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Monday, January 24, 2011

The Matrix Reloading?

News from Sundance straight from Keanu Reeves' mouth is that The Wachowski Brothers are planning two more sequels to The Matrix.  Opinions have already run rampant about whether or not this is a good idea or why anyone needs more Matrix movies, especially after the lukewarm reception the Matrix sequels received in 2003.

The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions were good movies the public pretty much rejected. I'd say there were a few factors that caused this.

The Matrix was a phenomenon in 1999. I was in film school when it came out and it's all everyone talked about. DVD was a new fangled invention then and we stayed up all night more than once going through the Matrix DVD. Many philosophical conversations took place over the influences, deeper meanings, potential of the Matrix and its universe. And not just with film geeks - The Matrix spawned books on philosophy, there were essays and theses and papers written about The Matrix, etc. When the inevitable sequels and trilogy were announced, plenty of opinions and desires existed about What Would Come Next and Where The Story Should ("should" being the operative word here) Go.

And nearly all of that was in direct conflict with what The Wachowski Brothers (or Brother and Sister, as they now are) were actually up to with Reloaded and Revolutions. This is one of those cases where the filmmakers just did not jive with the audience. I mean, I liked Reloaded, I liked it more than Revolutions, ultimately. I did like the trilogy as a whole. There were certainly a ton of problems, but I thought overall, the story the Wachowskis told worked.

But I can pinpoint exactly where the Fork in the Road happened between the audience and the Wachowskis:

At the end of The Matrix, Neo makes a call from a payphone threatening the mainframe. He's Superman now. He's at full power as The One. He tells The Matrix he's coming for them and flies into the air.

Less than fifteen minutes into Reloaded, after Trinity opens the movie blowing up the office building and poses with her vinyl-clad ass to the screen, Neo wakes up and says, "I wish I knew what I was supposed to do."

What? Did Neo not see the end of the previous movie? He knew exactly what he was supposed to do. He was going to kick some Matrix ass. But apparently in the three years between movies, he plum forgot! Then we find out he doesn't want to be a Messiah, then we get to Zion and everyone rejected the rave and the idea of all of the minorities (gasp!) being the last humans at the center of the Earth, and then we found out the boring ass ruling council of Zion thinks Morpheus is crazy and doesn't take him seriously. Then Jada Pinkett-Smith shows up but does nothing at all and blah and blah and blah and blah. The list goes on and on of what the audience rejected.

And that's even before the Train Man shows up in Revolutions and we get no answers about the nature of the Merovingian, etc.

In general, the audience just didn't buy this story. It wasn't what we were promised at the end of The Matrix

Now, I think people will certainly show up for more Matrix movies if they make them, if they look cool, but if those movies materialize, it'll be ten years since Reloaded and Revolutions. Expectations are low for more Matrix. That might actually work for the Wachowskis if these sequels do happen.

But they won't.