent release of “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” where we see the original cast, minus Harold Ramis (RIP) return to bust ghosts. “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” the biggest movie of the past year, saw a ton of older characters return with their respective actors portraying them one more time. But I actually liked those films. “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” was as charming as it was nostalgic. It was kind of like “The Force Awakens” but more intimate. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is a concept that could have made for a fun YouTube video, but they some how managed to turn into a wildly entertaining two and a half hour movie that honestly felt shorter than it really was at times. It was perfectly paced, relatable, and surprisingly dramatic. Although I do have mixed thoughts on the ending.

Whereas “Spider-Man: No Way Home” could have been taken as a concept that presents itself as a boardroom idea from out of touch executives, Kevin Feige, Amy Pascal, and director Jon Watts managed to make a movie that I will watch again and again for years. “Jurassic World: Dominion” on the other hand deserves to be struck by an asteroid. This is the worst “Jurassic” movie yet. “Dominion” is worse than “Jurassic Park III,” which despite its awfulness, can almost be perceived as something watchable under the influence of alcohol. And at least it is the shortest film in the franchise.

“Jurassic World: Dominion” is the opposite. In addition to being the longest film in its series, it tries to pack in so many ideas, some of which could be cool, but does not understand what to do with them. When I went to see “F9: The Fast Saga,” another Universal tentpole that made me want to gouge my eyes out, I was treated to an exclusive short film set in the world of the “Jurassic” franchise where we see dinosaurs roaming the planet, invading life as we know it. There is a fun scene at a drive-in that is also featured in the marketing of this movie, including a Progressive Insurance ad. NOTHING in this movie was as entertaining or watchable as that short. In fact, the whole unleashing of the dinosaurs plotline takes a backseat during the film because the kiddies do not want to see dinosaurs eating people! No. No. No. They want to see what Tim Cook would do if he had dinosaurs in his sights. That is what the kids like!

If you are new to Scene Before, hi, my name is Jack, and I like “Star Wars!” Time for yet another of one of my “Star Wars” comparisons! If anything, “Jurassic World: Dominion” is “Jurassic Park’s” answer to “The Rise of Skywalker,” one of the most poorly received “Star Wars” films of all time. Both films attempt to bring back older characters, conclude several movies that came before it, and I would like to add another rung to this ladder. If anything, “Jurassic World: Dominion” also feels like “The Last Jedi” because in “Jurassic” speak, “Fallen Kingdom” ends a certain way, only to have its follow-up barely do anything noteworthy with that film’s ending. The first act of “Dominion” feels like a giant “no” to particular elements to the film that came before it. That “no” supposedly came from Colin Trevorrow, who, get this, was once attached to direct what would become “The Rise of Skywalker.” At least “The Rise of Skywalker” was fun despite its flaws. At least “The Last Jedi” came off as a bold attempt to do something fresh in a historic franchise. Sure, this movie introduces an Apple-esque, genetics-based company, which we have not seen in other installments, but “The Last Jedi” actually got genuine reactions out of me, whether it meant laughing or cringing. “The Last Jedi” was a movie that swung for the fences in such a dramatic fashion only to fail. You can say “Jurassic World: Dominion” did that with its stacked cast, including franchise veterans Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum. But that is all shrouded within a film that feels like it was crafted in a single corporate meeting.

I caught up on all of the “Jurassic Park” movies prior to seeing “Jurassic World: Dominion.” If you ever read my review for Marvel’s “Black Panther,” I claimed that the film has the most forced kiss in cinematic history. Given the film’s not so perfect chemistry between Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, 2015’s “Jurassic World” is an arguable competitor for such a throne. I have no idea how these two are still together. Their lines do not feel genuine, the only reason why they feel like they belong together is because the script has lines that indicate such a thing. Well that, and they are raising a child together at this point. Their relationship never feels earned, and I am not exactly fond of either of them. Sure, Chris Pratt has some occasional fun bits training and taming dinosaurs, and Bryce Dallas Howard has developed… Decency, I guess, since her 2015 debut. Compared to the 2015 “Jurassic World,” these two sequels have admittedly gone downhill in terms of story and character development in the same way that they have gone downhill with epic dinosaur action. While I was never a fan of Bryce Dallas Howard in the original “Jurassic World,” I at least thought her two nephews were well written for who they were. I barely remember anyone specific in this latest installment. Yes, I know of the characters in this movie, but I could barely tell you about any of their quirks or anything remotely positive about them. With each installment in the “Jurassic” saga, less and less soul is there. I am not as wowed or engaged as I once was with the ideas this franchise is known for.

That is not to say there is no tension or stakes in “Jurassic World” whatsoever. Speaking of Bryce Dallas Howard, there is one scene in the film that is exclusively between her and a dinosaur. It is one of the quietest moments of the entire picture. It goes on for a minute or two, but I thought it was easily the most engaging segment of the two and a half hours we got. In a film whose dinosaur action is comparatively lesser than its counterparts, this was a welcome highlight.

The original “Jurassic Park,” much like its sequels, was synonymous with epic dinosaur action, but it successfully interweaved a human story with excellence. The cast played their characters to the best of their abilities and the script did them favors. I often think of the 1993 film as a visual achievement before anything else, showcasing effects that continue to hold up to this day, but it does not mean the story is an afterthought. The idea is simple. People create dinosaurs, dinosaurs eat people, and the main characters try to survive to the very end. There is more to it, but the movie gives you enough reasons within a couple hours to make you invested in the story and characters. It makes you root for the characters running away from the dinosaurs. The characters in “Jurassic World: Dominion” lacked such charisma, and therefore, the movie suffers as a result.

Even when the film has an okay idea on how to give a proper motivation for its characters, such as Maisie Lockwood who spends the movie, wanting more, simply put, it does not result in a satisfying progression. Maisie’s respective performer, Isabella Sermon, does a fine job with the material given to her, but her lines and motivation seem surface level and do not add to the film’s entertainment value. That is if there even is any to begin with. This film had a couple okay concepts in addition to Maisie’s desires. There was a dinosaur black market. There was a chase scene between Chris Pratt and a dinosaur that had Tom Cruise “Mission: Impossible” vibes. Even bringing back the original cast could have worked! Although the script failed to bring these characters into a classy, compelling story. But you also have these comparatively boring concepts like a Tim Cook wannabe doing research on dinosaurs, not to mention locusts of all things antagonizing everyone it can find. Because when I think big, loud dinosaur movies… I think locusts… Come on.

“Jurassic Park” is one of the best major motion pictures of its time. What Steven Spielberg and crew were able to do with the aesthetical nature and effects in “Jurassic Park” influenced a multitude of content that came after. Sadly, the sequels, for the most part, fail to recapture the magic of the original, with “Dominion” being the latest example. If you want my two cents, if it is a Friday, you have nothing to do, “Jurassic Park” is a great option for your movie night. I also recommend “The Lost World” to a degree, and “Jurassic World,” despite its lackluster characterization, is pretty and thrilling enough to get you through two hours. It is not exactly insulting, but it is somewhat dumbed down compared to the 1993 original. “Jurassic World: Dominion” makes the original “Jurassic World” look like “The Shawshank Redemption” in comparison. Do not watch this movie, do not support this movie. If you want to watch a more entertaining summer popcorn movie, give your money to “Top Gun: Maverick.” As a legacy sequel, “Maverick” honors its original counterpart, while also effectively progressing the life of a core character that was introduced many years ago. “Jurassic World: Dominion” fails with its new characters, it fails with its old characters, and most of all, it fails with me, the one who paid $16, not including an online fee and a 3D surcharge, to see this unforgivable abomination.

In the end, “Jurassic World: Dominion” managed to do the impossible. It managed to make a feature-length, big budget story heavily revolving around dinosaurs, and have it come off as the most tiring concept ever realized. Even after watching “Fallen Kingdom” I did not feel as tired. Maybe it is because this is the sixth movie, but “Jurassic Park” does not feel special anymore. Its novelty has worn off. Sure, this is a huge moneymaker for Universal, and I would not be surprised if we saw more content with the “Jurassic” label attached in the coming years despite this movie being marketed as “the conclusion of the Jurassic era,” but my hope is that something is done to heavily revitalize this iconic brand. “Jurassic Park” is a literal innovation to cinema. Ever since, we have gotten uninteresting characters, cookie cutter dialogue, and despite some okay concepts, the execution ends up being a far cry from what such concepts can promise. I am going to give “Jurassic World: Dominion” a generous 3/10.

And I have a feeling that could change to a 2 at any point in time…

“Jurassic World: Dominion” is now playing in theatres everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for the brand new Pixar film, “Lightyear.” I went to go see this film twice, which should be a hint as to what I thought about it. Stay tuned for more thoughts as they come along! If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Jurassic World: Dominion?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a franchise you think has overstayed its welcome? I apologize to Universal, but unless “Fast X” delivers something fresh, “Fast & Furious” might be my answer… Either way, let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Northman (2022): A Hero’s Journey Collides with Robert Eggers’s Insane Personality

“The Northman” is directed by Robert Eggers (The Lighthouse, The Witch) and stars Alexander Skarsgård (The Legend of Tarzan, Big Little Lies), Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos, Bombshell), Claes Bang (The Burnt Orange Heresy, The Girl in the Spider’s Web), Anya Taylor-Joy (Emma., The Queen’s Gambit), Ethan Hawke (Moon Knight, First Reformed), Björk, and Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man, Platoon). This film is about Prince Amleth, who loses his father and sees his mother get captured at a young age. Holding an infinite desire to avenge his father and save his mother, Amleth joins a band of Vikings, who raise him as a berserker.

PARK CITY, UT – JANUARY 26: Director/writer Robert Eggers of “The Witch” poses for a portrait at the Village at the Lift Presented by McDonald’s McCafe during the 2015 Sundance Film Festival on January 26, 2015 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

Robert Eggers is a filmmaker I do not traditionally think about all that much, but I have grown to respect him. If anything, I think my experience with Robert Eggers is equal to my experience with Ari Aster, who released “Hereditary” in 2018, and followed it up with “Midsommar” in 2019. Well, specifically, I mean this in reverse. Because the first movie I saw from Eggers was “The Witch,” which despite its quirky shots and angles, and non-traditional aspect ratio, left me feeling icky to the point where I hated myself for watching it. The next movie I saw from him, which if for some reason if you are still on the Robert Pattinson hate train, I recommend you watch, is “The Lighthouse.” That movie ended up being one of the most wonderfully weird films I have watched… Probably ever. Looking back, it kind of makes me want to invite a bro or two to my place, bring out some drinks, and dance to some old timey songs like maniacs.

Seriously, if “dope” had a current dictionary definition, they should literally implement this scene into it.

But with that said, I think it is important to note that my feelings regarding “The Northman” going into it were rather positive. I was gonna go see “Everything, Everywhere, All at Once,” but due to a conflict regarding someone I planned to see it with, it did not look like such a thing would work out. So I decided to use what free time I had and go see this movie instead.

It was… Interesting.

I feel like one of the best and worst things about films made by directors like Robert Eggers is that you probably don’t know all of what you’re going to get. But it doesn’t mean that Eggers’s quirkiness can always potentially sacrifice good storytelling. In fact, my first notable positive of the film is that the first act has pretty much everything I could want out of a movie like this. It properly sets up the world, solidly introduces some of the characters, including our main protagonist, has surprisingly halfway decent toilet humor, and even a menacingly intriguing presence from Willem Dafoe. The more I think about Willem Dafoe, the more I admire him as a performer. He practically commits to just about anything he chooses to do. I would love to see a role of his where he’s just sitting on the couch, watching television, and I am sure he’d still have the potential to be recognized during awards season. His role in the movie is not a big one, but it is one that I am sure if you saw it, you definitely won’t forget it. Unfortunately, I probably have forgotten about some of this movie. Partially because it has been a few weeks since I have seen it, but if you take out all of the weirdness of the film, some of the traits that are taken from other, perhaps better stories become more noticeable. And it would be fine if the rest of the movie kept my interest, but I will be real with you, I was checking the time to find out when the heck this thing was going to end.

I did not hate this film as much as “The Witch,” but I certainly did not adore it as much as “The Lighthouse.”

This is the biggest feature Eggers has done yet. Between a full-scale adventure that spans from land to water to the large cast, this movie ain’t small. Like, take the cast of “The Lighthouse” and multiply it by 25 or something. And I think the cast overall did a really good job. Alexander Skarsgård is incredibly convincing is a brooding, gritty main hero who wants nothing more than to avenge his father’s death. And I should not be surprised considering how he played Tarzan in the past in, coincidentally, another movie I maybe do not plan to watch again anytime soon despite liking when I saw it.

Nicole Kidman also gives one of the best performances in the film, delivering convincing line after convincing line, she is a true chameleon. I will also point out her look for this film. It blends in perfectly with the time period this movie is going for.

I would also like to give a mention to Anya Taylor-Joy because in addition to her well-executed performance as Olga of the Birch Forest, this movie seems to show that Eggers is bringing in his favorite co-workers from the past, either that, or actors really like working with him. Perhaps both ideas click here. We’ve seen Eggers bring back Willem Dafoe for a small role, Anya Taylor-Joy was also directed by Eggers in “The Witch.” When I think of actor/director relationships, my mind instantly goes to Michael Caine and Christopher Nolan, or Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi, or Bill Murray and Wes Anderson. I will likely be watching more of Eggers’s work if he decides to make more movies, so I will be curious if either of these actors will become a mainstay for Eggers and continue to work together for every movie they do. It’s show business, not show friends, but sometimes business can allow you to make friends along the way.

This movie had a great start, and frankly an intriguing visual outlook to it. One of the best things about a movie or a TV show is that it make you forget where you are. I did not feel like I was watching this movie somewhere in Burlington, Massachusetts, I instead felt like I was transported to the high seas. I think this movie manages to capture a better sense of escapism compared to some others I have seen. As much as I liked “The Tender Bar,” the escapism does not feel as authentic when you remember that Long Island does not have candlepin bowling. That said, I did not hate this movie, I just wish the story and characters brought me in as much as the quirks and visuals did.

In the end, “The Northman” is a movie that is DEFINITELY not for everyone, and I honestly do not know if it was for me. And it feels odd saying that, because I like a stylistic movie. I like a movie that is different. But I also like the classic hero’s journey. But I have seen weird done better. I have seen the hero’s journey done better. I’ve seen an uncle killing their nephew’s father in front of their own eyes done better in “The Lion King!” Well, the 1994 one, the new one is a waste of time. I probably will watch this movie again at some point, I don’t know when specifically, because I think it could warrant a second viewing. Although for now, I don’t hate the movie, but I do not particularly love it either. Let’s meet near the middle in terms of the verdict and confirm that I am giving “The Northman” a 6/10. It’s a positive grade because a lot of the movie’s strengths are evident and prominent from start to finish, but it also bored me, left me slightly uninterested at times, and when it comes to the Robert Eggers library, I prefer “The Lighthouse” by a long shot. For those of you who have not watched “The Lighthouse,” it may not be your cup of tea, but much like “The Northman,” it is a movie that I think you HAVE to see at least once to find out if it really is your cup of tea.

“The Northman” is now playing in theaters and is available to buy or rent through a VOD provider of your choice.

Thanks for reading this review! If you liked this review, I have more coming soon! Be sure to stay tuned for my thoughts on “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness!” If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Northman?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite film from Robert Eggers? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Last Night in Soho (2021): BEST NIGHT EVER!

“Last Night in Soho” is directed by Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Baby Driver), and stars Thomasin McKenzie (Leave No Trace, Jojo Rabbit), Anya Taylor-Joy (Emma., The Queen’s Gambit), Matt Smith (Doctor Who, The Crown), Michael Ajao (Silent Witness, Attack the Block), Terence Stamp (Superman, Billy Budd), and Diana Rigg (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Game of Thrones). This film is about a young girl named Eloise, or Ellie, who aspires to be a fashion designer. She decides that she’s gonna try to make it big and in doing so, she moves to London to study at the London College of Fashion. One night, Ellie finds herself magically transported to the 1960s, where she encounters a young singer named Sandie. Throughout we follow Ellie’s journey as she stalks the singer and finds out more about her, maybe more than one would prefer.

“Last Night in Soho” was a particularly interesting movie on the surface in terms of its marketing, because it is one of the few movies I’ve barely seen marketed either through movie trailers in the theater, social media, or television, but every time I saw it, I found myself intrigued. If anything, it’s because of colors. I think ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been enamored with neon. To this point, and I’ve probably mentioned this once or twice in Scene Before history, neon is probably my favorite chemical element. And when you are setting a film in a city and passage of times like the ones at hand, there are quite a few opportunities for dazzlingly colorful scenes, which spoiler, this film has plenty of. It feels weird to say that though, because this film often presents itself as a horror show.

From start to finish, if you look at the film from a certain point of view, it is the less than fortunate life of a rising star, that being Anya Taylor-Joy’s character of Sandie. The character has immense talent and confidence, but she also is in a way being controlled by men, which we see throughout the film. Although that is not the main story, and instead, just a fraction of it.

I’m gonna be real with you. This film f*cking slaps. I was gonna go see this at a press screening, but I ended up not going. But once I saw that one of my local venues was showing this movie in 35mm film, I jumped at the opportunity to watch it. Having seen it, the film is bloody magical, mystical, kind of in a realistic rainbow and unicorn kind of way, but somehow, it finds a way to be scary. I remember seeing the trailer for this film back in the spring, and I was slightly jarred by it, not because it didn’t look good, but I was not sure what they were trying to go for. Is it a horror movie? Is it about music? Something maybe more erotic? At the same time though, this is a good example of how trailers should be done. Give a basic taste and feel of how the movie could go, but don’t spoonfeed the audience. Granted, that was just a teaser trailer. I actually never saw the legit, full-length trailer they put out before the film hit theaters which gives more of an indication of how things go, but that may have made me kind of glad. I went in somewhat blind, but walked out happy. Very happy in fact.

At its heart, I would not call “Last Night in Soho” a thriller nor a horror, I’d call it a coming of age story. I don’t mean that in a John Hughes kind of way where there’s comedy and shenanigans going on like in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” or “Weird Science,” but in the OTHER John Hughes kind of way where a young kid is trying to become an adult and they have to adapt to something unfamiliar or something they may prefer to avoid. In our main protagonist’s case, she’s been living in a rural environment all her life, but one day, she decides to make this enormous transition by going to college, and living in London. And of course, moving to the big city in a case like this can feel incredibly overwhelming. You almost don’t even know where to start. This would be a hard enough story for our main character to go through, but then you have a rabbit hole that develops in the 1960s from which she cannot stray away.

The other thing that ties this film together is the performances. Much of the film, specifically in the 1960s portion is about the chemistry, if you really want to call it that, between Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy. I really like these two whenever they’re in the same scenes together because you have McKenzie who is young, curious, and wants to find her way in the world. Meanwhile, you have Anya Taylor-Joy’s character, who like McKenzie, is not that old either, but she has maybe had some experience that hindered with her ability to do things from one day to the next. The whole idea of Thomasin McKenzie going to London was to be something bigger than herself, follow her passion of fashion design. Anya Taylor-Joy is sort of going through the same thing as an entertainer, a singer. And we see McKenzie, prior to her time travel adventures, she is obsessed with the 1960s period from a fashion perspective, so to have her travel here would be somewhat appropriate while also providing an increasingly edge of your seat story.

Honestly, I don’t know if Anya Taylor-Joy will win an Oscar this year, but when it comes to showing the physical beauty of the 1960s, she shines, but there’s also another side to her character, Sandie, where she seemingly refuses to embrace such beauty. After all, even though she is kind of finding her passion right in front of her, she’s also being followed and affected by all these men surrounding her.

Now this is the part of the review where I am supposed to come in with some sort of random flaw that I experienced with the film. Something like pacing, which was great. Maybe the music was not that memorable. There actually was some decent music to be honest, maybe not my favorite score of the year, I’d have to listen to it separately to fully judge. Maybe there was one performance that didn’t line up with the others. Not true, everyone felt like they were in sync. I’m sure if I thought hard enough, I could come up with something, because no movie’s perfect. But at the top of my head, I cannot think of anything. This movie had a promising beginning with a likable character, and capped itself off with one of the most mind-blowing endings I have seen in some time. My jaw was on the floor in the last twenty minutes. There are definitely scarier horror flicks out there depending on what you’re looking for, but I don’t choose to see it in that light. If you look at this film, like I did, as a coming of age story, it is one of the most entertaining and thrilling that has ever been done. Edgar Wright directed the crap out of this. Technically, this has some of my favorite shots and lighting of the year. If I were getting a new television, this would be a phenomenal test movie.

In the end, “Last Night in Soho,” oh my god! I have not seen anything like this in a long time! As for whether it will end up as my favorite movie of 2021, I am not sure. I have another movie that could take that spot, but if you want to know how much I enjoyed “Last Night in Soho,” this movie took me much longer to review than the other potential favorite, and the fact that I am still thinking about it, perhaps more than the NEXT movies I’m going to review, says something. If you go into this movie expecting a horror or thriller, I will warn you, you won’t walk out disappointed, but I did not walk out of this film having enjoyed one of those types of films. I walked out having enjoyed one of the single greatest coming of age tales I have ever watched. Whether it is a horror, thriller, or a coming of age story like I suggested, it does not change the fact that I’m going to give “Last Night in Soho” a 10/10!

“Last Night in Soho” is now playing in theaters everywhere and is available to buy on a VOD service of your choice.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for the all new MCU film, “Eternals.” FINALLY, I’m talking about this! There’s literally another MCU film around the corner! So for that reason, this review needs to be to done! I also have reviews coming for “Red Notice,” “Ron’s Gone Wrong,” “King Richard,” “Encanto,” and “Sing 2.” Six reviews coming up! That’s quite a list! And I’m also planning to see “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” pretty soon, so yeah, I’ve got a lot on my plate. If you want to see all this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, be sure to check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Last Night in Soho?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite decade? Fabulous Fifties? Rad Eighties? Maybe we’re going really retro with somewhere in Medieval Times? Let me know what your favorite decade is down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Dear Evan Hansen (2021): A Lackluster Adaptation of the Ben Platt-Starring Musical

“Dear Evan Hansen” is directed by Stephen Chbosky (Wonder, The Perks of Being a Wallflower) and stars Ben Platt (Pitch Perfect, The Politician), Julianne Moore (The Big Lebowski, Kingsman: The Golden Circle) Kaitlyn Dever (Unbelievable, Booksmart), Amandla Stenberg (The Darkest Minds, The Hate U Give), Nik Dodani (Murphy Brown, Escape Room), Colton Ryan (Little Voice, Homeland), Danny Pino (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Mayans M.C.), and Amy Adams (Arrival, American Hustle). This film is based on the Broadway show of the same name, which also stars Ben Platt, and follows Evan Hansen as he copes with a social anxiety disorder and finds himself falling down a rabbit hole after the sudden suicide of a classmate, whose sister he crushes on.

I have never been exposed to the musical version of “Dear Evan Hansen,” in fact my earliest memory of seeing anything related to it was by first seeing a trailer for this movie in the theater. I cannot remember if it was “Free Guy” or something else, it might have been “Free Guy,” but I saw the trailer before some movie, and it gave a pleasant first impression from the music and supposed balance of lightheartedness mixed in with serious drama. Then people started talking about Ben Platt’s age, which I did not care about at first, but the Internet has this fiendish method of sucking you into the latest trend that I inevitably got a closer look at Platt from time to time and thought, “Okay…”

If you want my honest thoughts on “Dear Evan Hansen” I can tell you right now that I do not have plans to watch this movie again. Musicals are not my preferred genre, but I should also note that my mother, who is probably more likely to watch musicals than me, watched this movie, and she found the tunes lacking in charm and style. She and I agreed that there are certain segments that are oddly placed and it kind of reminded me of when you’re in school, you’re writing an essay, and because your teacher likes rules, they want you to put in a certain number of transitions. Some of the transitions feel out of left field and almost anger-inducing at times. The songs honestly don’t sound as great as I would have expected either. The movie has two periods. Dead air and uninteresting songs. Nothing more.

No, seriously! This movie has some of the worst pacing I felt all year. I do not need all my movies to go bam bam licketdy split on a popsicle stick, but this movie feels absurdly slow in the worst possible way, and it did not need to be as long as it is. The final runtime comes out to 2 hours and 17 minutes. This movie could have been better if it lost five minutes. Even better if it lost ten minutes. Who knows? Maybe it needed to lose a half hour and one or two songs. The movie elongates in certain scenes, wastes its time, not to mention my time. By the end, part of me is surprised I did not fall asleep. I guess if I’m tired I could watch this movie again, it has that going for it. I mean, if some of the dead air was to promote the social awkwardness between one or two people, then sure, I guess the movie did its job. But it just didn’t work for me. For all I know this works better on a stage than it does in a movie, but if that’s the case, it shows that not everything translates to film. When “In the Heights” is longer and I gave it a more positive look than I did with “Dear Evan Hansen,” that’s a bit of a problem. Granted, it’s only longer by several minutes, but still.

As I watched this movie, I kept looking at Ben Platt, then I looked at his face. I kept looking. …And looking. …And looking some more. Obviously, this harkens back to the age problem. When your film’s star is distracting based on his looks, that’s a red flag. I turned to my mom at one point and told her “This guy looks like Jerry Seinfeld.” And I meant THAT Seinfeld from the 1990s. Every other minute as I type this review, I can almost imagine Ben Platt in a Puffy shirt singing his ass off. Do I think Ben Platt is a bad actor? Not really. Although I should note he’s nowhere near my favorite, nor should he be. I’ve only seen him in “Pitch Perfect” just to be clear, and it’s been years since I’ve seen that movie. But at the same time, watching his performance was a tad awkward, not only because of how old he looks on screen, but at times I did not completely buy into some of his mannerisms. There are certain scenes where Platt’s character is a fine embodiment of the movie’s message, but others where watching him is kind of on the cringe side. I do not know what to say. Even in some of the better scenes I would wonder what they were thinking casting him. Yes, he was in the original show, but do we really need him here?

I have a strong feeling that if Ben Platt’s father, Marc Platt, were not producing this movie, there’s a chance that Ben Platt would probably be more involved behind the scenes and let somebody else take the lead role. Look guys, I am all for family members or people who are related getting together to make movies, but my advice is to ease with caution on your projects otherwise you’ll just end up becoming the next Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone. Gosh, “Superintelligence” was a trainwreck.

In a way, I kind of relate to the main character of Evan Hansen because I never had much of a social life in high school, I think to some degree I had trouble talking to other people, including girls. I just think certain parts of Evan Hansen’s character were exaggerated to such a degree that it took me out of the movie. Granted, it is a musical, and musicals have a tradition of being exaggerated, but my suspense of disbelief can only go so high. Plus, the journey itself that Evan Hansen takes, the fact that he’s living a lie to pretend to the world he has a friend so he can feel good about himself and others around him, kind of made my brain shake. There are worse lies you could tell, but it’s hard to relate to the hero or root for him when the objective of the story is to lie about being friends with someone to share a positive message, all the while being a viral sensation on YouTube. It’s like if I went on a world tour lecturing about the dangers of caffeine and what it can do you, then I go back into my hotel and get a couple Diet Cokes from the vending machine every night. I don’t know. This movie’s an enigma. I get that likable characters cannot be perfect, not everyone can be Superman, characters have to have weaknesses, but something about this story, even with the positive message it provides, kind of turned me off by the end. Maybe I am a hypocrite because not too long ago I started watching HBO’s “Avenue 5” and one thing I liked about the main character was how he advertised himself as the captain of his ship, but he got by because he was charming. He was a flat out liar to the public eye, because behind the scenes, he didn’t know anything. I like the main character on the show for that reason and how his story is handled throughout the couple episodes I’ve seen at least. Ben Platt is an okay singer when the movie allows him to be, but his character became less relatable as the story progressed, and when you have a somewhat lackluster main character, then I do not see the point of returning to this film to watch it a second time.

In the end, “Dear Evan Hansen” is probably one of the more painful movie experiences I had this year, because unlike another musical adaptation that came out in recent years, “Cats,” I actually had some semblance of excitement for this movie. The trailer looked good. The music sounded good. But the actual movie failed to impress me. It’s boring, it has a main character I related to less and less throughout the film, and honestly the musical soundtrack was a bit lackluster for my taste. When you make a musical and the soundtrack collectively is not even halfway decent, then that’s a failure. This is not the worst movie of the year, I’d rather watch “Dear Evan Hansen” over “Tom & Jerry,” but I am going to give “Dear Evan Hansen” a 3/10.

“Dear Evan Hansen” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! Be sure to stay tuned for my review of “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” the movie where murder can happen and murder will happen. It’s called Murdphy’s Law! I made it myself. If you want to see this review and more upcoming content, be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account! Also, like the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Dear Evan Hansen?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a role that you think someone was either too young or too old to play when they portrayed the character? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Nobody (2021): Bob Odenkirk Seeks Revenge Over a Kitty Cat Bracelet, and It’s Worth the Watch

“Nobody” is directed by Ilya Naishuller, who also directed one of the first films I reviewed on Scene Before, “Hardcore Henry,” and stars Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad, Nebraska), Connie Nielsen (Wonder Woman, The Following), Aleksei Serebryakov (Leviathan, McMafia), RZA (The Dead Don’t Die, Mr. Right), Michael Ironside (Superman: The Animated Series, Turbo Kid), Colin Salmon (Tomorrow Never Dies, Krypton), and Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future, Clue). This is a revenge flick centered around a guy named Hutch Mansell, who seemingly lives a normal life. He has his job that he goes to every day, he has his routine, he his wife and kids at home. He’s in some ways, a typical suburban dad. Note: I said some ways, because hidden behind this persona is a past where he was an auditor, or an assassin who kills people that are impossible to arrest. But he left his action-packed past so he can have the family he has now. But just because he has a family, does not mean life is completely quiet, as the house suffers through an overnight break-in. Hutch lets the invading party go off with select items, to where he’s questioned by his son and others in his life. However, not long after, Hutch goes on a revenge quest, where he somewhat harkens back to his days as an assassin.

There is something about revenge movies that are pleasing. Minus a couple things that are intertwined here and there, these movies are mostly simple, action-filled experiences that bring on the fun. One of my favorite movies of the past year is a revenge film, albeit much different regarding plot and story, specifically “Promising Young Woman.” But I saw the trailer, both green band and red band, for “Nobody” a number of times, and all I wanted out of this film was some cool fights, funny one-liners, and fast-paced scenes. And that is exactly what I got, and maybe a little more.

– New York, NY – 10/8/16 – Derek Kolstad (Screenwriter) at John Wick: Chapter 2 Lionsgate’s New York Comic Con Panel -Pictured: Derek Kolstad (Screenwriter) -Photo by: Marion Curtis/StarPix

This film comes from writer and producer Derek Kolstad, who also wrote one of the most iconic action movies of the 2010s, “John Wick.” Now I like “John Wick,” I’ll even admit that the sequels honestly are an improvement over the original to an extent, they know how to have more fun and just go nuts. “Nobody” perhaps to a lack of surprise, takes some of the beats that “John Wick” manages to have in its movie. But “Nobody” gets away with it for some new things it introduces and the fact that it puts the idea of making an entertaining action thriller first. Despite the similarities, “Nobody” never feels like it is trying too hard to pay homage to or copy and paste from something else, it is its own thing. But it does not mean there are not clichés. Some include having the main character have something be taken away, the main character going back to their roots to move the plot along, and occasional quips from one character to another. These are not disses on the movie, after all, these clichés were done well! It made for an entertaining product.

To say this is a “John Wick”-like movie would be an understatement. In fact, like glimmers of “John Wick,” which mostly stands out to me for being fun, it also aces in regard to its serious moments as well. One of the more iconic moments of “John Wick” is that moment when the title character’s dog gets killed, which is a catalyst for him seeking revenge. This movie has an animal-related revenge story as well. Although it has nothing to do with a dog, or a living creature.

It has to do with a kitty-cat bracelet.

The reveal for this is almost the best part of the movie and one of the reasons why “Nobody” aces its goal of not always having to take itself seriously. Now, I already knew that from the trailer that this would be in the film, but I did not expect it to be as paramount as it is. I do not want to go into complete spoiler territory, but the reveal for this in the film plays out like a scene from a Fox primetime cartoon like “The Simpsons” or “Family Guy.” The moment that Hutch’s young daughter, Abby (Paisley Cadorath), starts complaining that her precious item is gone and specifies exactly what that item is, is almost flat out hysterical. Because of ALL THINGS, this… Kitty cat bracelet, is the one thing that we see pushes Hutch over the edge and gets him to go out and bust some heads. Not having a watch stolen, not having money stolen, not having the house simply broken into at night.

A kitty cat bracelet.

I mean, seriously! Hutch’s reaction kind of reminded me of “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” because I can totally see a scene in either one of those two shows where Homer Simpson or Peter Griffin respectively hear something as simple as a show being cancelled or the McRib being off the menu at McDonald’s again and that causes them to go on a rampage. If there is a film that I think could work well as inspiration for an animated spinoff, “Nobody” is an arguable contender.

But at the same time, this is a film that does the best it can to deliver a gritty, well-shot, and violent thriller every step of the way. The action in this film is well-choreographed, I can mostly tell who is fighting who, and it occasionally gets a laugh out of me. There is a scene on a city bus that nails this description.

One of the best parts of Bob Odenkirk’s character of Hutch is his relatability. Again, kind of like “John Wick” if you ask me. I got to stop saying that. He’s a 9 to 5 guy and a family man at the same time, so I would say that he is just a simple guy with extraordinary qualities, he’s a well thought out protagonist. I could buy into all of his motives at the beginning despite what others say about him. Think about it, when someone breaks into your house, what matters to you? Yes, your possessions are important, but living to fight another day is a priority as well, perhaps one that is even greater. Not to mention, he had a family to protect too. Sometimes you are in a situation where you have to pick your poison. I really like Hutch and I would not mind seeing him in a sequel.

Actor Christopher Lloyd arrives at Smiles from the Stars: A Tribute to the Life and Work of Roy Scheider at The Beverly Hills Hotel on April 4, 2009 in Beverly Hills, California. A Tribute To The Life And Work Of Roy Scheider – Red Carpet The Beverly Hills Hotel Beverly Hills, California United States April 4, 2009 Photo by John Shearer/WireImage.com To license this image (57129316), contact WireImage.com

Now Bob Odenkirk is great in this movie. So is Connie Nielsen, so is just about everyone else, but I also want to point out the comedic genius of Christopher Lloyd. To me, he will forever be known as Emmett Brown, that is inevitable, but Lloyd slaps in this film, mainly due to how his character is written. I will not say much, but we see him as this elderly man who just happens to be Hutch’s father, but without going into detail, he has some other qualities to him that almost come out of nowhere. Just watch the movie, but there is a moment that will likely have many of you grinning like an idiot around the halfway point or so. You’ll see what I mean.

Although I do want to talk about one thing. Per usual, I saw this movie a month ago. I hope I get to a point where I can review stuff I have recently seen, but this is just the way it is. But even though this is a fun action movie that is incredibly balls to the wall, it’s rated R, it goes for the edge, there is one presence that is lacking in this film, and that is a threat. Yes, there is one in the film, but the antagonistic side of things is honestly somewhat forgettable. At the same time though, the protagonistic presence is hypnotizing, which sort of makes up for the flaw. And, this once again, harkens back to “John Wick.” It has great buildup, and even though the climax is entertaining, the antagonistic side is not that memorable. I don’t know, maybe it is just me.

In the end, “Nobody” is a movie that everybody should see. That is if you really like action and violence that is taken up a notch. I keep making comparisons to “John Wick,” but this does not mean that “Nobody” is a bad movie, it just means that a lot of the great things that appear in “John Wick” make an appearance in here as well and it ends up being beneficial. Great action, likable characters, fast-paced editing, and stellar cinematography. What more could you ask for? I would definitely watch “Nobody” a second time, maybe on a Friday night when I am at home or something and I am going to give it a 7/10.

“Nobody” is now playing in select theaters and is also available through VOD services such as Xfinity On Demand, VUDU, and Prime Video to rent or buy.

Thanks for reading this review. My next review is for the battle of the year. Not humans vs. coronavirus, not Pepsi vs. Coke, and DEFINITELY not “Tom & Jerry,” it is “Godzilla vs. Kong.” I saw the movie in March, once more in April, and I cannot wait to finally give you my thoughts on it! Everybody’s seeing it, so I might as well pitch in and do my part to be in the conversation! That review should be up by next week, but we shall see. Tonight I watched “Mortal Kombat,” which is in theaters and on HBO Max. The film is based on the popular video game franchise, and I will have my thoughts on that soon. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account, and check out the Facebook page so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Nobody?” What did you think about it? Or, what is an item that means very little to other people, but you would freak out if you discovered it was lost? For me, it would have to be a particular external hard drive. Data is very important to me. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

News of the World (2020): The Beauty of the Hanks News Media

“News of the World” is directed by Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy, United 93), bases itself upon the 2016 Paulette Jiles western novel of the same name, and stars Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Toy Story) alongside Helena Zengel (Dark Blue Girl, System Crasher). This film is about a widowed Civil War veteran who goes around the world reading the news from various papers to those willing to listen for ten cents. In this film, he ventures with a young girl taken by the Kiowa people in an attempt to bring her to a place she can call home.

“News of the World” was one of the movies I was genuinely looking forward to over the Christmas season. Usually, when there is a movie that comes out near the end of the second half of the year that stars Tom Hanks, that’s usually a good sign. Last year we had “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” which frankly did not deliver the goods I was anticipating, but there is no denying that Hanks was perfect casting as Fred Rogers. One film that I sometimes forget about, “Saving Mr. Banks,” which came out towards the end of 2013, features Hanks as a charismatic Walt Disney. Plus, Hanks is just a likable dude. People often claim him to be the nicest guy in Hollywood, and I often get that vibe just by looking at him. He kind of sounds like a fun dude to take on a cross-country road trip. Speaking of trips, “News of the World” centers around two characters who take a trip through the old west to find a home for a young girl, and I must say that the main duo makes for a delightful and charming heart of the story.

Speaking of delightful and charming, those are two words I can use to describe “News of the World.” I do not watch many westerns, but this film, despite taking place in the old west, did not always feel like a western. Yes, it has many of the staples between an excessive amount of horses and carriages, accents, tons of men with crazy amounts of hair, but it also sort of speaks to our world today. It speaks to the climate of our media and how people flock to what they “want” to hear as opposed to what they need to hear, and maybe how the things our media spit out can influence how people think, what people say. That is only a small portion of the film, but I sort of like how the film handled this subject matter because it speaks to our time. Maybe where you live and the people around you can also play a part in that. I live in the Boston area, and we have two big papers. The Boston Globe and Boston Herald, and while both are highly recognized, it is sometimes declared that each paper seems to cater to alternate demographics. If you read The Boston Globe, chances are you are reading something from a liberal mindset. If you read Boston Herald, you may be reading something from a conservative mindset. This subject matter makes for one of the more compelling moments of the movie. It does not handle it in complete relation to the example I just mentioned, but it did remind me of that.

In some of my recent posts, I have been talking about the Oscars and awards season, partially because we are approaching that time, and some of the recent films like “Promising Young Woman” and “Soul” may have a shot at making some rounds as we get closer to some big ceremonies. “News of the World” is another one of those films, and part of that is due to Tom Hanks as Captain Kidd. I’ve already mentioned he’s good in the movie, but I should point out that he should be a fairly presentable talking point when the Oscars come around. Not only does Tom Hanks look the part, kind of like he did for Fred Rogers last year, but he encapsulates the main character beautifully. For me, my top 3 candidates for Best Actor this awards season are, in no particular order, Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Ben Affleck (The Way Back), and now, Tom Hanks (News of the World). I must also say, Hanks’s character in “News of the World” has a fascinating occupation. He goes around reading newspapers for an audience. Honestly, if I lived in the 19th century, that may be what I would do. Well, if I wasn’t writing for the papers myself. Either that or trying to invent videography if there were some way I could do that.

I must not forget, Hanks spends a great portion of the movie journeying with the young girl, played by Helena Zengel. Her name, or at least it’s the name that Captain Kidd calls her by, is Johanna. One thing I really like about their connection is that there is a language barrier between the two, but despite that, you could still get along, you can still have joyous times together, and as far as this story goes, it still feels like a universal story (and not just because Universal distributed this movie). One guy speaks English, the other person speaks Kiowan, but despite their differences, they can get along just fine. Then again, I am terrible at learning foreign languages, despite being good at doing a lot of other things and following several other subjects, so if I were in Captain Kidd’s shoes, who knows? Maybe I’d constantly throw a fit. Even so, “News of the World” presents a universal story, even though our two leads do not seem to have the ease of instantly understanding each other. One more thing to add, it is hard to tell where Zengel will end up in the long run, but I would watch her in a film again for sure, she did a great job here.

When it comes to my complaints for films, it usually involves pacing. I would not say that “News of the World” is an exception to this idea. Because in reality, the film is very well paced until the end. I say that because the heart of the story is between Hanks and Zengel, and once that concludes for the most part, the rest of the movie, while still slightly entertaining and compelling, not to mention slightly emotional, almost feels like borderline filler. Granted, if you know about the backstory of the main character, it truly is not. But that is almost what it feels like at times. At the same time however, one of the perks of “News of the World” is that in every other scene, there is a sense of conflict. There almost always feels like there is a sense of danger, and when a movie can do that, it makes it more watchable. This movie is kind of a slow burn, and as I have said prior on Scene Before, slow does not mean bad. Like a fast movie, slow only means bad if it feels like there’s no control. “News of the World” comes with a little more action than I thought there would be. I know this is technically a western, but it sort of surprised me that we would all of a sudden have this bloody intense shootout, it was really fun to watch and made for one of the more suspenseful and fun parts of the movie.

I went to see “News of the World” with a couple family members, and one in particular seemed a tad skeptical about the film, mainly because it is not their type of movie. They are not usually into period pieces. They walked out of the movie somewhat delighted. They would not consider the film an all time favorite, but they also were not against the film either. Maybe “News of the World” has the potential to reach a wide audience in the future. Sure, many theaters are closed right now, but this film will be heading to VOD soon, so for those who do not have a theater open in their area, this film may come on their radar rather quickly. Although if you do live near a theater, I’d recommend checking it out. Paul Greengrass directed this film, and he does so with what I imagine was a smile. It looks stunning and the cinematography from Dariusz Wolski is also a highlight that heightens Greengrass’s vision.

In the end, “News of the World” is a charmingly beautiful western. Tom Hanks excels as the film’s lead. Helena Zengel is solid in her role. I think the duo has great chemistry. If you take out the fact that this takes place in the old west, set it in modern times, it would still be a worthy allegory of how people view the media while also establishing two likable characters on a journey together. Granted, you’d probably have to change a lot, but this is a story from the 19th century that handles 21st century problems gorgeously. I’m going to give “News of the World” an 8/10.

“News of the World” is now playing in theaters across the United States wherever they are open. Due to a recent deal struck between AMC Theatres and Universal, the film will soon stream on video on demand. In several international territories, the film is now streaming on Netflix.

Thanks for reading this review! Guys, I am pleased to announce that it is officially 2021! Happy New Year! And oh, boooyyyyyyy do we need one. Is it just the passage of time? Technically, yes. But it is also, a new hope. And as for 2020, suck it! We don’t need you here anymore! But tomorrow and next day, we are acknowledging both the good and bad of the past year in my top 10 BEST movies of 2020 (dropping Jan 3) and my top 10 WORST movies of 2020 (dropping Jan 4). I am super excited to release these lists because yes, I enjoy doing them. For my best list, it is actually something positive about 2020, and with the worst list, I can burn this year to the ground where it belongs. In all seriousness, congrats to the filmmakers and studios who released a film this year. Your work has hopefully delighted, entertained, and amused audiences either in a theater, maybe on the subway, on a small screen on a plane, or at home. But most importantly, you provided an escape, which may be the most important thing about film right now. We all need a trip away from reality, and these films have helped me and many others take journeys to many magnificent places, real or fictional. I’m excited to reveal my top picks, they’ll be up next week, stay tuned! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account, check out the Facebook page, and stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “News of the World?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Tom Hanks film? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Emma (2020): Such News! This Movie’s Solid!

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“Emma” is directed by Autumn de Wilde and this is her feature-length debut. This film stars Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Thoroughbreds), Johnny Flynn (Song One, Beast), Josh O’Connor (The Crown, Florence Foster Jenkins), Callum Turner (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, The Only Living Boy in New York), Mia Goth (Nymphomaniac, High Life), Miranda Hart (Spy, Miranda), and Bill Nighy (Norm of the North, Underworld). This film is based on a Jane Austen novel of the same name and follows its titular character as a selfish woman living in 1800s England. Throughout said time, she is revealed to be meddling in the love lives of the people she happens to know.

When I created Scene Before, my original intention for the blog was to give my honest thoughts on various matters. And to be completely truthful, this movie is not my cup of tea. In fact, the main reason why I went to see it is because there was a free screening at a local indie theater where Anya Taylor-Joy and director Autumn de Wilde happened to be appearing. I figured it would make for a fun night out. But when it comes to original material this movie is based on, I was never previously invested. In fact, I have a feeling this is going to piss off some bibliophiles reading this, Jane Austen wrote the book that I had the most miserable experience reading in high school, specifically “Pride and Prejudice.” I never found it that interesting, entertaining, or compelling. It was the complete opposite of a page-turner, but I was forced to read it, so I had no choice but move along. When it comes to “Emma,” I have never picked the book up. However, I was somewhat interested in this movie. In fact, if anything, this trailer right here PUMPED. ME. UP! Watch this trailer!

 

The music! The cuts! The fast-pace of it all! Whoever edited this deserves some toilet paper and hand sanitizer to get through this dire time!

However, that’s just a trailer. How was the movie itself? Pretty decent, actually. While “Emma” is undoubtedly nowhere near my cup of tea as far as stories go, I found myself chuckling, smiling, and overall having a fun time watching this movie. And a lot of it may have to do with the attention to detail of everything in it. The production design could eventually go down as some of my favorite of the year. The colors are vibrant and match the charm of this movie’s specific time frame. The performances, across the board, are well executed. The ensemble of “Emma” is well put-together. If this were a silent film, I don’t think I’d be able to remove my eyes away from the screen just from how hypnotizing everything feels. It’s easy to tell that Autumn de Wilde brought her vision to life, or depending on who you ask, Jane Austen’s vision to life. In fact, before she took on “Emma” she dived deep into photography, which may partially signify how a lot of the movie’s individual frames feel like a painting or something you’d find hanging in an art gallery. The cinematography in the film at various points is extremely pretty. I am not lying. As for costume design, that is another highlight. Granted, when it comes to movies that take place in a period or setting like this, it is not that surprising that costume design is a key factor into what could make the movie at least partially work.

This is not the first “Emma” adaptation brought to the screen, but given how I have not seen the other adaptations of this kind, I don’t really have much to compare it to. But I feel that if I were to read the original novel of “Emma,” I would at least be somewhat satisfied by the writing style of this adaptation, given how it is true to the period, and the vibe of the film has a rather witty feel to it. Jane Austen is an author who seems to bring an individual feel to her stories, and that seems to be translated well here. Granted, when I read “Pride and Prejudice,” the writing style made it one of the most infuriating experiences of my time on this planet. But a movie like this, brings life to said writing style and evokes a sense of imagination.

Fun fact about the Emma character, when she was being portrayed by Anya Taylor-Joy, the actress thought she kind of came off as an unlikable being. Granted, that is kind of the point. And knowing what the movie is about and what it exactly contains, I can understand why. But at the same time, Emma is a character who I consider to admirable despite how selfish or manipulative she happens to be. Part of it may go towards the way the movie presents her and how I cannot imagine anyone else in Emma’s shoes except Anya Taylor-Joy. The casting for Emma herself was very well done given how there happens to be some sort of individualistic flair attached to said character.

As for problems, while this film is well-paced, it still has one or two moments where it is kind of a drag compared to others. Regarding the movie itself, it is somewhat forgettable. I may be cheating with this given how I am reviewing this almost a full month after seeing it in the theater, but this is a story that I do not think I’ll want to tune into again while it is still fresh in my memory. Granted, Comcast-owned studios, including Focus Features, the distributor of “Emma,” just so happen to be putting their movies that were supposed to be in theaters onto VOD, so I could watch it again at home if I really wanted to, but “Emma” is not a movie that I felt an instant connection to. I just thought to myself, “Eh, that was a fun couple of hours.” Maybe the novel is better. Because, you know, apparently every book is SUPPOSED to be better than the movie. The “Emma” movie is witty, charming, and marvelous to gaze upon, but it’s missing something. It has the vision, it has the individualistic style, but it doesn’t have the oomph factor I want in movies nowadays.

In the end, I found myself rather satisfied with “Emma.” I don’t think this satisfaction will ever encourage me to read the book, but at the same time, the experience I had while watching the movie in a pretty full theater could have been a contributing factor to making it feel somewhat communal. By the way, remember when we went to movie theaters? It was a long time ago! “Emma” is not my cup of tea, and I think this review kind of shows it. However, I will not deny that I indeed had a good time. I’m going to give “Emma” a 7/10.

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let you all know that my next review is going to be for Pixar’s new movie “Onward.” By the way, if you want to watch the movie before I review it, it is coming to digital tonight due to all the theaters shutting down. So if you want to rent it and read my review if you want to see where we stand in terms of our thoughts on the film, feel free to chill out on your couch, go to a preferred digital service whether it be Prime Video, Fandango Now, Google Play, or Vudu, and you’ll have access for the movie, that way you can watch it and determine your thoughts on it before reading my review. That is unless I somehow list my thoughts for “Onward” before the movie drops everywhere, but we shall see. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can tuned for more great content! Also, since you clearly have all the time in the world, be sure to check out the Scene Before Facebook page to get the latest updates of the goings on for the Movie Reviewing Moron. Hey, that rhymes! I want to know, did you see “Emma?” What did you think about it? Or, did you see any of the other adaptations of “Emma?” What are your thoughts on those? Did you read the book? Give me your thoughts on that! Leave your thoughts and opinions down below, and stay safe everyone! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Dolittle (2020): Why, Downey? Why?

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“Dolittle” is directed by Stephen Gaghan (Gold, Syriana) and stars Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man, Chaplin), Antonio Banderas (Interview with the Vampire, Shrek 2), Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon, Masters of Sex), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks, Late Night), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody, Night at the Museum), John Cena (Trainwreck, Playing with Fire), Kumail Nanjiani (Men in Black: International, Silicon Valley), Octavia Spencer (Gifted, Hidden Figures), Tom Holland (Spies in Disguise, Captain America: Civil War), Craig Robinson (Last Comic Standing, Knocked Up), Ralph Fiennes (The LEGO Batman Movie, Skyfall), Selena Gomez (Monte Carlo, Wizards of Waverly Place), and Marion Cotillard (Allied, Inception).

This film is the latest reboot to the “Doctor Dolittle” intellectual property. This time around, Robert Downey Jr. plays the man who can talk to animals and it follows him in a story where a Queen is dying and the only way to save her is to go on a journey to find a healing tree. On said journey, he is joined by his fellow animal friends and a new human apprentice (Harry Collett).

I have no memory of watching any previous material from the “Doctor Dolittle” franchise from beginning to end, so this was sort of my introduction to this world on film. Granted, I knew about about the character, I knew the whole thing about how the character can talk to animals and said animals do not spend too little time making a presence for themselves. I had the basics down, but for this movie, I was getting a new experience, one I never really had before.

But just because my experience was new, does not mean it was enjoyable. If “Cats” made me never want to ever interact with a feline ever again, then “Dolittle” has officially destroyed any chance I previously had of wanting to so much as think about any animal in existence. Thankfully, unlike “Cats,” which I praised for the CGI *at times*, the effects in “Dolittle” are a lot less unsettling, and a bit more satisfying to look at. But if Robert Downey Jr. is going to continue doing films like this after throwing in the towel with the MCU, movie audiences everywhere are in for a world of pain.

Granted, I will say, one of the interesting things about this film is that Robert Downey Jr.’s wife, Susan Downey, is a producer on the film. Plus, the two have kids, and it was just revealed on a clip of “Today” that this was the first premiere that they were taken to. After all, unlike most of the movies that Downey Jr. has done recently, which have been PG-13, “Dolittle” is PG. If “Dolittle” was a chance for two related people to work together, it may sound sweet, but quality should ALWAYS come first. This is why I get worried whenever Melissa McCarthy and her husband, Ben Falcone, are doing a project together, because statistically speaking, they are not usually that well-received. Granted, maybe I am getting a little bit more apprehensive than I really should because the Downey team are also working on a film together to be directed by Richard Linklater, who also directed “Boyhood,” which even though I have not seen the film itself, I know enough about it to realize how innovative and groundbreaking of a film it really is.

As for Robert Downey Jr.’s performance, I could tell that maybe there was some effort put into it, but holy mackerel, that accent sounds like crap! It almost sounds as if Downey was doing a really bad impression of Bilbo Baggins from “The Hobbit!” It’s overemphasizing in how bold it is supposed to come off and unfortunately, it makes me think Robert Downey Jr. at one point must have gotten acting lessons from a ship-sailing pirate.

Speaking of Robert Downey Jr., there is a point in this movie where he says a line where he basically invaded my mind and snatched an idea out of it. Now I know this is a kids movie, I know it is a family movie, some people will tend to say that these types of movies can get away with a few things here and there, cause ya know, kids just want to be entertained. I think that is a cop out of an excuse for a least a good portion of how many times such a thought is uttered. But what I find hilarious about this movie’s script is that there is a point where a bunch of characters are in a room together and Dolittle is basically providing a blueprint of his plan to save the Queen, and there is a point where he has to point out how preposterous his plan sounds.

Shut up, movie. Shut up.

The CGI in this film is not half bad, but that’s something I’d come to expect at this point, I’m willing to bet that maybe if this came out in the past decade or maybe sometime prior to say 2016’s “The Jungle Book,” this could be like another “Avatar.” Granted, if it came out in 2009, which is when “Avatar” came out, it probably would be just another movie, but this feels like a movie that would have probably worked as an experiential technological achievement from the 2000s, but since it came out in 2020, it needed something more.

I do not want to provide too many spoilers for this film, for one thing it just came out, and I imagine there are some people, not everybody, but some, who may have sort of a nostalgic attachment to the “Doctor Dolittle” IP. Out of respect for those people, this review is as spoiler-free as I could possibly make it. With that being said, the climax of this movie delivers one of the most infuriatingly off-putting gags ever put in a kids movie. There is a scene that I imagine young kids will probably get a kick out of, but I thought was the dumbest thing on the face of the earth. It involves farting. That is all I will say. Oh, and speaking of which, the humor in this film is as stale as whatever the latest pop song that always plays radio happens to be! Not all the jokes stood out, but when a joke did, it made me hate my life and everything in it. I am a bit young to have kids, but if I ever did have kids, this movie would probably be banned from movie night. If a find a DVD copy of this thing in the house, chances are I’m going to throw it through the window and break the glass. Any movie that has a scene containing a barely understandable human being playing chess with a gorilla who shows his ass as a way of insulting his opponent is officially on my eradication list.

Ironically, there is a song at the end of the film by Sia. I do not have all that much to say about the song itself, but apparently, in this attempt to recreate “Doctor Dolittle,” the song that plays is called “Original.” This world is becoming increasingly dumber, and there needs to be a cure for this combined dumbassery.

In the end, “Dolittle” just… did little to leave me happy. Will kids like it? Probably if they’re under maybe 10 years old. But I don’t think that this will be a film that families will go to and endlessly remember and quote for the rest of their lives. If anything, this is going to be a film that kids will watch, enjoy, and either move onto the next thing or continue watching until they grow out of it. “Dolittle” as a whole is just boring, formulaic, and none of the iconic names in the cast can save this mess! Robert Downey Jr. in this movie may not be a people person, but now after coming out of “Dolittle,” I have reevaluate my respect for the art of film and ask myself whether or not I am a movie person at this point. I am going to give “Dolittle” a 2/10. Now while I don’t see Universal Pictures dying a horrible death these next few months or anything, this is not the best of times for them. They just did “Cats,” which was awful, and apparently this is one of their next big releases! As one who enjoys Universal’s movies, I wish them luck during this dire time.

Thanks for reading this review! I just want everyone to know that my next review is going to be for Guy Ritchie’s “The Gentlemen,” which I just saw at an advance screening aaaaaaannnnnd… There’s too much to talk about. I’ll save my thoughts for the review. That’s all I’ll say. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! If you want to leave a like or comment, make sure you have the proper account credentials, and speaking of liking, why not hop over to my Facebook page and give that a like too? I don’t see any reason not to! I want to know, did you see “Dolittle?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite “Doctor Dolittle” movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Last Christmas (2019): I Gave You My Wasted Time

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“Last Christmas” is directed by Paul Feig (Ghostbusters, Spy) and stars Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones, Solo: A Star Wars Story), Henry Golding (A Simple Favor, Crazy Rich Asians), Michelle Yeoh (Mechanic: Resurrection, Star Trek: Discovery), and Emma Thompson (Saviing Mr. Banks, Sense and Sensibility). This film is about a girl named Kate who is not the most responsible person alive. Despite that, we see her working at a Christmas store under a rather quirky boss. Meanwhile, she encounters a fella named Tom, who she gets to know throughout the movie. As Kate keeps running into Tom, they develop a close relationship that defines a majority of the film.

Just… Out of every movie… I saw this one. THIS IS THE CRAP I PUT WITH FOR YOU GUYS! I saw “Last Christmas” a week and a half before it came out. I would have put this review out earlier, but due to going on a brief getaway to Rhode Island Comic Con, a couple of other reviews being more important, life, and maybe a slight lack of motivation, I delayed this review until after the movie came out. Having said that, I can simply say that this is one of the most forgettable movies I have seen all year. And the little that I do remember, is honestly not favorable.

Let me just remind you all that this movie is directed by Paul Feig. I have not seen all of his work, but what I have seen (aside from “Freaks and Geeks”) is not that great. In fact, he directed the 2016 “Ghostbusters” reboot, which quite honestly destroyed my brain. The impact I have then faced from that movie is one that I will probably never want to achieve ever again. For the record, I don’t hate women, I just want good movies. And having said that, I would have rather seen these women under a completely different brand name. Originality would have probably helped these ladies just a little bit. Compared to most bad movies that I have seen, this is probably one I can think of where I felt at least slightly offended watching it.

With that in mind, “Last Christmas” is a slightly better movie. It’s not good, but for starters, I wasn’t offended. It was a tad more charming overall. But much like 2016’s “Ghostbusters,” “Last Christmas” just ain’t that funny. A lot of the attempts at humor just didn’t land. Granted, I still remember my theatrical experience from seeing “Ghostbusters” and slightly chuckling at ONE joke. Now for the good news and bad news regarding “Last Christmas.” The good news is, I laughed more during “Last Christmas” than I did during “Ghostbusters.” The bad news, in two parts, is that the humor was barely even in place, and I don’t quite remember what exactly was funny. In fact, remember how I said I wasn’t offended by “Last Christmas?” That is completely true. BUT, I was in fact, annoyed.

I saw this coming, as if the title of the film didn’t already give enough away. But the song “Last Christmas” plays in this movie. For those of you who know me in real life, I do celebrate Christmas. I think it is a fun time of the year, even if it is ultimately an excuse to shove materialism up our butts. But the one thing I am a total Scrooge about when it comes to Christmas, is the overplay of various songs that associate with the particular time of the year. I hear enough of the same regular crap on the radio everyday! The solution IS NOT to play Christmas crap instead! This may sound like nothing, but hearing “Last Christmas” play twice in a few minutes is just as annoying as it is to find out that your friend runs an annual awards ceremony dedicated to showcasing the best pieces of gum that are stuck on surfaces.

Anyways, let’s focus on the not at all offensive, but also unfunny characters. I will say that despite how this movie is ultimately rather unmemorable and completely lacking in a full sense of joy, I can say that Emilia Clarke managed to make the character of Kate rather charming. Clarke has a likable presence in this film. She takes a character that could have lacked dimension, someone who could have been the most lifeless individual in film history, and it makes her stand out. I guess it helps that Clarke kind of has that “cute as button” quality attached to her when it comes to appearance. For the little that I can pinpoint to and remember regarding this movie, I recall Clarke being all cutesy, which worked for the final product.

As for Clarke’s love interest, he’s kind of resemblant of someone who is dorky, but also rather charismatic in life. There was a point in the film where I was able to buy the chemistry between him and Clarke. At the same time though, the chemistry did not help the movie from being as sigh-worthy as it is. I think I just invented a new worthy term! Cringeworthy can suck it! Overall, their romance feels cliche, but it when it works, it stands out. Despite the little charm that exists when they are together on one occasion or two, it doesn’t entirely make for a masterpiece. Let’s put the characters in a box like this: If I met one of these two in real life, I wouldn’t instantly want to have lunch with them.

Speaking of less than pleasant characters, this movie also has an obnoxious boss. I have to go back and probably watch about thirty or so other movies this year to come up with a conclusion like this and confirm it, but I’ll say… The chemistry between actresses Clarke and Yeoh in this film is probably the least realistic chemistry I have witnessed all year! WHAT?! DID?! I?! WATCH?! When it comes to the scenes between the duo, I originally got a sense that while Clarke was kind of a slacker, I thought Yeoh was just being a bitch to her at times. As the movie goes on… I dunno, I feel as if these first moments between them never happened.

There’s also this subplot involving the boss that involves her and a separate love interest played by Peter Mygind. This has the potential to be funny and charming, but it really just feels like wasted time. And that’s what this movie is… Wasted time. If you are with friends and family this year during the holidays and if this movie’s still out in theaters, just go see “Star Wars.” Granted, that’s kind of irrelevant because I don’t even know how the new “Star Wars” is going to be, but still… just go see “Star Wars.” I command you! Either that, or go to Best Buy and purchase a copy of one of the “Star Wars” films, present it as a gift, and use that as an excuse to those around you to pop it in the DVD player.

In the end, as much as I would love to congratulate Paul Feig for directing a better comedy than “Ghostbusters,” it’s not enough for me. “Last Christmas” honestly feels like a film that could arguably go straight to Lifetime or Hallmark for the holiday season, but since it has a slightly higher production value and big names attached, it got a theatrical release. Emilia Clarke has some slight charm attached to her and there are a couple of chuckleworthy moments. But there’s nothing of real value that I feel I have received from this movie. “Last Christmas” is not something I’d watch when I’m home alone, and I would prefer that it dies hard. I’m going to give “Last Christmas” a 3/10. Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I’m going to have a couple more reviews for you all including my thoughts on “Jojo Rabbit!” I was very excited to check this out last weekend and I will have my review up by sometime next week! I also have passes for tonight to go to a screening of “Honey Boy” starring Shia Labeouf (Transformers, Fury). If I get around to seeing that, I’ll have my review up as soon as possible. If you want to see this, and other great content, follow Scene Before with email or WordPress account! If you want full access to comments and likes, I personally recommend using a WordPress account. And if you are on Facebook and need a movie reviewing moron in your life, check out my Facebook page for more moronic shenanigans! I want to know, did you see “Last Christmas?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite movie directed by Paul Feig? I gotta ask because I need a good one. I have “Spy” and “The Heat” on Blu-ray but I haven’t watched either of them yet. Asking for a friend, or even an enemy in this case! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!