Year of The Matrix

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I maybe a little late, but I just recently heard about Enter The Matrix – The Video Game. From what it says, though it is not essential to Matrix Reloaded, in order to get the full effect of the Matrix, one has to play through this 20-30 hour game. However, that’s not the only outside thing you have to do to get the "full effect", as the Wachowski brothers expected you to go watch Dreamcatcher to see the Final Flight of the Osiris, then log on the web to catch 4 other episodes of the Animatrix. Oh but there’s more. 2 weeks after the Matrix Reloaded is released, they expect you to go out and buy the Animatrix DVD in order to watch the other 4 episodes not being released anywhere else. Then of course there’s the 3rd movie which comes out in about another 6 months. All of this in the name of getting the "full effect" of The Matrix. Yes the tie in of so many medias is unique, but I’m starting to get this inkling feeling that it’s less about being innovative, and possibly more about, let me see how should I put this? Milking something for all it’s worth? Sounds just about right. Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly excited about the new movie, and will probably go out and buy all of these things to get the "full effect" of course, but I just had to have my little rant. Thank you for your time.

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About Jack Wong

  • I am the only geek I know totally cold on this movie. Geez, Star Trek at it’s worst (any incarnation) was better than this. The “reason” all this was happening was ridiculous and the “no-premise premise” spoiled the eye-candy for me. The original had a better premise than Lost in Space, but fell prey to the same disdain for people who tried to follow the plot that made T2 such a disaster.

    I’m predicting that it will be the dog’s breakfast, and a smashing success.

  • Star Trek at its worst wasn’t watchable, and the logic and premise behind the Matrix are sound. In fact, I attribute the popularity of the movie to the fact that it holds up under close scrutiny, as evidenced by the philosophy section on the website. For a movie that falls apart under simple scrutiny, try Minority Report, which was still worth watching.

    The fact that you’re the only geek you know cold on the movie probably shouldn’t be seen as a badge of merit. Sometimes one person can be right and the whole world wrong. But the odds favor the explanation that you’re just missing something. 🙂

    Anyway, Reloaded is unlikely to be able to match the first philosophically. Inexcusable holes will probably open up, unresolved even in the third movie. Still, it will likely be go light-years farther than most movies in digging into “issues,” and it will likely be more consistent than almost any other movie made.

    I base that opinion on the first film, but I won’t see it until late Wednesday night, so I could be wrong.

  • “the logic and premise behind the Matrix are sound.”

    The baddies needed humans as a source of energy. Utter tripe. Indefensible. Breaks the contract of ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ because nobody should be asked to suspend that much disbelief, I don’t need to wait for the second movie to see inexcusable holes. That one is enough to dampen my interest in the future of the franchise.

    Minority Report failed in two ways for me. First, it seemed unlikely to me that they wouldn’t have shut off his security access to the building. Second, the ending didn’t have a good PKD twist, like the whole thing being in his head and the escape and ‘justice’ being completely fantasy-based. Not that that means it failed for everyone, but I would’ve liked to see a real Philip K. Dick story, not a diluted one.

  • On MR, my disappointments were bigger and more basic. It seems perfectly reasonable to me that they wouldn’t have shut off access to the building yet. It hadn’t been long. I’ve never worked at a company where everything was oriented around dismissals so much that everything was done on time when one happened. I’m sure those companies exist, but it doesn’t strike me that Pre-Crime would be that kind of place. At my company, we change passwords on most machines when someone leaves, but it takes a while for someone to get around to updating the security system. Had weeks gone by, that might be a plot hole. Within days, hardly. That you focus on such trivial things and miss out enjoying entire movies as a result is just sad. In the case of MR, you could have gotten involved more deeply with the movie and concerned yourself with bigger issues, like the paradox loop that was set up by Anderton’s chase of Leo Crow being inspired by his murder of Leo Crow which never happened, or how big baddy was setting up Leo Crow when the first thing to set the ball rolling was the ball rolling, something over which the big baddy had no control. Then the debate over the entire nature of pre-crime being dependent on a single person (Agatha) and how that wouldn’t work nationwide, or how blithely the characters dismissed the concerns of the ACLU or, well, I could go on. But to dismiss a movie over someone easily understandable as human error is just silly. If you expect perfection from movie characters, you’re bound to be disappointed in every movie you ever see. Er, besides Star Trek, of course, where nobody ever makes a mistake.

    On the coppertop issue: The assumption some people seem to have made after watching The Matrix is that humans act as some sort of perpetual energy machine, putting out more energy than they take in, thereby acting as a “source” of energy. I didn’t see it that way at all. Humans in this case act as storage – as batteries – for energy. They also act as relatively efficient converters, converting things like other humans (and other sources of food) and beleaguered sunlight and so on into energy which the matrix can use. Humans don’t have to be perfectly efficient, just more efficient than a solar panel, which is less than 10%. Or oil or natural gas, which are not renewable resources. To match the specs which humans can meet, you’d need something like bio-diesel, and now instead of becoming a question of defensibility, it becoms a question of whether an inactive human body is a more efficent source of power than, say, corn.

    The brief images presented in the film and on the website of machine “harvesting” humans much like a farm worker would harvest a corn field suggests this as well, but you might have already stopped paying attention by then.

    Even the references to humans as “batteries” or “copper-top” is telling, since a battery must be charged before it is usable. It is not a “source” of energy when considered overall, merely when considered as a consumer good, after the wasteful part of the process is done.

    Anyway, I could go on, and these are all debatable points, but you’ve dismissed them as tripe without debate, and that’s your loss. While the rest of us are enjoying one of the smarter movies made in 1999 (or before or since), you can kick back and watch Star Trek 5 again.

    Talk about indefensible! 🙂

  • The Theory

    Yes, I do believe that the Matrix franchise is a gluttonous moneyhog. That won’t stop me from seeing and enjoying Reloaded, and probably getting the Animatrix dvd.

    I have come to the realization that everything in pop culture is about $$$ and to expect one movie cult to be different is absurd.


  • You’re certainly sure what I think, aren’t you? suspension of disbelief is a personal thing, and what breaks it differs for each individual. I think you demonstrate this point very thoroughly by your reaction to MR. FWIW, IME security card and network access are shut down for a terminated employee before they are out of the meeting with the boss and HR. YMMV.

    I generally find time travel movies to be inherently flawed, and I no longer have no expectations that they will make sense. Sadly, no one will film H. Beam Piper’s Paratime and play with the idea that both futures happen. I’d rather see Malzberg or even Heinlein’s time travel stories translated to film, but Back to the Future and T2 didn’t have to worry about being internally inconsistent. MR is part of a tradition of bad time-travel movies.

    The Matrix lost me on bio energy conversion requirement for “people” to be in the mix. Why not cows? or anaerobic bacteria? Even if humans could be a source of fuel, the costs of building and maintaining the infrastructure to do so, including the matrix, seem likely to overwhelm the value of doing so.

    This is not to say that there is nothing to like about The Matrix, just that I felt that the authors undermined the entire work by adding an unnecessary and unsound foundation. It’s a “midichlorian” moment: a bogus bit of technobabble that diminishes the structure it’s supposed to be supporting. If The Matrix hadn’t been great eye-candy and well constructed and both philosophically and thematically interesting, it wouldn’t have been such a disappointment that they tanked the backstory.

    Anyway, have fun and come back and tell us how it was. I’m betting they dig a deeper hole, but I could be pleasantly surprised.

  • I said: The assumption some people seem to have made…

    You said: You’re certainly sure what I think, aren’t you?

    Obviously, the answer is “No.” Since you didn’t spell out what you think beyond a vague “The baddies needed humans as a source of energy. Utter tripe,” I could only go with that statement and nothing else. I chose to address the wider concern that I’ve heard many times, rather than a mysterious alternate concern that you might have but for some reason have not shared in two posts.

    I never said your decision to not like The Matrix was somehow “wrong,” just that it is sad that such simple things break suspension for you. Either you must not enjoy very movies, or you apply an uneven standard. I can even appreciate an uneven standard, so I hope that’s the case. 🙂

    Midichlorians ruined things for me a heck of a lot more than anything in The Matrix. That was horrendous!

    I’d love to see Paratime made into a series of movies, but the closest we’ve come in a while seems to be The One. Ack!

    Anyway, back to The Matrix. I’m not so sure that humans must be part of the recipe for bio energy, just that they are. There might be many reasons for this, some of which might (or might not) be addressed in this film. Perhaps they find value in the mental exercises in which the humans engage. Perhaps they steer the matrix so that research is done by humans within that benefits the AI without. Perhaps it is simply an emotional attachment the AI are unwilling to sever.

    You’ve gone from “ridiculous” and “indefensible” to “unnecessary and unsound” as well as “philosophically and thematically interesting,” which shows an open mind. That we can discuss the possibilities behind the premise already puts The Matrix far beyond many movies that don’t survive five seconds of mental effort while the credits roll.

    I suggest that the premise is or could be sound, if not explained in detail in a single 90 minute movie. The second movie might reinforce the premise, or it might fall apart. Most likely of all, it might leave significant chunks of explanation for the third movie. In any case, the original certainly doesn’t qualify as tripe. 🙂

  • Michael, you are not alone. I’m fairly cold to the Matrix too. I saw the first one, was impressed by the graphics, but the story was, to me, exactly like you said – full of holes. I’ll probably wind up seeing the new one at some point, but there will be no rushing involved.