Posts Tagged ‘Jada Pinkett Smith’

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…

The Salient Usurper

Angel Has Fallen

Director: Ric Roman Waugh

Cast: Gerard Butler, Danny Huston, Nick Nolte, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Morgan Freeman, Frederick Schmidt, Piper Perabo, Tim Blake Nelson, Martin Behrman, Lance Reddick

Shot Caller director Ric Roman Waugh directs the follow up to 2013’s Olympus has Fallen and 2016’s London has Fallen with muscular Scottish actor Gerard Butler (Den of Thieves, 300) reprising his role of Secret Service Agent Mike Banning in Angel has Fallen also starring Oscar winner Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby) as President Trumbull and Danny Huston as the ruthless Independent Defence Contractor Wade Jennings.

When Banning is framed for the attempted assassination of President Trumbull in a dramatic drone attack, chaos reigns as Banning fights to clear his name and discover the real perpetrators behind the merciless attack which annihilated all of President Trumbull’s other secret service agents.

In a similar gritty style to Olympus has Fallen and London has Fallen, Angel has Fallen is extremely violent action packed and absolutely thrilling to watch made more enjoyable by the appearance of veteran actor and Oscar nominee Nick Nolte (Warrior, Affliction, Prince of Tides) as reclusive Ex-Vietnam veteran and father to Mike Banning, Clay Banning, who proves just as able as his macho son to ward off any unseen attackers in his West Virginian hideout.

As the action moves from rural West Virginia to the corridors of power in Washington D. C. and to an explosive hospital scene in Maryland, Angel has Fallen is a suitably thrilling conclusion to this violent but enjoyable trilogy. For viewers that saw Olympus has Fallen and London has Fallen, Angel has Fallen follows the same generic pattern of a high body count, tense action sequences and betrayals that shock the audience as Banning realizes that there are few allies in the secret service and that his trusted friend Jennings is his most worthy adversary.

Female stars to lighten the macho cast include Piper Perabo (Looper) as Banning’s wife Leah and Jada Pinkett –Smith (Collateral, Magic Mike XXL, Matrix Reloaded) as the decisive Agent Thompson. Other stars include Tim Blake Nelson as the slimy Vice President Kirby and Frederick Schmidt (Mission Impossible: Fallout) as Travis Cole, Wade Jennings’s second in command.

Angel has Fallen gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is recommended viewing for hard core action fans and this film’s rather predictable storyline is saved by a brilliant performance by Nick Nolte who lifts the entire story out of obscurity and makes this action packed thriller worth watching.

Be sure to stay after the opening credits for a very humorous scene….

Smile and Wave

Madagascar

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Directed by Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath

Starring: Chris Rock, Ben Stiller, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett-Smith & Sasha Baron Cohen

In the tradition of Shrek and Shark Tale, Madagascar is a fun filled animated romp about city pampered zoo animals who land up being shipped to the wild. The penguins that are the cause of practically every commotion in the film hatch a plan to leave the New York Central Park zoo in search of Antarctica. Marty, the zebra, with a superb voiceover by Chris Rock, sees the penguins escape route and soon entertains his own ideas of exploring the world outside, namely, the bright lights of Manhattan.

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Despite protests from his friends: Alex the furry but confused lion (Ben Stiller), Gloria, the no-nonsense Hippo (Jada Pinkett-Smith) and Melmon the Hypochondriac giraffe (David Schwimmer), Marty escapes and is soon pounding the New York pavements.

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As the film caption states, soon there’s a zoo loose, as Marty’s friends leave the zoo to go looking for him. The game is up when all the escaped animals, including the mischievous penguins are caught in a hilarious scene at Grand Central Station. Thinking that they will be restored to their places at the zoo, there is shock when the animals awake in separate containers, sailing on a ship bound for Africa.

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The meddling psychotic penguins, in a military style operation, soon take charge of the ship, causing major disruptions as they change direction for Antarctica. The penguins’ no excuses, but results takeover attempt soon lands the furry foursome overboard. They are washed ashore on the Island paradise of Madagascar.

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Like most of us, city slickers, the thought of being left in a wild, untamed environment, with no modern luxuries is truly terrifying. So these animals are out of their depth, when they have to start fending for themselves. Their salvation comes, when they meet the Lemurs, the party loving, tree-hugging rodents headed by the outrageously camp King Lemur, voiced by Sasha Baron Cohen, alias Ali G. What ensues is an hilarious story of how Marty and his friends adapt to their exotic environment, while befriending the Lemurs, and dealing with Alex’s emerging inner self as a carnivorous lion, who soon sees Lemurs and company turning into juicy steaks.

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The film’s great moments came from the penguins, whose covert actions propel the story line forward at every turn, from the great zoo escape to hijacking the ship to Antarctica. I think we should take a leaf out of their book – for when all else fails, the penguin philosophy is simply to smile and wave boys, smile and wave!

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Madagascar is a highly recommended as a thoroughly entertaining animated film, whose humour and sophisticated story line will appeal to the young, the old and the emerging millennials.

 

Swamp Country Debauchery

Magic Mike XXL

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Director: Gregory Jacobs

Cast: Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Amber Heard, Adam Rodriguez, Andie MacDowell, Jada Pinkett Smith, Donald Glover, Elizabeth Banks

The much anticipated sequel to the sleeper hit Magic Mike about male entertainers in Tampa, Florida does not disappoint.

Magic Mike XXL assembles the same cast as the original minus Matthew McConnaughey and Alex Pettyfer but cleverly casts some new stars including Andie MacDowell (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Sex, Lies and Videotape) as the original Southern Belle, Nancy and more significantly a vibrant Jada Pinkett Smith (Collateral) as Rome, the notorious and zany new MC.

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Audiences should not expect much storyline in XXL but who cares the dancing is phenomenal and Channing Tatum really takes the main role of Magic Mike to extremes with superb dance moves and a wit to match. Tatum has really grown as an actor after being cast opposite Mark Ruffalo in the underrated yet bizarre male wrestling saga Foxcatcher and with the help of director Steven Soderbergh has matured as an onscreen performer after roles in Haywire, Magic Mike and Side Effects.

The crazy male entertainer troupe make their way from Tampa in Southern Florida all the way up through Savannah, Georgia to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in a journey described by one drag performer resembling Divine as Swamp Country Debauchery.

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In Magic Mike, the emphasis was more on the drug lifestyle associated with male stripping, but in Magic Mike XXL, Oceans Twelve and Oceans Thirteen director Gregory Jacobs cleverly lightens the tone and shifts focus to the actual art and performance of Male entertainment as the team including a gorgeous Matt Bomer (The Normal Heart) and Joe Manganiello compete at the illustrious Stripper Convention in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

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The end sequence is brilliant with some superb dance moves along with sufficient eye candy to keep all the females happy, both on and off screen.

Magic Mike XXL is more in the tradition of Step Up, with strippers and should not be viewed to seriously but enjoyed like a fine sojourn below the Mason-Dixon line. Recommended viewing for those that enjoy a brash, sexy and diverse film with lots of magical moments.

Watch out for an unrecognizable Amber Heard (The Rum Diary) as Zoe who befriends Magic Mike at a beach party in Jacksonville, Florida.

 

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