The Matrix Revolutions (2003)

Directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski

There is an odd irony at work in The Matrix Revolutions. While it contains some of the most memorable imagery on film, the movie itself is largely forgettable. How did that happen?

I suppose there was such a sense of obligation set up to one-up the visual impact of the preceding Matrix films, the characters got left out of the mix.

I find I don’t feel as kindly toward this final Matrix film as I did toward Reloaded, though it may be a slightly better movie. I think it’s because the middle film, for all its excess and deflating ending, at least tried to do something with its characters.

It reminds me a bit of the problem with Spider-man, and perhaps it’s a problem faced by most movies that use the comic book world as a source.

(Though not based on a comic book, the Matrix movies to some extent try to be a comic-book-on-film.) The first parts of the films (the first half of Spider-man, the first Matrix movie) are far more interesting than the final parts.

It’s as if once the world of the movies are established, once the main characters are in place and the heroes take on their roles (Spider-man as Spider-man, Neo as the One), the movies go flat and we’re left with great images that really don’t amount to much. It’s as if the storytelling stops and you simply get posturing and noise.

In The Matrix Revolutions the final battle between Zion and The Machines takes place.

It’s all quite confusing, at least for me, since I’m never quite sure what’s a computer program, what’s a machine, and who is actually human (or whether they’re avatars of some human who is connected to … well, whatever they connect to).

As many others have pointed out, you sort of wonder what happened to characters like Morpheus in Revolutions. He appears rarely and when he does he has nothing to do.

He sort of looks like a guy who stumbled into a scene by accident. It’s similar for the other many characters. For some reason, Neo’s role as the One seems to leave him emotionless so his character is flat in almost every scene. Smith appears several times, generally with several versions of himself. Trinity seems to be the only character with any depth, but even that is minimal.

In other words, the whole movie is about the “battle.” It’s all about cranking out the comic book images as live action (with CGI support). It’s all about … well, nothing.

It wasn’t that I disliked the movie particularly, I just couldn’t seem to generate a lot of interest in it. In the end, the whole thing seemed pointless. Which makes the entire trilogy kind of pointless.

It’s like a long road that goes nowhere.

In the end, I think The Matrix Revolutions, especially seen in the context of the entire trilogy, serves as a caution about the dangers of hype. Because the first movie was so popular and because it was so different, so outstandingly unique, the “buzz” about the other installments grew remarkably and the marketing machine took over. Reloaded came out with an incredible amount of hype. But when hype reaches those levels there are few films that can meet the expectations set.

A kind of inverse equation seemed to set in: the more money that was spent on the films, the more they were hyped, the less successful the movies were. I believe the return on the movies was less for the second than the first, and less for the third than the second – the inverse of what was spent on them. (The more money spent, the less they made.)

Not that the hype or the money have a direct relationship on how good a movie is, but I think they do indirectly. I can’t help but think the Wachowski’s were misdirected by them, focusing on the special effects and overall visual aspects because these were the things that were hyped, became talked about by the public, was where the money was spent.

The actual story, and its characters were neglected at the expense of these, and the result was two follow-up movies that had more in common with a fireworks display than storytelling

I’ll watch Revolutions again however. I may even watch it in sequence with the other two films. Perhaps, at some distance from the hype and in context, I may find it’s better than I think.

For now, though, Revolutions has left me with a feeling of, “Yeah. So what?”

As a final comment, all three of the movies take themselves far too seriously for my taste. There is no humour in any of them; they are just so earnest about themselves. And when that quality carries over three movies, it’s simply too much to take. You really want to say, “Lighten up guys. It’s a movie, for heaven’s sake.”

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