The Matrix (1999)
Rewatching this with my son. Such a great intense psychological mind trip. I first saw this with friends from Graeber, Simmons & Cowan, the architecture firm where I worked back when the movie premiered. The same crew that insisted I had to watch Fight Club before I panned it.
They were right about Fight Club and they were right to insist we see this film together as a team. The movie blew my mind. So many tropes were introduced in the movie that have been overused since that time; but when bullet time was first rolled out in this movie, it was something that had never been seen before. So too with other filming techniques that the brothers Wachowski invented while making this movie.
I was most reminded of James Cameron’s ability to recreate the art of filmmaking every time he rolls out a new film while watching the Matrix for the first time. I walked out of that theater a different person than when I went in, something that is only true of the best (or worst) films made. Your run of the mill three star film will not make you look at your batteries in a different light.
The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
I loved the architects speech, towards the end of the film. How he mechanically runs through the predictions of what Neo’s next word, next move will be. His willingness to break the mold and do something different than has been done previously before. Like most middle films, I can’t remember much about this movie aside from that one part that sticks out, and I’m afraid of reminiscing about the other little things that I remember for fear that I am misremembering which movie the scene in question happened in. I liked this movie, but I didn’t like it as much as the average viewer did, given it’s comparative rating on the various websites that rate movies. I also didn’t hate it the third movie as much as the average viewer did.
The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
I was psyched to see this, the last installment of the Matrix Trilogy, and I was not disappointed. I’m sure there will be many who will feel it is fashionable to pan this film with ever more clever zingers, but I am more than happy to accept this film for what it is. The concluding episode in a series of action flicks that happen to contain a message as well.
Revolution, as the word is used in the title of the film, was first used as a defense against charges of insurrection during the war for American independence. We were engaged in a turning or tuning of the rules between those who govern and the governed. A throwing off of an unwanted outside control in favor of self determination, not a simple rebellion. So too do these movies explore (albeit lightly) the nature of control, the meaning of reality, and the purpose of existence, within an action setting. They are not just action movies, mayhem for its own sake.
As action movies with a message, they fulfill their purpose wonderfully.