The other night I decided to sit down and attempt to watch The Matrix for the first time in about five years. This was mostly inspired by another viewing of John Wick, as there’s a big Matrix connection there outside of just Keanu, and I discovered that The Matrix really hasn’t aged well in the eighteen years since its release.
Don’t get me wrong, eighteen years ago I was a big fan of the Wachowski’s movie. In the years leading up to the (debatably) disappointing sequel releases I would often go to midnight screenings that The Metreon in San Francisco would hold on their IMAX screen. And everyone remembers how big of a DVD the first movie was, with the disc really pushing adoption of the format.
But in 2017, The Matrix feels dated. It’s absolutely a 90s movie, and it stinks of it right from the beginning with Dragula blaring. In 1999 most people just shrugged that off as it was the edgy song every movie in the 90s used. Eighteen years later it dates the movie terribly as being from that era.
Even the movie looks like it is from the nineties. Aside from the green color grading given to it to make The Matrix scenes look artificial, it looks like most genre films from the latter half of the decade. Gattaca, The Thirteenth Floor, Alien: Resurrection, etc. Just like many of the Marvel films look similar due to the camera they use on them, The Matrix looks like a product of its time and not a timeless sci-fi classic like so many were proclaiming it to be during its release.
The irony is that a lot of the people proclaiming The Matrix to be a revolution for the genre that will forever be a classic are the same people who were knocking The Phantom Menace the very same year. What’s funny is that The Phantom Menace has actually aged a lot better than The Matrix has. Late 90’s ILM CG aside, there’s really nothing in the first Star War Prequel to date it as badly as The Matrix has suffered. I’d even argue that the look of The Phantom Menace (costumes, locations, sets, etc) is still among the best of all eight Star Wars movies.
After attempting to get through the original Matrix I am beginning to wonder how the two sequels fare. But then I remembered how bad the Burly Brawl looked in 2003 and decided I’ll just wait for the next time they’re on cable to attempt a viewing: