Tag Archives: Jessica Henwick

The Matrix Resurrections (2021) Review

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The Matrix Resurrections

Time: 148 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Keanu Reeves as Thomas Anderson/Neo
Carrie-Anne Moss as Tiffany/Trinity
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Morpheus
Jessica Henwick as Bugs
Jonathan Groff as Smith
Neil Patrick Harris as The Analyst
Priyanka Chopra Jonas as Sati
Jada Pinkett Smith as Niobe
Director: Lana Wachowski

To find out if his reality is a physical or mental construct, Mr. Anderson, aka Neo, will have to choose to follow the white rabbit once more. If he’s learned anything, it’s that choice, while an illusion, is still the only way out of — or into — the Matrix. Neo already knows what he has to do, but what he doesn’t yet know is that the Matrix is stronger, more secure and far more dangerous than ever before.

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I really didn’t know what to expect from The Matrix Resurrections. I had previously watched the original trilogy some time ago, but I only just liked those movies and I wasn’t such a huge fan of them (even when it comes to the original). Then I watched the trailers for Resurrections and my interest shot up immediately, compelling me to revisit the original trilogy right before the new film. In my more recent rewatches of the trilogy I found that I was liking it a lot more, especially the sequels despite how divisive they were. So I was looking forward to the latest instalment, and I’m happy to say that Resurrections delivered in what I was hoping.

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Something you’ll see in every review for The Matrix Resurrections is the word ‘meta’, and the film is definitely very meta. I won’t go into detail as to the specifics of the plot, its worth checking out for yourself. However a noticeable part of it is very much is a commentary on IP culture and the commodification and exploitation of IP, as well as criticising blockbusters (mainly reboots). While some might consider the self-aware aspects annoying, I actually loved them, and it’s a very bold addition. In a way you could make a comparison between Resurrections and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. In a sense, some of the meta aspects are dropped once it leaves its first act and becomes more of a continuation of the Matrix story, though honestly the meta aspects could’ve felt tired when pushed longer so it was probably for the best. The second act is admittedly on the slower side and not quite as strong as the first or third acts, but I was nonetheless engaged with what was happening. Then it moves into its third act which I found incredibly gratifying and satisfying to watch.

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Something that I admire about the Wachowskis is that they are making the movies that they want to make and not really catering to the audience, which is most evident in their sequels with Reloaded, Revolutions, and now Resurrections. This is something that’s established from the meta first act, and Resurrections is essentially the creators reclaiming their franchise nearly 20 years later. While there is some nostalgia including references and returning characters, its still very much a personal movie with lots to say, and is very heartfelt and sincere. This is the most emotionally charged of the four films by far, from the emotional core of the story with Neo and Trinity, to just the feeling behind the whole film. As typical of it being a Matrix movies, there are a lot of themes at play. Along with the commentary and deconstruction of IP cinema, it still maintains the metaphors and themes of the original trilogy including systems and identity. Themes aside, Resurrections still does find a way to build upon the lore and continue the story in a way that I was satisfied with. While it certainly establishes some things which could be built upon in future films, I’m actually very comfortable with Resurrections being the conclusion of the whole series.

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I really liked the acting in the movie, everyone was really good in their part. Keanu Reeves in this movie isn’t only his best performance in a Matrix movie, but one of his best performances in general. He’s good throughout but he’s particularly great in the first act. Carrie-Anne Moss also returns as Trinity, and she was also great. She’s not in the movie as much as you’d expect, especially when it’s a movie about her and Neo, but she’s really good in her screentime. My biggest criticism of the first Matrix movie is that the central romance came out of nowhere at the end and wasn’t convincing. The sequels fixed this and made it believable, and Resurrections is no exception. While you don’t see Trinity as much as you would like, their connection is nonetheless a vital part of the movie and the essential emotional core. This movie very much builds off their established connection into something more, and for what its worth, Reeves and Moss have the best chemistry here out of the four movies, and they feel very believable.  The new additions to the cast were great too, mainly Jessica Henwick as Bugs and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Morpheus, or rather a new Morpheus. Addressing the elephant in the room, there is an explanation as to while the real Morpheus as played by Laurence Fishburne isn’t here. I like how Yahya doesn’t try to replicate Fishburne and is very much doing his own thing. Neil Patrick Harris was probably the biggest surprise in the movie. He plays Keanu’s psychologist known as The Analyst, but he has a far greater role in the movie, and proved to be a very different kind of antagonist compared to Smith. Speaking of Smith, that role this time is played by Jonathan Groff. While it definitely is disappointing not seeing Hugo Weaving reprise his role, Groff’s version is nonetheless interesting to watch, especially with how different he is. He doesn’t try to replicate Weaving and that really was for the best, and he’s wonderfully chewing up the scenery. There are also some welcome return actors and characters like Jada Pinkett Smith and Lambert Wilson in their roles.

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Lana Wachowski, one half of the Wachowski sisters, returns to direct the next Matrix movie. I thought her work here was great. It’s certainly feels very different stylistically to The Matrix which some might take issue with. But I feel like its less like she lost her Matrix touch and more like her filmmaking style has evolved since 18 years ago, and I appreciate how it feels very different rather than trying to recapture the original trilogy’s style. The cinematography is great, it certainly feels very different than the first three movies with the colour pallet and style, but I loved it, especially with the use of colour. The visual effects are fantastic too, and it’s quite something seeing a Matrix movie in the 2020s with modern technology. Watching is on the big screen was an incredible experience. The biggest complaint that some people will have is about the action, and the action is one of the most known parts of the movies. To be blunt, aside from one or two sequences, the action in Resurrections doesn’t rank amongst the best action of the franchise, there’s not much like the Freeway Chase in Reloaded or the final battle between Neo and Smith in Revolutions. There’s also not that many action scenes in the film. With that being said, I do like the action, and there are some moments in the third act which really stand out. In saying that, the action definitely isn’t a focus point compared to the previous three movies. Lana Wachowski is clearly more interested in the themes, plot and character and I respect that. The score from Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykwer is great, very reminiscent of Don Davis’s score from the original trilogy, with the same feel and atmosphere. It really elevates the action scenes particularly.

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The Matrix Resurrections is one of the most ambitious and creative blockbusters I’ve seen in a while. It’s meta and nostalgic while having enough changes to feel fresh for the franchise. Its entertaining, subversive, bold but also personal and heartfelt, with an enthralling story and is excellently directed. Resurrections is already proving itself to be an incredibly divisive movie. If you aren’t such a fan of the Matrix sequels you might not be into it. But for what its worth, as someone who loves the Matrix sequels, I loved this film and its one of my all-time favourite movies from 2021.

Underwater (2020) Review

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Underwater

Time: 95 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, horror scenes & offensive language
Cast:
Kristen Stewart as Norah Price
Vincent Cassel as W. Lucien
Mamoudou Athie as Rodrigo Nagenda
T.J. Miller as Paul Abel
John Gallagher Jr. as Liam Smith
Jessica Henwick as Emily Haversham
Director: William Eubank

Disaster strikes more than six miles below the ocean surface when water crashes through the walls of a drilling station. Led by their captain, the survivors realize that their only hope is to walk across the sea floor to reach the main part of the facility. But they soon find themselves in a fight for their lives when they come under attack from mysterious and deadly creatures that no one has ever seen.

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I knew about Underwater for some time, it was a horror sci-fi thriller taking place in the ocean and starred Kristen Stewart in the lead role. I didn’t expect much from it really, especially for a January released thriller, but I had a feeling it would be entertaining at least. Thankfully it was quite a fun movie and I liked it for what it was, even with its faults.

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Right after an establishing shot inside and outside the station, and after the first scene of Kristen Stewart establishing her as the protagonist, the crash that sets the plot into motion happens. I do like how quickly it gets into the action, as well as the straightforwardness of the plot. The plot itself is rather predictable and doesn’t really do anything new, with plenty of tropes from other horror movies. In fact much of the story and setting for sure takes cues from Alien, just taking place underwater instead of outer space; Underwater is basically Alien in the ocean. With that said, I didn’t expect it to be something unique or subversive, so it wasn’t that huge of a negative for me. There are some parts of the plot I’m uncertain about, but I just went along with it. It is quite fast paced, and for the most part I think they fitted the movie well. There are brief attempts at humour especially with the dialogue, and I found that those moments only felt out of place and didn’t help to do anything but distract from the rest of the movie. Something I really didn’t like was all the exposition through voice over from Kristen Stewart in the first and last scenes of the movie, it just feels very unnecessary and lazy. It’s a minor issue since it’s only present in those scenes, but they stick out as being very unwelcome.

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The cast do a good job in their parts. Kristen Stewart is really good in the lead role, her performance actually does carry the movie well. The rest of the cast including Vincent Cassel and Jessica Henwick play their parts well. The characters are likable enough, if rather underdeveloped despite the attempts at development. Out of them, T.J. Miller feels the most out of place, he does have some dramatic parts, but out of the cast he delivers the most comedy, and as previously said the comedy doesn’t work.

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Underwater is directed pretty well by William Eubank. Again, you can clearly tell that the movie is inspired by Alien with regards to the direction, but its nonetheless good. I really like the look of the movie. It is well shot, the interiors look great, especially with the colour and lighting. Additionally, the setting at the facility was quite effective for this type of movie and its plot. The horror and scares were also handled quite well, with a tense atmosphere throughout, and it did a good job at making you really feeling confined. The quick cut editing sometimes worked well, at other times it made things a bit hard to follow. It does feel creepy throughout, especially the underwater scenes. I really liked how they portrayed the underwater from the visuals to the sounds. It’s a little while before we get to see the Lovecraftian-like creatures, but they are creepy and effective as horror monsters. As for issues with the direction, the outside CGI heavy shots really look fake and rough to say the least. A nit-pick but nonetheless something that stood out was the unnecessary text that appears on screen to show the location names.

Kristen Stewart stars in Twentieth Century Fox’s “Underwater”.

Underwater was quite good and entertaining for what it was, with some solid direction, and a good cast that performs well, especially a solid Kristen Stewart. The script has some faults for sure and it’s nothing special, but I reckon that if you like the look of the movie, it’s worth a watch for sure. It’s a fun 90 minute long horror thriller flick.

Iron Fist Season 2 (2018) TV Review

Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence
Cast:
Finn Jones as Danny Rand/Iron Fist
Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing
Tom Pelphrey as Ward Meachum
Jessica Stroup as Joy Meachum
Sacha Dhawan as Davos
Simone Missick as Misty Knight
Alice Eve as Mary Walker
Created By: Raven Metzner

Danny Rand (Finn Jones), the Immortal Iron Fist, has left behind the day-to-day oversight of Rand Enterprises, throwing himself into his mission to defend New York City. But when an old friend returns with twisted intentions, it threatens the fragile peace Danny maintains within his community, and within himself.

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Note: Features spoilers for Iron Fist Season 1

Iron Fist Season 1 was quite a misfire when it released, with it being widely known as the worst season of the Netflix Marvel shows. I myself didn’t hate the season, going through it all the way and found it to be okay with some good elements but it was really flawed and it had a ton of issues. Still, it managed to get a second season. However with this second season things were looking up this time, with the showrunner changing from Scott Buck to Raven Metzner, which was a really wise move. I’m glad to say that Iron Fist Season 2 is a massive improvement over the first season. It still doesn’t reach levels of some the other shows’ seasons like any of the seasons of Daredevil but on its own its still pretty good, and it’s a shame that we won’t be getting a third season, especially with the way that things end this season.

Netflix Marvel Shows (even the better ones) do tend to have the problem of having the season drawn out for too long at 13 episodes (with the exception of The Defenders which had around 8 episodes and was too short). Netflix this time decided to focus up the season by making it 10 episodes long, and it really works. It doesn’t really drag (except for maybe some of the earlier episodes) but it doesn’t feel like anything’s rushed either. Compared to some of the other shows like Daredevil, there isn’t really anything quite deep or thematic with what’s going on in the story. So in comparison it just feels like we’re watching a story play out, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does separate it from some of the better seasons from Marvel Netflix. However it gets really good towards the last episodes of the season, as it takes some surprising twists and turns. You really feel the lack of showrunner Scott Buck this season and that’s a good thing, the writing is much better in comparison. Iron Fist Season 2 ends on a pretty jarring and exciting cliffhanger, which would no doubt lead into a very interesting and different next season. Unfortunately we won’t find out what that’s all about because of the show’s cancellation, which is a colossal disappointment, more so than Luke Cage because that show seemed ended by wrapping up its last season. Here it introduces a whole new plotline that intended to explore.

With every season appearance, Finn Jones as Danny Rand improves as a character. In The Defenders, Rand wasn’t the overly serious “I am the Iron Fist, sworn enemy of The Hand” and annoying guy from the first season and he was more likable. He improved even further in his one episode appearance in Luke Cage Season 2 and he improved even more here in the second season of Iron Fist. With that said, it still does feel like the supporting characters do shine more than him. Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing also once again is really good and is one of the best parts of the whole show. Tom Pelphrey as Ward Meachum in the first season started off being really unlikable but towards the end of the season became one of the best parts about that season, having a really interesting story arc throughout. He’s great here as well, Ward once again goes through a troubled arc but this time we are rooting for him instead of wondering why people keep putting him on screen and he’s more entertaining to watch. Joy Meachum played by Jessica Stroup is also in an interesting position, with her being at odds with Danny and Ward (which was implied at the end of the first season) and her teaming up with Davos (Sacha Dhawan). It was interesting to see where she was at and how she changes over the course of the season. A returning character that’s not from Iron Fist is Simone Missick as Misty Knight, who is from Luke Cage. She’s not just a cameo or anything, she plays a rather large part in the story. Maybe the show could’ve swapped her out for any other cop character but I’m glad that it was her that popped up instead, she does add to the season quite a bit. Especially as it’s someone from a far more grounded world coming into a world with glowing fists of power and all that, its nice to see someone who’s in a slightly more grounded world come play a part in this story. I do also feel like they brought her into this season to tease the possibility of a Misty Knight/Colleen Wing team up and I’m on board with that, I’d like to see that happen.

A new addition to the Iron Fist cast is Alice Eve as Mary Walker, who’s a welcome addition to the show. This is a minor spoiler (but it’s revealed reasonably early on and it’s an aspect with her character in the comics) but she has double personalities, and it was interesting seeing that come into play with the story, and Eve does a great and convincing job with both personalities. The season ends with her seeming with her character about to be explored in a further season, and I hope somehow in another show they could do that. The last season was pretty uneven with its villains, with there being like 3 of them. This time there is one clear main villain with Sacha Dhawan as Davos, who was introduced towards the latter part of Season 1. Davos is a really solid villain and a big upgrade over Harold Meachum in the previous season (the only reason Harold wasn’t completely bad was because actor David Wenham managed to give a solid enough performance). Davos has some ties to Danny and physically they are at the same level, and you can also see why Davos does the things he does, he’s not just doing it to be evil or anything. At the halfway point however, he stops really progressing as a character and stops being interesting. He doesn’t downgrade from that point but he just sort of stays the same until the end of the season. However he still feels like a real threat throughout and was effective enough.

The overall feel and direction is similar to the first season’s but overall it is a bit better. The action has also massively improved over the previous season. Most of the action problems in the first season was surrounding Finn Jones not given enough prep time for fight choreography. In the first season, he would pretty much get 15 minutes to learn the choreography before they actually started to film, leading to the fight scenes he’s involved in requiring a jarringly amount of cuts. Both in The Defenders and here he’s much better since he’s actually allowed a lot more prep time. There are some really good fight scenes here and great uses of the Iron Fist as well.

Iron Fist Season 2 is pretty good and much better than the first season. The tighter season runtime of 10 episodes helped keep the story moving at a efficient pace, the characters are all quite good, the writing has improved, the action is solid and its just quite entertaining overall. It’s not one of the best seasons of the Netflix Marvel shows and it can leave you annoyed at the end since you know the exciting cliffhanger it ends on probably won’t get addressed. But all around I had a good time with this season. If you really didn’t like the first season, don’t let that hold you back from watching the second season, give it a chance, it’s a considerable improvement. It’s not great and definitely isn’t among the best of the Netflix Marvel shows, but it is pretty solid and worth a watch.

Iron Fist Season 1 (2017) TV Review

Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence
Cast:
Finn Jones as Danny Rand/Iron Fist
Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing
Tom Pelphrey as Ward Meachum
Jessica Stroup as Joy Meachum
Ramón Rodríguez as Bakuto
Sacha Dhawan as Davos
Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple
David Wenham as Harold Meachum
Created by: Scott Buck

When Danny Rand (Finn Jones) was 10-years old, he survived a mysterious plane crash that claimed the lives of his extremely wealthy parents. Rescued by warrior monks, Danny grew up in the of city of K’un-Lun, where he endured harsh conditions, but also trained to be a fierce warrior. Years later, Danny returns home to New York, where he wants to reconnect with his past and take his rightful place at his family’s company, which is being run by his father’s former business partner (David Wenham). Danny hopes to restore his family legacy by defeating the people who threaten it.

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Most of the Netflix Marvel shows had received great reception, with the two seasons of Daredevil, as well as the first seasons of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. The exception is Season 1 of Iron Fist, which has been almost universally panned. Having finally seeing it, I have to say that this first season has a lot of issues but it is a decent show overall. The acting from most of the talented cast is good, the show is reasonably entertaining and interesting enough, and I wanted to see where the plot would go. But writing-wise it does have a lot of issues, doesn’t quite live up to its potential and the action scenes are most of the time just mediocre. However they aren’t enough to make this season bad or even mediocre, just very flawed.

I’ll just get this out of the way, if you like the other shows in the Defenders’ series, or you are interested in watching the recently released The Defenders show, watch Iron Fist season 1, even if you end up disliking it, you will need to plow through it. Some of what Iron Fist has will come to play in The Defenders, so it is a good idea to watch it. The show does have a lot of writing issues, probably too many to list in one review, so I’ll just mention a few. The show is slow, particularly at the beginning. If you’ve seen Luke Cage season 1, you know that they sometimes had some filler episodes. Iron Fist kind of does that as well, it extends plotlines longer than it needed to be. The first 3 to 4 episodes are Danny Rand trying to prove that he really is Danny Rand and not an imposter, this takes way too long. After the first few episodes, the show really picked up.

The plotlines at times were hit or miss. Whenever the show focusses on The Hand (who are prominent villains in Iron Fist who return from The Defenders), I was interested in what was going on. There is a plotline about a family called the Meachums, who basically have control of Danny Rand’s company when he arrives back to New York. Most of this plotline is fine but it feels that too much time is spent with them. I really didn’t like at all the Rand corporation plotline, it was full of pointless board meetings that I really didn’t care about. Flaws aside with these plotlines, I was interested in seeing where the plot was going, and there were some moments that I really wasn’t expecting. A lot of the ideas that Iron Fist were solid enough but the show didn’t execute them particularly well. Some of the dialogue is off and occasionally silly, and some things happen in the show which are just plain random and silly. There is a particular example which involves ice cream, I’m not going to spoil what happens but you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it. Overall the writing is one of the most disappointing parts of the show. There are some intriguing parts to it but overall it is far from being at the level of Daredevil, Jessica Jones or Luke Cage.

Finn Jones is Danny Rand, who is unfortunately one of the weakest characters of the show. I can’t tell whether it’s the acting or the writing that’s the main issue, but I do know that the writing for him is severely flawed. Overall the biggest problem with Danny is that he is so inconsistent. One moment he is so determined not to kill people and the next moment he is out for revenge and planning to kill people. The other 3 Defenders, Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, all have flaws but that made their characters feels more real and worked in their favour. The problem with Danny is that it feels like he was written by many writers and they couldn’t pin down exactly what character he is. He is completely messily and by the end of the season I didn’t feel like I had a clear idea of who he was. The writing definitely doesn’t do Jones favours. I think he’s better when he’s playing just Danny Rand and he’s at his worst when Danny is trying to act like the Iron Fist. When Danny is being super serious and trying to act zen like, it comes across as being so forced and its just sort of laughable. At times he comes across as a whiny kid trying to act serious and its just sort of embarrassing. Also looking back at this season, I couldn’t really pick up on a clear character arc for Danny. To his credit, Finn Jones is doing everything he can to act in this role and does project a semblance of likability to Danny, however he can only do so much as the writing really lets him down. It’s just sad that one of the worst characters of Iron Fist is its titular character.

The supporting cast/characters fare much better than Danny Rand. One of the best characters of the show is Colleen Wing, played by Jessica Henwick. She was very likable, believable (especially in the action scenes) and she has an interesting background (no spoilers). Colleen honestly was one of the best parts of the show. While Finn Jones’s Danny Rand has a lot of issue, he and Henwick share some great chemistry. Rosario Dawson is effortlessly likable as Claire Temple, who once again pops over to this show from Daredevil like she did with Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. Some of the other supporting characters are the Meachums, Ward and Joy (siblings) played by Tom Pelphrey and Jessica Stroup respectively, they share very believable chemistry. Ward in particular is great, he started out as an absolutely insufferable character but he has a great arc and by the end he’s one of the best characters of the show.

This season has a few villains, and the handling of the villains was quite hit or miss. If there is a main villain, it’s Harold Meachum, played by David Wenham. While the character himself is fine, he doesn’t work as a villain for the Iron Fist. Most of the time he’s not a direct threat, more of an anti hero than an actual villain. So he is rather average when you consider him as a villain. He’s also not given enough depth. Unlike Fisk, Kilgrave or Cottonmouth in Daredevil, Jessica Jones or Luke Cage respectively, Harold isn’t given some sort of reason for the things he does. Its ironic that so much attention is focussed on the Meachums, yet I don’t really feel like I know much about Harold. With that said, the character himself is fine, if severely underwritten and underdeveloped, and David Wenham fully embraced this role and gave a good and entertaining performance, better than the role deserved.

One of the biggest criticisms of the show is the fight scenes and while it isn’t really good, I have seen worse action scenes in mediocre-bad action movies. The stuntwork is not very remarkable, it is slow at times and even sort of boring. Also, it does one of those editing things where they constantly cut during fight scenes to hide bad stuntwork. The show does have its decent action moments but for the most part the action scenes weren’t that good and were one of the weaker parts of the show. Its disappointing because out of all The Defenders, you’d expect and Iron Fist show to be so great with its fighting, especially with Danny Rand. Danny should feel like a strong fighter character but the series don’t really do that good of a job in conveying that through his action sequences. Also at times the visual effects are a little weird at times, such as the flashbacks. Otherwise the direction of the episodes was overall fine I guess.

Iron Fist Season 1 was better than I thought it would be. I can kind of see why some people took issues with this season, there is definitely a lot of problems, the 3 main issues being the writing, Danny Rand and the action scenes. However I think it has received way too much criticism than it deserves. The show was interesting enough and had enough good performances and plot points to keep me intrigued enough to finish the show. With the showrunner of season 1 being replaced for season 2, perhaps Iron Fist’s next solo season will be much better. But as for season 1, it is so far the worst season of the Marvel Netflix shows.