May 29, 2003

Warning: Spoilers for, and scatterbrained whining about, The Matrix Reloaded (just in case I'm not the last nerd on Earth to go see it)

It took George Lucas 20 years to forget everything that made people love his movies. How did the Wachowski Brothers manage it in just 4?

God, what a mess. I couldn't wait for it to be over so I could give my eyes a rest from rolling every 15 seconds...

And I don't just mean the little nitpicky things. Like how this ragtag society has got it together enough to build a gigantic underground city and fantastic hovercraft and Matrix-sneaking-into technology and so on, but apparently they've forgotten the ancient human secrets of sewing and laundry detergent. Or how Neo can stop bullets in midair just by doing a "Talk to the hand," and yet he can't keep all them boots out his damn face. That's all carried over from the first movie, but it didn't really bug me then because of everything else that was going on. They kept things hopping. But this one just draaaags. Your mind wanders, and you start thinking about all the stupid stuff that they should be distracting you from thinking about.

I mean, why did they think anybody would care about a bunch of guys sitting at desks arguing about chain of command or whatever? They even had a fucking Meeting Of The High Council scene. You know, like every other Meeting Of The High Council scene that's ever brought a movie to a complete stop? Where a bunch of characters whose names you don't know argue about shit you don't care about? There should have been subtitles at the bottom, like:





I don't even want to get into the Sweaty Cave Rave scene, or the Cyber-Cake That Gives the Cyber-Blonde a Cyber-Orgasm for Some Reason scene, or any of the several dozen Wheelchair Guy from the HBO Original Series OZ Talking to His Girlfriend Who I Think Is the Sister of the Two Brothers from the First Movie But I Am Neither Sure Nor Interested scenes...

And why did everybody act so surprised that Agent Smith could make copies of himself? He's a piece of software. Why wouldn't he be able to? Just right-click, dude. He can probably even rename them if he wants. Or they could just be Agent_Smith(1), Agent_Smith(2), etc. But anyway, don't they have file-sharing in the future? Or maybe that's the point, maybe the Wachowskis are sick of everybody downloading their movies for free, and that's their big "fuck you guys" gesture. Every time a Smith gets kicked in the teeth, it's a blow against Kazaa. Neo's like, "Whoa... I know copy-protection fu!"

Speaking of the totally insane special effects battles, they were okay, although you could always tell when it was all-CGI. Even with the realistic flapping cloaks and wrinkled clothing and facial mapping and whatnot, the CGI characters all had a sort of plastic look to them. Although the programmers did do a pretty good job of giving them weight and mass, unlike the CGI in stuff like Spider-Man and all the trailers for The Hulk. And I liked the deal toward the end where they recreated the Millennium Falcon escaping the Death Star II from The Empire Strikes Back, except with Ted "Theodore" Logan gone all goth and zooming around like Superman.

And in defense of Laurence "Larry" Fishburne and his extra poundage... Yeah, he's fat, but he was the only one who really made me feel it when he was doing the kung fu shit. He wasn't just going, "Punch, punch, punch, then dodge, then you kick me, then I jump," like you could see all the other actors thinking. He was into it. Even though you could tell the speeding semi he was jumping around on was fake, he made you believe that he was fighting for his life.

Oh, and the two other good things about it: Monica Bellucci. Holy shit. Just show a couple hours of her walking around in that dress and call it The MILFtrix Re-boner'd!

To avoid going out on a positive note, may I bitch about the ending? The incredible shock ending? "Oh no, look who's on the medical table next to Neo! It's that little creepy guy with the beard! Remember? Back like 2 hours ago? Agent Smith did the black-oil-taking-over-people's-bodies thingy, and then somehow he took over this guy's mind in the real world I guess, because the guy was totally cutting his own hand with a wicked knife and watching the blood flow and getting a stiffy because he's a crazy computer program in a human body, and, and check it out! Now that same guy is right there with Neo! I'm pretty sure it's him, at least, even though his face is upside-down in the very last freaking shot of the movie, and we only saw him for a total of 45 seconds before that, and what's his name, even? But whatever, there he is! Unconscious! With Agent Smith in his noggin! In the real world! Where he can't do gravity-defying kung fu or dodge bullets or take over the bodies of any nearby humans or make a zillion copies of himself or any of the other stuff that made him dangerous in the Matrix! Dude, how many microseconds till the sequel?!?"

Shoulda listened to Lileks.

Verdict: Two Pocket-Protector-Covered Thumbs Down

(Photo courtesy of Hoos)

Posted by Jim Treacher at May 29, 2003 07:07 PM

How bad could it be? It didn't have Jar-Jar or Shatner in it.

Posted by: geedis at May 29, 2003 09:18 PM

How dare you disrespect Shatner? Have you not seen Free Enterprise?

Posted by: Joe at May 29, 2003 09:36 PM

I am amazed at the sheer strength of will that it must have taken to write an entire review of this movie without once mentioning the albino Fabio twins.

Posted by: Lane at May 29, 2003 09:39 PM

Sheer exhaustion, more like. Although now that you mention it, that little carseat fu scene was kind of okay...

Posted by: JT at May 29, 2003 09:44 PM

You're over reacting. The Oracle/Frenchman/High Counsellor/Architect conversations were the whole movie. Many interesting things were discussed there. All the minor charcters were just set up for the third movie.

The argument over "chain of command" had more to do with the belief in the truth of the prophecies of the oracle, which were what the whole first movie hung on. The "high council scene" continued this theme. You missed the whole point of the movie.

Further the reason the humans did not have basic technologies was because they did not build or establish zion themselves. The machines did it. The current zion populations is merely the 6th generation of human replants by the machines. And the main question that is still unanswered as the oracle and the frenchman bring up is- Why?

Posted by: Shawn at May 29, 2003 10:42 PM

No, the main question is: Who cares?

Posted by: JT at May 29, 2003 10:54 PM

You're right, Joe. Shatner IS better than Jar-Jar!

Posted by: geedis at May 30, 2003 12:15 AM

Crap. I thought I was watching The Matrix: Reloaded, but then Shawn comes along and tells me I was really watching Waiting for fucking Godot. I'll be damned if I didn't foolishly leave my notebook and lighted pen at home when I went to the theater. I guess I should have paid a lot more attention to the subtext of the dialog than, oh, I dunno, expecting to watch a fun, entertaining, and exciting movie in the same vein as, say, just picking a completely random example out of the air, that movie from 1999 with all the kung fu, cool effects, and the fun plot, I think it might have been called "The Matrix", but I'm not 100% sure.

It's a damned shame, Shawn, that you weren't able to communicate your deep insights to the Wachowski Brothers before it was too late. They could have released the sequel as a book on tape and saved a fortune in special effects costs alone!

Posted by: Robin Goodfellow at May 30, 2003 01:25 AM

"You missed the whole point of the movie."

I thought the point of the movie was to entertain me for a couple of hours.

Posted by: Robert Crawford at May 30, 2003 06:57 AM

>The incredible shock ending?
>in the real world I guess

They're not in the real world, that's the shocking ending you didn't notice. They're still in the matrix, there still is no spoon. That's how Neo stopped the sentinels. That's how Agent Smith got in the "real" world.

Someone watching the movie without sophmoric negativity would have picked up on this.

Posted by: Joe at May 30, 2003 07:34 AM

I fear that there will be nothing but orgasm-giving cakes in The Sims now.

Posted by: Laurence Simon at May 30, 2003 08:07 AM

Shawn, you could have driven home the same plot points by lopping off the first hour and leaving the Architect speech and one of Murphus's speeches. You've (the rhetorical you) already sat through long-winded pontificating from Murphus, the Oracle, Frenchie, and Creepy Old Guy, by the time the Architect tells us what the point of the movie is, you've tuned it out because "oh christ ANOTHER speech? JUST FIGHT!!"

This is your cue to say "I guess movies that make you THINK are too hard for you."

Even if I were 18 again and at my most stoned, I'd think the speeches and the rave at "The Temple Of Whatever Faith This Is" were pretentious drivel. Dark City was less clumsy at 1/10 the budget.

And I'd guessed the big shocking revelations about Zion and Joey Pants before anybody told me thing one about the sequel. Cause, see, I already read The Invisibles.

[Murphus is (c) Neill Cumpston]
[The plot of The Matrix and The Invisibles is (c) the Cathar Heretics of the 16th century]

Posted by: Thad at May 30, 2003 08:07 AM

"sophomoric negativity"?

Look, the whole movie was an exercise in sophomoric pseudo-intellectual babble, interspersed with CGeye-candy. Except for the ace DUCATI commercial in the middle of the flick, the shit blew major donkey.

What guy do you know finds the Trinity character REMOTELY attractive, let alone sexy? Watching the Love Interludes she had with Keanu was like watching an elderly nun get it on with Dave Attell or the guy from Men's Wearhouse.

Adding special effects to an amateurish metaphysical epistemology tract made it no less tedious. The fucking Milli Vanilli twins added a welcome element of farce. Again, the only saving grace was about 20 minutes of listening to engine music from the Duc 996.

Posted by: otolathe at May 30, 2003 08:18 AM

Joe got the ending. The humans think they are free of the matrix, but they are really not. It's like that waking up from a dream and then waking up from dreaming it was a dream and ... or, theres a univerese inside this atom, which has atoms, which have little universes ... or, like those little soviet dolls where there's a penis inside a penis inside a penis inside a penis ... oh ya, there was some mathematical probability hoo-ha thrown in there as well - specifically thrown in there so fast as a gimmick so folks will go back and see it again and again to try and parse the fast words of the architect. The matrix needs the humans because there is an element of probability that mathematical logic cannot account for. This is going to be a big subplot. It's like standard deviation from the mean, or 10 not evenly divided by 3 or the fact that no matter how hard you try, you keep sleeping with your looney ex-girlfriend.

Two observations: 1. Yeah all this stuff makes it kinda lame, and it wasn't nearly as good as #1. 2. Who cares, it still tried a little bit harder to have some thought behind it, which is better than I can say for the repeats of "Con-Air" under diff names I been watching for the past 5 years or whatever.

Oh, and treacher rules, even though he's a punk.

Posted by: Bill at May 30, 2003 10:01 AM

I was kind of wondering if they were still in the Matrix at the end, or some kind of superstructure of the Matrix, or whatever. But by that point it was all I could do just to sit still for the closing credits. Not to mention that they ripped off Star Trek: The Next Generation enough, what with all the old people sitting behind desks being very boring, without ripping off that one episode where Professor Moriarty made Picard think he was on the real ship when he was really still on the holodeck the whole time.

Plus, didn't I say in the headline that it was scatterbrained whining? Don't take it personally, friend Joe!

Posted by: JT at May 30, 2003 10:22 AM

My thoughts exactly, Jim. I was laughing out loud at the rave scene. And WTF was with the Superman stuff?

Good call with the Ted "Theodore" Logan remark...that is who Keanu Reeves will always be to me. Wyld Stallions Rule! Or the dude from Point Break-- "I am an EFF-BEE-EYE agent!"

Posted by: ginger at May 30, 2003 10:56 AM

"The Oracle/Frenchman/High Counsellor/Architect conversations were the whole movie. Many interesting things were discussed there. All the minor charcters were just set up for the third movie."

If they're going to promote the movie as the action-packed sequel to the action-packed original, and then make it all about the dialogue, perhaps there should be handouts, or a primer, or something.

Posted by: Phil at May 30, 2003 12:23 PM

"I know Kung-Few!"

Posted by: geedis at May 30, 2003 12:29 PM

Oooh - I just thought of something else. Morpheus is now portrayed as like this religious zealot, pitting faith vs. being rational. And it seems as though he is disproven in this installment ... But how the Matrix is gonna wind up is that faith IS rational ... the prophecy will come true because of a mathematical anomoly ... man, tha's so deep I wet my pants.

I guess the point is, at least the movie opens itself up to analysis. It's better than 99% of the crap out there, even though it's seriously flawed.

Posted by: Bill at May 30, 2003 12:41 PM

"I guess the point is, at least the movie opens itself up to analysis."

Yeah, but so does "Groundhog Day". At least it was amusing and fun to watch.

Posted by: Robert Crawford at May 30, 2003 01:54 PM

There is nothing so wrong with The Matrix Reloaded that would not be improved by firing Laurence Fishburne and replacing him with Bernie Mac.

Clearly, the first thing the machines did when they took over was exterminate all the funny, irreverent, know-how-to-have-a-good-time black people, and only leave the pompous ones.

Posted by: Mike G at May 30, 2003 01:56 PM

i saw THE MATRIX RELOADED a second time, just to confirm for myself that the action was cool and the talking was boring and witless and let's say boring one more time just for emphasis. the only chatty scene i enjoyed was the one with the merrill-lynchian, because he said stuff about pissing and wiping his ass, which always gets my attention when i'm coincidentally having the shit and piss bored out of me. and the oracle scene wasn't bad, because it's interesting to watch the late gloria foster and wonder how the watchoutskis are going to work around her passing in the next one - a talking spoon, perhaps?

and even the second time around, i kept doing a seinfeld impression during the scenes on zion - "who ARE these people?" the keymaker was my favorite new character, because the only truly entertaining twist in the whole movie occured when the keymaker whipped out a key to the motorcycle and saved trinity the hassle of learning to jump-start the bike with a three-second download. and why did it feel like we got to see less of agent smith even though there were more of him? and why do people keep defending this movie by saying "it's just the middle part of the story"? that's like saying the middle part of all movies should suck. which they usually do, except for the original MATRIX. end of transmission.

Posted by: doug "i love movies" benson at June 1, 2003 12:10 PM

I don't usually go in for gratuitous profanity, but you guys should check out Doug's movie review column because it's some darn funny stuff.

Posted by: JT at June 2, 2003 04:29 PM

You people are just negative. I am personally looking forward to the third installment, where after two hours of debate with the Colonel Sanders look-a-like, Keanu finds Bobby Ewing in the shower. Don't even try to insinuate this stuff isn't gripping.

Oh, and come on: "Clearly, the first thing the machines did when they took over was exterminate all the funny, irreverent, know-how-to-have-a-good-time black people, and only leave the pompous ones. Did you even watch that fabulous scene at the MTV Zion Beach House? Clearly, the machines exterminated everybody but (or the humans only rescue) all the people who know how to GET DOWN! (and to run complex machinery. But not, apparently, how to make enouogh shoes for everyone).

This is brilliance. Anyone who can get me to pay ten bucks for this crap is a damn genius.

Posted by: Jeremy at June 3, 2003 01:46 PM

I get a little tired of people pouncing on movies that aren't absolute perfection like a pack of wolves on a wounded moose. Anyone that thought Reloaded was boring needs their parents to take their PS2 away and get hauled to the doctor for an ADS screening. And all the so-called psycho babble was basic Eastern and ancient Greek philosophy folks. If it twisted your brain you got more problems than a bad movie experience. If you wanted the exact same thing you got in the first Matrix, go re-rent the first Matrix. They tried to do something a little different to make it worth your while to go see it. Also, people today are so spoiled by special effects their standards get impossibly high. Go rent an old Sinbad movie and then tell me the FX in Reloaded sucked. And if I hear one more person call it a freaking RAVE again I'm gonna scream. What pretentious fop invented that word to describe a party anyway?

Posted by: Greg at June 3, 2003 08:04 PM

Psst -- Greg... Eastern and Greek philosophy is boring.


Posted by: Andrea Harris at June 3, 2003 09:43 PM

Neo could kick Picard's ass.

Posted by: JT at June 3, 2003 09:52 PM

No, no, no, no, no. Long before the fighting started, Picard would have talked Neo into sitting down and working out their differences like civilized gentlemen. Neo, however, *would* kick Kirk's ass. And only boring people are boring. Nyah, Nyah.

Posted by: Oberon at June 4, 2003 07:09 AM

For all of us greek and eastern philosophically impaired out there here's a synopsis:


Posted by: Ben at June 4, 2003 09:45 AM

"And only boring people are boring."

I think you meant "If you're bored, you're boring." In which case, the Wachowskis are clearly bored with success.

Posted by: JT at June 4, 2003 10:19 AM

Well, I was being silly and waxing solipsistic at that point. But, this is a good thing, right? I mean, if the bros are bored with success, and then Reloaded isn't successful, then will they become unbored? And then less boring? And then bore us less?

I just bought the Animatrix DVD and watched them all last night. Two of those ten-minute pieces were worth the entire Reloaded!

Not that any of this will stop me from seeing #3 in November, mind you...


Posted by: Oberon at June 4, 2003 01:26 PM

"I get a little tired of people pouncing on movies that aren't absolute perfection like a pack of wolves on a wounded moose."

i'm not asking for perfection, i just wish hollywood didn't expect us to contentedly swim(fan) in a constant stream of crap. unfortunately, movies that reach the lofty level of near-perfection, like RUSHMORE, ELECTION, and the original MATRIX, come along at the sluggish rate of approximately 1.5 per annum. and isn't the point of THE MATRIX that people are zombies who sleepwalk through life without questioning the world in which they sleep/walk? or is the point that computers are ruining everything, particularly sequels directed by one lucas or two wachowskis? (at least bryan singer made a follow-up that actually improved on the first one, and didn't go overboard with the C to the G to the I.)

now if you'll excuse me, the mooseloaf is burning.

Posted by: doug "i love movies" benson at June 4, 2003 11:59 PM