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Review: “The Animatrix”

August 23, 2013 1 comment

The AnimatrixThe Matrix has remained one of the most influential action films ever created. Naturally, its financial success and popularity with critics and audiences meant that Warner Bros. would most certainly capitalize on their new property. The lead up to the sequels saw a big marketing push, leading to plenty of tie-in products, such as Nokia’s cellphones that resembled the ones in the films and PowerAde’s infamous product placement. This also meant that the Wachowskis gained a lot of clout with studio execs, who seem to still think that the sequels’ poor critical reception should be ignored in the name of hoping that, one day, the duo would once again deliver a Matrix­-level franchise for them.

Not all of the marketing for the films consisted solely of cynical product placements, however. Though it was a complete disaster, the video game Enter the Matrix was still one of the first efforts on behalf of filmmakers to synergize the film and video game mediums and tell an even bigger story than you would get from having just seen the films, a tradition that would continue with The Matrix Online, which functioned as a direct, totally canonical follow up to the final film, The Matrix Revolutions.

Similarly, the Wachowskis, who were influenced heavily by anime, also commissioned various animation studios to produce a series of shorts that would tie into their universe – some of them directly into the movies, others giving us an even greater perspective outside the narrative of how Neo would fulfill the prophesy of The One. The resulting collection of nine shorts (eight, if you wish to see the single two-parter as a whole work) was The Animatrix, a collection that was deemed so essential to the overall Matrix narrative that it’s included in every iteration of the films’ box sets, including the cheap-o barebones 4-film collections you see on Walmart shelves every now and then.

Below you will find eight mini-reviews of the shorts, each of them being rated and reviewed on their own merits, followed, in the end, by an overall rating of the complete Animatrix anthology.

Please note that clicking on the titles before each reviews will lead you to a free and legal (but admittedly low quality) streaming version of the shorts straight from TheWB.com (the embedding doesn’t work on WordPress), so feel free to watch the shorts on your own and see if you agree with my assessments, too! Read more…

Review: “Predator”

June 21, 2013 2 comments
PredatorDirected by: John McTiernan
Produced by: Lawrence Gordon, Joel Silver, John Davis
Written by: Jim Thomas, John Thomas, Shane Black (Uncredited)
Edited by: Mark Helfrich, John F. Link
Cinematography by: Donald McAlpine
Music by: Alan Silvestri
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura, Kevin Peter Hall, Richard Chaves, Elpidia Carrillo, Sonny Landham, Shane Black, R.G. Armstrong, Peter Cullen
Year: 1987”

 

Apparently inspired by a gag about Rocky Balboa, having bested all his human opponents, fighting an alien contender, Predator always felt, to me, like a cheap and uninteresting action film with next to no characters I fully cared about. Given, I had formed this opinion around the age of 10, when I had first seen the film and at a time when I thought Batman Forever was a great entry in the franchise, so I’m not sure how much weight I’d give that assessment, but it’s one that I held on to for quite some time – in fact, I have basically avoided every possible opportunity to actually see it again in full length from that first viewing onward just based on the fact that it was a boring, super-macho action film with an ugly alien creature. I’ve seen both Alien vs. Predator films more times than this (though that’s more because they’re so entertainingly bad). For Guy Movie Month, however, I decided that it was time that I got past my distaste for the film and give it another go… Read more…

Review: “Die Hard”, and a 51st post “Thank you!”

December 14, 2011 15 comments
Directed by: John McTiernan
Produced by: Lawrence Gordon, Joel Silver, Beau Marks (associate) Charles Gordon (executive)
Written by: Steven E. de Souza & Jeb Stuart (screenplay)
Starring: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson, Alexander Godunov
Music by: Michael Kamen
Based on the novel Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp
Year: 1988

You wouldn’t know it today, but Bruce Willis wasn’t known for action roles back in 1988. Having spent most of his career up to that point being known for the dramedy detective series Moonlighting, where he played a wisecracking detective opposite Cybill Shepherd, Willis wasn’t necessarily the most obvious choice for the role of John McClane, despite the character sounding fairly similar as a wisecracking police officer from New York. It doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to modern viewers unfamiliar with the era, but when you consider the fact that the show featured a largely romantic story between two co-workers, putting the actor into a film like Die Hard, which, by the way, released only a year after his starring role debut in the romantic comedy Blind Date, maybe it makes more sense why people may have been a bit more skeptical. Read more…

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