Tag Archives: Keanu Reeves

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.

The Matrix Revolutions (2003) Review

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The Matrix Revolutions

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Medium level violence
Cast:
Keanu Reeves as Neo
Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus
Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity
Hugo Weaving as Smith
Jada Pinkett Smith as Niobe
Director: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski

Neo, humanity’s only hope of stopping the war and saving Zion, attempts to broker peace between the machines and humans. However, he must first confront his arch nemesis, the rogue agent Smith.

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I rewatched the first two Matrix movies earlier in the year in preparation for the fourth movie, The Matrix Resurrections. However I ended up just rewatching the first two movies and didn’t get around to completing the trilogy. As it was approaching the release date of the newest film, I decided to attempt to rewatch the whole trilogy again, and I’m glad I did. I’ll admit I wasn’t such a huge fan of these movies previously, even the original I thought was just decent. However in spite of my issues with it, along with it being an incredibly impactful, influential and technically impressive movie, The Matrix was a great film in itself. Even the more recent rewatch of Reloaded had me really liking it. It’s definitely messy and overstuffed but It was interesting, bold and ambitious with its ideas and I might’ve even enjoyed it more than the original. I was curious about how I would find Revolutions since I have only seen it once and I don’t remember much except that it seems to be the least liked out of the trilogy by many people. However I’m glad to say that I liked it about as much as the previous two films.

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Something noteworthy about The Matrix Revolutions is that it is very much a continuation from Reloaded, in fact you could say that the two movies combined are a singular sequel to The Matrix. So try not to watch them months apart or anything. The Matrix Reloaded had a ton of exposition for the lore and the themes, way more than the first movie. Revolutions has some of this but its not nearly as overwhelming. I do appreciate the dialogue in Reloaded from my rewatch (along with grasping what people were actually talking about), but I appreciate Revolutions easing off that a bit. It’s also not as convoluted, you don’t get a scene like the infamous Architect scene from Reloaded. It does seem to lean more into action scenes than long philosophical conversations about reason and purpose. With all that being said, Revolutions can still deliver on the ideas, and its certainly not short on ambition. Reloaded could feel a little bloated at points with both the themes and action being dialled up, and could feel a little unbalanced, Revolutions on the other hand feels more focused and consistent. Something that I know people don’t like about Revolutions is that there isn’t a whole lot of time in the actual Matrix. Most of the Matrix’s screentime take place in the first third, whereas most of the movie  takes place in Zion, the last human city. There’s even a very long battle in Zion against the machine which lasts well over 30 minutes. It can feel a little too long and no doubt they could’ve been shaved down those scenes a bit. However these scenes are nonetheless effective, with the action having a lot of tension and weight to them as the threat of the machines feel overwhelming and scary. Thankfully the Zion action isn’t the last action we get, as we get a final action scene taking place in the Matrix which I found very satisfying. I found the ending to be quite fitting and conclusive, and so I’m wondering how Resurrections will connect with it.

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Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss and Laurence Fishburne are back again in their roles of Neo, Trinity and Morpheus and I think they were really good once again. Like with Reloaded, is also a lot of focus on the romance between Neo and Trinity. Their relationship was one of the worst parts of the first movie because there was virtually no chemistry between the actors, and with the writing, it just sort of comes out of nowhere in the film. However this is mitigated in Reloaded and Revolutions, and the scenes between these two are particularly great. Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith continues to be a considerably scene chewing and highly enjoyable villain. Whereas in Reloaded he was a supporting villain who occasionally showed up to be a problem, here he takes on an even larger villainous role. He steals every scene he’s in and is one of the highlights of an already great film.

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The Wachowskis direct this incredibly well as expected, and it’s great on a technical level. The Matrix movies all look amazing, but this is probably the best looking of the trilogy, from the scenes in the matrix to the scenes in Zion. The action scenes and set pieces are impressive, and even the CGI holds up well (at least compared to some of the CGI in Reloaded). We only get about a third of the movie in the Matrix, but those gunfights and battle scenes are nonetheless impressive. The divisive battle between the humans of Zion and the Sentinels was actually quite impressive, if a bit too long and chaotic. It’s a real spectacle from the visual effects to the scale, and the Sentinels feel more scary and unstoppable than they have ever before. The real highlight action scene for me is the climactic fight between Neo and Smith, playing out like a big anime fight. Like all the Matrix movies, it’s unapologetically over the top, and while that might be seen as ‘too much’, it only makes the movie better for me. Don Davis’s dramatic choral score is epic like in the previous movies, and really elevates the tension and scale in many of the scenes.

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The Matrix Revolutions is a very divisive conclusion to the original trilogy, but one that I really liked. It may have some of the typical Matrix issues like some clunky and stiff dialogue, and some occasional messiness, but on the whole it succeeds. The themes and the direction the story go in was impressive, and the technical aspects and action are enthralling to watch. At risk of going off topic, I have to say that there is something quite refreshing watching the Matrix sequels, as the Wachowskis take the follow ups to their critically acclaimed movie in the directions they want to take them, regardless of what audiences want, and I will always appreciate when filmmakers do that. Even if they don’t 100% work, the sequels are ambitious if nothing else, and I’m glad to be one of the people who really like the sequels as much as the first movie. After being successfully ‘Matrix Pilled’ for all 3 movies, I’m looking forward to seeing how The Matrix Resurrections turns out.

The Matrix Reloaded (2003) Review

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The Matrix Reloaded

Time: 138 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence & sex scenes
Cast:
Keanu Reeves as Neo
Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus
Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity
Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith
Jada Pinkett Smith as Niobe
Harold Perrineau as Link
Randall Duk Kim as Keymaker
Gloria Foster as The Oracle
Director: Lilly Wachowski and Lana Wachowski

At the Oracle’s (Gloria Foster) behest, Neo (Keanu Reeves) attempts to rescue the Keymaker (Randall Duk Kim) and realises that to save Zion within 72 hours, he must confront the Architect (Helmut Bakaitis). Meanwhile, Zion prepares for war against the machines.

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The Matrix sequels aren’t the most beloved of movies, but I remember being one of the people who enjoyed them. I was familiar enough with the first Matrix movie, however I hadn’t watched the sequels more than once each. So I thought I should check them out again, especially as the fourth film would be coming in 2021. Overall, I do like The Matrix Reloaded even though it definitely has a lot of very visible issues.

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The Matrix Reloaded really does feel like The Wachowskis letting loose and in some ways it was nice to see them go all out on everything. However, it also resulted in the movie being quite overindulgent and bloated, and in some ways it made the movie work against itself. The script at many points was a bit unfocused, not helped by the weird pacing. While there were some interesting parts, I found much of the movie to be boring and bland at points. Reloaded couldn’t find the balance between exposition and action like the first one did, doing away with the careful structure, and replacing it with a fairly complex but messy and convoluted plot with nonsensical philosophical overtones. The film throws so much information at you, and a lot of the time, I was not able to follow what was going on. Even thinking back on it after a more recent viewing, it’s hard to remember the key plot points. The first Matrix movie had a lot of people talking and having very serious conversations about high concepts. In Reloaded, it takes things to a ridiculous extent with even more preachy philosophical stuff, and it comes across as rather forced. The dialogue driven elements of the film felt overly complex and bloated, and it really bogged down the movie when it got to these moments. The heavy handed dialogue does mostly tone down in the second half of the movie, with the exception of the infamous ‘Architect scene’. Without getting into that too much, while I understand the context of the scene and why the dialogue is written like that, it just borders on self-parody. It’s really no surprise why this scene has been parodied so much. Reloaded also has a rather unsatisfying cliffhanger ending, and although it’s the second part of a trilogy, it really feels like part 1 of 2 of a Matrix sequel (with part 2 being Matrix Revolutions). Despite everything, there were some interesting aspects. Some story aspects and interactions were interesting and I liked some of the ideas presented. I wouldn’t even say that I disliked the story. However, even as someone who doesn’t exactly love the first Matrix, that movie handles things a lot better than Reloaded.

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The acting generally remains the same as in the previous movie, pretty generic and not all that great. Some actors are better than others, for example I enjoyed Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus (like in the first movie). However I still don’t think Keanu Reeves and Carrie Anne Moss are that good in their roles of Neo and Trinity. Their performances are rather bland and stiff and while I feel like that was part of their given direction, it hinders the performance greatly. It only feels worse given that it’s the sequels and they are still acting the same. Something I didn’t buy in the first movie at all was the sudden mention of Neo and Trinity being in love with each other despite nothing prior in the movie indicating that at all. Well it’s certainly not sudden in Reloaded as the film constantly pushes this relationship and it feels really forced. There’s still no chemistry between the two leads and it’s not made any more believable here. Even the new additions to the cast don’t really bring much new to talk about. I will say that Hugo Weaving made such a big impression in the first movie as Agent Smith, that despite his fate at the end of the last movie, they found a way to bring him back and he’s entertaining whenever he’s on screen as always.

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Once again, the Wachowski Sisters direct this, and props to them for pushing the boundaries even though the technology wasn’t quite there yet. The first Matrix seemed to embrace looking cool over functionality, I kind of respect that and it adds something to their aesthetic. The second movie is no exception. This movie has so many goofy moments which somehow adds to the movie’s entertainment. Neo flying for Superman for example is silly but fun. The cinematography is gorgeous, and the action scenes are generally quite good. In fact, Reloaded has some of the most memorable action scenes of the whole trilogy. It goes for more over the top action, more so than the first movie, and that is actually quite welcome. The choreography ranges from ridiculous to kind of awesome. There is a fight scene between Neo and many Agent Smiths, it was absolutely insane and only gets sillier as it progresses along, but it’s quite entertaining. There’s also a long extensive action sequence taking place on a freeway, and it’s one of my favourite scenes in the whole film, being both thrilling and entertaining. One flaw in the action scenes of the Matrix sequels however is that now that Neo is basically a superhero, it removes any tension from any action scene he’s in. Not to say that his action scenes aren’t good though, they are still fun. The CGI is impressive at times but overall, it is a bit dated for today. The 3D models can be good in one moment, and then extremely fake in another (the Neo vs Smiths fight being a strong example of this). Finally, there’s the amazing score from Don Davis, and the score is even better than the score in the first movie.

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The Matrix Reloaded is a very frustrating movie. To a degree I respect the ambition and scope of it, as well as the refusal to just repeat the first movie again. This does also lead to some of its worse aspects though, with the overindulgence (especially with the writing), heavy exposition, an overly complicated plot and script and more. By the end I didn’t have a clear idea of what I watched, and not in a good way. With that said, I do enjoy the movie. Some moments and ideas were well done, and the movie is worth watching for the action alone, even if some of the effects haven’t held up well. I’ll need to rewatch The Matrix Revolutions to see if it’s that much better than Reloaded, but I’m not expecting much.

Speed (1994) Review

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Speed

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & Offensive Language
Cast:
Keanu Reeves as Officer Jack Traven
Dennis Hopper as Howard Payne
Sandra Bullock as Annie Porter
Joe Morton as Lieutenant Herb ‘Mac’ McMahon
Jeff Daniels as Detective Harry Temple
Director: Jan de Bont

A young police officer (Keanu Reeves) must prevent a bomb exploding aboard a city bus by keeping its speed above 50 mph.

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Speed is one of the most iconic and influential action movies from the 90s, with a memorable premise, great action sequences, and it was overall really good. I decided to rewatch it recently, it’s still really entertaining and it surprisingly holds up pretty well for the most part.

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The concept of the movie is fairly simple: if a bus drops its speed below 50 mph, it will explode. It works greatly in its simplicity and it’s brilliantly executed. The plot has plenty of creative ideas and situations that prevent the film from being repetitive. It might be a pretty standard plot nowadays in terms of action movies, but the high concept within Speed is sort of action movie genius, especially for the 90s. It’s engaging from its opening moments taking place in an elevator shaft, and remains tense throughout its runtime. The pacing is fierce, aside from its final 15 minutes, it’s perfectly paced. It is breathlessly energetic and intense, and there’s a lot of escalating suspense throughout, never letting you stop for a moment to catch your breath. It drags the audience from one disaster to the next, engaged in such a confined environment. The last act isn’t quite as strong as the first two acts, but it was entertaining enough. It’s definitely a 90s action flick, and with that comes all the typical cheese that similar movies have. This isn’t exactly an intellectually challenging feature, but it was never expected to be that. It fully commits to its ridiculous premise and that’s what makes it both charming and exciting. The dialogue is goofy but quotable nonetheless, and the characters are very cliché but still work well for this movie. Sometimes things happen that don’t make sense as to be expected. Physics and realism aside, the motivations of the villain are kind of shoddy and aren’t really that fleshed out for example. However it’s entertaining enough that it makes up for any problems you might have with the plot. It’s also a very rewatchable movie.

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Everyone gives the exact kind of performance you expect from them. The characters are all stereotypes but it doesn’t matter that much, and the actors are all good in their parts. The role of lead character Jack is right for Keanu Reeves, cocky and impulsive, but smart and engaging. Sandra Bullock also does very well here in her part, she and Reeves have some great on screen chemistry in this movie. Dennis Hopper plays the villain, while the character himself isn’t that great, Hopper is effectively chewing every scene he’s in. He makes the character feel crazy yet threatening and in control with all these bombs scenarios he set up.

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Jan de Bont directs this movie incredibly well. There are so many memorable action sequences, de Bont knows how to keep the tension at a high level throughout. It’s impressive how many different set pieces he’s able to pack into just one location. The opening on its own, the elevator sequence, was a great way of introducing the audience to the kind of tension they’ll be feeling for the rest of the movie. But of course it’s the majority of the movie taking place on the bus that’s so impressive, with some insane practical stunts. The editing is effectively tight, and the intense score from Mark Mancina is memorable and fits the movie well.

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Speed is pure high energy action cinema at its finest, and a near pitch perfect 90s summer blockbuster. It’s not only influential and iconic for its time, even today it still entertains and thrills with a simple and over the top yet effective script and plot, likable and memorable characters and acting, and impressive direction. I recommend checking it out if you haven’t already.

Bill and Ted Face the Music (2020) Review

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Bill & Ted Face the Music

Time: 91 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]  Violence & coarse language
Cast:
Keanu Reeves as Theodore “Ted” Logan
Alex Winter as William S. “Bill” Preston, Esq.
Kristen Schaal as Kelly
Samara Weaving as Theadora “Thea” Preston
Brigette Lundy-Paine as Wilhelmina “Billie” Logan
William Sadler as the Grim Reaper
Anthony Carrigan as Dennis Caleb McCoy
Erinn Hayes as Princess Elizabeth Logan
Jayma Mays as Princess Joanna Preston
Hal Landon Jr. as Captain Jonathan Logan
Beck Bennett as Officer Deacon Logan
Kid Cudi as himself
Amy Stoch as Missy
Holland Taylor as The Great Leader
Jillian Bell as Dr. Taylor Wood
Director: Dean Parisot

The ruler of the future tells best friends Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) they must compose a new song to save life as we know it. But instead of writing it, they decide to travel through time to steal it from their older selves. Meanwhile, their young daughters devise their own musical scheme to help their fathers bring harmony to the universe.

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I watched the first two Bill and Ted movies (and rewatched in the case of Excellent Adventure) recently, they were quite enjoyable if flawed movies from the 80s and 90s. With the third instalment released in 2020, I was wondering about how it would be. With an almost 30 year gap since the previous movie, I had no idea how it would turn out, especially as those movies felt like they were very much of their time. Bill & Ted Face of the Music actually turned out to be pretty good, and better than I was expecting.

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There is a worry about reboots (even though it’s the third instalment here), especially with franchises where the last movies came out a long time ago. You’d expect that it would just retread familiar territory and be a cash grab ultimately. However it captures the charm of Bill & Ted, while providing enough stuff to make it fresh and unique on it’s own right instead of just rehashing the first two movies. It not only delivers on the original’s heart and spirit, it also pushes the story further, more than I expected it. It keeps the DNA of the original two movies intact but have an incredibly heartfelt story to go with it. Like with the past movies, they are at the right length at 90 minutes, is very fast paced, and it just really works well. It’s also got quite a lot of good humour that works quite well.

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Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves reprise their iconic roles of Bill & Ted, and even after nearly 30 years later, they still have the charisma and chemistry which made the characters so great in the first place. They aren’t the only main characters in this movie, there’s also Samara Weaving and Bridgette Lundy-Paine who play Bill & Ted’s daughters. Their dynamic was also great and they embody that same spirit of their fathers, and it’s great when they are all together onscreen. William Sadler return as Death from Bogus Journey, once again he stole every scene he was in. The rest of the cast are good too, Anthony Carrigan was also a standout among the supporting cast.

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Bill & Ted Face the Music is directed by Dean Parisot, the direction is serviceable and is good enough for the movie to work. The visual effects in the first two movies weren’t that good, and that’s mostly because of it being the 80s and 90s so they can still be enjoyable in a cheesy sort of way. While the effects here are a little better, they are a bit average, and the colour palette overall is rather drab and boring at times. The composed music is also rather standard blockbuster music, which pales in contrast to the previous soundtracks.

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Bill & Ted Face the Music was quite enjoyable for me, capturing the charm and fun of the first two movies while feeling updated for today in all the right ways. If you didn’t like any of the other Bill & Ted movies, it’s not worth checking out. However as someone who does like the movies, I was pleasantly surprised by it, it really was a fitting conclusion to this trilogy. If you haven’t watched any of the Bill & Ted movies, I at least recommend giving Excellent Adventure a viewing, it’s a classic for a reason.

Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991) Review

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Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey

Time: 93 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] contains coarse language
Cast:
Keanu Reeves as Ted “Theodore” Logan/Evil Ted
Alex Winter as William S. “Bill” Preston/Evil Bill
William Sadler as Death
Joss Ackland as Chuck De Nomolos
George Carlin as Rufus
Director: Pete Hewitt

Two robots Evil Bill (Alex Winter) and Evil Ted (Keanu Reeves) are sent by Chuck De Nomolos (Joss Ackland) to the 20th century where they try to stop their doppelgangers Bill and Ted respectively from winning a band competition.

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Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is known as an 80s classic, I had known for a while that a sequel titled Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey existed but I didn’t really know anything about it, nor did I watch it until now. All I knew about it was that it had something to do with the Grim Reaper. This has to be one of the craziest and out there follow ups to a classic, and while the reception has been a bit mixed, I did enjoy it.

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Having watched Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, it’s pretty hard to imagine what a sequel would be aside from just a repeat of the first movie. The movie ditches the earnest cheese in favour of outright weirdness. It doesn’t go back to the time travel elements of the first movie and goes in a completely different direction. From the moment it introduces evil robots impersonating Bill & Ted, you can tell it is a completely different kind of movie from the first, and then there’s the grim reaper and hell stuff and much more. It is worth noting that the original title for Bogus Journey was Bill & Ted Go to Hell, which would’ve been a fairly honest title for the film. The movie is chaotic, bizarre at times and deals with much darker stuff compared to Excellent Journey. In fact, I kind of admire how out there the movie is. It really embraces how wacky and dumb its premise is, much like the first movie. The plot itself is okay, like with the first movie there isn’t much to it. It is predictable but entertaining. At times the film skates close to meandering territory a few times and it doesn’t make sense (again like the first movie). At a certain point some alien characters are introduced out of nowhere and become involved with the plot, and they don’t fit into the plot at all. It’s almost as if they were added to compensate for the lack of a huge cast of characters. They really didn’t need that, Bill & Ted as well as the Grim Reaper were enough. Bogus Journey is also not as iconic or streamlined as the first film, and maybe it’s because Excellent Adventure is a flat out classic, but the sequel isn’t quite as memorable, despite its weirdness. Nonetheless, maybe it’s because I went into it not knowing anything, but I found it funny, inventive, creative, and all around entertaining.

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Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves return as Bill & Ted respectively, and once play their iconic roles very well and they share some great chemistry. They also act well as the evil robotic versions of Bill & Ted. William Sadler plays Death, and he was one of the standouts in this movie, he’s hilarious. Playing as the Grim Reaper, he starts out being rather uptight but grows as a character when he meets Bill and Ted. George Carlin like in the previous movie isn’t in the movie enough, but was great in the scenes he was in. The main villain played by Joss Ackland is pretty weak and doesn’t have much of a motivation, he’s just sort of there to set the plot into motion.

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The first film was directed by Stephen Herek, this time it is Peter Hewitt who is directing. Now it’s definitely because of how crazy the movie is but the direction here impressed me more than the first movie’s. Whereas Excellent Adventure is very much an 80s movies, Bogus Journey is very much a 90s movie, and the costumes, makeup and song choices are fitting. The CGI can look pretty bad, especially the green screen moments. Some sequences work really well, especially the hell and nightmare scenes. Those hell/nightmare moments particularly looked like they were right out of a Tim Burton movie, which in this case is a compliment. The locations in the movie were a lot more creative and unique than its predecessor, and a lot of the sets were quite stylised.

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Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey is a flawed yet bizarre and entertaining movie. I like the second quite a lot because of how weird it is, but overall I think that Excellent Adventure is a more well put together, straight forward and less movie. All in all, even if I didn’t like it, I would’ve respected and appreciated it anyways for trying to do something different instead of just repeating the same notes of the predecessor. I’m interested to see what Bill & Ted Face the Music turns out to be, especially as it’s made 3 decades after Bogus Journey.

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1988) Review

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Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure

Time: 90 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Keanu Reeves as Ted “Theodore” Logan
Alex Winter as Bill S. Preston, Esq.
George Carlin as Rufus
Terry Camilleri as Napoleon Bonaparte
Dan Shor as Billy the Kid
Tony Steedman as Socrates
Rod Loomis as Sigmund Freud
Al Leong as Genghis Khan
Jane Wiedlin as Joan of Arc
Robert V. Barron as Abraham Lincoln
Clifford David as Ludwig van Beethoven
Hal Landon Jr. as Captain Jonathan Logan
Bernie Casey as Mr. Ryan
Director: Stephen Herek

Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) are high school buddies starting a band. However, they are about to fail their history class, which means Ted would be sent to military school. They receive help from Rufus (George Carlin), a traveler from a future where their band is the foundation for a perfect society. With the use of Rufus’ time machine, Bill and Ted travel to various points in history, returning with important figures to help them complete their final history presentation.

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I watched the first Bill and Ted a long time ago in history class in school, I remember it being quite silly yet fun. With the third movie out this year, I decided to watch the first two movies of the trilogy beforehand. Having seen Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure again, I don’t think it is great or anything, and it definitely has its problems. However it is very entertaining, and a cult classic for sure.

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At 90 minutes long, Excellent Adventure is quite fun to watch, it definitely helps that the movie is very fast paced. One of the things that I was guessing going back into this rewatch was that it probably hasn’t aged very well, and for a large part that’s the case. There are some elements that don’t hold up especially today (it’s very much a movie of the 80s), and some of the jokes fall flat. With that said, some of the jokes actually do still work quite well and are funny. In fact some of the jokes are so dumb that they actually kind of work. It is quite a dumb, cheesy and goofy movie, it’s really contrived and is a bit of a mess (some sequences are better than others). However it embraces that, and it’s not really a movie where you focus a lot on the action. It throws all theoretical logic of time travel out the window, and that was to the movie’s benefit for sure. It’s simple, light hearted, enjoyable and a fun time. It was particularly fun watching the historical figures interact with and react to many things in the present.

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Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves play titular characters Bill and Ted, and they are pretty much the highlights of the movie, sharing some great onscreen chemistry together. Their characters are kind of dumb but at the same time good intentioned characters, and they are quite endearing and likable. Keanu Reeves is particularly fun as Ted, in his first of many iconic roles. George Carlin also worked in his part as Rufus the time traveller (although wasn’t in the movie that much), as did the actors playing the historical figures that Bill and Ted come across.

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Stephen Herek directs this movie, and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is very much a movie of the times, that being the late 80s, especially when it comes to the soundtrack and the CGI. The CGI isn’t exactly terrible, just quite dated. Though if you go in expecting that, it’s not really a problem. I will say though that the direction is just fine but it could’ve gone a little further or stand out more than it actually did.

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Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is often known as being one of the all time best (or at least most iconic) 80s comedies for a reason. With a great cast, quotable dialogue, inventive and funny scenarios, it was quite a lot of fun and I’m glad I revisited it. While it is very much dated and isn’t anything beyond decent, I do think it’s worth watching if you haven’t seen it already. Having not seen any of the follow ups to Excellent Adventure as of yet, I’m interested to see how they turned out.

The Matrix (1999) Retrospective Review

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The Matrix

Time: 136 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Keanu Reeves as Neo
Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus
Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity
Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith
Joe Pantoliano as Cypher
Director: Lilly Wachowski and Lana Wachowski

Thomas A. Anderson (Keanu Reeves) is a man living two lives. By day he is an average computer programmer and by night a hacker known as Neo. Neo has always questioned his reality, but the truth is far beyond his imagination. Nero finds himself targeted by the police when he is contacted by Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), a legendary computer hacker branded a terrorist by the government. As a rebel against the machines, Neo must confront the agents: super powerful computer programs devoted to stopping Neo and the entire human rebellion.

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The Matrix is one of the most iconic movies of all time. Its impact is absolutely massive to say the least, influencing so many other films, it just came out of nowhere at the time. I remember that I liked it when I first watched it, however with every viewing I liked it less. I know that the fourth Matrix is in the process of made, so I knew I had to come back to re-watching the original trilogy. Having rewatched The Matrix more recently, I can say that it’s still pretty good, even if I’m not exactly a big fan of it.

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I’m writing this review with the assumption that you’ve actually seen The Matrix. If you haven’t seen it, basically just go and watch it as soon as possible. It’s not just influential on a filmmaking level, but also on a story level. 1999 was especially a big year for films about identity, with the likes of Fight Club, American Beauty and Being John Malkovich, and that certainly extended to The Matrix. There are many philosophical ideas and themes and it has been analysed to death, so I won’t get into it here. There are some parts of it which I find a bit silly (like some of the overt religious metaphors which are just a little too obvious) but they don’t take me out of the experience too much. The first half is introducing to the real world, with lead character Thomas Anderson AKA Neo being our eyes as he learns about everything. I can’t say this with certainty, but I’m pretty sure that it did the best job possible at introducing these things to the audience, however there’s no doubt that not everyone will understand the concepts of the movie. I will say that watching it again, it does sort of drag, especially knowing where the story is leading (on top of Neo just not being a particularly interesting character and we are stuck with him for the entirety of the movie). The second half and particularly the third act is where it ramps up the action and it becomes entertaining. There are some really dumb moments in that second half, but I was fine with most of it.

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Keanu Reeves before 1999 been known as an actor for roles in movies like Speed, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Point Break. However, it was his role of Neo that launched his career even further. I’m a big fan of Keanu Reeves, but to put it bluntly, his here performance is bland, and even people who like the movie usually agree on that. Now some have made the argument that it was done so that the audience can picture themselves in his role. I can get that idea, but it doesn’t change him being a particularly uninteresting character to watch. Carrie Anne Moss as her character of Trinity was also sort of bland, mainly with her line deliveries. I know that she can act better from other things that she’s been in, but here she’s almost as bland as Keanu was, and I’m not exactly sure why. Even the other characters in the movie came across as more human than those two. The romance between the two is absolutely laughable. I don’t recall it being much better in the sequels, but at least they interacted with each other more. There are hints throughout the first movie that Trinity likes Neo and he sort of likes her back (I think at least, I didn’t pick that up from Keanu’s performance), but aside from the scene where they first meet up, they don’t interact all that much until the third act. At the end, basically after Neo dies after being shot multiple times by Agent Smith, Trinity in a way saves him basically with “the power of love”. It’s a silly scene in itself, but the lack of an actual believable romance makes it all the more worse. Laurence Fishburne is great as Morpheus, he does have a lot of moments where it gives a lot of philosophical word dumps, but he delivers them quite well. Hugo Weaving is iconic as Agent Smith, and it’s all to do with his performance. There’s nothing really much to say about the rest of the cast. Joe Pantaliano is the obvious betrayer, and the other members of the crew on the ship aren’t memorable and disposable, and you don’t really get to know them at all.

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The Wachowski Sisters did a really good job directing this. There are some truly revolutionary sequences that inspired so many other films and imitators, its immense level of influence cannot be overstated. People have made fun of the green tint when it comes to the scenes that take place The Matrix, but it does add some uniqueness to them. Not all the effects hold up, but it doesn’t affect the viewing experience too much, most of it is fine, and no doubt was fantastic for its time. You can tell often that it was the 90s with the use of the slow mo, and some of the music choices. The action is fantastic, endlessly entertaining, and the stuntwork is great.

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The Matrix has its issues, not all of the story and characters worked for me, and I had some problems throughout. However, it is entertaining at many points, well made and directed despite some dated elements, and I appreciate it quite a bit, especially the impact it had made. It’s not a movie that I’m exactly wanting to return back to often, but it is absolutely essential viewing.

Street Kings (2008) Review

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Street Kings

Time: 95 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence & Offensive Language
Cast:
Keanu Reeves as Detective 2nd Grade Tom Ludlow
Hugh Laurie as Captain James Biggs
Chris Evans as Detective Paul “Disco” Diskant
Forest Whitaker as Captain Jack Wander
Naomie Harris as Linda Washington
John Corbett as Detective Dante Demille
Cedric the Entertainer as Winston AKA “Scribble”
Jay Mohr as Sergeant Michael “Mike” Clady
Terry Crews as Detective 2nd Grade Terrence Washington
Common as “Coates”
The Game as Grill
Director: David Ayer

Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves), a veteran member of the LAPD, is still mourning the loss of his wife and trying to navigate through a world that does not make much sense anymore. When evidence implicates him in the death of a fellow officer, Ludlow begins to question the loyalties of everyone around him.

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I went into Street Kings not really knowing what to expect, despite the cast and the director. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that David Ayer is a hit or miss filmmaker given there’s only one movie of his I don’t really like, but only a couple of his movies I would consider great. Street Kings is by no means a great movie and it’s not really that great, but I had fun with it, and it was better than I expected it to be.

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Street Kings is a standard crime thriller movie featuring dirty cops and police corruption, you’ve seen many of these types of movies, and many that have been done much better for sure (like L.A. Confidential or the David Ayer written Training Day). The writing is not the best, some of the characters are rather 2 dimensional, the first act was messy, some of the dialogue is just rather silly, and while I wouldn’t call the plot predictable, it was quite familiar. To be fair on Ayer’s part however, he didn’t actually write the script to this movie. With all that being said, Street Kings is reasonably entertaining for what it is, and doesn’t really have a dull moment (aside from the aforementioned first act). The plot wasn’t entirely riveting, but it was engaging enough for me to pay attention to everything that was happening right to the very end. It was around an hour and 50 minutes, and that was just about the right length for the movie.

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This movie actually has a pretty good cast all around. Keanu Reeves is in one of his more grittier and darker roles as the protagonist, and he performs pretty well. His character is yet another antihero alcoholic police detective who is a loose cannon who does his job his own way, and he doesn’t play by the rules, so nothing really new especially when it comes to crime thrillers. But Reeves does his part, and as to be expected, he excels in the action scenes. The supporting cast that includes Forest Whitaker, Chris Evans (who especially shares some good on screen chemistry with Keanu), and Naomie Harris all play their parts well. Hugh Laurie is also good in his scenes as the Captain of Internal Affairs but he’s barely in the movie, he doesn’t really do much by the end of the story, so his inclusion felt rather pointless.

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You can definitely tell that it’s a David Ayer movie from beginning to end, and overall it was directed pretty well. When it comes to gritty crime stories, Ayer is pretty good at representing that side in movies, and Street Kings is no exception. This is an action movie, and the action is filmed really well and stylish, with some entertaining set pieces. So at the very least, it’s worth watching just as an action movie.

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Street Kings is nothing special or memorable and it does have a number of issues for sure, but it was rather entertaining and much better than I thought it would be (at least compared to some of the reactions to it that I saw). It is elevated by David Ayer’s direction, some solid performances from the talented cast and featured some really good action. So it might be worth a watch if you’re interested in it.

 

Toy Story 4 (2019) Review

Time: 103 Minutes
Age Rating:
Cast:
Tom Hanks as Woody
Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear
Annie Potts as Bo Peep
Tony Hale as Forky
Keegan-Michael Key as Ducky
Jordan Peele as Bunny
Madeleine McGraw as Bonnie
Christina Hendricks as Gabby Gabby
Keanu Reeves as Duke Caboom
Ally Maki as Giggle McDimples
Jay Hernandez as Bonnie’s dad
Lori Alan as Bonnie’s mom
Joan Cusack as Jessie
Director: Josh Cooley

Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang embark on a road trip with Bonnie and a new toy named Forky. The adventurous journey turns into an unexpected reunion as Woody’s slight detour leads him to his long-lost friend Bo Peep. As Woody and Bo discuss the old days, they soon start to realize that they’re worlds apart when it comes to what they want from life as a toy.

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Toy Story 4 was a movie I think everyone wasn’t sure how to feel about when it was announced years ago. 9 years ago, we had a perfect conclusion to the series and so it’s difficult to think of a way it could’ve possibly been ended any better. It didn’t help that everything from the trailer just looked like a generic, random and pointless adventure with the familiar characters. So outside of the positive reviews, I wasn’t expecting much going into the movie. To my surprise however, they actually managed to pull it off.

From the trailer Toy Story 4 just looked like a simple adventure, and it is that but it’s pretty entertaining. It doesn’t have a scene even coming close to the incinerator scene in 3 in terms of intensity or emotion. 4 overall feels more like a quieter epilogue taking place after the large scale and epic third act with 3. It has pretty much all that you’d expect from a Toy Story movie, it’s genuinely funny and emotional, and once again works for both children and adults, while not dumbing things down for kids at all. It even has some parts that adults will only pick up, both in terms of story and comedy. They even somehow managed to sneak in a music cue reference to The Shining. It also has a surprisingly fitting end, even more so than Toy Story 3. There’s always ways of bringing back movies for the series, but the way it ends makes it feel like it is final, and it I can’t think of a better way of the series to end.

Much of the main toys that we are familiar with are sidelined, only Woody and Buzz get substantial amounts of screentime. Woody (Tom Hanks) as a character is one of the best parts of each of the Toy Story movies and the 4th movie is no exception. It really focuses on him being sort of a father figure to the character of Forky, and it really shows how far he’s come since the first movie. I’m not exactly on board with what they did with Buzz (Tim Allen) in this movie. He became much less smart, and it wouldn’t be so bad if it was after the first Toy Story, but Toy Story 2 and 3 have established him as a smart leader (even in the first film when he believe he was a space ranger he was smarter than he was here). So it was a step backward for him as a character when he just really didn’t know what he was doing a lot of the time. Bo Peep (Annie Potts) in Toy Story 1 and 2 was just sort of there at the beginning and end of the movies and didn’t get to do anything, in 3 she was completely absent. However in 4, she plays a major role and gets far more to do here. Other than those 3 characters, the newer characters are highlighted more as well. Tony Hale plays Forky, the movie completely surrounds him. In seeing the trailers, I really feel like I wouldn’t like him at all, he seemed like he could’ve been easily annoying. However he surprisingly worked really well, and was certainly something fresh, we’ve seen new toys introduced but not one that was just created. I will say though that it feels like he’s reduced to a plot device in the second half of the movie. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele play a couple of plushies and their great comedic duo extends to animation form as well, they were among the funniest characters of the movie. Keanu Reeves voices Duke Caboom, a Canadian stunt driver toy and is about as great as you’d expect it to be. Christina Hendricks as Gabby Gabby who plays the closest thing to a villain in this movie, and some things happen with her character that you might not initially expect.

With every Toy Story movie, the quality of the animation increases immensely, and 4 is no exception. As an example, you might remember from Toy Story 3 that there was a flashback scene of Lotso that involved the rain, it looked incredibly realistic. Toy Story 4 opens with scene in the rain, and it looks borderline photorealistic. It’s an absolutely stunning looking movie from beginning to end. A lot of the familiar music heard in the series also reappear here, once again done by Randy Newman.

Toy Story 4 isn’t among the best in the series but it’s still surprisingly good and works as a final conclusion. Everything from the characters (for the most part), the animation, to the writing, the comedy and more is here. If you liked the other Toy Story movies, you should definitely check it out, even if you’re sceptical about it.