Matrix Reloaded, The

Reviewed By Hawkboy
Posted 05/17/03 01:53:13

"God, what a disappointment."
2 stars (Pretty Bad)

Maybe I set my standards too high, maybe I was expecting too much. But I don’t remember being this disappointed when “Phantom Menace” bit the wax tadpole, and I was much more impressionable and emotional back then. Boring, badly edited, and altogether stinky.

Note: Mild spoilers in the review ahead.

Quick impression of every single conversation in “Matrix: Reloaded”:

Neo: Why am I here?

Other Person: The question is not why you are here, but why you are not there.

Neo: But is my being not there my choice, or is my being here a manifestation of a deeper desire?

Other Person: What is desire, but a mental verification of one’s innermost feelings?

Neo: But are feelings choices?

Everyone in the audience: Will somebody please KICK SOMEONE or fly or something?

Was the original “Matrix” this boring and convoluted? I don’t remember. I hope not. This movie felt about 50 hours long and was all about people talking, talking, talking. About NOTHING. It was like two pothead philosophy majors wrote the screenplay based on a tape recording they made of a conversation they had at 2 in the morning, baked off their trees. And where was the action? There were two, maybe three decent fight scenes which, sadly, held no interest for me whatsoever in the end because:

a) You know Keanu Reeves can fly and is going to win, because he sees everything in code and whatnot.
b) It looks like it was shot on my Playstation 2.

The fight between Neo and the 100 agents was neat in concept, but some of the computer work was so bad, I half-expected Ryu and/or Princess Toadstool to start wailing on Neo. At the end of the scene, some audience members applauded, which kinda baffled me, because this wasn’t actual people fighting – they were cheering a computer program, which had managed to run without a glitch. It was like cheering a really good scene from “Grand Theft Auto”. This isn’t a jab at computer animation, mind you – I’m as big a fan of the Pixar team and computer animation in general as anyone, but it seems kind of silly to be focusing so much on machine-made filmmaking in a movie that is about battling against machines.

The only scene that really wowed me was the highway battle, just because it was something we really hadn’t seen before. Every kung-fu battle felt pointless, as we already knew the outcome. He’s Neo! He’s the one! Each one really seems the same, and the excitement is gone.

There was so much wasted potential in this movie. What, pray tell, was the point of the French couple? We waste 20 minutes watching them be snooty and talk about cake and kissing and stuff, and in the end, they just disappear. (Don’t give me the line that this is all setup for the sequel. I’m not going to watch the sequel for 6 months – I don’t care what’s happening in THAT one right now. I’m watching THIS one.)

In the first one, there were 10 characters, we knew them all, and we cared about them all and understood their motives. Here, there’s about 50 characters, everybody’s yelling at each other, and the audience is just waiting for someone to duck a bullet. Characters like Niobi (Jada Pinkett Smith) and the albino rasta twins are the biggest examples of interesting characters that fall by the wayside.

The first film was rather complex, but at the end of the day, it was fairly simple to explain: Matrix bad, Keanu good, let’s punch each other in the head. What set it apart was a sense of wonder – these characters were capable of anything. In the sequel, despite being more aware of their powers within the Matrix, they seem more hesitant to do anything really crazy. As the series got bigger, their imagination when it came to the characters got a lot smaller. Maybe the Wachowski brothers were so focused on building up the city of Zion and expanding the Matrix universe that the characters took a back seat to choreographing the rave scene.

In the end, I’ll cherish certain moments from this movie: The final performance of Gloria Foster as the Oracle, full of charm and good humor. The gift Neo receives from the orphan as he leaves for battle. Hugo Weaving’s performance (performances?) as Agent Smith. But overall, it’s too much scenery, too many characters, too much pseudo-philosophy, not enough to hold my interest.

I'll reserve judgement on the series overall until I see the final chapter, but this is a big step backwards.

© Copyright HBS Entertainment, Inc.