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Thread: Top 10 Underrated SF&F Films!

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    Down With the Sickness! Jack T. Chance's Avatar
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    Top 10 Underrated SF&F Films!

    This topic was inspired by a very good blog entry I found on Mania.Com (Previously Known As Cinescape.Com). The blogger there came up with a list of 10 Science Fiction and Fantasy films that he considers to be criminally underrated. Since some of my favorite SF&F films are on his list, it got me thinking about the 10 I would pick, since he did pick a few films that I either haven't seen yet, or don't like as much as he liked them.

    First, a quick recap of his list:
    1. Equilibrium and Until the End of the World (tie)
    2. La Cite Des Enfants Perdus (City of Lost Children)
    3. Gattaca
    4. Solaris
    5. CQ
    6. Confederate States of America
    7. Code 46
    8. Pi
    9. eXistenZ
    10. Night Watch
    To read more about his choices, click the link above. I missed out on several of the films he mentions, so I'm going to have to watch them when I get a chance.

    This is simply a topic about sharing your OWN choices for underrated SF&F films, which may help someone discover a great little film they missed. Please keep negative views about any of the films posted here to a minimum! If you want to discuss your dislike of any of the films mentioned here, I encourage you to start your own thread for that purpose!

    Now then, onto my list. Since most superhero comics fall into the SF&F category, I'll be including some superhero movies in this list, too.
    • 10. John Carpenter's They Live. This little cult classic from the '80s features "Rowdy" Roddie Piper as a drifter who arrives at a new town, and accidentally stumbles upon a big conspiracy: Aliens have infiltrated our society, and are controlling the Earth's citizens through subliminal messages! A great little low-budget alien invasion flick, that handles its subject matter very effectively. For my money, it's the best John Carpenter movie I've seen (but then again, I've never seen The Thing. :-|)
    • 9. Daredevil. I'm not what you'd call a Daredevil fan, I've never read his comics. I'm only familiar with the character from his guest appearances in Spider-Man and other books (or cartoons). And I wouldn't call myself a Ben Affleck fan, either. But I enjoyed this movie a lot. Based on what little I do know about the character, and the comic stories they adapted, I thought they did a good job. Besides, I love Jennifer Garner, so seeing her as Elektra was a real treat, too! ;-)
    • 8. Ang Lee's Hulk. While this film is almost universally hated by critics and fanboys on messageboards, I LOVE it! I think the real problem with this film is that people went in expecting the Bill Bixby TV show, which it is NOT. This film adheres more closely to the comic stories than the TV show did, and Ang Lee chose to delve into the psychological and emotional reasons for Banner becoming the Hulk. I loved every minute of it, and each time I watch the movie, I like it even MORE! The action scenes ARE there, and at least for me, Ang Lee achieved his goal of using drama to build things up so that every time Banner hulks out, it feels natural and appropriate for him to do so. The tension builds, you can see outside forces making him angry, and then BAM, he's smashing everything in sight! IMHO, the people that hate this movie just don't truly get the character, or the concepts at work in the movie. :-P
    • 7. Hiyao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke. This anime masterpiece is, for this viewer, the best anime film of all time. An epic fantasy that outdoes any Holywood fantasy film in one very important respect: the characters are portrayed as REAL PEOPLE. There is no black or white in this film, no pure good and pure evil. No traditional good guys or bad guys. Everyone's a shade of grey, just like in real life. And that's one of the things that makes this film so powerful. And its incredible imagery proves that in the current day & age, when CGI can show us anything the filmmakers can imagine, there are still some images that are best achieved through hand-drawn animation. The fact that this incredible masterpiece only made a few million dollars in its US release proves that Disney/Buena Vista criminally mishandled its Stateside release. :-(
    • 6. Code 46. I saw this film with a friend of mine. After reading rave reviews of it, I drove to a small, art house theater near D.C. to see it. And it was well worth the effort. This independent film is my favorite kind of SF film: SF in the style of true literary SF. It tackles some heavy subject matter, and raises more questions than it answers. The performances by the actors are brilliant, and the film should leave you thinking about it for days afterwards.
    • 5. Children of Men. An adaptation of a novel by the same name, this movie is another one like Code 46, a film done in the style of written SF. In this movie, director Alfonso Cuarˇn (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) conjures up a fully-realized, nightmarish future, in a world unsettlingly like the modern Middle East. The film may leave you depressed, but that's because it shows us images of a nightmarish future that is all too close to becoming reality. The film has drawn rave reviews, and I know many of you have already seen it. So why do I consider it criminally underrated? Simple. It was released (in limited release) on Christmas Day, 2006... just in time for Oscar consideration. But as far as I know, the Academy completely snubbed the film when it came time for the Oscar nominations. The film was not nominated for Best Film, as far as I know. And the incredible performances of all the actors and actresses involved were, AFAIK, ignored by the Academy. Which is, in my mind, a great injustice. Cuarˇn has created what is, without a doubt, a masterpiece. It's a real shame the Academy couldn't recognize that achievement. :-(
    • 4. The Matrix sequels. I don't understand why so many people hate these films. As far as I'm concerned, they are a logical continuation of the story begun in the first film. They continue, and then conclude, Neo's hero's journey in the way the Wachowski Brothers always intended it to end. Throughout the first movie, there are omens of things to come. I recently read a magazine article that suggested that the reason many people like the first film, and only the first film, is that they ignored the thought provoking, dramatic story elements, and only paid attention to the action scenes. I think the article's writer hit the nail right on the head. I will continue to be a fan of ALL the films, and no one's going to change my mind on that one. :-P
    • 3. The Star Wars prequels. I am one of the biggest Star Wars fans I know. I'm from the original "Star Wars Generation". I was not quite 5 when the first movie blasted onto movie screens, and I was instantly hooked from the first viewing. In 1999, when Episode I came out, I was there opening day to see it. And I immediately saw it again the next day! That film took me back to my childhood, took me back to that galaxy far, far away, and showed me a vision of the Star Wars universe that I had previously only seen in my mind's eye. Then Episode II came out, and I liked it even more! And then, of course, came Episode III, showing us Anakin's final fall to the Dark Side, easily the strongest film of the trilogy. Did Lucas have some clumsy moments, some scenes that didn't work as well as they should have? Sure. He SHOULD have enlisted someone to help him with the romance angle, because the romantic scenes with Amidala and Anakin are this trilogy's weakest moments. But I still love these films. But then again, I didn't spend 16 years between trilogies working out my own, complex, fan fiction back story that I was so convinced was right, that I couldn't handle Lucas' version disagreeing with it, which is what a lot of people apparently did! I was content to let Lucas tell his story, and accept that story as is. Must be the secret to enjoying the prequels, I think! ;-)
    • 2. Equilibrium. This was the first Christian Bale film I saw, at least as far as I'm aware of. And I'm sad to say I missed it when it was in theaters, and have only seen it on DVD. I had read negative reviews of it, saying unfavorable things about it ripping off The Matrix, 1984, Logan's Run, and possibly a few other SF classics. It was only on the recommendation of a good friend, who was convinced that I would love it, that I finally rented the DVD. And I'm glad I did! This film is more than the sum of its parts. It's a great little SF story about a man rebelling against an unjust government that he works for. And one of the ending scenes, where you get to see Taye Diggs quite literally "lose face", is fantastic... albeit in a sadistic way! ;-)
    • 1. Gattaca. This movie is, in my humble opinion, the best SF movie of the 1990s. It follows in the best traditions of literary SF. It takes a big, important issue - genetic engineering, and discrimination based on one's genes - and examines it through the eyes of a few characters. It is this powerful character drama that anchors the film, and gets you invested in the story and its outcome. A powerful statement about how a person can overcome the greatest obstacles to achieve their goals, I can't recommend this film enough. When watching the film on DVD, be sure to watch the deleted Afterword/Coda sequence. It is a fitting ending for the movie, and helps to eloquently drive home the point the film was trying to make.
    And now that I've rambled on about my choices for long enough, it's time for your lists! I look forward to learning about some great little films I've missed!
    Last edited by Jack T. Chance; June 24, 2007 at 11:12pm. Reason: Updated the stated purpose for this thread.
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    Heroic Warrior
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    Gattaca was a fantastic film, and I can't believe it's not more popular than it is.

    Most SF Fans have never even heard of it, but anybody who's seen it with me, has thoroughly enjoyed it.

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    The Supreme Being LeelooMinai's Avatar
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    AMEN to Equilibrium! I loved it when I saw it! It's definitely in my favorite films of all time list.
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    I love that They Live, Daredevil, Hulk, The Matrix sequels, and the Star Wars prequels made it on the list.

    I am very impressed with the review on Hulk. I felt that not alot of people liked it do to it not being a "Hulk Smash" movie. Everyone did a great job in the movie and plaed it to a T...

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    Some call me "Tom" Positor's Avatar
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    I happen to be very fond of many of the Underrated movies listed.

    I am also a big fan of Underrated Sword and Sorcery flicks like The Scorpian King, The Beastmaster, The Sword and the Sorcerer, Krull, Dragonslayer, and The Blood of Heroes.

    I love the Matrix Sequels and enjoy the Star Wars Prequels. Hulk had it's flaws, but... whatever.

    I'm also a fan of Gattaca. I remember when I saw The Island a year or so ago, it was very reminiscent of Gattaca. It was almost a little bit of THX 1138 combined with Gattaca. In fact, The Island is just as underrated as both. I could care less about Micheal Bay. He's not looking to make Oscar Winning movies. He makes movies for fun.

    I like some of the Planet of the Apes sequels. Would those count as underrated?
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    Heroic Warrior Milk Man's Avatar
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    No offense to anyone but I really think Solaris was a very very boring movie.
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    Nutter Christophalophalos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Milk Man View Post
    No offense to anyone but I really think Solaris was a very very boring movie.
    Try watching the Russian original, about an hour longer
    and even slower pace!

    I did find the scenes where Clooney kept trying to get rid
    of his missus quite funny though, in an odd sort of way....

    Chris.

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    Heroic Warrior Milk Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christophalophalos View Post
    Try watching the Russian original, about an hour longer
    and even slower pace!

    I did find the scenes where Clooney kept trying to get rid
    of his missus quite funny though, in an odd sort of way....

    Chris.
    There was a Russian version?!
    No wonder the price of Vodka's gone up and everyone's ended up drinking nail polish over there these days.
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    That Marvelous SOB sonofblaine's Avatar
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    Undead- I've heard alot of people bash this one, but I thought it was pretty fun.

    Night of the Comet - Another very fun romp that's always fallen under the radar.
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    Heroic Warrior Blue's Avatar
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    Nice topic. I've always been a fan of the old sword and sorcery flicks like Conan and Red Sonya. Arnold kicks butt in those.

    Lately, I've noticed a trend to bash the third part in trilogies even when it's a decent installment. I really like Terminator 3, X-Men 3, and Spider-Man 3. Spider-Man 3 in particular had an excellent message about hatred vs forgiveness so it really irritated me when critics dismissed it as action fluff. That movie rocked! Also, X-Men 3 dealt with the mutant issue in a very personal way and had a decent amount of fight scenes. It's my favorite in the series yet X 1--a near snooze fest of lengthy dialogue and dorky weapon that reminds me of an amusement part ride--gets more respect. Yes X 1 had some great moments, but so did X3!
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    Assimilate, or else!! krosfyah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack T. Chance View Post
    [*]8. Ang Lee's Hulk. While this film is almost universally hated by critics and fanboys on messageboards, I LOVE it! I think the real problem with this film is that people went in expecting the Bill Bixby TV show, which it is NOT. This film adheres more closely to the comic stories than the TV show did, and Ang Lee chose to delve into the psychological and emotional reasons for Banner becoming the Hulk. I loved every minute of it, and each time I watch the movie, I like it even MORE! The action scenes ARE there, and at least for me, Ang Lee achieved his goal of using drama to build things up so that every time Banner hulks out, it feels natural and appropriate for him to do so. The tension builds, you can see outside forces making him angry, and then BAM, he's smashing everything in sight! IMHO, the people that hate this movie just don't truly get the character, or the concepts at work in the movie. :-P
    I agree 98%


    [*]4. The Matrix sequels. I don't understand why so many people hate these films. As far as I'm concerned, they are a logical continuation of the story begun in the first film. They continue, and then conclude, Neo's hero's journey in the way the Wachowski Brothers always intended it to end. Throughout the first movie, there are omens of things to come. I recently read a magazine article that suggested that the reason many people like the first film, and only the first film, is that they ignored the thought provoking, dramatic story elements, and only paid attention to the action scenes. I think the article's writer hit the nail right on the head. I will continue to be a fan of ALL the films, and no one's going to change my mind on that one. :-P

    I disagree 100% if that were the case they'd still rank the sequels because they had MORE over the top action sequences than the original. I found the original BORING to be honest. but after seeing the sequels I appreciate it more because it's abetter crafted movie. the sequels IMO DON'T have a resolution, things just go back to what they were essentially except the humans agree to be food and if they disagree then that's fine too. I found the so called intellectual themes too heavy handed and very easy to follow. they wanted to hit you over the head with the idea of reality not being real and I find that some people (not pointing any fingers) like to look down their nose at people who didn't like matrix by saying that it's because they didn't understand it. in fact it was VERY simple to understand and follow, I just found they didn't do it in an interesting way. Ghost in the Shell presented the idea in a MUCH better way IMO. BUT top each their own and I won't try to convince you or anyone else to hate the movies...just offering a counter to what that article you mentioned said.



    I also agree with Blue about X3 over X1 sure it was more style than substance but I found X1 to be REALLY boring, much like Superman Returns. X3 had Frasier as an action hero??? that automatically gives a movie 3 stars from me!!
    Last edited by krosfyah; June 24, 2007 at 11:39am.
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    That Marvelous SOB sonofblaine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack T. Chance View Post
    [*]8. Ang Lee's Hulk. While this film is almost universally hated by critics and fanboys on messageboards, I LOVE it! I think the real problem with this film is that people went in expecting the Bill Bixby TV show, which it is NOT. This film adheres more closely to the comic stories than the TV show did, and Ang Lee chose to delve into the psychological and emotional reasons for Banner becoming the Hulk. I loved every minute of it, and each time I watch the movie, I like it even MORE! The action scenes ARE there, and at least for me, Ang Lee achieved his goal of using drama to build things up so that every time Banner hulks out, it feels natural and appropriate for him to do so. The tension builds, you can see outside forces making him angry, and then BAM, he's smashing everything in sight! IMHO, the people that hate this movie just don't truly get the character, or the concepts at work in the movie. :-P
    I'll agree too, to a point. I actually did and do enjoy this movie up until his father becomes Absorbing Man and they fight. It was the ONLY time, since Abyss, when I was 10, that I fell asleep in a movie theater. It could have ended somehow around when he was taken into custody. His father showing up in his cell, messing with his mind, etc didn't need to happen. I still dont' emember totally how it all went down. I just remember his father in the cell then suddenly I wake up and his father's a huge electrical being, very strange, then a nother blur, and the ending that could have been after Bruce escapes custody... him in South/Middle America, Saying "You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."
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    Assimilate, or else!! krosfyah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sonofblaine View Post
    I'll agree too, to a point. I actually did and do enjoy this movie up until his father becomes Absorbing Man and they fight. It was the ONLY time, since Abyss, when I was 10, that I fell asleep in a movie theater. It could have ended somehow around when he was taken into custody. His father showing up in his cell, messing with his mind, etc didn't need to happen. I still dont' emember totally how it all went down. I just remember his father in the cell then suddenly I wake up and his father's a huge electrical being, very strange, then a nother blur, and the ending that could have been after Bruce escapes custody... him in South/Middle America, Saying "You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."
    i'll agree that the final fight was TERRIBLE, but I liked the effect used on absorbing man when he gets those powers really cool.
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    Movie Machine shigsy2003's Avatar
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    Howdy

    Blade Runner
    Hulk
    Spirited Away

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    Etherian 626 gnewton34's Avatar
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    I think Titan A.E. is one of the most underrated sci-fi movies ever. I loved that movie. eXistenZ is one messed up movie if you've ever watched it. It's actually good. That's the only one out othe first guy's list that I've ever seen, some of those I haven't heard of.

    I don't know if I'd necessarily consider Hulk and Daredevil sci-fi or fantasy, I think they're in their own comic book/action movie genre. Hulk is borderline sci-fi and Daredevil is borderline fantasy but not enough for me to lump them in those categories. Even then, I don't think they're grossly underrated either. I don't think Princess Mononoke is underrated at all. There's no real hatred or disrespect out there for the movie, it's just not very well known because of it's country of origin. It's loved by most of the people who know about it.

    And Night of the Comet is so awesomely 80's.

    Spirited Away is not underrated either, it won an Oscar for best animated film.
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    ^ The scene where the earth literally BLOWS UP, is a powerful scene.....I love the music in the movie too.

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    Mad Scientist Dr_Evil's Avatar
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    1. Tron
    2. Daredevil
    3. Hulk

    As for the Star Wars prequals, you'd have to be either an under 10, a woman, or a member of the undead to enjoy watching those piles of Bantha do-do!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr_Evil View Post
    As for the Star Wars prequals, you'd have to be either an under 10, a woman, or a member of the undead to enjoy watching those piles of Bantha do-do!
    Hey, I'm a woman, and I couldn't stand any of the prequels! Not all of us are easily swayed with badly acted "romantic scenes" or will eat up anything Lucas throws at us just because it's new and labeled "Star Wars"

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    Mad Scientist Dr_Evil's Avatar
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    Not to mention "cute" giant lop eared bunnies (i.e. The Binks) clowning around....

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    Heroic Warrior LaRock's Avatar
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    No mention of Ice Pirates?

    I like Equilibrium and Pi alot. I also like eXistenZ a bit.

    One of my guilty pleasure sci-fi movies is Enemy Mine with Dennis Quaid and Lou Gossett Jr.
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    Formerly thew39 thew40's Avatar
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    I always liked Treasure Planet. I thought it was a fantastic movie with a lot of energy and emotion. Though it broke from it's Treasure Island mold and was bashed for not living up the Disney legacy, I absolutely love this movie.

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    Well, I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels the Hulk has elements worth defending.

    So many people can't get past their expectations and view a movie objectively, seeing the good in it as well as the bad, especially for the Hulk and the Star Wars prequels.

    Parts of them are bad, but parts kick ass as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thew40 View Post
    I always liked Treasure Planet. I thought it was a fantastic movie with a lot of energy and emotion. Though it broke from it's Treasure Island mold and was bashed for not living up the Disney legacy, I absolutely love this movie.

    ~W~
    Had they adapted Treasure Island, I would've been all for it, but I just didn't like the fact that they departed so completely from the source material.

    there's nothing wrong with the original story, as originally told, and I think Disney did a disservice to Stevenson's work as a direct result.

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    Mad Scientist Dr_Evil's Avatar
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    I liked the Hulk movie. Serious plot, well thought out characters, good acting and when it came time to have a punch up the film excelled itself. All the fighting had a purpose and was logical, not to mention the sight of Hulk taking on a platoon of M1 Abrams, a bunch of AH-66 Comanche's and a couple of F-22 Raptor's was quite something to behold!

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    The Supreme Being LeelooMinai's Avatar
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    I recently read a magazine article that suggested that the reason many people like the first film, and only the first film, is that they ignored the thought provoking, dramatic story elements, and only paid attention to the action scenes. I think the article's writer hit the nail right on the head. I will continue to be a fan of ALL the films, and no one's going to change my mind on that one. :-P
    You see, I have a major problem with this line of thinking. I did not like the Matrix sequels, and it wasn't because the philosophy or thoughtful parts went over my head. I hate that this is the single reason most people give when they are "telling" people why they didn't like the last 2 films. It simply amounts to a, "You didn't understand it and I did" mentality that makes me seethe.

    I loved the first Matrix. I waited for the sequels with baited breath. I didn't hate them; I was disappointed. The action scenes were redundant, and some of them were not inspired whatsoever. The philosophy expanded and enriched the stories, but it does get a little redundant itself.

    The first Matrix, IMO, was well-paced, fresh, well-written, and paid homage to Lewis Carroll in a thought-provoking way. It introduced us to old ideas and concepts in a new way, not to mention some new neat-looking SFX. That being said, the sequels fail (to me) because they don't provide what the first did--the writing was sometimes convoluted, and the Reloaded film basically paid lip service to one of the Wachowski's individual sexual tastes (in a pretentious manner--he used it for a banner of self-indulgence. Which I don't fault many filmmakers for because they all do it to soem degree, but his use rubbed me the wrong way). The only thing it kept was its seriousness...and the third dropped that. The third film ended up feeling like pop cinema rather than a dystopian, gritty battle that we'd been following through for 3 movies. Don't get me wrong, I love pop movies, probably more than anyone I know, but the first Matrix didn't send that vibe so I didn't expect it for the others. For me, the first Matrix was new and exciting, and the sequels didn't live up because they ran the well dry with the first one. They didn't get the chance to be great because they were overshadowed by the first film. They couldn't live up to it--and we all wanted them too--very badly.

    That being said, I always give second chances. I just bought the trilogy on HD DVD and plan on watching them all in sequence once I have a free moment this summer, and then who knows, maybe I will change my mind.
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