Three words: Even Emptier Spectacle.
The Matrix was overrated and mediocre. The Matrix: Pants Loaded was a padded hunk of ass. A significant difference between the two movies is that more people started to agree with my assessment, and Matrix bashing became surprisingly commonplace. Thus, when "The Matrix 3: Electric Boogalee" came along, I was a bit less inclined to tear some new assholes into it, and actually noticed a positive thing or two about it.
Don't get me wrong. It still sucks a lot. But it's not as bad as The Matrix: Oh, Fuck, I Gotta Go Get Loaded Now To Forget About This Load of Shit. Just less pretention and more shooty, which is a bit more palatable here. Throughout the three movies, there was just enough interesting stuff to make me angry that it wasn't done any better than it was.
The entire film is basically a video game. Painfully obviously a video game. I swear, when the sentinel things came pouring into Zion and the cannons were shooting into the heads of their swarms like that, I wanted to start mashing the X button.
It's been a while now since I saw it, but let's see if I can remember what the deal is. The Mr. Sentinel squid-bot coffee-maker Cavity Creeps are drilling down towards Zion, about to wipe it out. Go team. That place sucks anyway. Fishburne and Model-Chick have to rescue Dumbass-O from a magical mystery train station. Somehow, a computer program has managed to posess someone in the 'real world,' who has sabotaged all sorts of shit with that cool Agent Smith drawl of his, and is out to kill Fuckwit-O. Fights happen. Then Spaghetti-O and his inexplicable girlfriend, the Memento Lady, travel to Machine City to try and get mechanical entities to call off their extermination attempts, because apparently Hugo Weaving's gotten too powerful in the Matrix or something. All sorts of shooting and zippy space-ship action.
This third installment in the Schmatrix trilogy is significant because it contains the first and only shred of believable human emotion in the entire rambling, bonehead saga. In the standard "look, here are non-main characters being totally heroic and thus compelling so we can stretch this shit out even further" subplot, there's a scared kid struggling to do his part, running ammo to the clunky exoskeleton deals that are fighting off Sentinels. Before the invasion really starts, though, he drops some shit, or shows his inexperience and nervousness or something, and some militaryish authority figure struts up to him and yells "What the shit is going on here?!" Yes! Finally! A human being! Everyone in this entire festival of boredom has a giant stick up their ass through the whole trilogy, apparently taking their cue from Pee-On-You Reeves (haw haw, a delightfully vulgar pun! It is to laugh!) that a kid shaking in his boots and a guy cussing are fucking godsends.
Of course, nothing that happens in or around Zion matters in the slightest. Everyone's gonna die if it isn't for Dweeb-O. It's all just padding. Blatant, shoot-em-up padding. A mild raising of the dramatic tension.
As usual, the effects are reasonably cool, and made me long for a good superhero movie to be made with all the pointless fighty effects in the final showdown with Hugo and Get-Off-My-Screen-O. Of course, when the Sentinel tentacles breaching tunnels trying to get at Jada Pinkett and the gang switched off from being actual props to CGI, it was annoyingly obvious - we still ain't there yet with the CG, kids. Ease up on it - but Machine City looked great, and with a live-action Transformers movie in development, I can have some hope for the look of it, at least.
Here's the fucking crux, though. After a painful scene where Carrie-Anne Moss has to try and play a climactic death scene off a guy with the emotional range of a tire iron, Cheat Commandos-O trots off to Maquinaland and talks to Tornadron, the giant sequel to Unicron that Primacron made in a later episode of "Transformers." I'm sure they're not calling it Tornadron, though. It's a big floaty-headed amorphous mass of machinery or whatever. With a human face. This is the stupid deal that's made.
Robot MODOK: Why shouldn't I kill you now?
This is fucking dumb. After about four hours of neat-looking but utterly pointless punchy-kick-time that could have been avoided by Smith sending the fifty million other Smiths at him to hold his ass down, Smith tries to absorb Piss-Poor-O in the same way he absorbed the Oracle (which thankfully ended all the "okay, let's be pretentious for half an hour now" sequences that ground the films to a halt), but Twat-O turns him inside out or some shit and I guess destroys Smith from the inside. Or something.
What sticks in my craw, though, is this. These are machines we're dealing with - the Sentinels don't have emotions, the machine leaders don't have emotions or 'common sense,' and making a deal that consists of one word - 'peace' - to these detailed artificial constructs is goddamned asinine. Here's a clue, Chump-O! If the Sentinels completely wipe out Zion and thus, humanity, there's no more fighting! THAT is peace! Why don't they just do THAT? Machines don't have the human sense of honor! They don't have to 'keep their word' or any of that shit!
But there I go again, looking for thoughtfulness in a film where highbrow philosophical dilemmas are solved with fistfights. Sacrificing logic for style. Wave of the future, kids.
So, it's three-for-three. The Matrix trilogy is slickster packaging, three shiny objects to play with. I sometimes feel like I should maybe watch the first one again, but I think I've wasted enough time on a story that shouldn't have gone beyond one movie anyway.
I should have taken the blue pill.