Thor: Love and Thunder (2022): Taika Waititi’s Second, and Slightly Less Worthy, Thor Outing

“Thor: Love and Thunder” is directed by Taika Waititi, who also directed the franchise’s previous installment, “Thor: Ragnarok.” This film stars Chris Hemsworth (Men in Black: International, Rush), Christian Bale (Ford v Ferrari, Batman Begins), Tessa Thompson (Men in Black: International, Annihilation), Jaimie Alexander (Nurse Jackie, Blindspot), Taika Waititi, Russell Crowe (Gladiator, Cinderella Man), and Natalie Portman (Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, V For Vendetta). This is the fourth installment to the “Thor” franchise, the 29th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the first instance where a character in said universe gets a fourth standalone movie. In this… THORth installment, Thor reunites with Jane Foster, who is now worthy. The two join forces with Valkyrie and Korg to defeat Gorr the God Butcher, a white being whose aspiration is literally in his namesake, the widespread elimination of all gods.

MCU phase 4 is like having a demanding girlfriend. You love her, but you also want to get away from her. Although when you think you are about to leave, you just keep coming back because you cannot see yourself attached to something else. I am not saying I hate the MCU right now. I thoroughly enjoy the MCU, but as I’ve said in my reviews for “Black Widow” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” the whole universe, while still entertaining, is almost homework in disguise. When I was watching “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” I had fun, but I felt like I was being tested on how much I remembered “WandaVision.” You could almost make an argument that “Spider-Man: No Way Home” tests your memory on seven different “Spider-Man” movies at once across three different universes. To be fair though, I am not of this demographic, but I would imagine the general audience would not need to watch all of those other shows and movies in order to understand what comes after. However, their experience would only be enhanced if they did.

There is a notable audience that tends to enjoy “Thor: Ragnarok.” I consider myself a fan of the film after a couple watches. It is not up there with the original “Thor,” but anything is better than “Thor: The Dark World.” If you liked “Thor: Ragnarok,” there is a solid chance you might find joy in “Thor: Love and Thunder.” This should not come as a surprise, as Taika Waititi helmed both pictures.

Waititi may be most responsible for Thor’s current success. If we did not have “Ragnarok,” his arc in followup “Avengers” titles “Infinity War” and “Endgame” may have slightly less meaning. But the best thing about his storytelling abilities is his tendency to perfectly balance light and darkness. I saw “Thor: Love and Thunder” with my dad. When we walked out of the theater, he affirmed, grinningly, that the movie had “something for everyone.” He may be right. After all, this film has comedy, action, drama, and even horror. Without going into specifics, Christian Bale is, on occasion, utterly terrifying as Gorr the God Butcher. The MCU is often criticized for its lackluster antagonists, and phase 4 is no exception to the rule with Taskmaster from “Black Widow” being a prime example of how movies are only as good as their villains. Gorr the God Butcher is not quite Thanos, and if we are judging “Thor” villains, I even think I have a softer spot for Hela in “Ragnarok.” But when you take a character like Christian Bale’s Gorr the God Butcher and place him in a story where Zeus strips gods in public and threatens others by not allowing them to come to an orgy, it is an odd combination. But somehow they make it work.

Speaking of things that work, let’s talk about Chris Hemsworth as Thor. While it took awhile for me to warm up to Thor kind of being the butt of a joke sometimes, I have come to learn that Chris Hemsworth has tremendous comedic chops. Even when the script does him no favors like in “Ghostbusters” (2016), he still manages to give the performance his all. He will practically do anything to make the character of Thor come off as fun. It’s almost like what they are trying to do with Aquaman in the DCEU where he has a somewhat godly presence, but at the end of the day, you might want to flock to the bar with him. It is why I consider Party Thor to be one of the standout characters in the Disney+ series “What If…?”. At the same time though, this movie can be used as an example in regard to jokes going too far. And I do not mean offensive, I mean the joke tries too hard or it goes on longer than it should.

This movie has some weird, but also simultaneously hypnotizing comedy gags. Thor literally talks to his weapons. There’s even a love triangle between them. Not what I would have written but… Okay. Jane Foster spends a portion of the film trying to come up with an epic one-liner that was somewhat hit or miss. There are these goats in the film that feel less like an attempt at comedy and more so a homage to outdated Internet memes. Sure, when they were first introduced, I laughed. But as the movie went along, they became progressively less funny.

One of the biggest surprises in “Thor: Love and Thunder” prior to its release was the return of the recently mentioned Jane Foster. Natalie Portman is a great actress between her work in movies like “Black Swan” and “Annihilation.” Despite the shortcomings of the dialogue, she also did her best in the “Star Wars” prequels. Speaking of shortcomings, one of the flaws of the first two “Thor” films is that her character did not have a ton to do. I liked her better than Kat Dennings’s character, most specifically in “Thor: The Dark World,” but nevertheless. Mostly, she was almost just there to be the love interest, and that was the character’s biggest service to the story. This time, she is an equal to Thor, or Mighty Thor, as she calls herself. That is, if Thor really is the Thor he once was in say “Thor: Ragnarok” or “Avengers: Infinity War,” because he has evolved, slowly but surely, into one of the MCU’s goto gags in recent years. When he was not fighting in “Avengers: Endgame,” the movie focuses on him in a dad bod, playing “Fortnite,” and drinking heavily. That movie’s humor adds substance to its story, much like some of the jokes in “Thor: Love and Thunder.” It is weird to think how much this character has tonally evolved since 2011.

“Thor: Love and Thunder” has some good humor here and there, but I think of all the Marvel Studios films so far, this is the one I think feels the most kiddy out of them all. It is weird to say because the film has a butt shot of Chris Hemsworth and an ongoing orgy-related threat, but this was one of the first times I can remember watching an MCU film and having it feel this much like a Saturday morning cartoon. I am not saying I did not experience Saturday morning cartoon vibes in the MCU before. “Thor: Ragnarok,” the “Spider-Man” movies, and “Guardians of the Galaxy” are all great examples of this vibe. But in the case of those films, the Saturday morning cartoon vibe, minus say “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” was presented more effectively, perhaps more maturely.

While this fourth “Thor” movie flashes back to its predecessors and revisits multiple characters across various stories, I can say that a notable positive I can give to “Thor: Love and Thunder” is that it does not require any prerequisites. You can go into this movie not having seen a single “Thor,” “Avengers,” or MCU installment and have a good time. Yes, the Guardians of the Galaxy show up, but it is not like they are going to test you on the complexities of Groot’s language or something. This is a contained story from start to finish and while it may be referenced later in the MCU, it does not come off as a tale told by gatekeepers. Ultimately, “Thor: Love and Thunder” may be the most stupid fun movie the MCU has given us so far.

If have to be real though, despite this movie being stupid fun, it kind of comes with a caveat. Before “Thor: Ragnarok” came out, the “Thor” movies were comparatively serious. They had their jokey moments. The first film is a fish out of water story that lends itself to tons of humor, and it worked. The second movie had many comedy attempts, but I can only recall one or two that stuck the landing. With “Ragnarok” and now “Love and Thunder,” we have Taika Waititi’s zany touch. I was not particularly fond of the humor in “Ragnarok” when I first saw it, but after rewatching the film, I warmed up to it. Therefore, during this movie, I was looking forward to seeing what the attempts at humor could be. Compared to “Ragnarok,” they’re a bit flat. Once again, some work, but the ones that do not happen to stand out. The goats were funny the first time, but maybe not the fifth or sixth time.

When I think of “Ragnarok,” certain hysterical moments come to mind. “Get help” is one of the funniest gags in recent action movies. The chemistry between Thor and Banner, Hulked up or not, is worthy of my attention. Stan Lee’s cameo where he cuts Thor’s hair is not only crucial to the plot, but gutbusting. So, what does Taika have in mind for this movie? A rock n’ roll-infused opening action sequence where Thor, almost egomaniacally, saves the day. There’s literally a moment where he stops two vehicles from running into him by doing a split. The image is still in my mind. In the moment, I thought that split was hilarious. But it also makes me realize how dramatic of a shift these movies have taken over the years. The first two movies are mature, with the original almost successfully capturing Shakespearean drama vibes. “Thor: Ragnarok,” while still having maturity in it, contains many comedy gags that nearly conflict with some of the movie’s darker moments. The same can be said for “Love and Thunder,” but the comedy is a bigger star than before.

Note how I said bigger, not better. There’s a difference.

“Thor: Love and Thunder” reminds me of “The Fate of the Furious.” I say so because like “Love and Thunder,” I had fun with “The Fate of the Furious,” but there is a certain amount of absurdity in that film that feels more leveled up than say “Fast Five” which jumped the shark, but was comparatively believable. “Thor: Ragnarok” was a ridiculous fun time with great humor and some logic-defying, but still entertaining moments. As the saying in Hollywood goes, bigger is better. Or is it? Because if you liked “Thor: Ragnarok,” chances are that this movie has twice the silliness. While laughter is the best medicine, this movie shows that comedic overdoses may be possible.

Before we dive into the final verdict, I want to talk about the visual effects of “Thor: Love and Thunder.” I am not going to dive into the recent news regarding visual effects employees struggling to work for Marvel. That is another issue, perhaps for another time. But on the surface, most of the visual effects in this film matches the recently mentioned Saturday morning cartoon vibe. Everything is bright, colorful, vivid, and sometimes gargantuan. I do want to note though that there have been some concerns about Marvel’s visual effects as of late in movies like “Black Widow.” I think if you are in the general audience, you might not care. I will admit, it has been awhile since I have seen “Black Widow” to give a detailed comment. However, I remember some of the effects in that film are surprisingly inferior to say “Captain America: Civil War,” which came out five years before. “Thor: Love and Thunder,” for the most part, looks great. But as far as “Thor” movies go, it might be the worst looking one yet if you pinpoint select shots.

While I said I will not dive too deep into the struggles of working in visual effects, I think we are seeing a sign that the MCU is becoming too crowded and overstuffed with content. I am enjoying phase 4 of the MCU. I have yet to see a completely terrible film. One or two series were hit or miss, but others were good. “WandaVision” was a fantastic debut for the MCU on Disney+, and “Ms. Marvel” was also really charming. The MCU has so many shows and movies now that it also has so many deadlines to consider. This year we have already seen two shows that ran for six-episodes and a couple movies. That is a lot of work, and it is not over yet because “She-Hulk” quickly approaching to Disney+ and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is scheduled to hit theaters this fall. I had fun with “Thor: Love and Thunder,” but by the standards of the MCU, this is not as good as I would hope for. Although the MCU has its occasional off day with movies like “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” or “Ant-Man and the Wasp.” I just hope this is a slight bump in the road. But the MCU also did not have this much content going on at once at those times. I know some would disagree, but I would happily sacrifice all the upcoming Disney+ shows if it meant we were going to get a few consistently great MCU movies. I am sure Marvel has a plan, but is it too big of a plan? I hope not. But my worry is that the further along we go down the MCU timeline, the more signs we will get that this whole conveyer belt will unveil itself. Let’s hope that this does not happen.

In the end, “Thor: Love and Thunder” was good, but it is also my least favorite film of MCU’s phase 4. While not the worst of the “Thor” films, “Love and Thunder” nevertheless fails on arguably the same mission in which “Ragnarok” succeeded. Sure, there were a couple laughs here and there, and as far as “summer blockbusters” go, you could do far worse. Just look at “Jurassic World: Dominion.” Although “Love and Thunder” has quite a few negatives that stand out significantly. Natalie Portman was badass enough that I might want to buy a Mighty Thor Hot Toy. But I just wish I could see more of her. I wish I could have seen more of Gorr the God Butcher. This is one of the shortest Marvel movies yet, which could be beneficial to your bladder, but that’s were the benefits stop. Overall, the film feels rushed. I heard they shot some extra footage that never made it into the film, and Taika Waititi does not want to make an alternate cut with said footage, but for all I know, that could give some much needed fleshing out to certain aspects of the story. I would never want to put pressure on a filmmaker into making something they do not want to make, but as a viewer, I would be intrigued to see some of what I originally couldn’t see in some fashion. Maybe as a Blu-ray bonus feature. I am going to give “Thor: Love and Thunder” a 6/10.

“Thor: Love and Thunder” is now playing in theaters including large formats like IMAX and Dolby Cinema. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed my review for “Thor: Love and Thunder,” then be on the lookout because I have more reviews coming soon! Stay tuned for my thoughts on “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank” and “The Gray Man.” If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Thor: Love and Thunder?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite of the “Thor” movies? I’m a purist, I would have to go with the 2011 “Thor” directed by Kenneth Branagh. Leave your opinions down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Lightyear (2022): Star Wars Meets a Family Friendly Interstellar in This Beautifully Animated Pixar Spinoff

“Lightyear” is directed by Angus MacLane, a Pixar insider who has helmed multiple animated shorts and made his feature-length debut with 2016’s “Finding Dory.” That feature, by the way, is frankly better than its Nemo-centric predecessor. There is no changing my mind. “Lightyear” stars Chris Evans as the titular space ranger, providing for a fresh take on the iconic role once helmed by Tim Allen (Last Man Standing, Home Improvement). Joining Evans is a cast including Keke Palmer (Scream Queens, Hustlers), Peter Sohn (Ratatouille, Monsters University), James Brolin (Westworld, The Amityville Horror), Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, Jojo Rabbit), Dale Soules (Orange is the New Black, The Messenger), Mary McDonald-Lewis (G.I. Joe, Archer), Efren Ramirez (Crank, Napoleon Dynamite), and Isiah Whitlock Jr. (Your Honor, The Wire) in a spinoff to the “Toy Story” universe… Sort of.

“Lightyear” is a film that Andy, a character known in “Toy Story” lore, loved as a child. It was his favorite movie, and therefore, we find out the reason why he has a Buzz Lightyear toy is because of this movie. Andy’s favorite movie, which is what we, the audience, are treated to, is about a young Buzz Lightyear trying to find a way to get his crew home after being stranded on a planet for an extended period. Turns out time is not the only enemy in Buzz’s path as he must survive against an army of robots commanded by Zurg.

Pixar is the pinnacle of animation today. I genuinely look forward to just about everything they do, even though most of their marketing campaigns do not sit well with me. But in the end, it is about the movie. Similar to the cliché saying that it is not about the outside, but the inside, Pixar proves that it is not all about the trailers for their films, which usually are unmemorable or do not prompt enough reason for me to watch them, but instead the films that were previously advertised, which are sometimes masterpieces. “Inside Out” to this day is one of the few movies that made my eyes water. “The Incredibles” is an action-packed, thrilling adventure that is secretly the best on-screen adaptation of “Fantastic Four.” “Cars” is fun, colorful, exciting, and has a wonderful soundtrack. The Pixar library is one of the best in film history, animated or not. This is why I was worried, years ago, when I found out we would be getting a “Toy Story 4.”

Despite my apprehension, “Toy Story 4” turned out to be an entertaining, joyful movie that not only presents itself as a surprisingly welcome addition to the franchise, but shows that Pixar can present some of the most realistic-looking animation ever put to screen. There is a scene with a cat from “Toy Story 4” that I continue to ponder over to this day…

Now we have “Lightyear,” which is not exactly a “Toy Story 5,” but a fictional universe within another fictional universe. I will admit, as desperate of an idea as it may sound, I like the concept. Because in our world, we have our beloved stories. In the science fiction genre, “Star Wars,” “Star Trek,” and “Back to the Future” are some of the first examples that come to mind. This movie begs the question, supposing that a movie such as “Star Wars” does not exist in the “Toy Story” universe, “What is Andy’s ‘Star Wars’?”

Like the opening text suggests, this is that movie.

But just because Andy likes this movie, does not mean I will. So, what did I think of “Lightyear?”

You know how I mentioned that Pixar often flubs its trailers or makes them less appealing than others? Here is a crazy coincidence, I thought the trailers for “Lightyear” are easily the best Pixar has ever done. I thought their goal with the movie was clear, the footage we got with SOX was charming, and the space scenes looked gritty and eye-popping. Unfortunately, for Pixar standards, this is towards the lower tier.

Now, this is not as bad as “Luca,” but I thought Pixar’s previous outing, “Turning Red,” was a bit better. I think part of it has to do with the unique, dynamic nature of the film that I have not seen in any other Pixar story before. “Lightyear” feels like it blends the vibes of “Wall-E” with “Star Wars” and “Interstellar.” Some of you reading this likely know who I am, and think I am going crazy. I adore “Wall-E,” I love “Star Wars,” and if I could legally marry a movie, “Interstellar” would probably be getting the ring.

I will say the same thing about “Lightyear” that I said in regard to “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” a movie that heavily relies on inserting crossovers and references to the Warner Bros. library. One difference between “A New Legacy” and “Lightyear” is that “Lightyear” is a completely watchable, entertaining film. Imagine that! But one thing I will note about “Lightyear,” even though it is nowhere near as obvious, is that it seemingly pays tribute to other stories, most notably “Star Wars.” The relationship between Buzz Lightyear and Zurg in this film is almost reminiscent of Luke and Vader in “Star Wars” at times. Although that does make sense because if you watch “Toy Story 2,” there is a scene in that film with the toy versions of the characters that is almost done in the same style as a key scene from “The Empire Strikes Back.” With that in mind, I would rather watch Luke and Vader duke it out in “Empire” than watch any of the scenes between Buzz and Zurg in “Lightyear.”

Let’s talk about Chris Evans as Buzz Lightyear. I have mad respect for Evans as an actor, because in one moment he can carry a blockbuster in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and in the other, he can come off as the most delightfully charming of morons in “Knives Out.” Evans has unbelievable range as an actor, so I was excited to see what he could do as the Buzz Lightyear character. Yes, I know that this technically means that Tim Allen is not voicing Buzz Lightyear, but let me remind you that this is not the Buzz Lightyear toy and instead, a man that inspired the toy. Evans’s raspy voice fits the character and is proper enough to make him come off as this universe’s Han Solo. Again, this is basically “Star Wars.” This movie pictures Buzz as a determined, manly, roguish individual who will not stop until he “finishes the mission.”

As suggested in the title, “Lightyear” is essentially a family friendlier take on Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar.” While not as complex, the science fiction angle tends to border between realistic and fantastical. It’s believable, but it also makes us wonder what undiscovered portions of our own universe could look like. Plus, the concept of “Interstellar” involves one man trying to find a new home for humanity. The reverse is happening in “Lightyear” where one man tries to get people back to where they personally call home. And much like “Interstellar,” this movie has a somewhat mixed cast of sidekicks, including robots.

Once we get into the meat of the film, we meet a set of sidekicks who may talk a good game but when it comes to action, that is lackluster in comparison. I like this concept, partially because it is relatable, but I also dislike it. I will start with the dislikes first, because they are not as in depth.

The sidekick characters of “Lightyear” are at times, some of the most annoying, disposable characters ever created in Pixar history. As much as I like Taika Waititi, the writing for his character of Mo Morrison (top left) ranges from stupid to cringeworthy. Sometimes both. I have nothing against Waititi himself, he took the words written on the page and portrayed them as accurately as he could, but his character was written in such a way that could have made him a lovable idiot, but given the context of certain things, I do not think “lovable” would be the right adjective to use here. The movie “Lightyear” convinced Andy in the “Toy Story” universe to own a Buzz Lightyear toy. I can see why he probably begged his mom to buy a Buzz Lightyear toy instead of Mo Morrison or one of the other supporting characters. I have heard worse dialogue in my life, but here, it either feels cheap or annoying. Sometimes it works, but the times it did not work stuck out to me like a sore thumb.

With the negatives out of the way, I do want to talk about this idea that the movie goes for. “Lightyear” is a fun film, like many Pixar movies. But also like some Pixar movies, it could occasionally tug the heartstrings. There is a well-executed montage in this film that some would compare to the famous few minutes in “Up” where we witness the life of Carl and Ellie. It is some of the best editing I have seen all year. That is this film’s earliest example of showcasing the inevitability of failure. Many of us, including myself, have been through a portion of our lives where we question whether what we are doing is worth it. Whether we are good enough. Sometimes we do not have access to an opportunity, and in others, we do not even know where to start. I have taken one or two classes during my college years where these thoughts have come up.

Despite their slightly offish writing at times, I like the concept behind the characters of Izzy Hawthrone (bottom left), Mo Morrison, and Darby Steel (top right). They are flawed, but that is also what makes them work. Hawthorne spends much of the movie worrying about her legacy. How is she going to live up to her grandmother’s expectations? Mo Morrison never spills the beans on this, but he almost felt like this movie’s representation of the phrase “fake it until you make it.” You may not know something, you may not be good at something, but you might as well do that something until you know you can call yourself a master. Darby Steel’s main goal of the movie is to shave some time off of her sentence, and to do so, she needs to go on the mission with the rest of the crew. I like the idea of having these significantly unconfident, arguably incompetent, characters play major roles like the ones they do in the film. I just wish they were written or portrayed in a slightly less annoying manner. Although there was one recurring gag involving Mo Morrison with a pen that had its moments.

If I had to be honest, the best sidekick in the entire film is SOX (right), a robotic feline whose goal is to assist Lightyear with his various needs. This assertion should not come as much of a surprise. My favorite Pixar supporting character that comes to mind is also a common household pet, specifically Dug, the comic relief dog from “Up.” While SOX is no Dug, he does have his moments to shine in the spotlight. His writing feels logical for a typical robot character, but in robot speak, he somewhat reminded me of TARS from, again, “Interstellar.” While SOX in this case does not come with “humor settings,” he has some occasional lines that are not necessarily jokes that got a laugh out of me. It is nice when robots know what makes humans tick. He is wonderfully voiced by Peter Sohn, a talented voiceover artist who previously lent his utterances to Emile in “Ratatouille.”

This almost seems unfair, because “Lightyear” from start to finish, between the concept, execution, and everything in between, is practically a different movie than any of the “Toy Story” installments we have gotten. While “Lightyear” is by no means a bad film, it is no “Toy Story.” If I had to be real, I think even “Toy Story 4,” a film that like this one, I probably never asked for, is a better movie. I think the adventures of Buzz Lightyear, the toy, are more entertaining and joy-filled than “Lightyear.” It pains me to say that because this film reminded me of a couple great science fiction stories here and there, it had a couple halfway decent characters, the animation is some of the most stunning I have EVER seen. I think the best thing about this movie is that if you have young children and you want to give them a proper gateway into science fiction, “Lightyear” is a solid option before showing them movies like “Interstellar” or “Gravity.” But much like what I said with “The Empire Strikes Back,” I think I would rather watch the “Toy Story” films again on a Friday night before “Lightyear.”

I did see the film twice in the theater, but it was partially because I wanted to see how they handled the supersized 1.43:1 IMAX aspect ratio, which I can confirm made the film pop like few others. I liked the film enough to see it a second time for that, but maybe not a third time.

In the end, “Lightyear” is a decent science fiction movie, but for the standards of Pixar, I would put this with “Onward,” which is not a bad film. But for the standards of a studio as incredible as Pixar, that is not the best comparison to make. To shoot for “Onward” is not enough for them. Pixar genuinely makes some of the best animated movies, but this is not enough to join the greats. Although I will remind you, there are many studios out there, many filmmakers out there, that would kill to make a movie as good as a lower tier Pixar film. I still have yet to see a flat out awful movie from the studio. Hopefully that day never comes. I have faith. “Lightyear” is definitely worth seeing in the theater, especially in IMAX. The spectacle is insane. There are some truly colorful, vivid, detailed scenes that will definitely drop jaws. Although I left the film thinking to myself that I should probably rewatch a couple other films instead of this one. I am going to give “Lightyear” a 7/10.

“Lightyear” is now playing in theatres everywhere, and do yourself a favor, if there is a true IMAX theater near you, buy a ticket for “Lightyear” and go watch it in that theater. Major shoutout to the Jordan’s Furniture in Reading, Massachusetts and their amazing laser projection system for providing me with an epic movie experience. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed this review, check out some of my other ones! This month I did reviews for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” and “Hustle.” If you want to stick with the “Lightyear” theme, check out my thoughts for “Toy Story 4.” My thoughts have admittedly changed on the film a little since my review, but if you want to check out my first impression, here you go! If you are interested in long-form content, check out a recent five-thousand word post I did on why I cannot stop watching “Belle,” the new anime directed by Mamoru Hosoda. If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Lightyear?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite science fiction movie of all time? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Free Guy (2021): Grand Theft Awesome

“Free Guy” is directed by Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum, Real Steel) and stars Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, The Proposal), Jodie Comer (Killing Eve, The White Princess), Lil Rel Howrey (Uncle Drew, The Carmichael Show), Utkarsh Ambudkar (The Mindy Project, The Muppets), Joe Keery (Stranger Things, Chicago Fire), and Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, Jojo Rabbit). This film is primarily set in Free City, a massive sandbox video game where players can control characters through a massive city and go on missions. Guy, an NPC (non-playable character), discovers the secrets of the game and breaks the rules of his own character. While he is typically a bank teller who often finds himself in the middle of a robbery, he gets bored of doing the same thing over and over again and decides to level up his life while also trying to win the girl of his dreams.

I love Ryan Reynolds. The word “movie star” does not have as big of an impact as it may have years ago with faces including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Will Smith dominating the big screen with their blockbuster titles. There are a few big “movie stars” that have risen to astronomical heights over the years including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and others who have maintained their fame for years including Tom Cruise. When it comes to the conversation of which actor is currently the biggest star in the world, Ryan Reynolds has to be in the conversation every single time. He is one of Canada’s finest exports and adds a flair to every movie he’s in. This even includes ones I don’t like such as “The Croods” or “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.”

The concept of “Free Guy” by itself, where a video game NPC increasingly gains a sense of consciousness and humanity, is already one that could be considered a recipe for greatness. But if you put Ryan Reynolds into the picture, you’ve taken a great movie and bumped up its power by five times. This is a film that had a bumpy road in terms of its marketing. In fact I think the best trailer we got of the film was in 2019 when it made fun of Disney for putting out its animated titles in live-action form. I thought it was genius because it sounded like humor that would associate with Ryan Reynolds, especially considering how he has dominated the meta humor concept with a film like “Deadpool” and its sequel. The trailers after weren’t bad, but they did not live up to the original for me. Although there was a great piece of marketing that had Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool sitting next to Korg (Taika Waititi) doing what could only be a parody of a YouTube trailer reaction video. I was excited for this film despite the mixed road to get to the official release. And I say that even without acknowledging the ongoing pandemic, not that it should be forgotten.

What did I think of “Free Guy?”

Simply put, I had a lot of fun with “Free Guy.” When it comes to movies set in a video game universe, I think “Ready Player One,” which “Free Guy” reminded me of at times and is coincidentally also written by Zak Penn, is a slightly better film. But “Free Guy” takes a cool concept and gives it a smooth execution in the end. And I should not be surprised that this film is as good as it is. Because director Shawn Levy, whose recent projects include Paramount’s “Arrival” and Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” is a master at creating a film for everyone. One of my favorite films from my childhood is “Night at the Museum.” It is a film that does not exactly feel like it is being targeted at kids, but when it comes to both titles, many children could watch the film, understand much of what is going on, and appreciate everything in front of them. At the same time, adults could watch this film and have a great time with it. The first two films in that particular franchise have been a cornerstone of movie nights in my family. To see Levy do a movie like this does not surprise me, and if anything else, it pleases me.

For starters, it is an original idea, which in terms of blockbusters, feel very few and far between. In fact, this is technically the first Disney original live action film in years (technically because 20th Century Fox made it). I just love seeing creative, never before seen ideas come to life and “Free Guy” is a fine example of that.

Also, if the last couple decades have proven anything, people love video games, including me. Much of my childhood has been spent pushing the buttons on my Nintendo devices, so the idea of this film has a special place in my heart. I find it fascinating that this movie chooses to focus on someone who could be anyone and have them evolve. We look nowadays at video game NPCs as tools to let the player do their thing. But to have what is technically a tool sprout into something more is flat out fascinating. Yeah, it kind of feels like that cliche idea that “anyone’s special,” which as Dash from “The Incredibles,” would suggest, “which is another way of saying no one is.” It’s a cliche idea, but it is brought to life through something incredibly creative in addition to Ryan Reynolds’s terrific encapsulation of Guy.

One thing I’ve always noticed while I play a video game is that when you go by NPCs, they’ll often spew the same things out of their mouth over and over. A big part of that is because they’re portrayed by a certain actor, and actors will record a limited number of lines for a certain character, therefore they can only do so much. Therefore, NPCs are usually one-dimensional, do not have much personality, and are often in the background. In the case of Guy, I think Ryan Reynolds did a good job at making the character not feel flat or putting him in a sphere that makes his personality limited. In fact, Reynolds brings a sense of hyperactivity to his character despite him having a life that most would consider boring. Guy is a banker who drinks the same cup of coffee every day and says good morning to his goldfish by his bedside. This is an everyday routine for him, but he seems to accept it because he’s programmed that way.

Now I like Taika Waititi, but I think “Free Guy” has only increased the chances of me wanting to get together with the dude for lunch. You know how a lot of films directed towards young audiences will have an over the top villain? Taika Waititi’s character of Antwan almost seems to find himself within the confines of that description. Not that this movie is specifically for children, but nevertheless. In a lot of cases, this could be a turnoff because then the film could become a live-action cartoon, but not in “Free Guy!” If anything, Waititi’s performance is an utter enhancement in this film. The mixture of his lines and hyped up antics arguably makes him the best character of the movie. It kind of reminds me of another film Shawn Levy directed, “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian,” because that film’s villain was Kahmunrah, and he was perhaps written and presented in such a way that could arguably make him cartoony, but it was presented in such a way where Levy and actor Hank Azaria seemed to embrace the silly that the script listed. As far as “Free Guy” is concerned, Taika Waititi plays a guy who might as well be jacked up on Red Bull all the time and does not seem to care much about others. As far as I’m concerned, I love the execution of this character, and I almost wonder if part of why it worked so well was because of the casting. I cannot imagine anyone other than Waititi playing Antwan at this point.

Without spoilers, the climax of “Free Guy” is a thing of beauty. The film just goes straight into becoming “Garry’s Mod” of all things. There’s some stuff in this climax that I had almost zero warning about going into it, and I think if you want to have the same reaction, do everything you can to avoid any online discussion about the end of the film. It is in a word, “epic.”

If I had any problems with “Free Guy” it would be that the film does get into some impractical nonsense by the end that comes off more or less as a plot convenience more than anything else. It is not a humungous turnoff as the rest of the film is nicely structured but there’s one moment towards the end that feels jumbled in terms of execution, and it’s a pretty important one. Maybe in the script, it sounds more coherent, but in the final product, it sounds kind of… pun intended, pixelated. It’s kind of sad considering the impact the moment was trying to deliver, but for some reason, they could not stick the landing.

This one moment does not take much away from the literal joy I achieved from watching “Free Guy.” “Free Guy” is a crazy, fun adventure. I love the setting, I love the idea, I love how it seems to have fun with our modern video game culture and how much of a cash cow it has become in addition to being heavy entertainment. I left this movie wanting more. I want to see more of Guy, Molotov Girl, Buddy, all the characters in this film were utter delights. I legit think that this is a movie that anyone could watch and enjoy. I sometimes go to see movies with my mom, and most of the movies I see with her are ones that usually are not action heavy or horror heavy. Despite the action heaviness of “Free Guy,” I legit think that this is a movie that my mother could put on and have a ball with despite some things being there that she may not usually tend to see on screen. If you like action, you’ll definitely like this movie, but the crew behind “Free Guy,” whether they intended to or not, did a really good job at creating something that a lot of people could find themselves attached to, even if it wasn’t specifically made for them. In that sort of way, I highly recommend “Free Guy” to anyone reading this and their friends.

In the end, “Free Guy” may solidify Ryan Reynolds as one of the finest Canadians to ever live and the film itself is easily one of my favorites of the year. Disney did not release this film on streaming. Granted, I do not know if they could have contractually, 20th Century Fox movies still go straight to HBO months after release. But from everything I’ve read, Disney practically had all the faith in the world given towards this movie. Based on what has been created, “Free Guy” has massive franchise potential. Heck, I could see this thing becoming a Disney ride at some point. The film is immersive, fun, bonkers, and just a straight up good time. “Free Guy” by the way is set in two different places. The real world and the game of “Free City.” to my surprise, the stuff that happens in the real world has the same level of intrigue as everything that happens in the world of “Free City.” To have the escape be as interesting as the world from which people are trying to escape is definitely pleasing. I’m going to give “Free Guy” an 8/10.

Also, if you need another reason to see this movie, you’ll get to see Alex Trebek one last time. Seeing him on screen brought a smile to my face and I am sure it will for many other viewers as well.

“Free Guy” is now playing exclusively in theaters and IMAX. Get your tickets now!

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that on Monday, August 23rd, I will be sharing my thoughts on “Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation.” The film is not as often talked about as the original, partially because it was made for television. But I am here to talk about it as we dive deeper into my ongoing review series, “Revenge of the Nerds: Nerds in Review” as we celebrate Scene Before’s fifth anniversary. And speaking of reviews, be sure to stay tuned for my review of “Don’t Breathe 2.” I just saw the film last night and I intend to talk about it soon. If you want to read all this and more on Scene Before, be sure to follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Free Guy?” What did you think about it? Or, if you could put yourself in the universe of any video game, which one would it be? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Jojo Rabbit (2019): Hitler Can Be Fun

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“Jojo Rabbit” is directed by Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, The Hunt For the Wilderpeople), who also plays the character of Adolf Hitler in this movie. Alongside Waititi, the film stars Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Scarlett Johansson, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant, Alfie Allen, and Sam Rockwell. This film is about a young boy living in Nazi Germany by the name of Jojo. We see him at the start of the movie, trying to become part of Hitler’s force. However, he is eventually revealed to be wimpy compared to those around him, which partially inspires the titular nickname “Jojo Rabbit.” The film also explores Jojo’s life at home, when he eventually finds himself in a situation where he is living with an enemy of many Nazi Germans, a Jew.

I have not seen much of Taika Waititi’s work. Admittedly, as much as it makes me look like a bad moviegoer, the only film of his (specifically, the ones he hasn’t had an acting role in) I managed to see happens to be “Thor: Ragnarok.” Judging from that, Waititi definitely has his own style when it comes to his movies. Granted, judging from the fact that “Thor: Ragnarok” is a Marvel movie, it follows a lot of the beats to fulfill the requirements of what makes one of those films possible. If you ask me, I think “Thor: Ragnarok” is almost the most overrated Marvel movie. It’s good, but I really think they should have toned down on the humor, and the vibe should have fit with a lot of the dark ideas the movie seemed to have going for it. I mean, THE CITY OF ASGARD IS IN DEEP S*IT! Now that “Ragnarok” is in the past, Waititi went on to direct this film, which if I had to be honest, is better than “Thor: Ragnarok.”

Now that I had a week to think about “Jojo Rabbit,” I just realized that this film and “Ragnarok” manage to have something kinda sorta in common that I could not quite grasp at first. Both of them feel like parodies. Granted, “Jojo Rabbit” IS a parody, but that’s not the point. When I watched “Thor: Ragnarok,” I was not able to appreciate the humor that they were trying to hammer inside my head. I thought it was quite unnecessary. But there are various parts of “Thor: Ragnarok,” and I won’t get into them, that might as well be part of a rather effective big budget “Saturday Night Live” sketch. I have not gone back into the past to view Waititi’s earlier work, but it does make me curious as to what he has up his sleeve in the future. How far will he go with the humor? If he goes on to direct “Thor: Love and Thunder,” is he going to make it a pure comedy? I don’t know, but it would at least be interesting to see.

And speaking of long, deep thoughts, this movie managed to do something quite extraordinary and rather unexpected. Once again, this is a parody film. Keep that in mind. But Nazism is one of the most serious subjects that one could talk about or put in a motion picture. As someone who knows the Nazis were objectively evil, I cannot help but point out that this film made Nazis look fun. Based on pure entertainment value, I wouldn’t say that’s an entirely bad thing. I don’t mean any offense when I say this, but between Hitler, a book burning scene, and a few funny moments here and there, “Jojo Rabbit” managed to surprise me immensely.

Keep in mind, for those of you who are thinking this movie is about Hitler, guess what? It’s not. Adolf Hitler in this movie plays an important role, but if you are expecting this to be a movie about Hitler, you MIGHT be disappointed. Personally, the real concept behind this movie is one that I would love to shout from the rooftops. As mentioned, this movie is about a young kid, who goes by the name Jojo. There are various scenes in the film where Hitler appears, but each time, it’s all a figment of Jojo’s imagination. Basically, Adolf Hitler in this film is Jojo’s imaginary friend.

AWESOME.

Staying on the topic of Hitler, Taika Waititi does a really good job at playing him. The movie also somehow did a good job at making him a charming, relatable character. One of the first scenes where I see him talking to Jojo, he talks about how people made fun of him in the past. He then advises Jojo to “Be the rabbit,” which is a suggestion to take a nickname that is seemingly derogatory, but use it to make yourself a better human being.

I will also say that the kid who plays Jojo, otherwise known as Roman Griffin Davis, did a pretty good job. For the record, as I write this review, I have looked at both his Wikipedia page and his IMDb page. According to both sources, “Jojo Rabbit” is the dude’s only acting credit. The only other piece of media, at least according to IMDb, featuring Roman Griffin Davis in some way, shape, or form is an episode of “Entertainment Tonight Canada.” I am not sure how much training or practice Jojo had before taking on this film, but for a first time performance, this was nothing short of a job well done. Personally, despite being a actor of his particular experience level and age range, this didn’t feel like a first time performance, which may be the best compliment I can give.

Overall, the cast of “Jojo Rabbit” completely stands out in the best possible way. Again, I mentioned that despite the evils of Nazism, certain elements of the film made it look like a party, which made the final product particularly interesting. This is why I liked the performance from Rebel Wilson’s character, which I’m glad to say because if you know me in real life, I am not that big of a fan of her. To be honest, her acting job in “Jojo Rabbit” may be the first likable performance I have seen from her. This may be the first movie I liked featuring her too. “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” comes close, but it just misses the mark.

I think one of the best parts of the movie, even though it ended up going in a direction I did not think it was going to go, is the screenplay. When I saw this film being marketed, I thought it was going to be a full-on satire. Imagine “Spaceballs” but with Nazis. And in a way, I kind of got that, the movie wasn’t as funny as I was originally anticipating it to be. That’s a small problem of mine, but the movie also has a serious plot to it that I can kind of get behind. There is a scene, about two thirds of the way through the movie, that has an enormous amount of tension that I really dug. When I walked into “Jojo Rabbit” I was expecting to laugh myself to death. I cannot say I did that. Instead, this movie managed to bring a surprising smile to my face. I felt utterly alive.

In the end, I had a good old time with “Jojo Rabbit.” It’s probably not the gutbuster I was expecting it to be, but it is still a damn good couple of hours. This is a movie that manages to make Nazis look fun, while also reminding me of their evils and what terrible things they have done. The movie kind of concludes on a surprisingly less than pleasant note. I say that because this film starts out with a clear humorous vibe. It’s kind of wacky and silly overall. Is it perfect? I wouldn’t say so, there are some minor issues. But I think there is enough in the film for me to think to myself that I’d want to watch it again. I’m going to give “Jojo Rabbit” an 8/10. Thanks for reading this review! My next review is gonna be up very soon, which is for the new Amazon movie “Honey Boy.” I was just recently at a free screening at a local arthouse theater for the film, so I will have my thoughts on that very soon. Also, I just saw a new movie this weekend at my local IMAX, specifically James Mangold’s “Ford v Ferrari.” A review for that will soon hit the interwebs, and I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts on it. If you want to see my thoughts on either of these movies, or other content from the Movie Reviewing Moron, be sure to follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account! If you are on Facebook, be sure to check out my page and give it a like, it really helps me out! I want to know, did you see “Jojo Rabbit?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a movie that you went to see, not to mention liked, that you were expecting to be funny, but turned out to be serious? 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!

James Gunn FIRED From Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?! Who Should Replace Him?

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! I’ve got some very big movie news I want to go over very quickly here. When it comes to recent movies, a lot of people seem to think that Marvel has been killing it lately. With installments added to the Marvel Cinematic Universe such as “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Black Panther,” and “Avengers: Infinity War,” audiences have had something new from Marvel to rave about every few months. But something in particular could affect the future movies, mainly ones containing the “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

If you have watched “Guardians of the Galaxy” or “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” you may or may not be aware that a guy by the name of James Gunn wrote and directed both of those films. Some may say that “Guardians of the Galaxy” may be what it is as a movie because of James Gunn, so therefore a lot of people praise him. I can personally agree, it almost seems that he knows the style of the film and that really pops off the screen right into my eyes whenever I watch both installments. I may not have enjoyed the second installment, but the first one is definitely one of the better Marvel Cinematic Universe films.

Given the schedule of the MCU and success of both “Guardians of the Galaxy” installments, it just seems natural that the filmmaker suggested he was set to tackle a third installment in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise. He seems to have made progress on a script, recent talks between him and “Star Wars” god Mark Hamill got fans wondering if he would be taking on a role in the upcoming film, everything seemed to be going according to plan. That is… until July 20th, 2018.

It has now become apparent that James Gunn has made some controversial jokes on his Twitter account. Some of these older tweets were reported by Fox News, which to me is false advertising, because there are rarely any foxes on Fox News. You think CNN is fake news? At least their name is accurate! They’re a cable news channel! Fox News may call itself what it wants, but the day they get a bunch of foxes running around the studio would be the day that they’d win the Internet! Anyway, Fox News reported some of these tweets, eventually earning Disney’s attention. Once Disney’s attention had been earned, they severed their business relationship with James Gunn.

Now we are in a bit of a sticky situation here, because there are two sides to this very story that I can personally get. Some of you may be expecting me to say, THAT JAMES GUNN IS A F*CKING CREEP! HE DESERVES NOTHING! And trust me, now that this has been brought to my attention, I’m on your side. If this means that James Gunn is actually a pedophile (which I highly doubt), then wow! As much as I appreciate dark humor, I can personally understand why some people would be offended or upset by this. If these tweets were maybe put in a movie script for a dark comedy then maybe I’d appreciate this just a little more, but this is real life, where there are consequences for actions such as this. But there’s also another hand that really makes me wonder what the future for “Guardians of the Galaxy” will truly be. Gunn has basically made the franchise his own and he seems to have a particular sense of style that can not only be closely associated with himself, but the “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise. Having seen this, I seriously wonder if this situation has a bigger impact on moviegoers than say Mel Gibson’s controversy. Granted I was only ten years old when he made that rude remark towards his girlfriend. I think this may be bigger because I imagine some kids may look up to James Gunn or really appreciate the “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise, and it’s part of a big and relevant cinematic universe that gets brought up in conversation somewhere every single day now. Then again, let me just say, kids probably look up to James Gunn. They may not know who he is, but maybe without even knowing it, they look up to him. It wouldn’t be pretty for a kid to find out that their idol has been making rape jokes.

Plus, this has a bigger impact on me than a recent Disney affiliated firing that occurred. Some of you may know, FOR SOME REASON, they brought back “Roseanne,” with the forever lazy tagline “Same cast. New episodes.” Just a couple of months after the show started its revival season on ABC, the show’s star, Roseanne Barr, goes on Twitter and spits out a bunch of mumbo jumbo towards a senior advisor to former US President Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett. This tweet ended up being controversial, and ABC therefore canceled “Roseanne,” which is something I’ve been asking them to do with “The Bachelor” for a very long time but apparently they won’t listen! Nevertheless, “Roseanne” was pulled off of ABC’s schedule, and any content related to it has been removed from the ABC website. The thing about “Roseanne’s” cancellation however is that I was never a fan of “Roseanne” to begin with. One of the first thoughts I had about “Roseanne” coming back to ABC was “Why?” Granted, once I saw the ratings for the premiere episode, I could kind of see the point, but still, why? “Guardians of the Galaxy” isn’t anywhere near my favorite movie of all time. I thought it was one of the better movies to have come out in 2014, I gave it a 9/10 when I reviewed it, and I thought it was a very fun time. Judging by that, you might as well say I find “Guardians of the Galaxy” a lot more amusing than “Roseanne.” Heck! I found “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” a lot more amusing than “Roseanne” and that says something!

I wouldn’t say Disney’s wrong for what they did, but at the same time, I imagine it could be a sacrifice in quality towards “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.” But, I will say, Disney, if you’re reading this, I will give a list of directors I think are qualified to helm “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” and for some of them, I’ll go into a bit of detail behind why I chose them.

  • Kay Cannon (Blockers, Pitch Perfect)
  • Alex Garland (Ex Machina, Annihilation)
  • Anthony & Joe Russo (Avengers: Infinity War, Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
  • Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, Hunt for the Wilderpeople)
  • Brad Brad (The Incredibles, Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol)

Starting my discussion portion of these directors, we have Kay Cannon. I’ve been exposed to some of this girl’s work. I saw “Pitch Perfect,” which personally I hated, I wasn’t really that fond of it for the attempts at humor coming off as typical Hollywood studio comedy jokes that you’ve seen before, and it just didn’t feel like anything I’d write home about. Although, that movie is probably not made for me, I’m definitely not in the target audience. There is one thing however that made me go from HATING Kay Cannon to LOVING Kay Cannon, and that is “Blockers!” Based on the trailers, “Blockers” looks like your typical studio comedy, although in this case it’s really trying to be the next “American Pie,” but I ended up loving it after seeing it in the theater because of how relatable it came off not only to me, but from what I imagine, a number of parents who have teenagers. And most of all, it was funny! Another thing to consider about “Blockers” is that Kay Cannon had to tie together all of these characters, all of their storylines, and give them all their own individual beginning, middle, and end. Cannon didn’t write the screenplay for the movie, but given the amount of characters that may be aruged as being the “main character” of the movie, she did a spectacular job with what was given to her. Given the size of the character list in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” she’s probably gonna have to deal with just as many storylines while simultaneously having to make sure all of the humor in the movie works. Plus, “Blockers” is Cannon’s only directing credit. Since that movie came out, I wanted to see more work from her, and this is a good opportunity.

Next up is Alex Garland. Thus far he has directed two films, “Ex Machina” and “Annihilation.” While both don’t really have as big of a budget as “Guardians of the Galaxy,” they have been well received by critics. I personally thought both weren’t at the tippity top of my movie ratings scale, but VERY HIGHLY ENJOYABLE. Just a few weeks ago, I went back and watched “Ex Machina” for the fourth time, it’s that good. I’ve seen “Annihilation” twice, and while I don’t think it’s the best movie ever, I thought it was conceptually and visually beautiful. I will say though, according to IMDb, Garland’s directorial debut, “Ex Machina,” has an estimated budget of $15 million, and his next film he directed, “Annihilation,” has an estimated budget of $40 million. If he takes on “Guardians 3,” you might as well consider those past two films stepping stones towards the big guns. Plus, both films, kind of like “Guardians,” are in the sci-fi genre, so if Garland does well with “Guardians 3,” he would have three well received sci-fi films.

Up next, we have Anthony and Joe Russo. While these two may be known to some as the creators of the situational comedies “Community” and “Arrested Development,” fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe know them as co-directors of three films in the series that have been currently released, and another that’s set for a release next year. To me, the Russo brothers have directed the two best MCU films to date, “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Captain America: Civil War.” Both films, kind of like “Blockers,” involved a ton of characters that could potentially clutter the film. Personally, the way both of them turned out were phenomenal to me. Plus, let me say again, these guys have already directed four MCU films, one of which hasn’t been released yet. In fact, two of them have the Guardians in it! So not only do they have experience with superhero movies, comic book movies, Marvel movies, films with a ton of characters, but also characters from the “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise! From what I know, none of the actors from the “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise seem to have any major gripes with either director, so maybe that will allow the experience of making “Guardians 3” to be somewhat of a breeze.

Another director who has already helmed a movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Taika Waititi, as much as I personally found “Thor: Ragnarok” enjoyable, I wasn’t afraid to criticize it. Can any of you guess what my main complaint with “Thor: Ragnarok” is?

Anyone?

Hello, anybody home? Think McFly, think!

The main problem I had with “Thor: Ragnarok” is that it’s too much like “Guardians of the Galaxy!” As much as audiences found the attempts at humor in “Thor: Ragnarok” to be hysterical, I was just sitting down thinking, this is not “Thor.” It’s just a weird change of pace towards his character and it’s kind of ridiculous. And maybe it’s not because of Taika Waititi. After all, he didn’t even have a writing credit on the film. In fact, what I think should be done is if the director “Guardians 3,” whoever it may be, doesn’t want to write the film, Marvel should try getting the trio that wrote “Thor: Ragnarok,” otherwise known as Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost to work on the script. This could be especially useful towards Alex Garland, because he doesn’t put much humor into his movies. Then again this is the same guy who had a writing credit on DMC: Devil May Cry, a video game with this exchange:

MUNDUS: I am Mundus.

DANTE: You’re an asshole!

Given the script of “Thor: Ragnarok,” Waititi’s direction must have worked well enough lead to this “Guardians of the Galaxy” wannabe, and if they really wanted to take “Thor: Ragnarok” and make it a “Guardians of the Galaxy” film, someone could have just told them, “Hey! Want to make ‘Guardians 3?'” Well, that movie is happening now, so now is this crew’s chance to take it on!

The last director suggestion I have listed here is Brad Bird. When it comes to animation, Brad Bird is probably my favorite director of all time. He’s done both “Incredibles” installments, “Ratatouille,” and “The Iron Giant.” If you ask me, if Brad Bird happened to work on the screenplay of the film, that would be great too, because I feel that Bird’s best films are ones that not only he directs, but also writes. As much as I liked “Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol,” that’s a film he directed, but didn’t write. One of my other comments towards Brad Bird that may sound odd, is that I feel he does better with animated movies than live action movies. While I will consider “Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol” and “Tomorrowland” solid movies, they’re not anywhere near masterpieces. Some of you may be questioning why I am saying this because “Guardians of the Galaxy” is live action. You’re right there, but another thing to consider is how much green screen that film has. It’s all on computerized backgrounds! Plus, Brad Bird seems to have a good relationship with Disney, having done multiple films with them, which is something that James Gunn apparently doesn’t have anymore.

Now before I close this off, I want to share a true story with all of you. James Gunn is not exactly my favorite director, however I do find him to be one of the bigger standouts when it comes to the directors who have done recent film work. But James Gunn, despite how I feel about him, was apparently worthy enough, to have earned something that I think you all as an audience might want me to change. Just over a month ago, I graduated high school, and around that time, I got my yearbook. In the process of making the yearbook, I was encouraged to put something in as a senior quote. So after some searching on the Internet, I found what I thought was the perfect quote. Taken directly from IMDb, this is the quote I used in my yearbook:

“I have a very strong imagination and have since I was a little kid. That is where a lot of my world comes from. It’s like I’m off somewhere else. And I can have a problem in life because of that, because I’m always off in some other world thinking about something else. It’s constant.”

Guess what? JAMES GUNN SAID THAT!

I made a post on my Instagram with photo proof that James Gunn is the speaker of my quote in my high school yearbook! If anyone that’s affiliated with the making of the yearbook is reading this, I gotta ask… Is it too late to change my senior quote now that everyone is calling this guy a creep? Jostens, if you’re reading this, let me know! I mean, it’s only been a month since I graduated high school, I haven’t even started college, and I already have an excuse to change my senior quote!

Guys, thanks for reading this post that goes over a life-altering moment I never thought I’d have to face. James Gunn is a creep apparently, who knew? I love the first “Guardians of the Galaxy,” I’ll miss James Gunn’s unique and somewhat quirky style, and while I heard that Disney never confirmed Gunn was going to direct “Guardians 3” in the first place, it would have been easily predictable for him to do such a thing. With that being said, I hope an official director is announced soon, maybe one of my suggested candidates. As for upcoming content, tomorrow I’m going to see “Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again,” stay tuned for that review once it comes time to show it off, and also stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, what do you think about this whole James Gunn situation? Also, if you were to find a director or writer for “Guardians 3,” what would your pick be? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Thor: Ragnarok (2017): Guardians of Asgard

Before we begin my review for “Thor: Ragnarok,” I’d like to just take a moment and remind you that this upcoming weekend, I’ll be at Rhode Island Comic Con! Rhode Island Comic Con is a three day event which begins Friday, November 10, and ends Sunday, November 12. There will be tons of artists, vendors, panels, and oh yeah, they serve alcohol! So if that’s something that interests you, check that out! Celebrity guests typically have appeared in movies and TV shows ranging from “Star Wars,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Revenge of the Nerds,” “Boondock Saints,” “The Walking Dead,” “Power Rangers,” “Luke Cage,” and “Stranger Things.” In fact, since we’re on the topic of “Thor: Ragnarok,” Mark Ruffalo is actually showing up! If you are showing up to this event, don’t hesitate to say hi to me if you see me, which is probably gonna be hard considering the crowds this event can get. I will be there all three days so I’m sorry for stealing your ticket, but luckily there are tickets still available, and you can also buy special packages for individual or group celebrities, including a section that has little to do with the con itself, which is access to a Gene Simmons concert. Keep in mind, some of these don’t include admission tickets to the con. I’m going in as a patron, not as a guest, so if you see me walking around, I hope we can talk! Speaking of nerd things, let’s talk about “Thor: Ragnarok.”

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“Thor: Ragnarok” is directed by Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, What We Do in the Shadows) and stars Chris Hemsworth (Rush, Ghostbusters), Tom Hiddleston (The Night Manager, Kong: Skull Island), Cate Blanchett (Lord of the Rings, How to Train Your Dragon 2), Idris Elba (Pacific Rim, The Dark Tower), Jeff Goldblum (Independence Day, Jurassic Park), Tessa Thompson (Creed, Dear White People), Karl Urban (Dredd, The Bourne Supremacy), Mark Ruffalo (Now You See Me, Spotlight), and Anthony Hopkins (Beowulf, Hannibal). This movie revolves around Thor, who happens to be imprisoned. He soon finds himself in a gladiator battle, which is basically borrowed from the Planet Hulk storyline in the comics for “The Incredible Hulk.” Also, Thor must annihilate the evil Hela, the Goddess of Death, who set out to destroy Thor’s home and Asgardian civilization.

Going into this movie, my expectations weren’t all that high. I will admit, as time went on, they actually kind of increased. I say this because I watched the first trailer for this movie, the one that came out before “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” officially released in theaters. I just watched the trailer thinking that this will be alright for a Marvel movie, but it had too much of a “Guardians of the Galaxy” vibe, considering the fact that Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant” was playing in the background as Asgard is being destroyed. “Immigrant” is a good song, in fact it’s also pretty catchy, but it just doesn’t work. Plus the whole fight between Thor and Hulk, or technically, the buildup to it, is basically played out like a comedy. Granted, Marvel has used comedy in its past movies and it worked. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” has done a great job at balancing comedy and seriousness throughout the entire film. However when it comes to “Thor,” it always seems to have a less than pleasant storyline or tone, and by less than pleasant I mean dark. The first movie made it work, and there was comedy interjected there too which happened to work. Just watch the movie while it presents its version of the fish out of water cliche. Then we get to the second movie… Just, kill me. There were only one or two things I found funny in that film and after watching it recently, I almost hated my life. Then we get to the second trailer, which was pretty cool in ways. The song choice was slightly better, although the tone felt like it was meshed together properly, but it ultimately made me more interested in the movie. However to be fair I was gonna see this no matter how interested or disinterested I was, because this is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I gotta keep up with the timeline.

Another thing to consider towards my lack of expectations is the fact that Marvel has been declining in terms of likability with their recent releases. Both “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” were not as good as I wanted them to be. They were good, but at the same time they were just movies that I particularly wouldn’t watch many times again. “Thor: Ragnarok,” ultimately, kind of belongs in the same category. It’s by no means a bad movie, but not as good as it could be. Let’s take it from the top.

First off, we have the vibe. This movie starts out in a way that’s kind of comedic, although at the same time it makes you wonder what’s about to come next. Then we get some light comedy throughout the picture, there was nothing really that stood out about it, it’s your typical comedy that you see in Marvel movies nowadays. Nothing really hit me. And that’s the thing, this movie, in terms of humor, is divided. At times, it’s hilarious, at other times, it just made me remain in silence. I will say though, this movie is actually funnier than “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” Not the first movie, but the second one. The first movie is a kneeslapper to the tenth degree, the second one was somewhat underwhelming. On the topic of “Guardians” and vibes, the whole vibe of the movie, just like the first trailer, reminded me of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which to some people might be fine and dandy. For me, not so much. If you have seen “Guardians of the Galaxy,” you’d know that it’s a lot different compared to other movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s a lot more cartoon-like, a lot funkier, a lot lighter. OK, well, you can technically say the MCU as a whole is light, but “Guardians” definitely takes the cake as the MCU’s lightest film. This entire film we have here, is about the destruction of Asgard, and it’s all done by a being who’s referred to as the Goddess of Death, AKA Hela. I wanted this movie to be darker, I wanted it to be serious. Maybe it could interject tads of humor here and there, but nothing even close to the amount of humor given to us here. I may be biased, but this the seventeenth film in the MCU, not to mention the eleventh distributed by Walt Disney Studios, or as I like to call them, “GIVE US YOUR MONEY TO MAKE REPETITIVE CONTENT! Studios,” I would love it if we could see a really dark and gritty MCU film. Not like “Batman v. Superman,” it would have better characterization and casting put into it. “Captain America: Civil War” came really close, and I’ll have you know that it’s one of my favorite films of 2016, but what would put the cherry on the sundae is if someone from the Avengers died in the film. This as a whole just takes elements from the past “Thor” films, interjects part of the concept of “Captain America: Civil War,” and provides the mood of “Guardians of the Galaxy.” It just doesn’t feel original. Some might even say that there’s one reason specifically that this is like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and before I actually tell you that reason, let me just say, it made the movie remind me of “Pixels.”

Before “Pixels” came out in theaters, one trailer was released and the music behind it happened to be Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” which was eventually used in the movie, not once, but twice. The first time was during the introduction when the kids are in the arcade playing “Donkey Kong” and the second time was throughout the climax when the adults are actually inside the game “Donkey Kong.” This movie isn’t beat for beat on all of those things. However, you may recall I mentioned a trailer that played Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.” That song is in this movie as well, which I will say this movie gets some credit for unlike “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” which had Sweet’s “Fox on the Run” in a trailer, but it never made it into the movie. This is a great and catchy song but just like “Pixels,” the song is played at the beginning of the movie, and at the end of the movie. Reminder, by the end of the movie I don’t mean during the credits. I’d be fine if the song were used once, but twice? Given what this movie has to offer, it just kind of didn’t fit. It’s not like “Inception” where a song literally had a purpose throughout the film. Remember how in that movie, they had a song to signify whenever there was a kick? Yeah, it was Edith Piaf’s “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien,” which is French for “No Regrets.” I’ve never been a big fan of the MCU’s music as a whole, because it all sounds rather forgettable or generic, but I want some variety here!

I just want to say, to those of you who say that this movie is actually different compared to the other MCU films, you’re wrong. I will tell you something that is different though, and that’s Thor’s hair. During the movie it actually gets cut off and I got to say, going into this film, I’ve seen it cut off on posters, and it just simply reminded me of Channing Tatum’s character from “Jupiter Ascending.” Thor is shown to be the same charismatic dude we’ve come to know over the movies we’ve seen him in during the MCU thus far. He brings out a charm that’s extremely admirable, and he seems to be unbelievably joyous, and this is surprisingly also executed during the Planet Hulk fight scene. As far as Thor’s new look goes, I was a little skeptical at first, but in the end, I do think that it’s a good look for him.

Thor’s brother, Loki, also makes a return here. Loki has always been an interesting character to me. As far as this universe is concerned, sometimes he’s the antagonist, other times he’s a protagonist. Here, he’s helping out Thor on his mission, and at other times, the two are separated and doing their own thing. By that I mean, Thor’s doing his own thing and Loki is just watching. Loki also has one of the funniest parts of the movie, which involves a character whose name I won’t mention.

This movie is also the return of the strong monster-like Avenger and Jolly Green Giant impersonator, the Hulk. His last appearance in the MCU where he got some significant screentime was in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Neither Thor or the Hulk were in “Captain America: Civil War,” so there’s a good chance they don’t even know the whole controversy which arose in that movie. It’s nice to see the Hulk here, and his character, appeared to be a bit different than how I’ve seen him in previous movies in this particular universe, which I kind of liked. Seeing Hulk and Thor talk throughout the movie, kind of reminded me of George and Lennie from “Of Mice and Men” because of how one character’s language is structured compared to the other.

Speaking of the Hulk and Thor, the two had a fight, as mentioned recently. While heroes have fought each other before, I have to say this fight was pretty awesome. This fight, in terms of action, engaged me more than the fight in “Batman v. Superman.” I personally felt there was more at stake in that movie, but in reality, in terms of action, this fight was better. I will say though, the whole “friend from work” thing, was kind of cringeworthy. Still, the fight’s awesome!

Another character I want to bring up is the character of Hela, the movie’s main antagonist. As much as the Marvel movies have not been as good as usual, the villains have been becoming increasingly more likable. Another interesting thing about this villain, this is the first of the MCU’s main antagonists to be a woman. She’s played by Cate Blanchett, who you may know as Galadriel from the “Lord of the Rings” movies. In terms of mannerisms, Blanchett’s interpretation of Hela made her look like a cliche villain. Although at the same time, she was a very powerful being and the movie makes this case very convincing. The one thing that she did to drag down the movie more than anything else though is that she was very expositional at times, which helped you understand the history of Asgard, but at the same time, it just felt like a random monologue that could have been done in a lair but it was just done somewhere else. It’s the same thing, only different.

One of the movie’s biggest standouts for not just myself, but I imagine a lot of other people, is Jeff Goldblum’s character known as the Grandmaster. He’s basically this one dude who looks incredibly wacky, sounds incredibly wacky, and if there ever happened to be a commercial for makeup directed towards men, he would probably be  spokesperson presented in the ad. I have to give kudos to whoever did the makeup on Jeff Goldblum, it looked stellar!

One last plus I’ll give before I deliver my final verdict to you all, I noticed this in the trailer, but some of the shots in this movie are some of the best I’ve seen in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. There are various shots that probably looked great on a storyboard, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case. The movie has shots that almost look like they were copied exactly from a comic book, which I admire wholeheartedly since this is a comic book movie after all. I will say there’s one scene that in terms of colors, could have been graded better. Let’s just say it takes place on grass. This may be a personal thing, but I still feel I should unleash this thought.

In the end, “Thor: Ragnarok” is a very weird movie to judge. I had fun with it, but fun isn’t really the word I want to be using in a circumstance like this. I get it, it’s Marvel, it’s Disney, it’s a similar formula we’ve witnessed in past movies carried over to this one, but it really should have been darker. I will say these movies do feel consistent, and in a way, that’s a good thing, but at times, you need to know what kind of stories you’re putting into certain movies. When you have a character referred to as “the Goddess of Death” in your movie, it’s kind of odd to fill the entire runtime with jokes. I don’t know how well “Justice League” will turn out, but I think ultimately, DC is gonna end up biting Marvel in the balls just because of how I gave all the DC films I’ve seen this year perfect scores and I’ve yet to do that with Marvel. Reminder, I’ve still yet to see “Logan.” I’m gonna give “Thor: Ragnarok” a 7/10. I will say though, if you’re gonna go see this movie, just prepare yourself for the “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” reference. I won’t go into detail, but it was freaking hysterical! Speaking of movies, there’s a line in the film that mentions the title “Point Break.” I won’t go into detail there either. But in all seriousness, next year better be good for Marvel. After seeing the trailers, nothing looks all that amazing about “Black Panther,” “Ant Man and the Wasp” is something I’m excited for though, but my biggest request is to make “Avengers: Infinity War” a slightly serious movie at the very least. Thanks for reading this review, I hope to see you all at Rhode Island Comic Con this upcoming weekend! Just go, you’ll be glad you did, and you’ll thank me later. Also, if you feel you are worthy enough to read these, I’ll have my previous “Thor” reviews listed down below if you want to check them out. I’d say please do so, I think you’ll enjoy them. Stay tuned for more reviews! Also, out of the three “Thor” installments we’ve gotten thus far, which one’s your favorite? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

“THOR” REVIEW: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2017/10/23/thor-2011-you-wont-need-to-be-hammered-to-watch-this-spoilers-for-the-marvel-cinematic-universe-movies/

“THOR: THE DARK WORLD” REVIEW: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2017/10/30/thor-the-dark-world-2013-why-is-kat-dennings-in-this-movie-spoilers/