COLUMN NINETY-TWO, JUNE 1, 2003
(Copyright © 2003 The Blacklisted Journalist)
THE TRUTH ABOUT MATRIX RE-LOADED
(Copyright © 2003 Joe Viglione)
The majority of the critics have failed
to grasp the importance of this film! (God Bless The Tabs' Ed Symkus,
though, for seeing the light and giving it an A).
In the first place it is fun. It does what the current batch of Star Wars films has failed to do, removes the sterilization of Harry Potter and Lord Of The Rings attempts to craft themselves into instant classic Wizard(s ) of Oz status, and achieves the paramount goal of a motion picture made---not for art's sake---but to satisfy the audience. It hits a home run with those who pay the outrageous $9.00 to see a film in the new millennium---and who happily shell out that price time and again.
The fact that this sequel is breaking records AND that millions of fanatics are coming back to see it repeatedly indicates success. Stuffy reviews like The Boston Herald's careless account proliferate while the internet is abuzz with chatter. And by the way, it is not only a commercial success, but it is pure art on a very high level. Star Trek meets The Kybalion.
James Cameron's Terminator gets referenced so many times it is amazing few pick up on just how that series was the true model for this. The dark sunglasses, Keanu like Arnold given a limited vocabulary. The scene in the first Matrix where Neo and Trinity blow up the building is straight out of the "I'll Be Back" segment of Terminator 1 with that wonderful implosion of a building in Terminator 2. That they blow up more buildings in a Cyberworld in Matrix 2 only goes to show you give the people what they want. And why has the wonderful THIRTEENTH FLOOR from 1999 been forgotten! It came out almost simultaneously with Matrix Reloaded and included one of the major elements of this plot: that Marvel comics notion of "worlds within worlds", or to be more specific, life inside a computer.
There is subtle humor---Harold Perrineau of cable TV's violent prison show, Oz, is not exactly Judy Garland, but Joe Pantoliano's bluntness in telling the audience in Matrix 1 that taking that red pill is akin to Dorothy's house being swept up in a tornado---a transport device---is just part of the fun. The Wachowski's throw the obvious in your face while making you figure the puzzle out with such intense complexities that there's quite literally something for everyone.
Do you want a joyride? OK, we'll build you a highway and re-live Terminator 2 only have Trinity go against the traffic. Do you want simple science fiction? No problem! Let's blow up a starship a la a Star Trek original AND a Next Generation film. And let's throw a Star Trek actor, veteran
Anthony Zerbe, in for good measure and
to get the Trekkies AND the Trekkers (as if they needed a push---these two
and away appease the appetites of Trek/Star Wars/Science Fiction fans who
have been cheated over the years by homogenized goo totally removed from
original plans of a Gene Rodenberry or James Cameron).
The cute reference to 1 Adam 12 (what, no Kent McCord?) is yet more Terminator stuff, Agents turn into cops just as Robert Patrick assumed the identity of an Officer Jim Reed type in Terminator 2. And the foot of Agent Smith stepping out of the car when he has a gift for Neo, the same film moment as Arnold Schwarz in T-1 getting out of the station wagon after crushing a toy.
The Matrix Reloaded has moments of greatness, and delivers what movie fix fans expect when shelling out close to ten bucks for a flick. How can you not respect the genius of the Wachowski brothers in casting eye candy Keanu Reeves in this Terminator-by-way-of-Superman role? As stated---Arnold Schwarzenegger was limited to---was it 64 words in the original Terminator" while letting the music, the set and the story carry his menace---Keanu is given Gloria Foster and Morpheus Fishburne with their eloquence to help him learn how to swim.
As an actor he's still an embryo trying to pull those cords out and find himself in the "real world". Laurence Fishburne and Gloria Foster surround him with greatness, he's kind of like a Ringo Starr with Lennon and McCartney giving a man with some talent an incredibly huge platform. As with Back To The Future's two sequels, this franchise has put its ducks in a row, and that's a good thing. But beyond the brilliance of spoon-feeding the video game kids with an amalgam of philosophy (that spoon from "the potential" of the first film makes its return to Keanu, "the anomaly") The Matrix Part 2 gives the audience something the Star Wars prequels have failed to do, something the Star Trek franchise longs for, and that is how we must evaluate if it succeeds or fails.
As with the second X-MEN movie,
Reloaded has two
hours and twenty minutes of what its audience wants. In Woburn,
Massachusetts during the Wednesday night May 14th 10 PM screening
(multiple screens, mind you, all packed!), the audience applauded when the
movie company hit the screen---prior to even the film's title. People have been
lusting for this film and it delivers a knockout punch.
This is pure fun, and is everything you could hope for. The Architect is wonderful and the mind games go beyond Total Recall. It's a great piece of movie making. The love scenes with Carrie-Anne Moss as mechanical as the machines who run Zion, the divine paradox at play. Neo is more closely aligned to the man who victimized him, Agent Smith. Not only was he pretty much sexually assaulted by Smith in the first film, at that picture's conclusion he became one with him, the One becoming one with his enemy, more a part of him than with the girl who loves him. When Keanu Reeves fights a hundred Hugo Weaving clones---the attack of the clones---and they all pile on him, well, you figure out who Thomas Anderson is having more fun with? The lady who adores him, or the enemy he is obsessed with.
The Oracle's protector fights Neo because "You only know a man after you've fought him" (paraphrased). The chemistry between Reeves (not George Reeves, not Christopher Reeves, but more insider stuff in this Superman of the Internet ordeal) and Carrie-Anne Moss is so not there and so intentional. Sure, she is crazy about him, but there's no electricity from where he is coming from, and perhaps that's a clue that Neo is actually a hybrid machine and human??? Why is Smith on his tail if Smith was "deleted" from operational duty after Keanu came back to life and went totally inside his body? The most invasive stuff here is Agent Smith ripping Keanu Reeves shirt off to put something inside him in Matrix 1 (let's call it for what it is, a rape scene, a violent intrusive scene with Reeves on a table and his private parts inches away from the camera) and Keanu Reeves sticking his hand inside the cyber version of Trinity's chest. That was far more sexual and loving than anything they were doing in the bed in Zion---but wouldn't "The One" do the same for Morpheus? For The Oracle? Of course he would. This is his family.
The real sexual energy is between the
Men In Black meets The Thomas Crown Affair, hundreds of Agent Smith's
having a pig pile on Keanu Reeves (with the cover of the current GQ stating
that Keanu Reeves is in need of a good woman!
How can the biggest star in the world this week be unable to find a girl for a
date!!! The only plausible answer is that he is not interested! Where's Hugo
You only know a man when you fight him--- Trinity and Neo have not fought
and will not fight. They might as well be brother and sister. If they become
Adam & Eve in
Matrix 3 it will be a sin, in more ways than one! Agent Smith is obsessed with
Neo, and no longer on duty. Now it is personal, like a jealous lover out to
even the score.
The Wachowski Brothers throw everything in but the kitchen sink, and the film stays afloat. You know that Thomas Crown Affair reference above? All the men with bowler hats at the art gallery? Lambert Wilson's Merovingian IS Pierce Brosnan's clone. But one of the greatest moments is meeting "The Architect." For those who can't keep the dialogue straight there are three pages of the script on www.google.com if you go to alt.movies and see our incessant ramblings there. That there's so much chatter about this film from so many speaks volumes. In Matrix 1 before Keanu is interrogated and assaulted by the Agents we see windows peering in. The Architect is watching all that transpires in the first film, and here the white-haired figure (A God? The "God" of the Matrix---someone on the google newsgroup calls him "Col. Sanders!") has so much great double-speak you need to read and re-read it to get a clue. And that's why The Matrix works, because you leave the theater dazzled and stunned and exhausted and you can't wait to get back to see it again. Like a great hit record, a Hey Jude, a Louie Louie, a Ride Captain Ride, it is compelling, it is fun, and it will stand the test of time. ##
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