Sunday, February 19, 2006

Whoa! I'm like in the Matrix...

After speaking with many people about this and then listening to the folks over at Dragonpage talk about it on the “Winging It” podcast I think I might be a little insane. You see I went to the movies a few years ago and sat through a rehash of every SciFi cliché I ever remember in a little movie called The Matrix. A man is caught in a computerized world that is not the reality he was led to believe. He then figures out that the machines took over the world and after a long battle managed to beat the humans into submission. Not only that, he is a chosen warrior who has exceptional powers not only within the machine created world called the Matrix but in the real world as well. Needless to say I was bored and not only because it stared one of my least favorite actors, Keanu Reeves. The guy who became famous playing one half of Bill and Ted is supposed to be a savior of the world? Can’t buy it. His acting in this film was on par with his usual stuff, his range falling somewhere between confused and disbelief and that is when he hits his stride.

I saw the movie and promptly filed it somewhere slightly ahead of Johnny Mnemonic. While watching, I couldn’t help but see the parallels to that earlier film. Perusing the IMDB boards I see that others agree. As well as Mnemonic, this movie borrowers heavily from one of my favorite dark genre movies in both style and story, Dark City, which while flawed was still enjoyable. Outside of that there is the heavy influence of Cyberpunk god, author, William Gibson.

Every movie and story is derivative. There is always some influence from something else. As they say, “There is nothing new under the sun.” For the most part you want your movies to feel familiar but not to the point of petty larceny. I felt like I was watching a crime and everyone was letting them get away with it because of a few neat special effects-kind of like the current administration.

I got over it but then heard there were sequels planned and I could not imagine how they were going to continue the story I loathed so much. When I saw the sequels I was floored. I actually liked them. Seriously, I did. Most people I know who like the series feel exactly the opposite. They like the first movie and think the other two are terrible. For whatever reason I enjoyed the sequels. Probably because they got into the landscape of the Matrix more and less in the “cheap trick” having Neo discover his part in the plan. I really thought the rest of the movies were more original than the first. I had seen the story of that first film a thousand different ways but the continuations took us deeper inside the workings of the machine world and the rebels who fought against them. One of the things I noticed while watching the Matrix sequels was that it’s the story I had been waiting to see on screen since watching the Terminator films. While I loved those movies (and even liked the third in the series) I always wanted to see the humans waging war against the machines.

That’s the thing I found most satisfying: the impending doom, the overwhelming odds against humanity, and the cold, calculating enemy. One particular person told me that he hated the ending. I know why. It was because Neo and Trinity died. Unfortunately that’s also why I liked the sequels. They did not hold back on the sacrifices that need to be made in such a conflict. I didn’t know how they were going to continue the story but I never thought they’d take the extra step and bring it all home. So while it still seems to me like a derivative story with a terrible actor (who, for some odd reason seems perfectly cast in this role), they did not let me down in the end.

I guess I just like those epic conflicts.



The Phoenix said...

Oh man, I came here by accident...I went to your old blog, as I wanted to go back to your one of your old posts. It was the one where you gave us all of your recommendations.

I got an ipod for Christmas, and podcasts are a new addiction. In fact, I'm working to enter the world of podcating very very soon.

I hope you stop by my blog, and you like some of the changes I've made. I still love making people laugh and learn at the same time, but I'm working to not rely so much on "the punchline."

It's great to have you back, my friend.

:P fuzzbox said...

I liked all three Matrix movies. But enjoyed the second in the series the best. It seemed to me the classic question of fate or choice.

Phoenix told me you were back. I am glad to see your work again. And as I am a Sci/Fi and Fantasy Nut, I can guarentee you will have to run me off to keep me from coming back.

May the force be with you, live long and prosper, and may the light of the Silmarils shine down upon you.

ObilonKenobi said...

Thanks for the comments guys. I am just starting up the site so I didn't tell you all about it yet but you found me anyway.

Phoenix - I also am starting a podcast with my friend. It will mirror this blog so I hope you will listen when we start. (A little ways off yet but it will be here.) Also, I am reading you blog, I just haven't had time to comment yet. Glad you are back.

My friend, Ben will be trading opinions with me on these subjects so I hope you return to read his posts.