Signal to Noise: Matrix Trilogy

I was sitting around, minding my own business, when a coworker showed up and said he watched the Matrix Trilogy with his wife.

So yeah, things got real “rill fast” as an Iowan might say.

“Unfortunately no one can be told what the Matrix is, you’ll have to see it for yourself,” says Morpheus.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. You can totally be told what the Matrix is. Read the back of the DVD box, they do it in like a single sentence: everyone is in a VR simulator that’s called the Matrix because the Wachowski Siblings don’t care about confusing Math Nerds like my friend.

My coworker suggested the flaw in the trilogy, well one of the flaws, is that the romance should have been between Morpheus and Neo. He said the romance between Neo and Trinity fell pretty flat.

I tend to agree. But then, I had similar ideas about how to fix the awful Hobbit movies by making the romance between Kili (or Fili) and Legolas. This is where I realized I was a genius.

Coworker can confirm: Matrix 1 is still a classic. Seriously, the Matrix was so good it changed the game. It’s influence may have faded into the background, a little, but like background radiation it’s still there if you look for it. It took anime and kung-fu movies and injected them in the mainstream where people were not ready for this anarchy.

It’s also just a good movie. Seriously, just watch it sometime. I once read an essay about how one of the Wachowskis’ gender identity issues were an influence on the Matrix, and I don’t know about that for sure, but there are a lot of androgynous characters in the Matrix.

And there’s so many good fights in the Matrix 1, I remember just watching them with my friends over and over, it’s almost how we structure the movie in our brain. There’s Training Room fight, then Bathroom Fight, then Lobby Fight, then Subway Fight. Bathroom Fight is noteworthy for the brutality, Subway Fight is great for just being over the top and amazing.

So how, you might ask, did the Wachowskis drop the ball? I mean, they were trying to “ice skate uphill” as Blade would say. Future historians will see that the Highlander sequels were also up against the same wall, which is where do you go when you win? So they doubled down and went for the continuation of the story.

But there’s one problem with the Matrix movies that I saw, after Matrix 1 all fights are boring save one or maybe two. The only fight that has the most tension in the sequels is the Smith/Neo fight in reality in Matrix 3, the other good one might be Morpheus vs Agent Part II, in Matrix 2. Because all the other fights? Those fights don’t matter.

The end of Matrix 1 is Neo understanding that punches don’t matter. You can punch something in the Matrix but you’re not really punching and you’re not really hitting anything. Every fight in the Matrix after Matrix 1, with regards to Neo anyway, is anticlimactic because Neo literally cannot lose. He can only be delayed.

Oh man, and I need to take a moment to point out how awesome the Merovingian is. I don’t really understand what he is, I think it’s said or implied he was a former The One, but seriously, he’s amazing. Where else in all of cinema are you going to get a villain who enters the scene and is like, “I’m a big deal, behold my power!” Then demonstrates his power with… orgasm cake.

(Neil DeGrasse Tyson via

Threat established. Watch out fellows, this guy’s cake is like really good.


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