a critiQal film review The Matrix Revolutions (2003)

Plot: With the machines on their way to Zion, an epic battle is about to begin for Zion's very survival. Meanwhile, Neo (Reeves) must journey into the heart of Machine City to a final confrontation with the renegade Agent Smith (Weaving) if he has any chance to fulfill his destiny and end the War against the Machines.

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  • ...the final chapter in this saga is a bit of a disappointment.

The original film, The Matrix (1999) exploded onto the movie scene a few years back and totally revolutionized the way movies were made (somewhat like Toy Story (1995) did years earlier). Then, another shocker from the producers – not only was a game to be made (Enter The Matrix) that continued the storyline, but the second and third chapters – The Matrix Reloaded (2003) and The Matrix Revolutions, respectively – were to be released in the same year (May and November of 2003, if I remember correctly).

With this astonishing speed of release, it made me wonder if the second and third films were going to be just slapped together, or if the Wachowski Brothers were going to be able to do the impossible and make both movies as original and engaging as the first film.

When The Matrix Reloaded (2003) was released, I breathed a sigh of relief, since the film was an excellent continuation of the first film, while at the same time introducing exciting new characters and providing an excellent lead-in to (apparently) the game. I ended up buying the game for my Playstation 2, and haven’t been able to get very far in it so far, so am unsure about how much storyline developed through that aspect.

Then, The Matrix Revolutions hit DVD shelves this week, and I rushed out to complete the trilogy. Without having really seen any previews for this third installment (I must have been in a hole or something to have missed the previews!), I popped in the film and hit play. Would the final installment of this groundbreaking trilogy live up to it’s predecessors, or should they have spent a little more time finishing the trilogy?

The characters we’ve come to know across these three films (and the game) are back, and we welcome them with open – if a bit hesitant – arms. Keanu Reeves, astonishingly impressive in the first two films, looks to be feeling a bit of the weight of his success on his shoulders, and seems to be growing a bit tired of all this attention. His performance falters somewhat in The Matrix Revolutions, but not enough to bring the whole thing crashing down around him.

Carrie Ann Moss’ character Trinity is looking a bit peaked as well, but she also manages to make it through her scenes okay.

Laurence Fishburne seems to have been navigated into a little bit of a background character (along with relative newcomer Jada Pinkett Smith, who appeared in both Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977). It’s got epic battle sequences (Zion vs. The Machines instead of the Rebellion vs. The Empire), it’s got a lone man fighting to save everyone (Neo as Luke), it’s got a mysterious helper guiding our hero along his way (The Oracle as Yoda!), a love story, etc., etc., etc.

In comparison to that classic film, The Matrix Revolutions‘ characters seem to fall a bit short, since the gigantic battles sort of take over for a while, and the characters get a bit lost in the shuffle. Luckily, the plot does manage to pull itself back together and finish the film with only a little bit of confusion along the way. Of course, then it throws out another whole mess of confusion and things get a bit muddled once again.

The storyline did seem a logical continuation of the other films, and the characters didn’t do anything that we didn’t expect them to. This is kind of good and bad all at the same time, since while they stuck with what we were expecting in The Matrix Revolutions, the fact we were expecting it made the movie not as exciting as the others were.

Originality still abounds, but the sheer wonder we had for the first two films has worn off a bit, and we’ve grown a bit accustomed to it all. Even wondrous things become old after awhile (Maybe that’s why the Wachowski Brothers released the follow-ups to the original back-to-back: so that the general public’s notoriously short attention span wouldn’t wander too far).

After seeing the way the filmmakers stepped the fighting sequences up a notch in The Matrix Reloaded (2003), I’m sure a lot of people (me included) expected them to outdo themselves yet again in The Matrix Revolutions. Instead, they twisted a bit and focused more on epic battle sequences among hundreds, rather than the one-on-one showdowns we were getting used to. True, there still is the final struggle between Mr. Smith and Neo, but that is one of the few in this film. No, the battle for Zion is the center of this film’s special effects, and, just like the previous films, their effects are right on the money again.

The effects, especially in the Zion battle sequences, are truly epic in scale. Remember what you thought the first time you saw the epic battle sequence between armies in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)? Well, get ready to experience that awe again, only this time it’s a comparatively small group of humans against more Machines than you can even imagine. It’s breathtaking, and actually causes so much of a distraction you may lose the storyline of the film for moments at a time.

That’s not to say they skimped in any of the other sequences in The Matrix Revolutions – they didn’t. The battle for Zion, though, blows everything else away (sort of like the fight sequence between Neo and the multiple Smiths did in The Matrix Reloaded (2003)) due to it’s sheer scope and breathtaking effects (One note on effects, here: why did Smith and Neo fight in the rain? It muddies up the film a bit, makes the characters seem less distinct, and seems to me to be a bad choice for their climactic final battle).

So, after having said all that, what’s my final say on The Matrix Revolutions, the finale to The Matrix trilogy? I’m torn. It didn’t live up to my expectations after the first two films, but I’m not sure of a movie that could have (see the review of The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King (2003) if you’re not convinced – and I didn’t even like The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) that much!)

Maybe if Reloaded had not been as engrossing, this film would have rated much higher in my book. Plus, the ending is a bit sadder, just knowing that a Matrix 4 isn’t in the works – this is the Wachowski Brothers final chapter in the saga.

All in all, The Matrix Revolutions is a somewhat disappointing conclusion to a cultural phenomenon – but who’s not going to see it?

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