The Matrix ranks very high on my list of favourite films. But I have always wished the series stopped there. To put it politely, the Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions were not very good, and as far as my lists go, they only rank very high on my list of unnecessary sequels. Given that trend, it seemed inevitable that The Matrix Resurrections would be nothing more than another unnecessary entry in the franchise. And yet, The Matrix Resurrections feels surprisingly worthwhile, feeding viewers’ nostalgia by making that yearning the core of the film.
Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) is the creator of a massively successful videogame trilogy about the Matrix, a virtual world created by machines to hold humans captive. Thomas (a.k.a. Neo) has everything he could have wanted, but can’t escape the feeling that something is not quite right with his world. So when a stranger (Jessica Henwick) offers him the choice of escaping to the “real world”, you know he’s going to take it, if only to find out how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Except for the up-front reference to the Matrix as a video game concept, the plot is literally copied and pasted from the first film. Those similarities work in the Matrix’s world since we were told in the first trilogy that Neo’s adventures were not the first time around even then. What is confusing to Neo is that he, like the audience, thought he had broken the cycle by making different choices than his predecessors and ultimately by sacrificing himself to save humans and machines alike from the malevolent Agent Smith.
One key difference between this film and Neo’s last adventure is his focus. This time, he’s not trying to save humanity. He’s only trying to rescue Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) from the Matrix. That narrow mission is a welcome change from the previous two entries in the series, which had so many moving parts that they left Neo and Trinity offscreen for extended periods of time. In the original trilogy we were repeatedly told their love for each other made Neo different from his predecessors so it feels right that this time, Neo’s mission is to save their relationship.
No other stakes than that are needed. For Neo, saving his love is enough, as it should be. It’s refreshing that writer-director Lana Wachowski was able to resist the “bigger is better” ethos that all-too-frequently derails sequels (Venom: Let There Be Carnage shows how easy it is for a sequel to lose sight of what made the first movie succeed). Happily, that choice is what makes The Matrix Resurrections worthwhile, not just because it avoids the sequel trap, but because in doing so it gives us the chance to move past the other sequels to a world that feels limitless (mirroring the end of the first film). We finally have a satisfying end to Neo and Trinity’s story.
The film opens with a David Attenborough nature documentary-style narration as we swim through the reef toward Bikini Bottom, where our protagonist resides. It’s a nice touch though possibly lost on a lot of kids, and unfortunately, pretty much the highlight of the entire movie.
In today’s extended episode, Plankton (Mr. Lawrence) decides that his longtime rival Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown) is not the true bane of his existence; it’s his devoted employee SpongeBob (Tom Kenny) who seems to thwart all his nefarious plans. And so Plankton hatches yet another nefarious plan, this time to rid Bikini Bottom of SpongeBob by kidnapping his beloved pet snail, Gary. Gary winds up in the hands of King Poseidon (Matt Berry), ruler of The Lost City of Atlantic City, who’s just a little bit obsessed with youth (and snail slime, or snail mucin, an even worse word, is an actual, legitimate ingredient in a lot of skin care products). So SpongeBob, his best friend Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke), and their robotic chauffeur Otto (Awkwafina) will embark on a road trip adventure that will take them across the sea and even on land in search of said Lost City. On the way they’ll find a sage named Sage (Keanu Reeves) and be guided spiritually if not geographically by him in their quest to bring Gary home.
Sean and I are not fans of SpongeBob generally, and without prior attachment to these characters, this movie isn’t exactly spectacular. Longtime fans might be quite happy to find out how young, cute SpongeBob, Patrick, and Sandy (Carolyn Lawrence) first met, but for the rest of us it feels suspiciously like padding for an extremely thin concept.
Not to mention you REALLY can’t get nitpick this show. You have to accept that they live under the sea AND their glasses can still be only half full AND there can still be puddles on the ground AND they can light grills and keep burgers from getting soggy etc etc. It’s a cartoon so I’m going to work on letting this shit go but just know that I’m on to you, Nickelodeon.
Sponge On The Run isn’t really meant for non-fans, and possibly not for adult fans either. Its simple story is constantly interrupted and sidetracked, with so many distractions no one would blame you for losing track of the plot. The stars of the show are upstaged by a tumbleweed and the truth is you’re just not going to be blown away by this film. There’s a slim chance you might be entertained by it though, at least mildly-to-moderately, especially if you care for these characters and wouldn’t mind paying them a socially-distanced visit.
I didn’t realize until recently that I had never actually seen a Bill & Ted movie. Sean made me watch their Excellent Adventure knowing this new movie was coming down the pipes. I guess Bill & Ted are just so much a part of popular culture that I was familiar enough with the characters to believe I’d watched it. But actually watching it made me realize it’s such a bizarre trip I never would have forgotten it. We never got around to the second movie and I wasn’t too bothered by that but then Sean read a review of the new one that hinted it revisited the first two and felt maybe he should have pushed harder. Lest I not be able to follow the narrative complexities of Bill & Ted Face The Music. Except the sequel’s rental price was twice the going rate. Clearly someone planned a clever little monopoly. I opted to have Sean read me a synopsis instead and to this day I 90% believe he was pranking me. If two surfer dudes travelling through time in a phone booth in order to ace their homework was weird (and it was!), their Bogus Journey is even more unbelievable, being chased by robot versions of themselves sent to kill them from the future, winding up dead, and playing Battleship with Death himself. At least that’s what Sean would have me believe. I realize Bogus is right in the name, but this still sounds so weird it can possibly be a movie. Right? It sounds like Sean married the plots of Terminator and Little Nicky and thought I wouldn’t notice. Except that plot is referenced in the new film. So if this is a hoax, it’s pretty elaborate.
Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) are still the best of friends. They’ve named their daughters after each other and bought side by side homes. Their wives, the two princesses they brought back in the first film, find this a little excessive, but Bill and Ted have been charged with writing the song that will unite and save the world, and in the face of that you can hardly complain. Except it’s been nearly 30 years since we last saw them and the song has still not been written. They’ve had ups and downs in their career and now they’re middle aged men playing weddings and bar mitzvahs. They still haven’t fullfilled their destiny but the future calls – it’s Kelly (Kristen Schaal), daughter of Rufus – and tells them to light a fire under their butts. And it sends another robot for extra insurance. Luckily their teenage daughters Thea (Samara Weaving) and Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine) have a little more hustle, and they probe their fathers into action.
Bill & Ted Face The Music is not a ‘good’ movie. If you weren’t a fan of the first two, this one’s not going to convert you. But on the same token, if you were/are a fan, you’re getting exactly what you hoped for. Keanu and Winter slide back into their roles like they’ve never really left them. It’s a little unnerving to see those characters reach middle age and still be acting like dumb teenagers. They haven’t done a lot of personal growth in the last 30 years, which is frustrating if you’re married to them, but satisfying if you’re simply a fan. Weaving and Lundy-Paine are a little less consistent. Lundy-Paine inhabits Keanu even better than he himself does. She’s got Ted down cold and never blunders, but Weaving is comparatively low-key and thus feels out of place.
However, it must be said that Sean, a fan, giggled throughout. And of course Keanu is as watchable as ever. Lately he’s done a lot of action stuff, with a few comedic cameos, so this full-length feature really hits the comedy spot and it’s nice to see him having fun. He’s still got it. And he’s still got an easy chemistry with Winter. Theirs are not the only familiar faces you’ll see in the film. This isn’t going to unite or save the world but it’s a bit of nostalgic goodness in an otherwise crap year for film. It’s the bit of levity we deserve and nostalgia we crave. And you just can’t go wrong with Keanu.
Neither critics nor audiences seem to like this one much, but everyone’s game to give it a try because Keanu Reeves is in it. Should you?
Replicas is a sci-fi film, not unlike Altered Carbon in terms of the science, but very much different in terms of the fiction. In the future, a dying person’s “self” (the content of their minds) can be uploaded to a server, and then downloaded into another body. Keanu plays William Foster, a brilliant scientist trying to make that concept workable at a secret facility in Puerto Rico. The upload and the download both go well, but the robotic bodies always seem to reject the process, sometimes even destroying themselves in the process. He’s been working on this for a while, but if his breakthrough doesn’t come soon, they may lose their funding. Even so, William opts to take his family on vacation – after all, he has asked wife Mona (Alice Eve) and their three kids to uproot for him, but he hasn’t been around much. So of course he accidentally kills them all in a terrible traffic accident that very night. In a grief-crazed panic, he calls fellow researcher Ed (Thomas Middleditch), and forces him to quickly upload all 4 of the recently deceased. William knows that the download into robot bodies isn’t viable, so he guilts Ed into using his own area of research to help: human cloning. And as if having a whole family of secret clones isn’t difficult enough, they have to steal very expensive lab equipment to do the job, and then lie about their success to their boss.
This premise is loaded with potential, and the film contains lots of threads that justify anyone choosing this material. So why don’t we like it?
In part, something researchers call “uncanny valley” which basically posits that as robots become more human-like, we go from admiration to revulsion. Anything that we know is unreal, but seems real, makes us feel a bit uneasy. And now William’s living in a whole house of them – very good copies of his family, but copies nonetheless, and not entirely perfect either. As humans, we have a natural revulsion to this. 2001’s Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within had ultra-realistic human animation, and suffered defeat at the box office. Steven Spielberg’s A.I. made some serious money, but the movie creeped out both audiences and critics, some of whom have since revised their originally ambivalent reviews. But still: this stuff makes us uncomfortable, and usually for good reason.
The uncanny valley isn’t Replicas’ only problem though. Ultimately, its own ambition topples it. The first half sometimes feels a bit silly, and William’s choices are consistently problematic. Of course we’d all like just a little more time with our lost loved ones, but William takes it to extremes, and drags his buddy into the mess with him, which is a lot to ask of a coworker who only ever consented to looking after a fish.
The uneasiness generated by a family that now consists mainly of the undead (not zombies, but kinda definitely zombies) would do better in a horror film, but instead director Jeffrey Nachmanoff commits to a family drama but can’t quite make it work. And there was plenty to work with: grief, survivor’s guilt, basic human existential questions of identity of self – but instead Nachmanoff gets bogged down explaining imaginary science as if this was a term paper and not a piece of entertainment. Keanu manages to stay serious even whilst wearing the silliest hat of the future AND waving his hands in the air like he just don’t care, but the script goes from suspicious to limp and I’m pretty sure the director was in the can for the entire back 9. Replicas does not work well as a movie, but it does star the internet’s boyfriend, and for his presence alone, I bet people will continue to watch.
Keanu Reeves day is officially slated for May 21 2021: the day both Matrix 4 and John Wick 4 will be released. But every day can be Keanu Reeves day, and perhaps every day should. He’s one of Hollywood’s most versatile actors and is almost undoubtedly one of the kindest. He typically shies away from the spotlight, even turning down an enormous paycheque for Speed 2 in favour of touring with his band and doing a small Canadian production of Hamlet, for which his performance was praised.
Dubbed the ‘Internet’s Boyfriend’, and occasionally ‘Sad Keanu,’ the whole world is concerned about his happiness, participating in ‘Cheer-up Keanu Day’ every June 15. Although he’s deeply private, he has publicly admitted to feeling lonely, which, combined with his tragic past (a girlfriend gave birth to their daughter, who was stillborn, and their grief resulted in a breakup, followed by her death in a car accident just months later), makes an irresistible lust bubble. Feast your eyes on:
Zach Galifianakis is our tour guide as we enjoy a behind the scenes look at the set of his wildly successful talk show, Between Two Ferns. It’s completely fake of course. And wonderful.
Zach’s “show” is a series of web videos you can find literally anywhere on the internet but most of all on Funny or Die. It looks like a bit of amateur public access television that somehow manages to book very high profile celebrities and seat them betwixt the eponymous two potted ferns. He has interviewed the biggest names: Brad Pitt, Justin Bieber, even Obama, but the thing that makes people seek out his videos is that he uses it as an excuse to insult celebrities to their face. He uses his own name but the interviewer character is extremely antagonistic and recklessly inappropriate. As Will Ferrell states, we’re laughing at him, not with him.
The movie’s premise, which is as thin as they come, is just Zach hitting the road in order to film 10 rapid-succession shows in order to achieve his ultimate goal of a network late night show. The plot, if you want to call it that, is flimsy because it’s just a vehicle for random acts of bizarre humour. You either like it or you don’t. It’s on Netflix so it’s low risk, but this is not going to win over any new fans and isn’t trying to. It’s just a 10 course dinner rather than its usual light snack. Can you take that much fern? Can anyone?
“People find you unpleasant,” this according to David Letterman, and he’s putting it lightly. This version of Zach Galifianakis is an asshole, but that’s the fun of his little show: it subverts the usual softball style of celebrity interviews. It looks Jon Hamm straight in the eye and asks whether Bradley Cooper’s success “will open doors for other hot idiots?” If you think it must be hard to get those insults out while remaining deadpan, stay tuned through the credits for proof.
We are sitting smack dab in the golden days of the Summer of Keanu – John Wick 3, Always Be My Maybe, Toy Story 4 – a real career renaissance for Hollywood’s nicest leading man, a Keanussance if you will, though it doesn’t roll of the tongue quite as convincingly as McConaissance did.
Henry Torne (Keanu Reeves) is a toll booth operator and chronically nice guy in that passive way that drives his wife (Judy Greer) kind of crazy. He’s so nice, in fact, that he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Accused of bank robbery, he protects a friend (Fisher Stevens) and takes the sentence, losing his wife in the process. His cellie is a crazy man named Max (James Caan), away for life. Henry does his time and eventually leaves prison with one important lesson imparted by criminals more hardened than he: you did the time, you may as well have done the crime.
And that thought just niggles at him. So much so that he springs Max out of prison and they befriend a Buffalo actress (Vera Farmiga) who just happens to be doing a play in an old theatre that has a prohibition-era tunnel running from its basement straight to the bank’s vault. Convenient! Love and money, all in one fell swoop.
Of course, Henry is not exactly a professional thief. He got caught – and remember, he got caught for a crime he DIDN’T commit. How much of a disaster is he going to be with the real thing?
Safe to say this film (released in 2011) is NOT part of the Keanussance. Reeves suffers from the coolest of detachments while the rest ham things up. Farmiga in particular is several degrees north of TOO DAMN MUCH. Henry’s Crime is entertaining at times, merely watchable at others, and sometimes it’s just slow and not building to much. Sometimes I’m startled to come across titles featuring several prominent actors that I’ve simply never heard of before, but the reason why usually becomes quite clear, quite quickly. While there are worse crimes than Henry’s, a misdemeanor rather than a felony, it’s still not worth doing time for.
Toy Story movies have always been darker than people give them credit for. In the first film, Buzz believes himself to be a hero stranded in a hostile environment. Turns out, he’s just a toy – everything he thought was real is a lie. He exists to be someone’s plaything, and Woody and the gang convince him that there’s dignity and even nobility in this fate, even if it strikes you and I as a kind of slavery, to exist merely at someone else’s whim, until you’re all used up, and then you’re disposed of. What a dizzying and disorienting concept; it’s no wonder Buzz literally gets depressed when he learns his true nature. In the second film, Woody literally contemplates his own mortality. His benevolent master Andy will one day tire of him, and worthless, he’ll be discarded. His friend Jessie really hammers this home with a heart-wrenching flashback of being abandoned at the side of a road by someone who once claimed to love her. Ultimately, Woody chooses to live as a toy rather than achieving a sort of immortality as a collector’s item; he’ll have a short but meaningful life rather than a long but insignificant one. What a choice. In the third film, Woody and the gang face the consequence of this choice: Andy goes off to college, and eventual abandonment becomes actual abandonment. Not only that, but the best friends are being separated, with Woody being doomed to spend his twilight years alone on Andy’s shelf, no longer a useful, loved plaything, but a mere relic of his past. Meanwhile, his friends are going to molder up in the dark oblivion of an attic. What cold comfort. Luckily, the toys are instead given to a little girl named Bonnie to live out a happy afterlife. Cue the fourth film.
Woody (Tom Hanks) and pals are having a grand old time being played with by Bonnie. Sure, the little girl prefers cowgirl Jessie (Joan Cusack) over cowboy Woody just a tad, but still, it’s a good life, no complaints. Bonnie is starting kindergarten soon, and at an orientation session, she shows some initiative (fancy term for not following instructions) and makes herself a toy out of trash rather than a pencil cup out of art supplies. She brings her cherished new friend home and gives him a place of honour among toys. “Forky” is no more than a spork, some googly eyes, a pipe cleaner, and a broken popsicle stick, but he’s Bonnie’s new best friend, so Woody vows to keep them together at all costs. That’s going to be a problematic promise because a) Bonnie’s family is embarking on an RV roadtrip and b) Forky has some suicidal tendencies. Forky was never supposed to be a toy, you see. He’s trash. He knows he’s trash. Rather simple-minded and fairly spooked, all he wants more than anything in the world is to be trash once again, which is where he keeps launching himself. Woody keeps dutifully fishing him out, but one of these times he’s bound to get thrown out for good. It’s on one such rescue mission that Woody encounters an antique store where he thinks he may find an old friend/lost toy/love interest, Bo Peep (Annie Potts). We haven’t seen Bo Peep since the second movie, which was 20 years ago. Where has she been this whole time?
Bo’s been living free and wild as a toy with no owner. That’s essentially Woody’s worst nightmare but she makes it sound rather grand. Besides, Woody has a new worst nightmare: another antique store occupant, vintage doll Gabby Gabby wants his voicebox and she’s prepared to rip the stuffing out of his chest to get it. Yikes!
Structurallly, this fourth installment plays out a lot like those that came before it. There’s always some kind of separation, and then some kind of secondary rescue mission when the first one fails. These toys sure do get themselves into some high-stakes situations on an alarming basis!
It’s wonderful to see the cast of old friends: Bo looks shinier than ever, and Jessie’s hair has never looked yarnier. The animation on these films started out innovative and has only improved. And new friends are a hoot and a half: Forky (Tony Hale) is a walking, talking existential crisis, but the rendering of his pipe cleaner is photo realistic. Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) was a dollie defective right out of the box, and her resulting failure to bond has really warped her. Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves) is a Canadian daredevil who never lived up to his promise; he is haunted by his past, and by the kid who resoundingly rejected him. Ducky (Keegan-Michael Key) and Bunny (Jordan Peele) are two brightly-coloured stuffed animals attached at the hands. They’ve been unredeemed carnival prizes for far too long, and are a little unhinged. Officer Giggle McDimples, Giggs for short (Ally Maki), may look precious and pocket-sized, but she’s a force to be reckoned with, and fiercely protective of her road warrior partner, Bo Peep. All these new toys will come together in surprising ways to give our pal Woody one last big adventure.
Coming full circle with the original film in the franchise which was released 24 years ago, Toy Story 4 has Woody once again paired with a toy who does not believe himself to be a toy. Woody’s experiences with Andy, and now with Bonnie, position him to a real advocate for finding and fulfilling one’s purpose and embracing one’s destiny. Heartwarming and heartbreaking in almost equal measure (I cried twice before the opening credits were over, and then alllllll the way home), Toy Story 4 more than justifies its existence. But after the perfect send-off in #3, is #4 a necessary or worthy addition? As much as I looked forward to connecting with these characters again, I surprise myself by saying no. Toy Story 4 is a good movie, an entertaining one, a very sweet one, but I can’t help but wish they’d left it at a trilogy so that we could have one perfect, shiny thing in our lives.
Lindsay and Frank hate each other on sight so of course they find out they’re on the way to the same destination wedding. Lindsay dated Keith, the groom, 6 years ago and is still looking for closure. Looking for it at his wedding is the worst idea ever. Frank is the groom’s brother, yet he and Lindsay have never met (nor has he met the bride-to-be) because he detests his family and normally avoids them faithfully.
Lindsay and Frank are of course the odds and ends at this small destination wedding, so they inevitably end up paired together at event after event. Oh the horror! They’re enemies! They’ll never learn to tolerate each other let alone fall in love!
Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves, together again. If you’ve been pining for their coupling since the late 90s, oh boy have I got the movie for you. It’s Sunset-style, you know the talky Ethan Hawke-Julie Delpy trilogy where they just walk and talk and talk and talk? Well, Destination Wedding has Sunset ambitions, only its fitbit registers far less walking. Loads of talking though, in fact, Ryder and Reeves are the only two talking roles, which means the writing really matters. But writer-director Victor Levin is no Richard Linklater. And while Ryder and Reeves have their own quirky chemistry, their characters are kinda dicks.
And I get it, the unlikable protagonist, the anti-hero if you must, is a legit thing, and it’s maybe even kind of fun under the right circumstances. And maybe this anti-romantic comedy featuring two screaming misanthropes had some appeal at first – a twist on the genre that could have gone either way. But the way it chose was down the bottomless quarry where Ryder and Reeves drown in their characters’ cynicism. Watching Destination Wedding (subtitled: A Narcissist Can’t Die Because Then the Entire World Would End) is like going to a wedding where you don’t like the couple, and they seat you at the single-and-bitter table where no amount of champagne and wedding cake can make you not want to hang yourself as your table-mates make convincing but unintentional arguments for Darwinism.
The first half of SPF-18 is about virginity, or the loss thereof. Penny (Carson Meyer) needs a prom do-over, and when her boyfriend Johnny (Noah Centineo) house sits for Keanu, she brings her cousin Camilla (Bianca Santos) and a pack of condoms and and the deflowering is on.
The second half of SPF-18 is about surfing, and using it to somehow honour one’s dead father.
There’s a very thin line between these two halves where SPF-18 could have crossed over with The Meg, and had these vapid teenagers been devoured by a megalodon, I might have hated this a little less. As it was, just thinking of them as shark poop helped get me through.
In reality, a Christian country artist wannabe named Ash (Jackson White) baptizes himself in the nude in front of the girls, thus cementing himself in their hearts. And even though her virginity is still freshly smeared all over Keanu’s sheets, Penny’s heart goes the way of her hymen – torn.
And then Johnny’s dead dad’s surfing protegee resurfaces, guilt-ridden about his drug usage which may or may not have contributed to his mentor’s untimely death. This story really doesn’t need to be here, but the film is already a scant 75 minutes, so I guess it added some flesh to the bare bones. The rest is just redistributing the lovers. Ash has a soulful voice but Johnny has abs worth praying about.
You should be able to deduce that the script is bad but that really doesn’t do it justice. IT’S HORRENDOUS. The dialogue is embarrassing and cringe-worthy, but it’s not the worst part. The worst part are the disparate ideas strung together to make a movie. They’re so random I don’t even know how they decided which order to put them in (Evil studio executives! The benefits of pilates! Illegal doping scandals! Greek mythology! Animated meditation! High school superlatives! Unnecessary narrators! Intellectual property law! Unexplained lip lesions!). Can you hodge podge these together to make a film? No you can’t, you definitely can’t, but that’s not stopping anyone.
I don’t know anything about director Alex Israel, but I can guess that he’s an 80s kid. He certainly reveres the decade. Why else would you give a millennial rom-com a power ballad-filled soundtrack? And how else to explain small roles for Pamela Anderson, Goldie Hawn, and Molly Ringwald? This movie was painful for me, and not just because SPF-18 may as well be bacon grease (I like a nice hard 50 myself) for all the good it does. It feels like this may have been made and edited in the drunk tank by people with double vision and shaky hands and very, very poor judgment. I literally cannot believe this is a movie and I definitely cannot warn you away vehemently enough.