August 12, 2004
The Matrix Revolutions
Major spoilers in this. Do not read if you haven't seen the other Matrix movies
I watched the final installment just a couple days after watching Matrix Reloaded. Anticipation was high. Truthfully, I knew some details because curiosity had led me to read some spoilers. By now, many people have already watched these movies, and the rest won’t watch because they heard all the negative hype. But if you are one of the few who really haven’t watched the third Matrix and are just waiting to see what I say before deciding whether it is worth watching, the wait is over. And, incidentally, I’m not kidding. I am putting spoilers in the review. Be forewarned.
Having now seen The Matrix Revolutions twice (I purchased the DVD used recently), I have mixed feelings. The movie was not nearly as bad as people said. It was actually pretty good. I think most people whine too much. I liked it. The ending mostly made sense to me. I was not surprised by very much, especially after Neo went blind. You knew he wouldn't last to see the war over (ha ha! He never saw anything again). Of course, if he is a savior-figure, he had to die, anyway.
Was this a great movie? No. Did it have plot holes and other errors? Of course, like every other movie out there. Could it have been done better? Please. That's like asking if The Phantom Menace or Citizen Kane could have been done better. Of course they could have been, but we the viewers are not going to change that by wishing (and boy, was Phantom Menace a stinker).
I've spent some time reading fan pages of the Matrix series. Many hated the third movie and loved the other two. Many hated the 2nd and the 3rd and loved only the original Matrix. A small handful liked the third one the best. I would say that, as an ending, it worked. It made us think (uncomfortable though that may be for many). The Wachoski brothers wanted the first to be about birth, the second to be about life, and the third to be about death. In some ways, this reminds of me of the Alien series in its cycles (the fourth Alien is an aberration but I still enjoyed it). Understanding it, I see why Revolutions went the way it did. There were many things I did not understand, but reading the fan pages, I was reminded of events in the Animatrix (which I have seen) that explained holes in Reloaded and Revolutions. I also came to realize that several things are explained in Enter the Matrix, a computer game. It seems that we as consumers really miss out by not getting these other sources of information. Even if Enter the Matrix wasn't the best game in the world (according to most reviewers), I decided to play it to learn more back story, including that of Niobe, Ghost and Persephone. You also get to see Niobe's visit to the Oracle, and I hear you find out why the Oracle changed how she looked (aside from the actress dying during filming). Most people say the gameplay sucks, but that it's worth it for the extra footage. Well, I’m giving it a try, and will someday review it too. Of course, if you don't care about the Matrix or the it's sequels, the game and Animatrix and Enter the Matrix won't do much for you either, I would suspect.
At any rate, the movie itself is not that bad. I enjoyed watching it. I somehow knew there were tragic elements to it, knew that the Wachoski brothers wanted to make more than just a mindless thriller. Yes, it was exciting, but they put a lot of thought into what happens in the movie. The movie had three purposes, to make money (of course), to entertain and make you think. If you don’t believe people are thinking about this movie, check out the following links:
http://www.matrix-explained.com or http://www.dictionary-of-matrix.com/ or http://wylfing.net/essays/
Actually, I have a few more links on my link page (see the philosophy section) if you are interested in some good deep Matrix reading.
So, with two viewings, I will still take the plunge and state what I like and disliked. Unlike many who thought the fight at Hel Club was a copy of the great lobby shootout in the first movie, I saw it as reminiscent, designed to echo the original, but remain it's own animal. Of course, walking on ceilings and walls added to the scene, but it made sense in the Matrix world. These were rogue programs who knew what the score was and how to manipulate the matrix. They were a more deadly enemy and had the capacity to actually hurt the protagonists. The shootout in the first one was with regular people, security guards, with no special skills. The Hel Club shootout had a grittier feel, somehow, as if to signify the stakes are higher this time. This is where you see some of the monsters mentioned in the second movie.
I liked the small bits of humor interlacing the story. Bits like Neo, trying to escape the train station, only to find himself in the exact same starting place. Again, Neo telling Trinity he’s fine, but she needs to drive, right after going blind. The Morovingian with a gun to his head, not believing this could happen. Agent Smith in the flesh, insulting the very flesh he wears. I loved the sentinal attack and ensuing battle (man, that takes a lot of stamina to watch, it is that intense and long-lasting). I also liked learning a lot of the answers we had questions about for so long (especially after seeing Reloaded).. Is this the real world they are in (while resideing in Zion)? Why did Neo go in a coma? How did he stop the sentinals in the so-called real world?
Things I disliked: Several questions were never really answered. We got an answer about Neo's power in the real world, but it still doesn't explain as much as I would like. The end fight sequence, between Neo and Smith. It had some cool effects, but . . . something was missing. I would have loved seeing cars and buildings hurled at one another. Lot's of incidental destruction seemed appropriate (which is funny to me, because often, it seems oddly out of place and gratuitously added to most movies). How long it took for Trinity to die. Yes, I know, I am spilling the beans. Get over it. I warned you at the beginning that I would spoil this. I didn't hate her death scene, as I read others have, but it was a little overlong. Neo dying. Actually, I knew he was going to die, as soon as he lost his eyesight. Still, it was sad. I didn't care for the gratuitious nipple-tweak shot in Club Hel. If it fits in the story, OK, I guess you can add that stuff in, though it really isn't necessary in most cases. But just throwing it in for ambiance bugs me. Oh, the Kid becoming a hero bugged me, too. Ah, well. He was too stereotyped and not much of a real character. His short spot in the Animatrix was much better.
All in all, this is not a deep review. It is not meant to be. I am just expressing some of my feelings about the movie. It is a good conclusion to a good trilogy. It has its naysayers, and that's OK. That's what this free country is for, allowing the expression of thoughts, good and bad. I now own all three of the Matrix moview, though I still don't have the Animatrix, so obviously, I like these enough to give them repeated viewings.
Update (March18, 2005): When I originally wrote this, I had not played Enter the Matrix and had only watched the Animatrix once. I have finished the first and watched the second twice. They answer some questions, but not as many as I had hoped. Bot are entertaining. I actually enjoyed the Animatrix more the second time, because I could see how it all fit with the other three movies (yes, I know it was intended for viewing before Revolutions, but I got more out of it the other way around). Enter the Matrix was not nearly as bad a game as it got credit for, but it was not a great game. Limited replayability. Tedious at some points. However, it was fun to walk on walls and do cool bullet-time tricks to take out enemies. And it told another side to the Reloaded story, so it wasn't all bad. It's ending leaves you hanging, though, just like Reloaded did. This movie does not stand alone, which is both a good and bad thing. Overall, a positive experience, though.