Movies and television find it hard to describe video games. They tend to present the games as generic arcade titles or as incredibly complete virtual realities, neither of which capture the typical experience of playing one. Corn Matrix resurrections, a film about virtual reality, achieved one of my favorite versions by embracing the unrealism of its own world.
Below I will talk about a few specific plot points of Matrix resurrections, which premiered in theaters and on HBO Max yesterday. This is a movie that I found a lot of issues with but that a lot of my colleagues from other publications enjoyed, and if you don’t want slight spoilers you should stop reading now.
Very well. Let’s talk about games.
Matrix resurrections opens with protagonist Neo living inside a new iteration of The Matrix, a simulated reality designed by machines to keep captive humans tame. First, we learn that The matrix itself now exists inside The Matrix – but not as a movie. Instead, Neo (living as Thomas Anderson, just like in the first film) is a renowned game designer who has created a world-famous video game trilogy with the same plot, characters, catchphrases, and slogans. same stylistic elements as the first three. Matrix movie theater.
But while much of the film is devoted to discussing these games, the film stays away from the details. We know the first installment won an award in 1999, the graphics are detailed enough that a Matrix-trapped Trinity could recognize its in-game counterpart two decades later, and it’s implied to have some sort of linear narrative. with a main character, so it’s probably not a real world version Online matrix MMORPG. (Maybe a third-person shooter? An immersive simulation? A point-and-click adventure game?) When characters refer to scenes from the games, director Lana Wachowski makes liberal use of Matrix sequences filmed to illustrate them; they could be live cutscenes, but they are never explicitly described as such.
Resurrections Probably leaves the details of the games vague as they are a symbolic part of a story about art in general and the experiences of the Wachowski in particular. But intentionally or not, it’s an interesting choice within the fiction of the series. This is one of the few times we can envision the rough edges of the Matrix beyond being an excuse for the superpowers – a moment that is potentially unrealistic in a very realistically.
In our world, virtual spaces are usually about evocative symbols, not precise simulation. Developers bend so-called objective rules to create realistic tension. Prestige storytelling games – the genre Neo apparently works in – are teeming with what game designer Robert Yang has called “primary gamisms”: illogical conventions people cease to notice when they focus on them. progress and achievements. Gamers can run around in a first-person shooter (even in a VR headset!) Without constantly wondering why they don’t have a full body. They implicitly understand that a lock pick mechanism is a simplified representation of opening a door, and depending on the game, they cannot open the door by hitting it or running their hand through a gap.
The original Matrix depicts his simulation as a hyper-realistic space that can be hacked to expose its unreality. Corn Matrix resurrections alludes to an eminently recognizable world of quick and dirty shortcuts. As far as we know, there has never been a literally playable game. Matrix installment – just something that leaves an impression after moments of the most amazing game you’ve ever seen. The film is not purely a metatextual device for the audience – it’s a translation of how people inside the Matrix remember the experience, how many of us remember the experience. our own favorite games with better graphics or more intuitive controls. (Unfortunately this Is it that deprive me of imagining Trinity struggling through a convoluted 20-year-old point-and-click interface to learn the truth about reality.)
This would reflect all the principles that Resurrections’ villain – a program dubbed The Analyst – suggests that its Matrix is based on. It is a place where, to some extent, people understand that they are being fooled and don’t care. They like the comfort of fondly remembering old stories at the expense of anything new or real. They experience things as someone told them to experience them, even though there is nothing in it.
To reiterate, I think Matrix resurrections doesn’t do a great job developing a lot of its themes. But it handles this particular piece in a perfect marriage of style and history – although I would have loved to see Carrie-Anne Moss play a real fake. Matrix Game.