The Matrix Revolutions (DVD, 2009, 2-Disc Set, Includes T4 Movie Pass) Reviews
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The Matrix Revolutions (DVD, 2009, 2-Disc Set, Includes T4 Movie Pass)

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Everything that has a beginning - has an end...

Nov 12, 2003 (Updated Nov 12, 2003)
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Incredible 'see it to believe it' CGI, amazing action sequences and a conclusion of sorts.

Cons:Stagnant dialogue, little character development and it raises far more questions than it answers.

The Bottom Line: The Wachowski bothers are entitled to show us their interpretation of how the story should conclude, but I’m also entitled to mine. And after Revolutions, I know which I prefer.

'It ends tonight' so we're told, repeatedly, as the apocalyptic final battle between the machines and the human inhabitants of Zion draws ever closer. This is it, this is the climax of the Matrix, the deciding moment in the most epic battle between humans and machines ever conceived and committed to celluloid. And where's our hero? Stuck on a train station somewhere in a netherworld between the Matrix and reality, that's where.

Picking up almost immediately from where the last film left off (so you might want to try and refresh your memory before you go to see it) the final chapter in the Matrix trilogy doesn't waste much time before we're plunged into action. And when I say action, you've not seen anything quite like this before. The attack of the machines on the sub-terrainian 'Zion' is so ferocious and the CGI so impressive that it feels like a visual and sensory assault which is almost nauseating in it's relentlessness.

The speed and scale of the onslaught of the machines is such that it soon becomes clear that it's just a question of time before Zion falls as the inhabitants prepare to make a 'last stand' within the walls of the temple.

And even the approach of the Nebuchadnezzar doesn't promise much relief, although it does give Niobe a chance to demonstrate her exceptional piloting skills, and provides occasional visual relief for the audience.

Meanwhile, as if things weren't already bad enough for the humans, Agent Smith has somehow acquired powers which make him all but omnipotent within the Matrix, and is threatening to take over everything, machines and all.

And so it falls (rather inevitably) to Neo, who has embarked on a 'suicide' mission with his beloved sidekick Trinity to the Machine City to negotiate with the machines in an act loaded with Messianic imagery and symbolism.

Around this plot we bump into a few familiar faces such as the all-knowing, cookie-baking Oracle (who has confusingly changed appearance due to the original actor's death), her stereotypically zenish bodyguard Seraph and the decadently French Merovingian. Along with the usual cardboard cut-out crew who inhabit the good ship 'Zion', and I probably wouldn't be giving the whole game away if I mentioned a last minute appearance from ambivalent and ominous architect.

The action itself is satisfying enough and the CGI is impressively good to suspend our disbelief (just how DO the sentinels fly through air?). The anticipation of the breach into Zion creates a fair level of tension and the appearance of Agent Smith outside of the confines of the Matrix adds an early twist which keeps the viewer guessing. This film has a much simpler structure than it's predecessor Reloaded, and there are far fewer philosophical ponderings and theoretic ramblings to slow up the action and generally confuse the audience. This does mean however that everything is invested into three main stories, and frustratingly the plot which carries the most consequence (Neo's journey to the Machine City) is given least attention, whilst the battle for Zion, impressive though it is, actually has no bearing on the final outcome, as the human's were never going to win. And for the majority of the final film, one of the most engaging and complex characters from the previous films, Morpheous, is stuck trying to co-pilot his way through a maintenance pipe, whilst the cretinous, one dimensional inhabitants of Zion get far more than their fair share of screen time. Some dramatic salvation is found in the epic closing battle between Smith and Neo (now that they've sorted out the CGI), which builds on every fight which has gone before and then ups the ante again.

This isn't a bad film, for a final chapter, but it's hard to know whether we're being more forgiving simply because it doesn't repeat many of the mistakes of Reloaded. For me it raised the question, should this have ever been a trilogy? And despite many enjoyable moments in the last battle, I walked away feeling as though it had only detracted from the power, imagination and inventiveness of the first film. The original film stands head and shoulders above it's sequels in more ways than I can list here, and might have left a timeless question mark with all it's millions of possible explanations and outcomes. It left scope and space for the viewers imagination to engage and interact, concluding the story in an infinity of unique ways. In Matrix Revolutions we no longer have that option.

With poor character development, an overemphasis on action (rather than interaction) and a 'conclusion' which seems not only to raise more questions than it answers, but also to unpick some of the fabric on which the previous ideas were built, this film was ultimately a disappointment. But that's said in view of the original, which simply shines better in the light of the sequels, and like all true classics, seems to improve with time. The Wachowski brothers seem to be the victim of their own success by making an original piece of cinema which is so unique that it's virtually impossible to improve on or develop without loosing the essence of what made it unique. Had the first film been mediocre, this last film may well have been sensational. Unfortunately it appears that the reverse is true.

Don't get me wrong, there are some very good ideas here, and although the dialogue sounds like it was written by the machines themselves, based on a rehashed history of cinematic clichés, there are some great moments, and it's certainly an entertaining ride. It's not a bad film per se. It's just a poor shadow of what it could/should have been. But, that all depends on how you read the previous two films, and it's not hard to see why some people might think that this is the best film since, well, the Matrix. And it's important to remember that if you're disappointed by the conclusion, it's only because the initial premise was so enthralling. Revolutions is worth going to see just to make you appreciate how good the original Matrix was.

And in some ways it seems as though this whole trilogy is a bit like a savings account, the more you invest into it, the more you get out of it. If you want to try to get inside the philosophical permutations and sub-textual meanings of the story, you can. And you'll probably be rewarded because there's more than one 'story within a story' to be found here. But for the rest of us (who don't have time to sit in front of our DVD players with the remote control in one hand and a Concise dictionary of Greek Mythology on the other hand) we have to take this offering at face value, and on that level it is an entertaining yet flawed conclusion to a highly imaginative trilogy.

Recommend this product? Yes

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