The reviews are in for The Matrix: Resurrections – and critics are unsure what to make of the film.
The Matrix last signed off with Revolutions in 2003, leaving fans waiting 18 long years for the latest chapter.
And although the film has already premiered in the US and Canada, Australians will be kept waiting until Boxing Day.
The wait has proven too long for some, with many resorting to scouring the internet for reviews, reactions and sneak peeks at the film to tide them over until they get to watch the film.
And not all the reviews are as glowing as you might expect.
Resurrections‘ major recasting looked to have given the film a breath of fresh air.
Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss and Jada Pinkett Smith reprised their roles as Neo, Trinity and Niobe.
But they were joined by newcomers Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Morpheus, Jonathan Groff as Smith, Neil Patrick Harris as The Analyst, Priyanka Chopra Jonas as Sati, and Jessica Henwick as Bugs.
The film also made a major change behind the camera, with Lilly Wachowski stepping away from the project and sister Lana directing it solo.
Yet the initial wave of reviews suggests fans and critics alike are divided over whether the changes have paid off – and whether the long-awaited sequel was worth the wait.
Banking on nostalgia
From Blade Runner to Bridget Jones’s Diary, the long-awaited sequel and series reboot is nothing new.
Some revivals prove themselves to be worthwhile, bringing new concepts and ideas to the table.
But others pray the audience will find value and enjoyment in any morsel of nostalgia, leading to a jumbled mess of recycled parts.
Fans hoping Resurrections would fall into the first category were unfortunately proven wrong, wrote IGN’s Amelia Emberwing.
“The Matrix Resurrections is the kind of film that will go down in cult history because it is so laughably bad.”
The Matrix seemed like a close-to-impossible franchise to resuscitate, after the third film ended with the death of its two leading characters.
But with Resurrections bringing back Neo and Trinity, Variety’s Peter Debruge said the film spends the bulk of its running time explaining the reason for its existence.
“The great irony of The Matrix Resurrections is that a property that was once so appealing for being cutting edge is now being mined for its nostalgia value,” Debruge wrote.
“This far-from-radical add-on seems distractingly preoccupied with justifying its own existence, rather than seeking a way to take fans to the next level.”
A difficult task
Other critics have argued that it’s simply impossible to make a perfect sequel to The Matrix – given the massive impact of the first film.
Motherboard staff writer Gita Jackson said The Matrix‘s previous sequels, Reloaded and Revolutions, were strong movies in their own right.
But she said they “had the misfortune to be the sequels to one of the best movies ever made”.
A polarising film
On a slightly more positive note, online film reviewer Kevin Lee said Resurrections was “very flawed”, but also praised its ambition.
“Long plodding, and exposition driven. But it’s also directed/acted with so much sincerity and eagerness to do something new.”
Vox.com film critic Emily VanDerWerff admitted it was a polarising movie, which makes us all the more curious to check it out for ourselves.
A new series?
Many fans and reviewers have speculated that the fourth film marks the start of a new series.
It’s a theory that co-writer and director Wachowski has strongly denied.
After 18 years of adamantly saying she would never make another Matrix film, Wachowski said she wrote the story when she was struck by tragedy, with no intention to ever make it into a movie.
“I had a tragedy in my life. My parents passed away and I needed something to help me with the grief, and inventing a story where two people came back to life was healing and comforting.”
Although Wachowski may not necessarily be planning a new series, the soon-to-come box office figures may prompt the studio to make this a reality.
On the ‘green carpet’
Also making headlines was the fashion from the ‘green carpet’ at the film’s premiere.
More specifically, the custom Oscar de la Renta dress wore by Moss.
The dress paid tribute to the iconic green Matrix code, with twinkling green and silver sequins trickling up the hem of the dress.
Australian fans will have the chance to judge the latest instalment of the franchise in cinemas on Boxing Day.