Keanu Reeves Returned to Matrix 4 Because of “Beautiful Script”

The details surrounding The Matrix 4 have been, at least to this film fan, very confusing. The last film, The Matrix Revolutions, ended with the deaths of Neo and Trinity, and yet Morpheus lived, but now with the production of the new film, we’ve learned that Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are returning to the franchise, and as of now, I’ve heard nothing of Laurence Fishburne’s return.

Regardless, The Matrix 4 is happening with Lana Wachowski directing and a screenplay from Wachowski, David Mitchell, Aleksandar Hemon. From what Reeves is saying, it’s that screenplay and the story presented by Lana that convinced him to return to the franchise. Reeves, talking to Empire, said:

“Lana Wachowski wrote a beautiful script and a wonderful story that resonated with me. That’s the only reason to do it. To work with her again is just amazing.”

Honestly, this brings so much joy and excitement to my mind. I already couldn’t wait for a new Matrix film, but knowing that the script and story brought Keanu back only adds to my interest. I’m a huge fan of Cloud Atlas, a previous work from the Wachowskis (Lana’s sister Lilly stepped away from Hollywood a few years back), which was based on David Mitchell’s novel. I love that he contributed to the screenplay, and I’m all the more excited, albeit very confused, about where the story is going.

So what do you think? Should the series have stayed dead or is now a great time to return to this universe? Let me know/Drop a comment down below.

The Matrix 4 hits theaters in 2021.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Toy Story 4 (2019)

Director: Josh Cooley

Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Madeleine McGraw, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Jay Hernandez, Lori Alan, Joan Cusack

Screenplay: Andrew Stanton, Stephany Folsom

100 mins. Rated G.

IMDb Top 250: #132 (as of 7/9/2019)

 

We didn’t need a Toy Story 4. That’s what I kept saying. We just didn’t need it. Toy Story 3 was a great ending to a solid trilogy and we didn’t need to muddy the waters with another installment almost destined to be terrible. We trusted Pixar not to ruin this one, and our trust in them was worth it.

It’s been two years since Andy gave his toys over to Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw, American Sniper, Ant-Man and the Wasp) and departed for college, and the toys have been on a great many adventures since then. Andy’s favorite toy Sheriff Woody (Tom Hanks, Cast Away, The Post) is struggling, though, as he has been seemingly forgotten by Bonnie when playtime occurs, but he remains vigilant in his duties to protect her, so when she becomes nervous at kindergarten orientation and makes a new toy, Forky (Tony Hale, Batman Ninja, TV’s Arrested Development), out of some trash and crafting supplies, Woody takes it upon himself to teach Forky how to be the best toy he can be. During this time, Bonnie and her family are on a vacation in the RV, and at one of the stops, Woody spots a lamp at an antique store that he believes may belong to Bo Peep (Annie Potts, Ghostbusters, TV’s Young Sheldon), a toy that one belonged to Andy’s sister, one that he cared for very deeply. Woody and Forky also come across the menacing Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks, Ginger & Rosa, TV’s Good Girls), a defective antique toy who wants Woody’s voice box for her own. Now, Woody must return Forky to Bonnie without getting caught by Gabby Gabby, and he is also forced to confront his own wants in the process.

Let’s cover the purpose of Toy Story 4, because if there was one criticism in just about any fan’s mind as they enter the theater, it’s the question of WHY? Why Toy Story 4? Well, I will say this. I think Toy Story 4 is the second-best film in the series behind the third film. That being said, I think Toy Story 4’s ending is so much better than the third film. It leaves up in a very satisfying place and works very well in questioning everything that came before. It’s a film that looks at the toys we have and asks a lot of questions.

This is very much Woody’s story, and he goes on it mostly without the help of the other toys, encountering lots of new characters in the process. While Toy Story 3 is the ending of the story in relation to Andy, Toy Story 4 takes a good hard look at Woody, a toy that has always been in service of his human, but he is confronted with the very real idea that he may not be Bonnie’s favorite toy. His character arc, especially in relation to Forky’s existential crisis of self, is very well-layered and something I’ve always wanted more out of.

The new characters are so wonderful as well. Keegan-Michael Key (Keanu, TV’s Friends from College) and Jordan Peele (Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, TV’s The Twilight Zone) appear together as Ducky and Bunny, two sentient toys made sown-together at the hands, and they are an absolute delight. Key and Peele use the classic comedic timing and chemistry that they’ve been known for to make this the funniest of the Toy Story movies. They had me in stitches, never once ruining the scene by trying to hard.

Then, there’s Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves, The Matrix, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum), a Canadian daredevil toy with a motorcycle capable of performing incredible stunts, or at least, that’s what the commercials had said. I love all the character Reeves packed into such a limited screen time. He worked tirelessly on embodying his character with the director, and it shows in the work. His is a similar character to the one that Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen, El Camino Christmas, TV’s Home Improvement) was in the first film: a toy that is coming to terms with its limits. He is broken on the inside because he was never able to meet the expectations of his commercial.

The only real flaw I had with Toy Story 4 is that I believe that Gabby Gabby is probably the worst villain of the entire franchise. It sounds like I may be in the minority on this one, but I’m going to speak my reasons and let them stand. I never found Gabby Gabby as a villain to be very menacing. Yes, she’s a little creepy and her henchmen ventriloquist dummies are certainly frightening and strange enough, but I never really saw her as villainous in the way that I saw, say, Lotso from Toy Story 3. Maybe it’s just me, but I felt like she was antagonistic but never villainous.

Toy Story 4 also feels, at times, like a big game of I Spy. The antique store, where a good portion of the film is set, is chock full of Easter Eggs and references to other Pixar films, to Toy Story films, and to other pop culturally iconic movies, most notably The Shining, which has always had a somewhat odd connection to the Toy Story franchise. Then, there’s voice cameos galore, many of which I didn’t catch until someone told me about them after the film ended. It’s just a celebration of so much magic that Disney and Pixar can craft.

Toy Story 4 is the perfect true finale to the franchise, one I hope they actually keep to, and I absolutely adored this movie. It’s the ending that feels most earned, not just throughout this installment, but through the entire series. It’s a powerful finale that will drive many to tears, this writer included. I really enjoyed it.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Box Office Report] Aladdin Grants a Memorial Day Wish for Earnings

Memorial Day weekend just ended here in the United States, and the four-day box office earnings have come out, and it looks like Disney’s newest live-action redo Aladdin has unsurprisingly taken the top spot with $112.7 million, but what is surprising is how much it made this weekend, even with trailer criticism and rumors of problems on set surfaced for months leading up to its release. The film initially garnered good reviews from critics which have somewhat middled-out since its premiere. The $112.7 was not enough to unseat Disney’s own Memorial Day weekend record of $139 million with Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. It looks like people are willing to give Disney a chance on Aladdin. I personally thought the trailers looked fun, and I wasn’t going to give into trolls and critics on Will Smith’s take on the Genie because it is unfair to compare him to the late great Robin Williams and his classic vocal performance.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum held onto #2 this weekend with $31 million. The dropoff wasn’t terrible for the Keanu Reeves action film which is celebrating its best box office run in the series still. John Wick 4 has already been officially greenlit and will open in theaters in 2021, so don’t be too concerned for the John Wick franchise. This newest installment boasts some of the most intense and gripping action ever put to film, even if the story isn’t as strong as the original’s.

Avengers: Endgame took third place this weekend with $22.3 million. The long-awaited end to the Infinity Saga edges ever closer to Avatar’s worldwide record gross, but I doubt it will have the legs to make it past the James Cameron-directed sci-fi epic. The only factor still at play for the MCU’s latest is a possible bump when Spider-Man: Far From Home drops, but will it be enough?

In fourth this weekend is Pokemon: Detective Pikachu with $17 million. I was still hoping that the first live-action Pokemon film would have performed better, but give the hesitancy to see video game movies and the juggernaut of Endgame, I think the studio should still be proud of Detective Pikachu’s run. You also have to remember that Detective Pikachu was a popular game in Japan, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t even hit stateside until 2018.

The horror-film take on the superhero myth, Brightburn, opened in fifth place this weekend with $9.5 million, below forecast. Both this film and Booksmart took in less-than-stellar hauls, but I think timing on release was a problematic factor. There’s just too much out there right now and people made decisions with their dollars.

This weekend, I didn’t get a chance to nab any of the new releases mentioned here. I was only able to catch the somewhat wider release for the Ralph Fiennes-directed The White Crow. What did you see this weekend? Did you pick with your dollars? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Keanu Reeves Wants to Return to Constantine

Keanu Reeves recently told Variety, “I’ve always wanted to play John Constantine again. I just love that world…and I love that character. I just had a blast playing a character and that world.” The character, John Constantine, was played by Keanu back in 2005 in the film Constantine, which was based on the Hellblazer comic series. Fans of Hellblazer were none too keen on Reeves or his performance in the film, and as someone who read the comics, I understand their frustrations.

This was a pre-MCU timeframe for comic book movies. Hell, in 2005, Christopher Nolan was just barely redefining superhero films with Batman Begins. Spider-Man and X-Men both had franchises that were running pretty strong, but when Constantine hit, it didn’t really have those superhero vibes, and so it didn’t appeal to non-fans of the comic book and it didn’t really appeal to fans of Hellblazer. I personally enjoyed the hell out of it. I had my issues with the film and its adaptation of the Hellblazer story, but I felt like Reeves kicked ass as John Constantine as much as he wasn’t really playing the version of the character I remembered reading.

It was true, and there wouldn’t be a proper version of the John Constantine character until Matt Ryan played in the short-lived 2014 series, and no one watched that either.

With all that being said, I really liked Reeves’s take on the character, and I definitely liked the style that director Francis Lawrence, who would go on to direct films in The Hunger Games franchise as well as I Am Legend, had developed for the film. I felt like there was a lot of potential for a franchise, but we haven’t seen Keanu Reeves as John Constantine in 14 years.

I would love to see him return as the character, but you would have to be very careful in how you approach a sequel. It would have to have a title like Constantine: Hellblazer or Constantine: Another Subtitle, something that wouldn’t flat-out call your film a sequel.

After that, you would have to develop a story that didn’t specifically pick up after the first film, but would be a reboot without starting the continuity over again. That way, you could utilize the wonder Djimon Hounsou as Midnite or Peter Stormare as Satan without recasting the characters. This way, people who forgot about the 2005 Constantine would not feel discouraged or, in the event they never saw the original film, unable to understand a sequel.

But I think it could be done. Oh yes, I believe so.

The question begs to be asked, though. Would anyone watch it this time around? That I’m not so sure of.

So what do you think? Would you watch a Constantine 2? Do you think it will ever happen? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Box Office Report] John Wick Takes the Avengers Out

So consider this your box office report.

The weekend numbers are rolling in and it sounds like the Avengers have been taken out of the top spot domestically by John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. The third film in the John Wick franchise earned $57 million dollars. This is a huge increase from the opening numbers for the second film and sure signs that audiences are still turning out huge for Keanu Reeves and his master killer. It’s no surprise that the film is set to do well with critics (see Rotten Tomatoes) and fans (see Cinemascore) praising the film.

I wouldn’t be too concerned for Avengers: Endgame, though, with taking second place this weekend. The film brought in $29 million and has passed Avatar at the domestic box office. I’m officially off the certainty wagon for the film’s chances to pass Avatar at the worldwide take, but either way, this one is going to a close race. Domestically, though, Endgame sits behind The Force Awakens for the #1 domestic of all time, a feat which I also do not believe it has the stamina for. I think the deciding factor will be Endgame’s legs and resurgence once Spider-Man: Far From Home comes out.

In third is Pokemon: Detective Pikachu, bringing in $24 million and now sitting with $93 million domestically. It’s been a hard road for Detective Pikachu opening just two weeks after Endgame snapped out all competition, but Pikachu is chugging right along. Globally, it has $287 million on a $150 million budget, so here’s hoping it can keep those little yellow legs scurrying toward some more take if we are to see franchise potential here.

A Dog’s Journey plopped into fourth with $8 million, making less than half of its predecessor’s opening weekend back in 2017. For someone like me who did not have much interest in the first film, I thought the ideas presented in the sequel were at least interesting and worth checking out, but the audience numbers just weren’t there.

The Hustle took fifth place this weekend with $6 million. The film, starring Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway, has not performed to expectations and was met with scathing reviews upon release. It’s no wonder it has ceased to find an audience. I personally was more than underwhelmed by its marketing campaign.

Finally, The Sun is Also a Star, the last major new release of the weekend, opened to a disappointing eighth place with $2.6 million. These types of films tend to do pretty good on streaming platforms, but as theatrical releases, this is a sub-genre that just struggles to bring asses to the seats.

So there you have it. The box office reporting for last week. I’m glad to see that John Wick, Avengers, and Pokemon are seeing good returns in the top three spots and as May continues to drop heavy-hitters, it will be an interesting box office battle to say the least.

Did you see anything this last weekend? What did you think? Let me know/Drop a comment below.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Bill & Ted 3 is Officially Happening, But Is It?

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Bill & Ted Face the Music, set to reunite the Wyld Stallyns played by Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter, is being shopped right now at Cannes. The report says that creators Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon wrote the screenplay that is being used, and that the film will be directed by Galaxy Quest’s Dean Parisot.

The film is in preproduction mode right now, and will tell the story of middle-aged Bill & Ted on another time-traveling adventure to find the greatest song ever written in order to save the universe.

Now, this is a chance for me to admit a fault: I’ve never seen Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I’ve never seen Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. I own them both, and they are collecting dust on my shelf. I’ll get to it, hopefully before this third film releases.

All in all, I’m totally for Bill & Ted Face the Music. I think a franchise like this doesn’t have an untouchable quality to it, and why not give it another go for a trilogy capper? Especially with original creators behind the script.

Yeah, let’s do this. Reunite the Wyld Stallyns.

What do you think? Are you excited for Bill & Ted Face the Music? Which Bill & Ted film is your favorite? Let me know/Drop a comment down below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For more Almighty Goatman,

John Wick (2014)

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Director: Chad Stahelski

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alife Allen, Adrienne Palicki, Bridget Moynahan, Dean Winters, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Willem Dafoe

Screenplay: Derek Kolstad

101 mins. Rated R for strong and bloody violence throughout, language and brief drug use.

 

You have to give credit to Keanu Reeves (The Matrix, 47 Ronin). As soon as he has convinced you that he has nothing more to offer, along comes a film like John Wick, and he totally redeems himself.

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John Wick stars Reeves in the titular role, a man who has just lost his wife Helen (Bridget Moynahan, TV’s Blue Bloods, I, Robot). When he makes an enemy of Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen, TV’s Game of Thrones, Atonement), son of the terrifying Russian mobster Viggo (Michael Nyqvist, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Europa Report), John decides that he must come out of retirement. John’s previous job: professional and international hitman, and he is very good at what he does.

Keanu Reeves owns this role and he has a lot of fun in it. Apparently, when you turn on John Wick’s violent switch, it isn’t so easy to turn it off. It does help that he has such a versatile group of supporting players from genre favorites like Ian McShane (Kung Fu Panda, Hercules), John Leguizamo (Ice Age, Chef), and Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man, The Fault in Our Stars), who all supply some deliciously cheesy hype for the man named John Wick (though, I should point out, be prepared to hear this name constantly throughout the picture; people cannot stop uttering it).

I enjoyed the plot of the film, the classic revenge tale with elements of secret societies and a code of honor involving a hotel sacred ground for hitmen. I wanted to have more elements of this world fleshed out further, but John continues on his mission. Did the film run on too long? You bet your ass it did. There was a clear-cut ending twenty minutes earlier that would have been perfect and set up the franchise well, but it just kept going.

Director Chad Stahelski, relative newcomer, offers up an interesting vision of his created world, and the cinematography adds elements of action from martial arts to Matrix-style gunplay, which Reeves knows all too well at this point. The film did spend a bit too much time on unimportant exposition as to playing to its strengths.

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All things considered, John Wick is a pretty fun flick that is a bit too long but has the makings of a new franchise. It is nice to see Keanu back in action and I hope this series continues providing stylistic action and exploring its world a bit more.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

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