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"The Matrix Revolutions"

Directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski.
Written by Andy and Larry Wachowski. 
Starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss and Hugo Weaving.
Release Year:  2003
Review Date:  11/6/03 

Folks--

Here’s the best way I can sum up “The Matrix Revolutions” for those looking for an executive summary:  this is the “Back to the Future 3” of the modern era.  A film that almost makes you forget how much you loved the original film, “Revolutions” is poo in a whole bunch of ways from start to finish.  Remember how much you loved watching “Back to the Future”?  Then, remember how excited you were for “Back to the Future 2”, hoping that they could recapture some of the magic (and then did to a small degree)?  Then, remember what a piece of fucking shit “BTTF 3” was?

Ditto for this trilogy.  “The Matrix” was awesome, plain and simple.  I remember leaving the theater with my girlfriend at the time, and both of us were imitating the running-up-the-wall bit from the lobby shooting spree (now known by Chuck “Homeowner” Longer and I as “Chapter 29” per its spot on the DVD) and doing the bullet time lean that Neo does to escape gunfire on that rooftop.  I saw “The Matrix” in theaters four times.  “The Matrix Reloaded” is a much better film that it seems to be getting credit for; I saw it twice in theaters, and both times my verdict was the same—first half-hour sucked, sex scene sucked and that rave scene...but, once Neo met up with Seraph (Collin Chou) in the tea house and Neo fought the Agent Smith horde in that courtyard, it got good real quick-like.  Monica Bellucci—solid.  Freeway—solid.  The Architect—ridiculous and confusing, but he still made you sit there and think a little.  For a follow-up to a film as good as the original, “Reloaded” was just fine.

“Revolutions” is a mess, a video game train wreck that is so soulless that I sat there watching the film’s final 45 minutes hoping for just one scene—one fucking scene!—where there was not a single special effect or computer-generated image, and right now I can’t remember a single one.  There were so many problems with this film that I am going to take the time now to tell you about all of them, so you just sit there and read, dammit:

1.  The Wachowski Brothers, creators of the trilogy, seem to not recognize their character assets very well and do an incredibly deft job of avoiding the use of these assets throughout “Revolutions.”  Laurence Fishburne, so key in making the original film a hit, is in so little of this film that I am now wondering how many actual on-screen minutes he has in “Revolutions.”  He gets the chance to lay down some firepower in the film’s early-going, and then he all but disappears for the film’s final 90 minutes.  Baffling.  More confusing, though, is this:  Where are the Twins?  The best bad guys from “Reloaded” are nowhere to be found in this film, and since they work for the Merovingian (Lambert Wilson), who has a scene early on, why don’t they appear to defend him?  Instead, we are introduced to a bum named The Trainman, whose only distinguishable feature is his amazingly bad grill.  Monica Bellucci?  Besides appearing in that same early scene with Wilson, she is nowhere, either.  (Fact:  In the game “Enter the Matrix”, a few of the 60 original minutes of film involve Jada Pinkett Smith’s Niobe and Bellucci hooking up.  I am not kidding.)  At least we get a fairly heavy dose of Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), the only actor in these films who can say he came out on top every time.  More Seraph would have been nice, but he is removed from the picture fairly early on as well.  Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) gets to whoop a little ass early on, then she becomes The Love Interest, and that just fucking blows.

2.  I like gun violence.  A lot.  I also like good fighting movies.  The original “Matrix” had a great mix of the two.  “Reloaded” had a fair amount of fighting, and almost no gun warfare.  “Revolutions”?  We get a scene almost directly from the video game “Enter the Matrix” featuring guns early on, and no hand-to-hand fighting of note until the end of the film.  Don’t sequels normally give us more of what we want, not less?  If I wanted to see a huge battle between robots, I would just watch “Battletech” or play “MechWarrior 4” or—better—rent “Return of the Jedi” and watch the last 40 minutes.  Not “Revolutions”, which has a battle sequence that rages on so long that it almost put me to sleep.  And, that last fight scene between Smith and Neo?  This is one of the worst fight scenes of all time, and it probably cost $20 million to shoot the damned thing.  Of course, by “shoot”, I really mean “program”, since almost none of the scene takes place without the use of a blue screen, wires, animators and stunt doubles.

3.  Two full minutes—TWO FULL MINUTES—of “Revolutions” are wasted on the main characters trying to figure out why The Oracle (Mary Alice) doesn’t look like The Oracle from the first two films.  Now, in real life, Gloria Foster played this character in the first two films and she died during filming.  I’ll admit that this left the Wachowskis in a bit of a hole...but, my thought was, why not just write it off as a program upgrade?  There’s got to be a way to just say that her looks change constantly and be done with it.  Instead, I have to endure watching Morpheus and Trinity try to figure out the problem, then I have to watch Neo try and figure it out later, too.  This problem is compounded by the fact that if you have played the video game “Enter the Matrix”, Alice was in the game as The Oracle and the characters didn’t make any note of the fact that she looked different.  Minor, but very poor.

4.  Speaking of The Oracle, man, am I glad I won’t have to watch any more of those scenes.  The constant circle-speak of The Oracle becomes grating after a while, mostly due to its predictability:

Neo:  What’s going to happen next?
The Oracle:  You don’t know?
Neo:  I don’t think so.  Is it bad?
The Oracle [blowing smoke from cigarette]:  Maybe.  Bad for some, but good for others.
Neo:  Good for who?
The Oracle [while baking more cookies]:  You don’t know?  You should by now—all the clues are right in front of you.  You’re going to have to figure that one out for yourself, kid.  I’m just the Yoda-foil for these films, and then I’m gonna go retire.

5.  We spend so much time following around minor characters from the first two films that “Revolutions” turns into a supporting character mess; why introduce that little Indian girl when she has so little to do with the main storyline?  Do I really care if Link’s wife Zee (superhot Nona Gaye) can load a rocket into a launcher?  Do I give a shit about that little kid that was kissing the ground that Neo walked on in “Reloaded”?  These characters, and others, take away from the core threesome that got me this far in the first place.  I think that the ship operator Link (Harold Perrineau) has more scenes than Morpheus...who allowed this to happen?

6.  The soundtrack for “Revolutions”—much like “Reloaded”—is absolutely horrific.  I am still stunned that more people are not talking about this.  The soundtrack for the first film is a top-five-ever soundtrack, period point-blank.  The mix of songs and original music has not been topped in quite a while; “Pulp Fiction” is probably the best one I can think of outside of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, so to be mentioned in that strata is significant because the two sequels to “The Matrix” have featured such poor music that it makes one assume that the production ran out of money set aside for a quality soundtrack, instead blowing the cash on more special effects shots.

7.  Given the circumstances, the ending for “Revolutions” is laughable and just bad.  At one point in my theater, one of the more featured characters gets offed and someone in my theater hilariously coughed “Bullshit” so loud that our entire audience burst into laughter, including Robin Williams, who was sitting about 10 seats to my left.  Pure comedy, and there is so much unintentional comedy in this film that I would be embarrassed to call this film my own if I were the director.  Corny is not just a word, it’s a way of life in “Revolutions.”

8.  Is “Everything That Has a Beginning Has an End” the worst tagline in the history of film?  The posters for “Revolutions” are as bad as the posters for “Reloaded” are just cool.

I’ll admit, I do have some praise for “Revolutions”...some.  That action scene early on was pretty hot, even if it didn’t make sense to me that a martial arts master like Seraph would ever whip out automatic pistols to take down bad guys.  Some of the film’s visuals are pretty cool, although nothing in this film felt as groundbreaking as those visuals from the first film.  Weaving is just brilliant in this role; his Smith is a bit more emotional this time around, which makes him funnier, especially in his money bit with The Oracle, as he mockingly tries to figure out just what is going to happen next.

The casting of these films is also one of the great shining spots for “The Matrix” trilogy.  I don’t think I can think of another set of films that seems to so consciously make sure that social positions high and low are taken up by blacks, whites, Asians and Indians in these films, and I love it.  Although they are quite hokey, it is cool having scenes featuring a truly solid mix of all races handing out the high fives when things go well.

And, the trailers in front of “Revolutions” were pretty good, too.  “Troy” looks hot, and I am just hot and bothered waiting for “Return of the King” December 17th.  Like I keep saying, the trailer for “Revolutions” told me it was gonna be bad...but, the trailer for “King” makes it look like the money film for 2003.

Rating:  Rental

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09