Tue, Jan 16, 2018 07:37 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
Playing catch-up with 'Reloaded'
When dealing with a sequel, there is always a let down. We always tend to walk in expecting less simply because of the stigma of "the dreaded sequel." Sequels are movies that stand on their own and have some time between the first film and the last. X2 didn't let any time slip away from it. It started within days of the first film. Lord of the Rings is a true trilogy. Each film interconnects and we know the next film will continue the same story. Not true here. In The Matrix Reloaded, if you are expecting to see Neo, played by Keanu Reeves, straight after he hangs up the phone from warning the machines, you will be sadly let down.

We jump into the future and Neo now leads a group of humans fighting the machines. Trinity, played by Carrie-Anne Moss, is still his woman and is still a tough woman that most people would not want to meet in a dark alley. We have some new characters and this leads the audience to do some catch up. Perhaps that is the biggest problem with Reloaded is that all the momentum of the first film is lost. We are expected to catch up in just a few minutes and the Wachowski brothers, who wrote and directed the film, don't wait on us to catch up. We get thrown right into the action. For those who haven't seen the first film, they will find themselves hopelessly lost for a major part of the movie.

We also have missed the growth of some of the characters. For instance, Neo doesn't have the wonderment that marked the first film. He has gone straight from saying "whoa" every five minutes to being mature and acting like a veteran of the whole idea. This is a large leap from the ending of The Matrix where he had just figured out how to use his powers. Where did this maturity come from? We don't know because we haven't seen him turn into this stranger. Neo's relationship with Trinity is again a jump ahead. They are now obviously a couple and their love has deepened into more than just shared whispers and looks. Unfortunately, there are characters from the first movie that have completely disappeared and there are comments about some of them being gone or just plain dead. For those who love the first movie, it is an injustice to summarily wipe a character from the slate in favor of new ones. Morpheus, played by Lawrence Fishburne, is now strangely human and flawed. The man that seemed to be a father figure now has become more of a colleague. His mistakes show us a side of him we didn't previously see. Making him more human really was a good move, though. However, this development, along with others should have made the movie more human oriented. Instead, the story about humans fighting for their survival and Neo's attempt to understand himself get lost between the two films. We are not focused on Neo as the fight between human and machine escalates.

All this is not to say that the ground breaking special effects of the first film are gone. Instead, Reloaded continues on the same vein and makes some of the stunts fresh even though we have seen them more than one time since the first Matrix. For instance, the bullet trick is again shown, but seems fresh and new. We also get to see Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith. It is interesting that Weaving is in all three Matrix films and all three Lord of the Rings films. It is a testament to his acting ability that he is in six of the most profitable films of recent memory (let's face it the third part of both trilogies will be just as profitable as the first two films).

After all this negative stuff, you probably think I hated this movie. The weird thing is I liked it. The action and visual effects were great and it had just enough story to hold the whole film together. The reason there was so much negative stuff is because I was comparing it to the original. Unfortunately, that is a hazard when a sequel is released. The sequel invariably is compared to the original and most of the time it just doesn't compare. This is one of those cases. However, seen on its own without comparing it isn't a bad movie. It just suffers from a case of the curse of sequels.

4 suns

X2 continued to be the number one movie at the box office. The film is sure to lose that position when The Matrix Reloaded numbers come out next week. X2 garnered $40 million and raised its total to $147.7 million over its first ten days.

Daddy Day Care saw Eddie Murphy bounce back from Pluto Nash and gross $27.6 million. The family film was budgeted at $60 million and is expected to continue to perform strongly.

The Lizzie McGuire Movie dropped to third place. The film garnered $7.2 million and how has grossed $26.5 million.

Identity continues to confound audiences and garnered $6.5 million. The mystery film has grossed $39.4 million.

Anger Management continued to do well at number five and grossed $5.7 million. The Nicholson/Sandler flick has garnered $123.2 million.

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