by Del Harvey
There is no spoon.
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In the classic tradition of earlier sci-fi greats such as Soylent Green, Planet Of The Apes, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and others, The Matrix has a frightening social dilemma wrapped up tight in a nice little “what if” scenario that takes us one step further into this virtual reality thing. It’s a scary thing, this future world, and it houses a very frightening monster that is man-made. That’s right; we’ve done it to ourselves once again.
We’ve created another ‘Frankenstein,’ only it’s computer generated, robotic, and can think for itself. Sometime in the future machines become intelligent enough to create original thought. And, since these future super-computers can think millions of times faster than humans, we aren’t even aware of the ‘revolt.’ Much later, a small group of rebels frees Keanu Reeves’ character from this mind-controlling situation, and this is where the story of The Matrix begins.
Inspired by the comic book series of the same name, authored by Paul Chadwick, The Matrix is a top-notch sci-fi film in action film packaging. The deceptively subtle visual effects (1999 Academy Award to John Gaeta) are remarkable and exceptionally well crafted. The actors work hard to make the visuals work. In fact, the acting is so well choreographed to the visuals that this film almost perfectly achieves the liquid visuals required to bring a comic book to ‘life.’ At the same time, this film succeeds in bridging the gap between sci-fi and action, in much the same way that Alien did with sci-fi, horror, and action.
Keanu Reeves is perfect as the nerdy-kung fu hacker Neo. He may be our next big action star. Lawrence Fishburne is, as always, masterful as the spiritual guide Morpheus. And newcomer Carrie-Anne Moss is a standout as Trinity, Neo’s partner and love interest. Together they look like the Millenia poster children for healthy living.
Direction and script by brothers Andy and Larry Wochowski are very tight. The sound and choreography are an excellent marriage of craft and sleight-of-hand, complimenting the visuals and acting to produce a feast for the senses.
The Matrix is a great film to watch…at least until the sequel comes out. Go rent it now.
Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly. He lives in Chicago and once worked for the Directors Guild of America, the Walt Disney Company, and Lucasfilm.
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