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Monday, May 23, 2005

My Matrix: Revolutions Post is Coming Tomorrow...

And just so you remember what happened before it, here's my recap of "Reloaded". As you can see, I was in no hurry to see the third one after that,

The Matrix: Reloaded

(The Matrix: Unnecessary Characters)

(The Matrix: And a Dumb Guy Shall Save Us)

My trip to the theater to see this movie started out quite ominously, with me nearly getting a Cherry Icee instead of a Cherry Coke. Good thing they had two kinds of Icees and the non-English-as-a-first-language[1] concession stand worker had to ask me if I wanted white or red. I was like, “do they have different colors of Cherry Coke?” So that was a problem, and then she almost gave me too much change back. But she seemed nice and smiled apologetically a lot, so I forgave her.

As I walked down the long velvet hallway to the huge modern theater, I hear the sounds of a band I have never heard before, Zeromancer (is that a Matrix name or what?) playing a song called “Eurotrash” that sounds exactly like the Christian band Skillet. I didn’t know secular bands were allowed to sound like Christian bands – it’s always the other way around. So, yay Skillet. The song sucked, btw.

There are about 20 people scattered throughout the theater, and the projection room seems to have things under control (I’m at the same theater I saw “X2” at last week. See that recap for details). The previews started with a commercial for that most annoyingly advertised of ticket brokers, Fandango. You can tell the stupid (and potentially annoying) people in the theater right away by the chuckles they make at the Fandango commercial. This ad was one I had never seen before, and involved lots of puppets made out of those paper bags you used to take your lunch to school in. The puppets had like hair and eyes made out of dried food and stuff. It was more disturbing than any matrix, I tell you what. At least there wasn’t a dork talking about a wild Fandango, though[2].

Quick Hits before the movie:

<>That Charlie’s Angels trailer just might be the best trailer I’ve ever seen. It makes me want to see the movie, even though I know for a fact that the movie will suck eggs[3]. Drew Barrymore produced it, how good can it be?

Terminator III: Rise of the Machines. WTF? Why is there another Terminator movie? I guess they weren’t done ruining the first movie[4], they have to complete the job. This movie will have so little soul it will actually annihilate the souls of those who see it. It will make us worse as a people. And besides, with the Matrix around, who needs this half-butt James Cameron failed mythology about machines trying to kill us? They should have stopped at one movie, which was the “Matrix” of its day in that it changed action movies forever. Ok, so this was a not-so-quick hit.

2 Fast, 2 Furious. Are they sure this even qualifies as a movie w/o Vin Diesel? Shouldn’t this be going straight to video?

Tom Cruise has a new movie coming out, apparently called “The Last Samurai”. Looks like Braveheart, only more Japanese. And remember, 25 cents of every dollar you spend on this movie will go to squashing free speech about Scientology through lawsuits and intimidation[5].

<>So now the movie starts. It takes exactly 10 seconds to get all Matrix on us as Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) Matrixes[6] some hapless guards and then does some stuff that we will probably see at the end of the movie, and then gets shot in Matrix style (slo-mo and with bullet trails) by one of those agents from the first movie, and dies. End of Trinity. Then Keanu Reeves wakes up and starts trying to act. In other words, it goes downhill fast.

Seriously, 3 Keanu lines into the movie I realize that he’s not just sleepy…this is what he actually considers acting. And he’s the main character of the movie. The dude is like Homer Simpson. You can see the monkeys grooming each other in his head as all this philosophy is spouted off on him. He’s dumb-sounding and has a dumb expression on his face constantly.

Neo (Keanu) and Trinity are on the Nebuchadnezzar, the ship they were on in the first film. Crap-spouting Morpheus is there as well, with another Unidentified Black Man (UBM). Ok, his name is Link and he links people. How symbolic. They go back to Zion after meeting with a bunch of other humans (I’m not going to explain to you the plot of all this or the world they live in. If you never saw “Matrix”, none of this recap will make sense to you, and the movie even less sense. It is a full-on, “Empire Strikes Back”-style 2nd movie in a trilogy.) who agree to disobey that cad Commander Lock and leave a team back up in this cave so that they could get word from the old lady Oracle. But Lock wants all the ships back at “Zion” (oh come on.) to defend against the evil computers, who are drilling their way through the ground to get to Zion and will get there in 3 days. Wise fool Morpheus thinks he knows the Prophecy, however, and therefore believes that Christopher Walken is going to show up and kill some people. Actually, he believes that Neo is “The One”, and when he gets to the matrix mainframe, humanity will be saved. Whew.

Neo has sex with Trinity as a jungle-rave-style dance club breaks out in Zion. Local Dingbat Morpheus whips up the crowd into a frenzy, and music starts that causes me to think that maybe Jack Chick was right and there is such a thing as an evil beat. People start writhing and jumping to the music as if they were in a Christina Aguilera video[7]. A few notes on Zion and humanity in the Matrix:

Zion appears to have been modeled after Gary, Indiana. Everything is all dirty[8], as if the computers were not only harvesting the humans but keeping all the good cleaning products away from them as well.

The hairstyle of choice for men: bic bald or dreadlocks.

Hairstyle for women: Long and Greasy, like a bunch of post-apocalyptic Edie Brickells.

Clothes: What would be considered clubwear today, only more translucent. Nipples everywhere.

The meetings and planning and inhabitants of Zion appear to be modeled after the rebellion in the first Star Wars trilogy. I mean without the fish guy. Lots of councils, people having expository dialogue, vague sense of hopelessness in the air. In fact, this trilogy has a lot in common with the Star Wars one. Judging by the amount of Matrix merch out there, it has taken over as the Trilogy for our generation, despite the fact that most of the cool stuff they put in these movies is totally unnecessary for the plot. But what is plot, really?

<>In another Star Warsy scene, Neo and Councilor Hamann have a really boring conversation about machines and man being each other’s bitches[9] that is like, so last movie. This is Unnecessary Pointless Dialogue Scene 1 (UPDS 1).

On that note, Agent Smith plays a big part early on in the movie, as we learn that the Matrix program is no longer controlling him, and oh yeah he didn’t die in the first movie, he instead lust linked with Neo somehow and now has the power to replicate himself by sticking his hand in a matrix denizen’s chest and getting goo all over him/her. So he chest-goos a human involved in the rebellion and they “phone” the guy back out of the Matrix and Smith clearly is in control of the guy even though he still looks like the guy. I don’t remember the guy’s name – I think it’s “Bane”. We’ll call him that. So Bane tries to stab Neo in the back as he’s getting back on the Nebuchadnezzar to fulfill his destiny (see Star Wars), but is stopped by the shout of a character so worthless that even this passing mention of him is saying too much. This worthless guy gives Neo a spoon, and I’m hoping against hope that this will lead to Neo saying “SPOON!” before he Matrixes some bad guy. That would have made this…Best. Movie. Ever.

But it’s not, and the Nebuchadnezzar leaves too so naïve Morpheus can feed Neo to the wolves for no reason. Neo goes into the Matrix and prepares to meet the Oracle, but instead gets sucked into Unnecessary Fight Scene (UFS) 1, so named because it’s about nothing. At the end, Seraph (friend of Oracle’s; also Neo’s opponent) just says,

“You can’t truly know somebody unless you fight them”, which causes me to chuckle like a moron at a wild fandango. This line is typical of the sophomoric wit of the movie – it sounds cool until you think about it for 5 seconds. Does that mean that all those wife-beaters on COPS have the right idea? That’s some white trash wisdom.

Neo is led to the Oracle[10] through a “back-door”, or hallway, in the Matrix. These back-doors are way more interesting than anything else so far in the movie, plot-wise, but are dismissed[11]. Oracle is feeding birds on a park bench. She and Neo have UPDS 2. We learn that the Oracle and Seraph are programmers (her word), which needs explanation, but we get none. Are they humans? I would not be surprised to find out at the end of the next movie that humans, not machines, were the creators and runners of the Matrix[12]. You heard it here first. We learn that Neo doesn’t know if he can trust her. It’s a good thing she doesn’t tell him anything except self-help mumbo-jumbo then, except for instructions to find a dude known as the keymaster(?), a term swiped from Ghostbusters. I kept waiting for the Gatekeeper to show up, but it never did. Since the keymaster is an old Asian dude who has keys for any and every situation he happens to be in, we’ll call him the Walking Coincedence (WC). The WC is being held by a renegade program in the matrix with the pretentious name Merovingian, which I’m sure is a really clever reference to something[13]. Then the Oracle leaves, but not before admitting to Neo that he must make the choice to trust her or not, without knowing if she’s really trustworthy. Then she says something that will become a recurring nightmare in these expositionary conversations, and it goes something like this:

“You have already made your choice – you are here to find out why you made it.”

<>Now what the hell[14] are we supposed to do with that? I kept waiting for Neo to haul off and Matrix anyone who tells him that, but he just stares ahead blankly, as if he missed the director’s cue to kick some butt and they ran out of film so they couldn’t do any more takes[15]. Maybe if Neo thought a bit about what to do instead of rashly making decisions that any old computer program can tell he already made the humans wouldn’t be in such a pickle. Maybe he actually is THE ONE, but doesn’t have the cranial capacity to carry out the job. Now that’s a philosophical can of worms I don’t think the filmmakers intended to open. Serves them right for casting a Keanu as anything other than a Valley dude. A Zion, dirty, drug-addicted valley dude. Makes you wonder if Prophecy-Fearing Morpheus gets on his dirty knees every night and says to the sky, “I just didn’t expect THE ONE to be this flaky.” <>So then Seraph pushes Oracle away in a hurry and then Agent Smith from the first movie shows up, sunglasses in place. He talks in this real peculiar way, overformal with a hint of nasality and buckets of smugness. He tells a blank Neo (sorry for the redundancy) that he no longer has a purpose now that he’s not an agent of the Matrix. So he must kill Neo, for some unexplained reason. It’s hard to trace the logical steps in most of these conversations, you just kinda have to roll with it. It would probably be a better movie if I were high, actually. Less thought baggage. <>Like 10 Agent Smiths (remember, he inexplicably can replicate himself) attack Neo, and if it were possible for a fight scene involving a Neo and 10 Smiths to be boring, it would be[16]. But it’s kind of exciting, and they spruce it up after a few seconds by bringing in even more Smiths (wonder if Morrissey was available) to attack Neo, giving Neo a huge pole to play Smith baseball with, and providing bowling sound effects at appropriate times. The centerpiece of the fight is when like 100 Smiths dogpile Neo and he throws them off of him, sending 100 guys in well-tailored suits up in the air. You’ve probably seen this in the previews, so you’re ready for it. Which is a bad thing. It would have been much cooler coming out of the blue.

Apparently, this fight scene and the car chase scene later in the movie caused several CGI firms to go bankrupt and took 4 years to render, hence the long break between films. Here’s the dirty little secret about this fight scene though – and I can’t believe I’m the only one who noticed this – it looks fake. Keanu, especially. In all the cool moves, Keanu looks exactly like a plastic CGI human character you could make for yourself if you had the right software. It’s so bad it was distracting, at least for me. Go back and watch it again[17]. The Wachowskis failed. Add to that the fact that it’s a totally unnecessary scene to the overall plot of the thing, and that it ends with Neo flying away[18], which he could have done before any fighting started. You start to realize that you’ve just been hit by UFS 2.

So, Neo takes super-cool Morpheus and super-hot Trinity to see Merovingian to get this old Asian guy so the movie can end (or at least get closer to ending). They meet him (it? It’s a computer program, after all.) at a restaurant that also seems to be his house. Merovingian is clearly a French program, so we hate him. It’s at this point that we meet Persephone, which was the pretentious name of a car on “the Simpsons” when Homer met his twin brother. This Persephone is hotter and might have been the first program with cleavage, judging by the way she’s showing it off. We also meet Mero’s many henchman, who I’ll call 5 dead programs walking and the Albino Twins. So, Mero makes some woman in the room horny to make some belabored French point about something (UPDS 3) and tells the sunglass-worshipping trio of Neo, Trinity, and fake-air-wasting Morpheus to stick it, or whatever the French say. But The Cleavage Program meets them as they’re leaving and basically gives them the Asian key guy in exchange for a kiss with Keanu -- which is what they call “trading down” -- because she wants to feel the love that Mero used to give her. Isn’t that the programmer’s fault and not Mero’s? I think she’s displacing anger here. So Keanu gives her an unpassionate kiss that we’re supposed to believe is passionate and they get the Keymaster, who from now on will be known as the Asian Load, or AL.

<>Neo beats the crap out of the 5 dead programs walking (UFS 3) and Mero runs away like the French program he is. The Albino Twins show off their cool special-effects-intensive power, which is turning non-corporeal and flying through stuff. Cool program. Makes you wonder why the matrix is messing around with Agents when they could have Albinos. Anyway, the twins chase after Trinity and action-hero Morpheus as they try to spirit AL away. They chase and chase and chase until it’s entirely unclear what their motivation is. They appear to work together with the matrix agents, too. It’s unclear how the politics of programs works there. Maybe that will be explained in the 3rd movie, but I seriously doubt it.

Before discussing the huge chase setpiece, allow me a moment to reluctantly discuss the bizarre love triangle that is forced into this movie by bad writing. It goes like this: smoove Morpheus is gettin’ with Jada Pinket Smith, who for the purposes of this movie is named Niobe[19], but she spurns him for Commander “More Smoove than Morpheus” Lock. Once Morpheus impresses her with his man-love for Neo, she decides to tease him at the “club matrix” scene earlier in the movie. What a ho. This would not be important if we never saw these people again and the matrix sentinels just killed them all in Zion, but Zion holds a community council meeting to decide whom to send to help Morpheus in his quest to force Neo into messiah-hood. Bane/Smith tries to get to go so he can kill Neo, but his commander disses him. Commander Bald and Niobe say they will go. Commander Lock thought he knew her, but now not only is he going to be dead within 24 hours, his girlfriend just more or less dumped him. “Who’s smoove now?” Morpheus asks.

So Commander Bald and Niobe leave, and the Chase you came to see happens. It’s the one in all the previews. You know, it features:

1) Neo flying from the mountains (how did he get there? Walking through a door, of course.) to the scene of the chase just in time to save everybody in Neo ex machina fashion.

2) The Albino Thompson Twins in an SUV chasing after Trinity, Morpheus, and AL in a car. Eventually, The Twins are blown up, and fly away non-corporeally so that they can return and be cool in the next movie. They actually create much havoc at the start of the chase, flying into the back seat of the car and brandishing his Albino knife. But they don’t do nearly enough cool stuff with these guys. For my $5.25, I want to see Albinos who can like kill people as they fly through them and stuff[20]. And shouldn’t highly advanced computer programs have better dialogue than “I’m getting annoyed” or whatever one of the Albino freaks says when the chase hasn’t gone his way? Why do they have to talk at all? More unanswered questions. So, yeah, they blow up then.

3) Butt-kicking Morpheus and his pointless sword of pointlessness fighting an Agent that looks just like that tall guy who used to be on Mad TV[21]. The Agent in question at one point steps on the hood of a car and crunches it into the ground. Because some programs weigh like 5000 pounds, I guess. Or maybe it was just there to look good in the previews. More unanswered questions.

4) Trinity and AL on a motorcycle all Terminator-like.

<>5) People turning into Agents left and right (why don’t the Agents just “morph” into Neo? Foomp – Trilogy over.)

So you see, it is both exciting and boring all at once because everybody knows what’s going to happen. Luke, it is your destiny. You don’t have a choice. Or do you[22]?

So all that setpiece does is take up 20 minutes and blow $50 million. Good job. Neo ex machina whisks AL and Morpheus away and the gang (The crew of the Nebuchadnezzar, Captain Bald’s, and Niobe’s crews) prepare to get AL in position to open the door of the central matrix mainframe so that Neo can go in and lose an arm and be told that Darth Vader is his father, or somesuch.

The interesting thing about this whole preparation scene is that is it interposed with the actual scene of them doing stuff (as well as earlier scenes where Neo tells Trinity she can’t go into the matrix anymore because he dreamed that she dies there), so that it’s like they expedited the movie because it was getting too long (or maybe they ran out of money and couldn’t afford a real ending. That would explain a lot.). It’s very confusing. Thoughts I had when I was trying to figure it out:

1) So, where the heck are they? In the matrix or no?

2) Is somebody dreaming all this?

3) Where did the Sentinels come from?

4) Why is Niobe still doing stuff when she’s dead[23]?

5) Oh, great…more Agent Smith. How much more of our time can he waste?

6) Did I leave the iron on?

So, to summarize, they go through this really intricately timed-out process of disabling electrical grids to this main matrix building, but Captain Bald’s team fails to do their part because Sentinels (the squid-like evil machines that attack people in the Zion/real world) blow up their ship and bald bodies as they are in the matrix. I thought Niobe was also dead, but she apparently is not. Trinity sees that team Baldy failed, and goes into the Matrix to succeed in their stead. She succeeds, but is shot as we see at the beginning of the movie (although in a less elaborate version of the dream-scene, since the movie is now being expedited), and is falling to her death when…

Meanwhile, Neo runs into a buttload of Agent Smiths again (and UFS 4 happens) just when Trinity succeeds and he can get into the mainframe. AL just happens to have the right keys and gives them to Neo so that he can get in the mainframe. Of course, he does this after getting mortally wounded, so when AL’s purpose is done, AL’s being-a-load days are done too. Poor AL. In a better movie, he would be named Short Round[24] and be much younger and at least marginally involved in the action. Theme of the movie: Don’t rely on the old.

So, Neo goes into the light-filled mainframe to meet his Oracled destiny and instead meets the guy the directors hired instead of Donald Sutherland, who they probably wanted, judging by the guy’s looks. He calls himself the Architect, and he says he designed the Matrix. It is precisely at this point that the movie is turned on its head in an expedited fashion. The filmmakers were probably thinking “We’ve really got them interested and guessing now!” after they filmed this scene. Let me set it up for you: Neo walks in a room so bright he probably actually needs his sunglasses with like 100 computer screens surrounding him in the round room with his face on them. The Architect tells him that 1) he’s just an “anomaly” in the Matrix (some would say that an actor as bad as he getting $25 mill a picture makes him an anomaly here, too), 2) He is not “The ONE” but the sixth such anomaly (living in the sixth Zion as well), 3) some mindless blather about how he got the Matrix wrong the first time (because it was perfect, and didn’t seem real, which is probably the most interesting theological point of the whole movie, mentioned in passing), 4) Oracle was just playin’ with him, 5) Neo has a choice between two horrible things – either stay with the architect and choose the 23 people in Zion who get to live and populate the new Zion, or go and save Trinity and everybody dies (why doesn’t Neo kill the Architect? Moron.).

As the Architect says this, the face on the monitors, all 100 of them, show Keanus making a variety of responses to these statements. At one point, all of them say “bulls***”. Hee hee. He’s such a bad actor, multiplied by 100. So, apparently there have been 100 other anomalies and not just 5, and all of them looked like Keanu Reeves[25]. Wouldn’t it just be easier to kill all people who look like Keanu, rather then going through this whole circle-of-life thing with AL and Zion and the killing? Hmm…a cycle. Could it be that Zion-world is just another matrix?

<>The Architect/Neo conversation gave me massive tired-head, and was dangerously close to being so dense it lost all meaning. An interesting point is the Architect says that this Neo is different, since he found “love”. So while the others chose to save the human race by repopulating Zion, this Neo would make the stupid decision of ending the human race by saving the Trinity in the matrix. Now, you’re probably thinking at this point, “Why can’t they just write a program to decide who repopulates Zion?” At least I was. None of this makes any sense. The architect also indicates that the computers don’t “need” human energy to survive, and that they have a contingency plan if Neo decides not to keep the human race alive. Again, I respectfully suggest they just pick 2 humans – it doesn’t need to be 23, and you can pick Jada Pinkett Smith and some hot guy, so that the race will be so hot they give off extra BTU’s – instead of relying on Keanu. Main message of this movie – don’t rely on Keanu for anything.

Anyway, Neo saves trinity with deus-ex-newfound healing powers[26] and they live crappily ever after. Or do they? Neo tells full-of-crap Morpheus that his belief system has been disproven[27] and that the human race is doomed, because a computer that’s come up with a deceptive matrix system wouldn’t LIE to him or anything. The sentinels blow up the Nebuchadnezar, and are chasing Morpheus, Trinity, Neo, and I think Link when Neo turns and says “I feel them now” or somesuch. So, he raises his hand up and de-activates the Sentinels, but in doing so drives himself unconscious (more evidence that Zion is a Matrix? Hmm?). Yay! Keanu can’t bother us anymore! They get him to some sick bay somewhere, and guess what? The counter-attack on the sentinels by the Zionists failed because Bane/Smith sabotaged it. He was the only one to survive that battle, and he lies head-to-head with Keanu, awaiting the next movie, where the Albino Twins will drink Coors Lite and trade the dreadlocks for poofy 80’s hair and morph into Danny Devito and Arnold Schwartzenegger and chew on Doublemint gum. So there.

Overall, it gets 2 2/3 out of 5 overpriced popcorns because of the cool effects and mind-blowing imagery. I can’t believe I liked X2 better than this. Maybe they won’t make it so stupid next time, or at least let the Albino Twins kill people by flying through them.


[1] Or perhaps even second, if sucking counts as a language.

[2] I’ve got a theory about commercials at movies: since they’re so amplified and stereoized and put into pure sonic overkill by the sound system, it makes them seem way suckier than they actually are. The hyper-unreal and silly Fandango commercials are put into REAL SOUND, and it just makes your realize their unreality. F Fandango.

[3] That’s right, eggs.

[4] By turning an interesting mind-bending time-travel movie with an evil Schwartzenegger into a convoluted mind-killing story about a stupid kid and her psycho mom. And a good Schwartzenegger, too.

[5] The previous sentence is, for legal purposes, disavowed by the author.

[6] Matrix, v, to kill somebody with karate using moves that look cool but that no normal human could do.

[7] Specifically, “Dirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrty.”

[8] See previous footnote.

[9] Well, that’s how I interpreted it. Sheesh. One dude was like, “Isn’t it funny how machines are coming to kill us, and other machines keep us alive.” Jeez, build some cyborgs and shut up.

[10] Somebody should have told the Wachowskis that the Oracle would be way cooler with sunglasses.

[11] Or are they? Several times in the movie people open doors and end up thousands of miles away. That this concept is often used but never explained nor explored fully makes me want to stick a fork in my eye.

[12] In movie #3, they could go a number of different way or combinations of ways. They could say that a cabal of humans (probably Enron execs, in fact) have built the computers to control the world; or, that the Zion-world is just another “matrix” (hinted at later), which would make this movie “The Matrices Reloaded”, which sounds too much like “The Matricide Reloaded”, which brings back bad memories of the movie “The Fear”; or, everything is as it seems and humanity dies.

[13] A google search led to a succession of French kings, 5th to 8th Century AD, who claimed to be the direct descendents of the Mary Magdalene/Jesus hookup that exists in the minds of so many people who will believe in just about anything.

[14] Heck.

[15] Which is a possibility, judging by the hurried-up ending and CGI money problems.

[16] Since we know that Neo can’t lose, it kinds takes the “fight” out of it, you know? Thanks to Bob Sturm of KCTK in Dallas for pointing this out.

[17] Maybe wait for it to get to the dollar theater, though.

[18] He does this cool anime thing when he starts to fly, where he like punches near the ground which causes a sort of force circle around him on the ground, and then he shoots into the sky. A+ for that unnecessary touch.

[19] Not a shampoo, surprisingly.

[20] Or at the very least some Albino midgets.

[21] Pat Killbane, I think his name was. But it’s not him, I looked.

[22] See, you know you have a choice, you just need to figure out why you have a choice.

[23] It was, embarrassingly, the black girl on Baldy’s team, not the shampoo Niobe.

[24] But at least he doesn’t scream “INDY!” constantly.

[25] I’m inferring this, anyway. They don’t come out and say it, and it is in fact false. Like Scientology.

[26] After flying at about a billion MPH to catch her on her fall. Seriously, cars and trees are like following and billowing in his vapor trail. It’s pretty cool. It’s probably the single coolest effect in the movie.

[27] Apparently, this is not a word, according to Word. The correct word is “disproved”. By creating this word, disproven, I just “improved” our language. You’re welcome.


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