Posts Tagged ‘the matrix’

Ezra’s Top Ten Favorite Movies Of 2018

Posted 16 Feb 2019 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Here we go again! I know I say this every year, but it’s an absolutely absurd and impossible task to try to see even half of the 700+ feature films released each year, and then to attempt a ranking of the best [insert arbitrary number] of them, so that’s not what I do. Instead, I managed to see a paltry 101 movies released in 2018, and I’m going to attempt to rank my ten favorite movies out of that number. It’s still absurd and very difficult, but at least I don’t have to convince anyone these are the “best” movies of the year. They’re just the ones I personally dug the most, and your mileage will most likely vary wildly. As always, I’ve made some effort to highlight movies you’re not hearing about on other year-end lists or awards ceremonies, while not stubbornly ignoring any of those that you are hearing more about, as I did in 2016.
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The 4 Most Essential Gangster Movies For Understanding Rap Lyrics

Posted 27 Mar 2018 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay

By Ezra Stead 

More than any other type of songwriting, rap lyrics are peppered with pop culture references, from movies to cars to sports to fashion to other rap songs. Of the movie references, no genre is more popular than the gangster movie (the most popular non-gangster movie references are probably The MatrixStar Wars and, thanks mainly to the Wu-Tang Clan, various kung fu movies). The classic gangster movie narrative of rising to great power from humble means via violent crime and the drug trade has a special resonance with many of the great canonical rappers of Hip-Hop’s Golden Age who found a similar path via rapping about the violent crime and drug trade that they either witnessed in the streets or, in many cases, actively participated in. Beyond that, violent crime has an undeniable entertainment value, whether in movies or in music. Once you’ve seen these four movies, you’ll have a lot better understanding of the references in rap lyrics, though I can’t really help you with the sports, car, or fashion ones.  Read More

I, Frankenstein – We, Bored

Posted 20 Oct 2014 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead

I, Frankenstein, Australia / USA, 2014

Directed by Stuart Beattie

I, Frankenstein is a film that focuses to the point of obsession on every MacGuffin it can find, and it expects the audience to give a shit. The longer you watch I, Frankenstein, the harder it is to believe that it is an actual theatrical feature and not just a bad TV movie made for the Syfy channel. Despite big-name, reliably good actors like Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy and Miranda Otto, and special effects that, at their best, at least look like a really good video game, the entire project is bogged down by the bizarre combination of extreme silliness and relentless self-seriousness. Somehow, in making a movie in which Frankenstein’s monster (Eckhart) is reimagined as a modern-day superhero fighting against a legion of demons that want the secret to his immortality, no one managed to have any fun. The audience (such as it has been) is certainly no exception.  Read More

10 Sequels That Are (Arguably) Better Than The Original

Posted 27 Nov 2013 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

The Bride of Frankenstein is not only better than the original Frankenstein, but also the best of all Universal monster movies.We’re used to movie franchises being victim to diminishing returns, with the sequels to classic films generally lackluster at best (Ghostbusters II, Halloween II), and at worst, utter travesties that threaten to tarnish the legacy of the original (the Matrix sequels, The Godfather: Part III). On rare occasions, though, the second film in a trilogy or franchise (which I consider to be any series with more than three movies) actually surpasses the original in some way. Here are ten sequels that are, in some circles at least, considered better than the films that spawned them, and my thoughts on each.

10 Sequels That Are (Arguably) Better Than The Original1. THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935) – this is the one that got me thinking about the topic in the first place, and it’s also the oldest of the films discussed herein. James Whale’s follow-up to his 1931 hit, Frankenstein, ties up the loose end of Victor Frankenstein (Colin Clive) promising his monster (Boris Karloff) a bride to quell his loneliness. It also features most of the iconic images and dialogue associated with Universal Studios’ most famous monster, including Frank learning to smoke in the hut of the blind man he befriends (which was cemented in the public consciousness by Mel Brooks’ spoof of it in 1974’s Young Frankenstein). Bride’s expert blend of humor and pathos, as well as truly chilling moments such as Frank’s hollow, soulless intonation of the classic line, “I love dead,” make it not only better than the original Frankenstein, but also the best of all Universal monster movies. Read More

Hollywood Repeats Itself – Dark City & The Matrix

Posted 27 May 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Dark City, Australia / USA, 1998

Directed by Alex Proyas

The Matrix, USA / Australia, 1999

Written and Directed by The Wachowski Brothers

Dark City is a stunning visual feast, and a fascinating exploration of the nature of reality.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. A cliché, admittedly, but the truth of the aphorism cannot be denied. In the two films we are about to examine, humanity teeters on the brink of disaster in two seemingly disparate space-time continua. The similarities between these two films, however, vastly outweigh the differences. In Alex Proyas’s Dark City (1998), we are presented with a haunting vision of a seemingly familiar world that has actually been fabricated by a group of inhuman creatures that prey on human memories. Sound familiar? It should. One of the most popular films of 1999, Larry and Andy Wachowski’s The Matrix, has a very similar premise, and the similarities extend to specific characters and plot points.

There are differences, of course; mostly financial ones. The Matrix is less opaque, more readily accessible to masses of moviegoers. Its slick, computer-generated special effects are more pleasant to view – if somewhat less visceral – than Dark City‘s gritty, film noir atmosphere of doom and entrapment. Likewise, Matrix‘s villains are ostensibly less sinister (at least, in their guise as government agents) than City‘s bald, pale, trenchcoat-clad “Strangers.” Beneath the disguises, though (the Strangers use human corpses as vessels), the true villains in both films are pretty much the same: slimy, tentacled alien monsters that die when their vessels are destroyed.  Read More

The Legacy of Silent Film

Posted 04 Apr 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Most Confusing Films of All time, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

A Trip To The Moon is one of the best of the very early silent films.

Perhaps one of the main reasons that so many of us, myself included, fail to “get” certain films, or certain aspects of film as a whole, is that we have not spent sufficient time studying the beginnings of the art form. We have not looked to the past. This, then, is a look at the first few decades of the cinematic arts, and the influence of these early films on what we see onscreen today.

When Louis and Auguste Lumiere first showed their short film The Arrival of a Train in 1895, they certainly had no inkling that, almost 100 years later, it would be the film-within-a-film in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Nor could Carl Theodor Dreyer have suspected that his 1928 feature The Passion of Joan of Arc would one day be the major inspiration for Mel Gibson’s hugely successful The Passion of the Christ (2004). But no matter where these and other early filmmakers envisioned the medium in 100 years, or whether they even believed it would last that long, the films we see today are undeniably the legacy of these pioneers of a nascent art form. Read More

Resident Evil: Afterlife – The Joys Of 3-D

Posted 10 Oct 2010 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Corey Birkhofer

Resident Evil: Afterlife, Germany / France / UK, 2010

Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson

milla jovovichWith ticket prices in Japan being double that of the states, I have to choose the films I see very carefully. I am not at all ashamed to admit my love for zombie flicks, and the Resident Evil (or Biohazard, as it’s referred to in Japan) series is one that has proven to be especially successful. I would even venture to say that it is even more popular in Japan than it is back home. Despite my love of all things zombie, it’s never been so extreme that I couldn’t just wait until whichever film I wanted to see came out on DVD. So why, now that the Resident Evil series has reached its fourth chapter, did I decide to shell out $30 so my wife and I could see it in the theater? The answer is simple: because it’s in 3-D.

Though it’s easy for film snobs to laugh off 3-D as just another Hollywood gimmick to lure people away from their TiVos and Netflix accounts, I think 3-D deserves a bit more credit than just calling it a phase or “gimmick.” On the contrary, in this review of Resident Evil: Afterlife I will explore why I think 3-D is more than just a new weapon to lure people off their couches and back into the theater, but rather a possible new form of storytelling to bring cinema to a new stage in its development. Read More