A
 
Web www.artsmart.co.za
A R T S M A R T
arts news from kwazulu-natal

film and television
www.artsmart.co.za
enquiries@artsmart.co.za
 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
 

NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

THE MATRIX: RELOADED (article first published : 2003-06-11)

The most remarkable thing about 1999's The Matrix was that one went into it expecting nothing more than just another B-grade vehicle for the gormless Keanu Reeves - yet left the cinema gob-smacked by its magic. What we got, yes, was Keanu as wooden as ever. But, as such, he could not have been better suited to his role of a Messiah-like man, Neo, who discovers reality as we know it is an illusion; that we are all part of The Matrix, an elaborate computer programme dreamed up by creepy machines to suck the life force from us.

The even better unexpected treat of that first film was its landmark, Oscar-winning special effects and clever and philosophic, if complex, plot. It was labelled an instant classic and made a fortune.

With the eagerly awaited sequel, we expect things to be a lot bigger and better. But while the effects are again out of the top drawer - a staggeringly good, 15-minute freeway sequence should do for screen car chases what the first film's "bullet time" sequence did for shootouts - one is left little disappointed by this darker, more epic chapter.

Perhaps one is let down by a convoluted plot weighed down with too many pretentious babblings? Perhaps there's a sense of the sequel being overblown, over-produced, with too many epic scenes curiously reminiscent of the recent Star Wars sequels?

Perhaps the biggest problem lies in this being a middle picture in a trilogy - the last chapter is due in November - with the result that there are loads of loose ends and an abrupt, teasing finale.

The story picks up where the first left off.

Neo (a pale, gaunt Reeves in flowing gothic gear, vogueing in the coolest shades ever seen on screen) has since become increasingly powerful and now flies a la Superman. And he has been largely responsible for the growing human population of the hidden city of Zion; people freed from the prisons of mind-control machinery. The machines are not happy with this and plan to destroy humanity.

While the leaders of Zion prepare for battle, Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) takes Neo and his leather-clad girlfriend, Trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss), back into The Matrix to confer with the Oracle (the late Gloria Foster), hoping to learn how to fulfill the prophecy that will save mankind. While there, Neo encounters some new foes, not least evil albino twins with the ability to morph into electric spectres and zap from one place to the next in a jiffy. Neo also has to contend with the suave but deadly Merovingian (Lambert Wilson) and his sexy wife, Persephone (Monica Bellucci).

Not to mention his old nemesis, the po-faced and witty Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), who now has added clout from cloning countless versions of himself. And then there's the enigmatic Keymaker (Randall Duk Kim) ... As ever, it's the awesome action sequences that make this 138-minute sequel a must-see, more so than its "deep" storyline centred on the nature of reality and the search for truth.

And here writer-directors Andy and Larry Wachowki deliver. Besides the magnificent freeway chase, highlights include marvellous, balletic fight sequences including Neo brawling a hundred and one Agent Smiths in a playground and smashing baddies, statues and pillars on an ornate, hallway staircase.

And, of course, it's all done with that stylish, mesmerising mix of flying effects, slow-motion, freeze-frames, judders of rapid accleration and camera gymnastics. Rating: 8/10 Billy Suter

PS: Don't dash off during the closing credits or you'll miss the trailer for the next film, The Matrix Revolutions.

PPS: The film pumps with a terrific, apocalyptic soundtrack dotted with offerings from Rage Against the Machine, Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Linkin Park and others. The album is available through Gallo.




 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart