Monday, June 25, 2007

What is The Matrix?

Do you remember the first time you saw The Matrix? I remember seeing the first previews for it during the Super Bowl and how flat out amazing it looked as Neo dodged bullets at super speed. I remember having no idea what the movie was about, but suddenly wanting desperately to see it.

And, I remember going to see it. It was amazing. The first ten minutes, following Trinity as she is being chased by agents is just, still, one of the best action sequences I've seen. Sure, there's no explosions, or a real gun fight, but it's tense and suspenseful and, well, it's what action should be.

As she jumps from building to building, and the agents follow, you start to get a glimpse of what you're in for. She escapes the agents, to find a phone (which we learn is how they get in and out), and what's waiting for her? An agent. In a big truck. About to run down the phone booth.

Think what you will of Reloaded and Revolutions, it's hard to deny how much fun, and how interesting The Matrix was and still is.

How do you think the world would have reacted to Episode I had they not seen The Matrix only two months earlier? The Matrix changed the way we looked at it. Star Wars: Episode 1 was a special effects extravaganza, but suddenly, it was like it had been done before. The Matrix was special effects, sure, but there was this great story about Neo. Was he the chosen one? Was Morpheus right? And then two months later, there was Anakin. Was he the chosen one? Was Qui-Gon right? (Of course, in this comparison, it means that Obi Wan and Trinity fill the same role. Which isn't unreasonable, in Episode 3 he does admit his love for Anakin, "You were my brother, Anakin. I loved you." Jar Jar however, has no counterpart. He's kind of...special.)

The Matrix changed things. Think about how computers were treated prior to it. Johnny Mnemonic, The Net, Hackers. Hollywood had no concept of how people were using the internet or computers at that time. And, while a few things were...well, unlikely, there was nothing horribly out side the realm of plausibility. Well, ok, a few things, but not like had been done in the past. (sorry, there's nothing I've ever seen on a MiniDisc that was worth two grand)

I have one more comparison to make. One of the things that made Star Wars interesting was the philosophical questions that it raised, even if a lot of it was standard good vs evil kind of stuff. The Matrix went a bit further in it's questions. What is the matrix? How can you know what is real? I don't think that these are questions that mainstream movie audiences are asked very often. At the very least, not often enough.

I think it's neat, now, to be able to look back on the last 8 years since The Matrix was released to see the impact it had. Look at the camera work in the climax of I, Robot, or any of the stunts in Underworld (or, the look of Underworld for that matter). Did anyone really think it would be that influential back in spring of 1999? I sure didn't,