The Matrix Resurrections Looks Like The Gremlins 2 Or Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 Of The Matrix Series, And That's Exciting

The trailer for "The Matrix Resurrections" is here, and it looks great. It also looks weird, and that's what has me truly excited for this sequel. It would've been very easy for director and co-writer Lana Wachowski to play it safe and more or less recycle ideas from the original trilogy. Instead, "The Matrix Resurrections" is taking a much different approach — the type of approach taken by weird, misunderstood sequels like "Gremlins 2: The New Batch" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2." Those were sequels that said: "Instead of giving you exactly what you saw in the first movie, we're going to take what you loved into weird, goofy places. It's not going to be what you expect." 

"I've Had Dreams That Just Weren't Dreams"

The "Matrix Resurrections" trailer is full of echoes from the original film — the deja vu cat; the dojo fight; the red and blue pills; a character with a white rabbit tattoo — all of which look slightly different than what we'd expect. There's an off-kilter quality to the whole thing; we think we've seen this before. As Keanu Reeves' Neo says as the trailer starts, "I've had dreams that aren't just dreams." Speaking of Reeves, when we last saw his character Thomas Anderson/Neo in "The Matrix" trilogy, he was dead. But now he's very much alive — and seemingly has no memory of the events of "The Matrix."

This is an incredibly weird, unconventional approach for a Hollywood blockbuster sequel. Imagine if they made a new "Fast and Furious" movie where all the characters had zero memory of their previous adventures. Or a "Mission: Impossible" sequel where Ethan Hunt is suddenly working a desk job and has no interest in risking his life. Sequels are traditionally continuations of the movie that came before; and not only that, they're prone to recreating what we loved the first time. 

"The Matrix Resurrections" is certainly recreating things, but it's taking that recreation in a whole new direction. The sequels I'm most reminded of from this trailer are "Gremlins 2" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2." I don't mean tone-wise, or even content-wise. I mean that the approach Lana Wachowski is taking here seems akin to the approaches of directors Joe Dante and Tobe Hooper. Both Dante and Hooper were returning to helm sequels to their successful hits, and such a task brings with it a certain amount of baggage and expectations. 

Given far more control over "Gremlins 2" than the first film, director Joe Dante set out to make something that he described as "unconventional." The result was a film that was a "Gremlins" sequel that made fun of the idea of a "Gremlins" sequel. It wasn't mocking the first movie in a mean way. It was, instead, the creators of the original film having fun — and more freedom — with the concept. The best example of this probably involves Phoebe Cates telling another traumatic story from her childhood. In the original movie, there's a harrowing moment where Cates' character reveals why she hates Christmas: her father broke his neck and got lodged in the chimney of their house when she was a kid. In "Gremlins 2," we get a similar moment where Cates uses the same dramatic intonation to deliver a speech about how she saw a man who looked exactly like Abraham Lincoln on Honest Abe's birthday. It's so wonderfully goofy while also recalling the famous moment from the previous film.  

Tobe Hooper took things to an even further extreme with "Texas Chainsaw 2." You might expect a sequel to once again involve doomed youths who take a wrong turn and end up running afoul of Leatherface and his kin. And indeed, future sequels would stick rigidly to this formula. But Hooper wasn't interested in that. Instead, he put together an extremely dark comedy that turns the cannibal family from the first film into Three Stooges-like loons, bonking each other on the head and engaging in truly silly actions. It's so far removed from the horrifying nightmare of the first film that you might get whiplash. 

Back to The Matrix

I don't want to give you the idea that I'm saying "The Matrix Resurrections" is going to be a full-blown parody of "The Matrix." I don't think that, and that's not what the trailer suggests. But I do think the film is going to re-examine the events of the first film through a whole new lens. What does it mean to be "The One" now? What is the Matrix now? Who are these characters that we think we already know? Why does it look like there's suddenly a new, younger version of Morpheus? Is Neo even alive still? Is that even Neo? These are just a tiny fraction of questions this trailer raises, and those questions are thrilling. 

It would've been the easiest thing in the world for Lana Wachowski to take that Warner Bros. money and give us a regurgitation. Instead, she's following in the footsteps of Tobe Hooper and Joe Dante and exerting the type of control the Wachowskis likely did not have on the first film. "What if we took what you loved about 'The Matrix,'" this film seems to be asking, "and made you rethink all of it?" What if, indeed.

"The Matrix Resurrections" opens December 22, 2021.