Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank (2022): A Catastrophically Legendary Failure That Will Make You Hate Cats and Dogs

“Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank” is directed by Rob Minkoff (Stuart Little, The Lion King), Mark Koetsier (Kung Fu Panda, Big Hero 6), and Chris Bailey (X2: X-Men United, Kim Possible) and stars Michael Cera (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The LEGO Batman Movie), Ricky Gervais (Night at the Museum, The Office), Mel Brooks (Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs), George Takei (Star Trek, Kubo and the Two Strings), Aasif Mandvi (The Daily Show, The Brink), Gabriel Iglesias (Magic Mike, Space Jam: A New Legacy), Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of the Galaxy, Shazam!), Michelle Yeoh (Crazy Rich Asians, Everything Everywhere All at Once), and Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers, Pulp Fiction). This film centers around Hank, a dog who aspires to become a samurai. Once given the first glimmer of this goal, Hank is taken under the wing of Jimbo, a once great samurai, as he aspires to fulfill his destiny.

I am going to start off this review by stating something that may piss off some of my readers. I have never seen “Blazing Saddles.” I just have not had the time. In fact, as I started doing this review and refreshed myself through the cast on Wikipedia, I found out that this film is a loose adaptation of Mel Brooks’s well-known western comedy. To add to the similiarities, Mel Brooks even has a role in this film as The Shogun. I cannot confirm how many similarities and differences there are between this film and “Blazing Saddles.” Sure, there are some obvious ones I could make without having seen both films.

“Paws of Fury” is animated while “Blazing Saddles” is live-action. That’s the obvious difference. “Paws of Fury” is more focused on samurai whereas “Blazing Saddles” takes a more wild west approach with its story. In a way, this is almost a reversal of what “The Magnificent Seven” did as a redo of “Seven Samurai.” Because there is a solid chance that “The Magnificent Seven” would not be what it is if it were not for Akira Kurosawa’s creation. There is also a consensus that “Blazing Saddles” would not be made today due to the current climate and there being a greater strive to be politically correct in comedy. Obviously, this movie is mostly meant for families and children.

But children, mostly.

God help us all.

Some make the claim that “Blazing Saddles” is a movie that can not, and maybe should not be made today. They’re right. That is, if you are going to make it into something like this. “Paws of Fury” is the worst animation of the year.

I should not be too surprised that this movie is lacking in any and all luster. Because in my animation reviews, I often talk about Pixar as the gold standard on how you make an animated movie. Literally, this year, they released “Turning Red,” which slaps. And they followed that up with “Lightyear,” which is inferior by Pixar standards, but better than many movies could ever hope to be. They are a tough act to follow, but one thing that often separates Pixar from the competition is the studio’s ability to tell mature stories that do not rely heavily on cheap comedy gags that appear as if they were written for infants.

This movie is from Nickelodeon Studios. I have some nostalgia for Nickelodeon as “SpongeBob SquarePants” was my goto cartoon when I was younger. As I look back on the series, the early seasons had great writing, gutbusting comedy that ages like a fine wine. However, as we get through seasons 4, 5, 6, and so on, all of that trickles down. Every other joke is disposable, some character motivations and feelings come off as over the top, and they sometimes rely on sight gags that go too far. Similarly, this movie is no stranger to toilet humor. You want to know how much this movie relies on toilet humor? The main villain’s motivation literally involves the use of a super-sized toilet. I wish I were making this up. I’ll remind you, there is literally an animated movie called “FLUSHED AWAY,” which literally involves the use of toilets to further the plot, that takes itself more seriously than this when it comes to humor and writing. I think that toilet humor can be funny in doses and depending on the execution. As an adult, it is a bit hard to take it seriously however. Part of it is because it feels like the cop out of comedy. Fart noises can get a laugh, but fart-related jokes are so easy to write. All it takes is one noise. There’s very little effort involved. This movie tries to get creative with fart jokes by the end, but it did not change the fact that the whole concept of the joke felt lazy and forced. As much flack as they get, I think puns have more thought put into them than fart jokes. You might as well say that fart jokes can sometimes be… A pain in the butt.

I’ll see myself out. I have two working eyes.

Overall, “Paws of Fury” is very much that typical hero’s journey structure we’ve seen many times before. The potential hero is an unlikely one, but for whatever reason, the hero will do whatever he can to achieve his goals. On the surface, “Paws of Fury” feels like “Kung Fu Panda” if it were more samurai-based as opposed to martial arts-based. Except that “Kung Fu Panda,” while I remember it having maybe one joke that felt kiddy, did not treat its audience like morons. I already talked about the fart jokes, but this movie also has meta humor infused at times, part of which includes the notion that the flick “is only 85 minutes long.” I noticed over the years that there is a tendency amongst some people, and I include myself in this on occasion, to watch a film on the shorter side. It’s a time-saver, it helps with the attention span, and if you have extra time on your hands, it means you can possibly bang out a couple movies in a single Friday night. Given the frequency in which it appears, I am assuming that meta humor was always the intention from the film’s writers. But when I heard the “85 minutes long” joke, it only made me assume that the writers wanted to rush the project to its end. Like, okay, here’s a throwaway line! Let’s get to that pristine runtime!

This film has a stacked cast ranging from Michael Cera to Samuel L. Jackson to Ricky Gervais to even Michelle Yeoh. This film is not short on big names, and it’s almost as if they prioritized these names to get butts in seats over the story. Don’t get me wrong, just about every cast member plays their part to the best of their ability. Samuel L. Jackson does his best not to get in trouble with the parents who will be dragged by their kids to see this movie. Michael Cera is convincing enough to play a lanky dog hero who kind of sounds like a dork. Ricky Gervais does his best channeling his inner annoyed Golden Globes host personality as Ika Chu, a feline who wants to rid of a nearby impoverished town. Overall, the cast does their best with the stiff and sometimes lazy writing. But it does not change the fact that they are in a movie whose characters are mostly given stiff and sometimes lazy writing. This movie is not offensive, but it is almost uninspired. It feels crazy to say because it has an awesome opening sequence that had joyful Saturday morning cartoon vibes. After that, it’s all downhill. It goes to show that even when you have the competent direction and animation, it is not enough to hide a terrible script.

The one positive I can give this film is that it somewhat reminded me of something I learned in school. It may as well be the film’s takeaway for its younger viewers. There are films out there that unveil unlikely heroes, and this one is no exception. It’s the whole expect the unexpected cliché, but there was a scene that reminded me of a picture where a bunch of animals are given an examination to “climb that tree.” Of course, the monkey is the only one in the group who seems enthused by this order. The penguin, the elephant, the fish, the seal, and the canine are noticeably more hesitant. This idea could be applied to the entire film because it is about a dog who is assigned to watch over a town of cats. The dog is also trained by a cat to become a samurai. This leads to a particular moment in the training montage where we literally see a climbing course. I won’t say much more, but this scene is executed in a way that reminded me of “climb that tree.” It goes to show that there is more than one way to teach or learn something. Although for everything else in the movie, it pales in comparison. The movie is not funny, some of the characters are occasionally annoying, and it is full of clichés that have been done better. Do not waste your time. I have seen other animated movies this year that are better than this one.

In the end, “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank” is certainly legendary. More specifically, a legendary failure. Will kids like this movie? Yes, they probably will. And fortunately, as far as kids movies go, this is better for them than “Tom & Jerry” given how the protagonist is probably a more positive influence on younger minds. But I found myself more annoyed by this movie than anything else. I do not have kids, just to be clear, but would I let my kid watch this movie? Maybe. But I might have to leave the room because I can only take so much. But at the same time, I would worry, because given the movie’s script, it might only dumb down my kid should they keep watching it. Maybe they will grow up with the film, but not watch it past say their teen years. I did not know going in that this was an adaptation of “Blazing Saddles,” but I do know that I am going to give “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank” a 3/10.

“Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank” is now playing in theatres everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed this review, I have another one coming soon! Be sure to stay tuned for my thoughts on “The Gray Man!” If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or a WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank?” What did you think about it? Or, did you see “Blazing Saddles?” What did you think about that? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (2021): I Want a Bodyguard Divorce

“The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” is directed by Patrick Hughes, who also directed this film’s predecessor, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard.” This film once again stars Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, Green Lantern), Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers, Pulp Fiction), Salma Hayek (Grown Ups, Sausage Party), and alongside them are actors including Frank Grillo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Purge: Anarchy), Richard E. Grant (Logan, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker), Antonio Banderas (Shrek 2, The Laundromat), and Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption, The Dark Knight). This film follows Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds), the bodyguard who helped protect Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) as he is told to take a break from bodyguarding. That break will have to wait however because Bryce and Kincaid are on another mission together where this time they have save Sonia (Salma Hayek), Darius’s wife, from danger.

I liked “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” when I first saw it. I missed it in the theaters, but I did get it on 4K Blu-ray for Christmas in 2017 and I did watch it a day or two afterwards. “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is nothing too special, it’s really kind of disposable, but if you want a fun action flick that can entertain you for a couple of hours, you cannot go wrong. I also really like the film’s use of the song “Black Betty.” I think that was a really fun scene. The film also had an extended shot that kind of reminded me of “Kingsman: The Secret Service” a little bit. Remember the scene from “Kingsman: The Secret Service” where Colin Firth basically annihilates an entire crowd of hate supporters in a church? Between story, music, and action, that scene was outright perfection. Now I am not saying the “one-shot” take in “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is as good as the one in “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” but it is still fun. But the biggest standout from “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is the chemistry between Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson. Their characters clearly hate each other, but it never feels off-putting. It adds to the fun of the movie. It was a fun little action film that apparently did well enough at the box office. And of course as pointed out with “Star Wars,” “Fast & Furious,” “The Simpsons,” and “The Bachelor,” you gotta make more of it! No matter how good it is! This is where “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” comes in.

When I think of the “big” studios that stand out the most today, I usually think of Disney (Star Wars, Marvel), Warner Bros. (DC, Harry Potter), and Universal (Despicable Me, Jurassic Park). These studios have staying power and tons of properties they continue to utilize until the end of time. Lionsgate almost had that chance with “Knives Out,” but they sold it to Netflix. They used to be a force in the market with “The Hunger Games” and since the studio was affiliated with Summit, they also did “Divergent.” So they were big for awhile in the young adult adaptation game. They had “Now You See Me,” which paused. “Gods of Egypt” never did too well. “Twilight” is over. Just wait until they remake that eventually. I feel like the one big franchise that Lionsgate has that is the perfect mix of financial success, critical acclaim, and staying power, is “John Wick.” In fact they are coming out with a fourth movie pretty soon. I feel like “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” even though it is directed by Patrick Hughes once again, is Lionsgate making it known that they want this to be a serious franchise. And honestly, if it does become as big as say “Fast & Furious,” they need to do much better. This film was NOT good.

The sad thing is, this film starts off fine. It’s a little absurd, but it’s fine. “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” starts off with of all things, an awards show for bodyguarding. The film continues as Michael Bryce goes to therapy as he is told to stop bodyguarding, and I’ll admit the scene ends with a couple lines that did get a laugh out of me. But as soon as the real action starts, where we see Ryan Reynolds and Salma Hayek in the middle of a fast-paced bike chase, the movie switches its goofiness into high gear. One of the first lines from Samuel L. Jackson’s character and how it is handled is something that I think could be taken in a couple manners. It’s either so goofy that it’s funny. Or, it is incredibly idiotic that the line was executed the way it was.

Apparently, Michael and Darius still hate each other, …I guess? So apparently they have not developed at all since the last movie. Just a reminder, Michael took a bullet for Darius in the last movie. And now apparently they still don’t like each other or barely show respect for each other. I don’t know! It feels forced! It feels like they’re just trying to copy the success of the first movie while lazily inserting something new. In fact there is a new subplot where apparently Darius and his wife, Sonia are trying to have a kid. Let’s just say that it barely adds anything to the movie until say the second half. There’s a point that feels as if Michael says something negative regarding this new reality almost forcibly just to keep said plot going along. It just feels so out of the blue. There are a lot of things that feel offish or out of the blue in this movie. I barely cared about the nearly one-dimensional characters who almost face no noticeable changes by the end. I barely cared about Antonio Banderas on the antagonistic side. I barely cared about anything! The action is not even as good as the original. The bike chase scene was good, there was one moment where Reynolds wielded a pool cue that was pretty funny, but that’s about it. The action overall just did not have the same flair that the original movie gave. This is not to say “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” was a masterpiece, but compared to the sequel, it was a good time.

This movie honestly feels like it is on ADHD. One moment it is here, one moment it is there, the next moment it is everywhere! I am not fully against unpredictable movies that go in weird directions, that is what makes stories interesting, the fact that you don’t know where they’re going. This movie was fairly predictable, but the moments that occurred almost every other minute regardless of predictability just came flying in my face and it is was just too much to take in, especially the bad moments. At times, this movie feels like it could work better as an action-based Fox Animation Domination cartoon. It is so hyperactive and non-stop that it barely gives me a needed moment to breathe, even in parts that are supposedly meant to be slower.

I also really hate the ending, because they supposedly “resolve” an extended plot line in the film in the most off-putting way possible. It’s honestly just weird to think about. I almost want to say what exactly happens in this moment, but I can’t because it is literally the last moment of the movie and if I spoiled it, I might be a jerk. Unfortunately, “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” was a jerk to me in the process. You how I mentioned this movie can be predictable? Well, this was an out of left field, outlandish, unpredictable moment, but it is so unpredictable and batcrap crazy that thinking about it makes me want to throw up.

I’ll also add a positive before we go any further. The actors do a fine job with their performances. They are fine, but the sad thing is that the writing is just plain bad. It feels like they just whipped up this sequel in an hour! Apparently, this film was written by three people, including the sole writer of the original film, Tom O’Connor. I was not behind the scenes and I do not know any of these people personally, but if they do a third movie, I wonder if they should just let Tom O’Connor do the work himself because he could arguably be the butter that is woven so perfectly onto the bread that is the “Hitman’s Bodyguard” franchise. But seriously, Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson are good actors, they play their parts well here. Although I will give extra praise to Salma Hayek, because judging by the title, she has a greater presence in this movie compared to the original, and she solidifies her presence from start to finish. I’ll also add, she seems to swear as much as, if not more than Samuel L. Jackson which says a lot as he is supposedly the guy who “single-handly ruined the word motherf*cker.”

In the end, “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” almost feels like it purely exists to make money. Now, just about every movie ever made exists for that reason, but I think that some do a better job at hiding that reason than others. This honestly just feels like a cash grab that exists to capitalize on something that quite honestly, even though the original movie was good, I did not think would become a franchise. Could “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” become say the next “Fast & Furious” or something close to it? Maybe. “Fast & Furious” had some off days too. I think “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” is one of my least favorite movies to this day. That franchise is still kickin’! “F9” literally comes out this week! I honestly at this point do not want to see a third movie in this franchise. Maybe I’ll warm up to it over time, but this kind of left a toxic taste in my mouth that is hard to eliminate. You know that phrase “sequels are not as good as the original”? Well, “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” is exhibit A. I’m going to give “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” a 3/10.

This movie kind of reminded me of “Venom” because this was a movie that the audience I was with seemed to be fairly invested in for the most part, I felt like a good number of the people in the room enjoyed the movie more than me. I just couldn’t connect with them. More power to them, but for me, I think “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” feels better at this point as a one-off. This sequel should not have happened. I like the actors, I wish them well in their future roles, but this was a bad day at the office.

“The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! Later this week I will be sharing a brand new review for the Pixar animated movie “Luca.” Also, tomorrow I will be going to see “F9: The Fast Saga,” so look forward to my review for that as well. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account, and be sure to like the Facebook page so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard?” What did you think about it? Or, what movie is better? Do you prefer “The Hitman’s Bodyguard?” Or do you prefer “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard?” Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005): My Favorite Star Wars Prequel Ever

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Before we begin, I just want to point out that today is May 25th, a very special day in “Star Wars” history. For those who are not in the loop, May 25th, 1977, is the premiere date of “Star Wars.” It was back in a time of cheaper movie tickets, film stock, and despecialized content. The rest is history. Happy 44th anniversary to the “Star Wars” franchise! We might as well celebrate the anniversary by honoring the “Star Wars” name and discussing a film in the franchise that has impacted me more and more as years pass. Yesterday I reviewed the first “Star Wars” movie I have watched in my life, now we review the second! Why did I watch “Episode III” before all the others? Well, I was at Blockbuster and they had a ton on the shelf, and I put it in a portable DVD set during a car ride on a family trip. Given my young age, I was unable to process what a good or bad movie is, so I just watched all the images wiz by and let it happen. But I did rent it over a couple more instances, eventually went to the Northshore Mall Sears to buy it on DVD, and I watched it quite a few more times over the years. And now it is time to talk about it today in my mini review series I’m calling… “7 DAYS OF STAR WARS!”

“Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” is directed by George Lucas and stars Hayden Christensen (Goosebumps, Shattered Glass), Ewan McGregor (Emma, Trainspotting), Natalie Portman (Leon the Professional, Mars Attacks!), Ian McDiarmid (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Dragonslayer), Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Unbreakable), Christopher Lee (Julius Caesar, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring), Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker (Time Bandits, Flash Gordon), and Frank Oz (The Muppet Movie, The Dark Crystal). This film is the second sequel of the “Star Wars” prequel trilogy and takes place three years into the Clone Wars. As Obi-Wan faces off against the sinister General Grievous, Anakin, now a Jedi Knight with a pregnant wife, is lured into a sinister dark plan to rule the galaxy.

In my previous “Star Wars” prequel reviews, a couple common things I have discussed include the “style over substance” mentality and how the characters in the films overall feel like a near afterthought. If I had to guess, George Lucas spent a long time thinking about how he could do a “Star Wars” prequel series from start to finish, but I feel like as the 1990s came along and visual effects were on the rise with movies like “Jurassic Park,” it felt as if the main reason why “The Phantom Menace” was made was because new technology existed. Now, I am one who occasionally watches movies for technological reasons. I think the trend of movies being shot with IMAX cameras has been one of the best things to happen to blockbusters in recent years. I also recently saw “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” at AMC’s Dolby Cinema. TWICE! IT’S AMAZING!

With “Revenge of the Sith,” this film did not feel like an exception, as it is a continuation of “Star Wars” utilizing lots of digital effects. But unlike “The Phantom Menace,” which already looks kind of dated during scenes like the big climactic battle on Naboo, “Revenge of the Sith” has a vast selection of visuals that still look believable to this day. There is not really a single effect I can think of that looks odd or out of place. Granted, some effects look more believable than others, after all this is a fantasy film, but nevertheless. I will also add that this film, in addition to being the best Skywalker saga prequel in terms of effects, is BY FAR the best prequel in terms of characterization. Anakin and Obi-Wan have solid chemistry from the very first flight sequence to the dramatic climax of the film. Christensen and McGregor have improved their performances from the last film, although I will admit that Christensen is still slightly robotic, and I really dig Anakin’s hair. It works for him.

Speaking of Anakin, I do want to talk his balance between the light and dark sides. To me, this is the highlight of the film, because it shows a man having a ton of thoughts invade his head at a time. One of the things I hated the most about the transition from the original trilogy to the prequel trilogy is the greater emphasis on space politics. Apparently we went from a fantasy adventure where a bunch of people try to restore the galaxy by journeying through the stars to dealing with debates over trade routes. Here, it is a tad more interesting partially because the movie deals with such a dramatic shift and it introduces some concepts that made the original trilogy have an intimidating presence in it. It was fascinating to see the rise of the galactic empire and what it took to get there. With Anakin in the mix, you have this man who said as a boy he would come back to his home planet and free the slaves, to straight up wanting power every other second. We see traces of this in “Attack of the Clones” where Anakin often complains about Obi-Wan putting him in his place and his desire to stop people from dying, which by the way is expanded in this film with a subplot involving Anakin and Padme’s love life. And yes, we will get to Darth Plagueis. But not yet.

The romance between Anakin and Padme in “Attack of the Clones” felt unbelievably forced, as I mentioned in my review, but in “Revenge of the Sith” I bought into it a little bit more. Maybe it is because the two characters grew up, matured a bit more. To be perfectly honest, Anakin feels WAY less creepy in this film compared to how he did in “Attack of the Clones,” which is part of why I think “Revenge of the Sith” is the best of the prequels in terms of representing him and a bunch of other characters as well.

I’m just glad this movie BARELY has Jar Jar in it. Thank the space lords!

I will say though, the plot line that was introduced in “Attack of the Clones,” the one that forbids Anakin and Padme from being together, also makes an appearance in “Revenge of the Sith,” but it feels like it is just here to remind the audience of what happened in the last movie with little to no expansion from there whatsoever.

Speaking of “Attack of the Clones,” one of my grievances with the film, and “The Phantom Menace” for that matter, is that we learn a lot of seemingly important things from people standing around and doing nothing except for having obviously expositional conversations. They’re either walking or standing around in hallways. It doesn’t always feel that eventful or intriguing. It lacks any sort of oomph that could possibly be delivered. But I would have to assume this is one of the disadvantages that comes with blue screens and digital environments. All these additions of fake environments make conversations ultimately feel less authentic and more played out for the sake of giving the audience information. The more I look back, physical characters feel more like animated blobs, which is not exactly a good thing. This is not to say that the digital effects in “Revenge of the Sith” are all bad. In fact, it is by far the best-looking “Star Wars” film in the prequel trilogy. I love the new worlds including Mustafar and Kashyyyk.

On the topic of Kashyyyk, I really like any moment we get to see that world because first off, we get to see Chewbacca, and who doesn’t love Chewbacca? But we get to see this really big Wookie army fighting off Battle Droids, which by itself is pretty badass. It has the same scale and polish that the climactic battle at the end of “Attack of the Clones” had if you ask me. One highlight for me, and to my surprise, we actually got this in “Return of the Jedi” as well, but I never really paid much attention to it when it happened, is hearing a wookie yell like Tarzan. I don’t know what it is, but it is just satisfying to say the least.

In case you missed the subtitle, “Revenge of the Sith” is easily my favorite of the “Star Wars” prequels, and I am including “Rogue One” in this conversation, despite how great that film is by itself. Part of this is because of the way they go about the Jedi and Sith side of things. This film EASILY has the best lightsaber duels in the franchise, which really says something because the one between Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon against Darth Maul was pretty sick to watch. I really enjoyed the duel where the Jedi try to arrest Palpatine, as goofy as it is to think about Palpatine being able to do a spinny thing and land carefully on the ground without breaking a leg. The music in that scene is great too, but I am very disappointed it is not on any of the official albums. The duel between Obi-Wan and Grievous is just plain great from seeing how Kenobi deals with a quad-lightsaber individual to Grievous being ridiculously over the top in the best possible way. And of all the “meme” scenes in this movie from “I have the high ground” to the youngling asking Anakin what is going to be done about all the Jedi being killed, this duel contains the one that I’ve been thinking about the most these days.

Perfection.

I want to have an exchange in real life like this. I just want to meet up with one of my friends and go “Hello there,” desperately hoping they respond with “General Kenobi!” There’s just something about this exchange and how soothing it is to the ears.

This “Hello there” line is literal perfection. Not only does Obi-Wan appear out of the blue making a grand entrance with a superhero landing, we get some dead air for a second, he could say anything, but sometimes the simplest exchange is always the best. “Hello there.” Now, McGregor saying that phrase alone is great, but the way he enunciates it is just spectacular. He sounds like he could be a tour guide on a safari or something. Maybe a receptionist. If I check into a hotel in London, I want someone with that voice to greet me. And of course, we get General Grievous being his over the top self. It’s just great. Almost cartoony, but in a likable way. What makes this even better, and I bet George Lucas wrote this specific line down on purpose, is that in the original “Star Wars,” the first line out of Kenobi ever is him saying “Hello there.” Only thing is instead of it coming out of Ewan McGregor’s mouth, it is being said by Alec Guinness. This is a little thing, but “Star Wars” has been ingrained in my mind for years that I have to point out the little things every now and then.

The first duel of the film where Anakin and Obi-Wan face off against Dooku is a crowd pleaser. Per usual, the music from John Williams is golden and the choreography is top notch. Plus, we get to see a hint of rising conflict amongst Anakin.

In another universe, there is a chance that this film has a nearly similar title to another one in the franchise that already exists. Specifically, “Return of the Jedi.” For those who are not in the know, “Return of the Jedi” was originally going to be called “Revenge of the Jedi,” but they changed the name at the last minute because Jedi do not typically seek revenge. After all, revenge is sometimes seen as a negative concept and one that may be deadly. As Mace Windu said in “Attack of the Clones,” Jedi are “keepers of the peace, not soldiers.” They are there to protect others, but killing is not the Jedi way. Now in “Revenge of the Sith,” we actually get to see a Jedi, Anakin specifically, let himself loose. One standout moment of the film for me is the moment where we see Anakin wield two lightsabers. Those two sabers being his own and Dooku’s, and he intricately places them near Dooku’s face. After being ordered by Palpatine to “kill him,” Anakin looks at Dooku with bewilderment, but he goes with it anyway. He instantly regrets his choice, but this is a great way to show that Anakin’s mind could easily be twisted. I think the buildup to these moments have been perfect because while Anakin swears on his life to protect others, he has also shown signs that he is 1: somewhat selfish, and 2: constantly lusting for power. He sometimes overreacts about how he is treated by Obi-Wan, he sliced Tusken Raiders out of rage after his mom died, and now this is just his latest release.

In fact, later on in the film, when we see Anakin’s appointment to the Jedi Council, I sort of felt his pain when being denied the rank of Master. Which by the way, that is amazing. I say so because this trilogy has been riddled with moments where I couldn’t give two craps about anything going on or the characters, so to see Anakin experience disappointment and have me gain a sense of sympathy for him is already an improvement over much of “The Phantom Menace.” This is all bad news for Anakin. But I’d argue there is great news for the viewers. Why? Because Anakin is forced to spy on Palpatine, which leads to the scene where we get to hear about Darth Plagueis the wise, arguably the only time I cared about midichlorians.

For those who have not seen this movie, this is not really a spoiler because it probably has less of an effect on the plot, although it does give an idea as to where things could be going. Anakin and Palpatine sit down next to each other, and at one point Palpatine asks Anakin if he’s heard of Darth Plagueis, to which Ani says no. Turns out, Darth Plagueis could use his power to influence midichlorians in order to create life. He could also simply put, save people from death. Now if you remember “Attack of the Clones,” when Anakin goes off on a rant in front of Padme, he mentions that he will learn how to stop people from dying. That was some great foreshadowing, because Anakin soon asks Palpatine, “Is it possible to learn this power?” Palpatine then responds, “Not from a Jedi.” This is perfect lore building. Not only does it expand on a foreshadowed comment, not only does it provide some cool backstory, but it even promises excitement in the future. Plus, Palpatine’s comment is kind of glorious to say the least because if anything, you would think the Jedi would be the ones to save people from death as that is kind of their purpose at times. But in a way, I could see why the dark side would use something like this. After all, part of the Jedi is selflessness, and there may be an argument to make that stopping people from dying could be personal, kind of like seeking revenge. This kind of makes the Anakin and Padme storyline very intriguing because from Anakin’s point of view, he hopes to save Padme’s life, but in reality, he may be going against his own morals. I will also add, this is one of the weird times where one of the better “Star Wars” moments throughout the franchise is just from two characters almost doing nothing except for sitting down and having a conversation. But if you like characters doing things, prepare for the climax.

The climax of “Revenge of the Sith” has my favorite action sequence in the entire franchise, not to mention one of my favorites in film history. The fight against Anakin and Obi-Wan is EASILY the most emotionally charging fight in the entire prequels. Everything has built up to this. Obi-Wan has a job to do where Anakin must be kept from causing any more havoc amongst the galaxy and even himself. I do not want to go into everything, but the choreography in this duel is legit. I feel like the Jedi at some point in their lives are trained to just show themselves off in front of everyone around them. Every lightsaber flick, move, and trick that is done in this duel is orgasmic to say the last. And speaking of epic, the music throughout the battle may be my favorite music in the entire franchise.

John Williams, as mentioned before, is a goddamn genius. I would not say so unless it were true. Towards the end of the battle, where Obi and Ani float on pieces of debris on the lava, there’s this gigantic chorus that lets themselves loose and they mean business. Everything about the music here, including the recently posted track, “Battle of the Heroes,” is perfect. It’s dark, brooding, massive, and much like “Duel of the Fates” in “The Phantom Menace,” “Battle of the Heroes” is perfect for many incidents of impending doom.

In the final moments of battle, there is a brief exchange between Ani and Obi that is honestly incredible as it shows how far their friendship has fallen.

Obi-Wan: I have failed you, Anakin. I have failed you.

Anakin Skywalker: I should have known the Jedi were plotting to take over!

Obi-Wan: Anakin, Chancellor Palpatine is evil!

Anakin Skywalker: From my point of view, the Jedi are evil!

Obi-Wan: Well, then you are lost!

Anakin Skywalker: [raises his lightsaber] This is the end for you, my master.

They say that Jedi mind tricks only work on the weak minded, but it is just fascinating to see what happens when a Sith takes control of a Jedi’s mind. How they can brainwash them essentially. Granted the Jedi started this whole thing too by not letting Anakin be a Master, but nevertheless. You know what’s also great? Simultaneously, we have ANOTHER amazing duel between Yoda and Palpatine! The buildup and action all the way to the end is exciting and thrilling. It also reuses “Duel of the Fates,” which I personally approve.

“Revenge of the Sith” easily tries harder than any other prequel to tell a great story. In fact, part of me imagines that George Lucas almost reluctantly went through the first two episodes hoping to get to the third one as quick as possible! Heck! It is the beginning of the end of the Jedi! It is the freaking Clone Wars! It is the origin story of Darth Vader! There is so much to like on paper when it comes to this film, and thankfully, the execution of this film is not terrible. The order 66 scene becomes more chilling with each watch! The lightsaber duels are off the hook! The space politics are SOMEHOW not boring! If I had to name any other noticeable flaws, it would be that some of the dialogue is sometimes cliché or corny, but it is not as bad as “Attack of the Clones.” There’s not much else that stands out. “Revenge of the Sith” is a special “Star Wars” movie for me because it is my favorite prequel and has what I consider to be some of the personal bests for the franchise. It has the best score. It has the best lightsaber duel. It has arguably one of the top lore expansions with Darth Plagueis. This is a film that I enjoyed in my childhood, but have become increasingly in love with after repeat viewings.

In the end, “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” is easily my favorite “Star Wars” prequel to date. I will be completely honest with you. I could easily take out Episodes I and II and be perfectly okay with keeping III. Story-wise, it is exciting. Visually, it is breathtaking. Musically, it is bonkers. Of all of Ewan McGregor’s performances as Obi-Wan, this is easily the best one. Although I want you to notice something. Occasionally I will call this film the best “Star Wars” prequel. But I should note, in my subtitle and earlier in this paragraph, note my choice of words. I use the word “favorite,” not best. Part of me would argue in terms of story and concept, “Rogue One” may be slightly better. Although I had to pick one to watch over and over due to replay value, the option would definitely be “Revenge of the Sith.” There is so much to love about it, and the fan in me wants to give it a 10/10, but given the numerous flaws I mentioned, I do not see myself doing that as a critic. So despite me loving this film SO MUCH, I will take a couple points off and give “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” an 8/10.

I think this is a somewhat fair grade. Of all the prequels, this is the only one where I did not feel even an inch of boredom, even in slower scenes that mainly just involve dialogue. The space politics, again, actually feel like they matter. Anakin’s balance between light and dark gets more hypnotizing by the minute. And unlike “The Phantom Menace” that occasionally looks like some of the effects come out of a cereal box nowadays, “Revenge of the Sith” still holds up in terms of presentation and CGI. Overall, I would EASILY recommend this movie, and despite not liking the other two Skywalker Saga prequels, this is something that I would recommend to people starting to get into “Star Wars.” The positives easily outweigh the negatives, which I have not been able to say for the prior two episodes. “Revenge of the Sith,” despite being a brooding movie about one man’s transition to darkness, is a bright spot in the “Star Wars” universe for me.

Thanks for reading this review! This concludes my reviews for the “Star Wars” prequels and now it is time to unleash my thoughts on the original trilogy! Tomorrow I will post my review for “Star Wars,” or “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” depending on which generation you’re in. Stay tuned, get excited, get ready! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or a WordPress account and like the Facebook page so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite “Star Wars” prequel? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002): A Revisit to My First Star Wars Movie

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Today I want to talk about one film in the “Star Wars” franchise that has meant a lot to me. My first ever introduction to the name “Star Wars,” that is aside from hearing about it from other people when I was in kindergarten. This also excludes a time I was over my cousin’s house, and he would be playing “LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game” on his Xbox. I do not know what episode he dove into first, but nevertheless. I also do not to leave out my memories having to do with a Millennium Falcon memory game at my grandparents house. That was something I often played in my younger years, but little did I know it was actually “Star Wars.” It was not too terribly long after that LEGO video game experience that I would go to the Sears at the Northshore Mall, which sadly does not exist anymore, and buy a widescreen DVD copy of “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.” I would watch the film every now and then, have almost no idea what was going on, but because there were grand things and lasersword fights going down, I was entertained. Granted, as time went on, I had a greater understanding of everything, but keep in mind, I was around the age of 6 and I was not the brightest bulb in the room. That DVD was one of the most replayed I’ve had through my childhood, and despite upgrading to the Blu-ray in 2014, I still own the DVD to this day.

Long story short, “Attack of the Clones” was my first “Star Wars” film. What do I think of the movie today? Find out in my second review in a miniseries I’m calling… 7 DAYS OF STAR WARS!

“Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones” is directed by George Lucas, who directed two “Star Wars” films prior to his 2002 outing. This film stars Hayden Christensen (Goosebumps, Higher Ground), Ewan McGregor (Emma, Trainspotting), Natalie Portman (Leon: The Professional, Mars Attacks!) Ian McDiarmid (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Dragonslayer), Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Shaft), Christopher Lee (Julius Caesar, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring), Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker (Time Bandits, Flash Gordon), and Frank Oz (The Muppet Movie, The Dark Crystal). This film is the first sequel in the prequel trilogy. Try saying that three times fast. This sequel takes place ten years after “The Phantom Menace.” Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi have grown to be well-connected partners, and speaking of partnership, Skywalker wants to be romantically involved with Senator Padme Amidala. Only problem, Jedi code suggests followers are forbidden to love. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan Kenobi attempts to discover more information regarding an assassination attempt on the recently mentioned senator. On his journey, he discovers a clone army.

Few franchises have defined not only my childhood, but pretty much my entire life like “Star Wars” has. It is a franchise that one can get attached to at any age for a variety of reasons. As I have said before, “Attack of the Clones” was my first “Star Wars” film and one of my initial forays into the franchise, so like the film or not, I admittedly owe much of my gratitude to “Attack of the Clones.” I grew up with the prequel trilogy, and as you may have seen in my review for “The Phantom Menace,” that does not necessarily mean that I am a fan or avid supporter of said trilogy. It just means that it sort of defined my life for a period of time. I am well aware that the prequels get a ton of hate from a multitude of fans, and I am not going to stop them from having an opinion, whether I agree with it or not. It is a situation like this that makes me wonder what life will be like in ten years. How will we remember Episodes VII through IX? Will they be looked at in the same way as the prequels? Maybe better? Worse? Who knows?

I just want to reiterate, as a kid, “Attack of the Clones” was one of my most rewatched “Star Wars” films. As an adult, it is an utter snoozefest. Boring. Dull. Uninteresting. You name it.

Fun fact, one of the reasons why I remember “Attack of the Clones” being one of my most rewatched “Star Wars” films as a child is because I went through a phase in fourth grade, or at least I think it was fourth grade, where I would fall asleep to it every night when I played it on the television. Out of all the “Star Wars” movies I could choose that could make me fall asleep, that was usually the one because there were a lot of slower parts, and at the time, it seemed to be one of the lighter installments in the franchise, specifically in the first hour. Why? Because maybe I should have realized this when I was younger, NOTHING HAPPENS!

My lord! I often complain about Jar Jar in “The Phantom Menace,” and thankfully he is toned down in “Attack of the Clones,” but at least there was enough insanity going on in that first prequel to suggest that stuff was actually going on. Every other scene in this film is people walking and talking with no conflict, exposition, or a boring ripoff of “Romeo & Juliet.” Look, if I were alive in the “Star Wars” universe, there is a chance I would want to take Padme out for dinner, even if it meant going against code, but it is nowhere near enough to make a good movie.

Much like “The Phantom Menace,” “Attack of the Clones” is yet another example of style over substance. Let me be fair, “Star Wars” is known for big pretty things. It has been since it first came out in 1977. But since George Lucas did “The Phantom Menace” in 1999, that’s pretty much been superior to characterization. It’s been put above good themes, good acting. Real human emotions. Now, do I think Hayden Christensen’s Anakin Skywalker is more likable than the one played by Jake Lloyd? Yes. But for the most part, when it comes to the performance, Skywalker feels like a robot. I know one of the complaints about Luke Skywalker’s character in the original trilogy according to some people is that he is kind of a downer, somewhat of a whiner if you will. But at the same time, Mark Hamill did a really good job at encapsulating any emotion that came his way. He was not just someone who could shoot a blaster or fly an X-wing like a boss. Hamill put a significant amount of effort into a genuinely fun and entertaining character.

I may talk about this film having tons of style and how much of an achievement this prequel trilogy has been for CGI, but this film proves once again, “Star Wars” on location will always have more depth than green screening. It allows for the film to feel more raw despite such a fantastical vibe. Although I must say one perk that did come from all the green screen filming is the fact that this film manages to have more otherworldly designs than in the original trilogy. As much as I prefer the rustic, dirty feel of the Tatooine sands in the original trilogy, I must say that Coruscant is pleasing to the eye. It has the look I would want out of a galactic city and getting to see more of it in this movie was one of the highlights.

Speaking of Coruscant, one of my favorite parts of the film, partially because it is one of the more action-packed sequences in what is actually a somewhat dull picture, is the chase between Obi-Wan and Anakin as they go after Zam, played by Leeana Walsman. The chase is not too long, not too short, it is just right. Plus there is so much that happens at once between Obi-Wan holding onto a drone ship for dear life, the two Jedi showing off in the air without a ship, Anakin being cocky in front of his master, and a solid mix of flying and running. Plus, there is a moment where Obi-Wan sits at a bar and let’s just say that it is one of the funnier moments of the prequel trilogy.

Elan Sleazebaggano: You wanna buy some death sticks?

Obi-Wan: [using a Jedi Mind Trick] You don’t want to sell me death sticks.

Elan Sleazebaggano: Uh, I don’t want to sell you death sticks.

Obi-Wan: You want to go home and rethink your life.

Elan Sleazebaggano: I want to go home and rethink my life.

Remember kids, hugs not drugs.

While this film’s “character moments” from what I gathered are relatively few and far between, one of the better parts of the movie is seeing Anakin lose his temper. Now this movie is from 2002, but I will try to be as secretive as possible because there are potentially people reading this who have not watched “Attack of the Clones.” Let’s just say that there are a few moments through dialogue and various actions where Anakin clearly needs a therapist. I won’t go into everything, but I feel like that these moments, regardless of how much they have helped or destroyed the movie quality-wise, because I will admit, watching this was slightly awkward at times, perhaps effectively showed Anakin’s darker traits. Take Yoda’s dialogue in “The Phantom Menace” where fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering. There is one scene where this partially culminates through Anakin’s words when he is on Tatooine with Padme. He is clearly depressed, and perhaps rightly so, but it is beyond difficult for him to control his emotions.

And you want to know why these character moments from Anakin stand out? Because they’re shoehorned into a lifeless, wooden film that barely has any semblance of emotion attached to it from the start! Every other performance in this film feels questionable to say the least. These actors do have talent, but there are moments were the actors sort of feel like they are not saying lines and instead reading words off of a teleprompter. They say that actions speak louder than words, but in this film, there is sometimes little action, but too many words. The thing that works about the original, and I’ll also mention sequel trilogy is that every other conversation not only feels dramatic or real to a degree, but there seems to be a sense of conflict while each hint of dialogue is uttered. Something is happening, some impending doom or incident may be coming. But in the prequel trilogy, we have to settle for random casual talks in hallways or well put together rooms. It’s like walking into a nice Italian restaurant, ordering a presentable chicken parmesan, only to have it be delivered as a hologram. There’s something taken out of the experience of “Star Wars” through all of the blue screen work being done in the prequel trilogy and it is occasionally depressing to think about.

Although I must say, if “The Phantom Menace” did not showcase this already, the prequel trilogy does mean business when it comes to the lightsaber battles. The final fights of the film where the Jedi duke it out with Count Dooku are stylish and amazingly choreographed. Christopher Lee (RIP) shines as Dooku, trying to intimidate his foes by getting into their heads while his lightsaber tries to get into their skin. But the best part of Dooku, is not even Dooku himself, it’s Yoda.

“Attack of the Clones” came out theatrically when I was two years old, so I did not get to see it in the cinema, but boy oh boy, I would have KILLED to have been at one of the first shows when the duel from Yoda and Dooku happens, because DAMN that is some entertaining stuff! Seeing this fun-sized green creature who we previously knew as a wise figure turn into the tiniest badass in the galaxy is nothing short of glorious. It is a little awkward watching him jump around trying to keep up with Dooku, but he still manages to come off as perfection nevertheless.

One Jedi battle that was unfortunately, slightly more disappointing… Came prior to the final battle against Dooku, and that is the big Jedi fight in the arena where Anakin and Padme were supposed to die.

First off, I did not really feel that much emotion as these two were being dragged to their deaths, and their performances in these moments gave me no reason to feel anything whatsoever. But that’s not the main thing I wanted to discuss.

You know that conceptual saying about sequels regarding how “bigger is better?” Well, for this first sequel of the prequel trilogy, they did go pretty big. In the main saga, this movie contained the biggest Jedi battle yet. Yay! Was it cool to see so many people wielding lightsabers at a time? You betcha! But again, this just goes to show that this trilogy is more concerned about style than it is with substance. There are lots of Jedi! Lots of battle droids! Lots of creatures! But I do not care about nearly anybody in battle! I’m just watching it happen. It’s visually pleasing, but it does not mean I will remember it as one of the more iconic moments in “Star Wars” history. Yes, there are some cool moments like seeing C-3PO in a Battle Droid body and getting to see the connection between Boba and Jango Fett, but there is not much else to say except that the battle is big and it happens.

But seriously. C-3PO as a Battle Droid, the more I think about it, it is increasingly legit.

While that “death sticks” exchange was one of the best moments of the movie in terms of dialogue between characters, there are several contenders I would argue as qualifiers for the worst.

Padme: We used to come here for school retreat. We would swim to that island every day. I love the water. We used to lie out on the sand and let the sun dry us and try to guess the names of the birds singing.

Anakin: I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything is soft and smooth.

Padme: Ani? My goodness, you’ve grown.

Anakin: So have you, grown more beautiful… for a senator, I mean.

It’s almost like George Lucas got advice from the writers of “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation!” This is just bad!

But I think the worst part of the film as a concept… Remember midichlorians? Well, this may arguably be worse.

Jedi are not allowed to love.

So in a way, this film really is like “Romeo & Juliet,” except that “Romeo & Juliet” had a forbidden love that felt like it had a place in the narrative. This “Star Wars” prequel does bring a new concept to the universe, but it feels forced for the storyline and almost out of the blue! I would have liked to have known this in any of the prior episodes, because this is a storyline that feels as if it is dropped like a bomb. Not like the “I am your father” reveal where it was so amazingly shocking (maybe unless you knew what Vader meant), but more like the “midichlorians” reveal where it brings nothing but boring change.

You know how in my review for “The Phantom Menace,” I mentioned that despite an overwhelming amount of negatives, there actually are some positives sprinkled in between? One such positive I discussed during my review was John Williams’ score. Because for the most part, that is one thing that feels somewhat consistent between the original trilogy and the prequels that came before it. Although in the case of the prequels, Williams did not just go for a big nostalgia fest. He introduced a ton of new themes, and “Attack of the Clones” has a pretty amazing one, specifically the “love theme” known as “Across the Stars.”

One of my goals that I recently put on my imaginary bucket list is to see John Williams live in concert. The man is a goddamn genius and one of the reasons why I listen to more film scores when I’m alone compared to any other form of music. The music here solidifies my case because I consider “Attack of the Clones” to be one of the low caliber “Star Wars” installments. But I will not lie to you that I get chills listening to Across the Stars. But just like “The Phantom Menace,” I just want this movie to be actually as good as the music.

I will recommend “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones” for one reason above all else. If you really need sleep, this is about as effective as melatonin. Say you’re in the middle of a “Star Wars” marathon, you just finished watching “The Phantom Menace,” you need a nap, but you gotta be wise and finish the marathon by a deadline. Go to your bedroom if you are not there already, turn on “Attack of the Clones,” get under the covers of your bed, and shut your eyes! Just make sure your sleep is only a couple hours, because then you can put in the next movie. I assure you the early Anakin and Padme scenes will put ya right out.

In the end, “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones” is yet another attack on the “Star Wars” franchise. The “Star Wars” name is once again being destroyed by its own creator and I will also mention, it felt like George Lucas occasionally sleepwalked his way through this movie, because just like “The Phantom Menace,” there are signs that Lucas stood by his “poetry philosophy…”

I know people talk about “The Force Awakens” ripping off “A New Hope,” but at least it did so in an entertaining way. And yes, when I get to the “Episode VII” review, that is a topic I will be discussing. I’d almost argue that there are elements of “The Empire Strikes Back” that are translated into “Attack of the Clones” but it does not save the movie from being as boring as it is. Is there romance? Yes. Are we introduced to a “Fett” bounty hunter? Sure. Do hands get chopped off? Yeah. But poetry does not always equal art. Well executed ideas, which “Attack of the Clones” lacks throughout, are perhaps a greater measure of the word. To put it short, this was my first “Star Wars” movie, and now it is almost my worst “Star Wars” movie. It is sad, but true. I’m going to give “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones” a 4/10.

Thanks for reading this review! Tomorrow I will have my review up for “Episode III!” That’s right! Tomorrow I will be giving my thoughts on “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,” I cannot wait to continue this special week that I am FINALLY getting around to, after all this time! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account, and like the Facebook page if you want to stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you watch “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones?” What did you think about it? Or, did you ever read “Romeo & Juliet?” What are your thoughts? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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

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

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

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

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

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999): Worst For Chronologically First

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Today is May 23rd! Here’s hoping you are feeling the force today and every day! Today we are going to begin an all-new miniseries, 7 Days of Star Wars. We are going to talk about a “Star Wars” film for each day that we progress through this week. I have reviewed most of the core “Star Wars” movies such as a couple of the sequel trilogy installments and Disney spinoffs like “Rogue One.” However, this is a project I have waited to do for years. Partially because of time constraints, trying to find the right days to pull something like this off, and the typical human issue we all have, hesitancy towards actually sitting down and doing something. Some say they are gonna write a novel, but never actually get to the point of starting to write a novel. I am not saying that me doing “Star Wars” reviews is like me writing a novel, but I have been pondering over this idea since maybe 2016, perhaps 2017. I had a friend or two request me to talk about these films. Although I don’t usually take requests and I wondered how I wanted to go about doing something like this. That is why during my 5th anniversary of Scene Before, we are going big. 7 “Star Wars” movies. One new review per day. All for your entertainment. Ladies and gentlemen, it is time for the first entry of… 7 DAYS OF STAR WARS!

“Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” is directed by George Lucas (American Graffiti, THX 1138) and stars Liam Neeson (Schindler’s List, Michael Collins), Ewan McGregor (Emma, Trainspotting), Jake Lloyd (Jingle All the Way, The Pretender), Natalie Portman (Leon: The Professional, Mars Attacks!), Ian McDiarmid (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Dragonslayer), Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker (Time Bandits, Flash Gordon), Pernilla August (The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, The Serpent’s Way), and Frank Oz (The Dark Crystal, The Muppet Movie). This film tells the journey of two Jedi, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi Wan Kenobi, as they escape a hostile blockade and find themselves with a young boy on Tatooine. This young boy, Anakin Skywalker, is prophesized to bring balance to the force. Although the Sith, arch rivals of the Jedi, are desperate for a return to glory.

Wow. Can’t believe it took me this long, but here we go. “Star Wars Episode I” is an interesting film from the surface because as a kid, it is the one that I watched the least. I say that as someone who grew up with the prequels and not the originals. And it is not because I did not like the movie. I had little to no concept of what a “good” or “bad” movie was as a kid. I borrowed my cousin’s DVD at one point, I MAY have rented it from Blockbuster, and I am pretty sure that is the most exposure I had of the film as a kid except for when it aired on Spike. I owned all the live-action “Star Wars” movies as a kid, except for “The Phantom Menace.” I even owned “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” on DVD as a kid and I still never owned “The Phantom Menace.” I did not own “The Phantom Menace” until buying a used Blu-ray copy of The Prequel Trilogy at the Northshore Mall Newbury Comics.

I will be completely real with you about the “Star Wars” prequels. There are some genuinely good things about these movies. They are marvelous to look at. Then again, which “Star Wars” movie is not? While they may not be the goto standard these days in regards to visuals, they have been a major influence to CGI and digital effects. And even though they kind of harm the lore that was previously established in the original trilogy, they also introduce some new ideas to the universe that we have not been exposed to yet. We’ll definitely be talking about Darth Plagueis the Wise when we get to Episode III, but unfortunately we are talking about Episode I which I would consider to not just be the worst prequel, but perhaps arguably the worst “Star Wars” movie ever.

I was not joking in the subtitle when I said that the worst comes chronologically first. Because OH MY GOD, there is so much that is wrong with this movie. I don’t even know where to start. The movie admittedly starts off fine because one of the things that separates this trilogy from the original is the fact that this takes place in a time where Jedi were more likely to be found. They were in their prime, they were badass, and the opening scene of the film were we see Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan slice heads off battle droids solidifies that. “The Phantom Menace” is like the Bloomin’ Onion from Outback Steakhouse. Sure, having it is great, but if you think too much, it may ruin the experience of taking it all in.

The sad thing about “The Phantom Menace” is that when it comes to the characters, I can almost barely remember a single thing about them. Qui-Gon Jinn wields a green lightsaber, he does some cool stuff, he’s played by Liam Neeson, and that is about it. There is not much depth to his character that would really make me remember him or care about him. Say what you want about the recent sequel trilogy, one thing they did really well in those movies is build some semblance of backstory for Rey and Finn. The backstories for them may have been somewhat bumpy, but they’re backstories nevertheless. Here, George Lucas pretty much goes as far to say, “Well, they’re Jedi Knights. Watch them.” That ain’t enough, Georgie! Give me some backstory! I don’t care about Qui-Gon! I don’t care about Darth Maul! They do cool things in the movie, but it does not make them great characters. It just makes them eye candy! Heck! Jar Jar Binks, the literal joke of the film, has more of a backstory than Qui-Gon! At least a backstory that I can cite for someone who happens to be curious. Jar Jar is clumsy and is hated by his peers. Done.

Oh yeah, about Jar Jar being the joke of the film. All respect to Ahmed Best, I have no intention of harming him as a professional, but wow his character SUCKS. And I must admit, it takes the “Star Wars” name, which arguably is for kids and young adults, and instead makes it for toddlers. Jar Jar Binks is what happens when you let a toddler write a “Star Wars” movie with their dad. The father has all the civilized characters. Jedi, droids, hutts, royalty, and then you have the toddler come in with a character they thought of, and because the father has to be a good sport and avoid disappointing his son, he lets the newly established character into the script. It ultimately ruins the film and divides the tone from the point this character begins to appear. It’s like if you put Peter Griffin in the “Lord of the Rings” universe. Can you imagine how the secret meeting would go?

Aragorn: [to Frodo] If by my life or death I can protect you, I will. You have my sword…

Legolas: And you have my bow.

Gimli: And *my* axe.

Peter: You know what really grinds my gears? Eagles! They’re stupid! They stop flying before you actually get to your destination! And they made the Patriots lose a Super Bowl!

Frodo: For Pete’s sake…

Gimli: Shut up, you dwarf-brained imbecile.

Peter: Oh, sorry sorry. You have my Road House kicks.

Despite living in a world where I happen to be extremely tolerant of everyone regardless of who they are, Jar Jar Binks represents that barrier of tolerance I have for some people, and by that I mean, he crosses it significantly. Binks cements himself as the most annoying nuisance to ever exist in the “Star Wars” universe. There are some characters that have failures or downfalls in the “Star Wars” universe, or in many other stories by the way, who I continue to root for because I want to see them succeed after their recent blunder. Jar Jar Binks, the half-assed comic relief of this “film” is not one of them because he makes one mistake too many. They say that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. Well they also say you cannot teach Jar Jar Binks any tricks whatsoever. Old or new. Everything he does represents embarrassment or failure. I do not want to go into much detail, but this goes into the lack of dimension this character happens to have. I think Qui-Gon Jinn did a really good job at putting Jar Jar in his place as best he could.

Qui-Gon Jinn: The ability to speak does not make you intelligent. Now get out of here.

In fact, speaking of Qui-Gon, I want to go back to something I said earlier on. He’s a Jedi Knight, and we have gotten a sense of this throughout the entire film. Although we see throughout the film, Obi-Wan is considered to be Qui-Gon’s Padawan. Granted, he is rather skilled, but nevertheless. Here’s the problem, and it is a spoiler, so I do apologize in advance. At the end of the film, Obi-Wan is promoted from his role as a Padawan to a Jedi Knight.

Why is that a problem? Let’s look at the opening crawl of the movie.

“While the congress of the Republic endlessly debates this alarming chain of events, the Supreme Chancellor has secretly dispatched two Jedi Knights, the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy, to settle the conflict….”

Wait! Obi-Wan was a Jedi Knight this whole time? I think we have an imposter! Space security! Put this liar in jail!

This movie cannot even follow its own rules. I have tremendous respect for George Lucas as a filmmaker. He created one of the most iconic stories in not just film history, but the history of storytelling in general. I imagine he had a backstory planned for a number of elements in the franchise for years. But I feel like when it comes to bringing such a backstory to life, he could not take what was on paper and turn it into magic. And speaking of magic… That is LITERALLY gone in this movie and instead replaced with science.

F*cking. Science.

Now, I love science. Dinosaurs are awesome. Computers are amazing. Space is spectacular. But not all science is created equal. Some people consider “Star Wars” to be science fiction. And I would not say those people are wrong, but I’d also argue given how magical elements inserted into the franchise like the force and the fact that this film supposedly happened “a long time ago,” it is technically science fantasy. “The Phantom Menace” turns fantasy into a night terror with a simple question.

Anakin: “What are midichlorians?”

No seriously. WHAT THE EVER-LIVING CRAP ARE MIDICHLORIANS?! Well, according to Qui-Gon Jinn…

“Midi-chlorians are a microscopic life form that resides within all living cells.”

So you mean to tell me… That one can become a Jedi from being born with something? I actually hate this. Like, literally hate this. Hate is a strong word. But I think that is the best word I could possibly use here. In the 1977 “Star Wars,” seeing Luke Skywalker train to become a Jedi did not come off as if a gifted individual, and only a gifted individual, could use the force. At the time, he was just an ordinary boy with ordinary problems. He chose the path of the force not because he was special, but because he wanted to fulfill a destiny and live a life. Sure, Anakin had his problems too. He was a slave after all, but this movie goes to show how far the franchise has fallen. It has gone from choice and magic to prophecy and science. Yes, Anakin chooses to go on to become a Jedi, but again, I had less of a reason to root for him. While Luke had his grievances with being on Tatooine, he was still a somewhat likable character that came off as relatable. He was a dreamer. Anakin is just an annoying brat, and unfortunately, Jake Lloyd failed to sell me on the role. I don’t even know if I can blame Lloyd however, because for one thing, Lloyd was a child when filming “The Phantom Menace,” and at his age, he likely had less experience than Mark Hamill did when he started playing Luke. Hamill was in his twenties whereas Lloyd was not even a teenager when this film was made. But you know, it’s “Star Wars!” One of the most iconic names in film of all time! And you also have George Lucas! One of the most visionary creators of all time! At least “The Phantom Menace” had some good writing. Right?

Not really.

Queen Amidala : You’re a slave?

Anakin : I’m a person and my name is Anakin.

WOW! Thank you! For a second I was really confused and thought you were an armadillo! Thank you *so much* for clearing that up for me! Anakin, you’re the best!

Anakin, as a character, was just never set up well. Sure, there are increments of his backstory that bring some intrigue to the table, but the execution of the character feels sloppy at times, especially at the end of the film, part of which feels like was written by the same toddlerish mind who came up with Jar Jar Binks! There are some similarities between “The Phantom Menace” and the original “Star Wars.” Both involve Skywalkers. Both have R2-D2 and C-3PO. Both have climactic sequences involving spaceflight. Now about that last thing. In the original “Star Wars,” that last sequence felt planned and as if everything associated with it had a place and purpose. The climactic spaceflight sequence in “The Phantom Menace,” where Anakin goes into space in a ship on autopilot and flies to the control ship, feels like everything in it happens by accident or coincidence. Nothing feels like it matters, even though it leads to something big towards the end of the film. This is practically the Murphy’s Law of “Star Wars!” Nothing matters! Anything that can happen will happen! Let’s try spinning! That’s a good trick! Let’s try pod racing! That’s a GREAT trick! Maybe this would work as a Disney ride, but I can say that it does not work as a sequence in a film.

I will admit though, the pod race sequence was pretty fun. It might even be the best part of the movie. Well, except for one. We’ll get to it momentarily.

But about the pod-racing. This was one of the best set up sequences in the entire film. For starters, we are introduced to it when first seeing Anakin, and we get to know that in a way, it is important to him. His friends see his pod and doubt him. Qui-Gon makes a bet against Watto for the boy and proposes to put his hyperdrive part at risk. And we are warned of some of the dangers that lie ahead in a race like this. In a way, these dangers were met. When the race is on, it is on. We see pods flying, crashing, and there’s a good mix of brains and skill that goes into maintaining the pod, both on and off the track. I would love to see a “Star Wars” movie or series specifically dedicated to pod-racing. I know we have a video game, but I would love to see more of this on screen if possible. Then again, I love the concept of racing in general, so I may be a little biased. Basically, the best way I could describe the pod race in “The Phantom Menace” is if “Star Wars” had a baby with “Death Race.” It is fun, fast-paced, and occasionally off the rails.

Now about that best part… I mentioned in the beginning of the review that this movie did a really good job at solidifying the Jedi as people you do not want to mess with. At the end of the movie, when you have Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon going up against Darth Maul, the movie also does an equally impressive job at making the Sith a worthy opponent. Between his dual-blade lightsaber and his tendency to keep up the pace while dealing with more than one opponent, Maul is a boss in this film. Unfortunately though, the character, similar to Qui-Gon, has very little depth to him other than existing on the dark side and being sent in to capture Amidala while also finishing off the Jedi. This film does such a terrible job at establishing the threat despite having them look cool. Darth Maul has a double lightsaber, but not much else.

In “A New Hope,” we had Grand Moff Tarkin of all people. Grand Moff Tarkin was not much more than a guy who wore a uniform, but he had a sense of intimidation. He had a commanding presence, the entire room could bow down to him at any moment. Even Darth Vader would listen to his demands. Remember that scene where everyone is in the board room talking about the Death Star being the ultimate power in the universe? Someone mocks Vader for following the force, to which he chokes the naysayer and utters, “I find your lack of faith disturbing.” Tarkin then says, “Vader, release him!” He gives in. They say actions speak louder than words. But when I remember the double lightsaber-wielding badass as LESS of a threat than the guy who walks around saying things like “You may fire when ready,” that says something about these two films. Maybe it is not the best comparison, because Tarkin did take control of a planet-killing machine whereas Darth Maul does a bunch of Sith tricks. But again, it goes to show that when it comes to “The Phantom Menace,” the villains just do not strike any fear. They do not make me feel afraid or like I’m going to see them in my nightmares. When it comes to the kickstarters of their respective trilogies, “The Phantom Menace” is eye candy, but “Star Wars” is candy you can eat.

But I’d argue that BOTH films are ear candy, partially because of the musical mastermind known as John Williams. When I saw the last few “Star Wars” movies for the first time at the theater, I would have a playlist set up to blast in the car or on the bus with my headphones on. When doing so, I would make it a priority to put Episode I’s “Duel of the Fates,” arguably in my top 3 or 5 “Star Wars” tracks ever, which SAYS something about the music in this franchise, on the list.

To call this track bonkers and exciting would be an understatement. If “The Phantom Menace” did one thing right, it is getting John Williams to add his musical touch to another portion of the “Star Wars” universe. Williams is just a small fraction of what made those original films so memorable from his opening crawl music that may be the most iconic intro music ever made, to his theme for Princess Leia, to the Imperial March. Again, if these films did something right, it is getting one of the best film composers to ever exist to return and unleash more of his creative juices. And if this film reveals anything, he did not run out of steam after “Return of the Jedi.” If anything, he dialed up his creative meter to an 11. You’ll get this idea as we go along, but even though I have an easily obtainable idea of what my favorite “Star Wars” film is, not to mention what my least favorite “Star Wars” film is, I have a ton of trouble deciding which score, at least in the Skywalker Saga, is my favorite, because Williams smashes it with each go. That is part of why I love the final lightsaber duel so much with the two Jedi against Darth Maul in addition to all the crazy choreography that comes with it. This music is a perfect encapsulation of the future hanging in the balance for almost any scenario imaginable. It can take even an event as boring as watching paint dry and make it exciting. This is the power of John Williams. This is why he has built such an amazing library of “Star Wars” music. The maestro just doesn’t shy away from giving it his all.

I just wish this movie were as good as the music.

“The Phantom Menace” kind of reminds me of “Justice League.” The 2017 version, not the Snyder Cut. Because in that film, the tone was all over the place. One moment it is as light as a feather. The next moment it is moody. It really doesn’t have an identity. In “The Phantom Menace,” we go from a space adventure with Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon to a live-action cartoon with Jar Jar to a political debate with Senator Palpatine and all the others that make this movie significantly dull at times (OH MY LORD THE POLITICS ARE A SNOOZE). The odd thing is, even though you could argue that “Star Wars” from 1977 had a target audience of 12 year olds, it was so enjoyable that anyone could watch it, pick up the message from the movie, and embrace it. “The Phantom Menace” almost doesn’t even have a singular tone that it could be defined by, therefore it almost cannot dedicate itself to a single audience. I just look back at this film and ask… Who is this for? It’s got explosions and sword fights! So maybe it’s for younger kids and teenagers! But it’s got space politics! So is it for adults, actually? But then it has Jar Jar Binks and him repeatedly saying “Meesa” to the point where it splits my head open so I wondered if the film was for infants. “The Phantom Menace” goes in a lot of directions at once, but it’s like computer RAM. If you put in too much information, it can get overwhelming. Georgie! Close some tabs, will ya please?

In the end, “The Phantom Menace” is just a film that evokes the phrase “style over substance.” We start off with Jedi being badasses and end with said Jedi fighting a double blade lightsaber guy. Yes, this movie has a story. It has a point A. It has a point B. Unfortunately, it comes with lore expansions that infuriate me the more I think about them. Midichlorians suck. End of story. The best comparison I can give about this movie is that I can imagine it as if it were a chicken nugget. “Star Wars: A New Hope” is like a good old chicken nugget that I get every now and then, I put it in my mouth, and it tastes delicious. I keep coming back for more. “The Phantom Menace” on the other hand, also represents that chicken nugget. But instead of enjoying its god-like taste, I just found out the revolting secret recipe. The force tastes savory, but seeing how it is conceived is best left to the imagination. “The Phantom Menace” adds one or two good things to the “Star Wars” franchise. But the negatives unfortunately outweigh the positives significantly. This film tarnishes the lore in the “Star Wars” universe that has been established in the original trilogy, adds new lore that is uninteresting, and focuses less on characterization and more on looking cool. And that says something because I honestly think there are quite a few digital effects in this film that aged rather poorly to this day. Will say though, if it means anything, Liam Neeson did his best with the material given to him, and Ewan McGregor did an alright job as Obi-Wan. Although he personally gets better in the next two films. Also, one last thing, Coruscant is a cool planet. That’s about it. That was a lot to talk about. I didn’t even talk about everything! I left out Mace Windu for crying out loud! I’m going to give “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” a 3/10.

This was a hard film to grade. The fan in me wants to give it a 1 because of how much it sullies the original trilogy. The part of my brain that likes looking at things on a screen wants the grade to be a little higher. Perhaps at least a 5 or 6. However there are one or two good things about the film that cannot be ignored. Unfortunately, again, these positives are kept to a minimum. But hey, at least Yoda had the right idea all along.

“Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

This was not my first time watching “The Phantom Menace,” but having seen it and remembering my horror stories, because I did watch it more than once in some recent years for varying reasons, I went in fearing the results. Then I got angry because of Jar Jar, which made me hate myself for putting in this movie and sitting through it. And of course, I suffered through the rest of it because I had to put out this review.

Thanks, Master Yoda! You really are wise!

One last thing. I think I did a pretty good job with my review for “The Phantom Menace,” but I’m gonna be real. There is someone out there in the land of YouTube that has arguably created a near perfect “Episode I” review. It is one of the most hilarious video reviews I have ever seen. If you want something fun to watch, take a gander RedLetterMedia’s review of “The Phantom Menace.” Part 1 of the video is posted below! Check it out!

Thanks for reading this review! That is one day of “Star Wars” down and we have six to go. TOMORROW, I will be sharing my review for “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.” The second “Star Wars” prequel and it is one that a few of my friends probably consider to actually be worse than “The Phantom Menace.” I won’t give my thoughts just yet. You’ll have to find out tomorrow on Scene Before! If you want to find out, make sure you are following Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account. Also be sure to check out the Facebook page and may the force be with you! I want to know, did you see “The Phantom Menace?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite “Star Wars” world, planet, or moon? For me, I’d have to pick Coruscant. I’m an urban guy so that pick is a goto for me. Although I do like the idea of Starkiller Base if that counts as a planet. Let me know your picks down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019): The Truth Is… I Am Spider-Man

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Well, I waited over two weeks, I finally get to say it. “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is directed by Jon Watts (Cop Car, The Onion News Network), who also was the director and one of the writers behind the preceding film in this franchise, “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” This film stars Tom Holland (The Lost City of Z, In the Heart of the Sea), Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Snakes on a Plane), Zendaya (The Greatest Showman, Shake It Up), Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother, Safe Haven), Jon Favreau (The Jungle Book, Chef), Jacob Batalon (Blood Fest, Every Day), Martin Starr (Silicon Valley, Knocked Up), J.B. Smoove (Uncle Drew, Hall Pass) with Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinny, Chaplin) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler, Stronger). This is the 23rd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the second Spider-Man film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the eighth big screen “Spider-Man” film of the 21st century. So much for originality! Yay! This film continues the adventures of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker in a post universe-wide snappening setting. As everyone adapts to a world that has changed forever, Peter Parker and his classmates are going on a field trip to Europe, only to run into chaos through unexpected encounters including Mysterio, and Nick Fury himself.

When it comes to Spider-Man, he is by far my favorite superhero of all time. Spider-Man is the perfect embodiment of your average teenager trying to live a normal life, but various struggles and obstacles beyond their control manage to get in their way. As for Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, my love for him is unbelievable. While I wasn’t the biggest fan of “Homecoming,” I really enjoyed him in other films including “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War.” If I had to a superhero to relate to more than any other, Spider-Man is definitely number one. This is a reason why I really enjoyed a movie like Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2,” because it emphasizes the internal conflict of what Peter wants vs. what he needs. That film by the way, is my favorite comic book flick of all time. And in some ways, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” sort of takes me back to the time frame of Sam Raimi’s films.

Mary Jane has a screen presence in this film that I personally did not expect.

This movie has the result of Sandman getting a makeover due to incoming tides.

Not to mention, the film is freaking awesome!

In fact, you know how “Avengers: Endgame” perhaps stands as the most anticipated film? Like, ever? As the release for “Endgame” got closer and closer, my hype levels increased. Can’t say that for “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” I saw the first trailer, thought it sucked, and while going into the film, I appreciated this film’s efforts to try reminding everyone of the effects of “Endgame,” I was still somewhat nervous. Then I came out of the film, got home, and made the following tweet.

For all I know, this could be due to just seeing the film, my opinion could change, but I felt a bigger impact through the smaller and slightly more individualistic story of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” than I did for perhaps what has been marketed as the biggest geekfest in history. But much like that giant nerdgasm-inducing experience, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is not perfect.

Much like “Avengers: Endgame,” “Spider-Man: Far From Home” suffers from minor pacing issues, but similar to “Endgame,” “Far From Home” has pacing issues which I can live with simply because of everything else that is happening. And this is not an issue in every sense of the word, but this movie has a lot of moments in its script that are incredibly convenient to what is happening on screen. But at the same time, I feel like that is one of the big improvements I can give to “Far From Home” when comparing it to “Homecoming.” Why? One of my biggest issues with “Homecoming” had to do with the script in a crapton of ways, one of which included the unbelievable amount of comedy inserted. And honestly, there was not a lot that landed. When it comes to Spidey’s quips and one-liners in “Homecoming,” they don’t feel as hysterical as they could be. I could tell that Tom Holland was trying his hardest with the material that may have sounded great on paper, but for one reason or another, the jokes just didn’t stick the landing for me. Here however, there seems to be a lot less comedy, and the bits of comedy they have in this film, when present, completely works. Because let’s face it, this movie is the first installment in the MCU that has to reflect on the past couple of “Avengers” flicks, which honestly would present the need for a slightly more serious script. Plus, Sony’s distributing this film instead of Disney. When the mouse is away, the spiders will play!

Also, while I keep talking about “Spider-Man: Homecoming” as if it happens to be the last “Spider-Man” film to be released, keep in mind that we just got “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” which many consider to be the best “Spider-Man” film to date. While I don’t know whether or not I enjoyed this film or “Spider-Verse” more, I can confirm that when I saw “Spider-Verse,” it was perhaps the biggest acid trip of a superhero film I have ever watched. Guess what? I might need to rethink that statement, and I won’t go into why, BUT LET ME HAVE YOU KNOW THAT “SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME” IS ONE HELL OF A DRUG! If you drop acid before this movie, I wish you luck on getting out of the movie theater when the film ends because there are a couple of head-spinning moments that kind of left me speechless.

And you know something? Another shocker for this film to me is MJ, because when I saw her in “Homecoming,” I did not like her, I thought she some clowny individual who barely had a personality. This time there is depth to her, and even though I was nervous back in 2016 when they announced who was playing MJ, specifically Zendaya, she pulled it off in this movie! Mainly because she had a take on it that made the character her own. After all, her name isn’t really Mary Jane, it’s actually Michelle. If she was a redhead, I’d want the character a certain way. But I appreciate Zendaya’s take not only because her character was well written, not just because she did her part with excellence, but because it did not feel like the type of MJ I thought she would be, which would be a black person trying to playing the typical white Mary Jane, almost as if it were a s*itty impression. Zendaya has her individual flair which brought some pizzazz to the final product. Rock on! Granted, seeing her in the beginning of the film was a little sloppy, in fact, that’s not the only issue I have with the start of the film (there are a couple minor moments leaning towards cringe), but as it went on, I began to admire her.

And the surprises don’t even end there, because this time around I actually liked Ned! If you don’t remember my “Homecoming” review, this is what I said about Ned.

“One character in this movie goes by the name of Ned Leeds, he was played by Jacob Batalon, and there was a point in this movie where I wanted some sort of technology that existed which could allow me to jump into a movie’s universe. I could go into this one, find Ned, and give him the finger!”

You know what? Forget about that statement, f*ck it! Because in this movie, Ned is the opposite of annoying. In fact, he’s pretty charming at certain times. There’s this portion of the film dedicated to this relationship he has with this one girl, which honestly, had its ups and downs, but there are moments when I can approve of it.

Also, if anything, it reminded me of the Schmoopie relationship from “Seinfeld.”

And while I won’t dive too deep into this, another problem I had with “Homecoming” that somehow gets fixed here is my displeasure with the AI from that film. Remember Karen? I do. And I don’t like her. While she could have been charming in that film, she had a few quirks that did not sit well with me. Karen does not make a return here and I won’t go into detail, but there’s an AI here that is honestly charming, and even sets up an entertaining and thrilling sequence on a bus.

Moving onto our main character, Peter Parker is back and now the important question is this: What would be a bigger feat for him than going to space? Europe? That’s nothing! Any idiot can fly a plane to Europe! But nevertheless, Parker is vacationing in Europe, and now he has to deal with a side mission, which takes away from whatever relaxation he can get. This is why I really enjoy the character of Spider-Man, because other heroes, specifcally in the MCU, always seem to be built with this sort of drive to save the world. Granted, with an interpretation such as Tony Stark, maybe he’d get a little drained from it and prefer to lay low for awhile like he did in “Iron Man 3,” but there are not many moments where I have seen an MCU hero flat out refuse to do hero work. When the Avengers got together, just about everyone showed up. Thor always seemed to have a knack for defending Asgard with a hammer by his side. Captain America would always be willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good. But Spider-Man… Needs his alone time. While in some instances, I imagine this would make a hero look like a dick or a coward, it works for Peter Parker because he’s just a normal, likable, not to mention, relatable kid. He just wants a normal life despite various perks of being a superhero. In fact, Peter’s story and actions in this film kind of remind me of what is like to be me when I was younger. I had my crushes, perhaps constantly imagined plans to get together with said crushes, and if you know me, they did not work out, and I’m fine with that. By the way ladies, I’m single! Plus, Peter in this film has to deal with following in the footsteps of those above him, which is something that I did think about out sometimes when I was younger. Granted, probably not a lot, but the thought definitely did come up in my head once or twice.

I also really liked Mysterio in this film, they managed to go in a direction with the character that I for one personally did not expect, and as for Jake Gyllenhaal, he was basically perfect casting for this role. I remember back in the day I wanted him to be the next Batman if Affleck were to leave. Granted, he’s not, but still. But even though I never imagined Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio, I cannot help but dig him. He did a really good job, and I love his costume! It’s amazing!

Now despite what the box office can make me think, there are still people out there who have yet to see “Avengers: Endgame.” But in “Endgame,” there is a lot that happens that leads to this film’s events. In fact, the beginning of this film is a tribute to a couple of major characters who have encountered a common barrier in “Endgame.” And this movie, while I won’t go into context, shows off perhaps the most heart-wrenching footage of the snappening I’ll ever see in my life. If you thought that collection of deaths on Wakanda was disturbing, I’ll remind you, the effects to me were personally diminished (although still slightly powerful) because going into “Infinity War,” I kinda knew we were going to see people die. Granted, I didn’t know who, how, or when, but I knew something was coming. What made it really disturbing is that it was just a bunch of innocent people going through their everyday lives. Granted, that was sort of already shown during “Infinity War’s” end credits, but this movie did it better because for all I know it was shot on somebody’s phone or some other everyday camera. It almost reminds me of the found footage movie “Cloverfield” the more I think about it, because in a way, I felt immersed into such a disturbing situation, not to mention from a rather shaky first person perspective.

In the end, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” can be summed up in one word. Fun. It has a vibe that is almost reminiscent of Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” films while also managing to be a product of its own. The movie, in more ways than one, made me feel young again. I talked to death about the relatable teen year experiences this film provided, but I grew up watching Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” films and in some ways, this film managed to take me back to when I was somewhere between 6 to 14 years old. “Spider-Man 2” still stands as my favorite comic book movie ever, but I cannot deny that this is definitely another solid second “Spider-Man” movie. As I was writing this review, I’ve been having a constant debate in my head on whether or not this is better than “Spider-Verse,” and this debate is far from over. I’m willing to bet that this won’t end for awhile. I’d probably have to rewatch both films to know for sure. But if I had to make my thoughts on this film as finalized as possible, I’d say that unlike “Spider-Verse,” I felt that “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” while just as entertaining, if not more, had a greater quantity of issues that stood out to me. So with that being said, “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” despite “Endgame” being a more conclusive chapter to the entire three phase saga of the MCU, is a damn fine way for Marvel to cap off their third phase. I’m going to give “Spider-Man: Far From Home” a high 8/10. I love the constant joke about how we are getting too many “Spider-Man” movies or movies that have Spidey in them. Well, if we’re getting films that are this good, why should they stop making them? I’ll wait for the next “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” and then we’ll revisit this topic later. And I also will say, I almost forgot to consider this about “Spider-Verse,” it basically was a game-changer for the comic book genre in cinema. The animation style was unlike anything I have seen on the big screen up until that point. How many live-action “Spider-Man” films do we have right now? I don’t care about real numbers at this point. Let’s just go with umpteen because it sounds kind of fun. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that next Monday, July 22nd, will be the release date for my final Quentin Tarantino review series installment, specifically, “The Hateful Eight.” I’ll be reviewing this film just in time for Tarantino’s new film coming out next week, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Stay tuned!

Also, if you love “Spider-Man” like I do, or if you simply want to know more of my thoughts on the “Spider-Man” movies, I posted a review for every big screen “Spider-Man” film since the original Sam Raimi flick from 2002. If you want to check these out, click the links down below! Be sure to follow Scene Before through a WordPress account or email so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, I have a Facebook page, if you could do me a favor and give it a like or follow it would be very much appreciated! I want to know, did you see “Spider-Man: Far From Home?” What did you think about it? Or, as painful of a reminder as it may be, this is the first MCU film without a Stan Lee cameo. RIP, by the way. So with that being said, what is your personal favorite Stan Lee cameo? If you ask me, I’d go with the one where he tries to get into Reed and Susan’s wedding in “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer,” Tony Stank from “Captain America: Civil War,” the bus driving scene from “Avengers: Infinity War,” or even though it’s not Marvel, “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies,” which basically takes the Stan Lee cameo and manages fetishize it to the core. Nevertheless, let me know your pick, that way your name will make a random appearance as a cameo in this post! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Spider-Man (2002)

Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Spider-Man 3 (2007)

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Django Unchained (2012): Now You Have My Attention, Tarantino

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Before we begin this post, I want to announce that I officially purchased my opening night tickets for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” which is the latest film from director Quentin Tarantino. I’m going to see the movie in 35mm and I will likely have my review up by the end of the opening weekend. But since that movie is not out yet, I am going to be tackling a couple more Tarantino films from the past including one of the latest additions to the director’s library, “Django Unchained.” I sat down last week, watched the film for the first time, and let me just say, any movie that has Robert Carradine (King of the Nerds, Revenge of the Nerds), chances are I will have some interest in checking out. Without further ado, let’s start the review!

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“Django Unchained” is directed by Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction) and stars Jamie Foxx (Ray, Collateral), Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds, The Green Hornet), Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic, Inception), Kerry Washington (Scandal, Save the Last Dance), Samuel L. Jackson (The Avengers, Snakes on a Plane), Walton Goggins (Justified, The Shield), Dennis Christopher (Breaking Away, It), James Remar (2 Fast 2 Furious, Sex and the City), Michael Parks (Red State, Planet Terror), and Don Johnson (Miami Vice, Nash Bridges). This film involves a dynamic duo, specifically a freed slave and German bounty hunter. The freed slave’s main purpose throughout the film is trying to reunite with his wife. To do that, they have to travel to a plantation in Mississippi.

I was pretty excited to watch “Django Unchained” for a number of reasons. As of watching “Pulp Fiction” and reviewing it, I instantly had Tarantino fever. “Django Unchained” had a decent cast including Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio. Plus, while he does not play a major role, Robert Carradine, one of the members of the legendary Carradine acting family, is in this movie. While I may not be invested in said family, Carradine is personally one of my idols simply for being host of “King of the Nerds,” one of the only good reality shows to ever exist. I was pretty much set for whatever Tarantino was going to deliver.

I just want to remind everyone that in the name “Django,” the “D” is silent. But as for my thoughts on the film, I almost feel that in a world where praise can make noise, my praise for “Django Unchained” would be pretty freaking audible. That is not to say that it is as good as “Pulp Fiction,” there are a couple issues I have with “Django Unchained,” including one or two that could be used in comparison to “Pulp Fiction.”

When I watched “Pulp Fiction,” I had my eyes glued to the screen for pretty much the entire picture. Part of me wants to say that for “Django Unchained,” but I’d be lying if I didn’t go without saying that the pacing for “Django Unchained” occasionally becomes a hindrance. The thing that kept me looking at the screen for “Pulp Fiction” was the execution of the dialogue between characters, not to mention actions in between. “Django Unchained,” much like “Pulp Fiction,” is a movie that is very cool to look at. It feels exactly how I would want a western-style film to be. But there are one or two points where I am thinking to myself certain scenes can be executed in a slightly different way for the sake of shortening the runtime or some other reason. Who knows? Maybe it’s one of those things that I will learn to appreciate over a second watch, but it’s hard to tell. It’s not like I became angry with the ways certain scenes went down, in fact, there is one scene in particular past the halfway point that goes on for a long time, and the execution there is brilliant. And that’s the thing about Tarantino that I have come to appreciate over the past couple of films I watched. There are a lot of movies out there that I would criticize for having extended scenes that go on forever, with boring dialogue. There are particular long scenes in this that may have dialogue that some directors and writers could probably leave behind. Tarantino however, seems to be the master when it comes to shoehorning in useless scenes. It’s mind-boggling that I as an audience member could be witnessing a moment of the film that is borderline unneeded, but because of what is being said, it feels like a cherry on top of a sundae!

As for the characters in “Django Unchained,” all of them are well written. In fact, there are some cases where I refuse to call them characters and instead call them “A+ dialogue generators.” I really felt for Jamie Foxx’s character of Django at certain points, and there are times where I managed to find him pretty kick-ass. And such kick-assery is established from the very first scene, which is carried through the entire film with ease. And as far as his chemistry with Christoph Waltz goes, it is taken to the point where I cannot even imagine anybody else playing either of their characters.

By the way, I love this scene.

Amerigo Vessepi: What’s your name?

Django: Django.

Amerigo Vessepi: Can you spell it?

Django: D-J-A-N-G-O. The D is silent.

Amerigo Vessepi: I know.

I dunno, there’s something about that which just randomly screams, “Hey! I kick ass and take names!” And not only do I have to give credit for Jamie Foxx for the way he delivered that line, but I think top credit has to go to Quentin Tarantino, because I imagine he wanted this line specifically in the way which it happens to be presented here. Granted, it is also an Easter egg because this movie was inspired by the 1966 movie “Django,” starring the guy opposite this movie’s “Django” in the conversation above. Specifically, Franco Nero.

Although, even though I said I cannot imagine somebody playing someone else’s character, there’s one exception, but the reasoning for it is kinda crazy. When I read the cast on the Blu-ray case for this movie, I almost thought KERRY Washington said DENZEL Washington, so I cannot currently get him out of my head!

Speaking of things I cannot get out of my head, part of me really wants to see this movie turned into a video game. Why? Because this movie at times is unnecessarily violent, but it is all the better for it. There’s one shootout towards the end in particular that was a giant bloodbath. Said shootout contains a number of satisfying kills, and I would probably would need to rewatch this film, or maybe that scene in particular, but it could end up being in my top 20 favorite action scenes. And it does not take away from any emotion that I had towards the characters, because Django would get himself into a less than satisfying situation that made me admire the other side for how they executed their actions (stylistically), but I was still able to latch onto Django as a character.

I also gotta give credit to the costume and makeup department, especially with the transformation of Samuel L. Jackson. Because in this movie, he does not completely look like Samuel L. Jackson and instead looks more like the stereotype for a retired badass NBA basketball player. Per usual, Jackson is charismatic, plays a well written character, and at this point I’m pretty much repeating myself, I do not see anybody else playing his character. It’s amazing what a little grey hair can do to make a role more convincing.

In the end, “Django Unchained” is a fun ride, and kinda bonkers. Depending on the next movie I watch from Tarantino, he could become my favorite screenwriter of all time, and while this was not as good as “Pulp Fiction,” this manages to have the same Tarantino flair that movie had which I appreciate. This is not to say that “Django Unchained” is a ripoff, but it is just another reason why I happen to admire Tarantino’s directorial choices. He’s edgy, creative, and badass. “Django Unchained” solidifies itself as one of the best films of its year and when it comes to other violent films out there, this makes every other film look like it was made for children. “Django Unchained” kicks ass! I’m going to give “Django Unchained” a 9/10!

Thanks for reading this review! For those of you who want to know my next installment in the Tarantino review series, it is going to be his latest film, specifically 2015’s “The Hateful Eight.” I wanted to see this movie in theaters, but I never got around to it because of competition. Let’s face it, I ended up seeing “The Force Awakens” four times in a matter of two months. Nevertheless, I am very excited, I enjoy a good mystery every once in a while, so hopefully this will be good! As for new releases, I’m still trying my best to get myself to go see “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” I’m wondering if it is gonna be this year’s “Deadpool 2.” It’s a movie that I want to see, one that I am trying extra hard to get myself to see, but for one reason or another, I almost failed to get around to it. We’ll see what happens! Be sure to follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you ever watch “Django Unchained?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite unnecessarily violent film or scene from a film? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Pulp Fiction (1994): That Is a Tasty Movie

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! In just a matter of weeks, Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film, “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood” is being released in theaters, with select engagements in 35mm. But before that comes out, I wanted to look back at three previous films this cinematic powerhouse has helmed over the years. And to kick this series off, we are going to tackle one of Tarantino’s most popular and highly revered titles, “Pulp Fiction.” This flick first released in the mid 1990s and is one of his earliest attempts at creating a film. Much like his previous efforts such as “My Best Friend’s Birthday” and “Reservoir Dogs,” Tarantino also had personal credits for “Pulp Fiction” as both a writer and an actor. Without further ado, let’s start the–

*GUNSHOT*

*in Samuel L. Jackson’s voice* Motherf*–

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“Pulp Fiction” is directed by Quentin Tarantino and stars John Travolta (Grease, Welcome Back, Kotter), Uma Thurman (Batman & Robin, Gattaca), Samuel L. Jackson (Jurassic Park, The Avengers), Harvey Keitel (Taxi Driver, Thelma & Louise), Tim Roth (The Hit, The Cook), Amanda Plummer (The Fisher King, Needful Things), Maria de Medeiros (Midsummer Madness, April Captains), Ving Rhames (Mission: Impossible, Bringing Out the Dead), Eric Stoltz (Mask, St. Elsewhere), Rosanna Arquette (Desperately Seeking Susan, Nowhere To Run), Christopher Walken (A View to a Kill, Batman Returns), and Bruce Willis (Moonlighting, Die Hard). This film is partially inspired by unused scenes from the 1993 flick “True Romance,” also written by Quentin Tarantino. Without going into much detail, because to be completely honest, it’s hard to talk about the plot to a certain extent without spoiling, the film involves a bunch of different people who all have one thing in common: Deadly situations at hand. You have a couple of hitmen played by Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta, there’s a couple who wants to rob a restaurant, etc.

I went into “Pulp Fiction” with extreme expectations. After all, many would call this movie a masterpiece. Plus, prior to seeing the whole film on Blu-ray, my dad showed me clips on YouTube 5 years ago. From what I saw, I was rather impressed. In fact, as of publishing this review, this is the only Tarantino film I have watched from start to finish. I have seen part of one of the “Kill Bill” films when it was on Starz, but that’s not really saying much, isn’t it? I also saw the “Why do I have to be Mr. Pink?” clip from “Reservoir Dogs” five years ago.

And some may even argue that I saw a short film from Quentin Tarantino. I say so because “Family Guy” once did an episode presented in the style of three directors, with the first director being Tarantino. While he was never involved with the episode, the parody is there.

How was the film? Is it the masterpiece that just about every cinephile is making it out to be? Abso-f*ckinglutely. This is screenwriting at its finest! This is set design at its finest! This is actors’ chemistry at its finest!

In fact, I owe a serious apology to what I have said about John Travolta, because I think he has made some unwise choices throughout the century. “Gotti” was his most recent example. And while this was done last century, I now have an increased amount of respect that I can give to him as an actor. Also, Samuel L. Jackson has an incredible resume based on how much work he has been able to get over the years. Out of the millions of projects he has tackled in his career, this might as well be the one with his best performance yet. And part of that has to do with his traditional mannerisms where he yells and swears in a over the top fashion, but also due to what I’ll call “perfect dialogue.”

I cannot cite the screenplay of “Pulp Fiction” from start to finish, although based on how much I enjoyed this film, a mission like that would probably be on my bucket list. There are a lot of moments, either through spoken dialogue or visuals that feel like they would randomly play out in an everyday conversation, or at least I that’s the way I would desire these moments of dialogue to play out. Because there are no points in my life that I would discuss matters involving foot massages with others, but this movie makes me want to go to my local coffee shop or restaurant with someone I know just to talk about the most random topics. It doesn’t have to be foot massages. It could probably be about toenail clippings, maybe which brand of light bulb is the most reliable, which Target store is the best for shopping? There are a ton of moments where the movie is technically sticking to the main story, but it occasionally has diversions when it comes to spoken dialogue. And none of these diversions feel forced because each one is as entertaining as the next. Aside from the foot massage scene, we get a hypnotizing moment where one character wants to order a $5 milkshake, which plays out very well based on the chemistry between the two main characters in the scene, not to mention perhaps the sense of wanting to be a part of this world. Granted, that is a bit of an inaccurate statement, because I don’t want to get shot. I don’t want to get an overdose. I don’t want to be in much danger.

BUT LOOK AT THIS JAW-DROPPING SET!

Seriously, if Tarantino imagined this, he is automatically my favorite filmmaker of all time. This is a classy, American restaurant with a lively interior, but with some unique features, one of my favorites being the car table on the right! At the start of the scene, we see John Travolta and Uma Thurman sitting across from each other chatting and eating, and a part of me just felt immersed into this other-worldly atmosphere. It was almost like watching a “Star Wars” movie if it took place on Earth! It almost reminds me of this movie theater chain that’s primarily known in New Hampshire, I’ve gone several times, but I have not been in years. If you are in northern Massachusetts, or southern New Hampshire, or if you ever heard of Chunky’s, you’d know what I’m talking about. They have this concept that combines a movie theater with a restaurant, where you can sit in car chairs at long tables. I imagine this could exist in other parts of the world, but it is a concept that is close to home for me. They have some traditional American restaurant food like… burgers. OK… this movie made me hungry.

Between this Thurman/Travolta segment and the scene in the apartment from the start of the film, “Pulp Fiction” really makes me want to go out and grab a burger. Coincidentally, I live near Boston, which has a quick bite chain called “Tasty Burger,” whose name was partially inspired by Samuel L. Jackson’s tasting of the Big Kahuna burger from this movie.

“Mmm-mmmm. That is a tasty burger.” -Jules

Another highlight from Thurvolta, as I’ll call them in this review, is something I won’t dive too deep into, but there is a scene where Uma Thurman has an overdose. And let me just say, as those around her are trying to revive her, the execution of this process is nothing short of engaging and kinda brilliant. Again, I didn’t think this was going to happen based on the type of movie this is, I kinda felt like I was there. Luckily, I was not the one with the overdose, but a third party observer.

Last but not least, and WITHOUT SPOILERS of course, because this is one of those films you have to see before you die, let’s talk about the ending. Granted, over my years of experience of going to the cinema and watching films, I saw the direction this film was tending to go towards, but it does not mean that it is not awesome. It’s one of those endings that I feel like I will remember in my last moments. Between the atmosphere, the dialogue, and the mannerisms perhaps provided through Tarantino’s direction, it was like eating an entire birthday cake and realizing you lost a ton of weight the following morning. Again, there is not much I can say about it, because a lot of people who are young will probably read this, maybe they have yet to experience the film for one reason or another. This is a film that you have to watch before you die! TAKE MY WORD FOR IT!

In the end, what else can I say about “Pulp Fiction?” It’s creative, hypnotizing, and gritty to the freaking core. I have only seen one Tarantino film from start to finish, so I cannot really call him my favorite director. But depending on how I feel about the next two films I do in this series or “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” I would not be surprised if I ultimately rank the man in my top 5 directors, or screenwriters, of all time. The man isn’t too bad at acting either. I don’t know when I am going to watch “Pulp Fiction” again, but when I do, I am gonna be grinning like an idiot. Why? This thing is freaking phenomenal. Well done to everyone involved (maybe except Harvey Weinstein)! I’m going to give “Pulp Fiction” a 10/10!

Thanks for reading this review! For those who want to know, my next Tarantino review is going to be for the 2012 film “Django Unchained,” I will be posting my thoughts on that next Monday, July 15th, which will eventually be followed by one more Tarantino review on July 22nd, stay tuned for both of those. As for new releases, I am trying to go see “Spider-Man: Far From Home” as soon as possible, maybe I’ll go Tuesday, I dunno. But on Wednesday I will be going to see the movie “Stuber” as part of an advance screening. I was gonna go see this a couple weeks ago for a Regal Crown Club screening, but due to a mish-mash of reasons, I ended up bowing out. I am however going to do my best to make this one, because I am curious to see how this film turns out. Especially when you consider that this is one of the first Fox films released under their new Disney overlords. Be sure to stay tuned for that review, along with more great content! Also, be sure to follow Scene Before through WordPress or an email! Or, if you are on social media, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Pulp Fiction?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your personal favorite Samuel L. Jackson performance? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go grab a burger.

Scene Before 2019 HALFTIME REPORT (And Glance Into the Future)

WARNING: The following post is over 8,000 words long. Disappointingly, it’s not over 9,000.

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! 2019 is midway through and this year is going by fast! As far as my personal life goes, I’m in between my first and second year of college, I am enjoying my time off, and I’m the same movie reviewing moron as usual. Things have changed, but at the same time, I’m still the same flick nerd I have always been. And I mean that literally, but we’ll get to that later. However, I wanted to try something I haven’t done before on this blog. At the end of the year, I tend to do some reflective work, most notably countdowns. And while I am not going to do that at this current midway point, I would at least like to sit myself down and go over some recent highlights related to Scene Before. At the same time, I’d like to also look into the future. Admittedly, some of this is still in planning stages, but still.

I’d like to start off with something I’d like to call “TERRIFIC 3” and “TERRIBLE 3.” I am going to list 3 movies that I have watched this year that I would recommend to people and 3 other movies that I would tell people to avoid. Now, of course, these picks are subjective, if you think differently about these films than I, it might be slightly harder to talk to each other, but you are nevertheless entitled to your different thoughts. In fact, these are not supposed to be my top 3 best or worst of the year so far. If I like a film, I’ll list it, if I don’t like a film, I’ll also list it. These are not meant to be in any particular order. Anyway, let’s begin!

TERRIFIC 3!

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Starting off the Terrific 3 is “John Wick: Chapter 3!” I went to see this film in Dolby Cinema alongside my dad, who might be a bigger “John Wick” fan than anyone else I know. He and I walked out agreeing that the action in the film is absolutely top-notch. The action in “John Wick” films is certainly the aspect that would grab my attention more than any other. Long takes, innovative setpieces, gritty violence, all of it adds up to make some of my favorite action scenes of all time. When it comes to current action franchises, I am having some slight trouble deciding whether I prefer this or “Mission: Impossible.” It’s that good!

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Up next is a stellar DreamWorks animation whose franchise I never watched religiously, but always liked, “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.” If you have ever seen the game show “Deal or No Deal,” the show always highlights the phrase “timing is everything,” and when it comes to “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” that phrase becomes more relevant than ever. This movie came out in the middle of my second semester of college, and I could not help but feel like the people behind the movie were trying to consider me in its target audience. After all, while “How To Train Your Dragon” may be a franchise directed towards families and children, this growing adult could not help but feel like a kid again. In fact, to add more to this true masterpiece of an animated film, I became more emotional during this movie than I did during perhaps more than any other. Even more than “Toy Story 3.”

Last but not least for the Terrific 3 is a movie that I decided to list because it’s on a slightly different end of the spectrum. Because let’s face it, I’m kind of recommending movies to you, and why recommend “Avengers: Endgame” when almost everyone went to see it? So let’s recommend a smaller movie, such as Terry Gilliam’s “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.” Now some would argue that this is a 2018 flick, but in the United States, which is where I live, this didn’t come out until 2019. For those of you who don’t know this movie, “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” took decades to make, and it’s about a guy who reunites with someone he worked with during a production. This person he meets with is convinced that he is Don Quixote. This did not get that big of a release in theaters, but it is worth seeing just because of its history, because despite going through “development hell,” it managed to turn out quite well! The movie is now available on home video including various VOD options.

Now let’s move onto something that probably doesn’t deserve any attention, but because I believe in equality, we’re talking about it anyway, the Terrible 3!

TERRIBLE 3!

First up is a movie that I want to put on here because what’s the harm with having an unpopular opinion? Oh wait, everything. Who cares? One of the most successful movies of the year, “Captain Marvel,” just didn’t stick the landing for me. This had a lot of hype building up to it, but I personally just couldn’t relate. And when I saw the final product, I felt like… Wait, why’s everybody laughing and cheering? Yes, there are a couple of cool moments in the movie. For example, I dug the 90’s references such as Blockbuster Video and Dial-Up Internet. Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson have some good chemistry, but when it comes to Larson in general, her performance was kind of mediocre. Granted, I know grade-A acting isn’t the biggest component of a comic book movie, but Brie Larson, an Academy Award winner, felt more like she was in a couple straight to DVD films and that’s it. Granted, I think she did a slightly better job in “Avengers: Endgame,” but her performance here simply underwhelmed me. Plus, there’s a moment in this movie that references a significant part of the MCU lore (having to do with Samuel L. Jackson) and quite honestly, the way they go about it just killed my brain.

Up next is a movie that could have been great but was simply wasted. From the creators of NOT “Firefly” comes “Serenity.” “Serenity” could be somewhat fun, not to mention a great “thinker” movie, but it manages to become more boring the more I think about it. I love the movie “Interstellar,” so I was somewhat excited to see Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway unite once again for another project. Both have talent as actors and they’ve proven they have great chemistry. Honestly, I’d just go back to watching “Interstellar” if this is the movie we’re getting. Although this movie came out in January so it should not be surprising that we would get a movie of this quality.

And finally, we have what may be my worst movie of the year should nothing surpass it, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” The sad thing about “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is that I was actually desperately anticipating this movie. When I went to see it, I was ready for what was about to happen. Or was I? Seeing movies in IMAX may be great because it feels so big, but when they’re a big mess, what is the point? Maybe the monster fights could be fun, but if I wanted to watch this movie again, I’d probably have to be heavily drugged. Because let’s face it, as cool as big monsters are, the unforgivable part of “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” are the one-dimensional human characters. This could be slightly less intolerable if the human characters were less of a focal point during the movie, but they made me want to go back and check out some of the “Transformers” movies again! They’re THAT horrible!

I just showed you all my terrific and terrible picks, now let’s go over a few recent highlights from my blogging journey.

As usual, I kicked off my 2019 with my traditional countdowns to reflect on the year of 2018 in film. I went over the best of the year along with the worst of the year. Some of my top picks included “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “Eighth Grade,” and “Mission: Impossible: Fallout.” Some of my bottom picks included “The 15:17 To Paris,” “Uncle Drew,” and “Life of the Party.” I enjoy doing these countdowns every year and this is the first year that I started writing what I would put in the countdowns as early as August. I did not do this for every single movie, but I visualized the lists a long time prior to actually releasing them. This does not suggest that I avoided considering movies released past August, as evidenced by some of my picks.

After I did my lists, I saw my first 2019 release, which according to IMDb, is actually a 2017 release. Based on my experience and research, I’d call it a 2019 release, but still. That film by the way is “The Upside,” which is a remake of 2011’s “The Intouchables.” I personally have not seen “The Intouchables,” and while “The Upside” from my perspective is not really anything special when it comes to cinema, it is still a fun time. I went to see it at a press screening, and there were tons of laughs to be heard.

A couple weeks later I went to one of my local arthouse theatres to see a flick that I almost ended up passing on. Specifically, “Roma.” Why? Because when it comes to today’s media, Netflix is a company that I traditionally tend to avoid. But one of my local theaters managed to get access to a 70mm film print of “Roma,” which would be presented for a limited time. I took advantage of the opportunity and purchased a few tickets for a matinee show. Not only was the experience breathtaking, but the movie was one of the best of the past year. If I had to redo my top 10 lists of 2018, this would be on the best list, but I saw “Roma” after completing said lists.

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I also decided to try out a new concept this year which I have decided to make an annual tradition, the Jackoff Awards. For awhile, over the past year, I have grown to admire the Oscars based on how much respect they tend to pay towards the film industry. Granted, they’re not perfect, but what they’ve done over the years is absolutely intriguing. I thought to myself, why not do a big awards related post? Present similar categories to other major shows, I do my own comedy bits, and it was perhaps the most ambitious post I have ever done. As for Best Picture, I decided to present what was then my top 10 of 2018, which DID include “Roma,” and instead of having me choose Best Picture, I would allow my audience to choose the winner. I figured it would allow for diversity in terms of opinions, and I managed to get a surprisingly diverse number of votes. I got some votes for “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “First Man,” “Ready Player One,” but the winner turned out to be last year’s biggest comic book movie, “Avengers: Infinity War.” Honestly, if there were any movie to put in my Blu-ray player on a Friday night at this point, it would most certainly be that one.

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I then continued my journey in March by going to the place that I would associate with film more than any other, Los Angeles. My family and I stayed right near Hollywood Boulevard and I got to visit a few media-related sights including Warner Brothers Studios, the TCL Chinese Theatre (where I saw “Captain Marvel”), and Universal Studios Hollywood. I also got the chance to witness a live taping of “Conan.” While I didn’t make a big post related to this, I managed to briefly discuss some of my highlights here and there.

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For those of you who are curious about my “Conan” taping experience, I managed to witness almost two full shows. Why? Conan O’Brien had to be somewhere when his Thursday show would air, so naturally, he had a demand, he wanted us, Thursday’s audience, to “make Tuesday’s audience look like s*it.” We got see all of Tuesday’s show, which had a couple comedy bits and an interview with Timothy Olyphant (Live Free or Die Hard, Santa Clarita Diet) and a good fraction of a Thursday night show which featured comedian Moses Storm, who joked about cell phone users, “Shark Tank,” and revealed a story where he would tape episodes of Conan O’Brien’s older talk show episodes over his religion-related educational programming. By the way, Conan in person looks like a real life action figure. Maybe it’s the makeup. Maybe it’s the lighting in the studio, but my gosh.

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I also got to visit an RPX venue for the first time. For those who don’t know about RPX, they are a premium format that can be found exclusively in cinemas under Regal Entertainment Group ownership. I didn’t plan on attending RPX when I did, but I managed to get something off my list of movie-related things to do before I died. After all, “Us” just came out, and I was in the Boston area. I figured just to save time, I’d go for the earlier, but more expensive show that Regal Cinemas Fenway was providing, as opposed to another show which would be starting a half hour later. For your information, I was aware that I was going into an RPX screen. I didn’t mind my decision, I figured if I wanted to see “Us,” I’d go see it in full scale glory because I was really anticipating it. While I have still yet to see “Get Out” to this day, I have heard about its overwhelmingly positive reception and I was expecting that Jordan Peele would deliver another sick movie. While “Us” was not perfect, it was definitely worth seeing, and I wouldn’t mind watching it again. As for the RPX experience itself, I thought the seats were not too bad. The capacity was through the roof, the screen, while not entirely wall to wall, was huge. As for the sound… It is undeniably better than a standard theater, but I was a little underwhelmed. Maybe I went to see the wrong movie, maybe the employees turned the speakers down, but when I compare the sound to something like IMAX or Dolby Cinema at AMC, I would go back to both of those places first.

Moving onto April, I managed to survive the whole “Avengers: Endgame” ticket buying craze. For those not fully immersed into what I just stated, I must point out that “Avengers: Endgame” tickets went on sale April 2nd, and the Internet went balls to the wall nuts when it came to snagging tickets. I had to wait in Fandango’s line, AMC was having problems, and it got to the point where I had to buy tickets from a somewhat local cinema chain, on their own, slightly buggy website, just to make sure I could get into school on time. I almost took the train to one of my local AMCs because I could stop by there on the way to school. If I did that, I am willing to bet I would have missed out on opening night of “Endgame,” which was the day I was shooting for. After all I did want to get my review out as soon as possible, and I did manage to score a couple tickets on remaining good seats for a 9PM show. Not at an AMC, but at a Showcase Cinemas. While it was not my first choice, I don’t regret going there, because an hour before going into the cinema, I got a glimpse at everyone leaving the 22 MCU movie marathon the theater was showing over a few days. Everyone was being applauded, and they left with some merch. I recorded this aftermath on Facebook Live, and despite my camera’s focusing problems and poor cellular service, I managed to get some respectable footage. Also as a Bostonian, I was proud of myself to catch a reporter from one of my local news channels, WBZ, or CBS Channel 4. To be specific, Tashanea Whitlow. As for the premiere itself, the movie was fun, and the three hour runtime was rather justified given what we as an audience received. I didn’t think it was perfect, I’d much rather watch “Infinity War,” but it was a great finale to over ten years of films. I will also say, this may be due to where I went to see the movie, seeing “Infinity War” was also a better experience. Because I went to see it at a 7PM show on opening Thursday on an eight story IMAX screen. If you have ever gone to see an event-type film in India, that is one of the most solid comparisons I could make to my experience. It was like going to a Stanley Cup game or something. “Endgame,” which was in a sold out theater in regular 2D, had barely any applause (although some reactions here and there), and out of everyone in the theater, I may have been the most obnoxious. If I had to make a sports comparison, I’d probably say it was like going to a slightly more competitive golf tournament. It was lively at times, but not like the roof was being blown off the place. I know some people are not particularly fans of going to theaters where everyone is reacting to the film’s key moments, but as a fan of the MCU, it’s something that I considered to be a privilege during my “Infinity War” experience.

May was an interesting month for me, because I just finished my first year of college, so I got a little more active on the Scene Before side of things. I’m now trying to earn revenue with the blog, I saw more movies than I did in months such as March or February, and I even changed my domain name. Unfortunately, scenebefore.com was taken, so I wanted to make sure I can fit something that would associate with me, but also be precise. I thought something like moviereviewingmoron.com, while definitely appropriate, is a tad too long. Luckily, after some searching, I found out that flicknerd.com was available. Did I ever call myself “flick nerd” on this blog? No, but I figured it would be a cool name to have because its simplicity will probably gain enough traction overtime. It’s hard to tell though, because this advanced blogging journey, at least from my point of view, is just getting started. I’m looking for sponsors, more potential viewers, but I’m also trying to be the same movie reviewing moron that everyone has come to know.

One of my highlight posts of the month is titled “What THE BIG BANG THEORY Has Meant To Me: A Nerd’s Perspective.” For those who are unaware, CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” just finished it’s twelfth and final season on the air, so I figured I’d take some time to remind the world of what the show has meant to me as a fan, as someone who would constantly tune in to new episodes, and most of all, as a nerd on the autism spectrum. I probably won’t have time to give a detailed description of everything I said, so if you want to read the post, click this link!

I also saw another one of my favorite films so far this year, “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum!” Not only that, but like I mentioned earlier, I managed to catch a Dolby Cinema presentation of it, which surprisingly, didn’t make me feel like I was getting shot in the head, which may be a good thing. Seriously though, “John Wick: Chapter 3” is probably the best installment of the franchise yet, and Keanu Reeves might now just have a better trilogy than “The Matrix!”

But I cannot say the end of the month was great, because “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” happened. Sad day. Even though I went to see the film in full scale IMAX glory, it didn’t feel like something worth my time.

Moving onto June, I managed to do something pretty cool with my dad. He and I go to the movies together a lot because for the most part we have similar tastes. We match together when it comes to sci-fi, action, comic book-based material, comedy, etc. However he has never been to an advance press screening, so I thought just for fun he and I could do so for the new movie, “Men In Black: International.” It’s a movie that I probably would have checked out had I waited for it to release everywhere. After all, “Men In Black 3” is my favorite movie of 2012. However, since this was free, not to mention, early, I thought dad and I could trek to the theater and see what this movie had in store. I personally enjoyed it. I know some people were scared of how this movie would turn out based on the marketing (Then again, it’s a Sony film, whaddya expect these days?). I thought the first trailer was alright, but not great. The second trailer was an improvement and actually got me more interested in the film. As for the film itself, it is not Shakespeare, but it’s a fun time at the movies. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson have great chemistry together and I think Kumail Nanjiani’s character is a fantastic comic relief.

The best movie I saw this month was “Toy Story 4,” which I must point out, I probably was not even looking forward to back when it was announced. Boy, times do change! Unfortunately, I had to witness brain cell erasers such as “Replicas,” which I bought on Blu-ray since I had some Best Buy rewards to waste. I also saw “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” which is worse than getting scratched in the eye by a cat. Yes, Harrison Ford is in it. Yes, he is the best part of the movie. But I might as well be at the point where I would rather have a dog sniff my butt then go so that film again!

Now that I have recapped my highlights, I just want to remind everyone of what’s being planned for the future. Here is my unofficial schedule for the second half of 2019!

JULY:

Throughout the month of July, there are not that many movies coming out compared to other months in the year (at least according to Wikipedia), but I am planning on catching a few blockbuster highlights such as “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” despite how little anticipation I have for it. I also really want to catch Disney’s live-action remake of “The Lion King.” I am not a fan of the Disney live-action remake trend, but I feel that this movie will be a great theater experience and also rather compelling. I don’t know how much it is going to be a carbon copy of the original or how much it’ll go in its own direction, but I am somewhat curious as to what will come of it. I know it is longer than the original, which slightly worries me, because it could add something that perhaps the 1990s film didn’t even need, therefore ruining my experience. Plus, it’s being directed by Jon Faverau, who also worked on 2016’s “The Jungle Book,” another Disney live-action remake, which was one of my favorite movies of said year. I also really want to check out “Crawl.” The trailer didn’t have me fully onboard, but I am still curious as to how this film will turn out. Plus, it’s being produced by Sam Raimi, who is known for his work in the horror industry, and one of my favorite comic book movie directors.

This does not mean that I want to ignore independent work, because on the same weekend as “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” A24 is releasing one of my most anticipated movies of the summer. Specifically, “Midsommar.” When your movie is A: Directed by Ari Aster, who had a phenomenal feature-length directorial debut last year with “Hereditary,” another A24 film, and B: Described by Aster as “a Wizard of Oz for perverts,” I am instantly intrigued. “Midsommar” takes place in rural Sweden as a young couple takes a vacation and settles in the area. Alongside their friends, they eventually discover that this area has a festival that takes place once every ninety years, which creeps them all out. I want to see Ari Aster succeed, so hopefully this film does well.

Speaking of successful filmmakers, another well-known director in the industry, specifically Quentin Tarantino, is going to be releasing his ninth film, “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood.” And to be honest, as anticipated as I am to see this film, I have to let something out. I have not seen much of Tarantino’s work. I will most likely be going to see “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood” when it comes out, maybe in 35mm, but before I do that, I am going to be doing a small series of reviews for Quentin Tarantino movies. In fact, I already have a few lined up. Specifically, “Pulp Fiction,” “Django Unchained,” and “The Hateful Eight.” Those reviews will be done as weekly projects and they should all be up before the official release date of “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood,” July 26th.

 

AUGUST:

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESRemember how I would occasionally announce I am going to cons from time to time? For some reason I have failed to do that this year. It’s not like I am not going anywhere, but I have just failed to put myself in front of my keyboard and try to say, “Hey guys, here’s where I’m going, stalk me!” Not that don’t mind the attention, I’m just saying. But if you really want to know about my next con, I do have it booked, and I will be going to Terrificon, which for those of you who have been following me for some time, you’d know that is also the first con I ever documented on this blog. And I am thinking of doing something a little different this time, just to spice things up. I’m trying to push more video content into my posts, maybe I’ll insert a compilation of the con’s highlights. I’ll record it on my camera, maybe my phone, whichever has more memory at the time. Maybe I’ll post it on YouTube and link it here. Who knows? But here on Scene Before I am trying find ways to innovate, and maybe this could be one of them.

Speaking of cons, this is NO GUARANTEE, partially because I have not even bought tickets, but there is one convention that is about a half hour away from my house that I kind of want to go to. Whether or not I am going, that’s a different story, but should things go in a certain direction, I may end up going to Fan Expo Boston, which is a con I have surprisingly never been to. And the guest list this year, aside from a couple big cancellations, is solid so far. You’ve got Zachary Levi (Shazam!, Tangled), who I will say, even if you are not into his work, he is a fun guy to meet, he is upbeat and has a massive sense of charm. Part of the cast of “Blade Runner” is going to be there including Sean Young, Rutger Hauer, and Edward James Olmos. I have a feeling there are more guest announcements coming our way, and if there are, I cannot wait to hear them, because there have been a lot of cool names who were there over the years to the point where I almost have slight regrets on missing out. If I were to get tickets to Fan Expo, I’d probably just go for one day. After all, Terrificon is the week prior, and I am staying overnight during that weekend, so my budget might be slightly higher at that event compared to Fan Expo.

Moving away from cons, I will say that my biggest film catches for August right now have to be “Hobbs & Shaw,” “Dora and the Lost City of Gold,” “Good Boys,” “Where’d You Go Bernadette?,” and “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.” There is not much from August that I am truly anticipating, but I will inevitably go see a few things here and there. And if you want to know something, I only put down “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” because let’s face it, “Dora the Explorer” was a part of my childhood, and nostalgia equals money nowadays. Granted, this movie looks a tad more adult-friendly than the cartoon. But am I looking forward to it? Hell no. In fact, I am thinking it is only going to ruin my childhood, but I might as well give it a chance just because I am a nice guy. I saw the recent “Power Rangers” film partially out of nostalgia and that worked for me, might as well do it with “Dora” and see if that works.

 

SEPTEMBER:
If I had to predict my least active month for the rest of the year, I have to call it right now, September is certainly a contender. For one thing, I’m going back to college, so I need to adjust to a new routine. I’m still going to keep my promise of doing at least one post within every 7 days or so, that way you can keep witnessing my constant dedication to this blog. I’m probably not gonna go see “IT: Chapter Two” mainly because I still have not seen the first one. Although the cast is pretty nifty from what I have experienced. But I am interested in “The Goldfinch,” I have some slight intrigue towards “The Report,” and maybe I’ll check out “Abominable.” I saw one of the trailers for it, and it looks like it might not be a new animated classic or anything, but I am somewhat curious to check it out, partially because even as an adult, I still have a slight need to check out animations from time to time. Plus, it is from DreamWorks, and I’m currently trying to seek out their next big thing. “Kung Fu Panda” is done, “How to Train Your Dragon” seems to be done, maybe this, or something else, can be their next kickstarter to a solid franchise. Then again, apparently they’re making sequels to “The Boss Baby,” “The Croods,” and “Trolls,” so why should I expect absolute quality? Nevertheless, it’s worth a shot.

Although if you had to ask me what my most anticipated movie would be for the month of September, it’s a no brainer, “Ad Astra.” I love space, I love compelling, dramatic stories involving space travel, even if it is close to Earth. Plus, the second half of the year for numerous ages of my life have typically contained at least one epic space movie. Maybe “Ad Astra” will be the next to join the ranks with other movies from this decade like “The Martian” and “Interstellar.”

 

OCTOBER:

This October is pretty interesting to me, because there will be a weekend where my mother and sister are out of the house and I will quite honestly, need something to do. I can’t just stay trapped behind walls! I have to see the world! Nevertheless, that particular weekend is the release of “Joker,” which I am inevitably going to check out no matter what, but for the sake of having an early review, I’m going to check it out as soon as possible. I have Fridays off from school this upcoming semester, maybe I’ll do it then. The following week is the release of Will Smith’s “Gemini Man,” directed by Ang Lee, so I might see that. And the week after is slightly bigger because Taika Waititi is coming out with his latest directorial feature, “Jojo Rabbit,” where believe it or not, Waititi himself plays Hitler. I never pictured that, but this film certainly has my attention. That same week is also the release of “Zombieland: Double Tap.” I had fun with the first “Zombieland.” I enjoyed the chemistry between Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson, and it has, at least to me, a pure highlight from Bill Murray’s acting career. And to my surprise, he’s coming back for this movie! I also want to check out “The Aeronauts” which is being released by Amazon, and the reason why I want to check it out is because it is Amazon’s first attempt at an IMAX run and it is also being released a week early in that format. The film will technically be in standard theaters in November after it’s week-long IMAX run. And if this is the case, this reminds me of the excitement I had for Robert Zemeckis’ “The Walk,” because that released a week early in IMAX and that was quite an experience.

Speaking of lesser known films, one other thing I want to check out is the South Korean flick “Parasite.” It’s getting tons of buzz at film festivals, having earned Palme d’Or at Cannes, winning the Sydney Film Festival, and already making tons of money in Korea. The film’s US release is this October, which would put it in a reasonable spot to be remembered by Academy and Golden Globe voters.

 

NOVEMBER:
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This November is particularly interesting. Because November 1st is the day I’m heading off to Providence for Rhode Island Comic Con, and that’s the day after Halloween! I’m not cosplaying (at least I have no plans to right now) at this con, but I just want to walk around the convention floor for hours and stumble upon every costumed individual and wish them a Happy Halloween. Nevertheless, I am staying true to my annual tradition of going to Rhode Island Comic Con. The guest list is usually filled to the brim, so I cannot wait to hear more announcements over these upcoming months. Even so, the convention has had some huge announcements for guests thus far. Some guests include Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy, Blade Runner 2049), William Shatner (Star Trek: The Original Series, Boston Legal), George Takei (Star Trek: The Original Series, Kim Possible), Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead, Final Space), and to my utter surprise, and possible delight, Chevy Chase. By the way, Chase made an announcement about his upcoming appearance online and the video he made for it is very funny.

Sticking to the announcement wishlist concept, I recently made a submission on the con’s website suggesting names of five possible guests that I want to see. They include: James Murray, Curtis Armstrong, Kunal Nayyar, Doug Walker, and James Holzhauer. I could be mistaking Doug Walker for somebody else, but even if I am, he would be fun to see at the con. Of all these names, the one that really stands out to me is James Holzhauer. Out of all the people on this list, he is the least “celebrity-like” of all of them. James Murray comes close, but barely misses the mark. For those who are unaware, Holzhauer is the name of the recent “Jeopardy!” contestant who wouldn’t stop taking the show’s money. He has nearly broken Ken Jennings’ regular winnings record, only to be stopped by an opponent who beat him by more than double his final total for the game he lost. I think Holzhauer appearing at Rhode Island Comic Con would not just be unique, but also entirely appropriate. After all, it would probably bring in a new audience of people who would otherwise skip out on cons. Plus, as a game show enthusiast, I cannot help but keep talking about Holzhauer like he’s my own child. It’s almost as if being able to catch the latest “Jeopardy!” episode or at least reading up on the latest stats was the ultimate bragging right. Also, this year I’m going with a VIP ticket, which comes with various perks.

VIP Ticket Perks:

  • 3 day admission
  • Early bird admission (9AM Sat & Sun)
  • Private VIP Entrance
  • Private VIP Lounge
  • 3 Exclusive RI Comic Con Show Prints
  • Rhode Island Comic Con Swag Bag
  • 20% off RICC Branded Merchandise
  • Exclusive VIP 2019 RI Comic Con Badge
  • Exclusive RICC AR Comics-Comic Book
  • Exclusive RICC Comic Book
  • VIP Autograph Fast Pass Line
  • VIP Photo Op Fast Pass Line
  • Chance to Win 2020 VIP Pass
  • One Exclusive Mystery Item

I am personally excited for the con, and believe it or not, it is not the first time I’m getting a VIP badge, because the first time I went, which was in 2015, I managed to get said badge as well.

That same weekend is also the release of the new “Terminator” film, “Terminator: Dark Fate.” It is a cliche title, but its first trailer, personally had me intrigued. I’m excited to see what Tim Miller has up his sleeve in terms of direction. I am somewhat excited to see James Cameron involved again, although I am slightly worried because we now have more disposable “Terminator” movies than memorable “Terminator” movies. Let’s just hope we can change that.

Some of my other most anticipated films of the month include “Ford v. Ferrari,” “Knives Out,” and “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” “Ford v. Ferrari” takes place during a race to determine which of the two recently specified car brands will dominate. “Knives Out” is an upcoming mystery crime film directed by Rian Johnson. I did not like his interpretation of the “Star Wars” universe, but it does not mean I am not willing to check out his future work. Plus, this movie has a number of big names that I imagine a lot of people would like to see. Some include Daniel Craig (Casino Royale, Logan Lucky), Chris Evans (Captain America: The First Avenger, Gifted), Lakeith Stanfield (Black Panther, Sorry To Bother You), Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049, War Dogs), Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween, Scream Queens), the world’s best Kevin Spacey impersonator, Christopher Plummer (All the Money in the World, A Beautiful Mind), and recent Jackoff winner Toni Collette (Hereditary, The Sixth Sense). As for “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” it is in the current conversation to be my most anticipated film for the remainder of the year. For one thing, I saw “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” last year, which much like “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” is about Mister Rogers. That documentary not only compelled me, but reminded me of my personal flaws in my childhood, and maybe inspired me to be a better person. I still rage out on this blog a lot, but it’s something that I don’t really do for me, I do it for the entertainment of others, so that’s different. But it reminded me of how much it pays to respect those around you. Plus, TOM HANKS IS PLAYING THE STARRING ROLE?! Who else could do that?! He’s practically the nicest guy in Hollywood! SIGN ME UP! Believe it or not, that comes out the same weekend as “Frozen II,” but who cares about that?! Rogers for life!

 

DECEMBER:

The end of the year is always a crazy time for me, but just like last year, it’ll perhaps be less busy than it has been in other years. My fall semester will end during the month, and I’ll be in the cycle of watching previous movies from the year at home. This does not mean that I’ll be skipping theatrical releases, because award season is in full swing. This means I’ll be paying extra close attention to films that receive Golden Globe nominations, and as for reviewing movies I watch at home, the chances of that are very slim. But this does not mean that big blockbusters are entirely off the table. For one thing, they tend to sometimes do pretty well in certain technical categories, and we have another “Star Wars” film this year. I have intentions to go see “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” opening Thursday night, mainly because I want to buy tickets as early as possible. If I can’t do that, I am going to try extra hard to find an available press screening, because aside from “Endgame,” “The Rise of Skywalker” is perhaps the biggest movie of 2019. Aside from being titled “Star Wars,” it is supposed to end “The Skywalker Saga,” and J.J. Abrams is directing again. I was not a huge fan of “The Last Jedi,” but I love “The Force Awakens” like it is my own brother. I am honestly more excited for “The Rise of Skywalker” than I was for “The Last Jedi” before that came out because I was somewhat worried that “The Last Jedi” would be a carbon copy of “The Empire Strikes Back.” Turns out it wasn’t, despite similarities to older films in the saga. And I even say this knowing how some things in “The Last Jedi” turned out. Having seen the trailer back in April, knowing certain plot points that could play out, and realizing J.J. Abrams could save this sequel trilogy, I am rather giddy for this December. But despite my excitement, I gotta ask. HOW IS PALPATINE STILL ALIVE?! I am excited to possibly see him in this film, but really?! When he was thrown down the pit in “Return of the Jedi,” yeeaah, HE F*CKING DIED. There is no coming back from that. I’m intrigued, I just need to be convinced.

When it comes to smaller films, one such film I am very excited for is “Little Women.” The film is supposed to explore the lives of sisters as they live in 1860s Massachusetts. It may not be my type of movie on paper, but one reason why I am excited is because the film is being directed by Greta Gerwig, who also helmed one of the best coming of age stories I have seen in recent years, “Lady Bird.” In addition to that, the cast is killer! This movie’s got Meryl Streep (Sophie’s Choice, The Iron Lady), Emma Watson (Beauty and the Beast, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone), Laura Dern (Big Little Lies, Jurassic Park), Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird, Mary Queen of Scots), and Timothée Chalamet (Interstellar, Beautiful Boy)! I am also probably going to be looking into “1917,” which is a war film. Those tend to often go for awards, which is why I have my sights set on it. There are a couple films that I might check out that I would probably regret seeing, but the only real film that I’d struggle with reviewing is “Fair and Balanced.” Granted, this does not mean I am not looking forward to the film, nor am I expecting to be underwhelmed with it, in fact it sounds rather intriguing from a storytelling point of view. But the movie is about relationships between women and Fox News owner Roger Ailes, and I feel that it is going to be rather hard to keep my political opinions out of the review. I’m not saying I am a core conservative that keeps a closed mind, I try to see all sides and then form my own opinion. I have made various political jokes here and there on Scene Before, but politics is not my top priority, especially when you consider how divided we are as a country right now. Although I did manage to check out “Vice” last year, which was pretty good, but part of it had to do with the buzz it has been getting. Who knows? Maybe I’ll check out “Fair and Balanced,” for all I know it could be the best movie of the year, but I feel like it would be hard to review if I’m going to have to inject my experience with how the world operates in terms of politics. We’ll just have to see.

And of course, I’ll be finishing off the year, or perhaps more likely, kicking off next year, by recapping my top 10 BEST and WORST movies of 2019. I enjoy doing these countdowns every year, because I get to honor films one more time, and also give myself a minor stress release.

Although I must remind you, it is 2019, and here on Scene Before I am trying to constantly find new ways to deliver exciting content to you all. In 2017, I did a couple of cutaway style parodies, in 2018 I did a post talking about my Blu-ray collection, and just this year I introduced the world to the Jackoff Awards. The question is, where I do I go next? I’ve done tons of countdowns, reviews of the past, reviews of the present, what could be next? I know! ALL OF IT IN ONE. Ladies and gentlemen, if you have been following Scene Before and saw one of my posts in April, you’d know that I put out a trailer for something I once referred to as “Project 2020.” Although, based on statistics, I doubt many of you have even glanced at that post. But for those of you who know what I’m talking about, good for you. You get a “good job” sticker! But for those of you who don’t know, watch this trailer down below!

*ALL COPYRIGHTS BELONG TO THEIR RESPECTIVE OWNERS*

That’s right! I am going to be crafting a list of my highlight movies of the 2010’s, and I must have you know, I am setting this list up to be bigger than the lists I traditionally do at the end of the year. While this is still in planning stages, I will be intending to make this list perhaps a top 25, maybe a top 50. I was also debating on a top 100 as well. Depends on how much time I have. I am honestly MORE THAN EXCITED to work on this list, and release it to you all. I started Scene Before in 2016, which means I did not get too many chances to talk about films from years prior, so not only is this a personal reflection of various films I watched during my blogging journey, but a reflection of an entire ten year span that I lived through before becoming this active on the Internet. I’m not gonna say anything, but 2014 was a great year for film as far I’m concerned, so depending on how the rest of 2019 plays out, we might see a good number of films I’m passionate about from that year make the list. This is not to put down any other year from this decade, I’m just giddy of what’s to come…

And by the way, a worst list is in the works too.

At home I am making an effort to watch various films that have come out this decade just to catch up, and maybe add something to the best or worst list at the end of the year. I’m not gonna get into too much detail, because I do want to save some secrets for when the list comes out, but I am stoked just to be working on this.

Thanks for reading this post! If you like Scene Before and want to see more content, consider following me either with an email or WordPress account! As for upcoming content, I want to remind everyone, in case they forgot by now, I will soon be starting my Quentin Tarantino review series, which will eventually culminate with a review either at the end of July or beginning of August with my thoughts on “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” I cannot wait to get started on this, Tarantino is a filmmaker I have often admired behind the scenes, but I have barely seen any of his material. Now is a good time to start! Also, be sure to check out my Facebook page! Get your latest updates from the movie reviewing moron by using Facebook, the home of some of the all-time laziest efforts at wishing someone a happy birthday. Be sure to stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, is there something that you would like to see be done here on Scene Before, perhaps for this half of 2019? Or, what is your favorite Scene Before moment, post, anything that I have done so far this year? It can even be this one for all I care! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!