Every once in a while, especially when you do not watch that many movies and therefore carefully pick the ones you see, you need to go and see a truly horrendously bad movie. Just to remind you that there is such a thing as good and bad moviemaking. just to make sure you have not entirely lost your ability to tell a crappy movie when you see one.

Despite a widespread, though totally unfounded, belief, I am not an eternally unsatisfied cynical pain in the ass: at least not for movies.
I tend to look for redeeming qualities in every single one I watch and usually end up finding some. Lately, no movie was really not worth watching. At least that’s how it felt.

I mean, even Matrix Reloaded seemed to convey some sort of cinematographic interest and did not give me the feeling I had thrown away two (three?) hours of my precious and short existence to watch it… although it certainly did help that I saw it off a divx, on a friend’s home theater system, hence without shelling out any of my hard-earned money to help produce more bloated, self-indulgent, black-is-the-new-black, oh-look-yet-another-kung-fu-fight movies like that.
And by the way, the fact that a movie so blatantly tries to sell you the next sequel by letting its contrived plot lazily hanging by the balls at the end of what is already a blatantly artificially created sequel, just begs for widespread piracy over the internet. how can you so shamelessly display your will to squeeze every possible buck out of a movie franchise… and then be shocked when every good netizen puts to work their freshly learnt lesson in movie-capitalism by saving themselves the inflated multiplex ticket price and escaping release marketing schemes thanks to cut-throat internet competition.
Lazy franchises like the Matrix Reloaded deserve to be pirated.

Well, I guess I did not like the Matrix 2 that much after all…

But seriously, beside all the unavoidable hollywood bullshit factors, none of the movies I saw recently gave me an irrepressible urge to go back in time and warn myself against spoiling neurons which could have been used so much more wisely by dropping acid and sitting in front of my screensaver for hours.

I am not talking about the obviously bad stuff. The flicks where you just need to spot the mere presence of Martin Lawrence in the cast, some talentless pop-star’s real-life story in the plot or Jerry Bruckheimer in the credits… to know beforehand that you are dealing with movies so aggressively bad that no amount of mind altering substance or date’s groping in the dark can make them even remotely bearable.
See, using common sense and any internet movie database cross-referencing, it is pretty easy to spot the marks that a given movie is a sure shot for mtv’s funniest-dood-movie-of-the-year award.

But here, we are talking about the work of one of this decade’s best director, shooting a classic, popular – if not deeply intellectual – story and most likely endowed with an holywood budget proportional to the size of its main protagonist. Everyone was expecting something slightly out of the ordinary. And I guess nobody would have complained if Ang Lee had injected to the traditionally brain hemorrhaging blockbuster style some degree of wit and wisdom, as he has done so masterfully in the past.

Well, I am glad to announce it is still possible to find desperately bad movies with no attenuating circumstances or excuses.

I am also extremely thankful I did not spend any money on this one, as I would have been morally obligated to engage in a long and costly civil lawsuit against the studio, the actors and the director, seeking retribution for psychological damage and the excruciatingly painful state of bore where this movie has kept me for two hours.

Hulk, the movie, is one of the worst piece of cinematography I have ever seen.

I won’t comment on the CGI craft, or lack thereof, since I am clearly biased by my blind hatred toward most uses of cgi in recent films, where the semi-decent to nearly-believable quality of the effects seem good enough excuses for absence of proper acting, incoherent plot and epileptic editing. No need to restate that, in the end, intelligent use of technology and subtle blend of special effects made the Lord of The Rings infinitely more watchable than, say, Spiderman.

Hulk the movie is bad, not only because most aspects suck so openly, but also because you can tell where the director tried really hard and failed lamentably. Setting unreachable goals is not, in my book, any attenuating circumstance for not even managing to come within reach of them.

One example: it is not hard to see how Ang Lee, through different nifty cinematographic tricks, tried to literally render the world of comic books. All kind of split screens, simultaneous multiple angles, pop transition effects, not to mention a cartoony looking monster, make it all look like animated paper comic… or rather, it is supposed to… because even though the intent is clear, it is about as successful at it as the uber kitsch original batmanrobin show (you know, the one where you see big “POW!” and “TACK!” popping on screen each time they punch a villain)…

As for the actors and their characters: it is hard to discern if you are watching crappy acting, crappy dialogues or just both combined. Every actor seem to have mastered the art of uttering their line with complete absolute dullness, which after all, fits the quality of the dialogues.
The repressed military/distant father character plays so well distant repressed rage that you really need to listen carefully to his words to understand he is not placing a pizza order.
Every character is a one dimensional space filler constantly struggling to keep itself out of zero-dimensionality (and this is not exactly the kind of struggle that you get into)… The villains are so enticing and present in the plot that the lead evil character in the whole movie is basically a yapping mutant french poodle (I am not kidding).

As for the plot, I spent the first two thirds of the movie wondering why it took so long to start the story… and then realized that this was the story.
I don’t think I will be spoiling anything by telling you it’s about a doomed scientist who is, deep-down inside, a repressed monster waiting to get out, who finally get out, get captured, get out again, trashes stuff around and finally dies. Well, sort of dies, because in what seem like one of hollywood’s most audacious moment, somebody at the studio apparently think there was room for a sequel.

And considering that even The Fast and the Furious got their “sequel”, it is reasonable to fear this monstrosity might get one too. The mere thought of it sends shivers of fear and hate down my spine.

Anyway, did I tell you how bad I thought this movie was?

A rather well written movie review by Adam Gopnik interestingly trying to enumerate the more or less plausible philosophical references alluded to by the Wachowski bros. in the two first volumes of their magnum opus.
Along with an entertaining and mostly negative critic of the sequel, is the attempt to go over the first episode once again and dig a much decomposed corpse from a grave where it is high time to let it rest: “Philosophy and the Matrix”. In one single column, Adam Gopnik manages to cram references to no less than: Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek, French philosopher Jean Beaudrillard, the Cathar religion (with some glaring mistakes and inaccuracies, by the way), Plato, Daniel Dennett, Robert Nozick, Hilary Putnam and Princeton philosopher James Pryor, along with a host of other writers and the predictable -yawn- tribute to sci-fi grand pubah Philip K. Dick…

So, beside letting us know in lengths that he is a highly refined, well-read, educated man who knows his classics and beyond, Mr Gopnik nonetheless listed an interesting point made by James Pryor and worth rehashing a bit more:

[…] the Princeton philosopher James Pryor posed the question “What’s so bad about living in the Matrix?,” and, after sorting through some possible answers, he concluded that the real problem probably has to do with freedom, or the lack of it. “If your ambitions in the Matrix are relatively small-scale, like opening a restaurant or becoming a famous actor, then you may very well be able to achieve them,” Pryor says. “But if your ambitions are larger —e.g., introducing some long-term social change— then whatever progress you make toward that goal will be wiped out when the simulation gets reset”…

Quite a good point imho, “what is so bad about living in the Matrix?”, well, absolutely nothing in most cases. It is even a good deal if you praise the stability of the overall system and inner limitations put on any social interferences.

So, if you are quite satisfied with the system -and who isn’t?- who cares if it is not the original system designed for you. What difference does it make? The essential is that it works, and that it works for you in particular…
Opening that restaurant, becoming that famous actor or getting that job promotion… all these are more likely to happen soon in a well-ordered, Matrix-style system than in the chaos which could only replace it. Right?
Better yet, your dream to gather the entire collection of Matrix action figures or the ultimate website repository of matrix’ links: where do you think you stand better chance to achieve it? within the Matrix… Or outside in the wild ?
Of course, the system has its flaws, not everybody get their fair share of happiness and it even seems like only a handful of people do… but what if that’s the only way for you to get what you consider your well-deserved fair share of happiness?

By now I hope you understand that this is not only about the metaphoric Matrix concept such as exposed in the movie, it’s much more generally the idea of a “thought system”, more or less efficient, unconsciously adopted by the majority, thus redefining for the masses what is “real” and what is not… it can be religious, political or even much deeper down in the psyche of civilizations…

Anyway, just thought it was somewhat amusing that most fans of the movie and overall the type of people who kept nodding their head and mumbling “I knew it” while exiting the theater, when given the choice, would typically prefer to remain within “the matrix”…

Nobody waited for Warner Bros to devise ways of controlling people’s minds or to wonder about how much credit we can give to our senses
Religious and political systems have been quite successful at the former, and still are nowadays, to the best of my knowledge. Like a perfectly designed Matrix, they usually ensure that you are assimilated or disposed of.
It is also essential that nobody sees what’s on the other side of the wall, look at the USSR or the USA of the 50’s ? How much accurate information did each one know of each other ? For either one, the other side was about as real as a propaganda cartoon on national TV… still is to this day, except the sphere of influence of one matrix has eventually overcome and practically erased the other.

As it has been pointed out way too many times already: yes, we live in the “Matrix”… but does anyone really want to get out of it?
I doubt it.

Ok, time to go to catch Fox news.