Monday, March 29, 2010
How does one write about a movie one has neither liked nor admired? This is what all professional critics must be facing all the time. They see the movies they have to, and write about them. Their opinions must necessarily reflect what the films potential audience is likely to think about it, more than their own. That is economics. A blog writer is spared such constraints. He writes ultimately for himself. At best one can extend an apology to friends for whom it was not such a hard watch, at least when they saw it. But then to each his own meat. After all the reviews seem to be more favorable than otherwise. And I could be the wrong generation, which never advanced beyond car chases and fist-fights (with chairs hurled and tables tilted). What is the use of a fight which does not generate the"ouch!" reaction? Simpler weapons seemed more vicarious. After all, one can't more than die, be it a bullet or a laser thingy.
This is not a movie for those whom a film is an investment of precious hours of their lives. A bad film can be a well made one. This one isn't. It has nothing to say either to your head or heart. The acting is of the poorest and the plot pointlessly complex. The special effects in Terminator 2 and Minority Report or even Spielberg's War of the Worlds--the few yardsticks in my sparse SF arsenal--were, in contrast, astounding and novel. And yet some one has worked hard to earn the money that it did earn.
The plot in effect, grossly and probably not so accurately, simplified. In the film the life we are living is not really happening. You don't actually enjoy the food you enjoy, neither do you go for work, or have a family life. It's all a dream. Truth is, you are lying stupefied in some deep cavern with a myriad tubes poking out and ugly insect-like monster machines (see figure1) stabbing needles into you, and jellyish fluids sputtering all around. Your so called normal life is but a program running in your brain. Your function is as a mere source of electricity for the gang of computers named Matrix that has taken over the planet. And now is not now, but a hundred years or two ahead. Wars have obliterated the sun, and since electricity is the food of computers, what could be more handy than "growing" teeming humans in underground farms as a source of bio-electricity. Hence our afore-mentioned predicament. Throw in some leather jacketed good/bad guys/gals, heavy doze of Hong Kong style kung-fu, a sprinkle of plausible determinism vs freedom philosophy, lots of computerese, and the dish is ready for consumption.
The most striking scene was the vertigo inducing shot of the camera looking down a scaffolding a couple of dozen floors through the hero's eyes. For the rest it is a Tom and Jerry state of the art bashing exercise amidst deafening sound and fury. It is neither science, philosophy nor drama. Entertainment? Yawn is more apt. Of course, everything is grist to write about, so nothing is really wasted.
And could this mysterious pull be the Matrix himself who is sucking me into the second number in the trilogy (orgy?)?
PS: The NY Times review below can be strongly recommended as a brilliant piece.
Review: NY Times