THE MATRIX TRILOGY (Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski, 1999, 2003)
MoMA Film, Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
The Matrix: Tuesday, July 9, 7:30
The Matrix Reloaded: Wednesday, July 10, 7:30
The Matrix Revolutions: Thursday, July 11, 7:30
Tickets: $12, in person only, may be applied to museum admission within thirty days, same-day screenings free with museum admission, available at Film and Media Desk beginning at 9:30 am
With the Matrix trilogy, the Wachowski brothers captured the fear and paranoia, as well as the excitement, of the virtual reality future, creating tech-heavy sci-fi thrillers that turned out to be both philosophical and bombastic. In The Matrix, Keanu Reeves stars as loner Thomas Anderson — aka computer hacker Neo — who just might be the One. Or at least that’s what Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) believes. Neo is recruited into an elite unit that is battling agent machines that protect the alternate reality known as the Matrix. Along his journey, he meets the hot Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), visits the Oracle (Gloria Foster), and learns that “there is no spoon.” Featuring awesome martial-arts choreography by Hong Kong master Yuen-woo Ping, the film deservedly won Oscars for Best Editing, Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Visual Effects, and Best Sound. The pulse-pounding music includes songs by Rage Against the Machine, Meat Beat Manifesto, Rob Zombie, Propellerheads, and Marilyn Manson. Unfortunately, everything that was set up in the first film came crashing down in The Matrix Reloaded, a major waste of time and talent. The plot is impossible to follow; the fight scenes, which go on forever, are same thing, different day; the score is maudlin; the secondary characters are worthless; the car chase is ridiculous; and the special effects, especially relating to Zion, are a boring amalgamation of Star Wars, Star Trek, Alien, Men in Black, Ghostbusters, The X-Files, Independence Day, T2, Superman, and many other science-fiction flicks, adding nothing new to a genre the Wachowskis were otherwise redefining. The best part of the film came after the credits, when theaters showed a trailer for the upcoming finale, The Matrix Revolutions. Neo, Morpheus, Trinity, and Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) are all back for the last installment of the Matrix trilogy, in which the brothers Wachowski returned to form, echoing the elements that made the first film a success rather than the trivialities that made the second one a bust. The machines are on their way to Zion, ready to destroy humanity, but Neo’s not ready to give up the fight. The effects are a treat, particularly the upside-down fight at the Merovingians club and the special vision Neo has. And the score is sensationally operatic in an Omen-like way. Ultimately, the three-film adventure works because of how Neo, and Reeves, grows up, much like the audience does as it finds out more and more about this future world that mimics our own. The Matrix films are screening at MoMA on successive nights, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, at 7:30, kicking off “A View from the Vaults: Warner Bros. Today,” consisting of thirty-one films from the last twenty years of movies coming out of the famed studio, including the Harry Potter, Dark Knight, and Lord of the Ring series as well as such wide-ranging fare as Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are, Ted Braun’s Darfur Now, Jay Roach’s The Campaign, Christopher Nolan’s Inception, and George Clooney’s Good Night, and Good Luck.