Film: The Matrix Revolutions

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Film:

The Matrix Revolutions

Series: Part 3 of The Matrix Trilogy
Director: Larry Wachowski, Andy Wachowski
Honors:
Genres:
Distributor: Warner Home Video

Despite the inevitable law of diminishing returns, The Matrix Revolutions is quite satisfying as an adrenalized action epic, marking yet another milestone in the exponential evolution of computer-generated special effects. That may not be enough to satisfy hardcore Matrix fans who turned the Wachowski Brothers’ hacker mythology into a quasi-religious pop-cultural phenomenon, but there’s no denying that the trilogy goes out with a cosmic bang instead of the whimper that many expected. Picking up precisely where The Matrix Reloaded left off,…

Reviews

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Despite the inevitable law of diminishing returns, The Matrix Revolutions is quite satisfying as an adrenalized action epic, marking yet another milestone in the exponential evolution of computer-generated special effects. That may not be enough to satisfy hardcore Matrix fans who turned the Wachowski Brothers’ hacker mythology into a quasi-religious pop-cultural phenomenon, but there’s no denying that the trilogy goes out with a cosmic bang instead of the whimper that many expected. Picking up precisely where The Matrix Reloaded left off, this 130-minute finale finds Neo (Keanu Reeves) at a virtual junction, defending the besieged human enclave of Zion by confronting the attacking machines on their home turf, while humans combat swarms of tentacled mechanical sentinels as Zion’s fate lies in the balance. It all amounts to a blaze of CGI glory, devoid of all but the shallowest emotions, and so full of metaphysical hokum that the trilogy’s detractors can gloat with I-told-you-so sarcasm. And yet, Revolutions still succeeds as a slick, exciting hybrid of cinema and video game, operating by its own internal logic with enough forward momentum to make the whole trilogy seem like a thrilling, magnificent dream. —Jeff Shannon

The opening reels of Matrix Revolutions do nothing to dispel the feeling of exhausted disappointment that set in during the second half of The Matrix Reloaded. There’s plenty more talky guff combined with the picking-up of hard-to-remember plot threads as Neo (Keanu Reeves) lies in a coma in the “real” world and is stranded on a tube station in a limbo “beyond the Matrix” while his allies do a reprise of the shooting-their-way-past-the-bodyguards bit from the last film (this time, the baddies can walk on the ceiling). A new Oracle (Mary Alice) makes some pronouncements about the end being near and more things happen—including the evil Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) manifesting in reality by possessing a minor character and perfidiously blinding our hero, who wears a becoming ribbon over his wounded eyes and perceives the world in an impressive “flaming truth vision”.

What about the action? The equivalent of the last film’s freeway chase scene is a huge face-off as the Sentinels (robot squids) finally breach the caverns of Zion, “the last human city”, and swarm against a battalion of pilot-manipulated giant robots: here, the effects are seamless and the images astonishing, though the fact that none of the major characters are involved and the whole thing goes on so long as if designed to top any previous robot-on-robot screen carnage means that it becomes monotonously amazing, like watching someone else play a great computer game. After a too-easily-managed major realignment of the enmities, the film—and the series—finally delivers a sign-off sequence that’s everything you could want as Neo and Smith get into a kung fu one-on-one in a rain-drenched virtual city, flying as high as Superman and Brainiac in smart suits. It comes too late to save the day and the wrap-up is both banal and incoherent, but at least this single combat is a reward for hardy veterans who’ve sat through seven hours of build-up.—Kim Newman

On the DVD: when the first Matrix DVD was released, with never-before-seen features such as the “Follow the White Rabbit” option, it set a benchmark against which subsequent discs were judged. But neither sequel has lived up to the original’s high standards. The Matrix Revolutions two-disc set is an unexceptional package, with a routine “making of” featurette being the main bonus item. Amid all the usual backslapping guff about how great everyone is and what a great time they’ve all had, it’s possible to glean some nuggets of useful information about the baffling plot—though cast and crew can’t repress a note of weariness creeping in when discussing the horribly protracted shooting schedule. The feature on the CG Revolution is the most informative for people who like to know how everything was done, and, in the same vein, there’s also a multi-angle breakdown of the Super Burly Brawl. A 3-D timeline gives a handy summary of the story so far, and there’s a plug for The Matrix Online game. The anamorphic 2.40:1 picture is, of course, a real treat to look at, even if the movie is mostly shades of dark grey and dark green; soundwise the dynamic range of the Dolby Digital surround is extreme: all conversations are conducted in throaty whispers, while the action sequences will push your speakers to the limit. No DTS option, though. And as with Reloaded, there’s no audio commentary either: the Wachowski’s policy of not talking about their creation begins to seem like a ploy to avoid answering awkward questions. —Mark Walker

Barnes and Noble

The final installment in the Matrix trilogy brings the saga to a rousing conclusion, pitting the remnants of humanity against the mechanical minions of the Merovingian in all-out war. Sibling directors Andy and Larry Wachowski, whose previous entries in the series helped redefine action-oriented sci-fi movies, throw everything but the proverbial kitchen sink into this eye-popping sequel. As in the previous Matrix movies, the seemingly incongruous blending of sophisticated special-effects sequences with the screenplay’s elliptical mysticism makes for a uniquely entertaining hybrid. All along we have been told that reluctant hero Neo (Keanu Reeves) is “The One,” humanity’s chosen savior, and he gets to prove it repeatedly. The climactic clash with his indefatigable adversary, Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) looks like a live-action version of a comic-book battle, and it’s one the film’s many highlights. Also back again to fulfill their destinies are Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), who’ve been with Neo from the beginning of his struggles within the Matrix. Occasionally it appears as though the Wachowskis’ reach has exceeded their grasp: some of the supporting characters are insufficiently developed, and the presence of Italian sex siren Monica Bellucci amounts to barely a cameo. But Revolutions never stints on the action, which includes extensive battle sequences that rate among the best ever attempted. As the grand finale of an epic trilogy, the movie may not have the most rewarding ending, but the exciting impact of The Matrix—both on movies and pop culture in general—remains undeniable. Ed Hulse

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