Ten years ago, for a website I won’t name, I wrote reviews and the like. Most of ‘em were of sci-fi/fantasy films. And honestly, I’d forgotten I’d reviewed both The Matrix & its successor The Matrix Reloaded. (There’s a joke there, I’m sure of it.) Anyway, here’s both of ‘em, they’re quite short.
It’s an ages old philosophical question: what is reality?
Far be it from me to attempt to answer that…but you have to give the brothers Wachowski due credit for trying. And in such a palatable method too - they manage to blend themes of self-realisation, conformity versus individuality and future shock into a film that is essentially a new-wave old-fashioned sci-fi shoot ‘em up.
Granted, at times it can border on ponderous and is a little too caught up in its own mythology - but as entertainment, THE MATRIX is jaw-droppingly effective, so much so you’re willing to forgive its minor shortcomings. In a sense, THE MATRIX is the best comic you’ve never read - and with Geof Darrow as conceptual designer and Steve Skroce as storyboard artist, there’s a definite pedigree here. The codenames, fetish-style leatherwear and action scenes - standard aspects of superhero comics - are made over as new here, given reason and substance. Frankly, it’s easy to see why Grant Morrison took such offence…
While THE MATRIX is not an actor’s film - the special effects can be considered the true stars of the show - the performances are of a uniformly reasonable measure. Reeves’ novitiate; Fishburne’s charismatic revolutionary; Moss’ millennium Mata Hari; and especially, Weaving’s pinstriped computer program - they all lend definition to this unreality.The future depicted in THE MATRIX may not be user friendly, but the movie itself is the very best kind of thrill-ride, from start to finish. It’s a rare film that makes me go wide-eyed in awe - even on repeated viewing.
I still quite like The Matrix, although I was underwhelmed by the sequels - although, as the Reloaded review opines, I was holding out some hope:
Well, damn. Now I have to come back in six months, don’t I?
That was the first thing that came to mind upon leaving the theatre after the film had finished. And while I don’t mind, one is left with the impression that despite the wire-fu and heavy artillery, you’ve watched over 2 hours of info-dump.
Make no mistake, RELOADED is fun, and serves as an excellent sequel. The much-lauded fight scene showpieces (Neo taking on multiple Agent Smiths, and the lengthy freeway chase) are definitely worth the admission price, but - and this is a Sir Mix-A-Lot sized ‘but’ - it is a talky film. Very talky, in fact. So much so that someone like me - who’s waded through enough purple prose to choke a horse - was utterly lost during the Architect’s talk with Neo (parodied to great effect during the recent MTV Movie Awards).
Again, like its predecessor, RELOADED is not a film you watch for the acting (although it is of a reasonable standard) - you watch it to see Shit Blow Up and Bad Guys Getting The Crap Beaten Out Of ‘Em. If you want that, RELOADED has plenty of that in spades. If you choose to enjoy it on that level, you’ll be fine, and this will leave you good and amped for REVOLUTIONS at year’s end. If you dig the philosophy…well, there’s plenty of that as well, but you might find yourself making for the nearest library to make sense of it.
Is RELOADED an entertaining movie? Yes. But wait until REVOLUTIONS to make your mind up fully about what the heck it all means.
Heh, Roger Ebert I wasn’t!