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TSM Movie Review: The Matrix Reloaded, May 15, 2003
Guest_TSMAdmin_*
post Jun 19 2003, 04:12 PM
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THE MATRIX RELOADED

Starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Hugo Weaving
Written and Directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski
Released by Warner Bros.; Rated R; 138 minutes


Building nicely on the information and questions presented in its prequel, The Matrix Reloaded is pomp-and-circumstance cyberpunk at its enjoyable best.

The fight against The Machines continues, with Neo (Keanu Reeves) as the prophecied superman that Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) believe in and depend on. This time, though, the movie reveals the human city of Zion, the last city of its kind. Hinted at in the first movie, we now see that Morpheus is just one of many ship captains, though his fanatical belief in Neo as The One differs him from others. Commander Lock (Harry Lennix) does not share Morpheus’ faith in Neo, and the two men clash over that, as well as over Captain Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith), current paramour of Lock and former flame of Morpheus.

The Machines are digging toward Zion to launch a massive assault. Lock believes in keeping all ships back to defend the city, but Morpheus believes Neo and The Oracle (Gloria Foster) hold better answers. Neo once again gets sent down a cryptic path by The Oracle, with the only certainty being that he has to rescue The Keymaker (Randall Duk Kim). After some compelling chop-socky action and a highway chase that is incredible to behold, Neo and compatriots, with The Keymaker in tow, move to assault The Machines’ mainframe.

Getting there is a battle unto itself, and once inside the massive building that houses the mainframe, Neo must again deal with persistent and ubiquitous Mr. Smith (Hugo Weaving), who has dogged him throughout the film. Once inside the mainframe, Neo encounters The Architect of the matrix (Helmut Bakaitis). The Architect gives Neo (and the audience) a history lesson on the matrix, and clarifies what Neo’s role as The One really entails. In the end, Neo faces a lady-or-the-tiger choice (really, it’s more like the lion or the tiger), though the decision he makes is easy to forsee.

It’s hard to say anything more about The Matrix Reloaded without giving too much away. The Matrix wrapped things up nicely, with a decisive ending, but the aftermath of that is explored and expounded in The Matrix Reloaded. New questions are raised, a lot of new information is presented, and the stage is set nicely for the concluding chapter in November. In that respect, The Matrix Reloaded handsomely does its job as the second act of three.

The movie is not without its flaws, though. The glimpse of Zion turns into much more, with a lot of exposition and wheel-spinning taking the place of meaningful story movement. I get the feeling the Wachowski brothers had designed a sprawling digital model of their wasteland paradise, and had to work it into the movie as much as possible. A look at Zion would have been interesting, but since the digital world is more compelling than the real world in the Matrix mythos, too much time there causes the movie to drag. There are also a few moments of obvious CGI, but since so much of the movie is digitized, a few mulligans are forgivable.

Since they’re a focal point of both movies, it’s also worth mentioning the fight scenes. Well-shot and appropriately kinetic, all the fight scenes are meticulously choreographed and never too short. They feature the same reality-defying stunts and advanced wire-fu action we saw the first time around, but watching Neo take on several opponents (or dozens of Smiths) at once adds a new dimension to the scenes. That said, much of the fighting features people obviously trying not to hurt each other, which is the fatal flaw of excessive choreography. The scenes themselves are so well done that it ends up being a minor quibble, but it was noticeable nonetheless.

In toto, The Matrix Reloaded is a very watachable, enjoyable, and well-written techno romp. It’s certainly bloated, perhaps to the point of excess, but the story is always interesting enough – and its main characters human enough and compelling enough – so that things like that can be ignored. With Neo in the Luke Skywalker role and The Oracle as Yoda, the Matrix franchise might just be the Star Wars for the current generation. If so, then part three of its saga is in much better hands than the third installment of Lucas’ tattered, tired legacy. 8.5/10

Dr. Tom
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