Back Shelf Beauties
by Willie Waffle

The Matrix: Reloaded

This is the crown jewel of the summer movie season and it shines like a diamond. The first film was a surprise hit that overshadowed the other big release in 1999, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, so expectations are running high for the two sequels (the final movie will be released this November). In alot of ways, The Matrix was the little movie that could, and it DID. With no buzz, it became a huge hit with a cult of fans. The Matrix: Reloaded lives up to fan expectations, and might win over a few new fans as well. I do not think any other movie will top it this summer.

(If you know all about the first movie, move to the next paragraph. If you need refresher course or didn't see the first, you better learn this stuff so The Matrix: Reloaded makes more sense) As we learned in The Matrix, humans created artificial intelligence machines that eventually took over the world in a massive war. After defeating the humans, machines enslaved them by harnessing their energy while creating a fantasy world in their minds where humans think they are still in charge (that's the matrix for those who don't know - a big computer program and virtual reality). Little do humans know that they are simply living in small pods with wires attached to them. A group of humans have discovered the truth, broken away, and started their own society, Zion, near the earth's core, and try to free more humans every day. Neo (Keanu Reeves) was rescued by Morpheus (Lawrence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie Ann Moss), because they believe that Neo is the chosen one who will save all humans.

In The Matrix: Reloaded, it's about 6 months after the first film. The force is growing strong in Neo (oops, wrong movie). I mean, Neo's powers and abilities are growing, more humans are being rescued from the matrix than ever before, but trouble is brewing. The machines are drawing closer to Zion, which could result in the total domination of humans. All humans are being called back to Zion, but Morpheus believes that The Oracle, a mystical all-knowing being, will be delivering a special message for Neo that will fulfill the prophecy and set the final battle in motion between machines and humans, one that could lead to Neo defeating the machines once and for all.

Is the prophecy coming true? What is Neo's destiny? Will everyone be able to survive?

The Matrix: Reloaded is better than the first on many levels. First, and foremost, the special effects are better than ever. Remember, the original film set a new standard that revolutionized action and sci fi movies. Reloaded builds on that by making everything bigger and better. The fight scenes are more intricate and acrobatic, while the chase scenes are faster and more complex. I truly believe two scenes in this film qualify for legendary status, and that's an amazing feat. If you like action, this movie is going to rock your world. The Wachowski Brothers, writers and directors of The Matrix series, not only stepped it up visually, but mentally as well.

I also believe that the world of The Matrix has become more interesting. The first film had a very simple idea of good vs. evil, while Reloaded challenges that by giving us new characters with different motives. We learn that the matrix is full of rogues, phantoms, and other programs that are running wild. We also learn that Zion has dissent and a strong difference of opinions between Morpheus and other leaders of the rebel forces. This complexity makes the film even more intellectually stimulating, especially the diverse allusions to religious scripture, philosophy and even pop culture comics.

The Matrix is not a film series that requires great acting, but some of the actors do deserve praise. I enjoy Hugo Weaving's performance as Agent Smith. It could have been easy to be one-dimensional, but Weaving adds a delicious evilness to the character that makes him interesting, rather than a computer program with a sole purpose of destruction. I also like Lawrence Fishburne as the strong, forceful leader. He adds credibility and coolness to a character that could become a religious zealot if not handled correctly. Finally, look for a great appearance by Lambert Wilson as a key person in the story who provides great comic relief and participates in a crucial plot twist when needed.

So, you're probably wondering how it ends. I won't tell you what happens, but I think it will cause major debates as to its meaning. In other words, it will make you eager to see the next film in November.

Grade: A

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