Volume 15, Issue 2: Ex Imagibus
Two Annoying Films
The Matrix: Reloaded
Warner Bros. 2003
Directed by: Larry and Andy Wachowski
In which the Wachowski brothers reveal themselves as
the dirty comic book writers they are. Or, in which Neo
gains handblast power and reaches level fourteen.
I'm told "The Matrix makes you smarter."
Jada-Pinkett, otherwise known as Mrs. Will Smith, who plays a red
leather wearing captain in Reloaded, tells us that the new movie is
so deep, it's like "edu-tainment." That's deep.
The first film did spiffy work at the box office
and around the world, and earned the Wachowski brothers
the prefix "revolutionary film-makers." And, while it is
riddled with tight leather and camp, the first movie
is a lot of fun. The second film, while still loaded with leather, is not any fun
at all. Dare I say it? It's dumb. And its spectacular dumbness
is primarily produced by its self-conscious reveling in its depth.
"I am French post modernism," the
Matrix says. "I am Plato's cave, I am biblical prophecy and a South Beach rave
all rolled up into one."
Neo, our main squeeze, chosen one and messiah to
the underground city of (Hell?) Zion and the last remnant
of humanity, has already experienced death and resurrection.
He did that in the last movie in his black pants and shirt. In
this movie I don't know that we see him wearing anything
other than a Jesuit robe when he's in the Matrix (which is
controlled by his residual self-image). But this comic book messiah
looks best in his fornicate during the rave/orgy/worship service in
the pit of Zion scene, wearing nothing but his various plugs.
If asked what the plot was, I honestly couldn't tell you.
I would start using phrases like thematic
disillusionment because there is nothing better to say. Or I could try this:
The Matrix Reloaded: a gritty sci-fi sequel in which you find out
that even more things than you first suspected are actually
One review tells us, "Forget Kung Fu: Summer's
hottest flick is all about Greek Lit and Jesus." Nobody is denying
that the brothers (as they are now called) swiped all sorts
of biblical imagery for their computer game. But they also
swiped all sorts of other things. And they didn't swipe any of it
well. The movie is a patchwork quilt, made up of all sorts
of contradictory elements. It really does attempt
French postmodernism. It really does try on Plato's cave. It also
really does have a city named Zion that looks to be run by
the Unitarian Universalists, and also a character named Trinity
for our hero to sleep with. It also has the Greek god of
dreams, Persephone (the kidnapped queen of the underworld), a
named Nebuchanezzar, and all sorts of others. But the
total effect is not one of depth or intellect, but of
wandering schizophrenia and hack allusions.
You see Morpheus is the god of dreams, and his ship
is the Nebuchanezzar, and Nebuchanezzar had a dream in
the Bible prophecying the destruction of Babylon which
Daniel interprets. And in the movie Morpheus is concerned about
the destruction of Zion. So is Zion Babylon? They act
similarly. Or is the Matrix Babylon?
Who cares? The Matrix: Reloaded borrows from too
many sources without apparently understanding any of them. It
does not achieve depth, simply noise. And dirty, smudgey noise
at that. Which I guess could be called
polytheistic postmodernism, if the film merits an actual position.
When Keanu was asked what the meaning of
The Matrix was, he blathered for a while and ended by saying that
neither he, nor anyone else could actually bring you to a
"finite position." He did say that the film is awfully deep
and thought-provoking through usage of phrases like "your
faith" and things like that.
Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie
Big Ideas, 2003
Directed by: I don't care
The only movie more pagan than The Matrix:
Reloaded that I have seen recently was Jonah: A Veggie Tales
Movie. Where Matrix merely blasphemes through false and twisted allusion,
Jonah claims friendship to the faith, and then spits on the Ark of
the Covenant for laughs. While I'm sure they're out there, I
can't think of a movie more disrespectful toward Scripture since
Life of Brian from Monty Python.