Well, I finally saw Reloaded Sunday, and it definitely exceeded my admittedly low expectations.
I’d read a few less than glowing reviews, and was expecting a dumbed down action flick. Instead, I found the sequel to be exciting, and full of some ideas worth nibbling on. I’m aware that this flies in the face of the geek consensus�so be it ;).
Making a sequel to a successful movie is a difficult proposition. On one hand, you need to raise the intensity level in order to compete with the original. On the other, you have to ensure you don’t lose sight of the very qualities which your fans found appealing to begin with. Well, there was no great gazoo in reloaded, but they still managed to throw in a pretty cool plot twist.
In my opinion, a good deal of the appeal of the first movie was the exploitation of every geek’s hidden dream to be “the chosen one”, the “Jedi”, the “keeper of the ring”, the “Harry Potter”. Sure, I’m an unpopular dork in ninth grade, but one day someone is going to come along and reveal that I’m really cool. I think challenging Neo’s status as Matrix messiah was pretty ballsy. I honestly expected the second part of the trilogy to be nothing more than a demonstration of Ted’s rad new force powers. Instead they challenged the very specialness that made Neo so appealing the first time around.
Speaking of rad new powers, am I the only one who was stunned when he zapped those squids towards the end?
I can’t say I was as blown away by the CG as I was after watching the first movie. There were some good effects throughout, but the much anticipated “viral smith” fight scene left me subconsciously reaching for an S-controller.
Then there was the Zion Orgy�were those nipples or conduits? Do the citizens of Zion have something against footwear? Don’t even get me started on Larry’s hackneyed speech to the populace just before the orgy. Or the fact that there’s a ruling council staffed by a bunch of college philosophy professor types (and one actual professor) in hemp clothing. At least they had a somewhat accurate portrayal of computing instead of the usual drivel you see in movies. I’m still waiting for someone to show actual source code in a flick.
A lot of people have called the plot thin, and the theological/religious undercurrents under-developed. I can’t say they’re really wrong. It’s a Hollywood blockbuster starring Ted “Theodore” Logan, so a certain degree of shallowness is to be expected. Compare it to the average film tho, say the films whose trailers were shown before it, and the lack of depth disappears.
The bottom line is, complex layered theories and arguments are already making their way through geek mailing lists and forums. Considering what George Lucas has done to Star Wars, what more can we really ask for?
P.S. My personal favorite theory is the “matrix within the matrix”, but I’ll leave the job of detailing it to the reader’s Google skills.