The Matrix Revolutions (2003) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Rolling Stone put it bluntly and succinctly:

At the risk of understatement, The Matrix Revolutions sucks. It's not that the final chapter in the trilogy doesn't have stunts and visual wizardry to drop your jaw. It's just that it all adds up to a supersize nothing: "the big bubkis," to lift a bit of Yiddish from the script by Andy and Larry Wachowski ...  Morpheus and Niobe are piloting a tin-can hovercraft through a sewer line, shaking their bodies to mimic a bumpy ride in a scene that would shame Ed Wood. was even more to the point:

 ... whatever third movie you envisioned in your head, no matter how lame, has got to be better than this.

Amen, brothers. Amen.

Once upon a time there was a film called The Matrix, which came from nowhere to dazzle the world with a great concept and a stunning combination of innovative special effects and archetypal characters. It was a fairly simple movie which featured two worlds:  earthly and virtual. In the virtual world, humans seemed to be living their lives as we live them now but, in effect, that entire construct was simply a computer program (the matrix) being fed into the heads of humans who were simply being harvested for energy by machines. In the real world, the earth had grown black and dreary, covered with the infernal machines, and the very few conscious humans left on the planet were living far underground, trying to escape detection and their seemingly inevitable vanquishment. The real humans occasionally penetrated the computer program in order to accomplish various tasks related to their hope for the eventual liberation of mankind.

Not really that confusing at all.

In the sequels, all sense of coherence is abandoned, and there are layers upon layers of reality. Have some of the machines, all looking like Agent Smith, turned against the program for some singular purpose? Or is that what the program would like us to believe? Are there other humans who live outside the Matrix? Do some of them have to do with the very creation and upkeep of the matrix? Perhaps even the humans who live outside the matrix are simply more computer illusions designed by the program to combat the natural human desire for freedom? Perhaps when a human mind struggles for freedom from the matrix, he is cast into matrix 2, where he gets the illusion that he is free from the matrix? And who the hell are the psychic and the architect and the Frenchman? Are they real? Are they part of the matrix? Are they part of the unproven matrix 2? Is this a middle word between the matrix and reality?

I was one of the few who liked Matrix Reloaded, except for the interminable fight scenes which defied all logic. Ol' Keanu would fight someone to a virtual standstill until he decided to use his REALLY super-duper powers to triumph or leave immediately. Why didn't he just start the fight on the higher level and avoid wasting his time? Because the movie would have been too short. Fight scenes padded it out to a feature length. There were some confusing elements of Reloaded, but I thought, "OK, it's a middle chapter. Its very job is to intrigue us with mysteries to be clarified in number three."


Number three is just confusing gibberish. I watched it to hear the explanations and to see how everything got resolved.

I still have no idea.

The following chart says it all:

  % positive reviews gross ratio *
Matrix 87 $171 7.4
Matrix Reloaded 73 $281 3.1
Matrix Revolutions 37 $139 2.9

* ratio is the total gross divided by the opening weekend gross. Great word of mouth results in a high ratio.



To follow a $281 million dollar film with a $139 million dollar film is improbable under any circumstances, but seems downright impossible when the high-grossing middle chapter includes cliffhangers to be resolved in the third one. Didn't people care how it came out?

There are some explanations for that:

  • The $281 million gross for #2 was misleading. That really represents four years of anticipation and a sense that it was a must-see follow-up to one of the greatest films ever made. (The Matrix is rated #32 of all time at IMDb.) The actual advance demand for #3 wasn't as great as might be indicated by the big box office for #2. The Matrix Reloaded, number 2 in the series, was already the focus of a lot of disrespect.  Indicating a lower level of interest than expected, the third one only grossed $48 million in its opening weekend, about half of what the second one grossed.

  • The word of mouth on #3 itself couldn't have been much worse, so the disappointment at the starting block was reinforced by an even more disappointing distance run. You saw the comments from Rolling Stone and Need Coffee above. Those are the kinds of comments people were making at their water coolers at work. To use an old saw, "people stayed away in droves".

To answer my original question, most people didn't care how it all came out, and if they did care enough to see number three, they still don't know how it all came out ...

... and they told their friends to stay away.

DVD info from Amazon

  • Documentaries: REVOLUTIONS RECALIBRATED: The making of the movie, including a segment on "Neo Realism: The Evolution of Bullet Time"

  • Documentary: CG REVOLUTION: The special effects, including a segment Super Big Mini-Models

  • Featurette: SUPER BURLY BRAWL: Behind the final Neo/Smith showdown, including the segments Double Agent Smith and Mind Over Matter: The Physicality of The Matrix

  • Other: BEFORE THE REVOLUTION: A 3-D Matrix timeline

  • FUTURE GAMER: THE MATRIX ONLINE: an introduction to the massively mulit-player game

  • Photo gallery: 3-D EVOLUTION: Multidimensional stills gallery

  • Widescreen anamorphic format

  • Number of discs: 2

Because it was a film that was both mentally and physically sloppy, filled with as many continuity problems as it was with logic problems, some reviewers expressed outright anger at the poor quality of this film.

I couldn't bring myself to feel that. All I could feel was a sense of sadness for how much difference there was between what this film was and what it might have been, and an even greater sadness for the Wachowski brothers, who seemed to be on top of the world in the Spring of 2003, when they were known as the makers of one of the fifty best films of all time, and had been ranked #27 in Premiere's annual Power 100.

The Wachowskis' previous film before The Matrix had grossed less than four million dollars, so by the time Matrix Reloaded was about to be released, it must have seemed to them as if they had actually managed to grasp the heavens. They seemed to have achieved every dream they could ever have had for their lives and then gone far beyond that. Now they are in danger of becoming the Phillip Michael Thomas story of their generation - going from nowhere to superstardom and universal recognition, only to disappear right back into their former obscurity when their 15 minutes expire. Unless they can pull a massive rescue job on their careers, they can forget about those power lunches with Tom Cruise and Spielberg, and should start hoping that Screech and Danny Bonaduce will take their calls.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Superpanel-consensus two and a half stars. James Berardinelli 2.5/4, Roger Ebert 3/4.

  • British consensus one and a half stars: Mail 1/10, Telegraph 2/10, Independent 3/10, Guardian 4/10, Standard 1/10, Sun 7/10, Express 7/10, Mirror 8/10, BBC 3/5

  • It was nominated for a Razzie for Worst Director.

The People Vote ...

  • Box Office Mojo. It grossed $139 million in the USA, $285 million overseas. The budgets were: production $150 million, marketing: $35 million.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C-. It is only that high because genre nuts have to see it to find out how the trilogy gets resolved. Of course, I did see it, and I still don't know that answer, so there you go. It is a poor movie.

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