Introduction: Personal Motivations

Like any other science fiction movie fan, the original Matrix movie left me in awe. And unlike most who saw it, I was even more impressed by the second movie. It seems to me that those who were less impressed by Reloaded had unfair expectations for it. After all, the premise of the movie was already given away by the first movie. It wasn't a sequel, it was a continuation.

As a continuation of the story in the first movie, I don't see how the second movie could have been made significantly better. It had more action, more suspense, many more interesting characters, more mystery, more love, more philosophy, more everything. The anticipation for release of the third Matrix movie rivals that of any movie ever released in history, thanks to the mysterious and totally unpredictable twists found in Reloaded. These twists and mysteries created intense anticipation for the third movie among all Matrix fans, in hopes of getting these twists and mysteries resolved.

When I first watched Matrix Revolutions in the theater, my hopes of getting answers were shattered. Not only were the questions from Reloaded still lingering, Revolutions seemed to create even more unanswered questions for me than I began with. I remember thinking, "That must be why it's called Revolutions and not Resolutions."

I was also extremely disappointed that the Matrix story seemed to do a complete 180-degree turn, leaving the realm of science fiction, where logical explanations can be found for everything, and entering the realm of religion, where miracles can be used as a way to make any desired plot line happen, no matter how impossible. It seemed the Wachowskis were given a science fiction movie-making gift that they promptly flushed down the toilet with the third movie.

I wasn't the only one who felt this way:

"Neo has left the Matrix only to land in an episode of Touched by an Angel. How did something that started out so cool get so dorky?" - Manohla Dargis (LA Times)

However, as I watched all three movies in sequence several times and thought more about them, I noticed little pieces of the puzzle scattered throughout the entire trilogy - pieces of the movie that not even the best movie critic would ever get upon first or even second watching. Every time I watched the movies, I was able to fit more of these pieces together, and my previously unanswered questions made more and more science fictional sense to me. Now, the third movie no longer leaves me feeling unsatisfied like it used to. In fact, at first, the third movie did absolutely nothing for me emotionally at the end, and now I know why: my mind was too occupied and bothered by unanswered questions to "get into" the ending. But now that my mind is able to relax since the issues are resolved, I have found the ending to the third movie to be very powerfully moving.

Today, I can't help getting angry at many movie critics. On one hand, I realize they don't have hours upon hours to dig until they thoroughly understand a sophisticated movie. But on the other hand, if people who are paid to deliver educated, professional opinions about movies don't have time to dig into a movie, then who the heck does? And who should be punished for this failure? Unfortunately, it is the Wachowskis who pay the price for their own genius, while movie critics collect checks for each article they write, even if their articles dismiss works of art out of their own ignorance. This is a most frustrating punishment and reward system. The Wachowskis deliver the final movie in a masterpiece trilogy, and critics profit from demonstrating how little they know about it. I take refuge in knowing that I too felt the same way that these critics felt, and only my genuine curiosity and open-mindedness allowed me to expand my understanding of the movies enough to finally recognize how ignorant I was. Critics simply don't know what they don't know.

If you want to feel the same about the movies, read this site. I can't change your personal taste, so if you didn't like the cyberpunk theme, if you couldn't stand Keanu Reeves, if you don't like black trench coats, etc., then this website probably won't change any of that. But if you think the third movie was worse than the other two movies, I guarantee that you are gravely mistaken. Read this site.

My Own Appreciation

I truly believe the Wachowskis have produced perhaps the best set of movies ever made. The trilogy, judged by standards within the movie genre, is easily analagous to the greatness of any Beethoven sonata judged by standards within the music genre. And when I say this, I refer only to the surface level (premise/story, acting, directing, CGI, music), which is what this website is mostly devoted to. When one goes beneath the surface, I couldn't say it any better than this quotation from this Sparknotes article:

The Matrix films abound with references to pop culture, philosophy, religion, classic literature, myths, and other films. In making the Matrix trilogy, the Wachowski brothers drew on imagery and ideas from Greek mythology, Gnosticism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Nihilism, Taoism, comic books, the works of René Descartes, Homer’s Odyssey, Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation, Kevin Kelly’s Out of Control, and Dylan Evans’s Introducing Evolutionary Psychology. Actors from all over the world contributed their efforts to the films, and the cast is meant to represent a wide cross-section of humanity. In this mishmash of ideas, cultures, religions, and nationalities, cultural theorists of every stripe, religious scholars of all religions, and sci-fi fans all over the world have seen their own pet ideas reflected. The Wachowski brothers insist that the trilogy is not meant to reflect one consistent set of symbols or any single religious or philosophical system. Instead, they claim, the films draw upon an eclectic array of sources in order to forge a new, universal mythology.

While the Matrix films have also been remarkably influential in their own right, they have spawned several collections of philosophical essays, semester-long college courses, and endless debates and discussions. The “bullet-time” special effect pioneered by visual effects supervisor John Gaeta was instantly mimicked in television advertisements for cars and other products and has been spoofed in parodic films, both animated and live action. The Matrix films inspired an onslaught of commercial products, including video games, clothing, and comic books. The Matrix DVD became the first release to outsell its VHS copies and was instrumental in fueling the development of a burgeoning DVD industry. The Wachowskis were attuned to the cross-market potential of their films, and between The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions they created a series of animated shorts called The Animatrix, some of which give important background information for the films, and a video game called Enter the Matrix.

With its countless references, cross-references, riddles, and enigmas, the trilogy seems to raise more questions than it answers, creating a sense of frustration that the filmmakers gleefully acknowledge. The Wachowskis have said that one of their primary goals was to make an action movie that would make people think, and because the movie is based on the idea that knowledge frees us, we are left to figure much of it out for ourselves. The directors are careful not to produce clear-cut answers to the problems they raise. Sometimes understanding the Matrix films is less about knowing exactly what’s going on and more about knowing what questions you’re supposed to ask. As Trinity tells Neo when she first meets him, “It’s the questions that drive us.”

References to The Matrix are everywhere - from philosophy courses at York College and University of Washington in Seattle to search engine optimization marketing e-mails, The Matrix has become a true part of American and even world culture.

A Movie for Every Need

To further appreciate each movie, realize that each one satisfies a different part of our cinematic cravings:

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