The MatrixDirector(s): Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski
Writer(s): Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski
Category: Action / Sci-Fi
Runtime: 136 minutes
Country: USA
Language: English
Year: 1999
Tagline: The Fight for the Future Begins

Plot: In the near future, a computer hacker named Neo (Keanu Reeves) discovers that all life on Earth may be nothing more than an elaborate facade created by a malevolent cyber-intelligence, for the purpose of placating us while our life essence is “farmed” to fuel the Matrix’s campaign of domination in the “real” world. He joins like-minded Rebel warriors Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie Ann Moss) in their struggle to overthrow the Matrix.

Review: The movie that started it all. The Matrix came completely out of the blue. No one had ever heard of the directors, the Wachowski brothers. Their only other movie directorial effort was Bound, which no one ever saw. (Turns out, Bound was simply an audition to prove to the studios that they knew how to direct and could handle the project that was The Matrix). The actors were a mixed bag of good actors (Laurence Fishburne, Joe Pantoliano), bad actors (Keanu Reeves) and then unknown actors (Carrie-Ann Moss and Hugo Weaving). The previews gave nothing away. You were simply left with the question “What Is The Matrix?” and a few images of some very cool action. The only thing I knew at the time was that I HAD to go see the movie the night it was released.

Before I go any further, I need to make a confession. I am the target demographic for this movie. As such, my opinion of this movie is biased from the word go. I love video games, I like kung fu, I like science fiction, I like comic books, and I like technology. The one overwhelming mantra of The Matrix is that the Wachowski brothers use everything, pop culture, religion, video games, you name it and blend it all together to make something new. Since they used all the things that I like already, the movie was a wicked cocktail that hooked me from the instant I tasted it. I loved the story, the action, the cinematography, even the acting.

Fishburne and Joey Pants are great character actors and I tend to love their work regardless of the film their in. Keanu Reeves is a different story. Other than the Bill & Ted movies, Keanu’s acting hasn’t been all that good. Johnny Mnemonic was a bomb in no small part thanks to Keanu’s lack of skill as an actor. He’s stiff, doesn’t convey a lot of emotion and his delivery is stilted. His main redeeming quality is that he looks good. All his negatives became positives in the Wachowski’s hands. The character of Neo is one where you need someone stiff and emotionless, but looks good as he’s kicking butt. Keanu more than fits the bill. This was the role he was meant to play.

The story was good, but the storytelling was the hallmark for me. For many people the cinematography was all new to them. Some people had never seen camera angles like they found in the Matrix, but I had in comic books and in Japanese Animation aka anime. In comic books, the method of storytelling is done through still images. Although that may sound somewhat stilted, it can actually give some freedom because each frame and show you more detail, slow things down, or speed things up. If anything it gives you a wide latitude with perspective. Anime takes a similar approach because much of anime is done on such a small budget. For example, one trick that anime uses is to take a still image and have the “camera” move from left to right. This gives the impression of movement, but it’s really just a single still image. These tricks created an entire style that anime still uses today even though the budget may be bigger.

The Wachowski’s came from a comic book background, and one of the things that they were trying to do was bring some of the storytelling style from comic books and anime to the silver screen. Trinity’s jump, bullet time, and the fight between Neo and Agent Smith in the subway are all examples of 2d comic book and Japanese anime style that was realized in film. Motion pictures, comic books and animation are all simply mediums to tell a story. The Wachowski brothers blended the styles and blurred the lines between the mediums.

The techniques that the director’s used in the Matrix changed film as we know it. Hardly any action movie today doesn’t use kung fu wire work. Charlie’s Angels, The Rundown, and even Le Pacte des Loups all used the fighting style made popular in The Matrix. Star Wars may have been a landmark movie because it changed how science fiction was done, but The Matrix did that and more. The ripple effect of this movie has left it’s mark on so many filmakers that it’s hard to watch any action or science fiction film and not see touches of The Matrix in them.

In 1999 the Wachowski brothers released a landmark film that changed film, and to some extent our culture, forever. It came out of the blue and blew us all away. It would be four years before their story could continue, but it was all worth the wait.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars(5 out of 5 stars)
My IMDB Review: [link]

   » Part One – The Matrix
   » Part Two – The Animatrix
   » Part Three – Enter The Matrix (Part One)
   » Part Four – The Matrix Reloaded
   » Part Five – Enter The Matrix (Part Two)
   » Part Six – The Matrix Revolutions
   » Part Seven – Lagniappe