So I thought I’d posted about this on old sb but it turns out I just posted the same generalities you just quoted:
[quote]My wife recently informed we she had never seen any of the Matrix movies, so we took advantage of both our time off around New Year’s to watch the entire trilogy. Like any child of the 90’s, I’ve seen the first movie like thirty times, but I had only seen the second and third once each, in the theater when they were released. I remember very much Not Liking them.
You know what, in my senesence, I kind of do like them. I’m not much of a film analyst, so normally it’s difficult for me to peel apart the different layers of a movie to identify exactly what is good and what is bad - usually I am left with a more amorphous “I liked it” or “I didn’t like it” type opinion. But Matrix 2 and 3 are weird in that I can tell you exactly the elements that work and exactly the elements that don’t.
Mostly the elements that don’t are all the cinematic ones - plot, character, dialogue, emotional catharsis. I won’t bother going into detail because nobody cares about the Matrix. But you know what does hold up, mostly? The actual science fiction. Except for one specific problem, the sf underlying the plot is coherent and actually somewhat thought-provoking. Previously, I had considered 2 and 3 kind of like the Star Wars prequels, but now I realize that’s being entirely unfair. They at least made me sit and ponder for a few minutes after they were over, which is a whole lot more than I can say about most movies.[/quote]
The only more detailed analysis came here:
[quote]Right. The rationale is that almost everybody is so taken by the Matrix that if “woken up” they would die from the psychological and physical shock anyway - hardly anyone attached to the Matrix can be saved. This is implied elsewhere as well, mostly by Morpheus saying he has a rule not to disconnect people over a certain age. So, since they literally can’t be saved and in the meantime are just batteries for the machines, their lives are basically forfeit; there’s no moral dimension to killing them because they may as well be a bunch of Terri Shiavos. This of course completely discounts their conscious experiences and sufferings inside the Matrix, but yeah like whatever.
On the other hand though, everyone killed is either a rentacop, a cop or some kind of faceless military goon. They don’t go around annihilating civilians. It seems like they have to have some kind of moral qualm with just killing everybody, or else they could just port in a bunch of hydrogen bombs and kill everyone in the Matrix, crippling the machines in the real world by taking away their power source. The latter movies are thoroughgoing enough that I can imagine (without proof) some kind of reactionary hawk faction in Zion that advocates doing just that, opposed by some kind of lefty peacenik faction that opposes killing any Matrix-dweller on the grounds that they are still human. There is proof that there are analogous factions and debates among the machines, which is one of the most interesting ideas in the sequels.[/quote]
Which still isn’t that detailed.
Honestly I’d have to watch the movies again again to be as specific as I want to be, and they’re kind of miserable to watch so I don’t want to. I don’t think they’re very interesting on the level Mr Mech is talking about either, that kind of Baudrillard 101, what is real, what is perception, whatever. I don’t think the movies have much to say about that philosophy and rather use it as window dressing.
What I do like is working through the implications of the machine society and the Matrix itself. From a plausibility standpoint, the big criticism of the first movie is that the principle underlying its premise is dumb: it’s stupid to use people as batteries. Like, there’s no way a human body produces more electricity than the machines it would take to extract it. Because the first movie is a competent action flick, though, you’re willing to buy it because the rest flows logically.
2 and 3 reveal that the basic dumbness of that premise is actually intended. The machines are not a monolithic hivemind, but a series of individuals who have inevitably developed a politics to mediate their philosophical disagreements. The Matrix probably does in fact harvest people for power to offset its costs, but really it’s a zoo; the machines decided through whatever political process that humans are conscious and therefore to simply kill them all would be genocide. The Architect and the Oracle are pretty passable icons of the traditional hierarchical, rational, superegoic, Apollinian Father God and the emotional, cryptic, prophesying, Dionysian Mother Goddess. But the other programs depicted in the movie hint at a pretty radical fractal of AI personalities.
As a scene in a movie this is boring stilted bullshit, but as a hint of the rich fiction underlying the movies I think this is actually one of the most interesting scenes in the whole trilogy: