The Matrix Reloaded

dir. the Wachowski Brothers

Opens Thurs May 15 at

various theaters.

In the interest of complete honesty, I should point out here, smack at the beginning, that I was no big fan of The Matrix. In fact, outside of the slow-mo kung fu/wire work/"bullet time" shenanigans, I found the original film to be a silly, soul-crushing bore. The One? The Oracle? The Prophecy? Red and blue pills?--all could be found in various other triumphs and debacles of sci-fi fantasy, and as a result, the film, at least to me, felt like little more than a vacant homage built out of homages, littered with lame dialogue and stiff performances--albeit one with three or four Holy shit! moments scattered throughout.

Having confessed this, however, I would like to add that The Matrix Reloaded--which we all know, by now at least, is the midsection of a rather bloated trilogy--stunned me on more than one occasion. Put another way, it kicked my ass and, save for only a handful of miscues (beware the group tribal dance/Neo and Trinity humping in a cave montage), managed to do what I'd previously thought impossible: It made me a fan. Whether this spells doom for those Matrix-obsessed geeks out there is yet to be seen, but for those who found themselves in a similar cave-cruising hovership as me when the first film came out in 1999, I offer this: You will see cool shit like you wouldn't believe.

Unfortunately, this being the point in a review where we scribblers generally nutshell the film's plot, I find myself unable (given my word count) to fully boil the story down, and as a result I can only give glimpses, to wit: It is still not 100 percent decided whether or not Neo (played once again without vocal inflection by Keanu Reeves) really is "The One"; Zion, the underground city only described in the first film, is about to be attacked by an overwhelming number of Sentinels; Trinity and Neo are gooey with love for one another (see aforementioned humping/cave scene); and Agent Smith (the brilliant Hugo Weaving) has gone loco and somehow gained the power to duplicate himself at will. Oh, and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) seems to have gained about 50 pounds.

Now, I freely admit that the above plot points don't really offer much in the way of foreknowledge, but the story's various twists and transformations (for those who thought they knew where the series was going at the end of the first film: Trust me, you're going to be fairly bamboozled by Reloaded) don't really matter in the grand scheme, at least not to us who didn't really give a crap going in. The Wachowski Brothers--two über-geeks, evidently, who surely concocted the entire Matrix universe whilst scheming in their parents' basement--have veered the series' storyline sharply this time around, as what appeared to be true in the elder sibling is not necessarily true in the younger, but even if the story is still massively underwhelming (at least to me--the Matrix obsessives will undoubtedly wet themselves, and God bless them for it), the sheer audacity the Wachowskis bring to the screen for Reloaded can only be described as brilliance. Like I stated before, you will see cool shit like you wouldn't believe--cool shit that makes the original Matrix look like The Ice Pirates--and whether you buy into the Wachowskis' massive tale or not, any film that shows you something you've never seen before--indeed, never dreamed possible, really--is worth the effort. There is art that moves you, and art that awes you. The Matrix Reloaded, despite its flaws, is the latter.