Almost Super: The Matrix
Almost Super: The Matrix 1999
This was a bit of a tough decision on whether or not to tag this movie with my “Almost Super” tag. This is very much like a superhero origin story, Neo has superhuman abilities, even an alter ego, and the visuals are very influenced by comic books in some places. But in the end, the philosophical elements and especially the sci-fi setting to it put this in the realm of a not-quite superhero. I saw this in theaters when it first came out, as well as the two sequels which I don’t think are as bad as everyone makes them out to seem, even though I won’t be continuing on to watch them just now. The movie was one of the biggest surprises to come out that year, it had a great marketing campaign with the question “What is the Matrix?” and it’s pretty much a cultural milestone, noted by the hundreds of bullet time Trinity jump kick parodies over the years. But even with the parodies doing their best to tarnish several of the scenes, the movie still holds up as one of the best movies out there.
Taken strictly as an origin story, it’s actually a fairly interesting one. Neo is the reluctant hero spending most of the movie just learning about what the Matrix actually is, while everyone around him keeps telling him that he’s the savior of the world, and it’s not until he believes he isn’t that he begins to become the hero he’s destined to be. Not only that, but he’s recruited by a group of people that already essentially have superpowers, at least while inside the Matrix. And the movie ends at the perfect moment, after he finally comes into his potential and shows the programs what he’s made of.
The visuals of this movie were something like a cross between an action movie, a comic book, and an anime. There were several different unique angles and perspectives that would make for great comic book panels, but the best thing that this movie has going for it, and still holds up the most are the amazing fight sequences. From the opening scene with Trinity to the fight between Neo and Morpheus, all the way to the subway fight between Neo and Agent Smith. It was made when wirework in action scenes wasn’t all that common in typical Hollywood movies and it still has a quality that is unlike almost anything else out there, though you can see how it’s been an influence in other filmmakers such as Zack Snyder.
There are a couple things that don’t hold up quite as well watching this movie now as opposed to when it came out. While the machines tout that the Matrix is intended to be at the height of human civilization before they relied too heavily on machines. On second thought, maybe they did pick the perfect time period, have you ever seen how someone reacts when they lose/break their smartphone? I also think that it’s rather unbelievable that the machines can’t figure out simple magnetic shielding to protect themselves against EMPs. But aside from those minor issues the movie totally holds up almost 15 years later.
Aside from just being a generic sci-fi action movie, there are a lot of interesting elements thrown in throughout the movie. Even though I have to admit that Alice in Wonderland is one of the easiest and most popular references to use, it’s still one of my favorites and I enjoy hearing about the White Rabbit and the looking glass references. There’s also the familiar Christian references of Neo being the savior of the world, betrayed by one of his friends, and resurrected.
The characters are all very interesting in their own right, from the leader and believer till the end Morpheus, to the amazing scene stealing Oracle. In a movie like this, the last type of person you would expect to see as someone revered by the other badass characters is a kindly, black, grandmotherly chain smoker baking cookies. The questions the movie asks about what is real, what is a dream, and what the difference is may be rather shallow, but it’s taken so seriously that it’s hard not to get caught up in the philosophy of it. At least while inbetween scenes of kung fu and guns. It’s still a classic sci-fi movie and one of my favorites. Not only that, but it scan still be thought of as a great movie even though the two sequels are looked at as so inferior and yet so connected to the first that it’s hard to separate them. But as its own movie, it’s one of my favorites. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.