Tag Archives: Keanu Reeves

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.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019) Review

Time: 131 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence and offensive language
Cast:
Keanu Reeves as John Wick
Ian McShane as Winston
Mark Dacascos as Zero
Laurence Fishburne as the Bowery King
Asia Kate Dillon as the Adjudicator of the High Table.
Halle Berry as Sofia
Lance Reddick as Charon
Anjelica Huston as the Director
Director: Chad Stahelski

After gunning down a member of the High Table — the shadowy international assassin’s guild — legendary hit man John Wick finds himself stripped of the organization’s protective services. Now stuck with a $14 million bounty on his head, Wick must fight his way through the streets of New York as he becomes the target of the world’s most ruthless killers.

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John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum was one of my most anticipated films of 2019. John Wick was a surprise hit upon its release back in 2014, no one expected it to be as great as it was, but with the action scenes, along with Keanu Reeves’s great turn as the titular character, it all really worked. Chapter 2 showed that the first movie wasn’t just a fluke, and continued the story and expanded the lore even further. And now, John Wick Chapter 3 has cemented this trilogy as one of the all time best action trilogies.

Chapter 3 picks up right after the previous film, with John on the run. It is more of a straightforward action movie, but at the same time leave some room to expand the lore and Wick’s story, and these scenes aren’t just used as breathing room between the scenes. The lore is one of the highlights of these movies and the expanding of it didn’t disappoint. Story-wise I feel like nothing could top the first movie because of how personal it is for the main character, whereas in Chapters 2 and 3 he’s forced into situations, in the first movie it’s a decision that he returns to his old life. That’s not to say however that every John Wick post the first movie has a weak story, Chapter 3’s story is actually handled quite well, at over 2 hours long it had my attention from start to finish. By the end I was on board with however long they want to make this series, I’ll be there watching every single one of them.

At this point I don’t think it’s controversial in the slightest to say that John Wick is Keanu Reeves’s role. Of course, everyone knows that he can do the action well, but on a performance level he’s also really good. There is this inner darkness and drive that you can see within him, it’s subtle but he conveys so well. Some cast members from the previous movies also make their appearance and all really add to the movie, particularly Laurence Fishburne as the Bowery King, Ian McShane as Winston and Lance Reddick as Charon, they all work well. I also liked the additions, with the shining example being Halle Berry. She’s not in the movie as much as you’d think but she makes the most of the screentime that she does have, demonstrating that her character is at least on par with John Wick. I hope we get to see more of her in a sequel or something similar. Asia Kate Dillon plays the Adjudicator sent by the High Table, who meant to represent them. Unlike the rest of the supporting cast, she comes across as feeling a little weaker but I guess with how she’s written there’s not a whole lot that she could really do in the role. Faring much better as an antagonist is Mark Dacascos as Zero, the main assassin sent after Wick (and is probably the main villain of the movie). He was threatening, entertaining and all around worked perfectly for the movie, especially as a threat to John.

Chad Stahelski like with the past two movie directs this well. The action scenes as to be expected are great, no close up, shaky cam or quick cut editing that plagues some modern action movies, you can clearly see what’s going on and it’s all choreographed really well. The body count is tripled from the previous movies. If you thought that Wick killing people with a pencil was impressive, just wait till you see what he does in the opening scenes. With there being even more action than the past two movies, this could’ve resulted in some action fatigue but Stahelski and co. manage to bypass this by keeping each action scene fresh, with different environments and situations (yes, John Wick even rides a horse at one point). If there’s one small gripe I had with what I watched, its that certain action scenes felt like they went for a little too long, as much as I liked them. The movie like the previous two manage to show off John Wick as clearly being a lot more capable than most of the people he’s up against while making it seem like he could die and isn’t invincible. There are some moments in Chapter 3 where it does feel like he’s invincible but for the most part it’s handled well. Chapter 2 was stunning looking and that continues into Chapter 3, it’s not surprising that both films have the same cinematographer. Tyler Bates’s score works perfectly with the John Wick series, so glad he returned for the third movie, it just elevates everything to a new level.

John Wick Chapter 3 lives up to all the hype and surpassed it, I loved the story and the expansion of the world and lore, and of course Keanu Reeves delivers as always as the now iconic titular character. This, as well as Mad Max Fury Road and Mission Impossible Fallout are some of the most overwhelming cinema experiences I’ve had with regard to action movies. I’m completely on board for this series, I can’t wait to see more of John Wick, the rest of the characters and more of this world.

John Wick Chapter 2 (2017) Review

Time: 122 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence and suicide
Cast:
Keanu Reeves as John Wick
Riccardo Scamarcio as Santino D’Antonio
Common as Cassian
Laurence Fishburne as The Bowery King
Ruby Rose as Ares
John Leguizamo as Aurelio
Ian McShane as Winston
Director: Chad Stahelski

Retired super-assassin John Wick’s (Keanu Reeves) plans to resume a quiet civilian life are cut short when Italian gangster Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) shows up on his doorstep with a gold marker, compelling him to repay past favors. Ordered by Winston (Ian McShane), kingpin of secret assassin society The Continental, to respect the organization’s ancient code, Wick reluctantly accepts the assignment to travel to Rome to take out D’Antonio’s sister (Claudia Gerini), the ruthless capo atop the Italian Camorra crime syndicate.

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John Wick Chapter 2 was one of my most anticipated movies of 2017. The original John Wick was great, with its fantastic direction, interesting world and likable main character. So naturally, with one of the directors of the original returning for the sequel, I was looking forward to it. Chapter 2 met all my expectations and even surpassed them. It explored its world even further, its action sequences are even greater than in the original, John Wick Chapter 2 is one of the best action sequels in recent memory.

John Wick Chapter 2 is longer than the original, 2 hours compared to the original’s 1 hour 40 minute runtime. A lot of that is due to Chapter 2 delving deeper into the criminal underworld, which was one of the highlights in the previous movie. There’s a way that these criminals operate and seeing more of the fantastic world created was very intriguing. If there’s any potential flaws story wise, I guess maybe Wick’s motivation isn’t quite as strong as in the first movie, in the original it was for revenge, in the second he’s more forced into a situation. With that said, it’s a bit of a minor issue. Chapter 2 is paced quite well, although pretty fast, it’s slow enough that it allows time for the movie to explore the story and the world. I won’t spoil what happens at the end, but I’ll say that I’m very intrigued in what direction Chapter 3 will go in.

Keanu Reeves is effortlessly great as John Wick, as I said in my John Wick review, this role is perfect for him. He can show off his skill as an action star while being convincing and show a lot of emotion in the role. And this movie is no exception. There are a lot of great supporting characters and actors, some of them returning like Ian McShane, Lance Reddick and John Leguizamo, McShane particularly stealing the spotlight effortlessly. There are also some newer characters that are added which were great to see. I would’ve liked to have seen more of Laurence Fishburne (it did feel like he was put in the movie for fanservice, since him and Reeves were in The Matrix), but maybe we’ll see more of him in the sequel. The same goes for Peter Stormare’s character. The main villain played by Riccardo Scamarcio was okay. He didn’t leave as much of a presence compared to Michael Nyqvist’s Viggo from the first movie, but he wasn’t bad, he worked quite well for the story and I do understand some of the ideas that were put into place with his character. The secondary villains with Common and Ruby Rose were really good and served their parts really well.

The direction of Chapter 2 is once again fantastic. There are so many great action set pieces, not one of them have any flaws and they are all consistently entertaining. They are fast, brutal and thrilling. The third act was especially great (including a sequence involving mirrors). The stunts themselves were also incredible. Another thing that makes these action sequences work so well is that everything is edited to perfection, every cut made is necessary and you can tell what’s going on, the camera doesn’t unnecessarily shake. The colour scheme of the movie is perfect, this movie is beautiful, the cinematography was excellent throughout. Honestly for the movie that they were going for, the direction is perfect. The soundtrack by Tyler Bates was also very effective.

John Wick Chapter 2 is truly a great movie. All the aspects from the previous movie have returned, with the great main character, excellent direction and its fascinating world. Chapter 2 expands on most of these aspects, culminating in a film which is quite possibly superior to the original. I can’t wait to see Chapter 3 in about 2/3 years. The John Wick series is one of the best action film series’ in recent years.

John Wick (2014) Review

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Time: 101 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence & offensive language
Cast:
Keanu Reeves as John Wick
Michael Nyqvist as Viggo Tarasov
Alfie Allen as Iosef Tarasov
Adrianne Palicki as Ms. Perkins
Bridget Moynahan as Helen Wick
Dean Winters as Avi
Ian McShane as Winston
John Leguizamo as Aurelio
Willem Dafoe as Marcus
Director: Chad Stahelski, David Leitch

After the sudden death of his beloved wife, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) receives one last gift from her, a beagle puppy named Daisy, and a note imploring him not to forget how to love. But John’s mourning is interrupted when his 1969 Boss Mustang catches the eye of sadistic thug Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen) who breaks into his house and steals it, beating John unconscious and leaving Daisy dead. Unwittingly, they have just reawakened one of the most brutal assassins the underworld has ever seen.

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With the sequel coming sometime soon, I thought I should give my thoughts on the original John Wick. John Wick was one of the most surprising movies of 2014. It wasn’t just a standard Keanu Reeves action flick, it was actually something special, garnering a strong reception and following. It is an entertaining and thrilling action movie.

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The story really isn’t anything special. It’s a revenge story, just with the main character being a former hitman. It’s the execution of the story that makes this movie work so well. The story is set out well, the pace never feeling too fast or too long. The world of John Wick is one of the stand out parts of the movie (which is saying a lot). The world is absolutely incredible and interesting, laid out well. I can’t wait to see how the sequel explores this world. This movie is engaging and riveting, it really never lost my attention once.

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This is the best Keanu Reeves has ever been in a movie (it’s also probably the best movie that Keanu Reeves has ever been in). He is really is believable in this role, and not just in the action scenes, he does actually act well in this movie, he’s not just playing Keanu Reeves like he has in certain other movies. It really does help that Keanu Reeves does his own stunts, it is much easier to buy him as this character. The supporting performances were also great. Michael Nyqvust was quite effective as the main villain as Iosef’s father (and a mob boss), completely owning every scene he’s in. Also, Willem Dafoe, Alfie Allen, Ian McShane and even John Leguizamo were good in their roles (however I would’ve liked if we saw more of Willem Dafoe).

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The action is absolutely fantastic. It doesn’t have a lot of shaky cam or unnecessary quick cuts like most action movies nowadays have. The stunt work was also fantastic (it helps with both directors being stunt men), the fights are intense and don’t feel fake at all. Another thing I liked was that although John Wick is incredibly good at what he does, he’s still human, he doesn’t always win perfectly against people just because he’s John Wick. That makes the action a lot more riveting, he’s not just Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando or something. In terms of the standout action scene, there’s a sequence that takes place in a nightclub (which reminded me of the nightclub scene in Collateral). In terms of flaws, I guess maybe the last action sequence was slightly underwhelming but that’s probably because everything else in the film was so great that it just paled in comparison.

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John Wick has a fantastic world, solid performances, entertaining action, everything you want from an action movie. As I said, the concept of the story itself is nothing special, it’s the execution that makes this film so excellent. If you haven’t already, definitely see John Wick when you can, especially before seeing the sequel which comes out (or already came out depending where you are in the world).