Don't do sequels
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> Matrix Revolutions review
Date: 11 November, 2003
Matrix Revolutions: stunning computer graphics, a cheesy script, a
passing reference to the meaning of war and apparent amnesia about
the first film. Steve Tomkins is not a happy chap.
Photo © Warner Bros/Village Roadshow Pictures
'Wensleydale? Stilton? I don't
know, lad, it's like no cheese I ever tasted.'
I've come to the conclusion that no one should
be allowed to make sequels.
That may sound a little draconian. After all, we've always known
that they tend to be lazy, cynical cash-ins (it's one for the show,
two for the money) but in that sea of Return Ofs and Part 2s there
have been the odd islands of excellence every bit as good as the
first, from The Godfather to Toy Story.
For their sake we have let filmmakers get away with the bubble-and-squeak
approach to movies. But The Matrix has demonstrated that sequels
can not only disappoint but diminish the original.
The Matrix was an extraordinary film. It had a unique story grippingly
told and realised with stunning effects, and on top of all this
it was one of the most fascinating and cryptic explorations of spirituality
to come out of Hollywood in many years.
Then the painfully awaited Matrix Reloaded abandoned all these strengths
for a load of fights, chases and 'schlock' philosophy.
This left one waiting to see whether Matrix Revolutions
could redeem the series, the whole thing making wonderful sense
now that the last piece was in place, or whether it would be just
as poor as part two.
In fact neither is the case. Matrix Revolutions gives us a reasonable
science fiction story, culminating in a magnificent battle, and
making up for some of the ground lost in May.
The problem is that if the last we had seen of Neo was his ascent
into the heavens at the close of part one, that would have brought
to a close a fascinating, unusual and gorgeously executed movie.
But what Revolutions in facts brings to a close is a passable sci-fi
trilogy with state of the art SFX and a pretty standard storyline.
That is what sequelisation has done to it.
The plot of Matrix Revolutions, stretched out
from part two, is a Custer's last stand affair - can the rebels
hold out against the seemingly irresistible hoards of machines?
(It's all right, it's a rhetorical question.)
Meanwhile Neo and Trinity risk all in a mysterious mission behind
As part two suggested, Neo finds that his superpowers
in the Matrix carry over into real life too, though no explanation
of this is attempted, beyond the fact that he is 'The One', and
it all gets very Feel-The-Force-Luke, especially when he has some
unexpected vision problems.
On the credit side, the long battle scenes are
spectacular, especially the strap-in war machines, who defend against
vast army of steel squids.
You might call it a primal conflict between man and machine, except
Zion is better politically adjusted than that, putting out one of
the most equal opportunities fighting forces you ever saw.
On the debit side, we also get some of the cheesiest
dialogue you ever heard.
"Six hours ago," 'Trin' tells Neo (it's
been a long six hours), "I told the Merovingian that I would
do anything and everything for you. Do you know what's changed in
that six hours?"
"Whad?" says Neo.
Wensleydale? Stilton? I don't know, lad, it's
like no cheese I ever tasted.
The fatal problem is that the Wachowski brothers have forgotten
everything - apart from CGI spectacle - that the first film cared
about: life in the Matrix - both for the sake of the story and as
a metaphor for human existence, self-discovery and salvation.
The very fact that whole war is not just supposed to be about survival
but about rescuing humanity is only alluded to in one line, and
nothing of that great deliverance is shown.
Another niggle is continuity problems.
Since part one, the Oracle has been recast because Gloria Foster
died, the character Tank has been replaced with Link thanks to a
pay dispute, and Morpheus has put on a surprising amount of weight
in six hours.
Come, honoured reviewer, you might say, you can't blame anyone for
that - that kind of thing can't be helped. Yes it can. Don't do
Matrix Revolutions, certificate 15, directed
by Andy and Larry Wachowski