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Where Is The New Matrix?

Watching the latest “Everything Is A Remix” video the other day, I realized that we’re probably due for another Matrix sometime soon. By that, I don’t mean another installment of the Wachowski brothers’ uber-successful sci-fi series – I think we’re all done with that one, at least for awhile, right? – but another movie that seems to realign people’s sensibilities about genre cinema, and what it’s there for.

Maybe I’m thinking about this from a rose-colored nostalgic perspective, but The Matrix felt like one of those movies that somehow touched a nerve in pop culture, and seemed at once a summation of what lots of people were thinking (or had already been saying, which is the point of the “Everything Is A Remix” video) and a suggestion of where to go next. The same kind of thing as, say, Pulp Fiction or Star Wars. Again, your milage may vary, but I feel like the closest we’ve come to that in recent years has been Inception, but that’s not exactly the same thing – That was, somehow, a phenomenon stylistically and financially, but didn’t really seem to make much impact in terms of what followed, at least not yet. It makes me wonder if we’re at a point where we can’t really have a new Matrix anymore.

The problem may be that everyone both expects there to be a new Matrix (and is happy to announce themselves as the new Matrix – think about the way that things like Sucker Punch have been positioned, for example) and, at the same time, is entirely unwilling to accept anything that isn’t based upon an existing idea that they’re already familiar with (From this year, see the fates of the aforementioned Sucker Punch, Cowboys vs. Aliens, Skyline, and so on. Everything that isn’t based on a toy, comic book, TV show or some other franchise of old with the possible exception of, say, Super 8… which, in many ways, was sold on the familiarity of JJ Abrams and Steven Spielberg as brands as much as it was the mystery of the story itself). We, as a mass audience, want something to blow our minds, but we’d rather it came in a form we were already comfortable with, if possible.

Perhaps I’m overreacting ; maybe Inception just needs time to sink in, and it’ll be the new gamechanger. But I feel that, if it really was to take that role, and not just act as an aberration that got people talking, then we’d have seen more things taking influence from it already, instead of seeing Transformers 3 be called one of the most impressive movies of the year by people who are, apparently, serious. It’d be nice to think that there’s something around the corner that will have the impact of a Matrix once again, but I don’t think that it’ll happen anytime soon, and through no fault of the filmmakers involved; no matter the quality of tomorrow’s movies, I don’t think it’ll happen until the audience really becomes ready to see it.

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Comments

  • Mythos

    You do realize Sucker Punch wasn’t really that great and Cowboys vs. Aliens was a movie with a lot of credibility behind it but with very unfortunate marketing and a B-movie concept, right? Hell, I love science fiction and the whole premise of Cowboys vs. Aliens didn’t attract me in the slightest.

    Also, I don’t know about you, but I’d take Inception over The Matrix any time, especially if it doesn’t spawn a couple of unnecessary and arguably forgettable sequels.

  • Imaginet1

    Avatar ?

  • Wildstorm

    Avatar is just a remix of The last Samarai that was a remix of Dances With Wolves.

  • Anonymous

    Since comic book movies are all the rage these days, maybe Cowboys vs. Aliens should have been promoted as such since it is based on one. At first I read your above comment  and thought you were saying it was not based on any thing, but I think you were saying it’s not based on a popular property. But I could be wrong. And I think if someone had bothered to write an actual script for Sucker Punch, it could’ve been awesome, it certainly had the visuals to be awesome, but they turned into little more than video game cut scenes with out much of a story linking them up. I still don’t know why the movie had such a convoluted element of two distinct fake and pointless realities….

    But to address your points, these moments you speak of usually happen when there is a technological advance partnered with an excellent and relatable story that creates something new and interesting that a large group relates to and clamor for more. Star Wars and Matrix seem to fill this gab. I think Avatar should have been the next one, but 3-d, although better than ever, isn’t something new and different like ‘bullet time’ nor was the script anything more than a generic scifi-movie. Also, even though the movie industry has embraced 3-d movies, it’s still being used as a gimmick and not a story telling device. Even in Avatar, it was pretty and neat, but being in 3-d didn’t affect the story.

    The other element is how our culture is changing to embrace fandom. Star Wars fandom was a big deal when people were so devoted to it like nothing else, but in comparison, everything seems to have a large following thanks in part to the internet and the way their is no longer a cultural stigma to be a fan of something to the point that it affects your lifestyle. 

    As much as the internet allows us to connect over the tiniest things, it also allows us to remain separated by finding support for our differences. Meaning, instead of everyone overwhelmingly embracing one thing, lots of things are overwhelmingly embraced by smaller groups.

    But I’m just rambling…

  • Plastic Man

    I think the big thing you’re ignoring is the passage of time.  I personally don’t consider Pulp Fiction to be a game changer since it’s largely a homage to prior genres and storytelling techinques.  It was simply the first time anyone saw these techniques done so well.  However when talking about game changer I think the key is that it pushes movie making in general forward.  I honestly don’t know how much the Matris has done this.  I think I would remember it more fondly if it was subsequently destroyed by it’s own creators.  But if you do consider Star Wars and The Matrix game changers than look at the release dates.  There’s a 22 year difference between the films.  I think patience will be your best bet here.  In the meantime enjoy the movies that are good but aren’t necessarily game changers such as Inception.  I don’t think there’s a rule stating that in order for a movie to be important it has to change the game.  There are plenty of great movies out there that are simply that.

  • Gu3st

    It’s unsurprising you’ve not heard of Neuromancer and it’s upcoming adaptation.

  • nailsin

    You’re being too nice to Avatar.

  • Lady’sMan217

    The Matrix trilogy was uber cool, and yes it’s time for more. Really, Star Wars can peddle shit for this long? F%^& SW. Its shit, except for the original three. The Matrix has a lot more story to tell. Bring, Wachowski’s, we don’t give a shit about whatever else you’re doing, or, atleast pimp out the franchise to someone that loves the films as much as you did. It’s bigger than you now.

  • Lady’sMan217

    Tron is cool, it might have been the original Matrix. Let’s not forget Dark City, fuckin cool movie. But frankly most matrix wannabe movies are steaming piles of shit. So get the series going again. Fuck if I was a mogul I’d bitch slap all the right people.

  • Derrickfish

    And the Matrix was a remix of the heroes journey, a dozen anime films and The Invisibles. But it’s in the word “just” that pokes holes in the argument. The Matrix, like Star Wars before it and Avatar after it, took inspiration from a lot of ideas and influences and remixed the ingredients into something fresh that captured the imaginations of a cubic poop ton of people.

    Sorry, but like it or not, “AVATAR” was exactly what this article was talking about,(in spite of how obviously it tried to dance around it without even mentioning it.) it just hasn’t been as ripped off by other movies as the Matrix was so quickly after IT’S success. I know that my fellow genre nerds LOVE to hate it, but it happened, it was insanely successful and all the griping in the world isn’t going to change that.

  • Gary

    Speaking of unnecessary and forgettable sequels, are you a fan of Star Wars?

  • G.

    this may not be the place to complain, but I’m taking up a gripe with this “everything is a remix” site. I looked around and found videos about both the Matrix and Kill Bill, which are both very openly homage movies to things the directors were fans of. Neither one claims to be entirely original, and that’s part of what makes those movies good. Please find something else to bitch about than movies “copying other movies,” when that’s pretty much what the movie is about.

  • Anonymous

    If real life virtual reality technologies actually came into being and people were using them, then yeah, there’d be tons of new cyberpunk movies. But that hasn’t happened and is unlikely to happen unless and until Neural Science has an earth-shattering breakthrough ala figuring out the natural operating system everyone’s consciousness is run on. AND, engineers interface and manipulate a human being’s consciousness with that new knowledge.

    Science Fiction has already gone everywhere. Real science is glacially catching up. It’s a weird time in human culture. It feels like were on a sailing ship stuck in the horse latitudes – we seem to be going nowhere.

    And no, Neal Stephenson is absolutely wrong about making colonization of Mars exciting. It’s not exciting, it is the apotheosis of boredom. There’s nothing on Mars. It’s worse than even living in Ohio. THERE IS NOTHING ON MARS. Is that clear enough for everyone?? If Mars had a thriving biosphere, then that would be a completely different story. But it doesn’t.

  • Jared

    Nope, you’re right it did happen, but when’s the last time you heard someone say “Hey, let’s watch Avatar again!” It wasn’t a good movie. It just “was”.

  • http://thevenger6.blogspot.com Matt Spatola

    I was guessing that since the headline ended with a question mark that McMillan  had to be the writer.

  • wil

    Drive? It’ll take time but the costumes and the soundtrack are definitely going to soak into popular culture like the Matrix did. Remember the Matrix wasn’t a massive film upon it’s release.

  • mdk

    The markets for entertainment are too fractured and Balkanized now for anything like the Matrix to happen again.  SOrry.

  • Jack R

    The obvious elephant in the room here, is Avatar…

  • Cyrrushunter

    lord of the rings was also a game changer. fantasy wasn’t considered profitable and neither was telling 1 film split over multiple installments. there were a few game changer but we are saturated with films so they dont have the same impact.

  • Deejoo

    Inception, Source Code (and Moon even before), it seems like sci-fi is still after philp k. dick suggestions. I can’t see any new change of shift here, just the same old identity trip / reality questions we’re looking at since blade runner.

  • Backslash

    Matrix, I think was loosely based on Shadowrun RPG, even the concept of jacking in the matrix is relatively the same in there.  but yes i think we need another matrix movie. 

  • Jubilee

    The Matrix was a dumb popcorn flick with killer action sequences. The “high concept” about reality versus perception had already been explored to death and came off as trite.

  • Jubilee

    In other words, like some other folks pointed out, the answer to the author’s question is indeed Avatar. Same damn thing.

  • Awalkerphoenix

    You guys all think you are so smart. Every movie ever made is a rehash of old ideas. Even the very first movies were just retellings of books and earlier writings. Movies are sold nowadays because studio executives like to know that a movie can be sold because it IS like another movie. Most audiences won’t go see something that is too different or strange. Hollywood IS a business. As far as this article goes, he is correct. The Matrix might not be the greatest movie. Watching 10 years later, you realize that it is not as amazing as it was the first time. BUT, at the time, there had never been another movie like it. I am not talking story-wise (again, every story in a movie is like another from the past), but visually nothing ever compared. Even in the wake of copy cats, no movie to this day was as visually impressive as The Matrix. I would agree that Avatar was a game changer to some degree too. I thought Avatar was pretty awesome on the big screen, but you are correct, I have never wanted to actually watch it again. The story was old, but the point of this article was something different, and there has never been a movie like Avatar before or after it came out. I don’t think this article was making the point about great or classic movies, just the fact that there hasn’t been anything as unique since the Matrix, and he is correct.

  • http://profiles.google.com/maskedmanissue1 Masked Man Issue 1

    I don’t know guys. Avatar has been one of the most establishment-changing moments in cinema from the point of view of technology application. There has never been anything that felt like watching *that* movie in 3D IMAX. Nothing. But a film is more than just that particular aspect of the experience.

    What made Star Wars and The Matrix so unique is that they brought universal and familiar elements of storytelling into unique stories of their own. Strip Avatar of its phenomenal visuals and it is a mediocre rip-off of Dances with Wolves. Strip Star Wars and the Matrix of their effects, and the story remains appealing. Star Wars is a story that today (even with mostly mediocre actors, and special effects that have been surpassed over the decades) is still mesmerizing, enthralling and inspiring. I absolutely love the video of the 4-yr old watching the Darth Vader reveal (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ZbV5hn_ET0U), because it shows exactly how amazing that story still is, and brings you back to that time when you first heard “I am your father”.

  • Anonymous

    So, is nobody going to rip him for mentioning Skyline?  Fine.  Time for my hero’s journey.

    Graeme, for mentioning Skyline and reminding us of its existence, I hope you choke on a freshly filled diaper, vomit it up, slip on said vomit and land on a pile of horse poop, used condoms and AIDS needles while being forced to watch a repeated series of images of lemonparty, tubgirl and 2G1C while listening to William Hung’s Phantom of the Opera.

    And it still won’t be as bad as Skyline …

  • Dances_with_zombies

    Sucker Punch was great (it just needs time to sink in) and Inception was chronically over rated, boring, predictable and flat.

  • Alex

    Avatar was made by James Cameron who already had a bunch of bigger-than-life-billion-dollar films. Matrix was made  by two brothers who managed to get Warner Brothers to finance their film and they made it in Australia away from the studio. A better comparison would be to the original Star Wars that also was a film that maybe one person at the studio really thought would be a big film. Though unlike the Agents in the Matrix, the Stormtroopers could actually kill a guy once in a while.

    I don’t think there’s going to be anymore films like Matrix or the original Star Wars. I don’t think the industry has the creative juices it once had. They seemed to be locked up by political ideals and fear of the present new technologies that have make their distribution more complicated. 9/11 didn’t help either.

    You’re more likely to get a big original story out of Comic  Books. Not from DC or Marvel, but Image and other indie companies could come up with something better than the movies could.

  • http://twitter.com/TheRealJayNasty Jonathan Nathan

    So do you just enjoy positioning yourself as an INDIVIDUAL LOL!!!!11! NOBODY TELLS ME WUT 2 THINK, or are you actually this bad at watching movies?

  • http://twitter.com/TheRealJayNasty Jonathan Nathan

    It’s genre-fan thinking. It’s the same impulse that says, “NOTHING HAPPENED IN FINAL CRISIS,” the same impulse that cancels a comic book because nothing “important” has happened in awhile, etc., etc. Unfortunately, this is how too many fans of genre-fiction/speculative-fiction think.

    “Casablanca wasn’t a game-changer, man! Who cares about it?”

  • http://twitter.com/TheRealJayNasty Jonathan Nathan

    Yeah! You know these six movies? Screw all six of these movies, except for half of them! And you see this batch of cookies? They’re all terrible, except for half of them! You know that party we went to last night? I drank an entire bottle of tequila, except for half of it!

  • http://twitter.com/TheRealJayNasty Jonathan Nathan

    Not quite. Matrix – killer action sequences + racism = Avatar

  • http://twitter.com/TheRealJayNasty Jonathan Nathan

    That’s not the only thing that made Star Wars work so well. It presented a lived-in world, something that basically no sci-fi films were doing (at least not on purpose) before Star Wars, and something that precious few have successfully done since. You either get something that looks so dystopic it doesn’t feel comfortable to the viewer, or something way too shiny and clean and perfect (Star Wars prequels, Avatar, even the Matrix trilogy in parts). That was a huge part of the Star Wars aesthetic. It felt warm and human and real and believable.

    And I would also argue that the special effects hold up fine. A few spots in the first movie don’t, but other than that, I think a big part of what made the film work was the fact that everything in that movie really did blow up. If there was an explosion onscreen, that meant something of some size had been blown up in reality, and you could tell, intuitively. They did everything in a way that looked believable, because it was done the old-fashioned way (the only way available at the time, of course.) I honestly think that the Star Wars original trilogy films are as close to the pinnacle of special effects AS A NARRATIVE TOOL that we are likely to see, because they served the story, they never distracted, they made the story believable, and they looked good. You were never distracted by how good–or how bad–they were. They simply told the story.

  • http://twitter.com/TheRealJayNasty Jonathan Nathan

    God, what are you going to say when someone actually does something bad to you?

  • Mr. M

    Agree with DWZ about Inception.

  • Mr. M

    Probably not…unless it springs back to life during awards season.  I thought it was a decent movie — saved by Brooks and Cranston — but it’s wildly over-praised. Reminded me of a really long Miami Vice episode (music and cinematography) with occasional splashes of crazy violence.

  • Mandramas

    I can believe you didn’t notice that the last Matrix-like movie was The Dark Knight.

  • Cforshaw67220

    ‘The Matrix’ wasn’t the massive genre-realigning film people made it out to be, and there were really very few films that tried to copy it in the way that this article suggests was the case. The last one that really did do something of that kind was probably ‘Blade’, or ‘X-Men’, which kicked off the superhero genre craze. ‘The Matrix’ is like ‘Avatar’ – a lot of the stylistic flourishes were copied, but they haven’t actually kicked off a massive redefinition of the types of films that dominate the creatively-bankrupt summer movie season. ‘The Matrix’ wasn’t even that original – it was mostly ripping off concepts from other science fiction texts (‘Ghost in the Shell’ anime, ‘The Invisibles’ comics, ‘Neuromancer’ literature, and the future of ‘Terminator’, arguably). And yes, they were ripping them off – key parts of ‘The Invisibles’ first volume made up most of the first film, whilst the visual aesthetic was largely lifted directly from ‘Ghost in the Shell’.

    The fact is, if you want really good films, don’t watch American trash made to bleed your pockets, and, instead, look beyond the multiplexes for films made by people who genuinely care about entertaining you. 

  • Cforshaw67220

    ‘Ghost in the Shell’. ‘The Invisibles’. ‘Neuromancer’.

    Oh, sorry, did you mean that there has been nothing created by Hollywood that was like it? In literature, comics, and even anime, the ideas ‘The Matrix’ explored were old hat. In many respects, ‘Tron’ did something very similar too, being, essentially, the story of a rebellion against an evil computer overlord from within the computer.

    And copycats? There weren’t any, because everyone realised there was more money and less effort required in adapting superhero comics, which was the genre that has dominated since that time. Yes, some people used bullet-time, and some people used fighting on strings, but bullet-time was the sole innovation in ‘The Matrix’, with the strings used in fighting having been used for decades in martial arts movies.

    ‘The Matrix’ was just a good action movie that stole its best ideas from more talented people, and it can be summed up by Grant Morrison’s feeling on the sequels: “They should have kept stealing ideas from me.”

  • Cforshaw67220

    I saw ‘Avatar’. It wasn’t that good.

    However, the 3D was rubbish. It was distracting and rather than adding to the experience, it actually detracted from the experience. The problem was that certain scenes were meant to be emotional, but objects would suddenly leap out of the screen and startle me, and the consequence was that it took me completely out of the experience. Further, it was unnecessary, given that I have never watched a film and thought, “You know what, that film needed greater depth of field.”

    Finally, 3D wasn’t adopted for the audiences benefit. It is the movie businesses attempt to stop a piracy problem that has been proven not to exist. Films get leaked, and still do good business, and most independent studies and industry leaders agree: the people so eager to experience a film they will pirate it are the same ones who will buy it on DVD, Blu-ray, and see it a few times at the cinema.

  • Cforshaw67220

    ‘The Matrix’ plot was literally stolen from ‘The Invisibles’ and ‘Ghost in the Shell’. ‘Star Wars’ wasn’t that original, being just a mixture of Kurosawa and ‘Flash Gordon’. Cameron, meanwhile, has a bad habit of being successfully sued for most of his well known films (‘Terminator’, and ‘Avatar’ is in progress) or essentially making films that have already been done before (‘Titantic’ has been made so, so many times, and ‘True Lies’ was a remake).

    The truth is that science-fiction has become less about science and more about spectacle since ‘Star Wars’ did so well, and that is reason enough to despise George Lucas’ opus as a culturally significant artefact. Where is the new ‘Matrix’? Who cares? Where is the new ‘Silent Running’?

  • Alex

    Blade was the first successful Marvel movie adaption. It was nice to see one. What was the first? Oh yeah. Forgot I asked that.
    Hey, where is Wesley Snipes, anyway? Oh yeah.
     Forget I asked.
    I liked the first Matrix well enough. It was a nice action film, anyway. Obviously comic book influenced, too.   What happened with those sequels? Oh yeah, right.

  • http://twitter.com/p_keely Patrick Keely

    Avatar was a remix of Dances with Wolves and Ferngully

  • Mwedmer

    Lets not forget A Man Called Horse. Or how about Pocahontis? Or maybe I could sit here and name about 40 movies that all have used that exact same plot.
    In case you were not aware, there are really only (7) different plots that all stories spring from. Avatar, was a solid and engaging use of a couple of those major plot devices. It actually was a pretty good movie also.

    The MAtrix before it also used a few of the same plot points, Man-vs-Machine and Man-vs-Nature and Man-vs-Self being the three primary ones.

    Regarding the Second and third Matrix films, they were not failures, I think most people didn’t understand the point of the characters or why they acted as they did.
    They all spoke in monotone voices, not because of poor acting or direction, but because they were machines. The entire story was basically a System Restore sequence with people.Neo was a virus introduced into the system. Agent Smith is the Anti-Virus program. Neo’s purpose is to crash the system so that it can be rebooted without shocking the human batteries. All of the people he encounters, are actually just passwords protecting different systems that he is invading.
     Its a self aware machine that has to go through a cycle to reassert itself. which is why it creates Neo. Everything in the film is really only  a disussion on humanity in regards to both religion and the repeating cycles of events that humans experience.

  • Mwedmer

    All of those films you mentioned, as well as most of PKD’s works, ponder the nature of Man. What he is? Why he is as he is? What will he do when thrust into this situation? Or that situation. Or how can a mans decisions create or destroy the reality he lives in or desires? Its been around since long before Blade Runner also. You can go back to 2001 for a seminal point, but it goes back much much further than that.

  • Mwedmer

    Read Neuromancer by William Gibson, and the Invisibles by Grant Morrison if you want to know what the Matrix is, and where it sprang from.

  • Mwedmer

    There was racism in Avatar? wow, I thought it dealt with Corporate Greed like most of Camerons films seem to touch upon. Avatar actually went so much deeper than your assessment. People were able to relate to many of the situations within the film, that reminded them in some way of things they experienced themselves. Not the sci-fi crap, but the actual situations. That is why they kept going back to see it. Same with The Matrix. Even Star Wars which deftly used every plot device in the book to create a story with heart, purpose beyond the self and solid adventure. We watch it because Luke could be any one of us. The small insignifigant person who makes a differance.
    NEO is the same. A small, seeminly insignifigant person who can rise above his own place and change things.
    Avatar did it with Jake. A cripple who is seen as insignifigant, is the one who at the end of the day saves the downtrodden from Tyranny. (the exact same underlying feature of Star Wars,and The Matrix as well)

    If people could learn to look past the shiny bits, like SFX and Action scenes, they might actually find more to a films story that they can enjoy.

  • Mwedmer

    The reason Star Wars worked, had nothing to do with the SFX. It was completely because people could believe in and relate to the characters primary motivation.

  • Johnnymacnro

    inception was a shitty,boring movie

  • Heisenburg

    They should just make The Invisibles a movie.

    Although people would probably think its a matrix rip off.

  • Jay

    *sigh* Why do Nolan fanboys sound so rabid, incoherent, butthurt and juvenile when defending their hero? Rarely a coherent, nuanced defense. Their emotional identification always seem combined with childish incoherent retorts.

  • Jay

    Very few films tried to copy the Matrix? Are you smoking crack? Just about every action film still tries to copy the Matrix. Look at the newest action movie coming out, The Three Musketeers. Matrix-influenced out the wazoo.

  • Jay

    Oh wait, I reread your comment and I get the problem now. You think a movie only counts as Matrix-influenced if it literally has all-black leather outfits and black trenchcoats and sunglasses. That’s why you think the last movies to be influenced by the Matrix were the X-Men and Blade movies. Hilarious.

  • robert

    ” I don’t think it’ll happen until the audience really becomes ready to see it.” maybe thats what the oracle meant when she said we would see neo again someday :(