The Vast of Night (2020): Makes For Good Radio, Or a Good Movie

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“The Vast of Night” is directed by Andrew Patterson, AKA James Montague or Junius Tully. Look up this guy on IMDb, the man has three names! This film stars Sierra McCormick and Jake Horowitz in a film set during the 1950s. Two people, a switch operator and a DJ behind a radio station uncover the mystery of a strange audio frequency that could end up changing the nature of their town.

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First off, if you’re reading this, happy second half of 2020! I cannot believe we actually made it this far as a society! Yippee! Second, this film came out at a bunch of festivals including Fantastic Fest, Chicago International, TIFF, and Slamdance (not to be confused with Sundance). Although it did not really grant much access to the viewing public until 2020. Given how there’s a big pandemic, it didn’t have all that much of a theatrical release. However, it did have a limited run at drive-ins so it managed to have some of that theatrical flavor. Having seen this movie, I think it’s a perfect fit for a drive-in given its vibe, how it’s set in the 1950s, and the color grading has a hint of that old-time feel. But I didn’t see “The Vast of Night” at a drive-in, I saw it for free on Amazon Prime, considering how the movie is marketed as an Amazon Original. Who can turn down a free movie?

Here’s the truth about 2020. It’s the f*cking WORST! I cannot believe that a year could have ever been this tragic and infuriating! You ever had a dream that you wanted to achieve in 2020? Guess what? Go home! Time to find a new dream! I could make a whole post about this, but instead, let’s stick with movies. Because otherwise I would have eradicated all of humanity through brutal anger. Actually, you know what? Let’s mix the two topics up. Not a bad idea! This is honestly what could arguably the single least satisfying and anger-inducing year for film that I have witnessed not just while doing Scene Before, but also my life. I am not watching as much new material as I have in the past. All the theaters are closed, and of the new movies I have seen, nothing stands out. The highest grade I gave this year for a new film was a 7/10. Let me just say something about “The Vast of Night…”

It might be my favorite movie of 2020 so far.

2020, this is what movies are! Screw “My Spy!” Forget “Scoob!” F*ck “The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson” to hell and back! “The Vast of Night” is a fun, engaging, and somewhat satisfying flick… That isn’t perfect, let me just be clear here.

Because it is 2020, the year of complaining, I’m gonna start off with some negatives. This is a 91 minute film. And surprisingly, it gets a little slow at times. When I look at the runtime of a film, I sometimes think “Oh wow! Ninety minutes? I can watch this in a breeze!” While “The Vast of Night” is not necessarily an exception to this belief, there are one or two scenes that I won’t specifically dive into, but they go on for a little longer than I would anticipate. There’s a lot of explanation to expose the happenings of the film and I get that exposition is a necessary part of storytelling, but it sort of felt like watching the 2019 Super Bowl, something that tried to have a fast pace but was missing something. This pacing problem did not ruin the movie, and I imagine if I saw this film at a drive-in like some people did, there’s a good chance that this complaint could be irrelevant, but it felt like there was one specific scene where a character drones on for a little too long.

The Vast of Night (2019) - IMDb

One of the standout things about this movie in general is that it comes from people I don’t know at all. The two stars, AKA Sierra McCormack and Jake Horowitz are people who I don’t really recognize from a lot of projects. The director, what do you call him? James Montague? Junius Tully? Andrew Patterson? Turd Ferguson? I looked this guy up on IMDb, this is currently his ONLY credit. This is his debut for directing, writing, producing, and if Andrew is ALSO known as Junius Tully and does not appear to be somebody else I should know, his debut for editing and being in the editorial department. Basically, it’s five debuts in one! A lot of times when I look at the credits of the film, maybe someone will write the film, they’ll also direct and produce the film, maybe play a role in it. It’s not every day that I see filmmakers do all these things at once though. Granted, if you look at acclaimed masters of the industry like Kevin Smith, Alfonso Cuarón, and the Coen Brothers, yeah they edit their own films. But it’s nice to have this mix, while also getting to see work from someone you haven’t really been exposed to yet.

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And I would imagine that prior to making this film, Andrew Patterson has had some proper training within the art. When it comes to editing and camerawork, it is some of the best I have seen all year. The color grading in this film is fantastic. As for the movie itself, it is genuinely mysterious and spooky. This movie kind of comes off like it is some ninety minute episode of “The Twilight Zone.” In fact the first shot of the movie is of an old television set that is playing the intro to a show that pretty much takes almost every single element from the intro of “The Twilight Zone.” Everything from the music to the suspenseful buildup and even the captivating voice. There are some notable differences, but nevertheless.

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I will also give credit to the actors in this film, who I might admittedly end up not necessarily remembering at the end of the year for their ability to convey their characters, but their ability to stay sane during a nine minute shot. There is one scene where much of the focus is on the main girl switch operator and we see everything going on from her perspective. I was amazed at how the crew pulled this off without much error. That’s one of the big compliments I can give this film from a cinematography and camerawork perspective, they do so much to make this film look so crisp while also doing these long, extended, neverending takes. It kept my eyes on the screen for a long, long time. Speaking of shots, there’s numerous scenes that take place on a basketball court, and it adds up to bring in some of the most insane filmmaking of the year. This may be the first time of 2020, that I legit had a mind-blowing moment while watching a film. The other one might have been “Sonic the Hedgehog” because if you know anything about video game movies, there’s an often-shared stigma that they’re lackluster and some of worst products put to screen. But unlike that movie, which at times felt like a product that was heavily commercialized, “The Vast of Night” comes off as a passion project made by a group of people who were really excited to show off their skills and experience, even if not everyone was that experienced to begin with.

I stand by and understand the notion that all movies, in some way, are made for the sake of profit or raking in money. “The Vast of Night” kind of reminded me of an advanced student film, and I mean that in a positive way. It felt like a movie that I would want to make, to the point where I go beyond my imagination with the production value, the cinematography, finding the right people, and every other technical aspect you can think of. There felt like there was just a little more than the idea of getting rich when it comes to the aspirations behind “The Vast of Night,” and other than “The Way Back,” starring Ben Affleck, which I saw in March and have not reviewed yet, I don’t think I have seen as personal of a film this year. For those who are curious, this was shot in 17 days during September 2016 on a Red Epic camera. The result, satisfying.

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In the end, “The Vast of Night” is vastly entertaining. This is the movie that made me perhaps somewhat excited to watch and review new movies once again. It’s not perfect, as stated before, but given the limitations that this film had during production, to have it come out the way did is nothing short of incredible. At the same time though, maybe those extended scenes can also serve as a blessing in disguise, because even though I can tell that the story is relatively simple, maybe I’ll pick up on something in the future in regards to this movie should I watch it again. This year, I haven’t given any 10s, I haven’t given any 9s. Not because I’m trying to get a little more strict with my ratings, I just really have not seen much of anything worth talking about. And unfortunately, this year will continue to lack 9s and 10s, BUT I’m going to give “The Vast of Night” my first 8/10 of the 2020 calendar! Sometimes it does not take much to impress me, and in this case that is certainly true. This movie was produced for under $1 million, which in many circumstances is a lot of money, but for some cases within in the film industry, a million bucks is nothing. It’s chump change. “The Vast of Night” felt like a film that was crafted by someone who knew what they wanted to do and it felt just a tiny tad more expensive than maybe it turned out to be. The only thing that takes such a notion away are some of the extended shots, which are marvelous by the way.

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Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed this post and have a WordPress account, consider leaving a like! Also, if you want to see more content, be sure to follow Scene Before for all the goings on here on Flicknerd.com. As for upcoming content, I was PLANNING on going to a Regal Cinemas location next week to see what they’re doing after all the shenanigans, but of course, they delayed their reopening because life sucks and nothing else matters anymore. In most cases, this comment sounds childish, but in the time of 2020, this is pretty tame. Just spreading the truth! However, there is some good news to share… I live in Massachusetts, and it was just announced by Governor Charlie Baker that phase 3 begins July 6th! That means movie theaters in the state of Massachusetts are permitted to reopen as long as they follow guidelines! I don’t know how many theaters would open, but to know that they are eligible excites me. So maybe I’ll do a post on how they are dealing with reopening and what it is like to go to a theater during this… (sigh) “new normal.” Hate saying that. There’s a good chance that I will review another movie within the next week should time allow such a thing to happen, but since I talk about “Tenet” a lot, maybe I’ll do something related to that, I dunno. But if you are bored and are tired of scrolling through my blog on WordPress, I have the solution for you. LIKE MY FACEBOOK PAGE! It’s like my blog, only different! More behind the scenes stuff and random s*it that you don’t get to see on here. I want to know, did you see “The Vast of Night?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite movie that is set in the 1950s that did not come out in the 1950s? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Minority Report (2002): Spielberg Conveys a Deadly 2054

TOM CRUISE MONTH POSTER

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! We have reviewed four Tom Cruise movies so far this month, now let’s make it five! Before we go any further, if you do want to check out my reviews for “Oblivion,” “All the Right Moves,” “Days of Thunder,” and “Top Gun,” you’ll notice that the titles are highlighted, meaning that you’ll find the links right there! These are all other movies that I have previously reviewed for the purpose of Tom Cruise Month, but we’re not focusing on those right now. Instead, we are going to focus on the year 2054, which looks mighty pleasant compared to 2020. It is time to talk about “Minority Report” as we begin our final installment of…

*LIGHTNING CRACK*

TOM CRUISE MONTH

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“Minority Report” is directed by Steven Spielberg (Jurassic Park, Jaws) and stars Tom Cruise (Risky Business, Top Gun), Colin Farrell (Ballykissangel, American Outlaws), Samantha Morton (Band of Gold, Pandaemonium), and Max Von Sydow (Flash Gordon, The Seventh Seal). This film takes place during the year 2054 and is based on the material once created by author Philip K. Dick. In a future where Pre-Cogs can see upcoming murders and related criminal acts, a special police unit is supposed to stop murderers and arrest them before such crimes are committed. Interestingly, one of the police officers themselves is accused of a future murder.

Prior to making this review, I had not once seen “Minority Report.” And at this point, getting to witness something new, even if it is almost a couple full decades old, is kind of a treat. I bought the Blu-ray when I was in Santa Monica, California, and I figured this Tom Cruise Month theme would give me a solid excuse to pop in the disc. Unknowingly, I was aware of this movie’s existence. I mean, sure, I guess I knew the title and everything, but what I did not know was that this movie was the picture featuring Pre-Cogs. Like every other person under the age of thirty, I achieved a great deal of knowledge, or at least a conglomeration of useless factoids, over the Internet. If it were not for YouTuber Jeremy Jahns referencing one specific scene…

“Murrrrder.”

…I would probably not know squat about this movie, or at least acknowledge squat about this movie. So I will say, this movie must have stood the test of time in terms of being recognized in pop culture. Then again, it is a Steven Spielberg flick, and he has a fairly recognizable, prolific, diverse, and masterful library.

By the way, before we go any further, one of the biggest compliments I’ll give to this movie is that the framing is very well done. The scope of “Minority Report” pulls you right in. It does not disappoint. It takes this 2054 type of environment and makes you embrace it. Speaking of which, one of the best shots of this movie, is the first full-on glimpse we get of a Pre-Cog, which is shown in the GIF I would assume you have scrolled through fairly recently. It’s just so clear and crisp. I don’t know why, but the more I look at the shot of that Pre-Cog, the more I want to go into a pool. Although, maybe not until next year, knowing how things are right now. I will say, on that note, even though I really like the way this film looks, it’s not pretty all the way through, because I think the color scheme of many of the shots are a little too somber. Granted, “Minority Report” is not a comedy, it was never supposed to represent the best of times, even though we do get some classy looking cars in the future, but there are some times where this movie doesn’t come off as a soap opera from the script, but the color palette begs to differ. It almost reminds me of the “Point Break” remake from 2015, only this movie is twice as good as that film and in my personal opinion, technically qualifies as a “movie.”

Since this is a Tom Cruise movie, and given how this is the final entry to Tom Cruise Month, let’s talk about Tom Cruise himself. When it comes to Tom Cruise in this film, this is honestly one of his better performances. I think casting was a job well done with this film, not just with Cruise, but with names including Max Von Sydow and Samantha Morton. I bought into all their performances and it helped enhance the movie. I will say though, not that it matters entirely, Tom Cruise with a haircut like the one he has here is probably one of his inferior looks for one of his roles. But that’s just me. Also, if you know me, when it comes to Tom Cruise, I don’t always point out my love and respect for him through his ability to convey a character, even though he’s a respectable actor in that regard, but his motivation to perhaps nearly kill himself. Like some of his other movies, he does his own stunts here. Granted, I never really noticed anything as scary or heart-racing as say his plane hang from “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” as an example, but is nice to know that like some of his other projects, Cruise himself put an effort into the stuntwork.

One of the best parts of “Minority Report” is the concept. You have a special police force trying to stop murderers who are predicted by Pre-Cogs. I think the way that this movie went around executing the concept was worthy of a thumbs up. The movie kind of had me in the beginning alone. I will say when it comes to pacing it does slow down overtime, but the climax is fairly entertaining as well. It ups the pace of the movie when said climax begins, and it makes the viewing experience worthwhile.

Another point of the movie that stood out to me for a reason I truly should have grasped from the very beginning was the score. For the record, the score for “Minority Report” was conducted by John Williams, and I don’t know why for the life of me I didn’t conceptualize that from the beginning. I knew John Williams automatically went hand in hand with the “Star Wars” franchise but for some reason I completely forgot his attachment to Steven Spielberg, the two go together in the same way that Hans Zimmer and Christopher Nolan tend to go together. They have worked on so many films to the point where their coupling has become nothing short of iconic. When it John Williams, I will say, even though there are fractions of the score that I happened to like, it is one of inferior scores. This movie came out the same year as “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones,” another score that John Williams did. And even though I, along with many others, would point out that “Attack of the Clones” is a lackluster installment to the “Star Wars” franchise, there’s a solid chance I would agree with someone that “Episode II,” per usual had a kick-ass John Williams score. When it comes to his 2002 work, “Attack of the Clones” kicks “Minority Report’s” ass. Although, if you want me to go further, even though I barely remember, I do recall not hating Williams’ score to “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” But I have to watch that movie again as it has been forever since I saw it. Sticking with “Minority Report’s” score, I will say I enjoyed it, but if I had to say one standout negative about it, I think it’s a little overbearing on drums. Just a little bit.

Little sidenote, this review is being written in 2020, the year that “Cops” was practically taken off the air for a list of reasons, so I will admit, I did get a slight chuckle seeing that apparently the TV show “Cops” was still relevant in 2054. Just thought I’d point that out.

In the end, “Minority Report” is a good movie, and a likable futuristic vision with a clever concept. However, when it comes to futuristic visions, specifically ones that come from the mind of Steven Spielberg, I much prefer his vision of 2045, which was represented through 2018’s “Ready Player One,” as opposed to his vision of 2054, represented here in “Minority Report.” Then again, “Ready Player One” is based on a book by Ernest Cline, and “Minority Report” is based on a short story from Philip K. Dick, so in reality, it’s not Spielberg’s vision. Nevertheless, I think when it comes to movies that are set in the future from Spielberg, I personally prefer “Ready Player One.” Although I will say, one thought that has been in my head for a little bit about this movie is the desire to check it out once more. Not just because I liked the movie the first time, which I did. But I feel like there are possibly one or two crucial points that I may have glossed over that are worth noticing in the future. If your movie can get me to have a urge to go back and see it one more time, no matter what the reason (unless maybe I want to torture myself), I’d say a job well done is in order. There are better Spielberg movies out there, I’d say there are better Tom Cruise movies out there. But this was worth my time, I didn’t really have any regrets. I’m going to give “Minority Report” a 7/10.

Thanks for reading this review! Thanks to all who showed any ounce of interest in Tom Cruise Month! I will point out that July is coming up, and while I have no real theme for the month, I will note that “Tenet” is scheduled to come out pretty soon, so maybe I’ll review some Christopher Nolan movies if I have the time. I will point out though, given how I have not really paid much attention to this year in film all that much, I do want to give this year’s movies a shot before it is too late. So there is a solid chance that a lot of July’s content is going to be of some 2020 movies that I missed. I’ve got a few on Blu-ray, I can probably check a few movies through streaming if I have the proper account setup. And even though I personally don’t have Apple TV+, there is a movie coming to that service that I might end up reviewing if possible, specifically “Greyhound” starring Tom Hanks. Because who doesn’t like Tom Hanks?! Be sure to follow Scene Before either through an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! Speaking of checking things out, if you want to see some more of my Tom Cruise reviews that are not exactly affiliated with Tom Cruise Month, the links are listed down below. These reviews by the way go all the way back to 2017, my second year of film reviewing on Scene Before. I want to know, did you see “Minority Report?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite John Williams score of all time? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Last Samurai

Risky Business

The Firm

American Made

Mission: Impossible

Mission: Impossible II

Mission: Impossible III

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

TENET is Delayed Again: New Release Date: August 12th, 2020

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Hey guys! Welcome to the latest apocalypse-related update of 2020! A year so bad that it made fully regret ever giving “Cats” a negative review. That hour and fifty minute movie which really ended up feeling like an utter eternity was a blessing compared whatever the f*ck is going on right now! Remember how I posted this s*it down below just a couple weeks ago?

TENET Gets Delayed to July 31st, INCEPTION Returns to Theatres July 17th

Guess what? That s*it’s outdated! Welcome to 2020! A one-way ticket to a dark room full of deadly lasers, accompanied with a bloody water tank with a giant shark that is about to eat you whole! WORST! YEAR! EVER! With that being said, I’m going to try my best… My absolute… Best. To avoid going ABSOLUTELY OVER THE TOP WITH THIS POST! Gah! I already failed! Let’s just do this!

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! In case you’re reading this, I have somehow survived being disintegrated by tons of deadly lasers and a giant shark that was about to eat me. For all I know, maybe the shark thought I was pitching a terrible product, and said “I’m out.”

…Which reminds me, I gotta cross that shark-raid whistle thingy off the pitch list. Here we go.

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A couple weeks back, we have had an announcement that “Tenet” was getting a pushback, which I think at the time, could have arguably been the most shocking pushback for a film we’ve seen all year. “Tenet” was one of the few pictures to not move a muscle so far in 2020, so to see it gravitate towards a later, granted two weeks later, but later nevertheless, release date on the calendar is a little shocking. However, in my post talking about it, I mentioned there was probably a good reason, one of the notable pieces of news sticking out to me being the plan to rerelease 2010’s “Inception,” allowing for a perfect reason to recognize the film’s 10th anniversary. Not to mention, I thought it was just a damn fine consolation prize. “Inception” will be brought back to theaters around the same exact time it came out, it would be a good way to get audiences back into the theater, see how many people are willing to go to the theater, and as for me, I get to see one of my favorite movies on the big screen, which I did not get to do when I was younger. However, this week, it was announced that “Tenet” has been delayed once more. Time runs out? More like, we need more time to put out our movie.

Before we go any further, “Tenet” is not the only film moving in this case. “Inception” is in on this as well. “Inception” is now going to be taking up the July 31st release slot previously held by “Tenet.” As for “Tenet,” that film will be taking a spot in the middle of the second week of August, allowing it to come out on August 12th.

Let’s start with the good news. The good news, I can’t believe there is good news available in 2020… It’s not that big of a delay. That can be a sign of pure optimism from Warner Bros., Christopher Nolan, or both. While we don’t know where we’ll be in days or weeks from now, it does show that somebody somewhere is sticking to a commitment to put the movie out in theaters. Let’s face it. If I were to shoot a movie on the largest format possible, which Christopher Nolan did. Release it on the largest format possible, which is currently planned. You bet I, as a studio executive, would surely keep a promise to put this damn movie in the theater. I saw previews for this film on my TV, and it looks good on my TV. But why does it look so good? Because it gave me the urge to get off my ass, into my onmyassmobile, and head to a freaking movie theater to enjoy myself for hours!

Wait, that sounds very familiar…

“This film (Dunkirk) is what actually going to the theater is all about. Not renting a movie on DVD, not streaming it on Netflix, but getting off your ass, getting in your onmyassmobile, and heading straight to the movie theater.” –Top 10 BEST Movies of 2017

Nolan is all about the “get off your ass” mentality when it comes to releasing films, and that is part of why I will remain committed to checking out his work. I am all about the experience when it comes to moviegoing. There are very few feelings like entering a movie theater and seeing a movie in general, but when Nolan makes a movie, it’s almost guaranteed to be a ride. To see at the very least, the notion regarding this movie not losing sight of the theater experience delights me to no end.

Now, for the bad news… What if this is not the last delay? Because I feel like the factors determining whether or not we will get to see this movie in theaters as soon as possible have little to do with whether or not theaters are ready. In fact, the major chains including AMC, Regal, and Alamo Drafthouse, have all announced plans to open in July, with precautions in mind. Some of these include deep sanitizing of the auditoriums and often-touched spaces through advanced equipment and materials, allowing extra time to clean auditoriums, reduced capacities and spaced seating to encourage social distancing, and enforcing the use of masks. And yes, I’ll wear a mask, because I’ll happily allow my mask to possibly smell like popcorn. Just because they’re ready does not automatically equate to the public being ready. Am I ready to head back to the movie theater? I’ve been motivated to go pretty much as soon as everything shut down. Granted, knowing myself, I am a little biased. I would have risked my life during the pandemic to go see new movies because this was the routine for my blog. Go to the movies. See a new release. Review said new release. Repeat. Instead, I had to take a break, report whatever fresh hell was happening during the apocalypse to point where I wanted to smash my F*CKING BRAIN INTO SPIKES! Save myself some money so my family and I don’t go broke. Occasionally review a new movie if possible, and so on. I would not deny that there is at least some sort of craving from various demographics to live in some sense of normalcy at this point. Movie theaters are a part of that normalcy. But would the public automatically leap themselves back into theaters? That’s going to depend on who you ask. Some would definitely go back in a heartbeat, but if you scour social media, there are some that are hoping for more at-home releases and those sorts of things.

Not only that, but let’s also look at statistics. One of the biggest catalysts that likely caused this delay in the first place is the notion that New York had no plans to reopen theaters in phase 4, which supposedly starts in a couple weeks for a great portion of the state. New York is one of the biggest movie theater markets out there. They have a large moviegoing population and a ton of theaters to back them up. New York City has also been home to many big film events, including premieres. Although if I’m not mistaken, if “Tenet” releases on time, if Manhattan remains closed, the run could still work if many other theaters in the state as long they remain open in other areas. Speaking of which, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey, are trending pretty positive right now when it comes to handling the virus overall. This is as opposed to states like Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California, where the virus is proving to be a little more effective and deadly. Hospitals are filling up by the second, states are seeing record cases, and if they keep going up, who knows what’s gonna happen next? And besides, I just mentioned California, like New York, it is one of the biggest movie markets in the world. It’s where many red carpet events occur, the culture in various cities revolve around film, and it’s home to many historic venues. Plus, Los Angeles county is currently the most populous of the U.S. counties, if you don’t let them for example go see a movie in their local area, that’s potentially a lot of lost customers.

Not to get sidetracked, but I wonder if this means anything for the other big movies coming out soon like “Unhinged” and “Mulan.” Will they bump their dates somewhere else as well? Although Regal Cinemas, the second largest chain in the United States, is supposed to reopen the day that movie comes out, so I doubt they want to move as they have a sweet spot. As for “Mulan,” I feel like Disney could move it, but they also have a good spot should things turn around. They don’t have to worry much about what could be opening the week after, and a lot can happen in a month from now. As much as I would not be TOTALLY surprised if they put the movie on VOD eventually, I feel like from an executive standpoint, this is a movie that like “Tenet” is specifically made to be seen in a theater. Putting the film on VOD would be a sacrifice from one kind of perspective. Plus, based on what I’m hearing from people who have already seen the movie, it may have solid enough verdicts to avoid getting dumped onto Disney+ like “Artemis Fowl” did, which currently has a 10% on Rotten Tomatoes.

One thing I will point out, when it comes to this new release date, it presents a fairly interesting idea given by a Warner Bros. spokesperson.

“In this moment what we need to be is flexible, and we are not treating this as a traditional movie release. We are choosing to open the movie mid-week to allow audiences to discover the film in their own time, and we plan to play longer, over an extended play period far beyond the norm, to develop a very different yet successful release strategy.”

Before this delay, in fact, even before the first delay, what I thought was going to happen was that Warner Bros. was going to attempt to pull the throttle as far ahead as possible. What could have been done is that they’d release the movie, allowing it to play on virtually every available screen in the facility, say this is all happening in a multiplex, allowing for everybody to go see this one movie at practically anytime, with an outright guarantee for social distancing. Granted, with the current plans to bring throwback releases into the mix, that would now be impossible, but again, I’m talking about the past. Now I’m noticing a fairly slow approach that Warner Bros. seems to be taking. I don’t know how well it’ll work out. But if they keep it in theaters for a long enough time, there’s a solid chance that it could be profitable. It’s likely going to depend on word of mouth, positive reviews, and maybe even some hint of rewatchability. For all I know, it could also depend on cases. But this blog is being documented by someone who lives in the United States of America, where we are perhaps all brainwashed into thinking the economy is more “essential” than lives. Am I sick of staying home for the longest time? You betcha. I have gone through several periods of not even exiting my house doors. In fact, this entire post pretty much sums up my distaste with the fact that I’ve had to stay home. But if we all really get back outside, we need to understand that the world is not going to be pretty. We need masks (which I detest, but I understand why we need them). We need clean hands. We need to do our best to stay apart. If we want to have what we love in front of us at some point during 2020, we need to understand the meaning of sacrifice amongst ourselves. And how this even became a political issue here in the United States, I will never understand! Apparently in this country, science equals politics! It’s global warming all over again!

Just so you all know, if you didn’t already, I hate needles with a burning passion. This is the one time, I repeat, the one time in my life, where I want a vaccine for something! I don’t care if it kills me quicker than the virus, but I just want to have a sense of normalcy at this point. I’ve had it with all this! I just want to go see a movie! It’s the one place where I can feel like I’m at home, because I’ve been at my house for so long that it doesn’t even feel like a home anymore! I love my house, but with isolation and everything! It has basically become a prison with people who love and care about you, not to mention better food options! I need to get out at least once to cleanse my brain from whatever spasms it has at this point! Walking won’t do the trick! Am I overreacting? Most likely! But this is my life! Art is the quintessential element that makes me whole, and now I feel like that has been snatched away. I turn 21 in November, so I think I have picked the wrong time to supposedly “build my life.” I want safety for all. But I want to do things.

“Tenet,” please help me. I’m more excited for “Dune” to come out in December, but as of now, I don’t know if there has ever been a movie I wanted to see succeed more than “Tenet.” It’s from my favorite studio, my favorite director, and will be shown in my favorite format. And I surely hope this delay is the last one we get. For all I know, should things continue to trend positively in certain states, I can almost see Warner Bros. releasing the movie in states that are trending positive, then adding a phase 2 to areas that trend positive later. It’s like the government, but it’s all about a $200 million+ movie. “Tenet” HOPEFULLY, and I cannot stress that enough, releases in theaters August 12th, 2020. The film will be available in digital, various large formats including IMAX, 35mm, 70mm, and IMAX 70mm. And you bet I will be striving to catch an IMAX 70mm presentation should one pop up in my area, and given how I don’t live far from Providence, RI, and I do expect the movie to end up playing at their IMAX venue, I will probably make it to one of these shows whatever it takes.

Thanks for reading this incredibly emotional post! And by incredibly emotional, I mean a post where I turn into an absolute brat who simultaneously wants what’s best for society. How did we get here?! Do we even deserve to live at this point? Bring on the alien invasion! Bring on dinosaurs! Bring on giant asteroids! Bring on dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria! What are we still doing here anywhere? It’s not like we’re… DOING ANYTHING! By the way, right now on Scene Before I am focusing on Tom Cruise Month here in June, which will conclude next week with my review for “Minority Report!” Until then, check out my review for “Top Gun,” a movie which had a sequel that was supposed to come out this exact week, but of course, COVID sucks. It really does. July is coming up, and I’m hoping for my sake at this point that I get to talk about at least one new movie. I’ve spent so much time talking about the past that the future looks mighty fine right now. This universe is punching me in the gut every day. Be sure to follow Scene Before if you want to see new content, and check out the blog’s official Facebook page! I want to know, what are your thoughts on the “Tenet” delay? Personally, I kinda saw it coming, but unlike the last one, this one hurt me a little more. I am more than likely overreacting, but as a guy who doesn’t really care if sports come back at this point, I at least want a movie. Or, here’s another question. Do you plan on going back to the movies anytime soon? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Oblivion (2013): Non-Cyberpunk 2077

TOM CRUISE MONTH POSTER

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Fun fact, ever since I have started my journey here on Scene Before since 2016, I have talked about 10 Tom Cruise movies. Granted, 60% of those films happen to be in the “Mission: Impossible” franchise, but still. I have talked about “The Last Samurai,” “Risky Business,” “The Firm,” “American Made,” and as recently suggested, all six of his “Mission: Impossible” movies. Over the years I have missed a few new releases of his that I had a chance to review while it was in the theater such as “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” and “The Mummy,” but between life, a lack of motivation, and those kinds of weird-ass excuses, I have not gotten around to them.

So the question is, after all this time, will I finally get to these movies?! No! I will not!

Instead, I’m gonna focus on some other Tom Cruise films, one of which includes the 2013 post-apocalyptic science fiction flick “Oblivion.” This film, along with a few others are going to be reviewed in place of what could have been reviewed in June, “Top Gun: Maverick,” which was supposed to release at the end of the month. But, you know, coronavirus. It’s the talk of the town. While Tom Cruise felt the need for speed in 1986, things must have slowed down in 2020, which at this point is asking 2016 to hold a crapton of beers. Nevertheless, let’s stop dilly-dallying and start diving into the first review of…

*LIGHTNING CRACK*

TOM CRUISE MONTH

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“Oblivion” is directed by Joseph Kosinski, who coincidentally is also helming the upcoming film “Top Gun: Maverick,” which like this movie, stars Tom Cruise. Aside from Tom Cruise, this movie stars Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight, The Shawshank Redemption), Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace, To the Wonder), Andrea Riseborough (Welcome to the Punch, Disconnect), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones, Mama), and Melissa Leo (Frozen River, The Fighter). This film takes place during post-apocalyptic times in the year 2077 and it follows Tom Cruise’s character of Jack Harper, who currently lives on Earth as a technician who is responsible for maintaining drones as remaining resources are extracted in order to complete a five-year mission. Once this mission is completed, Jack and his partner will join the rest of humanity on their new home, Titan, a moon near Saturn.

Going into “Oblivion” for this review, it was my first time watching it and I was relatively curious as to what it would contain. I figured from the title and Tom Cruise being put in the center that it would be somewhat blockbuster-esque. When it comes to Tom Cruise movies, it kind of sounded like an “Edge of Tomorrow” type of deal. After all that film is sci-fi and action based. Much like “Edge of Tomorrow,” “Oblivion” does have its moments of action, but it does not seem to commit as heavily to it. From what I remember of “Edge of Tomorrow,” the action in that film is almost nonstop. After all, the concept of “Edge of Tomorrow” completely warrants it. It’s “Groundhog Day,” but the same day over and over is in the middle of futuristic battle. “Edge of Tomorrow,” even though there are other things to like about it, shines mostly from its concept.

Similarly, the writing and story for “Oblivion” is not all that bad, but it is two of the main characters, at least to me, that give this movie its overall watchability. And even though Morgan Freeman is the second actor I mentioned when introducing this film, he is not the highlight, even though his voice is worthy enough of its own relaxation album. In fact, his character, is probably one of the few that I’ll probably forget as time goes on. But from the very beginning, Jack and his communications partner have terrific chemistry. This movie takes place in a post-apocalyptic 2077 and not only do the characters played by Cruise and Riseborough match the vibe of the time, but I was able to buy into the stakes regarding their partnership. Together, their goal as partners is to be an “effective team,” which plays heavily into how the movie unfolds. One of the things that I notice a lot about futuristic sci-fi, or maybe just sci-fi in general for some cases, is that compared to the world we live in today, there is some lack of emotion in certain spots. Even with the lack of emotion in place, there is still a sense of realized chemistry between Cruise and Riseborough. And when the dramatic moments do hit, I feel it. This movie is a post-apocalypse story first, but if I were to judge it as a relationship drama, I’d give it a thumbs up. Also, sidenote, I like how at the beginning of the film he travels in his ship with his personal bobblehead to keep him company. It’s like his own little hula girl you put on the dashboard of your car or something.

“Oblivion” came out in 2013, and when it comes to the effects in this film, they feel pretty clean despite being in this rather depressing environment, but that’s not a bad thing. It does add a little glamour to something that doesn’t have much life in it. Specifically, I’m talking about the world, not the movie. This is not me bashing on the movie. I mean, the drones look very well put together and even though we just saw a new “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie that came out this year, the drones in this movie look twice as detailed and polished. I like the drones from a sound perspective as well.

I will say, having watched this movie in 2020, it does feel a bit weird, because even though we are living in a time where things are getting back to normal, one of the major plot points of the movie involves Tom Cruise’s past. Without really diving into spoiler territory, the way “Oblivion” handles this is likable, and as of now, kind of relatable. The movie starts out with Tom Cruise in an industrialized New York City, and it goes into his emotions in terms of how much he longs for the good days of old to return. Back when we had toilet paper and less masks and gather–wait, I think this is the wrong timeline! From this moment, and a few others during the movie, I got a sense of who the character of Jack Harper really was. A guy who went about his daily life with his partner, appreciating one moment after the next, but he also wanted the past to return, back when the Earth had numerous fun activities.

And even though Jack Harper is… (sigh) a Yankees fan, I understood his character because he wanted activities like sports and those sorts of things to return. Although given the circumstances, bringing those back would be a near impossible task.

I also really like the character of Julia, played by Olga Kurylenko. As mentioned, this movie focuses a lot on Jack Harper’s past, and the same can be said for this character. The way this was handled was very well done and made for one of the better parts of the movie. If I am not mistaken, “Oblivion” is my introduction to Olga Kurylenko, so I would like to see what else is put on her resume in the future.

Now onto the negatives, the film honestly starts much better than it concludes. I think the best parts of the movie take place through exposition and buildup. Even though the climax is somewhat entertaining, it misses an oomph factor to take it up a couple notches. Once again, I will mention, as much I like Morgan Freeman, this is probably one of his roles that I will end up forgetting. Granted, per usual, he is charismatic, but compared to other characters in the film, he does not climb up the ladder for me.

In the end, I went into “Oblivion” thinking it was kind of going to start off as this big action extravaganza, like “Edge of Tomorrow,” but it turned out to be something somewhat smaller in scale, which I am fine with. The shots in this movie are very well done, I admire most of the characters, and when it comes to Joseph Kosinski as a director, seeing this film makes me somewhat faithful that he can pull off a “Top Gun” sequel. Although when it comes to his past work, “Tron: Legacy” is definitely worth your time. Would I watch “Oblivion” again? Sure I would. In fact, this might be one of those movies that might be better the second time. It may have one or two moments or things that I missed that could make for a relatively fun second go. As far as Tom Cruise movies go, not bad. I’m going to give “Oblivion” a 7/10.

Thanks for reading this review! This is the first installment to my Tom Cruise Month review series, I hope you enjoyed it, because I want to remind you that this is just the beginning. My next film in the series is going to be the 1983 flick “All the Right Moves…” I wish I’m doing something else, but here we are. That review is probably going to be up on Monday or Tuesday, depends on when I watch the movie. But next Friday is my current deadline. I wanted to get the post I’m doing right now up by this previous Tuesday, but between everything going on in the world, and I will admit, laziness, I was a little late on this. By the way, if you are reading this, happy June! …Or whatever time in the world it is, I lost track I don’t know how many centuries ago. If you want to see more content like this, please consider following Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account! Also, head on over to my Facebook page! WE HAVE TOILET PAPER! That’ll get everyone in, right? I want to know, did you see “Oblivion?” What did you think about it? Or, do you have any bobbleheads? List em’ down in the comments, I want to hear about them! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019): The Final Word in the Story

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“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is directed by J.J. Abrams (Mission: Impossible: III, Star Trek), who also directed 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” This film stars Daisy Ridley (Peter Rabbit, Murder on the Orient Express), John Boyega (Pacific Rim: Uprising, The Circle), Adam Driver (Paterson, Girls), Carrie Fisher (The Blues Brothers, Family Guy), Mark Hamill (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Batman: The Animated Series), Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina, Operation Finale), Anthony Daniels (I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle, The Lord of the Rings), Naomi Ackie (The End of the F***ing World, Lady MacBeth), Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina, American Made), Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Logan), Lupita Nyong’o (Us, 12 Years a Slave), Keri Russell (Waitress, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), Joonas Suotamo (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Solo: A Star Wars Story), Kelly Marie Tran (Adam Ruins Everything, XOXO), Ian McDiarmid (The Lost City of Z, Sleepy Hollow), and Billy Dee Williams (Batman, Dynasty). This film is the conclusion to the sequel trilogy of the “Star Wars” franchise, bringing an end to the now trendily-named “Skywalker Saga” and follows the heroes we have come to know so far as the Resistance is dwindled. Where do they go next? Wherever they can to face off against the First Order one last time.

Oh, and of course… There’s a REAL LIFE plot to this movie too! After the events of “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi,” audiences are divided! Between playing it too safe in one movie and trying to find unlocked paths in another movie, there is no way to impress every single “Star Wars” fan out there! So now it is the job of J.J. Abrams to bring balance to the “Star Wars” fandom and take on the near impossible task of sticking the landing in terms of directing “Episode IX.”

Now, for those of you who have been following Scene Before for some time, I do have to say, I make an effort to provide as little spoilers as possible for every movie review I do. There may be a case where I either have to or want to put in spoilers for one reason or another, but most of the time, I make an effort to be as secretive as possible in regards to the film’s key points that could potentially alter how one would see the movie if it had been revealed to them beforehand. With that being said, this is a “Star Wars” movie. “Star Wars” is a franchise that I would be eternally heartbroken had spoilers for it come my way. I imagine most of my viewers would feel the same way. So let me just say, this is a SPOILER-FREE review. Knowing that I just saw the movie on one of the earliest showtimes the public can access, I am going to raise my shield to avoid all effects from blasters, lightsabers, pistols, force lightning, and if possible (and I’m not saying I am weak-minded), Jedi mind tricks. So without further ado, let’s talk some “Star Wars.”

The “Star Wars” sequel trilogy has been a mixed bag for me so far. I for one LOVE “The Force Awakens.” I’m not gonna lie, it is one of my favorite “Star Wars” movies for sure. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was a movie I was looking forward to, saw in the theater on opening weekend, and walked out of it feeling like I saw the second coming of Christ on screen. Every now and then I’ll walk out of a movie feeling something inside me that made me feel like I leveled up. That was one of them. In fact, it might even be my favorite movie of 2015. Is it a copy paste of the original “Star Wars” movie? Sure, you can definitely bring up that point. But the thing is, the movie did exactly what a film of its kind needed to do. Deliver crowd-pleasing moments, provide stunning visuals, unleash great characters, start something special, and take you away from reality. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was able to do that. I will admit, I liked “Episode III,” in fact I personally admire it much more than most people, but as someone who looks back at the prequels as a slight step in the wrong direction, what Disney and J.J. Abrams did with “The Force Awakens” was exactly what I believe the “Star Wars” community and fanbase needed. Something familiar, but immensely entertaining.

Then we got “The Last Jedi” which was… Mediocre. Now if you have ever read my initial review for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” you’d know I dug it. The reason being is because as much as I enjoyed “The Force Awakens,” I saw it partially as a throwback. But it’s a good throwback, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind movies or media jumping on the nostalgia train, but I wanted something new out of this “Star Wars” trilogy that could separate them from the other two. As good as “The Empire Strikes Back” is, I was afraid that this movie, like “The Force Awakens” did with “A New Hope,” would be a rehash of “The Empire Strikes Back.” However, based on what the movie provided from a story perspective, that did not seem to be the case. The movie made some bold, expectation-subverting choices. While I admire director Rian Johnson for trying to take “Star Wars” in a new direction, it didn’t pay off. Originally, I gave the movie a 9/10 for the steps it took in finding new storytelling paths, but as I thought about the movie more, I dug it less and less. Mark Hamill is GREAT as Luke though, I’ll give the movie that. I will admit, the film is beautifully directed, it’s wonderfully shot, and the visuals are sometimes incredible. But the screenplay is almost the worst in “Star Wars” history. “The Last Jedi” felt like a passion project that ended up splattering in someone’s face. I will admit, as much as I don’t like Johnson’s vision for “The Last Jedi,” I do think he is a damn fine director with the right project. He made “Knives Out,” which is one of the best movies of the year, and I just saw “Looper,” another film he wrote and directed, and it’s nothing short of dope. I would be SOMEWHAT open to him directing another “Star Wars” project, but not writing one.

Now we’re here! “The Rise of Skywalker” is upon us. I will admit, I did not have the most pleasurable thoughts going into it. But nevertheless, I scored tickets for the first show of the film at one of my all-time favorite movie theatres, so the fan inside me felt ready for this experience. I will admit, some of the trailers were really good, and part of me was curious to see how this saga will end (until Disney needs more money and they make Episode X). What are my thoughts on the ultimate story of the “Skywalker Saga?” The top of Mount “Star Wars!” The height of the force! WHAT? DID? I? THINK OF IT?

Well… uhhhh…. It was better than “Cats.”

To be completely serious with you, I really enjoyed this movie A LOT MORE THAN I THOUGHT I WOULD going into it. “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is up there to me with “Toy Story 4” and “Alita: Battle Angel” as one of 2019’s most pleasant surprises. I could honestly end the review by pointing out that against each and every single odd, J.J. Abrams delivered something watchable. But, ending the review here would be boring, and y’all will probably feel cheated, so let’s move on.

Sticking with J.J. Abrams, he was the right choice to direct this film. I love what he did with “The Force Awakens” as mentioned earlier. And I think those who have complained in the past about “The Force Awakens,” specifically about it playing it too safe might dig this movie a little more than that. Granted, this movie relies HEAVILY on nostalgia. There are many iconic themes from John Williams that are brought back, nods to past “Star Wars” films and TV programs, the return of Lando, and Palpatine is even somehow in this movie. But even with that, this movie introduces quite a few new things. I am not exactly going to go into each and every one of them, but they are there nonetheless. In fact, as someone who doesn’t like “The Last Jedi,” I think the thing about it that I at least appreciate is its willingness to take risks. They didn’t pay off, but they are still risks. This movie was able to take me to my happy place, sort of back to my childhood, while also introducing some fresh ideas. Not all of them worked, kind of like in “The Last Jedi,” but there are some that played into how fun this movie ultimately is.

One thing you are going to hear me repeat often throughout this review is that I won’t spoil something, so bear with me here. But I want to mention that without going into much detail, C-3PO had a bit to do with the movie’s story, and I think this may be my favorite 3PO story yet. In fact, 3PO honestly feels like a necessary character for this movie to go on. And even though he has been in just about every “Star Wars” film so far, this may be the first story where I felt 3PO’s presence was required in order for certain events to take place since the original trilogy, or maybe “The Phantom Menace.” I mean, most of his stories since just involved him being in the movie to have a random character be a comic relief (which he was before, but still) or just give some random perspective of what’s going on. Well that, and he needs his red arm replaced. It’s nice seeing him in the prequels and the last couple of sequel films, but seeing him as a core part of the story here is an utter delight, knowing the legacy this character has overall.

As for our main characters, I think Rey, Finn, and Poe, the main human trio we have come to know so far throughout this trilogy are hypnotizing to watch. Seeing them on screen again was a blast, in fact there is a scene early on between Finn and Poe that might be one of the most ridiculously fast-paced and bonkers “Star Wars” moments ever. Without saying much, it involves the Millennium Falcon. Personally, the scenes involving Rey when she was separated from her friends were a bit more fun than those between her friends. Honestly, there are a few scenes between the main trio, not every scene, but there is one that stands out in particular, where I just began to question the chemistry between them. I know that one of the key differences between this and the other two trilogies is that it is the shortest of the timelines. The original trilogy spans about four or five years and the prequels last even longer. This entire trilogy lasts about a year. It’s kind of mind-boggling if you think about it. Even though you have less time to develop these characters off-screen, it still somewhat unfortunate that the movie’s quality suffered as a result.

Speaking of character flaws, let’s talk about some of the newer additions to the movie. I’m not gonna go too deep into the new characters, but what I can say about them is that they sort of make me reflect upon “The Last Jedi.” What I mean is that whenever a new character in that movie is introduced, it takes some amount of time for me to just want them to disappear. The only new character in that film that really brought something to the table for me was the one played by Benicio Del Toro because he seemed to have some hint of swagger to him. I didn’t like Holdo, I didn’t like Rose (who is much better in this movie better by the way), the force kids didn’t really seem to add much of anything. Kind of like that, the new characters introduced to this film were also kind of forgettable. Granted, they’re better than those introduced in “Episode VIII,” but nevertheless. Nobody made me roll my eyes and no one took away my dignity. Even if the new characters were not that great, you could still tell me that they were in the movie for a reason and I’d probably be on your side.

Case and point, Keri Russell’s character of Zorii Bliss. As the main adventurers are in the middle of their quest, they run into this woman, thus leading to an explanation of her past history with one of the film’s other characters. Again, I’m trying to be vague with this review, because knowing some people, they consider minute details spoilers, so I am going to fulfill those people’s wishes. I like her costume design, and I’ll reiterate, she serves her purpose when the movie needs her, but if she was taken out of the movie, I would probably not care all that much. But, movie’s gotta movie.

Speaking of new characters, I also, to my disappointment, didn’t like D-O, the new green droid that was introduced. I am not saying I was highly anticipating D-O to be the scene stealer of the film or anything, but if there was one character that was probably created SPECIFICALLY for this movie just to get somebody out of the house to go buy a toy, this would be the one. D-O is along for the ride, but it’s another one of those characters that could literally be removed from the script and bring no negative effect to the table. Well, maybe except Disney who won’t be making as much money from people who may go out and buy D-O merchandise in the meantime. It would be fine if D-O had more dimension as a character, but there’s barely anything that I could say about D-O that makes him resemble a character full of personality, and full of charisma. You can make the argument that a character like BB-8 was mainly created to sell toys, but the thing is, BB-8 is charming, serves the plot very well, and doesn’t necessarily feel tacked on. BB-8 has basically been a centerpiece to the films he’s appeared in so far, not to mention this entire trilogy. D-O could have been something special, but the somewhat lackluster writing says otherwise.

I also gotta be honest, and I don’t know if I should be entirely surprised, but General Hux has become more of a joke for each movie that he’s in. Here, it’s almost insulting. He starts out well in this film for the most part, and I was entertained when he was on screen, but as the movie gets a bit closer to finishing its first hour, his character does something that honestly got on my nerves. I am not gonna go into detail about what he does, but I don’t know if J.J. Abrams or Chris Terrio or even Colin Trevorrow years back, when he was scheduled to helm this movie, made this decision, but it come off HORRIBLY when delivered on screen. It felt like something ways off from Hux’s personality and it was rainbows and unicorns kinds of impractical. Some people I know have been somewhat displeased with Hux in “The Last Jedi,” a notion I kind of agree with by the way. However, in that movie, I still got a sense of Hux being himself. He still felt like the same character introduced in “The Force Awakens.” It felt like a sligthly natural progression. While Hux is still kind of himself in this film as well, there’s just a moment where I felt dumbfounded as a viewer watching him on screen.

I’ll say this again, Lando’s back! This is something I was personally rather excited for, because I think Lando is one of the many highlights of the original trilogy. It’s hard to list any bad characters from said trilogy, but if there are any, Lando ain’t one of them. How is he in this movie? Well, without spoiling much, he brings some fun to the table, but he isn’t really in the movie all that much. Is that a bad thing? Given the movie’s story structure, I wouldn’t say that’s a bad thing at all, but if you were expecting a Lando extravaganza, you’re not gonna get that. He plays a somewhat minor role in the film, but all of his scenes are watchable and easy to enjoy.

Now let’s get to this one of the most odd yet interesting additions to this film’s cast of characters, Palpatine. Before we go any further, let me just address that people behind this film have stated that it was always the plan to bring back The Emperor. I honestly don’t know if I buy that. I think that’s just a protective statement to avoid turning audiences off. I would have NEVER envisioned The Emperor coming back for this movie, or the sequel trilogy in the first place. Remember that first trailer for the movie? The one they showed at Star Wars Celebration in April? Once I heard Palpatine’s infamous laugh for the first time, I was shivering to my core. It was something so out of left field at the time, that it made my interest meter for the movie go up a couple notches. At the same time however, the more I thought about it, the more nervous I became. I say that because as much as I love the fact that we get to see Palpatine one more time, I was worried that his appearance here would undermine everything in previously established material. Most specifically, “Return of the Jedi,” which may be his most prominent film. Why? Becuase SPOILERS, it’s been 36 years since that movie came out, WHO CARES? He dies. And it’s not just the fact that he dies that I was worried about, I also felt apprehensive because of the way he died. The ending of “Return of the Jedi” is probably my favorite endings of the “Star Wars” franchise (aside from “Rogue One”), partially because the way The Emperor goes out is chill-inducing. Between the powerful score given by John Williams, Vader’s conflict, Luke’s near-death experience, and the massive stakes at hand, it makes The Emperor’s fate all the more meaningful and emotionally satisfying. Seeing the smoke rise from the pit is a feast for the eyes and ears, and I thought that was a fine bow tie for his character. But no, I guess for some reason he’s returned to the party. I was honestly worried for a number of reasons. Two of which I’ll give here. 1. Again, The Emperor died in a way that was satisfying and the way he went out feels like a way that would be difficult to recover from. 2. The marketing seemed to promise Palpatine, but I did not think it was clear as to how much of him we’d be getting. After all, his voice is heard a lot, but I only remember seeing him physically in probably just one TV spot. That and one of the early posters.

So how was Palpatine? Not bad, to be quite honest. There is no way, at least at this point that I could be convinced that Palpatine was supposed to be the endgame the whole time, but inserting him in this movie was surprisingly solid. I mean, you can make the argument that Palpatine’s character being a centerpiece of all three trilogies in some way bring something to the table, but I’m not sure I’d completely agree. Nevertheless, just about any character interaction with him was tense and had my full attention. Ian McDiarmid played him like Slash can play a guitar! I am not going to dive deep into his character because there is a good chance that any effective thing I can say about him would be somewhere in spoiler-territory. I’ll just say this… He doesn’t just feel like a bad guy who wants to do bad guy things. He legit feels like a threat, as he should, and a necessary part of the film’s overall story and conflict. Overall, I dug him being here.

Speaking of things I dug, one thing that stood out to me at the start of the movie happened to be Rey, and the reason for that is because she apparently is kind of the Jedi definition of a showoff. She has these abilities that I think almost no other person in history could ever achieve. I will admit, when I first saw this, I kind of liked it. This new trilogy has shown was in which the force has perhaps evolved so to have this all powerful being is not completely unbelievable. Again, I already said I dug it, such a comment about liking this might almost be irrelevant at this point. BUT… There are a couple moments where I legit thought I was watching a piece of fantastical and far-fetched fan-fiction come to life. There are some things done with the force in this movie that I do not remember seeing much in “Star Wars” prior to this movie. This movie has a point where it becomes seemingly convenient in terms of how the force works. Sometimes it might be cool, maybe even badass, sometimes it just doesn’t work. There’s a moment in particular between Rey and Kylo on a desert that I want to say I like, but the Movie Reviewing Moron part of me wants to question whatever it was I just saw.

Sticking with Rey and Kylo, they have a number of scenes together in the movie, and there are some neat moments between them. Specifically fights, conversations, and more. Although if I had to list a complaint in the movie that might be my biggest of all, it would have to be this one scene between the two of them at the very end. It’s something that starts off as charming and sweet, and then becomes something that continues to piss me off. I have a feeling that if you are under a certain mindset going into the film you might enjoy whatever it is I won’t talk about whatsoever, but it just didn’t work for me.

Continuing off of what I just said, the final half hour to forty five minutes of this movie is full of fan service. Almost in the same way such a fraction of “Avengers: Endgame” was for the MCU. I won’t go into details about the fan service specifically. Some of it worked and some of it didn’t. Listen, that thing that I mentioned pissed me off in the last paragraph, I AM NOT GONNA SPOIL A THING, but if you pay attention, the thing that pissed me off personally is part of said fan service. And having said that, I almost wonder what the people behind this movie were thinking while making it. Keep in mind, while a good number of people seemed to enjoy “The Last Jedi,” I and many others was not really satisfied with it. This movie, in a way, seems to try to give something to everyone. Whether they liked “The Last Jedi,” hated it. Or whether they liked the other “Star Wars” movies, maybe hated those as well, it seems that a lot of time writing the screenplay went into focusing on elements that made other “Star Wars” screenplays what they are, but also what made “The Last Jedi” liked by certain people. This movie, even though it acknowledges the existence of “The Last Jedi,” sort of feels like an apology letter to viewers for “The Last Jedi.” Having disliked “The Last Jedi” myself, I can’t complain too much, but it feels like a script that is supposed to cater to anybody who ever watched “Star Wars” and admired a piece of it. This brings a complication into the mix. There will be things that will inevitably piss off some people, but there will also be things that will floor those same people in a positive way. For all I know, there could be someone out there that loves all things “Star Wars” that might end up liking EVERYTHING in this movie. I’m sure they’re out there.

I do not have all that much more to say about “The Rise of Skywalker,” but I gotta say as an ending to a nine film saga, this is surprisingly satisfying. I was worried that J.J. Abrams wouldn’t stick the landing, I was worried that I would feel unfulfilled for some reason, or the direction in this film will highlight a completely rushed ending. I gotta say one thing though. As much I enjoy having gotten my own opportunity to see an entire “Star Wars” trilogy with both previously established and newly established characters in theaters, I do not know if this film in particular is as fulfilling overall compared to the ending of “Return of the Jedi.” Again, I’m not going to spoil anything, but that film ended on such a note where the characters many of us have come to love got just about everything that they have come to earn. Admittedly, having seen this new ending, I WON’T GO INTO detail, but one character “acquires” something new that hasn’t been acquired yet that combines fan service and pure emotion. It also solves a complaint. What complaint? Not gonna tell ya. If I ever do a spoiler talk, I’ll be sure to bring this up.

Overall, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is entertaining, visually impressive (which shouldn’t be surprising, it’s “Star Wars”), and one more thing I will mention is this, because I feel I should not leave you all hanging without a mention of John Williams kicking ass with his score. I mentioned earlier that his score is heavily reliant on nostalgic themes, but whenever there is a scene that is heavy on said nostalgia or one that really needs a certain mood, Williams is there to bring the goods. I need time to see where I’ll rank this score, but as of now, this is one of the absolute best “Star Wars” scores I have ever heard. Having witnessed comments about this being the last “Star Wars” score from John Williams, I think he went out with an absolute bang. Williams, this world, nor does a galaxy far far away, deserve you. You are a god, enough said.

In the end, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is a flawed, but simultaneously charming finale to a nine film saga that has been going on for over forty years. Once more, I’ll bring up “The Last Jedi,” and I will say even though that film has glimmers of entertainment, it does not feel like a story worthy of the “Star Wars” name. This sequel is a bombastic roller coaster that is worth seeing, especially if you are a fan of the “Star Wars” franchise because I can probably guarantee that even if you end up not liking the movie overall, there will ultimately be SOMETHING to enjoy. But I must say one thing, and this is probably going to piss off some people.

So I have the unpopular opinion, although over the years I have found this unpopular opinion to be a bit more popular than I anticipated, of “Revenge of the Sith,” the finale to the prequel trilogy, being one of my favorite “Star Wars” movies. Another movie which I consider to be just as great is “Return of the Jedi,” the finale of the original trilogy. If I had to be honest, my thoughts on “The Rise of Skywalker” are not that positive compared to my thoughts on the other two movies I mentioned. I liked it, quite a bit in fact. But if I had to give the honest truth, “The Rise of Skywalker” is my least favorite of the three trilogy finales the saga has had so far. Even with that in mind, it’s still good. At the same time though, this does bring up one positive regarding the “Star Wars” saga as a whole, and a negative as well, depending on how you look at it. The finales of all the trilogies make up the one portion of the saga that is entirely positive in one way or another. Keep in mind, I love all the films in the original trilogy, so the beginning, middle, and end all work there. But “The Phantom Menace” was a fail to start off the prequel trilogy, and speaking of prequel failures, I also wasn’t a fan of the middle act of the trio of films, “Attack of the Clones.” Similarly, this most recent sequel trilogy had the disappointing middle entry “The Last Jedi.” The finales all worked, even this one, to my complete surprise. With that being said, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is worth a watch, especially in a big, obnoxious movie theater with fantastic sound, and I’m going to give it a rather high 6/10. As much as I enjoyed the movie, I think a 6 is a fair grade. Would I watch it again? Oh, you betcha. And technically, this film has some of the best sound and visual effects of the year, which isn’t new for a “Star Wars” film. But story-wise, there is an argument to make that even though I love how quick this movie progresses, it almost gets to that point where it becomes rushed. If the newer characters were better and if MAYBE it tried to focus going down one particular path as opposed to catering to a bunch of different demographics, the score could potentially be higher.

With all of what I just said in mind, this movie honestly has notable flaws, not to mention things that piss me off. But this movie is also satisfying overall, and the many positives of the movie tend to outweigh the negatives. It’s not as bad as I thought it would be, and most importantly, it’s better than both “The Last Jedi” and “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” both movies which by the way, I felt disappointed by. I want to thank everyone for giving a great saga of films to remember. I hope various future “Star Wars” projects work out and I am looking forward to the future of the franchise should I continue to tune in. Thanks for reading this review! Next week is the limited release of the all new war film “1917.” It is going to be hitting theaters everywhere this January, but honestly this is a movie that I need to see as soon as possible because I have a feeling that it is going to be one of the best directed and well-shot movies of this particular release year. It comes out Christmas Day, which I’m busy on, but hopefully I can get my butt in a seat as soon as possible. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or if you want greater access to the blog, use a WordPress account. Be sure to like this post and share it with your friends, and check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker?” What did you think about it? Or, now that the three main “Star Wars” trilogies are concluded, which is your favorite? The prequels? The originals? Or the sequels? You know what, here’s another question. How would you personally rank the three trilogies? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Jexi (2019): Smartphony

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“Jexi” is directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who also co-wrote the movie together. This film stars Adam Devine (Pitch Perfect, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates), Alexandra Shipp (X-Men: Apocalypse, Love, Simon), Michael Peña (Ant-Man, Dora and the Lost City of Gold), and Rose Byrne (Damages, Neighbors) in a story about a guy who is too attached to his phone. The main character of Phil uses his phone which has this voice control service named Jexi, pretty similar to Siri, Google, Alexa, or Cortana if that’s still a thing. The film eventually arrives at a point where it is established that the phone is controlling Phil’s life, perhaps in an abusive manner. So, basically imagine if Siri became HAL from “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Going into “Jexi,” I honestly had little to no hopes for this movie whatsoever. I watched the trailer before going in and even though it put a slight smile on my face for one moment, I thought this movie was just going to plain suck. But at the same time, the plot can resonate with society today, so maybe it could be a fine allegory for how much we as people rely on our phones. Once they’re in our sights, or in our hands, we’re hooked. This point is emphasized at the very beginning of the film. The main character enjoys playing on his phone, he uses it as an alarm clock, he uses it as a calendar, and when it falls when accidentally bumping into someone, he tends to attach more value onto the device than other people. So when Phil’s phone breaks, I as an audience member got a sense that this incident sort of ruined his life.

Speaking of ruining lives, I think my life has officially been tossed to the ground, shattered, stepped on, and in need of repair at the Geek Squad. This movie… I don’t even know what to say except… WOW. This was one of my least anticipated films I have seen all year, and I honestly can’t say it’s the worst I’ve seen this year. But… To call this movie Shakespeare would be impractical to unimaginable degrees. F*ck! This! Movie! I mean… Seriously! I still don’t even know how to describe what just happened! My head is spinning as I write this! If I had to be honest, out of all the movies I have seen this year, aside from John Travolta’s “The Fanatic,” this is definitely the one that I will remember as that “so bad it’s good” type of film. Because a lot of elements are inserted to make something interesting, but it’s funny for the wrong reasons. Granted, this is a comedy, and the job of a comedy is to make me laugh. I cannot say I was happy with myself for laughing because I felt like what I was watching could have been written by Patrick Star from “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

Without spoiling anything, here are my main thoughts on this movie’s BEGINNING, MIDDLE, and END… In separate paragraphs.

BEGINNING:
The first act provides a fine sense of where this movie will eventually go. It establishes our society’s insatiable hankering for smartphones. The humor is a little bit mixed, but when it’s bad, it easily messes with my brain. Most of the standout moments and lines, kind of to my surprise, come from the AI. BUT THE MAIN CHARACTER IS STUPID.

MIDDLE:
Alright, this part is not too bad. I think the chemistry between the main character and his love interest is a tad off. Although wait a minute… DID THEIR CHEMISTRY JUST CLICK?! WHAT AM I WATCHING?! Also… That phone is starting to annoy me a bit.

END:
Never thought I’d say this, but “Jexi” has somehow built itself up pretty well. I’m somewhat irritated by the movie, but I do think it is funny at times, maybe for reasons I can’t live with, but things seemed to have moved in the right direc–wait wait wait! WHAT?! NO! F*ck this s*it! I’m done! I can’t! Why is this happening? This makes no sense!

As of this point, “Jexi” has tarnished my soul and made me feel somewhat insignificant.

As mentioned, THE MAIN CHARACTER IS STUPID. Granted, that is kind of the point of the movie. I guess Phil is supposed to represent the stereotype of a phone addict. Phil uses his phone to control pretty much every aspect of his life. He’s that kind of person who would work at a job for a good portion of time and still try to ask his phone what the fastest route to work is. Granted, he is in a major city so it’s not completely nonsensical, but it still feels weird! Also, when Phil first gets a phone with Jexi on it, he needs to agree to various terms and conditions. You know how a lot of people join something new without reading the obnoxiously long terms and conditions? There’s this joke where Phil just blindly accepts whatever is in front of him. It takes some time for him to want to switch to a new phone. He’s incredibly petrified given his recent situation and just takes whatever phone is given to him. There’s no process as to how he manages to get a phone, he just takes one and walks away. So he gets a new phone, which also has Jexi on it. He’s given the terms and conditions again. And just like last time, he doesn’t read through them! WHAT ARE YOU STUPID?! I’m pretty sure in a situation like this, that MIGHT have something to do with what’s happening here! It sounds absurd, but I think Captain Obvious whispered in my ear as this movie went on! As I expected, this leads to Jexi eventually activating herself and recognizing Phil. And then I had to suffer through the rest of this crap!

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I will give credit to Jexi though for being a proper definition of what a crazy AI on a phone could be. It follows you around, it’s with you forever, and it has all of your information to use against you. In fact, Jexi is voiced by Rose Byrne and she is PERFECT in her role. There is not a moment where this felt like I wasn’t listening to a phone robot. Well done!

Although one of the more interesting characters in the film, even though she is part of an off and on marathon of interactions is Cate. The reason why I find her so interesting is because she is not attached any electronic devices. She mentions at one point that she used to be about that sort of life, but she gave up and decided to focus more on reality. I for one went in the opposite direction, where I gave up on reality for a greater dive into social media. It does make me wonder though, is it worth talking to a bunch of people I don’t know? Because there’s a high chance that I won’t meet everyone I talk to online, so do we have real relationships? It is a question worth considering.

Although aside from Phil, there are two characters in this movie I hate with a burning passion. One of them is Denice, who happens to be working at a phone store Phil makes multiple trips to during the movie. As I saw her in multiple scenes, I just had to ask. WHY is she here? She should be fired! For all I know she could be one of the higher-ups there, but wouldn’t somebody call, USING A PHONE THEY PROBABLY BOUGHT FROM THE STORE, to complain about their experience to the corporate office or something? I am just dumbfounded! How did she get a job working at a phone store, if she is making fun of a target demographic for the smartphone industry? Is it supposed to be played for laughs? I guess. But in reality, this does not make sense! It’s like if I applied for a job at Amazon and I made fun of everybody who chose the fastest shipping options. I would not be the prime pick for them!

Speaking of terrible work environments and people in them, let’s talk about Phil’s boss in this movie. Phil works at this company that may as well have been created because maybe the writers could not use the name BuzzFeed. Essentially, it is a bunch of people’s jobs, including Phil’s, to come up with random click-bait type lists that will go viral for like a day until they create a new one that also might last for a day in terms of popularity. Phil’s boss is played by Michael Peña, who isn’t really as much of a dick as say Kevin Spacey from “Horrible Bosses,” or… well, Kevin Spacey, but he’s just annoying. There’s this gag where people have to drop beats to let him move away from a certain area and it made me want to beat myself in the face.

But the absolute worst thing about this movie is the ending. I talked about it a little bit, but I need to dive a little deeper because… F*CK! A lot of what happens with Jexi in this film may be rather supernatural or unrealistic to a certain standard, but I was still able to let it slide because at times, it was funny. Then we get to the ending. The big… fat… ending, where all hell and its fiendish minions break loose. I will not go into much detail, but something truly significant happens during the ending, that would probably work if it were a nightmare heavily involving technology, but if it were put into reality, it would come off as insane. I’m still flabbergasted, I’m still a little hurt, and this was ultimately the biggest turnoff that I can point out in “Jexi” because the second act seemed to have sparked a slight sense of improvement in the movie, and all of a sudden, this s*it happens. It just goes to show, a bad ending can ruin a good movie. Granted, “Jexi” was average at best before this, but this was a huge downfall. At least it’s only 84 minutes! …Well, 84 minutes of doom.

“OK Google, set a reminder on my calendar for every day for the rest of civilization to never watch Jexi again.”

In the end, “Jexi” tries to be hilarious, but just manages to be a defect of a movie. I’d rather be stuck in the woods with no bars on my phone, holding a 5% charge, and have a high possibility of being eaten by a bear than watch “Jexi” again. Maybe if I’m 21 and happen to be drunk, I’d slap it on the TV and see what happens. Maybe I’d laugh my ass off, because this is not just a bad movie, it’s occasionally got that so bad it’s good vibe. It has a lot of aspects worth questioning, both for good and bad reasons. And with that notion in mind, it could make the movie watchable. But in all seriousness, I’m going to give “Jexi” a 3/10. One last thing, I know this movie was probably never supposed to be a standout for its technical aspects, but the cinematography was SO OFF-PUTTING at times. There are multiple scenes where the cinematographer or the director just had this fetish to zoom in or out on something. This almost reminded of why I don’t watch shows like “The Office.” The camera is always in motion, it feels kind of uncomfortable. Just… “Jexi” can suck it.

Thanks for reading my totally objective and not at all opinionated review. This movie somehow managed to turn out better than I originally thought it would, but that must not say much at all, because I thought this could have been the worst movie of the year. Turns out it’s just… another bad flick. And speaking of movies where phones happen to be possessed, I will have another review up this week, specifically for the new movie “Countdown.” I just got to see it at an advance screening last Thursday, and I have some things to say about it. Be sure to look out for that review, and if you want to be notified of said review, please follow Scene Before either with an email if you want to get news about my blog in your inbox, or with a WordPress account to like or comment and get informed about the latest at Scene Before through your very own WordPress feed! Stay tuned for more great content, and check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Jexi?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite voice control AI? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Brightburn (2019): Superman: The Quest for Rest In Peace

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“Brightburn” is directed by David Yarovesky (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Hive) and stars Jackson A. Dunn (Shameless, Legendary Dudas), Elizabeth Banks (The LEGO Movie, The Hunger Games), David Denman (The Office, Traffic Light), Matt Jones (Mom, Breaking Bad), and Meredith Hagner (Men at Work, Search Party). This film revolves around a family and its child, Brandon Breyer. Brandon is growing up fast, and at times seems to be a relatively normal child. But we soon discover that he has powers, he sometimes behaves poorly, and he has various elements of a psychopath. Basically, take Superman, but make him malevolent, wicked, and some sort of equivalent to a devil worshiper.

I originally saw the first trailer for “Brightburn” last year, and I was somewhat excited for this film upon seeing that trailer. It looked beautiful, bold, and a tad scary too. In a way, this film is a mix of horror and a traditional comic book style story. The movie is not based on any preexisting property by name, even though it does contain similarities to “Superman.” To add even more comic book and superhero elements into the mix, let me just point out that James Gunn, director of the two recent “Guardians of the Galaxy” films, has a producer credit on this movie. This film is also kind of a family project, because the two writers are related to Gunn. You’ve got Mark Gunn, a cousin of James. And Brian Gunn, who happens to one of James’ brothers. It’s clear that this movie was partially done with combined passion, and it’s nice to see a family come together to entertain audiences. Granted, I don’t like everything they’ve done. I think “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” may be one of the most overrated movies of the past few years. And both Brian and Mark wrote “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,” which may be my least favorite movie with The Rock in it.

But with all of the creative forces combining together for “Brightburn,” how did they all add up? O-K? I guess? This was not my most anticipated film of 2019, but it was up there in terms of films I was looking forward to. In fact, of all the films that came out during its particular opening weekend, it was probably the one I wanted to see the most. Granted, I ended up seeing “Booksmart,” which ended up being good. I still have no interest in seeing “Aladdin,” but I finally got around to seeing “Brightburn” only to have numerous less than positive things to say about it. I mean, it’s not all bad. But it seriously could have been a lot better.

As a concept, it is certainly intriguing, and there are a lot of ideas that go into the concept that are executed fairly well. That being said however, this almost seems like a pitch movie.

“It’s gonna be Superman, but evil! Comic book movies are the thing right now! Let’s see what we can do with one of the most iconic comic stories of all time, but with a sinister twist! It’s gonna be great!”

This movie ultimately reminds me of a movie like “Lucy.” Remember “Lucy” from 2014? If you haven’t seen “Lucy,” Scarlett Johansson plays this girl who gets drugged by some less than friendly people, all the while discovering how to use more than 10% of her brain. It seems like a good movie to write with a couple of people around you, discussing ideas of how to use one’s brain at a greater level than what mankind is traditionally capable of. But it doesn’t mean anything for the movie in terms of how watchable or compelling it will turn out in the end, it’s just a collection of seemingly rad ideas.

If there were an evil Superman per se, this movie would be a good example of how such a character would work. In fact, I literally do mean evil Superman because the movie starts off with a crash on a farm, and the crash involves a baby boy. This baby grows up, we see him seemingly hitting puberty, and he becomes a stalker, an aggressive talker, and a violent maniac.

I also gotta give props to everybody acting in this movie, and this even includes our lead kid actor, Jackson A. Dunn. He owns the part as Brandon. He’s almost a perfect embodiment for a child of his age in terms of how he presents himself (despite being more aggressive than the average person). When he would cover up truths or lie, I felt like that would usually be how a kid of his age would do such a thing. And he, thankfully, did not overplay his character in any scenes involving dark violence, gore, etc. I guess in that sense, I might as well give props to the director for properly handling this film’s scenes.

But sticking to acting, the two standout performances in the movie have to be from the parents played by Elizabeth Banks and David Denman. The best part about their characters to me really sticks out like a sore thumb during the halfway point, specifically how they view the main situation of the whole movie. And it just goes to show how far Elizabeth Banks’ character would go to unconditionally love her kid. Granted, there are slight hints of wanting what’s best for him. But at the same time, she comes off as one of those mothers who will put her kid before anyone else regardless of how they behave or what they tend to do in their daily life. This sort of reminds me of those situations where a parent will endlessly defend their child or deny any of their faults. Her character’s thoughts and actions are completely different compared to those of David Denman’s character, who thinks the kid is up to no good, he’s violent, and he’s showing no signs of being a sane person.

My last compliment I can really give to this movie is that it does look really nice. The cinematography kind of made me feel like taking several deep breaths of fresh air. Granted, I did watch the movie through a 4K Blu-ray, but still. I also dig the farm location, I think overall, it suits the movie very well.

In the end, “Brightburn” is a movie with an interesting twist on a well-known concept, but I don’t know if I’d ever watch it again. Comic book movies are currently more popular than they’ve ever been. This is not based on a comic book, but if you told me it was, I wouldn’t be surprised. One trend I’m seeing now is the rise of comic book villain stories on film. We just saw it in “Venom” last year, which sucked hard. And we’re seeing it again this October with “Joker.” Thankfully, this is not anywhere near as unwatchable as “Venom.” But this movie doesn’t add anything big or bold to the type of genre with which it is trying to associate. “Brightburn” is a tad scary, it is somewhat entertaining, it is well-acted, but it doesn’t have an enormous “oomph” factor to it. I’m going to give “Brightburn” a 6/10. Thanks for reading this review! This weekend is the release of Brad Pitt’s “Ad Astra,” which I hear is getting great reviews so far, and I cannot wait to check it out whenever I can! I’m hoping to go see it Friday, because I do have Fridays off from school, so it would be good timing on my part. Plus, I am busy Sunday evening, so I can’t go see it then. Also, while not completely official, I wanted to touch upon another recent trend in the movie world, specifically “alternate programming at the movies.” If you have been following the news lately, sporting events and TV shows are making their way to cinema screens, and I want to talk about that! Be sure to follow Scene Before if you want hear me talk about this, or other movie-related topics! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Brightburn?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite “Superman” movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

CON ANNOUNCEMENT: I’m Going to Terrificon 2019!

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! If you have followed my blog over the past couple of years, you’d know that I occasionally cover my experiences at conventions, and the first one I ever did was the annual Terrificon. Therefore, it should perhaps be no surprise that I am returning to the con for the third time in a row! If you have read my recent “halftime” post, you’d notice that one of my announcements for August is my return to this con. But for the sake of tradition, I thought I would provide a preview to this event in depth.

For those who don’t know about Terrificon, it is an annual event held every year in the state of Connecticut. In recent years, the event has taken place at the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, 15 minutes away from its main competitor, Foxwoods. This year, the event returns in Mohegan Sun’s Earth Expo & Convention Center, a venue where the convention happened to be held for the first time ever in 2018, making it one of the earliest events to have occurred in said spot. The con primarily focuses on comic books, comic artists, gaming, cosplay, sci-fi, fantasy, animation, and more. It is organized by Big Fedora Marketing, LLC and Mitch Hallock, who has spent years in design and marketing. They are also responsible for another Connecticut-based convention, CTGamerCon. I have never been, but I have been curious about it for awhile. Per usual, this convention is being held this August, but due to the actions one of the convention’s competitors, they have decided to hold this year’s con on the second weekend of August (9-11) as opposed to the third weekend of August (16-18). Why? Another New England con, specifically Fan Expo Boston, is being held on August’s third weekend instead of their usual spot, which is the second weekend.

Regardless of whatever time it is held, the organizers are definitely promising a fun time. There are multiple recognizable celebrity guests, a number of big comic artists, and tons of shops to visit for all your nerdy needs.

One notable celebrity crew uniting for Terrificon comes from the show “Animaniacs.” This con is said to have Rob Paulsen (Yakko), Jess Harnell (Wakko), and Maurice LaMarche (Ralph the Guard). All three guests will be showing up, signing autographs, and doing photo ops. They’ll also have the option to voice record for a certain price. I cannot say whether or not I’ll be meeting all three of these people, but Jess Harnell has recently gotten me curious because I just found out that he did the voice of Crash Bandicoot, the iconic video game character from the 1990s.

Other voiceover related guests include Larry Kenney (SilverHawks, ThunderCats), Tony Todd (Transformers, Justice League), Maile Flanagan (Ice Age, Naruto), and Phil LaMarr (Family Guy, Star Wars: The Clone Wars). Of all these voice actors, I’d be very likely to meet Phil LaMarr, for one thing, he plays Ollie on “Family Guy” and I would love to hear his character “see how things are looking” at the con. But he also played a smaller role in Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction,” which I just watched for the first time and reviewed here on Scene Before. I would probably bring my “Pulp Fiction” Blu-ray for him to sign, maybe chat with him for at least a few minutes, because why not? Depends on the line though…

Although, if I had speculate from here, I am willing to bet LaMarr’s line will be considerably short compared to a guest like Val Kilmer. As some of you may know, he played Batman back in the 1990s when Joel Schumacher’s “Batman Forever” came out. So I am expecting at least one “Bat Nipple” Batman cosplay at this convention. It has to happen. Granted, George Clooney could have shown up and this would probably be much more likely, but Kilmer had the nips as well! But I am somewhat excited for him to be here, that way I have the opportunity to possibly ask some things about “Top Gun: Maverick,” a movie coming out next year that I am really excited for. Unfortunately however, I don’t know if I am going to get to do that, because I have no desire to get an autograph or photo op with Kilmer, especially when looking at the prices that he asks for. But I also looked at the panel schedule for this year and it appears, unless there is not enough specification or I am just completely missing something, there is going to be no panel for Kilmer.

Speaking of “Batman,” another guest related to the franchise, Robert Wuhl, AKA Alexander Knox in Tim Burton’s 1989 “Batman” movie, will also be showing up. However, even though I imagine a lot of people are desiring to stand near Wuhl, I think there is one guest I have yet to mention that will knock some people’s socks off.

BILLY.

DEE.

WILLIAMS.

That’s right, Harvey Dent himself, but much more importantly, LANDO F*CKING CALRISSIAN from the “Star Wars” franchise will be showing up to Terrificon. I would probably bet $1,000, and appropriately so since the con is taking place in a casino, that Billy Dee Williams will have the biggest line for all the con’s guests. He has set himself up as a geek icon! These two franchises are enough to get him some attention at this con. Plus, he is going to be in the upcoming “Star Wars” film, “The Rise of Skywalker,” which will easily generate some attention. I will definitely be going to Williams’ panel, which is being held on Saturday at 1PM. However, I do not think I’ll be getting a signature or photo op. Why? Just look at the prices! For personal items, a signature is $100. For an item at the table that happens to be 8 x 10 inches, it’s $105. For an item at the table that happens to be 11 x 17 inches, it’s $110! Granted, it would be nice to stand in line and make a commitment for Billy Dee Williams, but based on statistics, not only are the autographs expensive, but the website suggests that selfies at the table are not happening, and if you get an autograph, you cannot get a selfie with the purchase.

Plus… I already met him, so I’m good.

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Yeah, we talked back in 2016 when I stood in line for him at Rhode Island Comic Con. I asked how he was doing, he said he had a decent lobster meal recently, I got his autograph, and I showed him something that I thought he might appreciate. Before getting into Billy Dee Williams’ line, I ran into a shop at the con that sold drones. Believe it or not, it’s called Cloud City Drones, which if you know your “Star Wars” lore, Cloud City is the city where the climax of “The Empire Strikes Back” basically unfolds. I’m not sure if he heard what I said, because I showed him a piece of paper that was essentially an advertisement for the place. But the way he responded, and I’m not saying he’s a jerk, because I’ve seen him, I can say he’s calm and well-mannered, but he said “That’s… Star Wars.” The way I thought he said that almost made it sound like that maybe he thought I wanted to know what Cloud City was, but I got what I wanted so I was satisfied. But that’s not why I am not meeting him again, I just mentioned the whole overpriced autograph thingy. If anything, I’d enjoy talking to him for a second, ask how he’s doing, and maybe remind him that we have met once in the past. But when I already have an autograph from Williams, not to mention one that cost $50 for the signature, plus $8 more for a protector, I just gotta say, “Eh, I’m good.” There are certain celebrities that I wouldn’t mind having multiple autographs from, in fact, there has been a case where that has happened for me, but if Williams’ signature were cheaper, chances are I’d jump in line and pay up.

I will say however, when it comes to lesser known guests, there is one that I plan on interacting with at some point. I already met this guy at New York Comic Con last year by coincidence, but I barely got to talk with him. Although since he is on a list to visit Terrificon this year, I am putting out all the stops to meet Robert Franzese, AKA “Real Life Peter Griffin.” If I can’t meet Seth MacFarlane, this is the next best thing! I am subscribed to this guy’s YouTube channel, he’s hilarious, and I love how implements the “Grinds My Gears” gag into his videos. In fact, when he announced that he was coming to Terrificon, he implemented that very gag! Check out this video below!

I mean, the resemblance is uncanny! I will say, if they are serious about that live-action hybrid “Family Guy” movie and they want a realistic looking guy for Peter Griffin, we have your actor!

One of the things that I have personally noticed about Terrificon is that it is a good con for families, because if you have a child that wants to meet their favorite celebrities, and they are eight years of age or younger, they get free admission! That however only includes admission to the con itself and does not apply to any after con activities. But there is a thing that has been around last year called the Aw Yeah Comics Fun Zone. They have numerous guests music artists providing family friendly entertainment, various activities, magic shows, tons of things for kids to enjoy. So if you have a kid and you want to come to this con, why not bring them along? Just make sure you are an adult paying for your own ticket!

But what do kids also like? Games of course! Granted, this is also adult friendly too. This year Terrificon has a list of games lined up for everyone to enjoy. One game that I have noticed was there last year, but I did not play, was “Rock Band 4.” I enjoy “Rock Band” even though I don’t play it as often as I used to, but I’m still questioning whether or not I’d give this game a shot. But one game I will inevitably be playing at the con is “The Jackbox Party Pack.” When I was at this con last year, there was a session on Friday as the con was coming to a close where a bunch of people gathered in a room to play “Jackbox” games. For those who don’t know about “The Jackbox Party Pack,” it is a series of games meant to be played with friends or at parties, and they all have this humorous flair attached to them. Some of my favorite games from the packs include “Fibbage,” “Guesspionage,” and “Trivia Murder Party.” There is a good chance that there will be a decent crowd joining in to play these games, which will definitely make the experience all the more lively. This is all going down on Friday at 7PM, but that is not the only gaming-related event I’m planning to observe, because there are a couple of sessions dedicated to “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” which are being held on Saturday. I’d probably be interested in the second session (singles) because the doubles match is being held at 12PM, which depending on how long it should go on, could interfere with me seeing Billy Dee Williams’ panel.

But for those who also like tabletop gaming, they shouldn’t have to worry about missing out, because there are plenty of sessions involving “Magic: The Gathering.” These are all happening every day at various times. Other games that are to be seen include “Transformers: Turbo Sealed,” “Star Wars: X-Wing,” and “Warhammer: Underworlds.”

Another thing this convention has is after con events. One example is happening at Mohegan Sun’s Cabaret Theatre, where you can see John Barrowman (Arrow, Doctor Who) onstage. According to Terrificon’s site, the event is said to be “filled with spontaneous stories, music, and fabulous fun.” Tickets are on sale at prices ranging from $60 to $100 depending on which tier you select.

If you ever wanted to have dinner with a celebrity, now’s your chance! Because you can sit down with a man who has undoubtedly established himself. He’s a male model, art director, historian, magician, escape artist, musician, illustrator, pop-culture lecturer, publisher, designer, and sideshow fire-eater. I’m talking about Jim Steranko, or as my words probably suggest, the coolest person EVER. Except when he’s eating fire, then he’s flamin’ hot! In the realm of comics, he’s known as an artist-writer behind “S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Captain America,” and “X-Men.” And that doesn’t even cover all of what he has done! The dinner will be held in the Passamaquiddy/Brothertown room in the Sky Convention Center and will conclude with a conversation about Steranko’s life and career. However, tickets are limited and they are $125 a pop. I probably won’t be going because it will coincide with the “Jackbox” gaming session. After all, the event is from 8-12 on Friday.

One thing I must point out in case certain people don’t know, George Perez was scheduled to appear at this convention at a certain point as part of his ongoing retirement tour. He has announced his retirement back in January and soon thereafter, it was leaked that he would be appearing at Terrificon during said tour. However, fairly recently, it was announced that he couldn’t make it and he couldn’t cancel. But fear not, because there are still items up for grabs from Perez. This is suggested on a page from Terrificon’s website announcing Perez’s cancellation.

“We are working with Mr. Pérez to obtain 275 (the same amount of autograph tickets he was going to hand out at the show) limited edition prints that he will sign and ship to TERRIFICON to be handed out to fans on a first come, first serve basis.”

So while there certainly are people, who in my opinion may be understandably upset or disappointed to know that George Perez isn’t showing up, it is also worth noting that the con is still trying to pay respect to the artist as much as they can. While I’m not particularly interested in getting a signed print from him, I do recognize Perez’s importance in the comics industry. He has been involved with both Marvel and DC, he penciled Marvel’s “The Infinity Gauntlet,” he’s responsible for DC’s 50th anniversary event, “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” he rebooted “Wonder Woman” in 1987, and he has worked on several issues for Marvel’s “The Avengers.” He has done more than enough to solidify himself as a comic book icon. I almost wouldn’t be surprised if he starts taking notes from Stan Lee and begins appearing in more comic book movies during his free time. He’s had proper relationships with the big two, Marvel and DC, so it is possible that such a thing could happen. After all, with Stan Lee gone, we need new cameos! Plus, Perez is 65, he’s got a good portion of his life let from the way things seem, and despite how retirement can be fun, maybe he’ll eventually get tired of golfing.

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One last important thing. This is a reminder that the con is occurring at the Mohegan Sun casino, and with that in mind, I am willing to bet a number of guests will be spending time doing much more than going to the con. They may want to shop, stay in the hotel, and grab a bite to eat, so if you want to save some money for activities, I’d recommend taking a gander at this link down below that will provide a bunch of deals for con goers. Keep in mind that certain deals will apply to certain days and some of these won’t even be available on any day of the con. But a deal is a deal, so click the link below to keep things real!

DEALS FOR MOHEGAN SUN ATTENDEES

I am pretty excited to appear at this year’s Terrificon, and I am going to be heading down there with a friend of mine. She got her own tickets, and we are ready to go into the con with the intention of making all other activities look dumb. If anyone knows me, happens to be reading this post, and will be either at Mohegan Sun or the con this weekend, feel free to say hi, but don’t go looking in one of the casino areas because I am not gambling this weekend. The con will most likely be my “money-waster” for these few days.

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Thanks for reading this post! I hope to see you all at Terrificon, and I would like to just remind everyone that days before I go to Connecticut, I am hoping to go see at least one movie. I’m going to be without family for a few days before heading out, I’ll have some free time on my hands, so I may want to kill some of that time by going to see at least one movie. I’m not sure what I am going to see yet, but if things work out, I might do a double feature at an AMC because they have the $5 Tuesdays deal which I often like to take advantage of. After all, there are a decent number of movies that’ll be out that I want to see such as “Hobbs and Shaw,” “Midsommar,” “Crawl,” and “The Farewell.” I also have a couple 2019 movies that I just purchased on Blu-ray that I have yet to watch. Those include “Missing Link” and “Alita: Battle Angel,” so maybe I’ll shoehorn in a review of at least one of those films. Who knows? Maybe I’ll go check out “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” again! By the way, if you have yet to read my review of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” feel free to click the link at the end of the post to expose yourself to the latest piece of work Tarantino has to offer. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, do you have tickets to 2019’s Terrificon? What kind of tickets did you get? What days are you going? Or, since it’s on topic, who is one celebrity that you wouldn’t mind paying a lot of money for more than one autograph or photo op? I’ll go with one I haven’t met yet, so I guess I’ll say Ana de Armas. I loved her in “Blade Runner 2049” and yeah, she’s good looking. I could brag to my pals back at home that she’s my new girlfriend.

I mean, look at her! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD REVIEW

AVENGERS: ENDGAME (2019): Highest Grossing Box Office Movie Ever (My Thoughts)

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! I’d like to start off this post by saying, I’m sorry if this post seems as if it is being put up late. I’ve been busy, I’ve had other posts that got in the way, and I had to (or should I say got to) go see a movie for a post I wanted to get up by the end of this weekend. I have so little time, so much to do! But with that aside, let’s stay on topic! If you have been living under a rock for the past few days, let me just say, 1: I hope you’re enjoying that rock. And 2: Chances are that at least SOME of you may have heard the big news coming out of the movie industry recently. As many may know, Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” has hit many milestones during its theatrical run, but most recently, it hit the milestone to end all milestones (at least in theaters). As of now, “Avengers: Endgame” has dethroned James Cameron’s “Avatar” as the highest-grossing film at the box office of all time. The movie has been in theaters for just about three months, and over the weekend where it was just days away from approaching its three month mark, it made “Avatar” feel blue.

Anybody? I officially quit comedy.

Nevertheless, before “Avengers: Endgame” swooped in, “Avatar,” which in my opinion is a good movie for its visual effects, not to mention a thrilling experience, but a little lackluster on some script elements, had the all-time box office record of $2,789,679,794. As of now, “Avengers: Endgame” is sitting at $2.79 billion! And I knew, from the start, that the record was bound to be broken. Let me just give a list of some records “Endgame” broke before this all happened!

  • HIGHEST GROSSING OPENING WEEKEND WORLDWIDE
  • HIGHEST GROSSING OPENING WEEKEND IN AMERICA
  • FIRST MOVIE TO PASS $300 MILLION ON OPENING WEEKEND IN AMERICA
  • FASTEST MOVIE IN ADVANCE TICKET SALES
  • FASTEST MOVIE TO $1 BILLION (5 DAYS)
  • FASTEST MOVIE TO $1.5 BILLION (8 DAYS)
  • FASTEST MOVIE TO $2 BILLION (11 DAYS, WHICH IS THE TIME IT TOOK INFINITY WAR TO REACH $1 BILLION)
  • BEST THURSDAY PREVIEW
  • BEST OPENING DAY

To me, this record shatter was inevitable as soon as the opening weekend totals were revealed. It might have been inevitable since the tickets went on sale. Remember that virtual line from Fandango? Remember AMC’s site crashing? Never forget… 4/2/2019. This movie not only had legs, but it had a sense of being this big event. After all, this is why I wanted to see the film as early as possible. This is why I bought tickets for opening Thursday! I treated my adventure to “Avengers: Endgame” as if it were an official holiday. You know how some kids count down to Christmas? That was me with “Avengers: Endgame.” Its predecessor, “Infinity War,” impressed me to no end, I declared it to be my 2nd favorite film of 2018, and this made me realize that while it is a cinematic event, it is practically something that I felt was generational. I got into the MCU when I was thirteen years old, back when I started watching the first two “Iron Man” films after recording them and watching them through my DVR. Technically speaking, I watched the original “Avengers” movie back when I was twelve, but I still had little to no realization of what the MCU actually was. I eventually got the concept, and started watching more movies that took place in this cinematic universe that I cannot even believe still exists. It felt like something my entire life has been leading up to. Yes, “The Force Awakens” was a resurrection of a property I have loved for years. Yes, I have been excited for several films from worlds I have never been exposed to before such as “Interstellar.” But as soon as the release date of “Avengers: Endgame” hit, nothing else mattered. Even though I had to go to school and do a final presentation, that was secondary to me. “Endgame” mattered. Although this does bring up one thing. We live in a society where everything feels as if it is supposed to be done in a nanosecond.

We have tiny computers that fit in a pocket. These things have a free dictionary, encyclopedia, and study book all in one! We can preorder whatever the heck we want at Dunkin’ through an app on our phone! We have streaming services that drops an entire season of a brand new show for everyone to watch so they don’t have to wait for the next episode! While I thought it was unavoidable that we would see this film become the biggest in history, there was a point where I thought I should take that statement back because of how many people went to see it when it first came out. Some people went back, but not everybody did. To this day, I have only seen the film in theaters once. As a film critic who needs to review a diverse selection of content, I need to save my money! If I had AMC Stubs A-List maybe I’d go see it again, but I am still debating on whether or not I should get it.

Although there are factors on this film getting people in the theater for a repeat viewing. For one thing, critical reviews helped. Many people related to the film industry praised the film for many aspects, not to mention the reviews that come from the fan side of things. The film received an A from CinemaScore, a 91% audience rating from Rotten Tomatoes, which is 3% less than the combined critic rating, and the film has a spot on the IMDb top 250! The public response to this film is enough to warrant a repeat viewing in some way.

But I do have one question: Did the folks behind this movie use bad marketing to get people in the theater towards the end?

As some of you may know, Marvel and crew put out another version of “Avengers: Endgame” in theaters about a month ago. This was marketed as a “rerelease.” What did this rerelease contain? No additional footage for the movie, but a tribute to Stan Lee, some cut out footage featuring the Hulk, and a preview for what audiences were going to get in “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” If anything, this is almost deceptive because while I was not exactly expecting much out of this rerelease, this brings nothing new to the table. As suggested by Box Office Mojo, the rerelease brought an increase in the movie’s domestic box office totals by 207%. I’m not calling the folks at Marvel Studios frauds. There is new stuff in the rerelease, but… barely. It’s just marketing that feels cheap, instead of calling it a “rerelease,” call it the “After Credits Special” or something.

Although this does bring up something interesting. “Avatar” had a rerelease as well. While not done in the same fashion as “Endgame” since their rerelease happened about 8 months after the film’s original release, it was little less… I guess I can say deceptive. The new cut featured extended footage of the film despite how it was already shown on home video. Nevertheless, it felt like there was a reason for the rerelease to happen based on timing and new content. Plus, let’s bring this up. “Avatar” beat “Titanic,” which is now third place in all-time box office totals, in just a month. Granted, “Endgame” beat “Titanic” faster, but that’s irrelevant. “Avatar” still remained the same film the entire time. The release an of an alternate edition didn’t happen until months later.

And I will still say, “Endgame” is better than “Avatar.” While “Avatar” is a visual spectacle, “Endgame” is that with story. Granted, if you are not familiar with the MCU, I’d say wait to watch this film until you maybe watch some other films in this universe. You would probably still have fun watching this movie, but there’s a good chance that you’d be asking some questions as to what might be happening. I know there are a lot of people, based on discoveries through the past number of years who like to point to “Avatar” as overhyped (which it kinda is), but much like “Endgame,” “Avatar” is a cinematic achievement. Granted, I don’t like how it is one of the major contributors to how we present movies in theaters (digitally). Although it helped bring the 3D craze, which isn’t a complete success, as some of you would also suggest, but there have been a number of movies that I feel have personally been enhanced through 3D technology. Movies like the “Hobbit” trilogy, “Gravity,” and “Oz the Great and Powerful.”

If I had to make a comparison, “Endgame” might start a revolution. Granted, it is a continuation of the superhero/comic book movie craze that has been going on for years now, but it could have sprung something new. And it reminds me of how much credit I also gave to the preceding installment, “Infinity War.” Why? Because that movie was essentially a culmination of a ten year span. While I do think “Infinity War” is the superior film, “Endgame” is not just a culmination, it’s the perfect capper for the MCU itself. Then again, “Far From Home” just came out and we seem to be getting at least two more phases so we’ll see what happens. The revolution I think it could start is the successes of multiple cinematic universes, if not successes, I’m at least expecting a number of attempts to be remembered through the years. However, that is not a guarantee because everyone is flocking to Marvel, but it makes me optimistic about the storylines and quality that could possibly go into future cinematic universes. DC has their own universe that seems to have gotten off to a rough start, but I think it recently turned itself around if you ask me with films like “Aquaman” and “Shazam.” Although I do think “Wonder Woman” is better than most Marvel movies so there is that. Warner Bros. seems to be having some success with their “Conjuring” universe that is quite honestly bigger than I ever thought it would be. And while there was a big bump in the road when it comes to “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” I am still curious to see what else is in store regarding the MonsterVerse.

And I am willing to bet, despite how “Avengers: Endgame” comes out on digital in just a few days, there will still be room for it in theaters. After all, it’s one of those films that kind of resembles why movie theaters were built in the first place. It’s epic, it’s boisterous, it’s glorious, it’s built up for periods of time, and the potential audiences that could show up are immense. And despite the flak that I’m probably going to continue giving the marketing team behind this film for that “rerelease” fiasco, I don’t care because this movie deserves just about every penny it earned so far (despite being released by Disney) just for its quality and ability to entertain.

Nevertheless, I am thrilled to see this in my lifetime because I think “Avengers: Endgame” is an excellent film that deserves tons of praise. I gave the film an 8/10, which still stands to this day. In fact, it’s not even the best comic book movie of the year, that honor belongs to “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” Even with that being said, “Endgame” is a game-changing movie. It feels like the cinematic events to end all cinematic events. Not only was it successful, but quite damn good. I was not alive to see this, but remember “The Phantom Menace?” At the time, that might have been the biggest cinematic event of all time. While there is still a debate on what might be the biggest of all time, “Endgame” is definitely a contender and I am happy to have this film be a part of my life.

Thanks for reading this post, I am sorry if this information appears to be irrelevant at this point, but I’m better late than never. I have a ton of things to do this week related to Scene Before, I was planning on doing this earlier but my review for “Yesterday” got in the way because… well, I had to talk about it. It was too bad to be ignored. Anyway, speaking of reviews, my next post is going to be for my review of Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” I just got back from seeing it in the theater, and I cannot wait to talk about it. It is one of those movies that is gonna be fun to describe to those who haven’t seen it yet. And for those of you who are still thinking about “Endgame” at this point for whatever reason, be sure to check out my review for “Avengers: Endgame,” which I originally posted back in April. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! And while we are on the subject of breaking records. You know what isn’t breaking records? The likes on my Facebook page! Please like my page so you can be on the lookout for Scene Before news, recent content, and maybe I’ll throw in a random thought every once in a while! I want to know, what are your thoughts on “Avengers: Endgame” breaking the all-time box office record? Also, would you say it doesn’t count? Maybe for inflation? The rerelease factor? Something else? Or, how many times did you see “Endgame” in the theater? As for myself, I only saw it once, but once that 4K disc drops, perhaps the exclusive version from Target if you want to be totally specific, I am definitely picking it up! Let me know how insane you are down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Avengers: Endgame (2019) REVIEW

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

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

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

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

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

Not to mention, the film is freaking awesome!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spider-Man (2002)

Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Spider-Man 3 (2007)

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

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