I Know Kung Fu
I don’t really know what lead to Samrizon requesting today’s movie, but I also don’t care. The first part of this trilogy was one of the most badass memories from my high school days. I can’t imagine I’ll ever complain too much about having to watch this movie. Can the same be said about both of the ensuing movies? Probably not. But we’ll worry about that little problem tomorrow. Today, we have to see how the movie that started it all holds up, 12 years after its release. And with that we jump into my review of The Matrix, written and directed by Andy and Larry (or Lana) Wachowski, and starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Hugo Weaving, Carrie-Anne Moss, Gloria Foster, Joe Pantoliano, Marcus Chong, Anthony Ray Parker, Julian Arahanga, Belinda McClory, Matt Doran, Paul Goddard, and Robert Taylor.
First, a girl named Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) beats up some dudes. Then, a dude named Thomas Anderson, aka Neo (Keanu Reeves), talks to his computer. He follows a lady’s tattoo until he meets Trinity, who tells him that a man named Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) can help him. But first, he’s gotta get some robot squid put into his stomach by the Agents – Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), Agent Brown (Paul Goddard), and Agent Jones (Robert Taylor). Trinity, Apoc (Julian Arahanga), and Switch (Belinda McClory) help him abort his squid baby and take him to meet Morpheus, who offers him a red Roofie and a blue Roofie. He picks one and wakes up in an egg of red Jell-O similar to that one from Lady GaGa’s nonsense. He’s retrieved by the Nebuchadnezzar, a hovercraft captained by Morpheus, and is told that he was saved from the Matrix because he is “the one”. Neo says “Whoa” and tries to figure out what it means to be “the one”.
My opinion of this movie has not changed very much from my first viewing. I still think it’s a badass movie. It’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s cool and a lot of fun. But the sad thing about this movie is that it’s not nearly as impressive when watched today. You have to really try to remember the state of movies back when this one came out to really appreciate this one. The bullet time things and other slo-mo things have been jacked by so many video games and movies since this one that watching it now feels nowhere near as impressive. If you realize that this movie was the first to really do those things in a mainstream way, then you can appreciate it. The premise of the story is good, but there are plenty of things that come up as funny to me while watching it now. The basic story of the machines that we built taking over could easily be tied to the Terminator movies, but this movie takes it in a new and innovative direction by having them turn us into batteries and creating the world as we know it to keep us pacified. Of course, this whole battery thing led to a part that annoyed me when Switch calls Neo “Copper Top” well before he – and the audience – had been let in on the fact that people were batteries. At that point, unless Keanu Reeves is a ginger, that joke doesn’t make any sense. And it doesn’t seem like good comedy for you to only be able to get a joke 20 minutes after it was told. But I think the reason this movie was as popular with nerdy people like myself is because of the nerd superhero complex. Who wouldn’t want to be “The One”? And to be able to turn into a master of every martial art just by moving your eyes around when they’re closed? I’m in! Problem with that whole thing is when Morpheus beats the shit out of Neo for a while before telling him what he needs to hear to make him stop playing by the rules of physics. Dick move, Morpheus. Earlier in the movie, I had a bit of a problem brought about by the Agents. While they’re interviewing Neo, he demands his one phone call. Agent Smith responds, “What good is a phone call if you’re unable to speak?” At this point, his mouth disappears. I know that this would be frightening if it happened in real life, but the way it was presented made me think Agent Smith was about to show Neo a magic trick. I wanted him to say, “How are you going to make a phone call when all of your quarters are behind your ear?!”
Though I like the story of this movie, I think we can all agree that the look and the fights are what really make it stand out. At least at the time, this was probably as good as it gets for American martial arts movies. The movie itself generally has a green haze over everything. I don’t know why I wrote that because I have nothing to add on to it. And I don’t know why I don’t just delete that. …Moving on. I feel like, watching the movie today, some of the slo-mo stuff doesn’t really hold up its end of the bargain as it once did. Trinity’s little crane jump kick in the beginning looked a little goofy to me, as did Neo’s first attempt at dodging bullets. I also laughed during the big gun battle in the lobby on their way to save Morpheus. The scene itself was badass. What made me laugh was the fact that Neo and Trinity were such terrible shots that they were only able to kill one security guard with a full clip from each weapon before discarding them. The technology in the movie went back and forth between impressive and not. Looking at green numbers and letters because the Matrix was too vast to show in picture form is funny to me now that we live in today’s world … of Warcraft. They should probably make a Matrix MMORPG. Not only that, but they should do it AND give me a lot of money for thinking of it. The Nebuchadnezzar looked pretty sweet though. I also laughed looking at the cell phones they used in this movie. They weren’t quite Saved by the Bell phones, but I remember thinking how cool those phones were back when this movie came out. Today, no one would be caught dead using those slider phones.
The performances were hit and miss. I’d say they were mostly hit … and then there was Keanu Reeves. In all seriousness, I don’t actually think he was that bad for this movie. He seemed as dumb as a sack of hammers, but his role was mainly punching people in the face. Every time I see him turn to Morpheus and proclaim, “I know Kung Fu,” I break into laughter. When Morpheus tells Neo that you die in real life if you die in the matrix because, “the body cannot live without the mind,” I realized that Neo could survive death in the matrix because he has so much practice living without a mind. The Oracle was also fine in the movie, but you don’t have to be able to see the future to decide that Keanu Reeves isn’t that bright. Alright, that’s all of the “Keanu Reeves is dumb” jokes I thought of for this movie. Laurence Fishburne was really good in this movie as the often spooky mastermind Morpheus. Carrie-Anne Moss was pretty believable as a good tough lady character, but she also looked like a lezzie. It’s probably not the best message for women that they can only be strong and stand up to men if they munch carpet. Hugo Weaving was also fantastic as Agent Smith. And Joe Pantoliano plays a fantastic asshole. Matt Doran creeped me out as Mouse though.
The Matrix still definitely holds up as a great movie, but it’s nowhere near as spectacular when watched today because of how much other movies have borrowed from it. The story’s still cool, the look is pretty great, and the action is still very much enjoyable. Also, all of the performances are enjoyable, so long as you go into the movie knowing exactly how Keanu Reeves acts in every movie. There should be no way that any of you have not seen the Matrix by now, but I definitely recommend it if you haven’t. I have the trilogy on BluRay, and I’ll be making use of it over the next two days when I finish the trilogy. But, for now, The Matrix gets “No one can be told what the Matrix is” out of “It’s good for two things: degreasing engines and killing brain cells.”
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