I need a chinese style coat... I think I'd look good
It was opening night last night you see, and I saw it. I'd had tickets booked for nearly three weeks - so I was damn well going to see it.
My quick review: Loved it, better than the first one in many aspects.
The rest of this post will deal with why I thought that, but if you haven't seen it then I'll probably end up talking about some mild spoilers, so I'll stick it beneath a cut..
Firstly.. this movie is probably not what you expect. It's not a sequel in the classic Hollywood style, its ethic isn't "like the first.. but BIGGER!" Expectations, in this case, are limiting.
The first movie was an action movie, a pretty basic one, that had a rich and deep (if somewhat clichéd) world underpinning it. It was a visual feast, and it showed us whole new ways of presenting action on screen. It worked on many levels.
Not only could it satisfy the more casual movie viewer with its eye-popping visuals and slick style. It satisfied a viewer that wanted more from a movie, as you could let your imagination run away with you within the concept of the world. Essentially it let you think as much as you wanted to..
Then they threw in four years of waiting...
Expectations grew for the second, and this - as far as I have seen - has been most people's complaints with the sequel. Its not what they expected. Frankly I don't give a crap what the geek community wanted from this film - they aren't the ones that made it. If you are going to complain about a film.. don't complain that you didn't get the film you wanted, because unless YOU make it, you won't.
To be honest I didn't go into this film expecting much more than a cool kung-fu flick. I got that, but I got a lot more besides.
Firstly I'm going to talk about a lot of the points that I've seen people talk about before, and provide my take on them.
- The CG effects - There's been a lot of talk about how 'obvious' the cg in the film is. The only place it is actually visible is in some of the texture work on a CG Neo. Specifically its noticeable when they are doing camera sweeps with Neo that would not be possible any other way. The Smiths look fine except at some points when CG Neo is flinging them around in the Burly Brawl. I haven't seen any film carry off special character effects as well as they do in this film, Final Fantasy managed to promote that you could use digital actors, but I would say that this film shows what you can do with them.
The main problem is that at some points you can tell he is rendered, I think they knew this was going to be a problem and the result is that they stylised the rendering to look a bit like a graphic novel. This is a good choice I think, and really doesn't detract at all from the film - I haven't seen a film in ten years that has totally convinced me, and none that feature character animation have gotten close. They did a great job though.
Every other CG effect in this film was top notch.. so any quibbling is just that.. a minor quibble.
- The Dialogue - Some of the dialogue in this film is awful. However it is exactly as good as in the first film. In fact possibly better.. there is certainly more of it. The main problems with it are in two speeches. One by Morpheus, and another by the head of an interesting clan of werewolves and vampires. They both go on far too long... far, far too long. In the case of the clan guy (I forget how to pronounce.. let alone spell his name) they could have cut almost all of it.
Lets face it the dialogue in the first one was pretty poor, and the sequel has just as much pseudo-philosophical junk in it as well.. it serves its purpose.
- The Love Story - I don't get people complaining about the Neo - Trinity love story.. I mean that was the one of the basic points of the first film too.. not surprising that they keep it going. I thought they actually were very restrained with it, in fact the worst thing about it was the fact that Carrie-Anne Moss seems to have forgotten how to deliver a line with any warmth. To be acted off the screen by Keanu Reeves is quite sad.
- Keanu's Acting - Couldn't fault it.. sorry. He doesn't exactly say a lot in either film, and his reactions to the people that asked him to bless their babies was very well done. He was very understated, and the subtlety of his feelings was show with a few reactions whereas in someone like DeNero it would have been a grotesque facial contortion. I was impressed by the physicality of Keanu's performance.. and I mean that in the sense that he expressed almost everything by body language and facial expressions. He has too, he has very little dialogue.
Granted Keanu isn't the best actor in the planet, but for this role he was well cast - its basically a retread of character he's played before, but now he has depth to him. He was let down majorly by Carrie Anne Moss though.. she was cold and wooden throughout. I honestly don't know why people complained about him - he's better than in the first, and the character is deeper.
- "its just more 'wire-fu' *whine*" - oh my god this complaint gets to me. For a start calling it 'wire-fu' is like pretending that most martial arts movies in the last 15 years haven't used wires all the time, not to mention almost all of the recent crop of western movies. Secondly... its a kung-fu movie what did you expect? Shots of Keanu giving the Agents fluffy bunnies and softening their digital, yet loving, hearts? Of course you didn't... so don't complain about the (really well staged) fight scenes.
The only complaint about the fights I can see is that there never was a feeling that he could lose.. being The One and all.. so some of the drama was lost. However they did manage to pull off some novel twists to the fights that served quite well.
- The 'rave' scene - firstly.. whoever originally called that a rave scene needs to get out more. Lots of dancing to music does not equal a rave scene you retarded musical gibbons. *coughs* Just before this scene Morpheus gives a speech... some people like it.. some don't. I felt it was exactly the kind of speech that someone would give in that situation and it fitted perfectly. Mind you... his voice seemed to have gone up an octave.. kind bizarre. What follows is a basic rock out/sex scene. Its done really well.. but there's one problem with it really. Not that it goes on too long exactly.. more that it takes far too long to get started. at least two minutes of that could have been cut out... but still.. its was fun, well shot, great music, and had a really nice visceral tone.
Ok... that’s my main ranting over with - as I'm sure you're glad to hear. ;)
I really admire the depth of this movie, there's a lot more to it than most other movies. I think a valid comparison would be Blade Runner, a great plot that is character based. It is not an action movie.
I repeat... The Matrix Reloaded is not an action movie.
It is a science fiction movie in the same way that Asimov wrote science fiction novels. It has depth, feeling, human emotion, and a moral. The first film was an action movie with a science fiction flavour - this movie is the reverse. In fact I would say that the third movie is not a third movie.. it is the second half of this film. The ending is so abrupt and yet the only place I can see them ending it that it comes across as an episode of a TV show.
The background they give to The One and the way Neo can use his powers at the end has lead me to one conclusion about this series. It may be a bit of a leap at this point to say it.. but here goes...
The real world is still The Matrix..
At least.. the real world as Zion knows it.. it's an error loop if you will -something to catch the 0.1% the machines knew would reject the original program. The choice Neo made is now starting to change his perceptions even more, and he is feeling the code even in 'the desert of the real.' This is why his powers worked at the end.
Neo is human, what makes him human.. the cause and effect if you will... are his choices. He's made one the machines didn't want him to make, even they cannot predict the action now. The scripting in this film is superb, even if the dialogue is a bit wonky in places the actual construction of the plot and revealing of information was brilliantly crafted. The amount of scope they have given their world trebled in this movie.
I could spout long and lyrical on the concepts of free will and humanity that the brothers are illustrating in this series, but for now we will have to wait until November to see what they truly have in store for us.
I can't wait.
btw - on a side note, its totally worth checking out The Hulk and T3 trailers in front of this movie... two more incredible summer blockbusters that I can't wait for.