E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982): An Emotionally Thrilling, High-Flying, Down to Earth Tale

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Last September, I made a promise to those who follow me on social media that I would do a Steven Spielberg Month! And with that promise comes a review of one of his most famous works, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” I mean, how can I not review this movie? Look at my last minute Photoshopped poster! I am committing to this movie no matter what! That said, “E.T.” is one of the films most people think of when they hear the words Steven Spielberg. It might shock you to know that despite this film coming out before I was born and having such longevity, this is my second time in my entire life watching this film. Is the rewatch worth it? Let’s find out.

“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” is directed by Steven Spielberg (Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind) and stars Dee Wallace, Henry Thomas, Peter Coyote, Robert MacNaughton, and Drew Barrymore. This film centers around a young boy who finds an alien life form. Despite the foreign nature of this being, the boy befriends and communicates with the alien all the while trying to send him back to his planet of origin.

When it comes to Steven Spielberg’s most influential works, there’s often a debate as to what that film might actually be. “Jaws” essentially invented the modern blockbuster. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” spawned an iconic franchise that other exploration and adventure stories often get compared to. “Jurassic Park” is not only often considered to be the best dinosaur movie, but paved the way for CGI heavy cinema as we know it. However, “E.T.” should also be in the conversation. Even though “E.T.” is a story that brings our world together with foreign territory, it is a film that works because of how tiny it feels. And that is despite the occasional scene where things happen away from home. That is despite an iconic moment where we see our heroes fly by the moon. That is despite the punch-packing score by John Williams. This movie is like being promised a small, delicious pizza, but getting a large at no extra charge.

Safe to say, I had a ridiculously fun time watching “E.T.,” and it is easy to see why people are still celebrating it forty years later.

Even if its video game adaptation is cringe.

I only saw “E.T.” once when I was younger, and while I remember various things about it, this viewing truly felt like an initial watch. Like “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” I had the chance to watch “E.T.” at home on 4K Blu-ray. Speaking of similarities to “Close Encounters,” “E.T.” looks surprisingly practical, and that practicality adds a hint of charm to the film itself. If E.T. himself were CGIed, part of me would wonder how off-putting or pixelated that could come off. Thankfully, such an idea remains a mystery.

Speaking of practical, one of the most believable things in the movie is how they handled the connection between Eliott and E.T.. Whether you believe a kid like Eliott would actually take an alien into his home is one thing. As for how they handled the taking of an alien into Eliott’s home makes the journey worthwhile. Seeing their differences in communication provided for glimmers of entertainment. This also goes to show the magic of minimal dialogue, notably on E.T.’s part. E.T. has very few lines in the movie, but each one emits a particular positive emotion that stands out. This is perhaps the film’s biggest strength. The story is simple, but the way it is executed allowed for a great balance of happiness, sadness, and everything in between.

When I look back on my experience of watching “E.T.,” I anticipate to remember select moments where my eyes lit up, and others where my eyes almost watered. And this movie is not short on these. While “Blade Runner” may still be my favorite movie from 1982, I can confirm that “E.T.” is more effective when it comes to inducing character attachments and emotions for everything that is happening.

When it comes to Steven Spielberg’s science fiction slate, I think this is a better movie overall than “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” The biggest strength of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” is not the main character of Roy Neary, as likable as he is. Instead, that honor belongs to the curiosity of Barry, a three-year-old boy. Spielberg is consistent from one film to another in suggesting that children are likely to take steps to determine what strange happenings are going on outside. This consistency is effective because naturally, children are curious. Although for “E.T.,” the child of focus here, specifically Eliott, is the protagonist. His mother, Mary (Dee Wallace) plays a prominent role in the film. However, when it comes to “Close Encounters” comparisons, Mary emits more of the characteristics of Ronnie, who is noticeably less open-minded towards the ongoing alien plot.

If I had to give any problems to “E.T.,” it would have nothing to do with the story. In fact, it is as perfect as can be. I would barely change a single thing about it. That dishonor, instead, belongs to the technical aspects of the film. The film has its highlights from various night shots that look beautiful, a nicely edited action sequence towards the end, and of course, one of the best, not to mention catchiest, scores John Williams has ever done.

“E.T.” came out in 1982. Therefore, after the film’s release, many improvements have been made to how green screen is done. Although you cannot have the improvements seen in movies like “Avengers: Endgame” without the mistakes made in “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” There are a couple flying sequences in this film. At times, they come off as beautiful. John Williams’s score accompanies both of these scenes and allow him to deliver the best music in the movie. However, the green screen, or blue screen in this case, looks obvious. It looks kind of fake. If anything, it makes the shark in “Jaws” look real. I was fully immersed in this flying sequence and nevertheless continue to reflect on it after the movie with positive thoughts. But seeing the landscape move around in the background the way it does is kind of distracting. That said, as far as I know, there is no such thing as a flying bike. Therefore I respect Spielberg and crew for trying to imagine how such a thing could look. The result, per my born in 1999 and viewing in 2022 eyes, is mostly positive.

If I had any other problems with the movie, it would be the first scene between Eliott and E.T. from either an editing or directorial perspective. When E.T. is revealed, we see Eliott react to the sight of the foreign creature. Obviously, he is terrified. I have no problem with the way this is written, but the way it was assembled was a bit jumpy. There are only so many cuts you can do of one person’s face screaming in fear. I think that was a bit overdone.

That said, these are small problems within a film of wonder. The cast is great, the characters are well-written, and the shots are some of the most gorgeous of 1980s cinema. As far as science fiction and alien-based films go, I think Spielberg stepped it up from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” As much as I enjoyed “Close Encounters,” I think I would rather watch “E.T.” again in the near future.

Also, I cannot go on without acknowledging this iconic moon shot. There are few instances in cinema that are as eye-popping as this. There is a reason why this became part of the Amblin logo.

In the end, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” is some of the most fun I have had watching a movie recently. They say that moviemaking is a business, which comes with a double-edged sword. The studios always try to follow the money, and therefore quality is sometimes neglected. Not with “E.T.,” because the movie is the highest-grossing project of 1982 by a long shot. It is one thing to be successful, but to be successful and career-defining is another. This film was a win for Steven Spielberg back in the 1980s, and it is a still a winner today. This is a great film for all ages, and I would not mind putting it on again sometime. I am going to give “E.T the Extra-Terrestrial.” an 8/10.

“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” is now available on VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K Blu-ray. The film is also available to rent or buy digitally, and you can also stream it on Peacock.

Thanks for reading this review! If you want to see another review from this ongoing Steven Spielberg Month event, check out my thoughts on “Close Encounters of the Third Kind!”

My next review in the Steven Spielberg Month series is a 35 year jump in time! This is a film I have not seen yet, I am watching it for the first time for this review, “The Post.” I have heard decent things about this movie. In fact it was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Here is hoping it is good! Also, be sure to stay tuned for my reviews for “Amsterdam,” “Smile,” and “Halloween Ends.” If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial?” What did you think about it? Or, this might be a dumb question, but it is about something stupid so it comes full circle. Have you ever had the chance to play “E.T.” on the Atari 2600? If so, tell me about your experience. I want to know everything. Scene Before is your click to the flicks.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977): My First Contact with Steven Spielberg’s Sci-fi Classic

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Last year on Scene Before, in honor of the fifth anniversary, I promised everyone that I would spend months focusing on several themed review periods. This has lead to series including “Mortal Kombat: Finish the Reviews,” where I reviewed the 1995 “Mortal Kombat” film and its sequel, “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.” I also did “Revenge of the Nerds Month,” where I reviewed all the movies in its respective franchise. Starting with “Revenge of the Nerds,” to “Nerds in Paradise,” followed by “The Next Generation,” and finally, “Nerds in Love.” I capped this charade off with “The Matrix Reviewed,” where I talked about “The Matrix,” “The Matrix Reloaded,” and “The Matrix Revolutions.” That was last year.

This year however, I have yet to review any older movies, or do any particular theme. Well, that changes. On November 11th, Steven Spielberg will release his latest film, the highly anticipated loosely based on true events tale, “The Fabelmans.” In honor of his latest film and his significant career, I figured it would be time to do a “Steven Spielberg Month.” For this review, we will be starting with “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” It was my first time watching the film, and here are my initial thoughts.

“Close Encounters of the Third Kind” is directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Richard Dreyfuss, Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon, and François Truffaut in a film about Roy Neary, an electric lineman who encounters a UFO. This incident enhances his curiosity as to the events this may lead to, which causes him to go cross-country to find out more.

For those who beg to ask, I am basing my review on the theatrical version of the film, which is the only cut I have seen. This review is based on my first contact, my initial close encounter, with “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” I am sort of surprised it took me 22 years to watch this film, as I am a bit of a science fiction nut. In fact, just this year, the moviegoing masses received the latest film from Jordan Peele, “Nope,” which speaking of Spielberg, I compared to “Jaws” based on my experience with both films. “Nope” is not as good as “Jaws,” but content-wise, the two feel similar. If I watched “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” before seeing “Nope,” which I did not, I probably would have used that film as a device to compare to as well. After all, both films prominently feature aliens and if you read my review for “Nope,” I referenced that film “as the closest I think a director has come in some time to providing a Spielberg-like experience without the use of the actual Steven Spielberg.”

When it comes to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” I was kind of expecting some variation of “Jaws” but with aliens, as if an alien were to be a primal focus of the screen time. After all, again, Steven Spielberg directed both films. What I got out of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” felt deeper, it felt more character-driven. This is not a diss on “Jaws” because that is a great film and the characters have likable personalities. But at the end of the day, when it comes to “Jaws,” I am mostly there to watch the shark do shark things while the humans deal with it. Obviously they have admirable backstories, but it goes to show how much I rooted for and related to the main character of Roy Neary. I am not an electric lineman, nor I do live in the midwest. That said, I found the character’s motivations aligning with mine and I felt for him throughout various occasions of the film, even if he is designed to look crazy.

After all, if I tweeted to the entire world, picture included or not, that I saw a UFO, it would generate a ton of reactions, at least one of which would involve someone calling me insane. I have watched stories where people faced alien life, the supernatural, or other similar concepts where the movie’s supporting cast to some degree might grow suspicious of the main character and think they are cuckoo. Only thing is, I know that as a third party observer, they are not. If anything this leads to this film’s biggest strength. Even though I am rooting for Roy Neary, there are one or two moments in this movie where he can come off as crazy. But much like a mad scientist potentially discovering the latest integration that could potentially be used for time travel, this craziness could also be marked as obsessiveness, which is why I find Roy Neary likable. He may come off as weird, but he is passionate about accomplishing his goal. I want the latter to be true for just about any protagonist.

For good reason, this movie is about Roy Neary, but one of my favorite aspects of how this story is told is how they use a three year old boy as a curiosity mine. This is a perfect utilization. Children, perhaps stereotypically, are more curious than adults. Therefore it makes sense to have as much of a focus on three year old Barry as much as a grown adult like Roy. While “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” is more of a science fiction tale than a horror flick, Barry’s perspective brought hints of the latter genre to the table. There is a particular moment midway through the film that had me caught me slightly off guard not because of what I saw, but because of what I could not see. Film is a visual medium. Therefore, it is often expected for sight to be the most important and heightened sense within each edition of said medium. In today’s cinematic landscape where VFX-heavy films dominate, it is nice to see a film with an occasional sense of minimalism.

At the same time though, this should not take away from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” as a visual spectacle. Partially because the film looks beautiful, even if there is another 1977 science fiction film that somehow surpasses it, specifically “Star Wars.” I watched this film on 4K Blu-ray, so therefore I also got to see the HDR transfer. Even though there are several scenes that take place at night, this film is not short on vibrant, visible color. The mothership in particular is one of the more awe-inspiring crafts in the entire science fiction genre. The variety of lit colors on the ship emit a poppy vibe even though it looks like the last thing you will ever see.

I should not be surprised that film looks as good as it does. The standard for shooting movies at this time was 35mm film, which has occasionally been used today for productions like “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and “The Northman.” Although I was delighted to know that this movie’s visual effects sequences were shot using 70mm film. The cinematography from Vilmos Zsigmond is clear and wide enough to pick up all the fine details. “Close Encounters” has a specialty where it is one the more rugged-looking sci-fi movies, but that makes it all the more beautiful. The movie relies on practical effects instead of computers, which is a smart choice. Forty-five years later, the movie’s appearance has aged like a fine wine.

I do not know when I plan on watching “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” again. It is not a bad film by any means, but I did not find it as memorable as other films in the sci-fi genre. At the same time though, this film feels like an achievement for the genre in the same way that “Star Wars” was in the same year. Technically speaking, it is breathtaking. Characteristically speaking, I admired just about everyone on screen. I would say if you have never seen the film, give it a watch sometime.

In the end, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” is a solid movie that feels like a semi-realistic interpretation of what could happen if mankind ever encountered alien life. Some of us would be curious. Some of us would run. Some of us would want to get authorities involved. It all sounds legit. Kind of like the shark in “Jaws,” I came to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” to see how it uses aliens in its story. Although I stayed to see human characters like Roy deal with an unfamiliar situation. The stay was certainly worth it. I am going to give “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” a 7/10.

“Close Encounters of the Third Kind” is now available in formats including VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K Blu-ray. You can also rent or buy the film through Video On Demand or on various streaming services.

Thanks for reading this review! If you like this review, why not check out some of my other ones? Like my review for the most expensive Czech film of all time, “Medieval!” Also, be sure to check out my review for the brand new comedy, “Clerks III!”

My next review for the ongoing Steven Spielberg Month, which shall be posted on Friday, October 14th, is going to be for “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” I have not watched this film in many years, so I feel like I am going in with a fresh perspective. I hope I am not disappointed. Also, stay tuned for my reviews for “The Post” and the 2021 remake of “West Side Story!” If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Close Encounters of the Third Kind?” What did you think about it? Or, since it is related, did you see “Nope?” Tell me your thoughts! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Nope (2022): YEP.

“Nope” is directed by Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us) and stars Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Judas and the Black Messiah), Keke Palmer (Lightyear, Ice Age: Continental Drift), Steven Yeun (Minari, The Walking Dead), Michael Wincott (The Crow, Alien: Resurrection), Brandon Perea (The OA, Doom Patrol), Wrenn Schmidt (Outcast, For All Mankind), Barbie Ferreira (Euphoria, Unpregnant), and Keith David (The Thing, Pitch Black). This film is about a brother and sister who live on a ranch and witness an unusual, shocking event that changes everything.

So far, when it comes to Jordan Peele’s filmography, he has proven himself as legit horror storyteller. “Get Out” is unsettling and perfectly paced from start to finish. “Us” has charismatic characters and is a fine balance between subtle and trippy. “Nope” contains some of the horror elements that audiences may have grown accustomed to over the past couple films Peele directed. There are jumpscares, strange happenings, and much like “Us,” there is an intentionally placed scene in the beginning that in most cases would almost feel kind of out of place.

However, the biggest difference between “Nope” and Peele’s previous work is the scope. It would be easy for me to say that “Nope” is the biggest film Peele’s made so far, but I can back that up by saying “Nope” cost $68 million to make. That is more than “Us,” which cost $20 million, and “Get Out,” which cost $4.5 million. But there are reasons beyond the numbers as to why it is so big. The film is entirely shot on 65mm film, including select sequences which were shot in IMAX. Yes, Peele went full Nolan on this movie. Although unlike Christopher Nolan with some of his recent fare like “Tenet,” I could actually hear what the actors were trying to say. You see what happens when booming music is used sparingly? Out of all the films Peele has done so far, this is the one that most closely resembles that summer blockbuster vibe.

This is probably the closest I think a director has come in some time to providing a Spielberg-like experience without the use of the actual Steven Spielberg. Now, Spielberg has done a lot of movies, but he is most well known for his blockbusters like “Jaws” and “Jurassic Park.” This leads me to my biggest praise for “Nope,” and that is that this movie does for UFOs what Steven Spielberg and crew did for the original “Jaws” and “Jurassic Park” movies. What do I mean? There is a UFO in the movie, but much like the shark in “Jaws,” the UFO is used sparingly. Much like that iconic shark some call Bruce, the UFO felt special. And kind of like in “Jurassic Park,” which took its time to establish the gargantuan nature of its dinosaurs, the UFO is not only menacing when it appears, but it made me as a viewer feel small. I am very likely going to buy “Nope” on physical media as it is that good of a film. I am quite curious to know how that effect is going to come off on my television screen. But I can say as someone who has seen “Nope” twice in the theater, each scene where the UFO played a crucial role made it feel like the literal elephant in the room.

Speaking of elephants in the room, let’s talk about my favorite performance in the film. Keke Palmer gives it her all in “Nope.” Emerald Haywood (right) is exactly the type of character this movie needed. Compared to “Get Out,” which at times dives into the divide between class and race, “Nope” feels more like an escape. And Palmer does her absolute best to give an escape. Her dynamic voice and personality are that of an auctioneer on Adderall. If the character of Emerald Haywood were not in the horse-training business, she has the perfect skill set to sell cars. Her energy and physicality grabbed my attention from scene one. Keke Palmer is set to host the upcoming NBC reboot of “Password.” After seeing what she could do in this film, they made a great choice for the upcoming host.

Now on the other hand, the main character of the film, OJ Haywood (left), has less physicality, not to mention personality. And things seem to be that way on purpose. Daniel Kaluuya does a solid job playing a stoic character who seems to be going through the motions. I think that if the film had OJ be a ball of energy like Emerald, that could create for a problem. In a film as big as this, there needs to be at least one dose of reality or silence within all the noise. If “Nope” were an Amtrak train, OJ would be the quiet car. But this also leads me to say that I like the other main characters in “Nope” more than OJ because their energy therefore made me feel more energetic myself throughout the runtime. Not only did Keke Palmer succeed in this mission with Emerald, but Steven Yeun deserves some credit too for his upbeat portrayal of Ricky “Jupe” Park.

Although I should not say that the reality in this movie is a waste, because one of the characters in this film reminded me of my time when I worked at Staples in the tech department. That character is Angel Torres, who works at Fry’s Electronics, a now defunct electronics store chain. The first scene between him and the brother-sister duo felt reminiscent of my tactics when checking people out, not to mention some of the customer’s reactions when I would pop a certain question. While Angel may seem like an everyday electronics store employee, or at least he was, until Fry’s closed with the rest of their locations, he ended up being a delightfully charming part of the film.

If I had any negatives with the film, the biggest standout would be that given how Jordan Peele has leaned into this blockbuster route, this makes the film feel less substantial compared to his others. Do not get me wrong, it is a great movie. But what I mean is that compared to “Get Out,” I did not think as much about deeper meanings. “Nope” tries to play around with something of this nature involving a sitcom and a monkey, but I honestly do not think it did much other than give one character some backstory. You know that saying about how when you get to certain age in your life, presumably somewhere in your young adulthood, and you realize that maybe you are not as smart as you once thought you might be? If “Nope” were a real person, it would not have reached that stage just yet. The movie chooses to open a certain way and continue a certain way with this ideology that I will not spoil, but did not particularly sit with me the way I think Peele would have wanted it to. It felt like a move that was trying to be pretentious, but only ended up feeling meaningless. I wish I could give more detail.

One final positive before we move on. Over the years, many movies have used their title through the script in such a way that stands out. In “Back to the Future,” there is a scene where Doc exclaims he will send Marty back to the future. In “Better Off Dead,” there is a literally a song with the lyrics “better off dead” that plays a prominent role. I will also go back to “Jurassic Park” and the massive scale it provides. One scene where that tactic comes into play has the character of John Hammond magnificently say “Welcome to Jurassic Park.” I think “Nope” officially takes the crown for best use of a movie title in its own movie. I think that as long as I shall live, there will NEVER be a better use of this concept. The moment one particular character says “Nope,” the entire auditorium cackled like hyenas, and for good reason.

In the end, “Nope” gets a yep from me. This is not Jordan Peele’s best film. In fact, in some ways, it might be his worst, but it is also the most fun of the ones he has made. It is definitely one I would watch on a Friday night if I want to look at something massive. The cinematography, which is done by the great Hoyte van Hoytema, is some of the best of the year. The night shots look beautiful, the climax looks incredible, and there is one particular money shot I would love to have as a desktop photo if I were more willing to customize my setup. “Nope” is a good time and it is fun to look at. But unlike “Get Out,” this is perhaps less likely to be nominated for Best Picture. Although if the Academy Awards took place right now, Keke Palmer should get an acting nomination per my opinion. I am going to give “Nope” a 7/10.

“Nope” is now playing in theatres everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed my thoughts on “Nope,” be on the lookout for more reviews! Pretty soon I will share my thoughts on “DC League of Super-Pets” and “Vengeance.” If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Nope?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite summer blockbuster of all time? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022): A Bloated, Mind-Melting, Exciting Ride Through the Multiverse

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is directed by Daniels, the same team behind the 2016 film “Swiss Army Man” featuring Daniel Radcliffe as a dead body who communicates by farting. And if you think that is weird, you are not ready for “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” possibly the greatest title in film history. That said, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” stars Michelle Yeoh (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Crazy Rich Asians), Stephanie Hsu (The Path, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Ke Hey Quan (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Goonies), Jenny Slate (The Secret Life of Pets, Gifted), Harry Shum Jr. (Glee, Shadowhunters), James Hong (Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise, Blade Runner), and Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween, Knives Out). This film, or in a case like the one we are dealing with, this drug trip, centers around the character of Evelyn Quan Wang, a Chinese immigrant who owns a laundromat with her husband. When financial stability becomes an issue for Wang, she suddenly finds herself on a journey through the multiverse where she learns about the many lives she could have lived. She uses this newfound knowledge to hopefully save her own universe, along with several others, from a cataclysm.

I want to start off this review by reminding you that I waited a couple months to see this movie. I knew what it was. I knew the plot. I knew that a lot of people liked it. But due to other commitments, other movies, not to mention planning to see it once or twice only to have my plans scrapped, I had to wait on “Everything Everywhere All at Once” like I was in line at comic con. Fun fact, I am at a time of my life where I typically enjoy going to the movies by myself. I have nothing against going with friends, but there are many cases where I would prefer going to the cinema alone because as a reviewer, this allows me to concentrate harder on what’s on screen. But one reason why I waited so long to see “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is because if I wanted to go see this movie by myself, I could have. I would have probably had a good time. That said, this looked like a movie I had to see with someone else. So I invited my dad, told him I think he would like the film, and we were going to hopefully have a ball.

Without giving much detail, I think my previous sentiment is one to keep in mind, should you decide to watch “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” because it is a movie that is watchable on your own, but the more people you have around you, the better the experience will probably end up being. It is the same reason why comedy shows are better with sold out crowds. The laughter is that much more contagious.

Also I will remind you, this is a multiverse-spanning movie. The previous two Marvel Cinematic Universe movies have brought audiences into the multiverse in their own ways and have done ridiculous numbers in terms of the box office. Unlike those films, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is an original idea. Of those two previously indicated unoriginal ideas, one of them literally has the words “Multiverse of Madness” in the title. That said, “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” is THE REAL MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. Eat your heart out, Doctor Strange! I contend that “Everything Everywhere All at Once” could end up permanently owning the crown for the greatest multiverse-centric movie of all time. It is that good.

If you have been following me this year, I have talked about a specific idea within certain films. “CODA” and “Belle” are prime examples of this. That theme is a perfect bridging between extraordinary and ordinary. While those films showcase this idea to excellent degrees with a non-deaf, music-obsessed child living in a deaf family and a shy, rural-housed teenage girl entering a social media paradise where she becomes a star, these are not new ideas. Heroes always start off ordinary and then find ways to become extraordinary throughout their adventure. If they stayed ordinary, they would be one-dimensional or boring. But if you break down “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” it is not necessarily a film about saving the multiverse as much as it is about keeping a family together, keeping each other from going bizzerk. Because within the confines of alternate realities, mastering kung fu, superstardom, the main family of the film has to deal with the potential closure of their business, potential divorce, and as far as the parents are concerned, potential rebellion from the daughter.

Speaking of potential, I think “Everything Everywhere All at Once” had a ton of potential, and that potential was perfectly realized within this film’s small budget. For comparison, another recent multiverse-centric story, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” had a budget of $200 million. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” on the other hand… A non-sequel, original idea not based on any preexisting intellectual property, not set in a cinematic universe whatsoever, cost $25 million to make. That is nothing to sweat at by any means. $25 million is a lot of money. Plus, there are movies that came out this year that cost less to make. “Hustle,” the last movie I reviewed, was less expensive. But to be fair, it was more limited in its theatrical release. That said, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” supports the notion that smaller can be better. The more time you spend on crafting a compelling story and the less time you spend on the spectacle and paying Patrick Stewart to play Professor X again, the better the payoff.

Through her portrayal of Evelyn, Michelle Yeoh encapsulates what it is like to be a normal human being with financial issues. We see her trek through the film while her ordinary life continues to go down the crapper. Changes come in every which way and it is not only affecting her, but the people she knows. This movie plays around with the idea of one person seeing not only other versions of themselves, but their jealousy towards the lives the alternate selves tend to enjoy. Evelyn sees versions of herself that excel at kung fu or acting. If I saw myself in other universes living as say a successful singer or a baseball player, I would definitely consider rethinking my life choices or finding a way to embody my other selves.

Throughout the film’s runtime, we are heavily exposed to other members of the Wang family. Those who appear alongside Evelyn are her husband, Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), her daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu), and her father, Gong Gong (James Hong). Each character has their own individualities and quirks that make the film worthwhile. There is an incredible element of the film where we see the supposed differences between Evelyn and Joy in terms of how they live their lives, how they view the world. It makes for some entertaining moments of the film while also effectively progressing each character arc.

I also have to give a major shoutout to Jamie Lee Curtis, who gives an incredible performance as Deirdre Beaubeirdre, an IRS inspector who takes no nonsense whatsoever. I admire Jamie Lee Curtis as an actress, so I hope this is not taken the wrong way, but her character does such a great job at appearing so boring and yet so fiendish. She looks like she could ruin someone’s life in a snap. Of the film’s supporting characters, she is arguably the highlight.

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is an arguable contender to be the strangest and yet most ambitious film I have watched in my life. One of my biggest compliments I gave to “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is how they handled Benedict Cumberbatch’s variants from a looks perspective. When it comes to Evelyn in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” I would say a similar assessment applies. But the script and direction of “Everything Everywhere All at Once” gives Michelle Yeoh a greater excuse to provide a more solid, perhaps down to earth performance than the one Cumberbatch gave in his multiversal feature. There is so much that happens in this movie, not only in terms of the story, but the overall scope of… everything… At various points, the movie hinges to a precipice where things are almost completely out of control. There is a moment in this movie where I could see a lot of people thinking it is crazy enough, only to shock themselves in a matter of minutes with what comes up afterwards. If you are looking for a predictable movie, you have come to the wrong place. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is probably the most unpredictable movie I have seen since “Parasite.”

If you have not watched it yet, you need to check this movie out, and as much as I could go on about it, I am going to let you see for yourself, because if you are anything like my dad when he sat next to me in the theater, taking every single scene in… I think you should prepare to drop some unexpected f-bombs at the screen the moment you witness some of the wondrous sights this one of a kind feature seals within its doors.

In the end, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is one of the best movies I have ever seen. A24 is a crazy distributor. I either truly like a movie from them, which was the case with say “Eighth Grade” or “The Disaster Artist.” Or I attempt to make a case as to why some of their films are atrociously awful like “Midsommar” or “Zola.” There never feels like there is an between at times. And even if there is, I still have something supposedly notable or passionate to say about their films. Even “The Last Movie Star,” starring Burt Reynolds, which I thought was the definition of mediocre, elicited a passionate reaction out of me as to why I did not particularly think that film was the best. “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which is certainly above mediocre, is no exception to letting me bring out the passion. Oddly enough, I have a feeling I could somehow end up appreciating it more with a second viewing. If the jump after a second viewing is anything like the one I had for “Belle” recently, it could potentially be in the conversation for my top 5 movies of all time. If there is one movie that you should see by the end of the year, it is this one. I am going to give “Everything Everywhere All at Once” a 10/10.

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is now playing in theaters and is available to watch on VOD.

Thanks for reading this review! Stay tuned for my next reviews, which are for the brand new blockbusters, “Jurassic World: Dominion” and “Lightyear!” I watched both movies this week and I am excited to share my thoughts! If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Everything Everywhere All at Once?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite movie that you saw this year? New or old, doesn’t matter. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Adam Project (2022): Ryan Reynolds and Shawn Levy Team Up with Netflix to Deliver Another Excellent Collaboration

“The Adam Project” is directed by Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum, Real Steel) and stars Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, The Hitman’s Bodyguard), Walker Scobell, Mark Ruffalo (Dark Waters, The Avengers), Jennifer Garner (Love, Simon, Peppermint), Catherine Keener (The Croods, Incredibles 2), and Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy, Avatar) in a film where a man named Adam travels back in time and comes in contact with his 12-year-old self. Together, they join forces as they fight to protect time as they know it.

One of my favorite movies of the last year is “Free Guy,” directed by Shawn Levy. The director defined my childhood with the first two “Night at the Museum” movies so I owe him a debt of gratitude. And to know that Levy and Reynolds would be getting together for another teamup after their last totally epic, bonkers outing, was nothing short of exciting. I thought it was somewhat unfortunate that this outing would not be as big of a theatrical release given how this is a Netflix film, but I was still convinced to watch it. After all, I ended up earning a free link to watch “The Adam Project” over a week and a half before the film actually came out. So I watched it, gathered my thoughts, and now I am ready to share them with you all.

Let me just start off with this, “Free Guy” ended up being one of the most gutbusting and smile-inducing movies I watched in the past year. But I also recognize that it is probably not for everyone, even though it ended up being one of the rare action films my mom actually somehow ended up watching from start to finish. But even though these are two different movies, I think if you enjoyed some of the choices and styles represented in “Free Guy,” I think you are going to enjoy some of the choices and styles represented in “The Adam Project.” I do not think “The Adam Project” is going to win Best Picture, but it is a movie that for me, accomplished all of its goals it set out to acquire. It was action-packed, pretty, funny, and ended up having a little bit of heart. Basically, if you combined some of the bigger movies of the 1980s like “Back to the Future” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” with “Free Guy,” you basically get “The Adam Project.”

Think about it. All these properties have time travel, the protagonists have to save the timeline in addition to civilization and themselves, and the combo between young and older Adam kind of gives the same vibe I get when looking at the T-800 and young John Connor in “Terminator 2.” Basically, this is “Free Guy” without all the licensed crap attached, which may be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it. I was extremely satisfied to see Ryan Reynolds holding a Captain America shield in “Free Guy,” but let’s just say I am glad that not every movie in existence is like that.

Ryan Reynolds does wield a lightsaber in this movie. …Kind of. So there’s that.

“The Adam Project” takes its time and sticks to its main characters, there are no humungous cameos, although there are plenty of notable actors in the film. For a film like this, I prefer that. In fact, there are one or two lines in here that I almost feel like are a dig on movie watchers in general, but also a select few that specifically target the stereotypical moviegoer who usually shells out a few bucks for the latest comic book movie, waits two months, shells out another few bucks for an even newer comic book movie, and so on. It’s all part of the lovable chemistry between these two Adams, and speaking of which, we are going to talk about one of them.

This movie is the acting debut of Walker Scobell, and for a first role, Scobell is given a lot to do. And he does all of it well. All of his lines feel authentic, he’s got the right level of hyperactivity for a role like this, I think as far as a young Ryan Reynolds interpretation goes, the hair’s an interesting choice, but we’ve all made altering choices in life. Scobell is an actor I want to keep my eye on, and “The Adam Project” is hopefully the start of a lively career. Ryan Reynolds is also a terrific addition to this dynamic duo. There is a really compelling scene when they first meet, I totally buy into their relationship from the getgo. I believe everything they’re saying. I believe they’re the same person. All I want is for them to stand together a bit longer.

One of the best and worst parts of “The Adam Project” is the visual effects. Like many modern science fiction movies, there are a ton of polished, crisp ships flying around everywhere. There’s a lot of computer generated detail that goes into a movie like this. So when there’s a battle in the air, that provides for an entertaining experience, and one that makes me envious of those who ultimately end up watching this film theatrically. On the other hand, there is a fair share of visuals that look like they belong in a video game. Now, I like video games. Video games are fun. But there is a clear difference between how things should look in a movie and how things should look in a video game. Some of the weaponry in this film looks like stereotypical sci-fi nonsense, and some of it works, but there’s also some that look like they would never exist in real life. They have colors that are almost invisible to the naked eye.

I think the big problem I have with “The Adam Project,” as nitpicky as it may sound, happens to be the scenes where the color palette is as bright as it can be. While this bright color grade matches the lighthearted fun the film has, it also makes the film look too clean and dream-like. It’s like every other scene has too much blue or too much green. Or the lens is permanently soaked in water. It kind of reminds me of what some people say about the “Star Wars” prequels compared to the originals, noting that the prequels are much cleaner than their original counterparts. I wonder if maybe the film changed the color grading a little, or maybe if they shot it in a different format, perhaps on film, that we would have a look that felt more believable. At times, the film reaches for the stars and goes for something that almost resembles a fantasy vibe, but I also want a tad of realism.

Although let’s end this review on a happy note. I am also delighted and surprised to confirm how emotionally charging this film is. I’ve talked about about the two Adams and their connection to each other. But the one thing that I should note to the parents or families reading this, I think the characters will resonate with you in one way or another because of their family dynamic. I’m not just talking about Walker Scobell and Ryan Reynolds, but Mark Ruffalo and Jennifer Garner play roles that feel occasionally nostalgic and charming to take in, especially when you have one or two of the Adams by their side. The end of the movie really got to me, especially as someone who may relate to the young Adam, but not in the way that he experiences life. Let’s just say that I did not go through a family tragedy in the way he did, but I empathize with him at his age for what happened AFTER said family tragedy. This movie is wonderful, watch it if you can.

In the end, “The Adam Project” is a film that feels like it was made in the 1980s, but with a 2022 flair. And I mean that in a good way, because the 1980s have brought some pretty kick-ass movies. I love the connection between young and old Adam, the supporting cast for the most part brought plenty of fun and charisma to the final product, and I had my eyes glued to the screen the whole time. Shawn Levy and Ryan Reynolds are supposedly making “Deadpool 3” together if all goes according to plan. You know what? If it is bound to be as good as the last two movies they made, sign me up! Because “Free Guy” was awesome and now, months after that movie came out, I’m going to give “The Adam Project” an 8/10!

“The Adam Project” is now available to watch anytime on Netflix for all subscribers.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed this review, be sure to stay tuned for my reviews of “The Batman” and “Turning Red,” coming soon! But before that, ON SUNDAY, MARCH 27TH! PREPARE FOR THE FOURTH EDITION OF THE LEAST MOST IMPORTANT AWARDS CEREMONY OF ALL TIME! THE 4TH ANNUAL JACKOFF AWARDS! Again, that’s SUNDAY, MARCH 27TH! It’s the same day as that other ceremony that refuses to present the entire Film Editing category. If you want to vote for Best Picture, vote here! That said, if you enjoyed this post, follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account and check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Adam Project?” What did you think about it? Or, what are your thoughts on “Free Guy?” Which of these two films do you like better? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Moonfall (2022): A Small, Lifeless Step for All

“Moonfall” is directed by Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, Godzilla) and stars Halle Berry (Catwoman, Extant), Patrick Wilson (The Phantom of the Opera, Watchmen), John Bradley (Game of Thrones, The Brothers Grimsby), Michael Peña (Tower Heist, Ant-Man), Charlie Plummer (Looking for Alaska, Words on Bathroom Walls), Kelly Yu Wenwen (Young Pea, Lost Promise), and Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games, The Undoing). This film is exactly as the title sounds. The moon is falling.

And it sucks. *Ends review*

Okay, okay, there’s more to it than that, but that’s the backbone here. Basically, for some established reason, the moon, which has been circling alongside the Earth for years, goes out of orbit, and decides one day, “Screw everything, I’m gonna kiss the planet goodbye!” So it is up to a few scientists to figure out how to save the earth before the moon destroys all life and civilization as we know it.

Director Roland Emmerich on the set of Columbia Pictures’ 2012. The action film will be released November 13, 2009.

They say that certain filmmakers who have been around in the industry for awhile get attached to their genres or consistencies. For Martin Scorsese, that would be mob movies. For Michael Bay, that would be explosive action movies. For Roland Emmerich, that would be disaster movies. When it comes to this genre, he is no stranger. He’s done movies such as “White House Down,” “2012,” and “Indepndence Day” along with its sequel. I have not seen every single one of these films, but I nevertheless have an expectation when it comes to Roland Emmerich. None of these films are Shakespearean, nor are they a Best Picture contender. When it comes to my expectations for “Moonfall,” I did not walk in the door asking for a whole lot. I just wanted to have fun while the moon crashes the Earth. Sure, you have your humanized storyline, but if you make the characters relatable enough, it will be worthwhile in the end.

“Moonfall” is something I’d rather witness through fiction as opposed to reality. But it does not change the fact that “Moonfall” is one of the worst science fiction films I have seen in a long time.

Although, slight digression, I think getting crushed by a moon would be a cool way to die. And after seeing this movie, I hope one falls sooner than later.

“Moonfall” is what happens when you write a script for Syfy channel original movie and somehow get in touch with someone who promises they’ll put a little more money into it. This movie has big stars, big effects, but a small plot. That is if there even is one. If you go to the Wikipedia page for “Moonfall,” there’s a whole section that is titled “Plot,” which explains everything that happens in the movie. Honestly, I think Wikipedia is being generous. When it comes to “Moonfall,” Roland Emmerich partially financed the film himself. This makes sense, given how he’s probably done well financially due to the success of some of his previous films, and the fact that the script for this movie is probably not as memorable as one or two of his previous films. I’ve seen “Independence Day.” It knew what it was, it did not take itself too seriously, and it was fun for what it was. “Moonfall” is actually so bad that I would have been okay if they killed off all the main characters. Almost none of them are interesting. Some of them are flat out annoyingly written, and whenever I watched JC Bradley’s character, I almost felt bad that he had to take on this role. There were a couple okay lines out of him, but around the halfway point of the movie, I felt like I was watching a high school play written by the robots from “The Mitchells vs. the Machines.” Forced jokes! Lazy lines! It’s cringe all the way to the moon! The screenplay is one small step for man, and one giant leap for the moon to waltz through the stars to end civilization as we know it. Both literally and figuratively.

I will admit, I’m an aspiring screenwriter, and I’m one of those people who doesn’t really have a whole concrete plan on how my scripts go from start to finish. Some of my ideas are made up as they go along, because I want to project the feeling I would have as an audience member who would want to be surprised and see something they haven’t seen before. First off, the concept of the moon falling is not new. I cannot recall it being done in a movie, but I think some of my viewers would know that it was once done in a “Legend of Zelda” game. And even though I never finished the game (which may play into my mediocre time management skills), I think that moon-falling story is better. The point is, the screenplay for “Moonfall” barely feels like it was planned. You can perhaps write a movie with little planning and have it be great, but Roland Emmerich took the film in a haywire, offish, and unexpectedly disastrous direction that left me with my jaw open and my hands over my head. There was a point during the second half of this film, where I simply stopped caring.

I could write something about the characters in this review. But in actuality I don’t feel like I can. There is not a single individual I care about enough to say they were worth watching, as much effort as some of the actors put into their performances. I wonder if any of the actors actually wanted to be in this movie for a single reason other than the paycheck.

You know a movie is bad when you try to think of anything positive to say about the characters, and not only is there almost nothing that comes to mind, but you can’t even remember their name! I don’t think it would be a surprise that I would have to go back to IMDb a couple times and look up a certain character’s name just to include them in the review. But “Moonfall” is a prime example of a movie where I’d have to do that for every character for all the wrong reasons. They’re lucky they’ve got a couple recognizable faces in this like Halle Berry and Michael Peña. If I were doing this review on video, Jeremy Jahns style, I would be in front my green screen yelling at the camera before the next jumpcut, freezing, then turning my head over to my phone to see what I’ve forgotten.

“Moonfall” proves that sometimes bigger isn’t always better. This movie has too many characters that it asks you to latch onto. The script doesn’t serve any of these characters properly. And they’re all directed like this movie was written with intentional 1990s cheese. Yes, “Independence Day” worked in the 1990s. I need “Moonfall” to work in the 2020s. I went into this movie simply wanting the moon to wreak havoc over the earth, and maybe they’ll come up something to make that concept work. Without spoiling anything, the film tries to give some reason as to why everything is happening, but that reason is arguably the biggest insult of the movie. Yes, the “characters” develop and alter, but they do so in a way that made me want to sucker punch my popcorn. This movie honestly would have been better had Roland Emmerich popped out of the screen and cut the off all the heads of everyone in my auditorium. At least in that reality, we’d probably never get to experience the space oddity, and that’s putting it lightly, that is “Moonfall.”

In the end, “Moonfall” is an insult to science fiction. The effects look okay at times, and that may be the one big plus of the film. It could work as a tech demo. There may be one or two lines in the movie that could get a laugh, but by the end of the film I was rolling my eyes way more than I was slapping my knees. It’s crazy to think that in the same weekend we get an epic sci-fi movie, which cost over $150 million, about the moon potentially destroying Earth, where people go up into space to see if they can solve the problem, “Jackass Forever” is the movie that looks like it was made for smart people. Gosh, that was so funny. Aren’t space movies supposedly taken a bit more seriously than guys destroying their balls? I’m not asking for all my space movies to be the same, but I just want them to be good. And clearly Roland Emmerich failed the assignment. I’m going to give “Moonfall” a 2/10.

“Moonfall” is now playing in theaters everywhere, tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed my review for “Moonfall,” be sure to look out for more upcoming reviews including one I’ve got for “Death on the Nile” and another one for “Uncharted.” Also, I want to apologize to everyone who follows my personal account on Instagram. I share my latest posts on the platform, but I completely forgot to do so for one of my recent film reviews, and that is “Belfast.” So for those who have not read that review yet, feel free to do so! 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 “Moonfall?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Roland Emmerich film? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Matrix Resurrections (2021): I Want to Free My Mind From This Glitchy, Nostalgic Mess

“The Matrix Resurrections” is directed by Lana Wachowski, who was one of the two directors behind the original three “Matrix” films. This film stars Keanu Reeves (Point Break, John Wick), Carrie-Anne Morris (Memento, Fido), Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Aquaman, The Trial of the Chicago 7), Jessica Henwick (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Game of Thrones), Jonathan Groff (Mindhunter, Frozen), Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother, The Smurfs), Priyanka Chopra Jonas (Quantico, The White Tiger), and Jada Pinkett Smith (Madagascar, Scream 2). This film once again follows Thomas Anderson, who this time around, is living in our world as an award-winning video game designer. When faced with an incident that makes him question his own reality, Mr. Anderson is faced with the choice to either stay in the world he knows or go down the rabbit hole.

“The Matrix” is one of my favorite science fiction films of all time. Between the stunning visuals, the well-executed cliché of good vs. evil, and the casting of most of the characters, although I do think Keanu Reeves has given better performances, it is a recipe for digital mastery. There is a saying in Hollywood that nothing ever dies. Disney constantly remakes their previous animations like “The Lion King” and “Mulan” into live-action counterparts. Universal is unlikely going to stop pumping out “Fast & Furious” movies as long as they make millions at the box office. As for Warner Bros., they’ve got another “Batman” movie coming out this year! It’s not always about how many new, innovative ideas Hollywood could come up with, it is now sometimes about how many old, previously done ideas they can regurgitate and milk until there is nothing left. Five or so years ago, I thought “The Matrix” would be one of those films that doesn’t get that treatment in this day and age. After all, Keanu Reeves is already busy building another franchise of his own, specifically “John Wick,” on top of other things, and “The Matrix Revolutions” ended in such a way that the entire story could be rather impossible to continue. The movie, sorry if you’re spoiled nearly two decades later, ends with peace being achieved with Neo’s sacrifice. But of course, when they say “nothing ever dies,” they mean NOTHING.

Neo is back and better than ev–

Wait… Sorry, I got a bit overhyped for a sec there.

*Poe Dameron voice* Somehow Neo returned.

Just, why? Why did they make this? I mean, let me put it this way. The trailers for this film were not that bad. It gave me an okay impression of what’s to come. And if I had to choose between a full-on reboot of the “Matrix” franchise and a fourth installment, I think I’d prefer a fourth installment because I feel like this is a franchise that would be hard to see altered in such a significant way. It’s like if they tried to remake “Star Wars.” There are moments and concepts ingrained in my mind that it would be off-putting or unsettling to see them retold or changed for a new generation. The reality of “The Matrix Resurrections” is that it is not just a sequel, it’s partially a retelling of the original “Matrix” film, but also a flat out nostalgia fest that overstays its welcome. The movie is a sequel to a story that quite literally changed movies forever. It’s been parodied, memed, and when it comes to movies with green tint, this is usually the first, if not the only one that comes to mind. So what do they do in this sequel? They basically make fun of the Hollywood system. As mentioned, Thomas Anderson is a game designer, and he has essentially made a video game version of his journey in the matrix. So… Warner Bros. wants to inevitably make a fourth game. Part of me thinks that Lana Wachowski did not want to come back to do this film, for all I know I could be putting words in her mouth, but she’d rather tell a story she’d be proud of than see Warner Bros., the studio behind the past three “Matrix” films in addition to this current one, take a dump on the franchise she and Lilly created.

Also, is it a coincidence that this film technically has the same villain as “Space Jam: A New Legacy?”

I will say though, I was somewhat surprised on how much I liked Keanu Reeves in this film. Maybe it’s kind of because the world is experiencing Keanu fever, and he’s kind of on trend right now, but nevertheless. He’s been in a lot of movies recently including some animations like “Toy Story 4,” he’s John Wick, he was in “Cyberpunk 2077,” and often seen as one of the most genuine guys in the industry. One of the critiques I would have to give to “The Matrix” back in the early days is that Keanu Reeves did not carry that much charisma. At the same time though, when I look back, one could make the argument that Reeves’s lack of charisma may be intentional in order to highlight the mundane, everyday life his character has to go through. I mean, if I worked at “McDonald’s” and were responsible for cleaning the restrooms, I think after some time I would not show as much expression or emotion to other people. As much as this is based on preference, I liked seeing a more expressive Neo. It gave him more personality, and Reeves’s performance reveals that to a tee. Although I do think if I had to give one significant flaw, it’s that the script can make Keanu Reeves feel a bit repetitive at times. I feel like he spent a lot of the movie in denial, giving Reeves little variety on how to differentiate his acting method.

There were a couple roles this time around that were recast, specifically Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and Smith (Jonathan Groff). Both actors obviously have their differences from the originals and if you had to ask me, I think the original interpretations were done a tad better. Maybe that’s a comment based on nostalgia, but I think both original performers delivered a grittier and darker performance that felt more fitting for a grittier and darker environment. The new kids on the block seem to deliver performances that almost feel comparatively light-hearted. “The Matrix” has always had its moments of levity and fun, but it was also serious, and this shift in tone looking back is a tad jarring. The actors did well with the material they were given, but they also had big shoes to fill.

I have waited almost a month to watch this movie. I almost went to a press screening, but I ended up skipping it. I almost went one or two other weekends, but I skipped those as well. It was not worth the wait. I refused to watch this on HBO Max because first off, I want to support the cinemas, and second, I’ve always wanted to see a “Matrix” film on the big screen. But looking back, the film I should have watched on the big screen should have been one of the prior three “Matrix” installments.

There are positives to give to “The Matrix Resurrections.” The action is occasionally cool to look at, although nowhere near as engaging as any of the other three films. The visuals do look pretty as ever. The new supporting character Bugs, played by Jessica Henwick, was honestly rather well conceived. But the film for me took some time to properly follow, even with callbacks to other movies that I recently caught up on. It feels like it occasionally has ADHD. I think of all the performances Keanu Reeves gave, this is easily my favorite one in terms of “The Matrix” franchise. I highly doubt we’ll be getting a “Matrix 5” anytime. I mean, if we were, I would not be against it as long as they tried. But going back to the old saying of Hollywood, “nothing ever dies,” I hope Hollywood acknowledges this and never makes a “Back to the Future Part IV.” Will it make money? Sure. But unless it has a PHENOMENAL, GAME-CHANGING idea on where to take the characters and franchise, I think I will end up feeling dissatisfied. As much as I am not always clamoring for remakes, if I were tied to a chair had to pick between a “Back to the Future” remake or a “Back to the Future Part IV” in order to set myself free, I think a “Back to the Future” remake would be the lesser of the two evils, it’s a much bigger sandbox allowing for more opportunities. Plus, I don’t think Michael J. Fox is doing much acting these days…

Hollywood, I know you appreciate money. But your audiences also appreciate coherence. Please keep this in mind.

In the end, “The Matrix Resurrections” is a computer virus of a flick. It shows the problem of Hollywood taking franchises of the past and regurgitating them without a second thought. Again, a lot of the original crew returned, including Lana Wachowski, so for all I know, maybe everyone was happy to be back doing something they’ve done before, but this film felt unfulfilling, slightly confusing, and too focused on referencing the good old days as opposed to creating something new. I remember when the reviews started coming in and some people compared this film to “The Last Jedi,” saying it is bold. Honestly, it never felt that way. If anything, it feels more like “The Force Awakens,” or more technically, “The Force Awakens” from the points of view in which it is often criticized. I never agreed with everyone who said that “The Force Awakens” spends too much time ripping off the original “Star Wars” or its trilogy. It used those callbacks well and retreaded old story elements to perfection. “The Matrix,” just like “Star Wars,” changed the game for its genre, but compared to “The Force Awakens,” “Resurrections” fails to recapture that amazing feeling that the original “Matrix” gave me after watching it. Granted, the original “Matrix” holds a special place for me, because it was my first R rated feature, but it is also a damn good one. I just wish “Resurrections” were the same. I’m going to give “The Matrix Resurrections” a 4/10.

“The Matrix Resurrections” is now playing in theaters and is available for a limited time for all subscribers on HBO Max.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed my review for “The Matrix Resurrections,” good news! I have more “Matrix” reviews waiting for you! Why not check out my reviews for “The Matrix,” “The Matrix Reloaded,” and “The Matrix Revolutions!” I did these as part of an ongoing review series, titled “The Matrix Reviewed,” as part of Scene Before’s 5th anniversary. I cannot promise I have many older films that I’ll be reviewing in 2022, but… I might have something. We’ll see. I want to focus on newer films this year for the most part. If you want to see more reviews like this one, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out and like the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Matrix Resurrections?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a sequel or remake that you think should NEVER happen? Let me know down below! Or don’t… Maybe you shouldn’t give Hollywood any ideas. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021): Sony and Marvel’s Thrilling, Emotional Love Letter to Three Generations of the Webhead *SPOILER-FREE*

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) - IMDb

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is directed by Jon Watts, who also directed the previous two MCU-set “Spider-Man” installments, which also have home in the title. I’m assuming if they make a fourth movie, it’s gonna be called “Grand Slam?” You know, instead of home run? Four?

Anybody?

Who cares?

Anyway, this film stars Tom Holland (Cherry, Onward), Zendaya (Space Jam: A New Legacy, Dune), Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek: Into Darkness, Sherlock), Jacob Batalon (Blood Fest, Let it Snow) Jon Favreau (Chef, Solo: A Star Wars Story), Jamie Foxx (Soul, Ray), Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse, Aquaman), Alfred Molina (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time), Benedict Wong (Annihilation, Raya and the Last Dragon), Tony Revolori (Dope, The Grand Budapest Hotel), and Marisa Tomei (Parental Guidance, Anger Management). This film revolves around Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man, who has to deal with the newfound dangers that lie ahead now that his identity has been revealed, in addition to being connected to the recent event of Mysterio’s drone swarm in London, which has been interpreted differently by the general public. When Peter seeks Dr. Strange’s help to make everyone forget he was Spider-Man, the spell to make such a thing happen goes wrong, villains from other universes arrive, and it is up to Peter to do the right thing before the dangers of one universe then become the dangers of another.

Alright guys, it is that time again. A big movie in December. Although this time around, it’s not in the “Star Wars” franchise. Still huge. That being said, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is the biggest movie of the year. I should note the box office suggests that this film is enormous, but there are still people who have not seen the film. I know at least a couple. With that being said, I will note that this review is spoiler-free. I am going to talk about certain points in the film that stand out, but I’m not going to go into deeper plot points. If you have not seen this movie and plan to see it, I can tell you that this review is safe to read.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is a follow-up to “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Spider-Man: Far from Home.” I have to say that when it comes to the first film, it is slightly more enjoyable than I remember it being. But given Spider-Man’s excellent writing in “Captain America: Civil War,” the writing for that film felt like a step down. I really liked Vulture. Peter’s chemistry with Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) was charming. I even liked Liz in that film. I still think the film has logic issues when it comes to how Peter’s suit works and how Tony Stark would want it to work, but the film is still decent enough to pass the time. When it comes to “Spider-Man: Far from Home,” that film felt like a step up. Jake Gyllenhaal did a great job as Mysterio. I liked Ned a bit better this time around compared to the original. Plus it was nice to see Spider-Man somewhere other than New York for a change. Plus, the end of the film promised a fantastic setup for what would ultimately become “No Way Home.”

When it comes to “No Way Home,” is it a thumbs up or a thumbs down?

I think neither. I’d say TWO thumbs up.

Now, like almost everyone else, I should note that my anticipation and my excitement for “No Way Home” was high. Not as much as “Dune,” but still high. But I was also nervous. Because the film promised massive multiversal shenanigans, which sounds great. I should note… It SOUNDS great. During the fall as we built up to this film’s release, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” in my mind sounded like it could be one of two things. It’s either going to be the best movie ever, or the worst movie ever, and nowhere in between. In crossover-speak, is it going to be the next “Infinity War?” Or is it going to be the next “Space Jam: A New Legacy?” God that movie was awful. Thankfully, upon leaving the theater, I can confirm that I felt excited to go see the movie again in less than 24 hours, and my mind literally melted on the way home from how exciting this movie was to watch.

This film has a ton of villains ranging from Doc Ock to Electro, but it’s not like they’re just there for nostalgia purposes. Granted, at the end of the day, this film is sort of a tribute to the Spider-Man character and all the stories that came before this one. Anyone can put in a ton of cool characters and have them fight against Spider-Man. Heck, this movie could be Spider-Man vs. Godzilla vs. Agent Smith vs. Ron Burgundy, but it does not guarantee a good movie. It’s a basic case of concept vs. reality. The concept is great, but the reality could suck. But here’s the truth about all these villains…

Jamie Foxx’s Electro was written ten times better than he was written in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” Now, I will admit, they did kind of highlight a specific aspect about him from that film, specifically how Max was a nobody, which I thought had some okay setup before he was affected by a bunch of eels. But as we see him enter this universe, I could really tell that he was confused, he was concerned, and had no idea what was going on. They’ve even given him a new costume, which may be for story purposes, sure, but of course, who doesn’t want to sell more toys? Why do you think they gave 3PO a red arm in “The Force Awakens?”

My favorite villain of Raimi’s “Spider-Man” films was always Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock. I feel like even though his character was truly at the end of the day, an evil mastermind, he also had a heart. He went through tragedy the same way Peter did in those movies when he lost Uncle Ben. Only in the case of Doc Ock, he used his tragedy for evil, partially for a reason beyond his control. Even though he terrorized New York City, I feel bad for him, looking back. Plus, his arms are among some of the best practical effects ever. As for how he’s handled in this movie, I like the way they went about exploring his character’s newfound questions. After all, when you enter another universe, everything feels completely strange. Although when they first introduced him, they had a potential plot hole that could have affected how I viewed the entire movie that was corrected about ten to twenty minutes later. Glad they touched up on that. In this film, instead of his arms being practical, they were CGI, and I honestly could barely tell the difference. They did a really good job at making Doc Ock fit into a universe like this, even though it’s really the same character as another one.

But if you’re going to ask me who I think gives the single greatest performance out of all the film’s villains, I think that would have to be Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin. Now I always sensed that Dafoe enjoyed playing the character of Norman Osborn and being a part of the “Spider-Man” franchise. Even after his character died in “Spider-Man” (2002) he came back for the sequels, and there’s also a bonus feature where Alfred Molina is pranked by Dafoe, wearing the Doc Ock tentacles, trying to motivate Molina to give the greatest performance possible. Part of this movie centers around Osborn struggling with his inner self, which is not new for him, and I feel like we get so many layers to his character. We see his bewilderment of the world around him. We see him conflict over power and normalcy, and I think his dark side is more evident than ever. Whenever he does something truly horrific in this film, not only is it well written, I think it may deliver the best performance I have seen out of a Spider-Man villain in a long. Long. Long. Long time. I really liked the Green Goblin in the 2002 “Spider-Man” movie. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” arguably made him even better.

Now I will say that there are a couple other villains in this film, including Sandman and Lizard. Of the film’s villains, those two were the weakest, but they were still better than a lot of the villains we get in the MCU nowadays. I say that because a lot of the films in the MCU sometimes fail to heighten the villain and instead we get a cliche bad guy who just stands in the hero’s way. These are two are better than Ronan in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” And they’re especially better than Malekith in “Thor: The Dark World.” These two have some occasional funny lines, and I like Lizard’s reference to his master plan which Electro ended up making fun of. It’s not like they did not need to be in the movie, the movie is definitely cool with them and they do not end up doing anything offensive. But of all the villains in the film, Sandman and Lizard are the weakest links because they have the least depth. We get more time with Doc Ock and Goblin, therefore we have more opportunities to see depth for them, but for Sandman and Lizard, not so much.

But of course, this film belongs to the heroes. Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Ned, and MJ.

All of these actors who play the heroes are great and I think when it comes to Ned (center) in this movie, he’s kind of a bundle of joy. When I saw Ned for the first time in “Homecoming,” I thought he was annoying. I kind of grown to like him in that movie a little bit, because I kind of get the enthusiasm behind finding out your best friend is Spider-Man, but I think of these three movies, he had the worst writing because his questions can get excessive. To me, the writing in this film made the most sense of the three, although his storyline in “Far from Home” was hilarious. It’s one way to write teen love I guess. Although if I have one thing to say, it’s not a huge complaint, but it is something worth pointing out, something happens with Ned in this movie that is out of random chance. It was never something that was established that he could do, or something he learned. It just happened. I mean, if you watched the movie, they “teased” it a little, but kind of as a joke, nothing more. I guess foreshadowing is foreshadowing, even if it’s a throwaway joke.

Zendaya’s MJ is another character that to me evolved with time. In the first film, she felt overly snarky. In the second film, I got to know her a little better and I began to appreciate her as a character just a bit more. In this third film, we see her with Spider-Man from the start, and I think their chemistry has blossomed into something special. It is worth noting that all three live-action Spider-Men from Tobey Maguire to Andrew Garfield to Tom Holland all dated their character-based love interests at one point in real life. Maybe that’s why their chemistry all feels natural. There was a scene on a school rooftop, it’s in the trailer, that stood out to me as to why Holland and Zendaya work together. Although I was a bit surprised to see MJ reading a physical newspaper as opposed to some article on her phone. I dunno, just a stereotypical generational thing.

Doctor Strange is in this film as well, and judging by the trailers, his performance at first felt a little different from his previous outings in the MCU. Having seen the movie, and having remembered some of the other movies he’s been in, it actually feels somewhat consistent. Maybe it feels different because he’s communicating with teenagers, which may not be his forte. I may be making excuses, but I think if you’re an adult, you may have a way of communicating with teenagers in a slightly different tone than you would with your spouse or your boss. You know, unless your employer works at “LitDonald’s!” Keep it 100 with our Big Lit! Sauce me some of those yeet fries! Enjoy the LitRib for a limited time! Although when it comes to consistency, there is a one-liner out of Strange about birthday parties that feels wonderfully similar in tone to this exchange in “Infinity War.”

Dr. Stephen Strange: If we don’t do our jobs…

Tony Stark: What is your job, exactly, besides making balloon animals?

Dr. Stephen Strange: Protecting your reality, douchebag.

But of course, we need to talk about Tom Holland. Spider-Man stories have shown a balance between a hero struggling to maintain his friendships, his identity, while also trying to save the world. In the case of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” this balance is handled brilliantly. The film starts off right where the last one ended, and right off the bat we already see Spider-Man protecting what he has left of his identity, his love interest, and the people he knows. We already start off the movie with one of the worst possible things that could have happened to Peter Parker, and that’s just the beginning. We see him deal with controversy in school. Parker’s trying to find a lawyer. The people he loves are being hurt for reasons beyond their control. As we go through Spider-Man’s journey, the tragedy only builds up. And this is what makes Spider-Man a hero. When he goes to Doctor Strange to make everyone forget he’s Spider-Man, he’s not just looking out for himself, he’s looking out for the people around him. His friends, family, colleagues. There’s a subplot in the film where the trio are trying to get into college and that is only made harder through their connections to the battle in London.

I expected this film to be exciting. I expected this film to be fun. But part of me was not ready for how much emotion this movie packs. Now I figured there would be at least one emotional moment because it is the third film of a trilogy and that’s where certain ends are tied up for good and that sort of thing. This film has multiple powerful scenes and happenings that bring a balance between the expected excitement and the emotional weight. Tom Holland in this film honestly delivers one of the best performances of his career because of this. I don’t think he’ll be nominated for an Oscar, but by the end of the film, there’s a particular arc that is perfectly assembled and you don’t even need words for it. Just the expressions on his face alone make the scene perfect. You may know what I’m talking about when it comes around.

Although I do want to talk about one thing when it comes to the emotion. This is a spoiler-free review, so I will not go into detail. But the ending of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” despite its instant feeling of satisfaction, induction of a smile, and solid conclusiveness to certain characters, probably would have been made better if Peter did one thing to possibly prevent another thing from happening. If I did a spoiler review, I would expand on it. But again, I cannot. The point of me making this review is not to discuss every single plot point and detail. It is to convince my viewers as to whether they could make a formal decision on whether “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is worth seeing. I recommend you do, I think this is easily one of best “Spider-Man” films ever made. But I want my viewers to go into this film knowing as little as possible, but with enough details as to what I like, didn’t like, and maybe that will help them know whether or not this movie is for them. I would not instantly recommend this movie to my mom (although I would recommend Shang-Chi), but I do recommend a lot of you reading this should go check out “No Way Home” on the biggest screen you can.

I will also point out that this is Jon Watts’s third film in this trilogy, making him the first director to direct a complete trilogy in the MCU. Jon Favreau directed two installments for “Iron Man,” but Shane Black did the third. Joss Whedon did the first two “Avengers” films, but the next two ended up going to the Russo Brothers. When it comes to all three movies, they are solid. But the directing in these films do not really give him much of a chance to individualize himself. And as for this movie, I think Willem Dafoe’s face reveal, as exciting as it was, could have been handled slightly better. It was still exciting, but it was very quick. Although I think if you take into account the end of the film and the performances from just about everyone, this may be the best-directed film in the franchise. Everyone felt true to their characters and when came to Peter’s emotions, Watts likely knew exactly how to touch base with Tom Holland. I think after seeing this film, I am curious to see if there are any specific quirks Watts develops, but I nevertheless think he will do a good job with “Fantastic 4,” whenever that comes out.

One last thing before we move on, J.K. Simmons is back as J. Jonah Jameson. You saw the little snippet of him in the previous film, but now we have him here and the way they utilize him is perfect. For this modern era, his placement in the universe makes sense. He’s basically Alex Jones if he was trying to find a cure for his balding. After seeing this film, I am convinced that nobody else aside from J.K. Simmons can play J. Jonah Jameson. Debate over.

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

In the end, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is the best film in the Jon Watts trilogy. It’s a triumph for Tom Holland. It’s at the end of the day, a love letter to the character. My favorite “Spider-Man” movie is “Spider-Man 2,” and right below that would have to be this one. It’s that good. The movie has its flaws, but no movie’s perfect. I think the best part about “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is that it doesn’t just use all these previous characters and actors just for the sake of marketing. Granted, it definitely helps. But each villain had at minimum, the slightest of reason to be there. Even Sandman and Lizard. The first two “Spider-Man” films in the MCU happen to be about teenage Spider-Man dealing with teenage situations from crushes to school dances. This film, in my imagination, is literally Spider-Man attempting to push back a giant boulder of inconveniences and tragedies. And by the end of the film, I felt enough of its weight to make me care for everyone. If you like “Spider-Man,” you will love this movie. I don’t know if you will like it more depending on whether you have seen the other villains before, but that’s another debate for another time. Please check this film out, take your friends, take your family, take everyone. It’s best experienced with an audience, and there are some are some epic potential applause break moments depending on when and where you see this film. I’m going to give “Spider-Man: No Way Home” a 9/10.

To me, this kind of reminds me of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood…” because despite the glaring issues that such a movie has, I ended up giving it a 9/10. The reason for that is because those issues barely get in the way of all the other crazy sequences and crowd-pleasers of this film. The fan part of me wants to give a perfect score, but again, there’s some issues that keep that from happening. There’s the fan side of me and the critic side of me. Today, I have to be the critic. The film is an experience that I want erased from my memory in order to go back and witness again. For those reasons alone, I highly recommend you go watch this film in a theater. But reserve your tickets in advance, you’re gonna want the best seats.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! I want to let you guys know that I have more reviews coming up including one for “King Richard.” Stay tuned for that! If you want to see more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Spider-Man: No Way Home?” What did you think about it? Or, which Jon Watts-directed “Spider-Man” movie is your favorite? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Matrix Revolutions (2003): The Stylistic, Loud, and Occasionally Epic Finale to End the Green Jesus Trilogy

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! First off, I want to thank everyone for journeying with me through over five full years on Scene Before. It has been a pleasure to talk about all these classic franchises with you. Many of which are being done in correlation to something else, but I often enjoy going off the beaten path and talking about some older movies. Today we are concluding the final review series in this anniversary segment. A series that I like to call, “The Matrix Reviewed.” With that being said, it is time to talk about the third installment to the “Matrix” franchise, “The Matrix Revolutions.” Here’s the story. “The Matrix” has been a widely welcomed and celebrated film that has been considered a modern classic. Then came “The Matrix Reloaded,” which took a lot of the material from the original, repackaged it, expanded on some concepts, but it was not exactly memorable. Or if you ask me, in some cases it lost some of its meaning. I’m looking at you, “upgrades.” As the poster suggests, “everything with a beginning has an end.” Well, until Warner Brothers decides to cash in on nostalgia and make “The Matrix Resurrections,” but that review comes later. Now that the end is here, let’s talk about it!

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“The Matrix Revolutions” is directed by the Wachowskis, the same directors behind the previous two “Matrix” films and stars Keanu Reeves (Point Break, Johnny Mnemonic), Laurence Fishburne (Event Horizon, What’s Love Got to Do with It), Carrie-Anne Moss (F/X: The Series, Dark Justice), Hugo Weaving (Babe, The Interview), and Jada Pinkett Smith (Scream 2, A Different World). This film is the finale to the “Matrix” trilogy, and war is more prominent than ever! This film follows the people of Zion as they fend off invading machines and Neo, the once ordinary soul who became “the one,” tries to stop Agent Smith while also trying to win the war himself.

As mentioned in my review for the original “Matrix,” that film in particular was my first R rated movie. I watched “Reloaded” with my dad about a week and a half later, followed by “Revolutions” just over five months later. At the time I was 12 years old. Therefore, I had more of a concept of what a good and bad movie happened to be than say when I was seven. At the same time however, the reason why I was into “The Matrix” at the time is the same reason why I was into movies like “Star Wars” at the time, they were so visually fascinating and had sound that felt like they had a place beyond the comprehensions of life itself. Safe to say, I enjoyed all the “Matrix” films to some degree, with the first one obviously being my favorite. Now that I am getting to analytically look at these films all over again almost a decade later, I am coming up with affirmations that maybe I would not have had as a child. “The Matrix Reloaded” is action-packed as I remember it being, but story-wise, it lacks substance compared to the original. The new characters were not that interesting. And the upgrades thing kind of bothered me, despite the awesome fight scene where Neo on took on hundreds of Smiths at once in that courtyard.

But the past is the past, the point of this review is to look at what came after “The Matrix.” What came after “The Matrix Reloaded.” So what came after those two things? I’ll tell ya. Another sequel that doesn’t quite hold a candle to the original. Although if you ask me, I do think that this film is slightly more enjoyable than “Reloaded” for what it is. What makes the first film work so well is that despite taking place in the future, and despite taking place in a digital machine, there was a down to earth quality to it. This was shown in the characters, the action (even though it is obviously choreographed), and the comparison between the real world and the matrix world and showing how much more enhanced and kick-ass the latter happens to be.

One thing I noticed in this film compared to “The Matrix Reloaded” is that there is so much action in your face that the idea of story seems to take a backseat. Now this is not always a movie killer. If anything, this year’s “Godzilla vs. Kong” did a really good job at reminding people of why they came to see it. They did not come to see Millie Bobby Brown somehow miraculously make it into Hong Kong for no reason. They came to see giant monsters whopping each other’s asses, and that’s what the movie delivered. Only thing about that film, is that it kind of knew what it was. I feel like these “Matrix” sequels did a good job at taking half of what made the original good, while leaving another half to rot. The half that was included was obviously the visuals and action. The first film had a solid script and story, but I feel like those were left behind.

Although I will note that one of my personal highlights of the movie as we progress is the chemistry between Neo and Trinity, which has blossomed beautifully over the past three films. Even though I have had my critiques as to how Neo was directed in the first film, I do think one constant positive I had for him and the franchise is how he interacts with Carrie-Anne Moss. The relationship has developed from this one encounter in the original film to a charming romance. I HATED the way Neo handled bringing Trinity back to life in “The Matrix Reloaded.” It felt kind of cringeworthy, but nevertheless. The kiss was nice. In fact, I don’t know, I think if Neo just kissed Trinity without putting his hand inside her skin, I think that would have been a more satisfying way to see Trinity return from the dead. I know the heart is essential to live, but I think in this universe, it would have been a more pleasant and given what they’re going for with Neo, a more Christ-like sight.

Yep, there is plenty of Jesus symbolism in this film. If you get to the end of the film, they’re not even trying to hide it. It’s pretty much in your face.

I will say one thing about the end of the film, the final fight in “The Matrix Revolutions” is by far one of my favorites in film history. Now, I love the final fight in the first film, and I think if there is one thing that first fight did better, it would have been stakes. But when it comes to style, this final confrontation has it ALL. By the end, it’s not even a “Matrix” fight anymore and is more likely something out of “Dragonball Z.” This fight does something well that I forgot to mention in my other reviews. One of the signature things about the “Matrix” that I already hinted at in this review is the choreography. In some movies, if the choreography, it can sometimes detract from the film because it feels maybe otherworldly and takes away from the realism at hand. In the case of all three “Matrix” films, they did a really good job stylizing all the action to make every fight feel like a strategy game. As I look at Neo and Smith in this final fight, every single one of their movies feels less like them fighting and instead pushing buttons on a console controller to hopefully master the skill sets of their avatars. It feels incredibly computerized, which is ultimately what the Matrix happens to be. I really like that.

Also, the MUSIC. HOLY CRAP. This is one of the best written pieces of a score I’ve heard in a movie. I dare you not to drive in the rain with this song with a smirk on your eyes. I mean, oh my god. Technically speaking, this is one of my favorite elements of the film. Don Davis is practically unleashing a flame thrower onto all of his orchestral instruments. By the way, once you’re done with this review, go to YouTube and type in “Neodammerung.” It’s freaking awesome. Bill Pope, who has been involved with some of my favorite movies alongside the other two “Matrix” installments, delivers some of the best shots I have seen in a sci-fi film. In terms of style, this film is full of it, and it does not disappoint.

I will note one thing about the visuals of “The Matrix Revolutions” in comparison to the visuals of “The Matrix Reloaded.” Just to note, both films came out in 2003, within months of each other. I think when it comes to the visuals of “Revolutions,” it does a better job than “Reloaded” of not taking you back to 2003. Now, “Revolutions” is newer, it’s younger, but not by much. Keeping that in mind, in a franchise that has heavily tried to impress audiences through groundbreaking visual effects, I think my mind is more likely to harken back to the final battle in this film more than anything else. The fight against all the Smiths in “Reloaded” was great, but it felt like it was designed in a computer whereas the final fight in “Revolutions” to me bended the line just slightly between reality and fiction. For those reasons, I think both films may end up having a somewhat similar replay value, after all this franchise is not a bad one to binge, but “Revolutions” remains superior in terms of how well it holds up.

In the end, “The Matrix Revolutions” is an improvement over “The Matrix Reloaded,” but it ain’t no party like the one in 1999. There are positives in this film. The performances are great from everyone, even Keanu Reeves, who I have criticized in the past. The film has non-stop, exhilarating action, and it is VISUALLY STUNNING. Now again, this film came out in 2003. Therefore it is not as visually appealing as “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King,” but it is eye candy nevertheless. I could watch that final duel between Neo and Smith numerous times over and over. It’s shot wonderfully, and rendered nicely. It gets my thumbs up. If there were a little more substance, maybe the film would be better. But I do think this film is better than some people make it out to be. Maybe it’s because I did not grow up with it. It could just be a representation of my age. I was never part of the phenomenon, which makes me wonder how people will look at films like “Avengers: Endgame” in a matter of 15 years. Either way, I’m going to give “The Matrix Revolutions” a 6/10.

“The Matrix Revolutions” is available on VHS, DVD, HD DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K-Blu-ray! The film is also available on HBO, HBO Max, and Hulu.

Thanks for reading this review! If you want to read my reviews for “The Matrix” or “The Matrix Reloaded,” click the nearby links and check them out! I want to thank everyone for journeying with me through “The Matrix Reviewed,” where I talk about the three live-action “Matrix” films, and I also want to spread my appreciation to everyone who tuned in to any of my special series in honor of Scene Before’s five full years of being on the Internet. We had quite a year from “Mortal Kombat: Finish the Reviews,” “7 Days of Star Wars,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Chest of Reviews,” “Revenge of the Nerds: Nerds in Review,” “Ghostbusters: Before Afterlife,” and the series that has officially been concluded, “The Matrix Reviewed.” It’s been a heck of year and I want to thank all my readers for spending part of it on Scene Before. If you want to see more reviews like this, I will remind you that I will be coming with more thoughts on the latest films including “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” So much content, so little time! This year I will also be recapping my top 10 BEST and WORST films that I saw throughout the 12 month period. I don’t know if I’ll be doing it as early as usual, but we’ll see. I have a ton of movies to talk about, but I don’t even know if I’ll be able to get to all of them. Nevertheless, if you want to see this and more on Scene Before follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account. Also, check out my official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Matrix Revolutions?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite “Matrix” film? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!