ARTS

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November 6, 2003

Revolutions: some kind of sick joke? Discuss.

Chris: This is possibly the most pointless review in the long, sad history of cinema commentary. Matrix: Revolutions is going to be seen by everyone in the universe, mark the conclusion of a new cultural touchstone, and make approximately $18 trillion. Unfortunately, it is also a horrible, horrible movie. I even enjoyed the widely disparaged Reloaded, mostly for the superbly conceived and executed action scenes, but Revolutions didn't even reach the level of entertaining eye-candy. In short, the Wachowskis took away all the fun and coolness that made the first movie so great.

Garth: Grow up.

C: See, that's the thing. I really tried to relax and enjoy the film for what it was. I really, really did. But there was just too much that took me away from "being entertained" and kept smacking me across the face with reminders of how bad the script, acting, and general tone of the movie was. And hey kids, did you know that Neo is Jesus? He is. Neo is totally Jesus, and in case those of you in back missed that last point, Neo = Our Lord and Savior.

G: Are you surprised that Neo is the new JC? Does it really matter? The problem is that you went into the theater expecting to see a Film with a capital F—what you got was a flick. If this is lost on you then you need to rethink why you are going to an event movie in the first place. In a Film, a person is entitled to expect at least okay acting, writing and directing. In a flick, all that you are entitled to is entertainment. And this was an entertaining flick. The Wachowskis (two somewhat talented brothers who could NEVER have lived up to what was expected of them) filled Revolutions to the brim with completely unnecessary references to make any fan of schlock happy. I mean, they even got a couple of Wizard of Oz references in there.

C: I'm a big fan of flick-style entertainment. I'd proudly proclaim Kill Bill to be one of the best movies of the year. Almost anything with Bruce Campbell's brilliant B-film schlock is fine cinema in my book. I liked Reloaded a lot as a flick, and if all the Wachowskis had managed to do in Revolutions was finish the story and create some interesting and innovative action sequences, I would have been happy. Instead, there were only a handful of legitimately cool moments where I was actually having fun. Revolutions somehow managed to lose all the best elements of the first two movies, the "Wow, this is cool" moments, and all that was left was a sad, plodding, over-stuffed, over-determined, under-written pile of crap.

G: The Matrix series has, from its inception, been highly derivative. When it comes down to it, the Wachowskis are synthesizers. They take everything they can from everywhere they can and try and put it all together. In Revolutions, they not only cribbed from every major book, movie and television show they could, but even cribbed from themselves. Yes, it was over-determined, yes, it was over-stuffed, but it wasn't underwritten. It was over-written and under-edited, which is an important distinction.

C: Personally, I don't think Revolutions was under-edited. I didn't think it was slow, or filled with unnecessary scenes. In fact, almost everything that happened was important in some way to the plot. All of it was important, but it was also craptastic. I think you have a good point about the Wachowskis stealing their own ideas, though. Even the fight scenes, the saving grace and prime inventions of the first two movies, were unimpressive to the point that I just wanted Revolutions to be over. Could the brothers Wachowski fairly be expected to top themselves? Maybe not, but if all they offer is spectacle (as opposed to, you know, good storytelling or quality writing or skilled filmmaking), that's all I can judge, and the spectacle that Revolutions offered was strikingly lackluster.

G: First, I should explain that I meant the script was under-edited, not the film. Somebody really should have looked it over with a big red pen before they even started filming. But I guess that's why creative control isn't always the best idea with writer/directors. I don't think we're ever going to come to a conclusion at this rate. To sum up, I liked the movie for what it was: a popcorn flick with some cool effects and a bunch of B-list actors. You disliked the movie for what it was: an overwrought drama with some tame effects and a bunch of B-list actors. Speaking of B-list actors, am I the only person who thinks that Jada Pinkett-Smith is more fun to watch on screen than she probably should be? I mean, she just looked like she was having a great time the entire movie.

C: I'm not sure how much fun she was having during the movie, but she certainly is ludicrously attractive. Really, only she and Hugo Weaving's Agent Smith have any expressions besides a somber straight-face. Maybe Reeves rubbed off on the rest of the cast, but really, this might be the worst acting and writing in a Big Movie since Attack of the Clones. I really like most popcorn flicks, but I shouldn't enjoy my popcorn more than the flick. And yes, I did end up hating Revolutions for all the reasons you mentioned, but what really got me, way down in the deepest corner of my soul, was the finale. I felt like a Bible truck ran me over, then shifted into reverse and backed up over me again for good measure. There is a place for allegory in fiction, but that place isn't crammed so far down my throat that my colon is still sore.

G: You just need to let go of your gag reflex and suck it down, dude. If you didn't see the biblical allegories coming from the first one, then you weren't paying attention. And the acting wasn't all that somber. OK, it was. But so what? This movie is going to be a camp classic in 20 years, and you are going to look back on it with fondness. I mean, Keanu Reeves, with the exception of his role in Dangerous Liaisons in which he puts his head on John Malkovich's shoulder with more affection than anyone has ever put their head on someone's shoulder before or since, has never been one for emoting. That's his thing, and these are his movies, so why expect any less from his costars? I promise that you are going to look back on this movie someday and smile.

C: I was wondering when you were going to pull out the Dangerous Liaisons. But really, you're right; I might be able to laugh at this movie someday. Laugh at, not with. For now, though, I'm going to wallow in my pile of shattered dreams, and try to get the taste of the Most Painfully Blatant Christ Allegory Ever out of my mouth.

G: So to conclude. If you haven't already seen Revolutions and are going, go with low expectations and you'll leave happy. Also, go high.

C: I sure wish I had.