The Legacy of The Matrix

10 Years of 1999: We explore ten movies that owe their existence to the Wachowskis' existential tale.

The Matrix

10 Years Since 1999

1999 was one of the most important years for modern cinema. From defining originals like The Matrix and Fight Club to sleeper favourites like Office Space and Election, 1999 was a landmark year for the internet generation of movie fans and set a high standard for the big screen as we headed into the new millennium. Ten years on, we're celebrating a remarkable twelve months of movies with new features around some of the year's best and most important releases.

The big science fiction blockbuster of 1999 was going to be Star Wars, Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, but by comparison to The Matrix, which took audiences by surprise on its release exactly ten years ago today, it turned out to be the most eagerly-awaited sci-fi film of 1978. The Matrix was the phenomenon which made George Lucas' serial-style adventure seem as quaint as tie-dye loon pants. It did the proper sci-fi job of surfing the zeitgeist exactly in every single aspect: The long leather coats and cool shades (influenced by the look of Chow-Yun Fat in John Woo movies). The pounding techno music which would have given John Williams a headache. The frenzy of paranoia about computers whipped up by the millennium bug (remember that?). The notion that a computer geek could be an outlaw rebel hero. The end-of-century sensation that an apocalypse was coming even if all our Windows 98 platform PCs kept on working. And, of course, the notion that Keanu Reeves was potentially the wisest dude on the planet.

The Matrix didn't come from nowhere, and indeed arrived in the midst of a batch of similar projects it left standing commercially. Like Star Wars in 1977, it was the film of its moment -- it even dared to set its artificial city in the late 20th Century as if aware of a sell-by date -- and has seeped into subsequent movies which have either blatantly or subtly drawn from aspects of The Matrix -- ranging from its action-friendly fashion sense to franchise-building business plan. Join RT as we explore ten movies released in the ten years since The Matrix came out that owe a little something to one of 1999's most exciting releases.

Comments

Dave J

Dave J

The first movie was the best even though the idea came from the movie Dark City. Action wise 2 & 3 wasn't so great and had way too much CGI and wire- fu. Hardly had any Woo slow-motion gun action.

Mar 31 - 11:31 AM

Joe Utichi

Joe Utichi

Dave: The Matrix was already deep in production when Dark City was released. They were shot on the same soundstage though, The Matrix quickly following Dark City, and, in fact, The Matrix even reused some of the rooftop sets they built for Dark City.

Mar 31 - 11:36 AM

Shatter24

Jeremiah Rancourt

Thanks Kim,

Very well written article. I can't believe 10 years has passed since The Matrix came out. What will be the next big sci fi/action film that influences cinema for a decade? Have we already seen it? My money is on "The Dark Knight"; but will it be as influential as the Matrix? Only time will tell. I'll think about this a little longer and write up my thoughts at www.maineville.com.

Mar 31 - 11:43 AM

randal1013

Randal 1013

shatter - i think TDK does have an influence. i've read multiple articles about studios wanting to reboot movie franchises in a darker tone after seeing how good and successful TDK has been.

Mar 31 - 12:26 PM

nogard46

joe smith

enough with the TDk bull crap! Are you fanboys still at it???

TDK is so beyond over rated! Over Hyped, over bloated piece of garbage! the movie was forgetable the moment the credits rolled! I really do hope studios dont follow TDk's example, I dont want to see more movies with ZERO PLOT, over use of Violence and gore, and bland and stiff acting, (Save Heath, yes he did fine). I think Nolan stole TDK from a series of movie that came before, you may have heard of these movie they also had zero plot, exploitation of violence, they're called SAW MOVIES! TDK=SAW

Mar 31 - 12:57 PM

White Cross

Jonathan Petrychyn

The Dark Knight had plenty of plot, substance, and will be remembered for years not only because of the fanboys, but because it is a truly revolutionary piece of cinema in both the comic-book and crime drama genres. Like the Matrix, it will have an influence on cinema because it did so well and because both audiences and critics whole-heartedly embraced it, which is a rare feat in today's society. They're already talking about rebooting the critically panned Fantastic Four and Daredevil in a darker, grittier style, obviously taking their cue from The Dark Knight and Iron Man.

Mar 31 - 03:00 PM

Max P.

Max Parker

Excellent article.

Actually I believe WALL-E was more influenced by the Sega Genesis game Vectorman. Seriously, look it up.

Mar 31 - 11:54 AM

vashfanatic

Martha Boatright

While some of these are dead-on, a lot of these connections are really strained. "Momento"? "Wall-E"? Seriously?

Mar 31 - 12:19 PM

randal1013

Randal 1013

shatter - i think TDK does have an influence. i've read multiple articles about studios wanting to reboot movie franchises in a darker tone after seeing how good and successful TDK has been.

Mar 31 - 12:26 PM

LakersFan-BostonSucks

Matt St. John

Couldn't agree more with the first page of this article, 1999 was, for my generation, a turning point in cinema. The Matrix, Fight Club, Blair Witch, Sixth Sense, American Beauty, South Park, all movies that are still referenced frequently 10 years later!

In the years since I've seen some great films (Lord of the Rings topping the list) but no movie has had the same kind of influence on pop-culture (or society for that matter) as the ones I mentioned above. 1999, GFY (Great F-ing Year for movies!)

Mar 31 - 12:45 PM

nogard46

joe smith

enough with the TDk bull crap! Are you fanboys still at it???

TDK is so beyond over rated! Over Hyped, over bloated piece of garbage! the movie was forgetable the moment the credits rolled! I really do hope studios dont follow TDk's example, I dont want to see more movies with ZERO PLOT, over use of Violence and gore, and bland and stiff acting, (Save Heath, yes he did fine). I think Nolan stole TDK from a series of movie that came before, you may have heard of these movie they also had zero plot, exploitation of violence, they're called SAW MOVIES! TDK=SAW

Mar 31 - 12:57 PM

White Cross

Jonathan Petrychyn

The Dark Knight had plenty of plot, substance, and will be remembered for years not only because of the fanboys, but because it is a truly revolutionary piece of cinema in both the comic-book and crime drama genres. Like the Matrix, it will have an influence on cinema because it did so well and because both audiences and critics whole-heartedly embraced it, which is a rare feat in today's society. They're already talking about rebooting the critically panned Fantastic Four and Daredevil in a darker, grittier style, obviously taking their cue from The Dark Knight and Iron Man.

Mar 31 - 03:00 PM

jokerboy1991

jack giroux

Didn't Being John Malkovich come out in 1999 too? If so, then thats the greatest year of movies ever. I remember seeing The Matrix when it first came to video, awesome! Such a great movie. Also while there are some connections to Dark City, I would hardly call it a rip off- though some of there themes are the same. I am also a defender of the Matrix sequels. Yes they are crushing disappointments, but those movies on a technical level are pretty incredible. So I do enjoy the sequels.... they also look amazing on Blu Ray, anyone else have the box set? Also there's this really good book called REBELS ON THE BACKLOT and it talks about the big director's of the 1990's and how they changed things up- QT, Spike Jonze, David O. Russel, David Fincher, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Steven Soderbergh were the directors talked about in the book.

Mar 31 - 01:00 PM

Dario Z.

Dario Zampaglione

I get most of the references, but i think you forgot the primal reference: no action movie after the matrix could got away with fight scenes that didn't have wire fu. I dunno i remember bulletproof monk and charly's angels for example (i'm sure there's more)

Mar 31 - 01:03 PM

BUCK69

JIM GRONEFELD

I'll agree that the Matrix was cool beyond cool. It blew me away the first time that I saw it. But in retrospect, it really seems to me to be a matter of style over substance. The plot borrows heavily from a number of earlier movies and sci-fi stories. So much so that it could hardly be called ground-breaking or unique. Was it stylistically influential? No argument. But I'd hardly assign it any kind of legacy.

Mar 31 - 01:13 PM

inactive user

Jared King

I love "The Matrix" for the style and plot, but I always found Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith underated. Smith is a great villain. Neo is a great hero. And Morpheus is a great mentor. I love this movie! 10 out of 10.

Mar 31 - 01:14 PM

Feat747

B. Hashim

I'm surprised no one has mentioned this yet. I guess I'll have to do it. The Matrix stylistically and visually borrowed heavily from Japanese animation. A good example of this is Ghost In The Shell. The slow mo action sequences were obviously influenced by anime. It was like Wachowskis brought Japanese animation to life.

Mar 31 - 01:29 PM

jokerboy1991

jack giroux

Yeah the Wachowski brothers have always said that they borrowed heavily from Japanese anime. I think the movies ideas are similar, but I'm not going to say there stolen.
Also Agent Smith is awesome and one of the best villains ever, he was still even awesome in the sequels. I love that end battle in the third movie, despite the conclusion not totally making sense.

Mar 31 - 02:41 PM

Soybomb65

Justin Webb

Wow....so this one was left off. Go see Charlie's Angels....it came out just after the Matrix. Not only does it rip off the techno/music video style fight scenes, but Cameron Diaz even steals Trinity's flying crane kick from the beginning of the Matrix. How they got away with constant, blatant knockoffs was a joke! (But I do like watching Crispin Glover fight the girls!)

Mar 31 - 02:16 PM

Soybomb65

Justin Webb

Ah Dario Z....missed it. Yea you nailed it. The first movie I thought of was Charlie's Angels....Equilibrium was an obvious choice that I still enjoyed. "Gun-kata"....it's beyond ridiculous, but makes for great watching! If you can suspend your disbelief enough to indulge in the rest of the story, then you have to just go with it.

Mar 31 - 02:18 PM

jokerboy1991

jack giroux

Yeah the Wachowski brothers have always said that they borrowed heavily from Japanese anime. I think the movies ideas are similar, but I'm not going to say there stolen.
Also Agent Smith is awesome and one of the best villains ever, he was still even awesome in the sequels. I love that end battle in the third movie, despite the conclusion not totally making sense.

Mar 31 - 02:41 PM

arendr

Arend Anton

I've only seen the first Matrix movie, and for a reason. I really didn't think it was special. I must be the only person on the planet who felt that way, though.

Mar 31 - 02:46 PM

Jon R.

Jon Rios

No your not...The Matrix has had some ground breaking effects in it, but I'm sorry to this day I find this movie to be so overrated and boring. It took me a long time to make it through the whole movie. I know it had neat ideas and what not...but please LAME

Mar 31 - 03:11 PM

White Cross

Jonathan Petrychyn

The Dark Knight had plenty of plot, substance, and will be remembered for years not only because of the fanboys, but because it is a truly revolutionary piece of cinema in both the comic-book and crime drama genres. Like the Matrix, it will have an influence on cinema because it did so well and because both audiences and critics whole-heartedly embraced it, which is a rare feat in today's society. They're already talking about rebooting the critically panned Fantastic Four and Daredevil in a darker, grittier style, obviously taking their cue from The Dark Knight and Iron Man.

Mar 31 - 03:00 PM

Jon R.

Jon Rios

No your not...The Matrix has had some ground breaking effects in it, but I'm sorry to this day I find this movie to be so overrated and boring. It took me a long time to make it through the whole movie. I know it had neat ideas and what not...but please LAME

Mar 31 - 03:11 PM

inactive user

Jared King

I've never seen the sequels, I'm wondering what to expect. Should I see them? What should I expect? What? WHAT?!

Mar 31 - 03:21 PM

ProducerPaul

Paul Barrett

Ledawg, you should watch the sequels. Expect them not to be as good, but if can watch all three back to back, it all does make a certain amount of sense. The two sequels are a bit too long, but technically they're marvelous, and the highway chase scene in the second movie is still one of the best ever committed to film (IMHO)

Mar 31 - 06:53 PM

jokerboy1991

jack giroux

I actually don't like the high way chase scene very much. Its cool and all, but I remember thinking it went on way too long and I didn't like the use of slow motion in that chase sequence. Plus what did it really add to the movie? I thought The Matrix Reloaded & Revolutions were not Neo centered enough. That chase scene is a prime example. You have the hero uninvolved in the biggest action sequence in the movie, that just always bothered me. I like the sequels but man those movies are heavily flawed.

Mar 31 - 07:27 PM

AudioSuede

Christian Hagen

I would actually say the sequels are well worth watching, but require multiple viewings to really be appreciated the way they should be. That's part of why people rip on them so much: the plots are very twisty and complicated, and a lot of the dialogue is very thick with philosophy and technical language. But they are action-packed and entertaining, and occasionally jaw-dropping.

Apr 3 - 02:28 PM

AudioSuede

Christian Hagen

I would actually say the sequels are well worth watching, but require multiple viewings to really be appreciated the way they should be. That's part of why people rip on them so much: the plots are very twisty and complicated, and a lot of the dialogue is very thick with philosophy and technical language. But they are action-packed and entertaining, and occasionally jaw-dropping.

Apr 3 - 02:28 PM

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