Sonic the Hedgehog (2020): Goes Fast, Does Not Crash

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“Sonic the Hedgehog” is the feature-length debut of director Jeff Fowler and stars Ben Schwartz (DuckTales, Parks and Recreation), James Marsden (Westworld, X-Men), Jim Carrey (Batman Forever, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective), and Tika Sumpter (One Life to Live, Ride Along). This movie is based on the hit SEGA video game franchise of the same name, which has officially become one of the biggest titles in the industry. The film follows Sonic, who is sent to Earth from his home world, and eventually adapts to his current lifestyle. But when one thing leads to another, he needs to go to San Francisco all the while keeping the evil Dr. Robotnik from conquering the universe. So Sonic teams up with Tom Wachowski, AKA “Donut Lord,” in order to get to his destination.

I have never dove deep into the realm of “Sonic the Hedgehog.” I know about the games and its characters, but I have barely played them. Although, if “Super Smash Bros.” counts, I have played a lot of that. But I do know a bit about the film’s source material. Sonic is a witty, upbeat character that likes to go fast, because let’s face it. If he were slow, this movie might go on longer than “The Irishman.” But one I thing I think many people going into this movie knew about waaas…

This.

This f*cking face right here graced the Internet with all the memes possible! People thought it looked creepy, revolting, and an insult to humanity! Now I’m going to be completely honest with you. I do not create content to please people, I create it to enforce my personal asshat opinions. Speaking of asshat opinions, I did not think the original design was all that bad. Now, is it great? Maybe not. But it’s not like it is the end of the world! The reality is that this is a live-action movie, and you have this cartoony character in the middle of all of it. There are a number of possibilities they could have gone with. Hell, I would have been fine if they went down the “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” route and made Sonic 2D. Would it have been weird? Sure! But again, this is an over the top animated hedgehog! I will say when I saw the first trailer, I was not as skeptical about the film as most people. It’s just a design. There have been plenty of good movies with lackluster visual effects. Look at “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” they CGIed Tarkin’s face, and it was choppy at times, but it didn’t take me out of the movie. In fact that movie’s GREAT. And say what you want about removing Henry Cavill’s mustache in “Justice League,” I enjoyed the movie. I thought it was fun. It felt rushed, it sorta clashed in tones, but it was still a fun ride.

Now to be fair, it is refreshing to have a film’s crew and the parties alongside them to respond to the fan backlash, because let’s face it. Fans can be rowdy. And the newer design that unfortunately shut down the visual effects company who worked on it, paid off. For putting in the effort and doing whatever’s possible to make the best movie you can, thank you. Movies are hard to make, I get it.

To be honest though, this does bring up something very important. I saw the first trailer and ended up feeling somewhat confident that this movie COULD work. It had the essentials for a solid story of its kind. Then I saw the second trailer with the design. Sonic looked dope, but the movie itself looked like s*it. There’s a saying that looks aren’t everything, and that is the truth about the second “Sonic the Hedgehog” trailer. A lot of comedy gags looked cheesy and weird, Sonic almost sounded kind of annoying, and it kind of had a similar vibe to “The Smurfs.” I mean what do you expect when you have a blue, animated creature from the middle of nowhere transporting themselves to our planet, uniting with a newfound human acquaintance, and unraveling a plot that affects both sides?

Cannot believe I’m saying this. Sonic freaking rocks! In fact, DARE I SAY IT. I want a sequel! This is the best video game-based film I have seen to date. Granted, I am missing a couple core titles like “Mortal Kombat” and “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” but still, this is the best video game movie I have ever seen not counting specific partially unrelated titles like “Tron,” “Ready Player One,” or “Wreck-it Ralph,” a movie which Sonic actually happened to be in.

Is it the best movie I have ever seen? Absolutely not. It doesn’t even come close, but it has pretty much what it needs to fulfill the requirements of a film of its kind. This film is for kids, there is no hiding that. But the thing I noticed is that for the most part, it doesn’t feel like it is treating kids like morons. Granted, it is not Pixar quality, but it doesn’t spend every other minute trying to make Sonic fart in Dr. Robotnik’s face. This movie has some nice nods to Sonic’s power, specifically super speed. There’s an occurrence where Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” is playing, Sonic has a comic book collection and pretty much every copy in said collection is from “The Flash,” and they even make a joke about “The Fast and the Furious.” More speed jokes, less fart jokes, I know I’m happy! My one complaint here though is that the baseball scene that is shown in the trailers is a little far-fetched, but it’s not a terrible scene, so I can kind of live with it.

Let’s be real, the Sonic character in this film is pretty much what I would want him to be. He is upbeat, he is lively, he is wild, he is fast, he is Sonic. Part of me thought that his constant hyperactivity would be a detractor of the film, and I will say that there are a couple moments where that does not help the product. There’s a moment in the trailer that is just as flat in the movie as it is there, specifically where Sonic and his newfound human acquaintance, Tom Wachowski, are passing by a sign that is advertising the world’s largest rubber band ball. It’s gags like that which don’t work. But the Sonic character is a ball of fun. He’s cute, but occasionally not cuddly. He’s almost one-dimensional, but one thing I will say about that is that the recent games from what I have seen, pretty much portray Sonic in a similar manner. He feels like a brother somebody has and they’re often annoyed by, but everyone else who knows the guy loves this brother. Sonic is my annoying brother, and I love him. Great job, Ben Schwartz!

Speaking of annoyance, Sonic is definitely annoying somebody, and that somebody is the recently mentioned Tom Wachowski who is wonderfully played by James Marsden. James Marsden is the main human character in the film, he is a cop in rural Montana, and the movie partially focuses on Wachowski’s acceptance to the police department in San Francisco, California. This partially plays into the hedgehog’s overall story, where they have to travel to San Francisco to avoid a deadly situation. The chemistry between the two here is surprisingly decent, I was never turned off. I also enjoyed his cop sideplot a little bit, but going back to unfunny jokes, there was one joke that I was able to predict pretty much what was happening right off the bat. Granted, if a kid sees it, it might be pretty funny, but not for me. I won’t go much into it, but it involves a tiny donut. Although, Tom Wachowski does earn a rather slick nickname from Sonic, specifically “Donut Lord.” Technically speaking that’s wrong, Homer Simpson is the REAL donut lord, but it is nevertheless a cool nickname.

But let’s talk about the best character in this movie, and I think a lot of people will agree with me on this, Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik. When I saw the first trailer for this film, Robotnik almost felt like a flat, beyond cartoony, madman. Having seen the film, just remove the word flat, and you get Robotnik. I watched that recently mentioned trailer thinking Robotnik could be the worst character in this movie, turns out he is probably one of the best villains I have seen in a film made for children and families! Seriously! Carrey’s portrayal is incredibly zany and electric! And this partially has to do with how well written Robotnik is. He has the stereotypical villain mindset where he thinks he is better than anybody else, but that’s what makes him so great. There’s a moment where he delivers a line to another character having to do with him being the smartest man in the world, therefore everybody else is stupid. It is one of the best executed villain lines I have ever seen! Robotnik is such a great over the top villain that he has a lightshow dance party in his lab as he does his evil deeds. There’s a screen that allows him to simulate getting his head chopped off by a dinosaur! It’s bonkers! This feels like something Robotnik would do every day after smoking a couple joints! Robotnik had the finest lines, he was in on the best jokes, and as of right now, I don’t know if anybody else could play him.

HOW AM I– WHAT IS HAPPENING?! This was supposed to suck!

Now, this movie is a surprise if there ever was one. It’s a video game movie, meaning that it is filed under a kind of movie that does not usually do well critically or financially. Time will tell how much of a financial success “Sonic the Hedgehog” will be, but I did not expect so much positivity with this film. It sort of reminds me of what people must have thought before seeing “The LEGO Movie.” But, I will admit, unlike “The LEGO Movie,” “Sonic” is not flawless.

I’m pretty sure some of you reading this know that one of the staples of filmmaking is product placement. Some movies like to fill themselves up to the brim with an effort to make commercials within the film. The “Transformers” movies are an obvious example. 2017’s “Power Rangers” wanted to remind its audience that when they think “Power Rangers,” they also think Krispy Kreme! You also have movies like “Uncle Drew” that is literally produced by Pepsi! Honestly, product placement is one of the most annoying necessities in a film. When it’s obvious, it is sometimes cringeworthy. When it’s bloated, it’s embarrassing. The reality is that I came to watch a movie, not a commercial. If I wanted commercials, I’d just watch the Super Bowl.

But hey! After watching “Sonic the Hedgehog,” why don’t you take your family to Olive Garden and get a taste of their neverending pasta bowl? IT NEVER ENDS! Maybe afterwards, you guys can look at houses on Zillow and never buy anything because your kids will miss their friends in school! Seriously! There’s like, two or three mentions of Olive Garden in this film at different times! And each time feels as commercialized as the next. I remember seeing “Blockers” a couple years ago where the main girls are making a sex pact and they reference Olive Garden, say what you want about that in terms of how obvious it is that such a mention is there to be product placement, it nevertheless feels more natural than what this movie provides!

Also, as well done as the movie is from a visual perspective, even if a little extra complaining was needed to put in more effort, there are a couple of scenes in the film where I am looking at the laser sensors from Robotnik’s minion machines where they did come off a little more cartoon-like than I would have preferred. It could have been worse, but still. There are also a couple of moments where the effects looked a little TOO GOOD, as if they were too clean and glossy. Maybe it’s just me, but a LITTLE grit could have gone a long way.

But this does not take away from “Sonic the Hedgehog’s” positives. It pays tribute to the games, while also realizing that in order to stand out, it needs to be its own thing. The performances are good and fit the characters well. Robotnik is one of the most well-written villains I have ever seen, at least in a movie for families. There is a chase towards the end that is up there with some of my favorites I have seen on screen. I am not going to go into much detail, but one more notion I want to provide about “Sonic the Hedgehog,” I THINK the writers behind “Sonic the Hedgehog” took a moment to make fun of alternate video icon, “Super Mario,” OR… THEY TEASED A VIDEO GAME CINEMATIC UNIVERSE. Overall, this kind of makes sense, Mario has crossed over with Sonic in the past, Nintendo has put Sonic in a number of games also featuring Mario characters like “Super Smash Brothers” and “Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games.” Why not bring that crossover to the realm of film? As far as I know, that might not be happening because Universal and Illumination are seemingly working on an animated “Super Mario” film and that would probably interfere with “Sonic the Hedgehog’s” universe, because it is live-action. Plus, “Sonic the Hedgehog” is under the Paramount name, so the two characters are probably under exclusive maintenance from different studios. But, you never know! Disney owns Marvel and yet they’re letting Sony collaborate with them on “Spider-Man.” Plus, Universal also has the Hulk, and yet he’s been in several of Disney’s MCU films. Anything’s possible in the money-grabbing, magical, bonkers wonderland of Hollywood! Don’t take this as news, the movie has been out for two weeks and I am not confirming anything about this.

In the end, “Sonic the Hedgehog” is fast, vast, and an utter blast! This feels like a movie that if I were a kid, it would get me more into movies, potentially even into how they’re made. Maybe it would even get me into gaming a little bit more if I were not already into that. Then again, what young boy doesn’t like a good video game? Depending on how 2020 pans out, “Sonic the Hedgehog” is highly unlikely to reach the top 10 movies of the year for me, but for now, it is easily one I’d go back and watch. While this does not say much, “Sonic the Hedgehog” is the best video game movie I have seen in my life. The competition against it is not really that stiff, but it’s the truth! With that being said, I’m going to give “Sonic the Hedgehog” a 7/10!

Thanks for reading this review! My next review I am going to be doing is for the all-new film based on truTV’s biggest show currently on the air, “Impractical Jokers: The Movie.” I love the “Impractical Jokers” TV show, so naturally I just had to check this movie out and see what it is all about. Does the show translate well to film? You’ll find out in my review! I just want to take an opportunity to wish everyone who was born on Leap Year Day a very happy birthday! It must feel great next year, for those of you who have just turned 5, to finally drink at the legal age of 5 and a fourth! In other words, happy birthday on this rare occurrence of a day! Happy Leap Year! If you want to follow Scene Before and see more great content, do so using an email or WordPress account! If you want to go all the way and support Mark Zuckerberg’s mission for social media domination, check out my Facebook page and give it a like! I want to know, did you see “Sonic the Hedgehog?” What did you think about it? Or, have you played any “Sonic” games? What was that like for you? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Hollywood, We Need to Talk About Film “Rereleases” and “Alternate Cuts”

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Remember how “Avengers: Endgame” became the biggest film in history? Well, some may argue that it couldn’t have gotten to that point without one thing, putting a new version of the film in theaters! I remember back in June we were getting advertisements for the upcoming “Avengers: Endgame” rerelease, signifying there would be new content to witness. Granted, I already knew what audiences were in for. It’s the exact same movie, but with end credits content that audiences didn’t get to see originally. I still roll my eyes to this day that the marketing team decided to market this as a rerelease to begin with because THE FILM WAS STILL IN THEATERS BEFORE THIS HAPPENED! I figured this would be a one time thing. Granted, “Avatar” did a rerelease back in the day with extended content, but for one thing, that was a different version of the film, and it was already out on DVD.

I was able to personally let “Endgame” slide. After all, it ended up being the king of the box office as an effect. But then came August, and apparently “Spider-Man: Far From Home” was joining the party on this!

Now, I will give some credit to “Spider-Man: Far From Home” in regards to their actions during this rerelease game plan. Why? Because they at least called it the “extended cut.” This cut featured additional footage that wasn’t seen when this film originally came out, so ultimately, this wasn’t a “Spider-Man 2,” it was a “Spider-Man 2.1.”

Wait a minute…

Coincidentally, on the same weekend “Spider-Man: Far From Home” came out with its alternate cut, another movie which, believe it or not, came out at the same time as Spidey’s original cut, “Midsommar,” was doing the same thing. “Midsommar” came out with what was marketed as the “Director’s Cut.” This different cut included extended and new scenes.

I will point out, for those who are not in the know, these “rereleases” and “alternate editions” are not a new thing. “Blade Runner” has had multiple releases in various forms including “The Director’s Cut” and “The Final Cut.” The “Lord of the Rings” franchise, including installments of “The Hobbit,” would eventually release an “extended edition” on DVD of each film. And “Star Wars” has been putting out redos of the original trilogy in 1997, 2004, and 2011.

But here’s the difference, everyone behind these movies are not putting these out only a couple of months after they originally went into theaters! I don’t know how the average moviegoer feels about this, but if I had to judge from my perspective, it sort of is beginning to remind me of a path that the video game industry seems to follow. Back in the day, you would pay full price for a game, and you get the entire game. Nowadays if you typically want to buy a video game, you have to not only pay $60 if it is a big name title, but on top of that, you have all these additional downloads, in-game currencies, packs, those sorts of things! I remember I would play a lot of NBA 2K back in the day, everything I needed was included! Now, if you want the good stuff, you might as well sell your soul! This is why I refuse to buy what seems to be a pay to win-oriented NBA 2K20! If I wanted to gamble, I’d go to Vegas for crying out loud!

Movie tickets are not as expensive as video games (although if you are buying popcorn and bringing a family along, I might take that back), but it is still not cheap. The average price of a movie ticket in 2019 is $9.01, which as far as my area is concerned, is actually kind of a bargain. Where I live, specifically eastern Massachusetts, I’m usually paying somewhere in the double digits for one ticket each time I go see a movie. It could be worse, but it is certainly something that can warrant a slight complaint.

I don’t mind seeing the same movie twice in the theater. I’ve done that with a number of a titles throughout my life because a lot of them happened to be very good and perhaps worth a rewatch. But it never felt like in any of those scenarios that the studio was robbing me. I was seeing the exact same film, just at a different time.

I guess there is a curiosity factor that can come out of an extended cut or something like that. What if there’s a scene that makes the movie better? But at the same time, an extended cut of “Far From Home” feels cheap because I just saw the original.

I am not worried about this right now, but I honestly think this has the potential of becoming the next big trend in moviegoing. Audiences see a movie, and since Hollywood is running out of ideas, someone thinks, “Let’s show the same thing two months later!” Now if this is a way for the director to get out a version that they would have preferred releasing as opposed to the original, then I can approve. However, why couldn’t we have just seen that version in the first place? As a moviegoer, I want to see the next new thing as opposed to seeing studios perhaps making me obligated to see their product again because “it’s my duty.”

I just don’t want to see a future where all of our movies lose their individuality. It seems kind of pointless and just an excuse to make more money. Even if these extended editions do end up somehow being better than their original counterparts, it manages to give me this vibe that certain movies are overstaying their welcome. Who knows? Maybe this will simply be a 2019 fad that will wash away over time, but I am hoping for the sake of individuality, not to mention moviegoers’ wallets, that we don’t give into Hollywood studios putting out a bunch of changed products. And you know what? Let me just put it this way…

I make a bunch of movie reviews for Scene Before. One of them by the end of the year is inevitably going to be for “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” Let’s say I see that movie, review it, and give my thoughts on it. How would you feel? After wasting about 5-10 minutes of reading that, that I announce, “Hold your horses! Stay tuned for this February where I release the EXTENDED EDITION of this review!” Granted, if I went ahead and made a spoiler talk that is one thing, because I’d intentionally make the review filled with spoilers, but what if I came out with the exact same wording, phrases, and paragraph structures as I did in that original review, but I sprinkle tiny new bits and pieces? Wouldn’t you feel like I snatched your dignity and thrown it out the window?

So please, Hollywood… Stop grinding my gears.

Thanks for reading this post! This weekend is the release of “IT: Chapter Two.” As for whether or not I’m seeing it, that will be up for debate. And I just want to let everyone know that next week I’ll be heading back to college for the fall semester, so if you see me posting a tad less than usual, that could be a reason why. However, this all depends on the workload, so we’ll see what happens. I am not planning on losing my commitment to Scene Before, so I will do my best to stick to doing at least one post a week. I will do my best to cover topics that stand out and focus on big or important movies coming out. After all, …Oscar season is upon us. 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, what are your thoughts on these alternate editions of films? Or, have you seen the recently put out versions of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” or “Midsommar?” Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019): Pokémon GO To the Movies

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“Pokémon Detective Pikachu” is directed by Rob Letterman (Monsters vs. Aliens, Shark Tale) and stars Ryan Reynolds (The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Deadpool), Justice Smith (Paper Towns, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom), Kathryn Newton (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Blockers), Suki Waterhouse (Assassination Nation, The Bad Batch), Omar Chaparro (How to Be a Latin Lover, Show Dogs), Chris Geere (You’re the Worst, Modern Family), Ken Watanabe (Inception, The Last Samurai), and Bill Nighy (Norm of the North, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel). This film is based on the video game of the same name and is about a guy who teams up with a Pikachu to solve a mystery involving said guy’s father.

For those of you who don’t know, I really do like video games. In fact, when it comes to video games, if I were to make movies of my own, I’d base them on various video games. Granted, there is a part of me that thinks this vision would ultimately backfire because let’s face it. Video game movies suck. They just do. Even if they prove to be faithful to the source material like in “Warcraft,” it might not be something a person like me would want to watch on a Friday night. In fact, my least favorite movie of all time is based on a video game, specifically “Super Mario Bros..” Naturally, I went into this movie hoping for something. Not necessarily for the best movie ever. In fact, for many movies, those expectations are hard to live up to. I was just hoping that we would see an above average video game movie. Granted, last year’s “Tomb Raider” was rather solid in some places, but the video game movie industry/genre had some ways to go before its first kick-ass project. Granted, I have yet to see various highlights in the industry such as “Mortal Kombat,” “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” and “Silent Hill.” Much like the type of movie itself, I guess I have some ways to go. But I can confirm that after seeing “Pokémon Detective Pikachu,” it was… alright. The genre didn’t really… level up… if you know what I mean.

I have been exposed to various opinions and reviews prior to going to this movie. And a lot of what is being said about this movie, I can agree with. This is a good movie for “Pokémon fans.” It goes into strategies that players may come across in their mind as they play the games, there are references that I imagine will fly over some non-gamers’ heads, but it is not to the point of utter cringe, and all of the CGI Pokémon look very appealing. They have a slightly unrealistic look to them, but that actually works for a movie like this. It’s fantasy-like, they’re not supposed to look like they’re a creature out of a live-action Disney film containing bunches of animals. They’re freaking Pokémon. The games don’t try to present them as realistic, and I thought the style that I have seen in the games made a good transition to their style on film. Although at the same time, this comes from a guy who usually doesn’t play “Pokémon” titles. I never owned a single game in the franchise, and while I did download “Pokémon GO” on my phone when it first came out, I didn’t even use it. I eventually deleted the app and it let it rest for all of eternity. But through various means such as the Internet and friends, I have been exposed to gameplay of various titles.

I have played all of the “Super Smash Bros.” games though! So there is that! *Mumbling* By the way, if you guys have yet to buy a Nintendo Switch, just buy it for “Super Smash Bros.: Ultimate” because it is a freaking masterpiece of a game that I will recommend to everyone and I think you will become a better person in life just for picking up your controller and going to town on it. Cancel all your Friday night plans and drop hundreds of dollars at GameStop just to prepare for a masterpiece of a lifetime. Just do it.

Anyway, back to the review. Let’s talk about this movie’s story. It’s weird. I can buy a city where mankind and Pokémon are equals. I can buy all of the insane creatures this film contains. I can buy a lot of this film’s absurdity. You know what I can also buy? The fact that I didn’t really care about too many characters! When it comes to the Pokémon, they’re fine. I liked pretty much all of them. Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu was a delight. Although at the same time, Reynolds becomes problematic, which is sort of a collision with a perk. As many moviegoers know, Ryan Reynolds is Deadpool. But when I see him as Pikachu, I’m almost comparing the character in my head as a more kid friendly version of Deadpool. Granted, there’s not as much meta humor that Reynolds has to deliver in terms of dialogue, but there’s still plenty of one-liners and funny lines that he manages to utter.

As for the main human in the movie, Tim Goodman, he is kind of stale. A lot of storytelling involving his character happens in the first few minutes of the film, including the mystery of his father, and I ended up not really caring for him. It’s sort of like where I was watching the “Transformers” films where I don’t entirely care about Marky Mark and (insert bangable chick’s name here) and I am mainly watching for the action and everything about the Transformers. I’ll slightly defend Sam Witwicky, partially out of probable bias through nostalgic roots, but still. The movie is called “Transformers,” much like this movie we are talking about has “Pokémon” and yet they kind of make it mainly about the human characters. Granted, I think this movie does a much better job at making it more about Pokémon at various points compared some of Michael Bay’s “Transformers” installments, but this is still an issue that is worth bringing up.

And much like “Transformers,” there is of course… a girl. Granted, they don’t sexualize her, which for a movie like this, wouldn’t have worked in the first place. It’s a movie with a family demographic partially in mind, the target audiences of “Pokémon Detective Pikachu” are not going to their local AMC to watch a porn shoot. That girl by the way is Lucy Stevens played by Kathryn Newton, who I think is a good actress. And she plays her role well in this film. I can’t see anyone else playing her. Too bad the human characters in general just don’t have the same charm as some of the Pokémon. I’m not saying I hated her character, but I had almost no reason to care about her. Although during the climax, I had a reason, but I won’t go into it.

Also, before we get into the “super effective” verdict, I would like to just point out something. Without spoiling the ending, there’s a part of it that kind of took me out of the movie. Remember how I talked about how much I can buy in this film? This ending’s too expensive for me to buy! Granted, the last scene of the film is pretty cool, because it features a particular actor (whose name I won’t reveal), but again, I would prefer savoring the flavor as opposed to spilling milk all over the floor.

In the end, while visually appealing to the point that I can call this movie “Blade Runner” meets “Pokémon,” it fails to impress on all necessary levels. There are various jokes and scenes that fell flat. I started forgetting about some elements of the movie about 24 hours after I saw it. And while this is definitely a serviceable movie for fans that I imagine even non-fans can enjoy, it did not have the oomph factor for me. For me, this is almost a good background noise movie in case there’s nothing else on TV and I am, say, writing a movie review like a moron who has nothing better to do all day. It’s kind of like “The Amazing Spider-Man.” It has great writing that fans and non-fans can latch onto, but it’s missing something. There are many positive factors behind “Pokémon Detective Pikachu,” but it does not change the fact that I would probably be fine if I had to go the rest of my life without needing to watch it again. I’m going to give “Pokémon Detective Pikachu” a 5/10.

Thanks for reading this review! This weekend is the release of “John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum,” one of my most highly anticipated movies of the year. I have not gone to any advance screenings of the film, I tried getting into one, but it was full once I checked. And as for my chances of seeing the film on opening weekend? Forget about it. My dad, who probably REALLY wants to see the movie, is busy this weekend. I considered going opening Thursday, but that is the night of the series finale for “The Big Bang Theory,” so I already have plans. Plus, I am going away to Rhode Island for a night on Sunday, and while there are movie theaters in my area, I doubt that will be part of my getaway activities. So the earliest I will see the movie might be Tuesday or Wednesday. As long as I can get together with my father, I can make it happen. But don’t worry, that review is coming. 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 “Pokémon Detective Pikachu?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Pokémon? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Rhode Island Comic Con 2018 Review/Haul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://muckychris.patternbyetsy.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New York Comic Con 2018 Review/Haul

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It’s time to go over perhaps not just one of the biggest events I’ve attended all year, not just one of the biggest events I attended ever, but one of the biggest THINGS I’ve ever attended. A couple weeks ago I’ve been given the absolute privilege to go to New York Comic Con. A friend of mine who I have known for a few years decided to go all out for a graduation gift and give me the most badass thing ever. Given this post, you might be able to guess I got Comic-Con tickets. This is my first time at New York Comic Con, and my second time in New York throughout my life. My tickets were for Friday and Sunday, two out of four days the convention goes on for. As far as my Saturday went, I happened to go around New York City with my mother, but that’s irrelevant here. If you want my thoughts on that, it was fun, end of story. Now let’s focus on New York Comic Con.

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New York Comic Con is a yearly event held in New York, NY’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. As far as attendees go, these conventions usually get somewhere in the six digit range. According to Wikipedia, over 180,000 people attended this very convention in 2016. This year, many celebrities were present from ranges in entertainment, literature, gaming, and comics. The show’s basement has an ENORMOUS Artist Alley, but let me make it clear, I didn’t investigate any further into it. I also didn’t go to any panels, but there were some I would have gone to if I had the time or greater motivation. One was the “Mortal Engines” panel, but I couldn’t get in because once it started, I actually wasn’t in the convention center yet. However throughout my visit I did a bunch of other things that were definitely enjoyable. There is so much to go over when it comes to what New York Comic Con has that it is so easy to say that I am not gonna be able to hit all of it. But all of the highlights I did hit, I’ll document them here. Let’s start this off by going over some purchases.

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This first section relates heavily to what I do here at Scene Before. These con posts, I just do them as a hobby. I don’t get invited to cons. It would be nice if I had a chance to promote this site there at some booth or something though. As most of my followers probably already know, my main dedication goes toward movie reviewing. This is probably the con that I’ve gone to that relates closest to movies than any other. I say that because while some cons I go to I am well aware that they have those movies and TV shows that you can’t really buy in other stores (this con has that too), there is one space in this con that is actually a movie store, and that is FYE. I will say though, this is not my first time seeing an FYE at a con. At Rhode Island Comic Con, FYE actually happened to be present every year I went.

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In fact in 2016, I actually managed to buy a piece of wall art from there which had Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman on it. I got it signed the next day for very low price of $125. That is $15 cheaper than a professional photo op alongside her.

Although when I went to that FYE, movies were not a priority. Sure, last year I remember seeing a bunch of Japanese anime-related film material. Although I usually don’t seek out anime. This year at New York Comic Con, they decided to show off some Funko Pop Vinyls, including exclusives from FYE and believe it or not, San Diego Comic Con. They also had their exclusive food such as 10th Anniversary MCU cereal, Breaking Bad blue meth, and because the game apparently is still relevant enough to be a thing, Five Nights At Freddy’s cereal. I didn’t buy any food however. Instead, I did buy a few movies. One of the exclusive steelbooks they had happened to be an early purchase of mine on Friday, which was the “Iron Giant” steelbook. I have seen “The Iron Giant” before on TV, however I have never owned it. It’s a really good movie and definitely showcases the absolute talent of director Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol). Speaking of exclusive steelbooks, I went back on Sunday and they still had plenty of steelbooks to choose from. They had a bunch of horror related ones, after all it is October, so I went in and got a couple. I picked up the FYE exclusive of John Carpenter’s “Halloween,” which I already watched, and it is pretty much like the 35th anniversary edition. They do have a 4K edition of the movie which came out recently around the same time as this copy did. I never got that, but I went to Best Buy the day after getting home from New York and they had it for a cheaper price. Wah. I also picked up “Halloween II,” more specifically, the Scream Factory steelbook for it. This is also my second possession from Scream Factory. My other Scream Factory product by the way is a steelbook copy of “They Live,” which I purchased a matter of months before I attended this event. Much like “They Live,” this steelbook has only 10,000 copies. It includes the theatrical cut and the TV cut. The TV cut has additional footage which has not been seen in the theatrical cut.

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Another purchase at FYE was an exclusive Funko, specifically one of Iron Man in “Avengers: Infinity War.” They had a decent selection of Funkos lined up, but Iron Man was the way to go for me. After all, when it comes to superheroes, “Iron Man” is easily up there as one of my all time favorites, Robert Downey Jr does a great job as the character and his screen presence is nothing short of a crowd pleaser. Although I’m surprised they didn’t make the label “Iron Man (Unmasked)” or “Iron Man/Tony Stark” because you can see his face. And like most of my other Pops, it’s still in the box. Speaking of which, I also happened to buy a Pop protector case. No, I am not using it for this Pop, because when I came home from the con, I went to the mall and stopped inside Thinkgeek. They had an E3 exclusive (also available in GameStop stores) of King Dice from the video game “Cuphead.” As of now, that is inside the protection case. For those of you who want to know more information about this FYE, I will have you know that the receipt actually lists the information for an actual FYE store out there. Similar to how at Rhode Island Comic Con I bought an item there and it tells me that the store happened to be from the Auburn Mall in Auburn, MA. This item is actually from the FYE at Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, NY. This mall is located on Long Island and is owned by Simon.

Speaking of places you can get movies, I actually happened to come upon a stand which I happened to recognize. It’s not a store, and it’s not for a particular person either. Instead, it was for a motion picture studio by the name of Magnet. For those of you who don’t know, Magnet Releasing is actually associated Magnolia Pictures, a studio founded in 2001. Magnet believe it or not is a name that is often associated with Magnolia’s genre and foreign films. I bought two movies at the stand, specifically “Marrowbone” and “RBG.” “Marrowbone,” or as it is referred to on IMDb, “The Secret of Marrowbone,” is about a man and three younger siblings who are cursed in a manor which they live. “RBG” is a documentary on the life of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. So one movie is about something that is haunting a house and the other is basically about a woman you can basically picture as a spirit in said haunted house.

I mean, just look at her! That open mouth will contribute to haunting your nightmares!

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Also, because I picked up two films, I got a free t-shirt that came with them. Yippee! As you can see, it has the Magnolia Pictures logo on a field of black. That was also the only t-shirt I picked up at the con. However I almost went ahead and picked up a New York Comic Con shirt because I feel like out of all the cons I’ve gone to in my life, this is the one that I would most likely buy a self-promoting t-shirt from. Not everybody wants to promote the fact that they went to Terrificon. Not many people have even heard of Terrificon! I’m not bashing against Terrificon, I went this year and I had more fun than I once expected to. By the way, if you haven’t thought about it already, go to Terrificon next year.

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My next purchase to go over is a Funko Pop Vinyl which happens to be retired. About a month I went into the New England-based nerd culture store Newbury Comics, they had a 25% off sale going around the store. I took heavy advantage of that. One of the purchases I made there was a Pac-Man Pop. Appropriately, when I saw that a place had a Pop for Ms. Pac-Man, I was intrigued. That place by the way was called Shorething Collectibles, which is based in Pennsylvania. They are a family owned business that sells Funko Pops, plush toys, and home goods.

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Moving onto another purchase I made, there was this one place that went by the name of Omakase Images. They can be found online at http://omakase-ltd.squarespace.com/, and they specialize in nerdy art with a slightly religious touch. My purchase happened to be a magnet that says “SAINT NEIL: THE INQUIRING.” As you can see in the picture above, it shows Neil DeGrasse Tyson, which I think is just plain cool because it kind of suggests that science and religion have come together. Two ideas that never seem to mesh together, happen to be completing a double-piece puzzle.

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That’s not all the purchases I’ve made. After all, I have gotten a couple autographs, which I will get to. Although one of the biggest praises I can give to New York Comic Con is how they handled crowd control. Given the size and popularity of the convention. The crowd control here is executed BRILLIANTLY. I don’t know exactly what went into everyone’s mind. But I arrived at the convention at sometime around 9:45 AM on Sunday. According to my badge, the doors didn’t open until 10 AM. I still was able to avoid a huge line through the security check. Keep in mind, the security gates are located outside, not too far from where you can enter the convention center. Part of me is willing to bet that maybe there’s something I am unaware of when it comes to this convention that I am truly missing. Although this convention actually manages to have some of it’s cool stuff outside. There’s an “American Gods” diner, some promotional stuff for shows like “Outlander” and “The Good Place.” There was some fun to be had outside. Maybe everyone lined up very early and were let in at 9 AM. Perhaps they all got to stay outside, because that is totally something nerds very often do. Either that or people with VIP tickets were scheduled to go in early and the staff didn’t care if anybody else walked in. It’s New York Comic Con! It’s a party! Some of you might not afford to go next year so let’s make this one count! Overall, it’s a pretty effective use of space and it gives you something to do when you want some breaths of fresh air.

Speaking of promotions, I also took a picture in front of a car promoting “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. I will say something though regarding my picture. It was not taken on any personal camera of mine. It was taken on a camera already set up at the event. Unfortunately, I cannot find the picture of me alongside the vehicle. I will admit I got badges from a friend, and with that in mind, I was willing to imagine that they were linked to one of our emails. As far as I know, it has no link to mine (I checked, even in spam), I asked my friend if they had it just in case, but there was no sign of it. Aw, well. It’s just a picture. Experiencing is what counts.

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And this is the one thing that I can imagine is a negative to New York Comic Con. I didn’t really mind this, but I can imagine someone coming here, ready to have a good time, and all of a sudden, they are overwhelmed with one bit of promotional material after the other. All of the convention you can see stuff for Capcom, Marvel, Disney, Funko, and Starz. The badges that I had on me were actually advertising AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” There’s even a Syfy Wire Fan Lounge and a Syfy Wire Live show! It kind of makes sense when you think about it because this convention is organized by ReedPop, which organizes PAX, which I’ve been to. There’s video game advertising up the wazoo. Everybody there is just trying to show off their latest and greatest video game whether your name is Nintendo, Bethesda, Square Enix, or Blizzard. This all kind of reminded me of one convention my friend went to in Las Vegas, specifically the one that celebrated “Star Trek’s” 50th anniversary. My friend explained that she went and was just comparing it to Dragon Con and how she feels that Dragon Con caters more to fans whereas the “Star Trek” convention she went to was more of an advertising effort. New York Comic Con in my personal opinion takes every chance it gets to advertise something, but it also simultaneously keeps everything in balance by providing a good show for the fans. In fact, I’d say it was a wise choice for Syfy to advertise at this event given how they often use the slogan “It’s a fan thing.”

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Although, one of my favorite promotions in the entire con has to be for Amazon’s upcoming show “The Boys.” This was one of the first things I saw once I walked inside the convention center. F*cking brilliant.

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One of my favorite video game franchises is “Super Smash Brothers.” Apparently the con had an area full of flat screen TVs and Nintendo GameCubes which all had the game “Super Smash Bros.: Melee.” This is one of my most nostalgic games, not to mention one of my all-time faves. On Sunday, I had time to play a round of Smash with three other people. I don’t know who they are, I don’t know their names, chances are I might never see them again. But they are fine people. I played as Donkey Kong, who is one of my mains. I wouldn’t say I have a “main” in Smash, but Donkey Kong is one of my preferred characters. Although I will say I have been playing the 3DS version a lot recently and Lucina is kind of my main there. Also, if you want my goto main on Melee, I gotta say, it’s Roy. However, he wasn’t unlocked yet. Marth was, but Roy wasn’t. Whatever, I like Donkey Kong. I didn’t win, however I got pretty close in a position of second place. A worthy competitor playing as Falco ended up taking the top position.

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Moving onto autographs, I actually managed to get two of them. One of them was from Friday and the other was given to me on Sunday. On Friday, Zachary Levi (Shazam, Chuck) happened to be present in the building. I came to his line at a time when it happened to be rather short. Levi was just finishing up with photo ops, and now he was ready for his next adventure in autographing. So I chucked up $80, no pun intended, and got Levi’s signature on a photo of him as Shazam chewing bubble gum. It’s a true feast for the eyes. It is truly kick-ass until you run out of bubble gum. We happened to chit chat for a moment. Levi said he is enjoying the con so far, and he comes off as a genuine nice guy who at that moment, just became $80 richer by writing his name.

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The other celebrity I met is not as well known. The celebrities who were well known had lines in the basement. This one is not really known for a specific TV show or movie, she is actually known for cosplaying. She goes by the name Yaya Han. Now I don’t follow cosplay. I don’t partake in cosplay. I have massive respect for those who do happen to be involved, although I never took part in it. Keep in mind, I said some of those words to her face. So she must be thinking, “What is this schmuck doing talking to me?” Then I got to the point. For those of you who have known me for awhile, one of my all-time biggest obsessions is the TBS reality competition “King of the Nerds.” Yaya Han was not heavily involved with the show, but she was the only guest I met who had some sort of association with it. Sure, there was another guest, Curtis Armstrong, who was at the con for a panel, but that happened on a day which I didn’t have a ticket. Yaya Han however was there when I was. Therefore, I told her I remember her as a guest judge for all three seasons of the show. When I did, I also thanked her for being a part of something that heavily makes me an individual. She commented saying “King of the Nerds” is an excellent production and she has enjoyed it. Shortly afterwards, I got an autograph from Han on a photo displaying her as Batgirl. Besides her name, she also wrote, “Gotham needs you!” The autograph was only $15 and to me it was well worth the money. Afterwards, I took a picture alongside her.

One person I ended up meeting also happened to be someone I was subscribed to on YouTube. If you know me in person, chances are you’d be aware that I watch “Family Guy.” The thing is… I met Peter Griffin.

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No, not Seth MacFarlane! I met Robert Franzese. If you don’t know who this guy is, I don’t blame you. On YouTube, his channel name is known as Real Life Peter Griffin. He is known for talking, dressing, and sounding like Peter Griffin. On YouTube, you can find videos of him doing his own version of some of “Family Guy’s” popular bits (Grinds My Gears is a common example), and whatever other funny material he can come up with. I told him I was subscribed to his channel and he said that’s “Freakin’ sweet.” As you can tell, I didn’t get a picture with him.

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New York Comic Con is basically a giant compared to other cons that I went to that when you consider how much I DIDN’T get to do. It all makes sense. I never got a pro photo op. I never went into a panel. There was a bunch of interactive stuff I never really took part in. I never tried out any of the upcoming video games like “Megaman 11” or “Kingdom Hearts III.” There was even one thing that I was kind of curious to do, which was take part in a VR game based on the recent film “Skyscraper.” This had you attempt to make what is referred to as “the impossible jump” and if you make it from the crane to the skyscraper, you will be entered to win $10,000. But the area was cluttered, so I avoided pressing my luck. And I have to say that I have the same excuse for the panels. I’d try going down and checking on them, but the case is either that I am not interested in something, or I just don’t want to wait in line with tons of people and risk getting a bad seat. Only thing is there is only one seat I’d get on the “Skyscraper” game. Regardless of the endless list of things I DIDN’T get to do, it did not make me think I did nothing, because all of the stuff I ended up doing, I really enjoyed.

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Guys, New York Comic Con is literally not just one of the best cons out there, but quite possibly one of the best THINGS ever created! The staff is really nice, everyone seems to be enjoying themselves, the organizers know their audience, and it’s as big as Kanye West’s ridiculous ego! If I have any cons regarding this convention, I do want it to have slightly cheaper tickets (tickets are $50 for just a single-day admission), but there’s also probably an argument to be made that maybe all that is in store is totally worth the $50 ticket price. I must say though, as a nerd, it has kind of been an objective to hit one of the big two comic-cons before I die. Aside from this one, a con in particular I wanted to hit was San Diego Comic-Con. And now I am super glad to have one of the big two off my bucket list. Will I be back next year? Tough to say. Tickets may be easier to get than San Diego, but I don’t live in New York, I live in Massachusetts, traveling ain’t cheap. Plus, again, just one day at the convention is worth $50. Maybe. Maybe not. Who knows? Thanks for reading my thoughts on New York Comic Con! If you want to find out more about my con adventures, I should have you know that Rhode Island Comic Con is upon us and I’ll be attending all three days. This is my fourth time going to Rhode Island Comic Con in a row, and as much as I’m excited for it, let’s just get serious and hope that when it comes to organization, they succeed and don’t piss people off. Look that s*it up, that’s usually their biggest flaw. Be sure to follow Scene Before with your WordPress account or email so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you go to New York Comic Con? What did you think about it? Or, what is an expensive con that is worth the money? Also, in the comments section, feel free to suggest future cons for me to visit in the future, I’d LOVE to hear them. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

CON ANNOUNCEMENT: I’m Going to TerrifiCon 2018!

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! We are currently in the second half of 2018! And I’ve already stated to y’all that I’m going to Rhode Island Comic Con and New York Comic Con this year! Well guess what? That ain’t enough to please this guy! I’m the king of the nerds, what can I say? This August, I’ll be making my second trip to a convention down in Connecticut. Based on what I’ve been hearing, it’s not gonna be quite the same as it was last year. It might as well be said that this year’s upcoming TerrifiCon is more terrific than ever!

Having gone to this event only once, I gotta say it’s a fun time. In fact, it came with a couple perks that I’ve missed at other cons I’ve encountered. For one thing, it doesn’t have many crowds, which kind of shocks me because when I went last year, the space used for the con wasn’t really that big. It worked, but it wasn’t big. Another perk for me, and perhaps my mother, is that all my time spent at this con is actually free. Why? This is taking place at the Mohegan Sun casino, and she is a member of some sort of club there. The membership aided in her getting free tickets. Last year, she was actually able to get tickets for two out of the three days. This year however, she actually managed to get three free days. Thanks, mom! Judging by my recent comment, I’m going to be at the con from Friday August 17th, to Sunday August 19th.

TerrifiCon is going to be taking place in an all new venue this year! As a matter of fact, when I was leaving Mohegan Sun last year to go home, there was actually construction being done on the new center. The venue goes by the name of Earth Expo & Convention Center, and it’ll still be attached to the Mohegan Sun property, but it’s an addition to the all new Earth Tower. I haven’t gotten much of a look at the place, but I have seen progress on its assembly.

Guests at this year’s TerrifiCon range from media guests, cosplay guests, artists, and writers. Some standouts include Pom Klementieff (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Ingrid Goes West), Lou Feringno (King of Queens, The Incredible Hulk), Sam Jones (Flash Gordon, Ted), and Henry Winkler (Happy Days, Arrested Development).

However that’s not all the guests that stand out, because a there’s a couple a guests that I’d imagine would be getting a lot of attention, but they won’t because they canceled.

One of the biggest guests on the list, in fact what I think may be THE biggest guest on the list for this year’s TerrifiCon is Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead, The Wolf of Wall Street). His name was leaked on the guest list somewhere towards the second half of spring. Although recently, the unfortunate happened. Days ago, a representative for Jon Bernthal said this:

“I cannot even begin to express how sorry I am to inform you that Jon Bernthal will have to cancel his appearance at your show in August to do his filming schedule. It seems he will have wrapped “Punisher” and gone into production for his next film the week before. He really wanted to make it especially since it would’ve been perfect since it was so close, but after just receiving this new schedule, it’s not going to be possible.”

Speaking of canceled appearances, we have another from KISS member Vinnie Vincent. As the website suggests, this guest canceled due to a scheduling conflict. Similarly, Shannon Farnon, known for her work on the Hanna-Barbera “Wonder Woman,” couldn’t make it due to a scheduling conflict of her own.

Funny enough, since we’re talking about things that have been unfortunately canceled, let’s talk about “Comic Book Men.” I never really watched “Comic Book Men,” but there’s gonna be a trio of guests from the AMC TV show of that name. These guests include Mike Zapcic, Bryan Johnson, and Ming Chen. The thing I love about these guests is not necessarily their show, their personalities, the fact that they’re even at the con, none of that. It’s not that I don’t like them, but that’s not what I’m referring to here. What I truly appreciate about the announcement for these guests is how the writer is trying to project himself. It’s like he’s talking straight to the target audience given his statement, calling the trio from “Comic Book Men” “former stars of the wrongly cancelled AMC-TV show.” For the record, this convention is being presented by Mitch Hallock and Big Fedora Marketing. So this must be either Mitch Hallock himself or some guy we don’t even know behind Big Fedora Marketing who wrote this sort of thing. Funny enough, on Jon Bernthal’s cancellation notice, it says “We were looking forward to seeing him as well – I already bought a 1st appearance of the Punisher for him to sign. But its not happening this year.

And yes, for those of you paying close attention, there is no apostrophe in what I assume was supposed to be “it’s.”

I could go on talking about all of the guests, but it’s a small list so I don’t feel it is absolutely necessary. One thing I do want to talk about is if you are going to the con, there is a chance that you could be making history. As an attempt to make a Guinness World Record for “Most contributions to a greeting card,” Terrificon is going to have a 5×24 ft card featuring art from Jerry Ordway. Some of you might be thinking that this is one of those world records that might be looked at for a second by someone simply before they move on to find something more “valuable” or “important,” and maybe you’re right. However, it does not mean there is no purpose to this world record attempt. After all, this greeting card, is also a birthday card. Who’s birthday is it? It’s not a bird, it’s not a plane, but I can definitely guarantee it is Superman. How old is Superman? This year, it is eighty years since his first ever appearance in a comic book!

Also, I gotta say, he ain’t lookin’ too bad for his age. He’s gotta lose that mustache tho, it’s kinda distracting. A little digital effects in post production will take care of it, don’t ya think?

If you are into cons with activities, I will say, that sort of thing caters to all kinds of guests who enter the convention center looking for something to do. Aside from your traditional walking around, shopping, meeting celebrities, artists, going to panels, cosplay contests, etc, the con also has an after party. The after party takes place on Saturday, August 18th at 7:30 PM to midnight. This event goes by the name All-Ages* Super Terrific Retro After Party, and don’t take the all-ages thing too literally. Yes, even if you were just born in the casino minutes ago, you might not have a problem getting in. However, if you’re younger than twenty-one, you must have a parent or guardian accompanying you. There will be live music, a DJ, a trivia contest, karaoke, and cosplay is certainly permitted! To enter and get all of this cool s*it, it just costs $10! If you’re not a party-person, that’s OK, no one ever forced you to be. Because you know, nerds are born to avoid any social interaction possible. And one way they do such a thing is go in their soundproof room, turn on some console or computer, and play video games.

Throughout TerrifiCon, there will be tons of opportunities to play some of your favorite video games such as “Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite,” “Rock Band 4,” “Super Smash Bros. for Wii U,” “Injustice 2,” and “Fortnite.” This is part of what’s being called CTGamer Arena, and seeing some of these titles, I am somewhat curious to check this out. The schedule suggests that they’re going to be doing Jackbox Games at 7PM on Friday. I would love to play Jackbox Games with a large group of people, just hear all of the laughs! I play Jackbox Games with my friends several times a year! COUNT! ME! IN! But one rule, if we’re playin’, we gotta do Fibbage at some point.

And if video games aren’t your jam, there is certainly nothing wrong with doing tabletop, and this con has got that! Granted, it’s a smaller schedule, but they’ve got it covered! If you want to play “Magic: The Gathering” or “Warhammer,” go get your game on in The Dragon’s Lair!

When it comes to TerrifiCon, they’ve always come off to me as one of the more family-friendly conventions I’ve seen. When I usually think of conventions, I don’t usually think of family, I just think of a place where out of shape, nerdy men like myself go around and spend money on whatever makes people like me happy. TerrifiCon feels like a con that would be welcoming to families, and when it comes to family related events, the convention has that covered! If you want family fun, find out about the “Aw Yeah Comics Fun Zone.” This area is in a giant ballroom featuring artists, writers, musicians, arts and crafts, face painting, robotics, demonstrations, and magic shows.

If you are traveling to this con and are looking for a place to stay, you can always book a hotel room on the Mohegan Sun property, that way you don’t have to make much of a trek towards the convention center considering it’s just steps from the elevators of both hotel towers. If that doesn’t satisfy you however, there are also hotels in the area that can get you staying close to the Mohegan Sun property. There is also another casino in the area, for those who aren’t familiar, by the name of Foxwoods, although Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods are owned by different tribes, so if you’re looking to shuttle from one casino to another, tough luck kid. If you want a link for hotels in the area, click the link below!

MOHEGAN SUN & HOTELS: http://www.terrificon.com/mohegan-sun—hotels.html

I’ll be at TerrifiCon all three days of its run, I hope to see you there, and I’m willing to bet it’ll be a heck of a time. I’ll be sure to do a haul and review once I’m done, and with that being said, if you want to see that sort of thing, don’t forget to follow me on WordPress using your WordPress account or an email! Thanks for reading this post! While we are still talking about upcoming content, I should have you all know that tomorrow I’m going to see “Skyscraper,” I’ll have that review up as soon as possible, and I hope you can stay tuned for all of my future work here on Scene Before! I want to know, are you going to TerrifiCon? What days are you going? Have you been before? Tell me about your experience! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Tomb Raider (2018): A Step In the Right Direction For Video Game Movies

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“Tomb Raider” is directed by Roar Uthaug and stars Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft. If you are not familiar with “Tomb Raider,” it’s a video game franchise that started back in 1996 and is still making games today. You play as Lara Croft throughout an action-adventure and puzzler. This is also not the first “Tomb Raider” movie. There have been two before this one starring Angelina Jolie, but that series didn’t last. This movie is more similar to the 2013 “Tomb Raider” game as opposed to the oldest ones. The plot is that Lara is the daughter of an adventurer, and unfortunately, this adventurer has disappeared. Now, Lara must push her own limits once she finds herself on the island where the adventurer, otherwise known as her father, disappeared.

I’ll remind all of you reading right now that this is a video game movie. In Layman’s terms, a movie you should usually avoid. People for years and years have been making several video game movies, and while I can’t really say I’ve seen all of them, heck, I can only say I’ve seen a few, I can say that one of them turned out to be my least favorite film of all time. That “film” by the way, is the 1993 “Super Mario Bros.” movie. When it comes to video game based films, the “Tomb Raider” franchise is no stranger to this. It already had a couple of movies out, but now it has been redone with a different actress playing the main character. I’ve actually seen bits and pieces of “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” in various YouTube videos and on TV. From what I’ve seen, I know it’s objectively dumb. But if you have the right mindset, it might come off as pure fun. That movie and its sequel seem to have some similarities to the older “Tomb Raider” games, but this “Tomb Raider” film seems to relate more to 2013’s “Tomb Raider” and is a little more serious. This movie feels more like “Wonder Woman” as opposed to say… I dunno, “xXx.” Does the seriousness work in this movie? I gotta say it does. And speaking of things working, I gotta say this movie as a whole works. I didn’t expect this movie to be as good as it was AT ALL. The teaser poster released months back looked terrible, the first trailer looked like s*it, and I was kind of skeptical about the girl who played Lara Croft. I mean, my fondness for her grew over time as I found out she plays Ava in “Ex Machina,” but leading up to this film’s release, I was skeptical of the turnout. But you know what? The quest is complete! We have an above average video game movie! Out of all the video game movies I’ve seen, this is the first I’m giving an above average score to. No you fools, I’m not counting “Tron” or “Wreck-It Ralph,” those were original!

Let’s talk about Alicia Vikander in this movie. I’ll mention once again that this movie is more like the 2013 “Tomb Raider” so with this character, you don’t really see her slinging guns at giant robots or running on walls while on wires, you just see her on an adventure. While I can’t fully compare this film and “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” side by side, Vikander’s character is a bit more heroic and warrior-like as opposed to Angelina Jolie’s character who might as well be a rock and roll superstar badass chick who makes you accept the fact that she can do literally anything. Here in this movie, you are given moments where you can emotionally attach yourself to Lara. You see her struggles, you feel her pain, and you root for her in just about any circumstance. Also, based on what I recently said, I will bring up that I’m NOT saying I DON’T think this movie’s Lara is a badass, but I’m also saying she’s a different type of badass. I’m not giving what exactly can be called a negative connotation to either character, but Vikander’s the type of badass that is relatable whereas Jolie’s the type of badass you can’t help but wonder what the hell is going to happen.

Another standout character to me in this film is played by Walter Goggins (The Shield, Justified) he goes by the name Mathias Vogel and if you played the 2013 video game you might be familiar with him. There was a moment I was watching the movie and I was reminded of something. You know how every once in a while I do a countdown on a certain topic? One of the ones I’ve planned to do for a long time is my most hated characters in movies. If I actually get around to doing that, Vogel might be a possibility. I can’t say he’ll make it for sure, but based on his attitude and some the s*it he does in this movie, major points goes to him on that, making him climb up the charts.

Now once again, this is a video game movie, meaning it has problems. And let’s face it, this movie’s boring. I don’t mean that from beginning to end, but there are various points where the movie felt like just dragged. I didn’t give a crap about what was going on, part of me didn’t even know what was going on, and I kind of didn’t want to know what was going on. Gosh, it’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” all over again!

Also speaking of video games, depending on what you play, you might think of those at times being these epic adventures where you can basically accomplish anything, even if it’s just by the smallest of seconds. This movie’s kind of like that too. You almost have to suspend your disbelief and just let certain things go at times. If you don’t play a lot of video games, you probably don’t know what I’m talking about. Just imagine someone trying to get from one side to the other and there’s no bridge or walkway. So you have to go back, and run as fast you can to the edge of the side you’re on, with the slightest amount of hope that you’ll make it to the other side. It looks like you’re gonna fail, you’re going to fall down a neverending abyss, but with your own two hands, you make contact with the edge of the other side, and you’re struggling to actually “make it over.” It’s just a climb away. With all your might, you climb! It takes ten seconds of your strength and willpower, but you have achieved the right to fight! This movie is like that sometimes. I was able to let it slide because for one thing, it’s based on a video game and video games are like that. But also because there’s a certain limit in my head where I can’t suspend my disbelief any longer, and the movie fails to reach that. So yeah, this movie is based on a video game, and it can technically be called a movie. Awesome! F*cking finally! The umpteenth time’s the charm, but it happened!

In the end, I’d watch “Tomb Raider” again. Some part of my brain would want to give it a 10/10 just because of what it stands for in the video game movie genre. Not only that, but it also exceeded my expectations. Although I’ve got to be real with you, if I give this movie a 10/10 my pants would be on fire. I’m a critic, not a charity operator. Having watched this, I was engaged, I was intrigued, I was connected to the characters, I thought the people behind this film did a good job at adapting the source material to the screen, and I also thought Vikander did an alright job as Croft to my utmost surprise. So with that being said, I’m going to give “Tomb Raider” a 6/10.

One last thing before we close this out, long before this movie released. There was actually speculation all over the place that the role of Lara Croft would end up going to a different actress than Vikander, specifically Daisy Ridley, AKA the “Star Wars” franchise’s Rey. When I heard about this news, I was in instant approval mode. In fact it’s not just me, other people, including “The Force Awakens” co-star John Boyega thought Daisy Ridley would have made a great Lara Croft.

According to an article from The Hollywood Reporter, it turns out that John Boyega has played the 2013 “Tomb Raider” reboot, happened to be aware of the project, and texted Daisy Ridley saying that she could have a real shot at playing Lara if they decide to base the upcoming “Tomb Raider” film on the 2013 remake game.

Daisy Ridley also admitted that at the time she had been in talks to play the character. Although there was no confirmation. There were some loose ends that needed tying up involving the film. The script still needed to be finished for example. When I found out Daisy Ridley wasn’t going to be the next Lara Croft, I was a bit disappointed. Seeing her killer performance in “The Force Awakens” made me think NOBODY ELSE could be Lara Croft. Having seen this movie, not to mention a couple of “Star Wars” flicks with Ridley as the lead role, I guess I can say to myself that I may have just been complaining a tad more than necessary. After all, if Ridley gotten the role, I could have either overhyped the movie just because she’s in it, or have been disappointed just because I mainly see her as Rey. I like Alicia Vikander as an actress, and I ended up highly appreciating her in “Ex Machina,” but if I were on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” and you asked me who Vikander was in 2016, I probably would have just been stumped or in need of a lifeline. This movie ultimately continues to make me envision a bright future for Vikander, and I hope she gets some more good roles.

Thanks for reading this review! This week I’ll have a review up for “Mission: Impossible” and hopefully I’ll be able to see “Ready Player One” in a few days. If I do see “Ready Player One” in a few days,  I hope it’s great, and maybe I’ll prove to my pals who apparently think this movie’s going to be s*it dead wrong on the nose. Then again, they didn’t read the book. Stay tuned for that review, my “Mission: Impossible” review, and whatever other content this movie reviewing moron can give you. I want to know, did you see “Tomb Raider?” What did you think about it? Did you see the Angelina Jolie “Tomb Raider” films? Did you play any of the games? Leave your comments down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

New Animated Super Mario Bros. Movie in the Works and Why I Have Mixed Thoughts On It

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Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! A couple weeks back, I found out that Illumination Entertainment is working on a new “Super Mario Bros.” movie and there was a part of me that thought that was cool. Another part of me however, was trying to set my body on fire. Part of me wanted to make a “Mario” movie at an older age, but that’s not the main reason I’m worried.

Let’s remain rather positive for now and talk about what I think might as well be considered “the good.” The best thing about this new “Mario” project is that it might turn out fine. I know, this sounds VERY LIMITED, but you have to realize the history moviegoers have with video game movies and how much of a tragedy it has been in said genre for the most part. Sure, there are a number of people who say they enjoyed movies such as “Mortal Kombat,” “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” and even “Warcraft.” I’m willing to bet that last one may be due to its faithfulness towards the game, but people enjoyed it nonetheless. As for “Super Mario Bros.,” if you weren’t aware already, there already has been two movies based on the games. Yes, two. If you know about only one of them or even none for that matter, I wouldn’t be that surprised considering the earlier one only released in Japan in 1986 and it was called “Super Mario Brothers: Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach.” The American version, released in 1993, known as “Super Mario Bros.,” was met with negative reception once it came out and is still remembered as an abomination. As for my reaction towards the film, I completely concur with the enormous number of people who were enslaved by a couple of plumbers for over an hour and a half. I even consider that garbage pile of a film to be my least favorite film of all time. I didn’t know it when watching it in 2013, but as time marched on, I began to realize, the complete and utter bullcrap shoved in front of me. I saw news of this film happening and I thought, filmmakers can only go up from here.

The 1993 s*itshow known as “Super Mario Bros.” was made in live-action, and while I have not much of a problem with a “Mario” movie being in live-action, “Mario’s” universe comes off as this magical place that would make as much sense as defying gravity. This brings in some news that the new “Mario” movie will be in animation form as opposed to live-action. Given what I just stated about logic and “Mario,” I’m not opposed to this. In fact, based on results I saw from IMDb, the Japanese “Mario” movie from 1986 was actually an anime and that got mostly positive verdicts, giving it a barely passable rating. I’ll remind you though, not many people rated the film. I’ll also remind you that this barely passable rating of 6.0 is greater than the failure of a rating that the American “Mario” film has, which is a 4.0. Most of the verdicts for the Japanese film came in around the 6 and 7 spots and the American flick has ratings mostly ending up as a 4. Try playing one of the newer “Super Mario” games. Try playing “Super Mario Galaxy” or “Super Mario 3D World” and tell me the textures in those games won’t work well in an animated movie. Or at the very least, a live-action movie with tons of CGI.

Now with the news I just stated, some of you “Mario” fans might be thinking, this might turn out well. Let me just remind you that one studio stands in the way of this movie’s ultimate fate. And that studio, as mentioned, is Illumination Entertainment, or as I like to call them, Making Minion Cash-Ins Forever Entertainment.

I’ve seen a few pieces of Illumination’s work, and while I will say, they are well animated, they can’t even compete with works from other animated studios. I give a lot of flak for Disney making repetitive content based on some works they’ve done in recent years along with works that will be out in years to come, but at least they’ve done glimmers of brilliance in the animation department recently! Have you seen “Wreck-it Ralph?” If you haven’t, go out and buy it right now on Blu-ray if you don’t have it! Have you seen “Zootopia?” If you haven’t, stop wasting time and find a copy! Don’t get me wrong, I do think they’ve done terribly overrated pieces of dogs*it in the animation department in recent times as well. If you like “Frozen,” that’s fine, but I’m glad that I’m not a father, because if I was, I probably would have been dragged by the ear to that film if I had a daughter instantly. I haven’t watched the film in its entirety, but based on what I’ve seen, I don’t want to. Speaking of that, I haven’t seen all of “Moana,” but I’ve seen enough to say, despite the stellar animation, I can’t say I can get past an annoying chicken and brain damaging musical numbers. As for Illumination, I’ve seen a portion of “Despicable Me 2,” “The Secret Life of Pets,” and “Sing.” The portion I saw of “Despicable Me 2” didn’t please me, and as for the other two films, they were passable, but not that memorable. To me, Illumination is just that animated studio that tries to make serviceable content that could potentially entertain kids, and maybe some adults, but mainly kids. Yes, kids are a target demographic in animations, but to say that the animations are just for the kids is baloney. Think about what adults want, mature stories with proper life lessons, something that the kids can think about in order to be a good person. And while I have seen films from Illumination that showcase those things, it must be kept in mind that those are probably films that are only good for one watch. I know a friend who reads this blog who has watched “Despicable Me 3” and she says its awesome, but I haven’t seen it so I can’t make any judgment of it whatsoever.

The more I think about it, the more I want this to be perhaps a Dreamworks movie, maybe a Blue Sky movie even. Both of those studios have created GREAT animations I have watched over and over again. “Kung Fu Panda” is one of my favorite animations of all time. Not just the first one, but all three to me, qualify as animated tour de forces. Blue Sky’s first two “Ice Age” films are terrific in my personal book. Yeah, the franchise has declined to a point of utter insanity at this point, but it doesn’t mean Blue Sky hasn’t made other enjoyable pieces of work such as “Epic.”

I mean, the more I think about those things, the more worried I get because those studios have been around for awhile. Sure, they’ve both had their share of original and unoriginal ideas that have been effective films, there are points where people run out of ideas and thus start creating whatever cash-in is necessary. Have you guys seen “Ice Age: Collision Course?” If you haven’t, LUCKY YOU! If anything, this Mario movie can only work if people tried to make an effective product. By that I mean, instead of thinking of it as something based off of something that people like that you have to make, think of it as something that has been loved by many for years, and go on to create something those people will either love equally or perhaps more than the original product. Given their track record, I wouldn’t mind seeing Laika taking on this project. I saw two Laika films and both of them were absolute pieces of genius! I still remember going to see “Coraline” in the theater, and the animation not only looked amazing, but it was well written, well voiced, and it had a terrific story. “Kubo and the Two Strings” is another film I saw from Laika, and that somehow managed to be better than “Coraline!” Laika is well known for its stop-motion work, so it would be rather interesting to see what they can do with “Mario.” Although this might bring some problems given the traditional design of “Mario’s” world. If gravity could be defied, this might work 100%.

Sticking with Illumination, I’m also worried about one other thing, marketing and handling of the product. Are they gonna use an unoriginal character or create some new character that might as well be an excuse to stock toy shelves? That’s basically what they did with the Minions in “Despicable Me,” so that wouldn’t be surprising here. This also makes me think if they will just make “Mario” less like “Mario” and more like a cliche animation. If they don’t take time to actually have Mario do several missions like he does in the games, I will rage. “Mario” is famous for its missions where you either have to touch a flag or collect a star. If they don’t pay much respect to the game in that regard, perhaps numerous times, I might be disappointed. I don’t want the characters taking too many breaks to sit around and have a conversation. I don’t mind conversations being in there, but they can’t be in there the entire time. Also, PLEASE, don’t make the missions have a popular song with lyrics, and don’t do another version of “Happy.” Either take the music from the games or establish your own score and keep it that way. You can make the movie feel like a movie, but also blend in a high number of elements from the video game, I imagine some people will go nuts.

At this point, I’m just rambling. I wouldn’t doubt that this would be a step up from “Super Mario Bros.” released in 1993, but the question is, how much of a step up can it be? Video game movies in general are not that great, but if this were under a different studio such as DreamWorks or an independent studio, I’d have more faith in it. Oh well, I guess we’ll just have to face that boss when we get to it.

Thanks for reading this post! This weekend, “Black Panther” is out, meaning I’ll definitely have a review up sometime soon because I do have intentions to see it. You know, unlike “Fifty Shades Freed.” I probably won’t be seeing that unless I manage to find a date in a matter of days and they end up dragging me to it. As for other movies, I want to go see “Game Night,” a comedy starring Rachel McAdams, Jesse Plemons, and Jason Bateman. That movie comes out February 23rd, so maybe I’ll catch that a little later. Speaking of films coming out that day, I’m also going to try and catch “Annihilation,” which is directed by Alex Garland and that name alone is enough to get me in the theater because he directed “Ex Machina,” and that movie is, well, “Ex Machina.” Stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, do you have any thoughts on the upcoming “Mario” movie? Also, did you see “Super Mario Bros.” from 1993? If you haven’t, chances are you haven’t been locked in the closet for a period of time by a couple plumbers. Let me know your responses! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!