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Matrix Reloaded

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[NOTE: This review is by Nyghtfall for reviews @ different strings and is reprinted here with permission.]

In 1999, a movie was released that would garner a cult following that hasn’t stopped growing since. That movie was The Matrix. The movie combined gravity-defying martial arts, over-the-top, never-before seen special effects, and a premise that proved resoundingly effective in inducing a cerebral wet dream for philosophy junkies.

What is The Matrix? Put simply, it is that which we perceive as reality, and that reality is nothing more than a dream world concoted by super, artificially intelligent machines, in an effort to keep us oblivious to the truth:

Our bodies are being used as a natural power source to keep the machines alive, hundreds of years in the future, from what we are being led to believe is present day 2003. That which we perceive as our physical bodies is nothing more than a digital representation of our physical selves. Worse, we were never actually born. We were grown and harvested.

Remove the veil that is The Matrix, and we see the world for what it truly is: A post-apocolyptic landscape ruled by machines.

I have lost count of the number of times I’ve watched my DVD copy of The Matrix. It is absolutely that good.

Fast forward four years later, and The Matrix Reloaded has arrived at last. The movie picks up 6 months after the events of the first film. Several hundred more people have been ‘unplugged’ from the Matrix, and the machines are now boring down toward Zion – the only remaining human city on Earth, located several miles under the surface – in a final attempt to destroy Zion, and exterminate the human race once and for all.

The action takes several minutes to pick up, but once it does, the eye candy is delivered in spades. Unfortunately, the eye candy is about the only thing The Matrix Reloaded has going for it. Worse, it leaves one feeling a sense of been-there-done-that, which winds up inadvertantly lifting the veil from the script to reveal plot holes that are too blatant to be ignored. To add insult to injury, the plot holes can be traced back to the original film. We were simply too dazzled by the special effects to notice them:

  • Injuries in the Matrix cause injuries in real life: If you want to break my leg or rupture my internal organs, you have to hit me with something.
  • Déjà vu: During one scene in The Matrix, Neo sees a cat walk by, then sees the exact same event again, like an instant replay, and says, “Déjà vu.” It is then explained that déjà vu is a glitch in the Matrix.

    Déjà vu is a wholly mental phenomenon; an odd sense that you’ve been somewhere or done or seen something before, when you know you couldn’t possibly have. It is not the repeated perception of something.

    Additionally, since the Matrix only controls sensory perceptions, not thoughts, real déjà vu couldn’t possibly be a glitch in the Matrix.
  • If one can violate the rules of the Matrix by simply willing it, then the machines are terrible software engineers: In any decent client-server system, all security is done on the server side, where actions attempted by clients are carefully checked against their list of allowable actions. If the Matrix was properly configured, the physics-defying antics of Neo and his friends would be quite impossible.
  • The Matrix is our false reality: The purpose of the Matrix is to convince us that what we perceive as reality is truly reality. Nothing is real, yet, we cannot possibly know that until we are ‘unplugged’. To that end, one significant question demands an answer that we have yet to be given: Why do none of the earth-shattering, over-the-top action sequences that take place within the Matrix seem to have any visible effect on the reactions of those civilians who are still part of the system?

    Imagine yourself on a freeway one morning, and you see a well-groomed man in a three-piece suit climb out of a car and leap onto the hood of another, competely crushing the front end of the car, causing it to flip over several times, resulting a multi-car collision. Would that not cause considerable upset among other civilians traveling on the same highway?

    Clearly, it’s not a case of people being conditioned to accept such extraordinary feats as normal, because when Neo was first unplugged, one of the primary tasks he had to accomplish was to learn to believe that he could perform such super-human feats while in the Matrix. If these feats were thought to be routine by the people living in the Matrix though unaware of it (ie those who’ve not yet been unplugged) – then there would be no need for someone to develop the belief that they can do anything since they would already assume that they could.

Finally, and briefly, I found Reloaded a far too preachy, and meandered too long on some of the philosophical concepts. While I didn’t find it difficult to wrap my head around some of those concepts, there were several occasions during the movie that I found myself thinking, “Ok, I get the point! Move on!”

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Reloaded, and am looking forward to the conclusion of the trilogy, but it’s definitely not the Sci-Fi/Action blockbuster of the year that I was hoping it would be.

It’s currently rated at around 73% fresh at rottentomatoes.com. I would concur with that.

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About thorswitch

  • trinitys sister

    The Matrix and Matrix reloaded were absolutely fantastic in every was possible. The Matrix revolutions?- not so much…
    I wanted to see a fab film, not a lord of the rings and terminator rival. Not top noch at all. the only way to remedy the faults of the 3rd matrix, is to make a better 4th one, rounding up all the unanswered questions.

  • 1. No argument there. I can understand in theory the idea that somebody might die if unplugged abruptly – though even that is a stretch, but the internal bleeding stuff is a little silly.

    2. Have to disagree with you here, though. Within our world, déjà vu is a wholly mental phenomenon. In fact, I recently read an article that said some researchers believe that it is caused when one ear hears something a fraction of a second before the other and the brain doesn’t sort it out as the same sound, providing an instant of disorientation and a vague feeling that we’ve experienced the moment before. However, the general idea within the framework of the movie is that when Agents change things, they do so by essentially making a copy of things as they are, tweaking them however they wish, and then overwriting reality by putting that copy back into place. Things like a cat would be part of what they made a copy of, and would therefore be repeated when they overwrote the original. It’s not exactly what we think of as déjà vu, but one can easily see how it might be seen as such by the inhabitants of the matrix.

    3. And yet, most multiplayer network games have exactly the same “poor” design you criticize, leading to cheating by devous clients. There are technical concerns, after all. However, even assuming a relatively well-designed system, the general idea so far (might be ruined by the 3rd movie) is that there is something special about Neo. He is able to somehow access the server routines where others can’t. I’m a geek, so I don’t like brushing this stuff off, but I can see how this might work. Let’s postulate that there are reasons why the matrix is bendable, starting with the fact that this isn’t a truly client/server system, and run with it.

    4. People did freak out, as I remember. The lady who spotted the burly brawl dropped her groceries in shock, before she was… well, I won’t spoil it. People on the freeway might have easily been oblivious to action happening behind them or above them, and many of the people I see on the freeway would have taken even rather strange behavior like a motorcycle driving the wrong way not as something supernatural or odd in a life-changing way, but just as a crazy idiot trying to kill herself. In fact, I remember noting that cars did react to Trinity weaving in and out by swerving away from her, and the scene with the crushed car did in fact stop pretty much all cars behind it, no?

    I’ll watch it again with this in mind, but I think traffic did react pretty reasonably. Remember that most people would have missed the moment of the jump, and seen it as a normal, really bad, pileup.

    As a semi-unrelated point that also addresses your point #4 just a little bit, remember in the first movie’s agent training program where Morpheus and Neo were walking along a crowded sidewalk? People walked around Morpheus, but bumped into Neo. Apparently Morpheus knew how to tweak their awareness just a little. In this movie, people walk around Morpheus, Neo and Trinity. He’s learned the trick. That could also help to explain why three people in dark leather (or a cassock, in Neo’s case) walking into a nice restaurant didn’t raise too many eyebrows.

  • adam

    ever heard of a little thing called fiction, it aint meant to be real you bunch of geeks