And not getting much out of them like I did when they initially came out. Actually, strike that, I only got most of the good joy out of the first film, with the second film being a huge disappointment when I had seen it in theaters with my girlfriend. So much so that we didn’t see the third film in theaters when it came out a few months later, instead waiting for the DVD release. Which I remembered liking more than the second.
But that’s mainly because Neo dies.
It had me thinking, why didn’t I love these flicks? What is keeping me from that feeling I had once? Did I become a bigger snob since they came out? No, it c couldn’t be. I still love films like Crank and Bad Boys II and any other action film that can get me to still let out a proverbial ‘ooooh’, such as some parts of the Transporter films. That probably has to do with the oozing 70’s era charisma of Jason Statham. But I’m vying away from the topic at hand, the Wachowski Bros. (well, now the Wachowskis, ever since that surgery occured) film series.
I realized that it all boils down to the wooden portrayal of Neo by Mr. Keanu Reeves. Don’t get me wrong, I like Keanu. No matter how much my brain makes me want to hate him, I tend to like most of his films. Even being a comic book nerd and hating that they cast him as John Constantine, I still went in with a clear mind and actually enjoyed the film somehow. But that could also be because of the supporting cast, who are all spot on, especially Peter Stormare, but he tends to steal any show he’s in. Just look at the Volkswagen ads he’s been in.
Same goes for Carrie Anne Moss. I liked her in Memento and Fido, so it couldn’t be only her. But then it hit me like a pick up truck. Their romance is non-existent, yet they center the whole universe, the whole being of Neo around their love throughout the films. The reason the first film works better than the rest is because it ends before their love can be truly shown. It’s hinted at, we see a kiss, but that’s it. Nothing more. The sequels try too hard to be philosophical, too hard with the action scenes (and I love the stunt work within each film, but when mixed with dated cgi in some parts, it fails to impress today).
That sex scene in Reloaded? Ugh, talk about no sexuality. No chemical attraction there. My girlfriend, when initially watching the film and walking her to her train, said something along the lines of, “They’re supposed to be in love? Then why don’t I believe it?”
And film dictates to us what we should believe in when seen on the screen. But only when it’s believable. I believed that there were dwarves, hobbits and elves fighting side by side in the Lord of the Ring films. Why is that? Because the world of Tolkien was somehow breathed to life by Peter Jackson, a worthy director who has a sense of reality, even when something fantastic is show on screen. Same goes for Guillermo Del Toro, a favorite of CHUD and many other like minded fans of film. He can somehow take a faun and mix it with the spanish civil war and bring both worlds to reality, a mixture of fairy tale and nightmare. There really is no equal in that department and if there is, maybe I’ve missed out big time. Cronenberg also molds a scene, a film on screen and even when a man is slowly turning into a human fly or an apartment complex has gone completely crazy and murderous, we believe.
And the Wachowskis fail in that department. They wrote a fine first film. A stand alone film that even when they came out, I felt like they had tacked on backstory and other characters to flesh out a story that really only needed 2 hours to tell. We didn’t need to see Zion. Or the other ships in the human armada. Or the battles underground. Or the architect and the key maker. I’ll even say we didn’t have to see Monica Belucci (but I won’t say that, any film that features her must be seen).
We just needed to believe in a hacker who was the chosen one by Morpheus, who made the moviegoing public believe that he could stop bullets and actually destroy the unstoppable agents. I’m not sure if it was intended, but from the overall trilogy, I still look at it as Agent Smith’s story. His triumphant rise and fall, rise again to complete god like power and ultimately his fall from grace by a higher power he didn’t know could take him down. But only by a martyr was his power taken away. Looking at the films in that light makes me enjoy them a bit more. And that’s because Hugo Weaving could be doing pantomime while tap dancing and I’d still think it was brilliant.
The Matrix sequels just feel like they were made to make money. And I agree, Hollywood is in the business of making money. Why make movies then? For only the artistic value? Then movies wouldn’t be made at all. I just feel that the Wachowskis could have instead taken their vision and put it toward something so much better.*
*And I actually liked Speed Racer.
Behind every great book adaptation is a forgettable first try. — By Ryan Covey