Trilogy Thursday: The Matrix
Hi everyone, Max from Impassionedcinema and Terrence from TheFocusedFilmographer are here to talk about a new trilogy for this installment in Trilogy Thursday. This week we take a look at the films of the Science-Fiction Action Extravaganza, The Matrix.
Max: A small action film was release in March 1999, called The Matrix. The Wachowski siblings decided to create a future that had humans living in a simulated reality because of their robotics overlords. The franchise would go on to spawn video games, comic books, anime adaptations, and two sequels.
No Lieutenant your men are already dead. Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) is trying to make contact with someone, but a quasi-antivirus program known as Agents has traced her. They want to delete her presence from the Matrix. A stylish action sequence featuring jumps off the wall and between buildings, the leather clad Trinity sets the pace from the rest of this stunning Science-Fiction classic.
The last surviving humans in the war against the machines are trying to find ‘The One’ that will secure their existence. Computer Programmer Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) is the answer to their prayers. Initially rejecting the help of the human’s leader Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), three Agents appear and try to stop Anderson from collaborating. Eventually Anderson is convinced to join these forces in the war against the machines.
What Anderson never imagined was that he would have to be reborn in the real world. Machines are harvesting humans for energy and using the Matrix to stimulate their minds. Anderson, now known as Neo, must work with his new teammates to win the war against the machines for their freedom.
To say I was blown away the first time I saw The Matrix would be a vast understatement. I was only fourteen years old the first time I saw the movie and it was on a VHS tape (one of the last). Since my first time watching the movie I can recite countless passages of dialog and massive amounts of acute details from the movie. One of my favorites is reciting the entire crew of the levitating ship called the Nebuchadnezzar.
With it’s incredible soundtrack and highly detailed world, The Matrix captivated audiences and has become one of the most revered Science-Fiction movies ever created. The lobby-shooting scene would become iconic being used for countless sound demos in home theaters everywhere. The end of The Matrix leaves the picture wide open of a sequel and at the time I couldn’t wait.
T: Wow! Remember the first time you ever saw that opening sequence with Trinity up in the air all Karate Kid style? Neo’s “Whoa” was the expression on everyone’s face seeing that scene…including mine! As that scene played out it became very evident that The Matrix was a film unlike any other. The Wachowski brothers (brothers at-the-time, now siblings), presented one of the greatest sci-fi films ever.
Running around in tight leather that most rockstars of the 80’s would envy, Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss star in this groundbreaking film that would spark a new love for leather, sunglasses, sound systems, slow motion, and college classes (as some were created that revolved completely around the movie’s religious and philosophical implications/allegories). While this film reminded us just how good of an actor Laurence Fishburne could be, it really helped expand the talented Hugo Weaving’s career.
With iconic action sequences, sci-fi innovations, and a unique spin on the question of reality, The Matrix delivered with a serious and darker tone that truly added to this fantastic film of the late 90’s. I was late to so many classes in high school due to watching this on my “extended” lunch break! Talk about re-watch value!
What worked? Its highly original take on a not so original idea in movies! The character and plot development along with the style of fighting and filming used combined to make it a super awesome film deserving of better sequels than it got. When The Matrix ended, I remember sitting there wondering? “What’s Next?! I bet it will be EPIC!”
Well…”epic” is not quite the word I would use in describing the following addition and conclusion to the story.
Max: The widely anticipated sequel to The Matrix, entitled Matrix Reloaded, released on May 15th 2003. It was part of two sequels to The Matrix that were shot back-to-back. I was invited to a screening of the film a few days earlier and I was beyond excited. I was about to see the sequel to my favorite film of all-time.
I’ll try my best to summarize the events of Matrix Reloaded without sounding like a mad man. The last human city, Zion, has announced that they are under attack from the machines. With the humans finding Neo, perhaps they were intimidated and felt that the time was right to strike.
Neo is told to meet the Oracle. The Oracle is part of the Matrix, but she is an exiled program. She instructs Neo on how to find the Keymaker. By achieving this, Neo is supposed to reboot the Matrix. Apparently there were previous versions of the Matrix and The One. Unless Neo returns to the Source to reboot theresulting crash will kill everyone meaning mankind’s extinction.
In his dreams, Neo can see Trinity’s eventual death. Instead of rebooting the Matrix he decides to save her instead. When she still dies, Neo uses his powers to remove the bullet that killed her and restart her heart. In the real world, Neo now has powers he can use to disable the machines, showing his powers as a true god.
That’s the gist of the important material in Matrix Reloaded. Obviously that’s the biggest problem in this movie and in Science-Fiction sequels in general. The sequels always feel like they have to get bigger. Adding more characters and venues really hurt Matrix Reloaded. The fact that most of these new additions weren’t compelling was the icing on the cake.
In order to really understand a lot of the events in Matrix Reloaded, a viewing of the anime, The Animatrix, was really necessary. It fleshes out a lot of the backstory of the world and some of the characters that have roles in Matrix Reloaded were actually introduced in The Animatrix. It’s a shame that the Wachowski’s thought it was vital to watch a series of anime related shorts to be up-to-date with their Science-Fiction world.
Matrix Reloaded left me very deflated. I really wanted to love the film as much as the first. If I had to pick out the worst scene in the movie it would have to be the sex/rave sequence. While the intention to show the collaboration of the surviving humans against the possible future of an offspring between Neo and Trinity, it didn’t work very well. What the Matrix Reloaded still excelled in was fantastic fight sequences. Many of which still hold-up today. The fight sequence on the highway is probably the bright spot of the film and perhaps the entire franchise (yes it surpasses the fights in The Matrix). Nevertheless, I was disappointed by the film and held out hope that the finale would make up for it.
T: Four years later, the sequel to everyone’s favorite slo-mo Sci-Fi flick released in theaters. I remember standing in the line that wrapped all the way around the movie theater for a couple of hours just to buy a ticket to the first showing! Tons of us stood there getting to know one another and debate who was hotter in the first film: Trinity? or the Woman in the Red Dress! (If memory serves, Trinity won). With ticket finally purchased, we sat down to enjoy the continuation of the movie that defined so much of our movie taste during the last year of high school.
Sparking even more unanswered questions, The Matrix Reloaded is more of a parenthetical insert that bores more than thrills as a mainly useless stepping stone to the finale that occurs in the third installment of the series. Opening much like the first with a slo-mo sequence featuring Trinity, it looked to be almost as great as The Matrix. WRONG! With a great amount of promotion for the Cadillac CTS, The Matrix Reloaded is nothing but a busy and mainly forgetful messy attempt at keeping the hype and hope alive.
Much of it is unnecessary and full of philosophic reasoning and debate. While pretending that certain new characters are important, the most important parts of the film are in the first and last 20-30 minutes. We care very less when characters die in the sequel than we did in the first! Did anybody shed a tear when the guy with all the keys got lit up? But you almost did when Switch, Apoc, and Dozer were murdered. See? I rest my case! I mean, look at what this sequel offered by way of extra characters: a pair of creepy albino dreadlock wearing twins, a French power-hungry megalomaniac, a Jet-Li lookalike, etc. Yeeeaahh…pass.
So much could have been left out and replaced by much more pertinent sequences, or character development. I was disappointed to say the least. All The Matrix Reloaded did was introduce characters and drama, and induce further confusion. If I had to wait another four years to see the end, I for sure would be trading in my Zion Citizenship card for a Hogwarth’s Hall pass.
Fortunately, I only had to wait a few months for the conclusion to come to theaters (Whew, didn’t have to leave Zion)! One thing I can say good for Reloaded: it brought in some more great women to debate about while in line for tickets for The Matrix Revolutions! 😀
Round 2: Trinity vs. Persephone vs. The Woman in Red vs. Niobe (Winner = Persephone)!!