Remembering Ivan Reitman

I remember being in school around January of 1985. One of my friends sat next to me (can’t remember his name, it was almost forty years ago) and he was telling me how amazing Ghostbusters was, that he had seen it. However, I noticed something strange (in the neighbourhood) as all he kept talking about were scenes shown in the trailer and nothing from the actual film itself.

I mean, he didn’t even know about the giant marshmallow man. It became quite clear that he hadn’t seen the film at all and was trying to sound ‘cool’. I knew he hadn’t seen the film because well, I had. Anyway, that was the first memory that came to my mind when I heard that Ivan Reitman had died. I was a kid back then, I never understand filmmaking at all, I didn’t know what a director did, had zero idea of what (if anything) happened behind the camera. All I cared about was the fact I enjoyed watching the film.

STRIPES

As I grew older and became a fan of not just films but filmmaking. When I began to learn about everything that does go on behind the camera, that was when I understood what a director and producer did. That was when I started to become a fan of Ivan’s work. I remember watching Stripes on TV for the first time. It had a couple of the guys out of Ghostbusters in it, so that was enough to get me to watch. Of course, Stripes was also directed by Ivan Reitman. Then there was Meatballs, the film that really launched both Bill Murray’s and Ivan Reitman’s careers. This film was also the start of the personal and professional relationship between Ivan, Bill and Harold Ramis.

IVAN AND HAROLD

The all-time classic Animal House that really kick-started John Belushi’s film career and the whole National Lampoon’s film franchise was directed by John Landis but produced by Ivan Reitman. I didn’t realise it at the time but Ivan was shaping my tastes in American comedy films as I grew from boy to young adult. Then there was Twins, the mismatched and goofy comedy starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as twin brothers. It is stupid but harmless and good fun. A film that took the then gargantuan action star that was Arnold Schwarzenegger and showed that he had some pretty decent comedy chops. Something that Ivan would do again later with both Kindergarten Cop and Junior.

Of course, the film that inadvertently made me an Ivan Reitman fan got a sequel. Ghostbusters II has always been a bit of a hit and miss film. A disappointment after the first film sure but still a good watch and it was great to see the old team back together again. As a director, Ivan kept himself busy up to 2014 with his last film being the sports drama Draft Day.

TWINS

As a producer, Ivan Reitman had a few other notable films under his belt. Cult favourite Heavy Metal, the animated movie based on the magazine of the same name. Full of violence and beewbage! The awfully terrible Sylvester Stallone starring Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was another. But Ivan Reitman made up for how bad that was with the pretty damn great Space Jam afterwards. Melding live-action with classic Loony Tunes characters for some basketball action… and a Bill Murray cameo. Ivan was also a producer on the biographical making of Psycho with the 2012 film Hitchcock.

When Ghostbusters was remade in 2016, Ivan Reitman was on board as producer. And of course, he returned to the franchise one last time for Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which was released last year. Directed by his son, Jason Reitman, the film worked as a direct sequel to the original films and was pretty damn great too. Ivan was not just a producer on this film, he even had a little ‘hidden’ cameo at the end, which I’m not going to spoil if you’ve not yet seen it.

Ivan Reitman was set to direct a sequel to Twins this year called Triplets. Bringing back Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito but now with Tracy Morgan playing the third brother. Sadly, now that Ivan has passed away, it is not known where the film stands, especially as it was set to begin filming this month. Ivan’s cause of death has not yet been revealed but his family have described it as being an ‘unexpected loss’. Maybe Jason will pick up the mantle and finish what his father sadly could not?

IVAN AND JASON

There’s been an amazing backlash for the last decade in America: political correctness. In many ways, I think that, while we’ve been remarkably violent in our media, there’s been a real schizophrenia. In private, on the Internet, and on public-affairs shows or talk radio, we’re way more explicit than we’ve ever been. But traditional Hollywood has been much more frightened than it ever was in the ’70s about presenting things that could be perceived as politically incorrect.

– Ivan Reitman

Sixty Years Of Bond… James Bond

2022 sees the James Bond film series reach the big six zero years old. It all began back in 1962 with Dr. No. Yeah, yeah, before the backlash of ‘actually’… begins. I do know that Dr. No wasn’t the first Bond film. Yes, I do know that Casino Royale from 1954 with Barry Nelson as Bond was technically the first. However, I’m talking about the start of the officially recognised franchise, the one that became a worldwide phenomenon and catapulted the James Bond character into the stratosphere.

BOND AT 60 IMAGE

Anyway, there are actually several other movie milestones within the Bond franchise that are worth looking at too and that’s exactly what this article is all about. Starting with that first official James Bond film from 1962, I’m going to do a quick celebratory look at all the Bond films reaching a worthy milestone in 2022.

Dr. No

DR NO

Released in 1962, making this inaugural film in the long-running, sixty years old franchise. The film didn’t just launch the James Bond movie franchise, it also turned its star, Sean Connery, into a film legend. Connery had a few small roles earlier in his career but becoming James Bond would be a career-defining role. It was also a role that Sean Connery ended up detesting.

Seeing Bond sent to Jamaica when an MI6 agent is murdered. The investigation leads Bond to discover the titular Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman ) and his nefarious plan involving a shuttle launch and a radio beam weapon… whatever that is. While this is the first ‘proper’ James Bond film, the novel it is based on was the sixth. Interestingly, the film makes several references to past and future Bond adventures. So this first appearance of Bond on film was treated as the character as already existing.

The intro to Dr. No set the standard that would be followed for six decades. The famed gunbarrel shot (though Bond was not played by Sean Connery but stuntman, Bob Simmons) the iconic Bond theme, the flashy and stylised graphics-heavy title sequence. It all began right here, though there was no dedicated James Bond song that became tradition after this film. Instead, what you do get is the Bond theme that mixes into a very Jamaican rendition of the Three Blind Mice nursery rhyme.

DR NO SCREEN

I’ve never really been a fan of this one, to be honest. I just found it all a bit ‘dull’ for a film that was billed as being such a huge action-adventure picture. Of course, you do have to give it credit for creating such a massive and much-loved franchise. Apparently, Bond creator, Ian Fleming, said of the film after seeing it that it was:

“Dreadful. Simply dreadful.”

I don’t think I’d go that far but Dr. No is hardly one of Bond’s best. The franchise had just begun and in fact, it wasn’t even thought of as becoming a franchise at the time. Even the production studio didn’t have a lot of faith in the film. When released, reviews were very mixed with film critics really not enjoying the film for the most part. Still, it was the general public that paid for cinema tickets that made it popular and once the studio saw the money that Dr. No was bringing in, a sequel was quickly greenlit. The beginning of Bond and a sixty-year franchise was born.

You Only Live Twice

YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE

This one came out in 1967 and is fifty-five years old this year. Now in 2022, this film is becoming infamous for the whole Japanese disguise thing where Sean Connery is ‘magically’ transformed into someone of a different race. The snowflakes of today like to find offence in things decades out of date. Still, I thought transitioning into something you are not was quite a popular thing these days…

Anyway, this flick has Bond sent to Japan to investigate the disappearance of American and Soviet spacecraft, which each nation blaming the other. You Only Live Twice is the first Bond film to show Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Donald Pleasence ) proper. He had been in previous films, but never seen or only partially seen. The screenplay for the film was also written by the awesome Roald Dahl. This was also the first Bond film to really have very little to do with the novel of the same name. Dhal threw out most of the novel’s plot, only keeping a few smaller references, and instead wrote an all-new story.

YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE SCREEN

At the time, this was reported as being Connery’s last time playing James Bond. It was too… for one film. Conery was enticed back Diamonds Are Forever in 1971 and the non-canonical Never Say Never Again in 1983. Just a little tit-bit for you. Do you know the last time Sean Connery officially played James Bond? It was for the From Russia with Love video game from 2005. Connery not only lent his likeness to the game but he also recorded all new dialogue as James Bond.

I actually really like this Bond outing. It may not be ‘politically correct’ these days and it’s a shame that it has been getting a lot of bad press due to the whole Japanese disguise thing. The film is much more than one outdated gadget from over half a century ago. Connery was well into the role by now and I may even go so far as to say that this was his best performance as James Bond.

The Spy Who Loved Me

SPY WHO LOVED ME

1977 was the year that this Bond film hit the big screen, making it forty-five years old. By now, Sean Connery was gone and Roger Moore had stepped into the famous tuxedo. This was Moore’s third outing as James Bond. The Spy Who Loved Me was the tenth book by Ian Fleming and was also the tenth film in the franchise.

Bond has to team up with KGB agent, Major Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach), to learn of the disappearance of a British and a Soviet ballistic-missile submarine. The duo learn that the subs have been stolen by Karl Stromberg (Curt Jürgens) and he plans on creating a new civilisation under the sea called Atlantis… cos it’s a James Bond film. This is the first film where Bond gets to cross paths with fan-favourite villain, Jaws (Richard Kiel).

SPY WHO LOVED ME SCREEN

To be honest, I’ve never been much of a fan of Roger Moore’s take on James Bond. It was a bit on the silly side and came across as more of a parody of the character. But that is not to say that Moore’s tenure as Bond and that era of films were bad, they are kind of iconic and enjoyable in their own way. While my favourite Moore/Bond film is Live and Let Die, there’s a lot to like here with The Spy Who Loved Me. The memorable opening with the ski-chase/skydive/Union Flag parachute. ‘Wet Nellie’, that’s the awesome Lotus Esprit S1 that turns into a submarine. The Nobody Does It Better song, the first of the Bond songs that’s doesn’t share its title with the film (though Dr. No didn’t have a dedicated song). I have always felt that this film was to Roger Moore what Goldfinger was to Sean Connery.

The Living Daylights

LIVING DAYLIGHTS

Thirty-five is how old this one is, being released in 1987. We are now onto our fourth official James Bond with Timothy Dalton now playing the part. I have to say this right here, Timothy Dalton was the best James Bond ever. He played the part much more closely as to how Ian Fleming wrote him, he actually looked like Fleming described him too.

For this adventure, Bond is assigned to help General Georgi Koskov (Jeroen Krabbé), a KGB agent, defect. Whilst on the mission, Bond crosses paths with Kara Milovy (Maryam d’Abo), Koskov’s girlfriend who is actually trying to kill Koskov. James Bond soon learns that the whole Georgi Koskov wanting to defect was a ruse for something far more sinister.

LIVING DAYLIGHTS SCREEN

The Living Daylights was not just a film with the best James Bond, it also brought back the iconic Aston Martin. Not seen in a Bond film since 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, as Lotus became the Bond car manufacturer of the Roger Moore years. Aston Martin’s V8 Volante was the car here and there’s just something about James Bond and Aston Martin that works.

Both of Timothy Dalton’s outings as Bond (this and Licence to Kill) have always been vastly overlooked, I feel. It really is a shame that Dalton didn’t have the chance to come back for more. Long story short and there were behind the scenes legal issues with the James Bond rights. It took several years to sort out and by then, Timothy Dalton was perhaps a bit too old and the producers wanted a new James Bond. A third film was written for Dalton and it was set to be released in 1991. I actually have a separate article looking at that film coming up later. Anyway, after the legal issues were resolved, a new actor stepped into the role, speaking of which…

Tomorrow Never Dies

TMORROW NEVER DIES

Released in 1997 and now a ripe twenty-five years old. The eighteenth James Bond film and the second to star Pierce Brosnan after GoldenEye. For me, Pierce Brosnan always felt like the Roger Moore of the nineties. Perhaps not quite as parody-like but certainly a James Bond that was a tad less serious than the predecessor.

This time around, Bond teams up with Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh), a Chinese agent. The two investigate the media mogul Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) who, as it turns out, is hellbent on starting World War III via the use of his media empire… and some stolen missiles, of course. This was the first Bond film after the death of the franchise’s legendary producer, Albert R. Broccoli.

TMORROW NEVER DIES SCREEN

This really is not one of the best Bond outings, yet it has one of the best Bond girls with Michelle Yeoh. She’s awesome in this and I always wanted to see a Wai Lin spin-off film. She was going to return for 2002’s Die Another Day to help Bond when he was in Hong Kong. But the idea was scrapped and the character was replaced with Mr Chang (Ho Yi) instead. And on the subject of that film…

Die Another Day

DIE ANOTHER DAY

Originally released for the fortieth anniversary of the James Bond franchise in 2001, now twenty years old itself. Die Another Day was specially written to pay respects to the franchise turning forty and was the last outing for Pierce Brosnan as James Bond.

After over a year of imprisonment in North Korea  Bond’s freedom is exchanged for Zao (Rick Yune), the right hand-man of Korean dictator Colonel Moon (Will Yun Lee) … who Bond kind of accidentally killed. MI6 believe that Bond has been broken by the Koreans and leaked information. After escaping MI6, James Bond ends up in Cuba and meets NSA agent Giacinta ‘Jinx’ Johnson (Halle Berry). The two learn of a mysterious British businessman called Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens) and soon discover his naughty plan.

This was one of the few James Bond films I got to see at the cinema when I was a young twenty-something. Man, I was excited and I came out of the film one happy Bond fan. This film is packed with nods and references to all of the previous Bond films in the franchise. Lines of dialogue, background details, gadgets and more. Die Another Day is a feast for the eyes of a Bond fan.

DIE ANOTHER DAY SCREEN

I then re-watched the film a few months later on DVD… and it was utter pants. I think there’s something about watching a film at the cinema that gives the viewer a false sense of ‘wow, this is awesome’. This is not true of all films of course, but some. There’s just something about seeing a film with a crowd of people on a huge screen and an ear-bleeding sound system that can camouflage how good (or bad) a film really is.

Yes, taking in all the references was bliss for a Bond fan. But the story and characters of this film really are dull and I just didn’t notice how dull when in the cinema because I was too busy being a Bond fan and soaking up the references. I don’t outright hate this film, ‘hate’ is a very strong word and I very rarely use it. But Die Another Day is certainly a disappointment for what was supposed to be a big celebration… and it has Madonna in it too.

Skyfall

SKYFALL

The youngest film celebrating a milestone this year. Released in 2012, Skyfall is ten-years-old. This was our latest Bond, Daniel Craig’s third outing as James Bond. And if you are any good at maths, Skyfall was released on the fiftieth anniversary of the James Bond franchise. It has that awful theme song from Adele but don’t let that put you off Skyfall is great.

Here, James Bond has retired after accidentally being shot and presumed dead. When MI6’s headquarters are blown up, Bond comes out of retirement and offers to help. Back in service and sent to Shanghai, Bond learns of a man called Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem). Silva is an ex-MI6 agent who now has a penchant for cyberterrorism and he was the man behind the attack on MI6’s HQ. Silva is captured and brought back to England… which was actually part of his grand plan.

SKYFALL SCREEN

Skyfall is great, not my favourite Daniel Craig outing, that has to go to Casino Royale. But this film is awesome. There’s just something raw about it that makes it stand out. A very different Bond film but still familiar at the same time. I really do like Craig as Bond too. He’s very much like Timothy Dalton in how he is much more no-nonsense and far less jokey. Javier Bardem is a great villain, perhaps the best of the Daniel Craig era of films.


Well, this is it, my look back on sixty years of James Bond and at films that are sharing a milestone within those six decades. I’ll have a few more James Bond articles through the year to continue my James Bond at sixty celebrations.

Movie Review: Scream

I’ve always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with the Scream franchise. The first film did feel fresh and slightly unique at the time. Though personally speaking, I’ve always felt that Wes Craven did the whole self-referential, meta-horror film thing far better a couple of years earlier with New Nightmare.

Anyway, I did enjoy the first Scream and it reinvigorated the dying slasher sub-genre by poking a very self-referential finger at it. Watching the first film now, it feels very cliché but at the time, it really was quite a revelation to the horror genre. Scream 2 decided to take on the topic of sequels with its meta writing. Scream 3 tackled the horror trilogy, while Scream 4 poked fun at horror remakes. The first film really was quite brilliant, the first sequel was okay but the concept was already beginning to feel stale. The third and fourth films, which I have seen, I couldn’t tell you a thing about them as they were so unforgettable and tired.

SCREAM FILMS

Now twenty-six years after that first iconic movie comes Scream 5… or just Scream as it is titled. My dislike for movies that fuck up their titles like this aside, this fifth film also has a horror film subject as it attempts to make light of, the reboot/sequel… or requel as the kids say these days.

Okay, so I’m not doing spoilers here, so this is safe to read if you have not yet seen Scream… the fifth film, not the original film.

Scream wastes no time in getting to the meta writing as it opens up with what is basically a remake of the opening scene from the original film… as seen in the trailer. Let this set the tone for what this film is. A film that very heavily references the first film while trying to be new. Scream falls into the whole legacy sequel thing that is on-trend right now. A sequel to a film from a few decades ago trying to breathe new life into an older franchise.

SCREAM SCREEN 1

This being a Scream film means it can have a bit more fun with that idea thanks to its meta writing. Of course there is a scene where people sit around and talk about requels. Of course there’s a reference to ‘passing the torch’. Of course there is the return of some of the original cast to show the newbies how it’s done. The trouble is, this shit just isn’t fresh anymore, it’s about twenty-six years out of date.

So the basic plot of Scream is that the in-universe film series, called Stab, is floundering now it is at its eighth instalment, stylised as Sta8 (poking fun that Scream 4 was stylised as Scre4m). As the Stab films are (now) very loosely based on the events derived from the first film and are not very good, as they have begun to take severe liberties… like giving the killer a flamethrower. So someone decides to restart the famed Ghostface killings and teens begin to turn up dead so that perhaps the Stab films will have something new and realistic to be based on. Dewey has become a recluse after his divorce from Gale but the teens convince him to look into Ghostface attacks. Dewey gets in contact with both Sidney and Gale and the trio turn up to sort things out.

SCREAM SCREEN 2

That is your basic plot, though there are a few more spoilery details that I’m skipping over. How best to sum up Scream? It’s a Scream sequel… that’s about it. The film isn’t terribly awful but it doesn’t really do anything you haven’t already seen before… especially if you have watched the Scream sequels before it. David Arquette’s Dewey is by far the best character in the franchise and it is great to see him back here. It’s also a very different Dewey who has changed following the events of the franchise. He is no longer the goofy Deputy Sheriff of Woodsboro, he’s actually pretty bad-ass here, while being a broken man. Then you have Courteney Cox as Gale Weathers and she is still a bit bitchy if not just a tad softer when she wants to be. Yes, Sidney Prescott is back and played by Neve Campbell and she is fine I guess. But if anyone is the standout here, then that has to be David Arquette.

SCREAM SCREEN 3

The new cast are your typical teens played by people way too old to be playing teens. I don’t even think I could tell you one of the new character’s names off the top of my head because they are so stereotypical and bland. The only name I remember is a character called Wes and that is because I’m pretty sure he is a reference to the series’ original director and master of the horror genre, Wes Craven. Wes isn’t behind the camera for this one as he sadly passed away back in 2015.

Scream has a multitude of references and throwbacks to the first film. There are some subtle and not so subtle returns of some other characters from the original. Plus the fact that this is set in Woodsboro once more, you’ll also get to see some familiar locations. This almost feels like one of those legacy sequels that ignores the franchise’s other sequels… almost. There are returning characters from Scream 4, so the events of the other films most definitely did happen. In this regard, Scream kind of feels like Ghostbusters: Afterlife in how that film heavily referenced the first film but mostly ignored Ghostbusters II… even though Ghostbusters II did happen. Scream just references Scream (see the issue with the title?) more so than the other films in the series and this makes it feel like it is ignoring the other sequels when it isn’t.

SCREAM SCREEN 4

This isn’t a scary film at all but then again, I don’t think the Scream films ever really were. There are quite a few bloody kills but those feel very ‘seen it all before’ as there really is only a handful of ways to kill someone with a knife. People get stabbed in the neck, in the back, in the chest, in the legs. There is nothing imaginative or creative in any of the death scenes (or the fakeouts) at all. The surprises are minimal and you should be able to work out who the killer is before you get to the halfway point, especially if you have seen any of the previous films in the franchise and know all the signs and false signs.

It is the writing of the Scream films where the real attraction lies. The meta humour, nods and references to other horror films, the ‘satirical’ sideways look at the horror genre. Yes, Scream has this in spades but very rarely does it feel like the writing pops in the same way it did in the first, and for most of the second film. The concept of the meta-horror film has been done to death and Scream really doesn’t do anything worthy with it here. For me, the whole meta-horror film idea peaked with Scream 2 and never really got any better.

SCREAM SCREEN 6

There were a few lines and references here that kind of worked but for the most part, it was tiresome and predictable with a lot of recycling tired, old ideas without a sense of irony. Yes, the title of Scream (instead of Scream 5) gets a reference. There is a bit of dialogue calling out ‘toxic fans’ in what felt like a preemptive attempt at shielding against the negative press this film could quite easily amass. Yet, Scream has been getting loads of massively positive press and I can not work out why. The film is okay at best. I loved the first film, the first sequel was pretty damn decent too. After that, they got a bit ‘meh’ and this sequel is very much at that level of quality. Scream is Scream 3 & 4 okay-ish and not Scream 1 & 2 levels of cleverness.

SCREAM SCREEN 5

If you are a die-hard fan of the franchise, you’ll probably get more out of this than I did. I got a very okay film with a concept that just feels outdated now. Scream movies put me in mind of knock-knock jokes. The subject may change but the structure, the delivery and the payoff is always the same. Still, as annoying as the title Scream is for the fifth film, at least they didn’t call it 5cream.

Movie Review: The Matrix Resurrections

Well, it’s finally here. After an eighteen-year gap from The Matrix Revolutions, Mr Anderson is back.. but was it worth the wait? Okay, I’m not doing spoilers here so this is a safe review to read. Still, I would recommend just going into The Matrix Resurrections as blind as possible and avoiding any reviews.

Not only is this film one of those legacy sequels that seem to be all the rage these days. This The Matrix flick also joins the list of brilliant film sequels that uses the ‘resurrection’ subtitle. I mean…

combine_images

Surely The Matrix Resurrections can’t be this bad… can it? I often find these legacy sequels follow similar paths, high on the nostalgia and references, while lacking any real substance of its own. The Matrix really did change cinema back when it was released in 1999. Every other film released for a few years had some kind of reference or joke that was The Matrix influenced. Several filmmakers tried to emulate the style of the then Wachowski brothers, see movies like Equilibrium or even the Keanu Reeves starring John Wick trilogy. Films that used sci-fi or action… or both to stylistic effect. If there was one thing that The Matrix oozed, it was style.

Of course, under all of that style was some ‘effing awesome substance too. The Wachowskis created a hell of a world with the first film, a film that got a lot of people theorising, analysing and talking for years, even today. I was lucky enough to see The Matrix on the big screen when it was released. It was a film I knew nothing about, I hadn’t even seen a trailer. It was released at a time when Keanu Reeves’ career was pretty much dead, so nobody really paid it any attention. It was topped off with a lot of unknown or forgotten about actors. Honestly, back in 1999, The Matrix was a massive underdog of a picture that people didn’t expect anything from… especially me. Yet, I came out of that cinema and said that this film would be our generation’s Star Wars. A comment I still stand by and one I feel that became true in many ways. Star Wars had legacy sequels too… ones that (perhaps) didn’t really please the fans of the franchise.

THE MATRIX

As for the sequels to The Matrix, they are largely detested. For me, I thought they were fine. hardly as groundbreaking as the original. Yet, since when have sequels ever been better than the original? It happens yeah but it is very, very rare. I thought that The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions were okay films. I don’t outright love the sequels as I do with the first film, nor do I outright hate them like so many fans do. So yeah, I’m kind of going into this film with an open mind. I’m not full of hate that we have another sequel, I’m not exactly full of hope because these legacy sequels (or just sequels in general) rarely turn out great.

Well, it’s time to see just how good or bad The Matrix Resurrections is. Again, I’m not doing spoilers here, other than mentioning things already seen in the trailers, so I can’t really go into depth with the plot here. I’ll just copy & paste a synopsis that I found to cover the basics.

To find out if his reality is a physical or mental construct, Mr. Anderson, aka Neo, will have to choose to follow the white rabbit once more. If he’s learned anything, it’s that choice, while an illusion, is still the only way out of – or into – the Matrix. Neo already knows what he has to do, but what he doesn’t yet know is that the Matrix is stronger, more secure and far more dangerous than ever before.

THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS SCREEN 1

Anyway, the first thirty minutes or so of The Matrix Resurrections is full of self-gratification, meta, sucking its own dick, ‘aren’t we clever’, non-stop references to the first three films. All legacy sequels do this, they can never just be their own thing, they have to lay on the nostalgia trip hard and heavy. The Matrix Resurrections does this harder and heavier than most other films if its ilk. I had a few niggles with Ghostbusters: Afterlife for doing the same thing (especially the ending), this film though? It takes that shit to whole new levels of unbelievable forced nostalgia. The Matrix Resurrections feels like it’s trying to be clever… and failing hard. There were times during the first half an hour when I could feel my eyes rolling, as if they had a mind of their own. It really is quite sickening how much ‘look at me, I’m a sequel to a popular film’ that this does do.

From lines of dialogue that are either taken directly from the previous films, lines that are similar but slightly altered to other lines like “Reboots sell” that force what the film is down your throat. Subtle scenes that echo those from the previous films or reference events. Neo eating noodles in a local restaurant, etc. Yup, this film really does its very best to let you know that you are watching a sequel to a massively popular film that has had a good few years gap between. Honestly, I really was getting a bit angry at just how ham-fisted The Matrix Resurrections was being with its blatant callbacks and references.

THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS SCREEN 2

After all of that self dick sucking though and when the plot began proper, once they got all of the front end heavy nostalgia crap out of the way… the film seriously kicks up a gear. Not only that, all of that shit in the opening suddenly began to make a lot more sense. This wasn’t forced nostalgia just for the sake of having it, just to keep ramming it down your throat that you are watching a sequel to a film that’s a couple of decades old. What first felt like a film trying to be clever and failing, soon felt like a genuinely clever film. It feels… well I guess it feels very The Matrix. The opening thirty to forty minutes began to feel like it was making fun of legacy sequels that do the nostalgia trip thing. It got most of that crap out of the way in the opening so it could get into the main story proper, all while still having some importance on the actual plot too.

The think the best way to describe The Matrix Resurrections, without going into deep spoilers, is by linking to this officially released trailer. That way, you can choose to click on it and reveal more about the plot of the film, still without spoilers. But there is just enough there to get the theme and concept of just WTF is going on, still using what is known about the universe that the films take place in.

THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS SCREEN 3

How and why both Neo and Trinity are brought back (they were most definitely dead at the end of The Matrix Revolutions) makes sense within the universe that these films exist. Are they even the original characters, are they some kind of program, are they real? That’s the beauty of The Matrix as a franchise, it is pretty much limitless and with some thought behind the writing, you can really do anything. What Lana Wachowski has created here is pretty damn impressive given the legacy these films have created. There have even been questions of whether The Matrix Resurrections is a sequel at all. If you have seen the trailers, then you’ll know there’s a lot of reusing certain shots, effects and iconography that makes this feel like it is some kind of a remake… I can’t really get into that without spoiling the plot. All I can tell you is that this film has a lot more depth than it first appears to.

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Of course, you have stylised action. There are mass shootouts, “I still know kung-fu” fight scenes, vehicle chases and so on. In this regard, The Matrix Resurrections does very well indeed. It’ll never be as groundbreaking as the first film was, you just can’t capture lightning in a bottle twice. Still, the action here is very well done and while hardy original anymore. still manages to impress. There’s a scene that involves an interesting new look at bullet-time which is also used to deliver a hell of a lot of exposition too. A kind of a slow, race against time action scene that is packed with urgency… just presented in a very slow way. It’s certainly an interesting twist on what we have seen before. As the trailers show, there’s new Morpheus. Once it is explained why, it makes perfect sense. There are several returning characters from the previous films some very much expected, some genuine surprises.

There really is a lot here to talk about, I just can’t as I’m not doing spoilers. I think this is a film that’ll need more than one viewing to get the most out of it too. Not because The Matrix Resurrections is confusing or anything, it’s really not. If you could follow the first film, you can follow this. The multiple viewings will really be because there’s a lot of little details here, a lot of nuances that need your full attention and I’m pretty sure there are things I missed when I watched.

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I went into this film, not dismayed but definitely weary and unsure if I should even bother with it. By the time the end credits rolled, I was pretty damn happy. The Matrix Resurrections takes what we already know about the world and updates it for a more modern era. Some great action, balanced out with more character-driven and story elements. Not as amazing as the original but a very worthy sequel in its own right. It does sequel-bait at the end and there’s a very pointless ‘comical’ end credits scene that you really don’t need to see. But yeah, I say give this one a view.

Movie Review: Spider-Man: No Way Home

Don’t worry folks, no spoilers here. Aside from mentioning things already seen in the trailers, this review is giving nothing major away.

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I’ve actually been pondering whether or not I should even do this review for a few days now. See, Spider-Man: Far From Home is a very tricky film to talk about without spoiling anything. There really is a lot to unpack here that I can’t mention as to not spoil anything. So this’ll have to be a very vague review that’s lacking a lot of details.

When it comes to the MCU, as much as I admire the immense talent and work involved in it, I’m not a die-hard fan. I’ve actually not seen more MCU films than I have seen. I do know a bit about the source material without being a ‘comic book nerd’. So I’m familiar with the characters and universe but without being fan-obsessed by it. When it comes to superhero films, I can take or leave them, to be honest.

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Yet, there’s always been something about Spider-Man as a character that I personally have always felt worked better than any other superhero. I think it’s a relatable thing. I mean, I’ve never been an alien, a multi-billionaire, a literal god and so on. Yet I have been a teenager struggling to understand the world and my life. And I think that’s a big part of the appeal of the Peter Parker/Spider-Man character. He’s a kid under that suit and even though he’s saved the world… he still goes to school.

With Spider-Man: No Way Home, you get a lot of that ‘reality’ and begin to feel a lot of the pathos that the character brings. Spider-Man is a kid and Tom Holland plays that part of him marvellously. He’s far from perfect, he gets confused and he most definitely makes mistakes. All of that happens in this film and you can sympathise with a teenager struggling to maintain their life around being a superhero more than you can someone like Tony Stark and his billionaire world.

This film picks up right where the previous film ended, with J. Jonah Jameson revealing that Peter Parker is Spider-Man and him also being outed as killing Mysterio at the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home. Of course, this causes mass hysteria and Parker’s life is thrown into turmoil for not just being outed as Spider-Man but also now believed as to being a murderer.

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Desperate for help, Peter Parker seeks out Doctor Strange and convinces him to cast a spell so that the world forgets that he is Spider-Man. As Strange is casting the spell, Parker keeps interrupting and asks to make numerous amendments so that MJ, Ned and Aunt May still remember that he is Spider-Man. These interruptions cause the spell to go wrong and opens up the multiverse.

From then, villains from other Spider-verses begin to appear in Peter Parker’s world. The likes of Doc Ock, Green Goblin, Sandman, Lizard and Electro turn up and Spider-Man is left to try and get things back to normal.

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Obviously, there is quite a lot more of the plot to delve into… I’m just not doing that here. What I found interesting while watching Spider-Man: No Way Home was seeing how many of the fan theories were right and how many were wrong. I avoided as much about this film as I could before seeing it. I only watched the first trailer. But for the last few weeks, there have been all sorts of articles popping up from notable sites sharing various social media fan theories. As I said, it was interesting to see how right and wrong the fans were.

As for the film itself, you’ve got your usual MCU mix of action, drama and humour. Going into this film and knowing there were five villains (revealed in the trailers), I thought that was a bit overkill and could make the film feel over-bloated. Yet, if there is one thing the MCU writers have proven more than once, it is that they can really handle ensemble cast stories like this.

What could’ve been a very messy film ends up brilliantly crafted. The backstories of all the villains are handled well with some pretty sharp and clever dialogue. Parallels between events and histories of the characters are mentioned and dealt with in a way that forwards the main plot, while also working as a reminder for people who know of the other universes they are from. And yet, the writing is so well done that even if you don’t know who these characters are, you’re brought up to speed very quickly and it never feels intrusive or forced. The villains have little bits of banter between them that keeps the flow of the film moving, even when stopping to get all that exposition out of the way.

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Tom Holland proves how great he really is in the role here. Having to deal with some pretty astounding action and fight scenes, while also conveying some heavy, raw emotion during some of the non-action scenes. There are moments in Spider-Man: No Way Home that really do hit home that this Peter Parker kid is just that, a kid. This could almost be seen as a ‘coming of age’ story as by the time the end credits roll, you really get the feeling that Peter Parker’s life has changed massively and the future of Spider-Man is blown way open. In fact, this feels more like a Peter Parker film than a Spider-Man one. There’s a definite evolution of the character here and I think it’ll be really interesting to see just what Sony and Marvel have in store for the web-slinger from this point onwards.

Everybody playing the villains here brings their A-game. Alfred Molina as Doc Ock is simply brilliant… but he is really blown off the screen by Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin. Seeing these two on screen together though is utter bliss. Not just in terms of acting, but their characters finally meeting after so many years is amazing. They are also the two of the five villains that really do move the plot forward.

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Thomas Haden Church’s Sandman and Rhys Ifans’ The Lizard are characters that perhaps don’t get used as much as the other two and save for the final big fight, they really don’t have a great deal to do in terms of the main plot. Then there’s Jamie Foxx as Electro. When it comes to plot development, he’s more like the latter two villains, in that he doesn’t have as much to do as the former two. But he is also the funniest and the one that I couldn’t help but fall in love with quite a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying he’s a useless comic foil, he actually kicks some serious bum-cheeks. But he is the funniest of the five and that really helped to make him very memorable.

For me, someone who really expected this to be a bit of a mess, I was impressed with just how tight Spider-Man: No Way Home was. Discounting the credits, the film has a runtime of around two-hours and fifteen minutes (give or take). I never felt that the film dragged in any way and the two-hour-plus runtime blisters along. Even when the film does ease up on its pacing, it never felt slow at all and this is most definitely well worth a watch.

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Of course, there is a lot of fan-service as the nods and references come thick and fast. Some work well, some really do feel a bit forced, yet nothing ever derails the story of the film. There are two credit scenes. One kind of ties up an interesting development from another credit scene from another film… while also setting up a huge possibility. The second is really just a trailer for the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness film coming next year.

With Spider-Man: No Way Home now released and plans for not only more Spider-Man in the MCU but also Sony creating a Spider-verse (Venom, Morbius and more)… there’s really a lot to look forwards to in terms of the Spider-Man character. But yeah, this film was great. A fantastic way to round off the trilogy, while opening up for so much more to come. Go watch it.