After discussing my thoughts on The Matrix
Reloaded at length with
friends/coworkers of mine yesterday, I figured I should probably post
them up here so folks could see what the goings-on were all about.
For those living in a cave or sans pop culture influence, The Matrix
Reloaded is the highly anticipated sequel to the ever popular 1999
film, The Matrix. To understand
what The Matrix Reloaded is about, you really need to have seen The
Matrix. But I understand that not everyone has, so let me give you the
quick and dirty on The Matrix:
Keanu Reeves plays a
computer geek, Neo, who starts waxing philosophic and questioning the
concept of reality. Suddenly weird things start to happen - he gets odd
messages mysteriously appearing on his monitor, he gets arrested by the
police… and eventually you see that he gets taken in by some apparent
superbeings who are somehow notorious in the computer hacker world named
Trinity (played by Carrie-Anne
Moss) and Morpheus (played
As it turns out, Neo’s questioning was correct - the world we live in
is actually a computer simulation called “The Matrix;” the real world is
a place where machines have taken over and use humans as a power source
(the heat, right?). Morpheus and Trinity want to free all the humans
from The Matrix and take the world back from the machines. There’s a
city of people (Zion) who have already been freed and are working on
this effort as well.
Not only that, but Neo is “The Chosen One” and has the ability to
manipulate the physical laws of The Matrix to suit his own needs. The
other freed individuals can do some tremendous stuff this way (which is
why they appear superhuman), but Neo’s a whole other story.
Okay, so while these characters are trying to free other humans, The
Matrix itself has got these “defense mechanisms” - sort of like
anti-virus software - called “agents” (picture the men in black that you
see on X-Files or some such) that hunt down and kill freed humans
running around in The Matrix. Hugo
Weaving (“Agent Smith”) has a
final showdown with Neo and Neo gains control of his newfound power at
the last moment, defeating Agent Smith and realizing that he is the one
who’s going to have to free all the humans.
There’s a lot more in the way of plot details and whatnot, but that’s
the long and the short of it. I highly recommend seeing it if you
Now, that’s the plot of the original Matrix, but what made it so
First, the cinematography was brilliance. The whole thing was filmed
like a comic book - very dramatic lighting, color filtering, and camera
angles. You could hold storyboards up next to the finished product and
every scene matches up perfectly. Put the storyboards in a
you’ve got yourself a graphic novel.
Second, the philosophy. The whole thing was a discussion about the
concept of reality - which is a whole other
(actually, a bunch of books). What makes something real? Is it something
you hear, see, or feel? But that’s just electrical brain impulses - is
that what real is? It also touched on a bit of religion with the Neo
thing - they imply that there was “another man” who could shape The
Matrix the way he saw fit. Jesus maybe? They never say. Regardless, they
discussed the whole thing without getting too “preachy” or annoying with
it. Good stuff.
So, now that we’ve talked about the first Matrix, how was
I wish I could say it was as good as the first one, but it really
wasn’t. The story continues in this one with Neo, Morpheus, and Trinity
returning to Zion (which is good, since we haven’t really seen that
aspect of things yet) to find out that the machines are tunneling toward
the underground city and will be there to destroy the human resistance
very soon. It’s Neo’s job to figure out how to stop it. Basically.
I won’t go too much into the whole plot because frankly, I didn’t see
much of one there. It was a light, fluffy, sci-fi/action film with two
utterly superfluous love stories attached to it. Neo, Morpheus, and
Trinity have to figure out how to stop the machines from destroying the
humans. Obstacles get in the way. Panic ensues. Stuff happens. Roll
Oh, and of course, this is a cliffhanger because the next Matrix film
is coming in November.
So what did they do right, and where did they go wrong?
First, what they did right:
Continuing in the vein of philosophy, this movie was a discussion about
free will versus destiny. Do we actually make our own choices, or does
it only seem that way? If there’s a such thing as destiny, then it
doesn’t matter what “choices” we make because in the end, everything’s
already preordained to happen. But if it’s all destiny, then what about
our own free will? That was the aim of this one, and I think they did a
good job of getting that together again without being too preachy about
They also throw in a bit of feeling on the human “tribal mind.” People
all getting together for a common purpose, feeling raw emotion together
and harnessing that power. That was good.
But that’s about it. The rest was all wrong:
They didn’t maintain the same cinematography. The first Matrix was
comic-book-on-film, and that was good. This one was a standard action
movie. The innovation of the dramatic camera angles and whatnot just
didn’t exist in this one.
The love stories were ridiculous. One (Neo and Trinity, established in
the first film) was necessary but seemed a little more… animal… than
it needed to be. The other, which I won’t go into, didn’t even really
have a place in the story. If you had left it out, it wouldn’t have made
a difference to the plot.
That’s actually how a lot of the characters were - if you left them
out, it wouldn’t make a difference to the plot. Sort of like they were
“placeholders” or something. There were some very interesting
characters, but they just didn’t play any role. For example, the
Monica Bellucci character
- beautiful lady, but really didn’t serve any purpose. There was a
German guy, Monica Bellucci’s husband, who was so extraneous that not
only do I not remember his name, but the only thing I can classify him
as is “an obstacle.” That’s all he was - something like a wall, just
standing in the way. In the way of Neo… and in the way of the plot.
Finally, the fight choreography. All the fights in the first movie
seemed fast and furious, yet still controlled. In this one… all the
fights felt like they were in slow motion. There was no challenge for
any character in any fight because everyone seemed to anticipate
everyone else’s moves, making it less like a fight and more like a
dance. Now, I thought about the fact that the moral of this movie was
free will versus destiny and that the fights, with everyone anticipating
the - dare I say it - destined move of their opponents, was just a way
to further that idea… but then, I may be giving them too much credit,
and the fights may just have been kind of bad.
All in all, I didn’t think it was as bad as people have told me it was.
I’d heard enough bad reviews that my hopes had been lowered sufficiently
to enjoy it for what it was. I do hope they pick it up for the third
movie in the fall. What I am disappointed about is something that my
friend Tim at work brought up when I was talking with him about this -
that this is now a great idea that’s been done, and it was wasted on a
poor execution. Very unfortunate.