The Matrix: Retar–, er Reloaded

Summary: A Sharon Stone-type movie: pretty, but makes little sense

A note about my rating system: I assign vacuums not on an absolute scale, but according to how good the movie could/should have been. For example, Manos: The Hands of Fate was filmed with a hand-held, hand-cranked 8mm camera with no sound, and its creator dubbed the dialog in himself afterwards. Given that . . . okay, it would still get a load of vacuums. My point is, so does the Matrix sequel.

Plot Summary: You’ll have to ask the screenwriter, but I doubt he has any better idea than I.

The Story: I’m quite a fan of the original Matrix. Even on first viewing, I could tell it was a groundbreaking film, all the more astonishing because it came from a couple of doofi like the Wachowski brothers. True, the concept of giving humans energy (nutrients) in order to get back energy was fundamentally stupid, but at least it was understandable. Well, they didn’t make that mistake again!

The story opens aboard the Nebuchadnezzar where we find our heroes: Neo, Trinity, Morpheus, and some new guy named Link (played by the winner of the annual Franklyn Ajaye look-alike contest). They are returning to humanity’s home base: Zion, named after the Jewish homeland yet with an astonishing lack of white people.

Zion is in trouble, as giant mole-machines are slowly eating their way toward it. Zion’s ruling Council responds by calling a massive assembly during which Morpheus gets everyone so jazzed at the thought of being human that a massive orgy ensues–like Mardi Gras but without the tasteful understatement. Trinity, having swapped out her skin-tight, rubber catsuit for something sexy, finds Neo and suggests he “come plug into my matrix,” which he does.

Soon, the Nebu is on the road once more, off to save humankind through ways no one can explain nor understand. Neo visits the Oracle again, a computer program that has given up chain smoking for candy. The Oracle explains the Meaning Of It All to Neo: She’s figured out that if you rearrange the letters of his name, he is the One. He must now learn the Meaning of the Reason behind the Question to the Answer before he can hope to advance to Dungeon Master. To do so, he must find a guy to lead him to some other guy who makes keys for a door that will take him to Donald Sutherland’s brother, where he won’t find his answers, either. I’m paraphrasing, of course; the real explanation was kinda senseless. It had something to do with Colonel Mustard in the study with a lead pipe.

Well, you dance with the one what brung ya. Every time the story bogged down (which was about every five minutes), another high-speed, slo-mo karate fight would ensue. Martial arts instructors are apparently cheaper than screenwriters. In one protracted sequence, the Warchowski Brothers show an astonishing level of regret for having killed off Agent Elrond Smith in Matrix I by bringing him back–about eight thousand times–to attack Neo. Keanu must have felt like Judy Garland on the Munchkin set. We discover the Multitude o’ Smiths must attack and destroy Neo because–well okay, I don’t have the damnedest idea what that part was all about. But it was an impressive fight. All ninety minutes or so of it.

Neo escapes and finds one of the men he seeks, makes out with the guy’s busty wife, whose see-through dress demonstrates the producers forgot to include a panty budget (I did say the movie reminded me of Sharon Stone), and ends up on the run with Milli Vanilli in hot pursuit. Our heroes end up on a Los Angeles freeway in the biggest, most destructive car chase since the original Blues Brothers Movie. This brief, two-hour scene included the best action sequence in the film: Trinity stealing a motorcycle and racing down the crowded freeway in the wrong direction, dodging traffic like a Congressman dodging subpoenas. Unfortunately, this sequence occupied only about 30 of the movie’s 8,000+ seconds. Neo escapes via magic and, after confronting a few hundred more Agent Smiths, is ready for the Big Finale.

So as not to give away the dramatic ending, I’ll say no more, except that the Wachowski Brothers have watched the Superman movies a few too many times, obviously confusing their Reeveses. When I saw the movie in the theater and the final credits suddenly appeared, the theater filled with groans. We all knew another one of these things is headed our way in a few months.

Performances: Keanu was typically Keanu, Carrie-Anne Moss was still tough and sexy as Trinity, and Lawrence Fishburne continued to drone on about Prophesy, reminding us why he’s named after the god of morphine. I liked the new character, Captain Niobi, played by Jada Pinkett Smith. She, like Carrie-Anne, could kick ass while looking hot. Though why Niobi’s attracted to Morpheus is beyond me; maybe she has trouble sleeping.

Since I can’t recall anyone else being in this movie, it’s safe to say I found their performances less than riveting.

Like its predecessor, Matrix: Reloaded has another cutting-edge soundtrack, including the closing credits number (lyrics: “Whadja say, whadja say, whadja say, what?”) which was a creative blend of random bass notes and some guy screaming in agony, probably from one of the test audiences.

Disappointing, but because of the excellent motorcycle sequence, I hereby bestow my rare and coveted three vacuum rating.

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