In spirit, we need more female-led action films, but "The 355" is not worthy of the all-star cast of women it has assembled.
Fans are being asked to plug back into The Matrix franchise, nearly 20 years since the last two installments, "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Matrix Revolutions" hit theaters just a few months apart back in 2003. The love story of Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) was at the heart of this ground-breaking film saga that mixed action with high-concept sci-fi and stunning visuals, returning over 1 billion (with a "b") at the box office for the trilogy.
Lana Wachowski returns to the franchise (sans her usual partner, sister Lilly) to give us a fourth chapter, "The Matrix Resurrections," a decidedly uneven but wildly ambitious return to the world of rogue programs, slow-motion bullets, steam-punk aesthetics, unabashed ass-kicking and endless sci-fi mumbo-jumbo. Its high-aiming philosophy works better than its action set pieces, but ultimately this is a mixed-bag reboot whose main themes get buried under a mountain of code.
Somewhere along the line, the "Kingsman" films stopped being fun.
When "Kingsman: The Secret Service" debuted in 2015, it was one of my favorite films of that year. It was a vibrant comic-book movie (of which it is based), but one meant for adults. It was surprising, violent, funny and cool...a spy-action-thriller that wandered close to satire, walking a line between James Bond danger and Austin Powers buffoonery. It kicked-ass. And its director, Matthew Vaughn (who ironically directed "Kick-Ass") was on a roll, having also hit a home run with "X-Men: First Class."
The sequel was inevitable, and when "Kingsman: The Golden Circle" came in 2017, I called it a "soul-crushingly disappointing sequel." It was not good...not good at all. It starred Elton John , which should pretty much cue you in.
Even still, I was cautiously optimistic for "The King's Man," a film promised as a prequel to the original movie. It was long-delayed, first scheduled to hit theaters in November of 2019 before being pushed back due to the pandemic and a bevy of other reasons. Over two years later, it's finally here, but this is one that should have been kept permanently on the shelf.
With great power (i.e. advanced knowledge of what happens) comes great responsibility (like not to reveal even the slightest spoiler).
Here's what I CAN say: "Spider-Man: No Way Home" is finally hitting theaters...it is the third full-length Spider-Man film featuring Tom Holland as Peter Parker...and it picks up where things left off at the very end of "Spider-Man: Far From Home," with the world discovering the real identity of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
***NO SPOILERS ARE CONTAINED IN THIS REVIEW, OTHER THAN WHAT IS SHOWN IN THE ALREADY RELEASED TRAILERS FOR THE FILM***
Who doesn't love Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot or Ryan Reynolds? Throw them all together however, and the individual flavors just don't mix.
"Red Notice" is a serviceable but forgettable action-comedy - directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, who teams with "The Rock" for their third film together. Their previous two films are spiritual cousins to "Red Notice" - "Central Intelligence" and "Skyscraper" - movies that are light and implausible, that seem to want to drift by based on the sheer star-power of the actors involved, instead of offering up anything innovative to the genre.
Yes, the "Red Notice" cocktail of Johnson, Gadot and Reynolds may look delicious from a distance, but an ounce of "originality" is the missing ingredient that might have made it go down a bit smoother.
It was considered an odd choice by many, when director Chloé Zhao named "Eternals" her follow-up to her 2020 Best Picture Oscar winner, "Nomadland." Zhao - up until now - had only dealt in small, character-driven movies, so helming a massive Marvel movie didn't seem like the right fit. After watching "Eternals," you can definitely understand what drew Zhao to the film, but her lofty ambitions to bring truth and humanity to the sheer enormity of a comic book movie such as this ends up being a fool's errand.
"Eternals" is the largest Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film to date in scope and aspiration, and that's why its failure on several fronts feels like such a colossal belly-flop.
It's been 24 years since "Good Will Hunting" made Oscar-winning scribes out of real-life best friends Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Curiously, it took that long for the two to reunite as writers once again, bringing in a third, the Oscar-nominated Nicole Holofcener ("Can You Ever Forgive Me?") to adapt Eric Jager's novel, "The Last Duel."
The dynamic behind the script - two men and one woman - is also at the heart of the brutal story itself, a true tale about a 14th century knight, Jean de Carrouges (Damon) who challenges his squire, Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) to a duel, after Le Gris is accused of raping Carrouges's wife, Marguerite (Jodie Comer).
Directed by Ridley Scott ("Alien," "The Martian," "Gladiator"), this is not a film categorized as "entertaining" in the same way that many of his other films might be. "The Last Duel" is a very tough watch, and may not be for all movie-goers who might enter in based on the star-power, or thinking they're going to get a riotous, sword-clashing adventure. It's rather a depiction of what life was like for women in medieval times, and how some of this treatment echoes through all the way to modern times.
It's powerful, with more than a few hiccups, but "The Last Duel" finds its stride as it gallops on, making it one of the most important films of the year, if falling short of being one of the best ones.
Talk about a sight for sore eyes. "No Time to Die" - the 25th overall James Bond film and the fifth (and final) one starring Daniel Craig as 007, was originally slated for theatrical release nearly two years ago, back in November of 2019. It was delayed into February of 2020 and then into April...and on and on, finally landing in theaters this weekend.
The film was delayed for so long, that some of the in-movie product placements had to be updated...you can't have Bond traipsing along using outdated tech, can you? But now that it's finally here, we're reminded of the charm and the allure of this character, that has persevered for nearly 60 years on the big-screen. He's a timeless hero, tweaked for the times.
"No Time to Die" has an epic feel to it, with some stellar action sequences, gadgets and thrills like we've come to expect from the franchise. It has its shortcomings for sure, but by and large, this is a Bond film that was worth the wait.
An assassin with a heart of gold (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has less than 24 hours to live, so she uses her finite time on the planet to take down as many of her enemies as she can.
That's the elevator pitch for "Kate," and despite some stylish action, this is an all-too-familiar thrill ride devoid of any real thrills...a film that will remind you of other films but that doesn't quite rise above any of them.
Since "Avengers: End Game" in 2019 and the pandemic that would follow, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been mostly a slow-burn...much of the excitement has shifted away from cinemas to at-home Disney+ series like "WandaVision," "Falcon & The Winter Soldier" and "Loki," with the MCU having started to set the stage for its "Phase Four." The only theatrical MCU film since "End Game" has been "Black Widow," a movie that chronologically took place back following the events of "Captain America: Civil War," so it feels like forever since the movies have actually propelled us forward in any major way towards whatever the MCU might have in store upcoming.
With "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," the Marvel origin-story formula is palpable, but while it fails to launch us forward into the teased "multi-verse" that we know is around the corner, it introduces one of the coolest, original characters the MCU has seen in quite a while: Shang-Chi. Unlike the TV shows that have introduced possible "new" versions of The Falcon, Captain America and Loki, Shang-Chi and the artifacts known as the "Ten Rings" feel fresh, and they open up new possibilities for the MCU at large.
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