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  #46  
Old 07-18-2013, 02:24 AM
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Originally Posted by sarthaz View Post
It's difficult to discuss the Matrix sequels, because some people disliked them for reasons you suggest (not like the first, muddled, failed to meet expectations); and others didn't like them for what they were (an attempt at thought-provoking philosophy). I'm in the latter camp. I fully get what they were trying to do; personally, I just found it simplistic-masquerading-as-deep, and I have an aversion to what I call "didya see what I did there?" film-making.
I think my problem with the Matrix sequels is exactly what you describe above. Any depth is only skin deep, and even that depth is laughable to anyone with a passing interest in philosophy. They even failed as action films, so there’s really not much to recommend them. The first film was so great because it came out of nowhere, took lots of pre-existing ideas (Ghost in the Shell, Neuromancer, Ubik, The Invisibles to name but a few), and blended them into a nifty action film with superb effects. It didn’t pretend to be anything other than what it was.

I don’t believe for a minute that The Matrix was meant to spawn a trilogy of films, and I say this primarily because those final two films were such a mess. I refuse to believe they’d contemplated any arc or long form plotting. The sequels were made because they were guaranteed to make money.

I’ll have to give Cloud Atlas a look when it hits Netflix.
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  #47  
Old 07-18-2013, 03:36 AM
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Originally Posted by sarthaz View Post
It's difficult to discuss the Matrix sequels, because some people disliked them for reasons you suggest (not like the first, muddled, failed to meet expectations); and others didn't like them for what they were (an attempt at thought-provoking philosophy). I'm in the latter camp. I fully get what they were trying to do; personally, I just found it simplistic-masquerading-as-deep, and I have an aversion to what I call "didya see what I did there?" film-making.
I don't know - in my case, my problem at first was simply that I was expecting a different philosophical discussion. I do think there is real and significant depth, it's just not where I was looking for it.
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  #48  
Old 07-18-2013, 06:03 AM
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I don't know - in my case, my problem at first was simply that I was expecting a different philosophical discussion. I do think there is real and significant depth, it's just not where I was looking for it.
Can you elaborate... just curious how others might have 'read' the films. I've heard others paint them as anti-war films, given the futility of many of the battles that take place.
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Old 07-26-2013, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Ubik View Post
Can you elaborate... just curious how others might have 'read' the films. I've heard others paint them as anti-war films, given the futility of many of the battles that take place.
OK, I'll give elaborating on some of the themes a shot. I'm only going to do this very superficially, because I really don't have the time to do more. Don't get me wrong, I *want* to, I've been meaning to write a proper analysis of the latter Matrix movies for a while, but I'm just too damn busy.

OK, so the thing about The Matrix was that it was pretty simple, in a wonderful and iconic way - built primarily around the combination of Plato's Allegory of the Cave and a mix of various religious beliefs about the Messiah. It asked us to consider whether the world we know might be an illusion designed to keep us distracted, keep us oppressed. The dichotomy of Humans versus Machines is not good versus evil, but (flawed) freedom versus (perfect) oppression, and though the movie does hint at the notion that humanity created this situation for itself, the machines are a symbol of what we have to destroy. It works politically, culturally, and as an action movie - pretty sweet.

The sequels are very, very different in their concerns. Not only do they question a lot of what we're told in the first movie, but their focus also lies elsewhere. To wit: the first movie is concerned to a large degree with the question, as the film's website put it, What is the Matrix? Everything proceeds from that question, the question about the nature of reality. The sequels, however, are not at all concerned with the nature of reality, choosing instead to explore a variety of ideas within this setting.

This is where the sequels' biggest problem comes in: the question of how Neo communicates with the Source. It's never explained. It's not really what the movie is about. In a different movie, it might not be considered a flaw, but in the sequel to a movie so heavily concerned with the nature of the reality, it stands out. When I first saw The Matrix Revolutions, I was looking for a science fictional explanation of what was going on, i.e. for something clever, a plot twist. All the questions I'd asked myself after The Matrix Reloaded were about that, and the movie just didn't care. I was massively disappointed.

But, partially because JMS liked the movie so much, I thought about it some more, and later rewatched it. Then suddenly things started to click. I still think the issue of the Source is problematic (though there might be answers somewhere), but the rest of the movie's themes make sense for me now, and I think they are very powerful.

So. One of the first things The Matrix Reloaded does is ask the following: "OK, so now you're the Messiah. You can fly and you can punch agents. Now what? How do we proceed from one super-powered individual to a free society?" It doesn't undo Neo's accomplishments, but it does force us to question the ending of the first movie. Having a great and powerful leader/warrior doesn't mean your movement will succeed. You need a plan, a vision. What is the Resistance fighting for? A world without machines?

This is where the second strand of questioning comes in: is it really as simple as "machines are the bad guys?" The conversation with Councillor Hamann begins to draw out some of those themes:

Quote:
Councillor Hamann: Down here, sometimes I think about all those people still plugged into the Matrix and when I look at these machines I... I can't help thinking that in a way... we are plugged into them.
Neo: But we control these machines; they don't control us.
Councillor Hamann: Of course not. How could they? The idea is pure nonsense. But... it does make one wonder... just... what is control?
Neo: If we wanted, we could shut these machines down.
Councillor Hamann: [Of] course. That's it. You hit it. That's control, isn't it? If we wanted we could smash them to bits. Although, if we did, we'd have to consider what would happen to our lights, our heat, our air...
Neo: So we need machines and they need us, is that your point, Councillor?
Councillor Hamann: No. No point. Old men like me don't bother with making points. There's no point.
Neo: Is that why there are no young men on the council?
Councillor Hamann: Good point.
These themes are then further developed in the form of the various non-human characters, showing us that the machines are far from being all evil, and that many AIs are as oppressed by the existing system as the humans are. As intelligent beings, they are capable of love, curiosity, compassion, and desire freedom - maybe not in the same way as we do, but in equivalent ways. And they don't want to die, though they are willing to do so for a cause.

This brings us to one of the most central themes: mortality and death. Humans have physical bodies and AIs exist only as patterns of information, but both can perish, both are precious. The scenes in Zion are focused on physicality - sex, intimacy, death, dance. The so-called rave scene (which is nowhere near as long as people say) is a particularly powerful celebration of the fact that right now, we are here, in these bodies, and even though we are faced with the inevitability of death, we choose to cherish what we have. The scenes between Neo and Trinity remind us of how much we ache for the people we love, how much we need intimacy, how difficult it is to know that ultimately this body we are touching right now will die, how far we are willing to go to prolong the time we have together.

The inevitablity of death is given shape in the form of Agent Smith. And not only death, but a kind of mad nihilism, a hatred of everything. All of his dialogue points towards the fact that he simply cannot be defeated, and he's right. He can take over everyone. He cannot be stopped. The frailty of human life is emphasized again and again.

And Smith, the personified futility of human existence, questions Neo in what is arguably the movie's most important moment:

Quote:
Agent Smith: Why, Mr. Anderson? Why do you do it? Why get up? Why keep fighting? Do you believe you're fighting for something? For more than your survival? Can you tell me what it is? Do you even know? Is it freedom? Or truth? Perhaps peace? Yes? No? Could it be for love? Illusions, Mr. Anderson. Vagaries of perception. The temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence that is without meaning or purpose. And all of them as artificial as the Matrix itself, although only a human mind could invent something as insipid as love. You must be able to see it, Mr. Anderson. You must know it by now. You can't win. It's pointless to keep fighting. Why, Mr. Anderson? Why? Why do you persist?
Neo: Because I choose to.
This is the sequels' philosophical core: why we do continue fighting? Why do we live when everything about the world tells us it's meaningless? Because we choose to.

It is only through this that Neo ultimately comes to his transcendent victory - he gives meaning to life by dying, by breaking death's grip on the world. He dies but does not surrender to Smith's nihilism, and so he destroys Smith from within (with the help of the Oracle, an AI, human and machine working together for the benefit of all).

There's far more to the movies, of course. One of the most interesting concepts, and one so rarely explored in fiction, is that the Resistance exists in order to stabilize the system of oppression, not in order to challenge it. Zion is created by the machines because having outsiders is useful as a pressure valve, a concept that far too many wannabe-radicals who glorify outsiderism never think about. Putting the potential for change outside of society makes it less threatening. The movie doesn't look down on the people of Zion, but it also says that they cannot achieve freedom by "dropping out" - they must realize that their struggle for freedom is the same struggle as that of the oppressed machines. The war between humans and machines benefits no-one.

I find it absolutely remarkable - and I get goosebumps just thinking of that scene - that Neo's final achievement, the one that he pays the ultimate price for, the one that Trinity and so many others die for, is not the destruction of their enemies ("a world without you" in the words of the first movie) but...

Quote:
Deus Ex Machina: What do you want?
Neo: Peace.
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  #50  
Old 07-29-2013, 06:48 AM
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Jonas, cheers for that in depth analysis! Much of what you say rings true... I may at some point re-watch the films with that in mind. I'm still unsure if it will be enough to improve my opionion of them as films. There was much that still felt very lacking with those sequels, but I'd have to see them again to really put it into words. One positive though, they seem to allow people to project their own interpretations / meanings onto them:


Quote:
Originally Posted by Lana Wachowski

What we were trying to achieve with the story overall was a shift, the same kind of shift that happens for Neo, that Neo goes from being in this sort of cocooned and programmed world, to having to participate in the construction of meaning to his life. And we were like, ‘Well, can the audience go through the three movies and experience something similar to what the main character experiences?’

So the first movie is sort of classical in its approach, the second movie is deconstructionist and an assault on all the things you thought to be true in the first movie … and the third movie is the most ambiguous, because it asks you to actually participate in the construction of meaning.

I remain somewhat unconvinced that the Matrix was ever meant to be any more than one film, no matter what the Wachowskis say. Although, with the success that it found, sequels were inevitable.

Anyhow... I'm looking forward to Sense8 a lot.
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Last edited by Ubik; 07-29-2013 at 06:56 AM.
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  #51  
Old 07-29-2013, 09:08 PM
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Thanks Jonas

Thanks Jonas. You have definitely enticed me to open my Matrix sequel Blu-Rays and watch them. Your post really took me back to film school. I remember writing volumes on Blade Runner. Thanks Ridley Scott for ruining me on in depth film analysis.

And BTW Jonas, I've always tended to agree with UBIK's thinking on The Matrix Trilogy. If I am able to prove you wrong, I WILL - MuHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa ! ! ! ! ! ! LOL LOL LOL

And my CURRENT opinion of the sequels will NOT keep me from watching Sense 8. I can't wait for it. I am disappointed it has caused Flickering Light to be pushed back, but that has nothing to do with my hope that Sense 8 will be awesome.
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  #52  
Old 07-30-2013, 04:07 AM
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I had a similar problem like Jonas after watching "Revolutions" the first time: the way Neo gets to interact with both the real world and the matrix (similarly how Smith gets into the real world from the matrix), was bothering me too much to think about the rest. That was a mirror image of the hotel scene in "The Matrix", where suddenly Neo is able to "eliminate" the agents after dying, which has bothered me at the time. It was one particular comment somewhere on the internet right after the watching that pushed me to try to think more about the movie(s).

It was a reply to questions how Neo was able to defeat Smith. He (or she) asserted that Neo and Smith are on two sides of an equation (that is hinted at by the "Oracle"). Once Neo defied his role as a control mechanism in the original Matrix (and thus became more "powerful" inside the matrix), the Architect's programming enabled Smith to become more than just another agent. The equation was balanced again.

This leads up to the final confrontation in Revolutions, where we see the two battle at ever greater ferocity. But Neo already knows what is to be done (sacrifice, for the greater good) and is just playing the bait for Smith and his goal of assimilation. Once Neo is gone the equation Neo = Smith becomes 0 = Smith and smith is eradicated from the matrix.

As can be heard in the scene between the Architect and the Oracle, this was a dangerous game by the latter, as the matrix (and thus the programmes) existence was threatened this way.

This lead me to realize what Neo's motivation was, which is hinted at in the conversation with the Architect in "Reloaded" where it becomes clear, that Neo is different to his predecessors in one way: love for an individual. (and what was Sheridan's reply to Lorien's question "Do you have anything worth living for"? Exactly: his love to Delenn!)

As can be seen from Jonas' and my reply here, while we ended up to very similar positions regarding the Matrix trilogy, we arrived at by taking a different path. Just like in every great story there can be many layers to it, many of them worthwhile to be explored (I for one thoroughly enjoyed Jonas' thoughts).

For some, Babylon 5 reflects "The Lord of the Rings", some see stories from "Greek mythology" and others see "a blatant rip-off of DS9", which shows, once more, that opinion of any great work of art reflects not only the artwork, but the viewer who's examining it.

Considering the strong negative reaction to "Reloaded" but especially "Revolutions" and the high praise on "The Matrix" I concluded, that people seem to have been uncomfortable with the way the former thoroughly destroyed the conclusion of the latter: that you can wake up, fight the system by bending the rules and destroy it.

Yet, as Jonas has showed by quoting from that incredible moment where Neo meets "Deus ex machina", it was about peaceful coexistence all along. But just like Neo, we the viewers, are led in our thinking by the information all the other characters are feeding us. In the first film, we are manipulated like Morpheus was about the existence of "The One". The "Oracle" even admits that to him later on: he was told what he needed to hear.

I shall stop now because my aim is not the have a long-winded discussion, but merely to show, that there is indeed much to be gained by re-watching and rethinking the sequels. And we all know how hard it is to get out of our comfort zone of "finalized" opinions.
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  #53  
Old 07-30-2013, 06:52 AM
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I shall stop now because my aim is not the have a long-winded discussion, but merely to show, that there is indeed much to be gained by re-watching and rethinking the sequels. And we all know how hard it is to get out of our comfort zone of "finalized" opinions.
When I get some free time, I may give them a go again. Or perhaps watch the entire trilogy again to see if I view it any differently. This discussion has made me consider the films more carefully.

I did watch the first 40 mins of Revolutions yesterday whilst eating dinner, and it was slightly better than I remembered it being. Perhaps all this talk has softened my initial judgement somewhat?!?
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Old 07-30-2013, 09:35 AM
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Stick to your guns ! ! !

Stick to your guns Ubik ! ! ! ! I'll prove them wrong yet ! ! !

In all seriousness, this is great. I hope we have this much to say about Sense8. I like some of their other work, but I don't love it. Hopefully JMS is just what they need to achieve perfection.
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Old 07-30-2013, 09:48 AM
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Stick to your guns Ubik ! ! ! ! I'll prove them wrong yet ! ! !

In all seriousness, this is great. I hope we have this much to say about Sense8. I like some of their other work, but I don't love it. Hopefully JMS is just what they need to achieve perfection.
Ohh, don't worry Looney... I'm still VERY unconvinced by those sequels. Some neat ideas won't suddenly turn them into good films!
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  #56  
Old 08-17-2013, 07:27 AM
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On Sens8, i am really looking forward to the Netflix release. They have been doing really good on their originals. Orange is the New Black was outstanding IMO. If you haven't watched it, give it a try the ending was crazy. House of Cards was a good political treat. The only one I didn't care for was Hemlock Grove, but I think that was because I saw it as attempting to be Tru Blood knockoff. In talking to the NetFlix reps, they repeated the best way to garner its renewal was not just initial viewing but referring it to newbies for committed growth of viewers. So, after we all watch the initial release we gotta remember to tell everyone else to give it a try as well. Orange and Cards have both been renewed because of that where as Hemlock is on the fence.

My second thought is the above discussion on Matrix. My only issue on Matrix was that, and I remember their being comments from them during the production of the 2nd, they realized during the filming that if they wrapped it up as they intended, the movie was going to be somewhere around 3-1/2 hours or somewhere in that neighborhood. They made the decision to split it, but from my experience in the watching, they just didn't have they story to completely fill 2 feature length movies. I think, if the Wachowskis had access to a certain Delorian, they would go back and leave it as 2 movies and closed it up.
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Old 08-22-2013, 06:17 AM
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On Sens8, i am really looking forward to the Netflix release. They have been doing really good on their originals. Orange is the New Black was outstanding IMO. If you haven't watched it, give it a try the ending was crazy. House of Cards was a good political treat. The only one I didn't care for was Hemlock Grove, but I think that was because I saw it as attempting to be Tru Blood knockoff. In talking to the NetFlix reps, they repeated the best way to garner its renewal was not just initial viewing but referring it to newbies for committed growth of viewers. So, after we all watch the initial release we gotta remember to tell everyone else to give it a try as well. Orange and Cards have both been renewed because of that where as Hemlock is on the fence.
Not forgetting a whole new season of Arrested Development! Not a Netflix original, but they made it happen!
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Old 09-21-2013, 08:30 PM
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In answer to a fan asking for Sense8 news:

Quote:
Originally Posted by JMichael Straczynski
‏@straczynski 3h
@profpalmer We're deep in writing scripts for Sense8, we want to have all ten done well before shooting next June so we can be effective.
Jan
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Old 09-22-2013, 06:32 AM
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Damn, we're going to be waiting a while for Sense8 aren't we!
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Old 09-22-2013, 06:41 AM
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Damn, we're going to be waiting a while for Sense8 aren't we!
Yeah, but maybe not quite as long as might me. In a recent interview JMS mentioned that much of the multi-country filming for the show will be done simultaneously rather than sequentially.

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