The Matrix: The Schmatrix
**.8 BM
Starring: Keanu Ass, Carrie Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne, Hugo Weaving, Gloria Foster, Harold Perrineau, Harry Lennix, Jada Pinkett, Nona Gaye, Neil Rayment, Adrian Rayment, Lambert Wilson, Monica Bellucci, Randall Duk-Kim

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Two words: Empty Spectacle.

Rare is the Nerd Party I can watch from the non-nerd perspective, but this little saga happens to be one of them. Much has been made of my distaste for the first Matrix flick, but I always admitted that I probably would have been sucked completely into this particular nerd party if they cast someone even remotely believable as Neo, the messiah figure. Someone with a modicum of talent. Someone who could make it look like he wasn't being painstakingly directed to do even the simplest of head movements that should come naturally to any actual human being.

"Reloaded," however, is to "The Matrix" what Metallica's "Reload" was to "Ride The Lightning." Slowed down, watered down and dumbed down. While I'm willing to concede that the third movie could make this seem better in hindsight, this feels like so much padding that it really calls into question the notion that it was actually 'always planned as a trilogy,' as I've heard on numerous occasions. The first movie seemed like all you needed, with a perfect end point for what it was. This feels like haphazard 'now what?' money grabbing.

One of my big issues with the first one was that there's no freakin' consistency in what people can and can't do while 'bending the rules' of the matrix, and the fact that nobody else can do what Neo can do just feels like the 'advanced and rebellious minds' that managed to become cognizant enough of themselves to wriggle free from the matrix and start their own resistance force somehow lack the imagination to do what this charmless wooden post in expensive sunglasses can do. I mean, the first thing I do if I figure out "there is no spoon" is freakin' turn into a 40 foot tall super badass kung-fu master and crush everything that sucks. After blathering about it with fellow nerds, however, it was pointed out that Neo was just apparently supposed to have such a great head for code that he could see, process and create counterprogramming with naturally gifted speed and precision, allowing him to break more rules than the others can. Like I can slap together a half-ass web page like this, so in the matrix, I would have powers equivalent to the ability to leap tall fire hydrants in a single bound. However, the guys who put together the high comedy website that is Homestar Runner would have powers equivalent to turning into the Hulk and smashing all puny agents. I suppose I can try to swallow this, but still, making me believe Keanu is smarter than Fishburne in any way is like trying to pass off a toaster oven as Zeppo the Beef Wizard. I even liked Trinity in the first one, but forcing her to be in this crazy magic devoted love with Captain Wooden of the S.S. Stickuptheass is like flushing her down the shitter, too.

So, having only seen the first movie in the theaters, I'd sorta forgotten that 'Zion' was apparently this much-anticipated stronghold where humanity was safe from the evil sentinel machines, and thus, when it turned out to be a place where everyone wore Kleenex and shot music videos, I was only annoyed and not crestfallen. I mean, really... haven't we passed the whole 'ceremonial robe' concept by? Zion is just a bad episode of 1960s Star Trek followed up by an electronica rave (really, if you're about to be attacked and slaughtered by machines, maybe you'd be more interested in listening to some old blues or some simple bongo-beats or something, and not musica del maquina) that's supposed to be their 'reveling in their humanity' moment, but is done so slo-mo and mechanically that it seems utterly inhuman and absurd. Maybe that's the point - EVEN HUMANS ARE MACHINES TECHNOLOGY WILL EAT US AND THEN ITSELF OR MAYBE JUST US. It really fits in with my theory as to how the third movie will go.

It's like this: Neo has powers in the real world now. Therefore, the real world isn't really the real world, but is actually the 'failsafe' for the Matrix. Big ol' fuck-you at the end. Just my thought on it.

Anyway, more stuff that sucks about this movie. The freakin' Keymaker. Somehow, he was the coolest character in the movie, but he was the most fucking ridiculous. "I know all this because I am meant to know it. I know all this because you guys needed someone on your side to tell you this. I am here because the writers needed to figure out a way out of a corner. I am the program called Deux Ex Machina." This is so absurdly blatant that I feel bad even making fun of it. Too easy. I'm sure it'll be written off to be the work of the oracle, but it's still dumb. As much as I enjoyed Randall Duk Kim in this role, really, it should have been Rick Moranis. I would have enjoyed it so much more.

Can someone explain to me why Agent Man on Freeway, who leaps out of a car, lands on another car and destroys it utterly, then lands on the car he WANTS to destroy but does it all nice-like? And c'mon, how can you fill their little white car with THAT many bulletholes and not hit the three huge, obvious targets INSIDE. BULLSHIT I DECLARE. For mechanical computer programs, they sure have absolutely no sense of precision, and it's good that dramatic pauses were programmed into them, so they can look menacingly at a victim and say "DeLEEETed" in an ominous voice and take enough time to botch everything up. A standard supervillain move, I know, and that's the kind of thing you can forgive in an action movie, but these schmucks are trying to be so "next level" and SMARTY PANTS about everything that it makes you want to klunk some Wachowski heads together and say "Nuh-uh, nimrods." And how bad did Monica Bellucci suck? I even kinda liked the Merovingian sequence, but if you try to make Keanu Reeves express emotion, your movie is gonna falter. Universal Cinematic Law. I kept convulsing in annoyance whenever he had to speak. They even try to compensate for him by having people insinuate that he's a dumbass, but if you have to do that, TIS A BAD SIGN.

Anyway, I could kvetch forever. Bottom line: it looked pretty, and fights were kinda fun, but the pretention is cranked up to a zillion, and it's remarkably dopey for something that's trying to be a bit of a mindfuck. They also really need a new trick besides FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT slowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwFIGHTFIGHTFIGHT if they want to keep people from being bored to tears in part three: "The Matrix 3: The Matrixest."

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