Production Company: Warner Bros.
The Matrix is one of those movies I’ve been waiting my whole life to share with Little Satis—waiting for him to be old enough to appreciate not only the spectacular special effects but the intensely mind-bending plot. It’s almost shame the Wachowskis decided to push what could have been a PG-13 rating to an R, just for violence, and I took a risk and let an eleven-year-old watch it.
(Full disclosure: Mrs. Satis actually let him watch it, without me—something I am rather ungrateful for. I had to watch it again with him.)
I’m glad I did, because it blew his mind.
Like Star Wars, or The Sixth Sense, it’s easy to forget how ingrained into popular culture The Matrix has become in the fifteen years since it was released. In 1999, the closest thing to it was 1982s Tron, and watching the original trailer, it’s easy to imagine that The Matrix was simply an updated version of that alternate-reality extravaganza:
There’s nothing in the trailer to reveal the mind-bending twist of The Matrix—a twist the sequels forgot all too soon. (See my post on trailers ruining movies.) In the slim chance that someone reading this post hasn’t yet seen it, I won’t give it away—like The Sixth Sense, you don’t talk about it—but the big reveal, with the red and blue pills, had Little Satis on the edge of his seat. His jaw dropped when he saw what came after.
The Matrix set the style for a lot of films to come, including the use of slow-motion (and pseudo-slow motion), CGI and deft camera work. The scene where Trinity jumps into the air, the shot freezes and the camera pans around to the other side, has become iconic.
In fifteen years, the effects are starting to show, of course—the wirework is telling, and the CGI is a little flat in places, but like the best envelope-defining films they were careful with their effects: as much is practical as computer-generated (something the sequels again forgot). The final fight scene between Neo and the agents is as epic as ever, and Neo’s Superman impression at the end leaves me with a grin to this day.
The Matrix earns its heavy philosophizing, with a plot that is as convoluted as its action sequences. Reloaded and Revolutions tried to go even deeper, but the cat was out of the bag at that point: we knew what the Matrix was, and there really were no surprises left (the ending of Reloaded feels very second-best). This is one of those films that probably didn’t need a sequel at all, and although I will watch the sequels with Little Satis, I probably won’t write them up on here.
If you haven’t seen The Matrix, you need to go watch it now. If you have … go watch it again. You won’t regret it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Featured image taken from http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/matrix.