Keanu Reeves

Street Kings

Year: 2008
Directed By: David Ayers
Written By: James Ellroy, Kurt Wimmer, and Jamie Moss

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie came out at just the right time to get my attention. My favorite TV show of all time, The Shield, aired its final season in the fall of 2008. When this movie came out in the spring of 08 I was eagerly waiting to see how it all finished up. This movie was very similar and gave me a dirty cop fix when I was itching for some corrupt action.

Keanu Reeves played the Vic Mackey part in this movie and the movie starts right off trying to establish him as this anti hero we see so often in television. The guy has issues. He gets out of bed fully clothed, pukes a little bit, and then cleans his gun before hitting the liquor store. Then it’s straight to the streets to do the job. He’s only a little boozed up but good to go with his street talk as he enters the dirty deals that go on late in the streets. He has no problem taking an ass whooping in order to set up the bad guys. When he goes to take care of business the action doesn’t disappoint as he Vic Mackey’s the bad guys and the crime scene. Maybe this guy has unorthodox methods, maybe he drinks too many of those tiny booze bottles, but when women are trapped in closets he’s the one whose going to save them.

I love these dirty cop stories but they are all too similar more often than not. Bad cop sets up the bad guys, kills them all, plants evidence, and saves the innocence. In the aftermath there are investigations and eventually some larger conspiracy going on. The irony is that bad cop isn’t bad enough to consider joining the conspiracy and he becomes determined to bring the whole thing down. I’m always pulling for the bad cop. What they do is wrong, but who among us wouldn’t do the same thing? It’s easy to say you would always do the right thing but at one point bad cop was probably a good guy too. He started out as a good guy and got hardened by the realities of the job. After so many years on the job he’s just out to cut through all the red tape and do what needs to be done.

Terry Crews plays the inevitable Serpico good cop who still cares, or is out for revenge. It hardly matters which when he’s snitching on our anti-hero. He seems to be doing pretty good for a cop given he’s driving a Cadillac SUV, but he doesn’t make it long. As Ice Cube once said “snitches get stitches,” or in this case about a thousand bullets to the chest. Nevertheless this murder doesn’t fly with bad cop Keanu, and there’s your larger conspiracy. I think it’s a bit strange that Keanu, as the best bad cop, wouldn’t have been involved in this larger conspiracy of bad cops.

Forest Whitaker is fantastic in this movie. I specifically like it because he plays a role that is the complete opposite of the role he played on The Shield. He was a real badass on The Shield, an Internal Affairs detective out to get Vic Mackey and he had us all scared for a while. It was season 5 and Vic was really going down, no way he could get out from under Forest Whitaker. As bad ass as he was though, he couldn’t catch Vic. He got to play the bad cop in this movie and that’s one of the things I really liked about it. I’ve never been a fan of Forest Whitaker but I loved him on The Shield and have been more of a fan since then.

The cast in this movie is really deep and that’s another thing I like about it. Not a fan of Hugh Laurie because I never watched House but he brought some cool charisma to the cast. Chris Evans is always great and I like him partnering up with bad cop Keanu as he investigates whose really bad. Jay Mohr is great in the background as the mustache cop whose is quietly more of a bad cop than bad cop Keanu. This guy is always around, he was named Ronnie on The Shield. Cedric the Entertainer makes a cool appearance and so does Common. I have always been a fan of Common and I think he makes for a cool gangster.

As far as bad cop movies go this one isn’t really exceptional but there are a lot of things I still like about it. It makes for a cool action movie with plenty of exciting scenes. Holy shit the heat really rises quickly when Chris Evans takes one in the throat. Great shoot out scene that ends with Keanu using a refrigerator as a shield and shooting Common in the face.

Uh oh, he’s been set up, classic. Common and his associate were undercover cops? His friends are suddenly arresting him and probably taking him to his execution. They of course explain everything before killing him but of course bad cop Keanu has a cuff key. Bad cop Keanu has transitioned from bad cop into badass rogue out for justice. Ready to die in a blaze of glory in order to do whats right because doing what’s right is all he has left. Even tied at the hands and ankles he can overcome certain death. All the badass rogue needs is a shovel and a real bad guy’s gun to fall right into his hands.

I’m really impressed with Forest Whitaker going toe to toe with Neo in a fight scene. Of course badass rogue’s fight to the top leads to his mentor and boss. Oh how typical these stories go but it’s a cool fight scene and this has been a cool action movie. Even when Forest Whitaker is caught the sad reality is he is too powerful to tear down. He’s the man behind the curtain pulling the strings of Oz. Badass rogue can’t let such a man get away, he’ll never be brought to justice because justice is corrupt. Gotta kill the bad guy and I like that about this movie too. Although the movie should end with his arrest I like that Hugh Laurie is able to save him in the end.

This is the exact movie that gets lost in the library of time. Nothing really stands out about it and not many people watched it. It’s a cool movie though and I stand by it. It may be typical but sometimes you just need to sit back and watch a little action. This is a good movie for that. I think it is worth your time to see it.

NEXT MOVIE: Stripes (1981)

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Speed

Year:1994
Directed By: Jon de Bont
Written By: Graham Yost

RYAN’S REVIEW

This was a big hit in my household growing up, as all action movies were, but as I grew up I started to consider it stupid. In my arrogance as a movie fan I thought I was above movies like this until catching it on television one day and getting sucked in. I sat there hanging on every second with a film I had grown up with but hadn’t seen in more than a decade. I immediately hit the Amazon page and had to have this film in the collection.

Watching this movie for the review I found myself so sucked in again it brought about the question of why I had lost faith in it before. I have been building our collection for almost 20 years now and Speed  never seemed to qualify as far as I was concerned. Having given the matter some thought I think a lot of it had to do with the sequel, Speed 2: Cruise Control.

I get that it makes sense to do another film once the first one was successful but couldn’t they have come up with something better than the exact same formula with a boat? It was a bad idea, and once Keanu Reeves bailed to go on tour with his band the movie should have been dropped. However, it would have been just as stupid with Reeves had they intended to make the same story. If they had made a Jack Traven sequel that had nothing to do with a speeding vehicle it might have been cool. Back in the 90s though, if something worked once it was worth trying a second time, just like Die Hard 2. Did it make sense for John McClain to find himself in the exact same situation a year later? No, but was the second step in a franchise that has made it through many films.

Second Attempt

Everything above was written the day after Amber and I watched Speed, and then suddenly a couple months had passed. I’ve sat on this review for what feels like forever now and I just want to put it behind me and move forward. It was a cool movie that has a significant place in action movie history.

There, it’s weak, it’s lazy, it’s borderline embarrassing but I wash my hands of this one. It’s time to move forward in the movie collection.

NEXT MOVIE: Spider-Man (2002)

Point Break

Year: 1991
Directed By: Kathryn Bigelow
Written By: Rick King and W. Peter Iliff (story) Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

When it comes to adrenaline fueled action films there are few that are as fun as this one. As I have always said, the cool factor is important in any film, especially in a mindless exaggerated action flick. Being cool in an action movie is as important as being scary in a horror film. This movie not only has the cool factor but all along the way there is shooting, surfing, and skydiving. What more could you want? With a cast that screams the early 1990s and a great filmmaking duo this film never fails to entertain. Despite being a household favorite while I was growing up this was never a movie I intended to own because I always considered it a bit silly. Yet it found its way into the collection anyway when I bought it as a gift for my brother a year or so ago for Christmas and just decided to assimilate into the collective instead. I specifically remember wrapping the gift for him and reflecting on the film as I did so. I thought to myself “this is a cool movie, why do I have a stick up my ass about it?” and before I knew it I was fitting it onto the shelf in the “P” section.

It’s true that I do have a certain mentality about this type of movie today. I don’t even watch the mindless action flicks that are coming out anymore but I appreciate the ones that I grew up with. When our collection was smaller I had a smug attitude about the films that would be part of it and I felt it was too good to be sullied by silly action films like this. As the collection grew it absorbed plenty of movies that made that line of thinking moot and there was no reason to deny this movie. This movie is cool and it is fun. As entertaining as any cops and robbers film and plenty of films have since ripped off exactly what this movie did. As I started to wrap this movie up for my brother years ago I thought about all of this and decided there was no need to waste it on him. I had already bought the DVD, might as well just keep it for myself because I had a place for it. I had suddenly realized it belonged and I couldn’t send it away to collect dust on some other shelf as part of an insignificant collection of films that had no purpose. I am such an compulsive person when it comes to collecting things and would it not be for my wife I would most likely be the worst kind of packrat. I channel all that type of insanity into this movie collection and for me it embodies something that has taken on a life of it’s own.

This movie always reminds me of my stepdad. While we differ in this way, my stepdad and stepbrother have always been thrill seekers. I, as a naturally clumsy and accident prone person, steer clear of activities involving such obvious opportunity for risk and embarrassment. They on the other hand have always been fearless in the face of danger and when I was about 15 or 16 my stepdad went skydiving for the first time. This involved many nights both before and after where as a family we all sat down to films like Drop Zone, a few of the Roger Moore James Bond pics, and of course Point Break. It was much more fun before the actual skydiving because seeing these movies afterwards in round two consisted of nonstop talk about how unrealistic it was. First time around I had no idea that you didn’t have time for all kinds of acrobatics as you fell through the sky. I was completely innocent of how ridiculous the notion of jumping out of a plane without a parachute was. I knew deep down such a thing was ridiculous but it was still cool to see Johnny Utah jump out of the plane without a chute to chase down Bodhi through the air. After all, I had seen Roger Moore as James Bond do it several times when I was growing up. It was kind of a buzzkill to watch it in round two and hear all about how this wasn’t right and that wasn’t possible. Who cares what is and isn’t possible when watching a movie like this anyway? The skydiving scenes in this movie are about as cool as they get, and as a person who intends to always stay grounded I at least like to imagine such things could really be so cool.

The cast of this movie is like a snapshot of 1991. Looking at it today the young movie watcher might scratch his head and wonder but back in 1991 it all made so much sense. In 1991 Patrick Swayze still had his youthful good looks, Gary Busey wasn’t insane, and Lori Petty as a leading lady was something that happened. I have never been a fan of Patrick Swayze but I’ll give him credit where it is due. This was easily one of his best roles and he fit the part of Bodhi perfectly. I read somewhere that he was an actual accomplished skydiver prior to the making of this movie. If that’s true it’s not only pretty cool but made him an even better fit for the role. I wonder what young people today, who watch this movie for the first time, think about seeing Gary Busey play this part. The Gary Busey they know today is not the guy we had 24 years ago. I am told he didn’t become this crazy Gary Busey until some accident he had some time back when he sustained a head injury. I don’t know about that one way or another but I’d find it hard to believe Busey’s current persona isn’t just the result of having done copious amounts of drugs. I admire how well the man markets himself these days but I just don’t care for it. It seems fake and intentional to me. I much more preferred the Gary Busey of old like the one we see in this film. As for Lori Petty, well I have just never understood. She had a few significant roles in the early 90s but I have never really liked her. She has a really whiny tone to her voice and her persona always gets under my skin, especially in this movie.

Keanu Reeves is still finding success as an actor today but I can’t imagine how he got the role in this movie back in 1991. It seems like an awfully progressive idea to take Ted and turn him into an action star but it worked. I wonder if his obvious practice at using surfer type lingo played into the decision at all. Had he not done so well in this role so many things might have been different in the future with movies like Speed and The Matrix. One of my favorite actors from the time was in this movie as the over the top asshole boss. John C. McGinley is one of those actors who can do just about anything and I have always liked him in these types of supporting roles. If I remember correctly he went on to play nearly the exact same role from this film in one of the many films that followed in the footsteps of Point BreakSet It Off. After Point Break nearly all heist movies looked for new cooler ways to mask their bank robbers, and Set It Off was no different. Correct me if I’m wrong about Set It Off, it’s been almost 20 years since I saw it in the theater and I’m surprised I remember it as much as I do.

James Cameron served as Executive Producer for this film and his wife at the time, eventual Academy Award winning Kathryn Bigelow, directed the film. I read somewhere that they also wrote the final version of the screenplay together although weren’t listed because of a dispute over the credit. I have grown up as a huge fan of anything James Cameron was involved with and still marvel at his film making abilities today. We will all have nearly forgotten about how awesome Avatar was by the time the next one comes out and that will be perfect timing for Cameron to remind us who he is. I think the whole point of Avatar is lost if you try to watch it at home but that’s only part of what makes it so incredible. In an era when movie theaters are suffering, James Cameron made something that was necessary to see in the movie theater to get the whole effect of it. I don’t get out to the theater anymore like I did when I was younger and the same was true in 2009. Yet I made it out to see Avatar  times because it was something to make exception for. I will certainly do the same when the sequels eventually come out too because I have faith that Cameron will blow our minds ago. This movie doesn’t involve the same type of special effects he is known for using but Cameron has a great mind for action sequences. His influence undoubtedly played a role in this movie as it offers several action packed scenes that are exceptional. Incidentally, James Cameron is a filmmaker who appreciates the value of the “cool factor.” Of course this movie is cool, James Cameron had a hand in it. Whether the guy is dressing Arnold Schwarzenegger in all black leather or putting Sigourney Weaver in a giant robot suit he knows how to make something better by making it look cool.

This movie has been remade and that is a travesty. I don’t think the movie has come out as of this post but I remember a few years ago when the idea was announced I was incredibly disappointed. I don’t know which asshole in the movie industry is pitching these awful ideas but I wish he/she would get fired. I specifically remember that this movie was referred to as a “timeless classic” in the announcement that it would be remade. Who thinks it is a good idea to remake a “timeless classic”? It’s timeless because it will always be entertaining. Why sully its name with some kind of knock off version that will never live up to what people have already enjoyed for over 20 years? It’s ridiculous and lazy. These executives are reaching when they can’t do anything better than remaking or rebooting something just to capitalize on the name recognition. They think we, as the audience, are stupid and they treat us as such. They are ruining movies in vain by making foolish efforts to sell more tickets. They want to sell tickets to kids so they pussify something to get the PG-13 rating. They’ll abandon new ideas because we are too stupid to be interested in something new and instead they simply remake something with a name we might recognize and turn out for. On one end I get it, home entertainment is killing the industry and these guys got to do what they can to make a buck. I think it is the wrong way to do it. Don’t ruin classics by remaking them but find new and inventive ways to get people in the theaters, like James Cameron did when he made Avatar. That kind of thing costs a lot more money though, so the studios cheap out and do what is easy. Ruin something to make more money or make a weak effort to format it into 3D so the ticket prices are higher. What a waste. Bottom line: don’t waste time watching the remake of this movie people, just watch the original because it’s a good movie and there’s nothing wrong with it.

I have seen this movie more times than I can count. Yet when I sat down to watch it for this review I found myself just as sucked in as I was the first time. That says everything about how good this movie is. It’s a fun movie that doesn’t get old, it’s a “timeclass classic.” After everything else that I have said it goes without saying that I think this movie is worth your time. I am even happier now than I was before that I decided to keep this movie for the collection. There is no reason to turn your nose up to something when it’s something you will enjoy. Some movies are made to make statements and teach lessons but others do only what movies were originally intended for, they just entertain and there is nothing wrong with that.

NEXT MOVIE: Poltergeist (1982)

 

The Matrix Revolutions

Year: 2003
Directed By: The Wachowski Brothers
Written By: The Wachowski Brothers

RYAN’S REVIEW

I will never forget watching this movie in the theater when it first came out.  As I mentioned in our last review I was stubbornly refusing to read the writing on the wall and I believed completely that this movie would fulfill all my wildest expectations.  I specifically remember when Amber and I were sitting in the theater on opening night and it was packed out.  We were in college in a college town watching the film in an auditorium full of college students.  Ten minutes into the film some guy stood up and walked down the aisle toward the emergency exit.  He turned before leaving and loudly said “it’s only been ten minutes and this movie already blows!” before promptly walking out a door he could not come back through.  I remember looking at Amber and whispering “hater.” Two hours later I found myself wishing I could find that guy and thanking him for at least trying to warn us.  We should have followed that guy.  I can honestly say that it would have been better not knowing how this story ended than actually suffering through it and carrying that disappointment home with me.

When we watched this movie for this review I actually think it was the first time I had ever watched it again. The disappointment the first viewing left me with was a scar that didn’t heal.  It’s taken eleven years but after finally watching this movie again I can see how the Wachowskis thought they were doing the right thing.  In all truth the battle with the machines is kind of cool it’s just all so wrong.  So unforgivably wrong.  It doesn’t matter if the battle was cool or not because this wasn’t what we wanted.  This conclusion sucked, and it was so unbearably long.  I will never forget when we were in the theater Amber turning to me during Trinity’s death scene and saying “why won’t she die already?” Everybody in this movie had to take forever to tell what they were feeling or what they “believed.” As if their belief mattered in the situation at hand.  This is such a stupid movie and the only thing I can think of that was more disappointing was X-Men The Last Stand.

While The Matrix Reloaded was also very disappointing it at least had scenes that made the whole thing worth wild.  There is none of that in this one.  The battle with the machines just doesn’t hit the spot and the final fight between Neo and Agent Smith was the weakest of the three. The Wachowskis blew it, and while Cloud Atlas has finally got me to give them attention again they have spent over ten years shrouded in the failure of this film. I wouldn’t waste my time watching it if I were you.  It would be both a waste and a disappointment.  If you find yourself journeying through this trilogy for the first time then stop before watching this.  It is literally better to not know.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I think Ryan summed it up for him and me both.

the-matrix-revolutions-4 I thought at the time that this poster was very well done. I think I still hold true to that. I think it does the job of getting people interested. The Matrix itself was just such a hit and interesting concept that people got really into this franchise. I think this poster helped fuel how many people went to the theater and saw this movie. “Why are there so many of them?” As I said in the previous post, this movie was built around all green. I think it was one of the first times I remember seeing everything turned green, the production house logos and everything. The binary code was in green and pretty much structured how everything else in this movie looks like. The typography stayed the same. Too bad the movie sucked, the poster really isn’t all that bad. Of course, I don’t have to look at Trinity and Keanu together, so that’s a plus.

NEXT MOVIE: Maverick (1994)

The Matrix Reloaded

Year: 2003
Directed By: The Wachowski Brothers
Written By: The Wachowski Brothers

RYAN’S REVIEW

In the four years after The Matrix the hype for its follow-up did nothing but grow.  The first film left us with so many possibilities for where the story could go and how much greater it could all be.  Our imaginations ran wild with the ideas of more Kung-Fu, more gun fights, more unnecessary sunglasses, and the like.  As the film’s production progressed we got glimpses of the film that only heightened our expectations.  Morpheus looked cool as ever, there were these two crazy looking twins with interesting looking abilities, Neo was going to fight a hundred Agent Smiths, there was just so much to look forward to.  None of it made any sense but The Matrix had laid the groundwork for something we were going to have to figure it out on our own one way or another. I was ready to put the thought into it and be blown away when this movie came out.  Amber and I were both at the midnight showing for its release. When we left we were certainly thinking, but we weren’t thinking about the meaning behind the thought provoking dialogue but about what exactly the Wachowskis were thinking when they made this movie.

This movie did have some eye-popping effects and some incredible scenes that overshadowed the whole truth to the matter. Which was that the movie just wasn’t very good.  It was as if the Wachowski’s hadn’t realized it was what went on inside The Matrix that made the first movie so cool.  There was far too much of “the real world” in this movie and in the story as it continued.  Nobody went to see this movie looking for caveman style rave dancing or to see what life had come to for humanity in general.  We went for the kung-fu fighting, we went for the guns, the stylish outfits, and the types of special effects that would blow our minds.  We got a little of what we wanted but not nearly enough.  Personally I tried to stay optimistic and hope for the best.  The writing was on the wall though and it was more than obvious where the story was going when the third film was released only six months later.  I maintained my optimism for that six months of waiting but I’ll get to how foolhardy that optimism was during the next review.

Looking back now I just try to appreciate what the film did offer us as opposed to focusing on the disappointment it bestowed upon us.  This movie did offer a few great fight scenes, and one of the coolest car chases of all time.  There was actually something like fourteen miles (maybe only seven, I can’t remember) of highway constructed specifically for the shooting of that car chase scene. I feel like some of the action in this movie is unmatched all around and I liked it enough to blindly believe there was a great conclusion coming to it all.  It was obvious that things weren’t going to get better as the movie came to a close and the Nebuchadnezzar was destroyed.  I refuse to give up hope though.  I loved this franchise and whole heartedly saw it as the Star Wars of my generation.  I would not accept any of the very reasonable and realistic arguments put forth by my friends and fellow fans.  They tried to tell me this was a disappointment but I wouldn’t relent. I defended this movie with the fervor and insane logic generally reserved for Scientologist. I had to eat a lot of words when the third film finally came out but I still liked to sit back and re-watch the good parts of this movie.  As far as I am concerned the good parts still make this movie worth watching today too.  If you simply skip to the fight scenes there is plenty to appreciate about watching this movie, and it won’t take nearly as long.

As a whole this movie really blows.  There is just far too much talking and most of it is of little interest.  I imagine most of the people who turned out to see this film could care less about what they were saying because we simply wanted to get to the good parts. As good as the good parts are too they just barely justify all the useless dialogue we had to endure to see them. I can see what the real problem is and that’s just that the initial story was set up to deal with “the real world” as opposed to the matrix.  The people we follow in this story are the people freed from this futuristic form of slavery and what really matters is their battle with the robots and not the people hacking into the system to fight agents.  The Wachowskis wrote a story that honestly followed what they had started but I wish they had just done what we wanted them to. I wish they would have scrapped the whole last stand for humanity scenario and simply had to face some threat that required them to be inside of the matrix to fight.  Maybe the Merovingian become the main antagonist instead of “Squiddy” and Agent Smith.

It all hardly matters now but don’t waste your time with this movie.  If you watch it at all just skip to the good parts because they will never get old.  You can never see that car chase enough times, it is one of the greatest ever and it is cut with scenes of Neo fighting with an awesome variety of weapons.  Otherwise watching the whole movie entails on a lot of drawn out dialogue that will only confuse things and a love story that is so forced it makes me sick.  Neo and Trinity are not a believable couple in love, and every time they are on-screen together it just couldn’t be more obvious. I have never been a fan of Carrie Anne Moss but despite her flaws as an actress I mostly blame the person in charge of wardrobe.  Who thought it was a good idea to put her in all that shiny leather and how was that a practical decision for the character? You would think if nothing else Trinity would be immobile by her garb and stick out like a sore thumb in a crowd.  Isn’t part of the point to blend in and not be noticed? Her outfit is just stupid and does nothing to make her more appealing.  To close this up let me tell you simply to not attempt making any sense of this movie and just enjoy the parts that were cool. It’s not worth your time, but certain scenes are and are worth seeing because they are awesome.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This sequel was okay, it just didn’t live up to the hype and excitement of the first one. It’s not a terrible movie like the last one (man that one blows), but it is definitely not the first one.

matrix_reloaded

I am finding it hard to even look at this poster. Maybe it is because I find the relationship between them to be pretty ridiculous. If you remember, they barely even talk to each other in the first movie and at the end they are madly in love because the Oracle told her she would love him. It’s just all so stupid. I hate this love story. So it’s hard to really review this one. I like that they carried over the binary code, which is very important. One of the interesting things that they do throughout the series is the coloring change. The first movie had a very blue undertone and that carried on to the poster. This movie and poster had a very blue-green look to it, which you can again see in poster. The next one goes to all green. I don’t really know if this represents anything important or not, I jus thought it was worth mentioning. They keep the typography consistent which is important, and I guess this isn’t really a bad poster, but by far is not one of my favorites, in fact, I can’t wait to stop looking at it.

NEXT MOVIE: The Matrix Revolutions (2003)

The Matrix

Year: 1999
Directed By: Andy and Larry Wachowski (Larry is now Lana)
Written By: Andy and Larry Wachowski

RYAN’S REVIEW

It’s such an interesting experience to watch this movie now.  I remember so clearly how it felt when I was 15 and watched it four times in the movie theater.  I remember clearly how it felt when I watched it over and over again with my brother when it came to video and I was 16.  Watching it now is so different though.  The world has changed so dramatically in the last fifteen years.  Looking back now at what was cutting edge technology in 1999 is an unusual feeling.  This franchise may have fallen apart when it came to sequels but this movie was so important to my generation.  This was our Star Wars when it first came out.  It was a film that changed the way movies were made.  The slow motion effect during action sequences was a big deal that was copied by everyone at the time.  This movie added a new special effect to the table that was utilized and mimicked on a regular basis.  The story left the door open for so many possibilities and for a few years our imaginations ran wild. We didn’t know that they would totally destroy this franchise when they continued it, but what we had seen already had blown our minds and we couldn’t hope but to expect the greatest thing ever made.  Oh how we were disappointed, we will get to the sequels in time, but for now the focus is on this film.  This film was incredible, and while there is plenty to pick apart today it was like nothing else we had ever seen in the late 90s.  It was a film that combined action, style, and philosophy.  It blew our minds and gave us something to think about after seeing it.  It also sported some of the best fight scenes, action sequences, and monologues of all time.

This movie did blow minds in when it came out in 1999.  I can LITERALLY attest to that.  As I said I saw the movie four times in the theater and it was the fourth time I saw it that something happened.  I remember it being during the scene in which Neo first dodges bullets.  On screen Neo was leaning back in an unnatural stance while bullets passed over him in slow motion.  A man sitting in the row directly in front of me and only one seat to the left suddenly stamped his foot three times and laid his head on the shoulder of the girl next to him.  He made a moaning sound and the girl looked over and started screaming. This started a commotion that at age 15 I could do nothing more than sit there and marvel at.  I had never seen such a thing happen before, the man had gone into a seizure.  Eventually paramedics came and the girlfriend had to admit to them that the two of them had dropped acid before coming in to see the film.  He was eventually wheeled out on a stretcher and I have no idea what happened after that but I will never forget it.  I have been telling the story for years and about how the special effects in this movie put that man into a seizure.  The drugs obviously played a part too but I have always thought the effects were messing with his head a bit.  Of course that’s based on the observation of a 15 year old who had never seen anything like that happen and had no scientific knowledge for the theory, but it made the movie sound better that way.  “This movie is so awesome it put that guy into a seizure!” I used to tell people in my youthful ignorance.

This wasn’t the first film made by the Wachowski brothers but it was the film that made them a household name. In truth, my knowledge of the Wachowskis is limited beyond the movies I have seen from them.  I know that one of the brothers is now a sister as Larry has become Lana.  From what I know that decision on Larry’s part was supported by her brother Andy and that’s cool.  They are still working together but are no longer listed as the Wachowski Brothers, as they were when this film was released.  Some people may take issue with the transgender change from Lana but I think any hater out there should take the time to appreciate their work despite any preconceived opinions.  I will be the first one to say they made horrible mistakes when it came to continuing this franchise but I still admire them as filmmakers.  On my to-do list is eventually reviewing one of their most recent films, Cloud Atlas. I thought that film was nothing short of amazing and should eventually change the way movies are made.  Unfortunately when it comes to that film I think it went way over the heads of too many people.  That was a problem with The Matrix as well. It was a film that went way over the heads of plenty of people but when it comes to this film people accepted that anyway because the outstanding action dazzled their eyes enough for them to not care.  I was really disappointed with the Wachowskis with their sequels to this film but Cloud Atlas restored my faith in them and I look forward to anything else they might do in the future.

I say that this movie confused people because I feel like I was explaining it to people for years.  Some people just could not grasp this concept of The Matrix.  It was a deep film and I remember hearing that there were actually college classes that focused specifically on the movie.  It combined elements of theology and philosophy and either one of those two things can sometimes be enough to confuse a casual film viewer.  I hate philosophy because I think it more or less amounts to thinking things that don’t make a damn bit of difference one way or another.  It will certainly give you plenty to think about and the term philosopher sounds really intelligent but beyond that I have never thought there was much to take from it.  Philosophers have in the past spent a great deal of time trying to determine what is and isn’t real.  We see that in this movie as Morpheus asks Neo “what is real?” What I ask you is, “what the hell does it matter?” In fact I don’t even get why there is a human resistance in this movie.  Why go to the real world when the real world sucks? What good is fighting a resistance when your resistance fighters want to go back into The Matrix? Everyone besides Cypher seems gung-ho in what they are doing but Cypher’s feelings would not be exclusive to him.  I imagine in this scenario it would be a common problem.  What’s so bad about The Matrix anyway? You don’t know you are there and you get to live a better life than what you would have outside of it.

I mentioned it so I’m going to go through some of the theological references in this movie, and please keep in mind I’m going to write this from memory so if I make a mistake feel free to correct me.  The name Neo is simply an anagram for One, as Neo is Jesus. This is obvious with his virgin birth, resurrection from death, and his being the savior for human kind.  There are other times throughout this trilogy when this correlation is clearly seen by Neo being laid down in the “Jesus pose.”  The ship that Morpheus and crew travel on is called The Nebuchadnezzar, a name that is in the Bible.  Cypher’s name was created by simply taking the L U off of Lucifer and for the cleaver viewer this was foreshadowing that he would be the traitor to the cause.  I don’t remember specifically reading this but I have to think the name of Trinity is a reference to the Holy Trinity.  Beyond that there are no doubt several I have forgotten and managed to overlook while watching the film again.  This film is deep on a level that I don’t care to put the thought into.  If you are interested in the influences behind this film and what it all means I suggest you research the matter yourself.

I thought it was a peculiar choice to cast Keanu Reeves in the lead role of this film.  Despite Speed I had never really seen him as an action star doing the kind of fights scenes this role called for.  After all, these are some of the greatest fight scenes ever filmed, incorporating a variety of different fighting styles and techniques.  Reeves did much better than I would have thought, and I liked his performance in the part.  He was not the first choice for the film because somewhere along the line I remember someone criticizing Will Smith for passing on the role.  It was before the sequels came out and in anticipation for the next two installments there was no shortage of hype.

The weakest link in this movie, in my opinion, was Carrie-Anne Moss as both an actress and a character.  Moss was never able to turn the success of this film into more opportunities for her career and I think that is because she just wasn’t that good in it.  I don’t know if it was her acting or if it was simply that her character is only there to complete the “trinity” and be a love interest for Neo.  The love between the two seems so forced. She had no chemistry with Reeves and her character is only in love with him because the Oracle told her she was supposed to be.  I had never given it any thought when I was younger but while watching the movie for this review I can’t find one reason why these two would be in love. Trinity wasn’t so bad in this one, but I think she simply started a downward spiral here.  The character is so much worse in the sequels, specifically in the third film.

The exact opposite can be said for Laurence Fishburne.  This was the greatest role he ever had and he was absolutely awesome in it.  He has a great voice that literally makes everything he says sound so wise. The Morpheus character in itself was just really cool.  So cool in fact that after ten years he was brought back for one of the big time Super Bowl ads this year.  Morpheus also had a seat at the high council table in South Park’s Imaginationland episode trilogy, because he is awesome. Joe Pantoliano may have looked silly with his bald head and facial hair in this but it takes nothing away from him as an actor.  He is great as a bad guy and I liked him as Cypher, despite his regular complaining.  Even though Cypher is a bad guy in this movie I still like him because he is the only one that seems to have any sense when it comes to fighting this war. As he said, “ignorance is bliss” because the truth behind it all is that your alternative is living in a cave and eating slimy proteins three times a day. Who really wants that anyway?

Now, to the greatest role in this movie…Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith.  Weaving had been acting for 18 years before this movie came out with little success but that all changed once people saw this.  Weaving has since graced the film industry as many different great characters but I will always think of this as his greatest role.  Agent Smith is interesting because he is simply a computer program but as we hear in his monologue to Morpheus late in the movie he has plenty of human qualities.  It’s interesting and ironic that he wants to complete his task simply because he doesn’t want to be in this world created for the humans anymore.  His classification of humans as viruses was such a compelling argument that I think it got all of our attention.  The scene in which he says these things while interrogating Morpheus is one of the best parts of the movie short of all the outstanding fight scenes we see.

This is the most significant film of this franchise and the best of the three films.  The sequels had some flashes of excitement here and there but this is the only complete film in the trilogy.  It came out right before the world changed so dramatically with the technology utilized in the film.  Both cell phones and the internet exploded after this movie came out with technological advancements and mainstream usage.  It makes looking back at the film interesting because when the film came out everything they used was top of the line.  For younger people this can be a glowing example of how quickly the world changed and where we were right before the turn of the century.

I have read recently that the Wachowskis have discussed the possibility of a new Matrix trilogy.  I can’t stress how bad of an idea I think that would be for a number of reasons.  Number one being that this movie is still great and I don’t think anything great should ever be messed with.  I also think that the bad taste the franchise left with viewers as a whole will transition into bad impressions for a new trilogy.  I think the time has passed for this franchise and I can’t stand the trend in Hollywood where instead of doing something new they simply reboot or remake.  Having said all that, I still have plenty of faith in The Wachowskis and would keep my mind open whether I think it was a good idea or not.  In closing I will just say that this movie is easily worth your time.  It will both give you something to think about and something to enjoy while you are watching it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

The first time I watched this movie I had two words. Mind. Blown. I thought: “what an interesting way to look at everyday life.” It was such a different twist on an apocalyptic story. On top of that, to make Keanu a good actor, he needs as little lines and acting period. I think he did really well in his action scenes and fighting scenes, but when he talks I just want him to shut up. The writing for the dialogue in this movie is super simplistic, and sometimes it feels dumbed down. Overall, I really like this movie, it is fun and brings back a lot of memories.

matric_poster

I actually really like this poster for The Matrix. It shows more than one character, but in a good way. They all are representations portryed from themselves, so of course they are all wearing sunglasses, even thouh it is probably night time. I like that the binary code is making up the walls in the background and that the title has become very recognizable as the Matric font. This poster is really blue and purple, which is a strk difference from the green color that takes over the movie, especially the second one. Overall I think it does a good job of alluding to the movie and getting you interested, so not bad.

NEXT MOVIE: The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

Devil’s Advocate

Year: 1997
Directed By: Taylor Hackford
Written By: Andrew Neiderman

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a somewhat interesting film that I think ultimately could have been made better by a different filmmaker.  It is the product of several rewrites and revisions during production and if I had to guess is probably only remotely resembles the book it was based on by Andrew Neiderman.  However I haven’t read that book and am only making an assumption.  It is an interesting film that gets boring at times. It has loose connections to John Milton’s Paradise Lost and I find that interesting enough.  Throw in Al Pacino as the devil and people are going to pay to see it.  I used to be much more interested in these “Grisham-esque” films that were popular during 90s but this wasn’t one of the better ones.

The driving force of this film is the performance of Al Pacino, but aren’t so many of his films that way? I am not really the biggest Pacino fan but he has always had an uncanny ability of carrying a movie on his own with really stellar performances. His presence gives this film the only validity that it has because he is a great choice to play the devil.  His character is obviously named from the author of the famed epic poem Paradise Lost that the film makes some allusions to.  He is cool and natural in this role because the part was tailored specifically for him. The several re-writes I mentioned were done in an effort to get Pacino to accept the part. I think Keanu Reeves does a relatively decent job acting in this film. He isn’t even close to being on Pacino’s level but he does keep up with him well enough. This film came out right before Reeves hit it big in 1999 with The Matrix, and perhaps this role played a part in getting the attention of the producers of the sci-fi thriller. I have never been a big fan of Charlize Theron especially since she made Monster. I didn’t even seen that film but have never been able to look at her the same way again.  She isn’t bad in this movie as the wife slowly driven to madness though.  Her role brings the vague horror element to the film, along with Pacino’s occasional moments up until he reveals his sinister side and everything changes.  I used to be a fan of Jeffery Jones and he is in many films that I really love but I can’t speak favorably about a pervert of his kind. In 2001 Jones was charges with possession of kiddie porn and has since been a registered sex offender.

This isn’t a film that I can put my stamp of approval on.  It doesn’t do a good job captivating the viewer and I have found myself overcome with boredom during this re-watching. Now that we have reached the end I think the film was far too long and the end doesn’t do enough to make up for that fact.  The end is a bit strange altogether really because the movie takes such a sudden change in tone and content.  Through most of the film Pacino is merely a shady lawyer with a mysterious aura surrounding him but then he enters the church and all hell breaks loose. There are some supernatural elements all throughout the film but at the end they just turn the volume way up and it messes with the flow of the story. This is a movie that I used to like and it does have its merits but now I’d say watch at your own risk. If you find it to be enjoyable and worth your time let me know what you think about it, I would love to hear some other points of view on this one.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie has very interesting parts to it. I think for the most part, you are always trying to figure something out  and wondering about this and that, but I also think this movie totally loses it at the very end. Not only is it incredibly long and drawn out, but it ends in such a crazy way. I think you guys all know how I feel about Keanu. I just think that he is horrible unless he is playing an idiot teenager or an alien or a part with hardly any words. I love Pacino, but how can you not? And, honestly who better to play a Devil like character? This film is set in New York City, probably the most sinful city in the world out side of Las Vegas and I think that is appropriate. This film is interesting, but not one of my favorites and I really don’t even know what it is doing in our collection.

By the way, just something that I find funny. Ryan’s vocabulary is wide and he usually corrects my grammar and pronunciation, but for some strange reason he cannot pronounce this movie title correctly to save his life. He calls it the “The Devil’s Acovete.”

NEXT MOVIE: The Devil’s Rejects (2005)