Hey folks, Harry here with Quint's review of THE MATRIX RELOADED, seems he and I were both on the same page of disappointment. The film just lacked the follow-through. For the record, I had to wake Father Geek twice during the film. Sigh... Now, beware of spoilers... Also, for the record, I'm looking forward to seeing the film again with the early audience this Wednesday because... well today, I saw it in a near silent auditorium that had very little reaction... Though I hear there was a screening in New York, that the cast of Saturday Night Live attended, and after the film as the credits rolled the audience booed the movie, and the SNL folks got up and did improv riffs on the film... That sounds cool.
Ahoy, squirts. Thaaaaatttt's right... It's the one and only crusty seaman, Quint, here with my views of one of, if not THE MOST, highly anticipated sequels out this year: THE MATRIX RELOADED.
So far it's been a good year for movie sequels. X2 is kicking all sorts of ass, from the Box Office's to the audience's, and we have two new Matrix movies, Freddy Vs. Jason, T3 and Return of the King still to look forward to. Funny thing is, out of all those movies THE MATRIX RELOADED has had the most negative reviews.
X2 got the fan vote as super badass and cool. Freddy Vs. Jason's test screening reviews have been very good. Those who have seen Peter Jackson's early (pre-pickups) cut of ROTK have said it's better than the first two films in the LOTR Trilogy combined. The T3 trailers keep getting better, showing a lot more promise (not to mention the word I've been hearing from inside the production is we, the audience, have no idea what the movie is about yet and it'll kick our collective asses... I, for one, certainly hope so). But then there's MATRIX RELOADED...
As of last night ROTTEN TOMATOES had MATRIX RELOADED listed as ROTTEN, with critics drawing parallels to the STAR WARS prequels. The reviews have been all over the map from Jizztastic to Stupid and Dull. All of a sudden, my unadulterated excitement about seeing the movie 2 days early at a press screening turned into a rather nervous excitement. I didn't want the movie to suck as bad as some were saying it does.
It doesn't. BUT... It's far, far, far from being a great movie. It's a movie with great moments and some interesting new characters, but it seems to have lost its way somewhere down the line.
Somewhere Laurence Fishburn stopped playing Morpheus and instead starting playing an even more exaggerated version of that character, almost to the point of self-parody.
Somewhere The Wachowski's, despite all their visual brilliance, decided to do whole sections of fight scenes solely with digital doubles, making a certain scene in the film look more like it came out of THE ANIMATRIX than a real live movie.
Somewhere someone decided it'd be a good idea to throw in a 4 minute RAVE scene, with people in Zion looking like something out of a GIRLS GONE WILD video.
Somewhere The Wachowski's decided to break the rules they set for themselves in the first film in order to make way for cooler fight scenes. This is terribly heartbreaking for me and my biggest complaint with the film. The first movie set the universe up so perfectly and smartly that it pains me to see that all a wasted effort.
Alright, you want specifics. There are jumps of logic that are so terrible that it pulled me out of the film, which is something very hard to do, especially when you have Yuen Wo Ping's masterful choreography to give me the old razzle dazzle. Why is Neo still wasting time with Kung Fu? He's surrounded by 100 Agent Smith's and he gets beaten on a bit? Sure, it's a cool scene, but when they're overwhelming him, why not just hover 40 feet above? He can fly. He can rewrite the matrix, right? Where are his super duper awesome powers when in the matrix?
Sure, he can fly... So... Being THE ONE means you can fly, stop bullets and fight better. Neo gets hurt in the matrix in this film. Wha?!?!? I thought he was a god in the matrix. He can stop a thousand bullets at once, but can still get cut with a blade? When he's attacked, why can't he just pop up the same force field he can with the bullets?
It's questions like these that plague the film. Unfortunately, instead of progressing from the first film it just lingers with the same old same old. The great thing about the first film was it was all this insane kung fu action that built and built and built, getting crazier and crazier with each passing sequence, then it got to the end and left us with a promise of something bigger and better to come. Sure, the fight scenes in RELOADED are bigger and more intricate, but it's still just wire-fu.
While I do have those complaints listed above, I must admit I did have a lot of fun watching the movie. I had problems during the movie (the rave scene, ANIMATRIX NEO, some of Morpheus' more self-parody moments, etc), but I still enjoyed the movie... It's after the movie's over, when you start to talk about it, what it could have become, what it is and why it is that way, that's when you see it's a bit of a mess.
The Wachowski's also open up a lot of doors to incredible coolness, then quickly close them before you can walk inside. We find out that there are old programs wandering about that aren't supposed to be there. Vampires, werewolves, ghosts... All in reality these rogue, out of date, programs. HOLY SHIT! NEO VS. A WEREWOLF... OR SOME SUPER AWESOME DEMON! We even get to see 2 vampires for a split second.
Now that got me excited. No way on earth did I see that coming. We get quite a good bit of setup for these rogue programs I thought there would be something to it, get real hardcore Anime style demons and monsters in there. Force Neo to use his Superman powers instead of trading blocks and punches like everyone else.
There is a lot of good in the film. I know this review is coming off as negative, but that's not what I'm meaning to do. It's easier to get into the flaws of the film than it is its successes. I hate ruining moments and surprises and the best stuff in the film are great moments and surprises. So, you can see why I'm not talking about those much...
I love The Keymaker (Randall Duk Kim). He's a great character, greatly designed and really cool. The Twins (Adrian and Neil Rayment) are also really cool. I like Harold Perrineau Jr., have ever since I saw him play Mercutio in Baz Luhrman's ROMEO + JULIET. He plays Kain, essentially a rewritten TANK and is surprisingly given quite a bit more character development than most of the other characters in the movie.
There is a lot to like in this film. It's not unenjoyable, but good god does it fall apart in the time it takes for the credits to roll and the MATRIX REVOLUTIONS sneak peek to start, which by the way looks pretty neat, including a stand off between Neo and Agent Smith in the rain, surrounded by the other hundred of Agent Smiths... Looks cool, but once again, it looks like they're keeping Neo grounded, keeping him doing Kung Fu.
I still say the cardinal sin of the film is breaking the rules of the universe. It's easy for me to suspend disbelief in a film, but it's hard for me to keep it suspended if the filmmakers don't stick to the rules they set. It's one thing to have a twist on your perceptions of the universe set up in the first movie (there's one really great one towards the end of the film with Neo and The Architect), but to throw out the rules in order to throw in a few more fight sequences?
In the end I really hope that a lot of my worries about where the series is headed and my complaints about changing the rules in the middle of the game will all be magically solved by MATRIX REVOLUTIONS. I honestly hope that all my dislikes about this film will disappear when I see how it plays in the total scheme of things. I hope that's the case, but just like with Episode 3, I'm not holding my breath for it.
The movie really is a give and take. You get brilliant scenes (The Matrix vision Cum Shot, for example... you'll understand it when you see it) and then you get the final shot of the film... a pan that shows something not totally unexpected and the most clichÃ©d reveal music you can imagine: bum bum BUUUUUUUUMMMMM. To Be Continued... Although, I do have to admit that the bum bum BUUUUUUMMMMM made me smile. It was so corny it almost turned right around to being cool. Almost, but not quite.
So, count me MIXED. I hope REVOLUTIONS blows me away. We'll see.
I have a few reviews and some really cool shit about to happen, as well as Comic Con in a couple months. So keep your eyes peeled, squirts. I'll be back soon with some goodies for ya'. 'Til that day, this is Quint bidding you all a fond farewell and adieu.