In The Matrix Neo discovers that the world in which
he lives is in fact an elaborate computer program. With the
help of Morpheus and Trinity, he wakes up in the real world
to find it effectively destroyed. The machines have won the
war with mankind, but keep thousands alive as a necessary
power source, human batteries. Neo and the others can be literally
plugged into the Matrix and programmed with certain abilities,
a la Joe 90, but the Matrix has a powerful defence mechanism;
agents led by Mr Smith act as immune cells. Neo eventually
learns he is "the One" of prophecy, the only human in a pocket
of resistance who can combat the agents and take the first
step towards fighting back against the program...
In this second instalment, the machines have located Zyon,
the subterranean haven of the humans, and are drilling through
from the surface. Neo, "the One", becomes more powerful as
he discovers new abilities and undergoes prophetic visions.
However, the agent Mr Smith has received an upgrade by the
Matrix and is now much stronger and able to duplicate himself.
Neo is directed by the Oracle to the Keymaker, who holds the
secret to the source of the Matrix. Finally reaching the Architect,
Neo learns that there has been previous versions of Zyon,
each destroyed by the machines. It seems likely the same will
happen again. Confronted with a Catch 22 situation of two
choices, Neo decides upon another option...
I believe it is important to provide a synopsis of both films
here, because The Matrix Reloaded assumes the viewer
has already seen the fist instalment. Any newcomer to this
three-part storyline will be completely lost by beginning
here. The premise is complicated enough as it is. Ask four
people what the plot of Reloaded is and the chances
are you'll get four different answers. I did. This one leaves
far more new questions than it does tie-up loose ends from
the original film: Why didn't the sentinel machines simply
follow the human ships into Zyon? Why don't the survivors
in the real world simply awaken all the human batteries plugged
into the Matrix? The cocoons were not well protected when
Neo awoke from his in the first film. Are the twins programs
written for the Matrix? Otherwise where did their unique abilities
come from. All aware humans have extra abilities within the
Matrix, but how did Neo come by his extraordinary gifts? Perhaps
some of these questions will be answered in the last of the
trilogy, but I doubt it.
Matrix was an intelligent science fiction story with original
ideas and new ways of realising them for the screen. It's
almost as if the Wachowski brothers listened to the praise
before dreaming-up a hyper-convoluted continuation which is
just too complicated for even the most avid SF fans. So let's
leave the plot behind, because this is an extremely entertaining
arrangement of set pieces. The fight scenes are better than
ever; the multiple Mr Smith example is itself longer than
all of those featured in The Matrix. By far the biggest
moment in the movie is the meticulously planned and brilliantly
choreographed freeway chase, which incorporates several spectacular
stunts, amazing effects and gripping martial arts. The extras
documentary on this scene takes you from the script to the
storyboards, a computer animation realisation, many discussions
involving models, and practice runs on a mile and a half stretch
of freeway literally built from scratch.
And taking of extra features, aside from the aforementioned
freeway chase there is a shorter behind-the-scenes documentary,
a featurette which looks at how the trilogy of films tie-in
The Animatrix and
the computer game, a blatant advertisement for The Animatrix,
the making of the game Enter the Matrix, the MTV movie
awards, and design and advertising inspired by The Matrix.
A fair amount, granted; but do they warrant a second disc?
Maybe, maybe not. The Matrix DVD release set the trend
for what was to come with a veritable plethora of features
and linking themes, all on a single disc (at least initially).
Reloaded carries a more standard format, when it could
have once again reinvented the DVD format. Or am I expecting
In many ways The Matrix is a better film than Reloaded,
but the constant action scenes make this one more exciting
to watch. So, my advice is to disengage your brain and enjoy
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