Friday, May 23, 2003

Delamar’s German friend, Sven, was here in the station yesterday. I must say, he’s really nice to talk to, and apparently, he wants to teach German to people who aren’t German. Very interesting career idea. I, on the other hand, haven’t much else to plan for beyond getting a Masterals in Public Relations a few years from now, and then looking at my options from that point onwards.

Grace and I then saw Matrix: Reloaded. My questions yesterday were addressed there, quite actually, as it seems to point towards a Simulacrum of reincarnations. But then, would I really want to be in a world like that? Ah, well. I'll think about it next time. Carla wasn’t able to go because she felt so out of place that there will be just the three of us there. Two’s company, three’s a crowd, so she believes. Can’t blame her, though. Maybe next time, just the two of us would go watch a movie together… right, right. :laughs:

Since I loved movies with an action fix, I will now do a triple review of The One, Equilibrium, and The Matrix: Reloaded. Bear with me, as I haven’t reviewed a film in ages. As per usual, SPOILERS AHEAD!!!


The One:

Jet Li breaks his promise to never do CGI Kung-Fu... he should've taken Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in the first place...

This will be a short and sweet review, because the film was just as short.

Jet Li faces off against himself as Yu Law, a police officer gone bad, who has discovered that killing versions of himself in different universes will allow the other surviving members to share in the power dispersed by the slain version; After a series of murders, Yu Law is now left with Gabe Law. They are at the same level of power. Now, it’s up to the Multiverse Agency to keep this clash from being the cataclysm that it looms to be. There is no question about it: something has to be done.

The fact is, the hand-to-hand combat wasn’t much, and the gunplay was so Matrix-like you’d almost scream “Ripoff” at the bullet time effects.Worse, the best part of the movie was the first half of it, when Jet Li was tossing people aside and kicking them before they land. Nonetheless, that was the only part worth watching. Even Jet Li’s one-on-one fight with himself wasn’t that impressive, and their attempts to show a contrast in styles between the straight-line attacking Yu Law and the circular Gabe Law didn’t really materialize, as eventually, they had to break their own patterns just so they can dodge or hit well. The story wasn’t too ambitious, so it really came off well, although some white elephants really materialized, such as the Multiverse agents.

Was this movie fun to watch? Yes. Did it satisfy my craving for an action fix? Hardly. I stand by my belief that the first half of the movie had the best action. Still, the story saves it, as it didn’t trip over itself in trying to be too profound or too complex.

Marcelle’s Rating: B



Who's Christian Bale? Who's Taye Diggs? Why is it called Equilibrium? Why is there a fascination with the letter T? Who cares? This movie is amazing!

I love this movie. There’s no question about it. The movie is about a seeming utopia where stoicism seems to be the key to peace and order. Yet this peace is actually being disturbed less by those who oppose the order, but those who enforce it, since they kill the people who oppose the order. Those who don’t take their dosage of Prozium, a medicine that suppresses emotions (Oh. A stronger version of Prozac?), will be killed on the spot, or taken for summary combustion without a trial. Anything that can elicit emotions, books, pets, paintings, or whatever else of similar nature, are grounds for the same sentence: death.

To enforce this order, Father, the head honcho, has managed to gather a small force of Clerics: extremely skilled fighters who can kill and maim people ten times their number without breaking a sweat. The best of these is Cleric Preston, whose stoicism doesn’t explain how he has two children and a deceased wife. He is rabidly devoted to the Grammaton Cleric order, until he missed his dosage once…

This then leads to his feeling emotions such as love, compassion, and this is unbecoming of a Grammaton Cleric. His partner, played by Taye Diggs, is onto him…

And then he realizes that he is the savior of the Resistance.

Now, with his desire to free the people from stoicism, he attempts to contact the underground without being discovered by the Grammaton Clerics. It won’t be an easy task, because he has to find Father, and kill him. For years, Father has not granted an audience with anyone for any reason. Preston believes that turning the Resistance over would allow him access to Father, and he was right. Except he realizes that his commanding officer is himself Father all this time. Now, he has to confront him and put an end to his tyranny.

So maybe the storyline is rather choppy. First of all, most of the “stoic” enforcers in the film showed quite a range of emotions. Apparently, the fact remains that they really had to break a lot of their own rules in order to make the movie interesting enough. Worse, that so-called twist regarding Father’s identity was nothing more than irritating. It’s so predictable it’s not funny. In spite of that, I didn’t like this movie because of the story that seems to be taking the first Matrix’ storyline down to a real-world level. I liked this movie because the action makes Matrix gunplay look like an FPJ movie.

What the Matrix has going for it in unarmed combat, Equilibrium has in gunplay over the Matrix in spades. The Gun Kata, a technique mastered by the Grammaton Clerics, was really flashy to look at. Preston may not have used his fists much in the film, but his gun expertise was unrivaled. He even used his guns as bludgeoning weapons against a circle of guards. It was sheer poetry in motion. He can even use a sword quite efficiently, which involved a Samurai X-like bit where he slashed his partner and his face falls off half a minute later.

Still, the cream of the crop for the film was the part where he and Father were shooting each other at point blank range, and yet they couldn’t hit each other because their hands were pushing the other’s gun safely aside. It was almost like a dance of death, as they really had fast hands, which meant they didn’t have CGI bullets working for them. And you should see how Preston reloads his guns. Cartridges come out of his sleeve, among other things, and so forth. He can kick a gun and catch it from behind, he can push two shotguns to turn 180 degrees and shoot the ones who were pointing the shotguns to his head, and he can do the Gun Kata in the dark. He can even do most of this stuff without getting a stain on his white gala uniform. What can’t this guy do? :laughs:

Forget the story (Not that it's bad, mind you. It's just that it's been done before.). With Equilibrium, you have an action fix that makes you wish they stopped talking. No matter how short the downtime between action scenes, you feel that the dialogue is dragging (Even if it's not, actually. I really liked the dialogue.) because the action just pumps you up like that. I like this film a lot, but its atrociously executed storyline and bad transition that made everything that didn’t involve fighting seem boring kept it from getting an A+. Hence…

Marcelle’s Rating: A-


The Matrix: Reloaded:

Copy THIS, Matrix wannabees!

The storyline picks up from where the first Matrix left off, sans an explanation why Tank is not manning the Nebuchadnezzar anymore. The ship returns to Zion, and Morpheus has a very creative way of telling the people of Zion to party… meanwhile, we are treated to some shades of the Jedi Council through the discussions, and Neo has bad dreams about Trinity dying. One of the images popped up in the middle of his love scene with Trinity, which ruined everything for them…

Neo then confronts the Oracle, and he begins to be lectured about hard determinism, how essence precedes existence. I wasn’t too comfortable with that, existentialist that I am. This confrontation is necessary for him to know how to stop the assault on Zion by the Sentinels. As soon as the conversation is over, Neo has a rematch with Smith, who’s no longer an agent, but more of a virus who can copy himself many times over. The fight ends in a deadlock, and Neo gets out of that mess.

Neo, Morpheus, and Trinity now go to Merivingian to ask for the Keymaker, the one who knows how to get to the source of the Matrix. Naturally, they won’t give him up. But Persephone, the devious villain that she is, asks for a kiss from Neo in exchange for the Keymaker. The Twins were tough opponents, no doubt, but why were they shooting at an agent? Strange. They can fade in and out of tangibility with but a thought. How can you hurt these guys, right?

In the end, Neo realizes that he is just the sixth version of The One. In short, this is nothing more than a cycle, and his role as The One is not truly one of liberation. He is then faced with the choice of saving Trinity or the rest of Zion, and he chose to save Trinity, faster than a speeding bullet…

But it’s not over yet.

As I said, I didn’t have too many expectations about the movie. Thus, I was impressed, and I had fun trying to identify the points Neo was CGI in the Burly Brawl, and when the Smith I was looking at was a CGI/really Hugo Weaving or just a stunt double (Or triple, quadruple… ). It's also noteworthy to point out that this is where we see the age-old Philosophical battle between The One and The Many. And yes, as in reality, the battle is a deadlock. There were some moments of humor that needed a lot of help because only half the audience can get it, but I do believe I got my action fix for this movie. I wish we watched it earlier, though. I got to work pretty late because we had to sit through part of the last full showing just so we could finish the film.

In terms of hand-to-hand combat, I cannot ask for much else with this film. It’s wanting of more gunfights, though, but I guess that’s where Equilibrium gets its edge. The gunfights in Equilibrium simply toss away any precedent set by the Matrix, even the first part. As for the story, Philosophical edges like that in the Matrix are rather problematic, because not only do people not get it, but there already exists a contraindicatory point to causality, and Philosophy 101 alone would already tell you about it. I’m more of an existentialist, so causality does not really hold much water for me, though I appreciate it.

Is it better than Equilibrium? To some extent (A very small extent.), yes, its fight scenes were plentiful and interesting, although the comparison stops because the former had gunfights, while the latter was more of mano-a-mano. Moreover, its story was a lot more well thought out than that of Equilibrium, but then, it falls short of an A+ because its attempts to be deep were marred by its lack of elucidations. You can only enjoy people speaking in riddles in what’s supposed to be a fun movie only so many times. Equilibrium will not confuse you. The Matrix: Reloaded will, if you don't get the literature they've been transposing it from. I guess that’s why Hero, if I’m not mistaken, is the only one I gave an A+ to. That’s because it has a gripping story and the action is amazing. Everything was in place, whereas the overt amount of philosophizing in The Matrix: Reloaded seemed rather out of place. Plus, lots of Chinese people couldn’t hurt… :laughs again:

Marcelle’s Rating: A

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