Before I start this review I first want to put out a warning that spoilers are possible during this read but I also wanted to make a side note that this film review is the first ever on Musik Mirage however I want to add a disclaimer that I feel it is important that I be as honest as possible of my true thoughts of the experience regardless of it being the inaugural film review article for this publication. I recently went to see the Matrix 4 or The Matrix Resurrections in theater and to preface this review I consider my self a slightly above average “The Matrix” series fan as I have seen all four movies in theater and even still go back and watch the first three once and a while when it drums up interest in my mind. I am even a big fan of The Animatrix which is a movie made up of numerous small stories that fill in gaps in the story line and provides the account of what occurred in history between man and machine from our current day that we live in to when the original Matrix takes place. That should really put things in perspective while reading this review where I will examine what I liked and mostly what I didn’t like about The Matrix Resurrections. The film has been out for well over a week now and doing a simple Google search on this movie will yield tons of negative reviews and very few positive ones so I am going to try to make as many new points as possible rather then just running through the same criticisms that have made already by other reviewers.
To start I would like to talk about some positive aspects that I took note of such as the great eye candy being the CGI special effects when Neo was in the real world as this was something I was generally curious about going into the theater. There has been about 20 years since the previous film so its safe to say that computer animation has improved since 2003 so machine power plant and sentinels looked a lot better in Matrix Resurrections no doubt. It’s safe to say that the portion of the film that I liked the most was when Neo and the others traveled to the new human underground city “IO” in the hovercraft ships in the surrounding tunnels as it triggered some nostalgia as it made a connection with my memories to the previous movies. The new safe harbor underground city for the humans is called IO as the old city Zion has been abandon long before this film takes place which is explained by Niobe still played by Jada Pinket-Smith again but has significant makeup to add 60 years of aging as the story lets us know that it has been much longer then 20 years since we last saw Neo in the Matrix Revolutions. The extended passage of time between movies also serves as an explanation to why almost none of the previous characters are in this film such as the original Morpheus who we can assumed died of old age but his death is not fulled explained.Long before this movie ever came out one thing I expected was that if we were ever to see Keanu Reeves return and reprise his role of Neo, the back story would most likely have the machines return him to the power plant after his fight with Agent Smith and put him back in to the matrix and revive him some how in the process. It seems my prediction was accurate for this film except they also did the same with Trinity(Carrie-Anne Moss) which was initially unexpected but it eventually made sense once I saw the story play out. One other aspect of the Matrix series that I missed from the previous films was the filming style and color grading as in the previous movies all the footage from inside the dream world had a tinge of green applied to it which gave the series its own unique look. The original coloring was a contrast to the real world shots which where very dull and grey taking place underground and in steel hovercrafts, I found the Matrix Resurrections was to colorful and vibrant compared to what fans would expect from the series. The director Lana Wachowski, seemed to rely on close ups and small enclosed environments and although the quality of footage was high and obviously digital, optically it had the look of a TV show and not a motion picture.
One major story element that I felt was missing from The Matrix Resurrections was the feeling of danger and urgency as in the first three films multiple characters meet their demise on screen and by the end of The Matrix 3 pretty much all of the hover craft fleet and most of Zion is left totally destroyed. In this new story there was absolutely no danger as the heroes seem to be able to enter and leave the matrix with out ever losing a crew member and they were also able to walk right into the machine power plant and take the heavily guarded Neo and Trinity out with out incident. I felt like the writers tried to add in different ideas from other popular movie franchises for example the new hover craft crew use friendly machines to assist them which reminded me of the droids from Star Wars films. One major damaging plot point change was the removal of agents as it is explained that any normal citizen in the Matrix can be turned into an agent like bot now and in the movie they demonstrate this by having the eyes turn into an evil green letter coding effect. At one point during the final act the entire city turns into the evil bots which in turn chase Neo and Trinity like hoards of zombie like creatures which once again had me questioning if I was a Matrix film or something else.I think it was an unwise decision to remove the Agent characters from this movie as they served as proper villain antagonists and although they did keep the Agent Smith character in the story he was played by a new actor and turned out to be ally of Neo by the film’s end. I actually thought the casting made a good choice by replacing Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus with Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as it would have been unrealistic that he would have still been alive over 60 years later but I thought the way the writers kept this character in the story in some form was a bit convoluted and stretched. One surprising return was the character of the Merovingian(and the exiles) who first showed up in the Matrix: Reloaded who was actually played by Lambert Wilson who reprises his role in the movie. This turned out to be nostalgic fan service however as his appearance was short lived and served to real purpose in the story other then a short fight scene.To wrap this review up I think less could have been more for this picture, I think the writers tried to get overly detailed and complex with this story possibly to match the first Matrix film that successfully touched on a lot of philosophical ideas which really made people think when it came to the simulated reality question and also on themes of future advanced AI technology. It seemed as if the writers tried so hard to make changes and updates to the story that they accidentally killed the original atmosphere and vibe that was created by the original Matrix back in 1999 leaving this movie feeling like a comedic parody of the Matrix which reminded me a lot of what the new Star Wars films. To be fair, I don’t think its right to jump all over every change that was made in the story line from the previous three movies as its only natural that things change over time but I just think some of the changes are just not explained enough or elaborated on. Sadly, I wouldn’t expect to see any new Matrix films popping up anytime soon although the ending was set up for a 5th sequel but hearing the amount of negative reviews on the net right now I am pretty certain this is the last we see of this incarnation of Neo and Trinity. For me, I am going to forget about this movie and just pretend the series ended at The Matrix Revolutions back in 2003. If anything good came out of this movie I’d say that now at least we have finally answered the curious question of what The Matrix 4 would look like if it was made and now we know.
Written By Kyle McNeil(@MusikMirage)