Andy and Larry Wachowski, The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Movies
November 18th, 2003 • 8:03 am

I know that I am way behind when it comes to seeing the latest movies… But it just so happens that I live in a remote area, that the local theatre is a very unpleasant experience (noisy kids, rancid popcorn, small screen, bad sound, etc.), and that my pay-per-view digital TV provider appears to have decided that there was not enough of an audience for movies broadcast in their original, untouched, letterbox format.

In other words, I typically wait until the movie is out on DVD, buy the widescreen version and watch it at home. Needless to say, this usually means a 9-month delay.

On the other hand, I find it quite appropriate to keep my distance from all the hype and whirlwind of opinions that typically surrounds the release of new movies… I don’t really need to see a new movie or hear a new album as soon as it comes out. I really don’t mind waiting until the circumstances are right. Besides, if a movie is any good, it’ll still be good 9 months later.

Back to the movie itself… I quite enjoyed the first Matrix movie and, even though I had not read much about the second one, I knew that it had — predictably — been trashed by a number of people.

I really didn’t find it so bad. It certainly is not as good as the first one, but the first one had an element of surprise that was simply impossible to reproduce. However, as sequels go, it could have been much worse.

At first, I was concerned about the lack of focus on what could be called the “mythology” of the movie series. There are quite a few rather gratuitous scenes in the beginning, and unfortunately such “diversions” continue throughout the movie. There are several examples, in The Matrix Reloaded, of scenes similar to the only one I didn’t really like in the first movie (the one where Neo and Trinity machine-gun their way through the first floor of the building where Morpheus is being held).

One of the prime examples is the one where Neo fights against hundreds of incarnations of Agent Smith. It’s just too “over-the-top” for my taste. I don’t mind violence as long as it has a purpose, a meaning in the film structure. But after a while, you can’t help but think: “OK, guys, we get the point.” It’s not self-parody. It doesn’t add anything to the movie. It’s pointless.

Fortunately, there are still efforts being made throughout the movie to address issues raised by the “logic” behind the whole concept of the Matrix. And the scenario adds at least one big new twist (the idea that we are already at the sixth incarnation of Zion and that the machine’s “architects” are working on fixing the “bug”, so to speak). There are also several attempts to redefine the exact role and function of existing characters (the Oracle, Neo himself, etc.).

And this second part of the trilogy ends with a pretty good cliff-hanger (the choice made by Neo) that makes you look forward to the third installment. (It’ll be another 9 months for me, unfortunately.)

What’s disappointing is the lack of focus. There are too many “distractions”, i.e. parts that the makers of the movie don’t even try to make fit into the mythology. (Of course, I’ll probably have to watch the movie again later on to see if I missed any clues in that respect.) I am not interested in graphic violence per se. I am not interested in comic book clichés. I am not interested in special effects for their own sake. I am interested in how these elements are integrated into a whole.

There is a bit more comic relief than in the first movie (the scenes with the Merovingian, for example), although the caricature is rather heavy at times — and the humour doesn’t really play an integral part either.

So, all in all, it certainly wasn’t as bad as I might have feared, but it wasn’t that great either. Maybe the Wachowskis should have taken more time to get it right. But there was too much commercial pressure, I suspect.

Oh, and for Prince fans out there, Nona Gaye has a part in the movie. (She plays Zee.) She reappears in the third movie too.

Comments are closed.

Leave a Reply

Comments are closed.