Strange World (2022): No Awe, No Wonder, Just Boredom.

“Strange World” is directed by Don Hall and co-directed by Qui Nguyen. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler, Spider-Man: Far from Home), Dennis Quaid (A Dog’s Purpose, The Express: The Ernie Davis Story), Jaboukie Young-White (The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Only Murders in the Building), Gabrielle Union (America’s Got Talent, Think Like a Man), and Lucy Liu (Charlie’s Angels, Kung Fu Panda). This film follows the Clades, a family who must overcome each other’s differences in order to successfully navigate themselves in a space off the map.

Thus far, animation has not been perfect this year. The only real highlight in regard to 2022 animation for me would have to be “Turning Red,” which I watched back in March and enjoyed immensely. In fact, my favorite animation I watched that came out this year is one that technically came out last year, specifically “Belle,” as it released in Japan in July 2021. That movie was so nice that I had to post about it twice. Therefore, I was hoping that “Strange World” could join the ranks of “Turning Red,” or surpass it, and give the genre a boost. “The Bad Guys” was okay. “Lightyear” was fun but it is no “Toy Story.” “Luck” was not perfect. Let’s not even talk about “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank.” I wanted something that could potentially be a medium-defining movie. We had a couple of those last year with “The Mitchells vs. the Machines,” the recently mentioned “Belle,” and Disney’s own “Raya and the Last Dragon.” The good news for those movies, depending on how you slice it, is if they wanted to remain superior, then this is a good day for them. “Strange World” is a movie that should have dazzled me. Unfortunately, I was bored.

Now let me be clear, for the people who ask why I do not like this movie, please note that this has nothing to do with a certain character having feelings for another specific character. If you are looking for another review where the writer disses on the movie because it is “woke,” go someplace else, arrogant scumbags. Scene Before is not the place for that. That said, it is time to talk about why “Strange World” is one of the most underwhelming and snore-inducing animations of the decade.

However, before we get there, I do want to drop some positives. Because the movie does have its moments. The first act, while not flawless, introduces the characters at a quick pace and provides some fascinating setup for what is to come. There is a particular event towards the end of the movie that caught me off guard, but in a good way. The opening song, while short, is kind of a banger. Oddly enough, this does not go for that traditional Disney movie soundtrack extravaganza where every other scene becomes a musical all of a sudden. There is no equivalent to Let It Go in “Strange World.” If you are seeking a musical, look elsewhere. If you are instead seeking a mediocre adventure in unfamiliar territory, look no further.

When your movie is called “Strange World,” that should be code to make a world that looked kooky and fun. However, I had my arms crossed for a good portion of the runtime. “Strange World” had scenes that looked like an escape from reality, but it is not just a matter of how the movie looks, but how it feels. Despite being taken on an adventure to somewhere unfamiliar, I never felt immersed into this world. Part of the reason is because this movie feels like it spends more time building its vast environments as opposed to the characters who are surrounded by said environments. Sure, we get moments where we get to know the characters, but it sometimes comes off as the bare minimum. In addition, the characters themselves are annoying.

Now the characters, for the most part, are well voiced. Dennis Quaid and Lucy Liu are particular standouts as Jaeger Clade (top right) and Callisto Mal (top left) respectively. The voice performances serve their purpose and are in no way problematic. However, I was annoyed by a character that should have been a lovable sidekick, Splat.

I found out that nobody voices Splat (right), so the voice actors are safe in this instance. However, the sounds that Splat makes, while somewhat appropriate, are honestly more headache-inducing than trying to find a parking spot at the mall on Black Friday. I can say this is based on true events. Both as someone who just wanted cheap Blu-rays the other day, and as someone who wanted to have a good time watching “Strange World,” but failed miserably.

Like most animated fare, there is a lesson intertwined that the crew perhaps aspire to deliver towards the children watching the movie. As an adult, I took away a particular lesson that sounded halfway decent. But at the same time, the lesson made for an atrocious story. It is predictable, dull, and worst of all, the three main characters all made me roll my eyes. Whether it was cheap dialogue, selfish motives, or overembellishing what could easily be shown instead of told. There are scenes where the main characters argue, and it had dialogue that should have been compelling, it should have gotten me invested in the scene and where things could go from here. All it did was made me put my hand on my head, begging for the movie to move along.

I watched “Strange World” in a theater that had some people. It was nowhere near its total capacity, but there were some families and kids. Despite the various attempts at comedy in “Strange World,” no one uttered a sound. I could barely hear children chuckling. For all I knew, the children at this screening had a good time. But when your family movie fails to get the family to emote, that is a problem. Although when the movie was over, people did clap. So there is that.

Watching and/or reviewing a Disney movie sometimes has its complexities. Because Disney is not just movies. That is just a small aspect of how they entertain the masses. What goes into their movies often factors into their merchandising, their parks, and so on. While “Strange World” is not a good movie, it was the kind of movie that despite its failed attempts to immerse me, made me think there could be a chance that this would make for a decent theme park ride. I can imagine this universe as a motion simulator in Disney World because it is so otherworldly. Kind of like some of Disney’s other rides such as Star Tours or Pirates of the Caribbean, it feels like going somewhere else. It does not feel like Florida. It does not feel like California. You’re either in space or some vast environment far from home. Unfortunately, I am not reviewing a theme park ride. I am reviewing a story. And despite one or two okay scenes, there was not enough to make me root for the characters or care about what was going on. As a story, this is dull. This is forgettable. This is uninteresting. I wanted it to end. Thankfully the movie not that long, but despite time flying by, I was not having fun.

In the end, “Strange World” is a bit of a letdown. I did not think this movie looked like the next big thing, but it also looked fun. Disney movies, even ones that are lower tier, seem to have glimmers of fun on a consistent basis. When I fail to walk out of a Disney movie, or any movie for that matter, with a smile on my face, that is not a good sign. Let me just put it this way. I had more fun with another Disney film, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” and that is despite the film saying goodbye to a major character (in addition to the actor who plays him) and having a few downer scenes. “Strange World” occasionally made me angry because it looked fun, but it did not feel fun. There is a difference between designing something pretty, and doing something with it that is interesting. This movie felt like a first date with the most attractive woman alive, only to find out she has zero personality whatsoever. “Strange World” is a waste of time and I am going to give it a 3/10.

“Strange World” is now playing in theatres everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! If you liked this review, check out some of my other ones! If you want to see more animated movie reviews, check out the review I did for “The Bob’s Burgers Movie.” If you want to see more family movie reviews, check out my thoughts on the brand new Netflix film, “Slumberland.” I am planning on seeing a movie this weekend, I am not sure which one specifically, so as to whether “Violent Night” or “Spoiler Alert” is going to be my next review is a total mystery. You will have to find out for yourselves. If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Strange World?” What did you think about it? Or, what is an animation that you saw recently that disappointed you? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Encanto (2021): We Do Talk About the Joys of This Fun, Colorful, Animated Adventure

“Encanto” is directed by Jared Bush, Byron Howard, and Charise Castro Smith. It’s little weird for a movie to have three directors, but Disney also did this for “Raya and the Last Dragon,” which kicked butt, so what does a nobody like me know? This film stars Stephanie Beatriz (Modern Family, Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Maria Cecilia Botero (Her Mother’s Killer, La Bruja), John Leguizamo (Ice Age, John Wick: Chapter 2), Mauro Castillo (El Joe: The Legend), Jessica Darrow (Grand Theft Auto V, Anomaly), Angie Cepeda (Pobre Diabla, The Seed of Silence), Carolina Gaitán (El Final del Paraiso, Narcos), Diane Guerrero (Orange is the New Black, Jane the Virgin), and Wilmer Valderrama (NCIS, That ’70s Show). This film follows a young girl named Mirabel who lives in a magical house with a magical family. Only problem, within this magical lifestyle, she is the only one who has never inherited a magical power. The rest of her family however, has that one ability that makes them special. However, Mirabel discovers that all this magic is disappearing. Once this is realized, she sets out on a quest to restore the magic and her family.

This film released in November. Due to life and school kind of making me want to take some time for myself, I will admit that some of my content has been evenly spread lately, and this is a film that I did happen to see during the month it released. There may be some movies that might not get talked about in the near future, depending on time constraints and business. “Encanto,” however, is not one of those films. This film is not from Pixar, but whenever I watch a trailer for a Pixar movie, I always look at it excited about the concept, but often worried about the execution. It looks fun, but it doesn’t come off as extravagant or unique. And when it comes to this theatrical-exclusive Disney feature, or at least when it came out, I felt the same way here as I do with some Pixar films. The concept of someone having no magical powers within a magic-heavy environment was intriguing, but I just wish the marketing did a little more to entice me. Thankfully, this movie, much like a few other animated titles I’ve seen throughout my life, managed to surprise me.

Magic has become synonymous with the branding of Macy’s–Wait? Macy’s? That can’t be right!

*Clears throat*

Magic has become synonymous with the branding of Disney. The company has had years of providing spins on fairy tales, doses of imagination, and spent lots of time and money developing its Magic Kingdom in Florida, which is a state that’s a bit of a Magic Kingdom unto itself. So to see a story like this where magic, a mysterious concept, become an ordinary element in one’s world, is not much of a surprise. At it’s surface, it’s yet another edition of the whole idea that “everyone’s special” and this even goes for the nobodies of the world, which in this case is Mirabel. This is not the best story done in that regard, but I think it has a special place in the Disney library as it successfully masters the idea of a family either coming together or having notable differences. I think it does a really good job at highlighting ups and downs of being in a family and in the case of Mirabel, wondering if you are “good enough.” Let’s face it… EVERY PARENT HAS A FAVORITE CHILD. If my future children read this, let’s just hope this theory is proven wrong. I’m not here to declare that Mirabel’s parents thinks she’s the worst child, cause, you know, “every parent has a favorite child,” whether they admit it or not… But I do think inside Mirabel’s mind, she’s thinking her parents see her as the least favorite child through what could be defined as no fault of her own.

One of the best things about this film is that there is no real villain getting in the hero’s way. Granted, there are obstacles, there are happenings, there are events, there are occurrences that our hero has to deal with, some of which provide for a fun movie. But one thing I like about this film is that despite coming from a studio that has created iconic villains like Scar, which has been known for haunting some children’s nightmares, it is kind of refreshing to see a film with no real antagonist. It kind of reminds me of a Netflix film I saw last year, which has given me tons of Disney vibes throughout, “Over the Moon,” because that film, which technically does have an antagonist, doesn’t really have anyone that happens to be truly vicious or evil depending on your point of view. Granted, the film’s antagonist comes close given some of the things they do, but nevertheless. To me, they felt good at heart.

Now this film came out in 2021, which if anything, should be a year where almost any major studio film should look good at minimum. Animations in general over the past number of years have always had a wow factor in terms of the renderings and computer generated scenes. Everything always looks grand and powerful. “Encanto” is no exception. Unlike the previous major Disney animated film that came out in 2021, “Raya and the Last Dragon,” “Encanto” takes advantage of its rather lighthearted and whimsical vibes and often allows as much color as it can into certain scenes. This provides for stunning images that are likely to stay with some viewers.

The music in this film, when it comes to Disney fare, is frankly forgettable. I will admit, this is a case where it has been some time since I watched the movie, so a second viewing could refresh my memory, but in the context of this review, where I’m talking about a film that kind of partially on music-heavy segments and catchy tunes for entertainment value, forgetting a good portion of it can be a problem.

I do think that children are likely to be entertained by “Encanto.” Granted, having watched a lot of movies as a child, I was often entertained with whatever was in front of me. I do think it successfully captures the idea that even if you are unique or extraordinary, it does not mean you’re perfect. Things fade. Life is not kind. It also suggests that those who are not as unique on the surface still have a chance of potentially proving to be the best version of themselves.

In the end, “Encanto” is a charming animated flick that I recommend to a lot of people. This is not my favorite animated film of the year, but when it comes to this year’s slate, I think it will have more staying power than “Ron’s Gone Wrong,” which was… Interesting. I make fun of Disney all the time, but at the end of the day, they know what they’re doing because they can simply make movies for kids, which seems to be the intention with almost every animated project, but they always find a way to understand these are not KIDS movies. They’re family movies. They’re smarter. I’m going to give “Encanto” a 7/10.

“Encanto” is now playing in select theaters and is available to buy or rent through streaming. The film is also available on Disney+ to all subscribers.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed this review, guess what? I have another animation to talk about soon, and that is the new Illumination film “Sing 2!” The first “Sing” film is my favorite Illumination project, and I say that as someone who has not really watched “Despicable Me,” so I might be providing somewhat invalid results. Is this sequel better than the original? You’ll find out soon enough! Also, be sure to stay tuned for my top 10 best and worst movies of 2021, coming soon! If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or a WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Encanto?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite animated film of 2021? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Raya and the Last Dragon (2021): How to Find Your Dragon

“Raya and the Last Dragon” is directed by Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada, alongside credited co-directors Paul Briggs and John Ripa. This film stars Kelly Marie Tran (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Adam Ruins Everything), Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians, The Farewell), Izaac Wang (Good Boys, Think Like a Dog), Gemma Chan (Transformers: The Last Knight, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Daniel Dae Kim (Insurgent, Lost), Benedict Wong (Doctor Strange, Annihilation), Sandra Oh (Over the Moon, Grey’s Anatomy), Thalia Tran (Council of Dads, Little), Lucille Soong (Fresh Off the Boat, Desperate Housewives), and Alan Tudyk (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Harley Quinn). This film takes place in the fantasy world of Kumandra, which has been divided into five tribes with alternating values. All of these tribes and their respective followers are after an orb that protects people from the Druun, a virus-like spirit that turns everyone in its path to stone. When the orb shatters into pieces, Raya, a warrior princess from Heart, goes on a quest to find Sisu, the last living dragon, who supposedly has a knowledge about the orb.

If you are new to Scene Before, welcome! One thing you may discover about me is that I have a love/hate relationship with Disney. They are a brand that I personally cannot stand because they often hog all the attention in multiple markets and almost resemble a collective monopoly. At the same time, they own Lucasfilm, they own Marvel, and they own Pixar, three of my favorite studios working today. Therefore, when it comes to entertaining people, they are doing something right. This film is from Walt Disney Animation Studios, or Disney proper if you want to put it in other terms. In recent years, they have made some of my favorite animated films including “Zootopia” and “Wreck-it Ralph,” but they also made a couple films that irked me to no end like “Frozen” and “Moana.” Although one thing that has been consistent from one film to the next is that the animation style in each one looks beautiful. Everything looks detailed and despite being from a studio that has been around for years, it feels like they have entered a new era with some of their recent projects. At the same time though, this should not be a surprise given how much technology has advanced by 2021. If something doesn’t look halfway decent, maybe I’ll let that slide in 1998 or 2002. But in 2021, good animation is a requirement. Thankfully, and this leads me to my initial positive of “Raya and the Last Dragon,” the level of detail and vibrancy in this film is eye-popping. “Raya and the Last Dragon” is a fascinating film that takes you through several environments that should vary in tone, but for some reason, they mesh together to form an action-packed adventure for everyone to enjoy. And I mean, EVERYONE.

This is how family movies should be done! Great characters, witty humor, balls to the wall pacing, and a fascinating story with exciting lore behind it! Upon reflection, this movie had the pacing of two 2008 animations. “Bolt,” which was also a Walt Disney Animation Studios film, and like “Raya,” there are a few action scenes that not only takes things up a notch with some quick pace to accompany it. The other animation is “Kung Fu Panda,” and I say that because the film bases itself around martial arts, Asian culture, and has built an exciting, perhaps myth-like world that has secrets that may await exploration. After all, “Kung Fu Panda” had two sequels. I do not know if “Raya and the Last Dragon” will end up having as big of a following as say “Big Hero 6,” but if anyone at Disney reads this, just know that if a “Raya and the Last Dragon” sequel is greenlit, I will happily flock to the theater to see it.

Let’s talk about Raya. She is a warrior who spends years trying to find the last dragon after an unfortunate event left many people dead. Her quest in general is quite the journey to watch. We see early on in the film that she travels alongside a merchandisable mix of an armadillo and pill bug, Tuk Tuk. While Tuk Tuk is not my standout character of the movie, not saying he sucks, but still… I like the work that was put into the character, specifically the voice because they did not just go out into the animal kingdom and get a bunch of different recordings for this character, they just got Alan Tudyk to make a bunch of noises and have the results be satisfying! And I assure you, I sometimes forget how much I truly appreciate Alan Tudyk as a performer. He has a style for voicework that is almost unmatched between King Candy in “Wreck-It Ralph,” K-2SO in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” and The Joker in the animated “Harley Quinn” series! The dude is a true mastermind! Therefore it does not surprise me that he has a role that is simply just making animal sounds. He’s that effective of a performer! I have a friend, I won’t say his or her name, who will practically watch anything with Alan Tudyk in it. I can see why.

One of the big mixes of the film is something that Disney has usually been known for in earlier years but also something that it has seemingly lacked in recent years, a hefty villainous presence. Now, if Netflix’s “Over the Moon” has proven anything, it is that not every single animated antagonist needs to be wicked or evil. For most of “Raya and the Last Dragon,” the villain is just a bunch of particles that move around. Now, to be fair, these particles can be threatening at time, but when you have a company that has been built for years on imagination, it is somewhat weird to see them resort to lifeless blobs as the main villain.

Then again, this is the same company that copy-pasted “The Lion King” in 2019 and made a billion dollars off of it, so what do I know?

At the same time, there is a constant rivalry between Raya and Namaari, from the land of Fang. The movie shows these two early on getting along with each other until an unexpected turn happens in which case they are no longer on each other’s side. This rivalry is integral to the film and the events that play throughout. The constant drive that plays out due to each of these characters’ disconnect to one another is a highlight of the film and makes for one of the more interesting relationships I have seen in a recent movie.

Speaking of characters, this film also had quite a few compelling supporting members of the cast as well. You have Sisu the dragon, played by Awkwafina, who partially plays herself in a way. But in my book, I do not mean that as a diss. Awkwafina has an admirable personality so I like seeing that interjected into this dragon character. Aside from seeing her for a majority of the film, we have Boun, a sidekick boy who makes shrimp. Joining them is a baby named Little Noi who if you ask me, can probably slaughter the Boss Baby in a fight.

But before we go any further, I want to bring up the songs in this film. There’s not even one original, Disney-esque song in this entire thing, and having seen the movie, there never should have been! This movie pulls no punches and wastes no time. I was here to watch something that kicks some ass and I assure you that my ass may have been kicked. But this does not mean the music in this film is lame. In fact, it is composed by James Newton Howard, known for his work on “The Hunger Games” and “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” Therefore, when it comes to both fantastical settings and films where groups of people are divided, this is not Howard’s first rodeo, AND IT SHOWS. I know we are only in March, but I think we already have a contender for the best film score of 2021. It is like a lighthearted mix of “Mad Max” and your traditional martial arts-centric or warrior movie. James Newton Howard collaborated with Hans Zimmer on the scores for “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight,” both of which are really good scores. Although this “Raya and the Last Dragon” score may almost be my favorite of his so far. Tonally speaking it is generally quick, nearly rambunctious, and some of the percussion really stands out.

In the end, “Raya and the Last Dragon” did not just rock my world, it rocked my Disney world. The film is just purely bold and rustic and fun! I needed this after “Tom & Jerry,” let me just say that much! Time will tell as for how often I’ll watch this film again, but for my first viewing, I was blown away. This film is technically stunning and as a story, it sort of opens doors for sequels, expansions, lore, and I am admittedly quite curious to the point where I want to see where things go from here with the “Raya” property. I do not know if it will end up happening due to the pandemic, but I see this film, much like many others, becoming a fan favorite. And if anything else, I mentioned once again, this film has a lack of original songs. So, note to everyone who made the live-action “Mulan,” this is probably what your movie should have been! I’m going to give “Raya and the Last Dragon” a 9/10.

“Raya and the Last Dragon” is now playing in theaters wherever they are open, however due to Cinemark not confirming a deal with Disney, the film is not playing at any of their locations. The film is however also currently available on Disney+ with Premier Access for a one-time $29.99 fee on top of your subscription.

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know, if things on Scene Before seem slower than usual, I have admittedly been quite busy with school and other goings on in life, so I do apologize if I am supposedly lagging. Although if it makes you feel any better, I want to announce that on Monday, April 5th, I’ll be starting my “Mortal Kombat: Finish the Reviews” review series, so I will have my review up for the 1995 “Mortal Kombat” movie. I watched the film earlier this month, and I am looking forward to talking about it. I will also be discussing “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” on April 12th. As for new movies, pretty soon I will hopefully have reviews up for “Chaos Walking,” “Boogie,” and “Nobody.” I am also seeing “Godzilla vs. Kong” this Wednesday, so I should hopefully have a review for that up soon as well. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Raya and the Last Dragon?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Alan Tudyk film? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018): The Emoji Movie For Intellectuals

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“Ralph Breaks the Internet” is directed by Phil Johnston (Zootopia, The Brothers Grimsby) and Rich Moore (The Simpsons, Futurama) and stars John C. Reilly (Guardians of the Galaxy, Kong: Skull Island), Sarah Silverman (A Million Ways to Die in the West, Bob’s Burgers), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman, Keeping Up with the Joneses), Taraji P. Henson (Hidden Figures, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Jack McBrayer (30 Rock, Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Jane Lynch (Hollywood Game Night, Glee), Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2, Raiders of the Lost Ark), and Ed O’Neill (Modern Family, Finding Dory). This movie is the sequel to Disney’s 2012 animated hit “Wreck-It Ralph.” On this second go around, in a situation which involves saving Vanellope’s game, “Sugar Rush,” Ralph and Vanellope decide to go on an adventure to the Internet. Throughout the journey we experience some mishaps, attempts at humor, and unfortunately, product placement. But you know, it could be worse, it could be “The Emoji Movie.” We’ll get to that eventually.

Going into “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” I didn’t have truly high expectations from the marketing. As a matter of fact, part of me thought the marketing just plain sucked. The first teaser trailer left me feeling icky. Then again it might really be due to how much I can’t stand the Flo Rida song “Good Feeling.” But who knows? Maybe the next trailer could have kicked total ass, but let me just say that it really did the opposite. Instead, the trailer made me hand my own ass right over to it. To me, once I saw the “Oh My Disney” portion of the trailer, it just really felt like a massive commercial for all the Disney properties. Disney! Disney propaganda! Bring the kids! Go to Disney World! Buy all of our stuff at the Disney store! Pretty soon, after we finish dismantling Fox, we’re gonna buy Lionsgate so that way we can own “The Hunger Games” and have Jennifer Lawrence be stuck as Katniss Everdeen til the day she dies! Oh yeah, we’re gonna reboot “Twilight” too even though everyone knows it’s a complete and total waste of time. But hey! Teen girls! Get em’ in the theater! Money! Money! Money! Money! Money! The last trailer however ended up giving me what I wanted. While the trailer is not like anything I’ve seen for say, “Ready Player One,” it definitely provided what could have been some solid ingredients for a proper “Wreck-It Ralph” installment.

Walking out of the movie, I gotta say, I’m shocked. This movie’s actually pretty great! There’s only one other movie this year that I’ve reacted similarly to, and that’s “Blockers.” It’s a movie with a less than stellar marketing campaign, a movie that a part of me thought was going to suck, and just something had I not been reviewing movies, I’d be more hesitant towards when it comes to spending my money at the cinema. It just so turns out that “Ralph Breaks the Internet” is a solid sequel, continuing the journeys of the characters many viewers knew and loved since the first installment, delivering a story that is just about as enjoyable as its predecessor. And in reality, it is a better version of “The Emoji Movie.”

For those of you who have watched “The Emoji Movie” or know what it is, you’d be aware that it takes place inside a cell phone, where all of the Emojis live. They live in a town called Textopolis and their life is basically being processed and sent through texts. Here in “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” we start off in the same little arcade people know from the first movie, where all of the video game characters live in harmony. As viewers probably know, their daily lives involve being the very characters they were designed to be. Ralph is the continuous building wrecker, Felix is the neverending building fixer, Vanellope is the nonstop racer, and Pac-Man… eats dots. Because that’s what yellow circles do apparently. Then boom! A little bit of chaos goes down, Vanellope’s game, “Sugar Rush,” has to be unplugged because the wheel breaks down. However, Ralph is Vanellope’s best friend, and we all know, best friends are supposed to be there for each other. So Ralph decides it would be a good idea to take a journey alongside Vanellope into the Internet to save her game. The world of the Internet in this movie almost reminds me of the space resort in Wall-E, everything just feels so sleek and it’s all very populated. It’s like a city that receives no pollution. You know, unless you look hard enough. The chemistry between Ralph and Vanellope truly shines in “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” and you can definitely tell they are best friends. This movie even tries to show the power of friendship and how unbreakable of a bond one can have with another person and I’d say the execution of that message is incredibly well done.

Moving away from our leads, let’s talk about one standout new character named Shank. She’s voiced by Gal Gadot and happens to be a street racer in a popular computer game. There’s this one game Ralph and Vanellope come across by the name of “Slaughter Race,” that’s where they meet this character. Seeing her and the gang who she happens to know turned out to be a bigger highlight in this film. Also, when they first meet her, there’s actually a very entertaining chase scene. Look out for it.

Speaking of new, let’s talk about something very old. Disney. I mentioned earlier that one of the trailers to “Ralph Breaks the Internet” was off-putting to me because it has an overload of Disney references. It just felt like a cheap way of pointing out how amazing Disney is. In reality, I think Disney’s kind of overrated. Sure, they own a lot of things I like, but there’s going to be a point where they ruin everything I love. They already partially ruined “Star Wars” for me so there is that. This all starts out somewhat commercialized, but some of it is well executed, and partially realisitc. There is a point where we cut to someone in a comic con panel-like setting. And they ask this question that is the stereotypical version of a deep question that a comic book nerd would ask. That’s all the detail I’ll give related to that, because there’s something else that’s pretty cool in relation to what I just said, but that was a definite highlight.

Another highlight when it comes to this is the scene where we see all the Disney princesses together. I thought at first that this was going to be completely cringeworthy. It was actually brilliant. You know how certain shows on Fox actually make fun of their own network and others associated with it?

THE SIMPSONS
FOX NEWS HOST: “Welcome to Fox News– your voice for evil.” (The Simpsons)

AMERICAN DAD!
ROGER: “Sure, we don’t report the news, we make it. Accuracy is so time-consuming. Fiction is the new fact.”

FAMILY GUY
LOIS: Where’d you hear that?
CHRIS: Fox News.
LOIS: Then it’s a lie. Everything Fox News says is a lie.
CHRIS: But this one’s true mom, you saw it with your own eyes and then you reported it.
LOIS: Even true things, once said on Fox News, become lies.

FUTURAMA
TOUR GUIDE LADY: “To your right, you’ll see 30th Century Fox studios. Fox uses those search lights to blind pilots, then film the resulting plane crashes.”
*SEARCHLIGHT SPOTS PLANE, EVENTUALLY ALLOWING IT TO CRASH
BENDER: *snaps photo* Neat!

Yeah, this is basically the Disney princess scene in a nutshell. Or should I say part of it, because that’s the part that’s going for humor. The other part is a bit more serious and plays a part in Vanellope’s overall arch in the movie. I don’t want to get too much into it, but this movie manages to poke fun at the princesses for their constant need to sing, their desire for men as if the concept of lusting after a guy is their only path in life, and they even throw a little jab at Pixar. If you have ever seen the movie “Brave” you’d know that the main character is Merida (Kelly MacDonald). All of the other princesses have a voice that pretty much anyone (at least any English-speaking individual in the US) can understand. But “Brave” takes place in Scotland and I remember awhile back I was talking to my grandmother or someone else and they said that Scottish people are difficult to understand. This is what I imagine would be a perfect stereotype from perhaps my grandmother’s vision towards the Scottish. OK, whatever, maybe Merida actually said something in Gaelic (according to IMDb), but still, it’s hard to comprehend regardless of whatever standard we are talking about. As a joke, one of the princesses reminds us as an audience, “she’s from the other studio.”

I said we’ll get to the product placement, so you know what? Let’s go nuts. It’s not as blatant or annoying as “The Emoji Movie,” but it’s still a thing. There’s a whole segment that takes place in eBay which is actually very entertaining. In fact, I won’t go into complete detail, but if there is one company, aside from Disney, that this movie is a feature-length commercial for, it’s eBay. There’s a whole segment where we see Ralph and Vanellope bidding against a user in the real world, but they don’t know how eBay works. They think the objective is to bid high numbers and leave it at that. They don’t understand that in reality, you have to bid high, but you also have to be cautious of how high you go and occasionally ask yourself, “how high is too high?”. There’s also this one character called The Eboy, who to mt surprise was played by Sean Giambrone. For those of you who don’t know him, he’s the lead kid in ABC’s “The Goldbergs,” one of my favorite sitcoms on TV right now. Essentially, without spoiling the movie, it is a big fat commercial for eBay. Thankfully, it’s done brilliantly, and not many other brands are coming in to make me have a headache. There are some notable instances here and there from companies such as Amazon, Google, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.

One surprise, considering YouTube, is the fact that it is not even in this movie. Think about it, Google, which owns YouTube, is getting a slice of the promotional cake, but YouTube is getting nothing but an attempt at humor. There is however a part of the movie that involves a fake video sharing site called Buzzztube. It is run by a girl named Yesss, played by Taraji P. Henson. The segment where we go through this happens to parody YouTube by saying things like “trends don’t last,” and “if you want to be popular, repeat whatever is popular.” Hey, Disney, that sounds familiar! To me, that’s one of those things that’s simply funny because it is true.

I don’t want to talk about too much more, because if I do, I’ll spoil some stuff that should be kept as secret. But there’s one thing about this movie that kind of surprised me. There are TWO end credit scenes. I guess having a random appearance from Marvel’s characters can technically make you qualify as a “Marvel movie.” Coincidentally, Stan Lee has a cameo in this film. RIP by the way.

In the end, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” was a pretty fun time. It has its flaws, but they are extremely minor and don’t leave the positives in the dust. And, by the way, I’m a guy, I like adrenaline rush type of movies like “Point Break” or “Baby Driver,” but I will admit, there was a point or two in this film, where I almost felt like tearing up. I won’t get specific, but it’s true. Is this film BETTER than the original? I honestly don’t know. I said in the beginning that this is a solid sequel to a lovely original film, but to be honest, I have not watched the original “Wreck-It Ralph” from start to finish since 2013 so I don’t even know if I can give a completely valid opinion at this point. However, much like the first movie at this point, I’m going to give “Ralph Breaks the Internet” an 8/10. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that it is December, and my head is spinning. I have tons of plans for the month after this and 2019 as a whole. But before we get to that, since I have my countdowns for my best and worst films of the year coming up, there will be some movies I will be watching which have been released this year that might not end up being reviewed. Who knows? Maybe that’s a lie. But I’ve done this for the past couple of years so it is kind of my tradition now. Plus, December’s a big month for me in terms of reviewing blockbusters and Oscar-bait titles. I need to focus on those, because, ya know, priorities. Be sure to follow Scene Before using your email or WordPress account that way you can stay tuned for more great content that unfortunately, breaks the internet less than an irrelevant woman’s sex tape. I want to know, did you see “Ralph Breaks the Internet?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your preferred choice between the “Wreck-It Ralph” movies? Let me know 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!

Marvel Cinematic Universe Will Continue For Decades, Not Surprising, Although Slightly Concerning

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! I have to say right now, this week may be the craziest I’ve ever witnessed when it comes to comic book movie news. Nothing new is coming out this weekend, however when it comes to news, it’s absolutely insane. I’m actually gonna cover multiple segments here, however only one portion here matters more than others. I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s an idea, when introduced at the time, seemed original by the standards of film. It has now inspired other cinematic universes such as the “Dark Universe” from Universal, the DCEU (Detective Comics Extended Universe), and the Monsterverse Warner is focusing on at the moment. “Thor: Ragnarok,” which will be released in November, is going to be the seventeenth movie in the universe. That’s not the only future movie planned, there’s gonna be a couple of “Avengers” sequels coming up, “Ant-Man” is getting another standalone film, Captain Marvel is gonna have a movie, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is gonna have a sequel, and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” will be happening. Speaking of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” let’s talk about that.

If you don’t know me personally, I enjoyed the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie. The vibe worked perfectly, the comedy landed for the most part, and it took characters that not many people, including some people who read comic books out of enthusiasm, didn’t know much about. Not many folks, until 2014, heard about Starlord, not many people knew about Gamora, they weren’t aware of Groot, they didn’t ever think about Drax, nobody traditionally thought of Rocket as a badass raccoon. What Marvel was able to do with these characters kind of amazes me. As far as their movies go, this might be their most family friendly one yet.

As much as I enjoyed the first “Guardians,” the sequel was big letdown for me. It may have been due to my hype for the film, but then again, I anticipated “Wonder Woman” and “Dunkirk” to death and look how those movies turned out. It’s by no means a bad movie, nor is it the worst in the MCU, but it is not a great movie either, it’s just passable. The humor didn’t land as much, although some worked, like the Taserface gag and the Mary Poppins joke. Some of the characters were not as cool as they were in the first movie, although the movie did get a better villain and they did improve the character of Drax in some ways.

*UNPOPULAR OPINION WARNING, FLAME SHIELD READY*

Baby Groot is by far one of the single most annoying characters I’ve seen in anything! I get he’s small, and supposed to be cute, but this film literally tries to force it down your throat! It almost reminds me of the stupid kid the lead characters have from the piece of crap they call “Sharknado!” It’s like watching YouTube, you’re watching cat videos, and the person taking the video is constantly saying look at this cat playing the piano! YOU MADE YOUR F*CKING POINT! YOU SAID IT ONCE! YOU ALREADY TOLD ME! I ALREADY KNOW! It’s like if BB-8 from “Star Wars Episode VII” was constantly shoved into random scenes just because he’s cute. And granted, the cuteness factor was there, and a lot of people see him as a cute droid, but he’s there when the plot needs him, he’s not randomly in shots just shoving jelly beans down his gullet. Wait a minute that makes no sense, droids can’t eat or drink. Also now that I think about it, trees don’t eat jelly beans either. Whatever, you probably get my point! I’m sorry if you hate me, but this is how I feel.

If you are a mega fan of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies, both 1 & 2, and you don’t know the main man to thank, I’ll have you know the man you probably should be thanking is James Gunn, he directed and wrote the first and second films which are out right now, and he’s also working on the third one. The man definitely knows how to direct and write these movies based on how the actors deliver their lines and how well the humor plays out. Recently, he did a stream on Facebook Live, and something… …interesting came up. When he was on the livestream, a bunch of users asked some questions, and one user asked if Richard Rider/Nova would ever be put in the MCU films. At one point when answering the question, Gunn uttered this: “One of the things I’m doing with creating “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” it will take place after the next two “Avengers” movies and it will help to set up the next 10, 20 years of Marvel movies. It’s going to really expand the cosmic universe.”

That’s right, you’re probably getting at least a decade’s worth of Marvel Cinematic Universe films. How do I feel about this? While I love Marvel and I’m excited to what they have in store, I’m simultaneously worried. The Marvel Cinematic Universe began back in 2008 with “Iron Man,” since then it has expanded with many films loved by audiences everywhere. Some people still say they prefer superhero films outside the MCU such as the older “Spider-Man” films, Nolan’s “Batman” trilogy, Donner’s “Superman,” or movies in the “X-Men” franchise. We’ve had film franchises go on longer than the MCU, such as the “Bourne” series, “James Bond,” “Fast & Furious,” and “Star Wars.” Although I’m noticing that compared to these franchises, the MCU is producing movies more rapidly and when it is compared to a franchise like “Bourne,” you can tell that “Bourne” might have an intended stopping point. The MCU is basically the cinematic universe version of “The Neverending Story.” Me personally, if I had a cinematic universe, and I actually do have one in mind if I ever have the opportunity to make films in Hollywood, I would end it at a point. I’d give it a sense of finality, but I only wonder if the folks behind the MCU will ever feel the same way.

While I am concerned about the franchise going on forever and ever, allow me to address some positives. Starting off the positives, this isn’t Michael Bay’s “Transformers” nor is it “Sharknado.” Also, Marvel has clearly shown how it can make stellar movies that people want to see. A lot of their flicks have been well received by both average moviegoers and critics. When it comes to comic book fans, they do a fine job appreciating that particular audience for the most part. Some notable mistakes they made over the years has usually been with the villains. With the exception of villains like Ego from “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” or the Vulture from “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” the MCU hasn’t really featured terrific villains in their films. This is why I love “Captain America: Civil War” so much, it didn’t have a villain, it had sides, neither good or evil. Another notable flaw many people have with the MCU is in “Doctor Strange.” You may remember the Ancient One in that movie, she was played by Tilda Swinton because it’s an example of whitewashing. While the MCU may not be perfect, it certainly has a lot of likability to it. Despite saying that, I wonder how much it has left.

The MCU has been around for nine years and people still enjoy it, but what if it goes on forever and ever to a point where people begin to become tired of it? If you ask me, I’m not exactly tired of it, but I am starting to think the series might go on longer than it should. Keep in mind, Marvel is owned by Disney, the Bill Gates of movie studios. Disney basically owns us now since they have Marvel, Lucasfilm, Pixar, and their own animations along with those animations that are being remade into live-action form. The top 5 films of 2016 in terms of box office performance are all Disney films. “Captain America: Civil War,” “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “Finding Dory,” “Zootopia,” and “The Jungle Book.” Right now, three of this year’s films owned by Disney are in the top 10 in terms of box office performance. Those films are “Beauty and the Beast,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.” I’m not counting “Spider-Man: Homecoming” here because despite how it is in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Sony distributed the movie. Disney has also had successes with 2015 films like “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” and “Inside Out.” If you look at what Disney is doing, you may see that they’re making buttloads of money. They now own all of these things we, as viewers, know about. Although I want to make a comparison to this and a popular video game franchise you guys may know about.

Have you guys ever played the “Call of Duty” games? I don’t play as much as other people do, but I know people who play the games. If you know a bit about them, you may know that they do this thing where they release a new game every year. We’re getting Marvel movies, quicker than we’re getting “Call of Duty” games. Keep in mind, many people say that some of the older games like “Modern Warfare” and “Modern Warfare 2” rock whereas newer games like “Advanced Warfare” and “Infinite Warfare” suck. If there’s one thing I noticed, personally, it’s that I thought Marvel movies got better as they went on. the oldest Marvel Cinematic Universe movie I currently have a 10/10 for is “Iron Man 3” which was released on May 3, 2013. Then there was “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Ant-Man,” and “Captain America: Civil War,” which is currently my favorite movie in the MCU. Also, you have to keep in mind, I don’t witness many people talking about the first “Call of Duty,” the second “Call of Duty,” anything along those lines. While it seems that a lot of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films are widely talked about today, I could tell you that when “The Avengers” came out, this is when a majority of people flocked to the theater to see these movies. Also keep in mind, this came out in 2012, the same year that “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “The Dark Knight Rises” came out. Both “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “The Dark Knight Rises” were successful at the box office, in fact in some cases, “The Dark Knight Rises” may have gotten more positive reception than “The Avengers,” the case isn’t really the same for “The Amazing Spider-Man.” Spider-Man and Batman are both argued among nerds all over the world between which is the better hero, they both get their own movie in the same year, and they are beat by “The Avengers.” Although when you think about it, it makes sense, you get more superheroes, some you may know, some you may not know, and the idea of “The Avengers,” unlike “Batman” and “Spider-Man,” hasn’t really been done much on screen. Although the “Fantastic Four” movies have more than one superhero and look how those movies turned out. However when you look back before and realize what “Spider-Man” did in terms of box office performance in 2002, such as being the only film to make $100 million in its opening weekend at the time, and how “The Dark Knight” not only won the box office in 2008, but avoided a comic book movie from having the slightest bit of childishness, this is kind of interesting to think about. The Marvel Cinematic Universe did have some successes before “The Avengers” like with the first two “Iron Man” films, and while 2011 brought “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger,” they didn’t quite reach the top 10, making them get a lower score in the box office than “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1…” (sigh). Right now, if you can’t tell already, the box office isn’t a problem for the MCU, and I don’t think it will be in the future. However, I wonder about their movies in terms of quality.

There’s a saying that all good things come to an end. We all know we are going to die one day. OK, I’m not saying all people are good, just look at Adolf Hitler! You know movie franchises that have technically come to conclusions in the past? Just look at “Back to the Future,” “Jaws,” or “Revenge of the Nerds.” The people behind these movies knew when to stop, “Back to the Future” stopped at three movies suggesting that the characters’ futures are what they make them, and all three franchises according to popular opinion have never made a movie better than their first installment. You know what’s still going today? “Transformers,” “Sharknado,” “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” and “Fifty Shades.” Traditionally, these movies are not well received, however they are popular over a certain demographic. “Transformers” continues to make lots of money even though people are literally paying to see the same thing every time, “Sharknado” is on TV, but people watch it because it’s “so bad it’s good,” which I thought at first with the original, but upon rewatch it became worse, and the later installments are just plain awful, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” is popular among families and kids, including some who know about the books, and while it was fun to watch as a kid, it became worse the more I thought about it. Not to mention their newest installment, if you haven’t heard about it, may be one of the most forced sequels in movie history, and for “Fifty Shades,” while it may be popular among women and those who have read the books, it wasn’t well received because of its characters, along with the fact that it is technically “porn” and yet the movie fails to deliver on that for a lot of people. Also ladies, for those of you crushing on Jamie Dornan, who plays Christian Grey in the series, the actor says he didn’t want himself nude in the movie. If you’re gonna make a movie for women, that’s technically a porno, KNOW YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE! If you ask me, I haven’t seen any of the “Fifty Shades” movies, nor have I read the books, so I can’t really say my true thoughts about it, but I honestly don’t want to see or read it unless I have a girlfriend who wants to watch it and she feels like watching it with me, if it means I get to go to a free screening, or if someone is paying me to watch the movie. With Marvel, I can enjoy myself throughout the process of watching one of their movies, but how much longer will it take for me to not enjoy myself?

So far, two movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been released this year, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” While I enjoyed parts of both movies, I thought both needed improvement. I said what I needed to about “Guardians 2,” but I didn’t really say much about “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” I thought they aced Peter Parker and Spider-Man for the most part, it could have been funnier, they had Iron Man in the movie but they played their cards right and kept the movie from turning into “Iron Man 4,” the AI annoyed me, and the villain was cool. I gave the movie a 7/10 in my review, and I said it would probably drop to a 6. For the record, I gave “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” a 6/10, which I also gave to “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” which was fun at times, but ultimately a disappointment. The only film I gave a lower score to in the MCU was for “Captain America: The First Avenger,” which was a 5/10. Based on this you can tell that Marvel is capable of making good movies, but every year since 2013, I’ve seen one Marvel film that is worthy of a 10/10 for me. In my top 10 MCU films, I have only one movie that is a 7/10 in my book, all the others are 8/10 at minimum. If “Thor: Ragnarok” isn’t a 10/10, then the streak I’m talking about is officially over. If you ask me, I’m somewhat excited as a Marvel movie lover for “Thor: Ragnarok,” but at the same time, worried. It looks like it could be a good movie, but the marketing makes it look like “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Now, I like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but for a movie like this, I want a darker tone. You have Planet Hulk in this movie, it looks like there’s gonna be a lot of destruction on Asgard, and yet in the trailer they’re playing “Immigrant” by Led Zeppelin. Good song, but it makes me worried here. You can still have humor in the movie, you can still have flashy effects, and granted the effects look stunning in the trailers, but I want a darker vibe than what I’m getting when this movie comes out. Now, I’ll say if “Thor: Ragnarok” is a 9/10 or 8/10, that’d still be cool. Although if it’s a 7/10 or lower, I’d start to worry.

Also, you have to consider the fact that these movies are based on comic books, so they might be taking material from the comic books, and turning that into movie material. That’s fine, but part of me wonders, will we ever run out of good material to copy? I don’t read comic books all that much, but this is something I wonder similarly as a movie watcher. I wonder if we will stop seeing original material and start always seeing unoriginal material. Although comic books have been going on for years and we are still getting lots of new stuff, but they always do unoriginal stuff. They do stuff based on other sources, they do a new series or a spinoff with certain characters, or they might do gender or race swaps. If we want to keep these movies going, we either need to introduce new characters that haven’t been written in comic form or we need to get people writing new comic book material. This has been done before though, you guys know Harley Quinn? Her first appearance was actually in “Batman: The Animated Series.”

And if you think that comic book movies are stopping anytime soon, you’re completely under a rock. People continue to watch those movies, people keep making them, and they’re even making movies on villains, kind of like they did with “Suicide Squad.” That’s not all, Sony is coming out with a “Venom” movie in 2018 with Tom Hardy as the lead actor, and there’s also gonna be a “Joker” movie that I hear is gonna be in a different universe than the DCEU. In fact tonight, just when I thought I covered everything in this post, I took a break, thought I’d add some finishing touches a little later, ONLY TO FIND OUT MATT REEVES’S “BATMAN” MOVIE ISN’T GOING TO BE PART OF THE DCEU EITHER! What is happening? It’s becoming like “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” only instead of running out of food on an Island in the Atlantic, we’re running out of new and fresh movies quite possibly throughout the world, and instead of just having sardines to eliminate our hunger, we just have comic book films to fulfill our movie watching desires!

I love movies. I love comic book movies. I love Marvel Studios. Although at the same time, I’m concerned about its future. Maybe they’ll continue on creating original content and keep rocking it not only at the box office, not only on home video, but also in the minds of the viewers. As much as Marvel Studios makes good movies, there may be a day where it goes the way of McDonald’s, by that I mean there will be a MCU movie on every corner, and it may just be processed as opposed to crafted. Guys, I don’t think “Thor: Ragnarok” will be great, admittedly I’m excited for “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp.” If “Thor: Ragnarok” is good, there’s less of a chance I have of going into these MCU films in the future with a bit of skepticism. So I want to know, what are your thoughts on this? Also, what is a movie you want to see from Marvel Studios, but hasn’t happened yet?

Also I want to break a little announcement to you all, while I still plan to do reviews of new movies, I also want to tackle some older ones too. If you recall me doing my “Spider-Man” review series along with my Christopher Nolan review series, I’d like to let you know I’m doing another one. If you think about big action stars, I’d traditionally think about Liam Neeson (Taken, Non-Stop), Jason Statham (The Transporter, Death Race), Keanu Reeves (John Wick, The Matrix), and Vin Diesel (xXx, The Fast and the Furious). Another one I think of is someone who I’m starting a series on, that my friends is Tom Cruise. Over the years, Cruise has proven himself to be a very talented actor in many ways, and I’m gonna talk about three movies he stars in. I’m gonna be starting off with “The Last Samurai.” At some point I will include a review for “Risky Business,” I’m not sure where I’ll put it, either as my second or third review, but that will be an intention in the future. I will also be reviewing another movie Cruise is in, but I’m not sure what it is yet, you’ll find out when the review comes around! Stay tuned for those reviews, and Marvel Studios, if you are planning on continuing the universe for another 10 or 20 years, focus on the movies first, and focus on the money later. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!