Monthly Archives: June 2019

Movie Review: John Carter

“We do not cause the destruction of a world, Captain Carter. We simply manage it. Feed off it, if you like.”

John Carter has quite the reputation. Such a branding occurs when you’re known as one of the biggest box office flops in film history. Based on literature from 1912, dreams of bringing the Mars man story to silver screens had been on an 80+ year tour of development hell, an unprecedented run of conflicting approaches and rights transfers. Many were familiar with Edgar Rice Burroughs’ work, the same man who created Tarzan. None had a clear vision of its future. Scripts were drafted and scrapped, illustrations and footage lost, rediscovered and edited. Directors and destinations were seemingly picked off a roulette wheel.

All of this infighting demonstrated two things: 1) the material was highly regarded and 2) the standards placed upon any adaptation were very high.

Tarzan was a huge hit back in the early 1900’s. It was an ongoing series for over 20 years and spurred an animated Disney classic. The ceiling for any production of the John Carter franchise was just as ambitious. This was a gold mine of content others had decided to stow away. The technology to make this work isn’t here yet, they said.Image result for john carter movie poster free use

As we well know, the causation of anything in Hollywood is due to the pursuit of the greenbacks. The idea any production company would sit on something this big demonstrates the added pressure on any poor soul who decided to undertake this. Whoever it was and whenever it was, it needed to be a grand slam. Anything less would not suffice.

100 years, a full century after its inception, John Carter arrived.

It bombed.

Massively.

Those at the top of the food chain shoulder much of the blame.

Prior to John Carter, director Andrew Stanton had never coached a live-action picture. Stanton was a golden boy for Pixar, responsible for heading the ships Finding Nemo and WALL-E to Oscar gold. He was an illustrator and a painter was what Disney needed for John Carter.

However, a painter, or an engineer, for that matter, are often only as good as their tools and Stanton had zero, circle that, zero experience with live-action filming. He had the vision, sure but not the ability to implement it. Many people are musically talented and many can create singles but they are unable to transcribe what’s in their mind onto a track nor mold and finesse it past a rough draft. They don’t have the knowledge to do so and are therefore handicapped. Some people can translate and some can’t. Stanton could communicate but not in the medium he was tasked with.

Stanton would later admit to reshooting much of the movie twice. TWICE.

The Los Angeles Times quoted him as saying, “The thing I had to explain to Disney was, ‘You’re asking a guy who’s only known how to do it this way to suddenly do it with one reshoot.'” he explained later. “I said, ‘I’m not gonna get it right the first time, I’ll tell you that right now.'”

This should have been a bright red flag. To reshoot a majority of a film once is concerning. It strongly suggests a lack of confidence in your product and a conflicting direction, not to mention rising costs. To reshoot twice? Take us to DEFCON 1.

According to that same Los Angeles Times article, multiple media analysts and people familiar with the picture’s funding said the film would need to broach $700 million to break even. A piece from The New York Times reported the number was closer to $600.

It managed $284 at the box office.

The New York Times reported gross mismanagement of the product from the top down. The heads of Disney at the time carried little knowledge of live-action filmmaking and Stanton seemed reluctant to listen to anyone from Disney anyway, turning instead to his old animation buddies at Pixar for consultations.

Disney, fed up with years of stagnation on the project, gave almost universal decision-making responsibilities to Stanton, allowing him to override Disney’s own marketing and advertising departments.

So yes. John Carter has quite the reputation.

I curate my research post viewing to remain unbiased. I can tell you I’m not surprised to be discovering all this.

No, I did not enjoy John Carter. It reads disheveled and uncoordinated. It suffers from a heavy dosage of expositional overheating. There is a lot of information to go over and the film utilizes little tact in divulging it, leaving its universe resembling a young child’s room post playdate: flung upside down and sporadically placed, with pieces to who knows what in the corner and other key items from the room seemingly escaped via time rift. So, a film shot three times, essentially.

Such gross mismanagement in any endeavor is near impossible to shield. Opening exposition, especially with rapid name dropping, is often concerning. Steering of the wheel in reshoots can cause actors to lose grip of their characters, creating broken glass art. Representations without a strong heading exude banality and blanks. That’s why John Carter feels like a heavily underwritten character. We know little of his past and possibly less about his current goals and desires. I can’t comment on a diaphanous character arc.

Taylor Kitsch won’t get a lot of blame from me. I would like to know if he read the novels and what his ideas regarding John Carter were. It’s likely his ambitions were curtailed along with everyone else’s under Stanton’s calling. The acting is subpar, although I will give a pass to Mark Strong, who served well in a limited role.

While all of this stuff could have been foreseen, one would think Stanton’s expertise in computerized graphics would carry over. I can think of no rational reason why it wouldn’t.

It doesn’t.

John Carter had plenty of capital behind it and as we’ve gone over, Stanton was given near full control of the reins. Those reshoots afforded him and his team the opportunity to polish the visuals Stanton had built his brand on but you can shine a turd from sunup to sundown. Doesn’t change what it is at the end of the day.

It’s quite an underwhelming spectacle. The contours aren’t exceptionally strong nor vibrant. Much of the creature and vehicle design is average. I can’t think of one shot of cinematography that was memorable.

The only reason I didn’t score this film even lower than I did is because I think the original content, written a century ago, is strong. I’m intrigued by some of the concepts perused, if ever so slightly. There’s simply too much material to express and not enough time to do so. It’s quite possible a creation like this is better in written form and I’d hope so. This was quite a slog.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (The MatrixL.A. ConfidentialHerTakenCaptain America: Civil War)

80-89  It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Matrix Reloaded,WantedLaw Abiding CitizenScott Pilgrim Vs. The WorldThe 40-Year-Old Virgin)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (The Matrix Revolutions, Triple FrontierI am LegendIp Man 2Ip Man)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (2 Fast 2 FuriousDoctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide Squad)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (XXX, The SilenceThe Fast and the FuriousBrooklyn’s FinestDeath Race)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (DoomThe Fast and the Furious: Tokyo DriftPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesPower RangersUnderworld: Evolution)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (High-RiseMost Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturion)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The SnowmanAvalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe Visit)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for John Carter: 43.

A romance in the preliminary stages of budding let alone blooming, a character carousel with no pull and a stark panorama, John Carter doesn’t connect on many punches and certainly not on its calling cards.

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Movie Review: XXX

“Do we want to drop another mouse in the snake pit or do we want to send our own snake and let him crawl in?”

No, this isn’t a porno.

You can’t talk about this film without first mentioning how ridiculous its premise is. I’m sorry, I don’t like to be that guy but someone has to be.

The government has lost three of its agents and its next course of action is to hire a convict. Doesn’t seem to be a great plan. Samuel L. Jackson will make the same argument that Viola Davis makes in Suicide Squad: they’re expendable (true), programmable (haha, no) and controllable (also no).

If you’re going to run with this story, that’s fine. Some people need to be taught who’s really in control and often the best lessons can only be learned in trying situations. Do I think it’s illogical to believe this procedure would work? Yes. Do I think it’s unreasonable to think someone would try it? No. Humanity will never fail to surprise you and it regularly takes the wrong path multiple (sometimes an infinite number of) times before figuring it out. See the Jurassic Park franchise, for example. Some would argue our species never learns.Image result for xxx 2002 movie poster free use

People, more than anything, like to control. They do not want to ride shotgun. They manipulate and pull strings for their own benefit and the thrill and reward of steering what is perceived to be uncontrollable comes with quite a thrill of accomplishment and a grand source of power. It is the darker side of ambition. What we can’t rationalize, whether that is criminal behavior or superheroes, we want to control. They’re not part of the plan. What’s not part of the plan upsets the established order of things. What isn’t part of the program is by definition something which seeks to disrupt it and what seeks to destroy must be rerouted to a more essential purpose or erased from the picture.

I’ve highlighted this scene quite a few times on this blog. It is one of my favorite sequences in cinema because it is a message so pervasive and applicable. The reviews of the Nolan trilogy are on the horizon.

Insert Xander Cage, an idealistic extreme sports expert who can’t be bought. Cage isn’t excessively violent but he rejects the established order. What is true of any idealist is true of Cage: his mind is his greatest weapon. When you can’t be bought and won’t shun your values, you can’t be manipulated and that scares people because it means you’re a rogue dog. We know what people high up in the food chain think of strays.

Cage is tasked with infiltrating an anarchist group suspected of dangerous activity, the chemical weapons variety. Given Cage’s personality, it’s a perfect fit. This film could become Point Break real quick.

It doesn’t and I find myself wishing it did. The initial setup is well executed, dialogue mostly tolerable and action scenes with Vin Diesel always seem to test the absurdity scale. Unique gadgets becoming of the spy genre are introduced.

The second half…oh, boy.

It’s a doozie. The likableness of the first half is because of its distinctive differences. It wants to be a spy movie but shows a potential bloom of disparity, a promising individual rather than an additive to an already predetermined sum. Its guts disappear in the second portion.

Xander Cage is the seed which was supposed to grow as the film progressed. His character gets predictable in the second half, demonstrating an arc drawn many times over. The intrigue, the pop this film initially demonstrated? Fizzled and no one likes flat pop.

Unorthodox approaches pique interest but people like things to stay irregular with some familiarity sprinkled in. Charisma and confidence in your story is far more attractive than cowardice. XXX starts following a blueprint and floor plans just don’t have the same glamour and personality as a first-of-its-kind model.

Removed from action sequences and, let’s be honest, what Vin Diesel does well, XXX loses its flair. It doesn’t have the script to thoroughly explore rebellious nature, settling for scratching the surface of the topic before casually walking away from the exhibit. This is about as awkward as your mind imagines it to be.

The forced romance ploy is growing old with me and doesn’t do this production any favors. It absorbs screen time which should be utilized on that departed exhibit or a subsidiary of it. The motivations of our nemesis are left purposely vague and Diesel’s Cage seems to love playing hero, for whatever reason. Usually one would like to see the gradual transition of the character rather than see him jump off a cliff for no particular reason other than there being a female in the near vicinity.

With the wit from the opener removed, character lacking and story suffering, XXX ends up looking like this: a horse coming across the finish line without a jockey.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (The Matrix,L.A. ConfidentialHerTakenCaptain America: Civil War)

80-89  It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Matrix Reloaded,WantedLaw Abiding CitizenScott Pilgrim Vs. The WorldThe 40-Year-Old Virgin)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (The Matrix Revolutions, Triple FrontierI am LegendIp Man 2Ip Man)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (2 Fast 2 FuriousDoctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide Squad)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The SilenceThe Fast and the FuriousBrooklyn’s FinestDeath RaceWind River)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (DoomThe Fast and the Furious: Tokyo DriftPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesPower Rangers,Underworld: Evolution)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (High-RiseMost Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturion)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The SnowmanAvalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe Visit)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for XXX: 59.

XXX is a room with one sparkler. It dazzles early but sparklers have a short lifespan, leaving us in a void waiting for the next one to light for a considerable amount of time. That doesn’t happen and the only appropriate response upon leaving the attraction is to inform the operator, “I think it’s broken.”

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Movie Review: The Matrix Revolutions

“‘Why, Mr. Anderson, why? Why do you persist?’

“‘Because I choose to.'”

Warner Brothers made a daring decision in 2003 to release both The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions in the same year, something no studio would have the gonads to do today. It was a move that may have cost them. Reloaded had a box office haul of $740 million while Revolutions ran out of gas at $427. Over a billion for two films is a good day’s work but had the third and final chapter been held hostage until the next calendar year, it’s possible the sum might have been doubled.

The two sequels were made concurrently, similar to Peter Jackson’s initial photography of all three Lord of the Rings films simultaneously and despite that, The Matrix Revolutions is an disowned cousin of its older family.

I’m unsure if the studios put pressure on the Wachowskis. Given how long ago these films were made, it’s information not readily available but it’s certainly worth wondering. The Wachowskis are artists in the purest form. It’s hard to believe they’d bend but with pressure, sometimes it’s only a matter of time before we break.

Image result for matrix revolutions movie poster free use

The Matrix Revolutions runs like an imposter, a copycat and shell of its former self. It lacks original tone and message and becomes a The Hobbit: The Battle of the Seven Armies gorefest rather than what the material dictated. A series thus far built on heavy dosages of thematic dissertation and sociopolitical undertakings runs like a wounded soldier jacked with Toradol.

That might be a bit harsh. The Matrix Revolutions still offers a pedigree on spectacle. As with everything else, it can’t compare with its elders but it hasn’t completely lost its identity. It knows what it’s good at and where its talent lies. It’s just overzealous and doesn’t know when a little subtlety and tact would be to its benefit.

With its brains run amuck, chapter three is a nonstop shoot ’em up reminiscent of scores of blockbusters who have tried bullet porn as a cinematic formula. The Wachowskis are capable of much more and audiences deserve better than this effort.

The Matrix Revolutions gets so bold as to throw in a Man of Steel bout in its final stage, one whose punches can only land so hard given the lethal combos we’ve seen in earlier installments, flurries this match never brings whether because of preparation or fatigue. I think it’s more likely the dog’s heart wasn’t in the fight.

This trilogy built itself on complexities of the human psyche and lectures of intellect. This was a welcomed approach. I think viewers would agree most action novellas don’t get very mentally taxing. Many of them are braindead. Go read my review of The Fast and the Furious, for example. I could hyperlink quite a few more of them. At times, it feels like they’re this blog’s calling card.

This trifecta’s want to be an individual made it appealing and enabled its rebellious nature. It meshed well with the punk nature of the 90’s. It both had its own style and adopted it from the direction America was taking at the time: one of character discovery, technological innovation and an expanded understanding of what was and wasn’t possible. All three of those identities are present in The Matrix. It’s little wonder why this premise caught on. Yes, the visual flourish was some of the best of its decade but the message was what really hooked you. Visuals can awe you at a high level but story and character are where it’s at, my dudes. The Matrix had that.

The Matrix Revolutions? Not so much. Established characters find their arc limited to the arm strength of a teeball player while any new supporting characters or transfers from part two will find their script lacking any emotional impact. The writing the Wachowskis’ reputation is built on doesn’t arrive and in bonanzas like this, actors find themselves doing more action than acting.

With few lines and much of the camera’s time spent on visual effects, Keanu’s presence is shortchanged. The film’s second act completely removes him, leaving nearly a half hour absent of two of the franchise’s principle characters and very little of the third. Without the team’s star playmakers, the unit struggles. Better casts can hold a film together, carry the torch per se but not The Matrix franchise. The series has orbited Neo from beginning to end. Abandoning that orbit has consequences for everything else in the system. Keanu Reeves in his signature role is almost purposefully pushed aside in the finale, abandoning the choir with a dissonant chord.

I found myself waiting for the cavalry during this presentation. Surely, the generals will send them in. It’s a neck-and-neck race and they have the aces. We’ve seen them before. What are they waiting for? Why is this the path they chose?

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (The Matrix, L.A. ConfidentialHerTakenCaptain America: Civil War)

80-89  It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Matrix Reloaded, WantedLaw Abiding CitizenScott Pilgrim Vs. The WorldThe 40-Year-Old Virgin)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Triple FrontierI am LegendIp Man 2Ip ManKong: Skull Island)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (2 Fast 2 FuriousDoctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide Squad)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The SilenceThe Fast and the FuriousBrooklyn’s FinestDeath RaceWind River)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (DoomThe Fast and the Furious: Tokyo DriftPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesPower RangersUnderworld: Evolution)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (High-RiseMost Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturion)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The SnowmanAvalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe Visit)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for The Matrix Revolutions: 76.

Allured by theatrics rather than its own talents, The Matrix Revolutions tastes of betrayal and views like splatter art: disinterested and without any sense of decorum. People dabble in blotches hoping to accidentally uncover splendor. The first two introductions already had it and so, while it’s an average picture, The Matrix Revolutions feels like a waste of time.

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Movie Review: The Matrix Reloaded

“Hope. It is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength and your greatest weakness.”

Sequels are and always have been harder to write than original content. Originals are like the honeymoon phase of a marriage: passionate, thrilling, sexy, endearing. This is the life, boys. It does not get better than this.

Everything when you first pick up the pen is vigorous, an adrenaline shot of creativity and youthful exuberance. All the paint and tools you could wish for are at your disposal and the canvas is fresh, hot off the press. Free roaming through a magical forest or entering a celestial void are but two of the options. Possibilities are truly endless.

After the framing and hanging of your portrait, there’s a sense of loss the next time you pick up the brush. There’s joy from what you accomplished but sadness that you may never be able to grasp it again, at least not the way you once did. There’s a reason people use the phrase “once-in-a-lifetime experience”. You may make your way back someday but that moment in time has passed and who you were is no longer who you are. Neverland will never be the same.

Image result for matrix reloaded movie poster free use

Yet, a second visit offers a second chance and second opportunity and while a second can, by definition, never be the first, it can be a life of its own when done correctly. A lot of the same pieces may be at play and the general constructs likely stand unmoved but the cogs of the realm are moving once again with a sense of purpose.

A rejuvenated self is certainly thrilled to be back but the longer a journey takes, the more time the quest goes on, meaning there’s an inherent need for further character mining, theme dissertation and the tapping of new plot synapses. The Matrix Reloaded struggles with that.

It’s by no means painful to watch. The Matrix Reloaded is a pretty good film individually. The Wachowskis don’t flounder visually: the stunt choreography and visual effects make a smooth flux from station to station and are the sequel’s headline attraction. Precision and attention to detail are at a high premium here. In fact, some scenes required the invention of new technologies. The famed bullet sequence in the original product required similar innovation. The Wachowskis were always looking for the latest discovery in visual mastery during these productions and in doing so, became pioneers of film editing, digital simulation and even virtual cinematography. The eye bedazzling is impressive and it’s entertaining to see the film’s neurons firing back and forth. It makes for quite a firework show.

*Insert segue

Supporting characters are often the most difficult to write. I find writing central casting carries a sense of calm comparable to knitting or pottery. There is a procedure to it, at least for me, providing the mind a pathway to navigate. I’ve learned it’s challenging for me to channel myself without some form of structure. Direction is easily understood with guardrails. Once guidelines are in place, you can grab a paintball gun and shoot away, develop contours both thin and heavy and begin creating a life.

Secondary proxies are intentionally limited. A role player can be as simple as a funny man but even a comedian comes in a number of varieties. You’re required to make a gag humorous but if you make it too funny then your primary persona is overshadowed and that can snowball into a laundry list of problems. Stories often covet balance in a pyramid structure.

Removed from four pivotal pillars, The Matrix Reloaded yearns for personality. Neo (Keanu Reeves), Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) carry most of the screen time and Hugo Weaving’s Agent Smith takes purposeful strides. Whenever the camera focuses anywhere else, it’s time wasted. Much of this tape is spent on expository dumps via subplot rather than the theological gratification the Wachowskis have gifted us with on many an occasion. Portions of dialogue get clunky and bloated at times, giving points of thematic importance the appearance of someone who needs to layoff the fast food. This happens to writers from time to time but comes unexpected from the Wachowskis, especially in their earlier history. Usually this added parfait gets removed during editing. This scene isn’t a throwaway. There’s some nuisance and message here but it’s also a car stalling to start.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (The Matrix, L.A. ConfidentialHerTakenCaptain America: Civil War)

80-89  It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (WantedLaw Abiding CitizenScott Pilgrim Vs. The WorldThe 40-Year-Old VirginThe Conjuring)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Triple FrontierI am LegendIp Man 2Ip ManKong: Skull Island)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (2 Fast 2 FuriousDoctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide Squad)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The SilenceThe Fast and the FuriousBrooklyn’s FinestDeath RaceWind River)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (DoomThe Fast and the Furious: Tokyo DriftPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesPower RangersUnderworld: Evolution)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (High-RiseMost Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturion)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The SnowmanAvalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe Visit)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for The Matrix Reloaded: 83.

Talks of destiny, choice and purpose drive this vehicle to its conclusion and its action keeps audiences at a standstill but a lack of subplot texture and new faces bring some dullness which prevents it from reaching higher precipices.

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Movie Review: The Matrix

“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”

Adolescence is a time when you’re still discovering yourself. I’m of the opinion life is about the continual growth of an everchanging persona. We as people evolve and adapt the same way most creatures do. Who we are five years ago is different from who we are now and we’ll have a greater understanding of ourselves in another five years.

When I first watched The Matrix, I was not impressed. Understand this was in the late 2000’s. I had just entered senior high school and The Matrix, as the public is ripe to do, had hyped it quite a bit. Unreasonable expectations were put upon it. I also acknowledge I didn’t understand some of the content. No such problems for me these days.

Image result for the matrix movie poster free use

The Matrix was made in 1999, which is quite shocking when you look at it now. Oscars were bestowed for film editing, visual effects, sound effects and sound editing. Oscar winners usually age like fine wine and so is the case here.

The Wachowskis are visionaries, fluid artists and studied penmen. They are makers of the eye like Luc Besson, persons of vivid imagination and the essential ability to translate those images from mind to parchment. They conjure spectacles and impossibilities in their spare time. The Wachowskis are magicians of sorts, highlighting bravado with a deft touch. They’re obsessed artists, enamoured and fully committed to all aspects. If only all makers could be this way.

The digital effects are perforating and the stunts elegant. That’s where a lot of the film’s value comes from, as well it should. It’s hard not to look at the Mona Lisa in the Louvre and think that’s the only thing that matters there. It’s a genuine masterpiece.

I don’t want to go over the top and compare The Matrix to the Mona Lisa but The Matrix is a great movie, one with chivalry and superb texture. Time reveals all things, they say and I think The Matrix would be received with more acclaim today than it was in the last century. Each frame glows in a different way, each segment utilized to its highest propriety. The Matrix has an aurora going for it, all crafted and brewed by master chemists of literature. I’ve mentioned the vitality of tone many a time and The Matrix has its theme firm in place. A lack of substance can make all the beauty in the world go to waste for the wise. A task removed from heart feels diluted and a mind without activity will decay. The Wachowskis best novella has all three elements and it’s hard not to fall in love with that.

The punk era’s scent is all over this film. Surprised they didn’t sneak Feels Like Teen Spirit into the discography. It’s rebellious and challenges structure while preaching autonomy.

The movie is not for those who struggle to operate upstairs. You can soak in the action and drink it that way if you want to but there’s a lot more you’ll be missing out on, including the trashing of all preconceptions and the introduction of a familiar philosophy. The Wachowskis were so dedicated to these principles they tested the cast on theme-based literature. Break out of the chains, breathe in and storm forward.

Now to Keanu, a man I have a love/hate relationship with because for as talented as Mr. Reeves can be, he can also be very bland (Constantine, Speed). Johnny Mnemonic is an entertaining bad movie but removed from one scene, isn’t exactly a calling card. 47 Ronin is truly awful. The Replacements is manageable. Reeves has had a lot of one-offs and great actors don’t generally have that many blunders.

There are roles the man was born to play. The Matrix series was one of those and that’s likely because Neo could be literally anyone. He is a white sheet, an amorphous character. While given direction, Reeves’ long stare serves as an asset. Neo has quite the story to tell but not a lot of words to tell it with. The chosen one trope is an overdone concept but placed in ripe condition here. Just because it’s a piece used often doesn’t mean it can’t work.

A final shoutout to Hugo Weaving, who carries command in every role and Lawrence Fishburne, who reminds us that fate and destiny can be intertwined and despite that, we all have a choice.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (L.A. ConfidentialHerTakenCaptain America: Civil WarDeadpool)

80-89  It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Wanted, Law Abiding CitizenScott Pilgrim Vs. The WorldThe 40-Year-Old VirginThe Conjuring)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Triple FrontierI am LegendIp Man 2Ip ManKong: Skull Island)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (2 Fast 2 FuriousDoctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide Squad)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The SilenceThe Fast and the FuriousBrooklyn’s FinestDeath RaceWind River)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (DoomThe Fast and the Furious: Tokyo DriftPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesPower RangersUnderworld: Evolution)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (High-RiseMost Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturion)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The SnowmanAvalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe Visit)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for The Matrix: 93.

John Wick is critically exceptional and Bill & Ted has a large following but The Matrix is the product Reeves will be known for. This film is visually timeless thus far and that’s quite an accomplishment. That, along with researched, educated writing makes for a sci-fi punk film worth watching this summer if you’ve pushed it off for the last 20 years.

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