Is nothing sacred anymore? There is nothing that Hollywood won’t plunder for ideas. They can’t just make something that’s original. And if they do, like they did with The Matrix after making the Wachowskis jump through a bunch of hoops, then they just plunder those movies a few years later, too. Warner Bros. have announced that they will be bringing out a bunch of new Matrix movies that they’ll be working on with screenwriter Zak Penn, which was met with some pushback by the fans. Whether we like it or not, Warner Bros. are going ahead with a reboot of The Matrix movies. Here are 10 reasons why that reboot is a terrible, deplorable idea.
10. The Matrix Revolutions killed the franchise forever
“Should have taken the blue pill after all.” That’s what the critics were saying after they were severely disappointed by the trilogy closer The Matrix Revolutions. They said that it was “the third and (please, Lord) final chapter” of the franchise. They called it “an abysmal anti-climax.” The Wachowski siblings, who had gotten the first movie nominated for a handful of Oscars, were nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Director for the third one. The third movie has a 36% “rotten” approval score on Rotten Tomatoes. The third Matrix movie killed the franchise for good. The first one became a cultural institution that intrigued millions of people and blew their minds and got them really excited for where it was going. The second one turned a lot of them off and put the franchise on the rocks by confusing the audience that they had attracted in the first place. And then the third one came in and killed the franchise for good. David Ansen, the film reviewer for Newsweek, summed this up perfectly: “The original Matrix was full of dizzying surprises. But it’s turned out that the Wachowskis didn’t have many more tricks up their sleeves.” So, why would we drag that on?
9. The writer is already off on the wrong foot
On his vision for the new Matrix movie, writer Zak Penn (who also wrote this year’s sci-fi novel adaptation Ready Player One) has said, “I’ve been working on The Matrix right now, which is in…a phase right now. That’s a franchise I desperately want to see brought back and – I can’t go into too much detail – but I’ve been harassing Warner Bros. for years to try to get it going again, so that’s one thing I’m working on and I’ve been working on a bunch of other things, too. I think OASIS [the big VR multiplayer video game from Ready Player One] is similar. Both the Matrix and OASIS are similar in that they are brilliant ideas for universes.” Ready Player One was great, but it was just a light and breezy popcorn movie with a ton of pop culture references and a very stereotypical view of games. The Matrix is so much heavier and deeper and more philosophical than that. They both have very different tones and styles and atmospheres and feels. You can’t just do a Ready Player One in the world of The Matrix any more than you could do a Guardians of the Galaxy in the world of Star Wars (which is what got Phil Lord and Christopher Miller fired from Solo: A Star Wars Story and should get Zak Penn fired from The Matrix reboot if they do decide to go ahead with it).
8. It won’t make as much money as they think it will
If Warner Bros. make a reboot of The Matrix franchise and pump a budget of $200 million or so into it, it will not be nearly as financially successful as they think it will. See, science fiction is all about social relevance. Movies that were popular or successful at a certain time will not necessarily still be popular and successful whenever you feel like bringing out a random reboot or sequel or prequel or whatever. Just look at Blade Runner. While it failed at the box office initially, it did manage to find a cult audience throughout the 1980s and a sequel may have been successful then. But the studio missed the boat and when they finally did make a sequel last year, Blade Runner 2049, it cost them $185 million to make and just as much to market and only grossed $259 million in its entire theatrical run. Rumor has it that the plot of the reboot will revolve around young Morpheus. People don’t want to see movies about the younger versions of characters as much as you might think. Just look at Solo: A Star Wars Story. It’s Han Solo, but it’s not Harrison Ford, so it’s only made $264 million on its $250 million budget.
7. The original actors aren’t thrilled about it
At a press conference for a completely separate movie, Keanu Reeves was asked for his thoughts on this new proposed reboot. As soon as the question was posed, everybody there started to boo and jeer the prospect of it. Reeves, having a fair bit more clout than the people in the audience, decided to keep more diplomatic and impartial about the whole thing. The actor said, “Remaking The Matrix. I don’t know. Maybe it’s…I don’t know anything about it.” Even though he doesn’t express any clear opinions in this statement, it’s pretty clear that he’s not a fan of the idea. He doesn’t explicitly say that he hates the idea of a reboot, but he doesn’t come anywhere near saying he’ll be first in line at the theater to see it. Laurence Fishburne, who played the role of Morpheus in the original trilogy of movies, doesn’t even believe that this reboot will go forward. He said, “I haven’t heard anything that I would believe is true.” Like Reeves, Fishburne also remained tight lipped about it. When he was asked, “How would you feel about it if it happened?” the actor simply laughed and replied, “When I hear something that means that that’s really true then I will talk about it, but not before then.” Neither of these actors sound excited about a new Matrix movie.
6. Zak Penn doesn’t even seem to know what he wants to do
It seems like Zak Penn himself doesn’t know what he wants to do with this project. The writer said that there is “no need to put actors or anyone on the spot, because there’s nothing there yet. No reboot or reimagining, no recasting involved.” If it’s not a reboot and it’s not a remake and the original actors aren’t playing their roles and no one else will be playing their roles, then what the hell actually is it? Penn also said, “Can’t comment [on the new movie] yet except to say that the words ‘reboot’ and ‘remake’ were from an article. Let’s stop responding to inaccurate news.” It seems like the writer will do anything to avoid using the term “reboot” to describe this project, but by definition, it is a reboot. It’s taking an old movie franchise and injecting it with the steroids of a new cast and new stories in order to keep it going and bring in more money every couple of years, just based on the slightest bit of brand recognition that they can use to eek shit out. That’s what a reboot is. Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the next chapter of a wider story and a sequel that continued on from a previous movie – but it was still, by definition, a reboot.
5. We’ve seen Michael B. Jordan in a reboot before
All we’ve heard about the casting of this movie is that they want Michael B. Jordan to star in it as a younger iteration of the Morpheus character. We also know that none of the original cast members want to be a part of it, as they have all told us. So, what we have is a reboot movie starring Michael B. Jordan. But we’ve seen a reboot movie starring Michael B. Jordan and none of the original cast members before – and it was dreadful! Fantastic Four, or Fant4stic if you want to get playful with it and following the Fox marketing strategy, was just awful. It was terrible. It was honestly one of the worst movies ever made. That’s not an exaggeration. Jordan’s acting in that movie was nominated for a Razzie, the movie was panned without remorse by the critics whose reviews gave it a dismal approval score of just 9%, it bombed terribly at the box office – grossing just $167 million worldwide on a whopping production budget of $155 million – and thanks to its critical and financial failure, all the future plans for sequels and spin-offs had to be scrapped. Is that the plan with The Matrix reboot.
4. The Matrix isn’t as big as Star Wars
One of the biggest problems with making a reboot of The Matrix franchise that will expand across a bunch of spin-off movies and prequels and sequels and whatever else they want to do is that The Matrix franchise isn’t really big enough to launch a cinematic universe on the scale of Marvel or DC or Star Wars. The endless Star Wars spin-offs work because we’re used to that world and those characters. We’re interested in a movie about young Boba Fett. We’re interested in a movie about young Obi-Wan. But will people beyond the diehard fans of the franchise even be interested in watching a movie about a young Morpheus? Hell, the Han Solo movie is underperforming at the box office and he’s a much more iconic character than Morpheus! And that’s assuming that even the biggest fans of The Matrix movies will want to watch a spin-off movie with someone else in the role that Laurence Fishburne made iconic. What if they’re not interested? What if they see it as some kind of slander or insult against their favorite movies? That would mean that this reboot is then left with no audience whatsoever! So, what would be the point in that?
3. The story of that world has already been told
Zak Penn has said, “All I can say at this point is no one could or should REBOOT The Matrix. People who know Animatrix and the comics understand.” The Animatrix is an anime spin-off movie set in the same fictional universe as The Matrix. It is an anthology movie comprised of nine animated short films and it’s not perfect, but it’s okay. It seems from this comment that Zak Penn’s intentions are to create a larger scale, live action version of this concept, like a cinematic universe. But The Animatrix exists as it is for a reason. The comic books are comic books for a reason. They were other forms of media that storytellers and artists and animators used to expand upon the world that the Wachowski siblings created with their movies. But the movies are the movies. They told the story that needed to be told to introduce us to that world, take us through it, and bring its entire order to an end. It’s a trilogy – it has a beginning, middle, and end. The fictional universe in The Matrix is only there to complement the story. It’s not like Middle-earth or Narnia. It’s not a map. It’s not just a geographical location. It was a setup for a story that has already been told. Leave it alone!
2. Zak Penn doesn’t have the vision to pull this off
Zak Penn is the screenwriter who has been hired by Warner Bros. to spearhead the new reboot of The Matrix franchise. Penn does not have the vision to pull off something like this. The Wachowski siblings did have that vision. They created the whole world, fleshed it out, filled it with complex and interesting characters, and told three brilliant stories set in it with a pitch perfect setup and a more or less satisfying conclusion. Penn has already killed a bunch of franchises with his mediocre scripts for movies like X-Men: The Last Stand and The Incredible Hulk and Elektra. He definitely can’t be the only guy steering the ship for the foreseeable future of The Matrix franchise as a huge cinematic universe on the level of Star Wars or the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Those franchises have big producers like Kevin Feige and Kathleen Kennedy keeping all the movies in check and making sure the movies are good and all following the same creative direction. Zak Penn can’t be that guy. He’s not even a producer – he’s just a screenwriter. But a man, if you will. We’ll just end up with whatever the Matrix version of X-Men: The Last Stand looks like. Yikes!
1. There’s no point without the Wachowskis’ involvement
The Wachowski siblings have denounced the idea of carrying on The Matrix franchise. They said that the idea of doing more sequels (or spin-offs or prequels or whatever) to the trilogy that made them a filmmaking force to be reckoned with and set in the fictional universe that they so lovingly created to tell their story was a “particularly repelling idea in these times” where Hollywood is churning out sequel after reboot after spin-off after remake of every single franchise under the sun. So, the studio shouldn’t defile their wishes by going over their heads and making a new one anyway. And there would be no point either. The Terminator movies that James Cameron didn’t play any kind of hand in are awful. The Pacific Rim movie that Guillermo del Toro didn’t direct that came out a few months ago was totally sterile and by the numbers and without passion. There are just some directors who make movie franchises their own and no one can take that away from them and still have it be as good. The Matrix is the Wachowskis’ baby, and if they say it’s done, then it’s done. No one else can do what they’ve done with that universe – especially Zak Penn. So, this reboot that Warner Bros. are considering of The Matrix franchise is unequivocally, without question, a terrible, terrible idea.