The UnPopular Opinion: The Matrix Reloaded / The Matrix Revolutions
THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!
**** SOME SPOILERS ENSUE****
When THE MATRIX was initially released in 1999, I hated it. I thought it was cheesy and that Keanu Reeves could not have delivered a more wooden performance. The lone bright spot was the closing battle in the lobby as well as the bullet time on the rooftop. I felt like the only person who didn't like it. Maybe it was the hangover I had while watching it or some bad seafood, but I did not understand the love for the movie. So, I gave it another chance on DVD and realized the error of my ways. I came to love THE MATRIX and was ecstatic when the sequels were announced. Getting back to back movies in 2003 was going to be epic and I began reading everything available from ancillary materials that the Wachowskis claimed they used as inspiration for the trilogy.
When THE MATRIX RELOADED was finally released in May 2003, I was first in line to see it. I knew what The Wachowskis would do would be not only heads and tails above the first movie, but something revolutionary for cinema. But, instead we got this mediocre build-up with no payoff. THE MATRIX RELOADED is the ultimate case of blue balls that would force us to wait six months before we could blow our load. What a crock of shit! THE MATRIX RELOADED somehow became the PHANTOM MENACE of the MATRIX movies.
If I could pinpoint the problem with THE MATRIX RELOADED, it would be scope. THE MATRIX introduced us to a philosophical and unique world that was only the surface for a whole hell of a lot more stories to tell. Like STAR WARS, THE MATRIX has thrived in an expanded universe of comics and online games. Trying to cram in a universe worth of material and story into two hours results in an overload of narrative. The introduction of Zion, The Merovingian, The Keymaker, and The Architect in just one film without any mention of them (aside from Zion) in THE MATRIX feels like a hell of a lot of retroactive continuity for the series. With the bigger budget and need to outdo the first film, THE MATRIX RELOADED sacrifices quality in favor of scale.
You do not want to know where they got the wax to make those candles.
Take Zion, for example. We spent the entire length of THE MATRIX hearing about this place that is supposed to be humanity's last safe haven. I imagined in my head this scrappy outpost similar to the Rebel Alliance bases on Yavin or Hoth. I mean, these humans have these ships but all of their clothes look like rags? One would expect a level of poverty for these survivors to have pulled themselves together. But, they actually have the technology to battle the Sentinels and yet they barely have anything else. Well, they have enough to have a rave/orgy after Morpheus gives them a speech, but that is true for most post-apocalyptic societies. Screw survival, lets grind to some house music!
Every time our heroes venture into The Matrix it seems to slightly change the rules on us, almost as if The Wachowskis were making it up as they went. I don't think this was on the level of LOST making it up along the way, but clearly these siblings tried to throw everything but the kitchen sink in ro see what fans would connect with. There is no other explanation for having the amazing Monica Bellucci for a single scene that could have been excised completely. Persephone and The Merovingian are interesting characters that we never get to explore. Sure, The Merovingian delivers a cool little speech and Persephone leads them to The Keymaker, but it is a 30 minute sequence that could have been truncated. I was left wondering if these characters were going to return in THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS for a more prominent role which sadly, never happened. In fact, they really only served to progress the protagonists to The Keymaker, plus introduce The Twins.
Hello, my name is Persephone. Welcome to The Olive Garden.
The Twins are the Darth Maul of THE MATRIX RELOADED. They are incredibly cool with very unique powers and yet they are squandered. Their presence during the climactic highway scene is one of the best parts of the movie, but then they are gone so easily only to be replaced by those pesky Agents. The Twins have just the right abilities to make the battle last longer than a few seconds and yet they are more easily disposed of than the Agents who keep popping up over and over again. It would have made a lot more sense for The Twins to have been Agents themselves, or at least join forces to battle Neo and Moipheus. Instead, we get Agent Smith.
Now, I thought Hugo Weaving's portrayal of Agent Smith in the first movie was awesome. He was menacing, unstoppable, and his death was the perfect way to display the power of Neo as he becomes The One. So, to bring him back with no fanfare and make him so much more powerful just feels like an attempt to cash in on the first movie. As far as villains go, Agent Smith is top notch, but I would have preferred to have a new enemy rise to battle Neo. Instead, this undermines his One-ness.
Talk about bringing a knife to a gunfight.
THE MATRIX RELOADED is better than THE MATRIX in a lot of ways: the cinematography and special effects, the scale of the visuals, the action scenes, and the soundtrack. But, it also feels like too much dessert. At the end of THE MATRIX RELOADED, I felt like I had eaten too much and now had a stomachache. Combine that with the fact that there is no real resolutions of any kind, and you are left with an empty feeling. To call THE MATRIX a trilogy is a bit of a misnomer. We really have THE MATRIX and THE MATRIX 2 which was broken into two films.
I was very excited as I left the theater after THE MATRIX RELOADED, left to ponder thousands of theories and ideas for where the finale could go. I ran out and bought ENTER THE MATRIX and played through the game and the hour's worth of original scenes to enhance my experience with the movie, only to realize I would have to wait months to find out how it would all end. Having seen the full trilogy, I can look back on all three films and say without a doubt that THE MATRIX RELOADED was a vast disappointment and the lowpoint of the three movies. Does that mean I thought THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS was better?
This was the better version of TLC's music video for "Waterfalls"
Yes! THE MATRIX trilogy concludes with a very satisfying chapter in REVOLUTIONS. When I originally saw it in the theater, I was f*cking pissed. I thought that THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS was a piece of hot garbage. But, I allowed myself time to cool down and get over my overhype, I realized that you cannot look at RELOADED and REVOLUTIONS as two films but rather two parts of the same movie. Much like HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, RELOADED and REVOLUTIONS are a whole film. If you sit down and watch them back to back, it works much better than having to wait months between theatrical releases. Unlike KILL BILL which cleanly divides a film both tonally and narratively, nothing in these two MATRIX movies works on it's own.
Suddenly, the revelations from The Architect to Neo makes more sense. Now, the threat of Agent Smith feels more credible. Like DEATHLY HALLOWS, the concluding battle between Neo and Agent Smith while Zion is attacked by the Sentinels takes up the bulk of the film. REVOLUTIONS is the action packed ending that the film deserves, culminating in the ultimate sacrifice to reboot the entire system. I found the ending to REVOLUTIONS to be satisfying while many found it to be anticlimactic. I never thought this was going to be the end of THE MATRIX as a series and I do not recognize them truly as a trilogy. RELOADED/REVOLUTIONS together represent the second chapter in THE MATRIX series and The Wachowskis owe us another story to properly conclude the saga of Neo, Morpheus, Trinity, and the rest.
Detroit looks so much better in the future.
THE MATRIX set up a world of infinite possibilities while THE MATRIX RELOADED tried to expound on too many philosophical directions that could not possibly be satisfied wholly in a single film. THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS successfully ends the arc of Neo fulfilling the prophecy of The One while also rebooting The Matrix. Many of you may have felt that, like the critics, THE MATRIX sequels failed to live up to the grandeur of the original. I disagree and think they enhanced it. While I disliked RELOADED and enjoyed REVOLUTIONS, together they are a satisfactory sequel. Now, we just need another movie to continue that magic.
Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion Im always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!
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