Matrix Reloaded

Various opinions without spoilers:

Spoilers follow.

Seriously, SPOILERS are below. Like, as in, 'spoil the movie for you'. Don't read any further until you've seen the movie. Presuming you intend to. Which you do because the advertisers told you so. Calm down, everything is under control.

The elements that made TheMatrix beautiful are gone. The sequel's plot is a dreary rehash of Marvel-Comic superheroics. All the novelty of the visuals has been replaced with standard Hollywood car chases, exploding buildings, bloodless kung fu, guns galore, and main characters that are never in any danger of permanent injury. The squids and agents do nothing newer or more intelligent than lobbing bombs. In fact, their repertoire of behaviors is far more limited than in the original - they turn up, they hit people, and they die.

There is no palpable motivation for any of the characters. Some of them even complain about this - as if the writers themselves couldn't figure it out. There are no koans. There are no surprises, no witty dialog, and nothing to think about afterward. The central theme never rises above the level of a FightBetweenGoodAndEvil. But now there are French vampires in it because ... well, gee, everyone loves French vampires, don't they? Never mind those agents - they're much less visually appealing than twin ghost-thugs armed with razors.

And the much-vaunted "City of Zion"? Another beehive mall like all the other beehive malls in American culture. But with stalagmites. The first movie suggested that modern industrialized life is an illusion, and that people should live better than that. This movie suggests that beneath the illusion is the same thing, but with grav plates and torn sweaters. The head of the Zion council gives a long speech about how there is no point to life and he just likes to spend time watching the machines tick over.

Indeed, where the original movie suggested the ultimate enlightenment of humanity over machines, this one dehumanizes everything it can. The Oracle? Oh, she's just a program. And Neo doesn't triumph over the agents because of his humanity; he just has the superuser password stuck in his head. Who put it there? Why, the ChiefArchitect of course! When that antebellum gentleman puts in an appearance, he's yet another control fetishist offering the standard Hollywood villain's choice between death and more death. The movie clumsily hints that even Zion is another mechanical Matrix, and doubtless this will be the "surprise" revealed in the third flick.

In short, this is a movie with no saving graces at all. I'd suggest anyone who can should avoid both Matrix 2 & 3 and spend their money instead on a DVD of the first film. Or, better, don't give the franchise the satisfaction - spend your dollars on and pay your attention to something else. -- PeterMerel

Alas, I agree too. The magic of the first Matrix is totally missing, which goes to prove how special it really was. It's like the guys who made it didn't really know why the first movie was so good. I can still remember when Trinity first jumped crane-like into the air, and time stopped and the camera swung around her. There's nothing half as memorable as that one scene alone in this whole movie. There's nothing new here. It's just the action scenes of the first movie times ten, except this time there's never any doubt of the outcome, no chance that Neo will lose. I actually liked the scene with the Architect, and I liked how Neo had no doubt about what door to choose. But at the same time, I couldn't help but wonder if, after making his choice, he might then fly around the Earth fast enough to make it - and thus time - go in reverse, so he could go back and choose the second door. And that's hardly the only time I thought I was watching a re-heated version of Superman. During the lulls in the action, I started thinking maybe they would do something different like having Neo be the inspiration for a comic book within the Matrix itself, creating some hugely self-referential feedback loop.

I always loved the last scene of the original Matrix: Trinity, who for the previous part of the movie plays the super-cool icy motorcycle chick, gets close to the dead Neo, and so gently, intimately whispers to him how he must be the One, because she'd fallen in love with him. On its own, without the attack from the squid machines and Neo fighting for his life in the Matrix, the scene would be heartbreaking. Neo is dead, and Trinity has waited too long to confess her love. But she talks to him anyway. She commands him back to life. And it works. He, now they, have been give a second chance. Neo is re-born for a second time. The mystery of the first Matrix is sorely missed.

Concur. I almost walked out about halfway through, but I kept hoping it would get better. It didn't. Some of the battles are visually interesting, but I really didn't care who won any of the them. Every battle ends with Neo either flying away to escape or swooping in to rescue someone, so what's the point? The romance between Neo and Trinity doesn't work; there is just no chemistry between them. The increased use of CG effects was not an improvement - it just made everything more videogamey (and not in a good way). If you've seen the trailer, you've seen the best parts of the film. Go see X2 instead. -- KrisJohnson

[comments moved to XmenMovie]

While I agree that the second Matrix provides very little we haven't already seen in the first movie, and the long, boring scene in Zion could have been handled better, it is still an entertaining and watchable comic-book movie that plays with some fun ideas. Much of the movie is humans (or so we think!) and computers interacting with each other. One interesting scene is where Persephone (Frenchy's main squeeze) wants to be kissed, in order to recall the memory of true passion. Imagine if your Pentium 3 computer asked you to kiss it. The computer doesn't have the same physiology as a person, and so we know that it can't possibly be experiencing the same thing a human would experience when kissed by a lover. So why doesn't Persephone settle for the simulation of arousal that Frenchy has devised? What's the difference to a machine?

Suppose, for the sake of argument, that your desk top computer is conscious, and can experience things like pleasure and pain. Imagine that you ask your computer to stick a DVD in your mouth. You ask because you've come to the conclusion that computers seem to get some very positive experiences from the same action (they tend to light up and get really warm), and you want to join in the fun. But it's not going to feel the same to you, because your hardware is different from the computer's. You don't want the feeling of a disk being in your mouth, you want the presumably pleasurable feeling that you believe the computer is getting when it has a DVD inserted into it. Lacking the right hardware, you simply get that feeling by mimicking what you see the computer do.

And this is the problem with Persephone wanting a kiss. It's not the kiss that she wants, but the pleasurable feeling she believes it induces within humans. She does not know any other way to get it than to do the equivalent of sticking a DVD in her mouth. Maybe it's the only way she knows of calling certain subroutines.

While humans envy machines for their power, precision, reliability, and technical mastery, the machines envy our ability to touch.

I liked the movie, it felt like a comic book as spectacular scenes played.

The first movie made its mark on the general mass of moviegoers due to the incredible bullet-time special effects - and they have nowhere to go with that now, except, as Agent Smith says, "More..." At least the Wachowski brothers can laugh at themselves.

It sets up nicely for Revolutions, since it seems likely now that Zion is just another part of the matrix (as Neo realized at the end when he realizes he can stop the squid things) (and if it was not, Agent Smith would not have been able to pass into Zion).

I agree the Zion scenes are a bit of a drag, and though they provide necessary glue for the story, should have been much shorter. Still undecided about the philosophical mumbo jumbo speeches - I'd have to listen to them again to work our what is actually said there. The tech stuff is pretty well done - the information on computer display screens makes sense. I like the homage to Metropolis, Superman, etc.

This movie was made to satisfy existing Matrix fans, and for me, it succeeded. I can't wait for number 3. In the meanwhile, I'll go to Imax and see all that CGI super big!
The secret is not to watch any of the trailers. I hate how 99% of Hollywood trailers show all the good parts of the movie. I closed my eyes every time I was watching another movie and the Matrix: Reloaded trailers came on. Part of the reason I liked the first Matrix so much is that I knew absolutely nothing about it because I expected it to be another KeanuReeves? abortion like JohnnyMnemonic?.

Anyway, the Matrix: Reloaded was about all it could have been. The first movie had made such a mark on culture that it would have been next to impossible for the second one to follow up with 'something new'. If you were expecting something new, I can see how you would have been sorely disappointed. I always try to keep my expectations low these days; it makes for a much better experience when something does manage to exceed my expectations.

The Matrix: Reloaded did some things right, which I wasn't expecting it to (see previous paragraph). First, it introduced the next plot twist which was not at all obvious until they sprung it, which is difficult to achieve in movies these days what with all the cliche plot-twist devices everyone uses (and the audience expects). For clarity's sake, the plot twist I'm talking about is the whole Architect spiel about there having been many Zions before, and the Prophecy was just a mechanism for maintaining the stability of the Matrix. Second, the plot twist was consistent with the first movie, which is also really hard to do in movies these days. Third, the plot twist doesn't nullify the efforts of the characters; there's still a chance that they can affect their fates. Fourth, the plot twist is not the end of the story; when Neo stopped the squids, it became obvious that there is another layer to the onion of the Matrix. Fifth, they opened up a whole slew of 'loose ends', which will undoubtedly be 'tied up' in the third movie.

These are all standard Hollywood accomplishments, nothing like the first movie's accomplishments in revolutionizing action/SF movie technology and revitalizing SF movie plots, but they are accomplishments nonetheless. If the Matrix: Reloaded had failed to hit any of these targets, I think it would be fair to call the Wachowski brothers one-hit-wonders. If on the other hand, it had accomplished more than this, then it would be fair to say that they are true visionaries. But as it stands, I think what we can honestly say is that this is their first big opus of hopefully many more to come. I just hope they don't end up like GeorgeLucas with an ego bigger than his budgets.

The important thing is not how revolutionary the movie is or isn't. You can't expect every movie to shake things up. The important thing is, "Does it tell a good story?" I think the Matrix: Reloaded plays its part perfectly as the second movie in a trilogy, expanding the story of the first movie, and setting up for the big finale of the third. Hopefully, the Wachowski brothers can finish what they started.

[By the way, I couldn't help but laugh out loud when Neo goes "Who are you?" and the guy in the chair goes "I am ... the Architect." That was precious! "And of course, I designed the whole Matrix. And yes, the first one was 'too perfect' so I had to redesign it. And did I mention that the second one was built with Oracle? And yes, even this second one is flawed, so I had to make a hack ... er, I mean workaround, to keep it from falling to pieces. But it's perfect, I tell you. I know exactly what you're going to do next, for instance. Hmm, where did I put my pen?" I wonder if the next movie will have Neo and a small, co-located team of programmers working in pairs who re-write the Matrix, totally ruining the Architect's 'evil plans'. Hehe.]

He, he, he. I promptly pulled up an image of this man I met at a conference... and the best part was that I knew the people I was with were thinking the same thing (or, at least one of them was). Still, I never in my life needed to see Keanu Reeves naked. Especially not covered in icky plastic ports. I hope that, when the time comes, we can design a better interface than that.

That about sums it up for me. You can't have big new ideas in every movie. The Force was introduced in ANH - and Lucas didn't try to introduce anything as mind-blowing as that in Empire. The other movies were just executing on plot, not too many new ideas - but they were great anyway.

Not that I'm comparing this to Empire, still a great movie though and the Architect twist was great (call me feeble-minded, but I'll need to see the movie again to figure that one out). Certainly better than any SW sequels since Empire.

A friend suggested to me that the architect scene was simply the temptation of Christ, adapted to the setting. Unfortunately, it seems to be the least interesting interpretation, but the one that makes the most sense.

This movie could have used a plot. The scene in Zion was so uninspiring, it came close to making me cheer for the machines: this is all we have left to represent humanity in its final hour? Of course, mankind's saving grace is that the machines proved nearly as pathetic. The architect seemed to have some kind of motivation, and the initial scene with Elrond was inspiring, but the complete and total lack of limits to his powers and his failure to use them breaks suspension of disbelief. (Why hasn't he copied himself over everyone but Neo?) The movie raises some philosophical points about free will which are interesting, and so presumably have already been thought through by most of the philosophers and wannabe philosophers here.

I'm afraid I'm about to rant. A few observations:

-- BrentNewhall

Keep in mind we're talking about Neo here... You're cuter than I thought... Not too bright, though.

It's a celebration of their humanity, or at least the elements of human nature (love, emotions, flesh) which distinguishes them the most from the cold, purely rational way of thinking which characterizes the machines.

This was a large part of why I didn't like the movie. In the first one, the battle was between cold, sterile rationality and humanity, which based on experience I assumed was set apart mainly by creativity (which is complementary to rationality, rather than opposite to it). But here, people don't represent anything so lofty, just lack of rationality. The only object of any special craft is a necklace, which brings "good luck", and when Morpheus proves to be wrong it generates no sympathy for the other general frustrated by impending doom. The highest values of mankind are superstition and sex - we are set apart from rabbits only by our ability to fight. And when the cake was used to demonstrate that people are just automata, it left no doubt as to what these automata are ultimately for.

Exactly! Do you really want another hollywood movie praising human beings? They're not that great, when you consider the alternatives.

I don't care whether they praise humans or not, really, but I think it's pretty clear the humans were supposed to be the good guys who you empathize with, and yet there wasn't any reason to. Movies are cooler when you have empathy for at least one of the characters.

Coincidentally, I started learning Smalltalk with Squeak a few weeks prior to watching the Matrix. The scene with the Oracle made me think about how the Matrix and Squeak are similar. Squeak and the Matrix both have several programs that are running at the same time, some aware of each other, others not. Programs in the Matrix can write new programs or hack other programs, and can manipulate other objects. Same for Squeak. Hmmm, maybe none of this makes sense... Squeak is calling to me again... I need a fix.

It makes one wonder what language the Matrix is written in. In the first movie, Agent Smith referred to the debate about the failure of the first matrix, and how some thought that the problem might be that they lacked the programming language to describe a perfect world (this raises some interesting issues around TuringCompleteness?). Imagine the argument with TheArchitect?: "I told you JavaScript wasn't going to work."

Here's a line describing WhatIsTheMatrix?:

 "Computers control your mind. Keanu Reeves is your only hope.
 Geez, with that synopsis it sounds more like a horror movie."
 - Brian Briggs at

Seriously, people expect too much from TheMatrix. When I saw the first movie I thought "Wow, slow motion kung fu!", instead of thinking it was a philosophical work of art. I was expecting for TheMatrix trilogy since they started filming it (I saw Wachowski brothers' Bound) and I'm not disappointed, because it's visually intense, has lots of action and it pays homage to many elements from mythology and pop culture, and I'll see it again. When I want philosophy I seek it in AkiraKurosawa?, TakeshiKitano?, DavidLynch?, DavidCronenberg?, RomanPolanski?, WimWender?, IngmarBergman?, to name a few. TheMatrix is a very good sci-fi/action flick, with an interesting plot (IMHO). -- DanielYokomiso

Amen, brother. This reactions to the movie are classic cases of mismanaged expectations. It's a good solid sci-fi movie that I will enjoy seeing one or two more times.

Mind you, I read an interview with the brothers stating that _The Matrix_ was to be a blend of action, Christianity, zen Taoism and higher math. Or is that what you mean?

There's an interview where they talk about TheMatrix being about kung fu vs. robots. It's one of the memes they put in the movie. A colleague of mine said that he TheMatrix is similar to ArthurCeeClarke's "The City and the Stars", but I never thought about it. There are a lot of references and some background about Christian mythology, Buddhism, Taoism, etc, but IMO it goes not very deep in the philosophical consequences of said beliefs. Neo never became enlightened (as in Buddhist nirvana) or lose the self. Neither does he talk about universal principles (Tao), suffering and desire (Buddhism), forgiveness and compassion (Christianity); he just becomes SuperMan?/BruceLee in leather wear. I'm Buddhist, following the Soto Zen teachings, and the only Zen concepts in the movie are pop zen, not "meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha" concepts.

Yes, there is. Neo meets Morpheus. Morpheus teaches Neo. Morpheus turns out to be wrong, and Neo finds his own path, doing something that Morpheus would never have done (in The Matrix Revolutions). Textbook "kill your teacher" syndrome. Now if only he'd kill his God...

When I wrote the above, we were discussing the MatrixReloaded (MatrixRevolutions was still in the future). After seeing Revolutions I would say that Neo achieved a truly enlightened state (as per Buddhist teachings), and his ego ceases to exist. But I still insist that the Morpheus and Neo situation is more like father vs. son than "meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha."

One interesting thing I got from Neo's conversation with the architect is the idea that the whole prophesy and "the one saving humanity" stuff is just an exception handling routine; the whole thing is basically "catch any exceptions, then restart/reboot the application." The architect's first attempt to build the matrix on perfection failed miserably. Well, I guess we programmers all know that any "perfect" system will fail miserably when faced with inputs from an actual human being :) Restarting the application automagically seems like a great way to deal with unforeseeable exceptions.

Since the appearance of TheOne? repeats, it made me think of a memory leak, and the whole "The One" subroutine as a garbage collection cycle.

Personally, I never needed to see Ted naked. MostHeinous?, dude. Amazing how many movies that Ted character has been in.

I didn't think it sucked so badly. Then again, I went to the cinema expecting to be entertained, not enlightened. Some people feel the W. brothers have somehow reneged on an tacit promise to spread some wisdom around. Well, here is the news, children: MatrixReloaded is a mass-market entertainment product. Any similarity to "philosophy", "wisdom", "spirituality", "Zen", or any of that stuff found in any anything you see on the screen out of any contemporary Hollywood studio is purely coincidental. If you want to get that kind of value out of cinema, check out Bergman, Tarkovksy and Kurosawa. Hell, South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut will do more for you than either of the Matrix films.

I went to the film expecting to be entertained. I wasn't that impressed with the pop-Zen "philosophy" of TheMatrix, but it was woven well into the story and action, making it an entertaining movie. However, all the ponderous speeches and beautiful-but-static imagery in MatrixReloaded made it excruciatingly boring. I wasn't expecting to be enlightened, but two hours of movie with two or three interesting visual effects is not good mass-market entertainment. This is a disappointing two-hour-plus movie that could have been a great ninety-minute movie: if they had cut the speeches and whittled down the dialogue to its bare essentials, I might have enjoyed it.

Actually, there is one worthwhile message in MatrixReloaded, one that will, if properly understood and acted upon, improve your life: go buy a Ducati.

I just saw Reloaded and I was floored. The Fights. The Action. It was great. I agree with the theory that Zion might be a part of the Matrix. I was wondering how Neo could stop the squids.
Am I the only one that thought they didn't even get the SFX right? There was far to much CGI and it was pretty clearly CGI, not enough actual wire work like the first movie.

Also, they didn't get the pacing or the emotional involvement right. There was too much exposition thrown in all over the place. Many of the fight scenes were just too long, there were too many of them and we knew who was going to win. Neo, always Neo. Nobody else won a fight (define winning here as surviving long enough to get somewhere and have a breather); the best Trinity and Morpheus could hope for is to survive long enough to get rescued.

At the beginning, there were three main characters and one adversary; at the end, there were three main characters and one adversary. The relationships between them had not changed in the slightest.

I liked the idea of the matrix having to have an escape valve, but the exposition of the idea was incoherent.

So, didn't work at the SFX level, didn't work at the emotional level, didn't work at the intellectual level... didn't work.

-- TomAyerst
Why do they fight so much?

Because it's so cool ;) Seriously, the WachowskyBrothers? are big fans of kung-fu movies and anime. This kind of aesthetic was reproduced in the movies. Read this interview and make your conclusions:

How old do some of you guys sound? I thought it was totally kick-ass. Worth it for the slow-mo lorry-crash alone. I walked out of there wanting to swing round poles and jump on top of cars. We will probably be doing the Bruce Lee 'beckon' for the next month or two. No element of the original movie was original; most of the bullet-time stuff had been done before in UK adverts among other places (and they are always ripping somebody off). It is the combination that was great. Really stylish. Fantastic. Multiply-layered cut-n-paste references. Some great jokes on the pseudo-philosophizing of any number of dodgy sci-fi tales. Every character that ever was, complete with dodgy Franco-German accents and petulant boredom. Who knows, they might even drill down to actual Buddhism, but I don't really care if they don't. Irony, folks! Actual irony, from America! I knew it existed there, but Hollywood rarely got it before. Full-on action with no respect for consistency. (I mean, everyone knows a big Duc' would've left everything for dust in about three seconds.) I even liked the ending. But then, I'm a cheap date and proud of it :). -- RichardHenderson.

It's interesting to compare the Matrix series to the Terminator series - both play on the theme of human and machines. In the Terminator, time travel is the extra twist, while in the Matrix movies, it's the kung fu. The style of the Matrix is vastly superior, good enough to make up for some of the fumbles in its other parts that people have noticed on this page. The TerminatorThree? is a creation story - it starts the explanation of how the Terminator world came about, and we see the rise of the machines first hand. The Matrix series isn't at that point yet; it would be interesting to see how the Matrix came to rise up and fight against the humans. At least, it would be interesting to see such a movie told with the flair of the Matrix series, instead of the summer action movie adequacy of TerminatorThree?.

There's at least one parallel scene in both movies: in the Matrix Reloaded, an agent jumps onto the car of the people its chasing, and rips open the roof to get access to them. It's spectacular because it's on a crowded highway, and the agent first jumps onto - and totally crumples in bullet-time - another car first, and then reverse-surfs a while on the hood of the speeding car. In the TerminatorThree?, the icy blonde Terminatrix jumps onto the hearse the heroes are driving, and rips open the back to get at them. It's a little more plodding compared to the Matrix. She times her jump carefully through the trees onto a nearly deserted road, lands on the car, rips open the roof, etc. Somehow she gets banged off and the good guys get away unhurt. Nowhere near as memorable as in the Matrix, but good, standard, action-movie fare.

Why does Zion, while being some sort of refugee camp, have such an advanced textile industry?

Many of you must have had broken eyes, because there was nothing standard about the car chases, explosions, fights, or any of the rest of it. I think you've prejudged the movie and miss how good most of the shots really are. For example, that motorcycle chase on the freeway, outstanding. Excellent CG, yet barely noticeable, just the way it should be. I've seen all three movies, and to me at least, the Matrix is about bringing comic book style storytelling, where the only visual limit is the imagination and the themes are grandiose, to the big screen. The Matrix has succeeded wonderfully in saying to other filmmakers, "let your imaginations loose, we'll still pay to see it". You can't watch many movies these days without seeing touches of the Matrix in it, and that's an impressive thing.

You know, if you all continue to bash so harshly on every movie that attempts a trilogy, you'll make it impossible to ever bring a longer-running series to the big screens. I want to see stories stretched out over 5, 10 or more movies, or at the very least, more trilogies. While reloaded may not have been as good as the first, it's still better than just about every other movie of its time, so why dis it; second to the Matrix isn't a half-bad place to be. Frankly, there aren't enough movies being made in the sci-fi/fantasy genre, so let's not lambaste the few we do get!

Sorry, just because a movie's in a trilogy, doesn't mean we're not allowed to dislike it. I went in with moderate expectations - that it probably wouldn't be spectacular, but that it should at least be entertaining. It fell way short. I'll agree the CG was nicely done, but it was too long and slow for a graphics demo. What signs of prejudice do you see in this, or in any of the above?

For a more thought-provoking and interesting movie than any of the Matrix movies, see ExistenzMovie?
To my mind, the biggest problem with this movie was that it took all the ingredients from the original and turned each of them up to eleven, but didn't think enough about how to fit them together - watching it is more like going down a checklist than experiencing a story - like they were more interested in hitting their quota of action set-pieces, romantic scenes, mysterious advice from the Oracle, etc than in crafting a coherent experience from it. There are plenty of outstanding scenes, but they don't connect...
See Also: MatrixRevolutions MatrixAllegories

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