The ongoing global pandemic of COVID-19 has done quite a number on Hollywood last year. Major studios were faced with a choice between delaying the cinema releases of (would-have-been0 2020 blockbusters to 2021, or biting the bullet and putting them up for streaming usually in their own exclusive digital platforms. Others, like Warner Bros. Pictures, have decided to do both. Following the relative success of giving “Wonder Woman 1984” a limited cinema premiere alongside streaming availability on HBO Max, the studio announced in December 2020 that their major 2021 films will follow suit, among them the now-realized fourth installment of “The Matrix.” This past Sunday its official logo was revealed.

According to Comic Book Resources, the latest film entry in the cult urban sci-fi action franchise “The Matrix” will not even number itself as the fourth movie. It will simply be called as “Matrix,” almost like the original which came out in 1999. This was revealed in a half-minute long teaser video released by Warner Bros. Pictures on January 17, showcasing all their big Hollywood releases for 2021 in theaters and HBO Max. The fact that the movie title has no number indicator has intensified discussion on whether or not this is a true story follow-up to the original trilogy, or a (soft) franchise reboot.

While 1999’s “The Matrix” and its direct sequels “The Matrix Reloaded” and “The Matrix Revolutions” (2003) were the collaborative creation of creative sibling tandem the Wachowskis, only Lana Wachowski is back as the primary driving force for this film, which brings back Keanu Reeves as hacker-turned-cyber messiah Neo and Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity. Returning cast include Jada Pinkett-Smith as Niobe, Lambert Wilson as the Merovingian, and Daniel Bernhardt as Agent Johnson, after Hugo Weaving was unable to reprise as Agent Smith by schedule conflicts. New additions include Neil Patrick Harris, Yahya Abdul-Mateem II, Jonathan Groff, Priyanka Chopra and Erendira Ibarra.

Information on the plot has been scarce as production commenced (with needed breaks) all through 2020 during the COVID pandemic. Reeves has hinted that it will not be a prequel (as Abdul-Mateem has been speculated to portray a younger version of Laurence Fishburne’s Morpheus), emphasizing that “there is no going back to the past.” There are questions of course regarding how his character and Moss’ Trinity are back following their fates in “Revolutions,” but they might just have to wait for future trailers coming ahead of “Matrix” premiering on December 22, 2021 in both US cinemas (initially) and HBO Max.

Other WB releases coming this year as showcased in the simultaneous release teaser include a new take on “The Suicide Squad,” another Lin-Manuel Miranda musical adaptation in “In the Heights,” “Godzilla vs. Kong,” “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It,” “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” and a reboot for fighting game movie “Mortal Kombat.”

Image: Wikipedia