For a long time now, Little Satis and I (little … he’s nearly thirteen!) have had a tradition of watching a movie on Friday or Saturday night, something we like to call Movie Night. There was a time when I would write up reviews of what we watched, and I’d like to start doing this again. However, I need some help. After years of superhero and action/adventure movies, I’m looking to expand his horizons by introducing him to some other varieties—classics, thrillers, horror, etc. I’ve come up with a few categories that I’d like to expose him to: I’ll list these below with some example films from each. If you feel so inclined, I would love to know what film recommendations you have for a thirteen-year-old to watch with his dad.
Director: Peyton Reed
Production Company: Marvel Studios
I remember when Marvel was a comic book company, creators of sometimes-cheesy print heroes like Spiderman, Iron Man, and the Incredible Hulk. Now they are multi-billion dollar entertainment company, with enough bank revenue for Stan Lee to retire on a private Caribbean island (probably), largely thanks to the insanely popular Marvel Cinematic Universe, kickstarted back in 2008 with Robert Downey Jr.’s inimitable turn as Iron Man.
Superheroes have never been more popular. According to Wikipedia, the first true ‘superhero’ movie was The Mark of Zorro, back in 1920. I would argue that Zorro isn’t quite superhero material, but Batman is, and made his first big screen debut played by Adam West in 1966 (based on the still-amazing TV series). However, I would argue that the true age of comic book superhero movies started in 1978, with Richard Donner‘s Superman. To this day, there is something profoundly memorable about Christopher Reeve‘s portrayal as the Man of Steel, and Donner truly captured the essence of the comics.
What Marvel have managed to do … since Iron Man … is nothing short of astounding.
In this regard, DC Comics truly reigned supreme for the first decade and a half, with 1989’s Batman introducing us to the darker side of comics (one could hardly argue there is much darkness in Adam West), despite the sequels becoming increasingly cringeworthy. Superman and Batman, already the bread and butter of the comic book world, triumphed in the cinematic universe, and Marvel remained sidelined as a second-rate imitator (the same year as Tim Burton‘s Batman, Marvel’s The Punisher was released direct to video).
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.