Today, I finally discovered the problem I have with The Matrix; it's more interesting to discuss the ideas and concepts it talks about than actually spending two-and-a-half hours sitting in a cinema and watching the film. I love talking about the symbolism, the works it derives from, but I have no desire to see Reloaded ever again.
The freeway scenes are amazing; the end of that section has one of the greatest special effects shots that I've ever seen. But everything else seemed fairly limp: an overlong dance scene at the start which, despite the best efforts of the Wachowski brothers, ends up looking like the Ewok party scene from Return of The Jedi, several scenes where the film grinds to a complete halt while new characters deliver all-important expositional dialogue (with! comedy! evil! French! accents!), and some suspect CGI effects.
And then there's the fight scenes. All of which last about five minutes too long. The vaunted million-Smiths vs. Neo just goes on and on; after about three minutes you begin to get bored, because although it looks fairly impressive, nothing is actually happening — they're just swirling about. Instead of ending it there, the fight continues with Smith reinforcements. The CGI work starts to become obvious at this point (the repeated use of certain effect shots doesn't help either), spoiling the scene further. And then, after what seems like ten minutes, the fight…just ends. After such a long scene, I expect there to be consequences more than "ooh, look what the fuzzy elf guy can do now!"
That's not to say that the film was a total disaster; two twists towards the end made things more interesting, whilst at the same time throwing light on certain plot points from the first film, and I liked Persephone's throwaway line of "it's only a game" (which could be an Invisibles reference, but I'm most likely projecting). I also love the way the entire film is drenched in symbolism, from the pomegranate desert in front of Merovingian and Persephone, to the shattered dreams of Morpheus at the end of the film.
Let's hope that in the next film, the Wachowski brothers rein in some of the excess. Yes, I know that sounds silly considering it's a Hollywood blockbuster, but by excess I mean extending the action scenes to the point where they become irritating.
Feel free to post long, point-by-point annihilations of my review in the comment section. As I said, I enjoy talking about it…