The Matrix Resurrections

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 3/8/22;
Warner;
Sci-Fi;
Box Office $37.69 million;
$19.99 DVD, $24.99 Blu-ray, $29.99 UHD DVD;
Rated ‘R’ for violence and some language.
Stars Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jonathan Groff, Jessica Henwick, Neil Patrick Harris, Jada Pinkett Smith, Priyanka Chopra Jonas.

The fourth “Matrix” movie has a lot of fun with the idea of serving as a meta-commentary on the original trilogy. When it actually has to zero in on being a “Matrix” movie, it kind of hits a wall, but at least it opens the door for more movies.

At the end of the third movie in 2003, Neo and Trinity (Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Annie Moss) seemingly sacrificed themselves to bring peace between the remnants of humanity and the machines that sought to enslave them. Resurrections opens with the idea that the original story might have been a video game created by Thomas Anderson  Reeves). Then word comes down that his gaming studios’ parent company, Warner Bros., wants a fourth “Matrix,” and will do one with or without the original creative team. This is pretty much what happened in real life when the studio starting planning for a reboot of the franchise before director Lana Wachowski and Reeves signed on. So Resurrections is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek title referencing both the return of the characters thought killed off, and the long-dormant franchise itself.

Anderson is getting therapy to deal with thoughts of his life just being a computer simulation like his games, before events similar to the opening of the “Matrix” start to unfold to once more lead him back to reality (while using flashbacks to clips from the original trilogy to hammer home the point that it’s all connected).

This leads to some lengthy exposition and a healthy dose of philosophical ruminations about the nature of consciousness and free will, since it wouldn’t be a “Matrix” movie without it. Then the second half of the film is essentially an extended sci-fi action scene to hit the reset button on the premise so that Neo and Trinity can lead a new crop of characters in the fight against the machines. However, the lack of popular legacy characters such as Laurence Fishburne’s Morpheus is likely to leave a lot of fans cold.

Matrix Resurrections is entertaining in parts and has some intriguing ideas, but if there are future sequels they will have a lot of heavy lifting to do to prove there’s still life left in the franchise beyond running in circles.

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The Blu-ray includes several behind-the-scenes featurettes, including a nine-minute video of various cast members awkwardly recapping the story of the original trilogy. In act many of the featurettes are somewhat introspective about examining the film within the context of the franchise.

The primary behind-the-scenes featurette is the 31-minute “Resurrecting the Matrix,” which delves into revisiting the franchise after 18 years and crafting the new installment to expand the mythology (described at one point as not another box in a series of boxes, but a box that encases the previous ones).

The eight-minute “Neo & Trinity: Return to the Matrix” gives Reeves and Moss a chance to reflect on their characters’ journeys and their own personal friendship. The eight-and-a-half-minute “Allies & Adversaries: The Matrix Remixed” features supporting cast members reflecting on the expansion of the franchise, while the six-minute “Matrix for Life” features more reflections on the franchise from the cast and filmmakers. The five-minute “I Still Know Kung-Fu” explores the making of some of the action scenes.

Rounding out the bonus materials are “The Matrix Reactions,” a series of nine videos totaling nearly 49 minutes in which members of the cast and production team discuss individual scenes.

Overall, the extras, with almost two hours of combined footage, present a pretty thorough examination of the making of the film.

Originally published as a streaming review Dec. 27, 2021.

‘The Matrix Resurrections’ Available for Digital Ownership Jan. 25, on Disc March 8

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release The Matrix Resurrections for premium digital ownership beginning Jan. 25, followed by a Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release March 8.

The fourth “Matrix” film follows up on the trilogy that ended in 2003, and features Keanu Reeves returning to the role of Neo as he learns about the aftermath of the war between humanity and the machines he thought he ended in the previous films, and whether his reality remains part of a computer simulation. His mission becomes to reconnect with his lost love, Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss).

The cast also includes Yahya Abdul Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Jada Pinkett Smith.

The Blu-ray and 4K editions will include several behind-the-scenes featurettes: “No One Can Be Told What The Matrix Is,” “Resurrecting The Matrix, “Neo x Trinity: Return to the Matrix,” “Allies + Adversaries: The Matrix Remixed” and “Matrix for Life.” Also included will be a series of “The Matrix Reactions” segments: “Echo Opening,” Deus Ex Machina,” “Welcome to IØ,” Bullet Time Redux,” “Morpheus vs Neo,” “Exiles Fight,” “Neo vs Smith,” “The San Fran Chase” and “The San Fran Jump.”

The DVD will include just the “Welcome to IØ” reaction.

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Keanu Reeves Sports Film ‘Hardball’ Hitting Blu-ray Sept. 21 for Its 20th Anniversary

The sports drama Hardball, starring Keanu Reeves and Diane Lane, will arrive on Blu-ray for the first time Sept. 21 from Paramount Home Entertainment for its 20th anniversary.

Directed by Brian Robbins, the film follows Conor O’Neill (Reeves), a down-on-his-luck gambler in debt to dangerous loan sharks. Desperate for cash, Conor reluctantly takes a job coaching a youth baseball team, a ragtag group of tough-talking kids from Chicago’s inner city. Secretly, Conor plans to desert the team after he wins a big bet. The kids need someone to believe in, and as Conor wrestles with his past, they start to teach him some lessons that will forever change his future — that responsibility and trust must be earned and hope can appear in the most unlikely places.

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The cast also include John Hawkes, D.B. Sweeney and Michael B. Jordan in one of his first film roles.

The Blu-ray includes the legacy bonus content, including commentary by Robbins and writer John Gatins; “The Making of Hardball”; deleted scenes; the music video “Hardball” by Lil’ Bow Wow, Lil’ Wayne, Lil’ Zane and Sammie; interstitials; and the theatrical trailer.

Speed

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 5/4/21;
20th Century;
Action;
Rated ‘R’ for violence and language.
Stars Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Dennis Hopper, Joe Morton, Jeff Daniels.

Jan de Bont’s 1994 action thriller Speed is motoring to 4K Ultra HD for the first time, and despite the old tech (ubiquitous cell phones would have changed so much in these films!), it looks like it came out yesterday. Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, whose stars both soared after this fast-paced hit, are restored as fresh-faced ingenues with a makeover by the picture upgrade.

In the film, originally released by Fox, Reeves stars as an L.A.P.D. SWAT team specialist who is sent to diffuse a bomb that a revenge-driven extortionist (Dennis Hopper) has planted on a city bus. But until he does, one of the passengers (Bullock) must keep the bus speeding through the streets of Los Angeles at more than 50 miles per hour — or the bomb will explode.

The plot of Speed is so familiar and satirized that it’s easy for forget that it is a heart-stopping thrill ride. Viewers will relish a return to the kind of pure popcorn-movie fun that existed in the 1990s before 9/11 and other dark events. Speed came out of a time when the biggest threat seemed to be a ruthless terrorist out for money, and the body count could be counted on one or two hands. The aim of this era of films was to send the viewer on a rollercoaster ride with twists and turns and, particularly in the case of Speed, accelerated action.

So, the point of Speed isn’t to think too much — plot holes and physics-defying scenes abound — but to sit back and go along for the ride. And it’s a fun ride that looks better than it has since its theatrical release due to this 4K upgrade.

Special features, which vary by product and retailer, include audio commentary by de Bont; audio commentary by writer Graham Yost and producer Mark Gordon; several making-of featurettes; extended scenes; and a Speed music video by Billy Idol.

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The commentaries by de Bont and Yost and Gordon were obviously recorded for the DVD release just after 9/11, as they make reference to the horror that recently occurred in New York City. Despite their vintage origin, the commentaries have a nostalgic feel that still rings true today, as they note that bigger threats are happening in the real world. Poking fun at some of the dialog and effects, they outwardly wonder if films like Speed will be made in the future. Viewers, too, might wax nostalgic for a time when cell phones were the size of bricks, Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves were young up-and-comers, a bunch of American strangers could actually work together, and the biggest threat was one madman, rather than many.

Netflix Developing Live-Action Movie, Anime Series Based on Keanu Reeves Comic Book

Netflix has acquired the rights to the Boom! Studios comic book BRZRKR, and will first adapt the story into a movie followed by an anime spinoff series. The action-fantasy book is created and written by Keanu Reeves and New York Times writer Matt Kindt, and illustrated by Marvel Studios artist Ron Garney, with colors by Bill Crabtree, letters by Clem Robins, and character designs and covers by Rafael Grampá.

Reeves will star in and co-produce the movie for Netflix. The actor recently completed production on Matrix 4, which will be released later this year. He will begin production on John Wick 4 this spring.

The anime series will further expand the BRZRKR universe by exploring different elements of the story. In the series, Reeves will reprise his role and voice his character.

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BRZRKR is the saga about an immortal warrior’s 80,000-year fight through the ages. The man known only as “B” is half-mortal and half-god, , cursed and compelled to violence … even at the sacrifice of his sanity. But after wandering the earth for centuries, B may have finally found a refuge — working for the U.S. government to fight the battles too violent and too dangerous for anyone else. In exchange, B will be granted the one thing he desires — the truth about his endless blood-soaked existence … and how to end it.

Boom! Studios published the first issue of the 12-issue limited series comic book on March 3. The company claims the inaugural issue has already sold over 615,000, making it the highest-selling comic book launch in almost 30 years. Boom! Studios has a first-look deal for live action and animated television series with Netflix.

‘Speed’ Racing to 4K Ultra HD May 4

Jan de Bont’s action thriller Speed will motor to 4K Ultra HD for the first time May 4, including a limited-edition exclusive Best Buy Steelbook, from Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution.

In the Fox film, Keanu Reeves stars as an L.A.P.D. SWAT team specialist who is sent to diffuse a bomb that a revenge-driven extortionist (Dennis Hopper) has planted on a city bus. But until he does, one of the passengers (Sandra Bullock) must keep the bus speeding through the streets of Los Angeles at more than 50 miles per hour — or the bomb will explode.

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Special features, which vary by product and retailer, include audio commentary by de Bont; audio commentary by Graham Yost and Mark Gordon; several making-of featurettes; extended scenes; and a Speed music video by Billy Idol.

The film, released theatrically in 1994, earned more than $350 million at the worldwide box office.

Best Buy’s ‘Speed’ 4K Steelbook

Bill & Ted Face the Music

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 11/10/20;
Warner/MGM;
Sci-Fi Comedy;
Box Office $3.4 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for some language.
Stars Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Kristen Schaal, Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Anthony Carrigan, Erinn Hayes, Jayma Mays, Holland Taylor, Kid Cudi, William Sadler, Jillian Bell, Hal Landon Jr., Beck Bennett, Amy Stoch.

The third “Bill & Ted” movie, coming 29 years after the second, turns the lengthy gap between sequels into an asset while bringing fans back into the familiar world of the franchise.

The film is something of homage to and an amalgam of the first two, which saw an emissary from the future, Rufus (played by the late George Carlin, who gets a tribute in the new film), travel back in time 700 years to put young slackers Bill and Ted (Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves) on course to bring about universal harmony with the music of their band, Wyld Stallyns.

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In the first film, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Rufus lends them a time machine in the shape of a phone booth to travel into the past to collect historical figures to pass their history report and graduate high school, assuring they can remain together. The second film, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, saw the duo the target of a future warlord who despises that society took inspiration from them. The robots he sends into the past to hunt them down succeed in killing them, but Bill and Ted are able to navigate the afterlife with the help of the Grim Reaper (William Sadler) to return to Earth, stop the robots, and win a battle of the bands on their path to superstardom.

As the third film opens, however, Bill and Ted have yet to write the song that will bring about global unity, and continue their desperate efforts to do so. Their lack of success has begun to tear the fabric of reality apart, leading to another emissary from the future, Rufus’ daughter (Kristen Schaal), to bring them a message from the Great Leader (Holland Taylor) chastising them for not fulfilling the prophecy.

Accordingly, Bill and Ted decide to visit their own future selves to try to find the song they were supposed to have written.

Meanwhile, their grown daughters Billie and Thea (Brigette Lundy-Paine and Samara Weaving), who were introduced as babies at the end of Bogus Journey, come up with a plan to go back in time to gather the greatest musicians in history to form the ultimate band to help their dads.

Meanwhile, the Great Leader re-interprets the prophecy of how Bill and Ted influence future society, and after coming to the conclusion they have to die to restore reality, sends a robot back in time to do the deed.

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Even under the direction of Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest), Face the Music can’t match the energy levels of the first two films. This isn’t that surprising, though, since the film is dealing with the central theme of trying to live up to your potential even if the ability to do so seems to have passed you by. It’s a fun adventure that should elicit and lot of warm nostalgia smiles.

The Blu-ray comes with a handful of extras, led by the film’s 43-minute Comic-Con@Home panel. Hosted by Kevin Smith, whose Jay and Silent Bob characters drew obvious inspiration from Bill and Ted, the panel features several of the stars and key filmmakers participating through Zoom to discuss the making of the film and the origins of the franchise. The fact that the physical San Diego Comic-Con had to be canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic and replaced by an online one may prove to be something of a boon to Blu-ray and DVD bonus features, as the Virtual panels are yielding a slew of neatly packaged videos ready to plop on a disc or YouTube.

The other extras aren’t so extensive, consisting of four short promotional featurettes ranging from 50 to 80 seconds each.

 

‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’ Due on Disc Nov. 10

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Bill & Ted Face the Music on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Nov. 10. The film, which is currently available for premium VOD rental and purchase from MGM and Orion Pictures, will be released via standard digital sellthrough Oct. 20, and standard VOD Nov. 10.

The third film in the “Bill & Ted” franchise, following 1989’s Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and 1991’s Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, finds Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves reprising their roles as the time traveling title duo, who are tasked with emissaries from the future with writing the song that will unite humanity for all time.

The film was slated for a wide theatrical release over the summer that was pushed back as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, it was released via PVOD and in a handful of theaters that opened after quarantine restrictions were lifted, earning $3.3 million at the domestic box office.

Directed by Dean Parisot (“Galaxy Quest”) and written by franchise creators Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, Bill & Ted Face the Music also stars William Sadler, Kristen Schaal, Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Anthony Carritan, Erinn Hayes, Jayma Mays, Hal Landon Jr., Beck Bennett, Amy Stoch, Jillian Bell and Holland Taylor.

The Blu-ray and DVD will include a “Be Excellent to Each Other” featurette. The Blu-ray will also include the featurettes “A Most Triumphant Duo,” “Death’s Crib” and “Social Piece (Excellence),” and the Bill & Ted Face the Music Comic-Con@Home panel.

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FandangoNow Offers Promo on Preorders of ‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’

Consumers who rent Bill & Ted Face the Music (due Aug. 28) in advance on FandangoNow can get 50% off rentals of more than 100 movies starring big-screen duos like Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter.

The deal includes the pair’s first two epics Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. Other films in the offer include Bad Boys for Life, Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion, House Party, Thelma & Louise, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Booksmart, The Blues Brothers, Wayne’s World, Tommy Boy, The Heat, The Sting, Bonnie & Clyde, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Friday, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, Midnight Run, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Back to the Future, Keanu and Ted.

Consumers will have 30 days to begin watching the titles after they are rented. For more info on the more than 100 discounted titles in the deal, see FandangoNow’s Movie Duos.

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‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’ VOD Release Moving Up to Aug. 28

Bill & Ted Face the Music will come out on VOD and in select theaters Aug. 28, moving up from the Sept. 1 date announced during Comic-Con@Home.

Bill & Ted star Alex Winter revealed the news on Twitter.

In the Orion Pictures film, the stakes are higher than ever for the time-traveling William  “Bill” S. Preston Esq. (Alex Winter) and Theodore  “Ted” Logan (Keanu Reeves). To fulfill their rock and roll destiny, the now middle-aged best friends set out on a new adventure when a visitor from the future warns them that only their song can save life as we know it. Along the way, they will be helped by their daughters, a new batch of historical figures, and a few music legends to seek the song that will set their world right and bring harmony in the universe.

 

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