This may be a topic from out of the blue but it was just some something which popped into my head while I was browsing through YouTube. I ran across a trailer for The Matrix Resurrections, the latest entry to the Matrix movies. I vaguely remember the film being announced! I knew it was a big deal how a new Matrix movie was in development and how they got Keaunu Reeves and Carrie-Ann Moss back. My memory is also a bit hazy with the controversy about how and why it was being made because it only had one of the Wachowski siblings working on it and why did it take so long to make a new entry. This was big news in the geek community and I had it basically wiped from my memory.
It was then I realized why I kind of forgot there was even a Matrix Resurrections film. It’s because, in essence, I don’t really like the Matrix movies. It’s not like I hate them and it’s not like I didn’t watch them growing up. I even rewatched the entire Trilogy when I was in my teens. It’s more like I’m very indifferent towards them. Oh, there’s a new Matrix movie? Meh.
That did get me thinking why is that? The original Matrix films were a super big deal. As a kid, I remember all the hype behind it and how revolutionary it all was. I can’t deny how its impact on modern cinema and movie making as a whole. Bullet time was cutting edge and the idea that we are all living in a simulation was a unique perspective to view life. The action is also pretty good as well. I know all of that, yet I still don’t really care for the Matrix franchise. So, I did a little soul searching (and painfully rewatching all three of the original Matrix movies) and I figured out some of the reasons why that may be.
First off, the writing can be really, really bad. Some of the dialogue can be outright terrible, in fact. When they tackle the more philosophical aspects of like, like when the Oracle talking about if she can predict the future or would things work out the way they did if she hadn’t mentioned her precognitive visions in the first place. Those can be wonderful thought experiments to ponder.
Most of the time, however, it’s just a lot of rambling exposition about how the world or, more specifically, how the Matrix world works. This is a classic case of “telling and not showing,” which can work if the story being told is done in an effective manner. The one telling the story is given time to give details and add some emotional inflections to make it feel important and allows the viewers to imagine it in their minds. The Matrix movies never do this correctly.
This rears its ugly head when it reaches Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions, well, I hope you’re ready to listen to a whole lot of things being explained to you, because you’re going to need it to get a cursory understanding of what’s even remotely happening! There’s always a whole lot of talking in an attempt to set up the stakes. In Reloaded, you have Neo and friends return to Zion and it’s revealed the Machines are going to invade it in 72 hours. No scene showing how the people of Zion got this information. They just know. The worst indication of just pure exposition is during the ending when the Architect explains why he created the Matrix and what he wants Neo to do. This is the crux of the entire series but they Wachowski siblings thought it was a good idea to condense everything to a 6-minute dialog and have all the Architect speak in a speedy montone voice. Hope you got your subtitles turned on because that’s the only way I actually understood what he was saying! I get he’s supposed to be mimicking a machine but slow down!
This doesn’t really matter at times because the Wachowski siblings don’t bother explaining things that do happen! In Reloaded, you have this entire thing where Neo and the group have to get in contact with the Keymaker. The Keymaker is being imprisoned by a rogue program named the Merovingian. Why? Never mind why! They just need to find the Keymaker! Agent Smith now has the ability to clone himself after his loss to Neo in the first film. How did he get this ability? Who cares! Let’s just have Agent Smith duplicate him infinitely so he can fight Neo! That’ll be so cool!
I also have a pet peeve with the main character, Neo. I honestly can’t think of anyone portraying Neo other than Keanu Reeves at this point so I have no issue with the acting. My problem is the entire “chosen one” trope. This means Neo was already destined to be powerful and didn’t really have to struggle to earn the title. You may say he only became The One because he believed in himself. However, this notion is immediately nixed when Trinity explains how the Oracle said she would fall in love with The One. So, since she did fall in love with Neo, that means he had no choice but to become The One. It’s hard for me to get invested in a person’s journey when it’s already predestined he’ll be great.
It doesn’t help that, including Neo, every human character is extremely one-dimensional. For the life of me, I cannot tell you what their personalities are. Neo’s personality is… he’s The One? Trinity’s personality is… she loves Neo? Morpheus’ personality is… he believes Neo is The One? On the flipside, it’s the “machine” characters that have the most personality! The Oracle is bright and cheery. The Architect is droll and smug. Even Agent Smith, the big baddie of the series, has more expressions than any of the human characters! That’s just weird!
We now go to the biggest reason why I don’t care for The Matrix movies and it’s how it takes itself too seriously. The first movie was a whole lot of fun. It’s a neat story about how a nobody became a badass fighter who can do kung-fu. It took its time to establish the world and what can happen in this world, leading to fun and imaginative action. The sequels, Reloaded and Revolutions, didn’t feel like it. The Wachowski siblings kept on trying to expand the world with Keymakers, Merovingian, rogue programs, Architects and the like. Did it really need all of this? No, it did not. They kept on trying to build on the mythology for no other reason because they wanted it to be deep and get people to think and examine every inch of their movie.
However, I do get why this happened. When the first Matrix was released, it did get a lot of people thinking and really dove into analyzing The Matrix for all it’s worth. There were freaking philosophy books examining the ideas of the Matrix. So I bet the Wachowski siblings decided to double and triple down on more abstract ideas instead of, I don’t know, focusing on the actual story! Did we really need this complicated backstory of the Megovorian being this rogue program who’s survived all the previous Matrix reboots? No. Could they have sprinkled hints about the Matrix true nature throughout the Matrix Reloaded’s 138-minute runtime instead of having the Architect condense everything in a 6-minute conversation with Neo? Yes. Did we really have to have Neo trying to ride a subway train during the start of the Matrix Revolutions? No.
Like I said, I don’t hate the Matrix movies. The action is top-notch and I do like the general atmosphere and aesthetic of everything. However, I can’t say I like them as well because the overarching story is just too convoluted and it isn’t even told in good way!
This leads me back to The Matrix Resurrections. I’ve seen the trailer and I will probably go give it a watch… eventually. Based on my experience with the previous Matrix movies, I’m in no rush to go see it.
What’s your opinion on the Matrix movies? Let me know in the comments section below!
2 thoughts on “Episode 479: Why I Don’t Care for the Matrix Franchise”
Hi there, from what I can remember (also growing up with some of the films) I didn’t really care about the characters and the expositional dialog bored the shite out of me and my mates (male, female, geeky, nerdy and hopeful) in the cinema. So yup!! Loved the first soundtrack though! 😎😲😴
I liked several of the set pieces in Reloaded. The fight with the Merovingian’s monsters is a highlight. I didn’t mind the Architect’s speech because (as you note) it’s appropriate to the character, even if I had no idea what he was saying until years later. His ultimatum was clear enough. But I hated, hated, hated the long, dull scene where our heroes flee the bad guys in the endless freeway chase. Ack. Revolutions did nothing for me, as they upped the ante on the long and dull action sequences. I saw Resurrections but without a Don Davis score I had a hard time caring about it.