FoRK-recommended: _The Matrix_

Rohit Khare (
Sat, 10 Apr 1999 02:03:34 -0700

[2:01 AM, Live from Sid's... hi Nikki! :-]

Roy and I just got out of the late show of _The Matrix_ at the Big
One, Edwards Newport Beach ("the largest screen West of the

As film goes, it was a fine 'high concept' plot ("What if the whole
world is really a simulation run by the Borg?"), written with all the
cliche and clunkiness of Hollywood-for-export-markets, and only
reasonably competent acting. Oh, and a killer techno/speed metal/pop

As moviemaking, though, it was a revelation. It appeared to be
technically flawless -- on a budget. The likes of _Jurassic Park_ and
_Toy Story_ surely are landmarks in film history, but it's the advent
of the run-of-them-mill movie with seamless effects that really
signifies the paradigm shift.

The budget went into a few shots of Sydney, a hell of a lot of
stunts, one _Alien 3_-like prison-techno-rusting-junkyard ship, and
the rest was practically all bluescreened into existence. To the
degree the film revolves around a synthetic parallel universe, Robin
Williams-vehicle _What Dreams May Come_ pioneered the marquee
CGI-approach. This time, though, it was utterly unheralded.

Whatever we might say for its overall dramatic pacing (~150 minutes),
at the micro-scale this film was fussed over frame-by-frame. It's a
child of a real post-Avid world. It's also about the triumph of
cinematographic style over substance: the entire thing is shot
underexposed, _Seven_-like.

As more than one friend commented, Keanu just sat there in the movies
and let things happen to him, Jesus complex or no; Laurence Fishburne
was gripping; the Linda Hamilton replacement was an emotionless babe
(by design); and it really, really needed Tommy Lee Jones as the AI

To a lesser degree, this film is also a personal favorite for its
hacker-theme, but that goes without saying. I doubt there will be a
single geek film as influential as _War Games_ was to its era (even
to the point of prompting all those mid-80's state computer crime
laws), but this could prove close (though _Sneakers_ looks like a
paragon of verisimilitude by comparison...)

Just go see it.
(but bring ear protection if you haven't stared a Gatling gun in the
face recently...)

PS. It's also the first movie with an easter-egg trailer. If you stay
to the very, very bitter end of the credits (we were the only two in
the entire cavernous hall at the time), they flash a 'secret'
password ("steak") for