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The personal blog of Michael Ashby

Category / movies

The Matrix Saga: Part Three – Enter The Matrix (Part One)

Enter The MatrixI love playing video games. I got hooked on the Atari 2600 and I’ve been playing them ever since, however when I heard that there was going to be a video game released based on The Matrix, I wasn’t too thrilled. Typically, whenever there is a video game based on a movie, it sucks. I really like the Matrix Saga and although I’ve liked everything that the Wachowski brother’s have touched, the suck factor was pretty high on a video game. Did I want to take the risk and buy the video game?

You might be surprised that I did resist and didn’t run out and buy it the day it was released. I was tempted mind you, but the fact that most of the reviews were bad, I held off. I simply didn’t want to spoil my Matrix experience. After I watched The Matrix Revolutions, I was shopping at Target and I saw that they had it on sale for half price at $19.99. There’s only so much a man can take, so I bought it. 🙂

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The Matrix Saga: Part Two – The Animatrix

The AnimatrixDirector(s): Peter Chung, Andy Jones, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Takeshi Koike, Mahiro Maeda, Kouji Morimoto, Shinichirô Watanabe
Writer(s): Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski, Peter Chung, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Kouji Morimoto, Shinichirô Watanabe
Category: Action / Drama / Animation / Sci-Fi
MPAA: N/A, but intended for mature audiences
Runtime: 102 minutes
Country: USA
Language: English
Year: 2003

Plot: Anthology of nine short anime (Japanese animation) films tied in to the 1999 blockbuster “The Matrix” and its sequels. “Final Flight of the Osiris”: The crew of the hovercraft Osiris attempt to warn their city of an imminent attack. “The Second Renaissance, Parts 1 & 2”: The story behind the war between man and the machines, how mankind scorched the sky, and the creation of the Matrix. “Kid’s Story”: A teenager is contacted by Neo, and manages to escape the Matrix. “Program”: Two warriors battle in a samurai training simulation when one decides to betray his crewmates and re-enter the Matrix. “World Record”: A champion sprinter manages to break free of the Matrix by sheer physical effort during a record attempt. “Beyond”: A young girl searching for her cat discovers a haunted house caused by a glitch in the system. “A Detective Story”: Private investigator Ash tracks a hacker named Trinity through the looking glass. “Matriculated”: A group of humans capture a machine scout and insert it into a ‘human matrix’.

Review: The Matrix had a lot of firsts in it. The first movie to use bullet time, the first movie to bring comic book and anime storytelling to live action, etc. On it’s own The Matrix is a landmark film and had the Wachowski brothers left it at that, it would have been enough. Little did we know in 1999 (the year the Matrix was released) that the brothers had much more in store for us.

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The Matrix Saga: Part One – The Matrix

The MatrixDirector(s): Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski
Writer(s): Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski
Category: Action / Sci-Fi
Runtime: 136 minutes
Country: USA
Language: English
Year: 1999
Tagline: The Fight for the Future Begins

Plot: In the near future, a computer hacker named Neo (Keanu Reeves) discovers that all life on Earth may be nothing more than an elaborate facade created by a malevolent cyber-intelligence, for the purpose of placating us while our life essence is “farmed” to fuel the Matrix’s campaign of domination in the “real” world. He joins like-minded Rebel warriors Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie Ann Moss) in their struggle to overthrow the Matrix.

Review: The movie that started it all. The Matrix came completely out of the blue. No one had ever heard of the directors, the Wachowski brothers. Their only other movie directorial effort was Bound, which no one ever saw. (Turns out, Bound was simply an audition to prove to the studios that they knew how to direct and could handle the project that was The Matrix). The actors were a mixed bag of good actors (Laurence Fishburne, Joe Pantoliano), bad actors (Keanu Reeves) and then unknown actors (Carrie-Ann Moss and Hugo Weaving). The previews gave nothing away. You were simply left with the question “What Is The Matrix?” and a few images of some very cool action. The only thing I knew at the time was that I HAD to go see the movie the night it was released.

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Tank, I Need An Exit

Today is the day. The day that I’ve been pining for months to come. Today is the launch of The Matrix Revolutions. I was given three tickets to the premier in IMAX format on my birthday and they’ve been locked away until today. I can’t wait!

Matrix Overloaded

The Matrix Revolutions Movie PosterIt’s hard to believe, but the third installment of The Matrix trilogy is almost upon us. It seems like just yesterday I was just frothing at the mouth to see The Matrix Reloaded and to be quite honest I thought my excitement for the final chapter to be somewhat waning. Of course that’s before I saw the Ultra Theatrical Trailer.

The Wachowski brothers never cease to amaze me. When the maximum quicktime preview that you can normally see is 640 x 480, they go and realease a better than DVD quality 1024 x 532 102MB file. Although I had seen the other three television trailers, I was totally unprepared for this ultra theatrial trailer. I’m not lying when I say this, after I watched it… I wept.

I may be the target demographic for these movies and simply acting out a pavolvian response, but I think Andy and Larry are cinematic geniuses. Regardless if you are a fan of their movies or not, they have done more to alter the future of visual arts than any other directors in history. Forget the fact that there hasn’t been an action scene in a movie that hasn’t been influenced by The Matrix, it seems that almost everything has been touched in some way. From advertising to eyeware, to even windsurfing. So I know that it can’t just be me that these movies resonate with can I?

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Under The Tuscan Sun

Double JeopardyDirector: Audrey Wells
Writer(s): Frances Mayes (Book), Audrey Wells (Screenplay)
Category: Romantic Comedy
Country: USA
Language: English
Year: 2003
Tagline: Life offers you a thousand chances… all you have to do is take one.

Plot: Loosely based on Frances Mayes’s best-selling memoir of the same title, Diane Lane stars as Frances, a newly divorced American lawyer who heads for the Italian region of Tuscany to make limonita out of life’s lemons. Having just quit her high-pressure job and ended her heartbreaking marriage, she buys a decrepit-but-charming house in Cortona on impulse, rebuilding it piece by piece — and herself along with it.

Review: If you love Italy then go see this movie. If you like real and intelligent characters then go see this movie. If you hate romantic comedies then go see this movie.

I am not a huge fan of the romantic comedy genre. More often than not, a romantic comedy is nothing more than a few good looking people thrown together and saddled with a lousy script. That’s not to say that there aren’t notable exceptions, but for the most part they suck. Based on the previews for this movie, I didn’t have high hopes, however I did receive a free pass to watch a sneak preview for the movie, so how could I say no? 🙂

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The Matrix Reloaded - In IMAX FormatThe Matrix Reloaded was finally released in IMAX format, so yesterday after church, we headed over to Opry Mills to the Regal Cinema Opry Mills 20 IMAX theatre. It happened on a bit of a lark, I just happened to notice that there was a 2:15 showing while glancing at the Nashville Scene as I rode in the back seat of my Mother’s car. We got out of Church at 1:00pm, so it seemed like a perfect fit. Go to church and then go see the movie.

We arrived at Opry Mills at about 1:15pm, so we had about 30 minutes before they began seating. We took the opportunity to browse Barnes & Nobel. Going in I couldn’t think of anything that I wanted. I had purchased all my magazines for the month and I’m already reading 3 books, so I didn’t need another. That’s before I found out that they sold DVDs as well. :). I ended up purchasing the The Animatrix Boxed Set, which includes the Animatrix DVD and the Animatrix soundtrack. It was turning into a Matrix day.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an IMAX movie. The last one I saw was “The Alamo” when Holly and I were celebrating our 2nd Anniversary in San Antonio. I’ve certainly never seen a feature film released in the format, so I was VERY excited and intrigued in what the differences would be between the 35mm experience and the IMAX Experience.

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$@#*ing Commercials

Bachelor Chow - Now With Flavor!If there is one thing that has reared its ugly head in American cinema in the past year that just sticks in my craw are movie theatres showing commercials. Don’t get me wrong, I love commercials and dearly miss AdCritic and wish it would come back to its “Internet Bubble” heyday. But I don’t mind commercials on TV because they are subsidizing what I’m watching. I don’t pay for network TV so I understand the role that commercials play. However when I go to a movie and pay $8.50 a person the last thing that I expect to see is a freakin’ commercial. I paid a fee to watch commercials? I don’t think so. Yet with each movie that I go to see, more and more commercials are appearing prior to the previews. I saw the Italian Job today and was subjected to no less than 7 commercials.

Some people might argue that previews are really just commercials for movies. Well, that’s true, but its part of the movie experience, ads for Degree antiperspirant are not. Or you might argue that commercials are defraying the cost of movies. Bollocks. When was the last time you saw a movie theatre go out of business? Besides, movie attendance is higher than ever and when the Matrix Reloaded can pull in over 200 million in one weekend I don’t think theatres are hurting. Also, don’t forget that the gross movie sales do not include the cost of popcorn and other snacks. By my own rough estimation, I’d say that for every two tickets at $8.50 there’s at least $8.50 spent at the concession stand. So, when a movie pulls in $200 million, there’s roughly $100 million that goes straight to the movie theatre. That’s not counting the money made from the Coca-Cola ads, etc.

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Reloaded And Re-spent

After a 4 year wait, the Matrix Reloaded finally arrived. Not since The Empire Strikes Back have I lusted for a movie sequel. Given that I was only 13 when the Star Wars sequel was released, suffice to say that I didn’t know what lust was. So, you can imagine how much I’ve been waiting […]

Double Jeopardy

Double JeopardyDirector: Bruce Beresford
Writer(s): David Weisberg and Douglas Cook
Category: Thriller
Runtime: 105 min
Country: USA
Language: English
Year: 1999
Tagline: Murder isn’t always a crime.

Plot: Framed for her husband’s murder, Libby Parsons (Ashley Judd) survives the long years in prison with two burning desires sustaining her: finding her son and solving the mystery that destroyed her once-happy life.

Review: Predictable, shallow and without any flavor. That is how I would characterize this movie. You’ve seen it before and you know what’s coming throughout the entire movie. I feel like a patrol cop telling the crowd “keep moving, there’s nothing to see here.”

Ashley Judd gives another lackluster performance as a well-to-do wife who gets sent to prison for 6 years. You’d think she was sent to the time out corner instead. Judd portrays the same character leaving prison as she DOES when she enters. Wait, I take that back. Her character does do some sit ups to prove that she’s tough now. Please. %)

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