This is Epth Nation

Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

It's No Accident Anakin Rhymes with Manequin

Just kidding, I always wanted to write that. He's a little wooden, but after watching Keanu Reeves try to single-handedly strangle any drama from The Matrix Revolutions, Heyden Christiansen looked like fricking Kenneth Branaugh.

Against my better judgement I am going to review Revenge of the Sith now. It is againt my better judgement because everyone has now seen this movie at least once* since it came out 2 weeks ago, and they all have their own opinions on it. Many of these people also happen to have blogs or other blog-like outlets in which to publish their opinions, and virtually all of them have done so. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I claim that this is the 1,000,000th review if the film. I also don't think I could possibly write anything that hasn't already been written with more skill and care than I could ever hope to have, so I'm going to be more terse than verbose. I hate being unoriginal more than just about anything. It's this belief I have about myself, that I am uniquely gifted and talented, and I'm just waiting for someone to discover that. I suppose everyone believes that about themselves.

First let me make clear that Revenge of the Sith is a good movie, not a bad one like Episode 1 or a so-so one like Episode II. In fact, it's so good and thoughtful that it actually improves the first two movies by shedding new light on all the tedius coversations in them. Not that I want to go back and watch them again (shudder), but it does seem that the oft-sidetracked narrative was actually leading somewhere after all. That's good. The narrative in ROTS is tight and moving constantly forward even through all the numerous potentially sidetracking battle scenes. This movie is tight in a way that the first two just weren't, and that goes a long way towards explaining why people like it so much. George Lucas rediscovered how to make a Star Wars movie.

ROTS looks fantastic and realistic, with fully-realized CGI worlds glowing in the background of every shot. It also has great action scenes that aren't so over-cut you don't know what's going on. The characters still speak the trademark horrible dialogue, but would it really be a Star Wars movie if that changed? It's almost part of the charm at this point. The costumes are great, the story is well-paced, and everything moves toward a conclusion we already know in a way that we fully expect (and is kind of cool as we realize all that happens later. This movie actually manages to make the first Trilogy better too, or at least gives it a new subtext not fully felt in 1977-1984), which is kind of tedius but still makes one think.

Having given that disclaimer, I will explain the big problem I had with this movie, and why it ultimately fails. Put it this way: the movie (and this Trilogy, if you want to get right down to it) is all about the transformation of brash young Jedi Anakin Skywalker into Dark Lord Darth Vader. It is critical that the transformation make sense and be believable, because that's where the emotional energy in the film is being spent. Virtually every scene and every conversation in ROTS relates to Anakin's thoughts and feelings in some way. The Chancellor wants him to join the Dark Side, the Jedi worry about him and want him to stay good. His transformation is the movie.

Unfortunately, the transformation was not believable or even understandable, at least to me. Without getting into too much detail, Anakin has the choice between: Good, where his wife might die as seen in his vision, but where there are no lies, where he will someday be the greatest Jedi of all time, and where his friends and mentors will support him; or Evil, where a deceptive bastard tells him he might be able to get power to save his wife's life if he pledges to hunt down and kill everything he holds dear. Hmm...what to choose, what to choose. That Anakin chose wrong tells you he was either a whiny jackass to begin with or dumb as a stone. Neither option fits with the rest of the Trilogy, so we're forced to believe in a transformation that would never happen. Suspending disbelief is something we all do in movies, but we shouldn't be expected to do it with the main part of the story.

And don't give me this crap about the transformation being gradual and over three movies -- 15 movie minutes after pulling a light saber on the Chancellor and telling the Jedi that he's the Sith Lord they've been looking for, he's invading that same Jedi temple and massacring fricking little innocent kids that look up to him, and this just because the Chancellor says so. What happens to get the film from the Chancellor's arrest to the massacre is supposed to be Anakin making his Final Choice, and he does so very suddenly and without warning. One minute he's pleading with Samuel Jackson to spare Pure Evil's life (so he can possibly save his wife), the next minute he's letting the Pure Evil tell him to kill all his friends. Do you see my point? If there was some sort of mind control or One Ring-like hold on Anakin, it would make sense. But here it just seems like he's taking an instant backflip into a murderous psychopath's life for no reason other than bad judgment. Were those Bad Idea Jeans underneath his Jedi robe? Because that would explain it.

In the end, it was a good movie that failed. Now I'm going to post this before the thunderstorm outside my apartment wipes it out. I'll finish with a little game of "Did You Notice?"
Did You Notice:
The Tarzan Cry heard from a Wookie as he's swinging?
The callbacks to both the "Star Wars" theme and the "March of the Stormtroopers" theme from the original Star Wars during pertinent conversations?
Hell as conceived by George Lucas?
All the new creatures with stupid names whose action figures will be on the shelf long after the Anakins and Obi-Wans and Emperors and R2D2s have sold out?
To my high school friends, the "Beastriding"?

* except my wife, but then again she's never seen Star Wars. Or any of the other films. Or Caddyshack. Yes, she speaks English.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Wevenge of the Thith

I finally get to see "Episode III" today, and I kind of wonder why I'm going at all. It's not like I'm a real Star Wars fan. My wife likes to think of me as a nerd, which is fine, but I've never been that into Star Wars or Star Trek or Star Anything, really. I was 5 years old in 1977, and way too much of a scaredy- cat to see the original in the theater*. This set me back a few years, and by the time I saw Return of the Jedi in the theater, I had only seen Star Wars once on video and hadn't seen The Empire Strikes Back at all (although I knew the story involved -- in 1981 you couldn't swing a cat without hitting someone who was saying, "Luke, I am your father!"). I liked the movies well enough, but they never struck that deep chord within me, the chord that causes people to attach danish to either side of their 5-year-old daughter's head. That space-nerd-story chord was reserved for my later reading of Hitchhiker's Guide. By the time Episode 1 and its stupid title and all its other crappiness came out, I was barely interested in the Star Wars story at all. Apparently George Lucas felt the same way, judging by the existence of Jar Jar Binks.

Everyone I know who has seen Episode III says it's good. Obviously, Darth Vader is "born" in this movie, which has to make it at least partly cool. I'm sure it looks and feels spectacular. I'm skeptical of Hayden Christiansen (sp?) as Darth, though. I guess they had to pick someone skinny and whiny enough to pass for a young Mark Hamill's father.

Also, is Christopher Lee going to play a second-banana bad guy in every big movie series from now on? He's being typecast.

Because I am seeing this movie, today will be quite a busy day, so no more blogging for me unless something crazy happens that I have to report. I'm under a lot of pressure here. I'm starting to sweat bullets. I probably shouldn't be drinking this much coffee in the morning.

*Even though I never saw the movie, I had Star Wars figures just like everyone else. The ones I owned: Luke Skywalker: X-Wing Pilot, C3PO, Greedo, and a robot that looked like a trash compactor with legs that may or may not have been named R2D4. One of my friends had the original Millenium Falcon. We promptly trashed it.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Random Small Other Thought

The short Korean tech who cusses all the time, while watching the end of an episode of Ambush Makeover:
"She think she look better -- but it's still the same s___!"
There's a point in there we all need to hear. At least I do.

Random Small Mac Thought

We got a bunch of Mac Minis shipped to our store today -- I know they aren't exactly brand new, but this was the first time I really took a look at one. It's Apple's greatest triumph of style over function. You really can't imagine how hard those things are to service. Imagine if you took what under your car's hood, jammed it into a box 1/4 the size, and put the engine in one of the rear tires. That's what it's like. Soon Apple will be coming out with the Macburger, which will be a computer that looks and smells like a cheesburger. Since it will be "cool", Mac people will eat it up. And chip their teeth.

Just kidding, Mac people. I know that Macs have many legit functions and PC's have the limitations Microsoft puts on them. But until you get a second button on your mice, I say get away. What's life, really, without right-clicking on stuff?

Alias: Brilliant or Running Out of Ideas?

I don't know. There's something to be said for coming up with a season finale so shocking that it creates all sorts of buzz and anticipation. I believe the traditional term for this is cliffhanger, probably so named because the first show to do it had someone hanging onto a cliff for dear life when the season ended, and the name just stuck. Alias last night did manage to create buzz and anticipation, and as always it's not the crazy plot points that matter with this show, it's what they do with the crazy plot points.

I would also like to point out that the last three years have basically ended the same way: There's an evil woman pretending to be good, the "good" guys figure it out just a little too late so they have to scramble to stop the evil woman's plans, the "good" guys defeat the evil woman in the season finale, and there's a final twist at the end that casts everything that came before it into doubt. Last night, however, they came up with the granddaddy of all twists. These writers are just evil. Do they have a wheel in the Alias office with each character's name on it that they spin from time to time to determine who's going to turn into a bad guy? It sure seems like it. I'm going to love seeing how they get themselves out of this one.

So, who was Vaughn/Not Vaughn working for? Why did he go on a search for his father, "Bill Vaughn", this year? How come nobody but Irina Derevko was able to find out about his duplicitous nature? I mean, these are the best spies in the world. You're telling me that nobody knew his name wasn't really Michael Vaughn? There are so dang many things that don't make any sense. I hope the writers can figure this out to my satisfaction. Here are the possibilities I see for next year:

1) At some point, Vaughn was replaced by a deus-ex-helix project Vaughn clone, who planted false evidence to fool Irina Derevko and lied to Sydney about Vaughn's name and planned the whole trip/car crash/etc.

2) Vaughn was working for SD-6 at the beginning? Now that makes no sense.

3) Vaughn will be in a coma for the first half of Season 5, and Sydney will forsake everything else to find out who Vaughn really is. It will come out that the people who planted Vaughn in the CIA crashed into his car to prevent him from telling Sydney who he really is.

Blogger did it erased half my post and won't let me recover it. I'm not going to type it again, but to summarize: Zombies = good, cheesy CGI ball-disbanding water effects = bad.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Our News Department is Back in Session

Sorry about last Wednesday, folks -- our crack News department was busy moving parts from one room to another. It won't happen again, as far as I know. Here's the news I care about today.

Hey, all of you who have visted Dallas and taken the Dart Train (our light-rail system), I have some news for you: It's now been taken over by rampaging youth thug scum. The Dallas crime problem is everywhere, people. Jill, I don't think we'll be taking the train anytime soon.

Here's one man's story, stolen from Frontburner:
Saturday afternoon, I went with some friends to the Social Distortion concert at Jack's Pub. Afterwards, we went to a couple of house parties off of Greenville. Since the concert started around 4, we were all worn out pretty early, so we headed back to a friend's house to relax around 11ish. I had taken the train down from Parker station, so I knew that I needed to get back to my car before the trains stopped running. My friends dropped me off at the Spring Valley station just as the 11:46 train was pulling out. No worries, though. There's another one at 12:02. Unfortunately, things aren't always as simple as they seem.

I walk up to the platform to wait for the train and grab a seat. A few seconds later, I notice a group of young black people come onto the platform. There were probably 7-8 guys and 2 or 3 girls. I didn't think much of it at the time. One of the guys walked by and asked if he could borrow a dollar. I had long since run out of cash, so I told him, "Sorry man, I'm flat broke." He walks back to his friends and they sound like a normal group of young people talking & having fun.

A few moments later, I'm still sitting there, not really paying much attention to anything and waiting on the train, and I see the guy coming back by (kind of at a fast walk or trot pace) out of the corner of my left eye. Just as he comes by me, I feel a stinging blow on the left side of my face, and I hear several of his friends go "ooooooohh!" in awe/excitement. It takes me a second to register that this guy had just punched me in the face for no obvious reason. By the time it registered, I looked up and he was coming back at me, but now 3 or 4 of his friends were also coming at me from the side.

I got to my feet, but at this point, things were moving so fast I can't even remember everything that happened. I was trying to defend myself as well as I could, but because of the sheer number of them I never had the chance to go on the offensive. At one point, I remember thinking... maybe I could damage one of them if I could throw him onto the track, so I ducked my shoulder and started driving 3 or four of them backwards, but we all stumbled and fell before we made it to the track. However, once I was on the ground, I saw the true flaw in that plan, because the few that were still on their feet started to kick me, and kept me down long enough for the others to get up and join in.

I'm not sure how I got up from that point. I think they just got bored with kicking me. But finally I got up. At that point, most of them were walking away, but it seems one of them wasn't finished. He was skinny, kinda lanky. I remember actually saying to him, "When you look at yourself in the mirror after this, are you going to feel like more of a man?" Here I am with blood all over my face, and I'm trying to philosophize to this kid? What the hell was I thinking? So, the kid must think it's a game, and he kinda lunges at me just to see if I flench. At that point, I didn't even care to flench. He should've followed through with his swing, because he probably could've hit me--but he didn't. So I swung back and made a pretty solid connection. That's probably the only real damage I did to any of them during the whole altercation (besides scrapes/bruises from wrestling them to the ground). My swing connected, and I just thought to myself: "If I had this punk one-on-one, I would destroy him." And no sooner had that thought passed across my brow, did 3 of his friends come at me again.

At this point, one of their "lookouts" must've alerted them that the train was coming into the station, because they scattered like the cowardly rodents that they are. I hopped onto the train (and with my bloody & battered face, probably scared the crap out of the few passengers that were already aboard) and called 911 to report what had happened.

That's pretty much it. I met Richardson PD & DART PD at the next stop and gave them my story. An ambulance came along and cleaned me up a bit, and
DART PD took me home.

You see, this is what happens when you go to a Social Distortion concert. And yes, the Spring Valley Station is the one closest to my apartment. If anyone needs me, I'll be cowering in my bathtub until they rebuild our fence, having dialed "9-1" and with my finger on the last "1".

So Tom Cruise decided he would pick whichever young actress he wanted, set up a meeting with her, and seduce her. That actress turned out to be Katie Holmes, who once (like 10 years ago) told the teenie bopper rag Seventeen that she dreamed of marrying Tom Cruise. I don't usually think two seconds per week about Hollywood power couples, but Tom Cruise went on Oprah the other day (which just happened to be on in the service department here. Don't ask) and professed his love for the young cutie, even going so far as to jump up and down on Oprah's couch about it. Now that it's in my face, I've got to ask the question -- is this a joke? He's in love with...Katie Holmes? Who's next -- The Olsen Twins? Is Ms. Holmes even a Scientologist? Is he trying to bang the whole cast of Dawson's Creek? Because James Van Der Beek might have a problem with that.

The worst part about the Opah appearance was the Oprahites in the audience cheering like starved Survivor contestants who just won some Doritos. American women of all ages need to get over Tom Cruise, and fast, before my head a-splodes. And no, I'm not going to explain why I hate Tom Cruise. Doesn't everybody hate him? I suppose those of you who like him can assume it's jealously and turn your brain off to any negative things I might have to say about him, if it will make you feel better.

It looks like Spain's policy of capitulation to terrorists is not getting the results they wanted. Amazingly, the terrorists didn't just lay down their weapons when offered peace talks. And who knew there still were people who considered themselves Basques out there? Apparently, they also want their own country. Don't we all.

I've stayed out of the stem cell debate on this blog because of the complexities and difficulties of the issue. It's a tough call, in other words. The House just passed a bill that would allow strictly supervised use of discarded human embryos for stem cell research. Bono is for it. No, not that one, this one. Hottest member of congress ever? I for one support her because she's so good-looking.

And a final note this morning -- one of the blogs I read is by a Christian scriptwriter in Hollywood, Barbara Nicolosi. In the notes from one of her talks, I found something interesting (to me, anyway). She seems to think that Gen's X and Y are getting "exhausted with unbelief and lack of meaning", and the movies directed to them have reflected this (Eternal Sunshine, Garden State, Lost in Translation, Hitch). It's an interesting point I hadn't thought of. But I'm still not going to see Hitch.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

This is my dog trying to recreate the accident that did such horrible things to our beloved fence. Look at all that damage.
Pictures by Crapipics

Just Over One Year Ago...

A man threw his girlfriend off one of the Dallas Area's many highway "fly-overs", which are highway interchanges that go way up into the air. I remember the day it happened -- there was a huge buzz around here about it. Everyone thought it was crazy. Here's the story behind it.

(Yes, I know that's 3 posts in one morning, but I have a lot of pent-up posting to do. Besides, you know you love it.)

My Yearbook Picture is Captioned: Total Dork

Since people at times get frustrated with the registration required to see the things to which I link, I will reprint this whole little AP story here:

WAXAHACHIE – A North Texas school district has apologized to a student who was listed under the name "Black Girl" in a high school yearbook photo of the school's National Honor Society.

All white students are identified by name in the photograph in the Waxahachie High School yearbook, which was distributed on Friday. The teen identified as "Black Girl" is the only black student in the photo.

The label apparently was meant to be a placeholder until the yearbook staff could track down the student's name, district spokeswoman Candace Ahlfinger said in Sunday's edition of the Waxahachie Daily Light.

She said using that label was a poor choice, but it was not meant maliciously and was not meant to be printed.

School board president Joe Langley said a student made the mistake. "I'm sure the student is very sorry," he said.

District administrators and high school faculty members were expected to meet on Monday to discuss the mistake, Ahlfinger said. She said the district probably would make adjustments to the yearbook and yearbook staff to avoid such incidents in the future.

I don't know what's more ridiculous -- the fact that it happened or the fact that it led Channel 8 local news last night. Yearbooks are a bastion of pointlessness anyway, at least the ones that don't have a song lyric on every page. You should see the captions we used to put on the pictures (in pen after we got them). I'll try to get some of the best ones on here somehow.

In other news, last night a drunk gentleman ran his car into our apartment complex's metal fence right by our apartment. I'll have to take a picture of the damage and show y'all. Thankfully, nobody was hurt, although they did cart the drunk driver off to jail.

Bad movie #1 -- The Matrix: Revolutions

Netflix Diary: The Matrix: Revolutions

(The Matrix: Confusions.)

(The Matrix: Programs are People Too.)

When you cast Keanu Reeves as the main character in your action trilogy, you take the good with the bad. The good? You get teenage girls in the audience. The Bad? Unless he’s playing some sort of mentally incoherent action-savant, everything he says and does will seem wooden and unnatural. He just isn’t convincing enough to carry a film or even a scene. So you have to hope that the movie will quietly end before the audience realizes just how bad Keanu is. This is not an acceptable state of affairs if you’re trying to make your main character a Jesus-figure (which the Matrix people are), and the way they handled this problem is pretending Keanu is a real actor, which is understandable given the amount of money they stood to make. However, this decision also made it impossible for the film to be any good. In the future, the term “Faustian Bargain” should be changed to “Keanuian Bargain”, because it’s a deal with the devil. Or the Devil’s Advocate.

The second installment in the Trilogy, Reloaded, felt like a movie that never should have been made, coming so long after the original and having so many unnecessary new characters and plot points that we didn’t care about (ok, so Matrix Freaks cared, but if we cared about everything they cared about we’d all be wearing black and jumping off buildings). Revolutions carries with it all this baggage plus its own, and the question it has to answer is: Will the ending be good enough to justify the existence of these two sequels, or should they have quit while they were still geniuses? I think we both know the answer to that, but let’s have fun pretending to find the answer anyway.

Revolutions picks up the moment Reloaded left off, so a bit of a recap may be in order (or see previous post for my recap). To make a long story short: Neo had to get to this one big white building, a bunch of humans died to get him into the building, and all he did was meet a program called the Architect and get verbally slapped around. He then chose to save his girlfriend and doom humanity. Meanwhile, the humans did a bunch of stuff nobody cares about (like the kid giving Keanu a spoon). Agent Smith from the first movie also became a rogue agent with the ability to turn Matrix people into clones of himself, and the Army of Him and Neo fought twice. In the end, Neo found he could now control sentinels with his mind, and Smith took over a human named Bane, who did a bunch of bad stuff.

Revolutions opens on one of the humans’ ships (all of which look like they have electro-biscuits on their sides, which makes me hungry just thinking about them – has any character ever explained the biscuits? I can’t remember), where people are discussing the next course of action. For a few moments, I was hoping against hope that the movie makers cut Keanu from the film entirely in a last-ditch effort to save the Trilogy, but alas, he’s alive. Carrie Anne Moss is looking mighty tore up these days when she’s not in her black leather Matrix outfit, btw. The humans are looking for Neo, and hopeless but still big Morpheus tells them to look in the Matrix for him even though he’s not jacked in right now. They can’t find him in there, and all hope is lost. Just kidding. We flash to the story of Bane, who’s still not conscious either. It seems Bane tried to kill himself, judging by the slashes on his wrists. Now why would he do that, wonder the rest of the humans. The audience knows. Ok, so that’s kind of cool. In fact, after being sort of lukewarm/hostile to the idea of Bane after the second film, I really liked him here. I’ll even go so far as to call him the best part of this movie that’s not a special effect. Don’t get excited, Bane, that’s not really saying much.

It turns out Neo is in another Matrix, the so-called “Train Station”, which would have been a cool idea were it not built by a homeless program working for the Merovingian. That’s right, we have to see that guy again. The mere mention of his name makes my eyes start rolling. Neo has this touching scene in the Train Station where he talks to a well-groomed Indian program, his cold unfeeling wife program, and his beautiful daughter(!) program. Do programs have sex? Anyway, the Indian program (who was a bit character from the second movie, so he claims – I’m not about to go back and look for him, though) explains to Neo that programs can love just like humans do, because “Love is a connection between two things” or some Maya Angelou crap. He also explains to Neo that programs have Karma, because they all have their Michael W. Smith-style Place in This World. It’s about this point I begin thinking: isn’t this movie starting out a bit heavy on the exposition? Where’s the “matrixing”? Where’s the karate? Where are the near-mute Albino Twins (note: not appearing in this film, which is a pity)? Anyway, the homeless “Train Man” picks up the Indian family and demonstrates that he has all the dirty homeless power there by punching Neo into a wall. Neo’s stuck in the train station until this hostile homeless man lets him out. It’s like every homeless man’s dream – absolute power over a small insignificant portion of the world.

Also, and for no apparent reason, there is a “MOBIL AVE” sign on the wall of the Train Station. It’s these kinds of stylistic touches that make the Matrix what it is today. The homeless man built this place, remember? And the only sign he decided to put up is just a random street sign? The programs may have love, but they severely lack imagination.

Trinity and Morpheus go to see the Oracle (played by a different actress? The dialogue seems to indicate this, though I can’t tell the difference), and I audibly groan. The Oracle was ok in the first film, but the part she plays in these two subsequent films is to grind the movie to a halt and lie to the other characters. I actually hate this character – the patronizing older black lady persona, the smoking, the condescending way she talks, the circular reasoning and self-help-speak she uses in lieu of practical advice – it all bothers me. So when she actually gives Trinity real advice (namely, to go see the Frenchman about getting his “employee” the Train Man to get Neo out of the Train Station), I am shocked. Where’s the typical non-answer of, “You already know where Neo is, you just have to know you know it”? She even gives Trinity and Morpheus her “bodyguard” Seraph as a guide to find the homeless jerk. What is this old lady up to? Oracle, this is highly irregular. The movie just sort of glosses over the fact that the Oracle is now being helpful, as if she were a good guy all along. This was the same old bitty that put Neo on that wild goose chase that ended up at the Architect’s office, so why are the humans listening to her now? They deserve to be matrixed right then and there.

Seraph leads Trinity and Morpheus to the Train Man, looking as homeless as ever on (you guessed it) a train. They chase him, but the surprisingly dexterous homeless man escapes. This means they have to go and see Merovingian, the so-called “Frenchman”, and this time without any Albino Twins to keep things interesting. All the Frenchman does all day is sit in pretend nightclubs and run his pretend racket, apparently. Merovingian has plenty of bodyguards, though, and the first karate-and-guns match of the movie is a boring one where leather-wearing extras run upside down on the ceiling and shoot at the good guys. With the techno music pulsing in the background, it seems like a particularly crazy episode of Alias, and it can’t end soon enough for my taste. The thing is, we know they have to get to the Merovingian to get the Train Man to get Neo, so why not just cut to the chase? In fact, we know that Neo will have to fight Smith in the end, so why not just cut to that chase while you’re at it? You could release it as an internet-only short film and not have to pay that scene-eating Oracle any more money.

Yeah, so they get to Merovingian after he takes away their weapons, and the dirty Frenchman proposes a trade: Neo for the “Eyes of the Oracle”. I’ve never liked a Frenchman this much, ever. As delightful as the thought of Morpheus de-eyeing that crazy old lady is, the movie decides that spending a half hour more getting Neo out of limbo is not something it wants to do. It has chosen wisely, because at this point the only human we care about is Neo. Allow me to now assert that the Matrix is just another Lord of the Rings rip-off in a world filled with them:

We all know that Neo has to be the one to save everyone, even though there’s all this war and stuff going on everywhere. Just like Frodo, the fate of mankind hinges on one man’s insane quest apart from the overall war. For Frodo, it’s going to the heart of Mordor and destroying the One Ring; for Neo, it’s going to the heart of Machine City and making a deal to bring peace and destroy the One Program, Agent Smith. He even gets a Samwise to go with him, in this case Trinity. Please feel free to look for other parallels as this recap unfolds.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves a bit here -- back to the accursed Frenchman. I can’t tell you what else was said in the scene because I was too preoccupied with Monica Belucci’s inflated and bulbous chest. Seriously, it’s bulbous. It was like two giant balloons sitting in the chair to the left of the Frenchman. That dress must have had some scaffolding or hydraulic support in there because those things are just not naturally like that. I snapped back to reality when Trinity said, “I don’t have time for this s___,” which sums up the audience’s feelings perfectly. It was the best line of the entire movie. She gets a gun and pulls it on the Frenchman, who (just like France would) capitulates and sends them on the Homeless Express to MOBIL AVE. Trinity gets out of the train and sees Neo, and they hug and kiss, and we hug and kiss each other in the audience because the people next to us are hot and we know that is the last we will ever see of the accursed Merovingian.

Unfortunately, our elation is short-lived as Neo goes to see the accursed Oracle in an effort to hear as many lies as he can in one day. He succeeds, as she tells him that Agent Smith was made by the Architect as a way to maintain the balance of the Matrix, and that she, the Oracle, is there to unbalance it. Neo believes her because he’s a rube, and Neo makes his triumphant return to the hell hole that is the underground Zion world perplexed by all that has happened. At least Keanu looks perplexed. That could just be his big dumb face, however.

Agent Smith visits the Oracle next in her old-lady apartment complex after cornering Seraph and the little girl from the Train Station in the hallway. We don’t know what happens to them, but we presume it isn’t good. Don’t worry, though – they show up again at the end to confuse us some more. Oracle tells him to do what he came there to do, which is take over her body and make her another Smith-clone. He says, “you would know, mom,” at some point, which means that the Oracle created him! Ooo dang. Again, what is this crazy lady up to? When Smith turns her into him, he says, “I’ll stop the world and melt with you.” Oh, wait – that was Modern English. The other Smiths are taken aback by Oracle/Smith, who seems to be the new head Smith. I wonder if this is how the other Smiths felt when Morrissey left. I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist. Oracle/Smith laughs maniacally, and my brain folds back into itself.

It’s at this point the movie takes a left turn into the world of Zion for the better part of an hour. I really hated this part, the attack of Zion. Besides feeling like a rip-off of several better movies (Mechs? I mean, seriously, is this 1996? Someone’s been watching too much anime), the whole thing just doesn’t matter, and we all know it doesn’t matter. It’s LOTR without the emotional resonance. We just don’t care about these people because they’re contrived and annoying. They exist solely just to pull at our heart strings, and none of them seem human. In fact, the computers seem more human at times. I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think that’s the message the filmmakers wanted to send.

Morpheus’ girlfriend Niobe shows up and they have this big scene where Neo says he has to take a ship to Mount Doom, er, Machine City, and one of the ship commanders says, “No way, man – you’re not the messiah anymore.” Niobe, however, gives Neo her ship and commandeers the unbeliever’s ship for the sake of narrative simplicity. Neo goes to Machine City for some unknown (even to him) reason with Trinity and the stowed-away and highly murderous Bane, and the rest go down a mine shaft to Zion. Meanwhile, Minas Tirith, er, Zion is making preparations for a meaningless war against the approaching machines. This threefold action drives the rest of the movie. Can you handle it?

Trinity discovers Bane hiding in the fuse room and he brandishes a knife on her. Neo comes down and confronts Bane/Smith about it, and they talk for a while. In a great bit, Bane uses the same overproper speaking cadence Smith uses, but Neo still can’t figure out who he’s dealing with, even as Bane repeatedly calls him, “Mr. Anderson”. He may be the messiah, but he is not the sharpest knife in the knife holding area. Neo and Bane finally fight (in a strobe-lit hallway with no “matrixing” – boring!), and Bane blinds Neo with electricity, which turns out to be a spectacularly bad move on Bane’s part. Neo can’t technically see, but sees Agent Smith in some sort of infared-looking “fire-vision”. In fire-vision, Agent Smith has sunglasses. Heh. Neo disbands Bane/Smith, and this is the last we see of these two lovebirds for like half an hour, because we have to concentrate on sucky Zion now. And by the way, Matrix people, Zion rhymes with “lyin’”, not “Cylon”. Idiots.

Niobe pilots the plane through this shaft which is supposed to be impossible to navigate, but Niobe is so smoove she only crashes once. Sentinels are all over her ship by the time she gets to Zion, and the big question of the Zion war becomes, “Can they get the gate open for Niobe?” Of course they can. But the way they do it is pure moviemaking crap. Let me now give an overlong explanation why it’s crap:

Our story starts in Zion, of course, the dirty metal underground CGI home of the remaining humans. In Zion there are a bunch of characters we hate because they only exist to make us feel sorry for them. The most glaring example of this is the young lad who misguidedly gave Keanu a spoon in Reloaded. He shows up in this movie (although I don’t realize it’s him until about halfway through this whole Zion fight sequence) and we’re supposed to feel for him because he’s so young and full of enthusiasm, and overlook how much he annoys us and the fact that he totally seems more like a caricature than a real person. He’s the Brave Kid who Comes of Age, and we all know it. He’s either there to die and be avenged, or save the day in some unlikely and soul-affirming way. He’s a prop with lines, a device to move the plot along.

Zion’s defense system consists of several different units strategically placed with their guns aimed at the hole the invaders are coming through. By far the most fun of these units are the mechs, which for those of you who haven’t played video games or watched anime the last 20 years are like giant robot suits people put on and use in battle. When the sentinel’s “driller” pokes a hole in Zion’s ceiling (no better way to explain that – sorry) and crashes to the floor below, the commander of these mechs says, “Knuckle up!”, which I found quite funny. Even though the commander character is annoying (for an example of this, note the scene where he basically tells the 16-year-old spoon kid that if he doesn’t do his job right he’ll kill him. Way to lay even more pressure on the stupid scared fleeb, commander), he nearly justifies his existence in the movie with that one line. See? I’m not too hard on these characters, am I? I really want to like this movie, believe it or not. It just goes to such great lengths to drive me crazy, so I must lash out at it.

A bazillion sentinels (remember, the squid-looking many-eyed robots of death) pour in through the hole made by the “driller”, and the mechs shoot them. There’s gunfire all over the place. The humans seem to be losing. I actually think to myself at this point, “If this war is going to be nothing but mechs shooting into the air, I’m outta here.” I think the driller that fell through the ceiling then becomes this like 4-legged death robot. This brings us to the next unit the humans have, the 2-girl Dual-bazooka Team. One girl loads the shells into the dual tubes, and the other girl aims and shoots them at stuff. It’s terribly explosive, especially as we follow G.I. Jane (which beat out my other potential nicknames like Sinead and Boys Don’t Cry) and Link’s Wife (who gets a verbal beat-down by Anna Espinosa pre-battle – since she was on Alias, I have to mention it.) as they try to blow up the big robot, semi-succeed, ultimately fail, and run away like the bunch of girls they are. G.I. Jane eventually gets killed by stabby sentinel arms, by the way, so don’t get too attached to her bald head. But Link’s Wife moves on to bigger and better action, as she overhears that the doors need to be opened so that Niobe’s electric biscuit ship can get through.

Spoon Kid turns out to have the worst job in the army – the “reloader” (backhanded slap toward the second movie maybe? Don’t rule it out. Of course, they’d be slapping themselves) – which basically means he has to run out into the sentinel-infested battlefield when Commander Grumpy calls for ammo and load it into the mech’s robot backside. It’s like the worst system ever. If the sentinels were really smart, they’d just hang out by the reloaders and their two escorts and pick them off one-by-one. Poof, no more ammo. But they don’t, and Commander Grumpy calls for Spoon Kid to reload him, and you just know this isn’t going to be good. A couple minutes of screen time and two dead escorts later, Spoon Kid has reached the now-dying commander and reloaded him, and the commander gives him the news that the door has to be opened. Who can do it? Spoon Kid can! With timely help from Lock’s wife, Spoon Kid gets the door opened just in time for Niobe to come crashing through, three biscuits to the wind. Unfortunately, the Spoon Kid survives, Link is reunited with his wife, and the ship sends out its EMP, which kills all the robots instantly but also kills most of their defenses. The good news? We see very little of Zion from this point on, and what we do see looks like Dante’s inferno. The bad news? Neo still exists, and he’s still being portrayed by Keanu Reeves.

By the way, I told you that the whole door-opening thing was narrative crap. A whole half hour of it, in fact.

Neo and Trinity approach Machine City, which at first seems as unguarded as Amy Grant was in the late 80’s. I’m thinking, they really did rip off Lord of the Rings, eh? All the Sentinels went off to war and left Machine City ripe for a ringing. Unfortunately, this isn’t true, and the giant arms that are floating around aimlessly turn out to be giant sentinel-shooting guns. Tons of the buggers come at Neo and Trinity, and Neo’s firey eyes can’t kill them all. They decide to go “up”, and go over the clouds of Machine City to the sky above, and it’s like our sky here on earth –beautiful and bright. This was a good scene, so of course they end it after only a few seconds. Having proven that beauty still exists in the real world, they come crashing down to the machine world and Trinity dies. Of course, having the emotional heart of your Trilogy die is going to be a moving scene, right? Somehow Keanu sucks all the life out of it. She tells him he must go on and save Zion, and he disagrees with the fact that she’s dying. He’s wrong again. It’s the kind of thing that would be touching in a better movie. The filmmakers should be asking themselves, “Why doesn’t the audience care about these people?” Right before she dies, she says, “Oh, and by the way, my name’s not Trinity. It’s Eilene.” Or maybe that just happened in the movie inside my mind.

Back in Zion, more sentinels threaten the defenseless humans who are holed up in “the Temple”. Is this the end of my species? By that I mean, the members of my species who aren’t still in the Matrix, assimilated into Agent Smith?

Neo calmly walks up to the King of the Machines (as represented by a bunch of little machines forming a face with a booming voice – cool effect), and they make a deal – Neo “neutralizes”[1] Agent Smith, whom the machines can’t stop, and the machines will make peace with the humans. What does this really mean? We don’t know. But we do know it sets up a Matrix-fight between Neo and Smith, which is what we’re all here for, so get on with it already.

Neo does meet Smith in the Agent Smith-run Matrix, and Smith informs him that the Oracle informed him that he would win this battle. Presumably, that’s why he was maniacally laughing before. As we’ll soon see, that’s not entirely true. Even when being assimilated, the old woman lies. She lies to everyone, not just the good guys. Just like Maya Angelou.

Neo and Smith fight and fight and fight, Matrix-style with strobe lights and rain to cover up any potential bad rendering. It seems Agent Smith has assimilated everyone in the world, since we see nobody out there in the Matrix but other Agent Smiths. The computers couldn’t stop him, the Architect couldn’t stop him, and the only person who can stop him is Neo…or can he? After some kung-fu fighting, Smith is beating our hero, who lies hurt in a muddy Dallas-sized pothole. Keanu gets up and does Bruce Li’s famous “motion toward himself with the tips of his fingers come-here gesture.” It’s like, first he’s trying to be Jesus, and now Bruce Li too? It’s like they don’t even care anymore.

Keanu’s fist finally CGI smooshes Smith’s face, and Smith gets mad and ultimately hurts Keanu some more (in a crash that looks like a CGI nuclear explosion and that was probably much more impressive in the theater), and then asks him why he keeps getting up, and Keanu’s like, come here and find out, and Smith assimilates Neo, and Neo/Smith smiles, then blows the heck up. Then for some reason the rest of the Smiths break up as well. Stupid Morrissey. I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist again. It’s just too easy. Anyhoo, Neo in the real world seems to be dead as the machines tenderly take him away into the Grey Havens, er, nowhere in particular. The Matrix undoes all the “improvements” Agent Smith made, and the Little Indian Girl from the train station wakes up and greets a cat. Seriously, that happens. The sentinels leave Zion, which causes as Monty Python would say “much rejoicing”, until the humans realize that they live in a stinking underground burning pit of despair with only each other and no chance to see the sky. It’s enough to make you go back to the Matrix. Yes, the truth is out there waiting to be discovered, but sometimes it’s just easier to go with the flow and be assimilated by a rogue program in a peaceful Matrix. That’s the message of the Trilogy, as far as I can tell.

Speaking of the Matrix, The Oracle apparently survived the Assimilation and Neo-Destruction of Agent Smith, because she’s sitting on a bench in the Matrix. The Architect comes to her and tells her that she’s “playing a dangerous game”. She knows. I told you she was up to something. He asks her if she thinks the peace will really last, and you realize that this old lady orchestrated the whole thing just to get peace between Zion and the machines, which is an odd thing for a program to want. Oh, and she also got “freedom” for a few of her program “friends” who wanted it, so that probably explains her motivation. Just roll with it. She groomed the humans to find Neo, she created Agent Smith (he called her “mom”, remember), she lied and lied throughout the whole Trilogy, and she finally got the deal she wanted. She’s like the Bud Selig of this Matrix-world. Seraph and the Little Girl come up to the Oracle and they have the final conversation in the movie. Little Girl has made a great sunrise or sunset (I don’t remember which) for Neo, who will never see it because he’s probably dead and if not he probably isn’t too anxious to get back to the Matrix.

So this whole story turned out to be just a program-waving contest between Oracle and The Architect. That’s just silly. It would have been better if they would have gone with one of my suggestions like making Zion another Matrix, or replacing Keanu Reeves with rotoscope-animated Keanu Reeves. I guess that’ll never happen though. I mean, nobody would be audacious enough to rotoscope over his bad acting, right? Right? ;).

Because it kind of makes you think, 2 overpriced popcorns out of 5. It didn’t totally suck, I guess. But whither the Albino Twins? They shoehorned Monica Booblucci into the film, why couldn’t they stuff them in there as well?

[1] I apologize for the footnote, but this topic is too big and unwieldy to put in parentheses. There is great debate and discussion on the internet among the Matrix Freaks as to how Neo actually “neutralizes” Smith, and what happens at the end of the movie. It’s kind of interesting, actually, (for a nerd like me) to see all the theories. It boils down to this, though – somehow Neo realizes that if Smith assimilates him, he can destroy Smith and reload/restore the non-Smith matrix. In this footnote, you’ve learned nothing. Isn’t that great?

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.