Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our fourth calendar year!
Number 190 (Vol. 4, No. 46). This edition is for the week of November 10--16, 2003.
Another showbiz legend...
Animal Man + The Invisibles + Next Men = The Matrix
• An original Honeymooner laid to rest|
• Paul Williams interviewed
• Drew Reiber's reaction to "The Matrix Revolutions"
• Lettercol: first reactions to "Professor Paul Bearer II"
Just as I was sitting down to tear into this week's PCR, news came over the wire of showbiz legend Art Carney's sad passing at 85.
Forever identified as Ed Norton, Ralph Cramden's goofy neighbor in Jackie Gleason's The Honeymooners during the '50s (and a later version during the '60s), Art Carney went on to star in about every conceivable venue known to man, winning awards along the way. No doubt, our own Mike Smith will do a bang-up story in this week's Rant, so I'll leave it to him to document the highlights of Carney's career.
But I must say, I felt a real sadness that another pivotal celebrity, so important an influence on my generation has died during this particularly lethal year for old Hollywood.
On a lighter note, and speaking of Mike Smith, he was fortunate enough to catch singer/songwriter/multiple award-winner Paul Williams recently during Williams' current tour with Melissa Manchester and talked him into sitting still long enough for an interview! Read the resulting story here.
Professor Paul Bearer II
And don't miss this week's Lettercol with the first feedback on last week's story of a (possibly) new verison of Creature Feature being in the works.
THE MATRIX RECYCLED
I know I said in the "coming attractions" page that I was going to give my two cents on The Matrix Revolutions. OK, here's the two cents worth: I liked it better than Matrix Reloaded. It had pretty incredible special-effects and Keanu Reeves was tolerable. I haven't even thought about how many stars to give it, maybe 2 or 3, depending on what's being emphasized, but I'm glad the trilogy is over.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to welcome back Drew Reiber to our pages (He of the PCR 2002 "Wake Up And Smell The Comics" fame) for a certain-to-be-unforgettable lambasting of The Matrix Revolutions!
This started as an IM session. I was screwing around with AOL "preferences" last night and saw the following equation on Drew's AOL profile:
Matrix + Buddhism = The Matrix Reloaded
Matrix + Aliens + Independence Day + Dark City = Matrix Revolutions
I had no sooner begun to digest all of that when all of a sudden his usually hard-to-find, college-boy self pops on the buddy list. After an exchange of greetings, I prompt him for an elaboration of the equation. In the familiar form of one of our Top 10 lists, the following exploded into my mailbox this morning.
SPOILER ALERT. In decimating the movie's several inconsistencies, he found it necessary to reveal key plot points for the purpose of exposition. If you have not seen the movie and are planning to, skip this next article!
|The Top Ten Problems with The Matrix Revolutions
by Drew Reiber
10. What the f&%k are they doing wearing shades in dark places or when they interface with computers in the Matrix? No wonder "evil" characters like the Merovengian can't take them seriously. How many times can you threaten the same guy while wearing designer sunglasses indoors? Gods almighty.
9. Who the Hell did the lord of the robot flies and bugs make a human face for? Neo was blind. BLIND!!!!
8. Monica Belluci literally showed up just so her heaving breasts could fill the screen for a few frames. A decent actress who has done and will do far better work and will unfortunately always be known best for something as pathetic as this.
7. Apparently an "R" rating means as little visceral and bloody violence as possible, with cute children and nice, old people to keep us company when the main characters become too interesting to qualify for screen time. I'm the last person to say that adult content is necessary to make a film interesting, but when it is considered a staple of an established franchise, you better as Hell deliver what you've promise.
6. If you put all the characters and concepts introduced in Reloaded and Revolutions that were thrown away or left unresolved into one room, you would suffocate (Merovengian anyone?). They need something to keep the merchandise flowing for the next decade, right? And hey, how convenient that the key to the entire saga - Morpheus - was left unscathed, eh? Gotta keep enough characters around to push the new post-Revolutions online role playing game and…
5. If any film has ever proven how pointless, repetitive, circular or contradictory dialogue can become, it's Revolutions. Count how many times a character says, "Goddamn it." Count the references made to Neo from a group of Zionists in an unrelated situation miles (or virtual worlds) away from anywhere that could tell them what/how he's doing. Count how many times a moment of exposition is given through a question. Count how many times they use the same formula for those questions. Count how many times they repeat the same points to emphasize tension, just like I'm doing now.
4. Hey, I didn't think Reloaded was any kind of bargain, but at least the Wachowski's still seemed to understand the difference between story and plot. It seems somewhere about ¼ the way through Revolutions, a series of unrelated action sequences is all that is needed to cement a so-called sci-fi-classic-in-the-making into movie history. Especially if those sequences repeat every better made sci-fi film from the last 15 years, including the original Matrix. Hell, you could cut 90% of Revolutions and just combine it with a condensed Reloaded for a pretty solid sequel.
3. Ok, we've introduced several new KEY figures as well as supporting characters in Reloaded. Being that this was supposedly the last entry in the series, wouldn't it be a good idea to follow our main characters most of the time and then end the arcs for our secondary ones? Oh, wow, they killed Neo and Trinity. Who f&!king cares? Neo will just get reincarnated which leaves us with the only major permanent change to the status quo set up in the first 5 minutes of the original film.
What is this monumental difference? Trinity, the I-exist-to-propel-the-lead-into-making-the-right-decisions-but-have-no-arc-or-mind-of-my-own-but-my-love-is-supposed-to-prove-that-humans-have-an-existential-reason-to-be-free chick with a gun. That's right… if you boil her character down to what she is without the backbone she apparently shares with Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Ann Moss is essentially every fanboy (and some fan girls) dream of the kick-ass anime chick with twin lethal projectile phallic symbols. What a loss, now that she's gone, eh?
And what about the other arcs in the story? Well, apparently Link got superstitious just like his girlfriend back home, who decided to join with that gung-ho clone of the woman from Aliens, and that made us cheer for Zion… or something. I guess I'm looking so hard for a reason to care I miss the deep philosophical messages the Wachowski's left for their zombie fans. After all, I must be cold or something because I didn't feel the triumph achieved by that kid from the Animatrix/Reloaded when he managed to successfully avoid dropping the ammo amidst all that debris with his shopping cart driving skills. Good god, they actually used a cart cam…
2. … and continuing from problem #6, we've got the inevitable sequels. That's right, more f*!king entries in this tired, effortless tripe. Don't believe me? Joel Silver says otherwise? Any of you suckers who believe this guy deserve what's coming to you. After all, you've got supporting cast members already claiming they were told they would be replacing the main, and ever so conveniently killed off main cast. With re-incarnation, ANYONE could be the savior. Oh, to be Joel Silver right now… in charge of a multi-hundred million-dollar movie franchise that just hit the reset button and is free of major cast contractual options. The possibilities. So much for "Everything has an End", eh?
1. Biggest pet peeve about movies. If you want to make shitty (Revolutions) or even mediocre movies (Reloaded), ok, that's fine. But don't do it when we already know that you're scam artists. Ok, the Wachowski's got away with ripping off Grant Morrison ("Animal Man", "The Invisibles") and John Byrne ("Next Men")… even if Warner did likely pay Morrison off before he made a stink in court… because the original Matrix was well-crafted for a studio film. But this shit is inexcusable. Ok, so Dark City and The Matrix and The 13th Floor and the gods know what else had similar concepts because there was a collective subconscious at work in Hollywood during the late 90's, reflecting our growing paranoia that we're being manipulated by outside forces.
So The Matrix just happened to be the one with most blatant plagiarism out of the group. But at least those other films didn't go so far as to rip each other off when they ran out of ideas. I counted at least four other sci-films from the last 15 years (most in just the last 8) that had entire scenes and similar elements lifted from them for Revolutions. Whether it be an obvious ode to Jada Pinkett-Smith's husband's last battle in Independence Day or the retrofitting of the last stands made in Aliens, this kind of shit becomes tiresome when they stand out as all that is offered for viewing in the latest entry of an otherwise fresh (in terms of mainstream American cinema) franchise.
I started getting a headache from all the flash without substance about a half hour before the end, but that was nothing compared to the rage building inside me once I realized they lifted the entire climax of Dark City for Revolutions. Here is an infinitely superior film, that made all the same points in less than 100 minutes all the while actually USING the camera despite a reliance on special effects for most scenes. Unlike the Wachowki's, who seem to think CGI animator can create an hour worth of material from about 30 minutes of plot and 15 minutes of actual live-action material, Alex Proyas had the balls to tell an original story and tap into the art of filmmaking with respect to those who preceded him.
Despite the use of technique and story elements that dated back to the '20s, he honored his forefathers with acknowledgement and bothered to push the envelope further… instead of just regurgitating what he had seen in a film that came out just a few years before. His concern wasn't whether he created enough fuel for the toys, or games, or spin-offs, or sequels to last through the court battles with his wife over material he never created to begin with… his concern was the f&!king art. It's gutless, trashy con-artists like the Wachowski brothers who are to blame for the consistent downward trend of box office sales for the last several years. If they weren't, the sequel wouldn't be receiving the critical and box office backlash that it is.