Sunday, 12 April 2009

"I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it."

Can it really be ten years since Keanu Reeves' Neo was offered the choice of the red and blue pills with the promise that, "Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself."

In the decade since Larry and Andy Wachowski unleashed their manga-influenced fantasy The Matrix upon an unsuspecting public, and in doing so pushed the boundaries of both mainstream action movies and special effects, very little has come close to achieving the same level of energy, excitement and cutting edge cool. Much like the character of Neo himself, The Matrix took us to a place that we, the audience, never knew existed. It wasn't just bullet-time, it was an attitude and style and a manner of filmmaking that hit a nerve with a world on the brink of a new millennium.

I remember seeing the trailer for it before a press screening at the old Warner Brothers' offices in London and felt my mind actually being blown. I saw the film itself a week or so later and didn't come down from it for an absolute age.

A couple of years later I found myself on a plane to Sydney, Australia to visit the set of the sequels, Reloaded and Revolutions, and I can't even begin to explain quite how excited I was. And while I never got to meet, much less speak to the Wachowskis despite spending four days on set, I felt incredibly privileged just to be there.

Alas the films themselves proved to be something of a disappointment — although I do like most of Reloaded — and it would be a while before I could revisit The Matrix again without thinking of the hideous dance sequence in part two or the majority of part three.

That said, The Matrix remains a modern classic and a favourite film of mine. I have so many "best bits", but here are just two.


J.D. said...

I remember when I bought my first home entertainment system and the first DVD I tested out on it was THE MATRIX and the lobby scene. Hearing that sequence in surround sound was something else.

Yeah, the first one is something else and really brought Cyberpunk into the mainstream in a big, big way. Obviously, a lot of the concepts and ideas that the Wachowskis examine were already covered in the works of William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, et al but to see them brought to life on the big screen was pretty mind-blowing at the time.

I still really like RELOADED but didn't care much for REVOLUTIONS, which was a mess of a film.

Did you like the Wachowskis' last film, SPEED RACER?

Mark Salisbury said...

I know I'm in the minority on SR, but I really liked it.

Gerard said...

Seriously still don't get the Speed Racer hate - it's excellent

Mark Salisbury said...

The Matrix was also one of the very first DVD titles I bought and it's starting to look that way too.

I've promised myself I won't buy anything on Blu-ray that I have on DVD, but now that The Matrix is available as a single BR I might have to bend my rules.

J.D. said...

Yeah, I really dug SPEED RACER as well. Maybe it was because my expectations were so long after the critical hammering it received, but I thought it was quite brilliant and had some of the most amazing visuals I've seen in a long time. I almost wonder if it will be the TRON of its time? Critically maligned but highly influential over the long run.

Mark Salisbury said...

I think Tron's a good comparison.

I didn't read any reviews before I went it and was — cliche alert — blown away by the visuals which were, as you say, quite brilliant.

adam.newell said...

I saw The Matrix at a pre-release 'movers and shakers' screening at (I think) the Curzon Soho. I was blown away by the movie - I have never been closer to literally leaping from my seat to punch the air than at the final shot of that film - but I was even more blown away by meeting Kylie at the party afterwards. Well, standing near her. Nick Rhodes was also there.

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