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9.1 43 10
FanFix September 03, 2014 21685
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I grabbed a copy of the deZIONized fanfix years ago when it first came out... but never bothered to watch it. It seemed like such a good idea but perhaps I had just had enough after the bad sequels. Then, I pretty much forgot about The Matrix altogether for more than a decade, probably for the same reason. A couple weeks ago, however, I rewatched the first film and the sequel pair. I had forgotten how much I like the first film but was not surprised by how much I didn’t like the sequels. Thus, I gave the first film 9 stars on IMDb and the sequels both 3 stars (they are just one long movie to me, as most seem to agree, only split into two movies to milk the audience for cash and, thus, share the same rating regardless). And there lies the baseline: 3 stars.

And, now, to hopefully be excruciatingly constructive for future editors:

I feel like this edit is reaching for 6 stars but falls a bit short of that – which is still maintaining a significant improvement over the originals. I feel that this edit is 90% on the right track for fanfix ideas but that other 10%, some of it intentional, hurts it pretty bad for me. My movie ratings are driven primarily by the story and the craftsmanship around telling that story. FX and fight choreography, for example, can make a good film a bit better, but they can’t make a bad film better by even a single star (unless the film is primarily about FX or fighting) thus the harsh 3 stars on the sequels.

The great part of this edit is that it treats Zion with the right amount of attention. I feel the original tried to make Zion more interesting by showing it to us but they ended up showing us something more like the evil community from a Mad Max film – primarily due to the “temple” scenes. Something to hate. All that stuff to hate is gone in this edit while keeping the more likable or, at least, identifiable parts... and the rest of Zion is probably best kept a mystery.

Another good part of this edit is that some of the more dull actions scenes were trimmed well, such as the burly brawl and the highway. Also, some characters that don’t need to be developed and cared about were dropped as much as possible and I didn’t miss them (like Kid, and the train people). (Leaving the gate to Mifune instead of Kid was a good move.)

And that takes me to the weakest part of this edit: the character development. A lot of the character development (and, consequently, plot development) seems to have been dropped and it hurts the edit equally. Yes, the sequels probably had too many characters to develop but I wouldn’t cut anything that develops the more critical characters. Smith somehow didn’t feel as evil or as powerful in this edit and I’m not sure why. He felt more like an annoyance than the villain. I also felt like we didn’t spend enough time with pretty much everybody else that was left in. In the end, this felt like it wanted to be an action movie that merely suffered the bits of drama it needed to hold the action together. I see The Matrix as the other way around pretty much. And to tell that “heady” side of the story, you need to take your time to give the audience time to digest what you are delivering – something American films are pretty bad at to begin with, so I probably wouldn’t suggest cutting these parts any harder. A lot of these headier scenes and other dramatic scenes where chopped as short as possible and ended up feeling like someone rushing though the agenda at a terribly boring meeting (while taking a 10-minute recess to work out a fistfight once in a while). These quick back-to-back scenes kill the pacing rather than fixing it.

Now, just because my ratings are primarily driven by story, this doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate good action choreography as well. I do. On that line, I personally found it very disappointing that perhaps my favorite scene from the sequels was cut: the fight with Sereph. I found this scene to be both interesting intellectually as well as a great fight scene (and it develops Sereph more). The tension of being pretty sure Sereph was a good guy but not being entirely sure why they are fighting was marvelous with an enjoyable finale and explanation to it. The chop of this scene kinda foreshadows the chop of some other tense action. For example, even though I agree many action scenes carried on too long in the sequels, the invasion of the dock was very long also... and yet also very appropriately built up a high level of how terrifying such an invasion might be. Most of that build up of terror was lost here. I think the dock scenes were also recolored but I haven’t bothered to check that against the source. It just felt like I couldn’t see the machines as well as I could in the original and thus subduing their threat even more.

Another difficult part of the sequels’ story is with the relationship between Neo and Trinity. The first film handled this well by simply leaving the tension there and not touching it much. Similar to how the sequels handled Zion, however, they tried to make this more interesting by resolving their love and showing it to us. That’s a classic boneheaded move. Even in a martyr film. This edit, fortunately, cuts most of that resolving... but I think it could be done better by cutting it even more to leave it as unresolved as the first film. In other words, cut the elevator passion as well and leave Neo with the disciples with no promises of what might come next. The leap to Neo going for a night walk was a bit jarring so rework focused more on the disciples and less on Trinity in this section might help.

And then there’s the brief and really strange ending. So many head scratchers here. I think the problem here starts with leaving Bane out entirely. He probably can’t be left out if we have a blind Neo in the end. Otherwise, it feels ludicrous to blind Neo for no significant plot reason just before the climax. Also, a blind Neo needs some story support for how he is still able to function by jacking into the machines without physically jacking in. Sure, he doesn’t need to be so powerful as to stop machines in flight, but elimination of all his crossover power is likely too difficult to hold up with the given footage. And, in that, could be the answer as to how to handle Bane: take out some of the blatant Smith control stuff with Bane and leave Neo less sure of what he is seeing there. Leaving Bane in might also help with a weak part of the originals that gets weaker in this edit: How did all the other ships get destroyed exactly? This gets covered so quick in the original I didn’t really understand it until much later in the film. Less so here.

Personally, I see no reason to save Trinity or Neo, especially when no other movies are likely to follow (assuming Neo is dead), but I don’t really feel a need to be too critical of fanedits that change the story like this. Such things are the editor’s prerogative even I feel it weakens it by losing the martyrdom story. That’s fine and I’m okay with that. If I want another ending, I can do that myself. The problem here, however, is that I completely didn’t fully “get” the intended ending meaning until I reread the change notes. Whoosh! Part of it right over my head and I wasn’t Drax enough to catch it.

Using the club hell footage to create an Ewok style ending celebration was a cute idea... but it is also... a cute idea, for better or for worse. Resolving Morpheus and Niobe there worked pretty well. The Architect??? Again, Drax.

I can recommend this edit for those who have seen the sequels, didn’t like them, and want a new take. I can’t, however, recommend it for anybody who hasn’t seen the sequels. Still looking for that edit. Too much was cut in this edit – maybe 30 minutes too much. I feel a 7-star edit is probably the most that can be got out of the sequels, I just need to find it (if someone has done it already) or wait for someone to create it (because I’m not convinced a 7-star edit is worth the time for a personal project and I should probably just pretend the sequels don’t exist).

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