The Matrix: Revolutions Rated R for language, violence and brief sexual content Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Hugo Weaving Directed by: The Wachowski Brothers What can I say about this film series? Except maybe “thank heavens it’s over.” I am a huge fan of the original film. It was original, created a unique and wonderful new reality, has its share of good action and visuals, and raised some interesting thoughts for discussion afterwards. The sequel was less than stellar, but like so many second films, it didn’t really seem to have its own story and instead of being content with that (see The Empire Strikes Back), it tried to force a climax and sense of closure at the end of the film. What resulted was this bizarre bit about the “Architect” that seemed, well, pointless and silly. Now we have the conclusion in “Revolutions.” So how does it stack up against the previous outings? Better than “Reloaded”, although I’d suggest that isn’t saying too much. No where near as good as the original. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with a quick plot summary (trying not to give too much away). When we left our crew last time, Neo was in a coma. Turns out Neo has been separated from his body. He is “unplugged” from the matrix, but his mind is still inside – or more accurately trapped between the two worlds. Not too surprisingly, Morpheus and Trinity go after him. But to get to him, they need the help of the Merovingian – the none-to-friendly Frenchman you may recall from the previous outing. I don’t think I’ll be giving anything away to say that Neo is reunited with his body. After a quick visit to the oracle, Neo declares he knows what needs to be done and then says he needs to be alone for a while. Just a convenient way to put that story on hold as we cut between Agent Smith continuing his quest to infect everyone he meets making more of himself and the residents of Zion preparing for the imminent attack of the machines. Turns out, Neo thinks the only way to end the conflict is for him to visit the machine city (why do machines need a city?). So, he and Trinity head off alone on their quest, while Morpheus, Niobi and their crews rush back to Zion in an attempt to help in the battle that has started there. To say much more would give the plot away too much, so let me summarize in very vague terms. Agent Smith acquires some new abilities, and so does Neo. They fight in both worlds and….I really don’t need to tell you who wins do I? Although this film has a stronger plot that the last, plot was still my biggest gripe here. We spent the whole last film building up the Merovingian and getting him sufficiently ticked off at Neo and crew for a payoff that is decidedly anticlimactic. They try to recapture the nifty scene from the first film where Neo and Trinity storm the building lobby in an attempt to rescue Morpheus, but it feels just like that – a cheap imitation. The pacing is pretty uneven and there are several sequences where I found myself wishing the characters would just shut up and let the story start moving again. The battle for Zion is nothing terribly original or exciting – complete with the battle hardened captain, the too-young recruit turned hero, and nearly every other war movie stereotype you can name. And, I must comment on the machines…..for being these supposedly highly intelligent creatures with nearly infinite resources at their command, they sure don’t know how to use their strengths. The battle for Zion should have been over long before it is. And for knowing what they are up against, the people of Zion seem amazingly unprepared to deal with a machine threat. And finally, there is too much of an attempt to make this a deep, thoughtful film. The original Matrix spawned so many interesting conversations because of its post-modern self view. It didn’t try to explain all the theory or walk you through the though processes. It just showed people living in that reality. In revolutions, you get the sense that the film makers are trying to be conversation starters again, but they accomplish this by long dialogues that serve no real story purpose and feel like a philosophy lesson. They break the cardinal rule of film-making: show don’t tell. There is too much telling here and the story suffers as a result. And the ending….you’re kidding right? That’s how it ends? That’s what was going on? I’ve taken the pieces we were given and it just doesn’t add up to me. If I had to sum up the conclusion in a word, it would be “cheesy.” Performances in this film are mediocre at best with one possible exception. The actor (Ian Bliss?) who spends most of his screen time doing an impression of Hugo Weaving’s Agent Smith is dead on. And, Weaving himself, does a nice job as Neo’s nemesis. But that’s about it. Keanu Reeves is ever the block of wood on screen. This worked fine in the original where he was a clueless and somewhat shell-shocked new entrant into a world he didn’t know existed. But the blank stare and monotonic delivery just don’t work any more. His character has grown, but the performance beneath it has not. Few others have enough screen time to really bear mention here, but no one really stands out either. The action pieces in the film are loud, but not much else. The producers seemed have shown us all their tricks in the first couple of outings and there isn’t anything here that we haven’t seen before – and in many cases, we’ve already seen it done better. And someone please tell Hollywood that computer animation still isn’t ready. Give me green screens and wire-fu with real people any day. The computer bits stick out like a Chewbacca at a Smurfs convention. The film does have it moments, but they are few. I saw this in a nearly full theater. There were only 2 times I heard the crowd react to humor on the screen and there was no reaction to anything else. No “oohs” and “ahhs”, no cheering, no anything. When it was over, people hustled out. And that’s exactly how I felt. The original Matrix will remain one of my favorite films, but “Revolutions”, like “Reloaded” won’t even make it onto my DVD shelf. I give “The Matrix: Revolutions” 2 stars out of 5.