THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS
****1/2 (out of 5)
November 5, 2003
Keanu Reeves as NEO
Laurence Fishburne as MORPHEUS
Carrie-Ann Moss as TRINITY
Hugo Weaving as AGENT SMITH
Jada Pinkett Smith as NIOBE
Mary Alice as THE ORACLE
Ian Bliss as BANE
Directed by: The Wachowski Brothers
BY KEVIN CARR
I think a lot of people (fans and critics alike) are missing the boat on “The Matrix” films. The same critics who complained about longwinded sequences, over-the-top battles, CGI effects that didn’t look quite real and an ending that left you on the edge of a cliff were the same folks that gave five stars to “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” – a film that committed all the same sins.
I bite my thumb at these critics. I caught a lot of heat for giving “The Matrix Reloaded” five stars, but I stand by that assessment and award a similar rating to “The Matrix Revolutions.” After all, you can’t look at either sequel as a complete film. Look at “The Matrix Reloaded” as the second act and “The Matrix Revolutions” as the third act. The original “Matrix” set up the story. “Reloaded” gave rising action leading to the climactic battle (in both the real world and the Matrix itself) in “Revolutions.”
Think of this in context of the original “Star Wars.” I’m a “Star Wars” baby, so I consider it the quintessential five star sci-fi action flick. The last third of the film – the battle against the Death Star -was not exactly steeped in character development. But that’s okay. It was the ending. Everything had already been set up.
Before you see “Revolutions,” rent “Reloaded” and watch it again. Like “Kill Bill,” “Revolutions” is really meant more to be taken right after “Reloaded” instead of six months later. In fact, some theatres are already showing “Reloaded” and “Revolutions” as a double bill, which I plan to catch this weekend.
“The Matrix Revolutions” picks up where “The Matrix Reloaded” left off. Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Bane (Ian Bliss) are lying on tables, unconscious. Neo is stuck in limbo between the Matrix and the real world after the depressing revelations from the Architect that “The One” had come five times before and that it was all part of the Matrix’s grand design. Bane, possessed by Agent Smith (Huge Weaving), had taken out the entire fleet of Zion’s ships by prematurely discharging an EMP.
There are only two ships left, and Zion doesn’t know they’re still alive. Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss) have to jump back into the Matrix to rescue Neo and visit the Oracle one more time. The Oracle looks different, implying that she was almost destroyed off-screen. This plot twist was a result of Gloria Foster (the original Oracle) passing away before she filmed her part in “Revolutions.” She is replaced by Mary Alice who fills her shoes adequately (although no one could ever replace Foster in spirit).
“The Matrix Revolutions” winds up with a three-pronged action sequence much like “The Return of the Jedi,” with the army in Zion defending themselves against the 250,000 sentinels sent to destroy them, Morpheus and Niobe (Jada Pinkett-Smith) trying to pilot their ship back to port to take out the sentinels with an EMP, and Trinity and Neo heading to the physical center of control of the machines to take the battle to the source. At the same time, Agent Smith (inside and outside of the Matrix) has propagated to unbelievable numbers and is threatening the existence of both worlds.
The action is great. Sure, some of the effects don’t quite hold up. But in this era of anything-can-happen CGI, is there any movie that has effects that really hold up? And what is the alternative when you want to do a film at this scale? Miniatures? Latex? Matte paintings? While I’ll be the first one out there to praise old-school effects – especially for smaller, more subtle imagery – for movies like “The Matrix” series, CGI is the way to go.
“The Matrix” has finally brought cyberpunk to age on the heels of pioneers like “The Terminator” and “Blade Runner.” I’ve read my fair share of cyberpunk and never really thought the writing was ever that good. I loved the concepts – a mixture of high tech and junk, as well as a constant battle between humans and machines. But with literary science fiction swirling down a watery grave over the past three or four decades, cyberpunk writings I found to be too much forced art and not enough talent. And film adaptation like “Johnny Mnemonic” didn’t help things either.
The Wachowski Brothers kept true to their original story. These films don’t feel like the “Star Wars” prequels in which we all knew George Lucas was just making stuff up as he went along. I can believe that the Wachowski Brothers had these ideas from the beginning.
Ultimately, “The Matrix” series is going to live as one of those great science fiction classics of this era. Similar to how “Star Wars” became a benchmark in the late 70s/early 80s to which every subsequent sci-fi film has been compared, “The Matrix” and its two sequels have set the standard for the next generation.
And will they make more? You bet. Because even though everything that has a beginning has an end, we all know that no story in Hollywood wraps up so nicely that you can’t make more movies.