My thoughts on books, movies, tv series and other stuff I want to talk about.

These are my personal thoughts, and I may be wrong, or may be right, or anywhere in between. Make of it what you will

On this page

  1. Matrix Resurrections
  2. Rebel Moon: worse than watching paint dry
  3. An overrated meh: Vernor Vinge's True Names

Originally posted as a mini-thread on Twitter. I may find the time to do a longer review.... one of these days

So. Matrix Resurrections. A mini-thread.

This is a quote is directly from the movie:

I'm sure you can understand why our beloved parent company Warner Brothers has decided to make a sequel to the trilogy.

They informed me they are going to do it with or without us. And they made it clear they'll kill our contract if we don't cooperate

If you take it at face value and combine it with "do you think you ever had a choice" repeated throughout the film, then this explains the movie.

Otherwise it's just so, so, so bad. It's amazing how badly Lana Wachowski regressed in the art of movie making in the intervening 22 years.

Everything: casting, visuals, audio, story, characters, ... all has gone down the drain.

Every single character is miscast. None convey any sense of urgency, or gravitas, or the reason a character exists, or... The paltry replacements for iconic characters are just pathetic. The new Morpheus may have worked if he was given any time to actually be in the movie.

No matter how bad Matrix 2 and Matrix 3 were, they tried to thread new ground in terms of visuals. Later even Jupiter Ascending was at least pretty.

Matrix 4 is just... shoddy. There's not a single frame on the movie where you can go "wow, just look at this".

Where the original movies had clear dialog even amidst the most chaotic scenes, now it's the same muddled audio that has plagued Hollywood, where you can't understand half of what characters on screen are saying even in complete silence.

Klimek and Tykwer are talented composers, but in Matrix 4 the score is just... there? Of course, no one can even approach the genius of Don Davis, but you'd think there would be an attempt.

"White Rabbit" cover is amazing, but destroyed by sheer incompetence of cinematographers Wachowski/Massaccesi/Toll.

Sequence on repeat that convey the hamster wheel of existence and the Matrix? It took Ilya Naishuller 1 minute to convey that after the title card to "Nobody", whereas in Matrix Resurrections you'd be hard pressed to empathise between inaudible dialogue and fast cuts that don't maintain visual continuity

And then there's the action sequences.

Yes, Keanu Reeves and Carriq-Anne Moss are 57 and 54. This didn't stop John Wick from having fast-paced complex and clear action sequences. Matrix Resurrections? Shaky cam, quick cuts, none of the actors where even trained for action sequences...

And those that can do action scenes like Reeves? They either had nothing to do because the opponent had zero training (the dojo "fight") or had zero action direction (you can see actors just randomly stand and do nothing in the background in some scenes).

The Matrix cost $63 million top make in 1999. That's ~$105 million in today's money.

In 1999 for that money they produced astounding visual effects, employed unbelievable practical effects (do look it up on YouTube), trained actors for action, had proper audio and more.

Matrix Resurrections hasn't released their costs, but they are sure to be way more than $100 million.

All we got for that money? A simulatte.

There are seeds of a good movie in there somewhere.

Instead Lana Wachowski chose have things like a (thankfully short) shot of a tiny robot high-fiving one of the irrelevant characters, Transformers-style.

I forgot. The final action sequence? It’s Keanu Reeves doing magic with magic fingers.

That’s it. That’s the final action sequence.

Even Matrix 2 and 3 managed to convey a sense of danger even if Neo was God by that time. Here it’s “magic fingers save the day all day"

People should stop giving Zack Snyder money. A poster for Zack Snyder's movie called "Rebel Moon. Part 1: A Child of Fire"

If you have two hours to spare, its more useful and entertaining to watch paint dry. Or to watch the mating rituals of a common housefly.

A vapid, empty slog of a movie from a director who has been drinking the cool-aid of unwarranted fan adoraton for far too long.

Here's the full breakdown of Rebel Moon:

The plot, whatever plot there is, goes as follows: our heroine is a fugitive in a tiny remote village on a remote planet. She witnesses an imperial admiral of an unassailable imperial frigate personally come down and shakedown the village for grain. Then she saves a local girl by growing a consciousness and revealing she is a formidable assassin in the process, decides to recruit rebels to their cause despite having no money or resources, randomly finds a convenient guy who knows all the best fighters, goes on a few sidequests, recruits those fighters, then recruites half of rebels, and then gets most of them killed. The end.

It takes the movie a full hour to get to "goes on sidequests". Yes, a full hour is spent in the remote village being shaken down by the evil imperial admiral who is an evil admiral at the head of evil imperial soldiers. Who are evil.

I want to say that the rest of the movie is crammed into the remaining hour. But, despite the seemingly many things that are happening, the remaining movie crawls along with all the grace and agility of a senile arthritic snail.

Ed Skrein is trying his best to act through the lines written by a fifth-grader for the clinically inept. The rest of the cast is only there to collect their paychecks and go home.

Ed Skrein as an imperial admiral on a mission to take down a dangerous rebel faction personally shaking down a village for some grain. Yes, it is as stupid as it sounds

Charlie Hunnam asking where the exit is

The characters... I couldn't tell you what the characters are, what their motivations are, or why we should care for them for more than a nanosecond even if my life depended on it.

Even though the characters are narrating their own expositions for about an hour of total runtime, the only one that has any actual character to them is an android. The androids entire storyline? About 5 minutes sometime at the 30 minute mark. 5 minutes of exposition, mind you. Total relevance of the android to the plot? Zero.

He sure made it into trailers though. This entire shot is about 5 seconds at the end of the movie. Looks like for Sir Anthony Hopkins (who voices the android) 20 dollars is 20 dollars.

Note how almost nothing is in focus in this 100% digital image? I'll talk about it shortly.

Visually this could be a very striking movie. However, Zack Snyder seems to be unable to pass an oportunity to turn everything into his own branded version of the intangible sludge.

Is this a flashback to an imperial palace, a flashback to an imperial military vessel, a scene in the village, a scene on an industrial world, or a scene in a port?

The answer is yes.

That said, Zack Snyder remains one of the few modern directors who manage to light a dark room so that you see every character, every face, and every emotion of that face (most of the time, and however little emotion there is).

And then there's Zack Snyder's signature camerawork with the extremely ultra shallow depth of field. This scene is a great example. Two unmoving static characters are standing in the same plane and talking to each other. One of them is 100% CGI:

Let's zoom in on this $166 million-dollar movie:

And this happens all. the. time.

All in all, Rebel Moon. Part 1: A Child of Fire is an utter waste of everyone's time. Given that this was an idea 30 years in the thinking and 10 years in the making that is supposedly lifted directly from Seven Samurai, this only serves as further proof that people should stop giving Znack Snyder money for his vanity projects. After all, Tommy Wiseau financed The Room. Zack Snyder should finance his own ineptitude, too.

Vernor Vinge's 1981 sci-fi novella has its own wikipedia page and a 3.9 rating on Goodreads.

A 2001 edition, updated in 2016, is a full volume containing three prefaces, 10 separate essays and articles on various topics from crypto anarchy to cyber security, and only then the novella itself.

And god is it boring.

In 1981 it was undoubtedly mind-blowing to most people at the time, but it's not good as a story. It's not even good as a vision of the future. The novella feels like an idea that struck the author at three in the morning, he jotted it down, and then sent off to the presses without fleshing it out.

As with many such books which are "visionary at the time", True Names is a historical curiosity, but is no longer worth reading.