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Thread: Every Wachowski Sisters Movie Ranked Worst To Best

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    Every Wachowski Sisters Movie Ranked Worst To Best


    Directors Lilly and Lana Wachowski have had some of the boldest ideas in Hollywood, which have translated into the quality of their movies - but which movie was the best? Over the course of close to 25 years, the Wachowskis have helped reshape the very face of modern blockbuster cinema. It's easy to forget just how big a deal 1999's The Matrix was when it blazed onto screens worldwide and rewrote the handbook on what modern science-fiction and action cinema could look like. With its potent blend of classic sci-fi literature, philosophical tracts, Hong Kong kung-fu movies, and fetish, The Matrix felt like a much-needed shot in the arm for Hollywood.

    Lilly and Lana Wachowskiís presence in Hollywood remains deeply radical. The pair stand tall as two of the most prominent trans women in entertainment history and the influence of their work on queer cinematic theory has yet to be fully explored. Aside from that, itís safe to say that nobody is making work in film and TV right now as challenging, ambitious, and wholly bonkers as the Wachowski sisters. Who else would get Sense8, a mind-bending and deeply sexual sci-fi romance centered on the politics of gender and identity, onto Netflix at a time when the streaming service was still so new to original content? They, along with German director Tom Tykwer, saw David Mitchell's seemingly unadaptable novel Cloud Atlas and decided it would be a walk in the park. Even when their output inspires jokes or critical derision - and it often does - it's a true delight to see what the Wachowskis have to offer.

    Right now, the pair are working separately on very different projects. Lilly is a writer and executive producer on Showtime's Work in Progress while Lana is directing The Matrix 4, which sees the return of Keanu Reeves as Neo. Even apart, the Wachowskis show how wide-ranging their skills and interests are, and that's something we certainly need more of in the industry. To celebrate that, weíre looking at the seven movies directed by the Wachowski sisters and ranking them from worst to best. This list does not include their television work, producer efforts, or contributions to video games.

    7. The Matrix Revolutions


    It's oft-forgotten that both sequels to The Matrix were released in 2003 within six months of one another. It was a short enough window of time to ensure that audiences hadnít grown cynical of the franchise, even with the second installment seeing a dramatic drop in quality from its predecessor. The climax, The Matrix Revolutions, only exacerbated those problems. You can never claim that the Wachowskis don't aim high with their thematic intent, but intent does not instantly equal reality, and The Matrix Revolutions' philosophical tracts become borderline insufferable by the end. The movie ends up crushed by the sheer weight of its plotting and concept. All that build-up and the long-awaited ending feels under-cooked and painfully anti-climactic. Few series have the startling drop in quality between movies quite like The Matrix.

    6. The Matrix Reloaded


    Cohesion has never been the strongest suit of the Wachowskis but that often doesnít matter when their visual and emotional roots go so deep with these excitingly original tales. The Matrix Reloaded isnít the disheartening mess that its sequel was but you can see the wheels coming off the vehicle by this point. It's refreshing to see a blockbuster on this scale that's intended for mainstream audiences taking its portentous themes seriously but so often the expository dialogue feels like homework. The action scenes are still exhilarating, especially a freeway chase that stands up there as one of the peaks in the directors' filmography. These movies delight in getting viewers to think, so itís obviously disappointing that The Matrix Reloaded works best when you leave your brain at the door.

    5. Jupiter Ascending


    Jupiter Ascending is one of those truly fascinating disasters that is simultaneously terrible and kind of brilliant. So, essentially, it's Peak Wachowski. This space opera tale of a normal woman who discovers she is the true owner of Earth and becomes embroiled in an intergalactic battle is preposterous in the best ways possible. Even simply explaining basic plot beats feels like a dream (Sean Bean is a half-bee and Channing Tatum is a dog-man soldier; not to mention Terry Gilliam stars in this). It may be a structural mess, too weighed down by its need to include every idea the directors have ever had, but for the right person, there is method to this madness. Jupiter Ascending is a rare original sci-fi movie that is wholeheartedly feminine in its vision and aesthetic, a lush camp frenzy that feels like a teenage girl's poster-covered bedroom wall. Thereís nothing else like it in film. That will either delight you or prove deeply aggravating: There is no in-between.

    4. Cloud Atlas


    Itís a minor miracle that a cinematic adaptation of Cloud Atlas even exists. David Mitchellís award-winning novel (which was a surprise success with readers given its ambition and oft-impenetrable nature) is a sprawling combination of characters, styles, and themes, stacked together like matryoshka dolls. The story jumps from dystopian sci-fi to wacky comedy to historical romance and much more, posing questions about reincarnation and the unchanging qualities of human nature. Where do you even begin with such a tale? For the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer (Perfume, Run Lola Run), the first step was to commit to a more mosaic take on the multiple narratives and the use of extensive make-up and effects to allow an ensemble of familiar faces to play the many roles.

    Viewers cannot fault the movie for its commitment to the exhaustive scale of the novel. At close to three hours long, Cloud Atlas crams in as much of the book as it can and allows actors like Halle Berry, Tom Hanks, and Hugh Grant to do the kind of work that they're never usually offered. The incredible highs of the film - such as Doona Bae's performance and the story of Robert Frobisher, played by Ben Whishaw - are offset by some undeniable clangers, like the sigh of Hugh Grant as a cannibal warlord or the yellowface prosthetics. Its failures are noble but failures all the same. Still, it is immensely engaging, all things considered, and a pure cinematic leap of faith that one cannot help but admire.

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    3. Speed Racer


    Upon release, the Wachowskis' adaptation of the popular manga/anime series Speed Racer was deemed a critical and commercial flop (it only grossed $93 million worldwide on a $120 million budget). The general consensus among critics was that it was too overladen with sound and fury without the heart to match, but time has been far kinder to the movie. It's frenetic and furiously entertaining, part real-life cartoon and part Andy Warhol piece.

    It may not be especially cohesive in pure narrative terms, but that's really not the point: Speed Racer wants to capture the dizzying energy of its source material and it does that with mountains of enthusiasm. The movie feels all the more necessary now, after audiences spent years dealing with the increasing realism of blockbuster cinema that prioritized grit over vibrancy. Speed Racer, by contrast, is an unabashedly fake-looking wild ride of visual pleasure. To this day, it also remains one of the few truly great Hollywood adaptations of an anime, a subgenre that the industry has spectacularly failed at for many years now.

    2. Bound


    Before they became sci-fi filmmakers, the Wachowskis made their directorial debut with a sleek and immensely sexy film-noir inspired by the likes of Raymond Chandler and James M. Cain. Jennifer Tilly plays a gangster's moll who enters an affair with an ex-con played by Gina Gershon and joins up with her to fleece her boyfriend out of $2 million. Imagine if Double Indemnity was extremely violent and proudly queer and you're halfway there.

    Bound wears its classic Hollywood influences proudly on its sleeve - from John Huston to Frank Miller - but it succeeds by subverting those well-worn genre norms. There's startling cruelty to the film but also a radical empathy for its heroines, who are prickly and often amoral but extremely charming. The sex scenes and fully-formed romantic relationship between Tilly and Gershon remain one of the best lesbian romances in a mainstream American movie.

    1. The Matrix


    Over two decades later, the magic of The Matrix is still as compelling as ever. No matter how bad the sequels got or how many times it was ripped off by inferior efforts, that first movie has retained all of its power. Even if you put aside the influence of the film, as an independent entity, The Matrix is startling in its scale, mood, and energy. Mixing together the work of William Gibson with post-war pulp sci-fi and new age spirituality, the story's depths are evenly matched by its spectacle. Long before John Wick, Keanu Reeves cemented his status as an action hero, bringing aloof wonder to the role of Neo. Hugo Weaving's turn as the villain is a perfect mixture of unnerving and kooky. On top of all that, The Matrix is just incredibly cool in a way that is tough to replicate. Hollywood may never pay off the insurmountable debt it owes Lilly and Lana Wachowski for changing the medium as thoroughly and passionately as they did.


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