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.

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