The Matrix Resurrections (2021): I Want to Free My Mind From This Glitchy, Nostalgic Mess

“The Matrix Resurrections” is directed by Lana Wachowski, who was one of the two directors behind the original three “Matrix” films. This film stars Keanu Reeves (Point Break, John Wick), Carrie-Anne Morris (Memento, Fido), Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Aquaman, The Trial of the Chicago 7), Jessica Henwick (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Game of Thrones), Jonathan Groff (Mindhunter, Frozen), Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother, The Smurfs), Priyanka Chopra Jonas (Quantico, The White Tiger), and Jada Pinkett Smith (Madagascar, Scream 2). This film once again follows Thomas Anderson, who this time around, is living in our world as an award-winning video game designer. When faced with an incident that makes him question his own reality, Mr. Anderson is faced with the choice to either stay in the world he knows or go down the rabbit hole.

“The Matrix” is one of my favorite science fiction films of all time. Between the stunning visuals, the well-executed cliché of good vs. evil, and the casting of most of the characters, although I do think Keanu Reeves has given better performances, it is a recipe for digital mastery. There is a saying in Hollywood that nothing ever dies. Disney constantly remakes their previous animations like “The Lion King” and “Mulan” into live-action counterparts. Universal is unlikely going to stop pumping out “Fast & Furious” movies as long as they make millions at the box office. As for Warner Bros., they’ve got another “Batman” movie coming out this year! It’s not always about how many new, innovative ideas Hollywood could come up with, it is now sometimes about how many old, previously done ideas they can regurgitate and milk until there is nothing left. Five or so years ago, I thought “The Matrix” would be one of those films that doesn’t get that treatment in this day and age. After all, Keanu Reeves is already busy building another franchise of his own, specifically “John Wick,” on top other things, and “The Matrix Revolutions” ended in such a way that the entire story could be rather impossible to continue. The movie, sorry if you’re spoiled nearly two decades later, ends with peace being achieved with Neo’s sacrifice. But of course, when they say “nothing ever dies,” they mean NOTHING.

Neo is back and better than ev–

Wait… Sorry, I got a bit overhyped for a sec there.

*Poe Dameron voice* Somehow Neo returned.

Just, why? Why did they make this? I mean, let me put it this way. The trailers for this film were not that bad. It gave me an okay impression of what’s to come. And if I had to choose between a full-on reboot of the “Matrix” franchise and a fourth installment, I think I’d prefer a fourth installment because I feel like this is a franchise that would be hard to see altered in such a significant way. It’s like if they tried to remake “Star Wars.” There are moments and concepts ingrained in my mind that it would be off-putting or unsettling to see them retold or changed for a new generation. The reality of “The Matrix Resurrections” is that it is not just a sequel, it’s partially a retelling of the original “Matrix” film, but also a flat out nostalgia fest that overstays its welcome. The movie is a sequel to a story that quite literally changed movies forever. It’s been parodied, memed, and when it comes to movies with green tint, this is usually the first, if not the only one that comes to mind. So what do they do in this sequel? They basically make fun of the Hollywood system. As mentioned, Thomas Anderson is a game designer, and he has essentially made a video game version of his journey in the matrix. So… Warner Bros. wants to inevitably make a fourth game. Part of me thinks that Lana Wachowski did not want to come back to do this film, for all I know I could be putting words in her mouth, but she’d rather tell a story she’d be proud of than see Warner Bros., the studio behind the past three “Matrix” films in addition to this current one, take a dump on the franchise she and Lilly created.

Also, is it a coincidence that this film technically has the same villain as “Space Jam: A New Legacy?”

I will say though, I was somewhat surprised on how much I liked Keanu Reeves in this film. Maybe it’s kind of because the world is experiencing Keanu fever, and he’s kind of on trend right now, but nevertheless. He’s been in a lot of movies recently including some animations like “Toy Story 4,” he’s John Wick, he was in “Cyberpunk 2077,” and often seen as one of the most genuine guys in the industry. One of the critiques I would have to give to “The Matrix” back in the early days is that Keanu Reeves did not carry that much charisma. At the same time though, when I look back, one could make the argument that Reeves’s lack of charisma may be intentional in order to highlight the mundane, everyday life his character has to go through. I mean, if I worked at “McDonald’s” and were responsible for cleaning the restrooms, I think after some time I would not show as much expression or emotion to other people. As much as this is based on preference, I liked seeing a more expressive Neo. It gave him more personality, and Reeves’s performance reveals that to a tee. Although I do think if I had to give one significant flaw, it’s that the script can make Keanu Reeves feel a bit repetitive at times. I feel like he spent a lot of the movie in denial, giving Reeves little variety on how to differentiate his acting method.

There were a couple roles this time around that were recast, specifically Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and Smith (Jonathan Groff). Both actors obviously have their differences from the originals and if you had to ask me, I think the original interpretations were done a tad better. Maybe that’s a comment based on nostalgia, but I think both original performers delivered a grittier and darker performance that felt more fitting for a grittier and darker environment. The new kids on the block seem to deliver performances that almost feel comparatively light-hearted. “The Matrix” has always had its moments of levity and fun, but it was also serious, and this shift in tone looking back is a tad jarring. The actors did well with the material they were given, but they also had big shoes to fill.

I have waited almost a month to watch this movie. I almost went to a press screening, but I ended up skipping it. I almost went one or two other weekends, but I skipped those as well. It was not worth the wait. I refused to watch this on HBO Max because first off, I want to support the cinemas, and second, I’ve always wanted to see a “Matrix” film on the big screen. But looking back, the film I should have watched on the big screen should have been one of the prior three “Matrix” installments.

There are positives to give to “The Matrix Resurrections.” The action is occasionally cool to look at, although nowhere near as engaging as any of the other three films. The visuals do look pretty as ever. The new supporting character Bugs, played by Jessica Henwick, was honestly rather well conceived. But the film for me took some time to properly follow, even with callbacks to other movies that I recently caught up on. It feels like it occasionally has ADHD. I think of all the performances Keanu Reeves gave, this is easily my favorite one in terms of “The Matrix” franchise. I highly doubt we’ll be getting a “Matrix 5” anytime. I mean, if we were, I would not be against it as long as they tried. But going back to the old saying of Hollywood, “nothing ever dies,” I hope Hollywood acknowledges this and never makes a “Back to the Future Part IV.” Will it make money? Sure. But unless it has a PHENOMENAL, GAME-CHANGING idea on where to take the characters and franchise, I think I will end up feeling dissatisfied. As much as I am not always clamoring for remakes, if I were tied to a chair had to pick between a “Back to the Future” remake or a “Back to the Future Part IV” in order to set myself free, I think a “Back to the Future” remake would be the lesser of the two evils, it’s a much bigger sandbox allowing for more opportunities. Plus, I don’t think Michael J. Fox is doing much acting these days…

Hollywood, I know you appreciate money. But your audiences also appreciate coherence. Please keep this in mind.

In the end, “The Matrix Resurrections” is a computer virus of a flick. It shows the problem of Hollywood taking franchises of the past and regurgitating them without a second thought. Again, a lot of the original crew returned, including Lana Wachowski, so for all I know, maybe everyone was happy to be back doing something they’ve done before, but this film felt unfulfilling, slightly confusing, and too focused on referencing the good old days as opposed to creating something new. I remember when the reviews started coming in and some people compared this film to “The Last Jedi,” saying it is bold. Honestly, it never felt that way. If anything, it feels more like “The Force Awakens,” or more technically, “The Force Awakens” from the points of view in which it is often criticized. I never agreed with everyone who said that “The Force Awakens” spends too much time ripping off the original “Star Wars” or its trilogy. It used those callbacks well and retreaded old story elements to perfection. “The Matrix,” just like “Star Wars,” changed the game for its genre, but compared to “The Force Awakens,” “Resurrections” fails to recapture that amazing feeling that the original “Matrix” gave me after watching it. Granted, the original “Matrix” holds a special place for me, because it was my first R rated feature, but it is also a damn good one. I just wish “Resurrections” were the same. I’m going to give “The Matrix Resurrections” a 4/10.

“The Matrix Resurrections” is now playing in theaters and is available for a limited time for all subscribers on HBO Max.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed my review for “The Matrix Resurrections,” good news! I have more “Matrix” reviews waiting for you! Why not check out my reviews for “The Matrix,” “The Matrix Reloaded,” and “The Matrix Revolutions!” I did these as part of an ongoing review series, titled “The Matrix Reviewed,” as part of Scene Before’s 5th anniversary. I cannot promise I have many older films that I’ll be reviewing in 2022, but… I might have something. We’ll see. I want to focus on newer films this year for the most part. If you want to see more reviews like this one, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out and like the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Matrix Resurrections?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a sequel or remake that you think should NEVER happen? Let me know down below! Or don’t… Maybe you shouldn’t give Hollywood any ideas. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021): Sony and Marvel’s Thrilling, Emotional Love Letter to Three Generations of the Webhead *SPOILER-FREE*

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) - IMDb

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is directed by Jon Watts, who also directed the previous two MCU-set “Spider-Man” installments, which also have home in the title. I’m assuming if they make a fourth movie, it’s gonna be called “Grand Slam?” You know, instead of home run? Four?

Anybody?

Who cares?

Anyway, this film stars Tom Holland (Cherry, Onward), Zendaya (Space Jam: A New Legacy, Dune), Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek: Into Darkness, Sherlock), Jacob Batalon (Blood Fest, Let it Snow) Jon Favreau (Chef, Solo: A Star Wars Story), Jamie Foxx (Soul, Ray), Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse, Aquaman), Alfred Molina (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time), Benedict Wong (Annihilation, Raya and the Last Dragon), Tony Revolori (Dope, The Grand Budapest Hotel), and Marisa Tomei (Parental Guidance, Anger Management). This film revolves around Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man, who has to deal with the newfound dangers that lie ahead now that his identity has been revealed, in addition to being connected to the recent event of Mysterio’s drone swarm in London, which have been interpreted differently by the general public. When Peter seeks Dr. Strange’s help to make everyone forget he was Spider-Man, the spell to make such a thing happen goes wrong, villains from other universes arrive, and it is up to Peter to do the right thing before the dangers of one universe then become the dangers of another.

Alright guys, it is that time again. A big movie in December. Although this time around, it’s not in the “Star Wars” franchise. Still huge. That being said, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is the biggest movie of the year. I should note the box office suggests that this film is enormous, but there are still people who have not seen the film. I know at least a couple. With that being said, I will note that this review is spoiler-free. I am going to talk about certain points in the film that stand out, but I’m not going to go into deeper plot points. If you have not seen this movie and plan to see it, I can tell you that this review is safe to read.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is a follow-up to “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Spider-Man: Far from Home.” I have to say that when it comes to the first film, it is slightly more enjoyable than I remember it being. But given Spider-Man’s excellent writing in “Captain America: Civil War,” the writing for that film felt like a step down. I really liked Vulture. Peter’s chemistry with Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) was charming. I even liked Liz in that film. I still think the film has logic issues when it comes to how Peter’s suit works and how Tony Stark would want it to work, but the film is still decent enough to pass the time. When it comes to “Spider-Man: Far from Home,” that film felt like a step up. Jake Gyllenhaal did a great job as Mysterio. I liked Ned a bit better this time around compared to the original. Plus it was nice to see Spider-Man somewhere other than New York for a change. Plus, the end of the film promised a fantastic setup for what would ultimately become “No Way Home.”

When it comes to “No Way Home,” is it a thumbs up or a thumbs down?

I think neither. I’d say TWO thumbs up.

Now, like almost everyone else, I should note that my anticipation and my excitement for “No Way Home” was high. Not as much as “Dune,” but still high. But I was also nervous. Because the film promised massive multiversal shenanigans, which sounds great. I should note… It SOUNDS great. During the fall as we built up to this film’s release, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” in my mind sounded like it could be one of two things. It’s either going to be the best movie ever, or the worst movie ever, and nowhere in between. In crossover-speak, is it going to be the next “Infinity War?” Or is it going to be the next “Space Jam: A New Legacy?” God that movie was awful. Thankfully, upon leaving the theater, I can confirm that I felt excited to go see the movie again in less than 24 hours, and my mind literally melted on the way home from how exciting this movie was to watch.

This film has a ton of villains ranging from Doc Ock to Electro, but it’s not like they’re just there for nostalgia purposes. Granted, at the end of the day, this film is sort of a tribute to the Spider-Man character and all the stories that came before this one. Anyone can put in a ton of cool characters and have them fight against Spider-Man. Heck, this movie could be Spider-Man vs. Godzilla vs. Agent Smith vs. Ron Burgundy, but it does not guarantee a good movie. It’s a basic case of concept vs. reality. The concept is great, but the reality could suck. But here’s the truth about all these villains…

Jamie Foxx’s Electro was written ten times better than he was written in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” Now, I will admit, they did kind of highlight a specific aspect about him from that film, specifically how Max was a nobody, which I thought had some okay setup before he was affected by a bunch of eels. But as we see him enter this universe, I could really tell that he was confused, he was concerned, and had no idea what was going on. They’ve even given him a new costume, which may be for story purposes, sure, but of course, who doesn’t want to sell more toys? Why do you think they gave 3PO a red arm in “The Force Awakens?”

My favorite villain of Raimi’s “Spider-Man” films was always Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock. I feel like even though his character was truly at the end of the day, an evil mastermind, he also had a heart. He went through tragedy the same way Peter did in those movies when he lost Uncle Ben. Only in the case of Doc Ock, he used his tragedy for evil, partially for a reason beyond his control. Even though he terrorized New York City, I feel bad for him, looking back. Plus, his arms are among some of the best practical effects ever. As for how he’s handled in this movie, I like the way they went about exploring his character’s newfound questions. After all, when you enter another universe, everything feels completely strange. Although when they first introduced him, they had a potential plot hole that could have affected how I viewed the entire movie that was corrected about ten to twenty minutes later. Glad they touched up on that. In this film, instead of his arms being practical, they were CGI, and I honestly could barely tell the difference. They did a really good job at making Doc Ock fit into a universe like this, even though it’s really the same character as another one.

But if you’re going to ask me who I think gives the single greatest performance out of all the film’s villains, I think that would have to be Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin. Now I always sensed that Dafoe enjoyed playing the character of Norman Osborn and being a part of the “Spider-Man” franchise. Even after his character died in “Spider-Man” (2002) he came back for the sequels, and there’s also a bonus feature where Alfred Molina is pranked by Dafoe, wearing the Doc Ock tentacles, trying to motivate Molina to give the greatest performance possible. Part of this movie centers around Osborn struggling with his inner self, which is not new for him, and I feel like we get so many layers to his character. We see his bewilderment of the world around him. We see him conflict over power and normalcy, and I think his dark side is more evident than ever. Whenever he does something truly horrific in this film, not only is it well written, I think it may deliver the best performance I have seen out of a Spider-Man villain in a long. Long. Long. Long time. I really liked the Green Goblin in the 2002 “Spider-Man” movie. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” arguably made him even better.

Now I will say that there are a couple other villains in this film, including Sandman and Lizard. Of the film’s villains, those two were the weakest, but they were still better than a lot of the villains we get in the MCU nowadays. I say that because a lot of the films in the MCU sometimes fail to heighten the villain and instead we get a cliche bad guy who just stands in the hero’s way. These are two are better than Ronan in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” And they’re especially better than Malekith in “Thor: The Dark World.” These two have some occasional funny lines, and I like Lizard’s reference to his master plan which Electro ended up making fun of. It’s not like they did not need to be in the movie, the movie is definitely cool with them and they do not end up doing anything offensive. But of all the villains in the film, Sandman and Lizard are the weakest links because they have the least depth. We get more time with Doc Ock and Goblin, therefore we have more opportunities to see depth for them, but for Sandman and Lizard, not so much.

But of course, this film belongs to the heroes. Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Ned, and MJ.

All of these actors who play the heroes are great and I think when it comes to Ned (center) in this movie, he’s kind of a bundle of joy. When I saw Ned for the first time in “Homecoming,” I thought he was annoying. I kind of grown to like him in that movie a little bit, because I kind of get the enthusiasm behind finding out your best friend is Spider-Man, but I think of these three movies, he had the worst writing because his questions can get excessive. To me, the writing in this film made the most sense of the three, although his storyline in “Far from Home” was hilarious. It’s one way to write teen love I guess. Although if I have one thing to say, it’s not huge complaint, but it is something worth pointing out, something happens with Ned in this movie that is out of random chance. It was never something that was established that he could do, or something he learned. It just happened. I mean, if you watched the movie, they “teased” it a little, but kind of as a joke, nothing more. I guess foreshadowing is foreshadowing, even if it’s a throwaway joke.

Zendaya’s MJ is another character that to me evolved with time. In the first film, she felt overly snarky. In the second film, I got to know her a little better and I began to appreciate her as a character just a bit more. In this third film, we see her with Spider-Man from the start, and I think their chemistry has blossomed into something special. It is worth noting that all three live-action Spider-Men from Tobey Maguire to Andrew Garfield to Tom Holland all dated their character-based love interests at one point in real life. Maybe that’s why their chemistry all feels natural. There was a scene on a school rooftop, it’s in the trailer, that stood out to me as to why Holland and Zendaya work together. Although I was a bit surprised to see MJ reading a physical newspaper as opposed to some article on her phone. I dunno, just a stereotypical generational thing.

Doctor Strange is in this film as well, and judging by the trailers, his performance at first felt a little different from his previous outings in the MCU. Having seen the movie, and having remembered some of the other movies he’s been in, it actually feels somewhat consistent. Maybe it feels different because he’s communicating with teenagers, which may not be his forte. I may be making excuses, but I think if you’re an adult, you may have a way of communicating with teenagers in a slightly different tone than you would with your spouse or your boss. You know, unless your employer works at “LitDonald’s!” Keep it 100 with our Big Lit! Sauce me some of those yeet fries! Enjoy the LitRib for a limited time! Although when it comes to consistency, there is a one-liner out of Strange about birthday parties that feels wonderfully similar in tone to this exchange in “Infinity War.”

Dr. Stephen Strange: If we don’t do our jobs…

Tony Stark: What is your job, exactly, besides making balloon animals?

Dr. Stephen Strange: Protecting your reality, douchebag.

But of course, we need to talk about Tom Holland. Spider-Man stories have shown a balance between a hero struggling to maintain his friendships, his identity, while also trying to save the world. In the case of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” this balance is handled brilliantly. The film starts off right where the last one ended, and right off the bat we already see Spider-Man protecting what he has left of his identity, his love interest, and the people he knows. We already start off the movie with one of the worst possible things that could have happened to Peter Parker, and that’s just the beginning. We see him deal with controversy in school. Parker’s trying to find a lawyer. The people he loves are being hurt for reasons beyond their control. As we go through Spider-Man’s journey, the tragedy only builds up. And this is what makes Spider-Man a hero. When he goes to Doctor Strange to make everyone forget he’s Spider-Man, he’s not just looking out for himself, he’s looking out for the people around him. His friends, family, colleagues. There’s a subplot in the film where the trio are trying to get into college and that is only made harder through the their connections to the battle in London.

I expected this film to be exciting. I expected this film to be fun. But part of me was not ready for how much emotion this movie packs. Now I figured there would be at least one emotional moment because it is the third film of a trilogy and that’s where certain ends are tied up for good and that sort of thing. This film has multiple powerful scenes and happenings that bring a balance between the expected excitement and the emotional weight. Tom Holland in this film honestly delivers one of the best performances of his career because of this. I don’t think he’ll be nominated for an Oscar, but by the end of the film, there’s a particular arc that is perfectly assembled and you don’t even need words for it. Just the expressions on his face alone make the scene perfect. You may know what I’m talking about when it comes around.

Although I do want to talk about one thing when it comes to the emotion. This is a spoiler-free review, so I will not go into detail. But the ending of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” despite its instant feeling of satisfaction, induction of a smile, and solid conclusiveness to certain characters, probably would have been made better if Peter did one thing to possibly prevent another thing from happening. If I did a spoiler review, I would expand on it. But again, I cannot. The point of me making this review is not to discuss every single plot point and detail. It is to convince my viewers as to whether they could make a formal decision on whether “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is worth seeing. I recommend you do, I think this is easily one of best “Spider-Man” films ever made. But I want my viewers to go into this film knowing as little as possible, but with enough details as to what I like, didn’t like, and maybe that will help them know whether or not this movie is for them. I would not instantly recommend this movie to my mom (although I would recommend Shang-Chi), but I do recommend a lot of you reading this should go check out “No Way Home” on the biggest screen you can.

I will also point out that this is Jon Watts’s third film in this trilogy, making him the first director to direct a complete trilogy in the MCU. Jon Favreau directed two installments for “Iron Man,” but Shane Black did the third. Joss Whedon did the first two “Avengers” films, but the next two ended up going to the Russo Brothers. When it comes to all three movies, they are solid. But the directing in these films do not really give him much of a chance to individualize himself. And as for this movie, I think Willem Dafoe’s face reveal, as exciting as it was, could have been handled slightly better. It was still exciting, but it was very quick. Although I think if you take into account the end of the film and the performances from just about everyone, this may be the best-directed film in the franchise. Everyone felt true to their characters and when came to Peter’s emotions, Watts likely knew exactly how to touch base with Tom Holland. I think after seeing this film, I am curious to see if there are any specific quirks Watts develops, but I nevertheless think he will do a good job with “Fantastic 4,” whenever that comes out.

One last thing before we move on, J.K. Simmons is back as J. Jonah Jameson. You saw the little snippet of him in the previous film, but now we have him here and the way they utilize him is perfect. For this modern era, his placement in the universe makes sense. He’s basically Alex Jones if he was trying to find a cure for his balding. After seeing this film, I am convinced that nobody else aside from J.K. Simmons can play J. Jonah Jameson. Debate over.

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

In the end, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is the best film in the Jon Watts trilogy. It’s a triumph for Tom Holland. It’s at the end of the day, a love letter to the character. My favorite “Spider-Man” movie is “Spider-Man 2,” and right below that would have to be this one. It’s that good. The movie has its flaws, but no movie’s perfect. I think the best part about “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is that it doesn’t just use all these previous characters and actors just for the sake of marketing. Granted, it definitely helps. But each villain had at minimum, the slightest of reason to be there. Even Sandman and Lizard. The first two “Spider-Man” films in the MCU happen to be about teenage Spider-Man dealing with teenage situations from crushes to school dances. This film, in my imagination, is literally Spider-Man attempting to push back a giant boulder of inconveniences and tragedies. And by the end of the film, I felt enough of its weight to make me care for everyone. If you like “Spider-Man,” you will love this movie. I don’t know if you will like it more depending on whether you have seen the other villains before, but that’s another debate for another time. Please check this film out, take your friends, take your family, take everyone. It’s best experienced with an audience, and there are some are some epic potential applause break moments depending on when and where you see this film. I’m going to give “Spider-Man: No Way Home” a 9/10.

To me, this kind of reminds me of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood…” because despite the glaring issues that such a movie has, I ended up giving it a 9/10. The reason for that is because those issues barely get in the way of all the other crazy sequences and crowd-pleasers of this film. The fan part of me wants to give a perfect score, but again, there’s some issues that keep that from happening. There’s the fan side of me and the critic side of me. Today, I have to be the critic. The film is an experience that I want erased from my memory in order to go back and witness again. For those reasons alone, I highly recommend you go watch this film in a theater. But reserve your tickets in advance, you’re gonna want the best seats.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! I want to let you guys know that I have more reviews coming up including one for “King Richard.” Stay tuned for that! If you want to see more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Spider-Man: No Way Home?” What did you think about it? Or, which Jon Watts-directed “Spider-Man” movie is your favorite? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Matrix Revolutions (2003): The Stylistic, Loud, and Occasionally Epic Finale to End the Green Jesus Trilogy

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! First off, I want to thank everyone for journeying with me through over five full years on Scene Before. It has been a pleasure to talk about all these classic franchises with you. Many of which are being done in correlation to something else, but I often enjoy going off the beaten path and talking about some older movies. Today we are concluding the final review series in this anniversary segment. A series that I like to call, “The Matrix Reviewed.” With that being said, it is time to talk about the third installment to the “Matrix” franchise, “The Matrix Revolutions.” Here’s the story. “The Matrix” has been a widely welcomed and celebrated film that has been considered a modern classic. Then came “The Matrix Reloaded,” which took a lot of the material from the original, repackaged it, expanded on some concepts, but it was not exactly memorable. Or if you ask me, in some cases it lost some of its meaning. I’m looking at you, “upgrades.” As the poster suggests, “everything with a beginning has an end.” Well, until Warner Brothers decides to cash in on nostalgia and make “The Matrix Resurrections,” but that review comes later. Now that the end is here, let’s talk about it!

kinopoisk.ru

“The Matrix Revolutions” is directed by the Wachowskis, the same directors behind the previous two “Matrix” films and stars Keanu Reeves (Point Break, Johnny Mnemonic), Laurence Fishburne (Event Horizon, What’s Love Got to Do with It), Carrie-Anne Moss (F/X: The Series, Dark Justice), Hugo Weaving (Babe, The Interview), and Jada Pinkett Smith (Scream 2, A Different World). This film is the finale to the “Matrix” trilogy, and war is more prominent than ever! This film follows the people of Zion as they fend off invading machines and Neo, the once ordinary soul who became “the one,” tries to stop Agent Smith while also trying to win the war himself.

As mentioned in my review for the original “Matrix,” that film in particular was my first R rated movie. I watched “Reloaded” with my dad about a week and a half later, followed by “Revolutions” just over five months later. At the time I was 12 years old. Therefore, I had more of a concept of what a good and bad movie happened to be than say when I was seven. At the same time however, the reason why I was into “The Matrix” at the time is the same reason why I was into movies like “Star Wars” at the time, they were so visually fascinating and had sound that felt like they had a place beyond the comprehensions of life itself. Safe to say, I enjoyed all the “Matrix” films to some degree, with the first one obviously being my favorite. Now that I am getting to analytically look at these films all over again almost a decade later, I am coming up with affirmations that maybe I would not have had as a child. “The Matrix Reloaded” is action-packed as I remember it being, but story-wise, it lacks substance compared to the original. The new characters were not that interesting. And the upgrades thing kind of bothered me, despite the awesome fight scene where Neo on took on hundreds of Smiths at once in that courtyard.

But the past is the past, the point of this review is to look at what came after “The Matrix.” What came after “The Matrix Reloaded.” So what came after those two things? I’ll tell ya. Another sequel that doesn’t quite hold a candle to the original. Although if you ask me, I do think that this film is slightly more enjoyable than “Reloaded” for what it is. What makes the first film work so well is that despite taking place in the future, and despite taking place in a digital machine, there was a down to earth quality to it. This was shown in the characters, the action (even though it is obviously choreographed), and the comparison between the real world and the matrix world and showing how much more enhanced and kick-ass the latter happens to be.

One thing I noticed in this film compared to “The Matrix Reloaded” is that there is so much action in your face that the idea of story seems to take a backseat. Now this is not always a movie killer. If anything, this year’s “Godzilla vs. Kong” did a really good job at reminding people of why they came to see it. They did not come to see Millie Bobby Brown somehow miraculously make it into Hong Kong for no reason. They came to see giant monsters whopping each other’s asses, and that’s what the movie delivered. Only thing about that film, is that it kind of knew what it was. I feel like these “Matrix” sequels did a good job at taking half of what made the original good, while leaving another half to rot. The half that was included was obviously the visuals and action. The first film had a solid script and story, but I feel like those were left behind.

Although I will note that one of my personal highlights of the movie as we progress is the chemistry between Neo and Trinity, which has blossomed beautifully over the past three films. Even though I have had my critiques as to how Neo was directed in the first film, I do think one constant positive I had for him and the franchise is how he interacts with Carrie-Anne Moss. The relationship has developed from this one encounter in the original film to a charming romance. I HATED the way Neo handled bringing Trinity back to life in “The Matrix Reloaded.” It felt kind of cringeworthy, but nevertheless. The kiss was nice. In fact, I don’t know, I think if Neo just kissed Trinity without putting his hand inside her skin, I think that would have been a more satisfying way to see Trinity return from the dead. I know the heart is essential to live, but I think in this universe, it would have been a more pleasant and given what they’re going for with Neo, a more Christ-like sight.

Yep, there is plenty of Jesus symbolism in this film. If you get to the end of the film, they’re not even trying to hide it. It’s pretty much in your face.

I will say one thing about the end of the film, the final fight in “The Matrix Revolutions” is by far one of my favorites in film history. Now, I love the final fight in the first film, and I think if there is one thing that first fight did better, it would have been stakes. But when it comes to style, this final confrontation has it ALL. By the end, it’s not even a “Matrix” fight anymore and is more likely something out of “Dragonball Z.” This fight does something well that I forgot to mention in my other reviews. One of the signature things about the “Matrix” that I already hinted at in this review is the choreography. In some movies, if the choreography, it can sometimes detract from the film because it feels maybe otherworldly and takes away from the realism at hand. In the case of all three “Matrix” films, they did a really good job stylizing all the action to make every fight feel like a strategy game. As I look at Neo and Smith in this final fight, every single one of their movies feels less like them fighting and instead pushing buttons on a console controller to hopefully master the skill sets of their avatars. It feels incredibly computerized, which is ultimately what the Matrix happens to be. I really like that.

Also, the MUSIC. HOLY CRAP. This is one of the best written pieces of a score I’ve heard in a movie. I dare you not to drive in the rain with this song with a smirk on your eyes. I mean, oh my god. Technically speaking, this is one of my favorite elements of the film. Don Davis is practically unleashing a flame thrower onto all of his orchestral instruments. By the way, once you’re done with this review, go to YouTube and type in “Neodammerung.” It’s freaking awesome. Bill Pope, who has been involved with some of my favorite movies alongside the other two “Matrix” installments, delivers some of the best shots I have seen in a sci-fi film. In terms of style, this film is full of it, and it does not disappoint.

I will note one thing about the visuals of “The Matrix Revolutions” in comparison to the visuals of “The Matrix Reloaded.” Just to note, both films came out in 2003, within months of each other. I think when it comes to the visuals of “Revolutions,” it does a better job than “Reloaded” of not taking you back to 2003. Now, “Revolutions” is newer, it’s younger, but not by much. Keeping that in mind, in a franchise that has heavily tried to impress audiences through groundbreaking visual effects, I think my mind is more likely to harken back to the final battle in this film more than anything else. The fight against all the Smiths in “Reloaded” was great, but it felt like it was designed in a computer whereas the final fight in “Revolutions” to me bended the line just slightly between reality and fiction. For those reasons, I think both films may end up having a somewhat similar replay value, after all this franchise is not a bad one to binge, but “Revolutions” remains superior in terms of how well it holds up.

In the end, “The Matrix Revolutions” is an improvement over “The Matrix Reloaded,” but it ain’t no party like the one in 1999. There are positives in this film. The performances are great from everyone, even Keanu Reeves, who I have criticized in the past. The film has non-stop, exhilarating action, and it is VISUALLY STUNNING. Now again, this film came out in 2003. Therefore it is not as visually appealing as “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King,” but it is eye candy nevertheless. I could watch that final duel between Neo and Smith numerous times over and over. It’s shot wonderfully, and rendered nicely. It gets my thumbs up. If there were a little more substance, maybe the film would be better. But I do think this film is better than some people make it out to be. Maybe it’s because I did not grow up with it. It could just be a representation of my age. I was never part of the phenomenon, which makes me wonder how people will look at films like “Avengers: Endgame” in a matter of 15 years. Either way, I’m going to give “The Matrix Revolutions” a 6/10.

“The Matrix Revolutions” is available on VHS, DVD, HD DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K-Blu-ray! The film is also available on HBO, HBO Max, and Hulu.

Thanks for reading this review! If you want to read my reviews for “The Matrix” or “The Matrix Reloaded,” click the nearby links and check them out! I want to thank everyone for journeying with me through “The Matrix Reviewed,” where I talk about the three live-action “Matrix” films, and I also want to spread my appreciation to everyone who tuned in to any of my special series in honor of Scene Before’s five full years of being on the Internet. We had quite a year from “Mortal Kombat: Finish the Reviews,” “7 Days of Star Wars,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Chest of Reviews,” “Revenge of the Nerds: Nerds in Review,” “Ghostbusters: Before Afterlife,” and the series that has officially been concluded, “The Matrix Reviewed.” It’s been a heck of year and I want to thank all my readers for spending part of it on Scene Before. If you want to see more reviews like this, I will remind you that I will be coming with more thoughts on the latest films including “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” So much content, so little time! This year I will also be recapping my top 10 BEST and WORST films that I saw throughout the 12 month period. I don’t know if I’ll be doing it as early as usual, but we’ll see. I have a ton of movies to talk about, but I don’t even know if I’ll be able to get to all of them. Nevertheless, if you want to see this and more on Scene Before follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account. Also, check out my official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Matrix Revolutions?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite “Matrix” film? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Matrix Reloaded (2003): Digitize Harder

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! It is time for part 2 of the ongoing review series, “The Matrix Reviewed!” Last week we discussed my thoughts on “The Matrix,” and my opinions for the most part appear to be the same as a lot of other people’s, it is easily one of the greatest sci-fi stories ever told. Like many great stories, this one happened to get a sequel. Or in the case of “The Matrix,” two in one year. Don’t usually see that play out much. Today we’re gonna be talking about the first of those two sequels, “The Matrix Reloaded!” Are we able to load some digital goodness on the screen with this film? Here are my two cents!

“The Matrix Reloaded” is directed by the Wachowskis and stars Keanu Reeves (Point Break, Johnny Mnemonic), Carrie-Anne Moss (Models Inc., Memento), Laurence Fishburne (Event Horizon, What’s Love Got to Do with It), Hugo Weaving (Babe, The Interview), Jada Pinkett Smith (Scream 2, A Different World), and Gloria Foster (Law & Order, Leonard Part 6). This film is the sequel to the 1999 box office smash “The Matrix,” one of the biggest R rated films of all time. This sequel follows Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus as they continue their fight against a machine army. This time, the agents are bigger, stronger, and upgraded. SEQUEL S*IT!

You know that sequel advertsing bulls*it? You know what I’m talking about! BIGGER IS BETTER! Forget the first movie! This second movie is gonna make the first movie look like the zeroth movie! I’ll admit, I was three when this film came out, therefore I never had a chance to watch it in the theater, nor did I get to see the trailers. But even I know that this is one of those films that became a literal phenomenon. Heck, this first film became so big, yeah I know it is a franchise now, but that first film is the one everyone talks about, that they apparently took time to reference it in kids’ movies, despite the R rating! Just look at “The LEGO Batman Movie” and “Space Jam: A New Legacy.” Both films are from Warner Animation Group, and even though that first film has blood, language, and tons of violence, they still found a way to put it in a Looney Tunes story! The first film was respected, it won an Oscar, it kind of set a standard for visual effects and sci-fi. If you ask me, I think Keanu Reeves has been directed better in other projects, but that’s just a me problem, and it’s one that would be difficult to turn into a me solution. Time travel doesn’t exist, and I don’t work for Warner Brothers.

I want to talk about some things I like about “The Matrix Reloaded.” The action is great, and in some cases, I think it may almost be better here than in the original. The highway chase was epic, the fight in the courtyard with all the Smiths was wildly entertaining (I’ll get into a problem about it in a second), and there was some pretty badass stuff in the beginning and end of the film with Trinity. The visuals of the film still hold up today. I would not say they’re maybe as good as the visuals from 1999, but they’re still worthy of falling into the “eye candy” classification. I also really like, going back to the bigger is better idea, the expanding of Zion. The first movie teased it, but now we get to see more of it here. It’s not the highlight of the film, but I didn’t hate it. There’s one montage that goes on for a bit too long, but nevertheless.

This idea of “bigger is better” is not just something that one would put in the marketing for a sequel, but something you’d actually see QUOTED in a sequel like this one! There’s a scene where Neo is fighting an Agent and he’s trying to kick his ass. When he thinks he’s got it, he senses the agent’s increased in strength, so we get to hear Neo utter “Upgrades.” I like how this film gives our heroes some tougher competition. But it’s a blessing and a curse at the same time. I think the best example of this is during the fight where we see Neo all by himself in a courtyard after talking to the Oracle. So all these Agents come out and take on Neo altogether. Look, the scene between Neo and all these agents is one of the most exciting, thrilling, and perhaps badass things I have witnessed in a sci-fi movie, but by the end of it, the more I think about it, it almost feels like the stakes have been minimized. We get to see fiveish minutes of Neo fending off all these agents like they’re flying stormtroopers.

“Ah! The agents! They fly now!” I don’t know where that came from. Just go with it.

While it’s totally badass, it also makes the recently exposed “upgrades” feel like nothing. Look, they’re obviously referencing these “upgrades” in the sense that the Agents have gotten stronger. In the quality/quantity expression, the upgrades would more likely link to quality. So when we get to the quantity portion about fifty minutes into the film, the upgrades seem to lessen their meaning.

The great thing about the first “Matrix” is that we see Neo kind of go through a transition from ordinary person to hero. Yes, the hero’s journey trope been done numerous times. But it is often a successful route to take a story. Who doesn’t love a hero? While there is some struggle or newfound obstacles in this sequel, Neo doesn’t come off as someone who is trying to make a massive change amongst himself. Much of the struggle that we see from Neo as a character comes at the end of the film, which is not a terrible thing. That’s kind of the moment where you want a character to fall to their lowest point. It’s the whole thing about getting back on the horse. You may be down but you can get back up.

Now I’m not asking for every movie to be the hero’s journey. That would therefore make every movie the same as the next. I’m just saying that I prefer seeing a Neo find his way through the Matrix and learn about its roots. I feel like the first film gave us a better opportunity to unravel Neo’s personality. Now he’s kind of a robotic god.

You know what’s also bigger in this movie? The slow motion! But it ain’t better! If we learned anything from the “Sharknado” franchise, it’s that too much of something can make that something become worse. I’ve heard this statement through the walls of the Internet before, but I’ll say it because it is kind of true. This movie could have been trimmed in half in terms of the runtime… Okay, maybe not that much, but the trimming would be significant, if the slow motion was not a thing. This film is two hours and eighteen minutes long. Granted, I don’t have a huge problem with the runtime. The pacing was okay. It could have been worse, but if you take out the slow motion, I think you could have trimmed down that runtime quite a bit. Maybe I’m imagining things, I don’t know. But in that first movie, the slow-motion felt like it meant something. But similar to the “Star Wars” prequels where nearly every scene had a lightsaber (not that I’M complaining), it felt like every other moment of the film had some semblance of slow motion. It was kinda ridiculous. Slow motion is cool! But you know what’s also cool? Ice! And if you touch it for too long your hands are gonna go numb so let’s cool down the slow motion a bit!

KEANU REEVES in Warner Bros. PicturesÕ and Village Roadshow PicturesÕ provocative futuristic action thriller “The Matrix Reloaded,” also starring Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. ©2003 WARNER BROS. – U.S., CANADA, BAHAMAS & BERMUDA. ©2003 VILLAGE ROADSHOW FILMS (BVI) LTD – ALL OTHER TERRITORIES (ALL RIGHTS RESERVED USED BY PERMISSION). PHOTOGRAPHS TO BE USED SOLELY FOR ADVERTISING, PROMOTION, PUBLICITY OR REVIEWS OF THIS SPECIFIC MOTION PICTURE AND TO REMAIN THE PROPERTY OF THE STUDIO. NOT FOR SALE OR REDISTRIBUTION

I also really didn’t like the end of the film. I think part of the climax had some cool action, and seeing Neo fly through the city is something that will forever be in my memory. I love seeing that on screen where he’s flying and all these cars are continuously piling up behind him. It’s iconic. But for those who have not seen this movie before, there are a couple key moments after that which I liked less. One involves a character I mentioned already and a situation that feels totally impractical, and the other one involves something that I feel didn’t have the impact I thought it was trying to go for. I don’t know, this movie goes bigger, but really minimizes the oomph in the final moments. Strange.

The Matrix Reloaded (2003) - IMDb

In the end, “The Matrix Reloaded” had some glitches. While it is not the worst sci-fi film ever, it is a massive step down from the original. I talked about how my one big con from the original film is the way Neo was portrayed, which I assume mostly had to do with directing. Even though I think he could have been portrayed better in the original, I still think was written better in the original. He’s written worse in this film, but Keanu Reeves’s performance here, in his defense, matches the slightly more lackluster writing. Again, the like bigger is better thing, it’s a blessing and a curse. I’ll always remember the first “Matrix” as one of my favorite sci-fi films. The second film, not so much. I’m going to give “The Matrix Reloaded” a 5/10.

“The Matrix Reloaded” is available on VHS, DVD, HD DVD, Blu-ray, 4K Blu-ray, and is also available to watch on HBO Max.

Thanks for reading this review! Be sure to stay tuned for next week, December 19th to be specific, because I will be reviewing “The Matrix Revolutions,” capping the ongoing “The Matrix Reviewed” review series and ending the ongoing trend of reviewing older movies in 2021. Until my top 10 best and worst of the year, which may end up coming out late, just so you’re aware, I will solely focus on reviewing films released in 2021 including “Ron’s Gone Wrong,” “West Side Story,” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home” just to name a few examples. If you want to see this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Matrix Reloaded?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite slow-motion scene in film history? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Matrix (1999): A Sci-Fi Wonder Drug

Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Welcome to the final review series of 2021, “The Matrix Reviewed,” where I talk about the critically mixed “Matrix” trilogy. Based on the major opinion from critics, “The Matrix” is a franchise with a great first movie, but some inferior sequels. But then again, sequels are not often as good as the original as the old saying goes. Today we will be talking about the 1999 film “The Matrix,” which has become a classic amongst sci-fi fans, and one of the most parodied movies of its era. Tell me you haven’t seen a movie reference one of its slow motion gimmicks. “Shrek” immediately comes to mind for me. Either way, it is time to review the film! Enjoy!

“The Matrix” is written and directed by the Wachowskis and stars Keanu Reeves (Point Break, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure), Laurence Fishburne (Event Horizon, What’s Love Got to Do with It), Carrie-Anne Moss (Dark Justice, F/X: The Series), Hugo Weaving (Babe, The Interview), and Joe Pantoliano (Godzilla: The Series, Risky Business). This film is about a man who is taken to an underworld where he is given a couple of choices, the blue pill or the red pill. He chooses the latter, allowing him to discover the truth about his world, and the depths of an underworld controlled by an AI. In a journey of universal discovery, where he is prophesized to become “the one,” Neo must embrace the inner-workings of the matrix while also surviving against a team of Agents.

“The Matrix” may be one of the most significant films I have talked about on Scene Before, not just on an objective level where many consider it to be one of the best films in its genre, but it is also a personal goldmine for me. For the record, I first saw “The Matrix” at age 12, and was enamored by it. “The Matrix” was the first ever R rated film I’ve ever watched. Looking back, it’s a tamer R rated flick, but it has its reasons to be rated R from language to blood to some disturbing images. “The Matrix” is one of those films that I have always appreciated. The film released in 1999 and upon multiple rewatches, it never shown any sign of aging or deterioration over the years. 1999 was honestly a fascinating year for visual effects between this film and “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace,” while “The Phantom Menace” has some cool shots, a lot of its renderings feel pixelated by today’s standards. “The Matrix” feels immersive, detailed, and glamourous. The film came out in 1999, and even today, it is one of the first things I think of when it comes to virtual reality. It is a world that looks almost too good to be true, but also legit enough that it can have kinks and characteristics that separate it from the real world.

Let’s talk about Keanu Reeves as Neo. I have to say, compared to some of his earlier performances such as Johnny Utah in “Point Break” and as Ted in the “Bill & Ted” films, this is a completely different outlook for him. And you know why? Because in those movies, Reeves’s characters have a nearly built-in, natural charisma. When I watched “The Matrix” once or twice or when I thought about it as a younger individual, I always thought that Keanu Reeves played such a stoic character, and I thought that made him appear limited in terms of his acting ability. If I had seen those other films first, which I did not at the time, it took me five years to get from seeing “The Matrix” to seeing “Point Break,” I probably would have had a different appreciation for Keanu Reeves as a performer. There are times throughout the film where Neo feels like a random pawn in the middle of the chessboard while everyone else is super-expressive. In fact, here’s a good comparison. You ever play a video game like “Portal” or “The Legend of Zelda” where the protagonist doesn’t talk? That’s what Neo feels like at times. He’s one of those characters that you may grow to like, but he may not be as outgoing as everybody else. I do think if I were writing or directing “The Matrix,” I would make Neo a tad a more expressive, but he has his moments. I even like the little supposed nod that his character gives to “Bill & Ted” during the “first jump” scene.

In all seriousness, if you take the dynamic performances of Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus, Joe Pantoliano as Cypher, and Hugo Weaving as the fearsome yet handsome Agent Smith, you have all these incredibly directed performances surrounding one that quite frankly, wasn’t BAD, but it felt like it was in a different space compared to everyone else. I mean, I guess Trinity sort of felt the same as Neo performance-wise in ways, but nevertheless. Maybe if I watch the film again I’ll feel different.

Also, can we talk about Gloria Foster as the Oracle? I love all my grandparents equally, but if I could have anyone else as my grandma, I think the Oracle would instantly come to mind. I could occasionally go for some real, brutal foreshadowing followed by some delicious cookies. Can’t go wrong!

The Matrix (1999) - IMDb

To me, the performances are not exactly what makes “The Matrix” so freaking spectacular. At the end of the day, it comes down to the action. When it comes to sci-fi, “The Matrix” may just have some of the single best action sequences in the genre. The kung-fu sequence where we see Neo and Morpheus in the dojo is ultra-exciting. Not only does it properly showcase and foreshadow the obstacles Neo may have to face in his journey, but it’s just a slick looking fight! I remember watching this for the first time years ago and being awe-struck by Neo flipping in the air showing himself off. This fight opened the doors to a digital environment. What happened here felt greater than reality. I also love the whole badass slo-mo bullets trend this movie does from time to time. I do think there is such a thing as an overuse of slow motion in film, but “The Matrix” makes it look jaw-dropping. The fights involving heavy gunfire are intense and action-packed. There’s a big shootout in a lobby where you see chunks of the wall flying everywhere, it’s like if the bullets were flying into a concrete birthday cake! If this movie had no dialogue and were judged solely on visuals, it would be a 10/10.

“The Matrix” does a really good job at making you feel like you’re either in the real world or the virtual world. The most noticeable difference is the color grading. Whenever you’re in the real world, there’s this pale blue feel, which partially makes sense because that’s probably where Neo would have stayed if he had just taken the blue pill, but of course, he didn’t. Plus, blue, at least in this instance, presents itself as a rather depressing color. It’s gloomy and sets a banal atmosphere. Inside the matrix, you’ll see that everything is green, and every time that green tint is on screen, it feels super vibrant and noticeable. It doesn’t just match all of the code on screen, but it’s also attractive to the eye. It makes you want to be a part of this other world.

I’m gonna talk a bit about the climax, but I will also keep some details hidden for people who have not watched the movie yet, which you definitely should. The climax of “The Matrix” allows us to see Neo’s arch fully realized, it does what a climax should do in a movie like this. Take everything we saw from earlier stages of the protagonist’s journey and unleash it all in one satisfying conclusion. Some ways may be predictable, but there is one built up piece that was foreshadowed that plays out in a way that I think some people will not see coming. I won’t say what it is though.

The Matrix (1999) - IMDb

I will say though, one of the other things I like about “The Matrix” is that despite being in a vast world where there are less physical or emotional consequences than our reality, it does an okay job at making you feel like there are real stakes involved. There are real emotions, real stories, and despite hyping up reality just a few notches, the film manages to bring itself down to earth every once in a while. It feels weird to say especially with a character like Neo showing little emotion from time to time, but there are also times where he shines as someone who wants something. That’s what all protagonists do, right? They want something. I think the want in “The Matrix” is decently explored.

The Matrix (1999) - IMDb

In the end, “The Matrix” is one of the most badass movies I have ever seen. It is a fun film to watch, and it FLIES BY. It is a film that never feels slow. There’s always something going on! Before I forget, I also need to shout out Don Davis, who composed the score for the film. Unfortunately, he has not been that active in the realm of film composing, but “The Matrix” has a score that by the end, becomes a thing of delight. It’s intense, fast-paced, and might even be good for working out at the gym or going for a jog. I do think Keanu Reeves’s performance could have been better, but I do not know if I should put most of the blame on him, the Wachowskis, or maybe both sides. Again, if I were in the director’s chair, I would handle this matter differently, but that’s just me. Either way, I’m going to give “The Matrix” a 9/10.

“The Matrix” is now available on VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, HD DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K Blu-ray. The film will be shown for a multiple night engagement in IMAX as of the week I’m writing this, the week of December 7th and 8th, 2021. It is also available to stream on HBO Max.

KEANU REEVES in Warner Bros. PicturesÕ and Village Roadshow PicturesÕ provocative futuristic action thriller “The Matrix Reloaded,” also starring Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. ©2003 WARNER BROS. – U.S., CANADA, BAHAMAS & BERMUDA. ©2003 VILLAGE ROADSHOW FILMS (BVI) LTD – ALL OTHER TERRITORIES (ALL RIGHTS RESERVED USED BY PERMISSION). PHOTOGRAPHS TO BE USED SOLELY FOR ADVERTISING, PROMOTION, PUBLICITY OR REVIEWS OF THIS SPECIFIC MOTION PICTURE AND TO REMAIN THE PROPERTY OF THE STUDIO. NOT FOR SALE OR REDISTRIBUTION

Thanks for reading this review! Be sure to tune in next week, December 12th, because I’ll be talking about “The Matrix Reloaded!” It will be the talk of the town during my next installment of “The Matrix Reviewed!” Stay tuned! If you want to see this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or a WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Matrix?” What did you think about it? Or, what is the first R rated movie you have ever watched? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Eternals (2021): Chloe Zhao’s First Post-Best Picture Effort

“Eternals” is directed by Chloe Zhao, who is the writer, director, and editor of the current champion of the Academy Awards, “Nomadland.” For those who don’t know, the film was nominated for several awards, took home a few, including Best Picture, so naturally my anticipation for this film, at the time, was honestly HIGHER than “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which seems to be the movie all comic book film fans have been building themselves up to this year. Sounds crazy, but I’m not lying. This film stars Gemma Chan (Transformers: The Last Knight, Raya and the Last Dragon), Richard Madden (Cinderella, Game of Thrones), Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley, The Big Sick), Lia McHugh (The Lodge, American Woman), Brian Tyree Henry (Vice Principals, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), Lauren Ridloff (Sound of Metal, The Walking Dead), Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk, American Animals), Don Lee (Train to Busan, The Neighbors), Harish Patel (Run Fatboy Run, Today’s Special), Kit Harington (Game of Thrones, Pompeii), Salma Hayek (The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Grown Ups), and Angelina Jolie (Salt, Wanted).

This film is about a group of everlasting beings who have lived on earth for 7,000 years. They take the form of human, although they are not exactly human per se. Throughout their time on earth, they take it upon themselves to protect life from the Deviants, a set of invasive creatures who the Eternals finished off by 1521. Or, at least that was they were told originally was their mission. But now, somehow the Deviants made a return, allowing for the Eternals to reassemble after years apart to protect humanity and prevent the Emergence, or an essential rebirth of earth, which had been delayed due to the Blip that eliminated half of the universe’s population, from happening.

This is a lot to take in. And that is going to be a theme throughout this review. This is the first year we have had MCU-specific spinoff shows and FOUR MCU movies released in theaters. Granted, part of this is due to COVID-19 pushing some projects like “Black Widow” and this one back, but still. A few years back we were getting three MCU movies, and I already thought that was getting slightly overwhelming. We’re literally getting FOUR MCU MOVIES IN A HALF A YEAR! We have “Black Widow,” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “Eternals,” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” As far as Marvel shows go, we have “WandaVision,” “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” “Loki,” and “Hawkeye.” To be completely honest, the Marvel shows have mostly had some effect of leaving me underwhelmed. I liked the beginning and end of “WandaVision,” “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” had a strong start, but I pretty much forgot certain portions by the end. “Loki” had a GREAT concept, with some okay execution. Didn’t like the finale though. As for “Hawkeye,” it’s a bit early to judge, but I would not be surprised if I forgot it by a year from now.

Of those eight projects, I mean, holy crap! “Eternals” was honestly my most anticipated of them all! I started off 2020 anticipating “Spider-Man: No Way Home” the most, but when I saw “Nomadland” and all its awards honors, that changed significantly. Chloe Zhao is a director I do not know everything about, but I know a couple things about her. First off, she is a brilliant storyteller. I gave her specifically two awards last year during the Jackoffs, one for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director. The reason why I thought Zhao was a perfect fit for a movie like this is because she has shown that she knows how to balance serious and lighthearted tones, which has been a backbone for some of my favorite Marvel movies. “Captain America: Civil War” takes a serious matter like the aftermath of millions of people dying because the heroes saw something as the greater good, and yet you have Spider-Man throwing jokes every other minute. “Avengers: Infinty War” deals with the potential downfall of half the universe’s population, and yet we have time for Star Lord mocking his newfound companions. “Iron Man 3” deals with Tony Stark having anxiety attacks and insomnia, but he also finds away to throw a witty one-liner at someone in every other scene. It’s serious, yet hilarious, and it never feels like these two tones clash to create something stupid.

As for “Eternals,” this is definitely the most serious film they have done in the MCU to date. Honestly, this film has the lore building that I experienced in “Dune” just this year. This is not to say there is no humor. I think when it comes to that, Kumail Nanjiani’s character of Kingo is a major standout, not to mention his camera guy, Karun, played by Harish Patel. Kingo, at least in his modern outlook, is a Bollywood actor who enjoys the craft of cinema and the arts. I find it quite fascinating to see an Eternal like him blend into the 21st century world as we know it, but I also find his presence interesting as it raises a couple questions. As a movie star, will he ever be cast as an old man due to his long lifespan? As much range as this guy may have, I cannot see him as Gandalf. But in all seriousness, I was quite excited to see Nanjiani in this film as on the surface he was one of my favorite performers of the bunch, and I was not disappointed.

Nanjiani, however, is not the heart and soul of “Eternals,” because the film starts and ends with Gemma Chan’s character of Sersi. As far as Gemma Chan’s performance in this film goes, it has an interesting history, because this is not Chan’s first time playing an MCU character. She did after all have a role in “Captain Marvel” as Minn-Erva. I cannot tell you what I thought of her in that film because I pretty much forgot about most of it by now. Again, there were three MCU projects in 2019, one has to be the forgotten child. It could not compete with “Avengers: Endgame” and “Spider-Man: Far from Home.” But I think this character brings a sense of both maturity and grace to the MCU, maybe in a way that has not been done until now. We’ve seen space aliens, wacky beings, and so on, but I will give everyone credit for coming up with a way to bring someone like Sersi down to earth. Each and every scene she felt like someone who knew the planet for such a long time, but also someone who maybe has seen too much, but despite that, she can’t wait to experience whatever else lies ahead. That sounds like a ton of bull, but I hope it makes at least a nick of sense. I am somewhat fascinated by her fascination, the fact that she spent a lifetime observing the lives of others and being enamored by it all. It’s kind of neat to see someone so invested in something that is not their own. It’s almost like she’s a lifelong nature photographer.

What makes this even more fascinating is that not all the Eternals agree on everything. The dynamic of the Eternals when it comes to this reminds me of one scene from the 2007 “Transformers” movie because Optimus Prime is clearly pro-human, he wants to protect them as he sees goodness in every one of them. He says this despite those same people capturing Bumblebee, while a couple of the other Autobots found them to be violent and destructive. This is where Druig comes in, because even though at the end of the day, he has to follow what is supposedly the greater good for him and others, he does not always see great achievements out of mankind, and part of it is because of factors that he was initially told not to control.

One of the big questions of this film, both before going into it and in the script, is “Why did these Eternal beings never interfere in any human activity?” Why did they not stop Thanos? A being that literally erased half of all living creatures? The movie explains that they cannot interfere in any happenings unless Deviants are involved, which as mentioned, all of those creatures were eliminated, or so they thought. Is it odd that they never fought Thanos? Admittedly, yes. At the same time though, if “Avengers: Infinity War” took its current script and spent time introducing all these new characters, the movie would be bloated as hell. This movie has ten Eternals, and it is probably the densest story in the MCU yet. While “Guardians of the Galaxy” was a team-up movie, it was never as jam-packed as this. Basically, this film goes over the creation of life, while also talking about the potential end of it.

When I think of superheroes, two opposite ideas come to mind. Turning men into gods, like Shazam, Spider-Man, and Captain America. Then there’s the idea of turning gods into men, like Thor, Superman, and Wonder Woman. I say that because those last three heroes come from elsewhere and try to blend in with our kind, which the Eternals have done to a T. You have all these people who have seen things happen through the ages and are in fact the most accurate representation of walking history books in MCU history, and at a certain point, you have not only these people showing an appreciation for mankind, but also a desire to live amongst their kind. We see this with the character of Sprite, because one of her struggles throughout the film is that she is living amongst the humans and she’s in this permanent state. Humans change and evolve, but she cannot.

Much like “Nomadland,” this film looks BEAUTIFUL. This film is shot on multiple gorgeous locations, in addtion to some nice sets. Honestly, this is the best-looking MCU film, and I say that in a way that may sound like a detractor to all the other work that came before it (but it isn’t). “Eternals” really doesn’t look like an MCU film. It’s something that’s kind of dirtier. It’s more rugged, but also pristine in spots. It’s like a nice used car you instantaneously buy off the lot and end up taking for a number of joyrides. I saw this film in IMAX, which shows 26% more footage than traditional movie screens for a film like this, and I honestly felt like I was on the beach with these superpowered beings. I wanted more. In fact, after seeing this film, I kind of do want more, I want a break, there is a lot to take in, so I need rest. But I also want more, and this also allows me to state my one problem with the film.

I love the MCU. I know there is a whole debate on whether or not it is actually “cinema,” which I never understood. Yes, I will partially agree with Martin Scorsese that these films work as theme park rides, but that kind of adds to the, well, cinematic experience. But like a lot of cinema, I end up caring about the characters in this film. And when I say characters, I mean CHARACTERS. There is lot to unpack in “Eternals.” I saw this film with a friend, and by the end of it, I talked about how much I liked it, how fun it was, and the things I liked about it, but the film is unbelievably dense. I’m terrible with names in general, but holy crap, I had trouble remembering some of these heroes’ names! There are times in “Eternals” where I’m watching it and it feels like I’m reading chapters of a textbook. Okay, okay! Slow down just a little! It’s a different take on the MCU than I’ve seen in movies past. I welcome it, in fact I love having a different take. But it also played with my mind a bit.

But I also want to say that when it comes to this year’s MCU projects, despite being my most anticipated of the bunch, it did not end up being my favorite. My favorite, at least thus far, is “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” By the end of that film, it basically becomes the typical MCU fare with magnificent creatures flying in the air, CGI galore, and so on, but it starts in such a way that felt at least kind of different, similar to how “Eternals” was trying to be. The reason why I would rather flock back to that film compared to “Eternals” is because at the end of the day, “Shang-Chi” is about a couple best friends having fun as they discover a whole world bigger than themselves. It’s hilarious, action-packed, and has some of the MCU’s best choreography. Much like “Eternals,” I had a couple scenes where my jaw dropped to the floor. But when it comes to my taste in films, replay value is a massive factor in how much I like a movie. I’ll definitely watch “Eternals” again, but I may have to be in a certain mood to watch it on a Friday night. “Shang-Chi” feels more like a movie you can watch either by yourself with your friends. It’s a perfect movie for just about anyone. I would even recommend it to my mom, and she never watches these types of films. “Eternals” is a movie I can see having a more limited audience. It knows its audience and knows it well, but nevertheless.

If I had to give one more positive to “Eternals,” it would be this. One of the big things about the earlier MCU films is that they were all practically building up to Thanos, the idea that half the universe could literally fade. Thanos was seen as the pinnacle of the fate should be avoided. “Eternals” eased my worries in terms of the MCU’s future because Thanos was such an enormous threat, that my big question was how they could top it. “Eternals” seems to promise something potentially bigger, while also introducing big concepts for the early MCU timeline. I will not go into full detail, but this movie is not only huge in its own scale, but the scale of what may be to come.

In the end, “Eternals” is a film that I want to go back to watch another time, and it honestly, the more I think about it, feels a like a motion picture that ages like a fine wine. I have a feeling that if I go back and watch it again, I will have a greater appreciation for the characters. This is a film that introduces a lot of new characters and concepts to the MCU, a lot of which I like. I think Chloe Zhao has brought and may continue to bring some sparks of glamour and fun to this ongoing universe and I would love to see more of her work in it. Do I think “Eternals” is going to get a Best Picture nomination like “Nomadland?” I don’t think so. There’s still a few movies still coming out this year like “Don’t Look Up” that seem to have potential, and the Rotten Tomatoes scores are not fantastic by MCU standards. But if you want an entertaining, beautiful, lore-stacked story, I highly recommend “Eternals” and I’m going to give it an 8/10.

“Eternals” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks fore reading this review! I have plenty of material coming including reviews for “Red Notice,” that’ll be my next new release to talk about, but also stay tuned for my thoughts on “Ron’s Gone Wrong,” “King Richard,” “Tick Tick… Boom,” and a few other films that I am getting set to talk about! Lots of big stuff coming!

Also, on Sunday, December 5th, my final scheduled review series of 2021 is here! In honor of “The Matrix Resurrections” hitting theaters on December 22nd, I will be reviewing all three main “Matrix” installments. On December 5th, I’ll be reviewing “The Matrix,” followed by “The Matrix Reloaded” on December 12th, and “The Matrix Revolutions” on December 19th. These dates could change, I have not decided yet, but we shall see. I cannot wait to talk about these films, the first one is very significant to me, if you need any hints on what I might say during my review that I’m going to be posting on Sunday. If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Eternals?” What did you think about it? Also, did you see “Nomadland?” What are your thoughts on that? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Dune (2021): Denis Villeneuve Brings on the Dandy Sandy in This Epic, Beautifully Boisterous Adaptation

“Dune” is directed by Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049, Arrival) and stars Timothee Chalamet (Interstellar, Call Me by Your Name), Rebecca Ferguson (Reminiscence, Mission: Impossible – Fallout), Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ex Machina), Zendaya (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Space Jam: A New Legacy), Josh Brolin (The Goonies, Avengers: Infinity War), Stellan Skarsgård (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Thor), Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy, My Spy), Stephen McKinley Henderson (Lady Bird, Devs), Chang Chen (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Assassin), Sharon Duncan-Brewster (FIFA 17, Doctor Who), Charlotte Rampling (Stardust Memories, Dexter), Jason Momoa (Aquaman, Game of Thrones), and Javier Bardem (Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales). This film is an adaptation of the Frank Herbert novel and follows Paul Atreides, a young boy born into a royal, planet-ruling family. Paul is destined to one day take on the role of Kwistaz Haderach, much to the dismay of some, considering how his mother was instructed to bear a daughter. When House Atreides arrives on Arrakis, a sandy planet with worms that pop up out of the ground like geysers, it is up to them and Paul to protect the planet and its valuable resource, spice.

Where do I even start with “Dune?” Unlike “Blade Runner,” when it comes to Denis Villeneuve’s work, I was much less familiar with “Dune’s” source material, especially when compared to Villeneuve himself, because the more I heard about this movie, the more I recognized Herbert’s love for the source material. When I first heard Denis Villeneuve was working on this project, and I think cinematographer Roger Deakins was rumored to be involved as well, I was obviously excited because Villeneuve is one of the best directors working in Hollywood today. I’ve only seen a couple of his films, but I’ve always been curious to go back to “Sicario” and “Enemy” because of how much I have adored his recent work. Both “Arrival” and “Blade Runner 2049” made it to my Top Movies of the 2010s countdown event as the #10 and #2 spots respectively. I love both films to the moon and beyond, and I cannot tell you how many times I popped in the 4K Blu-ray for “Blade Runner 2049” since I bought it. I have not even read the novel or its follow-ups, and even with that, “Dune” was easily my most anticipated film of 2021. It may have even been my most anticipated for 2020, but COVID-19 ended up killing the hopes of it coming out that year.

Just for the record, I have not seen any of the previous on-screen adaptations of “Dune.” I’ve read a number of pages of “Dune” during a car ride, but I never picked it back up. It’s not that I did not like the book, I just didn’t have time for it. But regardless of what I have not seen, the trailers for this film encapsulated a supposed epic vibe that Villeneuve and crew may have been shooting for. Big scale, massive locations, and we even got a bit of taste of Hans Zimmer’s score long before the film officially released, and when I heard it, it made me more excited for the film because it sounds like what would happen if a madman trapped an orchestra in a chamber and wouldn’t release them until they were dead tired. From the little that I heard, it sounded majestic as hell.

Now that “Dune” is done, what did I think?

In a number of ways, “Dune” met my expectations, but it is not the best movie of the year. I can think of a few movies I liked more. BUT, if you want a great time at the movies that can make you put your thinking cap on, “Dune” may be for you. “Dune” reminded me of a number of films, one of the first being “Blade Runner 2049,” mainly because both have some distinctions that Denis Villeneuve can call his own. Plus, I knew a tad about “Dune” going into it, and one of the things I knew is that it was pretty dense, so it was no surprise to me that the film itself would turn out to be a bit of a slow burn. Slow does not mean bad in this case. You can make a film slow as long as it seems that the pace fits for the subject matter or the film itself. Same goes with quick pace. You can have explosions and bangs and crazy lasers flying in your face every other second as long as the script and direction makes those things add up. This is not to say there are no explosions in “Dune.” There are, just watch the trailers. But don’t go in expecting every other scene to be like a dogfight in “Star Wars.” But on that note, this film also feels rather “Star Wars”-esque. Granted, the book came out before “Star Wars” hit theaters, but my point is, both stories have similar vibes and themes. Both involve young boys who associate with desert planets and must strive to become men greater than themselves. Both in a way have to follow the hero’s journey, a typical story structure that is often followed or slightly altered depending on the story at hand. I will not give any details as to what ways “Dune” follows or does not follow that structure, but the point stands.

I want to talk about some of the characters in this film, and believe me when I say that this film is not short on bringing together a great cast. Between Timothee Chalamet, who I loved since “Interstellar,” to Zendaya who is practically starting to appear in everything now, to Oscar Isaac who has been great in Alex Garland’s work along with the “Star Wars” franchise, even though he was the one who had to say “Somehow Palpatine returned.” The film is not short on A-listers and stars. Overall, the chemistry and acting between everyone was top notch.

Timothee Chalamet appears as if he is going to be the next Oscar great. Maybe not this year, he is still quite young. But throughout his lifetime, I think he’ll be the male equivalent to Meryl Streep. I think one day, we’ll see an Academy Awards ceremony with an opening monologue from whoever is currently hosting a hit talk show on ABC and one of the jokes will poke fun at Chalamet for stealing all the Oscars from all the up and coming talent. I almost think there is no one better to play Paul Atreides because Chalamet not only looks young, but he has this bridge between him that I can sense that he is young enough to be a kid, but mature enough to be liked by the parents of whomever he’s dating. Chalamet has range, and it is shown in this film through his expressiveness and occasional stoic nature. That’s not implying that Paul Atreides, the character himself, is up for question on what kind of character he actually is, but it sort of shows that the character knows how to put himself in a variety of situations, even though he is still learning how to be an adult.

Along with Chalamet for much of the journey is Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica. I will admit, after watching the movie, someone brought up a creepy but true fact. Take this as you will. One of my favorite elements of the movie is the chemistry between Timothee Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson. Naturally, it feels the way a mother and son should be. The mother wants what’s best for her kid, and the kid does his best to impress the mother even though he may occasionally lash out or disagree with her. Chemistry-wise, I would love to see more of these two actors together. The thing however, in real life, Chalamet is 25 years old. Rebecca Ferguson is 38 years old. That’s a difference of 13 years! So either teenage reproduction is much more welcomed, accepted, and/or encouraged in the future, or these actors have such great range that age is meaningless, therefore making both individuals more convincing performers. For the sake of sanity and the fact that child labor laws exist, I would much prefer to go with the latter. If anything, I think Rebecca Ferguson may give a better performance than Timothee Chalamet, because there are several scenes and lines of dialogue that I could feel her pain, reflecting a natural instinct that most, if not all mothers, would have.

The main antagonistic side of the film would be the Harkonnens, who ravage the planet of Arrakis for Spice. It is up to our heroes to defend the planet and its precious resource. So in a way, this movie is literally the War on Drugs. This side allows for some more great performances to shine through, including one from Dave Bautista as Beast Rabban Harkonnen. I want to highlight him in this review because I think that a performance like this allows him to sharpen his skills as an actor. I like Dave Bautista as a personality, but I think even he knows that his acting skills are limited. Unlike his role as Drax the Destroyer, where he would either scream, laugh in someone’s face, or give a brooding quote every once in a while, his role in “Dune” is more menacing and takes the brooding nature of his Drax character and intensifies it a bit. I like Drax the Destroyer, but if you watch him in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” the way he’s both written and performed feel slightly one-dimensional, but Bautista did an okay job with the character nevertheless. I think if you put Bautista in front of the right director like James Gunn, again, I like Drax. Or in this case Denis Villeneuve, his talents could be unleashed. I hope that these two continue to collaborate in the future.

As menacing as Bautista may be, he’s got nothing on Baron Harkonnen himself, played by Stellan Skarsgård. HOLY CRAP. Now that’s casting. I also have to give props to the makeup department, because of the work they did on the Harkonnens, making them all look pasty white. As for Stellan Skarsgård, this is no offence to him, because in real life, he may be a nice guy, I would not want to shake Baron Harkonnen’s hand. He looks like what would happen if Wilford Brimley ate a ton of ice cream and endlessly made fun of the children of generations below his, and maybe once in a while, enjoyed those kids’ heads with his ice cream. The dude flat out looks creepy by sci-fi standards. You want my money Warner Bros.? You own both these characters to a degree so make this happen! Get Bill and Stellan Skarsgård together, have them portray their characters of Pennywise and Baron Harkonnen respectively, just have them go around scaring children and other crap like that. I’d watch that.

One character that must also be acknowledged is Duncan Idaho. Aside from the fact that the name is freaking lit, Jason Momoa is perfectly cast as this character, because similar to how he made Aquaman a superhero I would want to have a drink with, Momoa shines because of his enthusiastic, almost reckless nature in this film. He’s in a somewhat serious, deep, intense sci-fi picture that the rest of these characters happen to be in, and he’s the only performer who happens to be taking things not so seriously. His character just screams ridiculous fun at times. He’s expressive, he’s witty, he’s charismatic, and much like Aquaman, I would go to a bar with Idaho if I had the chance.

For those of you who were looking forward to seeing Zendaya in the film for whatever reason, I would not prepare for disappointment, but I would also not prepare for excitement at this point, because her character is written in such a way that she has such a minimal impact and appearance throughout the film. If anything, we’ll probably get more of her in part two. I do think her character was well cast, I just hope the next movie gives us a clear answer as to whether Zendaya was truly a good choice for the role of Chani. But from what I’ve seen so far, she seems promising.

I really want to talk about the ending of this film, without spoilers of course. But most stories you read or watch have a proper ending where something dramatic happens, matters are resolved, maybe there’s a happily ever after, then we cut to “the end,” maybe black or white, or just straight to the credits. “Dune” does not have that kind of ending. I will not say where it ends, but it ends in a particularly interesting place. Let’s just say the ending is not the same as the first book… If you want to put it that way. The film ends on at a place where we see our characters in a particular situation only to have the screen cut to black. I have seen the film twice, and both times, I did not mind the ending. Mainly because I have enjoyed what I have seen so far, and the movie set itself up in a way to make me want more. I left thinking, what’s next? When are we getting the next movie? I want it now! Some would claim that in a way, this story is unfinished. I disagree. While the film is structured in a such a way that could garner such a thought when the ending comes up, I disagree because from start to finish, this movie is about the journey, struggle, and change of Paul Atreides as a character. We see him start at one point. We know his ambition, his flaws, and what others think of him. By the end of the film, he is different from how he is when it starts. I won’t give much detail, but if you pay close attention to the movie, you’ll notice. One journey is over, and another one begins. It is a… Strange ending. But it is also one that happens to be effective. I do not blame the movie for ending where it did.

With that being said, “Dune: Part Two” cannot come fast enough. When it arrives, I will buy my tickets in a heartbeat.

I thought to myself upon leaving the theater that while “Dune” was not my favorite film of this year, there is a lot that will it do to aspire future filmmakers and storytellers. I have a feeling that this “Dune” movie is going to have a similar impact on part of the current generation that “Star Wars” and “Lord of the Rings” did on their generations. If anything, even though there were some imperfections when it comes “Dune,” I think it has a shot at being the next “Lord of the Rings.” Between the modern visuals, the epic scope, the dense storytelling with enormous potential, this is absolute franchise material. In fact, as of writing this, not only is “Dune: Part Two” greenlit, but there’s also going to be a TV show set in the “Dune” universe coming to HBO Max at some point. This could be big.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – JANUARY 16: Composer Hans Zimmer arrives at the 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at The Beverly Hilton hotel on January 16, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

As for Hans Zimmer’s score, OH MY GOD. If you go see this in theaters, and I highly recommend you do so, prepare to have the room shake like a fish out of water. It is some of his best work to date and I would put it up there with, interestingly enough, another score he did for a Denis Villeneuve film, “Blade Runner 2049,” which he did with Benjamin Wallfisch.

In the end, “Dune,” or “Dune: Part One,” depending on your preference, is a great adaptation of the iconic sci-fi novel. It’s dense and occasionally hard to get through if you are in a certain mindset, but this film successfully created an epic atmosphere and introduced a whole new world of lore and possibilities. Well, kinda. This is another retelling of a classic story. Denis Villeneuve is up there with some of my favorite directors and this movie ended in such a way where I enjoyed the journey so far, but I also left with curiosity as to where they’d take the story. As of now, “Dune: Part Two” is my most anticipated film of 2023. The film can occasionally feel dense and strenuous. The ending, even though it did fulfill the arch of Paul Atreides, comes at a satisfying point, but also feels particularly emptier compared to other portions of the film. So for what I said, I massively enjoyed “Dune,” and I have a feeling that it could be something that will increase in enjoyment through repeat viewings. I’m going to give “Dune” an 8/10.

“Dune” is now playing in theaters everywhere and is streaming for a limited time on the ad-free tier of HBO Max.

Thanks for reading this review! If you are worried that I am going to be short on upcoming content. Trust me, I’m not. I want you all to know that I have reviews coming for “The French Dispatch,” “Last Night in Soho,” “Eternals,” and “Ron’s Gone Wrong.” There’s plenty of content to come but so little time! If you want to read this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Dune?” What did you think about it? Or, did you ever read any of the “Dune” books? Which is your favorite? And did you see any of the other “Dune” adaptations? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021): The Lethal Protector and the Big Red One Slash Up a Great Time

“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is directed by Andy Serkis (Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, Black Panther) and stars Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Mad Max: Fury Road), Woody Harrelson (The Edge of Seventeen, Zombieland), Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea, Blue Valentine), Naomie Harris (Spectre, Moonlight), Reid Scott (My Boys, Veep), Stephen Graham (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Boardwalk Empire), and Peggy Lu (Kung Pow: Enter the Fist, Always Be My Maybe). This film is the second installment to the “Venom” franchise, based on the Marvel Comics character. This time around, Eddie Brock who has spent time with a venomous symbiote in his body, attempts to interview Cletus Kassady, a serial killer. Kassady soon becomes a problem as he morphs into the big symbiotic creature, Carnage. It is now up to Venom to stop Carnage from unleashing destruction to society.

Venom (2018) - IMDb

I hated the first “Venom.” I have avoided this film since the theater. While it was not my worst film experience of the year, I was weary of what this film stood for as far as the comic book movie genre goes. The violence felt generic, the acting came off as lackluster, even from Tom Hardy, and I felt that it was a step down for the comic book movie genre, especially in a year where they have proven to be a force with critics and the box office. The success of “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War” were not enough, we needed some schlock in the mix I guess.

The first “Venom” made over $800 million at the worldwide box office. So naturally, when a sequel was announced, I was not surprised. After all, everyone likes money. I had little to no interest in a sequel based on the impression that the first film left me. I felt like that film made me dumber. It was one of those films that by the time we got to 2020, I didn’t really care as much if it got pushed back due to COVID-19. Granted, part of me is now in the mindset that if any movie does well, even if I don’t like it, I will root for its success as it is good for the industry. And that success has been solidified so far with “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” as the new movie made over $90 million the weekend it opened in the United States.

But is all that success just money talking or will I give this film a personal green checkmark? To be frank, I had a lot of fun with “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.” There is a saying in film that sequels are often inferior to the originals. Unless you’re talking about “Terminator 2,” “The Dark Knight,” “Spider-Man 2,” “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation,” “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” “Fast Five,” “Furious 7,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Captain America: Civil War,” “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “Toy Story 2,” “Toy Story 3,” and “Shrek 2.” The reason why this film excels is because of the same reason that “Godzilla vs. Kong” succeeded for me. It was big, loud, and delightfully dumb. Granted, you could say that about the first “Venom,” but that film personally had inferior acting, borderline corporate, uninspired writing, and violence that could have pushed the bar, but felt kind of tame. Much like its predecessor, “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is PG-13, meaning you can have violence, but not so much blood. But unlike the 2018 piece of crap, I would say “Let There Be Carnage” does a better job at, well, bringing on the f*cking carnage.

And speaking of Carnage, let’s talk about him. This film’s villain is obviously Carnage, an insane serial killer who becomes a red symbiotic monster. First off, big improvement over the last movie, as much as I like Riz Ahmed, who KILLED IT in “Sound of Metal” last year, his performance as Carlton Drake was not the highlight of the original “Venom.” Another improvement I’ll bring up, and this is one I think some would argue gets into nitpick territory, but still, I think the choice of using Carnage in this film gives this sequel an uptick over the previous film’s rivalry because there were times where I was watching Eddie and Carlton duke it out, but I cannot tell who is who because everything is dark and all the fighting is two guys in black symbiotic suits trying to wreck each other. The film is ultimately lit better, the color palette is more attractive, and the action is more fun to watch.

Cletus Kassidy is also a fine villain on his own. I think casting Woody Harrelson was a smart move because he did a good job at bringing a sense of insanity mixed in with a flair of viciousness to the table. Harrelson’s performance in this film reminded me of, as much as I did not like the film, Jared Leto’s performance as Albert Sparma in “The Little Things” because in that film he was subtle and quiet, but every time he spoke, it felt commanding and bigger than what I could actually see. The beauty in Harrelson’s performance was not only what he says, but how he says it. In addition, his physicality is individualistic and much like Tom Hardy as Eddie, I cannot see anyone else at this point playing Cletus Kassidy. As for his love interest, Frances Barrison, I liked seeing her in this movie too, because not only was she a fun character to watch who was decently cast with Naomie Harris in her shoes, but I like how her powers reveal the weaknesses of other core characters, including Cletus himself.

This movie, like the original, has a PG-13 rating. I critiqued the first “Venom” for having action that felt clean for its subject matter and not doing anything special with what was on screen. I wanted to see death and destruction, and there are times where the film looks like it is going to reach that point, but it can’t quite get there. “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” still has a slightly tame feel to it at times, but compared its predecessor, the violence in this film feels pretty close to an R even without all the blood. There’s a scene you may have noticed in the trailer where Carnage takes his tongue and swallows it down another person’s throat, a lot of the combat towards the end of the film is pretty intense, and I will say that as far as the PG-13 rating goes when it comes to language, they kind of nailed it. Because there is a rule in films that are PG-13 where you can only go so far with the f-bomb, and without spoilers, the point where they drop the f-bomb in this movie may have made for a possible spot in the top 10 best PG-13 f-bombs of all time. Might even be #1, it’s that effective and satisfying.

The best part of “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is the mix of the runtime and the pacing. There are a lot of movies that have come out over the years that are over 2 hours, maybe 2 and a half hours that maybe I, or someone else, will walk out of saying, that was okay, or that was terrible, one thing they should have done is trimmed at least ten minutes off the runtime. I even did that recently with “Dear Evan Hansen.” So for this to be my next movie in the cinema was a nice change of pace. This movie is all murder, no filler. All carnage, no– Actually, I cannot come up with a good rhyme. If anyone can comment with a rhyme that would be great! This movie ends up with a runtime of 97 minutes, and I don’t think I want more or less. 97 minutes was the perfect runtime for this movie as it allowed the story to establish its points from the beginning, quickly drop the audience into the middle of the action, and offer a simple structure that would appeal to the target demographic. Quite a bit happens in that runtime, it’s almost like the movie was on cocaine.

I was a bit weary on Venom and Eddie’s relationship from the first movie, but it had potential, and I think “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” unleashes all the possible potential there is to be had. I went to see this movie with a friend and I think she described the chemistry between Venom and Eddie the way it should immediately be viewed. She saw the chemistry between the dynamic duo equal to that of an old, married couple. There are several scenes in “Let There Be Carnage” that cement that point. At one point they’re besties, at some other point they argue, one tries to make the other feel better about something. Despite their differences, Eddie and Venom at the end of the day are best pals even if this relationship was not something either of them wanted. In fact, after I watched the movie, I read an article where Andy Serkis and others were debating on calling the movie “Venom: Love Will Tear Us Apart.” As much as I like the current title, that is a fine alternative given what goes on in the movie. And also, I think Tom Hardy himself has done a great job evolving into the character. Even though I thought his previous performance as Eddie Brock was underwhelming, I would have to say that these past two movies have shown that Hardy is embracing his character as much as he can. As far as this film goes, I like Hardy’s performance as both Eddie and Venom. His voice for Venom is ridiculously heightened to the point where I cannot imagine many other people taking this role in the future. If someone else does take the role, I think some major reinvention will have to come into play.

Also, it’s great to see Peggy Lu back as Mrs. Chen, the owner of the convenience store who is in the know of Eddie’s secret identity. I liked seeing her in this film because like Eddie, who has grown to know Venom, Chen has an understanding of Venom that makes the two of them have a connection. Even though at one point, Venom wants to eat her. Pretty normal friendly relationship if you ask me, nothing out of the ordinary.

If I had any other complaints about “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” the obvious one, even though this is not TECHNICALLY a complaint, would be that this movie is not to be taken seriously. The only real Academy Award I could see this film being nominated for is Best Visual Effects. The script does not reinvent the wheel and spends a lot of time trying to be silly. This is not always a bad thing because the film knows its audience and is only doubling down on the success of the first movie. If anything, the more I think about it, this movie has a heir of the tone of “Batman & Robin,” but it uses that tone to show off something ten times as competent.

My one last complaint about the film is also something that I could place into a box that I would write “GUILTY PLEASURE” on in black Sharpie. You know how Sony is… Well, Sony? PRODUCT PLACEMENT! PRODUCT PLACEMENT! GET YOUR PRODUCT PLACEMENT! There is this crucial scene in the film where we see Eddie and Venom bickering with each other, and in this scene, we see that Eddie’s apartment is being ruined in the process, and of course, one thing that gets ruined is the television. In this moment, we see the television face its doom, but in one or two scenes later, we are back at the apartment, and viola! A brand new TV! I’m not suggesting Eddie didn’t have the time to buy a new television. Although I hope he’s wealthy enough to live in the San Francisco area. What I am saying is, right next to the televison is a giant Sony box in all its glory! Ah, the ways to promote your products! Money talks! Money walks! I call this a guilty pleasure because it involves a couple scenes that serve their purpose, one of which had me laughing my ass off like a maniac, but they used them for some easy promotion. It’s not “Transformers: Age of Extinction” levels of obvious, but still.

Also, stay for the credits. You won’t regret it.

In the end, “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” brings on the carnage to gargantuan levels! I recommend this sequel over the original. I do plan to watch it again at some point. Tom Hardy has become married to this character in a sense. I hope to see more of him, maybe they’ll do a “Venom 3” someday, I would very much like to see that. This is by no means the best comic book movie of the year, especially not compared to “The Suicide Squad,” but “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” gets a thumbs up from me, and I hope to see more of the character in the future. I’m going give “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” a 7/10.

“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is now playing exclusively in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! If you want to see my review for the original “Venom,” click the link right here! It’ll take you back a couple years after I saw the movie on opening weekend, where the audience I was with seemed to have a much better time than me. Also, my next review is going to be for “Halloween Kills,” which hits theaters this weekend and will also be streaming on Peacock. I just went to the press screening the other night, and I cannot wait to talk about it. Spooky season is here! If you want to see this and more on Scene Before follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Venom: Let There Be Carnage?” What did you think about it? Or, which “Venom” movie do you prefer? The original or the sequel? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Reminiscence (2021): Inception for People Who Like Being Bored

“Reminiscence” is written and directed by Lisa Joy (Westworld, Burn Notice) and stars Hugh Jackman (X-Men, The Greatest Showman), Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible – Fallout, The White Queen), Thandiwe Newton (Mission: Impossible II, Solo: A Star Wars Story), Cliff Curtis (Missing, Fear the Walking Dead), Marina de Tavira (Roma, Ana and Bruno), Daniel Wu (Into the Badlands, Tomb Raider) and this film is set in the future when climate change has severely affected Miami. During this time, Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman) is part of a business responsible for a machine called the tank, which allows people to go back in time and see older memories. One day, a client named Mae comes in looking for her missing keys. Shortly after, Nick and Mae become romantically involved, although Nick’s co-worker, Emily “Watts” Sanders does not trust Mae and wants to do anything she can to keep Nick from seeing her. In addition, Nick spends time revisiting past memories in the tank involving his love interest, which could trap him forever.

Well, that took some time to explain now didn’t it… I’ve been looking forward to “Reminiscence” for a number of reasons. It’s from my favorite studio, Warner Brothers, despite how they’ve stabbed the backs of theater owners this year. It’s got a decent cast with Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Ferguson in starring roles. But I also really like the concept this movie tries to deliver. Sometimes going into this movie, it would remind me and a few other people of a Christopher Nolan flick. In fact on the surface, it really does feel like that. The color grading and sets feel like something out of “Inception” or “Tenet,” and much like those two movies, this film has a concept that mixes action, romance, and transportation to another reality. The trailer for this film was not too bad, although I have seen better. The way they edited it though made it feel like it was somewhere outside our world even though it really was in our not so far future, and the action did look pretty sick.

Another reason why this looks like a Christopher Nolan movie… Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan’s brother, was one of the film’s producers. And this should not be surprising, after all, he is the director’s wife! Hollywood, everybody! It’s about WHO you know! Not always what ya know! Granted, Jonathan Nolan had no writing or directing credits by the end of the product, Lisa Joy wrote and directed this film on her own, but it would not surprise me if some of his touch made it into the final product.

But going back to what I said about “Inception” and “Tenet,” as much as I like both movies. And I do. …Very much. I would say that “Inception” is clearly the better film because at the end of “Tenet,” I’m left amazed, but also wondering how certain things came about in that film because it is one of the most beautifully confusing things I ever watched.

“Reminiscence,” to me, even though the concept was somewhat, well, reminiscent, of “Inception,” kind of felt like it belonged in the same category as “Tenet.” As a high-concept sci-fi film, it is nice to observe, but there were still some loose ends that needed tying.

That’s what I would say if “Reminiscence” weren’t so goddamn forgettable! I would have reviewed this earlier if I had the motivation and time, because I did watch this film days after it came out, but I waited until this point because this is just the way things lined up. And now that I’ve had as much time as I did to think about this film, I think I may have spent more time thinking about the film I watched before this one, “Don’t Breathe 2.”

I really like the concept of “Reminiscence.” To have people go back and revisit their favorite memories, especially in a future where it seems that there are no positive memories left to create, is fascinating. I honestly wish a machine like this existed because it does seem to be safer than time travel and there are fun memories that I would love to revisit for one reason or another. I would love to go back to my first visit to New York City or one of my flocks to Salisbury Beach. Those were fun times and I would love to relive those. In fact, the more I think about what this movie is trying to do, it kind of succeeds at communicating that people do not see rainbows and unicorns in the future and would do anything to revisit their past. I just wish the story involving all of these elements happened to be more attractive. You know, kind of like Rebecca Ferguson in this movie. Props to the costume design on this film, a couple of her looked legit.

“Reminiscence” does not have the best screenplay of the year. At least in terms of visual execution. But there is one line that is repeated throughout the film that I found intriguing.

“No such thing as a happy ending. All endings are sad. Especially if the story was happy.”

Believe it or not, there is some truth to that. This is perhaps a slightly more artistic way of saying “Nothing lasts forever,” or “We all die at some point,” or “There will come a day where you will hate something that ‘Star Wars’ puts out.” I think this is a great quote, even if the script leaves a bit to be desired.

Technically speaking, this is not a bad looking film. Some of the shots are majestic, and kind of have a feel that harkened back to not just the couple of Nolan films I mentioned, but I’d even bring up “Blade Runner” and “The Shape of Water” as goto comparisons.

If anything, “Reminiscence” was an idea that had wasted potential. Aside from the concept, which I mentioned earlier, the film comes in with a stacked cast from Hugh Jackman to Thandiwe Newton. These are all-stars, and they’re working on one of the most uninteresting sci-fi flicks of the past few years.. The one thing that I wonder is that even though Lisa Joy has been in the visual entertainment industry for some time, is if she was truly ready to take on a movie like this. Because most of her work has been through television. I’m not saying that Lisa Joy should be forbidden from directing, writing, or working on a film if she so desired, but I wondered how out of her comfort zone something like this could have been for her. What else has she directed? One episode of “Westworld?” Okay… I mean, I’ll say in her defense, HBO programming usually has a higher price tag, standard, and more cinematic feel compared to most television shows. I’ll give her that. But I think if you were to direct a film like this, which is not the most expensive thing in the world, but it is by no means cheap, I think you would want someone with more experience in the director’s chair to pull this off. I am glad that women are getting more opportunities to direct, but I wonder if Lisa Joy should have just stuck to the screenplay and let someone else bring her vision to life. Because despite my complaints about the screenplay, the original script for this film was on the 2013 Black List of most-liked unmade screenplays. This film had a lot going for it. I’m glad Lisa Joy could get her movie out there, but my god I wish it were better.

In the end, “Reminiscence” by no means the worst movie of the year. In fact, I think at this point I’d rather watch this again as opposed to some other recent Warner Brothers titles like “Space Jam: A New Legacy” and “Tom & Jerry.” Then again, this may come with a bias towards sci-fi. I had very little connection to the other two projects going into them with the exception of liking one of the trailers for the former. As for “Reminiscence,” it had plenty going for it from the marketing (even though they did not spend much money on it), the people in it, and the concept. But in the end, it all feels like a waste. I’m going to give “Reminiscence” a 4/10.

“Reminiscence” is now playing in theaters and it is also on the ad-free tier of HBO Max for a limited time.

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that my next review is going to be for “Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings.” I wanted to get this out a bit earlier, but life has been busy, so I’ve been holding this review off for some time. I do want to let everyone know that I already did see the movie, AND I am seeing it again tonight, which unfortunately may spoil part of my thoughts regarding the film itself, but either way, look forward to my review when it drops! Also, be sure to check out my review for “Malignant,” whenever that drops as well! If you want to see this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Reminiscence?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a film that you think has a great concept with terrible execution? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Free Guy (2021): Grand Theft Awesome

“Free Guy” is directed by Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum, Real Steel) and stars Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, The Proposal), Jodie Comer (Killing Eve, The White Princess), Lil Rel Howrey (Uncle Drew, The Carmichael Show), Utkarsh Ambudkar (The Mindy Project, The Muppets), Joe Keery (Stranger Things, Chicago Fire), and Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, Jojo Rabbit). This film is primarily set in Free City, a massive sandbox video game where players can control characters through a massive city and go on missions. Guy, an NPC (non-playable character), discovers the secrets of the game and breaks the rules of his own character. While he is typically a bank teller who often finds himself in the middle of a robbery, he gets bored of doing the same thing over and over again and decides to level up his life while also trying to win the girl of his dreams.

I love Ryan Reynolds. The word “movie star” does not have as big of an impact as it may have years ago with faces including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Will Smith dominating the big screen with their blockbuster titles. There are a few big “movie stars” that have risen to astronomical heights over the years including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and others who have maintained their fame for years including Tom Cruise. When it comes to the conversation of which actor is currently the biggest star in the world, Ryan Reynolds has to be in the conversation every single time. He is one of Canada’s finest exports and adds a flair to every movie he’s in. This even includes ones I don’t like such as “The Croods” or “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.”

The concept of “Free Guy” by itself, where a video game NPC increasingly gains a sense of consciousness and humanity, is already one that could be considered a recipe for greatness. But if you put Ryan Reynolds into the picture, you’ve taken a great movie and bumped up its power by five times. This is a film that had a bumpy road in terms of its marketing. In fact I think the best trailer we got of the film was in 2019 when it made fun of Disney for putting out its animated titles in live-action form. I thought it was genius because it sounded like humor that would associate with Ryan Reynolds, especially considering how he has dominated the meta humor concept with a film like “Deadpool” and its sequel. The trailers after weren’t bad, but they did not live up to the original for me. Although there was a great piece of marketing that had Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool sitting next to Korg (Taika Waititi) doing what could only be a parody of a YouTube trailer reaction video. I was excited for this film despite the mixed road to get to the official release. And I say that even without acknowledging the ongoing pandemic, not that it should be forgotten.

What did I think of “Free Guy?”

Simply put, I had a lot of fun with “Free Guy.” When it comes to movies set in a video game universe, I think “Ready Player One,” which “Free Guy” reminded me of at times and is coincidentally also written by Zak Penn, is a slightly better film. But “Free Guy” takes a cool concept and gives it a smooth execution in the end. And I should not be surprised that this film is as good as it is. Because director Shawn Levy, whose recent projects include Paramount’s “Arrival” and Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” is a master at creating a film for everyone. One of my favorite films from my childhood is “Night at the Museum.” It is a film that does not exactly feel like it is being targeted at kids, but when it comes to both titles, many children could watch the film, understand much of what is going on, and appreciate everything in front of them. At the same time, adults could watch this film and have a great time with it. The first two films in that particular franchise have been a cornerstone of movie nights in my family. To see Levy do a movie like this does not surprise me, and if anything else, it pleases me.

For starters, it is an original idea, which in terms of blockbusters, feel very few and far between. In fact, this is technically the first Disney original live action film in years (technically because 20th Century Fox made it). I just love seeing creative, never before seen ideas come to life and “Free Guy” is a fine example of that.

Also, if the last couple decades have proven anything, people love video games, including me. Much of my childhood has been spent pushing the buttons on my Nintendo devices, so the idea of this film has a special place in my heart. I find it fascinating that this movie chooses to focus on someone who could be anyone and have them evolve. We look nowadays at video game NPCs as tools to let the player do their thing. But to have what is technically a tool sprout into something more is flat out fascinating. Yeah, it kind of feels like that cliche idea that “anyone’s special,” which as Dash from “The Incredibles,” would suggest, “which is another way of saying no one is.” It’s a cliche idea, but it is brought to life through something incredibly creative in addition to Ryan Reynolds’s terrific encapsulation of Guy.

One thing I’ve always noticed while I play a video game is that when you go by NPCs, they’ll often spew the same things out of their mouth over and over. A big part of that is because they’re portrayed by a certain actor, and actors will record a limited number of lines for a certain character, therefore they can only do so much. Therefore, NPCs are usually one-dimensional, do not have much personality, and are often in the background. In the case of Guy, I think Ryan Reynolds did a good job at making the character not feel flat or putting him in a sphere that makes his personality limited. In fact, Reynolds brings a sense of hyperactivity to his character despite him having a life that most would consider boring. Guy is a banker who drinks the same cup of coffee every day and says good morning to his goldfish by his bedside. This is an everyday routine for him, but he seems to accept it because he’s programmed that way.

Now I like Taika Waititi, but I think “Free Guy” has only increased the chances of me wanting to get together with the dude for lunch. You know how a lot of films directed towards young audiences will have an over the top villain? Taika Waititi’s character of Antwan almost seems to find himself within the confines of that description. Not that this movie is specifically for children, but nevertheless. In a lot of cases, this could be a turnoff because then the film could become a live-action cartoon, but not in “Free Guy!” If anything, Waititi’s performance is an utter enhancement in this film. The mixture of his lines and hyped up antics arguably makes him the best character of the movie. It kind of reminds me of another film Shawn Levy directed, “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian,” because that film’s villain was Kahmunrah, and he was perhaps written and presented in such a way that could arguably make him cartoony, but it was presented in such a way where Levy and actor Hank Azaria seemed to embrace the silly that the script listed. As far as “Free Guy” is concerned, Taika Waititi plays a guy who might as well be jacked up on Red Bull all the time and does not seem to care much about others. As far as I’m concerned, I love the execution of this character, and I almost wonder if part of why it worked so well was because of the casting. I cannot imagine anyone other than Waititi playing Antwan at this point.

Without spoilers, the climax of “Free Guy” is a thing of beauty. The film just goes straight into becoming “Garry’s Mod” of all things. There’s some stuff in this climax that I had almost zero warning about going into it, and I think if you want to have the same reaction, do everything you can to avoid any online discussion about the end of the film. It is in a word, “epic.”

If I had any problems with “Free Guy” it would be that the film does get into some impractical nonsense by the end that comes off more or less as a plot convenience more than anything else. It is not a humungous turnoff as the rest of the film is nicely structured but there’s one moment towards the end that feels jumbled in terms of execution, and it’s a pretty important one. Maybe in the script, it sounds more coherent, but in the final product, it sounds kind of… pun intended, pixelated. It’s kind of sad considering the impact the moment was trying to deliver, but for some reason, they could not stick the landing.

This one moment does not take much away from the literal joy I achieved from watching “Free Guy.” “Free Guy” is a crazy, fun adventure. I love the setting, I love the idea, I love how it seems to have fun with our modern video game culture and how much of a cash cow it has become in addition to being heavy entertainment. I left this movie wanting more. I want to see more of Guy, Molotov Girl, Buddy, all the characters in this film were utter delights. I legit think that this is a movie that anyone could watch and enjoy. I sometimes go to see movies with my mom, and most of the movies I see with her are ones that usually are not action heavy or horror heavy. Despite the action heaviness of “Free Guy,” I legit think that this is a movie that my mother could put on and have a ball with despite some things being there that she may not usually tend to see on screen. If you like action, you’ll definitely like this movie, but the crew behind “Free Guy,” whether they intended to or not, did a really good job at creating something that a lot of people could find themselves attached to, even if it wasn’t specifically made for them. In that sort of way, I highly recommend “Free Guy” to anyone reading this and their friends.

In the end, “Free Guy” may solidify Ryan Reynolds as one of the finest Canadians to ever live and the film itself is easily one of my favorites of the year. Disney did not release this film on streaming. Granted, I do not know if they could have contractually, 20th Century Fox movies still go straight to HBO months after release. But from everything I’ve read, Disney practically had all the faith in the world given towards this movie. Based on what has been created, “Free Guy” has massive franchise potential. Heck, I could see this thing becoming a Disney ride at some point. The film is immersive, fun, bonkers, and just a straight up good time. “Free Guy” by the way is set in two different places. The real world and the game of “Free City.” to my surprise, the stuff that happens in the real world has the same level of intrigue as everything that happens in the world of “Free City.” To have the escape be as interesting as the world from which people are trying to escape is definitely pleasing. I’m going to give “Free Guy” an 8/10.

Also, if you need another reason to see this movie, you’ll get to see Alex Trebek one last time. Seeing him on screen brought a smile to my face and I am sure it will for many other viewers as well.

“Free Guy” is now playing exclusively in theaters and IMAX. Get your tickets now!

Thanks for reading this review! I just want to remind everyone that on Monday, August 23rd, I will be sharing my thoughts on “Revenge of the Nerds III: The Next Generation.” The film is not as often talked about as the original, partially because it was made for television. But I am here to talk about it as we dive deeper into my ongoing review series, “Revenge of the Nerds: Nerds in Review” as we celebrate Scene Before’s fifth anniversary. And speaking of reviews, be sure to stay tuned for my review of “Don’t Breathe 2.” I just saw the film last night and I intend to talk about it soon. If you want to read all this and more on Scene Before, be sure to follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Free Guy?” What did you think about it? Or, if you could put yourself in the universe of any video game, which one would it be? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!