Directed by: Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski
Written by:Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Harold Perrineau
Released: May 16, 2003
Grade: B+

The Oxford English dictionary defines hype as the “intensive promotion of product”.  In Hollywood circles hype is more accurately defined as “money”.  It’s the new craze for big studios – spread the early word through the internet, commence the phenomenally large media campaign, have the film open on a record number of screens, and then sit back and watch people book tickets weeks in advance as they panic with the thought they might not be able to see it on the opening weekend.

For any knowledgeable filmgoer, the problem here is that people talk more about a film before seeing it rather than after seeing it.  Is this a problem?  This time next week, The Matrix Reloaded will be a faded memory and all that will be heard is the hype for the next “must see movie of the year”.  On an unrelated matter, 2 Fast 2 Furious is released on June 5 and The Hulk is released on June 26.   The only film I can recall that had massive hype both before and after its release was 1997’s Titanic which still stands as the highest grossing film ever.

Back now to The Matrix Reloaded and it is a pretty good film.  It’s nothing more than that.  I do recommend it and have much positive to say but please, let’s keep things in perspective.  If you can’t recall many details from the original The Matrix, you either need to head to the video store or forget about seeing this.  It’s a complicated premise and creators Andy and Larry Wachowski don’t waste time rehashing past events.

I stress the point again that this story is intricately complicated.  Having heavily criticised the toilet humour and general unintelligence lacing so many American flicks of recent years, you’d think I’d be munching my popcorn with extra fervour at the thought of a film which reverses this trend.  It is a matter of judgement from one person to the next but I concede that despite listening enthusiastically, I found the philosophical dialogue too heavy to fully comprehend.

As intelligent as the film’s concept is and as unique as the Wachowski brothers are, the film still applies unoriginal formulas.  The key actions sequences are evenly spread throughout the film.  One person can still beat off many attackers.  Someone can fire a truckload of bullets and still miss.  I stand by my comments from 1999 that the amazing special effects do mask the limitations in the screenplay.

Before I become too negative, there is much to be excited about.  The special effects are the finest ever seen.  The best illustration is found during a lengthy scene where Keanu Reeves battles a large number of enemies who all look like Hugo Weaving.  Computers are wonderful tools but for a film critic, it creates a new problem.  Should I be praising the performance of actor Hugo Weaving in playing so many characters or should I be praising the visual effects crew for generating so many lifelike computer images?  The same can be said for a dazzling highway chase sequence but real or not, they sure got my heart pumping.

To address the film’s plot, we once again follow Neo (Reeves), Trinity (Moss) and Morpheus (Fishburne) in their quest to save the human race and uncover more secrets of the matrix.  As they battle an endless stream of enemies, their underground world of Zion remains under threat from giant machines who are tunnelling their way through the Earth’s crust.  To be honest, very little is resolved as the bulk of the drama has been saved for the final film, The Matrix Revolutions, to be released in Australia on November 6.  The hype is scheduled to begin on October 16.