The Matrix (1999)
Written and directed by The Wachowski Brothers
Where it differs from those movies is that, while just as great, it has no hokeyness factor. Perhaps in 30 years people will see the Matrix and Lord of the Rings movies as great for their time. Perhaps the special effects will look dated and obvious when we're all receiving movies streamed directly via Sony-Starbucks DigitalDoubleshot Video MP5's, viewable on the inside of our sunglasses after consuming a Grande Almond Soy Video Latte.
For now, for awhile more, for a long time, probably: The Matrix is revolutionary.
By now, it's been ripped off and parodied hundreds of times, imitated but never duplicated. Wholly original and meticulously executed, it stands leagues above virtually every sci-fi thriller, and indeed most films regardless of genre, released before or since. Where its antecedents (Alien, Blade Runner, Star Wars) look clunky, The Matrix looks sharp and confident, where its demon spawn falter, it mightily succeeds.
It has redefined what people expect from the moviegoing experience. It's raised the bar for cinematic visuals and plotlines. It is deep, wide, thrilling, all-encompassing.
And this is a Keanu Reeves movie!
Drawing inspiration from sci-fi, religion, philosophy, literature, underground culture, martial arts, graphic novels, and a shitload more sources, The Matrix posits an entirely different view of the universe and human perception. Sure, it's eye-candy. No, it's not Heidegger. But it has ideas. It's Kafka by way of William Gibson, and there's so much to take in, you almost have to see it a few times to start really getting it.
Scene after scene, it reels you in and shakes you around. Themes of government control, human nature, globalization, free will, love it's all in here. And somehow it manages not to shoot its wad with the amazing beginning, sustaining itself so that the climax is ecstatic and the ending is as satisfying as a good aftersex smoke.
Interesting, non-archetypal characters, thoughtful performances, zillions of suprises, plenty of explosions and refreshingly, virtually NO smarmy one-liners attempting comic relief or catch-phrase superstardom. When two characters get in trouble, surrounded by impossible foes, they do not turn to each other and say some shit like "You ready to kick some ass?" or "Now things are getting FUN!"
No need to go into it all. You've either seen it, or you will, and you will almost certainly worship it. It's what the new Star Wars movies should have been. It's the new dawn. It's the glorious, invigorating return of entertainment after the age of irony. It's the fucking rulingest. It's the fucking Matrix; and it's as good as everyone says.
Review by La Fée