Sci - Fi
The Matrix Reloaded
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Dir: Andy & Larry Wachowski
Star: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Laurence Fishburne
Cert / Year: 15 - R / 2003
Format: DVD R2
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Set 6 months after the events of The Matrix, Neo (Keanu Reeves) and the leaders of the human resistance discover that hundreds of thousands of "Sentinels" are burrowing their way towards the last vestige of humanity..... Zion. Estimating they have perhaps just 72 hours until an all-out assault on their home, Neo must return to the Matrix in order to find "The Keymaker" who can gain access to the mainframe to ensure human survival...

I know what you're thinking... "At last, the sequel to The Matrix is here". And you would be right, the sequel is indeed here, or perhaps we should just say that half of the sequel is here. The film does a Back to the Future on the viewer and just as the film starts getting somewhere a legend appears on screen stating To be concluded. The "cliffhanger" ending resolves nothing and leaves you feeling downright cheated, and perhaps a little annoyed. Primarily because, you endured the 2 hour plus run time with no real pay off. When you see To be concluded appear, you want to throw something at the screen in frustration. The filmmakers could have tied the film up better than this. This ending is just an exercise in marketing. The studio knows that the viewers that see this film will want to see it resolved (probably) so they are guaranteed "bums on seats" and ticket sales. I don't think the way the film is going is particularly good and I will need a better reason to see the next film than showy effect scenes and a mere thirst to have the "tense and gripping cliffhanger" resolved. We've seen this malarkey before, and will probably see it again but that doesn't mean we have to like it or support it. The Wachowski brothers have either dropped the ball and lost their way or they have sold out, either way it is not particularly good for the audience. Yes, yes, yes Matrix Reloaded is quite a spectacle visually. But, throwing an obscene amount of money into a project and cramming in copious amounts of special effects and computer graphics does not unfortunately mean that this is a good film. Matrix Reloaded suffers from the same affliction that Attack of the Clones had, although in this case it is more prominent. The problem is that the film has a dull clarity to it, as if you are looking through a dirty window. This is of course due to the fact that the film been "made" in a computer and this residual hue is a by product of over reliance in CGI. At least in the original Matrix, there was a visual crispness to the film and the CGI didn't have such a big role to play, which rightly used the CGI in small amounts to enhance the film. Now, the Wachowski brothers have gone ballistic and made the entire thing on a PC by the looks of it, and the overbearing CGI frenzy is inescapable. This does reduce your enjoyment somewhat as the film doesn't have that same innovative and clean feel of its predecessor. Don't get me wrong, the special effects are awesome, with plenty of fantastic visual set pieces, but now these set pieces are the film and no longer a part of it. There is plenty of "wow factor" and some fantastically designed visuals, but the film is no longer a groundbreaking and inspired fusion of styles as to be honest, it out-Matrixes itself.

The story, what there now is of it, gets terribly in the way of the action scenes, (of which there is one every 5 minutes or so) which now appear to be the purpose of the film. It is irrelevant whether the action comes thick and fast or not, when the film seems to be little more than a series of action and CGI shots strung tenuously together. You may as well have called the film "Bullet-Time reloaded". The plot premise was quite good and on occasion the film even returns to it. "The architect" is a good concept but falls short and is unproductive here, as is his protracted and monotonous dialogue, which is really nothing more than a rambling "idiots guide" for lesser-minded viewers who may have missed some of the blatant and hideously telegraphed plot points. If you insist on seeing this film then the key to the plot is not to think about it, as it has some rather large holes in it. The ending doesn't come as a surprise at all; in fact you see it coming a mile off as the film lays out some clumsy and heavy plot points so obviously that a blind troglodyte could follow them. A major continuity error which everyone is going to notice of course, is that in the first film, everyone who was liberated from the Matrix itself had all those pesky metal implants removed from their bodies. Except of course for the brain interface, but in this film everyone now has them again. Hmmmm, it looks like the Wachowski brothers seem to have forgotten what they did in the first film. That is one of the more glaring of the many silly little mistakes and goofs throughout the film.

Matrix Reloaded is a film where you almost regret making "the choice" (see film for hideous plot point) to see it. It lacks ANY substance and is basically all flash and no bang. Predictable, pretentious, nicely directed but ultimately an over indulgent affair. Don't expect too much from the story, there isn't one, this is just special effects gone mad. Some of the dialogue rambles off here and there and you are left thinking that it is a pile of toss, especially the verbal diarrhoea that the Oracle comes out with, and the less said about Merovingian the character with the comedy French accent the better. The subtle way of shoe horning in the legends of vampires and werewolves was interesting and quite clever really, but did we really need to see them at the drop of a hat? This was yet another excuse for cramming in some more CGI into a package, which quite frankly is straining to contain them all as it is.

There are some good performances by the major players. Keanu Reeves seems larger than life this time out, be provides a good performance as the hero even if quite a bit of his performance is CGI and CGI enhanced. Carrie-Anne Moss, seems to have gotten a little lazy in her role, and kind of sleepwalks through her performance, even if she is shinier than last time (wink, wink). Unfortunately though, there is a boring and pointless bonking scene between her and Reeves, which no matter how nicely and tastefully shot, the one thing the film didn't need was that. If that wasn't bad enough, the whole bump and grind affair is framed by a lurid and bizarre ethnic, jungle dance / orgy number with large numbers of sweaty, scantily and transparently clothed individuals stomping in the mud, intercut with the "Neo nookie". No matter now nicely it is filmed, this is yet another pointless piece of film-making. I'm afraid, the film didn't need it and I thought that this was above that sort of cliché, but evidently not. Laurence Fishburne does another good job as the enigmatic Morpheus but he, like everyone else, is now playing second fiddle to Neo. The sexy Monica Bellucci turns up as Persephone a typical, slinky foreign lovely in a partially see through rubber dress. Not a bad performance, but you do want to see more of her even if she is partnered here with the comedy Frenchman who is quite dreadful. The less said about the whole slice of orgasm gateaux scene the better I think, as that was a bit sleazy, pointless and had nothing to do with the story. The "ghosts" are deadpan and underplayed by British television handy twins Adrian and Neil Rayment but they do work quite well.

This messy frenetic barrage of effects and fight scenes, is rather overwhelming and at times, too much. Over the top and nonsensical, this demeans most of the outstanding work afforded by The Matrix and becomes a chore for the viewer. The majority of the fight choreography here obviously wasn't done by Hong Kong cinema master Yuen Woo-Ping, who was of course responsible for the outstanding kung fu and wirework of The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. There just seems to be a lack of control, skill and focus in the fight scenes. Some are very well done but a majority of them look completely false and totally staged, and that is not even including the completely CGI fights. The freeway chase is mostly well directed and put together and the Ducati motorcycle chase is hair raisingly directed and shot, bound to please the motorheads out there. The main failing of the freeway chase, is the overt amount of CGI as it is hard to swallow especially the poorly done, slow-mo of an "agent" landing on and crushing a car. No in fact, to be honest, you don't particularly care by that point as you have given up waiting for the film to get better. Neo now also seems to fly like Superman , frequently and this again provides another excuse for the special effects artists to indulge and go silly. Surely, even the "Playstation generation" would find this a bit much.

To be honest, Equilibrium is a far better and more accomplished, engaging film and undoubtably one of the best this year, certainly of this ilk. Nowhere near the budget of Matrix Reloaded and not even quarter of the amount of special effects, but it proves a more stimulating film with a better story, and the right balance of action and story.

Tagline

Reload before the revolution begins.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Glitz's say:

The original Matrix movie had more hype than a phony war in Iraq, and yet it was a quality movie. Innovative effects, strong story, and stunning action set pieces combined to jaw dropingly good effect. Ok so it was a bit cartoony and definitely a case of style over substance, but it was monumentally cool. It's massive success made at least one sequel inevitable. So when the first of two back-to-back filmed sequels, Matrix Reloaded, arrived hopes and expectations were phenomenally high.

Ok there's no beating around the bush this film is a pretentious mess. What has happened to the franchise? This over talky, full of itself, farcical half a film is a massive disappointment. It isn't that it's not as good as the original; it is bad in Phantom Menace sort of way. Initial impressions are indeed good, with Trinity's infiltration into the Matrix throwing us back into that super slick physics defying action. However this is short lived when it becomes clear it was all a dream and what follows is an excruciating forty minutes of talking toss, rave parties and the ugliest sex scene ever recorded. Unfortunately this sets the tone for the rest of the film.

My mother said always look at the positives, so let’s see what does work. The action is as ever fantastic, and while it is no longer as innovative as it once was it is still joy to behold. Two outstanding sections of this film are the fight between Neo and hundreds of Agent Smiths and the motorway chase. Both of these rates as some of the finest action scenes ever filmed. It is just a pity that there just isn't enough of these moments to make the film worthwhile. The other major plus point is Hugo Weaving's return as Agent Smith. He gets all the best lines in the film and his pretense is just pure malevolence. It is inexplicable then that his screen time is limited to only about half an hour.

Right now what has gone wrong. This film is practically a definition of the word pretentious. It is packed with so called meaningful speeches ranging from cause and effect, to the control of machines, and ending with the meaning of existence. It is all a pile of garbage. Characters like the Oracle and the Architect spout endless amounts pseudo intellectual drivel. This culminates in the Architect’s speech, which has to rate as the ultimate pile of toss ever to be committed to celluloid. I am missing the point, I think not. It's more a case of the tale of the Emperor’s new clothes.

Second biggest crime committed by the film is that fact that it doesn't actually end. The back-to-back filming with the next sequel has left this film to end with the most unsatisfactory "To be continued" message. There is simply no excuse for this as Back to the Future part 2 confirmed. Maybe the Wachowskis should have taken a lesson from the early Star Wars films. What compounds this less than ending is over long running time, which when it comes down to it is mainly due to the copious amount of waffle. To sit though this and then not get a pay off is excruciating.

The casting also has problems. Keanu Reeves can't act, and while this was fine in the original where all he was asked to do was run around, here they have forgotten that he shouldn't be allowed within a million miles of dialogue. This means that his obvious limitations are exposed to the full. Not only that but Carrie-Anne Moss is looking a bit rough. This makes the scene where Neo has to choose between her heroin addict looks and the stunning Monica Bellucci a joke. But worst of all is the inclusion of the farcical French man, Merovingian, who appears to have escaped from the sitcom Allo allo. He has to be the most ridiculous and pointless characters since Jar Jar Binks.

This film may be part of a grand vision created by the Wachowskis, but as a film on its own it’s a disappointing failure. Maybe the next film Matrix Revolutions will explain everything, however I can't escape the feeling that maybe both of these films should have been edited together to form one movie. There are forty minutes of excellent movie here surrounded by a mountain of pretentious twaddle. This leads to the inescapable fact that Reloaded is to The Matrix what Phantom Menace is to Star Wars. Not so much reloaded as general application error, lets hope revolutions is Matrix rebooted.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5


DVD
DISC 1
Picture 2.40:1 Widescreen Excellent crisp image
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Fantastic
Features Excellent animated menus
Interactive scene selection
DISC 2
Features Very cool animated menus
The excellent 2003 MTV Movie Awards "Matrix Reloaded" parody starring Justin Timberlake and Sean William Scott
"Preload" a good "behind the scenes" look at The Matrix Reloaded with on-set footage and interviews with cast and crew
"The Freeway Chase" interesting "behind the scenes" featurette on how they did the scene
"What Is The Animatrix?" a valid question explained
"Enter The Matrix" - One of the better "Making Of" featurettes. About the new video game and the groundbreaking technology used to create it.
"The Matrix Unfolds" A look at The Matrix phenomenon
"Get Me An Exit" Featurette on the slieu of Matrix-inspired advertising campaigns
Web link to the official Matrix website (also available at the bottom of this page)
Verdict Excellent 2 disc set with loads of goodies. Shame the film doesn't live up to the presentation. The MTV movie award spoof is very funny, but the original parody for the 2000 MTV movie awards was better. If you insist on buying the film, then this is the set to get as there is more value for money here.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Link Back Top Home