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Katz vs. Taco: The Matrix 337

"The Matrix" is the latest product from the sci-fi hollywood world. A techno-thriller that is raising a lot of eyebrows and posing the question "What is The Matrix". We'll try not to answer that question, but skip Katz's column if you're concerned: he gives abit away. If you're anal about getting movies spoiled, just don't read any reviews. Mine is fairly spoiler free, but if you like sci fi, see this movie. Its golden. Hopefully it'll tide me over until May.

CmdrTaco:Few Spoilers

"Guys we've got a movie, and it needs a Messiah Figure. A guy who can save the world. Who can you think of that would fit the bill?"

"Charleton Heston?" "Bill Maher?" "Ted Nugent?" "Keanu Reeves?"

"You mean Ted? Excellent."

I figure this exchange has happened a few times in Hollywood. How Keanau keeps getting to be the guy that saves the world is beyond me. But he did a good job this time around. He's a little plastic, but thats just how he is. Fortunately, it doesn't matter, because the world that he is in is completely engrossing. You will sit down and for 2 hours and a few minutes, be completely entranced by The Matrix.

This is a great movie. I won't spoil it and tell you what "The Matrix" is, but you'll figure it out pretty early on. And its an interesting and convincing concept that actually works. Its ideas picked and grabbed from all sorts of sci fi, and it will appeal immensely to many of us.

The world is a strange mish mash of pseudo mysticism or spirituality. Lots of techno-babble stirred in. And the scary thing is that it works. And it works really well. Its a dark world, and a confusing one. But it all pretty much sorts itself out in the first half hour and then you can enjoy a pretty entertaining ride.

A general, non spoiler summary is that Neo (Reeves) is a slightly rebelious [h|cr]acker not happy in the system. He is lured around and eventually joins up with a rebelious band of cyber badasses out to save the world. They have mega technology. They have a space ship. They run from robotic spiders. They have unlimited weapons and virtual reality Kung Fu training simulators. And if you've seen the trailers: Super Powers. But it gets a lot crazier.

So some of the acting is a bit wooden. Some of the fx are a bit campy. Some of the jokes are sad. But these tiny flaws will slip by almost unnoticed because most of the fx are seamless. Most of the jokes are just right. And while some of the fighting is cheesy, other parts are quite exciting. This movie makes good use of many fx that we've seen in commercials for years, and somehow ties them together with a plot that is interesting. The philosophy and stuff gets a tad heavy at times, but not to badly, just a little bit fluffy.

2 hours, and I don't think I blinked.

I'd write a longer review, but frankly I don't want to spoil it for you. And I'll warn you that Katz's review will spoil some of the big surprises, so keep scrolling or hit that back button if you don't want to know...

JonKatz:Spoiler Warning

In science fiction, and in the mythology of computing science, it's believed - remember Ray Kurzweil and his "Age of Spiritual Machines" -- that as we race towards more powerful computers and machines with artificial intelligence, eventually there will be some cataclysmic Omega Point at which everything changes, especially the fundamental situation of people in the universe.

Engineers, scientists, developers and programmers don't dwell on Omega Point theory much, at least in public, but it's a staple in the literature of computing as well as science fiction.

And here it is again as the centerpiece of the "The Matrix," the stylish, highly entertaining new geek action thriller starring Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne. The movie asks the question: what if the world were run by evil computers who bred humans only as an energy source?

What if only a handful of humans knew the truth, and the rest lived in a world where reality was altered by an artificially-brilliant monster which created a virtual dream world in which nobody could tell what was real and what wasn't, if people believed they were living lives, but weren't?

This is the Omega Point and it's the world Neo the hacker suddenly wakes up to. He's led to the now inevitable Leader of the Rebel Forces (Fishburne), and they go after the humanoid machines. Naturally, they are represented by agents, evil and powerful NSA-style Men In Suits (attention Hollywood: can we come up with some new bad guys?).

This movie is a geek feast, with echoes of "Terminator," "Alien," "The X-Files," "200l: A Space Odyssey," and "Star Wars." Maybe a bit of Jackie Chan and "Walker, Texas Ranger," too. Heroes and villains kick-box their way across the universe, driving each other through windows, walls and virtual space. This movie, made by the Wachowski Brothers, is made without apology by and for nerds and geeks. The real villain is a "neural interactive simulation," a concept familiar to computing types, therefore one the film doesn't even feel it needs to to explain.

"The Matrix" is a smart, strange, complicated movie, one that takes techno-cinematography to new and classy levels. The beginning of the movie has an almost gothic, truly creepy feel to it. "The Matrix" also has a truly dark premise, eerie, new, imaginative and startling special effects, and a pace like a high-speed download.

And for once, the familiar arguments about technology, humanity and the future are intelligently presented and argued. Artificial intelligence machines - AT's - have gone to war with humans in the 21st century and won, and are setting about to literally suck the life out of humanity (Neo is shown the skeletal remains of civilization hidden beneath the virtual ground). Neo, the Everyman hacker is cast as the messiah, called upon to save the earth with the help of various raggedy geeks, nerds and a battalion of laptops with high-resolution monitors.

As Neo, Reeves is a well-meaning mono-man, likeable but almost one dimensional. All his life, he's known something is wrong with the world, but he could never put his finger - or keyboard - on it. Now, he gets to know. This movie is a very knowing geek fantasy. Neo, a software programmer, had a dual (but no social) life. By day, he's a programmer, by night a lawless hacker. He and everyone else speaks in the stuffy language of the future, which is to say nobody uses contractions. Carrie-Anne Moss plays Trinity, the equally grim and business-like super-hacker babe who guides Neo to his'yes!?destiny.

Whenever the movie tilts towards the clunky and heavy-handed ("I can show you the door," intones Rebel Leader Morpheus to Neo at one point, "but you have to go through it yourself" it self-corrects with real wit and dazzling effects.

There are some fun geek fantasies: the only time Neo smiles is when martial arts programs are being down-loaded into his brain. Later, a rebel hacker and fellow geek generously offers him some intimate time with a virtual blonde in a red-dress he's created as a software training program.

The mysterious Zionist Oracle, the source of all wisdom to whom every good guy and human must trek, turns out to be a chatty, grandmotherly black lady baking cookies in her kitchen.

For most of the movie, Neo doesn't believe this Messiah stuff and riddled with the expected self-doubts and unwillingness to use his powers, a/k/a, his "Force." But once he does get religion, it's with a vengeance: in one of the campiest scenes of any recent sci-fi movie, he and Trinity download an arsenal of black weapons, along with superhuman powers, floor length leather jackets, a black chopper, and enough Kung Fu moves to take out a battalion of humanoids.

Bullets, bodies and shell casings literally rain from the skies (even bullets are stylish in this movie), buildings blow up, humans and androids both die and resurrected with regularity; and everybody goes back and forth between the real and virtual world so rapidly and fluidly that the movie very nearly invokes the experience of being online. The martial arts stunts approach choreographed ballet.

"The Matrix" is a sci-fi thriller, and a great one. Since it takes care not to take itself too seriously, it's not a good idea to give it more weight than it deserves. It doesn't explain itself to nerds, geeks and computer users - it's made for them. And any movie that leaves you disturbed, riveted, entertained, and then thinking when you leave the theater, is well worth the trip. jonkatz@slashdot.org

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Katz vs. Taco: The Matrix

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think the best part of the movie is all the little references to spirituality. I found that alot of the underlying ideas of were very closely related to eastern philosophies such as Buddhism and Taoism.

    "I can show you the door, but you must walk through it yourself."

    "You must not think that you can do it, you must know you can do it"

    The imagery was classic symbolism, from the "birth" scene to the final battle scene. It was a well done movie, one of the best movies I have seen in a long time.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    what was funny is that by this point you bought SO MUCH into the plot (at least i did) that the simple looking kitchen looks absolutely magical. Even the cookies look sort of supranatural. At that point I had a "out of body" experience, watching myself watching the movie and going "WOW this is great stuff, and I looking at a random kitchen with a random looking mama, pretending she is an oracle and I AM BUYING IT ALL THE WAY"

    I thorougly enjoyed the movie from minute 1 to the last one
  • I saw The Matrix the other day, and I must say that it is very similar to Dark City in several regards (storyline, main character, etc.). Which isn't surprising, as both of them are similar to other works. Personally, I liked them both a lot. Dark City had some awesome SFX (like the city changing), but The Matrix has SFX that are at least as awesome as Dark City's best in scene after scene. Incidentally, watching Dark City on the big screen is the way to do it. Remember the part where they walk out onto Shell Beach, and how John's eyes had to adjust? After sitting in a completely dark theatre for an hour or two, you're sharing that feeling with them 100%. Truly innovative, if you ask me.
  • And yet another thing that hasn't been touched on at all in this discussion - John Woo's signature shot in stop motion panning... I'm not sure whether that was 'reference' or what.

    The whole movie is like a sci-fi, special effects, john woo flick on speed. :p right down to the pseudo religion, the questions of fate, and the "finding of self worth".

    Any thoughts?

  • There aren't any real holes I can think of in the movie except 2 (everything else has a plausible explanation). The reason why they typically used phones as the 'exit-patch' was because they needed some signal to lock onto so that their consciousness can exit the matrix to go back to the real world...

    No - they needed a "hardwire" to get out ... since everything in the matrix is conceptual (read gibson). The phone with it's cable represents a "physical" connection to the "real" world.

    See ... when the bitch cipher sells them out "The Man" cuts the "hardwire" on that "building" so now the "phone" doesn't work. But these are all anaolgies for software compenents that provide their "personas" with escape from the software that is the matrix.

    "The red pill is a trace program"

  • Two hours of eye candy that actually worked with the story. Good stuff...
    Go see it in a good movie theatre. Sit up front. Lean back. Try not to blink.
  • The last time I used ``amblient 1'' to do all the lighting in my povray model. Looked very strange.
  • I'm not sure about City of Lost Children or Dark City, but the plot of the Matrix is a classic Campbellian Hero's Journey. Just like Gilgamesh (and Star Wars, for that matter).

  • If none of this really exists and we're all in vats somewhere, there could be some mechanism built in to allow one to su and modify what we percieve as reality.
  • I'm sorry to admit this to all my good friends at /., but I've liked Reeves in movies. Specifically: Bill & Ted's (the original one), Speed and Devil's Advocate (I like it when the good guys don't really win).

    That said, I'm liking what I hear about this movie -- maybe I'll go catch a show today (what the hell, it's only $4.50 before 5:30).

    On another subject, this "Katz v. Taco" thing needs some Mortal Kombat II-inspired icon to go with it. Maybe a shot of them holding up their dukes at one another. No, on second thought that would look pretty bad -- maybe they could be poised with their palm pilots and cell phones and personal fax machines, ready for a geek duel a la Dilbert. Yeah, that'd work...


  • by bmetz ( 523 )
    I thought Taco's review had the appropriate angle - it felt like (having seen the movie) he said all
    the right things to get me interested without
    spoiling the big 'OH NEATO!' part where you find
    out what the matrix is. That had to be half of the
    fun of the movie right there. Go a little easier
    on the spoilers next time, Katz.
  • Posted by shauna_d:

    It had some great effects, but my friends and I repressed giggles a lot through the movie. It was very melodramatic and overacted (expected from Keanu, not expected from a great actor like Lawrence Fishburn). I describe it as Dune meets Jackie Chan meets Alien meets (insert Gibson book here).

    It was worth the $7.50, but only for the Keanu eye candy (for the grrls).
  • Posted by Nericus:

    Only Two thumbs...C'mon guys!!! You've both got two hands! It deserves at least three thumbs and a toe! This movie...."oh my god" sums it up very well. :)
  • Posted by Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters:

    I have to figure out how to say enough to get moderated over a reasonable threshhold. :-)

    I just wanted to put in a really strong good word for the movie _Dark City_. It made it to theatres for all of 5 minutes, as I remember. I had to get it on video myself, which is too bad since it would have looked nice on the big screen.

    But reading the reviews of _The Matrix_ (haven't seen it yet), and the trailers, it looks like _Dark City_ has an awful lot in comon with the former in both plot elements and visual style. That said, _Dark City_ winds up being genuinely interesting in the way it handles its philosophical/existential questions (and I might flaunt my credentials as a Philosophy Ph.D. in this regard... if only because most 'philosophical' questions in movies are so very dopey). OK, it's not the same as reading Deleuze, or even Descartes. But _Dark City_ actually does make you think about it at the end of it.

    I am sure that _Dark City_ did not have the FX budget that _The Matrix_ did... but it had enough to do some nice stuff. And the visual mood is fascinating throughout... I especially like the consistent syncretism of the film, which it shares with some notable others, like _Brazil_ (and in some ways, _Blade Runner_). That is, there are a number of films (and some Gibson short story, I forget the title) that are about a future... but the future is the *PAST's* future. That is, the films (made in 1980-2000, say) try to create a world which is the sci-fi future envisioned in the 1920s through 1950s. The effect is to be simultaneously futuristic and nostalgic. It is a nice effect, and one which presents a fascinating cinimegraphic image.
  • Posted by gcanyon:

    There was a very obscure pop cultural reference in The Matrix, and I'm looking for any kindred souls who got it, when Neo is running away from agents in the Matrix and yells into a cell phone, "Mr. Wizard, get me the hell out of here!"

    Hint--it's not the science experiment Mr. Wizard.
  • Posted by The Incredible Mr. Limpett:

    Haven't seen the movie but that's a Tooter the Turtle reference!

    dribble drabble drizzle droll...time for Tooter to come home..

    (or whatever his magic words are...being ages since I've actually seen the cartoon) :)
    "Wars, conflict, it's all business. One murder makes a
    villain. Millions a hero. Numbers sanctify."
  • Posted by shauna_d:

    This pig thinks the overacting was not totally intended...yes, there was some intentional humor in the flick (my favorite which was the shootout scene in the subway station with the newspapers blowing around) but they did take themselves pretty seriously during most of it, don't you think? Just the way Fishburn would talk so deep and slow...

    I just wasn't able to "lose" myself in this movie...I was constantly being jerked back into my seat in the theatre as opposed to being immersed in the flick.
  • Posted by Assmodeus:

    hey you moron!!! i havent seen the crying game yet!!!!
  • Posted by Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters:

    I *did* like _City of Lost Children_ very much. It was another example of of creating an really interesting cinemagraphic world, full of puzzling and bizarre elements. But it seems like a very different ontological premise than _Dark City_ or _The Matrix_ (which I just saw since my first post). There was none of the Cartesian doubt element in _City of Lost Children_ that there was in the others. A strange and fascinating world, certainly. But it still was what it was... there was no skeptical question posed of whether the world the characters saw was really the world they lived in. I'm not saying that is either better or worse; but the comparison does not stand out so much for me.
  • Posted by aelyn:

    I saw a preview screening last Wednesday (The 24th of March) and was completely awed by this movie.

    It is now my absolutely favorite and I'm already planning on seeing this weekend and again next week with a friend!

  • Posted by Phantom of the Operating Syste:

    If you do a little rewriting of the movie, you can get around that sillyness. The thermodynamic impossibilities of humans as batteries (waste heat is like, so inefficient) can be substituted for using humans for computational power to run the AIs and the Matrix.

    'nuff said

    Also, who noticed that the story tried to parallel the story of Buddha as best it could, with the night-sea journey, etc :)

  • Posted by Dean Collins:

    I know this comment is too late for anybody to actually read it, but so what... this film blew me away. Some of the acting is a little wooden, but then again if you'd been floating in a vat of fluid for most of your life you might be a little wooden too, as if the you're numbed by the intensity of the real world.
  • Posted by Nick Carraway:

    They would obviously need more chemical volume than that provided by dead bodies for food, but they would probably have access to a lot of organic material that would also work. Even though the skies are dark, there would still be simple plant and animal life which could be used as food for the "batteries." Regenerating the dead just makes the process more efficient. Would you rather spend valuable film time explaining everything rather than giving us all those cool FX and action sequences? Not me. And if you're picking at this minor nit, I hope you don't think too highly of the Star Wars films in which spaceships make SOUND and execute aerodynamic maneuvers in space!!!
  • Posted by Nick Carraway:

    He was the first director to popularize those slow-mo gunfight scenes which John Woo later turned into a high art form. Which is not to say that John Woo isn't an original, because he most certainly is. I'm just saying that we all stand atop the shoulders of others, so try not to knock "The Matrix" too much for co-opting his style; a lot of other HK action films are much more blatant ripoffs and are not nearly as fun as "The Matrix." Plus, the press for "The Matrix" has given plenty of credit to the HK school, including prominently listing the names of the action specialists who choreographed the fight scenes.

    Just my $0.02...

    "What are you saying -- that I can dodge bullets?"
    -- Neo
  • Posted by Cromas:

    ...because I have a few modifications that I would like to make. I liked WHAT happened in this movie, but I didn't like WHY things happened. Here are my mods:

    1. The AI is benevolent and wants to preserve
    the human species out of reverence (of their creators); they are putting humans in the Matrix as a gift so that we can live in a descent world before we destroyed it. They are trying to keep us from finding out about it so that we remain happy...kinda like "save the whales".

    2. Morpheus accidentally discovered the truth and wants to recruit more people to share his misery.


    2. Morpheus' team is a group of people who want to exploit the programmibility of the Matrix to create better lives for themselves: fortune, fame, babes, etc.. However, someone always has to stand guard in the "real world"--so maybe they take turns.

    3. Most people who discover "reality" want to get back into the Matrix (wouldn't you?).

    4. More of the "deja vu" glitches happen, this is what clues people in on the situation; kind of like Jacob's Ladder when ever so often Jacob sees something really weird but can't ever catch it.

    5. People wake up into the real world when they "die" in the Matrix...pretty much equivalent to hell.


    5. People get reincarnated when they "die" in the Matrix.

    6. The "agents" are programmed by humans in the "real world" who hack into the Matrix to cause trouble because, a. they are sadistic, b. they are bored., c. they are religous zealots. Maybe they are trying to destroy the Matrix, and Keanu is the hero to stop them.


    There are a lot of ways to make this a better movie.

    The idea that the AI needs us for batteries is just totally ludicrous, because:

    1. The law of conservation of energy: humans will not generate more energy than they consume in food/fuel.

    2. The AI couldn't find some petroleum, nuclear fuel, or some other energy source? Oh sure but they could make billions of coccoons and flying metal squids!


    Here is one of many problems with the Matrix itself:

    1. The rules in the Matrix would be dynamic, not static. The AI could change them at will.

    2. The agents would never get hurt.

    3. The AI wouldn't even need agents, if they
    really wanted to kill someone, it would be easy: just drop a 16-ton weight on them (a la Monty Python), etc.

    Enough said.
  • I agree with you on this... I wonder if there are any early showings tomorrow, or one tonight after I finish my research...
  • by mackga ( 990 )
    I've seen the trailers on teevee, and they looked very good, but often the movies themselves don't live up to the promise - the Relic, anyone? But after reading these two, very good BTW!, reviews, I'm going to have to go see this puppy. Thanks Jon and Rob for the two thumbs up!
  • Since he doesn't have to talk geek-talk in this one it works. He probably wouldn't have been my first (or second, etc.) choice, but he was ok for a plastic person.

  • Yeah... now that I think about it, it was a little Dune-like. Had some Dark City, Face Off (what other movie paid so much attention to bullets?), and of course Jackie Chan for the cool martial arts scenes.

  • If they make a sequel, they better not dumb it down. It should be at least as smart as this one, and probably more so. I would hate to see a bad sequel to this movie.

  • There are some similarities, but the plot isn't the same. Go see the movie. It's too good to pass up.

  • Of course that kinda works in our favor too. While they have similar tastes, their taste is also similar to most /. readers. If both of them like it, then most of us will probably like it too.

  • Isn't that why Taco put spoiler warnings all over the place??

  • Where is the science in Star Wars? Star Wars is space opera, not sci fi. It's bad enough we have to here people rave that Star Wars is a good movie, but please don't call it sci fi.

    And for the record, I enjoyed Star Wars. I've even read some of the recent books. But I don't consider them sci fi beyond the fact that there are space ships in it.
  • Hey Katz, you gotta pay attention in these movies... He didn't "download" all his abilities within the "matrix". He learned how to cheat - how to make it do what he wanted it do (what Fishburne's character was trying to teach him to do earlier on). That's half the point of the movie - once you knew what it was, you could make it do what you wanted, with the proper concentration, of course.
  • The speech at the end was him, inside the matrix, speaking directly to it, telling it that he was going to reveal to everyone what was really happening. (i.e., show everyone that what they thought was reality, wasn't.)
  • Ok, point by point:

    1) Yes, I know the fighting ability and weapons/equipment use was taught in that way. He didn't just pick that up.

    2) Exactly. Neo had to figure out how to control the Matrix to make it do what he wanted it to - that wasn't taught, he just had to try it and go from there.

    3) Like another guy said, the "Jump" environment was to get him to try in a safe environment to learn how to exploit the fact that the Matrix was only a simulated reality.

    So unless I'm misreading what Katz said, my understanding was that he thought he "downloaded" the ability to control the Matrix itself, which is untrue. (I was in the front row. It was loud. I didn't fall asleep. :)
  • The most unrealistic part of the movie was the beginning where Neo was supposedly working for a software company as a programmer and he went to work wearing a suit and tie and got chewed out for being late. That's what gave away that the world was fake.
  • All I want is a movie with a real live heroine in it. Not another 90's movie about some rich guy who rescues the cocktail waitress from poverty or some housewife who rediscovers the value of housewifedom like all the movies are promoting these days. This Matrix movie looks like a heroine movie but the heroine looks too scrawny.
  • . . . goes back to THE first Sci-Fi novel ever. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
    the conclusion:
    Technology in of itself isn't evil, but man still has to come to grips with his moral/immoral use of technology.

    I can't wait to see this movie, but it's NOT going to bust down my building exitement over TPM. . .
  • Actually, the term "Omega Point" comes from the French Jesuit philosopher Teilhard de Chardin, and was popularized in recent SF by Dan Simmons's Hyperion books. It is a theological, not a technological, term.

    Unlike many other theologians of his time, De Chardin accepted the scientific theory of evolution. However, his philosophy (being, as it was, theology) went beyond what can be considered scientific. He added to Darwin's theory the idea that evolution has a telos, or end-point to which it aspires. He called this telos "the Omega Point" and considered it to be the same thing as union with God. That is, according to de Chardin, humanity is presently evolving towards literal Godhead.

    Naturally, this is not reconcilable with modern evolutionary theory, which considers evolution not to have a telos. However, it does make for good SF every once in a while; the first, second, and fourth books of the _Hyperion_ saga are really quite good. (The third, _Endymion_, reads like a Star Wars novel...)
  • If you check out the "Behind the Scenes" section at The Matrix Webpage [whatisthematrix.com] they have pictures of the setup they used to do the paused pan effect. And yes, it is a long row of cameras.
  • While I'm on the subject, if humans are the only energy source, where do they get the energy to grow the food to nourish the humans? It didn't make sense.

    It said in the movie that they liquefy the dead and feed them to the living intravenously.

    It seemed the romantic twist at the end was very forced and didn't have any buildup from earlier in the movie. It seemed to just come from nowhere.

    Remember when they first got Neo, he was sleeping in his room and Trinity brought him dinner? Remember Cipher saying "I don't remember you bringing me dinner when I first got here."? I'm sure there were other parts, it really didn't come as a surprise to me, I saw it coming.

    Then again maybe I'm just used to their being some kind of love interest in just about every movie nowadays so I was expecting it.

  • This is really funny to me, considering I just read an interview with someone in the computer gaming industry (Probably from Epic or id) who was comparing the current state of first person shooter games as being similar to porn movies.
  • MY thought exactly. A nice mix of styles and they have to keep it short and to the point to cram them both in.

    Keep it up!
  • By belief and will alone, you can control your reality.

    Your reality is not reality. There is an external reality that is more real.

    People freak out when they see the impossible, allowing the agents of reality to hunt you down.

    Some people are chosen to be awakened. Humanity is not yet ready to be awakened. (Same terminology as WW's Mage)

    As your understanding of the non-reality of reality improves, your powers improve.

    Remember the training crowd scene, where Neo keeps getting bumped around, but Morpheus parts the crowd like the red sea? Perfect example of Arcane.

    The scene at the end where Neo see's the world as a data stream? "Landscape in the Mind"

    The Dream ability was renamed "downloading programs".

    Hell, I think some of the action stunts they pulled come right out of the RPG's rule book...

    (kick-ass movie though. Very Fun. Highly recomended)
  • I agree on both counts. Seeing that panning effect on every other commercial now is very annoying and shows how uncreative some of the tv people are, but this effect really belonged in this movie. All of the slow-motion panning and movement really lent itself to this film (particularily the fight sequences) and gave the audience some sense of what could be done in the matrix.
  • true, but you have to admit that even during his more "cheesy" lines (ie. "wow"), it almost seemed to work...I for one am happy with the choice of actors..
  • >>Why, a mere 100 years in the future, is the earth's core cooled?

    >They mentioned something about the humans "scorching" the sky when fighting the machines which I guess meant that they blocked out the sun because that was it's early source of power. This would have made earth's temperature drop.

    Literally, blocking the sun, won't have any measureable affect on the core of the earth in a million years, much less one hundred. The whole bit about "feeding off of people" was there for "monster effect" and only for monster effect. No basis in reality at all. All the rest of the violations of physics stem from that one idea. All the BS about temperature, the agents, the battles, the AI living off of the energy of the people comes from the Hollywood need to make the AI monstrous.

  • Yeah.. stop motion panning has been overdone.. but I don;t think I've ever seen it used as effectively as in The Matrix. It really added to a LOT to the action sequences.. and the great use of fast/slow effects was killer too.

    I think over all as a whole the special effects weren;t just "eye candy" but actyually added to the plot and action sequances of the movie.

  • Alright as far as I see it, the major difference b/n Dark City and Matrix is that Matrix scarred the crap out of me since it had a "virtual" world much more like our own... in fact we couldn't tell the difference. In DC, you have perpetual night and no one knows how to get to their Sunny memories. Weird. Matrix is the ultimate holodeck. The memories being "downloaded" was cool for both movies but one was dependent on alien technology the other was all us baby. As for CoLC, the old guy getting into
    "jacked" kids was similar but it ends right there.
  • My favorite was:

    "Theres a difference between knowing the path
    and walking it".

    This whole movie was so much food for thought that afterwards I had to take a nap. :)

  • The imagery was absolutely beautiful. What with the prophets/Oracle, John the Baptist/Morpheus, Judas/Cypher, the ressurection and the messiah figure in general. I'd say in that respect its a lot more like (the novel) DUNE. Very well thought out Science Fiction... not Sci-Fi. :)
  • ... is the problem.

    They feed the dead humans to the humans. Ok. Humans are producing heat, and the Na+/K+ pumps are producing electrical imbalances. And the bodies of the humans are maintaining and building themselves on this. These are all wasteful steps. Assuming the CO2 and H20 could be converted back to 02 and various sugars (old c6h12o6 fer example), this requires an imput of energy as well. In short, entropy wins.

    They should have claimed the AI were using humans as biological computer components or something..
  • Given the number of clones and remakes of TV shows and movies, I'm thinking it's already happened for the most part. :)

  • I keep saying it over and over again, once you start doing something besides complaining about everything all the time then maybe your ideas can be taken seriously. Lighten the hell up man. WALDEN IS A STUPID BOOK!!! HALF ASSED INTELLECTUALS KEEP SAYING THAT THAT STUFF IS THE ONLY STUFF THAT MATTERS! They are wrong! I love ya man, but enough is enough. The reason I told you to see 'Henry Fool' is so you would not turn out to be Henry.

    Don't let that happen to you.
  • Oh wait. ALSO: Have you ever read a comic book?

    They are:

    A: Hyperreal

    B: Over exagerated.

    C: kinda funny/cool that way.

    So yeah. That stuff was funny. IT WAS SOPPOSED TO BE!!!

    Keanu was sopposed to be that way. This is not Shakespere (thank god) nothing could be more boring. If you want Shakespere, go see '10 things I hate about you' and complain about how the book was much better than the movie.

    btw: Shakespere on the stage seems was more forced and flat and wooden and laughable than Keanu.


    I even bust out during the tragedies its so fake seeming.
  • hehe me too... fun french read.
  • I am really suprised by Katz and Taco's reviews of Matrix. I just saw it tonight, and I couldn't help myself from laughing at it. I thought I would give it a report card, since I seem to be the only one that thought it was bad.

    Plot: B-
    Reason: I have to disagree with Katz... the movie repeatedly tries to explain what the Matrix is, and what the heck is going on. The movie isn't intended anymore for geeks/nerds than from Irish-Catholic school girls. Down to the grit, it's Terminator 2's "Good versus Evil" "Man versus Machine" idea. Nothing new was really added, just an alternate version of Term. 2. Much of it was pretty predictable since it was borrowed from other Sci-fi stories/movies.

    Ideas: A-
    Reason: The basic idea is a bunch of rebels trying to save Earth from evil robots. Sound like anything familar? It does raise interesting philosophical questions that one might ask themself in the tub... What is the difference between real and fantasy? .... Will technology be our own ultimate death? Even though these weren't new ideas they were presented in an interesting manner, which tied into the rest of the movie very well.

    Effects: A
    Reason: Some wicked graphics, including the infamous cinematic panorama shots. Great work with blowing up hotel lobbies and entire city blocks. If what you want to see is fire, blood, fire, bullets and squid-space machines than this will be a lovefest.

    Acting: C
    Reason: Keanu was pretty bad as was the whole lot of them, except some interesting philosophical moments with Fishburne. The jokes, as mentioned in the offical reviews were somewhat choked. Keanu is a pretty horrible kick-boxer, kung fu fighter. He has some pretty messy, overdramatic fighting scenes that left me laughing. The supporting cast is fairly strong, except they don't appear a great deal through out the show. Watch out for the rebel wearing Pleather (Plastic-leather)... She'll give ya a kick.

    Final Assessment: See the movie; make an opinion for yourself.
  • This is the most engrossing, thrilling, adrenaline pumping movie I have ever seen. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. Afterwards, my friends and I drove around town just saying "Holy WOW!" This movie gives a name to all the faceless people hiding from, and fighting the system. It gives a new furvor (sp) to those seeking to make a difference in the world. If you haven't yet, go see this movie, and take your friends. Take your laptop, hell, it'll enjoy it.
  • The movie reeked of descartes question of the mind. the 'evil demon' so to speak, and the question of what reality is. Commonly used in plots, such as Total Recall.
  • That's so funny, I mixed the two movies up in my head. I just assumed The Matrix was the movie I'd seen trailers for last year, but that's right, that was The 13th Floor.


    I'm hating the thought of seeing The Matrix, because I've got a sinking feeling its plot may be very close to a book I've been writing... How much is that gonna suck?
  • Okay, bad me. Read the spoiler comment down below. Its nothin' like my book. Yay! Now I can go see it without having that to worry about. :)
  • Morpheus mumbled something about "fusion" when talking about the energy situation.
    Which, i suppose, would totally destroy the need for humans. But still, an excellent movie.

    .. as for the love thing, i'm sure a lot of the important romantic elements among other things ended up on the cutting room floor to conserve time and make it a standard 2 hour movie.
  • sorry, forgot to kill the H1 tags.



    That said, The Matrix was not perfect. Item 1: Keanu Reeves. Why, God, why?

    everything else seemed to be at least readable.


  • see HBO's the making of the matrix. they have like 122 cameras in a semicircle at different angles. what's cool is you can reverse the shot as you go and other neat stuff.

  • If you've never seen your own face, how do you know what you look like?
  • Perhaps this falls under the Me Too domain, but I just wanted to say that I really enjoy these Taco vs Katz movie reviews. The only real problem is that Taco and Katz have similar tastes, so we really don't get the S&E type of dynamicisim.

  • However not recently. His very best part ever was in "The River's Edge".

    Crispin Glover was great in that too.


  • In the windy city, tickets cost me $8.50 plus a $1.25 service charge for teleticket, 'cause you can almost never get a ticket at the box office for first run movies opening weekend.
    My wife and I went to see the matrix, which I loved and want to see again and paid:

    2 tickets $19.00
    Regular coke, popcorn and raisinettes: $ 9.80
    3 hours Parking $12.00
    Total $40.80

    So, we just did our bit for the economy
  • Nah, the version i read has Johnny and Molly living with the Lo-Teks, (Molly got the Yakuza assassin to cut a hole in the Lo-Teks' floor which he promptly dropped through) and Johnny working with Jones (the ex-navy dolphin) to decode all the other information still in his head.

    Sometime between Johnny Memnonic and Neuromancer, Johnny gets killed, which is why Molly hooks up with Case.
  • In its day, Lawnmower man was a great movie. It was one of the first movies to have such high level CGI and all sorts of cool geek-type stuff. Not a great plot though.

    Now, years down the line, we know what we are capable of. Did anyone look at the list of fx specialists in the credits? This movie was phenomenal, and will be talked about for years until its successor comes, which makes me wonder, what geek movie will we be watching in ten years?

    Also, does anyone not see a direct relation between the gun scenes and Quake/Halflife/3d first-person shooter-type games? If someone develops a 3D version of the movie, it's going to be the next big thing -- first it was 3d (wolfenstein), then you could walk up stairs (quake), then aim up and down (duke3d), then you had true 3d characters (quake), and now true 3d sound (sin/unreal/the like). With a game based on the Matrix -- we now would have movement in 12 directions instead of merely 8 (think rotation). Not my cup o' tea, really, but it's a neat idea.
  • I added Matrix to my favorites list.
    It has just the right amount of details
    to enable suspension of disbelief.
    The fight scenes had some good moments
    I've not seen even in a Jackie movie
    and the special effects were rather
    good. The characters were also well
    acted and you got a feel for their
    personalities right away. Keanu's
    slightly deadpan style acting was
    perfect for the character he played.

    btw, I also like Mnemonic,
    so there , nyahh :-)
  • I was impressed by three things:

    1. The fact that the acting and writing were adequate, rather than the typical USA "Up All Night"-calibre tripe that leaves you thinking "That was two hours of my life that I will never get back."
    2. The sparring session between Neo and Morpheus. Reeves and Fishburne did that scene themselves, with no stuntmen. The Wachowskis took full advantage, pulling the camera into the fight. Usually, such scenes are between Jackie Chan and a stuntman listed in the credits as "Chinese Thug #2."
    3. The Style. The monochrome wardrobes. The way Morpheus' shades weren't mirrored, yet reflected everything. The campy, wooden-cool performances. The Nokia cellphones with the spring-loaded covers snapping out like empty gun clips (I want one!). And, most importantly, FX that served to emphasize the super-reality of the Matrix. There were plenty of money shots, but they fit the scenes, instead of bringing the movie to a screeching halt and saying "Hey, lookie what we did!"

    Bottom line: Go see this movie!

    Keith Russell
    Whatever happened to peaceful coexistance?
  • You're on to something here.

    Remember that real-world damage was caused by the mind's strong belief in the reality of the Matrix. Even skilled hackers, like Morpheus, could not suspend their belief enough to avoid getting hurt.

    Neo was the One because he could "disbelieve." I think he was hurt by the virtual bullets, went into cardiac arrest, and was forced to disbelieve the effect of the bullets to survive. His success allowed him to cross the threshold to the next level of his abilities, allowing him to do things like "see" the Matrix, stop bullets in mid-air, and kill an Agent.

    Of course, finding out he was destined to be with Trinity couldn't hurt! ;->

    Keith Russell
    Whatever happened to peaceful coexistance?
  • I saw them filming it around six to nine months back. Alot of the external shots are from the city CBD. The thing that bugs me is that they had to bring in left-hand drive cars to film the car scenes. What's wrong with the standard aussie right-hand drive?

    Anyway it was also filmed at our super duper new fox studios (about 20 mins from my house) where Star Wars 2 & 3 will also be filmed!!
  • If you're curious about the camera effects, there's a great article in this month's Shoot magazine.

    Some of the sequences were shot at several hundred frames per second so they could be slowed down. While this is not unusual with still cameras and subjects, for most of it it involved dozens or hundreds of camersa in an array around the actors, with the cameras streaming.

    The tricky part is hiding the cameras so you don't see them. What they did was film the action sequences in front of blue screens with holes cut in them for the lens (the lens hole could be painted out during compositing). Later the action sequences were composited onto the complex's shrapnel-filled lobby. VERY well done.

    I had my doubts at first about the movie, but it's very well done. MUCH better than recent hokey stuff like Lost in Space (blech!).

    They didn't even insult us technology types by using a web page interface to hack into the matrix. god I HATE when Hollywood dumbs down movies lower than an AOL user...
  • if you liked dark city, you'll love City of Lost Children [sony.com]. for the most part, i believe dark city took the theme from the earlier movie and tried to sanitize/americanize the story(i.e. underdog hero, romantic interest, happy ending)and change the story line enough not to be accused of plagiarism. COLC has the same feeling of dark city, but not quite as formulaic as a hollywood production. also, it has the same retro feeling that alot of current sci-fi has been rolling out(dark city, 5th element, even the matrix) in which the future isn't the shiny antiseptic vision, but one that somehow retains the grunge of yesteryear. this movie is definitely in my top-10, if-i-were-on-a-desert-island-and-had-to-pick-only- ten-movies list.
  • Actually, it's pretty surprising that Ebert likes _2001_ because Ebert was born in Urbana, IL just like HAL 9000. Seeing your fellow Urbanite go insane and get unplugged has to be pretty depressing.
  • The Matrix is one of the most fun movies I've seen in a theater in the past several years. I agree pretty much wholeheartedly with Rob's and Jon's reviews.

    I'd also like to note that it had a lot of similarities to Dark City, another movie I enjoyed a great deal. Not that this is a bad thing.

    When I saw it, it had a trailer for a movie called The 13th Floor, which has a similar, and likewise interesting concept to The Matrix and Dark City, but looks like it's not carried off nearly as well--an interesting juxtaposition.

  • There is no spoon.

    It's a VERY good movie. No reviewer can do it justice, and quite frankly, if you didn't go into like I did (I completely ignored everything about the movie but the trailer) you've got a preconceived notin or two that will *quickly* go away.

    As for our most Excellent Star...

    He can't help himself. I guess he figures better a plastic man than being cast as Ted for the rest of his life. Although Ted always slips out one way or another...
  • Hmm, maybe to went to the same show I did. I unconsiously whistled that theme during the "stare down your opponent" phase of Neo and Agent Smith's showdown. After the newspaper blew through, I couldn't help it. -- Chris Nye cnye@home.com Programming is an art form that fights back
  • Just thought I'd throw in my $0.02:

    I looked at Neo's ability as being able to re-program the Matrix at will, which goes beyond the other Resistance fighters being able to "bend the rules" (i.e. exploit bugs).

    BTW: I loved the cartoony crash landing of Neo's in the jump program. In case you haven't seen it and want to know: Neo tries follow Morpheus jumping between two skyscrapers. He doesn't make it and hits the street. But since this is only training, the street stretches like a big net, flings him up again, then he finally crashes to the (now solid) asphault.

    Chris Nye cnye@spamgegone.home.com
    Do the obvious to email
    Programming is an art form that fights back.
  • I took my little brother to see this one last night. After the credits rolled I looked down and found myelf sitting in a puddle of drool!

    My brother had it right. The movie's a mind fuck!

    What I especially liked were the way some of the effects were worked around the philosophy.

    How Cypher looked at encoded data and, as he put it, "Only see's blond...brunette...redhead..."

    Then you have Neo, at the end of the movie, looking at the agents and seeing data constructs.


    Chas - The one, the only.
    THANK GOD!!!

  • It doesn't matter that the movie had holes; as long as you didn't have time to think about them while you were watching it.

    I'd say that the movie was full of holes and silliness, but it doesn't matter; most action movies are (and yes, it was an action movie). They did a great job at suspending disbelief in this case, you hardly had time to think about whether the plot was credible or not.

    BTW, humans have mused about the "brain in a vat controlled by evil aliens" theory since Descartes. I'm just a little surprised no one's made a good movie about it until now (no Dark City was horrible).

  • It's more of an action film, but it has sci-fi elements. It just didn't take the ai-human thing very far. That, to me, was to only real flaw in this movie. They present you with this horrible circumstance, present it in a terrifying way, then they just blow the whole theme off. As if to say, "Oh, I can't deal with this - fuck it, let's just have some fun". Well, it was fun, but it didn't really have anything intelligent to say.

    Oh, and does anyone else think sci-fi has really sucked lately (ike the last ten years or so)? Look what they did to Starship Troopers. Sphere was unbvelieveably bad (a blatant rip-off of Solaris, which is a great movie) as are all the recent Crighton crap.

    The only sci-fi movie I've ever seen that managed to be both brilliant and dizzyingly action packed at the same time was Robocop. The Matrix just didn't cut it.

    But it was great to see Larry Fishburne in a good movie, he is a great actor, and has been in some real duds lately (remember Event Horizon - more horrible sci-fi). As good as Keanu Reeves is bad. And boy, Keanu Reeves is bad. But he did OK here, due mainly I suspect to competent direction and keeping his part of the script under 150 words, total (did anyone count?).

  • I've never seen the idea anywhere else. Yes, it was one of his arguments he rejected leading up to his famous cogito ergo sum, but as far as I know, no one else thought of that distinct possibility before Descartes.

    Of course we all know that Descartes was completely wrong, and that he stole the idea from Al Gore (when time traveling) anyway, who is controlled by Venusians led by Elvis.

  • Hi,

    Just a little FreeBSD horn blowing... A farm of dual processor FreeBSD boxes was used for the rendering of the the comupter graphics effects, much like the Linux farm used for Titanic. No details for now, but there should be a link somewhere soon.

  • Studio 28 Rocks! :-)

    (Yes, I'm originally from Michigan...)

  • Even Roger Ebert liked this movie a lot, which is surprising considering his dislike of Sci-Fi. What surprised me the most was Keanu Reeves doing yet another cyberpunk movie with what seems like a hard-to-follow storyline after the disastrous Johnny Mneumonic...
  • OK, I should revise my statement and say that he loves "artsy" sci-fi.

    (After I posted, I did recall that he did give Dark City 4/4 stars, so I will concede that there is a certain type of sci-fi film that he likes). However, is 2001, a film from the 60s, an accurate representation of contemporary sci-fi? I still fall asleep during it...(might just be the classical music!)
  • Hey all,

    I went and saw The Matrix last night, and all I could think about was how incredibly similar it was to Dark City, a movie which came out last year amidst the fury of Armageddon, Godzilla, etc and was not much noticed. Has anyone else seen Dark City? Essentially I think the equation representing The Matrix is: The Matrix = Dark City + Terminator + Hackers or reduced to 1x4 augmented matrix form [DC T H M] ;) There were so many similarities - I could point them out, but if you've seen Dark City then you can probably see them too. If you *haven't* seen Dark City go out and rent it and you'll see what I mean.

  • When he famously sits down in that easy chair by the fire, and starts thinking about what he actually knows about the world, Descartes decides that everything he has ever perceived might be an illusion foisted on him by an "evil genius"/devil who is lying to him.

    It's interesting how many of these technology-as-the-root-of-evil films come out of Hollywood. Are they merely mirroring our own fears of replacement/domination by machines?
  • Gnosticism is the essential religious idea in The Matrix, as it was in The Truman Show - the idea that day-to-day phenomenal reality is a lie and illusion perpetuated by a malicious pseudo-God, and that knowledge (Gnosis), rather than faith, was the key to liberation. It's a religious tradition that appeals to a more scientific temperment, even if its metaphysics are somewhat, let's say, complicated.

    Truman show is more of a Indo-Hellenic gnosticism - Truman, by dint of his own determination and overcoming his own fears, achieves total doubt and walks away from his world of illusion. The Matrix is more of a Christian Gnosticism - there is a messiah who is chartered with liberating all of us, and it is ultimately faith, rather than doubt, which saves, although doubt is still the conduit to salvation.

    I suspect that there's some historical reason for the proliferation of the idea that our day-to-day experience is a lie, that our phenomenal experience is a malicious or mercenary construct. Perhaps it has to do with the "end of history;" without the oppositional tension of Communism, the only engine of public truth is American/Western media. The apparent victory of American capitalism is so absolute, that it seems to dominate the landscape of thought itself, and the only resistance is doubt.
  • Normally I don't mind these Katz vs Taco review fests, but honestly, I think mine was better than either and gave away less important detail. Yer too fluffy, Taco - throw some substance in. We're not reading a review to have everything glossed over like that... Katz has ya beat here. ;)

    But while I'm posting: Hey, JonKatz! The technological runaway you describe is not an Omega Point, it's a Singularity, a point at which our current models of technological progress cease to apply. And that occurs once a posthuman/superhuman intelligence is created, not just an artificial one. I wish they'd hashed that out slightly more in the film.

    For clarification: The Omega Point is a concept debuted by Frank Tipler in his book The Physics of Immortality [amazon.com]: He claims that at the end of the Universe, during the Big Crunch, there will be an Omega Point at which time all that the Universe has ever experienced will exist once more, and all the consciousnesses that ever graced the Earth will once again be active. I think he's a crock.

    Vernor Vinge was the first to really express the Singulairty concept well. This is the text of his thesis on the subject:

  • I agree with almost everything said in the the two reviews.This movie was cool enough to almost make up for other movies such as "The Net". One thing that noone mentioned was the soundtrack, which was also better than expected. The cinematography was truly amazing in this movie, many of the scenes were done with 2 motion cameras and hundreds of still cameras so that they could pan around a stopped scene. I was also amazed to see Reeves not kill a movie. I don't usually like him as an actor, but he was awkward enough to work.

    Even the martial arts were good ( I'm a second-degree black belt ), the fight director for this film has done scores of other movies, but I believe this was the first one not done in Asia.

    Sci-Fi has been so bad lately, The Matrix is very much the exception. You won't be able to make it through without thinking over and over again, "Cool!"
  • Wing Commander...

    Don't avoid it. Lots of us went to see it, and had to physically restrain ourselves from throwing things at the screen. Sharp things, with pointy ends.

    Sci Fi movies lately have been terrible. Absolutely godawful. The Semi-Sci-Fi Enemy of the State was one of the notable "coulda been but wasn't" sci fi movies of late.

    Thus, to be sitting half an hour into Matrix, have them reveal what the Matrix is to us, and to have a little light bulb go on in the back of my head that says "Damn! I wasn't expecting that!" was pure delight.

    Between the Matrix, and the Phantom Menace (which, for the sake of argument, I'm going to pray to whatever gods exist in the place a long time ago and far, far away that it's as good as the original holy trilogy) perhaps we're now coming out of a long drought of palatable sci-fi/geek movies.

    Examples? In order of their release: Disney's Inspector Gadget, Cronenburg's eXistenZ, Burton's Sleepy Hollow, and Disney's Fantasia 2000. Let's hope we've seen the last of Wing "Gosh I don't think I once saw anything resembling a worthwhile plot" Commander type movies.

  • you mean
    1) the apocolyptic future (maya say world to end Dec 25, 2012)
    2) the art (those robots remind me of sculptures of mayan gods)
    3) the dual dependance that man and AI (gods) have on each other... man gives up his blood (in the form of heat) to feed the gods, while they are fed and thus provide man with a world to live in...

    yes, allegorical, both literally and symbolically
  • The Matrix didn't go far enough.

    For me, the most disappointing part of the movie (don't get me wrong; the movie as a whole totally rocked. But.) was when Laurence said something to the effect of "You think that the year is 1999, when in reality, it's probably closer to 2199."

    What I was kinda hoping for, and what woulda been very cool is if time as we know it didn't exist at all! Or... the world "as we know it" never existed.

    That would mean that this whole thing is a total farce. That "we" (as humans) were not merely living out our collective past, but living out a total lie. Maybe "we" existed in some form that would be totally unrecognizable to a human.

    When Neo first woke up in his little "bubble" with more such cells going on and on into infinity, I was totally freaked out. The thought that this could be the "real" universe, and all the universe had ever been, and all the universe would ever be, all but blew my mind.

    When Morpheus explained that that was just the universe "now" (ie: the year 2199, or whatever), it was a big letdown.

    Besides, if time also goes on inside the Matrix, then what happens when "matrix time" reaches the mid-21st century, or whenever the point is that the machines take over? Do we then have a Matrix inside the Matrix?

    Hmmm... maybe the Matrix as we saw already was inside another Matrix... that would be cool!

    (Oh... BTW: The best way to see it is on an IMAX screen...:-)

    Anyway... just a bit of nonsensical rambling on my part... pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!
    - Sean
  • I'm probably too late to the thread to post anything anyone will read, but, when you've got something to say, sometimes you gotta say it anyway.

    David Foster Wallace has a great essay on the idea of special effects porn, which completely describes the Matrix.

    How have special effects movies become like porn? Just subsitute F/X for intercourse. The plot is almost non-existant, and is only there to provide a sort of mental scaffolding on which to hang these sensuous, explosive payoff scenes -- the only reason you really go to see the movie in the first place.

    Wallace says special effects porn started with Terminator 2, but I say it goes at least as far back as Disney's awful awful Tron, which was, in its own way, quite visually exciting. This movie is merely Tron v. 2.0 , updated with all the latest special effects patches. Unfortunately, the plot of the new version, like most new versions of software, is radically expanded without providing any new utility.

    It's darn fun to watch -- it's porn, ain't it? -- but afterward, you might wonder what's wrong with the world, and why you're stuck with masturbation instead of a real relationship.

If you suspect a man, don't employ him.