Before I begin, I want to clarify that when I say "The Matrix" I mean "The Matrix" - the first movie. I have never seen and never intend to see the second and third movies. Try to only remember the first if you can. It'll help.
After having the movie Equilibrium highly suggested to me by Kim and Brady, I forked up the cash and rented it, with the greatest of expectations after hearing that it was "Better than The Matrix."
I have just finished watching it, and have to disagree - Equilibrium is not better than The Matrix. So sorry.
Here are some of my reasons:
1. It's been done.
While this is a pretty lame excuse and I don't really care in the long run, the basic plot behind Equilibrium has been done many times - this just looks better. For example, see 1984 or Fahrenheit 451. Intriguing and terrifying ideas and possibilities, but not new.
2. The Matrix looks better.
Once again: lame excuse. There were a few times in Equilibrium that tried too hard to be like The Matrix but not copy. For example, when Preston is fighting the Librian policemen so that the sense-offenders can get away, the scene is slowed down. Whereas the bullet-time of The Matrix is cool, the slow-motion beating just feels bogged down.
3. The Perceived Underlying Message
The Matrix has a strong, if subtle, Christian theme. Whether this was intentional or not, I don't know, but it goes beyond the last city of men being named Zion. I'm not one to dig this kind of stuff out of movies, but who couldn't notice that Neo is searching for the truth, has a rude awakening to how the world really is, is "in" the Matrix, but not "of" the Matrix, and eventually dies to conquer evil? I'm not entirely comfortable with the thought of Neo being an example of Christ, but that's another discussion.
Equilibrium, however, has quite a different view. To begin, Libria's insignia is a cross. Sure it looks like a swastika, but it's still a cross.
Second, Prozium is referred to as "the opiate of the masses" - Karl Marx's view of religion.
Third, and most blatant is the "Father". In Libria, the people are to follow Father's will with an unquestioning faith - dead to all enjoyment of life in the false security of obedience. A view of Christianity?
4. Personal Scruples
I didn't like Mary O'Brien and I didn't like the way Brandt died. It was gross.
In Equilibrium's defense, it had it's good points. For one, it was a little cleaner than The Matrix. Yet despite it's being a good movie and entertaining to watch, I cannot agree that it is better than The Matrix. However, you are free to think what you like about either of the movies. This isn't Libria, you know.