Okay, seriously. I’m going to write this review and do my best not to spoil anything. Then I’m going to go back through and re-read it and be sure I haven’t spoiled anything. If you still think I’m going to spoil something, go see the movie right away. And be sure to sit through the credits.
Okay, so a very important thing to keep in mind about this movie is that it is part two of a three part series. This movie is not intended to stand on it’s own as a movie. I have very recently read many reviews of The Matrix Reloaded (which I will call M2 from here on for convenience), and many high-falutin’ critics have said that it isn’t as good as the original, that it doesn’t pack the same wallop, that it doesn’t stand alone as a ‘great’ film. M2 is not intended to stand alone. If M2 packed the same wallop as the first one, these same reviewers would simply say it was regurgitating the first movie. As far as whether or not it is ‘as good’ as The Matrix (M1), I believe that would take repeat viewings that these reviewers have not yet had.
Which I have also not yet had. I will be seeing it again tomorrow night, and may write another review, or another section of review, or perhaps a complete, spoilers-intact version of a review afterwards. There are things about this movie that give its philosophy strength that are not as obvious as the philosophical construct of M1 – a philosophy that has spawned three books already. The character who dispenses the most important philosophical information in this film even goes so far as to state that most of what he will say will not be understood right away. I won’t reveal any details here, but watch for it, pay attention, and try to remember what transpires; when what he says bears fruit in The Matrix Revolutions (M3) this fall, you’ll be glad you did.
The real star of this movie, for most of the people who see it, will be the action sequences. The important ‘talking’ breaks in between the action will seem verging on the un-necessary as action fans wait with bated breath for the next blow – obvious like the psychological/philosophical one in M1 or physical like the bulk of them in M2. Luckily, the slower ‘talking’ scenes are not close to the energy-drain that similar exposition and character development became for Episode II, and after a while the action sequences begin coming so close together it felt to me as though too much dialogue and exposition had been cut out to bring the running time down and the pace up.
In M2, the cast of characters is as broadly expanded as the mythology is deepend in detail. We meet all range of characters who reside in and out of The Matrix and we learn new things about the ones we are familiar with. We learn how The Matrix’s mythology explains all range of anomalies in the world we know, and we get a glimpse of what lies even further ‘down the rabbit hole’. We also spend plenty of time looking around in the physical rabbit-hole of the buried city of Zion. Many of the new faces are only on screen briefly, but promise to be more important in the drama in M3 that most of M2 is simply setting up. Much as you need to have seen M1 to understand M2 (they do not explain what The Matrix is, what Zion is, where Zion is, who the enemy is, who lived and died and how in M1, any of it, in M2), you will be lost in M3 if you have not seen M2. And from what has been set up (and what I know is coming) I know you will not want to miss a thing in M3.
You wanna hear ‘is the CGI is good?’ It’s better than anything you’ve seen before. They invented a new way of simulating and recreating objects and people that allowed them to do things no conventional crew could have done with the biggest budget. You wanna hear ‘are the fights fast-paced and exciting?’ Some of the fights are so fast-paced and intricate that I lost track and couldn’t follow what was going on. There are slick moves and turns of fate that brought my audience to cheers and whoops during harried hand-to-hand combat. You wanna hear ‘will it blow my mind?’ Well, truthfully, you’ll have to think harder, pay closer attention, and maybe think quite a bit outside ‘the box’ to be blown away by M2 in the way M1 blew your mind. But maybe it all becomes painfully clear in M3. And anyway, the scale and pace of the action of so much of M2 should be enough to blow your mind!
Overall, I would say it is a very good movie, and recommend you watch it. There are some weak points – some action sequences that seem like they could have been avoided easily instead of provoked and increased in scale, some slower sections of dialogue, politics, and character development. But mostly the dialogue, politics, and character development help create a more rich, detailed, well-developed world. And even the apparently needless action makes sense when taken as character development. (You’ll have to see it and think about it; I’ll not explain it here.) Look for the character that The Wachowski’s wrote for Sean Connery (which he turned down) and then try not to think of how different the movies would have been with him there.
Oh yeah, and the cliffhanger ending. In case you don’t know, and this still doesn’t give anything away, this movie ends with a cliffhanger. There is much action and drama that is built towards throughout M2 that would simply have immediately occurred, were movies allowed to be 5+ hours long. The film stops abruptly after a lot of ‘twist’ information is revealed, and you are left facing a six-month intermission. I figured it was important to include that information in the non-spoiler review, since people who haven’t already decided to see it might want to wait until they have less wait between pictures. I don’t want to discourage you from going to see it, but I want you to know that that anticipation any hype that’s been building for the last four years will only intensify by your seeing this movie.
And soon, my time for bed.