Our resident student movie critic is Evan Zraket, 2022. His rating system is based on Somerville's 7 Hills (Central, Clarendon, Cobble, Prospect, Spring, Winter, and Ploughed) with 1 Hill being the lowest rating and 7 being the highest.

Movie Review: The Matrix: Resurrections

by Evan Zraket, 2022

The fourth installment in the Matrix Franchise, The Matrix: Resurrections, is now in theaters and on HBO Max, and it is… interesting. As a disclaimer, this review was written assuming you have seen the first three Matrix movies, so if you have not seen those movies and something in this review seems to be out of context, that is probably why. Also, spoiler alert is implied if you haven’t seen the others.

The best place to start is to give some context to the production of Resurrections. Like many modern reboots and remakes, there were people saying that it did not need to be made. These critics included Lana Wachowski, one of the two directors who helmed the original Matrix trilogy, and the director behind Resurrections. Knowing that Warner Bros. would move on without her, Wachowski decided to join the project to have some control over the story she originally helped create. This was the reason why there were some not-so-subtle criticisms of Warner Bros. in the movie that the executives at WB somehow allowed to remain in the final cut.

Shifting focus from behind the scenes to the scenes themselves, there are a few things from the original trilogy that Resurrections builds upon and improves. One thing I really liked was that it showed how humans and machines had developed to living together after the events of Matrix: Revolutions, which added an interesting sense of world progression as well as world building to the Matrix universe.

Another positive aspect were the performances. There were no lines or scenes that were jarring enough to take me out of the movie, and the entire cast seemed to have at least some chemistry with each other. The last positive I noted while watching was how Wachowski used flashbacks to the original movies to not only serve as reminders to audiences that did not binge watch the entire original Matrix trilogy before seeing Resurrections (yes, I did do that, thank you for asking), but to create a sense of cohesion with the original three.

Unfortunately, these are where the positives end. One downside was that it ditches the martial arts fight scenes from the original trilogy, replacing them with fight scenes that only consist of people shooting at each other (and Neo occasionally remembering he’s the One, and using his Force powers, as if he is a Jedi or something). In my opinion, while guns can still be used to create intriguing fight scenes (see John Wick, also starring Keanu Reeves), the way they were used in those movies made it feel like the production was too lazy to actually choreograph fight scenes, and instead relied on people lazily shooting at extras.

Another downside is something I like to refer to as “Force Awakens Syndrome” (referencing Star Wars: The Force Awakens). This is when a remake or reboot closely follows the basic plot structure of the original story simply for nostalgia purposes. The plot here is similar to that of the first Matrix movie, making Resurrections feel even more boring, as it does not feel like it is exploring new narrative territory.

Another thing I feel Resurrections didn’t get right was falling into the same trap the second and third Matrix movies, Reloaded and Revolutions did. Too much of the plot was set outside the Matrix, which removed a lot of the mysticism and intrigue of the Matrix itself, making it feel less like this strange computer world and more like a place for the protagonists to beat up faceless thugs with physics-defying action that the audience had seen already.

The last grievance I have is not as central to the movie itself, but one that really irks me personally: how Resurrections handles Agent Smith. This movie does not have Hugo Weaving continue his role as Agent Smith, but instead has an actor doing what seems to be his best impression of Weaving’s Agent Smith. I am not trying to diss the actor in the movie, (he gave a good performance) but there is no Agent Smith without Hugo Weaving. So much of what made Smith so entertaining in the original trilogy was Weaving’s mannerisms and line delivery, which had the ability to sell the audience on the idea that Smith was an AI gone rogue. Not only did Smith not feel like Smith, but also his character arc in the original Matrix trilogy seemed to be completely disregarded (seeing as he died in the third movie), which was true of other characters like Neo, albeit to a lesser extent. In short, I feel that including Agent Smith simply for fans to say “Oh he’s from the first three movies” instead of making him even somewhat important to the plot resulted in him dragging down every scene he was in.

Overall, while you may get a decent amount out of this movie, I would not classify this as a must see.

I give The Matrix: Resurrections, 2 out of 7 hills.

Movie Review: Spider-Man: No Way Home

by Evan Zraket, 2022

The new Spider-Man movie, No Way Home is now in theaters. It is the third and final installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Spider-Man trilogy with Tom Holland, and was undoubtedly the most anticipated of the three. I truly do not know where to begin with this film.

As a fair amount of you may know, there were many rumored appearances of actors reprising their roles from past Spider-Man movies, including Toby Maguire, Andrew Garfield, Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, and Jamie Foxx. There were also rumors that Charlie Cox would return to the Spider-Man universe as Matthew Murdock from the Netflix series, Daredevil (go watch it, is very good). The anticipation around this movie was at a fever pitch, and unlike many other movies with even a fraction of the hype No Way Home received, the movie actually lived up to the hype, at least in my opinion.

As much as I want to talk about how much this movie did well, there is little about the plot I can discuss without getting into spoiler territory (even though you may have gotten it spoiled for you if you have been on the internet in the past six months due to all the plot leaks that got released). In the past two Spider-Man movies set in the MCU, criticism was leveled at the character for feeling more like Iron Man Jr. instead of Spider-Man from the comics. These objections came from the lack of consequences and responsibilities Peter Parker faced (as well as a lack of Uncle Ben for that matter), and feeling that Spider-Man was dealing with messes caused by Iron Man instead of stopping these villains because he felt the responsibility to do so.

Neither of these problems appeared in No Way Home. Peter’s Aunt May fit into the role of Uncle Ben, teaching Peter about how “with great power must also come great responsibility.” Additionally, with the death of Iron Man in Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man is no longer in any character’s shadow and has much more agency in the plot.

Outside of just Peter Parker, it feels like every single character had more development than the past two Spider-Man movies. Characters that used to just be comedic relief or awkward side characters were more fleshed out, making the story that much more interesting.

While the first 20-25 minutes may feel slower, once the plot really gets going, it does not take its foot off the pedal until the very, very, end. Speaking of the end, No Way Home has one of the most emotional endings to a superhero movie, on par with the endings of Logan and The Dark Knight Rises. Something that helped the plot was the fact that the director of No Way Home, John Watts, also directed the other two MCU Spider-Man movies, Far From Home and Homecoming, which creates a sense of consistency that helps wrap up the trilogy.

I give Spider-Man: No Way Home 6 out of 7 hills.