Star Wars Episode IV 4K Blu-ray Contains 2019 Disney+ “Maclunkey” Cut (And Other Thoughts on Star Wars in 4K)

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! As we are cooped up in our homes, I’ve been making more of a habit of buying my Blu-rays online given how we cannot go out into stores and buy them in as easy as a manner as we once could. Yes, Walmart and Target still have them, but those places are becoming more petri dish-like by the second. Best Buy is offering curbside pickup, but that takes the fun out of going into a massive electronics store. However, when surfing on BestBuy.com recently, I picked up some of the new “Star Wars” 4K Blu-rays. Is it a movie I already own? Yes. In fact I own multiple copies of several installments. But who cares? “Star Wars” rocks!

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Just last night, I watched my recently purchased 4K copy of “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope,” or as the old-timers call it, “Star Wars.” But if you are reading this and want to know my thoughts on it, I think the transfer overall is pretty satisfying. The color grading is off and on, but there are several scenes that look very stunning in 4K. The film also comes with Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision. The sound quality is immersive, but also did not seem to come off as too obnoxious.

Although, if you are wondering if Disney has decided to release the same cut that has been put out in recent years, specifically one introduced through a Blu-ray set from 2011, back when 20th Century Fox still owned “Star Wars,” that’s not what has happened.

Yes, a lot of that 2011 Blu-ray is still intact. Some of the changes they have made specifically for that film is in this new 2020 4K edition as well. Between R2-D2 being improbably hidden by so many rocks on Tatooine to Obi-Wan’s introduction sounding more fantastical than the idea of White Castle serving monster-sized hamburgers, those changes, along with others over the years, have survived. But wait, there’s more!

May the maclunkey be with you!

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about. When Disney+ came out less than a year ago, one of the draw-ins for a lot of people was the large “Star Wars” collection, which included the all new series, “The Mandalorian,” and the most up to date versions of a good amount of the older movies. In Episode IV, people began to notice that there was a new change added, and it is as meme-worthy as Elon Musk.

Remember how George Lucas went back and changed the scene in the cantina where Han shoots Greedo, leaving him dead with his head on the table? Well, he did that in 1997, then again in 2004, once more in 2011, and even one more time just last year! The infamous change signifying that Han does not shoot first anymore was just the beginning, because recently they added Greedo’s new line, “Maclunkey,” which has been suggested to be Huttese for “I’ll end you.”

Having seen the new change myself on the 4K Blu-ray, I’m in three different mindsets. First and foremost… WHY? Greedo’s mouth almost moves like a Jumanji-esque vacuum, and the delivery of the line almost feels kind of cheesy. Second, this change, as awful as it is, is simultaneously hilarious. Granted, it would be weirder to have Greedo say something in English given how every other line he has given so far was not in English, but saying maclunkey is kind of like uttering cattywampus, or lollygag, or boobies. It just rolls off the tongue, it’s funny-sounding! And third, this is just yet another reason why I want an unaltered edition of these movies in a modernized format. I don’t know if Disney will have permission from George Lucas or if they just don’t care as long as they get their money, but if I were to show “Star Wars” to my kid one day, I don’t think I’d want him or her to remember the original movie due to the “maclunkey” scene as opposed to the moment where Han shoots Greedo like a boss. As for when the blaster firing occurs, the two fire each other around the same time, kind of like in the 2011 Blu-ray edition.

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There are other changes too, most notably the color palette. From my point of view, when watching “A New Hope,” some of the scenes look kind of pale, but there are some scenes where color stands out and there are not as many occurrences where someone looks like they got sunburned. I will also point out that I saw “The Empire Strikes Back” last night as well. The colors in that movie also look a little darker, but in that movie, I think it works because “The Empire Strikes Back” is a slightly more depressing movie whereas “A New Hope” is a fun, throwback adventure. A lot of the other changes are not that noticeable to the average viewer. There are scenes where colors are corrected to a certain form. Specifically, during the scene where Luke is training on the Millennium Falcon, his lightsaber has been corrected to match an appropriate blue color. The laser bolts fired by the training remote in said scene also had their colors restored to red.

One of my favorite alterations however is one that I don’t know exactly how many people think about. For those of you don’t know, “Star Wars” has a “Digital Movie Collection” that came out in 2015, which features the Lucasfilm logo in the beginning, but the movies have gotten rid of the 20th Century Fox logo. The only film that didn’t do that was “A New Hope” because 20th Century Fox owns permanent distribution rights. As of now, the 20th Century Fox logo is attached to all the older “Star Wars” movies again, which may likely be due to the merger between Disney and Fox from 2019. They use the 1994 20th Century Fox fanfare minus the tagline, “A News Corporation Company.” However, they did update the Lucasfilm logo to match those from “The Force Awakens” and so on. Speaking of restorations, the opening phrase “A long time ago in a galaxy far far away” was restored to the original typeface featured in the older cuts. This is a change from the typeface used in the 2004 DVDs to match the prequels.

If you purchased any of the 4K editions of the “Star Wars” movies, perhaps including ones I didn’t, please let me know your thoughts on them! I already own “The Last Jedi” on 4K, which I will admit the sound could probably be better. By the way, I have the Best Buy Steelbook Collector’s Edition as well. I also own the “Solo: A Star Wars Story” Collector’s steelbook, which is still in the wrap, which may signify that I probably never want to watch the film again. But, the collector’s gotta collect. I also own the 4K Best Buy Steelbook for “The Rise of Skywalker,” which has adequate sound quality and stunning picture quality. I saw the boxset of The Skywalker Saga, but I didn’t get that because it contains movies I already own on 4K, so as cool as it would be to own, I didn’t think it was all that necessary.

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Thanks for reading this post! TOMORROW, ten years return, because we need those ten years now more than ever! It is the return of the original countdown series “Top Movies of the 2010s!” I’m going to be debuting an all new category, THE DISAPPOINTING 25, where I talk about 25 movies that I went into with expectations only to be underwhelmed or let down. If you want to check out the trailer for the countdown, go to the end of this post and see it for yourself! Want to see more great content? Follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the blog’s Facebook page as opposed to getting into fights in the comments section from the latest political post from your local news outlet! If you are going to watch “Star Wars” on 4K anytime soon, may the 4K be with you! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Gentlemen (2019): A Confused, Hungry Lion of a Ride

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“The Gentlemen” is directed by Guy Ritchie (Snatch, Aladdin) and stars Matthew McConaughey (Interstellar, Sing), Charlie Hunham (Nicholas Nickleby, Queer As Folk), Henry Golding (Last Christmas, Crazy Rich Asians), Michelle Dockery (Good Behavior, Downton Abbey), Jeremy Strong (The Big Short, Succession), Eddie Marsan (Ray Donovan, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell), Colin Farrell (S.W.A.T., The Lobster), and Hugh Grant (Four Weddings and a Funeral, A Very English Scandal). This film is about an American expat who is trying to make money through selling off his marijuana business in London. This leads to eventual chaos… And by chaos, I mean what my brain went through while watching this movie.

It’s been a week since I saw “The Gentlemen” just to get things up to speed. My noggin is still spiraling in all sorts of directions.

Honestly, I am sort of glad I have waited as long as I did to talk about this movie. I saw this on the Wednesday before it came out to a pretty active crowd, there were laughs and applause throughout, therefore this seemed like a fine experience. As for other reviewers, they seem to be digging this movie. I on the other hand cannot say I share the same opinion as everyone else. Let me just start with the positives, because believe it or not, this movie has some.

This film is finely directed and it feels as if Guy Ritchie is delivering his own style and implementing it into the final product. The characters feel like they could only come out of a movie of this kind, maybe a few others. The casting from Matthew McConaughey to Colin Farrell, to Michelle Dockery is all very well done. It also shows how brilliantly each character is performed based on each actor’s ability. In a way, it almost had a similar vibe to “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” while not exactly being the same film overall in terms of plot and style. And if you know me, you know I think “Kingsman: The Secret Service” is one of the better spy films of the past decade. Part of the movie revolves around two characters who are basically reading a movie script and analyzing what the movie calls a true story in an attempt to turn that into a feature film. One of the better parts of it is when they throw out archaic terms like 35mm, anamorphic widescreen, almost in that tone where someone thinks of what cinema is “supposed to be” like in the “good old days.”

A number of the action scenes are enjoyable. Again, going back to the characters, there is a scene, and if you watch the trailer, chances are you got a taste of it, where Matthew McConaughey almost looks like a madman as he has a gun in his hand. There are a couple other fun scenes too, don’t get me wrong.

Other than that, this movie has no real reason for me to go back and watch it again… Except for one thing, which I will get to later.

If you go back up the opening paragraph, chances are you noticed me trying to describe the movie and I ultimately present it as if some blanks need to be filled. I’ll be honest, that’s because pacing-wise, this movie is almost too fast. I said this film reminds me a tad of “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” One of the great things about that movie in my opinion is how it almost never stops, it kept me glued because of the bonkers action and ridiculousness of all to be seen. While that may have been a positive in “Kingsman,” such a notion honestly deters “The Gentlemen.” There could be an argument to make that this is one of those movies that could end up getting better through multiple watches, that way I can digest everything, but in order to do that, there has to be some sort of desire that a viewer like me must achieve to watch a movie again in the first place. After watching “The Gentlemen,” there are elements that I liked, but as a film, I have managed to find a lot of it forgettable and even though I am not great with names in real life, I walked out of this film wondering what everybody’s name was.

Just for the record, I have been previously been diagnosed with ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactive disorder, which is just a fancy way of saying that my mind likes to go in several places at once. This feels like a movie that maybe I would make if I were to shove in a bunch of ideas, locations, characters, but I just want them in there just for the sake of being there. In real life, my ADHD sort of represents a less than pleasant span of attention at times, and from one moment to the next, the movie just feels like it cannot stick to a proper idea for a suitable length of time. One moment it’s here, one moment it’s there, the next moment it feels like it is about to go everywhere! That’s the best way I can describe this disappointing mediocrity.

This film is directed by Guy Ritchie who also helmed “Snatch” in the past, which I have enjoyed due to its individualistic style and overall fast pace. I barely remember the film partially due to how I have only seen it once, but I remember enjoying it. But he also did “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,” which was a waste of precious time. As a director, there is no doubting that Ritchie likes to do films kind of in his own way, sort of like Quentin Tarantino or Wes Anderson. I do respect the feeling of creative freedom that is represented from “The Gentlemen,” I just wish the movie was better as a result of said creative freedom. Too many movies seem to be tied down to a formula or locked into the requirements of a studio, “The Gentlemen” sort of reminds me of the kinds of movies I would prefer to see today. At the same time however, this movie almost feels like something Zack Snyder would direct. Now that is a bit of a stretch, but if you have seen films like “300” and “Sucker Punch,” which if I were to review right now, would receive positive grades, they feel like they ultimately do a better job at representing style over substance.

I also kind of see why a film like this sort of ended up in January, while I could probably market this film with ease and maybe represent it as summertime fun with all sorts of action, that’s not entirely what is shown in the final product. This is a film that I would imagine behind the scenes some were feeling would be not too difficult to describe, but not the easiest film to describe either. This makes it harder to form a concrete marketing campaign. January is usually seen as dumping ground for film, so it would not be surprising that the studio thought a film like “The Gentlemen” could end up in such a release month.

Also, over the past number of days, I’ve been starting to crush on Michelle Dockery because of this movie. Just saying. Not that it affects my score all that much.

In the end, “The Gentlemen” is a movie with a number of positives in it. The action is slick and fun, the writing style is something probably only Guy Ritchie himself would come up with, the casting is perfect! But this film needs to calm down. If anything, I should remind you all of another film that came out recently, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” I want to bring this up because one of the complaints I have heard about “The Rise of Skywalker” is that the movie feels like it is too quick. Having seen “The Rise of Skywalker” myself I have no idea what these people were thinking, I think the fast pace of the film made it fun, compared to its predecessor, “The Last Jedi.” But if you don’t like the bonkers pace of “The Rise of Skywalker,” try watching “The Gentlemen” and tell me you have a basic understanding of EVERYTHING that is going on. I don’t know, maybe I am getting ahead of myself. Going back to the one reason why I might watch this movie again, there is a good chance that I could watch “The Gentlemen” a second time and like it more because the film goes so fast, maybe I will catch something new. But having seen it once, I am going to have to continuously wonder if it warrants a second viewing. Until then, I have to be brutally honest, because I’m going to give “The Gentlemen” a 5/10.

Thanks for reading this review! This SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 2ND, that’s Super Bowl Sunday, is the beginning of the Super Bowl for movies, the Jackoff Awards! For the record, the actual ceremony will not be up until SUNDAY FEBRUARY 16TH, a little more than two weeks from now. I am not going to provide too many hints for the nominations, but for those of you who have witnessed last year’s events related to the ceremony, you’d probably be aware of how I handled Best Picture. This year, once again, once I announce the nominees for Best Picture, I am going to provide a poll of the ten movies and have you pick the one that YOU think should win. Why? Because I already chose mine earlier this month in my best movies of the year list! Now, it’s your turn! Be sure to look out for my upcoming nominations announcement this Sunday! If you want to see this post and more from Scene Before and Flicknerd.com, give the site a follow via an email or WordPress account. Speaking of following, give me a like on my Facebook page, located on the Zuckerberg Land itself! I want to know, did you see “The Gentlemen?” What did you think about it? Am I getting ahead of myself? Or, what is a movie that you think is too fast-paced? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Top Movies of the 2010s (THE BEST 25)

Top Movies of the 2010s OFFICIAL POSTER

*WARNING: This post is over 11,000 words long…*

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! This is it! We have arrived! Second upon second, minute upon minute, hour upon hour, week upon week, month upon month, year upon year, has led to this very moment. It is time to dive into the best and the worst movies of the 2010s! For this initial installment of the multi-part series, I will be diving into the best movies of the decade. If you have followed this blog for some time, there is a good chance that you know that I usually like to cap off my years by reflecting on the best and worst in film through short countdowns. This however, is going to be bigger. I’ll not only explain movies, what they’re about, why I did or did not like them, but I will also show clips of the movies as well, so you can get a taste of the cinematic flavor. Plus, instead of top 10, this countdown is going to be a top 25, more films, more fun! I am going to continue being as descriptive about these movies as I can without providing any spoilers about them. And per usual, rules apply. This is a completely subjective and personal countdown. All of these entries are strictly my opinion, and in no way factual. I am not being paid money to put a film in a certain place, I am not sponsoring any of these films, I have not even worked on a single one, I am just a viewer. Also, the 2010s is a span of ten years and thousands of movies, for all I know the final outcome could be much more because it is getting easier to make a film nowadays. People do it on iPhones for crying out loud! With that being said, I have not seen every single film this decade. I still haven’t gotten around to films like “Despicable Me” (2010), “The Artist” (2011), “Silver Linings Playbook” (2012), “This is the End” (2013), “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” (2014), “Bridge of Spies” (2015), “The Nice Guys” (2016), “Logan” (2017) “If Beale Street Could Talk” (2018), and “The Two Popes” (2019). Films like those will not be on the list. I will also point out, if the film does not have a theatrical release of any kind, it will not be allowed on here. That means all movies that have gone straight to DVD, TV, or streaming are not qualified and will be off the list unless the public was able to see it in a theater during its prime release schedule. So with that being said, let’s dive into a countdown to ultimately define the past ten years. This is the big one, let’s do this! These are my top 25 BEST movies of the 2010s!

#25: Honey Boy (2019)

Out of all the movies that I am putting on this list, this one is one of the most recent to have come out. Specifically, “Honey Boy.” This movie is written by, of all people, Shia LeBeouf (Transformers, The Peanut Butter Falcon). And I have to say, as an observer, I think LeBeouf might be a better writer than he is an actor! LeBeouf wrote this movie while he was in rehab and I think the turnout result on screen is nothing short of fantastic. This is the first feature-length script written for the screen by LeBeouf himself, and if he is ever up to the task, I would love to see more from him. Speaking of debuts, this film is also the feature-length debut of director Alma Har’el, who I think personally created one of the best directorial debuts of all-time. This is a film that hit me when I saw it in the theater. I was never able to fully relate to the situations at hand. But that’s because I never grew up with an abusive parent, I have very loving parents, but I cannot deny that I felt something for the movie’s lead kid character, Otis, who is played marvelously by Noah Jupe. Speaking of which, we also manage to see some rather unfortunate effects that have been eventually attached to this character as he ages into a 22-year-old. The only problem I have with this movie are a couple nitpicky comments I have with shot choices. Other than that, it’s perfection.

#24: Birdman (2014)

You ever watch a certain movie and ask yourself, “HOW THE F*CK DID THEY MAKE THAT?!” Admittedly, I knew one or two things going into “Birdman,” but having seen that movie, I have to reiterate that question to myself from time to time. Seriously! This is  a film that quite literally, never stops. It is one of the most innovative films of our time, specifically because the shots never cut. I just saw “1917” before concluding this list, which is a great movie. And that too has a non-stop, one shot take represented for an extended period of time. But this movie was a game-changer for me. This movie also could have sucked as a story, and still work for me in regards to how it represents itself visually. But guess what, it doesn’t suck as a story! The movie revolves around an actor who is well known for his role as a superhero in a film franchise. He’s sort of becoming increasingly irrelevant, and he is trying to revitalize his career on Broadway. The film gets surprisingly intense and delivers some of the best acting of the decade. This movie may represent Emma Stone’s best performance to date, which says a lot because I like her as an actress even in movies that I didn’t enjoy overall. Even though I didn’t entirely dig films like “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” she was a highlight. If Stone keeps kicking ass in Hollywood and taking names for years to come, maybe she’ll be the next Meryl Streep. That’s another thing, what really makes this film all the more intense as a production is the fact that the camera is literally never stopping. There’s a shot that goes on for fifteen minutes, suggesting that there is a clear sense of needing to remember literally everything you have to do. Somehow, everyone pulled this ambitious project off! To me, it’s one of the greatest cinematic achievements of all time. Good story, good cast, good cinematography, GREAT film.

#23: Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)

One of my favorite DreamWorks franchises is “Kung Fu Panda,” so it should not be surprising that one of the films from the franchise end up on here. Well… except the first one, that came out in 2008, therefore it doesn’t count. Instead, why not put the second one on the list? “Kung Fu Panda 2” is too awesome for words. If you ask me, this is an animated sequel that is visually stunning, fun, and continues directly where the original left off and gives itself a reason to exist. It also, to my surprise, does a really good job with world-building and providing some decent backstory material as well. Much like many other sequels that come to mind, this references the original in clever ways, the most notable instance that comes to mind is the “stairs” scene, which continues to get a kick out of me conceptually. I will also say that much like the original “Kung Fu Panda” movie, the climax of this film is one of the best in animation history. It is compelling, it is attention-grabbing, it is flashy, it is epic, it’s everything I want out of a movie like this. The animation itself is pristine, clean, and overall very marvelous to glance upon. It’s easily one of DreamWorks’ best-looking films! If “Kung Fu Panda 2” ever comes out on 4K, I would not mind going to the store and picking it up! The original “Kung Fu Panda” will always have a place in my heart, both as a childhood film, and as one of my favorite films in general. But this sequel, along with the third installment in the trilogy, both bring smiles to my face. Spoiler by the way, the third installment, as much I adore it, is not on this list!

#22: Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

Coming in at #22 is an entry that I feel is going to strike some controversy, but what is the Internet without a little disagreement? So, hear me out. Here’s the thing about “The Wizard of Oz,” many people seem to know it to be one of the most beloved, iconic films of all time, and I can see why. Having seen the film myself, I think it is definitely worthy of utter appreciation even eighty years after its release. However, if you ask me, one of the best films of my time, personally, comes from the same universe, “Oz the Great and Powerful.” This is one of those films that I am surprised I do not talk about more often. While the visuals at times may not look realistic and maybe like something out of a TV movie, that honestly adds to the charm of this film a little bit. I think James Franco does a pretty decent job with the lead Role. Mila Kunis adds her slice of charisma and comes off like she’s having fun with the movie. When I saw the marketing for this film originally, I was expecting something epic, fun, and flashy, and I got all three of those things. Did I mention Sam Raimi directed this film? I think he did a pretty swell job at not only giving us a solid story, but the way they utilized 3D in this film was honestly done to levels that I did not expect. Is it gimmicky? I guess you can definitely make an argument for it being gimmicky, but that sort of adds to the fantastical charm of it all. I also have to give a shoutout to Danny Elfman for creating the fantastic score. As soon as I was introduced to the film and I was going through the opening titles, I knew that this movie was going to be rad. There are times where, dare I say it… *whispering* think this could be more entertaining than “The Wizard of Oz…” Does that mean it’s technically better? Probably not, but still.

#21: Roma (2018):

I think this film is pretty unique in terms of where it stands. After all, it is the only black and white movie on this list. I give you all the movie that made me start taking Netflix just a tad more seriously as brand, “Roma!” This is one of those films that I went in blind for, and as I watched whatever was happening, it made for one of the best theater experiences of the past few years. Plus, getting to see this movie in 70mm was a treat. This film is directed by Alfonso Cuarón, who also made another enjoyable flick from this decade, “Gravity.” Now I liked “Gravity” when I saw it, and as a theater experience, it was better than “Roma,” which says something because “Roma” is great on its own. But having said that, “Roma” is ultimately the superior film. It’s a story revolving around a maid to a family in Mexico who becomes pregnant. Essentially, this is one of those “slice of life” films that is not always happy go lucky. There was a moment during the film, probably through shot composition, direction, and acting, where I almost let a tear go. The beach scene in this film is one of the most emotionally powerful moments I had the privilege of witnessing in a cinema. When it comes to this list, there is almost no other film that I can think of, except a few, that can rival this one in terms of cinematography. If you want to watch it right now it is free on Netflix, but it is also getting a physical release as part of the Criterion Collection which REALLY makes me happy. I will say though, I am not sure how audiences, specifically Americans, will continue to respond to it overtime. It is black and white and has subtitles. I don’t care about subtitles personally, but it is, as “Parasite” director Bong Joon Ho suggests, a one-inch tall barrier that some viewers have yet to overcome. 

#20: The Disaster Artist (2017)

I did not make this list, it’s not true, it’s bulls*it! I did not make this list! I did nawt! Oh, hi viewers! This film is one of the best comedies I have seen, which is tremendous praise on my part because if you are making a comedy specifically for me, it is HARD to make a good one. What comedy am I talking about? That first pile of sentences should be a hint. “The Disaster Artist!” This is a film that is about a lot of things. Friendship, sticking up for one another when one is trying their hardest to make something special, and how MIND-NUMBINGLY DIFFICULT it is to make a good movie. This movie is basically a telling of how Tommy Wiseau and others went about making the early 2000s cult classic “The Room.” For those of you who haven’t seen “The Room,” this film basically tells you the behind the scenes mayhem and chaos that went into that movie. It’s one of those movies, kind of similar to films like “Batman & Robin” or last year’s “The Fanatic” starring John Travolta that is so incredibly hysterical that it would probably leave some viewers wondering how it even was conceived, made, and released! This film dives deep into all of that. James Franco also gives one of the best performances I have seen from him. Yes, he was definitely great in films like “127 Hours.” To me, that’s nothing compared to “The Disaster Artist,” and I can tell that it was rather simple for Franco to put a lot of passion into this performance considering how he not only starred in the film, but he also directed it. At the end of 2017, I told pals of mine that I was looking forward to watching this more than “The Last Jedi.” I cannot say I was disappointed walking out of it. In fact, the tail end of the film has that feel good vibe that I did not even think I would have needed. Do you have to watch “The Room” to understand “The Disaster Artist?” Not really, no. You can go watch this film, and once it ends, I think you may be able to fully understand everything. Does it help? Sure it does, because it goes into some of Tommy’s mannerisms, quirks, and even pays homage to certain choices and dialogue that had ultimately been put in “The Room” itself. Also, shoutout to Tommy Wiseau. I love you, man. You’re kinda crazy, but I love ya!

#19: Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

Some people say that Pixar may be the biggest force today that will allow the animation industry to thrive. I would not say they’re wrong, but if you ask me, I think the animation industry also has a place for another particular company, Laika, the creators of “Coraline.” Speaking of Laika, they also created my favorite animated film of 2016, “Kubo and the Two Strings.” When I went through 2016 as a year in film, there were plenty of good ones like “Captain America: Civil War,” “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” and “Patriots Day.” However, if there happened to be one genre that dominated the year for me, it has to be animation. With the exception of maybe “Moana” and DEFINITELY “Ice Age: Collision Course,” I don’t think there is a single animated film from 2016 I did not enjoy. For the record, I missed out on “Norm of the North,” so I have no comments regarding that. “Finding Dory, “Zootopia,” “Sing,” “Kung Fu Panda 3,” and even the raunchy adult animation “Sausage Party” all were worthy of a thumbs up. However, “Kubo” came out on top. It is a film that is visually creative and stunning, colorful, and an amazing tribute to everyone who’s got a story to tell. The film’s cast also has some notable names including Charlize Theron (Hancock, A Million Ways to Die in the West), Matthew McConaughey (Mud, Dallas Buyers Club), and even George Takei (Star Trek, Kim Possible). The film has various scenes that make me personally wish that I was the one responsible behind the screenplay or the overall production due to the brilliant ideas being presented. “Kubo and the Two Strings” is one of those films that is worth just about every second of my time. Out of all the films to come out in its particular year, it’s probably the one that most resembles a video game. I guess if you change some character names, maybe one or two pieces of the plot, and have a side gag dedicated to breaking pottery, this would make for one fine “Legend of Zelda” movie.

#18: Inside Out (2015)

I have only seen this movie once, but even so, it is still one of the most charming animated films out there today. I’m talking about “Inside Out!” The concept behind it is one that I personally wish I originated. Essentially, it dives into the “voices inside your head.” These voices include Joy, Anger, Disgust, Fear, and Sadness. One of the biggest surprises that I have with “Inside Out” is its expansive world. And I say it’s surprising because of where exactly the world takes place, specifically inside the head of a young girl going through puberty. Even though this movie is made for families and children, it deals with some heavy topics. Moving, adapting to a new lifestyle, growing up, and handling yourself emotionally regardless of the situation. This movie does a really good job at displaying the human condition by reminding you that there are times when your feelings take over and you lose a sense of control in a way. I liked all the characters in this film, some of the human characters are admittedly a little generic, but the movie is not about them, they are ultimately pawns in this story, it’s really about the main human character, Riley, and the voices in her head. Speaking of said voices, I also want to give massive props to Lewis Black for his terrific voiceover performance as Anger, and part of it has to do with the golden script that allows these emotions to shine. But out of all of them, Anger is by far the best of the bunch because of how raw he feels. Whenever he gets mad, he literally erupts like a volcano. It’s f*cking great. Much like some other Pixar films such as “Coco” or “Up,” this film is powerful in its impact. That’s probably the best part of it because you have these five core emotions and all of them make you feel emotions. This movie does its job well, and even though I have not watched it since my initial viewing in 2016 when it came to Starz, I cannot wait to watch it again.

#17: Room (2015)

HOOO-LY CRRRAAAAP. THIS MOVIE. I cannot even begin to describe what is like to watch this for the first time. For those of you who don’t know what I am referring to, just watch “Room.” Not, “THE ROOM,” “ROOM.” “Room” is a film that is based on a book that I have personally never read, but even so, the movie delivers. Between the remarkable performances between Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, the film packs a brutal punch in every possible method imaginable. It is emotional, it is heart-pumping, it is disturbing in the best way I can possibly describe the word. I read a review on IMDb for “Room” before watching it and somebody said that this movie made them a better person. Having seen “Room” myself, I can see why. This film is almost on the edge to where it drags in the middle of it, but it does not mean the movie has that many flaws whatsoever. This is not a horror movie, perhaps in any sense of the word. But after watching this film, there is an argument to make that “Room” could be scarier than a vast number of horror flicks out there. “Room” is a film that kind of ends up being cute, but to have it end up being cute, it cannot be cuddly. This is especially true when you take the brilliant screenplay and the way that actor Jacob Tremblay, who get this, WAS NOT EVEN TEN YEARS OLD during the production or release of the film, executes all of his beautiful lines. The story is told from his perspective, and that made the movie just slightly better, because the idea was to have a child who knew nothing about the outside world, and getting that perspective made me feel for the mother and son duo. Just watch this movie, you will not regret it. If I need to say anything else about it, A24 helped get this film out there. They are easily one of the best studios working today, so if you want to support independent, not to mention compelling filmmaking, go buy this movie.

#16: Toy Story 3 (2010)

This entry is one of the best Pixar films I have ever seen. Let’s just be clear, it is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT for something to top “The Incredibles” as far as my opinions are concerned. I’m talking about “Toy Story 3.” This is a film that I think hit every single level that not only an animated film need to hit, but also every level a trilogy capper needed to hit. Yes, “Toy Story 4” exists, but to me, that’s just additional DLC at this point. “Toy Story” was never one of my big franchises growing up, even though I do admire its technological achievements for the film industry as a whole. The reason why “Toy Story 3” is such a great movie overall is because despite how it does feel like something kids can enjoy, it can ultimately connect with anyone, no matter what age they just so happen to be. The whole trilogy seems to present a tiny little structure of Andy, the owner of a majority of the toys seen in the franchise, growing up, and now we have come to this third installment where he is now an adult and he’s off to college. If you know me in person, I tend to be extremely sentimental. I still have various items from when I was a kid that I imagine other people would get rid of if they had them at a particular age. I still have a stuffed duck, a ton of DVDs I possessed at a young age, all the game consoles that I have ever owned (that still at least partially work). I didn’t even get rid of my childhood twin bed until it broke at the age of nineteen! This movie basically reminded me to cherish the memories of childhood, and while not everything lasts forever, you can still cherish the legacy of something or pass it down to future generations. Also, the ending of this film may be the best Pixar has ever done. It has numerous emotions attached to it that make it all work. It is perhaps one of the saddest, yet happiest endings I have seen in a film. This is why I didn’t want a “Toy Story 4.” Granted, I will admit, I was utterly surprised with how good “Toy Story 4” was when I saw it, but compared to the original trilogy, it is just a bonus.

#15: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019)

You know that movie that might as well match up with where you are in life? One of those films that reminds you of an event you are currently tackling? Well at the beginning of 2019, I was in my second semester of college and to my surprise, “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” spoke to me on every level that it could. This third installment to the “How to Train Your Dragon” franchise is the perfect ending to its particular trilogy. It dives deep into the character of Toothless, goes through a major change in how the character thinks, not to mention feels. With the recent introduction of a “Light Fury,” Toothless finds love. This side of the story, along with various other elements reminded me of the man that I am trying to become. I still live with my mother, mainly because despite being in college, I do not want to lose the family connection I have right now. I still go to my grandparents every week. I still talk to my parents just about every chance I get. Even though I do plan to eventually develop my own path in life, move out, etc, I do not want to lose the connection of family quite just yet. But with that being said, this reminded me of how some parents want to protect their children, which means that the children perhaps have a helicopter over them at times. This movie highlights the connection between Hiccup and Toothless, and builds off the terrific chemistry the two had before. I will also say, of the numerous DreamWorks animated films that I’ve watched over the years, this is one of the more stunning ones. And it definitely shows when we get to The Hidden World. It’s flashy, colorful, vast, and if I imagined myself there in person, I’d be overwhelmed by the scope of everything around me. The only problem that comes to mind with this film might as well be the cliché villain, but even with that, everything else is A+ material. To this day, it is the only film I watched in the theater that made me cry. It is one hell of an experience overall.

#14: Inception (2010)

Christopher Nolan is my favorite director of all time. He can take a comic book concept like “Batman” and deliver on it 110%. He can put you directly in a war zone like he did in “Dunkirk.” He can also take you back in time for an epic thrill in “Memento.” But one movie that is better than all of those is one of my personal favorite flicks of 2010. “Inception.” This movie has everything a sci-fi action flick is supposed to have! Great characters! A brilliant concept! Cool looking visual effects! A lovable story! AMAZING screenwriting! Epic music, kudos to Hans Zimmer by the way! Everything in this movie builds up to what I consider to be one of my favorite climaxes in film history. I’m not talking about the very end, but the final act itself is a true display of why I continue to watch movies to this day. It delivers on spectacle, stakes, and you care about the characters! At least I did. The relationship between Leo DiCaprio and Marion Cottillard? HOLY F*CK! Not only did I buy them the way they were together, the movie does everything it can to make you get emotional about them. Speaking of DiCaprio, his chemistry with Ellen Page was great, I thought they were terrific partners, and I almost cannot imagine anybody else in that duo. And again, the concept! The idea of someone going from dream to dream and trying to plant an idea in someone’s head?! Freaking rad! This movie is literally what dreams are made of.

#13: Ready Player One (2018)

Continuing down this list, we have, “Ready Player One.” I’m putting this on the list in reference to the great year that I personally believe 2018 has been for the film industry as a whole. There are more 2018 films on here, and this is just one of them. Before the movie came out, I read the book, and I’ll be honest, I love the book to death. It’s pretty much everything I would want out of a book of its kind. The author’s kind of a cool guy too, Google Ernest Cline, he’s awesome. But here’s the thing about books and movies, I don’t always WANT the book to be exactly the same as the movie. If they make the movie and book identical, great! Maybe it works out, but there are a few things in the book like the “Pac-Man” scene that I do think could have ended up being pretty cool to see, but it would make the film itself lose some of that theatricality factor. It’s one of those films that I love because of how much of a true adventure it is. It feels like that from start to finish, when we are introduced to the OASIS virtual reality system, I instantly wanted to be a part of that world. Even though the real world ended up kind of being in deep s*it in the film’s vision of 2045, I still wanted this VR system in front of me because of all the unlimited capabilities that come with it. Plus, despite how this movie is filled with all of these pop culture associations like a digitized version of “The Shining,” “Batman,” a “Minecraft” world, and even a ton of time spent with the DeLorean, I still cared about the main characters in front of me. As for the visual effects, they are quirky, they are different, they look like something out of a 3D anime, but that’s something that makes them work. After all, a good portion of this movie takes place in a virtual universe with Avatars, so it is kind of cool to see all the customized beings walking around with all their digitized swagger. And of course, I cannot end this without mentioning two things. One, the amazing score by Alan Silvestri. It’s epic in every way. It’s grand, it’s big, and it fits this nostalgic fantasy realm to the tenth degree! Also, the final chase between the main heroes and villain is one of the most creative scenes I have witnessed on film. Between all of this and being one of my most rewatched movies of 2018, I just had to put this somewhere on the list. 

#12: Ready or Not (2019)

I think I said what needs to be said about “Ready or Not” in my best movies of 2019 list, but let’s be real, I can’t stop talking about it! “Ready or Not” is one of those movies that may sound silly on paper, even though it had one of my favorite trailers of the year. The concept of “Ready or Not” is that a woman is getting married into a family that traditionally plays a game before someone new joins the family. Turns out they have to play hide and seek, which ultimately means that the family has to let the newcomer hide, before they have go on a quest to kill her. It’s f*cking nuts. This is one of those movies, according to many people, that has a trailer with more information to reveal than necessary. I wouldn’t say people are wrong to say that. But I will say that this movie gave me EXACTLY what I would have expected, not to mention wanted, after witnessing its trailer. I saw this at an advance screening in Boston, and the communal experience that was had during this movie was one to remember. Everybody gasped, applauded, and while I am not a fan of people talking during films, there was an older woman next to me who would provide some hilarious commentary on what’s happening. Also, everything from the production design to the writing to the pacing just works 100%. I will also mention, again, hiding spoilers, the ending. If 2019 has done anything for me in terms of films, it has given some of the best endings ever. From “Avengers: Endgame” to “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and even the recently mentioned “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” the endings were all a collection of perfection. I am going to keep myself from talking about the ending, because it is something that you seriously have to see for yourself, but it’s pure movie Heaven. I rarely go see movies twice in the theater at this point, but if I had more time on my hands (and less movies to pick from in the cinema), I would have gone to see this a second time. I mean, HOLY CRAP.

#11: Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)

Up next, is one of the best action movies I have witnessed in my life, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout.” “Mission: Impossible” is a very interesting franchise as far as movies go because it has been going on since 1996, it has had no reboots since then, Tom Cruise is always a guaranteed badass, and with the exception of “Mission: Impossible II,” all the movies have been pretty good. In fact, if it weren’t for “Risky Business,” this would probably be my all-time favorite Tom Cruise film. I mean, seriously! I cared about everyone, every action sequence was done to perfection, and I will forever be in Tom Cruise’s debt just because he learned how to fly a helicopter for this movie. And remember how in “Justice League” Henry Cavill had his beard erased by digital effects? Like, to the point where certain people could notice certain particles on his face? After seeing this movie, it’s completely worth it! Between the cinematography, location choices, directing, score, editing, sound, and overall immersion factor, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” is easily one of those action flicks that puts a smile on my face. There are certain movies that I have watched in the past like “Atomic Blonde” or “John Wick” that have one memorable action scene and I often sometimes perhaps equate that to how much I enjoy those movies. For “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” If they ever put this back in theaters, I will come for the movie, but STAY for the helicopter scene, because holy f*ck! Thank you, Tom Cruise, for nearly giving up your life making this masterpiece!

#10: Arrival (2016)

I’ve seen a lot of movies from 2016, including the one where Donald Trump becomes president. That movie by the way is called “Real Life” and is often getting mixed critical responses. Trump becoming president, to me at least, was practically a “holy f*ck” moment. I’m not gonna talk about politics, I’m not saying I like or dislike him, I’m just saying that this is something I would have never predicted to have happened ten years ago. Speaking of “holy f*ck” moments, that term can also apply to one of the last movies I saw in 2016, which by coincidence, came out the same week Trump was announced as President-Elect, specifically “Arrival.” This movie is about a group of people who are investigating the actions of alien life forms as they try to interpret their language and communicate with them. I like that concept, because the movie starts off as if it were an alien invasion summer blockbuster, but in reality, it fits right in with a thinker just in time for award season. I’ll remind you, this is a November movie, so it is technically just in time for award season. In fact, it won an Oscar, and happened to be nominated for Best Picture! Although it ended up losing to “Moonlight”–wait wait wait, was it “La La Land?” Which one was it? Could have been a tie for all I know. The plot overall was fascinating, I loved Denis Villeneuve’s direction, the sound work was some of the best of the year, and the score at times was awesome. In fact, when I watched the movie at home once, I nearly shed a tear! I never cry during movies, that’s personally an achievement on this film’s part!

#9: The LEGO Movie (2014)

This next spot is dedicated to one of the biggest surprises of the decade. I saw the trailer for this film long before it came out, and while I did not hate it, there might have been a part of me that thought that this film could not have possibly worked whatsoever, but it did! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you perhaps the funniest animated movie of the decade, “The LEGO Movie!” This is a film that gets better every time I watch it. Because I watched it when it came out, and I found it to be delightful, charming, and witty. Then as I continued watching it when it came to HBO and cable networks like TBS, I have observed the dialogue, which was already fantastic to begin with, and so many other lines popped up and busted my guts. This movie’s Batman is perfect for its own world! He’s an egotistical man who’s always about himself. He’s basically what would happen if you took Kevin O’Leary from “Shark Tank” and made him “Batman,” because both people seem to think that they are the best person alive. There’s no competing against them! Anything out of his mouth is pure gold. This is why I also thought 2017’s “The LEGO Batman Movie” was just as pleasing as this specific film. The movie has an advantage of playing off of iconic properties, because there’s a scene dedicated to how many characters from preexisting material they can fit into one area. They managed to get Gandalf, Dumbledore, more DC characters aside from Batman himself, NBA basketball players including the Shaq, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and they have Abraham Lincoln in a flying space chair! Holy f*ck this movie is a trip! And speaking of trips, the climax in this movie introduces something that you do not really see in this genre of film. I cannot go into it because, well, spoilers, but it is the stuff of absolute genius! As for the other leads, they are funny, they are well-written, and provide some of the best comedic material of 2014. The movie does follow beats of other films, with there being a prophecy and all, but it does it so well that I just don’t care. And before we move on, can we just talk about Good Cop/Bad Cop? Yeah, it’s two characters in one, and it makes for one of the most hysterical questioning scenes I have ever witnessed. GENIUS! Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are powerhouse filmmakers and I would to love to see more from them! 

#8: Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

What do you get when you build a story up for a decade, over tens of films across different IPs, with all of them making millions to billions of dollars? According to many, I’d say you’d get “the most ambitious crossover in history.” “Avengers: Infinity War!” You know those movies that are so good, so iconic, so life-changing, and so experiential that they define a generation? Yeah, this is one of them. Earlier on in the decade, “Star Wars” was seen to many as the important franchise to remember for a long time. Well guess what? Everyone at Marvel glanced at “Star Wars” saying, “Hold our beer!” The reason why I love this movie so much is because of how much it changed the game for movies of its kind. Sort of in the same manner that a film like “The Dark Knight” managed to do so. To be honest, before this movie came out, I was getting worried about what the Marvel Cinematic Universe would become. The Marvel movies in 2017 were not up to par with what I would want out of a flick in its particular genre, but when 2018 arrived, “Avengers: Infinity War” gave me EXACTLY what I wanted. A ton of visually stunning action scenes, a compelling story of good vs. evil, all the while putting much more emphasis on evil than usual. Honestly, Thanos may be the greatest movie villain ever written. His motivation to “balance” the universe is something I can buy into. His relationship with Gamora and Nebula during the film brought some attention-grabbing moments, including a scene that involves sacrifice in order to achieve what you desire. While I didn’t exactly root for Thanos, I understood why he did what he did, and in various ways, I almost feel bad for him. And let me just say, I won’t name names, but this is a film where A LOT of people die, including many on the good side. One of my complaints involving the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to do with the lack of deaths on the good side, and when they do happen, they mean nothing to me because the character either comes back or the death comes from a character who I happen to find irrelevant. This is part of why I felt an impact from various scenes in the film’s sequel, “Avengers: Endgame.” By the way, “Endgame’s” not on the list. Sorry guys!

#7: Whiplash (2014)

Coming in at #7, is “Whiplash!” “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than good job.” This quote will forever stick with me, partially because “Whiplash” makes jazz look like the greatest art form ever created just from how brutal it appears. I have heard some comments from certain jazz enthusiasts and students saying that the idea behind this film is flawed because jazz doesn’t work the way it does here. I am in no way trying to invalidate their prior experiences, but I think the movie is all the better for what it does in regards to how jazz is being taught, being enforced among students. I say that because it makes the movie completely relatable to those who have taken on a class, it could be a subject of interest or one that you are forced into for some reason, and the person teaching the class is just the biggest dickface on the planet and now you have to put up with them. But I will say, JK Simmons plays this dickface very well. JK Simmons is one of my favorite actors working today and he deserved his Oscar upon finishing this film. His chemistry with Miles Teller is some of the best I have ever seen. This is also one of the earlier films directed by Damien Chazelle, who would go on to direct “La La Land” and “First Man,” both of which were also great movies. I can tell the guy really has a passion for the jazz genre of music, and it shows through several moments of the screenplay, which is why it is also no surprise that he made it a centerpiece of the story in “La La Land.” Damien Chazelle is still a young filmmaker and time will tell if his productions will continue to be worthy of conversation and preservation, but with films like this, he is off to a flying start if you ask me.

#6: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Out of everyone in my family, it goes without saying that I am probably the geekiest. So naturally, this next movie was almost made for a geek like me. I’m talking about the live-action resurrection of a popular saga! “Star Wars: The Force Awakens!” The things that really cement this movie’s presence on the list is my history with it. I already really enjoyed “Star Wars” before this movie came out, therefore, how I could I NOT be excited for this film? I went to see it four times in the theater and twice in IMAX! It’s the first steelbook I’ve ever owned! And I used to have a joke I would think about in my mind from time to time. Remember how George Lucas went back and changed the original trilogy and rereleased every installment from said trilogy as “Special Editions?” Well, people often point out this movie, Episode VII, being pretty similar to Episode IV. If that is truly the case, allow me to declare that Episode VII is without a doubt, the best special edition in the entire “Star Wars” saga! I will say, the trilogy that this belongs to itself is a bit of a mixed bag. I liked “The Rise of Skywalker,” I thought it just good old-fashioned “Star Wars” fun, but still a little messy. But “The Last Jedi” is what I think hurt this trilogy most, because a lot of things were set up in “The Force Awakens” and the payoff to all of those things happen to be either ignored or off-putting. However, it does not take away from how much I love this movie. It’s great seeing old faces like Han and Chewie again, 3PO and his red arm, the lightsaber battles are as fun and exciting as they’ve ever been. The film has possibly the most eye-candy-esque color palette in a “Star Wars” film yet. Then again, with newer tech, it probably helps. But keep in mind, this movie was also shot on film, and it looks great! I will also mention Adam Driver’s character of Kylo Ren being one of the best things that has EVER happened to the “Star Wars” franchise. I love him because he’s ultimately trying to carry on the legacy of Darth Vader and the Empire, but as this villain who is supposed to be evil, he is clearly conflicted and broken, which adds a lot to his character. There is an argument to make that stuff like this can make a villain look weak, but I feel that this is what this sequel trilogy needed. A different kind of villain who can kick ass, while also being able to release themselves and reveal how they feel emotionally. As for other lead characters, I think Rey and Finn have great chemistry, and seeing them together after they finish their first fight onboard the Millennium Falcon is like watching two kids discover they have unbelievable talent in a video game. Poe Dameron is also a fresh and exciting addition to the franchise. I’m just mad of the direction they took his character in “The Last Jedi.” As much as I am scared of a future where Disney rules the entire media universe, “The Force Awakens” is most certainly worth watching. And watching again. And again. No seriously, when this thing came out, the replay value for me was bonkers! 

#5: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

Up next, we have one of the best comic book movies of the decade. Is it in the DC universe? No. Is it in the Marvel universe? No. It’s a little film directed by Edgar Wright, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World! THE FREAKING WORLD! This movie, to me, was perhaps everything I would have wanted it to be and more! FLASHY! OBNOXIOUS! CREATIVE! VISUALLY STUNNING! HILARIOUS! OH MY GOSH THIS MOVIE’S AWESOME! As far as comic book movies go, this has some of the best directing, not to mention, some of the best writing I have seen. It goes for that ridiculous, absurd fast pace that will allow you as a viewer to keep your eyes on the screen. In fact, you know what? You know that stereotype about video game movies? You know how a lot of people are perhaps still waiting for that “excellent” video game movie that they have yet to see in their life? If they perhaps changed a few things about the characters, a small number of visuals, things like that, then I might as well say that this would have made for an EPIC “Guitar Hero” movie or something. In fact, I’d compare this movie to something along the lines of “Ready Player One,” because there is a sign of at least one or two characters having an obsession with pop culture and both movies seem to have a unique visual style. Granted, “Scott Pilgrim” is a lot less reliant on preexisting IPs, but still. It talks about things like the history of “Pac-Man,” it has a scene that might as well take place in a “Seinfeld” episode, and the band’s name is “Sex Bob-Omb,” which is “sex bomb” mixed with the name of the bombs from “Super Mario.” Plus, both feel like cinematic video games if you truly break them down. They feel not only immersive, but like they have this visual aesthetic that has a larger than life aspect to them. And I must say, if this film was not already exciting enough, not only are the fights with the exes stunning to watch, each one is perhaps creative in its own way. There is a bass battle, a fight where an ex breaks out into song, there’s one where gigantic visual creatures are spawned out of nowhere! It’s the stuff of magic, really! So if you ask me, “Jack, what’s your favorite comic book movie of the 2010s? Is it “Infinity War?” “Endgame?” “Logan?” “Deadpool?” “The Winter Soldier?” “The Dark Knight Rises?” “Man of Steel?” Forget Marvel and DC! I direct you, to “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.”

#4: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

When I was first introduced to “The Hobbit,” specifically the movies, I had no idea that it was attached the “Lord of the Rings” franchise (I haven’t read any of the books or seen any of the movies). But if you had to ask me right now, it feels weird to say, but “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is arguably my favorite “Lord of the Rings” film. “Fellowship” is up there, but still. I walked out of the theater LOVING this movie, and I still do. I think it is one of 2013’s best, and the villain, Smaug, may be one of the greatest given to my generation. MASSIVE KUDOS to Benedict Cumberbatch for his fantastic portrayal and voicework. As creepy as this may sound, I would not mind it if Smaug was the narrator of my life. That’s how much I love his voice. As for everyone else, I liked Martin Freeman and Bilbo Baggins, Ian McKellan as Gandalf, per usual, is great. The visuals, as expected, are top notch. And that final chase between Bilbo, the dwarves, Smaug, was an adrenaline rush brought up to 9,000! Speaking of adrenaline rushes, I also really enjoyed the barrel scene, where they all fight in the forest river, which by the way, more props have to be given, Howard Shore, you are a musically gifted man. Go listen to The Forest River on the official soundtrack for the movie. You won’t be disappointed! And one of the best things I can say about this movie is that it feels like an improvement over its predecessor. I say that because the first “Hobbit” movie, even there are some coolish things in it, was overall kind of a mixed bag. Still good, watchable, but it’s the worst movie in the “Lord of the Rings” franchise for sure. This is especially true when it comes the pacing. This sequel is fast paced from start to finish, with a short little breather in the middle of it all. I also admittedly like the introduction of Tauriel, who was never in the books, but she honestly added something to the movie for me. This movie can be summed up in one word. Epic. That’s all you need. It is one of the best fantasy movies I have ever seen, and one of the best sequels I’ve ever seen. One of the best prequels too if you want to get technical.

#3: Colossal (2016)

Monster movies can be fun, but have you ever heard of a film where a woman reunites with a childhood friend, occasionally get drunk together, whilst Seoul is being attacked by a kaiju, and that kaiju is the girl herself? No? Well, you have been missing out! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you “Colossal,” the greatest monster movie ever made. I did not hear much about “Colossal” before going into it. In fact, I never recalled watching any trailers. And I honestly feel bad for those who did, because I read reviews from people thinking this is was going to be heavy on comedy. Not really, it’s got comedy in it, in fact with an actor like Jason Sudeikis comedy almost feels like a guarantee, but it’s not trying to be a comedy. It’s more of a drama if you ask me. It’s a drama about a group of pals who live in a small town and while one girl is adjusting to her new social group, she is also a killer monster (under certain conditions). “Colossal,” starring Anne Hathaway, takes that killer monster concept and avoids making it the main part of the story, while still using it to develop every action our characters take. In fact, you know how some big blockbusters or monster movies tend to show the despair and downfall of a city as everyone is trying to save themselves from danger? Oh… WOW. I HAVE NEVER SEEN IT DONE THE WAY IT IS DONE IN “COLOSSAL.” Not only is it creative, imaginative, and original, but it’s also to my surprise, almost shell-shocking. Not to mention, some of you might not feel the same way as I do, but I don’t think I would spend much of my adult life drinking alcohol, and this movie reminds me of why I tend to avoid it. The film is pleasant, unique, and most of all, exciting! It’s a film, kind of like “Whiplash,” that feels very big by being very small. When I saw this movie in the theater, I walked out feeling like a changed man. I remember texting a friend about the film some time after seeing it and telling them I don’t recall the last time I felt the way did walking out of “Colossal” since perhaps “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” What a f*cking movie.

#2: Blade Runner 2049

#2, is one of the best science fiction and noir flicks of my generation. It is a long-awaited and ambitious sequel. It is yet another return to a franchise starring Harrison Ford, now accompanied by the Canadian boy toy, Ryan Gosling, “Blade Runner 2049.” I am a major advocate for the theatrical experience. I believe streaming services like Netflix have some sort of purpose in society. You can pop on a movie whenever you wish, you can watch a movie practically wherever you want, but if you ask me, films like this is why the movie theater has been established. It is big, loud, and it looks DOPE. If you had to ask me, if I had to choose which film has the best cinematography ever, “Blade Runner 2049” might be somewhere on that list. It is a film that I believe would be an inspiration to future filmmakers, fans of sci-fi, and maybe even film composers, because Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch made the score together and it is FANTASTIC. I remember my senior year of high school and one of the highlights of said time period is not particularly doing homework, but playing the soundtrack of “Blade Runner 2049” while I do my homework. It put me in the mood to get my work done, and made homework just a little more epic. In fact, I have immense respect to this sequel compared to a ton of others, because unlike a lot of sequels that come out today, this doesn’t try to force any setup of future installments or cinematic universes. It feels like its own story, sort of like the first “Blade Runner.” Would I love to see a third “Blade Runner?” Absolutely. I think a third “Blade Runner” could end up being one of the better films of its particular year depending on how they execute it. The question is, how much money would it make? Because despite how much I love “Blade Runner 2049,” I do have to acknowledge that not everyone went out to see it. Maybe it will gain a following in future years, but for now, I have to be knowledgeable about its past. As for how they handle the story of “Blade Runner 2049,” I loved everyone in the film. The returning characters, the new characters, and if I had to be honest, Harrison Ford gave the best performance I have seen from him in this particular film. I should also point out… Ana de Armas… Yeehaw. I had a crush on her after this movie for a number of reasons. But if I had to be honest, her character is quite honestly, spectacular, mainly because of how Armas herself handled the role. If a movie makes me, the viewer, fall in love with a holographic being, it has done its job, and more. “Blade Runner 2049” is one of those films that will end up defining the decade for me as a reflect on it further. And if you haven’t seen it yet, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!

#1: ??? (2014)
Here we are my friends, we have made it this far! This is #1! As far as this decade goes, if I were to use sports-related terms, when it comes to this countdown, 24 movies enter, one movie leaves. This is the one to leave. Speaking of leaving, this is the film that admittedly I do not think left that significant of an impact on me until one of my many rewatches. This is a film that I admired going into it, not to mention leaving it for what it was able to do from a technical perspective. As time went on, I found every single element of this movie worthy of two thumbs up. Just to let you all know, this is a 2014 film. Take a look at this clip from my #1 film of the 2010s.

Christopher Nolan is a god among men. My #1 movie of the 2010s is “Interstellar!” Everything about this film is done to unimaginable levels. In terms of important achievements in mankind, the pyramid goes something like this: Somewhere on the list, you have clay tablets, next on that list is medicine, then comes the wheel, maybe democracy gets one of those slots too, but at the top of that list, to me, is the movie “Interstellar.” When it comes to movie theater experiences, there is almost no competition when it comes to trying to rival the time I had watching this in IMAX 70mm. Even if I did not like the movie, I would probably still give it kudos for being a great time at the cinema. On that topic, it’s visually stunning, in fact it even won an Oscar for said visual effects. The cinematography is great no matter what, but if you watch it in a way that allows for the IMAX scenes to shine, it becomes ten times better than it already is, which says a lot. Seriously, if you are watching the film on DVD, do yourself a favor and upgrade to the Blu-ray, it’s GREAT. The film also has some of the best sound I have ever heard in a movie. I mean that in terms of volume, the specific sounds chosen, and even lack thereof (because ya know, space). Hans Zimmer also created what may be my personal favorite film score of all time. It’s one of those scores that I cannot stop listening to simply for motivation. If there’s ever a future event where they do “Interstellar” with a live orchestra playing the music, I don’t care where it is, I’ll travel out of the country for it if I have to, I’m game. And now you might be thinking, “Hey, Jackass! This may sound great and all, but how’s the story? How are the characters?”

Whoops! My bad! I forgot!

When it comes to the film’s story, it displays a future that is relevant and one that could happen very soon. It’s another one of those dire and somewhat depressing future films kind of like “Wall-E.” The film revolves around a bunch of characters who are currently dealing with the effects of a dying Earth. Every now and then they get dust storms, resources are dwindling, plants are going away. In fact, corn, which is almost extinct in this movie, is all humanity seems to rely on when it comes to fulfilling their hunger. Meanwhile, NASA, which is kind of a point of controversy because younger generations are being taught in school that the Apollo missions are fake, is trying to set up a mission to find another inhabitable planet for humanity. This is something that I think could happen in real life. Maybe not exactly the same as this film suggests, because let’s face it, I don’t think the moon landing conspiracy is going to get that many more supporters, but who knows? My point however, is that humanity is becoming more aware of their environmental impact on this planet, which may suggest a need to perhaps abandon it and find a new one. There are some films that mess around with time, and Christopher Nolan as a filmmaker is no stranger to this concept. After all, when you’re known for doing films like “Memento” and “Inception,” you obviously have some experience. “Interstellar” to me does a phenomenal job in terms of how it handles time and plays around with it. There’s a situation where they have to get things done very quickly because on one planet the span of an hour is seven years, we see the result of Cooper’s kids growing up and becoming adults and how that plays into the film’s impact, the film’s score, I’ll mention once more, FANTASTICALLY composed by Hans Zimmer, goes at 60 beats per minute to match with the “tick tock” that is often associated with time. After all, there are 60 seconds in a minute, so why not have 60 beats per minute? Plus, this is a film that gets better with every rewatch. There was a point where I kept rewatching it and maybe I’d discover something new or retain something amazing that maybe I’ve forgotten before. I will also point out that the performances, across the board, are stellar! No pun intended! You’ve got decently chosen actors including Matthew McConaughey (The Wolf of Wall Street, Dallas Buyers Club), Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises, Rio), Jessica Chastain (Take Shelter, The Help), Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone, Out of the Furnace), and unsurprisingly, Michael Caine (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Batman Begins). All of them give performances that embody the proper emotions of the situations at hand, and this is the film where I started to admire Chastain as an actress. There’s a chilling moment towards the end of the film, I will not go into it, but she does something that occasionally sends a tear down my cheek. There’s a line of spoken dialogue in that moment that is PERFECTION. That moment could not have been executed any better through a different vision or a rewrite. Even the child actors kill it in their roles! Timothée Chalamet as Tom is a more limited role in the film, but I feel like it is limited for a reason. He’s mainly there to suggest that he’s “fine” in whatever situation he’s in. He’s sort of a settler who never complains. He likes being a farmer, which does eventually play into the film’s script, and when Cooper leaves to go to space, Tom does not seem that upset or emotional over the situation. Obviously, he is rooting for his dad on his mission, but he is always fine, which makes sense in regards to his character development. As for young Murph, played wonderfully by Mackenzie Foy by the way, who might arguably give my favorite child actor performance to date. There was a very touching scene before (HEY! SEE WHAT I DID THERE? AREN’T I A SMART COOKIE?) Cooper left for his mission that highlights such an opinion for me.

I also cannot talk about how much I dig “Interstellar” without discussing the ending. Don’t worry, I will not spoil a thing. But when it comes to endings, “Interstellar” may be my all-time favorite film in the category. Again, I mentioned that moment with Jessica Chastain, but that’s not all. It’s weird, I did not see it coming, and it’s incredibly emotional. It’s as rewarding as it is unfortunate. To add onto that, Hans Zimmer’s score continues to shine here as well. A movie like “Interstellar” sort of makes me consider whether or not the church organ is the greatest instrumental achievement ever. This is an ending that made me appreciate this film the more that I watched it. When I saw it in the theater, I did not have too many thoughts on it, but I liked it more with rewatch upon rewatch. But then one such rewatch, it struck me like a lightning bolt somehow. It became an ending I liked, and somehow turned into one of the greatest endings in film history. It’s charming and also leaves me to question who exactly came up with it. Was it Christopher Nolan’s brother, Jonathan? Maybe I should give him some credit here!

I think the big thing for “Interstellar” to me, both before and after watching it, is how much it made admire the filmmaking process. Keep in mind, I admired it before, but “Interstellar” helped me further appreciate it. Films like this and “The Dark Knight,” basically Christopher Nolan as a filmmaker in general, has given me a dream, a reason to want to pursue work in the film industry. While there was a point that I wanted to be a filmmaker, I now know which filmmaker I look up to the most. And I would love to do what he does. While I have my own scripts that I plan to do, I would love to shoot a movie in the IMAX format one day and present the movie on film stock. I think film is the best possible cinematic presentation and whenever there’s an opportunity to go watch a movie on film, I cannot help but take it.

Throughout my journey as a film viewer, there is no other film, at least over the past ten years, that gave me a remarkable impact like this one did. It involves an increasingly relevant concept that I think will continuously be developed over the years, it’s an original property, and technically, it’s a masterpiece. This film is very similar to another sci-fi classic, “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and I imagine there are some people out there who would consider this movie too similar. To me, “Interstellar” stands on its own because “2001” does not make particular characters the centerpiece of the film. It takes a bunch of random elements and scenes and manages to develop a story out of all of it, whereas “Interstellar” comes off as an adventure story from beginning to end, with various fiddles with time connected along the way. This is nothing against “2001,” which is one of my favorite films of all time, but “Interstellar” does something to relate to “2001” while also being its own movie, at least to me. Nevertheless, “Interstellar” is a master work of art, one of the best sci-fi films ever made, and earns the crown as the best movie of the 2010s!

Thanks for reading this post! This is a list that was admittedly, very hard to make. Part of me wonders if I should have spent a year on this. There’s a very good chance that I will be changing this list in the next few days because unlike most of these lists, which spans over a year, this spans over a much longer period of time, so I don’t even think this list is going to be that definitive. There’s a good chance that “Interstellar” will remain at #1 for a very long time, but for everything else, who knows? But with that being said, it’s time to forget the good and move on to the bad! Maybe even the ugly! I say that because tomorrow I am going to be releasing my top 25 WORST movies of the 2010s. These are movies that are 2,010 times as horrible as anything else! JUST YOU WAIT! With that being said, be sure to look forward to that post tomorrow, and if you are reading this early and wanted to be notified about my worst list and other exciting content here on Scene Before, click the follow button! If you have a proper account up and running, be sure to like and comment if possible, it definitely helps me out! Speaking of helping me out, like my Facebook page, I want to get more people to follow me on that side of things, it would probably help spread the word a bit on social, so please, help a guy out! I want to know, what are your favorite movies of the 2010s? Do you have a favorite year this decade for film? For me, I’d say mine are 2014 and 2018. Do you think I missed a film? Seriously, there may have been a film that I liked that I completely forgot about, and I say this as someone who has worked on this countdown series for literally MONTHS. Nevertheless, leave your comments down below, and stay tuned for the worst list! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knives Out (2019): 2019’s Pop Culture Murder Mystery Dinner

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“Knives Out” is directed by Rian Johnson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Looper) and stars… well, pretty much everyone you know. To be completely serious though, “Knives Out” stars Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049, Exposed), Chris Evans (Captain America: The First Avenger, Gifted), Daniel Craig (Skyfall, Logan Lucky), Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween, Scream Queens), Michael Shannon (Take Shelter, The Shape of Water), Don Johnson (Miami Vice, Nash Bridges), Toni Collette (Hereditary, The Sixth Sense), Lakeith Stanfield (Sorry To Bother You, Get Out), Katherine Langford (13 Reasons Why, Love, Simon), Jaeden Martell (It, The Book of Henry), and Christopher Plummer (All the Money in the World, The Sound of Music). Holy crap, that’s a lot of names.

“Knives Out” takes place in the middle of Massachusetts and it typically centers around the interactions of a family after the death of a patriarch. Everybody gathers around a large house, everybody’s got a story, everybody’s got a motivation, but it is also up to a detective (Daniel Craig) to settle everyone down and find out the truth regarding what happened.

The murder mystery genre for me is kind of like horror, because I never take too many chances to dive into the genre itself. Granted, horror, at least to me, is a tad more predictable because it seems to have more of a staying power in today’s society, so I personally prefer the murder mystery genre. In fact, my favorite “Family Guy” episode ever, “And Then There Were Fewer,” is a murder mystery, so I do have some respect for the genre. And honestly, when it comes to Rian Johnson, I will admit that I have had a slight bad taste in my mouth because of the way he handled “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” It’s a film that just got significantly worse after I first saw it. In fact, when I watched it a second time, I was kind of turned off by the result. I say that because I wanted the movie to go in a different direction than say “The Empire Strikes Back,” which is a great movie. However, despite the everlasting love and affection I have for 2015’s “The Force Awakens,” one minor flaw with that movie is the way they manage to basically rehash the earliest “Star Wars.” Granted, it’s a fantastic homage which had many repeat viewings for me. But as much as I originally appreciated it for going in a different direction, a lot of the choices they made to go in such a direction were sort of faulty and questionable.

However, having seen that movie, I now know that Johnson might as well be one to subvert expectations. Here’s the thing. Murder mysteries are supposed to keep you guessing. If this movie could keep me on the edge of my seat and questioning everything, then I’d walk out satisfied.

Honestly, I went into this movie with an idea of what is going to be. It turns out, I got something better than what I thought I would get. And that says a lot because the hype behind this movie felt real for me. The production design is some of the best I have seen all year. The acting, not to mention casting in general, is perfect. Everyone from Daniel Craig to Ana De Armas to Toni Collette, everyone served their roles properly and put a smile on my face.

I’ll just say though, I think the two most popular award ceremonies that have to with movies are the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. I have had a history of talking about both ceremonies on here, especially the Academy. But I never usually talk about another popular ceremony, the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) Awards. One of the biggest awards they present on the night of the ceremony is one given to the entire ensemble of actors. We still have about a month left before 2019 is over, and a little longer than that until the ceremony takes place, but I’d argue that at this point, “Knives Out” has an extremely solid chance at winning such an award. I think purely based on how Rian Johnson has to handle so many actors at once, many of whom happened to already establish their name in the industry, including a couple who are a bit lesser known, there is a chance “Knives Out” could walk away with the biggest award from that ceremony.

One of the more solid examples that could let that case be true is Daniel Craig, who plays Benoit Blanc in the film. His performance, was part of what set the tone for the entire movie for me. Daniel Craig, while taking his performance seriously, realizes that this movie is sort of supposed to be fun. His introduction scene almost made me think I was watching something from Wes Anderson, because it is charming, quirky, and based on the way it was directed, I was perhaps hypnotized to leave the film, regardless of whether or not I liked it, admiring Craig in all his glory.

Another standout performer to me is one of the leads, Chris Evans. I think most of what I love about this performance has mainly to do with the screenplay and how the character is written. I say that because the movie is full of tense dialogue between characters, which allows serious vibes to kick in, but Evans manages to play a character who is incredibly laid back and sort of a smartass. Do I think other people could have played his character? Personally, yes, I think I could have played it if I tried, because if I were in this situation, this is probably how I would act. I’d try to have fun with the seriousness at hand, while also trying to deal with the current situation.

As for smaller roles, I think there are a number of them that stand out. Jamie Lee Curtis, Jaeden Martell, but the one I want to talk about is the one given by Toni Collette. I think Collette is not only a great performer here, but brought such life to her character that I cannot imagine anyone else bringing at all, or at least without being cringeworthy. Collette’s character sort of reminds me of a crazy aunt who likes to party. Maybe another good example is the mother from ABC’s “The Goldbergs,” minus the toxic affection she has for offspring. In a way, she’s almost like Chris Evans’ character, because as much as everyone else may be moody or depressed, which she kind of is at times, but still, she has a somewhat happy outlook on current happenings. Either that or she may just have some sort of God-given charisma that nobody else can have.

But if you ask me, I think the best performance in the film is given by Ana de Armas, an actress who I personally happened to have liked before this film came out, and someone who may been the main reason why this film was originally put on my radar. For the record, Ana de Armas was one of the supporting roles in my 2nd favorite film of 2017, and one of my favorite sci-fi films of the decade, “Blade Runner 2049.” She has this ability to take a challenging role and own it. Because in that movie she played a holographic woman that was supposed to have a connection to whoever owned them. The complexity of that role involved being someone who is robotic enough to serve their master, while also being human enough to understand emotion, because in that movie she was someone who happened to be in love with the main character. At the same time, it was almost as if she was a product of the main character’s desires.

As for this movie, we get more of a glance at a character where Ana de Armas has a personality where she is more worried about saving herself. In fact, I mentioned earlier that Daniel Craig presented himself as this quirky, out of nowhere detective. If you ask me, I think the biggest quirk in the movie didn’t necessarily come from him, and instead, came from Ana de Armas. Because she plays a character who practically cannot lie. If all other people were like her, she’d make the lie detector test obsolete. I say that because her character cannot tell a lie, otherwise she throws up. This makes every scene where Armas is forced to tell a truth or where she is being questioned all the more intriguing because not only was I, as an audience member, hypnotized to follow the mystery as it was unraveled, but I was also somewhat concerned for the character’s sanity, health, and sense of self.

From a technical standpoint, the cinematography in the film is amazing. The various dutch angles fit a number of the scenes and sort of had an old Hollywood vibe. The music is outstanding. By the way, such music is composed by Rian Johnson’s cousin, Nathan Johnson, who also worked with him in films like “Brick” and “Looper.” I think Rian Johnson could have a chance for being nominated in the Best Director category, I think his vision helped this movie immensely. This honestly feels like a movie that only he could have done. Maybe one or two other people could do this, but this feels like a personal project. And as much as I despise “The Last Jedi,” I could see what Rian Johnson was trying to do with that movie, because he not only directed that film, but he wrote it as well. “Star Wars” to me, must be a more collaborative piece of media to work on at this point, and with “The Force Awakens” pointing in a certain direction, it admittedly feels odd looking back to see one man with perhaps a sole vision take over for a big film that could expand on previous lore and build up to the next one which happens to conclude a trilogy. These are the kinds of films that I would prefer to see Johnson tackle. Could he do another big franchise in the future? Maybe, but I want to see more of his original work. Media that feels like something only he could own.

I honestly don’t even know what problems come to mind with “Knives Out.” The camerawork is some of the best I have seen all year. The characters are all charismatic. The screenplay is nothing short of outstanding. The ending, as well done as it is, is little choppy in buildup. As for other problems, if there are any, they are a bit hard to point out. Overall, this movie kicks ass!

In the end, “Knives Out,” the movie with perhaps the most badass title of all time, packs a brutal punch of bloody goodness. It is easily one of the best movies of the year, and a step in the right direction for Rian Johnson as a filmmaker. I have not checked out his earlier work, but I really want to check out “Looper.” Films like these are the ones I’ll be excited for when it comes to Rian Johnson’s filmography. Films that are original, exhilarating, and keep me on the edge of my seat. If I have to say one more thing, I will suggest that you’d go see this movie with the biggest crowd you can. If you have one of those theaters with reserved seating near you, buy your tickets online and see how many people have already reserved seats. If there many seats reserved already, I implore you, PLEASE buy a ticket to that show because this is a movie where crowd reactions enhance the experience to the tenth degree. I’m going to give “Knives Out” a 9/10.

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Thanks for reading this review! Just want to announce to everyone reading that during this Thanksgiving weekend, I am going to be showing off my newest trailer for “Top Movies of the 2010s,” a project I plan to release this January, it is going to be the most ambitious countdown series I have done yet, and I cannot wait to share it with you all! If you want to be notified about this trailer, here’s what you can do. Follow Scene Before with an email, or if you want greater access, use a WordPress account! If you are on Facebook, check out MY PAGE and give it a like! I want to know, did you see “Knives Out?” What did you think about it? Or, who happens to be your favorite fictional dysfunctional family? It can be from anything, books, movies, TV, you name it! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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!

Will STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER Be Shown On IMAX 70mm Film?

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Last year, I created a post asking the following question. Will “First Man” be shown on IMAX 70mm film? The answer, no. This year, there is another movie that I have followed for some time that is making me ask the same question. Specifically, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” Why? Because despite a majority of this decade’s “Star Wars” films getting 70mm IMAX releases, there are reasons to believe that “The Rise of Skywalker,” the final film in The Skywalker Saga, will miss the mark.

When J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” came out in December 2015, that released in a number of IMAX 70mm locations, along with standard 35mm and 70mm theaters. It also was projected on IMAX’s then new laser technology in other locations. While that’s not film based, it is a digital response to IMAX’s film projection. When it comes to being projected in IMAX 70mm, the following locations took action.

US/CANADA

Alabama
McWane Center IMAX Dome Theatre – Birmingham
IMAX, U.S. Space & Rocket Center – Huntsville

California
Hackworth IMAX Dome, The Tech Museum – San Jose

Canada
Kramer IMAX, Saskatchewan Science Centre – Regina

Florida
Museum of Discovery & Science AutoNation IMAX – Ft. Lauderdale
IMAX Dome, Museum of Science & Industry – Tampa

Indiana
IMAX, Indiana State Museum – Indianapolis

Iowa
Blank IMAX Dome, Science Center of Iowa – Des Moines

Missouri
Branson’s IMAX, Entertainment Complex – Branson
St. Louis Science Center OMNIMAX Theatre – St. Louis

Pennsylvania
Tuttleman IMAX, The Franklin Institute– Philadelphia

Washington, DC
Lockheed Martin IMAX, National Air & Space Museum

Texas
Omni, Fort Worth Museum of Science & History – Fort Worth

INTERNATIONAL
LG IMAX, Darling Harbour – Sydney, Australia
The Science Museum – London, England

That’s 15 locations. That is less than the number of seasons of “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy,” “NCIS,” “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” “Real Time with Bill Maher,” “Judge Judy,” “Dr. Phil,” “South Park,” “The Bachelor,” and the combined seasons for “Star Trek: The Original Series,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” also came out in certain IMAX 70mm locations, but the difference between that and “The Force Awakens,” aside from being a spinoff, is that the film was not shot specifically for 70mm IMAX projection. “The Force Awakens” was shot using IMAX branded cameras, and when a number of films were shot using that, IMAX presented the movie having those scenes fill the entire screen. This is true for many of their digital-based locations, as well as those running film. In fact, the film was shot completely in digital using an ARRI Alexa 65. Nevertheless, it still managed to hit 13 IMAX 70mm screens.

Alabama
IMAX, US Space & Rocket Center
IMAX Dome, McWane Center

California
AMC Universal CityWalk Stadium 19 & IMAX – Universal City
Esquire IMAX – Sacramento
Hackworth IMAX Dome, The Tech Museum

Canada
Kramer IMAX, Saskatchewan Science Centre

Florida
IMAX Dome, Museum of Science & Industry

Iowa
Blank IMAX Dome, Science Center Iowa

Indiana
IMAX, Indiana Stare Museum

Minnesota
IMAX Theatre, Minnesota Zoo

Missouri
OMNIMAX, St. Louis Science Center

Pennsylvania
Tuttleman IMAX, The Franklin Institute

Texas
Omni Theatre Fort Worth Museum of Science & History

Granted, this was a starting list. I say so because “Rogue One” was shown in more IMAX 70mm theaters after its initial release, including one in Connecticut’s Maritime Aquarium, which is one of the closest venues of its kind to where I live. When it comes to this specific theater, they managed to do the same for “The Force Awakens.”

Then came “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” directed by Rian Johsnon. Much like its chronological predecessor, “The Force Awakens,” this was partially shot using IMAX cameras. I will say though, personally, I missed out on the IMAX experience for this film when it came out. But based on research, I did not miss much. Why? Multiple sources suggest that the film never had any scenes projected from top to bottom on IMAX 70mm screens. The entire movie was projected in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1, which is conventional in the movie industry. The original IMAX-specific aspect ratio is 1.43:1. “The Force Awakens” had 5 minutes of IMAX footage intact. All five minutes was blown up to fill the brand’s screens. But for those who went to see “The Last Jedi” in IMAX, they may have gotten crystal clear images, but black bars up the wazoo. Turns out, as a matter of fact, IMAX was the only film format in which this movie happened to be presented. No standard 35mm or standard 70mm was available. And if viewers did manage to check out these types of IMAX screenings, chances are they flocked to one of these places.

US/CANADA

Alabama
IMAX Dome, McWane Center – Birmingham
IMAX, U.S. Space & Rocket Center – Huntsville

California
Hackworth IMAX Dome, The Tech Museum – San Jose

Canada
Kramer IMAX, Saskatchewan Science Centre – Regina

Connecticut
IMAX, The Maritime Aquarium – Norwalk

Indiana
IMAX, Indiana State Museum – Indianapolis

Iowa
Blank IMAX Dome, Science Center of Iowa – Des Moines

Missouri
OMNIMAX, St. Louis Science Center – St. Louis

North Carolina
The Charlotte Observer IMAX Dome, Discovery Place – Charlotte

Pennsylvania
Tuttleman IMAX, The Franklin Institute– Philadelphia

Texas
Omnitheatre, Fort Worth Museum of Science & History – Fort Worth

UK
London Science Museum – London

That’s 11 locations. That is less than the number of seasons of “The Big Bang Theory,” “Supernatural,” “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia,” “Criminal Minds,” “America’s Got Talent,” “Ridiculousness,” “Bones,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Face Off,” “The Bachelorette,” “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Dallas,” “Two and a Half Men,” and “Love Connection.”

As for “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” which released almost half a year after “The Last Jedi,” that was not filmed with any IMAX technology. It still released in the IMAX format however, going through a traditional DMR (Digital Media Remastering) process. Here are the theaters that presented “Solo: A Star Wars Story” in IMAX 70mm.

There aren’t any, the film was entirely released in digital formats.

That’s 0 locations. That is less than the number of seasons of “Freaks and Geeks,” “Firefly,” “Clone High,” “Swamp Thing,” “Whiskey Cavalier,” “The Michael J. Fox Show,” “Bam’s Bad Ass Game Show,” “Son of Zorn,” “Bordertown,” “Inhumans,” “Selfie,” “Heroes: Reborn,” “Ghosted,” “America’s Next Best Weatherman,” and “State of Georgia.” FYI, ALL OF THESE got cancelled after one season.

To be honest though, I can’t complain too much because the entire movie was shot digitally on ARRI Alexa cameras.

And when it comes to a good portion of the locations that have played a few of these recent “Star Wars” movies in 70mm, not only are they few and far between, but many of them rarely play Hollywood features. Many of these theaters simply show IMAX-distributed documentaries that are either new or cater to a theme that would associate with a venue. Not to mention, a glaring fraction of these are domes, and while I will say I rarely go to domed IMAX theaters, one thing to point out about them is the 180° style of the screen. With a number of cinema screens, it is sometimes easy to notice a slight curve they can provide, and traditional IMAX screens are no exception. Forget about a curve with an IMAX Dome, it’s practically a boulder sliced in half. Not only do they rarely show Hollywood features, but they also can have a quirky looking image when there are black bars involved. Granted, I have yet to see something like this for myself in person, but from what I’ve seen online, it’s almost weird looking. I almost wonder if it would turn off a good portion of general audience members.

History aside, let’s move onto the present and the future. Despite IMDb’s current claims that this film will be shot with IMAX cameras, no word of mouth from Disney, J.J. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy, etc., has said anything related to such a claim (except this one, based on brief research). After all, I don’t know for sure, it could have been inserted long before, or maybe just as soon as the film happened to be starting production. However, IMDb is also claiming that the movie will be presented in multiple film formats. These include 35mm, 70mm, and IMAX 70mm. By the way, they are also suggesting these were also formats used for shooting.

“Shot on 35mm, 70mm, and 70mm IMAX, this is the third Star Wars film to be shot in the IMAX format, the first film in the franchise to be shot on 70mm film, and the first Star Wars film since Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983) to be shot entirely on celluloid.”

OK, I can buy this movie entirely being shot on film. After all, one of the things that J.J. Abrams wanted out of “Episode VII” was the nostalgia factor, which was partially brought to the table through filming the movie in celluloid, an action that the prequels neglected for the most part. But to be fair, “new technology” sometimes has a ring to it.

As for what technology was used specifically, I think we still need updated information on it. Because when it comes to technical specifications, that is still a mystery kept by those who made this film. Yes, there are articles suggesting a mixture of 35mm and 70mm cinematography in the movie, but many of them are from the end of 2016, a month before “Rogue One” came out. However, perhaps the most credible information I came across was this occasionally updated article as seen on fromthegrapevine.com. For those who are lazy, there is a suggestion via an image that this next “Star Wars” film will be shot in 70mm.

Granted, I highly doubt that this movie will be mostly shot in digital. The past two films in the trilogy have been shot using film for a good portion of the runtime, therefore to maintain a similar feel, Abrams must have said film was the way to go.

And with this information in mind, I will point out that IMAX has a vast history of showcasing movies that were not shot through their technology on their true projection format. The thing is however, that time happened back when the DMR process was starting to get into full swing. With IMAX’s jump into digital projection in 2008, it wasn’t too long before IMAX started getting picky with what films would be shown in their original format. “Rogue One” was a rare exception back when it came out in 2016.

In fact, let’s look at IMAX in 2018 and what they have done with this technology. Unfortunately, IMAX missed the opportunity to put “First Man,” their only new release that year shot with IMAX 70mm tech, in theaters catering to that format. They were shown in IMAX Laser theaters, which is a nice consolation, but having been in both venues for different movies, it’s not the same. The only “new” 70mm experience that came out was a limited 50th anniversary engagement of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Aside from that, there was a 10th anniversary limited engagement of Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” which played around the same time period. There was another movie released in IMAX shot with their technology (Avengers: Infinity War), but that film was shot completely in digital. This allowed a complete fill of the screen in many, smaller, digital venues, but not for the venues IMAX was originally known for.

If you think I am pulling these facts out of my butt, let me just point out to you, I am not. There is a Wikipedia page that lists every single IMAX film that has gone through a DMR process. Yes, Wikipedia is not the most scholarly source of all time, but over the years, this has been pretty reliable for this subject matter.

List of IMAX DMR Films

In fact, if you scour the list, go to the section labeled “2019,” and scroll down to “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” you’ll notice it does not suggest there will be any IMAX 70mm screenings, nor does it say anything about the cinematic equipment. Granted, a lot of the information related to this does not exactly need to be displayed now, the movie does not even release until December. Even with that in mind however, it is slightly concerning. I can live with a lack of IMAX 70mm screenings if it wasn’t shot in that exact format, but if it was, I feel like we are gonna be in a “First Man” situation all over again. Although that movie flopped as far as I am aware so, who knows? It might have been for the best. I enjoyed the movie, in fact it was one of my favorites of the year, but regardless, it didn’t have proper financial legs.

It is perhaps slightly inevitable that “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” will be a financial success. I say SLIGHTLY inevitable, because while a number of recent Disney “Star Wars” flicks made over $1 billion at the box office, the most recent one, “Solo: A Star Wars Story” did not meet the financial standards of films that came prior to it, including the spinoff “Rogue One.” At the same time, it has things going for it. For one thing, it’s the conclusive chapter to The Skywalker Saga, it involves characters we have known for the past two films and even further into the past, Lando is back, and Palpatine seems to be making an appearance as well. It has the potential to win audiences and a portion of the fanbase overall. Well, that depends on how divided said fanbase is by the time this movie comes out, because it’s pretty ugly right now. And even though that ugliness is a thing, there are enough fans in the “Star Wars” community that could potentially show up for a new flick in the franchise.

If you ask me, I think Disney, Lucasfilm, Bob Iger, IMAX, among others would not have minded the idea of releasing the film in IMAX 70mm. Sure, “Solo” didn’t do as well as they would have hoped, but based on how that is a film that not many audiences asked for in the first place, added onto the prior success of films that came before it, they wouldn’t mind releasing the film in an IMAX 70mm format. They’re making more money with the Skywalker films compared to the spinoffs, and let’s face it, audiences care about Rey, they care about Kylo, they care about Chewie, they care about Lando, they care about BB-8. The praise is there, the studio just has to make a decision. Another factor to consider is the transition to go back to how Disney originally released these types of films. Specifically, by doing so in December. This is a good strategy because people are home for the holidays, kids are on break, and with a bunch of Oscar-bait films competing against each other, this blockbuster has a significant chance of standing out.

Do I want to see a reality where we get the opportunity to go check out “The Rise of Skywalker” in IMAX 70mm? I would, but I know it’s not certain. Given my clustered knowledge of how this movie is being shot, I don’t know if it is being shot in the IMAX format, but even if it isn’t, I would be willing to show up for an IMAX 70mm presentation simply because it is the clearest picture in existence. And… Disney, if you are planning on releasing this in IMAX 70mm… PLEASE… Consider releasing it at the Providence Place IMAX. It’s one of the closest true IMAX venues to my house, and one of the best theaters I have ever been to. I will flock there immediately if you release your film there in this specified format.

Am I being an obsessive nerd about this? Probably. Do I care? Hell no! In fact, with all statistics being considered, it makes me worried for the future of how IMAX movies are presented. Yes, we are likely getting Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” in IMAX 70mm next year, but are we simply doing so because it’s a Christopher Nolan film? Is it because of the director’s power in the industry? He’s my favorite director working today, but it’s still a question I can’t help but ask! “Star Wars” is a big franchise. And this latest film is seemingly shot in a big resolution. So why not let us as an audience look at the big picture?

YUP. PUN ABSOLUTELY INTENDED.

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” hits theaters December 20th, 2019. I am looking forward (although I am also slightly apprehensive) to seeing how this sequel trilogy will conclude. I do have faith in J.J. Abrams, especially after the excellent job he did with “The Force Awakens.” It also seems inevitable that I am going to see the movie on opening night, even if I get access to a press screening before the movie hits theaters everywhere. As for IMAX, I don’t care what you do with this movie. If it is shot in your format, release it in 70mm. But based on the popularity of this franchise, consider that sort of release even if this movie was shot in a smaller format. What will happen? I don’t know, only time will tell! Thanks for reading this post! I just want to remind everyone that next week starts the second half of 2019, so I will be creating a mega-post containing a halftime report and a glimpse into the future of Scene Before. Be sure to look forward to that! Also, stay tuned for my second trailer of “Project 2020.” If you have seen one of my posts back in April, you know what I am talking about. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, do you have any thoughts on this “Rise of Skywalker” in IMAX 70mm matter? Or am I just batcrap crazy? Also, are you looking forward to “The Rise of Skywalker?” Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!