THE MATRIX (TRILOGY)——gets a three-in-one write-up because they’re all of one, and the 2nd and 3rd entries merely repeat and amp-up the goods from the first. No doubt this short-shrift will come across as heresy to the devoted followers, but they can just lump me into whatever part of the fake world they believe these movies unlock.
Briefly–machines take over the planet. War ensues. Mankind gets the shaft. We fight back. Coolness conquers thermodynamics.
The Matrix was a BIG DEAL in 1999: innovative, thought-provoking, eye-dazzling, a critical hit and a popular bonanza. It handily showed up the lame Star Wars: The Phantom Menace that came out the same time: this seemed fresh, the Lucas epic went into hyper-stall.
I remember hearing the buzz beforehand, seeing it and enjoying the visuals and concepts and eventually tiring by the third act of all the excessive action (how many bullets fired?–more than WW1?). I missed the sequels–The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions when they arrived in 2003.
Recently caught up in a weekend blitz of the trio, and realized (a) that my first impressions basically held up regarding #1, (b) I had the same experience with #2, which I actually enjoyed a bit more, (c) same pluses and minuses with #3, but with a quicker opt-out as I’d basically already seen it and (d) found out how really big of a deal the whole shebang is to a lot of people.
I had an hour-long back & forth with a close friend who was/is blown away by the Relevance of these movies— to the point where when he left the room for another brew I half expected him to materialize through the wall, dressed like one of the actors (maybe they’re not actors–oh, they’re not really there—wait—we’re not really here—
and yet the credit card bills insist we are…
Now, Neo bless my buddy, who is a pretty sharp cookie, but insisting to him that I liked these movies was not enough: it was similar to trying to convince someone Born Again that there might be other ways of thinking…..okay, I’m a dope….
The first movie is 136 minutes long, the second three minutes longer, the third six minutes shorter. I think both of the first two could have been shorn by twenty minutes, and the third by twice that. It’s called Overkill, Mis-ter An-derson…
The first movie won four Oscars—Film Editing, Visual Effects, Sound, and Sound Effects Editing. All of these elements were sensational.
The first cost $65,000,000 and took in $463,000,000. The second spent $150,000,000 and raked $738,000,000. #3 expended $150,000,000 and harnessed $427,000,000. So, we’re talking Big Dogs here. All were directed by Andy & Lana Wachowski.
Casts—Keanu Reeves, Carrie Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne, Hugo Weaving, Joe Pantoliano, Gloria Foster, Jada Pinkett Smith, Harold Perrineau, Anthony Zerbe, Monica Bellucci, Lambert Wilson, Mary Alice.
The cast/s have a lot of fun, and they’re all excellent (Weaving’s off-kilter readings are inspired, and have become touch-stone classics for a generation of fans) and manage to make absurd or innocuous statements seem like Shakespeare. The Importance Factor is off the charts.
As to the visuals, they’re generally astounding, both in conception and execution, particularly the amazing choreography of the fight scenes. The monotonous griminess and bleakness of the set design wears some: give the sickly green a rest. The costuming is equal parts cool and silly. Sound effects are great, background music kicks.
I loved the massive dance/rave sequence in #2 (lots of people didn’t— I simply won’t rave with them when the time comes). Whoever had the concession to smashed-in wall segments caused by sonic-socked characters flying backwards into them must have been able to put their kids through Yale by the time the gig ended.
While much of the Meaningful dialogue goes over because of the intensity of the actors, and some great laughs are scattered around, it’s hard to care an iota about any of these people, none of whom resemble anything or anyone relating to the World As We Know It (that doesn’t exist!).
So vast amounts of machines attack and explode, ten thousand punches, kicks and slo-motion bullets wreak enough havoc to sunder the time-space continuum—and there is no real suspense, feeling, dread, cheer, lift (except for that dance!) that has anything to do with the lives of the viewer except as a “wow, how’d they do that?” chuckle.
There are reams of material online about the special effects, about the hidden meanings, about the connections to everything from the Bhagavad Gita to Beany & Cecil (no doubt furnished by entire mini-societies living under the Earth). Seek.