There are two films here really broken up by about the first hour of the movie vs. the second hour– one is an uninteresting slog (the first half), the other is spectacular
Starts with the emerald-infused Warners logo— the color scheme production design dedication even in the logo- love it!
The schlocky “oh—upgrades” sequel language that often happens in bad comedies or action sequels
It isn’t the rip-roaring creativity-infused narrative juggernaut the first film is—this sprawls out, more characters, building out the universe—fatty—mostly not good
Gratuitous scenes like the orgy dance, the fighting of the 1000 Agent Smith Hugo Weavings’. It’s showing off some size and special effects but it doesn’t impress
The opening with the 2 minute flashback of Trinity (which is a foreshadowed dream from Reeve’s Neo) is strong, as is the half-circle shot during love-making, there’s a triple ellipsis edit move here by the Wachowskis that is really nice as they move that set back farther and farther each time—but by and large the first hour is forgettable
The artistic aspects of the film start with the Merovingian scenes 63 minutes in (I’m pretty convinced it’s unarchiveable up until now)- green flooding that restaurant—a dogmatic dedication to color in the design
This sets the tone for the chateau action set piece (at 70 minutes) sequence. You have the green tapestry and weapons on the wall. The stair cases-brilliant.
And then leads to the jaw-on-the-floor phenomenal freeway scene at 85 minutes—these combine to make like a green-coated Zhang Yimou film (if the 1999 original is like Star Wars in many ways, this pivots and is like Zhang Yimou’s 2002 film Hero or House of Flying Daggers in 2004) and in a short film format the freeway scene really predicts Mad MaxFury Road
Fishburne is commanding once again—a speechmaker- “isn’t that worth dying for”
The Wachowskis are as interested in background as they are in the foreground in this half of the movie which they weren’t in the first 60 minutes
The green doors in the white hall sequence, the skyline with green lights when Neo looks out
The meeting with the architect is a stunner as well. Strong world-building in the mise-en-scene. It’s 2001’s ending encounter in the bedroom meets The Man Who Fell To Earth
Like the first film Rage Against the Machine smacks you in the face before you hit the credits- perfect
I love Ebert- what a writer– but he has 1000 words on the 1999 film original and 1000 words on this and never uses the word green. Does he not notice the color design? Or isn’t important to him? Has to be one, right?
R/HR border- leaning HR—but really tough to evaluate with the flat first half and the remarkable second half