Archive for the ‘Lana Wachowski’ Category

Choice is an Illusion

The Matrix: Resurrections

Director: Lana Wachowski

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Neil Patrick Harris, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jonathan Groff, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Christina Ricci, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Jessica Henwick, Chad Stahelski, Lambert Wilson

Film Rating 7 out of 10

Running time: 2 hours and 28 minutes

Firstly what audiences have to realize is that director Lana Wachowski transgendered from being a man to a woman and in the original Matrix film made in 1999, her directorial credit was as Larry Wachowski. Secondly the original film won four Oscars back in the year 2000 mainly for visual effects and sound editing.

So after nearly twenty years, Neo and Trinity are back in or out of The Matrix depending on which pill you took. For Choice is an Illusion.

Superstar Keanu Reeves has had a hugely successful career ever since he first caught my eye on screen playing the young lover to La Marquise de Merteuil expertly played by Glenn Close in director Stephen Frears Oscar winning costume drama Dangerous Liaisons back in 1989.

The release of the original The Matrix film back in 1999 was utterly ground breaking, but this new reboot with The Matrix: Resurrections is equally flamboyant, visually challenging and downright entertaining.

Smith played in the original trilogy by Priscilla, Queen of the Desert star Hugo Weaving is now played by Jonathan Groff who looks like a Tom Ford model, handsome, sleek and drop dead gorgeous.

In an alternative reality we find Thomas Anderson working as a computer programmer in San Francisco where he accidentally meets Tiffany aka Trinity in a Silicon Valley coffee shop.

Through a thoroughly reflexive narrative, Thomas Anderson aka Neo gets sucked into the Matrix by Bugs with the Blue hair played by Jessica Henwick. Down the rabbit hole he goes and he reconnects with an updated version of Morpheus brilliantly played quite flamboyantly by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Aquaman, The Trial of the Chicago 7).

Neo soon discovers that Trinity is back in the Matrix and that his shrink The Analyst is actually a villain wonderfully played by Neil Patrick Harris (Gone Girl, A Million Ways to Die in the West).

Through impressive visualizations and awe inspiring production design, Neo is guided by Sati played by Priyanka Chopra Jonas (The White Tiger) while meeting some digital exiles including The Merovingian played by Lambert Wilson (The Belly of an Architect, Catwoman, 5-7).

The Matrix Resurrections can only be enjoyed if audiences have brushed up on the original films particularly The Matrix made in 1999. From a semiotic point of view, The Matrix Resurrections is rich in film symbolism and digital versions of alternative realities from a sleek San Francisco skyline to a pandemic era ride on a bullet train in Tokyo. Director Lana Wachowski makes full use of her semiotic skills which is her uncanny ability to manipulate images to tell a story using film language.

Extremely entertaining, The Matrix Resurrections gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is definitely made for the fans of the original trilogy but most significantly Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are back as the digitally fated coupled and they are both kicking ass.

The highly anticipated The Matrix Resurrections is highly recommended viewing strictly for sci-fi fans only. And there will definitely be a sequel…

Queen of the Universe

Jupiter Ascending

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Director: Andy & Lana Wachovski

Cast: Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sean Bean, Tuppence Middleton, Maria Doyle Kennedy, James D’Arcy, Tim Pigott-Smith

Creators of the marvellous Matrix trilogy and the super confusing reincarnation fantasy Cloud Atlas, The Wachowski’s have returned to their Sci-Fi roots in the deeply ambitious yet slightly far-fetched cinematic offering Jupiter Ascending.

Despite the fabulous visuals and assembling a cast of all the latest hot young stars for Jupiter Ascending including Mila Kunis (Black Swan), Channing Tatum (Foxcatcher) and Eddie Redmayne (Les Miserables), the narrative is so crammed with infinite details paying homage to David Lynch’s film Dune as well as Robocop, Star Wars and Signs that it suffers from the weight of its own ambition.

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Jupiter Ascending focuses on a Russian immigrant to America aptly named Jupiter who is first introduced as a charlady cleaning toilets in Chicago and the next minute is being rescued from insidious almost invisible aliens by a hunky skyjacker named Caine Wise, gorgeously played by Channing Tatum who spends most of the film with his shirt off. Wise’s DNA has been spliced with that of a Wolf so he is a Lycantant.

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Jupiter played by the pouty but gorgeous Mila Kunis who soon learns that her DNA is a re-occurrence of a powerful Queen who once headed up a rather enigmatic and powerful space dynasty, known as the Abrasax who destroy planets and suck the lifeblood out of their inhabitants. Charming stuff, not to mention, it is revealed as the story unfolds that humans are only reaching the eve of the genetic revolution.

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The Queen of the Universe who died recently has three rather malevolent offspring the rather camp and wicked Balem, a fabulous turn by Redmayne, his sister Kalique played by Tuppence Middleton who is searching for immortality and the younger brother Titus wonderfully played by Douglas Booth who in a weird Oedipal way wants to marry the reincarnation of his mother, Jupiter Jones so that he can claim his share of the intergalactic inheritance. The wedding sequence between Titus and Jupiter is a production designer’s wet dream, gorgeous, lavish and filled with spectacle.

Naturally chemistry develops between the exotic Lycsantant, Wise and Jupiter Jones who is thrust from her mundane existence of servitude and elevated to the status of a celestial queen who has to wrangle with three devious offspring that are all out to distinguish her existence in various ways. This is like a Space Opera on acid, the visuals are fabulous, the storyline completely illogical, yet Jupiter Ascending is still riveting to watch but is not in the same league of such brilliant Sci-Fi films as Snowpiercer, Star Wars and the Ridley Scott’s classic Blade Runner.

Jupiter Ascending despite the fantastic special effects suffers the fatal premise that if you are going to introduce viewers to such a gorgeous and extra-terrestrial universe, then the heroine should not be cleaning toilets in downtown Chicago. At least in Star Wars, Princess Leia never had to deal with such lowly tasks and her plight remained infinitely more profound under the threat of Darth Vader’s Deathstar.

As a friend who saw the film with me commented so aptly, Jupiter Ascending should have been broken down into three films with more back story written into the narrative so that at least the plight of this Queen of the Universe could take on a more historic turn especially in her dealings with each of the nefarious Abrasax clan.

That said, Jupiter Ascending is fabulous to watch, but could have been edited better and more coherently written so that at least Jupiter’s circular odyssey to space and back would be plausible especially as the film started off so promisingly in Russia with her father gazing at the planet Jupiter from the banks of the Neva river in St Petersburg.

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Watch out for Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle) with big ears as Famulus and an underutilized Sean Bean as Stinger Apini last seen in the Game of Thrones series in brief cameos and Maria Doyle Kennedy (The Tudors) as Jupiter’s mother Aleksa. Jupiter Ascending is recommended viewing only for serious sci-fi fans and those that truly want to escape earth in a steam-punk drug fueled fashion…

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