Movie Review – The Matrix

 

Movie Review - The MatrixAfter reading RunPee Dan’s amazing retrospective on “The Matrix After 20 Years“, I’m a little intimidated to try and pen my own review. He’s RunPee’s resident Matrix EXPERT. And I don’t say that lightly. Uber. Fan.

I especially get nervous trying to do justice to classic A+ level films. But I do have a few things to say, and here we go…

I’m packing for a move and might add more later. Suffice to say: this movie was a total mind-f#ck when it came out in 1999…and still is. The only really dated aspects are the corded phones and noisy modem (if you’re old enough, you KNOW this sound and it’s still as jarring as it was back then).

If you’re seeing The Matrix for the first time, remember this was the first film to attempt anything like this. At all. It’s a game changer that subsequent dystopian sci-fi films emulated to varying degrees over the years. “Inception“, for one, got it right. And then quite a few missed the boat more or less, like “Looper” which is a decent movie itself, but doesn’t come close to The Matrix.

(Funnily enough, both Inception and Looper featured one of the the same actors).

Why The Matrix is Still so Good

The difference is STYLE. And terrific direction, color palette, intelligent writing, and actors who couldn’t be better suited — both in the casting department, with each actor going balls to the wall in to the new world they had to sell.

Keanu even gets to say “Whoa,” and it doesn’t seem like fan pandering. It IS a WHOA moment.

the-matrix-bullet-time-keanu-reeves
Bring it.

Not to mention The Matrix sports a fabulous soundtrack, and effects that hold up extremely well. I just rewatched this yesterday to get Peetimes, since The Matrix is enjoying a theater revival. It’s still spectacular in look, feel, and story.

(Little realized fact: Most of the effects were done realistically with real actors in wires, and the 360 degree use of physical cameras to create the “Bullet Time” effect we take for granted now. I’m a huge fan of truly realistic physical effects in a modern age of CGI Everything.)

the-matrix-trinit-carry-anne-moss
Practical effects shot on wires. Trinity can still kick your butt.

This is how to make a movie. I can only hope the Watchoskis are up to the 2020 fourquel after all this time. Some crucial threads are left unresolved, so I’m fine with bringing the original cast back, dead or alive. (In Sci-Fi, death is relative.)

Deeper than The Usual Sci-Fi Flick

I’m not even going to handle the intense philosophies presented in the Matrix Trilogy — Philosophy professors wrote many books and teach actual courses just on this.

Enough for now. This will get you started. Also, if you hurry, this will be your only time to catch The Matrix on the big screen after two decades, so go get on it. Our three good Peetimes on the RunPee app will help you remember what scenes NOT to miss.

Free. Your. Mind.

Grade: A+

About The Peetimes: We just noticed The Matrix was released on a limited basis, so we added Peetimes now. Keep in mind this is a seriously intense mind-bending movie that you have to pay close attention to. All 3 Peetimes are really good. The last time to go is at 1 hour into the 2 hour film, so make sure to empty your bladder proactively, especially if this is your 1st time watching the film. (Or if it’s been a while.) #TheMatrixHasYou

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Matrix. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for sci-fi violence and brief language
Genres: Action, Sci-Fi, Dystopia

The Matrix After 20 Years – A Retrospective: A Different Kind of Hero, a New Kind of Science Fiction

Analysis of Inception

Movie Review – Looper

 

Movie Review – Angel Has Fallen

Movie Review - Angel Has FallenI did the Peetimes and reviews for the previous two movies in this series. (And by the way, you don’t need to see or remember the other movies to appreciate this one. It stands on its own pretty well.)

I checked the archives and I gave the first movie Olympus Has Fallen a B+ and the second London Has Fallen a B-. Two very respectable grades for this genre. My memory of the movies is a little vague. I remember the plots, but I only saw them once so I don’t remember the details.

This movie deserves at least a B+. I’m tempted to bump it up in the “A” range, but the villain is a little shaky.

What I liked most about this movie, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, is Nick Nolte’s performance. Let’s just say I’d give Nick an A+ and the rest of the movie a B. Nick doesn’t have a large role, but what he has he owns with some heart tearing monologs.

I have an odd comment about another part of the movie. There’s a scene with Banning driving a semi truck, pulling a trailer, over a curvy two lane road while being chased by police. (This is actually the Recommended Peetime.) What’s odd about it: during the movie I fully expected some wildly fantastic action where Banning would evade the police. That “Hollywood” action that is fantastic, but totally unrealistic. But that’s not what they did. They kept it simple and believable.

Overall, that’s what each of the movies in this series has: a mature script that feels real enough to cover up the unrealistic premise.

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: I don’t know how you feel about chase scenes, but personally I would highly recommend the 2nd Peetime. It’s one very long chase scene, no dialog, and hardly any action. The tension really builds during the last Peetime. Only use it as an Emergency.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Angel Has Fallen. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for violence and language throughout
Genres: Action

Movie Review – London Has Fallen

Movie Review – Olympus Has Fallen

Movie Review – The Kitchen

Movie Review - The KitchenAndrea Berloff did a fantastic job writing and directing the Kitchen. There are no wasted scenes in this tightly edited film. Everything follows from one step to the next. The characters are very well defined, and evolve during the movie for obvious reasons.

The three actors — Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, and Elisabeth Moss — headlining this movie were fantastic. Each totally sold their characters as fearful timid women to begin with, that became powerful confident women later…and in McCarthy’s case oscillated back and forth a few times, all with good reason.

The plot isn’t as predictable as the trailers might suggest. There’s a few enjoyable twists and turns I didn’t expect.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: This movie is very well edited. There were lots of Peetime options early in the movie to select from, but were all very short. I  recommend the 2nd Peetime. It’s near the middle of the movie and doesn’t have much dialog. The 3rd Peetime is for Emergencies only. There’s a big plot development, but it’s the only describable scene in the last 3rd of the movie to pick from.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Kitchen. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for violence, language throughout and some sexual content
Genres: Action, Crime, Drama

Where is “Hell’s Kitchen” and how did it get the name?

The Essential Tarantino – What to watch before Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Movie Review – The Art of Self-Defense

Movie Review – Crawl

Movie Review - CrawlDue to a terrible mistake made by myself on opening night, I had to go back today and watch Crawl all over again. It didn’t get any better the second time around.

I have lived in Florida for a number of years now and can empathize with the two characters in this movie. Yes, hurricanes suck and alligators are terrifying. Put dealing with those two things together and you got yourself the makings of a great movie. At least I thought so.

It was boring. Most of it takes place in the basement, and it’s just them moving around in the water trying not to get eaten. The subplot of the father and daughter trying to reconcile hurt feelings felt tedious to me. There was no chemistry between them and I honestly didn’t care if they made it out alive.

The only thing I did enjoy were the sound effects. The gators sounded cool and when they would chomp down on body parts it was even cooler.

There was one moment when the entire crowd laughed. Exactly as the movie ends and the credits begin, they play, “See You Later, Alligator,” by Bill Haley.

This would make a great way to spend a rainy evening on the couch; my recommendation is to wait for the DVD.

Grade: C-

About The Peetimes: Crawl is a super short movie, so I only submitted 1 Peetime. It’s well placed during a moment that was easy to sum up, and gives you plenty of time to run and pee.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Crawl. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for bloody creature violence, and brief language
Genres: Action, Adventure, Horror

Movie Review – Stuber

Movie Review - StuberAfter you watch Stuber, you’ll never look at your Uber driver the same way again. I’m a Uber consumer and could totally relate to this action comedy completely.

Big burly LAPD Cop Vic Manning (Dave Bautista) has an unusual day after he has lasik surgery. Vic has been working on a drug case for a while, tracking the main suspect (Oka Tadjo) aggressively. After Vic’s surgery, his daughter Nicole (Natalie Morales) takes him home, and he gets a tip about Tedjo. Vic attempts to drive himself, and basically demolishes a couple of blocks in his neighborhood. So he summons an Uber (Uber Pool, I might add) to take him to follow the case lead. Calm, friendly, OCD, sporting goods store worker by day, night Uber driver Stu arrives for duty.

This movie is funny and entertaining! Annoying at times though, because Stu is so mellow, but somewhat of a pussycat. He screams like a little baby during the grossly violent scenes. At one point, Vic says something like, “Take this gun — it’s a baby gun — it allows you to fire while crying.” LOL! All the actors did okay in their roles; nothing noteworthy; so don’t go in with overly high expectations despite the two lead characters.

Warning: while you may want to take the children, there’s excessive sex, nudity, violence, gore and profanity.

Definitely go see this movie for comedic relief after a long day. The laughter will be good medicine for your soul. Then sign up for Uber…and don’t forget to rate the driver “five stars” if you have an amazing adventure or learn a few things about “adulting” along the way.

Grade: C

Stuber vs Uber – Welcome to the Ratings Game, in Real Life

About The Peetimes: The movie has a lot of humor, so I’ve tried to not put Peetimes where there might be a gut-busting funny scene.

I would recommend the 2nd Peetime, which has no action and only a little humor.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Stuber. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for violence and language throughout, some sexual references and brief graphic nudity
Genres: Action, Comedy

Movie Review – Spider-Man: Far from Home – Fun, but a little underwhelming

 

Movie Review - Spider-Man: Far from HomeI liked Spider-Man: Far From Home. I liked it a lot. But I didn’t love it, and that surprised me.

I adore Tom Holland‘s version of Spider-Man, and think he’s the best Peter Parker ever done, no question. (Notice how this sidesteps Miles Morales‘ stunning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse quite nicely.) And every appearance by MCU’s Spider-Man, from Civil War to Endgame, sparkled with wit and verve.

I rewatched Spider-Man: Homecoming to get ready for Spidey’s ‘European Vacation’. I was again taken with how absolutely lovely, charming, funny, and exciting Peter Parker’s first solo outing was. (With one of Marvel’s better villains, to boot.)

Far From Home was enjoyable, but not up to the level I expected. Some nits to pick (with spoilers for Avengers: Endgame):

– Ned wasn’t The Chair Guy this time. He was mostly sidelined. Ned had funny lines, but was no longer Spider-Man’s sidekick. Making him foolish — and a damsel in distress, even — didn’t sit right.

– Peter was too low-key. I get that he’s been through a lot, and mourns Iron-Man like a father, but EVERYONE in the post-post-post Snap world (yes, there were three Snaps, remember?) is suffering. His friends seemed fine. I would have written Spidey as his usual irrepressible self who’d get sad when reminders of Tony Stark hit him out of nowhere. Grief is like that: you’re grooving along until you get a gut-punch reminder.

– There wasn’t enough care and attention paid to how Earth is handling the new reality: billions of people returning to life five years later. Yes, it was alluded to a few times, but I expected more. And Europe seemed to truck on with no problems at all. Even seeing some of the homelessness and ruin in the background would have helped keep the sense of continuity alive. The MCU usually provides better world-building than that.

– I missed the fun rock and pop music that made Homecoming so fun. (We did get one rock hit underscoring a poignant/funny moment, but I won’t spoil it.)

– And another nit: Spider-Man is the only A-List hero left on Earth? After 23 movies packed with super beings, I can’t buy that.

So, Where Were the Other Avengers?

As said, in-movie:

Dead:

Not mentioned, but should be around for Fury to call upon:

  • Professor Hulk
  • War Machine (who’s basically an Iron Man already)
  • Ant-Man
  • Wasp
  • Scarlet Witch (who should be able to wipe the floor with anyone)
  • Valkyrie, Korg, and a whole city of Asgardians
  • Black Panther, Shuri, and a whole country of Wakandans
  • Falcon (AKA new Cap)
  • The Winter Soldier/White Wolf
  • Hawkeye (I presume he returned to retirement…)
  • Pepper Potts-Stark is at least name-dropped (apparently she doesn’t want to use her Iron Suit any more than Peter does, for the same reason)
  • Lots of minor heroes could also be asked to ‘step up’…this could be a whole article. Which I’ll probably write, if there’s interest.

Again, those are mostly nits. But there’s one big problem, and for that I have to give Spider-Man FFH a B grade. That’s hard to do, since I loved a lot of it. I am a huge MCU fan, a Tom Holland-as-Spidey fan…and I really do think this is the best genre movie out right now (not including the Endgame re-release). But since we at RunPee tend to grade the Marvel Cinematic Universe on a curve, I’d have to rank this as a “middle tier” movie. MAN, I hate saying this.

It might have been that all the major plot points of FFH were spoiled for me, but I normally love anything the MCU does, so that shouldn’t have mattered.

Where Spider-Man: Far From Home Faltered

The single biggest problem is the bad guys are kind of an underwhelming/overwhelming mess. They are huge; they are CGI, and have no personality or motivation whatsoever…or even facial expressions. How is that supposed to be fun to watch? It doesn’t matter that that part doesn’t matter (have to be vague), but it made every fight with The Elementals boring. They felt more like the worst kind of bad guys done in the DC Universe (on the level of Incubus or Steppenwolf, or all the other villains no one remembers).

MCU has the occasional villain problem, but nothing as bad as these guys.

The point is, it doesn’t matter that the Elementals are [redacted for spoilers]: they still got too much screen time. They brought the movie down. Watching European landmarks get destroyed isn’t entertaining by itself. Even Godzilla has a personality.

Notice I’m not mentioning Mysterio. Or the promised Multi-Verse. I can’t go into any of this without spoilers, and this review is already too long. Suffice to say if Iron Man had a love child with Dr. Strange, you’d kind of get Mysterio. The trippy, psychedelic stuff was the best part of the action. It’s too bad they couldn’t get Dr. Strange on the phone. I’ll stop there.

Overall, How’s Spider-Man: Far From Home?

I’m making a bigger deal out of the Villain Problem than I meant to. Far From Home is still a super fun film, with laughs, school trip shenanigans, great on-location scenery, emotional moments, and a fun class reunion with Peter Parker’s (conveniently) co-blipped pals. And Happy Hogan stole every scene from Peter, which I didn’t expect. Tony Stark’s absence was keenly felt, but his character still managed to permeate the story, and even drew one of the best laughs.

So, yeah, absolutely see the 23rd movie officially closing out the Infinity Saga. It’s the last MCU film we’re getting this year. (We don’t yet know when Phase 4 will begin.) Far From Home really has some great moments and a lot of heart, so go and enjoy yourselves, Elementals be damned. 🙂

PS: The extra scenes over the credits are AWESOME. The implication are pretty big (for one of them) and pretty cool (for the other).

PPS: Also, in the background at near the end of the movie, there’s a building mural Peter swings slowly by that reads: “We can’t wait to show you what happens next!” Clearly that’s a message about Phase 4 from the MCU. Nice nod.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: I have 3 good Peetimes, spaced out nicely through the movie.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Spider-Man: Far from Home. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for sci-fi action violence, some language and brief suggestive comments
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Superhero, MCU

Life on Earth After Avengers: Endgame (Post-post Snap)

Movie Review – Spider-Man Homecoming

The entire MCU Movie Order – Several Options for your pre-Avengers Endgame Watch or Rewatch

Stan Lee – His Favorite Marvel Characters

Marvel Phase 4 Predictions – Some MCU Sure-Fire Guesses

 

Movie Review – Anna

Movie Review - AnnaIt appears that Luc Besson has fallen into the trap that has been the downfall of many a director; if it worked before, they’ll do it again, and oftentimes the end result is a disaster.

Anna is not a disaster of a movie: the pacing was well done; but the writing, acting, and directing was a disappointment. Helen Mirren’s role as a Russian spy was almost comically performed by this award-winning actor. Nothing about the character was believable, and the Russian accent sounded like a parody of itself. The rest of the cast also gave sub-par performances; however none of them would be considered ‘award winning’ actors, so I didn’t hold them to the same standards I’d set for Ms. Mirren.

A few minutes into the movie I realized I’d seen this before, except with the title “La Femme Nikita”, another spy movie, written by Luc Besson. Oh, and the movie Point of No Return, the American version starring Bridget Fonda, was also written by Besson. La Femme was an extraordinary movie, Point of No Return was acceptable…but Anna fell short.

The biggest problem I had with Anna were the flashbacks, and flash forwards. It was a bit like a Christopher Nolan movie, where time is not linear — a bit irritating, and sometimes, a bit confusing. Also, the incredulous fight scenes (of which there are many) where Anna kicks the butts of a gang of nefarious men wearing outfits straight out of Victoria’s Secret (with stilettos) was way over the top. Each fight scene looked more like something out of a Stephen Seagal movie.

I didn’t hate Anna, but my recommendation is to wait for the DVD.

Grade: C+

About The Peetimes: This was a hard action movie with only a few breaks from the chaos, making it just a little difficult to get good Peetimes. I was able to include an Emergency Peetime coming near the end of the movie.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Anna. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for strong violence, language, and some sexual content
Genres: Action, Thriller

Movie Review – Men in Black: International

Movie Review - Men in Black: InternationalIt isn’t that there’s much wrong with MiB International so much as there isn’t anything right about it: the humor is middling; the pacing is choppy; and the plot/character development is bland.

I can’t complain about the acting. Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson did good enough with what they had to work with, but Thor: Ragnorak this isn’t.

The biggest problem with MiB International is the pacing. There are long stretches that border on boring, sometimes wandering on the wrong side of the border. Right in the middle of the movie is the main chase scene that serves as the best Peetime in the movie. I’m certain that’s not what the creators had in mind.

There are elements of potential in the story. It feels like all the movie needed was a few more drafts of the script to give it the polish it needed. For instance there are continual references to Agent H’s (Hemsworth) character change since the opening scene of the movie….however, there’s never any resolution as to why this change happened.

Speaking of the opening scene, there was some real confusion in the order of time between the first few scenes of the movie. There’s no indication when the first scene starts, as Agent H and T arrive at the Eiffel Tower. [Correction: there was a “3 Years ago” message onscreen that apparently appeared while I was writing notes.] After that, the scene cuts to another scene with “20 years ago” displayed on the screen. At the end of that we jump to the present. That seems simple enough until 3/4 of the way through the movie we discover that the opening scene took place 3 years in the past. I don’t want to imply that there’s a simple solution to how this should have been done, but it’s the job of the writers/director to tell a cohesive story, and they botched that in the first 5 minutes of the movie.

I think most fans of the MiB franchise will be disappointed. This installment is nowhere near as good is the first, or third, movie. The second MiB was pretty awful, save for some funny scenes. I’d say this fourth movie is better than that, but not by much.

Grade: C-

About The Peetimes: We have 4 good Peetimes here, but the 1st and last Peetimes are Emergency use only because they are so short. We recommend the 3rd Peetime. It’s right in the middle of the movie and only involves 1 long chase scene that isn’t particularly good.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Men in Black: International. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for sci-fi action, some language and suggestive material
Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Sequel

What Makes Men In Black Tick? Looking Back on the MIB Series and Why It Works

Men In Black Theme Song – Forget Me Nots Remix – Will Smith Lyrics & Video

Want to be a MIB? A Satirical Review of the Original Men in Black (1997)

 

 

Movie Review – Shaft

Movie Review - ShaftI loved Shaft, as did the entire audience based on the many, many times there was crazy laughter in the theater. I had a great time watching Sam do his thing.

I have not seen the first one, but I can guarantee that I’ll be streaming it this weekend. If it’s half as funny as this one I’ll be happy.

I enjoyed watching Jessie Usher as JJ. These two guys worked so well off of each other, the chemistry was fantastic. The characters were so different from each other, but melded in a way that makes the movie magic happen.

I can’t count the amount of times that I laughed at Jackson, whether it be his lines or just his facial expressions.

It’s got a lot of violence and graphic scenes, but it wasn’t over the top. What was most prevalent was how Jackson can use the ever so popular F-word. I’ve got a whole new arsenal of colorful retorts, now thanks to Shaft.

If this kind of movie appeals to you, I wholeheartedly recommend it. It was fun and a great time was had by all.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: I’m going to recommend the 2nd Peetime, there is a lot of dialog in it, but was easily summed up. The 1st Peetime was also easy to sum up but there is a really funny moment during the scene.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Shaft. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for pervasive language, violence, sexual content, some drug material and brief nudity
Genres: Action, Comedy, Crime, Remake

Movie Review – X-Men: Dark Phoenix

Movie Review - X-Men: Dark PhoenixThe X-Men Universe, produced by 20th Century Fox,  had a twenty year run. Now that it’s over, they should be applauded for the influence they’ve had on the superhero movie genre.

Fox movie assets are now owned by Disney. That means the X-Men can, at some point, be wrapped into the MCU with the Avengers.

Dark Phoenix was produced before the Disney purchase. It was intended to be a bridge between the previous X-Men Universe and a newly imagined X-Men Universe with a new and young generation of mutants. Instead it stands as an unintended swan song to the X-Men as we know them. Which makes it a shame it had to end with such an underwhelming effort.

The Dark Phoenix story is an absurd mess. Let’s start with the villain… Okay, I’m not even sure where to start with that. Never has a superhero villain been so poorly imagined. Vuk, played by Jessica Chastain, has barely more than a cameo role. You wouldn’t even know the villain’s name except it’s shown just once in a subtitle. Even Xavier himself refers to the villain as: that thing, that woman, I don’t know what.

And what do we know about that “spark/solar flair” thing? We get one line of exposition from Vuk: “It’s the spark that brought life to the universe and now goes around destroying planets, including my own.”

What? How does that even make sense? Lazy storytelling much?

Who’s the Villain, Really?

Maybe Vuk and this spark/thing aren’t really the villains. Maybe Jean Grey is the villain. Which could have worked brilliantly if they hadn’t introduced Vuk/spark in the first place. Take the entire alien storyline out and just build up Jean a little more. There’s plenty of material there for us to relate to in our everyday lives, as an “internal demon” takes over a loved one and how their family copes with it, and then reconciles their feelings.

That’s what the X-Men have always represented: family. But in Dark Phoenix they tried to have it both ways, which drowned all the potential this movie started out with.

Grade: D-

About The Peetimes: The movie is full short, choppy, scenes that made it difficult to get good Peetimes. The 2 best Peetimes are the 3rd and 4th. Both work well, but are only around 3 minutes long.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of X-Men: Dark Phoenix. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action including some gunplay, disturbing images, and brief strong language
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Every X-Men Film Explained

X-Men: Apocalypse (movie review)

X-Men: Days of Future Past – movie review

Movie review : X-Men First Class