Thursday, December 04, 2008

We'll get back to that Robot Thing On Monday

I noticed that Carla and Simon both hit my post from Pre-Turkey Day about Robots and Robot Toys. Carla pointed out that Fisher-Price, maker of beloved children's toys, has introduced "Spike" into the mix of robotic toys. Apparently a large robotic dinosaur with some sort of remote control. What struck me as really odd about Spike wasn't just his size for kids, but that he's part of the Imaginext playline of toys. Each of those toys is about 2 - 3 inches high. Which makes me wonder if Spike is supposed to be in scale with those, in which case, I have a whole new respect for Spike at 10x the height of helpless and delicious characters of the Imaginext line. All I'm saying is that Spike + Imaginext toys = awesome dino-laden destruction.

Simon, on the other hand, accused me (in good fun) of cribbing from The Matrix.

Others often find this surprising, but I'm not a fan of the Matrix movies. I saw the first one and didn't like it, so I didn't bother seeing parts 2 and 3. Even on cable, all I've seen is a car chase from one of them that seemed to go on a really long time and which reminded me that I felt the Wachowski's might be all flash and no substance.

What's amazing to me is how many people who hear I didn't like part 1, so I didn't go see part 2 or 3 address the issue this way (a) well, you should really see them, (b) no, they're not as good as the first one, and (c) they get kind of dopey.

It's never been a strong sales pitch.

I've also never seen most movies people think I should see, but most people won't watch "This Gun For Hire" or "The Killing" with me, so they can stick it in their ear.

I'm going to go read my new "Superman vs. Brainiac" collection. You're on your own.


Anonymous said...

Finally! Someone else I know who doesn't like The Matrix.

Ooooh, we're really being harvested.... ooooh, the world is an illusion..... take the pill..... barf.

J.S. said...

Granted, the series got worse with each installment, but I'm really not sure how you guys can be so opposed to a movie that has kung fu and Carrie Ann Moss in tight leather.

The League said...

I never said the movie didn't have its high points...

But I think if you go back and watch the first Matrix, compared to the Kung-Fu of movies like "Fist of Legend", its kinda like Kneau Reeves acting like he's doing Kung Fu rather than Jet Li showing you how its done.

But, yeah... you will never see me say anything negative about Carrie Ann Moss.

JAL said...

I did not much care for the first one and thought the third was OK, but I think the second is a pretty spectacular mix of surrealism and science fiction. I felt like they probably got the green light to do whatever they wanted for the second (and third, to a degree) and ran with it. If Jean Cocteau were allowed to make a sci-fi/action film, I think "The Matrix: Reloaded" would be pretty close. Being a "not fan" of the first one probably helped me enjoy the hell out of the second. As far as the second goes, I think it's substance is its style.

Of course, Monica Bellucci didn't hurt.

Simon MacDonald said...

A lot of people loved the Matrix as it was considered a novel idea at the time. If you are a fan of philosophy and religious studies (who isn't) you would be able to track the insane amount of religious symbolism in the film.

I like the Matrix as it is an excellently constructed many layered story. I also like the look and feel of the film and the inventive new camera tricks which are now over used.

What I don't like about the film is Keanu Reeves performance and the fact that two sequels which devolve into action movies and lacked the cohesiveness of the first movie.

You are not missing anything by not watching 2 and 3. Except the overly long freeway fight which was a good action piece.

J.S. said...

Yeah, I thought the 3rd movie, in particular, was just god awful, didn't make a lot of sense, and didn't even seem very original (their big showstopper was a battle where they just mounted guns on the loaders from Aliens).
Most of the stuff that takes place in the "real world" (i.e., the future) in these movies struck me as pretty cheesey, but I liked the whole Matrix program, reality as prison idea.

The League said...

I remember when Jesus decided we were all pre-programmed figments of some rogue AI's imagination, armed himself to the teeth and started killing security guards. I think it was in Ephesians.

There probably was more going on in the Matrix than I was willing to give it credit for. I mostly remember being so distracted by all the ways the Matrix could have killed Our Heroes throughout the movie that I was horribly distracted (the last time I watched the movie ened to end was in the theater opening day).

There are some references to underlying issues of reality vs. unreality, so I guess there's some exploration of consciousness and even epistemology. I think I was particularly skeptical as I was about a year done with what little Robert A. Wilson reading I would ever get through, and felt he'd done it better.

JAL's comment about substance = style = subtance describes what didn't work for me. The Wachowski's are hardly alone in this for me. It's why I don't dig a lot of different directors, musicians, etc... Certainly painters, sculptors, etc... Film examples include post Pulp-Fiction Tarantino.

I'm not saying visuals and non-verbal cues shouldn't be a strong part of the language of film, but when it moves past serving the story to become the story, I guess I'm either very impressed or very not.

tachyonshuggy said...

Remember that part in the Matrix where you cared about anything going on?

Simon MacDonald said...

Ah but if Jesus did have machine guns imagine what he would have accomplished. Turn the cheek my...hey, hey kids!

Yes, there was a lot of stuff under the covers of the Matrix. Obviously Neo is a Christ like figure one can tell that without even seeing the third movie and it's ham handed finale. If you look at his name, both of them in fact, Neo which is an anagram for the One which Jesus has been referred to as and Thomas Anderson. Anderson literally means "son of man" which was another title Jesus referred to himself as. As well Neo dies and rises from the dead 72 seconds later an analogy to the 72 hours/3 days Jesus was to have laid in his tomb.

Mind you there is quite a bit of Gnostic and Buddhist allusions as well. Neo is the enlightened one who can "awaken" the sleeping to the real world. The Matrix itself is a prison not unlike Gnosticism believes the real world is a prison that must be escaped.

Anyway, what I'm really trying to say is that I find the original Matrix to be a well constructed film that operates on many layers including both style and substance.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I'll give it the fact that there are plenty of religious layers, allegory, etc. But maybe because it seemed so obvious I didn't appreciate that aspect, and was left with something I though was pretty standard. Neo as The One left me wishing for something more original than the savior story.

When it comes to reality vs. unreality stories, I guess I'm more "Waking Life" than "Matrix." Rather than stories about there *really* being an alternate reality, I rather like the idea of our alternate reality created by our own selves, through dreams or whatnot.

J.S. said...

Yeah, but you're talking about escapism (though sometimes escapism gone awry) versus people revolting against an imposed alternate reality as a prison. Kinda comparing apples to oranges.

Anonymous said...

Not really. Revolt or no revolt, it's still a depiction of reality and/or un-reality. And if my mind is creating an alternate reality, is that escapism? What if I don't want to be there?

Anyhow, it's that imposed alternate realiy as a prison that I found tired, now that I think about it. Whether it's an alternate reality, or real bars, it's still a prison, and therefore still just a movie about a guy that leads humanity to break free.