Reviews: The Matrix

A pretentious sub-par action movie

The idea that machines, who have harnessed the power of nuclear fusion, will use humans as "batteries" is laughable. It takes more energy to grow the plants to feed the humans than the humans will ever give back, let alone simulate Earth 2.0. It's called thermodynamics.

However, as usual, plot is the least important aspect of this piece of fiction.

Neo is a "hacker" who one day stumbles upon the Matrix. Note that the movie completely omits how and why Neo became a hacker or why he wants to find out about the Matrix. Actually Neo is a rather flat "messiah" character who is there just for beating up the "bad guys". He doesn't say much except "what is the matrix?" and "whoa". His entire "character development" consists of being kissed by Trinity and coming back to life to kill Agent Smith. That's it.

This film is primarily about "fighting the system", an infantile rebellion against authority. The entire world of the matrix seems to be designed for "cool" things, such as dodging bullets and slowing time, to happen. As usual it's style over substance and the directors clearly have no idea what hacking actually is. (Here's a hint: It involves analysing data from systems and coding your own programs, i.e not dodging bullets in a video game). The only person who actually looks at code in the movie is Cypher and he doesn't do anything except throw some punchlines.

The fact that all of the action scenes take place inside the Matrix makes it all very meaningless. Despite his knowledge of "kung fu" (which actually just means martial arts in Chinese), the fights are just boring old slo-mo wire-fu and contribute nothing of substance to the story. The shoot-outs are painfully unrealistic to watch and also boring because we can predict what's going to happen.

Besides that, the film also pretends to have a philosophical aspect, namely that of "life is just a dream lol" (antirealism?). This has absolutely nothing to do with quantum mechanics and anyone who claims that it does is hopelessly ignorant. Quantum mechanics describes particle behaviour using wave functions at sub-atomic scales. The Matrix describes the world as one gigantic video game. Big difference.

All in all it fails in terms of plot, action, character and philosophy.

Obssesions, wishes, and lots of shipping talk

This might be biased toward the awesome side of the scale. Why ? Well, because when I was little, I was supposed to go to bed and instead, I sneaked into the living-room and watched some of it. Even then I thought it was cool and I'll always remember the bright-green credits rolling down that bulky, black t.v's screen. Ever since I've been obssesed with it. Seriously, in Gr. 3 one of my spelling lists was all about The Matrix, if that's not obssesed I don't know what is !

When I watched it again as a teen, I still thought the overall story and the fights were awesome, train station fight is one of my favourites.

Personally, story wise, I wish we could have found out more about Switch and Apoc. Especially, Switch what with her, by Mouse's "Hypocrite" line, implied lesbianism or, possibly, bisexuality...what with Lana Wachowiski becoming her true self a few years ago, now. As for Apoc, well, Apoc just seems really awesome even though he only has a few lines. I like Matrix: Path of Neo because Apoc, at least, helps Neo out in a few scenes instead of being a, basically, card-board cut-out.

Anyway, one thing I also noticed in that viewing, that I hadn't noticed before - shipping. The fact that Neo/Trinity, didn't have very much chemistry to me. Or, rather that Neo didn't have any with Trinity. They barely do anything together, barley talk in-universe and then she's saying she loves him. That comes after a talk about the Oracle's prophecy for Trinity and a few implied scenes of her watching Neo sleep.

Sorry, but, I do not want any damned Twilight in my Matrix, thank you very much. It's a disgrace to what little, if any, sanity that I have left. In fact, I thought that Neo and Smith had far more chemistry in their scenes and would've been far more believable. Thus it was that I walked down the path of Shipping Goggles, Foe Yay, Slash, and Slash fic.

Feel free to dispute my shipping preferrences, I just think Neo/Trinity isn't very believable based on their, nearly complete, lack of interaction. Plus, you people still have canon, while I only have wishful thinking so don't get too huffy, please.

Either way, despite my story-line wishes and love of non-canon pairings, I can't recommend it enough.

The trilogy nobody wanted

Reloaded and Revolutions were filmed at the same time, and are basically one movie. This is too bad, because the sophomore slump affects both. The surface aspects of The Matrix are exaggerated. Everyone wears sunglasses constantly. Everyone is wooden. Everyone talks in fortune cookie crap. Who is the Merovingian? What does he want? Nevermind, he's just an asshole. Smith? Asshole. Twins? Assholes, but well-dressed. Worst of all, the priorities of the movie have switched. I get that the sequels were designed to be opposite from the original, spending more time in the colorful Real World than the washed out Matrix. But nobody cares about the real world, that's why it's titled The Matrix. Furthermore, the whole addition of Zion seems crafted to build a "universe", full of weirdos who don't really matter,* unless you go buy the video game and MMO. Well, guess what. I've played both, and they still don't matter. Thankfully, we get Gloria Foster handling the technobabble with her usual Hepburn purr, but I just couldn't connect with the likes of Seraph or The Kid.

  • Animatrix was pretty good - but that was by people who knew that they were doing.

Revolutions, the second half, has some interesting twists. The Matrix is in upheaval. In a scary scene, we see the Matrix code flickering madly as Smith contaminates it, but we don't see his havoc. We're left to imagine it. The "Smithworld" finale is good. Unfortunately, we have to endure a really noisy, overlong battle in Zion, dividing our attention from scenes more critical to Neo's success.

The Matrix was probably not expected to succeed. I sure as hell wasn't interested in the original's trailer. What we didn't know back then, however, was that trailers often make a movie look worse than it is. To save money on costs, Joel Silver had it shot in Australia with a cast of mostly unknowns, resulting in a taut thriller with some interesting faces and boffo acting. And of course you've got the groundbreaking effects and kung-fu fights. The battles are choreographed, but the characters are supposed to react like machines, so you don't notice. By the end, the series simply got too big. The Matrix is not about philosophy or spaceships! It's about Robots versus Kung-fu!

Hindsight has made me more objective

I was a major fanatic of the Matrix when it first came out. To illustrate how much, I watched the first movie once a week for probably 6 months, during 1999-2000. So it's very safe to say that I've seen it. I also lost my virginity to my ex-girlfriend with the music from Zion playing in the background. ;)

I just read koreandrunkhobo's review, though. I realised that in hindsight, I couldn't disagree with anything he said. Yes, it redefined the word, "pretentious." Yes, it was mainly intended to look cool, and there were plot holes all over the place, and yes, other than lip-locking with Trinity, as a character Neo doesn't really develop very much.

The best movie of the trilogy is the first one. I haven't ever seen anyone disagree with that, even among people who liked all three. There are some who've said that the latter two movies, strictly speaking, are not even real sequels at all, but are based on The Animatrix, which was their source material. Again, I agree. If you watch the first movie, and then the Animatrix, you will notice differences. It's subtle, but they're there.

Although not as good as the first one, Reloaded was still solid, although it is a balls-to-the-wall action movie, whereas the first movie only really got busy in the last act, and is mainly dialogue before that. Revolutions was fairly lame, and wasn't remotely close to what I was expecting; although it does have some good moments.

The other thing that sucked about the sequels, (particularly Reloaded) is that they feel like a Valentine from the Wachowskis to George Lucas. The Kid could be considered The Matrix Trilogy's answer to Jar Jar Binks. Commander Lock was also incredibly annoying; how did the Council ever put that idiot in charge of Zion's defense?!

The Animatrix was something of a mixed bag. You do need to see it in order to completely understand the two sequels, but some of the shorts are better than others. From memory "Matriculated," was my favourite, although "The Second Renaissance," has most of the exposition.

The series as a whole is worth seeing, if only to know what all the fuss was once about. Truthfully, I still consider the first film (and only the first film) to be one of the most important things that Hollywood has ever done; but don't expect as much perfection as some have claimed. You won't find it.