The Matrix Reloaded at IMAX 

(R) 3 1/2 stars

(R) 3 1/2 stars
If ever a film cried out for the giant-format IMAX treatment, it was The Matrix Reloaded, one of the most over-the-top action movies ever filmed. And it’s certainly a worthwhile sight, particularly given that IMAX tickets aren’t much more than regular tickets these days. The IMAX translation is nearly immaculate; there’s only a very slight loss of fidelity in the transfer to giant screen. Every detail and visual subtlety is blown up for close examination. In a way, the supersized screen undercuts the Matrix visual theme of Beautiful People Kicking In Beautiful Ways. Every pore, every facial blemish, every unshaven whisker is there clear as day and twice as tall as the average person. It’s hard enough to take The Merovingian seriously without being distracted by his 5 o’clock shadow as well. This doesn’t help the CGI, either; every fake-looking Agent Smith in the giant fight scene looks 10 times faker here. Then again, it’s also fascinating to see every element in microscopic detail and recognize that even though the Burly Brawl looks a little over-CGIed, the whole thing is exquisitely choreographed and there’s a lot to look at besides the central figures. Viewers now have a great opportunity to examine the camera work in the fight scenes; the Wachowski Brothers approach the battles with a more Eastern eye than many American films. They shy away from quick-cut editing in favor of long, wide-angle takes that put the martial skills on display as much as the camera work. The IMAX size works best, as you might imagine, with the scenes of serious kick-splode. The screamingly intense highway chase sequence is even more dizzying and over-the-top, with every screech of metal and explosion thundering straight for your eyeballs. The sound’s great, too; the theater shakes with the bigger booms. Interestingly, Reloaded is both better and worse the second time around. The talky bits don’t get any better, though the rave sequence is easier to bear when you know that it does, in fact, eventually end. The scavenger-hunt nature of the plot is even worse now that you’ve got time to think about it: “You must seek out the Merovingian who holds prisoner the Keymaster who will take you to The Source blah blah blah.” There’s a good in-film reason for all this, but it still feels stiff and manipulative, like they’re just buying time until the next fight scene. The second time around you have a bit more appreciation for some of the subtler stuff, like the way Hugo Weaving is clearly having great, smirky fun as Agent Smith, or how Laurence Fishburne intones every line like he’s reading from Revelations. And at least you’ll know when there’s a good time for a bathroom break.

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