Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Mindblowing, Mindboggling Matrix

During my brief sojourn to KL last weekend, I managed to catch The Matrix Reloaded - that long awaited sequel to the philosophical cyberpunk movie The Matrix written and directed by the very talented Wachowski brothers.

A lot of people I talk to did not like the first Matrix, mostly because they didn't understand the story. I personally thought The Matrix was groundbreaking, and thoroughly entertaining with mindblowing special effects. It managed to fuse together a delightful blend of cyberpunk sci-fi, kung-fu, video game-like action, messianic religious themes and freshman year philosophy. Everything fell into place neatly: the action fans can enjoy the Yuen Wo-Ping choreographed fight sequences; the special effects buff, the hypercool bullet-time gun-fights and the more cerebral ones can ponder the metaphysics behind this alternate reality called the Matrix. A true cyberpunk fan will definitely dig The Matrix.

With the Matrix Reloaded, expectations obviously had been set skyhigh by the fans and that could spoil one's enjoyment of the movie. This is the sequel syndrome - it has to surplass the original without the benefit of freshness and surprise. Sure, this Matrix sequel does have a few things up its sleeve and breaks more grounds in special effects but the first kiss is always the best. Reloaded is loaded with action, stunts and effects. It also serves as a bridge to the final chapter of the Matrix saga, The Matrix Revolutions. Perhaps that is its greatest handicap - one leaves the theatre with more questions than answers.

And what a stunning string of questions did this second Matrix raise. SPOILERS COMING UP. Neo - Keanu Reeves - finds out that the Oracle is a program and that the Matrix itself is actually version 6.0 and that Zion and the so-called real world could actually be a super-Matrix itself. END OF SPOILER. What is real and what is not? We are given no answers at the end. New intriguing characters such as the Merovingians, the Keymaker and the Architect makes this second installment an challenging watch, demanding one's attention and definitely a repeat viewing to fully comprehend the many concepts spewed.

Highlights of Reloaded include Neo's fight with hundreds of Agent Smiths, the meeting with the Oracle, the freeway chase and Neo's meeting with the mystical Architect, the maker of the Matrix. Intriguing is one word to describe the movie. Obviously being a bridge to the third installment, it doesn't have the sweet after-taste ending of the first but it is still thoroughly entertaining ride. Just sit back and enjoy the spectacle and don't ask too many unnecessary questions. Ignorance can be bliss.

For those who are not contented with ignorance, Davin Arul's excellent primer contains enough speculations to fuel endless debates with your fellow cyberpunks.

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