Now blogging at diego's weblog. See you over there!

off to see...


...The Matrix Revolutions. But before I go, a few thoughts. I have avoided reading reviews and comments and such, but that doesn't mean I can shut down my brain. :)

The other day I watched The Matrix and a couple of things caught my eye. First, Tank, the operator of the Nebuchadnezzar, survives the final attack at the end of the first movie. But in the second, he's dead. Why? How? Unknown. (Dozer, his brother, died in the first attack. Link, their brother in law, is the operator in Reloaded. I say brother in law though this in never clear--his wife/girlfriend is definitely sister of both Tank and Dozer, so I assume she's not Link's sister too... :-))

The more I hear "Zion", the more I think about "Zero-One", or 01, the machine city shown in The Second Rennaisance. Connection?

The Zion control room, which we see in Reloaded (which I saw again recently), all white and pristine, is actually run as part of a Matrix-like construct. We see the people plugged in for a few seconds... I don't know why I didn't notice that before. Without that information, the whole control room thing feels weird.

The monitor that watches Neo in the first movie, as he is questioned by the agents. It looks like one of the Architect's monitors no? Plus, in one of the trailers of the first movie, there was Neo but in the real world seen through those same monitors. Coincidence?

Unrelated but not much: here's an interesting Wired article about the Wachowski Brothers and their penchant for secrecy.

I have mentioned before how ridiculous the whole "Broadcast a pirate signal to hack into the Matrix" is ... but let's say for a moment that it's reasonable that the Matrix would leave holes open, since the whole point of Zion is that the humans think they're rebelling, when they are not. However. Why do you need to run around in the hovercrafts for that? Whatever happened to setting up antennas and relay stations?

And what is up with characters not telling others what they've seen? Example: Neo is all cryptic just after meeting the Architect. Why not tell Morpheus the whole thing? Just because he has condemned humanity to extinction? (Supposedly). Or: When Neo stops the Sentinels at the end of Reloaded. He clearly says "I can feel them" to Trinity. Then he stops them. Morpheus arrives. "What happened?" he says. Trinity replies: "I don't know." You don't know? Come on. "He said he could feel them, and then he stopped them." Is it too hard to say that? It's as if characters play the same game between each other as the one they are playing with the audience.

revolutions1.jpgA final thought on the whole matrix-within-matrix theory, et. al. Number one, some time ago (when it was clearly speculation--whatever you read these days could easily be the truth and so it is to be avoided :)) I read of other theories being bandied about in which the whole matrix is a prison for machines rather than for humans. Nice try, but this theory has as many holes and any other (starting with the why would humans create a prison for the mind ... for machines... and then... give them consciousness and feeling... and then... make them believe they are human... and then ... try to satisfy their desire to escape by building the Zion-level matrix.... anyway). We could go on with the infinite-matrixes theory for quite a while. About the only thing on which that theory hinges is the Animatrix clip in which humans modify a machine to make it feel like humans. Not a lot. But who knows, everything is possible. It would feel a bit like a cop-out methinks.

That said, I think it's narrowed down to two main possibilities.

Everything hinges on one key question. Is Neo human?

If he is not human, then this theory requires a Matrix-within-Matrix. Because otherwise he, as software, could not "operate" in the Zion-World. This theory explains his superpowers quite nicely, etc, and leaves very few holes open (like that ridiculous idea that the machines use humans for power when nuclear power would do just fine---it involves the machines taking a conscious "weird" choice to both subjugate and use their enemy but also become symbiotic with it, but as much as it can be explained, I've never been fully comfortable with it---in the case of Neo-as-software and Matrix-within-Matrix the actual real world is one level above and you could cook up any reasonable explanation for why things are what they are).

If Neo is human, on the other hand... things get ugly. Because, first, the matrix-within-matrix theory loses luster. Why? Consider: if Neo is really a human, then he would need some kind of extra-sensory, mythological superpower to do what he does inside the matrix. Bioengineering to his body to the level that he can manipulate software "with his hands" is utterly ridiculous (of the two options I'd even prefer the "superpower" one). If you change Neo so much that you don't rely on "powers" then he's not human and we're back to what I said in the previous paragraph. If he is human, and those are superpowers of some sort, then there is no need for matrix-within-matrix--already all bets are off. After all, if he has superpowers within the Matrix, why not some weird unexplained connection to the Matrix direct from the real world as well? Or why not explain the direct connection to the matrix through some other sort of weirdness?

So, if Neo is human, then it's all as we've seen, and there is only one Matrix. If he's a program, then Matrix-within-Matrix is necessary. Then again, this is a logical conclusion but the movie doesn't really have to be logical. And so it could easily be wrong. :-)

In other words: even though I'd like the matrix-within-matrix theory to be true, I get the feeling I am in for a dissappointment. Occam's Razor: of all the possible explanations for something, the simplest one tends to be true.

With the stuff I've seen in the trailers, all the "I believe in him, he believes in us, we believe in each other..." which sounds more like practice for verb conjugation than anything else, I'm getting the feeling we've hyped ourselves to expect too much from the Wachowskis. I certainly thought that this could be to the level of internal consistency of The Lord of the Rings or The Foundation Series, or even "smaller" works (in size, not in scope) like Neuromancer, Bladerunner, Alien, or The Diamond Age. This problem of overhyping appears in subtle ways. For example, the story of The Kid, from Animatrix, is completely passed over in Reloaded. This is ridiculous, of course. A work of art has to be self-contained (within a series at least). You go to the additional stories for more information, not to understand what it was all about. For example, the whole thing with the Osiris and its warning was done properly: you get the idea from watching Reloaded but you can learn more by watching The last flight of Osiris. The story of The Kid and possibly some of the stuff that's on Enter the Matrix (the game) are referenced in the movie with no background whatsoever, which is bad because not everyone has the possibility of, say, buying a game, or the time to play it. It's the difference between letting the depth of the story shine through the cracks (something that, for example LoTR does extremely well) and simply inserting references that leave you "uh?" which is easy to do to pretend there is depth, even when there is little or none of it.

Anyway, rant over.

Something I said back in May still applies: "[...] if Revolutions follows closely the tradition of Anime, we should prepare ourselves for an ending that might be ambiguous, even possibly unsatisfying by Hollywood's standards".

Exactly.

More in a few hours!

Categories: art.media
Posted by diego on November 5 2003 at 11:31 AM

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