Precipices

I’ve got this chair.  It’s a recliner (that I “mistakenly” keep referring to as a “rocking chair…”  What?  It rocks.  It is therefor a “rocking chair.”  Don’t get all “Nope Nope!” on me about this) and it has a rather nice view of the quaint residential street out my window.  It’s possibly my favorite place to start my day off.  Great view, comfy chair… and, for whatever reason, it feels like the most “secure” form of “personal space” I have.  To say I love this chair  and where it is in my living room is an understatement.  In full disclosure (and because my Mother happens to know that this chair was pinched from the corner on move-out day this past August), it will not be making the move with me to Los Angeles when the time comes.  But for right now, it’s my favorite place in the world.

I’m sitting in it, blaring REO Speedwagon’s “Roll with the Changes” through my headphones, playing Archer on the TV, and glancing out at the fog – illuminated by the soft and rosy/golden glow of the street lamps – that completely conceals the ground just one story below me… and I’m finally able to sit back and say what I’ve worked for three years to say: I.  AM.  OFFICIALLY.  A.  FUCKING.  SCREENWRITER!

Cue: VICTORY DANCE!

For a little over a year, I’ve been working with a good friend of mine on developing and writing a pilot/series and I was finally given the OKAY to post about it.  So I jumped on that shit like a zombie dog in uh…. zombie heat?  (I’ll let you enjoy that image in your head… too scared to type it into Google…)

The weird thing about all of this is that it’s been about 3 years in the making and I’m now, finally, at the starting line.  When I started teaching myself how to write screenplay format (and subsequently devoting a great deal of self-restraint to NOT putting my own eyes out due to frustration), I used to imagine this moment as the whole “Nick Saban, you just won ANOTHER National Title with Alabama, how do you feel?” type moment.  That’s not exactly right, though.  It’s a bit more like training for a marathon.

I’ve wanted an excuse to use this meme for SO FREAKING LONG.

The beauty of it all is that this is not a destination.  It’s not a “well, now what do I do next?  Do I try and repeat everything?”  I can honestly say that getting to this moment has been what the past three years of my life have been about… which is fitting as I have this thing about sets of 3.  If this is what the last three years have been building to, I’m beyond stoked for the next few sets of 3.

But after all the excitement, it’s fitting that things are starting to pick up/go public around a day devoted to giving thanks.  There’re plenty of people in my life who inspire me and plenty of people who believe in me (even when I falter in believing in myself).  Family, friends, and even heroes (small “breaking the fourth wall” moment… Holden read my last post and tweeted me about it… no joke… SO AWESOME, YOU GUYS/GALS!)… y’all have kept me going and I’m so thankful for that.

And I’m thankful for my chair.  There’s no place I’d rather be right now than sitting in this chair – my safe place – and actually getting to take a quick breather to look back at the unbelievable amount of support and love I’ve been shown… with my Hawkeye blanket my mom made for me (that’s quickly become my “almost adult safety blanket”… don’t you judge me!).  I’m ever so grateful and I just hope…..

… I hope that you’ll laugh.  I hope you’ll cry.  I hope that you’ll be entertained.  And, in the end, I hope I can give back and give to others what you’ve all given me.  Thank you so very, very much.

From me in my chair to you in yours, thank you!

– JP

See you, Space Cowboys!

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The Living Bebop

One of the things I find incredibly enjoyable as a writer is to leave my mark on certain existing things.  I even find it fulfilling to simply imagine my own stories with characters I already love that manage to fit into the existing framework someone else’s work.  Some call it the “highest form of praise” and others call it “Copying” but I tend to think of it as being able to give something back – at least within the confines and safety of my own skull (where I wouldn’t be sued for copyright infringement) – to the characters and/or universes of somethings that I love.  If you paid me (or promised to not sue me), I would sit down and regale you with copious amounts of stories about The Doctor’s adventures, life as a Federation Marine during the Sphere Builder War, what happens to Alpha, Echo, Topher, Dewitt, et al between taking down Rossum and the Epitaphs, and I could even tell you a good story involving the ORIGINAL (1988 TV Series) Mission Impossible crew.

For the young kids in the audience, it may surprise you but this team worked better WITHOUT Ethan Hunt (because when his character was introduced in the movies, this team pretty much all died).  Also, Peter Graves was THE MAN (next to Steve McQueen).

There are very few things that I find influential in my life and to my writing that I DON’T wish I could get my hands on just for a brief period of time.

In the summer of 2001, I was surfing through the channels late one night while at my Dad’s house.  I’m not even going to pretend that at age 11 or 12, I didn’t have a soft spot for anime.  I will admit that around that time, I had just outgrown Dragon Ball Z  and Gundam and, being in America, I really had limited access to the wide myriad of offerings.  I managed to stumble upon a show where an androgynous child and a dog were on a scooter chasing a dude who sold magic mushrooms.  It had some wicked Jazz and took place in space and even though I was starting to shift away from “cartoons” to live action fiction, I wasn’t completely beyond giving one last anime a try.  I tuned in the next night and realized that this was going to be something I had to watch from the beginning.  Luckily enough, the series restarted a little while later and I made sure to catch every episode as the music, the mood, and the characters caught hold of my early adolescent soul and would not let go.

I need to find a way to get this as a poster.

For those who are unfamiliar (and I don’t blame or judge you), the series is entitled Cowboy Bebop.  To this day, it is one of my top 5 favorite shows… ever.  Period.  Back then, it was a a release valve.  It was an escape hatch.  It was a warm blanket on a cool, rainy day.  As a 12 year old boy – and at that specific time and in that specific location – Bebop provided one of the strongest connections to real life that I could have ever hoped for.  The simple reason was that the show – though futuristic and all Sci-fi-ey – was deeply rooted in the humanity of its characters.  How is an idealistic 12 year old really supposed to accept that the world is not predominantly “good” or “evil” and that often, things happen without rhyme or reason?  Bad things happen to good people, good things happen to bad people, bad things to bad people, good things to good people.  There’s not one thing anybody can do about how life runs its course and at the end of everything, the world is neither good nor evil… it just simply, tragically, and miraculously exists.

The story of Bebop exists in a twilight of consciousness.  Spike, the central character, is stuck between feeling as though he is dreaming or truly awake.  He’s the man who can’t die yet doesn’t know if he’s truly alive.  All of this is a metaphor, beautifully woven together with the other characters and their colored experiences and somehow, my adolescent mind was able to accept and understand it.  Now, obviously there was humor and action and fun within the series.  It even got downright campy at times (and chillingly creepy at others) and yet no one single quality overrode any other mood in the show.  It was a neutral universe with only the characters and their experiences – both good and bad – affecting their pasts, presents, and futures.  THAT registered with me.  It struck every fucking chord it could and when the final scene faded to white, tears filled my eyes and I smiled because this “cartoon” had made me make sense of Life, accept it, and make my own place in the world.  I make a point of watching the series at least once every year and am still incredibly emotionally moved when it reaches its conclusion and the fade out allows us to retrospectively think about the entire story all at once.  In a great many ways, Bebop is the reason I’m here today, writing and just (finally) LIVING.

The series’ influence over me is pervasive in everything I work on.  From simple things such as timing and sly allusions to the show, all the way to how I think about different shots, put scenes together in my head, and even putting music to different scenes, my mind always seems to spill and get Bebop everywhere when I’m trying to work — and at the very LEAST, it allows me to open up how I think about something and expand on what I really want.

It’s also one of the few projects I’m not sure I could ever bring myself to work on, if given the opportunity.

Don’t get me wrong, it would be a crowning achievement in my life if I were given the opportunity to work on a live action Bebop (and PLEASE, fans of the series, do not worry… I understand the importance of both ENDING the show with “Real Folk Blues” AND leaving said ending open to interpretation).  It is also a series that’s initial impact was so strong because the story existed within the thin sliver between fantasy and reality that Spike experienced as his life.  The power of the show lies in the twilight between dream and reality and I’m not entirely sure I would – in the role of writer/producer – be okay waking from said twilight to realize the reality of the dream and the fantasy of “reality” (which anybody working on the production end of the project would have to).  I could do it… but I’m just not sure I want to…

BUT THEN AGAIN… It can be said that the best dreams we ever have are the ones we get to live – even for a brief moment… and even if it’s coming in on a show with an androgynous kid and collie both riding a moped and chasing down a magic mushrooms dealer.  As a writer, artist, creator, etc. isn’t it our job to create the dream for others to live and sometimes even share our dreams?

I go back and forth and the only conclusion I can come to is actually something Spike says: “What happens, happens.”

I’ll go on record and say that it would be an honor to ever be able to be a part of Bebop… but only if it was Bebop the way I know it… and if Bebop is not meant to be woken from, I’m completely okay with that.

See you, Space Cowboy.

PS… Proof that the music for the show is amazing, here’s the opening titles.  The song is entitled “Tank” and it is one of the most amazing jazz charts I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing.

Rise

The best, most fascinating, and most exhilarating thing about Christopher and Jonathan Nolan’s writing and film making is that they tell such human stories through intricately crafted metaphors that are paradoxically subtle and blatant.  Inception is all about the creative process, film-making, and the film industry.  Intricate, subtle, and innately human.

The Dark Knight trilogy is not about creation.  It is about destruction.  It is about how we pick ourselves up and remake ourselves after a force has acted upon us and caused us to break down.

“Why do we fall?  So we can learn to pick ourselves back up again.”

Batman Begins focuses on conquering fear.  A heroic twist of the emotion of Fear into strength and drive.  In places deep down and ever so dark and lonely, we all have a fear.  I hate snakes… I’m a complete ophidiophobe.  That is not what I fear.  My biggest fear is that one day, I will wake up and be completely and utterly alone in the world, devoid of purpose, friends, family, love, and my own identity.  And so I run.  I use that fear to drive me faster and faster and harder and harder to be the best son, brother, friend, mentor I can be.  I write every day because I cannot say for certainty I’ll be able to the next.  I pack every line with meaning so that someone has something to hang onto and keep the ideas – my ideas, my very identity – alive.  Every day.  Every keystroke, word, paragraph, page… it’s all for that.  I try and make every single interaction as if it would be a lasting impression – a 9th symphony.  And still… that’s not enough…

Too often we can become driven to madness.  We can reach a point where we are so burnt out, so hurt, and so tired of hiding that we become embittered.  My attempts at conquering my fear often lead to falling.  The scrapes pile up, the broken limbs (metaphorically) all make the world shake its collective head and wonder why I bother.  And the scary part is that there are times when I’ve had it with hurting, with failing, and with being judged… and I sit here and think to myself “Wow… what would it be like if I could take this world apart with my bare hands?  I just want to see them squirm.”

“You either die a Hero or you live long enough to see yourself become a Villain.”

There’s a delicate balance between Hero and Villain.  In the real world, we live within that balance.  Very few people are pure evil (though they do exist and the list is extensive spanning through history).  The thing is, it’s not just about being good.  Harvey Dent was a good man.  He was a good man who lost something and who broke.  And so he became a bad man.  Chaos met Chance and the coin did not flip in favor of the Hero.  The true Hero took the fall when no one else could.  The cowl of Batman became reviled, hated, and resented, and Bruce Wayne’s most powerful tool – his fear turned power, embodied in a black suit with ears and a cape – was left to burn in the ashes.  And as Bruce Wayne had so long defined himself as Batman, he sacrificed a part of himself for the common good – for the city and people he loved.

8 years.  8 years between the end of The Dark Knight and the beginning of Dark Knight Rises.  I won’t pretend to have seen it already or anything and I can honestly say that I’m as eager as anyone else to watch it and understand it.  The masked visage of Bane, even for the casual viewer, serves as the pure embodiment of pain and suffering.  Fear, Chaos, and now Pain all combine at multiple times in our lives but often it is the Pain that breaks our backs.  It is what truly hurts that can paralyze us… but it is also that Pain that allows us to know we are truly alive.  The cliché image of pinching one’s self to truly know if one is dreaming or awake comes to mind.  Maybe we can’t always save ourselves from Pain… and maybe, just maybe, it is not about avoiding it but rather what we do after we are completely broken.  When we are lying on the bathroom floor, clutching our stomach, and letting loose a giant sob-fest is only the beginning.  And what is so easy to forget is that it is what happens after we are broken, not what breaks us, that defines us.  It was never about Bruce Wayne giving up the cowl of Batman, and thus a part of himself, for “the greater good.”  The story doesn’t end there.  It is about the man who picks up that cowl, dons that armor once again, and finishes the fight.  It is about the man coming back to life.  It is about the Bat rising again.

“You see only one end to your journey… but sometimes a man rises from the Darkness.”

It is now that I shake my fist at the sky with a large smile on my face in admiration of the Nolan brothers for what they’ve created and the possibilities for how it could finish.

And so the time will come when we either pick ourselves up off that floor… or someone else picks us up.  There’s always more to be written and more to be done.  There’s more falls to take and more peaks to reach.  Life is never truly defined by the fall… it is defined by how we Rise.

Far Beyond All Those Distant Stars

I have this nightly routine.  I come home from work, go to the bathroom upon getting home (I drink a TON of fluids at work), and then go shower before going up and working on a script or blog or essay or something all while talking to Eric and having some family time with him.  Normally, the dick jokes and bro-speak runs amok and we have ourselves a grand ol’ time escaping from our days and unwinding over facebook chat… but occasionally, we actually get to some heavy stuff.

I’m a Family Guy fan… are you surprised I found this?

So last started out as any night… we spent some time talking about our days and lives and then starting actually writing together.  It was over a joke line in a script I’m working on that was spoken by a character who is modeled a bit after Eric.  So basically, women jokes, period jokes, and a pretty epic Black Friday joke that got reworked and reworked until it fit perfectly.  It’s been a goal of mine to actually write a movie with him for this precise reason: it’s fun for both of us.  Anyway, we got through that and kept talking about different parts of the script and doing our usual thing… and then it changed and got all introspective.

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about why I enjoy writing and adapting a new story to a preexisting franchise and with preexisting characters.  Sometimes, the hardest stuff for me to look at and deal with in my own life is somehow made easier – at least for me – when viewed as metaphor.  Well, I’ve got this story right now – this script – that is really little more than fan-fiction in screenplay form… and I’m okay with that.  Different parts of this story have really helped me grapple with a great many things I’d rather just curl up under my bed with blankets and comic books than actually deal with.  It’s been fun.  It’s been difficult.  I’ve laughed and I’ve cried a bit and it’s this giant … well… thing… that I happen to love (almost as much as puppies dressed like the Doctor)…

I can’t remember if I’ve busted this out before or not but it is quite amazing/adorable.

But see this is the big thing about writing and tv and movies… at least the good stuff… They’re things we enjoy.  They give us an escape from our lives that often, we need.  The best of them are able to offer us that escape but also extend a hand and give us the chance to have a companion with us on a journey that speaks to our own lives, if we let it.  Batman Begins is all about conquering fear and learning to put yourself back together/finding the inner strength to make yourself more than what you are in any given moment.  Inception is about making a movie – or the creative process in general.  Alien is about giving birth – okay okay no it’s not… but I had to make the joke anyway.  Those are just movies… flip on the TV and you can find anything anywhere that speaks to your soul if you want to let it – even at 4am when the ghost of Billy Mays is still screaming at you about OxiClean and quite literally shaking your soul with his “enthusiastic shouting…”

The interwebz are an absolute fucking GOLDMINE today.

In the end, all of our entertainment is created from something.  Ideas are spun out from experience and reaction into complete worlds and stories full of vivid characters, archetypes and archetype shattering, action, love, humor, and the occasional doobie-induced car chase (here’s looking at you, Pineapple Express).  Entertainment is the greatest chance you’ll have to both escape from things and to address the same things head on without fear or anxiety.  They also give us that chance to look at something we’re proud of or happy about and say “holy shitballs that was fucking awesome.”  Or just getting to see something that makes you say “holy shitballs that was fucking awesome.”

This is one of the best parts of Avengers… if you haven’t seen it yet, you’ve had over 2 months. Sorry kids. Can’t not use this gif any longer.

There’s little I can do about things like Twilight.  I can’t really say there’s any deeper meaning to them… clearly, he’s over 100 and she’s 16… I don’t believe Madame Meyer was thinking math when she made the central love story slightly… statutory.  But next time you want to sit in the back of a dark theater for a few hours… or you hop onto the sofa with a bowl of chips and salsa and get ready to watch the Breaking Bad premiere, don’t just zone out and escape.  At its best, entertainment is a lens for us to view our humanity.

I’d explain the title of this but … this video does it so well…

Far, far beyond all those distant stars…

See ya, Space Cowboy.

 

Coming Out: We’re All Part Superhero

Let’s start out with some music, shall we?  Push play and then keep reading.

Hello!  Hi.  Yeah, over here.  No no… way too far to your right.  Bring it back.  There we go.  I’m the innocuous tall dude carrying the periodical sized plain brown paper bag filled with what some of the more austere and traditional among you undoubtedly assumed was porn.  Yeah… it’s not.  It’s comic books.

I went a little Whedon crazy.

Go figure.  Anyway, yes, that’s me… I’m the one saying hello to you.

A few weeks back, there was an utterly awesome article about the social value, worth, and importance of the “Superhero Movie” that was written by actor Tom Hiddleston (Loki).  http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/filmblog/2012/apr/19/avengers-assemble-tom-hiddleston-superhero (link’d).  In it, he discusses not only the fact that these films (and by extension, their gloss-printed universes) develop, maintain, and explore a unique modern mythology but he also goes on to state that said mythology, with its world of the Fantastic and the seemingly impossible, is used as a lens to explore our individuality in a way that one dare not do.  It is a fantastic article and if you have not already read it or clicked it, I’m not quite sure what is wrong with you :P.

As a college student and particularly an English major, one encounters an automatic resistance when it is uncovered that one enjoys “the pulps” or “genre fiction.”  Oddly enough, the term Pulp used to be used in an almost derogatory manner to refer to the “low brow” literature such as science fiction and fantasy because it referred to the low quality of the paper said works were printed on.  To be a comic book fanboy in a world obsessed with Jane Austen is difficult, to say the least, and garners you very little respect from the people educating you as they (like all humans) make snap judgments based on small fragments.  Hell, I even had an experience in my American Lit of the 1900s class where a girl was so impressed I drew from Divine Comedy in an effort to draw in other influential sources that her comment of agreement was started with, “I never would have guessed that YOU would even be familiar with Dante…” (I read The Divine Comedy when I was in 7th grade and finished it when I was in 8th grade).  My peers all seemed blown away that the dude who sits there and reads either a car magazine or a comic book happens to hold Shakespeare among his top writers.

(I feel like the memes/pictures/gifs is going to turn into me DJing your reading experience… and that’s OK)

See, I’ve come out as a great many things in my life: a gear-head, a science fiction fan, an actor, a gay man, and now I’m coming out and saying that I still day dream about saving the world.  It’s who I am and it’s something that is considered something we all leave behind when we’re done growing up.  Not me.  And it goes FAR deeper than just “Iron Man is cool and I want to BE him.”

Like Tom Hiddleston was saying, we can use superhero movies as a way of directly looking into a reflection of ourselves that we may not ever feel comfortable staring directly at.  They’re like wearing those special sunglasses during an eclipse… except these are made by Oakley and look completely bitchin’.  THIS is why I like superheros.  This is why I want to be one.  Because when the dust settles at the end of the second act and their lives are ripped asunder, we realize that they really are just like us.

So recently there was this big fucking meltdown of a fight in my life.  It SUCKED.  I caused a lot of it and it’s still not quite better.  For the past little while, I’ve been staring my humanity in its face… and I don’t think I’m the only one involved with this meltdown that’s been doing that.  I’m a big movie buff though and I always have faith in the Good-guys (no matter HOW much I bitch and say that it is anticlimactic that they always win… and even though I have a penchant for killing off one unexpectedly, we NEED the good guys to win).  That faith in the Good-Guys has kept me going a bit, even though I can liken this meltdown to the end of Act II in Avengers.  SPOILERS!   The Hulk had just smashed the living shit out of EVERYTHING before running off, Loki had escaped, Thor was tumbling towards the ground at 128 mph and having a bitch of a time escaping from the case he was in, an Avenger, probably the most genuine and least flawed one, had given his life in an attempt to stop Loki… and he had given the rest of them something to fight for… something to Avenge.

In the moments after all of those events, we saw these heroes as truly “lost creatures” or rather, as humans.  We saw how THEY dealt with loss, with fear, with anxiety, and with even being unable to accept who they were… and we knew what was coming next.  The Good Guys always win.  Even when Steve Rogers had nobody left to lead, even when all of Tony Stark’s genius or money or general awesomness became meaningless… we knew that the next 45 minutes were going to be unbelievably amazing.  The reason we got that feeling of goosebumps tickling our spine?  Because we saw a piece of ourselves in these characters.  We saw some glimmer of the trials we face and knew that, in this world and this mythology, that made us one step closer to being Iron Man or Thor or Captain America or Black Widow, Hawkeye, Hulk, Nick Fury, or even Agent Coulston.  And we knew what we would do if we were them.

Sadly enough, in real life it is actually not that often that the Good-Guys win.  Look at Enron or any war or hell, even election season and try and tell me that there’s a true “Good-Guy/Gal” who even makes it… it’s hard to do (though not impossible).  We live in a time of sociocultural, scientific, and economic upheaval.  We live in a time where all of us feel we have to “come out” about something that makes us black sheep whether it be sexuality, nerdiness, a past we haven’t dealt with, our fears of our future, who we are, or really that on the inside, we aren’t the person we project to the world.  The list goes on and on and on but the fact is that we feel we need to admit this one big part of us and that it soon becomes a defining part.  The Hulk is Bruce Banner but how many people who aren’t comic book fans could remember him as anything more than The Hulk?  Who we are on the inside and what we feel culturally compelled to come out about is only one tiny filament in the rope-fiber of our being.  Sometimes, we get so encompassed by social pressures that we finally explode and smash everything around us.  Sometimes, we even blindly punch our friend.

We all get those “Act II Finale – everything’s gone to hell” moments.  What I have to step back and remember is that there’s still a third act… and in this metaphoric reflection of life through the lens of a superhero movie, I’m still one of the Avengers (though probably nobody in the film… leaning toward Deadpool for his short stint with them) and by god I’m gonna save this fucking world… even if I have to give up everything.  THAT is how I know things in my personal life AND things under the larger scope of human culture WILL BE GOOD AGAIN.  It may be awkward, unsettling, upsetting, or difficult now but they won’t be that way forever because I won’t let them.  And if you believe for one second that I don’t have that “power” to make things right, well… I have several comic books to lend you that you could use a few hours escaping into.

To quote Nathan Fillion: “Never in my wildest.  Like some sort of super-team benefactor, Joss made superheroes out of all of us complete with a super-hideout spaceship.  During filming, we’d all retreat into our dressing room trailers and emerge like supermen with our alter egos.  The boots, the suspenders, the gun holstered low on my hip… with a flick and a spin of that wicked awesome coat, over my shoulders, I became someone else… To become a superhero, all you have to do is want it badly enough…”

Now you go and find me something out there that allows you to take THAT INTROSPECTIVE a look at your own life and instills you with hope, faith, and strength as you prod away at personal raw nerves and fears and does so with such ease and grace while all the while still being entertaining.  ANYBODY who ever tries to tell me that there’s no substance to the literature, pulp, and genre fiction, comics, movies, and TV that I love so much needs to sit down with this man and an open mind:

The man who understands the Human in the Hero and the Hero in the Human. Joss Whedon.

So you ask me how I think everything is going to be Okay… Well… I’ve got something to tell you that you should sit down for… oh shit… backing music…

There we go… just push play and turn up the volume a bit for this last part.  So there’s something I gotta tell you… “I know that it’s confusing.  It is one thing to question the official story and another thing entirely to make wild accusations or insinuate that I’m a superhero… I’m just not the hero type, clearly, with this laundry list of character defects and mistakes I’ve made (largely public).  Truth is… I am Iron Man.”  I am Justin Plasket.  I am a Superhero.  So fuck this shit dudes, and dudettes.  Let’s fly and furthermore, let’s save this world, our world, together.

Where the Matrix Could Still Go

And here is where you get to discover the depth to which I want to write for movies/TV.  If you want out, blue pill yourself and hit the back button.  If you want a dive down the rabbit hole, red pill up and hang on for the ride.

To those wondering, yes, that was a reference to the Matrix and yes… this post is about the story of the Matrix and where it could go.

Let’s get one thing clear: AS OF RIGHT NOW THERE ARE ABSOLUTELY NO OFFICIAL PLANS FOR A 4TH OR 5TH MOVIE IN THE MATRIX FRANCHISE.  THERE ARE ONLY RUMORS.

So let’s get this thing rolling.

The biggest complaint regarding the Matrix trilogy was largely aimed at the franchise’s final movie: The Matrix: Revolutions.  It capped off a series that had started with a heavily sci fi/cyberpunk story about an individual discovering himself and his true identity and was followed up with an action packed prelude to war (with lots and lots of leather and spandex) and while attempting to resolve both of those first two movies AND offer something new to the franchise.  It is entirely possible that that is just way too much to cram into two hours cohesively all while offering up the promised all out WAR.  BUT… this is not to point out everything that SHOULD have been Revolutions but rather suggest what could be done with the Revolutions we got.

As a franchise, the movie sought to address philosophical questions of reality, the limits and boundaries of the human mind, and of course the nerdboy/girl boner bait of latex and wire work kungfu.  It accomplished all of those goals and for the most part, it did so admirably.  The problems arose when Revolutions bit off more than it could chew and attempted to make a large sweeping religious statement and a statement about humanity’s fight for survival, however steep the odds.  There were a ton of questions left open at the end of that movie and a few very awesome opportunities left to grab hold of and RUN with.

So this is where my post-midnight spewing forth of ideas at one of my friends via facebook chat comes into play.  Stick with me… it’s going to come fast and unrelenting from here on out (giggity).  The story in the first movie was about Neo – “The One.”  It was later explained in Reloaded that he was a statistical anomaly who was able to control different aspects of the computer program his consciousness was hooked into.  It is sort of like lucid dreaming… or Inception (if you want to connect it to another movie).

So he can manipulate the computer program.  Then there’s the startling, “WHAT THE FUCK MOMENT” when he destroys the sentinels in the real world by simply thinking it (and bland-faced overacting a la Keanu Reeves standard).  This is a relatively awesome cliffhanger as it allows us to ask what reality truly is and where the Matrix is actually located.  Since Neo was able to destroy machines with his mind (and “feel” them/read their “minds”), it isn’t too much of a leap to infer that the machines are also connected to the Matrix.  It is possible, especially with the proliferation of WiFi and 3g/4g tech that this far in the future, each machine actually houses part of the Matrix and the Matrix is a giant computer program spread across and connected with every single existing “machine.”  So think of the Matrix like the internet.  In that scenario, Neo has become the ultimate User.  He is able to manipulate the Matrix without physically interacting with it and therefore sees the effects of said manipulation embodied in the real world.

TANGENT ALERT!  It is also interesting to look at this from the angle of our current fears about creating AI and having said AI take over our world and our reality.  There are copious amounts of devices created in fiction to keep AI consciousness separate from Human consciousness, even when the two are occupying the same space (a brain or a computer bank).  If each machine housed a part of the Matrix in it’s “mind” and human consciousness was wired into it (or wirelessly connected) then it is the exact mirror of that problem and that is FASCINATING.  It’s tidbits like this that make up excellent term papers once you dive deeper, so take a note Professor-Man!  I just made another BIG ISSUE out of a “menial” or “trite” small thing.  Suck it.  (Reference to my previous post).

If you like this type of sci fi (Cyberpunk)… so Tron, The Matrix, Ghost in the Shell, etc… read this book.

So where were we?  Ahh… Neo and the real world.  All of this brings us to Revolutions.  We discover that “the power of the one extends into the real world,” thus explaining how Neo was able to control and destroy the Sentinels.  But upon unpacking that, one has to ask what they really mean.  If Neo is merely manipulating the Matrix that exists within the machines, then his “power” is still rooted in the Matrix.  If Neo is actually able to manipulate REALITY, then the entire franchise to this point is pointless from a story perspective as the true story and conflict for the central character exists in the real world and therefore the first movie was a prequel and the second movie was the first movie.  BUT WHAT IF… what if we asked ourselves what the “Real World” is in the movie?  We know that the Matrix is not real even though all of the characters’ senses are duped and even their subconsciousness does not register anything other than “real.”  We also know that the “Real World” looks startlingly different from the Matrix and that all is not well.  But, much like those in Plato’s Cave, we still do not know that this “Real World” is real.  (Here is where the Wachowski brothers sit down and say “Valiant attempt, JP, but it is real and the series is done.”)  Neo is a HUMAN.  He is not immortal nor is he any different than any other human in the real world.  That is a point the first movie makes clear by KILLING him (before resurrecting him) and the second film reminds us when he stops the sword blade with the edge of his hand and bleeds onto the floor.  If this were a franchise set in a dystopian but possible future, then no human would be able to manipulate the physical nature of reality like they are suggesting Neo does.

This extends into the final movie when Neo is blinded.  Suddenly, he is able to see… because he now sees reality in the code of the Matrix.  REALITY TRANSLATED INTO THE CODE OF THE MATRIX.

So we can take this as Neo being a Cyberpunk Christ… or we can look at the broader picture and ideas that used Neo as an individual vehicle to address something MUCH LARGER.  The films present a “Holy Trinity” in the three main players/entities: Humans (Father), Machines (Son), Holy Spirit (Programs).  By virtue of having Smith escape into the “Real World” by taking over the mind of a Human, we have been shown that these three do interact with one another on some level and therefore, the spiritual metaphor is realized and fleshed out (haha punny).  If one really wanted to go further into this story and further into The Matrix, I’ve laid out a relatively bitchin’ jumping off point.

So Neo’s “dead” and we believe that in death, life’s questions are answered – mainly: Is there a God/Heaven/Hell?  Well take an Inception style approach to this.  Have the Matrix be a subprogram that allows Humans and Machines to interact relatively peacefully (machines using the proxy of the programs while housing the human consciousness), have the “Real World” (where Humans and Machines are fighting a War) be either the true Real World or rather, metaphorically, the physical circuitry of the system… and TELL ME WHO THE TRUE USER IS!  WHO IS GOD IN THIS STORY?  WHY DOES THE MATRIX AND THE WAR WITH THE MACHINES EVEN EXIST?  WHY MUST THE MACHINES KEEP A MINIMUM NUMBER OF HUMANS “UNPLUGGED?” ETC. ETC.

There is a character who would happen to know the answers to these questions already in this franchise.  I’ll leave it at that.  Stare into his relatively dead, emotionless, eyes (as shrouded by his unnecessary wearing of sunglasses both indoors and at night), and know that he could wire-work the living shit out of you.

Wasn’t that fun?

 

See ya, Space Cowboy.