Released between the two sequels in the summer of 2003, “The Animatrix” – a 100-minute DVD collection of animated shorts – fills in some gaps and gives us a fuller picture of the “Matrix” mythology. The storytelling is sharp, some written by the Wachowskis or based on a story by them, and the animation is consistently beautiful while running a gamut of styles. It’s not for fans strictly into the kung-fu fights or the main characters (who only make cameo appearances), but it’s a treasure trove for those who want new angles into the material and fewer gaps in the narrative.
Alot of “The Matrix Reloaded” and the first part of “The Matrix Revolutions” (both from 2003) get too philosophical, too talky, with the Oracle and other players inside the Matrix – for reasons of programming or whatever — not exactly being straight shooters as Neo (and we) seek information. But then the two ships split up – Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) going on their spiritual quest to the Machine City while Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith) head back to Zion to help with the fight – and “Revolutions” hits rarified blockbuster territory occupied by “Return of the Jedi” (1983) and “Avengers: Endgame” (2019).
The Matrix” (1999) is one of those sci-fi films that rewards people paying close attention; to understand the specifics of the world is to feel like we’ve become a smarter person. It’s a challenging task, but doable. “The Matrix Reloaded” (2003), on the other hand, calls out for one of those “Movie Explained” YouTube videos that are so ubiquitous nowadays.
The Matrix” was a cultural phenomenon when it was released on March 31, 1999. It elevated Keanu Reeves from movie star to superstar and introduced the world to “bullet time” (the slow-motion portion of an action scene). It was a critical and commercial success, spawning two sequels and a series of animated shorts. Does it hold up 20 years later? Let’s take a look:
“V for Vendetta” – This adaptation of Alan Moore’s famous comic book takes us to a not-too-distant future when England is ruled by an oppressive state. A masked rebel (or terrorist, depending on your viewpoint) named V (Hugo Weaving) and his charge, Evey (Natalie Portman), lead the resistance. Bravely, the film doesn’t tell the viewer which side to root for, and that makes it all the more compelling. If more blockbusters took their cue from “V,” moviegoing would be a lot more fun.
– John Hansen, Brainerd Dispatch, Dec. 28, 2006