11.17.2003

Say You Want a Revolution

I haven't posted my thoughts about Matrix Revolutions, yet I have responded to several positive and negative reviews. This movie, along with the previous two, require more than the initial "knee-jerk" responses typical of the regular movie reviewers. I'm not ready to post a review just yet, but I do want to say something about the negative reaction to the conclusion of the trilogy.

I have a theory that most mainstream audiences only wanted to see what happened in the six months between M1 and M2. This would have featured Neo & Co. fighting for humanity, kicking major ass, and finding new converts left and right. This film would've been more of an extension of the first film than Reloaded. If this had been M2, then M3 could have just led us right up to the Architect's little speech and Neo could've returned to the Source then. I think that this type of trilogy would've provided plenty "wow" effects, and may have reduced some of the philosophical chatter. In other words, perfect for today's popcorn audiences.

Most of the negative comments toward these two movies refuse to acknowledge that the Wachowski Brothers have brought their vision to the screen. It's not the movie that the critics would've made (HA HA!), it's not the movie that the Warner Brothers executives necessarily wanted to make.

Can't movie critics at least appreciate the opportunities given to the Wachowski Brothers and all lovers of science fiction? The critical, not financial, failure of Reloaded and Revolutions will have a negative impact on the fate of future high budget genre films. Why would executives greenlight Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama or Larry Niven's Ringworld when they can just pump out another Independence Day or Armegeddon? Critics and movie goers will piss and moan that Hollywood only produces generic sequels, but they will give more support to these films (and their makers) than the people willing to take chances like the Lynch, Cronenberg, or Fincher.

I brought up Rendezvous with Rama because I have been thinking about one of Morgan Freeman's last quotes about the project:

"These things, they always want to make it into an action film. So you've got to cowboy it up a little bit. You can't do it with this. And we've been having trouble getting someone to see the science aspect of this, the exploratory aspects of it, rather than the blood and guts and stuff."

Freeman ends by giving Rama fans a reason to retain hope by saying, "It's not in limbo. We're pushing hard at it constantly.
" -David Fincher Net


Given the response to Reloaded and Revolutions, what do you think that the average studio executive would do if he was in charge of the Rama property? Spend $150 million with a visionary genre director or give it to somebody like Michael Bay? After Revolutions, I'm afraid that a lot of studios will be tightening the purse strings and reigning in projects that might yield the next Matrix.

You have to give the W. Bros. credit for delivering films that defied expectations and traditional narratives. Half of the story is one the screen, and the other half of the story is created when you sit and think about the film's universe. Blade Runner did the same thing, and audiences initially hated it. Now it is viewed as one of the most important sci fi films in cinema history.

Roger Ebert had this to say about the philosophy and dialogue of Reloaded:

The speeches provide not meaning, but the effect of meaning: It sure sounds like those guys are saying some profound things.

That will not prevent fanboys from analyzing the philosophy of "The Matrix Reloaded" in endless Web postings. Part of the fun is becoming an expert in the deep meaning of shallow pop mythology; there is something refreshingly ironic about becoming an authority on the transient extrusions of mass culture, and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) now joins Obi-Wan Kenobi as the Plato of our age.
-Chicago Sun Times


He is not entirely wrong in his comment about the dialogue in Reloaded (or Revolutions). However, the fans of the movie don't just discuss dialogue. They discuss the other "narrative" that must be inferred from multiple viewings AND late-night discussions with friends while drinking wine (or smoking a blunt). It's like watching a movie like Mulholland Drive or Natural Born Killers. You have to think about the characters, their motivation, the cinematic universe in which they live. If you don't like these kind of movies, just go watch the regular Hollywood fluff like Independence Day or 2 Fast 2 Furious.

(Ebert may like to think that the philosophy of an Ingmar Bergman film is ultimately more profound than that found in the Matrix, but that is nothing more than the view of most film "elitists". )

If your initial gut reaction to viewing this movie is negative, then there's not really anything that can be said that will change your mind. I don't like Titanic, and never will. I was disappointed with Terminator 3. But I didn't allow my negativity affect my overall criticism. I told my friends what I didn't like about these films, but still encouraged my friends to see them. Even if you don't like the story, Revolutions is one of the most sophisticated movies to ever hit the silver screen.

Nearly everybody will admit that the Wachowski Brothers completely owned us with one of these three movies. Even if you didn't like the sequels, you have to admit that the Wachowski Brothers did something amazing with the first film. If we continue to support them and their films, they may make something else that will even top the Matrix Trilogy. If we just give them nothing but shit for their hard work, another studio may not give them a chance to take Sci Fi to the next level. And that will be nothing but a loss to EVERYBODY here.



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