So, I'm pretty psyched about Ridley Scott's Prometheus. It's a space opera following the crew of the starship Prometheus. And unless Scott has lost it, it'll be a thoroughly enjoyable sci-fi adventure.
I have a thing with sequels: I like continuity. Re-casting an actor takes me out of it. Sometimes a "movie reboot" is the solution to whatever ailed the old series; other times it's a death-knell to a flawed diamond. Turns out there's a third option: the pseudo-reboot.
JJ. Abrams Star Trek (2009) was created in such a way that if you were new to Star Trek, you could disregard 40 years of baggage. On the other hand, if you were a trekkie1, the movie gave you a straw to grasp at which would acknowledge those 40 years of continuity. Star Trek did the impossible — provide an entry for new movie-goers yet satisfy (the majority) of the trekkies, all the while actually being a good movie! I don't even need to explain to you what exactly Star Trek did to respect the old continuity, that's the point. If you didn't pick up on it, it's because you don't need to worry about it.
Now watch this:
That's continuity. If you want it to be. Did you get it? You might prefer not to read on.
Turns out Prometheus is a pseudo-reboot of Alien. Peter Weyland is the co-founder of the Weyland-Yutani corporation, the evil conglomerate and eternal nemesis of Ripley. Which means, if you're an Alien fan, you can consider Prometheus a successor to Alien. If you like, also Aliens. Perhaps even Alien 3, but I would expect most of you to disregard Alien Resurrection (whose only good part was the whiskey cubes). On the flipside, if you don't care about Alien, you're unlikely to watch the above viral video. You're probably unlikely to even care. But there's a chance you might go watch Prometheus anyway because every effort has been made to convince you it's its own thing. The continuity is optional, and I like that.
It seems like just a few weeks ago; I watched the season 5 finale of Lost. It was only after the final LOST logo came on to the screen that the reality of a 9 month wait started to sink in. So, impatient as I was, I decided to speculate my way to a series conclusion. Because Lost is the best thing to happen to television since color. Lost is why cave-men painted shows on walls.
Now I've had 9 months to speculate on these mysteries, and for the very same reason, this post will be massively spoilerful (unless I'm completely off the mark and even then). Do not read this post unless you have seen every available episode of Lost first. Otherwise, you'll be ruining a great experience for yourself.
Warning! Don't ruin this for yourself.
Still here? Okay, I trust you have, in fact, seen Lost. So read on.
I spent the better part of Sunday watching all three Matrix movies projected in high definition on my cousins wall. Here’s what I think of them, and please note that this review does contain spoilers, if not for the fact that the movies have been out for a while now.
The Matrix (1999)
Freelance hacker “Neo” discovers that the world is not what it seems but, in fact, an illusion; a virtual reality that keeps people in the real world asleep while they’re generating energy for their robot overlords.
This is definitely the best of the bunch and not only for its original story and mindblowing effects, but also for the fact that it’s well acted and not overly long. Quite simply, everything works.
On a philosophical level, the dilemmas presented translate well across the gulf of screen, and are elegantly woven into the story; is ignorance bliss? Or would you take the red pill?
The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
After having discovered that he is “The One”, Neo helps free thousands of minds from The Matrix. The machines have noticed and are preparing a counter-attack against Zion, the last human city. As Neo encounters Agent Smith—now a reborn “rogue program”—Neo must confront other rogue programs such as The Oracle and The Merovingian in order to find out how he can stop the machines from destroying Zion.
Where the first one was a “deep” action-romp, this one is just an action-romp. Fortunately it does deliver on the action. Story-wise, it feels like there’s a lot going on, yet we still have no clue why the protagonists are doing what they’re doing.
On a philosophical level, it seems like the Wachowskis have actually upped the ante even if it doesn’t communicate. “Reloaded” refers to the fact that The Matrix is not the only level of control the machines use to subdue the humans, but to the fact that Zion has already been destroyed five times before. Each time by Neos choice; he gets to choose whether Zion is reloaded or humanity is destroyed. Then, he gets to pick a number of people who gets to re-build Zion, thus repeating the cycle that is man vs. machine. This fact deepens the whole “are you really awake” metaphor from the first one, and adds to it the balances of power: we need the machines to survive and the machines need us. Unfortunately, the balance of action and talk is oddly skewed, only really delivering on the former.
The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
The machines are digging towards Zion and preparations for war are underway. Meanwhile, Neo is caught in a place in between The Matrix and the real world; a waking dream-state induced by discovering previously hidden powers that range beyond the virtual world. As the war between man and machine nears, Neo struggles to end the war, acknowledging that the rogue program, Agent Smith has grown out of even machine control.
Perhaps the deepest of the three, Revolutions is also the weakest in communicating any of that depth. It wasn’t until I saw it the third time, with philosopher commentary, that I got an idea of what the Wachowskis were trying to say. As it turns out, they’re trying to boldly state that man vs. machine is not always a victory to one or the other. We need the machines, just as they need us. Furthermore, I read into the over-arching Reloaded/Revolutions story arch, the most iconoclastic statement that religion is a product of human misery and that all religious symbolism and stories stem from very real human weaknesses; weaknesses that are bound to repeat themselves forever and ever. Start over, revolution, start over, revolution. And so on.
I’ve thought long and hard about why 2 and 3 are so much worse than the first one. Certainly good philosophy is there, then again perhaps that’s the problem. For a while I thought, if you removed all Zion scenes and cut both movies down to a single 90 minute feature, the result would be better for it. Now I’m not so sure. Perhaps they should have taken a page from the book of Lucas and added a single, fatal weakness to the Machines; a weakness which if assaulted by a torpedo at just the right angle, would destroy all robots and end the movie. Sometimes the clichés work better than the bold alternatives. In this case, I think they might have.