Monday, December 1, 2008

The Matrix

For a while I called The Matrix my favorite movie, and the only reason I don't anymore is that I have a difficult time declaring a favorite anything. It's legacy was marred by the sequels, but watching it again, it still holds up as a really good action movie with a story worth thinking about. The "bullet time" effect shots aren't as impressive as they used to be and the way that they're lingered on seems kind of silly and self-indulgent now, but they don't detract too much from some otherwise excellent fight scenes. Everybody and their dog is complaining about shaky cam filming now, and it's nice to see an American movie again that shows the action in a way that you can actually tell easily what's going on. People don't like stunt doubles anymore, so it seems the compromise is to move the camera around really fast and cut quickly so it's hard to tell if it's really the actor or if he's even doing anything. The Wachowski Brothers on the other hand, say what you will about them ripping off anime and Philosophy 101, decided to take the time to train the main actors enough so they could convincingly pull off some pretty nice martial arts choreography. Nobody's confusing Keanu Reeves with Jet Li or anything, but it works well enough, and they don't go overboard on the wires either, a technique that I've come to dislike.

The movie isn't only good at Kung Fu, either. It has a really good gunfight and a really good chase that's intertwined with a really good science fiction robot monsters thing. It's still tense after all these times I've seen it. The movie's almost ten years old, but it really has aged better than many expected it would. Just the central story, the revelation of what's really going on behind the scenes, the whole crew of the Nebuchadnezzar and their camaraderie, the solid betrayal and interrogation scenes... the movie is just good. I enjoyed the sequels enough, but they're not close to the original's incredible watchability. Neo is the role that Keanu Reeves was born to play, sort of like Arnold with The Terminator. They're not very good actors, but this is a role he just seems to fit perfectly. There's not many people you could buy as a disconnected hacker (there's his woodenness) and as badass savior of humanity (he's good at looking kinda stoic). And this is where Hugo Weaving declared himself as king of the movies for nerds genre, playing a great villain with moments of both unnerving coldness and immense rage. I have no qualms with saying I love this movie.

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