The matrix The franchise is a cinematic keystone in several ways, not least because of the thematic exchanges between science fiction, action and philosophy. It takes the cyberpunk genre to levels never seen before in live-action, mixing a variety of techniques, from eyesight morphing and bullet time to computer-generated environments that were almost realistic (for the time).
While the Wachowski’s crown jewel has left a lasting cinematic legacy and influenced new directors, there are CGI footage that pales in comparison to what’s available today. That being said, The matrix isn’t entirely outdated when it comes to the ingenuity of its visual effects scenes.
ten Hold Up: the majestic techno-caverns of Sion
As the last bastion against the “evil” Machines, Zion is a gigantic underground city with a surprisingly large population. Built in a series of caverns near the Earth’s core, it stretches from military-themed docks to the mechanical belly of maintenance machines.
Most of Sion’s limited space is converted into living quarters, which are themselves superimposed in a complex network. And there is the rave party that takes place deep in the city: a show of bodies showing the essence of what it means to be human.
9 Badly Aged: The Battle Scenes of Nebuchadnezzar
The interior design of the Nebuchadnezzar, holograms and all, is spectacular, but the ship’s combat sequences leave a lot to be desired. It looks like an object floating in a vacuum in most cases, with a major exception being when Niobe maneuvers the Nebuchadnezzar with skillful precision.
More importantly, the exterior of the ship doesn’t look as realistic when viewed through today’s cinematography, making it a relic of a bygone era.
8 Hold Up: Neo blasting an entire block in its wake
Neo comes out of the architect’s room with the strength of a thousand suns, heading towards Trinity’s location at a speed “faster than anything. [Link has] already seen.”
Buildings parade as he flies, Superman-style, while smashing thousands of windows and dragging cars in the air in his wake. Trinity dies despite Neo’s best efforts, forcing him to restart his heart with the power of the Matrix Code. The whole sequence is spellbinding.
7 Badly aged: mechanical sentries crawl everywhere
War machines known as Sentinels invade the world beyond the Matrix, their entire existence apparently revolving around the crushing of rebellious humans (and, ultimately, the end of Zion).
However, they can perform other functions unknown within their large ecosystem. Sentinels look like squid, which is why they’re commonly referred to as “squids,” but their tentacle design doesn’t look as terrifying now as it did when the movies came out.
6 Hold Up: elastic / liquid mirror sequences
The iconic liquid mirror is one of the most memorable scenes from The matrix trilogy. When Neo swallows the red pill, he undergoes a dream sequence in which he touches a mysterious mirror. It thaws and liquefies on his hand and body, an alarming experience for anyone.
The Mercurial Mirror is so powerful that it makes a comeback in Matrix resurrections, as seen when Yahya Abdul-Mateen’s character goes through something similar in the trailer.
5 Badly aged: the movements of the twins
The story of the Twins, a pair of seemingly identical programs that work for the Merovingians, is fascinating. Unfortunately, the films hardly delve into their history, except to express confusion as to their origins.
Although they do offer viewers some real choice battles during The Matrix Reloaded‘s Freeway Chase, they encroach on the suspension of disbelief as they gradually move in and out of their bodily forms. The twins are ultimately defeated and never reappear.
4 Hold Up: Neo’s matrix vision – The world in green code
When Neo first dies, Trinity begs him to return, citing the Oracle’s prophecy that “man [she] loved would be the one. His true kiss of love works, except Neo returns with a vastly improved arsenal of new superpowers.
Neo discovers he can visualize the entire Matrix through code, scintillating green scripts that squirm on every surface in the encrypted illusion. This scene is as fascinating today as it was in 1999.
3 Badly Aged: Bullet Time is Aging Technology
The matrix popularized the concept of bullet time, revealing supersonic movements with time-lapse techniques and slowing them down for the audience. It was absolutely amazing to watch Neo dodge and / or deflect a hail of bullets, as time itself slows down to crawl around him.
However, bullet time has been used so often and in so many different franchises – movies, TV shows, video games – that the effect has all but lost its impact on viewers in the 2020s.
2 Hold Up: Anytime Agent Smith Replicates
Hugo Weaving’s Agent Smith is a complex villain loaded with a curious paradox: he wants to be free but blames humans for wanting the same. Although Neo “removes” him, he manages to resurrect himself with much greater power, most important of which is the ability to incorporate anything and anyone into himself.
Agent Smith’s narcissistic tendencies force him to take matters into his own hands, literally, by creating countless clones of himself to help him complete his tasks. It’s always a pleasure to see Neo single-handedly fighting a horde of Smiths.
1 Badly aged: armored personnel units in Sion
The Armored Personnel Unit or APU is a common sci-fi presence of Aliens (1986) to Avatar (2009), and all the rest. It is essentially a mechanical walker that serves as both armor and armory, giving the Zionians a chance to fight against the swarm of relentless Sentinels determined to eradicate humanity.
However, these machines seem rather clunky and inefficient, not to mention incredibly difficult to maintain (considering there would be tens of thousands of APUs in Sion).
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