The news has been circulating lately, and I’ve been mulling over it. A Matrix reboot or remake. Huh.
It seems definitely like – while remake might be what we would expect with everything Hollywood has been doing these days – reboot is the more likely route they will go. So not restarting the franchise, but simply dipping back into it. Here’s several articles on the news:
- The Matrix “Reboot” Apparently Not a Remake, a Distinction That Could Mean Great Things
I am unapologetic in the fact that I really like the Matrix trilogy. I think in part I felt a strong connection between the films and the Dune book series, and it felt like the Wachowskis trying to work their way through the themes of the books – much like I was doing myself at the time. I think it was with these films that I coined my often-used phrase, “Just Like Dune.”
But that means the films felt like, for lack of a better term, fandom to me. Fellow travelers in a Dune fandom. But somewhere along the line, I also picked up some Matrix aesthetic (I still love my long black coat), and in writing this post I now have “Mona Lisa Overdrive” stuck in my head – I absolutely loved the music.
The Matrix Reloaded is still one of my go-to pop-in-and-watch movies, though I typically start it roughly when they head back into the Matrix to find the Oracle, and often stop it before reaching the Architect. This skips some of the stronger like-Dune aspects but is just action and effects fun.
All of which is to say… returning to this world? Possibly without the Wachowskis? Disconnected from the plot and characters we know? How do you build a new movie in the Matrix universe? There are only a couple of really big reveals, and it seems like those are already covered. So let’s consider a few things.
One of the leading thoughts is that this ends up an anthology-style movie, which I suppose is the current way of saying that you’re telling a disconnected story set in the universe. Just how disconnected seems to be open to interpretation, with movies like Rogue One and the young Han Solo movie being considered anthologies, and while they’re not a numbered Star Wars episode, they certainly do fit in the overall timeline of the other movies. And as the articles I linked to above mentions Deadpool and Logan, it’s worth considering that those two films are both sort of anthology films, part of the overall franchise but not specifically tied to any specific point in the continuity. I mean, Deadpool even points this fact out.
Going broadly with these ways of looking at an anthology, the Matrix series already had anthologies at the time – the Animatrix most especially, but also things like the Enter the Matrix video game.
Oh, Enter the Matrix. I went to the game store to buy it, and the clerk literally told me that I shouldn’t buy it, and that they didn’t recommend buying bad games. They recommended renting it, and so I did from Blockbuster (back in those days!) so I only had it a few days. In that time, I did indeed beat the game. It was very short, and I’m glad that the game store employee saved my money!
Enter the Matrix followed captain Naomi and her crew, as they basically make their way through the plot of the Matrix Reloaded, only to get everywhere first before Neo makes it – and basically being told that things were waiting for the One, and not for them. So sure, you got to try out the video game equivalent of Matrix abilities (to be fair, that can also often just be called “playing a video game”), but the story pretty much felt like a ripoff. Of themselves. It was supposed to help connect the movies or something, but it failed.
The Animatrix, however, was a set of short films made by a variety of creators and set in the Matrix universe. They were of varying quality, and I don’t remember watching them much, but the idea and interest seems like it’s there: tell a story of the people living in this universe.
So maybe the template they can follow is to make a film kind of like the Animatrix, or like one tale from there. A tale of people who rejected an artificial reality, and who look for others like themselves. Who live like refugees on the one hand, and like superheroes on the other. However, the temptation to tell a story like what’s come before seems like it’s strong. The chances of a film being made of a failed One or of a previous One are high, and the chances of a film like that mirroring too many aspects from the original trilogy seem like a trap.
And it sounds like one such might just be what they’re going with…
The Morpheus Origin Story
Like the idea of the Han Solo solo film, where you go back and explore the origin of a fan favorite character, the idea of a Morpheus solo film has its appeal. I know I for one like Morpheus and Trinity, and their fight scenes, more than I like Neo and his.
Okay, a Han Solo film has its merits, with there being a lot we don’t know about the character, as well as lots of fun to be had with a caper or other scoundrel work… a Morpheus film has bigger problems in store. We know more about the character, about his past and his future. Which is to say, the story you would probably tell is of him at one point thinking he was working towards being the One, and instead finding out he would one day find the One.
That’s the sort of scene that would normally be late in a movie, I feel like, but we already know it. No secret. So instead, maybe it’s an early scene? Then you tell the story of him finding someone he thinks might be the One, defending and training them? But then they’re not. We know this. And does it just mirror the first film?
There’s probably stories to tell separate from all that baggage, and I hope they do. But it’s going to be easy to write themselves into a prequel that probably just won’t be that good. Things to watch out for!
Final Thoughts: What Constitutes Success?
One of the articles I shared above closed on this thought: does a scene like this need to be remade? Or does it still stand on its own merits?
I feel like the answer is that a lot of elements from the Matrix and its trilogy hold up. However, they also feel like things we’ve seen other places… which they are. The Wachowskis broke a lot of ground making these films, but a whole lot of films afterwards have taken from them. Bullet Time stands out as the most obvious.
I think that it’s easy to say that one thing that fans, critics, and anyone might expect from a return to the Matrix universe is excellent, and maybe even new, effects work and ideas. And I don’t feel like that’s going to be cheap to make. If this comes in as a high-budget film, what will it take for it to be a financial success? Will it keep an R rating like the films before it had, maybe trying to tap into that Deadpool and Logan audience and R-rated-success “trend?” Will it go PG-13 to draw in a bigger crowd? Will it be another domestic flop but international success, like many movies today? Will they push 3-D heavily, and is 3-D an excuse to make a new Matrix movie?
In short, can they make it good, as well as make it do well financially? I don’t know. I can do my small part – pretty sure I can say now I’ll see it. But time will tell as this project progresses!