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Volume 15, Issue 2: Ex Imagibus

Two Annoying Films

Nathan Wilson

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 computer generated.
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 ship
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.

A faggoty asparagus as Jonah dances around singing "messages from the Lord." The first consists of "Don't eat pigs, don't eat bats. . . do not fight, do not cheat, wash your hands before you eat. Don't do drugs, stay in school, follow them and you're no fool, a message from the Lord."
It's very strange to see a film like this, made by Christians to teach nice little Christian lessons. Vegetables hopping around, rebuking Ninevites for slapping each other with fishes, the big lesson at the end being "stop being mean to each other and give everyone a second chance." They think this is Christianity? Had John Cleese made this movie with his old friends, Falwell would have called for a boycott. Show your young kids something honestly filthy like The Matrix: Reloaded or South Park, before you'd ever let them see this. Dealing with the nightmares and confused looks would be much easier than scraping off smiling evangelical goop.

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