Matrix Reloaded

If I don’t write something about Matrix Reloaded now, I never will, so I’m going to. I won’t give anything away that you wouldn’t get from a newspaper review.

Is it worth going to see? Yes. Would I like to get it on DVD and play bits of it over and over again? Yes. It’s a kung fu extravangza; a lot fewer guns than the first one, more frantic unbelievable superhero martial arts, with and without weapons. You’ve probably heard about the “Neo vs hundreds of Agent Smiths” scene (codenamed “the Burly Brawl” according to Wired) – it’s astounding. The jumping-on-cars freeway scene from the trailer – it’s great. They managed to maintain tension for ridiculous lengths of time; I’m easily bored but I wasn’t here, for a second. The effects are similar in style to Matrix 1, just more so – more bullet time, spinning, rotating, hordes of robots in the tunnels, everything.

Are the characters any better developed? No. Not at all. Possibly less so than the first one. The “humans” are less interesting than the programs. Any film with Keanu Reeves as the protagonist obviously isn’t that interested in detailed character acting. It’s not a film about people; it’s got a lot stronger plot than the first one, less background exposition required, things fit better into the whole mythos, and that and the kung fu means there’s not much time for much else and you don’t miss it too much.

Except perhaps in the scenes set in Zion, which are just a bit dull and heavy-handed. Refugees, puffs of steam, a Council speaking in cod-Biblical terms… it’s Battlestar Galactica, isn’t it? With some MTV dancers. They couldn’t abandon the slick production long enough to make Zion a real place. Every scene has some sort of message, and that message is sent via cliche. I’ll fast-forward through these bits.

Oh, and the music… missed out there, as well. The soundtrack is disappointing, standard movie-orchestral stuff. Not bad as such, but they should definitely have continued the techno and industrial theme from 1. No point buying the CD for this one.

Casualty list? Less than the first one. Columbine sensitivities? In 1, Neo et al happily massacred dozens of innocent tools of the Matrix (see lobby scene) and here, they just beat them up. This is not a major point, we’re not short of violence and destruction, but it’s noticeable.

Philosophy? Well balanced IMO. A lot of free-will issues rather than 1′s “Cartesian demon” stuff; not dumbed down, not taking the film over. The plot and the concepts behind it, in general, follow the same; it’s meaty enough and develops enough that nobody would be disappointed, but if you are only there for gosh-wow it’s not going to bore you. There’s a scene at the end which is extremely plot-important and also very dense which I can see a lot of people not getting, but again it’s not vital, and is already providing sci-fi geeks with lots of “does it mean that?” chewiness.

Okay, why shouldn’t you see it?

  • You hated the first one;
  • You hate Keanu Reeves;
  • You really hate kung fu;
  • You find all action scenes dull;
  • You’re fanatically obsessed with the idea that all characters in films should be realistic, and break out in hives if there’s the slightest hint that they aren’t.
So if you’re not actually allergic to any of the components, you should go see this film. If you like supercharged kineticism and/or kung fu, you should definitely go see it right now, probably more than once.

Was it better than the first one? Mmmm…….. yes. I think so. Maybe I’ve been jaded by repeated viewing of 1, but I enjoyed this more.

Does it explain why Trinity loves Neo, apart from the fact that, y’know, it’s her destiny? No. Does it have lots of shots of her in PVC? Oh yes.

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