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!

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!

Men In Black: International (2019): Thor and Valkyrie Play with Toys

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“Men In Black: International” is directed by F. Gary Gray (The Fate of the Furious, Friday) and stars Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Rush), Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok, Creed), Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation, The Girl On the Train), Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick, Silicon Valley), Rafe Spall (The Big Short, Life of Pi), Les Twins, Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks, Love Actually), Liam Neeson (Non-Stop, Cold Pursuit), and Tim Blaney (Muppets Tonight, Guild Wars 2). This film is a spinoff that takes place in the popular “Men In Black” franchise, which would traditionally star Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, but this time, as you can assume by the recently mentioned word “spinoff,” the story is diverging away from its usual storytelling methods. Although Frank the Pug is back, which is awesome. This spinoff revolves around agents H and M (coincidence?) as they save the planet from alien-related attacks.

Going into this movie, I had my expectations set somewhere around the middle. I enjoy the “Men In Black” movies. I own the first one on DVD, and I have seen the second and third films as well. When it comes to the second film, I thought it was decent. Just another case of the sequel not surpassing the original, but still a good time. Surprisingly, probably not just for me, but this might surprise a lot of you, of Will Smith’s trilogy, my favorite of them all is “Men In Black 3.” There was one point where I would watch Starz all the time, and throughout the year of 2013, “Men In Black 3” was probably the thing I rewatched the most on that channel. I admired the film for its use of time travel, some of the dialogue, and the surprisingly emotional ending. When I first heard they were doing a “Men In Black” spinoff, I didn’t particularly know what to think. I also remember there once being an idea for a crossover between “21 Jump Street” and “Men In Black.” I have not seen “21 Jump Street,” so I can’t fully give my thoughts on how much sense this idea would make. However, despite my slight apprehensions, which I still had after witnessing the first trailer for “Men In Black: International,” I still went in with some hopes that this movie would be worthy of the franchise name. I will say though, the final trailer, is actually a pretty good piece of marketing. It got me a bit more interested in the movie than I was before.

So, how was the movie? It’s the best “Men In Black” spinoff ever!

It’s also the only one.

Seriously though, how was the movie? It was pretty good. If you ask me, I think “Men In Black: International” has all the ingredients for a cliche, but effective, summer blockbuster. Cool action, witty dialogue, charming characters, neat effects (for the most part), and some nifty concepts here and there. It’s good enough for you to go with a few friends and forget about reality for a couple hours, and then, I dunno, maybe catch on cable one day. And I say that with all seriousness, because it is probably the most “fun” I’ve had in a theater this year. It’s not the best movie of 2019. In fact, there are other “fun” movies that I saw that I would technically consider better than this, but if you if you ask me which movie made me grin like an idiot for most of the runtime in 2019, “Men In Black: International” is certainly a contender.

The “Men In Black” franchise has always seemed to have mastered the art of comedy, and “Men In Black: International” is no exception to this rule. Unfortunately, while Frank the Pug does make a brief appearance in this film, he’s not a critical character. But we do manage to get an equally as awesome comic relief character by the name of Pawny, played by the likable and talented Kumail Nanjiani. His backstory, which is explained during the film, made me care for him, and he had a number of gutbusting lines here and there. Speaking of gutbusters, Pawny’s charisma does suggest that all the other characters are less funny or less interesting, because Chris Hemsworth is the bomb.

My respect for Chris Hemsworth has grown so much over the past few years, even though I hated “Ghostbusters,” even though “Thor: Ragnarok” was not what I wanted it to be, I still had respect for Chris Hemsworth because in general, he makes the idea of being charming the exact opposite of a chore. And when it comes to “Men In Black: International,” I think Hemsworth was one word: charismatic. He had fantastic lines, he truly feels like an expert in his field, maybe a bit of a goofy smart-ass who simultaneously takes his job seriously, and a guy who I would not mind having lunch with. Also, I mentioned the excellence of this film’s comedic elements, and I will certainly link an inside joke involving Hemsworth’s character. If you have ever heard of Marvel or Thor, there is a shot that will have you dying. Prepare for it if you ever see this movie.

Speaking of Hemsworth, I’d say he also had great chemistry with the film’s other lead, Tessa Thompson, but then again, that should not be too surprising since they have worked together before in multiple Marvel films, most notably “Thor: Ragnarok.” In fact, if I had to be honest, I think the duo’s chemistry here in “Men In Black: International” is better than it was in “Thor: Ragnarok,” because I feel the actors’ personalities meshed together when it comes to collective line delivery and interactions. I was able to buy into their partnership, and they worked together quite well.

I also really liked the big gun the marketing revealed at one point. If you remember the final trailer where our main characters test a gun in a desert, that makes for a couple highlights in the film. The gun does not get heavy usage, but it is probably the most admirable weapon in the film, which is saying a lot.

However, like most movies, “Men In Black: International” comes with its imperfections. Like a number of films I have seen recently, this movie suffers from some minor pacing issues, which almost made me lose interest in the story. Also, compared to a couple other “Men In Black” films, this installment feels a tad disposable. I’d watch it again, but I would not call it the holy grail of summer blockbusters. And as mentioned earlier in the post, a lot of the effects worked, but it doesn’t mean all of them did. When the movie started, I got a glimpse at a creature who was in front of young Agent M. It looked like something out of a B-rate “Avatar” film or perhaps live-action “Sonic the Hedgehog,” although, probably much more competent than that. It didn’t look revolting, but absolutely artificial. There was also almost no real threat. While various baddies appear throughout the film, it’s almost impossible to pinpoint the most threatening of them all, at least for a period of time, and it almost took me out of the movie. Another aspect I didn’t like is the Lexus product placement, but at the same time, compared to “Hitman: Agent 47” and that film’s relationship with Audi, I can tolerate Lexus in this film by MILES. Pun most certainly intended. Then again, this film had a decent amount of positives to which point, the negatives almost don’t even matter. I had enough fun with “Men In Black: International” that I felt in the zone. Do I want to see another story with Chris Hemsworth or Tessa Thompson? That’s still up for debate from my perspective, but I still managed to enjoy what I saw.

In the end, “Men In Black: International” had me smiling, laughing, and immersed. If there is one aspect of movies that I personally felt has improved since I first started Scene Before in 2016, it is comedy, and movies like “Men In Black: International” support that sentiment. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson make a good team, I enjoyed the humor, and it made me, surprisingly, appreciate a “Men In Black” story that didn’t have Will Smith in it. Although technically speaking, he does appear at one point, I won’t say how. Also, part of me may be wondering however if my positive, “smile on my face” thoughts related to this film, may be due to the collective atmosphere in the theater. Because just about everyone was laughing from one point to the next and the cinema was nearly full. Then again, I saw “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” in a full cinema where everyone was laughing and I hated that piece of crap. Part of me wonders if my thoughts as of now, are simply fueled by what the collective vibe must have been. Maybe if I watch the film again, said thoughts could end up changing. But I don’t care, because I’m going to give “Men In Black: International” a 7/10. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that I just recently reached my 300 post mark on Scene Before, so if you want to check it out, click this link! The post involves me going over my complete Blu-ray collection, which features a video I uploaded to YouTube, partially because WordPress would not let me upload it directly. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Men In Black: International?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite “Men In Black” movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Annihilation (2018): Yay! Alex Garland’s Second Film!

Before dive into my review for “Annihilation,” we have some promotional material to go over. Hey! Let me just remind you, this content is free! I’m doing this! Let me just have you know something. I’m a guy, and unfortunately, and somewhat understandably, my gender’s individuals usually can’t go at least a single second of each day without thinking about sex. Before you ask, no, I’m not promoting porn. Even though that does involve sex. What I’m promoting to you doesn’t involve that kind of sex. It instead involves what can be referred to as “BIBLICALLY *APPROVED* INTERCOURSE for the PURPOSES of PROCREATION.” Ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about “What the IVF?!”

“What the IVF?” is a new YouTube channel and series from a couple whose members include Genevieve and Paul. The two are currently expecting a child in upcoming months and unfortunately for both of them, their journey wasn’t as sweet as chocolate ice cream. Instead, it felt more like a rocky road. As suggested, sex plays a part in this series. Not just that, but don’t forget math, tests, costs, small wins, big losses, and all of those stinkin’ needles! The video up above specifically is their second episode, but if you are interested in seeing the other videos in this series, such as the first episode and the trailer, be sure to click the link down below to the YouTube channel for “WTIVF?.” And also be sure to subscribe or hit the notification bell to keep up on their content! Also be sure to check out their other social media pages, along with their website, also down below! Be sure to tell them that Jack Drees sent you!

WTIVF? WEBSITE: http://www.whattheivf.com/

WTIVF? YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCILXSidkzWgwrQ5Oa1py78w/featured?disable_polymer=1

WTIVF? TWITTER: https://twitter.com/WTivF

WTIVF? INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/wtivf/

WTIVF? FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/What-The-IVF-288868031634125/

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“Annihilation” is directed by Alex Garland (Ex Machina, 28 Days Later) and stars Natalie Portman (Black Swan, V For Vendetta), Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle), Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok, Creed), Gina Rodriguez (Deepwater Horizon, Jane the Virgin), Tuva Novotny (Eat Pray Love, Dag), and Oscar Isaac (X-Men Apocalypse, Star Wars: The Force Awakens). This movie is about a biologist who sets up a secret expedition where the laws of nature are thrown out the window. The film is also based on a book by Jeff VanderMeer which is one of the three books in the Southern Reach trilogy. On that topic, according to Alex Garland, he didn’t really think much about making a trilogy. His focus is mainly shifted towards the first book of the same name, so I don’t think we’ll be getting any sequels to this movie in the future.

Before we go any further and dissect “Annihilation,” I just want to bring up one of the banes of my existence. And no, for all of you who don’t know grammar entirely, this has nothing to do with “Batman.” This does however, have to do with Netflix. I recently did a post called “Why I Won’t Review The Cloverfield Paradox.” In it, I explain my prior anticipation to “The Cloverfield Paradox,” and how I won’t review or even watch the movie based on something I didn’t really expect to happen. That unexpected happening by the way is the fact that the movie wouldn’t be released in theaters and instead went straight to the Netflix streaming service. I explain how they basically killed Blockbuster, a nostalgic store I adore that I will surely miss. I go on to say that the way they’re changing movie and TV watching is making certain experiences dwindled from what they could be. Not to mention, they’re also killing movie theaters, which are basically “other homes” of mine, because they think it’s a good idea to have all of their movies go straight to the platform. So I never inserted this in the post, but I’ll say it here. You know the phrase “Netflix & chill?” People nowadays know it as either an invitation to watch Netflix with someone else, or just an excuse to have sex. So I hate to kill the mood, if you know what I mean, but I might as well describe some of the scenarios I recently mentioned as “Netflix & kill.”

Before going to see this movie, I found out apparently that Netflix is apparently distributing “Annihilation” internationally (except for China). I live in the United States, meaning Netflix isn’t distributing the movie to my people. Paramount is doing said job. Let me just say, this movie is very lucky to get its own review, because if it lacked any release in theaters, or if Netflix was doing total distribution, I would have saved some time. In fact, I’m willing to bet that Alex Garland, the director of “Annihilation” might also be somewhat disappointed in what happened to this film. Just read this quote spoken by him down below:

“We made the film for cinema. I’ve got no problem with the small screen at all. The best genre piece I’ve seen in a long time was “The Handmaid’s Tale,” so I think there’s incredible potential within that context, but if you’re doing that – you make it for that and you think of it in those terms. Look… it is what it is. The film is getting a theatrical release in the States, which I’m really pleased about. One of the big pluses of Netflix is that it goes out to a lot of people and you don’t have that strange opening weekend thing where you’re wondering if anyone is going to turn up and then if they don’t, it vanishes from cinema screens in two weeks. So it’s got pluses and minuses, but from my point of view and the collective of the people who made it – [it was made] to be seen on a big screen.”

I hate to sound like a propaganda machine, but I’ll say this anyway. Netflix may have chopped this movie’s head off, but it still has a beating heart. It didn’t totally “annihilate” the film. 😉 Getting back on track, let’s talk about “Annihilation!”

Going into “Annihilation,” I was excited. That’s because I’ve seen a film from Alex Garland which released in 2015 and it was one of the most beautiful looking films of the decade. That film by the way, is “Ex Machina.” While “Ex Machina” isn’t what I’d personally call a 10/10 movie, I have to give major props to the film from a production and directorial perspective because it made me want to be a part of the movie. Heck, it won Best Achievement in Visual Effects at the Oscars! I will also say, “Ex Machina” was Alex Garland’s directorial debut! Garland’s second movie, “Annihilation,” has arrived in various territories, I didn’t know too much about it. I’ve seen a trailer for it, I knew Natalie Portman would have the starring role, I knew it was based on a book, but not much else.

Oh wait, there was one more thing, kind of going off of something I just mentioned.

As suggested, “Annihilation” is based on a book, specifically a book of the same name. The book is part of what’s known as the Southern Reach trilogy, which is named due to a secret agency which plays an important part in the overall plot. All three books were written by Jeff VanderMeer, and were met with positive verdicts.

Funny enough, all of them start with the letter “A.” So I guess if you don’t like calling the series the Southern Ranch trilogy, you can instead call it the AAA trilogy. It’s the perfect series for going out to CVS in your car with three of your friends. Their names are Albert, Alec, and Alex (AAA). You decide to go inside the CVS store, where you end up buying AAA batteries, finding three guys at the register named Aaron, Adam, and Andy (AAA), going back to your car to realize the doors are locked, you left your keys inside, so now you have to call AAA to get this situation settled. Once that’s over, you get back in your car, you’re about the leave the shopping center where CVS is, a very small one at that. It contains other shops including AT&T, Avenue, and Applebee’s (AAA). You suddenly realize, you have some time to kill, so it leads you to pulling out one of the AAA books from the back seat, you start reading it, and you remain in the parking lot going nowhere for a period of time. Oh yeah, and your friends are just questioning why you aren’t driving.

Alright, rambling’s over, let’s get serious.

Since “Annihilation” has some of the stuff it has in it, it’s easy to imagine some people are looking forward to it if they haven’t seen it. I haven’t even read the books and I was kind of stoked! Although there were people who happen to be giving it some flak before it even came out. Why is this? Well apparently, this movie has miscast its characters, and the reason why they’re miscast is because they’re not the correct ethnicity.

Let me just say, I’ve never read the books, so what I’m gathering is from random research. And the research tells me that these complainers have justifiable reasons behind their thoughts. Do I agree with them? Sure I do. It doesn’t mean I don’t like the actors playing these characters or how they perform as these characters, but it doesn’t change the fact that these mistakes are still there. Although I will say, there are two characters when it comes to this complaint. Specifically Natalie Portman’s character of Lena and Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character of Dr. Ventress. Of the two characters, Portman might be the bigger problem here. Again, I like her as an actress, so I don’t see Portman herself as a problem, but I do see this casting choice as a problem. For one thing, she’s the lead role. Also, her ethnicity was revealed in the first book of the trilogy whereas the other character had hers revealed in the second book of the trilogy. When it came to the overall adaptation of this book to film. Garland was more focused towards story than character looks. And while I look for more great stories than I do correct adaptations, this was something that could have easily been altered. While I REALLY enjoyed “Annihilation,” this will subtract its score.

Onto the movie itself, I actually went to see this over a week ago, so I apologize if some of my comments come off as weak. I usually review movies right after I see them depending on the case, but this wasn’t one of them. My Oscar recap was more important. This movie starts off in a small room with a conversation between Natalie Portman and Benedict Wong, and I knew that part of the movie was going to take place there. The overall setting there set the tone for what’s to come. We occasionally cut back and forth between that and some plot-unfolding events of the film. And with all that put together, the tone doesn’t really ever feel ruined. There’s a lot of cutting back and forth, but it doesn’t feel all jumbled together like a pizza with topping options so endless it has toppings like TNT, screws, and LEGO bricks. In other words, this movie’s edited competently and the tone doesn’t feel messed up.

I’ll mention once more, one of the biggest positives I can give to Alex Garland’s directorial debut, “Ex Machina,” is how beautiful-looking the movie is. The movie won Best Visual Effects at the Oscars and it’s easy to see why. Plus, all the scenery might make you feel like you’re on an exotic getaway and you’re on a nature walk. Oh yeah, and robots are there too! Much like “Ex Machina,” this movie has you feeling as if you’re entering a majestic new world. Once all the scientists are together on their journey, they enter an anomaly known as the shimmer. Inside, it can simply just be described as wondrously gorgeous. But not all of it is pretty.

“Annihilation,” at its core, is a sci-fi film. Although it has some elements of horror in there as well. This movie to my personal surprise, features one of the more terrifying scenes I’ve seen in a science fiction film. If you’ve seen the trailer, you may remember that wolf with the sharp teeth, holy s*it!

I also have to talk about the ending. And without spoiling anything, I’ll tell you all upfront. This is one of the best endings I’ve seen this decade. Why do I love sci-fi so much? Well, there’s many reasons that can qualify as an answer to that question for me, but one thing I’ve noticed is how many of those movies have endings that I just often look back on. This movie is no exception. I mentioned in my post titled “Annihilation (2018): NOT Now In Theaters Everywhere” that “Annihilation” originator Jeff VanderMeer gave praise towards this film’s ending and even said in some ways, the movie might actually be better than his own book. That’s a much better reaction than the one given by Paramount financier David Ellison, who thought the film was apparently too complicated for some minds! By the way, f*ck David Ellison. You can clearly tell I’m siding with VanderMeer in this circumstance. The ending overall felt like I was watching “2001: A Space Odyssey.” I can’t talk much about it, but given some of the situations that happen in this film and when you piece it all together. This film feels like “Arrival,” “Jurassic Park,” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” all meshed together in one wonderful package. One more thing about the ending, the music in that moment can only be described as one word, and that’s orgasmic.

Moving onto characters, let’s talk about Natalie Portman’s character of Lena. While I did mention before that Lena is not entirely cast the way that a good number of people think she should be, I’ll add, Portman did a fine job here. I was able to buy her as a biologist. Every single frame I was convinced that she could possibly have a shot at becoming a professor at Princeton. Her husband, Kane, played by Oscar Isaac, also delivers an excellent performance.

All of the characters in this film overall seem to have no qualities that I hate about them, whether they’re in the category of annoying, off-putting, or so hatable because they killed someone you love so much that they must get similar treatment. They all seem to be redeemable and I really think they all did their role quite well. I will admit, some of this movie is kind of dwindling on me. And it’s not because I didn’t like the movie. I thought it was great! I’ll say once again, it’s been over a week since I saw this, and other things mattered more to me than this review. No offense to “Annihilation” and its crew.

One last thing I’ll mention is this. I said already that if you combine “Arrival,” “Jurassic Park,” and “2001: A Space Odyssey,” you might as well get this movie. You might also say that if you combine JUST A HINT of “Ghostbusters,” you get this film too. Just look at this shot and tell me otherwise!

In the end, “Annihilation” is certainly one of those films that I’m gonna have to watch again, and it’s also one of those films that I want to talk about with others for years to come. Is this movie perfect? I wouldn’t say so. I’ve already gone over some minor casting issues that are somewhat understandable after doing some research, but are still there regardless. I must say though, Alex Garland, you’ve done it again! I’m going to give “Annihilation” an 8/10! By the way, if you can’t get this in theaters in your area, chances are you may have this movie available to you now on Netflix. It actually released on the Netflix platform in several areas a day ago, so go watch it if you haven’t already! I don’t use Netflix, but I’ve talked enough about that. Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I’ll have a review up for “Mission: Impossible” starring Tom Cruise, which will kick off my “Mission: Impossible” review series in preparation for “Mission: Impossible: Fallout.” Also, for my next movie to see in theaters, I just realized how many options I have. I want to go see “Game Night,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” (can’t believe I’m saying that) “Gringo,” “Red Sparrow,” and you’ve even got “Tomb Raider” coming out next weekend. I don’t know if I’ll catch a movie this weekend, but only time will tell. If you need some more content to hold yourself over, be sure to check out my recap for the 90th Academy Awards, where I talk about “four men and Greta Gerwig,” a jet ski, and what could be regarded one of the of the most well deserved Academy Award wins of all time. If you want to check that out, click the box down below, and will take you to the post! Stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, have you seen “Annihilation?” What are your thoughts? What did you think about the ending? Also, if you saw it, how did you see it? Leave that info down below as a way of annihilating some time! 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/