The Matrix Resurrections: When I was seeing a couple of the trailers for this sequel, 20 years after the original cutting edge first installment, I thought to myself that “I hope that it doesn’t suck”. The puzzling aspect was that in the original trilogy, which progressively got worse from one sequel to the next, ended with our Christ-like Neo figure is dramatically killed and enveloped by the computer city existence. Trinity had died earlier in the crash with Neo in the craft to get him to meet with the supreme being in charge of it all. I give away nothing in this sequel to state that up front. The mystery was for me, “how are they going to deal with bringing these two central characters back to life?” For me, the answer wasn’t very compelling. I won’t explain further for fear of spoiling the plot but it is confusing. I think it makes a lot of sense to have a refresher course in the previous three episodes. There are tidbits as they talked about this system of control for humans to act as a power supply for the machines, in short humans are enslaved to becomes batteries, with their minds occupied with the alternate reality for their minds. In many ways, it is all just a computer with programs and associated firewalls. I attended in the theatre on Wednesday. The theatre was about 55-60% full. The beginning is a replaying of the first Matrix movie, with a call being traced and a woman who looks a lot like Trinity being surrounded by heavily protected and armed SWAT-like police, as opposed to the ordinary police in the original. It is those inconsistencies which troubled me. So the suggestion is that one can watch a replay of the first episode and learn more as we are introduced to Morpheus, another confusing character since Lawrence Fishbourne is nowhere to be seen, but this computer-image look alike fills in for him. A very John Wick looking Neo with a beard and longer hair is questioning his reality as he works in a software company. Further details I will save. But it takes a while for things to get going, and for Neo to finally meet Trinity once again. We learn about their connection, in a way that for me is different than what was explained in the first trilogy. In the original, Neo was The One, the singular presence who would be the saviour for all humankind. He is the second coming of a man who could manipulate the matrix, and was the recruiter for people like Morpheus before he was killed. Morpheus had been searching for The One, as predicted by the Oracle, and we later learn is a glitch in the programming that creates such a creature periodically. If much of this sounds like jumbled spaghetti logic, that’s because it really is! This movie has sections in it where they speak a gobbleygook, techno babble that goes right over my head. I don’t design and make computers. I understand the basics to make it run, much like my car, but I can’t deconstruct one and rebuild it. There were audience members who walked out of this showing. I didn’t. I did find it long, and confusing. There were moments were I checked my watch and wondered “is this going to be resolved in the next minutes left?” It does. But sadly, it shows abilities in characters that we have never seen before, much like Star Wars decided to do. That becomes part of this Neo-Trinity connection. Neil Patrick Harris (aka Doogie Howser) explains much of this as the story unfolds. I do think that there was a new tangent created by the now female director and writer Lana Wachowski, who was part of the Wachowski Brothers team before her sex change. The Matrix is no longer a male dominated world, waiting for a male Messiah. For me it was often much ado about nothing. I will say that you need to know the first three movies pretty well to understand anything that is going on. When the French character shows up, you need to recognize him and understand how he has changed from episode 2. Further, the realities and separation of the two realities, the “real world” versus the created Matrix world (and which programming is being run in what partition) become muddied. So, this was confusing and disappointing. It often made little sense. There is too much shooting of people using automatic high powered guns. Maybe that is a first person shooter game impact on it, but it is difficult to watch. One wonders why the agents, and those that become agents are such terrible shots with such powerful weapons? But nevermind. There is a part of me that thinks the pile of money for Carrie Ann Moss and Keanu Reeves had to be pretty tall to make them do this one. I am not sure whether the film makers will ever recoup this money for actors and production. See this one at your own risk. I likely need to see it again to catch some of the subtleties. I will note that Alison liked it a lot better than I did.
Bad Santa: This 2003 movie was seen as a joke this Christmas Eve. It is not really a Christmas movie. Rather Billy Bob Thornton (Santa) is a jaded safe cracker who has teamed up with a black little person (Tony Cox), who plays an elf, for malls and then steals from them during the holiday shopping season. Thornton is constantly drinking and profane, much to the chagrin of the elf side kick, who really runs the show, and in truth is the best part in the movie. By chance, Santa meets up with a local structurally-challenged kid (aka chubby kid) who gets picked on while he lives with his Grandma (Cloris Leachman) while his Dad is in jail for embezzlement. Santa meets a woman who seems to have a Santa/Daddy sexual fetish who adds to the plot. In short, the two have some funny scenes interacting with children at the mall in a totally inappropriate manner, and then fighting with the store’s security manager who is figured out what they are planning, and wants a cut on the action. It was light entertainment. I laughed a couple of times. It was successful enough to merit a sequel, but that I haven’t watched and wouldn’t need to see these guys again travelling down a similar path. Fun to spend some time during the holidays but I wouldn’t seek it out.
P.S> Note that this was John Ritter’s last movie. Also Bernie Mack who plays the Security Manager didn’t live too many years past this release either.