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

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

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

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

TERRIFIC 3!

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

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

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

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

TERRIBLE 3!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JULY:

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

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

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

 

AUGUST:

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

OCTOBER:

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

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

 

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

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

VIP Ticket Perks:

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

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

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

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

 

DECEMBER:

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

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

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

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

*ALL COPYRIGHTS BELONG TO THEIR RESPECTIVE OWNERS*

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

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

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

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

91st Academy Awards Recap

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Before we dive into this post, I would like to kick off by offering my sincere apologies. Part of me wanted to do a post on my hopes and predictions going into this year’s Academy Awards show, but unfortunately, I literally lacked any time in the world to do such a thing. Apparently paying for my education is not enough to make my head spin, I need to be handed a bloated supply of homework as well! I wasn’t given this during the Super Bowl (REALLY DON’T CARE ABOUT THAT SHOW), so why should I get it on Oscar weekend? Anyway, earlier this week, I watched the 91st edition of the Academy Awards. I went into it with a few expectations. However, there was a part of me that thought this show was going to SUCK, and I even say that with my picks winning. Fortunately, that was not the case!

The first red flag in my sights for this year’s show is that there was no host this year. You guys may already know that Kevin Hart opted out at a point and nobody else happened to sign on. They did however announce names for a bunch of celebrities who will be present to give random speeches and nominee presentations. While not all of them were great, they did have a number of them which I was actually able to appreciate. And I can’t even believe I’m saying this.

Melissa McCarthy actually made me laugh! Throughout my 3 year experience of blogging on Scene Before, McCarthy has appeared in the #1 spot for my worst films of the year lists not just once, but twice! Although sometimes I kind of fail to give her credit where it is due, because there are a couple of occasions where she did make me laugh. When she played former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on “Saturday Night Live,” it was literally a plethora of some of the most gutbusting moments that I’ve encountered in the show’s recent years. McCarthy’s appearance during the Academy Awards ceremony was perhaps on the Sean Spicer level of funny. McCarthy comes out to present the Costume Design award. Doing so in this costume that is quite possibly inspired by “The Favourite.” She gives this speech about some of the best costumes and how they are not meant to have distracting elements. It’s just spectacular. So spectacular in fact that I almost forgot that Melissa McCarthy was a recent Razzie winner!

I will admit, when it comes to other celebrities, there are not that many other speeches worth pointing out. Although there is one moment where I appreciated John Mulaney’s line “I want these people to like me to a degree which I find embarrassing.” It’s not to say that they were bad, but there was not many others which I happened to find as interesting as say Melissa McCarthy.

When it comes to having no host, I was somewhat surprised, because I was highly skeptical going in on whether or not such a thing was going to work out. Turns out it did! Before this recent Oscars show, I thought to myself that this was all going to be a trainwreck. Without a host, it’s toast! Not anymore! But if the Academy were to announce for the 92nd show that they aren’t getting anyone to host that year, I’d just say, “Fine, whatever, you do you.” I wouldn’t care if there’s a host. Would I want a host? Certainly, but I’d be open to another Oscars show where nobody hosts. Because a couple of benefits to having no host is that the show focuses more on the awards, and it allows a diverse amounts of celebrities to present themselves to an audience. Because let’s face it. Not everyone likes Jimmy Kimmel, not everyone likes Seth MacFarlane, not everyone likes Ellen DeGeneres. Having one of those people host puts them in a certain spotlight, and even though certain people like The Oscars, they might not be satisfied with the person who may as well be taking up the biggest portion of the show’s screentime. Almost every celebrity onstage had their moment, and it allowed for a quick pace that was respectful. Granted, I am the rare find in the wild that does not mind staying up for eternity while watching The Oscars. However, there is a part of me that realizes that The Oscars is being shown to “everyone.” And there is a vast majority of people who want to see certain things throughout the show. The hostless ceremony is a good way to keep time short, and have the awards delivered as immediate as possible.

By the way, I recently saw this killer tweet from recent Academy Awards host Jimmy Kimmel:

I love you, Jimmy.

Now let’s move onto the awards. Had I done a prediction post a little bit ago, this would definitely be the main focal point. I’m not going to dive into every single award, but I am going to go over the ones that I found to be highlights.

Believe it or not, I have actually managed to expand my award palette this year, because just recently, specifically on February 9th, I went to a local theater in the Boston area because they were showing all of the animated short films that earned a nomination this year. They showed the five potential winners, along with some others that the Academy found to be “highly commendable.” Now I actually had a favorite of these films, but before I do that, let’s give out the nominees.

  • Bao- Domee Shi, Becky Neiman (WINNER!)
  • Weekends- Trevor Jimenez
  • Animal Behaviour- Alison Snowden, David Fine
  • One Small Step- Andrew Chesworth, Bobby Pontillas
  • Late Afternoon- Louise Bagnall, Nuria González Blanco

Now keep in mind, I actually have watched all of these films from start to finish. I actually had been exposed to “Bao” prior to seeing all of the four other films. The reason why that is is due to how it was presented before Pixar’s “Incredibles 2,” making it Pixar’s short film to present this year. I kind of liked “Bao,” but it is something that I think would not appeal to everyone. I understand the message behind it, but in reality, there are a couple of animated shorts on this list that I found to be more interesting. For example, “One Small Step.” Granted, this may be coming with a little bit of bias since I am a nerd, and nerds like space. I still found the main character’s journey to be intriguing and sort of, pun intended, down to Earth. But my personal favorite out of all of these is without question, “Animal Behavior.” This film was made in Canada, and might I just say, this film reminds me of how awesome Canada is. It gave us Ryan Gosling, Ryan Reynolds, Alex Trebek, Howie Mandel, and now… “Animal Behavior.” “Animal Behavior” takes a bunch of different living creatures and puts them all in a therapy session. One of the main characters is a gorilla who is in extreme denial, and often gets very angry. The results of this film, hilarious. One of the best jokes has to do with the mantis, because for those who are unaware, praying mantises eat their mate during intercourse. There are certain parts of the short where we see that sort of thing come into play, and overall it left me feeling very impressed. Plus, one thing that made this film different compared to all of the others, is that they were all trying to be serious. This one, while still having some sort of message intact, it still goes for as much comedy as possible. Kudos to the brilliant writing! Granted, the Academy goes for more serious material, and I do respect that, but I feel like was more impressed by the comedic efforts of “Animal Behaviour” as opposed to the serious efforts of “Late Afternoon” or “Bao.”

Moving onto another category, it’s Best Documentary! Let’s look at the nominees!

  • Free Solo- Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, Evan Hayes, Shannon Dill (WINNER!)
  • RBG- Betsy West, Julie Cohen
  • Hale County This Morning, This Evening- RaMell Ross, Joslyn Barnes, Su Kim
  • Of Fathers and Sons- Talal Derki, Ansgar Frerich, Eva Kemme, Tobias N. Siebert
  • Minding the Gap- Bing Liu, Diane Quon

Wait, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” wasn’t nominated?! F*ck this! Moving on!

Let’s try a different documentary category! Best Documentary Short! Let’s look at the nominees!

  • Period. End of Sentence.- Rayka Zehtabchi, Melissa Berton (WINNER!)
  • Black Sheep- Ed Perkins, Jonathan Chinn
  • End Game- Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
  • Lifeboat- Skye Fitzgerald, Bryn Mooser
  • A Night at the Garden- Marshall Curry

OK, these look much better. I haven’t seen any of these films, but they sound much better. Now I am not going to call one of these films superior to all of the others, all of my opinions related to such a thing would technically be invalid. But, the victory speech, holy f*ck. Quite possibly the best speech of the night!

“I’m not crying because I’m on my period or anything! I can’t believe a film about menstruation just won an Oscar!” -Rayka Zehtabchi

“A period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education!” -Melissa Berton

Enough said. Period. End of sentence.

Another category that stood out to me was Best Visual Effects, mainly because there was one movie that I felt should win, but didn’t win. Granted, the winner to me has extremely competent visuals, but the reality is, I had my pick. Here are the nominees.

Ryan Gosling in First Man (2018)

  • First Man- Paul LambertIan HunterTristan MylesJ.D. Schwalm (WINNER!)
  • Avengers: Infinity War- Dan DeLeeuwKelly PortRussell EarlDaniel Sudick
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story- Rob BredowPatrick TubachNeal ScanlanDominic Tuohy
  • Ready Player One- Roger GuyettGrady CoferMatthew E. ButlerDavid Shirk
  • Christopher Robin- Chris LawrenceMike EamesTheo JonesChris Corbould

Let’s take some things into perspective. While I kinda hated “Solo,” I could see it being nominated for visual effects. I didn’t want it to win, but still. “Christopher Robin” was an alright movie, nothing really that special. But then again, I have a bare attachment to “Winnie the Pooh.” The CGI characters were not bad though. “Avengers: Infinity War” was probably my second or third pick to win, right along with “First Man,” which did win. Aside from all of the huge scale glory happening everywhere on screen, you also have to give credit to the effects team for creating Thanos. To me, Thanos is up there with Smaug and Gollum as one of the greats when it comes to CGI character creations. Now with that being said, “READY PLAYER ONE” WAS SNUBBED! Granted, I already awarded “Ready Player One” myself because I now do the Jackoff Awards, but I would have given a thumbs up to the voters had they let “Ready Player One” win! Let’s take another set of ideas into perspective. “Avengers: Infinity War” has comic book style action, random computer effects flying everywhere, and a well done CGI character. I’ve seen that before. In fact, “Christopher Robin” had several of those. Granted, I liked “Infinity War’s” effects better, but still. “Solo” had several effects that I’ve seen in many other movies, and when it comes to the “Star Wars” franchise, it’s not even my favorite movie in terms of visuals. While I will say that “The Last Jedi” is actually worse than “Solo” as a movie, which I am honestly shocked to say. It actually looked nicer! “Solo” has its moments, but when comparing it to the rest of the franchise, it’s in between Obi-Wan and Anakin, because ya know, it kinda has the middle ground. For “Ready Player One,” I wanted that to win, because I felt it was the most visually unique movie of the year. Not only did it manage to visually create its own characters, but it actually recreated segments from other works of art! There is a scene in the film that actually takes place in a location from “The Shining.” Not only that, but you have two different worlds being dealt with in the movie, meaning there are two different places to insert various visuals. The effects team, personally, outdid themselves! I am not a crybaby over “First Man” getting the gold, but at the same time, I’m also wondering why it even got it because “Ready Player One” was just a unique trip. And this goes back to my recent statements. I’ve seen visuals like “First Man” in the past. I’ve seen it in “Apollo 13.” I’ve seen it in “Gravity.” I’ve seen it in “Interstellar.” Although at the same time, I said after I saw the movie that it was not my favorite movie of the year in terms of the story, but from a technical perspective, it was definitely the most well made movie of the year. So while it is not my #1 pick for visual effects, they are by NO MEANS incompetent. Granted, that comment I made after I saw “First Man,” that likely changed overtime after I saw “Roma,” but nevertheless.

Another highlight of the night, for anything but good reason (for the most part) is Best Makeup & Hairstyling. Here are the nominees.

  • Vice- Greg CannomKate BiscoePatricia Dehaney (WINNER!)
  • Mary Queen of Scots- Göran LundströmPamela Goldammer
  • Border- Jenny ShircoreMarc PilcherJessica Brooks

As I once predicted, “Vice” came out on top. The makeup might actually be the best part of the entire movie. So I was excited to see it win. Then… I saw the speech. The three winners practically did not even know what it was they were supposed to say. They had a paper in front of them, which is fine, I have nothing against that, but at least put a little preparation into your speech! At least, have a plan! Visualize! Get together on a Google Hangout or something! I mean, it was slow, it was like watching three people who had recently received amnesia! I’m just waiting for them to get hit in the head with coconuts and suddenly talk like they’re Peter Griffin after he drank Red Bull! They almost didn’t even remember anybody’s name! Ah well, still, congrats I guess.

Anyway, moving onto another category, which I guarantee has a better speech, let’s go onto Best Animated Feature. I do think it is a somewhat unnecessary category, given how it sort of diminishes the art of the animated movie as a whole, but I still want to talk about it. Here are the nominees!

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse- Bob PersichettiPeter RamseyRodney RothmanPhil LordChristopher Miller (WINNER!)
  • Incredibles 2- Brad BirdJohn WalkerNicole Paradis Grindle
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet- Rich MoorePhil JohnstonClark Spencer
  • Isle of Dogs- Wes AndersonScott RudinSteven RalesJeremy Dawson
  • Mirai- Mamoru HosodaYûichirô Saitô

Out of the five films listed, I have seen every single one except “Mirai,” but then again, it wasn’t really marketed around here so I don’t really have much to say about it overall. “Ralph Breaks the Internet” was not only enjoyable, but it honestly shocked me to no end. Because let’s be real, I thought the marketing was, *snobby voice* an abomination! I thought that movie was going to be the most obvious cash-in from Disney this past year (somehow I forgot about “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms”). Turns out that it is not only a good movie experience, but also a great parody on the Disney company! Just watch what Vanellope has to go through in the film to see what I mean! Then we have “Isle of Dogs” which is the only stop-motion film on the list. Over these last months, Wes Anderson has grown on me a bit as a director, and his work in this film supports my statement. Plus, I actually hate dogs, so the fact that I like this movie actually says something! “Incredibles 2” is a worthy sequel to what is, quite literally, my favorite animated film of all-time. Not only is it a part of my childhood, but it is just a well crafted movie. For awhile, it was my favorite film of the year, that is… until the release of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse!” And might I just say, JUSTICE HAS BEEN SERVED! Because two people behind “Spider-Verse,” specifically as writers and producers, have also worked on “The LEGO Movie.” That is one of the best movies of 2014, and probably one of the best animations I’ve ever seen. And not only did that movie not win an Oscar, it didn’t even get nominated! Sure, it was nominated for Best Original Song due to the presence of “Everything Is Awesome,” but that’s not even the best part of the movie! Heck, that wasn’t even the best song in the movie! Ah well, catchy tunes can be catchy. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller get an Oscar! They didn’t have to wait as long as say Kevin O’Connell (sound mixer who waited 21 times), Roger Deakins (cinematographer who waited 14 times), or Glenn Close (actress nominated 7 times and still waiting), but they’ve each got one! “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is one of the best superhero movies of 2018, and I’d even say it’s better than “Black Panther,” which actually received more nominations than this movie! Speaking of which, let’s talk about that.

Based on the results of the recent Academy Awards show, “Black Panther,” my fourth place pick this year for superhero films, managed to take home three Academy Awards. None of them were in super major categories. Granted, one of them was score, which to me, is usually a major factor on whether or not your movie is in my top movies of the year for some reason. If I remember your music, chances are I’m going to like your movie. Now, “Black Panther” is nowhere close to being my favorite superhero flick of 2018. But with that in mind, I still gotta give the movie respect, because it did something for comic book movies that has never been done before. Over the years, several movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have received nominations for the Academy Awards. Some include “Doctor Strange,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” “The Avengers,” “Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2,” and “Iron Man 3.” None of them have ever won an Oscar. Just this year, “Black Panther” changed that. Because it won 3. While I would say that for every of its categories for which the film was nominated, I was actually rooting for other films, including “The Favourite!” That actually says something because that film was nominated for best picture and I’m still not happy about it to this day! Nevertheless, it won three awards, which to me, shows that the Academy is getting more serious about the action movie genre and the comic book movie genre. They have progressively been doing such a thing in some of their more recent ceremonies with movies like “The Dark Knight” and “Logan.” Although, when it comes to comic-book based films, this is probably the best year Oscar-wise because with the MCU’s first three wins ever, they have another nomination on top of that (Avengers: Infinity War). Plus, as recently mentioned, “Spider-Verse” won Best Animated Feature. In fact, “Black Panther” was one of the eight movies nominated for Best Picture this year. I’m not saying I want more inclusion from comic-book movies, but I love how the Academy is recognizing that comic-book movies can be more than just entertainment. They can be works of art. Maybe I don’t see “Black Panther” the same way as they do, but I see where they may be coming from with it. Although I will say, I’m white. Just pointing that out. Congrats to the comic-book film genre.

Another highlight in terms of awards including some of the acting sections. Starting with Best Supporting Actor, here are the nominees!

  • Mahershala Ali- Green Book (WINNER!)
  • Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman)
  • Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
  • Sam Elliott (A Star Is Born)
  • Sam Rockwell (Vice)

Ah, seems very familiar. I nominated four of these people for the Jackoffs. If Timothée Chalamet was nominated here than that would be five. But whatever. And just like the Jackoffs, Mahershala Ali won! Ali to me is deserving of his win because of the range provided in his performance. Sam Elliott is great, the same can be said for someone like Sam Rockwell. But they seem to play the same character the whole movie. While Ali is technically one guy during the movie, he almost seems to play two. You have this robotic priest, and I won’t go into much more detail, but he reveals more emotion as he develops. Ali is well deserving of his award if you ask me.

Moving onto Best Supporting Actress!

  • Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)
  • Marina de Tavira (Roma)
  • Amy Adams (Vice)
  • Emma Stone (The Favourite)
  • Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)

Out of all of these, I have interestingly witnessed all of these performances EXCEPT Regina King, which is too bad, because I heard good things about “If Beale Street Could Talk.” And I was watching the Red Carpet buildup before the Oscars started, and having seen people commentate on the broadcast, this made King’s win no surprise because it was practically a lock. Out of the ones I’ve seen, my personally favorite without a doubt has to be Amy Adams. She transformed into her character in “Vice!” I will give credit to “The Favourite” in the acting department, especially when you consider two of its actors are nominated in the same category, but it does not save “The Favourite” from being a less than satisfying movie. As far as Marina de Tavira goes, I almost wonder why she was nominated to begin with. I’m not saying she performed badly in “Roma,” in fact she did a great job. But it’s kind of surprising considering how she was never really nominated for the same role anywhere else during this award season.

Now onto Best Actress! Here are the nominees!

  • Olivia Colman (The Favourite)
  • Yalitza Aparicio (Roma)
  • Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born)
  • Glenn Close (The Wife)
  • Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

Melissa McCarthy? What the?! It’s raining cats and dogs! I’ve seen three of these performances, and while there is a part of me that was able appreciate Olivia Colman as a performer in “The Favourite,” I found the performances from say Lady Gaga and Yalitza Aparicio a bit more compelling. And part of my reasoning behind such a statement may be because the two aren’t known for their acting. Gaga is primarily a singer, which also kind of means she has an advantage in her role. But what really wowed me is Yalitza Aparicio, because this is actually the first acting job she ever did in her entire life. For a first-time actor, you’d expect them to give a C performance, maybe a B performance at best. But this to me was no doubt, an A+ performance! And to be honest, part of me was expecting Glenn Close to win. Plus it would have been fascinating because she has been waiting awhile for her award. But if you have seen the Jackoffs, you might be able to gather my opinion on this. TONI COLLETTE WAS SNUBBED!

Lastly for acting, we have Best Actor. Here are the nominees!

  • Rami Malek- Bohemian Rhapsody (WINNER!)
  • Bradley Cooper- A Star Is Born
  • Viggo Mortensen- Green Book
  • Willem Dafoe- At Eternity’s Gate
  • Christian Bale- Vice

To me, Malek’s win was a no brainer. I was appreciative of this performance because of how it was able to transform this actor into a beloved celebrity of another kind. Granted, it is all him, because part of it was due to someone else doing his vocals and I think costume design and makeup go into play with my appreciation as well, but still, he was my pick to win. My second pick would have been Bradley Cooper because he had to learn to sing for his role, and it actually paid off! Out of these performances, I will point out that I’ve seen four of them, the one that I didn’t see is Willem Dafoe, but I also liked the performances from Bale and Mortensen. If I had to choose between them, I’d say Mortensen was the better performer, but if Bale had won, I would have loved to have seen his speech. Because when it comes to the crew on “Vice,” one terrible speech was already provided in the Makeup & Hairstyling category, but had he gone up, I would have been interested to see his speech. I say so because he gave perhaps my favorite speech at the Golden Globes this year, specifically where he says this:

“Thank you to Satan for giving me inspiration on how to play this role!”

HAHAHAHAHAHA! How often do you hear that?! While that might make certain people upset or offended, I thought personally that was one of the highlights of that show.

We have a few more categories to go over, a couple of which include the screenplay categories. Here are the original screenplay nominees!

  • Green Book- Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly (WINNER!)
  • First Reformed (Paul Schrader)
  • Roma (Alfonso Cuarón)
  • Vice (Adam McKay)
  • The Favourite (Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara)

I’m sorry, “The Favourite,” while it has some memorable lines, the screenplay was not even close to being something special. In fact, that’s one of the biggest problems I have with the movie, because this story was trying its best to be compelling, but it felt more drawn out than I expected! And I will admit, I am guy who is willing to appreciate film no matter what kind of movie we are talking about, but even for me, this was too slow! I think the biggest problem was the chapter layout. Because when I first saw it, I thought the chapters represented a three or five act structure, if I recall correctly, it was like nine. I am with “Green Book” as  the winner however. It’s a good story with compelling characters, and some quirkiness behind it too. Then again, it is hard to avoid expecting a good script from a guy who worked on “There’s Something About Mary.” If it weren’t for “Green Book” winning, I would have either picked “Roma” or “Vice.” With “Roma,” it was a script that took a bit of time to get me fully intrigued, but once I was hooked, I was not able to let go. It was investing, emotionally charged, and is capable of showing the occasional unpredictably of life. “Vice” however is rather interesting to me because while it was based on true events, it was able to have some satirical fun. One of the best written scenes of the year comes during the middle of the film where the acts like it is about to end saying the characters live happily ever after and never get in politics ever again. GEN-I-US!

As for the adapted screenplays, here are the nominees!

  • BlacKkKlansman- Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmont, Spike Lee (WINNER!)
  • A Star Is Born- Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters
  • Can You Ever Forgive Me?- Nicole HolofcenerJeff Whitty
  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs- Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
  • If Beale Street Could Talk- Barry Jenkins

Surprisingly, while I’ve seen a number of things in the listed this categories this year, this is a category where I’ve seen only two things. To be specific, “A Star Is Born” and “BlacKkKlansman.” I missed out on “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” and “If Beale Street Could Talk.” As far as “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” goes, it’s on Netflix and I have don’t Netflix, nor do I ever plan to get it. Enough said. Luckily, of the two I did see, I nominated both for the Jackoffs in this exact category. Granted, I gave the 1 up to “A Star Is Born,” but “BlacKkKansman” is also worthy of your support. Interestingly, and if you watch the movie, this shouldn’t really come as a shock, Spike Lee’s speech was rather critical of Donald Trump. Let’s see how President Orange responded.

REMINDER: This guy won multiple Razzies this year!

A couple more categories to go, let’s move onto Best Director!

  • Alfonso Cuarón (Roma)
  • Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman)
  • Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War)
  • Adam McKay (Vice)
  • Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite)

“The Favourite” might just be one of the best worst movies of all time, because I can clearly tell people are giving their 110% effort throughout the production, but it just didn’t work for me. The directing in the film is actually not that bad and I see why it received a nomination. In fact, all of these directors are worthy of their nominations if you ask me. Although there is no questioning it. Cuarón directed the hell out of “Roma.” Based on how he did this movie, the project felt extremely personal, and the direction felt like everything came right out of his mind. Nothing felt like it came from an outsider or a studio. I am well aware that in life you can’t always get what you want, but it’s nice to get what you want when you are look at things from a directorial point of view. Plus, Cuarón had his hands full with this film. Not only did he have a credit for directing, but he also has a credit for the screenplay, the editing, the cinematography, and even as a producer. He did a lot for one film! He’s like Tommy Wiseau, only difference is that Cuarón was able to create a critically successful movie. I hate Netflix, like with a burning passion, but I will give them credit for quite possibly saying “You know what Alfonso, you’re so f*cking talented. Make whatever movie you want!” I’m imagining something like that went on behind the scenes.

Two more categories to go, let’s pay attention towards the Best Cinematography category! Here are the nominees!

  • Alfonso Cuarón- Roma (WINNER!)
  • Lukasz Zal- Cold War
  • Matthew Libatique- A Star Is Born
  • Robbie Ryan- The Favourite
  • Caleb Deschanel- Never Look Away

And to my lack of surprise, Cuarón takes this award too! If you have seen my last Academy Awards recap, chances are that you’d know that cinematography was probably the category I was most passionate about that year. The reason was due to how one of the nominees was Roger Deakins, who FINALLY won an Oscar for his work in “Blade Runner 2049!” This year, I don’t really have the same passion for that category, but I was able to appreciate a couple of the nominees. “Roma” is a movie that I thought was technically brilliant, and its cinematography absolutely showcases that. SUPER GLAD IT WON! That movie had many shots that made me wonder how they even came about! Netflix, PLEASE. Release a Blu-ray for “Roma!” I want my bonus features! In fact, for the Jackoffs, that movie also won Best Cinematography. Speaking of which, I also nominated “Cold War,” which is unique because it featured a 4:3 aspect ratio, and like “Roma,” it’s in black and white. When I reviewed “Cold War,” I felt that the film’s technical specs were something I could appreciate more than the film’s story, and the cinematography was the biggest standout to me. I can approve of “The Favourite” being nominated, but when it comes to “A Star Is Born.” Some of the shots were nice, but I don’t see why it is nominated. Maybe the set design and the lighting stood out to me, but standard shots are not the biggest standout when it comes to “A Star Is Born.” In fact, a similar movie, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” actually comes to mind when I think of this nomination. There are a number of shots that truly immerse me into the film. This is especially true during the Live Aid scene. The extended run through the audience set the mood entirely for that scene alone. There are certain shots that give you a sense of scope, it’s almost mind-boggling. As for “Never Look Away,” I never saw that movie, so I have nothing to say about it.

And now, for Best Picture. This year there were eight nominees. Out of all of them, I actually had something that I truly wanted to win. Last year I wanted “Dunkirk” to win, but I also missed out on many of last year’s Best Picture nominees. This year however, I actually saw all eight of them. If you wanted to know my pick for Best Picture this year, it was “Roma.” What a f*cking movie. Anyway, here are the nominees!

  • Green Book- Jim Burke, Charles B. Wessler, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly and Nick Vallelonga (WINNER!)
  • Black Panther- Kevin Feige
  • The Favourite- Ceci Dempsey, Ed Guiney, Lee Magiday and Yorgos Lanthimos
  • Bohemian Rhapsody- Graham King
  • A Star Is Born- Bill Gerber, Bradley Cooper and Lynette Howell Taylor
  • Vice- Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Adam McKay and Kevin Messick
  • Roma- Gabriela Rodríguez and Alfonso Cuarón
  • BlacKkKlansman- Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Raymond Mansfield, Jordan Peele and Spike Lee

I’m gonna do this by talking about the movies that didn’t win first. “The Favourite” and “Black Panther?” You can honestly forget about those two! The pacing in “The Favourite” is horrible and “Black Panther” is not even the best comic book movie of the year! A lot of people go around saying that film is “socially important,” but that has nothing to do with how good a movie is. Just because your film has a black person in it, it doesn’t make it good. What matters is how it was executed. You know what comic book movie was socially important? “Wonder Woman!” And that’s a masterpiece compared to “Black Panther!” AND it wasn’t nominated for any Oscars for its respective year! When I like “Aquaman,” “Deadpool 2,” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and “Avengers: Infinity War” more than “Black Panther,” you can probably tell what I’m trying to say here about it. “Vice” was pretty good, but ultimately lacking in some sort of substance that didn’t seem to be there as I watched the movie. I appreciate the work that went into it, but some parts of the movie were better than others. “Bohemian Rhapsody” is sort of interesting. I think it is a good tribute to Queen and Freddie Mercury, but it is ultimately just that, nothing more. Sure, there’s good cinematography and a rock solid performance from Rami Malek, but it doesn’t really change the game. Then there is “A Star Is Born.” I thought Bradley Cooper did a great job with that movie because he had a lot to do on it, and not just as a performer. Although when it comes to his performance skills on that film, that’s probably the best part because of how he needed to not just talk, but play an instrument and sing. “BlacKkKlansman” may have been a well written, well directed, and well acted film. But even if you remove all of those qualities from the table, you still have a great concept. An African-American police officer pretends he’s white and infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan! And it’s based on a true story!

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When it comes to the two films left to talk about, I already said what I need to say about “Roma.” It is such a masterful movie. Plus, it partially made me change my mind about how serious Netflix could possibly be in the movie theater industry. Granted, they still have some ways to go, just ask Steven Spielberg, but they’re making progress. I really wanted that film to win, and I actually had high confidence that it was going to win this year. Then Julia Roberts gets onstage, and says the words “Green Book.”

Did not expect that.

But you know what? It’s cool, that was my second pick anyway! I know there’s a lot of controversy surrounding “Green Book” right now, it almost reminds me of “The Greatest Showman.” Part of me might regret watching “Green Book” for that reason alone, but I also have to keep in mind that when I did see the film, I enjoyed what I saw. I thought the screenplay was well done. The chemistry between the main characters went together like bread and butter. And the acting is superb! “Green Book” may not be my pick for Best Picture, but it was certainly worth a watch. It’s got some serious parts in it, but it is almost like a feel good story at times. It’s nice to see the formation of two unlikely friends. Plus, it’s one of those rare times where product placement WORKS. Will I watch “Green Book” again sometime in the future? Most likely. It is a fun watch, and definitely worth your time. Congrats to “Green Book!” Congrats to all of the other nominees!

Thanks for reading this post! The 91st Academy Awards was definitely a surprise! I was expect a mediocre show at best, and it turned out to be pretty good. Would I like a host next year? Certainly. But I am also now open to the idea of a hostless Oscars ceremony. Now that I’ve seen it, it worked out! I gotta give massive respect for the Academy for including all of the awards, and I also want to give a shoutout to Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper for an awesome performance of “Shallow!” You guys rock! Speaking of which, Queen, great opening! Well done! When it comes to my future content, I will be doing a review of “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World!” And also, as of writing this, Scene Before is now three years old! It just turned three recently, I want to do something for the three year anniversary, but if I actually manage to do something, it probably won’t be up soon, because college is keeping me busy. Like, insanely busy. I have some ideas, who knows? Maybe I’ll do the same thing as the two year anniversary? But only time will tell! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see the 91st Academy Awards? What are your thoughts? Any snubs? Great moments? Do you agree with everything? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018): Somehow… This Star Wars Movie Exists

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“Solo: A Star Wars Story,” the first “Star Wars” movie in my entire life to have come out where I think to myself, “I never asked for this,” is kinda sorta maybe directed by Ron Howard (Apollo 13, Happy Days), and stars Alden Ehrenreich (Hail, Caesar!, Beautiful Creatures), Woody Harrelson (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Zombieland), Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones, Me Before You), Donald Glover (The Martian, Atlanta), Thandie Newton (Mission: Impossible II, Westworld), and Paul Bettany (Iron Man, Margin Call). This film is the “Star Wars” prequel/spinoff released by the endless money-generators known as Disney. The film revolves around a young Han Solo, played by Alden Ehrenreich, as we get to know his origins. We also meet younger versions of Chewbacca (which if you have seen the main trailer to movie, you’d know he’s not THAT young), and Lando Calrissian. This film when you break it down is a heist adventure that takes place prior to the some of rebellious events we know in the “Star Wars” universe.

Going into this film I had a number of emotions on my mind. I was excited to see a new “Star Wars” film. Although I didn’t think it would be all that good. But since they’re owned by Disney now, and Star Wars=instant money, they obviously want this intellectual property shoved down our throats. I went to see this at 10PM tonight, I was originally going to see it at 7PM, but I couldn’t due to not knowing a certain event occurred around that time, and I spent $61 on NON-REFUNDABLE tickets. By the way, the person I handed the tickets down to, couldn’t even keep them because they were attending the same event as I! Plus, I was one of the numerous souls who bought their tickets pretty much as soon as they went on sale. As I spent my money on this movie, I was worried it was just going to be some corporate cash-in that only exists for no purpose of being compelling or a masterpiece. I was so worried that the intellectual property of “Star Wars” was no longer an idea of wonder or magic (funny how it’s owned by Disney now), and just a money maker. Based on what Disney has been doing to crank this movie out at a time like this, is basically making them look like the movie version of “Call of Duty.” I say this because “Call of Duty” releases one game each year and they have an enormous fanbase to back them up. Although when it comes to most of these games, none of them are perfect when it comes to story. Yes, a lot of people play these games for the multiplayer, but we’re talking about story and characterization here. I mean, heck! Apparently there’s a Boba Fett movie in the works! Yes, we had not really all that much exposure to the character as a whole, but that’s what makes the character mysterious and interesting! Disney wants to take the mystery of everything and reveal it all to you! It’s like if “2001: A Space Odyssey” had narration telling you what everything meant! That movie probably would still be interesting to watch, but it would be NOWHERE near the classic it is now.

Also, one of the biggest things tearing this movie apart is the production behind it. This movie is written by Lawrence Kasdan (right), who wrote three “Star Wars” films released prior to this one. His son, Jonathan (left) wrote the movie alongside him. The movie was originally to be directed by two people, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, both of whom have done collaborative work before on “The LEGO Movie” and “21 Jump Street.” The vision of the screenplay was not fulfilled, so Lord and Miller left their directing positions. Although they are credited as executive producers. After a rather short search, Ron Howard signed on as the movie’s new official director.

Ron Howard to me is kind of mixed bag when it comes to directing. I think he can definitely be a good director, but in recent years he hasn’t done the best work of his life. He can do really good movies like “Apollo 13” and “Cinderella Man.” And while I haven’t seen these, I will point out, the Robert Langdon film series of his, was generally not up to par of what a movie could be according to many people.

With all that being said, I can now tell you this is probably the biggest surprise of a movie I’ve seen all year. Based on what I just said up above, you probably could tell I thought this movie was gonna suck. Turns out it didn’t exactly suck. I wouldn’t call it great, not a classic, definitely not the best “Star Wars” movie, in fact when it comes the “Star Wars” franchise, this is a movie that would probably rank on the lower end for me. I will say there are more movies in the franchise that I like as oppose to dislike, and this is part of the great number of movies in the franchise that I like. In fact, of all the movies released in the franchise that I LIKE, this is probably the one I like the least. I mean, unless you count the 2008 “Clone Wars” movie which as of now I think is “alright.” Not great, but alright. I don’t know, I don’t think I’ve watched it since I was 9 or 10. I own it, but I haven’t watched it in forever.

Let’s get down and dirty and talk about the film’s main character, Han Solo. This younger interpretation of Han Solo is played by Alden Ehrenreich. I’ve actually seen Ehrenreich before in “Hail, Caesar!.” While I don’t exactly remember Ehrenreich’s character or performance all that much in that particular movie, I will say that part of why I don’t remember that character so much is because the movie itself is forgettable. Not bad, but forgettable. Here though, his performance is pretty good for an interpretation of young Han Solo. I wouldn’t say this is solid, A+, perfect casting, however there are definitely worse routes that could have been taken regarding the casting choice. And much like this movie in general, my expectations for Enhenreich performance-wise and capturing the spirit of Han Solo was pretty low. So I gotta give props to him for proving me wrong.

But let’s all be honest, when it comes to characters we already know, one shines as the star of the movie and that is Lando Calrissian played by Donald Glover. Once he was shown in the trailers, a great portion of the fanbase just basically agreed that Lando was perfectly cast. And in this movie, I gotta say, he is everything you see in the trailers, and everything you probably want young Lando Calrissian to be. He’s a gambler, he’s charming, he’s expressive, he’s enthusiastic, and he’s alert. What a f*cking guy! You see this in the trailer, but during the movie, Calrissian says at one point “You might wanna buckle up baby,” that line is just full of instant goosebumps shoved right into your pie hole! Overall, Glover gives a fine performance in this movie and you know what? If they do a separate Lando spinoff, it better have Donald Glover in it! YOU HEAR THAT DISNEY?! I’M GIVING YOU MORE MONEY, SHOVE IT UP YOUR A–wait, it’s Disney, they’re scared of this sort of thing. Shove it up your unicorn rainbow.

Now… Let’s just hope Deadpool doesn’t read that last comment.

And of course, another main character in this movie is Chewbacca. I feel like this movie did a really good job on 1: Giving us a Chewbacca that’s part-sweetheart and part-monster. And 2: Establishing the chemistry between him and Han. Chewie in this movie represents a Chewbacca that I’ve thought about for sometime in my life. What do I mean? Well to do that, let’s talk about the Russians. Not about vodka, not about Stalin, not about pee-pee tapes, none of that, but we’re talkin’ about the Russians! For those of you who are unaware, here is some text taken from the Wikipedia page for Chewbacca.

“It is said that Chewbacca’s name is derived from собака (sobaka), the Russian word for dog.”

Once I learned that, it kind of made sense. Chewbacca is kind of in a way, Han’s best friend. Not only that, but as you watch this movie, you see Chewie and he starts off like a wolf, a wilder version of what a dog could be, but as you go through the film, you see him become tamer. OK, not entirely, he’s still a sore loser. But seriously, this depiction of Chewbacca was pretty solid and so were the interactions between him and Han.

Now I just introduced the older characters and those are all fine and dandy. Now let’s move onto some forgettable… bland… less worthy of being cared about… newer faces.

Of the newer characters that make an appearance, I gotta say Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s L3-37 is probably one of the better characters of them all. But that’s not saying much, because for the most part, the characters are all kind of mediocre. Upon first seeing her, I was somewhat worried, because I was convinced that I was somehow seeing “The Last Jedi” again. What I mean by that is that one of her first lines sounds like a PSA or something you hear in a social message. You know how in “The Last Jedi” they had a social message against animal cruelty? It felt out of place in a movie which had that scene taking place on a certain planet that already felt out of place! Luckily, she’s rather funny. A little too cartoony in my personal opinion. I mean, I get it, these movies do have an audience of children, and if I were watching this as a kid, maybe I’d enjoy it, but I just wasn’t into it. But ultimately I just didn’t care all that much about her character. Although, I must say, L3 may have uttered the closest thing to a real life swear in the “Star Wars” saga. Be sure to look out for it, chances are you’ll hear it if you pay close enough attention.

I gotta say, one character that I can’t decide whether she’s just mediocre or really cool is Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra. She’s basically Han’s girlfriend, and that’s pretty much all I’ll say about her. Although, there’s a point sometime in the movie, where you see this transition of hers, I can’t decide whether or not I buy it.

One character I was kind of looking forward to seeing is Tobias Beckett, played by Woody Harrelson. He’s basically Han’s mentor and as the movie started and we got to know this character, I found him to be pretty nifty. As I reflect on what I saw last night, while we got through the movie’s runtime, I feel that Beckett had interesting moments here and there but ultimately, towards the end, he almost got to the point of crashing and burning. Woody played him well, but of course he did, he’s Woody, what else do you expect?

Let’s talk about the movie’s worst character, Paul Bettany’s Dryden Voss. Dryden Voss feels like a character that just exists to move the story along. You barely even see him, and he has numerous lines here and there. But as the movie progresses, he’s made out to be a bigger threat than not just anyone else, but also a bigger than than he seems to be.

And you know what? That is the biggest problem I have with this movie, there’s no threat. There’s no stakes. There’s nothing standing in our heroes’ way. I feel like if this movie established in some way at some point, even if it required a total rewrite or pushback on the release, a main villain, the final product would be better. It doesn’t even have to threaten the galaxy like Darth Vader or Kylo Ren. Without them, this movie just feels like sequences of events that play out on a screen.

And on the topic of sequences, I don’t know if any of you saw the trailer with the train scene. I was actually rather excited because one of my favorite duels in a movie, “Spider-Man 2,” takes place on a train, and I always imagine trains as great locations for action sequences. And the train sequence in this film, much like some other moments just feel forgettable or long. There was a point where I was out of the theater, and looking back on this film, thinking that the train scene might be longer than the duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan in “Revenge of the Sith.” Although with that fight, I admired the long time it went on for, it was exciting, epic, and thrilling, it was just satisfying. The chase on the train in “Solo” just almost makes you beg for it to be over. I gotta say, it’s almost, if not quite there, to be in the conversation for the most boring or worst action scene in “Star Wars” history. Now I don’t think that’s the case. I think the Battle of Naboo might be worse, but this is certainly a contender.

But at the end of the day, the question we all should be asking is… Do we need “Solo: A Star Wars Story?” Honestly, no. I’m a “Star Wars” fan, you have no idea how much this franchise has shaped me and a lot of other people. Although, just like a number of other fan groups, whether we’re talking about the realm of movies, TV, video games, music, sports, we’re not blind (for the most part). We’re not stupid. We have the absolute ability and complete freedom to judge something related to our fandom, whether we’re referring to something good, bad, mediocre, we have the right to let out our subjective thoughts. And my SUBJECTIVE thoughts are that this is OBJECTIVELY unnecessary.

One thing that I love about “Star Wars” that they usually seem to get right is that they know how to build lore and background related to characters, locations, and crazy happenings. When it comes to “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” there’s nothing really new except mainly some locations that you probably don’t want to know more about (although that train in the beginning was pretty cool), and some characters that you at most kind of give a crap about. Most of it is just explaining what happens to Han Solo, and if you follow the franchise and know the franchise, chances are you’d know what some of these things are. When this movie was first announced, I figured that the Kessel Run would play such a huge part in the film, it would be an intense, crazy, wild moment. And you do get the Kessel Run, and while Han Solo delivers an awesome line some point in the film related to it, the run itself was a tad underwhelming. I keep mentioning this film is not all that bad, but if you judge this film entirely on what it does to previously established “Star Wars” lore, it almost feels like it diminishes the magic behind all of said lore. And I feel like this is why I’m somewhat apprehensive towards where “Star Wars” is going. It’s not a wonderland anymore, it’s a factory, and Disney is running that factory. Pretty soon we’re gonna know about every single character and now we have to accept their stories no matter how s*itty they are. For those of you who are excited to see a Boba Fett “Star Wars” film, I’m glad you’re happy, but in all seriousness, his story could suck and potentially ruin the character.

I will say though, out of all the previously established lore, none of it seems to play a big deal in the entire picture except for the Millennium Falcon and getting to know certain characters. How Han Solo got his name can be in that sort of discussion as well. But in all reality, there’s nothing in this movie that feels like a big deal. I had fun, but the movie, as fun as it was, needed more of an oomph to make me like it better.

I must bring this into the discussion, and based on some of what I said before on this very post, this may make me hypocritical. As much fun as I had, I feel like if you took out the name “Star Wars,” erased everything related to “Star Wars” that has been once established, this probably would have been one of the most boring movies of the year. And I gotta say one more thing… what was it? Oh! I remember now!

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THE TENTACLES ARE BACK BABY! DISNEY CAN’T KEEP THEIR TENTACLES OF THE TENTACLES IN THEIR “STAR WARS” MOVIES! My biggest problem with this is that Robert Downey Jr. doesn’t make a cameo appearance, like, maybe in narration, and say “Get lost, Squidward!”

In the end, part me doesn’t know how I feel entirely about “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” I enjoyed it when I saw it. And you know what? I’d probably see it again and still enjoy it. Maybe not in the theater, but when it comes out on home video, I’d grab a copy for myself and watch it. It’s definitely better than “The Last Jedi” and absolutely much better than I thought it would actually turn out. “Solo” is a fun popcorn flick, but I feel like this is going to be one of those movies, somewhat like “The Last Jedi,” where opinions might mix across the board. Out of every movie in the “Star Wars” franchise, this has the most corporate feeling of all of them, and you may not notice it or feel it while watching the film itself. Although when I got to sit down and write this review, those sorts of thoughts came into my mind. I wouldn’t say I DON’T recommend “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” but to say I do would also be stretch. You be your own judge, but I kinda liked the movie. I’m gonna give “Solo: A Star Wars Story” a 6/10. Also, just to go over how forgettable this movie’s characters are, I forgot that Thandie Newton and Jon Faverau’s characters even existed! For those of you who follow me on Stardust (I need to get back on that!), I said in my review for the teaser trailer for this movie on there that this felt like it should be called “A Star Wars Product” as opposed to “A Star Wars Story,” because a story would exist for the purpose of being remembered and told for days, weeks, years, decades, centuries, however long you consider a long time. A product would just purely exist for two reasons. 1. To entertain the masses for a period of time. And 2. (Mr. Krabs voice) MONEY!

Thanks for reading this review! And while we are on the topic of things will make Disney richer, allow me to say that I already have my tickets to go see “Incredibles 2!” I have a day that I want to publish my review if possible, and that day is Thursday, June 14th, and if possible, I’d like to get it out before most of the opening Thursday night showings occur. You might be thinking, “Hey, Jackass! How are you gonna review this freaking thing before the opening night showings? That’s when… the film opens… and you have tickets.” Yes, I do have tickets, but they’re for Wednesday. And no, the film technically doesn’t open on that night, it opens on Thursday. But exclusively at IMAX locations, you can see both “Incredibles” films back to back as part of a double feature for one night only. I already purchased tickets for that, so if you are literally trying to be an imitator of me, go buy your tickets now! Stay tuned for my early review of that along with other great content! I want to know, did you see “Solo: A Star Wars Story?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a “Star Wars” spinoff you’d like to see? It can be for an original character, or a previously established character, whatever. Force those thoughts down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller DROP OUT of HAN SOLO STAR WARS FILM?! Who’s Directing Now?

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! If you know me in real life, you may already know I’m a mega “Star Wars” fan. There’s a lot to love about it in my book, and with that love comes a bit to hate as well.

Ah! Not this little prick! Seriously dudes, f*ck this guy! F*ck him! Just f*ck this CGI piece of dogs*it! Ugh, I apologize to the majority “Star Wars” who are in agreement and absolutely hate this f*cking tool… that… you… had to see this picture. At least you aren’t seeing him talk, so that’s some good news… Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, right.

If you have been following “Star Wars” at all recently, you may have been aware that a standalone Han Solo “Star Wars” film is in the works. It’s gonna have Allen Enrenreich (Blue Jasmine, Hail, Caesar!) as Han Solo, my personal pick for the role would have been Miles Teller (Whiplash, Divergent), but we’ll see how Allen does. We also have Donald Glover (Community, The Martian) as young Lando Calrissian, Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca, along with some other big names like Woody Harrelson (Zombieland, No Country for Old Men) and Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones, Terminator Genisys). As far as directing goes, that was given to Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, but now, all of a sudden, they’re dropping out.

If you don’t know who Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are, they usually work together on several of their projects. Some of these projects include “21 Jump Street,” “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” and “The LEGO Movie,” one of my favorite animations of all time. Based on this some other aspects of their background, they’ve had a more lighthearted or comedic focus when it comes to their films. And when I heard that there was gonna be a Han Solo standalone “Star Wars” film, I was rather excited about it, although I had no clue these two were directing.

Why did these two leave you ask? Well, apparently it’s due to “creative differences.” Down below I have a quote supporting the two’s thoughts.

“Unfortunately, our vision and process weren’t aligned with our partners on this project. We normally aren’t fans of the phrase ‘creative differences’ but for once this cliché is true. We are really proud of the amazing and world-class work of our cast and crew,”

What are my personal thoughts on these guys leaving? Well, they’re mixed. These two have mostly done animations or comedies, and this kinda had me worried when I looked at their background. “Star Wars” is science-fiction, well, if you want to be more technical, science-fantasy. And while there is occasional humor injected in the films of the past, most notably “The Force Awakens” from what I recall. I have to say that the humor for that movie, worked, the comedy was delivered at the right times and a lot of it didn’t feel forced, no pun intended. However, these two have done a lot of films that interject humor in a lot of places. Some family friendly, some a bit over the edge. If these two were going to do a “Star Wars” film with humor in there, I’d say it’s fine, but you also have to be serious, just think of how the MCU films work. A lot of those films nowadays interject humor and still manage to have a vibe of seriousness at hand. The only exception I can think of when it comes to this is “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and the fast paced humor in that film, personally worked, it helped set a tone. But this is “Star Wars,” not “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Maybe my mind would switch around on this topic, but this is where I stand for now.

Although I will say that if these two continued on with this film, it wouldn’t be the first time they did something “Star Wars” related. “The LEGO Movie” actually had a cameo featuring Han Solo, Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, and C-3PO, which had Billy Dee Williams and Anthony Daniels reprising their roles.

Earlier I mentioned I was somewhat worried about Miller’s and Lord’s departure, why is that you ask? Simple. The release date. This Han Solo film is supposed to come out next year, May 25th to be exact. While that may seem like a while, there’s another “Star Wars” film that is coming out soon, that being “The Last Jedi.” That is due in December and according to IMDb, they finished filming last July. If you ask me, I think another director should be hired or these two should come back. If they don’t come back, here are some suggestions of people who I personally should direct the Han Solo film along with what they’ve directed in the past.

George Miller (Mad Max, Happy Feet)
Sam Raimi (Spider-Man trilogy, Oz the Great and Powerful)
Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman, Monster)
Chris Columbus (Harry Potter 1 & 2, Home Alone)
The Wachowski Siblings (Sense8, The Matrix)
Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow, The Bourne Identity)

These are just directors who already know what it’s like to direct a film, and honestly, if we are talking about a film such as “Star Wars,” an experienced director is most likely to be a director I prefer. If none of these people are acceptable, I’d say find someone who is good at directing, they have never done a big feature before, but they know the material of “Star Wars” by heart. This could allow opportunities to prevent a bloat of continuity errors, and maybe add in a little fan service. Although remember 2016’s “Rogue One?” That was done by a director who barely did anything big. He did 2014’s “Godzilla”, (mumbled talking from a mysterious person) err, hang on a second.

(mumbled talking from a mysterious person)

Oh yeah, right. He did 2014’s “Aaron Taylor-Johnson” which has Godzilla in it. Thank you, person I don’t even know. Other than that, there’s not too much else. I ended up loving the hell out of “Rogue One” when I saw it and I bought the steelbook Blu-Ray the day it came out. Even with that, when it comes to “Star Wars,” I want someone that has experience not just crafting films, but crafting likable films.

I may have listed the Wachowskis and sure, they have had a lot of misses with movies like “Jupiter Ascending” and such, but they’ve had a huge hit with “The Matrix” back in 1999. They also wrote and produced “V for Vendetta” back in 2006 which says something about them.

OK guys, I need to tell you something. Apparently, the Han Solo movie actually found its new director and the news came out about it as I was writing this. I didn’t expect this, I was expecting this director search to go on for some time, so I’d have some time to analyze my thoughts, but as I was doing so, the search ended. So I can officially say the director of the Han Solo “Star Wars” film is Ron Howard. Personally, I think this is a fine choice. He made a lot of movies that were loved by both critics and audiences, he has a ton of experience in the film industry, and if you ask me, he knows how to make a good film. Just watch “Apollo 13,” it’s a good time.

This is an interesting twist to say the least. I heard a lot of people wanted Ron Howard to take over based on my experience of getting through yesterday and I guess they got their wish. I can’t wait to see how he does, if he drops out, hopefully someone from my choices could take over. Thanks so much for reading this, tomorrow I’m gonna go see “Transformers: The Last Knight,” which isn’t looking too good right now… Yeah, the movie currently has a 16% on Rotten Tomatoes, which means as of now it is the worst entry in the Michael Bay’s “Transformers” series. Just… Wish me luck, OK? Stay tuned for that review, hopefully the movie’s actually good. Also, July is almost here, which means it is almost time for another “Spider-Man” review. I’ll be reviewing Marc Webb’s “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” which many consider to be Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 3” for a new generation. And if you hear their thoughts on both films, they don’t mean that in a positive way. Stay tuned for that review, and stay tuned for more great content! Scene Before is your click, to the flicks!