X-Mas comes early to Singapore because the folks here don't know from Thanksgiving. So slap the tinsel up in the tropical sun after Deepavali or thereabouts. I bought my "Matrix Revolutions" ticket then wandered around shopping while anticipating my cinematic joy. Santa bought Zoë a stuffed Snufkin doll. Zoë likes Moomintroll characters already, Santa is proud to say. She can even recognize (and pronounce) fillyjonks and hattifatteners. I'm not sure when Piaget thought that would happen, but I think she's ahead of the curve.
But it seems to me the manufacturers of these toys show a dismaying narrowness of vision. (Though I must say Snufkin on a log with a pair of hattifatteners is thoughtful.) What the world needs now is a cooling Groke doll. Perhaps Belle will consent to sew one (hey, she knows how to use the sewing machine, not me): a skirted cone with two flappy hands, itty teeth, sad eyes. And a velcro-sealed opening at the back where you stuff in a big one of those sports injury cold-paks. You put your Groke at the bottom of the bed and it leaves a spot that's cold and clammy for hours. Kids love it. Good for sports injuries.
"Matrix Revolutions"? I really liked it. Really. Better than "Reloaded", which I really liked.
This apparently makes me uncool, because everyone else seems to think its lame and disappointing. I haven't read a rave review. Of course it goes without saying that neither "Reloaded" or "Revolutions" produces the wonder and delight that was all of ours when the first utterly defeated sensible expectations that it would be "Johnny Mnemonic II, the Forgetening". As the Architect ruefully observes: the first "Matrix" was too perfect. It couldn't be maintained. "Matrix Convolutions" might have been a fair title for part two. Neo and Trinity starting to seem more like Mulder and Scully in a season seven two-parter and you missed part one - I know, I know.
Know what? The corny dialogue and self-important tin-horn speechifying of these films just delight me. I understand other people are getting a bit tired of it. I accept that. But it's not a bug. It's a feature. Or else a really cool bug. I linked to this nice Two Blowhards piece on Stan Lee a week or so ago. One thing Friedrich writes that's quite true is that the best thing about Marvel comics in the sixties was the conjunction of totally manic art - especially Kirby, but Ditko does have his perverse partisans, I acknowledge - with the goofy, cornball Stan Lee dialogue running and jumping and skipping along on top. It's quite distinctive. You either love it or you think it's the stupidest thing on earth. Or both. And the brothers Wachowski have, I submit, really done something similar - not the same, similar. Their dialogue writing is totally unnatural. There is no reason why Morpheus shouldn't be able to use contractions, for example. (Someone ought to release "Matrix Elocutions" - just the over-enunciated speeches about freedom and necessity, appearance and reality.) But that's OK. When stuff this visually crazy is going on, you can't have people talking like normal people. You have to have the dialogue be as over the top as everything else. You know what wasn't really good enough about "X2" and "Anger Management"; I mean "Bruce Almighty"; I mean "Hulk"? Not enough interesting villians bouncing around in front of the camera, laughing and delivering corny speeches. That's what. Well, that's just my opinion. I think the dialogue is great fun. Complaining about the speeches is like complaining about people singing in opera. Lots of people don't like it, but it's not like opera is just plays that accidentally started belting it out to shatter glass.
And I understand that some people have advanced the point - which must simply be granted - that "Revolutions" consists largely of machines blowing up in ways that challenge the visual processing capacity of the average human movie-goer. That can be wearying. For what it's worth, the defense of Zion scenes do really take the visuals to a new level, as the highway chase/fight scenes in "Reloaded" did not. I've seen a lot of science-fiction movies. Before now I never knew what a couple hundred thousand flying metal squid fighting a couple thousand heavily armed steel apes in a concrete hemisphere about a quarter mile across while occasional giant drill bits fall from the ceiling like deadly stalactites (pause for breath) looked like. You actually see and understand what is going on in these scenes, in a broad sense. And it's such a crazy scenario that the fact that you can take it all in is good direction. I'm not saying it's realistic; obviously not. But there are lots of action movies less incessantly frenetic yet harder on the eyes because it's boring trying to track who is blowing up what - who is running around what corner which leads where - when you know the filmmakers didn't bother to think that far ahead themselves.
I'm not sure how much that is worth, artistically. Sensitive people can disagree about whether it was a thing worth doing. But they sure did it.
And I think the scene with the sweet Indian guy and his suspicious wife and daughter in the train station is sweet.
And I think Hugo Weaving is endless fun to watch, and the Smith fight scenes were fantastically coreographed. The Big Brawl in "Reloaded" looked a little plastic around the edges, and didn't really have the edge-of-your-seat edge that the fights in "Matrix" had. I think they got a bit of that back at the end of "Revolutions".
Last point. Everyone seems to be saying part three makes no sense, and nothing is explained. Excuse me. It does, and it is. At least I think I understand it. There is even a sort of sense and symmetry, and I know why Neo could stop the squid, and I know what's bugging Smith. I know what the Oracle did and planned. I think I know what her relationship to the Architect is. I'm not going to pretend that the movie is philosophically deeply or anything. But there are some thick philosophical hooks here. Admittedly, nothing hangs from them but a bunch of fight scenes - when you get down to it. It's not like Neo refutes Smith's philosophical system. But Smith is Schopenhauer and Neo is Nietzsche and Kant built the Matrix and the Oracle is Spinoza and the Merovingian is, um, a naturalist determinist; the Architect is Plato. And Zion is a nice metaphor for a certain stoical model of the nature of human freedom. (Read that section in Isaiah Berlin's "Two Concepts of Liberty": 'the retreat into the inner citadel'.) Neo's abilities in the Matrix emblematize a competing conception. And there's the Eternal Recurrence. The third movie is appropriately titled "Revolutions". New order and everything happens over and over; you have to decide how you feel about that. And it all fits together less badly than you'd think, given the sheer volume of calimari you watch get fried. Practically the only person in the last two films who's not obviously playing philosopher is Cornell West.
And like I said: it isn't that you come out of the movie finally understanding Plato and all his footnotes for the first time ever. But the absurd heft of all this is sort of fun, like the dialogue.
I do wonder why the brothers did not do more with Persephone. Thought I knew where they were going with that. Guess she got squeezed out. Too bad. There weren't good roles for the ladies in part three, I admit. Trinity sort of trudged through out of a sense of duty. OK, that's true. The love story didn't work, obviously, or I would have noticed the leading lady.
So there. I said it. Pretty good movie. I'm satisfied. Tell me I'm a moron and a philistine and that really I ought to have hated it.
UPDATE: If you really have to have the philosophy explained to you, here's your go-to guy. Like he says "All we easily reveal itself. It is meant to." But do read slowly, as directed, despite the ease of revealing. He is also a licensed hypotherapist