The Empire Strikes Back (1980): I Love You

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Today is day 5 of 7 in the epic Scene Before 7 Days of Star Wars saga! We have finished the prequels earlier this week, we just tackled the original “Star Wars” yesterday, but now it is time to move onto what some consider to be not just one of the best “Star Wars” movies to date, but one of the greatest sequels of all time. Of the original “Star Wars” films, this is actually the first one that I tuned into. I still remember renting the widescreen copy of the 2004 edition from Blockbuster Video. Man, I miss that place. I rented the film one or two more times, until I finally got the full screen 2006 edition that came with both the 2004 special edition of the film and a bonus disc that had a somewhat poorly mastered DVD transfer of the original film. While it was widescreen, allowing the viewer to see more picture, it was also grainy and would not adjust for an actual widescreen television. Although for this review, much like Episodes IV and VI, I decided to use the most up to date versions of the film through recent 4K Blu-ray transfers that have released in stores in 2020. Safe to say, this film looks gorgeous to this day, and of all the “Special Editions,” I’d say that this one is the least offensive, although that statement will likely not have much of an effect on my review.

We would be honored if you would join us, because it is time for a miniseries I’m calling… 7 DAYS OF “STAR WARS!”

“The Empire Strikes Back” is directed by Irwin Kershner and stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, and Frank Oz. This film is the sequel to 1977’s “Star Wars” and follows our heroes who have a base on the planet Hoth. But not for long, because the Empire takes its swift strokes on the rebels. Soon thereafter, Luke Skywalker journeys to Dagobah to learn the ways of the Jedi under the wing of Master Yoda. Meanwhile, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Leia, R2-D2, and C-3PO flee from the dark forces on the Millennium Falcon, but with an unfortunate hyperdrive problem.

Since 1977, “Star Wars” has become a part of many people’s lives. Similar to 1975’s “Jaws,” the film went on to become one of the biggest phenomenons of the decade. The turnout was enormous, the box office was immense, the force was with everyone. Characters like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo have been ingrained in many people’s minds for extended periods. While the film itself is a throwback to stories that may have come before and shares many of the traits of the ordinary “hero’s journey” rubric, it comes with a flavor that could have arguably been created by Willy Wonka. “Star Wars” has, as you may have noticed, become one of the most acclaimed and iconic films of all time. With a film that good, it is almost hard to imagine how they could have made a sequel that could have surpassed it.

…Well they did.

To know that such a feat could be pulled off is utter insanity. I mean, it’s been done in similar instances with other franchises. The first “Godfather” was critically acclaimed, but today there are many people who would argue the second one is as good, if not better than the original. The same can be said for “Toy Story.” The same can also be said for “Blade Runner.” Maybe even “The Terminator!” In the case of “The Empire Strikes Back,” the reasoning is simple. It maintains the fun of the original film despite being darker in tone, it builds on the characters we’ve come to know and love with impactful depth, and it subverts expectations, which feels weird considering how “The Last Jedi” tried doing that to rather poor results. Although speaking of “The Last Jedi,” I remember when that film came out and people started bringing up comparisons to “The Empire Strikes Back,” but not for a positive reason. When “The Last Jedi” came out, I would occasionally be online, maybe on YouTube or something and someone would say that “The Last Jedi” is a film that will get better with age. When it came out, it was incredibly divisive. The fans of the film were quite passionate, and so were the haters. But nevertheless, “The Last Jedi,” despite being well-reviewed, had a strong number of people who felt it ruined the “Star Wars” franchise to a degree. Back in 1980, “The Empire Strikes Back” received the same treatment. There were people who liked the film. But there were also others who expressed displeasure or disappointment with it mainly because of how dark and not so fun it happened to be.

Today, it is one of the most universally revered films in not just the sci-fi genre, but in all of movie history. It has one of the most talked about twists of all time. Despite being darker, I’d almost argue it not only knows how to crack a joke here and there, it is actually somehow funnier than the first one. And this feels weird to say, because when I’m looking back at lines I could bring up on the spot to make someone laugh, I do not usually think of “The Empire Strikes Back,” but that’s because the film does not try to go for humor. What it does is it takes lines that usually would not mean anything. The lines are not even that funny, but in the context of the film, they can get a laugh out of me for some reason. A line as simple as Han Solo’s “Never tell me the odds” is chuckle-worthy to say the least. Leia shouting “I am not a committee” feels like it could come out of only Carrie Fisher’s mouth with pristine delivery.

Speaking of characters, let’s talk about Luke Skywalker. I mentioned in my review for “A New Hope,” one forgivable concern for Luke is that he is kind of a whiner. In “The Empire Strikes Back,” the case is no different. But like in the previous film, Luke’s tendency to be a downer is also what makes him an interesting character. Because again, he is relatable. As humans, we all have a tendency to say we want do something, but we never end up actually doing “that something” and it is an idea that is always in the back of our minds. During Luke’s training with Yoda, we see glimmers of this as he lifts rocks and his X-Wing fighter that is stuck in the dirty water. There’s periods of refusal, self-denial, lack of confidence. It is a perfect encapsulation of a student/mentor relationship where the student feels like they are worthless and they cannot advance in their studies. In the last movie, we got see the pilot side of Luke, and that has been excellently built up throughout the film all the way to the end. In “The Empire Strikes Back,” we get to see more of the Jedi side of the character. And yes, we get to see parts of that in “A New Hope” too, but that is Luke simply learning how to use the force, he barely touches a lightsaber. Although it does help him in his piloting mission where he is tasked along with his rebel fleet to destroy the Death Star. But now that Obi-Wan is dead and likely just sitting back in the Jedi afterlife needing nobody’s company, he commands that Luke will go to Dagobah and learn the ways of the Jedi from Yoda. Oh yeah, and Yoda is awesome in this film.

Let me just say, I really like the prequel version of Yoda. But here is the thing about prequel Yoda, he is quite different than the original Yoda. Because in the prequels, Yoda is seen as one of the most powerful Jedi with one of the higher midichlorian counts and an enormous sense of wisdom. Also, screw midichlorian counts. In “The Empire Strikes Back,” we got to see that wisdom intact, but it does not take away from the fact that Yoda is one of the funniest characters in the original trilogy. Remember how in the prequel trilogy George Lucas tried to make Jar Jar Binks the big comic relief that stole every scene, which then turned out to be one of the most cringeworthy things in the entire franchise? Yeah, Yoda is ten times funnier because he is just a nut. He’s that interpretation of an old man who I hear is on his last legs but then I hear they are in “good spirits.” I always think of that as someone who is able to utilize a sense of humor while also showing signs of weakness. And this is yet another example of lines that really are not that funny, but in the context of “The Empire Strikes Back,” they can get me to laugh for some reason. And I think part of it is not just the lines themselves and how they are brilliantly delivered by Frank Oz, but maybe even Yoda’s laughter. It just proves that laughter is contagious and without any argument, the all-time best medicine.

But when I’m not busy laughing at Yoda’s antics, I am busy admiring Darth Vader’s fiendish will to rule the galaxy. In the previous film, we did get to know Vader as a character a little bit, especially considering how he was the main threat at the end. In this film however, we get to dive into his character and see another side of him aside from being just a big baddie. And he still is. He still force chokes his own allies, he still wields a red lightsaber. But in “The Empire Strikes Back,” there is more added to his story that makes him who he is, and it also affects other characters in the movie. For those of you who have not seen the movie, I will do my best to not say anything about a specific scene towards the end, even though it has been parodied and talked about millions of times, but if you don’t even have an inkling of how the end of “The Empire Strikes Back” goes down, just wait. It was brilliant back in the 1980s (maybe depending on what language you spoke) and it has aged like a fine wine since.

But also on the topic of the dark side, going onto a recurring category in these reviews, the score in this film, composed by John Williams, is bonkers good. In some cases, it might even be better than the original “Star Wars.” In addition to some themes that make a reappearance to a degree, “The Empire Strikes Back” adds exciting new music that can be heard as the Falcon flies through asteroids, as the heroes run around Cloud City, and as Luke tries to defend himself against a Wampa. But by far the most iconic original theme from “The Empire Strikes Back,” for good reason, and this is what I mean when it comes to talking about the dark side, is the Imperial March.

This music is literal perfection. You know how in times of war they have these propaganda songs to get people to join the military? You know, songs like “Over There” by Nora Bayes? The patriotic song that has been used since the 1910s during World War I? If the Empire wanted a way to convince me to join their fleet as a soldier or officer, this would perhaps be more effective than them saying “We have pizza, AND you get ten million bucks on the spot.” It is so… weirdly catchy. Again, I think part of it is because “Star Wars” is so ingrained in our culture whether we like it or not, but for some reason, this song goes to show the power of John Williams. The man knows how to do a killer track and as much as I see myself more in line with the values of the Jedi, this goes to reveal how fascinating the dark side is. If I ran a dictatorship where I had obnoxious power, which I do not see myself doing, I would use this as its theme music.

I think the best part of “The Empire Strikes Back” however is the fact that, and this maybe makes me a hypocrite, because we kind of see this in “The Last Jedi” too and that film was a disappointment, it’s that failure is a common result in this film. The title is as it suggests, the Empire strikes back with as much force as it can, putting the pressure on our heroes, and in the couple hours that everything goes down in the film, I manage to care about everyone on screen. I want to talk about some of these blunders, but the reality is that if I do, I’d be going into spoiler territory, and even though this is a 41-year-old film that has been celebrated by many people, I would doing a disservice if I did not let people who have not seen the film avoid going in blind. There is so much I want to talk about, everything from *bleep*, to *bleep*, all the way to the end where we *bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeep*. But I can’t. I’d be doing the newcomers a lack of a favor. I’d be ruining the experience for them. Yes, I talked about failure, but I don’t want to get into how much failure or the specific contents behind all of it. I want you, the people who have not seen “The Empire Strikes Back,” to finish reading this review, buy the movie in whatever way you can or watch it on TBS On Demand or Disney+ or something and experience what truly makes this film so extraordinary. The less you know, the better.

On another note, I just want to say that Lando Calrissian is a great addition to the franchise and he almost steals the show in every scene he is in. Whoever cast Billy Dee Williams as the character, well done. You deserve a pat on the back. Kind of like Han Solo, he has that rogueish, ladies-man vibe, but he also delivers it in his own way. I truly think he is one of the standouts of the movie.

One last thing before we go any further. Again, I want to be as secretive as possible, but the way this movie ends when we get to the final scene, it has one of the most unique feels not just in regard to how a “Star Wars” movie ends, but how any movie ends. Because the scene before the end is almost an adrenaline rush to the final second and at this point, just about every potential arc has developed. Without giving much context, we see our characters and the sense that I have at this point is satisfaction. Then after one particular incident is resolved, the music just swells up as we see the characters gaze out at a window and look at the galaxy that lies within. To me, this just says one word. Relief. We’ve had failure along the way, but the journey has paid off to where not just us as an audience, but our characters, get a moment to breathe. Yes, they have to live with their recent failure, but they finally get a break where they get to relax, unwind, and process what they just went through. In war, there is no rest. But this ending represents that relief which would come with taking a break every once in a while. So as a viewer, I feel satisfied, but I am also left longing for our characters to move on and see what they do next. The ending is bittersweet to say the least. It’s sad that the previous events happened, but it is heartwarming to know they have come to an end.

Remember when I reviewed the 1977 “Star Wars” and I talk about how “fun” it is, in addition to how often I feel like flocking to that universe in my imagination? Well, that has not changed. To me, this just goes to show the true genius of “The Empire Strikes Back.” It almost reminds me of, going to a more modern example, “Avengers: Infinity War,” because that is a film that like its predecessors, is fun from start to finish, but is full of emotionally charged moments that affect certain characters in less than positive ways. If the film still has glimmers of fun and imagination in it despite being depressing every other moment, that is not a good movie. It is an incredible movie.

In the end, “The Empire Strikes Back” strikes forth as one of the greatest sequels of all time. To me, this is a film that gets better with age, and how they answer certain questions in the next film probably solidifies that. The original “Star Wars” became a timeless classic through its likable predictability and familiar feel and story, but by offering a blend of that familiarity that audiences could easily fall in love with. “The Empire Strikes Back” on the other hand goes in for the kill and tries to warp your mind into something new even if has traces of familiarity as well. The film is subversive, exciting, and eye-popping. The effects still hold up to this day. The asteroid scene looks beautiful even in 2021. The duel towards the end with Luke and Vader offers some of the best shots in the franchise and an epic feel despite coming off as occasionally intimate. Again, it’s probably another reason why people look at “Star Wars” as if it were a western instead of a traditional science fiction or fantasy story all the time. “The Empire Strikes Back” is one of the greatest, most magnificently crafted pieces of art ever known to man and it is a film that is likely only going to continue to get better as years pass by. It is a film truly deserving of a 10/10.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for the final film in the original “Star Wars” trilogy and that is going to be for “Return of the Jedi.” Get ready for Ewoks, the Emperor, and Jabba the Hutt! That review will be up tomorrow, Friday, May 28th! And after that, I will be doing the final review in the 7 Days of Star Wars event, which will be for “The Force Awakens,” the first film in the sequel trilogy. If you want to see these upcoming reviews, follow Scene Before either with email or WordPress account, and if you’re on Facebook, like the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Empire Strikes Back?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite sequel ever? It doesn’t even have to be a movie. It can be a book. It can be a video game. Heck, it can even be Diet Coke! A worthy successor and slightly healthier edition of an iconic drink! Not sponsored, I promise. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

THE PHANTOM MENACE: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/23/star-wars-episode-i-the-phantom-menace-1999-worst-for-chronologically-first/

ATTACK OF THE CLONES: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/24/star-wars-episode-ii-attack-of-the-clones-2002-a-revisit-to-my-first-star-wars-movie/

REVENGE OF THE SITH: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/25/star-wars-episode-iii-revenge-of-the-sith-2005-my-favorite-star-wars-prequel-ever/

STAR WARS/A NEW HOPE: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/26/star-wars-1977-an-ageless-adventure/

ROGUE ONE: https://flicknerd.com/2016/12/16/rogue-one-a-star-wars-story-a-movie-built-on-hope/

THE LAST JEDI: https://flicknerd.com/2017/12/15/star-wars-episode-viii-the-last-jedi-2017-another-year-another-star-wars-movie/

SOLO: https://flicknerd.com/2018/05/25/solo-a-star-wars-story-2018-somehow-this-star-wars-movie-exists/

THE RISE OF SKYWALKER: https://flicknerd.com/2019/12/20/star-wars-the-rise-of-skywalker-2019-the-final-word-in-the-story/

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

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

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

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

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

May the maclunkey be with you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017): Another Year, Another Star Wars Movie

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“Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi” is directed by Rian Johnson (Looper, Brick) and has a cast including Daisy Ridley (Only Yesterday, Murder on the Orient Express), Mark Hamill (Batman: The Animated Series, Kingsman: The Secret Service), John Boyega (The Circle, Detroit), Adam Driver (Logan Lucky, Girls), Domhnall Gleeson (American Made, Ex Machina), Carrie Fisher (Family Guy, The Blues Brothers), Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina, Drive), Gwendoline Christie (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, Game of Thrones), Laura Dern (The Founder, Jurassic Park), Billie Lourd (Scream Queens, American Horror Story), and Benicio Del Toro (Snatch, Sicario) and continues the journey of Rey, Finn, Poe, all of those people in the second installment of the “Star Wars” sequel trilogy.

Before we go any further, I’m just gonna give a little information towards the reality of this movie. The movie just came out, there are some films that maybe some people would care about that others wouldn’t, and there are also films that people just don’t care about at all. As far as I’m aware, a significant portion of the world’s population cares about “The Last Jedi.” So let me have everyone know, for the sake of the world’s population, this review is SPOILER-FREE for those who haven’t gotten a chance to see this film yet. If I spoil anything in the movie, perhaps regardless of whether I warn anyone or not, the Internet, and by that I mean pretty much the ENTIRE INTERNET will want to kill me.

This film is a follow-up to “The Force Awakens,” I love that movie, I saw it in the theater four times, I think it’s the best movie released in 2015 despite it being a rip-off the 1977 “Star Wars.” Although there is a positive to that, specifically that this may be the best “special edition” of “A New Hope.” In this brand new sequel, I was hoping for one thing. It’s no ripoff! I wouldn’t mind them tinkering around with certain ideas from “The Empire Strikes Back,” after all, this is the second installment in the sequel trilogy, much like how “Empire” is the second installment in the original trilogy. Does this movie take some ideas from “The Empire Strikes Back?” It does, but having seen this, I wouldn’t say it goes overboard. In fact, I’d even say it takes an idea from “Return of the Jedi.” Going back to “The Force Awakens,” I wouldn’t say it’s a complete ripoff of “A New Hope,” because it borrowed a trait shared by multiple characters from “The Empire Strikes Back.” In a way, you can say the two movies are similar that way.

Going into this film, I couldn’t help but think to myself “They better not freaking redo “Empire,” which as mentioned, didn’t happen. Walking out of it, it exceeded my expectations. This film continues to show why “Star Wars” is one of the greatest franchises ever. Is it as good as “The Force Awakens?” In my personal opinion, no. Some people will probably say it’s better given it’s less of a copy-paste type film, even though elements of that do exist here. However, there are those that will probably appreciate this film based on what it does with its characters. There are flaws, and I will touch upon them right now.

In the movie, there’s a subplot involving the character of Finn. There’s a point in the movie’s first act where Finn meets this girl named Rose, played by Kelly Marie Tran (Hot Girls on the Beach, Untouchable). There were a couple moments that I wasn’t really all that invested, and as far as the rest of the film goes, their relationship builds to a point where I thought their current status wasn’t exactly earned. It didn’t affect much of the movie, although it is a problem.

Next up we have Porgs. Say what you want about them. You think they’re cute, annoying, unneeded, whatever. My thoughts: They added NOTHING to the film! All they really are, to my lack of surprise, are a bunch of puny guinea pig-esque creatures that turned this movie into a toy commercial for a brief moment! On a positive note, it’s NOWHERE near as bad as what “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” did with Baby Groot! The Porgs weren’t even in the movie that much! It’s not like they’re the next Jar Jar Binks or something! Seriously though, as much as I’m surprisingly not annoyed by the Porgs, I am still unhappy they had no real use character-wise. But what do you expect? This is a Disney product after all…

Everything else in the movie however, was excellent. The progression of the characters was pretty much perfect! Seeing Luke again was a treat, and Mark Hamill didn’t fail to impress me at all! The visuals, whether they’re practical or not, as usual, are spectacular! The movie managed to convince me with its darkness, I’m so amazed that this came out as well as it did!

As mentioned, I consider “The Last Jedi” to be an effective character movie. For example, you have the character of Rey. You may remember in “The Force Awakens” she has a strong connection with the force, and she went off to meet Luke Skywalker. This sequel continues right where the last film left off, the two talk and they seem to have different attitudes and mindsets. Daisy Ridley as an actress is absolutely impressive, I want to see more of her in other movies. I’d probably have to wait a bit to get that because “Star Wars Episode IX” is happening. I will also say, there’s one scene where she’s on the island, there are Reys in a line, just prepare yourself for that scene because it’s awesome.

Speaking of characters who make a return in this film, Adam Driver is back as the evil Kylo Ren. In the last movie, Adam played a very convincing villain, I loved his performance as Kylo, and his relationship to Han Solo made the movie better. Now he’s here in this movie and he’s just awesome. I will say though, I do have a minor complaint, and it’s a continuity error. At the beginning of the movie, we see Kylo with his mask on. If you remember Kylo in “The Force Awakens,” we last see him with his mask off. This is on Starkiller Base, where he takes his mask off in a different part of the planet-wide facility. Based on what this movie suggests, and you can say this is suggested in the last movie as well, Kylo made it off the planet just in time before it completely exploded. They never really showed Kylo going back for his mask. Maybe General Hux, who played a part of the First Order in the last film, got it as the planet was collapsing. Given Kylo’s condition, it’s unlikely he went back, so what happened in all actuality? Nevertheless, Kylo was an absolute beast and he continues to prove his effectiveness as a villain. One more thing before I move on, in “The Force Awakens,” Rey roasts Kylo with this line:

“You. You’re afraid. That you’ll never be as strong as Darth Vader.”

In that film, the line literally made Kylo at a loss not only for words, but for actions. The roast party isn’t over, because there’s another one in “The Last Jedi” that regardless of which one I technically like better, I thought had greater execution. Instead of making Kylo speechless, we got to see him rage out like a five year old who wants to run away from home. I won’t say who says the roast, but it’s amazing.

Speaking of characters on the Dark Side, let’s talk about Andy Serkis’s character of Supreme Leader Snoke. In “The Force Awakens,” we’ve only seen Snoke through a hologram. Since his first appearance, fans have developed theories about Snoke’s true identity, some of which I found interesting. Is he Jar Jar? Is he Mace Windu? Is he Boba Fett? And this last one that absolutely intrigues me, is he Darth Plagueis the Wise? Heck! There’s even a Ranker list called “12 Theories About The Identity of Supreme Leader Snoke In Star Wars.” All theories aside, Snoke was awesome! He was as evil as he needed to be and there’s one scene with him that’s a huge highlight of the film for me.

John Boyega also returns here as Finn and I mentioned how Finn meets a certain character whose relationship I couldn’t appreciate as much as I would have wanted, but there’s more to Finn in this movie than just meeting someone. For example, he has a more active role in the Resistance, he’s fighting more than he did in the last movie and comes off as more confident, and speaking of fights, he reunites with Captain Phasma, who is a character that has gained a fan following in the last movie, and the two have a duel.

Speaking of characters from the last movie, Poe Dameron returns here. I see Poe as the “new Han Solo.” I say this based on his hairstyle, his mannerisms, and his ability to pilot a ship. Granted it’s not a freighter and it’s a simple X-Wing, but he reminds me of Han Solo. I’ve seen many people on social media saying they love this character. I don’t think he’s terrible, but I also would say the reactions to the character happened to be a little overhyped. OK, yes, he did take out a bunch of fighters in one sick shot, but there’s not really much that made Poe stand out there compared to other characters. I’d say after watching this movie, I’d say Poe was better here than he was in “The Force Awakens.” He added more to the story, and seeing him struggle at a point in the film made him stick out. As you can see in the image above, Poe is running alongside BB-8, who was once again, charming. One of my favorite scenes in the film is actually when BB-8 is “disguised” as an MSE-6 droid. Don’t know what that is? It’s basically this tiny car that is often something that rolls around any floor that is the property of the Imperial forces. BB-8 is copying the sounds it makes and I love it!

I cannot explain Mark Hamill’s role as Luke in “The Force Awakens” better than the movie’s Honest Trailer did:

“THE EASIEST MONEY MARK HAMILL EVER MADE.”

Basically, it’s just him standing on an island, looking at Rey. Here in “The Last Jedi,” Mark Hamill does a lot more as the character of Luke. I don’t know how many people will agree with me when I say this, but this must be my all time favorite performance when it comes to Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker. As if the writing wasn’t great enough already, Hamill aced his character as an old hermit. Luke has become a regretful, anti-social, and broken person after a long period of time. The transition is extremely fluid and made me truly care for Luke. You know how in the teaser for the movie, it’s exposed that Luke wants the Jedi to end? That’s explained in this film, and the explanation just made me feel sorry for Luke in general.

On the topic of original trilogy characters, let’s move on to the saddest thing about the movie, Carrie Fisher. Her final “Star Wars” performance was a thing of beauty. Much like in the previous film, she didn’t have too much to do, but for what she had, it kept me interested. There’s one scene that’s actually kind of exposed in the trailers, and it’s one of the best parts of the entire film. The one where Kylo Ren is flying in his ship, Leia’s aboard another ship, and the two notice each through the power of the force. Also, much like the other “Star Wars” films, there’s no credit scenes, however, during the credits, right before the scrolling segment begins, there’s a text stating “In loving memory of CARRIE FISHER.”

Let’s take a look at two previous “Star Wars” installments, “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Attack of the Clones.” This film, like those, was advertised to be dark. “The Empire Strikes Back,” to me, was dark based on the conflicts going on and the upper hand which the Empire has during the film. “Attack of the Clones” tries to be dark but ends up failing by not making you believe in what’s going on and focusing on the romance between Anakin and Padme that just makes the movie feel like a fantasy novel of some kind. The darkness of this film was present and I felt it deeply. The Resistance is getting wiped out all over the place, Luke is broken, and the climax isn’t all that fortunate either. It gives a similar feeling to the climax of “Empire,” which ends on a cliffhanger. After seeing this movie, I’m just eager to see the ninth installment!

John Williams (right) returns in this film as the composer. He’s done all the main films in the saga, but he didn’t do last year’s spinoff, “Rogue One.” Out of all the scores I’ve heard from John Williams in the “Star Wars” saga, I didn’t really think this one impressed me as much as the others. I’ll probably have to either watch the movie again or listen to the soundtrack to be sure, but the soundtrack just sounded repetitive, there was nothing really new. At least that’s what I recall. Granted, there were times where the music was awesome, but it just felt like stuff I’ve heard before. Speaking of that, the opening song from “The Last Jedi” has a similarity to the opening song from “A New Hope.”

Staying on that topic, not to put the movie down or anything, but the opening felt, well, unexpectedly fast paced. I mean, none of the “Star Wars” openings ever felt “slow,” but the movie quickly got to dialogue which was unexpected.

I won’t really go on for too much longer, but another highlight from the film is the sound editing. Out of any “Star Wars” film I’ve seen, I have to say, this might be the best when it comes to sound. There were moments when the sound literally made me feel tense. It reminds me of “Interstellar” during the docking scene and the sound literally just goes out.

In the end, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is a terrific ride, I loved every minute. This was one of the most engaging movie experiences I’ve had all year, and after seeing this, I cannot wait for “Episode IX!” The characters continue to progress to points where I appreciate them more than ever, there are multiple scenes I want to go back and watch again, and again, I’ll mention, the sound work is unbelievable in this film, some of the best I’ve heard all year! I’m gonna give “Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi” a 9/10. This movie is not as good as “The Force Awakens” in my personal opinion, but it’s slightly better than “Rogue One.” Part of me just wants to time travel into the future, just so I can see “Episode IX,” but until then, I’ll just have to wait. I really enjoyed this movie, I think you guys will feel the same way, and I’m just glad this isn’t a total ripoff of another great “Star Wars” film. Thanks for reading this review, if you are interested in seeing “The Last Jedi,” there’s a good chance you can go see it anywhere, but I have a link below that will take you to a list of some of the best possible ways to view the movie. “The Last Jedi” is playing in eleven theaters that contain IMAX 70mm equipment. To find out which theaters are on the list, click the link below and read the post. Stay tuned for more reviews and other content! I want to know, did you see “The Last Jedi?” What are your thoughts? Are you going to see it? Also, where does this movie rank in the “Star Wars” universe for you? Let me know all of that down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is Getting the IMAX 70mm Treatment and a History of Star Wars in IMAX!: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2017/10/17/star-wars-episode-viii-the-last-jedi-is-getting-the-imax-70mm-treatment-and-a-history-of-star-wars-in-imax/

Top 10 WORST Star Wars Original Trilogy Special Edition Changes *SPOILERS*

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! In 1977, George Lucas released “Star Wars.” It became an instant hit with critics, audiences, and has spawned a fandom that has lasted for decades. Years ahead, two sequels which have also been met with positive reception have been released. I have just watched Harmy’s Despecialized Edition of the original “Star Wars” trilogy, and going through all three movies in HD quality was an utter blast. These editions eliminate the changes provided over the years to the original trilogy by George Lucas since 1997 which have been bashed by fans over the years, and I wholeheartedly approve of these editions. As much as I appreciate George Lucas for starting the “Star Wars” craze, he has also brought tons of chaos tons of chaos to the franchise from making notable changes to it in the series’s so-called “Special Editions” in 1997, again in 2004, and once more in 2011. Today, we’re going to look at the worst of these changes, specifically the top 10 WORST of these changes. If you like these changes, that’s your opinion, not mine. You’re allowed to have that thought, even though we are on opposite sides of the spectrum. Just because I have a certain change listed here that you like, it doesn’t make your opinion invalid. If you like these changes, rock on. Also, just in case you didn’t look hard enough, these changes pertain towards the original trilogy only. There have been changes made overtime in the prequel trilogy as well, but that’s not what this list is about. So let’s dive into it, these are the top 10 WORST “Star Wars” original trilogy “Special Edition” changes.

#10: Echo Change (Episode IV: A New Hope)

This change here is one that I’m surprised I don’t hear more people don’t talk about. Maybe it doesn’t bother other people all that much, but in reality, it kind of irks me. As our heroes are escaping from the Death Star, we see them running around in various directions. We also see Luke and Leia together, they pass through a door, and they almost fall into an abyss. It’s at this point that Luke says “I think we took a wrong turn!” A few lines of dialogue are spoken by Luke and Leia as they try to find their way through to the opposite side, because after all, you can’t get there by foot. In the original version, as this dialogue is uttered, we hear echos. Although in 2004, this has been redone. According to Wookiepedia, AKA Wikipedia for “Star Wars,” this has been “redone more realistically.” Regardless of realism, the original echo had an effect that felt rather chilling. There was something about that echo when I watched the movie that just felt like it was irreplaceable. This echo, doesn’t even feel like it’s there. When I watched the movie and I heard what I heard, I just wondered, where’s the echo? I don’t even hear an echo. This is an early spot on the list as I’m able to tolerate this and it doesn’t really have much an effect on what I’m watching. Speaking of this spot, I almost put the “Jedi Rocks” song on here, but it barely lost because there was some music playing before it that wasn’t in the original cut of the film that sounded fine. These two could change, but you never know.

#9: “It’s all right, I can see a lot better!” (Episode VI: Return of the Jedi)

It was established in “The Empire Strikes Back” that Han Solo has a relationship with Lando Calrissian. Unfortunately, in “Return of the Jedi,” the relationship was nearing an end. During the battle that takes place on Tatooine during the movie, the Sarlacc which has been introduced during around said time frame, snatches Lando. He’s about to be consumed, but luckily, Han Solo’s here to save the day! In the original movie, the way it goes down is pretty much how I explained it, Han is aiming at the creature with his body upside down. At one point, Lando shouts “No, wait! I thought you were blind!” Han replies saying “It’s all right, trust me!” Han soon pulls the trigger of his blaster thus saving Lando. The 1997 Special Edition didn’t exactly play out the same way. Instead of Han saying “It’s all right, trust me” he said “It’s all right, I can see a lot better!” For those of you who forgot or haven’t seen the movie, the beginning of “Return of the Jedi” is when Han Solo was released from the carbonite which kept him frozen. He couldn’t see a thing, but according to Leia, who at that point was dressed as a bounty hunter, his eyesight would return in time. This is one of those moments on this list, where a line happened to be changed when it didn’t need to be because it was already good enough. I’m not entirely against line changing as long as it’s effective, but in my view, the first line was good, but this wasn’t. Speaking of Han Solo…

#8: Greedo Shoots First (Episode IV: A New Hope)

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This is a change that pretty much every single “Star Wars” fan has known about if they’ve paid close enough attention. I have three words for you: HAN SHOT FIRST! Although according to the first Special Edition, he didn’t. Instead, the bounty hunter referred to as Greedo pulls his trigger first. For those of you who don’t know, the first “Star Wars” film had a scene where we get information that Han Solo was being searched by bounty hunters all over. This is because he hasn’t yet paid Jabba the Hutt. So in the scene where we find this out, one bounty hunter by the name of Greedo stops him and Han Solo tells him that he doesn’t have money at the moment to pay Jabba. Their conversation goes down until a point where Greedo is shot by Han. Greedo getting shot doesn’t change, but the execution of the scene has gone through multiple changes. Let’s go through them one by one.

In 1997, when the first Special Editions released, most of the dialogue in the scene is the same as the original, but there’s one piece that’s missing. The line last line given by Greedo here is this: “That’s the idea… I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.” That line wasn’t changed, however the following line given by Han Solo, which was originally “Yeah, I’ll bet you have,” changed in the first Special Edition to “I’ll bet you have.” Here we see a shot fired not only by Han, but also by Greedo. Also, if you observe closely in the shot, you can see Greedo’s shot coming out of his blaster before Han’s! This is a change which from a general perspective, has probably outraged more fans than any other when it comes to the “Star Wars” saga. In fact, it doesn’t end there!

In 2004, when the original trilogy released on DVD, George Lucas decided to change it again! He took the 1997 “I’ll bet you have” and altered it back to the way it was in 1977 which was “Yeah, I’ll bet you have.” After that, Greedo still shoots first, but Han pulls his trigger faster than he did in the 1997 version, not to mention he dodges Greedo’s shot. Guess what? THIS TRAIN KEEPS ON ROLLING!

We then get to 2011, which is the year the entire saga came out on Blu-Ray. The change here is minor, no lines have been altered this time around, but the scene is shorter.

What’s so striking to me about these changes is that George can’t even make up his mind. The scene has been changed not once, not twice, but thrice! The change in general also makes Han Solo look like less of a badass. In the original cut, you see him talking and you get this sense that he’s just capable of handling himself in battle or in near death experiences. And while he was still able to handle himself, this almost feels like a lighter version of the scene we’ve gotten before, the other one just had a feel that made Han Solo Han Solo. He took no nonsense and you don’t want to mess around with him. Let me just say, if someone asks me, “Who shot first?” I’d always respond with, “Han Solo.”

#7: “You were lucky to get out of there.” (Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back)

When it comes to “The Empire Strikes Back,” I own both the 2004 and original edition, but I watched the 2004 version many more times, so this was one of those changes I either didn’t notice or didn’t care about for awhile. So, Luke is in his X-Wing, he’s entering the Dagobah system, which he assures to the droid alongside him, R2-D2, is “perfectly safe for droids.” Yeeeeah. Totally safe. It’s so safe that R2-D2 drowns in water moments upon entering the planet! To be accurate, he didn’t drown due to not being suited to being in water, he was still able to to move just fine. Although his disappearance was due to a dragonsnake swallowing him. Apparently R2 wasn’t down for that long because he’s spat out and goes flying. Luke moves over to R2 as he lands on the ground. At one point he helps get R2 back on his “feet.” It’s here when Luke says “You’re lucky you don’t taste very good.” That was what many audiences may have heard for the first time until 1997. When 1997’s Special Editions came out, the line was changed to “You were lucky to get out of there.” It’s a change that dwindles a chuckle from viewers and ultimately makes the moment feel a little more cliche. Let me ask you something. You are in the ocean, and a great white shark is approaching, you are the one that’s almost about to get eaten as everyone is escaping. Somehow you make it out, but you wasted a lot more time getting out. Would you feel more satisfaction hearing “You’re lucky you don’t taste very good” or “You were lucky to get out of there?” Not to mention, the way these two phrases are uttered kind of make a difference. Luke almost sounds more depressed when he says the “Special Edition” quote. Luke seems a little more optimistic when he says the original quote. Sure, he is in a strange situation, but you can still be in a strange situation and provide at least a glass half full tone.

#6: Boba Fett Voice Change (Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back)

Many people who watched “The Empire Strikes Back” were introduced to the character of Boba Fett, a bounty hunter who is contacted by Darth Vader in order to help in the pursuit for Han Solo. Believe it or not, this wasn’t the fellow’s first appearance. Those who were unfortunate enough to watch “Star Wars: The Holiday Special” on TV back in 1978 got a glimpse of Boba Fett before he appeared in “Empire.” Also, if you watch the newer editions of “A New Hope,” he appears in that too after being digitally remastered. In 1980, people may not have been curious to know who did the voice for Boba Fett. By the way, that person is Jason Wingreen. Although in George Lucas’s universe, that’s false. In 2004, he changed the voice in order to match with how Boba Fett was portrayed in “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.” This didn’t just apply to Boba Fett in that movie, but also his father, Jango Fett. In “Attack of the Clones,” it is established that Boba Fett is an unaltered clone raised by Jango. This lead to a change that involved replacing the execution of four lines given by Boba considering those four lines happen to be all the dialogue he said. Who did the talking for this? Temuera Morrison, AKA the guy who played Jango Fett in “Attack of the Clones.” I wouldn’t mind this if it were done with a sense of enthusiasm or a lack of robotic talking. The original voiceover artist for Boba Fett seemed to display more emotion in terms of their delivery. These newer voiceovers done by Morrison, just feel like the actor went into a booth, didn’t care about what they were doing, maybe they either never saw “Empire” or its been awhile since they’ve seen it to understand the character of Boba Fett, and it just turned a great voiceover to a crappy voiceover. The original voice sounded like Boba Fett was constantly on the hunt, always on the move. This new voice just sounded like a guy who just served people of higher power. I will say, if George Lucas actually got Gilbert Gottfried to do the voice of Boba Fett as a Special Edition change, I’d actually watch that non-stop, because Gilbert Gottfried’s f*cking awesome! Gilbert Gottfried can appear in “Super Mario Bros.: The Movie” and I’d probably watch it just for him. Maybe not the whole movie, but the scenes featuring Gilbert Gottfried as long as he’s not in the whole picture.

#5: Jabba the Hutt (Episode IV: A New Hope)

In 1983, audiences everywhere were introduced to the chubby slug known as Jabba the Hutt. These viewers may have heard Jabba’s name before, specifically in 1977 during the Han and Greedo conversation, but they never saw Jabba on screen in that film, nor did they see him in “The Empire Strikes Back.” Well, that all changed in 1997. Turns out prior to our heroes escaping Mos Eisley in the Millennium Falcon, Han Solo has a conversation with Jabba. Harrison Ford didn’t come back to shoot this, the scene was actually done while the film was originally in production, and Jabba wasn’t even a slug. He was actually human. Although when the 1997 release came out, the Jabba and Solo conversation was added on and Jabba received CGI achievement. For those of you who don’t know, CGI is short for computer-generated imagery. In this circumstance, I think CGI actually stands for completely gruesome insanity! LOOK AT THIS CRAP (top image)! To be fair, it was 1997, but it’s still revolting! So the two have a conversation that has similar dialogue given in the Han and Greedo scene, which just contributes to redundancy. At one point, Han steps on Jabba’s tail, making him utter a sound the world would have never heard had he been a human. Han says he’ll pay Jabba back with extra, to which Jabba is happy to hear, but if Han fails, he would be searched for and the price on his head would be significantly enormous. The thing that really makes this scene fail is Han’s final line. “Jabba, you’re a wonderful human being.” If this were the original movie in 1977 and they kept this scene in, it would have worked better. Not completely, but it would work. George Lucas would have kept human Jabba, that way we don’t have to see terrible CGI and Han stepping on a tail. This would have still failed as a scene due to what’s written in the script, but it still would have been better. The final line given by Han Solo would have worked better too. After all, why would A SLUG be called A HUMAN BEING?! Not to mention, a WONDERFUL HUMAN BEING?! So basically, Jabba says that he’d put a price on Han’s head, and the conversation ends by saying “You’re a wonderful human being?!” Oy vey! Not to mention, this change takes away some of the suspense people originally had about Jabba the Hutt. Imagine if someone who watched this movie a lot prior to the Special Editions showed these flicks to their kids, and that person ends up showing an unoriginal version. The kid would know what Jabba looks like before progressing into “Return of the Jedi!” It just takes away some of the mystery of Jabba as a character and now he’s just shoved in your face. You know, like pie. Unfortunately, this change has not been erased in any of the newer versions, although in 2004, the CGI for Jabba was redone (bottom image) and it looks a lot better.

#4: R2-D2 Behind Rocks (Episode IV: A New Hope)

One thing that has been changed more than once throughout the original “Star Wars” film is the scream given when Obi-Wan appears to scare off the Tusken Raiders. For the record, neither of those on the list. A change that IS however on this list takes place around the same time. In the 2011 Blu-Ray release, you might notice R2 before and after the scream occurs. Although guess what? He’s covered behind lots of rocks! I hate this change because it basically insults your intelligence! Sure, Han not shooting first is irritating to see because of how it diminishes the character in terms of how badass he is, but in reality, you can show Han shooting first to someone that’s observant enough and they won’t question the realism or accuracy of what’s happening on screen. Here with this, you just question humanity itself! How does R2, a droid the size he is with the capabilities he’s got, get in that hiding spot? There was no establishment behind how he got there! If you look at the hole, it’s smaller than R2 itself! In the original scene, you can see R2 near some rocks, but it’s not enough to create a shadow upon him! I have one thing to say about this scene, it doesn’t ROCK!

#3: Luke Screams Down the Pit (Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back)

A lot of people consider “The Empire Strikes Back” the best “Star Wars” film and one of the best sequels of all time. Part of this is due to its iconic scenes, how its characters develop. it’s emotional score, and how it brought a twist that not many people saw coming, the fact that Darth Vader is Luke’s father. Interesting fact by the way, the Dutch word for father is vader (fah-der), and the German word is vater (pronounced similarly to Dutch word), so as much as audiences may have been shocked by this reveal, this does leave me to wonder, how shocked were the Dutch and Germans? Anyway, if you’ve seen the movie, chances are you’d be familiar with this reveal. Luke and Vader are in a duel, Luke’s hand gets sliced off by Vader’s lightsaber, Vader is trying to convince Luke to join the Dark Side, and he also tells Luke the truth about his father, the fact that Vader himself, is Luke’s father. Moments later, Luke falls down a pit. In the original version, Luke is just falling, he isn’t really making any random noises. However in the 1997 version, he is. After Darth Vader says “Come with me, it is the only way,” Luke makes his dissent down the pit, and at one point, comes out this strange, peculiar, ridiculous noise. If you want to be more simplistic, that noise was a scream. That scream by the way, wasn’t even Mark Hamill’s voice. That voice, was Ian McDiarmid’s. If you don’t know who Ian McDiarmid is, he plays the Emperor and Palpatine in the saga. For the record, McDiarmid didn’t come in to let out a scream, they actually took the scream from when he died in “Return of the Jedi.” This moment might as well be called “Return of the Scream.” I for one, admittedly, haven’t watched the 1997 Special Edition all the way through, but I’ve seen a clip on YouTube where this all goes down. Luckily, when George Lucas was making more changes to the trilogy in 2004, this scream of insanity has been removed. And no, it has not been brought back when the Blu-Ray release came out in 2011.

#2: Get Out of the Way, Dinosaur! (Episode IV: A New Hope)

This is a change that starts out as somewhat tolerable. Just a little extra bits to introduce Mos Eisley. Granted it’s unnecessary, but it’s not like we’re watching a couple of Stormtroopers engage in intercourse or something. Then we get to footage audiences have seen prior to the Special Editions’ arrival. As the four Stormtroopers from the mind-trick scene gather around Luke’s speeder, we get one of the worst uses of CGI of all time! While these four troops are moving, a giant dinosaur is literally blocking EVERYTHING on the screen! What’s going on?! Let us see the damn movie! We don’t want to see some random green piece of s*it covering the frame! It’s abominable! If I wanted to see a movie where there was CGI covering the frame, I’d go watch “Guardians of the Galaxy!” The whole dinosaur placement just doesn’t make sense in general because it doesn’t let you observe the landscape of Mos Eisley unlike the original scene. There’s not really much to say about this except that it just makes you want more than one galaxy to have its dinosaurs extinct.

#1: Darth Vader Yells “No!” (Episode VI: Return of the Jedi)

Before we get into my #1 pick, let me just have you know that I don’t own the 2011 Blu-Ray for “Return of the Jedi,” however I have seen this online and when it played on TV once on Halloween in the year of 2016 on TBS. If I owned the Blu-Ray, I’d feel like a completionist, although at the same time, I’d be ashamed because that means I own the version where Darth Vader screams “no” at the end of the movie! I’ve watched “Return of the Jedi” countless times as a kid. Both the original and 2004 edition since I possessed the 2006 limited release. I’ve never had to deal with this crap then. It wasn’t awhile til I found out this change existed and it literally just changed everything. I could tolerate minor dialogue changes! I could tolerate random CGI moments! I could tolerate Han shooting second! But this! THIS! I’ll be back, I just gotta go jump out a window!

*OPENS WINDOW*

*JUMPS*

*FALLS FLAT ON THE GROUND WITH BLOOD EVERYWHERE, SCREAMS IN PAIN, SWEARING, TAKING THE LORD’S NAME IN VAIN, GETS WEAKER BY THE SECOND. SOMEONE SEES ME, THE NARRATOR, TRUST ME, THE NARRATOR, ON THIS STATEMENT, AND USES MAGICAL POWERS TO REHABILITATE ME, THE NARRATOR, BACK TO NORMAL*

(CATCHES BREATH) OK, I’m back! Just so you know, one of my favorite scenes in the original trilogy is in “Return of the Jedi” where Luke is being electrocuted by The Emperor. Before that, Darth Vader’s hand is cut off by Luke, almost as if it were revenge from when Vader cut Luke’s off in “Empire.” We see through symbolism that Luke has a line between the light and dark sides. We see one hand that’s without a glove and one that’s with a black glove. The Emperor is telling Luke to fulfill his destiny and join the Dark Side. Luke then decides that he won’t turn. This leaves the Emperor to start killing him with his bare hands (and the lightning coming out of them). Darth Vader is standing up, watching all of this go down. The Emperor is just brutally striking him down (literally) and Luke is begging to Darth Vader for help. There’s a brief pause, we see The Emperor’s face and he says, “Now young Skywalker, you will die.” Seconds later, The Emperor’s hands are releasing lightning again and Luke is screaming like crazy. We see Darth Vader moving his helmet back and forth toward Skywalker and the Emperor, the music achieves cinematic bliss levels as if it weren’t at those levels to begin with, and Darth Vader uses the strength he has left to lift up the Emperor and throw him down a pit where he screams like a wimp. We then see tons of smoke signifying he died from an explosion after hitting a core and it’s just a small portion of what I consider to be one of the most powerful scenes in the “Star Wars” saga, and possibly cinematic history. It’s a scene that I feel covers conflict, not to mention resolving it and choosing to do good. The music is one of the greatest musical achievements (as far as my opinion is concerned, in all of cinema). The explosion sends chills down my spine whenever I see it. Unfortunately, Lucas had to ruin a defining scene in the saga. Just. F*ck. My. Life.

Leading up to the electrocution, the scene is similar to how it was in previous versions, but as soon as we get to the part after the brief pause, we see Darth Vader once again, glancing in one direction and switching to the other, then we hear this:

DARTH VADER: No. (Turns to The Emperor) NOOOOOOOOOO!

As the second, everlasting “no” is uttered by Vader, he lifts up the Emperor, and like in the original scene, throws him down the pit.

As if changing the movies in 1997 and 2004 weren’t crazy enough, Lucas had this “brilliant” idea to screw it up just a tad more. Here’s the thing about that scene, not only is it, like these movies, somewhat nostalgic, but also powerful. That power is lost because Vader spoke, ruining the scene’s dramatic and chilling effect. You hear that music swell up from one level to another, you realize, this is the moment Darth Vader changed his ways, he’s now a good soul. Now, the movie shoves it in your face. During this scene, we KNOW Darth Vader isn’t happy about this situation, we KNOW how he feels! This whole change, I imagine, not only erases history, but it also just vandalizes a moment where we can all see what’s going down, and get the point. Here on the Blu-Ray, it feels like we are viewed as unintelligent and need something as simple as pressing a button explained to us. Not to mention, it reminds a lot of fans the time Darth Vader yelled “no” at the end of “Revenge of the Sith,” which a lot of those folks didn’t like. There have been multiple scenes that have been altered in any way, shape, or form, and when that has been done in 1997 and 2004, I imagine some people thought “Hey, at least the last moments before The Emperor dies is fine!” Well according to George Lucas, it wasn’t. He’s an interesting man. He spent the seventies establishing childhoods, and went on later in life to ruin them.

That’s all for this post. Thanks for reading this countdown! Please stay tuned for more content as I will have you know if you didn’t already that I’m going to see “Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi” on December 14th, which is the night it opens. While I am admittedly, worried for how this film will turn out, I am also stoked because this is the first main film in the “Star Wars” universe that I’m seeing it the night it comes out. Also, for those of you who are planning to go see the new “Star Wars” movie in theaters, I’ll remind you that yes, it’s playing just about anywhere, but there are ELEVEN special theaters, which is technically TEN in the United States and ONE in the United Kingdom, that will be playing “Star Wars Episode VIII” in IMAX 70mm. You don’t want to miss out on this one of a kind experience, so if you want more information on that plus a history of “Star Wars” in IMAX, click the link below and that’ll take you right where you need to go. Stay tuned for more reviews and posts! Also, what do you think is the worst change in the original “Star Wars” trilogy? Why do you despise it? Do you like any of the changes? If so, tell me why you do. Leave your thoughts in the comments below and let’s see if we can agree with each other! Scene Before is your click to the flicks, and to conclude this post, here’s a line from “Blade Runner” that describes how I feel about these Special Edition changes.

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-Beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain… Time to die. –Batty

“STAR WARS EPISODE VIII: THE LAST JEDI IS GETTING THE IMAX 70MM TREATMENT AND A HISTORY OF STAR WARS IN IMAX https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2017/10/17/star-wars-episode-viii-the-last-jedi-is-getting-the-imax-70mm-treatment-and-a-history-of-star-wars-in-imax/

Rhode Island Comic Con 2017 Review and Haul

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! If you were in Providence, RI last weekend like I was, there’s a good chance you were there for Rhode Island Comic Con, which advertises itself to be “The BIGGEST show in the smallest state!” I went for my third year in a row, I had my reasons for going, and despite wanting to go right away just because I had a lot of fun at this event for the past two years I went, new enormous reasons developed along the way. Mainly the fact that a good number of the people who were in “Revenge of the Nerds” were showing up. Not to mention, you’ve also got the legends I like to call Curtis Armstrong (Booger) and Robert Carradine (Lewis), the hosts of “King of the Nerds,” which is perhaps one of the most overlooked shows I’ve ever watched in my entire life.

The convention had one of the biggest lineups for any con I’ve seen. If you want to come here for autographs or photo ops, you’ve got the whole day ahead of you because you’ve got a plethora of guests from various realms including movies, TV, and music. For movies, I’ve recently mentioned the cast of “Revenge of the Nerds” was having a reunion, but you’ve also got a couple folks from the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies including Dave Bautista, who you may know as Drax the Destroyer, Sebastian Stan, who you may know as the Winter Soldier, and Paul Bettany, who you may know as Vision and JARVIS. Not to mention you’ve even got a couple folks from “Back to the Future” including Tom Wilson (Biff Tannen) and Christopher Lloyd (Doc Emmett Brown). For TV, you’ve got a number of “Star Trek” cast members, mostly from “The Next Generation,” which includes Brent Spiner (Data), Michael Dorn (Worf), Gates McFadden (Beverly Crusher), Marina Sitris (Deanna Troi), and Jonathan Frakes (William Riker). You’ve also got a cast member from CBS All Access’s/CBS All Cash-Cow’s “Star Trek: Discovery,” Jason Isaacs (Gabriel Lorca) and a man who needs no introduction, but I’ll introduce him anyway, William f*cking Shatner (Kirk), who moderated a panel dedicated to the cast members of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” There also happened to be some cast members from “Married with Children” including Ted McGinley (Jefferson), Amanda Bearse (Marcy), and David Garrison (Steve). Also there were a couple of musical artists including Gene Simmons and Al Yankovic. This is just scratching the surface of the neverending guest list, I could write every single person’s name down, but for the sake of not killing my keyboard, I’m just gonna stop here.

There were a number of guests who also happened to be artists. I didn’t really take much of a gander at them, but I did notice that there were a lot of these people. A lot of them happened to be local, I actually happened to talk with one of them, in fact since we’re on that I actually will bring something in particular up to you all next.

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Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce, “The Overlords!” “The Overlords” is a book series written by J. Michael Squatrito Jr.. According to the website, it’s a “fantasy adventure set in the times of warriors and magic.” Seven men and a special dog embark on a journey to find the coveted treasure of the land, the bounty left behind by the ancient Four Kings. The main character is referred to as Harrison Cross, an orphaned warrior. There’s an antagonist who goes by the name of Lord Nigel Hammer, which by the way, badass name! That might even be a better name than Taserface! This antagonist has an army and often gains the upper hand which damages the adventurers. There’s also a humanoid race known as the Seynthians, who want to eliminate humanity as a whole. If you want to find out more about this, click the link below to find out about these books on their website. Also, if you’re reading this before December 2nd, the author of this book will be attending the 5th Annual Rhode Island Author Expo, where many Rhode Island authors show off their material. This takes place in Cranston, RI, so if you’re into that, check it out!

THE OVERLORDS WEBSITE: http://the-overlords.com/Default.aspx

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Moving onto the con itself, the con was more organized than I thought it would be. I say this because I’ve gone the past couple of years and they kind of f*cked up. I remember going in 2015 and it happened to be overcrowded, which interfered with me as I was simply attempting to go to a panel. In 2016, the autograph system was a little different than I was expecting it to be (in ways). The convention had multiple headliners including Millie Bobby Brown, Stan Lee, Frank Grillo, and Alice Cooper. They had you pay for your autograph at a box office before heading in line, which I didn’t even know about until the moment I was near a celebrity when I went. I don’t know how many other conventions are like this, but I don’t really think that’s a good idea, because for what I know, it’s non-refundable, which only benefits the con and not the customer, but also it prevents you from deciding whether or not getting an autograph from someone is actually a good plan. By the way, they had the same system this year for the headliners. Although one thing I did notice this year that I didn’t notice last year, is that for certain celebrities on the Dunkin Donuts Center floor, you don’t even have to pay at the box office, you can just give the money at the table. Sticking with last year’s headliners, the line for Gal Gadot was all over the place, and I know that because I was in that line. For what I know, none of the issues I encountered, including one I had this year which I’ll mention in a second, were as abysmal as 2014, a year I didn’t go. I first heard about this from a con-goer as I was facing my 2015 incident. Unlike the years I went, 2014’s Rhode Island Comic Con took place in the Rhode Island Convention Center. While it still happens there, 2015 has brought an expansion to the mix at the Dunkin Donuts Center. Although before that happened, 20,000 people had tickets, but the convention center could only hold 17,000. The convention center had to shut down due to overcapacity, making this a first in the building’s history. I had an issue where you had to literally make a loop around the Dunkin Donuts Center to get to the convention center, but that’s not the big problem I had. My main issue this year was the organization for a panel I was attending. Granted it was in a tiny room with people you’d probably only know if you were constantly surfing the web, but nevertheless, it irked me. A lot of people were in line for a panel, and when you hear what it is, you’d understand why. Apparently, around the time of my panel, which was for Channel Awesome, there was a “Game of Thrones” panel. There was almost no line whatsoever for Channel Awesome because “Game of Thrones” is more popular, but what really caught me off guard is that there were basically people next to the walls of the doors to the room which I was trying to reach happened to be located. They were in the “Game of Thrones” line. I guess size DOES matter. My suggestion is that you’d put down barriers for each panel room. When “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” came out, I went to a local theater and they had barriers for each auditorium dedicated to showing the movie so you can discern which auditorium is showing it and which line you should get into. The photo ops were organized and they didn’t even use barriers. Although it makes sense because they were in a tent which is covering the sky, and the lines happened to be drawn in yellow chalk. The staff was a mix between nice, unaware of various situations, or just there to organize. Some of the staff could have used a more pleasant tone when this happened, but still. Speaking of misunderstandings, I have a story for you, but we’ll dive into that later. For now, let’s talk about a purchase I made.

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If you like “Star Wars” but hate the changes George Lucas made to the original trilogy, you’ll love what you’re about to hear. This here is the original theatrical version reconstruction of what’s now commonly referred to as “Star Wars Episodes IV-VI.” This started out as a fan project which involved tons of Photoshopping, reconstructing, color correcting, and all sorts of other stuff in order to create an HD version of the original “Star Wars” trilogy. Hardcore fans are aware of this, but in case you don’t know, there was a time when “Star Wars” started releasing what became known as “special editions.” A name which nowadays a good number of people disapprove, because the only thing that could be considered special about the special editions is not watching them. Granted, they are still the original movies, but they’ve added some changes here and there. Pretty much all of them are unnecessary. Some of them have enraged fans, including me. What made many viewers outraged is the change made during the conversation Han Solo and Greedo have in the Cantina. Specifically, they changed Han shooting first and made Greedo shoot first. There was also a Blu-Ray release in 2011, which brought more changes, including a change to the Cantina scene where Han and Greedo shoot simultaneously. This also brought my least favorite change, which happens to be featured in “Return of the Jedi.” During the scene when Luke is being electrocuted by the Emperor, Darth Vader screams “No!” like he did at the end of “Revenge of the Sith.” So essentially, these three discs take that pile of unfortunate s*it, and throws it into a trash compactor, leaving it to die. I already have seen the original versions of the “Star Wars” original trilogy, but I can’t say I’ve seen them all in HD yet. I will say though, one complaint I have, and it’s rather minor for now, is that the discs are in 720p HD as opposed to what Blu-rays traditionally have, which is 1080p. Speaking of stars, let’s move onto some “stars” I ran into during my visit.

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Let’s start off with a guest I took a professional photo op with. This is also the first pro photo op I’ve ever done at a con. I’m pretty sure you’ll be impressed with my first choice, Christopher Lloyd. For those of you who haven’t been to conventions or don’t get to experience pro photo ops, these are very quick, so I never got to say hi to Christopher or engage in conversation with him. I did utter “Hey, man” as I was walking up to him however. One pro I will give to the entire staff behind the photo ops is that they seemed nicer than the con’s main staff. Also, for those of you who don’t know, the photo op company taking charge at this year’s convention is Celeb Photo Ops. Last year the convention had Froggy’s Photos, which I heard brought some issues last year, which is why Rhode Island Comic Con made the switch.

 

Before we get into other guests, I have a story that occurred during the con that quite honestly, will make you slap your knee harder than whenever a bitch slap occurs. So I was looking for a certain guest, and I run into this man, the man you see in the five photos above alongside me. That man is David Garrison. I don’t see anything on his table worth signing, but I notice the price for a posed photo, which happened to be $20, so I’m just going, OK, I’ll do that. I take my camera out, I give it to a guy sitting next to David, the guy is then referred to by David as a “great photographer.” The camera I was using happened to be a Samsung ST150F, which I don’t think is a bad camera for the money, but it’s by no means anything professional. I pointed out that unfortunately the camera he was using was probably not the greatest, I had more professional cameras in my mind. I tried to be humorous, calling the device “a camera that looks like something traditionally used by soccer moms.” We took five shots, then I headed away from David. Only thing is, when I headed off, I had no idea what I was in for. There was another guest two seats away from David, it’s Ted McGinley.

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The placement which was just recently described makes sense, because Ted McGinley, like David, happens to be from “Married With Children.” I actually walked up to him and I had something to say. “You say that guy (David)? I thought you were him.” I even told him “I took five photos! I paid $20!” Ted responded to me saying that he was in a similar situation when he was signing autographs for people while getting off a bus and someone asked what this was. They thought McGinley was someone else. My memory remembers him saying “George Michael” or something like that. Although it could have been David because he said he’d rub this story in David’s face if I had that worded correctly. Although when we were taking a photo I said “screw George.” Before we did that, we high-fived each other. Just a little fact about Ted, he’s known for playing Stan Gable in “Revenge of the Nerds.” When I was talking to David, I was unaware of the embarrassing situation, but he said “See you on the reruns,” obviously referring to “Married With Children” as I was walking away from him. I don’t think he quite made out what I said, but I replied back saying “And the “Nerds” movies.”

F*CK. ME.

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Here we have two autographs, one of them is from Ted McGinley, specifically the one the right. If you can read the left one clearly enough, that one was from Donald Gibb.

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Here we have a picture of me alongside Donald Gibb, a guy who some folks might refer to as Don Gibb, but also a guy who as of just recently, I personally refer to as “Surprisingly Not Santa Claus in a Live Action Movie or TV Show.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think I’m right. I scrolled through his IMDb. Gibb was fun to talk to, granted this was a day after a panel I attended featuring him so we had something to talk about, but we still had fun talking to each other.

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We’re not quite done with “Revenge of the Nerds” just yet, we’ll be coming back to it. For now, let’s focus on Channel Awesome. Channel Awesome, if you don’t know the name, is an online media production company. One of its popular series’ happens to be “Nostalgia Critic.” This is a series where Doug Walker, AKA the Nostalgia Critic (middle) gives a commentary on whatever random topic related to movies happens on his mind. Doug’s brother, Rob (left), and their father, Barney (right) also join in on Doug’s content. These folks have a pretty dedicated fanbase. I know someone who watches Channel Awesome’s material, and by the way, on Sunday, I went up to the trio and purchased an autograph for that friend. That wasn’t the only time I went up to them, because my sister was trying to get an autograph for her friend as well and this happened on Friday. When I went up on Friday, I informed the trio I wanted to help out someone who’s often shown in Channel Awesome material, Tamara Chambers. I had a DVD for “Point Break,” the original, not the remake. I figured I’d give it to them so they can give it to Tamara since she wasn’t at the con. Why was it exclusively for Tamara? I wasn’t sure if she saw “Point Break,” but if she didn’t, she could make this a part of her “Tamara’s Never Seen” series. I didn’t have the copy of the movie on me at the time, it was in my hotel room, I said I’d bring it over before the con ends. They said they have it and the movie can be an idea for Tamara to watch. I told them that was OK. I honestly figured Tamara just watches whatever she owns, I didn’t think she would take them from the Walkers or the Channel Awesome studio. Going back to Sunday, Rob noticed my shirt. You’ve already seen it in a few images, the one that says “Jar Jar Stinks.” By the way, remember the folks behind The Overlords? They thought it said “Star Wars Stinks” until I corrected them. Rob actually took a picture of it and sent it to his friend. I also attended their panel, which was advertised as a “Movies Everyone Disagrees With You On” panel, but was also, according to the panelists, a Q&A. Although it was mainly a “Movies Everyone Disagrees With You On” panel. The panel was fun, not to mention surprisingly calm, and Channel Awesome would agree because at one point, someone said they didn’t like “Napoleon Dynamite.” I own the Blu-ray for that film, but I haven’t seen it. Although it was mentioned that whenever Channel Awesome does these panels, “Napoleon Dynamite” has caused some violence in the past.

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Speaking of panels, let’s talk about one I attended on Friday. At 6:00, there was a panel for the “Revenge of the Nerds” cast called “Nerds on Stage.” This does make sense because two of the sequels in the series have similar subtitles. Those sequels are “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise” and “Revenge of the Nerds IV: Nerds in Love.” The panel was moderated by Clare Kramer, who you may know from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” as Glory and “Bring It On” as Courtney. Each actor had something to say, Donald Gibb was trying to make everyone laugh saying that he can’t read. Curtis Armstrong was talking about how he got the role of Booger and how he didn’t want it. I heard that story multiple times and it never gets old, especially when I hear it from him because he delivers it with such passion. Julia Montgomery was saying that she didn’t appear on “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise” because her character was cheating on Lewis, played by Robert Carradine. Speaking of Robert Carradine, someone asked him to do the laugh that you’d often hear in the series. Andrew Cassesse was talking about how he was much younger he was compared to the rest of the cast as the first film was in production. This was one of his earliest films, and it’s interesting to realize Andrew, who at the time, wasn’t even a teenager, appeared in a movie containing nudity, sex, and panty raids. At one point, Curtis Armstrong brings up what was originally thought of as an attempt to cash-in on “Revenge of the Nerds.” This is now known as “King of the Nerds.” He and I basically agree that it is a show that definitely deserved lots of praise, and its passing is mourned every day. I’m trying to get it back though, and Curtis is well aware of that. Curtis also pointed out a “King of the Nerds” contestant was here at the con and he happened to attend the panel. By the way, that contestant is Colby Burnett, he’s a “Jeopardy!” champion whose combined winnings come out to $375,000. He talked about his time on the show and what it was like. I actually interacted with him before the panel, and this isn’t the first time I actually had a conversation with him, because we were once on a Google Hangout together. We talked about “Jeopardy!,” Austin Rogers, and other contestants. I wanted to talk to him one more time by the end of the con, but by the time I came up with something that I really wanted to discuss with him (“500 Questions”), he was nowhere to be found. Oh well! Nevertheless, the panel was a blast and I loved seeing these cast members come together.

Staying on the topic of the “Revenge of the Nerds” cast, I happened to meet Julia Montgomery, and when we met, it was almost like we were long lost cousins. You may know Julia Montgomery from “Revenge of the Nerds” as Betty Childs, a cheerleader and head of the Pi Delta Pi’s. We talked to each other, I ask her to sign an autograph. I also mention that she may know me from Twitter, and I happen to mention my name. She knew who I was and she said she comes across my stuff a lot. Just for the record, she follows me. She even called me “famous.” Oh yeah, if you want to join Julia in that club, be sure to search my handle, @JackDrees! When I met her on Friday, I forgot to take a photo, so I did it on Sunday. Julia Montgomery was not only nice and beautiful, but she also had a great fashion sense. Just look at what she’s wearing in the photo where I stand alongside her.

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Some of you might be wondering what this is here. Well, it’s basically everyone from “Revenge of the Nerds” who happened to be part of the Lambda Lambda Lambda fraternity. I’ve already talked about a couple of these people while I was focusing on a panel I attended. I didn’t go into full detail however, when I talked with them in person.

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Starting off with Andrew Cassesse, you may know him as Wormser. Cassesse appeared to be a nice guy, we shook hands, he gave me an autograph, we talked a little bit about the con, and we took a picture. It’s interesting to see his progression into an adult. I wonder how many people who have watched the “Revenge of the Nerds” films would recognize him now because in that movie he was very young and looked a bit different than he does when I walked up to him.

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This here is me with Brian Tochi, who you may know as Takashi. For those of you who happen to be big “Star Trek” fans, you might also recognize this guy from two episodes in the franchise. His earliest appearance was in the third season of “The Original Series” where he played Ray in “And the Children Shall Lead” and he also appeared in the fourth season of “The Next Generation” as Ensign Kenny Lin in “Night Terrors.” We talked for a short amount of time, he gave me an autograph, we took a photo, and I went off. When I went off, I actually managed to receive a sheet of paper detailing what this guy has done throughout his career.

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Right here we have Larry B. Scott. I met this fellow on Saturday, and I consider him to be a nice guy. It was almost the end of the con (as far as Saturday goes), so he said “You came in at the bottom of the ninth!” If you watched “Revenge of the Nerds,” you might know him as Lamar. I had a chat with him, he gave an autograph, we took a photo, and before I headed off, he asked if I’m coming to the after-party. I said I couldn’t because I wasn’t 21. He said “That’s OK, you’re still my friend though!” To me, that’s great, because I could use more friends. We’ll see if we run into each other again as “newfound friends.”

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Before we dive into this next photo, I will remind you that Julia Montgomery recognized my name based on her experience on Twitter and she happened to call me “famous.” This next person who you may recognize said the same thing. Although I’ll remind you that this is the second guest I ran into during the entire con, Julia was the fourth. When I was talking to Julia, and she exclaimed “You’re famous!” I shouted in a voice in a pitch higher than what I usually give off, “He said that!” Who’s he, you ask? Well, he is Robert Carradine, although I personally call him Bobby. He is one of the two hosts of “King of the Nerds” and when I walked up to him, I asked how he was doing, he said he was good, I went on saying I had a story to tell him, and I assure you this is true. I was vacationing in Delray Beach, Florida. There are barely any times I leave the New England area, but this wasn’t one that I personally enjoyed. The main parts I enjoyed was watching “King of the Nerds” because season 3 was happening. So I mention that one night I’m at a restaurant, I’m looking at my phone, and a notification pops up saying something along the lines of “@bobbyislewis is following you.” If you don’t know what @bobbyislewis is, that’s Robert Carradine’s Twitter handle. The name does make sense since Bobby plays Lewis in “Revenge of the Nerds.” That moment made my vacation. Yes, you can argue that there’s more to life than Twitter, but I was 15, and my Twitter life was just getting started. Robert guesses who I am with two words that part of me still can’t believe he uttered… “Jack Drees?” I get that I’m super active on Twitter, but for what I know, he barely goes on there! I’m just amazed he knows my name! I confirm I’m the guy he’s thinking of, he says I’m famous, and he asks how far up I am. I say to him “30 minutes north of Boston.” Although maybe he meant followers, I probably didn’t understand what he was going for during the conversation. I got an autograph from Bobby on Friday, and I took a photo with him on Sunday. This just goes to show how much one person’s dedication towards something, even after perhaps a good number of people had it erased from their memory, can pay off. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, I’m speaking of “King of the Nerds.”

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If you have followed this blog, you might already know about how much I admire “King of the Nerds.” You’d know that me talking about it here on this post isn’t necessarily a once in a blue moon event. “King of the Nerds” not only introduced me to Robert Carradine, but it also introduced me to Curtis Armstrong. My memory goes back far enough to seeing material containing Armstrong prior to “King of the Nerds,” specifically “Jingle All the Way,” but I didn’t even find out he was in that until months ago. Since we’ve been on the topic of “Revenge of the Nerds” the whole time, I might as well state Curtis plays the character of Dudley Dawson, but you can call him Booger. Let me just remind you, this isn’t the first time I met Curtis. I went to this same con during November 6-8 2015, and Curtis happened to be there all three days. I first met him on the second day because this con is large and there was an entire area which happened to be open that I didn’t even know about. I went back to him the final day saying he was the best part of the con. Then came July 12th, 2017. Curtis releases his new memoir, “Revenge of the Nerd,” great read by the way! There happened to be an event dedicated to it where Curtis talked about the book, it took place at the Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, MA. I happen to run into Curtis there, and he’s signing books for everyone who wants a signature. I already purchased a book, so I brought mine in case the autographs were bound to happen. It took a moment for him, but he recognized me. Now we’re here during the time of November 2017, it’s been a year since Donald Trump was elected, and there are still two controversial sides related to this, the Houston Astros won the World Series, and “Will & Grace” is now back on the air making new episodes! It’s also the time of my next meetup with Curtis. Instead of having to remind him of who I was, he recognized me instantaneously. He recognized me because I was wearing the same shirt I wore every time we met. In fact, a little something extra that could’ve helped, but also possibly didn’t matter, is that I was wearing the same sweatshirt I wore when we met for the first time. When he saw who I was he got up and hugged me. We talked for a moment, I told him I recently watched “Ray,” a movie he’s in, and I thought it was great. Curtis said he loved that movie. I ask him to sign an autograph, which was free by the way, I’m not trying to brag, I’m stating the truth. No fake news here! We take a photo, and I leave telling him I’ll see him at his panel, you know, the one I recently talked about. There was a point in my life where I considered Curtis to be an idol. I still do by the way, although based on our recent meetups, I consider him a friend. We may not hang out all the time. In fact, if he wanted to be alone I’d respect his privacy, I need plenty of alone time so I can understand someone else feeling the same way. I can’t thank him enough for all he’s done. By the way, if you’re weirded out by the photo of me alongside him, let me just say that I have no idea what I’m doing either. I can just tell you I’m not impersonating Booger during the belching contest in “Revenge of the Nerds.”

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If I had any other disappointments to list, it would be that I didn’t get to meet John O’Hurley, who didn’t really show up all that much despite having his name on the guest list. Although overall, I’m inevitably coming back to Rhode Island Comic Con for another year. If there are any guests that I would suggest bringing to the con (that weren’t there this year), I’d say that a few of my requests are Kevin Sussman (The Big Bang Theory, Hitch), Ezra Miller (Justice League, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), and Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Stand by Me). This convention was organized by Altered Reality, who also does conventions including ComiCONN, which is a convention that occurs once a year in the state of Connecticut. They also do Terror Con, which also occurs in the Rhode Island Convention Center, but has a dedication towards horror as opposed to comics. There’s also Colorado Springs Comic Con, which takes place in Colorado Springs, CO. And a new convention will be popping up next year called Empire State Comic Con. This new convention will take place in the Albany Capital Center in Albany, NY. One guest has already been announced, Jason David Frank, and based on what these guys have done for Rhode Island Comic Con, I’d say for some folks this could be worth checking out.

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Thanks for reading this post and thanks to Rhode Island Comic Con for providing a wonderful experience for me. It wasn’t perfect, but I hope my criticisms would help you in next year’s organization. I would like to thank the cast of “Revenge of the Nerds,” Christopher Lloyd, some of the lovely people from Channel Awesome, all of those people for providing me a great time. What will the next con be? Who knows? The Empire State Comic Con I just mentioned sounds somewhat intriguing. Maybe PAX East, maybe when Super Megafest announces their next convention, we’ll have to see. Although a little note to conventions, I want to come to you, and I know you want me there. So if you want me there, leave a comment below, send me an Email (visit my contact page), and I’ll see what I can do. As far as upcoming reviews go, I am hopefully going to see “Justice League” this weekend, but it’s not a certainty yet. Only time will tell. Stay tuned for more great content! I want to ask, did YOU go to Rhode Island Comic Con? What did you think about it? What did you do there? Have you gone in years before this one? OR what conventions do you want me to cover in the future? Let me know down below in the comments! Scene Before is your click to the flicks, and with a thanks to @ClareKramer having this tweet up, let me leave this little moment from the “Revenge of the Nerds” panel down below for you all to look at.

 

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017) OFFICIAL TRAILER: Lightsabers! Space Battles! Training! …Possible Ripoff…

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Tonight I was doing something rather strange for me. I was watching football. Yeah, it was a game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears, and I’ll have you know I’m from Massachusetts so you can probably tell I don’t care about either of those teams. Oh yeah, and when I said I was watching the game, I wasn’t even technically watching it, I had it on mute. However, I watched the game for one reason and one reason only, which is to catch the new trailer for “Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.” Having seen it now, I will say this. As a trailer, it’s better than the teaser we got in April, not to mention this trailer got me more hyped up for the film as opposed to that teaser. If you remember my review for the teaser, I said it made me afraid of what the movie is going to be like. Now that I’ve seen this trailer for the film, do those fears still exist? I guess you can say so, but this trailer does convince me that this movie has a tone that might be consistent throughout, and it might be at the very least, entertaining. So let’s break it down and analyze it.

The first voice we hear in the entire trailer is Snoke’s, and if you don’t know who Snoke is, he’s basically the giant in “The Force Awakens” who was in a number of scenes with General Hux and Kylo Ren. By the way, for those who don’t know, he’s played by Andy Serkis, who you may know as Gollum in “Lord of the Rings” and Caesar in the recent “Planet of the Apes” reboot installments including “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” and the recent “War for the Planet of the Apes.” He says “When I found you, I saw raw, untamed power, and beyond that, something truly special.” Throughout we get various shots, and based on a number of shots presented throughout this voiceover, I believe he’s talking about Kylo Ren. In fact according to “Episode VII” Kylo still had training left to do, so he could be training under Snoke’s wing and somewhere in the process, this is uttered. Afterwards, we get our last shot before the Lucasfilm logo appears, which is Rey unleashing a lightsaber.

We then cut to what seems to be early on in the movie, where we see the island Rey and Luke met. Rey’s telling Luke that something’s inside her, going by what I know, that’s undoubtedly the force, unless of course it’s the desire to save the galaxy. We get to see some shots that were shown in the teaser, including a shot of Rey training, followed by some shots we haven’t seen before, which by the way, makes her look like a badass. Speaking of badassery, Rey’s using the force, which makes the ground crack, kind of like what the acorn from “Ice Age” does. Luke then says “I’ve seen this raw strength once before, it didn’t scare me enough then, it does now.” This brings up two things. First of all, I have a question, how many times will the word “raw” be used in the movie? Second, I have a feeling that out of every performance Mark Hamill has given in this franchise thus far, this might end up being his best. That’s the assumption going into my mind after hearing that line.

We soon see Kylo Ren again, he’s in an elevator, and he’s doing what he does best, complaining. For some characters, you might think of this as a quality that makes them horrible to watch. But based on my experience of watching “The Force Awakens” and seeing Kylo Ren in that movie, this is something that has been proven to be funny. Not to mention, it shows how Kylo Ren is human. Let me ask you something, did Darth Vader rage out like this? No. That’s not to say that Darth Vader’s a bad character, I think he’s one of the greatest villains of all time, but this is what makes Kylo Ren, Kylo Ren. Oh yeah, and we also see him in is own ship which looks kinda cool. The best part of this montage has to be the final shots there, we hear Kylo’s voice, he’s talking in an evil manner and we see shots back and forth between him and Leia, who you may know is his mother. There’s a huge part of me that thinks that this could turn into an amazing part of the story where Kylo is terrified within his own boundaries, but at the same time, I wonder if it would be out of character for him, because he did kill his dad and he seemed not to have much of a problem with it. Maybe he’s developed since the last movie, who knows? I love the idea, but I’m skeptical towards the execution.

In the next montage, we’ve got shots of the Millennium Falcon, and one thing you may notice is the bird next to Chewbacca. That creature by the way is referred to as a Porg, and I honestly think he’s gonna be this movie’s best-selling toy. I mean, look at him! I think many kids will want that! I just really hope that he won’t turn into this movie’s version of Baby Groot, which in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” only came off to me as a toy, nothing more. I’m just hoping for at least a bit of substance with this Porg. We also get our first shots of Poe and Finn, who both seem to be in explosive situations. Oh yeah, and Finn’s facing off against Captain Phasma. In the shots showcasing the two duking it out, Phasma seems to be handling some beam or a generic sword and Finn is holding onto what appears to be a sparkly lightsaber. Also this begs the question, does Finn really have the force in him? Because the last movie says otherwise. He almost got slaughtered in the last movie in a lightsaber duel! I hope he makes it!

Next we get into a sign of my fear of the movie just being a ripoff of “The Empire Strikes Back,” which happen to be some shots that take place in what looks like a cave. You know how in “The Empire Strikes Back” Luke is training and he goes into this cave, he finds Darth Vader and there’s this very short duel between them, it’s in slow motion? Yeah, it reminds me of that. I just hope this isn’t a carbon copy or an in your face homage. If it is a homage, I personally hope it’s rather subtle. Another part that could be ripping off “Empire” is when Luke says “This is not going to go the way you think.” It almost reminds me of when Luke goes off from Dagobah to Cloud City and he hasn’t completed his training. You know, after he had a force vision, which quite honestly, is something I wouldn’t be surprised seeing Rey have in this movie. After all, the first moment of the teaser which came out in April gave me the assumption that was going to happen. We soon hear Snoke speak as we see certain shots including some containing action. He says “Fulfill your destiny,” which I can tell he’s probably saying to Kylo Ren, although the next shot of Rey might say otherwise. I personally think he’s saying something else in that circumstance and they’re hiding it. By the way, Rey looks like she’s DOOMED in that shot. If they damage her all over in that shot, I’d say this could be worth your money. I can tell she’s gonna make it, but still.

The last words we hear in the trailer comes from Rey, she says “I need someone to show me my place in all of this.” We then cut to a shot of Kylo Ren’s face, then he casts his hand out. Is he done being evil here? First off, why would the trailer show this? This seems like a little bit too much information revealed in just a number of seconds. Second, this could be really compelling and it would be interesting to see the two band together. Also, speaking of evil, I want to talk about Snoke. I have a feeling that Snoke is going to be this trilogy’s version of The Emperor. You’ve already seen him in hologram form from what it looked like, now you seen him here, he looks smaller, not to mention damaged. He’s kind of similar in terms of attitude with the exception of how he lacks a maniacal laugh. Only time will tell for sure. The trailer then ends suggesting that TICKETS HAVE NOW GONE ON SALE! Woo! Although if I can get invited to a press screening I’d love that. Hey, I review movies! Where’s my press screening?!

After seeing this trailer I do have to say that I’m a little more excited than I originally was. I still think I will end up enjoying certain movies more this year, both movies I already saw such as “Colossal” and “Dunkirk,” along with those I’ve yet to see such as “Blade Runner 2049” and “The Disaster Artist,” however I will say that this movie does look good. I still think it might rip off “Empire,” but maybe it can take certain elements, which I personally consider fine, and make something new out of it. This is also going to be the longest movie in the “Star Wars” saga, at a total of 150 minutes, which I personally find interesting because this installment has the least wipe transitions. If you ask me, I probably will be seeing this opening night, after all I’m a fan so I personally feel it’s my duty. I hope the movie’s good and I don’t think we’ll be seeing many more trailers before this film’s release. December 14th can’t come soon enough!

Having soon both trailers now, my combined excitement received from both trailers, isn’t exactly all that high, however that doesn’t stop me from thinking that “The Last Jedi” will be good. Will it be good? Who knows? We’ve got a couple months to fully determine that. As far as upcoming content goes, I am planning on seeing “Blade Runner 2049” over the upcoming weekend, and I also have a mini series of reviews coming up soon and it’s gonna be for the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Thor” installments, which I plan to review in preparation for “Thor: Ragnarok,” which comes out November 3. Stay tuned for more great content, and if you have any thoughts on the new “Star Wars” trailer, tell me what they are. Also, I want to know if you’re planning on seeing “Star Wars Episode VIII.” Are you? Are you not? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks, and may the force be with you!