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

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

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

Exquisite.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wrath of Man (2021): Jason Statham Protects Money and His Life from Getting Snatched

“Wrath of Man” is directed by Guy Ritchie (Snatch, The Gentlemen) and stars Jason Statham (Furious 7, Safe), Holt McCallany (Alien 3, Mindhunter), Jeffrey Donovan (J. Edgar, LBJ), Josh Hartnett (Penny Dreadful, 40 Days and 40 Nights), Chris Reilly (The Last Post, Game of Thrones), Laz Alonso (Battle of the Year, The Boys), Raúl Castillo (Looking, We the Animals), DeObia Oparei (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Dumbo), Eddie Marsan (V For Vendetta, Ray Donovan), and Scott Eastwood (Suicide Squad, Snowden) in a film about a man who recently joined a cash truck company and is responsible for moving lots of money around Los Angeles on a frequent basis. After an unexpected incident, H wants revenge over his son’s death.

“Wrath of Man” is a movie that I nearly slept on. But with advertising for it picking up in recent times, I decided to go see it Mother’s Day weekend as it was one of the bigger films out at the time. To be quite frank, I REALLY did not know what to expect. I thought this film would be okay, but I have recently been reflecting back to a time in recent memory when my dad and I went to see “Godzilla vs. Kong.” The trailer for “Wrath of Man” came up and he said that he would probably wait until this comes out on television to watch it. I somewhat agreed as it seemed like a somewhat standard action film starring Jason Statham, but at the same time, I feel like as one who has devoted himself to the industry, I had to see this for myself as it did have Guy Ritchie’s name on it. At the same time though, even though I have not seen every Guy Ritchie film, the ones that I have seen have not specifically impressed me. “Snatch” is wonderfully paced, but I honestly don’t even remember it. “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” is nice to look at, but also forgettable. “The Gentlemen” was too fast and too boring. It’s amazing how many people complained about “Tenet” being the hardest 2020 movie to understand when everything is flying in your face and down your throat lickety split in “The Gentlemen.” God, that movie almost gives me a headache the more I think about it. But was “Wrath of Man” worth watching? Is it something that is worth waiting for?

Cinematically, it is marvelous. The cinematography is some of the best of the year so far, and the opening sequence of the film put me right in. But other than that, it is your basic action flick starring Jason Statham. I am not the biggest fan of Guy Ritchie films, but much like how I have noticed distinctive styles from directors like Quentin Tarantino, Zack Snyder, and Wes Anderson, I feel like one of the highlights of Guy Ritchie films like “Snatch,” specifically a flair that feels like something only Guy Ritchie could provide, is missing. This really just feels like a run of the mill action film that almost crosses the threshold for cable TV background noise.

In fact, just for context, it has been nearly a month since I went out to watch this film. I remember some of it, but the more I reflect on it, the more disposable it feels. I do like some things about “Wrath of Man.” The concept of the film, while definitely not the highlight, is intriguing. Because the main character works for a company that deals with carrying around significant amounts of money, and because money is something that we as human beings somehow equate to happiness, even though there are times where we shouldn’t, it packs a bit of stakes into the story from the getgo. The other thing I like in this film is the music, and I do not mean the score. I have nothing bad to say about it, but nothing really good either. It gets the job done. What I really like about the film is there is this one song that plays at a point, specifically Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash, and ever since I heard it not only in the trailers for this film, but in the actual movie, I have the tune from it nearly ingrained in my mind. It’s almost like second nature to me at times. This sort of reminds me of another film, specifically “Thor: Ragnarok,” which despite how I think it is overrated, I will say one of the positives is that the film managed to successfully ingrain Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” into my head from one moment to another.

When I say that this is a basic action flick starring Jason Statham, I am not lying. There are elements that encapsulate that notion, but I am not saying it is a bad movie, and I think part of it is because of how Jason Statham handles his performance. Statham is, based on what I have seen from him, not exactly the most Shakespearean of actors working today, but he has this range that makes him one of the more attractive individuals for action movies. He his this gritty tone from him, one he has also shown in movies like those in the “Fast & Furious” franchise, that he also brings into “Wrath of Man.” Is he arguably playing himself? That is difficult to say, but I think for Statham, I think this comparison is kind of like Kevin Hart. I say so because I love Kevin Hart, even though he plays some incarnation of himself in almost every movie he is in. At the same time though, in the case of Hart, it is not a bad thing, because Hart has a great personality and he does his best to sell that with each go. So if Statham continues down this road where he keeps playing an incarnation of himself, I would be worried for his range, but if he keeps entertaining audiences, I will not be completely disappointed.

Without spoilers, the other main thing I really like from “Wrath of Man” is the ending. This film has a way of splitting different chapters or acts, and I think they did a really good job at setting the tone for the last chapter with the name. Now I had no idea what any of it would mean or what context the name would provide, but when I saw it play out on screen, it felt rather satisfying. I think it was a well written climax overall and I would say that Guy Ritchie did an excellent job at helming it. While it is not my favorite climax in film history, it is definitely one of the better ones I have seen in recent memory.

In the end, “Wrath of Man” is pretty entertaining, but it does come with some basics that make the story and walkthrough of the film feel somewhat familiar. In fact, parts of it kind of reminded me of the recent film titled “Honest Thief” starring Liam Neeson. Although, I will admit, the way Jason Statham carries the film makes it all worthwhile. It almost feels like there are select scenes written with him specifically in mind, which is a good thing if you ask me. Would I watch “Wrath of Man” again? Not instantaneously, but I would not shy away from it either. If I do not buy the Blu-ray, I would at least give it a quick glimpse if it shows up on a cable network. For all I know, it may be worth your time as well. I’m going to give “Wrath of Man” a respectable 7/10.

Thanks for reading this review! As you may have noticed, I have been outrageously busy creating a full week of “Star Wars” content through my 7 Days of Star Wars event. This has been a pleasure to work on, even though there may have been moments where I wanted to pull out my hair because of how painstaking it may have been to meet certain deadlines, but if you want to check out those reviews, the links are listed below. I hope you enjoy the reviews as much as I enjoyed creating them.

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

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

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

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

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/27/the-empire-strikes-back-1980-i-love-you/

RETURN OF THE JEDI: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/28/return-of-the-jedi-1983-i-see-the-good/

THE FORCE AWAKENS: https://flicknerd.com/2021/05/29/star-wars-the-force-awakens-2015-the-biggest-blast-in-the-galaxy/

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

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

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

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

But speaking of reviews, I have plenty of reviews for new movies coming soon including “Profile,” “Army of the Dead,” “A Quiet Place Part II,” and I will also be seeing “In the Heights” tomorrow so I will have my thoughts on that too. I do not have any set days, but my next review should be up by Saturday at the latest, so stay tuned. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account, and don’t forget to check out the Facebook page so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Wrath of Man?” What did you think about it? Or, of the four collaborations between Guy Ritchie and Jason Statham, which is your favorite? I’ve only seen this one and “Snatch,” so… I don’t know if I should participate. Either way, if you do want to participate, leave your thoughts in the comments section! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020): The Most Triumphant Review to Unite the World

The year is 2020, COVID-19 is the talk of the town. Political talk never ever ends. Toilet paper is a precious commodity. Hand sanitizer is the trendiest item for the past few months. The Internet is a war zone. Not with weapons, but with words, name-calling, and reminders that masks go over the nose. One man must unite the world, and that man is…

The Movie Reviewing Moron.

“Bill & Ted Face the Music” is directed by Dean Parisot (RED 2, Galaxy Quest) and stars Alex Winter (Grand Piano, Freaked), Keanu Reeves (John Wick, The Matrix), Kristen Schaal (Bob’s Burgers, My Spy), Samara Weaving (Ready or Not, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Brigette Lundy-Paine (Atypical, The Glass Castle), Anthony Carrigan (Gotham, Barry), Erinn Hayes (Kevin Can Wait, Childrens Hospital), Jayma Mays (Paul Blart: Mall Cop, American Made), Holland Taylor (The Practice, Two and a Half Men), Kid Cudi (How to Make It in America, Need for Speed), William Sadler (Iron Man 3, The Shawshank Redemption), and Jillian Bell (Bless the Harts, Workaholics).

This film is the third installment to the “Bill & Ted” franchise, and the first one that has come out in almost thirty years. Years after their excellent adventure and bogus journey, Bill & Ted are happily married to their princess wives. They are also loving fathers to their daughters. Suddenly, the duo is alerted of a world-ending event in the future, and they must write a song that will unite everyone, as they were destined to.

“Bill & Ted Face the Music” is one of those films that I became more excited to watch as the year went on. Part of it is because the 2020 calendar happens to be losing more films by the day. Films like “Black Widow,” “No Time to Die,” “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” “Dune,” and so on. But “Bill & Ted Face the Music” was one of the early films to release when studios and exhibtors were collaborating to get moviegoing back on track this summer. Having a duel release in theaters and on demand, the film received mostly positive reviews.

But I didn’t watch it at first.

There are a few reasons why. Movies like “Unhinged,” “The New Mutants,” and “Tenet” were more important for me to tackle at the time. And more importantly, I still haven’t seen the first two “Bill & Ted” installments. Thankfully, now that I have, I can declare that both are wonderfully quirky, hilarious, and both times I ended up wanting Bill & Ted to be my best bros. Yeah, they are idiots, they do not really have brains, but they have enough charisma to make them some of the most lovable idiots on the face of the earth. I also have to say, I wish more people talked like the main duo did in real life. I would like to just have the occasional moment where I say something and do an air guitar solo, even if the moment does not call for it.

At the same time though, this is a sequel that is many years in the making. It has been a long while since Bill & Ted had their time, and it was hard for me to wonder if seeing these two grown men acting like their younger selves would work. This is especially true when I look at an actor like Keanu Reeves, who has evolved quite a bit since his portrayals of Ted. He has gone from playing hyperactive, maybe somewhat quirk-filled characters like Ted and Johnny Utah to the true badass grit that I managed to get out of John Wick.

If you want to know the truth, “Bill & Ted Face the Music” is one of the most triumphant film experiences of the year. When it comes to pure fun, “Bill & Ted” has consistently been top notch. “Bill & Ted” is a franchise that has a universe that I quite honestly cannot take all that seriously. But makes the movies all the more enjoyable.

I know it is 2020, and partying is not allowed. But each time Bill & Ted happened to be on screen, it made me want to… PARTY ON DUDES! There is a sense of infectious joy to be had every time they do something. Bill & Ted could do something as simple as take a piss at a urinal while standing next to each other, and I would still be having fun with them. They could sit on a couch eating chips flipping channels on a television trying find something to watch, and I would still be having fun with them. They could wait in line at the DMV, sitting right next to some jackoff talking too loud on the phone, and I would still be having fun with them. Literally the best part of Bill & Ted as characters is the fact that they even exist to begin with. Now watch, they make a “Bill & Ted 4,” ruin everything about these two and perhaps I suddenly change my mind. But for now, everything is fine. I rest my case.

One of the biggest concerns I had for “Bill & Ted Face the Music” is whether Alex Winter’s and Keanu Reeves’s previous schtick would hold up even those the duo has aged. As somewhat suggested already, Bill & Ted’s schtick may be the absolute best part of this movie. Unless they are doing a full on remake where they erase everything about this current trilogy, I hope they never recast Winter and Reeves. They are the perfect fit for their characters, even if they are middle aged men acting like teenagers.

I also really like the daughters, played wonderfully by Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine. But before I continue with the positives I do have to mention one problem. As it has been taught throughout our history, it takes two to reproduce. A man and a woman. Evidence suggests that these two daughters have a mother that is still alive. Now, for all I know the mothers are not role models or incredibly abusive off-screen. But it is a little hard to believe that the daughters do not really take after their mothers, even in a minimal sense. They’re basically copies of Bill & Ted except that they’re women. They call each other dude, act cartoony, and obsess over music. Again, “Bill & Ted” is a universe that I do not take seriously 100% of the time, but this almost leans into a territory where it breaks the suspense of disbelief bar. Despite that, I will say their characters are well cast, funny, and their story in the film was fun to watch. I would not mind seeing their own movie if possible. Maybe they could do a “Bill & Ted” adult animated TV show where these two have a new adventure every day. It could be like “Rick & Morty” but with greater use of the word “whoa.”

I will also bring up one more thing about the movie that kind of surprised me. Remember “Transformers: Dark of the Moon?” Remember “Kingsman: The Secret Service?” When those movies end, they basically conclude the big climactic event that defines all that came before it, but they don’t really do anything else from there. “Bill & Ted Face the Music” does something similar. This movie has a big climax, but they just have something completely abrupt happen, and the movie just ends. It did not make me angry, but it made the end feel so sudden, it’s like celebrating your birthday, having your cake, then 25 other people cut all the slices for themselves before you can get one piece of it and eat it.

I want to talk about death. Death sucks. Life is definitely better. Stick to life.

With that being said, I want to talk about Death. He’s spectacular! If there were any moment in “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey” that happened to be a highlight, it would have to be when the duo interacts with Death. Most notably, when they play Battleship. It takes an ordinary scenario, but makes it the most hilarious thing on earth. I’m glad they got William Sadler to come back, because he embraces the character and once again, allows him to shine. I will say that I will remember his material in “Bogus Journey” more than “Face the Music,” but it was a pleasure watching Death in his return to the franchise. His story was fascinating and Sadler gives the role his all. There’s not much more to say.

In the end, “Bill & Ted Face the Music” is a spark of fun in a dumpster fire of a year. I wanted to see this movie when it came out, and I unfortunately avoided doing so at every opportunity. I can definitely say that “Bill & Ted Face the Music” is worth the wait. Not only is it worth my wait of avoiding it in theaters, avoiding it on PVOD, and holding out for physical media, but I can declare that for those who want a solid “Bill & Ted” sequel all these years later, you will most likely be pleased. I am going to give “Bill & Ted Face the Music” an 8/10.

“Bill & Ted Face the Music” is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. You can also find it on premium streaming services such as Google Play, VUDU, and Prime Video for a rental fee or a purchase price.

Thanks for reading this review! We are slowly approaching Thanksgiving weekend, and I have a few movie reviews lined up including “The Croods: A New Age,” which hits theaters this week. “Superintelligence,” which hits HBO Max this week. And if I have time, I’ll be sure to talk about the 2020 edition of Disney’s “Mulan,” which I just bought on 4K Blu-ray. I did not watch it when it first came out partially because I did not have Disney+ and I was much more focused on “Tenet.” I just watched the original Disney animation, so I am eager to see how the live-action version compares to its counterpart. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Bill & Ted Face the Music?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite “Bill & Ted” movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Gretel & Hansel (2020): You’ve Heard the Story. Prepare to Fall Asleep to It.

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“Gretel & Hansel” is directed by Oz Perkins, AKA Osgood Perkins (Legally Blonde, I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House) and stars Sophia Lillis (It, Sharp Objects), Samuel Leakey (MotherFatherSon), Charles Babalola (Bancroft, The Legend of Tarzan), Jessica De Gouw (Arrow, Dracula), and Alice Krige (Star Trek: First Contact, Chariots of Fire). This film is based on the classic tale by the Brothers Grimm. This has received adaptations in the past, but this is one of the latest attempts at adapting such material because well, originality is dead. So the best we can do now is take something in hopes of flipping it on its head hard enough to get something different, but also interesting.

Safe to say, this movie… Didn’t do that. I’ll get to that later.

Now, I will be fair to “Gretel & Hansel” here. Because the truth is, I am not that familiar with the material which this film happens to be based on. Have I heard the name thousands of times over the years? Sure. But you can say the same thing about my knowledge of other aspects regarding culture. Things like “Fortnite,” “Stranger Things,” “South Park,” Cracker Barrel, Red Lobster, Fanta, AKA a drink that wouldn’t exist if it were not for ties to Nazi Germany. It’s true by the way, look it up.

Let me just start off by stating some things I like about the movie. Oz Perkins does a really good job at providing an intimate feel to this picture. It made me wonder why I didn’t wait until say September or October to watch this. Granted, this film did come out in January, at least in U.S. cinemas that is, but if it came out in September and October, it would have provided a proper vibe for spooky season. After all, “Gretel & Hansel” is in the horror genre, it is genuinely creepy at times, not to mention kind of quirky, and the environment just screams “autumn.” In some ways, this film reminded me of the 2015 flick, “The Witch.” Now let me just say, I HATED “The Witch” upon my initial viewing, and I still haven’t watched it a second time. But I will admit, the style presented in “Gretel & Hansel” kind of reminded me of that movie. Things that stood out in this context include the slightly less than wide aspect ratio, the bold and nearly colorless grading, and the somewhat extended pace of the film. It all worked… At times.

In other times it was just… BOORRRRRRRRRING!

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Wow! I don’t think I’ve nearly come this close to tuning out a movie since maybe “Cats!” But let’s also be fair here, “Cats” is a disaster in every sense of the word that makes all other movies look like Shakespeare. Compared to “Cats,” which is an injection of infinite cyanide, “Gretel & Hansel” is one tiny little dart aimed at your leg. It hurts, maybe you’ll get to the point where you’ll pass out, but you’ll inevitably get back on the horse. Your chances of instant death are significantly reduced.

Nevertheless, I do want to point out, despite the fact that I do appreciate the art of filmmaking itself, not to mention an assortment of motion pictures that are perhaps, intentionally slow, take the “Blade Runner” films and “2001” as just a couple of core examples. I was just bored by whatever the heck was happening during “Gretel & Hansel.” I mean, I got the concept down willy nilly, but the in between of it all was just… tiresome. It’s really unfortunate that the movie just so happens to fall into a mess like this. Because there are several scenes that are visually stunning, not just from a practical perspective, but even some effects that are clearly fantastical manage to pop. There’s a nice blend between the grim–

Wait a minute, is that a pun? I think that’s a pun. Anyway…

There’s a nice blend between the grim reality and horrific fantasy here. Too bad I won’t remember a lot of it. In fact, as I write this review, I can only back track to what could be a very select few highlights of the film in terms of what I liked. Not the best of results if you ask me.

I will say though, when it comes to casting Gretel and Hansel for this film, I do think the department did a fine job when it comes to finding people who look the part and happen to provide fantastic chemistry. At this point, for an interpretation like 2020’s “Gretel & Hansel,” I almost cannot imagine anybody else filling in the shoes of these characters. They feel like two kids who try to work off each other despite having some differences. Given what time frame this movie takes place in and what this film in general has to offer, this feels like a legit brother and sister duo. Thumbs up to Claire Curry and Julie Harkin for their swell job on casting. In addition to that, thumbs up to both Sophia Lillis and Samuel Leakey for giving it their all in regards to their performances of their individual characters.

I don’t know what it really is about this movie… Why does it get a below average vibe from me? The production value is excellent and everyone involved does a top notch job. But the directing and screenplay doesn’t really seem to be that well executed when translated to screen. I can almost imagine the pitchroom meeting.

“We’re going to reinvent the German folktale for a new age! We do not need a lot of money to do it. The audience will take in the beauty and wonder of what will be a depressing world in which to live. It’s gonna be great.”

I like immersion and great production as much as the next guy. But if you have seen me review movies a lot over the past year or so, one of the big things I bring up is pacing. If you have a good movie, but it isn’t well paced. You’re not always gonna get a pass in that department. Did everything that happened in “Gretel & Hansel” need to happen? That’s a tough question to answer. Because guess what? This movie is ONLY EIGHTY-SEVEN MINUTES LONG! By today’s standards for feature films, that’s pretty freaking short! This is the Napoleon Bonaparte of feature films! If “Gretel & Hansel” cut out a lot of what made it slowly paced, I almost wonder if it would just perhaps barely be feature-length by technical standards. According to the Academy it would probably be a feature because by their standards, features are over forty minutes long. Same goes for the AFI (American Film Institute). But you might not get a pass from the Screen Actors’ Guild, which considers features to be seventy-five minutes at minimum. I wonder… Does that include credits? Just curious.

In the end, “Gretel & Hansel” is making me sleepy-eyed just thinking about it. Seriously, as I type this, my face is tilting towards my shoulder. I do not think I will be watching this film again anytime soon, despite the excellent production factors put into it. I enjoyed “Gretel & Hansel” as something to look at for an hour and a half, and compared to other movies that I will not watch again, I did not exactly want to rip my face off afterwards. However, that is not enough for this borefest to qualify as a quality movie. I’m going to give “Gretel & Hansel” a 4/10.

This year, man. This year. Although this film came out in January so this is somewhat normal. In other news… Disney is getting greedier than Mr. Krabs by making “Mulan” a Disney+ exclusive that you have to pay $29.99 TO WATCH ON TOP OF YOUR MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION. I’ll pass! I’m already paying for Prime Video, HBO Max, and I just got Peacock the other day! I am not that much of a streamer, and I don’t need more! By the way, my YEARLY PRICE for Peacock is the exact price you have to pay for “Mulan” on Disney+. Buh-bye for now!

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for “Capone,” starring Tom Hardy. I just bought the Blu-ray a couple weeks ago, and I popped it just this past week to gather some thoughts on it. Stay tuned for that review and other great content from Scene Before! Follow the blog through a WordPress account or an email to see the latest goings on! OR, if you want bonus content, like the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Gretel & Hansel?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your preferred adaptation of the “Hansel & Gretel” material? Are you an oldtimer who doesn’t want anyone on their lawn? Say the original material for all I care. Either way, there’s a good chance I have not checked out any of your answers so any thought I give to it may be invalid. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Missing Link (2019): Good Animation Is Not Endangered

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“Missing Link” is directed by Chris Butler (ParaNorman, Kubo and the Two Strings) and stars Hugh Jackman (X-Men, The Greatest Showman), Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy, Avatar), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks, Love Actually), Stephen Fry (V For Vendetta, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug), David Walliams (Britain’s Got Talent, Pudsey: The Movie), Timothy Olyphant (Santa Clarita Diet, Live Free or Die Hard), Matt Lucas (Doctor Who, Alice in Wonderland), Amrita Acharia (Game of Thrones, The Good Karma Hospital), and Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover, Due Date) in a film about an explorer who comes across a rare creature who we as an audience come to know as Mr. Link. It is eventually revealed that this creature has others of his kind and he calls upon the explorer who found him to help bring him to said others.

“Missing Link” comes from the brilliant folks at Laika, known for films like “Coraline,” “ParaNorman,” “The Boxtrolls,” and “Kubo and the Two Strings.” Granted, of the four films I just mentioned, I personally have witnessed two of them. But it does not change the fact that my experiences of watching those films were exhilarating and worth just about every second of my time. “Coraline” is just a blast! It’s a creative, slightly disturbing, and compelling animation from 2009 that I honestly question myself as to why I haven’t gone back to watch it just a few more times. And I’ll even say that “Kubo and the Two Strings” is even better! That film for now stands as a 10/10 in my book, and it’s up there with films like “Arrival” and “Captain America: Civil War” as one of my favorite films from 2016. As an aspiring screenwriter, it spoke to me. And wow! What Laika can do with stop motion animation is purely groundbreaking! As for “Missing Link,” it is not as good as those two films, but it’s still good enough to say it is worth a watch.

This film shines mostly for its upbeat and quick pace, and the film’s dialogue seems to fit the pace and vibe with ease. I really like the chemistry between all of the characters and there is a lot of humor in the film that didn’t feel immature. I look at particular animated films every now and then and see where they are going in terms of humor, they are CLEARLY trying to just get the attention of young children. Granted, that’s the typical stereotype when it comes to animated movies. Dancing! Fart jokes! Just write the script for the kids whose brains haven’t fully developed yet! Who cares if it’s s*it? Does Laika do that! Hell no! Instead, they are keeping all ages in mind while also trying to be smart, which is something I enjoy seeing from animated films or other movies that could probably cater towards families.

Although speaking of these films, “Missing Link” reminded me of a DreamWorks animated film that came out in 2009, specifically “Monsters vs. Aliens.” Granted, the storyline, not to mention animation style, is completely different, the ideas behind both films don’t really connect with each other. But I have a question.

Chris Butler, is “Monsters vs. Aliens” your favorite movie?

I mean, seriously! This film is called “Missing Link,” which is a decent title for a number of conceptual projects, but that’s not the point. If you have seen “Monsters vs. Aliens,” you may be aware that one of the monsters is a long-living fishman by the name of THE MISSING LINK! In fact, in the image above, he can be seen on the left! Now some of you may be thinking, “This is only a coincidence, how could this apply to what this jackass is saying?” Well, Mr. Link in this film also goes by the name “Susan.” If you are not familiar with “Monsters vs. Aliens,” Susan is the name of the main character of the film, who also goes by Ginormica, played by Reese Witherspoon. Is this film a secret tribute to a 2009 DreamWorks movie that played a part in my childhood? I ask because if that’s the case, holy s*it!

I also really like one thing the movie did towards the end, because it almost felt like a little trip into reality. It kind of reminded me of certain human issues that trace back to years before this film came out, and issues we continue to have today. It’s one reason why I really liked the character of Mr. Link so much, since I had the ability to sympathize with him. But it wasn’t like his character was a downer throughout the film. Much like some other characters, he was charismatic and had fitting dialogue to make me give him two thumbs up. In fact, compared to other animations I’ve seen, and this may be a bit of a stretch, the characters and vibe add up to be completely quirky. Granted, it makes sense as this is not entirely done on computers, unlike most modern day animated films and instead done through stop motion work. But the film felt like it could only come from one particular place. I will say, in terms of quirky animations, it’s got nothing on Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs,” but this is still worth pointing out.

I will say though, adding onto something I mentioned earlier, the one major disappointment I have regarding “Missing Link” is that other than the appreciation for its likable characters, quirky vibe, and compelling screenplay, it didn’t have the oomph factor that I would want out of a lot of movies. I may sound like a spoiled brat, but it felt like something was left out. There was a part of the movie during one of the first scenes that I thought was incredibly symbolic, but I won’t go into because it’s in none of the movie’s trailers. Simply put, despite my positive thoughts on the film, there was nothing to make me want to play the Blu-ray again right after watching it. Comparing the film to “Coraline” and “Kubo and the Two Strings,” I feel like those two films left a bigger impact on me. “Coraline” was probably an easy oomph for me because I was 9 and I wasn’t really familiar with too many films with this sort of style. But when I saw “Kubo and the Two Strings,” it felt like it was everything an animated adventure film should have been. Good balance between humor and seriousness, fantastic cast of characters, and a neat concept. Maybe I’m biased there too because that film sort of pays tribute to storytellers, which is a way I sort of see myself.

Although, if you do want to be wowed in some way by this film, I will say, stick around for the credits, because it actually shows part of the process that goes into filming a stop motion scene. It’s really a sight for the eyes.

In the end, I really do recommend “Missing Link,” but it is also the weakest of the Laika films I have witnessed thus far. It’s kind of like Christopher Nolan. My least favorite film of his is “Insomnia,” but it doesn’t mean I am going to avoid recommending it, because there are qualities that make it watchable. Plus, I like it better than some of the other animated films we have gotten so far this year, specifically “The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part” and the abomination against humanity known as “The Secret Life of Pets 2.” Laika is continuing to deliver original and exciting content, and while this film did not make much through its box office totals, I really hope it picks up on home video, especially in the family demographic. I’m going to give “Missing Link” a 7/10. Thanks for reading this review! I have couple more movies to review, I’m not sure I will be getting both out by the end of the week. To be honest, I’m not even sure if I’ll even be getting the first one out until next week because this weekend…

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I’m going to Terrificon! Terrificon is a three day event held at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT! It’s a convention that caters to fans of comics, sci-fi, fantasy, animation, and gaming! If you are at Terrificon this weekend, know who I am, or even if you don’t know who I am, feel free to shout my name from the rooftops! I will be walking around the convention center and various areas of the casino (although I am not gambling), so feel free to give me a hello at any time! If you want to keep yourself updated with everything I do here, I have a Facebook page that gives automated posts every time I upload something new on here, and speaking of things that are on here, give this post a like! Give this blog a follow either with your email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Missing Link?” What did you think about it? And this question is for everybody, but if someone named Susan replies to this, I will give it a like. What are y’all’s thoughts on DreamWorks’ “Monsters vs. Aliens?” Personally, it’s not their best animation but it’s better than some of the “Shrek” sequels and it’s nice to see Stephen Colbert playing the President of the United States, especially since every other day he makes fun of the President of the United States. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Booksmart (2019): Olivia Wilde Rocks Our World

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“Booksmart” is directed by Olivia Wilde (Tron: Legacy, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone) and stars Kaitlyn Dever (Last Man Standing, Justified) and Beanie Feldstein (Lady Bird, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising) as two academic besties who feel the need to let themselves have some fun, which is something that according to them, they have failed to do throughout their four years of high school. And as the movie suggests, the two carry the urge to have such fun in just a day away from their graduation.

I saw a trailer for “Booksmart” back in March. And when I saw it, I got a mixed first impression, because I didn’t become attached to the main duo in the two provided minutes. But the concept became increasingly interesting as the trailer came to a close, and it did have one or two funny lines in it. So yeah, I was kinda onboard. Then as the movie’s release date got closer and closer, I noticed all sorts of press screenings and overwhelmingly positive reactions that the idea of wanting to see this movie only became more front and center. In fact, going into “Booksmart,” it felt like I was going to see “Blockers” mixed with a buddy cop film. Granted, everyone seems to be comparing this movie to Judd Apatow’s “Superbad,” but I haven’t seen “Superbad.” I want to see it, but I just haven’t got around to it. Maybe when I pick up the Blu-ray I’ll give it a go. This doesn’t mean I wasn’t still slightly concerned, because the marketing also gave me an impression that this would be like a propaganda piece because you had all of these female leaders in one clip of the movie. I don’t really have a problem with that, but it also gave me the impression that this movie was just gonna go ahead and say “F*CK MEN!” the entire time. Luckily, that’s not the case. In fact, there’s a joke towards the end of the film about the typical “straight white male” that I thought was utterly hilarious. You’ll know it when you see it. And for those of you who are new around here, this is coming from a straight white male.

I mentioned the hype for this movie, and while I know that the comedy genre tends to put out more disposable movies compared to genres like period pieces and screw it, I’ll be biased, science fiction. There is one thing that got me intrigued, and that is the high Rotten Tomatoes score. From a critical perspective, I recall seeing it at 100% at one point. Right now, it’s at 98%. Then I saw a couple of people in the industry such as Ryan Reynolds reacting to the movie on social media with immensely positive thoughts.

As for my overall impression of the movie itself, it was pretty well done. In fact, from a filmmaking perspective, this is better than I ever could have anticipated. I seriously mean that because there’s this one clip with a long take that as far as straight-up comedies go, can probably qualify as a cinematic achievement. But speaking of comedy, not all the jokes land. There’s a lot that do, but it’s not perfect.

In fact, at the beginning, there’s one joke that not only manages to get a head-raising laugh from me, but I thought it was also an effective way to establish one particular character’s personality. If only more jokes were that funny in the movie. In fact, when it comes to personalities, the main duo has great chemistry together.

Yeah, I could totally buy Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein’s friendship, I can buy that the two are academics that put work before partying. Even when there are instances when they shy away from that connected academic/professional personality, their chemistry still manages to work for the way this movie tends to flow. These two are brainiacs who wouldn’t mind having fun, and manage to have each other’s back. In fact, when it comes to how their relationship plays out, it kind of hit me to the core. There are some ways that I’d say that this movie reminded me of a movie that I did not even think I would compare this to, specifically “Lady Bird.” I won’t give much away for either of these movies, and if you ask me from a critical perspective, I’d say this movie is nowhere near as excellent as “Lady Bird,” but it did remind me of that film.

Why was this movie off and on in terms of humor? Well, there are various moments and utterances of dialogue that had me cracking up, but one example of when the movie would slide down a hill is from a recurring gag. There’s this one character played by Carrie Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd (American Horror Story, Scream Queens) who was kind of funny when the movie first started out, but she had this one thing that kept happening in the movie that was part of what made her funny, but the more it happens, the more it feels like I’m being beaten over the head. The ongoing gag did not insult my intelligence, which if anything, since this film is called “BOOKSMART,” I think it would be the most ironic thing in the entire history of the universe if that actually happened, but it was just a slight hindrance to my experience. Lourd played her character with excellence, but the script didn’t always make her presence worthwhile.

But in all honesty, when I first saw the currently incessant TV spots, I was given the impression that while this was definitely going to have elements of a coming of age story, I thought it was going to be a lot goofier than it actually turned out. This felt a lot like “Tag,” where there’s tons of humor intact, but it’s all surrounded by one emotional punch. Maybe it partially has to do with timing because I graduated from high school from last year, and in a way, despite not having that many friends I hang out with, I can kind of relate to the relationship of the two main characters. I’m not saying I’m entirely like them, because I definitely worked hard in high school, but I feel like there are certain points that I felt the need to rebel. Because let’s face it, high school sometimes felt robotic. It felt like what was being taught to me at times was being taught through an assembly line-like process. And when I left high school, I honestly couldn’t be happier. Yes, I’ll miss my friends that I made along the way who I may only talk to through social media in the future. But I won’t miss the times when I went through various obstacles of feeling like I didn’t fit in. I won’t miss the subjects I regretted learning about. I also won’t miss what was quite honestly, a beyond underwhelming senior year. Sure, it had its moments, but as I was becoming an adult, there were times when I felt like I was occasionally getting my own kiddie table. Unlike the main characters of Amy and Molly, I didn’t go to any single party that my classmates flocked to (and yet I somehow won Best Dancer). I don’t regret my choices, but the fact that I’m being treated like an adult in college only makes me appreciate that concept much more.

And speaking of college, I can honestly say that this movie may become increasingly relevant giving what’s happening in the news. Because there’s a segment of the movie where one of the main characters is talking to people who may present themselves as idiots, but somehow managed to get into places like Harvard, Yale, and Stanford. This movie premiered at South by Southwest this year, which happened in March, but if this movie had more time to shoot and release perhaps during the holiday season, they could have probably added something to the script about the college admissions scandal that’s been going on. Maybe we’ll save it for a sequel. I would not mind seeing one.

In the end, “Booksmart,” might not be getting an A from me, but it should not frown upon its final, respectable results. I will say that when it comes to the ending of the film, that is one of my core problems that is probably going to stick with me for some time. If it was slightly rewritten, I would have appreciated it more. Because this movie towards the end was going in one direction and I admired it for going in such a direction. However, the last bits of dialogue change that. If you ask me, the exchange was kind of corny and almost left a bad taste in my mouth. It was somewhat out of left field and unexpected. If the movie ended JUST before that, I think the ending would have been solid, and one of the better ones I’ve seen this year. But no! Let’s throw a curveball in there! Wow. Back to back sentences with baseball terms, isn’t that a hoot? Although to be serious, “Booksmart” is funny, charming, and definitely gets me interested for whatever else Olivia Wilde has up her sleeves in terms of her directing career. I’m going to give “Booksmart” a 7/10. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone if you noticed anything different about my blog, you might notice my domain. While I’m still calling this blog Scene Before, if you ever want to tell your friends about it, tell them to go to http://www.flicknerd.com. Why flicknerd.com? Because nerds rule and flicks are sick, that’s why! As for new content, I am steadily approaching post #300. For that post, I will be providing an update on my Blu-ray collection! Be sure to follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Booksmart?” What did you think about it? Or, since “Aladdin” just came out and I’m willing to bet most of my viewers saw that this weekend as opposed to “Booksmart,” is Will Smith a good genie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Fighting with My Family (2019): 2019’s First Truly Lovable Movie Experience

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“Fighting with My Family” is directed by Stephen Merchant (Hello Ladies, Logan) and stars Florence Pugh (Lady MacBeth, The Commuter), Leda Headey (Game of Thrones, 300), Nick Frost (Paul, Into the Badlands), Jack Lowden (Mary Queen of Scots, Dunkirk), Vince Vaughn (Wedding Crashers, The Internship), and Dwayne Johnson (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Rampage). This film is based on the true story of a family who live and breathe wrestling like it is an alternative to oxygen. Two kids who are very passionate about the sport get a chance to try out for the WWE, and this is based on truth so I wouldn’t call this a spoiler, but it is also essentially the origin story of Paige, who becomes the famous wrestler fans have come to know in recent years.

Right off the bat, I will just tell you all something. Wrestling is not my jam. If you know me in real life, this wouldn’t surprise you, sports in general are not usually my goto activity. I say that regardless of whether I am watching a sport or playing a sport. In fact, the reason why I went to see this movie has nothing to do with wrestling. Aside from getting passes to a free screening, I was excited for this movie because it was being helmed by the likable and talented Stephen Merchant. He has this flow when it comes to comedy that ultimately just works. I have seen a lot of his interviews on talk shows or other scenarios over the years and the guy is just freaking funny! Maybe his British accent has something to do with it, but still. Plus, he was the voice of Wheatley in “Portal 2,” which might just be my favorite video game of all time. Granted he was in “Tooth Fairy,” which if you think about it, it’s sad that I still remember that movie, but the guy is talented. And let me just say, he does a hell of a job with this movie! Merchant actually wrote and directed the film, but to add onto what I just said, he actually has a role in it too. Granted, the role isn’t enormous, he plays some random dude named Hugh, but it works. In fact, that is an understatement, because Hugh might just be the best part of the movie!

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Part of me is wondering if Merchant (left) wanted to do this role simply because out of everything he’s written, he thought it was the most humorous part, but nevertheless. Hugh is comedy gold. And when it comes to a lot of comedy that I am exposed to, most of what I consider to be “good” comedy is actually through written lines. Physical comedy usually takes a backseat for me nowadays. Not everyone can be “The Three Stooges.” When it comes to Hugh, it’s all non-verbal comedy. And f*cking brilliant non-verbal comedy when all is said and done! Also, one of the standout traits that I personally gathered from Hugh is not only that he acts funny, but he also looks funny. I’ve seen images of Stephen Merchant (in fact I just provided one), and the way he transforms himself into this character just takes him from a lanky British dude to a guy whose house your kid might not bother visiting on Halloween night. And this was actually a surprise to me because I saw marketing for the film and I see Stephen Merchant in it for a brief second, but it almost looks like he’s doing OK comedy. This was better than I anticipated!

One of the best parts of “Fighting with My Family” is that you don’t have to like wrestling to watch it. Because ultimately it is not about wrestling, it’s about family, it’s about striving to accomplish your goals, and the complication of social interaction. There was a part of the film where I compared it to a reality competition, especially when you consider there’s a scene where chicks hate each other over word choice. In fact, this comes partially as a surprise considering how the opening titles state that this is from WWE Studios. When was the last time I saw that for a motion picture release like this? Admittedly, there are times when this kind of feels as if it commercializes WWE, especially considering the cameos from professional wrestlers that are present in this film including John Cena, the Big Show, and Sheamus. Plus there is one scene where the brother is saying that he is imagining 20,000 people cheering him on as he stands in an empty stadium that has graphics moving around. It’s almost like “The LEGO Movie,” which may technically be commercial but it tries to sneak things in along the way.

Now as far as Paige goes, I do like her portrayal in this film. I like how they made Paige out to be a shy, timid, and goth looking girl in front of these stereotypical chicks who show off their bodies the whole time. It sort of reminds me of that Planet Fitness commercial where the girls keep talking about how “hot” everything is and there’s also another girl who finds the whole situation awkward. Another thing I like about her character, without diving too deep into spoilers, is the message that people can sometimes pressure you into being somebody just for shiggles or for the sake of fitting in. Maybe you ultimately don’t want to be that person, but the way things go in life, you are automatically triggered into thinking you need to change your ways. I thought that was very well done.

Also, I will say, I saw this going in, but I went to see this film with my mother, and she was somewhat looking forward to seeing Dwayne Johnson appear on screen. Without spoiling anything, he’s only in a couple of scenes. He’s not the star of this film. But for the scenes he’s in, it makes me wonder how he is in real life. I’ve always pictured The Rock to be a nice guy, and this movie makes a convincing case that maybe he is supportive of his fans. This is a guy who gets in a car accident with someone who happens to be a fan, keeps his cool, and shakes it all off like it is no big deal. By the way, that’s a true story, there is a link below the paragraph for further proof.

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Before I give the final verdict, I’ll talk for a sec about Paige’s brother, Zak. One of the complaints that my mother gave toward the film is Zak’s appearance, saying he didn’t look like a wrestler. Having seen him in the movie, I would agree. If this were fiction, there’s a high chance that I’d automatically be on her side, but this is based on true events, so I decided to close my mouth on that subject for a period of time. With that in mind, I decided to do some brief research on Zak, and I found a couple of images where his body looks similar to his actor counterpart. The body thing is something I can actually avoid calling a mistake, but what is a mistake is Zak’s characterization. While his motivations seemed to be clear, I kind of pictured a guy who would get mad for no reason. Granted, the reasoning for his anger seemed understandable, but there are not many characters I would prefer to remember just for mainly being angry.

In the end, “Fighting with My Family” was actually pretty fun. It’s intense, humorous, and kind of heartwarming. Again, I am not a fan of wrestling, and I don’t follow organizations like the WWE, but I enjoyed this movie. “Fighting with My Family” shows what happens when you pit people against each other in a heated, dramatic competition, and also what happens when you aspire to be the very best you can be. I’m going to give “Fighting with My Family” a 7/10. Thanks for reading this review! I’ve got some more content coming soon, including another review which will be in the works soon, specifically for the new DreamWorks animation, “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.” Also, I just watched the Academy Awards this previous Sunday, so stay tuned for future content related to that. Some of you might wonder why I didn’t do a prediction post this year like I’ve done in the past couple of years, and the reason is simple. Life is short, and college cares more about me killing my brain cells with endless work as opposed to balancing my life with brief periods of relaxation. I would have loved to have done a prediction post, in fact, I would have loved to have posted this review earlier, but the fact is, my brain was fried. There were points where I almost couldn’t help but crawl into the fetal position. So that’s the story of my life for the last few days, how about you tell me yours? 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 “Fighting with My Family?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite movie where a celebrity plays him or herself? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!