It took more than five years, but I finally saw "The Matrix" on Friday night. My best friend had bought himself the entire collector's set, and so he gave me all five of his Matrix DVDs -- the three movies, and two related projects.
All things considered, I thought it was a decent movie. The violence was a turnoff for me, meaning mainly the scene where Neo and Trinity enter the federal building and waste an entire platoon of military troops -- would even a secure building have that many combat-ready troops armed and prepped for battle? -- and the special effects now seem cliched, which is ironic since "The Matrix" is the one that introduced a lot of the moves and camera tricks "Shrek" was making fun of.
I'm not surprised many people saw it as a vehicle for Truth. A lot of Christians saw the movie as a spiritual allegory, where Satan has made a wasteland of the world and we only believe the pleasant lies of the Matrix because they're more comforting than the stark realities of the hellish world we actually live in. I could see that just from the conversation Morpheus and Neo have about how Neo always has known there is something fundamentally wrong with the world, let alone the more Christian-specific elements like Neo's resurrection (brought about by the love of Trinity, naturally), Cypher's act of betrayal, and so on, but I didn't see the movie in those terms primarily. The filmmakers definitely and deliberately tapped into those archetypes, but I saw it more in terms of a social commentary; i.e., the world around us keeps itself going at our expense, and trying to right the ills of our world puts us at odds with the rest of the order.
Maybe I've just become too liberal and earthly in my thinking, and no longer see spiritual truth unless it's delivered as a here-and-now package. :-)
The excessive violence was a disappointment, Neo's resurrection was inexplicable (but it was a resurrection, duh) and I think some of the FX were confusing (like where they stopped the bullets to show how fast Neo was moving, just before he deprogrammed Agent Smith), but overall it was a good flick. It was an action flick with some intelligence, which is better than the Van Damme and Schwarzeneggar action flicks my friends watched back in college, and it had some good thematic elements as well.
It was worth watching, even if it took me five years to see it. I'll probably watch "Matrix Reloaded" on Monday, or next Friday, after the girls have gone to sleep, followed by "Matrix Revolutions" soon after. I've been warned that I'll be disappointed, but then, I'm not expecting Matrix II. From what I've read and heard, the creators of the movie had a specific philosophy they were hoping to capture and express in their movies, following the three-part arc of the Hero Emergent, the Hero Victorious, and the Hero Vanquished.
Since it's not as interesting to read or write about the hero victorious, I imagine that the second movie is where they start to tell you more about their futuristic world, about Zion, how the Matrix came into existence, and so on -- and in the process start relaying their philosophy more than in the first movie, where they were just setting the stage.
So I'm not expecting the same sort of movie as the first one, but then again, I've also been told not to.
I have no idea when I'll get around to watching "Animatrix" and "The Matrix Revisited."