The Matrix Unloaded
November 10, 2003 2:05 PM   Subscribe

This guy has hit the nail on the head. I've been marveling at how it was possible to completely screw up the sequels to what I consider the greatest action movie of all time. Matt Feeney has precisely and eloquently pinpointed everything wrong with the Matrix sequels.
posted by aznblader (49 comments total)
 
More appropriately discussed here.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 2:13 PM on November 10, 2003


The Wachowski brothers, moved by some inscrutable nerd-muse, apparently decided that the one glaring flaw of the original Matrix, besides the whole superfluous Matrix thing, was that it didn't feel enough like Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Best. Review. Ever.
posted by elphTeq at 2:22 PM on November 10, 2003


God. I haven't even seen the sequels and I honestly don't care if I ever hear another word about them.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 2:24 PM on November 10, 2003


Fate vs. free will is the oldest, truest topic epics cover. Whether you're talking about the Iliad or Moby Dick. This reviewer's take is "that's boring enough." Sigh.

The reviewer obviously didn't pay attention to the movie if he thinks that the fate vs. free will argument displaced the place of the Matrix system within the series or that neither sequel touched on the fate of those still trapped within. The latter question is answered at the end of Revolutions, and the answer is the debate about fate vs. free will. The reviewer also didn't bother watching the first film before writing this eulogy for it, since the fate. vs free will debate didn't enter the Matrix in Reloaded, but in the Oracle's apartment. It really does all tie together.

Also, anyone who writes about the philosophical underpinnings of The Matrix without using the word "gnostic" should be shot.
posted by jbrjake at 2:28 PM on November 10, 2003


a) find a marginally interesting 3-day-old Slate story that explains how bad a universally-crapped-on bad movie actually is
b) post it on MeFi's front page even if there's a Matrix thread already (posted only 5 days earlier)
c) ?????
d) profit!
posted by matteo at 2:43 PM on November 10, 2003


I said at the very end of the last thread, that this was a good comic book movie, and I could give a fuck about the coherency of the philosophy of a comic book. They get extra credit for waxing philosophical at all. However, I take it back now - one thing a comic book has to do is give some reason, however inane, for why the hero has his/her powers.

I can buy that Neo can do whatever he wants in the Matrix since its just a big computer game that you can hack into god mode, so they don't have to explain that. But they never tell you why he can do things in the real world, like when Neo "head bowed and hand extended in the stance of a Pentecostal faith healer, stops several real-world machines in their tracks." A good comic book movie would have came up with some silly shit, like the machines hacked his DNA with their code so that he could interface with them through his brain waves or he got bit by a radioactive sentinel or something.
posted by badstone at 2:44 PM on November 10, 2003


But they never tell you why he can do things in the real world

He can because he's Smith's balance. Smith has a copy of himself in the 'real world', thus Smith's nemesis/opposite/balance must be granted some form of power in the 'real world' which is somehow capable of zeroing that out. Nothing is created, nothing is destroyed, everything is changed and changing.

One vs. Many. White Architect Order vs. Black Oracle Chaos. One cannot exist without the other, else you wouldn't be able to perceive the existence of either.

This seems to have sailed over a lot of heads. The biggest reaction of people walking out of the 3rd movie was "huh?". Which is more disappointing that any bad movie ever made.
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:53 PM on November 10, 2003


WolfDaddy, the question is, why is the real world governed by the same "balancing equation" as the matrix? It makes some sense that Smith could jump into Bane's body -- Reloaded shows the scene where it happened, and it's, you know, conceivable, as far as those things go. But the fact that Neo is supernatural in the real world is a head-scratcher, since we don't have any reason to believe that the real world has the mandate of balance that the matrix has. After all, the matrix is balanced because the Architect demands it. Who balances the real world? (Of course, since Neo is Christ, the answer is perhaps supposed to be God, but that doesn't get around the fact that the Wachowski are skimping on the story. (Note: link to my own review)

elphTeq: Keanu has a message for you in panel six.
posted by blueshammer at 3:01 PM on November 10, 2003


"A religious parable for 12 year old boys" summed it up pretty well.
posted by sharksandwich at 3:02 PM on November 10, 2003


Hell, I just figured that ther reason Neo can stop the Sentinels is that the "free world" and Zion are just a secondary Matrix, to take up the slack and enslave the 1% humans that "choose" to leave the Matrix.
posted by notsnot at 3:04 PM on November 10, 2003


Actually, Neo can do all that stuff in the 'real' world too because the 'real' reality of Zion and the Sentinels and the Nebuchanezzer isn't real - it's just another version of The Matrix. They're all still trapped inside the Matrix.

Do you honestly think that the machines would allow humans to escape from the battery thingy by just realizing they're trapped? Suddenly they think "oh gee I'm in a virtual reality where's the off switch?" And whammo they're outside. NOT. The battery pods probably don't even look like anything remotely like that. Humans probably can't be physically removed from the devices without dying. When The Architect said this had happened six times before? Each time those who survived the discovery that they were trapped (those that hadn't made themselves utterly useless and therefore reconfigured into Agents) were put through a program where they're given the illusion of escape into a new matrix design, more difficult and 'real' and less appealing than the one before it.

Of course y'all won't believe me until the Wachowski brothers make the prequels. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 3:06 PM on November 10, 2003


blueshammer: you'll note I put the phrase 'real world' in quotes.

ZachsMind: there won't be any prequels like that (other than what you've already seen in the better-by-far-than-any-of-the-live-action-films-The-Animatrix) because then Grant Morrisson would sue the shit out of the Wachowski bros, and probably the Warner Brothers too. ;-)
posted by WolfDaddy at 3:20 PM on November 10, 2003


Also, anyone who writes about the philosophical underpinnings of The Matrix without using the word "gnostic" should be shot.

Amen, brother.

I had originally started a multi-paragraph screed defending the Matrix: Revolutions, but decided instead to link to what is probably the best analysis of the series. It'll probably take an hour to get through it all, but the attention to details is astounding. Check out: Episode 81.

But the fact that Neo is supernatural in the real world is a head-scratcher, since we don't have any reason to believe that the real world has the mandate of balance that the matrix has

A few questions to ask yourself (addressed in the above link better than I can):
1. How did a small band of people create all of Zion?
2. Why would the machines, if they had so much power, allow Zion to exist, or be built, in the first place?
3. How could Neo control the "real" world just like the Matrix?
4. Why doesn't anyone in Zion know the history of the place, or how all the machines that keep it running actually work?

Answer: The "reality" of Zion is just another aspect of the same "Matrix".
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:36 PM on November 10, 2003


...what I consider the greatest action movie of all time

Really? I guess as an action movie it was ok but I still prefer John Woo's Hong kong stuff like Hard-boiled. As a thinking mans film its allegories are too obvious to inspire contemplation.

As a sci-fi film, well, I was dissapointed in it, thinking that if our world really was a Matrix, how much cooler would it be if for "real" we were some sort of strange aliens inhabiting a different kind of universe, or all pieces of a large unified mind that had been fragmented into smaller pieces etc..

That is the sense in which David Denby was absolutely right in saying that the movie rested on a host of "clichéd science-fiction elements," in that "[i]n sci-fi, the machines are always taking over."

There is a list of films/books others seem to consistently care about/want to overanalyze more than is justified considering how much great films/literature is out in the world:

- The Matrix
- The Lord of the Rings
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
- Any Monty Python movie/skit

These were all good, sure. Honestly, I feel like I'm missing some gene that most others here have.
posted by vacapinta at 3:40 PM on November 10, 2003


Self-link Matrix review. Too long to copy/paste here, but that's my opinion on the whole damn mess.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:46 PM on November 10, 2003


Neo can stop the sentinels outside the Matrix because he became connected to the machines' "source"; that's why he knew that the machines were going to throw the bomb, etc.
posted by Spacelegoman at 3:49 PM on November 10, 2003


The sequels are reloaded suckage. The original wasn't all that good either if you think enough about it.
posted by hama7 at 3:50 PM on November 10, 2003


Would someone please make a FPP linking to Ebert's review of Revolutions? Because I haven't read it yet.
posted by DakotaPaul at 4:10 PM on November 10, 2003


that's why he knew that the machines were going to throw the bomb

I think you mean, "that's why he knew that the machines were going to set up us the bomb."
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:25 PM on November 10, 2003


threads like this amply demonstrate the extent to which most americans are converted to unthinking sheep-like beings by the effects of pretty lights flashing on a screen. you really all appear quite ridiculous. jack valenti ♥'s you, each and every one!
posted by quonsar at 4:26 PM on November 10, 2003


Of course Quonsar would be the arbiter of ridiculousness :)
posted by elphTeq at 4:46 PM on November 10, 2003


i have a keen eye for it :-)
and that's an uncapitalized 'q', fyi
posted by quonsar at 5:07 PM on November 10, 2003


Jack Valenti doesn't make movies; he runs a trade association. Not going to see a movie you're interested in because of something the head of the MPAA has said is cutting off your nose to spite your face. "I'm going to punish the movie studios by... um... depriving myself!"
posted by kindall at 5:09 PM on November 10, 2003


threads like this amply...

you can unclench every once in a while, it's really not that bad. :)

FWIW, I probably see as many art films as I see Hollywood movies, and neither is any less valuable for it. fun fluff is actually just that - fun and fluffy, it's not going to pickle your brain. if you want, you can wear your tinfoil hat just to be safe.
posted by badstone at 5:10 PM on November 10, 2003


Wow, you kids need to get out and see the grown up movies more often... If you actually chose to go see the ninety-eleventh episode of "The Matrix" instead of going to see, say, Gus Van Sant's Elephant or Sophia Coppola's Lost in Translation, you should be ashamed of yourselves...
posted by JollyWanker at 7:24 PM on November 10, 2003


I can't get past " the greatest action movie of all time" assertion either...

But I'll just quietly cradle my 5-star edition of "Die Hard" and keep my "Yippee kai yay"s to myself.
posted by John Smallberries at 7:25 PM on November 10, 2003


Not going to see a movie you're interested in because of something the head of the MPAA has said is cutting off your nose to spite your face. "I'm going to punish the movie studios by... um... depriving myself!"

Well, that's why we have Kazaa Lite.
posted by gd779 at 7:28 PM on November 10, 2003


Oh, I don't know, I think the first Matrix is one of the best action movies ever, alongside Die Hard, Raiders, and Aliens. They're all very tight. I'll admit I'm not super schooled in Hong Kong cinema though. I enjoy the Matrix more as a wily cross-section of '90's pop culture than anything else.

Lost in Translation? A little overrated. Too long. (Sophia Coppola is really good at nailing one mood in a movie. Therefore her movies should be short.) The acting is good. There's a point in the movie where heavier stuff should happen to Bill Murray's character, but doesn't. Good for a quiet Friday night when you're alone, a little sad, and have nothing to do. That's about it.
posted by furiousthought at 7:56 PM on November 10, 2003


Hey q, may I respectfully ask, based on your comments here and in the other matrix thread, don't you ever go to the movies? Ever?
posted by Lynsey at 8:06 PM on November 10, 2003


"I'm going to punish the movie studios by... um... depriving myself!"

that's the stupidest thing i have EVER read on mefi. but it throws some light on things kindall - apparently you fear standing up and saying no to the schoolyard bully would "deprive" you of his persistent beatings. i find that interesting.
posted by quonsar at 8:46 PM on November 10, 2003


Based on quonsar's comments, it should be obvious he's Jack Valenti AND Hilary Rosen.
posted by WolfDaddy at 8:50 PM on November 10, 2003


based on your comments here and in the other matrix thread, don't you ever go to the movies?

last time i went was the opening of independence day. that was a bit before the crusade to shit all over thier own customers was quite in full swing. i don't have a lot of interest in movies - shining lights on a screen is a very old tech - and i pretty much got my fill as a kid watching the disney classics. nowadays i would not go for anything. i refuse to give money to the bastards.
posted by quonsar at 8:55 PM on November 10, 2003


i don't understand why you're so hung up on the technology, q. books are just ink dots on dead trees. metafilter is only shiny lights on a screen, too, and you spend quite a bit of time here. if you haven't seen a film since independence day, you're really missing out. and why do you act as if all movies were made by the same people? they're not.
posted by muckster at 10:02 PM on November 10, 2003


My view is that this movie can be very fun if you view it as every equation has a balance, otherwise there are faults...

MatrixRevolutionIsFun::MatrixRevolutionIsFun()
{

}

MatrixRevolutionIsFun::~MatrixRevolutionIsFun()
{

}
posted by bmxGirl at 10:12 PM on November 10, 2003


why you're so hung up on the technology

oh, i'm not really, muckster, i just liked the mental imagery of normally intelligent people mesmerized by flashing lights. :-)

you're really missing out.

yes. let me count the ways.
i'm deprived of chemical slathered popcorn sold at per ounce prices that put beefsteak to shame.
i'm deprived of uncomfortable seating in a minimalist, cinderblock pen where the distorted, excessively loud, bass-boosted audio has to compete with the boopings, chirpings and custom designed doo-woping of cellphones, the bleating of children and the inevitable geek behind me who, having memorized every line has now taken to reciting them 1/10th of a second before the character on screen does. :-) i love my books, thanks.
posted by quonsar at 11:11 PM on November 10, 2003


and yes, i realize none of that is hollywood's doing. still, i really don't feel like i'm missing anything important in life. and i love not giving my money to them.
posted by quonsar at 11:13 PM on November 10, 2003


quonsar, repeat after me: Kazaa, Kazaa, Kazaa.

You can watch movies in the comfort of your own home, in soft chairs or sofas or beds, with the lights completely out (no EXIT signs!), with the volume tweaked to your enjoyment, and now with the benefit of PAUSE for bathroom breaks, with cell phones on mute, children properly restrained or eliminated altogether, and geeks barred entry into your castle, with a standing house rule of severe beatings to anyone who interrupts the movie with inane banter.

Plus, you can accomplish two things at once: watch the movies you want, and do something that would make the MPAA furious. Let's see you try that with your fancy books!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:14 AM on November 11, 2003


apparently you fear standing up and saying no to the schoolyard bully would "deprive" you of his persistent beatings. i find that interesting.

Yeah, movies are JUST LIKE BEING BEATEN UP. Exactly. You've really nailed it.

that's the stupidest thing i have EVER read on mefi.

I find that interesting.
posted by kindall at 12:30 AM on November 11, 2003


Internet killed the sequel.

Not just that one, but most all big movie sequels.

I think most any sequel to any movie phenomenon is destined to fail -- and it has nothing to do with the nature of sequels being somehow intrinsically "inferior" (a silly notion; 3/4 of the Greek opus were sequels, as were many of Shakepseare's best plays).

When a movie is so popular that there are UseNet groups, fansites, mailing lists, etc. are built around it, it can never live up to fan expectations. These people grab every story line and compete with each other to imagine the best resolution; they often come up with very clever twists (hell, I've seen a fan script that was surprisingly passable), they examine the characters deeper than the actors themselves and invest a whole lot of time speculating. No matter what the filmmaker does, he'll ignore a key character, not pick up on a popular meme, and (generally) not live up to the collective imagination of its rabid fanbase.
posted by RavinDave at 2:36 AM on November 11, 2003


There was no way that either of the Matrix followups was going to be well-received. As soon as the first film became so successful, its successors were doomed. Thousands of reviewers and haters and bloggers all went to the opening of "Reloaded" and "Revolutions" already composing their negative reviews, just looking for some details from the actual movie to stir into the mix.

I loved both sequels. Unapologetically. I loved "Independence Day" and I loved the Sci-Fi "Dune" miniseries and I loved "Pitch Black" and a hundred other movies that it's cool to hate. I don't love them out a desire to be contrary - I love them because they entertained me.

There's a certain segment of our culture that doesn't want to be entertained - they want to complain about entertainment. That's their perogative. If it gets them off, then more power to them. However, as much as any given film might suck, elitist movier-than-thou reviews suck worse, and a fine way to appear pompous is to crap all over simply simply because a lot of other people enjoy it.
posted by DWRoelands at 3:07 AM on November 11, 2003


"and a fine way to appear pompous is to crap all over simply simply because a lot of other people enjoy it".

too bad that half of the people who went to see Reloaded stayed home this time. are they pompous elitists, too? and they weren't a few months ago when they went to see Reloaded? or simply, the fact is just that Reloaded was much better than the lame, boring, cliche-ridden Revolutions?
posted by matteo at 4:09 AM on November 11, 2003


The linked review did not help me understand the disappointing descent into Hollywood schmaltz that has been the Matrix series.
The cheesy one-liners (ostensibly from Link) in the second film were harbingers of further 'dumbing down' of the films image. The final film is being advertised as an action/war film.
I disagree with your argument, DWRoelands, I think people dislike the output of Hollywood because generally it is aiming at the lowest common denominator and lower in an attempt to guarantee revenue. Given that there are already plenty of stupid films which don't make me think about myself/the world, I don't feel a compunction to see any more. It is a waste of my time and their resources.
I want to be entertained, it is sadly the case that Hollywood does not want to entertain me.

If I want a no-brainer I'll go see Jackass again, or Dirty Sanchez.

I am happy not seeing the Matrix: Revolutions film at the cinema, I would rather prefer to imagine the film it could have been. Warner Bros. have transported me from fan boy to wheatver in three easy steps.

e.g: Robots lost war/Morpheus, Neo etc. are software or robots/The Matrix is a way of controlling robots who want to have free will/01 is Zion/The black sky only covers 01, the rest of the planet is living happily ever after/The End.
posted by asok at 5:03 AM on November 11, 2003


The film it could have been?
posted by teradome at 7:21 AM on November 11, 2003


DWRoelands: There's a certain segment of our culture that doesn't want to be entertained - they want to complain about entertainment.

Yeah - well you're missing something very important - the sequels to the matrix - they did suck. I went to the first (Reloaded) expecting to be entertained, and I was. I saw it twice, actually. I went to Revolutions with high hopes and the expectation of being entertained even if it didn't meet the standards of the original matrix - and was let down.

Revolutions wasn't the worst movie I've ever seen (or even recently seen), but it wasn't a good movie. It's a sci-fi movie written by people with a limited grasp of technology - which leads to plot whole you drive a "hovercraft" through - because the tech doesn't make any sense. The movie could have greatly benefitted from having a 12 year old boy on staff who could point to things and say "dude, that's like totally unrealistic".

And I am NOT talking about the matrix/battery thing - I am willing to overlook the massively bad science that is the primary plot device for purposes of being entertained in an allegorical fashion. I'm talking about the poor explanation of Neo's powers. I'm talking about the EMPs. Don't even get me started on how mind bogglingly stupid their "defense" of Zion was.

It was a fun movie and it looks cool but, unlike the first, it massively underestimates and insults our intelligence by being both inconsistent and overbearing.
posted by jaded at 8:27 AM on November 11, 2003


Yeah, movies are JUST LIKE BEING BEATEN UP. Exactly. You've really nailed it.

precisely. and if you don't understand that, you are either subnormal, or simply not paying attention. you pay money for entertainment, that money is used to undermine your rights as a purchaser/owner of said entertainment. soon, just like software, entertainment will be owned by nobody but the distributors. you'll rent it only, under severe restriction as to what you can do with it. there will be no choice involved. your movie money is being used to underwrite an entirely new computing platform, perhaps you've heard of it? one that decides what YOU can do with IT. the money is being used to lure consumer-electronics manufacturers into the fold - you can't pause the media because there is no pause control, thank god the good folks at sony understood the evil promise of the pause function. i could go on and on, you can't possibly be as stupid or ignorant as you pretend to be here. i hope.
posted by quonsar at 11:23 AM on November 11, 2003


I liked Reloaded, but not so much Revolutions. Funny thing is, I liked Reloaded for exactly the same reasons Feeny didn't like it. Having brought up the reality/illusion philosophical issue in the first movie, it moved on to free will/determinism in the second (yes, this was also brought up in The Matrix but was more central to Reloaded). I get the impression that a lot of people didn't like Reloaded because they wanted more of reality/illusion, but it's fine with me that the focus was changed--otherwise, it would have been just a rehash of The Matrix. Revolutions, on the other hand, didn't have any philosophical issue that was used like reality/illusion was in The Matrix, or free will/determinism was in Reloaded.

last time i went was the opening of independence day.

I can see how that would put one off of going to movies.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:11 PM on November 11, 2003


Here's a proposal. You've heard of the webpage Jump The Shark? Where people can write *exactly* where a TV show "went wrong".

Somebody should create a movie webpage for people to vote on *what exact thing* (or things) suddenly ruined an otherwise good movie.

Voting Example: "Flash Gordon"

1) The dumbass 'football game' played in Ming's court.

2) Dr Zarkov's 'Briss' flashback, with music, while under the brain drain machine, along with the *obligatory* picture of Adolf Hitler making a speech.

Second Example: "Poltergeist II"

1) Gratuitous tequila-worm fu.

2) Just when they defeat the bad ghost, they see a damn angel, *just like* in the scene that ruined Disney's "The Black Hole".

There are some real possibilities here.
posted by kablam at 3:51 PM on November 11, 2003


Kablam -- No way did Flash Gordon ever jump the shark. The football scene was near the beginning of the movie, after all! If you discount everything that came afterwords, you're also denying some saucy scenesof Princess Aura (Ornella Muti).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:40 PM on November 11, 2003


DevilsAdvocate, how about faith/unbelief?

Revolutions is the only movie of the trilogy where Neo and others with him operate purely on belief without the Oracle having given them some sort of outline. I mean, at the very start of the movie, there's only three people left who believe in him (four, if you count the chancellor).
posted by teradome at 6:13 AM on November 12, 2003


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