This week, Neil Calloway argues against a return for The Matrix…
So, we’re getting another load of Matrix films. Or we will be if Warner Bros get their way. It would be easy just to throw my hands up in the air and go “Oh, I’m sick of reboots, can’t we have something original?” but just because it would be easy doesn’t mean it’s not true, and it doesn’t mean I’m not going to do it.
Luke Owen offered a robust defence of re-heating the series, and he almost convinced me. Here’s my main problem with it; The Matrix isn’t very good. It’s innovative use of bullet time effects aside, there’s not much there; it’s for people who didn’t manage to get to the end of the chapter on René Descartes in their Introduction to Philosophy textbook, or sad conspiracy theorists who like to think they’re Morpheus while the rest of us swallowed the blue pill. The fact that a character called Neo turns out to be “the one” is pretty clunky writing; frankly it’s up there with Unobtanium being the mineral everyone is after in Avatar (another movie we can do without more instalments of).
Let’s be honest, when was the last time you watched The Matrix? It’s very of its time; diverting then, but dated now. Given that it’s less than twenty years old, that’s saying something. Nothing dates like the future, and the future and visual effects make a very bad combination. When did you last sit in the pub with your mates talking about films and one of you say “I’d really like to see another Matrix movie.”? It hasn’t happened. It’s not like a great franchise that dates back 80 years, like Superman or Batman; there isn’t that much mythology to explore, there is no Matrix expanded universe to mine like the Star Wars prequels, sequels and sidequels.
A remake of The Matrix is not about bringing new stories for people to enjoy, it’s about the studio being able to save money on marketing because it’s a known entity. You don’t have to set out in detail what the film is about; name recognition plays a big part. Sod the interesting, original movie, let’s just bolt together something from the archive on the production line.
The Matrix is not the only recent franchise getting brought back to life. Stieg Larsson’s Millennium novels are being developed again for adaptation, with The Girl in the Spider’s Web (actually a continuation novel written by David Lagercrantz after Larsson’s death) getting the a big screen treatment. Never mind that the series is only twelve years old, and we’ve already had four films made from the books – the original Swedish movies, which gave the world Noomi Rapace, and the American version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. This slightly differs to rebooting The Matrix because I’d wager it’s more about getting a film into production so the studio don’t lose the rights, but come on, it’s a bit desperate and sad to see them cranking out another movie when there are already four in recent memory.
If I was a young film-maker trying to produce original work, I’d be very depressed right now.
Neil Calloway is a pub quiz extraordinaire and Top Gun obsessive. Check back here every Sunday for future instalments.