It’s been four years coming, and so, what’s the word on THE MATRIX RELOADED?
Words: Miles Fielder
he question you should be asking yourself is not:
'ls Tlte Matrix Reloaded a good film'." The question you should be asking is: ‘How good is
The Matrix Reloaded'." And you already know the answer to that question — you just haven't realised it yet. liour years ago Andy and Larry Wachowski wrote and directed the cyberpunk science-fiction thriller. The .ilatrix. Combining Western theology with liastern philosophy. comic-book plotting with martial-arts action. plundering everyone from Alfred Hitchcock to Lewis Carol]. The Matrix took ‘popcorn cinema' to the next level. The Wachowskis' film also showcased spectacular and highly innovative special effects. most notably the ‘bullet time‘ sequences in which characters appeared frozen in space while the camera span giddily about them. The film was an enormous success.
Sequels. then. were inevitable. That said. the \\'achowskis maintain they always envisioned a film trilogy. There are three films. true (The .ilatrlx Revolutions opens in November). However. with Reloaded and Revolutions filmed at the same time and literally split into two (Reloaded ends mid-frame with the legend: ‘To be continued'). it’s debatable whether we’ll be watching a trilogy or two films. the second twice as long as the first and released in two parts.
Nevertheless. the franchise has grown larger than the sum of the films. Prior to the release of Reloaded. the first of nine Japanese anime spin-off short films. The Flight of the ()st'rt's. was previewed in cinemas. ()st'ris. and the other eight animes are released on DVD next month. while fans can also Enter the .llatrix via the computer game of the satne name.
Beyond the marketing and merchandising. The Matrix has entered pop-culture consciousness. The line uttered by Keanu Reeves (‘1 know kung fu‘) is quoted in pubs and playgrounds the world over. while the ‘bullet time' innovation has been endlessly plagiarised
26 THE LIST 22 May—‘3 Jane 2333
The ultra- complex fight between Neo and 100 Agents Smiths is nothing short of gobsmacking’
You'll believe a dude can fly
(and beautifully parodicd in Shrek). .-\ll of which means. although the franchise has permeated our minds and plundered our wallets. pressures on for the next. much more expensive instalment. to perform at the box office. So. how good is The Matrix Iv’e/oaded'.’ Well. it suffers from sequel syndrome. aka the law of diminishing returns. Second time around we know what the Matrix is (a virtual prison for humans created by machines to obscure the truth that in a post apocalyptic future some I()() years hence mankind has become a slave race) and we've seen how cool ‘bullet time' is. In terms of storytelling. Reloaded fails to maintain the pacing of the original. Some lengthy exposition explaining the machine‘s plan to burrow to the centre of the earth to destroy the last human enclave. Zion. bogs down the beginning of the film. And rather cheeky. and not a little confusing. are storytelling abridgements some of the footage filmed for Reloaded's climax. during which .\'eo (Reeves). Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne). Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and their gang of hacker freedom fighters mount an assault on a skyscraper containing the Matrix mainframe. appears only in the [inter the .ilatrlx computer
('riticisms aside. however. there‘s plenty to impress the eye in Reloaded (and so: 0... ). The martial arts tights. choreographed by Chinese master Yuen \Vo Ping and computer enhanced. find their /enith in a battle between the now super- powered .\'eo and his nemesis. Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving). who has found a way to clone himself. The ultra-complex fight between .\'eo and l()() Smiths is nothing short of gobsmacking. Then there's the freeway car chase. involving mortal combat atop a speeding 18 wheeler. which likewise raises the bar on spectacle cinema.
It was inevitable that Reloaded would lack the freshness of the original. and just as inevitable that it showcases an stunning evolution in special effects. But then you knew that. didn't you'.’
The Matrix Reloaded opens Fri 23 May with previews from Thu 22 May. See listings and index for details. Thanks to GNER for travel to London. Contact 08547 225 255 or visit www.gner.co.uk
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THE SUPERB SOUNDING Glasgow World Film Festival 2004 is about to approach commercial sponsors for support. if you can help financially or otherwise contact allanfoster©movietraveller. co.uk
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THE SHORT FILM showcase. the Blue Room. is back at the Cameo Cinema, Edinburgh on Monday 2 June, 6.30pm. Full details are available on www.edinburghmediabase. com. Don't miss out seeing the newest work from the next generation of Scottish filmmakers.