Richard joins CTV NewsChannel and anchor Lois Lee to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the virtual reality of “The Martrix Resurrection,” the coming of age dramedy “Licorice Pizza” and Denzel Washington in “The Tragedy of Macbeth” and the jukebox musical “Sing 2.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with guest host Matt Harris to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the virtual reality of “The Martrix Resurrection,” the coming of age dramedy “Licorice Pizza” and Denzel Washington in “The Tragedy of Macbeth” and the jukebox musical “Sing 2.”
Can Richard Crouse review three movies in just thirty seconds? Have a look as he races against the clock to tell you about the Neo’s return to virtual reality in “The Matrix: Resurrections,” the coming of age dramedy “Licorice Pizza” and Denzel Washington in “The Tragedy of Macbeth” in less time than it takes to buy a pack of Twizzlers.
These days movies are regularly remade, rebooted, reimagined and regurgitated. But none of those terms capture how Warner Bros has brought back one of their most famous and ground breaking franchises.
The new Keanu Reeves movie isn’t simply a return to the Matrix, the simulated reality created by intelligent machines to pacify humans and steal their energy, it’s a resurrection. After eighteen years, Neo has been raised from the dead by Lana Wachowski in “The Matrix: Resurrections,” now playing in theatres.
The last time we saw Neo (Reeves) he made the ultimate sacrifice, giving himself to create peace between machines and mankind. His death would allow people to finally be free of the virtual world of the Matrix.
In “Resurrections” it’s twenty years later. Neo now goes by his real name, Thomas A. Anderson. He is the “greatest videogame designer of his generation,” with an ordinary life, save for the visions that plague him. “I’ve had dreams,” he says, “that weren’t just dreams.” His analyst (Neil Patrick Harris) has him on a steady diet of heavy therapy and blue pills, meant to quell the strange delusions.
Anderson’s regular life is turned upside down when his business partner Smith (Jonathan Groff) announces that their company will be making a sequel to their most popular game, “The Matrix.” As his team works on the new game—“It’s a mindbomb!”—his memories become more intense and soon he has trouble distinguishing fact from fiction.
Or is it all real?
When people from his past, like computer programmer and hacker Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), an alternate reality version of the heroic Matrix hovercraft captain who first believed Neo was “The One,” appear, Thomas fears he is losing his mind.
Things become clearer—Or do they?—when the new Morpheus offers Thomas/Neo a choice of pills. The blue ones will keep Thomas’ state of mind status quo. The red ones, however, will take him down the rabbit hole, into the heart of the Matrix. “Nothing comforts anxiety like a little nostalgia,” says Morpheus.
Pill popped, the simulated world opens up to reveal a dangerous place in need of a hero. Teaming with a group of rebels, Neo battles a new enemy and secrets are revealed. “The Matrix is the same or worse,” says Neo, “and I’m back where I started. It feels like none of it mattered.”
“The Matrix: Resurrections” may be the most self-aware movie of the year. No instalment of “The Matrix” will ever match the whiz bang excitement of the first film, and “Resurrections” knows it. It comments on itself and consistently winks at its legacy.
“This cannot be a retread, reboot or regurgitation,” says one of the “Matrix” videogame designers.
“Why not?” says another. “Reboots sell.”
Like the movie’s story, the film itself attempts to blur the line between the reality of the story and the very act of watching the movie. It is simultaneously self-depreciating and cynical. It’s OK to have a bit of good fun with the story, especially given the oh-so-serious tone of the previous “Matrix” movies, but by the time Thomas meets Trinity at the Simulatte Café, the jokes have worn thin.
The meat of the story, a search for truth, is the engine that keeps the movie motoring along, but the endless exposition, a torrent of words, seems to be the fuel that keeps things running. When a character says, “That’s the thing about stories, they never end,” it’s hard to disagree as the movie gets mired in mythology and world building.
It becomes a slog, without enough of the trademarked Wachowski action scenes to help pick up the pace. When the movie does dip into bullet time and the action that made the original so memorable, it feels like a pale comparison. There is nothing much new—“I still know Kung Fu,” says Neo—just frenetic action and nostalgia for a time when a slow-motion bullet made our eyeballs dance.
“The Matrix: Resurrections” does try to recontextualize the existing mythology. This time around the all-you-need-is-love-story between Neo and Trinity is amped up and there is some timely social commentary about control, whether it’s from the government or a virtual reality machine, but, and there is a big “but,” as much as I wanted to enjoy another trip to the Matrix, I found it too meta, too long and yet, not ambitious enough.
It’s said the people of Pompeii regarded the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. with “a response more of curiosity than of alarm.” The volcano had burped and belched as many as 50 times over the years, so most of the city’s 20,000 citizens didn’t pay attention when Vesuvius started to gurgle.
Perhaps they were too busy visiting one of the city’s many brothels — like a proto-Las Vegas, this was the richest city of ancient times, ripe with amenities and vice — or enjoying their lunches of broad beans, olives, dormice (plumped up by chefs in terracotta jars) or even garum, made from the first blood of a still-gasping mackerel, to detect the cloud of deadly volcanic ash headed their way.
By the end of the day the dust “poured across the land,” claiming 2,000 lives. Buried beneath, “a darkness… like the black of closed and unlighted rooms.” The remains of Pompeii and its people were preserved, left untouched for two millennia.
Today the ancient city of Pompeii is one of the most popular attractions in Italy, drawing almost three million tourists annually. But if you can’t make it to the Italian region of Campania, a new movie aims to recreate the experience for you.
Pompeii stars Kit Harington, Carrie-Anne Moss, Emily Browning and Kiefer Sutherland in a love story about a slave-turned-gladiator (Harington) who must rescue his beloved, Cassia (Browning), before a rolling mountain of lava and ash dooms her to the ages.
The big action adventure take on the story directed by Resident Evil helmer Paul W.S. Anderson has an ancestor in The Last Days of Pompeii, a 1913 silent sword-and-sandal movie based on the Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton novel of the same name. That book has been remade eight times.
The most famous version came in 1959. The big budget CinemaScope production was to have been directed by Mario Bonnard, but when he fell ill on the first day of shooting, screenwriter Sergio Leone (who would go on to make classics like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) stepped in. It’s big on pageantry, just as the advertising taglines would suggest. It’s a “Fiery Summit of Spectacle,” the posters screamed, promising an inside look at, “the City that Lived in Sin and Died in Flame!”
Certainly it’s more puffed-up than Up Pompeii, a 1971 Frankie Howerd comedy that featured a speech by emperor Ludicrus Sextus during Vesuvius’ eruption.
“I say, Lurcio, how did my speech go?” he asks his servant as the city crumbles.