Uncharted (2022): The Fast and the Furious with Treasure Hunting

“Uncharted” is directed by Ruben Fleischer (Venom, Zombieland) and stars Tom Holland (Spider-Man: No Way Home, Chaos Walking), Mark Wahlberg (Transformers: Age of Extinction, Deepwater Horizon), Antonio Banderas (Shrek 2, Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard), Sophia Ali (Grey’s Anatomy, The Wilds), and Tati Gabrielle (The Owl House, The 100). This film is based on the video game franchise of the same name and is about Nathan Drake who sets out on an adventure alongside Victor “Sully” Sullivan to find a fortune that has been lost for five centuries.

I have never played the “Uncharted” games. I know of them. I’ve seen particular images and cutscenes from them. I’ve just never had the time to sit down to play them. And it kind of ticks me off saying that because while I never had a PS3, when it comes to my consoles, I managed to acquire a PS4 several years ago as a Christmas gift, and I even just recently got a PS5. So despite my commitment to Sony over the years, I haven’t popped in “Uncharted” yet. But I also will note that I’m a busy man, I do not have time for video games. It’s the same thing with books. It’s not that I don’t like video games, but I sort of see video games the same way as television shows. If you want me to sit down and play one, there needs to be a real commitment factor. Again, I am amazingly committed to film, making other mediums feel less important. Since I mentioned books, I will have to make my usual apology to them. Movies are more fun! Sorry, books!

But with movie theaters trying to prove themselves as a reasonable escape within the confines of the pandemic era, it only seems appropriate that Sony would release a movie like this at this time. The little that I have seen of the “Uncharted” games did feel rather cinematic. And the very first scene of the film, which has Tom Holland flying in the air, did remind me of the little that I did see in the games. It had this extreme vibe that set the tone for everything going forward. Kind of like a video game. So the movie already kicked off to a positive start.

But this positive start doesn’t last long because when it comes to introducing the main characters, the setup feels rather clunky, and borderline unreal. Kind of like a video game.

If any of you remember the movie “Hardcore Henry,” I praised the movie for having a feel that I could probably experience only in a few cases. Video games being one of them. After all, it is set in the first person point of view. And when I was younger, I always wanted to adapt a particular video game into a film (I won’t say which one in case it ever ACTUALLY DOES HAPPEN). But looking back, I had all these ideas for camera techniques that would be reminiscent of the games, and I wonder if that’s now all a gimmick. Looking at “Uncharted,” I admire its efforts to bring a massively immersive, and I do mean immersive, experience. There are scenes in this film that are best experienced on the biggest screen you can find, and for that alone, you should shell out a few bucks to see it in the theater if interested, but maybe not above matinee price, or a subscription like A-List, which is what I previously used.

Sticking to that, much like a video game vibe, the climax is probably one of the most immersive and inviting I have seen in recent film. I’ve seen a number of climaxes recently that fit the material in which it tries to attach itself, but this is one that not only puts its characters in the most dangerous of situations, but also embraces what I hoped this movie would go for. A bit of far-fetchedness, but also enough to ensure your brain is still attached. But at the same time, there is also some moments where they jump the shark and my brain gets a bit cracked. You may have seen the part in the trailers where Tom Holland gets hit by a red car, it’s a bit over the top.

I feel like this film’s immersion factor is an enormous reason as to why it sometimes works. Because let’s be real, I am not going to claim that Nathan Drake is one of my favorite film characters. I like the guy playing him. I think Tom Holland has talent. But when translated to the final product, the film struggles to get me attached to its characters as much as it puts into its respective environments.

If I had to point out a favorite scene in the film, it’s actually one that appears in the trailers. Basically, Nathan Drake is in the middle of a mission, and out comes this heavier man, portrayed by Steven Waddington, who scares Drake s*itless. Then we get… This exchange. Well, maybe this exchange. Pardon me, I’m just a dumb American.

THE SCOTSMAN: “You shouldn’t have come out to play with the big boys wee in because you’re about to get a proper Scottish welcome.”

NATHAN: “What?”

I lost it when first hearing this. Again, I’m just a dumb American, but as a dumb American, I acknowledge that the English language is understood in a variety of ways. From the perspective of my tiny little American brain, the Scottish accent is first off, hard to understand, and second, occasionally funny. So, I’ll give credit to the writers for nailing that aspect and Waddington for providing a seemingly over the top accent that had me laughing. I wanted to see more of him. Although I do want to know what Scottish people think of this. Is this humorous? Accurate? Offensive, maybe? I want to know.

Although going back to what I said earlier, there is one scene that the more I think about it, kind of irritates me. Because I understand that movies and their studios are supposed to pay the bills. But what irritates me is that this movie ends up using a forced, randomly placed instance of product placement within its main story. I was engaged during said scene, but I do not think this is the time to sell me “Papa John’s.” It does not go as extreme as the “Power Rangers” movie we got a few years ago with Krispy Kreme (although I like the money shot it brought), but the more I think about it, the more it distracts me.

“Uncharted” feels like “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

…At times.

“Uncharted” is a fun adventure with characters that have their own quirks. But relatively speaking, this ain’t no “Raiders.” Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg do their best with the material given to them, but their chemistry feels very off and on. There are a couple scenes where I can tell that these two have probably developed a friendship per se. But there are also other scenes where I don’t sense much realism between them.

In the end, “Uncharted” is a film that is good enough to please me for one or two viewings, but maybe not more. I heard that Tom Holland is a fan of the video games, therefore I am happy to know that he is playing a character that he possibly admires. But I can see why this film suffered as many delays as it did. It’s a film that feels like was made for the 21st century 3D era, in fact ideas for it were developed during that time, but it ends up coming out in 2022. I feel like Sony just wanted this movie to get out sooner than later because it’s practically been in development since 2008. Directors like David O. Russell (Three Kings, American Hustle), Neil Burger (The Illusionist, Divergent), Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses, Baywatch), Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum, Free Guy), and Dan Trachtenberg (Portal: No Escape, The Boys) were originally attached to helm the picture. Unfortunately these did not last, so we ended up with “Zombieland” director Ruben Fleischer. I also think the decision to get Tom Holland to play Nathan Drake was solid. As mentioned, he’s played the games, so he’s familiar with the material. But he also is on the younger side, so unlike say Nathan Fillion, who ended up appearing in an “Uncharted” fan film and is about twice the age of Tom Holland, Sony made a decision they thought was good for business. If “Uncharted” is successful, Tom Holland is young enough to keep playing the role should there be sequels. And would I want a sequel to “Uncharted?” Sure. I could watch another film in this franchise. But I would recommend maybe getting a different writing team. I’m going to give “Uncharted” a bare maximum 5/10, and I feel like that’s generous. I was genuinely entertained, but I also recognize that this movie was very clunky and could have done more, and that’s why I’m giving it the score it gets.

“Uncharted” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! Next Sunday, March 13th, I am going to be sharing an all new first look at the upcoming 4th Annual Jackoffs! I am going to be announcing the nominations, and I’ll be dropping a trailer as to what you can expect for this grand, majestic awards ceremony! The ceremony itself is happening on March 27th, therefore it will be held the same day as the Oscars! So that’s another three hours of your life taken away! But I will still have content in between the announcement and ceremony such as upcoming movie reviews! Speaking of which, my next review is going to be for Netflix’s new movie, “The Adam Project,” which coincidentally, is directed by one of the folks I mentioned who was once attached to “Uncharted,” Shawn Levy! I already saw the film through a virtual screening, and it arrives on Netflix soon. I will have my full-fledged thoughts as soon as possible. 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 “Uncharted?” What did you think about it? Or, have you played any of the “Uncharted” games? Tell me your thoughts on those! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021): Sony and Marvel’s Thrilling, Emotional Love Letter to Three Generations of the Webhead *SPOILER-FREE*

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) - IMDb

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is directed by Jon Watts, who also directed the previous two MCU-set “Spider-Man” installments, which also have home in the title. I’m assuming if they make a fourth movie, it’s gonna be called “Grand Slam?” You know, instead of home run? Four?

Anybody?

Who cares?

Anyway, this film stars Tom Holland (Cherry, Onward), Zendaya (Space Jam: A New Legacy, Dune), Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek: Into Darkness, Sherlock), Jacob Batalon (Blood Fest, Let it Snow) Jon Favreau (Chef, Solo: A Star Wars Story), Jamie Foxx (Soul, Ray), Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse, Aquaman), Alfred Molina (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time), Benedict Wong (Annihilation, Raya and the Last Dragon), Tony Revolori (Dope, The Grand Budapest Hotel), and Marisa Tomei (Parental Guidance, Anger Management). This film revolves around Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man, who has to deal with the newfound dangers that lie ahead now that his identity has been revealed, in addition to being connected to the recent event of Mysterio’s drone swarm in London, which has been interpreted differently by the general public. When Peter seeks Dr. Strange’s help to make everyone forget he was Spider-Man, the spell to make such a thing happen goes wrong, villains from other universes arrive, and it is up to Peter to do the right thing before the dangers of one universe then become the dangers of another.

Alright guys, it is that time again. A big movie in December. Although this time around, it’s not in the “Star Wars” franchise. Still huge. That being said, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is the biggest movie of the year. I should note the box office suggests that this film is enormous, but there are still people who have not seen the film. I know at least a couple. With that being said, I will note that this review is spoiler-free. I am going to talk about certain points in the film that stand out, but I’m not going to go into deeper plot points. If you have not seen this movie and plan to see it, I can tell you that this review is safe to read.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is a follow-up to “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Spider-Man: Far from Home.” I have to say that when it comes to the first film, it is slightly more enjoyable than I remember it being. But given Spider-Man’s excellent writing in “Captain America: Civil War,” the writing for that film felt like a step down. I really liked Vulture. Peter’s chemistry with Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) was charming. I even liked Liz in that film. I still think the film has logic issues when it comes to how Peter’s suit works and how Tony Stark would want it to work, but the film is still decent enough to pass the time. When it comes to “Spider-Man: Far from Home,” that film felt like a step up. Jake Gyllenhaal did a great job as Mysterio. I liked Ned a bit better this time around compared to the original. Plus it was nice to see Spider-Man somewhere other than New York for a change. Plus, the end of the film promised a fantastic setup for what would ultimately become “No Way Home.”

When it comes to “No Way Home,” is it a thumbs up or a thumbs down?

I think neither. I’d say TWO thumbs up.

Now, like almost everyone else, I should note that my anticipation and my excitement for “No Way Home” was high. Not as much as “Dune,” but still high. But I was also nervous. Because the film promised massive multiversal shenanigans, which sounds great. I should note… It SOUNDS great. During the fall as we built up to this film’s release, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” in my mind sounded like it could be one of two things. It’s either going to be the best movie ever, or the worst movie ever, and nowhere in between. In crossover-speak, is it going to be the next “Infinity War?” Or is it going to be the next “Space Jam: A New Legacy?” God that movie was awful. Thankfully, upon leaving the theater, I can confirm that I felt excited to go see the movie again in less than 24 hours, and my mind literally melted on the way home from how exciting this movie was to watch.

This film has a ton of villains ranging from Doc Ock to Electro, but it’s not like they’re just there for nostalgia purposes. Granted, at the end of the day, this film is sort of a tribute to the Spider-Man character and all the stories that came before this one. Anyone can put in a ton of cool characters and have them fight against Spider-Man. Heck, this movie could be Spider-Man vs. Godzilla vs. Agent Smith vs. Ron Burgundy, but it does not guarantee a good movie. It’s a basic case of concept vs. reality. The concept is great, but the reality could suck. But here’s the truth about all these villains…

Jamie Foxx’s Electro was written ten times better than he was written in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” Now, I will admit, they did kind of highlight a specific aspect about him from that film, specifically how Max was a nobody, which I thought had some okay setup before he was affected by a bunch of eels. But as we see him enter this universe, I could really tell that he was confused, he was concerned, and had no idea what was going on. They’ve even given him a new costume, which may be for story purposes, sure, but of course, who doesn’t want to sell more toys? Why do you think they gave 3PO a red arm in “The Force Awakens?”

My favorite villain of Raimi’s “Spider-Man” films was always Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock. I feel like even though his character was truly at the end of the day, an evil mastermind, he also had a heart. He went through tragedy the same way Peter did in those movies when he lost Uncle Ben. Only in the case of Doc Ock, he used his tragedy for evil, partially for a reason beyond his control. Even though he terrorized New York City, I feel bad for him, looking back. Plus, his arms are among some of the best practical effects ever. As for how he’s handled in this movie, I like the way they went about exploring his character’s newfound questions. After all, when you enter another universe, everything feels completely strange. Although when they first introduced him, they had a potential plot hole that could have affected how I viewed the entire movie that was corrected about ten to twenty minutes later. Glad they touched up on that. In this film, instead of his arms being practical, they were CGI, and I honestly could barely tell the difference. They did a really good job at making Doc Ock fit into a universe like this, even though it’s really the same character as another one.

But if you’re going to ask me who I think gives the single greatest performance out of all the film’s villains, I think that would have to be Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin. Now I always sensed that Dafoe enjoyed playing the character of Norman Osborn and being a part of the “Spider-Man” franchise. Even after his character died in “Spider-Man” (2002) he came back for the sequels, and there’s also a bonus feature where Alfred Molina is pranked by Dafoe, wearing the Doc Ock tentacles, trying to motivate Molina to give the greatest performance possible. Part of this movie centers around Osborn struggling with his inner self, which is not new for him, and I feel like we get so many layers to his character. We see his bewilderment of the world around him. We see him conflict over power and normalcy, and I think his dark side is more evident than ever. Whenever he does something truly horrific in this film, not only is it well written, I think it may deliver the best performance I have seen out of a Spider-Man villain in a long. Long. Long. Long time. I really liked the Green Goblin in the 2002 “Spider-Man” movie. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” arguably made him even better.

Now I will say that there are a couple other villains in this film, including Sandman and Lizard. Of the film’s villains, those two were the weakest, but they were still better than a lot of the villains we get in the MCU nowadays. I say that because a lot of the films in the MCU sometimes fail to heighten the villain and instead we get a cliche bad guy who just stands in the hero’s way. These are two are better than Ronan in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” And they’re especially better than Malekith in “Thor: The Dark World.” These two have some occasional funny lines, and I like Lizard’s reference to his master plan which Electro ended up making fun of. It’s not like they did not need to be in the movie, the movie is definitely cool with them and they do not end up doing anything offensive. But of all the villains in the film, Sandman and Lizard are the weakest links because they have the least depth. We get more time with Doc Ock and Goblin, therefore we have more opportunities to see depth for them, but for Sandman and Lizard, not so much.

But of course, this film belongs to the heroes. Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Ned, and MJ.

All of these actors who play the heroes are great and I think when it comes to Ned (center) in this movie, he’s kind of a bundle of joy. When I saw Ned for the first time in “Homecoming,” I thought he was annoying. I kind of grown to like him in that movie a little bit, because I kind of get the enthusiasm behind finding out your best friend is Spider-Man, but I think of these three movies, he had the worst writing because his questions can get excessive. To me, the writing in this film made the most sense of the three, although his storyline in “Far from Home” was hilarious. It’s one way to write teen love I guess. Although if I have one thing to say, it’s not a huge complaint, but it is something worth pointing out, something happens with Ned in this movie that is out of random chance. It was never something that was established that he could do, or something he learned. It just happened. I mean, if you watched the movie, they “teased” it a little, but kind of as a joke, nothing more. I guess foreshadowing is foreshadowing, even if it’s a throwaway joke.

Zendaya’s MJ is another character that to me evolved with time. In the first film, she felt overly snarky. In the second film, I got to know her a little better and I began to appreciate her as a character just a bit more. In this third film, we see her with Spider-Man from the start, and I think their chemistry has blossomed into something special. It is worth noting that all three live-action Spider-Men from Tobey Maguire to Andrew Garfield to Tom Holland all dated their character-based love interests at one point in real life. Maybe that’s why their chemistry all feels natural. There was a scene on a school rooftop, it’s in the trailer, that stood out to me as to why Holland and Zendaya work together. Although I was a bit surprised to see MJ reading a physical newspaper as opposed to some article on her phone. I dunno, just a stereotypical generational thing.

Doctor Strange is in this film as well, and judging by the trailers, his performance at first felt a little different from his previous outings in the MCU. Having seen the movie, and having remembered some of the other movies he’s been in, it actually feels somewhat consistent. Maybe it feels different because he’s communicating with teenagers, which may not be his forte. I may be making excuses, but I think if you’re an adult, you may have a way of communicating with teenagers in a slightly different tone than you would with your spouse or your boss. You know, unless your employer works at “LitDonald’s!” Keep it 100 with our Big Lit! Sauce me some of those yeet fries! Enjoy the LitRib for a limited time! Although when it comes to consistency, there is a one-liner out of Strange about birthday parties that feels wonderfully similar in tone to this exchange in “Infinity War.”

Dr. Stephen Strange: If we don’t do our jobs…

Tony Stark: What is your job, exactly, besides making balloon animals?

Dr. Stephen Strange: Protecting your reality, douchebag.

But of course, we need to talk about Tom Holland. Spider-Man stories have shown a balance between a hero struggling to maintain his friendships, his identity, while also trying to save the world. In the case of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” this balance is handled brilliantly. The film starts off right where the last one ended, and right off the bat we already see Spider-Man protecting what he has left of his identity, his love interest, and the people he knows. We already start off the movie with one of the worst possible things that could have happened to Peter Parker, and that’s just the beginning. We see him deal with controversy in school. Parker’s trying to find a lawyer. The people he loves are being hurt for reasons beyond their control. As we go through Spider-Man’s journey, the tragedy only builds up. And this is what makes Spider-Man a hero. When he goes to Doctor Strange to make everyone forget he’s Spider-Man, he’s not just looking out for himself, he’s looking out for the people around him. His friends, family, colleagues. There’s a subplot in the film where the trio are trying to get into college and that is only made harder through their connections to the battle in London.

I expected this film to be exciting. I expected this film to be fun. But part of me was not ready for how much emotion this movie packs. Now I figured there would be at least one emotional moment because it is the third film of a trilogy and that’s where certain ends are tied up for good and that sort of thing. This film has multiple powerful scenes and happenings that bring a balance between the expected excitement and the emotional weight. Tom Holland in this film honestly delivers one of the best performances of his career because of this. I don’t think he’ll be nominated for an Oscar, but by the end of the film, there’s a particular arc that is perfectly assembled and you don’t even need words for it. Just the expressions on his face alone make the scene perfect. You may know what I’m talking about when it comes around.

Although I do want to talk about one thing when it comes to the emotion. This is a spoiler-free review, so I will not go into detail. But the ending of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” despite its instant feeling of satisfaction, induction of a smile, and solid conclusiveness to certain characters, probably would have been made better if Peter did one thing to possibly prevent another thing from happening. If I did a spoiler review, I would expand on it. But again, I cannot. The point of me making this review is not to discuss every single plot point and detail. It is to convince my viewers as to whether they could make a formal decision on whether “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is worth seeing. I recommend you do, I think this is easily one of best “Spider-Man” films ever made. But I want my viewers to go into this film knowing as little as possible, but with enough details as to what I like, didn’t like, and maybe that will help them know whether or not this movie is for them. I would not instantly recommend this movie to my mom (although I would recommend Shang-Chi), but I do recommend a lot of you reading this should go check out “No Way Home” on the biggest screen you can.

I will also point out that this is Jon Watts’s third film in this trilogy, making him the first director to direct a complete trilogy in the MCU. Jon Favreau directed two installments for “Iron Man,” but Shane Black did the third. Joss Whedon did the first two “Avengers” films, but the next two ended up going to the Russo Brothers. When it comes to all three movies, they are solid. But the directing in these films do not really give him much of a chance to individualize himself. And as for this movie, I think Willem Dafoe’s face reveal, as exciting as it was, could have been handled slightly better. It was still exciting, but it was very quick. Although I think if you take into account the end of the film and the performances from just about everyone, this may be the best-directed film in the franchise. Everyone felt true to their characters and when came to Peter’s emotions, Watts likely knew exactly how to touch base with Tom Holland. I think after seeing this film, I am curious to see if there are any specific quirks Watts develops, but I nevertheless think he will do a good job with “Fantastic 4,” whenever that comes out.

One last thing before we move on, J.K. Simmons is back as J. Jonah Jameson. You saw the little snippet of him in the previous film, but now we have him here and the way they utilize him is perfect. For this modern era, his placement in the universe makes sense. He’s basically Alex Jones if he was trying to find a cure for his balding. After seeing this film, I am convinced that nobody else aside from J.K. Simmons can play J. Jonah Jameson. Debate over.

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

In the end, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is the best film in the Jon Watts trilogy. It’s a triumph for Tom Holland. It’s at the end of the day, a love letter to the character. My favorite “Spider-Man” movie is “Spider-Man 2,” and right below that would have to be this one. It’s that good. The movie has its flaws, but no movie’s perfect. I think the best part about “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is that it doesn’t just use all these previous characters and actors just for the sake of marketing. Granted, it definitely helps. But each villain had at minimum, the slightest of reason to be there. Even Sandman and Lizard. The first two “Spider-Man” films in the MCU happen to be about teenage Spider-Man dealing with teenage situations from crushes to school dances. This film, in my imagination, is literally Spider-Man attempting to push back a giant boulder of inconveniences and tragedies. And by the end of the film, I felt enough of its weight to make me care for everyone. If you like “Spider-Man,” you will love this movie. I don’t know if you will like it more depending on whether you have seen the other villains before, but that’s another debate for another time. Please check this film out, take your friends, take your family, take everyone. It’s best experienced with an audience, and there are some are some epic potential applause break moments depending on when and where you see this film. I’m going to give “Spider-Man: No Way Home” a 9/10.

To me, this kind of reminds me of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood…” because despite the glaring issues that such a movie has, I ended up giving it a 9/10. The reason for that is because those issues barely get in the way of all the other crazy sequences and crowd-pleasers of this film. The fan part of me wants to give a perfect score, but again, there’s some issues that keep that from happening. There’s the fan side of me and the critic side of me. Today, I have to be the critic. The film is an experience that I want erased from my memory in order to go back and witness again. For those reasons alone, I highly recommend you go watch this film in a theater. But reserve your tickets in advance, you’re gonna want the best seats.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! I want to let you guys know that I have more reviews coming up including one for “King Richard.” Stay tuned for that! 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 “Spider-Man: No Way Home?” What did you think about it? Or, which Jon Watts-directed “Spider-Man” movie is your favorite? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Chaos Walking (2021): The Noise Awakens

“Chaos Walking” is directed by Doug Liman and stars Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Onward), Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Peter Rabbit), Mads Mikkelsen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Hannibal), Demián Bichir (The Hateful Eight, A Better Life), Cynthia Erivo (Bad Times at the El Royale, Harriet), Nick Jonas (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Midway), and David Oyelowo (Gringo, Selma). This film follows a guy named Todd who lives in a dystopian future. In 2257 A.D., the men of New World go about their daily lives after an unfortunate war. One thing our protagonist, Todd, has in common with everyone else is that he has this thing called “noise,” where his thoughts are outspoken despite not opening his mouth. However, one day, a ship crashes on the planet and it peaks Todd’s curiosity. Turns out, the rider inside the ship is a girl, which Todd has never seen before, given how all of them died in the recently mentioned war.

I saw this film on the second weekend of March. Therefore, per usual, I am getting this review out late. That’s the bad news. The good news however that comes with it is that I likely have more time to process and think about what I saw, which I have done when it comes to this movie. With my previous review, “Raya and the Last Dragon” to be specific, I did not flip back and forth between much. The only thing I flipped around with was the score, which I was wondering whether I’d give it either a 8/10 or 9/10. I settled for the latter. I thought a little more about “Chaos Walking,” but not much more. Sure, I kind of flipped around on the score here as well, but that is not the only slice of this pie we have here. The big question I thought about was if I was actually going to see myself watching this movie again. The short answer would be… Maybe? But not now? I dunno… The thing is, when it comes to the young adult novel adaptation realm of filmmaking, I usually watch those movies once and I normally don’t have an urge to go back to them. Yes, I’ll buy the Blu-ray, but it ultimately may just end up sitting on my shelf. I like the “Divergent” movies, in fact I personally think it is better than “The Hunger Games” as a franchise, but I don’t usually watch those movies while sitting at home on a Friday night. I am somewhat mixed on “Chaos Walking” as a movie, because using the recent example, “Divergent,” I find “Chaos Walking” to be more entertaining at times than “Divergent,” specifically the first installment. I interestingly enough find “Insurgent” to be a better movie. If anything, I find “Chaos Walking” to be more entertaining than “Divergent” because “Chaos Walking,” whether it is intentional or not, comes off as somewhat funnier and maybe has a little more fun with its concept. In fact, I think the concept is slightly better, because I think it is a little more cliche to do the whole “divide people into groups” and boom, we have our movie idea. This movie eliminates an entire gender and as a viewer, I am somewhat intrigued to see how the survivors are going about their days.

At the same time though, similar to some other young adult novel adaptations, this film does get borderline cheesy. Sometimes it provides for a fun line, which is cool. But if you are looking for a Shakespearean, timeless flick with some of the best writing and directing imaginable, go elsewhere. Going back to the movie I recently mentioned, “Chaos Walking” came out the same weekend as “Raya and the Last Dragon.” That is a much better film in my opinion, so if I had to pick between two films to watch, the choice would easily be “Raya” by a long shot.

Moving onto characters, I want to talk about the chemistry between Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley. On their own, these two are great actors. I loved Holland as Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and I adored Rey in “Star Wars,” so to see these two nerd icons come together in one movie is almost magical. As for their characters I bought into them as a pair as they sometimes found each other odd, sometimes they found each other likable, and so on. Going back to what I said about this movie having fun lines, there are a couple character establishment moments between these two that are personal highlights of the script. One other highlight of the script for me is that like every other young adult novel or every other young adult adaptation, the guy or girl has to crush on the other person or fall in love with them. I will not go into much detail on that, but this film almost felt like it was parodying that cliché at times, and I mean that in a positive way. There are moments where we see Tom Holland’s character specifically either thinking about kissing her, which was hysterical, and maybe there will be another scene in the film where we simply see that he finds her attractive. That may have been the best part of the movie because it takes a cliché, has fun with it, and makes it a kneeslapper.

I also want to talk about the driving gimmick of the film, “the noise.” When I saw the trailer for this film, I thought I was going to hate every single second that this, well, noise, was going to be emitted. It sounded awfully rugged, and it kind of goes against the screenwriting rule where you have to use as little words as possible to get points across because film is a visual medium. Yes, there is writing in it, but ultimately it is a matter of what you see. Seeing someone doing something is usually more entertaining and calming than hearing someone saying they are going to do something. And I will admit, when I heard this early on in the film, I was kind of pissed on how it played out. I figured if they were just going to utilize this thing for a poop joke, which more likely belongs in a disposable Illumination or DreamWorks project if anything, I figured this film was not going to be worth my time. But the gimmick was surprisingly well utilized to a certain degree. It does not change the fact that when it comes to most movies, less is more, but “Chaos Walking” is a weird animal where more is more when it comes to screenwriting.

In the end, “Chaos Walking” is just weird. I like the movie, but I cannot confirm that I’m ever going to watch it again. When comparing it to other young adult genre entries, I’d rather watch the first two “Divergent” films again. “Noise” is a terrible gimmick on paper, but an okay one when ultimately executed on screen. This film is cheesy, but weirdly attractive at the same time. This is a film that took years to make, and it honestly shows. A lot of the lines are borderline wooden and it almost feels like the only reason why this movie exists at this point is for the studio to poop it out in a pandemic where it is almost impossible for some people to go to the movies. “Chaos Walking” is a good movie, but not a great movie, so I’m going to give it a 6/10.

“Chaos Walking” is now available in theaters wherever they are open and the film is also now available to buy on video on demand services such as Fios, Xfinity, Google Play, and VUDU.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for “Mortal Kombat” as part of a review series I am calling “Mortal Kombat: Finish the Reviews,” which I am doing as a lead-in to the all new R-rated “Mortal Kombat” movie which is out in theaters and on HBO Max on April 23rd. I will also have my review up for “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” available starting April 12th. I should also soon have reviews for “Boogie,” “Nobody,” and “Godzilla vs. Kong.” To stay tuned for these reviews, follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account and check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Chaos Walking?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite 2021 film so far? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Onward (2020): Peter Parker and Peter Quill Cast Spells

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“Onward” is directed by Dan Scanlon and stars Tom Holland (Captain America: Civil War, Spies In Disguise) alongside Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World) as two brothers. These two brothers live together in a magical realm, or more specifically, a magical realm that has increasingly evolved over the years due to advances in convenience and technology. Now that both brothers are of appropriate age, they are able to execute a magical spell that can help them bring back their father for one day. When they are only able to bring part of their father back to reality, the two brothers go on a quest together to figure out how they can get the rest of him back.

First and foremost. It’s good to be back. While we are not back to normal yet, and yes, NORMAL, I’m tired of whatever the “new normal” is supposed to be! It is still nice to talk about a movie that has come out this year without as much distraction towards the greater pain of reality. “Onward” was one of the last movies I saw in a theater before everything ground to a halt. The film started off with a somewhat underwhelming box office performance, perhaps likely due to COVID-19 taking effect, but I did see it opening weekend, so I feel glad to be one of the chosen people. While there were other movies I was looking forward to this year more, many of which I won’t get to see for awhile, “Onward” was definitely one that had my attention. For starters, it’s a Pixar movie. And Pixar, kind of like Marvel Studios or A24, is one of those distributors that always delivers a midas touch. Heck, I even like all the “Cars” movies! I’ll go as far to say that I really enjoyed “Cars 2!” If you want action, that’s a Pixar movie I’d recommend. So even though “Onward” was not my most anticipated film of 2020, it was one that I thought would be at the very least, solid. And that’s what it was. A solid movie. As much as I make fun of Disney for their business practices, which work for them even though I don’t fully support them, I will forever love Pixar, which might be the mega-corporation’s greatest asset in terms of quality. Over the years, a lot of their films have been well-written, conceptually creative, and of course, beautifully animated. Especially over recent years, even if one of their films was never in my top 5 from them, I would not deny the amount of work that must have been put into those films to make them family-friendly, while also trying to keep not just kids, but adults interested. Even though I was, and I hate to say it, disappointed, with their late 2017 film, “Coco,” it is some of the studio’s finer work in terms of color and animation detail. Even though “Toy Story 4” is probably the worst movie in the series, there is a shot of a cat in that movie that looked like something out of real life. For the record, I saw “Cats” later in the year that “Toy Story 4” came out and none of the cats from “Cats” hold a candle to that digitally animated feline! That’s how much I appreciate Pixar as a studio.

Once again, Pixar does not let me down from an animation standpoint. Everything fits its respective environment, it’s crisp, and the attention to detail is spot on. I saw this film in IMAX and the animated shots of this movie shine on the big screen. I cannot say that it is Pixar’s best technical work, but it is absolutely superb nevertheless. The film is now on Disney+, and I imagine that the film does look pretty good on Disney+, but since movie theaters are starting to reopen, if “Onward” is playing near you, take the opportunity to see it! Because even if the movie is not that great for you story-wise I imagine it will still be fun to look at. It is a film, kind of like recent Pixar entries, that I see holding up for years if you want a tech demo.

As for the screenplay, I think it is at times predictable, but that is also what makes it work in certain moments to deliver a satisfying story. There is conflict in just about every single moment, there’s a good amount of setup and payoff that is done effectively. The playaround and mashup between this fantastical, dungeons and dragons-like sort of environment and our modern lives is undoubtedly entertaining and creative. It makes for some fun scenes and ideas. In a way, it almost reminded me of Disney’s “Zootopia” which came out four years ago. That’s a really good movie by the way! Because that movie took a bunch of talking animals, put them in a world like ours, and while that film more or less was a satire on modern society, it was cool to see a blend of fantasy and reality put together to deliver a fun time.

As for Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, I think both characters are well-written, but when it comes to casting. That is where things begin to become questionable. Now, I will say, Tom Holland as the younger brother is definitely worth keeping. But when it comes to Chris Pratt, I like him as an actor, but I feel like he’s more closer to a father figure than an older brother in this film. That’s just the first impression I got from him. After all in real life, Tom Holland is 23 right now. As for Chris Pratt, he’s 40! Now I know you can get away with a lot more in animation in terms of details, actions, voices, personalities, but hearing Chris Pratt’s voice attached to someone perhaps close to my age is a little bit weird. I’m not saying it’s off-putting, it’s just weird. Both characters are great, serve the movie well, and have likable chemistry, but I just don’t think Chris Pratt was the right choice for the character of Barley Lightfoot. Nothing against him, I respect Pratt as an actor, he’s got decent talent, but I think he was a little bit miscast.

As for Tom Holland, I think his casting was perfect. He plays a teenage boy, and I am willing to bet that due to his marvelous (no pun intended) performance as Peter Parker, that there may be some worries down the road that he may be typecast. Because Holland’s still in his early twenties, and he has tons of charisma that can convince somebody he’s likely able to play an older teen for a while. But nevertheless, when it comes to this animated role, his voice completely fits the character. It’s in this tone that is almost in what I would call a “downer” mood, I just made that up on the spot! I don’t even know what I’d call it! But Holland’s pitch matches his lanky character to a high degree. I will also give props to Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Seinfeld, Veep) and Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, Ma) who also stood out for their fine performances, plus the solid casting on someone else’s part.

Funny thing is, going back to Pixar’s quality, I will admit that I have not checked out all their films yet. I own “The Good Dinosaur,” but I have yet to watch it. I also still need sit through “Monsters University” and “Brave.” When I was at university this semester, I had a screenwriting professor who saw “Onward” and he pointed out that when it comes to Pixar, it’s one of their inferior movies. He also went on to suggest that bad Pixar is better than a lot of movies. He’s got a point. From an animation standpoint, “Onward” is pristine. Story-wise, everything adds up, makes sense from beginning to end. Compared to some other notable animations or family movies that completely rely on immature fart jokes, “Onward” just tries to tell a needed story from beginning to end, which is usually what I go to movies for. And yes, the occasional visual spectacle of “Onward” is a much-desired and satisfying cherry on top of the sundae, but story must come first, which Pixar typically succeeds with, even in cases like this when it is not their finest work. Pixar was supposed to come out with another movie in June, specifically by the name of “Soul,” but that unfortunately has been delayed. Much like “Onward,” “Soul” is an idea that has not been tested out before by the studio. Going into these movies, I am always looking forward to where Pixar takes their characters and its creative concepts. When “Soul” comes out later this year, I will continue to anticipate attention to detail, but at the center, a dang good story.

In the end, “Onward” is a fun ride from start to finish. It is a movie that you can watch with your kids without really feeling the need to tune much of anything out. Pixar’s always had that intention and plan of execution in mind. I remember the first time I saw “Up” in the theater, and years later, my dad and I still remember the movie, and if I’m not mistaken, he’d probably watch it again if it were in front of him. Would I watch “Onward” again? Probably. Maybe not right away, but I can see the effort put into this film and that is something I totally respect. I’m going to give “Onward” a 7/10. Fun fact, a 7/10 is honestly a low score for the Pixar brand given their resume. So even though this is one of, and as weird as it is to say, Pixar’s worst movies, I think it is still worth your time. I’d probably rather watch this again than “Coco,” which, was good! But I expected a lot more from it. Maybe one of the downsides of that film is waiting until 2019 to watch this, whereas I watched “Onward” right away. But I could be sticking my feet into hazardous mud here.

Thanks for reading this review! Once again, it’s finally nice to talk about something that is not specifically about COVID-19! I wish I could do this more often. I don’t know if I’ll be doing a part 8 next week to my Movies and COVID-19: Behind the Scenes series, but I’ll have to find out what I’m doing, what kind of mood I’m in, and so on. But if I were to review a new movie, my next one is likely going to be for “The Way Back” starring Ben Affleck. I will say, given how it has been a couple months since I’ve seen that movie, I wonder how much of a challenge it’ll be for me to talk about the film in detail, but that question shall be answered as we cross that bridge. Maybe I’ll rent the movie if I need to watch it again, but I also don’t to waste $5 or $6 for the sake of wasting $5 or $6. These reviews typically regard my first impressions, and I had little intention on changing anything in regards to how I do my blog, but this pandemic did it for me. It took some control away from how I operate everything I do at Scene Before. Or, maybe I’ll soon do my review for “My Spy” which is about to debut on Prime Video. I am officially one of the few that has ever seen “My Spy” in a theater, which I feel pretty lucky for doing. But as of recently, the film changed plans, and instead of getting STX to release it in theaters, the plan is to get the film on Prime Video as an exclusive. Given how very few, if any, sources in the U.S. have even talked about or reviewed the film at this point, it might be necessary to hold that review off for a little bit longer. It’s a truth that is difficult to handle at this point, but what isn’t difficult to handle during a pandemic? If you want to see more great content from Scene Before, give the blog a follow either through an email or WordPress account! Like this post, share it with your friends, show some appreciation for the Movie Reviewing Moron! Also, instead of scrolling across some clickbait articles with misleading information about COVID-19, check out the Scene Before Facebook page and give it a like! I want to know, did you see “Onward?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your LEAST favorite Pixar movie? Why? Would you still consider it to be “enjoyable?” Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Dolittle (2020): Why, Downey? Why?

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“Dolittle” is directed by Stephen Gaghan (Gold, Syriana) and stars Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man, Chaplin), Antonio Banderas (Interview with the Vampire, Shrek 2), Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon, Masters of Sex), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks, Late Night), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody, Night at the Museum), John Cena (Trainwreck, Playing with Fire), Kumail Nanjiani (Men in Black: International, Silicon Valley), Octavia Spencer (Gifted, Hidden Figures), Tom Holland (Spies in Disguise, Captain America: Civil War), Craig Robinson (Last Comic Standing, Knocked Up), Ralph Fiennes (The LEGO Batman Movie, Skyfall), Selena Gomez (Monte Carlo, Wizards of Waverly Place), and Marion Cotillard (Allied, Inception).

This film is the latest reboot to the “Doctor Dolittle” intellectual property. This time around, Robert Downey Jr. plays the man who can talk to animals and it follows him in a story where a Queen is dying and the only way to save her is to go on a journey to find a healing tree. On said journey, he is joined by his fellow animal friends and a new human apprentice (Harry Collett).

I have no memory of watching any previous material from the “Doctor Dolittle” franchise from beginning to end, so this was sort of my introduction to this world on film. Granted, I knew about about the character, I knew the whole thing about how the character can talk to animals and said animals do not spend too little time making a presence for themselves. I had the basics down, but for this movie, I was getting a new experience, one I never really had before.

But just because my experience was new, does not mean it was enjoyable. If “Cats” made me never want to ever interact with a feline ever again, then “Dolittle” has officially destroyed any chance I previously had of wanting to so much as think about any animal in existence. Thankfully, unlike “Cats,” which I praised for the CGI *at times*, the effects in “Dolittle” are a lot less unsettling, and a bit more satisfying to look at. But if Robert Downey Jr. is going to continue doing films like this after throwing in the towel with the MCU, movie audiences everywhere are in for a world of pain.

Granted, I will say, one of the interesting things about this film is that Robert Downey Jr.’s wife, Susan Downey, is a producer on the film. Plus, the two have kids, and it was just revealed on a clip of “Today” that this was the first premiere that they were taken to. After all, unlike most of the movies that Downey Jr. has done recently, which have been PG-13, “Dolittle” is PG. If “Dolittle” was a chance for two related people to work together, it may sound sweet, but quality should ALWAYS come first. This is why I get worried whenever Melissa McCarthy and her husband, Ben Falcone, are doing a project together, because statistically speaking, they are not usually that well-received. Granted, maybe I am getting a little bit more apprehensive than I really should because the Downey team are also working on a film together to be directed by Richard Linklater, who also directed “Boyhood,” which even though I have not seen the film itself, I know enough about it to realize how innovative and groundbreaking of a film it really is.

As for Robert Downey Jr.’s performance, I could tell that maybe there was some effort put into it, but holy mackerel, that accent sounds like crap! It almost sounds as if Downey was doing a really bad impression of Bilbo Baggins from “The Hobbit!” It’s overemphasizing in how bold it is supposed to come off and unfortunately, it makes me think Robert Downey Jr. at one point must have gotten acting lessons from a ship-sailing pirate.

Speaking of Robert Downey Jr., there is a point in this movie where he says a line where he basically invaded my mind and snatched an idea out of it. Now I know this is a kids movie, I know it is a family movie, some people will tend to say that these types of movies can get away with a few things here and there, cause ya know, kids just want to be entertained. I think that is a cop out of an excuse for a least a good portion of how many times such a thought is uttered. But what I find hilarious about this movie’s script is that there is a point where a bunch of characters are in a room together and Dolittle is basically providing a blueprint of his plan to save the Queen, and there is a point where he has to point out how preposterous his plan sounds.

Shut up, movie. Shut up.

The CGI in this film is not half bad, but that’s something I’d come to expect at this point, I’m willing to bet that maybe if this came out in the past decade or maybe sometime prior to say 2016’s “The Jungle Book,” this could be like another “Avatar.” Granted, if it came out in 2009, which is when “Avatar” came out, it probably would be just another movie, but this feels like a movie that would have probably worked as an experiential technological achievement from the 2000s, but since it came out in 2020, it needed something more.

I do not want to provide too many spoilers for this film, for one thing it just came out, and I imagine there are some people, not everybody, but some, who may have sort of a nostalgic attachment to the “Doctor Dolittle” IP. Out of respect for those people, this review is as spoiler-free as I could possibly make it. With that being said, the climax of this movie delivers one of the most infuriatingly off-putting gags ever put in a kids movie. There is a scene that I imagine young kids will probably get a kick out of, but I thought was the dumbest thing on the face of the earth. It involves farting. That is all I will say. Oh, and speaking of which, the humor in this film is as stale as whatever the latest pop song that always plays radio happens to be! Not all the jokes stood out, but when a joke did, it made me hate my life and everything in it. I am a bit young to have kids, but if I ever did have kids, this movie would probably be banned from movie night. If a find a DVD copy of this thing in the house, chances are I’m going to throw it through the window and break the glass. Any movie that has a scene containing a barely understandable human being playing chess with a gorilla who shows his ass as a way of insulting his opponent is officially on my eradication list.

Ironically, there is a song at the end of the film by Sia. I do not have all that much to say about the song itself, but apparently, in this attempt to recreate “Doctor Dolittle,” the song that plays is called “Original.” This world is becoming increasingly dumber, and there needs to be a cure for this combined dumbassery.

In the end, “Dolittle” just… did little to leave me happy. Will kids like it? Probably if they’re under maybe 10 years old. But I don’t think that this will be a film that families will go to and endlessly remember and quote for the rest of their lives. If anything, this is going to be a film that kids will watch, enjoy, and either move onto the next thing or continue watching until they grow out of it. “Dolittle” as a whole is just boring, formulaic, and none of the iconic names in the cast can save this mess! Robert Downey Jr. in this movie may not be a people person, but now after coming out of “Dolittle,” I have reevaluate my respect for the art of film and ask myself whether or not I am a movie person at this point. I am going to give “Dolittle” a 2/10. Now while I don’t see Universal Pictures dying a horrible death these next few months or anything, this is not the best of times for them. They just did “Cats,” which was awful, and apparently this is one of their next big releases! As one who enjoys Universal’s movies, I wish them luck during this dire time.

Thanks for reading this review! I just want everyone to know that my next review is going to be for Guy Ritchie’s “The Gentlemen,” which I just saw at an advance screening aaaaaaannnnnd… There’s too much to talk about. I’ll save my thoughts for the review. That’s all I’ll say. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! If you want to leave a like or comment, make sure you have the proper account credentials, and speaking of liking, why not hop over to my Facebook page and give that a like too? I don’t see any reason not to! I want to know, did you see “Dolittle?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite “Doctor Dolittle” movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Spies In Disguise (2019): #TeamWeird

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“Spies In Disguise” is directed by Nick Bruno and Troy Quane, stars Will Smith (Men in Black, Suicide Squad) alongside Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Lost City of Z), and this is the latest animated feature from Blue Sky, the creators of films including “Rio,” “Epic,” and “Ice Age.” This film follows the adventures of showoff spy Lance Sterling (Smith) as he eventually runs into the quirky and hyperactive Walter Beckett (Holland). When the two first meet, their chemistry does not quite match, causing a bit of a ruckus between them. Speaking of things that cause a ruckus, the film involves Sterling’s accidental transformation and adaptation to the life of a pigeon. Meanwhile, Sterling is also in a situation where he has been framed.

Before we go any further, I do want to remind you all that this is my final film review of 2019, and what a better way to end than by touching upon a movie where Agent Jay and Spider-Man collide, amirite? Now, while this was not a film I was planning on seeing instantaneously, I recall seeing a trailer or two for this film in the theater earlier this year. During that time, my curiosity meter increased. But as I went in, part of me was still skeptical as to how this could turn out. As much as I have enjoyed a good portion of Blue Sky’s work, I was worried that this movie could end up being a little more disposable than I’d like. And in some ways, I guess it is. It relies a bit on gross and toilet humor, there’s even a scene that I probably want removed from my memory as soon as possible.

I have to ask all of you, what is the most disturbing sight you’ve witnessed in a kids movie? Because while I cannot confirm what mine would be at this point. I would probably need to think about it, but there’s a scene that I am truthfully surprised this movie was somehow able to get away with. There is a brief clip where we get a look at this chubby naked dude and it shows pretty much the entire backside of his body, including his magnificent ass. Seriously, watch the movie, it’s actually pretty spectacular.

MOVE OVER, CAPTAIN AMERICA! THERE’S A NEW PLAYER IN TOWN!

And the film is kinda sorta what a parent would want when they need to waste an afternoon with their kid. It’s fun, but also kind of unmemorable. You’re not really getting the quality that you would come to expect from say your typical Pixar fare nowadays. It’s a film that is sort of cliche, sort of been there done that, not to mention done better, but it his a few elements here and there that still make it a fun time at the movies.

I also have to say, when it comes to Will Smith’s character, I’d say he was very well portrayed given the writing and overall style of the film. After all, it is an animated film, which does allow for, not to mention celebrate, enhanced hyperactivity. Lance Sterling is essentially the result of what would happen if Michael Bay were black and fought crime. He often tends to reveal personal enthusiasm or excitement towards explosions, violence, flying through helicopters in ways that don’t really make any logical sense, and whatever other way he can show himself off. The movie’s second scene does a really good job at showing Smith’s character in all of his glory. He’s basically what would happen if Po from “Kung Fu Panda” became a spy. I say that because Po often displays a sense of enthusiasm from his particular martial art, and while spying is not kung fu, Po would probably take various elements from his passion, which seems to be fighting for good, hold onto them, and continue to express himself as the “most awesome” fighter ever. In fact, to put two and two together, Lance Sterling is referred to as “the most awesome spy.”

To add onto this supposed awesomeness, Sterling in this film is displayed as kind of a narcissist. Even though he is often responsible for people’s lives and has to save the day, he thinks that he is a step above those around him just because he’s, well, him. We see a scene where he’s given a marathon of compliments in a giant lobby, and if he were invited to a party of spies, he’d be a hit based on what I can assume from that short moment. I will say though, and this is my opinion, this narcissism of Sterling’s, while definitely a defining character trait, also kind of made him somewhat of an asshole, most notably during the beginning portions of the picture.

As much as I like Will Smith, I also have a soft spot for Tom Holland, considering he has one of the best interpretations of a comic book-based character of all time. He stars in this film alongside Smith as a young, millennial, aspiring inventor and scientist who went to MIT in his younger teen years. In fact, when we first see him, in a scene that almost felt like it was ripped out of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” he shows off this invention that sort of reveals his personality. This makes him almost a polar opposite of Smith’s character once they team up, because Smith lives for violence, whereas Holland is almost kind of a pacifist. Much of his character’s traits revolve around him being happy or optimistic or peace-loving. I think the mismatched chemistry was a good idea and helps build a lesson for younger viewers, specifically the notion that sometimes problems can be solved without anger or destruction.

I mentioned one problem I had with the film early on in the review, specifically how it does something that I almost wonder how it got in the film in the first place. Maybe it’s not as graphic as I thought, it’s just something that I do not usually expect to see in an animation like this. However, this movie is not afraid to let in a swear. Seriously! There is a moment where Lance Sterling is in a sticky situation and the moment basically called for a joke where he drops a bomb. For those of you who are possibly parents who want to protect your kid, don’t worry, it’s censored! I’d also say the film is still predictable and kind of standard as far as modern animations go, but it still manages to handle itself quite well in the process.

In the end, if you have kids, I think this might be a fine afternoon outing of some sort. If you want to go see a movie for matinee price, I’d recommend this. Maybe if you have A-List, it would be a slightly higher recommendation. Maybe you should wait until it becomes available on DVD, maybe go see “Star Wars” for the second or third time. But just to remind you, Disney wins either way. After all, this is a Fox movie.

And we all know the fate of that company…

Anyway, I don’t think I’ll ever rewatch “Spies in Disguise,” at least not in the near future. It’s by no means a bad movie, but it is one that I am almost surprised I have not forgotten by now. I have a feeling if I were a general audience member, maybe I’d forget about it at this point, maybe fairly soon. But like most of the movies I have seen this year, the positives tend to outweigh the negatives. It’s not Shakespeare, but it’s a good time. I’m going to give “Spies in Disguise” a 6/10.

Thanks for reading this review, 2019 is finally over and I have had one heck of a year. I will be kicking off 2020 in style, because tomorrow is the release of my top 10 BEST movies of 2019. Speaking of which, the day afterwards, I will be following this up by revealing my top 10 WORST movies of 2019. I’m not going to give much hints as to what will be on those lists, but I am excited to continue my annual countdown tradition, and I hope you enjoy the content! Speaking of content, if you want to receive the latest updates from Scene Before, follow the blog either with a WordPress account or email! And speaking of stalking my daily life, go on over to my Facebook page and give it a like! It really helps me out! I want to know, did you see “Spies in Disguise?” What did you think about it? Or, since this is my final review of the year, what is your favorite and/or least favorite movie of 2019? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Spider-Man Is BACK IN THE MCU!

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! So next week, I’ve been thinking about seeing “Joker,” the latest of the neverending trend that we like to call “comic book movies.” And I’ll tell you, the movie looks pretty freakin–WAIT A MINUTE! HOLD THE PHONE! SPIDER-MAN JUST RETURNED TO THE MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE!

This information, to me, came completely out of the blue. I was just enjoying my Friday off from school, summing up my thoughts on the latest movie I’ve gone out to see, when all of a sudden, I’m on social media, and a Variety article comes up with a headline that at this point looks too good to be true. Once I saw the headline “Spider-Man Will Stay in the Marvel Cinematic Universe,” there was only one thing to do.

DO SOME CARTWHEELS AND ALERT THE FREAKING MASSES!

I try to maintain a level of professionalism on this website. There are definitely signs that may suggest otherwise, but that’s because I want my blog to be fun, not boring, not unoriginal. I want everything to stand out. So with that in mind, THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS I’VE HEARD IN MY LIFE! HELL TO THE FREAKING YEAH! BOOM!

Now, let me just say, Spider-Man is my favorite superhero of all time, and if you have not been following my favorite superhero of all time in the news recently, you’d know that Disney and Sony had a little scrap. For some years now, Sony had the ability to spend money on a new Spider-Man movie, but Marvel Studios (owned by Disney) helps out in making those movies come to life and in return, their side gets a portion of the money, all of the merchandising rights, and a couple of chances to show Spider-Man off in other movies they happen to be making. Sony also gets the chances to retain rights to solo Spider-Man filmmaking as they have already come out with films like “Venom” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” But this was recently interrupted because Disney asked Sony for greater permission on the content, but Sony said no.

The original deal had Sony making 95% of the box office totals on films that would eventually be known as “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” This means for those movies, Disney would gain 5% of the box office. After the exciting news of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” becoming Sony’s highest grossing movie ever, it was a great sign that the deal seemed to have worked out. Both Disney and Sony are making money on Marvel Studios films, Disney is getting merch money, and Sony gets to make money on their own “Spider-Man” films outside the MCU. But Disney asked for Sony to co-finance and split profits on upcoming “Spider-Man” films. Sony wasn’t satisfied with Disney’s new proposal, so they were no longer involved with the MCU. But, a “Spider-Man 3” was still planned. So they were going to make the movie on their own, without Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige’s involvement, which seemed kind of difficult because if you ask me, Spider-Man currently represents an enormous part of the MCU’s current storyline. With several main characters we currently know having disappeared, Spider-Man may be the next crucial main character for Marvel’s phase 4 and on. He was taken under the wing of Tony Stark, he tried to make him proud from time to time, and now he is trying let Stark’s legacy live on. This separation would have been bad because Sony probably couldn’t use any of Marvel Studios’ other properties or characters if they needed to, and future Marvel Studios films would probably have to come up with some lame or cheesy excuse as to why Spider-Man is not with the Avengers.

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Did he have too much homework?

Is he busy with The Daily Bugle?

Did he not feel so good? I mean, come on!

Nevertheless, as of Friday, Sony and Disney have reunited with new terms that may seem to work out for both of them. And that was one thing that I personally was worried about, because as much as I want Spider-Man in the MCU, I understand why Sony left, and I would have rather had Sony leave the way they did as opposed to having them go along with the 50/50 terms because that means they lose control, or at least partial control of their biggest property, and let’s face it, if this were a game of Film Studio Monopoly, Disney would be winning. They own Boardwalk (most of Marvel), they own Park Place (Lucasfilm), there are hotels on both properties, and you might as well say that they own Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Pacific Avenues, all of which represents the remains of 21st Century Fox, and they are starting to build on those properties as we speak. If Sony were playing this game, they’d be better off landing on the go to jail spot over and over again. I’m not saying they are in danger of going out of business, but still. Luckily, things are being kept in check, because while the deal is no longer a 95/5% difference between sides, it is now 75/25%, with Sony gaining most of the profits. And while this may seem like a significant increase right now for Disney, it may be worth it in the end. Because Sony is still putting some of their eggs into the basket of their own Spidey content, including “Venom 2” which is currently in development.

Despite how much I may point out how Disney is making “too much money,” there’s not much wrong here with Disney wanting more money for these “Spider-Man” films. They’ve done their part when it comes to inserting soul into the character. But I think this deal should probably not go much higher, because Sony is the one distributing the film, and they are the ones paying for it to be made. I personally think 25% is the highest that I would be OK with Disney earning for these movies. Because if they are allowed to earn anything greater, then they might as well be snatching “Spider-Man” from Sony. Yes, Disney technically owns Marvel, but Sony is also in a position where Spider-Man movies are “their thing” and will probably end up being their greatest asset for the time being. It would be like Universal giving up “Fast & Furious” or Paramount giving up “Mission: Impossible” or STX Entertainment giving up “Bad Moms.”

I should also point out that in addition to this whole reunion, the spreading of joy and good news across the movie fandom, Sony put out a post recently of a little announcement that I think you all might enjoy.

One word. Hype.

I honestly almost couldn’t be happier because while Disney is still increasing their control on Spidey, it’s not like they’re hogging the entire plate. Sony gets to keep the rights, and Marvel Studios gets to keep Spider-Man in the MCU. And even if it is just for one more movie, it would help me as an audience member in getting some closure after the AMAZING mid-credits scene of “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” What mood am I in right now? Well, look down below!

I feel like dancin’ like I just don’t care! Booyah!

Thanks for reading this post! I just want to remind everyone that “Joker” comes out next weekend. Now, I want to go see it next weekend. I have time to go see it next weekend. But chances are, I’m not going to. I will say though, I do have tickets booked for the second weekend! I’m going to see “Joker” on Friday, October 11th in 70mm! Hopefully I can get a review up by the end of Columbus Day if I go see it then for the first time, or Indigenous Peoples’ Day depending on your preference, I cannot wait to check it out! As for this next weekend, I am not sure what’s going on. Maybe I’ll watch “The Fanatic,” the new John Travolta movie that just came out, because I kind of want to talk about it. It just seems like it would make for good material, so we’ll see what happens. Be sure to follow Scene Before with a WordPress account if you want to see new posts in your WordPress feed, or if you just want to subscribe with an email, you will be notified of new posts immediately through email. Stay tuned for more great content, and check out my Facebook page! I want to know, what are your thoughts on the latest news regarding Sony, Disney, Marvel, and Spider-Man? Are you happy to see him back in the MCU? Do you think a better deal could have been made? Or are you disappointed? Did you want to see what Sony could have done with Spider-Man without Marvel Studios? Leave your thoughts and opinions down below and I’m not sure about you guys, but bring on “Spider-Man 3!” I want it now! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

“This is terrific, Peter Parker’s story took a dramatic turn in ‘Far From Home’ and I could not be happier we will all be working together as we see where his journey goes.” -Amy Pascal (Producer, SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING and SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME)

Spider-Man Out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe?!

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Sony? Disney? I don’t feel so good.

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! This past Tuesday has been one of the most peculiar days of my life. I scraped my knee pretty bad and I broke my bed. But that might not even be the biggest piece of news that I have to share with you all, because this past Tuesday I have heard that Spider-Man, my favorite superhero of all time, is leaving the hands of Disney! Now when I say that, I mean whatever hands of Disney it has, because if you are not familiar with what’s going on, a few years back, Sony (who owns rights to make Spider-Man movies) negotiated a deal with Disney to put Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. At the same time, Sony would still be allowed to produce and distribute their own “Spider-Man” films with the same iteration of the character in the MCU. So far, they have come out with “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” both of which were critically and financially successful.

This deal was working very well for both sides. Disney would get some of the money made for the Sony-owned “Spider-Man” films, specifically 5%. Spider-Man would also be included in various Disney projects including “Captain America: Civil War,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” and “Avengers: Endgame.” Much like the recently mentioned “Spider-Man” movies, those Disney projects also received positive reviews and each one went on to gross over $1 billion, with two of them reaching past $2 billion. Disney and Marvel also had 100% of the merchandising rights to the character. This means, Sony is making money through making “Spider-Man” movies, along with titles such as “Venom” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and Disney is getting some or all of the money depending on the occasion from live-action movies with Tom Holland as the webhead. Plus, Disney is getting money from toys, clothes, etc.

In fact, Sony just hit a nifty little achievement from receiving their all-time highest grossing film, “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” which grossed $1.109 billion, beating out 2012’s “Skyfall.” Sony’s making money! Disney’s making money! Everyone’s making money! And since it makes the world go round, it should not be surprising that money is the reason why Sony and Disney are separating! Sony has decided to back Spidey out of the hands of producer Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios! Why? Disney’s side wanted a raise!

Now let me just say, if they went to Sony and asked them for 10% of the money earned on the next “Spider-Man” film, maybe 20% or 25%. That would be a different story. But Disney, otherwise known as the box office kings of 2019, said “MORE! We want more!” And wanting more is not a bad thing. But ten times more? This is easily comparable to Spongebob asking Mr. Krabs for a raise because he has recently shown to be doing such quality work for him. Of course, being the krabby snob he is, he’d probably say no. But if Krabs were a gentleman, he would definitely raise Spongebob’s pay just a little bit. I’m fine with Disney getting a little more because financially speaking, this situation has been working out for both sides to the point where they can both give themselves a pat on the back. But the fact that Disney literally wants half of the box office intake for the next “Spider-Man” film reveals their true colors to me. Let’s face it, all movies, in some way, are made for the purpose of profit, but Disney is a different animal when it comes to this. They recently remade one of their most popular films, “The Lion King,” an animated classic which I happen to adore. But the new one is exactly the same as the original! It has little to no differences, and whatever differences do exist don’t seem to stand out. And let me just remind you, it has the same formula as “Hamlet” and “Kimba the White Lion.” Let me just remind you all, it is now in the top 10 films in terms of box office of all time. That happened. Granted, I also feel bad for Disney because as much as I *HATE* them for buying Fox, they have to deal with a slew of several finished films that will barely see the light of day. Plus, they laid off tons of employees and shut down Fox 2000. Although at the same time, they made “Avengers: Endgame,” which is now the Mount Everest of box office champions so there is a hint of achievement in sprinkled somewhere.

Is Disney doing this because of the recent failures of Fox? I have no idea, but based on their recent achievements, I don’t know if it is necessary. I understand the desire to go bigger, be bolder, but with Disney, they already have such a stronghold on the film industry to the point where I feel the need to remind them that they need to calm down. This is one reason why I get Sony backed out of the deal. “Spider-Man” is their highest-grossing property. And for Disney to come in and ask, “Hey, you know that ‘Spidey’ thing, can we take half the money?” It is the literal definition of unexpected and it makes them look like a giant s*ithead of a jerk. As a kid, one important lesson some people are taught is that “sharing is caring.” Both companies have hands in about a half of the deal. Why does one want the high ground?

Wait…

Image result for i have the high ground gif

This is Disney right now. I don’t know if they intentionally want to dismantle or destroy Sony, but the only way that I could see a deal like this working is if not only both companies earn 50/50 on box office, but they put 50/50 into the budget. But as far as I know, Sony is the one spending money on the film to begin with. I don’t want to point any fingers, but if I had to make an assumption, I am pretty sure this one could be on the money.

Now some of you might be thinking of past experience when it comes to Spidey and how Sony would usually tend to screw it up at a certain point. Let me just say first off, I LIKE “Spider-Man 3.” Sorry, it’s true. As for “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” however, that is a different story. But if this is a matter of Disney wanting more money, I would say that this is a sacrifice worth taking. Disney has enough. They have merchandising rights to the character, they have two to three Marvel films every year now. They have the profitable live-action remakes. They have “Star Wars.” They have the entirety of some people’s childhoods. AND… they have most of Fox. They are literally the Veruca Salt of entertainment. Granted, I imagine everyone at Disney is MUCH more well behaved (for the most part, I don’t have enough insider information). But this is honestly a reminder to Disney to sometimes be thankful for what you have, otherwise there will be consequences.

And let’s address another big issue, getting Spidey out of the MCU’s relevance. One of the biggest problems for this dealbreaker when it comes to both Sony and Disney is trying to get Spider-Man to not interact or have connections with the Avengers anymore. This begs a question. Is he still going to be part of the team but without mention towards said connection? Will either side try to find a way to get rid of his “Avenger” status? A few movies ago, he was just declared an Avenger. From “Avengers: Infinity War” to “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” there was an important story in Peter Parker’s arch to allow him to emphasize his importance as an Avenger. Granted, that arch has come a long way since “Infinity War,” but at least from my view, there is still more to be explored regarding Parker and this story of his.

Oh, let’s not forget this…

*IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN “SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME,” THIS IS AN END CREDIT SCENE FROM THE FILM, DO NOT WATCH IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS*

Yeah… I want answers. Now.

So in all honesty, this breakup may end up being good for nobody. Granted, Sony agreeing to Disney’s terms would be be bad too, but this reminds me of divorce. You know how they say divorce is hardest on the children? This is hard on all fans of “Spider-Man” who happen to be enjoy both his solo films and MCU crossovers. It’s hard for Disney because they lost an interesting character, and as for Sony, we’ll just have to wait and see what kind of movie they end up making in order to determine how hard this is for them. The MCU will very likely survive without Spider-Man. After all, they have a bunch of other characters they can work with, and since Disney owns Fox, this now gives them the opportunity to insert “Fantastic Four” and “X-Men” into the mix. This leave may hurt them a little bit, because in a future project they’ll probably have to come up with some sort of excuse as to why Parker would be out of the realm. And for all I know, we may never see another Tom Holland “Spider-Man” story again, which would be disappointing, because, again, I want answers. Maybe Sony will do another reboot where Uncle Ben dies, which, I’ll say, I don’t mind seeing again. I get why people wouldn’t want to see it again, but seeing it can highlight the pain Parker goes through and it could emphasize the drive the character will have down the road.

Do I want Spider-Man in the MCU? Sure, he’s a cool character and I like Tom Holland’s portrayal. I think it is very well done, and when it comes to how the character is written in films like “Avengers: Infinity War,” he had my seal of approval. But I understand why Sony did what they did. I personally think “Homecoming” could have been slightly better when comparing it to other “Spider-Man” films, but I ended up loving “Far From Home” even more than “Endgame.” I have very mixed thoughts, but this is a tough time in the trendy comic book movie genre.

AND JUST BECAUSE SONY AND DISNEY ARE NOT GIVING YOU WHAT YOU WANT, DOES NOT MEAN YOU CAN RAID THE STUDIOS! IF THERE IS GOING TO BE A BIG RAID AGAINST EITHER STUDIO, MY FAITH IN THE HUMAN RACE IS GOING TO GO DOWN THE CRAPPER! DON’T. EVEN. THINK. ABOUT IT. CAPICHE?!

I’m just about done. I have nothing else to say except… Disney, stop your plan for world domination. This is the same corporation that gobbled up Fox for Pete’s sake! Give Sony a reason to be with you, or move on. Thanks for reading this post! I just want to remind everyone that I just recently saw “Ready or Not” which just opened in theaters a few days ago. This is the first full weekend the movie will be shown and I imagine a lot of its money will be earned over the course of said period of time. If you want to check out my review for that film, click the red box below and see what I have to say! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! And if you want, check out my Facebook page! Go to my Facebook page for the latest info from the Movie Reviewing Moron cluttered inside a space full of “friends.” I want to know, what are your thoughts on this whole “Spider-Man” fiasco? Do you want him in the MCU? Do you want Sony to keep making movies with him outside the MCU? Do you think there should be some sort of reboot? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019): The Truth Is… I Am Spider-Man

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Well, I waited over two weeks, I finally get to say it. “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is directed by Jon Watts (Cop Car, The Onion News Network), who also was the director and one of the writers behind the preceding film in this franchise, “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” This film stars Tom Holland (The Lost City of Z, In the Heart of the Sea), Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Snakes on a Plane), Zendaya (The Greatest Showman, Shake It Up), Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother, Safe Haven), Jon Favreau (The Jungle Book, Chef), Jacob Batalon (Blood Fest, Every Day), Martin Starr (Silicon Valley, Knocked Up), J.B. Smoove (Uncle Drew, Hall Pass) with Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinny, Chaplin) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler, Stronger). This is the 23rd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the second Spider-Man film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the eighth big screen “Spider-Man” film of the 21st century. So much for originality! Yay! This film continues the adventures of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker in a post universe-wide snappening setting. As everyone adapts to a world that has changed forever, Peter Parker and his classmates are going on a field trip to Europe, only to run into chaos through unexpected encounters including Mysterio, and Nick Fury himself.

When it comes to Spider-Man, he is by far my favorite superhero of all time. Spider-Man is the perfect embodiment of your average teenager trying to live a normal life, but various struggles and obstacles beyond their control manage to get in their way. As for Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, my love for him is unbelievable. While I wasn’t the biggest fan of “Homecoming,” I really enjoyed him in other films including “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War.” If I had to a superhero to relate to more than any other, Spider-Man is definitely number one. This is a reason why I really enjoyed a movie like Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2,” because it emphasizes the internal conflict of what Peter wants vs. what he needs. That film by the way, is my favorite comic book flick of all time. And in some ways, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” sort of takes me back to the time frame of Sam Raimi’s films.

Mary Jane has a screen presence in this film that I personally did not expect.

This movie has the result of Sandman getting a makeover due to incoming tides.

Not to mention, the film is freaking awesome!

In fact, you know how “Avengers: Endgame” perhaps stands as the most anticipated film? Like, ever? As the release for “Endgame” got closer and closer, my hype levels increased. Can’t say that for “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” I saw the first trailer, thought it sucked, and while going into the film, I appreciated this film’s efforts to try reminding everyone of the effects of “Endgame,” I was still somewhat nervous. Then I came out of the film, got home, and made the following tweet.

For all I know, this could be due to just seeing the film, my opinion could change, but I felt a bigger impact through the smaller and slightly more individualistic story of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” than I did for perhaps what has been marketed as the biggest geekfest in history. But much like that giant nerdgasm-inducing experience, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is not perfect.

Much like “Avengers: Endgame,” “Spider-Man: Far From Home” suffers from minor pacing issues, but similar to “Endgame,” “Far From Home” has pacing issues which I can live with simply because of everything else that is happening. And this is not an issue in every sense of the word, but this movie has a lot of moments in its script that are incredibly convenient to what is happening on screen. But at the same time, I feel like that is one of the big improvements I can give to “Far From Home” when comparing it to “Homecoming.” Why? One of my biggest issues with “Homecoming” had to do with the script in a crapton of ways, one of which included the unbelievable amount of comedy inserted. And honestly, there was not a lot that landed. When it comes to Spidey’s quips and one-liners in “Homecoming,” they don’t feel as hysterical as they could be. I could tell that Tom Holland was trying his hardest with the material that may have sounded great on paper, but for one reason or another, the jokes just didn’t stick the landing for me. Here however, there seems to be a lot less comedy, and the bits of comedy they have in this film, when present, completely works. Because let’s face it, this movie is the first installment in the MCU that has to reflect on the past couple of “Avengers” flicks, which honestly would present the need for a slightly more serious script. Plus, Sony’s distributing this film instead of Disney. When the mouse is away, the spiders will play!

Also, while I keep talking about “Spider-Man: Homecoming” as if it happens to be the last “Spider-Man” film to be released, keep in mind that we just got “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” which many consider to be the best “Spider-Man” film to date. While I don’t know whether or not I enjoyed this film or “Spider-Verse” more, I can confirm that when I saw “Spider-Verse,” it was perhaps the biggest acid trip of a superhero film I have ever watched. Guess what? I might need to rethink that statement, and I won’t go into why, BUT LET ME HAVE YOU KNOW THAT “SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME” IS ONE HELL OF A DRUG! If you drop acid before this movie, I wish you luck on getting out of the movie theater when the film ends because there are a couple of head-spinning moments that kind of left me speechless.

And you know something? Another shocker for this film to me is MJ, because when I saw her in “Homecoming,” I did not like her, I thought she some clowny individual who barely had a personality. This time there is depth to her, and even though I was nervous back in 2016 when they announced who was playing MJ, specifically Zendaya, she pulled it off in this movie! Mainly because she had a take on it that made the character her own. After all, her name isn’t really Mary Jane, it’s actually Michelle. If she was a redhead, I’d want the character a certain way. But I appreciate Zendaya’s take not only because her character was well written, not just because she did her part with excellence, but because it did not feel like the type of MJ I thought she would be, which would be a black person trying to playing the typical white Mary Jane, almost as if it were a s*itty impression. Zendaya has her individual flair which brought some pizzazz to the final product. Rock on! Granted, seeing her in the beginning of the film was a little sloppy, in fact, that’s not the only issue I have with the start of the film (there are a couple minor moments leaning towards cringe), but as it went on, I began to admire her.

And the surprises don’t even end there, because this time around I actually liked Ned! If you don’t remember my “Homecoming” review, this is what I said about Ned.

“One character in this movie goes by the name of Ned Leeds, he was played by Jacob Batalon, and there was a point in this movie where I wanted some sort of technology that existed which could allow me to jump into a movie’s universe. I could go into this one, find Ned, and give him the finger!”

You know what? Forget about that statement, f*ck it! Because in this movie, Ned is the opposite of annoying. In fact, he’s pretty charming at certain times. There’s this portion of the film dedicated to this relationship he has with this one girl, which honestly, had its ups and downs, but there are moments when I can approve of it.

Also, if anything, it reminded me of the Schmoopie relationship from “Seinfeld.”

And while I won’t dive too deep into this, another problem I had with “Homecoming” that somehow gets fixed here is my displeasure with the AI from that film. Remember Karen? I do. And I don’t like her. While she could have been charming in that film, she had a few quirks that did not sit well with me. Karen does not make a return here and I won’t go into detail, but there’s an AI here that is honestly charming, and even sets up an entertaining and thrilling sequence on a bus.

Moving onto our main character, Peter Parker is back and now the important question is this: What would be a bigger feat for him than going to space? Europe? That’s nothing! Any idiot can fly a plane to Europe! But nevertheless, Parker is vacationing in Europe, and now he has to deal with a side mission, which takes away from whatever relaxation he can get. This is why I really enjoy the character of Spider-Man, because other heroes, specifcally in the MCU, always seem to be built with this sort of drive to save the world. Granted, with an interpretation such as Tony Stark, maybe he’d get a little drained from it and prefer to lay low for awhile like he did in “Iron Man 3,” but there are not many moments where I have seen an MCU hero flat out refuse to do hero work. When the Avengers got together, just about everyone showed up. Thor always seemed to have a knack for defending Asgard with a hammer by his side. Captain America would always be willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good. But Spider-Man… Needs his alone time. While in some instances, I imagine this would make a hero look like a dick or a coward, it works for Peter Parker because he’s just a normal, likable, not to mention, relatable kid. He just wants a normal life despite various perks of being a superhero. In fact, Peter’s story and actions in this film kind of remind me of what is like to be me when I was younger. I had my crushes, perhaps constantly imagined plans to get together with said crushes, and if you know me, they did not work out, and I’m fine with that. By the way ladies, I’m single! Plus, Peter in this film has to deal with following in the footsteps of those above him, which is something that I did think about out sometimes when I was younger. Granted, probably not a lot, but the thought definitely did come up in my head once or twice.

I also really liked Mysterio in this film, they managed to go in a direction with the character that I for one personally did not expect, and as for Jake Gyllenhaal, he was basically perfect casting for this role. I remember back in the day I wanted him to be the next Batman if Affleck were to leave. Granted, he’s not, but still. But even though I never imagined Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio, I cannot help but dig him. He did a really good job, and I love his costume! It’s amazing!

Now despite what the box office can make me think, there are still people out there who have yet to see “Avengers: Endgame.” But in “Endgame,” there is a lot that happens that leads to this film’s events. In fact, the beginning of this film is a tribute to a couple of major characters who have encountered a common barrier in “Endgame.” And this movie, while I won’t go into context, shows off perhaps the most heart-wrenching footage of the snappening I’ll ever see in my life. If you thought that collection of deaths on Wakanda was disturbing, I’ll remind you, the effects to me were personally diminished (although still slightly powerful) because going into “Infinity War,” I kinda knew we were going to see people die. Granted, I didn’t know who, how, or when, but I knew something was coming. What made it really disturbing is that it was just a bunch of innocent people going through their everyday lives. Granted, that was sort of already shown during “Infinity War’s” end credits, but this movie did it better because for all I know it was shot on somebody’s phone or some other everyday camera. It almost reminds me of the found footage movie “Cloverfield” the more I think about it, because in a way, I felt immersed into such a disturbing situation, not to mention from a rather shaky first person perspective.

In the end, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” can be summed up in one word. Fun. It has a vibe that is almost reminiscent of Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” films while also managing to be a product of its own. The movie, in more ways than one, made me feel young again. I talked to death about the relatable teen year experiences this film provided, but I grew up watching Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” films and in some ways, this film managed to take me back to when I was somewhere between 6 to 14 years old. “Spider-Man 2” still stands as my favorite comic book movie ever, but I cannot deny that this is definitely another solid second “Spider-Man” movie. As I was writing this review, I’ve been having a constant debate in my head on whether or not this is better than “Spider-Verse,” and this debate is far from over. I’m willing to bet that this won’t end for awhile. I’d probably have to rewatch both films to know for sure. But if I had to make my thoughts on this film as finalized as possible, I’d say that unlike “Spider-Verse,” I felt that “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” while just as entertaining, if not more, had a greater quantity of issues that stood out to me. So with that being said, “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” despite “Endgame” being a more conclusive chapter to the entire three phase saga of the MCU, is a damn fine way for Marvel to cap off their third phase. I’m going to give “Spider-Man: Far From Home” a high 8/10. I love the constant joke about how we are getting too many “Spider-Man” movies or movies that have Spidey in them. Well, if we’re getting films that are this good, why should they stop making them? I’ll wait for the next “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” and then we’ll revisit this topic later. And I also will say, I almost forgot to consider this about “Spider-Verse,” it basically was a game-changer for the comic book genre in cinema. The animation style was unlike anything I have seen on the big screen up until that point. How many live-action “Spider-Man” films do we have right now? I don’t care about real numbers at this point. Let’s just go with umpteen because it sounds kind of fun. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that next Monday, July 22nd, will be the release date for my final Quentin Tarantino review series installment, specifically, “The Hateful Eight.” I’ll be reviewing this film just in time for Tarantino’s new film coming out next week, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Stay tuned!

Also, if you love “Spider-Man” like I do, or if you simply want to know more of my thoughts on the “Spider-Man” movies, I posted a review for every big screen “Spider-Man” film since the original Sam Raimi flick from 2002. If you want to check these out, click the links down below! Be sure to follow Scene Before through a WordPress account or email so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, I have a Facebook page, if you could do me a favor and give it a like or follow it would be very much appreciated! I want to know, did you see “Spider-Man: Far From Home?” What did you think about it? Or, as painful of a reminder as it may be, this is the first MCU film without a Stan Lee cameo. RIP, by the way. So with that being said, what is your personal favorite Stan Lee cameo? If you ask me, I’d go with the one where he tries to get into Reed and Susan’s wedding in “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer,” Tony Stank from “Captain America: Civil War,” the bus driving scene from “Avengers: Infinity War,” or even though it’s not Marvel, “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies,” which basically takes the Stan Lee cameo and manages fetishize it to the core. Nevertheless, let me know your pick, that way your name will make a random appearance as a cameo in this post! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Spider-Man (2002)

Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Spider-Man 3 (2007)

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Avengers: Infinity War (2018): 2018’s Movie Event of the Year

Before we dive into what some may call my most important movie review of the year, I’m gonna go ahead and ask you something. How terrifying is Thanos? The answer, objectively, he’s a monster that might eat other villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for breakfast. One thing that’s probably just as terrifying, is responsibility, and a new responsibility will be handed over to a couple by the name of Genevieve and Paul. The two are trying their hardest to have a child, therefore increasing the absolutely scary idea of responsibility, but before they totally get scared, they get… failure. Specifically, the failure of making a child, which is all explained… in “What the IVF?!”

“What the IVF?” is a series on YouTube about a couple who are trying to have a baby but based on experience, trying is not enough effort to grant the couple’s wish. Genevieve and Paul go through an extended journey where trying is redefined. Throughout, they face victories and failures, and go through hell as they encounter unfortunate events when it comes to sex, tests, procedures, and EVERY. F*CKING. NEEDLE.

You know, kind of like this, but a little different. New episodes are uploaded to the channel every Monday and pretty much each one has their own little dramatic story for the couple to tell. The most recent episode however, strays away from the dramatic tone. In this latest installment titled “The Waiting Game,” the name pretty much says it all. When the couple is waiting for results on a test, they try to distract themselves and make themselves feel normal. Watch the episode, or if you want a more dramatic episode, watch a few of the earlier ones. If you like what you see, hit the subscribe button on their YouTube channel, like their videos, hit the notification bell, and if you want more of “What the IVF?” outside of the YouTube universe, be sure to check out their other social media profiles and their website! Also, be sure to to tell them I sent you over!

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

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

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

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

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

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“Avengers: Infinity War” is directed by Anthony and Joe Russo (Community, Arrested Development) and stars Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man, The Judge), Chris Evans (Captain America: The First Avenger, Gifted) Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher, Spotlight), Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Rush), Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther, 42), Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Lost City of Z), Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange, Star Trek: Into Darkness), Scarlett Johanson (Iron Man 2, Lucy), Don Cheadle (Iron Man 2, Crash), Paul Bettany (Iron Man, A Knight’s Tale), Elizabeth Olsen (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Godzilla), Anthony Mackie (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Hurt Locker), Sebastian Stan (Captain America: The First Avenger, The Covenant), Danai Gurira (Black Panther, The Visitor), Letitia Wright (Black Panther, The Commuter), Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy, Blade Runner 2049), Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy, Avatar), Josh Brolin (The Goonies, No Country For Old Men), and Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World). Just… HOLY CRAP. This is just scratching the surface on this movie’s overwhelming number of characters!

With the infinite (pun sort of intended) number of cast members/characters this movie is trying to fit in, they all are featured in this two and a half hour extravaganza where we reach one of the biggest points in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that’s when Thanos makes an attempt to unleash havoc and chaos upon the universe by destroying half of it.

Let me just get something out of the way, this review is being called “2018’s Movie Event of the Year,” and reasonably so. Because for one thing, it is the culmination that is ten years in the making (or six depending on who you ask). We are finally at the point that we get to see Thanos in action. Not to mention, this movie is RIDDLED TO THE BRIM with surprises! I can’t believe we’ve made it as far as we did, seriously! The birth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, starting with the 2008 movie “Iron Man” is about to make its ten year mark on May 2nd! Unbelievable! Anyway, that movie and a bunch of others have all lead to this, and since I mentioned there are many surprises in this movie, I should have you all know that this review is going to be spoiler-free. A lot of people and I mean A LOT OF PEOPLE are going to see this movie after I get this review up, and this is pretty much a “Star Wars” situation. If I reveal one thing about this movie that is in spoiler territory, somebody in the comment section is going send me a death threat. So if I sound vague compared to some of my other reviews, you know why.

Now let’s get through some characters, but before we get to that, I could literally make a joke at this point saying that this movie featured every soul in existence. And I’ve heard some comments about this movie at times. I’ve heard comments saying that it feels cluttered, and that it has too many characters. I one-hundred percent disagree. And that’s because when it comes to utilizing these characters, I feel like just about each and every single one that has some sort of importance to the plot happened to have their moment. There are segments of this movie that stand out and those segments happen to be exclusive to certain characters. I don’t want to get into them however, because if I do, it will just mean I drop one character’s name, and now I allow each and every one of you to have a ruined surprise, which as mentioned, this movie has a lot of. If I were to go into them, I wouldn’t get all that specific, I’d just say a character’s name and kind of move on, but for the sake of humanity, sanity, and a decreased chance of getting killed by someone who may hunt me down after getting this review posted, I won’t do that. Another thing I will say, I will not be talking about all of the characters in this movie that has a bit of the importance to the plot. That will take forever and a half, and there’s not really as much to say about certain characters compared to others. So I’m sorry, there’s no explanation for characters like Iron Man, Captain America, and Doctor Strange. There are more that are unlisted, but these are just examples. I feel I should say less about them for the sake of a more quality review. You’re welcome, by the way.

I don’t have any order I want to go in when it comes to these characters, so let’s just talk about Spider-Man, because there is something that stands out about him that I need to bring up. As you may know, Spider-Man recently had his own movie and in that picture, he had some technology added to his suit. But this time around, if you watch the movie, you’ll notice that he has a new suit. And while I was not a fan of Peter Parker’s suit in “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” I thought this new suit, which is making the character of Spider-Man ultimately marketed to the public as Iron Spider, was a sack of crap. Sure, it looks kinda cool, but the idea of Spider-Man combining with Iron Man makes me think some people thought the idea of Spider-Man, and by that I mean SPIDER-MAN, was not cool enough. I would have said all of this before going to see the movie. As of right now, I change my mind. The Iron Spider outfit was properly utilized, had a purpose in the movie, mainly when it was first put on, but even so, and best of all, it didn’t have a stupid artificial intelligence that was literally holding Peter’s hand and telling him to kiss his crush. Thank gosh!

Another standout character in this movie is Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow. Now her character as you know and would expect, is badass. But there is one thing that I consider what may be a flaw with this character, and it’s a nitpick, but it’s there. It makes me ask, why is she blonde? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some douchebag who demands other people to have a certain hairstyle. Although not only does it feel weird, but given the fact that something like this is a change of pace after seeing many movies with Black Widow such as “Iron Man 2,” “The Avengers,” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” which has the character having different, but in ways, alike hairstyles, you’d probably expect some explanation as to why Black Widow’s hair is blonde. Did she want to have more fun? Did she suddenly become a Marilyn Monroe fanatic? Did she get tired of people asking her if she was, I dunno, “REDy?” I’m not really taking many points off for this, but it kind of feels somewhat weird because this, again, feels like a change of pace. I don’t even remember there being a joke, even though there were a good number concerning other subjects, regarding Black Widow’s hair.

When it comes to who has the biggest presence in the entire movie in terms of the heroes, I gotta say that the Guardians of the Galaxy probably qualify as the number one spot. Their overall story has a tremendous effect on where everything goes in regards to a number of heroes and Thanos. As far as the Guardians go, I think their storyline is a contender to be the best storyline in the movie. It was somewhat dark and depressing while still allowing them to be the same hilarious crew we all grew to know.

And that does lead me into this movie’s overall tone. “Avengers: Infinity War” is marketed as this beyond dark, ambitious, important, bitchslap to the face f*ckstravaganza, and with bits of humor here and there. One worry I had that didn’t exactly stand out because I had faith in this being worked out well, was a clash in tones. I was somewhat worried that there would be too much humor in serious situations, but not only was the comedy incredibly hilarious, but it seemed to be utilized at the right times. I saw this movie with about 500 people, and based on their laughs, they seem to agree with me.

Now let’s move onto what is quite literally the biggest part of the entire movie, Thanos, which if you’re unfamiliar with Marvel…

Think of Terence Fletcher from “Whiplash” combined with Darth Vader from “Star Wars,” add in a hint of Count von Count from “Sesame Street,” you get this PURPLE GUY who CHUCKLES over the fact that he destroyed a NUMBER of planets, who is a FATHER per se of multiple heroic characters, and has a SHAVED head that will make you look at him as the INTIMIDATING, Jupiter-sized dickbag of Doucheville, otherwise known as Thanos. The character of Thanos is the probably the movie’s best character, and also the one that gets the majority of screentime. Also, if you have been following the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the villains have usually been disposable bad guys that are just there for the heroes to defeat. Recently however, I will say that every villain featured in a Marvel film since “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” has been incredible. The streak of awesomeness continues here in “Avengers: Infinity War.” And to be completely honest, Thanos is quite possibly the best villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and definitely in the discussion of being the best comic book movie villain of all time. I don’t know if I’d say he’s as perfect as The Joker from “The Dark Knight,” but Thanos is up there. As mentioned, Thanos gets a majority of the movie’s screentime. And this is part of why his character is so great. Given his high amount of screentime, you get to know Thanos very much, and the film is more about him as opposed to anyone else. The film’s main point of focus is the journey to find the stones. The Avengers are the just the defenders (pun sort of intended). You view Thanos from the beginning as the very definition of evil, and he just f*cks s*it up no matter where he goes. If there’s one character that you should look forward to when seeing this movie, it’s Thanos.

Speaking of journeys, certain journeys have certain endings, and this journey has an ending to remember. Out of every ending I’ve seen in the MCU, this is BY FAR my favorite of them all. Like, holy f*ck! I saw this movie with three other people, a couple of the people next to me were just speechless, and so was I! I’m not even gonna say the ending! I don’t want to be a dick! That’s Moby’s job!

I APOLOGIZE TO EVERYONE NAMED MOBY, WHICH LUCKILY, DUE TO RESEARCH THERE AREN’T MANY PEOPLE NAMED MOBY THAT STAND OUT SO I WONDER IF APOLOGIZING IS EVEN NECESSARY.

Overall, the ending for this movie, is not only brilliantly written, beautifully directed, but also has some of my favorite editing in the MCU. Again, something I won’t go into for the sake of not getting anyone mad, but it’s freaking sick!

Also as mentioned, this movie is directed by the Russo Brothers, who directed the previous two “Captain America” films. When it comes to the cinematography, I was noticing lots of shaky cam, which is not new for a film directed by this duo. If you watch “Captain America: Civil War,” that film has tons of shaky cam, and I thought the action in that film actually happened to be some of the best in the MCU. It was fast paced, exciting, and as I watched the film, fun. When it comes to the action sequences in this film, you can say I had fun watching them, but this is one of those times, where I literally felt there were high stakes involved in this universe. As mentioned, Thanos has an intimidating and demanding presence, you’ve also got a bunch of Thanos’s minions, including those of the Black Order, and while some other Marvel movies seem to have some predictable action sequences and all that, you never really know exactly how every action scene here will conclude. You constantly root for the heroes, who are going up against the f*ck-up of purple people, and Thanos’ determination makes the rooting exist. I mean… For a guy who happened to be rather speechless once leaving the theater for this movie, it’s almost like a true feat for the amount of words shoved onto this review! What a revelation!

In the end, “Avengers: Infinity War” is EASILY one of the best movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe! I LOVED just about every single second of this movie! It’s my favorite “Avengers” movie! The way they handled all of the characters in this movie was amazing! I mean, seriously! For a movie like this that has more characters than perhaps the number of lights people leave on for new visitors at a Motel 6 in a day, I can’t imagine many other directors taking on this project and doing a better job of balancing everything as masterfully as the Russos did. I said it before, just about every character had their personal moment to shine, and fans will be going crazy over at least one them. Maybe not as crazy as the crowd I had since I went on opening night in a crowded IMAX, but fans will go wild. Speaking of which, I do recommend you go see this in the IMAX format, because this is the first movie shot entirely on IMAX cameras. Not the ones I really like talking about, but this is kind of a big deal and the IMAX experience does add a bit to the movie in terms of immersion! With all of this being said, this movie is the Marvel Cinematic Universe edition of “The Empire Strikes Back,” and it is a f*cking ride from start to finish! I’m gonna give “Avengers: Infinity War” a 10/10! Once again, I’m trying to be as vague as possible in this review for a reason, and I’ll just remind you, when it comes to spoiling this movie, I don’t recommend it. If you spoil this movie, there’s a good chance you’re only just gonna make someone’s life only worse. You know, unless being spoiled is your thing then you’re OK there.

#ThanosDemandsYourSilence

But seriously though, this movie’s the s*it!

Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon, as promised, I’ll have my review for “Mission: Impossible II.” I’m probably going to watch the movie tomorrow, and I’ll start the review soon after, and publish it some time following that. Stay tuned for that review, and also stay tuned for other reviews! I want to know, did you see “Avengers: Infinity War?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite “Avengers” movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!