RETRO REVIEW: The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

Keanu Reeves as Neo in THE MATRIX RELOADED — Photo: Warner Bros.

Directed by Lana & Lilly Wachowski — Screenplay by Lana & Lilly Wachowski.

Released four years after the original science-fiction action modern classic, The Matrix, the Wachowskis returned to the story with which they had made their names in Hollywood. This continuation was filmed concurrently with the trilogy conclusion Revolutions, which was, incredibly, released in the very same year as Reloaded (half a year later). The Wachowskis tried to recapture the spirit of the original film and to continue its story in a way that would both up the ante narratively as well as with the inventiveness of the action. While I don’t think this first sequel is a complete miss, I must, however, say that I think Reloaded missed that mark. I think it is an underwhelming sequel with unexciting subplots and action that fails to be as breathtaking as in the original film. However, although it is a mixed bag, it is certainly not without some notable bright spots and some memorable sequences.

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RETRO REVIEW: The Matrix (1999)

Carrie-Anne Moss as ‘Trinity’ and Keanu Reeves as ‘Neo’ in THE MATRIX — Photo: Warner Bros.

Directed by Lana & Lilly Wachowski — Screenplay by Lana & Lilly Wachowski.

Sometimes you need a good excuse to rewatch something that was released decades earlier. It could be a re-release, it could be a remake, it could be an anniversary, but, as was the case with The Matrix for me, it could also be a fresh trailer for a new chapter in its franchise. In a couple of months, Lana Wachowski and Warner Bros. will release the fourth film in the Matrix-film series, and, to be perfectly honest, its first trailer got its hooks into me. After watching it, I felt compelled to rewatch the 1999 modern classic, The Matrix, and, let me tell you, I’m glad I did. This movie was much better than I remembered it being, and I think the film, its central ideas, the action, and the overwhelming world-building holds up.

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REVIEW: Dune (2021)

Josh Brolin, left, as Gurney Halleck and Timothée Chalamet, right, as Paul Atreides in Denis Villeneuve’s DUNE — Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures / Legendary Pictures.

Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049) — Screenplay by Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, and Eric Roth.

When science-fiction neophytes first lay their eyes on the marketing material for Denis Villeneuve’s latest science-fiction film, Dune, they should be forgiven, if they immediately remark that it looks like an imitation of Star Wars — or other similar films. Obviously, they would be under a false impression, but, after all, it is a little bit strange that one of Star Wars‘ most obvious sources of inspiration — Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel Dune — has not previously generated a widely known or appreciated adaptation.

In fact, the Dune property is perhaps especially renowned for being difficult to adapt. Famously, Alejandro Jodorowsky tried but failed to get an adaptation off the ground, while David Lynch’s adaptation from 1984 was critically panned. Those ‘failed’ attempts are, in fact, more widely known than the Sci-Fi Channel mini-series that the franchise also spawned. Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. have now entrusted auteur Denis Villeneuve with the job of adapting Frank Herbert’s rich, influential, and dense source material, and I think that was a very smart decision.

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REVIEW: The Suicide Squad (2021)

David Dastmalchian, John Cena, Idris Elba, and Daniela Mechior in THE SUICIDE SQUAD — Photo: Jessica Miglio / Warner Bros.

Directed by James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) — Screenplay by James Gunn.

Over the years, I have certainly not tried to hide the fact that I think 2016’s Suicide Squad, which was directed by David Ayer (though he has repeatedly made it clear that the film was essentially taken away from him as a result of studio interference), is, to put it mildly, one of my least favorite films ever made in the superhero genre. That 2016 film certainly reeked of studio interference, it was an almost incoherent mess, it was needlessly grimy and at times quite ugly, it used a decent soundtrack as a crutch and in a way that became incredibly tiring, all the while failing to get you to care about the characters or the relationships they were building. There were some decent things about it, but, on the whole, it felt like someone had tried to turn Ayer’s vision into a shameless imitation of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and that just didn’t work for the film that Ayer had envisioned.

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REVIEW: Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman (left) and Chris Pine as Steve Trevor (right) in Wonder Woman 1984 — Photo: DC Comics / Warner Bros.

Directed by Patty Jenkins — Screenplay by Patty Jenkins, Geoff Johns, and Dave Callaham.

The highly anticipated sequel to Patty Jenkins’ 2017 film, Wonder Woman, has finally arrived in Denmark. The film was released in theaters around the world (and simultaneously on HBO Max exclusively in the United States) in December of 2020, but, a week, or so, prior to the theatrical release in Denmark, all Danish theaters were ordered to close due to the second wave of the Coronavirus global pandemic. At the time of writing, theaters are still closed. This also means that Wonder Woman 1984 eventually skipped Danish theaters entirely.

In the mean time, frustratingly, the film was not made available for premium-video-on-demand in Denmark, and it took the distributor this long to release the film on HBO Nordic. That’s right, almost exactly three months after it was released on a streaming service in the United States. But now, thankfully, that wait is over. I’ve finally had the chance to watch the sequel to the hit 2017 superhero film led by Gal Gadot. Unfortunately, while I appreciated the original film, this sequel just feels misguided.

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Overview: December 2020

Overview provides my readers with a brief overview of the articles or reviews that I have written. In December 2020, among other things, I reviewed Netflix’s The Midnight Sky and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. In general, I tried very hard to review as much as I could before the end of the year, but I actually still have some reviews that I need to finish.

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Goodbye 2020: Mads Mikkelsen did what Nolan and Warner Bros. failed to do

To say that 2020 was unique for everyone on the globe would be a massive understatement. The year will obviously be remembered for the shocking and world-changing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. I think most people would agree that 2020 was a pretty bad year, all things considered, even though there definitely were good things that happened along the way. But today, on New Year’s Eve, I want to take one last look back on the tumultuous year and, since this is primarily a blog about films and television, how it forever altered the film and movie theater industry Continue reading “Goodbye 2020: Mads Mikkelsen did what Nolan and Warner Bros. failed to do”

REVIEW: Godzilla II: King of the Monsters (2019)

Theatrical Release Poster – Warner Bros. Pictures

The following is a review of Godzilla II: King of the Monsters — Directed by Michael Dougherty.

I can’t say that I’m a big Godzilla expert. I’m what you would call a casual fan of the kaiju films. And when it’ll come to King Kong versus Godzilla in a few years, I’ll probably be on the side of the iconic ape. But that’s neither here nor there. I remember watching Emmerich’s Godzilla from 1998 when I was a kid (I don’t think I’ve seen it since), and I remember watching Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla from 2014 in the theater with my mother and my sister. I have no problem admitting that I was one of those people who was frustrated greatly by Edwards’ film which did, admittedly, give us these amazing visuals, but which suffered from the eponymous monster’s disappointing screen-time. With King of the Monsters, the kaiju-titan focused ‘monster-verse’ is course-correcting their approach to Godzilla, but, in doing so, they’ve unfortunately saddled a spectacular monster movie with thinly written characters and poor dialogue. Continue reading “REVIEW: Godzilla II: King of the Monsters (2019)”

REVIEW: Shazam! (2019)

Theatrical Release Poster – Warner Bros. / New Line Cinema

The following is a review of Shazam! — Directed by David F. Sandberg.

It pleases me to say that the DC Cinematic Universe has turned a corner. For so long, Wonder Woman, the first film in the connected universe to receive a majority of positive reviews from film writers, seemed like an anomaly in the inconsistent universe where mixed reception was the best that you could hope for. James Wan’s Aquaman, however, was a big hit — one that indicated that perhaps the DC connected film universe still had life in it. And for Shazam! — a character most audiences will be unfamiliar with — DC and Warner Bros. borrowed yet another director from the Conjuring-film universe, Swedish David F. Sandberg, who, thankfully, has made a huge homerun hit for the weakened connected universe.
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REVIEW: Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle (2018)

Release Poster – Netflix

The following is a review of Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle — Directed by Andy Serkis.

I feel so bad for Andy Serkis. Back in 2014, Andy Serkis, who, in spite of some secondary or assistant positions on other films, had never directed a film before, was hired to direct Warner Bros.’ CGI-heavy version of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. Though the studio had been in talks with prominent directors since 2012, it was Serkis who was eventually chosen to bring this film to audiences around the world. Continue reading “REVIEW: Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle (2018)”