I chafe when people say the only good Matrix
movie is the first one. I think with more immersion into the franchise's universe, and using some of the ancillary but canonical stories to fill in the gaps, fans of the first movie can dive deep into the universe so it makes more sense than what the films alone present.
Start with The Animatrix
's "The Second Renaissance" Parts 1&2
, which bridges the gap in history between the present (1999) and the story's setting.
Follow it up with "Beyond"
from The Animatrix
, which depicts life inside The Matrix for those still plugged in.
Then, you should watch another Animatrix
story, "World Record."
This is slotted here because it shows some of the oppression of the Matrix, establishes some of the rules of the world, and remains a little further removed from the main story of Neo.
Now move on to "A Detective Story,"
also from The Animatrix
, because it introduces the main story's chronology yet is still set within the Matrix, as all the stories so far have been, and as the first movie starts.
Now, watch the film The Matrix
and you will have a little more context surrounding the importance of The One, as well as the why and the what behind the Matrix itself.
After witnessing Neo's story, watch "Kid's Story"
from The Animatrix
, which shows Neo's influence in his new role. It's also next in the chronological story, and introduces Kid before his seemingly random appearance in Reloaded
Then you can watch "Final Flight of the Osiris"
(also in The Animatrix
), which has direct implications for the second film, as does the plot of "Enter The Matrix," the PS2 and Xbox game. Watch the game edited into a movie
, because it includes live-action filmed scenes as well as canonical cutscenes. These two stories together give you an idea of some of the activities of the ships in the human resistance, and what Zion's fleet is up to. Without these, some of the conversations in Reloaded
require the audience to guess and use conjecture while they listen, which is a lot to ask of people who are only casually invested.
Finally, watch The Matrix Reloaded
and The Matrix Revolutions
. They go back to back, because the "To be continued" at the end of Reloaded
effectively makes them a single film in two parts. And now congratulations are in order, because you've gone from the real world, to the abstractions of the Matrix, to the specific story of Neo and the tale of humanity's liberation and emancipation.
And then maybe you'll agree the sequels aren't terrible and we don't have to keep pretend the sprawling franchise is only one good movie.