Matrix: : Revolutions (Part II – counterpoint)

Okay, at this point I’m assuming you’ve read both my and Andy’s review of The Matrix: Revolutions. If not, go read them now, because it’ll up our page views, and might help you understand where this one is going. Anyway, now to respond to some of Andy‘s arguments: [a note: There may be some spoilers throughout. Any major plot or storyline spoilers I’ll try to flag, but minor things might just be left in. You have been warned]

Andy said: Revolutions provides a suitably epic and satisfying conclusion to the hero-myth tale begun in the first Matrix film

I’d argue that Revolutions provided a suitably predictable (albeit nicely/”visually pleasingly” done, for the most part) conclusion to the tale begun in the 2nd movie.. Well, the end of the 2nd movie. At the end of the first movie, Neo is essentially a god in the Matrix, and can do whatever we want. That’s what we are lead to believe. We’re also lead to believe that he can speak directly to whatever great power controls the thing (remember the phone call? I’m assuming he wasn’t just calling random numbers and making the same speech over and over again… although given the substantial fluctuation in intelligence he displays in the 2nd and 3rd movies, I guess it’s possible. So the first one ends with us believing that Neo has won, and the world is saved. The 2nd movie begins saying that Neo hadn’t really won, he was just god, and could do whatever he wanted. Apparently, what he wanted was to fight worthless battles that accomplished nothing, then fly around for a while. They were fun to watch, but about half way through the movie you start thinking, “Wait… why didn’t he just fly away from that before it started?”… “and remember when he just flew into people, and they died? Why not do that again?” (I know, I know… “upgrades”.. weak.) Anyway, I was stuck through much of the 2nd movie with no real idea why Neo didn’t win at the end of the first one.

Andy said: Importantly, it avoids the mistakes that made plagued #2 (Neo being invulnerable, Zion being a joke, the Architect and the Oracle using Really Big Words to distract us from the fact that they’re not saying anything All That Deep, the final Act being a confusing mishmash of cut-scenes and not-sufficiently-explained sequences, among other things)..

Okay. I think the fact that Neo was invulnerable in #2 lead to a lot of the thoughts I explained in the previous paragraph. It also came straight from the end of #1, when he discovered that he was, indeed, invulnerable. I’d consider this more a problem of trying to create a trilogy out of what was just one movie. Look at Star Wars. at the end of A New Hope, evil still existed. Vader flies away, and we see him do it. There wasn’t any such message at the end of #1. Also, at the end of A New Hope, Luke is hardly a Jedi.. Hell, he’s hardly much of anything. We’re lead to believe Neo has already achieved what he was supposed to achieve in #1… and then additional things just get tacked on for the next 2 movies. What I’m getting at is that the 2nd two movies in the classic Star Wars trilogy highlight and compliment what happened in the first movie, and continue that story. In the Matrix trilogy, the 2nd two movies downgrade and trivialize what was done in the first movie, and tarnish what was originally believed to be a pretty spectacular event. (Yeah, I became a messiah and destroyed the Matrix, but they just instantly made a better one,) [At least the Death Star 2 took some time to build…]

As for Zion… Zion never once interested me. They showed up, and I thought “Hrm.. I’d rather live in the Matrix.” They started dancing, and I thought “Hrm.. I guess I could take a nap”. I guess the mixture of ultra-1337 technology and archaic gears and pulleys and stuff was supposed to be kewl. (And I’m sure there’s some reasoning, like energy signatures or EMP dangers or something) but to me, it just looked stupid. That thought continued into #3. Example: Those Mech suits. Seriously… why? Are we not of the opinion that wheels are good? I’m assuming those were created [for the movie] because they were supposed to look kewl. I thought they looked idiotic. I was pleased with the absence of dancing in #3, but it didn’t make Zion any more interesting to me. Also, just curiosity question: if they’ve had all this time to built these machines, and ships, etc.. Knowing that they’re fighting a war with the machines, shouldn’t they have come up with some adequate defenses for the thing? They always seemed so surprised by everything that was going on… like the size of the machine army, the fact that they were drilling toward Zion, etc.. Why not build a giant EMP, or better yet, MANY giant EMPS, then launch an assault on the surface? Did I miss some part where that wasn’t possible?

The Architect and the Oracle… There were two things I really liked about the 2nd movie: 1.) The huge highway action scene. 2.) The Architect. (I found a few other things entertaining.. like the battle with the many Smiths, but their entertainment value came at a price (They did nothing at all but hurt the storyline, and the CG looked pretty bad in parts.. We’re talking Anakin on the shaak bad). But back to the Architect: His speech, though wordy, was really the only interesting new addition to the Matrix story. I was surprised and pleased by it. They were actually doing something significant to the storyline, after doing pretty much nothing with it the entire movie. It was also one of those things where people, after the movie, were saying “I’m going to have to see that again, just to hear all of what the Architect was saying.” I thought that scene was incredibly well done. The oracle, on the other hand, just annoys me. I’d like to be revered for saying nothing besides “you already know the answer” repeatedly. I also find it kind of cheap that every time a decision is made, they run to the oracle hoping she’ll give them all the answers. Unless she has some sort of strange telepathic powers, the same thing could have been accomplished by just sitting down and thinking about it for a while. So in this regard, #3 was an improvement. The Oracle is finally helpful, and she finally says something in a coherent fashion that doesn’t involve 3 subsequent sentences of explanation. (and probably some visual clue for the slower viewers out there.). As for the ending mishmash… I guess I didn’t see it as that confusing. I just didn’t find it all that interesting or new either. Hell, you had seen much of it 2 or 3 times by this point (Neo’s Dream), so you already knew what was going to happen. They could have made his choice (when he left the Architect) a bit more clear, as some people seemed confused, but otherwise, I’d call it decent).

Andy said: #3 ditches much of the pretentious college-freshman-philosophy talk and gives us what we loved about #1: lots of fun action with a catchy sci-fi premise, coated with just enough high-concept elements to elevate it above standard-fare sci-fi.

Yes, #3 ditched the philosophy talk (which I found kind of interesting) and replaced it with some new-agey “We’ll be okay, because we believe in something” mantra, which I didn’t care for. There were some close similarities between #1 and #3 on this point. In #1, the big thing was Morpheus (and consequently, almost everyone else on his ship) believing in Neo as “the One” who would fulfill the prophecy. There was a specific thing that they believed in. I thought that was good. In #3, the prophecy is proved to be bunk, and now they start “believing” again. This time not in anything specific, just in Neo. They believed he would make things okay, but they had no idea how. I’m not sure if I should find that impressive (They’re believing in this guy despite overwhelming odds) or just an act of desperation (Well, we’re going to die, so I’ll put my faith in the only thing that might have a chance).

[spoilers ahead. highlight to read]

As for what I loved about #1: I loved the world inside the Matrix. Besides the final showdown (which I found hella disappointing), they didn’t spend time there at all. As for the fun action… The battles inside Zion I didn’t find enjoyable at all. I thought the mech suits were stupid, the inspirational “women fighting for their man” and consequently saving the day for a few seconds cliche` and not interesting.. and when things were nearing their worst, you get the inspirational story of the little boy Neo saves coming through in the clutch. Come on! Even that actor must’ve thought that was completely lame. The flying around the caves? I got the impression that she was doing something impressive, but it wasn’t all that exciting. It doesn’t rival a well done car chase (or even the motorcycle stuff in #2)… So what’s left to be impressive? The stuff with Neo and the Wizard of Oz? It looked kinda kewl, and I have to say, when Neo entered the Matrix to fight Smith one last time, I was excited. It was like when Yoda shows up to fight Dooku in Ep. 2… Only the resulting fight did nothing for me. They just punched and kicked a lot… and that was it. The fight on the playground was more fun to watch. Oh, now you can fly and punch.. woo. I was disappointed. And the ending was nothing new. The worst part was, I really wanted to like it. There just wasn’t anything for me to latch on to and say “yes, that was amazingly kewl, and redeemed the stuff I didn’t like. I think the fact that the “real world” just didn’t interest me really ruined the movie for me. It was the same with the first movie: Every time they entered the Matrix I was excited, and every time they left, I was disappointed.

[end spoilers]

Andy said: In many ways, #3 reminds me very much of Return of the Jedi (another film critiqued for being a shallow action film). Neither #3 nor Jedi introduce the sorts of mind-bending plot twists that their predecessors did (the true purpose of the One, the Vader-Luke relationship). In both movies, little time is spent further developing characters we already know well. The time for Big Revelations is over. Now it’s time for action, and the movies are all about the heroes finally doing what they’ve been wanting to do throughout the whole trilogy: take down Evil once and for all.

I’m going to have to go ahead and disagree with you there, Bob. First off, I love Jedi, obviously. Jedi had a number of things going for it that I didn’t feel the Matrix #3 had, some personal, some not. First, I thought Jedi did introduce some new things. We learn Leia is Luke’s sister, which I think was a surprise for some (I was too young to really know what was going on back when those movies came out, but I’m sure there must have been at least a few people who thought it was going to be Han as his brother, or something.). Next, we get the Emperor finally becoming a main character, and we realize just how truly kewl he is. We get new ships (A-wings and B-wings anyone? How about a ton of capitol ships to boot?), We get Leia in slave garb (thank you), and we get what I thought was one of the kewlest things about the trilogy: The conflict between Darth Vader and the Emperor. It might have been eluded to in Empire, but in Jedi we get the full story: Vader wants to replace the Emperor, and can do so with Luke’s help. The Emperor wants the more powerful of Luke or Vader, and is kewl with them fighting it out. That’s a worthwhile addition to the storyline, and something that’s become significant in the prequels… I don’t think we knew about that before. You are right, though, I don’t think Matrix #3 introduces us to anything new. The end of #2 we see Neo stopping the machines in the “real world” using his magic powers. You knew from that point on exactly what he’d be doing in #3.

Also, I found the 3 part battle of Endor far more interesting, exciting, and enjoyable to watch than the end of Matrix #3. Jedi’s battles mixed heavy action with impressive visuals, but there was always enough lighthearted stuff to keep it bearable and enjoyable. Also, they jumped from storyline to storyline to keep you in the loop.. you were never stuck trying to reorient yourself, or wondering what’s happening to the other people. In #3, we’re with Neo, then we leave him… and we don’t see him again for like 45 minutes. (i have no idea how long it was, but it was a long, long time.) Considering how important he is the the survival of mankind, shouldn’t we at least check in on him every once in a while. Point to ponder: How many hundreds of people died because Neo and Trinity have to get it on every 3 minutes? We get it, they’re in love. People are dying, Neo.

Another thing that kind of bothered me: In Jedi, if Any one of the 3 parts (Luke, Lando and the Fleet, Han and the ground forces) had failed, the war would be over, and the Rebels would all be dead. In #3, if Neo fails, it’s all over. If Neo wins, it’s all over. Morpheus and those guys could have locked themselves in a box and just waited for it to all be over. Their war didn’t matter.

Andy said: To boil it down, then:

1. Revolutions is supposed to bring closure to the Matrix trilogy, in style.
2. It does.
3. Therefore, it rocks.

I’d say:
1. Revolutions is supposed to bring closure to the Matrix trilogy, in style.
2. #1 already did that. #2 and #3 just kinda mess things up then try to fix them, with varying degrees of success (and entertainment)
3. Therefore, it’s mediocre

I guess I should add that I didn’t hate #2 or #3. Hell, I bought #2, and I’ll buy #3. I just didn’t think they were nearly as good as #1. And #3 was really disappointing to me, because it just didn’t entertain me the way #2 had.

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