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The Matrix Revolutions
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence  Fishburne, Hugh Weaving, Jada Pinkett Smith and Mary Alice
Directors/Scriptwriters: The Wachowski Brothers
Music: Don Davis
Warner Brothers/Village Roadshow Pictures
Running Time: Two hours and five minutes
Rating: R
Website: www.thematrix.com
 
Finales of two of the most celebrated trilogies in recent memory arrive this fall. While the Lord of the Rings gathered momentum with The Two Towers and is inspiring feverish anticipation, the Matrix trilogy took a step sideways (or backwards, depending on your opinion) with Matrix Reloaded. While diehard fans weren't disappointed with Reloaded's special effects and action sequences, many were less than impressed with its long scenes of dialogue and its apparent abandonment of the narrative's underlying philosophy. Unfortunately, Matrix Revolutions, which arrived in theaters last week, won't re-inspire the disappointed. It is a surprisingly anti-climactic end to one of Hollywood's grand space operas.

'Space opera' isn't exactly the right phrase. Though Matrix Revolutions borrows liberally from both the Star Wars and Alien franchises, it doesn't take place in space at all. Rather, it occurs inside a computer program. This idea, that humanity's understanding of reality was merely a computer program designed to keep it docile, was genuinely striking when the first Matrix was released in 1999. That a savior named Neo was needed to liberate humanity from the machines that had enslaved them was even more provocative. The Wachowski Brothers, who've written and directed all three Matrix installments,  created a highly symbolic world full of characters named The Oracle, The Architect, and Morpheus. Some of these turned out to be merely computer programs designed to fix or alter something in the Matrix, while others were humans who came to Neo's aid. But even after two movies, the Wachowski Brothers had merely sketched out potential relationships and conflicts. It was up to Matrix Revolutions to reveal Reality.

To some degree, Revolutions accomplishes that. The nature of competing programs like The Architect and Mr. Smith (in another fantastic performance from Hugo Weaving) becomes much clearer. The baffling speech by The Architect at the end of Reloaded is put into context, and The Oracle's contradictory prophecies come together. The themes of love, choice, and fate are given greater depth, as Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) face their ultimate battle. And the machines and their purposes are shown in somewhat more detail.

In other ways, however, Revolutions fails to live up to its promises. The Merovingian, also known as the Frenchmen, reappears for another irritating conversation and then is quickly dropped, never to appear again. A potentially provocative character named The Trainman is introduced early in the movie but never developed after that. And the arguments between Morpheus (Lawrence Fishburne) and the other humans over how much to believe in Neo become moot.

In fact, one of Revolutions' most disappointing aspects is how unimportant the humans, and particularly Morpheus, become. The Wachowski Brothers provide a classic "last stand" in the underground city of Zion, but that's only an excuse for fifteen mind-numbing minutes of flashing lights and unimpressive special effects. The battle between the machines and the resistance is so one-sided--the machines will clearly overwhelm the humans barring a miracle--that there's little drama to the action. Even worse, none of the human defenders are ones we care about; Neo and Trinity are off fighting another battle, while Morpheus and Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith) are desperately flying a ship to Zion's hopeful rescue. So we're left with a
war that involves characters we don't connect with, that ruins the tension by stacking the deck, and that mystifies the audience with special effects that are impossible to follow. And this is the movie's big set piece.

Indeed, for someone who doesn't care to follow the Matrix's convoluted philosophy, Revolutions will hold little appeal. At least in Reloaded, you had two incredibly cool action sequences that raised the bar yet again. Revolutions gives us a bloated battle between man and machine, along with two confrontations between Neo and Agent Smith. But neither of the latter can hold a candle to the martial arts sequences in Reloaded. Oh yes, I forgot--there's also a video game-inspired shoot-out, but it's completely forgettable.

Most perplexing, though, is the film's conclusion. Admittedly, a battle between near-omnipotent creatures is a hard one to resolve satisfactorily, but still Revolutions could've done better than it does. We're left with something that feels more like a holding pattern than a genuine victory or defeat.

Still, Revolutions is better than many of the summer's action blockbusters.The acting is good across the board, even from Keanu "Mr. Wooden" Reeves, and the movie attempts to offer a commentary on our world and will certainly provoke some discussion. The movie's potentially Christian allegory will inspire many a late-night argument. Unfortunately, the movie itself doesn't inspire much else. 

J. Robert Parks 11/8/2003

As the world lay in wait for the conclusion of what is arguably the most talked about trilogy to ever hit theaters, we should not have been expecting much. Perhaps the wool was pulled over our eyes when we saw The Matrix (the original one, mind you) and expected the rest of the trilogy to be able to deliver in an equally powerful way. After such an incredible start, disappointment was imminent. The Matrix Revolutions certainly does well at delivering said disappointment.

Picking up right where The Matrix Reloaded left off, Revolutions finds our heroes in dire straits as Zion, the last human city, is only hours away from being attacked by a massive machine force against which they have no hope. As if that werenít enough, Neo (played by the illustrious Keanu Reeves, sarcasm intended) is stuck in a world between the machine world and the real world. The exact importance of this to the rest of the plot is small, but Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie Anne Moss) must rescue Neo before the final chapter in our film may continue.

After the rescuing is taken care of, Neo determines that he must go to the machine city with Trinity to somehow put an end to the war with the machines. Meanwhile, the rest of Neoís compatriots head back to Zion to do what they can to help save the city. And looming in the background is Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), a growing force that must be reckoned with. He is now a threat not only to the humans, but also to the machines themselves.

There are problems galore to be found in The Matrix Revolutions but one of the most glaring is the atrocious dialog. Itís unlikely that Neo speaks any sentences comprised of more than three words. Granted, Keanu Reeves is one of the most machine-like actors of our time in terms of putting no feeling whatsoever into his character. It is quite ironic that this is the character that is fighting to stop the machines.

After mind-blowing revelations in the first two films, it might be expected that we would have some kind of mind-blowing conclusion to the trilogy. However, the only true mind-blowing thing about Revolutions was that hundreds of millions of dollars would be sunk into a film that was written so carelessly. The Wachowski brothers may have a talent for directing high budget films and coming up with intriguing concepts, but if there is any justice in this world, this will be the last screenplay that they see become a movie.

As for what was done right in Revolutions, the special effects in the actions scenes were incredible. The duel between Neo and Agent Smith is possibly one of the most impressive action sequences that have ever been filmed (although Iím sure the majority of the work took place in post-production, not the actual filming itself). The battle for Zion is an immense sequence that really cannot be described well on paper. These are the moments that make the movie worth watching.

Die hard fans of The Matrix as a franchise will probably find enough good here to grasp onto and defend. Those who havenít sworn allegiance to the franchise will most likely find themselves unsatisfied.

Of course, the big question everyone is asking is what happens in the end? Itís an ending that wonít be revealed in this review, but suffice to say itís conclusive yet ultimately unsatisfying. Conclusive yet unsatisfying, thatís an apt description of The Matrix Revolutions.

Trae Cadenhead 11/8/2003


 
 

Trae Cadenhead is a student at Union University. He is pursuing a Digital Media Studies major with a Film Studies minor and plans to become involved in film making following school. Trae also has an enormous interest in music. Along with writing for the Tollbooth, Trae maintains Loconotion.net, a digital archive of his thoughts on music and movies as well as a gallery of the art and video work he is doing.

At last, The Matrix trilogy has come to a grinding halt. What began as an exquisite first film melted into an incomprehensible second film and now a third one to tie loose ends together. Matrix: Revolutions had the possibility of becoming a better film, but the dialogue is stupid and the considerable cast has nothing to do but fire endless weapons. The Wachowski Brothers give the audience a two-hour video game, and perhaps, thatís all it takes to satisfy some moviegoers.
 
At the end of the second film, Agent Smith, kind of a rogue virus (Hugo Weaving), took over the body of Bane (Ian Bliss). Neo (Keanu Reeves) was awakened and the battle to save Zion, the underground city of humans, continued.
 
Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), who is Neos lover and protector, and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), a leader of the humans, believe that Neo knows what he is doing when he wants a ship to travel to Machine City and to try to stop the war. The human counsel objects, but of course, Neo gets his way when Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith) gives him her ship. The audience follows two journeys. Niobes (in another ship) as she travels to Zion through a narrow passage to try to save the city while Neo and Trinity go to Machine City, with Neo being blinded along the way by the evil Bane. It doesnít matter, Neo can still see in shades of fiery light and shadow, and eventually, each ship reaches its destination.
 
 The fight between squid-like slicing machines and humans plus the menacing boring implements that head for underground Zion are something graphic artists would chop for. The slice-and-dice guys are a combination beehive-squid-supersonic-fighter with more than a passing resemblance to War of the Worlds invaders. This is special effects excellence and what fans go to movies for. Forget actors, they are just in the way. The solution to the war is not totally unexpected, and even though Matrix: Revolutions is supposedly the end of the trilogy, who knows?
 
As it stands, in between the action sequences you can sit back and relax through the Oracle and her meaningless phrases, or Neo being caught in an underground train station, or Jada Pinkett Smithís dialogues about being a tough pilot. There are two great fights between Smith and Neo. Jab, jump, pounce, toss, pummel, glare, you name it and they do it. The color palette is mostly drab (underground) or near-constant rain (Smith and Neo). I, for one, am breathing a sigh of relief. Its over.
 
Copyright 2003 Marie Asner
Submitted 11/13/03 
 
 

 

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