Shiny Shelf

The Matrix Revolutions

By Jon de Burgh Miller on 24 December 2003

WARNING! Contains spoilers!

Gun-obsessed psychos the world over will be venturing out of their parents’ basements in their droves this week as the final part of the Matrix trilogy is unleashed on the world.

I’ll confess, I’ve never been a fan of The Matrix. I found the first one cold, derivative, soulless and too far up its own backside to ever generate more than a mild interest caused by its visual originality, and the second one, with its ropey CGI and nonsensical plot was little more than laughable. So I wasn’t expecting much from Revolutions, which made it all the more pleasant when the film turned out to be a fair bit better than the other two.

As ‘Revolutions’ begins, Keanu’s cronies wait for Neo to wake up from the coma he ended ‘Reloaded’ in (he must have watched the film), while the council of Zion awaits the arrival of the machines and their inevitable annihilation. Meanwhile in the Matrix, Neo has lots of surreal, metaphoric and ‘deep’ experiences that will, according to Matrix fans, literally change the way you view the world.

If, however, you have little interest in 1980s-style macho size-compensation issues, you might want to skip the first half hour of ‘Revolutions’. There’s very little here of interest to anyone but the hardest of the hardcore Matrix fans. 45 minutes in, however, things finally start to hot up, as the machines arrive in Zion and the battle for the Docks, and the CGI Oscars, finally begins.

‘The Matrix Revolutions’ definitely deserves to win every effects award going. The model work, both CG and live action, is incredible, and some of the compositing is so good your mind finds itself trying to see matte lines where there are none. The giant robot suits are great fun to watch, and the action sequences so heart-poundingly frenetic that one can’t fail to be impressed by the artistry of the sequence. Almost every major effects house in town had a stab at different elements of ‘Revolutions’ and it really shows. This is a film about style over substance, and the battle sequences certainly reinforce that, and to be honest are worth the price of admission alone to use a cliche (and why not, this is a Matrix review after all).

There is, however, one major flaw in these sequences, and that is that the Warshowski¬†Brothers seem highly skilled at directing human fight scenes yet have no idea how to tell a story with ships, vehicles and alien robots. Frequently the viewer finds themselves lost in a sequence, unsure who is going where or what aspect they’re seeing. There’s lots of stuff happening on screen at all times, and it all looks very nice, but the cuts do little to suggest a viewpoint or the conveyance of time, giving the whole thing the impression of a bit of a shambles from a storytelling point of view, even if it’s a resounding success from a visual one.

The final hour of the film sees the Warshowski’s myth allusion hitting full throttle as Neo descends into his personal Hades, blinded by his love for his Penelope, Trinity. The religious and mythological allusions come thick and fast, and seem to be there as a desperate attempt to give the film some gravitas and studenty intellectual appeal, but the fact remains the joy of guns is the only real message these films have to give the adoring masses.

As the film nears its end, and a fight that starts off fantastically reaches a ridiculous and confusing conclusion, it becomes apparent that the end of this trilogy is both obvious and something of a let down. Overall, ‘The Matrix Revolutions’ is definitely the strongest film of the trilogy, but purely for the breathtaking visual spectacle it offers. The characters are unlikeable, the message (guns are great, and if you can’t think your way out of a situation, you should shoot your way out) dubious, and the black coat and weapons fetish so adolescent and dated, that it struggles to be taken seriously, but whatever their faults, one has to give credit that these films have changed cinema for the better.

Whether it’s through slow-time, the heavy use of wire work or simply by showing the best live action giant-robots fighting humans sequence in history, action pictures have been forever changed and whatever we think of the story, we should at least be grateful for that. Oh yeah, and we got the Animatrix too, which is brilliant.

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By Jon de Burgh Miller

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