A “B” Movie in Profound Clothing

The Matrix Reloaded

I liked The Matrix Reloaded more than the original movie, but that’s not saying much. The first hour of this ponderous sequel is interminable — with George Lucas-quality dialogue and very little to distinguish Zion from a dozen other grimy sci-fi settings — but the movie picks up when Neo and company enter the Matrix.

The first movie was well-made but so expository that it was narratively dead. Reloaded is messy but an improvement, because unlike the first part of the trilogy, something actually feels at-stake in The Matrix this time around. Neo, with the assistance of a more-colorful cast of characters, is on a quest to find the secret of the virtually-reality environment that keeps most of humanity pacified. This is more of a puzzle than the first film’s voyage of self-discovery, and as a result it’s a lot more engaging.

But it’s still not nearly as profound or deep as it thinks it is. The climax is that old your-woman-or-your-species hero quandary, and its treatment was lifted wholesale from Superman the Movie. (I’m sure that’s homage.) A lot of words have been sacrificed to laud the allusive and philosophical richness of the Matrix series, but I’m not buying any of it. The films might resonate with some as the original Star Wars trilogy did with my generation, but to me the first two Matrix entries are expensive B movies dressed very nicely by the Wachowski brothers in sophisticated clothing. Their Bound beats the pants off them, because it doesn’t pretend to be anything beyond great-looking trash.

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