Trying to avoid spoilers….

I’ll start out with something nice. There were some great scenes and powerful moments that I’m sure would have blown my mind in IMAX.

Now that that’s out of the way:

It wasn’t as good as the first one. WAY wasn’t as good as the first one. Still worth my money and everything, but I have to say that I was counting on Revolutions to bail out the obfuscation and loose-threads of Reloaded and, well, that’s not exactly how it worked out. Plot took a huge backseat to watching things explode, and as for the philosophical/intellectual layers that were laid in Matrix and expanded/pretentiously-spewed in Reloaded… they pretty much disappeared with the original Oracle. The audience shouldn’t be responsible for creating elaborate rationalizations to explain the otherwise inexplicable, and it would have been nice if the hour we spent in Zion involved characters we actually care about.

A friend of mine had an interesting insight re: Reloaded/Revolutions: Reloaded was substance, Revolutions was style. I think that’s pretty accurate, although I’d make sure to point out that neither was particularly effective or successful. There was a ton of content in Reloaded (endless run-on monologues that made little sense at the time, e.g. the Architect’s machine gun ergoing) but nothing tied together; There was so much freaking style in Revolutions (religious allusions all over, new visual motifs and overwrought romance) but no real material. Symbols everywhere, but nothing to attach them to. What a cool single movie they could have made, with a little bit of integration, but instead we got two movies that were letdowns in very different ways.

Oh. And once you can fly and are nigh-invincible, fight choreography gets a little silly.

At least we know how it ends, sort of. Maybe. Until the prequel. Or video game. Or graphic novel (that seems like the only media they haven’t tried to work in yet, I think, but I might be forgetting something).

The biggest problem is simply that there’s no real way to follow a genre-defying, once-in-a-generation, shocker masterwork like The Matrix. Part of this is just story-telling: in the first film, we were told that if Neo were truly The One, he could basically do anything he wanted to within the Matrix, and the exciting part was following his path from clueless battery geek to super-cool kung fu master omnipotent being. That was all great, but once you are all-powerful the story loses an element of suspense, a feeling of “what’s going to happen next?” that seems essential to the popularity of the first film. So the sequels were doomed to be disappointments, to a degree, from square one. That said, I think they could have and should have been much better than they were. I was thrilled when I first heard they were being made, but knowing how they turned out I can’t help but wish the story had concluded triumphantly, with flying Keanu and Rage Against the Machines, and not a sequel in sight.