It’s Debate Day here on Trope and Dagger! Today, we’re picking sides on the worst sequel (part II) to a great movie ever made! To start off with Andy’s ridiculousness, take this blue pill here: Conan the Destroyer: The Worst Sequel Ever. Now, if you want to understand the true nature of reality, take this red pill, and I’ll show you just how deep the rabbit hole goes.
I have to admit, this was a hard topic for me to pick a side on. There are so many terrible, god-awful sequels out there that I had a really difficult time choosing the worst one. I mean, I almost picked Amazing Spider-Man 2, but then I thought about how I had really low expectations for that movie thanks to the first movie, so the sequel was just a couple rungs lower on that ladder. Men in Black 2, which turned the Men in Black universe into a slapsticky three stooges skit with aliens that have balls on their face, was almost my choice, but that movie doesn’t fill me with disappointment in quite the same way that my ultimate pick does. No, my pick for the worst sequel is The Matrix Reloaded.
I want to put a disclaimer here. I realize there are worse movies out there that are sequels (anything Disney put out on VHS, for example). However, I chose this one because it fell so far from where the first movie was. The first movie was pretty much a cyberpunk work of art. This one is a cyberpunk doodle in a high school kid’s notebook. OK, disclaimer over.
Do you remember the first time that you watched The Matrix? Holy hell, what an experience. The world was intriguing and scary, the lore was fascinating, and the action was downright amazing. The first bullet time scene was something that people talked about for a long damn time. It was parodied and copied to death, however it doesn’t make it any less cooler when you watch it in the Matrix.
The sequel, though, is a whole different story. It picks up a short while after the first movie left off, with Neo an established hero of humanity, freeing people from the confines of the Matrix and plaguing the machines like a BDSM Superman. He zips around kicking agents’ asses and showing people the true nature of the Matrix, and the machines are all bent out of shape about it. But they have a plan to drill into the ground and destroy Zion with about a billion sentinel robots. So our plucky crew of Trinity, Neo, and Morpheus go and meet the Oracle who tells them they need the keymaker, who can help them destroy the Matrix.
Here’s where things go off the rails. You wouldn’t know it from watching the movie, but the plot is deceptively simple. They need the keymaker to access someplace with his key that can help them destroy the machines and protect Zion. Boom, plot. There it is. But there’s so much shit going on in this movie that it’s near impossible to follow. Now, bear with me because I haven’t seen it in years (though Wikipedia was helpful):
To get the keymaker you need to get him from the Merovingian. Who the fuck is that? Some guy who has rogue programs, like what used to be called ghosts and werewolves. He’s a dick and doesn’t want to help them, but his wife Persephone hates him and helps the trio anyways. Then there’s a ridiculous fight on the highway. Meanwhile, Agent Smith has turned into a rogue program who is taking over other programs and making a buttload of copies of himself! AND he took over a human and is in the real world! Also, some of the hover ships need to destroy some power plants to prevent…something from happening in the Matrix. But it’s important, I’m sure. And there’s a rave that happens in Zion at some point cuz the dirty people are happy they’re not in the Matrix. Then some ships get destroyed, Neo goes and sees the Architect who tells him that Zion is the sixth Zion and apparently Neo can reboot the Matrix and start a 7th Zion if he wants to. Then Trinity is shot and Neo flies to her, pulls a bullet out of her and restarts her heart. THEN in the real world Neo discovers he can zap the machines with his mind. Phew.
See what I mean? The first movie had a simple plot as well, but that time they didn’t bog it down with a whole lot of extraneous crap that didn’t matter. The Matrix Reloaded just piled event upon event upon event that just made all the plot points difficult to follow.
Besides that, there are just some things that simply don’t make sense in this film. Take Agent Smith. I mean, Smith hates the Matrix and takes over other agents. But he also hates the humans? So…what’s his end plan here? Does he even have a motivation besides hatred? Is he just going to kill everybody and then off himself after? Or heck, any of the machine characters in this film, what is their plan in the end? If the humans are able to defeat the machines, won’t they all be wiped from existence? Why would the Oracle help them? Or the keymaker? Or Penelope?
But the biggest problem with the Matrix Reloaded lies with the action. While the first movie had some impressive effects and outstanding action, this film suffered from the “bigger is better” attitude the filmmakers seemed to develop. The fights were larger, computer effects utilized more, and everything was lesser than in the first movie. I mean, the fight between Neo and the hundreds of Smiths should have been exhilarating and had us on the edge of our seats. Smith was more unhinged and dangerous than ever, so Neo should have been in more peril than ever, but the fight quickly became a cartoon that went on far too long. We never felt as though Neo was actually in danger, because it quickly became apparent that Neo wasn’t actually there. And by that I mean that Keanu Reeves was no longer fighting with Hugo Weaving, but instead we had computer Keanu in there spin kicking computer Hugos and it was painfully obvious that’s what we were watching.
The Wachowskis proved with this film that they are the new George Lucas. Scratch that, Lucas is still Lucas, but they’re suffering from the same ailment. They need a limit to their budget and people around them to say “No, that’s not a good idea” in order for them to make a decent film. The trend continued after this film, but this was the first one to illustrate that they are just not great filmmakers when they get to realize their “vision”. Their fully realize vision is garbage. Very pretty garbage, at times, but still garbage.
Few movies fail so spectacularly to live up to their predecessor as this movie does. That is why The Matrix Reloaded is the worst sequel ever made.
So what do you think? Am I on the money here or is Andy? Let us know in the poll down below! Now, please.