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The Matrix Franchise: The Definitive Ranking

I guess I should make one of these now, huh? Four films is the bare minimum of movies in a franchise that I want in order to make a list. Three films ends up feeling too small for it, and I did the Airport movies, a franchise with four. So, here goes.

For a lot of people, the franchise begins and ends with the first film. They see it as a perfect movie to some degree, beginning and ending a tale in great style that the sequels never match up to. I am not so hot on the first film, finding the narrowed scope of its final act discordant and the love story element unpersuasive, and I get a fair bit from the first two sequels that found a way to expand the story in interesting, if not always emotionally engaging, ways. No, Neo and Trinity is not some grand romance of cinema. It’s barely passable, if that.

Then Resurrections came, and I think I understand what a lot of people have been saying about the sequels for a long time: it was unnecessary. There are neat ideas and Neo and Trinity at their best as a romance, but it’s so bogged down in substandard world-building, expository dialogue at some of its worst, and an awful structure that I just can’t get into it.

Oh well, here’s that list. May the listicle gods be appeased. And do check out my other lists and bathe in the definitiveness of them all.

The Matrix Resurrections (2021) - IMDb

4. The Matrix Resurrections

“No, this movie was not worth any wait. It’s a jumble of ideas and emotions that never come together into a single vision, toying with the ideas of sequels, remakes, and reboots along with a host of other things important to only the most die hard of Matrix fans while treating the whole thing like a therapy session.”

The Matrix Reloaded: Pre-Load (Video 2003) - IMDb

3. The Matrix Reloaded

“The characters are functional more than involving. The plot is an interesting mix of ideas, but it’s the action that drives everything. Because of the strength of the action scenes almost entirely on their own do I actually like this movie.”

The Matrix Revolutions (2003) - IMDb

2. The Matrix Revolutions

“Yeah, most people dismiss this movie completely, but I think its middle section works almost as well as the best of the original The Matrix. The beginning is frustrating and the ending as well in different form, but the film is really dominated by the middle where it works really well. Like all of them, this could have been better, but on the whole, I think The Matrix Revolutions ends up being a pretty good action spectacle.”

The Matrix (1999) - IMDb

1. The Matrix

“It’s a solidly good action film with one of the great first acts in popular film over the last few decades, a surprisingly slowly ponderous second act, and then an entertaining third act that feels like it could have been more. I kind of get the love, but I definitely don’t share it.”

7 thoughts on “The Matrix Franchise: The Definitive Ranking”

  1. Just watched the first movie with my mother last night. Haven’t ever watched any of the others.

    It’s good…it’s well-done…I just got the strong impression that the writers didn’t *really* know what they were meaning to say in most of the pseudophilosophical scenes, and just managed to hit the mark by aiming blindly.

    Also, worldbuilding the “real” world in depth (even if they didn’t use any of that on-screen) would have probably helped them set down ideas for the plots of future sequels.

    (My mom liked Equilibrium better. She thinks The Matrix stole from it.)

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    1. The real world limitations were probably all budgetary. It’s a script that really feels like it was molded over years in efforts to get financing, addressing storytelling as well as size concerns.

      Kurt Wimmer, on the commentary for Equilibrium, talks about how they saw the first trailer for the second Matrix at some point early in production, shocked at the visual similarities with Neo having gone from trench coat to almost priestlike garb that, completely coincidentally, looked a lot like Christian Bale’s costume in Equilibrium. I think they were largely just on similar wavelengths, but the first Matrix influenced Equilibrium to some degree.

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