Introducing the Cyberpunk Matrix Podcast: Episode 00
In this initial Episode 00, I talk about
The definition of Cyberpunk
Some examples of the genre
The importance of Cyberpunk in our current society
Why we are seeing a resurgence in Cyberpunk.
Why I decided to start the Cyberpunk Matrix Podcast
Why I decided to start the Cyberpunk Matrix Blog
Common Cyberpunk aesthetics
Why I love the Cyberpunk genre
What listeners can expect from the Cyberpunk Matrix Podcast.
Hope you enjoy! Feel free to write your responses in the comments below, and if you’d like to be a guest or want some questions answered on the podcast, send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
It is now less than 200 days until Matrix 4 will be released in theaters on December 22nd, 2021. But what do we know about the film so far? Here at Cyberpunk Matrix, we’ll bring you up to speed on the latest developments all the way back to the original announcements.
Here’s what we know so far about Matrix 4:
Matrix 4 Directors, Writers, and Creators
Directed by Lana Wachowski, Lilly will not be participating in the creation of the movie. Matrix 4 will be produced by both Lana Wachowski and Grant Hill.
The script has been written by Lana Wachowski as well, but this time with help from additional writers Aleksander Hemon and David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas).
Matrix 4 Cast
Returning to the Matrix franchise are Keanu Reeves (Neo/Thomas Anderson), Carrie-Anne Moss (Trinity),
Jada Pinkett-Smith (Niobe),
Lambert Wilson (The Merovingian), and Daniel Bernhardt (Agent Johnson).
Newcomers to the cast include Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Aquaman, Watchmen),
Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother, A Series of Unfortunate Events),
Jessica Henwick (Iron Fist),
Jonathan Groff (Glee, Frozen, Mindhunter),
Ellen Hollman (Spartacus),
Priyanka Chopra (Baywatch),
and Christina Ricci (Black Snake Moan, Speed Racer).
Also part of the cast are ex-Sense8 cast members, whom have all worked with the Wachowskis during the Sense 8 series in the past. These include Toby Onwumere, Max Riemelt, Erendira Ibarra, Andrew Caldwell, and Brian J Smith.
Notably absent from the Matrix 4 cast are Laurence Fishburne, who was not asked to reprise his old role as Morpheus, as well as Hugo Weaving, who was approached but ultimately not able to join the cast due to a scheduling conflict.
Matrix 4 Filming
Under the codename “Project Ice Cream”, filming began in San Francisco on February 4th, 2020, and wrapped in San Francisco and Alameda in March right before the COVID-19 Pandemic. Unfortunately, there was still some filming that needed to be done in Berlin at Studio Babelsberg, which was delayed but ultimately finished by the end of 2020. Matrix 4 is currently set to come out on December 22nd, 2021.
Matrix 4 Plot: Educated Guesses
We don’t know much about what will be in the movie yet, but after leaked shots of filming in San Francisco, we can make some educated guesses.
At some point during filming Keanu Reeves shaved his head, which suggests that he will be playing a Neo / Thomas Anderson who is alive and well in the real world, which brings into question how he was resurrected after his apparent death at the end of Matrix Revolutions.
He was also filmed with what looks like a haggard appearance in what must be the Matrix, suggesting his virtual self comes back too, perhaps with no memory of his past life?
Carrie-Anne Moss’ casting also suggests that Trinity was also able to be resurrected somehow as well, unless if time travel or memory-scenes aren’t being used as plot devices, which I personally doubt. I think it much more likely that Neo and Trinity’s consciousnesses will be somehow downloaded from the Matrix and reinserted into either clones or real-world bodies, which would explain their resurrection somehow.
Also in filming military helicopters were present flying among the buildings of San Francisco, which suggests some sort of explosive action sequences, complete with chase scenes on motorcycles, within the matrix itself. FBI agents and SWAT teams will probably be present within the Matrix world, at least.
Notably present in the filming were scenes of someone looking like Trinity catching someone looking like Neo in the sky suspended between two different skyscrapers. Then Trinity appears to fly up into the sky holding Neo, which suggests that perhaps Trinity becomes more powerful than Neo in this next chapter of the story, and that Neo maybe needs to re-learn or re-discover who he is.
Also from the rumor mill is that Matrix 4 will actually be called Matrix Resurrections, based on this post by Shunika Terry, a makeup artist who worked with the cast on set. Officially, the movie is still untitled as Matrix 4.
In an interview on “The One Show” on BBC, Keanu Reeves revealed about Matrix 4 that it “is a love story, it’s inspiring, it’s another version of a kind of call to wake up, it entertains, it’s great action, and all will be revealed…no going back into the past.”
So what other kinds of waking up will we see? Whose love story is this about, is it between Neo and Trinity again? We can at least know that it won’t be a prequel or set in the past.
Nonetheless, there are plenty more questions about the upcoming Matrix film, and all we can do is sit and wait for the trailer to release to give us more information. Which will hopefully be any time now.
What do you think Matrix 4 will be about? Let us know your predictions in the comments below.
Love, Death, & Robots is a series of animated shorts, an anthology all loosely related to love, death, and robots. Which means that many of which are also cyberpunk related. Volume I released in 2019, and we here at Cyberpunk Matrix covered the cyberpunk-related episodes here. Well, it took a couple years, but I’m happy to report that Volume II is finally here. So fasten you seatbelts, punks, because we’re about to dive into a new wild series of surreal, curious, cyberpunk worlds.
4 Cyberpunk Episodes, 8 Episodes Total
The first thing one notices about Volume II is how short it is compared to Volume I. While Volume I was a generous 18 episodes in length, Volume II contains only 8 episodes. Volume II’s longest episode clocks in at 18 minutes in length, although a considerable part of all episodes contain credits and thus shorten the actual run time, and the shortest runs at 7 minutes in length.
It’s hard to tell with these episodes which ones would truly be considered cyberpunk and which ones wouldn’t, since they are all so short, but since here at Cyberpunk Matrix we’re used to considered if something is Cyberpunk, I’m fairly confident with the episodes we selected. So here it is, folks, all the episodes related to Cyberpunk from Volume II of Love, Death, and Robots, complete with my own thoughts and review of each episode. Ironically, these four episodes are also the four that are first in the 8-episode anthology series
Cyberpunk episodes from Vol. 2:
Automated Customer Service
Snow in the Desert
Cyberpunk Episode 1: Automated Customer Service
This episode reminded me a lot of the episode called blackhead from Black Mirror: a small, automated robot which threatens a nearby human with its cold, relentless hunt of the human it’s searching for. Unlike Blackhead, however, this episode is delivered with a side of dark humor, a parody of automated customer service answering machines that is as much critical and social commentary as it is ridiculous. It features a future society in an elderly community where all electrical devices have been made automated, so as to give the elderly people who live there as assisted an experience as possible. All seems well and good, a prime utopian experience, until of course one of the automated robots malfunctions and starts threatening every living being inside the home it’s supposed to be cleaning.
I personally didn’t care for the animation itself, with its sharp angles it felt much too similar to a badly rendered videogame. Nonetheless, it ended up being very funny in the end, and as always I’m a sucker for a film, whether it be short or otherwise, that takes something that exists in present day and shows the negative sides of it by speculating what would happen if we took that same system to the extreme.
Basically, if you like dystopian futures with robots, and you like dark humor, then you’ll love this episode.
Cyberpunk Episode 2: Ice
Ice is a coming of age story about a teenager who is struggling to fit in with the other kids at school. A classic tale, of course, except the twist for this one is that the town they live in seems to be in the middle of a frozen tundra, with only oil wells of some sort and the residences of the workers who maintain them. Oh and the majority of the kids in town are genetically augmented, which makes the only un-augmented younger brother feel out of place and thus compelled to prove himself that much more.
At first I wasn’t going to classify this entry as a cyberpunk short, until I considered the genetic augmentations, the drugs, the punk-like artwork, and the rebellious nature of the teens sneaking out of their homes to take part in dangerous games to demonstrate their fearlessness and ability.
If you like stylistic artwork, high contrast, and a coming of age story with a dramatic thrilling end, then you’ll like Ice.
Cyberpunk Episode 3: Pop Squad
Pop Squad was my personal favorite of all eight episodes. Closely resembling a film-noir style set in the future (which is just like what Blade Runner did to pioneer the cyberpunk style), Pop Squad features a government operative, a detective of sorts whose mission is to find and process unregistered, or illegal children. Illegal children in this world doesn’t mean immigrants, however. Rather, it’s a type of population control police force to ensure that humanity isn’t having too many children, or any children at all for that matter, which seems to be a luxury reserved for the rich and powerful. This society also seems to have solved the problem of ageing, allowing many of its citizens to live hundreds of years. So what happens when one such population-control detective develops a conscience? Well, you get pop squad. The voice acting, visuals, and acting are all incredible. The episode also asks the question of what makes life worth living, where we as a society place our values, and why seeing the world through a child’s eyes is important.
Cyberpunk Episode 4: Snow in the Desert
Perhaps the most fun, interesting, and well-animated episode of all (it seems to be a favorite for many), Snow in the Desert is about an albino bounty hunter with an unusual physiological special ability that everyone wants to kill him for. Set on what looks like a desert planet similar to Tatooine from Star Wars, it features some calm moments and some exciting moments, with a surprise ending that really drives home the Cyberpunk elements. The animation for this episode was incredible–it really felt like live action even though it was digitally animated. I was also left wanting more, and Snow himself reminded me a lot of an old, grizzly Han Solo.
If you like desert planets, high-quality digital animation, action/mystery and great visuals, then you’ll like Snow in the Desert.
Final Verdict: 8.5/10
For the quality of the visuals, the great voice acting, the action and compelling stories delivered in these short segments, I give Volume 2 a high rating of 8.5. I only wish we got more episodes, 8 is a woefully low number considering how short each episode is, but otherwise I felt the quality of all the episodes were really good. If I had to pick I would say Volume 1 was better, simply because there was more there so they had some better episodes and some worse episodes overall.
But what were your thoughts? Which episodes were your favorite? Make sure to let us know in the comments below.
Outside the wire is one of the newest futuristic action flicks from Netflix of 2021. Released a mere two weeks into the new year, this sci-fi action thriller stars Damson Idris (Black Mirror) as Lt. Thomas Harp, a drone pilot who makes a difficult call resulting in a reassignment as punishment. There he meets Captain Leo, played by Anthony Mackie (Altered Carbon, Avengers: Age of Ultron) who also was one of the producers for the film. Directed by Mikael Hafstrom, Outside the Wire also stars Pilou Asbaek (Ghost in the Shell, Game of Thrones) as one of its villains . At first glance, this film doesn’t seem to be Cyberpunk at all. But is it? Or is there more to this action movie than meets the eye?
A Military-Focused Plot
When I started watching this movie I had no idea it was actually science fiction, and indeed, it doesn’t really market itself as such. I was gearing up for another gritty hard-as-nails military action film, a bit like Expendables lite. It definitely started off as such, with a firefight resulting in some difficult decisions and consequences that leads our main character, Lt. Thomas Harp, to be reassigned as punishment to Camp Nathaniel, a US base of operations set in the Ukraine, and must report to Mackie’s character, Captain Leo.
All of the story in Outside the Wire takes place with its main characters exclusively military, civilians, refugees, rebels, or humanitarians who deal with the military. However, about 30 minutes in, we suddenly discover that Captain Leo is an incredibly realistic android, a prototype made by the military to resemble humans as closely as possible. We are also casually shown human militia denigrating military robots with gimbals as heads and humanoid forms that allow them for ruthless stone-cold combat.
Science Fiction or Purely Action?
Other than Leo and the military robots, however, there is no other science fiction present in the film at all. A Russian nuclear powerplant that becomes important later in the movie uses old soviet-era tech, and the drones the military use are present-day technology (with their very human operators working much like present-day drone pilots would).
The Ukraine setting feels very Eastern Europe. No neon streets, no dark rain, none of the stereotypical cyberpunk elements. No punk elements at all, really.
Can Androids Be Trusted?
The one thing that doesn’t rule it out of the cyberpunk moniker completely is Mackie’s character, Leo. When Harp meets Leo at Camp Nathaniel, he is quickly apprehensive of Leo’s non-human nature. This leads to some interesting banter between action scenes, as Harp grabbles with what it means that his superior officer is also property of the American Military who should be serving his human creators. The question of whether Harp can trust Leo quickly becomes paramount, and lingers ever present as an unanswered question as the two work together to carry out their mission. The audience is also left wondering if Leo can be trusted, a question which is later answered very bluntly near the end of the film.
Overall Thoughts: A Missed Opportunity
Outside the Wire had a lot of the right ingredients that could have made for an excellent movie. Unfortunately, it seems like these elements are only half-baked, leaving the final product to end up being just another action movie with many of its potentially interesting questions unanswered and its characters undeveloped. While Harp’s character is likeable enough and Leo’s character keeps us guessing his true intentions, we don’t see Harp’s character develop much throughout the film, and Leo’s character ultimately underwhelms. Once his final motives are revealed, they feel uninspired and disappointing, when we look at all the things they could have focused on instead, such as whether robots or androids deserve the same treatment as humans do, which serves as a metaphor for prejudice and racism in so many other science fiction films of its kind. Outside the Wire decides instead to lean on well-choreographed fight scenes and special effects, but without the big budget that most other science fiction films have, the effect is simply underwhelming. Where is the world-building? Why don’t we feel more for Leo’s character than we do? Anthony Mackie definitely could have delivered a more moving performance, if he had been given the script to do so. They should have at least told us if Leo Dreams of Electric Sheep.
Final Verdict: Decidedly Not Cyberpunk
With what at first glance would be the possible makings of a cyberpunk film–a humanlike android, military robots, and a human main character questioning his android partner’s motives, Outside the Wire is definitely not Cyberpunk. There are no real punk or low life elements to speak of, nor are there any megacorporations or oppresive dystopias to speak of in this film. Instead we have a very near to present US military outfit acting in Ukraine and carrying out what amounts to another cold war action film with a subtle whiff of science fiction. However, it was entertaining enough to be worth watching, with decent performances and good action sequences. I would give this film a 6/10.
We are lucky that the end of the year brings us two weeks of holidays, for Christmas and New Year’s, where we can sit down and take a minute to reflect on what the year has brought us. My last Year in Review, for 2019, described the many things that we got to enjoy in the year, along with looking ahead to the future of what 2020 was meant to have in store for us (boy, were we in for a BIG SURPRISE with that one!) While different from 2019 in many ways, 2020 has been a great year for the genre of Cyberpunk in general. On the first few days of 2020 I wrote the following:
“So what does the future hold for Cyberpunk? Something very exciting indeed. Just look at all the great content, announcements and surprises we got from 2019! So while it’s impossible to say what surprise announcements or content we will get, what we can do is predict things that are already in the pipeline and have been announced:
1. Altered Carbon: Season 2 should arrive to Netflix in February 2020, which will start off our year right
2. Cyberpunk 2077 will be released in April, which should really kick the Cyberpunk genre into front and center of pop culture, especially considering it’s in the name of the game itself.
3. Matrix 4 isn’t expected until 2021, but 2020 will bring with it more and more production and casting updates, as well as hopefully story clues, so the production of Matrix 4 will be very fun to watch. Production should begin in February as well.
4. While not exactly Cyberpunk, Denis Villeneuve did an excellent job with Cyberpunk 2049, so his adaption of the science-fiction classic DUNE will be very exciting to see. There may be some cyberpunk elements present, but it should be a mostly science fiction tale.”
Well, Altered Carbon: Season 2 was good, but it didn’t live up to the first season sadly, and then the series itself was cancelled.
Cyberpunk 2077 wasn’t released in April, or September, or November, but finally in December, and while it did well on the PC and next-gen consoles, it had so many game-breaking bugs in the old-gen consoles many gamers demanded refunds and others considered the release a monumental failure.
Matrix 4 is still set for 2021, but instead of a May release date, or an April 2022 release date due to covid, its newest release date is for December 22nd, 2021.
As for Dune, its release was pushed back from December 18th, 2020 to October 1st, 2021. We were able to get a glimpse of the trailer, which looks amazing, but it’s still a long way away.
Meanwhile, we got a lot of other Cyberpunk media in 2020. So come join me, won’t you, as we take a walk down memory lane and look at all the Cyberpunk media that came out in 2020.
February 27th: Altered Carbon Season 2
Cyberpunk in 2020 started off the year with Altered Carbon Season 2, releasing February 27th on Netflix. Compared to Season 1, I noted how the second season felt very toned down, with less torture, violence, and gore. Unlike the source material (Broken angels and Woken Furies, books 2 and 3 in the Takeshi Kovacs Trilogy, respectively) the Netflix series decided to pursue a love story between Takeshi and Quell, for better or for worse. There’s also a lot less gratuitous sex than in the books, a stronger focus on family ties, and generally a lot of missed opportunities with the changes they chose compared to the books. The result is a more wholesome, safe season that probably had a smaller budget but also didn’t wow the audience in any way, and as a result led to the unfortunate cancelling of the series (partly also because of how darn expensive the series was).
February and March: Matrix 4 begins shooting, and the lockdowns begin
Project Ice Cream, AKA Matrix 4, began shooting in February and we were treated to some incredible stunt scenes over skyscrapers and explosions along the city streets in Alameda and San Francisco, California, which I reported in my Matrix 4: 2020 updates post in March. Fortunately, Matrix 4 was able to wrap up all of its primary US shooting before March rolled around. The team were later able to continue shooting in Babelsberg, Germany, although under significantly different conditions
The end of February was the final normal month as we knew it. We had no idea at the time, but we were about to be hit by the world-changing pandemic known as COVID-19, which would affect media releases, travel, result in thousands of deaths and billions of people affected and forced to rethink their daily habits. The entire world, almost every country, had to learn how to confine, lockdown, or quarantine, an event I discussed in my April post on how dystopian it felt in real time.
March: Altered Carbon: Resleeved and Bloodshot
After Altered Carbon Season 2 came out, we were treated to a Netflix animated film called Altered Carbon: Resleeved. Released on March 19th, the story had fairly good voice actors and story, if you could get past the unusual animation style. It was only 1 hour 14 minutes in duration, so it was pretty short, but had some awesome ninja action scenes. More on our review of Altered Carbon: Resleeved can be found here.
Meanwhile, Bloodshot was meant to be released in theaters, (and maybe it was in some places) but due to the pandemic it was mostly moved to pay on demand. I just recently posted my review and thoughts of this recent quasi-cyberpunk film with Vin Diesel here.
April: The first podcast and the beginning of our Is This Cyberpunk? Series
In April we had our first podcast of the year, an exciting hour-long talk with friend to the blog Lazarus over at NeoMatrixology. In it we discuss the Cyberpunk genre, our first impressions viewing the Matrix for the first time, and many other things.
We also had the first of what would be many different posts in a series called Is This Cyberpunk? where I look at media that could be considered Cyberpunk and offer my thoughts of why or why not they would be considered in the genre. This year we looked at the following movies: The Wolverine, Big Hero 6, Batman Beyond, and Tomorrowland.
April: Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045
Also coming out in April was the next animated Cyberpunk work on Netflix, Ghost in the Shell SAC_2045. Released April 23rd, it comprised 12 20-minute episodes to create a fast-paced, interesting series that decidedly does not finish at the end of its run, suggesting a season 2 was always in the works. Although great parts action and cyber-sleuthing, I noted that it might take a minute to get past the unusual 3D CG animation. Check out my full review of the series here.
June: The beginning of Night City Wire episodes
Night City Wire was a series of what would become 5 promotional short videos to advertise the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077, This provided a great opportunity for fans of Cyberpunk to get excited together about what would be available to do in the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 title. When we got it in June it was supposed to come out in September, before it eventually got delayed to November and then finally to December 10th. I personally had a lot of fun tuning into my favorite Cyberpunk content creator on YouTube and seeing their reactions and joining in the chat as thousands of similar fans all watched the wires drop simultaneously. You can check out my breakdown of wire 1, wire 2, wire 3 and wires 4-5 plus the special on the blog.
October: World Cyberpunk Day
October 10th, 2020 (or 10.10.2020) was World Cyberpunk Day. Designed to be a free fun #hashtag celebration of all things cyberpunk, it was also meant to promote lesser known Cyberpunk content creators. For my own post of World Cyberpunk Day, I took the opportunity to celebrate all my favorite Cyberpunk media, including both well-known and lesser known content. You can check out all my favorite Cyberpunk picks in all the different categories here.
November: Ready Player Two
On November 24th, Ready Player Two, the sequel to the acclaimed Ready Player Novel, was published By Ernest Cline. After loving the first novel and going to see the film adaptation by Steven Spielberg last year, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. It was a fast-paced page-turner and I finished it in about a week or two, and I highly recommend it. You can check out my full review for the book here.
December: Cyberpunk 2077 finally releases
On December 10th, the fateful day finally arrived. I remember waiting until 2am to download the game, waiting an hour using my slow internet to download the game, and then finally being able to create my character and playing the first 20 minutes of the game (the introduction) before crashing. Unfortunately, despite having downloaded the game previously when I pre-ordered the game, I like thousands of others around the world like me took a really long time in downloading the final pieces in order to make the game playable.
Once I finally was able to play the game…I wish I could say it went swimmingly. Unfortunately, I had a couple bugs that really bothered me during the introduction (like bushes appearing in frames when they were supposed to be outside far away but otherwise, I didn’t have any problems playing the game (although I played on the lowest graphics settings due to the old nature of my gaming laptop). Others, however, weren’t so forgiving with the game, and had much worse bugs. So bad, in fact, that Sony pulled it from their online store, and CD Projekt Red lost millions when they had to offer refunds for the game, sparking disgruntled developers pushing back on management claiming their timelines to get the game out were unrealistic, and even resulting in lawsuits from investors. Nonetheless, I had a great time playing Cyberpunk 2077. I have since finished one of the game’s main storylines, but I still have much more to play. I published an initial review of the game with my first impressions as one of my last posts of 2020 here.
Interviewing the Cyberpunk Community at Cyberpunk Matrix:
Finally, throughout the year, I was able to interview all kinds of great Cyberpunk content creators and see how they got into the genre, as well as what they love about Cyberpunk. Starting with Bradley B, founder of the incredible Cyberpunk website http://www.cyberpunks.com, I later was able to interview all four most popular YouTube Cyberpunk content creators: Madqueen, The Neon Arcade, Last Known Meal, and Triple S League. They also have a mutual community podcast which I often joined on occasion every other Sunday during 2020 as we all mutually waited for Cyberpunk 2077 to release and shared the latest info and hopes for the game.
Obviously what we are most excited for here at Cyberpunk Matrix, and indeed a lot of the inspiration why I created this website in the first place, is the return to the world of The Matrix with Matrix 4. Now that Lana Wachowski and the production team was able to wrap in Germany, it seems like the biggest work in producing Matrix 4 is done. Now comes the step of adding the music, edits, and all the other post production work, before marketing and getting Matrix 4 ready for their release date of December 22nd, 2021. Hopefully that release date won’t be pushed back yet again.
While all we know about this standalone series from Netflix set in Night City is that it will come out in 2022, hopefully there may be some news about its production to come out in 2021. Similarly, I am looking forward to any and all Cyberpunk 2077 DLC that comes out in 2021 that adds to the already very rich world that CD Projekt Red has created.
Thoughts and Expectations for Cyberpunk in 2021
2020 has been a difficult year for most of humanity. Fortunately I never contracted the virus this year, but I know many friends and family members that did, and it certainly wasn’t easy. We changed out habits, lifestyles, values, perspective on life, because of the virus–it really was a pandemic that will change human history as we know it, developing in front of our eyes in real time. But with all these vaccines rolling out for 2021, the year looks very promising. And with the vaccines will hopefully come a new stability, a new normal that will allow travel and production on all our favorite media to resume again. After 8 long years, Cyberpunk 2077 finally was released, and although its release definitely wasn’t perfect, the stories in Cyberpunk 2077 will now be in the forefront of our modern culture’s mind, with society knowing exactly what a cyberpunk world looks like and what kind of cyberpunks they might encounter in such a world if they played the videogame. Ready Player Two will probably be coming out with Steven Spielberg producing at least, and I wouldn’t be surprised if CD Projekt Red learns from their mistakes and creates another Cyberpunk title, or at the very least more DLC to add to the night city, if what they’ve done with The Witcher 3 is any indication. So goodbye 2020, for all its challenges and change, and welcome 2021. As Panam says, cheers — here’s to what’s yet to come.