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Fun with Franchises: Our Favorite Images from The Matrix Reloaded

One of the recurring features that we do in Fun with Franchises (a feature within a feature) is, after we finish watching a film, we go through and pick out our favorite images from that film. These images could be anything from really famous images from the film or franchise, really beautifully composed shots, shots that are funny to us because of the facial expressions being made in them or because of what we said about them in the article in which they appeared, or simply because they have boobs in them.

How we do this is, in the same way we watch the films, Colin and I separately pick out about ten to fifteen shots that we really liked. (This typically ends up being him picking out around 30 and me having around 70.) Then we compare lists, and whichever ones we both chose automatically make our final list. Everything else we talk through. We have it down to a science by now. Within four total emails, we’re left with a final list of ten images we liked the best, along with ten honorable mentions, which were also as good, but just missed out on making the list proper. (And then more we just work in. Just cause.)

It’s not very complicated (like most things we do here at B+ Movie Blog), and is just a way for us to point out shots that we really liked in the films, especially since we tend to pick stuff that’s not always on the beaten path. (We also don’t officially rank the list of shots. We just put them in chronological order. Simply picking them is hard enough. We don’t want to make our lives any harder. Plus, we’re lazy.)

That said — here are our favorite images from The Matrix Reloaded:

We’re doing our Reloaded shots. This way:

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Normally, we start with all of the extra shots we want to talk about, but fuck that. We’re just gonna leap right into the list:

– – – – –

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1. This shot

Because it’s badass. The three of them walking through the archway, in silhouette, making a badass entrance. Hell, this is the cover of the DVD! They know how cool this is. And you get the reflection on Morpheus’ glasses. There’s really nothing to not like about this shot.

Colin:

There should be more moments like this of people standing in darkness. Why does shit have to be so bright all the time? I like people in the dark. Like, remember how they shot Deep Throat in All the President’s Men? That was the original Mark in the Dark. I think the reason that I like people in shadow is because it strips down shot content and leaves us with shot composition instead.

Filmmakers are often so preoccupied with story or atmosphere that they don’t give us the time to appreciate blocking or angle. Or, if it’s George Lucas, it’s over-the-top blocking that makes you wish he WASN’T as conscious about shot composition. You know, Anakin walks to a window, there’s a closeup as he turns around, he does a frowny thing. But this sort of shot gives us that one second visual palette cleanser that outlines three figures coming inside, with Morpheus leading. Clean.

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2. Less Bullshit, More Hugo Weaving

This is a great shot because you get the rack focus from the phone (repeated motif from last movie) as it falls right to Smith, which made me cheer, because this movie doesn’t have nearly enough of him in it.

Colin:

BROKEN GLASS, EVERYWHERE! There need to be more shots THROUGH things. I can’t explain well enough how crucial it is that this shot is framed with broken glass because the jagged edges and gaping hole in the center allude to exposure, and therefore, danger. The framing here makes this shot so much more terrifying than it would be if Smith was just standing there. And that’s why it’s brilliant.

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3. The Zion Projects

It’s great. I love a shot that’s basically a giant grid. Like that one shot in Milk (have you guys seen Milk?) where everyone’s on the phone, or the Tree of Life poster that’s just a giant collage of beautiful images. I love that. And this is great because it’s just the same kind of living quarters in a giant grid, repetition, and then the variation of him standing there. Great shot.

Colin:

Okay, we’ve got a single, vertical plane of action going on here, which is already cool. Vertical shit is just cool to begin with. As I mentioned in the article, this shot reminds me of The Artist, when Peppy stops George on the steps in the studio building and gives him her number. There are people walking on multiple floors across the set at once, so while the floors are roughly identical, there are different actions going on in parallel.

I think I like this kind of set most because it’s reminiscent of the more limited sorts of sets you got in the days when everything was set up on a narrow stage without much depth. You see these multi-story sets in musicals and stuff because they’re a fabulous way to get multiple tiers of actors and singers into such a small space without cramming them in horizontally. It’s a classic set piece. I like it.

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4. How could you not?

This shot is badass. They knew it, we all know it. Motherfucker controls birds. And, it’s the moment we actually get to go, “Oh, thank god. I thought this was gonna be a Smithless movie.” And this shot is here to save us from all of that.

Colin:

Don’t crows mean death? Those aren’t ravens, right? This isn’t a Poe thing, is it? Did you guys know there was a Japanese novelist to changed his name to Edogawa Ranpo because he liked Poe so much? If you break it down, it becomes edoga waran po. Anyway, birds’ll fuck your day up.

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5. Sideways shots

Another one. I’m going out of order, but I don’t care. This is the entire movie in a single image. Old white dude explains to Keanu what’s going on, and what’s between them is the choice of a door. They don’t cut to side shots often in this scene, but when they do, they’re great.

Colin:

There’s a running theme of choice and balance in this franchise, which is why I think a lot of these shots are set up this way. With Smith, you have a near mirror image of Neo. All black clothing and sunglasses. There’s clearly some character vs character choice being made here, and the onscreen balance suggests that only one of them can come out on top because Neo is in effect fighting a part of himself.

The Architect is a little different because he seems to represent Neo’s opposite or complement, which is also possibly why he’s dressed this way — we get the same shot balance, but it’s also borne out in color as a sort of yin-yang thing. But you notice how these shots, when they’re obviously intentional, only occur between Neo and someone with a thematic relationship to him in terms of balance or choice. He never has one of these shots with the Merovingian or the Oracle, unless I’m mistaken.

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6. Framing

This is precise staging. The second one is the better shot, but I put the first one because — look at that little dick on the plate. It’s hilarious to me. It looks like Morpheus is looking right at it, going, “What the hell is that thing?”

Colin:

I mean, that’s how you do two on three. Trinity is always on Morpheus’ right, and Neo is always to the left. I particularly like the shot showing the Merovingian’s face because they managed the framing so perfectly, including the twins and other people. Not sure if it’s intentionally Last Supper-y. I also want to say how pleased I am that this happened in the middle of his lunch, at which he is drinking, and which he doesn’t really stop completely in order to talk to them.

Remember Michael Sheen and the whatever the fuck they were called in the Twilight movies? Those guys were only coached in blocking. They were either lounging in chairs in that stupid empty room. Eternal life and serious power, and they waste it doing nothing. No movies, none of that shit. The Merovingian is day drinking in his own place and decides to give some random chick a cake orgasm JUST FUCKING BECAUSE. And that’s how these characters should be.

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7. Tunnel chase

I love the camera being placed on the floor as the cars speed toward it. That’s the key for action scenes, finding interesting places to put the camera. That’s actually all it is. You put the camera in an interesting place, and the action becomes more interesting.

Colin:

It’s low to the ground. And symmetrical. These are both things I like.

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8. Blood on the Matrix

I like the first one more. The second one is also kind of better. I separate the two in the sense that — conceptually, the second one is the better shot. The dripping down. But that’s clearly fake blood. The first shot looks like real blood. So because of that, I put them both. But they’re still great shots. It’s a very evocative shot, blood running down the Matrix.

Colin:

Oh HELL yes. Blood spattered all over the Matrix screen. Why is this great? Cause it’s showing us how we’ve been so focused on what’s going on inside this computer program, but that shit is starting to happen in the outside world too. It’s like, “Oh, you thought that was where it’s at? Yeah, no.” And then the dripping is just straight up horror film shit. I love it when genres decide to borrow from elsewhere.

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9. This reaction

BECAUSE HOW IS THIS NOT THE GREATEST FACE TO MAKE WHEN SOMEONE PULLS A GUN ON YOU?!!!!

Colin:

I pray that I may make this face if someone ever points a gun at my head at point blank range. This is the face that scares and confuses people. This face wins at everything.

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10. Keanu Stands in front of Inanimate Objects

Look at this. he’s standing in front of all these TVs. It’s just a wonderfully framed shot. And, as Colin said — shittiest Best Buy ever.

Colin:

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Ooooooooh man.

– – – – – – – – – –

Honorable Mentions:

  • Feet / Lens flare

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Colin’s choice was more the first one and mine was more the second. I put them both as a general, “Welcome back, Smith” entry. The first one is great because it’s how we’ve been introduced to him every time, and is a great motif for him. The second I love because it’s a nice lens flare and shields his face, just to try to keep some suspense about revealing him. (I guess. Though they show him like three minutes later. So I guess they just wanted to play with shots, maybe?)

Colin:

Smith shows, Smith shoes. It’s a classic Matrix shot, and I think the Wachowskis just like it. I sorta doubt there’s anything more to it than that. The light, though, is pretty nice. It’s sort of like what I said about characters being in shadows, but what I like about this shot, other than the framing, is the idea that you can’t make out his features, but he can see you just fine. Which is intimidating.

  • Lamp post smash

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I love this shot. Because who would think of that? Put an overhead by a lamp post, and then have the light fall to end the scene. And it works as a callback to the column in the first movie.

Colin:

It’s a reaction shot, though I don’t see this one as being a key to comedy. Still, there’s something about how it waits until the end of the fight to fall…it’s like what happened alone is enough to throw the whole system off, which responds by letting this light bulb fall out.

  • Symmetry

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Door, framing, symmetry. And the shitty walls, too.

Colin:

It’s good framing. Mostly, I like the graffiti here. She lives in a shitty place like this with street art all over the place to emphasize the humanity of her position. Or at least that’s how I’ve always seen it.

  • Orgasm chick

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Her face is so hilarious. It’s a mix of, “Did I just cum all over my seat,” and, “Wow, that’s way better than anything that asshole’s been doing to me the last seven weeks.”

Also, this is your vagina. This is your vagina on The Matrix.

Colin:

Great face. Great scene. Just a great concept. The Better than Sex Cake. One bite. Eat your hearts out, fellas. Wish I could do that.

  • Framing

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There’s a definite arch motif happening in this movie. I like this one because it cuts out the entire room and gives you just the arch and them against total blackness. Because we’re actually pulling into the wall here, in case you didn’t notice that. I don’t know why they chose to do this, or completely break from reality (especially since this is the real world), but it looks great. It’s something Terry Gilliam does a lot that I love. I remember first noticing it in Fear and Loathing, where we get the overhead of the hotel room and just pull further and further back up until it’s just darkness and the room gets smaller and smaller. I think he may have done it in The Fisher King too, but I don’t remember the shots in that movie as well.

Colin:

As ridiculous as these are, I had to point out that arch fucking is good composition and that surrounding the whole shot in black was a great move. Gives it all a very creepy in-utero vibe.

  • Overhead shots

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Love the overhead shots. We both chose one, so I put them both.

Overhead shots are great. The best part about these are the dead Smiths laying on the pavement. And the framing by the buildings. Both of those things.

Colin:

I like vertical shots. That’s all that really has to be said. As far as THIS fight goes, I like these because they’re the only ones that never look CGI.

  • Morpheus’ Last Great Moment

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Look at how badass they set this up. He doesn’t get anything like this throughout the rest of the movie. This is his big moment. You’re reminded of what this character was. He gets the heroic shot, getting out of the car. Sunlight and shit. Then the wide shot, pulling out the sword, and the great shot of him walking toward the car as it barrels toward him. Then a BARREL ROLL, as he slices the entire side of a speeding car, and holds the pose, which is just great. And then he turns around and shoots up the car with an uzi that… was somewhere on his person. The point is, this is Morpheus’ last true badass moment, before he disappears into being a religious zealot and a secondary character who is paid lip service because he’s The Motherfucker Who Found Jesus.

Colin:

Just so we’re clear: my man stares down an Escalade, which is a full-sized SUV weighing in at over 5000 lbs, barrel rolls out of the way, slashes the shit with a katana and then as the truck starts to tip, he spins around with the sword now accompanied by a machine pistol and shoots out the gas tank, all in like 2 seconds. Neo’s stop the bullet trick got old the second time he did it. This is the hottest shit we saw in this movie. Holy fuck but that was nice. Too bad it’s Morpheus’ last great moment.

  • “This is where I have my key parties”

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I love the idea of all these keys. You leave this guy in a room, so what does he do? He makes keys. Good thing his function wasn’t to masturbate furiously. I guess at least there’s a grate at the bottom of the room. Otherwise it would be like Alice in Wonderland. I’m so fascinated at the thought of what all these keys do. Because it’s not like they’re all just regular keys. They do specialized stuff. And I want to know what that is. Though I am curious where he got all the nails to hang them off of. Did the Merovingian just have them there?

Colin:

This motherfucker looks like he works at Gringott’s or something. What a great set piece that was. Someone made that just for this. It’s one of those shots where it could easily have been walking in on something weird or gross, but instead it was…well, it was still weird. But he’s just like, “Oh, you’re here. I was just making a key, which is something I do occasionally.”

  • Old White Guy Throwing Shade

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Look at this face. This is the old white guy version of the first shot in this article. He’s so amused by him and condescending to him at the same time. Characters in this franchise have really mastered the art of giving Neo the, “Are you really that stupid?” look. Because there are actually a lot of them that give it to him. And yet he never picks up on it.

Colin:

I’m sorry, but I can’t not like this character. He’s a DICK. He’s SUCH a dick to Neo, it’s just great. And this is a great way for him to say goodbye to Neo, who has just lost his composure, basically. Although I still prefer the picture where he smiles because Trinity’s gonna die and he enjoys telling Neo this.

  • Gonna Fly Now

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I know Colin loves the first shot, where they just cut to him and he’s got this giant whirlwind of cars following him. It is really funny. It’s like Rocky but with debris instead of children. I added the second one because I like how it almost turns into the stargate sequence from 2001. It’s great to think that there could be someone inside one of those cars, wondering what the fuck is happening right now.

Colin:

Funniest shot of the movie to me. You just cut back to him and he has a posse of floating vehicles. A wake of cars and vans and shit. And some of them probably have people in them! The van has it’s lights on! But even though we know he’s going super fast right now, it still sorta feels like he’s floating there and the cars and stuff are just sorta derping up and down behind him like his moronic sidekicks.

– – – – – – – – – –

We’re gonna try to keep future lists tighter from now on, rather than adding too many extras.

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I mean we will.

– – – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow we go over our final thoughts on the film.

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