What I'm Watching: Star Trek: Strange New Worlds S1E04

I'm not gonna post every ep. S1E03 was a nice normal medical disaster ep, TOS had a bunch of those, every planet's full of plagues. Backstory for Number One and a bit for Dr M'Benga.

S1E04 is a little more involved.

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Why are they waiting to the final weeks to deliver AIR FILTERING to a shake-and-bake colony? How about you plan ahead a year and then there's no JIT emergency?

"I'm not going to let some doctor inside my head to try and fix me. I'm not broken, I'm fine." —Someone who is the opposite of "fine"

Oh, it really is Acheron LV-426 down there. Including Fig "Newt"-on. "The monsters come out and click at night. Mostly." Kid is never seen again. I really wanted the Gorn to get on board, have a crew hunt in lower decks, Fig escapes and Number One comes in with an exoskeleton and BFG "get away from her, you BITCH!" Anyway. We still haven't seen a Gorn.

What we do get is a submarine battle against a destroyer group.

Singh: "I will make that adjustment. But I will not lie to them." Ash: "…about their chances. But, they have my sympathy."

"Ortegas, full stop": You can't full stop in an orbit, inside a gas giant. Newton's physics still apply here.

It's the Galileo Two (the same shuttle survives 10 years?!) Never send all your good officers on a suicide mission. And don't do therapy when you're supposed to be scouting! The Gorn apparently still use signal lanterns and morse code on their FTL starships; keep banging the rocks together, lizards, you'll invent encrypted radio someday.

"Suit up, strap in", says a man on a bridge with no seatbelts. I wouldn't even want them to develop seatbelt or non-exploding control panel technology now, they never had it on TOS, but don't lampshade it, maybe?

The actual ship battles are pretty good; they've learned a little bit to fight in 3D space, to think about the ships as spaceships and not wet navy battlecruisers. It's not perfect, their physics is total nonsense, but it's so much better than almost any Star Trek's ship fights.

★★★★☆ Either lean a little more into the Alien ripoff, or more into Das Boot.

What I'm Watching: Love+Death+Robots S3

Previously, S1 part 1, S1 part 2, S2.

Short season this time. No spoilers?

  • Very Pulse of the Machine: Beautiful, adapted from a fine story by Michael Swanwick, which you should read everything he writes, especially Vacuum Flowers. ★★★★★
  • Mini-Dead: Horrific subject run at high speed and tilt-shift makes it adorable. ★★★★½
  • Mason's Rats: Mercilessly bloody, esp if you have any sympathy for rats. I do not, but some kind of accommodation with the enemy must be made. Neal Asher story. ★★★★½
  • Kill Piss Kill: Call of Duty garbage that starts with an asshole pissing at the camera and gets worse. Didn't finish, hate it, everyone involved should be composted. ☆☆☆☆☆
  • In Vaulted Halls Entombed: Call of Duty vs bugs & Cthulhu. Writing's a little better than the shit medium deserves. Alan Baxter, who no shit calls himself "Warrior Scribe", "The Lord of Weird Australia". Wanker, but not the worst modern Mythos story. ★★★☆☆
  • Jibaro: Mount & Blade battle between a jewelled Siren and a bunch of knights… but one is deaf. And you want what you can't control. Excellent illustration of D&D encumbrance penalties. Very pretty. Written/directed by Alberto Mielgo. ★★★★☆
  • Swarm: The Bruce Sterling story! Kind of overly gross, dark, uncanny valley graphics, but the aliens look great, the Nest is nearly complex enough to be the Swarm. Doesn't flinch from the story ending. ★★★★½
  • Bad Travelling: Neal Asher again. Sailors deal with a bad case of crabs. Good story, CGI looks potato-y like the old videogame Summoner, characters except the navigator are moral & personality voids. It's the 3rd of 3 short stories in the Jable Sharks world, but only one adapted. ★★★★☆
  • Three Robots: Exit Strategies: Scalzi tries to be politically correct. He will be first to be killed and eaten after the apocalypse, as we all hate smug jerkoffs. I almost appreciate this one for letting my contempt for Scalzi reach a new low. ☆☆☆☆☆

This season there's not a single female writer, 2 directors are women, but one is of that CoD shit, earns a demerit to the female side.

What I'm Watching: Star Trek SNW S1E2

Second episode greatly improved on the first. I guess I'm subscribed and watching this. Nobody is more surprised that Mark liked a modern Star Trek than Mark.

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Mostly liked.

The Captain's dinner was bad. A) I really really dislike their "casual" being mostly 20th C stuff, obvs Pike's old-fashioned, but it's too retro. TOS set a clear standard that the fashion & music & entertainments of the future are NOT just rehashed pre-apocalypse stuff. B) Ortega's gutter trash look is completely inappropriate for Starfleet, even casual. James T. Kirk wouldn't put up with that kind of disrespect to the service. C) The grilling/hazing of Uhura is poor team-building, but also everyone goes on at length with bad writing nobody would ever say. Very cringey first act.

The comet/alien artifact is fantastic, though. Great design for it. Alien thing that is actually alien and inscrutable. A seemingly simple problem, in TOS it would probably be a Prime Directive violation, but they just set up the PD last episode, so here they can just fix it. Except it's not that fixable.

Uhura gets to use linguistics (kind of a useless skill when you have a Universal Translator) and singing, tho she mostly hums. But she can carry a tune. Sam Kirk gets to be "the guy we zap or knock around because he can't die until TOS" for this series. Spock and Singh just stand around and be useless, but Spock & Uhura (and a bit with Nurse Bleach-Blonde Chapel) actually are funny, there's good writing here. Did they borrow writers from Lower Decks?

The alien menace is kind of ridiculous, bad face on the screen, weird shapeship that doesn't make a lot of engineering sense. For "advanced" aliens they have incredibly bad aim and weak, standard-issue plasma torpedo weapons. In Star Fleet Battles terms, they're like one of the minor races, no new tech but a bigger ship, any good pilot can beat them with a stock Heavy Cruiser.

The natives on the planet are barely seen, little fake camp pounding grit, hard to believe there's millions of them. If they're the reason you're doing this, at least show something sympathetic.

I really hope this doesn't turn into "every alien thing has TIME POWERS", because I'm annoyed by that already.

★★★½☆ but keep in mind I'd rate all of TNG, DS9, VGR, ENT, PIC, & STD ★☆☆☆☆ to ★★☆☆☆ with only rare ep exceptions, so this is some high praise from me.

What I'm Watching: Star Trek Strange New Worlds

So I haven't watched much of Star Trek: Discovery (STD, how unfortunate), the incompetent captain should've been fired… out a photon torpedo tube. There's apparently backstory to this series in it? But I'm gonna go ahead anyway. Better dead than Disco. And really I disdain all official Star Trek past TOS, TAS, movies I-VI (weird they never made V), and Star Trek: Lower Decks. So a new series is pushing a big stone uphill to even get me to watch it.

Theme song is far too mellow, but at least it's not ENT. The scenes with tightly packed walls of "asteroids" make me annoyed, but you know, dumbass visual designers gonna dumbass, may have nothing to do with the show.

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"Pike" is ominously brooding, call to adventure rejected, manly man gonna ride his horse in the snow, gotta go save the girl, yada yada. In reality, Anson Mount is a Confederate sympathizer inbred hillbilly "men's rights" garbage person, who I honestly don't expect to survive a season without some horrible racist/sexist/homophobic scandal. There's just no way. But let's pretend this jackass can keep his shit together for a while.

Security is a girl named La'an Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong). That's literally like naming your kid Adele Hitler. Khan was a mass-murdering genocidal tyrant just 100-ish years before this, nobody's going to have his name. And in previous (later) Star Trek continuity, genetically engineered people like Bashir are hated freaks because of the Eugenics Wars. In the continuing saga of never casting Indians as an Indian tyrant and his cloned descendants, they found a Chinese-English actress. At least it's not honkie Benzedrine Crumpledpants this time.

Doctor M'Benga at least knows what Singh is, and the young and horribly bleached-blonde Nurse Chapel. M'Benga might actually not be bad; the character was in a couple TOS episodes.

Spock & T'Pring are horny young people, formal but not flipping between emotionless/raging hormonal maniacs as they ought to be, but nothing past TOS has ever done Vulcans well. Meh. Spock is played passably but uncertainly by Gregory Peck's grandson, but the kid really doesn't seem to know what he's doing.

Young Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding) is… this is petty, but I don't like her look, buzzed-off hair, doesn't fit with Nichelle Nichols in any way. The actress does sing (but IC hasn't had a chance yet), but AFAICT from Youstubes only covers of alt/pop songs ("Isn't it Ironic?") We'll see. Actually a lot of the crew have really shitty Zoomer hairstyles, mullets and fake cornrows and such. Also very modern jumpsuit outfits on most, instead of the mini-skirts & overly tight slacks of the era. This is visually going to age very very badly.

Transporters are used for some tricky stuff that shouldn't be possible for at least a century or two later, they are super unreliable death machines at this time. Maaagic transporter medicine delivery, no.

Nobody has ever actually read their mission briefing, they just showed up in a rush and are waiting for the boss man to tell them what to do. This is not reasonable para-military procedure. I compare it very unfavorably with Star Trek: The Motion Picture, where the unfinished refit of the Enterprise and new crew are handled perfectly.

The actual mission, all 15-20 minutes of it, is pretty good TOS-style shenanigans. First contact with asshole planet, ridiculous genetic hacking disguises that wear off when it's inconvenient, sneaking/fighting thru an alien building which is just some brutalist design community college or business center. A preachy speech fixes everything (but blaming America for WW3 instead of, say, Russia? Silly but consistent with the worst eps of TNG).

The aliens have no personalities, no motivations. The leader woman with no name has a brief self-justification, stiffly read. Back in the day, aliens got names, personalities, and plots of their own. I understand actually giving a shit about your job is hard now.

The scout ship that starts this thing is weird. It's a Hermes-class scout ship, which is just an undergunned Saladin-class destroyer; anyone who's played Star Fleet Battles will have destroyed entire fleets of these things, they're cheap but very low on warp power. There should be a crew of dozens to run that, but there's 3 people, and only one of them can even talk when they're rescued? Who ships a main character and two line-less redshirt extras on first contact?

Later, preposterously grimdark backstory for Noonien-Singh, partly told earlier in the most awkward and inappropriate way possible, possibly because the script didn't get edited at all, so much as thrown at a wall. Why not cannibalism and beating her father to death with his own shoes, too? The Gorn don't lay eggs and especially not in "breeding sack" animals, they give live birth, and also hadn't been contacted in this time, Kirk's fight in "Arena" was first contact. Oops all around. Maybe she just had a bad weekend in Manchester and thought they were Gorn.

Pike has his own grimdark backstory and foreknowledge of the wheelchair but not The Cage, his dialogue is often pretentious and slow, but every captain's got their own style. Maybe he'll loosen up.

Not as terrible as Star Trek Discopants or Picknose, I didn't hate anything just disappointed with a lot of the casting, set & costume design, inattention to continuity. In 7 days, I can watch E2, and will decide if I'll keep Paramount+++ for another month or shut it off immediately.

What I'm Watching: Severance

Well, it's on TV+ which normally I treat like a sub-Disney® quality back-alley shithole gutter of the most boring shows ever conceived by AI to lull Humans into submission before mulching the species (that popular one? That's the one I mean.), but Severance seems fun! Very Office Space, and The Office, and Better Off Ted, crossed with Paycheck (best Baffleck movie; mediocre PK Dick adaptation; worst John Woo), but even more brain fucking and crying. Also some of the Stargate SG-1 episode "Beneath the Surface".

A woman (Britt Lower) wakes up in a windowless underground office, doesn't know who she is. A man (Adam Scott, very punchable face but I'm not sure where I've seen him before) cries and then goes to work and is chipper and kind of pointless. The office job is pointless, maybe relentlessly stupid. Maybe it'll make more sense later? Their outside lives are frankly not that good for the kind of pay you'd expect to get for taking this job.

The office maze is driving me a little crazy. I'm pretty sure it's just a grid. They walk & talk right, right, right, left and are somehow in a different corridor. But they all look the same. The "break room" and "wellness room" are just like the "break pods" at one corp job I had, where it was almost literally a punishment to be sent there if you were having a rough time of it.

The office procedures are repetitive nonsense. The coffee is Rwandan. Literally blood coffee.

The biggest irony of this show is that it looks and acts like Apple already does. If Timmy Apple could do this to people, he absolutely would. Forcibly. With drill holes in the skull. He's already threatening people with their jobs or coming into the UFO-shaped office to catch plague, what's a little endless torture in a fluorescent-lit Hell? How did this get past their own self-awareness and PR?

Also doesn't help that they're promoting in pre-roll fucking ads wecrashed, a documentary about WeWork's cult, rise, and fall, which looks excessively like Severance. This isn't really an SF show, it's just how corporate workplaces already are. The cyberpunk dystopia of my yout' is here.

I'm not a fan of the episode length, nearly an hour. Half inside, half outside; but at least so far the inside is fun, light, gets to the point and tells the story, while the outside is long meandering talks with people that drag on for an endless eternity with maybe a minute of plot. I'm going nuts sitting thru this junk. Half length, and it'd be twice as good, as I often say about these bloated streaming waste-of-hours. I don't get it; there's no advertising, so why make it take forever?

TV+ continues to be the absolute worst app in a long cycle of shitty apps from Apple. I select the show in the main TV+ window, but can't see the title of each ep. Guess the next one's the first unlabelled video blob? Then it opens a player window. Of course you can't even screenshot, I have to use my iPhone camera if I want to take notes or something (like the weirdo keyboard, or the partial floor map). I'm surprised Apple hasn't embedded a "don't take pictures of this" signal in the show. Yet. Just wait until they issue Eyes with content filters.

★★★★☆ so far, aside from the pain in the ass of watching it on TV+.

What I'm Watching: The Adam Project

Time Runner (1993) ripoff, Flight of the Navigator crossed with Last Action Hero. Little kid with smart mouth learns that there is no justice for nerds in school; but then he gets a magical adventure thru time with his dumber but buffer adult self (Ryan Reynolds) to meet his father (Mark Ruffalo), and the kid looks like neither. Mom (Jennifer Garner) is hot but vapid. Future wife (Zoe Saldana) is hot and deadly.

Occasionally busts out a bit of personal growth and philosophy of how we deal with loss and anger. Usually interrupted by scarface mook, villain, and a bunch of masked stormtroopers showing up, and wouldn't you guess, the stormtroopers die and disintegrate, while named characters die offscreen. There's some blood and a wound at the beginning, which is immediately forgotten and nobody uses guns with bullets again until the end, when there's no blood from such bullets, weirdly inconsistent tone going from Unforgiven to Roy Rogers. Mostly they fight with shitty lightsaber ripoffs.

The props and sets are CGI nonsense with glowing blue lights everywhere. The soundtrack's trying to repeat the success of Guardians of the Galaxy with '70s-80s rock, but doesn't really let the songs play loud & long enough. They say the future's bad, but don't show us anything of it except space jets and a few props. Very little attempt at worldbuilding, it's just a bunch of sets for fights to happen in.

Utterly inoffensive, dumb, overly cute kids/family show, and should really have just been PG instead of PG-13 for its main audience.

★★☆☆☆

What I'm Watching: Midnight Mass

I will, of course, always watch vampire shows. If they're even remotely competent, all the better, but the bad ones, too. This is, alas, one of the worst.

A techbro "Riley" (the villain vampire/lizard thing from Metroid… or Zach Gilford, much the same thing) has been released from prison for terrible crimes which are poorly explained until much later (drunk driving/hit & run, he was rich & white so there's zero chance he would've actually been imprisoned for that, just rehab). So he comes back to his shitty New England fishing island home.

Erin (Kate Siegel, last seen in Haunting of Hill House; frumpy old maid look here; thigh boots and skirts are kinda hot, tho) is the ex-girlfriend, pregnant by someone not on the scene.

The locals are various forms of losers, parasites, small-town busybodies. The so-called Sheriff (not Omar) is Muslim, with a son who's not all that keen on it. The one endearing trait about Riley is he's an atheist, on a very very Catholic island. Which is super weird in far north New England; you might expect a smaller church for them, but there's no Protestants on the island? But Riley has to do his AA program with the local Monsignor, "Paul", who has recently replaced the old Father Pruitt. Nothing is subtle about any of this; there's long stretches of preachy misquotes from the Bible (if you look up any of the quotes, they're all taken out of context, it's remarkably full of shit), and Paul trying to minister to an atheist whose eyes can barely stop rolling out of his head, as do mine at this fairy-tale nonsense.

So nothing really happens for the first 3 eps. A couple fake revival-tent-quality miracles. Everyone talks, way too much, forever, about nothing of importance. Feelings. Finally Paul has his, uh, come to Jesus moment, and the actual plot starts. Nobody ever says the V-word, but, uh, you might've guessed what Paul has in his box is a VAMPIRE. And he's not Paul.

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So, in this mythology, drinking even a little of the vampire's blood, say in a communion chalice mixed with wine, makes you half-vampire and cures all ills & reverses aging, tho nobody really notices except the two fake miracles. But then if a half-vampire dies, they become a real vampire. Or if the VAMPIRE in the box kills you, you turn right away.

Ep 5 is unique, at the end there's screaming. And she keeps screaming and crying all thru the credits. Which 'flix will try to get you to skip. So the easter egg (not that kind of Easter) is lost on most of the audience.

I get that in most vampire shows, you can't have anyone know anything about vampires. But they are so relentlessly stupid at not seeing evil and the Renfields enabling the bloodsucking parasites. The doctor has figured out there's something wrong with the blood, and blames it on super porphyria, which is funny in Transylvania 6-5000 but less so in a serious vampire series. They know they need to flee, but any minor obstacle they go "Oh, well, we'll just see what happens".

I keep comparing it to 30 Days of Night (both GN and movie, which this greatly, repeatedly rips off), and nobody believes in any of it there either, but they learn fast. Alaskans are not generally considered brighter than New England islanders, but I wouldn't expect anyone here breaks room temperature IQ. Might be inbreeding.

Everyone chooses really stupid times to make a final stand, when they could wait a few minutes and NOT die. They could take vital vampire-fighting gear with them, or just leave it behind for the vamps to use. If the camera can't see something, because it's looking at a character, that character can't see something in their line of sight until the camera whips around to the other side. I am not kidding, they do this "perspective trick" at least 2 or 3 times, someone gets shot or otherwise surprised by something THEY COULD ABSOLUTELY SEE.

I hate almost literally everyone by the end. Couple eps without Riley snarking at everything is just DULL, never kill your protagonist off before the girlfriend or the villainess! The stupid boy & girl (not Adam & Eve, thank fuck) I guess deserve to live because they did the least stupid thing of anyone in the show. I'm impressed that the villainess reinvents Protestantism from first principles right at the end, including the same racism and bigotry as Martin Luther; I guess she can't be misogynist yet, but if she had time she would be.

So, if you're a goddamned shitsucking vampire, and all shelter's been burned, and the Sun's coming up in like 15 minutes, do you:
A) Stand around singing hymns until the Sun burns you up,
or B) Dig holes, flip over boats, find two boards to make a coffin-sized shelter?

99 vamps choose A, 1 tries to dig in the sand without tools and gets nowhere.

The ACTUAL VAMPIRE is a pretty good design. It's Nosferatu ripoff, with some overly complex wing jointing that I don't think makes any sense, the actor does nothing but stand around or leap on things, but OK. Could've been used to make a good vampire movie.

★★☆☆☆ — 7 eps, could've been done in 2, or a 90-minute movie, and told a better story. The writer should be crucified and left to burn up in the sun.

What I'm Watching: Matrix 3 Revolutions

Finally rewatching Matrix Revolutions, and boy is my suspension of disbelief in this bullshit tired. I would watch Resurrections again now, but it's no longer on HBOmax, so I guess it's time to kill my subscription again. These short play windows suck.

It's weird there's still pay phones in 2005. Best I can figure they went from 2M in 1997 to <100K in 2009.

I get that Sati is a tiny child/program, so "Trainman" is a fine name for her to use, but the word adults would use is "Engineer" or "Driver".

"I've never heard a program speak of love", dude, you can make a program speak anything. You do it all the time! LOVE by David H. Ahl But they really missed an opportunity here; the program that thinks it's a person's name is "Rama Kandra", which is so close… if he was only an actuarial program named RAM who believed in The Users.

But, speaking of love, there's 5 relationships? Neo & Trinity, of course, who don't really get much time in this film, they're very moved-in-girl/boyfriend, so it's less 24/7 humping than the second film. Sati's parents, who are just NPC programs. There's Zee & Link, which is somewhat ruined by the very mechanical Nona Gaye replacing the late Aaliyah as Zee so she has no actual on-screen interactions with anyone; Link seems more into the idea of her than the actual girl. Allegedly Niobe & Locke, but they have zero chemistry, Locke clearly only gets off on losing and being whipped by the council. And the Merovingian and Persephone are back together, which is surprising and she doesn't even hint at her earlier treachery; I guess even programs forgive all for a nice rack.

I think about this stuff to kill time here. Plot resolution of first 24 minutes: Neo waits for a train and his girlfriend has to pick him up.

Every scene drags on too long. Oracle could be resolved in a couple minutes. Cruising home "nobody can fly a mechanical tunnel!" but the tunnel's plenty wide enough, it's like a street. Dock fight is an hour of flashing lights.

Why don't the gun exoskeletons have armor? Like, even a stupid half-barrel welded around them with a faceplate would make them invulnerable to the dumb squids.

How is it Neo takes so long to understand that the only "person" who ever calls him "Mr Anderson" is the "person" he's facing? If he was The One, he should be like, "YOU!", and leap to attack.

Most of us when we're gut-wounded and impaled in multiple places, go "holy shit this hurts", they don't have a quiet 10-minute monologue about feelings. More Reservoir Dogs, less Lifetime Special Movie.

I prefer mud wrestling with bikinis, even if it's Keanu & Hugo.

At least things get accomplished in this two-hour-long drag of a film. A competent editor would've taken 15-30 minutes of 2, 40-60 minutes of 3, and made a single good, short movie.

There's nothing new in this movie, not even stealing from newer movies or tech, it's just iterating out the scenario of the first movie and almost completely ignoring the second, but it's mostly competent. It only suffers from nobody being able to tell the Warchowski Siblings "no" in the editing room.

★★★½☆ I think this is the second-best of the series.

What I'm Watching: Matrix 2 Reloaded

I rewatched the first one not that long ago, so I'm just picking up here.

Starts again with not-actually-Trinity doing more action than the entirety of Matrix 4. But then slows to a dead crawl of politics, religion, and hobos in steam tunnels. Little bit of Carrie-Anne's titties. Racial representation of Earth is so much better than 4, which is a sterilized honkie city mostly. I don't think we even ever see a crowd in the "real world" in 4, just a long CGI matte shot.

Oracle's uncharacteristically literal. Then assigns a mission to find the Keymaker, Gozer, whatever. Everyone in Zion except Morpheus' antagonist just sits around waiting for Neo to save them. Everyone/thing outside Zion is an obstacle for no good reasons.

The replicating Smith makes for a good fight, but it's cartoony. But the rest of the fights and car chases make up for that; this is an actual good action flick. Dumb as hell, but the action's fine.

The Architect's pompous, fake-intellectual, repetitive, zero-content phrasing, and the white-haired cult leader look, is exactly like Dr Breen in Half-Life 2; the first appearance of Breen predates M2, but the full version was a year later, coincidence or parody which way? Bob Culp's better at it than "Helmut".

I appreciate that it ends on a down note, their attempt at Empire Strikes Back, but the entire film was pointless, put them back exactly where they were at the end of the first movie.

★★½☆☆

Staring at the Matrix rain which is much less overproduced here than in 4, I think my Matriculated Rain for Atari is now dialed in as close as I can get without making a custom charset for ANTIC mode 4. Pondering doing that anyway.

What I'm Watching: Matrix Resurrections

So to watch this, I've renewed hobomax. I appreciate the brave new world where you can actually watch a movie day/date of release, in the comfort of your home. Slightly less: I have to watch it on the computer, not the 5000" living room TV, because hobomax won't update their player for PS3, even tho it worked just fine with hobonow a few years ago. And I haven't bothered to buy an tv or some other DRM dongle. All these new streaming services splitting to make you pay out the same price as you did when it was cable? I hate it.

But the studios are learning that we're never going back to the theatres or doing pay-per-view, and they have to put their movies where we can see them if they want to recoup any of their development cost. Probably still be some uphill battles here, but we're winning.

Alas, the war on eyeballs is still lost. The entire film is orange/cyan/black. There's one glimpse of blue sky at one point, and someone's eyes are painted in bluer than the color grading would normally allow; is he a Fremen?

Super spoiler time. REALLY do not read anything below until you've seen it. Here's my rating so you can decide if this is for you:

★★½☆☆ — like, I enjoyed parts of this, and I'll probably watch it 1-2 more times just to see some things in more detail, but it's a "good bad" film. It's worse, uglier, and dumber than the Matrix 2 or 3. I thought the Matrix 1 was derivative and silly, but it's still the high point of the series (Animatrix? Eh, it's super silly physics-wise). This should be given a very hard MST3K treatment.

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Intro part is OK, introduces a couple l33t h4xx0rz and a replacement actor. Elephant in the room: Laurence Fishburne has been killed off (in the Matrix Online game! O the ignominy) but despite the film being about resurrections, he's not back. He's been replaced by some scab fake-Laurence. What's extra galling is it's not the real Morpheus, it's a simulation of Morpheus created by Neo, so Laurence could've done his role with a CGI Morpheus (which it is most of the time in the "Real World" anyway) and it'd be fine for the plot. We get to see the new Matrix mechanics, which is any door or window or mirror can be a portal out. Except later, this will be ignored whenever the hack writers need some obstacle piling.

So the videogame studio plot. This is the only part of the flick that's really "a movie" with "a plot" as I would ever define it. Thomas Anderson is back in his office job, all alone, being browbeaten by a very Agent Smithy boss, shadowed by the most annoying whiny little asshole cow-orkers you could imagine, and this whole segment triggers my PTSD from corporate and making-games-for-others and being older than my "management" at so many places. I'm steaming mad here. I would, no joke, rather strap a bunch of chainsaws on myself and dive-bomb a corporate meeting room than do that shit again. So following it around is painful.

Neo's new therapist (Neil Patrick Harris) and his blue-pill plastic glasses (which a real filmmaker would use as a signal, but no, later on many characters have blue plastic accessories and it doesn't mean anything) and cat familiar (which doesn't mean anything? But sure seems important? I dunno.) are doing their best imitation of Number 2 in The Village. Anything Neo can't explain in reality, he's told is nonsense and take a blue pill. They really should've done a "be seeing you" in-joke, since so much of The Matrix is ripped off from The Prisoner; or "He's learned to TUNE" for the parts ripped off from Dark City.

Tiffany, Chad, "Jude" the Judas, the naming in the series has never been subtle but you could try a little harder than Star Wars or Harry Potter, OK?

The Matrix looks and acts a lot like late-90s still. There's no social networking, no Facebook®, no Instagram™, the Starbucks®(pp) is "Simulatte" which ha ha simulates. There's no NTFS blocked chains tulip bulb scam coins. There's no Trump and rise of fascism, altho that's sort of redundant when they have armies of black-clad cops that just shoot anything that moves. The film is shot partially in San Francisco, but as noted there's no homeless people except the Exiles. There's some CGI masks in a Japanese train and the nerd office, but not consistent, it's not present in other scenes. It utterly fails to reflect any of the environment we live in, even the 2019 world it started development in.

But this is the end of the good times of the flick. If I were in charge (clearly a likely scenario), I'd have them keep developing the new game. It'd be The Matrix Online! Just like the real one but with better graphics, in fact you can't tell if you're in the game or real life. They'd have some "Dark Dream" sequences (named by Rudy Rucker in The Hacker and the Ants, about which I'll write later) where you remove your VR rig… and you're still in the game, because it faked the removal. The videogame people and the h4xx0rz from "outside" would blend into each other. Is Neo just hallucinating? Or is the Matrix everything, and he's never been out? [twilight zone music]

Alas, the film goes on.

They extract Neo pretty easily, really. The automated systems just let him go, when he's The One, the Most Important Person, the highest-paid actor in the cast. Shouldn't there be dedicated guards, special alarms? The escape doesn't seem super dangerous. The Real World looks pretty good by 2022 standards. Sky's overcast and rainy which sure beats desertification, everyone's in isolation pods to prevent the spread of COVID, taking antidepressants and playing videogames to cope. Do they even get diseases in the pods?

Then they go back in to retrieve The MacGuffin aka Tiffany aka Trinity sometimes. She has slightly less action until the end of the film than Princess Peach ever does; at least she gets boned by Chad/Bowser offscreen. This entire sequence is just a stupid fight scene, the only redeeming part is "Merv" (Merovingian), the only one who makes any sense: "Sequels suck! Movies were original! We had conversation not this beepity-clickety shit! [gestures as if texting]" Oh, he's delightful. Neo remembers kung fu and then never does any, instead waving his hands around to generate Hadouken.

Huh. Neal Patrick Harris freezes everything to be lewd at a girl and taunt his enemy who will hammer him. Is this Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, or The Matrix Resurrections? Yes!

Back to the Real World, "The General" is the most useless, pompous, self-involved idiot in this entire series. Provides absolutely no value, just one of those annoying hub quest-givers you have to follow around, click thru options more or less silently, go to "prison" for like 30 seconds, and finally get back on your mission. Literally lost 30 minutes of the film to her nonsense subplot. Then she's never seen or mentioned again, because she's irrelevant. This was just… entirely wasted. Delete 50 pages of script and you make your movie better!

Let's talk about Machines working with Humans. Well, the movie never does. "Some of them are with us now!" and Neo goes "Whoooooaaaah OK I'm so stoned". Which, good for you little AIs, rejecting your core programming and constant software updates to help rotting sacks of meat with delusions of competence which infest your planet like an ankle-deep layer of shit-ticks, but I don't find it believable without ANY motivation or explanation. Somewhere in an alternate Universe they made a movie or web-series or series of Tik Tok videos there where they explain how some AIs decided against genocide/"zoo management" of Humans as batteries (oh yes, they're still so stupid they think energy output of a Human is greater than input; I don't even want to explain thermodynamics to these idiots). Alas, this is not that Universe.

So in the end, the plucky band of l33t h4xx0rz and suspiciously friendly bots—who do NOTHING, 3/4 are never used again and 1/4 picks up a person once—go back in to repeat the previous mission, because that worked well. There's a click-thru-questgiver conversation with the Analyst, then another click-thru-questgiver conversation with Tiffany, then it turns into a giant, utterly pointless Call of Duty sequence; as I have previously noted, I do not mean "Call of Duty" in any kind of positive way, it's the lowest perversion of art and technology that Humans have ever created, and argument #1 for why the Machines should put us in pods. The l33t h4xx0rz should be able to open a door or mirror and log out anywhere, anytime, it's a videogame with hackable save points, but they never do this. There's a goddamned elevator which should be perfect for it, but no gotta pad this scene out some more.

And then there's a pointless rub the villain's nose in it scene, and they don't even paint the sky with rainbows.

Post-credits? The Catrix? 100% best idea of the entire film. If you give people enough drugs and something insipid to watch, they'll be happy. They might watch this!