If Dune was the most epic premiere of 2021, The Matrix: Resurrections is perhaps the most enigmatic. A two decade old movie franchise, still beloved but saddled with the reputation of terrible sequels, is rebooted with modern CGI and an as of yet incomprehensible plot. Will it be good? I don’t know! But this latest trailer leans even deeper into a feeling of nostalgia reminiscent of Star Wars The Force Awakens, a deep seated conviction that the first movie was so beloved that just acting out the same plot again with new actors and better graphics will be enough to win fans’ ticket money.
As an idea, it is of questionable merit, but it’s probably not wrong. I didn’t hate The Force Awakens after all, and there’s no doubt that nostalgia is a powerful force for marketers. Yet I’m wary of it as a trend, especially in the SFF world. There have been a lot of reboots in recent years: Star Wars, Star Trek, Ghostbusters, and now The Matrix. I love reboots as much as anyone, but isn’t it getting to the point where we should write something new?
I mean seriously, some of those franchises don’t just have reboots, they have reboots of other reboots. Ghostbusters was rebooted in 2016 and then re-rebooted this year because some fans so viciously attacked the original all-female cast. Star Trek Discovery casually rebooted its own plot two seasons in without much more explanation than “because time travel!” Hollywood’s urge to cling to old franchises is reaching the point where it’s stifling new ideas, and even the reboots are going stale in their constant fight to avoid fan censure. That Discovery reboot I mentioned undermined a fantastically dark and gritty first season, and it was pushed by the same “this isn’t the Trek of my childhood” fans who are still complaining four seasons later.
Yes, a new movie isn’t going to be exactly the same as an old movie. Why would we want it to be? That just makes things predictable and boring and keeps the weird, wonderful frontiers of speculative fiction unfairly off the big screen. So script writers, please, keep the reboots in moderation and finally write something new.