Fun with Franchises: Final Thoughts on The Matrix Revolutions
All right… we’ve watched the film, talked about it, had fun with it, and then we went and listed our favorite images from the film yesterday. Now all that’s left is to finish up with what we actually thought about the film as a whole.
This is our space to go over what we liked and didn’t like about each film we watch for Fun with Franchises. We talk about specific things as we get to them during the articles, and we’ll mention our general thoughts during them, but we don’t really ever get to sit and do broad strokes during the articles. So this is why we do these Final Thoughts. We get to take a step back and talk about the films as a whole, rather than discussing specific scenes or images. We’ll talk about how we felt about the film, how we liked it as a film, how we liked it as a member of its franchise, and where we think it falls within that franchise.
Again, it’s not very complicated, but it is a place to find out what we actually thought about certain movies, since, while we’re having fun with them in the articles, it may get difficult to tell sometimes. Because we’ll just rip things to shreds for fun, even if we love them.
So here are our final thoughts on The Matrix Revolutions:
Final Thoughts on The Matrix Revolutions:
I did not like this movie. You can take a look at my thoughts for Reloaded for some idea of why I think this franchise should have been a one-off, but I’d like to state for the record that the problems that emerged in the second movie only metastasized in Revolutions, seriously maiming this trilogy.
Remember how Reloaded was a dichotomous mixture of boring philosophical dialogue and flashy, CG-rich action? This final chapter has surely shifted the balance in favor of the action (could anyone stomach a final film as boring as Reloaded was?) but the philosophy is still there, and it only serves to limit our exposure to the fascinating universe our heroes inhabit. Take the Indian people. I had so many questions about where they were, what purpose the train station served, why it was controlled by the Merovingian and how it could exist in tandem with such a perfect system. I also had questions about the Indian people themselves, these refugee programs. Who are they? Where did their daughter come from? What constitutes a program “family” if his purpose and her purpose are fundamentally different? Does the daughter have a purpose that somehow combines elements of her parents? What is the significance of their appearances, their accents, their manners? No, none of that is really answered, and instead we get YET ANOTHER ode to “purpose.” Neo learns that “love” is a word, and his discovery of social constructs is greeted as some kind of sacred revelation. I don’t give a fuck that Neo never took sociology, I just want to know what the deal is with these Indian people. Less philosophizing, more Indian people, I guess is what I’m trying to say. That’s just one example.
Monica Bellucci’s boobies.
The Wachoskis definitely got more adventurous (not in a good way) with the aesthetics in this universe. Think of how the imagery of these films evolved: The Matrix began with a world that mirrored our own, in which even the most fantastic bad guys looked like FBI agents and the most powerful Oracle was just an old lady. There was something to that idea; we were taken in by it because in making the universe mundane, the filmmakers were only emphasizing how easily the wool could be pulled over our eyes.
Then in Reloaded, they started to let that go. You’ve got guys with fangs, more crazy outfits, the stupid albino ghost twins, and a number of other things that appear plainly out of the ordinary. In Revolutions…well, that club, for starters. Where’d all the creepy leather S&M shit come from? What’s up with the guys in armor who fight on the ceiling? And they got a new black lady, although that wasn’t really their fault.
Hugo Weaving is still good. I don’t have anything more to say about him, other than…yes.
Other characters we might have liked at some point, like Morpheus, the Oracle, Trinity, Link, the esteemed Dr. Cornel West, the Merovingian, Monica Bellucci…they’ve all been either sidelined or wrecked in the process of reducing the majority of this film to the defense of Zion and Neo’s trip down Robot Boulevard. Morpheus used to be the cool guy who asks what this fuck is doing, but by Revolutions, he’s the stupid, religious guy who will cover his ears as people speak reason. The Oracle is bad because she’s part of their system, but she’s good cause she helps them, but she’s bad cause she lies to them, but she’s good cause she takes care of the tiny Indian girl. So…neutral? I’m done with Trinity and all their lovey-dovey bullshit – how are we supposed to recognize Neo and his unique approach to “love” when the world-ending love being discussed is the weak shit between Keanu and Carrie? The Merovingian is put in a stupid techno/metal club, Monica Bellucci just sits there with amazing titties (okay, actually that was better than she was in Reloaded) and characters like Link just get thrown in the cave so we can have someone to cut to as shit explodes upstairs. For whatever stupid reason, they gave us this new character, “The Kid,” who compares unfavorably with Chaplin’s version and gives us no real reason to like him. Who does he represent? He’s an annoyance to everyone in the movie and to everyone in the audience as well.
Smith is great, as is Bane. That is one thing these people did right. That actor’s Hugo Weaving impression is spot on. Well done, sir.
I think the main failing in these movies is how quickly the plot oscillates between tedious action and tedious dialogue. When I got to the end of this movie, I had more questions than when I had started, and the non-conclusion we’re handed with the finale makes me wonder why they ever tried to continue the plot past the first movie. I get that Smith has screwed up the Matrix and that the robots need Neo to take care of that so they can keep their pod people. But when Neo asks for peace in return, what the hell does that mean? They don’t destroy Zion this time, but they might later, and the other poor assholes are still left in the Matrix. The whole prophecy was just a way of getting Neo to reset the Matrix and start the whole circle of control over – he does reset the Matrix, and the only difference is that they don’t have to restart Zion from the beginning this time. Wasn’t the goal to free all the humans from robot slavery? That hasn’t been accomplished. Your city is in ruins, and the robots could still decide to kill you at any time. What the fuck happened here? Is this supposed to be cathartic because the little Indian girl made a stupid sunrise? The only reason this has the illusion of victory is because not everyone we know is dead, and people seem happy about that. The trilogy spent so much time talking about choice and purpose and fate and bullshit philosophy that we all forgot what the goal was and what victory meant.
I wanted to think I didn’t hate this movie as much as people say you’re supposed to. I view Fun with Franchises as a chance for us to lampoon the movies we love and potentially redeem the ones we tend to dislike. Didn’t happen. Anyway, they cobbled together a weak non-story and made sure that it had all the trappings of an epic sci-fi/fantasy film. There are action sequences and twists and epiphanies and deaths and everything, but in no way does this movie fit the arc that the first movie started. The characters we liked are either gone or neutered, the goals we had were either abandoned or forgotten, and the world remains unsaved. So…it’s a job well done.
My Final Thoughts:
I echo Colin’s choice of first words for his final thoughts.
The real problem with the final two movies of this trilogy is that it was not designed to be one. So when they went back to write the second and third movies… I don’t know what happened.
They didn’t split up the movies well. The second movies expands the universe, and makes the conflict bigger, making it all about Zion and this repetitive cycle. But by the time we get to this movie… there’s no story to tell. We’re just watching people go forward to the finish line. And the whole thing is made by computers, which prevents you from feeling any real attachment to it. Let’s not forget that we don’t get any character development either, which really prevents you from caring about any of it. The only real joy you get is seeing them have fun action scenes, or give character moments for the already established few.
It seems like they ran out of story to tell and just decided to put action sequence after action sequence. 27 minutes of this movie is people in robot suits fighting squid. Our main character is off-screen for more than a third of the movie.
The whole story is stretched so thin it’s scary. Neo is in a coma, stuck between the Matrix and the real world. They get him out. How? Just by asking, really. And then he goes off and says, “I gotta go to the machines’ place.” And they let him. And then he goes there, and he fights Smith, and that’s the end of the movie. Meanwhile, everyone else goes to Zion and fights the machines, because we needed more screen time.
Morpheus is a movie and half past character development, Trinity is one-note, and everyone else is just along for the ride. The only people who matter in this movie are Neo and Smith. And Smith is barely present for the majority of the film, and even his fight with Neo is a giant CG mess of a letdown.
I’m glad they brought back Bellucci and the Merovingian, even though their purpose was served in the last movie. The Oracle might have been better if Gloria Foster were involved. But now, she comes off as another weak link in the movie. The real problem, I think, is that all the reveals happen by the end of Reloaded, so now we’re just sort of left in the awkward silence period. “Oh, so… you’re a program who was designed to feed us bullshit so we do what we’re supposed to do?” And they’re all just standing in the Oracle’s apartment. That’s what this movie is. And then, since there’s nothing to talk about — “Hey, let’s fight!”
By this point, it seems like the Wachowski’s stopped having things to say and were more interested in furthering the things they were into — like people in leather and gas masks. I’ll give them credit for trying to push the boundaries with the fight scenes, but this movie came in an era where this stuff ends up just looking really dated and not holding up at all. The whole thing got so much further from reality that the whole thing has a sort of Peter Jackson doing the Hobbit vibe to it. Where he retreated into computers and was interested in that rather than realism and storytelling.
Reloaded did a lot of repeating of shots and ideas that were introduced in the first Matrix. That could be forgiven. Here, it feels like they had nothing else to do so they just did the same thing as before, just differently.
I’m also not sure where we end. People are still being used for energy. And peace isn’t absolute. But because it’s put forth as a satisfactory ending, and gives you the feeling of finality, you don’t really think about it and just go along. But we don’t really resolve anything.
Overall, I think the franchise gets worse as it goes along, and it’s not that these are awful movies. I think they’re awful franchise movies, but as movies, they’re fine. You can watch them and be entertained and enjoy them. As regular movies, there is absolutely nothing wrong with them, and they’re even good. It’s like Godfather III. As a movie, it’s really good. as a Godfather movie, it’s an offensive piece of garbage. The only reason this movie sucks is because The Matrix exists.
The more you see the Wachowskis, the more you get the sense that they got really lucky with the Matrix and have significant problems with storytelling and reigning in their visual and world-building instincts. I say that as I watch Jupiter Ascending for the first time.
If you wanted to find out that this movie isn’t as bad as you thought or remember it as being — watch Jupiter Ascending. Holy shit.
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Tomorrow we start our next franchise. Please don’t let there be any snakes.
(See the rest of the Fun with Franchises articles here.)