The Matrix is certainly a strange motion picture, with a mind-bending plot and a concept that is quite original considering there hasn’t been a movie like this in years. Interestingly enough, the audience reception was far more positive than most science fiction movies today, and critics praised this movie for an original concept that would spawn a whole slew of ideas for books, games, and TV shows. Making nearly $500 million as of today, the story takes place in the head of people’s minds. Apparently our lives are actually a simulation known as the Matrix, and the reason is so the robot beings that apparently “control us” can feast on our energy when we “die” in our simulation. This strange concept is very unique and, although the movie was very weird and made absolutely no sense the first time I saw it, the movie should be praised and looked upon as an influence for movies in the future.
Don Davis, the composer for this masterpiece, made his name through these scores, so it is interesting to look at this score as the beginning of his major career. At the time, he had scores mostly low-budget films that went nowhere in the industry. Davis however has turned to TV before to score some shows, and those scores are his most prized possessions, especially his score for Space Odyssey, a TV shows that would go virtually nowhere but still had an incredible score.
Speaking of scores, his score for The Matrix is very interesting. The idea of this score in context is very cheesy, but as a listening experience, there are so many emotions and it is very hard not to love it. “Welcome To The Real World” is an odd example of this strange scoring method. The female vocalist here is a very ambiguous effect on this part of the film, especially when those distant “BOOM”s occur. However the sound is so different from most scoring that it stands out immediately.
“The Hotel Ambush” is another odd cue that has a weird set of different sounds, for it almost sounds Spanish at the beginning, and then turns into this huge suspense cue that is extremely French Horn and percussion heavy. The string arpeggios are a cool addition that makes a cool atmosphere to fill in the empty spaces. With the film it justifies those tense, non-chasing, moments, a very rare occasion in this movie. The strange ambiance fits to create tension, as well as the other strange atmospheric sounds we get in this score.
The most thought-provoking cue in this whole score has to be the final cue, “Anything Is Possible”. Davis’s approach to the ending of this movie is unique to say the least. The movie ends with action material, and his music is superb in context with this scene. The harp arpeggios add an incredible sound to give a full chord-like cue. Davis certainly closes off his score with a boom, with cymbals and brass all over the place. Quite a surprising finish.
The Matrix is an extremely strange score to go with an extremely strange movie. This scores seems like a hit or a miss with a lot of people, and ultimately I am stuck with my decision. There are many elements I like, but others that I don’t, with the tensions shrieks being one of them. The expanded edition shows a much more intelligent approach to this score, but still it lacks some of the character that could have been so good with this kind of movie. However, Davis sets himself up for a nice sequel that would be just as good, if not better, than this strange approach to a science fiction movie.
Music As Written For The Film: 4/5
Music As Heard On The Albums: 3/5