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Teen Movie Critic

Jamey Hughton

June 23, 1999

Jamey Hughton is a 15 yr old student in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. He has written a weekly published column, MOVIE VIEWS for The StarPhoenix, the Saskatoon daily paper, since November, 1997. He was honoured to be a 1999 Writing Finalist in the Canadian YTV Achievement Awards.

He maintains a Web site MOVIE VIEWS by Jamey Hughton.

His reviews are now also found at: IMDb, MRQE and the Newsgroup.

The Matrix

If you see one sci-fi/action movie with Keanu Reeves this year, I would highly recommend seeing The Matrix.

I was thoroughly pleased with this film, on more levels than one. First off, in a world chock-full of brainless science-fiction movies with irrelevant plots, it has a storyline that can carry the viewer from beginning to end on a cushioned seat. Keanu Reevesí, obviously not the best actor in the world, makes for a fairly believable savior of human-kind in the form of Thomas "Neo" Anderson. He is contacted by a world-famous computer hacker named Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), who thinks Neo is the "chosen one." But Iím sure youíre asking, "What is the Matrix?" and "The chosen one for what, exactly?" Iíll carefully attempt to divulge the basics of the plotline.

The Matrix is, to quote a character in the movie, "...the world that has pulled over your eyes to shield you from the truth..." Iíll not reveal anything else, but consider this a favor toward you.

To learn how to manipulate the Matrix to his advantage, Neo first must learn all the tricks of the trade (which involve spectacular stunts of defying gravity, dodging bullets and leaping tall buildings in a single bound, ala Superman). Then he must face-off against the enemy, called the Sentinent Agents. They are dressed in black with strikingly cool shades, and are headed by the immensely droll Agent Smith (the delightfully deadpan Hugo Weaving). The Agents are a huge threat to our heroes because they can jump from body to body as they please, not to mention move at the speed of light...

The acting is an all-around surprise. In addition to Reeves thereís the always excellent Fishburne filling his role perfectly, and a hot newcomer named Carrie-Anne Moss, who can seriously bruise a SWAT team. The opening scene in which she is chased by Agent Smith over rooftops is her best in the film. She can clearly take care of herself (she wears an ensemble of provocative black leather, but then, everybody does in this movie).

The special effects in this film are seamlessly impressive, but they don't upstage the human dimensions of the story. Many images will attach themselves to your memory, such as actors walking upside the wall while firing endless rounds of ammo into approaching enemies. But the film never forgets it also has a capable thinking capacity. A scene where Neo visits the wise Oracle (Gloria Foster) reminds us that the story has some brains as well as brawn. Well, mostly brawn.

Iíll get to the point: the action sequences in this film are absolutely the best Iíve ever seen. The Wachowski brothers, Larry and Andy, have obviously covered the book on how to construct a jaw-dropping shootout. Until now, John Woo has been the unprecedented king of a slo-mo action sequence. Until now. Even more impressive, however, are the filmís martial arts battles, which use a familiar device from the Gap TV ads, where the camera circles the room while a character freezes in midair with a drop-kick maneuver. Your reaction is bound to resemble "Wow," or "Holy..." after seeing these unbelievable feats.

I had my grievances. There was an unnecessary double-cross scenario planted unwisely into the 2nd act, and a few of the supporting characters were only clichťs from other movies of this kind. The dialogue is occasionally just familiar mumbo-jumbo, but for the most part everything said strikes the perfect tone.

The Matrix as a whole is a dazzling, wonderfully exciting escape from reality. What is the Matrix?... No, I wonít tell, but itís a heck of a lot of fun finding out.

My Rating = Three Stars

Jamey Hughton can be reached directly at movieviews@hotmail.com.
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