The Matrix Reloaded

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Rating: R

Starring:
Keanu Reeves as Neo
Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus
Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity
Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith
Matt McColm as Agent Thompson
Jada Pinkett Smith as Niobe
Monica Bellucci as Persephone
Lambert Wilson as Merovingian
Harold Perrineau Jr. as Kain
Harry J. Lennix as Lock
Clayton Watson as The Kid
Daniel Bernhardt as Agent Johnson
Christine Anu as Lazarus
Steve Bastoni as Captain Sorren
Nona M. Gaye as Zee
Lachy Hulme as Sparks
Roy Jones Jr. as Captain Ballard
Randall Duk Kim as The Keymaker
Sing Ngai as Seraph
Adrian Rayment as Twin One
Neil Rayment as Twin Two
Anthony Wong as Ghost

Special Features:

Preload: Go behind the scenes with the cast and crew

The Freeway Chase: Anatomy of the mind-blowing scene

Enter the Matrix: Making of the ground-breaking video game

The Matrix Unfolds: A look at the Matrix phenomenon

Get Me An Exit – Inspired Design And Advertising

“The Animatrix” trailer

The MTV Movie Awards Reloaded

Other Info:
Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French Language Track
Running Time: 138 Minutes

Synopsis:
“The Matrix Reloaded” picks up some time after the first film left off. Neo has grown accustom to his superpowers in the Matrix. Some people look to him as a hero, others worship him as a god, while others think he’s overrated. While Neo is confused by his role in the real world and his destiny, his one comfort is his love of Trinity. She’s the most precious thing in his life. But will his love for her distract him from his mission to save humanity?

Meanwhile, the machines have discovered the location of the underground human city of Zion and they are tunneling their way to it. With little time remaining, Morpheus comes up with a plan to stop the machines once and for all and fulfill the prophecy that he so zealously believes Neo is the center of. Under the guidance of the Oracle, they are directed to find the Keymaster who can lead them to the heart of the Matrix. However, some rather nasty independent programs guard him. It will take all of their abilities to accomplish their mission. The only things standing in their way are the agents, as well as the newly resurrected Agent Smith who has developed some disturbing new powers.

“The Matrix Reloaded” ends on a cliffhanger that leads directly in “The Matrix Revolutions” that hits on November 5, 2003.

“The Matrix Reloaded” is rated R for sci-fi violence and some sexuality.

The Movie:
If you liked “The Matrix”, you should enjoy “The Matrix Reloaded”. It’s more of the same from the first film, only cranked up to 11. The effects are more spectacular, the fights are bigger, and you dive even deeper into the Matrix. In fact, viewing the first film is required for viewing the sequel. There’s no way you can watch this movie and understand it without seeing the first.

As mentioned, the effects are extremely cool. Neo’s flight scenes are awesome and it gives you a small taste of what you could expect in a “Superman” movie. The Burly Brawl, where Neo battles 100 Agent Smiths, is absolutely stunning. The fight becomes more incredible and outrageous as more Smiths jump into the fray. The addition of multiple Smith’s is seamless (except for a couple of moments where you see stunt doubles in the background). This will emerge as one of the classic fights from the film. The scenes in Zion are also effects heavy and very impressive. It’s a cross between a world from “Aliens” and “Blade Runner”. The setting could give some “Star Wars” locations a run for their money in terms of detail and imagination. The unveiling of the city really helps to open up the world a bit more.

The fights are ramped up more as well. Besides the Burly Brawl, there’s a fun new battle with the Virus Twins. Their creepy powers (which apparently make them analogous to ghosts) throw a fun new twist into the fights. That particular fight leads into a spectacular freeway chase that you’ve probably heard about. While it’s not the best car chase ever filmed, it is quite impressive. The highlights are a motorcycle chase with Trinity into oncoming traffic and a battle between Morpheus and an Agent on top of a moving truck. It’s long and intense, just as you would hope for in a Matrix film.

Keanu Reeves isn’t quite as dynamic as he was in the first movie (not that he was much anyway, but that’s another matter), but that’s what’s required of him this time around. He’s quiet, centered, and more confident of his powers. His only real emotional scenes are those with Trinity. It’s interesting to see the reactions of the inhabitants of Zion towards him. Some worship him like a god. Others worship him like a celebrity. It adds an interesting dimension to the situation he’s in. As for the other characters, Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss are pretty much exactly the same as they were in the first film. There’s no real change in their characters except that Morpheus is perceived as a bit of an idealistic lunatic for believing in the prophecy. It’s interesting to see that not everyone sees Neo the way he does. Agent Smith provides some good humor to the mix as he returns in his creepy, machine-like monotone. His reappearance is almost like seeing an old friend again…that wants to kill you.

Now to get into the not so good side of Reloaded.

I’m a big fan of “The Matrix”, so I walked into this film with extremely high expectations. Unfortunately, my expectations were so high that it was practically impossible for Reloaded to meet them. I came away a little let down. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good movie. I just think I’ll have to see it a couple more times to really appreciate it. There were a number of reasons I was disappointed.

First off, some of the old tricks from the first film seem…well…old. In the middle of the scene, the action will stop and go into “bullet time” so that you can appreciate the beauty of the sheer carnage unfolding before you. While that was novel the first time around, it’s been so overused in other films that it now feels gratuitous. It feels like a “Hey! Look at me!” gesture. And if a fight scene doesn’t throw some new trick into the mix (like Virus powers, 100 Smiths, or Neo flying) then you get a distinct feeling of “been there, done that”. The ending of the film even seems like a rehash of the first film as well. I can’t get into details, but you’ll see what I’m referring to.

I had absolutely no problem understanding the plot of the first film. While some people griped about its complexity, I comprehended everything without trouble. However, Reloaded lost even me at times. The opening scenes are disorienting and you get lost right off the bat. Then, in a scene where the origin of the Matrix is explained, I became really confused. Very little about the explanation is clear and it goes by so fast you never get a chance to soak it in. This film really needs Cliffs Notes. You’ll likely need repeat viewings to understand it.

The pacing of the film is also all over the map. If there’s not mayhem on the screen, the plot slows to a crawl and you may find yourself checking your watch. The discussion about philosophy, destiny, and control add a lot of depth to the story, but they can be tedious. Necessary, but tedious.

Most of the secondary characters aren’t very interesting, either. They don’t seem to have any discernable personalities and you don’t really care if they live or die. On another note, the music is all over the place as well. Some of it is really dramatic and exciting, but other pieces sound like they came from bad TV movies. This is the case in the Burly Brawl and parts of the freeway chase. It was terribly disappointing. Then there’s a scene that shows a woman’s crotch in the Matrix code. It ended up coming across as gratuitous, pointless, and just plain stupid.

Finally, not a lot happens storywise in this film. I think you could go into Revolutions in November and watch it without seeing Reloaded. When it’s all said and done, this movie comes across as very much the middle part of the story where the characters are repositioned for the final act.

In the end, “The Matrix Reloaded” is a fun flick. It’s a great summer movie with a lot of action, effects, and adventure. However, it lacks the impact of the first film, mainly because you no longer have the sense of discovering something new. Reloaded seems a lot like the middle chapter in a saga and Revolutions, it seems, will be more promising.

The Extras:
As you watch The Matrix Reloaded DVD, several things become immediately apparent. The first is that there are shockingly few extras on the DVD. There are no galleries, commentaries, or other staples of genre film DVDs. That leads to the second apparent thing – they’re probably going to release another special edition DVD of The Matrix Reloaded with all the extra stuff missing here. That may factor into whether you buy this or not. The third noticeable thing about the DVD is the glaring absence of the Wachowski Brothers. They are notoriously shy about dealing with the press, but they appear nowhere on the DVD (except occasionally in the background of a behind the scenes shot). Every member of the cast and crew sing their praises, yet neither of them bothers to appear to talk about their creations. It has gone from charmingly quirky to kind of annoying. The final thing that is really apparent on the DVD is just how commercial it is. Out of the seven extra features on the DVD, one is a commercial for the Animatrix, another is the making of the Enter The Matrix video game, another is about the commercials tying into the movie, and the last is about how all of them tie together. That’s 57% of your DVD extras devoted to nothing but spinoffs from the film. For those like myself who bought many of these spinoffs, you’re left wanting a bit more than is offered here. That being said, though, there’s still a lot to entertain you.

Preload: Go behind the scenes with the cast and crew – This is your standard behind-the-scenes/making of video featurette. There are interviews with the cast and crew (except for the Wachowskis), lots of behind the scenes footage, and more. Since The Matrix Revolutions was filmed at the same time as Reloaded, you get little glimpses here and there of the set from the sequel. This feature lasts about 22 minutes.

The Freeway Chase: Anatomy of the mind-blowing scene – This is definitely one of the show stopper scenes of the film and this featurette goes in-depth into the making of it. This is probably the best of the extras on the DVD. They discuss how the scene was thought up, how a location was chosen to build a fake freeway, how the stunts were choreographed, and more. You’ll follow Carrie Anne Moss in stunt driving school, you’ll see her stunt double, and other cool stuff. You’ll get a look at how the CG special effects enhanced the scene and more. (And if you look carefully at where one of the crew is sitting during the interviews, you’ll see him sitting on a park bench that says, “In memory of Thomas Anderson”. What does it mean?) Overall, a fantastic in-depth look at the making of the scene.

Enter the Matrix: Making of the ground-breaking video game – I have yet to play Enter The Matrix, but I’m very familiar with it. After all, it features over an hour of footage filmed by the original cast and crew. It practically holds a whole separate movie on its own. This featurette details the game created by the Wachowskis. There’s a ton of behind the scenes footage featuring motion capture, set design, sound effects design, and more. If you’re a fan of the game, you’ll love this. If you haven’t played the game, this will make you want to. Jada Pinkett Smith is the star of the game and she’s heavily featured in this documentary.

Get Me An Exit – Inspired Design and Advertising – I have mixed feelings about this feature. On the one hand, I don’t like the fact that precious space for an extra is wasted discussing the commercials of the merchandise from the film. It seems like it could have been spent on something else. It also comes across as being overly commercial. On the other hand, it is a unique advertising campaign. The Wachowskis were involved in all the planning for the commercials. The first assistant director and film crew made them. The phones by Samsung were designed by the people that made the props in the movie. Overall it’s rare to have the merchandise so intimately tied to the creators of the movie. Throw in the fact that the commercials for Powerade are actually pretty funny and you end up with an interesting footnote in the making of The Matrix Reloaded.

The Matrix Unfolds: A look at the Matrix phenomenon – This video featurette seems like it was made before Reloaded came out in order to explain the massive multimedia blitz that was going to come. It’s essentially a commercial explaining how the video game, The Animatrix, Reloaded, and Revolutions are all tied together. There’s nothing new here or Matrix fans except a montage of behind the scenes clips. After all, if you’ve been following everything Matrix related then you already know all of it.

“The Animatrix” trailer – If you’ve already bought The Animatrix, then there’s nothing new here for you.

The MTV Movie Awards Reloaded – For the 2003 MTV Movie Awards, they filmed a parody of The Matrix Reloaded with Sean William Scott, Justin Timberlake, Will Ferrell, Andy Dick, and others. The original Keymaster even makes an appearance. This uncensored version of the parody is pretty funny. The scene featuring the Architect and his “ergo, concordantly” speech proves to be a perfect target for the parody and it ends up being one of the funniest parts of the clip. It’s a nice addition for the sake of completeness, as well as a good laugh. However, many of you probably already saw this on MTV.

I should also add that, for once, this WB DVD doesn’t come in a cardboard case. Nice to see them actually sell a DVD set in some sturdy packaging for once!

The Bottom Line:
Much like the movie, The Matrix Reloaded DVD is good, but it doesn’t quite live up to high expectations. You can probably expect a deluxe edition to come some time in the future with more extras, “ergo” that may influence whether you want to buy this or not.

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