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Review of "Matrix Reloaded", 3 of 5 stars

Mike Shea
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When the Matrix first came out I was blown away. It easily hit my list
of best movies and second best science fiction movie next to Blade
Runner. It perfectly combined themes that were almost totally doomed
to fail, kung fu, gun fights, and science fiction. Its characters were
superheroes but by design. While Matrix Reloaded is a good sequel, it
does not break free of the original. It is the next part of the story,
not a story itself. The special effects are grand and the story isn't
bad but it isn't the complete shock to the system that the original

While the Matrix was simple but extreme, Matrix Reloaded is
complicated. There are about three or four scenes that seem to have
more words in them than in the entire first movie. Where the first
movie has a brilliant conversation between Neo and Morphius on their
first meeting with very few words, the second has what seems to be
line after line of dialog between our heroes and the Merovingian, a
rogue computer program who has something Neo needs. The conversation
makes a little more sense when you've seen the whole movie, but there
is still quite a few wasted words. The Persephone scenes are worthless
and after three viewings, they're embarrassing. It takes a little
while for the movie to fire up, but the scenes of Zion are excellent
science fiction all on their own.

Reloaded makes up for a lot of this with more of the excellent action
we loved in the original. Besides the battles between our heroes and
the Agents, we now have gangs of rogue forgotten computer programs to
battle. It makes for some excellent battles, the peak of them a huge
car chase that puts all Bruckheimer movies to shame. The fight scenes
are very well done, but I can tell when they're computer generated and
when they are not. In years to come it will be as obvious as the
bluescreening in Star Wars. Nothing makes up for live action and in
Reloaded, they use live action whenever they can. The kung fu is
stronger than it was in the original, the actors spent almost eight
months in martial arts training and it shows. The actors continued to
do all of the fighting insted of stand-ins. Some scenes, like the
fight between Neo and Seraph, seem to be kung fu for the sake of kung
fu, but even Neo makes fun of them; "you could have just asked".

The DVD release of Reloaded is excellent but lacks a much desired
director's commentary that the original Matrix had. It has an
excellent 2.35 to 1 16x9 enhanced picture, a powerful Dolby Digital
5.1 soundtrack that made my walls shake, and a second disc with no
fewer than six special features. It is a top notch DVD but desperately
needs a commentary track. Once again, I've sworn off DTS sound as an
unneeded format that complicates an already overly complicated field
and Matrix Reloaded shows there is no need for it.

This week I saw Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill in the theater and was
blown away by its originality and by an embrace of violence that so
many others shun as a human weakness. It is an original movie in a
world of "safe" Hollywood re-hashes and copies of plots done a
thousand times before. I like Matrix Reloaded, but what was once an
original film has turned into a series that attempts to best itself.
While Matrix Reloaded succeeds in being an excellent science fiction
action movie, it doesn't shake the world like the Matrix or Kill Bill

Mike Shea
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