Film Review: The Matrix: Reloaded

It’s hard to tell how best to write this review. I’m trying to write them from the point of view of not reviewing the films per-se, after all as I said in yesterday’s review of The Matrix, there are plenty of reviews, a lot better than I can produce, already out there, but rather I’m trying to review the trilogy from my feelings watching it now in 2014.

And while I thought the original film has dated badly to the point that it no almost feels no longer relevant, the second installment – The Matrix Reloaded – feels like it’s become a failure of it’s own success. You actually get an overwhelming sense that what you are watching is not the middle part of a trilogy but rather an entire film of poor editing. The final two films in the trilogy were released within 6 months of each other and this just reaffirms my sense that this film, is not in fact a pre-planned continuation of the story but rather the The Wachowski Brothers, unable to cut enough of the second film out to make it purely a sequel and have instead, turned what would have been one very long film into two shorter ones.

This lack of editorial viciousness means that the film seems to have lost any sense of direction. It feels like complete and utter filler. The story is disconnected too much from the original film to really enhance the foundations on which it’s built without the third film – The Matrix Revolutions – to support it. Which it obviously isn’t able to do having been split in half like this. This results in the film becoming more of a stand alone story progressing to drive a larger and larger wedge between what went before and what you know now, is to come. I’d go as far as to say, this film, unintentionally, split The Matrix Trilogy into 2 distinct parts with the first film isolated from the second two.

This split means that you end up examining the film almost as if you were entering the world of the Matrix for the first time. And it’s then the real problems start to appear, and sadly, the problems are not hidden well. The first problem, and for a follow up film to something as revolutionary as The Matrix, is that they dropped the baton hard this time round with regards there use of special effects. The Matrix arrived just as we were entering the computer driven CGI world we now inhabit and so, it’s use in the film is limited. Computers were used more to enhance physical shots and techniques (like bullet time) rather than create entirely shots and sequences with no human involvement at all.

The Matrix Reloaded tried to embrace the post millennium new “computer powered” world, while still attempting to push the boundaries of possibility once again. This time it pushed solely, the boundaries of the CGI world and while I am sure that in 2003 the special effects and full CGI generated action sequences looked great, with CGI becoming ever more lifelike and with an increasing ability to pass unnoticed in cinema today, the breaks between what was real and what was created stand out of this film in a way that does more than just detract, it makes you mentally switch off because it feels like your being cheated, like they are almost making fun of you, that you’re too blind to notice.

Even if you ignore the cinematic problems the attempt to be cutting edge has caused to the film as it’s aged, there is another problem that I cannot get past and forgive and it relates to the plot and the portrayal of last human world. To Zion. As I said, this film feels completely unrelated to the original and Zion epitomises this. In the first film Zion is described as a underground hive world, industrialised and dirty. This is reinforced by the ships, the clothes, the way of life. Everything is simplistic, unrefined, basic. They live with a “make do and mend” approach where survival comes at any cost. Nothing is wasted, nothing is passed up. And so, with the development of Zion within the plot this time around, this crude and primitive imagery needs to be continued. And it is, until one fleeting moment, at the start of the film, when the ships start to arrive back and suddenly the equivalent of “port control” is shown on screen. A futuristic, clinical touch screen room, everyone dressed in white, where a drop of dust would be too much. It is beyond out of place. It is just wrong.

I should point out though that The Matrix Reloaded is not all bad though, because they have learnt one lesson from the original film! One of my criticisms was that the “human” technology looked and appeared outdated. It felt old and almost antique. This time around they’ve gone more space age with it’s appearance and as a result, it’s less main stream and therefore, less memorable. You could almost believe the phone used this time around would still feel right in 2014 as it did in 2003!

Tonight sees me finish the trilogy and bid Morpheus, Neo and Zion farewell once again. So check back tomorrow for my thoughts on Revolutions and let me know your opinions on Reloaded – do you agree with me?

6 out of 10 stars (6 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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