Thursday, 5 March 2009

Movie Review - The Matrix: Reloaded

It seems to be the season of sequels at the moment. (Bear in mind that I first posted this review i July 2003!) The other two I’ve just written reviews for, X-Men 2 and Shanghai Knights, are superb, and even better than the original. (I must admit I can’t speak for the latter in this respect, since I have seen Shanghai Noon, but I’ve taken it on the counsel of those who have…) So what about Matrix Reloaded, one of the most hotly-awaited films of the year?

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeell….

I know some people liked it. I know this because they told me. But, for me, this is quite possibly the worst film ever made. It’s even worse than Batman and Robin. (At least that had Alicia Silverstone in it. And George Clooney wasn’t actually that bad in it, he was just hampered by some of the worst dialogue in film history. Although the award for the worst lines ever have to go to Arnie as one of the baddies in the same film. But anyway, I digress…) I can’t think of a single thing to recommend it, and if it was possible on epinions to give zero stars, that’s what it would get. One star flatters it.

The plot itself isn’t too bad, and the most annoying thing about the film is that I still want to see Revolutions when it comes out, mostly in the desperate hope that it won’t be as bad as this. Agent Smith from the first film (in case you’d forgotten or been living on the moon for the last few years, the plot revolves around machines taking over the world and feeding off the energy of humans who are linked up to “The Matrix” – a kind of global virtual reality that everyone thinks is real, all except the very few who are helped to escape by people like Captain Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne)… Neo (Keanu Reaves) is a unique individual prophesied by the Oracle (crazy old woman, thought to be wise) to have the ability to change the nature of the Matrix and liberate humanity… the agents are programs that hunt those who would liberate humanity and Agent Smith was the nastiest of these….) has somehow turned into a virus, thus duplicating himself and leading to the truly insomnia curing scene where millions of Agent Smiths attack Neo and still lose…). Apologies for a sentence that is way too long to be considered grammatical – although Word’s grammar check didn’t put a green line under it!) Oh, and Morpheus has been given both a love interest and a rival… yawn. It’s all so very formulaic.

So okay you might have worked out by now that I couldn’t stand this film. But why? Here’s the list:

1/ The acting is banal – the actors seem almost as bored with the script as I was. Agent Smith was, I guess, supposed to sound menacing, but he merely comes across as bored and possibly constipated. Morpheus sounds deranged and as charismatic as a squashed hedgehog, Neo sounds half-asleep (like I was after fifteen minutes watching this… and they weren’t the worst fifteen minutes of the film by any means), and Trinity (Neo’s love interest, possibly because she’s the only woman he’s ever met as I can’t see any other reason) sounds vaguely worried in the “I’m worried” sequences and more or less tense in the “I’m tense” sequences.

2/ The action sequences are long-winded and boring. I haven’t been this close to falling asleep in a film since I watched AI. The special effects, which were revolutionary when the first film came out, would still be impressive if they weren’t so overused. The fight sequences all follow the same pattern – man gets hit, man gets up, man gets hit, man gets up… For hours (at least, that’s what it feels like). Every so often you get the “stop camera” effect and a sound effect – it seems to be the same sound effect all the time, which doesn’t help – and occasionally the music gets more menacing when you are supposedly meant to feel tense or something, as if you thought our Neo would actually be defeated etc etc…

3/ And that’s another thing. The music is completely out of place, this becoming evident in a risible scene where Morpheus gives a risible speech, everyone does some risible dancing, and Neo makes a risible attempt at making love to Trinity. A kind of heavy dance music (no doubt there is a technical name for it, such as garage, house, trash, complete garbage etc), it just doesn’t fit in with the film. It’s amazing how well most music in films must fit perfectly because this is the first time I’ve ever thought that the music jarred.

4/ The philosophy. Oh boy, the scriptwriters really must think they’re clever. There are long rambling speeches by Morpheus (he was a good character in the first film, but in this you’re just begging him to shut up every time he opens his mouth), but worse still are the pompous, pretentious spouting of The Oracle and one of the villains of the piece. Oh and there’s a scene with his “wife” which is just stupid, followed by another ridiculous fight scene (take five hours to pick up knives, spend another twelve hours before using knives) and an half-decent chase scene (and yes, you’ve guessed it, by virtue of it being half-decent it manages to be about the best part of the film).

Well that’s the main gripes, its unmitigated garbage in my opinion. (Never tell me I don’t give it to you straight). If you haven’t had a good sleep in a while, or you like mindless, unexciting action, bad acting, being patronised, or just bad movies, then this is for you. The only time it begins to look interesting is right at the end, and that’s only because you’re wondering what will happen in the last film, and if it will be as good as the original or as bad as this. This, frankly, is an insult to the audience’s intelligence.

Links

Read my review of Matrix Revolutions - The Wachowski Brothers get it right for the final part of the trilogy.

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