&#91MOVIE REVIEW&#93Get a Reload of this, ‘Matrix’ back for more

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&#91MOVIE REVIEW&#93Get a Reload of this, ‘Matrix’ back for more

For months now, we’ve been bombarded by reports in print and on television about the coming “Matrix” sequels, and how they were going to “raise the bar.”
Well, when it comes to special effects, “Matrix Reloaded” certainly raises the bar to never-before-seen heights.
Unfortunately, when it comes to storyline, it not only lowers the bar, but triple-faults its jump attempts.
Not that the original had a great or original story. It was the old, uber-geek salvation story ― no, you’re not a random dweeb, unappreciated drone, peasant, carpenter from Galilee or whatever; in fact, you are “the one,” with fantastic powers, sent to save the world. Nor was its idea of a computerized world-within-a-world new.
What was great about “The Matrix,” however, was its style ― the stunts, the guns, the clothes and, most spectacular, the high-speed photography that slowed the action down almost to a freeze-frame. Years later, many of its stunts are still stunning (not to mention highly imitated and parodied).
“Matrix Reloaded” turns that style up to 11.
To recap the first story: Neo (Keanu Reeves) discovers that the world we all live in is actually a computer program, and that nearly all of humanity has been enslaved by the machines.
Neo is “the one,” with the ability to transcend the Matrix and beat the machines.
“Matrix Reloaded” picks up with Neo plagued by dreams of the death of his girlfriend Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss). The machines have discovered the location of Zion, the last outpost of free humans left in the world, and are determined to destroy it.
Neo, Trinity and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) travel back into the Matrix on a quasi-religious quest to fulfill a prophecy that will allow them to overcome the machines and save the human race.
In the first hour, the film nearly falls apart. Wooden dialogue and self-consciously serious overacting are as bad as recent “Star Wars” sequels, while the underground Zion looks like something out of “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (they have the ability to make spaceships, but not a washing machine?). The action has a more-of-the-same quality. Then some sort of rave-orgy breaks out that is just silly.
Eventually, however, the movie finds its rhythm. The action in the second hour truly causes eyes to pop and jaws to drop. The highway chase has some of the most spectacular effects ever put on film. And the introduction of some new characters adds depth and intrigue, especially the Merovingian, a corrupt, Neo-like character.
Most important, by the end, the film has effectively critiqued its biggest weakness, its savior storyline, and moved the story in a whole new direction. Fortunately, we have to wait only until November for “Matrix Revolutions” to wrap it all up.

by Mark Russell
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