Home > Media & Reviews > The Matrix: Revolutions (Non-Spoiler Review)

The Matrix: Revolutions (Non-Spoiler Review)

November 7th, 2003

Note: For those who are looking for a detailed look at Revolutions, you can see my
Matrix Revolutions: Major Spoiler Review.


I just finished watching the film tonight. If I had felt more up to it, and didn’t mind being all the way in to Shinjuku (an hour from home) at 11:00 pm in the pouring rain, I could have seen Keanu Reeves and the Wachowski brothers at the Milano-za in Kabukicho last night for the premier. But frankly, even if I had been feeling better and had not had so much work to do, I probably would not have gone–too much effort. Good enough to see it tonight.

I was quite surprised to see that the theater was relatively empty–maybe 1/10 of all seats were filled. Of course, it was a 6:30 show on a weekday, and the same film was showing on two other screens, those shows having started within an hour before this one–still, I expected huge crowds (which is why I bought the tickets two weeks early). Go figure.

By the way, when I say “non-spoiler” for this review, I do not mean that there are no details here; I presume that you have seen the previews, and so you know a few things. If you have not seen the previews and want no information about those specifics at all, then stop reading here.

Okay, the movie. Overall impressions: good and bad. The good is that the movie is long on action and special effects. If you thought that Reloaded was too short on action, you’re in for a treat here. The battle for Zion goes on for a long time, is filmed beautifully, and barely gives you time to breathe. The fight between Neo and Smith is similarly well done–almost overdone, in fact, with huge rain-driven water impact bubbles formed by their collision, and almost Wile E. Coyote-like craters formed by impacts. No shortage of action in this film. So much so, in fact, that you won’t realize until after you leave the theater that they did not use the trademark Matrix “bullet-time” shot (where the action freezes and the camera pans around) even once. Hmm.

The bad: don’t expect much in the way of definitive answers. Why does the Oracle look different? How was Neo able to blast the sentinels (the squid-like robots) at the end of the last film? What does Agent Smith really want? Well, the Brothers Wachowski don’t exactly tell you as much as they hint at it, suggest it, or even riddle it in a way. I do not think I am giving anything away by telling you–the Oracle made a choice and this is part of the price. (Huh?) Neo is still somehow connected to the Matrix. (Uh… how?) Smith wants–well, haven’t you figured that out by now? Not me. You just gotta figure he wants to control everything, or destroy it or something. Not made tremendously clear. See? You still don’t know much more than you did before you started this paragraph–and that’s kind of how you feel coming out of the film. Like too many loose ends were left for you to figure out. Yes, it’s sometimes good to leave some things open so the viewer can imagine what happens. But in Revolutions, there’s way too much that is not answered directly, and you get the feeling that the Wachowskis just weren’t really able to figure the answers, so they fobbed that job off on you. Open-ended, but not very satisfying.

The film begins where we left off, with Neo and Smith/Bane out cold, and the Hammer (the hovercraft that rescued our heroes) looking for the Logos, Niobe’s ship, disabled by the EMP blast Smith/Bane set off. And it is here, right at the start, that the film takes a kind of left turn into philosophical exposition, primarily discussing love and what we do for it. Don’t worry, that doesn’t give anything away, certainly no surprises, and might help you focus on a relevant point that comes in later on. Neo is trapped where he is, and Morpheus, Trinity, and Seraph (on loan from the Oracle) have to go see the Merovingian to free him. Of course they get Neo out, he sees the Oracle, and the story is set.

From that point on, it’s pretty simple. Neo and Trinity go one way, and everyone else goes the other. Each storyline is pretty single-minded, almost relentlessly so. The action, while beautifully filmed, is almost comic-book in style, going to extremes. Machines and characters get banged up and damaged so ruthlessly it is hard to accept that they still function; sometimes it feels like a demolition derby. An unbelievably cool demolition derby.

Philosophy still had quite a part to play here. We get the themes of choice and control coming back, discussed and acted out in various ways, with love now thrown into the mix more than before. What would we give? How far would we go? What did we choose, and do we realize it?

After the first and second film, you came out feeling like you really learned new things about the story and the characters, that there were twists and turns and revelations and surprises. Not so much in Revolutions. It’s like they ran out of clever ideas, and so just ran the story and the characters out to their conclusion. You do find out a thing or two about what was going on that you didn’t know before, but none of it comes as much of a surprise or a twist. Even the ending is a bit inconclusive; you get a fair understanding of what happens in the world, but what might happen next, and even the ultimate fate of a character or two, is not spelled out exactly. You’d almost think that they were leaving things open for a possible future sequel or maybe a TV series (I won’t say how casting would work), if the producer had not made it painfully clear that this was it for the Matrix, no more.

The first Matrix film was the best, partly for its innovation and mind-blowing revelations. It’s a hard choice between second and third place, but all told, I think I came out feeling better about the Reloaded sequel than I did about Revolutions. A lot of that may have to do with the revelations and surprises in Reloaded that were missing from Revolutions; a lot may have to do with the interesting possibilities that Reloaded left open, but Revolutions did not.

Revolutions is still a great film, no doubt about it–I will see it again, maybe even a few times. It just had a few hard acts to follow. I would have preferred the Wachowskis taking a bit more trouble to lay out their world for us. Still, it is all right as far as wrapping up the series goes, and more than all right as far as being entertained goes.

Note: a spoiler review, nothing held back, is on its way, in a few days. It will be linked to here as well as from a new entry. Keep your eyes open.

Categories: Media & Reviews Tags: by
  1. Will Fife
    November 7th, 2003 at 08:30 | #1

    The real reason that the Oracle looks different, is that the actress who played the original oracle died between the two films, and had to be written out, in a way that would work.

  2. Luis
    November 7th, 2003 at 09:09 | #2

    Will:

    Yes, I know Gloria Foster died; that’s been in the news for a very long time–I mentioned it in my review for “Reloaded.”

    If the Wachowskis had simply switched them and pretended like nothing had happened, then it would have been strange, but at least consistent. Instead, they made it a part of the story, with people noticing. That makes more sense visually, but if you do that, you need to have a good explanation. They didn’t have one, it seems, so they made vague references to a price being paid.

    Half an explanation is less satisfactory than none, IMO….

  3. November 16th, 2003 at 17:14 | #3

    just saw the film and have mixed feelings, mostly out of confusion so patiently awaiting your spoiler review

  4. Luis
    November 16th, 2003 at 22:48 | #4

    Mark:

    Wait no longer. Spent two days (not the full days, of course) penning it, just posted it this afternoon. Follow the white rabbit from this post:

    http://www.blogd.com/archives/000361.html

    There’s a form for comments at the bottom if you’d like to, or just return to the main post and comment there. Thanks for coming by!

  5. Anonymous
    December 11th, 2003 at 04:04 | #5

    matrix beats the shit out of it

  6. Casie
    May 12th, 2005 at 04:18 | #6

    when did the Matrix come out

Comments are closed.