You have to hand it to the Wachowskis. The success of their film The Matrix and its convoluted sequels bought them the freedom to do whatever they want, and they have used this freedom. Critics sneered at their post-Matrix movies, and audiences stayed away, but they will not abandon their vision. What this vision is exactly, I can’t tell you, but their work has the scale, ambition, and unpredictability that have largely disappeared from big-budget Hollywood filmmaking. Their failures are more compelling than other people’s successes.
Consider Cloud Atlas, their adaptation (with Tom Tykwer) of David Mitchell’s novel, in which many individuals living in different countries and periods in history are connected in ways not immediately apparent. By having their actors play multiple roles and through some fantastic hair and makeup work, they made those connections clear. They took the spirit of the novel and blew it up on the big screen. The reviews were so dismissive, it seemed that critics were compensating for having overpraised The Matrix. Granted, the recent Jupiter Ascending is a silly retread of the idea of an ordinary person having a great destiny, but is it much sillier than the superhero movies we gorge upon?
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