1) This is a work in progress.
2) This may contain spoilers.
3) This is version 0.5 of this review.
I'm not sure what to think about this middle movie in the cycle. I have been disappointed in most middle movies - Lord of the Rings II was lots of movement and no real story and Star Wars II was pretty much the same.
Initially, I think the Matrix Reloaded was headed for that same middle ground. We pick up our core trio - Morpheus, Trinity and Neo - and they're up to mostly the same tricks. Neo has improved his ability to control his actions in the Matrix and some of the machine characters have gone through upgrades.
In Reloaded, there are really four major scenes - the first is Neo fighting Smith and the clones, the second is the scene in Zion, the Third is the long chase scene on the highway, and the fourth is the final action as Neo comes to understand what it means to be the "one" in Reloaded. So, of these four major scenes, I found only the last one to be interesting. The outcome of Neo is already known since there will be a third Matrix. During the first Matrix, it wasn't clear there would be two more episodes and the outcome was uncertain. This helped with the tension and the captivation of the audience. I just didn't feel it in the fight scenes in Reloaded. If you are Neo and can control, bend, and break the rules inside the Matrix, why would you always be Neo? Why not a huge, squid mastered in the art of kung fu? Or like the wonder twins, a form of pure energy that can destroy the machines? Or a very disruptive program? As the 'human' Neo, I never feared for his survival and I wasn't thrilled by his parlour tricks.
Certainly there were some interesting special effects. Put simply, one could say there was more of the first Matrix. But for me, it sort of feels like adding butter to a sauce. There is only a small envelope in which you have the right amount of butter at the right temperature or it can end up disatorous. I don't know if the recipe is right in Reloaded - adding more Smiths and more Bullets didn't make Reloaded better, just more of the same. We have plenty of bullet time and similar displays of martial arts hybrids.
All that being said, I really like the fourth scene. Throughout the movie, the dialogue is mostly delivered without irony. Everything has _meaning_ - like Shakespeare to an 8th grade drama teacher. But the words and the ideas doesn't really come together until the fourth scene. And, what I find more interesting is that although there's a summit of the plot lines, there is not understanding. Things could just as likely be wrapped in another layer of the Matrix enigma. Dreams are not real. Reality is not real. The matrix is not real. The oracle is not real. The existence of Zion seems real.
I'm struggling with Reloaded. Does one scene save the movie? There is much to be uncovered and it would seem to warrant a second viewing, but I'm not sure I could sit through the early material.
There are a couple of very intriguing plot lines in the movie that do not reach completion in reloaded and it's these stories that I am looking forward to in the third installment. Certainly, there is the obvious issues of Neo's choice and the next iteration of the Architect's plan, but there are more elements of chaos to deal with - the traitor is certainly one, but what of Mr Smith? A rogue program working for and against the machines? I'm sure there will be other devices introduced to bring this to an end. There will be many more layers of redirection, but it's these more 'human' plot lines that I keep thinking about.
I'll likely continue this review later.
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