Spider-man: No Way Home

Spider-man: No Way Home ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Director: Jon Watts. Stars:Tom HollandZendayaBenedict Cumberbatch 

The fact that this film even exists is not just the closest thing to a ‘miracle’ for any superhero fan (and for a Spiderman freak like me, this is pretty much a childhood dream come true), but it also shows the power that the Marvel Machine has these days: basically they can do anything they want.They had already proven themselves with the humongous “Avengers: endgame” in 2019 in which they were able to put together one of the greatest cast ever assembled, raking them up from more than 10 years of previous films, into a very satisfying epic finale.As it happened, it ended up being the most successful film in cinema history with a massive $2.8 billion gross worldwide (only to be beaten again by James Cameron who, like a sore loser, decided to re-release Avatar in China, thus adding enough money to get to 2.85 billion and pass its adversary). Wherever you stand on the “Marvel franchise” debate, one has to bow to such numbers. With this latest Spider-man (latest, but certainly not the last: mark my words, this is going to make a fortune and we’ll see more of Tom Holland in the suit) they went even further by creating a real crowd-pleaser which celebrates twenty years of the Spiderman legacy at the movies and brings this trilogy to a great conclusion.Needless to say, your appreciation for “No Way Home” will very much depend on how fond (and knowledgeable) you are about ALL the previous films: there are so many “call-backs”, “Easter eggs” and “winks” that the geek inside me was on over-drive and was just having the time of his life. It is of course one that plays to the fans, and one wonders what it’ll do to the average moviegoer, but hey, how many of those are left these days anyway?If this is what’s needed to get people back in the cinema, well please, give me more of this! It’s very hard to talk about this film without giving away some BIG spoilers (even if some of those are possibly the worst kept secrets in movie history), but it’s a film that starts on top gear and hardly slows down. However, beyond the spectacular fights, the astonishing visual effects, the vertiginous swings across New York and overall sense of fun that bursts from every frame of this film, the moments that I will remember more than anything else were actually the most intimate ones. There are some truly heartbreaking scenes in this film, including a poignant ending which will leave you wanting to see Spiderman 4 as soon as possible. Tom Holland is once again a very likeable presence, showing not just his charisma, but also his vulnerability and playing on the fact that he is actually very young superhero (in fact the youngest of all the actors who previously played the character). In the end, while this might not be the best Spiderman movie out there (That trophy still belongs to Raimi’s 2nd film with Tobey Maguire in my view), this was certainly the most enjoyable experience I’ve had in the cinema in years. And apparently I wasn’t the only one to feel that: there were a couple of moments in the (packed) auditorium where I was, when the whole crowd exulted and screamed with happiness, clapping and cheering at the screen, like I have hardly ever seen or heard before. If this isn’t the joy of watching a film with an audience in the cinema, then what is?4 stars as a film, but 5 (and more) as an experience with a crowd of people (hopefully Covid-free)

The Matrix Resurrections

The Matrix Resurrections ⭐⭐

Director: Lana Wachowski. Cast: Keanu ReevesCarrie-Anne MossYahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Jada Pinkett Smith

First of all I should say right ahead that I regard the original Matrix as one of those rare game-changers in sci-fi and in cinema history: a genre defying which only comes once in a decade (or even two decades!). A smart and beautifully crafted film which combined spectacular visuals, cracking action and groundbreaking special effects and left and endurable mark on cinema and pop culture to this day.And because, like everybody else, I was obviously let down by the frankly inferior sequels from the noughties, the news of the a new film, had filled me with a sense of trepidation but also hope that it would be able to do justice to the legacy left by the original.“

Matrix: Resurrection” is naturally very aware of what came before and spends most of the first half retreading moments from the first film, copying them (though I guess, they would prefer if I said “paying homage to them”) desperately trying to re-evoke that atmosphere that made the original so special.This is of course just the latest (and surely not the last) of a series of recently released films that seems to be fueled by that sense of nostalgia for the source. Just in the last few weeks we’ve had “Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Spiderman: No way Home”.

Director Lana Wachowski (this time directing solo, without the sibling Lilly) knows too well why we are here and what we are craving for. She’s aware of our feelings towards the previous sequels too and she even tries to admit their inferiority by having people actually saying it in the film: “They took something that was so dear to people and turned it in something trivial” somebody utters at some point. After all “Nothing comfort anxiety like a little nostalgia” (another line from the film, yes, it is that meta!), so who cares if all this feels a bit redundant?Unfortunately while the latest Spiderman showed the whole world how you can take that nostalgia and love for what came before and ride with it, without taking yourself too seriously and produce one of the most entertaining popcorn-film of the last few years, this Matrix reboot (or re-hash…or sequel… or whatever you want to call it), doesn’t quite know what to do with that legacy, other than constantly quoting itself, making sure we know it’s doing it in a very self-aware way, just to avoid criticism. But this over-referencing and meta nature of the film is obviously a double-edged sword, which only served to remind me how fresh, mysterious and original the first film was.

And so, Lana Wachowski gets lost in endless scenes where people are literally sitting in front of each other trying to explain the film to us in a series on semi-unintelligible Mumbo-Jumbo dialogue. And yet, despite all those efforts, I have to confess I still don’t quite understand what happens in the film or how was it possible that Neo (Keanu Reeves) was still alive and why some people are played by other actors (other than the fact that some of the actors just did not want to return: something even more disappointing coming after the huge reunion from the latest Spiderman, once again). All that convoluted, unintelligible, and frankly rather uninteresting exposition, drenched in clichés and pompous lines, delivered with an air of self-importance (and a little bit of “echo” to make sure it could resonate even more), wouldn’t be the worst thing in the film if at least the action made up for it. But that’s where I found the film even more disappointing.

The lack any original ideas was staggering. Aside from the constantly recycled imagery and concepts from the previous films (blue/red pill, fluid mirrors, bull-time shots, lots of shooting ), the film does really nothing new.As for the action itself, I was astonished by how pedestrian it felt, both it its choreography, its staging and its film-making techniques: the messy and frenetic editing, some shaky-camerawork and dark lighting tried to hide some of that, but not very successfully and so the result was apparent.

This was just not as innovative or interesting and crucially not as exciting it should have been to justify its existence.

On a positive note I have to say that I had really missed Carrie-Anne Moss and she can still hold her presence, though Keanu seemed to sleepwalk through it…

In the end The Matrix Resurrections, while it doesn’t ruin the memory of the original, it came across to me just as a desperate attempt to revive something that should have been left alone.No more please.

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