I Finally See The Matrix

With my new 27" TV, I decided to (finally) see The Matrix. (And considering that it was in widescreen, this was a correct decision. Widescreen on my old 19" was like watching ants on a plain: haul out the binoculars!) Here are my thoughts:

1. It was less complicated than I had expected. Due to the mystique surrounding the films, I had imagined something more along the lines of Lan (truly strange anime with all kinds of unrealities and multiple dimensions). In comparison, The Matrix has one of the most straight-forward plots I've ever seen. Far less complicated than your average French film. And much less depressing!

2. It's the sort of film that Keanu Reeves does very, very well. No emoting necessary, but he has a kind of introverted, wide-eyed uncertainty that, in this film at least, hasn't blossomed into full-blown angst. I also prefer Reeves shaved to unshaved. With hair, albeit short, he just looks like Keanu Reeves, a kind of icon in his own right. But without hair, you can see what truly elegant bones the boy has--possibly one of the reasons he gets parts so consistently. (I have also decided, based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever, that Reeves is a really, really, really nice guy, and people just love giving him parts and working with him on films, which is why he can walk into just about anything, including parts that, unlike Neo, are not cut out for him.)

3. Despite having seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, I still thought The Matrix's 1990s version of the slow Kung Fu stuff was really cool, but then I'm easily impressed. I'd expected the film to be far, far, far more violent than it actually was. Which may mean that I've entered the ranks of the desensitized, but really, CSI has more violence and sex per episode (and far more implied violence and sex). There's something to be said for a film where the thing you remember best (as everyone does) is not the dead bodies, but the cascading bullet casings from the helicopter.

4. I guessed the a-ha moment. And it still impressed me. It took Neo awhile, but then I have the benefit of the film's popularity (and subsequent discussions) and lots and lots of Star Trek. Of course, the characters in Star Trek never think three-dimensionally or other reality at all, but they talk about it a lot. Despite having guessed the a-ha moment, it was still very satisfying to see it (something which academic writers about popular culture never seem to understand and which I will address in a different post). I felt the same thing about Aliens. That's the second Aliens, not the first Alien, which I will probably never see. Aliens scared the bejeebees out of me, and Alien is apparently scarier. In any case, I knew how Aliens would end, more or less, and it was still satisfying, "cathartic," Artistole would say.

So The Matrix was worthwhile and not a bad way to break in a new TV. I'm not sure that Neo would be as sympathetic a character, however, once his introverted wide-eyed wonder crossed into introverted self-prophetic assurance. But then Dune suffered from the same problem.



Henry said...

Alien is far scarier than Aliens, but Aliens is more an action movie while Alien is horror.

I saw Alien once, which was enough (I don't like horror movies much). I think I saw Aliens at least twice -- once in the theatre and once on video. The second time I saw it, I realized something. The space marines are kicking the crap of the aliens. Every marine that goes down takes a dozen aliens with him (or her). There's no horror in that. From a war-movie point of view, the doomed mission is no more "scary" than the fall of the Alamo or Custer's Last Stand.

Eugene said...

The Matrix, like the first Star Wars movie, is smart (well, except for that dumb stuff about the batteries) and snappy entertainment that doesn't take itself too seriously. But in order to preserve your respect for the filmmakers, it is very important that you not watch any of the sequels.

You should instead watch the more creative The Animatrix, though I would recommend skipping the first three excessively portentous segments.

Another great what-is-reality movie, also leaning heavily on the film noir style, is Dark City. Tom Cruise remade Open Your Eyes. Don't watch the Tom Cruise version. Also, the gorgeously animated Ghost in the Shell: Innocence (though you'd have to watch Ghost in the Shell first to make any sense of it). But don't watch the dub.