Why “And Then There Were Fewer” is the Best Family Guy Episode *MAJOR SPOILERS*

PREVIOUSLY ON SCENE BEFORE:

“What happens here? You know what? I’m not even gonna specify, because spoiling this particular episode, while hard, isn’t worth it.”

“I could go on forever about this episode, but I’d be wasting precious time.”

SOURCE: Top 10 “Family Guy” Episodes *SPOILERS*

AND NOW…

FAMILY GUY: When the residents of Quahog are invited to a stately mansion for a weekend getaway, the retreat turns into a real murder mystery when guests end up dead and everyone scrambles to solve the crime on the one-hour season premiere episode of FAMILY GUY airing Sunday, Sept. 26 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. FAMILY GUY © and ª 2010 TTCFFC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! I do not talk about TV that much here on Scene Before, but it has been over three and a half years since I talked about ten of my all time favorite “Family Guy” episodes. Some examples from the time include “PTV,” (S4E14) “Wasted Talent,” (S2E20) “The Simpsons Guy,” (S13E01), and “Blue Harvest” (S6E01). If you are wondering, no, I do not have any current plans to update the countdown anytime soon. Maybe in a couple years if I’m desperate, but who knows? Besides, even though “Family Guy” is still on the air today, many of the newer episodes are either unfunny, disposable, overly cruel, or downright unwatchable. But there have been some diamonds in the rough, most notably “Three Directors,” (S16E05) where it is one short story presented in the “visions” of Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson, and Michael Bay, and “Trump Guy,” (S17E11) where Peter works for the Trump administration. But my favorite episode has aired during a time where “Family Guy” was just getting into the HD age.

Today, September 26th, 2020, is the tenth anniversary of my favorite “Family Guy” episode of all time, “And Then There Were Fewer.” Now I have a lot of respect for the “Family Guy” series. It is a show that I started watching at one point, and convinced my father to watch alongside me. I guess I got lucky, because at this point my father thinks Seth MacFarlane is a genius. In fact, I’m attempting to work on a bit of a “Family Guy” project myself. I can’t say much about it, but if Seth MacFarlane, Fox, or Disney reads this, I will be happy to talk with them about an idea or two I have!

When it comes to the adult animation genre, I think “Family Guy” reigns supreme in terms of humor and likable characters. From Peter to Stewie to Joe to Quagmire, the list goes on. Throughout the seasons, they all have their highlights in various episodes. And even if the episodes themselves are not that great, I still like the characters because at the end of the day, they have a likable presence or personality to keep the show afloat. Peter is a lovable idiot. While he is somewhat entitled and lazy, he plays the part great. I’m not a dog person, but Brian is probably one of my favorite dogs in media, mainly because of how well executed he is as a voice of wisdom. I occasionally enjoy myself realizing that Seth MacFarlane sometimes puts a bit of his own personality into Brian’s character. As for Stewie… He is probably in my top 10 most relatable characters of all time. Well, minus the desire to kill my own mother.

The supporting characters of “Family Guy” show themselves to be quite admirable too. From Tom Tucker, the charming newscaster who has a knack for dry commentary, to Mayor West, who is basically a college frat boy in a geezer’s body (RIP Adam West), and even though the actor himself is a controversial name as of today, James Woods had some of the greatest moments of screentime in the entire series.

This all adds up to something… That, kinda feels like a culmination.

The reason why I enjoy “And Then There Were Fewer” more than any other “Family Guy” episode is the same reason why I consider “Avengers: Infinity War” to be the best installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Every other movie felt like they played a part in a series of buildup. These movies eventually let “Infinity War” take elements from them to give a big, grand story that stands on its own and recognizes what came before, and even builds the story further in the end.

Keep in mind, “And Then There Were Fewer” is the premiere episode of “Family Guy’s” ninth season, but at times, it feels more like a finale. People die. The vibe is incredibly grand and massive. Also keep in mind, even though I mentioned “Infinity War,” this is not exactly like an epic. After all, this episode is a quirky but somewhat serious murder mystery. This episode relies a ton on its own, heavy, unique atmosphere that quite frankly, I have not seen in too many other “Family Guy” episodes. Your typical “Family Guy” episode goes straight for humor. Maybe it’s dark humor, controversial humor, or some plethora of pop culture references. And those are not always bad. These are in the show’s collective wheelhouse. In “And Then There Were Fewer,” the humor is there, but I stay for the story and characterization.

Let’s go over how the episode goes down, and I’ll give some of my thoughts along the way. *MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD*

The episode begins with the Griffins finding out they were invited to a party at Rocky Point Manor, a massive location where the rest of the episode would take place. This episode is the first one in series to be presented in 16:9 widescreen and high definition. In fact, the intro that is not often shown on television due to time constraints (it can be found on the DVD version of the episode, however) tries to make the viewer aware that they are in for something new. Not just in regards to looks, but the overall vibe. The scope is massive, almost movie-like perhaps. Instead of the traditional intro where they show the main characters in the Griffin House and an alternate venue singing, they rely on scenery and atmosphere. When the main location of the episode is revealed, the music, which by the way is a full-blown orchestra, is kind of bombastic and triggers an emotional punch. The music does a solid job of reminding me as a viewer of the beauty regarding the massive mansion up ahead. The colors and animation in these opening scenes are vibrant and finely detailed.

Now, this is a cartoon, meaning that you can get away with more in a presentation of its kind compared to something in live-action. Thus, this episode handles a crossover sort of situation at hand. Turns out the Griffins were not the only ones to get the party invitation, but as Lois points out, “the whole town got invited.” Not only did they get invited, but they got invited “in their honor.”

This brings every single character imaginable into the episode. Your main tag team including Mayor West, Quagmire, and the Swansons. They’ve also got Mort and Muriel Goldman, the Channel 5 news team, Dr. Hartman, you name it. This episode seems to open with big promise, but does it deliver above and beyond the idea of bringing tons of people together? You betcha.

“Good evening, everyone.” -James Woods

I know a lot of people are currently divided over James Woods as a person, but regardless of his personal views of the world, I will say that he has appeared in some of the best “Family Guy” episodes, and this one is no exception. His role in here is perfect as it solidly relies on previous buildup. “Family Guy” has had a history of using James Woods as an antagonist against several characters, including Peter, when he tried to copy several aspects of his life. He ruined Brian’s TV pilot, changing the core aspects of the script and overall vibe of the production. Throughout the episode, there are a couple of other things that other characters briefly bring up that make Woods look like an undesirable monster. Quagmire reveals Woods stole Cheryl Tiegs from him, Tom Tucker mentions Woods kept him from being the star of “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” and Mayor Adam West says James Woods took the Twitter name @MayorWest, meaning he had to then use @Mayor_West. His presence in the episode is a reminder of how far this series has come and raises questions as to where it goes from there, and I admire that about Woods here.

Woods reveals he has recently become a born-again Christian thanks to his girlfriend, Priscilla (voiced by Ashley Tisdale). Because he’s just become a man of god, he felt it was necessary to invite all the people he wronged to make amends. The guests wonder why they should trust him, but James Woods begs for said guests to give him a chance.

When Woods exits the dining room where everybody happens to be sitting, waiting for dinner, Priscilla tags along. Quagmire’s annoying girlfriend, Stephanie, goes over to the Woods’ chair and sits down. Soon thereafter, blood pours out of her chest.

She dies. Head flat on the table.

To quote Agatha the Pre-Cog from “Minority Report…”

“Murrrrderrrrr.”

This is the perfect catalyst to bring darkness to this episode. “Family Guy” is usually known for being dark, but that’s usually just from a comedic perspective. From this moment, it might as well be gathered that some serious stuff is about to go down.

Everyone assumes James Woods killed Stephanie, thus leading them to flee to their cars. Upon beginning their drive, a tree collapses a bridge, the only way they can go in their escape.

Retrieved from TVGag

So it’s back to the mansion!

Unfortunately, nobody is getting reception on their cell phones, and even though there’s a landline, it’s dead. Everyone is in panic mode. until James Woods enters the room, where such panic is dialed up a couple notches. After a penis joke, scolding, and further realization that Stephanie is kind of a gag character. James and Priscilla are confused by everyone’s fear. James claims he’s unaware of what’s going on. So they go to the next room, where Stephanie’s body no longer remains. A power outage ensues, summoning a series of black frames, and “Family Guy” does what it does best.

“Oh my god! Is this what black people see all the time?” -Peter Griffin

James Woods dies with a knife in his back.

We don’t see who strikes Woods down, nor does anybody in the mansion. Joe Swanson catalyzes the rest of the episode.

JOE: What I’m saying is James Woods isn’t the murderer. The murderer… is one of us.”

*Collective gasps*

JOE: And someone ate the last goat cheese tartlet.

*Collective yammering*

PETER: Now I hope I die next!

Criss Cross GIF - Criss Cross Family - Discover & Share GIFs

We soon see that Stephanie died due to a timed gun, which went off as soon as Stephanie sat down in the chair that was supposed to be for James Woods. Nobody admits to wanting James Woods dead, so it’s time to play Clue!

Unfortunately for Joe, he’s soon knocked unconscious by Peter, who takes over the investigation. The characters remind us, the audience, that everyone at the dinner had a motive for wanting James Woods dead, but one was willing enough to get revenge. We see tons of finger-pointing. Diane Simmons points at Tom Tucker, who points at Seamus the pirate, who then points at Mayor Adam West. We get into a finger-pointing frenzy! No answers in sight!

Carl shoves Chris into a bookshelf, causing books to gravitate downward. One hits a particular floor tile that pushes down, making the bookshelf slide, thus revealing an opening to the basement.

Everyone goes downstairs, Peter opens a book revealing James’ misdeeds. He’s written each one down so he remembers who to make amends to. Upon some investigation, Brian comes across tons of Oxycontin bottles with James Woods’ name on it. All of it comes from Goldman’s Pharmacy, appropriately owned by Mort and Muriel Goldman. James Woods blackmailed Muriel specifically, as he was being supplied with free medicine. Everyone assumes Muriel is the killer, but she escapes before she can be captured.

Peter divides everyone into teams, and if you watch “Family Guy,” a couple of these combinations make complete sense.

“Chris, you check the basement with Herbert.”

*Herbert stretches over to Chris, emitting a twiggish sound*

Perfect.

Peter even points out Joe and Priscilla, who are currently passed out, therefore they’re labeled the “unconscious team.”

We see these teams in action. Derek and Jillian investigate an attic, where a black cat, voiced by Patrick Stewart, jumps out. There’s even an inside joke to “X-Men” where the cat reveals himself as a “professor.” Chris and Herbert collaborate, and Herbert makes a request to Chris to burn his house down if he dies. Diane Simmons and Tom Tucker enter an art gallery, where Tom clicks a button with his shoe, thus sliding a painting automatically. Tom goes inside, but he gets trapped! Diane raises some concern, but where did Tom go?!

Meg and Carl enter a billiard room, as if this wasn’t like “Clue” enough already. Meg bumps into the stuffed bear from “The Great Outdoors” written by John Hughes.

CARL: Oh, it’s okay. It’s just the stuffed bear from “The Great Outdoors.” Did you see “The Great Outdoors?”

MEG: No.

CARL: You suck.

FAMILY GUY: A swanky retreat turns into a real murder mystery when guests end up dead, and Meg scrambles to solve the crime on the one-hour season premiere episode of FAMILY GUY airing Sunday, Sept. 26 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. FAMILY GUY © and ™ 2010 TTCFFC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Even though the duo are searching for Muriel, they decide to take a break and play some pool. Meg finds the pool cues, but she falls down a chute as soon as she grabs one of them.

We see Brian and Stewie humming TV themes to each other, when suddenly, a shriek is heard in the distance. The two run to the scene.

Retrieved from CutawayGuyHD (YouTube)

Muriel lies down with the knife inside her. Everyone else comes in as well.

And if you’re wondering, the thing I love about this death, not to mention a couple others in this episode, is that the people who died here have not been revived. In fact, the only person to die in this episode who has been revived is James Woods.

The clock ticks. The lightning strikes. The tension could not be higher. There is no other episode in the “Family Guy” series that I can think of that has given stakes like this.

Meg and Tom Tucker reveal their journey through an underground passageway to the rest of the crew, who are all standing together in the dining room. This is where we get one of the best jokes in the episode, and honestly, it has aged like a fine wine.

Derek reveals he’s getting reception on his cell phone. Peter speaks up.

PETER: Oh my god is that–…

*reveal Derek’s phone cover picture, him in front of the Hollywood sign

PETER: Are you holding up the whole Hollywood sign?

DEREK: No no no no, the sign was way in the background. I was standing in the foreground going like this (raises his arms) while Jillian took the picture. So, by forced perspective it looks like I’m holding up the whole sign.

PETER: I don’t believe you. I think you are a god. And I would die for you or kill others.

It’s stupid, but simultaneously brilliant, which to me is a core element of what makes “Family Guy” worthy of its cultural relevance.

Derek goes to the roof to call the police. Unfortunately, not everyone heard him say that. As evidenced by this next quote…

“Oh my god, Priscilla’s gone!” -Brian Griffin

We angle on the couch where Priscilla was laid to rest. We don’t know her fate, but she is nevertheless gone. But guess who isn’t gone? Joe! He’s back!

Some assume Priscilla’s the murderer. Some think there’s more data needed to confirm if that’s true. Then we get arguably the funniest outburst of the episode. Everyone’s arguing about the situation. Peter just jumps in being himself.

PETER: Derek lifted up the Hollywood sign.

*Collective yammering*

PETER: He did too, I saw the picture!

Derek reaches a balcony, dials for the police, but he’s smacked off. Splat! He hits the ground. Dr. Hartman steps in, confirms he’s dead, also noting his head was hit by a blunt object.

Everyone flies back into the mansion, gathers together in a room. Lois assumes Priscilla’s up to this, then Consuela discovers James Woods’ Golden Globe is missing. Everyone gathers around Joe, who suggests that if anyone leaves the group, they’re assumed to be the killer. They investigate Glenn Quagmire’s room, which doesn’t have anything of note. Although Stephanie’s huge underpants get some screentime, which provides for some funny lines.

LOIS: Oh it’s got flowers! I mean, why bother? Who’s gonna see em?

CHRIS: Maybe someone in space!

*Collective laughter*

The gang moves onto Tom Tucker’s room. They search around, Meg gasps, slowly revealing a bloody Golden Globe in her hand.

Everyone turns on Tom Tucker, Joe wheels himself over prepared to possibly turn him in. Tucker brings up Priscilla, noting that nobody knows what she’s up to. Joe suggests that’s possible, then blood starts dripping from the ceiling.

Peter lifts Joe to the ceiling, Joe opens a vent, and a dead Priscilla is revealed, everyone screams. Tom Tucker flees the room as many of the men track him down. They capture him in the dining room, where he’s cuffed. The police take him in once the sun rises.

The music in all of these scenes, and the entire episode for that matter, is simply put, “ear porn.” That’s the best way I can describe it. I know “Family Guy” is often known for their numbers that they’ve sprinkled into various episodes, but this episode has my favorite musical score, or my favorite musical job without lyrics, particularly in the “Family Guy series.” It’s intense, grand, and it pulls you right in. It’s kind of like some movies such as “Star Wars” where the music practically plays a supporting role.

The episode’s not over. We’ve just witnessed the main course. Now it’s time for dessert.

Retrieved from CutawayGuyHD (YouTube)

Everyone’s about to leave, Peter and Lois are packing up. Peter checks his stuff and notices his Hot Wheels fire engine does not appear to be in his luggage. He asks Lois if they’re in the bathroom, but she suggests she put them all in his bag. Lois walks down the hall, enters Diane Simmons’ room. She asks if Diane’s okay, to which she responds saying she’s managing. Then comes… this quote.

Retrieved from CutawayGuyHD (YouTube)

“You sound like my mother, she actually bought me this blouse for my first solo broadcast. I guess that’s sweet, huh.” -Diane Simmons

Lois is confused, until she puts what Diane said together.

As Peter often says, “Holy crap!”

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Lois backs away, suggesting she’s looking for Peter’s fire engine, but Diane points a gun at her. She’s the killer.

As if this wasn’t exciting enough, the backstory behind all of this is incredible. At times when I watch it, I feel like I am viewing this story from the point where Diane is the protagonist. It kind of gives a grand, emotional “John Wick” vibe. I even teared up a couple times by watching the last 5 to 10 minutes of the episode because it’s that good.

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Diane reveals that she and James Woods met at a press event, but their relationship was a secret from the media. Then she does something that NO CARTOONS EVER DO. Age. The footage reveals she turned 40, and around this time, James dumps her. Speaking of being left behind by straight, white men, Tom Tucker started promoting a younger blonde anchor, who we now know by the name Joyce Kinney. This anchor was set to take Diane’s place in a matter of weeks.

“I saw my career and my love life crumble, and I wasn’t gonna stand by and take it.” -Diane Simmons

From here, Diane reveals she has previously taken advantage of an intern named Priscilla. Sound familiar? At Diane’s discretion, Priscilla persuades James Woods to become a born-again Christian. This inspired the dinner where Woods invited everyone he wronged. Diane wanted everything to go as smooth as possible so she could kill James Woods and frame Tom Tucker.

“Oh my god. You’re 40?” -Lois Griffin

As for Diane killing everyone else, this was not part of the plan. Stephanie, as suggested earlier in the episode, was an accident. As soon as the power went out, Diane took advantage of the darkness and put a knife in James Woods’ back. From here, she reveals that due to Priscilla and Muriel realizing Diane’s true motivations, they had to die as well. For Priscilla specifically, Diane hid her in Tom Tucker’s room. Muriel was left on the ground as everyone gathered around, and Diane was lucky enough to be “part of the scene.”

When everyone gathers in the dining room, Diane notices Derek running to the balcony.

Remember this line?

“Derek lifted up the Hollywood sign.”

Yeah, you want to know why that’s possibly the best line in the episode? Because even though it was delivered in a manner where Peter was pretty much being a smartass, Diane Simmons utilizes it and takes it seriously.

“When Peter was yelling at everybody about that picture of Derek holding up the Hollywood sign, I grabbed the Golden Globe and slipped out. I followed Derek outside and did what I had to do.” -Diane Simmons

She then reveals the rest of her plan was a success as everyone turned on Tom Tucker.

But what about Stephanie? She was the first to die! But Diane didn’t acknowledge what happened to her body and where she went!

Turns out, Quagmire had Stephanie’s body locked in his trunk. Because when your annoying girlfriend dies, you might as well keep their body as a memento! It’s a lesson for everyone!

But of course, Diane has one thing left to do. Kill Lois.

Retrieved from CutawayGuyHD (YouTube)

Peter comes in the room, asks Lois if she’s on her way, and adds the notion that he wants to listen to tapes, but he can’t do that without the car key. Diane says she and Lois are going to take a quick walk. So Peter just asks for the key.

Retrieved from CutawayGuyHD (YouTube)

Lois awkwardly hands the key, Peter runs out of the room, and Lois is forced to follow Diane’s orders. Realization sets in that these may be Lois’s final moments. She and Diane walk to the back of the property, they stumble upon a cliff. Diane is set for the kill.

LOIS: Diane, please! You don’t have to do this! I won’t tell anybody, I swear to god!

DIANE: That’s right, you won’t. Goodbye, Lois.

By the way, the music here is glorious.

*GUNSHOT*

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We zoom out on Lois, looking as normal as ever. Then we cut to a close-up of Diane, who has a bullet through her chest. She falls off a high cliff into the water. This is the last we’ve seen of her since.

Now who killed Diane? Lois didn’t do it! Nobody else was at the scene! So who killed her? Tom Tucker? Joe? Peter? Nope!

Retrieved from CutawayGuyHD (YouTube)

The answer is all kinds of badass, none other than Stewie Griffin himself!

“If anybody’s gonna take that bitch down, it’s gonna be me.”

Not only does this support Stewie being one of the most kick-ass cartoon characters of all time, but from a story standpoint, I am curious to know exactly he did this. I’m not saying there’s a plot hole behind it or anything, but for years, one of the biggest storylines in “Family Guy” history is that Stewie continuously desires to kill his own mother. The series even dedicated a two-part special where Stewie and Lois try to kill each other! This is how far they’ve taken this concept! Now, Stewie subversively SAVES Lois from danger. Why does he do this? Does he love his mother? Does he realize he needs a mother figure in his life? Did Diane piss him off one time? Does he just hate the news? I’m probably asking more questions than I need to! This is a complete twist, but I love it!

Chevapravatdumrong at the San Diego Comic-Con International in July 2017

This episode is written by Cherry Chevapravatdumrong, and she honestly went above and beyond with it. All the characters within this massive cast had a purpose of some kind. Each one a motive, something to do, and unfortunately this episode has quite a few clips that cannot be shown on most TV broadcasts due to timing purposes. So I will definitely recommend you check this episode out if it plays on TBS or Adult Swim or something, but if you have the motivation, buy the DVD. I know the series is on Hulu as well, but I am not sure how long the episode is on there.

And Then There Were Fewer also uses a classical orchestra to its fullest potential, providing for a soundtrack that I still wonder why is not on iTunes or something. The opening theme for this episode is also used in a “Family Guy” mobile game, subtitled “The Quest for Stuff.”

The animation in this episode is incredible. Not only do we get to see everything in high-definition, but they utilize flashy water, crisp skies, and I must say that the manor inside and out is wonderfully detailed. I must say, this being the first episode in widescreen must have really set the tone, because this episode goes long. Not only because it’s an hour, but because there’s so much that goes on. A vast of number of characters! Plot point after plot point! Stakes dialed up to an 11! The episode barely has any dead air.

But I think the best part about this episode is that it relies less on comedy than usual. “Family Guy” is one of my favorite shows of all time, and I will say part of the reason why is because it makes me laugh harder than perhaps any other show I can think of. But when the show can do something different, make me feel emotions, almost get me to tear up WHILE STILL BEING FUNNY, that is a sign of a masterpiece. This thing gives me chills, man! I felt for everyone during the episode. Everyone who wondered if they were the next to die. Those who were perhaps about to die. Maybe not Stephanie, but she was a gag character, so it’s not like I was supposed to get emotionally invested in her. I even felt bad for Diane by the end of it. I understood her motivation despite the reveal that she killed everybody, because I got a sense of her struggle. This is a character that has appeared every now and then on the show, and to see her at this point, where she defends herself for her deadly actions, is kind of hauntingly beautiful.

But just a reminder, the most important thing we all learned in this episode iiiiiissssss…

“Derek lifted up the Hollywood sign.” -Peter Griffin

Don’t you forget it!

In the end, And Then There Were Fewer is incredibly rewatchable, insanely beautiful, and provides perhaps the greatest blend of comedy and emotion in the entire series. Characters develop, thus allowing the show to develop down the road. It’s something I kind of wish this show would do more. Yes, it said goodbye to a few characters, but with an ending like this, comes a new beginning. We say goodbye to Diane Simmons, but now we have Joyce Kinney. They say change is inevitable, but I think “Family Guy” handles such an inevitability brilliantly. And Then There Were Fewer to this day, officially ten years after it came out, is my favorite “Family Guy” episode, and may just be my favorite television episode of all time.

You want to know how good this episode is? Even Seth MacFarlane himself says that this is favorite episode!

“I think this is my favorite episode of the series. A classic format, great-looking direction, and, I hope, a genuinely surprising ending. It was also the first episode to air in HD. It was really cool to finally see Lois’ pores.” -Seth MacFarlane (Retrieved from: Seth MacFarlane Reveals His 20 Favorite ‘Family Guy’ Episodes)

If the creator says its the best, that says something! Also goes to show that great minds think alike!

Today, “Family Guy” is continuously losing steam despite a few great episodes here and there. Although I will give the show credit for being a pioneer in adult animation for going where say “The Simpsons” can’t, and essentially making the cutaway gag a trademark. Season 19, not to mention the show’s 350th episode, is set to premiere on Fox tomorrow. I will most likely be watching, but “And Then There Were Fewer” is an episode that reminds me of what makes this series so watchable. The characters, the storylines, the brilliant writing. It all comes together beautifully. I will be looking forward to season 19 of “Family Guy,” not to mention the recently announced seasons 20 and 21. But I long for the day where “Family Guy” makes an episode as good as this. Although, just remember one thing, and one thing only.

“Derek lifted up the Hollywood sign.” -Peter Griffin

It’s in the picture!

Thanks for reading this post! It’s not every day that I decide to talk about television, but I figured since And Then There Were Fewer turns ten today, that would make for a good opportunity to do a post like this. But if you are interested in my movie content, feel free to check out my review for “Tenet!” Or, as some call it, the only movie in theaters right now! I’m not sure when I’ll get to talk about TV again. Maybe when another streaming service comes out or something, but we shall see. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! You know what grinds my gears? The fact that more people are not checking out my Facebook page! So do yourself a favor, and check out the official Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, did you ever watch the “Family Guy” episode titled And Then There Were Fewer? What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite “Family Guy” episode? As of today, you have 349 to choose from, which is quite a buttload! Leave your freakin’ comments down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

HBO Max: First Thoughts

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Before we begin this post, I just want to remind you all that next month is going to have a movie-based theme. I will not go into it, but for the sake of having content and not having to worry about talking about how crappy the world is, that’s what’s happening. Also, while I do share my thoughts on HBO Max right here, you can also check out my half-hour long video of my first day with the service. If you want to check it out, click down below and if you like the video, feel free to subscribe to my YouTube channel, which will have an all-new Blu-ray collection update coming this June!

PLEASE NOTE: If this is buggy, the video is currently being processed for copyright reasons.

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Here’s a post you don’t see often! Me talking about a streaming service! As you know, I have a large physical media collection, one in which I don’t plan on getting rid of ANYTIME soon. But today, we are going to be talking about the new streaming service HBO Max.

HBO Max is marketed as a platform “where HBO meets so much more.” Essentially, if you have HBO Now, it’s basically that, but with more shows and a purple background! Heck, it’s even the same price at $14.99/month! Although I did find a discount that let me get it for $11.99/month, so yay! Discounts! By the way, that discount is no longer available as it is a pre-order offer.

You get all sorts of old and new HBO content including movies and TV series. From everything to the fantastical, dark realms of “Game of Thrones” to a display of our reality within “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.” There are also new original shows on the service as well that you cannot get anywhere else. One of the most notable titles is “Love Life,” starring Anna Kendrick, which dropped three episodes to the service on day one. It still has more episodes remaining, all of which are supposed to drop later on. Also joining the club with “Love Life” is “Craftopia,” a competition where 9 to 15 year old contestants get creative and try to take home the “Craftrophia.” You also have all new “Looney Tunes Cartoons,” a staple of the Warner library for years with brand new episodes. Plus “On the Record,” which centers around Drew Dixon, a former A&R executive. When it comes to originals and exclusives, the lineup does not intrigue me. But there is plenty more coming in the future including “The Flight Attendant” starring Kaley Cuoco, “Raised by Wolves,” exectuive produced by Ridley Scott, and there’s even continuations of past IPs such as an all new season of “Search Party,” which started as a TBS original, but will now be releasing new episodes via HBO Max.

I like the selection of outside content this service is starting out with. It’s got all twelve seasons of “The Big Bang Theory,” four seasons of “Impractical Jokers,” the Without Borders specials of “Conan,” and even though I haven’t sat through a whole episode yet, “Rick and Morty” is also on the service, and I have always been wanting to check that out. Plus, for those of you who smashed your television set once “Friends” was taken off of Netflix, you are in luck as HBO Max now has the entire series on their service. However, if you were going to watch the planned “Friends” reunion special, well that’s impossible at this point as production was halted due to COVID-19.

The service has individual libraries including Crunchyroll, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Turner Classic Movies, and DC. For those of you who are DC fans, a lot of the big players are there when it comes to movies including “Wonder Woman,” “Aquaman,” “Shazam,” “Supergirl,” “Joker,” and “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” However, when it comes to missing titles, some big ones are unfortunately not on the service. Including “Man of Steel,” Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy, and “Superman: The Movie.” Keep in mind that other services have these movies including Netflix and the separate DC Universe streaming service. Given how this new HBO Max service has shows including “Doom Patrol” on it, it would not surprise me if DC Universe fizzles out and HBO Max picks up a lot of the load that DC Universe left over. It’ll probably take shows like “Harley Quinn” or “Titans” and maybe implement them in the DC section. Given how HBO Max is trying to be a colossal service full of content, why not have these DC shows, which are likely being presented to a somewhat niche market be given to a wider audience? I would like to watch the new “Harley Quinn” show, but I don’t need another subscription to do it. As for other DC TV shows, HBO Max also has CW’s “Batwoman,” Cartoon Newtork’s “Teen Titans,” and HBO’s own “Watchmen.”

As for movies, HBO originals make a presence, including the recently released “Bad Education” starring Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney. But a lot of the movies present are either from Warnermedia in some capacity including all the “Harry Potter” films, minus the first “Fantastic Beasts” installment, the “Lord of the Rings” franchise, “The LEGO Movie,” “King Kong,” and “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Also included are a bunch of movies that you can find airing on the HBO airwaves regardless of who owns it including “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw,” “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum,” “Die Hard,” “Alita: Battle Angel,” “American Pie,” “Madagascar,” and “Stuber.” So while this is basically a Warner Bros. streaming service, it is welcoming other distributors and outlets to join the party, which if you are going to have a variety of content like this, it kind of makes the $14.99/month price worthwhile. Disney+ is $6.99/month, which kind of makes sense as it only seems to be catering to particular demographics. If you are a fan of “Star Wars,” Marvel, Pixar, or if you have a kid, Disney+ is for you. But HBO is more on the side of Netflix where they have content for everybody, including some of the most adult media of all time. But if you want to put on say “Sesame Street” or “Adventure Time” or “Scooby-Doo” or “Happy Feet Two” for the kiddos, it’s good for that too.

Now for a few negatives, I will point out that a variety of platforms will be getting HBO Max including Chromecast, PS4, Xbox One, Apple TV, newer Samsung Smart TVs, as a YouTube TV addon, and so on. But of the range in platforms available for HBO Max viewing, two of them ARE NOT Amazon Fire and Roku. Keep in mind, the other HBO apps, specifically HBO Now and HBO Go are still availabe on these devices but HBO Max is not as there is currently no deal that will allow HBO Max onboard. I would also be willing to bet if there is ever a case where HBO Max does wind up on those platforms that it will go in HBO Now’s place given how the services are basically the same thing but one has more content. Also, I will point out that I get a lot of my media on my Sony Android 4K HDR television, which DOES get HBO Max, thankfully. But one of the things that I noticed that was missing at launch happened to be options for 4K. This sort of surprised me as a lot of the movies already on the service happen to be able on 4K elsewhere, including through physical media. Plus, while HBO does not necessarily have a 4K channel setup through regular television, they do have 4K content. A couple of seasons of “Game of Thrones” are available on 4K Blu-ray, and the same goes for “Westworld.” Going back to Disney+’s $6.99/month asking price, I will also point out that while the library is smaller and catering to a niche demographic, one of the pros of the service is that there’s plenty of 4K content available and there is no extra cost for it unlike services such as Netflix, in which you have to upgrade to their premium package if you have a lower tier. Maybe 4K will be a future implementation, but 4K TVs in general have been getting cheaper year after year so I figured HBO might want to start keeping up with these times a little bit. Again, as much as I think HBO Max will serve me well overtime, I see benefits to my physical media collection which I have spent years building. Yes, I can go watch “Wonder Woman” with the push of a button through HBO Max, but what if I want to watch it on 4K? Boom! I got the disc! That and I don’t need internet for it! Booyah! I will also point out, even though HBO Max has a variety of content that I am willing to watch, there’s a lot that I wish they had. Even though I already own it physically, I noticed that one of the key movies they were going to put on the service were those of the “Matrix” franchise. In fact, if you watch promos for HBO Max, you’d know that “The Matrix” was a core player in those promos. It’s kind of weird how it’s not on the service! The only “Matrix” property on HBO Max as of writing this is “Animatrix,” otherwise known as the one “Matrix” thing nobody talks about. It’s kind of bonkers!

Oh yeah, and I am looking forward to the Snyder Cut. If you asked me, I personally enjoyed the 2017 “Justice League” film more than most people and I will not deny that I had fun with it. But getting an alternate version of the film that may line up more with what the director could have originally put out does excite me. I wish it would also physically come out on Blu-ray and 4K as it would be nice to have on disc, but only time will tell.

I want to know, HBO Max just recently launched, but what are your thoughts on the service? Are you enjoying it so far? What have you watched on it? Why did you get HBO Max? To watch “Game of Thrones” again and be disappointed with the final season once more? To watch “Friends” in a time where you literally cannot hang out with friends? To watch real REAL CINEMA like “Casablanca” or “Citizen Kane?” Where does HBO Max rank for you in a world with seventy thousand streaming options available to buy? Let me know down below! Speaking of things down below, if you want to check out HBO Max for yourself and maybe sign up, go to the link below the paragraph!

HBO Max

Thanks for reading this post! Here’s a weird thing to talk about in a post about a brand new streaming service! Physical media! Coming soon, for my 400th post, I’m going to be providing an all new update on my Blu-ray collection, which will contain new movies, but the same movie reviewing moron talking about them all! I will be doing it in video form on my YouTube channel but I will also be talking about it on here and sharing the video for you all to watch. To check this out along with other great content, be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, maximize your time by liking my Facebook page, otherwise known as that thing you’ll be checking when you’re distracted from whatever you’re watching on HBO Max. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Impractical Jokers: The Movie (2020): All Other Movies Can Suck It

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WARNING: The following blog post contains paragraphs of graphic fanaticism among a Movie Reviewing Moron who writes to avoid embarrassing himself.

Da-na-du-dun!

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“Impractical Jokers: The Movie” is directed by Chris Henchy, a name behind the scenes on various Will Ferrell titles and co-creator of the website, Funny or Die, one of the production companies behind this movie. The film stars Joe Gatto, James Murray, Brian Quinn, and Sal Vulcano as the four Jokers that pull pranks on unsuspecting people all the while trying to embarrass each other. Joining them is Paula Abdul, who is throwing a party in Miami. She invites the Jokers to come down to the party, but due to how they are missing an extra ticket, the four lifelong friends compete against each other to see who will and who won’t go to the party. Given how there’s four people, the one big loser sits out.

If you know me, it would not be that much of a secret that I adore the “Impractical Jokers” TV show. It is probably the best thing on TV right now that is not a game show. I’ve watched the show, I’ve been to their live comedy gigs, I’ve bought their merch, and I have personally talked to one of them up close. These humble gentlemen honestly deserve every solitary speck of success they can get. They may play cruel boys on TV, but trust me, they are some of the finest men I have seen in my life.

With this in mind, this brings up a problem that I will continue to highlight in this review. Not with the movie specifically, but with me reviewing the movie. Although my review process could admittedly, end up translating to what I think of the film. I am an “Impractical Jokers” fan. As a fan, there are certain expectations that I am waiting to have fulfilled. I want fun challenges that are purely hilarious. I want the four guys interacting with each other, maybe having a good time, or getting angry at one another. But I was honestly curious not only how an “Impractical Jokers” movie could work, but if it will work. After all, the equipment they use for television works for what it is, but I wondered if that is what they’d use for the movie. I have no idea what the movie is shot with, but they did a good job in terms of differentiating this film in terms of appearance from the TV show. It looks bolder, the color grading looks really good, and it still maintains a similar feel to the show itself. After all, the aspect ratio looks similar and the on-screen graphics are within the same barrier, while having some differences.

Speaking of similarities, I think like the TV show, the movie is really good. Now, there are several episodes of the show I’d probably rather watch again before this movie, but “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” is a fun trip from start to finish. “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” is a film that knows exactly what the fans want. Great challenges, a fine display of chemistry between the four Jokers, and “in the moment” stakes. Honestly, it’s funnier than a good portion of the recent comedies to have come out. Why? Because like the show, this movie tries its best to be raw. During the challenges, I felt a connection to the guys. The reason why “Impractical Jokers” as a concept works so well is because these guys are not pranking because they want to be jerks. Scour them in real life, they’re wonderful! but they highlight how scary pranking unsuspecting people really is.

However, this also brings a flaw into play. I will admit, even though I did enjoy the road trip bits, that is the inferior portion of the film. The reason being is because “Impractical Jokers” becomes reliant on a written script. “Impractical Jokers” is at its best when it is spontaneous, because I cannot see exactly what is coming. The best thing about the real lives of Joe, Q, Sal, and Murr is that you cannot write what happens next, making you willing to go along with what is happening as if everything was improv. When I was watching “Impractical Jokers: The Movie,” I noticed a few scenes that took place in hotels, and they specifically focused on Murr. The movie basically could have left out those scenes and barely affect the final product perhaps.

I will probably end up remembering this movie for how far it goes with its challenges. I am not going to go into all of them, because you know, spoilers. But they teased one scene online involving a tiger. INSANELY AWESOME. I cannot go into specific detail about it, but it is one of those things you kind of have to see to believe.

Speaking of things you have to see to believe, Murr faces a challenge that he called the most embarrassing moment of his life. All I can say is that it takes place in a club. That scene alone is worth the price of admission, because I lost my ability to breathe from laughing so hard at such a scene.

And of course, the guys are charismatic and relatable. They are legit best friends and this movie made me feel like the fifth Joker joining the ride alongside them. Each Joker has their moment, especially considering how this movie takes the time to insert multiple dedicated punishments. Each one of these is as great as the next and some of these I cannot even talk about because I need to guarantee that everyone going into the theater will laugh as uncontrollably as I did while watching it.

I will also mention once again, I am an “Impractical Jokers” fan, and as a fan, I have been impressed by what I saw. I enjoyed myself from beginning to end. But that brings a question… How much would this movie appeal to people who have never seen the show?

One of the things about “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” that I personally enjoyed is its tendency to deliver on inside jokes. There are cameos from people who are heavily affiliated with the show, there’s a “Where’s Larry?” joke, and even a mention of “Up your ass, and to the left,” one of the show’s commonly used phrases.

But this movie, based on what I have heard, was mainly made for the “Impractical Jokers” fanbase, which I believe is quite honestly an underestimated fanbase. One of the issues that can come from that is the fact that there seems to be an inserted sense of exclusivity. As a fan, I had fun with this tribute of sorts, but I still wondered what the average Joe (whose last name is not Gatto) would think of it. I think if you are not familiar with the “Impractical Jokers” show, you can have a good time with this movie. The guys are likable, but the road trip elements could be a little bit iffy. Plus, Paula Abdul is someone in this film that I am surprised I am not talking about more. It is at its core, FUN. And of course, pranks are not for everybody. I have grandparents who probably won’t watch stuff like this. I get it, no biggie. I think if you go into this movie expecting to chill with four friends on screen who maybe you’ll want to befriend yourself, this could be a movie for you. If you have never seen the show, some things could fly over your head, but the movie does stick to a story that many can enjoy. Maybe this movie will end up being swell enough for you to want to check out the show on television. It’s on literally all the time on truTV, so if this film is good enough in the theater, it could translate to how much you’d like the show on television.

I will say though, as much as I enjoyed how “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” differentiates itself from the show instead of just simply being an extended episode of the property, although ultimately brought to the big screen, it’s also a detractor. If I were to make another movie in this franchise, which I do want to see, I wish there was a tremendous focus that goes to what makes the show great, and if they were to have a subplot again that steers away from challenges, I wish it just had a little more dimension. Granted, the concept is intriguing. Having the jokers resolve an incident from high school was a pretty good idea, but for some reason, based on the sudden steer from reality at certain times, it just didn’t pay off every once in a while. I don’t know why. Again, when I think “Impractical Jokers,” I think of “in the moment” challenges, I don’t think of extended plots. Speaking of which, I get that this movie does have to make money, and I’m not suggesting “Don’t support it,” but there was one scene that felt like it was made for television. Why? Because it censors nudity. “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” is PG-13, and has some language to back it up. But there is a scene shown in the marketing where Murr is getting on a boat and his butt is revealed. Only thing is, it is censored by a graphic of Murr’s face. Should “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” have been rated R? I’m not so sure, but it would make some parts of this movie somewhat juicier. But again, gotta make that money! Besides, the show itself is TV-14, so by the movie being PG-13, it sort of does attract a similar audience. Maybe they ultimately made the right move. Does this take away from the buttload of fun I had with the movie? HELL NO! I dug this film! That my friends, is no joke!

In the end, “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” is a fun film. In fact as of this review, I saw it twice! Is the road trip plot a little lackluster? Sort of, but the guys make up for the lackluster plot by being themselves. Four breathtaking dudes who have a connection. The movie does a good job at adapting the source material for the big screen, allowing it to feel like a separate entity from truTV’s long-running program. The challenges are gutbustingly funny, there is a sense of replay value that could be achieved with this film over time (again, I saw it twice), and there seems to be a lot of passion put into the final product. Now, the movie would definitely be better if they heightened the situations a A LITTLE LESS, and if I cared more about the recently mentioned road trip stuff, but I can probably confirm that when I look back at 2020 in film, this will be one of the year’s funniest flicks. I’m going to give “Impractical Jokers: The Movie” a 7/10.

Thanks for reading this review! Just want to let you all know that my next review is going to be for “Emma,” directed by Autumn de Wilde and starring Anya Taylor-Joy. The film is based on a Jane Austen novel and is being marketed as a new vision of the classic tale. What do I think of it? Find out in my next review by following Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account! Another way to find out is by liking my Facebook page, and supporting Mark Zuckerberg’s quest for world domination of all mankind. I want to know, did you see “Impractical Jokers: The Movie?” What did you think about it? Or, who is your favorite Joker? You know, what the hell? I’ll even count Batman Jokers! Who is your favorite Impractical Joker? Or who is your favorite on-screen interpretation of the Joker character from DC’s Batman? Let me know down below, or you’ll be tonight’s big loser! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

NFL at AMC Theatres: Is It a Touchdown?

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! As an American, there is no denying that during this time of year, football is one of the priorities of most people around me. Personally speaking, I think it is a complete waste of time and nothing more than grown men hitting each other over a brown object. It does have its moments, but football is obnoxious to the point of insanity at times, and sports are not my thing in general. Granted, I live in New England, which would mean I would be somewhat pressured to celebrate my “culture of victory” from time to time, but it doesn’t mean I enjoy football as a sport. That being said, I come from a country that seems to put football over literally anything else, so I find it to be no surprise that AMC Theatres is planning to capitalize on the sport.

While we aren’t getting a thousand football-oriented movies right now, we are in the middle of the current NFL season. And during this season, AMC is planning on showing football games at select theaters on Sundays. Keep in mind, I said select theaters, there’s a chance that the closest AMC to your house might not be taking part in this.

What are the requirements?

First, you must be an AMC Stubs member. It doesn’t matter what level you’re subscribed to. If you don’t want to waste any money on a membership, you can snatch a Stubs Insider ID for free. The other membership levels, Premiere and A-List, come with more perks, but also with higher prices.

Second, you don’t have to buy a ticket to watch a football game in the theater, BUT if you want to sit down in the theater and watch the game, you need to spend at least $10 on food. I think this manages to make a lick of sense, because let’s say you are watching a game at your house. You might intend on ordering food sometimes like wings or pizza. Or you go outside of the house to a bar and buy food. This is AMC’s equivalent to that, because let’s face it, food and sports have gone together since the dawn of time. That, and food is how AMC usually makes its money as opposed to tickets.

Also, keep in mind that these are for SUNDAY GAMES ONLY. Typically, NFL games are played on Sunday, so this doesn’t seem to be much of an issue, but if you were say looking forward to this Monday’s game between the Bears and the Redskins and planned on catching it at an AMC, don’t get your hopes up.

One interesting thing about this concept is that on AMC’s website, users can vote for which teams or games they would like to see. This is sort of surprising, because I figured AMC would already have these games preplanned. Because when you go to a local bar, you’d most likely expect them to have at least one TV playing the “local” game. If you go to a bar in Boston, you’d expect to see a Patriots game. If you go to a bar in Philadelphia, you’d expect to see an Eagles game. If you go to a bar in Miami, you’d expect to see a Dolphins game. Keep these thoughts in mind by the way…

On the list of theaters testing this out, there are three in my area, specifically the Boston/Massachusetts markets, showing NFL programming: AMC DINE-IN Framingham 14, AMC Liberty Tree Mall 20, and AMC Methuen 20. One surprise about this to me however regards the state of New York. If you look on the website showing all of the participating theaters, not one happens to be in New York, which surprises me since it is such a highly populated state. Not one theater in even New York City, of all places, happens to be doing this? If you want, you can drive down to Edison, NJ which has the AMC DINE-IN Menlo Park 12 but I am not here to control your life.

Another thing I noticed that may get some people excited is that the games seem to all be in reclined theaters. Of the three recently mentioned theaters, they all have the leather reclining seats that go back to make you feel like you are in your living room. I feel like that was intended because one of the disadvantages of a bar for some viewers, from what I would imagine is that the environment could be lively, but they have no choice except to sit in a a less than comfortable chair (depending on the occasion) or to stand. This does suggest that the games will be shown in theaters that do not have the largest capacities in the AMC chain, but there is no doubt that the environment will be comfortable.

One slight inconvenience about this idea however is that if you want to get tickets, you can’t do it a week in advance or even a few days in advance if you really wanted to. Why? Because times for NFL games at AMC locations are listed every Friday evening. And since AMC only airs Sunday games, this gives you a maximum of perhaps two full days to snag tickets.

To be honest though, if you are a football fan and are picky about your teams or will only choose to support whatever team is close to you, you won’t always get what you want. Because let’s take the three theaters I brought up in the Boston area, they are airing multiple games at different times, and their schedules are not exactly the same. That’s fine, I actually like the variety factor, but not a single one of those theaters is airing a Patriots game! And you may be wondering, “Hey, Jackass! New England is a combination of several states, what about those other states? Do they get Patriots games?” From what I’m seeing on AMC’s website, it doesn’t look like they will be showing any NFL games in states like Connecticut or New Hampshire to begin with. In fact, as I scroll through the markets, it seems that just about nobody is going to get their local time. Want to go to an AMC in Dallas? Boom! No Cowboys games! Want to go check out a game at an AMC in Miami? Sorry, no Dolphins games! Oh, how about San Francisco? There’s a 49ers game this Sunday! AMC Manteca and AMC Metreon are airing some games! One of them has to be with the 49ers! NOPETY-NOPETY-NOOOOOO.

Now let me just point out one thing, there is a disclaimer on AMC’s website that says the following:

“Game selection varies by participating theatre location, local teams will not be shown.”

Before these games were even announced, I did manage to see said disclaimer. I thought that suggested maybe “local town teams” such as those commonly represented in local high-school football leagues or something. Turns out, they meant local NFL teams. According to NFL local TV station blackout rules, airing local games at certain theaters would interfere with the exclusivity of the local stations. I personally think this is going to hurt AMC a little. I say that because why wouldn’t a fan obsessed with their local sports team take a 10 to 30 minute drive to see them play on the big screen? Although at the same time, I wonder if this will provide an opportunity to several people who live far from where their local team play. If you live in the Atlanta area but happen to be a fan of say the Houston Texans, than you have the opportunity to check them out in a stadium-like vibe at the AMC Colonial 18 located in Lawrenceville. It would either take an extended road trip or a flight to Houston to go see them play in person, specifically with a seemingly common audience, which makes something like what AMC is doing a good deal for certain fans, especially for $10.

I gotta ask. What do you think about this? Even though there are no local teams playing at certain theaters. Is this enough to get you off the couch and see a game on the big screen? Are you in the middle with all of this? Or is this all a big fumble to you? Let me know your thoughts! Thanks for reading this post! This weekend is the release of “Ad Astra,” and to be honest, I’m not quite sure if I’m gonna be able to catch it by the end of Sunday. So if that’s the case, I do have a small amount of time I could waste before going into school for an evening class on Tuesday, so I’ll probably end up seeing it then. Also, “Joker” tickets just went on sale, so I officially have priorities regarding that movie as well. Be sure to follow Scene Before, and check out the Scene Before Facebook page so you can stay tuned for more great content! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019): Dumb Dora Is So Dumb…

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“Dora and the Lost City of Gold” is directed by James Bobin (The Muppets, Alice Through the Looking Glass) and stars Isabela Moner (Transformers: The Last Knight, Instant Family), Eugenio Derbez (How to Be a Latin Lover, Overboard), Michael Peña (Ant-Man, End of Watch), Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives, The Sentinel), and Danny Trejo (Machete, Spy Kids). This film is based on the Nickelodeon cartoon “Dora the Explorer,” where a young girl and her monkey companion, Boots, go on adventures together, sing, encounter obstacles, including a fox named Swiper (played here by Benicio Del Toro). All the while, there are fourth wall breaks that involve encouraging children to talk to the screen, occasionally in Spanish. In this film, we get to know Dora as a teenager who lives in the jungle, but she recently learns she has to adapt to a more urbanized lifestyle and go to high school. This eventually leads to an adventure with her newfound friends and her cousin, Diego.

I was born at the tail end of the 1990s, I was raised through the 2000s. It was perhaps inevitable that “Dora the Explorer” would be a part of my childhood in some way, shape, or form. Granted, it was not my goto program at the time. That was more of my sister’s thing, but I did have some interest here and there at the very least. Therefore, I would say, while not calling it the epitome of my nostalgic roots, it did sort of fit somewhere into some of my more prominent childhood memories and experiences. So when I saw the trailers for this film, and granted, even before that, when I was hearing news about this film’s production, part of me was even wondering how it was getting made. Yes, “Dora” is an iconic IP and it does well with children, but I honestly wondered how this could even work as a film. Granted, upon seeing updates, I would say the crew got some things right. They did cast an OK Dora and she looked pretty similar to her cartoon counterpart. But I gotta be honest, the trailers did nothing for me. It all felt like a warning sign for the death of my childhood. And ultimately, that’s what this movie kind of is. It took something I knew from my childhood and split its head open.

Remember “Transformers?” Remember “The Smurfs?” Remember “Alvin and the Chipmunks?” None of those IPs were ever a part of my life before I watched their live-action film adaptations. Therefore when I first checked them out, I never had a part of my life affected. I never felt offended through a link to nostalgia by these types of films. I did however feel offended as to how bad “The Smurfs” turned out, but still. “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” was a movie where I knew the source material behind it, so basically I was taking a trip back in time. And this is sort of what the movie felt like at times. There are tons of homages to the original material, there are a couple fourth wall breaks, and some of the songs that they use in the movie are from the TV show. But let me just say this, there are certain parts of the show, core elements in fact, where I look back on them, I somehow cringe. The theme song is fitting, but catchy to the point that I would rather listen to “Baby Shark” or some other crap. As an adult, it is somewhat weird to go back to such a phase of my childhood where I was learning Spanish from a girl who doesn’t even use a map by herself. This is why when Dora would break the fourth wall, I would cringe and put my head in my large popcorn bucket! Granted, this is somewhat more adult-friendly than the cartoon, but nevertheless, the movie’s pretty stinkin’ cringeworthy!

It’s almost like “Batman & Robin” merged together with a Michael Bay movie. Between the stale humor and one-dimensional characters, that sort of statement makes sense. In fact, what adds even more sense into the mix is that when this movie was in development, news sites have reported about Michael Bay’s involvement.

None of this is true, by the way.

However, this film was directed by James Bobin, who has some other family-oriented entertainment on his resume including 2011’s “The Muppets,” its 2014 sequel, “Muppets: Most Wanted,” and “Alice Through the Looking Glass.” Now collective reactions would suggest that Bobin didn’t stick the landing 100% of the time, but nevertheless, he’s at least had experience. And to be fair, I saw “Muppets: Most Wanted” back in 2014, directed by Bobin, and I was impressed with what I saw. It was wacky, hilarious, and fun. I’ll give credit to Bobin because I think he did the best he could with the directing job. The movie is upbeat, has a quick pace, and it never feels like anyone has an off performance. Sadly, when you put the script into play, that’s a different story. While the film is a homage to the source material, it doesn’t mean it comes off as compelling or interesting. I will say, the script does have some excellent lines from Dora’s character that make her look like an absolute savage. Dora in this movie at times is almost like a female Sheldon Cooper, it’s bonkers! But aside from a few funny lines here and there, the script does nothing to justify its existence. I buy into the plot for the most part, I think as far as the story itself goes, there are barely any problematic complaints I could make. But various characters we get to know throughout the film feel like they have no chemistry. I’ll also mention that some characters have unearned moments I won’t get into.

Sure, I just mentioned the movie can be funny. But it doesn’t mean it’s always funny, in some cases, it’s really freaking annoying! There’s this one joke where Michael Peña talks to Dora about city life, which leads him to bringing up the concept of dancing. This leads to an explanation of the music they play during community dances where a DJ tends to get involved, and the joke becomes as old as dirt because Peña’s character won’t stop rambling about the subject matter! We get it! Move on! Stop torturing me!

By the way, this movie establishes that Dora likes to sing. Ultimately, this isn’t surprising. After all, there’s a ton of singing in the cartoon. In this movie, Dora sings… A LOT, and it gets annoying. Not only does she take part in singing songs from the cartoon that certain frequent viewers have come to recognize over the years, but there is also this one song that is shown in the movie. Guess what it’s about? Well, what do kids think is the ultimate joke in comedy? Poop jokes of course! There is a song in this movie about taking dumps! Holy s*it! No pun intended! This… I want to–My brain–…Just freaking kill me! This movie sucks! OK? This takes a lack of intelligence to a whole new level! GAH!

And this brings me to something that this movie has in common with a movie like “The Smurfs.” “Dora the Explorer” has always taken place in a somewhat fantastical setting, but we never really see her in a world that comes off as realistic. The original source material for “The Smurfs” has been the same way, but in the live-action movie Sony made in 2011, it was decided that they would come to our world, making New York City the epicenter of the entire film. Seeing “The Smurfs” interact with normal people in New York, including Neil Patrick Harris, was off-putting to say the least. In this movie, I kind of got a similar vibe. Dora states she’s from “the jungle,” a jungle which according to this movie, is still on Earth. But her interactions with fellow high schoolers and others are kind of weird and full of cringe at times. But hey! If the kids like it, why change it?

Because then the movie will be smart? Bah! Screw that!

Although I will say, there was one interesting moment of the movie that was sort of a homage to the original material that I dug. It was kind of weird, but also intriguing. I won’t go into it, but if you have seen the movie “Booksmart” and know about the scene where the two main girls have to climb a bureau, this reminded me a little bit of that. It’s wacky, but it’s also a tribute to what “Dora” followers have come to recognize over the years. It doesn’t make up for the rest of crap this movie makes me go through, but it’s there.

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There’s a scene where Swiper’s pretty badass. The movie’s got that going for it. But what else? What have we done to deserve this filth?!

In the end, “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” put me in what I like to call a “torture chamber of my childhood.” “Dora the Explorer” was not my goto show as a child, but this movie did take me back to my childhood. Doesn’t mean it didn’t sully my childhood at times! I think the cast did the best they could, I think the direction was somewhat tolerable, but the screenplay is less than satisfactory, the singing got on my nerves at times, and there are a couple of moments where I almost dozed off due to near boredom. I may not be in the right demographic for a film like this, but it doesn’t mean I cannot judge the film the way I see it. And the way I see it, would not happen to be through the best lens. I’m going to give “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” a 3/10. Thanks for reading this review! This weekend is the release of “It: Chapter Two,” I’m hoping to see it before the end of Sunday, but only time will tell as to whether or not I get around to such a thing. If you want to see more of my content, consider following Scene Before through an email or WordPress account, or even checking out the Scene Before Facebook page! Or, just browse for free! I don’t care, it’s your life. You do you. I want to know, did you see “Dora and the Lost City of Gold?” What did you think about it? Or, did you ever watch “Dora the Explorer?” Were you a young child? A parent? A critic? Whoever you may be, tell me your thoughts on the series! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Marvel Cinematic Universe PHASE 4 Plans Announced

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Hey everyone! Jack Drees here! You thought we were in the endgame? Think again, because, to my lack of surprise, as well as others perhaps, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is not going anywhere, and as part of this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, Kevin Feige and crew have officially announced their gameplan going forward in regards to movies and television. While I could not make it to San Diego this year (just like every other year), I had the pleasure of receiving a number of these announcements through social media, which is something Captain Marvel should have brushed up on by now.

This first announcement, doesn’t relate to what some would call “phase 4,” but it happens around that certain timeline and takes place in the same universe, so why not leave it in? Anyway, as you may or may not know, Marvel is finishing up their series “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..” It’s a series that I tried watching when it first started, but for one reason or another, I just couldn’t latch onto it. It just didn’t work for me. The show will begin its seventh season during the 2019-20 television season, and will air for 13 episodes. However, if you are caught up with the series, you’d know that season 6 is still in progress, so the show still has time left before ABC dusts it away from its current lineup.

Speaking of television, Marvel in general is seemingly changing the norm of how they release their television programming. Before now, they would release various MCU-related content on ABC such as the recently mentioned “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Agent Carter,” and the short-lived “Inhumans.” Netflix also had a fair share of content, all of which was recently cancelled such as “Iron Fist,” “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage,” and to what I believe is to a lot of people’s surprise, “Daredevil.” These platforms, for all I know, could lose the ability to air new Marvel content for awhile whereas the TV channel Freeform, and streaming services Hulu and the yet to be released Disney+ are going to be the big three for some time. Speaking of Disney+, Marvel announced a plethora of shows to be exclusively released on the upcoming service.

For the record, Disney+ is expected to be released during the fall. So just a reminder, none of these shows will be available on day one.

The first show to premiere on Disney+ is going to be “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.” As you can tell by the title, the series revolves around the known characters played by actors Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan. It is expected to start filming October 2019 and premiere in August 2020. While there are not many details about the series just yet, Mackie and Stan have previously wanted to do their own spinoff film at some point, particularly in the style of a buddy cop story. So who knows? Maybe this series could have some sort of comedic buddy vibe. But only time will tell.

Moving onto 2021 programming, up next we have “WandaVision,” which is short for the characters Wanda Maximoff and Vision meshed together. This series is going to star actors Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany as the characters we have previously come to know throughout the Infinity Saga. Although I must point out. This takes place after “Avengers: Endgame,” and Vision died in “Infinity War” only to never come back to life. So my question is… How will they allow him to return? Let me guess, time travel. Because now if the Marvel universe has a problem. Boop! You got a time machine! Want to save Nick Fury from losing an eye? Boom! You got a a time machine! Want to stop Tony Stark’s home from being destroyed like it was in “Iron Man 3?” Boom! You got a time machine! Want to give Captain America the most advanced pop culture lessons of his life? Boom! You got a time machine! Granted, there’s probably more to it, but a time travel element would not be surprising. The show will hit Disney+ in Spring 2021.

Also coming in Spring 2021 is a “Loki” series. Without going into much detail, because this does involve a spoiler for “Avengers: Endgame,” which as of writing this, is still in theaters, it will involve a Loki of the past. That’s all I’ll say. The series will of course star Tom Hiddleston. I don’t know if I am going to watch any of these series, but I think out of all the series on this list, I feel like this is the one I’d be least likely to watch. It almost seems like an idea from a think tank meeting (even though a number of these shows feel the same way). “Remember that mysterious guy from ‘Thor’ who keeps dying and coming back to life? Nobody knows if he’s good or evil? Let’s not deal with any new characters, let’s use this guy some more! Yay!” The way I wrote that sounds generous, but when I imagine it, it sounds like a business meeting all involving out of shape guys in suits smoking cigars.

OK… I take my last statement back, this is a series I’d probably watch. Granted, I don’t want to pay for Disney+, I don’t see any reason to. Plus, as someone who wants to avoid witnessing Disney’s plan for world domination put into action, I want to spend as little money towards them as possible. Although I kinda do want to go to Disneyland to see Galaxy’s Edge the more I think about it. Nevertheless, the next series is “What If…?” For those of you who don’t know, “What If…?” is a franchise that creates and realizes perhaps unlikely or alternate scenarios related to Marvel characters. Some examples from comics include: “What if the Fantastic Four all had the same power?,” “What if Captain America had been elected president?,” and “What if Jane Foster had found the hammer of Thor?.” While I’m not getting Disney+, if they are ever to release any of these shows on DVD or Blu-ray I am very likely to pick up “What If…?” simply for the concept. The stories presented in the show will not affect the MCU’s timeline, but merely exist just to answer questions through the power of imagination. It is simply something that just provides a unique take of some sort.

Hawkeye in the MCU is an “interesting” character to say the least, because just about every time he appeared in an MCU movie when he first started, I did not care about him as much as the other characters. Then I saw “Endgame” and thought he was one of the best characters of the whole thing. Coincidentally, of the upcoming shows on Disney+, “Hawkeye” is one of them. Also, according to what I have gathered, this series will introduce Kate Bishop, who in the comics is the first woman to earn the Hawkeye title. She’s also a member of the Young Avengers. Here, this show will seemingly spend some time on allowing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye to pass the torch to this younger character. The question is… Will I care about her? Or will she just be another boring bow and arrow fetishist?

That’s it for TV shows. I’ll probably watch NONE of them. Mainly because I feel that the way that everyone is trying to push streaming service upon streaming service towards the consumers is going to eventually make streaming as a whole a significantly worse deal than cable. My family and I have not cut the cord, and honestly, I’m happy. Especially considering how I still have my game shows (streaming IS NOT a good alternative if you are a game show fan for the most part), plus it’s nice to watch a new episode of a show and have it feel like an event, whereas an episode or two of a show, or a whole season, drops on Amazon or Hulu and it’s almost like you unintentionally DVRed something. Plus, I enjoy my livetweeting. It makes me feel like I am part of a community. Another reason why I’ll probably miss out on all these shows is because I REVIEW MOVIES DAMMIT! Movies are a top priority of mine and because I watch and review them excessively, I barely have time for TV. And speaking of movies, let’s reveal what Marvel has planned for that realm of entertainment in phase 4.

First up for movies is a project that I think a good number of people know has been in full swing, “Black Widow.” The plot and details are mostly unknown at this time, but Scarlett Johansson, the woman that I have a crush on who says she should be allowed to play trees, well then, if that’s the case… Vin Diesel? Watch out, you might be fired soon! She is returning as the title character who we have seen in several parts of the MCU such as the “Iron Man,” “Avengers,” and “Captain America” franchises. From speculation, I would imagine this would take place long before the main events of the MCU, kind of like in “Captain Marvel.” I am also willing to bet this will be a grittier film in the franchise (even though they aren’t going for an R rating), while also trying to be fun. After all, Black Widow isn’t really a superhero, kind of like Iron Man, she just plays with toys. And based on what we have seen from her character in comics and movies, this is very likely to be a spy flick. If you ask me, this is not my most anticipated spy-related film of next year, I’d reserve that spot to “Tenet,” directed by Christopher Nolan, but I’ve been eager to see a “Black Widow” solo film for quite some time, so I’m excited!

Plus, ScarJo is a dream girl. Just saying. The film will be released on May 1st, 2020.

Up next is a newcomer to the MCU, specifically, “Eternals.” Some big name actors in the film include Salma Hayek (Grown Ups, Desparado), Kumail Nanjiani (Stuber, Silicon Valley), Angelina Jolie (Kung Fu Panda, Mr. and Mrs. Smith), Richard Madden (Rocketman, Game of Thrones), among others. It is going to be about a bunch of eternally living beings who have spent infinite portions of their lives fighting a force of evil referred to as The Deviants. One character, Makkari, played by Lauren Ridloff is going to be the MCU’s first deaf hero. The film will be released on November 6th, 2020.

The third movie is one that I personally think will be a mega hit at the box office. It’s not to say the others won’t be, but if “Black Panther” from phase 3 has proven anything, it’s that if you put a “visually different” person at the forefront of a superhero project, people will see it. That’s because this movie we’re talking about is “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” I don’t know if the final product will have a title this long, but only time will tell. Then again, it’s not as much of a mouthful as say “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.” The main reason why I’d say this film has a bonkers chance of success is because Shang-Chi is Chinese, and in this film, he is going to be played by Chinese Canadian actor Simu Liu. Not to mention, based on comic-related images I have seen, this movie could be a visual treat. Another thing to consider is the Chinese movie market. If this movie is as visually impressive as I think it will be, not to mention as honorable to the Chinese culture as I think some would want it to be, I think a lot of people will go see this in the theater. China, at least to my knowledge, seems to go to a lot of spectacle type films. Some historical examples that come to mind include “Transformers; Age of Extinction,” which to be fair, was partially shot in China, and “Warcraft.” While “Transformers” is popular in the United States, “Warcraft’s” domestic returns led to its underwhelming final box office total despite making more than twice its budget. But it couldn’t reach the total $450 million needed to completely break even. But if anything has been proven, Marvel is an automatic success in the United States. In the US and Canada, “Black Panther,” a culturally significant film for the African community, managed to make over $700 million, which for those countries specifically, is actually more than “Infinity War.” But with the massive potential for winning over China and perhaps other somewhat related Asian communities, plus Marvel’s domestic success, it has a chance of being possibly a bigger success than “Black Panther.” The movie is scheduled for a February 12th, 2021 release.

Another film I saw coming was “Doctor Strange 2,” and we got it! But it technically has a more specific title, “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.” Based on what I’ve heard, Scott Derrickson could be coming back to direct this sequel. It is also suggested that Benedict Cumberbatch and Benedict Wong, or in this case, just for fun, I’ll call them Team Benedict, will be returning to reprise their roles. One thing that I found interesting though is that Wanda Maximoff will be in the be in the movie as well, and it will be tied directly to the Disney+ series “WandaVision.”

OK… You gotta be kidding me. I know people give flak to DC for how they do their movies, but at least you don’t have to watch a freaking TV show to perhaps understand or comprehend what is happening in one of the DCEU’s films! Guess I’ll just read the Wikipedia entries for the WandaVision episodes, because I ain’t paying for Disney+. But one thing that does intrigue me, is the notion that this is going to be a more horror-esque movie compared to a lot of the other MCU installments. So who knows? Maybe this could have a wacky funhouse vibe, or maybe be the MCU’s version of “The New Mutants.” Although now that I think about it, “The New Mutants” could possibly end up being another version of this movie depending on how many more times it gets pushed back. Man, that movie premiere is gonna be one big realistic version of a FaceApp demo. This is definitely a movie I would want to see on an IMAX screen, maybe in 3D. Because I saw the original “Doctor Strange” in IMAX 3D, which made for one of the best visual trips of 2016. This film is expected to drop into theaters May 7th, 2021.

But my one request for this movie. JUST GIVE A MORE MEMORABLE VILLAIN. Then again, it’s Marvel, it’s not their strong suit.

When 2015 first started, the YouTube channel RedLetterMedia made a video where they jokingly predicted that we’d eventually get a fourth “Thor” movie called “Thor 4: More Thor.” Believe it or not, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” used that title in their show. Unfortunately, we’re not getting “Thor 4: More Thor.” But we are getting a fourth “Thor” movie titled “Thor: Love and Thunder.” I have mixed thoughts on this movie, because I REALLY enjoy 2011’s “Thor,” probably more than I should. I know some people don’t like it, but I enjoyed Thor’s character arch and Loki was a solid villain. Granted, the followup in 2013, “Thor: The Dark World,” is in the conversation to be my least favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. And even though “Thor: Ragnarok” was… “better,” it’s not what I wanted. I thought it was too comedic, and some of the jokes didn’t land. While it is visually stunning, somewhat appealing from a story perspective, the tone just didn’t work. Basically, Asgard is in a state beyond repair in this film. It could have been dark, gritty, maybe a little funny, but not like it was “Deadpool” for kids. I don’t think Taika Waititi is a bad director, in fact, I thought he would be a better suit for something like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but he did a “Thor” film instead. It just didn’t stick the landing for me. I’m hoping “Thor: Love and Lightning” will be better, but from what I can imagine, it could be tonally similar to the previous “Thor” installment, which if that’s the case, I’m just hoping that the story actually fits the tone.

One thing that could be interesting is that Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman, is making a comeback. And similar to a comics storyline, Foster is going to be taking on the mantle of Thor. And based on visuals presented from San Diego Comic-Con, it looks like her character will be holding Mjölnir at some point during the film. As long as Kat Dennings doesn’t show up to play her character from “2 Broke Girls” everything should be rather fine and dandy. The film is predicted to be out November 5th, 2021, so I demand there should be at least one reference to “V For Vendetta,” ESPECIALLY since Natalie Portman is returning!

Now let me just say, I have no idea when these next films are going to be released, part of me is willing to bet that one or two of them, are not even in phase 4, but Marvel Studios chairman Kevin Feige has confirmed that these movies are in development, therefore we are going to cover them. So let’s continue!

Remember the 1998 film “Blade?” Guess what? Marvel is getting to do another project with the character. I personally can’t say I have seen “Blade,” but part of me is willing to imagine that this will be a somewhat different take on the character because the original trilogy was rated R, whereas all the MCU films so far have gotten a PG-13. If you ask me, I would not mind seeing an R version of the character in the MCU, kind of like with Black Widow, but you cannot have everything. One thing that does intrigue me though is that Mahershala Ali (Moonlight, Green Book) is attached to playing the lead role. He’s a fantastic actor who has a ton of range, and he actually pitched this sort of idea to Marvel Studios through a call. Coincidentally, Ali has been attached to a couple of alternate recent comic book-based products including Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and Netflix’s own MCU show, “Luke Cage.”

There’s not much to say on this next film, but I KNEW this was gonna be made at some point, perhaps soon. Why? Because again, it made SO MUCH money. I guess this is what happens when Disney remakes “The Lion King” for a new generation. Wait… I’m talking about “Black Panther 2.” There’s not much to say about this movie yet, but Ryan Coogler suggested that he’d write and direct this film, which does intrigue me because I thought he did a rather decent job with the first one despite its flaws. So… what Disney movie are they gonna retread next? Are they gonna do “Dumbo” because Black Panther is learning to fly for some reason? Are they gonna do a film in the style of “Wreck-It Ralph” where it is revealed that Wakanda is in an arcade cabinet? Are they gonna do one like “Frozen” where Shuri or Okoye just breaks out into an annoying catchy tune? By the way, screw “Frozen,” that movie can rot in hell!

Up next is a film that was supposed to come out in 2020, but based on recent controversy, that’s not happening anymore. Specifically, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.” This is a film that I am honestly curious to see, because while I imagine this could potentially be a capper for a trilogy, director James Gunn has previously exposed that this installment is not meant to be a powerhouse of emotion. It is still going to be fun and lively. But if you have been following the news in terms of film recently, you’d know that Gunn was fired by Disney/Marvel over the resurfacing of less than family friendly tweets. Tweets that even he admits, he’s not proud of. If you ask me, I believe James Gunn is a competent director, who may have deserved the criticism that he received, but I’m not sure if Disney should have gone as far as firing him, especially when you consider how much he has changed over the years in terms of his outlook. Nevertheless, I am quite curious to see how this upcoming “Guardians” film turns out, and I do have a shortlist of soundtrack ideas, but I think I should save that for another time. The movie is not expected to begin filming until 2020, but that’s because James Gunn is currently doing a DC movie, specifically “The Suicide Squad.”

Here’s another no-brainer, “Captain Marvel 2.” When your film has the sixth biggest opening of all time, you know you have to make a followup. I’ll be honest, the first “Captain Marvel” did not work for me. I thought the chemistry between Fury and Danvers was kind of hit and miss. The scene where “Just a Girl” plays honestly, while I guess it was trying to be empowering, felt really off for an action scene that was most likely trying to be kick-ass. The final fight, which I imagine was trying to be funny, just ended up being questionable to me. And don’t even get me started on Goose the Cat! But, we are getting another movie, and I’m honestly hoping it is better than this one, but only time will tell. I like Brie Larson as an actress, but when she plays Captain Marvel, she honestly sounds like she’s only been in straight to DVD content. Come on, Brie! You won an Oscar for “Room!” Show me the magic! She did alright in “Endgame,” but she was not in the movie that much so there is that to consider. Then again, I’m a straight white male. So is my opinion even valid to begin with?

Another film on the list of “in development” is a third “Spider-Man” movie. By the way, by the time you finish reading this post, five more “Spider-Man” movies will be released, because they keep cranking them out! I finally saw “Spider-Man: Far From Home” the other day, and honestly, after seeing that film, I’d say a third one HAS to be made. And without going into detail, Kevin Feige suggested that the mid-credits scene from that film implies the third film will involve “a Peter Parker story that has never been done before on film.” And it does not surprise me that this is happening. I believe Sony is already satisfied with making their own “Spider-Man” movies in their universe and still enjoys the success they can get from spinning their webs in the MCU. Nevertheless, can’t wait. But if I had any requests, make sure the word “home” is in the title. That way I don’t have to end up confusing “Spider-Man” trilogies and can refer to this as the “Home” trilogy. Seriously! Even if it simply means that there is a minute of the two of the film where we find Peter Parker watching a Mets game, and for that reason it is called “Home Run,” it would still work because the other two movies have the word “home” in their titles too!

The next two films are a couple of projects that I think a lot of people have been asking for. Why? Because Disney just acquired 21st Century Fox recently, meaning they have retained the rights to a couple of big name franchises. One example is “X-Men.” I have no idea how the film will present itself. If anything, it is definitely going to be a complete reboot, staying away from the timeline Fox originally showcased to audiences since the early 2000s. After all, while I didn’t go see “Dark Phoenix,” probably just like everyone else in the world, maybe that movie tarnished the franchise enough to say, “Screw it, it’s over.” But some movie franchises or IPs are like Jenga, you can end the game by collapsing the tower, but you can always start a new one by rebuilding it. Maybe “X-Men” has a place in the MCU. And honestly, if a couple of the phase 1 heroes are going away, I think this is the perfect time to add in new heroes, because if they were still there, I’d honestly worry about clutter in the MCU. Granted, even with them showing up now, that is still a worry. But I also have a slight intrigue as to what this mega franchise can bring to the cinematic universe.

Speaking of Fox, one other franchise they once had, not to mention wasted, is “Fantastic Four.” Since Marvel has the rights to them, they can now possibly… NOT screw it up this time… Hopefully? I imagine it’ll be good, but I’m keeping experience in my back pocket. It’s in different hands, but for all I know, despite its popularity in the comic book world, maybe “Fantastic Four” is simply cursed as a movie franchise. But I am curious about this film and how it’ll turn out, and perhaps a little more excited about this than “X-Men.” Will Dr. Doom be the main villain again? Will the movie have the four in the middle of its title? Or… How about this? How about we get Chris Evans to play Johnny Storm again? Do it just to get some other character in the movie for a second. Maybe the group will be going around New York City grabbing lunch or something and they run into Peter Parker walking with Ned, which leads to Peter pointing at Johnny saying, “Hey! You look like someone I know!” I highly doubt that will happen, but it certainly would make for a proper more realistic “What If…?” scenario. Plus, with Stan Lee gone we’re gonna need new cameo ideas.

That’ll probably do it for all of the MCU-related announcements for phase 4, and again, a lot of these films and TV shows are in development. So who knows? One could get pushed back, maybe one gets cancelled. Perhaps it ends up being a part of an eventual phase 5. Nevertheless, I’m excited for a large number of these projects, and hopefully they will all end up being good! Also, James Gunn, I know it is a little late, but welcome back. I want to know, is there something I’m missing from this list? I think I’ve covered all the ground, after all I have 4,000 words inserted into this thing! Or, what is something that you want to see from the MCU as a TV series, as a movie, as a concept? It doesn’t even have to be for phase 4 if you want it someplace else. Let me know down below! Thanks for reading this post! Pretty soon I am going to be reviewing Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” which is out this upcoming weekend. I’m going to one of my local theaters for their first screening of the film in 35mm, can’t wait! Also, speaking of Tarantino, be sure to stay tuned for my final installment in my Quentin Tarantino review series, “The Hateful Eight.” Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, if you could do me a favor, like this post, share it around with those you know, it really helps me out. And speaking of that, like my Facebook Page! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

91st Academy Awards Recap

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Before we dive into this post, I would like to kick off by offering my sincere apologies. Part of me wanted to do a post on my hopes and predictions going into this year’s Academy Awards show, but unfortunately, I literally lacked any time in the world to do such a thing. Apparently paying for my education is not enough to make my head spin, I need to be handed a bloated supply of homework as well! I wasn’t given this during the Super Bowl (REALLY DON’T CARE ABOUT THAT SHOW), so why should I get it on Oscar weekend? Anyway, earlier this week, I watched the 91st edition of the Academy Awards. I went into it with a few expectations. However, there was a part of me that thought this show was going to SUCK, and I even say that with my picks winning. Fortunately, that was not the case!

The first red flag in my sights for this year’s show is that there was no host this year. You guys may already know that Kevin Hart opted out at a point and nobody else happened to sign on. They did however announce names for a bunch of celebrities who will be present to give random speeches and nominee presentations. While not all of them were great, they did have a number of them which I was actually able to appreciate. And I can’t even believe I’m saying this.

Melissa McCarthy actually made me laugh! Throughout my 3 year experience of blogging on Scene Before, McCarthy has appeared in the #1 spot for my worst films of the year lists not just once, but twice! Although sometimes I kind of fail to give her credit where it is due, because there are a couple of occasions where she did make me laugh. When she played former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on “Saturday Night Live,” it was literally a plethora of some of the most gutbusting moments that I’ve encountered in the show’s recent years. McCarthy’s appearance during the Academy Awards ceremony was perhaps on the Sean Spicer level of funny. McCarthy comes out to present the Costume Design award. Doing so in this costume that is quite possibly inspired by “The Favourite.” She gives this speech about some of the best costumes and how they are not meant to have distracting elements. It’s just spectacular. So spectacular in fact that I almost forgot that Melissa McCarthy was a recent Razzie winner!

I will admit, when it comes to other celebrities, there are not that many other speeches worth pointing out. Although there is one moment where I appreciated John Mulaney’s line “I want these people to like me to a degree which I find embarrassing.” It’s not to say that they were bad, but there was not many others which I happened to find as interesting as say Melissa McCarthy.

When it comes to having no host, I was somewhat surprised, because I was highly skeptical going in on whether or not such a thing was going to work out. Turns out it did! Before this recent Oscars show, I thought to myself that this was all going to be a trainwreck. Without a host, it’s toast! Not anymore! But if the Academy were to announce for the 92nd show that they aren’t getting anyone to host that year, I’d just say, “Fine, whatever, you do you.” I wouldn’t care if there’s a host. Would I want a host? Certainly, but I’d be open to another Oscars show where nobody hosts. Because a couple of benefits to having no host is that the show focuses more on the awards, and it allows a diverse amounts of celebrities to present themselves to an audience. Because let’s face it. Not everyone likes Jimmy Kimmel, not everyone likes Seth MacFarlane, not everyone likes Ellen DeGeneres. Having one of those people host puts them in a certain spotlight, and even though certain people like The Oscars, they might not be satisfied with the person who may as well be taking up the biggest portion of the show’s screentime. Almost every celebrity onstage had their moment, and it allowed for a quick pace that was respectful. Granted, I am the rare find in the wild that does not mind staying up for eternity while watching The Oscars. However, there is a part of me that realizes that The Oscars is being shown to “everyone.” And there is a vast majority of people who want to see certain things throughout the show. The hostless ceremony is a good way to keep time short, and have the awards delivered as immediate as possible.

By the way, I recently saw this killer tweet from recent Academy Awards host Jimmy Kimmel:

I love you, Jimmy.

Now let’s move onto the awards. Had I done a prediction post a little bit ago, this would definitely be the main focal point. I’m not going to dive into every single award, but I am going to go over the ones that I found to be highlights.

Believe it or not, I have actually managed to expand my award palette this year, because just recently, specifically on February 9th, I went to a local theater in the Boston area because they were showing all of the animated short films that earned a nomination this year. They showed the five potential winners, along with some others that the Academy found to be “highly commendable.” Now I actually had a favorite of these films, but before I do that, let’s give out the nominees.

  • Bao- Domee Shi, Becky Neiman (WINNER!)
  • Weekends- Trevor Jimenez
  • Animal Behaviour- Alison Snowden, David Fine
  • One Small Step- Andrew Chesworth, Bobby Pontillas
  • Late Afternoon- Louise Bagnall, Nuria González Blanco

Now keep in mind, I actually have watched all of these films from start to finish. I actually had been exposed to “Bao” prior to seeing all of the four other films. The reason why that is is due to how it was presented before Pixar’s “Incredibles 2,” making it Pixar’s short film to present this year. I kind of liked “Bao,” but it is something that I think would not appeal to everyone. I understand the message behind it, but in reality, there are a couple of animated shorts on this list that I found to be more interesting. For example, “One Small Step.” Granted, this may be coming with a little bit of bias since I am a nerd, and nerds like space. I still found the main character’s journey to be intriguing and sort of, pun intended, down to Earth. But my personal favorite out of all of these is without question, “Animal Behavior.” This film was made in Canada, and might I just say, this film reminds me of how awesome Canada is. It gave us Ryan Gosling, Ryan Reynolds, Alex Trebek, Howie Mandel, and now… “Animal Behavior.” “Animal Behavior” takes a bunch of different living creatures and puts them all in a therapy session. One of the main characters is a gorilla who is in extreme denial, and often gets very angry. The results of this film, hilarious. One of the best jokes has to do with the mantis, because for those who are unaware, praying mantises eat their mate during intercourse. There are certain parts of the short where we see that sort of thing come into play, and overall it left me feeling very impressed. Plus, one thing that made this film different compared to all of the others, is that they were all trying to be serious. This one, while still having some sort of message intact, it still goes for as much comedy as possible. Kudos to the brilliant writing! Granted, the Academy goes for more serious material, and I do respect that, but I feel like was more impressed by the comedic efforts of “Animal Behaviour” as opposed to the serious efforts of “Late Afternoon” or “Bao.”

Moving onto another category, it’s Best Documentary! Let’s look at the nominees!

  • Free Solo- Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, Evan Hayes, Shannon Dill (WINNER!)
  • RBG- Betsy West, Julie Cohen
  • Hale County This Morning, This Evening- RaMell Ross, Joslyn Barnes, Su Kim
  • Of Fathers and Sons- Talal Derki, Ansgar Frerich, Eva Kemme, Tobias N. Siebert
  • Minding the Gap- Bing Liu, Diane Quon

Wait, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” wasn’t nominated?! F*ck this! Moving on!

Let’s try a different documentary category! Best Documentary Short! Let’s look at the nominees!

  • Period. End of Sentence.- Rayka Zehtabchi, Melissa Berton (WINNER!)
  • Black Sheep- Ed Perkins, Jonathan Chinn
  • End Game- Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
  • Lifeboat- Skye Fitzgerald, Bryn Mooser
  • A Night at the Garden- Marshall Curry

OK, these look much better. I haven’t seen any of these films, but they sound much better. Now I am not going to call one of these films superior to all of the others, all of my opinions related to such a thing would technically be invalid. But, the victory speech, holy f*ck. Quite possibly the best speech of the night!

“I’m not crying because I’m on my period or anything! I can’t believe a film about menstruation just won an Oscar!” -Rayka Zehtabchi

“A period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education!” -Melissa Berton

Enough said. Period. End of sentence.

Another category that stood out to me was Best Visual Effects, mainly because there was one movie that I felt should win, but didn’t win. Granted, the winner to me has extremely competent visuals, but the reality is, I had my pick. Here are the nominees.

Ryan Gosling in First Man (2018)

  • First Man- Paul LambertIan HunterTristan MylesJ.D. Schwalm (WINNER!)
  • Avengers: Infinity War- Dan DeLeeuwKelly PortRussell EarlDaniel Sudick
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story- Rob BredowPatrick TubachNeal ScanlanDominic Tuohy
  • Ready Player One- Roger GuyettGrady CoferMatthew E. ButlerDavid Shirk
  • Christopher Robin- Chris LawrenceMike EamesTheo JonesChris Corbould

Let’s take some things into perspective. While I kinda hated “Solo,” I could see it being nominated for visual effects. I didn’t want it to win, but still. “Christopher Robin” was an alright movie, nothing really that special. But then again, I have a bare attachment to “Winnie the Pooh.” The CGI characters were not bad though. “Avengers: Infinity War” was probably my second or third pick to win, right along with “First Man,” which did win. Aside from all of the huge scale glory happening everywhere on screen, you also have to give credit to the effects team for creating Thanos. To me, Thanos is up there with Smaug and Gollum as one of the greats when it comes to CGI character creations. Now with that being said, “READY PLAYER ONE” WAS SNUBBED! Granted, I already awarded “Ready Player One” myself because I now do the Jackoff Awards, but I would have given a thumbs up to the voters had they let “Ready Player One” win! Let’s take another set of ideas into perspective. “Avengers: Infinity War” has comic book style action, random computer effects flying everywhere, and a well done CGI character. I’ve seen that before. In fact, “Christopher Robin” had several of those. Granted, I liked “Infinity War’s” effects better, but still. “Solo” had several effects that I’ve seen in many other movies, and when it comes to the “Star Wars” franchise, it’s not even my favorite movie in terms of visuals. While I will say that “The Last Jedi” is actually worse than “Solo” as a movie, which I am honestly shocked to say. It actually looked nicer! “Solo” has its moments, but when comparing it to the rest of the franchise, it’s in between Obi-Wan and Anakin, because ya know, it kinda has the middle ground. For “Ready Player One,” I wanted that to win, because I felt it was the most visually unique movie of the year. Not only did it manage to visually create its own characters, but it actually recreated segments from other works of art! There is a scene in the film that actually takes place in a location from “The Shining.” Not only that, but you have two different worlds being dealt with in the movie, meaning there are two different places to insert various visuals. The effects team, personally, outdid themselves! I am not a crybaby over “First Man” getting the gold, but at the same time, I’m also wondering why it even got it because “Ready Player One” was just a unique trip. And this goes back to my recent statements. I’ve seen visuals like “First Man” in the past. I’ve seen it in “Apollo 13.” I’ve seen it in “Gravity.” I’ve seen it in “Interstellar.” Although at the same time, I said after I saw the movie that it was not my favorite movie of the year in terms of the story, but from a technical perspective, it was definitely the most well made movie of the year. So while it is not my #1 pick for visual effects, they are by NO MEANS incompetent. Granted, that comment I made after I saw “First Man,” that likely changed overtime after I saw “Roma,” but nevertheless.

Another highlight of the night, for anything but good reason (for the most part) is Best Makeup & Hairstyling. Here are the nominees.

  • Vice- Greg CannomKate BiscoePatricia Dehaney (WINNER!)
  • Mary Queen of Scots- Göran LundströmPamela Goldammer
  • Border- Jenny ShircoreMarc PilcherJessica Brooks

As I once predicted, “Vice” came out on top. The makeup might actually be the best part of the entire movie. So I was excited to see it win. Then… I saw the speech. The three winners practically did not even know what it was they were supposed to say. They had a paper in front of them, which is fine, I have nothing against that, but at least put a little preparation into your speech! At least, have a plan! Visualize! Get together on a Google Hangout or something! I mean, it was slow, it was like watching three people who had recently received amnesia! I’m just waiting for them to get hit in the head with coconuts and suddenly talk like they’re Peter Griffin after he drank Red Bull! They almost didn’t even remember anybody’s name! Ah well, still, congrats I guess.

Anyway, moving onto another category, which I guarantee has a better speech, let’s go onto Best Animated Feature. I do think it is a somewhat unnecessary category, given how it sort of diminishes the art of the animated movie as a whole, but I still want to talk about it. Here are the nominees!

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse- Bob PersichettiPeter RamseyRodney RothmanPhil LordChristopher Miller (WINNER!)
  • Incredibles 2- Brad BirdJohn WalkerNicole Paradis Grindle
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet- Rich MoorePhil JohnstonClark Spencer
  • Isle of Dogs- Wes AndersonScott RudinSteven RalesJeremy Dawson
  • Mirai- Mamoru HosodaYûichirô Saitô

Out of the five films listed, I have seen every single one except “Mirai,” but then again, it wasn’t really marketed around here so I don’t really have much to say about it overall. “Ralph Breaks the Internet” was not only enjoyable, but it honestly shocked me to no end. Because let’s be real, I thought the marketing was, *snobby voice* an abomination! I thought that movie was going to be the most obvious cash-in from Disney this past year (somehow I forgot about “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms”). Turns out that it is not only a good movie experience, but also a great parody on the Disney company! Just watch what Vanellope has to go through in the film to see what I mean! Then we have “Isle of Dogs” which is the only stop-motion film on the list. Over these last months, Wes Anderson has grown on me a bit as a director, and his work in this film supports my statement. Plus, I actually hate dogs, so the fact that I like this movie actually says something! “Incredibles 2” is a worthy sequel to what is, quite literally, my favorite animated film of all-time. Not only is it a part of my childhood, but it is just a well crafted movie. For awhile, it was my favorite film of the year, that is… until the release of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse!” And might I just say, JUSTICE HAS BEEN SERVED! Because two people behind “Spider-Verse,” specifically as writers and producers, have also worked on “The LEGO Movie.” That is one of the best movies of 2014, and probably one of the best animations I’ve ever seen. And not only did that movie not win an Oscar, it didn’t even get nominated! Sure, it was nominated for Best Original Song due to the presence of “Everything Is Awesome,” but that’s not even the best part of the movie! Heck, that wasn’t even the best song in the movie! Ah well, catchy tunes can be catchy. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller get an Oscar! They didn’t have to wait as long as say Kevin O’Connell (sound mixer who waited 21 times), Roger Deakins (cinematographer who waited 14 times), or Glenn Close (actress nominated 7 times and still waiting), but they’ve each got one! “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is one of the best superhero movies of 2018, and I’d even say it’s better than “Black Panther,” which actually received more nominations than this movie! Speaking of which, let’s talk about that.

Based on the results of the recent Academy Awards show, “Black Panther,” my fourth place pick this year for superhero films, managed to take home three Academy Awards. None of them were in super major categories. Granted, one of them was score, which to me, is usually a major factor on whether or not your movie is in my top movies of the year for some reason. If I remember your music, chances are I’m going to like your movie. Now, “Black Panther” is nowhere close to being my favorite superhero flick of 2018. But with that in mind, I still gotta give the movie respect, because it did something for comic book movies that has never been done before. Over the years, several movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have received nominations for the Academy Awards. Some include “Doctor Strange,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” “The Avengers,” “Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2,” and “Iron Man 3.” None of them have ever won an Oscar. Just this year, “Black Panther” changed that. Because it won 3. While I would say that for every of its categories for which the film was nominated, I was actually rooting for other films, including “The Favourite!” That actually says something because that film was nominated for best picture and I’m still not happy about it to this day! Nevertheless, it won three awards, which to me, shows that the Academy is getting more serious about the action movie genre and the comic book movie genre. They have progressively been doing such a thing in some of their more recent ceremonies with movies like “The Dark Knight” and “Logan.” Although, when it comes to comic-book based films, this is probably the best year Oscar-wise because with the MCU’s first three wins ever, they have another nomination on top of that (Avengers: Infinity War). Plus, as recently mentioned, “Spider-Verse” won Best Animated Feature. In fact, “Black Panther” was one of the eight movies nominated for Best Picture this year. I’m not saying I want more inclusion from comic-book movies, but I love how the Academy is recognizing that comic-book movies can be more than just entertainment. They can be works of art. Maybe I don’t see “Black Panther” the same way as they do, but I see where they may be coming from with it. Although I will say, I’m white. Just pointing that out. Congrats to the comic-book film genre.

Another highlight in terms of awards including some of the acting sections. Starting with Best Supporting Actor, here are the nominees!

  • Mahershala Ali- Green Book (WINNER!)
  • Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman)
  • Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)
  • Sam Elliott (A Star Is Born)
  • Sam Rockwell (Vice)

Ah, seems very familiar. I nominated four of these people for the Jackoffs. If Timothée Chalamet was nominated here than that would be five. But whatever. And just like the Jackoffs, Mahershala Ali won! Ali to me is deserving of his win because of the range provided in his performance. Sam Elliott is great, the same can be said for someone like Sam Rockwell. But they seem to play the same character the whole movie. While Ali is technically one guy during the movie, he almost seems to play two. You have this robotic priest, and I won’t go into much more detail, but he reveals more emotion as he develops. Ali is well deserving of his award if you ask me.

Moving onto Best Supporting Actress!

  • Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk)
  • Marina de Tavira (Roma)
  • Amy Adams (Vice)
  • Emma Stone (The Favourite)
  • Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)

Out of all of these, I have interestingly witnessed all of these performances EXCEPT Regina King, which is too bad, because I heard good things about “If Beale Street Could Talk.” And I was watching the Red Carpet buildup before the Oscars started, and having seen people commentate on the broadcast, this made King’s win no surprise because it was practically a lock. Out of the ones I’ve seen, my personally favorite without a doubt has to be Amy Adams. She transformed into her character in “Vice!” I will give credit to “The Favourite” in the acting department, especially when you consider two of its actors are nominated in the same category, but it does not save “The Favourite” from being a less than satisfying movie. As far as Marina de Tavira goes, I almost wonder why she was nominated to begin with. I’m not saying she performed badly in “Roma,” in fact she did a great job. But it’s kind of surprising considering how she was never really nominated for the same role anywhere else during this award season.

Now onto Best Actress! Here are the nominees!

  • Olivia Colman (The Favourite)
  • Yalitza Aparicio (Roma)
  • Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born)
  • Glenn Close (The Wife)
  • Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

Melissa McCarthy? What the?! It’s raining cats and dogs! I’ve seen three of these performances, and while there is a part of me that was able appreciate Olivia Colman as a performer in “The Favourite,” I found the performances from say Lady Gaga and Yalitza Aparicio a bit more compelling. And part of my reasoning behind such a statement may be because the two aren’t known for their acting. Gaga is primarily a singer, which also kind of means she has an advantage in her role. But what really wowed me is Yalitza Aparicio, because this is actually the first acting job she ever did in her entire life. For a first-time actor, you’d expect them to give a C performance, maybe a B performance at best. But this to me was no doubt, an A+ performance! And to be honest, part of me was expecting Glenn Close to win. Plus it would have been fascinating because she has been waiting awhile for her award. But if you have seen the Jackoffs, you might be able to gather my opinion on this. TONI COLLETTE WAS SNUBBED!

Lastly for acting, we have Best Actor. Here are the nominees!

  • Rami Malek- Bohemian Rhapsody (WINNER!)
  • Bradley Cooper- A Star Is Born
  • Viggo Mortensen- Green Book
  • Willem Dafoe- At Eternity’s Gate
  • Christian Bale- Vice

To me, Malek’s win was a no brainer. I was appreciative of this performance because of how it was able to transform this actor into a beloved celebrity of another kind. Granted, it is all him, because part of it was due to someone else doing his vocals and I think costume design and makeup go into play with my appreciation as well, but still, he was my pick to win. My second pick would have been Bradley Cooper because he had to learn to sing for his role, and it actually paid off! Out of these performances, I will point out that I’ve seen four of them, the one that I didn’t see is Willem Dafoe, but I also liked the performances from Bale and Mortensen. If I had to choose between them, I’d say Mortensen was the better performer, but if Bale had won, I would have loved to have seen his speech. Because when it comes to the crew on “Vice,” one terrible speech was already provided in the Makeup & Hairstyling category, but had he gone up, I would have been interested to see his speech. I say so because he gave perhaps my favorite speech at the Golden Globes this year, specifically where he says this:

“Thank you to Satan for giving me inspiration on how to play this role!”

HAHAHAHAHAHA! How often do you hear that?! While that might make certain people upset or offended, I thought personally that was one of the highlights of that show.

We have a few more categories to go over, a couple of which include the screenplay categories. Here are the original screenplay nominees!

  • Green Book- Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly (WINNER!)
  • First Reformed (Paul Schrader)
  • Roma (Alfonso Cuarón)
  • Vice (Adam McKay)
  • The Favourite (Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara)

I’m sorry, “The Favourite,” while it has some memorable lines, the screenplay was not even close to being something special. In fact, that’s one of the biggest problems I have with the movie, because this story was trying its best to be compelling, but it felt more drawn out than I expected! And I will admit, I am guy who is willing to appreciate film no matter what kind of movie we are talking about, but even for me, this was too slow! I think the biggest problem was the chapter layout. Because when I first saw it, I thought the chapters represented a three or five act structure, if I recall correctly, it was like nine. I am with “Green Book” as  the winner however. It’s a good story with compelling characters, and some quirkiness behind it too. Then again, it is hard to avoid expecting a good script from a guy who worked on “There’s Something About Mary.” If it weren’t for “Green Book” winning, I would have either picked “Roma” or “Vice.” With “Roma,” it was a script that took a bit of time to get me fully intrigued, but once I was hooked, I was not able to let go. It was investing, emotionally charged, and is capable of showing the occasional unpredictably of life. “Vice” however is rather interesting to me because while it was based on true events, it was able to have some satirical fun. One of the best written scenes of the year comes during the middle of the film where the acts like it is about to end saying the characters live happily ever after and never get in politics ever again. GEN-I-US!

As for the adapted screenplays, here are the nominees!

  • BlacKkKlansman- Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmont, Spike Lee (WINNER!)
  • A Star Is Born- Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters
  • Can You Ever Forgive Me?- Nicole HolofcenerJeff Whitty
  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs- Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
  • If Beale Street Could Talk- Barry Jenkins

Surprisingly, while I’ve seen a number of things in the listed this categories this year, this is a category where I’ve seen only two things. To be specific, “A Star Is Born” and “BlacKkKlansman.” I missed out on “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” and “If Beale Street Could Talk.” As far as “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” goes, it’s on Netflix and I have don’t Netflix, nor do I ever plan to get it. Enough said. Luckily, of the two I did see, I nominated both for the Jackoffs in this exact category. Granted, I gave the 1 up to “A Star Is Born,” but “BlacKkKansman” is also worthy of your support. Interestingly, and if you watch the movie, this shouldn’t really come as a shock, Spike Lee’s speech was rather critical of Donald Trump. Let’s see how President Orange responded.

REMINDER: This guy won multiple Razzies this year!

A couple more categories to go, let’s move onto Best Director!

  • Alfonso Cuarón (Roma)
  • Spike Lee (BlacKkKlansman)
  • Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War)
  • Adam McKay (Vice)
  • Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite)

“The Favourite” might just be one of the best worst movies of all time, because I can clearly tell people are giving their 110% effort throughout the production, but it just didn’t work for me. The directing in the film is actually not that bad and I see why it received a nomination. In fact, all of these directors are worthy of their nominations if you ask me. Although there is no questioning it. Cuarón directed the hell out of “Roma.” Based on how he did this movie, the project felt extremely personal, and the direction felt like everything came right out of his mind. Nothing felt like it came from an outsider or a studio. I am well aware that in life you can’t always get what you want, but it’s nice to get what you want when you are look at things from a directorial point of view. Plus, Cuarón had his hands full with this film. Not only did he have a credit for directing, but he also has a credit for the screenplay, the editing, the cinematography, and even as a producer. He did a lot for one film! He’s like Tommy Wiseau, only difference is that Cuarón was able to create a critically successful movie. I hate Netflix, like with a burning passion, but I will give them credit for quite possibly saying “You know what Alfonso, you’re so f*cking talented. Make whatever movie you want!” I’m imagining something like that went on behind the scenes.

Two more categories to go, let’s pay attention towards the Best Cinematography category! Here are the nominees!

  • Alfonso Cuarón- Roma (WINNER!)
  • Lukasz Zal- Cold War
  • Matthew Libatique- A Star Is Born
  • Robbie Ryan- The Favourite
  • Caleb Deschanel- Never Look Away

And to my lack of surprise, Cuarón takes this award too! If you have seen my last Academy Awards recap, chances are that you’d know that cinematography was probably the category I was most passionate about that year. The reason was due to how one of the nominees was Roger Deakins, who FINALLY won an Oscar for his work in “Blade Runner 2049!” This year, I don’t really have the same passion for that category, but I was able to appreciate a couple of the nominees. “Roma” is a movie that I thought was technically brilliant, and its cinematography absolutely showcases that. SUPER GLAD IT WON! That movie had many shots that made me wonder how they even came about! Netflix, PLEASE. Release a Blu-ray for “Roma!” I want my bonus features! In fact, for the Jackoffs, that movie also won Best Cinematography. Speaking of which, I also nominated “Cold War,” which is unique because it featured a 4:3 aspect ratio, and like “Roma,” it’s in black and white. When I reviewed “Cold War,” I felt that the film’s technical specs were something I could appreciate more than the film’s story, and the cinematography was the biggest standout to me. I can approve of “The Favourite” being nominated, but when it comes to “A Star Is Born.” Some of the shots were nice, but I don’t see why it is nominated. Maybe the set design and the lighting stood out to me, but standard shots are not the biggest standout when it comes to “A Star Is Born.” In fact, a similar movie, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” actually comes to mind when I think of this nomination. There are a number of shots that truly immerse me into the film. This is especially true during the Live Aid scene. The extended run through the audience set the mood entirely for that scene alone. There are certain shots that give you a sense of scope, it’s almost mind-boggling. As for “Never Look Away,” I never saw that movie, so I have nothing to say about it.

And now, for Best Picture. This year there were eight nominees. Out of all of them, I actually had something that I truly wanted to win. Last year I wanted “Dunkirk” to win, but I also missed out on many of last year’s Best Picture nominees. This year however, I actually saw all eight of them. If you wanted to know my pick for Best Picture this year, it was “Roma.” What a f*cking movie. Anyway, here are the nominees!

  • Green Book- Jim Burke, Charles B. Wessler, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly and Nick Vallelonga (WINNER!)
  • Black Panther- Kevin Feige
  • The Favourite- Ceci Dempsey, Ed Guiney, Lee Magiday and Yorgos Lanthimos
  • Bohemian Rhapsody- Graham King
  • A Star Is Born- Bill Gerber, Bradley Cooper and Lynette Howell Taylor
  • Vice- Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Adam McKay and Kevin Messick
  • Roma- Gabriela Rodríguez and Alfonso Cuarón
  • BlacKkKlansman- Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Raymond Mansfield, Jordan Peele and Spike Lee

I’m gonna do this by talking about the movies that didn’t win first. “The Favourite” and “Black Panther?” You can honestly forget about those two! The pacing in “The Favourite” is horrible and “Black Panther” is not even the best comic book movie of the year! A lot of people go around saying that film is “socially important,” but that has nothing to do with how good a movie is. Just because your film has a black person in it, it doesn’t make it good. What matters is how it was executed. You know what comic book movie was socially important? “Wonder Woman!” And that’s a masterpiece compared to “Black Panther!” AND it wasn’t nominated for any Oscars for its respective year! When I like “Aquaman,” “Deadpool 2,” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and “Avengers: Infinity War” more than “Black Panther,” you can probably tell what I’m trying to say here about it. “Vice” was pretty good, but ultimately lacking in some sort of substance that didn’t seem to be there as I watched the movie. I appreciate the work that went into it, but some parts of the movie were better than others. “Bohemian Rhapsody” is sort of interesting. I think it is a good tribute to Queen and Freddie Mercury, but it is ultimately just that, nothing more. Sure, there’s good cinematography and a rock solid performance from Rami Malek, but it doesn’t really change the game. Then there is “A Star Is Born.” I thought Bradley Cooper did a great job with that movie because he had a lot to do on it, and not just as a performer. Although when it comes to his performance skills on that film, that’s probably the best part because of how he needed to not just talk, but play an instrument and sing. “BlacKkKlansman” may have been a well written, well directed, and well acted film. But even if you remove all of those qualities from the table, you still have a great concept. An African-American police officer pretends he’s white and infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan! And it’s based on a true story!

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When it comes to the two films left to talk about, I already said what I need to say about “Roma.” It is such a masterful movie. Plus, it partially made me change my mind about how serious Netflix could possibly be in the movie theater industry. Granted, they still have some ways to go, just ask Steven Spielberg, but they’re making progress. I really wanted that film to win, and I actually had high confidence that it was going to win this year. Then Julia Roberts gets onstage, and says the words “Green Book.”

Did not expect that.

But you know what? It’s cool, that was my second pick anyway! I know there’s a lot of controversy surrounding “Green Book” right now, it almost reminds me of “The Greatest Showman.” Part of me might regret watching “Green Book” for that reason alone, but I also have to keep in mind that when I did see the film, I enjoyed what I saw. I thought the screenplay was well done. The chemistry between the main characters went together like bread and butter. And the acting is superb! “Green Book” may not be my pick for Best Picture, but it was certainly worth a watch. It’s got some serious parts in it, but it is almost like a feel good story at times. It’s nice to see the formation of two unlikely friends. Plus, it’s one of those rare times where product placement WORKS. Will I watch “Green Book” again sometime in the future? Most likely. It is a fun watch, and definitely worth your time. Congrats to “Green Book!” Congrats to all of the other nominees!

Thanks for reading this post! The 91st Academy Awards was definitely a surprise! I was expect a mediocre show at best, and it turned out to be pretty good. Would I like a host next year? Certainly. But I am also now open to the idea of a hostless Oscars ceremony. Now that I’ve seen it, it worked out! I gotta give massive respect for the Academy for including all of the awards, and I also want to give a shoutout to Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper for an awesome performance of “Shallow!” You guys rock! Speaking of which, Queen, great opening! Well done! When it comes to my future content, I will be doing a review of “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World!” And also, as of writing this, Scene Before is now three years old! It just turned three recently, I want to do something for the three year anniversary, but if I actually manage to do something, it probably won’t be up soon, because college is keeping me busy. Like, insanely busy. I have some ideas, who knows? Maybe I’ll do the same thing as the two year anniversary? But only time will tell! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see the 91st Academy Awards? What are your thoughts? Any snubs? Great moments? Do you agree with everything? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Who Should Host the 91st Academy Awards?

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! If you have been following some recent news lately, you may have been made aware that Kevin Hart was set to host the Oscars this year. However, that’s not the case anymore. This is due to his recent encounter with his own past, thanks to other people bringing it up. Hart once tweeted jokes that were considered anti-gay and homophobic, thus he decided it would be best to avoid letting himself be a distraction on Oscar night.

As for my thoughts on this, I am personally disappointed. I wanted to see Hart host the Oscars. Not only is he a likable movie personality, but he’s an effective comedian too so he probably could have executed some of the monologues with ease. Not to mention, he’s had hosting experience with CBS’s “TKO: In the Zone.” Also, the departure from the Academy hosting role reminds me of a similar case that happened this year, specifically with “Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn. If you remember, James Gunn had old tweets which resurfaced, causeing his business relationship with Disney to be severed. I want people to be the best person they can be, but the fact is, everyone makes mistakes. Why are we not allowed to reflect on our own mistakes? Nevertheless, the Oscars needs a new host, so I figured since I have time to kill, I wanted to whip up a list of five (or six depending on my mood) capable people, regardless of their past actions, who have the potential to host this year’s Academy Awards show.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

My first pick on this list is, appropriately, someone who has worked with Kevin Hart in the past on “Central Intelligence” and “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” Dwayne Johnson. As far as hosting experience goes, he has hosted “Saturday Night Live” five times, and he has a new show coming up on NBC in January called “The Titan Games.” If a new host is not decided by the time “The Titan Games” is on TV, and Dwayne Johnson gets kudos for stellar hosting skills, the chances of him taking on the Oscars is only going to skyrocket. Not to mention, when I see him do any sort of project, I always have this sense that he is not only doing it for himself, but doing it for other people. He clearly is a happy man, even when he does s*it like “Skyscraper.” I think Johnson would add a shred of enthusiasm and deliver some excellent comedy with smile on the Academy stage.

Patton Oswalt

This next pick is more of a jump on a bandwagon than anything else, but it’s my list, so I’m going with it. I’m talkin’ about Patton Oswalt. Not only has Patton Oswalt been a legitimate movie personality for his work in films like “Ratatouille,” “Young Adult,” and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” but he’s had some excellent roots in comedy as well. He has appeared in multiple episodes of situation comedies including “Two and a Half Men,” “King of Queens,” and now he’s a regular on NBC’s “A.P. Bio.” To add onto his comedy background, he has done several stand-up specials on HBO and Comedy Central. As far as hosting, he has taken on numerous award shows in the past. The Oscars is a step further from what he’s hosted, but I think Oswalt’s got the guts to step up to the plate.

Howie Mandel

Up next, we have Howie Mandel. Known for his comedy since the 1980s, this guy has had experience in both the film industry and hosting. When it comes to hosting, he has done “Deal or No Deal” from 2005 to 2010, that is until it has been recently brought back this year, and the 2009 Game Show Awards on GSN. When it comes to the films he’s done, he is known for “Gremlins,” “Little Monsters,” and “Walk Like a Man.” I think Mandel has the comedy chops to deliver excellent monologues, funny jokes, and a lovable stage presence. He could probably joke about how hard it is to host the Oscars compared to a game where he has to stare at beautiful women opening cases. Plus, when it comes to politics, this is something I never tended to associate with Howie. This may be just me talking, but even if Howie had to joke about politics onstage, I don’t know if they would tend to associate with his political views since he never usually tends to reveal them, at least according to my experience.

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It has been a trend that talk show hosts have been stepping up to the plate for hosting big award shows. Just this year alone, Seth Meyers hosted the 75th Golden Globes, Jimmy Kimmel hosted the 90th Academy Awards, Stephen Colbert hosted the celebration of Julia Louis-Dreyfus as she received the Mark Twain prize, and James Corden hosted the 60th Grammys. Why not have a talk show host duo? I would like to not only see Conan O’Brien host the Oscars, which would be an awesome thought by itself, but it would also be cool if Andy Richter was there alongside him. The two work flawlessly together, and it is easy to see after so many years. The possibilities are endless for comedy with these two. Also, when Seth Meyers hosted the Golden Globes, he actually took a bit from his own show, “Jokes Seth Can’t Tell,” which takes jokes that wouldn’t be funny coming from Seth Meyers, and lets them fly out of the mouths of other people. I think there are tons of bits that can be taken from Conan’s show and put into the Oscars. I wonder if there would be a rights issue since “Conan” airs on TBS and the Oscars airs on ABC, but I would love it if this were to happen. One bit could be “What Am I Watching?,” which takes TV shows and gives them fake descriptions that can be found with a click of the “info button.” Although instead of TV shows, it could be movie themed. Another one could be “Celebrity Survey,” which takes simple questions about a celebrity’s life, and there are a number of goofy answers that stand out compared to the normal answers. An example for the case of the Oscars would be:

“I don’t want to stop _______”

STEVEN SPIELBERG: Showing off my imagination to moviegoers.

GAL GADOT: Inspiring my fans.

MERYL STREEP: Stealing well-deserved wins and nominations from my fellow acting peers.

One other idea I have for Conan and Andy is at one point, they can come out as Batman and Robin. Conan is Batman while Andy is Robin, and given how Andy is often viewed as nothing more than Conan’s sidekick, that can make for some excellent comedy.

Alec Baldwin

And finally, we have Alec Baldwin. This guy is a triple threat. He does comedy. He does film. He does hosting. In fact, if it weren’t for “Deal or No Deal” coming back on CNBC, Baldwin would be hosting my favorite game show on TV right now, specifically “Match Game.” He has also been a significant part of “Saturday Night Live,” especially in recent years now that Donald Trump is in office. This does bring in my minor concern that maybe the politics will go overboard, but knowing Baldwin, he is able to make politics funny. When it comes to movies, Baldwin’s résumé includes notable credits from “The Departed,” a couple of “Mission: Impossible” films, “The Boss Baby,” and “It’s Complicated.” In fact, of all the potential hosts I listed here, Baldwin is the only one who has been nominated for an Oscar. So it would only be fitting for him to host since he’s had partial experience with the ceremony before.

These are just my picks, and chances are that some of you will disagree me. All of these are just one crazy moron’s opinion, so I want to know, do you have any ideas on who should host the next Oscars? Or, what or who do you think will be nominated this year and for which categories will such a thing or person be nominated? Let me know down below! Thanks for reading this post! This weekend I am gonna try planning to go see a movie, either “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” or “Mortal Engines.” I will also say, this is my last week in my first semester of college, so I currently have a good amount of time on my hands to go see movie. Since it’s December, I have absolute intentions to see a lot of them. I actually wanted to see “The Favourite” yesterday since it was playing at a couple theaters near me on the way home but I passed up on the opportunity. Oh well. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with your email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Oscars Best Popular Film Category CONFIRMED To Be Implemented To Boost Ratings

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! I usually don’t talk much about TV, but today is one of those once in a blue moon occasions where I have to bring it up. Although this one is especially appropriate because it heavily involves movies, celebrating movies, and perhaps the future of how film itself is viewed. In August, The Academy came up with some ideas to spice up the upcoming Oscars ceremonies. Two of them were ideas I thought would have little to no effect on how the show is run (earlier airdate, commitment to three hour telecast). I still question them to this day, but at the same time, they are nowhere near as questionable as the one we are going to talk about today. As you may or may not know, one recent idea that has come out of at least a single brain of The Academy is the introduction of a category based on “Popular Film.”

What does that mean? Well, the answer isn’t exactly 100% clear. But in all likelihood it has to do with films that have a huge fan followings prior to or after its release. Box office may be a huge determining factor so the Marvel movies are one true example of the films that can get nominated. And one thing about this that seems very obvious, it might be an excuse to say that a certain movie that wasn’t “good enough” can get nominated, or even win an Academy Award. Let’s take “Black Panther” for example. It’s a superhero movie, based on a comic book, with a diverse cast, it made more money than most of the movies released in 2018. Critics loved it, and so did fans. Keep in mind, there is not one single film released in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that has ever won an Academy Award. There have been several nominations over the years, but not one movie was ever victorious. So one of these movies finally wins, and it happens to be “Black Panther.” Well, what does it win? Best Visual Effects? Best Sound Mixing? Best Cinematography? No! Nothing of excellence! Best Popular Picture!

ME: But that truly doesn’t measure how good a movie is!

THE ACADEMY: But it’s popular!

ME: Doesn’t make a difference!

THE ACADEMY: But they won!

ME: How do you think the Chicago Cubs would feel or be measured if they won “Most Popular Team” in 2016 instead of the World Series?

THE ACADEMY: But “Black Panther’s” a great superhero movie!

ME: Listen to me, measure FILM AS A WHOLE, or die!

This Best Popular Film category is literally going against all that the Oscars is about! It basically takes the idea of excellence, and literally meshes it into something along the lines of the Teen Choice Awards or the MTV Movie Awards! I’m bringing this up today mainly because there was a recent piece written by Vanity Fair that I feel needs to be talked about. Let’s take a look at this first statement from a suggestion.

“The best-popular-film category might not be presented at next year’s Oscars, but the Academy is still keeping the idea in its back pocket.”

Is that another way to say you’re keeping it alongside your ass? Because while you may not be doing such a thing intentionally, this sure as hell feels like such a thing is happening. That’s not the statement we’re going to dive into supreme detail about however, because we haven’t even taken a look at the next statement.

“Bailey also confirmed that the award was designed as a direct response to the ceremony’s disappointing ratings, which have fallen steadily over the last few years. Drawing viewers in by catering to mainstream hits “seemed like a good idea” to the board at the time, he said, but the pushback against the proposed new category was strong enough that the Academy ultimately announced that it would no longer introduce the prize at the 2019 ceremony. However, that is “not to say that the idea is dead,” he added. “Even after a stake was driven through its heart, there’s still interest.””

With that in mind, let me just remind you that I was one of the people who sat down for the most recent Oscars ceremony, which received the lowest ratings out of any of its telecasts. Some choose to blame the long runtime, while others will speak towards the political talk, and a certain orange individual will point out the following:

All opinions aside, the Oscars had its lowest ratings this year with 26.5 million viewers tuning in, which does not include people watching through digital or mobile platforms. Slight digression here, but this is just one of the event programs airing this year which has just hit a new low. The Emmys and Country Music Awards have both suffered to the point where they too have received the lowest ratings of all their telecasts. The Super Bowl just received its lowest ratings since 2009. The MTV VMAs also had their lowest rated show this year, which believe it or not, means they went two years in a row having their lowest rated show. This is a problem for sure, and I’m willing to bet part of it has to do with politics, a lack of attention span, and maybe the fact that streaming doesn’t always get tracked in ratings (although Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV are slight exceptions).

But speaking of ratings, I cannot see into the future, but I don’t see how this popular award is going to help! The fact that you guys are even still thinking about it NOW is baffling to me. I remember it was said that this award was going to be “postponed” from the next ceremony, but now that conversations about it have resurfaced, I feel the need to add in my two cents about it. The fact that the Oscars is considering doing this is just sad. It’s sad because I’m a movie fan, and as a movie fan, I watch the Oscars not because I’m saluting movies that make lots of money, but because I’m saluting movies in terms of brilliance and the very idea of film as a whole. In fact, this category, Best Popular Film, is an insult to moneymaking films. I said it once before, this reminds me of the Best Animated Feature category. It’s a category for movies that MIGHT NOT BE GOOD ENOUGH for Best Picture or other categories, but hey! We have more nominations to gloss over! Maybe there’s an argument to be made that the Oscars is already somewhat of a popularity contest because you have a group of people voting on movies that they’ve experienced in the past and everything on the nomination list is from their perspective. My response, try making your own award show, where you are the control center of all operations, and avoid putting your opinion into one thing related to it.

With that in mind, let’s move onto another part of the article.

“Bailey pointed out that there is Oscar precedent for handing out two different sorts of best-picture awards. At the very first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929, the best-picture category was split into two sections, with one recognizing the best-box-office hit (“Wings”), and the other the best artistic production (“Sunrise”).”

You understand the meaning of “worst for first,” right? This somewhat reminds me of what the Golden Globes tends to do every year, because for their awards, they seem to split the awards by genre. For certain awards in both movies and TV, we see the label towards the end, “Comedy or Musical” or “Drama.” While that may make the awards somewhat less prestigious, it still works better than the Academy’s popular film idea because at least it has nothing to do with how much money a film makes, or the amount of people who follow it simply because it is either trendy or in the moment. I’ll be honest, while to some people this might be a stretch, should “Avengers: Infinity War” be nominated for Best Picture, I’d be very happy for it. We are getting towards the end of the year, I don’t know how long such a thought will stay in my mind, but still. If it were nominated for Best Popular Picture, it would be an insult to the movie. Hey, movie! You’ve got a fan following! Ignore the critics! The fans love you! Here’s your kiddie table!

And speaking of fans, let’s take one word in the first quote and talk about it in depth. Catering.

Catering is fine when you’re having a special event such as a party or a wedding. Other than that, catering sucks! The fact that the Oscars might ignore their previous ways and CATER to mainstream audiences is just abysmal! You know who does that? The MTV Movie Awards! Most of the awards are for films that mainstream audiences know! That’s not always a bad thing, but what if there’s a year that all the mainstream audiences watch whatever happens to be disposable garbage? To the mainstream audiences, watching films is entertaining, not a job. Not only that, but some of the movies you’ll find are ones that critics are not even giving deep attention towards! When you have Kristen Stewart winning THREE awards for her performance in the “Twilight” franchise, that is a not a positive sign.

Now this is the part where things get a whole lot worse:

“Bailey also tipped off some of the Academy’s ongoing conversations about the future of the organization and the televised Oscar ceremony, noting that Disney, which owns ABC, is trying to “expand the awards to millennials,” in order to help the telecast thrive through ABC’s 2028 contract.”

I KNEW IT! DISNEY WAS BEHIND THIS ALL ALONG! HOLY F*CKING MICKEY MOUSE I WAS RIGHT!

OK, well, maybe not entirely. I’m not sure if Disney has a hand in the Best Popular Film category or not, it’s hard to say. But the fact that the Oscars is going from the most prestigious award show in movie history to a yearly event that solely depends on ratings means that it is basically going through a humongous downfall. This is an issue that is worse than the politics! This is an issue that is worse than the long hours that I’ll honestly sit through but others can’t take! This is an issue that relates heavily to one of the biggest complaints associated with sports for younger athletes, especially some in the millennial generation. The participation trophy. What’s going on here is that the Best Popular Film award is the kiddie table award that says a movie wins something but in reality, wins nothing. They get the award equivalent of a sticker. Yay! You voted in the election! Chances are you just killed us all! But hey, here’s a sticker for your valuable efforts!

I got to ask a serious question though, how exactly is the Oscars going to target millennials? What are they, going to advertise the show with glossy backgrounds and everyone has Snapchat dog filters on their heads? Are they going to go nostalgic and celebrate the movies the nineties’ kids used to watch? Maybe put all of the older Oscars telecasts on Netflix or the new Disney streaming service? But if you are only trying to force voters to vote for movies that mostly millennials watch, then the Academy has crossed the line. I could go into catering, but I’ve already done enough of that, haven’t I?

I may have calmed down about this a couple of months ago, especially when you consider that it was announced that this award was postponed. But to me this is something the movie nerd community is likely to talk about. It’s like the comic book nerd community trying so hard to talk about the latest updates on the supposed “Gambit” movie that should be happening sometime soon. Maybe never, I don’t know. I thought the reason the Oscars was going to implement this was to boost ratings, and boosting ratings is not a bad idea considering what their audience consisted of this year, but this is not the way to do such a thing. The Oscars, is about prestige. It’s about celebrating the best in film. Let’s keep it that way.

Thanks for reading this post! If you are interested in more of my content be sure to check out my review for this year’s Rhode Island Comic Con! I went for the fourth year in a row and there are so many reasons to love it! Please check out my post! I will say I have no scheduled reviews for this weekend (that could change though), but there is a movie I did see on Monday called “Second Act.” I’m not going into detail about it whatsoever, my lips are sealed, it doesn’t even come out until December 21st. I don’t know when the review embargo lifts, but I can guarantee you’ll see my review when the Rotten Tomatoes ratings are revealed. There’s already verdicts on Facebook, but let’s face it, it’s Facebook. Who really cares at this point? Be sure to follow Scene Before with your email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you read the Vanity Fair article or hear about this whole fiasco somewhere else? Or, since we are taking shots at the Oscars, what do you think is the worst thing about the Academy or the Oscars? Let me know down below, and speaking of down below, if you want to read the Vanity Fair article I’m talking about, click the link at the end of the post! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

VANITY FAIR ARTICLE: https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2018/11/best-popular-oscar-ratings-john-bailey

RHODE ISLAND COMIC CON 2018 REVIEW/HAUL https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2018/11/11/rhode-island-comic-con-2018-review-haul/

Rhode Island Comic Con 2018 Review/Haul

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! This is the fourth year in a row I have gone to an event that pretty much defines who I am at this point, Rhode Island Comic Con! Over the years I have met some fantastic guests there including Charles Martinet (Super Mario Bros., The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman, Keeping Up with the Joneses), Brianna Hildebrand (Deadpool, The Exorcist), Curtis Armstrong (Revenge of the Nerds, Supernatural), and Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit). This year, the guest lineup continued to not disappoint. The lineup featured guests from all walks of nerd life, from “Star Wars” to “Deadpool” to “It” to “The Walking Dead” to even “Impractical Jokers.” Not only that, but this year, while I will say guest-wise is probably not #1 for RICC (which says something based on how fantastic this year’s lineup is), is the best in terms of one thing many customers have talked about as their pet peeve with the con. Organization.

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Let’s take this from the top. In 2014, RICC has its third convention ever. They get shut down by the fire marshal on their first day, Saturday, due to poor attendance flow. Capacity exceeded by over three thousand people. As for those who left the convention, they couldn’t reenter, and there were also people who simply couldn’t enter no matter what. Rhode Island Comic Con f*cked up. In 2015, the first year I went, it started out well, then my father and I decide to go from the Dunkin Donuts Center to the Rhode Island Convention Center. I wanted to catch a panel. Turns out the time spent getting from one place to another took forever and a half. This year, I had a slightly similar, but MUCH LESS worrisome issue. In 2016, the convention decided to try out their eventual continued method of having some headlining or popular guests on the Dunkin Donuts Center floor. A few of these guests included Millie Bobby Brown, Stan Lee, and the one I wanted to see the most, Gal Gadot. One of the advantages of Stan Lee and Millie Bobby Brown in regards to the customers is that they had multiple opportunities to see them. However, Gal Gadot was only at the convention for one day. Despite getting in somewhat early, I had to end up waiting in line for five hours, with an unusual twist and turn brought into the mix. This caused me to miss Gal Gadot’s panel too. How unfortunate. In 2017, I had trouble getting into a panel for Channel Awesome, there was no real line for Channel Awesome’s room. Even employees didn’t know all of what to do in this sort of situation. Also, one of the biggest downfalls of 2017’s Rhode Island Comic Con is after walking in, chances are some people are going to want to go into the Rhode Island Convention Center portion of the event. That’s where many of the guests, vendors, and panels happen to be located. To do that, you basically have to go around the entire Dunkin Donuts center in a circle. Should I say donut? Speaking of limited options regarding travel, the skybridge between the Rhode Island Convention Center for 2016 and 2017 was a one way. Want to switch back to the Dunkin Donuts Center from the Rhode Island Convention Center? Well, go down an escalator, leave the building, go find a small entry, get scanned by someone, and you can party all you want from there. This year however, NONE OF THAT WAS THERE! YAY!

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I love Rhode Island Comic Con, but when it comes to placing all of their event’s vendors, celebrities, and crowds, this is where they fail. This year, I cannot even believe that I was on a two-way skybridge at Rhode Island Comic Con. Guys, it’s not that hard! It all worked out! One interesting thing about this year though is that most of the celebrities who resided in the Rhode Island Convention Center were not on the usual floor that a majority of the celebrities of previous shows happened to be on. Instead, they were on the fifth floor. Many of them were in a ballroom which has also been used for several of the event’s panels in the past. This pretty much meant the main floor was completely dedicated to shopping, charity, sponsors, contests, and artists. The Dunkin Donuts Center is about the same as it has been since 2016. You’ve got your vendors, you have some places to grab food court-style grub, including of course, Dunkin Donuts. Downstairs contains some celebrities on the show floor, and more vendors. The one big difference this year however is that the photo ops are not organized down in the Dunkin Donuts Center. Instead, it’s inside the main area of the Rhode Island Convention Center. It’s located in a region where for the past couple of years, celebrity guests would have been sitting down signing autographs as customers wait in line. There’s a different organizer this year as well. Last year was Celeb Photo Ops whereas this year is Epic Photo Ops. I can’t compare the service between the two, mainly because I didn’t get a professional photo op this year. I took photos alongside celebrities at their table, which I actually think has more value attached to it because pro photo ops usually consist of fast-paced lines and limited interaction. In some cases with photos at the table, the lines to get to the celebrity may be on the slower side, but it’s worth it because you get to have a higher chance at an actual face-to-face conversation.

Speaking of face-to-face conversations, I’ve gotten to have one at a panel this year. No, I wasn’t onstage talking to someone, but the whole panel was essentially a Q&A. With that in mind, one of the questions that was taken happened to be mine. This panel I’m referring to is “Impractical Jokes from Murr with Special Guest Joey Fatone!” In other words, the panel was for guests James Murray (Impractical Jokers) and Joey Fatone (Impractical Jokers: After Party). My question for the panel regarded the “Impractical Jokers” show asking what might be the best fake names the guys have ever came up with. James and I seem to agree that “Disfatt Bidge” is brilliant.

On the topic of James Murray: Pet Cremator and Grandparent Divorce Attorney, I happened to meet and talk to him when he was at the con on Sunday. He was there for Saturday and Sunday, and to my surprise, his line was actually capped for much of the time I was there. I know that having someone from “Impractical Jokers” show up to the con can make that particular guest stand out because at least in my book, “Impractical Jokers” isn’t all that nerdy. It has individuals who have done nerdy things and are interested in said things as well, but still. That status, believe it or not, actually may have helped Murr. Many guests have showed up to Rhode Island Comic Con this year. Most of the guests are from movies and TV. For the most part, the movie or TV show would have a nerdy connotation to it. For TV shows, these include “Star Trek,” “The Walking Dead,” “Smallville,” “Power Rangers,” and “Batman: The Animated Series.” For movies, these include “Star Wars,” “It,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Shazam,” and “Deadpool.” Having a less than nerdy individual from a less than nerdy show might add some diversity to Rhode Island Comic Con and maybe bring in a different audience or for the nerds, show to others that they enjoy things that don’t have superheroes, lightsabers, blasters, or explosions. When it comes to meeting James Murray, I got him to sign my copy of “Awakened.” This is a book he wrote alongside Darren Wearmouth, which will soon be getting a sequel called “The Brink.” I also got a selfie alongside him, which is a bit different from what people usually do at these cons, which is allow somebody around the table to snap a pic of the celebrity simply standing next to you. Interesting approach, but I feel bad for those customers who don’t have a front-facing camera or a cell phone because then it slightly alters the tradition. Also, out of the celebrities I’ve met at a con, I found Murr to be perhaps the most outgoing of all of them. When I was in line for him on Sunday, he’s coming out of this private area and without me even looking at him, he pats me on the shoulder like a champ. Not only that, but he just starts hi-fiving and greeting everyone, it’s like the most charismatic game show host ever. Although then again, I guess Murr is the most charismatic game show host ever because he will be hosting a game show with the other Jokers called “Misery Index” which is set to air on TBS.

Also, I couldn’t get a picture, but Murr’s banner at one point had a sticky note with the words “FERRETS RULE!” and his eyebrows and facial hair was censored out by more sticky doohickeys. Some of you reading might be aware that James has a ferret tattoo on his leg, which by the way he did show. However when it was revealed, it was not in the best of situations. Murray explained that he was in the process of flipping over his mattress, as one does. Long story short, he hit his bedside and now there’s a bruise on his tattoo. Things happen I guess. By the way, that driver’s license photo where Murray has no eyebrows. IT’S REAL AND HE BROUGHT IT WITH HIM.

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Another guest I met was Tara Strong (The Fairly Oddparents, Teen Titans Go!). If you have ever been a modern day kid, chances are you have been exposed to her work somewhere. I’ve seen her as Timmy Turner on Nickelodeon’s “The Fairly Oddparents,” she’s been some numerous voices on “Family Guy,” she can be found as a voice on “My Little Pony,” she even had an uncredited role as “Bellybutton” in “Ted.” I got her autograph, not for me, but a friend. And I assure you all right now reading this that what I’m about to tell you is a true story. I met Tara Strong on Friday, November 2nd. Nice gal, she managed to ask me if I was voting the midterm elections. I didn’t. Part of me wanted to, but when you have to take an hour and a half train commute from one town to the other and back, it affects such a thing really. However, she handed me a sticker promoting “Nerds Who Vote” as a sign of encouragement. That night however, I was going through my stuff and realized that I left my autograph in the building! I went back the next day, cutting the line to get into the convention without even knowing. But it was my birthday weekend so in my book it’s OK. I go inside and rush to Tara Strong’s table. She’s not there yet, and I’m not the first in line. Once everything’s all situated there, one person asks me what I’m there for. I was expecting them to disregard my comment saying I left an autograph behind. Turns out it was in front of Tara waiting for me!

There’s good people in this world! Thank gosh! If I was told I had to cough up money for another autograph, I would have. I promised my friend I’d bring this to her. However, I have such massive respect for those working at Rhode Island Comic Con and Tara Strong herself for saving this autograph for me as opposed to leaving it hanging somewhere mysterious.

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Another item I got autographed was my “Deadpool 2” steelbook. This bad boy is a Best Buy exclusive which came with a 4K, Blu-ray, and digital copy code. It also has an extended director’s cut marketed as the “Super Duper $@%!#& Cut.” Interestingly, it also came with a slipcover featuring a bubble quote from “Deadpool” saying “I like to be on top. Obviously.” There were a number of “Deadpool” related guests announced including Stefan Kapicic, Morena Baccarin, Brianna Hildebrand, and creator Rob Liefeld. Believe it or not, Liefeld’s appearance kind of flew over my head. Plus, I was more interested the people from the movie side of things. Also, Brianna Hildebrand unfortunately cancelled her appearance, which ultimately wasn’t too big of a deal to me, because I already met her back at the same con in 2016. Nice lady if you ask me. But I gotta be honest, meeting Stefan Kapicic was very interesting. It’s almost like he was more excited to meet me than I was to meet him. I presented my steelbook to him and just calmly loses his mind. It’s easy to tell Kapicic has a passion for what he’s doing. I think he almost gave me a free autograph because I asked how much it was and the timing between signing and all of the words and phrases mentioned in our talk made Kapicic or his assistant either forget this is a job or become so infatuated with my product that signing it was a privilege. Speaking of infatuation, when it comes to Morena Baccarin, I spent a tad less time with her, but to be fair, she had a longer line. She didn’t have too much to say, but she was very nice.

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Oh yeah, I also got a pic with her. We make a great 20 year age difference couple. Sorry if her husband has to see this.

Another celebrity I met happened to be Meat Loaf. To be honest, I never really listened to his music, so there’s not much I can say about that. The only thing I’ve really seen him in was “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” which coincidentally, had another celebrity who appeared at the con the same weekend, Tim Curry, AKA Dr. Frank-N-Furter. The biggest highlight of the interactions has to be the introduction. I introduce myself, and he just mocks me for acting like I forgot my own name.

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That’s all the celebrities I met, but I also managed to encounter some awesome items for purchase as well! Well, mostly for purchase.

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This first item was actually free. I played a game where I happened to have a chance at winning an inexpensive item. The one I ended up winning was a wristband. Judging by the band, you might be able to guess that Dave & Busters was a sponsor this year of Rhode Island Comic Con. The items on the table basically consisted of whatever cheap merchandise could be produced and have a slapping of Dave & Busters’s own name on it.

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Moving onto more expensive items, I stopped at this one shop I’ve actually already visited this year at New York Comic Con and Terrificon. The shop goes by the name 3D Printing by Muckychris. They’ve had some nice 3D printed materials, with some standouts inluding the “Fight Club” soap bar and Darth Vader’s damaged mask as it was seen in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” However my item of choice at this year’s Rhode Island Comic Con happened to be a t-shirt. When I saw this shirt at Terrificon, I wanted to desperately get said shirt. I didn’t. When I went to New York Comic Con, I noticed the store, but they apparently weren’t advertising the shirt I wanted. To be fair, they had another cool shirt that stood out to me, but I ended up passing on it. However, when they arrived at Rhode Island Comic Con and I saw my shirt of choice, I felt like I scored. Well, almost scored, in all technicality. Turns out they didn’t have a large! I ended up settling for an extra large however, which isn’t a bad thing. The shirt, as suggested in the picture, is a parody of the “Solo: A Star Wars Story” logo, and instead says “Sulu: A Star Trek Story.” Many people know Han Solo as a “Star Wars” character. For this shirt, the logo was switched up to cater to a “Star Trek” character. And you know what? I don’t know how big these fights are nowadays, but if they are still around, I should literally be going around wearing this shirt to whatever “Star Wars” or “Star Trek” convention I come across. I say that because this shirt can almost resemble a demonstration for sci-fi franchise peace. While people continuously fight over which franchise is superior, I’ll just be walking around in this $20 t-shirt saying, let’s come together! May the force live long and prosper! Also, 3D Printing by Muckychris handmakes products in New Jersey and can be found on this website below.

https://muckychris.patternbyetsy.com/

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Speaking of t-shirts, I went by one shop I’ve gone to at Terrificon and actually purchased something from, MTC Toys. However, this time, instead of getting two t-shirts, I ended up getting one. The variety in the store is certainly something to get excited about, but the prices are a little less exciting at times. However, with as much variety as this store has, you can basically argue that the price doesn’t really matter. The shirt that really stood out to me, as you see in the picture above, is one that resembles the guys from “The Big Bang Theory” as DC superheroes. For the record, I have a strong feeling this t-shirt is completely based on the “Justice League” cosplay the show’s characters had to do for a contest at the comic book store on New Years Eve. Sheldon was The Flash, Leonard was Green Lantern, Howard was Batman, Raj, to his everlasting shame, was Aquaman. Even Penny and a guy she knew, Zack, joined the party as Wonder Woman and Superman. Based on their names, you can probably guess who is who. As you can also see, the shirt also has the saying “The Big Bang Theory” has popularized over the years, “BAZINGA!” MTC Toys is from North Tonawanda, NY. They have been to many comic cons for over two decades, selling lots of t-shirts and fan merch.

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Lastly for clothing is a sweatshirt I’ve actually worn not long after I got it. As you can see, it is for Marvel’s “Iron Man.” I consider Iron Man to be one of my favorite superheroes, and his interpretation by Robert Downey Jr. is unbelievable. But I gotta say, while this sweatshirt is certainly nice-looking, I don’t think it was worth the “on-sale” price of $39.99. It didn’t take long for the front zipper of this thing to stop working (yes, there’s a front and back zipper). To be honest, while I might end up wearing this sweatshirt again, it REALLY could be better. However, what is better than this sweatshirt is the store where I got it from, FYE. FYE has actually been a part of Rhode Island Comic Con every year since I went, and each year they seem to switch up the merchandise to spice things up in one way or another. Some standouts included an FYE exclusive “Hocus Pocus” Blu-ray which came with four glow in the dark postcards. There were a lot of Funko Pops, including exclusives from FYE itself and seasonal conventions. The store even had some of the items you’d find at the FYE booth in New York Comic Con. Some of these items included eight “Friday the 13th” movies inside a steel lunchbox, a Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years blanket, and I believe they had cereal as well, because FYE is somewhat known for selling food. If I had to go back in time and give up this sweatshirt though, I probably wouldn’t mind doing such a thing. After all, FYE also had a jacket resembling the one Finn wore in the “Star Wars” franchise. Although at the same time, part of me might be safer not getting it so I don’t get any criticism for dressing up like a black guy. Still, cool jacket.

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As you guys know, I am a movie nerd, so therefore, this next purchase satisfied my hunger. There’s one store I went to whose name I actually don’t know which had a bunch of wine glasses. I don’t drink so that’s none of my concern. However, I did manage to pick up something else they had, ceramic coasters. These things were $7 each, but I managed to get four coasters for $25. As you can see, these coasters are for “Blade Runner 2049,” “John Wick,” “Justice League,” (2017 film) and “The Thing.” (John Carpenter) I enjoyed all of these movies so these purchases were certainly done without regret.

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One of my cheapest purchases at the con comes from Mad Mike’s Emporium. Mad Mike’s is a shop from East Greenwich, RI, selling new and used toys, video games, collectibles, and rare findings. I ignored the toys here, however there was one video game that absolutely caught my eye. One of my childhood games is “Need For Speed: Underground 2.” I have played its predecessor, “Need For Speed: Underground.” However, the most complex platform I’ve ever played it on is the Game Boy Advance. Therefore, some might argue I’ve never played the game for real. I believe I first saw the game at the shop on Sunday. If that’s the case, I didn’t buy it because I had overpriced food in my hand and I was looking for a place to sit down. Once I heard the price, $5, I was dead-on intrigued. I just started playing the game, and I see some of the differences between this game and its sequel, but I’m enjoying it so far.

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The last purchases I’ll go over come from a shop called Horror Decor. Their catchphrase is “Make every day a living nightmare.” One of my everlasting nightmares is the fact that Blockbuster Video is on its last legs. Speaking of which, the store managed to have two items that truly stood out to me. The first one is a Blockbuster tote bag and the other is a pillow that resembles a Blockbuster Membership Card. Before I found these gems of badassery, I always wanted some sort of merchandise related to Blockbuster. I go to stores like Newbury Comics and Thinkgeek and find a shirt that says “Blockbuster and Chill” from time to time. However I never officially got my hands on it either due to a lack of intrigue or the sleeves not really being the ones a man should have. These two items however, are just plain awesome. There’s a good chance that around Christmas time I’ll be using that tote bag to carry in gifts that hopefully are delivered by December 24th or 25th, that way I don’t have to give late fees to my recipients. And the pillow, while it may not be the all time most comfortable thing I’ve laid on, will certainly be a fantastic addition to my mancave. Also, just so you know, Blockbuster is not completely dead. There is still a location in Bend, Oregon. So if I were to make a trek there sometime, I’d probably ask if I could use my pillow as a valid membership card. I’d probably get a no, but I’d rather get that “no” than lose physical media altogether.

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If you read my post for last year’s Rhode Island Comic Con and what I did there, chances are you may know that one of my purchases was for the original “Star Wars” trilogy. For the record, when I say original “Star Wars” trilogy, that means the original trilogy before all of the special editions. One reason why I value that purchase so much is because it takes away some of what made the special editions somewhat cringeworthy. It removes some of the added CGI, Darth Vader’s “No” at the end of “Return of the Jedi,” and the infamous moment where Han Solo doesn’t shoot Greedo first. However, on Friday, November 2nd, I think I made the 2018 special edition of “Star Wars,” and that is partially in thanks to the 501st Legion, who has partnered with charities such as The Jimmy Fund and Make-A-Wish. In this special edition, not only does Han not shoot first, Han is not even involved in the duel whatsoever. Instead, the dorky Earthling who lacks some people skills named Jack Drees is doing all of the work. “Star Wars” fans will never get to see the final cut, but they get to savor over this image.

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When it comes to Rhode Island Comic Con, this has been another great year. And it is probably likely the year where I’ve had the least complaints about how things are run. The vendors are lively and know their audience. There is so much to do and see. The celebrity lineup this year, again, is full to the brim and brings tons of variety. The skybridge IS ACTUALLY TWO WAY! THANK GOSH! I’ll probably be coming back to Rhode Island Comic Con next year mainly because it is a tradition at this point. I’ve been four years in a row, might as well make it five! I will also say that Altered Reality, the company that organizes Rhode Island Comic Con does have some other conventions I want to check out. There’s one convention that goes on during the summer called ComiCONN that goes down every year. It takes place at the Foxwoods casino in Ledyard, CT. It’s smaller than Rhode Island Comic Con, but it would be fun to go at least for a day. Altered Reality is also expanding their lineup, because they have a new con on the weekend of May 3rd through May 5th. It is called Epic Comic Con. It’s set to take place at the Showboat Atlantic City. The Showboat is a casino which opened in 1987, closed in 2014, and reopened in 2016. I don’t know if I’ll be going there, because school might be serious at that time. Plus, if plans don’t change, May 3rd is also the release date for “Avengers 4,” so my priority that weekend would be to shove my review for that on the Internet as soon as possible. Although I will say, I visited the website for Epic Comic Con and it says that the con is supposed to be set for June 21st through the 23rd. So at this point, planning for the con is a mystery to me. As far as my next con goes, I don’t know what it will be. There’s PAX East coming up in March. That’s also the same month as CTGamerCon, which is set at the Mohegan Sun casino. Maybe I’ll go to that. Winter however is not the busiest time for cons, so I don’t think I’ll be going to any cons during the winter. We’ll see if anything comes up though. Thanks to Rhode Island Comic Con for another spectacular year and I hope to see the con again in 2019!

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Thanks for reading this post! Pretty soon I’m going to have my review for “The Grinch” which is in theaters now. It’s definitely making lots of money. My friend and I planned on seeing it at an IMAX, so we’re going to see what this is all about. Also, on Monday, I’m going to see “Second Act” starring Jennifer Lopez. For the record, the movie does not release until December 21st, which means it will ultimately be crushed by “Aquaman,” “Mary Poppins Returns,” and “Bumblebee.” However, I have reserved passes for an early screening so I’ll be getting to see the movie early. I don’t know when the review embargo lifts, but there’s a good chance you’ll probably have to wait about a month to see my review on the film. I don’t know. Be sure to stay tuned for that review, and a review you’ll see perhaps much earlier. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with a WordPress account or an email so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you go to Rhode Island Comic Con this year? What are your thoughts? Did you go before? What did you think then? Or, if you have any suggestions of future cons, near or far, that I should visit, what are they? Please list your suggestions in the comments! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!