the matrix comes of age

The Matrix turns 18 this year, it’ll soon be old enough to vote and die in a war, but still too young for a stiff drink. It is time for reckoning.

I saw the first movie probably a dozen times because I was young and innocent and it reached me in a weird way. I only saw the Matrix Part 2 once, and legitimately did not understand anything about it that wasn’t a fist, foot, or bullet. I saw the third one once too and felt like I understood it enough to hate almost every minute of it…

So like. What are those movies supposed to be about?

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you should watch 2 again. 3 is really fucking bad, but 2 has a lot of interesting stuff


They’re about, like, God and stuff and perception and the nature of reality and the thoughts you have on these subjects after taking a really good bong rip.

Watch World on a Wire next.


Whoa! I’ve never heard of that. Looks cool!


check it out man

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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:


Cuba, have you seen The Animatrix? There’s a Peter Chung short in there dealing with the machine consciousness that’s worth watching at least once.

Other than that, hell, it never occurred to me that the machines were actually fighting amongst themselves over how to handle the human population. I haven’t watched the movies in like a decade.

the matrix trilogy is basically a bad version of evangelion. it became wildly popular by roping people in with a solid take on easily likeable action tropes in a vaguely coherent universe, then once they were hooked it exploded into idiosyncratic neurosis and messy pop philosophy before abandoning all pretense of pacing and watch-ability in a fit monologues and orgiastic action sequences with no basis in reality


i remember being a staunch defender of 2 and 3, maybe because i was in high school and really liked it’s weird settings and mechs and the fact that there’s a live action Dragon Ball Z fight in the climax of the 3rd and i hadn’t seen that in a regular movie theater up to that point.

one of the selling points of the Matrix Trilogy DVD box set was that they had audio commentaries done by the critics who hated the sequels and i have always wanted to hear them, but never did. one day i’ll rewatch these.

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Recently watched 1 last year at a local indie theater, need to see 2 and 3 again soon. While I’ve agreed with widespread criticisms about their structure and pacing, I always felt they were more coherent than they get credit for; not as bombastic as the internet hate machine makes 'em out to be. But yeah it’s been a while so I need to review.

I think the Animatrix is still some uh, “neat fun”. Some of the shorts are kinda cool liberal takes, a few give great background (Second Renaissance). The first one was pretty amazing at the time (Square Pictures CG) but doesn’t have that impact now, nor as a Reloaded tie-in.

Path of Neo was pretty good at being a videogame.

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When’s the reboot?

this toure interview got me into the idea that the matrix is actually about systemic racism. there were a lot of articles written about it in 2003 before the matrix became a thing that people thought was dumb. sophia stewart was probably the original writer of the first matrix. uhh… everyone in zion is mixed also

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I love the Animatrix, because a lot of the direction and animation is really great, but also because of the way it can explore these questions from different angles. In terms of deepening the fiction, the best are Peter Chung’s and World Record (which basically postulates that pure physical exertion - which in the Matrix is, after all, mental exertion - can break the Matrix’s programming parameters).

Frankly they’re all good for different reasons. Maybe I should write a post of Animatrix minireviews.

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I don’t think this is so much an intended subtext of the movie as a directorial tic of the Wachowskis. They are very, very invested in representation. Sense8 is a show where diversity is literally a superpower. Their earnest, almost naïve multiculturalism is really nice and joyful I think.

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also it’s maybe less surprising now but there’s a bunch of stuff you can read trans shit into

Weaving savouring every note of the delivery of ‘Mister Ander…son’ and never using Neo’s chosen name is like, pretty intense in retrospect


Also the way they emphasize early on how their appearance within the matrix is an idealized self image after theyre awakened.


Yeah I started watching Reloaded again last night and this was something that stood out to me about it. It more just made me realize how much whiter every other big tentpole action franchise has been lately, or ever I guess.

The other thing that I never noticed before is how Reloaded (in spite of the title) relies way more on old school wuxia tropes than the first one, and a lot less on gunplay. I have a feeling the even-more-chinese looking costumes and lack of guns are probably a post-Columbine thing. But to me it works. Some of the choreography is really spectacular. Unfortunately this is intercut with really really horrible cg of Keanu doing flips and stuff, which feels mostly unnecessary.

I think I’m about halfway through. I had totally forgotten about the whole “Morpheus is an iconoclastic zealot” angle of Reloaded. Harry Lennix is pretty awesome.

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Growing up, I saw all the movies as they came out. Thought 1 was fantastic, found 2 and 3 to be huge failures (I saw 3 purely for love of 1, much like watching the Star Wars prequels). My parents and all my friends thought the same.

A decade later, I was on an international flight and Matrix 2 was on, so I figured, eh, why not? Watching it again, I realized the reason I hated 2 so much was because I had such huge expectations. Matrix 2 is a solid action movie with some interesting ideas, it just fails to hit the incredibly high bar that 1 set.