The Matrix Reloaded

By Mark Ramsey | 2003/05/13

Hipsters, check it: Keanu flies like Superman.

You have been warned!

Says Morpheus, “I am not here because of the path that lies behind me but because of the path that lies before me.” Of course, he means the path of least resistance between a modern classic, the first Matrix, and boffo sequel profits for distributor AOL Time Warner.

If there’s irony in a series about a vast network controlling humanity’s every sight, sound, and experience, that irony is lost on AOL Time Warner, a vast network controlling humanity’s every sight, sound, and experience.

Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus are back in The Matrix Reloaded, but beware: Something’s different in the Matrix. Agent Smith, it seems, is now a plural. And not because he settled down with Mrs. Smith and ripped a CD of little Smithees. No, there are lots and lots of him. This can mean only two things: First, big savings on above-the-line talent costs. Second, proof that nature selects for male-pattern baldness.


Look! We get our first peek at the last human outpost, the fabled subterranean city of Zion. There, you’ll find plenty of humans but, from the looks of it, not one landscaper or good interior decorator. These people live in accommodations that bring to mind the phrase “Wilma, stop this crazy thing!” They wear rags, reside in rocks, use torches for light…and travel in hoverships. I’d build a light bulb before a hovership, but what do I know?

There’s a big town meeting in Zion where everyone learns the beasties from the Matrix are coming and they’re all about to die. So naturally…

It’s time to DANCE!

DJ Morpheus is in da hizouse and all of Zion steps to a P. Diddy beat. Even a Boo would give it up for the biggest mosh pit ever staged hundreds of miles beneath the Earth’s surface. There are gongs and drums and tribal dancing and King Kong carrying off Jada Pinkett-Smith. There are nipples of every gender on display and they mean business! “We may be doomed,” announced one reveler, “but we’re keepin’ it real!”

As the Casbah rocks, Neo and Trinity are rockin’ in some serious docking maneuvers. These are the kinds of martial arts you can do at home, folks. And without the use of wires – unless you’re into that kind of thing. As any Matrix geek knows, embedded in our heroes from head to toe are metal plugs which make static cling not only inevitable, but also the whole point!

There’s virtually no one in Zion over the age of 30 except for esteemed character actor Anthony Zerbe, and he’s so far past 30 he couldn’t find his way back if 30 left a trail of Scotch Highballs.

The Oracle returns with more vexing whimsies. “We’re all here to do what we’re all here to do,” she wisely and profoundly says. But what if we’re not here to do what we’re here to do, and instead we only think we’re here and only think we’re doing what we think we’re doing here? Then we would be Denise Richards.

Neo needs to get the Keymaker in order to find the Gatekeeper and resurrect various iconic representations from Ghostbusters.

Unfortunately, the Keymaker is hidden away by an Aryan-looking guy with a Pan-Eurotrash accent. “Choice iz an illusion created by zoze wis power for zoze wisout,” he says as a stream of failed comprehension billows gently out of Keanu Reeves’ ears.

matrix_millivanilli.jpgThis creepy Euro-dude has written a program for a cake which can induce an orgasm after one bite. I’m not kidding! That’s what I call having your cake and eating it, too.

Will Keanu escape with the Keymaker? Or will two albino Milli Vanillis stop him first? The answer involves an elaborate highway chase sequence and a lot of computer processing. Hey, if these Vanilla Vanillis married Liza Minelli, she’d be Liza Minelli Vanilli!

We also meet a very important someone in the Matrix. We know he’s important because he uses words like “ergo” and “concordantly” and “apropos.” If ever there was an apropos time for Keanu to whisper “whoa!” this would be it.

The big question: Is The Matrix Reloaded as good as The Matrix?

The big answer: “No.” Not for me.

Yeah, the CG is again state-of-an-ever-more-advanced-art, but the layered mythology twists like a tourniquet – everything you’ve been led to believe might be wrong. I’m not going to pretend I understand it, but I’m sure not going to pretend you do, either.

So Joe Average is left with dynamic chases and kinetic battles – an exceedingly well produced video game – except you can’t play along. Unless you actually buy the videogame coincidentally released on May 15 and available at a store near you.

Should you see it? How can you not?! Nobody’s gonna settle for the blue pill on this one, right?

When the thrills take a breather, this movie is mostly about dressing in black and wearing a cool, disaffected scowl. It’s as if the fate of the world was in the hands of art students.

The aesthetic is the ultimate anesthetic: Sunglasses are essential, and the rooms are so dark our heroes will need to pack their seeing-eye attitudes before stepping in.

Even the posters are all about the wardrobe, the vibe, the image. Is there really a movie here, or is it simply the new Catholic Priest line at Neiman Marcus?

I don’t know about you, but I already picked up my official Neo sunglasses - if I can’t grow cool, I’ll let the crown of my nose rub it off the glasses for $240.00. Now I’m ready to kick some seriously aerodynamic imaginary ass!

See the movie. Buy the glasses. Everyone can be the The One, right? Why “do” when it’s so easy to pretend?

Photos Copyright ©2003 Warner Bros.


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