The Matrix, 3/31/17, 4.5 Stars.
What you have now is a choice: a choice to either continue reading this review or to just scroll past it like it’s nothing. If you choose to scroll through, then you will go about your day never knowing what I thought of The Matrix, but if you choose to read on, your reality will forever change. We begin with a cool computer code opening that shows us the framework of the Matrix, then we see a police raid overtaken by Special Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving). Their mission: arrest Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), who escapes. Next, we’re introduced to our main character John Anderson/Neo (Keanu Reeves), a seemingly ordinary computer programmer who sells hacking technology to some low lifes. It is at some cyberpunk club that he meets Trinity, who tells him about Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), and the next day at work, he gets a call from Morpheus, instructing him to get out through a series of directions that work up until he refuses to jump from the building, resulting in his capture by Agent Smith. After a brief interrogation, they plant a tracker in him in a visually fascinating warping of his body that alerts viewers to the non-reality John/Neo is living in. He wakes up, gets another call from Morpheus, and is picked up by Trinity. After she gets the bug off him, he meets Morpheus in person and gets a choice between the red and blue pills, one that reveals the truth or one that lets him live in ignorant bliss. Long story short, Neo learns the truth of his existence: it’s fake reality, very fake reality. He’s really wired into a computer program in a vast stack of human biological-VR pods run by machines that eventually flush him out (literally) and is eventually rescued by real-life Morpheus and Trinity. What follows is a semester’s worth of philosophical reality talk wrapped in a high concept sci-fi movie, wrapped in a mind-bending story that is relevant today with the emergence of Virtual Reality. It’s actually not that hard to follow because you always know where you are: if you’re in the Matrix, the lighting has a greenish tone to it, while if you’re in the main cast’s real world, I would have to say the lighting has a more blueish tone to it. The plot doesn’t waste too much time establishing what is going on and we get the revelation of “this is reality” within the first half-hour, followed by two hours of Neo learning the system so he can be “the one,” and you know what’s going on from when the movie boots up to when it’s powered down (until the sequel), and is easy to follow as long as you remember “Green lighting = Matrix,” and “Blue lighting = reality.” Neo is a pretty relatable guy, reacting the way any of us would react if we suddenly woke up in our fetal pod and realized the lives we’d lived had been a false reality, but none of these characters are really developed enough to make us care for them. I really did not get to know Neo enough to care about his origin as “the one,” and I certainly didn’t care much for Morpheus and his crew, though I will say they were pretty cool. Again, they just weren’t layered enough, and this is where the Wachowski bros corrupted the code of this movie (pardon my computer puns, but 01001001 00100000 01100011 01100001 01101110 11100010 10000000 10011001 01110100 00100000 01110010 01100101 01110011 01101001 01110011 01110100 00001101 00001010 doing so). However, what they did flawlessly were the effects, which I feel hold up well enough. Whether it’s the storage unit of humanity, the advanced technology, the Matrix fights, or the stylish computer code opening credits, the effects look believable for the situation and help establish the virtual world and post-apocalyptic future. It all adds up, and everything is there for a reason. As for the soundtrack, Don Davis conveyed the appropriate emotions and stayed in tune with the high-tech, high-concept sci-fi aspects of the story and visuals. It was also omitted in scenes like Smith interrogating Neo, up until the bug implant sequence. There is also plenty of humor to be found. Not much, just a few funny things happen, but that’s it. And there is some salty language, but nothing over-the-top. This movie is the one. The one you want to watch next if you have not seen it already. So now, another choice confronts you: watch The Matrix and discover the truth of what I say, or don’t watch it, and continue to live in ignorance of this poignant late-90s sci-fi film whose relevance is strong in today’s world of Virtual Reality. Once you see it for yourself, it cannot be unseen, so choose carefully.