So I’ve missed a couple of dates and my editor soldiered on and posted pages, and made comments so that the project would continue. I could go on about my long hours, how my folks don’t have water or might lose their house, and eh, a whole bunch of stuff. But instead I want to talk about exposition and why The Matrix sucks.
I came across a video on TrailersFromHell with Max Landis again, and he was talking about how The Matrix is full of good ideas all so excellently executed, and how in the midst of the movie there’s this perfect six minute long expositionary lump that is so good in the realm of film because it does all these little things to make it entertaining. Credit where credit is due, he’s right insofar as The Matrix is visually stunning but I would counter it’s that emphasis on visual that actually reveals how utterly vapid and without depth The Matrix is. It looks great, but the story it tells is essentially a ham-fisted Jesus metaphor wrapped up in the most superficial cyberpunk dressing to fool you the viewer into thinking it’s something auteur when it brings nothing new or meaningful to the table. Oh, it’s the hero’s journey? And where does that journey take him, how is Neo’s life changed beyond the narcissistic discovery that not only can he do anything and gets to have a hot girlfriend, but that he is The Chosen One destined to do all these things?
I hate stories that hinge on a divinely chosen hero who can’t lose.
And that’s not even addressing the sequels. From overwrought, splashy, action scene to pithy one-liner The Matrix presents itself as a ride, invites you to sit in and go along, and then goes a safe big budget speed down a straight away that takes no dangerous turns nor invites any commentary from its hapless passenger. The Matrix doesn’t want you to think about the potential of a VR environment, or artificial intelligence, or what any of this means to mankind. You’re not smart enough for that, you clod. The Matrix wants you to sit down, shut up, and give them your money.
Consider instead some of the other excellent movies that came out in 1999, few of which would constitute a big budget CGI extravaganza, from a cursory glance at the IMDB: Fight Club, American Beauty, The Mummy, The Green Mile, The Sixth Sense, Office Space, Galaxy Quest, The Boondock Saints, and The World is Not Enough. Equally esteemed films, many times better, which didn’t lean on their outstanding special effects and instead were buoyed up by characterization and plot; movies which, with the exception of seminal Fight Club and Office Space, have been shoved under the bus while The Matrix remains some sort of inexplicable era-defining darling.
What does this have to do with The Mars Project? Because when you look at this section of work which is essentially low key information giving for latter parts of the story, it isn’t relying on its artistic merit just to occlude a lack of story. These next few pages are character defining. You know who Kale and Callisto by name, but now we’re going to show you the kind of people they are and how they act when apart. That, in turn, will make it more meaningful how they respond to the plot. They might know Kung Fu – and if as Archer tells us Karate is the Dane Cook of martial arts, any Kung Fu that isn’t Shaolin, Wing Chung, or Jeet Kune is Larry Curly, and Mo respectively – that isn’t the summation of who they are.
Keanu Reeves was excellent in the role of Neo because, as had been critically pointed his direction before, he can have exceedingly wooden delivery. Neo doesn’t have a personality to speak of, he isn’t a person and the movie around him is as meaningless as the character himself. Kale and Callisto are anything but wooden.
If you like movies about reality being a giant machine, watch Dark City.
If you want to watch a good Cyberpunk with Keanu watch Johnny Mnemonic.
If you want a good martial arts film with Keanu watch Man of Tai Chi.
If you just like Keanu, be excellent to each other.
Oh, and for comic fans in the know, I don’t care for The Invisibles either.