Andy & Lana Wachowski

Andy and Lana (formerly Larry) Wachowski have only done six movies, but boy their first two were so special one thought they’d be a legendary super-director team.  I don’t know if The Matrix sequels derailed them or they just ran out of ideas (they also write their movies). Or maybe they ran out of Joe Pantoliano. Either way, they are highly skilled at directing fight scenes and are pretty good at understanding suspense. But as far as getting the most out of their actors they’re only average and their writing appears to be hit and miss, perhaps too ambitious as of late.

The Matrix Reloaded: Not-needed sequel failed in part because it ruined the mystique of the original, over-explaining everything. Some decent action scenes, but man I felt nothing while watching this. So much so that I haven’t bothered to watch the final movie.

Grade: D-

Bound: A genuinely tense thriller that relies heavily on situational tension rather than manufactured scares, An ex-con (Gina Gershon) teams up with her new lover (Jennifer Tilly) to swindle millions from the mob while framing Tilly’s boyfriend, Joe Pantoliano. Very tight script with slick direction. Tilly and Gershon have good chemistry, and Pantoliano is outstanding. And just so my wife knows, I don’t like Bound just because of the lesbian scene.

Grade: B

The Matrix: I had high expectations when I saw this in the theater and they were met tenfold. I was blown away by the special effects, possibly the only time that’s ever happened. The fight scenes are some of my favorite ever. But more than that, I found the pacing of the movie to be brilliant, with very effective doses of tension. Hugo Weaving plays the cold-as-ice lead agent perfectly, and the rest of the cast is capable, especially Pantoliano and Carrie Ann-Moss. Keanu Reeves doesn’t get in the way, which is the best he can probably do. The plot (is our reality the real reality?) is not terribly original, and sometimes the philosophizing and Jesus references gets to be a bit much, but the story is revealed layer by layer, with the viewer never knowing more than the main protagonist. Repeated viewings weakens the movie only slightly.

Grade: A

Other Wachowski Movies You May Have Seen

Matrix Revolutions
Speed Racer
Cloud Atlas

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19 thoughts on “Andy & Lana Wachowski

  1. The first Matrix movie is so much fun that I don’t know if I’ve ever anticipated a sequel in my adult life as much as I did Matrix Reloaded. Utter shite, for all of the reasons you stated, as well as various others (for some reason, the Wachowskis thought were in dire need of both a philosophy lesson and an extended orgy scene).

    I kept hearing that the third movie was better, and it was, but getting a D+ instead of an F isn’t much of an improvement.

      • I had a bad feeling about Crystal Skull. I’m not sure why that was. I didn’t even want to go to see it, but a big group of friends were getting together, so I thought “why not?”

        I regained a lot of faith in my gut instincts that day.

        • Oh, by the time it was released, I wasn’t all that excited about it. But I obsessively followed a website devoted to Indy IV for about seven years, with the peak of my excitement occurring when they announced Darabont was working on a script.

          • All of these movies being discussed are one of the biggest reasons I avoid movie theaters like the plague, much to my wife’s dismay. I don’t like paying $30+ to go to a movie that will probably suck when I can just wait for it to come out on Netflix and still get plenty of enjoyment out of it if it doesn’t suck.

          • I only go a few times per year, and then only if it’s a movie I feel like I might regret not seeing in the theater (i.e. something big on spectacle or special effects). I’ll make occasional exceptions if I’m really confident the movie will be good (e.g. Pixar) or if Roger Ebert loves it (sad face).

            Now that I finally have a flat screen television, it’s even less important.

  2. Heh, the thought just occured to me that possibly the two most anticipated trilogies not named LOTR in recent memory (at least, The Matrix I think became way anticipated because of the first movie) managed to be so bad that I know virtually no one who has seen the third movie.

  3. I was blown away by The Matrix. I didn’t expect to like it – my snobbery was much worse then than it even is now – but everything worked, right down to using two actors for characters with no emotion that are horrible at showing emotion. My only regret is that I saw it on a tiny-ass tube TV and I’m sure I’d be more blown away now.

    Never saw the sequels – I listen pretty closely for reviews from people I trust. I did end up seeing a mind-numbingly long car chase scene from one of them. When I entered the room, that’s what was on, and when I left, it was still on eight or ten minutes later, with no end in sight, no action that changed the situation and almost no dialogue. Fucking putrid.

    Turns out I’ve seen none of their other movies. I’m in no rush to see any others, either.

  4. Stumbled across your directorial review(s) this morning and have been trying to avoid it all day. The second and third installments of the Matrix were so bad that they negatively influenced my opinion of the first.

      • Perhaps I’m misunderstanding your response (or vice versa) – what I meant was that I wanted to read through all of them but can’t afford to do it at work.

          • I wasn’t sure and didn’t want to get off on the wrong foot…Interesting how much an emoticon can affect the tenor of a comment.

    • I look at sequels the same way I look at remakes – they’re just another production, unrelated to the first in many ways, that’s not meant to further the story but to make money from the people who loved the first.

      Stephen King, in On Writing, had this to say (paraphrased): “They can never change a word you wrote in the original. Don’t worry about it.”

      Also, when a sequel gets reviews as bad as the second Matrix movie, don’t see it. Also(x2), if the second one is that terrible, why subject yourself to the third?! Corny, Corny…

      • I’ll watch pretty much anything. Also, my opinions are notorious for exuberance or revulsion…I don’t have a very practiced/critical eye.

      • I can kind of see where Corn is going with it. The first movie has a philisophy but it’s a bit vague and allows the viewer to fill in the gaps. The second movie forces a philosophy on you, and it’s hard to un-remember that. In this case it hasn’t affected my enjoyment of the first movie, but I could see where it could. Imagine if in Back to the Future II, we were told Marty had sex with mom multiple times off-screen in the first movie. It would be hard not to think about that while watching the first again and I’d probably get the willies.

        But yeah, seeing the third movie seems curious :) I only saw the second because it was on TV while I was wrapping Xmas presents one year.

        • Hmm. So maybe he does have a leg to stand on. I do believe that the sequel shouldn’t change anything we “knew” in the first, but I’m so obsessed with honoring the original piece of art that the thing I suggested to someone on a message board a few weeks ago was “If you don’t want the sequel to exist, it doesn’t. That’s the beauty of art.”

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