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Countdown to Kickoff: 1999 - The Matrix

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Only 20 weeks remaining.

We are 20 weeks until opening kickoff, which means it’s the official start of our new countdown series. This week we watched The Matrix, which was released March 31, 1999. As the spring game approached I’m sure some of you went to the theater to kill some time. Maybe you saw The Matrix, or maybe you’re like me and you were only a few months old. I know I was born a Husker, so I’m sure deep down I knew that the 1999 football season turned out pretty well. The year started out almost as perfectly as a Husker fan could ask. Nebraska went on the road to Iowa to start the season, and won 42-7. Too bad we let them score a touchdown. Our only loss during the season came by four points to Texas on October 23, but we avenged the loss in the Big 12 Championship. We went to the Fiesta Bowl to face Tennessee, which we won. I’m sure Volunteer fans were pretty salty losing to Nebraska two times in three seasons. I know a lot of the readers out there were alive during our dynasty of the 90s, but sadly I wasn’t born until our last National Championship. Some might think a final record of 12-1 was a disappointment, but for me I’d take that any day of the week.

Review: The Matrix

Andy K: Man, what a year to try picking out one movie to represent. This was a year including (just some of my own personal favorites): Galaxy Quest, The Mummy, The Green Mile, Dogma, Deep Blue Sea, American Beauty, Boys Don’t Cry, Any Given Sunday (just for Pacino’s speech), Cruel Intentions, Three Kings, Election, American Pie (!!!), South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut (!!!), The Sixth Sense (!!!), Office Space (!!!), Varsity Blues (!!!)

Office Space and Varsity Blues for God’s sake!

And I can still completely agree with making the case for The Matrix. Fueled by Bill & Ted, Point Break and Speed, Keanu Reeves had established himself as top leading man. But I would argue The Matrix turned him into KEANU. And I would also argue without The Matrix, there is no John Wick. I don’t want to live in world with no John Wick.

As for the movie, it was quite simply the most groundbreaking thing that had come along since the 70’s, the last decade that everything was groundbreaking in cinema. The 80’s and 90’s had started the era of sequels and suddenly here was a completely original story with utterly original special effects which remain amazing 20 years later and a cast which is still mind-boggling.

It was a movie done so well it made us forget how even winning the war against the computer network would still be depressing as shit. “Yay, we wiped them out. Now we are in charge of our own destinies again in a fucking blasted-out, nuclear waste world where we’ll still be living underground for the next 500 years. Whoopee!!”

I mean I love the idea of doing the right thing, but I don’t think I’m alone when I say Joey Pants might have the right idea by just wanting to be slapped in a pod of liquid goo & dumped back in The Matrix. Hopefully, I’d find a way to do it without murdering all my crew mates.

Nate M: The Matrix is a movie which will stand the test of time. The originality of an idea like the Matrix captivated so many people. Don’t forget the ability to jump from building to building, dodging bullets, learning to fly a helicopter just but implanting knowledge into your “brain” and of course the fight scenes.

Fast forward twenty years and the idea that we are actually living in a simulation is starting to gain traction. While I think it is an attempt by people to not have to look in a certain other direction for a creator, the theory does have extremely intelligent people behind it like Elon Musk and more recently Rizwan Virk who is a MIT Professor who also designs video games and is a software scientist.

Actually I met up with our fearless leader after the Nebraska Spring Game for a couple of beers and we had a brief conversation about the idea of living in a simulation. If Jon wants to tell his view on the subject, then I’ll leave that to him.

The best part about The Matrix is that it is a great ice breaker. Just think, if you see a potential future husband or wife across the room at a social function, you could probably walk up to him or her and simply ask, “so would you take the red pill or the blue pill?”

Jon: I watched the Matrix Tuesday night to refresh my memory. It was hard to watch again knowing what happens to some of the crew - the betrayal - because I hate betrayal. Betrayal is the worst thing in the world. That’s why it’s such an emotional trigger in movies. You see betrayal in a movie, and all you can think about is those that betrayed you in life.

Two things I love most about The Matrix:

The scene in which Agent Smith is describing to Morpheus about the difficulty he had in categorizing the human species, specifically this quote:

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 on this planet, you are a plague, and we...are the cure.

So... basically, we got everything we deserved being subjugated by artificial intelligence and turned into a power source.

The other is this concept that Nate mentioned above - that everything we believe is real is actually a programmed virtual world.. I could go on about this for several thousands of words. I’m not going that in-depth here.

Humans struggle with their existence, particularly the part about mortality. Many of us choose to believe in a higher power. Many choose to believe in nothing. We look down upon those that make a choice different that ours because we believe we KNOW what happens after we’re done here. Fact is, we don’t know, and we won’t know until we’re there.

I am Christian. It’s a choice. Sometimes I choose to be atheist. I do this to examine different perspectives (and to irritate people on purpose, which can be great fun). Sometimes I take the perspective that we’re all living in a simulation. It’s just another point of view and it also can be great fun. (Note that none of these are amusing if everyone is so serious about them.)

About the simulation... What happened to all of the sea monsters? I’m not talking about Loch Ness. I’m talking about the countless drawings of sea serpents men did years ago while they were witnessing these creatures. We easily dismiss them as drunks, or having spent too much time staring as ocean waves. Perhaps they were only trying to cause a sensation or mis-identified a sperm whale carcass.

Those people were ignorant. They didn’t have the science we do. We write them off when it could just be as easy that the inventors of our world decided that they’d remove the sea monsters from our reality.

Keep in mind the same will happen to us. It’s guaranteed. Here we are, all 2019, king shits, patting ourselves on the back about our technology and how “woke” we are to the world around us. A century from now our ancestors will look back and laugh at our idiotic proclamation of black holes and how little we understood about our own bodies, particularly our brains. Perhaps they’ll be aghast at cities covered in air pollution because everyone insisted on their own cars.

The simulation concept allows for an easier understanding of humans. We hear stories of how idiotic people can be. Think of “Florida Man”, or when Karen is checking out groceries at Target and she insists on getting a manager because she’s sure the cheese sticks are $3.99 and not $4.99, irritating everyone around her who just wants to go on with their day.

Perhaps these humans aren’t dumb nor selfish. Perhaps they are just programmed that way. The creators put them in these situations to laugh at how we respond to them.

The Matrix is still fun to watch. It’s just an incredibly fun movie with guns, explosions, and flying martial arts scenes. Keanu Reeves is absolutely wonderful, even though it’s is about as cheesy as you can get everything works.

Patrick: This is an epic tale of enlightenment and choice that has be re-imaged and packaged into a modern setting for today’s audiences. The fact that it takes place in the future to push the narrative is only a plot device. The ideas and situations are a conglomerate of a multitude of past works such as Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, and 1984 among others.

You have your main protagonist going about his daily life. Mixing throughout the populous along with other like him. However, he is starting to doubt what is real and right and searches for answers. Of course, supplements are involved that either implements or suppresses the reality around him. Make him either aware or unaware of what is truly reality and truth. Something many of us do today in our real lives.

At one point he eventually sees the light and fights against the oppression that is taking advantage of the masses on a grotesque level. Right and wrong along with truth and falsehoods come to and head in the end. Making the watcher wonder if taking one route is going to give you true happiness or breaking away from the pack and following his own intuition the way to lead to to a more fruitful existence.

Beside the philosophical discussions the fight scenes were beautifully choreographed. The acting was a bit stiff at times but fit the narrative well. Casting was about spot on for each role with Christina Bale the perfect fit for the lead.

Wait, we were supposed to watch The Matrix? Crap, I watched Equilibrium. Maybe next week I will get this right.

Evan W: I don’t know about the others, but this series is a really cool opportunity for me because I haven't seen a lot of movies that we picked from 1999 until like 2006. My parents didn’t really like going to the movies, which I can understand because it can get expensive. Plus, my parents (which is completely reasonable) didn’t want a six year-old watching a movie rated PG-13 or R. I always loved going to the movies as a kid, and it’s still one of my favorite pastimes. Since I was only six months old at the time The Matrix released, I never saw it in theaters. In fact, this was the first time I have seen the movie. It’s a movie I’ve heard about time and time again, but I never got around to watching it. It definitely lived up to what I’ve heard about it.

I’m not a huge philosophy guy, so at the beginning of the movie I thought it was going down that route. For me, it was great to see the movie skew more towards the Sci-Fi genre instead of trying to make me overthink. When I watch a movie, at least most of the time, I’m watching it to relax and to enjoy, not overthink it to the point my brain explodes.

My favorite genre of movies are comedy and action. While there was no comedy in this movie, the action scenes were awesome for the technology back in 1999. I did think some of the hand-to-hand combat scenes were a little weak. The headbutts kind of looked like two people going in too fast and hitting their foreheads. Other than that I have no complaints. The bullet trails looked awesome, and I don’t really care that it looked like a poor mans CGI. Again, for the time this movie was released it was graphically stunning. Keanu Reeves was yet again amazing.

Just so you know Nate, Zach and I met up with Jon after the spring game this year. Everything he talked about in his review is what he was saying when we had dinner. While a lot of it seemed like he was just pulling it out of a place I hope no one has ever seen, it was interesting to listen to.