Movie Reviews

Hidden Gems: Keanu Reeves

In the month of March, a third month into full lockdown in the UK and our third lockdown, I really needed cheering up and I was hopeful that Keanu Reeves could save the day! If you aren’t familiar with the Hidden Gems Challenge, it was started by Mettel Ray and you can find her original post here. Her pick for March is Audrey Hepburn and I can’t wait to see what she watched! Speaking of Mettel Ray, this month she wrote an amazing piece called Ted Lasso: The Unexpected Appeal of the Good Guy. If you haven’t read it yet then please spare 5 minutes, it’s beautifully written! But let’s talk about Keanu, shall we?

Why Keanu Reeves?

I was really late to the party when it comes to Keanu. I was fairly certain I’d seen the first Bill & Ted movie when I was a kid but I’d never watched any of the Matrix movies (until recently!). It wasn’t really until the release of John Wick: Chapter 3 that I became a real fan, and boy what a year that was for him anyway! I went on a bit of a Keanu binge in 2019 but I knew there was so much more of his work I had yet to see, so he was an easy choice for the challenge.

Statistics

Letterboxd has a whopping 124 movies listed under Keanu Reeves’ name. Some of these will obviously be not-yet-released movies and shorts but I don’t know where to even start filtering those out! I’d seen 19 of them, which is a decent number but a less than impressive percentage! Out of the ones I’d already seen some of my favourites include John Wick: Chapter 3, Speed, Toy Story 4 and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

I’ve also seen John Wick, John Wick: Chapter 2, The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, The Neon Demon, Point Break, Always Be My Maybe, Bill & Ted Face the Music, Knock Knock, Keanu, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, The Lake House, Destination Wedding, Replicas and Siberia.

As before, I tried to pick 3 movies where Keanu Reeves played a main role, and so my choices ended up being My Own Private Idaho, The Devil’s Advocate and Hardball.

My Own Private Idaho (1991)

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This was easily the movie I was looking forward to the most, it sounded so interesting. Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix play gay hustlers travelling from Portland to Idaho in a quest to find a family member. Whilst on their travels they play tricks for money and drugs and wind up attracting the attention of a wealthy benefactor. Mixed into all of that plot is the fact that My Own Private Idaho is also a loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry IV. Sounds crazy, right?

I’m uncultured and not well versed at all in Shakespeare so maybe that’s what to blame but I didn’t understand this movie AT ALL. For the first half I was just happy to be tagging along on the wild ride but I was just so lost. It’s got great reviews though so worth a watch if you haven’t seen it yourself!

The Devil’s Advocate (1997)

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Moving swiftly on to The Devil’s Advocate, a movie that I was sure I wanted to see but was hesitant about it’s runtime (a few minutes shy of 2.5 hours!). Keanu Reeves plays a hot shot lawyer from Florida given the opportunity of a lifetime to work for a big time lawyer (Al Pacino) in New York, who just so happens to be the devil himself.

What an opening scene to a movie! Loveable Keanu Reeves, a defence lawyer for a teacher accused of sexual abuse stands up and, knowing damn well the guyis guilty, somehow manages to sway the jury and the teacher walks free. It was shocking – and I started to wonder what kind of online reaction that scene would cause if it were in a movie released today. Regardless – it’s all part of the plot and the movie itself was highly enjoyable. Not enough for me to call it a gem, but still good.

Hardball (2001)

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Oh. My. Goodness. I’ve had to actually step away from blogging after watching Hardball because all I wanted to do was talk about it and I knew I had to wait until this post! I don’t care about the lukewarm reviews, Hardball is easily a hidden gem in my eyes and easily oneof my favourite movies of all time. Keanu Reeves plays an aimless young guy addicted to gambling and thousands of dollars in debt. In a way to try and claw his way out, he agrees to coach a baseball team made up of young black kids from a deprived estate in Chicago.

It’s such a feelgood movie. I was rooting for Keanu to turn his life around but it was those kids who made it for me. One of whom just so happened to be Michael B. Jordan! If that wasn’t crazy enough, he just so happens to be another one of my picks for the Hidden Gems Challenge! Anyway – I won’t spoil it but there’s a pretty heartbreaking twist towards the end of the movie that I didn’t see coming and I don’t think I’ll ever recover. It was only not getting a conclusion to one particular kid’s story that stopped this being a full 5/5 for me, to be honest.

Final Thoughts

A mixed bag for sure but despite My Own Private Idaho being a personal dud for me I’m sure it’s something most others would enjoy. Hardball is going to be a really tough movie to beat for the rest of this challenge! I had to look back at my own announcement post to check who is next and in another twist of coincidence April is dedicated to none other than Michael B. Jordan himself! So be sure to check back this time next month!

Blogathons

Ultimate Decades Blogathon 2021

Drew and Kim are back again with their Ultimate Decades Blogathon! In previous years they’ve covered the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s and 10s – but rather than go back further in time this year they’re switching up the format and are focusing on years ending in a 1. You can find a list with all of this year’s entries here. With so many movies in so many eligible years, it was impossible for me to pick just 1 movie to talk about so instead I’m bringing you 5 of my favourite movies spanning 5 decades!

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1971 – Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

I’ve watched very few movies from the 70s but one of those just so happens to be one of my childhood classics. Watching it now, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is quite a terrifying story but as a child it was magical. Didn’t we all just wish we could visit the factory and eat all the sweets and chocolate we could?

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1981 – Raiders of the Lost Ark

This blogathon serves as a perfect reminder that I need to have an Indiana Jones marathon soon. I remember watching the Indiana Jones live show at Disney World as a child and thinking I was watching the real deal. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ve seen every movie in the franchise yet so watch this space but in the meantime, can we all agree Raiders of the Lost Ark is the best of them all?

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1991 – Beauty and the Beast

I talk about this amazing, greatest of all time Disney movie far too much so I’ll keep this brief but come on, this was the only option for me. My Mum likes to tell me that this movie was played so much when I was little the VHS tape was worn to nothing but as it’s also her favourite Disney movie I’m not convinced that it was me who demanded it be played daily.

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2001 – Donnie Darko

There were a lot of movies I wanted to pick for this year but it has to be Donnie Darko. It opened my eyes to a movie genre that wasn’t animation, action or comedy and was basically the beginning of my love for weird movies. There’s something new to discover with every watch of Donnie Darko.

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2011 – The Muppets

Yes, I know this is an odd choice. There were some fantastic movies released in 2011, but I’ve realised that subconsciously I’ve been picking movies that mean something to me on a deeper level rather than simply great movies, and so I had to pick The Muppets. If I were to explain my sense of humour to you – this movie is it. It’s essentially me in movie form. And fun fact – at our wedding we walked back down the aisle to ‘Life’s a Happy Song’!

Lists

Thursday Movie Picks: Bookish Movies

England has just entered what is being called ‘Lockdown 2’ so I completely forgot it was Thursday today until I was checking my blog feed. I just feel like all new things should start on a Monday, you know? More on the lockdown later this week though, I have something fun for you all this Sunday. So – this Thursday Wandering Through the Shelves is asking us to share some of our favourite ‘bookish’ movies.

It’ll be a really interesting week as there are many ways to interpret the theme, but all of my choices are movies I’ve loved for years now, and their main characters all love books.

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Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Everyone in Belle’s town finds her odd because her favourite pastime is reading a book. Maybe it’s because it was my most watched Disney movie as a child but as a pre-teen who loved nothing more than reading, I saw myself in Belle, and she’ll always be my favourite Disney princess because of that.

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Matilda (1996)

What is it with childhood movies and their hatred of children who like to read?! Belle might have alienated her town for her hobby but Matilda was scorned by her very own parents for it! Seriously though, Matilda is just such a classic, I’m terrified it’s going to be re-made within the next few years and as much as I’d hate that to happen, I’d still be super interested in the casting choices.

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The Good Girl (2002)

Back when I was a mopey teenager with a love of the TV show Friends, a discovery of movies outside my childhood favourites and a growing crush on Jake Gyllenhaal, The Good Girl came along and fulfilled all of my desires. It’s a mopey movie and I watched and re-watched my DVD (or it may even have been a VHS) so many times. I loved Gyllenhaal’s character Holden, and his obsession with the book The Catcher in the Rye.

Blogathons

Thursday Movie Picks: Undercover

It’s probably about time I admitted that I’ve been undercover all this time. Secretly, I’m actually a great blogger who writes concisely and elegantly and keeps to a strict writing schedule in order to post consistently. Just kidding, sloppy, incoherent and inconsistent me is the real me – nothing is going to change about that!

I do always try, though, and keeping up with Wandering Through the Shelves’ Thursday Movie Picks is at the top of my list. This week’s theme is Undercover, and whilst there have been many iconic, serious movies that fit the subject (Reservoir Dogs, The Departed, etc) I’m not going to talk about those today. My picks are pure fun!

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21 Jump Street (2012)

2012 was a magical year for Channing Tatum. He was obviously already well known for the Step Up movies but in 2012 he not only stole the hearts of women everywhere with Magic Mike, he broke those hearts with the romantic weepy movie The Vow, and then cheered us all up with the surprise hit, 21 Jump Street. It’s a remake of an 80s show where Channing and Jonah Hill play 2 cops going undercover as High School students to take down a drug ring. It’s honestly one of the best comedies of the decade!

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Miss Congeniality (2000)

I just love Sandra Bullock. It doesn’t matter what the movie is, if she’s in it I’ll watch it. I haven’t seen Miss Congeniality in years but Sandra basically plays a tough cop going undercover in a beauty pageant, and it’s as funny as you can imagine. It must have done well at the time because they made a sequel, but it’s sadly nowhere near as good as the original…as always!

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Point Break (1991)

Sometime, a week will pass without me mentioning Keanu Reeves. This week is not that week. How can I not mention Point Break?! Keanu plays an FBI agent going undercover as a surfer to catch a group who are suspected bank robbers. I only watched it for the first time recently (before Keanu fever hit, thank you) but it was so much fun! I ended up watching the remake straight after and actually compared them – excuse the self-promotion!

Movie Reviews

Point Break (1991) vs. Point Break (2015)

I was feeling pretty blue last week, but a visit from my family and a chat about movies never fails to perk me up a bit. They’re forever taking recommendations from me, but this time I got some recommendations from them! Turns out one of my Mum’s favourite movies is Point Break (1991), a movie I’ve always known the name of but knew nothing about, and so not only did I give it a go last week, I also watched the 2015 remake so I could compare the two.

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Let me explain the plot of the original first just in case you haven’t seen it yet either. There’s a group of people robbing banks dressed as former Presidents of the US, and thanks to some footage from one of the crimes, one detective has the theory that the criminals are surfers. Keanu Reeves is an undercover cop that worms his way into the surf scene in Los Angeles and ultimately finds himself becoming close friends with the leader, played by Patrick Swayze.

No need to beat around the bush, it was fairly obvious that the gang that Keanu Reeves got himself in with was going to be the gang committing the crimes. But that’s not really the point, because this movie has so much else to offer. It has tension, action by the bucket-load and a romance that doesn’t feel unnecessary or forced. It also has one of the coolest scenes ever (Keanu Reeves on his back shooting at the sky) that I recognised from being spoofed and referenced in other things I’ve seen.

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I loved the ending, too. I thought it would end with the bad guys being caught, the good guys live happily ever after, blah blah blah, but the actual ending was a welcome surprise to me. Plus dare I admit it, I feel a Keanu Reeves obsession coming on. Is this the right time to admit I’ve never seen The Matrix?

Anyway, it was whilst on a high from seeing Point Break that I decided I would watch the 2015 remake. Oh what a stupid mistake that was! It’s impossible to write something coherent and intelligent about the differences, but allow me to list some of the things that annoyed me the most:

– New Keanu Reeves was blond and new Patrick Swayze was a brunette which confused the hell out of me constantly

– The actual bank robberies were mentioned briefly and that was it, rather than them playing a huge part of the story

– Any actual plot was thrown away in favour of stunts

– The only moments that were properly remade from the original were done in terrible ways. The moment Utah started shooting at the sky made me laugh it was so bad.

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Honestly, they could have just copied the movie frame by frame, word by word and it would have been better. I’m all for giving an old story a new lease of life but the best parts were trashed and replaced with crazy stunts just for the sake of action.

Put simply, it was LAME. I’ll stick with the original, thanks!

Bonus GIF:

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