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The Matrix Resurrections builds on itself, like Ultimate Fantasy 7 Remake

Greater than maybe some other movie sequence, the Matrix franchise warrants comparability to video video games. Elements of it have transpired in precise video video games, because of the Wachowskis’ determination to let The Matrix On-line gamers “inherit the storyline” after the unique trilogy. Single-player video games like Enter the Matrix and Path of Neo, made with the Wachowskis’ involvement, additionally posit a weird alternate ending to Neo’s journey. It is smart, then, that The Matrix Resurrections additionally leans arduous into its online game themes.

There are many motion pictures which have become franchises that won’t die, from Ghostbusters (1984) to Ghostbusters (2016) to Ghostbusters (2021). However Resurrections isn’t only a belated sequel; it’s one thing totally different, one thing stranger — however one thing acquainted. On the earth of video video games, there’s a selected time period that’s caught on to explain what Resurrections does: “religious successors.”

Different types of media can have religious successors, too, however there’s a motive that video video games take up virtually the complete Wikipedia entry that defines this time period. On the earth of video games, a sequel that’s constructed on high of the framework of the unique entry typically feels higher to play; in the event you don’t must construct the complete sport world from scratch, you possibly can spend extra time refining the person items, which regularly permits for higher writing, stronger themes, and riskier selections.

Remakes, remasters, and reboots on the earth of video games nonetheless carry status baggage, in the identical method that different media’s revisitations of well-known works can carry the luggage of their predecessors. However online game religious successors even have the power to beat the technical and religious limitations of their previous iterations.

[Ed. note: This story contains spoilers for The Matrix Resurrections and Final Fantasy 7, both the original 1997 game and FF7 Remake.]

In The Matrix Resurrections, Neo, Bugs, and Morpheus stand on a stage, looking at a screen projecting scenes from The Matrix (1999)

Picture: Warner Bros. Footage Worldwide

The Matrix Resurrections updates The Matrix for a contemporary viewers, constructing upon a recognizable pre-existing framework to make clear the sequence’ core themes. It consists of precise footage from the earlier movies as reenactments of main scenes. Some main characters, equivalent to Agent Smith and Morpheus, have been actually recreated by others within the story; recast and reimagined wholesale. Others, like Neo and Trinity, are performed by their unique actors, however these “resurrected” variations of Neo and Trinity have really been constructed from scratch by the Analyst – simply as a online game remake would create new, up to date fashions for its characters.

The online game facet of Resurrections can also be made way more literal throughout the film’s fiction, the place “The Matrix” is a trilogy of video video games created by designer Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves). However, because it seems, that solely occurred in a brand new model of the Matrix the place Thomas has been trapped, and which he should escape so he can rediscover his true id – Neo.

Till Neo makes that escape, nevertheless, he can inform his world is pretend and incorrect. The video video games he made symbolize a reminiscence deep inside him; their model of the world is one which’s closest to the reality, however they don’t provide the identical sense of freedom that really escaping the Matrix would afford. Neo retains making an attempt to probe that previous reminiscence, although, even going as far as to program and mess around with a brand new model of his useless good friend Morpheus on a hidden server. It’s a resurrection and a reinvention, and shortly we study that Neo’s resurrection is simply as literal; the designer behind this new Matrix has introduced Neo and his lover Trinity again to life, reconstructing and reanimating the corpses they left behind in Revolutions. Neo and Trinity’s stunning eager for each other now serves because the inhumane battery for yet one more dastardly system of management.

In this image from The Matrix Resurrections, Neo and Trinity lean towards one another for a kiss, while backlit by sunlight

Picture: Warner Bros. Footage Worldwide

Like the opposite Matrix motion pictures earlier than it, Resurrections is a love story, nevertheless it’s additionally a commentary on the truth that Lana Wachowski knew the Matrix franchise would proceed whether or not she and her sister got here again to helm it or not. When Neo unmasks the Analyst, he receives no solutions that fulfill him. He and Trinity have solely been resurrected for one motive: To energy the machine of the Matrix, of Warner Bros., of Hollywood, of capitalism. After they arrive to grips with the unsavory, nonconsensual circumstances of their having been pressured again to life — a painful, draining type of life — Neo and Trinity escape collectively.

However Neo and Trinity don’t keep away ceaselessly. On the movie’s finish, they re-enter the matrix that when entrapped them. This time, they’re in management, able to overcoming the Analyst and each different limitation positioned upon them. The chances are infinite: They will free different individuals and present them the world outdoors of the Matrix, or they will rebuild the Matrix into one thing totally different – or each. They’ve defeated a very powerful enemy, which is the system that pressured them again into their customary narrative. When the display screen fades to black and Neo and Trinity return to the realm of our creativeness, they’re really free.

To cite one other remake, “The unknown journey will proceed.” That’s the ending line of Ultimate Fantasy 7 Remake, the online game that Resurrections most known as to thoughts for me. Like Resurrections, FF7 Remake begins out acquainted, however then it transforms into one thing fully new.

Collectively, we are able to forged off the yoke of destiny

Cloud Strife stands in the darkness, facing the Shinra building that contains the first Mako Reactor, in Final Fantasy 7 Remake

Picture: Sq. Enix

Ultimate Fantasy 7 first got here out in 1997, solely a few years earlier than The Matrix. However not like The Matrix, the unique FF7 doesn’t maintain up effectively.

It’s a prolonged slog to play, devoid of recent quality-of-life conveniences like save states and problem settings. Nonetheless, its story of a reluctant, laconic hero who will get dragged right into a fantastical journey and finally should face the scariest reality of all — his true id, buried deep underneath layers of denial and trauma — nonetheless resonates a few years later, the identical method The Matrix nonetheless does. FF7 grew to become the same flashpoint for online game storytelling as effectively, proving {that a} sport with simplistic, blocky sprites may current a human story of grief, trauma, and love.

For years afterward, players begged for a remake of Ultimate Fantasy 7. On this discussion board thread from 2002, followers speculated about an FF7 remake for the PlayStation 2. Rumors and hopes would proceed all the way in which to the PlayStation 4, for which FF7 Remake was lastly introduced in 2015. The sport didn’t really come out till 2020, and by that time, expectations had been excessive, to say the least. But FF7 Remake surpassed them — not by giving gamers a prettier, modernized model of the story they remembered, however by upending the complete paradigm of what a remake may do and be.

Cloud, Tifa, and Barret stand together on a balcony, looking out at a sunset in Final Fantasy 7 Remake

Picture: Sq. Enix

Aerith, backlit by the streets of Wall Market, flashes a gentle smile in Final Fantasy 7 Remake

Picture: Sq. Enix

The city skyline and sunset in The Matrix Resurrections

Picture: Warner Bros. Footage Worldwide

Trinity looks at Neo in this image from The Matrix Resurrections

Picture: Warner Bros. Worldwide

A few of the adjustments had been simple, albeit far-reaching. For instance, Ultimate Fantasy 7 Remake has a way more complicated battle system; constructing upon the core mechanics of the unique whereas nonetheless feeling considerably higher to play. FF7 additionally altered the notorious Honeybee Inn scene — little greater than a transphobic joke within the unique, now a joyfully queer dance scene. These had been the types of refreshing adjustments I’d have anticipated, as did most gamers. However FF7 Remake dared a lot, way more.

Any participant who’s acquainted with the unique FF7 is aware of the story and the place it leads. FF7 Remake makes this familiarity right into a literal gameplay impediment for the participant, introducing ghostly apparitions that drive characters to stay to the unique path specified by the 1997 sport. The reputational baggage of the sport’s predecessor turns into an enemy the participant should battle to beat. As FF7 Remake unfolds, the characters discover methods to veer off the trail, splintering their world into a number of alternate realities. Earlier than taking part in FF7 Remake, gamers thought they knew how the story would go, however by the point the credit rolled, these assumptions had been proved incorrect. FF7 Remake brings new which means to the “remake” in its title by remaking FF7 into one thing else fully new.

The Matrix Resurrections makes the same gambit, though the essential response to Lana Wachowski’s solo revisiting of the sisters’ well-known franchise has not been as joyful because the response to FF7 Remake. Maybe that’s as a result of Resurrections ought to be considered with the same online game lens. Carolyn Petit of Kotaku put it this manner in her article “What The Matrix Resurrections says about video video games:

Inside the world of the movies, what’s the Matrix, in any case, however an elaborate MMO, one individuals don’t know they’re taking part in however which nonetheless has programs that dictate what’s and isn’t potential? Equally, most video games are made up of interlocking programs that dictate — or attempt to dictate — how it’s that gamers work together with the sport, what we are able to and can’t do … In a method, I consider Neo, Trinity, and the opposite members of Morpheus’ crew in The Matrix as akin to speedrunners — they’re doing issues throughout the programs of the “sport” that almost all gamers merely can’t as a result of the programs aren’t designed to permit these issues.

Neo walks through a lit-up doorway on the rooftops, guided by Bugs, in The Matrix Resurrections

Picture: Warner Bros. Worldwide Footage

Resurrections doesn’t solely current a remaking of the world of The Matrix, within the sense that the Analyst has rebuilt the Matrix and rebuilt Trinity and Neo to energy it. Resurrections additionally introduces the idea of a “God mode” for Neo and Trinity on the film’s finish; they’ve graduated past hackers or speedrunners, into precise builders. In the meantime, since Lana Wachowski co-created the unique Matrix movies and idea, she will be able to function in “God mode” as effectively, constructing a brand new story on high of the scaffolding of a number of established predecessors.

However simply because Lana Wachowski may do it doesn’t imply she needed to. Warner Bros. has been asking the Wachowski sisters to make a sequel “yearly,” EW reported.

“It by no means was fascinating to me as an concept to proceed it,” Lana Wachowski stated, through EW’s protection of her panel on the Berlin Worldwide Literature Pageant. However then, based on Wachowski, she skilled excessive loss: “My dad died, then this good friend died, then my mother died. I didn’t actually know course of that form of grief. I hadn’t skilled it that intently.”

One evening, unable to sleep, the thought for Resurrections sprang into her thoughts. “I couldn’t have my mother and pop … but abruptly I had Neo and Trinity, arguably the 2 most necessary characters in my life,” she stated. “It was instantly comforting to have these two characters alive once more, and it’s super-simple. You possibly can take a look at it and say: ‘Okay, these two individuals die, and okay, carry these two individuals again to life, and oh, doesn’t that really feel good?’ Yeah, it did! It’s easy, and that is what artwork does and that is what tales do. They consolation us and so they’re necessary.”

Neo, backlit by a blank white screen, in the Matrix Resurrections

Picture: Warner Bros. Worldwide Footage

Retreading an previous reminiscence might be painful, however underneath the fitting circumstances, it may also be therapeutic, affording a way of management and stability. You understand what’s going to occur, so you understand what to anticipate — and, possibly this time, you possibly can change it. As Emily VanDerWerff defined in her evaluation of Resurrections, the film begins within the realm of the acquainted but uncanny: “The very first scene is a largely devoted re-creation of the primary scene from the primary movie, with characters who quantity to Matrix superfans providing commentary on what’s new and totally different.” However as Resurrections unfolds, its recreation turns into extra uncanny, extra wacky. The brand new model of Morpheus doesn’t philosophize on finish; as an alternative, he interrupts his recitation of his predecessor’s well-known strains with “blah, blah, blah.”

Like FF7 Remake, this once-familiar world can be remade into one thing new — and thank goodness. VanDerWerff continues:

If we followers demand that our favourite characters return repeatedly, then we by no means afford them any form of last peace or closure. We’re asking them to consistently relive their very own worst moments, within the identify of our leisure. We’re inadvertently trapping them in a trauma spiral, after which in tales that insist you possibly can confront your trauma and blow it up in the event you’re sufficiently motivated.

The main characters of Final Fantasy 7 Remake face a mysterious, fateful whirlwind together

Picture: Sq. Enix

Ultimate Fantasy 7 followers have already begun to invest and fantasize in regards to the elements of the unique sport’s story that they wish to change. Particularly, followers have questioned if Remake’s future installments will undo the sport’s most memorable character dying. Will FF7 Remake create a model of Cloud’s story that doesn’t traumatize him as deeply? Already the sport has launched the thought of an alternate universe wherein Zack, a beloved character who died defending Cloud, someway survives that fateful battle. Will that actuality collide with the one which we all know?

I’m unsure how FF7 Remake’s follow-up video games will reply that query. Earlier than I noticed Resurrections, I’d have stated I didn’t wish to see the unique sport’s deaths reversed. Now, I’m not so positive anymore. Due to Lana Wachowski’s God mode, I can see how retelling a narrative with resurrected characters — even characters whose dying mattered to the story, the primary time round — may end up in a really compelling and therapeutic journey.

I do hope that the Matrix sequence doesn’t proceed, although, and that Neo and Trinity get to stay free in all of our imaginations. As each gamer is aware of, taking part in on God mode will get actually boring after some time, and Resurrections has nowhere else to go from right here. That’s effective. It was price unlocking every thing earlier than powering down the sport system and letting all of it go.

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