Monday, January 15, 2018

The Matrix (1999) (Movie Review)

     The year was 1999 and during that summer, everyone was excited about a callosal Sci-Fi Blockbuster titled “Star Wars 1: The Phantom Menace”. Who can blame us, “Star Wars” is a major franchise and the concept of a new film after so many years was beyond thrilling. However, there was another Sci-Fi blockbuster released that summer which quietly snuck in to the theaters, wasn’t part of a major franchise, yet it surpassed the new Star Wars film by a mile. When “The Matrix” premiered, there was little marketing, the trailer didn’t show much and it was mostly shrouded in mystery. All the intrigue surrounding this movie revolved solely on the question “What is the Matrix”, and no-one knew what to expect. Of course, most people know the premise today, but back then, “The Matrix” wasn’t just a hit summer movie, it was a discovery, something original and it blew everyone’s mind. To this day, “The Matrix” is proudly regarded as one of the great classics of the Sci-Fi genera, and it’s inspired a whole generation of filmmakers. Personally, it’s one of my favorite movies, and arguably it’s the film that had the biggest impact on my early teenage years. In fact, I always viewed this movie as my transition from childhood to teenager. Something you’ll notice several times in this review is that I refer to certain aspects of the film as “the best of” or “my personal favorite of”. Some would say that “The Matrix” is dated, and while it might be in parts, I still view it as a classic and an important reminder of how originality can leave an impact on a generation. 

       When a computer hacker, alias Neo, is summoned by a mysterious group leader named Morpheus, he learns that the real world isn’t what it seems. In the future, all of human kind is in-fact enslaved by machines, who are all wired to a system called The Matrix, which makes the humans believe their living normal lives in 1999, when in reality their merely vessels to feed and power the monstrous machines of the future. Morpheus leads a small resistance of people on a hover craft called the Nebuchadnezzar, and from there they hack into the machines system. In short, they aim to free human kind from their robot captures, and believe that Neo is the key that will lead them to victory. While the films concept isn’t without flaw, or is even 100% original, it’s the experience of “The Matrix” that made it so captivating. Make no mistake, while different variations of the films concept had been around for years, the overall execution of it was the most exciting action movie experience the Sci-Fi genera delivered sense “The Terminator”.

         Before I get lost in the films many details, lets quickly take a moment to talk about the characters. Keanu Reeves plays our main hero Neo, and while his delivery is hit and miss, I still view it as one of the iconic movie hero portrayals right alongside Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker. Basically, Neo is the everyday man who steps into a larger world. For this first movie it helps put the audience in his shoes, and experiencing all the wonder around him. For me, it’s his wide-eyed curiosity that makes him an enduring lead, and when he emerges as a hero in the end, I find myself cheering for him more than any other action star. One minor annoyance is that he gets branded as “The Chosen One”, in fact his name Neo is an anagram for One. It works in the contents of the story, but personally I prefer heroes who can accomplish great things on their own, without the added bonus of being a prophesied chosen one. The one good thing about his arc is that he views himself as “any other guy” up until the ending in which he discovers his true nature, and it is a genuinely triumphant moment.    

         My favorite character by far is Morpheus, who’s played brilliantly by Laurence Fishburne. He has this aura, like the master with all the answers, yet gradually we see both his humanity and vulnerability come through. In short, he just feels like the most well-rounded character. Just like with both “Star Wars” and the Harry Potter films, it’s the films iconic characters that really help cement this series in our minds. There’s also some memorable side characters including the operator named Tank, who has wit, charm, and helps liven the films tone. The late Gloria Foster is also very charismatic as the mystical Oracle, who’s a computer program that’s turned against the machines and guides our hero on his journey. If there was any one character I didn’t care for, it would be the love interest Trinity, who’s played Carrie-Anne Moss. While the actress is perfectly fine in the role, and obviously looks good in skin tight black leather, there’s still just something about her that comes off as very bland to me. Supposedly she set a new standard for bad ass action chicks, and while she definitely has cool moments, she just can’t leave a lasting impression. I also didn’t feel any chemistry between her and Neo, but this really doesn’t become an issue until the sequels in which their relationship is given way too much attention.

     The greatest threat to our hero’s while in the Matrix are computer programs that can take over any humans still connected to the machines. These foes are simply referred to as “the agents”, who have enhanced strength and can’t be gunned down. The leader is Agent Smith, who’s played by Hugo Weaving and subsequently one of the greatest movie villains of all time. While these agents in general are basically programmed to terminate all who resist, Smith has his own personal goal, to break out of the Matrix system, and become an individual. Hugo Weaving absolutely shines in the role, and gives the character a sheer presence of dread and menace. The best villains are the ones who always keep calm, collected, and yet can still put up a good fight. I also love antagonists that are polar opposites of the protagonists, and Smith is a perfect offset to our hero Neo. It’s hard to explain, but in my opinion, the rivalry between Neo and Smith is one of the most engaging hero/villain dynamics I’ve ever seen. Outside the Matrix is another threat that comes in the form of Robot killing machines called Sentinels. Personally, I never really liked the designs of these things, as they resemble squids, and they just didn’t look all that unique or particularly threatening either.

    Rounding up the cast is Joe Pantoliano as a crew member named Cypher, who was once a loyal follower to Morpheus, but down the road turns into a metaphorical Judas. Basically, he betrays the Nebuchadnezzar crew by turning Morpheus over to the agents, and all for the exchange of being reinstated into the Matrix. This might just be my favorite traitor character I’ve ever seen. Joe Pantoliano is nothing short of charismatic and despicably charming in the role, and we the audience so badly want to see him get his comeuppance. Despite his traitorous ways, Cypher is also very understandable, and maybe even relatable in his motives. He hates the real world of the future and wants to return back to the computer-simulated world of the Matrix. This also brings up an interesting dynamic, is it better to be set free in a real world that sucks, or live as a slave in a simulated world that’s peaceful. This is what characterizes “The Matrix” as it’s more than flashy effects and thrilling action. This is a movie that raises intriguing questions that don’t have easy answers, and it interweaves its subjects with references to philosophical, mythology and religious ideas. Admittedly the pseudo religious aspects of the film, and even the Philosophy come off as hit and miss at times, but I admire the attempt to make this film equal parts entertainment and also a thinking mans film. The most obvious of the religious aspects is Neo taking to metaphorical role of Jesus, but then there's less obvious ones. The plaque on the the Nebuchadnezzar for example is branded "Mark III No.11", which refers to this passage in the bible ... "Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, "You are the Son of God." The boy with the bending spoon is a reference to Buddhism, and his line about seeing the truth that "There is no spoon", is like a Zen riddle, as well as one of the more intriguing statements of the film.    

      More then anything, I love a film that can pay homage to multiple other works and yet still have its own distinct, even original identity. For the sake of this review, I’ll try to keep the comparisons light, as the influential details of this film can fill a 9-hour biography, but I at least want to address some of the big influences. The main influence of "The Matrix" is "Plato's Allegory of the Cave", which also revolved around people that are trapped their whole lives in a shadowy illusion of the world, then one person is set free, and discovers the real world outside the cave. I'll never forget taking a High-school literature class, learning about "Plato's Allegory of the Cave" for the first time, and discovering where the roots of one of my favorite movies first grew. "The Matrix" also pays homage to "Jean Baudrillard's Simulacra and Simulation", which is a French philosophical treatise that examines the relationships among reality, society and symbolism. In fact, a copy of “Simulacra and Simulation” can briefly be seen in Neo’s apartment early in the film. In many respects, “The Matrix” also makes me think of a super-hero movie, it just didn’t have an original comic book sours material. The characters all display superhuman abilities, and the story is very superhero-esk at heart, especially in regards to Neo who has to discover his true powers, and his destiny to free all humanity.

     Let’s not forget about “Alice in Wonderland”, because this film is like a modern-day retelling of it, and there’s frequent references to Wonderland all throughout the film. The White Rabbit for example comes in the form of a tattoo on a woman who leads Neo away from home and on his journey. Every building in the Matrix has checkered tile floors, there’s a black cat which raises questions just like the Cheshire Cat, and when Neo leaves the dream world, he does so by touching a mirror, which is a reference to “Alice Through the Looking Glass”. If you’re a fan of Japanese anime, you’ll definitely notice that “The Matrix” was heavily influenced by films like “Akira” and especially "Ghost in the Shell". In fact, the now iconic green cereal-cod of The Matrix is directly lifted from the opening title cards of “Ghost in the Shell”. If you haven’t seen either of those movies, I highly recommend checking them out, just to see what helped inspire this film. Now the movies concept of people living in an illusion world had been utilized well before “The Matrix” in several TV shows like “The Twilight Zone”, “Star Trek: TNG” and various films during the 90’s including “Dark City” and “The Truman Show”. What "The Matrix" defined was a distinct personality and tone, which lead to the inception of the cyber punk sub-genera, in which countless other films tried to replicate the exact style and feel of “The Matrix”. However, there’s no mistaking “The Matrix” for any of it’s pretenders. Just about every scene from this film is iconic, or maybe I should say … you could walk into any select moment from this film and instantly recognize what movie it is. “The Matrix” has also been parodied more then any other film I can think of, so even if you’ve never seen the movie, you’ve probably still seen a film that satirized it.

      I was first introduced to this movie as a young second-grader, walking in on one of the films nastiest scenes, and it gave me nightmares for months. The first half of this movie is almost like a Sci-Fi horror film as Neo slowly discovers the truth, and gets into situations like his mouth getting sewed up, and a bug getting placed into his stomach. There’s actually a very joyless tone for the first half, and it’s my only real problem, as it starts things on a gloomy note. Once Neo is separated from “The Matrix” and we’re given the frightening backstory of how the machines took over, the movie officially begins and I’m hooked. Another thing that separated “The Matrix” from all the others that came before it was a unique “video game style” approach to the story. Setting the film in a world where the rules of physics can be bent, or even broken, allows not only for spectacular visual effects but imaginative, computer game-like scenarios impossible in any normal environment. When plugged into the Matrix, people can request things like martial arts skills or helicopter flight training uploaded right into their minds with the push of a button. That concept alone is so wildly original, and it’s easily my favorite aspect of the film. Now despite these video-game elements, action still maintains a great sense of urgency and you still feel the danger.

     The highlight for any true action fan is the moment when Neo simply requests “Guns, Lots of Guns”, which are then uploaded for his use, leading into easily one of the most excessive, balletic and personally my favorite gunfight ever captured on film. Seeing the lobby shoot-out scene for the first time was one of the most breathless experiences I’ve ever had, and it still holds up today. On that note, I think this movie has the best variety of action on display. We have helicopter chasses, gun fights, chasses on foot, Sci-Fi robot clashes, and kung fu martial art fight sequences. Now there isn’t much action at all in the first hour of the film, but it works to the movies advantage. Letting us get to know the characters and get fully submersed in the films unique universe allows the action to thrill once it finally comes around in the third act. The combination of camera work and editing is also some of the tightest I’ve ever seen. There’s a select moment featuring Neo running up a stair case, which on paper is nothing special, but the way this moment was shot, edited and scored makes it feel like the most exhilarating feat of action. Naturally the films editing, sound design, and especially the visual effects all won Oscars at the 2000 Academy Awards. Oh, and about those special effects … lets finally talk about those.

   Of course, the most famous scene of the movie is the built time sequence in which we see Neo dodging bullets. This was a revolutionary feat of special effects, which allowed the camera to move around an object in three dimensions, and in slow motion. In general, slow motion took off like wild fire after this film. I could honestly spend this entire review just talking about select favorite moments that have stuck with me over the years. In fact, this movie features one of my all-time favorite movie scenes which takes place during the films exhilarating final act. After a daring rescue, we get a thrilling helicopter chase that culminates into a spectacular crash into the side of a building, and Neo saves his companions just in time. Aside from being a big spectacle, this is the moment when Neo excepts who he is, and learns the difference between knowing the path and walking the path. The shots, the angles, the music ... just everything building up to Neo’s epiphany is sensational. It’s a moment where I really felt myself cheering for the hero, and it’s always satisfying to see where a character’s journey begins. It’s just a great little scene that masterfully combined wisdom with adrenaline fueled action. 

     The movie then closes in the subway with a nail biting final dual between Neo and Agent Smith. It’s hard to explain why, but of all the climactic final duels I’ve seen between hero’s and villains, this has always been my absolute favorite. Right from the start, this duel is like a classic western showdown, and it even includes a newspaper blowing in-between them like tumbleweed. Aside from being beautifully choreographed, this is a battle that really highlights the hero as an underdog rising to a challenge, one who keeps getting knocked down, but is still determined to get up and keep going. I love the tense fight choreography, I love the setting, I love how the momentum builds, and the music is absolutely pulse-pounding. As the battle wraps up, our hero finally rises above his foe, amusingly fights with one hand behind his back, and in the end, it's just so satisfying to see Neo vanquish Smith.  

    In short, “The Matrix” is what you’d call “a guy flick”, as it’s got guns, cool black glasses, lots of action, woman in leather and awesome special effects. However, there’s still so much more to this film that can appeal to a wider audience. If you like philosophy, superhero stories, Japanese Anime, Fantasy tails with a modern spin, martial arts cinema, or intriguing Sci-Fi, then this film has something for you. I can’t pretend that "The Matrix" is a perfect film, but it is an experience that was more meaningful to me then most other movies I grew up with. To put it simply, “The Matrix” is a film that reminds me why I love movies, why I love to analyze and review them, and it’s inspired me to be imaginative. Perhaps one day I’ll make movies like this, because it’s just one of those experiences that inspires me to do so. No, “The Matrix” isn’t without flaw, but it’s still one of my favorite movies, and I highly recommended it to anyone who loves the art of imaginative film-making.

Without a doubt, I give “The Matrix” a perfect 5 stars … I mean, why not?

The Matrix Reloaded (2003) (Movie Review)

     There are some who believe that the 1999 picture “The Matrix” should have been a self-contained film with no sequels at all. Yet, if the film wanted to live up to the established title of “the Star Wars of a new generation”, you might as well make it a trilogy. Despite being dated in parts, the first film still holds up as a classic, yet the sequels have gained a negative reputation for tarnishing what was fine on its own. Personally, I welcomed the idea of making the Matrix a trilogy, and while these sequels are far from perfect, I don’t think there without merit or entertainment value. For all their faults, this is actually a very tight trilogy … at least in theme. The first movie was themed around “Birth”, the second movie is themed around “Life”, and the third movie is themed around “Death”. So, this is a complete, if imperfect set of films. The first sequel premiered in 2003 titled "The Matrix Reloaded", and this one has had its up’s and downs with viewers. Initially this film was praised by fans, and many critics even called it superior to its predecessor, but now days it’s regarded as just plain average. As for me, I still enjoy “The Matrix Reloaded”, and find it a perfectly passable second installment.  

        Set six months after the events of the first film, our hero’s have made great progress in freeing people still attached to the Matrix, but their machine foes are quick to respond. Soon, our heroes receive word that a massive killer machine army is digging to the last human city, Zion, with one goal … to wipe out the entire human race. Now Neo and his allies go on a venture into the Matrix to find the programmed source of the machines, rescue those still plugged in, and save the last remaining humans of Zion from annihilation. Along the way, our heroes navigate through various computer programs, and battle new enemies. The most threatening obstacle of all being an ever-replicating clone army of Neo’s arch foe Agent Smith, who apparently survived after his defeat in the last film. Unlike the first movie which had a story that built and grew, this sequel mostly meanders on the same two things over and over again, which is a long-winded philosophy speech, followed by a long-winded action scene, and it just keeps going back and forth between both action and Philosophy until we reach the ending. 

        At times “Reloaded” dose feel like a proper progressive sequel, and to be fair, it dose explore new things never seen in the original. This is the movie that introduces us to Zion, the last human city, and while it’s admittedly kind of a boring place to be in, it’s still a very inventive setting with lots of cool details. The scene in which our hero’s first arrive in Zion is a visual marvel and helps give the film a unique flavor, like we’re experiencing something new that’s expanding on the universe of the original. There’s also a great sense of looming dread hovering over all the inhabitance, as they know something terrible is about to happen to them. While the first film had lots of philosophy talk, I felt that it was all woven around a narrative story. “Reloaded” on the other hand just seems to grab whatever philosophy it can out of thin air, and have the characters prattle on about it with no real narrative focus. I think there are select conversations in “Reloaded” that in-of-themselves are actually kind of intriguing, and perhaps even a little thought provoking. One of my favorite topics is on the nature of control, which asks, “do we rely too much on technology that we can’t live for ourselves, and are machines metaphorically running our lives?” This is actually a relevant point of discussion in this day and age as so many people can’t see themselves living without certain devices or technology at their disposal. Still, don’t expect too much brain food from this film, because despite all the long-winded philosophy talk, “Reloaded” is first and for most “pop-corn” entertainment.           

     On that note, if you just go into “Reloaded” for some derivative action movie fun, then this will more than satisfy your craving for pop-corn thrills. While the various action scenes do veer off track, and over stay their welcome, it’s still undeniably entertaining to watch. Every action scene has its own unique flare, style, and entertainment value. Even though it’s all martial arts, the presentation changes with each battle, so I never feel like I’m watching the same thing on repeat. My favorite action scene in the whole movie is the Chateau sword fight, as this is the only battle to feature a great use (and variety) of hand held weapons, and the physical choreography on display is stunning. This scene is just a perfect example of how an artist can be very creative with an action-set-piece, and it leaves me breathless every time. This is also the only fight that’s shot almost entirely in camera with very minimal CGI added in. Generally speaking, the action throughout the whole movie is shot with ideal grace and rhythm. No shaky camera, no relentlessly fast editing, it’s all very fluent and it’s always stood out to me as a perfect template for how to do action right. The one downside is that there’s a noticeable lack of tension during these fights, as our heroes just seem too invincible and don’t seem to feel pain. I remember the battles in the fist film had this great sense of urgency, and you felt every blow, but here it’s like playing a video game while on “God mode”.   

      Now I’ll be the first to admit that while I loved the characters from the first film, it was all do to their engaging character arcs, and not because of their personalities, which were admittedly lacking. In “Reloaded” all three of our hero’s Neo, Morpheus and Trinity are back, and while they still have the cool factor going, they also don’t have engaging arcs in this film to balance out their lack of charisma or personalities. The relationship between Neo and Trinity isn’t very engaging, and Morpheus can’t escape the trapping of just being the strong wise mentor. Now I meant it when I said the characters still have a “cool factor”, because when I see Keanu Reeves in this role, with his shades and black coat, he just has this aura of awesome. Say what you will about Keanu Reeves as an actor, but he’s an amazing talent when it comes to choreographing and performing his own stunts. No joke, he just throws himself out there in these fight scenes and he really is doing the majority of his own stunts. There’s also several awesome scenes with Neo flying through the sky, which only enhances his vibe as a superhero. One slight improvement over the first film is that our hero’s ship The Nebuchadnezzar actually feels like a character this time, and not just a vehicle for them to travel in. Every time this ship is on screen, it has that same presence of either the Enterprise or Serenity.  

     Let’s talk about the new characters, as these are mostly welcomed additions to this series. There’s a new ships operator named Link and he brings the same level of charm and charisma that Tank brought to the first film. Now, Will Smith turned down the chance to play Neo back in the first film, which he called the worst decision of his carrier, but his wife Jade Pinkett Smith wasn’t going to turn down the chance to take a lead role in the sequels. She plays another captain named Niobe, who’s also a subtle love interest for Morpheus, and subsequently one of the better characters to come from these sequels. We have new program characters in the Matrix as well as new human characters in Zion, most of whom are fine as supporting characters, but they don’t leave much of an impression either. Monica Bellucci also joins the cast as a shady woman named Persephone, who aids our heroes on their mission, but she also doesn’t seem like the person you should trust.     

       I especially love the addition of the new villain characters, as they add some much-needed flavor to the film, and it’s great to see new threatening programs as opposed to seeing the same evil Agents over and over again. Lambert Wilson absolutely shines as a new French antagonist called The Merovingian, and is arguably the most human performance in the series. While the character of The Merovingian could have been your typical, wealthy, flamboyant bad guy, Lambert Wilson plays it with so much love and conviction that it’s hard not to enjoy him. Oh, but my favorite characters by far are the Merovingian's lethal assassins called The Twins, who can take the form of ghosts. This is a perfect example of how minor henchman with limited screen time can still leave a lasting impression. Somehow, these two, pale faced, slow talking twins, with their unique abilities, and fancy fighting moves not only steal the show, they also set a template for how awesome evil henchman can be.   

      Of course, I have to talk about Hugo Weaving, who’s reprising his signature role as Agent Smith. Now, it’s never really explained how he survived after the events of the first film, or how he can suddenly replicate himself, but it’s great to have him back for the sequels. All his subtle motivations and menace are replaced with a hammier delivery, but he’s consistently entertaining to watch and all his classic moments are in this film. I love when he makes his sudden return, which is complete with a flock of scary black birds flying around him. I also love when he ambushes a crew member who cries out “My God”, to which he responds by saying “Smith will suffice”. Then there’s the big action set piece when Neo battles an army of Agent Smith clones, which is a mixed blessing. It starts with some real momentum, and it’s truly an impressive feat of action to catch on film, at least until all the characters are rendered into CGI models. Even back in 2003, these effects looked a little too cartoony, and they really don’t hold up. It literally feels like a slapstick cartoon at one point in which the sound design is comprised of bowling pin sounds and toppling domino's. Now for as silly as the fight gets, the music track keeps me hyped … which brings me to my next topic of discussion.    

     One of the biggest highlights of "Reloaded" is the soundtrack composed by Don Davis and Juno Reactor. Every single battle scene or segment has its own distinct score and it really helps give the action on display a personality of its own. Weather it’s the car chase, the arrival in Zion, Neo’s flying sequences, the cave dance or the battle with the Agent Smith clones, the music is always changing, always fits the moment, and it gets me pumped every time. I love this album so much that I bought the CD, and it’s some of my favorite music to have playing while I work-out or do in house chores. The one down side is that this CD also comes complete with songs from some really bad early 2000’s heavy metal bands. It’s just noise, plain and simple, and honestly, it’s so un-engaging that I don’t even think real heavy metal fans enjoy this. Now there is at least one stand out song performed by Dave Matthews Band titled “When the World Ends”, which has a surprisingly haunting theme laced with the techno-beat you’d expect from this kind of genera. 

     Let’s finally talk about everyone’s favorite scene … the freeway chase. While not my absolute favorite car chase, it’s most definitely among the best, and is always the first one that comes to mind when I think of the term “Car Chase”. This is the chase that made me love car chases in the first place, and unlike any other common chase, this one takes place in a computer simulated world, allowing the writers to get away with things that we could never see in a traditional car chase. 
We can have the Twins transport to cars in ghost form, we can have the agents leap on car hoods, and our heroes can pull off super human moves, but there’s still a level of intensity to the chase. This sequences also has a perfect variety of action on display including Kung Fu, car stunts, gun play, hand to hand matches, super powers, and even a fight within a car, which is something you don’t see often. The scene also shifts from car chase, to motorcycle chase and then it all finishes on the surface of a truck. It's every great form of car chase in one scene. This chase also took three months to film, and sense no real freeway was available, they built the set on an old airport runway. Knowing that makes this chase all the more impressive, and I like that, once again the action was mostly kept in camera. With several car pileup’s, broken glass, an electrifying musical score that's bound to get you pumped and plenty of impressive visual effects that blend with real vehicles and stunts, this car chase still holds up as a classic action scene, and it’s easily the best thing that “Reloaded” has to offer.  

    The third act is where some say the film goes downhill, but personally, I actually like this ending, at least for the most part. This is when the characters felt the most human, the action, while minimal finally flows with the story, and for once there’s some real tension. Things get started with a Tarantino style exposition scene in which our hero’s mount a plan to get Neo into a special building where he can supposedly end the war with the machines. It’s here that we meet The Architect, the guy responsible for creating the Matrix. This is also where we get the films big twist, that both the matrix and Zion had actually been reconstructed five times before, and Neo really wasn’t meant to end anything, just reboot the system, and repopulate Zion after the invasion army wipes out the humans. It’s actually a chilling twist reveal, and puts the odds against our hero’s. Unfortunately, while I like the concept, the problems come from the execution of this scene. More specifically, the time spent with Neo and the Architect is complete garbage, as things aren’t explained very well, and the Architect himself is just a plain annoying character who prattles on and on about gibberish. It’s one of those scenes that’s trying hard to sound smart, but all it’s efforts just make it come off as silly.

    Everything culminates into a surprisingly thrilling rooftop rescue, in which Trinity sacrifices her life to save her friends, but Neo rescues her just in time. The following rooftop scene between Neo and Trinity is fairly well acted, and the one time I actually felt anything between these two. However, the victory of Trinities revival is short lived as our hero’s plans to stop the machines failed, the army is only twenty-four hours away from Zion, The Nebuchadnezzar is destroyed, Neo slips into a mysterious coma and Agent Smith has secretly taken over the mind of another ships crew member. It all builds to these three chilling words … “To Be Concluded”. The movie then closes with an exciting trailer for the next film titled "The Matrix Revolutions". I can distinctly remember seeing that trailer for the first time, and being hyped as hell to see how this trilogy would conclude. Of course, I’ll have plenty to say about “The Matrix Revolutions” in another review, but for now, this was still a great ending that got me very excited for things to come.

      In truth, I still love "The Matrix Reloaded", and consider it both a worthy sequel, and a plain fun action film. Is it on par with the first … No, it’s not even in the same ball park, but sometimes, just a good movie or a highly entertaining one is enough. “The Matrix Reloaded” has its faults to be sure, and I can respect why others may not like this film, but it’s still special to me and I can always have a mostly fun time while watching it. It did at least expand on the mythos and universe set up by the first film, and introduces some welcome new characters. I’d recommend the common viewer to just stick with the first film, but if your curious, give “Reloaded” a chance, I’d say it’s worth a viewing.

I give “The Matrix Reloaded” 4 stars out of 5.