Welcome to Simulated Reality Week: Day 1. This week is all about deception worlds where people believe that their world is real…when in fact it isn’t. The first film or film franchise that comes to mind with this theme is undoubtedly The Matrix. Funny enough, I’ve seen it so many times and never once reviewed it, so now’s my chance. I remember loving this thing to pieces, but even though I’ve seen it multiple times, it’s been several years since my last viewing, so I wasn’t entirely sure how it held up to today’s standards. Don’t you worry your little heads off, I still love The Matrix.
This film centers on Neo, a computer hacker who has heard of something called “the matrix” and has heard of the names Morpheus and Trinity before, but he has no idea what the matrix is or where these people are until they reach out to him and tell him two things. First, his world is not real, it’s a computer simulation run by malicious AI robots called Sentinels that feed off human energy to survive and two – he’s humanity’s last hope of survival. That’s right. According to Morpheus, Neo is “The One” who’s mentioned in a prophecy about the end of the world. First, he needs to unplug from the “matrix” and get introduced to “the real world” – the rundown place that created the matrix in the first place.
Okay, so I haven’t seen a ton of movies that seem to both shout out “complex” and “over convoluted” and still make perfect sense. These movies are genuinely written perfectly with the audience always in mind. When films are in danger of being too confusing over the subject matter, they need to introduce a character that ultimately also acts as the audience – confused about everything and wanting answers. In The Matrix, that character is easily just Neo – who asks all the questions we want answers to – and Morpheus is the one that gives us the answers to those questions. In the end, every natural question you have about the film should definitely be clearly answered.
Other questions you may have may be more theoretical in nature. For the longest time, The Matrix was a hot topic for theological discussions about similarities between Neo and Christ. Those discussions went on throughout the trilogy but were mostly focused on with the first movie. There are some interesting things to point out in the third film, but there’s undoubtedly something special about the first film that feels independent from the sequels.
Fun fact: My brothers and I used to make our own movies, and our first real attempt at making a full-length film was an adaptation of a fan-fiction Matrix story which we called The Matrix Revealed. It used to be on YouTube, but they took it down since.
Alright, let’s break the film down and talk about everything it did right.
PEOPLE SCORE – 10/10
Acting – 2|Characters – 2| Casting – 2|Importance – 2|Chemistry – 2
Alright, we shall first start off talking about the people of The Matrix. This was the first time I’ve ever really seen Keanu Reeves act more seriously than normal. Yes, there was a bit of his Bill & Ted narliness in the beginning, but it gets more serious really quick. So his acting, as well as the acting from his compadres was definitely well done. The characters are still very memorable to this day, and they all have their own unique role in the film, as Morpheus doesn’t hesitate to point out at the beginning of the movie. I also can’t really see any difference in casting choices. It’s rumored that Will Smith was almost Neo, and as much as I love him, Will Smith can’t be Neo. Finally, everyone works extremely well with each other, making the people score the first category to get a perfect score. Moving on.
WRITING SCORE – 10/10
Dialogue – 2|Balanced – 2|Story – 2|Originality – 2|Interesting – 2
Next up, we’ll talk about the writing score, which we all know who was being this – the (then) Wachowski Brothers, who always had a unique vision in general. The dialogue is one of the most important aspects of the film, as it is referenced quite a bit in modern times for countless discussions and debates. How balanced is this film? Well, like a few other movies out there, it’s a complicated storyline that is brilliantly laid out because it had a character to answer all of your questions – both Neo and ultimately Morpheus. The story itself, like I mentioned before, is definitely a hot topic for various discussions, like theological similarities to Christ. It’s supremely original and absolutely mind-blowingly “interesting”.
BTS SCORE – 10/10
Visuals – 2|Directing – 2|Editing – 2|Advertisement – 2|Music – 2
Next up is some behind-the-scenes workery. The visuals in this film, on a technical side of things, weren’t always the greatest. When the film had closeups to CGI machines, like the sentinels, you could tell that they were indeed fake. That being said, this is such an “eye-candy” movie that I find it impossible not to rate the visuals full points anyway. The directing was spot on with brilliance, thanks again to the Wachowski’s. The editing is very good, especially with the use of the martial arts – those are often times difficult scenes to properly edit. I consider this as-advertised, and you know when you listen to the soundtrack that you’re listening to The Matrix, which is definitely a good thing.
NARRATIVE ARC SCORE – 10/10
Introduction – 2|Inciting Incident – 2|Obstacles – 2|Climax – 2|Falling Action – 2
Even as complex and complicated as the story can be seen, it does follow a very solid narrative structure. We are introduced to the characters of Neo, Trinity, Morpheus, and Agent Smith before the inciting incident. We get a generalized idea that the Matrix is what Neo is after, and the inciting incident is the moment he gets to choose to go “down the rabbit hole”, which is a moment of no return, or, an inciting incident. The obstacles came down to fights and run-ins with the agents while they attempt to fulfill a prophecy, the climax was epic and memorable – it even had an epiphany moment, and the falling action successfully shows us what “the new norm” is.
ENTERTAINMENT SCORE – 10/10
Rewatchability – 2|Fun – 2|Impulse/Buy – 2|Impulse/Talk – 2|Sucks Audience In – 2
How entertaining is it? Well, if you’re following the theme thus far, you know that it’s entertaining for me, and gets yet another perfect score. It is insanely rewatchable, as I’ve seen it a million times. It sucks the audience in throughout the entire movie, and you’ll have a heck of a great time watching it as well. I would buy the movie in a heartbeat, and it drives me crazy when I hear people haven’t seen this movie. I need to tell them about it. I need to recommend it! It’s one of the greats!
TOTAL SPECIAL – 50/50
Simulated Reality – 10|Martial Arts – 10|Thought-Provoking – 10|Keanu – 10|Memory – 10
Finally, we have the specialty questions that I wrote down before I watched the film. First of all, this is simulated reality week, so how was that aspect? Personally, I feel like this is the best version of simulated reality that you can get, but there are a few other ones out there, too. Were the martial arts as good as I remember it being? Definitely. These were some of the most influential fight sequences I ever saw that really got me into the subgenre. Is it a thought-provoking movie? Definitely. I’m not one of those folks that’ll have a theological debate on the movie or anything, but the sheer idea that my world isn’t real, that it’s something that was created by artificial intelligence in the future, made to look real is definitely psychological and makes you think. As far as Keanu Reeves goes, how was this movie? This is one of the first if not first movie I’ll mention if I ever talk about him in everyday conversation. Final question – is it as good as I remember all around. Abso-frickin-lutely.