Musings on “The Matrix”

A long, long time ago, I had picked up all the “Matrix” movies used and intended to watch all of them, having had already watched the original once. I … never got around to it, and then eventually decided to put them away in my boxes because I was never going to watch them. Then, lately, after watching the Alien and Predator movies and having time to watch movies explicitly scheduled into my schedule (especially since rewatching movies that I wanted to watch fit into another part of my schedule leaving clear room for movies that I wanted to focus on and watch), I thought that it would be a good time to settle in and finally watch them. I started with “The Matrix”.

I slept through most of it.

This is not to say that that fact makes it a bad movie. I sleep through a lot of movies. Heck, I sleep through James Bond movies. But what it does mean is that you aren’t going to get any kind of in-depth analysis of it. You are going to get some discussion of why when I woke up at the end of the movie I was hoping that the movie would just end and will probably never actually watch it again ever.

But first, a philosophical point:

When I first watched the movie, one thing I noted was that philosophically Neo was a bit of an idiot, or at least Morpheus was. So, the set-up is that Neo can take the blue pill and stay in the fake reality, or take the red pill and wake-up in actual reality. So what we have is a case where Neo is living in something that is at least superficially indistinguishable from reality, but then he will ingest an artificial substance and … wake up in something that is at least superficially indistinguishable from reality. If Neo accepts that there can be experiences that look indistinguishable from reality but aren’t, then how can he be sure that when he wakes up that is actually “reality”? Especially since, as noted, he would be taking an artificial substance that, clearly, could impact his experiences of reality. What if the first reality was reality and the second one was a hallucination? How could he tell? How could anyone tell?

And, interestingly, the movie itself — by accident, I think — hints that the “reality” might not be reality at all. The movie establishes that if you die in the Matrix you die in reality. Neo dies in the Matrix and is shown to die in reality. They are at the point where they are not trying to resuscitate him and there is no indication that the pod is trying to do so. He’s dead. Then Trinity says that the Oracle said that she’d fall in love with the One so he can’t die, kisses him and … he revives.

Since the movie makes a big deal about being outside of Matrix meaning that you were in actual reality, it would desperately need to make things there uber-realistic. If it relies on cheap Hollywood drama, it would raise the question of whether this was reality or not. Neo being revived by a kiss is cheap Hollywood drama that doesn’t work if we are trying to be uber-realistic. So my reaction there was indeed that it was cheap to do that in reality and made no sense when so many other options were available.

Now, I obviously haven’t seen the other movies yet (I will probably have seen the second by the time this is posted), but I have obviously heard about how the other movies go. If this had been a set-up or used in later movies to cast doubt as to whether that reality was really reality, or if the movies had subverted it by showing that, in the end, that wasn’t reality either, then it would have worked. It could have even explained how the Oracle knew about that love part, as the conditions were set by the variables of the overarching simulation. But as far as I know, that’s not what they did, which left that scene as cheap, annoying drama.

I also found the fight scenes to be incredibly boring, which explains why I hated the ending which is pretty much wall-to-wall fight scenes. The first time I watched it, they didn’t bother me, but here they were really grating. I think the reason for this is that I’ve watched the MCU movies, which are going for the same over-the-top, supercharged fight scenes as “The Matrix”, but do it so much better. The fights are cleaner and are more personal. The combatants fight in accordance with standard fighting techniques but also in a way that reflects them and their character. The fights also have more important and better defined stakes, and again stakes that are far more personal. They are also stronger from an overall technical perspective.

It also doesn’t help that both Neo and the Agent act so totally bored throughout the scenes, which also doesn’t help me to consider the stakes meaningful or important.

Ultimately, while the first time I watch it I didn’t mind it, after watching it this time I cannot imagine watching “The Matrix” again. Since I believe the general consensus is that the next two movies are worse, this does not bode well for my watching them.

One Response to “Musings on “The Matrix””

  1. Quick Update and comments … | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] last week I talked about “The Matrix” and talked about how I was going to watch and comment on the entire trilogy. That … […]

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