“Ted” Theodore Logan pops some pills and becomes a Technomage while beating up Priscilla
I thought I’d share something non fiction and non autobiographical this week, a film review/retelling. It’s my first published attempt at satire/parody, so be gentle — I don’t know I’m up to the level of Better Myths just yet, but if you try to read this in Mick Molloy’s voice it might help.
Back in the 1990’s some pretty awesome films came out. One in particular was full of amazing metaphors and symbolism that over twenty years later are still kicking ass and taking names. You might think it’s about power. You might think it’s about gender. You might think it’s about society. I think it’s about all those things and more, like any really good metaphor is, so let’s just take a look at it, enjoy it, and take what we can from it.
So years after Bill & Teds Bogus Journey, Ted has finally given up on Wyld Stallions and quit the band to pursue his solo career. He ends up in a dead end nine to five office job at a software company, having used George Carlin’s time travelling telephone box (where have I heard THAT before?) to learn some l337 programming skillz.
Now, he hasn’t given up on this whole rock n roll superstar thing, and he really wants that solo career. I mean it worked so well for Roger Walters after Pink Floyd… Um… So well for Debbie Harry after Blondie… Err… George Harrison after The Beatles… Well… Look, surely HIS fans will really adore him if he can just get back out there, right?
So, he spends time looking for this agent he’s heard of called Morpheus, who doesn’t seem to have an agency, an office in LA, or even an entry in the yellow pages. He passes out from too many Logan Special Brownies, and then wakes up to this little message from his computer saying “The Matrix Has You. Wake up, Neo. Follow the White Rabbit” or something.
Did I mention he changed his name to Neo? It’s kinda like Cher, Shakira, or Madonna, but a little more modern rock.
Aaaanyway, Neo gets distracted by a non knock on his door from some druggie, and a chick that used to be on Home And Away with a rabbit tattoo. Clearly either his computer was hacked by some weird stalker with access to his hallway camera, or something bigger is afoot (get it? Rabbit foot? Yeah, I went there).
He follows them and gets all “Woah” over a woman named Trinity who’ll end up as Jessica Jones’ lawyer one day (and based on JJ, I’m not sure she’s keen mate, sorry). She tells him again that the Matrix has him, that Morpheus has answers, and he should keep looking. You may be thinking it’d be pretty logical if she took him to Morpheus right now, but don’t worry about that, this is gunna be fun.
Neo goes to work the next day, bored as every office worker in a hen cage cubicle, until he gets a delivery out of the blue of a sweet little phone everyone in the 90’s thought was amazeballs, and Morpheus rings him on it. He follows Morpheus’ weird instructions for a bit, but dicks about on his bosses window ledge and ends up getting arrested for causing a public disturbance. He gets dragged to a very atmospheric interview room, and in walks Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
Now, things haven’t been going great for Priscilla. You may wonder why there was never a sequel? Well, in true Alan Rickman style poor Hugo Weaving became typecast some time after that fateful outback road trip to Alice Springs in 1994, and so he’s reimersed himself in the role of Anthony ‘Tick’ Belrose, aka Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Somehow he ended up here across the desk from Neo, with a bigass folder of shitty reviews of Neo’s demo albums. See, Hugo has completely taken on Priscilla’s identity, and here he sees someone else trying to make a big musical comeback that has been trying to find the same manager he has.
Priscilla threatens the shit out of Neo, who just flips him the bird in true rocker fashion. With some weird mouth melting mojo Hugo has his suited buddies (who are sadly neither Terence Stamp nor Guy Pearce) pin Neo, and lays some weird giant Terminator sperm thingo into Neo’s belly. It’s probably some kind of tracking device to help Priscilla find Morpheus, but regardless it was pretty terrifying.
Neo wakes up in bed suddenly from what felt like his weirdest wet dream ever, and after yet another cryptic phone call from Morpheus goes to meet Trinity again. After some more cryptic wankery she pins him in the car (and not in the fun way) to zap him in the stomach with some weird gun that looks like a penis pump for a horse. Maybe she mistook the whole “Wyld Stallions” thing wrong, but whatever, the pump rips the Terminator jizz/parasite out, and she smashes it in the street.
Finally Neo gets to meet Morpheus, who is a weird mother fucker wearing a long black trench coat and sunglasses INSIDE. Morpheus offers Neo some baller drugs which he takes on of, and introduces him to a whole new meaning of “chroming” when zap, zap, buzz, gargle, Neo wakes up floating in some weird tank of dish soap.
Actually, it’s not dish soap, it’s liquid Soylent Green, but it kinda looks like dish soap.
Next thing he knows Neo is waking up in a dieselpunk cell aboard an awesome hover ship captained by Morpheus not unlike when Mr Burns has Tom Jones kidnapped. “WTF,” he thinks, “I don’t do private gigs, this better be good”. Morpheus introduces him to the rest of the crew, then shows him he was actually in a simulated reality called The Matrix the entire time, one of the greatest cinematic metaphors the late 20th century will continually overlook in its meaningless drudgery.
Now this is surprising, but Neo’s mind is blown over all this, and it takes him a little while to recover while Morpheus walks him through what happened. Shades tells him Machine Intelligences arose, and as predicted by every scifi enthusiast since the dawn of time for whatever reason ended up at war with people (spoiler: it was peoples’ fault). Obviously, being made of flesh and squishy stuff, people lost — but they did some weird Highlander 2 thing to the sky so the Machines can’t run on solar any more. You might think, being machines of god like intelligence, they’d use nuclear power, geothermal energy, tidal generators, or one of a bajillion (that’s materic bajillion, not imperial) other ideas we all learned in Total Annihilation, but see these machines really love rock n roll and they don’t want to leave it behind — so I guess they enslave humanity and use them as batteries?
Look, again, this might not be the most logical thing in the universe, but it’s that brilliant metaphor for the world we live in, as noted by a fantastic speech Morpheus gives to some atmospheric music until Neo gets distracted in the simulation by Jessica Rabbit 2.0. Regardless, it’s Morpheus and his crews’ job to fight to free all the human beings, or at least rock out trying — which Neo is pretty cool with. One of the crew members shows Neo he can learn just about anything via the electronic interface in the back of his skull, so after downloading the Kama Sutra, How to Make Friends and Influence People and for some reason all the Baby Sitter Club books, Neo downloads every martial art known to mankind into his brain. He and Morpheus have a bit of a spar for funzies. Morpheus shows Neo he can “bend” the rules of the Matrix or some shit, breathing but not breathing, leaping really fuckin’ high, and doing some sup-REMELY awesome martial arts air moves. He also mentions that if something happens in the Matrix, it happens in real life (ie death), so I’m not so sure about the whole “not breathing” bit they do, but look, it’s a safe space or something ok?
Eventually Morpheus takes Neo back into the real Matrix to meet an awesome chick who makes sweet ass cookies because she’s going to tell Neo he’s “The One”, some prophesied saviour who eats ASCII and shits bugless code or something. Unfortunately she tells him he’s not “The One”, although he does see some cool magic tricks and gets a bit spooked by the whole thing. On the way back though, shit goes awry.
See, Priscilla knows all this “Matrix” biz because when the Machine Intelligences designed the system they looked for some great villains to help run the joint. Hugo Weaving was enlisted, setting a trend for the poor chap of playing more bad guys than he’s had hot dinners. They scan his brain into the system without realising he’s gone a bit batty in his old age, and after few thousand years of running around in the Matrix (one of the sequels will explain that bit) his program goes completely haywire. Priscilla is OBSESSED with getting out of the Matrix, and thinks he can pull off a fantastic gig at Zion (the last human city) after driving there in some kind of floating bus trailing a big silver sash if he can just get an invite from Morpheus. Turns out Neo wasn’t really quiet about the whole “I’m searching for this hard to find dude” bit and tipped Priscilla off, but whatevs, they fight, Neo escapes, but Morpheus is caught.
Not ONLY that, but it turns out that one of the crew members — the one everyone always mistakes for Joe Pesci, for some reason — was a turncoat the whole time, and he kills some chick who looks vaguely like Annie Lennox and a couple of guys who only had a few lines, but then gets blasted by the only remaining guy awake on the ship. Shit’s pretty real at this point, because they can’t just unplug Morpheus from the machine to get him out of the Matrix, they need to get him to a physical/non physical phone within the Matrix. I guess it’s like the end of Tron?
Regardless, Trinity & Neo need to go back in and get Morpheus. Don those fuckin’ shades. They gear up in a super packed transition level, which as every gamer knows is a bit of a giveaway for how hardcore shits about to get, and pop back in the Matrix head straight in through the front door of the building where Morpheus is being held. The bullet time here is sweet as, inspiring decades of slow bullet action and several Max Payne games that were quite fun and inspired my deep love of Pink Flamingos, but I’m getting distracted and nearly forgetting to mention the little gecko that runs out of one of the pillars they shoot. What did he do to them? Bad enough they’re killing all these innocent people in the Matrix, when they could have just stunned them with grenades or like landed a helicopter on the roof, but yikes— that poor lizard.
Anyway, after said awesome action scene they head to the roof where Trinity busts out with one of the best uses of “Dodge this” ever and shoots a super fast bad guy point blank in the head, then steal a helicopter with a bigass chaingun on it (sweet, more bullet time). They fly down outside the window where Priscilla has Morpheus held, and blow the living shit out of everything. Again, might seem a bit illogical to shoot a chaingun into the same room as the hostage you want to save, but look, this is fucken empowering shit and looks WAY cool, so go with it. Morpheus goes a little Hulk and breaks out of his bonds (oh my god, the metaphors ❤), leaps out the destroyed window, and Neo catches him in a spectacular hug tackle mid air.
Yay, everyones saved, the end! Hah, you thought so, but wait! Out in the real world, some nasty hunting robots that put everything James Cameron thought of for Skynet to shame rock up, and start tearing Morpheus’ ship to bits. That’s right, if we’re gunna capture a guy and get an invite to Zion from him, we’ll blow his ship up, make it crash, and then hope he lives! I guess there’s a nice commentary on how useful the systems the whole movie discusses are to the aims of those systems, but aaaaanyway…
Priscilla grabs a fresh person suit and shoots a hole in the Helicopter as it’s flying away, causing the occupants to leap out while Neo performs a particularly snazzy hail mary to save Trinity. Morpheus, of course, takes this as proof that Neo IS The One, causing Neo to doubt his doubting and have a little mini confusing look, which is a solid effort from Keanu Reeves’ face. They flee, and Morpheus and Trinity get out but with a particularly well aimed shot Priscilla caps the phone and her and Neo have a mega faceoff.
Now, this is like, rock off of the century. Neo has some mad riffs, but Priscilla’s outfits are just to die for and the advantage goes back and forth. Eventually, Neo gets the upper hand and flings Priscilla in front of a train, but lo and behold Priscilla puts on another new person suit and comes strolling out of the train yet again. Neo can’t hack this shit (hah), so he bolts for it, runs left, right, no his other left, and eventually heads to a safehouse that no one in their right mind should use, given we saw it used by Trinity right at the beginning of the film and Priscilla knows where it is (presumaby Tank, the operator, forgot that?) He’s waiting, having teleported there with two other dudes who are still not Terence Stamp and Not Guy Pearce, and shoots Neo point blank in the chest like fifty times at least. You can almost hear Megatrons voice calling “Fall, Fall!”, but that’s another movie (and spuriously linked, given Hugo Weaving voices a DIFFERENT version of Megatron).
Out in the real world, on the cusp of being torn to shreds by killer tentacle robots, Trinity gives no fucks about herself and uses some awesome speaking powers to ear worm Neo into finally believing he is The One and gives him the kiss of life. In his mind, a weird cyberpunk Hagrid pops up and says “You’re a techno wizard, ‘Reevesy”. The Matrix powers him up like Rodimus, the bullets pop out of his chest, and he rises up more powerful in The Force than Priscilla could possibly imagine. Priscilla, Not Terence Stamp and Not Guy Pearce unload another fifty bajillion bullets at Neo, but the motherfucker has the power of belief now and knows he is indeed The One — The One TRUE ROCK STAR OF THE MATRIX (insert Jack Black Schoolf of Rock riff here). With only a SINGLE lyric he stops the bullets midair, but Priscilla stands his ground in disbelief. No way could rock win out over stage shows and costume changes, never!
Priscilla charges in flailing wildly, and Neo just evades with some sweet as stage moves and sends Priscilla flying backwards. He jumps INTO Priscilla — I’m not quite sure of the symbolism there — and then blows poor Hugo apart from the inside. This seems quite rude frankly, I mean, if you’re like, maximum Matrix powered and have won all the internets, why destroy someone who’s just trying to get out like you are? I dunno, it seems like really some kind of dialog could have been opened that may have lead to a duet. Regardless, Not Terence and Not Guy flee in existential terror, just in time for Neo to finally get his ass out of the Matrix so Morpheus can EMP the killer robots so everyone survives the day.
Now, where would we be without a cool, suave ending? Having finally made it to Zion and held a few mega rockin shows, Neo pops back home to the Matrix for a bit of funzies, and runs a teleconference rock gig for the overlords of the system supported by Rage Against The Machine. Then Nick Fury shows up and tells him he’s got bigger problems in the south west region alone, but that he’s forming a team.