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The Matrix Resurrections | A Mind-Bending Sci-fi Romance



The Matrix Resurrections is such a self-aware, meta-driven, awe-exhilarating, mind-bending sci-fi romance that features stunning visuals and absolutely insane action sequences. It’s innovative and engaging and after twenty years we finally get plugged back into The Matrix in a sequel that honours the legacy of the iconic Trilogy. 

From visionary filmmaker Lana Wachowski comes the long-awaited next chapter in the groundbreaking franchise that truly redefined a genre. The new film reunites original stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss in the iconic roles they made famous, Neo and Trinity. 

In “The Matrix Resurrections”, we return to a world of two realities: one, everyday life; the other, what lies behind it. To find out if his reality is a physical or mental construct, to truly know himself, Mr. Anderson will have to choose to follow the white rabbit once more. And if Thomas…Neo… has learned anything, it’s that choice, while an illusion, is still the only way out of-or into-the Matrix. Of course, Neo already knows what he has to do. But what he doesn’t know yet is the Matrix is stronger, more secure and more dangerous than ever before. Déjà vu.

©Warner Brothers

The Matrix has truly evolved since Revolutions as it’s now difficult to spot reality from fiction, especially with code. The Matrix code is treated like a story and Jonathan Groff’s Smith quotes to Thomas “That’s the thing about stories. They never really end, do they? we’re still telling the same stories we’ve always told, just with different names, different faces. Reeves reprises the dual roles of Thomas Anderson/Neo, the man once saved from the Matrix to become the saviour of humankind, will once have to choose which path to follow. 

Moss portrays the iconic warrior Trinity, well not anymore, she’s Tiffany. A suburban wife and mother of three with a penchant for superpowered motorcycles. Things aren’t certainly the way they were before.

Every studio is after a profitable IP and as sequels come and go franchises evolve. The Matrix Trilogy has always remained in our conscience as a pop culture impact that changed the sci-fi game in 1999 with the first instalment about Thomas “Neo” Anderson a computer programmer by day and hacker at night whose life is forever changed when he swallows the red pill that disconnects him from a carefully simulated world of enslaved humans. The premise of machines rebelling against their makers was a unique concept and the utilising of people as an electrical system to fuel a dystopian world truly put an interesting twist on the potential fate of humanity. 

However their freedom came at a cost as Neo becomes “The One” a mythical figure of power and enlightenment prophecies to bring about the end of affairs and establish peace with the machines, allowing them to live in co-exisitence with the humans in the city of Zion. 

He did so, thanks to his and Trinity’s sacrifice at the end of The Matrix Revolutions, in which he was able to defat a self-replicating virus known as Smith (Hugo Weaving). Neo’s transformation from a curious worker to an actualised human being capable of changing the world felt like it holds significant relevance to Wachowski’s own life story. The Matrix was all about the desire for transformation all coming from a closeted point of view according Lilly Wachowski. 

If you talk about transformation in the world of science fiction, its about imagination and world-building and the ultimate idea of the seemingly impossible becoming the possible. 

Helming Resurrections as a solo effort makes you feel Lana’s vision. Along with her co-writers, the novelist David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas) and screenwriter Aleksandar Hemon embrace the heavy self-referential themes that exist in this day and age, specifically the opening as it takes a nostalgic approach as the writers being to poke fun at sequels, prequels and reboots. The film also begins with a satire on corporate greed and conniving marketers as the company revs up for a new sequel that doesn’t want to be made. 

The Matrix Resurrections, more so than any other instalment in the franchise is to me a film of love and about finding the ONE you believe in. It’s a story centred on the relationship between Neo and Trinity, the leather-coated, mirror shades-wearing resistance fighters introduced in the original Matrix Trilogy. Nearly two decades have passed since the release of The Matrix Revoutions and that sixty years have elapsed between the events at the end of that film and the beginning of Resurrections. Their relationship gets the films plot moving and the payoff is spectacular. Lana’s approach guides us through the reveals as there is tons to unpack when it comes to the lore of the Matrix and its implications. 

©Warner Brothers

Resurrections gives such awe-inspiring additions to the Matrix world and Mega City. It’s more modernised and showcases the nature of past and present simulations and programs especially how they reign over themselves this is particularly seen in The Analyst (Neil Patrick Harris) and Smith (Jonathan Groff). The film also updates some of the ideology and technology as phone booths and mobile phones see an absence and is now replaced with mirrors that work as doors to the physical word. 

The unbreakable Bond as mentioned above between Neo and Trinity, is an iconic romance that transcends dimensions and time, it’s the human element that propels this dystopian/futuristic vehicle. Wachowski creates great epic filmmaking that feels human and in this entry despite what the Oracle told Neo in Revolutions, every beginning does not have an end. Love never dies. It’s about the power of self-love and what’s happening in the world with regard to gender identity and relations. 

Trinity was a character in the original trilogy and a woman with such power, agency and ability. The matrix set a standard for female action heroes and Resurrections certainly lives up to that whilst also taking into account the passage of time. Trinity’s arc in The Matrix Resurrections is a reaction to the past 20 years of cultural evolution. 

©Warner Brothers

Keeping Neo on the path is a group of incredible hackers who have come to see Neo as a legend. They have studied the past and keep archives of data dedicated to his exploits which certainly come in handy utilising footage from the trilogy to help jog his memory. Bugs (Jessica Henwick) is the proverbial white rabbit on a mission to discover the one who sacrificed himself for humankind and she’s willing to take any risk necessary in search of the legend she idolises. Henwick truly pops off the screen with an infectious attitude, she’s smart and suave and has Incredible style especially her sunglasses which were designed by British eyewear designer Tom Davies. 

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II plays a new version of the wise and worldly Morpheus who, as always, serves as a guide to Neo whilst also fulfilling his own greater purpose on a very singular journey of self-discovery. 

The return of Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith) the fierce general who once fought for the survival of Zion now sees to the welfare of her people with a familiar fire on her eyes, despite a sense of disbelief and suspicion upon Neo’s return. 

wrapping up the cast are Jonathan Groff who plays Thomas Anderson’s business partner Smith, a slick, confident corporate type with insouciant charm, a disarming smile and an eye on the bottom line. Neil Patrick Harris plays the Analyst, Thomas’ therapist who works closely with his patient to understand the meaning behind his dreams and to distinguish them from reality. 

And Priyanka Chopra Jonas plays Sati, a young woman with a wisdom that belies her years and ability to see the truth, no matter how murky the waters. 

©Warner Brothers

What follows is a journey with twists and swarms of explosive action but with the glowing sunset. The film also features a comedic tone which was surprisingly meta and hilarious. It stems from what the film utterly renders is love’s true power, showcasing Neo and Trinity’s powerful romance with sincerity. The Matrix Resurrections is about becoming whole with yourself and belief as Neo puts it “I never believed I was the one. But she believed. It’s my turn to believe in her. 

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Hypnotic Review | Robert Rodriguez’s Studio Bankrupting Actioner Is His Worst-Ever Film

Robert Rodriguez’s latest movie is his worst-ever project yet, with a baffling script and ridiculously inert performances from its leads.



Imagine a studio paying so much money for a screenplay that it literally bankrupted them. That’s what happened when Solstice Studios acquired Robert Rodriguez’s Hypnotic, which, on paper, does sound quite interesting: the film chronicles a police detective’s (Ben Affleck) quest to find Lev Dellrayne (William Fichtner), the person who kidnapped his daughter. Dellrayne is hypnotic, meaning he can easily manipulate someone’s mind and perception of reality by uttering a few words to someone.

Detective Rourke (Affleck) teams up with Diana Cruz (Alice Braga), a powerful hypnotic, to take town Dellrayne, but things are quickly not as they seem… Again, that sounds like an interesting premise, and it is seemingly very much a riff on Christopher Nolan’s Memento, Inception, and Tenet (perhaps in 2010, it would’ve been a box office juggernaut), but its execution is amazingly sloppy and barely watchable.

Rodriguez has always been known for making movies through a cheap and no-nonsense style, and it has worked to great effect in his El Mariachi trilogy and even in the Spy Kids flicks. Hell, The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl is a guilty pleasure for many, even if its screenplay is one of the worst ever written, and the CGI is an absolute nightmare to watch. Rodriguez has also proven himself to direct massive blockbusters like Alita: Battle Angel and episodes of The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett. He is an incredibly versatile filmmaker, but his filmography has been mostly inconsistent.

You’d think that a scenario like Hypnotic would mean success for Rodriguez as he gives his own spin on Nolan’s trippiest movies, but he cannot save this film from being anything more than a disaster. There isn’t a single actor that gives a good performance here. Affleck looks particularly bored trying to assimilate every ounce of exposition Braga and Fichtner consistently deliver. None of the characters feel like they are human or live in a human world with extraordinary circumstances. The dialogue is mostly flat and unengaging, with Braga’s character being the worst offender of them all.

I cannot for the life of me explain to you all what a “Hypnotic” truly is because the film keeps adding more information to the concept without necessarily explaining how that’s important. Such an expository-heavy movie needs more time to make the audience understand exactly what’s going on, but it continuously jumps the shark whenever it gets quasi-interesting and has “fun” blurring the line between reality and fiction. Is what you’re seeing even real? Is it a construct of Rourke’s imagination? Is Dellrayne an actual character? Who knows, and who cares!

The film gives the audience little motivation or interest to care about what’s happening because it overexplains the concept of hypnotics to the point where no one truly understands their purpose and underexplains everything else. Of course, it’s fine for a movie to be ambiguous and suspend certain elements. But for the movie to do that, its narrative must be tight, and its thematic elements must be strong. Hypnotic doesn’t have any of that.

It also doesn’t help that none of the action scenes are remotely engaging. They’re shot with the energy of an Asylum flick and edited in the vein of an Olivier Megaton picture. You cannot see a damn thing, but what you actively see are the actors sleepwalking through the setpieces. There’s no engagement from any of the stars — they perform in those sequences as if they were handcuffed and desperately want to leave.

But the worst part of the film is its midpoint twist, which changes everything that came before and is ridiculously uninspired. It feels like a total cop-out. I won’t spoil what it is, and you’re better off discovering it on your own, but it is amazingly lazy and insults the audience’s patience and intelligence. It also thinks it’s smart to add in so many twists and turns to subvert audience expectations after its “core” twist, but they all fall flat and deliver absolutely nothing of note for the viewer.

There’s no fun to be had watching Hypnotic. Even Rodriguez’s worst films have a campy quality to them that makes them watchable. Hypnotic isn’t unintentionally hilarious, nor campy enough for me to have cared. It’s not worth anyone’s time, and it certainly wasn’t worth bankrupting an emerging studio for having paid way too much money for such a mediocre script…


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‘Navalny’ Review: Jaw-dropping Tale of Russia’s Most Fascinating Political Activist



There are times when we see a documentary and it forces us to think about subject matter that we might not have given thought to otherwise. Watching a documentary is never easy because it takes you on a journey that might trigger a lot of people. That’s what documentarian Daniel Roher did with his recent project, titled ‘Navalny’. Almost everyone knows who Alexei Navalny is, what he did, and why the Russian government fear him. But only a fraction of the population knows about the struggles he went through to make people realize how Vladimir Putin has been poisoning the minds of millions of Russians and running a government that is full of corrupt people.

Navalny is considered to be an influential figure in Russia and his story is nothing short of an edge-of-the-seat thriller. In the documentary, filmmaker Daniel Roher takes a journalistic approach and follows Navalny’s every move. However, the documentary primarily focuses on the events surrounding his poisoning in Tomsk, Siberia, in August 2020, and the subsequent investigation. It was a miracle that the Russian revolutionary survived and went ahead with the investigation. The extraordinary footage provided by Roher makes this documentary an enthralling watch and there are moments when viewers will be on the edge of their seats to see what happens next. From the footage of the poisoning and investigation to lengthy interviews with Navalny and his loved ones, this documentary will give viewers all the details of why Navalny became such an influential person in Russia and across the globe.

Through the documentary, Navalny comes across as a force to be reckoned with and a person who never shies away from putting on a show for his followers and his nemesis. But he is acutely aware of the constant shadow of death that looms over him. This is what makes him so relatable. If you ever take on a powerful person, you know he or she has all the resources of taking you down at any point in time. Navalny never thought of such consequences and moved forward with his strategies so that he could expose what Putin and his government is doing in Russia.

Despite being a documentary, ‘Navalny’ has all the hallmarks of being a spy novel and keeps the audiences hooked from beginning to end. One particular scene with Navalny talking to one of the men who poisoned him on a phone call is undoubtedly one of the most jaw-dropping moments in the history of cinema. These moments make viewers feel like they are watching a spy thriller and not a documentary. To be honest, this movie is more than just a documentary, it is a testament to what people have the go through while battling corrupt people.

Navalny [credit: HBO Max]

But one thing that this documentary does so well is that it shows how people around him were also at significant risk. His wife, Yulia, played a significant role in pushing Navalny forward and provides much-needed human moments Roher gets up close and personal with Navalny, who doesn’t shy away from answering tough questions, including ones about his past associations with the far-right in Russia.

It is one of the rare documentaries that are highly engaging and draws the audience into the drama through its skillful editing and pacing. From the very first frame, it is evident that ‘Navalny’ wants to reach a wider audience and comes forward with moments that are both emotional and thought-provoking.

The Russian revolutionary doesn’t want the public to stop if he gets assassinated or dies in prison and that’s why he categorically made it clear that this film should not act as a tribute to the work he has done in his life.

The documentary is a unique tale of one of the most brazen incidents of state-sponsored assassination in memory, making it a must-see film for any who is interested in knowing about a man fighting against his country.

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Shooting Stars Review | Unfocused Sports Biopic Throws a Brick

Peacock’s Shooting Stars has noble aspirations, but doesn’t amount to anything remotely intriguing or thought-provoking.



There have been several major basketball pictures this year, with Ben Affleck’s Air and Calmatic’s White Men Can’t Jump remake being considerable successes. This week, it’s Universal’s turn with Shooting Stars, based on the 2009 memoir of the same name written by LeBron James and Buzz Bissinger. The film chronicles the life of a young LeBron (Mookie Cook) as he plays in the St.Vincent-St.Mary High School basketball team with his friends Dru Joyce III (Caleb McLaughlin), Sian Cotton (Khalil Everage), Romeo Travis (Scoot Henderson) and Illya McGee (Algee Smith).

The film’s basketball scenes are shot with great verve by cinematographer Karsten Gopinath. Drones have been part of our collective imagination since Michael Bay showed the world how great of a filmmaking tool it can be with Ambulance, and here, Gopinath and director Chris Robinson use it to terrific effect. The film cuts to an overhead drone shot of a building slowly panning to LeBron during one of its opening scenes, and there’s an even more impressive shot of a drone going into a net, spiraling backward as if it were a basketball.

Stuff like this is so cool to watch, but it seems like Gopinath and Robinson use every trick in their arsenal during the film’s opening hour and starts to fizzle out afterward. The movie then becomes a highly conventional basketball picture with less interesting stakes and style than what came before. When Shooting Stars pushes the stylistic envelope, it’s a marvel to look at. But when it starts to morph into something terribly conventional and formulaic, it’s a massive bore.

Barring two great supporting performances, none of the leads are memorable in any way. Cook does his best as LeBron but can’t match the charm the real LeBron has had on the court and in film. The same can be said for every other lead: their performances are lethargic, and they feel devoid of any legitimate charm or kinship that would solidify a movie like this and make it memorable. Some of the scenes where they bond together on the court are well made (because of their impressive visual kinetics), but they seem to come few and far between.

Shooting Stars [credit: Universal Pictures]

Most of the character arcs and relationships feel underdeveloped since the movie focuses most of its time on the basketball scenes. And as impressive as they are from a purely visual standpoint, they’re not so impressive from a storytelling standpoint. The basketball scenes don’t necessarily develop the characters and don’t draw interesting stakes for the audiences to become invested in the film.

Thankfully, Wood Harris and Dermot Mulroney are excellent as coaches Dru Joyce II and Keith Dambrot, respectively. Harris is the film’s emotional core and the main reason why anyone would want to seek it out. His dramatic presence is unparalleled and delivers monologues of terrific profundity. It’s a shame that the leads can’t match, or at least can’t feel as tangible as Harris in this film and in most of the performances he gives.


Ultimately, Shooting Stars doesn’t hit a slam dunk. The film’s underdeveloped core of main characters, paper-thin plot, and formulaic structure doesn’t help it, even if the basketball scenes and two strong performances help it become quasi-engaging. But it’s not enough for me to recommend you seek it out, even if you’re a massive LeBron fan. You’re better off reading the book it’s based on instead of watching a biopic where you’ll learn nothing of value from LeBron or the “fab four” that shaped him.



Shooting Stars is now streaming on Peacock. 

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