The Matrix (Lana Wachowski/Lilly Wachowski, 1999, USA/Australia)

The Matrix is and was a true cultural phenomenon, its reverberations still being felt in 2022. Certain aspects of the film, such as the "red pill", have become part of popular culture in a much broader sense than their original intention. Certainly, the film was one of the first forms of popular entertainment to introduce themes about the conception of reality. Baudrillard was required reading on the set, and his conception of the Simulacra and Simulation colors the film heavily. Of course, the film has roots going back to Plato's allegory of the cave. It is rare to find a film that is so popular and yet manages to translate deep philosophical concepts in an easy way for audiences to digest.

What makes the film work is perhaps the film's ability to not get caught up in these ideas. The film can appeal both to the head and the gut. The choreographed gunfights in the slow-motion became iconic for a good reason - while such techniques had been used before in Hong Kong cinema, nobody had seen them in an American movie before. The movie's extensive storyboarding and graphical components no doubt led to the sense of it being fully realized. Interestingly, the Wachowskis have not been able to replicate the success of this franchise with other ventures. Their two latest films - Cloud Atlas and Jupiter Ascending - were notably polarizing. Still, it is impressive that they were able to birth the Matrix franchise, as well as the franchise's longevity. With a new film out this year, the franchise and universe show no signs of stopping. While it may not be the best film ever, the film is iconic for a reason and at least worth revisiting as a cultural touchstone of the 1990s (and into the 2000s). Not only for fans of sci-fi.



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