566: Matrix Revisited
Title text: I actually remember being entertained by both the sequels while in the theater. They just don't hold up nearly as well in later comparison.
In the first frame it is stated that the comic was released on the anniversary of the movie The Matrix. This is not true. The Matrix was released 31 March 1999 in the US, although it was next released in Australia on 8 April 1999, ten years before the release of this comic. But maybe Randall drew the comic (and had watched the movie) on the true 10 year anniversary day.
Megan is shocked when she realizes it is already ten years ago that The Matrix came out. This is an effect Randall has used to make you feel old several times (for instance he mentions The Matrix again two years later in 891: Movie Ages.)
In The Matrix, almost all of humanity lives in a computer simulation. Many years ago, robots took over the real world (not the simulation), and placed humans into the simulation while their body heat generated power for the robots. A few people have escaped from the Matrix, and they are on a mission with others to free the human race from the robots. The title of the strip is a reference to the documentary on the filming of The Matrix: The Matrix Revisited.
In the first three rows of the comic we see three famous scenes from The Matrix parodied by Randall. The characters are Morpheus, with sunglasses; Neo, as Cueball in the first two scenes and with a black coat in the third scene; Trinity, as Hairbun; and a security guard in the third scene, as another Cueball-like guy.
In the first scene Morpheus tells Neo that one cannot explain what the Matrix is and that he must see it for himself to understand. Morpheus is very mysterious as he tempts Neo to take a look himself, which, in the movie, leads to the next scene. In this comic, however, Trinity makes Morpheus look foolish by clearly explaining the Matrix in a single, simple phrase, and then telling him that he must suck at explaining. (The actual quote from the movie is
no one can be told what the Matrix is, which makes more sense: even after being rescued from the Matrix, Neo at first refuses to accept that his entire life has been a simulation, becoming highly distraught when confronted with that truth. Morpheus later mentions that for this reason, it is unusual to rescue people past a certain age.)
In the next scene Morpheus tries to ignore Trinity's remark and continues by showing Neo two pills, one red and one blue, and tells Neo that he can either take the blue pill and return to the simulation (the Matrix), never to hear about the Matrix again, or he can take the red pill and leave the Matrix, and "see how deep the rabbit hole goes" (a reference to Alice in Wonderland). In the movie, Neo takes the red pill. In the comic, however, he mixes the two pills then snorts the purple powder he has created as though it was an illegal drug such as cocaine, and apparently winds up in a bizarre upside down and inverted dimension, presumably caused by his 'Drug Trip'. Even Morpheus now has no idea where they are. Note that the inversion of both color and orientation could be intended to evoke the idea of capturing an image on film (i.e. a film negative), which is really the only place where Neo and Morpheus exist. It is possible that the combination of pills allowed Neo to break through another layer of the simulation. Alternatively, this could simply be Randall trying to explain that they are in an alternate dimension whilst still remaining within the constraints of stick figures on white and black backgrounds.
What leads up to the third scene is when Neo and Trinity must save Morpheus, who has been captured by agents of the simulation. They obtain many guns and load them into trenchcoats. In the shown scene Neo is stopped at a security checkpoint in a building in the Matrix. A security guard tells him to remove any metallic items, since the scanner has shown him to have metal on his person, such as keys, and place them in a bin, then walk through the scanner again. In the movie, he opens his trenchcoat, revealing a myriad of weapons and dispatching all of the guards with the assistance of Trinity. In the comic, however, Neo opens his trenchcoat, but the guard's response of "eww" implies that Neo is otherwise naked and the guard is disgusted by his display of his genitals (This could seem ironic since the guard could be said to be even more naked than him. But in the xkcd version of the matrix, stick people are presumably fully dressed unless otherwise indicated. See Megan topless in 864: Flying Cars, naked Cueball in 1977: Paperwork, and Hairy in 761: DFS.) It is possible that Neo, on account of having many metal implants (seen in the movie as being in the bodies of everyone raised by the robots), is trying to remove his implants, thus starting to take his clothes off.
After watching the movie, Cueball turns to his friends (Megan and another Cueball-like guy) and exclaims that he had forgotten how great the movie is. When his friend suggests that they put on the other two sequels, there is a beat panel where Megan and Cueball look at each other, then they beat up the offender off-panel.
The two sequels to The Matrix are widely regarded as inferior to the original, with some fans pretending they don't exist. This is what happens when Megan and Cueball return, and Cueball repeats his statement about how good it was. Then Megan is saddened by the fact they never made any sequels and Cueball agrees. Thus trying hard (even violently) to forget those sequels.
On IMDb the original movie was still in the top 20 on their top 250 chart in July 2015, with an average of 8.7 vs. only 7.2 and 6.7 to the sequels (though even those two scores are relatively high compared to other action titles).
9 years (and one day) later Randall made the comic 1978: Congressional Testimony where the movie The Terminator is mentioned. In the title text a similar line of thought as the one in the bottom strip of this comic is made. The third movie in the Terminator Franchise was so great that Skynet sent back a robot to prevent James Cameron, the director of the first two Terminator movies, from directing it, and instead another (much worse) version of the movie was later directed by another director. This indicates that Randall would rather not have had the third movie made, and also fantasizes about how much better it could have been with the original director making T3.
- [Megan stands below two pieces of text, in a panel that is without a frame.]
- Today was the ten-year anniversary of the release of The Matrix.
- I sat down to watch it again.
- Megan: Holy fuck, ten years ago?
- [The next three panels of the first row and the next two rows spoofs three scenes from The Matrix.]
- [In scene 1 Morpheus with sunglasses and Trinity with hair bun are talking to Cueball-Neo. Morpheus has his hands together.]
- Morpheus: Unfortunately, no one can explain what the matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.
- [Trinity lifts her hand.]
- Trinity: Sure you can. It's a computer simulation in which you live, thinking it's reality.
- Neo: Oh.
- [Morpheus takes his hands down and turns around glaring at Trinity who has also taken her hand down.]
- Trinity: ...What?
- Trinity: Look, maybe you just suck at explaining.
- [In scene 2 Morpheus is talking to Neo while holding a red pill and a blue pill. To the far right is a part of a table.]
- Morpheus: ...Or you take the red pill, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.
- [Neo takes both pills from Morpheus.]
- [Neo crushes both the red and blue pills on a table top.]
- [Neo snorts the resulting purple powder through a pipe he holds up to his face (his nose).]
- [Morpheus and Neo are shown upside down in a frame with inverted colors, i.e., black background with white lines.]
- Morpheus: Now look what you've done.
- Neo: Where are we?
- Morpheus: I have no idea.
- [In scene 3 Neo, wearing a long, black trench coat, at a metal detector, is accosted by the Cueball-like security guard.]
- Guard: Please remove any keys, metallic items, weapons—
- [Neo steps close to the guard and opens his trench coat towards the guard, who is facing the reader. The reader can't see what Neo has under his coat.]
- [Same scene as above, but side view: Neo, on the left, is opening his coat toward the guard, who is on the right and seems to be looking down. Nobody speaks.]
- [Same scene as above but the guard now looks up to Neos face and finally speaks:]
- Guard: Eww.
- [In the last row of the comic we see three characters that have obviously just finished watching The Matrix. Cueball is sitting on the floor nearest to the TV, Megan is sitting on the floor, farther from the TV and a Cueball-like friend is sitting on an armchair, farthest from the TV.]
- Cueball: I forgot how good that movie was.
- Friend: Wanna put on the other two?
- [Cueball, still sitting has turned to face Megan. They exchange looks without speaking.]
- [View of room, which is now empty, as is the chair. Sounds comes from off-screen to the right.]
- Friend (off-screen): Ow! Ow!
- [Cueball and Megan are back in the room, zoomed in so the TV is no longer visible, but the chair is and it remains empty. The friend is nowhere to be seen.]
- Cueball: I forgot how good that movie was.
- Megan: Too bad they never made any sequels.
- Cueball: True.
- The 6th, 7th and 8th panels have been turned into a meme
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