Trying to fall in love with film again.

'The Matrix' is regarded as one of the best sci-fi movies ever made and I agree.

Amazon.com: The Matrix Poster 27x40 Keanu Reeves Carrie-Anne Moss ...Story

The story revolves around a man named Thomas Anderson who moonlights as a hacker named Neo, who feels like there is something wrong with the life he is living and is confused by the cryptic messages he keeps getting about something called ‘The Matrix’. He is then contacted by a mysterious woman named Trinity who tells him about Morpheus who's been looking for him. He meets Morpheus who offers him a choice to learn about the Matrix or return to his former life and Neo chooses to learn more about the matrix. By choosing that path he chooses to rebel against those who built the Matrix. What makes the story more complex are the themes that are in the movie. They give the story more layers and gives you something to think about.

The story of the Matrix is an original story developed by the Wachowski siblings, and it's actually quite simple at its core. That's what I love the most about it. The story is about a man learning that the world around him isn't necessarily what he thinks it is. That's something that almost everyone experiences at one point and because of that, we can empathise with the confused look Neo has on his face for  50% of the movie.

Acting

Neo is the definition of an everyman much like the narrator in Fight Club. He lives a mundane life and when his world is turned upside down he handles it the same way any normal person would.
Keanu Reeves is perfect in this role, it ’s widely known that other actors were considered for the role but he really made the role his own. To put it lightly Neo has absolutely no charisma or physical charm. As far as a leading man he’s not what one would expect but that makes his character arch even more interesting because he’s just as unsure of himself as we are of him. By the end of the film, he looks and acts more like a heroic protagonist should. That’s not a complaint on Keanu Reeves’ acting quite the opposite. He’s a pretty charismatic man who played an uncharismatic character that’s not an easy thing to do.

Morpheus is one of the wisest characters ever put in a movie, and I could argue that point. He has a vague and prophetic statement for every single scenario that you could find yourself in, and him being played by Laurence Fishburne is an added bonus. Morpheus’ actions don’t always make sense but the more you watch, you get an explanation for his actions and you understand what makes him tick.

Trinity is a badass, she doesn’t get as much screen time and Neo or Morpheus but she has the best screen presence of all three, especially while she’s in the matrix. Her fight scenes are the most fun to watch and she’s some to be feared and respected.

Hugo Weaving’s Agent Smith is a brilliant antagonist. He’s seemingly omnipresent which gives him a more sinister edge. Even though his character doesn’t show a lot of emotion behind them dark glasses, we see everything we need to.

Writing/Direction

This film has some very interesting philosophical and religious ideas. Neo could be described as a Jesus metaphor, a powerful being who could save all of humanity (it doesn’t get any more on the nose than that unless you’re looking at Superman in the DCEU). It also has some references to Alice in Wonderland with Morpheus making a comment about going deeper into the rabbit hole.

One of the biggest themes in the movie is the idea of 'Free Will vs A Predetermined Path'. Those who are living in the Matrix are existing on a path already chosen for them by those who designed the matrix, while those like Morpheus, Trinity and now Neo are living based on their own free will and chose to free.

Another theme in the movie is 'Illusion v Reality', and how shockingly different or similar the two can be. The rebels want to break out of the constraints of the Matrix but the real world is a bleak mess. Both have their negatives and positives.

This film has a lot of exposition delivered to the audience by Morpheus, something I'm not a huge fan of. I understand the need for it, the audience needs to be brought up to speed much like Neo, which is why he is our surrogate. However, we are fed information for the first half of the movie, which makes it harder for the audience to connect with the characters and the story.

This movie was directed by the Wachowski siblings who also directed The Matrix sequels, Speed Racer, Jupiter Ascending and are heavily involved in the tv show Sense 8. I'm not familiar with their directing style and couldn't recognise anything distinct about this film. That’s not to say the direction in this film is bad. I have two issues, one is with the pacing. It comes from the amount of time dedicated to exposition, because of this it takes a while for you to get invested in the characters and the story. My other issue is the overabundance of slo-mo. This isn’t something I really blame on the film, more on its overuse in films today, something you could probably blame this movie for. Personally, I’m tired of seeing slo-mo regardless of what I’m watching.

CGI/Set Design 

This movie is very much a product of the late 90s and because of its release date, the visual effects are limited to what was possible in the 90s. Even at that, most of the visual effects look good especially those in the matrix.
The bullet times scene still looks epic almost 20 years later.
The only scenes that look fake are the more 'futuristic' scenes. They aren't few and far between, and seeing them can take you out of the film.
The directors did something very clever to distinguish between the matrix and the real world, having a visual aid like that provides a more immersive experience for the viewer.

This movie won an Oscar for Best visual effects and I have to say that it was well deserved. This movie pushes the boundaries of what was possible in the 90s. Even though all the CGI doesn't hold up by today's standard, most of the scenes still look really good.

The action set pieces in this film blend CGI and practical effects and there is a pretty seamless blend between the two for the most part.


Score/Soundtrack

As a self-professed film score junkie, the score in this film did nothing for me personally. I hardly noticed it because of everything else happening in the movie. When I did notice it, the score fit the scene very well. On a whole, the score is very futuristic especially when characters are in the Matrix.

Unlike most movie scores this doesn’t carry a lot of emotional weight, but that’s more a result of the film rather than the score itself. Don Davis was able to capture the theme of the movie and that reflects with the score.

Overall Thoughts

This film is regarded as one of the best sci-fi films ever made and I can agree with that. The strong sci-fi elements elevate what could have been a basic and by-the-numbers story. I didn't get into the movie till the half-way point but once I got interested in the story and the characters I was hooked, you become invested in Neo's story and you can see a change in his character even though it appears to happen on a dime.

While this isn't my favourite movie in the sci-fi genre I have to comment on what it did for the genre. Numerous movies have tried to replicate bullet time and that speaks volumes for this movies influence. It’s one of those films that everyone should watch at least once

I’m sure there are more themes in this movie that I didn't mention and I'm looking forward to rewatching it and discovering what those are.

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