©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett CollectionWhen George Lucas chose to prolong his Star Wars trilogy with 1999’s The Phantom Menace, he did so with the knowledge that there was intense fan demand and, crucially, more story to tell. That’s not the case with The Matrix series, whose original (premiering the same year as Lucas’ prequel, and stealing much of its thunder) remains hugely influential for its bullet-time effects and red pill simulation-theory fantasy, but whose severely underwhelming sequels ended both its tale and widespread franchise interest.Thus, The Matrix Resurrections (Dec. 22, in theaters and on HBO Max) arrives on a wave of middling excitement due to a lack of perceived purpose. As it turns out, there’s good reason for that attitude: devoid of its trademark style, action and depth, it’s a pointless follow-up that falls back on cheeky self-referentiality in order to justify its existence.Most of The Matrix Resurrections’ meta shenanigans are confined to its early going, highlighted by corporate bigwig Smith (Jonathan Groff) explaining to his game-designer business partner Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) that Warner Bros is going to make a fourth installment in their hit The Matrix video game series with or without their participation, so they may as well get on board with the project. Anderson’s video game smash is, as one might expect from this set-up, based on the events of the first three Matrix movies, although we never see the actual interactive title; instead, it’s depicted as literal scenes from the cinematic works of Lana and Lilly Wachowski. No matter. What’s front-and-center during these initial passages is game developers dissecting the many things (bullet-time, metaphors, ultra-violence) that made the franchise so popular in the first place.Read more at The Daily Beast.