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The Matrix

Journal John Harrison's Journal: Matrix Reloaded Notes - Spoliers

Just got back from a Wednesday night showing of The Matrix Reloaded. I am at a conference and Schlumberger was kind enough to be handing out tickets at their booth. I am helping to staff the booth across from them and they gave me a ticket. Can't complain much about free tickets to a movie a day before it comes out. To top it off, we got the best seats in the house, five rows up (stadium seating), right in the middle of the row.

I didn't like it as much as the first one, probably because the first one seemed rather fresh and new. This one is of course bigger and badder, but maybe not as novel. There isn't the sense of discovery, or even much doubt that things will turn out alright, since you know that Neo is now all-powerful. Just the same he expresses his own doubts throughout, probably to convince the audience that there is real drama here.

The movie opens with a view of the workings of the matrix, which zooms outward fractally to finally reveal a clock. A timecard clock to be exact, leading to the question of are the people punching in machines themselves or part of a machine. I just wanted to hear, "We don't need no education!"

Ok, the rest of this might contain major spoilers, so beware. Don't read it if you haven't seen it yet. Of course who am I kidding, nobody reads this thing....

The movie features a constant discoure on determinism. Are we automatons, or do we have free will? The word "choice" comes up so often that you will get sick of it. I thought that the philosophy in the first movie was much more subtle. This one is pounding you over the head with it. Lots of symbolism too, I probably missed lots of stuff, but here is some of what I noticed.

The movie begins with Neo having a vision of the future, and like Minority Report, though he knows the future there isn't much he can do to stop it. In fact knowing this will cause him to take actions that will lead to the occurance event he is trying to prevent. Ohhh, what a paradox. One of the bad guys will be put in a similar situation, causing the very thing he is trying to prevent by his betrayl of his digital girlfriend who get revenge by seeking some lip time with Neo. The movie thrives on paradox by the way. Lots of stuff for theoretical CS people and math people to chew on with their philosophy buddies.

Speaking of choice, Agent Smith has become a virus and a "free agent", no longer taking orders from above. Interesting that the machine has free will but the humans keep wondering if they do. He is able to infect a human, though much of this subplot is left to be resolved in the next movie. Smith is certainly a fun character to watch, but he didn't strike me as being as fearsome or as hate-worthy as he was in the first movie.

The doors of the dwellings in Zion are all painted blood red. Wonder what that could mean... duh. Neo is treated by many as a saviour, though we don't get to see how he reacts to all this adulation other than a bit of him sneaking off for an overly long and explicit roll in the hay with Trinity. The scene is strikes me as somebody went to Rio for Carnaval and decided to include an homage to Orfeu Negro, just as Orson Wells got way to caught up in the drama of carnaval, this one goes on too long and is probably the main reason for the R rating, other than a bunch of F words in a particularly funny scene.

The fight scene with Smith is exciting, but the real show stopper was the highway chase scene. IT even looked like 101, though I know that they built their highway on the other side of the bay.

Several movie references were made. To name a few: Return of the Jedi when volunteers are asked for to go on a mission. Very similar to Han Solo & Co. volunteering for the Endor mission. Rumble in the Bronx where Jackie Chan takes the swipe at the hovercraft with the big sword. Superman is a really obvious one. If only Neo had flown around the matrix really fast to make matrix time go backwards... Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (and others) with the room full of weapons. More Minority Report (and Pushing Tin?) when we see the UIs that the Zion flight controllers use. Maybe some Battlestar Galactica with a council of old people (were there 12? I didn't count) controlling things. Also, we are promised some Robotech/Heavy Gear action with human piloted giant robots slinging big guns. I know I have seen corridors full of doors before, but I can't remember where. Similar to the ponds in The Magician's Nephew. The tagalong kid will probably be featured more in the next movie and seems like a plot element borrowed from about a million movies.

The movie makes another giant nod to gnosticism with the character of the keymaster. If only Rick Moranis (sp?) had played the part... "I am the keymaster, are you the gatekeeper?" Secret knowledge can open important doors.

Of course the movie comes back to the subject of CHOICE, with the Oracle's boyfriend (why do these machines/programs take on human geneders... that reminds me, lots of TRON references...) admitting that he has set up a system that embraces paradox and choice in order to survive. Godel anyone? The matrix is based on choice. This scene also makes reference to the idea of a parallel universive being created for each choice each of us makes, with all possibilities being explored in them. This concept is nicely illustrated with the TV monitors from the first movie. Speaking of the first movie, lots of references to the red pill/blue pill. The Oracle gives Neo a candy resembling a red pill. Neo is given a choice between two doors. Now in addition to green showing up in the trickling green code representation of the matrix there are blue characters as well.

I am looking forward to the next one, I enjoyed this one, but it wasn't The Empire Strikes Back to the original's Star Wars. More of Back to the Future 2 as compared to Back to the Future. Hopefully Revloutions won't be Return of the Jedi. I can just see little fuzzy "bugs in the matrix" coming to Neo's aid.

Well, it is late, and this is the end of my convuluted and poorly edited review.

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Matrix Reloaded Notes - Spoliers

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