on November 24, 2007
The Matrix Trilogy must be one of the most significant films of our time, and is likely to go down as an all time sci-fi classic along with the likes of Blade Runner. It is obviously laden with symbology fished from a variety of sources, but I wonder if the Watchowski brothers realised just exactly how powerful a metaphor for our reality they were creating.
The central premise that our lives are not 'real' but are steeped in illusion in order that our life force may be fed upon whilst we are enfenced unwittingly like cattle - this is a relevant and powerful message on many levels. It can easily be seen that this is true on a superficial level, with the rampant rise of ultra-aggressive capitalist consumerism, whereby everyone is 'sold a dream' in order to siphon off all income to profit the few, but it goes deeper than that, and can be used to catch a glimpse of some ideas on the true nature of reality. The overlap with material such as Castaneda is remarkable, with stories about the archetypal predator who is invisible, and feeds on us because he has 'given us his mind'. In all, it is a striking metaphor for the human condition.
Of course the great thing is that, even if you don't want to explore things to those levels, taken at surface value as a piece of entertainment, the Matrix is still a fantastic sci-fi/action trilogy, with colourful characters, awesome visuals, and a solid original plotline. Taken as a trilogy, this is a fantastic piece of film-making artwork, and the second episode seizes the now-established story and runs with it. The only let-down, as many have said, is that the second film ends abruptly and doesn't really stand up on its own as a self-contained entity - though it is always going to be difficult to be the 'middle' of a trilogy.
on November 17, 2007
I know of friends who only saw the first Matrix movie and that is a shame, as all three parts of the trilogy belong together as the journey of Neo and the change that happens to him along the way. It is a fantastic job that has been done in keeping the quality at the top without descending into making B-grade follow up movies as is often the case with sequels.
It is a movie that can be seen on many levels. Some will see it just as a great action movie which it is, but there is so much more to this film. It is a fantastic depiction of the journey of the spiritual seeker and the difficulties that he encounters within himself as he starts pushing against the prisons of his own mind and the multitude of programs that operates and which keep us small.
It also neatly depicts the way humans are kept as 'food for the moon' in Gurdjieff's words or simply food for ultra terrestrials. In the film this is depicted as humans, being little less than cultivated biological batteries for the machines.
The story is part of a trilogy and all three parts are worth watching more than once, as you will undoubtedly see new things each time. Things that start making sense only after some time of reflection and reading. In this regard I can recommend reading the book by Ouspensky called "In Search of the Miraculous", and the book by Laura Knight-Jadczyk called "The Secret History of the World".
Once again the graphics outstretched the story, and for this day and age the CGI did not exceed that of most movies. The continuing saga of the movie requires that you have seen the first one to get the proper background information. As with Keanu Reeves' portrayal of Siddhartha in "Little Buddha" (1994), this time a change of costume and he must deal with impermanence and the Vedic cycles. Super imposed on this gem of understanding is excessive action that would rival that of "Kung Pow! Enter the Fist" (2002).
Neo is supposed to be "The One" according to prophecy. According to Morpheus he is to lead the people out of bondage.
Is the oracle what she appears to be?
Will Neo, in the midst of endless kicking and shooting, go on to fulfill his destiny?
Or will the love of Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) interfere?
This story is not so comprehensive. It needs to be viewed as part of the series to make it worth viewing.
on July 2, 2004
I absolutely loved the original Matrix. I still do. It got me thinking about things I'd never considered all that seriously, such as the potential negative implications of artificial intelligence and ultra-sophisticated technology. I was also drawn to the philosophical issues it raised, and I was motivated to learn more about the ideas presented in the story. For me, no other film has held such strong intellectual appeal. I've watched the DVD an embarrassing number of times. I've never grown tired of it.
When I learned that two more Matrix films were in the works, I was overjoyed. Unfortunately, my joy came to an abrupt halt when I saw Reloaded. I fully admit that my high expectations contributed to my disappointment, but that certainly doesn't account for all of it. Among other things, Reloaded is so top-heavy with bombast and claptrap that I actually stopped caring about the characters and had no further interest in what might happen. I definitely don't enjoy these kinds of feelings.
I wanted so much to like Reloaded that I actually saw it several times hoping I'd missed a crucial element, or that it would grow on me, or *something*. But it continued to leave such a bad taste in my mouth that I had no desire to see Revolutions.
As luck would have it, however, I recently had an opportunity to rent Revolutions for practically nothing -- so out of curiosity, I went for it. I'm glad I did, because it helped redeem the overall trilogy for me, although not as much as I would have liked. The only expectation I brought to Revolutions was that it couldn't possibly be worse than Reloaded. Luckily it isn't, but it still can't touch the original.
One of the other reviewers has mentioned that an indefinable "something" is missing from Revolutions. Well, I can identify at least three things that are absent from this film: a plot, convincing dialog, and decent acting (with one exception, which I'll get to momentarily). I also discovered that Revolutions essentially has no human stars, despite the presence of Reeves, Fishburne, Moss, et al. The only true stars of this film are its special effects.
Granted, the effects are spectacular. The battle for Zion is a feat of CGI splendor -- although I would have appreciated it more had it been shorter. It's almost like the Wachowskis are trying to compensate for the film's shortcomings by clobbering the audience with protracted high-tech eye candy.
I was relieved that there aren't many hand-to-hand (or should I say foot-to-head?) combat scenes in Revolutions. There are only so many ways to kick a bad guy in the face, and I got more than my fill of such things in Reloaded.
Of the fight sequences that *are* in Revolutions, I found the super-duper burly brawl between Smith and Neo -- in the rain, no less -- to be cartoonish and silly. It was almost as bad as the "Trinity crashes through a window and repeatedly shoots at an agent while falling about a million stories toward the pavement" sequence in Reloaded.
Revolutions also continued the nonsensical double-talk so prevalent in Reloaded. I'm sure it's meant to sound profound, but to me, it only sounds foolish. "Why are you here?" "Because I choose to be." "What are you going to do?" "What I need to do." "What's going to happen?" "What's meant to happen." (Where's a wall that I can smash my head into?) Both Reloaded and Revolutions perfected the art of answering questions without answering them.
And what's with all of the endless squabbling in Zion, which started in Reloaded and continues in Revolutions? You'd think that people who have so much at stake would learn to work together more harmoniously and effectively. Instead, they engage sniping, whining, cursing, yelling, tantrums, petty jealousies, and head-butting. This became so tedious that I stopped caring whether or not Zion and its residents would survive.
Be that as it may, I consider Revolutions to be a worthy diversion if taken at face value. Any meaningful philosophical underpinnings vanished for me after the original Matrix. I approached Revolutions with the intent of trying not to think too much and just going wherever it wanted to take me. On that level, I feel it succeeds.
The one character I thoroughly enjoyed throughout all three films is Agent Smith. In Revolutions, I love the way Hugo Weaving pulls out all the stops and chews the scenery with such diabolical glee. In contrast, the other characters are merely boring. In some places, they're boring and irritating.
As other reviewers have noted, Revolutions ends in a way that leaves a back door open for a fourth Matrix film. Well, I have something to say to the Brothers Wachowski about that, starting with some hokey dialog that they, themselves wrote: "Everything that has a beginning has an end." (Naaah...really?) For me, the Matrix ended after the first film. That's where it should have stopped. Please don't make it worse by grinding out a fourth installment. Let it end now.
Meanwhile, since "cookies need love like everything else does," I'll be doing my part. I love cookies.
on June 30, 2004
It's almost a rule of thumb that a sequel is not as good as the original. There are of course exceptions to this--although I disagree with the vast majority of reviewers, and do *not* find "Godfather II" to be a superior film to the original, or indeed even *as* good, but that's an article for another time--but in the main, it holds true. Even for tripe like "George of the Jungle" and "Inspector Gadget," the drop-off is usually noticible.
And so it is with "The Matrix Reloaded," alas. There are interesting ideas in this film, and good connective tissue between it and the first movie, but in the main, I have to say it bored me. To say the film moves in fits and starts doesn't begin to state the case. I was actually stunned by the alternation of long, expository scenes where one character (or much more rarely, two) sounds off at length about the nature of reality, the validity of the matrix, and the whichness of what. Characters sit and talk (lecture is probably the more accurate term.) Characters stand and talk. Characters talk talk talk. Then there's hyperkinetic action. Somehow, one hopes that these two extremes would be better melded, but one hopes in vain in this particular film.
These scenes alternate with equally lengthy action sequences, some of which are enjoyable, but others of which were, honestly, for me pretty dull. The fight sequence on the freeway, which got huge amounts of press, was for me stultifyingly boring. After 5 minutes (it goes on for nearly 20!), I was looking at my watch. It wasn't that the stunts were bad; it's just that the plot didn't *move at all* while we're watching this lengthy monument to action sequences. And while I honestly enjoyed another sequence with Neo in the palace of a character called the Merovingian, even *that* one went on too long. Honestly, the whipsawing of the movie between "nothin' but lecturing" and "nothin' but fightin'" got old for me.
I gave this movie 3 stars primarily because, as disappointing as it is, it is still vastly superior to most of the science fiction/action film crud that comes flooding out of Hollywood every year. Compare this film to, say, "Eraser," or "The Punisher," and it rises by at least one star in the rankings.
on June 10, 2004
Before I went to see this in the theatre I read some reviews, which expressed disappointment after the excellence of The Matrix. On top of that, admirers of The Matrix were fed a giant wad of media hype about the two sequels. (I believe a car manufacturer even named a so-called new model the Matrix, which just seemed to be too coincidental with the opening of the movie to be a coincidence.)
I will admit that upon seeing Matrix Reloaded in the theatre I was influenced somewhat by all the hype and relatively disappointed reviews. Visually, it was magnificent on the big screen; but it seemed that there were no characters (not even the core trio) that invited me to be emotionally involved in the story. So, I left the theatre mildly disappointed. I don't think I let myself be as entertained by Reloaded as I should have. In retrospect, I let the hype and critical disappointment expressed in the media influence me too much.
I didn't buy Reloaded on DVD until after Revolutions was released on DVD; so, I had a few months to get over the hype and just watch it. It really is a terrific action picture, and has all the quasi-philosophical stuff that made The Matrix so fun. It takes the computer-based constructs of the first movie, and fills them out in a satisfying and evocative way. It loses one star, because it introduces new characters without really fleshing them out in a way that would be satisfying even for an action movie. All the CGI bravura and action in the movie needs more emotional grounding than the story provides. As a general rule, the more special effects a movie has, the more emotional grounding the story needs to give the audience.
Overall though, if you like action movies, you'll like the Matrix trilogy, including Reloaded. It's worth the money.
on June 9, 2004
The Machines are drilling their way to Zion, last bastion of the human race, and the humans are preparing their final defense. Not everyone accepts Morpheus' (Lawrence Fishburne) belief that Neo (Keanu Reeves) is the key to their salvation, so the crew of the Nebuchanezzar (spelling?) are on their own (in the beginning, anyway) as they reinsert themselves into the Matrix in search of Neo's final destiny.
Pay no attention to the nay-sayers. This film is lots of fun. I enjoyed the pseudo-philosophical speechifying on the nature of reality between spectacular CGI-loaded [scenes]. The Wachowski brothers have taken a lot of trouble to flesh out the world of the Matrix and polish it with a veneer of intellectual significance. You can think about it exactly as much as you want to; I'm sure the Wachowskis had something coherent in mind when they were writing all those speeches, and repeated viewing may bring clarity. Or you can just sit back and enjoy the ground-breaking special effects sequences with the sound turned way up.
on June 4, 2004
The Matrix is a great movie. It was received poorly in the theaters and by critics who boo anything they don't immediately understand or relate to. Over the last few years, The Matrix developed such a cult following that not one but two sequels were demanded of the Wachowski brothers. Thus, this trilogy was not so much born as created. It would have been more creatively honest of the Wachowskis to have demurred simply because its obvious they were not prepared to carry the battle past the first movie and develope any of the ideas raised within. Understandably, they put all their ideas into the first movie because, at the time, they had no reason to expect any demand for a sequel, much less two. If The Matrix is philosophy 101, then The Matrix Reloaded is remedial philosophy with occasional lame attempts at cleverness. Not coincidentally, the eye popping freeway action scene is the only really rousing part of the movie. The Wachowski's impulse is to have their cake and eat it too by physically expanding on both the matrix and the real worlds and keep most of the ideas intact. Instead of better or new, we get more. More places & more characters. Added to this, they tend to overplay Morpheus as a cross between Moses & John the Baptist & Neo as a Christ figure. The unconvincing romance between Neo & Trinity, several unnecessary minor characters (mostly militaristic macho hotheads & cool bad guy computer programs) and a city council that seems to consist mostly of rather relaxed rastafarians are all is just smokescreen. The Matrix benefited tremendously by not overplaying its impressive but not spectacular hand. Matrix Reloaded bets the house on the same exact hand.
on May 28, 2004
Remember that movie five years back about a nerdy computer hacker that got abducted by rebels fighting robots, and it turned out the robots had created our known universe inside our minds like a virtual game just so they could live off our energy, and after fighting three moderators called "agents" the hacker turns out to be the one who can manipulate the Matrix code to save mankind?
Well...forget all that.
Turns out the hacker is God, all the rebels are hippies, instead of the robots a bunch of old guys with names like "the Keymaster" or "the Architect" control the Matrix, one of the Agents is an all powerful being now, and finally there are dozens of levels between this world and the Matrix (yeah I know, they forgot to mention them in the first movie...).
But you know what? This movie was a serious waste of my time. It was. Half of it is mindless garble (Morpheus...for the love of God man SHUT UP!), and the other half is needless action. The guardian to the Oracle fights Neo apparently so he knows it's Neo...hey that's great, I wonder why security guards don't just knock people out instead of checking for ID's. And also...Neo fights all the Agent Smiths for five minutes and then flies away...WHAT THE HECK! Why didn't he do that in the first place? His friends are waiting for him, why waste their time? And further more...why waste my time! And the ending...oh my God. It just ends. Yes, that's right, after more than two and a half hours this movie just quits itself. I had heard stories that in theaters around America when "to be continued" popped up on the screen loud mumbling could be heard. Well, I was mumbling myself after the end of this thing. It was along the lines of, "Where is my dignity...cause I want it back."
And could some one please explain how Agent Smith comes back? He blew up in the first movie! How can he be copied if he was destroyed? You can't delete some thing on your computer and THEN copy and paste it! The best explanation they can come up with is, "I don't know how it happened, but it did." Wow, thank you, what wonderful writing. Perhaps if the writers had spent more effort on developing that than adding in horrible "me" and "us" jokes regarding Smith's clones it could have gone better. Hugo Weaving shows what a great actor he is by giving some of the worst lines in his career and still doing it professionally.
Gaaah. That taste of bad sequal is still in my mouth. The makers of the original Matrix have really gotten carried away with the storyline they originally did, so much that it almost ruins my opinion of the first movie. I can tell you one thing: this movie is NOT "like whiping my ass with silk."
on May 27, 2004
Ok...is it me or does this movie blow big time??? Let me just list why this might be the WORST FILM OF ALL TIME:
The fight scene with Neo and like 400 Agent Smiths...if Neo can beat 400 men at once, where is the drama later on in the movie when he fights 2 guys?? And this scene was so fake looking, especially the dog pile scene when Neo just pushes all of them off him, I had to check to see if my Playstation was on. And how come when the Agents get knocked down it sounds like bowling pins? I expected Neo to scream "STIKE!!!"
In the first Matrix, it is very hard to understand what is going on. But Neo doesnt know what is going on either, so as he learns, so does the veiwer. In Reloaded, you dont get that feeling. Neo, along with everyone else already knows what is going on. But us at home are totally lost. I couldnt follow this thing at all...and believe me I tried.
The first Matrix, the special effects were new, which made them fun to watch. When EVERY movie in Hollywood is doing the same camera trick, it looses its touch. Reloaded should have come up with something new and different.
Worst line in any movie ever...after Neo fights some Chinese guy, the Chinese guy says..."You never trully know somebody until you fight them". WWWWWHAT??????
Although I wasnt a huge Matrix fan to begin with, I thought the first one had somewhat of an appeal. The story was hard to follow but with these new special effects it made it interesting. This one, and I'm sure the final one also, is just horrible movie making.