Dolittle (2020): Why, Downey? Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shut up, movie. Shut up.

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

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

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

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

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

1917 (2019): Cinematographically Golden

“1917” is directed by Sam Mendes (Spectre, American Beauty) and stars George MacKay (The Boys Are Back, Captain Fantastic), Dean-Charles Chapman (Into the Badlands, Game of Thrones), Mark Strong (Shazam!, Kingsman: The Secret Service), Andrew Scott (Fleabag, Sherlock), Richard Madden (Game of Thrones, Bodyguard), Claire Duburcq, Colin Firth (Love, Actually, Mamma Mia!), and Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange, Star Trek: Into Darkness). This film takes place throughout, as the title suggests, 1917. Specifically, during events of World War I. The story follows two British soldiers, Schofield and Blake, as they are given a mission to deliver a message to the 2nd Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment to call off an attack on the Germans. If this mission fails, this would mean there would be a loss of 1600 men, including Blake’s brother.

First off, let me just say to all of you that this is my first review of 2020, and what a better way to start off the year than to talk about movie that is literally a year. This film came out Christmas Day in select theaters, but much to my dismay, not one theater in the Boston area was going to show the film until 2020, so I had no chance to see it until then. This year is also the earliest time in which I was able to catch an advanced screening of the film. So I trekked to the theater this past Tuesday with high expectations.

When I say high expectations, I mean that literally. Knowing some of the technical aspects of the film, which I will dive into later on, it makes me giddy just thinking about it. Plus, this week was also the airing of the 77th Golden Globes, where this movie was nominated for 3 awards, and ended up taking home 2, including Best Picture – Drama. Granted, the more I think about the Golden Globes as a whole, the less meaningful I find them to be (after all, their voting board is not that big and they have genre-specific categories), but to have some notable recognition definitely helps. But in life, I live by the philosophy to form my own opinions on any matter at all times. Because life is just better when I’m in control. So what are my thoughts on “1917?”

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Let’s see… Oh! It’s better than “Cats!” But that doesn’t say much, now does it?

Let me try this again by asking you a question, because it sort of relates to my experience. How often has this happened to you? You go see a movie, and maybe you feel that what you just saw was wicked intense, and said intensity hits you to the point where your body just shuts down at a point. For me, that’s what “1917” felt like. I walked out of this movie nearly unable to feel my own legs. To help explain some of my thoughts on this film, I am going to remind you of another recent war film, specifically Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk.”

While “Dunkirk” and “1917” have their differences, one thing I cannot deny is that they both stand out in terms of how effectively they convinced me that I could have been in danger. I will say, “Dunkirk” had a slight undeniable advantage during my first viewing because I did see it in IMAX and I saw “1917” on a standard cinema screen, but regardless, “Dunkirk” emphasizes on sound more than “1917” does, which believe it or not, isn’t exactly a sign of this film lacking proper sound whatsoever. In fact, the sound editing and mixing in “1917” is great. I have no problems with any of that. But while “Dunkirk” emphasizes sound, “1917” emphasizes sight. Again, I’ll state that “Dunkirk” did a good job on that side of things as well. In fact, the movie received a Best Cinematography nomination, which it deserves. The way it utilizes 70mm and IMAX technology is undoubtedly impressive.

When it comes to “1917,” the technology used for this film, specifically the camera, is smaller. In fact, it runs on digital. The entire movie is shot using an Arri ALEXA Mini LF, which, if you don’t know much about cameras, the Arri ALEXA in general is often regarded as a current industry standard in filmmaking. This does make sense given what the crew behind this movie set out to do, which is film the movie with long takes, involving lots of movement. It’s not like this is one of those movies where the camera always sits still on a tripod, pretty much the entire movie tries to put you into the frame and take you along for the ride, and I’d say this was a pretty successful task. Because pretty much the entire time, even though I barely knew the two main characters, I was rooting for them to get out of whatever dire situation they were in. The long takes made me feel like I was transported in the movie, it made me feel like I was going to get shot, maybe debris would be flying onto my head.

The stellar cinematography in this film, which in fact, is without any argument whatsoever to be the best cinematography of 2019, is done by Roger Deakins, who also took on the job for iconic films including “The Shawshank Redemption” and “No Country For Old Men.” He also did one of my favorite films of the past few years, “Blade Runner 2049,” which he won his first Oscar for. There are several shots in this film that I can imagine myself wanting to hang in my living room if I had enough money for a big house and if I can find a good 5 panel canvas. And what really shocks me is a particular technique that is utilized during the film. I mentioned that the film is designed to look like it is one shot. Let me just tell you right now, it’s not. Without spoiling anything. There is a scene where the footage cuts to black, allowing for a slight break from whatever’s happening on screen. However, according to certain sources I have read, the film does cut but I didn’t even notice it on screen. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the longest shot in the movie is eight and a half minutes. This instantly brings a sense of hypnotization and eventually, a desire to look back at the film and try to guess when exactly the cuts happened. Plus, this film was shot on location, which brings a lot of challenges for the filmmaking process including an analysis on set design and the fact that lighting shots is perhaps an impossibility. And somehow, all of this was pulled off. This to me, cinematography-wise, may be in the top 10, maybe even top 5, all-time greatest achievements related to its category. I wouldn’t say it’s #1 at this point given how I still need time to marinate, but it does come close as of now, and if Roger Deakins DOES NOT win Best Cinematography this year at the Oscars, that award in all likelihood will be nothing short of a snub.

Another reason to consider how this movie is not #1 in terms of being the greatest cinematography achievement of all time is that this has been done before. Yes, this is sort of an upping of the stakes compared to Sam Mendes’ own long take shot experience from “Spectre,” a movie in which the cinematographer was Hoyte Van Hoytema, but that’s not the point. If you have followed 2014 in film, you may be familiar that the Academy’s Best Picture that year was “Birdman,” directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel, The Revenant). Having said that, I think the originality factor of that film helped me appreciate it. “1917” on the other hand is ultimately following in its footsteps. Story and concept-wise it stands on its own, but the intention when it comes to the visual aspects of the film is not completely different. Also, according to a quick Google search, the longest shot in “Birdman” goes on for fifteen minutes, compared to “1917,” which has a longest ongoing shot for eight and a half minutes.

In all seriousness though, this film, as a visual ride, is a tour de force, and I think this could be Roger Deakins’ best work just because of the daunting task at hand. And for that, I also have to give credit to Sam Mendes for helming this production. This is an experimental, ambitious film that I think will be looked back upon for years to come. In addition to all of the surroundings that make this film what it is, Thomas Newman’s score also does an effective job at adding something to the crazy experience on screen.

As for the characters, I wouldn’t say I didn’t care about them, but I am not gonna sit right here and tell you that they’re anything special. I did mention their names, but keep in mind that I glanced at them on Wikipedia as I write this review. In fact, I think the only name I recalled from the film is Colonel MacKenzie, maybe because I was paying enough attention. But at the same time, this movie is more about the journey, the effects throughout said journey, and this was one HELL of a journey. When I bring that up, part of me thinks that I almost don’t even need to know anybody’s name. In fact, I felt like *I* was a character experiencing this event alongside everyone else, therefore I am ultimately the one who should develop the most.

If I were a character in this movie, I’d say I’d start out curious, maybe a tad scared, but at the same time, I have to realize the consequences that can come from various actions. As the movie goes on, I would still be scared, perhaps even more so, but I would still tough out through whatever lies ahead. Eventually, I’d still be my terrified self, but I’ll have a feeling that I finally get to breathe. Seriously, whenever there is a moment of silence or calmness, it felt rewarding. I felt like I went through war with these characters simply because the camera’s eyes were almost like my eyes. Granted, it focuses a lot on these folks’ faces and I would probably never spend 2 hours almost continuously running backwards, but I think y’all get the point.

The film’s concept is simple, but it is also effective. Before I dive into the paragraph where I give my official rating, let me just say that this film, story-wise, is one I need to continue to think about. However, when it comes to various other aspects, it is one that I am pretty much set on. My rating could change, but anything is possible.

In the end, “1917” gave me pretty much everything I wanted. It is a beautifully shot, brilliantly directed, and solidly executed master work. It is just incredible to think about all the hard work and craftsmanship that went into this. There are a good number of war films out right now, but I’d say that this is 1,917 times as awesome as some others. I know some people who have seen a number of movies that will tell you that maybe whatever movie they saw at the theater is not worth the experience, maybe because there weren’t enough showman-esque elements in the movie or something. Let me tell you, and I’m not talking to everyone, because I understand that war films may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s fine, but if you don’t go see this film in a theater, it’s a crime. A bad crime. Go see this movie on the biggest screen you can, with the best sound available. It’s out right now in Dolby Cinema, so if you’re willing to pay a higher ticket price, go there. Just see it! It’s an experience! As for the story, I mentioned that I have no problems with it, but it is one where I feel like I won’t remember anybody’s name. Maybe this is a movie to me that gets better the more I watch it. But we’ll just have to see. Also, the cinematography is PERFECTION. I’m going to give “1917” a 9/10. I wanted to give the film a 1917/10, but then I’d break the scale, so 9 it is.

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that this SATURDAY, JANUARY 11TH, will be the kickoff of my multi-part countdown event, “Top Movies of the 2010s!” I’m gathering all the entries, lining them up as we speak, and even though I am admittedly cramming at this point, I am hella excited to share my lists with y’all! If you want to see this and more content from Scene Before, give me a follow! If you have a proper account in place, feel free to leave a like and comment! Also, if you have a Facebook account, feel free to like my page to get notified about the latest goings on here at Scene Before through the place where you have friends, even those you probably haven’t talked to in five or so years. I want to know, did you see “1917?” What did you think about it? Or, what do you think is the better achievement in cinematography, this movie or “Birdman?” Let me know, you have one shot to impress me with your opinions! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Cats (2019): Kitty Litter

EVERYBODY:
Go see “Richard Jewell!” Clint Eastwood has done it again!
Check out “1917!” It’s heart-stopping!
Watch “The Irishman” on Netflix! It’s worth the three and a half hour runtime! It’s REAL cinema!
Hey! “Queen & Slim” is getting positive reviews!
GO SEE “STAR WARS!”
“Bombshell’s” the movie we need right now!
“Frozen II” is a great Disney sequel!
“The Two Popes!” Check it out!
Hey Jack, have you seen Amazon’s “The Aeronauts?”
“MARRRRRRIAGE STOOOOOORRRRRY!”

ME:
Hey guys, I’m going to review “Cats!”

*Beat*

…Awkward. No matter what happens, this will unite us all. It’s time to review the NON-“Star Wars” movie coming out this weekend, because this is what I was able to see early on this week. Let’s get this s*itshow overwith.

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“Cats” is directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, The Danish Girl) and stars James Corden (The Late Late Show with James Corden, The Emoji Movie), Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love, Philomena), Jason Derulo (Everybody Dance Now, Drop the Mic), Idris Elba (Pacific Rim, Thor), Jennifer Hudson (The Voice, Dreamgirls), Ian McKellan (Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Good Liar), Taylor Swift (The Lorax, The Giver), Rebel Wilson (Jojo Rabbit, Pitch Perfect), and Francesca Hayward. The plot of “Cats,” if there is one in this damn thing, is that a bunch of cats that look and walk like humans compete against each other to be the one to earn another life… That’s the best way I can describe this movie without cringing. Because holy s*it. THIS IS PUTRID.

Going into “Cats” on Tuesday night, I had two screenings to choose from. “Cats” being one of them, obviously. The other one happened to be “Bombshell,” which I said to you all that I would review. Well, expect a delay on that, when I finally got my RSVP for “Cats,” I could not pass it up, and by that I mean I wanted to wait to see “Bombshell” with somebody else, because as far as I know, there is probably not one person that would want to see “Cats” with me. Did I have any plans to watch “Cats” originally? Absolutely not. In fact, if you follow the Scene Before Facebook page, and if you aren’t following it, CLICK THIS LINK and give it a like! Anyway, if you have kept track of recent happenings there, you may have noticed this recent post…

Well guess what? I ended up dragging myself on the underfunded transportation system in the Boston, Massachusetts area, put my ass in a cinema seat, and here we are. But let me just say, I did not go into “Cats” blind. I went in having seen bunches of the marketing, including the main trailers, which honestly just creeps me out the more I think about it! I had little to no real anticipation of this movie, even though I was expecting some decent numbers and neat visuals at times. Did I get those in the end? Kind of. The visuals were nifty, but the numbers are honestly forgettable. I have never seen any other related “Cats” material, not the play, nor any other adaptation. So this movie ultimately took my “Cats” virginity. As someone who has had their first “Cats” experience of any kind, I cannot imagine myself returning to this franchise in the near future. This movie BROKE me to no end. It’s honestly up there with some of the most anger-inducing content I have seen all year. In fact, I am honestly kind of glad I went to see the movie as early as I did. I love the moviegoing experience, and going to see a movie early, depending on the film is honestly kind of thrilling. I was in a theater containing some people who were enthusiastic. One person had cat ears on, some were Taylor Swift fans, and I think the best part about this movie is that the occasional reactions from people that were given with a hint of sarcasm. There was this one moment around the first act where this guy just belted out a snarky laugh and a bunch of us played along because I think a surprising number of attendees thought this movie was going to suck balls and we had almost no expectations for it. Maybe we collectively thought this movie was cheesy or a waste of time. Who knows? The point is, if I went to see this movie in perhaps January during a dead afternoon, it probably wouldn’t be as fun or lively. The only thing I probably would have felt at that time is pure anger. Being in the environment of a free screening before a movie opens definitely helps.

BUT IT DOES NOT TAKE AWAY FROM THE CRAP I SUFFERED THROUGH!

I have been noticing something about our current moviegoing audience. We seem to enjoy two things nowadays. Granted, that’s an understatement, we seem to enjoy lots of things in reality, but the two of the commonalities I’m seeing from the general moviegoing audience is spectacle and nostalgia. There’s definitely an argument to make about “Cats” being one of the more nostalgic movies of the year. It’s based on a hit musical from the late 20th century, which was inspired by poetry from T.S. Eliot. I think a lot of older audiences will gravitate towards this film, plus younger theater admirers. And I will point out one thing that I think could have ended up being a positive about this film, specifically the prettiness that’s intact. From the marketing, there have been a lot of shots that looked nice, the neon signage everywhere kind of adds a nice touch, the film is visually appealing on the surface. And throughout, at times, I dug it for its visuals. That’s probably the biggest compliment I can give.

Earlier this year, I reviewed “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” which is one of the worst blockbusters I have witnessed in recent memory, especially when considering how FANTASTIC the trailers were leading up to its release. To this day, the only compliments I can give the film are some of the shot choices and the appealing visual effects. That’s it. “Cats” is kind of like that. Granted, I did not like the “Cats” trailers, but you probably get my point. However, the good news is, and it honestly PAINS me in the ass to say this… I’d rather watch “Cats” again. As a movie, it is technically competent. Not to mention, competently… BOOOOORRRRRRRING!

This movie technically has a plot, but when it’s presented on screen, it’s an utter mess! It’s a nice looking mess, but a mess nevertheless! I guess we’ll call it a hot mess! The movie undoubtedly is trying to rely on the spectacle provided from each number. I didn’t expect this movie to lack singing, but the singing in this movie is ENDLESS. OH MY FREAKING LORD! A good portion of the numbers are… borderline OK? I guess? But I don’t feel like I will end up remembering them. The only numbers that truly stood out to me was the one where Taylor Swift’s character was introduced, most likely because there were a few people in the crowd who were ecstatic over seeing her on screen and one heavily revolving around Laurie Davidson’s character of Mr. Mistoffelees, which I won’t go into. Again, I went into the movie not knowing much about “Cats,” so I’m gonna be somewhat vague with the material.

I am not even in the mood to go into the characters, because for one thing, there are a lot of them. It’s overwhelming. I am willing to bet that if there were fewer characters, this movie could be a tad more interesting. I will say though, even though “Cats” itself is somewhat visually attrractive, it is simultaneously off-putting. I don’t know about you guys, but I didn’t ask for a movie where Ian McKellan plays a live-action, human-like cat that is licking a plate. It’s something so unimportant, yet so horrifying. Much like the numbers, there is perhaps not even a single character that ended up standing out. Many of the characters feel like they have little to no layers, and the only thing that could end up being memorable is all of the “digital fur technology” that went into this pile of crap they call a movie.

I do not seek out musicals that often. I don’t usually watch all that many films that are heavy on musical numbers, but if I had to compare “Cats” to any other film, I’d say one of the closest examples I can give is Michael Bay’s “Transformers.” For the record, they are COMPLETELY different on almost every single level in terms of plot, genre, and character motivations. But one of the biggest compliments I can give to “Transformers” is the visuals. The effects are nothing short of amazing. I think even people who don’t like the newer “Transformers” movies can probably agree that the visual effects are nice to look at. Now, I personally enjoyed the first “Transformers.” It’s a fine action movie if you ask me, but I know the franchise is not always the most pleasing to everyone. The story is basic, repetitive from one film to the next, and some would say it almost doesn’t even matter when there are tons of explosions and American flags everywhere.

This movie doesn’t really shy away from comedy. I mean, what do you expect when there’s a seemingly sarcastic laugh during my screening? Only thing is, the comedy just doesn’t work. In fact, the jokes I remember are random cat puns. They might have been the only jokes in the movie, and they sully the experience entirely.

Why did I go see “Cats?” Well, I wanted to wait to see “Bombshell” for one thing, but I thought this would be a fun film to review. It’s one of those one of a kind, crazy experiences that I will end up remembering, but not for the right reasons. Personally, I don’t ever see myself watching “Cats” again, and I had no plans to get a cat in the near future, but this movie has officially eliminated any possibility of me wanting a cat, because if I am ever presented with an opportunity to get a cat, part of me would not stop thinking of this piece of trash. And in other news, Taylor Swift is in this movie, that picture above is of her. And SPOILER, the movie DOES NOT go into how many cats she broke up with.

In fact, let me specify about my experience of watching this film. This was a film that felt embarrassing to say the least. It’s well-crafted, but embarrassing nonetheless. Whenever I go see a film, I usually order myself a popcorn and soda to keep myself up. I didn’t do that this time. I don’t know, I guess I wasn’t in the mood for it. Maybe it’s because I was busy talking to a friend I ran into, but that’s not the point. The overall experience of seeing “Cats” feels like a dream. Because I became increasingly sleepy, increasingly bored, and the movie itself became more irrelevant than the door close button on modern elevators! There is a part of me that wanted to laugh, but it felt really hard, because at the same time, what I really wanted to do was leave. This movie overstays its welcome, even giving itself an opportunity to hammer in one final number that is so bad that it’s good. And when those stinking credits FINALLY came on screen, I let out a bellowing “THANK GAAAWWSH!” Because again, the movie broke me to shreds. You know how I said I didn’t get any popcorn or soda for this movie? Upon the leaving the film I had one thought in mind. I need popcorn, because I felt like I dredged through this movie in the same way that Bart Simpson would dredge through homework. I felt like part of my well-being has been erased. This was a well-earned treat for myself. By the way, the popcorn was f*cking satisfying. It made my cat nips go hard.

In the end, “Cats” is perhaps the most competent borefest of the year, and that really says something because… “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” was a thing. And that’s the absolute worst thing about “Cats.” It looks charming, it looks presentable, it looks nifty. Some of the camerawork is nice. But between some of the questionable editing, lame-ass script, and nearly nonexistent plot, this movie made me angrier than that kid from “Looper” whenever something goes wrong for him. I would rather poke my own eyes out with my own two hands than go see this movie again. The ensemble has a lot of big names including Idris Elba, Ian McKellan, and James Corden, but not even that could save the movie. In a way, the more I think about it, it almost makes the movie worse. Remember that movie, “The Circle” that came out a couple years ago? It’s like that. It had a list of respectable actors including Emma Watson, John Boyega, Bill Paxton, TOM FREAKING HANKS! To know that these people took on this film specifically, makes my brain leak a little bit. Again, visually appealing, but it’s not enough. I’m going to give “Cats” a 2/10. Part of me wants to give this movie a 3/10, I really do. But now that I’ve had a little bit of time to marinate, this is up there with some of the most frustrating, not to mention forgettable, movies I have EVER seen during my time on this blog. Did the crowd reactions add something? Kind of. But not entirely. To me this was just a waste of time. The only ways that this movie could end up as a 1 is if it didn’t look pretty, if the acting was the worst I’ve ever seen, or it weren’t for a couple of halfway decent moments. Nevertheless, this was an insufferable experience, and I know “Star Wars” is not getting the best reviews right now, but this is actually making me excited for “Star Wars.” I think the only way I could have ended up enjoying “Cats” is if I was perhaps very young and this was one of the first movies I have watched. Maybe one of the first in the theater. Because as long as there are cats doing things on screen, why should I care about anything else? How am I still alive? I don’t know! It’s amazing! Even so, I’m done talking about this garbage, let’s move on!

Thanks for reading this review! Stay tuned guys, because I am going to have my review up for the next film that will inevitably make a billion dollars, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” I’m going to my local IMAX theater on opening Thursday, I cannot wait! How will the film turn out? I do not know for sure, but I am endlessly curious, so let’s do this! May the force be with us! Be sure to follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account if you want greater access to the blog, and be sure to stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “Cats?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite movie that is cat-related? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Last Christmas (2019): I Gave You My Wasted Time

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“Last Christmas” is directed by Paul Feig (Ghostbusters, Spy) and stars Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones, Solo: A Star Wars Story), Henry Golding (A Simple Favor, Crazy Rich Asians), Michelle Yeoh (Mechanic: Resurrection, Star Trek: Discovery), and Emma Thompson (Saviing Mr. Banks, Sense and Sensibility). This film is about a girl named Kate who is not the most responsible person alive. Despite that, we see her working at a Christmas store under a rather quirky boss. Meanwhile, she encounters a fella named Tom, who she gets to know throughout the movie. As Kate keeps running into Tom, they develop a close relationship that defines a majority of the film.

Just… Out of every movie… I saw this one. THIS IS THE CRAP I PUT WITH FOR YOU GUYS! I saw “Last Christmas” a week and a half before it came out. I would have put this review out earlier, but due to going on a brief getaway to Rhode Island Comic Con, a couple of other reviews being more important, life, and maybe a slight lack of motivation, I delayed this review until after the movie came out. Having said that, I can simply say that this is one of the most forgettable movies I have seen all year. And the little that I do remember, is honestly not favorable.

Let me just remind you all that this movie is directed by Paul Feig. I have not seen all of his work, but what I have seen (aside from “Freaks and Geeks”) is not that great. In fact, he directed the 2016 “Ghostbusters” reboot, which quite honestly destroyed my brain. The impact I have then faced from that movie is one that I will probably never want to achieve ever again. For the record, I don’t hate women, I just want good movies. And having said that, I would have rather seen these women under a completely different brand name. Originality would have probably helped these ladies just a little bit. Compared to most bad movies that I have seen, this is probably one I can think of where I felt at least slightly offended watching it.

With that in mind, “Last Christmas” is a slightly better movie. It’s not good, but for starters, I wasn’t offended. It was a tad more charming overall. But much like 2016’s “Ghostbusters,” “Last Christmas” just ain’t that funny. A lot of the attempts at humor just didn’t land. Granted, I still remember my theatrical experience from seeing “Ghostbusters” and slightly chuckling at ONE joke. Now for the good news and bad news regarding “Last Christmas.” The good news is, I laughed more during “Last Christmas” than I did during “Ghostbusters.” The bad news, in two parts, is that the humor was barely even in place, and I don’t quite remember what exactly was funny. In fact, remember how I said I wasn’t offended by “Last Christmas?” That is completely true. BUT, I was in fact, annoyed.

I saw this coming, as if the title of the film didn’t already give enough away. But the song “Last Christmas” plays in this movie. For those of you who know me in real life, I do celebrate Christmas. I think it is a fun time of the year, even if it is ultimately an excuse to shove materialism up our butts. But the one thing I am a total Scrooge about when it comes to Christmas, is the overplay of various songs that associate with the particular time of the year. I hear enough of the same regular crap on the radio everyday! The solution IS NOT to play Christmas crap instead! This may sound like nothing, but hearing “Last Christmas” play twice in a few minutes is just as annoying as it is to find out that your friend runs an annual awards ceremony dedicated to showcasing the best pieces of gum that are stuck on surfaces.

Anyways, let’s focus on the not at all offensive, but also unfunny characters. I will say that despite how this movie is ultimately rather unmemorable and completely lacking in a full sense of joy, I can say that Emilia Clarke managed to make the character of Kate rather charming. Clarke has a likable presence in this film. She takes a character that could have lacked dimension, someone who could have been the most lifeless individual in film history, and it makes her stand out. I guess it helps that Clarke kind of has that “cute as button” quality attached to her when it comes to appearance. For the little that I can pinpoint to and remember regarding this movie, I recall Clarke being all cutesy, which worked for the final product.

As for Clarke’s love interest, he’s kind of resemblant of someone who is dorky, but also rather charismatic in life. There was a point in the film where I was able to buy the chemistry between him and Clarke. At the same time though, the chemistry did not help the movie from being as sigh-worthy as it is. I think I just invented a new worthy term! Cringeworthy can suck it! Overall, their romance feels cliche, but it when it works, it stands out. Despite the little charm that exists when they are together on one occasion or two, it doesn’t entirely make for a masterpiece. Let’s put the characters in a box like this: If I met one of these two in real life, I wouldn’t instantly want to have lunch with them.

Speaking of less than pleasant characters, this movie also has an obnoxious boss. I have to go back and probably watch about thirty or so other movies this year to come up with a conclusion like this and confirm it, but I’ll say… The chemistry between actresses Clarke and Yeoh in this film is probably the least realistic chemistry I have witnessed all year! WHAT?! DID?! I?! WATCH?! When it comes to the scenes between the duo, I originally got a sense that while Clarke was kind of a slacker, I thought Yeoh was just being a bitch to her at times. As the movie goes on… I dunno, I feel as if these first moments between them never happened.

There’s also this subplot involving the boss that involves her and a separate love interest played by Peter Mygind. This has the potential to be funny and charming, but it really just feels like wasted time. And that’s what this movie is… Wasted time. If you are with friends and family this year during the holidays and if this movie’s still out in theaters, just go see “Star Wars.” Granted, that’s kind of irrelevant because I don’t even know how the new “Star Wars” is going to be, but still… just go see “Star Wars.” I command you! Either that, or go to Best Buy and purchase a copy of one of the “Star Wars” films, present it as a gift, and use that as an excuse to those around you to pop it in the DVD player.

In the end, as much as I would love to congratulate Paul Feig for directing a better comedy than “Ghostbusters,” it’s not enough for me. “Last Christmas” honestly feels like a film that could arguably go straight to Lifetime or Hallmark for the holiday season, but since it has a slightly higher production value and big names attached, it got a theatrical release. Emilia Clarke has some slight charm attached to her and there are a couple of chuckleworthy moments. But there’s nothing of real value that I feel I have received from this movie. “Last Christmas” is not something I’d watch when I’m home alone, and I would prefer that it dies hard. I’m going to give “Last Christmas” a 3/10. Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I’m going to have a couple more reviews for you all including my thoughts on “Jojo Rabbit!” I was very excited to check this out last weekend and I will have my review up by sometime next week! I also have passes for tonight to go to a screening of “Honey Boy” starring Shia Labeouf (Transformers, Fury). If I get around to seeing that, I’ll have my review up as soon as possible. If you want to see this, and other great content, follow Scene Before with email or WordPress account! If you want full access to comments and likes, I personally recommend using a WordPress account. And if you are on Facebook and need a movie reviewing moron in your life, check out my Facebook page for more moronic shenanigans! I want to know, did you see “Last Christmas?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite movie directed by Paul Feig? I gotta ask because I need a good one. I have “Spy” and “The Heat” on Blu-ray but I haven’t watched either of them yet. Asking for a friend, or even an enemy in this case! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Yesterday (2019): The Beatles? Who Now?

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“Yesterday” is directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) and stars Himesh Patel (EastEnders, Damned), Lily James (Baby Driver, Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again), Ed Sheeran (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Bridget Jones’s Baby), and Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live, The Angry Birds Movie) in a movie where the music icons known as The Beatles happened to be erased from everyone’s memories. However, this movie’s main character, Jack Malik is the only one who can recall who they are.

If you know me in person, you’d know that while I may not be a big music junkie, I enjoy my rock songs. The Beatles, while not my favorite band of all time, have definitely set the standards of how music should be done. They have a ton of songs, many of which are iconic and catchy, and they even were so popular that they got their own dedicated installment in the “Rock Band” video game franchise. It’s unquestionable that they have an interesting history, which makes it all the more intriguing to have this film exist. The concept is one that is absolutely worth taking on, and to top it off, Danny Boyle is the director! The guy did “Slumdog Millionaire” for crying out loud, therefore I am forever in his debt.

As of publishing this review, I will have seen the movie “Yesterday,” well, yesterday. What are my thoughts on it since yesterday? Well, part of me argues on whether or not I should be alive to see tomorrow after watching this movie. It’s a trainwreck! My gosh! If anything, “Yesterday” makes the live-action “Ghost in the Shell” movie look like “Citizen Kane!” You want to know how bad “Yesterday” was? To this day, I have yet to fall asleep to a movie in the theater. This is not the first time I have fallen asleep, but wow! There were one or two moments where I sure as hell wanted to close my eyes. The movie was anger-inducing, boring, and it even ruined “Let It Be!” You know, arguably the most well known Beatles song ever?! Yeah! There’s a scene that I won’t talk too much about in this movie where Jack Malik performs the song and it has this thing that happens, and it’s a complete turnoff. It’s a legendary song and the crew managed to sully it!

Speaking of sullying things, the writers of this movie have sullied the art of screenwriting! This film BARELY has a plot. This film BARELY has a conflict. This film BARELY kept me interested. Perhaps the only well executed scenes I’ll end up remembering from “Yesterday” are the ones that take place during concerts because they sounded immersive and happened to be very lively. But the rest of the movie almost never reaches the same level of fun. But just having good concert or music scenes is not enough for a movie like this, because the biggest thing to me that this film had going for it was the concept. If I wanted to watch this film for the concert scenes in the future, I’d either wait for it to become free on Prime Video or something, or I’d just look up said concert scenes on YouTube and just watch them there.

And this concept REALLY could have worked with the right script. The movie starts out well with its character introductions and buildup to the main story. But once the main story starts, it begins to feel like someone is constantly smashing me in the head with a guitar. Like, holy f*ck! This movie! There was a point, in fact, multiple points, where I’d shake my head in anger, question the way certain things were written, and flat out lose my mind to the point where I am almost surprised I didn’t walk out of the theater!

I will say though, despite the large amount of flak I’m giving this movie, I will give some praise to the actors, including Himesh Patel as Jack Malik. He’s a good Paul McCartney wannabe and I bought his character throughout the picture. Despite the lackluster screenwriting at times, his character, along with others, were well performed, including Ed Sheeran’s character. Although that doesn’t say much because he plays himself.

And speaking of good things, this movie has a good story about Jack getting a manager and a few other people to schedule interviews, help get music out to the public, and basically turn him into a product. One example from this bunch is Kate McKinnon’s character who I thought was charismatic and occasionally likable. I thought that was a highlight of the film and while the chemistry was mixed or off at times between certain characters, I thought it was a pretty good concept added into the movie because it shows the power of the stereotypical corporate monster. Unfortunately though, it could have been executed better. If you ask me, if you want to see an example of a movie that does this story better, just go watch Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s “A Star is Born.” Lady Gaga plays a singer who starts performing her own music, she becomes a big star, and now she is essentially a product for the world, similar to how Bradley Cooper is presented throughout the film.

But I gotta say, I might as well give an idea as to how horrible this movie really is. Why is it so bad? Guess what? As mentioned, this movie is on the literal edge of having zero stakes whatsoever. And without going into detail, there is a scene in this movie that receives expansion as soon as it is played. It had something in that scene that could have potentially made the movie better, or even worth watching to begin with. Why did it receive no expansion? BECAUSE IT’S A F*CKING DREAM SEQUENCE! As I watched this scene I felt like Simon Cowell if he had to watch C-3PO try singing on “American Idol!”

I also really hate the ending to this movie. I did not buy it for a second. There is a big collective reaction from some unidentified people that made me want to go grab a flamethrower and burst some things into flames! Like… WHAT?! I won’t spoil anything because chances are some of you have still yet to check out this movie (PLEASE DON’T!). But it’s f*cking stupid! It blows my mind on how disappointing a film from FREAKING DANNY BOYLE can be! He directed multiple films that have been nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, and now we get this crap! I thought “The Hateful Eight” from Quentin Tarantino was a disappointment. I think I actually enjoyed that more than this piece of junk! Maybe the writers are to blame too because there are just so many times where I either lost interest in the film, questioned what happened, or imagined a better scenario for where the movie should go. For the record, the movie’s screenplay is done by Richard Curtis, who has worked on other liked films such as “Love Actually” and “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” Those are films that are not really in my comfort zone, but a lot of people like them! Then again, he also did “Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again” so that might be an exception for him.

In the end, if “Yesterday” is playing at a theater near you, DO NOT take your yellow submarine there, or any vehicle for that matter. Don’t even walk there! I am not against exercise (maybe followed by a popcorn and soda), but if you are engaging in this sort of exercise at this time, just do it for a better movie like “Spider-Man: Far From Home” or “Toy Story 4!” There were one or two moments where I thought this movie could be interesting through my predictions of where it would go. And when the movie subverted my expectations in those moments, I lost the will to live. I don’t mind subversions of my expectations as long as they’re good. While “Yesterday” didn’t completely ruin The Beatles for me, even though they destroyed “Let It Be” in one scene, it did nothing but make me feel like I was about to be beheaded. This is not the worst movie of the year, it’s just painful to sit through. I’d say don’t see it, but if you are bored and want something to do, just watch the concert scenes on YouTube when you can. Those can be fun. To make this even worse, it almost seemed that recently it would be difficult to screw up a music-related movie. With projects like “A Star is Born,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “Rocketman,” music films have been on fire (while not 100% perfect) during these past months! I’m going to give “Yesterday” a 3/10. Thanks for reading this review! This Thursday I am going to be seeing Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” stay tuned for my review of that film. If everything goes right, I should have it up by the end of Sunday! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, be sure to take a look at my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Yesterday?” What did you think about it? Is it good? Am I insane? Or, what is your favorite Beatles song? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Scene Before 2019 HALFTIME REPORT (And Glance Into the Future)

WARNING: The following post is over 8,000 words long. Disappointingly, it’s not over 9,000.

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! 2019 is midway through and this year is going by fast! As far as my personal life goes, I’m in between my first and second year of college, I am enjoying my time off, and I’m the same movie reviewing moron as usual. Things have changed, but at the same time, I’m still the same flick nerd I have always been. And I mean that literally, but we’ll get to that later. However, I wanted to try something I haven’t done before on this blog. At the end of the year, I tend to do some reflective work, most notably countdowns. And while I am not going to do that at this current midway point, I would at least like to sit myself down and go over some recent highlights related to Scene Before. At the same time, I’d like to also look into the future. Admittedly, some of this is still in planning stages, but still.

I’d like to start off with something I’d like to call “TERRIFIC 3” and “TERRIBLE 3.” I am going to list 3 movies that I have watched this year that I would recommend to people and 3 other movies that I would tell people to avoid. Now, of course, these picks are subjective, if you think differently about these films than I, it might be slightly harder to talk to each other, but you are nevertheless entitled to your different thoughts. In fact, these are not supposed to be my top 3 best or worst of the year so far. If I like a film, I’ll list it, if I don’t like a film, I’ll also list it. These are not meant to be in any particular order. Anyway, let’s begin!

TERRIFIC 3!

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Starting off the Terrific 3 is “John Wick: Chapter 3!” I went to see this film in Dolby Cinema alongside my dad, who might be a bigger “John Wick” fan than anyone else I know. He and I walked out agreeing that the action in the film is absolutely top-notch. The action in “John Wick” films is certainly the aspect that would grab my attention more than any other. Long takes, innovative setpieces, gritty violence, all of it adds up to make some of my favorite action scenes of all time. When it comes to current action franchises, I am having some slight trouble deciding whether I prefer this or “Mission: Impossible.” It’s that good!

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Up next is a stellar DreamWorks animation whose franchise I never watched religiously, but always liked, “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.” If you have ever seen the game show “Deal or No Deal,” the show always highlights the phrase “timing is everything,” and when it comes to “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” that phrase becomes more relevant than ever. This movie came out in the middle of my second semester of college, and I could not help but feel like the people behind the movie were trying to consider me in its target audience. After all, while “How To Train Your Dragon” may be a franchise directed towards families and children, this growing adult could not help but feel like a kid again. In fact, to add more to this true masterpiece of an animated film, I became more emotional during this movie than I did during perhaps more than any other. Even more than “Toy Story 3.”

Last but not least for the Terrific 3 is a movie that I decided to list because it’s on a slightly different end of the spectrum. Because let’s face it, I’m kind of recommending movies to you, and why recommend “Avengers: Endgame” when almost everyone went to see it? So let’s recommend a smaller movie, such as Terry Gilliam’s “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.” Now some would argue that this is a 2018 flick, but in the United States, which is where I live, this didn’t come out until 2019. For those of you who don’t know this movie, “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” took decades to make, and it’s about a guy who reunites with someone he worked with during a production. This person he meets with is convinced that he is Don Quixote. This did not get that big of a release in theaters, but it is worth seeing just because of its history, because despite going through “development hell,” it managed to turn out quite well! The movie is now available on home video including various VOD options.

Now let’s move onto something that probably doesn’t deserve any attention, but because I believe in equality, we’re talking about it anyway, the Terrible 3!

TERRIBLE 3!

First up is a movie that I want to put on here because what’s the harm with having an unpopular opinion? Oh wait, everything. Who cares? One of the most successful movies of the year, “Captain Marvel,” just didn’t stick the landing for me. This had a lot of hype building up to it, but I personally just couldn’t relate. And when I saw the final product, I felt like… Wait, why’s everybody laughing and cheering? Yes, there are a couple of cool moments in the movie. For example, I dug the 90’s references such as Blockbuster Video and Dial-Up Internet. Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson have some good chemistry, but when it comes to Larson in general, her performance was kind of mediocre. Granted, I know grade-A acting isn’t the biggest component of a comic book movie, but Brie Larson, an Academy Award winner, felt more like she was in a couple straight to DVD films and that’s it. Granted, I think she did a slightly better job in “Avengers: Endgame,” but her performance here simply underwhelmed me. Plus, there’s a moment in this movie that references a significant part of the MCU lore (having to do with Samuel L. Jackson) and quite honestly, the way they go about it just killed my brain.

Up next is a movie that could have been great but was simply wasted. From the creators of NOT “Firefly” comes “Serenity.” “Serenity” could be somewhat fun, not to mention a great “thinker” movie, but it manages to become more boring the more I think about it. I love the movie “Interstellar,” so I was somewhat excited to see Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway unite once again for another project. Both have talent as actors and they’ve proven they have great chemistry. Honestly, I’d just go back to watching “Interstellar” if this is the movie we’re getting. Although this movie came out in January so it should not be surprising that we would get a movie of this quality.

And finally, we have what may be my worst movie of the year should nothing surpass it, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” The sad thing about “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is that I was actually desperately anticipating this movie. When I went to see it, I was ready for what was about to happen. Or was I? Seeing movies in IMAX may be great because it feels so big, but when they’re a big mess, what is the point? Maybe the monster fights could be fun, but if I wanted to watch this movie again, I’d probably have to be heavily drugged. Because let’s face it, as cool as big monsters are, the unforgivable part of “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” are the one-dimensional human characters. This could be slightly less intolerable if the human characters were less of a focal point during the movie, but they made me want to go back and check out some of the “Transformers” movies again! They’re THAT horrible!

I just showed you all my terrific and terrible picks, now let’s go over a few recent highlights from my blogging journey.

As usual, I kicked off my 2019 with my traditional countdowns to reflect on the year of 2018 in film. I went over the best of the year along with the worst of the year. Some of my top picks included “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “Eighth Grade,” and “Mission: Impossible: Fallout.” Some of my bottom picks included “The 15:17 To Paris,” “Uncle Drew,” and “Life of the Party.” I enjoy doing these countdowns every year and this is the first year that I started writing what I would put in the countdowns as early as August. I did not do this for every single movie, but I visualized the lists a long time prior to actually releasing them. This does not suggest that I avoided considering movies released past August, as evidenced by some of my picks.

After I did my lists, I saw my first 2019 release, which according to IMDb, is actually a 2017 release. Based on my experience and research, I’d call it a 2019 release, but still. That film by the way is “The Upside,” which is a remake of 2011’s “The Intouchables.” I personally have not seen “The Intouchables,” and while “The Upside” from my perspective is not really anything special when it comes to cinema, it is still a fun time. I went to see it at a press screening, and there were tons of laughs to be heard.

A couple weeks later I went to one of my local arthouse theatres to see a flick that I almost ended up passing on. Specifically, “Roma.” Why? Because when it comes to today’s media, Netflix is a company that I traditionally tend to avoid. But one of my local theaters managed to get access to a 70mm film print of “Roma,” which would be presented for a limited time. I took advantage of the opportunity and purchased a few tickets for a matinee show. Not only was the experience breathtaking, but the movie was one of the best of the past year. If I had to redo my top 10 lists of 2018, this would be on the best list, but I saw “Roma” after completing said lists.

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I also decided to try out a new concept this year which I have decided to make an annual tradition, the Jackoff Awards. For awhile, over the past year, I have grown to admire the Oscars based on how much respect they tend to pay towards the film industry. Granted, they’re not perfect, but what they’ve done over the years is absolutely intriguing. I thought to myself, why not do a big awards related post? Present similar categories to other major shows, I do my own comedy bits, and it was perhaps the most ambitious post I have ever done. As for Best Picture, I decided to present what was then my top 10 of 2018, which DID include “Roma,” and instead of having me choose Best Picture, I would allow my audience to choose the winner. I figured it would allow for diversity in terms of opinions, and I managed to get a surprisingly diverse number of votes. I got some votes for “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “First Man,” “Ready Player One,” but the winner turned out to be last year’s biggest comic book movie, “Avengers: Infinity War.” Honestly, if there were any movie to put in my Blu-ray player on a Friday night at this point, it would most certainly be that one.

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I then continued my journey in March by going to the place that I would associate with film more than any other, Los Angeles. My family and I stayed right near Hollywood Boulevard and I got to visit a few media-related sights including Warner Brothers Studios, the TCL Chinese Theatre (where I saw “Captain Marvel”), and Universal Studios Hollywood. I also got the chance to witness a live taping of “Conan.” While I didn’t make a big post related to this, I managed to briefly discuss some of my highlights here and there.

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For those of you who are curious about my “Conan” taping experience, I managed to witness almost two full shows. Why? Conan O’Brien had to be somewhere when his Thursday show would air, so naturally, he had a demand, he wanted us, Thursday’s audience, to “make Tuesday’s audience look like s*it.” We got see all of Tuesday’s show, which had a couple comedy bits and an interview with Timothy Olyphant (Live Free or Die Hard, Santa Clarita Diet) and a good fraction of a Thursday night show which featured comedian Moses Storm, who joked about cell phone users, “Shark Tank,” and revealed a story where he would tape episodes of Conan O’Brien’s older talk show episodes over his religion-related educational programming. By the way, Conan in person looks like a real life action figure. Maybe it’s the makeup. Maybe it’s the lighting in the studio, but my gosh.

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I also got to visit an RPX venue for the first time. For those who don’t know about RPX, they are a premium format that can be found exclusively in cinemas under Regal Entertainment Group ownership. I didn’t plan on attending RPX when I did, but I managed to get something off my list of movie-related things to do before I died. After all, “Us” just came out, and I was in the Boston area. I figured just to save time, I’d go for the earlier, but more expensive show that Regal Cinemas Fenway was providing, as opposed to another show which would be starting a half hour later. For your information, I was aware that I was going into an RPX screen. I didn’t mind my decision, I figured if I wanted to see “Us,” I’d go see it in full scale glory because I was really anticipating it. While I have still yet to see “Get Out” to this day, I have heard about its overwhelmingly positive reception and I was expecting that Jordan Peele would deliver another sick movie. While “Us” was not perfect, it was definitely worth seeing, and I wouldn’t mind watching it again. As for the RPX experience itself, I thought the seats were not too bad. The capacity was through the roof, the screen, while not entirely wall to wall, was huge. As for the sound… It is undeniably better than a standard theater, but I was a little underwhelmed. Maybe I went to see the wrong movie, maybe the employees turned the speakers down, but when I compare the sound to something like IMAX or Dolby Cinema at AMC, I would go back to both of those places first.

Moving onto April, I managed to survive the whole “Avengers: Endgame” ticket buying craze. For those not fully immersed into what I just stated, I must point out that “Avengers: Endgame” tickets went on sale April 2nd, and the Internet went balls to the wall nuts when it came to snagging tickets. I had to wait in Fandango’s line, AMC was having problems, and it got to the point where I had to buy tickets from a somewhat local cinema chain, on their own, slightly buggy website, just to make sure I could get into school on time. I almost took the train to one of my local AMCs because I could stop by there on the way to school. If I did that, I am willing to bet I would have missed out on opening night of “Endgame,” which was the day I was shooting for. After all I did want to get my review out as soon as possible, and I did manage to score a couple tickets on remaining good seats for a 9PM show. Not at an AMC, but at a Showcase Cinemas. While it was not my first choice, I don’t regret going there, because an hour before going into the cinema, I got a glimpse at everyone leaving the 22 MCU movie marathon the theater was showing over a few days. Everyone was being applauded, and they left with some merch. I recorded this aftermath on Facebook Live, and despite my camera’s focusing problems and poor cellular service, I managed to get some respectable footage. Also as a Bostonian, I was proud of myself to catch a reporter from one of my local news channels, WBZ, or CBS Channel 4. To be specific, Tashanea Whitlow. As for the premiere itself, the movie was fun, and the three hour runtime was rather justified given what we as an audience received. I didn’t think it was perfect, I’d much rather watch “Infinity War,” but it was a great finale to over ten years of films. I will also say, this may be due to where I went to see the movie, seeing “Infinity War” was also a better experience. Because I went to see it at a 7PM show on opening Thursday on an eight story IMAX screen. If you have ever gone to see an event-type film in India, that is one of the most solid comparisons I could make to my experience. It was like going to a Stanley Cup game or something. “Endgame,” which was in a sold out theater in regular 2D, had barely any applause (although some reactions here and there), and out of everyone in the theater, I may have been the most obnoxious. If I had to make a sports comparison, I’d probably say it was like going to a slightly more competitive golf tournament. It was lively at times, but not like the roof was being blown off the place. I know some people are not particularly fans of going to theaters where everyone is reacting to the film’s key moments, but as a fan of the MCU, it’s something that I considered to be a privilege during my “Infinity War” experience.

May was an interesting month for me, because I just finished my first year of college, so I got a little more active on the Scene Before side of things. I’m now trying to earn revenue with the blog, I saw more movies than I did in months such as March or February, and I even changed my domain name. Unfortunately, scenebefore.com was taken, so I wanted to make sure I can fit something that would associate with me, but also be precise. I thought something like moviereviewingmoron.com, while definitely appropriate, is a tad too long. Luckily, after some searching, I found out that flicknerd.com was available. Did I ever call myself “flick nerd” on this blog? No, but I figured it would be a cool name to have because its simplicity will probably gain enough traction overtime. It’s hard to tell though, because this advanced blogging journey, at least from my point of view, is just getting started. I’m looking for sponsors, more potential viewers, but I’m also trying to be the same movie reviewing moron that everyone has come to know.

One of my highlight posts of the month is titled “What THE BIG BANG THEORY Has Meant To Me: A Nerd’s Perspective.” For those who are unaware, CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” just finished it’s twelfth and final season on the air, so I figured I’d take some time to remind the world of what the show has meant to me as a fan, as someone who would constantly tune in to new episodes, and most of all, as a nerd on the autism spectrum. I probably won’t have time to give a detailed description of everything I said, so if you want to read the post, click this link!

I also saw another one of my favorite films so far this year, “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum!” Not only that, but like I mentioned earlier, I managed to catch a Dolby Cinema presentation of it, which surprisingly, didn’t make me feel like I was getting shot in the head, which may be a good thing. Seriously though, “John Wick: Chapter 3” is probably the best installment of the franchise yet, and Keanu Reeves might now just have a better trilogy than “The Matrix!”

But I cannot say the end of the month was great, because “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” happened. Sad day. Even though I went to see the film in full scale IMAX glory, it didn’t feel like something worth my time.

Moving onto June, I managed to do something pretty cool with my dad. He and I go to the movies together a lot because for the most part we have similar tastes. We match together when it comes to sci-fi, action, comic book-based material, comedy, etc. However he has never been to an advance press screening, so I thought just for fun he and I could do so for the new movie, “Men In Black: International.” It’s a movie that I probably would have checked out had I waited for it to release everywhere. After all, “Men In Black 3” is my favorite movie of 2012. However, since this was free, not to mention, early, I thought dad and I could trek to the theater and see what this movie had in store. I personally enjoyed it. I know some people were scared of how this movie would turn out based on the marketing (Then again, it’s a Sony film, whaddya expect these days?). I thought the first trailer was alright, but not great. The second trailer was an improvement and actually got me more interested in the film. As for the film itself, it is not Shakespeare, but it’s a fun time at the movies. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson have great chemistry together and I think Kumail Nanjiani’s character is a fantastic comic relief.

The best movie I saw this month was “Toy Story 4,” which I must point out, I probably was not even looking forward to back when it was announced. Boy, times do change! Unfortunately, I had to witness brain cell erasers such as “Replicas,” which I bought on Blu-ray since I had some Best Buy rewards to waste. I also saw “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” which is worse than getting scratched in the eye by a cat. Yes, Harrison Ford is in it. Yes, he is the best part of the movie. But I might as well be at the point where I would rather have a dog sniff my butt then go so that film again!

Now that I have recapped my highlights, I just want to remind everyone of what’s being planned for the future. Here is my unofficial schedule for the second half of 2019!

JULY:

Throughout the month of July, there are not that many movies coming out compared to other months in the year (at least according to Wikipedia), but I am planning on catching a few blockbuster highlights such as “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” despite how little anticipation I have for it. I also really want to catch Disney’s live-action remake of “The Lion King.” I am not a fan of the Disney live-action remake trend, but I feel that this movie will be a great theater experience and also rather compelling. I don’t know how much it is going to be a carbon copy of the original or how much it’ll go in its own direction, but I am somewhat curious as to what will come of it. I know it is longer than the original, which slightly worries me, because it could add something that perhaps the 1990s film didn’t even need, therefore ruining my experience. Plus, it’s being directed by Jon Faverau, who also worked on 2016’s “The Jungle Book,” another Disney live-action remake, which was one of my favorite movies of said year. I also really want to check out “Crawl.” The trailer didn’t have me fully onboard, but I am still curious as to how this film will turn out. Plus, it’s being produced by Sam Raimi, who is known for his work in the horror industry, and one of my favorite comic book movie directors.

This does not mean that I want to ignore independent work, because on the same weekend as “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” A24 is releasing one of my most anticipated movies of the summer. Specifically, “Midsommar.” When your movie is A: Directed by Ari Aster, who had a phenomenal feature-length directorial debut last year with “Hereditary,” another A24 film, and B: Described by Aster as “a Wizard of Oz for perverts,” I am instantly intrigued. “Midsommar” takes place in rural Sweden as a young couple takes a vacation and settles in the area. Alongside their friends, they eventually discover that this area has a festival that takes place once every ninety years, which creeps them all out. I want to see Ari Aster succeed, so hopefully this film does well.

Speaking of successful filmmakers, another well-known director in the industry, specifically Quentin Tarantino, is going to be releasing his ninth film, “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood.” And to be honest, as anticipated as I am to see this film, I have to let something out. I have not seen much of Tarantino’s work. I will most likely be going to see “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood” when it comes out, maybe in 35mm, but before I do that, I am going to be doing a small series of reviews for Quentin Tarantino movies. In fact, I already have a few lined up. Specifically, “Pulp Fiction,” “Django Unchained,” and “The Hateful Eight.” Those reviews will be done as weekly projects and they should all be up before the official release date of “Once Upon a Time In Hollywood,” July 26th.

 

AUGUST:

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESRemember how I would occasionally announce I am going to cons from time to time? For some reason I have failed to do that this year. It’s not like I am not going anywhere, but I have just failed to put myself in front of my keyboard and try to say, “Hey guys, here’s where I’m going, stalk me!” Not that don’t mind the attention, I’m just saying. But if you really want to know about my next con, I do have it booked, and I will be going to Terrificon, which for those of you who have been following me for some time, you’d know that is also the first con I ever documented on this blog. And I am thinking of doing something a little different this time, just to spice things up. I’m trying to push more video content into my posts, maybe I’ll insert a compilation of the con’s highlights. I’ll record it on my camera, maybe my phone, whichever has more memory at the time. Maybe I’ll post it on YouTube and link it here. Who knows? But here on Scene Before I am trying find ways to innovate, and maybe this could be one of them.

Speaking of cons, this is NO GUARANTEE, partially because I have not even bought tickets, but there is one convention that is about a half hour away from my house that I kind of want to go to. Whether or not I am going, that’s a different story, but should things go in a certain direction, I may end up going to Fan Expo Boston, which is a con I have surprisingly never been to. And the guest list this year, aside from a couple big cancellations, is solid so far. You’ve got Zachary Levi (Shazam!, Tangled), who I will say, even if you are not into his work, he is a fun guy to meet, he is upbeat and has a massive sense of charm. Part of the cast of “Blade Runner” is going to be there including Sean Young, Rutger Hauer, and Edward James Olmos. I have a feeling there are more guest announcements coming our way, and if there are, I cannot wait to hear them, because there have been a lot of cool names who were there over the years to the point where I almost have slight regrets on missing out. If I were to get tickets to Fan Expo, I’d probably just go for one day. After all, Terrificon is the week prior, and I am staying overnight during that weekend, so my budget might be slightly higher at that event compared to Fan Expo.

Moving away from cons, I will say that my biggest film catches for August right now have to be “Hobbs & Shaw,” “Dora and the Lost City of Gold,” “Good Boys,” “Where’d You Go Bernadette?,” and “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.” There is not much from August that I am truly anticipating, but I will inevitably go see a few things here and there. And if you want to know something, I only put down “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” because let’s face it, “Dora the Explorer” was a part of my childhood, and nostalgia equals money nowadays. Granted, this movie looks a tad more adult-friendly than the cartoon. But am I looking forward to it? Hell no. In fact, I am thinking it is only going to ruin my childhood, but I might as well give it a chance just because I am a nice guy. I saw the recent “Power Rangers” film partially out of nostalgia and that worked for me, might as well do it with “Dora” and see if that works.

 

SEPTEMBER:
If I had to predict my least active month for the rest of the year, I have to call it right now, September is certainly a contender. For one thing, I’m going back to college, so I need to adjust to a new routine. I’m still going to keep my promise of doing at least one post within every 7 days or so, that way you can keep witnessing my constant dedication to this blog. I’m probably not gonna go see “IT: Chapter Two” mainly because I still have not seen the first one. Although the cast is pretty nifty from what I have experienced. But I am interested in “The Goldfinch,” I have some slight intrigue towards “The Report,” and maybe I’ll check out “Abominable.” I saw one of the trailers for it, and it looks like it might not be a new animated classic or anything, but I am somewhat curious to check it out, partially because even as an adult, I still have a slight need to check out animations from time to time. Plus, it is from DreamWorks, and I’m currently trying to seek out their next big thing. “Kung Fu Panda” is done, “How to Train Your Dragon” seems to be done, maybe this, or something else, can be their next kickstarter to a solid franchise. Then again, apparently they’re making sequels to “The Boss Baby,” “The Croods,” and “Trolls,” so why should I expect absolute quality? Nevertheless, it’s worth a shot.

Although if you had to ask me what my most anticipated movie would be for the month of September, it’s a no brainer, “Ad Astra.” I love space, I love compelling, dramatic stories involving space travel, even if it is close to Earth. Plus, the second half of the year for numerous ages of my life have typically contained at least one epic space movie. Maybe “Ad Astra” will be the next to join the ranks with other movies from this decade like “The Martian” and “Interstellar.”

 

OCTOBER:

This October is pretty interesting to me, because there will be a weekend where my mother and sister are out of the house and I will quite honestly, need something to do. I can’t just stay trapped behind walls! I have to see the world! Nevertheless, that particular weekend is the release of “Joker,” which I am inevitably going to check out no matter what, but for the sake of having an early review, I’m going to check it out as soon as possible. I have Fridays off from school this upcoming semester, maybe I’ll do it then. The following week is the release of Will Smith’s “Gemini Man,” directed by Ang Lee, so I might see that. And the week after is slightly bigger because Taika Waititi is coming out with his latest directorial feature, “Jojo Rabbit,” where believe it or not, Waititi himself plays Hitler. I never pictured that, but this film certainly has my attention. That same week is also the release of “Zombieland: Double Tap.” I had fun with the first “Zombieland.” I enjoyed the chemistry between Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson, and it has, at least to me, a pure highlight from Bill Murray’s acting career. And to my surprise, he’s coming back for this movie! I also want to check out “The Aeronauts” which is being released by Amazon, and the reason why I want to check it out is because it is Amazon’s first attempt at an IMAX run and it is also being released a week early in that format. The film will technically be in standard theaters in November after it’s week-long IMAX run. And if this is the case, this reminds me of the excitement I had for Robert Zemeckis’ “The Walk,” because that released a week early in IMAX and that was quite an experience.

Speaking of lesser known films, one other thing I want to check out is the South Korean flick “Parasite.” It’s getting tons of buzz at film festivals, having earned Palme d’Or at Cannes, winning the Sydney Film Festival, and already making tons of money in Korea. The film’s US release is this October, which would put it in a reasonable spot to be remembered by Academy and Golden Globe voters.

 

NOVEMBER:
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This November is particularly interesting. Because November 1st is the day I’m heading off to Providence for Rhode Island Comic Con, and that’s the day after Halloween! I’m not cosplaying (at least I have no plans to right now) at this con, but I just want to walk around the convention floor for hours and stumble upon every costumed individual and wish them a Happy Halloween. Nevertheless, I am staying true to my annual tradition of going to Rhode Island Comic Con. The guest list is usually filled to the brim, so I cannot wait to hear more announcements over these upcoming months. Even so, the convention has had some huge announcements for guests thus far. Some guests include Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy, Blade Runner 2049), William Shatner (Star Trek: The Original Series, Boston Legal), George Takei (Star Trek: The Original Series, Kim Possible), Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead, Final Space), and to my utter surprise, and possible delight, Chevy Chase. By the way, Chase made an announcement about his upcoming appearance online and the video he made for it is very funny.

Sticking to the announcement wishlist concept, I recently made a submission on the con’s website suggesting names of five possible guests that I want to see. They include: James Murray, Curtis Armstrong, Kunal Nayyar, Doug Walker, and James Holzhauer. I could be mistaking Doug Walker for somebody else, but even if I am, he would be fun to see at the con. Of all these names, the one that really stands out to me is James Holzhauer. Out of all the people on this list, he is the least “celebrity-like” of all of them. James Murray comes close, but barely misses the mark. For those who are unaware, Holzhauer is the name of the recent “Jeopardy!” contestant who wouldn’t stop taking the show’s money. He has nearly broken Ken Jennings’ regular winnings record, only to be stopped by an opponent who beat him by more than double his final total for the game he lost. I think Holzhauer appearing at Rhode Island Comic Con would not just be unique, but also entirely appropriate. After all, it would probably bring in a new audience of people who would otherwise skip out on cons. Plus, as a game show enthusiast, I cannot help but keep talking about Holzhauer like he’s my own child. It’s almost as if being able to catch the latest “Jeopardy!” episode or at least reading up on the latest stats was the ultimate bragging right. Also, this year I’m going with a VIP ticket, which comes with various perks.

VIP Ticket Perks:

  • 3 day admission
  • Early bird admission (9AM Sat & Sun)
  • Private VIP Entrance
  • Private VIP Lounge
  • 3 Exclusive RI Comic Con Show Prints
  • Rhode Island Comic Con Swag Bag
  • 20% off RICC Branded Merchandise
  • Exclusive VIP 2019 RI Comic Con Badge
  • Exclusive RICC AR Comics-Comic Book
  • Exclusive RICC Comic Book
  • VIP Autograph Fast Pass Line
  • VIP Photo Op Fast Pass Line
  • Chance to Win 2020 VIP Pass
  • One Exclusive Mystery Item

I am personally excited for the con, and believe it or not, it is not the first time I’m getting a VIP badge, because the first time I went, which was in 2015, I managed to get said badge as well.

That same weekend is also the release of the new “Terminator” film, “Terminator: Dark Fate.” It is a cliche title, but its first trailer, personally had me intrigued. I’m excited to see what Tim Miller has up his sleeve in terms of direction. I am somewhat excited to see James Cameron involved again, although I am slightly worried because we now have more disposable “Terminator” movies than memorable “Terminator” movies. Let’s just hope we can change that.

Some of my other most anticipated films of the month include “Ford v. Ferrari,” “Knives Out,” and “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” “Ford v. Ferrari” takes place during a race to determine which of the two recently specified car brands will dominate. “Knives Out” is an upcoming mystery crime film directed by Rian Johnson. I did not like his interpretation of the “Star Wars” universe, but it does not mean I am not willing to check out his future work. Plus, this movie has a number of big names that I imagine a lot of people would like to see. Some include Daniel Craig (Casino Royale, Logan Lucky), Chris Evans (Captain America: The First Avenger, Gifted), Lakeith Stanfield (Black Panther, Sorry To Bother You), Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049, War Dogs), Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween, Scream Queens), the world’s best Kevin Spacey impersonator, Christopher Plummer (All the Money in the World, A Beautiful Mind), and recent Jackoff winner Toni Collette (Hereditary, The Sixth Sense). As for “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” it is in the current conversation to be my most anticipated film for the remainder of the year. For one thing, I saw “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” last year, which much like “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” is about Mister Rogers. That documentary not only compelled me, but reminded me of my personal flaws in my childhood, and maybe inspired me to be a better person. I still rage out on this blog a lot, but it’s something that I don’t really do for me, I do it for the entertainment of others, so that’s different. But it reminded me of how much it pays to respect those around you. Plus, TOM HANKS IS PLAYING THE STARRING ROLE?! Who else could do that?! He’s practically the nicest guy in Hollywood! SIGN ME UP! Believe it or not, that comes out the same weekend as “Frozen II,” but who cares about that?! Rogers for life!

 

DECEMBER:

The end of the year is always a crazy time for me, but just like last year, it’ll perhaps be less busy than it has been in other years. My fall semester will end during the month, and I’ll be in the cycle of watching previous movies from the year at home. This does not mean that I’ll be skipping theatrical releases, because award season is in full swing. This means I’ll be paying extra close attention to films that receive Golden Globe nominations, and as for reviewing movies I watch at home, the chances of that are very slim. But this does not mean that big blockbusters are entirely off the table. For one thing, they tend to sometimes do pretty well in certain technical categories, and we have another “Star Wars” film this year. I have intentions to go see “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” opening Thursday night, mainly because I want to buy tickets as early as possible. If I can’t do that, I am going to try extra hard to find an available press screening, because aside from “Endgame,” “The Rise of Skywalker” is perhaps the biggest movie of 2019. Aside from being titled “Star Wars,” it is supposed to end “The Skywalker Saga,” and J.J. Abrams is directing again. I was not a huge fan of “The Last Jedi,” but I love “The Force Awakens” like it is my own brother. I am honestly more excited for “The Rise of Skywalker” than I was for “The Last Jedi” before that came out because I was somewhat worried that “The Last Jedi” would be a carbon copy of “The Empire Strikes Back.” Turns out it wasn’t, despite similarities to older films in the saga. And I even say this knowing how some things in “The Last Jedi” turned out. Having seen the trailer back in April, knowing certain plot points that could play out, and realizing J.J. Abrams could save this sequel trilogy, I am rather giddy for this December. But despite my excitement, I gotta ask. HOW IS PALPATINE STILL ALIVE?! I am excited to possibly see him in this film, but really?! When he was thrown down the pit in “Return of the Jedi,” yeeaah, HE F*CKING DIED. There is no coming back from that. I’m intrigued, I just need to be convinced.

When it comes to smaller films, one such film I am very excited for is “Little Women.” The film is supposed to explore the lives of sisters as they live in 1860s Massachusetts. It may not be my type of movie on paper, but one reason why I am excited is because the film is being directed by Greta Gerwig, who also helmed one of the best coming of age stories I have seen in recent years, “Lady Bird.” In addition to that, the cast is killer! This movie’s got Meryl Streep (Sophie’s Choice, The Iron Lady), Emma Watson (Beauty and the Beast, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone), Laura Dern (Big Little Lies, Jurassic Park), Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird, Mary Queen of Scots), and Timothée Chalamet (Interstellar, Beautiful Boy)! I am also probably going to be looking into “1917,” which is a war film. Those tend to often go for awards, which is why I have my sights set on it. There are a couple films that I might check out that I would probably regret seeing, but the only real film that I’d struggle with reviewing is “Fair and Balanced.” Granted, this does not mean I am not looking forward to the film, nor am I expecting to be underwhelmed with it, in fact it sounds rather intriguing from a storytelling point of view. But the movie is about relationships between women and Fox News owner Roger Ailes, and I feel that it is going to be rather hard to keep my political opinions out of the review. I’m not saying I am a core conservative that keeps a closed mind, I try to see all sides and then form my own opinion. I have made various political jokes here and there on Scene Before, but politics is not my top priority, especially when you consider how divided we are as a country right now. Although I did manage to check out “Vice” last year, which was pretty good, but part of it had to do with the buzz it has been getting. Who knows? Maybe I’ll check out “Fair and Balanced,” for all I know it could be the best movie of the year, but I feel like it would be hard to review if I’m going to have to inject my experience with how the world operates in terms of politics. We’ll just have to see.

And of course, I’ll be finishing off the year, or perhaps more likely, kicking off next year, by recapping my top 10 BEST and WORST movies of 2019. I enjoy doing these countdowns every year, because I get to honor films one more time, and also give myself a minor stress release.

Although I must remind you, it is 2019, and here on Scene Before I am trying to constantly find new ways to deliver exciting content to you all. In 2017, I did a couple of cutaway style parodies, in 2018 I did a post talking about my Blu-ray collection, and just this year I introduced the world to the Jackoff Awards. The question is, where I do I go next? I’ve done tons of countdowns, reviews of the past, reviews of the present, what could be next? I know! ALL OF IT IN ONE. Ladies and gentlemen, if you have been following Scene Before and saw one of my posts in April, you’d know that I put out a trailer for something I once referred to as “Project 2020.” Although, based on statistics, I doubt many of you have even glanced at that post. But for those of you who know what I’m talking about, good for you. You get a “good job” sticker! But for those of you who don’t know, watch this trailer down below!

*ALL COPYRIGHTS BELONG TO THEIR RESPECTIVE OWNERS*

That’s right! I am going to be crafting a list of my highlight movies of the 2010’s, and I must have you know, I am setting this list up to be bigger than the lists I traditionally do at the end of the year. While this is still in planning stages, I will be intending to make this list perhaps a top 25, maybe a top 50. I was also debating on a top 100 as well. Depends on how much time I have. I am honestly MORE THAN EXCITED to work on this list, and release it to you all. I started Scene Before in 2016, which means I did not get too many chances to talk about films from years prior, so not only is this a personal reflection of various films I watched during my blogging journey, but a reflection of an entire ten year span that I lived through before becoming this active on the Internet. I’m not gonna say anything, but 2014 was a great year for film as far I’m concerned, so depending on how the rest of 2019 plays out, we might see a good number of films I’m passionate about from that year make the list. This is not to put down any other year from this decade, I’m just giddy of what’s to come…

And by the way, a worst list is in the works too.

At home I am making an effort to watch various films that have come out this decade just to catch up, and maybe add something to the best or worst list at the end of the year. I’m not gonna get into too much detail, because I do want to save some secrets for when the list comes out, but I am stoked just to be working on this.

Thanks for reading this post! If you like Scene Before and want to see more content, consider following me either with an email or WordPress account! As for upcoming content, I want to remind everyone, in case they forgot by now, I will soon be starting my Quentin Tarantino review series, which will eventually culminate with a review either at the end of July or beginning of August with my thoughts on “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” I cannot wait to get started on this, Tarantino is a filmmaker I have often admired behind the scenes, but I have barely seen any of his material. Now is a good time to start! Also, be sure to check out my Facebook page! Get your latest updates from the movie reviewing moron by using Facebook, the home of some of the all-time laziest efforts at wishing someone a happy birthday. Be sure to stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, is there something that you would like to see be done here on Scene Before, perhaps for this half of 2019? Or, what is your favorite Scene Before moment, post, anything that I have done so far this year? It can even be this one for all I care! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019): The Secret’s Out: This Movie’s As Lifeless As A Pet Rock

“The Secret Life of Pets 2” is directed by Chris Renaud, who directed the previous installment to this specific franchise. He also has a voice role as multiple characters. Renaud is directing alongside Jonathan del Val, whose work has mainly been in the animation department for other Illumination titles such as “The Grinch” and “The Lorax,” which makes this his directorial debut. This film stars Patton Oswalt (King of Queens, Ratatouille) as the character of Max, a dog who has many pet pals in his vicinity around the city of New York. What’s interesting about that is the first movie had Max be voiced by Louis C.K., but based on eventually surfaced controversy, C.K. was replaced by Oswalt. Alongside Oswalt, we have Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family, Identity Thief), Kevin Hart (Ride Along, Central Intelligence), Jenny Slate (Obvious Child, The LEGO Batman Movie), Tiffany Haddish (Night School, Uncle Drew), Lake Bell (BoJack Horseman, Childrens Hospital), Nick Kroll (Operation Finale, Sing), Hannibal Buress (The Eric Andre Show, Neighbors), Bobby Moynihan (Saturday Night Live, Me, Myself, & I), and Harrison Ford (Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark).

“The Secret Life of Pets 2” follows the story of the recently mentioned Max as he adapts to having a human child by his side, only to eventually become protective of said child, not to mention, his own self. Meanwhile we get side stories involving the bunny Snowball as a superhero and the dog Gidget guarding a toy as she tries to learn the traditions of being a cat.

I saw the original “Secret Life of Pets” back when it came out, and it was also one of my first reviews I have ever done (view my continuously developing content here). When I did that review, I managed to view the movie as decent, and I managed to address a complaint that I imagine a decent number of people had while watching the film. Specifically, the notion that “The Secret Life of Pets” is too similar to “Toy Story.” Yes, there are similarities, but “The Secret Life of Pets” is fine enough to stand on its own if you ask me.

Oh, by the way! Check out my review for “Toy Story 4!”

That first movie managed to make $800 million more than its original budget of $75 million. Regardless of the movie’s quality, that is something both Universal and Illumination should celebrate. So naturally, a sequel seemed to be inevitable.

Well, here we are. And honestly, while I imagine some people like Chris Renaud may be doing this as a passion project, this almost feels like one of those movies that only exists just to make money. I could just say that just from viewing the movie on paper, but I viewed it on a screen. Guess what? I still feel that way! “The Secret Life of Pets 2” is the worst animation of the year so far! If I had to be honest, this just makes me feel bad for Illumination. I know the studio is pretty popular right now, especially with the following of “Despicable Me,” a trilogy I still have yet to see from start to finish. I saw part of the second film, and that is it. No, I have not seen “Minions.” But even though I enjoyed “Sing” and sort of enjoyed “The Secret Life of Pets,” I have yet to see that one film which defines the studio. To add onto this, I watched last year’s “The Grinch” and it was freaking awful. My gosh golly! That movie was a mean one for sure! Sadly, I think this movie’s worse. Because for starters, much like “The Grinch,” there is some occasional nice looking animation in this, but I think “The Grinch” slightly edges out its competitor because “The Grinch” was colorful and zazzy. There was nothing in this film that had a real wow factor. In fact, most of the film is cringe if you ask me!

Seriously! The writing is terrible! The plot is nearly convoluted! Not to mention, the movie almost has this rushed feeling to it. And if you look at the runtime, this statement would not surprise you. I say that because the runtime is 1 hour and 26 minutes. Coincidentally, that is also the runtime of what may be the worst animated film of all time, “The Emoji Movie,” another rushed disaster that might as well exist because, well, the thing it is about is trendy! “The Secret Life of Pets” was a success, why not make another one? We’ll make it the s*ittiest waste of time and money imaginable, and everyone will go see it. The script will be so lazy that it will eventually spend lots of time in one of the crew members’ junk drawers! Granted, “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” admittedly, is much better than “The Emoji Movie,” so this does not say much.

I felt like I already gave a teaser to how chaotic this movie is in terms of building blocks, because it didn’t feel like a movie. Instead, it felt more like a bad situation comedy episode with pets as the main cast. There are multiple plot lines for individual characters, which is fine for a number of films, but the execution was poor in this one. There are cheap jokes that don’t land, and there are anger-inducing moments that make playing a game of pinball where the flipper buttons shock you with each press look fun!

As for Max himself, there is one question I want to ask to the general audience going to this film. Do you care about the replacement voice actor? I could tell the voice difference betweent Oswalt and C.K., but I understand why the replacement happened so it’s not like I entirely give damn. Oswalt did a fine job with the voice, but as an avid moviegoer, I am gonna inevitably notice things, and Oswalt’s voice is not the same as C.K.’s. If you ask me, I would have probably done an audition process to see if someone could be a good match to Louis C.K.’s voice for the movie. Then again, I imagine some people don’t want to think about that guy so that could backfire. In terms of characterization, I understand the purpose of his character throughout the film and how he was written, but Max’s main problem in the movie in terms of how it was executed, nearly made me roll my eyes. Did I feel bad for him at times? Sure. But I still hated myself throughout the experience.

But as he tries to cope with this we get to meet the absolute best character in the movie, Rooster. For one thing, he’s voiced by Harrison Ford, who definitely brings a likable screen presence into a lot of projects, perhaps even if he sleepwalks. He has a couple of funny moments during the film, sadly I saw the characters’s main highlights prior to going into the auditorium. I guess this is what you get for watching promotional material and talk shows. Although unfortunately, because this movie quite literally cannot get any shorter, the amount of screentime Rooster manages to have is slightly underwhelming. I could tell that Harrison Ford was likely trying, but I would almost bet that this was a paycheck movie as far as Ford was concerned. As soon as I saw what I then gathered would be Ford’s final scene in the film, I almost wanted to turn off my brain. And I don’t mean turn off my brain and shove popcorn in my month as I stare at the screen. I mean lose all processes of thinking, knowing, and realizing. Because while I’m not psychic, I imagined that whatever would come next in the film, would be nowhere near as fun or entertaining as the scenes with Ford’s character. And of course, this super genius of film is right once again! Boom! Although I will say one thing about Harrison Ford’s character that is kind of interesting, I guess Han Solo got to play Chewbacca for once!

*Cricket noises*

Chewbacca derives from a Russian word for dog.

There is a lot of crap that happens in this movie to the point where I don’t even have the time to hit all of it (and some hinges into spoiler territory). Some of it includes a scene where Chloe (Lake Bell) is slowly taking in the effects of cat nip as if it was some sort of illegal drug, which might qualify to be one of the most unintentionally disturbing scenes in animation history. The ending is kind of absurd that it almost feels like it is too much for a cartoon, but there is one thing I have yet to cover regarding this film that I absolutely hate as a viewer.

They say a story is only as good as its villain. If that’s the case, THEN THIS STORY IS BULLCRAP! “The Secret Life of Pets 2” has a villain that even makes a good portion of the underwhelming MCU villains come off as menacing and watchable. Specifically, a character by the name of Sergei. The lackluster Sergei is partially responsible for running a circus. His latest addition to the crew is a wild tiger named Hu. Maybe I could appreciate the villain if he wasn’t so over-embellished, but crew went ahead and uttered “F*ck that! Quality? Who cares about quality? Let’s make him talk deep, with a unique yet cliche voice, give him the most boring lines imaginable, give him less personality than a bowling pin, and possibly make him more evil than he should be!” It would be fine if Sergei were some alien from another world or if he… I dunno, just didn’t happen to be human, but behind his black clothing and sidekick wolves, he is very likely just a regular guy. I imagine he would do other things in life aside from his dayjob at the circus. Once he gets home, I imagine he turns on the TV, watches the news, heats up a microwavable pizza, drinks a glass water, takes a shower, lives a normal life. I don’t mind ordinary people becoming extremely villainous for one reason or another, but in this case, it just didn’t work. If this is supposed to be propaganda against the circus or keeping wild animals where they don’t belong, maybe I could appreciate the movie for the direction it decided to take. But I’m sorry, it is overshadowed by cringe, insanity, stupidity, and a villain who makes this movie even more of a waste of my time than I ever imagined it would be. Remember the movie “Up” where the main villain is basically an elderly man who just loved to explore and hunt? He was not a maniac for the sake of being a maniac! Much like this film’s villain, he’s got a pack of animal sidekicks, but they have more dimension than chasing after potential victims. Then again, that’s because in this movie, the wolves are loyal to their one-dimensional owner whereas in “Up” the owner of the mob of dogs managed to have a personality. Man, this movie sucks!

In the end, “The Secret Life of Pets 2” is more intolerable than a bite from a vicious dog. I cannot even believe I am still talking about this movie! But in all seriousness, this movie could have been a lesson to children to make them realize they may have to face their fears, but sadly, I’m a teenager, and now I have self-diagnosed disease of TheSecretLifeofPets2phobia. Maybe it could be a lesson for adults and parents to not to make their children too soft, but even with a lesson like that intact, I learned a different lesson from “The Secret Life of Pets 2.” That lesson by the way is that I don’t ever want to watch this film again! This movie is a bad boy! Bad boy! Or… girl??? Is it a boy or girl? I dunno, who cares? The jokes don’t the work, the screenplay doesn’t work, and everything feels as rushed as math homework done by a student who answered each problem with the phrase “I dunno.” The first movie was OK, and now I am starting to wonder if someone put heavy drugs in my body because maybe if I watch that original film now it could suck. You know, kind of like this movie did. I’m going to give “The Secret Life of Pets 2” a 2/10. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that next week I am going to releasing a giant post related to my Scene Before experience so far this year, which will also include a preview for what I’ll be doing for the rest of the year. Stay tuned for that! Be sure to follow Scene Before either with a WordPress account or email so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “The Secret Life of Pets 2?” What did you think about it? Or, what is the worst animated movie of the year for you? I did not see “Wonder Park,” but if I did see it, I imagine that would be in the conversation for sure. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Us (2019): This Is “Us”

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“Us” is directed by Jordan Peele (Get Out, Keanu) and stars Lupita Nyong’o (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, 12 Years A Slave) Winston Duke (Black Panther, Person of Interest), Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale, Mad Men), and Tim Heidecker (On Cinema, Decker) in film where a family takes a trip to Santa Cruz. While trying to enjoy their vacation, they eventually encounter doppelgangers of themselves. Once this happens, scares, hijinks, blood, and gore are all to be witnessed.

This movie is helmed by Jordan Peele, whose work I have been exposed to in the past, but I was never truly invested in him. In fact, I have still yet to see “Get Out.” Admittedly, I was debating on watching “Get Out” the day before I went to see this film in the theater since I own the 4K for it, but that ultimately did not happen. But I did manage to catch “Us” on its opening Friday in RPX, because it was better for me timing-wise, despite being pricier than a standard theatre, I figured maybe it would probably provide some enhancements in the scares, and I have never seen an RPX movie before, so I figured I might as well start now. There were definitely some enhancements to be had, but I don’t want to dive too deep into the experience itself, but as far as the movie goes, I was definitely impressed. But part of me wonders… was I impressed enough?

To me, I am beginning to wonder if Jordan Peele is going to be the next Alfred Hitchcock. It is a little hard to tell given how he hasn’t directed too many films, but based on the reception “Get Out” has previously gotten, plus the thoughts given thus far on “Us,” including my own, I am thinking that is definitely possible. Although that will ultimately depend if Peele decides to continue writing and directing for films, which direction he decides to take, and if he comes out with more films that are well received. Granted, this movie is not perfect, and while there is a part of me that is saying this film is f*cking amazing, there’s another part of me that is a tad disappointed by particular aspects.

“Us” by itself is a scary, thrilling, and intriguing horror flick. There are definitely scares to be had, and it is also very mindbending. Based on the box office (this movie set a record for original horror films), this movie definitely has gotten a hand of general audience members out of their homes and into the cinema, but regardless of which demographics go out and see “Us,” it kind of felt like something I’d watch in an art house at certain points. Granted, there are a lot of elements that add up to mainstream horror, and luckily, those elements don’t appear to be the oldest cheap tricks in the book. But I feel like this movie had a sense of flavor that it probably wouldn’t have gotten if it weren’t for Jordan Peele.

I don’t follow Jordan Peele all that much but when it comes to “Us,” I really felt something from him. Not emotionally speaking, but I felt that his work on the film was a contribution to something that didn’t feel like it came out of a studio. This movie was distributed by Universal, and I am willing to bet based on “Get Out’s” success, they probably told Peele he can make whatever kind of movie he wants. I mean, what other guy would create a scene in a movie that is supposed to be scary, and the background music happened to be NWA’s “F*ck the Police?” And to my surprise, it somehow worked!

Let’s talk about Lupita N’yongo in this film. I’ve seen her in a number of films before including the newer “Star Wars” installments, “Black Panther,” the 2016 adaptation of “The Jungle Book,” and while she has proven herself to be a decent performer in those films, they weren’t exactly fantastic. This is especially true when you compare these performances to the one she gave in “12 Years a Slave.” It’s a movie I don’t often watch, but having watched it, it’s hard not to recognize the absolute talent of N’yongo. Her performance in “Us” honestly is more on par with the performance she gave in a movie like “12 Years A Slave.” That may be an overstatement, but to me, it’s true. Again, going back to imperfections, just because I think the performance was really good, didn’t mean I thought there was a lack of error. After all, there is one part in particular that I found to be rather awkward in terms of dialogue delivery, which occurs around the first third of the film. But overall, this is one of the better performances I personally have witnessed from N’yongo.

I also admired some of the scenes with Winston Duke’s character because he manages to pull off the role of that crazy, hyperactive father who always wants to, I dunno, live life. There’s a scene where he makes his family watch him on a boat, exclaiming for joy. He is willing to speak up against his opponents, and he just has this charm to him that again, goes back to Peele’s excellent writing ability. Without Peele as the nucleus operating everything, this could be a decent movie, but I think it got an uplift just because Peele was here.

And I will point out once again, despite the well deserved box office records, despite the positive reception, despite everything about this movie that can associate with lying in a pile of gold with no worries, the film is ultimately imperfect. While there is a lot to like, the one thing that drags this film down just a tad is the way the ending plays out. While there are definitely worse endings out there, it kind of left me feeling icky. Not grossed out, in fact, this is a horror film we’re talking about, so if I felt grossed out that might actually be a compliment. When I say I feel icky I mean that I feel like I have just caught a cold or something. I don’t want to get into spoilers, in fact, not only did this movie just come out, but if you haven’t seen it already, I highly recommend you do, especially on a big movie screen like I did. While a lot of the climax plays out in a way I actually admire (in fact, the best part of the score is in that portion of the film), the part I don’t particularly enjoy comes in around the tail end. If they changed that, not only would the ending be better, but I’d probably consider this film a master work. I have faith in Jordan Peele however, he seems to present himself as a showman, and if he continues to make horror films, or a film in another genre for that matter, chances are I’d be willing to check it out. In fact, one of the biggest praises I can give to “Us” is that it got yours truly, one who has yet to see “Get Out,” to become more curious as to giving that film a shot in the near future.

In the end, when I saw “Us,” I thought it was the movie for me. Possibly even for you, y’all, them, he, she, and we. Jordan Peele has demonstrated here that he is more than a comedian, kind of like John Krasinski successfully managed to do with “A Quiet Place.” And these aren’t exactly my words, I don’t know who I first heard them from, but they are still pretty relevant. I feel like a reason why these two are making good horror films has a lot to do with timing. As a couple of people who know how comedy tends to work, they seem to know that timing is everything when it comes to joke delivery. It’s almost like they’ve applied those same principles when it comes to scaring people. So… Seth Rogen? Stephen Merchant? Seth MacFarlane? Where’s your horror movie? I’m not asking for one, but seriously, where’s your horror movie? I’m going to give “Us” an 8/10. Thanks for reading this review! As someone who considers every attempt possible to keep up with the latest news provided in the film industry, I have been thinking about discussing one of the heaviest topics in said industry during recent days. As some of you know, Disney finally completed their 21st Century Fox acquisition, and part of me wants to come on here and discuss it simply because I am rather worried for the direction of the film industry in the near future. If I don’t have time to do that within the next week, I could talk about something else, because as mentioned, I just saw “Us” in RPX, which marked my first time in one of those auditoriums, so if I cannot talk about Disney and Fox, I have my backup topic. Stay tuned for whatever I do in the future regarding content, maybe it’ll be something completely different, I don’t know! Be sure to follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account if you haven’t already! I want to know, did you see “Us?” What did you think about it? Or, did you see “Get Out?” Which of the two films is superior? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019): The Dragon Capper

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“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” is marketed as the third and final chapter of the “How to Train Your Dragon” franchise. This film is directed by Dean DeBlois, a co-director behind the first film in the franchise who eventually went on to direct its follow-ups by himself. The film stars Jay Baruchel (Undeclared, Knocked Up), America Ferrera (Superstore, Ugly Betty), F. Murray Abraham (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Homeland), Cate Blanchett (Thor: Ragnarok, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring), and Craig Ferguson (The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Hot in Cleveland). This film continues with the characters audiences have come to know in recent years. As the movie begins, it is revealed that Toothless, Hiccup’s loyal dragon, is not the only one of his kind. After all, there is one other female dragon who meets up with Toothless and the two form a relationship with each other. Meanwhile, there is an antagonist by the name of Grimmel who is trying to find “The Hidden World.” Our heroes must find the same place as their island, Berk, is becoming overpopulated.

I cannot believe I am saying this. It took me over two full weeks to actually sit down and review this movie! I will admit that I managed to go out and see it on its opening weekend, where I went by myself in a crowded theater full of families and children. OK, you know what? It doesn’t mean I can’t be part of the target audience, because this animated franchise has not only proven to be watchable for older audiences, but its first installment came out when I was ten years old. And while my childhood may not have been devoted to this franchise as much as other animated franchises like “Shrek” or “Kung Fu Panda” or “Madagascar,” this was something I’d watch from time to time. Because it is a good movie. When it comes to the second installment, that is the one out of these three films that I remember the least. But I will point out that I have only seen that movie one time. Over these past couple of weeks, the same could be said for “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” and I would not mind seeing it again. If you saw my last review, specifically for “Fighting With My Family,” I called it the first lovable movie experience of the year. I might as well have been exaggerating, because “The Hidden World” FLOORED me. And I think a tremendous amount of kudos goes to the brilliant screenplay and direction done by Dean DeBlois. As I was watching this film, I could tell that there was no interference from DreamWorks, everything flowed as it was meant to, there were no efforts to rely on silly gags to make kids happy and adults cringe. This felt like a perfect ending to a solid trilogy. In fact, given how much that I wanted to watch this movie after seeing it once in the theater, I think it might be my favorite installment in the “How to Train Your Dragon” franchise.

This movie focuses heavily on the endlessly developed relationships throughout the franchise. Hiccup and his dad. Hiccup and Toothless. Hiccup and Astrid. OK, let’s stop before I get the hiccups… Nevertheless, this movie’s entire progression focuses on the connection between all of its layered and lovable characters. You have Hiccup who is the charismatic young man who loves his dragon. You have Toothless who is loyal to Hiccup as a practical pet. You have Astrid who is actually a pretty admirable love interest for Hiccup as well. In fact, this movie plays a bit on that love story because there’s constant jokes about the couple getting married. Speaking of love…

It is constantly seen in the film’s marketing that Toothless meets another dragon of his kind and the two manage to fall in love. This actually manages to deliver a couple of the film’s highlights. Aside from the relationship itself, there is a scene that shows Toothless trying to impress this dragon by writing in the sand and dancing, which is more like frolicking from my point of view. Regardless of what it was, I thought it was very heartfelt, and the opposite of cringeworthy. Although part of me imagines it is because I have grown up with this franchise. The first film released when I was ten, the second released when I was fourteen, and now we are here with the third releasing when I am nineteen. And I’ll be perfectly honest, this movie came out at the absolute perfect time for me.

For those of you who know me, there are no conspiracy theories behind the fact that I am currently in my first year of college. I still live at home, but I am out of the house for an extended periods of time. There is a moment of the movie that defines the meaning behind this entire movie, which is shown towards the end. Now let me tell you about my history at the movies. I have seen several films at the theater. I have been a movie-goer since 2006. I will go to see certain films multiple times. But when was the last time I ended up crying during a movie? There’s not one I can easily remember… But damn you, Dragon move. You had me in mantears. When your movie can get a grown man who likes big action, obnoxious rock music, and buffalo chicken that gives you the sweet taste of victory to release tears in a public auditorium. You have done your job. That is just a part of the absolutely phenomenal ending to cap off this trilogy. Let me just say something. “Toy Story 3” made me feel certain emotions towards the end. I was actually crying when I saw this. And the thing that made me really glad about this ending is that the crew behind this film was not lying, they actually set out to make a trilogy capper. I enjoy the “How to Train Your Dragon” movies, but it is made by a group of people catering to a certain market: Kids. As much as some kids would probably want to see another “How to Train Your Dragon” movie, I don’t see a purpose for another one. The crew behind this movie set out to conclude a story that has sort of defined a generation. It has also defined a decade for animation. Think about it, what other animated movie franchises got trilogies this decade? Well there’s “Cars,” which some would argue doesn’t even deserve to exist (haven’t seen the third one so I can’t say much about the trilogy as a a whole). “Despicable Me,” which a lot of people like, but I personally think minions are annoying. “Toy Story” got a trilogy, but that is soon becoming a quadrilogy so that ship has sailed. Plus, “Toy Story 3” came out very early in the decade so it is almost even questionable if that movie is relevant enough to make the trilogy define said decade. The only real debatable solid animated trilogy I can come up with is probably “Kung Fu Panda.” The first movie came out in 2008, it was fun. 2011 gave us the first sequel, a lot of people enjoyed that. And the same can be said for “Kung Fu Panda 3” in 2016. I admittedly have to give the one up to “Kung Fu Panda” over “How to Train Your Dragon,” but both franchises have created visionary works of art that are likely to stand the test of time.

My only real problems with the movie might be the cliche villain who just wanted to do villain things and one other notion that some people may agree upon.

SPOILER ALERT: “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World DOES NOT show you how to train your f*cking dragon. Hypocrites.

In the end, “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” is f*cking satisfying. It is a film that shows the inconsistency of connection between a parent and child as they age. It shows what people will do for friends, family, and loved ones. And that animation… Quite beautiful if you ask me! Also, THAT F*CKING ENDING. I have seen a lot of great endings this decade. “Interstellar,” “Rogue One,” “Colossal,” “Blade Runner 2049,” “Inception,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Kubo and the Two Strings,” “Grand Piano,” “Toy Story 3” as I recently mentioned. This movie’s ending is an a guaranteed position to compete with these endings for best ending of the 2010s cause holy crap! I will say, if you watched “How to Train Your Dragon” as a kid and are starting to think you are getting too old for animation, give this movie a chance, it is absolutely worth it. If you are an adult who wants a babysitter to take the kids to see this movie that way you can have a night out, I wouldn’t say no, but don’t shy away from this film entirely. It will make you feel something, I guarantee it. And I am definitely feeling something right now, because I am going to give “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” a 10/10! This is the first 10/10 of the year, and damn this movie deserves it! To me, this is the perfect way to describe what it is like to lose someone you love. It is an absolute A+. Thanks for reading this review! Guess what guys? The latest controversy in the comic book movie world has arrived! For those of you who don’t understand, here’s Layman’s terms. “Captain Marvel” is out in theaters! No, not “Shazam,” the other one. Can’t wait for “Shazam” by the way. I will actually be away in California because it is Spring Break so I’m not sure exactly how my schedule will pan out. However should I get a chance to watch the film in the state, I will most certainly take it. There are certain movies that I define as “work” for Scene Before, and blockbuster comic book movies are part of said category. I just gotta do what I gotta do. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with a WordPress account or email so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite “How to Train Your Dragon” movie? 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!