3 June 2003 - Somewhere between Berlin and Vienna
Matrix Reloaded

Aha. Finally. Three weeks after it opened in Moscow, I finally got a chance to see it. I didn't see it in Moscow or St Petersburg because Mama doesn't like Keanu Reeves. I didn't see it in Scandanavia because it was expensive (about RM40 for a ticket).

I almost didn't get to see it in Berlin because almost everything in Germany is in German. All the TV programs are in German. All the plays, the musicals, the newspapers, the magazines, most of the signs, the menus, you name it, it's in German. Subsequently, most of the films have been dubbed in German too.

They seem to be well done. I had the chance to watch Star Wars I: The Phantom Menance in a showroom and it was the German version. The guy dubbing Qui Gon Jin really sounded like Liam Neeson. It was a very impressive performance. Even Jar Jar Binks didn't sound as annoying.

But no matter how well done it is, I still am completely and thoroughly against voice-over dubbing. The inflection and manner of speech is part of the acting itself and to take that away from a film and replace it with something else is simply butchering a film. You
could argue that sub-titling also spoils a film, but surely less so than dubbing. I also have the same bugbear about translated works. I told my mum that I haven't read Dr Zhivagho because I don't read Ruussian. She was amazed, but surely, it's not the same thing to read a translated version. The author's words have been changed.

But we're moving away from the main point, and that is I want to say that I think that Matrix Reload is a very good film. There are also a lot of inidivdual things I could point to that I really hate, but overall, it's good. Even if it does have Keanu Reeves in it.

It's another sequel in a year of sequels. We've already had X-Men 2, we're going to get Terminator 3, the big one at the end of the year is The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King AND (as if it weren't enough) another Matrix sequel, Matrix Revolution.

The story picks up six months after the end of the last one. It begins with another awesome Trinity (Carrie Anne "tight wetsuit looks good on her" Moss) action scene where she single-handedly takes on many, many guys in a slow-mo camera-panning kung-fu fist-fight that the original initiated and is now standard in all action movies (and yes, she does look good in her threads).

Neo (Keanu "man, when will he gain more than one expression" Reeves), Trinity and Morpheus (Lawrence "listen to my elocution" Fishburn) are still running around the Matrix trying to free the people in it and save Zion, the last bastion of humanity in the real world.

Neo still has his super-powers that he discovered at the end of the last movie but now people keep making it clear that there's no point having the ability to fly and fight like you're on hyperspeed if you don't know what you're going to do with it. Morepheus is convinced that Neo is the One, but what on Earth (or on Matrix) is the One meant to do?

Well, this movie is about that, and that main plot is very well done. As before, there is a twist, but it all builds up so nicely to it, it works well.

The other story is Neo and Trinity's burgeoning love story and the introduction of Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Locke (Harry J. Lennix). These characters provide some tension and it's very probable that they will have a major part to play in the third installment.

Also back is Agent Smith(Hugo Weaving), but... well, there's more to him now than before. I shall leave it at that and let you find out.

Most of the action scenes are great and I never really get tired of watching them fight. There's so much effort put into choreographing them, just sit back and enjoy them as works of art.

The whole movie is stylish. It isn't innovative, but long black overcoats and sunglasses will probably never go out of style. And there's something about fighting while keeping a deadpan look on your face that's just, well, cool.

(I've just realised that the Matrix owes a lot of its look to the Terminator series - black threads, cool shades and that deadpan look.)

What I do have a big problem with is the use of computer-generated Neos for some of the action sequences, especially his fight with Agent Smiths. The problem is that it looks computer-generated. I know that a lot of the graphics in the film are created on a processor somewhere, but for goodness sakes, guys, it's got to look real.

When they look good, it works great. For example, the shots in a chase scene where the motorcycle swerves in and out of traffic must have been computer-generated to some extent, but it looks so good it's a thrill. But some other shots just look baloney. I hate them. They spoil the whole movie. If I could, I would edit out whole sections of fight scenes simply because they annoy me. Snip, snip, snip.

Another thing that annoys me are the long stretches of discourse that don't move the plot forward at all but seem to be just there emphasise how much the Wzarchowski Brothers (who produced, wrote and directed the series) know about philosophy. There is a point when being clever is just showing off. It's good to break up the action, but next time guys, try some comedy instead of existentialism.

However, all in all, these are not major problems and the movie works well enough for me. There are some very good scenes, especially the one after Neo goes through the door to find out what exactly it is he has to do (a lot of doors in this one, by the way). Also, just about every Morpheus scene where he spouts theology and struts and poses is actually great. It could have been bad, but it works with Lawrence Fishburn.

The initial reviews to this said that because the original set such high standards and expectations, this version just had more of the same, and there was nothing new.

Well, as far as I'm concerned, it just has to be good enough, and I enjoyed it enough to look forward to the next one this December. Even if it does have Keanu Reeves in it.


posted on Monday, June 09, 2003 - permalink
Comments: Post a Comment