Although the film came out two decades ago, The Matrix was such a landmark cinematic achievement that it has permanently cemented itself into film history. There are very few films in the world that come out and then seem to influence every other movie that comes after it, but The Matrix is one such movie. This science fiction and action film masterpiece is the kind of movie that everyone remembers seeing for the first time, and if the upcoming fourth Matrix film is any indication, it's power as a cultural touchstone isn't fading anytime soon.
But with that said, obviously there are elements to The Matrix that seemed like the coolest, most original thing anyone had ever seen when the film first came out but that now feel impossibly dated and corny. So here are 5 things that really aged well about The Matrix, and 5 things that clearly did not.
10 Didn't: The Fashion
When The Matrix first came out, the wardrobe on all of the characters who were trying to dismantle the matrix and free humanity from mechanical slavery was incredibly cool and edgy. And the movie deserves a lot of credit for its wardrobe design, because most of the memorable outfits for the film were actually made from scratch. But the clothes that looked impossibly cool and futuristic in 1999 now look painfully dated 20 years later. It doesn't help that The Matrix was such a hit that it actually inspired a lot of clothing trends either, because once the trend had passed it made the once hip style look old.
9 Did: The Opening Scene
Pretty much everyone under the sun is familiar with The Matrix in some way or another by now, but that doesn't mean that the introduction into the movie has lost it's impact.
The film starts off at a breakneck pace and offers the audience some mysterious tidbits that would leave anyone in the audience asking what the hell is going on, and even though the movie is 20 years old now it's a near guarantee that if you found someone who had never heard of The Matrix before (if someone like that even exists) they would be just as blown away by the first minutes of The Matrix today as the rest of the world was when the movie first came out.
8 Didn't: The Green
The Matrix is a movie that has an extremely strong sense of style that permeates literally every aspect of the film in one way or another. And that is what made the movie feel so distinct when it first came out, but it's often times what makes it feel so dated today. The actual color tone of the film has a very grim green haze over pretty much everything, which can be explained by the fact that the characters actually exist within a computer simulation. But to be honest, at this point it's just kind of dull to look at, and it doesn't hold up well since that traditional green tone feels like an artifact from the stone age of computers.
7 Did: The Set Design
A lot of the stylistic choices of The Matrix were something completely new and unseen when the movie first came out, and the film was such a seminal hit that tons of movies that came after it completely ripped it's style off. But one thing that seems to be mercifully untouched from The Matrix is it's set design. The design for the environment is an interesting amalgam of very futuristic ideas and some very classic, almost Gothic looking architecture and interior decoration. The design blends well with the overall themes of the movie, but the choice to make it look almost vintage helped it hold up over time.
6 Didn't: The Slow Motion Style
As the story goes with pretty much every successful movie that comes up with an original idea or technique, the slow motion 360 degree filming technique that made the movie so distinct when it first came out now seems hilariously out of date.
The slow motion capture style was extremely unique, until it was parodied and done to death after the movie actually came out. And the CGI of the bullet movement was definitely impressive in 1999, but today it looks pretty cheesy. It will actually be interesting to see if the new installment into The Matrix series will employ this technique, because it just feels so played out now.
5 Did: Keanu Reeves
It's pretty rare that anything gets better with age, especially in the youth obsessed world of the entertainment industry. But by some miracle, Keanu Reeves has gotten better with age. It's hard to remember this now, but when The Matrix first came out (and honestly, throughout most of Keanu's career) Keanu Reeves had a reputation for being a really bad actor and a bit of a joke. But as time went on the appreciation for Keanu only grew, and now it's at the point where Keanu's niceness and universal lovability is actually an internet meme. Clearly the Wachowskis were ahead of the curve on the Keanu love.
4 Didn't: The Soundtrack
In case this list hadn't already made this obvious, one of the huge issues with making a movie that seems impossibly edgy at the time is that usually everything that made it feel edgy in the moment is going to make it feel incredibly dated after a few years have passed. That rule seems to be almost universal, and it definitely applies to the soundtrack of The Matrix as well. Some of the music still holds up, but for the most part it's hard metal sound makes the movie feel like a quintessentially 90s/early 00s relic that couldn't have existed at any other time.
3 Did: The Sentient Machines
Although The Matrix became one of the most successful movies in the past half century, the movie initially had a lot of time finding a company to produce it because the philosophical and technological ideas were so off the wall that no one could really understand what it was supposed to be about.
But The Matrix has gone on to prove how avant-garde it really was, because to be honest the whole notion of machines that can think and have actual sentient minds feels like a way more realistic and terrifying possibility than it did when The Matrix first came out 20 years ago.
2 Didn't: The Technology
This is an issue that is absolutely to be expected and that can't really be prevented, but it's something that The Matrix has had to deal with as it has aged nonetheless. And that is the obvious fact that while the technology that the movie displays felt very futuristic at the time that the movie was released, it looks incredibly dated now. Ultimately it's just one of the realities of making any movie that is supposed to be futuristic, and it's absurd to think that any movie should change it's ideas or even not be produced at all just because it's technology will inevitably look dated as it ages, but it's obviously much more noticeable in any film that is supposed to be ahead of it's time.
1 Did: The Premise
Regardless of what still seems cool about The Matrix today and what doesn't, there's obviously a reason why we're all still talking about The Matrix 20 years on. The Matrix had such a huge impact on film and pop culture because it was a truly original movie that showed the audience things it had never seen or even thought of before. And honestly, the entire premise of the human race becoming enslaved by it's own technology almost feels more relevant today than it did when The Matrix first came out, and if we had to guess it seems like the premise will only feel more relevant as time goes on.