What starts off well and complete, then dies a prolonged miserable death right in front of your terrified bewildered eyes? For me, it was the monstrosity called The Matrix Trilogy. Or as I now call it, A Huge Waste Of Time. What follows is my SPOILER filled take on the whole shebang.
The first Matrix movie came out in 1999 and I vividly recall seeing and loving it at the time. It seemed like a perfect, compact film that said its point, and said it extremely well, and left us able to move on graciously with our lives. It was a blockbuster, which thus spawned sequels right away, none seen by my eyes till just recently. My OCD of completeness meant someday I would have to finish the job, the universe demanded it.
When it came out, The Matrix was a crazed original blend of cyberpunk, hong kong action films, and a smattering of junior level philosophy. Taking place in our modern world, Keanu Reeves plays a slacker hacker who is suddenly being chased by mysterious nefarious government agents with strange powers. When he takes up with leather clad vigilantes, goes “down the rabbit hole,” and discovers the horrifying truth. Machines had taken over the world and plugged all of humanity into a shared virtual reality. But Keanu might be The One to free them all, as prophesied by The Oracle. Hence begins his journey of self discovery in order to start the revolution and save the world. By the way, because of the VR everyone is in, if you can think it, you can do it. The Matrix ends with the Christ-like rebirth of Keanu, now called Neo, into a Superman type figure. And he calls the machines from a payphone.
Here and now, the story strikes my mind as over. Neo is gonna lay a beatdown on this VR, which will cause the program to go kabloeey and this will henceforth free everyone in the real world. That’s what I took from it.
The Matrix Reloaded bothered us in 2003. A mess. A mad mess that should be shot at dawn.
Where to begin with this crap? Months after Neo went all Kal-El, the revolution is picking up steam in the real world. The machines are striking back by slowly closing in on the last human city left. Neo and friends defy orders and try to find the Keymaker so that they can be chased for a spectacularly long time on a highway by two boring ghosts whose acting rivals Kristen Stewart. This all culminates in a guy called The Architect telling Neo this is all like Ragnarok. Or deja view. Take your pick. In the real world, Neo gains superpowers and in a surprising move (not) can now control the machines. Which promptly drops him into a coma. Oh, and he has an awful fight with a rogue computer program rendered on what seems to be an etch-a-sketch. This begs the question of What in the Blazes of Mordor is going on.
The Matrix Revolutions slightly rebounded in 2003. Only slightly. Just enough to drag me to the bitter end.
We begin with Han Solo frozen in Carbonite. Wait, sorry, Neo is stuck in a virtual train station. And we are promptly bored till his girlfriend Trinity saves Neo’s dumbass. Meanwhile, the evil machines are now attacking the human city. And the human general is a jerk. Neo and Trinity go to make peace with the machines, fight the rogue computer program, have lots of touching moments (yawn), and inflict us with a final fight sequence longer than James Cameron’s Titanic. Please sir, can this just end?
Final tally: Humans win. Machines concede. And we all are going to work together to build a better tomorrow. The coda is The Oracle and The Architect having a nice little chat in the park. I kid you not.
It is hard to pinpoint where this garbage lost me. Was it the five million gravity defying fight scenes never ever end, they just keep going and going and going? Sigh. Maybe. Could it have been the rampant subplots and characters and extensions of this world that make Lost look like the two person story from Throw Mama From The Train? Mmmm. Possibly. Might it have been the scattering of boiled down theology slapped sloppily onto this canvas called The Matrix movies? As Charlie Brown once exclaimed: “That’s It!”
During my teen years (think the time of 1812 or so) my readings consisted heavily of philosophical books of all types. One of the best was Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance, which has been consumed by me three times over the years. This led to Philosophy 101 while in College, a wonderful course with a wacky teacher bringing about great thoughts.
These movies attempt to conjure up and mesh all these different concepts and thoughts together and marry it to the action film genre. And it is a shotgun wedding born in hell. Whenever everything stops in the fight department, and the filmmakers plaster their ideas on screen, my brain hurts. Hey look, reality is a dream! Or is the dream reality? Has it all happened before? And is the spoon real? Yes, that is a question here. Wake me when The Matrix creators are finished patting themselves on the back.
To tell you how much this Trilogy bored my cerebral cortex, absolutely none of the extras on the dvd set were clicked on to view. They frankly never interested me in the slightest, and I felt no need or desire to understand the filmmakers motives or thoughts (or lack thereof) they had while making this stuff. And this is coming from someone who suffered through the entire Star Trek: Nemesis commentary because of his aforementioned Geek OCD.
While a certain small part of my psyche is happy to finally complete The Matrix Trilogy, another larger, more sensible portion is still shaking his fist in anger at the countless hours wasted in this endeavour. This entire journey felt almost as useless as an Ernest movie marathon. And this is coming from the person who has seen every Police Academy movie.
Avoid Neo at all costs. Your sanity will thank you for it.
P.S. The Matrix Trilogy is copyright 2012 to Warner Bros. Special thanks to my brother Mark for loaning me his box set and saving me the cost of a rental. Bonus points to me from mentioning Throw Mama From The Train, something I never thought I would do.