The Matrix has universal appeal and for obvious reasons. The special effects, action, dime store philosophy, and mild S&M costumes makes it a favorite amongst gamers, sci-fi geeks, action movie fans, and suedo-intellectuals. Oh and don't forget anyone who's dabbled in hallucinogens at least once. Of course I would never do something like that.
The film's huge success sparked a new interest in sci-fi. Ironically it starred Keanu Reeves who's previous sci-fi flick, the horrendous Johnny Mnemonic, almost killed any fanfare associated with the genre.
The main problem I have with this film, which claims to have numerous philosophical and religious analogies, is that the violence in it was a little too much even for my tastes. In one of it's most famous scenes Neo and Trinity decide to storm a building and kill a bunch of security guards. What the security guards did to them or anyone I don't know, but they needed to die and the audience was supposed to revel in it. Granted the scene looks really good and most people didn't even give a second thought as to why the duo with all their powers could have whisked their way into the building to the place they needed to go without leaving behind a senseless death toll.
That's the power of The Matrix. Visually it's so impressive that everyone ignores it's numerous flaws and enjoys the mindless action piece that it is. The cult of Neo was born and everyone discussed the deeper meanings they attribute to the taking of the red pill. It's truly an example of powerful cinema. The visuals in the film, as well as the cool concept, are stunning enough to make you look past the atrocious acting and banal dialogue. It looks so good guys kept trying to convince me that Trinity is hot. That's something I still don't get.
You're probably thinking I'm an idiot for missing some hokey dialogue sequence that explains the importance of killing innocent civilians for the purpose of Neo's mission, but please spare me that bullshit.
I've never considered the film to be all that bad, but after viewing it's two terrible sequels one would easily consider The Matrix to be a cinematic masterpiece.
The Matrix scene I was referring to:
"It's astonishing that so much money, talent, technical expertise and visual imagination can be put in the service of something so stupid." - Bob Graham