FlixChatter Review: The Matrix Resurrections (2021)

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The Matrix was first released in Spring 1999, a year where Y2K aka the Millennium Bug, was quite a frenzy with all kinds of doomsday theories. Some thought it was the apocalypse because of a widespread computer flaw wrecking havoc as the year changed from 1999 to 2000. In many ways it was the perfect time to release a movie dealing with evil cyber-intelligence.

I remember going to the movies to see The Matrix and like many people was in awe of the action stunts and imaginative visual style that made me go ‘whoa.’ It was fresh and new at the time… the frozen, 360-degree camera angle as Trinity is kicking through the air, lobby shootout, gravity-defying Kung Fu, the bullet-time scene, etc., there were a bunch of innovative special effects that have now been copied countless times over.

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Grossing nearly half a billion dollars, the movie spanned two sequels: The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions released in 2003, which were shot back-to-back, along with video game Enter the Matrix. Confession: I had not seen any of the Matrix sequels. No particular reason, I just was never that interested in them and quickly forgot all about this franchise altogether. I didn’t even pay that much attention about this fourth movie, that is until the trailer was released which got me somewhat intrigued. Intrigued enough in fact that I posted an extensive trailer spotlight on it. The trailer spun ton of questions for me, well, I can’t say all of it were answered by the film itself.

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Twenty two years after the original movie, Keanu Reeves is back reprising his role as Thomas Anderson, aka Neo. He’s now a game developer who’s famous for a particular sci-fi video game called… yep, you guessed it, The Matrix, with characters who look and behave like those in the movie version. It’s all pretty meta which starts out pretty amusing. Thomas is a restless soul plagued with visions (or are they dreams or memories?)… whenever he visits the local cafe with his colleague, he keeps seeing a woman named Tiffany who reminds him of Trinity he sees in his dreams. Clearly he has trouble distinguishing between dreams vs reality and the movie makes us question it too, as Tiffany reveals Thomas that she’s aware that a female heroine in his game looks like her.

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The video game plot line somewhat reminds me of FREE GUY, the Ryan-Reynolds action comedy released this past Summer. Obviously it’s got a completely different style and tone, but both have that self-referential and self-awareness vibe that toys with our perception. While Free Guy gleefully pokes fun at itself, this movie tends to take itself a bit too seriously.

’Tis seems to be the year where directing siblings are venturing solo. While the previous three Matrix films were directed by the then Wachoskis brothers, this time it’s only Lana Wachowski returning to direct. She also co-wrote the script with David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon. I read that the plot for this one was born out of loss of Lana’s parents, apparently the idea of Neo and Trinity reuniting helped her cope. Thus the story feels personal and even intimate but that also explains the morose, even gloomy tone at times.

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With popular franchises like this one, fan service is to be expected… but while some are done well (such as the latest Spidey movie), some can feel overindulgent or worse, stale. Unfortunate that’s how I feel about this movie. While the idea was initially trailblazing, its novelty is wearing thin… my mind wandered as to what it was that made me love the first Matrix. Perhaps the fact that I hadn’t seen the two sequels might have dampened my enjoyment, as the movie kept referencing things that happened in previous movies. In fact, 10-15% of its 2.5 hour running time was made up by existing footage in the form of dreams or flashbacks. Even its opening scene was a shot-for-shot of the original movie but with new actors.

As much as I love Keanu Reeves, he just looks lethargic here as he spends most of the movie looking either confused or concerned… with his long stringy hair he looks like John Wick. Now, that franchise is still quite exciting to me as he seems to be having a lot more fun playing the character.

SPOILER: It’s also quite meta to see Chad Stahelski who directed all the John Wick movies in a cameo as Tiffany’s husband… it’s even more amusing as Chad has been Keanu’s longtime stunt double for this franchise.

It’s cool to see Carrie Ann Moss as well back as Trinity. She still looks amazing after 2 decades and her character’s arc is just as intriguing as Keanu’s. That meet-cute at the cafe looks like something out of a rom-com, perhaps someone’s already done a trailer this one recut as a Christmas rom-com, ahah.

As for the supporting cast, well I’m not as impressed with them compared to those in the original. Yahya Abdul Mateen is a good actor and I like his casting as young Morpheus but sorry, he ain’t no Laurence Fishburne with his icy glare and iconic deep voice. Jonathan Groff with his cute face is no Hugo Weaving either as Agent Smith, even the fight scenes with him feel uninspired. Don’t even get me started with Neil Patrick  Harris as Neo’s shrink… it’s as if I were watching a TV movie every time he shows up.

But the most distracting casting was Jessica Henwick whom I’ve only seen in The Defenders series. Somehow her look and mannerism reminds me so much of Henry Golding it’s uncanny! That said, she has a pretty big role as Bugs and looks pretty cool doing all the stunts. I hope to see more of her in future projects.

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Visually speaking, I can’t really point out some imaginative scenes that blew my mind from this one. With more money and better computer technology, I expected to see some new avant-garde scenes to marvel at. The underworld labyrinth where the actual matrix itself exist have some striking imagery, but I feel like we’ve seen those before in better, more exciting sci-fi movies.

One thing for sure, I spent a great deal of time being discombobulated or bored, there were barely any uplifting moments that got me engaged or made me want to cheer. I knew that it’d be tough for this one to recapture the magic of the original movie, but still, it should’ve been much better than this. If I had known what a dull ride this would be, I might as well had taken the blue pill. The title might say ‘resurrections’ but some things ought to just stay buried.

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Have you seen The Matrix Resurrections? Well, what did YOU think?

Musings on The Matrix Resurrections trailer

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I have to admit I’m not one of those people who have been hugely anticipating this movie. Heck, I had not watched the two sequels after the first movie The Matrix. I might have seen clips of The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, but I could hardly remember anything about either of them. Well, 22 years after the original 1999 movie, we’ve got The Matrix Resurrections.

Behold the trailer with all its neon-lights glory:

Here are 21 thoughts after watching this trailer:

  1. So Neo’s actual name is Thomas?? Somehow I’ve completely forgotten about that … Speaking of forgetting, does Neo have amnesia or something?
  2. Doogie Howser has now graduated to become Neo’s shrink??
  3. Always nice seeing Keanu Reeves on screen… I find it amusing that he looks like John Wick with his scruff and long hair, it’s as if I’m watching John Wick in a sci-fi thriller.

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  4. Awwww… he’s got rubber ducky on his head when he’s relaxing in the bath! [swoon]

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  5. First question that entered my mind… Where is Laurence Fishburne??! I absolutely loved him as Morpheus in the original. This article seems to have a theory as to why he’s absent in this sequel (something to do with an online game??) but whatever it is, I’m bummed that we won’t be seeing him in this movie.
  6. Now, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (a talented actor whose star continues to rise) is seen dressed like Morpheus with his trademark round glasses holding the red pill. He’s also seen doing the martial arts moves with Neo… but is his character young Morpheus??

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  7. Which brings me to another question about the timeline of this movie… is this a sequel, prequel or some kind of reboot?? I barely remember anything about The Matrix Revolutions, but apparently Neo and Trinity died in that 3rd movie, so how are they alive and well here?
  8. Is there time travel involved or some kind of multi-verse? Neo seems confused as to what’s happening to him, and he’s throwing away all the blue pills?? So is this the same Neo from the original?
  9. In the scene where Neo meets up with Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss seems to be drinking from the same fountain of youth as her co-star), they don’t remember each other but have a déjà vu moment. It kind of looks like a rom-com meet-cute!

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  10. I had a giggle seeing this scene of Neo in an elevator full of young people and they’re all looking at their phones! He looks up and see even more people doing the same.

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  11. Who is that man reflected in the mirror when Neo is looking at it?

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  12. So it looks like Lana Wachowski directs this one without his sibling Lilly, though she is still credited as the writer. I wonder why that is…
  13. This has got to be the only franchise in Hollywood (or even the world) where the directors of the original franchise returns to direct as a new gender.
  14. Well, it won’t be The Matrix without some Kung-Fu involved… Yahya’s character hints that they had known each other in the past, though here Neo seems to have the upper hand.

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  15. Looks like Neo’s got a new guide, this time in the form of Jessica Henwick (who I first saw in The Defenders series) as she’s got the white rabbit tattoo on her arm.

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  16. Tons of robots and machinery in this new world, which is to be expected, but THIS reminds me of Spider-man’s Doc Ock’s tentacles.

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  17. Regardless of when or where this is set, the important thing Neo’s still able to dodge bullets…
  18. Are Neo and Trinity able to fly now??

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  19. The shape-shifting agents in black suits are back, but man I’m going to miss Hugo Weaving. His line delivery is so iconic!

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  20. Who is Jonathan Groff playing? I only knew him as Kristoff’s voice from Frozen, ahah. Well the character is wearing a sharp suit which immediately makes me think he could be Agent Smith’s ally or boss? It doesn’t seem like a friendly meeting and Neo has a skeptical/worried look on his face.

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  21. There is SO much action going on in this trailer it was dizzying! But one thing for sure the visuals look amazing! It’s interesting to see TWO cinematographers credited, Daniele Massaccesi and John Toll, both of them had worked with the Wachowskis in Cloud Atlas.Even now with more sci-fi films starting to look the same with the vivid colors and neon lights, The Matrix was the first franchise that revolutionized cinema’s visual effects. I mean the ‘bullet-time’ technique alone has been copied a bunch of times by other films/video games.

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I sure hope the story will be as compelling as the visual spectacle… at least makes it something worth revisiting again after two decades!

The Matrix Resurrections will be released in theaters and on HBO Max December 22.


What do you think of The Matrix Resurrections trailer? 

FlixChatter Review – UNDERWATER (2020)

In 2017, prior to its acquisition by The Walt Disney Studios, 20th Century Fox was in production of a Sci-Fi/Horror genre film Underwater, with actress Kristen Stewart taking the leading role. Now a part of much larger studio and release schedule, the film, directed by William Eubank, would not get a release date until the start of 2020. Having a release date in the second weekend of January, it usually means that the film can face stiff completion from other films released during the 2019 holidays and still attracting moviegoers weeks later, such as Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker and Jumanji: The Next Level. There is also the competition for viewers from Oscar contenders, such as 1917 and Parasite. But with a Sci-Fi/Horror genre, Underwater could have potentially gained viewers who were just seeking some fun thrills and chills.

Unfortunately, Underwater has neither thrills nor chills that amount to much of anything. The premise is quite simple; Norah Price (Kristen Stewart) works deep underwater at a drill seven miles to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. As what seems like a massive earthquake hits, a section of the Kepler 822 Station where Price is stationed starts to suffer a catastrophic breach from the pressure. One moment Price is brushing her teeth and the next moment, there is water coming from all directions. Price is able to locate a fellow mechanical engineer Rodrigo Nagenda (Mamoudou Athie) and the two of them prevent a larger breach from happening, escape the area and rescue another crewman Paul Abel (T.J. Miller). The three try to locate escape pods but find them all deployed already, and they must search go to another section of the station where there are more escape pods located.

The trio runs into Captain Lucien (Vincent Cassel), who takes them to a control base where they find biologist Emily Haversham (Jessica Henwick) and engineer Liam Smith (John Gallagher Jr.). The group decides to put on pressurized suits and walk one mile across the ocean floor to the Roebuck Station 641. This is where things start going all wrong and slowly but surely, we start losing the minor characters that Norah Price found along the way. First, Rodrigo’s helmet is faulty and cracks from the pressure, killing him instantly. Next they find a menacing hatchling creature, which does quick work of Paul by dragging him underwater before being ripping his suit out and killing him.

The remaining four survivors continue their journey by walking across the ocean floor (I mean what could possibly go wrong???), but another human-looking creature appears, and drags Smith into a cave. Captain Lucien manages to pull Smith out, but tries foolishly goes for Smith’s bolt gun, giving the creature the chance to drag Lucien quickly up through the water and away from the other three. Price manages to locate Captain Lucien, but when the mysterious creature begins ascending, Captain Lucien sacrifices himself so that Price may escape the increasing change in pressure, killing him in the process.

Price is a now alone, without knowing what happened to Smith and Haversham. She manages to reach the abandoned Shepard Station, replaces her used up pressurized suit and leaves the Shepard Station, continuing toward another even deeper station called the Roebuck. Price conveniently runs into Smith and Haversham as she approaches the Roebuck, but also notices a nest of the humanoid creatures hanging from the ceiling and they try to sneak by to no avail. A tiny pressure suit noise causes one of them to wake up and attack Price. She gets partially swallowed but is able to kill the creature and break free, and Haversham rescues Price as they continue their way into the Roebuck.

They realize that the previous earthquake was no earthquake (duh!!!) and enormous creature reveals itself and causes an explosion, which starts to damage the Roebuck. The gigantic alpha creature, which had destroyed their rig earlier, emerges from around the Roebuck surrounded by even more of the humanoid creatures. SPOILER ALERT (highlight to read): The three survivors are able to reach the escape pod bay, but Price discovers that only two work, with a third being damaged and unusable. Price gives up her spot so that Smith and Haversham could take the last two working escape pods, and she stays behind. Knowing she is already going to die, Price raises the energy levels of the core engines so that they explode, killing the creatures and allowing the escape pods to reach the surface.

The Price character has many resemblances to Sigourney Weaver‘s Alien character Ripley. She seems to always have the upper hand on those humanoid creatures, and isn’t even afraid to take on the gigantic alpha creature, much like Ripley went toe to toe with the alien creature in Ridley Scott‘s 1979 sci-fi/horror thriller. The difference here is that Ripley used quite a bit of strength and her own smarts to out-power and outwit the alien creature. On the other hand, Norah Price is just a throwaway character and Kristen Stewart plays her role with more trauma and distraught, which makes you think that she is getting incredibly lucky with her decision making more than having any extraordinary abilities.

The bottom line is I’d rather watch Ridley Scott’s Alien for a billionth time rather than watch even a few more minutes of Underwater. I think it was a mistake for 20th Century Fox/ The Walt Disney Studios to finance it and release it in theaters. Perhaps they should have left it for streaming on their platform Disney+ or found another streaming partner, such as Netflix. While it would be alright to see this film sitting at home, I wouldn’t recommend anyone waste their time/money by seeing it on the big screen. Especially if you’re hoping to make any sense of the ending, its best you just go along with the ride and hope to make it out alright on the other side.

– Review by Vitali Gueron


Have you seen UNDERWATER? Well, what did you think?