“The King’s Man” stars Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans, Matthew Goode, Tom Hollander, Harris Dickinson, Daniel Brühl, Djimon Hounsou, and Charles Dance. Released on December 22, 2021, the film has a Duke racing against time to save the world from a devious plot.
The film was directed by Matthew Vaughn, who also directed films such as “Layer Cake”, “Stardust”, “Kick-Ass”, and “X-Men: First Class”. It is a prequel to the “Kingsman” film series, which is loosely based on the comic book series of the same name by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. A gentleman is always polite, precise, and, more importantly, humane. But, on the other hand, these people have their ways to become proper gentlemen, and they’re not as peaceful as they sound. This year’s holiday season brought us another R-rated action film for the older crowd to endure after their stressful Christmas shopping, and it’s a part of a franchise that took the spy genre to a whole new level. The “Kingsman” films from Matthew Vaughn have enjoyed their share of successes lately thanks to their cast and their combination of adult violence, comedy, and spy elements. I liked them for those same reasons, even “The Golden Circle”. Following the release of “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” in 2017, fans have been patiently waiting for the return of Eggsy and Harry Hart in a brand new adventure. After four Kingsman-less years, the adult-rated franchise is finally back with its latest installment, although not in a way we expected. Before we see Taron Egerton suit up as Eggsy once again, Matthew Vaughn is taking us back in time to see how the secret service came to be, with a brand new cast and a World War setting to boot. While it wasn’t exactly what most fans wanted, there’s no doubt that we’re pretty ecstatic to return to this unique world filled with violent gentlemen and crazy gadgets. Does it serve as a long-awaited prequel that’s worth the wait, or are we better off waiting a couple more years for Eggsy’s return? Let’s find out.
The story occurs in the 1900s, many years before “Kingsman: The Secret Service”. The main focus is on Orlando (Fiennes), a British aristocrat and Duke of Oxford. Along with his servants Shola (Hounsou) and Polly (Arterton), Orlando created a secret spy network dedicated to protecting the world from violent conflicts before they occur. Joining alongside them is Orlando’s son, Conrad (Dickinson), who’s eager to fight for the country, but can’t due to Orlando’s overprotective nature. When a mysterious group led by the Shepherd plots to pit the German, Russian, and Britain empires against each other, Orlando and his team set out to prevent this war from happening. If you’ve watched the previous “Kingsman” installments, you’ll know what you’re going to get out of “The King’s Man”. It’s a highly stylized and violent spy film that’s as energetic as it is often humorous. With the film shifting its tone from the modern spy comedy genre to a war thriller, it offered a refreshing take on the franchise that also delivered what we expect from a film about gentlemen spies. While this new direction might not impress every fan of the film series, it’s still an exciting and stylish action thriller that provides elegance in action filmmaking over substance. Regarding its story, I would have to say that this is the weakest installment in the adult-rated franchise so far. “The King’s Man” had an anti-war plot that featured a father-son relationship and a basic globe-trotting adventure to prevent a deadly conflict. When the story isn’t focused on taking specific elements too seriously, it becomes a fun and frenetic popcorn ride that wasn’t afraid to embrace its identity. Although, it did come with the cost of providing a couple of disappointing outcomes, mainly the relationship between Orlando and Conrad. Now, it’s not to say that they heavily affected my experience as a whole since they did well in subverting my expectations regarding its formula. But I will say that one of the film’s surprises made that specific plot element somehow pointless. At least, in my eyes. Along with its rough pacing in the first act and inability to recapture lightning in the bottle, the story in “The King’s Man” wasn’t gentlemanly enough to join the high rankings. However, as a source of entertainment, it’s an enjoyable origin film that centers on the organization’s birth and an intriguing vision of historical events. As for the cast and characters, I thought they were fine enough to take over spy duties for Taron Egerton and Colin Firth. Fiennes, Arterton, and Hounsou managed to deliver some worthy performances as Orlando, Polly, and Shola, respectively. Dickinson provided an okay presence as Conrad, even though his performance was lacking in depth during a couple of scenes. The main highlight of the cast was Rhys Ifans, who offered a unique and gleefully bizarre take on Grigori Rasputin. The franchise usually has specific characters that are just as kinetically insane as the violence, and Rasputin happens to be an example of that. I still think Samuel L. Jackson’s Richmond Valentine from “The Secret Service” is tough to beat, but this demented version of the Russian mystic came pretty close. Another thing that I enjoyed was its style, particularly in its action scenes. When it comes to the “Kingsman” films, no director handles its unique presentation better than Matthew Vaughn himself. From its creative panning shots to the slo-mo sequences that rival Zack Snyder’s filmmaking vision, Vaughn showcased that the film’s impactful thrills aren’t just from the combat but also the cinematography. This alone proves that the filmmaker is still the perfect choice to helm a franchise like this. The action sequences were also immensely entertaining, thanks to its swift choreography and Vaughn’s direction. Unfortunately, they’re not as over-the-top and brutal as the previous films. So if you’re hoping for it to have something that rivals the church sequence from “The Secret Service”, I’m sorry to say that you’ll be left feeling unsatisfied with the result. However, I would admittedly say that “The King’s Man” should please people who weren’t fond of the graphic violence from the first two movies. The action may not have many kills that deserve the R-rating, but that doesn’t make it even less fun. Plus, it won’t make specific people sick to their stomachs, so I’m going to call that a win.
Overall, “The King’s Man” may not have all of the qualities to be a perfect gentleman, but it has enough style and action to stand alongside its previous movies. Aside from its disappointing plot elements and pacing, the film is a diverting piece of escapism that favors presentation over substance in the best way. With its suitable cast, Vaughn’s direction, and entertaining action scenes, the film is another installment that shows that manners maketh man. If you enjoyed the previous “Kingsman” movies, the film is worth checking out this holiday season.
Hello, and welcome to another episode of moviemanMDG's "Movie Talk", where I talk about everything film-related. Last time, we counted down my top ten favorite films of 2021. Now, it's time for me to list the ten movies that are as contagious as the coronavirus. These are the top ten films that left a sour taste in my mouth throughout the year. This list was about as tricky as my top ten best list. It wasn't just because of the small number of bad films I watched in 2021. It was also because of the ranking, mainly the top three movies, which were so terrible they gave me brain farts as to which one was more unforgiving than the others. Now there were a few other films that everyone thought were bad, such as "Tom & Jerry", "Space Jam: A New Legacy", and "Dear Evan Hansen" for some ridiculous reason. But I managed to find some movies that I believe deserve more hate than those I mentioned. As always, this list is in my personal opinion. If you happen to like any of my selections, that's perfectly fine. I'm always glad to see people enjoy these films more than I did, even though I don't entirely agree with their opinions. Just make sure you lock the doors at night if everyone else doesn't feel the same way. As always, you can find my selections on my "2021 Reviews" page if you want a more in-depth reason why I didn't enjoy them as much as others. With that said, let's count down the worst of the worst!
Let's start this list with a long-awaited sequel to one of the comedies that define Eddie Murphy's career, "Coming to America". "Coming 2 America" is not only another follow-up that fell extremely short of its predecessor, but it is also the top contender for the "laziest sequel title" award. The film benefited from Eddie Murphy's irresistible presence, its focus on Zamunda, and costume designs. Sadly, they're overshadowed by its familiarity, weak humor, and obsession with nostalgia over storytelling. It's a toned-down retread of the original that's not worthy enough to wear the crown.
If you think the snowy weather outside was frightful, then you haven't watched this icy dud of an action thriller. "The Ice Road" is another film that features Liam Neeson in action star mode. Nothing more, and nothing less. While his presence on screen was once again tolerable, it wasn't enough to carry the film through the ice road unscathed. Its weak supporting cast, cliched screenplay, mundane direction, and terrible visuals immediately put this forgettable thriller in the deep freeze. It's a fine watch for those who enjoy Liam Neeson as an action star, but for everyone else, it showed that the actor deserves a better movie with warmer temperatures than this.
This year, I've seen plenty of animated films that didn't match the quality that Disney, Pixar, and Studio Ghibli offered in their movies. Some were tolerable, some were subpar, and some were downright irredeemable. "The Addams Family 2" is another example of the latter. The film is a narratively bland and uninspired animated sequel that's not as spooky as its 2019 predecessor and the live-action adaptations. The voice cast and the animation still did wonders in portraying the macabre family and their characteristics. However, they're not enough to overcome its formulaic plot, tedious humor, one-dimensional supporting characters, and weak direction. This is one road trip that's just as gloomy as the titular family, and not in a good way.
It didn't take the people from Hollywood too long to revive the "Resident Evil" franchise with a reboot. Unfortunately, it made me wish that they didn't. "Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City" seeks to correct course by sticking close to the source material, mainly the first two games. The result is a mediocre and thinly-plotted reboot that might satisfy a few fans of the games and no one else. The film showcased some good intentions in its cast, atmosphere, and production design. However, they're not enough to help the horror reboot survive the zombie apocalypse. Its cheesy dialogue, weak plot, underwhelming direction, and rushed finale made me realize that it's time for this horror franchise to stay dead.
You would think that Ben Falcone couldn't go as low as his last feature, "Superintelligence", but this film happened to prove us wrong. "Thunder Force" was Falcone's latest collaboration with his wife Melissa McCarthy that lacks the power and the humor to punch its way to victory. Like "Superintelligence", the film took an intriguing concept and squandered it into a generic and forgettable mess. Despite some okay moments in its cast and action, "Thunder Force" was quickly defeated by its cliched script, mediocre humor, and Falcone's poor direction. Remind Nick Fury not to let Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer join the Avengers.
There's no doubt that I was always interested in seeing unique takes of the fairy tale formula thanks to the "Shrek" franchise. Unfortunately, the movies that tried to copy the DreamWorks Animation classic's formula weren't as magical as a bag full of fairy dust. My number five pick for the worst of 2021 happened to join that list, which is "Charming". I know it came out three years ago, but it was first released in Spain, and it didn't get a United States release until 2021, when Netflix picked it up. Because of that and the fact that I live in the U.S.A., I will count that as a 2021 release. You probably haven't heard of this little animated stinker, and to be honest, you're better off not knowing what it is. Despite its okay-ish animation and a fitting message about love, "Charming" is a charmless and painfully mediocre fairy tale that suffers from its dull story, forgettable characters, weak performances, and an unbearable script. This is one tale that you don't want to read to your kids.
What could've been an intriguing and unique sci-fi approach on reincarnation turned out to be a bland eyesore that's infinitely boring. Out of the original movies released on Paramount+ this year, Antoine Fuqua's "Infinite" was undeniably the worst thing to come out of the streaming service. Despite its okay action scenes, the sci-fi action film was a dull and incoherent imitation of the well-received films that came before it, mainly "The Matrix". Fuqua's direction was weak, the characters were uninteresting and wooden, the plot was inconsistent, and Mark Wahlberg delivered his worst performance of his career so far. It's an endless cycle of badness after badness, resulting in the movie being the low point for Wahlberg and Fuqua.
"The Forever Purge" is another installment that refuses to let the popular horror franchise die. Whether you like these movies or not, you can tell how unnecessary and tasteless this latest sequel was regarding the current state we're in now. The cast and its political themes, including immigration, were dumbed down by its soulless scares, by-the-numbers storytelling, and mediocre characters. Unfortunately for us, they're already working on making more "Purge" films as of this writing, which means it'll be a while until we see the end of these senseless acts of violence.
"Home Alone 3" started the unfortunate trend of mediocre sequels that failed to capitalize on the success of John Hughes' comedy classic and its sequel. "Home Sweet Home Alone" managed to make this trend even worse than before. Released as part of Disney+'s second anniversary, the sixth installment in the "Home Alone" franchise was an unpleasant and unrewarding sequel that didn't understand why the first film was beloved in the first place. However, I would give it credit for providing a couple of fresh ideas to spice up its formula, such as injecting some sympathy into the "burglars". Unfortunately, the execution for these ideas was about as torturous and humorless as the traps themselves. The cast was mediocre, Mazer's direction was mundane, the characters were unlikeable (mainly Max), and the comedy was forgettable. Not only was it the worst film to appear on Disney+, but it was also an unnecessary follow-up that left a massive dent on the beloved holiday comedy franchise.
I've constantly been switching the top two films for weeks, figuring out which movie is worse than the other. It's a struggle that's just as stressful as finding the perfect Christmas gift for a special someone. After thinking it over for a while, I have finally decided which one deserves the top spot in my least favorite list. The only thing that I despise more than COVID-19 and the previous movies I mentioned this year is Chris Rock hunting the Jigsaw copycat killer. Like "The Purge", "Saw" is another horror franchise that overstayed its grisly welcome with its tasteless violence and lackluster storytelling. The only evidence I needed to prove that theory was the latest installment in this twisted and gory film series: "Spiral". Long story short, if you've watched the previous "Saw" films, then you've already seen "Spiral", a repetitive and unoriginal cash-grab that wasted its talented cast, ideas, and my time. Despite a fresh direction and some promising elements, the film heavily relied on the tiring formula that quickly wore itself thin instead of taking advantage of its new ideas. From its unlikeable characters to its lackluster thrills and kills, "Spiral" is a surefire sign that the game needs to end before it does any more damage to the brand. In my eyes, it is the worst installment in the ultra-violent franchise, and it is also my biggest stink pile of 2021.
That concludes my top ten least favorite films of 2021, thus ending another year filled with the good, the bad, and the downright ugly of cinematic art. The same goes for everything else that happened outside of our movie-going experience. If there's a bright side I could find regarding my list, it's that these films did what they could to impress their target audience, even though their flaws were as irritating as being isolated in our homes. As I mentioned before, this was a hard list to make because of the number of terrible movies I watched this year compared to the many fantastic ones. But I gathered enough willpower to complete it before reaching the new year. With that in mind, I hope you enjoyed the hard work I put into making this list, and as always, have a safe and happy new year.
Hello, and welcome to another episode of moviemanMDG's "Movie Talk", where I talk about everything film-related. It's that time of year once again, ladies and gentlemen. 2021 is reaching its end, and we're already looking forward to 2022. That means it's time for me to count down my ten favorite films of the year. As usual, there were a ton of movies released both in theaters and on streaming services that I enjoyed, more so than others, but only ten of them are perfect enough to make it onto my list. I'm also going to include a couple of films that were released last year before expanding wide in 2021. The question is, which ones will be on my top ten list? As usual, this is my personal top ten list. Some of you may agree with my choices, and others may not. That's the magic of having opinions. Also, I want to apologize in advance for not being able to see all of the movies that came out recently before making this list, including "Nightmare Alley", "The Power of the Dog", and "Don't Look Up". I heard many good things about them, but I couldn't find the right time to watch them. Don't worry. I'm still planning on reviewing them soon. If you want to know more about why I adored the films on my list, you can search for them on my "2021 Reviews" page. With that in mind, let's not waste any more time. Let's get to the countdown!
Let's start the countdown with the recent adaptation of the popular Broadway musical, courtesy of Mr. Steven Spielberg himself. "West Side Story" was a remarkable experience from start to finish in my eyes. Not just because it was my first exposure to the source material, it's also because it's a superbly-directed and highly engaging musical that honors the narrative and themes. The only reasons it's sitting at the bottom of my list were its beefy length and Ansel Elgort's average performance as Tony. Other than that, it's a thought-provoking and tragic love story that boasts significantly from its cast, Spielberg's old-fashioned style, Leonard Bernstein's score, and lively musical numbers. Unfortunately, it's one of the recent movie musicals that sadly went unnoticed due to its underperformance at the box office. Hopefully, it'll get more attention once the Oscars roll in.
After bringing "Blade Runner" back to the big screen, acclaimed director Denis Villeneuve is back to revise another science-fiction epic from our childhoods, and boy was it a grand one. Not only was "Dune" a significant improvement over David Lynch's 1984 adaptation, but it was also a well-crafted and majestically immersive first half of Frank Herbert's novel. Its cast was engaging, the technical aspects were incredible regarding the scope, and Hans Zimmer's score was delightful. If you want another reason why Villeneuve is a great filmmaker, watch this fantastic movie. I hope he continues that success with next year's sequel.
Since it acquired 20th Century Fox, Disney has been having plenty of issues connecting audiences to the former's recent titles regarding the box office. My number eight pick, however, managed to be an exception. "Free Guy" can be seen as an entertaining piece of escapism from director Shawn Levy, but it is also a hilarious and thoughtful allegory about life. Ryan Reynolds delivered one of his best performances in his career, its satirized humor was balanced well with its heartfelt moments and visuals, and Levy's direction was lively and effortful. It may not reach the high score, but it earned enough points for me to place it on my list.
2021 saw three Sony Pictures Animation films being released on Netflix due to the pandemic: "The Mitchells vs. the Machines", "Wish Dragon", and "Vivo". These three films continue the animation studio's quest to compete with Disney and DreamWorks with stellar results. But only one was able to rise above the rest, and that is "The Mitchells vs. the Machines", my seventh favorite film of 2021. I usually put a Disney film in my top ten list just like I did every other year, but like "Into the Spider-Verse", this film managed to be great enough to earn its place on my list. While I did enjoy "Wish Dragon" and "Vivo", "The Mitchells vs. the Machines" was top-tier animation gold regarding its visual uniqueness and storytelling. It's incredibly entertaining, intelligently hilarious, and heartwarmingly relatable. From its delightful voice cast to its imaginative animation, the film gleefully celebrates the power of weirdness and a connection more reliable than the internet.
The Williams sisters have maintained their success in tennis for years, and it's all thanks to their father. "King Richard" brilliantly showcased Richard Williams' journey through its excellent cast and infectious spirit. Will Smith turned in an incredible performance as Richard. The narrative was thoughtful and full of heart despite its sports biopic formula. The cast's chemistry was as refreshing as the sisters' tennis skills. It's an uplifting and well-directed sports drama that should get Reinaldo Marcus Green more directorial gigs in the future.
The legend of King Arthur has been told through different types of media for many generations. This film offered a new tale that centered on his nephew and his own accomplishment, and the result is undeniably incredible. David Lowery's "The Green Knight" is a visually striking and thought-provoking medieval epic that succeeds in its scope and narrative. However, it can be a slow burn for modern moviegoers due to its runtime and lack of high-stakes action. Regardless, the film was a marvelous piece of medieval cinema regarding its cast, Lowery's filmmaking style, and fantastic technical qualities.
Okay, I know that my number four pick was released in 2020, but I wasn't able to watch the film earlier since it was in a small number of theaters during that time. So I had to wait until next year to witness this critically acclaimed drama for myself. I'm happy to say that the wait was worth it. "Minari" saw writer/director Lee Isaac Chung depict a fictional portrayal of his upbringing in the rural United States. The result is a gorgeous and authentic piece of lifestyle cinema that shows that rural living isn't what it's cracked up to be. Thanks to its splendid cast, Chung's ambitious direction, a remarkable screenplay, and sublime cinematography, the film is an endearing and heartfelt drama that reminds us about the importance of life and family.
This is another movie that came out last year before it expanded wide in 2021. But since I watched it this year, I'm counting it as a 2021 movie. Chloé Zhao's "Nomadland" is another slice-of-life drama that's worth supporting for its authentic storytelling and brilliant filmmaking skills. What made it a bit better than "Minari" in my eyes was that Zhao truly understood the basics of a nomad lifestyle, both the good and the bad. Because of that, it became a sentimental and grounded portrait of people living life on the open road. Of course, it wasn't without its tiny issues with its pacing and repetition. Still, its brilliant cast, Zhao's direction, and gorgeous cinematography made "Nomadland" a beautifully delicate experience that honors those people and showcases Zhao as one of the most ambitious filmmakers to date.
What do you get when you combine Larson's creative struggle with many musical numbers and Lin-Manuel Miranda? You get "Tick, Tick… Boom!", another fantastic musical that explodes with energy, emotion, and songs. Andrew Garfield was undeniably brilliant in his role as Jonathan Larson, and Lin-Manuel Miranda has proved himself to be an impressive director regarding his infectious liveliness. Along with its supporting cast, musical numbers, and compelling storytelling, this is one production that deserves your time.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe started the year on the right foot with a slew of enjoyable streaming shows for Disney+ and a couple of decent films that introduced some new heroes to its audience. So it's a no-brainer to see the franchise attempting to finish the year strong with another crowd-pleasing experience that hopes to rival "Avengers: Endgame". What better way to do that than with our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man? It was a challenging mission to accomplish, but the MCU team managed to pull it off with flying colors. "Spider-Man: No Way Home" not only works as a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Marvel fans, but it also works as an emotionally driven and visually riveting conclusion to the webhead's MCU trilogy. The story was well-balanced with its fan service and blockbuster aspects. The cast was irresistibly charming, the characters were nicely developed, and the direction in its action and drama was handled incredibly well. In addition, it served as an incredible love letter to the people who have followed Spider-Man for years, whether it's from the movies, television, comics, or even video games. It's a fantastic Spider-Man sequel that's also my favorite film of 2021.
There you have it, folks. Those are my ten favorite films of 2021. While it sucks that we're still waiting for things to go back to normal, I'm glad that we had some great movies this year to keep us from going insane. Again, I apologize for not being able to see every film that came out before making this list. That's what happens when I try to balance my movie-going schedule with my personal life. Do you agree or disagree with my list? Let me know in the comments, and stay tuned for the next episode of "Movie Talk", where I share my top ten stinkers of 2021.
"Sing 2" stars Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly, Nick Kroll, Bobby Cannavale, Halsey, Pharrell Williams, Letitia Wright, Eric Andre, Chelsea Peretti, and Bono. Released on December 22, 2021, the film has Buster Moon and his cast preparing for a show at the Crystal Tower Theater.
The film was written and directed by Garth Jennings, who also directed "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and "Son of Rambow". It is a sequel to the 2016 animated film "Sing", also directed by Jennings. You better dust off your microphones and warm up your vocal cords because it's time to sing loud and proud once again. The folks at Illumination Entertainment are back from their one-year hiatus due to the pandemic to release a follow-up to one of their successful films. No, I'm not talking about the Minions. Not yet, anyway. I'm talking about a film about anthropomorphic animals who sing and dance their way to the top, American Idol-style. Garth Jennings' "Sing" may seem like a "Zootopia" rip-off regarding its setting and characters, but underneath the surface is a colorful and heartfelt comedy involving a group of animals facing obstacles to achieve their musical dreams. Following its critical and commercial success, Illumination put a fast track on a sequel with Jennings and the entire cast returning for an encore, except Seth MacFarlane, who's busy spending his "Sing" money on more episodes of Family Guy. I wasn't expecting the animation company to revisit this world. While I highly enjoyed "Sing" for its charm, heart, and songs, I usually looked at it as a one-and-done deal, like how I did with "The Secret Life of Pets". But I was willing to give it a chance since I enjoyed the characters they introduced in its predecessor. Was this second verse as comedic and heartfelt as the first? Let's find out.
The story takes place sometime after the events of the first film, where Buster Moon (McConaughey) is thriving with his new Moon Theater. His recent production has impressed all but one viewer: a talent scout named Suki (Peretti), who tells him he would not make it in Redshore City. Hoping to prove Suki wrong, Buster reunites the gang and heads to the city to share their original pitch with entertainment mogul Jimmy Crystal (Cannavale). Unfortunately, Crystal quickly disapproves of Buster's idea. They then come up with a new show idea that would feature the legendary rock star Clay Calloway (Bono), who hasn't been seen in 15 years. This resulted in Buster and his troupe facing brand new challenges during their three-week preparation, including convincing Calloway to come out of retirement. Like the first film, "Sing 2" forgoes the cartoony slapstick that Illumination is known for in favor of a jukebox musical drama centering on characters preparing for the big event. This direction was what I liked the most from its predecessor because it gave the studio a chance to provide a character-driven story amid its kid-friendly antics and humor. The execution was far from Oscar-worthy, but it delivered enough heart and energy in its characters, songs, and messages to make it one of my favorite films from Illumination. Unsurprisingly, "Sing 2" offered more of the same as the original, just in a different environment, and the show they're putting together reminisces the Star Trek franchise. If that's what you're looking for, then there's no doubt that you and your kids will have a fun time revisiting the vibrant and musical world of "Sing". However, if you're hoping for it to be the next great animated sequel like "How to Train Your Dragon 2" or even "Toy Story 2" quality-wise, don't waste your breath with this one because that's not happening. While it delivered what worked in the original, such as the cast and animation, "Sing 2" failed to recapture the same amount of soul and magic that made its predecessor a remarkable family film. Now, it's not to say that it's unnecessary or terrible, as it had plenty of humorous and charming moments that made me appreciate its feel-good vibes. It's the fact that I was slightly disappointed in the direction it was going for despite Garth Jennings' involvement in writing and directing the film. Along with having some of the same beats as its predecessor, the story in "Sing 2" was pretty straightforward and predictable, mainly due to Universal's terrible marketing. I'm sorry, but the recent trailers sucked the tension right out of the film by showcasing its third act. They should've just released the first trailer, and that's it. Save the surprises for the actual movie. Now I understand why people don't like movie trailers anymore. The plot also had some intriguing elements in the character development that would've made the story emotionally engaging. The overall theme of "Sing 2" is what we currently face today while chasing our dreams: overcoming our fears. Throughout the film, we see specific characters facing their concerns while preparing for the show. First, Buster Moon learns not to let Jimmy Crystal tell him what he can and cannot do for the show. Next, Rosita (Witherspoon) encounters her fear of heights while playing the main lead. Then, Johnny (Egerton) worries about losing his self-confidence while working for his choreographer Klaus Kickenklober (Adam Buxton). Then we see Meena (Kelly) attempting to overcome her shyness, resulting in her meeting a charming ice cream vendor named Alfonso (Pharrell Williams). Finally, we have Clay Calloway, who's concerned about performing in front of people again after his wife passed away. It's an inspiring and heartfelt message that should resonate well with young kids because it teaches them not to let their fears get in the way of achieving their dreams. Unfortunately, since this is Illumination we're talking about, its storytelling wasn't as thought-provoking as the themes it represented. It's not entirely awful, but it was pretty underwhelming regarding the elements they introduced, especially when taking the arcs for Clay, Rosita, and Meena into account. The character arcs were either rushed or nonexistent to the point where the film robbed itself of its emotion. I can understand that it didn't want to alienate the kids with its deeper themes and slow pacing, but in cases like this, it doesn't always work as an excuse for average storytelling in animation. Despite this issue, the characters, both old and new, were enjoyable enough to entertain the target audience, thanks to its entertaining voice cast, ranging from the charismatic McConaughey as Buster Moon to U2 lead singer Bono as Clay Calloway. Bobby Cannavale also did some solid voice work as the film's antagonist, Jimmy Crystal, regarding the actor's vocal range and the character's devious and selfish personality. Like the first film, Nick Kroll and Garth Jennings as Gunter and Miss Crawly, respectively, were the main highlights of the cast in "Sing 2", mainly due to their gleeful humor and amusing presences. Then, we have the film's animation, which looked as vibrant and lively as in the previous film. Redshore City is a fabulous animal rendition of Las Vegas, and the space-themed show in the third act is a magnificent sight to behold direction-wise and visual-wise. It's another good example of Illumination's ability to provide colorful blasts of imagination, even though its storytelling still leaves much to be desired.
Overall, "Sing 2" is another Illumination sequel that hits the right notes in its presentation and heart but stumbles in everything else. When it comes to the cast, the jukebox songs, and the animation, the film is a fun and harmless experience that's worth singing along to with the kids, especially if you enjoyed the first film. Sadly, its disappointing direction for the story and character depth prevented it from joining the top-tier animation choir. It's a tolerable distraction for the kids if they're bored of "Encanto" or "Clifford the Big Red Dog", but it doesn't deliver anything beyond its verses for everyone else. On the bright side, the film is another way to introduce your kids to U2, so there's that.
"The Matrix Resurrections" stars Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Jada Pickett Smith. Released on December 22, 2021, the film has Neo returning to the Matrix to face a new threat.
The film was directed by Lana Wachowski, who also directed films such as "Bound", "The Matrix", "Speed Racer", and "Jupiter Ascending". It is the fourth installment in the "Matrix" film series. If you're looking for a place to visit during your holiday vacation, I know the one that'll blow your mind. 1999 was a pretty crucial year during that time. It marked an end of a millennium, and plenty of films from that year filled our heads with nostalgia, mainly the one that revolutionized science fiction cinema. That film was "The Matrix", a sci-fi action mind-bender that transports Keanu Reeves into a virtual war between humanity and the machines. Praised for its visuals, action, and influences, the film created a launching point for Reeves and its directors, the Wachowskis. It also spawned two sequels that make up a trilogy, along with an animated anthology film, books, comics, and video games. Following the trilogy's disappointing conclusion in 2003, one of the Wachowskis has returned to the franchise that made them household names with a continuation 18 years in the making. I hope you don't have any holiday plans for this week. "The Matrix" is one of the films that I remember fondly, but I haven't watched it as much as others. While I adore it for its visual achievements and world-building, I just didn't have the energy to revisit it more often. Regardless, I was interested in returning to this virtual universe, mainly because of the involvement of Reeves and Lana Wachowski. With that in mind, let's take the red pill and see if this long-awaited sequel is worth the trip back to the source.
It has been twenty years since the events of "The Matrix Revolutions", and Neo (Reeves) is living his ordinary life under his real identity, Thomas A. Anderson. He's occasionally visited his therapist (Harris) to counteract the hallucinations he encounters with the blue pills. He also meets a woman who appears to be Trinity (Moss), although they don't recognize each other. One day, he encounters a new version of Morpheus (Abdul-Mateen II), who leads Neo to discover that he's inside the Matrix, a virtual world where anything is possible… and more dangerous than before. With a new enemy on the rise, Neo teams up with a group of rebels, including a gunslinger named Bugs (Henwick), to save Trinity from the Matrix. "The Matrix" is the latest classic franchise to be revived with a long-awaited sequel that continues the main story and unites the old characters with some new blood. More importantly, it's packed with plenty of nostalgic elements that remind us why we love the original in the first place. It's a try-and-true formula that's proven to be successful for other sequels like "Jurassic World", the "Star Wars" sequel trilogy, and recently "Ghostbusters: Afterlife", and it's not going away anytime soon. The "Matrix" trilogy is known for combining sci-fi action elements with underlying themes involving religion, mythology, and philosophy. The same applies to "Resurrections", which offers bits of commentary of choice vs. control and, occasionally, franchise revivals. Unfortunately, those themes were sadly overshadowed by its conventional narrative that lacked the energetic and ground-breaking flair of the 1999 classic. But, of course, it wasn't without a few moments that would surely impress several "Matrix" fans, such as its visual style. The Wachowskis are usually known for providing unique visual presentations in the production designs and action sequences, with the prime examples being "The Matrix" and "Speed Racer". So it's no surprise to see that "Resurrections" had a few nifty visuals that capture the grim and imaginative world of the Matrix. Again, they're not going to change the blockbuster world like the original, but for the most part, the visuals in the setting and action looked nice. The fact that Lana Wachowski managed to represent this world without her sister made it even more impressive in my eyes. The film had some of the original cast reprising the roles that made them famous, such as Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss. Their performances as Neo and Trinity, respectively, were as engaging as they were in the previous installments, especially Reeves, who proves that he never lost his Neo mojo. It also featured some fresh faces that play new characters, like Henwick as Bugs and Harris as The Analyst, and characters that the other actors previously portrayed. The prominent examples of the latter are Yahya Abdul-Mateen II replacing Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus and Jonathan Groff as Agent Smith, previously played by Hugo Weaving in the trilogy. Some of the franchise's fans weren't extremely happy with these changes, but I honestly didn't mind them at all since these actors played their roles very well. Jessica Henwick also proved to be a tolerable addition as Bugs, even though she didn't do much to make herself stand out above the new characters. As for its flaws, I think the filmmakers only made the sequel to appease the fans and capitalize on Reeves' recent success with the "John Wick" films. Instead of coming up with a plot that rivals the trilogy, "Resurrections" relied on a screenplay that relies on traditional blockbuster aspects and struggles to balance sci-fi action with its thought-provoking themes. The storyline is a straightforward and trippy rescue mission that's not only surprisingly underwhelming but also unnecessarily overlong. "Resurrections" offered a runtime of two hours and 28 minutes, making this the longest film in the franchise. What made the runtime unbearable for me was its second act. While the first and third acts were somewhat entertaining, I had a difficult time keeping myself awake during the middle part of the film, primarily because of how long it took to keep the plot going and how dull it was. Maybe that's why I didn't revisit the previous films more often? The action scenes were usually one of the best aspects of the franchise regarding its choreography and direction, so I was surprised to see that the fight sequences in "Resurrections" were somehow tame compared to the previous films. They're still enjoyable to watch, but none of them stand out as memorable, extraordinary, or even nail-biting.
Overall, "The Matrix Resurrections" is a grimly gorgeous and underwhelming return to the source that changed the action genre more than 20 years ago. Despite its suitable cast and visual style, the sci-fi action sequel lacked the cleverness and intrigue that made the franchise special in the first place. This was due to its mediocre screenplay, excessive runtime, average direction, and dull second act. This is a long-awaited revival that should give long-time fans what they wanted this holiday season but may not offer much else to make it a triumphant comeback for the iconic sci-fi series. Can we go back to seeing Keanu Reeves in "John Wick", please?