Nope (2022): YEP.

“Nope” is directed by Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us) and stars Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Judas and the Black Messiah), Keke Palmer (Lightyear, Ice Age: Continental Drift), Steven Yeun (Minari, The Walking Dead), Michael Wincott (The Crow, Alien: Resurrection), Brandon Perea (The OA, Doom Patrol), Wrenn Schmidt (Outcast, For All Mankind), Barbie Ferreira (Euphoria, Unpregnant), and Keith David (The Thing, Pitch Black). This film is about a brother and sister who live on a ranch and witness an unusual, shocking event that changes everything.

So far, when it comes to Jordan Peele’s filmography, he has proven himself as legit horror storyteller. “Get Out” is unsettling and perfectly paced from start to finish. “Us” has charismatic characters and is a fine balance between subtle and trippy. “Nope” contains some of the horror elements that audiences may have grown accustomed to over the past couple films Peele directed. There are jumpscares, strange happenings, and much like “Us,” there is an intentionally placed scene in the beginning that in most cases would almost feel kind of out of place.

However, the biggest difference between “Nope” and Peele’s previous work is the scope. It would be easy for me to say that “Nope” is the biggest film Peele’s made so far, but I can back that up by saying “Nope” cost $68 million to make. That is more than “Us,” which cost $20 million, and “Get Out,” which cost $4.5 million. But there are reasons beyond the numbers as to why it is so big. The film is entirely shot on 65mm film, including select sequences which were shot in IMAX. Yes, Peele went full Nolan on this movie. Although unlike Christopher Nolan with some of his recent fare like “Tenet,” I could actually hear what the actors were trying to say. You see what happens when booming music is used sparingly? Out of all the films Peele has done so far, this is the one that most closely resembles that summer blockbuster vibe.

This is probably the closest I think a director has come in some time to providing a Spielberg-like experience without the use of the actual Steven Spielberg. Now, Spielberg has done a lot of movies, but he is most well known for his blockbusters like “Jaws” and “Jurassic Park.” This leads me to my biggest praise for “Nope,” and that is that this movie does for UFOs what Steven Spielberg and crew did for the original “Jaws” and “Jurassic Park” movies. What do I mean? There is a UFO in the movie, but much like the shark in “Jaws,” the UFO is used sparingly. Much like that iconic shark some call Bruce, the UFO felt special. And kind of like in “Jurassic Park,” which took its time to establish the gargantuan nature of its dinosaurs, the UFO is not only menacing when it appears, but it made me as a viewer feel small. I am very likely going to buy “Nope” on physical media as it is that good of a film. I am quite curious to know how that effect is going to come off on my television screen. But I can say as someone who has seen “Nope” twice in the theater, each scene where the UFO played a crucial role made it feel like the literal elephant in the room.

Speaking of elephants in the room, let’s talk about my favorite performance in the film. Keke Palmer gives it her all in “Nope.” Emerald Haywood (right) is exactly the type of character this movie needed. Compared to “Get Out,” which at times dives into the divide between class and race, “Nope” feels more like an escape. And Palmer does her absolute best to give an escape. Her dynamic voice and personality are that of an auctioneer on Adderall. If the character of Emerald Haywood were not in the horse-training business, she has the perfect skill set to sell cars. Her energy and physicality grabbed my attention from scene one. Keke Palmer is set to host the upcoming NBC reboot of “Password.” After seeing what she could do in this film, they made a great choice for the upcoming host.

Now on the other hand, the main character of the film, OJ Haywood (left), has less physicality, not to mention personality. And things seem to be that way on purpose. Daniel Kaluuya does a solid job playing a stoic character who seems to be going through the motions. I think that if the film had OJ be a ball of energy like Emerald, that could create for a problem. In a film as big as this, there needs to be at least one dose of reality or silence within all the noise. If “Nope” were an Amtrak train, OJ would be the quiet car. But this also leads me to say that I like the other main characters in “Nope” more than OJ because their energy therefore made me feel more energetic myself throughout the runtime. Not only did Keke Palmer succeed in this mission with Emerald, but Steven Yeun deserves some credit too for his upbeat portrayal of Ricky “Jupe” Park.

Although I should not say that the reality in this movie is a waste, because one of the characters in this film reminded me of my time when I worked at Staples in the tech department. That character is Angel Torres, who works at Fry’s Electronics, a now defunct electronics store chain. The first scene between him and the brother-sister duo felt reminiscent of my tactics when checking people out, not to mention some of the customer’s reactions when I would pop a certain question. While Angel may seem like an everyday electronics store employee, or at least he was, until Fry’s closed with the rest of their locations, he ended up being a delightfully charming part of the film.

If I had any negatives with the film, the biggest standout would be that given how Jordan Peele has leaned into this blockbuster route, this makes the film feel less substantial compared to his others. Do not get me wrong, it is a great movie. But what I mean is that compared to “Get Out,” I did not think as much about deeper meanings. “Nope” tries to play around with something of this nature involving a sitcom and a monkey, but I honestly do not think it did much other than give one character some backstory. You know that saying about how when you get to certain age in your life, presumably somewhere in your young adulthood, and you realize that maybe you are not as smart as you once thought you might be? If “Nope” were a real person, it would not have reached that stage just yet. The movie chooses to open a certain way and continue a certain way with this ideology that I will not spoil, but did not particularly sit with me the way I think Peele would have wanted it to. It felt like a move that was trying to be pretentious, but only ended up feeling meaningless. I wish I could give more detail.

One final positive before we move on. Over the years, many movies have used their title through the script in such a way that stands out. In “Back to the Future,” there is a scene where Doc exclaims he will send Marty back to the future. In “Better Off Dead,” there is a literally a song with the lyrics “better off dead” that plays a prominent role. I will also go back to “Jurassic Park” and the massive scale it provides. One scene where that tactic comes into play has the character of John Hammond magnificently say “Welcome to Jurassic Park.” I think “Nope” officially takes the crown for best use of a movie title in its own movie. I think that as long as I shall live, there will NEVER be a better use of this concept. The moment one particular character says “Nope,” the entire auditorium cackled like hyenas, and for good reason.

In the end, “Nope” gets a yep from me. This is not Jordan Peele’s best film. In fact, in some ways, it might be his worst, but it is also the most fun of the ones he has made. It is definitely one I would watch on a Friday night if I want to look at something massive. The cinematography, which is done by the great Hoyte van Hoytema, is some of the best of the year. The night shots look beautiful, the climax looks incredible, and there is one particular money shot I would love to have as a desktop photo if I were more willing to customize my setup. “Nope” is a good time and it is fun to look at. But unlike “Get Out,” this is perhaps less likely to be nominated for Best Picture. Although if the Academy Awards took place right now, Keke Palmer should get an acting nomination per my opinion. I am going to give “Nope” a 7/10.

“Nope” is now playing in theatres everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed my thoughts on “Nope,” be on the lookout for more reviews! Pretty soon I will share my thoughts on “DC League of Super-Pets” and “Vengeance.” If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Nope?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite summer blockbuster of all time? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Gray Man (2022): Ryan Gosling, Ana de Armas, and Chris Evans Team Up to Deliver Some Expensive Mediocrity

“The Gray Man” is directed by Anthony and Joe Russo (You, Me and Dupree, Avengers: Endgame) and stars Ryan Gosling (Blade Runner 2049, First Man), Chris Evans (Avengers: Endgame, Knives Out) Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049, Knives Out), Jessica Henwick (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Matrix Resurrections), Regé-Jean Page (For the People, Bridgerton), Wagner Moura (Elysium, Narcos), Julia Butters (American Housewife, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Dhanush (3, Vada Chennai), Alfre Woodard (Desperate Housewives, St. Elsewhere), and Billy Bob Thornton (Armageddon, Goliath). Based on a 2009 Mark Greaney book of the same name, this film is about a man who goes by the name of Six. Years after Six is let out of prison under the condition that he works for the CIA, he uncovers dark secrets. This results in a former colleague putting a bounty on his head and an international manhunt.

“The Gray Man” is the latest film from the Russo Brothers, These two are in-house Marvel directors known for their work on the latest “Captain America” and “Avengers” titles. In addition to Joe Russo’s respective screenplay credit, the film also happens to be written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. These two have handled writing duties for tons of Marvel fare including “Thor: The Dark World,” “Agent Carter,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Avengers: Endgame,” and the “Captain America” trilogy. It is nice to see these two join forces to write one of the most expensive Netflix movies ever made. It feels weird to say that in a circumstance like this because when I think Netflix, I think of television, and I think of movies that are more likely to be seen on the smaller screen. But this film is not cheap, as it did cost $200 million to make. This is $50 million less than “Thor: Love and Thunder,” Disney and Marvel’s latest blockbuster movie to hit the big screen. This leads me to my first compliment. As weird as it is to confirm, I think “The Gray Man” looks better visually than “Thor: Love and Thunder” does at times.

But believe it or not, Netflix has put out a decent amount of big budget movies over recent years. Some have been good, like “The Irishman.” Some have been bad, like “Red Notice.” I’ll get straight to the point. “The Gray Man” is in between.

I went to go see “The Gray Man” in a movie theatre. The best thing I can say about “The Gray Man” is that it uses every bit of its big budget wisely to deliver one of the best-looking films of the year. There is a scene where people are ringing in the new year that totally popped. Despite having some occasional vivid and eye-dilating images, it is all given within a script that tends to rely on clichés.

“The Gray Man” is a marketable film for sure. Big action, big stars, and for some, it comes with the perk that you can pause and go to the bathroom without missing anything. I was sold with the campaign because the stars of the film are bankable. I dig Ryan Gosling, I love Chris Evans, and Ana de Armas may be on track to be one of the greatest thespians of her generation. It should not surprise me that this trio has solid chemistry all around. Because De Armas worked with both of these actors in the past. Therefore, not only are we getting a reunion behind the camera between the directors and writers, but in front of the camera as well with the leads.

Essentially, “The Gray Man” is this year’s “Red Notice,” because it is another action film that has notable clichés and a globe-trotting plot. Both even star a sexy Canadian Ryan! But the difference between “The Gray Man” and “Red Notice” is that I would rather watch “The Gray Man” a second time. …Barely. “The Gray Man” is “Red Notice,” except in this case, “The Gray Man” does more than get big names. They utilize those big names to greater potential.

Ryan Gosling is well-directed by the Russos and happens to be given plenty to do in the film to make it as watchable as it can be. But his character of Six does not have much dimension to him. He feels like a less suave, perhaps less emotional Ethan Hunt. Gosling is a great actor who has done a fantastic series of roles in recent years in movies like “La La Land” and “Blade Runner 2049.” He has a knack for picking well-developed, enchanting, defining scripts. What got him into this movie? Who knows? Everyone probably needs a paycheck every now and then. When it comes to Gosling’s library, this is probably on the same level of quality as the kind of forgettable “Gangster Squad.”

The scene stealer award in this case goes to Chris Evans as Lloyd Hansen. Chris Evans gives one of my favorite performances in a recent action film. He continues to demonstrate his range as a performer. He not only can vary up his performance style, but do it well. Whether it means being patriotic and kind-hearted as Steve Rogers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or a complete moron as Ransom Drysdale in “Knives Out.” Here, he unsurprisingly channels more of the latter’s traits. Out of everyone in the film, Evans brings an energy to his performance that every other actor can only hope to evoke out of their own.

Even though I say there are clichés, it does not mean that there is no entertainment to be had in the movie whatsoever. As I have said in the past, clichés can be good if they are done effectively. Why do you think the “hero’s journey” structure gets repeated time and time again? In this story of familiar happenings, there is a slight glimmer of fun or emotional weight here and there. One of the best story elements of the film is between Ryan Gosling’s character, Six, and a kid played by the young and talented Julia Butters, Claire. Not only do both actors play off each other brilliantly, but they are given some of the film’s best exchanges of dialogue. By the end of the film, Claire became one of my favorite characters and her story wrapped up satisfyingly.

Also, random fact I found out as I was doing this review. Apparently this film was in development hell for years. The earliest this project was announced happens to be 2011, with James Gray once set to direct. Between swapped actors, swapped studios, and so on, the project never found its footing until now. Was it worth the wait? Hard to tell. It’s a cliché film with familiar storylines, so it does not add much to the table. Although it could get some watches on both big and small screens for now. As for how well it will age, that is for the audience to decide.

In the end, “The Gray Man” is in a word, fine. The star-studded cast got me in the door. Not only are they capable of bringing charisma, but delivering on talent. They do their best with the ordinary writing. Ryan Gosling delivers the goods in the acting department, but I will not remember his character as much as say K in “Blade Runner 2049.” I would love to see Ana de Armas in more thrillers and action fare as I think she has done a good job not only in this film, but also “No Time to Die.” She is attractive, joy-inducing, and skilled at her craft. She is everything you can want in an actress. Chris Evans continues to show his range as a performer, but if I had to rank his filmography for the year, I would prefer “Lightyear.” It is a completely different movie for another audience perhaps, but if you want to know which movie does a better job at accomplishing its goals, “Lightyear” is that movie. “The Gray Man” is fun to look at, but does not deliver much that is new. I am going to give “The Gray Man” a 5/10.

“The Gray Man” is now playing in select theaters and is available on Netflix to all subscribers.

Thanks for reading this review! If you like this review, why not check out some of my other ones? If you are in the Netflix mood, check out my review for another recent Netflix movie, “Hustle!” Want something more recent? Feel free to take a glance at my thoughts on Scott Derrickson’s new horror film, “The Black Phone!” Also, be on the lookout for my thoughts on “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” and “Nope!” If you want to see more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Gray Man?” What did you think about it? Or, if you could put three actors in one action movie together, who would they be and why? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Black Phone (2022): Scott Derrickson Dials Up a Terrifying Ride

“The Black Phone” is directed by Scott Derrickson (Doctor Strange, Sinister) and stars Mason Thames (For All Mankind, Walker), Madeleine McGraw (Bones, American Sniper), Jeremy Davies (Lost, Justified), James Ransone (The Wire, Generation Kill), and Ethan Hawke (Moon Knight, First Reformed) in a film that follows a 13 year old boy who is trapped in a killer’s basement. While trying to escape, the boy receives calls from said killer’s victims.

Scott Derrickson is known for his work on multiple horror titles including “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” “Deliver Us from Evil,” and “Sinister.” His most recent work however was through the lens of Marvel via “Doctor Strange,” which I found to be incredibly entertaining despite being out of Derrickson’s comfort zone. It also features what I contend to be some of the best 3D ever put to film. Much like the “Sinister” followup, Derrickson did not return to Marvel Studios to helm the recent “Doctor Strange” sequel, giving him more time to go a genre that defines him as a director.

Speaking of horror and “Doctor Strange,” Sam Raimi of “Evil Dead” fame ended up helming the new “Doctor Strange” film in Derrickson’s place. When Derrickson was asked about his thoughts on a trailer for the then upcoming “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” he said, in admiration of Raimi, that he was excited for the movie. But the trailer also affirms that “The Black Phone” was the right film for him to make at the time.

Having seen “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” Derrickson is right. Sam Raimi was the right director for that film, as I did have a good time with it. He is also right about himself because Derrickson made an epic horror that is better than some of the other recent entries to the genre. I mean, personally, it is not hard to provide me with more entertainment than what I got with “Malignant.” I make no apologies.

Part of what makes “The Black Phone” so good could be mostly attributed to its youngest cast members. The two main siblings in this film, wonderfully portrayed by Mason Thames and Madeleine McGraw, have a connection that feels evident from scene one and sticks in your head the moment the lights come back on.

Mason Thames, who is not of adult age yet, is given a lot to do in a matter of just over an hour and a half, and he carries this film like a champ. His portrayal of Finney does not feel like a “child actor” performance. The same can be said to other actors of similar age who happen to be in the film. If anything, Mason Thames is perhaps almost on par with the character viewers will likely remember the most from this film, The Grabber, played by Ethan Hawke.

Ethan Hawke is having a heck of year so far between “Moon Knight,” “The Northman,” and now this movie. This is truly Hawke’s world and we are just living in it. Although while “Moon Knight” and “The Northman” have gotten plenty of attention, part of me is not too crazy about those two projects despite Hawke’s undoubtable commitment to them. This time, I recognized Hawke’s commitment to his craft while also admiring the story at hand. Hawke is genuinely terrifying at times as The Grabber. Major props have to be given to the costume design and makeup department because not only does Hawke emit serial killer vibes through his motions and voice, but also through his looks. If I were a studio executive working today, I could see The Grabber as the next Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers or Pennywise where he becomes this generation’s big horror mascot. He has the looks for it, I could almost see the collector’s toys for it, but the problem is figuring out another story to bring Ethan Hawke back.

On paper, “The Black Phone” keeps things simple and effective. It combines a crazy, Michael Myers wannabe killer, a story that is mostly spent in a creepy basement, and also one that centers around a singular kid. Although this does not mean that there is no depth to the film whatsoever because there is also an intriguing story on the side related to the lead kid’s connection to his father. If anything, this movie reminded me of “10 Cloverfield Lane” except that the star of the show is much younger, and we spend more time focusing on one particular space than anywhere else.

“The Black Phone” is not only scary, but also somewhat disturbing. If you are easily triggered by particular topics, this movie may not the first one I recommend. Why? Because this film has a subplot dedicated to Gwen, Finney’s sister, and her psychic dreams related to The Grabber. This unhinges a rivalry of sorts between her and her father (Jeremy Davies), who happens to be an alcoholic. “The Black Phone” manages to evoke fear in its own right in terms of developing a story where a kidnapper keeps someone in his basement, which streamlines itself more to fantasy than anything else. But it is also down to earth by supplementing that story with a triggering subplot that allows us to receive more depth about the film’s events. For me, this worked, but if you are looking for “an escape,” this movie could be a slight question mark compared to say “A Quiet Place.” Speaking of “A Quiet Place,” I want to bring up that movie for a second.

The biggest compliment I can give to “The Black Phone” is one that is perhaps as massive as what I gave to “A Quiet Place” when I saw that movie. My usual routine when I go to the movies is to get a large popcorn and soda. Normally, I will leave the theater having consumed most of my food and drink. But during “A Quiet Place,” I noticed that every moment I had popcorn in my mouth, I found myself dissolving it as opposed to chewing it. I left the theater with a lot of popcorn that day. While I cannot say I left with as much popcorn for “The Black Phone,” after all, I do not think I intentionally dissolved any of it, I did end up leaving the theater taking home more popcorn than usual. Based on that alone, this shows how scary good this movie is.

In the end, “The Black Phone” is worth watching, but if you get scared or triggered easily by realistic or fantastic concepts, I would recommend straying away from this film. Despite what I said about Ethan Hawke, I do not think a sequel to “The Black Phone” would be warranted, I think it would campify The Grabber if he were revisited in the near future. Although I do admire this film for having many genuine scares and minimal cheap tricks. I really enjoyed the mystery of the film, some of the characters stand out, and I would watch it again on a Friday night with the lights out. I am going to give “The Black Phone” a 7/10.

“The Black Phone” is now playing in theatres everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed my review for “The Black Phone,” I have another review coming soon, this time for a comic book movie! That’s right! My next review is for the brand new MCU installment “Thor: Love and Thunder!” Stay tuned! If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Black Phone?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite horror villain? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Death on the Nile (2022): Kenneth Branagh Brings a River of Intrigue in This Engaging Murder Mystery

“Death on the Nile” is directed by Kenneth Branagh (Belfast, Thor), who also stars in the film as Hercule Poirot. Joining him in this Agatha Christie novel adaptation is Tom Bateman (Demons, Murder on the Orient Express), Annette Bening (American Beauty, Captain Marvel), Russell Brand (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Arthur), Ali Fazal (Mirzapur, Furious 7), Dawn French (French and Saunders, Coraline), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman, Criminal), Armie Hammer (The Man From U.N.C.L.E., On the Basis of Sex), Rose Leslie (Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones), Emma Mackey (Sex Education, Eiffel), Sophie Okonedo (After Earth, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls), Jennifer Saunders (Sing, Shrek 2), and Letitia Wright (Sing 2, Black Panther). In this film, Hercule Poirot finds himself on a voyage, set on the Nile River, and ultimately has to investigate the behind the scenes shenanigans of a murder during said voyage.

I want to make a couple things clear. I have never read any Agatha Christie works, therefore I have nothing to compare this movie to as far as her material goes. I also will note that this could technically qualify as a sequel. “Death on the Nile” revolves around a group of people under the eye of Hercule Poirot, who was also portrayed by Kenneth Branagh in 2017’s “Murder on the Orient Express.” He directed the film as well. I have never seen the film, so I cannot tell you anything in regards to Branagh’s previous efforts, whether they are in front of or behind the camera in said film. I was not particularly interested in it at the time, and my lack of interest unfortunately contributed to what I call a lack of knowledge in this circumstance. Nevertheless, the trailers intrigued me enough, Kenneth Branagh is on fire right now with “Belfast” having just come out, and the cast is stacked to the brim.

Well, there’s also Armie Hammer, I should also mention that.

With that being said, I kind of saw “Death on the Nile” on a whim, I bought a ticket less than an hour before the show because I was in the area, although I did intend to see it by the end of the weekend, and I have to say the movie in some ways pleased me in the ways I expected it to. Although it does have a double-edged sword.

One of the best things about “Death on the Nile” is the feud between the newlywed couple, the Doyles, and this one woman, Jackie, played marvelously by Emma Mackey, or as I call her, Samara Weaving’s lookalike. Prior to Simon Doyle’s connection with his new wife, Linnet, he used to be in love with Jackie, who just so happens to be following everyone else. I loved getting to know these characters and every scene Mackey is in is one that had my attention, partially because of how well she played the character. But this also brings me to my main con with the film, and it is that it takes a bit longer than I expected to actually see the murder shenanigans go down. Now don’t get me wrong, the film is entertaining from start to finish. I was invested in most of the scenes that were written, but that would have to be my big pacing issue of the film. For a film that calls itself “Death on the Nile,” the “death” is not exactly much of a standout until the film’s second half. Is the book the same way? Again, I do not know. I do not plan on reading it anytime soon, so frankly I do not care to know.

Although if I had to bring another positive to the table, it is that the film is easy on the eyes. The film is as exotic as it is suspenseful. The color palette throughout feels like an old-timey flick but with a modern twist. It is a film that feels like it simmers itself in tradition, but infuses some sugar and spice to make it more attractive.

The performers all do a great job at bringing their own flair to the mix in “Death on the Nile,” I cannot recall one performance that either underwhelmed or annoyed me. Well, kind of…

Going back to Emma Mackey’s character of Jackie, I want to focus on her for a bit because I admired Mackey’s performance, but I did so with the acknowledgement of how much I disliked her character. Let me just be clear, I watch a lot of movies, and usually when I watch one I like, I usually like all the characters because they make the movie fun and enjoyable to watch. This one is different. I can only recall a few movies I watched in my life where I hated a character who was in it, and used that hate to remind myself of how effective the movie was at doing its job. “Whiplash” and “The Lion King” are the first two titles that come to mind. Mackey’s behavior in the film made me feel like I was part of the film, and films are always better when they can immerse you into the frame. Mackey did so in a way that made me want to punch her in the face, and all respect to the actress. Emma Mackey, if you read this, I think you have an amazing future ahead of you. I would totally cast you in a film if I find the right role, but I will not lie when I say, your character should have been thrown into the Nile to sleep with the fishes.

I like you, I hate your character. And for that, the movie did its job.

I also want to talk about Gal Gadot. She is an actress I have admired ever since I saw her in “Batman v. Superman,” because while that film showed a weakness from her as a performer, specifically on some line delivery, I saw enormous potential in her, because she carried the action sequences like a champ. I probably said this a couple times in my life. In “Batman v. Superman,” the real winner is Wonder Woman. And I think in just about every movie that has come out since, she has at least improved in some way. In “Death on the Nile,” I think casting Gadot as Mrs. Doyle is appropriate, partially because Gadot looks like someone who can symbolize beauty and wealth at the same time (also, she statistically is very wealthy), but this film shows that she has improved as an actress. She is more able to carry a film now than she has ever been, and there are a couple of scenes where I was able to feel the weight of some of her lines.

And of course, I cannot ignore Kenneth Branagh, who not only makes this film look as pretty as it is, but he carries his weight to bring a lively performance to the table. I mean, who doesn’t want to watch Kenneth Branagh rock a mustache? If they’re making a “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” adaptation set in Northern Ireland, I think Branagh would slay as Willy Wonka, and it would be better if the mustache stays. I think Branagh flat out just looks like someone who would be a detective in his spare time, so the fact that he’s cast as Poirot is undeniable. It’s perfect. Again, I have not seen “Murder on the Orient Express,” so I have nothing to compare this performance to franchise-wise. Having said that, “Death on the Nile” is good enough to the point that I want to go back at some point and give “Murder on the Orient Express” a try. Maybe compare the two and see which one’s better.

In the end, “Death on the Nile” is intriguing from beginning to end and offers an ensemble that gives you all the feelings from grace to anger to sadness. This may not end up being the best film of 2022, after all, the year is only beginning, but as far as this year’s fare, I recommend “Death on the Nile.” It has one or two pacing issues, but I feel like that could be a fairly subjective notion on my part. I probably won’t remember every single character, but there are quite a few that stand out to make this film one of the more entertaining experiences of the past number of months. I’m going to give “Death on the Nile” a 7/10.

“Death on the Nile” is now playing in theaters everywhere, tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed this review, I have more coming! My next review is going to be for the movie “Uncharted,” which just hit the big screen over a week and a half ago. Also coming up, I will be tackling my thoughts on “The Batman,” which hits theaters everywhere this week. If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Death on the Nile?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Agatha Christie book? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Red Notice (2021): The Three Biggest Movie Stars Join Forces to Torture Movie Watchers Everywhere

“Red Notice” is directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber (Skyscraper, Central Intelligence) and stars Dwayne Johnson (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, ), Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, Free Guy), and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman, Criminal), Ritu Arya (Doctors, The Umbrella Academy), Chris Diamantopoulos (Up All Night, The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse), and this film centers around two agents who are assigned to track down the world’s most wanted art thief.

Netflix is the epitome of watching a movie or TV show from home today. You can go to your microwave, whip up some popcorn, turn on your smart television, open the app, and let those images fly. Granted there are other options like Hulu or Prime or HBO, but only one has earned the identity of being the place where can watch your stuff and “chill.” Although in recent years, Netflix has taken the movie theater business rather seriously. They’ve released great, emotional titles like “Roma” and “Marriage Story,” and they’ve racked up some Oscars here and there. They even released my favorite film of 2020, “Over the Moon,” which I’m sure is an opinion that others don’t typically share, but knowing myself, I really could have used that film at a certain time in my life, hence why I loved it so much. Netflix’s bread and butter is obviously streaming, but they’ll occasionally try their hardest on a movie when the moment allows. Extreme emphasis on when the moment allows. Because not all of their stuff is theatrical, and a straight to streaming movie is today’s equivalent of a straight to cable movie. Everything looks a bit less polished and they don’t always showcase high quality. But for “Red Notice,” this is an interesting case. This was released theatrically, so it has that going for it. But also, the film had not just one, but three of the highest paid actors working today.

You have Deadpool and Blue Shirt Guy himself, Ryan Reynolds. One of the sexy Canadian Ryans out there. Yes we Canada! I know, he’s not in “Toy Story,” just go with it!

You also have Dwayne Johnson, who if you ask me, is probably today’s biggest stereotype when it comes to being a movie star. He’s not the ultimate chameleon, but he has his fans and knows his audience.

Lastly, there’s Gal Gadot, who I have fallen in love with for awhile given her portrayal as Wonder Woman. I think when she first started in that role, granted that was not her first gig, I think her line delivery could have been improved, but I saw potential in her, and she has been growing since then. And one of the first positives I can give to this film in terms of Gal Gadot being in it is that this is one of the better performances I’ve seen from her. The reason is because the way her character is written and directed unleashes the thought I have held for her for a long time. Gadot is probably one of the most beautiful women acting right now. Whether it is of highest intentions or not, which it probably is, she spends much of the movie coming off as almost semi-seductive in every scene. She has a couple lines in this film that feel like they come out of an action-packed porno.

I will also give the movie another thing. When it comes to the costumes, again as an example, I’ll mention Gal Gadot’s red outfit that is almost intentionally meant to put her perverted enemies at bay, they’re very well done. Ryan Reynolds and Dwayne Johnson look like they’re going to be the highlights of spy prom. I think many of the costumes in “Red Notice” are dazzling to say the least. I will also say that some of the sets are well put together and they occasionally make me want to travel the world. But I also want to note that nearly every positive I have given so far is either something based on looks, or how attractive the cast is. As the old saying goes, looks aren’t everything. How is the actual movie in terms of substance?

It’s pure crap. Honestly, this looks like a cheap “Fast & Furious” ripoff that is not quite bad enough to be in the Walmart $5 bin, but that kind of makes it worse because looks can be incredibly deceiving. It has the looks of a modern blockbuster, but it has a script that was created by a 12 year old! This film cost $200 million to make. I bet the three leads received an enormous portion of that pile of cash. I mean, what does Ryan Reynolds need all that money for? Is he gonna try to buy Canada or something?!

This is one of those scripts that if you are specifically writing it with the actors who ended up in this movie in mind, it would sound great in a pitch, but from my perspective, it’s also kind of a long shot considering some of these actors having busy schedules. Given the final results, I think these actors should have stayed busy.

Look, I love Ryan Reynolds as much as the next guy. I think he is one of the most hilarious dudes, and possibly my favorite movie star on the market today, but I have to admit, I don’t think I laughed once when this character was on screen. Part of his role in this film is the typical Ryan Reynolds schtick where he’s almost got traits of a lovable idiot but in actuality he’s not that much of a dumbass, but every line out of his mouth is ridiculously flat and I don’t even know if he was just off while filming or if Rawson Marshall Thurber is not as good at directing as I would like him to be. I liked “Central Intelligence.” I just wish “Red Notice” was as entertaining as that. This film is edited and written as an action-packed thrill ride. Why doesn’t the acting match the feel of a thrill instead of coming off as slightly robotic?

In fact when I watch this movie and I look at Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds, the first thing I’m reminded of is “Hobbs & Shaw.” Only it’s ten times worse… Because between the characters of Hobbs and Shaw, you had chemistry. One of the best things about the film “Hobbs & Shaw” for me was the chemistry between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. They hated each other, and they took every other moment to acknowledge their displeasure. Sometimes it was really funny. Whenever I look at, again, Dwayne Johnson, shows you the kinds of roles he’s taken in recent years, alongside Ryan Reynolds, I feel like I’m watching a watered down version of that pair. Even though the “Fast & Furious” franchise has never made a single masterpiece, the one thing it often gets right is the chemistry between certain characters, Hobbs and Shaw being one notable example.

Also, this film has one of the lamest and most forced examples of Coca-Cola product placement in recent memory. It felt like something out of an “SNL” sketch that made fun of an action movie as opposed to an actual action movie.

In the end, when it comes to “Red Notice,” there is not much to say except that it is one of the most forgettable landfills of a film I have watched in some time. Again, the stars look cool, the sets look cool, but I feel like more time was spent on developing the style of the movie to the point where Rawson Marshall Thurber and others involved literally forgot substance. I thought it would be tough for Dwayne Johnson to release a film that is worse than “Jungle Cruise” this year. Well, here we are. I also thought it was gonna be tough for Ryan Reynolds to crap out something worse than “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” this year. Mission accomplished, I guess! Gal Gadot looks stunning in a red dress. Okay. Let’s make a good script with that concept in it! How bout that? I’m going to give “Red Notice” a 2/10.

“Red Notice” is now available on Netflix for all subscribers. The film also released in theaters, but it has been a month since it came out, so I would not count on going to the theater to see this film at this point.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed this review, I just want to let you know that I have more coming. I have reviews coming for “Ron’s Gone Wrong,” “King Richard,” “Tick, Tick…BOOM!,” “Encanto,” “Sing 2,” “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” and “West Side Story.” I’m also going to be seeing “Spider-Man: No Way Home” soon, so I will have a review for that as well.

Also, tomorrow, I will be sharing my thoughts on “The Matrix Reloaded” as part of the ongoing review series “The Matrix Reviewed!” Stay tuned!

If you want to see this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Red Notice?” What did you think about it? Or, what is the most disappointing movie you’ve seen with a great cast? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Last Night in Soho (2021): BEST NIGHT EVER!

“Last Night in Soho” is directed by Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Baby Driver), and stars Thomasin McKenzie (Leave No Trace, Jojo Rabbit), Anya Taylor-Joy (Emma., The Queen’s Gambit), Matt Smith (Doctor Who, The Crown), Michael Ajao (Silent Witness, Attack the Block), Terence Stamp (Superman, Billy Budd), and Diana Rigg (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Game of Thrones). This film is about a young girl named Eloise, or Ellie, who aspires to be a fashion designer. She decides that she’s gonna try to make it big and in doing so, she moves to London to study at the London College of Fashion. One night, Ellie finds herself magically transported to the 1960s, where she encounters a young singer named Sandie. Throughout we follow Ellie’s journey as she stalks the singer and finds out more about her, maybe more than one would prefer.

“Last Night in Soho” was a particularly interesting movie on the surface in terms of its marketing, because it is one of the few movies I’ve barely seen marketed either through movie trailers in the theater, social media, or television, but every time I saw it, I found myself intrigued. If anything, it’s because of colors. I think ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been enamored with neon. To this point, and I’ve probably mentioned this once or twice in Scene Before history, neon is probably my favorite chemical element. And when you are setting a film in a city and passage of times like the ones at hand, there are quite a few opportunities for dazzlingly colorful scenes, which spoiler, this film has plenty of. It feels weird to say that though, because this film often presents itself as a horror show.

From start to finish, if you look at the film from a certain point of view, it is the less than fortunate life of a rising star, that being Anya Taylor-Joy’s character of Sandie. The character has immense talent and confidence, but she also is in a way being controlled by men, which we see throughout the film. Although that is not the main story, and instead, just a fraction of it.

I’m gonna be real with you. This film f*cking slaps. I was gonna go see this at a press screening, but I ended up not going. But once I saw that one of my local venues was showing this movie in 35mm film, I jumped at the opportunity to watch it. Having seen it, the film is bloody magical, mystical, kind of in a realistic rainbow and unicorn kind of way, but somehow, it finds a way to be scary. I remember seeing the trailer for this film back in the spring, and I was slightly jarred by it, not because it didn’t look good, but I was not sure what they were trying to go for. Is it a horror movie? Is it about music? Something maybe more erotic? At the same time though, this is a good example of how trailers should be done. Give a basic taste and feel of how the movie could go, but don’t spoonfeed the audience. Granted, that was just a teaser trailer. I actually never saw the legit, full-length trailer they put out before the film hit theaters which gives more of an indication of how things go, but that may have made me kind of glad. I went in somewhat blind, but walked out happy. Very happy in fact.

At its heart, I would not call “Last Night in Soho” a thriller nor a horror, I’d call it a coming of age story. I don’t mean that in a John Hughes kind of way where there’s comedy and shenanigans going on like in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” or “Weird Science,” but in the OTHER John Hughes kind of way where a young kid is trying to become an adult and they have to adapt to something unfamiliar or something they may prefer to avoid. In our main protagonist’s case, she’s been living in a rural environment all her life, but one day, she decides to make this enormous transition by going to college, and living in London. And of course, moving to the big city in a case like this can feel incredibly overwhelming. You almost don’t even know where to start. This would be a hard enough story for our main character to go through, but then you have a rabbit hole that develops in the 1960s from which she cannot stray away.

The other thing that ties this film together is the performances. Much of the film, specifically in the 1960s portion is about the chemistry, if you really want to call it that, between Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy. I really like these two whenever they’re in the same scenes together because you have McKenzie who is young, curious, and wants to find her way in the world. Meanwhile, you have Anya Taylor-Joy’s character, who like McKenzie, is not that old either, but she has maybe had some experience that hindered with her ability to do things from one day to the next. The whole idea of Thomasin McKenzie going to London was to be something bigger than herself, follow her passion of fashion design. Anya Taylor-Joy is sort of going through the same thing as an entertainer, a singer. And we see McKenzie, prior to her time travel adventures, she is obsessed with the 1960s period from a fashion perspective, so to have her travel here would be somewhat appropriate while also providing an increasingly edge of your seat story.

Honestly, I don’t know if Anya Taylor-Joy will win an Oscar this year, but when it comes to showing the physical beauty of the 1960s, she shines, but there’s also another side to her character, Sandie, where she seemingly refuses to embrace such beauty. After all, even though she is kind of finding her passion right in front of her, she’s also being followed and affected by all these men surrounding her.

Now this is the part of the review where I am supposed to come in with some sort of random flaw that I experienced with the film. Something like pacing, which was great. Maybe the music was not that memorable. There actually was some decent music to be honest, maybe not my favorite score of the year, I’d have to listen to it separately to fully judge. Maybe there was one performance that didn’t line up with the others. Not true, everyone felt like they were in sync. I’m sure if I thought hard enough, I could come up with something, because no movie’s perfect. But at the top of my head, I cannot think of anything. This movie had a promising beginning with a likable character, and capped itself off with one of the most mind-blowing endings I have seen in some time. My jaw was on the floor in the last twenty minutes. There are definitely scarier horror flicks out there depending on what you’re looking for, but I don’t choose to see it in that light. If you look at this film, like I did, as a coming of age story, it is one of the most entertaining and thrilling that has ever been done. Edgar Wright directed the crap out of this. Technically, this has some of my favorite shots and lighting of the year. If I were getting a new television, this would be a phenomenal test movie.

In the end, “Last Night in Soho,” oh my god! I have not seen anything like this in a long time! As for whether it will end up as my favorite movie of 2021, I am not sure. I have another movie that could take that spot, but if you want to know how much I enjoyed “Last Night in Soho,” this movie took me much longer to review than the other potential favorite, and the fact that I am still thinking about it, perhaps more than the NEXT movies I’m going to review, says something. If you go into this movie expecting a horror or thriller, I will warn you, you won’t walk out disappointed, but I did not walk out of this film having enjoyed one of those types of films. I walked out having enjoyed one of the single greatest coming of age tales I have ever watched. Whether it is a horror, thriller, or a coming of age story like I suggested, it does not change the fact that I’m going to give “Last Night in Soho” a 10/10!

“Last Night in Soho” is now playing in theaters everywhere and is available to buy on a VOD service of your choice.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for the all new MCU film, “Eternals.” FINALLY, I’m talking about this! There’s literally another MCU film around the corner! So for that reason, this review needs to be to done! I also have reviews coming for “Red Notice,” “Ron’s Gone Wrong,” “King Richard,” “Encanto,” and “Sing 2.” Six reviews coming up! That’s quite a list! And I’m also planning to see “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” pretty soon, so yeah, I’ve got a lot on my plate. If you want to see all this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, be sure to check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Last Night in Soho?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite decade? Fabulous Fifties? Rad Eighties? Maybe we’re going really retro with somewhere in Medieval Times? Let me know what your favorite decade is down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

No Time to Die (2021): It’s a Good Time to Watch Daniel Craig’s Bond Swan Song

“No Time to Die,” a film that was literally scheduled to come out a year and a half ago mind you, so there really was still some time to die between then and now, is directed by Cary Joji Fukanaga (Maniac, Beasts of No Nation) and stars Daniel Craig (Knives Out, Logan Lucky) in his fifth and final portrayal of James Bond. Joining him this time around is Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody, Night at the Museum), Léa Seydoux (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Midnight in Paris), Lashana Lynch (Still Star-Crossed, Captain Marvel), Ben Whishaw (A Very English Scandal, Fargo), Naomie Harris (Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest) Jeffrey Wright (What If…?, Westworld), Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained), and Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, The LEGO Batman Movie). This film is once again, Daniel Craig’s last outing as James Bond, the suave 007 spy who this time around, is retired, he’s done with his life as a spy, but when an old colleague asks for help, Bond takes on the job and finds himself down a path toward a villain who will unleash hell to the world with weapons of mass destruction.

Bond. James Bond. These are words that probably come to everyone’s mind when they think of the iconic 007 intellectual property. This is the last time we can associate them with Daniel Craig, who has not only done a great job at portraying the spy since “Casino Royale,” but as of recently, has also been the symbol of letting you know when the work week is over.

Exquisite.

I will admit, as excited as I was to see Daniel Craig give a goodbye to the character we’ve come to know for so many years, I was also a little nervous. The front of my head, all excited and ready to go, was doing cartwheels. Meanwhile, the back of my head, all nervous and timid, was shivering. Part of me wondered if Daniel Craig genuinely wanted to make a fifth Bond title or if he was just showing up for the paycheck. Thankfully, the trailers for this film put those worries away as each one is as action packed as the next. Each time this film got pushed back, it made me slightly more eager to see it to witness whether the thing I was bound to see was actually worth the wait. The film had more that intrigued me on the surface aside from Daniel Craig. Ana de Armas, one of the most objectively attractive and talented actresses working in Hollywood right now, plays a role in the film as well, and this is not even her first outing with Daniel Craig as they both played key roles in 2019’s “Knives Out,” which is one of the most fun films I have watched in recent years. The film was also shot in IMAX 70mm, which kind of didn’t matter in the end as it didn’t play anywhere in the format in which it was shot, but I saw the film in IMAX and those scenes are well put together, even if audiences will not usually be able to fully realize them. This is just speculation and pregame, so how was the film?

Everyone is going to have their personal rankings of the Daniel Craig Bond films. If it were me, I would put “No Time To Die” somewhere in the middle, which is not a bad thing, because based on the decent track record these films have, “No Time To Die” is a fun film to watch and just so happens to be a lovely tribute to the Daniel Craig era by the time it is over. For the most part, the film does not necessarily feel like a finale through the first act, I’d say you get more of that feel through the second and third act. I don’t mind that. Even though the film ends in one of the most climactic ways it could possibly go out, the feeling of this being the end never came off as forced.

We’ll skip Daniel Craig’s performance for a second, we’ll get to it. But going back to Ana De Armas, I think of all the film’s supporting characters, she was the most fun to watch. I may say this with a predisposed bias as I love the actress. I have been excited to see almost anything she’s in since “Blade Runner 2049,” but her character may be the most fun in the movie. I say that because she is genuinely HAVING THE MOST FUN in the movie. There is a scene that takes place in Cuba where she and Bond meet, they get dressed, get ready, and she’s just spewing out the fact, smilingly, that she’s had “three weeks training.” She’s just excited to see whatever comes up in her path. I would love to in some way, see more of this character. Or, based on what I just saw in this film, I would love to see Ana de Armas lead her own Bond-esque spy film. De Armas has one of my favorite performances in the film and her chemistry with Daniel Craig is untouchable.

And this also leads me with my one deterrent with Daniel Craig in this film. As much fun as I imagine Craig could be having on set, his character never feels like he’s having fun anywhere he goes, even for a drink. I dunno. I get it, he just retired and wants to relax, but it feels weird to say that I’m having fun when the main character is not. I get it. He’s out killing left and right, interrogating people, and after a while that can get boring, but I feel like the way Bond was written in this film made him feel less “fun” then he did in other iterations. I get that characters develop and change, and that’s good for story purposes, but I feel that one constant Bond has experienced is that he was genuinely happy to do what he does. It may just be a personal thing. If anything, the best way I can describe Bond in this film, is that he has a lot of the traces that the character had in every film from “Casino Royale” to “Spectre.” He’s badass, he’s kind of stern, and he’ll let out his emotions only when he means to. These are traits I keep in mind every time when I think of this character. But the way Bond is written in this film sort of reminds me of the way Luke Skywalker was written in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which currently stands as one of my least favorite “Star Wars” films to date. The reason why I bring that up is because Luke Skywalker has a broken personality to him to the point where he almost refuses to associate himself with what made him who he is. If you break down the two characters, Bond is obviously more in tune with his profession than Luke, but still.

One of the big lines of press this movie got before it came out was the fact that there was a brand new 007. Of course, Craig’s character left the service, so it’s only fitting that he got replaced. The replacement, Lashana Lynch’s character of Nomi. I don’t mind Lashana Lynch as an actress. I thought she did an okay job in “Captain Marvel” as much as I think it is one of the inferior MCU installments. Lynch brings her character to life here and there are some fun scenes with her. But there is one part of the film that the more I think about it, the more I dislike it. It’s this recurring gag between Craig and Lynch where the two are throwing these little jabs at each other. On the surface, it’s kind of fun to watch, but as it keeps going, it only feels forced. It sort of rubbed me the wrong way.

As for Rami Malek, who I personally awarded a Jackoff during my first ceremony, he sort of plays the typical Bond villain that has a distinguished look to him. He’s got a suit. He’s got this attitude that you would probably only find in the Bond franchise. The way he’s written in some ways feels cliché, but Malek is convincing enough to play the part to perfection. I like the way he’s handled toward the end of the film. The conflict between him, Bond, and other people whose names I won’t mention, added up to make an entertaining, intense, fast-paced finale. When it comes to the finales in the Daniel Craig Bond saga, this might be my favorite. It’s explosive, it’s brutal, and the choices the characters have to make feel like they have some real stakes.

I will admit, I have rarely exposed myself to anything Bond aside from Daniel Craig, so I have nothing much else to compare this movie to. Although I would love to have a big marathon one day where I catch up on all the other flicks in the franchise. But I would say that collectively, the Daniel Craig Bond saga was a success. I had fun watching this conclusion to said saga. I am glad they ended it where they did. If you like the Craig era of James Bond movies, this may be a fun watch for you. I don’t know if you will put it in the same caliber as some of the other installments, but you will probably have a good time with it. I can say I did.

In the end, “No Time To Die” was worth the fifty thousand year wait we had to sit through to see it. I am glad we got a proper goodbye to the Daniel Craig character. The film looks beautiful. The villain, while cliché in certain ways, is effective. This film blends fun and emotion together to positive results, and I would probably watch it again one day. What’s next in Daniel Craig’s career? Well aside from “Knives Out 2,” which I hope Netflix gives a wide theatrical release (PLEASE. That first one was one of the greatest theatrical outings of my life.), we’ll have to see what the future holds. Either way, his Bond run is complete, and it ended in a satisfying way. I’m going to give “No Time to Die” a 7/10.

“No Time to Die” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! Just a reminder that this Halloween, Sunday, October 31st, I will be debuting my review for “Ghostbusters,” the classic 1984 film featuring creepy libraries, ghost traps, proton packs, and giant marshmallows. What could be better? Well, let me just remind you, this is all part of my upcoming mini review series titled “Ghostbusters: Before Afterlife,” where I not only review the first “Ghostbusters,” but I will also be talking about “Ghostbusters II” on November 7th. I cannot wait to talk about both films, and not long after, I will be sharing my thoughts on the all new “Ghostbusters” installment, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which hits theaters the weekend before Thanksgiving! Which if you’re not from the United States, that’s where turkeys make a plan of attack against humanity to dominate the world.

Also, couple more housekeeping updates… My next review, as far as new releases go, is going to be for “Dune,” my most anticipated film of the year. I have no idea what day that will drop, but I guarantee you will see it by the end of next week. After that, I also have reviews coming for “The French Dispatch” and “Last Night in Soho.” If you want to see this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “No Time to Die?” What did you think about it? Or, who do you think should be the next James Bond? In no particular order, I would to throw these names into the ring: Henry Cavill, Tom Hiddleston, and Orlando Bloom. Feel free to use em. Or don’t. Your call. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Halloween Kills (2021): A Halloween Sequel That Encourages You To Find Jamie Lee Curtis

“Halloween Kills” is directed by David Gordon Green, who also directed the previous “Halloween” installment, simply titled “Halloween,” the 2018 sequel that erased all the other “Halloween” sequels out of continuity. Serious question… They had no other title for that movie? Anyway, this film “stars” Jamie Lee Curtis, even though she barely does anything here. In addition to her, this movie also has a cast including Judy Greer (Ant-Man, 27 Dresses), Andi Matichak (Assimilate, Underground), Will Patton (Falling Skies, Remember the Titans), Thomas Mann (Project X, Kong: Skull Island), and Anthony Michael Hall (The Breakfast Club, Weird Science). This film is the sequel to 2018’s “Halloween,” taking place directly where that movie ends, and follows the Strode family as they continue to survive against the dreaded Michael Myers. This time around, the entire Haddonfield community joins together to defend themselves against the twisted serial killer.

I feel like I keep beating a dead horse when I say this. Horror movies as a genre is not my forte in the film realm. I like some horror, I enjoy it. But for years I avoided a ton of new titles because they often looked predictable from the marketing. Although I have an appreciation for the 1978 “Halloween.” I think it did a lot for slasher flicks and it remains one of the more popular horror titles out there today. Michael Myers has become synonymous with a still face that you do not want to find on the street, and I think the original film is worth a watch at least once before you die, or before someone comes at you with a knife and slices your throat. I cannot say much about the other “Halloween” films, because all I’ve seen aside from “Halloween Kills” is the original film, “Halloween II,” and “Halloween” 2018.

Going into “Halloween Kills,” I was not expecting too much. I had some fun with the 2018 “Halloween” reboot, but I would not say it is that great. There are parts of it that were slow, underwhelming, but I still had some fun with it. I ended up going to the press screening just hoping to have a good time. And I will say that “Halloween Kills,” despite its flaws, and there are a few, is reasonably enjoyable. If you want something fun to watch this weekend, I would recommend “Halloween Kills.”

The film comes with some things that you might expect. Classy kills, great music including the classic “Halloween” theme that has become well known to the fanbase, and Jamie Lee Curtis being badass. Those have become a few staples of the franchise. But I also like where this movie takes its story as far as the supporting cast goes. This film spends much of its time getting to know a large supporting cast who reside within Haddonfield. They all agree on one thing. Michael Myers is on their death list. The way that they handled this supporting cast in the movie sort of reminiscences the U.S. capital riot earlier this year. After all, you have a large group of people, including someone who organized an entire mob, they’re together for the same purpose, but instead of going after a ton of people at once, they’re after one guy. Granted, this movie was written and shot before that happened, but I like that aspect of the film. Trust me, if I found out Jack the Ripper were still alive and somehow in my area, I would be encouraged to join a mob and go after him. I’m a pacifist, I do not have any intentions to kill anyone, but even I might be propagandized enough to go after him.

This movie also has some really cool kills. The movie is available to stream on Peacock even though it is also in theaters, but if you want my recommendation, I’d say go see this movie with an audience because there are one or two kills where our theater gasped, oohed, I said “oh my god,” one time. It is worth seeing in a theatrical environment. My other recommendation is if you want to watch it on Peacock. Get some friends, order some food, make sure you have plenty of people in the same room. This film is fun to watch by yourself, but might be even better with others. Michael Myers has a way of bringing people together.

I said there are a few problems about this movie, and I am not afraid to talk about them. First off, as much as I like the screenplay when it comes to how it handles its large group of supporting characters, I think the movie does not bring much that’s new to the horror genre or “Halloween” franchise. Part of the screenplay is predictable, and I’ll probably forget about a lot of characters in this film by the end of the year. Speaking of characters, again, as much as I like the supporting cast and what they do, I think a lot of time was wasted away from Laurie Strode. Jamie Lee Curtis received top billing in the film, so I would have liked to have seen more from her character. I feel like she doesn’t do much. I know the way the last movie ended and this movie begins has her character the way she is for a reason, but I was somewhat underwhelmed by Curtis’s appearance. It’s like, “Look everybody, A NEW HALLOWEEN MOVIE! Starring Jamie Lee Curtis as that one lady who earns her paycheck!”

My other big complaint is one that to some people, probably should not come as much of a surprise. I felt like the first half of the movie tried its best to set the tone for what’s ahead, but while it did that, it made much of that first half an extravaganza of jumpscares. There were just too many scares just done to keep people on their toes and they had little to no real purpose of being in the film. They’re just… There. I do recommend “Halloween Kills,” but it’s gonna be hard to call it a movie for the ages. It’s definitely fun to watch at least once and see how it is.

In the end, “Halloween Kills” is a good time and I do think it is best watched with a group of people, as long as you’re not out to kill anyone. This film comes with the basics of a “Halloween” film mixed in with an angry mob of people who gather together to get rid of the one thing that pisses them off, a man in a $2 William Shatner mask. No, seriously. Some people suggest that the mask for the original Michael Myers is based on a guy who just went up into space in a penis rocket! There is not a ton of substance in this film, but it definitely delivers style. I approve of the film despite its flaws. I’m going to give “Halloween Kills” a 6/10.

“Halloween Kills” is now playing in theaters everywhere. The film is also available to stream on Peacock Premium free of any additional charge.

Thanks for reading this review! Now if you thought “Halloween Kills was scary, just wait and see what I’ll be reviewing next. This weekend I went to see “The Last Duel,” one of my most anticipated movies of the season, and without giving much away, “The Last Duel” makes “Halloween Kills” look like a family film. I cannot wait to talk about the movie, I have a lot to say. Also be on the lookout for my reviews of “No Time to Die” and “Dune,” both of which will be coming soon. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account and also be sure to check out the official Facebook page to stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Halloween Kills?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a movie where you think one of the main characters should have gotten more screen time? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Don’t Breathe 2 (2021): This Terminator 2-Esque Horror Sequel May Leave You Breathless

“Don’t Breathe 2” is directed by Rodo Sayagues, who wrote and produced the original “Don’t Breathe.” This sequel is his directorial debut. This film stars Stephen Lang (Avatar, Tombstone), Brendan Sexton III (The Killing, The Odd Way Home), and Madelyn Grace (The Orville, Grey’s Anatomy). “Don’t Breathe 2” once again involves Norman Nordstrom (Stephen Lang), a blind man who is more able than he is set out to be. Years after his home was invaded, Nordstrom must face the realities in his way as his past catches up to him.

I saw this film over a couple weeks ago, and I almost passed on it but I gave in given the limited options at the movie theater. This is not to say that I was not looking forward to “Don’t Breathe 2,” but it has been awhile since I saw the original so I wondered if it would be reasonable to go see this sequel having not seen the first one recently to refresh my memory. This brings me to my first compliment of the film. There’s not much catching up to do if you have not watched the first movie. “Don’t Breathe 2” feels like its own, contained story, not to mention a good one.

I may have mentioned a few times on Scene Before that horror is one of my weaker genres. It’s not that I have a vendetta against horror, it’s just that I’ve missed a lot of its staples over the years. Staples including “Friday the 13th,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” and even some modern titles like “Insidious.” Despite this certified weakness, it did not stop me from checking out this “Don’t Breathe” sequel, and I cannot say I was underwhelmed. If anything, I walked out of this film feeling as if I watched a horror version of “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” Now, I’m not saying I liked it as much as “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” that film is honestly much better, but in terms of story, execution, vibe, and the way everything plays out, these two films present similar qualities. You have the villain of the first film returning once again, but this time, the villain has a good side to him, and much of the movie is spent between him and a kid. While not exactly the same, it kind of reminded me of the The Terminator having a bond with young John Connor. In “Don’t Breathe 2,” we see that The Blind Man has a daughter now by the name of Phoenix. This connection is presented extensively throughout the film and is nicely explored.

Sticking to my “Terminator” comparisons, I think Stephen Lang does a great job at portraying the Blind Man, otherwise known as Norman Nordstrom, once again. He kind of reminded me of a big guy who could step into any situation and make someone’s day a living hell, and do so in a way that as far as me, as an audience member, is concerned, is utterly dope. But as far as his character’s concerned, seeing him the way he is in this film is a slightly weird transition because in the last film he was the big bad. Here, he’s a hero. I do like how the film manages to continue the idea that Nordstrom wanted nothing more than a daughter. After all, in the first movie, it was revealed he used to have one, he was going to have another one before Cindy Roberts is accidentally killed by Nordstrom himself. As a result, towards the end of the film, Nordstrom traps Rocky in said film and attempts to inseminate her with a turkey baster. Despite the fact that the first film presented this concept with hint of evil attached, I love how this sequel dives into the originally crazy concept and expands on it. And it is not like the concept is anywhere near as twisted or wicked. I mean, there are abnormalities attached that could raise some questions from people standing by or other people who happen to have different parenting styles. Nevertheless, it feels more natural and more along the lines of a television drama for a period of time. After all, if you want the same wickedness that the first film provides, just wait for the second half where it gets dark and bloody, and boy do I mean it.

One of the best parts of “Don’t Breathe 2” is that there is a somewhat consistent sense of unpredictability. Yes, some of the scares, not all, but a selection, can be predictable, but story-wise, this film does not disappoint with the creepy, dark, and twisted direction they take their plot points and characters. I will not lie, there was a point towards the end of the second act where I basically winced as to what could happen within the next twenty minutes because I was getting increasingly creeped out.

If you had to ask me rwhich “Don’t Breathe” film I’d watch again right now, the answer would not be the easiest, but if you had to ask me what I thought about “Don’t Breathe 2,” I would argue that it is possibly, like “Terminator 2,” better than the original. I’m probably not in the majority when I say that, but I stand by my statement. I will also say that part of me does not want to see a sequel to “Don’t Breathe 2” because the movie ends in such a way that makes the idea of a sequel feel kind of campy or absurd. Granted, you never know. The Hollywood machine loves endless sequels and remakes, so anything is possible in a world where “Toy Story 4” can get made (and to positive results!).

If I had to give any flaws to “Don’t Breathe 2,” I’d say the one that comes to mind is that there is a major plot point that Phoenix experiences and I feel like her reaction to the whole scenario is not natural whatsoever. She gave a good performance in the film, but if anything, I feel like this issue is more on the script than anything else. This is something that is supposed to be sadistic, crazy, and life threatening, and the way that I interpreted most of her emotions were that of a robot. She just took it all in as if there was no real worry or misfortune. I don’t know, maybe it is because she’s already had enough going on, which I won’t get into for spoiler reasons, but nevertheless. Even so, I would highly recommend “Don’t Breathe 2,” especially to those who enjoyed the original.

One last thing, I don’t know if this was supposed to be a joke, but this was a literal line from the film…

“Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.”

It’s called “DON’T Breathe!” Get it right!

In the end, “Don’t Breathe 2” is a sequel that could take your breath away. Stephen Lang does a great job returning as the fierce Norman Nordstrom. This film is well directed, well shot, nicely edited. I think technically speaking, this film checks all the boxes. As a horror flick, it is hypnotizing. As a sequel, it is one of those cases where I may have enjoyed this film more than the original. And it is one of the better movies I have seen this year. If you have not seen “Don’t Breathe 2,” check it out whenever you can. I’m going to give “Don’t Breathe 2” a 7/10.

“Don’t Breathe 2” is now playing in theaters and is available to rent on VOD services such as Prime Video and Vudu.

Thanks for reading this review! Coming soon, I will have a couple new reviews for movies including “Reminiscence” and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” Stay tuned for those! Speaking of staying tuned, be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Don’t Breathe 2?” What did you think about it? Or, which of the two “Don’t Breathe” films is better? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Army of the Dead (2021): A Stellar Cast Risk Their Lives Against Zombies in Quarantined Vegas

“Army of the Dead” is directed by Zack Snyder (Man of Steel, 300) and stars Dave Bautista (My Spy, Guardians of the Galaxy), Ella Purnell (Never Let Me Go, Sweetbitter), Omari Hardwick (Kick-Ass, Sorry to Bother You), Ana de la Reguera (Goliath, Narcos), Theo Rossi (Luke Cage, Sons of Anarchy), Matthias Schweighöfer (The Most Beautiful Day, You Are Wanted), Nora Arnezeder (Mozart in the Jungle, Safe House), Hiroyuki Sanada (Mortal Kombat, The Last Samurai), Tig Notaro (Transparent, Star Trek: Discovery), Raúl Castillo (Wrath of Man, Atypical), Huma Qureshi (Gangs of Wasseypur, Dedh Ishqiya), and Garret Dillahunt (The Mindy Project, Fear the Walking Dead). This film is about a group of people living in the future where Las Vegas has been taken over by zombies. These people unite together for one purpose, to get stinkin’ rich. To do that, they venture into Las Vegas, which is now a quarantine zone, to acquire a sinfully delicious amount of money.

I remember during the 2010s there was a huge zombie craze with shows like “The Walking Dead.” To be frank, as cool as zombies happen to be conceptually, I never fell into the rabbit hole of the craze. I mean I like “World War Z,” I like “Zombieland,” but I have not even gone back to watch many of the classic zombie stories. I still have not seen George Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead.” Admittedly, horror is one of my Achilles heels as a movie fan. I barely have any entries from that genre in my movie collection and of the genres that I imagine would “cater” to me, it is the one that I watch the least. I’m more of an action fan. I’m more of a comedy fan. I’m more of a sci-fi and fantasy fan. But there was something about “Army of the Dead” that sounded really intriguing. And I say this as someone who skipped the trailers. I just thought between the cast, Zack Snyder at the helm, and the environment, specifically a post-apocalyptic Vegas, it was a recipe for greatness. Now I did not think this would be a masterpiece, but it would at the very least be fun.

And fun it WAS.

I have not seen this movie since the theater last month. Yes, it released in theaters. But it’s also on Netflix if you want to watch it right now. Either way, I will just say, if you want something to watch where you can just shove tons of popcorn in your mouth, I think “Army of the Dead” is your answer. It is a film that, while well-crafted from start to finish, does not always take itself seriously, although I will admit it sometimes has an identity crisis that reminds me of the “Transformers” movies just a little. And for those reasons, it works like a charm.

If you want to know how not so serious this movie actually is, just watch the news segments during the film and listen to the quotes of the President of the United States. I do not want to spoil the film for those who have not watched it yet, but the President, who we do not necessarily see, does something that maybe in the world of this movie would make just a tiny tad of sense, but only to a certain demographic of people that would define themselves as uber-Patriotic perhaps. I don’t know, let’s just say that it is something that plays into the climax of the film and it is one of the highlights without giving anything away.

Going back to what I said about this film being like a “Transformers” movie, I am not necessarily lying. Because it is action-packed, there’s guns and explosions, and unfortunately, the characters, even though they have brief moments of charisma, leave a little to be desired. I did not think about this when watching the movie, but the main relationship between Dave Bautista and his daughter kind of gave me the same vibe of the relationship presented between the father and daughter in “Transformers: Age of Extinction.” In fact, walking out of the movie, and as I reflect on it, I barely even remember the names of the father and daughter when being forced to think about them without assistance from the Internet. The same can be said for all the other characters in the movie as well. I will say, the cast in the film is great, although there were quite a few characters I liked more than others. I was not necessarily a fan of Lily (Nora Arnezeder), as well portrayed as she was, but that has more to do with the plot and how things unfold than anything else.

Although if you want to know my favorite character in the film, I would say that honor goes to Tig Notaro’s character of Marianne Peters. If I have learned one thing in life, almost nothing matters more than a good first impression. And it when it comes to good first impressions, Peters’s first utterances in this film absolutely slap. On top of being one of the more wonderfully snarky characters in the entire film, Notaro did all of her footage on a green screen. For the record, her role was originally going to be played by Chris D’Elia but that changed in the middle of 2020 when sexual misconduct allegations surfaced regarding his name. From that point, Zack Snyder had to redo D’Elia’s scenes with someone new and that someone happened to be Notaro. I had no idea about this until after I watched the movie and I have to admit, having watched the film on the big screen, I did not notice any subtleties of an actor change.

After watching the movie, it is somewhat easier to pick up on this information, but it nevertheless looks nearly seamless. Well done.

In the previous film I reviewed, specifically “Wrath of Man,” I talked about the Johnny Cash song “Folsom Prison Blues” and how effectively used it was in that film. Since seeing the film, I have had little inklings of it in my head. I did not listen to that song much, but this film arguably has an even better use of a song that I do listen to from time to time. That song to be specific, is “Suspicious Minds” by Elvis Presley. I will not say too much other than the fact that this song plays in both the beginning and end of the film, but this once again goes to show the power of a film that can utilize a song to its fullest potential, because if executed right, it can ingrain itself into one’s head, kind of like it did with mine. I often point out the excellent use of film scores, but rarely do I point out written songs made prior to the movie that are then implemented later, and I figured now would be a good time.

In the end, “Army of the Dead” is not gonna win too many awards, it’s not gonna take Best Picture this year. I would be surprised if it is in my top 10 movies of the year in December, but it is a damn good time and one you certainly should check out. I often hear complaints from people who watch the movie that it is too long. Admittedly, I did not experience that fatigue. Maybe it is because I saw it in Cinemark XD and there were certain scenes that really popped that let me keep my chin up, but even though this film is almost two and a half hours, it felt like it was twenty to thirty minutes shorter than it actually was. The movie is just fun and that is all that I could ask for. I might be curious to watch it on Netflix one day, because I remember, speaking of Zack Snyder, when I watched the four hour “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” on HBO Max I had one or two brief pauses in between. I want to know if I would make it through “Army of the Dead” in one sitting, if I would need to pause, or if I would tap out at a certain point. That would be an interesting experiment, but it is not one I plan to do at the moment. Nevertheless, I *really* enjoyed myself with “Army of the Dead,” which by the way, I would now say has one of the more memorable opening credits sequences in film history. It sets the tone, it’s hypnotic, and presents everything you need to know. It was just the start of a straight up good time. I’m going to give “Army of the Dead” a 7/10.

“Army of the Dead” released in theaters on May 14th, although it is unlikely to be playing anywhere near you at the moment. So if you want to watch the film right now, it is available exclusively on Netflix.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for John Krasinski’s brand new sequel, “A Quiet Place Part II.” Just crazy to think, that film was supposed to come out LAST YEAR. I will tell you if it is worth the wait very soon, just stay tuned! Speaking of staying tuned, be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account and check out the Facebook page so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Army of the Dead?” What did you think about it? Or, what are some movies that you think are too long? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!