Sunday, May 18, 2003

I'm of a few minds about The Matrix Reloaded. The first hour or so is about as deadening as cinema can get, with a bunch of newly-introduced characters that we don't care about who don't get to do anything in this movie (presumably they will in the next) but get to say and do lots of uninteresting things for much, much longer than the audience wants them to.

And then there is this bizarre scene of the world's largest mosh pit intercut with the most obtusely-filmed sex scene in the history of cinema, all going on beyond any possible audience interest to a factor of ten. So when, as the second half of the film gets going, and the film suddenly leaps to life, it's a rude shock to those of us who are still awake.

Mind you, the film makes far too little sense. It is nearly impossible to figure out which of the new characters is working for whom at any given time, and by the end of the film I came up with five distinct factions opposed to each other: 1) The machines who control the Matrix 2) The human rebels who oppose the machines 3) The Hugo Weaving "Smith" character who seems to have set up shop for himself 4) The "Merovingian" character, a decadent aesthete who nonetheless has the excellent taste to dress Monica Bellucci in skin-tight polyethylene 5) Bill and Ted, or at least it seems that way (every Keanu movie, no matter how serious, feels to a degree like a Bill and Ted movie:"Bill and Ted are stranded on a bus with a bomb"; "Bill and Ted comfort a dying Charlize Theron"; "Bill and Ted discover that reality is a computer-generated construct.") .

But, damn, the visual beauty of this film is at times overwhelming. And the three big setpiece fights in the second half of the film--Keanu's Neo vs. an infinite number of Hugo Weavings (at this point the Smith character reminds me of the little kid who stalks John Cusack in Better Off Dead with the constant demand for "two dollars."), the fight with the Oracle's bodyguard, and the car chase with the Merovingian's phasing hitmen--are breathtaking, and I've never seen anything onscreen like them.

So is it worth seeing? Not only is it worth seeing, you can even come in halfway in and not miss anything.

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