Musings on The Matrix Resurrections trailer

Matrix-Resurrections

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.

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

    Matrix-Resurrections-Keanu-bath
  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??

    Matrix-Resurrections-Yahya-Morpheus
  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!

    Matrix-Resurrections-CarrieAnneMoss
  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.

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

    Matrix-Resurrections-Neo-mirror
  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.

    Matrix-Resurrections-KungFu
  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.

    Matrix-Resurrections-Henwick
  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.

    Matrix-Resurrections-tentacles
  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??

    Matrix-Resurrections-flying
  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!

    Matrix-Resurrections-agent
  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.

    Matrix-Resurrections-Groff
  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.

    Matrix-Resurrections-neon-streets

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: FROZEN II (2019)

Written & Directed By: Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee
Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Sterling K. Brown
Runtime: 1 hour 43 minutes

When the credit for Frozen II started to roll, I looked over at my (adult) niece and asked what she thought.

“It was really cute! What did you think?”

I opened my mouth and immediately closed it again, trying not to be a party pooper. She grinned. She knows me too well.

“What didn’t you like?”

“I feel like –“ I paused, looking for the right words, “it’s an apologist narrative for colonialism.”

My niece blinked at me. I changed tracks.

“The animation was so pretty, though! Those fall colors!”

We left the theater, talking about the incredible animation and how hilarious Olaf was, which is true, but so is the thing about colonialism. Unfortunately, it is impossible to unpack any of that without spoiling the entire end of the movie, so I’ll save that for the very end of my review. Once you’ve seen the movie, come back and we’ll compare notes.

Frozen II picks up approximately where Frozen left off. Anna and Kristoff are clutzily in love. Olaf is essentially a pre-teen in a toddler shaped body, trying to figure out what growing up is. Elsa is the beloved queen of Arendelle, but she worries that she isn’t fulfilling her potential. This hunch is verified when Arendelle is attacked by the four forces of nature (wind, fire, water, and earth) and a mysterious singing voice compels Elsa to leave her city. Predictably, she wants to go alone. Just as predictably, Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf want to join. The five of them set out on an adventure and along the way they wrestle with their personal struggles: destiny (Elsa), sisterhood (Anna), growing up (Olaf), and love (Kristoff).

Frozen II is jam packed with Big Ideas. Aside from the aforementioned personal struggle each character is dealing with (which they mostly hash out in their solos), the movie also reckons with environmentalism and colonialism. All these topics are interesting, but there are so many ideas floating around that the movie suffers, feeling disconnected and meandering. Despite having so much thematic content, the story never quite fleshes itself out. There were several scenes that felt like padding (Olaf recounting the entire plot of Frozen is one of the more delightful examples of this) and overall the story just didn’t move with the same vivacity of its predecessor.

As far as the music goes, the soundscape is gorgeous and a couple songs are gems (Olaf’s solo about growing up is hilarious and fun). Unfortunately, most of the songs, although good, feel misplaced. Rare is the moment when it makes sense for the character to burst into song. The biggest offender on this count was Kristoff’s solo, told through a hilarious 80s style music video (replete with pine cone microphones and elk backup singers). It’s a fun idea and technically well executed, but it took me right out of the story, and if you’re older than ten it will probably have the same effect on you.

All that said, the animation in Frozen II is absolutely to die for. The coloring, the action, the impeccable eye for detail: there is so much to love. The autumn colors of the forest repeatedly took my breath away and the animation of the sea and its watery inhabitants is just as stunning. Olaf, of course, is a whimsical favorite: his expressive bodily rearrangement is cute, complicated, and so fun. Honestly, I could have written an entire review just about how great the animation was, but I’ll leave the rest of it for you to discover yourself.

Frozen II is a movie that knows it has a lot to live up to. From its top-notch animation, an insistently whimsical Olaf, and surprisingly cerebral themes for a kids’ movie, Frozen II will leave its viewers with a lot to be impressed by and think about. Although worth seeing, its rather lackadaisical story arc, plodding soundtrack, and severe misstep of an ending make it hard for me to rate the movie highly.


SPOILER ALERT

Alright. For those of you who have either already seen Frozen II or don’t care about spoilers, here it is:

Frozen II ends with Elsa and Anna righting a wrong that their grandfather, then king of Arendelle, committed against the Northuldra tribe. In typical colonial fashion, their grandfather murdered the leader of the Northuldra after that leader expressed concerns about the environmental impact of the giant dam the king had installed “as a gift”. This murder (and the resulting battle) was an act of evil that the spirits of earth, wind, fire, and water repaid by (kind of unfairly) trapping both sides of the feud within a dome of impenetrable magic fog. Fast forward to “present day” in the movie. Anna destroys the dam when she and Elsa realize that their grandfather was a murderer and a liar.

This destruction creates a tidal wave that nearly flattens Arendelle, but doesn’t because Elsa races back to the city on her stunningly rendered Sea Horse and stops the water with a beautiful wall of ice. And then the water level very unrealistically just settles back to where it was before the dam broke. The fog lifts. The Northuldra continue to live in the forest; the city of Arendelle continues to exist exactly as it had before. Literally the only change made is that Arendelle installs a new statue that is supposed to represent the love between the Northuldra and the citizens of Arendelle.

There is a lot to unpack here and every pro is wrapped up in a corresponding con.

After thinking on it for a while, I do like the metaphor of some people being stuck in the fog of ancestral mistakes. It is fitting that Arendelle continues to thrive outside of the magical forest while none of the Northuldra people escaped the fog. Historically conquerers have been able to continue building their cities and their families and their futures while the conquered suffer under their rule. The only flaw here is that this particular fog represents the spirits of the forest and if the spirits are going to be on anyone’s side, it should probably be the Northuldra since they weren’t the lying liars who built a dam that destroyed a local ecosystem.

It is great that Anna and Elsa take responsibility for their grandfather’s actions and undo what he did by destroying the dam. However, there are absolutely no consequences to Arendelle. The two women are disappointed in their grandfather and they are not shy about telling others what he did, but their city, which we are told repeatedly is in the floodplain of the dam, emerges unscathed despite the destruction of that very dam. One well-placed wall of ice would not have saved that city from a mild flood at the very least. I get that this is a kids’ movie. I get that we want a happy ending. I also strongly believe that there was a huge missed opportunity to talk about reparations at the end of this film. Two generations of Northuldra people lived in a literal fog while Arendelle thrived on the other end of the fjord. Bare minimum giving the Northuldra people a stronger voice at the end of the movie would have been a better choice. Additionally, the storytellers should have found a more compelling way for Arendelle to reckon with the wrongs of its founders.

All that said, Disney collaborated with the Sami (a native group in Sweden) for this film. Although I get the impression that most of the Sami contributions were aesthetic, I would like to assume that they had some sort of input on the story as well. However, the pretty blatantly apologist ending makes it hard to believe that.

Tangentially, none of the Northuldra voice actors are native people. Obviously there are plenty of reasons why this myriad of choices would have gone unchallenged, but if you’re going to make a movie about reckoning with the sins of our fathers, maybe start with a more diverse cast.


Agree? Disagree? This is one I want to talk about. 🙂