“The Matrix” DVD
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Lawrence Fishburn, Carrie Moss, Hugo Weaving, Gloria Foster, Joe Pantoliano, Marcus Chong | Released: 1999
Film review by Scott Mowry | June 2008
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When the first "Matrix" movie hit the theaters in 1999, it was praised for its intense sci-fi story line, cutting edge visual effects and frenetic action scenes. Indeed, these elements of the film were so startling, and so revolutionary at the time of its release, that many other Hollywood films sought to blatantly copy its unique visual style.
But "The Matrix," and the eventual trilogy of films it spawned, is much more than a slick, intense sci-fi thriller. Oh, is it EVER much more than that!
"The Matrix" is a film that operates on many, many levels. But perhaps its most compelling aspect is that it visually dramatizes in a brilliant fashion, the struggle the human race goes through on a daily basis in coping with the understanding of what life is really all about.
The main character, Neo, played by Keanu Reeves, discovers, much to his shock and horror, that his own life is much different than the version he thinks he is living. In point of fact, his life is a complete and utter fabrication, projected on the screen of his mind like some sick and perverted joke.
He soon comes to realize that all of what he believes is real; his friends, his apartment, his job and his computer hacking exploits, are nothing but illusions that only appear to be real, but are in actuality being generated by computer programs. Holograms, if you will.
It is not until a mysterious figure named Morpheus, brilliantly played by Lawrence Fishburn, enters into Neo's life that he begins to deconstruct this illusion and embark upon a path to fulfill his ultimate destiny. And with Morpheus' passionate and unwavering faith, Neo is transformed from computer hacker nobody to savior of the human race.
In perhaps the single most pivotal scene, of many pivotal scenes of "The Matrix," Morpheus offers Neo the opportunity to understand the true nature of his life for the first time ever.
This dialogue between Morpheus and Neo hit me like a ton of bricks, so absolutely did I resonate with these thoughts.
"Let me tell you why you're here. You're here because you know something," he reveals to Neo. "What you know, you can't explain. But you feel it. You felt it your entire life. That there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad."
"Do you know what I am talking about(?), he asks Neo.
"The Matrix," Neo responds.
"Do you want to know what it is?," Morpheus questions Neo.
Morpheus goes on to explain that the matrix is all around him and embodies all that he senses and all that he experiences. "It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind from the truth," says Morpheus.
"What truth," wonders Neo?
"That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot feel or taste or touch. A prison for your mind," says Morpheus ominously.
Never before has a movie so gloriously captured the sense of disconnect and alienation that many, many people around the world have always sensed but could not put into words.
Morpheus eventually offers Neo a profound decision. "You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes."
From this moment on, Neo's so-called "life" is never the same as one illusion, after another, after another, after another is completely shattered from his perception of reality.
What Neo comes to learn about himself, his world and his place in it, is a journey of self discovery that may be unparalleled in all of cinematic history. Never has a film taken an audience on such a deep, unveiling of our concept of the so-called "real world."
It is this notion, this deconstruction of reality, perception and consciousness, is what makes "The Matrix" such essential viewing.
The idea that a film can liberate your perspective and visually and dramatically demonstrate that our very existence is plugged into some altered and phony reality where everything around us, everything that we experience is being manipulated by an unseen force that literally has us plugged into a holographic computer program--the matrix.
Some may be turned off by "The Matrix's" dark and edgy tone. Indeed, the writer/director team of brothers Andy and Larry Wachoski, sometimes overdo the martial arts fighting scenes and hardcore action, which tend to be somewhat intense and prolonged throughout the film. And the world in which the film inhabits is a grim and gloomy place, but if you can get past those elements, you will be deeply moved by the film's underlying message.
All in all, the Wachoski brothers must be praised for making as thought provoking, and as mind blowing a film as has ever been borne from a Hollywood studio.
The measure of a great film, or of a great work of art for that matter, is that it begins to make you think differently about your life than before you found it. And "The Matrix" does that triumphantly.
I didn't see "The Matrix" until months after its release, however I recently viewed it a second and then a third time. I was amazed at how it began to reveal new and brilliant insights than I had previously remembered it offering. That's the sign of a great film!
"The Matrix" was followed by a sequel film entitled "The Matrix Reloaded" in 2003 and then surprisingly, just a few months later it was accompanied by a third film entitled, "The Matrix Revolutions."
If you have not seen this film or only watched it when upon its release nearly ten years ago, I would urge you to watch it another time. Given how the planet has been undergoing a massive shift in consciousness, you might be amazed at the pearls of wisdom this film offers a second time through. Particularly at this time.
This is a classic of a movie in every sense of the word and it will be cited as a point when cinema started to unravel the mystery of life and give us a peak inside the control room. Inside the inner workings of reality and perception, truth and fiction.
And that is quite an accomplishment. For a movie.
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