The Matrix trilogy

In my Hollywood travels, I am often asked to adapt this or that popular work of fantasy.  When doing this, what I need to do first is remove the metaphor and see if the story still works.

For instance:

A few years back, they asked me to adapt Osamu Tezuka’s Astroboy for the American movie screen.  The story of Astroboy is: a brilliant scientist’s son dies in a car wreck and so the brilliant scientist spends all his company’s money and resources to build a robot replica of the son.  The robot looks and acts like his little boy but, much to the scientist’s chagrin, does not grow.  Well of course it doesn’t grow, it’s a robot.  So the scientist, filled with rage and self-hatred (and not feeling quite so brilliant any more), sells the robot to a robot circus.

Now then: we don’t have little-boy robots in this world, so I had to think what Astroboy was a metaphor for.

What I came up with is this: a man has a son, and the son dies, so the man has another son, and is disappointed and outraged that the second son does not turn out to be a good replacement for the first son.  So he turns his back on the second son, unable to love him.

What would this spurned second son do?  He doesn’t know what he has done to incur his father’s disappointment.  He doesn’t even know that there was a first son.  The second son, it occurred to me, would do everything in his power in order to gain the thing that the first son got just by being born: his father’s love.  In the case of a real-life little boy, that would mean working hard, overcoming grief and hardship in order to become the best he could possibly be.  In the case of Astroboy, it would have to mean nothing less than saving the world from, I don’t know, a mad scientist’s evil robot or something.  Astroboy would have to become the most powerful entity on the planet, all in the hopes of gaining his father’s love.

Anyway, that’s how I got the job writing the Astroboy screenplay.  (That movie, the reader will surely be aware, didn’t get made.  Such is life.)

The Matrix has a wonderful, daring, innovative screenplay, a killer hook and a terrific metaphor.  (It also has probably the best tag-line I’ve ever heard in a movie trailer: Lawrence Fishburne intoning “Unfortunately, I cannot tell you what the Matrix is; you have to experience it for yourself.”) 

Neo is convinced that something is not right with this world.  That “something not right” turns out to be (spoiler alert) that the world we know is actually a vast computer simulation, created in order to distract us from the fact that we are actually living in tubs of pink goo and powering the machines that actually rule the world.

That’s the killer hook.  And you know what?  I’m going to bet that it turns out that, in reality, the world we know is not actually a vast computer simulation, and that we do not actually live in tubs of pink goo.  The Matrix, then, is the metaphor.

A metaphor for what?  Well, you know, the corporate machine, that all-consuming, media-driven monster that has us surrounded, gets us from every possible angle and keeps us so amused, confused and abused that we willingly give our lives to it.  That thing.  How shall we behave in this world?  How can we balance our desire to be free with our need to be a part of the world?  Can we “free our minds” from this pervasive corporate monster?  What happens if we “unplug” from the world?  What would we find “out there?”  Will we be happier?  These are the real, everyday, pertinent questions The Matrix had to offer its audience.

(This is the same metaphor used in the Alien movies, the corporate culture that would rather invite a rapacious, heartless monster intothe world rather than pass up an opportunity for profit.)

The good folks who made The Matrix, unsurprisingly, found themselves with a substantial hit on their hands and decided to make two more movies based in the same world back to back.  Why not?  The world created in The Matrix is fascinating and well-worth the time spent investigating it.  The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, while not as fluid dramatically as the first movie, are still visually stunning and philosophically complex.  The action sequences are nothing less than stupefying and the dense intellectual underpinnings are, well, they’re dense enough that this viewer has had to watch the movies three times in order to begin to grasp just what the hell some of the characters are talking about.

And there’s where I think the problem lies, why the second two movies fail to engage on the same level as the first.  The second two movies take place in a world so fascinating that the fimmakers decided to abandon their metaphor, and make a movie about the imaginary world.  Or rather, the filmmakers’ ambitions are so vast that they decided (or planned all along) to expand their metaphor of late-corporate media culture to include philosophical notions of the nature of human life so vast and complex that they appear to be all-but opaque, and certainly uncinematic.  To get around this problem, they include action sequences of mind-boggling immensity and plot twists startling in their ordinariness (the bumbling recruit who saves the day, the hot-shot pilot who bucks staggering odds to get her ship to dock, the Mexican standoff with the effete, sneering Frenchman).  The action sequences demand to be seen again and again, and in between one can begin to make sense of long, motionless scenes about “systemic anomalies.”

This is the same problem I have with Dune or Lord of the Rings — I can’t locate the metaphor in these works.  I know other people, many other people apparently, do not have this problem.  But as for me, I’m not interested in the vast complexity of an imaginary world, I’m interested in this world.  I attend a drama so that I might better understand how to live my life; what do the second two Matrix movies offer in this regard?
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Comments

69 Responses to “The Matrix trilogy”
  1. laminator_x says:

    Central metaphors in Dune.

    Spice=Oil. Arrakis=The Middle East. All the chaos, betrayal, and strife around the spice mirror the evils that surround our real-life essential resource and it’s dusty home.

    Paul (standing in for Mohammed, Jesus, and Lawrence of Arabia) is an accidental Messiah with feet of clay.

  2. eronanke says:

    I refer you to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dune_(novel)#Allusions_and_references_to_contemporary_civilization

    They fail to add, however, the underlying tone of Order vs. Chaos and destiney vs. free will; the Bene Gesserit, for example, attempt to control the bloodline of every major house, and the loss of that total controll is based on the fact that they did not allow the pretense of free will; Jessica has a son against her orders, and Paul chooses a local woman to mate with, rather than Princess Irulan. Not to mention the fremen orgies, which actively resist the concept of controlled parenthood. Even the local the Bene Gesserit, have gone nearly clompletely ‘native’, embracing local culture and tradition in order to fullfil her primary goal of preparing Arakis for the Kwisatch Hadderack. (forgive the spelling, but it’s been an age since I’ve read it.)

  3. gazblow says:

    Locating the Metaphor

    “I attend a drama so that I might better understand how to live my life”

    Here’s where it gets a little too Mamet for me. I don’t attend anything except therapy to gain a better understanding about how to live my life. I go to movies, especially movies like The Matrix Trilogy, Dune or Lord of the Rings to watch a ripping good yarn and distract myself from my everyday cares and woes. If, by chance, I get a better understanding of how to live my life, that’s a bonus.

    Indeed, one could say that Dune’s metaphors lie in our need for oil and the Middle East as Laminator X has ably demonstrated. And many have tried to equate The One Ring in LOTR with the atomic bomb (much to Tolkien’s consternation). But locating those metaphors does nothing for me. If you take your Astroboy scenario for a moment, this is less a metaphor than a story. Astroboy is a character who wants something: his father’s love. Being a robot just makes him capable of saving the world. If that’s what he’s gotta do, so be it. What does Neo want in The Matrix? In the first, he wants to know if he’s The One. The next two are not so clear. The metaphor of freeing yourself from the media becomes an existential dilemma which faces both the machine world and the human world. Now that we know Neo is The One, we also know he is capable of solving the question of whether Agent Smith will destroy us all. Does your metaphor apply? Sure. But it also seems kinda thin. I’m only interested insofar as I’m interested in Neo. And now that Trinity’s dead, I could care less.

    Different story in LOTR. Frodo, one of the least imposing or threatening creatures in the world — a guy who only ever wanted a peaceful life — comes into possession of the Most Dangerous Thing Ever. Turns out he’s also the only one with enough strength of character to drop this thing in a volcano without it taking over his mind. A metaphor exists, somewhere in here, about the capabilities of Regular Folks, their inner strengths and goodness and how nobility isn’t something that’s written in your bloodline but in your character. And that’s all very nice. But as you look at the story, it expresses the metaphor brilliantly. They are inextricably linked. This is what happens in the best examples.

    • Todd says:

      Re: Locating the Metaphor

      Here’s where it gets a little too Mamet for me.

      Sir, there is no such thing as “a little too Mamet.”

      I go to movies, especially movies like The Matrix Trilogy, Dune or Lord of the Rings to watch a ripping good yarn and distract myself from my everyday cares and woes.

      And millions agree with you. Although I would say that any yard, ripping or otherwise, contains a message regarding how to live one’s life whether it intends to or not.

      But let’s look a little closer at LOTR vs Matrix. I may not care about the Orcs and the elves and so forth, but I care about Frodo keeping his sanity whilst carrying around the One Ring because I care about keeping my sanity whilst carrying around my own burden of responsibility. But how can I relate to what Neo is trying to accomplish? The machines, in the first movie, represent something we’re familiar with. But in the second two movies, they become merely machines in a sci-fi story, and my interest in learning to live side-by-side in harmony with the fictional machines of the Matrix becomes an intellectual exercise instead of an involving drama.

      I think we’re saying the same thing. I’m saying that the stories of the second two Matrix movies feel thin because they lack a metaphor, you’re saying they feel thin because Neo’s arc gets confused and insubstantial. I think you’re saying that the second two Matrix movies would be better if the drama (or maybe the plot) were better.

      • gazblow says:

        Re: Locating the Metaphor

        “Sir, there is no such thing as “a little too Mamet.””

        As someone who’s spent some time in the presence of the great man, and his artistic progeny, I beg to disagree. But that’s for another, less enlightening post.

        “Although I would say that any yard, ripping or otherwise, contains a message regarding how to live one’s life whether it intends to or not.”

        Now I feel stupid. You’re right. As usual. Once you figure out how to spell “yarn”, your superiority will be complete.

        Mamet would say that we are not saying the same thing regarding the LOTR vs. Matrix metaphor question. But I agree with you and add this observation: what makes the Matrix movies (Matrices?) feel thin is both the lack of metaphor and lack of coherent drama. Tolkien, grand old man of letters that he was, knew enough to focus his craft on the drama and let the artistry of his metaphor emerge coherently from that.

      • Anonymous says:

        Re: Locating the Metaphor

        In the first film, there was the promise of Zion — a place where we could be fully human, see things clear, and gather strength until our forces were strong to free everyone from the machines.

        In the second film, we saw Zion, and saw it was a dreary, washed-out junk heap of house music orgies, and we were told it was irrelevant, because every Zion was born to be rebuilt and betrayed, eventually, by the one who was the One — and there were a lot of Ones.

        In the third film, everyone we cared about was destroyed — and the machines were not. In fact, the machines never discussed how they’d feed themselves, power themselves, without their human batteries, just that a population of humans would most likely die of shock when pulled away from the only existence they knew, Zion lay in tatters, and the core programs of the Matrix lived snugly on.

        • Todd says:

          Re: Locating the Metaphor

          So I guess if, in the first movie, the Matrix is a metaphor for the corporate machine that controls our lives, then by the third movie the corporation gets everything it wants and the humans get nothing. Which I guess makes perfect sense.

          • Anonymous says:

            Re: Locating the Metaphor

            It’s damnably close to what BATTLESTAR GALACTICA might head to — if this has happened once, and it will happen again, why the frak do we care what happens? The negation is inherent in the structure, and if no one changes — no one breaks past the role of the One, the Architect, the insufferable Merovingian — why bother to watch?

            • Todd says:

              Re: Locating the Metaphor

              The Wachowskis would probably say that that is the whole point of the movie, to examine the notion of free will vs. destiny. If, indeed, this has happened over and over and over again, then yes, what’s the point? Unless one can, through free will, make it different. I think that’s what the third movie is all about; I just wish they had found an effective way of dramatizing that.

              • ninja_gamer says:

                Re: Locating the Metaphor

                Of course, Neo doesn’t have a choice as a character in a story. As Col. Sanders said, we already knew his decision before he made it.

  4. craigjclark says:

    I attend a drama so that I might better understand how to live my life; what do the second two Matrix movies offer in this regard?

    I couldn’t tell you because I felt like I’d gotten enough enjoyment out of the first movie that I didn’t feel the need to see the other two. I don’t even get the feeling that I’ll eventually “catch up” with them the way I’m planning on eventually seeing Blade II (but that’s mostly so I can say I’ve seen all of Guillermo del Toro’s movies).

    The first Matrix had its moments, for sure, but if you want a trenchant critique of the modern world in the form of a movie about virtual reality, look no further than David Cronenberg’s eXistenZ. And if you can, try to track down the Canadian release of the film, which blows the bare-bones American edition out of the water.

    • greyaenigma says:

      try to track down the Canadian release of the film, which blows the bare-bones American edition

      Hmm, I may have to do that. I’ve been tempted to see it again since I saw it in theater.

      • craigjclark says:

        The difference is like night and day. The American DVD has the movie and maybe a trailer. The Canadian DVD has three commentary tracks — one by Cronenberg, one by the cinematographer, one by the special effects supervisors — a lengthy documentary about his longtime production designer Carol Spier, and some other things I’m probably forgetting about.

  5. ghostgecko says:

    Well, the Matrix didn’t blow my skirt up. It struck me as a fairly blatant wish-fullfillment fantasy for nerds. A lot of surface gloss and not much going on in its pretty little head beyonf Intro to Philosophy 101. Of course, saying that makes people who like the movie go “OMG you just didn’t GET all the philosophical blah blah blah” and so on. There’s a diff between not getting and not liking. I got it, y’all can have it.

    The thing is, you can’t really unplug from the corporate world because American culture is so intricately connected with it and controlled by it. Even if you decide to live off the grid in the woods somewhere, you’re still defining yourself by opposition to the corporate world. It’s ironic that the the big fans of this movie who buy into the “corporate world is controlling our minds” theme are also the ones spending their money on multiple editions of DVDs and other merchendising.

    But what do I know, I’m buzzed on prescription narcotics at the moment.

    • greyaenigma says:

      I like the movie, and I don’t say that. Of course, the movie impressed me by having any attempt at philosophy in it — my expectations were quite low.

      • ghostgecko says:

        >>>I like the movie, and I don’t say that.

        I should qualify that, I reckon. It’s mostly fanboys who react like that, and you’ve given the impression you’re a good deal more considerate than the general run of people I have movie arguments with. I chalk it up to herdthink.
        Actually, you’re right, for a popular action-adventure movie to have any knind of philosophy in it is pretty impressive.

        • greyaenigma says:

          That icon is really disturbing.

          I figured you meant folks that loved the movie with a special unconditional worshippy love. I just wanted to establish a middle ground between the extremes of dislike and worship.

          I still haven’t gotten (nor plan to get) the second and third movies on DVD, although I enjoyed The Animatrix enough to get it.

          • ghostgecko says:

            >That icon is really disturbing.
            Thank you!

            >special unconditional worshippy love.
            Exactly. I didn’t love the movie, I was just blah and unimpressed and unable to understand people’s minds being blown by it. It’s pretty much Harry Potter for grown up little boys. I have my unconditional worshippy love movies of course but they tend to be a tad more obscure.

            Y’know, I saw the Animatrix, too and some of the episodes were very interesting and impressive. I think they were better for being freed from the constraints of their stories having to first catch a new audience like the original flim and second to carry an entire movie by themselves. Also, I’m an animation nut.

            • greyaenigma says:

              Actually, there’s a specific element of the Matrix that contributed to its success, or at the very least, my appreciation of it. It came out fairly early in the widespread adoption of the Internet. The characters, dishevelled in real life, would appear in the online world as idealized avatars — not just super-capable, but also impeccably groomed. It struck me as a perfect commentary (satirical or unconscious) of how people actually presented themselves online when freed from the restrictions of their previous identies or limitations.

              I suppose it’s just a less blatant sort of wish-fulfillment.

              And one more thing — it really bothered me that they had no qualms about killing the guards who didn’t know who they were really guarding, and they knew would die in real life. I hardly ever hear criticism about this, and it was probably the one thing that bothered me most about the movie.

              • Todd says:

                The characters, dishevelled in real life, would appear in the online world as idealized avatars — not just super-capable, but also impeccably groomed.

                Yes, the Matrix as fashion statement is a very important aspect of the movies. See,for example, which definitely emphasize style over substance.

                • Anonymous says:

                  Fashion statements

                  Style is the only good thing I have to say about the second and third Matrices.
                  –Editrix

    • Todd says:

      There’s a diff between not getting and not liking. I got it, y’all can have it.

      I understand how you feel. For me, the philosophical blah blah blah is fascinating in and of itself, but is, to put it mildly, an uncomfortable fit with the action-movie sci-fi heroics of the rest of the movies.

      The thing is, you can’t really unplug from the corporate world because American culture is so intricately connected with it and controlled by it.

      And, again, to put it mildly, we are not likely to get good lessons on unplugging from corporate culture by watching a Hollywood movie released by Time Warner.

      • ghostgecko says:

        I like to endlessly dissect the themes and symbolism of movies, lord knows, but the Matrix wasn’t much of a challenge. Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life – not that had philosphy AND Mr Creosote.

        The bit about the Matrix being down on yet also being a product of corporate America reminds me a bit of David Brin’s salon.com rant about George Lucas’s glorification of Romanticism in the Star Wars movies:
        “Lucas defends his elitist view, telling the New York Times, “That’s sort of why I say a benevolent despot is the ideal ruler. He can actually get things done. The idea that power corrupts is very true and it’s a big human who can get past that.”
        In other words a royal figure or demigod, anointed by fate. (Like a billionaire moviemaker?)
        Lucas often says we are a sad culture, bereft of the confidence or inspiration that strong leaders can provide. And yet, aren’t we the very same culture that produced George Lucas and gave him so many opportunities? The same society that raised all those brilliant experts for him to hire — boldly creative folks who pour both individual inspiration and cooperative skill into his films? A culture that defies the old homogenizing impulse by worshipping eccentricity, with unprecedented hunger for the different, new or strange? It what way can such a civilization be said to lack confidence?
        In historical fact, all of history’s despots, combined, never managed to “get things done” as well as this rambunctious, self-critical civilization of free and sovereign citizens, who have finally broken free of worshipping a ruling class and begun thinking for themselves.”

  6. serizawa3000 says:

    My initial reaction to The Matrix was “This is live-action anime.”

    That was about all I could come up with. I also thought “Well, the Wachowskis read all these comics and saw a bunch of chop-socky films, anime, etc. and thought ‘Hey, let’s do something like this,’ and boom, they make a movie.” It could be how anything is made nowadays. A movie, a novel, a comic, and so on. That The Matrix became such a hit and spun off into different directions (video games… animation) was just a bonus. I liked The Matrix trilogy for what it was (whatever it was), and left it at that. I wasn’t thinking about metaphor much, for all the philosophy that was in there. In spite of everything, I’m more drawn to the surface details of a work than the core ideas… even though I think a lot about the core ideas of the stuff I work on.

    And then I catch an interview with Terry Gilliam where he talks about not having enough money for whatever movie he’s working on, and I die a little inside… :\

    • ghostgecko says:

      It pretty much riffed directly off of Ghost in the Shell, didn’t it?

      • Todd says:

        The Wachowskis, reportedly, showed Joel Silver Ghost in the Shell and said “We want to do this for real.” I have not seen Ghost in the Shell so I wouldn’t know.

        • mikeyed says:

          IT’s actually like taking the slight references to philosophy and blowing it ten thousand times bigger. The second one is insane as well, as is the series. Watch it. It’s definitely better than the philosophical discussion throughout The Matirx, but only because it goes way more into depth.

  7. ndgmtlcd says:

    Dune, the 1965 novel is all about the craft of style, not metaphor. In fact it’s layered styles, giving several levels of “Hard science” and “Soft Science” and romantic adventure. No wonder you had problems extracting the metaphor!

    I watched Dune, the 1985 movie and I groaned through all of it, barely restraining myself from jumping up on the cinema seat and yelling “this is a swindle”. It trampled Science in every possible way and had nearly no cinematic style to it, in addition to showing zilch knowledge of any science fiction tradition,in print or film. Of course it didn’t have a metaphor either, because the basic story had no single unifying metaphor to begin with!

    I watched The Matrix, the 1999 movie and I groaned through and fidgeted,through all of it. It too trampled Science (and common knowledge) in every possible way and had no original cinematic style to it, in addition to showing nearly zilch knowledge of any science fiction tradition,in print or film. I usually place this movie in contrast with Star Wars, the 1977 movie which also trampled Science (and common sense) but did so while exploiting cleverly nearly all of the traditional science fiction works (both in print and in the cinema) Better yet, it was a smooth whole of cinematic action adventure which just flew over the mumbo-jumbo “Force” parts while the Matrix, for me or anybody with a bit of practical technology in mind, got clogged in that sticky part of the metaphor.

    One day, I borrowed the VHS tapes of Dune, the 2000 mini-series or at least the parts of it corresponding to the 1965 novel, along with a diehard Dune-novel fan (he groaned though the the 1985 film too) who, like me did not expect too much after having been “burned” by the previous adaptation.

    We were stunned and thrilled. That part of the mini-series had caught nearly perfectly the rich tapestry of the novel. The romance, the social richness, the muted and focused (no computers, a lot of ecology) Science were all there along with the action-adventure and the interplay between the characters. The craft of literary style had equivalents in the craft of editing, excellent shots and CGI all integrated in a tight whole.

    Of course, there was no single metaphor, no single “killer hook” to it, because there’s no single “killer hook” to that novel. Oh yes, if you dig in it you’ll find several interesting metaphors, like the distinction between romantic love and a practical union both when men and women are involved and a human and nature and involved, and then there’s the whole thing about a boy becoming a man, but that’s not a single “killer hook”.

    Sorry, but if you want a lone unifying item, then it’s all about style, like “The Hobbit”.

  8. mr_noy says:

    For me, the sequels spoiled the satisfying conclusion of the original film, as well as the arc of Neo’s character. Throughout the film he questions, even resists, the idea that he’s The One. By the end of the movie he accepts his destiny. At this point, he ceases to be Neo and passes into legend. He becomes The One, a myth, a symbol for a larger movement, one who will inspire humanity to throw off their chains. And then he FLIES out of frame. Bad. Ass. That is until the sequels come along and ruin it.

    In the sequels, Neo is still Neo. He still has doubts and misgivings. He still talks like Keanu Reeves and he still can’t decide if he wants to be The One or not. If he’s not The One, then the Neo at the end of the first film is a self-deluded, presumptuous wannabe. Who can fly.

    The Neo of the first film didn’t destroy The Matrix. The machines are still out there and most of humanity remain unwitting slaves. The filmmakers give us Smith and the agents to boo at but there is no single, clearly defined antagonist to be destroyed. The Matrix is just a network of servers, mainframes, power supplies, etc. It’s too big, too interconnected for one man to take down. What The One CAN do is inspire people to choose, to act. Frankly, as a symbol, The One has no need for a physical existance. It’s enough to know The One is out there to show us the way. Look at Neo’s last lines in the film.

    NEO: I know you’re out there. I can feel you now. I know that you’re afraid… you’re afraid of us. You’re afraid of change. I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it’s going to begin. I’m going to hang up this phone, and then I’m going to show these people what you don’t want them to see. I’m going to show them a world without you. A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you.

    Now compare that to Tom Joad’s final words at the end of the film version of The Grapes of Wrath.

    TOM: I’ll be all around in the dark. I’ll be everywhere. Wherever you can look, wherever there’s a fight, so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad. I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry and they know supper’s ready, and when people are eatin’ the stuff they raise and livin’ in the houses they build, I’ll be there, too.

    By the end, both men have become more than flesh and blood. They have become ideas, and symbols of ideas that people can get behind. In Tom’s case, he becomes the mascot of The Common Man, the original Working Class Hero, a witness to all that is unjust in this world and of all that is worth fighting for. He says he’ll be there when people are fighting or starving; he doesn’t say he’s going to fight for them or feed them. How could he? He no longer really exists but WE do and when confronted with such situations we can try to do as Tom would and stand up for what is right. That’s beautiful.

    Now imagine how pointless a sequel to The Grapes of Wrath would be. Do we really want to see Tom try to get a job or stand in a picketline? That’s what the real Tom Joad would have to do. How could he ever live up to that powerful short speech in the dark? No, the filmmakers chose wisely to leave well enough alone. The character’s journey is complete and the story has ended at the most poetic, inspirational, emotionally satisfying moment. I wish the Wachowski brothers had made the same decision. If I want to see some great action, I might watch the sequels again. If I want a satisfying film experience then I’ll watch the original and pretend the sequels never happened.

  9. kornleaf says:

    2 things;
    as for the final matrix i lost all suspended disbelief just sitting there. It became laughable when trinity couldn’t die, even with the help of a large spike empailing her chest, for about 30 minutes.
    the second and third were spectacles with nothing to actually say but, “hey look at how cool our computer’s graphics card is!”

    the metaphor for dune; think, family fued set in the south; Hatfield-McCoy type thing, where, instead of Helen of troy (Roseanna McCoy) you have a precious resource that the hatfields have that the mccoy’s want. The local sherif, in league with the bank of the area, also want this precious resource, be it gold or water. so they try to play each of the families off each other.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I always thought that LOTR was a pretty direct metaphor for overcoming obstacles and fears in a world ready to destroy you despite your weaknesses. The ring represents life’s goals. Getting the ring to Doom is the achievement. Its Wagnerian scale is representation of life’s epic scale. At least that’s how I felt when I first saw it, and in memory.
    -rl

  11. mikeyed says:

    I’m kinda passionate about this, so be wary.

    I agree with mr noy, the second ones are unnecessary and spoil the first. I still liked The Matrix, but maybe cause I saw it as a twelve year old with my mom and afterward we went to IHOP and talked the whole thing over cause she didn’t necessarily grasp the whole concept (she kinda gets lost in movies). I really enjoy the first one, even now. It’s more of a movie to see when you’re a kid, though. Though, The Animatrix is as good if not better than the original. Everything else associated with the movie is crap. The religious references in the sequels are off-putting and awkward. The action sequences are nice and flashy, but I don’t like Keanu Reeves very much so that puts a damper on things. Just ignore the supposed metaphors in the sequels, it’s all ironically what the first was against, which is corporate crap to feed the masses. I only appreciate the sequels for prompting the creation of The Animatrix.

    The Matrix is a fine action sci-fi, with a nice message. Even if you can’t completely escape the drudgery of life, at least try to find your own way.

    Lord of the Rings, though, was flawed to begin with, since the books, in my opinion, aren’t all that great. I did really like the second one, though. The ents were the best part of the whole trilogy.

  12. noskilz says:

    I enjoyed all three films – but probably mostly because I never had any great expectations about them. For some reason, I really didn’t care for the promos for the first film, so I didn’t catch it until I happened to see it over a friend’s house much later. I did like it enough to catch the other two in the theater – and I really don’t care for the local theater(that dislike has matured into an a deep hatred.) As flashy, sci-fi adventures, they seem to work well enough.

    It seemed like some of the people I knew who really got really irked with the series seemed disappointed that when the credits rolled on the third film, no awesome revelations about life, the universe, and everything had turned up. This surprised me, as it didn’t occur to me to expect such a thing. I saw articles about the films in places like Ars Technica, but I just thought of those angles as interesting window dressing that helped make a convincing impression.

    I’d much rather have a movie put a lot of effort into building an interesting setting where a lot seems to be going on than one that doesn’t bother, but it also seems like if it convinces people there is more going on than maybe there is, some of them might get a tad irked.

    I could have done without that extended rave/make-out session in the last film, though.

    • Todd says:

      I could have done without that extended rave/make-out session in the last film, though.

      I’m with you, but I think the extended rave/make-out session must have been going on in the theater — in the trilogy, it occurs in the second movie. But that would explain why you dislike that theater so much.

      • noskilz says:

        Actually, the reason I hate my local theater is that it is a wretched hole. My memory is a little fried, so I doesn’t surprise me that I may have shuffled the placement – it definitley managed to register as something that went on long enough to hit the memorably tedious mark, however.

        The Highland 10’s bathroom is a disater area, a lot of the seats are broken, it smells(sort of a dingy, damp basement funk), and several years back was rennovated into a 10 screen multiplex, but at the cost of going from a theater with 4 large screens to one with 2 large screens and a 8 small screens. They’ve also got a bizarre flair for damaging prints(flaky equipement? Operator error?)

        I wish I knew someone who worked there – I assume there’s some reason for it’s many problems, but I have no idea whether they’re just scraping by financially or could care less or what. Whatever the reason, I do my best not to give them any of my money when I can help it, and with dvd release schedules being what they are, it isn’t hard to manage.

        • Todd says:

          It is stories like yours that, I believe, account for, to a substantial degree, the drop in attendance at US theaters.

          I used to live in NYC, and the theaters there were bad enough, but occasionally I would see a movie upstate in a mall theater and those places were just horrible — filthy holes with sticky floors, out-of-focus projection and ruined prints. This is, I’m afraid, the norm, and it’s why more and more people are willing to wait for a movie to come out on DVD. Why spend $10 on a movie ($20 if you’re on a date, $35 if you’re taking your family, $50 if you’re paying for baby-sitting) if you can see it on a nicer screen, with DVD extras, and you can pause it whenever you want to?

          With HD coming along, and more and more people getting large home-theater systems, studios would be well-advised to put pressure on theater chain owners to improve their locations or go out of business.

  13. seijiwolf says:

    Maybe I’m alone in this…

    I always thought that the Matrix films were a meta discussion on the war between style and substance; why else would a film pondering Big Philosophy resolve all of its issues with expensive gunfights and flashy kung-fu?

    If nothing else, it sort of explains the stop-start nature of the narrative.

  14. Anonymous says:

    It’s a film about resurrection, career that is:

    Keanu in “Johnny Mnemonic” 1995. Dies.
    Everything somehow there, but wrong. The artist-director. Ice-T. The special effects budget. “Bill and Ted” Keanu as almost ready for primetime action-figure. Almost able to almost act. Did I mention Ice-T? And much, much better script, somewhere hidden within the film.
    Sinks. Stinks. Not even cult status, etc.

    Keanu resurrected in “The Matrix”, 1999. Nowhere near the Gibson script in quality or hip-credentials, but everthing else is there in steroids, Keanu’s acting, fight scenes are good, s/f is very very good, and even multi-cultural factors.

    What the hell happened, did Keanu change agents? THAT is really all the came to my mind watching Matrix.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Psst–

    http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=102605

    Will you be involved in any way? Or were you?

  16. edo_fanatic says:

    And no one can forget the true central metaphor for Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure- I don’t even have to say it, it’s too obvious.