Tag Archives: scifi

David Cronenberg is Back with the Peculiar “Crimes of the Future” (2022)

Now in limited theatres.

Movies tug at heartstrings, provoke belly laughs, stimulate the mind and evoke physical reactions, so it’s a bit nerve-racking how “body horror” maestro David Cronenberg has fabricated such an inventive but ultimately soulless and anticlimactic work in Crimes of the Future (C). The veteran director undoubtedly engages in fascinating sci-fi world building with his near dystopian society in which humans feel no pain, but the film is largely bogged down in tedious exposition, rendering inert its mystery and momentum. The movie does no favors to its cast including Viggo Mortensen and Léa Seydoux, who play performance artists conducting surgery for audiences and extracting newly harvested organs against a backdrop of bureaucracy (embodied in an idiosyncratic Kristen Stewart) and would-be revolutionaries (Scott Speedman’s underdeveloped character). Cronenberg skims the surface of human transformation, examines peoples’ fetishizing of pain and pleasure and crams in tortured metaphors about inner beauty. What could have been a quintessential grotesquerie turns out to be merely an obtuse lecture. This trauma drama lethargically asks more questions about morality and mortality than it has the ability to answer. It has the bones of a really peculiar and provocative saga and rarely manifests into its most evolved form.

“Matrix: Resurrections” a Disappointing Postscript

If a movie consistently protests its own existence, believe it. Lana Wachowski’s Matrix: Resurrections (D+), the misguided fourth installment in the groundbreaking sci-fi action series, presents within its storyline several meta constructs about why a follow-up to the trilogy should occur in the first place. Then the director exhumes the bones of the franchise’s previous efforts and attempts to justify continued tinkering with its themes of technology and identity with extremely mixed results. It all makes for a rather existential take on an already trippy narrative. To find out if his reality is a physical or mental construct, video game programmer Mr. Anderson (a.k.a. Neo, played by Keanu Reeves) must re-enter the film’s alternate universe, now stronger, more secure and far more dangerous than ever before. The film’s action sequences, new characters both human and cyborg, makeup and visual effects are all subpar compared to the previous trilogy of films. The only element of this episode with intrigue is the return of Carrie-Ann Moss in a new form that may or may not be her former character Trinity. Neo and Trinity’s love story overcomes many of the film’s oddities and obstacles and provides the film’s singular flickers of fascination. Otherwise much of the movie is moribund and obligatory, a folly of a follow-up.

“Bill and Ted Face the Music” Doesn’t Really Work

Nearly three decades after their last time trek, they’re on a mission to prove they’re dad bod-acious, but their bid for bogus bonafides exhumes a most triumphantly tepid detour. Dean Parisot’s Bill and Ted Face the Music (C) is best when it just gives in to absurdist metaphysical humor, and there are indeed a few brief flashes of the franchise’s blissfully harmless DNA scattered and smothered through a nonsensical screenplay. Most of the time, however, the story just goes through the motions with an overly sprawling ensemble of underdeveloped characters. A story lurks somewhere in this sequel about reconciling romances, discovering the music that pulses through generations and aligning a madcap world, but the plotting is listless and the episodic pacing maddening. The cheap effects that worked in the past two films now just seem like sloppy filmmaking. There’s a nice bit of sonic history with a rock ‘n’ roll supergroup involving the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Louis Armstrong, but mostly the movie assembles lots of disparate elements – from charmless wives and daughters to an ill-tempered emo robot – and doesn’t know what to do with any of them. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are reasonably spry and great sports in multiple multiverse roles, but it all seems like it was more fun to make than to watch.

“Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey” is More Rad Comedy

Fresh off their excellent adventure, the dimmest duo in time travel along with their respective robot doppelgängers return for more harmless fun in Pete Hewitt’s Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey (B-). Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter reprise roles as vaguely stoner wannabe rock stars who must literally go through hell this time around to align time and space. The new conceit is far out, especially with an arty Ingmar Bergman homage of grim reaper sidekick Death played with droll abandon by William Sadler. Most of the jokes land, and it almost feels like there’s something at stake as the cheesy highjinks ensue. This series shouldn’t work but does.