Coda (random non-spoiler thoughts on the Matrix)

So I figured I’d weigh in on The Matrix.
Not Revolutions, or even Reloaded… just the Matrix. The whole experience.
The whole experience. That means all three movies, plus the significant bits of the Animatrix collection (and there are several) — that’s really the way I think I need to see the story, because taken in it’s individual parts, there are lots of not-strong elements — mostly because it’s not three stories, it’s one big story.
I imagine that if I’d read The Two Towers first back in junior high, I’d have thought it was a confusing mess of plot.
I think if I’d read The Return of the King first I would have thought it was obviously messianic and inconclusive and sentimental.
Hmm. Draw a parallel between the the three parts of the Matrix and the three parts of the Lord of the Rings, then a parallel between the ‘filler’ tossed in for the real fans in the Animatrix and/or the Silmarillion. Acknowledge that LotR is very probably a better story (but with weaker female characters), and you’ll get to where I am on this whole thing.
Was the ending not much of an ending? Sure. It’s meant to be a beginning, and beginnings generally suck as endings. That’s —
It wasn’t an ending. True. I agree. It was a coda.

You know, I’m not going to go over each individual thing that folks may or may not have said was something that didn’t quick satisfy. Let’s look at the whole thing. Let’s try.
1. Amazing visual elements that both introduced entirely new ways of doing camera work, brilliantly used existing visual techniques, and reintroduced some styles of storytelling that have been out of the mainstream for too long a time. Granted, this was more… satisfying in the first movie than the other two because it was new — by definition, the second and third installments can’t compete with the first blush of attraction. Oh well. Complaining that we didn’t see anything new in 2 and 3 is complaining that the directors didn’t nearly redefine action sequences in movies three times in one decade — that seems a bit much to ask, when you say it like that.
2. A strong story, eventually given the weight of many thousands of years of human history that the humans didn’t even know about.
3. Some brilliant, thought-provoking and (more importantly to me) inspiring, idea-generating scenes and element. Bits of this story are going to be creeping into my stories for years — I have no doubt about that, or shame. The training simulation, the gun room, the first time the bullets froze, the multiple Smiths, the kids playing in the ‘haunted house’, Seraph’s philosophy on meeting a person, the crows in the park, the escalade vs. katana scene, Naomi flying the mechanical line, Trinity over the clouds…
I said to Jackie that, as the story progressed past the first movie, people became less happy with it, because as it progressed, the story became more clear, more defined by what the directors/writers had envisioned — that’s not bad per se, but with every defined scene, something that you’d only held in your imagination up til that point was taken away and replaced. Paths were chosen, thus negating others.
In a horror movie, I’m only really spooked until I see the creature. Once it’s a known thing, it’s just that… a thing. The same goes here: the future of a story is never so full of possibility as it is when it’s only been partially defined; once you’ve seen Zion, it goes from being ‘anything you can think of’ to ‘what you see.’
Few people can take away what a person imagined and replace it with something they imagined and make that first person entirely happy, let alone happier. It’s impressive to me that the W brothers managed it at all — and it seems as though folks are complaining that they didn’t manage to do it 100% of the time.