The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'the matrix'
The Top Ten Sci-Fi Films That Never Existed takes apart what went wrong with various sci-fi films which did exist:
There was a movie that perfectly captured the Douglas Adams experience, the combination of bitter sarcasm and sharp imagination, the droll British wit and whale-exploding slapstick that infused his novels. And that movie was Shaun of the Dead. That movie was not, unfortunately, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a movie that floated around Hollywood for about 20 years before it finally appeared in theaters as a flat, lifeless, americanized lump that was mostly hated by people who liked the book and loathed by people who hated the book.
Everyone remembers the exact moment when they realized that their Phanom Menace sandwich was filled with shit. For me, it was the scene on Tatooine where Qui-Gon is talking and Jar Jar is snatching fruit from the bowl with his tongue, eating like an insect. Annoyed, Qui-Gon reaches out and snatches his tongue out of the air and holds it in his fist while he talks. That was when I realized I was watching a cartoon.
So what happened? The Chicago Cubs, that's what. The Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908. Why? Because Cub fans sell out Wrigley Field every game, regardless of how bad the team is. Management makes money regardless of whether or not the team is winning, so why bother? Likewise, studios think video game fans will pile into the theater on opening weekend regardless of whether or not any effort was put into the film. Will that change? Come ask me after I've seen the Peter Jackson-produced Halo.
I have a theory. There are two eras for the Hacker Movie genre. Pre-Matrix, hacker movies were always horrible and always box office poison (see Hackers and Johnny Mnemonic) that only appealed to a tiny segment of geeks. After The Matrix in 1999, every hacker movie was unfairly compared to The Matrix (incuding that film's own sequels, but we'll get to that in a moment). In neither era could you get the money to make a movie like Snow Crash. If you want your $150 million monster to get made, it'd had better be something with such universal appeal that even grandmothers will go see it. No hacker movie will have that and Snow Crash least of all:
I got around to seeing the new Matrix film tonight. Village City Centre has been showing it every day on the hour for the past few weeks in all their cinemas; the session I was in had about a dozen people.
So what did I think? The effects were very slick, in a TV-commercial sort of way (the sheer amount of work that doing all that must have involved is mind-boggling), and the philosophy wasn't completely gutted (as some commentators said it was). In places it seemed to go randomly from one impressive set/stunt sequence/effect to another, using the fact that it's-all-in-a-computer as a massive deus ex machina to get away with it, and parts of it seemed unclear, but it will hopefully be tied up neatly in film 3 (due out in a mere few months, undoubtedly to suit the MTV Generation's attention spans). The story also knocked down Keanu Reeves' messianic status a bit, which was a good thing (though his acting still has that plastic-action-figure quality about it). The soundtrack was mostly incidental music and the odd Juno Reactor psy-trance bit. The surfeit of extreme-sports-metal/fucked-up shit on the soundtrack had me worried for a while that they'd mook things up, but thankfully all that was pushed back to the closing credits.
Is The Matrix a metaphor for the oppression of the workers under capitalism, with Neo representing the revolutionary proletariat? Ken Macleod (who else?) thinks so:
Reading it I thought of something I hadn't before - the real reason why in the film the machines use the humans as a power source, as 'batteries', something I have long derided. On a literal level it is of course ridiculous. But symbolically it makes literal sense: we are the source of their power. Surplus value comes only from living labour, not from machines.