Okay, over the past few months, I've developed some severe brain constipation considering the Matrix. Now that I've seen the new movie, it's time to really let a huge backload of mental diarrhea spew into the toilet bowl of my blog. So, here's a huge Q & A on The Matrix series. Movie and game spoilers abound, so read at your own risk. Of course, there's nothing here about the game you couldn't find out on your own. I wouldn't want to violate any NDA's.

  1. Q: What happened to Tank?
    A: This should explain a few things. So, I'm guessing that the Matrix story is not so set it stone that it can't be reconfigured to deal with real-world Hollywood politics. Which is a good thing, since I felt that Link was the most appealing character in Reloaded, providing the film's most memorable and amusing lines, "Where my pussy at?"

  2. Q: Why didn't the Twins turn ephemeral and escape from their SUV after Morpheus slashed their tires?
    A: They were too busy marveling at what a bad-ass Morpheus is. That sequence was probably the sweetest thing that happened in the whole movie.

  3. Q: Why didn't Neo just jump inside those agents at the beginning and make them explode like he did to Smith at the end of the first film?
    A: Because Neo thinks doing all that kung-fu is fun, even if it means endangering the lives of his fellow rebels. It's a good thing he didn't though, after what happened with Smith. What would have happened if he'd jumped inside the new Smith? He'd probably give Smith the ability to reproduce asexually. Eeewwwww...

  4. Q: Does Neo ever visit his family and friends in the Matrix?
    A: I guess not. He's too busy being the savior of Zion. I'm sure that he took the time to hunt down and beat on all the people who made fun of him in high school, though.

  5. Q: The philosophy man! What about the philosophy of The Matrix?
    A: Okay, the first Matrix film dwelled mostly upon whether or not we can be sure of reality, and to a lesser extent, whether it is preferable to know the truth or remain blissfully ignorant. In Reloaded, the main theme seems to be whether our fates are predetermined or if we have free will.

    These are both very interesting philosophical musings, but they are just rhetorical in the end. Is the world real? Do we have free will? The answer to both, in terms of practicality is, it doesn't matter. Our perception of the world as being real is just as good as it being real, and the illusion of free will would be just as good as genuine free will.

    The character of Cypher in the first film was, I thought, one of the most compelling ones. He embodied the viewpoint that the perception of reality is just as good as reality itself and provided a valid counterpoint to Morpheus' idea that to know truth was more important. Of course, he was bad person, since he wanted to sell out his whole crew, but his desire to return to the Matrix is certainly understandable. That is one of the problems with the Matrix series in terms of philosophy. The Wachowskis provide characters who espouse each side of any given issue, but cast one side as heroic and good, and the other as totally evil. On the side of truth being better than comfort we have Morpheus. On the side of ignorance is bliss we have the agents. On the side of free will we have Neo, on the side of predestination we have Smith ("It's inevitable"), The Merovingian ("cause and effect") and the Architect.

    Viewed objectively, I would say that the Agents and the entire machine race were the good guys, and Morpheus, Neo and co are the bad guys. Consider: The humans and machines were at war (watching the Second Renaissance will certainly show that the humans were not innocent victims), the humans nuked their own planet to blacken the sky. The machines, while probably capable of annhiliating all of mankind, instead chose to keep them alive and complacent inside the Matrix so that they could get energy from their bodies (the paralells between the body towers and modern-day factory farms are pretty blatant). The architect says that it would be possible for the machines to survive without the humans, but they would prefer not to.

    On the other hand, Neo and Co. gun down countless numbers of security guards who are only doing their job protecting office buildings or power plants or what have you. They don't bat an eye at the multitudes of people who must have been killed during that car chase. They pluck gifted folks from the relatively pleasant world of the Matrix and bring them into Zion, where the menu consists of grey mush and the clothes are all disgusting.

    I would have liked to see more moral issues addressed, such as a character who perhaps feels that the wanton slaughter of innocent security guards and freeway drivers isn't morally justified by the rebel's desire to destroy the Matrix. I would have liked to see a faction that represents Cypher's view that the Matrix was, in fact, more pleasant than knowing the truth. Anything at all from which the viewing audience could take away a lesson would be desirable.

    At least it does get people interested in philosophy though. It's certainly sparked a number of debates. If only they showed a recommended reading list after the end of the credits.

    In the end, though, I feel that it really is an action movie. I hear a lot of people say, "I really appreciate the Matrix for its philosophical leanings. The action is just there to draw in the hoi polloi." This statement sounds to me an awful lot like "I read Playboy for the articles." Personally, I saw it for the art direction. Plus I heard Trinity got naked.

    Speaking of which, I wonder if Zionites ever get their plugs caught together when they do it? Personally, I'd go for a construct every time. I mean, why do it in a nasty old bed (oddly enough, Zion seems to sport some pretty advanced technology, but no laundry machines or sewing kits) when you can fuck straight up a wall?

  6. Q: Enter the Matrix has been out for almost a week now. Why haven't any of the major game sites reviewed it yet?
    A: E3, I'm guessing, but you'd think such a majorly anticipated release would have generated a review by now. I'm interested to see what the gaming world thinks of it. So far, everyone I know who's played it has liked it.

  7. Q: In the game, Cain and Abel obtain the Key that is meant only for the one, but neither Ghost nor Niobe ever gets it backā€¦ what's the deal?
    A: It's not totally clear, but in one cutscene, the Merovingian is shown destroying the Key. I guess the keymaker made another one.

  8. Q: What's up with all the made-up names in Zion? Why don't people just use their real names?
    A: I imagine that it's a similar reason to why many many African-American muslims change their last name to "X". They don't feel that their "Matrix name" has any meaning, and they want to start a new life. Or perhaps they want a name that better reflects their new self, a la the names in X-Men. On a related note, to paraphrase Paris: If there's 250,000 people in Zion, wouldn't they start running out of good names after awhile? I mean, Neo and Trinity and Morpheus and so forth sound fine, but after a while all the good ones would be taken. People would have to name themselves things like Krunk or Cheesemaster, or perhaps they'd go the AOL route. "I used to be known as Tim Branch, but now my Zion name is '9incher4U6969'."
    Additionally, everyone who used the handle "Neo" before the first movie was released is now really agitated.

  9. Q: How long before Neo and Trinity break up?
    A: Neo seems to have some very poor communication skills. It shouldn't be that hard for him to tell Trinity, "I had a dream about you jumping out a skyscraper window and dying.", but he chooses not to. Good thing that Trinity is so complacent and doesn't ask for explanations for why she cant' follow him into the Matrix. Neo also won't tell Morpheus who told him that the prophecy was a lie ("It doesn't matter. I believed him"). Probably he was getting back at Morpheus for that whole, "No one can be told what the Matrix is" bullshit.

    However, Persephone (get it? Cause the Greek Persephone had to live in Hades with Hades! And it sucked!) says that the Merovingian was once like Neo. We can surmise that Persephone was once like Trinity, then. Perhaps they will stick together and live in a loveless, stifling union for a long long time.

  10. Q: Neo can stop swarms of bullets in mid-air, and telekinetically bring weapons off the wall and into his hands. Why can't he prevent doors from closing?
    A: Uhhhmmm... they're... magic doors?

  11. Q: If all of the slow-motion scenes in Reloaded were played in real-time, how long would the film be?
    A: Approximately 20 minutes.

  12. Q: What is The Matrix?
    A: Control. I mean uh... a genius example of select appropriation and "hyper-marketing", which is to marketing as hypertext is to text. Only instead of clicking a link to find out more, one opens one's wallet. If you're wondering who the hell that kid who idolizes Neo so much is, that's because the film didn't mention it, buy the Animatrix DVD to find out. If you're wondering how Zion discovers the Sentinel army, that's because the film didn't mention it, either shell out $9 to see Dreamcatcher or buy the Animatrix DVD. (You'll note that Flight of the Osiris was not played before Matrix Reloaded, that'd be too convenient). If you're wondering what Locke's plan to defeat the Sentinel army was, and why he needed all the ships, that's because the film didn't mention it, buy the Enter The Matrix video game to find out. If you're wondering who sabotaged Soren's ship (allowing the Sentinels to destroy it and thus preventing Soren and Co from disabling the emergency backup network), again, buy the game. Okay, maybe The Matrix really is control.

  13. Q: Did you like Reloaded?
    A: Yeah. I suppose. I wasn't blown away by it, but I wasn't disappointed either. I really do prefer the first film, mostly because it's a complete, self-contained story, but I have to admit I'll probably end up buying the DVD eventually and watching the car chase over and over. If I had to describe Reloaded in one word, I'd say it was overwhelming, perhaps unfocused (kind of like this article). Let's see, it has kung-fu, gun-fu, giant robots, vampires, werewolves, ghosts, hovercrafts, car chases, superheros, swordfighting, a dance sequence, and a giant industrial steampunk city. New characters include Link, Ice, Ballard, Soren, Zee, The Kid, Seraph, The Merovingian, Cain, Abel, Persephone, Niobe, The Twins, Locke, The Keymaker, and The Architect. I think my point is clear.

  14. Q: What would you like to see in Revolutions?
    A: Okay, here's my interpretation. Currently, the analogy stands that the Matrix itself is like an operating system, with Neo as a hacker, manipulating it to his own whims. What I think may be the case, after that whole confusing sequence with Neo and the Architect, is that the "Real World" (where Zion lies) is the operating system, and the Matrix is like an emulator. In other words, that the Real World is simply another Matrix, created so that the 1% of humans who are unsatisfied with the Matrix can feel like they are actually doing something to combat it, and the machines can still get another 250,000 people worth of electricity ( and would also explain how Smith can possess that one dude in the "real world"). I imagine that this will become a popular theory, and it'd be pretty neat, if at the end of revolutions, everyone was unplugged from both matrices and the real real world was actually quite utopian.

    I would also like to see Morpheus revealed as an agent of the machines. After all, he's the one who's pushing the whole "Neo as messiah" concept so hard, and it's been established that the whole prophecy was a setup.

    And I would like to see slow-mo kung-fu sex. I mean, what the hell, they've already got an R-rating, might as well roll with it.


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