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Ralsina.Me — Roberto Alsina's website

Late movie review: Matrix Revolutions

Al­though it opened here (Buenos Aires, Ar­genti­na) at the ex­act same time as al­most ev­ery­where else, here's a late re­view of the movie.

I liked it. I have read the crit­ic slam it, and you know what? I un­der­stand them. But I liked it any­way.

Now, why is that, and why don't I slam it as well? The prob­lem crit­ics had with Ma­trix: Rev­o­lu­tions is one of ex­pec­ta­tion­s.

They ex­pect­ed it to be a movie that lift­ed Ma­trix: Reload­ed in­to a mean­ing­ful and wor­thy se­quel of the orig­i­nal film. That is of course im­pos­si­ble for many rea­son­s.

The main one is that it's 2003, not 1998. In 2003 lame movies like Bad Boys II have spe­cial ef­fects that are about as good as The Ma­trix's were. We are jad­ed to them.

In fac­t, we are not on­ly jad­ed to spe­cial ef­fects that were spe­cial five years ago, we are jad­ed to sur­prise it­self, like if show­ing us some­thing new was an old thing it­self.

So, even when there is a se­quence that should awe us (like, say, the slow mo­tion punch in­to Smith's face, look how you can see the fist push­ing in­di­vid­u­al rain­drop­s, the face de­form­ing un­der the pres­sure, the de­tail of the im­pres­sion of the knuck­les... do you know how that was done? I don't!)... well, awe is old news.

So, I went to the the­ather ex­pect­ing a movie that would be a fine ac­tion movie, with im­pres­sive sight­s, lame act­ing (not a de­cent ac­tor in the bunch, ex­cept Lawrence Fish­burne, and he was ap­par­ent­ly di­rect­ed not to ac­t, but to look se­ri­ous and im­por­tan­t), some sopho­moric bab­ble, and some kung fu (I want­ed more ser­aph, though).

In that lev­el, it work­s. In mak­ing us all be five years younger, it did­n't.

And to those who said the end­ing just drops the ball of the sto­ry thread­s, well, guys, this was a chris­tian para­ble, Neo died for the sins of the pro­gram­s, he was not the christ fig­ure of the hu­man­s, but of the ma­chines.

The ro­bots in the city are the ro­man­s, the or­a­cle and oth­er "good bot­s" are is­raelites, the ar­chi­tect is Herod, Smith is the ro­man le­gions op­press­ing the is­raelites, and Neo's mes­sian­ic "death" (he did­n't die, but he is shown in a cru­ci­fic­tion-­like pose, and does­n't move) is the sec­ond com­ing an­nounc­ing the rais­ing of the new tem­ple, by turn­ing the ro­mans against their own le­gions and ush­er­ing peace on earth.

And the hu­mans in Zion are ver­min in Jerusalem's sew­er sys­tem. Just ask the Merovin­gian (He, I have no idea who he is in the anal­o­gy, I just thought this as I was writ­ing, be hap­py if it holds for an­oth­er 30 sec­onds ;-) Ok, he is Mary Mag­dalene's pim­p.

See, that's the kind of thing the Ma­trix tril­o­gy does, it in­duces oth­er­wise rea­son­able peo­ple in­to try­ing to shoe­horn ran­dom da­ta in­to pat­terns it does­n't fit (at least I tried to make a slight­ly orig­i­nal one).

That not spe­cial­ly cool qual­i­ty is shared with oth­er up­per-me­diocre­-crust en­ter­tain­men­t, such as "Catch­er in the rye". While amus­ing, its pro­duce is, of course most­ly pedes­tri­an.

The trick here, I think, is one used by peo­ple like Berl­itz, writ­ing about the mag­ic pro­por­tions of the pyra­mid­s. If you have a large set of num­ber­s, and al­low your­self some free­dom to tweak, they will match some of the hun­dred of "im­por­tan­t" num­bers in na­ture.

My height * 1000000 ~ the dis­tance to the moon. I must be re­al­ly im­por­tan­t!

The Ma­trix movies have dozens or hun­dreds of nuggets of things we rec­og­nize from some­where else, usu­al­ly on­ly slight­ly veiled, so we can feel smart about un­veil­ing them, and smarter still about con­nect­ing them.

Well, like the size of the stones in the pyra­mid­s, you can plug those nuggets in­to al­most any struc­ture you wan­t, as long as you are will­ing to stand a few holes and forced fit­ting... and man, did that get old quick af­ter the first movie or not?

So, that's why it did­n't work on the philo­soph­i­cal lev­el: we are tired of it, we on­ly had gas for one of those movies.

Add that to the spe­cial-­ef­fect­s-are-not-spe­cial-any­more syn­drome, and you have a recipe for a movie that, while ok, can't work.

And that, friend­s, is why it did­n't.