I was never a fan of The Matrix franchise. The very concept of these films bothered me since I saw the first one (I’ll go into this below). I saw the first two movies when they were relatively new, with no desire to see more. I skipped the third movie when it came out. But when all four became easily available on HBO Max, I felt it was time to go through the whole series.
Besides, my wife wanted to see them. Or maybe she just wanted to see Keanu Reeves.
If you don’t know the concept behind the Matrix movies, here’s how it works: Machines have taken over the world. All but a few people know anything about that. Most everyone spend their lives lying down, with a cable connected to their brains, not knowing that every experience they have is part of a computer simulation called The Matrix. A small band of rebels have figured out what’s happening and are trying to free the human race.
I first saw The Matrix (1999) soon after I could rent the DVD. In the first part of the movie, Neo (Keanu Reeves) is brought to a secret place and is told what I explained above. But once the exposition is out of the way, it’s pretty much all about fighting – but it’s like no fighting like you’ve ever seen before. it’s a mixture of Kung Fu, massive gunpower, and extreme digital effects. I enjoyed the fighting, but only up to a point. I give the original Matrix a B.
As I told you, I first saw The Matrix on DVD. The 4:4 TVs of those days weren’t the best for science fiction action adventure. I did not see it again until now.
Four years later, out came The Matrix Reloaded (2003). Since the previous movie gave us most of the exposition, pretty much the whole movie was action. Along with the Kung Fu and digital effects, we get big, many-to-one, impossible fights – indoors, outdoors, and even on a freeway. There’s also an underground city in danger of being destroyed. It ended with a cliffhanger. I also give the second Matrix film a B-.
I first saw Reloaded on what should have been the best way to see this kind of movie: on Imax. In fact, I decided to watch the movie that way because I wanted to see what a movie shot in 35mm film would look like in Imax. It looked awful. (I have since seen 35mm-Imax blowups of other films that looked fantastic.)
I didn’t bother to watch The Matrix Revolutions (2003) when it was new. Having it seen recently, it was clearly designed to end the series with a big, happy ending. This one is almost one big battle filled with war movie cliches – except for women warriors. You also get to watch giant machines that could have killed all the human fighters with ease but somehow don’t. Other than that, you’re just looking at CGI. As the worst Matrix movie, I give it a C-.
Before I get to the last movie, let’s look at the creators of The Matrix. The Wachowskis (formerly called The Wachowski Brothers) were born Larry and Andy Wachowski. They wrote and directed the first three films together. Both filmmakers changed their genders in recent years. Now they’re Lilly and Lana Wachowski. Lilly was not involved with Matrix Resurrections. Lana Wachowski wrote and directed the final (I hope) Matrix movie, herself.
The Matrix Resurrections (2021) came 17 years after the previous Matrix. Unlike the earlier movies, this one has a sense of humor. Early on, the filmmakers remind us that they’re making a fourth episode of a trilogy because Warner Brothers wants it. The movie plays with the issue of what’s the real world and what’s the matrix, which makes it much more fun. Stay through the closing credits and you’ll find a very funny ending gag.
This is the only Matrix film that I can give the grade B+.
When the machines take over the world, hope and pray that these robots will be as smart as the ones in the Matrix franchise. That way, the machines will surely lose.
Here are three stupid mistakes the machines made when they connected the people to the Matrix:
- The robots keep us alive so they can generate electricity from our body heat. For many, many reasons, that doesn’t work.
- Why did the machines create a matrix that replicates the end of the 20th century – a time in which there are hackers and computer scientists who might figure this thing out? If the robots created a matrix that looks like medieval Europe, no one would notice?
- Better yet, why use humans? All you need are large, warm-blooded, land animals. Why not cows?
By the way, much of these movies were shot in in the Bay Area.
One thought on “Matrixes: Kung Fu, digital effects, and ridiculous stories”
I think I’ll pass, unless it’s on a friend’s couch and they’re pouring something exceptional. The first one is interesting as an artifact, but it totally fails my “internal logic and consistency” test. It just makes no sense at all, if you poke at it just a little. So, fun- especially the “lobby shootout”, but go back for another helping? Nah. I don’t think so.
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