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What Could Go Wrong with the Next New "Matrix"

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Photo: As for the fifth "Matrix"—we're preparing for the worst, hoping for the best, Source: Collage The Gaze \ by Leonid Lukashenko
Photo: As for the fifth "Matrix"—we're preparing for the worst, hoping for the best, Source: Collage The Gaze \ by Leonid Lukashenko

Once, when asked how he created his sculptures, Michelangelo reportedly said, "I just take a block of marble and carve away the excess." For centuries, this was the metaphorical formula for artistic masterpieces: removing the unnecessary. However, in recent years, Hollywood has taken a different path, attempting not to carve away but rather to add on—even if it doesn't quite stick. A shining example of this is the "Matrix" franchise.

How many people disliked the first "Matrix" in 1999? Judging by the fact that every other desktop wallpaper was adorned with greenish-neon computer code, it seems not many did. But then, at Warner Bros. Studios, they decided to "add on." By 2003, before the initial groundbreaking hit had a chance to cool down, two sequels were released simultaneously: "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Matrix Revolutions." Both sequels left behind more questions than answers, and many thought: wouldn't it have been great if the whole story had just ended with Neo's epic leap into the sky at the end of the first film?


Not to mention—the trilogy raked in a billion and a half dollars at the box office, so it's no wonder that after nearly two decades of persuasion, the studio finally convinced the Wachowskis—this time just Lana—to create the long-awaited (by whom?) fourth installment. The intellectual and meta-textual film titled "The Matrix Resurrections" was released in 2021 and flopped spectacularly at the box office. Good commentators attributed this to the pandemic, while harsh ones blamed it on the film's esoteric techno-philosophical mumbo jumbo. Eventually, fans even started to refer to any movie they preferred from 1999—be it "Fight Club," "The Sixth Sense," "American Beauty," or even "American Pie"—anything but "The Matrix," whose cinematic glory was buried under numerous layers of commercial "add-ons."

The Wachowskis had repeatedly stated after concluding the trilogy that they had said all they wanted to on the subject—that the story would not continue. But after the commercial failure of the fourth "Matrix," hopes were dashed that the franchise, which was becoming less and less appealing to audiences with each installment and was bringing in less money for its creators (especially after the second film), would finally cease to interest the studio. But no—right now, on the 25th anniversary of the original film, we've been informed that they are actively preparing to release another, fifth installment. And this time, they're betting on a new director.

Drew Goddard has taken up the baton, best known as the screenwriter of "The Martian" (a kind of remake of "Home Alone," where instead of the suburbs of Chicago, it's the red planet, and instead of the abandoned little Macaulay Culkin, it's the abandoned adult Matt Damon). Additionally, Goddard is the screenwriter of acclaimed series like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Lost," as well as films like "Cloverfield" and "World War Z" (no, not about the Z-marked occupation hordes of Russian troops in Ukraine, but about ordinary zombies, although the difference is negligible). Goddard also gained fame as the showrunner of "The Good Place" and, indeed, as a director with films like "Bad Times at the El Royale" and the cult postmodern horror "The Cabin in the Woods."

You might ask, what do cyberpunk "Matrix" and the intimate thriller "Bad Times at the El Royale" have in common that made the Wachowskis entrust their precious child to Goddard? Probably nothing—except that both films are shot in neon-noir style. Legend has it that the avid "Matrix" universe fan Goddard himself came to Warner Bros. studio and gave a presentation that impressed everyone with his incredible idea for expanding the franchise. No details are shared, but they promise that despite the new fantasy perspective, Goddard will adhere to cinematic canon. Lana Wachowski, who will produce the fifth "Matrix," will probably be responsible for this. It is unknown whether Keanu Reeves will appear in the new series, because he previously stated that he would only play this game under the direction of the Wachowskis.

Only time will tell whether Goddard will create something interesting or not. But the mood is skeptical, because franchises that shift to new directors usually plummet. Remember what happened to "Pirates of the Caribbean" when director Gore Verbinski left after the first three films—neither the removal of Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley nor the addition of Javier Bardem saved that sinking ship. Sure, Johnny Depp is funny when he mimics Keith Richards, but this Disney-fied animation nonsense isn't water or fire that you can watch forever.

However, anything can happen. For example, after Chris Columbus, three more directors made "Harry Potter" films, and each subsequent film was better than the previous one (although no—the third film, "Prisoner of Azkaban," directed by Alfonso Cuarón, is of course in a league of its own). Well, as for the fifth "Matrix"—we're preparing for the worst, hoping for the best.



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