The Matrix
** GM
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, Hugo Weaving


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There's some debate as to whether or not I missed the part where they said 'the laws of physics still apply,' but throughout this film, the entire premise that's burned into us is that "the entire real world isn't real, there are no rules, you can do anything." Now, to me, this means I get to fly, shapeshift, go to Joel Schumacher's house to deliver the Mother Of All Wedgies and kick the crap out of him for ruining Batman, create an army of monkeys to do my bidding, etc. All Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Neo (Keanu Reeves) can think of to do is dodge bullets, do flips, leap really high and hang there for a long time to allow the camera to do one o' them nifty 3-D rotation shots that are all the rage and other assorted less-than-imaginative stunts.

The visuals in "The Matrix" are stunning, disturbing and very smoothly done, saturated with the typical dark and gray color scheme that most every sci-fi film set in the future tends to adopt. Despite the lack of creativity in the characters that are supposed to be the most advanced and rebellious minds, the script is actually somwhat intelligently put together with an interesting concept - our world in 1999 is a simulation designed to pacify our minds, keep us inert and keep us dreaming of our lives within this matrix while machines that feed on human bioelectricity secretly harvest us. Morpheus leads the gang of people who've managed to free themselves of this and are trying to find The One that will lead the resistance to victory against the artificial intelligence that's enslaved us.

Fishburne is great as usual as the enigmatic Morpheus, and Moss ain't half bad as the hard-bitten and mysterious Trinity. Even Keanu Reeves, who turned a once-promising gig as Ted "Theodore" Logan into an aggravating and inexplicably successful career chock full of appallingly bad acting, is not AS aggressively annoying as I had expected him to be. However, this is not because he is GOOD, but largely due to the fact that his dialog was not extensive and he was not called upon to do much of anything in the way of facial expressions - two of his big weaknesses. My biggest problem with the film is that I have a hard time believing that this monotone mook is going to be the savior of humanity. It's very tough to swallow a movie that's based on the premise that Keanu Reeves is a messiah, that this slug is somehow capable of saving the world, and is somehow more special than Laurence Fishburne. This, to me, is absurd, and is the main reason I wasn't completely enveloped in this film. If I have to bank my future on this guy, I'll take the blue pill.

I'm also a bit curious as to how exactly Cypher (Joe Pantoliano) managed to secretly connive against his buddies with Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) when every time one of this little crew is plugged into the matrix, there's a guy awake in the real world monitoring what he's doing? That's one of the few plot devices that's left conveniently unexplained, along with the fact that these brilliant humans that are unlimited by the rules of the real world don't just sprout machine guns out of their hands or phase through walls to escape their pursuers.

That's the problem with a lot of sci-fi movies. A good premise isn't quite explained as thoroughly as it needs to be for us to completely swallow it. This film does a decent job of plugging those gaps, but a couple are still glaring. But it looks spectacular at times, and thus it's probably worth seeing.

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