The Matrix Resurrections

The Matrix was a ground-breaking movie that set a new standard for action/sci-fi movies, The Matrix Resurrections on the other hand is a rehashed idea in a pathetic attempt at a cash grab and honestly should have done us all a favour and stayed dead.

The Matrix Resurrections probably doesn’t need an introduction but I’ll give one anyway. It’s time to return to a world of two realities, the seemingly real world and what lies behind it. Mr. Anderson (Keanu Reeves) must follow the white rabbit once again, cue the guns and slow motion bullet time. Look I’m sure we can all agree that The Matrix is a brilliant movie but with two bad sequels that we’d all prefer to forget exist at all. When a franchise ends up with more bad movies in it than good ones it’s probably time to call it a day and move on to something else. Well that’s what should happen but it’s not what ends up happening, we’re living in a constant stream of remakes and franchises so is it any wonder they decided to have another crack at The Matrix? I got caught up in the hype, sure didn’t we all? The chance to see iconic duo, Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss onscreen together again with Lana Wachowski directing. There was so much damn potential and what did we get? Rubbish, that’s what we got. Enough already, let the franchise die and stay dead.

The Matrix Resurrections is desperately living in the shadow of the original. Surprisingly there’s a good bit of footage from the original in this sequel. So much that I ended up feeling like I’d rather be watching that instead and if I had known what this was going to turn out like I probably would have stuck to the first movie and not bothered with this unnecessary sequel at all. The opening felt like a remake and as the story progressed the less invested I became. The Matrix gave us ground-breaking stunts and memorable fight scenes but The Matrix Resurrections gave us nothing we haven’t already seen before only better. I loved whenever Neo and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) were onscreen together but aside from that it’s an overblown mess. The decision not to have Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving reprise their roles as Morpheus and Agent Smith was a huge mistake in my opinion. If you’re going to use people’s nostalgia to get them to see another sequel then you better get the original cast back. Yes I was excited to see Neo and Trinity again but leaving out Fishburne and Weaving felt wrong. Absolutely no disrespect towards Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Jonathan Groff. There’s nothing wrong with their performances but there’s not a whole lot you can do with a badly written script, and a story no one asked for. Yes it looks impressive visually but that’s not enough to save it.

I’m annoyed at myself for getting excited for a new Matrix movie. Well I learned my lesson now and I’m going to go back to just acknowledging one Matrix movie. The Matrix Resurrections is not worth your time and not recommended. For that it’s only getting two stars, one for Keanu Reeves and the other for Carrie-Anne Moss. As for the rest I’m already trying to forget I’ve seen it.

★★☆☆☆

Don’t Look Up

Adam McKay has managed to create a funny, satirical disaster movie that is the most accurate depiction of what would happen if today’s world was faced with the 100% chance of an asteroid destroying earth. The reaction to the world’s imminent end is both hilarious and terrifying. Don’t Look Up may not be for everyone but I loved it.

Astronomers Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) and Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) make the terrifying discovery that a comet is heading straight for earth and without immediate action this “planet killer” will end life as they know it in 6 months. After a dissatisfying meeting with President Meryl Streep the two astronomers go on a media tour to warn the world of their discovery. They are left further shocked when the entire population doesn’t seem to care that an asteroid is hurtling towards earth.

If I could sum up Don’t Look Up in one word it would be chaotic. Very much drawing a lot of inspiration from real life events you’re left feeling like “oh shit, this is scarily close to how we’d react to an incoming asteroid, we really are all gonna die.” It’s a darkly funny take on a genre that’s been done again and again. Rather than a disaster movie with “insert generic end of the world catastrophe here” that can only be saved by a rugged Gerard Butler type action hero, Don’t Look Up sets up the end of the world scenario and then focuses on how humans as a whole react or rather don’t react. Also taking in the impact of social media, corrupt politicians and billionaires looking to seize on the opportunity. Along with Adam McKay’s witty script you also has a wonderful star studded cast, so what’s not to love? After the last two years I needed a good laugh and Don’t Look Up certainly did the trick.

What more do I need to say? If you haven’t already taken the time over the Christmas break to watch Don’t Look Up then be sure to check it out. It might be a little dragged out in the beginning but I assure you it’s worth the wait. Recommended for all those film buffs who love a good disaster movie.

★★★★☆

Dune

The highly anticipated adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel Dune and a remake of the 1984 version by David Lynch. Yeah I know I’m very late to the party with this review, don’t blame me it’s been a mental year. I’ve finally seen the visually spectacular Dune and much like the fanbase for the original cult classic this new remake is sure to bring in a whole new bunch of sci-fi fans.

Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) is the son of a noble family and must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. Also starring Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa, Stellan Skarsgård and Josh Brolin. A truly brilliant line up of talent altogether and Denis Villeneuve was the perfect director to take on a new Dune adaptation. Throw in a completely full on Hans Zimmer score and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a modern day epic. A highly immersive cinematic experience with incredible attention to detail. Everything is allowing you to fall into this new world and lose yourself in the magic of cinema. Epic really is the word to describe it, I’ve also seen the phrase space opera to describe Dune and I’d agree that’s an accurate description. I love the star studded cast but particularly Timothée Chalamet leading the movie, he gives an excellent performance. As a Zimmer fan it’s no surprise I loved the awe-inspiring score for Dune. The visuals, the music and the entire cast all perfectly complement each other to create an epic sci-fi movie.

I haven’t seen the original or read the book so I’ve no idea where the story is going next but I am excited for Dune Part II and together I’d expect Part I and II to make a terrific double bill. As amazing as Dune is it’s still only half a movie and I do feel frustrated that it’s split into two separate movies with likely a two year gap in between them. It won’t become clear until Part II as to whether separating it into two films will be worth it though in most cases splitting a story in two only results in a dragged out movie with a wrecked story arc, looking at you Hobbit trilogy. I can’t say everyone will feel the same but for me the feeling of all set up for a good portion of Dune Part I was annoying and I can only hope Part II is worth it.

It can be a daunting task to take on a big budget sci-fi movie and bring some originality to the genre especially when there’s an endless parade of Star Wars movies and TV shows to complete with. Villeneuve has shown us what he is capable of with Arrival and Blade Runner 2049. With Dune, he has not only created one of the best looking sci-fi movies in years but made something that feels new in a world of unoriginality. Recommended for all the sci-fi fans.

★★★★☆

Malignant

A unique take on the horror genre that only James Wan could deliver. Madison (Annabelle Wallis) is suffering from horrific visions of grisly murders. Things get a lot worse for Madison when she realises these supposed dreams are in fact terrifying realities.

I wasn’t at all sure what to expect when watching Malignant and I’d heard quite a few people singing its praises particularly the second half. I have to say when it started I wasn’t overly impressed but as it progresses and Madison’s visions becomes more vivid and gruesome I was intrigued and by the time the third act kicks in it jumped from a two star movie to a four star one. It goes absolutely mental and I loved it. There’s not much else I can say regarding the plot as Malignant definitely benefits from the less you know the better. Although one thing I couldn’t stand was the soundtrack. I personally hated it and every time the music makes its dramatic entrance it’s overpowering and intrusive, honestly it felt like a soundtrack from another movie that just didn’t fit. Every time it kicked in it just began to annoy me. Aside from that Malignant is definitely one of the best horrors of the year. I always appreciate when the horror genre tries something new and Malignant went to a whole new level of crazy.

If you can make it through the first two thirds of Malignant I promise it will be worth it in the end. So horror fans if you haven’t already seen Malignant be sure to add it to your list. Highly recommended.

★★★★☆

Spencer

Set during Princess Diana’s Christmas holidays with the royal family at the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, England. Diana is struggling with mental health issues leading up to her divorce from Prince Charles.

Immediately I just need to say that Kristen Stewart is absolutely brilliant in Spencer and that’s quite high praise coming from me. I can’t say I rated her as an actress and I really haven’t seen her in anything since a certain overrated vampire franchise. She has clearly come a long way since then and shows her incredible acting abilities as the deeply unhappy Diana. The entire film is set over the course of three days which allows you to descend into the lonely, paranoid and claustrophobic environment Diana was living in at the time. It’s made all the more uncomfortable with the use of music, particularly the dissonance strings that will really set you on edge. I didn’t think Jonny Greenwood could top his Phantom Thread score but the music for Spencer is absolutely stunning. Very much elevating the haunting and unsettling atmosphere. If like me you’re not exactly overly familiar with the history of the royal family or anything that goes on in The Crown don’t let that stop you from seeing Spencer.

I didn’t expect to like Spencer as much as I did but it’s truly a wonderful film, expertly made with a standout performance from Kristen Stewart. A thought-provoking tragedy that’s not to be missed. It’s also technically a Christmas movie so if you’ve managed to cross every other Christmas movie on your list be sure to check it out. Highly recommended.

★★★★☆

Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Where do I start? Venom’s second movie and third onscreen appearance and they still didn’t get it right. Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is attempting to reignite his failing career as a journalist. When the opportunity to interview notorious serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) arises he cannot pass up the chance of the interview of a lifetime. Things don’t go according to plan for Eddie and Cletus becomes infected by the symbiote Carnage who proceeds to skip his execution and bust out of prison. Chaos then ensues.

I wasn’t exactly a fan of Venom but it made nearly a billion at the box office so lucky for us we got a sequel. I had slightly higher expectations this time around due to Andy Serkis taking over as director. No offence intended towards Tom Hardy but I never felt he was right for Venom and the role would have been better suited going to Andy Serkis instead but sure we’re here now. The scenes with Harrelson and Naomie Harris are giving strong Natural Born Killers vibes and honestly the only good thing I got from Venom: Let There Be Carnage is Woody Harrelson, he’s a show stealer in any scene he’s in. The rest of the movie feels like a buddy bromance movie between Eddie and Venom. It’s silly, ridiculous and not nearly as violent as it should be although it clearly found some sort of an audience. It didn’t make as much money at the box office compared to the first Venom but considering the state of the world right now it did quite well. The build up to the epic showdown between Venom and Carnage was just another CGI overloaded fight scene. Underwhelming and a quickly forgettable movie. I honestly don’t know why I keep putting myself through this.

Look the only way you’re going to enjoy Venom: Let There Be Carnage is to have your expectations as low as possible and just maybe you’ll find it a bit of fun. It knows it’s not a serious comic book movie and it doesn’t try to be either. Recommended for fans of the first Venom movie.

★☆☆☆☆

The Last Duel

And the award for most distracting hairdo in a movie goes to Matt Damon and Ben Affleck for The Last Duel. Congratulations guys no one deserves this more than you this year.

The Last Duel is based on real life events that took place around the time of France’s last sanctioned trial by combat. A duel between bitter rivals Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon) and Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver). Marguerite (Jodie Comer) is savagely attacked by Le Gris and despite the huge risk she takes by speaking out she refuses to stay silent. Bravely stepping forward to accuse her attacker. Le Gris of course denies the charges and the battle to the death must take place putting the fate of those involved into the hands of God.

With an expensive production budget that clearly shows, the audience is immediately immersed into 14th century France. It’s a compelling story and hugely tense as the movie builds to its inevitable climax. My main issue with The Last Duel is the three separate narratives and the need for them. Due to this you’re seeing many of the same scenes again from a different perspective and I don’t think the audience needed to see a brutal rape scene twice. Jodie Comer gives an absolutely brilliant performance and I feel telling the story from her point of view alone would have had more of an effect. She really is the strongest thing about this movie and with an impressive supporting cast all bringing their A game, particularly Adam Driver, who let’s face it is great in everything. It’s an impressive movie but not quite Gladiator standard.

As for Ridley Scott’s comments about The Last Duel performing so poorly at the box office due to “those damn millennials and their cellphones” it’s coming across very Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino. Maybe Ridley, before immediately blaming the young people addicted to their phones, you might want to have look at how many cinemas even bothered showing The Last Duel at all, along with the number of showings per day and how long it ran for before it was gone. Honestly if you’re hoping a medieval movie that was barely advertised is going to be able to compete against No Time to Die and Dune then I don’t know what to tell you. What did you expect would happen? Anyway I’m not going to let the words of a grumpy old man get to me, the sooner these clickbait articles about the latest director’s criticisms of superhero movies/millennials etc. are gone the better.

I don’t need to give a recommendation for you all to see The Last Duel in the cinema, partly because this review is quite late and those who wanted to see this on the big screen already have. For the rest of you, The Last Duel is recommended as “only going to watch this once kinda movies.”

★★★★☆

Censor

Enid (Niamh Algar) works as a film censor and after viewing one of the latest video nasties she is shocked to find it strangely familiar. She begins to delve deep into her own memories to try and solve the past mystery of her sister’s disappearance. The further she investigates the more the line between fiction and reality become blurred.

A wonderful debut from director Prano Bailey-Bond and a magnificent and thrilling experience you won’t want to miss. Censor forces you to question the role of the film censor during a time of mass hysteria over violence in films and its alleged connection to a rise in crime. “Won’t somebody please think of the children?!” But what happens when it’s your job to view these extremely violent movies on a daily basis and decide what should and shouldn’t been seen by the wider public? What happens to your own mind if it’s continually subjected to endless gore and horror? We follow Enid as the story slowly starts to unravel keeping you in a constant state of dread and unease. As an avid viewer of horror movies it’s refreshing to see something different, unpredictable and genuinely unnerving throughout. This should be a reminder to production companies that throwing huge money at movies just for the sake of it doesn’t always pay off and is not the answer to everything.

I love a good low budget horror movie, and even though it’s only new in 2021, Censor already has a cult movie vibe to it. I assume that’s what Prano Bailey-Bond was going for, because it feels very retro. Highly recommended for all the movie buffs.

★★★★★

Last Night in Soho

Director Edgar Wright gives us something a little different to his usual with a psychological thriller/horror. I had high expectations after seeing the trailer and Last Night in Soho did not disappoint.

Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie) is an aspiring fashion designer about to commence her studies in London. The culture shock hits Eloise hard quickly changing from a small town to a busy London city. She mysteriously begins to enter into the 1960s where she encounters the seductive Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy). Much like Eloise she is also hoping to start out a new and glamourous career and make a name for herself in London. Eloise is enchanted by these glimpses into another time but soon the dreams of the past start to take a dark and sinister turn.

I’ve already been impressed by Thomasin McKenzie in a couple of her previous roles and now as a lead in an Edgar Wright movie she gives a brilliant performance. Also starring Anya Taylor-Joy as the wannabe singer and honestly she’s great in everything. Last Night in Soho captures the glitz and glamour of 1960s London while also diving into the darker side of show business. It’s very impressive visually with the use of smooth transitions and mirrors. I couldn’t help but sit there wondering how they managed to film some of the scenes. Starting very strong and very much in the psychological thriller genre but as it progresses it drifts more into a horror. I’d argue that the third act is not as good as the first two but that didn’t hinder my enjoyment too much. It’s still immensely entertaining with a great story full of twists and turns, accompanied by an epic soundtrack and a terrific cast.

I love the use of music in Wright’s movies, Baby Driver particularly used the song selection to its advantage and Last Night in Soho has an equally brilliant soundtrack that perfectly throws the audience back in time to the lavish London night scene. It’s the type of film once you finish you immediately want to go and listen back to the music. Highly recommended.

★★★★☆

Halloween Kills

“Evil dies tonight”, unless of course they decide to squeeze another movie from this dying franchise, then evil won’t really die tonight, but maybe next time, or the time after that. You’d think after over 11 movies and particularly the way the 2018 adaptation of Halloween ended that the whole franchise would have finally finished by now. Well here we are with another forgettable horror that you’re far better off skipping altogether. Halloween Kills is yet another reminder that the Halloween franchise needs to stop.

The seemingly never ending saga of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) continues in a downhill fashion adding yet another movie to a series that peaked in 1978 and never should have had any sequels. Despite the events that took place in the previous movie, Michael Myers has achieved superhuman status and emerges from the flames like a demonic phoenix, ready to brutally slash everyone and anyone to pieces again. But in a town that have been haunted by Myers for years the townsfolk have finally said enough to the notorious boogie man as they now take matters into their own hands, much to the dismay of the local police department who are failing to reassure everyone that they can handle this. But this ain’t no normal serial killer apparently. Bullets, knives and fire cannot stop the inhuman mask wearing psychopath from returning to his home on Halloween.

For those of you here for the gore, you won’t be disappointed, it doesn’t hold back. There’s a whole bunch of disposable characters practically queuing up to be violently hacked to pieces. For those of you here for Jamie Lee Curtis I hate to disappoint you but she is criminally underused. The trailer paints a different picture of the movie’s focus, I was expecting it to be Laurie and her daughter (Judy Greer). They are both underused, with the film shifting much of it’s time to new characters with vague connections to the first Halloween movie. Halloween Kills really cannot help itself when it comes to reminiscing the original Halloween but all that accomplishes is you’re constantly being reminded as to what a good horror looks like and not this absolute rubbish that is not worth your time or money.

Halloween Kills is desperately clinging on to a classic horror with the result being a franchise that like the terrifying Michael Myers refuses to die. I love horror movies but Halloween Kills has nothing going for it, it’s not scary and at times it’s actually boring. Honestly it makes Halloween 2018 look like an absolute masterpiece. Not recommended for anyone. I know it’s the Halloween season and the perfect time to watch a good horror movie but believe me when I say Halloween Kills isn’t it, do yourself a favour and stick to the original 1978 version instead.

★☆☆☆☆