A couple of interesting pieces of coverage of the film.
First, David Edelstein
eviscerates the movie in Slate, and I'm hard-pressed to argue too much with his criticisms. I think, though, that he gives far too much credit to the original Matrix:
The original was, above all, an ontological mystery: How could Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) hang suspended in midair? Why did Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) know what Neo, then Thomas Anderson, was up to every second? Why did Anderson's life feel like a dream? The answers came gradually, mind-bendingly, mind-blowingly: an astute mix of everything trendy in postmodern sci-fi (Philip K. Dick and his paranoid visions of the world-as-simulation) and philosophy (Jean Baudrillard's view of the real obscured by materialism and technology), and everything up-to-the-minute in special effects and action. Most important, once Neo took the red pill, unplugged himself, and entered the virtual dojo, each fight developed his sense of who he was and what, within the Matrix, he was capable of doing; each action scene marked an ontological/metaphysical leap forward.
He's right that the fight scenes mean more, had more tension, and developed character better than in the second film. But calling it an "astute mix of postmodern sci-fi and philosophy" is pushing pretentious. It wasn't that
But he's pretty well on the mark with the rest, as well as the recommendation for the free Animatrix
films. Check them out.
John Shirley's review
also has some interesting bits. He most talks about how its style is its best feature, but he takes the time to point out that unlike most films these days there actually is substance there as well:
And don’t ponder Reloaded’s internal story-logic too much — it falters if you think it through. Instead, let it engage you with its wild rides and, above all, its ideas. Yes, Reloaded’s philosophical dialectic is often pretentious, and the film doesn’t convince us that its authors fully understand their own ideas — but at least it’s asking the questions. What makes the film worth watching, to me — what makes me glad it’s doing boffo box office — is its willingness to ask real questions. What is meant, when the Oracle says that the point is not to make deliberate choices, but to understand the ones you’ve made? What is choice? Do we ever have free will? Are we, indeed, asleep when we think we’re awake? And who and what profits from the "systems of control" that hold us in thrall? Outside of the under-appreciated Waking Life, few film makers have dared to so brazenly talk philosophy.
I didn't like Waking Life
, but his point is well-taken. It may not handle large questions very well, but at least it's willing to ask them.