Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn
milwaukeesfs

The Matrix Reloaded, 06-08-03

Sunday the 8th was our first real opportunity to take in the second installment of "The Matrix," "Matrix Reloaded." While visually stunning as before, it was not an unrelievedly pleasant experience, partially due to the theatre. Our local movie house is usually pretty good, but on this occasion, they had the sound amped up so that the previews (which for this show are all pretty much action films and hence loud) were at a painful volume, and some of the concussive sequences of the film were not much better. Some things about the film drive me nuts. Since this is an orginal creation, there ought not be anomalies such as exist in say, "The Lord of the Rings," or the "Harry Potter" movies, where a filmmaker is adapting another's vision to a medium for which it was not intended. I've ranted before about the basic stupidity of the idea that the machines use humans as heat engines (it would be far more efficient just to burn whatever they are feeding the people)instead of, as would be obvious to any reader of cyberpunk, turning the tables and using the human's minds as distributed processing nodes to support the Matrix itself.

Most of the personified programs have titles that reflect function, like the Oracle, the Keymaker, and the Architect. But then we find an "old" program called "The Merovingian." Say what? Are you telling me Charlemagne had a computer? The character/program's function would have been perfectly expressed by a title like "The Keeper," "The Collector," or even "The Miser," but someone threw in "Merovingian" just because it sounded cool and not because it fit in with the total design.

Inconsistent handling of the Matrix bugs me also. I understand that story needs require that the rebels need their virtual phone connections to get out of the Matrix instead of just jacking out when danger threatens, but then you can drive out via the "freeway"? (Flashback here to "True Stories of the Information Highway Patrol"--those of you who were at WisCon will understand--.) The freeway is just an excuse to have an overdone (and overlong) car-chase in an otherwise cyberpunk environment.

Apparently, being a slave to the Matrix is good for you, as evinced by the scenes in Zion, where everyone is buff and young-looking, with the sole exception being SF-movie veteran Anthony Zerbe as the aging Councilor Hamman. (And why should the machines cause the slaves of the Matrix to develop muscle tone at all, in their artificial wombs?)

Being in the Matrix is handled inconsistently. If you die in the Matrix, your body dies, but dropping out of contact when passing through one of the Keymaker's "back doors" causes no problems.

Does it make sense to diable the alarms on a virtual building by cutting off the virtual electricity (by blowing up a virtual power plant with a virtual bomb--)? Even if you consider this as metaphorical cyberspace representations of actions that are actually attacks on lines of code, it doesn't seem to be sensible.

That said, the film is still fun to watch. Neo's battle with the seemingly infinitely replicating former agent Smith was particularly good. The major plot twist at the climax was a surprise, and, although we are given some hints, this second installment of course ends with a cliffhanger. I look forward to seeing the third episode in December, but I'll be taking along some serious earplugs.
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