In watching the three discs in order, over all, I see a progressive shift from realism to fantasy. Yes, it’s ironic, since the premise of the original Matrix is the most fantastic to grasp of the three. The fact that they’re all science fiction does not matter, audiences will still relate to car chases, explosions, fight scenes, and battle scenes whether the participants are computer programs or real folks.
But that’s all plot. This transition I refer to is shown in the direction and filming style. One scene in particular illustrates this, the Burly Brawl from The Matrix Reloaded. Neo has just finished another cryptic but not unpleasant visit with The Oracle; she’s just given him instructions on how to save Zion via the Keymaker. As Neo is trying to digest this information, Smith suddenly appears in the courtyard. After a moment of expository chat, Smith begins to multiply, and attack Neo. Beginning with just a few Smiths, and ending with at least a hundred, the scene is more than just an orgy of fighting motion. It provides a real glimpse into the Wachowskis’ sensibilities as anime and comic book mavens.
During this fight, Neo is holding his own, until Smith calls for “More!” And more come, in an unreal and relentless wave; these clones nearly drown Neo by the sheer intensity of their numbers. Right away, this battle of The One against The Many is unreal; an Agent of Smith’s capabilities might need one or two more assistants at most, not the dozens that keep appearing. So Neo fights on, and as the battle continues, not only do the visuals become more toy-like, the sounds too become cartoonish. When Neo throws one Smith into a pile of other Smiths, it’s not groans or grunts you hear, it’s the sound of bowling pins being knocked down. I swear no one would be surprised if Neo uttered the Roadrunner’s trademark “Beep-beep!”
And this is where many viewers missed the point. I’ve read their criticisms of this scene – they take offense at the peek they were just given into this concept, this inside joke, if you will. The Wachowskis’ use of computer-aided cutting edge technology is inherent in all the Matrix variations – it’s a given. But there’s a point during the brawl where what we see is so obviously fake, merging into tongue-in-cheek symbolism that we realize the intent; to never let us forget half the fun of the story is in the telling.
Part 4 will cover the DVD Extras. Look for it soon.