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Home > Film

Matrix Reloaded: Worst Film Of All Time?

At last, a film has come along which can truly challenge Michael sublime Bullseye to the title of worst film ever made.

Charlie Skelton

17 May 2003

Last week in the Guardian Guide, Joe Queenan was speculating about the worst film of all time. He rated Costner's post-apocalyptic saga 'The Postman' pretty highly. His basic criterion (which I think is a good one) was that a truly awful film has to be big, expensive, expansive, pretentious and uncompromising in its failure. It has to be stupendous in its badness.

Which brings me to Matrix Reloaded.

Matrix Reloaded is stupendous in its badness.

Christ almighty.

I went to the press screening last night at the Odeon West End. I was very excited. I am a tremendous fan of The Matrix - I think it's one of the best films in recent years. There was a real feeling of excitement in the cinema - a feeling that we might be about to watch something amazing.

We were.

I left the cinema after an hour. Before yesterday I'd only ever walked out of one film: 'Spy Hard' (the atrocious Leslie Nielsen comedy). As a cinema viewer, I'm incredibly easy to please - I suspend my disbelief at the drop of the hat. I love big bangs and flashes. I loved all that jumping about and twisting out of the path of bullets in The Matrix. I lapped up all the philosophy, happily bought into the myth. But after an hour of Matrix Reloaded I'd had enough.

Incredibly, for a sequel to such a sophisticated film, it felt so superficial, so obvious - everything was explained. Nothing was hidden, nothing was left to wonder. Mundane is what it was. It was like watching 'Matrix: The Soap Opera'. Or 'The Animated Adventures of Neo and his Chums'. They even had an eager and annoying teen-kid Neo wannabe, for fuck's sake.

Here's a typical line. Neo zips off up into the air after a dust-up, and the engineer on Morpheus' craft smiles and says:

"He's doing his Superman thing again."

What in the last movie was a wry reference to Superman (when Neo flies off, all empowered at the end) was shoved right in our gobs. This was typical of the movie. "Show don't tell" said Henry James - advice that The Matrix followed brilliantly. However, Matrix Reloaded just tells. It tells and it tells and it tells. NOTHING is left untold. Everything is spelled out.

For example, there's a conversation between Neo and the councillor in the engineering room of Zion which runs something like this:

COUNCILLOR: look at all these machines.
NEO: Yes.
COUNCILLOR: it makes you wonder who controls who...... us or the machines.
NEO: Yes, it does.
COUNCILLOR: and what is control, anyway?
NEO: Well, you could just switch them off - so you're in control.
COUNCILLOR: ah - but if we switched them off, where would we get our heat and light and air?
NEO: I see what you mean.
COUNCILLOR: So in a sense, we need the machines, and they need us.
NEO: Yes.

If anything, the actual dialogue was even more clunky. There was nowhere to hide from the exposition. It was hideous.

That scene in the engineering room was the clincher for me - I got up and ran. I escaped the Matrix. I guess that means I'm the one.


So anyway - don't go and see this movie. It's shit, and it shits all over the first one. Just don't go.


NOTE: The extended (and I mean EXTENDED) dance video sequence (it's endless) which shows the good folks of Zion jigging up and down while a bunch of Stomp-style muscians bang dustbin lids - (the scene cuts back and forth with a flaccid sub-Channel 5 sex scene between Neo and Trinity) - is one of the worst scenes EVER EVER EVER. It was the exact cognate of the awful Ewok celebration scene at the end of 'The Return of the Jedi'. Just awful.

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