Black Adam (2022): The Hierarchy of Power in the DC Universe Does Not Change All That Much

“Black Adam” is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (The Shallows, The Commuter) and stars Dwayne Johnson (Red Notice, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), Aldis Hodge (Straight Outta Compton, Hidden Figures), Noah Centineo (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, The Fosters), Sarah Shahi (Person of Interest, The L Word), Marwan Kenzari (Aladdin, The Old Guard), Quintessa Swindell (Euphoria, Trinkets), Bodhi Sabongui (A Million Little Things, The Baby-Sitters Club), and Pierce Brosnan (Mamma Mia!, The November Man). This film is the latest installment to the Detective Comics Extended Universe, well before the recent transition under James Gunn and Peter Safran. Nevertheless, the film follows an individual who is freed from a tomb after 5,000 years. Being a fish out of water, said individual must adapt to a new world with new friends and foes.

2022 has been an okay year for comic book movies. I liked most of the comic book movies that have come out this year. There have been some duds like “DC League of Super-Pets” and especially “Morbius.” However, the genre has had more wins than losses so far. I will say, regardless of their quality, this year has given me a reason to look forward to various comic book movies like “The Batman” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” The expectations I had for those movies were at the very least, notable. As for how they turned out, both were good, but not great. Although “Black Adam” is an interesting case in regards to hype unlike those two movies. While “Black Adam” may not be as popular as say Wonder Woman, this project had a lot of time put into it, so I was curious to see how it would turn out after all these years. The development of “Black Adam” had been known since the late 2000s. Since then, Johnson has been a busy professional, but I am glad to see him come back to work on this property. At the same time, was the wait too long? It is possible, because every other year, the idea of a “Black Adam” movie became an idea where I would “believe it when I see it.” Well, it is 2022, and now I have seen it. What did I think of it?

Ehh… I guess it is okay…

If you want me to be real, my expectations for “Black Adam,” despite the amount of time that has been put into it, were not high. I was not expecting to be disappointed. Although the marketing was fine at best. When it comes to Dwayne Johnson, I have respect for him as a personality, but he does not always make the best movies. Sure, there are some standouts like “Central Intelligence,” some of the “Fast & Furious” installments, and the “Jumanji” movies. Although he has also made quite a few stinkers like “Rampage,” “Skyscraper,” and “Red Notice.” Despite being arguably the biggest and strongest movie star in the world, he has had quite a few punches he had to roll with. Even so, I find Johnson charming and I look forward to some of the things he does, even if it ends up sucking.

From a general audience perspective, this is the kind of movie that should sell. It is based on comics, which has been a hot trend in recent years. It stars The Rock, who has also been on trend based on his leading and supporting roles. Not surprisingly, the film already made over $250 million worldwide. It may not be making as much money as certain previous DC films, but the film is on track to become one of the biggest of Johnson’s career. Just because the box office is big, at least until “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” slaughters the movie next weekend, does not mean the movie has the strength of Johnson himself. Although I can see why this movie is doing so well with audiences. The action is bombastic, the scope is enormous, and there are some genuinely fun moments to be had here.

This movie is fun, but it is the kind of fun that would I also use to describe certain fast food restaurants. It is great for getting together with your friends to experience something that is it not going to revolutionize the world, but instead something you will mostly enjoy the moment it is in front of you. The dialogue is some of the cheesiest of its genre but the visual effects are pretty enough to have an attractive flair.

Dwayne Johnson, after many years of advertising this movie, saying it will happen, and finally delivering it to the masses, dons the suit of Black Adam, an anti-hero whose main trait is changing his mood either between brooding or stoic. While this may sound like a jab at the performance, I will give Dwayne Johnson some credit for his performance. Every time I watch a performance from Johnson, it comes off like he is playing the same person. Specifically, himself, or some alternate version of such an individual. It is just like Kevin Hart. It is just like Melissa McCarthy. It is just like Tiffany Haddish. Johnson has a tendency to play characters from one movie to the next who would come off as interchangeable if they stood next to each other. While Black Adam may not be my favorite of his characters he has played, Johnson seems to emit a different vibe or deliver another tone when portraying the anti-hero. Maybe it is because Johnson is often seen playing characters whose motivations for good happen to be clear. He is trying to help friends, his family. This time around, he plays a character who is comparatively psychotic compared to say Bob Stone in “Central Intelligence.” Though it is slightly different from some of other roles, I admire Johnson for attempting to play a character with this angle in mind.

When it comes to this film’s characters, that is the element of the film, as disposable as it is, that I am probably going to remember the most. But it is probably for reasons that would work more when it comes to marketing than the film itself. There is nothing wrong with star power, but I am likely going to remember this film because of that more than what happens in the film. I have a strong feeling that the only reason I will remember who the Justice Society is a year from now is the fact that renowned actor Pierce Brosnan plays Dr. Fate. No offense to Hawkman, Atom-Smasher, and Cyclone along with their discount Xaiver Institute where they reside. If Pierce Brosnan was not in the Justice Society, this movie would be just a tad more forgettable than it really is.

“Black Adam” feels like a comic book movie that tries to belong in the 2020s, especially with its attempts to expand a tonally inconsistent cinematic universe. But at the same time, it cannot help but stretch itself back to previous decades. Select scenes reminded me of a wild 90s movie with goofy edits or some notorious 80s film from Cannon Productions like the Sylvester Stallone-starring “Over the Top.” The latter is actually a pretty good example here because of the unlikely bond between the protagonist and a young boy. Although when it comes to this similarity, “Over the Top,” which is not a great movie to begin with, somehow delivers a more appealing edition of such a bond.

Despite my digs at the film, which it earns, I had a halfway decent time with “Black Adam.” But if you had to ask me what my favorite part of “Black Adam” was, I would have a troubling time coming up with a definitive answer. This is not to say the movie is awful. It is to say that maybe that when it comes to DC fare, this is an addition that delivers. but maybe not to its full potential. Even though I did not think the movie was perfect, I had a “favorite part” in “The Batman,” specifically the chase between Batman and the Penguin at the movie’s midway point. I had a favorite part in “Joker.” I had a favorite part in “Wonder Woman.” Despite its flaws, I had a favorite part in “Batman v. Superman.” To me, “Black Adam” is going to be remembered for its wins. But when I use the word “remembered” in this case, I might be a bit generous with that, because there are better comic book movies this year. As far as movies with Dwayne Johnson go, this is not the worst he has done, but it is certainly not his strongest effort either.

If anything, this movie comes off as a visual experience. When I watch movies, I refuse to turn off my brain because as someone who reviews movies, I need to stay focused on what it is in front of me. That said, “Black Adam” feels like a turn off your brain kind of movie. Not to mention a noisy one at that. If you watch this in a premium cinema, I would not be surprised if your auditorium shakes, or at least comes close to doing so. “Black Adam” is basically this year’s “Venom: Let There be Carnage.” I liked both movies, but not for reasons that would make want to watch them in the next month or two. They’re noisy, but they’re also noisy in a way that appeals to the senses. The dialogue is not the greatest, but it has its moments. Although “Venom: Let There be Carnage” in this case would be a better movie because as a turn off your brain movie, it feels simpler. Possibly because of its tightly knit runtime and pacing.

In short, did the hierarchy of power in the DC Universe change? The answer, not so much.

In the end, there is not much to say about “Black Adam” other than it is a movie that easily entertains, but also hardly gives a reason to have staying power. “Black Adam” is not the worst DC movie in the ongoing cinematic universe. That dishonor belongs to “Wonder Woman 1984.” Although it comes off as a massive step down to the previous DCEU film, “The Suicide Squad.” I was not expecting this film to be as killer as “The Suicide Squad,” but I was hoping that it would be good. To say it is good would not be a lie, depending on what your definition of good is. But to say it is memorable is another thing. If I need background noise, “Black Adam” is an okay choice. But if I want to watch a DC movie, I will stick with “The Dark Knight.” Although I would still give this a watch in the theater if you really want something to see, but maybe for a matinee price. I am going to give “Black Adam” a 6/10.

“Black Adam” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for the brand new movie “Call Jane.” I went to go see the film in theaters last weekend. It is not getting a lot of publicity, but it is a movie that had my curiosity with Elizabeth Banks in the lead role. Whether it had my attention, is another story. 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 “Black Adam?” What did you think about it? Or, who is your favorite movie star working today? For me, the rule is simple. Give me Tom Cruise or give me death. Let me know your picks down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Don’t Worry Darling (2022): Olivia Wilde Delivers a Dose of Harry Styles Over Any and All Substance

“Don’t Worry Darling” is directed by Olivia Wilde (Booksmart, Tron: Legacy), who also stars in the film as Bunny. This film also stars Florence Pugh (Midsommar, Black Widow), Harry Styles (Dunkirk, Eternals), Gemma Chan (Eternals, Raya and the Last Dragon), KiKi Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk, The Old Guard), Nick Kroll (Big Mouth, Sausage Party), and Chris Pine (Wonder Woman, Star Trek). “Don’t Worry Darling” follows a 1950s housewife who becomes worried about her loving husband, or more specifically, his company, that could hiding disturbing secrets.

“Don’t Worry Darling” is Olivia Wilde’s sophomore outing as a feature director. Wilde previously directed “Booksmart,” which in addition to receiving positive feedback from moviegoers and critics, did a fine job at the box office with a $25 million return against a $6 million budget. Wilde showcased her ability to make a laugh-inducing comedy while not breaking the bank. As for my thoughts on the movie, I liked it. I do not think it is the funniest movie of its respective year, but it gave me some decent laughs. Based on her experience of making a funny movie, it made me curious as to what she could do next.

Now that the next thing is here, I cannot stop thinking about it. It bogs my mind like I would not believe!

No, not the movie! The press for the movie! Why is everyone so hyped up about it? Well, everyone likes drama. If reality television and gossip has continued to prove it over the years, people like drama. And the buildup to “Don’t Worry Darling” has provided plenty of it. Between Shia LeBeouf once being attached to the movie, Florence Pugh not promoting the film, and a whole charade between Harry Styles and Chris Pine over spit, “Don’t Worry Darling” was shaping up to be this year’s most entertaining story. Except it was not the story written for the screen. Regardless, I planned on seeing this movie. The marketing was creepy yet interesting enough to keep my attention. The cinematography looked really good. And for the most part, the cast was good. Florence Pugh, Chris Pine, Nick Kroll. There are some good names in here.

As for my thoughts on “Don’t Worry Darling,” the first two acts are delightfully charming and kept me intrigued throughout. Harry Styles has a ways to go as an actor, but it is a great setup for this movie’s world.

Then the turd– Sorry, THIRD act happened.

I cannot fully go into why I despise the third act and how this movie concludes because I would ultimately be spoiling the movie. That said, how these things go down are ridiculous to say the least. Does it involve something that could potentially be out of left field? You could say that. Was that the point? Perhaps. Does it change the fact that what happened felt ridiculous? Absolutely not. I do not mind out of left field scenarios if said scenario is executed well. This one is the exact opposite. Around the 60 to 90 minute mark, this movie went in one direction, and that is down.

This movie is like ordering a pizza that you will never eat. The first act is like opening up Uber Eats and getting excited over the pizza you want for dinner. Solid setup, this may be going somewhere swell… The second act is the equivalent of placing your order. You’re intrigued, you’re excited, what could go wrong? Except for absolutely everything! Because we get to the third act, where something completely unexpected happens! The restaurant blew up, and now you have no pizza! Only disappointment and frustration.

“Don’t Worry Darling” is certainly one of the better looking films of the year. The color palette of the 1950s suburban setting is poppy and felt like a pure escape. I thought the cinematography would look good based on the trailer and I would say I was not disappointed. Matthew Libatique deserves a pat on the back at the least. Everything from the costumes to the sets to the overall aesthetic of the film is top notch. It felt like another world at times. While this movie nails its looks, its story leaves much to be desired.

The cast of “Don’t Worry Darling” all deliver solid performances. This should not come as a surprise as the movie contains a fair number of big name actors, and Olivia Wilde even does a good job as her respective character. The only actor who I think struggled in terms of how seriously I could take him is Harry Styles (left). Maybe it is because of his recognizability in pop culture, regardless of how little I care for his music. Styles is not the worst actor of all time. If last year’s “Space Jam: A New Legacy” showcases anything, he is better than LeBron James. Plus he once had a supporting role in Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” that served its purpose. Although every scene he is in, I would hear a line out of someone like Florence Pugh or Chris Pine, I feel like they are in the moment, whereas Styles is trying to keep up but he does not quite have it. When it comes to recognizable actors giving corny performances, Styles is thankfully less infuriating than say Tom Hanks as Tom Parker in “Elvis,” a laughable, yet terrifyingly annoying performance I have still yet to get out of my head. Speaking of “Elvis,” “Don’t Worry Darling” feels like another version of that film. Both are from Warner Bros., both are released in 2022, and both have a lead actor that could almost be considered the saving grace.

Whereas Harry Styles may not be the hot ticket this awards season, Florence Pugh is certainly a contender for the upcoming mounds of gold. Given this movie’s controversy, who knows what will happen? But if the Oscars were tomorrow, I would debatably cast a vote for Pugh. I liked her previously in movies like “Black Widow,” “Little Women,” and the significantly underappreciated “Fighting with My Family,” but “Don’t Worry Darling” may be the best performance of Pugh’s career so far. Pugh is still young, so there is a good chance she could eventually deliver an even better performance than this one, but to have this great of a performance now is incredible, especially when I am thinking about it more than almost any other one I have seen this year.

“Don’t Worry Darling” comes with a fairly unique setting and cast of characters, and its concept is certainly one of the quirkier I have seen in a movie this year. Although as I watched this movie and heard certain lines and witnessed particular happenings, it weirdly, of all things, reminded me of Disney+’s “WandaVision.” This feels weird to say, but when it comes to this type of plot, a Marvel miniseries somehow did this better. It had its flaws, but unlike “Don’t Worry Darling,” the positives outweighed the negatives.

Much like “Morbius,” and “Jurassic World: Dominion,” if you go on the Rotten Tomatoes page for “Don’t Worry Darling,” you will notice a humungous divide between the critic and audience scores. Also much like “Morbius” and “Jurassic World: Dominion,” as I watched “Don’t Worry Darling,” I felt myself leaning towards the side of the critics. But unlike those other two films, I felt like there was a recipe for something grand when the movie started. Again, if Harry Styles were not in this movie, I would have taken it a tad more seriously. Although when the movie started, I reminisced over the low Rotten Tomatoes score I recall this movie having, and I thought, “Are these critics on drugs?!”. Despite everything I said about Harry Styles, I should not underestimate his fanbase, because my theater had plenty of young women inside. Unfortunately though, this movie is not that great, and by the third act, it is ultimately a case of Harry Styles over substance.

In the end, “Don’t Worry Darling” is quite worrisome. For those of you who have not seen “Booksmart,” I do recommend you give it a watch at some point. It is funny, raunchy, but also heartfelt. Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein play a likable duo. If you want a showcase of what Olivia Wilde could bring to the table as a filmmaker, “Booksmart” is a better case of her talent. I do not have plans to watch “Don’t Worry Darling” a second time. This movie is like a slot machine. Two reels spin and land on the bonus symbol, there’s a big tease for the third reel to land a bonus, only to land on a 7. Florence Pugh gives an Oscar-worthy performance that made me look forward to her future roles as an actress. The film looks pretty and there clever concepts in it, but they were not well executed. For these reasons, in addition to having the one of the most jaw-droppingly bewildering and unsatisfying endings of the year, I am going to give “Don’t Worry Darling” a 4/10.

Although before we move on, the public drama behind “Don’t Worry Darling” and its crew seems to work in the film’s favor, whether Warner Bros. or Olivia Wilde chooses to admit it or not. Because at my screening, I sat next to two older women. When the movie ended, the woman next to me said she came to this movie with someone else because of the drama surrounding it. The drama had her curiosity, and now the movie had her attention. So, for Warner Bros., this could be a happy accident. It is unfortunate that this movie, at least when it first releases, will likely be associated with said drama regardless of its quality. The question is, how will it be viewed years from now? That remains a mystery.

“Don’t Worry Darling” is now playing in theatres everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed this review, stay tuned because I have more coming! Pretty soon I will be sharing my thoughts on the brand new murder mystery, “See How They Run!” Stay tuned for that, and also stay tuned for the movies I will be reviewing for my official Steven Spielberg Month! This week we will be talking about “Close Encounters of the Third Kind!” 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 “Don’t Worry Darling?” What did you think about it? Or, did you see “Booksmart?” Tell me your thoughts on that! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Elvis (2022): A Movie So Bad That Not Only Was Tom Hanks Unable To Save It, He Sullied It

“Elvis” is directed by Baz Luhrmann (Romeo + Juliet, The Great Gatsby) and stars Austin Butler (Life Unexpected, Switched at Birth), Tom Hanks (Toy Story, Cast Away), Olivia DeJonge (The Visit, The Society), Helen Thomson (Bad Mothers, Stupid, Stupid Man), and Richard Roxborough (Moulin Rouge!, Mission: Impossible II). This film is a biopic on the iconic musician Elvis Presley. The movie providers glimmers of his childhood in addition to his life in music and movies. There is also a shining of light on Presley’s relationship with his manager, Tom Parker.

I was looking forward to “Elvis” ever since I saw the trailer. It looked electric, zazzy, and colorful. I also will admit that I enjoy listening to Elvis Presley every once in a while as “Suspicious Minds” is sometimes a notable song choice of mine when I am writing. I am not a hardcore Elvis fanatic, but I was quite curious to get to know more about the iconic musician’s life and perhaps see a killer performance from Austin Butler. While Butler has had plenty of acting experience, this is undoubtedly the role that will make him a star, and not just because he’s playing a star. This leads me to my most prominent positive of the film, which is that Austin Butler does not waste a second on the screen.

Similar to how Rami Malek practically transformed into Freddie Mercury in 2018’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Austin Butler gives a performance for the ages. In fact one thing that I think Butler does better in his performance as Presley compared to Malek as Mercury is that we actually hear Butler sing. There are snippets of the movie where Presley’s actual voice can be heard, but unlike Malek in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the singing sequences in “Elvis” were not completely lip synced. Butler also looks like a king in this film. Speaking of which, one notable element of Elvis Presley that I often think of is like some modern musicians like Megan Thee Stallion or Cardi B, there is some definite sex appeal that had been accurately reflected in the movie. Sometimes this comes with the idea that the sexualization goes too far. Young people, especially women, are seen in this movie losing their minds the moment they see Presley himself. I liked this aspect of the film, I thought it was perfectly showcased.

Butler gives a transformative, otherworldly portrayal of a musician who has not been alive since the 1970s, but somehow has risen from the dead just to stand in front me as I eat popcorn for two and a half hours. It is undoubtedly one of the best performances of the year. I think they made a good choice on casting Butler, not only because he’s a great actor, but unlike say Harry Styles, who was in the running to play the character, Butler is way less recognizable, which I think comes off as less of a distraction. This adds, again, more of a transformation factor than anything else. Although I was delighted to know that before “Elvis,” Butler’s most recent outing was in the insanely good “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” where he slays as Tex Watson. There is no denying it, Austin Butler was perfect in “Elvis.”

Too bad almost every other aspect of the movie pales in comparison.

Speaking of performances, let’s talk about Tom Hanks. Unlike Austin Butler, it is almost certain that most moviegoers would watch a movie just because Tom Hanks is in it. He is great in everything he does, except for “Elvis.” Tom Hanks plays Elvis Presley’s sleazy, gambling addict manager by the name of Tom Parker. Judging this performance is incredibly difficult. Because on one hand, Tom Hanks plays a much different role than I am used to seeing him in. This is a rare instance where Hanks actually plays an antagonist, so I appreciate that Hanks is trying to drift away from always being typecast as Mr. Nice Guy. But this is not only not Hanks’s bread and butter, he delivers a performance that feels weirdly over the top and stereotypical. Granted, it kind of matches the tone of the film, which almost feels animated at times. When I think of Elvis Presley, the artist, I think of lively, vibrant music that often lights up a room. Tom Hanks definitely feels animated. As for lively and vibrant, not so much. And that accent got on my nerves real fast…

Let’s put it this way, Tom Hanks has had a long and prestigious career as an actor to the point where he has done many great films like “Toy Story,” “Saving Mr. Banks,” and fairly recently, the somewhat overlooked “News of the World.” Of course he has had bad days at the office. Just look at “The Circle,” a movie that almost ruins the reputations of several iconic names in Hollywood like Emma Watson and Patton Oswalt. Even in a bad or fairly mediocre Tom Hanks movie like “Sully,” Hanks is never the problem. He gives it his all. “Elvis” is a rare instance that not only is the movie atrocious, but Tom Hanks gives one of the worst performances I have seen from him. I do not completely blame Hanks. I think in terms of makeup and costume design, his character looked transformative. Hanks himself, once again, sort of diverged from being a “nice guy” that not only audiences are used to seeing, but people claim him to actually be in real life. The directing and script are the real problem here. Tom Parker comes off as one of the most stereotypical and cliche characters of his kind in cinematic history.

It also feels weird knowing that this movie is called “Elvis” and yet it almost feels more like “The Tom Parker Chronicles” in disguise. I mean, sure, in a way, Parker was a monumental part of Elvis Presley’s legacy. But when I go into “Elvis,” I want, well, Elvis, taking up as much spotlight as he can. The movie IS about Elvis, but it almost does not feel that way at times. I am almost surprised we did not see Tom Parker in a mid-credits scene suddenly walk out on stage, bedazzled, singing a snippet of “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

Here is a fun fact for you all, so far, the only movie in history to have not just been nominated, but win both an Oscar and a Razzie is the 1987 film “Wall Street.” Michael Douglas won an Oscar for Best Actor and Daryl Hannah won a Razzie for Worst Supporting Actress. This is a shot in the dark prediction, because awards season is technically still on the rise. Although I think there is a solid chance that “Elvis” could categorize itself as one of two films to win both the Oscar and the Razzie. I can see Austin Butler winning Best Actor, and I can see Tom Hanks winning Worst Supporting Actor. It goes to show how much of a mish mash “Elvis” feels like. This film comes off as a Saturday morning cartoon, a grounded drama, and unfortunately, a confused narrative. I think the confusion is best summed up in one of the first lines, where Tom Parker introduces himself.

“For those of you who are wondering who this fella here is, I am the legendary Colonel Tom Parker. I am the man who gave the world Elvis Presley. Without me, there would be no Elvis Presley. And yet, there are some who’d make me out to be the villain of this here story.” -Tom Parker

Yes, there are movies I like where the villain technically becomes the hero of the story. “Avengers: Infinity War,” despite having “Avengers” in the title, starts and ends with Thanos, the man who wants to rid of half the universe’s population. But not only did he feel fleshed out, I bought into the character. Similarly, there are movies about self-absorbed, entitled morons that make themselves out to be the hero, like “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and if it is written and directed in a certain way, it can work. “Elvis” honestly feels inconsistent, and part of it is because Parker needlessly steals the spotlight in every other scene. There are scene stealers, and then there are scene hijackers, like Tom Parker. Tom Parker comes off as a paper thin cartoon within a grounded story. It is kind of like “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” if Roger Rabbit had actual human flesh.

I should not be surprised, but as I watched this movie, I failed to realize perhaps the greatest source of my pain, the director, Baz Luhrmann. Baz Luhrmann directed and co-wrote “Elvis.” This film definitely has a style, but despite its occasional ease on the eyes and ears, the movie travels at the speed of a rocket. Only thing is, I am not in the rocket, I am hanging right by the engine. It feels like I was watching “Run Lola Run” but if the runtime were doubled. This is probably the closest I have come to having a headache while watching a movie in a theater. Now, Baz Luhrmann did not direct “Run Lola Run.” He did direct other glitzy, glossy films like “Moulin Rouge!” and “The Great Gatsby.” I have not seen those movies. But I did see another film from Luhrmann, the 1997 “Romeo + Juliet.” I understand what the movie was going for by trying to modernize the classic Shakespearean play. Perhaps give it more of an oomph for people who tend to nap during class readings and discussions of William Shakespeare. But I genuinely thought it was one of the most annoying and mind-numbing movies I have ever watched. “Elvis” is more entertaining, but compared to “Romeo + Juliet,” it suffers from a longer runtime and pacing issues. “Elvis” is 2 hours and 39 minutes long, and yet it feels like an eternity at times.

Speaking of negativity and hate, let’s dive into another positive. Trust me, this makes sense. Like other modern musicians such as Kanye West, Taylor Swift, or Justin Bieber, Elvis definitely had his haters. While I was not a fan of the Tom Parker character and his portrayal from Tom Hanks, one thing I did like is how all out this movie went to showcasing the merchandising for Presley. They even sold “hate” merchandise which upon one’s purchase, the money from said purchase goes directly to Parker and Presley themselves. This is genius and I think if we lived in a non-Internet age, we could have seen more of this from other high profile names, including politicians. Unfortunately for the movie “Elvis,” the negatives outweigh the positives. Therefore, if I had to buy a button symbolizing my thoughts in regard to the movie, it would probably lean toward the “hater” route. Baz Luhrmann is a director who knows his style, but leaves much to be desired when it comes to delivering an entertaining narrative.

In the end, “The Tom Parker Chron–” sorry, got confused for a sec… In the end, “Elvis” is a long, overblown, glitz and glamour fest that melted my brain. It is sad to say that perhaps the most positive thing I can say about “Elvis” is that it is at least more watchable than “Romeo + Juliet.” But much like “Romeo + Juliet,” I cannot see myself ever watching “Elvis” again even if I were promised a million bucks. This is the movie that is going to be remembered as both Austin Butler’s big break, and yet, one of the worst days at the office for acting legend Tom Hanks. I am going to give “Elvis” a 3/10.

“Elvis” in now playing in theatres and is also available on HBO Max.

Thanks for reading this review! Speaking of music-based films, my next review is going to be for the brand new Japanese animation “Inu-Oh.” The film follows a dancer and a musician who develop a friendship and perform for crowds across the land. If you want to see 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 “Elvis?” What did you think about it? Or, have you seen any other Baz Luhrmann films? Tell me your thoughts on the ones you like or dislike. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

DC League of Super-Pets (2022): This Movie’s Biggest Kryptonite? Predictability and Familiar Faces.

“DC League of Super-Pets” is directed by Jared Stern and Sam Levine, and stars Dwayne Johnson (Doom, Skyscraper), Kevin Hart (Ride Along, Night School), Kate McKinnon (Yesterday, Saturday Night Live), John Krasinski (A Quiet Place, The Office), Vanessa Bayer (Saturday Night Live, Office Christmas Party), Natasha Lyonne (Orange is the New Black, Big Mouth), Diego Luna (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Narcos: Mexico), Marc Maron (Maron, GLOW), Keanu Reeves (The Matrix, John Wick), Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation, Sonic the Hedgehog), and Thomas Middleditch (Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Silicon Valley). This film follows Krypto the Super-Dog, as he must figure out how to rescue his owner, Superman.

I love comic book movies. And I know I am not alone. If the box office for most of the films within this classification have shown anything, it is that films of this type are hotter than they have ever been. Marvel Studios is on fire right now with the release of “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” in addition to the massively successful “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” both of which ended up in my top 10 best of last year. DC is also doing well for themselves. I enjoyed “The Batman” despite some pacing issues I had with the film, and I thought last year’s “The Suicide Squad” might just be the best movie to ever have the DC logo attached. And in the midst of all of these movies that I either looked forward to or saw and really enjoyed, I never thought “DC League of Super-Pets” would live up to the quality standards that we have seen in other comic book-based works. If anything, I thought it would probably be on the same level as “Morbius,” only slightly more comedic and family-friendly.

I will be real. I cannot remember the last time I asked for a movie about Superman’s dog, but here we are. Why did I see it? Because I have reviews to get done and AMC A-List is a dynamite investment. I love not paying for movies that I feel the need to see to stay in the loop. Although at the same time, if you have names as big as Kevin Hart or Keanu Reeves, that should bring something promising to the table. And this brings me to my first positive, which I will dive more into later, Keanu Reeves was the highlight of the film.

What did I think of “DC League of “Super-Pets?” It’s predictable, mediocre, and I do not think the comedy landed that much. I have heard some differing opinions, but if you ask me, even some of the more clever jokes in this movie did not garner much of a reaction out of me. Some of the comedy attempts either felt tired, forced, or obvious. There is a “Paw Patrol”-related joke that probably would have been funnier if I did not make a “Paw Patrol” comparison before the film came out. Speaking of “Paw Patrol,” one thing about that show is that it is specifically made for kids. That’s the vibes I got from “DC League of Super-Pets’s” marketing campaign. All kiddy, no maturity. Turns out there is some adult humor in this film, but even that did not land. I can only hear the censor bar so many times before the gag becomes tiresome. This is honestly unfortunate considering the film is written by Jared Stern and John Whittington, who previously wrote another animated DC flick, “The LEGO Batman Movie.” Regardless of its comic-based origins and spinoff placement, it is one of the funniest animation scripts done in recent years. That movie had five writers! I hope for the sake of Stern and Whittington that they came up with at least one of the clever jokes that script contained, because “DC League of Super-Pets” feels like a far cry to the 2017 “LEGO Batman” spinoff.

The story of “DC League of Super-Pets” does not reinvent the wheel. I never asked for this movie to begin with, and therefore I never asked it to reinvent the wheel, therefore I did not know what to expect. But the movie itself sort of reminded me of a longer episode of a Saturday morning cartoon, but not necessarily a great one. I also think the script of “DC League of Super-Pets” is probably going to land better with those who are dog or cat people. People who have pets and consider them part of their family. I live in a space where there are pets, but they are not necessarily my pets, so this script did not connect with me maybe in the way the writers hoped it would.

I want to talk about the biggest problem in this movie, and this is the problem that the movie has built up ever since its first teaser. Going back to the big names. Having big names like Dwayne Johnson in your movie always builds intrigue and promise. It’s like when a printer gets endorsed by Shaquille O’Neal, or Mark Cuban becomes a quasi-mascot of a new, innovative product, or when Howie Mandel fist bumps everything in your store for some reason. When this film’s first teaser released, the primary focus was on the stacked cast this movie managed to acquire from Dwayne Johnson to Kevin Hart to Kate McKinnon to John Krasinski and so on. I want to talk about those first two names. Dwayne Johnson is arguably the biggest movie star in the world, and Kevin Hart, in addition to being a relevant comedian, has worked with The Rock in the past on “Central Intelligence” and the “Jumanji” movies. This is their third property together, and I do not mind actors or crew joining forces more than once. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have worked together numerous times in “Crazy Stupid Love,” “Gangster Squad,” and “La La Land.” Their chemistry is undeniable.

I have no idea if this is coincidental or not, but the Gosling/Stone pairing is a match every time. The difference between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone compared to Johnson and Hart is the ability of the former pair to show range. Ryan Gosling can be the sexy boy toy, he can sing, he can be stoic. Emma Stone can be a quirky young woman, she can be an aspiring actress, she can be someone from a couple centuries ago. The two are “actors,” not stars. Johnson and Hart, despite having personality, are not the greatest thespians, and it shows in “DC League of Super-Pets.” When I look at Krypto, I see The Rock. When I look at Ace, I see Kevin Hart. In my imagination, they are just playing versions of themselves in animated dog form. This is why part of me is often worried when I think about the upcoming “Super Mario Bros.” movie because like “DC League of Super-Pets,” I am just worried that Chris Pratt is going to do another version of Emmet from “The LEGO Movie” or something. Chris Pratt, like The Rock, while he is definitely a better actor, is not the greatest of the performers working today. Pratt’s voice is recognizable, and that is part of why it felt weird hearing said voice in Pixar’s “Onward.” I am not saying live-action movie stars should not voice animated characters. Some have as much talent as those who primarily do voice-acting. But these roles show Johnson and Hart’s lack of range as actors. Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart always do the same schtick or some variation of it in their movies. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. Not having a live-action environment hinders that and makes this film the weakest of their collaborations. And the fact that I am looking at these dogs’ faces and seeing nothing but Johnson and Hart makes their performances creepier than they should be.

I said I will get back to Keanu Reeves. A promise is a promise. Reeves is easily this film’s best part. Not just because of his voice, but the character he plays, that being Batman. Much like “The LEGO Batman Movie,” this interpretation of Batman or Bruce Wayne is on the more parodic side, and rightfully so. I said earlier that I was slightly concerned that Jared Stern and John Whittington possibly never came up with any solid jokes in “The LEGO Batman Movie.” Although after reminiscing on Batman in this film, part of me has second thoughts. I was not a huge fan of the film’s comedy, but the parts where I was almost rolling on the floor were the scenes where Batman shows up. His screen time in this film is minimal. Think of it as a funny Stan Lee cameo where he plays himself except it happens ten times. Despite this movie’s lighthearted tone, it also pokes fun at the darkness of the Caped Crusader. Everything from his lone wolf mentality to his lack of parents. It’s hilarious, and I might every once in a while look on YouTube for the scenes in this movie containing Batman just to get a laugh.

In the end, “DC League of Super-Pets” is, to my surprise, not the worst comic book movie of the year. Again, “Morbius” exists. You’re welcome, Warner Brothers! You are going to have to settle for the dishonorable mention. Some of the voice acting is hit or miss. When I watch an animated movie, part of me wants to forget that I am watching something that has The Rock in it. I think as far as voice performances go, Johnson’s performance in “Moana,” while not my favorite in history, is slightly better than the one he gives to Krypto. But I also do not know if I can blame it on his ability, because his voice is recognizable. When it comes to Kevin Hart playing a house pet, I’d rather listen to his performance as Snowball the terrier in “The Secret Life of Pets.” I often watch films for an escape. If I want an escape with The Rock and Kevin Hart, I would rather watch “Central Intelligence.” This is not a film that is going to stand the test of time. As far as DC goes, it is surprisingly better than “Wonder Woman 1984,” but unlike “DC League of Super-Pets,” I had higher expectations for that film. I am going to give “DC League of Super-Pets” a 5/10.

“DC League of Super-Pets” is now playing in theatres everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for the film “Vengeance,” directed by B.J. Novak. Also be on the lookout for my review for “Bullet Train,” the new action flick starring Brad Pitt as he and assassins crowd up a speeding train in Japan. 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 “DC League of Super-Pets?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a movie with a stacked cast that disappointed you? For me, that big disappointment was 2017’s “The Circle,” starring Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, Patton Oswalt, John Boyega, among others. Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Trashed Movies, Batgirl, A Scoob! Spinoff, DC Restructuring, and Merging Streamers: My Thoughts on the Many Early Shifts at Warner Bros. Discovery

Hey everyone! Jack Drees here! Ladies and gentlemen, we have a lot to talk about! I mean, wow! Before we dive into what has been happening lately at Warner Bros. Discovery, let me give you a recap of some of the events that went down during AT&T’s possession of Warner Bros..

If you asked me what I thought about the state of Warner Bros. a year ago, I would have said I was nervous. Warnermedia’s decision to put all of their big movies on HBO Max hurt most of those movies that already happened to be finished. This ultimately hurt their box office, not to mention potential word of mouth and longevity. Sure, it definitely seemed like a good idea to combat COVID-19 and certain titles like “Godzilla vs. Kong” and “Dune” had a halfway decent performance, but it does not change the fact that for the most part, the performance of most of these films were financially hindered. While some may argue that Warnermedia offered viewers a choice by putting their movies both in theaters and on streaming, they also had a long-term goal on prioritizing content for HBO Max, which was created through said ownership.

For the most part, HBO Max was not a bad idea. It contained a lot of the latest movies from studios like Universal, Fox, and Warner Brothers, the entire DC library, some of the shows from Turner networks like TBS and TNT. They had a good thing going. Then in 2020, it was announced that Warner Brothers’s entire slate of films for the next year would go to HBO Max in addition to theatres, as recently mentioned. This technically started with the 2020 film “Wonder Woman 1984.” The unexpected move led to the film’s star and director, Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins respectively, receiving more than $10 million as a result. Alternate stars on the other hand were not favored.

“Representatives for major Warner Bros. stars like Denzel Washington, Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Keanu Reeves, Hugh Jackman and Angelina Jolie wanted to know why their clients had been treated in a lesser manner than Ms. Gadot. Talk of a Warner Bros. boycott began circulating inside the Directors Guild of America. A partner at one talent agency spent part of the weekend meeting with litigators. Some people started to angrily refer to the studio as Former Bros.” –The New York Times

Legendary Pictures, the production company behind “Godzilla vs. Kong” and “Dune,” noted that they, like others, were not given advance notice on the move. On a nearly dated “Saturday Night Live” episode, host and “Dune” star Timothee Chalamet ended the show by unveiling a Legendary sweatshirt, symbolizing his support for the company.

While one perk of HBO Max is the freedom for viewers to watch the new films as many times as they want for 30 days, the caveat for the studio is that the films are free as long as the viewers subscribe. In addition to hurting the movie theaters that work alongside the studios, movies like “In the Heights,” “The Suicide Squad,” “Reminiscence,” “King Richard,” and “The Matrix Resurrections” did not even make their budgets back.

You could make the argument that HBO Max benefited from this. Sure, they had some subscribers come aboard. In fact the service topped their projections (70 million) by the end of 2021 by earning 73 million paid subscribers. But that is not enough. Warner Bros. lost one of their key filmmakers, specifically Christopher Nolan, and has damaged their trust with others as they felt backstabbed by these recent events. Denis Villeneuve, while he ultimately finished and released “Dune” in October 2021, found out about his movie’s simultaneous HBO Max release on the news long before the film ultimately came out. It is the studio’s project at the end of the day, but it does not mean Warner Bros. and AT&T can ignore common sense and decency with their fellow creators. This was a multi-million dollar collaborative effort, and it is very much Denis Villeneuve’s movie as much as it is Warnermedia’s. When Villeneuve promises he will bring forth a franchise, his mouth cannot be kept shut in situations like this.

Now that David Zaslav is responsible for the position of CEO, a position previously held by Jason Kilar, many big changes have come about in such a short time. As of now, there are no more day and date Warner Bros. movies. “The Batman,” “Elvis,” and “DC League of Super-Pets” all released in theaters exclusively for a period of time. There are still movies that have been released on HBO Max exclusively, like the romantic comedy “Moonshot,” but without the day and date option. But for the most part, the new administration has allowed their few theatrical exclusive films to shine.

Now, as a fan of the moviegoing experience, this is great. I am glad to know these movies are being seen the way the filmmakers intended. I do not know if Warner Bros. is going to restore its relationship with Christopher Nolan, but that is probably going to depend on how well “Oppenheimer” does for Universal. Although as someone who has found streaming convenient and messy, this month has demonstrated the messier elements on the HBO Max side of things.

Recent events have shown my slight lack of trust from streaming providers. Last week, HBO Max removed six films. It is normal for a streamer to get rid of their film or television content. Maybe the deal has expired and a project needs to move somewhere else, or maybe a property is under new ownership. These are perfectly valid reasons to remove a film from a service, despite disappointing the fans of that movie. What is unusual however is that a set of “Max Originals,” meaning that these projects were exclusive to HBO Max, were removed from the service. I emphasize, not HBO the channel, HBO Max. Despite being intended and marketed as exclusives, they were removed. Although if you look around, they are not QUITE exclusive. This is probably why they were called “Max Originals” and not “Max Exclusives.” These films are available for purchase on platforms like Google Play and Vudu, therefore they are not unwatchable. Well, except “Superintelligence,” you should never ever watch that movie even in your sleep. And there is also good news for physical media collectors. These movies, like the recently mentioned “Superintelligence,” are also available on DVD. So while these films may be gone from HBO Max, you can pay to watch them in other ways.

Nevertheless, an event like this shocks me as the films are technically Warner Brothers movies, which HBO Max would perhaps most likely try to maintain as they are a part of the brand. It is the same reason why you never saw “The Irishman” leave Netflix. It is the same reason why you never saw “Manchester by the Sea” leave Prime Video. It is the same reason why you never saw “LEGO Star Wars: The Holiday Special” leave Disney+. With the exception of that last one, these titles are available elsewhere such as DVD and Blu-ray, but these are ultimately the studio’s and streamer’s projects to control and maintain on their respective services. Or so I thought. They can practically do anything now and it is kind of unreal to think about.

So HBO Max got rid of six “exclusive” films. Fine. They can do that. People can still watch them elsewhere? Okay, that’s wonderful. I think it is a bit weird to not at least leave them on the service for people to at least watch, although at the same time I do not think people subscribe to HBO Max nowadays to watch “The Witches.” These films, or more specifically, where they ended up, are partially the result of the previous administration. “Superintelligence” was once supposed to release theatrically, but it was eventually dropped exclusively on HBO Max through Ben Falcone’s pitch. “The Witches,” directed by Robert Zemeckis, was supposed to be released theatrically, but was ultimately moved to HBO Max. However, it was released theatrically in international markets. I can understand why a move like this was made. In addition to promoting HBO Max, COVID-19 was still somewhat new and prominent in late 2020. But if there is something I can say “The Witches” and “Superintelligence” have in common other than their release, it is their lack of longevity. When you release a movie in theaters, you ultimately do more than simply release it for the big screen. If the movie is successful on the big screen, there is a chance it could also succeed when it comes to VOD and physical media. It already has word of mouth, and if enough people are curious, it could have a second wind. This is a tried and true method that works almost every time.

Despite my confidence, and we will dive more into that, in regard to David Zaslav as CEO, this is perhaps the one big conundrum that has come up during his time as the head of the company. If there is an outside force that is making these movies disappear, I wish I knew about it. But for now, this makes no sense.

Speaking of movies you will not be seeing anymore, let’s talk about “Batgirl.” During Jason Kilar’s run as CEO, it was announced that we would be seeing an HBO Max exclusive “Batgirl” movie set in the DCEU. The film was previously in development, partially under the creative juices of Joss Whedon, but he left the project a year after its 2017 announcement. The film would star Leslie Grace (In the Heights) and similar to “The Flash,” which we will be talking about later, viewers would be treated to Michael Keaton as he returns to play Batman. Before Zaslav became CEO, another DC film once set to hit HBO Max, “Blue Beetle,” was officially no longer an HBO Max exclusive and would instead play in theaters. This is how every other DCEU film, including the day and date-specific “Wonder Woman 1984” and “The Suicide Squad,” released.

“Batgirl,” both before and after Zaslav’s beginning as CEO, was never announced to receive the same treatment. In fact, one more announcement in this crazy week is that the release of “Batgirl” would be cancelled. Nobody in the viewing public would ever get to see the movie, no matter what. Not in theatres, not on HBO Max. No bat time, no bat channel.

Obviously this came as a shock given how the film finished shooting and happened to be in post-production. And not to ignore Leslie Grace’s titular character, who wouldn’t want to see Michael Keaton as Batman again? This could have been a good movie. But after seeing more information, I had my doubts as to whether it was actually good to begin with.

“Batgirl” was originally intended for HBO Max, and when you do not have to worry about the stakes of the big screen, there is, theoretically, less of a vision that encapsulates quality. I am not saying straight to streaming movies cannot work, but it comes with a major price tag from a viewer’s perspective as being “inferior.” “Batgirl” had a $90 million budget. In DC speak, this is about the same as 2019’s “Shazam!” although about half as much as Matt Reeves’s “The Batman.” While Leslie Grace may not have carried the star power of Robert Pattinson, the movie had plenty of big names alongside her including J.K. Simmons, Brendan Fraser, and as mentioned before, Michael Keaton. The directing team behind the film, Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah had experience with action films before, not to mention 2020’s biggest picture (not that there was much competition), “Bad Boys for Life.” The two even have experience at DC’s competitor, Marvel Studios. While they never made a Marvel film, the duo handled directing duties for two episodes of the Disney+ original series “Ms. Marvel.”

For all I know, these people gave 110% to every part of the production. Leslie Grace could have given the performance of the year. Michael Keaton could have given his best portrayal of Batman yet. And this would be a movie that could establish Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah as future in-house names at DC kind of like the Russo Brothers were to Marvel for some time. But given how “Batgirl,” is cancelled as a tax write-off as of last week, I, and the viewing public as a whole, will never know for sure.

There is a saying that actions speak louder than words, but given how I have never seen “Batgirl,” I unfortunately can only rely on words at this point. However, other people have seen the movie through test screenings, and the results are reportedly not great. While the movie is said to have scored similarly to “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods,” which is still set to release this December, one source says the consensus led to a verdict that indicated “Batgirl” is not big enough for theaters, nor appropriate enough for a platform like HBO Max, as revealed by Hollywood insider Matthew Belloni on an episode of his podcast, “The Town.”

“This is someone who was in the test screening a couple months ago where they were trying to figure out what to do with this movie and I called him and we chatted and he said that after the screening, the executives Walter Hamada of DC and some of the others there ask the audience, “Did this feel big?” and clearly they were trying to figure out whether it felt like it deserved a theatrical release and the consensus was absolutely not. He said it played like a TV pilot, the stakes were very small… He said it felt a little like Dark Phoenix.” -Matthew Belloni

Why are they releasing “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods” and not “Batgirl?” That is a great question. If you ask me, I think it is a somewhat marketable film that could do well around the holiday season, or in this case, well enough to compete with “Avatar: The Way of Water,” but nevertheless. Although “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods” was planned as a theatrical release this whole time, and may have been executed as such during the production. And the first trailer of the film promises some neat treats for those looking for a big screen experience. I reiterate, I have not seen “Batgirl,” but I think there is a reason why I am seeing material for “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods,” and nothing for “Batgirl.” While I genuinely feel terrible for everyone behind the film, I stand by David Zaslav’s decision to cancel “Batgirl.” I would rather have a genuinely great movie that will win over audiences as opposed to a terrible movie that could cause people to compare it to “Batman & Robin.” People are going to literally have to say that the best Batgirl movie is somehow “The LEGO Batman Movie!” Who thought we’d be saying that in this day and age?! And Zaslav cancelled the film for this reason. During a recent conference call, Zaslav was asked about the cancelation of “Batgirl,” which he stated was part of a restructuring of DC through a 10-year plan. This plan would be similar to what Alan Horn and Bob Iger established with producer Kevin Feige over at Disney’s Marvel Studios. In addition to that, Zaslav wants to make sure that audiences are not only getting good movies, but happen to be getting their money’s worth at the cinema similar to the studio itself through the box office as it releases its newer content.

“We’ve seen luckily by having access now to all the data, how direct-to-streaming movies perform. And our conclusion is that expensive direct-to-streaming movies in terms of how people are consuming them on the platform, how often people go there or buy it or buy a service for it and how it gets nourished over time is no comparison to what happens when you launch a film in the motion – in the theaters. And so this idea of expensive films going direct-to-streaming, we cannot find an economic case for it. We can’t find an economic value for it.” –David Zaslav

However, I am not saying the axing of “Batgirl” is not unfortunate for the audience. I was looking forward to potentially seeing the movie. This is also an unfortunate cancelation in terms of diversity. Because Leslie Grace is Afro-Latina, giving a fresh look to the DCEU’s main heroes. This means that most of the studio’s upcoming lineup, like “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods” and “The Flash” will continue to center around white male characters. While these films are likely to be successful, it avoids giving a particular audience a film they can call their own. While “Wonder Woman” and its vastly inferior sequel obviously happen to be anthems for women, it does not change the fact that there are still some audiences who probably have not seen themselves in the heroes DC is providing. Sure, the “Suicide Squad” movies feature two different African-American leads, but as far as non-team movies go, diversity has some ways to go. Superman is a white male. Shazam is a white male. The Flash, while played by an actor who currently identifies as non-binary, is as far as we know, a white male. Harley Quinn, while not a male, is more of an anti-hero as seen in projects like “Birds of Prey.” This could have been DC’s chance to give the audience a different kind of hero. And while this may be towards the villain or anti-hero route, DC is lucky that the Dwayne Johnson-starring “Black Adam” is set to come out as the iconic movie star happens to be Black and Samoan.

At the same time though, while this is unfortunate, I will reiterate, I agree with Zaslav’s decision to cancel the film. It is not a pleasant decision to make, but as a business move, it makes sense. I am not saying people are not interested in seeing a Latina superhero, but I think that if people want a character like Batgirl, such a character should receive better treatment than what she is getting at the moment. I have to remind everyone reading this that I am a straight white male, therefore it is my responsibility to acknowledge that a lot of the movies that have come out in the superhero genre revolves around people like me. Some are great like “Iron Man” while others are not so great like “Morbius.” This is the same thing I have said about “Ghostbusters” since I watched the 2016 Paul Feig-directed reboot. You cannot just remake the movie with women and call it a day. You have to have a good script, great chemistry amongst the cast, and solid humor. Now obviously every movie has its fans, but I saw the movie and felt that it failed on those recently mentioned objectives. Pitching and selling a “Batgirl” film to the audience is half the battle. The other half is delivering a great story or experience that will stand the test of time, and I can only assume that “Batgirl” did not meet certain standards to make that happen.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the cancelation of “Batgirl” has more to do with the reset plan in regard to DC and not as much to do with the talent behind the film like Leslie Grace.

“Leslie Grace is an incredibly talented actor and this decision is not a reflection of her performance. We are incredibly grateful to the filmmakers of “Batgirl” and “Scoob! Holiday Haunt” and their respective casts and we hope to collaborate with everyone again in the near future.” -WB Insider (The Hollywood Reporter)

On that note, I will remind you that “Batgirl” is not the only upcoming Warner Bros. film that was announced to be cancelled last week, as the quote suggests that “Scoob!: Holiday Haunt,” a Christmas-themed “Scooby-Doo” film, was also part of the chopping block. The film was set to come out on HBO Max this year, which does not surprise me as 2020’s “Scoob!” skipped theatres and went straight to VOD due to COVID-19. While I watched “Scoob!” a couple years ago and thought it was a trainwreck, I will note one thing that was not a problem was the look of the film or the animation style. Overall, it looked very polished. Once again, I can only use assumptions here, but I would not be surprised if this streaming-mindset affected production in terms of how polished the film could turn out. Once again, I feel bad for the crew, but I think that this is a proper business decision.

Although if I must be real, I find it shocking that “Batgirl” was cancelled at the time it was. I am less shocked after finding out that it probably was not that good. Although what I am saying is that there is another DC film that based on public outcry, probably should have been cancelled first. In fact, recent events further indicate the complications behind this film’s existence. That film being… “The Flash.”

The Flash is one of the more well-known DC superheroes, and the hero’s popularity has only jumped due to the success of CW’s original series that is soon to enter its final season. Although on the movie side, there has been extensive development in regard to bringing the red speedster to the big screen but for several reasons, they could not quite get it out before the end of the previous decade. Having seen both “Justice League” and its eventual “Snyder Cut” on HBO Max, I think Ezra Miller did a fine job bringing Barry Allen to life and I would not mind seeing more of the character. Unfortunately, if Miller continues to play the character, I may have second thoughts.

After seeing Ezra Miller’s shenanigans of choking a woman in a bar, assault, restraining orders, harrassing a woman in her own apartment, and most recently, burglary, this only makes Zaslav’s final decision on “The Flash” that much harder to make. You could say that releasing “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” is also hard because Amber Heard is in it, but that’s a cakewalk compared to this. For one thing, the public is divided on whether Heard is innocent or guilty after her recent trial with Johnny Depp. And not to undermine the events prior to or of said trial, many of Ezra Miller’s crimes or arrests have happened after they finished shooting “The Flash.” As time has shown, I believe in redemption. Since joining Marvel, James Gunn held back on making inappropriate jokes over the Internet, and even after his firing and rehiring, he kept his cool. But at this point, when Ezra Miller has already been cast, the movie is shot, and it is set to release next year. This is a dilemma if there ever was one. As a viewer who is not in charge of a substantial company or its products, it is easy for me to say that they should cancel the movie or recast Ezra Miller and reshoot every scene with the character of Barry Allen. But the film already has a budget of $200 million, and this requires a massive return of the crew, the actors, everybody.

…But in my own little fantasyland, I also think it is worth it. …Kind of. It’s not my money, and if it were, for all I know, I might not have said this.

Similar to “Spider-Man: No Way Home” where there were three Spider-Men on the lineup, “The Flash” is a movie where we are seeing the return of Michael Keaton as Batman, making “Batgirl” one of the two films where the iconic actor dons his cowl. That, alongside another Batman appearance from Ben Affleck, will obviously get butts in seats. This is certainly a film that people will want to see in theaters before streaming, making HBO Max a concept that must be left out of the equation. But this involves potential delays, recasting, and so on. The other alternative I can get behind at this point is releasing the film as is and announcing Ezra Miller’s firing beforehand. I could almost see there being a disclaimer before the film starts stating the wrongdoings of Ezra Miller and a note that Warner Bros. does not condone or approve of his actions. While it may not be comfortable to provide in a public setting, it is better to condemn this consistently inappropriate or incorrect behavior rather than continue to enable it. There is a good chance Ezra Miller is already canned and such a thing has not been announced, but I think this is a message that should be announced before the public starts a trend claiming Warner Bros. “defends assaulters” or something along those lines. They say there is no such thing as bad publicity, but this is exhibit A as to why that is not true. On the bright side, reports have surfaced that “The Flash” is apparently a good movie. Obviously, film is subjective, so if it comes out, we will see if that statement holds true. But it is nice to hear Warner Bros. Discovery has confidence in the film’s quality, unlike “Batgirl.” Some of the general audience more than likely will not care about what Ezra Miller has done in the past, but it does not change the fact that word gets around. Plus Miller is getting into trouble on a consistent basis. They have already been the subject of multiple negative events as of this year. My confidence in Miller or their image’s ability to change by next year, or even 2024, is quite low. What if they end up in prison for a year? What is Warner Bros. Discovery going to do then? Imagine if Ezra Miller shows up at the premiere and how awkward that could be given everything they have done. This is not exactly my idea, but one alternative is finding a way to remarket the film as a “Batman” movie. I do not know how much the script would warrant such a thing, but given the marketability of the “Batman” IP and the fact that there are two Batmen in the movie, it theoretically makes sense.

Until then, there is no easy answer to this ongoing problem. “Batgirl” may have had its reasons to be cancelled, but this only makes me wonder what is going to happen with “The Flash.” If the movie gets cancelled because of Ezra Miller, it is a solid publicity move in the short term, but this also ends up being a disservice to the rest of the people behind the film who had nothing to do with Ezra Miller other than working with them. But at the end of the day, filmmaking is a business. And if Ezra Miller keeps doing what they’re doing, or worse, the business of the film is only going to trickle bit by bit. “The Flash” is still set to come out, and I am glad to hear it is good. But is it worth it? Much like “Batgirl,” but for completely different reasons, “The Flash” at this stage is probably going to hit some landmines if the studio wants it to be released theatrically. But at the same time, the movie is too big, not to mention too expensive, for HBO Max.

Sticking with HBO Max, let’s ask a question… WHAT ON EARTH IS HAPPENING TO HBO MAX?!

Remember how HBO Max was supposed to be Warnermedia’s big streaming service? It was the thing that was going to make HBO Now look like HBO Then. Some not so surprising news that came out of last week’s events was the merging of HBO Max and Discovery+ into one streaming service. Now, that has not happened yet. You will not find “Property Brothers” on HBO Max, nor will you find “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” on Discovery+.

This is not the first time in recent years that Warner had one of its streaming services fold into another one, as DC Universe gradually dissolved in 2020 and all of its film and television content like “Titans” and “Harley Quinn” ended up on HBO Max, with the latter now airing its third season.

Now if you ask me, I like the fact that all of this content is merging. I am probably not going to watch all of it. But it is nice to know that the options are there. For all I know, there could be a new show that I could put on in the background one day. I think one big problem consumers face is that there are too many streaming services out there. I do not have Discovery+, as it is one of the few services I do not consider a priority. Slimming two services into one is not necessarily a bad concept. My one concern is how much more I’d be paying, that is if there is a price hike. I will revisit this issue later, because I need to talk about one of the most poorly guided comparisons I have seen in this day and age.

Remember how I said actions speak louder than words? Well, words are pretty powerful. Some people tend to take them seriously.

I understand that this may be an exaggeration, but it still must be pointed out. When talking about the differences between HBO Max and Discovery+, this was done through a side-by-side chart indicating that HBO Max’s content was male-skew and Discovery+’s content was female-skew. Now to be fair, I am a man and I have never watched Discovery+ on my own time. I rarely turn on any of Discovery’s channels. But this is a loose and stereotypical assumption to make in this day and age. Because this declares that gendered content is put into boxes. HBO is one of the most sought-after cable networks of all time by all genders. “Game of Thrones” was a huge hit over recent years. Recent series like “Scenes From a Marriage” have been met with acclaim. And APPARENTLY, women don’t watch “EUPHORIA?!” If anything, they’re the target audience! Literally every woman on this planet wants to be Zendaya! She is good-looking, she has an Emmy, and she is dating Spider-Man! You think women do not watch “Euphoria?”

I am not saying that some of these classifications do not make sense. HBO has a lot of scripted content, and that is their forte. Although HBO Max has plenty of unscripted or reality content like the original show “Legendary,” truTV’s “Impractical Jokers,” and the TBS reboot of “Wipeout.” It is very much a service for everyone in same way that Netflix or Prime Video is. Discovery+ is very much a comfort food network. Most of their content is within the reality genre like “90 Day Fiancé,” “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives,” and “Chopped.” Again, I am a man, and I do not know of many men, but I know they are out there, who lean into Discovery’s content more than they do with the type of content HBO provides, so Zaslav and the infographic are technically onto something. But it does not mean that this is the best analogy to give to the public.

Also, you are telling me “The Bachelor” is a male-skewed show?! Again, I imagine there are some men who watch. Although if you want to talk about HBO Max strictly having male-skewed content, I raise you “The Bachelor,” “The Bachelorette,” “Bachelor in Paradise,” “The Bachelor: Winter Games” and “Bachelor Pad!” The only guys watching these shows are those who are trying to impress their significant other that this show specifically targets! Obviously, there are others, but you get my point! What man turns on the television, looks at that night’s lineup, and thinks, I’m gonna pour myself some wine, and watch young women fight over a guy?! The majority would flip the channel in a heartbeat.

There are also plenty of HBO or HBO Max scripted shows that do not mainly target men. In addition to the recently mentioned “Euphoria,” look at shows like “Big Little Lies,” “Gossip Girl,” “Insecure,” “The Sex Lives of College Girls,” “Love Life,” and let me just remind you that HBO has a show literally called “Girls.” HBO and HBO Max apparently suggests that women do not watch shows like “Succession,” “Silicon Valley,” “Divorce,” “The White Lotus,” or “Mare of Easttown.”

The men/women analogy would have probably worked in the 1920s. More so in the 1820s. But definitely not in the 2020s. This was probably delivered with the best intention in mind, but it does not change the fact that the delivery was terrible. The infographic itself is helpful and for the most part, an accurate representation of both streaming services. HBO Max is definitely more lean in and Discovery+ is certainly more lean back. Those are good comparisons. Plus, while I did address that HBO Max is not short on unscripted content, it is no doubt that scripted content is their bread and butter in the same way that unscripted content is to Discovery+.

Now let’s go back to the price concern. While it is nice to know that I would not be paying for two different streaming services at the same time, one of the nice things about HBO Max is that while it is not the cheapest service out there, it offers a lot of great, sometimes award-winning content, for a reasonable price. HBO Max has two tiers, an ad-included tier at $9.99 and an ad-free tier at $14.99. Discovery+ also offers two tiers. An ad-included tier at $4.99 and an ad-free tier at $6.99. These prices make some sense given how Discovery+ is more of a niche service in the same way that the horror-based Shudder would be to a certain degree. Should we see these two services combine, I think it is perhaps likely that the service to be offered will have an increased price from HBO Max’s current price. If it increases by $1, I do not see much of a problem. $2? Okay, whatever. $3? Now you are pushing it. I understand that adding more content can justify a price increase, but there comes a tipping point. If I find out that this new streaming service costs $19.99/month or more, which is the current price for Netflix’s top tier, I would have to debate on ignoring the service and worry about my other subscriptions for the time being. There is plenty of great content being offered through services like Hulu and Prime Video that I’d rather flock to for a better value. I especially worry for those who have Discovery+ and not HBO Max, because their increase could be worse.

There is no official word as to what the name of the combined service is, and this presents a problem if they come up with a new name. The beauty of HBO Max is that the name HBO is one of the most coveted television brands ever conceived. No offense to Discovery, but when most people think of “television,” HBO is often seen as the gold standard nowadays. They could come up with a new name, let’s just use Warner Discovery as an example, but this could result in brand confusion. This could be HBO’s most bewildering matter since trying to explain the difference between HBO Go, HBO Now, and HBO Max. What makes HBO Max different? I don’t know, it’s purple! This could be a short term confusion once the audience collectively realizes where their preferred content ended up, but nevertheless.

Phew. We made it to the end. Just to recap, I still use and enjoy HBO Max. The third season of “Harley Quinn” is great fun and I cannot wait to see the rest of it. I am excited to see where David Zaslav takes the Warner Bros. brand in the future. I am curious about movies like Olivia Wilde’s “Don’t Worry Darling,” which looks like a trip if there ever was one. I just hope that Zaslav realizes within the mistakes that have been made recently, that this Warner Bros. Discovery ship remains as tight as possible. While I remain saddened for the crews behind the films, I think cancelling “Batgirl” and “Scoob!: Holiday Haunt” were the right moves. If the movies were not up to a certain standard, then why should they be put out to begin with? The main basis of the movie business is profit. This is part of why “Batgirl” was cancelled, but I am also glad to know that we will not potentially be seeing the next “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” or the next “Catwoman” or the next “Morbius.” It is still NOT Morbin’ time! I don’t care who says it! Why is “The Flash” not cancelled? Sure, I hear it is a good movie, but the closer we get to its release, the more I worry about the film itself in addition to its star’s ability to not cause chaos. Is there a weird move will we see next from Zaslav and crew? Who knows? Until then, all I can do is sit back and wait for movies like “Shazam!: Fury of the Gods” and go back and watch the many hit movies and television shows on HBO Max like “Peacemaker,” “The Carbonaro Effect,” and “The Bachel–” Hahaha, never mind that last one.

Thanks for reading this post! If you liked this post and want to see more, follow the blog either with an email or a WordPress account! Also, check out the official Scene Before Facebook page! If you are interested in more of my long-form content, check out my five-thousand word analysis as to why I cannot stop watching “Belle,” the recent anime from Mamoru Hosoda. This is a movie which is by the way, as of this post’s debut, NOW STREAMING ON HBO MAX! Until then, I want to know your thoughts! What do you think about the recent events at Warner Bros. Discovery? Do you think the brand is in a good direction? Do you think cancelling “Batgirl” and “Scoob!: Holiday Haunt” was a wise decision? What do you think they should do with “The Flash” at this point? Also, about those six movies that were taken off HBO Max, did you watch any of them? Tell me your thoughts. If you ask me, I think “An American Pickle” is one of the most overlooked comedies in recent times and a hilarious parody on modern society. Leave your thoughts down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Batman (2022): The Longest Sight of the Darkest Knight

“The Batman” is directed by Matt Reeves (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Cloverfield) and stars Robert Pattinson (Twilight, The Lighthouse), Zoë Kravitz (Mad Max: Fury Road, X-Men: First Class), Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine, There Will Be Blood), Jeffrey Wright (The French Dispatch, Westworld), John Turturro (Transformers, The Big Lebowski), Peter Sarsgaard (Dopesick, Green Lantern), Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), and Colin Farrell (Total Recall, The Lobster). This film is the umpteenth reboot/remake/cash cow on a platter of the Caped Crusader. And I assume Warner Brothers already happens to have three more in development. This time around, Robert Pattinson plays Batman, or Vengeance, it can go either way at this point, who is forced to chase down the Riddler (Paul Dano) and follow himself down the rabbit hole to determine his family’s involvement in Gotham’s ongoing crime.

My excitement for “The Batman” was always something I kept in my head. And unlike other superhero stories in recent months like “The Suicide Squad” or “Eternals,” I had those expectations at a moderate level, but not at one that made me feel somewhat pessimistic. If you want a fair comparison, I would say it is almost equal to the excitement I had for “Shang-Chi” before all the reviews came out. I was immersed into the trailers we were given, and looking forward to seeing how Matt Reeves could potentially pull off a “Batman” movie that speaks to a 2022 audience.

While I will admit I think there are days where “The Dark Knight” may get a tad too much hype, I have always admired the film. I thought it was the definitive comic book film that delivered a little bit of fun, a little bit of dark, and a whole lot of epic. Christopher Nolan’s direction and Hans Zimmer’s score definitely add to the scope and vibe of the film. I would have been happy if “The Batman” were half as good as the “The Dark Knight” because even in that case, it would be a good movie.

Now “The Batman,” per my opinion, is no “The Dark Knight,” but it is a watchable film. And like “The Dark Knight,” the tone is incredibly set by the music, perhaps more effectively than the 2008 counterpart. Michael Giacchino’s score, even in its more subtle moments, feels prominent and difficult to ignore. Now unlike “The Dark Knight,” which I think has a really good opening scene, I think the opening scene of “The Batman” does a much better job at measuring the tone and stakes of everything at hand. This film’s introduction to the Riddler is chill-inducing, and almost horror-like. Granted, this movie does take place on Halloween, hence the Long Halloween inspiration.

Now, Batman and Spider-Man are often seen as two of the most popular heroes of all time. So much so that their characters reboot almost on the frequency of Tom Brady winning Super Bowls. Similar to seeing a couple movies where Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man, loses his uncle, we also have seen a couple movies where Bruce Wayne, AKA Batman, loses his parents. “The Batman” takes the MCU or “Spider-Man: Homecoming” route and skips the deaths of Wayne’s parents. For a movie like this, I like this approach. Partially because it allows us to get straight into the character of Batman, whose first main scene in this movie provides one of the grittiest action sequences the character has gone through, and also because THIS MOVIE IS SO FREAKING LONG!

Maybe I should not have said that. This is not the longest Halloween–err I mean, longest comic book movie I have sat through. “Avengers: Endgame” was over three hours. But the reason why “Avengers: Endgame,” to me, gets away with its three hour runtime is because I have realized more and more over the years that it is not necessarily a matter of how long a movie is, but how long it feels when it comes to keeping me entertained. I cannot tell you how many times I have watched “Blade Runner 2049” from start to finish. That movie is two hours and forty-four minutes, which by today’s standards, is rather long. It flies by every single time I watch it. However, there were one or two moments when I watched “The Batman” and thought, “When’s the credits? Why aren’t they popping up yet?” I feel like this movie could have been better paced if they shaved off 5, 10, even 20 minutes. I do think the slow burn feel fits the narrative and characters at hand, but it also almost made me want to fall asleep.

But I’ll tell you what didn’t make me fall asleep…

ONE OF THE BEST CAR CHASES IN YEARS!

It’s been a few years since I have seen a truly exciting, immersive, compelling car chase. The last one that comes to mind is from 2018 during “Ready Player One,” where we keep transitioning from the real world to the virtual world where the people are driving and Wade is trying to get the key in the hole. The chase between Batman and the Penguin sent chills down my spine from frame one. For starters, the sound in this chase is some of the most heart-pumping I heard in a recent movie. I knew how amazing this chase would be ever since I saw the trailers, and I was not wrong. That moment where Colin Farrell, who looks almost unrecognizable as Penguin, shouts to himself, followed by the Batmobile’s reveal behind him, provides for pure satisfaction. Speaking of which, as soon as the Batmobile flicks on, I knew I was in for one of the boldest, almost self-transition into slow motion moments in recent film history. You know that feeling when you are out on the street and see someone so attractive that you’ve never seen before, it’s like time almost stops when you are taking every moment in.

And I think a lot of these slow, bold, yet exciting moments would not happen, or would be less likely to happen if this were not the first story we saw with Robert Pattinson’s interpretation of Batman. There’s a first time for everything, and we might as well let this first time last as long as possible. Speaking of Robert Pattinson, let’s talk about him.

Let me be clear on something. I have NEVER seen “Twlight” or its sequels. I also have never read the books. Some might say I am a better person for not partaking in these stories. I know Robert Pattinson, prior to suiting up for Batman, was perhaps a teenage heartthrob in those films, which gives him a bit of an image that some may think will hinder the film. Similar to One Direction’s Harry Styles in “Dunkirk,” put those thoughts aside because “The Batman” supports the notion that Pattinson is committed to what he does and that he is a genuinely great thespian. And if you do not believe me. Watch “Good Time,” where his performance partially adds up to a good time. Watch “Tenet,” he’s practically my favorite character in the film in terms of line delivery. And PLEASE. PLEASE. Watch “The Lighthouse.” SOOO GOOD. I was not one of these people, but I had maybe a friend or two who despite Robert Pattinson’s continuous career buildup, still felt skeptical of this film’s quality partially because of Pattinson’s past in the “Twilight” series. Either that or Bruce’s emo look, which admittedly works for me. Don’t worry. Pattinson IS Batman. Both literally and figuratively.

Unlike say Ben Affleck or Christian Bale where the difference between Bruce Wayne and Batman is often very clear, I feel like this interpretation of Batman leaves the character of Bruce Wayne, who technically still exists, almost in the background entirely. I don’t mean this in a bad way, because this shows how much Wayne himself has been consumed by the Bat. You know that theory that people have about children? The one where they apparently see something in a video game and decide it is okay to do in real life? While this is not exactly a complete replica of that, Pattinson’s interpretation reminds me of that because of how much Bruce and the Bat have basically become one with each other.

So please? Can we stop already? Can we stop making fun of Robert Pattinson? He’s a genuinely good actor, and he can show that. Matt Reeves accentuates that with his eye-popping and marvelous direction. So let’s get back to talking about the more important things…

Like THE SLAP AT THE OSCAR–Ooohh wait, wait, wait, never mind.

I will also add that Robert Pattinson is not the only standout here performance-wise, Zoe Kravitz makes a fine addition to the movie as Catwoman, and her presence is as commanding as can be. Her chemistry with Pattinson is spot on. Speaking of spot on, aside from maybe Pattinson, I’d say the best performance in the movie probably goes to none other than Paul Dano. I never thought much about Dano as an actor much before “The Batman” came out, but he’s been one of the few things I could not stop thinking about once this movie ended. And this goes back to what I said about the film’s opening scene where we first see the Riddler. They say a movie is only as good as its villain, and they also say that first impressions matter. The Riddler killed it in this film, and had my attention throughout because of that first scene. Every other moment, he kept that same maniacal vibe up. This interpretation of the Riddler is not my favorite Batman on-screen translation ever, but it is up there. And that is part of why this movie is worth watching. Not just for Batman himself, but the people he runs into along the way.

In the end, “The Batman” is the best comic book movie of the year! Why is that? Well, partially because “Morbius” exists. And that’s another story for another time. But I’ll be real with you. There are plenty of “Batman” movies out there, ranging from standalones to crossovers. Out of the many Batman stories that exist on screen, this is not the first one I would pick to watch on a Friday night. Replay value-wise, this movie is not high on my list. But I also think it is beautifully made. It encapsulates a dark vibe that feels modern, but also brings us a masked hero who maybe had much of his personality altered because of his transition. I like that idea brought to the table, and I would not mind seeing a sequel at some point. I am going to give “The Batman” a 7/10.

“The Batman” is now playing in theaters. Tickets are available now. The film will be available to stream on HBO Max starting April 19th.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review is going to be for Pixar’s “Turning Red,” the brand new animated film that is now streaming on Disney+ for free as long as you are subscribed! Also, stay tuned for my thoughts on “Morbius!” I gave a little tease, but we shall dive deeper at some point! If you want to see this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, be sure to like the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Batman?” What did you think about it? Or, who plays the best on-screen Batman? Is it Keaton? Bale? Kevin Conroy? Someone else? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Matrix Resurrections (2021): I Want to Free My Mind From This Glitchy, Nostalgic Mess

“The Matrix Resurrections” is directed by Lana Wachowski, who was one of the two directors behind the original three “Matrix” films. This film stars Keanu Reeves (Point Break, John Wick), Carrie-Anne Morris (Memento, Fido), Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Aquaman, The Trial of the Chicago 7), Jessica Henwick (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Game of Thrones), Jonathan Groff (Mindhunter, Frozen), Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother, The Smurfs), Priyanka Chopra Jonas (Quantico, The White Tiger), and Jada Pinkett Smith (Madagascar, Scream 2). This film once again follows Thomas Anderson, who this time around, is living in our world as an award-winning video game designer. When faced with an incident that makes him question his own reality, Mr. Anderson is faced with the choice to either stay in the world he knows or go down the rabbit hole.

“The Matrix” is one of my favorite science fiction films of all time. Between the stunning visuals, the well-executed cliché of good vs. evil, and the casting of most of the characters, although I do think Keanu Reeves has given better performances, it is a recipe for digital mastery. There is a saying in Hollywood that nothing ever dies. Disney constantly remakes their previous animations like “The Lion King” and “Mulan” into live-action counterparts. Universal is unlikely going to stop pumping out “Fast & Furious” movies as long as they make millions at the box office. As for Warner Bros., they’ve got another “Batman” movie coming out this year! It’s not always about how many new, innovative ideas Hollywood could come up with, it is now sometimes about how many old, previously done ideas they can regurgitate and milk until there is nothing left. Five or so years ago, I thought “The Matrix” would be one of those films that doesn’t get that treatment in this day and age. After all, Keanu Reeves is already busy building another franchise of his own, specifically “John Wick,” on top of other things, and “The Matrix Revolutions” ended in such a way that the entire story could be rather impossible to continue. The movie, sorry if you’re spoiled nearly two decades later, ends with peace being achieved with Neo’s sacrifice. But of course, when they say “nothing ever dies,” they mean NOTHING.

Neo is back and better than ev–

Wait… Sorry, I got a bit overhyped for a sec there.

*Poe Dameron voice* Somehow Neo returned.

Just, why? Why did they make this? I mean, let me put it this way. The trailers for this film were not that bad. It gave me an okay impression of what’s to come. And if I had to choose between a full-on reboot of the “Matrix” franchise and a fourth installment, I think I’d prefer a fourth installment because I feel like this is a franchise that would be hard to see altered in such a significant way. It’s like if they tried to remake “Star Wars.” There are moments and concepts ingrained in my mind that it would be off-putting or unsettling to see them retold or changed for a new generation. The reality of “The Matrix Resurrections” is that it is not just a sequel, it’s partially a retelling of the original “Matrix” film, but also a flat out nostalgia fest that overstays its welcome. The movie is a sequel to a story that quite literally changed movies forever. It’s been parodied, memed, and when it comes to movies with green tint, this is usually the first, if not the only one that comes to mind. So what do they do in this sequel? They basically make fun of the Hollywood system. As mentioned, Thomas Anderson is a game designer, and he has essentially made a video game version of his journey in the matrix. So… Warner Bros. wants to inevitably make a fourth game. Part of me thinks that Lana Wachowski did not want to come back to do this film, for all I know I could be putting words in her mouth, but she’d rather tell a story she’d be proud of than see Warner Bros., the studio behind the past three “Matrix” films in addition to this current one, take a dump on the franchise she and Lilly created.

Also, is it a coincidence that this film technically has the same villain as “Space Jam: A New Legacy?”

I will say though, I was somewhat surprised on how much I liked Keanu Reeves in this film. Maybe it’s kind of because the world is experiencing Keanu fever, and he’s kind of on trend right now, but nevertheless. He’s been in a lot of movies recently including some animations like “Toy Story 4,” he’s John Wick, he was in “Cyberpunk 2077,” and often seen as one of the most genuine guys in the industry. One of the critiques I would have to give to “The Matrix” back in the early days is that Keanu Reeves did not carry that much charisma. At the same time though, when I look back, one could make the argument that Reeves’s lack of charisma may be intentional in order to highlight the mundane, everyday life his character has to go through. I mean, if I worked at “McDonald’s” and were responsible for cleaning the restrooms, I think after some time I would not show as much expression or emotion to other people. As much as this is based on preference, I liked seeing a more expressive Neo. It gave him more personality, and Reeves’s performance reveals that to a tee. Although I do think if I had to give one significant flaw, it’s that the script can make Keanu Reeves feel a bit repetitive at times. I feel like he spent a lot of the movie in denial, giving Reeves little variety on how to differentiate his acting method.

There were a couple roles this time around that were recast, specifically Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and Smith (Jonathan Groff). Both actors obviously have their differences from the originals and if you had to ask me, I think the original interpretations were done a tad better. Maybe that’s a comment based on nostalgia, but I think both original performers delivered a grittier and darker performance that felt more fitting for a grittier and darker environment. The new kids on the block seem to deliver performances that almost feel comparatively light-hearted. “The Matrix” has always had its moments of levity and fun, but it was also serious, and this shift in tone looking back is a tad jarring. The actors did well with the material they were given, but they also had big shoes to fill.

I have waited almost a month to watch this movie. I almost went to a press screening, but I ended up skipping it. I almost went one or two other weekends, but I skipped those as well. It was not worth the wait. I refused to watch this on HBO Max because first off, I want to support the cinemas, and second, I’ve always wanted to see a “Matrix” film on the big screen. But looking back, the film I should have watched on the big screen should have been one of the prior three “Matrix” installments.

There are positives to give to “The Matrix Resurrections.” The action is occasionally cool to look at, although nowhere near as engaging as any of the other three films. The visuals do look pretty as ever. The new supporting character Bugs, played by Jessica Henwick, was honestly rather well conceived. But the film for me took some time to properly follow, even with callbacks to other movies that I recently caught up on. It feels like it occasionally has ADHD. I think of all the performances Keanu Reeves gave, this is easily my favorite one in terms of “The Matrix” franchise. I highly doubt we’ll be getting a “Matrix 5” anytime. I mean, if we were, I would not be against it as long as they tried. But going back to the old saying of Hollywood, “nothing ever dies,” I hope Hollywood acknowledges this and never makes a “Back to the Future Part IV.” Will it make money? Sure. But unless it has a PHENOMENAL, GAME-CHANGING idea on where to take the characters and franchise, I think I will end up feeling dissatisfied. As much as I am not always clamoring for remakes, if I were tied to a chair had to pick between a “Back to the Future” remake or a “Back to the Future Part IV” in order to set myself free, I think a “Back to the Future” remake would be the lesser of the two evils, it’s a much bigger sandbox allowing for more opportunities. Plus, I don’t think Michael J. Fox is doing much acting these days…

Hollywood, I know you appreciate money. But your audiences also appreciate coherence. Please keep this in mind.

In the end, “The Matrix Resurrections” is a computer virus of a flick. It shows the problem of Hollywood taking franchises of the past and regurgitating them without a second thought. Again, a lot of the original crew returned, including Lana Wachowski, so for all I know, maybe everyone was happy to be back doing something they’ve done before, but this film felt unfulfilling, slightly confusing, and too focused on referencing the good old days as opposed to creating something new. I remember when the reviews started coming in and some people compared this film to “The Last Jedi,” saying it is bold. Honestly, it never felt that way. If anything, it feels more like “The Force Awakens,” or more technically, “The Force Awakens” from the points of view in which it is often criticized. I never agreed with everyone who said that “The Force Awakens” spends too much time ripping off the original “Star Wars” or its trilogy. It used those callbacks well and retreaded old story elements to perfection. “The Matrix,” just like “Star Wars,” changed the game for its genre, but compared to “The Force Awakens,” “Resurrections” fails to recapture that amazing feeling that the original “Matrix” gave me after watching it. Granted, the original “Matrix” holds a special place for me, because it was my first R rated feature, but it is also a damn good one. I just wish “Resurrections” were the same. I’m going to give “The Matrix Resurrections” a 4/10.

“The Matrix Resurrections” is now playing in theaters and is available for a limited time for all subscribers on HBO Max.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed my review for “The Matrix Resurrections,” good news! I have more “Matrix” reviews waiting for you! Why not check out my reviews for “The Matrix,” “The Matrix Reloaded,” and “The Matrix Revolutions!” I did these as part of an ongoing review series, titled “The Matrix Reviewed,” as part of Scene Before’s 5th anniversary. I cannot promise I have many older films that I’ll be reviewing in 2022, but… I might have something. We’ll see. I want to focus on newer films this year for the most part. If you want to see more reviews like this one, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out and like the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Matrix Resurrections?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a sequel or remake that you think should NEVER happen? Let me know down below! Or don’t… Maybe you shouldn’t give Hollywood any ideas. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

King Richard (2021): I See Venus. I See Serena. I See Will Smith in a Finely Crafted Tennis Flick

King Richard (2021) - IMDb

“King Richard” is directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green (Monsters and Men, Top Boy) and stars Will Smith (Suicide Squad, Wild Wild West), Aunjanue Ellis (Girls Town, Lovecraft Country), Saniyya Sidney (The Passage, Hidden Figures), Demi Singleton (Godfather of Harlem, Goldie), Tony Goldwyn (Scandal, Ghost), and Jon Bernthal (The Punisher, Ford v Ferrari) in a film where we see the childhood lives of Venus and Serena Williams, two people who have become tennis professionals, through the eyes of their father, Richard.

Erin Cummings

Before we go any further, I want to give a shoutout to actress Erin Cummings, who has a small role in the film. I watch her almost every other time she appears on the YouTube series “The John Campea Show,” so I want to spread my support. I enjoyed seeing her in this film. I have nothing positive or negative to say about her performance, after all, she’s only around for a minute, but I just wanted to say, “go Erin!” Anyway, on with the review.

King Richard (2021) - IMDb

I saw this film at a press screening back in November and I was not surprised to be able to get a seat looking back, after all, this is a Warner Brothers film, and all of the Warner Brothers films to hit theaters in 2021 also made a simultaneous debut on HBO Max. I guess some people just wanted to skip this film to watch it at home. I’m sitting here as a critic trying to give you a good reason to go see this film immediately. Given how it is now off HBO Max, I might as well suggest why you should watch it in theaters… And compared to some other films out this year, I cannot come up with many. This is not a bad film by any means, but there are certain aspects about it that stand out more than others.

This is a rather oddball way to tell the story of two tennis icons. You might be thinking, oh my god! Serena and Venus Williams! I cannot wait to see how they became who they were! Sure, you get that. But keep in mind, the movie is not called “Serena and Venus.” It’s called “King Richard,” therefore it is about these girls’s father and it in a way tells the story through his eyes.

Now, I like a good father figure. I think we’ve seen a number of them in films from Uncle Ben in “Spider-Man” to Cooper in “Interstellar.” I think if anything, “King Richard” showcases how much its title character loves his children, but as I am watching this film, there are times where I just want to look the other way and I feel like he is doing something that nearly falls out of line. This is based on real people, so for all I know, this film could be referencing a ton of Richard’s mannerisms, but sometimes watching him speak or do something on screen felt nearly headache-inducing. Although I will say one thing about Will Smith, even though there were slight times that maybe I did not always like his character, I think given the material, Smith excels in terms of his performance. I felt every line of dialogue and I think Smith did an okay effort at bringing Richard Williams to life.

One of the things I did like about his character is that said character, not to mention this film in general, sort of represents the struggle that people of his kind, specifically black people trying to make it big in a white-dominated United States face. And the way this story is told sort of encapsulates that. There’s this one scene in a particular neighborhood that solidified that. In fact, if you watch the movie, and this exchange is in the trailer, all he wants for his daughters is to grow up and not be “on these streets.” I get where he’s coming from, and performance-wise, this was properly emoted.

At the same time, even if you took the aspect of underrepresented communities and the dangers of certain areas out of the equation, at the end of the day, one could look at this film as the story of a father who truly loves his daughters. He would do anything for them, but I also look at him and I feel like even though he is their parent, he almost comes off as controlling. I think a second viewing would be much needed at this point because for all I know, maybe I was in a certain mood that day and maybe he actually was justified from start to finish, but I feel like Smith put on an extreme performance for what seemed to be an equally extreme character. I could also kind of look at this film as what happens when you have nepotism come into play. Of course, you’re going to automatically think your kids are the best. My mother thinks I’m the best. But I KNOW I’m not. She’ll say it a thousand times over and over, doesn’t make it true. Those may just be words of encouragement as some sort of dream may be achieved in the process.

Now don’t get me wrong, just because Smith’s character does some occasional oddball things in this film, doesn’t mean I think it’s bad. Conceptually, it sounds fine. Part of me really enjoys tennis, and this film is about two of the most popular players in the sport’s recent history. I knew who they were, but I never knew about their childhood, I never knew about how they became so great at the sport itself. This movie was occasionally a fine history lesson.

When it comes to the two performers playing Venus and Serena, or Aunjanue Ellis and Demi Singleton, I think seeing these two together may have been the best part of the film. The duo felt like real sisters, and when their dad is in the mix, I think the best chops are executed out of all three of these guys. Seeing their relationship to me was one of the film’s major highlights.

Once again, I want to point out that this is based on true events, and as for the true events portion of this film towards the end, with this big tennis match, it’s some mighty intense stuff. If you enjoy tennis, or you don’t really know the stories of the Williams sisters, which I did not, I think you might get a kick out of the final act. Stay tuned.

King Richard (2021) - IMDb

In the end, “King Richard” is a film that I recommend to everyone who likes tennis, likes Will Smith, and wants an empowering story about two young girls. This is the kind of film I think some people will need for the most part. It’s about not giving up, not backing down, and giving it your all to be the very best. I think we all need that in some way. I’m going to give “King Richard” a 7/10.

“King Richard” has released in theaters this November. If it is playing near you, tickets are available.

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that the end of the year is coming up so this January I will be sharing my picks for the top 10 BEST and WORST movies of 2021. I cannot wait to share those picks. 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 “King Richard?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your personal favorite Will Smith movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Matrix Revolutions (2003): The Stylistic, Loud, and Occasionally Epic Finale to End the Green Jesus Trilogy

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! First off, I want to thank everyone for journeying with me through over five full years on Scene Before. It has been a pleasure to talk about all these classic franchises with you. Many of which are being done in correlation to something else, but I often enjoy going off the beaten path and talking about some older movies. Today we are concluding the final review series in this anniversary segment. A series that I like to call, “The Matrix Reviewed.” With that being said, it is time to talk about the third installment to the “Matrix” franchise, “The Matrix Revolutions.” Here’s the story. “The Matrix” has been a widely welcomed and celebrated film that has been considered a modern classic. Then came “The Matrix Reloaded,” which took a lot of the material from the original, repackaged it, expanded on some concepts, but it was not exactly memorable. Or if you ask me, in some cases it lost some of its meaning. I’m looking at you, “upgrades.” As the poster suggests, “everything with a beginning has an end.” Well, until Warner Brothers decides to cash in on nostalgia and make “The Matrix Resurrections,” but that review comes later. Now that the end is here, let’s talk about it!

kinopoisk.ru

“The Matrix Revolutions” is directed by the Wachowskis, the same directors behind the previous two “Matrix” films and stars Keanu Reeves (Point Break, Johnny Mnemonic), Laurence Fishburne (Event Horizon, What’s Love Got to Do with It), Carrie-Anne Moss (F/X: The Series, Dark Justice), Hugo Weaving (Babe, The Interview), and Jada Pinkett Smith (Scream 2, A Different World). This film is the finale to the “Matrix” trilogy, and war is more prominent than ever! This film follows the people of Zion as they fend off invading machines and Neo, the once ordinary soul who became “the one,” tries to stop Agent Smith while also trying to win the war himself.

As mentioned in my review for the original “Matrix,” that film in particular was my first R rated movie. I watched “Reloaded” with my dad about a week and a half later, followed by “Revolutions” just over five months later. At the time I was 12 years old. Therefore, I had more of a concept of what a good and bad movie happened to be than say when I was seven. At the same time however, the reason why I was into “The Matrix” at the time is the same reason why I was into movies like “Star Wars” at the time, they were so visually fascinating and had sound that felt like they had a place beyond the comprehensions of life itself. Safe to say, I enjoyed all the “Matrix” films to some degree, with the first one obviously being my favorite. Now that I am getting to analytically look at these films all over again almost a decade later, I am coming up with affirmations that maybe I would not have had as a child. “The Matrix Reloaded” is action-packed as I remember it being, but story-wise, it lacks substance compared to the original. The new characters were not that interesting. And the upgrades thing kind of bothered me, despite the awesome fight scene where Neo on took on hundreds of Smiths at once in that courtyard.

But the past is the past, the point of this review is to look at what came after “The Matrix.” What came after “The Matrix Reloaded.” So what came after those two things? I’ll tell ya. Another sequel that doesn’t quite hold a candle to the original. Although if you ask me, I do think that this film is slightly more enjoyable than “Reloaded” for what it is. What makes the first film work so well is that despite taking place in the future, and despite taking place in a digital machine, there was a down to earth quality to it. This was shown in the characters, the action (even though it is obviously choreographed), and the comparison between the real world and the matrix world and showing how much more enhanced and kick-ass the latter happens to be.

One thing I noticed in this film compared to “The Matrix Reloaded” is that there is so much action in your face that the idea of story seems to take a backseat. Now this is not always a movie killer. If anything, this year’s “Godzilla vs. Kong” did a really good job at reminding people of why they came to see it. They did not come to see Millie Bobby Brown somehow miraculously make it into Hong Kong for no reason. They came to see giant monsters whopping each other’s asses, and that’s what the movie delivered. Only thing about that film, is that it kind of knew what it was. I feel like these “Matrix” sequels did a good job at taking half of what made the original good, while leaving another half to rot. The half that was included was obviously the visuals and action. The first film had a solid script and story, but I feel like those were left behind.

Although I will note that one of my personal highlights of the movie as we progress is the chemistry between Neo and Trinity, which has blossomed beautifully over the past three films. Even though I have had my critiques as to how Neo was directed in the first film, I do think one constant positive I had for him and the franchise is how he interacts with Carrie-Anne Moss. The relationship has developed from this one encounter in the original film to a charming romance. I HATED the way Neo handled bringing Trinity back to life in “The Matrix Reloaded.” It felt kind of cringeworthy, but nevertheless. The kiss was nice. In fact, I don’t know, I think if Neo just kissed Trinity without putting his hand inside her skin, I think that would have been a more satisfying way to see Trinity return from the dead. I know the heart is essential to live, but I think in this universe, it would have been a more pleasant and given what they’re going for with Neo, a more Christ-like sight.

Yep, there is plenty of Jesus symbolism in this film. If you get to the end of the film, they’re not even trying to hide it. It’s pretty much in your face.

I will say one thing about the end of the film, the final fight in “The Matrix Revolutions” is by far one of my favorites in film history. Now, I love the final fight in the first film, and I think if there is one thing that first fight did better, it would have been stakes. But when it comes to style, this final confrontation has it ALL. By the end, it’s not even a “Matrix” fight anymore and is more likely something out of “Dragonball Z.” This fight does something well that I forgot to mention in my other reviews. One of the signature things about the “Matrix” that I already hinted at in this review is the choreography. In some movies, if the choreography, it can sometimes detract from the film because it feels maybe otherworldly and takes away from the realism at hand. In the case of all three “Matrix” films, they did a really good job stylizing all the action to make every fight feel like a strategy game. As I look at Neo and Smith in this final fight, every single one of their movies feels less like them fighting and instead pushing buttons on a console controller to hopefully master the skill sets of their avatars. It feels incredibly computerized, which is ultimately what the Matrix happens to be. I really like that.

Also, the MUSIC. HOLY CRAP. This is one of the best written pieces of a score I’ve heard in a movie. I dare you not to drive in the rain with this song with a smirk on your eyes. I mean, oh my god. Technically speaking, this is one of my favorite elements of the film. Don Davis is practically unleashing a flame thrower onto all of his orchestral instruments. By the way, once you’re done with this review, go to YouTube and type in “Neodammerung.” It’s freaking awesome. Bill Pope, who has been involved with some of my favorite movies alongside the other two “Matrix” installments, delivers some of the best shots I have seen in a sci-fi film. In terms of style, this film is full of it, and it does not disappoint.

I will note one thing about the visuals of “The Matrix Revolutions” in comparison to the visuals of “The Matrix Reloaded.” Just to note, both films came out in 2003, within months of each other. I think when it comes to the visuals of “Revolutions,” it does a better job than “Reloaded” of not taking you back to 2003. Now, “Revolutions” is newer, it’s younger, but not by much. Keeping that in mind, in a franchise that has heavily tried to impress audiences through groundbreaking visual effects, I think my mind is more likely to harken back to the final battle in this film more than anything else. The fight against all the Smiths in “Reloaded” was great, but it felt like it was designed in a computer whereas the final fight in “Revolutions” to me bended the line just slightly between reality and fiction. For those reasons, I think both films may end up having a somewhat similar replay value, after all this franchise is not a bad one to binge, but “Revolutions” remains superior in terms of how well it holds up.

In the end, “The Matrix Revolutions” is an improvement over “The Matrix Reloaded,” but it ain’t no party like the one in 1999. There are positives in this film. The performances are great from everyone, even Keanu Reeves, who I have criticized in the past. The film has non-stop, exhilarating action, and it is VISUALLY STUNNING. Now again, this film came out in 2003. Therefore it is not as visually appealing as “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King,” but it is eye candy nevertheless. I could watch that final duel between Neo and Smith numerous times over and over. It’s shot wonderfully, and rendered nicely. It gets my thumbs up. If there were a little more substance, maybe the film would be better. But I do think this film is better than some people make it out to be. Maybe it’s because I did not grow up with it. It could just be a representation of my age. I was never part of the phenomenon, which makes me wonder how people will look at films like “Avengers: Endgame” in a matter of 15 years. Either way, I’m going to give “The Matrix Revolutions” a 6/10.

“The Matrix Revolutions” is available on VHS, DVD, HD DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K-Blu-ray! The film is also available on HBO, HBO Max, and Hulu.

Thanks for reading this review! If you want to read my reviews for “The Matrix” or “The Matrix Reloaded,” click the nearby links and check them out! I want to thank everyone for journeying with me through “The Matrix Reviewed,” where I talk about the three live-action “Matrix” films, and I also want to spread my appreciation to everyone who tuned in to any of my special series in honor of Scene Before’s five full years of being on the Internet. We had quite a year from “Mortal Kombat: Finish the Reviews,” “7 Days of Star Wars,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Chest of Reviews,” “Revenge of the Nerds: Nerds in Review,” “Ghostbusters: Before Afterlife,” and the series that has officially been concluded, “The Matrix Reviewed.” It’s been a heck of year and I want to thank all my readers for spending part of it on Scene Before. If you want to see more reviews like this, I will remind you that I will be coming with more thoughts on the latest films including “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” So much content, so little time! This year I will also be recapping my top 10 BEST and WORST films that I saw throughout the 12 month period. I don’t know if I’ll be doing it as early as usual, but we’ll see. I have a ton of movies to talk about, but I don’t even know if I’ll be able to get to all of them. Nevertheless, if you want to see this and more on Scene Before follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account. Also, check out my official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Matrix Revolutions?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite “Matrix” film? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Matrix Reloaded (2003): Digitize Harder

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is time for part 2 of the ongoing review series, “The Matrix Reviewed!” Last week we discussed my thoughts on “The Matrix,” and my opinions for the most part appear to be the same as a lot of other people’s, it is easily one of the greatest sci-fi stories ever told. Like many great stories, this one happened to get a sequel. Or in the case of “The Matrix,” two in one year. Don’t usually see that play out much. Today we’re gonna be talking about the first of those two sequels, “The Matrix Reloaded!” Are we able to load some digital goodness on the screen with this film? Here are my two cents!

“The Matrix Reloaded” is directed by the Wachowskis and stars Keanu Reeves (Point Break, Johnny Mnemonic), Carrie-Anne Moss (Models Inc., Memento), Laurence Fishburne (Event Horizon, What’s Love Got to Do with It), Hugo Weaving (Babe, The Interview), Jada Pinkett Smith (Scream 2, A Different World), and Gloria Foster (Law & Order, Leonard Part 6). This film is the sequel to the 1999 box office smash “The Matrix,” one of the biggest R rated films of all time. This sequel follows Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus as they continue their fight against a machine army. This time, the agents are bigger, stronger, and upgraded. SEQUEL S*IT!

You know that sequel advertsing bulls*it? You know what I’m talking about! BIGGER IS BETTER! Forget the first movie! This second movie is gonna make the first movie look like the zeroth movie! I’ll admit, I was three when this film came out, therefore I never had a chance to watch it in the theater, nor did I get to see the trailers. But even I know that this is one of those films that became a literal phenomenon. Heck, this first film became so big, yeah I know it is a franchise now, but that first film is the one everyone talks about, that they apparently took time to reference it in kids’ movies, despite the R rating! Just look at “The LEGO Batman Movie” and “Space Jam: A New Legacy.” Both films are from Warner Animation Group, and even though that first film has blood, language, and tons of violence, they still found a way to put it in a Looney Tunes story! The first film was respected, it won an Oscar, it kind of set a standard for visual effects and sci-fi. If you ask me, I think Keanu Reeves has been directed better in other projects, but that’s just a me problem, and it’s one that would be difficult to turn into a me solution. Time travel doesn’t exist, and I don’t work for Warner Brothers.

I want to talk about some things I like about “The Matrix Reloaded.” The action is great, and in some cases, I think it may almost be better here than in the original. The highway chase was epic, the fight in the courtyard with all the Smiths was wildly entertaining (I’ll get into a problem about it in a second), and there was some pretty badass stuff in the beginning and end of the film with Trinity. The visuals of the film still hold up today. I would not say they’re maybe as good as the visuals from 1999, but they’re still worthy of falling into the “eye candy” classification. I also really like, going back to the bigger is better idea, the expanding of Zion. The first movie teased it, but now we get to see more of it here. It’s not the highlight of the film, but I didn’t hate it. There’s one montage that goes on for a bit too long, but nevertheless.

This idea of “bigger is better” is not just something that one would put in the marketing for a sequel, but something you’d actually see QUOTED in a sequel like this one! There’s a scene where Neo is fighting an Agent and he’s trying to kick his ass. When he thinks he’s got it, he senses the agent’s increased in strength, so we get to hear Neo utter “Upgrades.” I like how this film gives our heroes some tougher competition. But it’s a blessing and a curse at the same time. I think the best example of this is during the fight where we see Neo all by himself in a courtyard after talking to the Oracle. So all these Agents come out and take on Neo altogether. Look, the scene between Neo and all these agents is one of the most exciting, thrilling, and perhaps badass things I have witnessed in a sci-fi movie, but by the end of it, the more I think about it, it almost feels like the stakes have been minimized. We get to see fiveish minutes of Neo fending off all these agents like they’re flying stormtroopers.

“Ah! The agents! They fly now!” I don’t know where that came from. Just go with it.

While it’s totally badass, it also makes the recently exposed “upgrades” feel like nothing. Look, they’re obviously referencing these “upgrades” in the sense that the Agents have gotten stronger. In the quality/quantity expression, the upgrades would more likely link to quality. So when we get to the quantity portion about fifty minutes into the film, the upgrades seem to lessen their meaning.

The great thing about the first “Matrix” is that we see Neo kind of go through a transition from ordinary person to hero. Yes, the hero’s journey trope been done numerous times. But it is often a successful route to take a story. Who doesn’t love a hero? While there is some struggle or newfound obstacles in this sequel, Neo doesn’t come off as someone who is trying to make a massive change amongst himself. Much of the struggle that we see from Neo as a character comes at the end of the film, which is not a terrible thing. That’s kind of the moment where you want a character to fall to their lowest point. It’s the whole thing about getting back on the horse. You may be down but you can get back up.

Now I’m not asking for every movie to be the hero’s journey. That would therefore make every movie the same as the next. I’m just saying that I prefer seeing a Neo find his way through the Matrix and learn about its roots. I feel like the first film gave us a better opportunity to unravel Neo’s personality. Now he’s kind of a robotic god.

You know what’s also bigger in this movie? The slow motion! But it ain’t better! If we learned anything from the “Sharknado” franchise, it’s that too much of something can make that something become worse. I’ve heard this statement through the walls of the Internet before, but I’ll say it because it is kind of true. This movie could have been trimmed in half in terms of the runtime… Okay, maybe not that much, but the trimming would be significant, if the slow motion was not a thing. This film is two hours and eighteen minutes long. Granted, I don’t have a huge problem with the runtime. The pacing was okay. It could have been worse, but if you take out the slow motion, I think you could have trimmed down that runtime quite a bit. Maybe I’m imagining things, I don’t know. But in that first movie, the slow-motion felt like it meant something. But similar to the “Star Wars” prequels where nearly every scene had a lightsaber (not that I’M complaining), it felt like every other moment of the film had some semblance of slow motion. It was kinda ridiculous. Slow motion is cool! But you know what’s also cool? Ice! And if you touch it for too long your hands are gonna go numb so let’s cool down the slow motion a bit!

KEANU REEVES in Warner Bros. PicturesÕ and Village Roadshow PicturesÕ provocative futuristic action thriller “The Matrix Reloaded,” also starring Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. ©2003 WARNER BROS. – U.S., CANADA, BAHAMAS & BERMUDA. ©2003 VILLAGE ROADSHOW FILMS (BVI) LTD – ALL OTHER TERRITORIES (ALL RIGHTS RESERVED USED BY PERMISSION). PHOTOGRAPHS TO BE USED SOLELY FOR ADVERTISING, PROMOTION, PUBLICITY OR REVIEWS OF THIS SPECIFIC MOTION PICTURE AND TO REMAIN THE PROPERTY OF THE STUDIO. NOT FOR SALE OR REDISTRIBUTION

I also really didn’t like the end of the film. I think part of the climax had some cool action, and seeing Neo fly through the city is something that will forever be in my memory. I love seeing that on screen where he’s flying and all these cars are continuously piling up behind him. It’s iconic. But for those who have not seen this movie before, there are a couple key moments after that which I liked less. One involves a character I mentioned already and a situation that feels totally impractical, and the other one involves something that I feel didn’t have the impact I thought it was trying to go for. I don’t know, this movie goes bigger, but really minimizes the oomph in the final moments. Strange.

The Matrix Reloaded (2003) - IMDb

In the end, “The Matrix Reloaded” had some glitches. While it is not the worst sci-fi film ever, it is a massive step down from the original. I talked about how my one big con from the original film is the way Neo was portrayed, which I assume mostly had to do with directing. Even though I think he could have been portrayed better in the original, I still think was written better in the original. He’s written worse in this film, but Keanu Reeves’s performance here, in his defense, matches the slightly more lackluster writing. Again, the like bigger is better thing, it’s a blessing and a curse. I’ll always remember the first “Matrix” as one of my favorite sci-fi films. The second film, not so much. I’m going to give “The Matrix Reloaded” a 5/10.

“The Matrix Reloaded” is available on VHS, DVD, HD DVD, Blu-ray, 4K Blu-ray, and is also available to watch on HBO Max.

Thanks for reading this review! Be sure to stay tuned for next week, December 19th to be specific, because I will be reviewing “The Matrix Revolutions,” capping the ongoing “The Matrix Reviewed” review series and ending the ongoing trend of reviewing older movies in 2021. Until my top 10 best and worst of the year, which may end up coming out late, just so you’re aware, I will solely focus on reviewing films released in 2021 including “Ron’s Gone Wrong,” “West Side Story,” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home” just to name a few examples. If you want to see this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Matrix Reloaded?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite slow-motion scene in film history? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!