The Matrix trilogy was a massive hit, although the sequels weren’t as well-received as the first movie. Regardless, the cult fandom surrounding the trilogy led to a larger franchise, assimilating animated short films, video games, and comic books, revealing the extent of the Matrix‘s cultural impact.
The latest addition to the franchise, The Matrix Resurrections, covers a rather similar storyline (except decades in the future). All in all, the fourth installment is as richly designed as its predecessors, but there are several elements that either surpass or fall behind the original trilogy.
10 Resurrections Is Better: The Video Game Premise Is Quite Fascinating
Ever since news about the sequel came out, fans wondered how Lana Wachowski was planning to breathe new life into a series that received proper closure. It seems that Neo is still alive because that’s what the machines want, although they help keep his true memories under check by blending them with artificial memories.
Neo is a world-famous game designer, a recluse, whose entire life revolves around the Matrix video game he develops (inside the actual Matrix). The concept isn’t radical, but’s sufficient to spark a whole new series of quests.
9 Resurrections Is Worse: Mediocre Fight Choreography & Generic Action
The original trilogy was favored by audiences for its masterful martial art choreography, drawing inspiration from sources as diverse as kung fu cinema and anime. Fight sequences involved weeks of detailed planning and flawless execution, but the end result paid off extremely well.
Unfortunately, the styles employed in The Matrix Resurrections reeks of generic Hollywood action, from abrupt editing to excessive CGI, making it considerably less impressive than its predecessors in this core aspect.
8 Resurrections Is Better: Super Bullet Time Is Clever, Even If Not Game-Changing
Bullet Time was a truly revolutionary addition to filmmaking—a format that was eventually adapted to other forms of media, like TV shows and video games. The impact of Bullet Time arguably extended beyond audience and critical appreciation, given that it practically became a cinematic buzzword.
The Matrix Resurrections incorporates a new and improved version, a process that requires enormous human power and a wealth of modern technology. The new Super Bullet Time slows everything down to a painful crawl, so much so that it takes minutes of exposition for an actual bullet to reach its destination. Clever, even if not game-changing.
7 Resurrections Is Worse: Nostalgic Reminiscences Turn Into Excessive Fan Service
One of the first things that audiences noticed about Resurrections was the sheer amount of screentime given to the first three movies. Snippets from the trilogy play back and forth, interspersed between and highlighted by the Resurrections narrative.
While adding a few instances of sentimentality wouldn’t be remiss, especially with such a devoted fandom, Resurrections takes the nostalgia far enough that it begins to feel like fan service.
6 Resurrections Is Better: Sensational Casting, Including Veteran Actors
Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Lambert Wilson are the only four OG cast members to reprise their characters in The Matrix Resurrections.
However, the new movie contains several fantastic actors, including Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Neil Patrick Harris, Jonathan Groff, Jessica Henwick, and Priyanka Chopra. In addition to these talented veterans, many brilliant actors from Sense8 (the Wachowskis’ sci-fi TV series) play important roles in Resurrections.
5 Resurrections Is Worse: Unwieldy Exposition Leaves Viewers Confused
Exposition was the flaw that turned Reloaded and Revolutions into diluted extensions of the first Matrix film: the sequels were a somewhat incoherent mixture of philosophy and battle scenery.
Resurrections fails to learn from the past, and delves so deep into discussion and commentary that it leaves viewers confused rather than satisfied. A few concepts are simple enough, but others could have used a lot more show and a lot less tell.
4 Resurrections Is Better: 21st Century Aesthetic (& No Green Tint)
The original trilogy was released between 1999 and 2003, and, therefore, bears the technological markers of that time period—flip phones and ancient computing consoles being the most frequently observed elements.
In comparison, Resurrections is set around 2020, reflecting the current era’s technological and cultural dispositions. Characters use smartphones, wear hipster clothing, and generally behave more independently than their predecessors. Most importantly, Resurrections does away with the notorious green tint.
3 Resurrections Is Worse: Unnecessary References & Distracting Meta Comedy
Heavy-handed allusions to Warner Bros. and the dominating reboot culture pervading Hollywood would have worked in any other movie, but they fail miserably in the fourth installment of an already fine-tuned franchise.
Jokes and punchlines that refer to real-life opinions about the Matrix trilogy rarely land, from “trans-politics” and “crypto-fascism” to “capitalist exploitation.” Resurrections intentionally frames itself around the meta-comical style popularized by a certain superhero mega-franchise, leaving no room for the story to breathe.
2 Resurrections Is Better: Agent Smith Is Back
Agent Smith is the yang to Neo’s yin—fragments of light and darkness locked in an eternal battle. At least until Neo realizes that the only way to truly destroy Smith would be an act of self-sacrifice. They both die together, but are later resurrected together by the Analysts’ machinations.
The Matrix without Agent Smith seems incomplete, contradictory even, considering the overwhelming influence of Hugo Weaving’s antagonist. Jonathan Groff has gigantic shoes to fill, but he manages to become a rather credible Smith.
1 Resurrections Is Worse: Agent Smith Is Back (Again)
Although Jonathan Groff’s depiction of Agent Smith is refreshingly unique, the fact that the creators forced an older villain back into the plot suggests a lack of preparation.
Granted that devising new character arcs for the Matrix isn’t all that easy, but reworking the same antagonist makes Smith little more than a collectible, a piece of memorabilia for the fandom to clutch on to. Smith anchors Resurrections to the good old days of good vs. evil, which indirectly prevents the movie from spreading its narrative wings.
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