Saturday, May 24, 2003

Matrix Reloaded

One word description of "The Matrix Reloaded" : STYLE

It was all about style. From the set design, to the make-up, the costumesthe lighting and cinematography were simply the best I've seen in along time. In the same class as "Blade Runner", "The City of Lost Children"and "The Fifth Element".

About the camera work. These guys are inventing something new each time.They are really pushing wire stunts to the extreme. The camera work wasbrilliant most of the time, but looked silly when they tried to push ittoo far (specially in the 'Neo vs 100 Agent Smiths' scene).

On the SFX. Brilliant for the most part. Specially with the interior ofZion and the fight squences. Though the CGI fights weren't as goodas I expected. There were distinct and jarring transitions between liveaction and CGI elements. They still have some work to do with the models forclothing. Neo's coat looked very plastic-y specially when he was doing all thoseaerial moves. The 'virtual camera' was a bit overused, IMHO.

About the directing. There were big second and third units, but I assumethe Wachowskis were with the main unit. I liked the work a lot, once againthe everything, down to the position of the people in rooms / hallwayswere very stylised. Maybe that was how they wanted to portray the insideof The Matrix, but it was a bit disconcerting. Too much "style" isn'talways good.

The acting / characters. Neo isn't exactly the most believable superhero(or Christ figure, more on that later) but least the film sends a nodin that direction via The Oracle. She had some of the best lines:

Oracle: You're cuter than I thought. I can see why she likes you.
Neo: Who?
Oracle: Not too bright, though.

But none of that self-deflation in the second. Took itself a bit too seriously, for my liking.

Poor Neo. He's pretty lost. It's a big responsibility to have the fate ofthe world on one's shoulders, but the film doesn't really explore his innerthoughts on this. It's given rather superficial treatment - to the film'sdetriment, I think. Keanu gives a good performance in terms of characterisation(he has very little to work with), and a brilliant performance in the actionsequences.

Carrie-Anne is pretty understated and unused in this. She has that kick assaction sequence on the highway, and some rather sappy moments with Neo.The script really didn't leave much room for characters, but Moss reallypulled through in this one.

Now, Morpheus. Dude, what's whith the speechifying? Cut it out. Makes yousound like some crazy preacher man. Maybe that was the point.. but you don'tmake leaders my making speeches, do lead through your actions. Morpheus isalways in Neo's shadow, so he should be Peter and Paul, to Neo's Jesus.I liked the way that the fight choreographers matched Morph's fightingto his physique. I think Morph is going to die in part 3. It's the onlyway he can become the hero / messiah he wants to be.

Other characters. The French dude was completely over the top. Reel it inboys. Same with his wife. I think the film would have done with a bit moreexposition about who and what they were. My interpretation is that these areprograms within the Matrix that have strayed from their original goal and takena life of it's own. Agent Smith was cool and menacing as always. Hugo Weavingcan be really creepy when he wants to. The teleporting dreadlocked white dudesare absolutely the coolest thing in the movie. More of them please!

About the structure. THey used the peek-into-the-future openining sequence..Decent without being brilliant. You always know that the core three will alwayssurvive (least till the 3rd one) so the "death of Trinity" was not thatshocking. The first act was a bit slow. The introduction on Morph's backgroundand the political situation on Zion could have been done with a bit of editing.The whole Morpheus-does-Winston-Churchill scene, the underground rave scene andthe Neo-Trinity sex scene could have all been cut. Completely useless to the plot.Also, the Neo has a chat with the councillor scene could have gone. Or leastdone something useful..

The second and third acts were action heavy, but the end of the second-start ofthe third was not very cool, with the Neo in the Mainframe bit. Maybe too muchexposition, maybe too little. "Show it, don't say it".

The plot in short (there aint much anyway). Agent smith has some cool new powers,maybe stolen from Neo where he can clone himself. And if he "clones" a humanin the matrix, he can take over their real world bodies. Neo is superman, forall intents and purposes. Zoin is under attack, and seems to be destroyed.The biggest revelation (may not be true) is that the One is some form of feedbackfunction within the Matrix, used to correct it's unbalanced equation. Neo is in factthe sixth incarnation of the One, according to the Matrix control program. The oneis supposed to interact with the outside, and return to the Matrix controlto optimise it's settings. At each restart, zion is destroyed and a new zion isstarted by the Matrix by moving 16 humans outside. Zion is required to find theOne each time.

It seems plausable. But no reason to believe the computer. Also, it seems Neohas some power (more than some, a LOT. Enough to stop 4 (?) Sentinels) outsidethe Matrix, in the real world. This raises the question, is Zion really outsidethe Matrix? Is it just part of some Meta-matrix?

On to the Neo-as-Jesus thing. Could we have been hit over the head with this anymore? Please! Turn it down a bit. Of course, I really should hold judgement until thelast part is done, coz it's meant to be one big story.. but still. They better come upwith something better than Neo sacrificing himself to save humanity. Also, they betternot wake up inside of the meta-Matrix. The "it was all a dream" exit is the worstpossible cop-out.

I'll leave speculation for later. It's 1:30 am and I'm really tired.

Over and out.

Friday, May 23, 2003

The End of Buffy

hmm, I saw the final on the 20th of may. Watched it again last night. Itstill kills me. Spoilers for those who haven't seen it.

Was it good? It was bloody fantastic. It was exactly what the last Buffyhad to be. It brings everyone's stories to a nice end, and leaves thingsopen just in case. I'm still pissed that Faith doesn't have her own storynow. She really grew in the last 5 (?) episodes. I'm also concerned about Spike. I'm sure the story about James being on Angel isn't a sick joke...So how do they do it? Without making his sacrifice any less meaningful?Everyone is throwing around the Sanshu prophecy.. but you never know howthese things go. Mutant Enemy have a twisted way of meeting prophecies,see the "father will kill the son" for a case in point...

Anyways, the major development here is of course that there is no longerONE chosen (not even two, actually). All the potentials have been activated.So there are dozens, possibly 100s of slayers out there.. that could be trouble... Plus, not sure how all this falls into the Fray story... whathappens to the next generation of slayers? Does that go back into theone chosen? Or will all potentials be born slayers now? That's for later...

There were some brilliant scenes in "Chosen". Buffy's cookie-dough speechwas just brilliant. And possibly the most insightful revelation she's hadabout herself. Dawn's kick-in-the-shins. Priceless. The drawing of Angelon Spike's punching bag. Absolutely hilarious. The handing over of the amuletto Spike.. the scene with the "core four", the original scooby gang in theschool hall. Going back to those irreverent days of lighthearted banter thatsomehow got lost along the way. Gile's throwback to the end of "Welcome tothe Hellmouth and The Harvest". Brings a tear to the eye. How much these peoplehave changed...

One observation that's particularly important, from Loey is that the twoscoobs that died, Anya and Spike, died for a cause (humanity) that they spentmost of their lives hating. And killing. Joss always brings it back to redemption.It's not easy, no one will do it for you, but it can be done. "You lurrrvehumans!" :)

Oh, and the D and D scene! Priceless. Poor Giles! I thought he'd becleric or paladin or something. Dwarf is funnier tho.

Dunno what else to say. Head is all in a jumble. It's been a great 7 years.Can't wait till Angel Season 5 (imagine how bad it would have been to lose Angel as well. I'd have cried for a month!) I'm gonna watch the pilot andremember the good old days now.

Grr! Argh!