“The Matrix”

 Last month, I joined the rest of the world who have seen The Matrix – sci-fi staple and movie icon.

While I have my disagreements with the minds behind it, there’s no denying the lasting entertainment of this piece.

The Good

Coolness

The purpose of a film (in my opinion) is to entertain, and this one definitely does. This is not the time to question the practically of long, flapping, leather coats, or the necessity of sunglasses indoors. This is about the sheer visual effect of our hero running up someone to kick them in the face (coat flapping like a cape) or someone else pivoting slowly, revealing their mirrored sunglasses.

Duuuude.

(Also don’t think about the fact they’re slaughtering a whole roomful of human beings just to get to the elevator – this is about the slo-mo, okay?)

Characters

Good guys, bad guys, middle guys…the life of a story is the characters. The principle ones are fleshed out with nuance, subtlety, and strength – while even the side ones have their distinguishing quirks and traits.

I especially loved Agent Smith. I don’t wonder now that this quintessential villain has helped elevate his movie to a classic.

The heroic leads themselves are sympathetic – strong yet thoughtful Trinity, inexperienced yet motivated Neo – and pull the audience in to follow their story. Which leads to:

Tension

I don’t get hung up on “story structure,” but the writers have done a masterful job in building interest, layering tension, feeding questions and fears at the audience until we’re glued to our seats, certain something terrible will happen but holding on to see what saves the day.

From the set atmosphere, to the dialogue and the acting, everything builds, builds, builds to breaking point.

The Bad

Language

I understand why my dad waited so long to expose us to this. We had to be old enough to have developed our own private filters to know, “We don’t talk like that” – our own internal “bleepers.”

Worldview

Speculative fiction is about asking, “What if?”

If we lived in a giant computer simulation, what would be the clues? How could we know? What would we do?”

That doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is the people who think it might be true. I won’t spend many words on this except to say, the implied purpose of the machines building the Matrix is to create a uniform experience for all humanity. This is, after all, what computers excel at: uniform, quantifiable, measurable, predictable, calculable.

But the totality of human experience is not like this. The life and experiences of a pauper in sub-Saharan Africa is going to be vastly different from the life and experiences of a software developer in downtown New York…and this would defeat the purpose of the Machines.

It’s fun to explore science fiction, and see a world that plays with “What if?” – but it’s also important to examine these concepts in the light of what we know from reality.

Of the two sequels I shall not speak, since I have not seen them, nor do I desire them.

Violence

I already mentioned massacring a bunch of innocent policemen just doing their job. But that’s not the point – look at all our cool guns!

The Truth is Out There

Fiction is about fun, and The Matrix was fun (for all that it’s 18 years old).

Handle at parents’ discretion.


Image courtesy of Wikipedia, used for review purposes.

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