Alright, it’s been a few days since I’ve seen THE MATRIX.... I wanted some time before I wrote my review to digest it, because when I came out of the theater I was a blithering idiot frothing at the mouth striving for the orgasmic language with which to describe the movie. I needed to see what distancing myself from the experience before writing the review would do.
Would the adrenaline rush the film gave me drift away and leave me staring at an otherwise empty film?
Would I begin to pick apart the plot and the characters?
What would happen?
I have stayed away from the Talk Back on the previous posting, because I didn’t want to become a mouthpiece for a cumulative opinion. I’ve spoken with a couple of friends that didn’t really care for the film. They sited my lack of ANIME knowledge as a reason why I loved the film. Had I been a true ANIME fan, apparently I might have seen all the holes or the lackings of coolness. etc...
Well... I don’t know about that though... I own DVD versions of GHOST IN THE SHELL and AKIRA and I don’t see that dampening my opinion. I have multiple tapes of Miyazaki flicks, and I have seen them... and still my praise is not dampened.
For the past two nights I have seen at the ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE midnight showings of BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA. I believe prior to MATRIX, this film was the best American Version of the Kung Fu/Fantasy aesthetic. I want to be very clear though... I don’t believe MATRIX is a better film than B.T.I.L.C. I love ol Jack Burton with every fibre of my being. The dialogue, the humor, the chemistry between Jack and Wang. The insane effects and fight sequences... they are all wickedly wacky. But MATRIX is not wickedly wacky, the dialogue isn’t ubercool. The film doesn’t wink at itself.
Instead what we have is a very smart amalgamation of many of the best concepts in the gigantic history of sci-fi/fantasy/kung-fu. It throws them in a blender and it spits out one hell of an entertaining movie.
MATRIX is not an acting showcase, it is not a film with a great deal of character development, it is not a fountain of originality. But it is cool as hell.
“Why is everyone wearing sunglasses all the time?”
That’s a question I have actually heard. Well, for me, I believe the characters are wearing sunglasses because you have Keanu Reeves in the movie and if you see his eyes, you’ll see he’s a bad actor. Or it could be that when they had the billion or so stuntmen that this movie required, they may have wanted Sunglasses as a key element that the audience would focus on as opposed to the cheekbones or their height.
Why did I grok this movie so much? What set me off? What was I impressed by?
Name it. I loved the mysterious coolness of Fishburne. I loved the sleek, yet haunted character of Trinity. I loved the line delivery and the look and the entire character of AGENT SMITH, who I feel is a fantastic film bad guy. His pronunciation... how he hellllld his syllllllablessss... The way he looked at Keanu with disdain, his frustration for his lot in life. And his utter badassness.
And.... I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I really... truthfully liked Keanu in the film. I feel that the Wachowski’s casting of him... though for months I thought it was disastrous... I think it was brilliant.
I’ll explain. You see, I don’t buy Keanu as anything other than a glue sniffing surfer dude. I really dislike him as an actor, he almost single handedly destroyed BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA for me. With the noted exception of his BILL AND TED journeys... well, I have felt he was the weak link in his chain of films. Until now.
Well, I’ll tell ya, but I want to warn you folks that haven’t seen the movie... STOP READING, GO SEE THE MOVIE AND COME BACK HERE!!!
Alright, back to explaining the whole Keanu thing for me. You see, because I think of Keanu as a complete and utter fuck up. Because I wouldn’t trust him to hold a carton of eggs. Because I imagine he couldn’t find his way out of a wet paper sack.... I absolutely all throughout the film, I don’t buy that he is “THE ONE”!
Just like, just about, every other character in the film, I believe that it is an utter load of crap. Hell... even Keanu’s character knows he’s a fuck up. There is no way on God’s green Earth that Keanu is the damn ‘SAVIOR’.
But ya know what? Over the course of the film, watching his training, watching the subtle little lessons he picks up on, watching him slowly pick up the pieces and figure it out.... When he pulls himself back up, when he can see the decoded nature of the MATRIX.... I believed. Why? Because 30 minutes before when Fishburne is getting the camel dung kicked out of him, I began thinking.... “Dude, there are no fists... the agents don’t exist, the bullets are not real... Dude... haven’t you been listening to what you’ve been preaching?”
Well... no he hadn’t. He didn’t talk to the little kid at the Oracle’s. Often times those that teach can not do. They know the ins and outs, but it’s all theory not actual reality to them. Meanwhile, Keanu was an empty vessel being filled by all these tidbits, all these bits of wisdom that these other character had been gathering since they were children.... BUT they were too close to it to see it. It took an outsider, someone that had grown up in the ‘reality’ of our world to see the absurdity of the ‘unreal world’.
Point Blank... I bought it. I believed it, and the movie works for me, not because of the effects (which are very very very very very awesome), but because I bought into Keanu’s character. And if you don’t. If when you look at Keanu, all you can see is Ted... well... the film may very well be a vacuum of time for ya.
I loved this film because of it’s scope, because of the coolness, because of the direction... because of all the things that just kicked my ass in the movie.
The film doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. I don’t know why. If I did, I’d be some sort of schizophrenic wacko. But I do know the film still has me thinking cool thoughts. Be it the art direction, the score (which I really enjoyed), the acting, the effects, the pacing.... I don’t really have a weak link in this film because for me. It is purely cool.
Sure everyone wears Sunglasses, they all have cool patent leather outfits for no apparent reason other than looking cool.... but ya know.... It IS COOL (for me). When those groovy ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION looking tentacled red eyed Sentinels were bopping around I almost planted a load in my seat.
This film moved and felt effortlessly cool. The framing was purely comic book. The strobey motion of the Agents where you could see their ‘trails’ was right out of both ENTER THE DRAGON’s mirror sequence and STEVE DITKO Spider-Man panels.
Finally a dead on Comic Booky film with a WARNER BROTHERS logo. Now... if we can go to the next step which is having really good actors, with really real characters. Where we can get caught up emotionally with their perils and dreams.... Where all the pieces finally mold together.... THEN... we will have a GREAT film. As it is we have merely a KICKASS film. A movie that thrills you, but doesn’t do the rest.
I can’t wait to see the next Wachowski film. I can’t wait to see X-MEN, HELLBOY, FANTASTIC FOUR, SPIDER-MAN.... I can’t wait to see a William Gibson novel done right! Or FAHRENHEIT 451 or THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES or STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND or ENDER’S GAME or LORD OF THE RINGS or AVATAR or the three STAR WARS films to come.
This is the tip of the iceberg.... There’s a whole lot on the way, and if we can see the studios get financially behind the artists making these movies.... are asses might just be permanently kicked through our abdomens....
Oh.... and was it just me, or did that WILD WILD WEST trailer just suck the big one or what. What a complete load of excrement. What the hell is a RAP song doing over an Old West movie that is scored by ELMER BERNSTEIN? SHEESHUS H CRISCO! Oh well, guess we can’t win em all.....