Whether it be as a reboot, a sequel, or even a prequel, Ella Alalade argues that The Matrix should remain untouched.
In 1999, we witnessed the birth of an amazing and original franchise known as The Matrix, which saw humanity living under, and fighting against, the machine. It is difficult to describe the first instalment as anything other than legendary: the film having since launched so many actors’ careers. However, recent news has suggested that the producer of the original Matrix, Joel Silver, has been in contact with Warner Brothers to extend The Matrix universe and, according to some sources, to even reboot it. This is a bad idea. Although this film would be an obvious financial success, it would simply tarnish the legacy of the franchise in my opinion (despite that the third movie not really making all that much sense).
The visual effects were outstanding, especially for the 90s, as they represented a new agenda of what it means to be wear nonchalant glasses, long leather coats, and fight against programs. To emulate what was a look very much of-the-time-period via the implementation of today’s much better CGI would remove a great deal of the film’s charm. The fashion of the long leather coats was an iconic style of this franchise and the late 1990s, with the new millennium on the rise. To carry on this fashion style would simply look tacky and may even ruin the plot of the film. The unique actions sequences are what also defined the Matrix. How can anyone forget Neo dodging and blocking bullets like a pro in the first film? That cannot be done again. Actions sequences in films have improved so much, with the tropes first introduced in the Matrix having since reached saturation point, that a reboot of the Matrix would end up looking more like a parody of the film than anything else.
More importantly, considering the ambiguity surrounding whether Keanu Reeves character died or not, what would the next film focus on if they were to extend the franchise? If they reintroduce his character, Neo, what could the plot possibly be? A continuation of the war between humans and machine with an introduction of a new character? I’m not too sure that will sell. Perhaps the ending of The Matrix Reloaded offered an open conclusion as to whether the war would continue, or if Neo would return. They should leave it at that. To extend that universe is to just be the Fast and Furious franchise. There will be repeat of the same plot in different settings which just becomes unnecessary. Furthermore, Reeves brought the character to life, in which we incidentally have Will Smith to thank for originally turning down this role in favour of starring in Wild, Wild West.
One should look to the Godfather trilogy for precedent, as The Godfather III lost its meaning due to the poor plot writing which made the film quite disengaging. The Matrix should take a long, hard look at that franchise as a model for how a franchise should not be unnecessarily extended, just because the first film was fantastic. The Matrix franchise should not be hailed as a masterpiece. The two sequels had slow plots and poorer narratives than the first instalment. The Wachowskis may not be able to direct this film again, so Warner Brothers may also have to hire a new director. This is not the best idea as their perspective of how the film plot would be will very different. There might even be a proposition to ‘reboot’ The Matrix, which follows a recent trend of films that some producers and fans were not happy about.
To remake the film would be to follow the same plot as the original. A reboot, however, woud involve changing the context entirely: introducing a new narrative and new characters to ensure that it captivates a new audience. This may work with other franchises but The Matrix can’t and simply won’t be able to survive a reboot. Why? The fans. I simply cannot perceive the fans accepting any alteration to what has become an unarguable cult classic.
X Men:X2 writer Zak Penn wrote on Twitter that ‘All I can say at this point is no one could or should REBOOT the Matrix. People who know Animatrix and the comics should understand’. He then went on to say ‘If I were going to recast Keanu Reeves, I would cast Keanu Reeves’. This is admittedly only one fan speaking, yet it does highlight the value the film holds to many.
The Matrix franchise is far from perfect, but its impact on cinema is nothing less than legendary. Therefore, I'm very much of the opinion that it should be left alone like other legendary films. Not for the producer – but for the fans. Yet, with the plans for a reboot reportedly already in motion, all one can do is really sit back and hope for the best.