Morbius (2022): The Worst Comic Book Movie in a Long Time

“Morbius” is directed by Daniel Espinosa (Life, Safe House) and stars Jared Leto (Blade Runner 2049, Suicide Squad), Matt Smith (Last Night in Soho, Doctor Who), Adria Arjona (Good Omens, Emerald City), Jared Harris (The Crown, Mad Men), Al Madrigal (Night School, The Way Back), and Tyrese Gibson (Transformers, 2 Fast 2 Furious). This film follows Dr. Michael Morbius, a biochemist who happens to have a rare blood disease. When trying to find a cure for said disease, he instead becomes infected to the point where he is part man, part vampire.

I love comic book movies. To me, they have delivered dumptrucks of entertainment for years and have brought out some of my favorite moviegoing experiences. And for the past few MCU films, I usually make an attempt to go see them opening Thursday night just to feel the energy of the crowd. Well that, and to get the review out quicker. Although when it comes to “Morbius,” that was not on my list of movies to get excited about. Sure, I kind of like Jared Leto. He was insanely good in “The Little Things” that came out last year, and I think he has a dedication to the craft of acting that I think some people should attempt to match these days. But the reality is that Sony has been very mixed in its comic book movie craft in recent years. “Venom” was by far one of the worst comic book films of the 2010s, and I still have not seen it since going to the cinema. Although I will admit I had fun with its sequel, “Let There be Carnage,” despite its campy and obnoxious nature. Plus, the marketing for “Morbius” did promise some interesting teases. I was intrigued enough to go see the film with an open mind.

And much like the recent MCU fare from Disney (and technically Sony for the most recent example), I went to go see “Morbius” on opening Thursday. The theater was definitely not as crowded as the one for “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” although comparing the films almost feels unfair given how one has been hyped up since the dawn of time, and the other is about a character significantly fewer people recognize. But the theater was moderately filled. My Dolby Cinema experience certainly was not an empty one.

But I certainly felt empty after watching this movie.

This is not true for every single Marvel movie, but for a majority of them that I’ve seen in theaters, they can trigger all kinds of emotions from happiness to laughter to even heartbreak. Just ask Nicole Kidman from that stupid freaking ad that airs before every single movie telling me to go to an AMC, EVEN THOUGH I’M ALREADY THERE.

If you guys remember my review for “Damned!,” the movie that James S. Murray directed before he was one of the stars for “Impractical Jokers,” one thing I said in that review was unlike several other bad movies I have watched, “Damned!” made me feel nothing. I had no rage-induced outbursts, no humungous laughs for the wrong reason, no significant sigh of relief when it was over (although to be fair the movie was under an hour). As for “Morbius,” I kind of experienced the same thing, except that I was in a somewhat crowded theater with a bunch of other people who also did not utter a sound throughout the entire film.

I did facepalm once. That was something.

Let me put it this way, and this may also be unfair because it is technically a comedy, I chuckled once during the 2016 “Ghostbusters” movie. Can’t say the same for “Morbius.”

I know comic book movies are hot right now. I know “Spider-Man” is hot right now. But I almost don’t give a crap if they decided to make a movie for Morbius the Living Vampire. I never asked for it. Then again I never asked for “Joker” and yet that was one of my favorite comic book films of 2019.

When it comes to bad movies, “Morbius” is almost the worst kind of bad. Because if the movie has terrible acting, there is a chance that there is enough cheese to make me invested enough. “Batman & Robin” is a good example. “Morbius” came off more like the 2015 “Fantastic Four” film, where you have a bunch of actors, including some notable names like Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan, and they all appear to have a hang of things. They’re committed to their craft, but the script does not match their acting talents.

I’ll admit, when this movie started, it wasn’t perfect, but the buildup was not that bad. It set up a relationship between a couple kids who have something in common. The two end up separating, and their relationship is kind of the bond that holds everything together even though they drift apart for most of the film. I liked that aspect. It felt rather down to earth while showing off specific traits for the characters. It was an okay mix of exposition and character building. AND HERE IS WHERE THE POSITIVES STOP.

This movie has a fair amount of action, and comic books, not to mention their movies, are often known for having rather stylized action scenes, but just because big explosions and magic spells look pretty in “Avengers: Infinity War,” doesn’t mean every movie is going to be just like it. “Morbius” is more along the lines of “Venom,” which should not be surprising, considering how both are from Sony, where it has the darkness of the “Batman” films we have gotten over the years, but with way less competence than we usually get out of those. I get that these are technically origin stories for villains, but this kind of brings up a major concern for these characters. When I saw “Venom” I could barely tell what was going on in certain action scenes because everything is so dark, including the characters in terms of their appearance.

“Morbius” basically has a similar vibe throughout to the first “Venom” movie, with subtle differences, except that whatever fun that I had in “Venom” did not even exist in “Morbius.” “Venom” is arguably my least favorite Marvel film of any kind that has been put out in the 2010s. The fact that I am using it as the positive here baffles me to no end. THEY HAD TWO YEARS TO FIX THIS MOVIE! Paramount did it with “Sonic the Hedgehog” in less than that time after releasing their first trailer even without a worldwide pandemic! What prevented them from rewriting certain scenes and just improving them in any way they could? I get it’s a lot of money, but I guarantee you the only reasons why this movie is doing as well as it is is because of “Spider-Man.” But I don’t think it’ll help the film’s legs. This film would have legs if it had better word of mouth, and the reviews don’t reflect a collectively positive reaction. I know some people don’t like how Marvel Studios films often try to go for a laugh, but I much prefer that compared to whatever the hell this is because I felt cold, I felt sleepy, I felt emotionless throughout the picture. There was literally nothing on screen that I watched that made me smile. There were times where I dilated my eyes, but not because I was excited. It’s because I was questioning the motives of the filmmakers and possibly the studio.

I want to talk about trailers, and I do not often talk about trailers when I’m reviewing their respective movies because they’re clearly two different things. In fact, in recent years, certain films, like those from Marvel Studios, even threw in moments that never ended up appearing in the final product. Those moments were seemingly always intended to be a misdirect unless for some reason they came from a deleted scene or something of that nature (“Yesterday” is a commonly brought up example today). I am not going to get into much detail, because this may dive into spoiler territory depending on what your definition of a spoiler is, but there are certain key moments that I think brought more hype and attention to this movie than anything else that added up to nothing. It was all one big lie. Now, what’s not a lie is that Michael Keaton is in the movie. I won’t give any more details than that. In fact, you know how I said they had two years to fix this movie because of the pandemic? Well, I guess maybe they did try to fix it. Kinda… Because part of me wants to guess the studio is trying to follow a particular trend. I won’t say more, but when it comes to pandering, this is about as obvious as a Donald Trump rally. I went political, I know. How edgy! That being said, it’s time for Sony to make comic book movies great again!

Wait, they made “Spider-Verse?” Okay, they get a free pass on that one, that was the bomb.

And I come up with this conspiracy theory because if you watched “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” over the past number of months, Michael Keaton sat down for an interview where he was just finished talking, and decided to reveal he had to shoot footage for his character of Vulture, who he played five years ago, the day after said interview. He did not say it was for “Morbius” specifically, but I had a feeling that could have been what it was for given the timing between the interview and when the film was supposed to come out. I was not on set, so I have no proof, but I feel like this is Sony trying to pander to an audience who wants to look at shiny things.

Now, I want to blame Sony for the making of this film. This film is the literal definition of what someone who hates the trend of comic book movies thinks of when the words “modern comic book movie” comes into their head. Jared Leto is not to blame, because he aces the character. And surprisingly, it is one of his tamer characters he has played in his career. He’s not as near emotionless as he was in “Blade Runner 2049,” nor is he as obnoxious as he was in “Suicide Squad.” He’s kind of in between. I think if this movie were better, I would want to see more from Jared Leto as the character, but unfortunately the movie is not as compelling as Leto’s acting talents.

Going over to the antagonist, Milo, played by Matt Smith, I am actually impressed with him in this film, but also slightly disappointed because Smith’s best work in this film comes toward the end. He kind of had a Jim Carrey playboy vibe to him. I start seeing his supposed passion put into the role with his physicality mixed with dialogue, then in the next moment, I feel like said passion is hidden because I’m only hearing his voice. Much of this movie would not have happened if it were not for stylistic editing with crappy special effects.

The ending of this film is by far one of the most anticlimactic I have seen in years. It’s like the writers just gave up and did not know how to put a bow on everything. It’s like they said, “Well, it’s 90 minutes, so…”

And I should not be surprised, the movie is written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless. These two are the same geniuses of disaster behind “Gods of Egypt.” A blockbuster so bad that there is barely anyone in the movie who would actually resemble an Egyptian! The whole movie felt like a pyramid scheme. Now these two are back to make something that is… Frankly worse. Because at least “Gods of Egypt” had pretty CGI at times. Some of it looked over the top, but it was still pretty. And the music was not that bad either if you ask me. But just like “Gods of Egypt,” I barely felt engaged with anything that was going on in “Morbius.” The movie just jolted, stopped to an uncomfortable halt, and bored me for the remainder of the runtime.

Want to know how bad “Morbius” is? Because the movie is bad enough, but somehow, the end credit scenes made it worse. These are the WORST end credit scenes EVER. Like trailers, I try to keep the credits almost as a separate entity, because in many cases, the movie could suck, but the credits could have a good scene. I’ll admit, I was kind of underwhelmed by “Captain Marvel,” but there was a pretty juicy credits scene if you asked me. But because it barely had anything to do with the film for the most part, I almost disregarded it when it came to my final verdict. The post-credits scenes here are utterly ridiculous to the point where they make the trailers and movie look worse than they already are. After seeing “Venom,” I was nervous to see what Sony would end up doing with all these Spider-Man characters. Now, I’m terrified. “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” was a step in the right direction, but going to back to what I said in my original “Venom” comparison, “Morbius” almost has a similar feel to “Venom,” but somehow packs in way less joy and fun than that movie did. And it barely had those things to begin with.

I honestly hope that these two writers, Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless improve their craft immediately. Because if they make another movie like this and “Gods of Egypt,” we are in for a long and bumpy ride. I liked what they did with “Power Rangers,” which feels weird to say because I do not recall that movie having the best reception. But honestly, if Sony continues to use these Marvel characters, I think they will have to scour for someone better, because I don’t believe these two writers are the key to their eventual succe-WHAT DO YOU MEAN THEY’RE DOING “MADAM WEB?!”

F************!

In the end, “Morbius” fails on every task it attempts to achieve and makes me beg to Sony that they give this Spider-Man villain trend a rest. “Morbius” is without a doubt, one of the worst comic book movies I have seen in my life. Probably in the top 5 for sure. I’d rather watch any film that was previously made for both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Detective Comics Extended Universe! Even “Wonder Woman 1984!” Remember that?! That first hour could not have been more dull! This is the first time in awhile that I recall leaving the theater and not having a smile, at least in my head, after watching a comic book movie. I am not one of those people who claims they have comic book movie fatigue. I enjoy the MCU, I already have my tickets for “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” I think James Gunn is doing a lot of great stuff for both Marvel and DC! I just want Sony, and the two writers behind this movie, to do better. If I have learned anything from “The LEGO Movie,” it is that you can tell a good story out of anything. You just have to get the audience to care. And “Morbius” failed on every level. There are very few modern comic book movies that I don’t own on Blu-ray or some form of physical media. I think “Morbius” has just joined the rejects. I’d rather watch “Batman & Robin” three times in one day than this movie twice in my life! I’m going to give “Morbius” a 1/10.

“Morbius” is now playing in theaters. Tickets are available now, and I guarantee that you will find a seat.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for a movie that came out last year, and it is one that I glad I got to see in the cinema when it played, “CODA.” I almost did not review this film because it is technically from last year and I figured it would be irrelevant. But in addition to the recent Best Picture win at the Academy Awards, I feel such a need to talk about it. Especially after talking about this piece of crap. Also coming up, I will be reviewing “Sonic the Hedgehog 2!” Stay tuned for that, and if you want to see this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Morbius?” What did you think about it? Also, what is the worst comic book movie you have ever seen? I’ll admit, I’ve missed a few bad ones in my lifetime. I still haven’t seen “Catwoman,” I still haven’t seen “Supergirl,” nor have I seen “Elektra.” Let me know your picks down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Uncharted (2022): The Fast and the Furious with Treasure Hunting

“Uncharted” is directed by Ruben Fleischer (Venom, Zombieland) and stars Tom Holland (Spider-Man: No Way Home, Chaos Walking), Mark Wahlberg (Transformers: Age of Extinction, Deepwater Horizon), Antonio Banderas (Shrek 2, Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard), Sophia Ali (Grey’s Anatomy, The Wilds), and Tati Gabrielle (The Owl House, The 100). This film is based on the video game franchise of the same name and is about Nathan Drake who sets out on an adventure alongside Victor “Sully” Sullivan to find a fortune that has been lost for five centuries.

I have never played the “Uncharted” games. I know of them. I’ve seen particular images and cutscenes from them. I’ve just never had the time to sit down to play them. And it kind of ticks me off saying that because while I never had a PS3, when it comes to my consoles, I managed to acquire a PS4 several years ago as a Christmas gift, and I even just recently got a PS5. So despite my commitment to Sony over the years, I haven’t popped in “Uncharted” yet. But I also will note that I’m a busy man, I do not have time for video games. It’s the same thing with books. It’s not that I don’t like video games, but I sort of see video games the same way as television shows. If you want me to sit down and play one, there needs to be a real commitment factor. Again, I am amazingly committed to film, making other mediums feel less important. Since I mentioned books, I will have to make my usual apology to them. Movies are more fun! Sorry, books!

But with movie theaters trying to prove themselves as a reasonable escape within the confines of the pandemic era, it only seems appropriate that Sony would release a movie like this at this time. The little that I have seen of the “Uncharted” games did feel rather cinematic. And the very first scene of the film, which has Tom Holland flying in the air, did remind me of the little that I did see in the games. It had this extreme vibe that set the tone for everything going forward. Kind of like a video game. So the movie already kicked off to a positive start.

But this positive start doesn’t last long because when it comes to introducing the main characters, the setup feels rather clunky, and borderline unreal. Kind of like a video game.

If any of you remember the movie “Hardcore Henry,” I praised the movie for having a feel that I could probably experience only in a few cases. Video games being one of them. After all, it is set in the first person point of view. And when I was younger, I always wanted to adapt a particular video game into a film (I won’t say which one in case it ever ACTUALLY DOES HAPPEN). But looking back, I had all these ideas for camera techniques that would be reminiscent of the games, and I wonder if that’s now all a gimmick. Looking at “Uncharted,” I admire its efforts to bring a massively immersive, and I do mean immersive, experience. There are scenes in this film that are best experienced on the biggest screen you can find, and for that alone, you should shell out a few bucks to see it in the theater if interested, but maybe not above matinee price, or a subscription like A-List, which is what I previously used.

Sticking to that, much like a video game vibe, the climax is probably one of the most immersive and inviting I have seen in recent film. I’ve seen a number of climaxes recently that fit the material in which it tries to attach itself, but this is one that not only puts its characters in the most dangerous of situations, but also embraces what I hoped this movie would go for. A bit of far-fetchedness, but also enough to ensure your brain is still attached. But at the same time, there is also some moments where they jump the shark and my brain gets a bit cracked. You may have seen the part in the trailers where Tom Holland gets hit by a red car, it’s a bit over the top.

I feel like this film’s immersion factor is an enormous reason as to why it sometimes works. Because let’s be real, I am not going to claim that Nathan Drake is one of my favorite film characters. I like the guy playing him. I think Tom Holland has talent. But when translated to the final product, the film struggles to get me attached to its characters as much as it puts into its respective environments.

If I had to point out a favorite scene in the film, it’s actually one that appears in the trailers. Basically, Nathan Drake is in the middle of a mission, and out comes this heavier man, portrayed by Steven Waddington, who scares Drake s*itless. Then we get… This exchange. Well, maybe this exchange. Pardon me, I’m just a dumb American.

THE SCOTSMAN: “You shouldn’t have come out to play with the big boys wee in because you’re about to get a proper Scottish welcome.”

NATHAN: “What?”

I lost it when first hearing this. Again, I’m just a dumb American, but as a dumb American, I acknowledge that the English language is understood in a variety of ways. From the perspective of my tiny little American brain, the Scottish accent is first off, hard to understand, and second, occasionally funny. So, I’ll give credit to the writers for nailing that aspect and Waddington for providing a seemingly over the top accent that had me laughing. I wanted to see more of him. Although I do want to know what Scottish people think of this. Is this humorous? Accurate? Offensive, maybe? I want to know.

Although going back to what I said earlier, there is one scene that the more I think about it, kind of irritates me. Because I understand that movies and their studios are supposed to pay the bills. But what irritates me is that this movie ends up using a forced, randomly placed instance of product placement within its main story. I was engaged during said scene, but I do not think this is the time to sell me “Papa John’s.” It does not go as extreme as the “Power Rangers” movie we got a few years ago with Krispy Kreme (although I like the money shot it brought), but the more I think about it, the more it distracts me.

“Uncharted” feels like “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

…At times.

“Uncharted” is a fun adventure with characters that have their own quirks. But relatively speaking, this ain’t no “Raiders.” Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg do their best with the material given to them, but their chemistry feels very off and on. There are a couple scenes where I can tell that these two have probably developed a friendship per se. But there are also other scenes where I don’t sense much realism between them.

In the end, “Uncharted” is a film that is good enough to please me for one or two viewings, but maybe not more. I heard that Tom Holland is a fan of the video games, therefore I am happy to know that he is playing a character that he possibly admires. But I can see why this film suffered as many delays as it did. It’s a film that feels like was made for the 21st century 3D era, in fact ideas for it were developed during that time, but it ends up coming out in 2022. I feel like Sony just wanted this movie to get out sooner than later because it’s practically been in development since 2008. Directors like David O. Russell (Three Kings, American Hustle), Neil Burger (The Illusionist, Divergent), Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses, Baywatch), Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum, Free Guy), and Dan Trachtenberg (Portal: No Escape, The Boys) were originally attached to helm the picture. Unfortunately these did not last, so we ended up with “Zombieland” director Ruben Fleischer. I also think the decision to get Tom Holland to play Nathan Drake was solid. As mentioned, he’s played the games, so he’s familiar with the material. But he also is on the younger side, so unlike say Nathan Fillion, who ended up appearing in an “Uncharted” fan film and is about twice the age of Tom Holland, Sony made a decision they thought was good for business. If “Uncharted” is successful, Tom Holland is young enough to keep playing the role should there be sequels. And would I want a sequel to “Uncharted?” Sure. I could watch another film in this franchise. But I would recommend maybe getting a different writing team. I’m going to give “Uncharted” a bare maximum 5/10, and I feel like that’s generous. I was genuinely entertained, but I also recognize that this movie was very clunky and could have done more, and that’s why I’m giving it the score it gets.

“Uncharted” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! Next Sunday, March 13th, I am going to be sharing an all new first look at the upcoming 4th Annual Jackoffs! I am going to be announcing the nominations, and I’ll be dropping a trailer as to what you can expect for this grand, majestic awards ceremony! The ceremony itself is happening on March 27th, therefore it will be held the same day as the Oscars! So that’s another three hours of your life taken away! But I will still have content in between the announcement and ceremony such as upcoming movie reviews! Speaking of which, my next review is going to be for Netflix’s new movie, “The Adam Project,” which coincidentally, is directed by one of the folks I mentioned who was once attached to “Uncharted,” Shawn Levy! I already saw the film through a virtual screening, and it arrives on Netflix soon. I will have my full-fledged thoughts as soon as possible. If you want to see this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Uncharted?” What did you think about it? Or, have you played any of the “Uncharted” games? Tell me your thoughts on those! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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

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

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

Anybody?

Who cares?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Stephen Strange: Protecting your reality, douchebag.

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

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

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

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

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

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

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

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

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

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

Ghostbusters II (1989): Something Weird Alright

Hey everyone, Jack Drees! It is time for part 2 of 2 in the “Ghostbusters: Before Afterlife” review series. Yes, that’s the name we’re going with. After all, the series literally happens before “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” comes out and I’ll note that I thought of the title in March, published it, and have not had time to change it. But whatever, we’re sticking with it! No one ever said I was a god! But, Gozer, if you are reading this, I assure you, I am a god. TRUST ME. Either way, last week we reviewed the original “Ghostbusters,” the 1984 comedy featuring four guys who join forces to take down the paranormal in New York City. If you read my review, you’d know that I enjoyed the film and I would put it up there with some of the films you should see before you become a ghost yourself. Some tiny increments are slightly questionable by today’s standards, but regardless, I really like the movie. Today we are going to be talking about the 1989 sequel, “Ghostbusters II,” which until prepping for this review, I have never seen. What did I think? Read on to find out for yourself!

“Ghostbusters II” is directed by Ivan Reitman, who also directed the original “Ghostbusters,” and stars Bill Murray (Stripes, Scrooged), Dan Aykroyd (The Blues Brothers, Caddyshack), Sigourney Weaver (Alien, The Year of Living Dangerously), Harold Ramis (Stripes, Second City Television), Rick Moranis (Second City Television, Sterling Brew), Ernie Hudson (Spacehunter: Adventures in the Hidden Zone, Two of a Kind), and Annie Potts (Pretty in Pink, Corvette Summer). This film is the sequel to “Ghostbusters” and follows the four busters for hire as they are able to revive their unique business when ectoplasm is present in a river and ghosts resurge around New York City.

The “Ghostbusters” property has become one of the most iconic in all of history. So much so to the point that it has a few movies, an animated series, a sequelish video game, and a ton of quotable lines. Frankly, I have not dived all that much into the expanded material. However, it does not take away my appreciation for the original film. I ended up watching the 2016 remake before “Ghostbusters II.” Granted, that 2016 film was not exactly connected to the original series in continuity so it did not require me to watch those films, although watching that first film in advance, which I had on Blu-ray for some time, certainly helped. It not only helped me understand some of what to expect going into the remake, but after seeing the remake, it reminded me of how much better the original is in terms of characterization, humor, and action. Although it feels weird to say that I’ve not seen “Ghostbusters II.” I was not born on or before 1989 so in a way it kind of makes sense, but one would figure as someone who has enjoyed the original that I would come around to the sequel at one point or another. Nope! I ghosted the sequel far too long, and now it is time for me to give it the attention it deserves.

The saying is as cliché as ordering fries at a McDonalds, sequels are typically inferior to the original. Do I think that is the case with “Ghostbusters II?” Definitely. The sequel has a slightly campier feel compared to its counterpart, and honestly it feels more like it is trying to cater to families (after all it primarily features a baby) than the original. I wonder if the creation of PG-13 in 1984 had anything to do with it, but I could be spitballing here. After all, I’ve noticed less swearing and less lewd content. After all, you’ve got to entertain the kiddies who probably also saw a horny Sigourney Weaver seduce Bill Murray like it was their last days on earth. I will say though, this is sort of my first problem, albeit a personal one, with the film. The original “Ghostbusters,” even though it could definitely entertain younger audiences, felt grittier. It felt more adult and raw. “Ghostbusters” felt like a movie that put imaginary, spooky ghosts in a realistic environment with real people searching after true purpose in life. While “Ghostbusters II” definitely has elements of realism, and some continuations of previous storylines from the original film, the film starts off with this vibe that feels more supernatural, which is weird to say because the purpose of both movies is literally about guys trying to exterminate the supernatural.

While Sigourney Weaver’s character of Dana having a kid adds a bit to her character and makes sense chronologically, I much prefer the more adult aspects of the original film. Much of what happens between her, the kid, and everyone else that comes into her life, feels more like a kids movie more than a movie that could cater to almost anyone like the original did.

I will say though, one thing that has not changed is the chemistry between the four ghostbusters. Each respective actor portrays these individuals like glitter. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson. I will say though, despite their impressive chemistry, there are not as many quotable lines in this film compared to the original. I mean, there are a few funny ones, but if you asked me to name the first “Ghostbusters” quote that comes to mind, I’m probably gonna think of “We came, we saw, we kicked it’s ass,” long before “You’re short, your bellybutton sticks out too far, and you’re a terrible burden on your poor mother.”

I will point out my favorite part of the movie though, it is the chemistry between Rick Moranis and Annie Potts. The two actors are back as their respective characters, Louis Tully and Janine Melnitz. But this time around, instead of seeing them on their own charades, they’re together, and they find themselves in a situation where they’re kind of in love. I am not the kind of person that “ships” people, it just does not seem like a guy thing. But I will tell you, I think when it comes to two people who I legit think make a cute couple, Louis and Janine was a pair I did not ask for, but it’s also a pair I never knew I would have wanted. Janine and Louis hang out during a time when the former was hired to babysit for Dana’s kid, and some of the lines between these two feel absolutely perfect for the moment, and I could honestly watch a getaway style romantic comedy between these two. I’m not a romcom guy, but if these two were in it as their respective characters or different personalities, I would watch it instantly. Unfortunately, such a thing will probably never happen as we rarely see Moranis in anything nowadays. I mean, he’s only done a Mint Mobile commercial and an episode of “The Goldbergs” in recent years so the chances of this coming to light are as low as Tiger Woods’s scoring average.

The other highlight of the film is the ending. HOLY S*IT is it the perfect blend of stupid, awesome, and flat out insanity. If you take the bonkers nature of the original film by the end of it, and multiply it to gargantuan levels, you get the ending of “Ghostbusters II.” No, seriously! This is THE definition of a sequel. It doesn’t make the movie good, but in my book, it’s a proper definition. It’s that common saying, bigger is better! But that’s just advertising! “Ghostbusters II” presents a less heightened reality in this case! Without giving everything away, let’s just say, for those of you who have not seen this movie, I will guarantee that the “statue of liberty” scene and everything else involved with that is worth every single f*cking penny.

I will also say that the antagonists of this film got a bit of a downgrade compared to the original. In this film’s defense, I knew about Vigo the Carpathian going in, thanks to the internet and maybe comic con. Vigo was okay. He was not as memorable as say Slimer, who wasn’t even the main antagonist of the original, but still. And by the way, I will note that Slimer does make an appearance in this sequel too, but again, that’s not the point! It’s hard to be compelled by a villain when all he does is stay in one spot during the movie. Well, The Emperor in “Return of the Jedi” being an obvious exception here. Although he did move a bit when we were first introduced to him so I don’t know if my example is quite on point. As for the other villain, we have Dr. Janosz Poha, played by Peter MacNicol. Now, his character may look like a dick, but looks aren’t everything. Going back to what I said about this film being more kiddy than the original. I feel like MacNicol’s portrayal of this character is part of it. Personally, if he were around today and I were a casting director, I’d put him in as an Internet troll in a Disney Channel original movie. The execution of MacNicol’s dialogue in many scenes for some reason feels stiff and cartoon-like. Again, it takes some grit away from the franchise.

I think “Ghostbusters II” suffers from escaping reality and entering this vibe that represents a cartoon at times. Now this franchise did eventually develop a cartoon, but that’s not the point. The original film had this feel to it that put me in the room with these guys that were experiencing problems of their own and we see how they try to develop their solutions in ways that feel practical despite taking place in a world of ghosts. The sequel seems to become overly hyperactive and tries too hard. Some of the acting feels overdone and the story bridges into an unpleasingly unrealistic territory. I have seen films that are much more infuriating than “Ghostbusters II,” but this is not one I would be putting on again in the next month.

Ernie Hudson, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Harold Ramis in GHOSTBUSTERS.

In the end, “Ghostbusters II,” as much flack as I’m giving it, is not the worst movie I’ve ever seen. Heck, it’s not even my least favorite “Ghostbusters” film! But this film feels weirdly cleaner than its 1984 counterpart, and not in a good way. Again, I would imagine the MPAA had something to do with it since the concept of PG-13 was invented. With that idea, you could get away with more, but possibly risk losing box office money from younger audiences. You want little Timmy wearing that Ghostbuster Halloween costume, right? Let’s get some kids in the theater! Maybe I’m being a bit harsh, but this reminds me of when “Revenge of the Nerds II” came out. The first film, simply titled “Revenge of the Nerds,” was rated R. It was raunchy, dirty, and by today’s standards, somewhat questionable. I continue to find it ridiculously entertaining, but there are one or two scenes that if they came out today, they might end up on the cutting room floor to avoid controversy. Then “Nerds in Paradise” came out, got a PG-13 rating. Yes, there’s still some naughty material in the movie, but it is a significant downgrade if you will compared to the first movie. Both “Ghostbusters” and “Ghostbusters II” ended up with PG ratings, but time shows the evolution of movie ratings and I would say that it has altered a bit through the 1980s. Maybe it is not the best idea to be comparing “Ghostbusters II” to its original counterpart, but when the original counterpart is as iconic and quotable as it is, it makes such an avoidance nearly impossible. With that being said, I’d rather watch the original “Ghostbusters” before its sequel, and I’m going to give “Ghostbusters II” a 5/10.

“Ghostbusters II” is available on VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K Blu-ray. The film is also available wherever you buy or rent movies digitally.

Thanks for reading this review! Thanks for reading this two part mini-series I like to call “Ghostbusters: Before Afterlife!” Be sure to check out my review for “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” which will be posted some time after the movie comes out. Also, next month, is my final movie review series for 2020, and it is one based on an iconic sci-fi franchise. No, not “Star Wars,” we already did that one. It’s “The Matrix!” That’s right! This December, I’ll be talking about the “Matrix” trilogy, directed by the Wachowskis, in preparation for the upcoming film “The Matrix: Resurrections,” starring Keanu Reeves who will be returning as Neo. All will be discussed in my upcoming series, “The Matrix: Reviewed!” Look forward to it! I’ll be reviewing “The Matrix” on December 5th, “The Matrix: Reloaded” on December 12th, and “The Matrix: Revolutions” on December 19th. That last date may change as the new “Spider-Man” film may be prioritized, but we’ll see. Either way, look forward to the upcoming series! I can’t wait to get into it! If you want to see this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Ghostbusters II?” What did you think about it? Or, do you believe in ghosts? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Ghostbusters (1984): A Comedy That Proton Packs in a Ton of Fun (Spoilers)

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Just a reminder that this November, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” hits theaters after being delayed multiple times due to COVID-19. But we are not going to talk about that today, because today we’re going to be talking about the 1984 comedy “Ghostbusters.” This is the film that started it all. Enjoyed by critics and general audiences alike, “Ghostbusters” ended up being the second-highest grossing film of 1984, right below “Beverly Hills Cop.” It is one of the most recognized Sony properties as of today. The film recently celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2019 and just a few years prior, it was remade with women as the stars… Which really did not work out. If anything, it only made me appreciate the original a bit more. Speaking of which, let’s dive into my review for “Ghostbusters,” the first of two installments in my mini review series, “Ghostbusters: Before Afterlife.” No, seriously. That’s how creative the title is…

“Ghostbusters” is directed by Ivan Reitman (Heavy Metal, Stripes) and stars Bill Murray (Stripes, Caddyshack), Dan Aykroyd (Trading Places, Blues Brothers), Harold Ramis (Heavy Metal, Stripes), Sigourney Weaver (Alien, The Year of Living Dangerously), and Rick Moranis (SCTV, Streets of Fire) in a film where a group of men are kicked out of their respective university. This trio of parapsychologists and a man who just wants a job join forces to exterminate ghosts wreaking havoc in New York City.

In 2016 I reviewed the woman-centered “Ghostbusters” remake. Every time I talk about that film since I saw it, I feel uneasy. Not just because I did not like it. And BOY I did not like it. But I also feel like I have to go above and beyond to justify my dislike for that film, because part of me assumes that people will think I just hate women. That film ended up being a 1/10, which was my first on this blog, not to mention my least favorite film of the 2010s. Before that, I watched the original with my dad for the first time (not counting one time where I fell asleep because it was super late). Prior to going in, I already knew about the film and some of the things in it. There was the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, the iconic Ray Parker Jr. song, and Slimer. I already knew some core elements of the film through the Internet, seeing merchandise, and weirdly enough, playing “LEGO Rock Band” on my Nintendo DS as a ten year old. Of all the songs they could put on that game, the “Ghostbusters” theme song was one of them.

Over the years and after multiple rewatches, including my recent one that I did for this review, I have grown quite fond of the original “Ghostbusters.” To put it short, it’s fun, action-packed, and has a style of comedy that is about as raw as it could get in this film’s environment. I see a lot of comedies nowadays and they often go for these over the top, extravagant attempts at humor, and some work, some don’t, but with “Ghostbusters,” every other moment in the film, despite having a fantastical vibe because there’s ghosts and demons, feel like they could happen in real life. There’s this subtlety between select characters that kept my attention. Characters like Peter and Egon. The two on the surface are not exactly over the top 100% of the time, but they also have their quirks.

Now don’t take that statement too seriously, because this film was made in 1984, and over my past couple rewatches, there are a couple effects-heavy scenes, such as the one where Rick Moranis is running away from Zuul, that occasionally look hilarious. Zuul is menacing. No doubt. His design is perhaps perfect for this world. He has this dirty, rugged feel to him. But there is this moment where Louis’s party goes a bit haywire, Louis flees, Zuul crashes through the wall of his apartment into the hallway and his head busts into the wall. I love a lot of things about this movie, including the scene where Zuul chases after Louis in the middle of the city, but this instance of effects being… so eighties, is hilarious. If I saw that today as a visual effects artist, I would consider it unfinished. Granted, this is a 1984 film we are talking about, so visual effects have come a long way since then, but it’s still kind of hilarious. It does not take away from the moments were we see Zuul in minimal motion, because that’s where he looks the most terrifying.

Let’s talk about the three parapsychologists: Peter (Bill Murray), Ray (Dan Aykroyd), and Egon (Harold Ramis). The best part about these people is that despite having such prestigious degrees, they feel like regular guys. Guys you can talk to, hang out with, have a beer with. Although I will say, part of me kind of relates to Egon the most… Even though on the surface, he may seem somewhat outgoing, I feel that on the inside, he’s a bit shy. He kind of reminds me of myself, and similar to me, I would not be surprised if one would put him on the autism spectrum. Just look at this conversation between him and Janine, the secretary in the film wonderfully portrayed by Annie Potts.

Janine Melnitz: You’re very handy, I can tell. I bet you like to read a lot, too.

Dr. Egon Spengler: Print is dead.

Janine Melnitz: Oh, that’s very fascinating to me. I read a lot myself. Some people think I’m too intellectual but I think it’s a fabulous way to spend your spare time. I also play raquetball. Do you have any hobbies?

Dr. Egon Spengler: I collect spores, molds, and fungus.

If you watch the movie and see this moment play out in real time, Egon’s mannerisms show a supposed indifference to the situation at hand. He’s brutally honest about the subject of reading, although at the same time, he’s making an effort to listen to what Janine has to say, and he exposes his unique hobbies. If I were at a certain age or state of mind, I would be telling people that in my spare time that I like to go outside and ride elevators. No, seriously. That’s one of my real hobbies. And one can wonder why I don’t have much of a social life.

As for Ray, I think he’s definitely the most hyperactive of the bunch. Every other line out of him has an upbeat tone to it, especially during the scene where he and the other busters try to catch Slimer. I think Dan Aykroyd has the most relatable personality out of everyone on the team. He’s not just there for the scientific research, not just for the money, but for the thrill of everything else that comes along. I could genuinely tell that in each moment of the film, there was at least one thing that he thought about, saw, or heard that sparked joy. This is especially true in the scene where the guys are looking at their potential living space, while Egon is blubbering about how he thinks the place should be condemned, Ray enthusiastically slides down a pole. While the other two parapsychologists clearly don’t give a crap, Ray’s running around like a little child, excited about this place. He has this child-like personality to him that puts a fun feel in a film with scary monsters.

Now I like Bill Murray in this film. His performance here is fantastic. He’s kind of got a con artist vibe, but the character of Peter Venkman is still admirable. Some of the lines his character has is great too. The scene between him and Dana where she’s possessed is nothing short of hilarious between Murray’s one-liners and Sigourney Weaver’s sensual yet disturbing presence. Although on that subject, I will say that there is one scene where I thought Murray was becoming a borderline creep, almost in the same the sense that I may describe Lewis from “Revenge of the Nerds,” but in defense of Peter Venkman, this movie is PG, allowing him to be less creepy. I bring this complaint up because I like both characters, but there are times where I feel like they are going after girls like clingy dogs. When Peter and Dana first meet, there are a couple lines out of Peter’s mouth that had me a little uneasy. Part of me thinks Venkman is a somewhat classy dude and of all the “Ghostbusters,” I would consider him to be the driest, allowing for some of the funniest lines of the film to appear.

Dr. Raymond Stantz Everything was fine with our system until the power grid was shut off by dickless here.

Walter Peck They caused an explosion!

Mayor Is this true?

Dr. Peter Venkman Yes it’s true. [pause] This man has no dick.

Walter Peck Jeez! [Charges at Venkman]

Mayor Break it up! Hey, break this up! Break it up!

Walter Peck All right, all right, all right!

Dr. Peter Venkman Well, that’s what I heard!

As much as I despise the 2016 “Ghostbusters” remake, part of me could see why one would want to reimagine it because the film is very much from the perspective where guys think sex cures everything and makes everything else seem unimportant. Aside from the moment where Peter has to avoid the seductive nature of Dana in order to bust Zuul, there is a moment where Ray’s in bed, and a ghost is undoing his pants for him. The reason, I’ll leave it up to interpretation.

I also love the big climactic battle where all four Ghostbusters, including Ernie Hudson’s character of Winston, have to go up against Zuul and find out how exactly this beast could be conquered. There was not much of a quick pace to this fight that you might get in a modern blockbuster. Heck, the climax of “Ghostbusters” 2016 was as fast as a speeding bullet. But I think this movie did a great job at not only developing each character’s arc, both individually and collectively, but while building them, it showed the lack of experience these characters have with their craft, as they should. I mean, who else has ever used a ghost trap? The writing here is also stupendous between Zuul asking Ray if he’s a god, and the “chosen destructor” moment, which as Ray determines, is the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. FLAT. OUT. GENIUS! If I were in this situation, I probably would have done something similar! Who would I want to destroy the world? Dark Lords of the Sith from “Star Wars?” Nah! BRING ON EVIL SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS!

In the end, “Ghostbusters” makes me feel good. There are some flaws with the film. Some parts of it aged better than others, but by the standards of when it came out, the film was great. The characters are top notch from Venkman to Dana to Louis. Everybody is likable and quirky in their own way. The humor in this film feels rather dry, and I will admit, there are a few attempts that did not exactly hit me the way the filmmakers may have been going for, but there are also numerous times where I was laughing my ass off. If you like comedies, do yourself a favor and check this one out at least once. The film is definitely rewatchable. It’s not nightmarishly scary, but I don’t think that at the end of the day, that’s what everyone behind the film was going for. One last thing, the music in this film is great. And I’m not necessarily talking about the Ray Parker Jr. song, as iconic as it is, I’m talking about Elmer Bernstein’s score. It’s spooky, catchy, and weird. It matches the vibe this movie is going for. I’m going to give “Ghostbusters” a 7/10.

“Ghostbusters” is available on VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, Blu-ray, 4K Blu-ray, and is available to stream wherever you buy or rent digital movies.

Ernie Hudson, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray and Harold Ramis in GHOSTBUSTERS.

Thanks for reading this review! Stay tuned for my next review, because we are going to be tackling the second and final installment of the Ghostbusters: Before Afterlife review series, “Ghostbusters II.” The film, like many sequels, is often considered to be inferior to the original, but I cannot say at this point, as I have not watched it once. But I will watch it this week and my review will be up next Sunday, November 7th! Stay tuned! If you want to see more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Ghostbusters?” What did you think about it? Or, who is your favorite Ghostbuster? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021): The Lethal Protector and the Big Red One Slash Up a Great Time

“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is directed by Andy Serkis (Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, Black Panther) and stars Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Mad Max: Fury Road), Woody Harrelson (The Edge of Seventeen, Zombieland), Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea, Blue Valentine), Naomie Harris (Spectre, Moonlight), Reid Scott (My Boys, Veep), Stephen Graham (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Boardwalk Empire), and Peggy Lu (Kung Pow: Enter the Fist, Always Be My Maybe). This film is the second installment to the “Venom” franchise, based on the Marvel Comics character. This time around, Eddie Brock who has spent time with a venomous symbiote in his body, attempts to interview Cletus Kassady, a serial killer. Kassady soon becomes a problem as he morphs into the big symbiotic creature, Carnage. It is now up to Venom to stop Carnage from unleashing destruction to society.

Venom (2018) - IMDb

I hated the first “Venom.” I have avoided this film since the theater. While it was not my worst film experience of the year, I was weary of what this film stood for as far as the comic book movie genre goes. The violence felt generic, the acting came off as lackluster, even from Tom Hardy, and I felt that it was a step down for the comic book movie genre, especially in a year where they have proven to be a force with critics and the box office. The success of “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War” were not enough, we needed some schlock in the mix I guess.

The first “Venom” made over $800 million at the worldwide box office. So naturally, when a sequel was announced, I was not surprised. After all, everyone likes money. I had little to no interest in a sequel based on the impression that the first film left me. I felt like that film made me dumber. It was one of those films that by the time we got to 2020, I didn’t really care as much if it got pushed back due to COVID-19. Granted, part of me is now in the mindset that if any movie does well, even if I don’t like it, I will root for its success as it is good for the industry. And that success has been solidified so far with “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” as the new movie made over $90 million the weekend it opened in the United States.

But is all that success just money talking or will I give this film a personal green checkmark? To be frank, I had a lot of fun with “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.” There is a saying in film that sequels are often inferior to the originals. Unless you’re talking about “Terminator 2,” “The Dark Knight,” “Spider-Man 2,” “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation,” “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” “Fast Five,” “Furious 7,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Captain America: Civil War,” “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “Toy Story 2,” “Toy Story 3,” and “Shrek 2.” The reason why this film excels is because of the same reason that “Godzilla vs. Kong” succeeded for me. It was big, loud, and delightfully dumb. Granted, you could say that about the first “Venom,” but that film personally had inferior acting, borderline corporate, uninspired writing, and violence that could have pushed the bar, but felt kind of tame. Much like its predecessor, “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is PG-13, meaning you can have violence, but not so much blood. But unlike the 2018 piece of crap, I would say “Let There Be Carnage” does a better job at, well, bringing on the f*cking carnage.

And speaking of Carnage, let’s talk about him. This film’s villain is obviously Carnage, an insane serial killer who becomes a red symbiotic monster. First off, big improvement over the last movie, as much as I like Riz Ahmed, who KILLED IT in “Sound of Metal” last year, his performance as Carlton Drake was not the highlight of the original “Venom.” Another improvement I’ll bring up, and this is one I think some would argue gets into nitpick territory, but still, I think the choice of using Carnage in this film gives this sequel an uptick over the previous film’s rivalry because there were times where I was watching Eddie and Carlton duke it out, but I cannot tell who is who because everything is dark and all the fighting is two guys in black symbiotic suits trying to wreck each other. The film is ultimately lit better, the color palette is more attractive, and the action is more fun to watch.

Cletus Kassidy is also a fine villain on his own. I think casting Woody Harrelson was a smart move because he did a good job at bringing a sense of insanity mixed in with a flair of viciousness to the table. Harrelson’s performance in this film reminded me of, as much as I did not like the film, Jared Leto’s performance as Albert Sparma in “The Little Things” because in that film he was subtle and quiet, but every time he spoke, it felt commanding and bigger than what I could actually see. The beauty in Harrelson’s performance was not only what he says, but how he says it. In addition, his physicality is individualistic and much like Tom Hardy as Eddie, I cannot see anyone else at this point playing Cletus Kassidy. As for his love interest, Frances Barrison, I liked seeing her in this movie too, because not only was she a fun character to watch who was decently cast with Naomie Harris in her shoes, but I like how her powers reveal the weaknesses of other core characters, including Cletus himself.

This movie, like the original, has a PG-13 rating. I critiqued the first “Venom” for having action that felt clean for its subject matter and not doing anything special with what was on screen. I wanted to see death and destruction, and there are times where the film looks like it is going to reach that point, but it can’t quite get there. “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” still has a slightly tame feel to it at times, but compared its predecessor, the violence in this film feels pretty close to an R even without all the blood. There’s a scene you may have noticed in the trailer where Carnage takes his tongue and swallows it down another person’s throat, a lot of the combat towards the end of the film is pretty intense, and I will say that as far as the PG-13 rating goes when it comes to language, they kind of nailed it. Because there is a rule in films that are PG-13 where you can only go so far with the f-bomb, and without spoilers, the point where they drop the f-bomb in this movie may have made for a possible spot in the top 10 best PG-13 f-bombs of all time. Might even be #1, it’s that effective and satisfying.

The best part of “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is the mix of the runtime and the pacing. There are a lot of movies that have come out over the years that are over 2 hours, maybe 2 and a half hours that maybe I, or someone else, will walk out of saying, that was okay, or that was terrible, one thing they should have done is trimmed at least ten minutes off the runtime. I even did that recently with “Dear Evan Hansen.” So for this to be my next movie in the cinema was a nice change of pace. This movie is all murder, no filler. All carnage, no– Actually, I cannot come up with a good rhyme. If anyone can comment with a rhyme that would be great! This movie ends up with a runtime of 97 minutes, and I don’t think I want more or less. 97 minutes was the perfect runtime for this movie as it allowed the story to establish its points from the beginning, quickly drop the audience into the middle of the action, and offer a simple structure that would appeal to the target demographic. Quite a bit happens in that runtime, it’s almost like the movie was on cocaine.

I was a bit weary on Venom and Eddie’s relationship from the first movie, but it had potential, and I think “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” unleashes all the possible potential there is to be had. I went to see this movie with a friend and I think she described the chemistry between Venom and Eddie the way it should immediately be viewed. She saw the chemistry between the dynamic duo equal to that of an old, married couple. There are several scenes in “Let There Be Carnage” that cement that point. At one point they’re besties, at some other point they argue, one tries to make the other feel better about something. Despite their differences, Eddie and Venom at the end of the day are best pals even if this relationship was not something either of them wanted. In fact, after I watched the movie, I read an article where Andy Serkis and others were debating on calling the movie “Venom: Love Will Tear Us Apart.” As much as I like the current title, that is a fine alternative given what goes on in the movie. And also, I think Tom Hardy himself has done a great job evolving into the character. Even though I thought his previous performance as Eddie Brock was underwhelming, I would have to say that these past two movies have shown that Hardy is embracing his character as much as he can. As far as this film goes, I like Hardy’s performance as both Eddie and Venom. His voice for Venom is ridiculously heightened to the point where I cannot imagine many other people taking this role in the future. If someone else does take the role, I think some major reinvention will have to come into play.

Also, it’s great to see Peggy Lu back as Mrs. Chen, the owner of the convenience store who is in the know of Eddie’s secret identity. I liked seeing her in this film because like Eddie, who has grown to know Venom, Chen has an understanding of Venom that makes the two of them have a connection. Even though at one point, Venom wants to eat her. Pretty normal friendly relationship if you ask me, nothing out of the ordinary.

If I had any other complaints about “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” the obvious one, even though this is not TECHNICALLY a complaint, would be that this movie is not to be taken seriously. The only real Academy Award I could see this film being nominated for is Best Visual Effects. The script does not reinvent the wheel and spends a lot of time trying to be silly. This is not always a bad thing because the film knows its audience and is only doubling down on the success of the first movie. If anything, the more I think about it, this movie has a heir of the tone of “Batman & Robin,” but it uses that tone to show off something ten times as competent.

My one last complaint about the film is also something that I could place into a box that I would write “GUILTY PLEASURE” on in black Sharpie. You know how Sony is… Well, Sony? PRODUCT PLACEMENT! PRODUCT PLACEMENT! GET YOUR PRODUCT PLACEMENT! There is this crucial scene in the film where we see Eddie and Venom bickering with each other, and in this scene, we see that Eddie’s apartment is being ruined in the process, and of course, one thing that gets ruined is the television. In this moment, we see the television face its doom, but in one or two scenes later, we are back at the apartment, and viola! A brand new TV! I’m not suggesting Eddie didn’t have the time to buy a new television. Although I hope he’s wealthy enough to live in the San Francisco area. What I am saying is, right next to the televison is a giant Sony box in all its glory! Ah, the ways to promote your products! Money talks! Money walks! I call this a guilty pleasure because it involves a couple scenes that serve their purpose, one of which had me laughing my ass off like a maniac, but they used them for some easy promotion. It’s not “Transformers: Age of Extinction” levels of obvious, but still.

Also, stay for the credits. You won’t regret it.

In the end, “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” brings on the carnage to gargantuan levels! I recommend this sequel over the original. I do plan to watch it again at some point. Tom Hardy has become married to this character in a sense. I hope to see more of him, maybe they’ll do a “Venom 3” someday, I would very much like to see that. This is by no means the best comic book movie of the year, especially not compared to “The Suicide Squad,” but “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” gets a thumbs up from me, and I hope to see more of the character in the future. I’m going give “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” a 7/10.

“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is now playing exclusively in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! If you want to see my review for the original “Venom,” click the link right here! It’ll take you back a couple years after I saw the movie on opening weekend, where the audience I was with seemed to have a much better time than me. Also, my next review is going to be for “Halloween Kills,” which hits theaters this weekend and will also be streaming on Peacock. I just went to the press screening the other night, and I cannot wait to talk about it. Spooky season is here! If you want to see this and more on Scene Before follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Venom: Let There Be Carnage?” What did you think about it? Or, which “Venom” movie do you prefer? The original or the sequel? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Don’t Breathe 2 (2021): This Terminator 2-Esque Horror Sequel May Leave You Breathless

“Don’t Breathe 2” is directed by Rodo Sayagues, who wrote and produced the original “Don’t Breathe.” This sequel is his directorial debut. This film stars Stephen Lang (Avatar, Tombstone), Brendan Sexton III (The Killing, The Odd Way Home), and Madelyn Grace (The Orville, Grey’s Anatomy). “Don’t Breathe 2” once again involves Norman Nordstrom (Stephen Lang), a blind man who is more able than he is set out to be. Years after his home was invaded, Nordstrom must face the realities in his way as his past catches up to him.

I saw this film over a couple weeks ago, and I almost passed on it but I gave in given the limited options at the movie theater. This is not to say that I was not looking forward to “Don’t Breathe 2,” but it has been awhile since I saw the original so I wondered if it would be reasonable to go see this sequel having not seen the first one recently to refresh my memory. This brings me to my first compliment of the film. There’s not much catching up to do if you have not watched the first movie. “Don’t Breathe 2” feels like its own, contained story, not to mention a good one.

I may have mentioned a few times on Scene Before that horror is one of my weaker genres. It’s not that I have a vendetta against horror, it’s just that I’ve missed a lot of its staples over the years. Staples including “Friday the 13th,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” and even some modern titles like “Insidious.” Despite this certified weakness, it did not stop me from checking out this “Don’t Breathe” sequel, and I cannot say I was underwhelmed. If anything, I walked out of this film feeling as if I watched a horror version of “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” Now, I’m not saying I liked it as much as “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” that film is honestly much better, but in terms of story, execution, vibe, and the way everything plays out, these two films present similar qualities. You have the villain of the first film returning once again, but this time, the villain has a good side to him, and much of the movie is spent between him and a kid. While not exactly the same, it kind of reminded me of the The Terminator having a bond with young John Connor. In “Don’t Breathe 2,” we see that The Blind Man has a daughter now by the name of Phoenix. This connection is presented extensively throughout the film and is nicely explored.

Sticking to my “Terminator” comparisons, I think Stephen Lang does a great job at portraying the Blind Man, otherwise known as Norman Nordstrom, once again. He kind of reminded me of a big guy who could step into any situation and make someone’s day a living hell, and do so in a way that as far as me, as an audience member, is concerned, is utterly dope. But as far as his character’s concerned, seeing him the way he is in this film is a slightly weird transition because in the last film he was the big bad. Here, he’s a hero. I do like how the film manages to continue the idea that Nordstrom wanted nothing more than a daughter. After all, in the first movie, it was revealed he used to have one, he was going to have another one before Cindy Roberts is accidentally killed by Nordstrom himself. As a result, towards the end of the film, Nordstrom traps Rocky in said film and attempts to inseminate her with a turkey baster. Despite the fact that the first film presented this concept with hint of evil attached, I love how this sequel dives into the originally crazy concept and expands on it. And it is not like the concept is anywhere near as twisted or wicked. I mean, there are abnormalities attached that could raise some questions from people standing by or other people who happen to have different parenting styles. Nevertheless, it feels more natural and more along the lines of a television drama for a period of time. After all, if you want the same wickedness that the first film provides, just wait for the second half where it gets dark and bloody, and boy do I mean it.

One of the best parts of “Don’t Breathe 2” is that there is a somewhat consistent sense of unpredictability. Yes, some of the scares, not all, but a selection, can be predictable, but story-wise, this film does not disappoint with the creepy, dark, and twisted direction they take their plot points and characters. I will not lie, there was a point towards the end of the second act where I basically winced as to what could happen within the next twenty minutes because I was getting increasingly creeped out.

If you had to ask me rwhich “Don’t Breathe” film I’d watch again right now, the answer would not be the easiest, but if you had to ask me what I thought about “Don’t Breathe 2,” I would argue that it is possibly, like “Terminator 2,” better than the original. I’m probably not in the majority when I say that, but I stand by my statement. I will also say that part of me does not want to see a sequel to “Don’t Breathe 2” because the movie ends in such a way that makes the idea of a sequel feel kind of campy or absurd. Granted, you never know. The Hollywood machine loves endless sequels and remakes, so anything is possible in a world where “Toy Story 4” can get made (and to positive results!).

If I had to give any flaws to “Don’t Breathe 2,” I’d say the one that comes to mind is that there is a major plot point that Phoenix experiences and I feel like her reaction to the whole scenario is not natural whatsoever. She gave a good performance in the film, but if anything, I feel like this issue is more on the script than anything else. This is something that is supposed to be sadistic, crazy, and life threatening, and the way that I interpreted most of her emotions were that of a robot. She just took it all in as if there was no real worry or misfortune. I don’t know, maybe it is because she’s already had enough going on, which I won’t get into for spoiler reasons, but nevertheless. Even so, I would highly recommend “Don’t Breathe 2,” especially to those who enjoyed the original.

One last thing, I don’t know if this was supposed to be a joke, but this was a literal line from the film…

“Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.”

It’s called “DON’T Breathe!” Get it right!

In the end, “Don’t Breathe 2” is a sequel that could take your breath away. Stephen Lang does a great job returning as the fierce Norman Nordstrom. This film is well directed, well shot, nicely edited. I think technically speaking, this film checks all the boxes. As a horror flick, it is hypnotizing. As a sequel, it is one of those cases where I may have enjoyed this film more than the original. And it is one of the better movies I have seen this year. If you have not seen “Don’t Breathe 2,” check it out whenever you can. I’m going to give “Don’t Breathe 2” a 7/10.

“Don’t Breathe 2” is now playing in theaters and is available to rent on VOD services such as Prime Video and Vudu.

Thanks for reading this review! Coming soon, I will have a couple new reviews for movies including “Reminiscence” and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” Stay tuned for those! Speaking of staying tuned, be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Don’t Breathe 2?” What did you think about it? Or, which of the two “Don’t Breathe” films is better? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Monster Hunter (2020): Paul W.S. Anderson and Milla Jovovich’s Latest Attempt at Alternating Video Game History

“Monster Hunter” is directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil, Mortal Kombat) and stars Milla Jovovich (The Fifth Element, The Fourth Kind), Tony Jaa (Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior, xXx: Return of Xander Cage), Tip “T.I.” Harris (Ant-Man, Get Hard), Meagan Good (Think Like a Man, Shazam!), Diego Boneta (Terminator: Dark Fate, Scream Queens), John Helman (X-Men: Days of Future Past, Mad Max: Fury Road), Jin Au-Yeung (The Man with the Iron Fists, 2 Fast 2 Furious), and Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy, Hellboy). This film is based on the Capcom video game franchise of the same name, where you go on quests to slay or capture monsters. In this 2020 film adaptation, Lt. Artemis and her fellow soldiers transport themselves to an unfamiliar world where they meet The Hunter (Tony Jaa). Together, the crew must survive against giant monsters in an attempt to return home.

First off, I just want to say, just because this is being published on the week of Christmas, Merry Christmas to those who celebrate! Second, “Monster Hunter” is the latest film put out theatrically from Sony. From my experience, Sony has been one of the studios that has been rather reserved during the pandemic. They have yet to put many of their films straight to streaming, although “Greyhound” and “An American Pickle” stand out as a couple exceptions. Although, when “Tenet” came out to somewhat underwhelming statistics, most notably in the United States, which is usually a key market for film, they said they “won’t make the mistake” of releasing a film of that size during the pandemic.

For the record, “Tenet” cost $205 million to make. Box office-wise, the film did well financially given the circumstances of the pandemic, but in normal times, it would not have been considered a success. “Monster Hunter,” to Sony’s benefit, is much less expensive. That film in particular cost $60 million to make. While that is not necessarily the biggest budget in the world, especially compared to the latest Marvel and “Star Wars” fare we have been getting, it is still not exactly cheap. However, it is more expensive than what Sony has been putting out, “The Broken Hearts Gallery” as one such example, since most theatres have been allowed to reopen. This made me wonder… “Why?”

After all, even though I never saw Paul W.S. Anderson’s “Resident Evil,” I am familiar with many of the franchise’s entries being dishonored by critics and even fans of the games. Part of me wondered if Sony just wanted to dump this film into theaters just to get it off its back, and if “Monster Hunter” was just another video game adaptation that felt nothing like the game itself.

Having now seen the film, my expectations were kind of met. Although at the same time, it is still better than I anticipated. Unlike myself, my dad has seen the “Resident Evil” movies, so I figured for this circumstance, I’d invite him to this screening considering it is from the same people. According to him, this movie has a very similar vibe and structure to the “Resident Evil” films. They are not Shakespeare in the least, but they most certainly fall into the guilty pleasure category. It’s not all bad, but holy hell it is not good. Simultaneously, particular points of the film felt like a blast.

I am going to get some negative points out of the way. This movie is definitely not going to win an editing Oscar. Of all the films to have come out this year, this is by far the LEAST qualified to possibly win Best Film Editing. The film manages to revisit a lot of the common problems we face in action films today. Specifically, quick cutting, not being able to tell who is who, and there also seems to be a little more slow-mo than I’d prefer. It’s almost like watching “The Matrix” if they couldn’t tell a story. There is a scene in the film where two people are fighting, and while they do kind of look alike, there was a point where I wondered who was who. If we learned anything from… I dunno, “Taken 3,” it’s that quick cutting is headache-inducing and should be avoided at all costs!

Liam Neeson deserves better!

Another big problem, and I was kind of expecting this from the get go, characterization is not really put at the forefront. Not only do we have a bunch of military soldiers who have nothing to do with the source material at the center of the story, but nearly every character in this film felt disposable. I did not care about anyone, they could get massacred, lose everything and everyone they know, and I still wouldn’t give a crap. That may partially be because the movie does not give us time to get to know anyone. We have these generic soldiers on a mission together, but nobody has a personality, nobody has any special quirks. They all sing together from time to time, but they do not really do anything else that stands out. They’re just these generic soldiers with their generic dialogue in a movie with a world that really should not feel generic! This is a movie with a world where someone fights gigantic monsters as part of a quest! Or… At least that’s what should be happening according to the video games. I do not need all film adaptations to follow the source material 100%, but this almost goes too far away from the original material at times.

This film is 1 hour and 39 minutes long. Thankfully, I never once felt bored throughout that time. I will say though, one surprising critique I will give the film is that I wish it were a minute longer in the runtime. Maybe two or three, but still. I know it does not seem like much, but again, the film failed to impress me character-wise, but if it took just a few more minutes just to have us get to know something about some of the others in the film, “Monster Hunter” might just garner my interest more as it progressed.

Although, thankfully, there is one relationship that defined the film and made it worth my time, and that is the relationship between Lt. Artemis (Milla Jovovich) and the Hunter (Tony Jaa). What made their relationship intriguing is the foreign aspect that came with each side. For Lt. Artemis, she spends much of the film in a world she has never once thought would be possible. When she tries to adapt to this unusual reality, she comes across the Hunter, and she tries to befriend him. Granted, it is through blatantly obvious Hershey’s product placement, but it is true that chocolate wins people over, even if they have never seen or heard of it. Why do you think “The Big Bang Theory” made an entire episode revolving around chocolate being used as positive reinforcement?

If you are a fan of the “Monster Hunter” games, I cannot guarantee that you will walk out of this movie saying it is just like the games. This sort of feels like a Michael Bay “Transformers” movie, where it is less about Transformers and more about the military and the government and how they deal with Transformers. Granted, this has a significantly tinier budget, a smaller cast, and I would even say that the military emphasis in this film is greater, because it never cuts away from the military to average civilians to Transformers doing their own s*it. One positive about the film, even though the story and characterization is lackluster, is that the film does not convolute itself with too many things going on. There is a certain beauty in the simplicity, albeit small, but it is there. If anything, this feels like “Predator” meets “Pacific Rim.” You have two worlds, one side enters the other one, and you have these soldiers trying to survive against giant creatures. Granted, both of those movies are much more watchable, but I rest my case.

In the end, “Monster Hunter” just reinforces what we have learned from “Superintelligence,” directed by Ben Falcone and starring Melissa McCarthy. If a husband and wife team direct and star in a film. Maybe it is not worth watching. I have not seen this duo’s bunch of “Resident Evil” films they did together, but I have heard from my dad that “Monster Hunter” falls in the same realm. If you want big action that falls into the guilty pleasure category, “Monster Hunter” may be for you. If you like the games and expect this film to be a solid “adaptation” of the source material, I am not sure if you will be satisfied. Yes, the effects look nice. There is some cool action. But is not enough to make a good movie. If you want to have a good time at the movies, just wait for “Wonder Woman 1984.” I have not seen it, so I cannot confirm if it is good, but it sure looks it! I’m going to give “Monster Hunter” a 4/10.

“Monster Hunter” is now playing in theaters in 2D, and is also available in premium large formats including Dolby Cinema, Cinemark XD, and IMAX.

Thanks for reading this review! Next week I will have my review up for “Wonder Woman 1984,” which will be in theatres and on HBO Max this Christmas. I also plan to watch and review “Soul” on Disney+, but I also do not plan to leave out “I’m Your Woman” on Prime Video, and “Wolfwalkers” on Apple TV+. There are also films exclusively in theaters I want to tackle such as “News of the World” starring Tom Hanks. There is a lot to watch through the holiday season so I cannot guarantee I will get to everything. But we shall see! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Monster Hunter?” What did you think about it? Or, have you seen any of the other video game to movie adaptations directed by Paul W.S. Anderson? Tell me your thoughts on those! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Last Vermeer (2019): A Carefully Crafted, Yet Forgettable Portrait of an Artistic WWII Conspiracy

“The Last Vermeer” is directed by Dan Friedkin, a producer of films including “The Mule,” “Hot Summer Nights,” and “All the Money in the World.” This film in particular is Friedkin’s directorial debut. It received positive reactions at festivals, and now it is getting a long-awaited theatrical release.

“The Last Vermeer” stars Guy Pearce (Memento, Iron Man 3) and Claes Bang (The Girl in the Spider’s Web, The Square) in a story about an artist who is suspected of selling a valuable painting to the Nazis during World War II.

Going into this movie, this was a rare case where I was fairly blind in regard to the goings on. I did watch a trailer prior to leaving my house, and I do think I have caught said trailer at the theater once or twice during other presentations. But this is a film that I went into knowing very little. One of the questions I am constantly asking myself as I type this review is how vague I should be in regard to my overall thoughts. I will do my best to give a summary of my experience.

Let’s start with the easy part. This movie kicks off and maintains a pace that does not feel quite satisfying. However, it is also a story that becomes more investing of my time and attention as it progresses. It has been some time since I watched this movie, but I would not be surprised if this goes down the route of say “Bloodshot,” which coincidentally also has Guy Pearce playing a character, to become one of my most forgotten movies of 2020. Although based on how it concludes, it is not all bad.

They say that bad endings can ruin good movies. Personally, that is a phrase that I have not continuously realized myself. Whenever I watch a good movie, it is usually consistent from start to finish. This year however, I will admit that I did catch one movie that started horribly but ended up being one of the most charming experiences I have sat through in recent memory. That movie by the way, is “Summerland,” starring Gemma Arterton, and it is available on DVD and for rent. While “The Last Vermeer” is not on the same level of “Summerland” in terms of quality for me, it plays out in a similar manner. “The Last Vermeer” starts off rather dull. In fact, as of writing this review, it has almost been a couple weeks since first experiencing “The Last Vermeer” and I almost barely even remember the beginning. Where it picks up is around the second half, because we get into the nitty gritty of the story and we get to witness quite the court case. Towards the end of the film, I was hooked, and it made this true event worth telling on the screen. The journey to get there however might end up being forgotten.

Let’s talk about Claes Bang (left). Claes Bang is not the most well known actor working today, but I want to emphasize him in this review partially because he’s one of the two leads, and this movie may signify a rabbit hole for the actor. One of the concerns I have for this movie is how it could outline Bang’s future. Claes Bang is not a bad actor by any means. I say this despite having only seen him in one other project aside from this one, specifically “The Burnt Orange Heresy.” Now, “The Burnt Orange Heresy” for those of you who do not know is a film about an art critic (Bang) recruited by a dealer to steal a painting. Now I do not know Claes Bang personally, and maybe he enjoys doing these art-centered movies, but I feel like if he continues having roles like the ones he’s getting, he could risk getting typecast in the future. Granted, we have examples of typecasting that work. Samuel L. Jackson often gets cast in roles that encourage him to shout the word “motherf*cker” so all the people of Uranus can hear it. Maybe I am overreacting, but as solid of an actor I think Claes Bang is, I think it would be interesting to see him take in another type of project. Yes, he’s done stuff like “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” in the past, and he’s even played Dracula in the BBC/Netflix series “Dracula.” I just wonder what Bang’s future holds because for all I know, it could continuously involve art movies. But if you want me to be frank about Bang’s performance in “The Last Vermeer,” I liked his character at times, I think he did a good job as his respective role, and he has great chemistry with Guy Pearce.

Speaking of Guy Pearce, I think the makeup and costuming department did a phenomenal job at making Pearce’s character jump off the screen. I have not seen all of Guy Pearce’s work, but I have witnessed some of it like “Memento,” “Iron Man 3,” and “Bedtime Stories.” This is not Guy Pearce, it is another… guy.

*rimshot*

Guy Pearce in this film feels less like Guy Pearce and more like an artist trying to pull of a lifelong Albert Einstein impression, and he does a pretty good job with it. Again, major props have to go to the costuming and makeup departments for pulling off how the character looks. Guy Pearce portrays the art dealer known as Han van Meegeren, and having searched for older photos of him, he looks the part. The Oscars, should they happen next year, is probably going to take place during April. We still have some time to determine whether this performance will hold up, but I would not mind seeing Pearce get an acting nomination.

Unfortunately, however, this movie is probably going to suffer from a lack of replay value, at least from me. It will probably get more than one watch from others, but this feels like a one and done flick, despite how there are some good things in it. But a barely investing beginning and exciting climax did not do it for me. I will say, this is a fascinating story, but I wonder if I would have had more fun researching it through Google as opposed to watching it in a film like this. This is Dan Friedkin’s directorial debut, so I am curious to see what he does in the future in regards to directing, but I just hope it has a greater oomph factor than “The Last Vermeer.”

In the end, “The Last Vermeer” is not half bad. You can watch it, but I would say there are better options out there if a theater is open near you. Go watch “Freaky.” Go watch “Honest Thief.” These may not be the best movies ever, but they are fun times. I liked “The Last Vermeer,” but I just wish it had a greater impact on me. Pearce and Bang are great actors and I would not mind seeing them collaborate on another project in the future, but I hope it is more investing than this one. I am going to give “The Last Vermeer” a 6/10.

“The Last Vermeer” is now playing exclusively in theaters wherever they are open.

Thanks for reading this review! I have some more reviews coming your way including for “Half Brothers,” now playing in theaters, and “Mank,” which is available in select cinemas and Netflix. I am also planning on watching “The Midnight Sky,” directed by George Clooney, which is now in theaters, but will be available on Netflix starting December 23rd. Also, I have obtained a pass to an online screening of STX’s upcoming film, “Greenland,” starring Gerard Butler. That film will be available on premium VOD starting December 18th, and I plan to have my review up sometime around the film’s release. If you want to see all this content and more, follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account, and give my Facebook page a like! I want to know, did you see “The Last Vermeer?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite example of typecasting? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Fantasy Island (2020): Fantasy F***ing Island

“Fantasy Island” is directed by Jeff Wadlow (Kick-Ass 2, Truth or Dare) and stars Michael Peña (Ant-Man, Dora and the Lost City of Gold), Maggie Q, Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars, Truth or Dare), Austin Stowell (Bridge of Spies, Dolphin Tale), Portia Doubleday (Mr. Robot, Carrie), Jimmy O. Yang (Silicon Valley, Fresh Off the Boat), Ryan Hansen (Friday the 13th, Party Down), and Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy, Days of Thunder). This film is based the television series of the same name, and takes place on an island where visitors see their fantasies come to life. However, as time passes, those fantasies lead to nightmares.

If you’re wondering how I spent my Halloween, I did not really do much. I watched “The Simpsons” on FXX, which was airing a Treehouse of Horror marathon, I had more food than usual, and my mother and I hunkered down to watch this disposable film in the living room. I have never been exposed to any previous material related to the “Fantasy Island” IP. I am aware that previous material exists, in fact my mother pointed out some details about the movie that harkens back to older material. Unfortunately, regardless of whatever faithfulness toward older material this film provides, it is not enough to make a good movie.

This film is tonally inconsistent, structurally discombobulated, and all around just forgettable. Without looking them up on IMDb, I cannot tell you almost a single character’s name from memory. This is how bad the movie is.

This movie is an hour and forty-nine minutes long, it did not need to be that long. Honestly, if this movie took out some of the over the top exposition, they could have trimmed the runtime down by like a few minutes, maybe ten. Short and sweet wins the race! “Fantasy Island” shows that there is a fantasy out there for everyone. If your fantasy is to be treated like an idiot while being overexposed, then this is the movie for you. There are barely any scenes where one can appreciate the sound of silence, embrace the visual art of filmmaking. It’s almost like words are being hammered over your head and you have no choice but to stand by and take it.

One of the core aspects of “Fantasy Island” is seeing these different personalities come together. They originate from alternate walks of life, they have separate fantasies, and it is cool to see some of them in action. But this is also where the movie suffers in a way. It is great to see these ideas and personalities mesh together. However, the movie also suffers because you have all these characters with different backgrounds and aspirations, that there is no one tone that defines the final product. Is it supposed to be lively? Depressing? Hardcore? Sensual? You could make an argument that it is all those things in one, but as a result, the movie sort of suffers from an identity problem. It’s just weird having to jump back and forth to see something vastly different every scene. There are even moments where we linger on one character for so long that I forget somebody else in this film even exists.

Let’s talk about the script of “Fantasy Island.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but I am pretty sure this was written in crayon. This is an actual line from the movie.

“Oh, I feel just like Jodie Foster in that Jodie Foster movie.”

“Fantasy Island” is a classic for the ages!

The script for “Fantasy Island” comes off as a punishment for those who ever thought of paying money to see it. There is almost nothing noteworthy about this film. It is a sorry excuse of a script. Not one character will be remembered, not one line stands out as iconic, not one idea feels bold. All around, it feels lazy. It’s almost as if Sony wanted to make this movie so bad they didn’t care how many drafts the script took. It’s colossally terrible! The movie is from the horror-based studio, Blumhouse. And naturally, they took the iconic property of “Fantasy Island” with an intention of fitting in a horror twist. But it doesn’t come off that way. The film is not that scary! If anything, it’s more hilarious than it is terrifying!

Fantasy Fucking Island Jimmy OYang GIF - FantasyFuckingIsland JimmyOYang BraxWeaver GIFs

“Fantasy f*cking island.” -Brax Weaver

Me too brother. I feel the same way. How did we get here?

I saw a lot of movies in 2018, and one movie that came out that year is “Truth or Dare,” another Blumhouse production. I missed that film, and I still have not seen it to this day. In fact part of me is glad I still have not seen it as it has received mostly negative reviews and has garnered a 5.2/10 on IMDb. Turns out that “Fantasy Island” is from the same director, writer, producer, and has even brought back Lucy Hale as a cast member for this film. Have we learned nothing?

Wait… “Truth or Dare” almost made a $100 million on a small budget?

“Truth or Dare” is getting a sequel?

Take me to FANTASY. F*CKING. ISLAND.

Unlike some other bad movies I have seen this year though, “Fantasy Island” has one advantage compared to its competition. I watched this film alongside my mother, and we had no regrets. This is the kind of film that if you want to get flat out wasted while watching, I would not object, because it definitely has that vibe. So if you invite your friends to your fantasy island to watch the disaster known as “Fantasy Island,” I can guarantee you all will be on Fantasy f*cking Island.

I said earlier in this review that not one character will be remembered. While I still sort of stand by that, I will say one of my big wonders for this film, is how the casting for JD and Brax came to fruition. Because I watched this movie and I don’t know if this was coincidental, it’s like looking at Bill and Ted, except that Bill and Ted had genuine charisma and chemistry. I did not watch this in the theater so thankfully I got to shout as loud as I want, but every other scene I would say something like “Duuuude” or “Excellent!” They feel like carbon copies of a much more compelling duo! Some of their dialogue represents that too!

Speaking of casting, this movie originally offered the role of Mr. Roarke, which ultimately went to Michael Peña, to Nicolas Cage.

Have you seen his resume in recent years? Also, Cage! You made a mistake! If they got Nicolas Cage, I would argue that this could have been the greatest bad movie ever made. I could just imagine the zaniness all over! What a missed opportunity! Michael Peña does what he can here, and I could tell that he is giving it his all, but his performance does not hide some recent complaints. Overexplaining, too much reliance on dialogue, and horrible writing. I can also imagine the direction in this film.

“Quiet on set! Lucy Hale, explain everything to the audience like they don’t have brains! Take 57! Action!”

Did I mention one of the three guys who wrote this movie, Jeff Wadlow, also has a screenplay credit for “Bloodshot?” I did not review that film, mainly due to a lack of motivation, but I am getting concerned for Wadlow’s life choices.

I will also say, one thing that is different about this movie compared to a few other bad films this year is that when it comes to a recent bad movie I saw, specifically “The Hunt,” is that I felt more emotionally attached to the film upon leaving it. By that I mean I felt complete and total anger, but I still felt something. “Fantasy Island” did not really let me feel much of anything. Yes, I was shouting at the screen, laughing, maybe getting a little angry here and there. However, upon leaving the film I started to forget about it. All my emotions separated from my head and went to its own little island. That can be a good thing because “Fantasy Island” is not a good movie, and the sooner I can forget about it, the better. But it also shows that there is no lasting impact. “The Hunt” made me genuinely fill myself with rage, and that was kind of the point of the film at times. “Fantasy Island” tries to be entertaining and scary, but fails at every step of the way. As a result, we have a forgettable mess.

In the end, “Fantasy Island” is a major waste of valuable time. You can probably watch this movie if you’re drunk. But I would rather preserve my liver. The cast, while somewhat competent, are all wasted. Not one person in this schlock added anything of value. All that happened to added were endless streams of exposition. At one moment this movie is a poppy wonderland, the next moment we’re at war, the next moment we’re having date night, it’s just a lot happening at once. The movie has too many characters that all feel disposable. These tones would be fine if the characters were fine. However, that’s not the case. I’m going to give “Fantasy f*cking Island” a 2/10.

Thanks for reading this review! I am hoping to get back to the theater sometime soon to watch something new. The past couple films I reviewed were stuff I watched at home, but if I have time, maybe I’ll check something out like “The Empty Man,” “Come Play,” or “Synchronic.” I will say though, the film I am looking forward to this month more than any other is another Blumhouse production, and that is “Freaky” starring Kathryn Newton and Vince Vaughn. It’s a horror twist on “Freaky Friday.” They just had an early screening in my area, but I did not go as I was watching “Alita: Battle Angel” at the AMC that night. Such a good movie. I will be sure to buy a ticket, watch the movie, and share my thoughts with you all. I think this is going to be absolute fun. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Fantasy Island?” What did you think about it? Or, what did you do for Halloween 2020? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!