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“The Matrix Revolutions” – A Review

Consider three things before delving into this review. First, when The Matrix was released, the flick defied convention by skewing our former acuity. From Charlie’s Angels to the Underworld, from Scooby-Doo to Daredevil, from the Super Bowl to Buffy, our perception of reality, our acceptance of alternative angles and perspectives, and our expectations concerning production values and the action film genre in particular were forever changed. Admit it—you’ll never see things quite the same way ever again.

Second, The Matrix defied logic. I’m not talking about the fact that just two minutes into the film this girl named Trinity jumped up in air looking like Daniel-san on acid getting ready for the big tourney and just hung there while the camera panned around her motionless form in a 180-degree semi-circle. Granted, that was illogical and it didn’t make any sense until Neo found out just how deep the rabbit hole went in the second act, but I’m talking about reality here—not the world that the Wachowski Brothers pulled over our eyes, but rather the very real way they made some huge bank in so doing. The Matrix franchise has garnered over $2 billion (that billion with a capital “B”, pun intended.) Normally a film makes most of its change on opening weekend. After that, the grosses drop dramatically. But every once in a while, there comes the exception. My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a perfect example of a film with “legs.” The fact of the matter is that this movie buff didn’t even see The Matrix until it had been in theaters for over three months. It came on the scene without much fanfare but managed to hang around until I started dating a girl who happened to think Keanu looked cute in black. By then it was a toss up as to who had the better legs—my date, or The Matrix.

Third, The Matrix and DVD share a common bond. I was one of the first kids on the block to buy a DVD player. (I had a good job and I was single at the time because the aforementioned girl dumped me. What else is a boy to do but be the first to own a complete home theatre system?) Back then you could hardly find a place to buy DVDs much less rent them. And ouch! Were they ever expensive! I had my new DVD player tucked under one arm as I searched through about a hundred titles (all they had at the time) when I came across The Matrix. It was a new release and consequently had a lower price. I snagged it then and there because it was the only one I could afford. A couple of months later I realized that DVD and The Matrix formed the perfect marriage. VHS could never have captured the sound, look, and scope of this film, not in a million years. The Matrix needed DVD, but DVD also needed The Matrix. A strange phenomenon ensued over the next two years as VHS slowly went the way of the dinosaur. Stores were giving away copies of The Matrix free with the purchase of any DVD player. Even if you missed out on that offer The Matrix was still just about the cheapest DVD available. It remains to this day the prefect disc for testing any home theatre. Every time I upgrade my stereo, or buy a new DVD player, or move to a new home—I jack into The Matrix, right after Neo says, “I need guns. Lots of guns,” and give it a listen. Once the falling shell casings give off the desired pings, I know I’m in business and I assure you that I am not alone in practicing this ritual.

Please consider for a moment what these three things did to our expectations in the years that followed. The only way to truly wow us again would have been the creation of a NEW MATRIX. Too bad, because according to The Architect, we were stuck inside version 6.0. Maybe they could have thrown us the proverbial curve ball and made Zion nothing more than a Matrix within a Matrix… or a Matrix within a Matrix within a Matrix—now that would have been something, right? Come on! Weren’t you confused enough for the past five months?

There was absolutely no way Reloaded was going to walk away at the box office again because everybody was more than ready to see it opening weekend. The novelty had worn off. No more shock-and-awe to bring in the repeat customer (like that girl who thought Keanu just looked so cute—she watched it with two other guys before I came along. I should have known that relationship was doomed.) For the record, as of last week Reloaded was still playing on about twenty screens. Admittedly, those ain’t exactly Tina Turner-kind-of-legs, but they are long and shapely nonetheless.

So you were disappointed with Reloaded? Well, now you know why. The Matrix itself elevated expectations to the extreme. Now, if you were simply disappointed because you were confused… if you didn’t happen to major in computer science or philosophy… if you didn’t get your doctorate in Gnosticism or Theology… then you might just want to go on down to the theater and fork over the price of admission for you and your favorite date to catch this one on the big screen before it is too late.

I do confess that Reloaded left me thoroughly confused. I consulted my computer geek pals and their explanations didn’t help a bit. I turned to my fellow ministers and about all we could agree on was the fact that it had something to do with control, choice, and predestination. I rented The Animatrix and while I can now tell you all about the war that led to the creation of The Matrix and about where that annoying teen who follows Neo around in Zion came from, it did nothing to help my understanding of Reloaded. I conquered the video game, but that only filled in some gaps. I bought the DVD and finally—after watching it five times, things started to make sense—but I still had so many questions. Wife was not pleased.

Last weekend, the trilogy came to a close. In so doing, all my questions were answered and more. No longer can there be any debate on the source of this material—Neo’s story is indeed a take on the story of Jesus Christ (but then again, so was E.T.) and the conclusion was well worth the wait. For those of us pretentious enough and presumptuous enough to wax intellectual about the subject, the climatic scenes will provide some vindication.

Beyond aspects of salvation, the Wachowski brothers deliver as well. The pacing of this film is far superior to Reloaded. In Reloaded we were given twenty-minute-long action sequences followed by twenty-minute talking heads. The balance is much better in Revolutions. By the time Neo reaches his destination, the audience has had more than its share of awe; it has laughed more than a few times and probably shed a few tears too. Whereas Reloaded was void of humor and emotion, driven by action, Revolutions uses action to return to emotion. Especially as concerns those three that remain—faith, hope, and love. But, as we know, the greatest of these is love and on this subject I will say no more.

Hugo Weaving is so wonderful as the evil Agent Smith. So much so, I’ve come to rank Agent Smith right up there with Darth Vadar and Hanibal Lector as the greatest villains of all time. The man laughs and it can’t go without saying, “Yeah, that’s Satan incarnate all right.” I was particularly impressed with The Oracle’s new shell, played by Mary Alice who stepped in admirably for the dearly departed Gloria Foster. The same can be said of Ian Bliss playing a character named Bane who just happens to be possessed by Agent Smith (or in the least one of his ever increasing minions). He eerily mimics Smith’s facial expressions and mannerisms so well it is just down right creepy. Obviously these two did their homework. Lawrence Fishburne was so stoic in Reloaded his acting looked stale, but in hindsight it now seems appropriate. In Reloaded he is confident and arrogant, but in Revolutions he is a man struggling to regain his faith. His character might have been a representation of John the Baptist in the first film, but in the second and third installments, he is likened more unto Peter. And Keanu? Well, he is The One. (Won’t that girl be happy I said that?)

Obviously no detail is too small for the Wachowski’s and no stone gets left unturned. (After all, they did spend two months designing water sprinklers capable of producing “the perfect raindrop.”) The story is wonderful and uplifting, the performances clean, the sound impeccable and the effects stunning. We have come to expect no less from The Matrix, and maybe that’s the problem. We just expected way too much. The way the general public reacted to Reloaded kind of reminds me of the reaction Star Wars Episode I. No wait… maybe not. Episode I did introduce us to Jar-Jar Binks. Okay, so we had every right to be disappointed about that one, but Jada Pinkett-Smith is no Jar-Jar Binks.

I’ll give Reloaded the mediocre rating of RENTAL. As for Revolutions, it’s a tough call but I’ll go ahead and give it all I have to offer—HOT DATE.

There is a scattering of some profanity in the movie and one questionable scene that takes place inside what appears to be an underground S&M club. As with the first two films, most of the violence is cartoon-like, but a couple of the deaths are mildly gruesome and quite bloody in this one. As rated R films go, this one is relatively mild.

As for the content…

Revolutions

There is a scattering of some profanity in the movie and one questionable scene that takes place inside what appears to be an underground S&M club. As with the first two films, most of the violence is cartoon-like, but a couple of the deaths are mildly gruesome and quite bloody in this one. As R-rated films go, this one is relatively mild.

The Animatrix

Some of this is hardcore Japanamation and I wouldn’t recommend it to mainstream Christian audiences. Most of the segments are violent and some are gory. However, a couple of them are thought provoking. Certainly not for children.

Reloaded

More profanity than the 1st and 3rd installments combined. There is one ten-minute sexual scene with both partial and full nudity in a series of rapid cuts. It also contains a great deal of sensuality. Cartoon-like violence.

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