The Verdict: The Matrix Resurrections

I was very much looking forward to this The Matrix sequel as I am a devoted fan of the first movie and I, as opposed to many others, also appreciate the sequels (especially Reloaded). So I was ready for it. HBO Max, which has just started its streaming service in the Netherlands, offered The Matrix Resurrections as one their main big blockbusters to stream. Bring it on! I thought, but man, what a total disaster this was!! Neo and Trinity are somehow still plugged in the Matrix and Neo works as a game programmer who made the successful Matrix game series and he falls in love with Trinity once again. How very meta. I hated this storyline and thought it didn’t work at all, but I continued to watch this turd hoping that somehow it would redeem itself. This never happened. Even the action looked much worse than in the original movies. How is that even possible? As much as I tried to like it, I cannot think of a single thing to recommend this for. It falls apart from the start and is best considered as a glitch in the Matrix that should never have happened.

The Matrix Resurrections is now available on HBO Max.

The verdict: to stream or not to stream? Definitely NOT to stream

The Verdict: Nightmare Alley

Guillermo del Toro is a terrific filmmaker, but Nightmare Alley is ultimately disappointing. It starts off well with a grifter (Bradley Cooper) who joins a traveling carnival in the 1940s. Here, he learns a mentalist act that he uses to independently become a successful psychic. Then he meets a psychiatrist (Cate Blanchet) who is out to expose him as a fraud. The atmosphere is a mix between a dreamlike David Lynch movie and a film noir. The cinematography and production design are obviously top notch and so is the cast. Where it goes wrong is the screenplay that Del Toro wrote with Kim Morgan based on a novel by William Lindsay. All the time (150 minutes!), you are waiting for a big reveal, but it never comes. This type of noir storytelling has programmed our brains to already know for certain that the main character is doomed, but how it eventually comes to pass in this movie is predictable and unsatisfying. Alas, Nightmare Alley may be a visual treat, but in terms of storytelling it fails to move the viewer.

Nightmare Alley is now available on Disney Plus

The verdict: to stream or not to stream? Not to stream

The Verdict: Palm Springs

“It is one of those infinite time loop things.” This familiar premise (“It’s Groundhog Day!”) is unapologetically used for Palm Springs. Nyles (Andy Samberg) is eternally stuck at a wedding in the desert resort city in California. He entered this time loop by walking into a cave that was opened by an earthquake. The major difference with the Bill Murray classic is that Niles can draw others into his comical hell. He did so with Roy (J.K. Simmons) during a drug trip and it pissed Roy off so much that he occasionally comes to Palm Springs to torture and kill Nyles (after which off course Nyles wakes up in his hotel room again with his cheating girlfriend). Things start to change when he meets Sarah (Cristin Milioti), the maid of honor and sister of the bride, and she accidently gets stuck inside the loop as well. After spending a slice of eternity together, she wants out, but is there a way? Spoiler: Improving your karma like in Groundhog Day won’t work. Despite the lack of originality, the time loop gimmick is used to maximum effect in Palm Springs and the result is genuinely enjoyable.

Palm Springs is now available on Amazon Prime

The verdict: to stream or not to stream? To stream more than once

The Verdict: The Last Duel

A movie set in the middle ages directed by Ridley Scott? That could work. Although the movie did poorly at the box office, it is actually quite masterful. The screenplay, adapted from a novel by Eric Jager, was written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck who are, don’t forget, Oscar winning screenwriters for Good Will Hunting. I think they – together with Nicole Holofcener – did an outstanding job. The Rashomon-like approach to the true story of a knight and a squire who battle over the love for a woman runs like clockwork. I am going to challenge Variety and say that the screenplay will be nominated for an Academy Award. It goes without saying that Scott is the right man to direct this type of film. He gets excellent performances out of his cast: Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer and Ben Affleck are all superb. So are the sets, costumes and cinematography. This movie deserves to do a lot better on Disney than it did in cinema’s. I agree with critics who said it’s Scott’s finest film since Gladiator. If Gladiator 2 doesn’t happen, this would be a great end for the career of the 84 year old maestro.

The Last Duel is now available on Disney Plus

The verdict: to stream or not to stream? To stream