Just forget the words and sing along

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Matrix Reflections

There. It is done. I watched the entire Matrix Trilogy in one marathon screening. I love watching movies that I haven't watched in a while. It tends to bring back memories of when I first watched the film...memories of a different time and a different place.

When I first saw The Matrix, it was April of 1999. My final semester of Augustana was coming to a close. In fact, I'm farily certain it was during that study break that happens shortly before final exams. Several of my fellow geeks had seen it when it first came out a few weeks before, and I'll admit, I really didn't want to see it. I hadn't been following its development online. the only thing I knew was the comic book controversy.

See, for those who aren't up on their pop culture history, on the opening weekend of The Matrix, people were to get a free Matrix comic book showing more stories from within the universe. But, at the last minute, the promotion was cancelled, all because some artist drew a billboard with the world "vagina" on it in one of the panels. The comic has long been released, so feel free to seek it out.

But back to our story. From the commercials, it was looking like just another lame action film. But, when the alpha geek in our group was getting a group together to go see it again, she talked me into coming along.

And, needless to say, my mind was appropriatly blown.

Back in those days, the Wachowskis were still inclined to do promotional interviews, and they dropped a few hints about a sequel. Viruses in the Matrix? Anomalies? Applying bullet time to car chases? The mind boggled. The Wachowskis also admitted that lots of anime influenced The Matrix, and they toyed with the idea of doing an anime prequel, showing how the war against the machines started...an idea that became The Animatrix.

And thus began my quest to get my best friend to see it. 1999 was a big summer for him...it was his first summer living with his girlfriend out in Vancouver. So, I sent him e-mail after e-mail urging him to see it. Finally, he relented, an in about August or so, he saw it in the dollar theatre. His mind wasn't blown...instead it was just a simple, "Yeah, it was OK."

So, you can imagine my shock four years later, when he dove head-first into they hype for The Matrix Reloaded and began devouring everything Matrix-related with a voracity I'd never seen him tackle anything with. When Reloaded came out, we were in Japan. Him up north, me near the centre. We were working for the same English school. The company was throwing money at him to stay. The company couldn't get rid of me fast enough. On the night before The Matrix Reloaded came out, he was scouring the Sapporo subway system for posters to steal. I was packing up to go home. He saw it opening day and promptly declared The Matrix Reloaded to be THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE.

I saw it about a week later, as I was doing my backpacking across Japan thing and was stopping over in Nagano. There was a theatre just around the corner from the ryokan I was staying at. And Reloaded was playing. That was definitly the second-coolest theatre I was at in Japan. It was essentially Camrose's Bailey Theatre...only in Japan. I sat up front and centre. As the end credits rolled, I text messaged my best friend to say, "Yeah, it was OK."

He came *this* close to ending our friendship. Because he though The Matrix Reloaded was THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE, and I thought it was merely OK. I'm still not sure what happened to him between 1999 and 2003 to turn him into such a voracious Matrix fan. But I'm sure he'll read this and tell me.

Flash forward six months. November 2003. The Matrix Revolutions. My first semester at NAIT was coming to a close, and I was seriously considering walking away from the whole RTA program. There I was, 26 years old. Several of my friends were saying, "Wow, I can't believe going back to school at YOUR age." Every day, I was in a class surrouned by 17 and 18 year olds fresh out of high school. For the first time in my life, I was feeling...old.

It was Revolutions' second day in theatres...a Saturday. I hopped in the car and drove into Edmonton to see it. The theatre was packed. I was really digging it...a lot more than Reloaded. And then...IT happened.

My favourite scene in the entire Matrix trilogy. Neo and Trinity, in their hovercraft, outrunning the Sentinels, and they finally go up...up...up beyond the clouds. They break through the clouds and...for the first time, Trinity sees the sky. The sun. White, fluffy clouds. The look on Trinity's face...it's as though she sees the face of God. And she utters that one word..."beautiful."

That scene inspired me.... Trinity kept me going.

And that's my life as seen through The Matrix Trilogy. Some random observations:

- The first one is still one darn fine movie.

- One thing my best friend and I did agree on about Reloaded: some of those highly touted special effects are way too CGI. Look at the now infamous Burley Brawl. In some parts, it looks like a freakin' video game cut scene.

- I sure hope Bryan Singer took some inspiration from it for Superman's flying scenes in Superman Returns. Think about it...that scene at the end of Reloaded where Neo is flying faster than he's ever flown before to save Trinity who's plummeting to her death. Replace Neo with Superman and Trinity with Lois Lane, and that's exactly the kind of spectacle I want in a Superman film.

- "Beautiful"

- Agent Smith's final rant during the final battle with Neo...that's your over-the-top cartoon supervillany. I love it.

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