Strange seeing Keanu Reeves and Carrie Anne Moss reprising their roles again; didn't even notice/remember this was coming so something of a personal surprise. The general ambiance seems pretty close to the original, but not quite the same - a recursive glitch within the Matrix universe, if you will.
Don't know how much more can be done with the effects; the preceding movies apparently made use of quite a lot of practical models. Going full digital now might add another layer of uncanny valley-ness to the experience. Wouldn't like this to get to the stage of Marvel/DC string along franchise tactics.
The problem is, I thought the first movie wrapped itself up pretty well already. But I guess it's the quality of the ambiguity that counts; I do hope they get subversive with the recent inane popular adoptions of "red/blue pilling" memes, beyond verbal reframing.
I have to agree. As someone in the storytelling business, the reader/viewer needs some surprises as the story unfolds. The simple question: "Who are you?" leads to "I am The Architect..." This dropping in of new characters must be done seamlessly to move the overall story along. And it was done well. This new version of The Matrix, if you will, appears to happen in an alternate reality. One where Trinity and Neo do not know each other, or perhaps just don't think they do. I strongly suspect that the writer(s) are fully aware that in order to successfully compete with the original they have to leave the big surprises out of this first trailer, yet show a series of interesting images to pique the potential audience's interest. This they did for me. In the U.S., movies are screened before release to an audience that is demographically typical to insure that it will be well received before final release. A few recent films were held up briefly to reshoot a few scenes that the test audiences did not like.
It's my understanding that the first series ended with a reboot: Neo helps the Machines to fight the Virus (Smith) in exchange for the safeguarding of the real free humans (Zion). In doing so, he give himself to them to get access to the virus and fight it (remember how he lean back to get connected).
Hence, it sounds perfectly normal to be given today the story of the awakening of an older Neo inside an evolved Matrix with Trinity somewhere in the story (remember that their craft was jammed crashing through the Machines fortress).
I saw the Matrix trilogy again recently, for the first time since they were newly released (was The Matrix really over ten years ago?). I was impressed with the first of the series when I saw it originally and it has worn well, rich in SF ideas and with a complexity which makes the story in the visually wonderful Avatar seem as simple as a child's cartoon strip. I think that The Matrix is not far behind Blade Runner in the elite group of the best SF films ever made, and it's a lot more inventive.
Sadly the two sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, released four years later following the huge success of the original, were a major disappointment. The impression I get is that the Wachowski brothers poured all of their ideas into The Matrix and were stumped for what to do next. Reloaded has just one really good, original SF scene (and the only one which significantly carries the plot forward); the climactic meeting between Neo and the Architect of the Matrix, the inventor of the virtual existence in which most of humanity is unwittingly trapped. Neo learns that he is the sixth version of himself to face the Architect and that his repeated appearance was due to an inherent flaw in the programming. All the time this meeting is taking place, the wall of TV screens is showing the varied reactions of his predecessors at their meetings with the Architect. As for the rest of the film, the brothers evidently decided to please the teenagers and fill it with combat and car chase scenes. While technically good, these go on and on interminably, well past the point of tedium, until you are praying for the bad guys to kill off the good guys just to put an end to it all. The only relief from this comes from the occasional pretentious speech, which is scarcely an improvement. Amazingly, Reloaded was more successful at the box office than The Matrix. There's no accounting for taste…
Revolutions is better, largely because the plot actually progresses to a conclusion rather than just marking time. Events begin to make some sort of sense - I particularly liked the notion that the evil Mr Smith programme was the inevitable balancing force to Neo's existence - and the ending was satisfactory. The various fight sequences were still tediously long, though, and Trinity's death scene was ludicrously unrealistic and protracted.
The decision to split the sequel to The Matrix into two separate films was presumably motivated purely by money (hey, we've got all this footage, instead of doing a decent editing job let's use all of it and make the fans pay twice over!). This is emphasised by the fact that there is no proper separation between the two; Reloaded ends in the middle of events and Revolutions picks up immediately without any kind of lead-in or introduction, so they need to be seen in quick succession or the viewer will lose track of what's going on. The problem is that there is barely enough worthwhile material to make one decent film out of the pair of them. So come on, brothers, now you've made your pile let's have a proper "directors' cut" which will do exactly that, combining the best one-third of Reloaded and two-thirds of Revolutions to make the single film which always should have been released. Call it The Matrix Revisited if you like! This could make a worthy sequel to The Matrix - even if it still wouldn't be as good.
Making people pay numerous times for one half decent plot is nothing new, anyone remember not once but twice where X-Files concluded a season with a cinema release? Talk about cynical marketing. However, I have been waiting for the proper conclusion to the Matrix which I hope is what we are getting here. To be concluded......