I have a choice: the blue pill or the red pill? Should I sing praises for The Matrix Reloaded
or should I drag it through the dirt? I'm not sure.
What I do know is that I'd long been looking forward to this film. Since I saw The Matrix
--a little later than most--I've been anxious to see where they'd go next. Last night, I saw where they went, and I must say, I was left scratching my head. I wanted to leave the theatre saying "Wow!" but could only muster a "Hmph."
This film did have a lot of things going for it. Most of the action scenes, in and of themselves, were amazing. Somewhere under there, there's a beautiful story trying to be revealed. But something about this film is holding everything else back. Perhaps it should be called Matrix: Restrained
Going into this film, I'd said the greatness of this film depended all on the story. There's no question there'd be amazing, tremendous action, but in order for this film to be a winner in my book, the Wachowski brothers would have to expand the plot from the first film, and do it well. As it turns out, it's a half-success. Reloaded
explains the reason for things to exist: the oracle, the agents, Neo himself. It deals with questions of destiny, fate, and choice. But... It does so with such little grace. Perhaps it's dialogue, or editing, or an inconsistent plot, but the trinkets of wisdom in this film are simply thrust upon the audience. There's little time to digest. Sometimes it's hard to realize that a revelatory conversation is coming until it's already half-spoken.
Then there are the missed opportunities. Some of the early scenes of Zion promise for some great insight, and some mighty religious allusion. But those hopes are cut short for a rather pointless rave party scene. One of the new characters, Link, is set up as a sympathetic character only to be reduced to the token black guy, commentating in awe of Neo's accomplishments.
Editing is a bit of a problem too... Some scenes play considerably longer than I'd hope them to, making some otherwise sweet scenes into opportunities to run to the concession stand.
Having said all that, I still think there's something there. I will give this film another chance, and maybe I'll walk away with more insight the second time. But as of first viewing, sorry... It went right past me.
Ah, but this is The Matrix
! I'm probably in a minority that I liked the first film as much for it's story as for its special effects. What could compete with bullet time, pulse waves, and kung-fu action?
The freeway scene is, hands down, the best scene in the film. So many things are happening in this scene, and the freeway itself is filmed as such a dynamic environment... The overpasses, the offramps, the traffic are all characters in this scene in a way, and they play together beautifully. More of the best eye-candy come from the Milli Vanilli twins--hey, I don't know who they are--and the final scenes where Neo... well, see for yourself. ;)
Unfortunately, a lot of the same action that made Matrix
revolutionary makes Reloaded
rather stale. I can only see Neo throw beatings so many times to so many agents--although Hugo Weaving's return as Smith is enjoyable.
One of the dominant images in this movie is a hall of doors, "backdoors", portals through the Matrix. It's a fitting metaphor, because the film leaves me with many questions but few answers. Many doors yet to be opened. I suppose that's why I can't sing its praises. I'll reserve my judgement for Revolutions
to see how this all plays out.
But don't be fooled... The action alone is worth seeing this film on the big screen. Of course, no doubt the DVD will be amazing as well, since the first film set the standard for bonus features. So you, too, have a choice. See it now, see it later, both, or not at all. It's really up to you.