this film, I walked away from the theater sick. I've never seen
such a great series crash and burn so badly. I have never been so
frustrated with a series since The Phantom Menace came out.
Here are is the tip of my iceberg of angst....
Dumb title. Who
was revolting? The script was the only thing I found to be.
This was a battle between two opposing forces. The title implies
that the population of the Matrix itself would turn against their secret
captors. Don't get me wrong, I loved the battle scenes
in Zion, but the title borders on deceptive.
did not lead into one another. Dissect Reloaded
any way you want, every scene was a consequence of the preceding events.
Not so with Revolutions. I'll deal with that point by point throughout
this extended diatribe.
was a dead-end plotline and a waste of a character who might have provided
significant exposition... had he been used properly. We
want to know how the Matrix works. This is a wasted opportunity to
set up the conflict that is to follow. Instead, it is a short-lived
exercise in style. But we saw a subway station before in the first
film. Give us something new. The only redeeming component of
this Act is the discussion with the Programs. We discover that they
have feelings, offspring, and things that we would qualify them as living.
Where does this lead? Nowhere. Where might (read: should)
it have lead? This would establish the most important component of
the three way conflict of The Matrix vs. Neo vs. Himself. The Ragnarok
of the whole affair would conceivably lead to the opportunity for the Hero
to destroy the Matrix to save humankind. But this would mean destroying
another civilization as well. Does saving one species justify genocide
of another? This is where the audience gets caught up in the struggle,
not who can hit hardest.
The three-way conflictbetween
Trinity vs. the Merovingian vs. Persephone. Reloaded spent considerable
time establishing the dangerous "game" between the latter pair. Here,
this is ignored entirely. The Merovingian's appetite for harming
the Oracle is similarly swept under the rug. Trinity's "cut to the
chase" method of dealing with these characters looks great on screen, but
it is a premature evacuation from a well-developed script. In the
end, there is no resolution of the conflict with these characters.
The Matrix is restored to its pre-Smithville state, presumably with all
the unsavory characters intact. Where's the justice? And The
Matrix: Part Four is a little uncalled for, so this is hardly a resolution
after putting this devoting hours to this series.
a case where an entire chapter of a trilogy was practically dedicated to
meeting what appeared to be our Ultimate Evil (read: Vader is to Smith
as The Emperor is to The Architect), and they blew it. Totally!
The Source. Since
the Architect was reduced to a supporting character, one would think that
the final chapter would have us face the biggest threat: Part Godzilla,
part Satan, and the complete and utter justification of paying full price
to avoid encountering any spoilers before this movie made it to the dollar
theater. Our payoff? This was the Great and Powerful Wizard
of Oz without the personality. There was no development of this thing;
he was just a huge talking head. Literally! This is not the
Final Nemesis we want to see the Hero face. The persistent (a la
Close Encounters) visions of the pipeline leading back to the Machine City
implied there would be something magical in the end. What happened?
was no foreshadowing to create any sense of resolution here. Her
death came across as a mere casualty, another waste in a film already full
of mistakes. Further, this deprives the audience of the victory in
Reloaded when she is recovered (one of the most powerful moments in the
movie for me, and the events leading up to her near-death are dramatically
significant enough to bookend that chapter of the series, which, you will
recall begins with the prophetic dream sequence). (I will, however,
admit that the music during her resurrection scene was the best in the
movie as I was very tired of the endless recycling of the same three themes
throughout the entire trilogy. Or maybe I'm spoiled by decades of
John Williams putting everyone else to shame.)
the lack of foreshadowing left the audience confused. This failed
to satisfy any thematic thread. There is nothing to indicate that
the hero must die in order to save the world. The only explanation
for this comes from the biblical allusions throughout the series (e.g.
Zion, Trinity, even little things like Smith's license plate at one point
making a subtle book-chapter-verse reference, etc.). Note that the
final "plug into" the Matrix represents a crucifixion (spike driven into
his head, not hands/feet) and concludes with the image of Neo lying prone
with arms outstretched in the classic pose. This would work if 1)
the Prophesy had not been debunked in the previous chapter and 2) there
was any real indication of a Resurrection. The battle is over; there's
no room for a sequel. Matrix Resurrected? I think not.
case you don't know him by name, this is the Asian man: part Jackie Chan,
part Chow Young Fat as The Killer, and with all the Crouching Tiger moves
at twice the speed. Here is a character worth developing. He's
a corollary to the Oracle. If we understand where he comes from,
we understand more about the Matrix and the Programs that reside in it.
And, hell, he looks great on screen. He's an amazing asset for when you
have that battle inside the Matrix where you take on all the bad guys.
Oh, wait, they didn't bother to include that scene this time around.
The final battlebetween
Smith and Neo. Ultimately, unless I completely misunderstood it,
Neo looses. He dies (is "assimilated" by the Smiths), but then the
Machine feeds its power through him as though he was a Trojan virus, and
power (NOT Neo's!) destroys Smith and co. from within. What
was that all about? I get the "decent into Hell" bit, but that would
make the "Big Machine" God in this whole thing and Neo his son if you go
for a literal interpretation, and that doesn't make any sense. I
just don't get it.
triangle. This is never addressed. Sure,
we know how it is going to end, just the way we know how all movie romances
end, but that's not what we're paying to see. Granted, I don't want
to see Lawrence Fishburn kissing anyone, but you don't build something
like this across two movies just to drop the ball at the ten yard line.
And, yes, I'm disturbed by this fact enough to use a football analogy.
is the bread and butter of the trilogy, but it was in short supply in the
final installment. Imagine a Star Wars movie where they have only a single,
abbreviated lightsaber battle. It just doesn't make any sense.
Compared to just the tea house scene in Reloaded,
falls far short. The engagement between Smith and Neo lacked the
energy to keep my interest and the repeated each-bigger-than-the-last explosions
every time the opponents collided was as overdone as the "There's always
a bigger fish" routine in Phantom Menace. They just continually alternated
between a little hand-to-hand material and the big explosions rather than
pacing the fight such that there was a real climax to it.
The sky. A
similarly unresolved issue is the "blackening" of the skies. If humanity
and/or the machines are ever to prosper, this has to be addressed.
It is not. Maybe I'm being a little too scientific here, but the
planet is an energetic dead end (i.e., a closed system) unless it receives
outside input within a few years.
The dichotomy nonsense.I'm
not buying the Oracle's story. Smith and Neo are opposites?
The Oracle and the Architect are opposites? No, they're enemies.
That's a far cry from this Yin/Yang business you're spouting, lady.
Your gaudy earrings do not make the (subliminal) case for something this
story has never provided the evidence for.
The theme of Choice.This
is a major point underlying the entire premise: What distinguishes Man
and Machine? Who programs who? Who is in Control? The
only nod to this -and such a weak one- was the exchange of Smith: "Why
do you continue to fight?" Neo: "Because I choose to." It fails
to deal with these issues in spite of devoting much exposition (the penultimate
scene with the Architect, in fact!) to this theme. This is a philosophical
question with implications throughout the film's universe and well into
our own, dealt with in as far-ranging areas as the legal system, neuroscience,
psychology, and artificial intelligence.
revelation in Reloaded that Neo was the sixth "anomaly" produced
cyclically by the system was destructive to his significance in the eyes
of the audience. The hold-out for me was that the pattern would gain
some significance in Revolutions. It did not. Another
failure on the part of this script. For that matter, I had a big
problem with this aspect from the start. For six "Neos" to cycle
through, some memory of them would by passed on culturally, even if the
population went through a bottleneck (i.e., 7 men and 14 women or whatever
it was; which fails to explain the racial diversity). This did everything
to harm the story and nothing to constructively advance it.
The Matrix. This
is the core of the series. What did we see of it?
Aside from people inexplicably running around on the ceiling and a silly
latex dance club, we experience nothing of the inside of the Matrix except
for the Neo/Smith battle at the end, and it is so rapidly mutated by Smith
between our previous visit in Reloaded and the return in this film
that we do not see any semblance of our last encounters: the unforgettable
freeway chase/battles and Neo's martial arts melee at the castle.
abilities. The explanation here for Neo's powers
outside the Matrix is so contrived and thematically barren I thought I
could have died! Here's my (and I'm sure a lot of others') version
of what could/should/would have happened: The original concept of the Matrix
is that humans live in a world they think is real. Once they are
made aware of the unreality of their surroundings, they can manipulate
them to an apparently superhuman degree. Neo excels in this respect
within the Matrix. In fact, his abilities exceed all previous expectations
in this respect. Now, outside of the Matrix in the "real" world,
he begins to tenuously manifest these abilities anew. Same story,
different setting. The third movie should have been about
him discovering that he had escaped one facade, but had not yet reached
the surface. The conclusion would have meant that he was searching
for the source of the global subterfuge. Where this could have lead
may have been any number of things. What the Matrix v.1.0 and 2.0
could have represented or what purpose they served could have been dealt
with in any number of ways. Personally, I would have enjoy something
daring on the part of the filmmakers, something akin to the third act of
Spielberg and Kubrick's A.I. (which, admittedly, left a lot to be
desired overall). But maybe I'm just in a Matrix. In a few
months the theaters will -surprise!- release "The Matrix Redux" and we'll
find out that Chapter 3 was all just another dream sequence and
were deluded. Somebody unplug me!
The End. I
thought the fight was to "free minds." The only concession made to
this previously main goal of the entire story cycle was the final
conversation between the Oracle and Architect, an incidental, "Oh, they'll
be freed." This is after the implied foreshadowing of the power plants,
the very symbol of humanity's enslavement. "Anti-climax" is an understatement.
you think about it, all in all, this was in many ways
a mirror of the
Star Wars trilogy, both in the good and the bad.
The same could be said for both: The second film had the most variety,
offered the greatest promise, the best action and romance, but we'll all
have a special place in our hearts for the first movie of the series.
in both series the third film squandered nearly everything it inherited
from the second chapter. For one thing, it went off on a dead-end
detour from the main plot for the heroine to rescue the hero (Trinity for
Neo as with Leia for Han at Jabba's Palace). As with Jedi,
the main cast gets the weaker, more pretentious material as when Neo visits
Yoda... er, the Oracle to learn the truth before heading off to confront
the Big Bad Guy. In the meantime, for better or for worse, the best
material of the film (the battlefield scenes in Zion!) was entirely in
the hands of the supporting cast (Yeah, Han and Leia try to pick a freaking
lock while Lando and some freak named Nien Nunb get to fly the Falconinto
the new Death Star!). Indeed, in this film Morpheus, who was a principal
character for the first two films, falls into a supporting role alongside
Niobe. She and the other Zionites were the only payoff from the enormous
set-up of the second chapter. At least it wasn't a rehash of the
first one as Jedi was. And there weren't any Ewoks.
you can probably guess, I loved Reloaded, which is where
so much of my disappointment stems with regard to Revolutions.
I think the second film will eventually be regarded as the artistic triumph
of the series. Yes, the first movie was very innovative, but like
Wars, it matured in the second installment. It will take a while
for that consensus to emerge, but I predict it eventually will. Empire
Strikes Back initially felt a similar backlash, particularly since
it ended on a downer, but twenty years later every film aficionado recognizes
this to be fact.
back to Revolutions,to
give credit where it's due, a good point of this film is the cross-over
of Smith into the real world. I would liked to have seen this develop
beyond a whacko character who inexplicably cuts himself and such, but I
realize time was a constraint. However, the plausibility of the Smith
infiltration of the real world worrying the Machines is a little hard to
swallow given that he's "only human," to borrow from their mantra.
I have stated repeatedly though this litany of disgust, I had really expected
to represent the set-up for a much more intelligent follow-up. As
bad The Phantom Menace was, one thing that paradoxically made it
a better film (and at least one other major critic made this point) is
that Attack of the Clones made you view the entire first film as
the premise on which the second was built. Given how difficult to
follow Episode II was with all the different characters and competing factions,
having the first film under the audience's belt allowed easier viewing.
This helped you to appreciate the lack of action in Phantom Menace,
I'll be the first to say that nothing can ever excuse the
poor direction, acting, or dialogue!
total detour here... There is an interesting bit
in the original Matrix that I have never heard anyone pick up on.
Then again, I rarely read any online essays/newsgroups/etc. about movies,
so who can say if I'm alone on this. In the first film it is vaguely
implied that Cypher was a previous attempt to find the Messiah Neo was
to prove to be (or maybe... depending on what you read into the latter
installments). This explains the flippant attitude he has toward
Neo as this is a guy who might very well be who he never was. Further,
Trinity was destined to fall in love with the One, so, anticipating Cypher
was the One, she previously lead a failed relationship with him.
This provides the motive for his betrayal. Such understated character
histories were lacking in the sequels.
opinion of the Matrix series is that they practically should have written
themselves. Not that I'm saying they were formulaic, quite the opposite
in fact! The premise itself is so far outside of the proverbial box
that it practically escapes all of the trappings of conventional storytelling.
In mean, if you've got a virtual world, you can do anything.
Say you want new characters to show up... they do, time and space mean
ran across and interesting story treatment for Revolutions over
It isn't perfect by any stretch (e.g., it fails to correct the atrocity
that was the Trainman chapter of the film), but it represents an alternative
history to the one we all know and hate. If anyone has any alternate
scripts, please send them in to me or point me to them online. Email