Sunday, December 26, 2021

The Matrix Resurrections

The Matrix Resurrections is not as innovative nor original as the first film.  Not even close, but it is passable entertainment.  Mostly.  The beginning is too slow, but once it gets going, the action is entertaining but repetitive with what we have already seen. Fortunately, the film throws around a few new ideas, which was just enough to make me glad that I saw it.

The initial part follows a resurrected Neo as the creator of the video game trilogy called "The Matrix". He is having breaks with "reality" where he thinks that The Matrix is something real that he has experienced before. The movie is so "self-aware" that it borders on self-parody.  Also, a seemingly compassionate psychiatrist, played brilliantly by Neil Patrick Harris, is trying to keep Neo suppressed, which is an overdone concept in movies and TV shows.  Total Recall comes to mind.

Then Neo is rescued, and the film starts to feel like a retread.  It is always echoing past scenes while giving us new wrinkles on the story.

We get new likable characters, but the movie falters by recasting Morpheus and Agent Smith.  Not having Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving is a serious loss.  I went along with this change, but I looked at these new actors as if they were playing new characters.  

It is difficult to accept the rules of the Matrix.  We are talking about a virtual reality world where people can't disconnect without dying.  They have to find an "exit".  They also die if they get killed in the matrix.  These rules make no sense logically, but the first film successfully sold these ideas by having the characters really believe it and by having a strong sense of style.  Therefore the matrix exists in a universe with its own rules.  However, the new movie does nothing to re-establish the rules and is also deficient in the style department.

It is also difficult to understand the motivations and the limitations of the matrix itself.  It resurrects Neo and Trinity, but it can't control events once they get started.  It is forced to play by its own rules, but you would think that a computer simulation could do almost anything.

That is because the movies aren't about a computer simulation.  They never were.  They are about rebelling against the power structure that is presumably keeping everyone suppressed.

I feel the same way about this film that I did about the 2001 version of The Planet of the Apes.  I was entertained, but the movie was so insubstantial that ten years later nobody remembered it. 

Most people are going to look at this film as a failure compared to the original.  I feel that it deserves a "B" for entertainment value, but it is at best a half-hearted effort.  It is only slightly better than what a made-for-TV adaption would be.

Rating:  B-.

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