* * * * * MATRIX RELOADED     
    Warning, a few spoliers maybe: First of all, let me begin by stating that I walked into this movie having heard people I respect giving it the thumbs down for plot. They were impressed with the special effects and thought the story was lacking. In the middle of this conversation I did my usual: put my hands over my ears and told them to say nothing else. I'm glad I did so.

    To put the Reloaded experience in perspective, one first has to step away and look at the franchise. Most people's fascination with the first movie stemmed from the fact that no one had any idea what was going on through the first half hour of the original. This was all knew. No one knew what the Matrix was. It was a rush to find out. That effect can't be recreated. So I believe those that did not like Reloaded went in wanting the same experience. This is the wrong way to approach it.

    The above being said, bar-none Reloaded is a top notch sequal that does its original proud. The first ten minutes start off slow and you are lulled into that "ut oh -- sequal, can I get my money back" mode. But after that you realize just what is going on and the movie never stops picking up steam right through the final credits. This is a must see, a must own, and a movie people will be talking about in 100 years.

    Looking beyond a ton of car races, ten million cloned Agent Smiths, and Neo doing his thing, the signature portion of this installment is Zion. An impressive and flawless environment, it is both what I expected and nothing like what I expected. And nothing illustrates this point better than the first entrance to Zion where we see a white on black visual effect of the dock workers that is right out of Tron. Any homage to Tron gets an instant thumbs up. Someone should make an entire movie with that white on black effect.

    The plot itself is seemless and flawless. It all ties together, it all makes sense. And when you think it doesn't, consider what is driving the plot: computer programs. If you think this way everything is feasible. You are in a computer when you are in the Matrix. Think that way.

    When I heard there was going to be another Matrix the first thought that went through my head was, "Oh god, why did they make Neo fly?" Why did they marry Austin Powers? These are the things that can ruin a franchise. To my utter surprise not only is his superman routine believable but in the right place at the right time. Neo can't just fly up whenever he wants. It takes some concentration to bvend the Matrix to his will, and if he's engaged in a fight forget it. So "boohoo" to all those who say Neo can just fly away form any fight so what is the point. Your not getting it.

    The ultimate secret of what Zion is and what Neo is I will not include. But its worth the wait and its probably the biggest cliff hanger since Empire Strikes Back. This is what a sequal should be.

    And the biggest surprise of the movie isn't even the above secrets. Its another rather odd twist that is shown in passing. Through something weird Neo has some kind of power outside the Matrix. And Agent Smith seems to have the same. This is the one moment of non-logic that shoudl tell the viewer we are in for something really different in the conclusion.


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