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Cyberpunk Matrix Movies and Films

Matrix 4 Updates May 2020

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Matrix 4 Updates May 2020

A lot of these updates are the same ones that I posted back in March, but now you get to see my thoughts and reactions in video format! Like what happened to Neo, why does he look that way? And who were those people suspended in mid-air between the skyscrapers, and what does it mean if they were who I thought they were?

Coronavirus News Included

Present in this video that was lacking back in March are the COVID-19 production updates that hadn’t happened yet back in March. On March 16th they announced production for Matrix 4 would be delayed, and then luckily on May 13th just a couple weeks ago they announced that they would start buck up again by early July at the latest in Berlin, Germany. Over on the NeoMatrixology channel, Lazarus has reported what such a reopening may look like here.

Lana Wachowski directing the action herself

A final additional update is that we learned that Lana Wachowski will be directing the action herself, as reported in this article. This is great news, because it will ensure that the action scenes for Matrix 4 are as impressive as they were for the original trilogy.

What did you think about 2020’s Matrix 4 news? What do you think we have in store, and do you think COVID-19 will force an additional delay in the production of Matrix 4? Will the release date be pushed back past May 21st, 2021? Let me know in the comments below!

Review: Minority Report

Minority report poster

Minority Report: Classic Sci-Fi Cyberpunk from 2002

There’s a good chance you probably remember Minority Report, the classic Sci-Fi flick from 2002 directed by Stephen Spielberg. Perhaps all you remember is the cool futuristic hand-interface he used, or the eyeball scenes (you know which ones). If you’ve never seen this film, you should really check it out, as it was very influential, popular, and definitely fits comfortably in the Cyberpunk category. And coming from no surprise, it’s one of many films that was inspired from a short story by Philip K Dick.

The movie itself was optioned after total recall, and is one of the few from Steven Spielberg in the Cyberpunk category, who most recently did Ready Player One — which was also an adaptation from a literary story.

The Story

Birthday woes for partyboy Colin Farrell on Minority Report

In the year 2054, crime has been virtually eliminated through the creation of Pre-Crime, a law enforcement squad that prevents crimes before they happen. In order to operate, they rely on three gifted humans called “Pre-cogs” who have visions of future events that will occur. John Anderton (Tom Cruise) leads the team and believes in it completely, until one day the Pre-Cogs predict him of killing a man he has never even heard of before. Thus he goes on the run to escape the rest of his team while at the same time unraveling who was predicted of killing, and why. Tom Cruise as John Anderton gives an exciting, excellent performance, alongside an ambitious rising officer Danny Witwer (Colin Farrell), Max Von Sydow as the Pre-Crime director, and Samantha Morton as the main Pre-Cog.

A Dark Cyberpunk Visual Style–for the most part

It’s well known that Cyberpunk has its visual roots in film noir. Which is why it’s easy to recognize in this film, which uses deliberately overlit scenes, desaturated colors, and a negative that was bleach-bypassed in post-production.

“I had John Huston in my ear,” [Spielberg] explained later in an interview. “I went back and looked at The Maltese Falcon and Hawks’ The Big Sleep—to see how some of those film noir mysteries were resolved. They didn’t dot every i and cross every t. They tried to keep you off-balance. They asked more questions than they could answer in those days.”

hipinion.com • View topic - are you buyin cheetos to get rich with ...

In the first 20 minutes we have drugs, a dealer with no eyes, giant billboards spewing propaganda along rainy pavements and city streets at night, and an introduction of how the 3 precogs allow for pre-crime and how it works (predicting a victim and perpetrator, and a young newcomer just arriving to see how it works) as a man is stopped from killing his wife and her lover.

MINORITY REPORT (2002) - The Arrest of Howard Marks - YouTube

Free Will vs. Determinism

This is interesting in comparison to the Short story, which is a lot cleaner and more elegant. The ending result will be more elegant for the short story as well, focusing more on politics and power than on what happens, whereas the film focuses more on the free will vs. determinism and action elements, as well as the film noir mystery being solved (where is my minority report? asks a desperate John Anderton). The question of this paradigm is in the foreground throughout the film, especially in its climactic conclusion.

Futuristic, yet Realistic, Technology

Minority Report pour de vrai : cette IA peut prédire vos actions ...

Just remember Tom Cruise did it first.

Iron man - Jarvis Holotable - YouTube

Also, the idea of moving around visual images from a recording using a hand or a glove was completely novel when this film came out in 2002. Robert Downey Jr. has perhaps since popularized it with his marvel character Tony Stark in Iron man, but that movie came out a full six years later, in 2008. Minority report would prove to be truly visionary and predictive of the future to come (with technology nowadays such as VR and Google Glass).

https://www.zdnet.fr/i/edit/ne/2019/09/hololens28620.jpg

Microsoft’s Holo Lens

Other futuristic technology includes animations and audio on the cereal box (you can see the hilarious scene of which below), and back-lit glass screens for computers. There are also holograms in Anderton’s room.

This was no coincidence, as Spielberg invited 15 experts from various fields of science and culture to participate in a three-day “think tank” to try to imagine and predict a possible future society. This is how we got the Pre-Crime user interface mentioned above, self-updating newspapers, personalized billboards, and the mag-lev transportation system.

Automated Cars From Minority Report GIF | Gfycat

The highways going vertical and horizontal, sloping along buildings, with slim cars like covered motorbikes without steering wheels was incredibly interesting to see back in 2002.

Ads being created by eye scans is definitely something that would be possible in the future.

Minority report future tom cruise GIF on GIFER - by Thetadar

Also police using jetpacks was one of the first times I saw such things in a movie set in the near future.

“I wanted all the toys to come true someday”–Steven Spielberg

A final note on the technology were the creepy “Spyders”, autonomous robots used as ways to identify humans in buildings. They entered apartments in entire apartment buildings, and no matter what the residents were doing–like a mother with her children, an old married couple fighting, a young couple having sex–all were alarmed, then allowed themselves to be scanned, before continuing on with their business as usual–as if they were quite used to the whole process.

Minority Report 15 Years Later

A Familiar Soundtrack Style–from John Williams

The Soundtrack was done by John Williams and feels as such. Close your eyes at times and it could be mistaken for scenes in an Imperial Star Destroyer, or duel of the fates. I think it’s due to his heavy use of violins and horns. When John finds out he’s supposed to be the one to kill, and then climbs on his own car, again I have visions of Anakin Skywalker doing the same in Revenge of the sith with the elevator. John Williams’ music is so familiar!

Déjà-Vu

The idea of an echo, a pre-cog déjà vu, was something novel in the movie that was not in the short story. However, déjà-vu and questioning reality is of course something Philip K Dick would have liked all too well.

A Subsequent TV Series (that was cancelled)

Minority Report : le futur s'affiche sur petit écran | Geekzone.fr

The movie also resulted in a TV series that was cut from 13 to 10 episodes and then cancelled due to poor ratings.

Final Thoughts

Minority Report is a fun, exciting film that combines elements of thrilling film noir with a fast pace set in a fascinating realistic future while also making the viewer think. It doesn’t hit you over the head with existential questions the way others like the Matrix might, and while heavy on action, it also gives the film time to breathe. Also, like many of Spielberg’s films, it has a secondary focus on broken families. This film, although Cyberpunk in its seemingly utopian society, is lighter on the typical cyberpunk aesthetics and while it has somewhat futuristic technology, there is no biopunk, robots, augments, or any other transhumanism elements (other than a black market eye transplantation). There’s also no virtual or AI elements either, although there are some drug addiction elements present. Nonetheless, it’s an excellent film, one that’s withstanding the ages, and a welcome addition to the Cyberpunk Genre.

What makes Minority Report so good isn’t the fact it managed to successfully predict several aspects of the future, or that it offered some revolutionizing insight into the ever-going philosophical debate of free will versus predetermination, or that it features great performances from not only Cruise but also Colin Farrell, Max von Sydow and Samantha Morton. This film is great because it delivers a thrilling spectacle that’s at the same time both brains and brawns. As Ebert noted in his original review, Minority Report is a film that works on our minds and our emotions made by a “master filmmaker at the top of his form.”–Sven Mikulec, Cinephilia & Beyond

Final Verdict: 8/10

 

Big Hero 6 — Is This Cyberpunk?

Big Hero 6: A Cyberpunk Entry? Let’s Find Out

Note: This is part of my ongoing series Is This Cyberpunk? where I look at different media in the Cyberpunk grey area, to help come to that ever-elusive definition of what Cyberpunk really is. In today’s post, I will consider if Big Hero 6 counts as a Cyberpunk movie, or not.

Big Hero 6 (2)

What is Big Hero 6 Anyways?

Big Hero 6 is a 3D computer animated Disney film that came out in 2014. It’s loosely based on the Marvel comic book series of the same name and tells the story of Hiro Hamada, a young prodigy in robotics who creates a technology that becomes stolen by a masked villain. With the help of the medical robot Baymax, Hiro founds a team of superheros to help fight the masked villain and reclaim his stolen tech.

Baymax - Portrait du Personnage Disney des Nouveaux Héros

Baymax, the Robot of Big Hero 6

Very early on we meet Baymax, a lovable inflatable medical robot that dispenses both physical and emotional assessments and treatments on any human within distance. He also learns and adapts pretty quickly to his environment, including how to fist bump.

“I will add ‘fist-bump’ to my care-giving matrix” –Baymax

He’s clearly a very advanced android.

The Other Characters

A very important character you meet early on is Hiro’s older brother, Tadashi. At the beginning of the movie we find Hiro lost, unmotivated, and participating in illegal robot  battles in his free time. In order to set him back on the right track, Tadashi introduces brings Hiro to his University’s lab, where he shows Hiro Baymax.

Big Hero 6 Tadashi Hiro Baymax - Movie Fanatic

This is the first important acquaintance that Hiro makes early on in the movie. Tadashi will also significantly impact Hiro’s motivations throughout the rest of the movie. But when Tadashi brings Hiro to his lab, he also introduces him to the rest of his friends: Go Go, Wasabi, Honey Lemon, and Fred. These four will later become the rest of the Big Hero 6 team members.

Things only adults notice in Big Hero 6

The Story

Hiro becomes motivated to develop a new technology and present it in a conference meant to impress the judges enough to make them offer him an invitation into their prestigious university. During the conference, however, there is an incident that sets into motion the plot for the rest of the film. Hiro’s tech is lost, or so he thinks, before he finds it again years later in the hands of a mysterious figure wearing a kabuto mask. In order to solve the mystery of who this masked man is and reclaim his tech, Hiro teams up with the four friends and Baymax to form the Big Hero 6 team.

https://www.actugaming.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/san-fransokyo-kingdom-hearts-iii.jpg

An Interesting Setting: San Fransokyo

One of the first things that really springs out to any proper Cyberpunk fan is the very Cyberpunk-like aesthetic in this film, in particular in this film’s setting. The movie takes place in a fictional city called San Fransokyo, a rather obvious mix between San Francisco and Tokyo. It would appear to be modern-day San Francisco, but if the city had been taken over by Japanese inhabitants. This city kept the Golden Gate Bridge, but added Japanese architectural flourishes to it.

It turns out that there’s a reason for why San Fransokyo seems like a mix of the two cities. According to the city’s Fandom wikipedia page, San Francisco experienced a major earthquake in 1906 caused by the collapse of an energy amplifier created by the artist Lenore Shimamoto. The reconstruction of the city led to its rebirth, as Japanese immigrants combined the San Francisco and Tokyo-style architecture in order to mitigate the effects of any future massive earthquakes.

Cyberpunk Visuals

As a result of the massive metropolis that is San Francisco, combined with the neon lights at night time and a more tech-focused slant of the city, this movie seems to have taken very clear inspirations from Blade Runner. Take a look:

San Fransokyo at Night

San Fransokyo | Disney Wiki | Fandom

Unlike many Cyberpunk films, however, they show both the night and daytime. San Fransokyo in the daytime looks like this:

San Fransokyo during the day

The Creation of San Fransokyo | Wendel Rosen LLP - JDSupra

Throughout the city are floating blimp-kite things with fans. They look like Energy kites that provide wind power to whatever the kite is tethered too. That’s just a guess, however, as the movie never explains what they are. In an incredible stroke of good luck (for me, at least) the viewer is treated to a closer look at the city from the air as halfway through the movie, Hiro creates a suit of armor for Baymax that includes a jet pack. Hiro then rides Baymax up in the sky, eventually landing on one of these energy kite blimp things to enjoy a beautiful sunset. It looks like a lot of fun.

Baymax and Hiro atop an energy blimp thing.

Big Hero 6 Gif - ID: 12475 - Gif Abyss

But it’s not just the city itself that looks Cyberpunk as hell. Hiro himself could be counted as a little Cyber Punk, as he starts off the movie in illegal Black Market Robot battles that strongly reminded me of that short film Sonnie’s Edge from Love, Death & Robots.

Robot Battle In the Ring

Big Hero 6 - Robot Fight HD - YouTube

This was really interesting, fun, enjoyable, and different from what I was expecting. It was the Punk aspect that I had been looking for. But the movie goes well beyond just Punk. There’s a lot of high-tech nods that were really fun to see featured in subtle ways throughout the film. For instance, Hiro uses a virtual keyboard, and then later on designs Baymax’s armor in the air like Tony Stark modeling his Iron Man armor.

Designing Virtually

Hiro designing Big Hero 6

In the same frame, he alternates between an Apple standard physical keyboard, and a virtual keyboard projected onto his table using a little blue projector. The blue colors and green virtual screen also felt very Cyberpunk.

Projected Keyboards

Hiro VR keyboard Big Hero 6

Then, in what clearly felt like a nod to the Matrix Trilogy, Hiro programs Baymax to fight using Kung-Fu movies! He uses a program to capture the movements shown in the action scene, then maps them out into moves that Baymax can mimic. Baymax literally has his own “I know Kung-Fu” moment!

Baymax knows Kung-Fu

Baymax learns Kung Fu

If that’s not Cyberpunk then I don’t know what is. The final thing I noticed in the film was Hiro’s use of 3D printers, technology we already have today, in order to create Baymax’s armor.

Final Verdict and Review: A fun family movie, it’s a Superhero Movie first, but definitely Cyberpunk second.

So yes, it’s cyberpunk, but it’s more of a Superhero movie with a Cyberpunk style. It just barely passes the sniff test to count as Cyberpunk, but it passes the hurdle nonetheless. With good pacing and a plot that’s not too predictable, Big Hero 6 shines in the development of its main character but loses a bit with the amount of characters it has (all 4 sidekicks are quite forgettable). With a solid soundtrack, incredible visuals, and a good amount of humor and fun, this is the perfect Cyberpunk animated Disney movie.

The Final Word?

So that’s how I feel about the movie. But what do you think? Have you seen it? Do you agree with my verdict? Why/why not? Feel free to have the final word in the comments below.

The Wolverine–Is This Cyberpunk?

The Wolverine: A Cyberpunk Entry? Let’s Find Out

Note: This is part of my ongoing series Is This Cyberpunk? where I look at different media in the Cyberpunk grey area, to help come to that ever-elusive definition of what Cyberpunk really is. In today’s post, I will consider if The Wolverine counts as a Cyberpunk movie, or not.

Logan / Wolverine | Wiki X-Men | Fandom

He’s certainly dark and broody enough…

Logan / Wolverine (the character)

The Wolverine is one of many Marvel X-Men movies, and one of several movies that focus specifically on Wolverine, played by Hugh Jackman. Although Wolverine has claws and super-healing, he was enhanced using advanced technology to give him an adamantium skeleton augmenting his body.

The Wolverine (film) - Wikipedia

The Wolverine (the movie)

The Wolverine was a movie that came out in 2013 from 20th Century Fox and is both the sixth film in the X-Men film series and a sequel to the trilogy of stand-alone films focused on Logan / Wolverine’s character. It’s also a direct sequel to the 2006 X-Men film The Last Stand. Of all the X-Men and Wolverine movies, I took a particular notice of this movie because of its setting in Japan. The story follows Logan as he flies to Tokyo to meet an old acquaintance, which leads to him getting embroiled in a family power struggle involving ninjas, samurai, and a loss of his super-healing powers. 

Ichirō Yashida | Marvel Movies | Fandom

A Familiar Adage

One of the interesting things that struck me when watching this was an early line in the movie: “Yashida is old fashioned: one eye on the past, and the other on the future”. This reflects a lot of the Yakuza-style Cyberpunk that we’ve seen, including in such works as Altered Carbon, Neuromancer, and Snowcrash. Traditions and honor can last generations, while technology continues to develop and innovate at the same time.

The Wolverine — François Audouy

Some High-Tech

We get our first glimpse at high-tech with the cutting-edge sick bed that the company executive, Yashida, is using. Wolverine then glances at screens as Yashida takes some tea from his aide, and the viewers can see tiny robots repairing what appear to be X-rays of Yashida’s failing organs. “Yashida industries can do anything” Yashida proclaims, as he offers Logan the bait: an end to his eternity, to his both blessing and curse of super-healing.

Will Yun Lee as Harada (ninja) in the Wolverine | Movie ...

A Familiar Face

As the movie progresses, I suddenly recognized a familiar face I hadn’t recognized before: Will Yun Lee! Also known as one of several Takeshi Kovacs from Altered Carbon! And dressed in black as a modern ninja of sorts, he looks awesome!

Cyberpunk Elements

wolverine-yakuza - GWW

Sunglasses, leather jackets, tattoos, Yakuza, ninjas, and Taiko drums leading a parkour-style chase through Tokyo all make for compelling Cyberpunk action scenes and visuals.

The first movie of the movie "Wolverine: SAMURAI" trailer, the ...

There is even a fast-paced fight on top of a Shinkansen (bullet-train)!

47 minutes in, Logan decides to hide Mariko in a pod hotel that looks very cyberpunk indeed.

Love Hotel | X-Men Movies Wiki | Fandom

It turns out to be a love hotel! Between the three options of a nurse’s room, a dungeon, and a mission to mars: they choose the latter.

The Wolverine — François Audouy

The rooms ends up having even more cyberpunk lighting, and reminds me of the many Cyberpunk stories that do indeed feature the red planet. Examples include several stories from Philip K Dick, the original Total Recall film, and finally the Broken Angels novel and Altered Carbon Season 2. I wonder if it was at all inspired by these works or simply a coincidence!

The Cyberpunk-like movie shots are really piling up at this point. There are two dark rain-set scenes already, with somewhat neon lights–just like the iconic “tears in the rain” scene reminds us of from Blade Runner.

The wolverine Jean Grey Rain

Logan keeps on having hallucinations of Jean Grey. She visits him in the Love hotel as well, as an apparition in the rain illuminated by neon lights outside his window. It’s beautiful.

Cultural Commentary as a Sub-Theme

The Wolverine is also a beautiful movie at times because it’s both a subtle and not-so-subtle commentary on the differences in tradition between Japan and the United States, which is similar to many movies where one of the characters travel to a foreign land with different customs and has to acclimate himself or herself to the new culture and customs. Moments where Logan has to be told to bow, or to not stick his chopsticks in his bowl, are more obvious than other moments where a subtle sense of tradition and proper order permeates everything the Japanese do.

Wolverine chopsticks it's culture :) - YouTube

Some Bio-Gore

The movie then settles down, before turning to a bit of bio-gore as Logan has to heal himself in an undeniably gruesome way. I won’t spoil that part with any pictures.

THE WOLVERINE - Concept Art for the Silver Samurai | Silver ...

Concept Art

Mecha-Samurai

The giant electro-mechanical Samurai robot is somewhat reminiscent of the Terminator. It’s a giant, fearful thing, both Japanese and Cyberpunk in vibe.

Non-Cyberpunk Elements

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Mutants with various abilities, like being able to see the moment of someone’s death or having viper-like abilities, add a dose of fantasy that is decidedly not Cyberpunk. Also, on the whole the film is not very futuristic or high-tech at all. There is also no mention of a dystopian world, it’s rather centered on the present day. This is probably one of its biggest detractors from being a considered a Cyberpunk film.

Final Verdict and Review: Great Movie, Many Cyberpunk Visuals, but not Cyberpunk

This is not a Cyberpunk movie. The high-tech elements are too few and far between, there is very little punk about this, and there is no hacking or virtual or online internet elements at all. Despite one giant corporation appearing in the film, the conflict is completely self-contained within the company itself–it has no social commentary or dystopian society–and is thus ultimately just another Wolverine adventure.

The Final Word?

So that’s how I feel about the movie. But what do you think? Have you seen it? Do you agree with my verdict? Why/why not? Feel free to have the final word in the comments below.

The Cyberpunk Genre, our First Viewing Experiences of The Matrix, and Matrix 4: Interview with NeoMatrixology

Upstart

What is NeoMatrixology?

“Welcome to the bottom of the rabbit hole! Remember, as one realizes that one is a dream figure in another person’s dream–that is self-awareness.”–Lazarus, NeoMatrixology founder

NeoMatrixology is the YouTube channel from Lazarus who, along with his Instagram and Twitter channels, breaks down in great detail the Matrix trilogy and all other related Matrix media using a “logical ‘yellow pill’ approach to research (by making sure all his sources are valid and not rumor mills).

Who is Lazarus?

Lazarus was born and raised in the East Coast, near Philadelphia, but chose to be anonymous so he could be the “voice behind the screen.” He has done some work in the music industry as a DJ, but other than that, we know very little about the mysterious man behind NeoMatrixology. And he likes it that way.

However, if you want to meet him in person, he is hosting a “Project Matriculated” screening project in order to watch the premiere of Matrix 4 for the Cyberpunk Community, if you can snag a ticket.

Vesuveus (@vesuveusmxo) | Twitter

Discussing the Cyberpunk Genre, Our First Matrix Viewing Experiences, and What Might Come Next for Matrix 4

To listen to the complete podcast, click the link below.

Topics that we cover:

In this podcast with Lazarus we cover the following topics:

  • Will Matrix 4 and John Wick 4 happen on the same day?
  • What video games and technology he grew up with.
  • Does Isaac Asimov count as Cyberpunk?
  • How does Lazarus define “Cyberpunk”?
  • What are his early influences of Cyberpunk?
  • What are his favorite Cyberpunk works?
  • Which Terminator film is the best.
  • Which Matrix film is his favorite?
  • He tells us his story of how he saw The Matrix for the first time.
  • I share the unusual way that I saw The Matrix for the first time.
  • How and Why Lazarus started his NeoMatrixology YouTube channel.
  • The Matrix Online Universe with its different factions and communities.
  • How he merged the Matrix and Terminator story lines to make montage videos.
  • We discuss The Path of Neo video game.
  • What happens in The Matrix Online Canon (including major events with Morpheus and Trinity.
  • What may appear in Matrix 4 from Matrix Online, if any.
  • From Matrix Online, who the General is and how he might be important and why in Matrix 4
  • How Sense 8 and David Mitchell may (or may not) have any influence on Matrix 4.

If you like this interview and want to comment on any of the things we covered, comment below! You can find Lazarus over at his YouTube and Twitter channels.

Correction: The director of Oblivion is Joseph Kosinski, who also directed Tron: Legacy, not Ghost in the Shell. Ghost in the Shell (2017) was directed by Rupert Sanders, who also directed Snow White and the Huntsman.  Still, they’re all great films!