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FILM REVIEW HHH1/2

‘Reloaded’ -- Take the Red Pill (Again)

‘Matrix’ Version 2.0: Visual Effects Are Stronger, Faster

By Kevin Der
ASSOCIATE ARTS EDITOR

The Matrix Reloaded

Written and Directed by Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski

Starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, and Carrie-Anne Moss

Rated R

What is The Matrix Reloaded? Control. Hyped. Perhaps overhyped. You have to see it for yourself. I’m not quite sure what to make of it yet. Before seeing it, I thought to myself with a certain degree of seriousness, “You know, it might not be that good.” I was so wrong. Mostly.

It was as good as the original Matrix, for sure -- and coming from someone who knows that the lobby scene is Chapter 29, that is no flimsy compliment. So, what happens in this sequel? In a sentence, Neo has to save Zion before the machines can destroy it. Enough said. For me, I guess understanding the sequel’s story was a lot like trying to figure out the first Matrix. It wasn’t completely clear the first time I saw the original, and that’s what’s going on here. Certain things, certain mysteries that went unanswered in The Matrix are explained in Reloaded, and some of them are complicated and come as a surprise. Putting it all together might take multiple viewings, not that you won’t see it over and over anyway.

Sadly, there are still some awful moments of dialogue, mostly between Neo and Trinity. “Do you want to talk?” “I need you.” “I love you.” They’re somewhat painful during delivery, but as the moment passes, they’re forgotten as soon as the bullets start flying.

The visuals are, for the most part, amazing. What’s seen in the trailers is just the tip of the iceberg. I certainly wasn’t prepared for it. Neo’s skills now include flying, and Morpheus can actually take on an agent now. Simply put, there’s a lot of fights. I was disappointed with a certain scene that was completely computer generated; in a few places it was obvious and a tad unconvincing.

There are more references to religion and mythology to fuel those who loved analyzing the first film: new characters with names like Persephone and Merovingian, for example. There’s more philosophy. The shot of Morpheus giving a speech to all of Zion has a somewhat obvious connotation. And the Neo-is-Christ notion is extended even further, an allegory that someone with no more than a rudimentary knowledge of religion such as myself should be able to grasp. I thought that was a brilliant part of The Matrix, and it was particularly admirable of the Wachowski brothers to make The Matrix a better film for the cultured. But that’s not why I kept watching it over and over. The Matrix has replay value because it’s awesome entertainment. And The Matrix Reloaded takes that to the next level.

Here are a few things in store for you that will make The Matrix seem like Battlefield Earth. A car chase almost thirty minutes in length, filmed on a two-mile stretch of highway custom-built for the shoot. Ghostly white-clad twins with dreadlocks who can phase out at will within the Matrix. A Chinese guy who holds his own against Neo. The Big Brawl.

And your definition of the word cliffhanger will change when you see how Reloaded ends. You’ll beat the armrests in frustration, pissed off that Revolutions doesn’t come out until November. Be sure to stick around after the credits, because there’s a Revolutions trailer at the end that will just make you thirstier. Even I wouldn’t spoil that for you. Whether you’ll want Revolutions or Return of the King more, you’ll have to endure a summer of crappy sequels and comic book films before you get to the good stuff.

Have fun on Thursday.