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Science Fiction Movie Index


Directed by Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski
(1999, Warner Bros.)

The Matrix, part 1

Starring Keanu Reeves, Lawrence Fishbourne, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Hugo Weaving

In a computer-controlled reality, the one man who could free all humans is awakened, and begins to challenge the system.


-- 7th viewing (DVD)
December 23rd, 2018


Still a great watch, especially as we are more and more wired, and AI becomes more real. They ask the question that we can never answer -are we really living, or in a VR box somewhere? And the flip-phones are funny to watch these days!


-- 6th viewing (DVD)
September 28th, 2012


I can't believe it's been so many years since I last watched this movie!

Below, I mentioned the way the Oracle was elaborated on as a character in the sequels, but this time, watching Agent Smith, I was intrigued by the way they developed him in the sequels, too. I didn't really like what they did, but here he expresses his desire to get away from the Matrix, perhaps retire outside of it. Which is what they did with him in the sequels, though differently than what I would have expected. Anyway, this is very much a pleasurable viewing, as it has so much going for it, whether it's action, love, or philosophy. Pretty cool, even after all this time.


-- 5th viewing (DVD)
March 1st, 2005


After having seen both sequels to this movie (I never reviewed The Matrix Revolutions, because I was bored throughout most of it and didn't like it), I can honestly say that this is the best of them -by far. The only thing that the sequels add to the movie is depth to the character of the Oracle. If she is a rogue computer program, then she can do what she wants, without any problems except staying out of the way of the agents. There is still no real basis for her knowing the future, even if you account for the link that the outside world has with the Matrix, which Neo taps into.

My largest complaint below is that Neo should have stayed dead after he was killed in the Matrix. However, as stated in the movie, the body dies because it thinks its soul is dead. The actual link wasn't severed between him and the ship. Trinity just had to make sure that his body knew that it was still among the living, and what better way to do it than with a kiss?

Among all of the novel things that this movie gives us, it's very easy to forget the opening scenes, which take almost a quarter of the movie. It was funny to watch Neo getting scolded at work, especially the way he watches the window cleaners at work. Funnier is Agent Smith's face as he says that Neo helps his "landlady take out her garbage"! Ha!

There are a couple more strange things in this movie, that don't quite seem to fit. If they never free anybody from the Matrix after a certain age, then the traitor was another exception to the rule (as was Neo, of course). If they are so young when freed, how do they make the real choice between the red and blue pills? Who gives them this choice?

Those questions are minor, however, as the movie does a great job of giving us a solid story, with well-developed characters. The ending was suitable enough that it didn't require a follow-up, especially sequels that don't really follow it up, anyway.


-- 4th viewing (TV)
June 13th, 2003


I still haven't seen the sequel to this movie, but since the original came on TV not too long ago, I decided to take a refresher!

I think what appeals most about this movie is the ability to change your surroundings, to be in complete control. The people who live outside the Matrix can do amazing things when they move their consciousness within. The prime example is a tiny little effect at the very end, when Neo flexes his muscles after defeating Agent Smith, causing the walls of the corridor to bulge outward to accommodate him! Think of the possibilities for showing off!

The most impressive thing about the movie, however, are the special effects. There is very little in the way of blowing things up. The best ones are those that have been copied by movies ever since, the wakes of the bullets in the air in slow motion (see Charlie's Angels), and especially the gravity-defying moves of our heroes (most notably, see Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). The slow-motion is appropriately-used, whenever the director wants to show off some of the stunts!

I have a couple of concerns, which may be explained in various reference materials, of which I have read nothing. First, how do so many people know the future? People still have free will of a sort, otherwise Neo would not have been able to run from the Agents in his cubicle at the beginning. Therefore, even if they could see the computer code, they should not be able to predict what will happen next. The obvious exception is when things are about to happen, like when Trinity types "knock, knock" on Neo's screen just before somebody calls at his door. Watching from the outside, it would be easy to see.

However, there is no basis for the Oracle, and no reason for her except as somebody high up in the hierarchy of Zion, who is desperately leading the Resistance, trying her best to inspire people to find somebody who can defeat the Matrix. Since neither she, nor Neo, nor Morpheus are part of the Matrix anymore, how can she tell the future? I like the vase bit, but how can she possibly know that Morpheus will be captured, and that Neo can save his mentor? Maybe she sees it as inevitable. These scenes make the movie more mysterious, which is a good thing, but I can't help but wonder..

I also wonder how the "mole" met up with the Agent, or was even contacted by them. Did he approach them, wanting to end this life? I can't see the Agents breaking their agreement; there would be nothing to gain, unless he was too difficult to reintegrate into the system -or too much effort. So I don't think he had much to worry about, except keeping his part of the agreement.

The movie was great to revisit, however, as it is still fairly rare to see such an original concept in a big movie like this. I look forward to the sequels, whenever I can get to see them. I wonder how they will incorporate wireless networking into the movies, since they wouldn't need a hard line anymore!


-- 3rd viewing (VHS)
July 8th, 2000


And the third time around, this movie gets even better!  What I noticed about it this time was the sound.  The Matrix took an Academy Award for sound, beating out The Phantom Menace.  At the time, I didn't think it should have.  Now, I'm not so sure.  Whenever danger approached, it was as if we were inside Neo's brain, and could feel the tingle.  That was what the sound was for.  And the music was good, too, especially in the fight scenes. 

What I didn't like this time around?  Neo's resurrection at Trinity's kiss.  He was dead, the link was severed.  That part screams out miracle, which is not part of the theme of the movie.  It could have been done much simpler. 

I also never enjoyed the trip to the Oracle.  It felt too slow for me, and sort of out of place.  But I loved it when she made him knock over the vase, and then made him wonder if he would have done it had she said nothing. 

But most of the rest I loved.  It was a completely new type of science fiction film.  I wonder if it was originally planned as a trilogy.  Regardless, if they can keep this pace up in the next two films, I will be very happy.


-- 2nd viewing (Theatre)
October 1st, 1999


This was even better the second time around.  I had actually forgotten who the struggle was against (aliens I thought, but not machines).  There was a really pumped crowd at the theatre this time.  People cheered at the beginning when Trinity killed the two cops.  They moaned when any of the good guys were beaten, and cheered again when Trinity learned how to fly a helicopter in a few seconds by download.  There were loud cheers whenever any of the graphical fight scenes took place.  They were stylized as ever, but really neat to look at.

I found myself trapped, enthralled.  I kept anticipating the next moment, but was overwhelmed by it every time.  The best part, of course, was the fight scene at the climax of the movie, between the subway station and the abandoned building.  As the bad guy gets hit by the subway car, then suddenly steps out of that same car unharmed, a murmur went through the crowd.  That was something unexpected. 

One thing I didn't think was necessary was the danger moment in the ship as Neo was fighting.  The sentinels peeling through the hull was neat, but it sort of detracted from the fight scenes.  I think the situation would have been just as suspenseful without it. 

All in all, it's neat to see a real SF movie with the grit of real life, and none of the squeaky clean that we get in most movies.  I loved it.


-- 1st viewing (Theatre)
April 17th, 1999


This movie had a gritty reality feel to it.  It really felt real, and plausible.  The action was cartoonish, but resembled computer-game fighting.  The idea was really cool, that humanity had lost its battle with machines, which were currently using "us" as power sources, forcing us to live in our minds in a world they constructed.  But the fight for freedom against machines has always been a good seller for stories.  And this one does it well, in spite of Reeves' acting abilities.


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