The Matrix: Reloaded — Gothic Production Values

The second entry, and then I must needs say no more about matrices till November.

As a film, The Matrix [original] was authentic in its rawness of mise-​en-​scene, tight plot, character construction and philosophy. The Matrix: Reloaded, has the mangy paw of Hollywood overproduction and overengineering all over it.

Now that the goth look is mainstreamed [hoodathunkit?] it is at the same time extremed in the Matrix, Hollywood knows who its demographics are and plays to them, even putting in vampires and ghosts. Every good guy is gothic while in the Matrix. Zion even has that retarded rave/​orgy/​infernal masses sequence, where everyone porks to heavy bass beats. All of the guns from the last flik have been replaced by a variety of weapons [katana, longsword, trident, sai, mace, etc.] that don’t do much good except look cool. Then, of course, you’ve got the gothic château in the mountains, the gothic retro technology [old TVs etc, still cool] and the rusted out ships of Zion.

Costuming

The costumes in the original Matrix were indeed quite cool, but their coolness was secondary and the manifestations of the mind that wears them. In TM:R the clothes were cool because Hollywood decided it must be so, and they fail at it. Keanu in a cassock, is a bit preposterous, Trinity maintains skintight pleather, and the only noticeable difference in the agents and Morpheus is that they’ve got spiffy new shoes. The Zionists can’t manage to clothe themselves decently [except for the elders] despite their ability to hew an existence near the earth’s core. The baddies just wear white or black variations in suit themes. Who really cares.

Plot

Schizophrenically polysemous. Dragged a bit, then had some über-​cheesy part, followed by an über-​philosophical part. Rinse, repeat. This is where I found the conflict between a smart film, and a Hollywood film to be most prevalent. The cheese parts [the n Smith fight, rave, the Seraph fight, sex scene, ubercar chase, the other n Smith fight, the you saved me dialogue at the end] are Hollywood. The smart parts [Oracle, Merovingian, Architect, back doors, Keymaker] reminded me most of the original film, despite the fact that the Merovingian and the Architect still had some obvious distractions to them [yesterday’s post]. Although, the Keymaker, when describing how to get into the mainframe, reminded me much of the Old Man From Scene 24 in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. There is also the whole Keymaster of Gozer thing from Ghost Busters as well.

CG/​Special Effects

They were cutting edge last time, but mainstream this time. Bullet time/​slomo adn the spinning camera moves were the same stuff from the last movie. The CGs were pretty obvious too, supporting my theory that digital still has a long way to go before it can render as well as film stock can pick up the minute details of a person’s face. Thus, sometimes Neo and Smith look quite CG, because the subtle shadows and facial expressions are not there. Rendering fabrics is pretty damn hard as well. Thus, Neo’s idiotic cassock goes from being nice and textured to smooth as silk when he is CG. The wire-​work legitimately seemed ripped off from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Sound

Sound effects and Foley work was impressive, though the music was most definitely created with the soundtrack in mind, and of course contained tracks from the most gothic sellout — Rob Zombie. Hell, it even had a track by Dave Mathews. [*pukes*] I did like what Juno Reactor did with many of the songs though — mixing standard techno/​trance with the score in many instances.

Other

The shot selection was also a bit schizoid. The OTS shots were so repetitive i could predict what was going to happen next [MS1a, MS2a, MS1b, MS2b, MCU1a, MCU2a, etc.]. At the same time, the digital stuff with Morpheus fight on the trailer, and the motorcycle shots — were pretty damn amazing. The washed-​out hotness of the whites, and the subtle lows of the blacks seemed appropriately gothic and also helped the CGs fit into the the film better, since so much data was lost by intentional overexposure.

Morpheus says the prophecy should have come true if Neo reached the source, but Neo did not reach the souce, he went after Trinity, something that I only realized post facto the movie. There is no mention of it in the flik itself.

Wrap

I liked TM:R, don’t get me wrong, I just didn’t like it as well as the first one. I give the 1st an 8 and this one a 6. Mostly because, it is obvious Hollywood tried too hard as usual, only approximated what it feels is authentic — rather than going for the real thing. Ergo, all the people are gothically serious except for Link who is more a family man thug than anything else — and the wonderful Merovingian asshole. The bad guys are much more interesting than the good guys. It leaves no room for any type of those once plugged in than the gothic. Someone should crack a joke or play a prank or perhaps wear comfortable clothes that are nondescript. Right? I think it is too shallow because it is too pretentious.

Probably much like this review.