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Revisiting The Matrix

"This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes."

March 1999 I went to the movies with my best friend.   We went to go see this little movie that was getting a LOT of buzz directed by a pair of filmmaking siblings known as the Wachowski Brothers.  I was not unfamiliar with their work, having seen their independent movie BOUND a number of years prior.  That movie was notorious for its love scene with actresses Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly.  However, its pacing and the surprisingly tight screenplay were more than enough to hold my attention after the aforementioned scene.

This new movie however was being described as unlike anything that has been done.  What you need to understand is that 1999 was the year that Star Wars was primed and ready to break down the wall of the summer blockbuster.  However, the Wachowskis and their movie THE MATRIX beat Star Wars to the punch.   I was blown away by the action scenes, the insane concepts presented in the movie, and the special effects that introduced a new brand of effects called "Bullet Time."  My cinematic world was shattered.  I became less and less of a Star Wars fan, which at the time was unheard of for me. This is not to say I didn't go see Episode 1.  Far from it, seven times in the theater over the span of the summer pretty much assured my Star Wars fandom.  I still have a love for Star Wars but that is another story for another time.


I think what I love the most about The Matrix is the fact that there is a lot of fantasy involved but the characters all believe in what is going on and as a result, the audience does as well.  The idea of downloading the collective knowledge of Martial Arts by inserting a needle into one's brain is considerably unheard of but it works in this movie.  And after seeing what Keanu Reeves' character Neo experiences in the movie, the more Martial Arts and weapons knowledge, the better!

The Matrix quickly became one of the top movies and  is widely considered to be one of the greatest sci-fi films of all time.  Sequels were inevitable for the number five top grossing film of the year.  The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions were both released in 2003 and were critically panned.  The group that went with me to go see Reloaded hated it so much that I actually had to apologize to them because of how bad it was.  Sure, the fight sequences were well done but the story and exposition were presented so poorly that the audiences felt alienated by the filmmakers.   Me, being a Matrix fanboy felt betrayed.  Even after watching the movies back to back on DVD, I found little merit in the sequels.  It felt as if everything that was established in the first film was instantly invalidated by the first two movies.


I stopped watching the series as a whole.  I was not able to watch the first movie without the other two immediately following.  I found the need to distance myself from the series so that I could properly appreciate the first movie as much as I did the first time I saw it.  I still can't watch the other two movies in the series.  They are really that bad in my opinion.  I know that there are those who love the other two movies.  I respect that.   Unfortunately, they are very much in the minority.  

I think the main reason that the sequels failed was that the filmmakers tried to explain the world that we were seeing in the movies.  I have no problem with explanation but not when it takes places in slow, increasingly dull scenes of overlong exposition.   The Matrix Reloaded was the first of the two sequels and the anticipation could not have been higher.  When it came out to lukewarm reviews, my faith in the movie was not shaken.  Then I saw the movie.   Boy was I wrong.  The Matrix Revolutions followed later that year and by that point, I simply did not care anymore.  When I saw the movie in theaters, I was left confused and disappointed.  While it was a better film than the middle act of the story, it still felt wanting. My love for the series was shaken enough that I felt no need to revisit the films.      


It was at least five years since I watched the Matrix let alone its sequels.  It might be more.  I was so jaded by the last two films, that I simply would not watch any of the films for a long time.  As luck would have it, we were at my sister-in-law's house for a party last April and the first Matrix happened to be playing on the TV.  I was having trouble taking my eyes off the movie for some reason.  Maybe it was because it was my first time seeing the movie on an HD TV  (which made this movie look spectacular by the way) or maybe it was my first time seeing the movie in a very long time.  No matter the cause, the stage was set for my interest to once again be piqued by this movie.

I finally had the chance to revisit the first film in full when I picked up at a store on blu ray.  I had the movie in my possession for several weeks until I was finally able to carve out some time to sit down and watch it.  I am glad I did because it continues to be after more than ten years of release a finely crafted film with s compelling story, insanely cool action and effects work that still holds up even now.  I am glad that I was able to revisit this first movie in the series and while the sequels do not hold up anywhere near as well as they should, the first Matrix is worth a revisit or even a first time if you have never seen it.


Very neat, sir. Yeah, talk about a movie that couldn't be destroyed by sequels.

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