Lightyear (2022): Star Wars Meets a Family Friendly Interstellar in This Beautifully Animated Pixar Spinoff

“Lightyear” is directed by Angus MacLane, a Pixar insider who has helmed multiple animated shorts and made his feature-length debut with 2016’s “Finding Dory.” That feature, by the way, is frankly better than its Nemo-centric predecessor. There is no changing my mind. “Lightyear” stars Chris Evans as the titular space ranger, providing for a fresh take on the iconic role once helmed by Tim Allen (Last Man Standing, Home Improvement). Joining Evans is a cast including Keke Palmer (Scream Queens, Hustlers), Peter Sohn (Ratatouille, Monsters University), James Brolin (Westworld, The Amityville Horror), Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, Jojo Rabbit), Dale Soules (Orange is the New Black, The Messenger), Mary McDonald-Lewis (G.I. Joe, Archer), Efren Ramirez (Crank, Napoleon Dynamite), and Isiah Whitlock Jr. (Your Honor, The Wire) in a spinoff to the “Toy Story” universe… Sort of.

“Lightyear” is a film that Andy, a character known in “Toy Story” lore, loved as a child. It was his favorite movie, and therefore, we find out the reason why he has a Buzz Lightyear toy is because of this movie. Andy’s favorite movie, which is what we, the audience, are treated to, is about a young Buzz Lightyear trying to find a way to get his crew home after being stranded on a planet for an extended period. Turns out time is not the only enemy in Buzz’s path as he must survive against an army of robots commanded by Zurg.

Pixar is the pinnacle of animation today. I genuinely look forward to just about everything they do, even though most of their marketing campaigns do not sit well with me. But in the end, it is about the movie. Similar to the cliché saying that it is not about the outside, but the inside, Pixar proves that it is not all about the trailers for their films, which usually are unmemorable or do not prompt enough reason for me to watch them, but instead the films that were previously advertised, which are sometimes masterpieces. “Inside Out” to this day is one of the few movies that made my eyes water. “The Incredibles” is an action-packed, thrilling adventure that is secretly the best on-screen adaptation of “Fantastic Four.” “Cars” is fun, colorful, exciting, and has a wonderful soundtrack. The Pixar library is one of the best in film history, animated or not. This is why I was worried, years ago, when I found out we would be getting a “Toy Story 4.”

Despite my apprehension, “Toy Story 4” turned out to be an entertaining, joyful movie that not only presents itself as a surprisingly welcome addition to the franchise, but shows that Pixar can present some of the most realistic-looking animation ever put to screen. There is a scene with a cat from “Toy Story 4” that I continue to ponder over to this day…

Now we have “Lightyear,” which is not exactly a “Toy Story 5,” but a fictional universe within another fictional universe. I will admit, as desperate of an idea as it may sound, I like the concept. Because in our world, we have our beloved stories. In the science fiction genre, “Star Wars,” “Star Trek,” and “Back to the Future” are some of the first examples that come to mind. This movie begs the question, supposing that a movie such as “Star Wars” does not exist in the “Toy Story” universe, “What is Andy’s ‘Star Wars’?”

Like the opening text suggests, this is that movie.

But just because Andy likes this movie, does not mean I will. So, what did I think of “Lightyear?”

You know how I mentioned that Pixar often flubs its trailers or makes them less appealing than others? Here is a crazy coincidence, I thought the trailers for “Lightyear” are easily the best Pixar has ever done. I thought their goal with the movie was clear, the footage we got with SOX was charming, and the space scenes looked gritty and eye-popping. Unfortunately, for Pixar standards, this is towards the lower tier.

Now, this is not as bad as “Luca,” but I thought Pixar’s previous outing, “Turning Red,” was a bit better. I think part of it has to do with the unique, dynamic nature of the film that I have not seen in any other Pixar story before. “Lightyear” feels like it blends the vibes of “Wall-E” with “Star Wars” and “Interstellar.” Some of you reading this likely know who I am, and think I am going crazy. I adore “Wall-E,” I love “Star Wars,” and if I could legally marry a movie, “Interstellar” would probably be getting the ring.

I will say the same thing about “Lightyear” that I said in regard to “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” a movie that heavily relies on inserting crossovers and references to the Warner Bros. library. One difference between “A New Legacy” and “Lightyear” is that “Lightyear” is a completely watchable, entertaining film. Imagine that! But one thing I will note about “Lightyear,” even though it is nowhere near as obvious, is that it seemingly pays tribute to other stories, most notably “Star Wars.” The relationship between Buzz Lightyear and Zurg in this film is almost reminiscent of Luke and Vader in “Star Wars” at times. Although that does make sense because if you watch “Toy Story 2,” there is a scene in that film with the toy versions of the characters that is almost done in the same style as a key scene from “The Empire Strikes Back.” With that in mind, I would rather watch Luke and Vader duke it out in “Empire” than watch any of the scenes between Buzz and Zurg in “Lightyear.”

Let’s talk about Chris Evans as Buzz Lightyear. I have mad respect for Evans as an actor, because in one moment he can carry a blockbuster in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and in the other, he can come off as the most delightfully charming of morons in “Knives Out.” Evans has unbelievable range as an actor, so I was excited to see what he could do as the Buzz Lightyear character. Yes, I know that this technically means that Tim Allen is not voicing Buzz Lightyear, but let me remind you that this is not the Buzz Lightyear toy and instead, a man that inspired the toy. Evans’s raspy voice fits the character and is proper enough to make him come off as this universe’s Han Solo. Again, this is basically “Star Wars.” This movie pictures Buzz as a determined, manly, roguish individual who will not stop until he “finishes the mission.”

As suggested in the title, “Lightyear” is essentially a family friendlier take on Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar.” While not as complex, the science fiction angle tends to border between realistic and fantastical. It’s believable, but it also makes us wonder what undiscovered portions of our own universe could look like. Plus, the concept of “Interstellar” involves one man trying to find a new home for humanity. The reverse is happening in “Lightyear” where one man tries to get people back to where they personally call home. And much like “Interstellar,” this movie has a somewhat mixed cast of sidekicks, including robots.

Once we get into the meat of the film, we meet a set of sidekicks who may talk a good game but when it comes to action, that is lackluster in comparison. I like this concept, partially because it is relatable, but I also dislike it. I will start with the dislikes first, because they are not as in depth.

The sidekick characters of “Lightyear” are at times, some of the most annoying, disposable characters ever created in Pixar history. As much as I like Taika Waititi, the writing for his character of Mo Morrison (top left) ranges from stupid to cringeworthy. Sometimes both. I have nothing against Waititi himself, he took the words written on the page and portrayed them as accurately as he could, but his character was written in such a way that could have made him a lovable idiot, but given the context of certain things, I do not think “lovable” would be the right adjective to use here. The movie “Lightyear” convinced Andy in the “Toy Story” universe to own a Buzz Lightyear toy. I can see why he probably begged his mom to buy a Buzz Lightyear toy instead of Mo Morrison or one of the other supporting characters. I have heard worse dialogue in my life, but here, it either feels cheap or annoying. Sometimes it works, but the times it did not work stuck out to me like a sore thumb.

With the negatives out of the way, I do want to talk about this idea that the movie goes for. “Lightyear” is a fun film, like many Pixar movies. But also like some Pixar movies, it could occasionally tug the heartstrings. There is a well-executed montage in this film that some would compare to the famous few minutes in “Up” where we witness the life of Carl and Ellie. It is some of the best editing I have seen all year. That is this film’s earliest example of showcasing the inevitability of failure. Many of us, including myself, have been through a portion of our lives where we question whether what we are doing is worth it. Whether we are good enough. Sometimes we do not have access to an opportunity, and in others, we do not even know where to start. I have taken one or two classes during my college years where these thoughts have come up.

Despite their slightly offish writing at times, I like the concept behind the characters of Izzy Hawthrone (bottom left), Mo Morrison, and Darby Steel (top right). They are flawed, but that is also what makes them work. Hawthorne spends much of the movie worrying about her legacy. How is she going to live up to her grandmother’s expectations? Mo Morrison never spills the beans on this, but he almost felt like this movie’s representation of the phrase “fake it until you make it.” You may not know something, you may not be good at something, but you might as well do that something until you know you can call yourself a master. Darby Steel’s main goal of the movie is to shave some time off of her sentence, and to do so, she needs to go on the mission with the rest of the crew. I like the idea of having these significantly unconfident, arguably incompetent, characters play major roles like the ones they do in the film. I just wish they were written or portrayed in a slightly less annoying manner. Although there was one recurring gag involving Mo Morrison with a pen that had its moments.

If I had to be honest, the best sidekick in the entire film is SOX (right), a robotic feline whose goal is to assist Lightyear with his various needs. This assertion should not come as much of a surprise. My favorite Pixar supporting character that comes to mind is also a common household pet, specifically Dug, the comic relief dog from “Up.” While SOX is no Dug, he does have his moments to shine in the spotlight. His writing feels logical for a typical robot character, but in robot speak, he somewhat reminded me of TARS from, again, “Interstellar.” While SOX in this case does not come with “humor settings,” he has some occasional lines that are not necessarily jokes that got a laugh out of me. It is nice when robots know what makes humans tick. He is wonderfully voiced by Peter Sohn, a talented voiceover artist who previously lent his utterances to Emile in “Ratatouille.”

This almost seems unfair, because “Lightyear” from start to finish, between the concept, execution, and everything in between, is practically a different movie than any of the “Toy Story” installments we have gotten. While “Lightyear” is by no means a bad film, it is no “Toy Story.” If I had to be real, I think even “Toy Story 4,” a film that like this one, I probably never asked for, is a better movie. I think the adventures of Buzz Lightyear, the toy, are more entertaining and joy-filled than “Lightyear.” It pains me to say that because this film reminded me of a couple great science fiction stories here and there, it had a couple halfway decent characters, the animation is some of the most stunning I have EVER seen. I think the best thing about this movie is that if you have young children and you want to give them a proper gateway into science fiction, “Lightyear” is a solid option before showing them movies like “Interstellar” or “Gravity.” But much like what I said with “The Empire Strikes Back,” I think I would rather watch the “Toy Story” films again on a Friday night before “Lightyear.”

I did see the film twice in the theater, but it was partially because I wanted to see how they handled the supersized 1.43:1 IMAX aspect ratio, which I can confirm made the film pop like few others. I liked the film enough to see it a second time for that, but maybe not a third time.

In the end, “Lightyear” is a decent science fiction movie, but for the standards of Pixar, I would put this with “Onward,” which is not a bad film. But for the standards of a studio as incredible as Pixar, that is not the best comparison to make. To shoot for “Onward” is not enough for them. Pixar genuinely makes some of the best animated movies, but this is not enough to join the greats. Although I will remind you, there are many studios out there, many filmmakers out there, that would kill to make a movie as good as a lower tier Pixar film. I still have yet to see a flat out awful movie from the studio. Hopefully that day never comes. I have faith. “Lightyear” is definitely worth seeing in the theater, especially in IMAX. The spectacle is insane. There are some truly colorful, vivid, detailed scenes that will definitely drop jaws. Although I left the film thinking to myself that I should probably rewatch a couple other films instead of this one. I am going to give “Lightyear” a 7/10.

“Lightyear” is now playing in theatres everywhere, and do yourself a favor, if there is a true IMAX theater near you, buy a ticket for “Lightyear” and go watch it in that theater. Major shoutout to the Jordan’s Furniture in Reading, Massachusetts and their amazing laser projection system for providing me with an epic movie experience. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed this review, check out some of my other ones! This month I did reviews for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” and “Hustle.” If you want to stick with the “Lightyear” theme, check out my thoughts for “Toy Story 4.” My thoughts have admittedly changed on the film a little since my review, but if you want to check out my first impression, here you go! If you are interested in long-form content, check out a recent five-thousand word post I did on why I cannot stop watching “Belle,” the new anime directed by Mamoru Hosoda. 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 “Lightyear?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite science fiction movie of all time? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Why I Cannot Stop Watching BELLE (2021): An Article by an Anime-Know-It-Nothing

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Throughout my time writing for Scene Before, I have done several reviews that I feel proud of. This even includes earlier years when I continued to develop a writing style and focused maybe more than I should have on immersing the viewer into the review like I am on a camera. Although there are certain movies that I watched for Scene Before, looking back, where I probably should have reconsidered at least a portion of my opinion after writing over a thousand words about them. Some of these include “Suicide Squad,” “Blade Runner 2049,” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” If I were to rewrite my reviews for all of these films, I would add in certain points, redo points that I feel have changed, and perhaps alter the final score. But I am not going to talk about any of these films today. Instead, I am going to be reflecting on a movie I reviewed over the winter that has sort of met the same fate. While my opinions for “Blade Runner 2049” have only changed slightly, this post is about a movie I would claim has gone through a seismic shift kind of like “Suicide Squad.”

That movie by the way, is “Belle” directed by Mamoru Hosoda.

To sum up what has been going on in my life recently, this movie has taken up over ten hours of my screen time alone. Why? Because since its official Blu-ray release, I watched it for five nights in a row. I did watch other movies in addition to this one during the week, specifically “The Graduate,” which was utterly fantastic. Highly recommended. “Rampage,” which is… Well, it is what it is. And I also watched “Friends with Benefits” for the first time, which I thought was humorous and delightful. I watched “Belle” every night for five nights since I bought it on Blu-ray on Tuesday, May 17th. Why did I not watch it for six nights in a row? Because I was going on a short getaway on what could have been the sixth night, and I did not pack the movie to watch in my hotel room. I was more focused on possibly giving my money to Connecticut casinos more than anything else. Since getting back, I watched it two more nights in a row. That said, I cannot recall the last time I have bought a film on Blu-ray and watched it at this constant of a level. Naturally, I have no choice but to talk about it.

I want to make something clear, to say I have a working knowledge of Japanese anime would be like saying that since I am from Boston, I therefore consider the New York Yankees to be my favorite baseball team. “Belle” is one of the couple movies within the Japanese anime medium that I have fully watched. The other one that comes to mind is “Ghost in the Shell.” I believe I also remember seeing “Howl’s Moving Castle” somewhere around a decade ago. That was before I knew what anime happened to be by definition. And I will be real with you, even though I did not mind “Ghost in the Shell,” which I first watched at the age of 17, it did not emit a spark inside me to explore more of what anime has to offer. “Belle” on the other hand, did so dramatically. Although after I watched “Belle” for the first time, I did start watching Adult Swim’s “Blade Runner: Black Lotus,” which technically is an anime series. So since I watched “Belle,” I have gone a tad deeper into the genre, but after many countless revisits to the film “Belle,” I want more anime in my life. With that said, I want to talk about why “Belle” means so much to me as someone who has spent over half of their life on the Internet, including a portion where social media has practically taken over my life in more ways than one. I will let you know, while this is not a full spoiler discussion, I am going to do my best to not ruin the whole the movie, there will be points where I do dive deep into key characters or plot points. So if that is a problem, leave this post now, go watch “Belle,” and come back when you are done. I will be waiting. That said, let’s dive into the many reasons why I cannot stop watching “Belle.”

A MATURE REINVENTION

When I originally reviewed “Belle” for this blog, I compared it to “Beauty and the Beast” because first off, the title character is literally named Belle, well, kind of. Also, much of the movie revolves around her connection to someone who is literally referred to as a Beast. If that is not enough, there is a scene in the film that is not a complete ripoff, but heavily pays homage to Disney’s 1991 “Beauty and the Beast,” which Hosoda himself claims to adore, as the two recently mentioned characters come together in a scene where they slow dance and embrace each other in a large castle. My other claim I made during my review is that this film could potentially become less of a timeless piece than others because of how reminiscent it is of the “Beauty and the Beast” tale. Knowing what I know about “Belle,” the story threads are not quite one in the same. There are some similarities, especially in the one scene where Belle and the Beast dance together, but “Belle” is its own thing. “Beauty and the Beast,” at its core, is more of a love tale than anything else. “Belle” is a mix of cyberpunk, drama, and adventure.

I often talk about the animation genre and how much I appreciate when it understands what I consider to be the assignment. Because a lot of animations are made for kids, and obviously there is content out there that you can tell is specifically made for children, not for adults at all. There is content that is obviously made with the intention of educating kids. This has been revealed with television content like “Dora the Explorer.” But at the same time, there have been multiple instances where we get movies that are meant to give families an excuse to entertain their kids, but not the adults bringing the kids. This is what Pixar has evidently understood with every one of their movies. They do not treat them as children’s fare. There’s a difference between a film that kids can enjoy, and a film that families can enjoy. Even with a more ridiculous script like “Cars 2” or an occasional fart joke from movies like “Incredibles 2,” those movies are ones I continue to watch as an adult because it understands that if the movie is purely made to entertain kids, then it does not have staying power. “Inside Out” is a movie that I think could entertain children if you sat them in front of the television, but as an adult, I am watching the movie and feeling an appreciation for how it handles emotions and growth during adolescence. These are themes and ideas that can connect to anyone from a variety of backgrounds, ages, and life stories.

“Belle,” much like the many Pixar movies I have watched over the years, refuses to treat its audience like they are idiots. In fact, I think in some cases, it tries even harder to avoid doing so. There’s no corny humor, you have incredibly humanized and relatable storylines, and there are also scenes that feel more like they are out of a live-action script than an animated script. There is one moment in a train station where a few characters meet and there are these long pauses between lines that give the audience a moment to breathe, while also letting the characters think for themselves. I occasionally watch Animation Domination cartoons like “Bob’s Burgers” and “Family Guy” and often notice that in their scripts, everything is mile a minute, which can work by keeping the audience on their toes, but it also destroys hints of realism. Granted, it is an animation, which by definition, should be less realistic than live-action, but I also think that sometimes even in animations, you should have some degree of verisimilitude to remind your audience that your world has rules. Not everything has to be within the confines of Murphy’s Law.

A HILARLIOUSLY ACCURATE LOOK AT THE INTERNET, CELEBRITY INFLUENCERS, AND FAN CULTURE

I honestly think “Belle” could not have come out at a better time when it did. The Internet and social media are still young, so who knows how things will turn out in a hundred years, but “Belle” seems to paint an attractive picture of what those two things could look like, while also inserting satire on our modern Internet behavior. Granted, this movie is on the family friendly side, therefore it never dives into concepts like pornography or the darker sides of dating sites like Tinder, although romance is prominent in the film, coincidentally. But I found much of “Belle’s” script unapologetically reflective of how the Internet tends to work. If anything, it is a bang on the money encapsulation of what could equate to cancel culture. Case and point, Peggie Sue.

The role Peggie Sue plays in “Belle” is minimal, but effective and important in every single way. We get our first glimpse of her when the main protagonist, Suzu, has a hesitancy to sing at a party, despite being pressured by her peers. The party space is accompanied with a flat screen television complete with Peggie Sue singing a pop song, perhaps in the form of an expensive music video or a concert. This happens before Suzu enters U and to her surprise, belts out a song with fluency and power. When Suzu, or in this case, her avatar, becomes increasingly noticed by U’s userbase, Peggie Sue herself acknowledges this and does not see anything special in the rising star. At one point, she lashes out against Belle’s popularity on a giant screen, which instantly receives tons of backlash and practically gets her cancelled. There are definitely more dangerous things she could have said. She could have mocked a disability. She could have announced she was giving money to a hate group. She could have said the n-word. But even so, this movie presents an example of the classic “think before you post” scenario, which I think many users, including myself, have probably run into at one point or another through our times on the Internet. Whether we did it ourselves, we observed such an action through someone we know, or some celebrity. But at the same time, this movie tells its audience that even if you say stupid things, it does not mean you cannot be redeemed. You can still be a decent person. There is a scene at the end of the film involving said character where we reveal more about her that brings her down to Earth where such a thing comes into play. It reminds us that we are human and we can take our mistakes and turn them around, learn from them essentially. And if you learn more about someone, sometimes it will get you to understand them, possibly admire them.

Peggie Sue is not the only prominent voice speaking out against Suzu as she rises, because when she starts singing and getting all these followers, we see that she makes a splash. It looks like Suzu, or her avatar, Bell, which is what Suzu means in English, has all the support and fans she could want. But as soon as we are done hearing all the positive feedback, Sue lets her negative thoughts out to the world, therefore spawning even more negative thoughts from ordinary people. They either do not like her voice, they think the songs are lackluster, or she is simply performing for the likes. In a case like this, it takes one higher power to build a following.

FORESEEABLE LOOK AT THE FUTURE, WHILE ALSO FOCUSING ON THE PRESENT

Speaking of Suzu, the main journey of “Belle” is Suzu’s dive into U, which I claim is a sexier version of what Meta is trying to achieve. If anything, it’s like the OASIS from “Ready Player One,” but without extreme emphasis on currency and less reliance on preexisting properties from “Batman” to “Halo.” The world of U is much different from our reality given how it is more colorful, physics are almost ignored altogether, and as the movie reveals, the platform’s trademark is that it reveals a hidden strength of each user. In the beginning of the film, we see that despite Suzu having a history with music, she sometimes struggles when it comes to singing. So of course, when we see Belle enter U, the first thing she does is, to her shock, utter the lyrics of “Gales of Song,” one of the film’s few enchanting originals. We will dive more into those in a second. Suzu’s U debut, as previously mentioned, is met with mixed reception upon first glance, half of the people passing by like her. Half do not. But this is also reflective of several music artists of today where their haters are just as prominent as their fans. You may notice this with artists like Justin Bieber or Kanye West. This also brings up a positive message when Suzu notices she has an influx of followers. When Suzu’s friend, Hiroka Betsuyaku, or Hiro for short, the one who suggested that she should join U in the first place, reminds Suzu that a good portion of the millions of people who have seen her through the platform admire her, she should not forget that. She should not let the hate, trolling, and doubt get to her.

What I love about this movie so much is that in today’s mixed Internet culture, “Belle” is a movie that reminds its audience that the Internet, despite its occasional thorns, can also be a rose of positivity. The Internet has helped me in various ways by letting me discover that I am not alone with some of my weird hobbies like riding elevators. Social media has spawned some of my best companionships. I even met a couple of friends I made on social media in real life, either through chance or by arrangement. I have gained valuable friendships through my time in high school, but I feel like my friendships through social media have helped me define who I am today more than almost any other friendship I have experienced.

Despite taking place in what I would assume happens to be present day, “Belle” also spawns a ton of questions about social media’s future, because it is revealed that in the world of U, you cannot have more than one avatar. You can alter your avatar as we notice Belle wears different outfits at various points of the story, but that avatar is the only one you have. I have gone on YouTube and noticed some people have more than one account, or sometimes on sites like Twitter, people will create different accounts for different aspects of their personality. Will we be seeing less of that if we get closer to U being a reality? That is a thought provoking question if you ask me. This film also reveals that there is still a culture of trolling on the Internet, with the Dragon and Peggie Sue being a couple of the film’s examples if you will. But one thing the film never dives into all that much is bots. The closest thing I can note that U has to bots is the Dragon’s AIs, but that’s about it. My question is, how “bot-proof” is U? Even when there are trolls in U, there is often a soul behind the one doing the trolling. Although there is probably a good reason why bots never appear in U, because the idea of U involves the user immersing themselves by activating a specific device that is meant to project themselves into U, and I am not just talking about their phone. Every U user attaches buds to their ears, bringing them into the digital landscape as their respective avatar. This is done through body-sharing technology, where the user’s biometric information is interlinked with their avatar. And while there are reflective physical traits that are represented in Suzu’s avatar, most specifically freckles, the U platform tends to provide an enhancement, a level up if you will, of one’s mentality, outlook, or experiences. In Suzu’s case, she lost her mom at a young age, which is a fraction of why she is a shadow amongst her peers. In addition, her singing skills are not up to the par she would prefer. This is why she has increased confidence and singing abilities upon entering U.

COMPELLING, POWERFUL ORIGINAL SONGS

And when you have a film like this that heavily revolves around music, chances are that the songs have to be good, otherwise the film would not be as convincing or effective. “Belle” has a few originals, all of which have their own style. The film’s main theme, U, has an incredibly poppy, upbeat, and sexy feel to it to the point where it belongs on a top 40 playlist, but feels different enough that it is not annoying. It is the kind of song you would want to hear when walking into a large nightclub. It is a perfect main theme for the film because it basically just says, “Come join U! We’re all happy here and everyone is having a good time!” It also shows how one platform can change your life in an instant. Much like how Suzu has gone from a nobody to a U diva, we have seen tons of unexpected personalities on platforms like YouTube or TikTok over the years.

“So, linе up, the party’s over here
Come one, come all, jump into the fire
Step up, we are whatever we wanna be
We are free, that’s all we desire
When you pass through the veil of fantasy
There’s a world with a rhythm for you and me.”

At the same time though, it is a perfect metaphor for the Internet itself. There is a lyric in the song, specifically “I wanna know who you are, I wanna know it all,” which is not only reflective of the developed mystery behind Belle’s identity, but it reminds me of many of my relationships on the Internet. I feel like through the Internet I get to know a certain version of a person, but I would secretly love to meet them in real life to get to know the real them.

When Suzu enters U, she first sings a piece titled Gales of Song, which compared to the film’s previously mentioned main theme, perhaps relies significantly less on lyrics. Gales of Song is perfectly executed when first introduced because it is simple enough, and has enough pauses to allow Suzu to adapt to her avatar. It is like when you get inside a car for the first time and you are learning how to drive. It takes Suzu a second to understand all the mechanics, but when she starts getting the hang of things, that is when she gets increased attention from U’s userbase, both positive and negative. Lend Me Your Voice is a song that could have gone wrong because of how the scene it links to sort of pays homage to Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” but the orchestral power of the song hits hard, and the lyrics are occasionally on the verge of heart-wrenching. And speaking of heart-wrenching, don’t even get me started on the film’s longest and perhaps most important song, A Million Miles Away, which I previously awarded the Jackoff for Best Original Song during this year’s ceremony. To this day, it is one of the only songs I have heard to make me wipe tears from my face because when you watch the movie, it is THAT powerful.

That last song goes to show this film’s power of silence, because some of its best moments are simply when there is little to no dialogue, we are just watching people doing things. When we first see Suzu and her mother early on in the film, there is this wonderfully edited montage of the two doing things together, which shows Suzu developing a knack for music. There is no spoken dialogue, just a soft variant of A Million Miles Away. I even go back to the moments where characters have specific pauses while talking, allowing for some genuine lifelike reactions. The scene in the train station with a few core characters, Suzu included, comes to mind. But even within these lifelike reactions, we see some heightened emotions or cues that allow animation to shine. I will not go into much detail, but this movie is not short on blushed cheeks or visible tears.

And I am constantly talking about the film’s lyrical songs for good reason, but I should also note that the official score for “Belle” contains one of the best utilizations of stringed instruments I have EVER heard.

STUNNING CINEMATOGRAPHY, ANIMATION

Technically speaking, “Belle” is literally what the name means, beautiful. Many of the film’s wides are ingrained in my memory. The world of U is a place I could imagine myself diving into in the future. Belle’s outfits in U are astoundingly eye-popping. As depressing as the real world may be in comparison, this film has some gorgeously drawn locations. It kind of makes me want to travel to rural Japan to see what it is actually like. My favorite shot in the film however, if not one of my favorite shots, is probably set in U, when we see a closeup of Suzu singing A Million Miles Away, staring into the distance when her surroundings turn dark. It is the simplest shot of all time, but for some reason, Suzu’s concentration on what lies ahead is evident. My reason for liking this shot is potentially because of a certain context, but as much as I may be revealing about this film, there are some things I would rather keep hidden, such as moments of the scene where said shot takes place.

RELATABLE PROTAGONIST

To me, one of the most visible reasons why I adore “Belle” so much is the same basis behind why I loved another recent film, “CODA,” from the moment I saw it. They are two completely different films by several means, and in various ways, their protagonists are significantly unalike. For example, Suzu doesn’t have any deaf family members or friends, as far as we know. And “CODA’s” protagonist, Ruby Rossi, still communicates with her parents on a regular basis. Her mother is still alive, and even though the movie shows some occasional resistance between her parental relationships, Ruby has a steady connection with her father. “Belle” is a movie that allows its main hero to show off what makes them ordinary, and therefore have that mundaneness make them extraordinary. This is especially true in the climax of the film when Suzu sings A Million Miles Away. We learn more about what this song is, and that added dose made the scene go from great to… not to continue the overuse of this word, cinema. Simultaneously, Suzu has millions of followers on U, she barely talks to her dad anymore, and she spends several scenes with a talking dragon. There are some definite differences between the two protagonists, but at the end of the day, Suzu’s normality, what makes her human, what makes Suzu, quite literally Suzu, allows her to persevere later in the film’s runtime. This also highlights a notable trait about the Internet. And this trait is especially true when it comes to the Beast, as many characters have questions about his identity. That trait being how not everyone really knows who you are on the Internet. We constantly build these images of people and what we think they are like. Maybe they are incredibly wealthy. Maybe they are a predator. Maybe they are younger than they advertise themselves to be. We do not know everything about everyone. This is why sometimes I may do research on certain people before talking to them, or if there is a public figure on social media, I make an effort to ensure that they are verified.

Some of my favorite movies in recent years have been animated, because despite their otherworldly nature, they have an attractive down to earth element that sometimes is not as effective in live-action. If we are not talking about “Belle,” the most effective example that comes to mind is “Over the Moon,” which is currently on Netflix. The reason why I found that movie down to earth despite mostly taking place in space is because it is a movie I think my 13, 14, 15-year-old self would have needed to watch at those specific ages. Because I was going through a tough time where my parents were no longer in love, and there were specific story elements or beats that reminded me of that time and felt completely relatable. In the same way, maybe not as much, but nevertheless, I think “Belle” is a movie I would have shown to my 15, 16-year-old self, because I was new to social media at the time. I had an idea of how it worked, but I did not realize how addicted I may have been to it. Sure, there were many positives to it like meeting new people, finding new friends, joining a community. But I also did not realize how much I cared about followers. I cared more than I should have. I thought I was cool when in reality I may have just been desperate for attention. And I am not saying that it is a bad thing to have tons of followers, but I feel like this movie could have been a reminder to myself that maybe I should not have tried as hard to worry about getting followers. It’s like the famous quote in “Field of Dreams,” “If you build it, they will come.” In the same way, Suzu started out as a nobody, and one unexpected turn of events turned her into a somebody, even if that somebody was an alternate version of her.

I think “Belle” is a film that paints a picture of the Internet and shows its strengths. Because by the end of the film, it allows people to come together in a way that delivers a positive impact. It shows how the Internet can change people’s lives and make them better despite some occasional toxicity on a number of sides.

POSSIBLE IMPERFECTIONS WITHIN A FLAWED MASTERPIECE

I think if there are any flaws with “Belle,” it would be three things, but they do not affect my overall enjoyment of the film. There are such things as flawed masterpieces. “Risky Business” is one of my favorite films of all time, but I will tell you that the last scene feels incredibly out of place. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is one of my favorite science fiction films of the past decade, but even I will admit that the film owes its success to the original installment it tends to copy. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is one of the most beautifully violent, outrageously balls to the wall movies I have ever watched, but you could quite literally remove Margot Robbie’s character from the script and have little to no effect on the overall plot. That said, let’s dive into my few issues with “Belle,” if you want to call them that. Because in some cases, I also claim they do not bother me that much.

The first issue I have is specifically with the English dub. I do not speak Japanese, but it sounded fine on the Japanese version. When I watched this film at home a few times in English, there was one key line from Justin, or Justian if you watched the Japanese version, it sounded incredibly important, but much of what he said was muffled over all of the music. It was GREAT music, but nevertheless. Who directed this scene? Christopher Nolan?! For all I know, it could be my television, but the sound on it has been pretty good by itself over the years without any external speakers or sound bars, so who knows? The second flaw, and this is perhaps a more important issue that could also be seen as a strength, I think the relationship between Suzu and her father was kind of surface level. Not much was shown to reveal their distance. I think it almost makes me forget sometimes that they are drift apart, mainly because it is such a small part of this two hour movie. But at the same time, you could make an argument that such a thing was kind of the point. The movie wants you to realize that these two individuals barely talk to each other despite living together. And in a way, the movie successfully did that. So that is a tossup. The other, flaw, if you will, is not something that bothered me specifically, but I could see it bothering other people. Not that I have seen anyone bringing it up. There is a character in the film by the name of Shinobu, and despite his best intentions, there are a couple scenes where his connection to Suzu could come off as maybe closer than it should. From his eyes, he kind of sees himself as someone who tries to protect Suzu. This is something he has done for her since her mom died. It’s a friendly gesture, but it could also be overprotective. In a way, since Suzu’s mom died, Shinobu filled said mother’s shoes from time to time. The movie does address this though, and it shows that Suzu realizes this and at one point refuses to let this get in her way. So I would not consider it a big deal, but having seen one or two moments in the film, I could see certain viewers having a particular perception of Shinobu’s character or his connection to Suzu that maybe I did not. The movie is bound to age well if you ask me despite its influence from “Beauty and the Beast,” but I will remind you, this film is not a ripoff of a classic tale, if anything it is a reinvention. It is not a love story, it is a cautionary human drama that warns its viewers to be careful in regard to what they see, do, and say on the Internet. Or in some cases, in real life.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I highly recommend “Belle” to almost anyone, and I kind of mean that because anime was never my genre. I have a history of enjoying animated content, but not much from Japan. Now that I have seen this movie, it has opened my eyes to more of what Japan has to offer, including Mamoru Hosoda’s library, which I hear is incredible. I want to go ahead and check out some of his other movies. This is one of the few animated movies I have seen that I feel like is specifically not made for children. I think kids should watch it if the chance comes around, I think it is an important movie that everyone should watch at least one point in their life, especially now with the Metaverse expanding more than ever. The songs are catchy, well-written, and obnoxiously powerful. I do not often cry during movies, but the scene with A Million Miles Away is a literal tearjerker, so if you cry during movies, prepare yourself. I said that this is not a redo of my review, but if it were, I would be giving the movie a 10/10, because each time I watch the film, the more I realize I like it. I have gotten completely attached to Suzu as a character even though we have our differences. She is a perfect protagonist for this world, and this movie took her in a direction that enhanced its lesson to the audience. Just because someone is popular, it does not mean that they are a narcissist. It does not mean that they are the kind of person some would make them out to be. Heck, I did not even talk about Ruka in this post and that is a whole other topic I could have gotten into. And instead of explaining everything about Ruka, I will let you see for yourself. Because “Belle” is now available on various home video formats including DVD and Blu-ray, if you have not gotten a chance to watch “Belle,” find a chance as soon as possible, because it is worth your time. It is one of my favorite animated movies, and with enough rewatches, it could potentially be in the conversation for one of my favorite movies period.

Thanks for reading this post! If you like this post, be sure to check out some of my other ones, including several of my reviews. One of my reviews is for the new Nicolas Cage film, “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,” or you could even read my most recent review, which is for “The Bob’s Burgers Movie,” which is officially in theaters as of this weekend. If you want to see more non-review posts, please check out my response to movie theaters, and why I think they should play fewer trailers before the feature presentation. To find out my first impression of “Belle,” you can read my review that I posted in January! Hope you like it! 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, like I asked in my review, did you see “Belle?” What did you think about it? Also, I want to ask a question for the anime fans reading this, because I want to dive further into the genre. What anime products do you recommend? Let me know, because I am always looking for suggestions! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Turning Red (2022): Pixar’s Latest, and Best, Direct to Disney+ Feature

“Turning Red” is directed by Domee Shi, who also directed “Bao,” one of the more memorable Pixar shorts. This film stars Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Ava Morse, Hyein Park, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Orion Lee, Wai Ching Ho, Tristan Allerick Chen, and James Hong in a film about a young girl named Meilin Lee whose life and connection with those around her begins to turn upside down as soon as she transforms into a giant red panda.

Pixar is one of the best studios ever created, and I am honestly saddened to see what is becoming of them. And it is not the studio’s fault, it is instead the faults of Disney themselves, who happen to be putting their movies straight to Disney+. I could kind of understand it for “Soul,” because it was a good way to boost subscribers, it was free, unlike “Mulan,” and COVID-19 was incredibly rampant. “Luca” suffered the same fate months later for similar reasons, although I honestly think it would have done semi-decently in theaters if marketed well enough. After all, Pixar movies usually end up being some of the bigger hits of the summer. So I was disappointed to see that one go straight to streaming as well, even if it ended up being my least favorite movie from the studio. I was optimistic that Disney would not do the same for “Turning Red,” whose trailers I saw in theaters, and have enjoyed. …In theaters. Turns out, that’s not the case.

So I went to California to go see this film in a theater. That was not the main intention of why I went there, but that was something I happened to do while I was visiting. I look back on “Soul,” which to me, is an inferior Pixar title, and think it would have been cool to see it in theaters because the music would have sounded graceful through high-quality surround sound. Now that I HAVE seen “Turning Red” in a theater, part of me almost questions how this did not get a wider release. Because there are select parts that had my attention, especially at the end, that would have been nowhere near as enhanced had I watched this movie at home.

But as for the movie itself, I want to point out that the last two Pixar films, “Soul” and “Luca” are currently my least favorites they have done. Thankfully, “Turning Red” does not join those ranks. I would put it in the same caliber as maybe “Ratatouille,” a movie a really enjoyed, but also acknowledge is not maybe my favorite or least favorite. Again, Pixar is a great studio, and even with what I said about “Luca,” the film is still in the positive range for me. Their batting average is one of the best in regards to studios working today. It reminds me of Marvel Studios, except that they have a few movies that disappointed me and I would consider to be in the negative. When it comes to entertaining a massive amount of people, and not just giving the bare minimum when it comes to that, Pixar knows exactly what they’re doing. And getting Domee Shi to tell her story is a part of that.

One of my favorite Pixar movies is “Inside Out,” partially because of how emotionally satisfying it is by the end of it, but also partially because of how perfect of a metaphor it is for entering adolescence. Similar to “Inside Out,” “Turning Red” almost comes off as a metaphor for puberty, and I am kind of amazed that Pixar even decided to execute a movie like this because I think some adults will look at this and wonder if kids should even be watching it. Disney movies have sometimes been known for their dark turns in the story, especially when a member of the family dies. I will keep spoilers of “Turning Red” to a minimum, because I do recommend it, but the parts that may be the least kid-friendly are the moments that reflect the coming of age or growing up of our main character. If anything, I would say that this movie is almost a secret sequel to “Inside Out,” because if you remember that movie’s ending, it’s like we took one fraction from that film’s ending and made a feature-length story on what happens next.

This movie has a reference to “stripper music!” A kids movie!

The main characters of “Turning Red” make every other character in a Pixar film from Lightning McQueen to Mike Wazowski look completely silent and innocent. And by the main characters, I mean the teenage girls. Mei, Abby, Miriam, and Priya. I feel like watching them with their emphasized expressions and emotions not only highlight the chemistry they have with each other, but I felt like there were select scenes that highlight emotions from them that either would only reflect them at their current age or would highlight maybe the stereotyped awkwardness, perhaps even grossness, that comes with puberty. There are select facial expressions in this film that are off the wall cartoony to the point where there’s almost no real life replica for them.

In fact, not only does this film feature some of traditions of Pixar when it comes to their animation style with highly detailed, computerized 3D, which looks as impressive as usual. But there is also a bit of a Japanese anime style to this film as well, and it is fully embraced with FLASHY moments sprinkled every bit in between, poppy, bright colors, and I would even say the climax and its inner-workings feel like something out of an anime at times. But despite this film’s animated look, there is one moment, I will not say when, that something came onto the screen, and my jaw literally dropped at the sight of it because of how real it looked. Pixar is easily my favorite studio for animated movies, and part of it is not only because of their fun stories that bring joy and occasional tears, but also the effort that has been put into the film’s design. 2019’s “Toy Story 4” has one of the most surprisingly realistic looking shots I have seen of a cat in animation history. I think I just saw something equal to, if not greater than that.

“Turning Red” is Pixar doing what Pixar does best, because I often look at films from studios like Illumination and Dreamworks Animation and think to myself that despite their occasional enjoyability here and there, they almost dumb themselves down too much for the children who are inevitably going to be watching it because there are things happening on screen. Pixar does not do that. They feel like the wisest studio of them all. I almost feel like Pixar, when it comes to animation in the United States at least, is the thinking man’s animation studio. Disney Animation has a childlike spirit despite its darker themes. DreamWorks has its moments of maturity, but also resorts to immature jokes here and there. Illumination… My god. “Turning Red” seems to have a childlike spirit, but that is a compliment on the movie’s part because I feel like animation is, bar none, the perfect medium for something like this. I have seen images on the Internet of the film before it came out or just around release time regarding certain individuals refusing to watch this film because of the way it looked.

Okay. Now, film is subjective, not every movie is for everyone, but I will say if they did this film in live action, I think that they would have to change A LOT. Maybe some of the hyperactive writing could stay, but the expressions of the characters would not pop as much as it does here. I would love to see more of what Domee Shi does with her character and potentially what she can do with another directorial effort at Pixar. I think she and maybe Pete Docter (and Brad Bird should they make “Incredibles 3”) are the names I will await with eager anticipation in terms of when their next project arrives.

At the end of the day, this film is not just about someone who turns into a panda and lets all sorts of shenanigans unfold, it is about the struggles of growing up, the struggles of friendship, the struggles of family. At some point in these aspects, it is tough to maintain trust between one side and another. Sometimes you cannot please your parents because you want to please your friends. Sometimes you may not agree with everything your parents say, because maybe from their view, maybe they want the best for you. Their response could be somewhat justified, but in a case like this, the child may be significantly let down because they have wanted something so bad that it is all they think about. This took me back to a time when I was younger and I would ask my parents if I could play a slate of M rated video games. By the way, I played a ton of “Team Fortress 2” as a young teen. TURNED OUT FINE. The movie presents a similar case with 4 Town, a boy band who happens to be performing in Toronto. The girls want to go to the concert together, and the parents obviously want to interfere. From their point of view, they think the music is kind of ridiculous and think an event like this could be potentially harmful. But for the girls, this is practically their whole life. From the girls’ point of view, they almost see this as a part of growing up, which is part of what the movie’s about.

This film maintains a great lesson for children and adults. When I watch family movies or movies that are in the animated medium, I often note the lesson that they tend to provide for the children watching, it’s mainly intended for them. But I feel like a parent could watch this movie and take something from it too. It’s that good. It’s that effective. I highly recommend this movie to anyone and I wish it had a theatrical release.

The film also has a post-credits scene. For those who want to watch the movie, do not pause when the credits roll, there is more.

In the end, “Turning Red” is wonderful movie. It is not my favorite Pixar film, but it is funny, charming, and fast-paced. While there definitely are some moments in this film that try to go for the emotions, this may be a somewhat easier watch for some people than some of Pixar’s other fare in recent years like “Inside Out” or “Coco,” because films like those often seemingly attempt to make people cry. “Turning Red” starts off as cheerful fun and ends that way. If you want a joyful, happy go lucky film with some conflict, I highly recommend this picture. The main character of Mei is wonderful and brilliantly voiced by Rosalie Chiang. I would love to see more from the “Turning Red” property, and I am going to give it an 8/10.

Also, big shoutout to Sandra Oh. Her resume from an animation perspective has been fire lately. She was in “Over the Moon,” “Raya and the Last Dragon,” and now this. She is making some great choices lately.

“Turning Red” is now available on Disney+ for free as long as you are a subscriber.

Thanks for reading this review! Speaking of reading, if you like reading things for a very very long time, you will LOVE the 4th Annual Jackoff Awards! The awards were held on March 27th, but if you want to read the show now, here is an opportunity! Find out which 2021 films win’s Jacks awards! Should we do a fifth awards show, my next movie I am reviewing will probably not make it. Ladies and gentlemen, my next review… Is… Morbius.

Let’s get this overwith.

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 “Turning Red?” What did you think about it? Or, which of the straight to Disney+ Pixar movies did you enjoy the most? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Luca (2021): Pixar’s Latest Direct to Streaming Film Barely Scratches the Surface of Quality

“Luca” is directed by Enrico Casarosa (Up, Coco) and stars Jacob Tremblay (Room, Wonder), Jack Dylan Grazer (Shazam!, It), Emma Berman, Saverio Raimondo, Maya Rudolph (Life of the Party, Brides Maids), Marco Barricelli (The Book of Daniel, Holy Silence), Jim Gaffigan (The Jim Gaffigan Show, Bob’s Burgers), Peter Sohn (Ratatouille, Monsters University), Lorenzo Crinski, Marina Massironi (Bread and Tulips, Letters to Juliet), and Sandy Martin (Ray Donovan, Dumbo). This film is about a young sea monster named Luca disguised as a human who exits the water and enters land. In other words, he has reached “the surface,” much to the dismay of his overprotective parents. While he is there, he meets a new human friend, Alberto, who lives near the Italian Riveria. Together, they form an unlikely bond and attempt to experience “the best summer ever.”

I almost did not review this film. And I say this as someone who loves Pixar. But I think when it comes to Pixar, it’s almost like watching a sibling you love take a few punches. As you may have learned over the years on Scene Before, my primary goal is to tackle mostly theatrically released content. Unfortunately, “Luca” was often marketed as a Disney+ exclusive. The film was originally going to come out in theaters, but a few months ago, it was decided that the film would go straight to Disney+. This made me think a few things. Either Disney is treating Pixar movies like they are afterthoughts, because even though I particularly was not as enthused by “Soul” as much as other people, that movie did very well review-wise and maybe “Luca” would receive the same treatment. Or Disney does not have much faith in “Luca.” We’ve seen movies that were supposed to come out in theaters over the years get streaming releases and people would often speculate the reason why the movie went to streaming in the first place is because it was not good. In fact, Disney+ is part of this trend with “Artemis Fowl,” which was BAD. But, knowing Disney, money talks, so maybe they thought “Luca” could underperform at the box office so maybe this was a way to boost Disney+ subscriptions. The COVID-19 pandemic changes each and every day, right now it is changing for the better depending on where you live, but people still question if it is going to stick around longer so for all I know, Disney took a safe route with “Luca.” The bright side is, unlike “Black Widow,” which will release theatrically and on Disney+ for a $29.99 fee, “Luca” is free for all subscribers.

I have decided to review this film and count it towards my end of year events like The Jackoff Awards because “Luca” did end up coming out in one theater in the United States. Specifically the El Capitan in Los Angeles, a cinema dedicated to Disney productions. So what do I think of “Luca?”

It’s the worst Pixar movie yet. And I cannot believe I am saying this because “Soul” came out last December and I said the exact same thing about that.

Now to be clear, I have not seen every single Pixar film. I still have not watched “Brave,” “Monsters University,” and “The Good Dinosaur” from start to finish. Maybe one day I will catch up on those, but for now, they’re still on my to do list. For all I know, those movies may be worse than “Luca.” But I want to bring up something that I have gathered over the years. Pixar has one of the best batting averages of all the studios working today. Thus far, I do not think they have given us one bad feature film. They’ve all been at the very least, likable. This even includes “Soul,” which again, prior to “Luca” I thought was the worst Pixar movie. Speaking of lesser Pixar movies, I took a screenwriting class in my sophomore year of college. My professor said he saw the movie “Onward,” which as of the conversation he had with the class, I happened to see as well. He thought that when it comes to Pixar, it is lower tier. But he also stated that bad Pixar is better than most movies. In a way he’s right. Because when it comes to Pixar, I think they do a better job at not specifically catering to a younger demographic and going after mature themes that can resonate with both kids and adults. “Luca” is no exception to this, because the story to “Luca” involves our main character being told that he must avoid a portion beyond the world they know, that portion being “the surface.” The way this plays out kind of reminded me of my relationship I have with my parents when they go into a “helicopter” mode essentially. Because Luca is the one kid who is brave enough to do something even though it is often discouraged by his parents, and he defends himself by referring to his carefulness. When it comes to certain aspects, Pixar not only excels at topping a lot of animations, but many other movies in general. It’s like Stephen King. Even some of his inferior work is supposedly better than a lot of books.

With that being said, “Luca” does not really feel like a Pixar movie. It feels like an okay movie with a somewhat intimate story that occasionally has some nicely animated shots and sequences, but it feels cliché and very low in terms of stakes. I mean, yes, there are some occasionally high stakes, but compared to other Pixar movies, they are low. Plus it repeats the same motifs that you see in Pixar films like “Ratatoullie” and “Monsters Inc.,” specifically the idea that humans are dangerous. The depth to Luca’s character is also admittedly somewhat surface level, pun intended. Luca is by no means the worst character in the world, but we barely know anything about him other than the fact that he is a sea monster-human hybrid and his parents do not want him near the surface. Yes, we see him doing sea crap in the beginning of the film, but my question is, what does he do for fun? Is there… Anything? Maybe that’s the point, because maybe that’s a way to establish how much more interesting the human world is. Because it is a world where people actually do s*it. In the sea, we don’t see any of that. That could be intentional, but it also slices out a sense of dimensionality to Luca as a character. This technically stands as a flaw to me, but at the same time, I would love to know where the writers were coming from on this.

I will also say that when it comes to characters in this movie, the surface characters had some work that I feel would need to be done as well. I think the chemistry between Luca and Alberto is fine, although I feel like there are some things I would change about how their plot moved along because by the end of the movie, I honestly questioned how they were in the positions they found themselves in, but I want to point out the villain, Saverio Raimondo’s character of Ercole Visconti.

Now, I know that this is an animation, so in a way you can get away with making your characters more expressive for the sake of establishing who they are, but when I watched this movie, I could not help but think that Ercole was ridiculously over the top to the point where he almost had no dimension to his personality. He is a surprisingly wacky villain for a story that honestly feels as small as it is. He feels like he belongs in a different movie. Honestly, if I had to make a comparison, he kind of reminded me of the villain from “The Secret Life of Pets 2” who came off as if he were written with the intention of catering to people who needed everything established in front of them. Granted, if I had to prefer watching one character over the other I’d choose Ercole, but nevertheless.

This movie has some okay ideas, but the execution of everything at hand leaves a bit to be desired. I liked some of Luca’s fish out of water experiences, where he learns about stuff like space and Vespas, but the story weirdly feels rushed and as if some details were overlooked. I think the relationships Luca has with Alberto and Giulia are fine, but I do not think I will remember them compared to the relationships I have seen in other Pixar movies like Joy and Sadness in “Inside Out” or Fredrickson and Russell in “Up.” Simply put, this movie is good, but it could be better. Perhaps in more ways than one.

In the end, “Luca” is an okay film, but it is also currently my least favorite Pixar movie. It is perhaps the one that I am least likely to watch again. Even though I said “Soul” was my least favorite Pixar film before this one, I could see myself turning that one on again because it has a lot of deep elements that make you question the meaning of life. “Luca” is a simple movie, but at times it is a little too simple. I never really found anything in “Luca” that resembled an “oomph” factor. Some of it feels very “been there done that” while other portions feel less interesting compared to some of Pixar’s other work. I will say though, the film is nice to look at. I really like the designs they went for with the sea monsters, and the underwater scenes are eye-popping. In the technical department, Pixar once again does not disappoint. I just wish the movie were better. I’m going to give “Luca” a 6/10.

“Luca” is now available on Disney+ for free for as long as you are a subscriber.

Thanks for reading this review! Summer is here! And that means it is time to review some big movies! This summer we have “Black Widow,” “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” “The Suicide Squad,” and “Free Guy” just to name a few titles! But before we get to any of that, we will be diving into a long-awaited sequel. So long in fact that I bought tickets for this movie in February 2020, only to find out it would be delayed until the following year. That sequel, my friends, is “F9: The Fast Saga,” which is now playing everywhere. I will be reviewing the movie hopefully by the end of the month, so stay tuned for my thoughts!

Also coming soon, stay tuned for my brand new review series “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Chest of Reviews.” My review for the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie, “The Curse of the Black Pearl,” will be available on July 1st. I will be reviewing all five “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies in preparation for “Jungle Cruise,” which like “Pirates of the Caribbean,” is inspired by a Disney theme park ride.

If you want to see all this great content and more, be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account! Also be sure to like the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Luca?” What did you think about it? Or, what are your favorite AND least favorite, Pixar movies? My favorite, it’s “The Incredibles,” also my most cherished animated film of all time. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Soul (2020): Pete Docter’s Latest Attempt at Making You Cry

“Soul” is directed by Pete Docter (Up, Inside Out) alongside first timer for feature-length directing, Kemp Powers. This film stars Jamie Foxx (Ray, The Amazing Spider-Man 2), Tina Fey (30 Rock, Saturday Night Live), Questlove (The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon), Phylicia Rashad (The Cosby Show, Creed), Daveed Digs (Snowpiercer, Black-ish), and Angela Bassett (What’s Love Got to Do with It, Black Panther). This film centers around a middle school jazz teacher who often tries to find music gigs. He gets transported out of his body and must find his way back with the assistance of an infant soul.

Like many movies this year including “Scoob!,” “Trolls: World Tour,” “Greenland,” and “Mulan,” “Soul” joins the list of films that were once slated to have a big theatrical debut, but due to COVID-19, that became an impossibility. Therefore, Disney decided to put the film on their own streaming service, much like the just recently mentioned “Mulan.” However, unlike “Mulan,” to watch “Soul,” you did not have to pay an extra fee. You had to be a subscriber, but the one time fee of $29.99 was nonexistent. Yay!

Regardless of “Soul’s” fate, this was on my list of films to anticipate. After all, Pete Docter has directed three Pixar features, all of which by the way have been really good. “Monsters Inc.” puts a clever spin on the way we think about creatures that invade our nightmares. “Up” is a fun adventure with arguably the greatest on-screen dog ever made. “Inside Out” is not only one of my favorite Pixar movies, but it is by far one of the best animated films I have ever watched, and really shows that the studio does not cater to kids, and respects its entire viewer base.

Speaking of Pixar, they’ve yet to have a bad day at the office. Even a movie like “Cars 2,” which many people suggest lacks luster compared to many of Pixar’s other offerings, I would consider fun and thrilling all the way through. To be fair though, I have not seen all of Pixar’s work. I skipped “The Good Dinosaur” in the theater and I have yet to watch it at home. So who knows? Maybe that movie will disappoint me. So, does “Soul” keep up the positive streak Pixar has been hammering home by now?

Ehh… Kinda.

Let me say one thing about “Soul,” where there are positives, they are obvious. This film, much like all of Pixar’s recent work like “Incredibles 2” and “Toy Story 4” is beautifully animated. Even though I watched “Soul” on the small screen, New York looked as stunning as a snowfall on Christmas morning. I really like that Pete Docter decided to do another project where the main characters are not necessarily just humans, but little figments of ourselves. “Inside Out” is one of my favorite films of the past five to six years, and part of why I love that movie so much is because it takes emotions and utilizes them to make you feel emotions. Sort of in the same way, I kind of expected that going into “Soul.” In some ways, my expectations to such a matter were met. In others, not so much. The thing about “Inside Out” is that the movie managed to take characters, who in actuality are just parts of one humanized character, and turned them into something bigger, something bolder. In “Soul,” it kind of puts humans and souls in the same perspective and somewhat equalizes them despite their differences. This movie tries to do something with that, and there are a series of pros that come with the concept’s execution, but as the movie goes on, it becomes less interesting, especially towards the final few minutes.

“Soul” is by no means the worst movie of the year, however it may have the worst ending. I will not spoil anything, but this film does not exactly follow the structure of your traditional animation, and I think in some ways, that’s great. I love when films become experimental. But experiments are about trial and error. I think we’ve hit “error” territory with this vision. In a way, each character’s arch was fulfilled. All the actions lead to inevitable reactions. But I left the film feeling empty. I did not feel happy. I did not feel sad. I left not knowing what exactly to think. The usual thing about films is that they try to build up to an epic and satisfying climax. “Soul” has a climax, thankfully. However, as I watched the film, it did not feel climactic. It felt like we were somewhere in act two a little too long. I do not know why. When I watched “Inside Out,” it kind of felt like sex for your brain. You built up all this information, it’s all clogged in your mind, and when the big moments of the end come, I felt shook, it is a feeling that left me with a series of emotions. “Soul” left me with one question.

“Wait, that’s the movie?”

I felt like we’ve left the story unfinished, when in reality it wasn’t. Nothing really felt big or grand, and while I do not expect all my movies to feel like that, it feels weird to be saying that about a Pixar movie. The studio typically does a good job with scale and reminding you of the importance of its characters. “Soul” does that, but it couldn’t stick the landing.

However, speaking of characters, I admire the chemistry between our two leads. You have the main character, Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx), who has to deal with his new normal after death. And you also have 22 (Tina Fey), who had a particular normal for centuries, and this movie presents the latest iteration of that normal. One of my favorite scenes of the film are the flashbacks of the past examples of what 22 is going through in the not the great beyond, but the great before, where souls remain before they journey to earth to live out their lives. I thought the duo were cast decently, and they had a couple funny lines here and there. Yes, “Soul” is funny, but I will not say it is as funny as other Pixar flicks including “Toy Story 2,” “Up,” and the incessantly mentioned “Inside Out.”

If anything, “Soul” is a movie that is probably going to be looked over by students. This is partially because it is a family friendly movie revolving around music, so this may be good for music classes of all ages. Also, the way it handles the afterlife (or the bare exposition to the afterlife) provides an intriguing peek at what may happen when we go bye bye. It is stunningly animated, and kind of creative. I wonder how other people are going to view “Soul” as far as the human condition message goes.

This movie is marketed to provide a message to remind people to follow their path, chase their dreams, achieve what they believe is their destiny. And the movie sort of dives into that, but it comes with a little more. And while “Soul” comes with a solid moral of the story, it almost feels inconsistent. Then again, the way this movie structures itself feels nearly inconsistent. At times it works, but if I had to give a percentage, it would not be 100%. Many movies have the neverending question, “What is human?” It is a great theme to dive into and can make for a terrific movie. “Soul,” much like how many of its characters are partial figments of ourselves in a way, has many of the positives of other Pixar films, but its positives do not stand out as much as other examples. The best phrase I can give to describe “Soul” is “partially positive.” “Soul” is emotional, but not “Toy Story 3” emotional. “Soul” is funny, but not “The Incredibles” funny. “Soul” is fun, but not “Ratatouille” fun. “Soul” is deep, but not “Inside Out” deep. Maybe it’s deeper, who knows? But regardless, “Soul” does not handle depth like “Inside Out” handles depth. “Soul” tries to encapsulate all these positive qualities, and it does to a degree, but it cannot do so all the way through. And that is really sad, because this film got me to subscribe to Disney+, and now I may be regretting my purchase. First impressions matter!

In the end, “Soul” may not be soulless, but it is also a far cry from what I expect from Pixar. Maybe my disappointment has to do with too much hype, because it’s the typical cycle. In addition to “Soul” having overwhelmingly positive reviews, with quite a few people I’ve come across suggesting it is a masterpiece, I went into the movie expecting one of the best things ever, only to be let down somewhat. That’s not the first time that’s happened to me with Pixar, because that happened to me with “Coco.” I was expecting an emotional thrill, but I left the film going “Okay, that happened. Next.” Again, this film looks great, even on a small screen where it was not originally meant to be seen, but as we progress through the second half of the film, it becomes progressively less fascinating, even with the whole links to what it means to be human. There’s good morals here, I just wish they were in a better movie. For those of you who have never seen a Siskel & Ebert review, their rating system is simple, thumbs up or thumbs down. If I had to give my thoughts on the animation and tech for this film, it is a definite thumbs up. The story, it depends on what we are talking about, but it is going to get the slightest of a thumbs up as I was entertained and hypnotized for a majority of the film. I’m going to give “Soul” a 7/10.

“Soul” is a positive movie, but as far as Pixar goes, it is not up to par with other films. It might even be my least favorite from the studio. When it comes to Pixar films from this year, I need time to marinate, but I might rather want to watch “Onward.” Just bein’ honest. And I will be fair to Pixar. To have a studio’s possibly worst movie get a 7/10 speaks volumes of its history. Just to be clear, Pixar has released feature films since the mid-1990s, and since then, they would put one or two out almost every year. I hope Pixar steps up from here, but I think they’ve created many great films and developed tons of memorable characters over the years. Here’s hoping they can conceptualize more.

“Soul” is exclusively available on Disney+ for all subscribers. And unlike one of the service’s other exclusives (for a limited time), “Mulan,” “Soul” is available at no extra cost.

Thanks for reading this review! Next week I will be reviewing “Wonder Woman 1984,” which is now in theaters wherever they are open. If your theaters are closed or you don’t feel safe going to a cinema right now, the film is also available on HBO Max to all subscribers for 31 days. I personally have my IMAX tickets ready for Sunday, and I cannot wait to watch the film! Also, at the start of 2021, I will be listing my top 10 BEST movies of 2020 and my top 10 WORST movies of 2020! These countdowns have been a tradition of mine for years, and I am glad to keep it going! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! …If you wanna keep your soul. I want to know, did you see “Soul?” What did you think about it? And what is your LEAST FAVORITE Pixar movie? Worst, not best! Just want to make sure we’re clear! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Top Movies of the 2010s (THE DISAPPOINTING 25)

Top Movies of the 2010s OFFICIAL POSTER

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

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

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

#25: The Aeronauts (2019)

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

#24: Coco (2017)

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

#23: Seventh Son (2014)

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

#22: Jupiter Ascending (2015)

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

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

Shut up, Meg.

#21: Suicide Squad (2016)

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

#20: Grown Ups (2010)

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

#19: Under the Skin (2013)

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

#18: New Year’s Eve (2011)

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

#17: Allegiant (2016)

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

#16: Sully (2016)

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

#15: Flight (2012)

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

#14: The Revenant (2015)

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

#13: The Hunger Games (2012)

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

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

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

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

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

#11: Moonlight (2016)

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

#10: Logan Lucky (2017)

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

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

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

#8: Transcendence (2014)

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

#7: Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018)

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

#6: Shrek Forever After (2010)

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

#5: The Favourite (2018)

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

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

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

#3: Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

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

#2: Midsommar (2019)

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

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

#1: ???

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes – Part 4

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is now time for part 4 of the all new Scene Before series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes.” This series describes the recent happenings, or in some cases, a lack of happenings, in the film industry as the world deals with the COVID-19 outbreak.

As usual, we deal with real world matters first. Since Easter was this past weekend, gatherings at churches and homes within one’s collective connections of a family that was commonplace in years past managed to take a backseat this year.

California has recently extended its stay at home order from April 19th to May 15th. Speaking of California, the state recently joined forces with other nearby states including Oregon and Washington in what they call the Western States Pact. The three announced a plan to put health first and deliver a more scientific-based focus compared to a political focus to stopping the coronavirus. The states are still building specific plans for their area, but they are nevertheless working together to stop the spread.

Speaking of which, the northeast portion of the United States is engaging in something similar. Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania are joining forces in their own coalition. So, remember all those requests for Andrew Cuomo to run for President of the United States? That won’t be happening anytime soon, but when it comes to coronavirus matters, he is currently dealing with more than just New York. Speaking of Presidents of the United States…

President Donald J. Trump stated this Monday that he is the one that should have control on opening the country back up. He suggests, “When somebody is president of the United States, the authority is total.” Trump also stated he wants to open the United States back up by May 1st, which close medical expert Anthony Fauci declares is “a bit overly optimistic.”

Just today, Andrew Cuomo referred to Trump this morning on NBC’s “Today,” suggesting “We do not have a king, we have a president.” Cuomo is doing what he can to make sure that the state of New York opens back up at what he considers to be the right time for everyone’s health. While Trump is suggesting May 1st, Cuomo fears that this all-powerful decision made by Trump will lead to “a constitutional crisis like you haven’t seen in decades,” as he stated in MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Speaking of Andrew Cuomo, and somewhat transitioning to movie news a bit early here, he suggested the possibility of making drive-in theaters an exception to non-essential businesses that remain closed. Keep in mind, drive-ins have still been in operation during the ongoing crisis, but it does not mean that there are some that are not in operation, plus there are others that are just closed because it’s not the proper season for a drive-in to be open. Cuomo suggested, “Where is the public safety issue? It’s a drive-in theater. You’re in the car with the same people.” He is not wrong. Drive-ins make for a fun night out while also promoting social distancing. I would not mind drive-ins opening up, but the problem is… What movies are they going to play? Are just going to play “Trolls: World Tour” over and over? Maybe they’ll bring back some classics since there’s nothing else to do.

Going outside the United States, specifically in Wuhan, China, where early cases of the virus originated, the city opened back up after a lively lightshow and countdown declaring the disappearance of COVID-19. Despite the reopening, restrictions still appear to be in place including the closure of schools, shops, and sadly, cinemas. But one thing that has opened is the region’s wet markets. Outsiders are suggesting immediate closure of said wet markets as it serves live animals, including bats, which sources suggest is the reason why COVID-19 spread in the first place.

But of course, we have some movie news to talk about like usual. More delays, more new releases on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital, and some big news involving acclaimed filmmaker Bong Joon Ho (don’t worry, that part is all good news). Also, there’s a big movie that tried something new this weekend, going straight to digital while also having a theatrical release. Before we dive into that, I do want to point out that despite there being a major pandemic, some movie theaters are still open. Keep in mind, many of these theaters are drive-ins. This is now old news, but according to Deadline, 14 movie theaters remained open on the first weekend of April. I also want to point out another article I saw from The Wrap, which suggests that “Trolls: World Tour” played in 21 drive-in theaters this weekend. Even in desperate times, theaters are still active. Speaking of optimistic news, here’s more!

JAMES GUNN SAYS GUARDIANS 3 AND THE SUICIDE SQUAD WON’T BE DELAYED

Usually when I dive into these main topics during the series, I have often emphasized the bad news at hand. A common example is when a major film gets delayed such as “F9,” “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” or “Top Gun: Maverick.” However, it’s about time we get some good news in here and talk about a couple of films that are not being affected by the outbreak, both of which are being directed by James Gunn. To specify, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” which is a big movie, especially since it’s the third consecutive entry to the franchise being helmed by Gunn himself, but also “The Suicide Squad,” which has finished filming in February and is set to release August 6th, 2021. Gunn spent time on Twitter recently taking questions from fans and he had some notable things to say regarding these two films.

Alright, this resembles some decent progress on the film, and it shows that even in a time like this, people like Gunn in the entertainment industry are still working. But let’s see the next tweet.

Keep in mind, “The Suicide Squad” is not set to come out for a bit under a year and half, so there is plenty of time to edit the film, develop a marketing campaign, and lay out all the elements needed for the film’s post-production process. So the film is coming, and should this pandemic fizzle, there is a solid chance that “The Suicide Squad” will be in theaters during 2021. Now what about that other big comic book James Gunn has up his sleeve?

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is not currently listed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s fourth phase, but there have been previously established plans to make the film. Unfortunately, the film was supposed to come out this year, but due to James Gunn’s controversial tweets leaking, his business relationship with Disney was no more and he was no longer attached to direct the third installment to the franchise. Judging by this tweet right here, Gunn still seems to be working on the film, but an official release date seems rather uncertain at this point. IMDb lists it to come out in 2021, but given how Marvel has many other projects going on, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” might have to wait. But “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is nevertheless a film that I will see should I get the chance to witness it come out, so this information pleases me to say the least. I was not the biggest fan of “Vol. 2,” but I am curious to see what Gunn could deliver to this third installment.

MORE MOVIES GET DELAYED

But of course, with good news, comes bad news. In this case, the bad news is that yet another delay is happening. As if Pixar didn’t suffer enough already by having to put “Onward” on digital early, they just pushed back “Soul” to November. Nobody behind Pixar seems to be popping bottles at this point. “Soul” was originally supposed to come out June 19th, but now has been pushed back to November 20th. By the way, this is releasing the same day as “Godzilla vs. Kong.” I honestly have no idea how well that movie is going to do box-office wise, but given Pixar’s name recognition and since there already has been some anticipation towards this film, there could be a chance that “Soul” is the box office champ of the two when it comes to seeing how they play out on opening weekend. The film is directed by Pete Docter, who also directed 2015’s “Inside Out,” which this film honestly reminds me of. Kemp Powers will co-direct by the way. While conceptually different, “Soul” seems to present the vibe of “Inside Out,” not to mention a somewhat similar concept. The film follows a musician (Jamie Foxx) who loses his passion for music. After being transported out of his body, he interacts with an infant soul while trying to return to said body. The film definitely sounds like it could be emotional, which would not be much of a shocker for a film by Pixar. But now here’s a problem for not just this film, but a bunch of others coming out this year. I don’t know if it is just me, but it now feels like November is CRAMMED with popular titles. From “Soul” to “No Time to Die” to “Black Widow.” While I could look at this as a benefit because it likely means this November will be a pop culture haven, it’s also a negative because I imagine some films that could potentially be big will underperform because they are in such a congested schedule. Or to make matters more interesting, November is also a big month for award season, and now there is probably a bigger focus on pop culture titles that might not be awarded much of anything as opposed to what could be nominated for the Academy’s Best Picture in a couple months.

Also, remember how “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run” got delayed to late July? Paramount’s “Infinite,” an upcoming sci-fi flick starring Mark Wahlberg (Transformers: Age of Extinction, Ted), which was originally come out July 31st, has officially been pushed back to Memorial Day weekend in 2021. The film follows a man whose hallucinations are visions of his past lives. I would like to go into some of my past lives at this point just to get away from whatever the hell is going on right now. Think I was done talking about “SpongeBob?” Well I’m not! I say so because the film has been delayed again, but this time only by a week. As of now, “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run” is coming out August 7th.

TROLLS: WORLD TOUR DEBUTS DIGITALLY

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I’ve talked about this news already, but given how this does document a rare incident, I might as well talk about it. Certain movies like “The Irishman” have a limited run in theaters before being put on Netflix, but for “Trolls: World Tour,” the sequel to DreamWorks’ successful 2016 flick, that’s a different story. You won’t be able to find it on Netflix, but you will be able to find it through services including Prime Video, FandangoNOW, and Vudu. The reason, Universal wanted to put “Trolls: World Tour” out on digital the same day they put it out in theaters. This is kind of an unprecedented situation as movies typically start in theaters and there is a waiting period until the movie comes out on digital and DVD. But nope, Universal thought it would be better to just digitally release the film. I have not seen the film, in fact, I have no plans on seeing the film given how I have not watched the original, but others did manage to show up for this new installment. The movie managed to make more through its digital run than “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” did when it debuted digitally. “Trolls: World Tour” managed to make around $30 million according to reports. This is compared to “Fallen Kingdom,” which managed to rack up $2-3 million. Keep in mind, these reports are exclusive to the United States. Also, another thing to keep in mind, that even though many of the purchases were through digital platforms, theaters were open during the initial days of “Trolls: World Tour,” many of which are drive-ins, so it is not like everybody had to be stuck in their house to watch it. Also, while $30 million may be considered successful in this circumstance, the movie cost $90 million to make, so there could be a chance that Universal will lose money over this. Even though a $19.99 rental for 48 hours can cost more than a single movie ticket, the target demographic for “Trolls: World Tour” is families, especially kids. You can take a family of four to the theater and pay double that price to see the movie, maybe even more. It’s also short of what the first movie raked in on its opening weekend back in 2016, which was over $46 million. If this sequel was in theaters, it probably could have surpassed that due to factors such as name recognition. My biggest wonder for “Trolls: World Tour” is how well it will do over these next few days, not to mention next weekend. I say that because, sure, the movie can have excellent debut to rave about. But if we are treating this as the closest thing to a theatrical release we can get, we have to consider how much of a drop it could make this following weekend. Will it make $15 million? $12 million? $10 million? Could it possibly make more this weekend than it did last weekend? Only time will tell. This straight to digital rollout is an experiment if there ever was one, and its chances towards success have recently shown that maybe theaters COULD have been much better for “Trolls: World Tour,” but this is a new way of doing things, and if we are still in this crisis, things could change.

MY SPY GOES STRAIGHT TO PRIME VIDEO

For those of you who don’t know, “My Spy,” the film where Dave Bautista goes undercover and makes a connection with a nine-year old girl, is a movie that has been promoted from time to time by STX here in the states has already released theatrically in select regions including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom. But for the United States, it’s a different story. The film has already had free screenings before it was supposed to come out, one of which I went to in January by the way. But the film has had a rough history when it comes to getting a proper release. “My Spy” was supposed to release on August 23rd, 2019. The film had a trailer put out a year ago, so the promotion and marketing process was getting into gear. However, it was pulled from STX’s release schedule in July. The next release date that was announced for the film was March 13th, 2020. And of course, to get the ball rolling on word of mouth and that sort of thing, free screenings started popping up and I got to attend one of them. But, just in the snap of a finger, the release date changed from March 13th to April 17th. I would imagine that the COVID-19 crisis could be a contributing factor, but I also wonder if STX thought if it would be a better time for the film to release in terms of financial gain compared to competition. Nevertheless, it was just announced on April 8th that the film is now going to be distributed by Amazon Studios and instead of going to theaters, it is going directly to Prime Video. So if you are a Prime member, you are likely going to be able to watch “My Spy” for free on the service.

CBS SCHEDULES SUNDAY MOVIE NIGHTS

CBS is a leading name for television. Their standard channels air daytime staples like “The Price Is Right” and “The Young and the Restless” along with notable shows at night such as “Young Sheldon,” “MacGyver,” and “Mom.” Meanwhile, they have been building a name for themselves through streaming by providing material such as a couple of “Star Trek” original shows and a spinoff of “The Good Wife” known as “The Good Fight” through CBS All Access. But if you get access to the main CBS channel, which I’m sure a lot of you do, one thing you might want to keep an eye on is their schedule for May. Every Sunday, CBS is going to air movies under the Paramount label. This will begin with a movie that is very likely to garner attention, “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” In addition to that “Indiana Jones” film, the network is also airing “The Last Crusade.” Oddly enough, they are skipping over “Temple of Doom.” Other movies to be aired by CBS will include “Titanic,” “Forrest Gump,” and “Mission: Impossible.” This run will last for five Sundays from May 3rd to May 31st. By the way, all the movies are scheduled to begin at 8PM, except for “Titanic,” which will start at 7PM. Earlier on in the series, I discussed that ESPN was going to air movies on Friday nights, said movies are all Disney-owned and focus on sports. One thing that I think would help CBS in a case like this compared to ESPN just a little bit is its accessibility. CBS is a slightly more recognizable channel and unlike ESPN, you can get it on an antenna.

HULU ACHIEVES BEST PICTURE WINNER PARASITE

One of my favorite films of the past year is the Bong Joon Ho-directed masterpiece, “Parasite.” Lucky for me, I own the Blu-ray, therefore I have the ability to watch the film as much as I please through a physical disc. But if you have Hulu, you can consider yourself lucky because “Parasite” is now available on the service. For the record, the film is not the first of its kind to be on Hulu. To be clear, the film was distributed in the States by Neon, which also helped distribute titles including “I, Tonya,” “The Beach Bum,” and “Honeyland.” Films like these have also made it to Hulu. So if you wanted to watch “Parasite” without paying much, just make sure you have a Hulu subscription and you’re good to go. And remember, it won the Academy’s vote for Best Picture, so every film aficionado will tell you that it is bloody important. If you are a little skeptical on watching “Parasite” because it is in Korean, let me just remind you of this quote given by director Bong Joon Ho himself.

“Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”

Speaking of Bong Joon Ho, his 2013 work “Snowpiercer,” which is being adapted into a series set to air on TNT, is coming out for the first time in the United Kingdom on DVD and Blu-ray. The film is set to release on May 25th. It’s one heck of a time to be Bong Joon Ho.

NEW HOME VIDEO RELEASES

Stuck at home? Jack’s here to help! This week for digital has got a few new movies coming your way. For starters, we have “Underwater,” one of the last films to display the 20th Century Fox label. For the record, Disney did complete their acquisition of Fox’s assets during March 2019, but for a little under a year, they kept putting out films like “Ford v Ferrari” that had the studio label that has achieved fame. Although, with the recent release of “The Call of the Wild,” they are now using 20th Century Studios instead. Sticking with “Underwater,” the film stars Kristen Stewart alongside a crew of researchers as their underwater facility is hit with an earthquake. The film is a box office bomb, making $37.2 million on a $50 million budget. It has a 47% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 60% audience rating, so it’s hard to know what exactly you’ll think of it upon first glance. The film is also now available on DVD and Blu-ray if you prefer the physical copy.

“Fantasy Island,” which is based on a TV show of the same name, is now available for digital purchase. If you want to wait for a rental option, that is coming May 12th, the same day the film comes out on DVD and Blu-ray. Keep in mind, the film has a 4.6 on IMDb, which might not be the best of signs.

Also coming out, “The Rhythm Section.” This action flick stars Blake Lively and Jude Law, and is about a woman whose family dies in a plane crash. This woman joins the world of espionage as she seeks vengeance. The film is not out on DVD and Blu-ray until April 28th, but it is available for digital purchase today.

Thanks for reading the fourth part of the ongoing series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes!” Even in the apocalypse, there is one thing I can promise, and that my friends, is content. Maybe not the content that I want to make, but content nevertheless. Last week I said that I’d probably get shoved into an abyss by STX executives if I talk about “My Spy” at this point. So with that in mind, now that it is owned by Amazon and has no official release date, I will probably be shoved into an abyss by Amazon executives, or maybe even Jeff Bezos himself, if I talk about “My Spy” at this point. So what is happening with the movie is clear, but when I will review it, is unclear. Only time will tell. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, is there any big news I missed regarding COVID-19 and entertainment over the past week? Also, since it is appropriate, what are your thoughts on “Parasite?” Personally, I think it is one of the most twisted movies I have seen in recent memory and it is a blast from start to finish. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes Part 3

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is now time for part 3 of the all new Scene Before series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes.” This series describes the recent happenings, or in some cases, a lack of happenings, in the film industry as the world deals with the COVID-19 outbreak.

The spread continues! The United States is still the most affected country by this virus and one can only wonder when collective optimism will set in. What is happening? Masks weren’t safe then but they’re safe now? The New England Patriots sent protective equipment to New York? Speaking of New York, apparently it is just recently reported that the state has suffered its highest death toll yet. Although at the same time, Gov. Andrew Cuomo feels that the decrease in hospitalizations could bring hope. Speaking of hope, the death toll in Italy and Spain seem to be falling.

There’s also continuous talk about about a drug. President Trump is suggesting to use hydroxychloroquine in order to stop the virus. For the record, this is a drug that is used to cure malaria and mosquito bites. Trump has a financial interest in Sanofi, which is a French drugmaker that makes a brand-name edition of the drug. He also suggested that if the drug is combined with azithromycin, an antibiotic, it could be “a game-changer.” However, not everyone is onboard, including expert Anthony Fauci, who has stood alongside Trump from day to day during this crisis. Fauci suggests that there is only “anecdotal evidence” of the drug helping people.

Also, Easter is this Sunday, and given how there are strong recommendations for people to stay home nowadays, there is a high likelihood that family gatherings will be avoided. I often visit relatives out of town on Easter Sunday, but given the current situation, that does not seem to be happening. But, if you live in New Zealand and you have kids that are feeling down, feel free to cheer them up by letting them know that the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, considers the Easter Bunny an essential worker.

As stated in the video, it may be tough for the bunny to get everywhere, but if you want to spread some positivity to your children, here you go. Also, remind them that the Tooth Fairy is essential as well. Although if that Tooth Fairy shows up as The Rock, then reconsider what I just said.

Once again, this has been a rather uneventful weekend for the box office, and one of the biggest concerns as far as box office goes has to do with AMC Theatres, which I’ll get to eventually. But as a continual substitute to the theater, many movies are constantly being dropped onto VOD services early. Some recent highlights include “Bad Boys For Life,” the highest grossing January film of all time, and “Impractical Jokers: The Movie,” which appropriately dropped on April Fools Day. But with physical life in abandonment for the time being, there may be some concerns about big festivals. San Diego Comic-Con, arguably the most important comic convention in relation to film, is still on. However, weeks ago, Cannes, the annual festival held in France, has been postponed from May to sometime in June or July. And it was just announced from festival director Thierry Fremaux that there are no plans to digitally transform the event, suggesting that “it’s a model that won’t work.” And this doesn’t even cover all of the festival news that is relevant for this post. Here’s more!

SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST IS BACK ON (Sort of)

SXSW Conference & Festivals | March 13-22, 2020

One of the benefits of a large gathering like South by Southwest is the ability to mix the intention of interacting with other people, networking, while also putting the idea of entertainment into the mix. In fact, I was going to go to South by Southwest this year, but unfortunately, it got canceled the week I was supposed to depart. I also highly detest the recent actions of South by Southwest, because even though they are allowing people to move their purchased tickets to an alternate date in an upcoming year (which my mother did do for 2021), there is no option for a refund. While I am all for making money, SXSW is the kind of organization to me that purely resembles greed. In fact, they didn’t even cancel their event, the city of Austin did!  However, they do seem to be somewhat sympathetic to their vendors. According to various sources, Amazon Prime Video is going to be digitally showcasing various projects that were supposed to play at the festival last month. All the people behind the projects need to present a fee in order to let their work shine. Keep in mind that the revealing of work that was supposed to be presented in person in front of the masses on Prime is optional, so if you were expecting to see something in particular at the festival, maybe it won’t make it to Amazon’s service. Also keep in mind, if you are planning seeing on these pieces of work, you do not need to pay for Amazon Prime, but you do need an Amazon account. As long as you have that, you’re good to go.

VENICE FILM FESTIVAL DENIES GOING DIGITAL

Last year, the Venice Film Festival honored Todd Phillips’ “Joker” with the Golden Lion, which is the festival’s highest honor. This year, there is perhaps some wonder if it would be a joke to keep the festival running in September. Keep in mind that Italy has the second highest count of COVID-19 cases to date and who knows about a second wave and if that’s a possibility? However, according to Variety, a Venice spokesperson reported “The Venice Film Festival cannot be replaced by an online event.” This is in response to a recent interview between festival director Alberto Barbera and Italian news agency ANSA who said he is not weighing digital options. That by the way, is in response to what is happening with the Toronto International Film Festival, where there is consideration for both physical and digital aspects. At this point, it may be too early to tell given how the festival is about five months into the future. We’ll have to see if Italy is stable by then, and if there is enough reason to keep the festival on in person.

DELAYED MOVIES AND NEW RELEASE DATES

Well, it appears that COVID-19 is doing its own stunts now. “Top Gun: Maverick” has officially been delayed, which honestly disappoints me because it was one of my most anticipated films of the summer. It looked like another one of those films, kind of like the recent “Mission: Impossible” movies, where Tom Cruise does everything he can to nearly kill himself. Instead, the film is now coming out in December, which really has me scared, because this puts my most anticipated film of the year, “Dune” in a tough position. While I have no real idea how much money “Dune” will make, this is giving me the creeps because while I cannot exactly anticipate how well of a marketing campaign “Dune” is going to have, if it weren’t for a nostalgic, somewhat recognizable property stepping in, I figured “Dune” would have a massive chance at succeeding. Plus, I recall early reports of one person suggesting that the footage that has already been seen of “Dune” is on the level that matches “Lord of the Rings” and “Star Wars.” Can the praise get any better than that?! The 2020 adaptation of “Dune” could arguably be the greatest story ever told if the movie matches this previous word of mouth! Although at the same time, I’ll mention it again, as far as this summer goes, “Top Gun: Maverick” is one of my most anticipated films. Don’t think I’m trying to take it out behind the barn and shoot it. If anything, I want the movie to succeed, but I also want “Dune” to succeed. Maybe this could be a case where “Dune” heavily succeeds, thus leaving “Top Gun: Maverick” in the dust, which would also be disappointing. It feels like there’s no winning in this case. Speaking of Paramount films, they are also delaying “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run,” the third “SpongeBob SquarePants” idea that will ultimately be brought to the big screen. The movie will follow the titular sponge as he goes on a quest with Patrick Star to find his missing snail, Gary. Also in Paramount movie news, “A Quiet Place Part II” has a new release date, specifically September 4th, giving it a Labor Day weekend slot. For the record, the movie has already been delayed as of March 12th from its original release date, March 20th, but has not received a new date until now. I am beyond thankful that “A Quiet Place Part II” is not considering the streaming route, because having seen the original installment, it is one of those movies that you have to be in the theater to truly feel its impact. At least that’s what I got with the first one. When I saw “A Quiet Place” a couple years back, it was a highlight in my movie experience journey because it was one of the few movies that FORCED me to be quiet to fully enjoy the product. I could barely chew my popcorn, I almost couldn’t even take as big of sips of my drink as I usually would, it was a one of a kind time at the movies. I’m willing to bet that John Krasinski made “A Quiet Place Part II” with the same thoughts in mind that he had for the first one. SILENCE THE AUDITORIUM AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. I’m looking forward to September, let’s just hope that there are enough reasons to go to the movies by then.

While “A Quiet Place Part II” is sticking to a theatrical release, one movie that I was kind of looking forward to seeing in theaters is no longer going to be there, and will end up heading straight to that tenth streaming service you guys have, Disney+. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about “Artemis Fowl.” For those of you who don’t know, “Artemis Fowl” is based on a book about a 12-year-old criminal mastermind who must find his father while facing underground fairies. I was kind of looking forward to seeing “Artemis Fowl” even though I have not read the book personally. The movie sort of looked like a visual trip, and if successful, could have spawned the next big fantasy franchise. I wonder if this is a sign that Disney may end up throwing in the towel on the franchise before it even starts. After all, the film was made on a $125 million budget, so I guess they were expecting a return of hundreds of millions. The real question is, could the film have broken even? Who knows? I have not heard much word of mouth about “Artemis Fowl” from anybody else, but the trailers do intrigue me. It at least had my attention.

Speaking of Disney+, one of the suggestions people happened to make is to release “Black Widow” early on the service. Quite honestly, I think that is a ridiculous idea that could cost Disney a lot of money, and it seems that we are sharing a thinking cap because Disney has officially pushed back the MCU timeline, and placed “Black Widow” on the November 6 release slot. When I say the MCU timeline, I mean it almost 100%. Every movie that is supposed to eventually come out in the MCU has been delayed except “Black Panther 2.” Even “Captain Marvel 2,” originally set to release in June 2022, is moving up a couple weeks for a new July 8th release during the year. For those who don’t know, “Eternals” was originally supposed to come out November of this year, but having two MCU films come out at once is a little extreme, so now it is coming out February 12th, 2021. At this point, November is looking like a respectable month for popular nerd culture. Between “Black Widow,” a movie that Marvel fans are FINALLY getting to see. “No Time to Die,” the 25th Bond film that is supposed to be Daniel Craig’s final outing as the character. Plus, “Godzilla vs. Kong,” which I am curious to hear more about. I think one of these is going to get bumped to a different release date to guarantee avoidance of being a box office bomb, because November is a pretty big month for movies, and even though there are blockbusters at the time, a lot of focus from those who are heavily invested is going to be leaning towards the Oscar bait films.

As far Disney’s live-action “Mulan” remake goes, that is now coming out on July 24th. Should it get delayed again, I think that is another film that Disney is going to keep in theaters with all their might, because part of the marketing emphasizes the big battles of the film, and those could be stellar to see on the silver screen. The one thing that I think will be diminished though is its IMAX run. Because unless Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” gets delayed and “Mulan” still comes out, “Tenet” is going to have a long run in many IMAX theaters. It was shot on IMAX cameras after all! “Mulan” now takes the place of theme park ride-inspired “Jungle Cruise,” starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, which has now been pushed back to July 30th, 2021. Another big pushback comes from the Lucasfilm side of things, specifically for “Indiana Jones 5,” which is kind of unfortunate because Harrison Ford ain’t getting any younger. At this point with a film like “Indiana Jones 5,” I will believe it when I see it.

Remember how Disney bought Fox? Guess what? Their slate is getting kicked in the ass too! Wes Anderson was supposed to come out with “The French Dispatch” on July 24th, but now it is being pushed back to October. This could be some good news for Wes Anderson as the director behind the film has a history of being acclaimed, and having a unique style to his films. This unique style can be reinserted into everyone’s heads and perhaps bring up a reason for this film to contend for awards. If this came out in the summer, maybe it would have as much of a chance, but keep in mind. Award season pretty much gets into full swing in the fall. Summer is mainly for blockbusters and popcorn movies. Those movies don’t usually rack up the Oscars.

Universal is also in the news, because they recently pushed back Illumination Entertainment’s “Minions: The Rise of Gru.” That film was supposed to come out July 3rd this year, but it has been pushed back to July 2nd of next year. In addition, “Sing 2,” which is a sequel to a well-liked film starring Matthew McConaughey as a mouse who runs a theater, is also getting pushed back. “Minions: The Rise of Gru” is currently sitting where “Sing 2” was originally going to be, but much like the situation I mentioned earlier with Marvel, it could be weird to have two of the same types of movies releasing at once. Therefore, “Sing 2” will be coming out December 22nd, 2021. Keep in mind, the film was supposed to come out this year in December, but was delayed to its previous July spot. Honestly, this delay is not that bad, because the original “Sing” came out in December 2016, and ended up being a hit for Illumination. Maybe this sequel will do the same. Speaking of keeping things in mind, Universal was making a movie based on the popular play “Wicked,” which was set to release in the current spot where “Sing 2” resides. Due to “Sing 2’s” recent pushback, it could be possible that “Wicked” will be out in 2022. By the way, not steering away from animated features, this week is interesting for film, because remember “Trolls: World Tour?” It’s in the middle of its marketing campaign and if you are a parent who wants to torture yourself in order to please your kids, it comes out digitally this Friday, April 10th. Advertisements have suggested that the movie will also be playing in theaters. But the real question is, what theater in the United States is still open at this point? When you are increasingly going to get shamed for not wearing a mask outside, what theater is open?

AMC MAY NOT SURVIVE

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Now I understand that there are more important things in life than film. There’s health, happiness, and safety. Unfortunately, the news makes me feel ill, unhappy, and like I’ll never ever be safe again. If you all know me, you’d be aware that my safe place in life is the movie theater, and one of my regular stops for my experiences happen to be AMC locations. It’s where I often go for my press screenings, as an excuse to use Stubs points, and on occasion, for Dolby and IMAX. Depending on where you live in the United States, there is a solid chance that you have at least one AMC location near you. In fact, I recently went to downtown Burbank, California and they have three locations within minutes of each other, and this is walking distance I’m talking about! Even though AMC technically is a large chain that owns a lot of theaters, they do a good job at giving a sense of prioritization on the moviegoing experience. In fact, in recent years, they’ve been expanding their fleet, renovating theaters, putting in new seats (which admittedly, sometimes underwhelmed me), implementing reserved seating options, and one of their most notable innovations to the American movie market was their Stubs A-List program, which is basically their response to MoviePass as it began to die down. They even have an On Demand service now! In fact, even though I am a physical media junkie, that is probably a place where I’ll consider renting a movie one night (as long as Sony Android TVs) can get it. AMC just recently used to be the biggest chain in North America, but has recently been dethroned since Europe’s Cineworld bought the Canadian chain Cineplex. Now that Cineworld owns both Cineplex and Regal Entertainment Group, they are now the largest theater chain in regards to the continent.

Having said that, AMC Theatres is a pretty big chain. But the bigger they are, the harder they fall. AMC Theatres has spent a lot of money on changes in recent years, recently laid off a ton of employees, and is currently in debt. To make matters worse, S&P Global has recently downgraded AMC Theatres to a CCC-. The association to insert here is “Default imminent, with little prospect for recovery.” Keep in mind, that if you live in the United States, that means if AMC Theatres closes down for good, you are likely to lose a country-wide total of over six hundred cinemas. Just a couple weeks ago, I was reminding people that the smaller, indie theaters might be in a bit of trouble right now. They’re making AMC look like RadioShack! In fact, one of the cool ideas I have been seeing recently is that theaters are doing pop-up sales, where they are selling popcorn to paying customers even though there are no movies going on. This has happened at a couple locations near my house, specifically the Somerville Theatre and Capitol Theatre, both of which are in Massachusetts and owned by Frame One Theatres. I don’t know if a chain like AMC would do that, because I think they are more concerned about protecting what they have by letting people go than continuing operations and getting mocked. But, again, if any theater wants to take up my suggestion on a popcorn or candy delivery service, be my guest! I’ll probably order from it twice a day just to provide some support. That, and I love my movie theater popcorn. It could be through the organization itself, maybe through Uber Eats, maybe Grubhub could be a good idea. After all, pretty much the only thing I can do in life right now is stay inside and put on a movie. I need decent popcorn to go with it! But sticking with the main idea, the loss of AMC, can bring a tremendously dark impact to the industry. Because that means no more Prime Theatres, no more specifically branded Dolby Cinema, and no more A-List. But also, keep in mind the large theater count the chain has and how much of a reduction this truly can provide. There will be significantly less places to go to watch a movie. If you’re lucky enough to have somewhere like a Regal or Cinemark nearby, then you’re probably in luck. I’ve got Showcase Cinemas. Even though I’ve been to their theaters a number of times, I really think they are overhyped and their setup is occasionally bonkers (although their Providence location might have my favorite IMAX theater). And I don’t know if another chain is going to swoop in and take all the AMC locations that could die as a result of this. AMC is not the only chain hurting here. For all I know, maybe one of the big toilet paper companies can come in and start something new. Come on in to “Angel Soft Theater!” Your ass is safe on both our toilets and our auditorium chairs!

One YouTuber I regularly watch goes by the name of John Campea (Collider Movie Talk, The John Campea Show) and he suggested that studios should step in and help AMC financially during this dire time. If the studios have enough money, this is a swell idea. After all, there is a strong bond between movie theaters and studios. One cannot essentially exist without the other. And given how studios are perhaps likely to lose money should they rely on digital sales for their films, they are probably well off giving some of what they have to a chain that has given them tons of strength over the years. I often make fun of how much money Disney has, but wouldn’t it be a great story if Disney gave some money to AMC? I’d dig it. Time will tell when it comes determining the fate of AMC Theatres, but that is largely going to depend on when this crisis diminishes or ends, if people are not too scared to go out into the masses again, and if movies are even going to release by the time this ends. Again, if “Tenet” is not in theaters this July, I think I can officially call it quits on this year for film. Because that news will break me. Pixar’s “Soul” hasn’t been delayed yet. Maybe that will come out in June. Again, it’s hard to tell at this point given how confusing this virus really is.

NEW RELEASES GOING ON DEMAND

I did do this last week, and to be honest, I don’t know if I’ll continue this trend, but given how On Demand is becoming more of a core element to the movie-viewing experience given the current situation, I figured I’d share some new releases that are out On Demand this week. First off is “Ip Man 4: The Finale.” I have not seen any of these movies, but one things that intrigues me is that it stars Donnie Yen, who has been brought to my attention in recent years. The actor is probably one of the more badass men I have seen in an action film as far as newer material goes. While I will declare that “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” is not exactly the “Citizen Kane” of action, Donnie Yen may have been the best part of the movie. Up next is “Like a Boss,” which came out in January. This does not look or feel like my type of movie, but I believe I almost went to a press screening for it. Not sure though. The film stars Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne, alongside Salma Hayek and it is about friends who are trying to start a beauty company. The film clocks in with a total of an hour and twenty-three minutes. Did the editor want to finish their job as soon as possible or something? By the way, for those of you who prefer buying the physical copy, both films are scheduled to come out on DVD and Blu-ray on April 21st. If you have Disney+, there is heavy promotion going on right now to get people to watch Pixar’s “Onward,” and if you have the service, it is now watchable any time you want.

Thanks for reading the third part of the ongoing series “Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes!” As long as this crisis is unfortunately still with us, this series is going to continue, and maybe even get me to delay my scheduled film reviews. Although, for all I know, my review of “My Spy” might not even come out until next year given how I would probably be shoved into an abyss by STX executives if I open my mouth about it right now. As for myself, I have not left my house in awhile, and I continue to remain healthy. If you want to use your time wisely, be sure to follow Scene Before either through an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Since we’re all online right now, why not take a break from learning how to use Zoom for a quick second and check out the Scene Before Facebook page! You won’t regret it! I want to know, is there any COVID-19 movie news that happens to be significant that I missed? What have you been doing during this crazy time? Any movies you want to recommend? TV shows maybe? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

How Scene Before Will Seemingly Adapt to Coronavirus Changes…

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! This is… Abnormal to say the least. Like, I never thought being an introvert would become as commonplace as it has today. I have never felt more numb than I do right now. Basically, the whole purpose behind Scene Before, which is to review the newest films for YOU, my viewers, has been diminished because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, or at least I think that will be the case. After all, I live in Massachusetts and this just came in earlier this week.

“Gatherings of over 25 people will be prohibited, including all community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based events, sporting events with spectators, concerts, conventions and any similar event or activity that brings together 25 or more people in a single room or a single space at the same time. This includes venues like fitness centers, private clubs and theaters.”

Now does this mean I can no longer go to the movie theater in my state? That is most likely. After all, I never recall seeing many auditoriums that can hold less than 25 people. I recall certain popular chains stating they will permit 250 people per auditorium or a 50% reduction per auditorium, but I think that is going to be voided now. I mean, if theaters stay open, I’ll consider going, but I also don’t want to become the “crazy movie freak of Massachusetts.” In fact, a lot of theaters around the country are already closed, because as I write this, Regal Entertainment Group, one of the largest North American chains, has shut down until further notice. In addition to that, AMC has done the same. So basically, the two big movie theater chains in my country are now avoiding service to moviegoing customers. Showcase Cinemas, another popular chain in the northeast shut down entirely. Nearby theaters catering to smaller and indie films like the Coolidge Corner Theatre and CinemaSalem have shut their doors until specific dates in April. Los Angeles has been ordered to shut down all of their theaters. LOS ANGELES! THE MOVIE CAPITAL OF THE UNIVERSE! The same goes with New York! Worst. Thing. Ever.

Speaking of tragic situations, I almost wonder if next year will have an Oscars ceremony. In fact, one of the major rules of the Academy Awards is that the movies participating for the award must have a 7 day theatrical release in Los Angeles. If they want this ceremony to fall through, they’ve GOT to make an exception for this year. Some theaters are still open, yes, but we are seeing a shift, at least for now, in increased home viewing. Basically, the whole world is going to continue watching Netflix and we all won’t be able to chill BECAUSE THIS IS THE ABSOLUTE WORST! I can’t chill! I can’t calm down! Who is writing our lives and why aren’t they fired?! Is it Stephen King? R.L. Stine? John Carpenter? Whoever the hell is writing this needs to be terminated immediately! Allow me to take their place and allow the entire universe to live happily ever after! Sometimes the predictable and happy ending is the best one!

I will say though, this does not mean I’ll STOP reviewing new releases. Because for all I know, there could be a Blu-ray, DVD, or digital release coming up for a movie previously shown in theaters that I missed. There’s not much from 2020 that is coming out that I have not seen or am interested in seeing, but one movie I missed, “Underwater,” is scheduled to release on DVD April 14th. I could probably go get it in person. After all, places like Target and Walmart are still likely to be open during these times (although worst case scenario I could buy it online), maybe I could buy it in a store if I feel the urge to.

Plus, one of the saving graces early on in this pandemic is Comcast, which I am utterly amazed by. A few years ago, I was talking s*it about their cable service. Having switched to Verizon, I felt instant relief. But recently, Comcast announced their commitment to providing free Internet to low-income customers for the next 30 days. I think that is a class act and a smart idea for these dark times. And given how people are less likely to head to the movie theater, Comcast distributors like Universal Pictures and Focus Features will be putting movies that are already out like “Emma” and “The Hunt” on VOD services as soon as possible for home viewers to enjoy without having to leave their couch. While this does discard the 90 day agreement where a cinema holds a movie for a period of time before it is officially allowed elsewhere, I think it is a smart decision. I don’t think it should be done for all movies, because there are a number of movies coming out that are absolutely enhanced through a communal experience that can be witnessed at a theater. While I am disappointed that “No Time to Die” got delayed, I am glad it is being shelved to November, when the world can HOPEFULLY unite as one community again. I was looking forward to “F9,” the upcoming “Fast & Furious” installment, but given the ongoing fears, it would make this movie lose a lot of its audience, thus losing its community. Also, when it comes to John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place Part II,” that was a movie that I wanted to see in a theater because the first one was easily one of the most unique experiences I have had while being surrounded by a group of people. I guess with all these delays, the theater is going to become “a quiet place.” Meanwhile, “Frozen 2” is getting an early release on Disney+, so if you have young girls, your place is going to become “the loud house.”

I think that some of these actions studios are taking are not only necessary, but simultaneously fulfilling, and some of them could help me, a guy who barely makes plans to leave his house, in the long run. Granted, I do hope this does not shatter the meaning of a communal experience at the movie theater, but I think I would be better off sharing thoughts related to such a topic another time. By the way, this suggests an idea I have in this case. Maybe I can fit in a series dedicated to the coronavirus, how it could *theoretically* impact the film industry, and maybe how it *is* impacting the film industry.

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But if you are loyal to this blog, you may be wondering if I have a concrete plan regarding the future of Scene Before and Flicknerd.com. The answer, yes and no. I have IDEAS, but there is no guarantee as to the absolute likelihood of every single part of my plan falling into place. But this is like how things have always been. I can plan ANYTHING on what my blog is going to entail, what posts I have coming soon, doesn’t make it a guarantee. The only guarantees I can make going forward is that I PLAN to continue making at least one post a week, hopefully within a cycle of every seven days and that I will have at least FOUR reviews coming within the next month or so. I still need to review “Emma,” “Onward,” “The Way Back,” and “Bloodshot.” These four movies will be reviewed at some point, and should things go according to plan, I will be reviewing each of these movies in the order of which I mentioned their names.

Now that I have mentioned that, I will also point out that I might plan on some movies that I haven’t given myself the chance to talk about. Now that a lot of big movies are getting pushed back, this prevents certain event-like experiences from happening. Maybe this period of nothingness will allow me to talk about films I don’t always get a chance to dive deep into into. I always wanted to do a four part “Revenge of the Nerds” review series, where I would talk about each of the films, this even includes the two that were made for television, in depth. Without talking much about the film critically, I have somewhat of a personal connection with the first “Revenge of the Nerds” installment, so reviewing it kind of feels somewhat overdue. If I had other series’ I could accomplish, I have all the “Underworld” installments, and I can review all the ones that I have not touched upon. I want to talk about “Star Wars” episodes I-VII, but at the same time, I want to save that for a special occasion. I’m putting that on the backburner for now. Maybe I could do a Pixar series since I have a number of those movies. The same goes with DreamWorks Animations. I also have a 4K boxset of the “Matrix” trilogy in my room sitting around. Part of me wants to unwrap it to see the films in 4K glory, and ultimately review them. Speaking of Keanu Reeves, while I did already review the second and third “John Wick” movies, I still need to talk about the first one. Maybe I could touch upon that! I also maybe could do films that are lacking in a franchise, allowing for more refreshing content that could stand on its own. It can either be a good reminder of standalone films that have come out over the years, maybe a PSA to those who have overlooked a particular title, or some other reason. For all I know I could be reviewing a movie that is beyond terrible and should never be watched for any reason. One other idea I had was to talk about some older movies. Thus far, the oldest film I have talked about in terms of reviews happens to be “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Maybe I could talk about some films older than that, maybe from the 1950s, 1940s, or even 1930s.

Speaking of reviews, one of the reviews I have waited LITERALLY FOREVER to put out is for STX’s “My Spy.” I cannot say anything about it, but what I can say about it is that it is going to have a difficult time getting into the public eye, as if it hasn’t had a hard time already. It already released in Australia in January, and in Britain just this past weekend. “My Spy” was supposed come out in August of last year, only to be delayed to the most recent weekend of this year. As we approached the release date of the movie, it just so happens that it managed to get pushed back AGAIN to April! Why? I doubt it has to with corona, and maybe it had more to do to with having less competition during the month. After all, now that “No Time to Die,” the latest Bond film has been pushed back to November, it opens up the opportunity for another spy film to swoop in its place. But I gotta be honest, I am not going to be shocked if the film gets pushed back again. However, I will also be disappointed. After all, I SAW THE FILM IN JANUARY AND I NEED SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT! I have not finished a review for “My Spy,” but I still have my points that I want to talk about. We’ll have to see what happens to this movie, but my gosh! How is STX still holding onto this thing? I’m kind of surprised they haven’t dumped it out of their schedule entirely and sold the rights to Netflix!

I want to say that this ongoing trend could lead me to providing you all with more trailer reviews, because I could easily watch them on a device I have access to. Unfortunately, given the way things are going, it seems I won’t even get to watch a trailer for anything. After all, if the movie industry itself is in a major shutdown, there will barely be any trailers to support those that are still coming out.

I could dive into the realm of countdowns. One of the things I have honestly considered doing at this time is adding more installments to the series “Top Movies of the 2010s.” I say that because I labeled it as a countdown event. If I wanted it to be event-like, why not have it go on for some time? I don’t really have many ideas for original countdowns at this point. Although I have previously been thinking, and I might want to do a countdown on my favorite “Star Wars” battles, specifically ones fought with lightsabers. I almost did it around the release of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” but that idea failed to see the light of day.

I was not going to originally reference this, but a friend of mine suggested that I should start reviewing TV shows from streaming services. First off, I am incredibly thankful for the idea. This gives me a TON of new material to work with. But that also brings in a problem. I don’t focus on TV in general. Yes, there has been the rare instance where I would do a random post on a TV show, but they would highlight something that stands out to me, or maybe it intertwines into movies. I appreciate the idea, but for now, Scene Before is not going to focus on television. Who knows? Maybe if this gets worse, maybe the government will insert a dome over the area most affected by the virus, isolating them from everyone else, and eventually attempt to blow the area up. Spoiler alert for those of you who have not seen “The Simpsons Movie.”

Now, one thing I should point out is that last month was the release of the 2nd Annual Jackoff Awards. Guess what? Even before the 2nd iteration of my personal film awards show, I started planning the 3rd. But with this new situation that could last forever, I am beginning to wonder if there will be a third. Because to do an award show like this, I need to see tons of movies, that way there is a variety of potential nominees. If I just have random movies that came out from January to March, it might not cut it. At this point, Best Picture would probably go to something like “Impractical Jokers: The Movie.” I want to be optimistic and say that I can probably start going to the theater again by May, June, July, but for all I know, this highly contagious disease could prosper and linger into our lives during 2021. If this affects me as a moviegoer, there’s a solid chance that I might have to cancel The 3rd Annual Jackoff Awards. Keep in mind that The Jackoffs are supposed to be a celebration of a year in film, and if I cannot celebrate a year, there is no point in doing it. And no, if 2021 turns around and I do The Jackoffs for that year in 2022, I ain’t including 2020’s films in it. It has to be a FULL year from January to December, NO EXCEPTIONS. I will say though that for maybe this one year, I might bend the rules to allow the presence of movies that were SUPPOSED to come out in theaters that were ultimately put out for home viewing because of COVID-19, but anything is possible when the world is hunting for hand sanitizer.

But in all seriousness, this is an ever-changing time. Not just for me. I am willing to experience it and live through it, even if that means shattering my brain wide open. I just tweeted this the other day, because the truth is, I love being by myself. Alone time is one of the things I value most. I rarely see friends, I don’t always make plans with others, I don’t socialize that often. But here’s what I said the other day. By the way, follow me on Twitter at @JackDrees if you haven’t done so already!

This really feels weird! Until COVID-19 hit, I felt like “that guy” who always wanted to be alone. And now the government, my country, and those around me, are forcing everyone to be alone. This is essentially a movie, I really hope they roll the f*cking credits soon, and I won’t be sticking around for any additional scenes! I’m done! This is anger! This is rage! THIS IS WHAT THE INTERNET IS ALL ABOUT!

Thanks for reading this post! These are simply ideas that I have going forward. I will continue to create material while I still have the opportunity, not to mention, the sanity. Nevertheless, here’s hoping your day is as cleansing as hand soap and nowhere near as crappy as toilet paper! My next post is hopefully going to be for my long overdue review of “Emma” directed by Autumn de Wilde. I will have my review up for that, along with other films that I managed to see while society was still doing things. Remember doing things? What time that was to be alive! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account, and DON’T WORRY! It’s free! I know it’s a dire time, but if you want some free material to gloss over whenever you have spare time, which is probably all the time now, give this blog a follow! Also, speaking of stalking the Scene Before blog, go over to Facebook and like the official Scene Before page! I want to know, what are some suggestions for material that you have for me as we elbow bump our way through the coronavirus? Or, what is a movie you recommend for isolation, or hanging away from everybody else? Leave your comments below, this can be great conversation starter for everybody tuning in! Who knows how long this is gonna go on? But holy crap, I need my head to stop spinning NOW. Scene Before is, and always will be, your click to the flicks, and your destination of all your movie needs during this apocalypse! Why couldn’t it have been zombies? Why this?!