News From Space: Rosetta Starts, Orion in the Wings

 Quick Note: This is my 1700th post!
Yaaaaaay, happy dance!

Rosetta_Artist_Impression_Far_625x469Space exploration is a booming industry these days. Between NASA, the ESA, Roscosmos, the CSA, and the federal space agencies of India and China, there’s just no shortage of exciting missions aimed at improving our understanding of our Solar System or the universe at large. In recent months, two such missions have been making the news; one of which (led by the ESA) is now underway, while the other (belonging to NASA) is fast-approaching.

In the first instance, we have the ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft, which is currently on its way to rendezvous with the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko at the edge of our Solar System. After awaking from a 957 day hibernation back in January, it has just conducted its first instruments observations. Included in these instruments are three NASA science packages, all of which have started sending science data back to Earth.

Rosetta_and_Philae_at_cometSince leaving Earth in March 2004, the Rosetta spacecraft has traveled more than 6 billion km (3.7 billion miles) in an attempt to be the first spacecraft to successfully rendezvous with a comet. It is presently nearing the main asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars – some 500,000 km (300,000 miles) from its destination. And until August, it will executing a series of 10 orbit correction maneuvers to line it self up to meet with 67P, which will take place on August 6th.

Rosetta will then continue to follow the comet around the Sun as it moves back out toward the orbit of Jupiter. By November of 2014, Rosetta’s mission will then to launch its Philae space probe to the comet, which will provide the first analysis of a comet’s composition by drilling directly into the surface. This will provide scientists with the first-ever interior view of a comet, and provide them with a window in what the early Solar System looked like.

rosetta-1The three NASA instruments include the MIRO, Alice, and IES. The MIRO (or Microwave Instrument for Rosetta Orbiter) comes in two parts – the microwave section and the spectrometer. The first is designed to measure the comet’s surface temperatures to provide information on the mechanisms that cause gas and dust to pull away from it and form the coma and tail. The other part, a spectrometer, will measure the gaseous coma for water, carbon monoxide, ammonia, and methanol.

Alice (not an acronym, just a nickname) is a UV spectrometer designed to determine the gases present in the comet and gauge its history. It will also be used to measure the rate at which the comet releases water, CO and CO2, which will provide details of the composition of the comet’s nucleus. IES (or Ion and Electron Sensor) is one of five plasma analyzing instruments that make up the Rosetta Plasma Consortium (RPC) suite. This instrument will measure the charged particles as the comet draws nearer to the sun and the solar wind increases.

oriontestflightNamed in honor of the Rosetta Stone – the a basalt slab that helped linguists crack ancient Egyptian – Rosetta is expected to provide the most detailed information about what comets look like up close (as well as inside and out). Similarly, the lander, Philae, is named after the island in the Nile where the stone was discovered. Together, they will help scientists shed light on the early history of our Solar System by examining one of its oldest inhabitants.

Next up, there’s the next-generation Orion spacecraft, which NASA plans to use to send astronauts to Mars (and beyond) in the not too distant future. And with its launch date (Dec. 4th, 2014) approaching fast, NASA scientists have set out what they hope to learn from its maiden launch. The test flight, dubbed EFT-1 is the first of three proving missions set to trial many of the in-flight systems essential to the success of any manned mission to Mars, or the outer Solar System.

orionheatshield-1EFT-1 will take the form of an unmanned test flight, with the Orion spacecraft being controlled entirely by a flight control team from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center located in Florida. One vital component to be tested is the Launch Abort System (LAS), which in essence is a fail-safe required to protect astronauts should anything go wrong during the initial launch phase. Designed to encapsulate the crew module in the event of a failure on the launch pad, the LAS thrusters will fire and carry the Orion away from danger.

Orion’s computer systems – which are 400 times faster than those used aboard the space shuttle and have the ability to process 480 million instructions per second- will also be tested throughout the test flight. However, they must also demonstrate the ability to survive the radiation and extreme cold of deep space followed by the fiery conditions of re-entry, specifically in the context of prolonged human exposure to this dangerous form of energy.

oriontestflight-1Whilst all systems aboard Orion will be put through extreme conditions during EFT-1, none are tested as stringently as those required for re-entry. The entire proving mission is designed around duplicating the kind of pressures that a potential manned mission to Mars will have to endure on its return to Earth, and so naturally the results of the performance of these systems will be the most eagerly anticipated by NASA scientists waiting impatiently in the Kennedy Space Center.

Hence the Orion’s heat shield, a new design comprised of a 41mm (1.6-inch) thick slab of Avcoat ablator, the same material that protected the crew of Apollo-era missions. As re-entry is expected to exceed speeds of 32,187 km/h (20,000 mph), this shield must protect the crew from temperatures of around 2,204 ºC (4,000 ºF). Upon contact with the atmosphere, the heat shield is designed to slowly degrade, drawing the intense heat of re-entry away from the crew module in the process.

orionheatshield-2The final aspect of EFT-1 will be the observation of the parachute deployment system. Assuming the LAS has successfully jettisoned from the crew module following launch, the majority of Orion’s stopping power will be provided by the deploying of two drogue parachutes, followed shortly thereafter by three enormous primary parachutes, with the combined effect of slowing the spacecraft to 1/1000th of its initial re-entry speed.

Previous testing of the parachute deployment system has proven that the Orion spacecraft could safely land under only one parachute. However, these tests could not simulate the extremes that the system will have to endure during EFT-1 prior to deployment. The Orion spacecraft, once recovered from the Pacific Ocean, is set to be used for further testing of the ascent abort system in 2018. Data collected from EFT-1 will be invaluable in informing future testing, moving towards a crewed Orion mission some time in 2021.

oriontestflight-2NASA staff on the ground will be nervously monitoring several key aspects of the proving mission, with the help of 1,200 additional sensors geared towards detecting vibration and temperature stress, while taking detailed measurements of event timing. Furthermore, cameras are set to be mounted aboard Orion to capture the action at key separation points, as well as views out of the windows of the capsule, and a live shot of the parachutes as they deploy (hopefully).

The launch promises to be a historic occasion, representing a significant milestone on mankind’s journey to Mars. Orion, the product of more than 50 years of experience, will be the first human-rated spacecraft to be constructed in over 30 years. The Orion will be launch is expected to last four hours and 25 minute, during which time a Delta-2 Heavy rocket will bring it to an altitude of 5,794 km (3,600 miles) with the objective of creating intense re-entry pressures caused by a return from a deep space mission.

And be sure to check out this animation of the Orion Exploration Flight Test-1:

Sources: gizmag.com, (2)

Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead – Part IV

walking-dead-7-the-calm-before-billboard-600x300Welcome to the fourth and last installment in my review of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead series. Today, I will be coming volumes 7 and 8, which were adapted to create the second half of season three, for the most part anyway. Basically, everything that happens between the confrontation at Woodbury and the assault of the Governor’s people on the prison falls into these two volumes.

These included Rick and the prison people’s attempts to get ready, their procurement of weapons, and the whereabouts of the Governor after Michonne’s little revenge party with him. And whereas that conclusion was rather abortive in the show, it was both startling and bloody in the comic! But as usual, I like to save the differences between the show and the source material for the end.

Bring on the mighty conclusion!

Volume 7 – The Calm Before:
the-walking-dead-Volume_7-The_Calm_BeforeThe first issue of the volume opens with Lori thinking back on her experiences with Shane. Her baby is almost due, and she decides to tell Rick that it may not even be his. He stops her and let’s her know that he already suspected, and that it doesn’t matter since he’s planning on raising the child as his own. With Hershel officiating, Glenn and Maggie have their wedding in the prison’s cafeteria and everyone attends.

Afterwards, Rick, Tyreese and Dale do an inventory of their weapons and ammo and determine they don’t have enough of either. They decide that a run will have to be made to the National Guard station where Woodbury got its weapons from. A party is formed with Tyreese, Michonne, Andrea, Axel, Glenn and Maggie and they take the RV.

Back at the prison, people continue to integrate with each other, their garden continues to produce, and people talk about all the members of their crew that have been lost. This includes Allen, Otis, Shawn, Lacy, Arnold, Rachel and Susie now. It seems that after so many deaths, people have grown numb to loss.

the-walking-dead-nationalguardpostOn the way out, they chance upon a fallen sign that tells them where to go and find the National Guard station. After grabbing all the fuel and ammo they can and commandeering a troop truck to load it up, they set fire to the place so no one else will be able to visit it later, and proceed to take off. They stop at a local Wal-Mart to stock up on food too, but are found by a bunch of armed men who were drawn by the explosion.

They discover the men are from Woodbury, and they recognize Glenn. After shooting him, Andrea opens fire and kills two of them while Michonne takes out the others with her sword. Glenn, luckily, was protected by his body armor and only suffered some cracked ribs. They load up what they can from the Wal-Mart and leave.

the-walking-dead-lorisbabyLori begins to have contractions and is brought to the infirmary where Rick and Alice begin delivery. However, the generator is about to go out and Billy and Dale rush to put more gas in it to keep the power on. Realizing they are almost out, they run to the lot to siphon more from the vehicles, and Dale is bitten on the leg by a Walker hiding beneath the cars. Andrea and the others arrive and find Billy and Dale, who is still alive.

In the infirmary, Lori gives birth to their daughter, a healthy girl. But their joy is short-lived when Andrea and the others burst in carrying Dale. Holding him down, Rick takes the saw and cuts the lower half of his leg off. He survives, and Rick reflects on how screwed up their world now is. Lori tries to restore some happiness to the moment by telling Rick they should name their daughter Judith.

In the coming days, Rick and Lori tends to their new baby, they unload the supplies, begin training in how to use the weapons they procured, and continue to plant and till their fields. Carol seems to have recovered from Lori turning down her offer for a poly-amorous relationship, and Andrea gives Dale some crutches and he is able to get out of his bed.

Everything seems to be getting back to normal, though Dale now feels useless and worries Andrea and Tyreese are sleeping together. However, his fears prove baseless, as Andrea reveals that they were working together to make him a prosthetic leg. While leading a shooting party outside the fence, Andrea is asked by Alice to procure her a living Walker for study.

the-walking-dead-carolsdeathWhen Rick learns about it, he grabs a gun and prepares to shoot it. However, Alice talks him down by saying that this having one could help them immensely, both in fighting them and perhaps finding a cure. Carol meets with Lori again and asks that she take care of Sophia if anything happens to her. After Lori agrees, she goes off and has sex with Billy. After that, she goes to the chained Walker and lets it kill her.

the-walking-dead-governor-killthemallWhen they find her, Andrea shoots the Walker and then Carol. In the coming days, people try to come to grips with her death. Tyreese is mainly angry at her for killing herself, and finds comfort in the arms of Michonne. Slowly, everyone begins to recover again. And after several months of preparing, they begin to think that the feared confrontation with the Governor isn’t coming.

Suddenly, a large convoy of trucks and an armored vehicle pulls up at the fence line. A one-armed, one-eyed Governor emerges from the armored vehicle and declares “KILL THEM ALL!”

Volume 8 – Made to Suffer:
the-walking-dead-Volume_8-Made_to_SufferThe volume opens with a recount of what happened to the Governor after Rick, Michonne and the others escaped from Woodbury. After finding him mutilated, but still alive, his men brought him to the infirmary. Realizing that doc Stevens and Alice were gone, they pulled Bob – a former medic and alcoholic that they had been keeping in a cell – out and told him to save the Governor’s life.

Though he was not able to save the Governor’s eye, reattach his arm, or his manhood, he was able to stop the bleeding and keep him alive. Of course, much of the work had already been done by Michonne, who cauterized his arm with a blowtorch after severing it. In any case, the Governor woke up even crazier than before.

the-walking-dead-governor-speechAfter his men find Martinez’s remains, he orders the head removed and presents it to his people, claiming Rick’s party murdered Martinez and left it on their doorstep as a message. After whooping them into a frenzy, he went about the task of sending his people out to find the prison.

This proved easy after they found the National Guard post destroyed and followed their tracks. However, having found it, the Governor ordered his people to wait and so as to give Rick and his people a false sense of security. After a few months had passed, he ordered his people to load up and prepare for war.

In addition to guns, two troops trucks, and about half a dozen pickups, they also deployed an Infantry Fighting Vehicle they snagged from the Nati0n Guard base. When they arrive, fifty some odd men come behind the Governor, and he orders them to open fire and kill everyone inside. They oblige him, and the bullets begin to fly.the-walking-dead-governorattacksLuckily for the prison camp, a slew of Walkers are standing outside the gate and are poised between the Governor’s army and them. Rick orders everybody to find cover and tells Andrea to get up in the guard tower and start sniping. Running inside, he alerts Lori and tells her to get Patricia and the, and load up a truck with supplies and go without him.

He returns outside where the Governor orders his people to stop firing and issues an ultimatum – for their weapons, he will let them live. When no answer comes, he orders his men to resume firing, but Andrea starts shooting them. She manages to get a shot on the Governor but since he’s armored, he survives. She takes off her helmet to get a better shot and then takes out several of his men.

the-walking-dead-Andrea-ShootingUnfortunately, a bullet grazes her now unarmored head. The Governor’s men suggest taking down the fence, but the Governor knows the prison will be useless without fences. He orders the armored vehicle to start plowing down the Walkers to clear a path for their shots. They then open fire again and hit Axel. Andrea recovers and starts sniping multiple targets, and the Governor’s forces retreat.

With their attackers pulling back, the prison crew begin to come out of cover and take stock of their wounded. Axel’s arm is hit, but he’s otherwise unharmed. Andrea suffered a graze to the head and falls unconscious. Worse though, is Rick, who was hit in the stomach and collapses. All three are brought to the infirmary, and Rick’s condition doesn’t appear too good. Alice tells them Rick needs blood, and Patricia tells her she’s a universal donor, so she volunteers.

Dale speaks to Andrea and tells her they need to start thinking about getting out of dodge before they die. He asks Lori to come too; she refuses, but Dale insists that they take Sophia, Ben and Billy with them. Maggie and Glenn agree to go with them, and pack in the RV and drive off. Rick wakes up from his coma and takes stock of their situation. Having learned that people have left, he begins to think they won’t be able to deal with another attack.

Meanwhile, Michonne discusses a reprisal attack with Tyreese, hitting the Governor and his crew before they can make it back to Woodbury. He agrees, they put on riot gear and head out. Up the road, they find the Governor’s convoy and take out his sentries. However, things get sticky when more show up and start shooting. Tyreese is eventually captured and brought before the Governor, who’s men tell him that Michonne is dead and they present her sword as evidence.

the-walking-dead-tyreese-dies1Back at the prison, Rick overlooks their defenses and decides to reposition their cars and trucks to offer barriers. They also load up an escape truck with supplies, and bring out all the grenades they have to use in a hurry. He also gives Carl his gun and tells him to keep it on him at all times, and tells the watch to wear their remains riot suits at all times. They hear a gunshot and run to the front yard.

One of the governor’s trucks has come back. The back opens to reveal the Governor standing over Tyreese, and holding Michonne’s sword. He once again demands they open the gates, and threatens to execute Tyreese and Michonne, who he claims he’s got stashed away in the cabin. Rick won’t oblige, and the Governor proceeds to cut Tyreese’s head off. Billy opens fire, but the truck makes it away.

the-walking-dead-governor_michonneBack at his camp, the Governor is angered that his plan didn’t work, but he’s interrupted when Michonne shows up pointing a gun at his head. She is shot at and has to slip away, but manages to wound the Governor and grab her sword. The Governor, extremely pissed, orders his men to turn around and head back to the prison to finish their assault.

The shooting begins again, and Axel is hit in the head and killed. Rick’s people take cover beneath their trucks. Billy is pinned in his tower and begins lobbing grenades. Andrea and Dale show up again, with her sniping from the roof, and one of the Governor’s trucks slams into it, sending her to the ground. Still, the Governor’s people are dying faster than they can stand, and he commandeers the armored vehicle and drives it over the fence.

Rick runs back to find Lori, and sees her on her knees with a gun to her head. However, he’s relieved to see its Alice, and they were staging it since they thought Rick was one of the Governor’s men. They run to the front yard and prepare to load up and leave, but the front yard is now being overrun by the Governor’s people and Walkers. As they run out, they are hit by a hail of bullets and Patricia is killed.

the-walking-dead-lorisdeathBilly is killed and Hershel falls to his knees, crying over his body. Alice tells Rick, Lori and Carl to run and covers them from a doorway. She takes out a few men, but is shot and then finished off by the Governor. Rick, Lori and Carl are near the edge of the fence now, but Lori is hit by a bullet that kills her. She falls over and lands on Judith, killing her too. Rick is traumatized, but tells Carl to keep moving…

The Governor puts a gun to Hershel’s head and kills him. The woman who shot Lori sees her body and that of her baby and loses it. She slams her gun into the Governor’s face and sticks the barrel in his mouth. The group manages to stop her from shooting him, but is then overrun by Walkers. The Governor frees himself and tries to rally them, but the woman who shot Lori pulls her pistol and shoots the Governor in the back of the head.

the-walking-dead-governorsdeathHis body crumples to the ground and is eaten by Walkers. The rest of their group is surrounded by Walkers and they are either consumed or run off into the wilderness. On the nearby hillside, Rick and Carl finally make it to safety. Carl realizes that his mother and little sister didn’t make it and tries to run back. Rick holds him and they both begin to cry.

Differences with AMC’s The Walking Dead:
We find ourselves at last at the ending of season three of the Walking Dead, and with all the cumulative changes they made from the original story. And it was by this time that the biggest change in the show’s history took place, one which has made season four likely to be very different from any of the volumes that follow. But first, I want to cover the small stuff and things they didn’t change.

the-walking-dead-governorgunFirst off, the show did contain some commitment to the spirit of the comics in how the Governor and his men assaulted the prison on two separate occasions. In the first, they shot up the yard, killed Axel, and unleashed some zombies into it. The second was where the decisive battle happened, with the Governor and his people crashing through the gates and attempting to storm the prison in force.

And Axel and Lori did die in this general area of the story, but in different ways. Whereas Axel was killed during the Governor’s raid in the show, he didn’t die until the end when the final battle took place. Also, Lori’s death wasn’t due to an emergency C-section performed in a boiler room that saw her die and her baby live. Both she and the baby died in the final fight, terribly!

wd3_morgan1Also, the intervening period between these two battles took so much longer in the show, which I find annoying in hindsight. Much like with everything else in seasons two and three, the producers were determined to drag the confrontation out, what with Andrea trying to pick a side and brokering peace talks between Rick and the Governor. No such process ever took place in the comics. After Rick, Michonne and the rest escaped Woodbury, the Governor simply took his time in attacking, and then did!

What’s more, the buildup happened differently. Rather than show how the first assault had split the camp and people began to leave, the writers used this time to reintroduce Morgan and explain how his son died. A good episode, but once again, a case of shuffling. Morgan did not get reintroduced until after the prison assault, and he chose to join Rick and the others since Duane was now dead and he had no reason to stay behind. Also, they didn’t get their stocks of weapons from him.

wd3_oneeyeAlso, I should take this opportunity to point out that at no point in the original comics did Rick and his people assault Woodbury. Their initial confrontation didn’t involve an attack to rescue their own people who’d been taken captive (Glenn and Maggie), it involved Rick, Michonne and Glenn being taken captive and tortured. There was no ambiguity about the Governor’s motives or the fact that he was an evil, malicious bastard.

In the show, they presented things in a more ambiguous way. While they certainly kept to the script by showing the Governor to be a psycho who treated all foreign groups as a threat and killed them, the way they had Rick and his crew attacking his town first kind of made it look like he was a sort of victim. Psycho or not, hitting him and his people where they lived was a lot like poking an already angry bear.

At this point in season three, Milton also begins to turn against the Governor and sabotages his plans. This might be a good opportunity for me to point out that in the comics – as Doctor Stevens – he was never a friend of the Governor in the first place. What’s more, he died a long time ago. Having yet another character struggle with their loyalties – a la Andrea and Dale – seemed like they were harping on an overly-familiar theme.

wd3_tyreeseAh, and another weird case of plot shuffling – at this point in season three we are FINALLY introduced to Tyreese, a character that was supposed to be with the show from the beginning. And in addition to his late arrival, his companions were completely different from the comic. Instead of his daughter Judie and Chris her boyfriend, he came with his sister Sasha and father and son duo who didn’t exist in the original.

On top of that, there was no case of him experiencing a crossover with the Governor and Woodbury or a conflicted sense of loyalties. Also, I couldn’t see why it was necessary to have Rick chase them off and then have them learn that the Governor’s camp were the actual bad guys. Wasn’t Andrea, Milton and Merle enough on that front? All of this seemed like a very weird case of late introductions followed by an inexplicable plot mashup.

And, most importantly, he was supposed to die at this point in the story. Not only is he being introduced late, he’s being introduced at a point in the story when his original was killed off. Seems weird. And I should also point out that Carol was also dead at this point, the victim of tragic circumstance after her attempted suicide left her feeling without friends or respect. But as usual, she’s still alive in the show despite not having much to do.

the-walking-dead-season3endBut alas, the biggest and most disappointing change came in the final battle and its outcome. In the comic, it was a devastating event, resulting in the deaths of Hershel, his son Billy, Alison, Patricia, Lori, Judith, and Axel. Rick and a handful of others managed to make it out, but only by the skin of their teeth, and the Governor himself died in the assault. The only other people who could be alive at this point were the ones who’d already left.

It was not the abortive event they made it out to be in the show, with the Governor’s people fleeing at the first sign of trouble, him gunning them all down, and then leaving with his henchmen to be heard from at some later date. That I found pretty lame, and I was hardly alone in that. He shot twenty-some odd of his own people and his henchmen – who were supposed to be dead at this point – had nothing to say about it. Then they simply drove off… weak!

And of course, after the battle Rick and the others traveled to Woodbury, collected all the people there and brought them back to the prison. This was so far off script that I wasn’t sure how to respond. So now, instead of Rick and Carl wandering around in the wilderness looking for other survivors, battling hunger, Walkers, and their own grief, they are back at the prison with more people than before and trying to integrate them. Night and day, man. Night and day!

All in all, season three was a watered-down, convoluted version of the original comics. It took its time and tried real hard to get its audience emotionally involved, but instead turned into a big build-up towards and ending that was a big letdown. Not only did the whole thing fizzle at the end, the way they left it open-ended seemed a bit trite and commercial too. But of course, its television. What can you do?

Summary:
If it wasn’t clear from all of that, reading the comics really had a dire impact of my view on the show. But then again, after the season three closer, I was already kind of disenchanted. Season two was not my favorite by any stretch due to the slow pace and the way the conflicts dragged out. And after what I thought was a good first half to the third season, the second half began to feel like more of the same.

And perhaps I’m being unfair, but being able to see how they changed things has only made that worse. It’s not the fact that they made changes, mind you. To fault for them just for doing that would be a terrible act of geek-inspired snobbery! No, it was how they made these changes and why. Between leaving some people out, pushing others in, and shuffling plot elements around, I really can’t see the logic here.

Why did they choose not to introduce Tyreese until this late juncture? Why did they choose to make the Governor’s assault on the prison so incompetent? Why did they feel the need to humanize this evil man so very much? Why did Andrea have such a hard time accepting he was evil when all the evidence was there? Why did they choose to replace well-developed characters from the comics with some of the “highest paid extras” and then just proceed kill them off?

Who knows? Who cares? At this point in the show, they can do what they like. And from the trailers, it seems like they might be veering back towards the original plot anyway, having Rick and his people abandon the prison and head off in search of a new home. Doesn’t really make sense, when you consider the hell they went through to find the place and hold it.

But whatever, more changes aren’t going to hurt at this point. And frankly, I am curious to see what happens next. And you can bet I’ll be doing comparative reviews, since I’ll be doing them anyway in my mind and will probably want to share my observations. Consider yourself warned people!

Until next time, thanks for reading and remember…

zombie_keepcalm

Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead – Part III

Walking-Dead-Volume-5Back with the third installment of my review on Robert Kirkman’s classic tale of the zombie apocalypse, and the AMC miniseries that bears its name. Last time, I got into volume 3 and 4, which became the basis of the series first half, or at least much of the material they covered. Today, I will be covering volumes 5 and 6, which manages to cover the rest of the material from the first half of season three… sort of.

I know, confusing! But as I’ve said before, the show’s producers and writers took some rather large liberties when it came to season three, most of which seemed to be the result of changes made to season two. With Shane only dying at the end of that season, and Andrea getting lost in the wilderness and separated from the pack, and Merle’s ongoing disappearing act, it was predictable that the parts of the story dealing with the prison and the Governor would also be handled differently.

Volume 5 – The Best Defense:
the-walking-dead-thebestdefenseThe new volume opens with Rick, Dale, and Tyreese performing a final sweep of the prison to make sure the last of the cell blocks is clear. Things are strained between Rick and Tyreese, but time seems to have healed the rift a little. Glenn and Maggie find them and tell them they found the armory, which is stocked full of guns and suits of riot gear.

Outside, they test the riot gear by doing a sweep outside of the walls. It proves effective and they managed to take out several Walkers with ease. Their sweep is interrupted when they hear a noise coming from overhead, but they are enthused when they learn that its coming from a passing helicopter. That changes when they realize that it’s crashing in the distance.

A scouting part is formed with Rick, Glenn and Michonne. They commandeer a car from the parkade and head out to search for the crash site. Back inside, Lori continues to worry about Carol’s odd behavior towards her. The two have taken to distributing books from the library and planning movie nights now that they have electricity and some DVDs.

the-walking-dead-choppercrashRick, Glenn and Michonne follow the smoke plume from the crashed chopper to a nearby forest. After their car gets stuck, they are forced to make the last of the leg on foot. When they finally come to the wreckage, they see several sets of footprints leading from the chopper, which means someone took the crew away. They begin to follow the tracks to a nearby town called Woodbury.

Back at the prison, Andrea and Dale talk to Allen’s two son’s – Ben and Billy – and let them know that they will be taking care of them from now on since both their mother and father have died. Lori’s fears are confirmed when Carol suggests a polyamorous relationship between her, Lori and Rick. She naturally shoots the idea down, and Carol storms away in anger.

the-walking-dead-thegovernorWhen Rick, Glenn and Michonne reach the town’s fence line, guns open fire and take out the Walkers pursuing them. They are pulled inside by a man named Martinez and other armed guards, and showed to a man called the Governor. He naturally wants to know who they are, and they lie and say they have been traveling.

He shows them around the town and explains they have a four block radius that is protected by walls, with intentions to expand of course. The highlight of the tour is a stadium where they have live gladiatorial-style fights, which involving Walkers. When Rick asks how they are keeping them alive – i.e. fed – the Governor tells them “Well stranger, we’re feeding them strangers.”

the-walking-dead-rickshandRick and the others are immediately taken captive, and the Governor tells them that the chopper crew is being cut up to be fed to the Walkers. The purpose of the games is to keep the peace, he says, as people need distractions and release. He demands to know where Rick and his party came from, where they got their armor, and to make his point, he chops off Rick’s right hand.

Michonne tackles him and bites off his ear, and the Governor orders her thrown in a cell so he can deal with her personally. Glenn is tossed in another cell and Rick is hauled to their resident doctor, who is clearly hostile towards him. He then goes to Michonne, who is conversing with her dead boyfriend, looking for strength, and proceeds to beat and rape her.

the-walking-dead-governor-headsRick wakes up in the infirmary, tackles the doctor when he comes in and the nurse if forced to sedate him. Finished with Michonne for the night, the Governor heads home and meets his daughter, a Walker that he is keeping alive. After feeding her parts from the chopper crew, he takes the heads and placing them in a tank where dozens of other Walker heads are suspended in water.

He then goes to Glenn and demands he tell them where they came from. When Glenn won’t reply, he goes back to Michonne’s cell and beats her terribly, making his listen. He then visits Rick next to get his ear patched up, and tells Rick that Glenn told him everything about the prison. He also says he let him go and plans to follow him back.

the-walking-dead-tyreesscoutingAt the prison, everyone continues to worry about Rick and the others. Carol attempts to comfort Lori, is once again brushed off. Tyreese puts on another riot suit and heads out to pick up their trail. When he returns, they are forced to drive out to get him and pull him inside. He tells them all he found their car, but there was no sign of them. Back at Woodbury, the Governor reveals that he was bluffing, and that Glenn is still in his custody.

Volume 6 – This Sorrowful Life:
the-walking-dead-6-This_Sorrowful_LifeWhile in the infirmary, Rick is told by Stevens – the doctor – that he wants to help him, but that they are both under guard. A fight between two gladiators and when stabs the other in the neck. The Governor tells Michonne that if she steps into the ring and gives the crowd a good show, he will give her a few days grace.

Michonne is takes to the field with her sword amidst a huge crowd and proceeds to very quickly decapitate her opponent and all the Walkers chained up around her. The crowd is incensed and the Governor orders taken back to her cell. Rick meanwhile befriends the nurse Alice and learns that she too would like to escape.

the-walking-dead-woodburyescapeThey get their wish when Martinez comes in and tells them he’s defecting, and they need to leave now if they are going to make it out. They find Glenn, whom Rick thought was dead, and learns that the Governor doesn’t yet know where the prison is. They make it to Michonne’s cell and free her too, and Alice and the doc join them.

They head for the wall and wait for Stevens to get some supplies from the infirmary, and Michonne tells them she needs to go visit the Governor and will catch up with them, or not. Once they make it over, doc Stevens is bitten and they are forced to shoot him and the Walker, thus alerting people inside the town. They begin to beat a hasty retreat, knowing they’ll have guards to worry about soon.

the-walking-dead-governor-remainsMichonne breaks into the Governor’s apartment and they begin to fight it out. She overpowers him quickly enough and then chains him up. As soon as he wakes up, she begin to go to work on him with a number of power tools. By the time his henchmen come to the door, Michonne has cut off his arm, removed his eye, sodomized him with a spoon, and removed his manhood. She then flees and catches up with Rick and the others, and refuses to talk about it.

They begin to proceed back to the prison and are attacked by multiple waves of Walkers. Luckily, they find their way back to their old car and drive the rest of the way. When they arrive, they find the front yard overrun by Walkers and fear the worst. The issue ends with a quick look over at Morgan and Duane, who are still in their old hometown and enjoying Christmas together.

the-walking-dead-issue35Glenn drives into the yard and crashes the car into the far wall. The other follow, forcibly cutting a path. Rick finds Otis’ reanimated corpse on the ground, and Alice runs to pull Glenn out of the wreck. Andrea and Dale emerge from the RV and begin to provide cover. The explain that the Walkers got in after Tyreese came back from looking for them, that Otis and Hershel were bit, and that the rest ran inside.

While Andrea and Martinez provide cover, Rick gets the front door open and lets them inside. Hershel is there to meet him and tells him he was wounded by “friendly fire”. Lori and Carl come to greet him and are shocked to see he lost his hand. Telling him to sit this one out, Tyreese leads the others outside to clear the rest of the yard.

the-walking-dead-martinezdiesNext day, they begin burning the Walkers, but Glenn asks them to stop long enough to fetch a wedding ring from one the bodies. Alice looks Lori over and determines that her pregnancy is coming along nicely and she is healthy. Aside from the death of Otis, everything seems fine. Until Rick learns that Martinez is missing, and suspects they’ve been had…

Rick grabs the RV and starts driving off alone to find him. Within minutes, he spots Martinez running across the field and rams the truck into him. While standing over his broken body, Martinez tells Rick he wanted to get his own people into the prison and away from the Governor. Rick tells him he doesn’t know what people are capable of, but Martinez replies that he’s beginning to see, and Rick chokes the last of his life out of him.

the-walking-dead-glennmaggie_marriedBack at the prison, Glenn asks Hershel’s permission to wed Maggie, which he agrees to. Maggie does too, and they decide to hold a wedding and let Hershel officiate. Rick returns and tells Lori how he killed Martinez and that he doesn’t know who he is anymore. He calls a meeting and tells everyone about Woodbury, the Governor, and how they need to prepare for their arrival…

Differences to AMC’s The Walking Dead:
Picking up where I left off last time, it should be clear to anyone at this point what the biggest divergence was at this point in the adaptation. Namely, Lori isn’t dead! Yes, by this point in the show, she was not only nine months but pregnant, but died in the delivery due to complications caused by one of the inmates (Andrew) who escaped and came back to cause trouble. Never happened! Moving on…

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????The introduction to the Governor and Woobdury was also something that happened much quicker in the comic book, and didn’t involve a separate thread where Andrea and Michonne wandered in. What remained true to the spirit of the comic was the involvement of a crashed helicopter, which Andrea and Michonne tracked until they came upon the Governor’s own people. But beyond that, things happened very differently.

Also, the fights that the Governor stages were very different, with the version presented by the show being a rather benign affair where the Walkers had their teeth removed. The fact that Andrea approved of them seemed weird, but then again, so was her relationship with the Governor. Much like the feud between Shane and Rick, the way this tested her loyalties was something that I felt dragged out inexorably in season three.

WD3_dead_merleWhat’s more, when the two camps did come together in the form of the Governor taking some of the prison crew captive, it was Glenn and Maggie he grabbed in the show, not Glenn, Rick and Michonne. Instead of torturing and raping Michonne, the Governor instead threatened to rape Maggie while Glenn listened. But alas, he didn’t, nor did he chop anyone’s hands off. He still came off as cruel, but nowhere near as psychotic as he was in the comics.

In fact, vast efforts were made to humanize the Governor throughout the third season, which I did not understand. Many a time, it felt like the writers were trying to steer the audience back to seeing the good in him, like they couldn’t make up their minds as to whether he was truly crazy, or just hardened and redeemable. After the first few episodes, it seemed established that his outer persona of the benevolent Governor concealed his inner, psychotic self. Best to leave it at that and move on.

WD3_suffer_pennyAlso, Michonne’s disdain and hate for the Governor also seemed somewhat unjustified in the show since he never took her captive or abused her in the first place. This made the showdown scene with him later seem remarkably toned down and less justified. In the comics, she mutilated him horribly in revenge for torturing and raping her. But in the show, she kills his Walker daughter and stabs him in the eye because… she just never liked him. Way less convincing!

Another element which was missing here was Carol’s descent into quasi-madness. As I’ve said before, not having Tyreese or Sophia around left a big, gaping hole in her story. And some abortive romantic tension between her and Daryl really didn’t fill that void. Instead, she seemed to grow stronger and more confident, never really doing much, but still exuding a toughness that wasn’t there in her before.

WD3_dead_carolGlenn and Maggie’s courtship was adapted truly though. In the comics, as with the show, they truly came together once they began living in the prison. And faced with the prospect of death, they decided to make every moment count and got married. And of course, Hershel approved and officiated. In this one case, everything was by the book.

And of course, I could mention that so much of this depended on Merle, who in the show was practically the Governor’s right hand man. He was the one who captured Maggie and Glenn, tortured Glenn, and then tried to feed him to a Walker. At this point in the comics, Otis did die, but Axel was still alive, and of course Tyreese was part of the camp.

Summary:
In short, it seemed like at this point, the show’s writers were determined to keep things true to the spirit of the comic, if not the letter. But the changes were very vast and sweeping, and required them to seriously retool many plot elements. Also, as I mentioned, great pains were taken to create a sense of tension with regards to divided loyalties, with both Andrea and Merle, that never took place in the original.

While it seemed creative to bring Merle back into the fold by putting him in with their enemy, Andrea’s relationship with the Governor and the way she became torn with the whole “can’t we all get along” became very drawn out and tedious. And as more than one friend remarked to me, the way she kept trusting in the Governor and giving him the benefit of the doubt made her seem like a bit of an idiot.

But of course, much of this hadn’t come up yet and the show still seemed fresh in my mind. The biggest change was the fact that Lori had been killed off and Rick was beginning to lose it as a result. This called to mind how he began to lose it in the last volume when Carol nearly killed herself and he and Tyreese had their terrible fight. But again, this was a case of removing one thing and subbing another. Doesn’t seem true to the spirit of the story when you keep doing a cut and paste job like that…

One more installment to go before I’ve caught up to the show! I tell ya, I’m not sure what to expect out of season four, but I can tell you that it’s likely to be so widely divergent from the comics at this point that just about anything could be done. And that’s my problem, since I disapprove on the one hand, but am made more curious as a result.

Man, this is so much easier with Game of Thrones. By comparison, those people really stay on script!

The Matrix Trilogy!

“You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he is expecting to wake up. Ironically, this is not far from the truth…” Damn that was a good line! If only I could convey Laurence Fishburn’s smooth basso voice through this medium. No joke, I actually do a pretty fair impression. And that was just the tip of the iceburg. But I’m not here to talk about the Matrix’s best one-liners, most of which were said by Fishburn. That I’ll save for another post! No, today I wanna talk about the sci-fi movie trilogy that was one of the most influential of the late 90’s and early millennium. How it all began with a little film noire, cutting-edge action and f/x, and was then followed up by two decent but critically disappointing sequels. Yep, welcome to the Matrix!

The Matrix:
As I already said, this movie was hugely influential, and not just because of what it did right in terms of special effects, tone, and visuals. No, this was a movie that combined all those with a storyline that was so deep and multi-layered, people would spend years afterward trying to discern every level of meaning they could from it. And why shouldn’t they? The concept of an alternate reality where people are deceived into accepting a fantasy world so that the powers that be can continue to exploit them – need I say more? Already you’ve got something that intellectuals ranging from Marxists, Existentialists, Jungians, Freudians, social psychologists and labor critics will want to pour over and lay claim to! And that’s exactly what happened.

Almost immediately after the release of the movie, people from each and every walk of life were trying to say that the movie’s message was something akin to their own philosophies. “The Matrix is a metaphor for industrial society! “No, it’s a metaphor for class-warfare!” “No, it’s a metaphor for false-consciousness!” “No, it’s a metaphor for the futility of belief systems and the need to define your own existence!” “No, it’s a metaphor for the struggle of the individual to self-actualize amidst the herd.” “Shut up, you’re all right!” One of the main reasons the Matrix was so influential and such a big hit was the fact that it had such a broad appeal. It had something for everyone, and I don’t just mean the ivory tower types. It was fun, action-packed, yet smart enough that you didn’t have to check your brain at the door. But I don’t want to go long here so let me just break down what it did well!

Sci-fi Premise: In truth, when I was first watching it I found the movie’s big revelation (as far as science fiction ideas go) just the slightest bit hokey. We created AI, we got into a war with them and destroyed the world as we know it. To survive, they converted us into a great big power plant and feed us an alternate reality to keep us docile and controlled. It was pretty novel, and made perfect sense, but I guess I thought that explaining this alternate reality in any real terms kind of brought it down. Up until that point there was a whole lot of David Lynch-type weirdness and suspense going on, and once the sci-fi foundation became clear… I dunno, just seemed a tad incongruous. In a way, it was like Dark City, a noire-suspense movie that was pretty damn intriguing until they made it about aliens. Somehow, those two genres just didn’t seem to fit.

But that’s when it hit me. The explanation for what the Matrix was almost didn’t matter. At that point, you found yourself so engrossed in the richness of the idea that ANY explanation as to what it really was would feel like a letdown. It was one of those moments where you just went “Oh! Ohhhhh…”. But what can you do? Sooner or later you have to explain what’s going on, otherwise you end up exactly like David Lynch, making movies no one understands but them damn intellectuals! And like I said, the plot made perfect sense and was actually pretty damn cool once they got right down to it. The AI thing has been done to death, but never before had anyone considered how a race of evil machines might come to rely on human physiology to fulfill all their evil-machine needs.

Wake Up!: And let’s not forget the extremely potent metaphor about wakefulness and sleeping. Already, the Wachowski brothers were handing the critics and intellectuals something they could ponder on and fight over like a piece of meat. What is the significance of this being asleep in a false reality and the need to wake up and accept the harsh truth? Is it a metaphor for false consciousness and class conflict, where the workers must wake up and realize they are chained and break free? Is it about the individual who must throw off the comforting illusions about a moral universe and a loving God in order to see the truth of how the universe is a harsh, cruel place? Who knows, who cares? Point is, it worked! And it was done so right that it really didn’t matter. Take for example Morpheus, the Greek god of sleep of dreams who acts as Neo’s guide the world of the Matrix. He is clearly the wise man/father figure of the bunch who is seeking to enlighten Neo, and his dialogue throughout the movie is punctuated by this idea of dreams and the need to awaken:

“I imagine that right now, you’re feeling a bit like Alice. Hmm? Tumbling down the rabbit hole?” “You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he is expecting to wake up.” “Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?” And of course, who can forget the tagline: “Welcome to the real world.” Hell, even Keanu Reeves gets a good one in there: “You ever have that feeling where you’re not sure if you’re awake or still dreaming?”

See? It’s appropriate and fitting, relying on existential undertones, mythological/literary references, and poignant imagery to construct a world in which people are suffering from a delusion and need to break free. Even the theme song, “Wake Up” by Rage Against the Machine seemed like it was written especially for the movie (Rage can always be counted on to provide a hard rock anthem for anything revolutionary!)

Free-Will vs. Determinism: Here is something that could have easily gone wrong, and yet it didn’t. In truth, this movie managed to present the whole free-will/determinism in a way that was actually pretty faithful and interesting. On the one hand, Neo tells Morpheus that he rejects the idea of fate in favor of free will, and even though Morpheus seems to agree with him on this, he also believes that Neo’s fate has been written. He is the One, you see, the one who’s return was foretold by The Oracle. Seems like we are being told that fate is real and free-will is an illusion. Sounds simple enough. And yet, when Neo goes to see the Oracle, the one who’s been telling everyone what’s to happen, she tells him flat out that he’s not the One. He’s got the gift, but he’s not ready or something. Moreover, she tells him that Morpheus will sacrifice himself needlessly to protect Neo and his belief in him. Now we’re being told that choice is the overriding thing and how blind faith is potentially lethal.

So naturally, Neo goes to save Morpheus when he’s captured and succeeds. All indications point to the very real possibility that he IS the One now. How can this be? Well, Morpheus explains that the Oracle was really telling him what he needed to hear so he could make the right choice when the time came. Or, if you wanna go that route, that the path is set, but its up to the individual to choose whether or not to walk it. Morpheus even says it as such: “She told you exactly what you needed to hear. Neo, sooner or later you’re going to realize just as I did that there’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.” Through all this, it seems that they are making the argument that fate and free will are intertwined, the one very much dependent on the other rather than in conflict with it (which is the point of paradoxes, if I am not mistaken).

Mythology: Already I mentioned Morpheus’ character and the clear mythological reference he represented. Alas, there was the Oracle too, who’s character is also borrowed from Greek mythology (the Fates). Like Morpheus, she acts as a sort of ethereal guide who’s advice is often portentous and vague, but always helpful in the end! And let’s not forget Trinity, a clear reference to the Father-Son-Holy Spirit combo! Granted, I had a hard time figuring out exactly how Trinity fits this profile, but one could argue she’s a trinity of her own: warrior to the cause, lover to Neo, and surrogate daughter to Morpheus. But a better one I’d say comes in the form of her mentoring role to Neo. Already he’s had two mentors who’ve shown him the path. Morpheus who brough him to wakefulness and the Oracle who challenged him to believe and choose. Trinity makes three (no pun!) in the way she at last reveals to him that he is the One through her love. Therein, perhaps, lies the real Trinity: the Guide, the Seer, and the Lover. Woo, that was deep!

And let’s not forget, Neo has plenty of Jesus stuff going on too. He is the prodigal son, after all, the one who was prophecied to return after he first showed up and freed the first of the free people of Zion (speaking of Biblical references!) And remember the way he was resurrected at the end, and through the power of LOVE? Yeah… that’s a Jesus reference all right! But don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t cheesy! It was actually pretty damn stimulating. Here is another thing that can easily go wrong or seem preachy, but the Wachowski’s pulled it off without a hitch!

Literary: And of course there were the numerous references, scriptural and visual, to “Alice in Wonderland”. Morpheus’ greeting to Neo, where he compared Neo to Alice? That was just the first time it came up. Almost immediately thereafter, we get that eerie shot where Morpheus is offering Neo the two pills. The image of the pills and Neo are reflected in Morpheus’ big shades as he tells Neo that he has a chance to keep dreaming or, as he puts it, “stay in Wonderland” and learn the truth. And again, next shot, Neo is in a room where he peers into a cracked mirror and freaky shit begins to happen. Can you say “Alice and the looking glass”? Then there’s the bit about the spoon-bending, and how Neo catches his reflection in it as it bends. And of course near the end where Neo calls Tank and says: “Mr. Wizard, I need an exit.” Dude, all these psychedelic literary references! All I can say is “Whoaaaa!” (Sorry Keanu, I know you hate that!)

Disbelief: One thing I definitely loved about this movie was the many subtle references to truth and belief. Again and again, characters are being confronted with situations that are real, but they cannot accept. It only serves to punctuate the underlying theme of the movie, how reality is sometimes harsh and one must learn to break with comforting delusions. Consider when Neo is told the truth about the Matrix from Morpheus: “No, I don’t believe it. It’s not possible.” “I didn’t say it would be easy, Neo. I only said it would be the truth.” Or the scene where Neo and Morpheus are in the jump program: “You have to let it all go, Neo. Fear, doubt, and disbelief. Free your mind.” And of course, when Cypher gets burned: “No! I don’t believe it!” “Believe it or not, you piece of shit, you’re still gonna burn!” replies Tank, right before scorching him! And what does Agent Smith say before Neo blows him away with that minigun? “No!” Oh, and last, when Neo is shot and apparently killed. What does Morpheus say: “Can’t be…” Of course you knew he wasn’t dead, but wasn’t it better that they included that final act twist!

Badass Look: Remember those dark glasses and trench coats and how perfectly they worked with concealed guns? Yeah, we all know what happened with that… terrible! In addition to all the pain and suffering those Columbine assholes caused, they ruined a perfectly innocuous fashion statement! But it was cool while it lasted. And those gun fight scenes and the martial arts… holy hell! Much like Lucas, they knew exactly where to draw their inspirations from (aka. rip off!). Kung Fu classics like the Bruce Lee lineup, westerns and John Woo shoot em ups! And with all the death defying, anti-gravity stuff they were able to throw in, not to mention all the slow motion, bullet-time effects, it was like action was redefined for a new generation. I can’t even recall how many movies ripped off the effects or directorial style the Wachowski brothers pioneered with this movie!

Hacker Theme: Another group of people who must have loved this movie was hackers! For years now I’ve been studying hackers and hacking as a phenomenon, largely because of the relevance it and they play in the digital age. And I can honestly say that this movie was part of what got me interested in the first place. The way every member of the resistance began as a hacker and how it was their natural “affinity for disobedience” (as Morpheus put it in Reloaded) that led them to that path in the first place? Hackers everywhere must have been rejoicing to see that they were the heroes in a movie other than Hackers! And let’s not deny that this added another layer of meaning to an already multi-layered movie. In addition to the Marxist/Existentialist stuff, we also got some commentary about how in the digital age, hackers are tantamount to freedom fighters! Their enemy, government and industry and their attempts to control the flow of information and monitor all our habits. Not bad, huh?

Wicked Lines: I’ve already mentioned a few gems, and like I said, I’ll probably have to dedicate an entire page to them later. But I’ll be damned if I don’t mention how many gold nuggets were to be found in the script here. With this movie, the Wachowski brothers seemed to stumble onto the secret of good dialogue. Short, sweet, sharp, and best when delivered by Fishburn! Yeah, Hugo Weaving too, and this movie was his breakout role after all! Here’s a shortlist (most of which are from Fishburn!)

Morpheus: “This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”

“Sentient programs. They can move in and out of any software still hard-wired to their system. That means that anyone we haven’t unplugged is potentially an agent. Inside the Matrix, they are everyone and they are no one. We have survived by hiding from them, by running from them, but they are the gatekeepers. They are guarding all the doors, they are holding all the keys, which means that sooner or later, someone is going to have to fight them.”

“Remember, all I’m offering is the truth, nothing more.”

“What is real? How do you define real? If real is what you can feel, smell, taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”

Agent Smith: “Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from. Which is why the Matrix was redesigned to this: the peak of your civilization. I say your civilization, because as soon as we started thinking for you it really became our civilization, which is of course what this is all about. Evolution, Morpheus, evolution. Like the dinosaur. Look out that window. You’ve had your time. The future is our world, Morpheus. The future is our time.”

“I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague and we are the cure.”

“I hate this place. This zoo. This prison. This reality, whatever you want to call it, I can’t stand it any longer. It’s the smell, if there is such a thing. I feel saturated by it. I can taste your stink and every time I do, I fear that I’ve somehow been infected by it.”

Cypher: “You know, I know this steak doesn’t exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? (Takes a bite) Oh… ignorance is bliss!”

Trinity: “Let me tell you what I believe. I believe that Morpheus means more to me than he does to you. I believe if you are really serious about rescuing him, you are going to need my help. And since I am the ranking officer on this ship, if you don’t like it… I believe you can go to hell. Because you’re not going anywhere else. Tank, load us up!”

“Neo, I’m not afraid anymore. The Oracle told me that I would fall in love and that that man… the man that I loved would be The One. So you see, you can’t be dead. You can’t be… because I love you. You hear me? I love you. (kisses Neo, brings him back to life) Now get up!”

Okay, that’s enough! And in reality, that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

And I think my point is clear. Between the martial arts action sequences, the gun fights, the slow motion bullet-time segments, the philosophical journey, the debate between free-will and determinism and a whole lot of commentary on freedom in an age of zeros and ones, this movie pretty well rocked! I’ve seen it too many times for it to be entertaining anymore, but needless to say, I saw it about three times when it first hit theaters and a few times more when it came out on VHS/DVD. It was just something you could watch over and over, and felt the need to since there was too much to really get into in just one sitting! And even at the time, I had to admit there was a certain Star Wars-esque quality to the whole thing, like it was destined to be a pop culture phenomena and a cult-classic at the same time. Like Lucas, the Wachowski’s drew inspiration from a number of sources and knew how to make them work as a package. And wouldn’t you know it, they suffered from the same curse! Years after the release of the original, they followed it up with two more. And… well, you know… more on that next time! Stay tuned for a list of the Matrix’s best lines! I’ve alluded to it enough so expect it next time.

The Matrix:
Entertainment Value: 10/10
Plot: 8.5/10
Direction: 9/10
Total: 9/10