Red Pill or Blue Pill: The Matrix…….21 years later

The year is 1999. The Wachowskis gave us The Matrix, a sleeper hit that went on to become a global phenom. The story telling, the science fiction, the special effects……AMAZING!!! It’s been 21 years since its release so take that red pill with me and let’s reenter The Matrix! 

In 1999 I was living in Conyers, a small city 20 minutes away from Atlanta. There were 2 shopping plazas within walking distance of my house so I would frequent each often because both plazas had a movie theater. The big plaza had a Carmike and the smaller plaza had a theater that showed older movies. I don’t remember the name of that theater though. So I was out with some high school buddies and we went to the plaza with the Carmike. The posters for every movie playing were plastered outside of the theater, so we see the poster for The Matrix. None of us knew what it was. I never saw a trailer for it. I knew Keanu Reeves as “Johnny Utah” and from Speed. I watched Speed A LOT in the 90s. Laurence Fishburne aka Jimmy Jump aka Furious Styles…yea that’s my guy! I didn’t know who Carrie-Anne Moss was and I didn’t recognize Joe Pantoliano (Baby’s Day Out and Bad Boys are my jams) until later viewings. Now the good thing about this Carmike was that the staff never carded for rated r films. I was only 14 at the time and no one in our group was over 18 but we were good to go.  We went in blind and walked out jacked!! The opening scene with Trinity was like “whoa what”!! The story and action gets better and better from there. The Morpheus vs Neo scene featured some fantastic fight choreography. “Wire-fu” was a big thing because of this movie and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I did something very silly during another scene. I yelled out “RODNEY KING” when the cops were beating Morpheus down. Yea THAT scene. Yes I’m terrible but a large portion of the audience got kick out of that. The lobby shootout scene is classic. I love when Neo walks through the metal detector and shows the guard how strapped he is. GUNS…LOTS OF GUNS!! The Agent and Neo both dodging bullets had everyone stunned. Agent Smith vs Neo was super tough. Smith was putting them hands on Mr. Anderson! If you are reading this can you agree that the last 25 minutes of the film is just perfection? When my pals and I walked out the theater we talked about the movie the entire way home. That first viewing was one that I’ll never forget. For a cinephile it’s a great feeling to go into a movie without any knowledge of what you are about to see and then get your mind blown! The special effects and “bullet time” camera work was so awesome that it earned an Academy Award and has been imitated ever since. The Matrix features a harrowing look into the future and I’ve always maintained that technology advances could lead to some very bad things. Movies like The Matrix and The Terminator make me question some upgrades in tech we see in current times. Could computers one day become smart and self aware? I hope not!! It would suck for my N64 to come alive and turn me into a Duracell.  

Since that first view many moons ago I’ve watched The Matrix more than a few times. Probably over 50 times. When it came out on VHS I wore that tape out! It’s my favorite among the trilogy. Reloaded and Revolutions are cool but they don’t reach the heights of the original. Once the story was expanded to show us Zion and more of the machines it got a bit murky in my opinion. That final fight between Smith and Neo in Revolutions though……EPIC!! Before I get to the 21st anniversary I have to make a stop in 2019. Last year for the 20th anniversary AMC Theatres and Dolby Cinema teamed up for a special event. The Matrix in Dolby….YES YES YES!!!! The digital clarity, that booming sound system, and the nice recliners. Of course I was in. I saw it twice in Dolby. One of the best things about that was how the Dolby opening was shown twice as a “glitch”. That made my cinematic heart warm and gooey. There was so much stuff in the background that I didn’t catch before. If you follow me or have read some of my other reviews then you know I love Dolby Cinema. It’s a wonderful cinematic experience!! The techno music bumping out the Dolby sound system had my  heart jumping. I very much enjoyed revisiting The Matrix on the Dolby screen and looking at the movie through a different lens. 

For the 21st anniversary I gifted myself a Best Buy exclusive, which was the 4K Ultra HD steelbook of The Matrix trilogy. Yes this is my 3rd copy of the Matrix and yes I already had the trilogy on DVD but so what! I’m a steelbook collector so I wasn’t passing that up. The case is beautiful and it forced me to upgrade to a 4K Blu-ray player. The steelbook is 70 bucks at Best Buy if you are interested. I watched The Matrix in Ultra HD on Monday and I noticed The Oracle is wearing all green and that Morpheus’ ship, the Nebuchadnezzar, was made in the year of 2069. Those were details I never paid attention to before. Having a 4K player and 4K tv really makes that movie pop. The scene when the chopper explodes into the building looks like it’s coming out of the television. It’s a great eyegasm! The Matrix is a landmark achievement in film-making and also pop culture. There are sooooo many references from this movie still being used today. “The Matrix” has even become a metaphor in conversations about reality. I love it! It’s definitely a go to and would be in my top 20 if I had to make a list. My ONLY gripe with this film is Cypher inserting himself back into the Matrix to have steak with Agent Smith. How did he do that without the rest of the crew knowing? HOW HOW HOW!!!! I’m looking forward to seeing what the Wachowskis are bringing to the table for the next Matrix film. I’ve seen some backlash online because it was announced that Fishburne wouldn’t be returning to the project. Sucks but not a deal breaker for me. I’m curious to see how the narrative turns out. 

In celebration of the 21st anny I’m hosting a Matrix themed giveaway on my Facebook page. If you are interested check out the page (https://www.facebook.com/MoviesWithMigs) later. I’ll have the details posted in the afternoon. Thank you for reading and stay safe!! 

CHEERS! 
Migs Rodriguez 

 

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