ByscreenPhiles, writer at
writing from a not-so-secret location in Washington, DC

For awhile the Wachowskis, brother and sister directorial duo, Lana and Andy Wachowski must have been the toast of Hollywood. Their philosophy-soaked sci-fi effort, The Matrix, came out of nowhere with its innovative special effects ('bullet time' made its first appearance, and has been imitated by many filmmakers since) combined with martial arts and wire work.

It was a hit, and spawned two sequels, both released in 2003, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions (they were able to be released the same year because they were filmed at the same time).

Audience and critical reaction to the sequels wasn't as enthusiastic as the original film, but audiences still turned out, with 'Reloaded' earning $742 million (on a budget of $150 million) and 'Revolutions' continuing the trend, despite earning significantly less ($427 million).

Their first project after the Matrix–and the beginning of their decline–was a live-action version of Speed Racer, which earned $93 million on a $120 million budget. I suspect much of the cost came from their heavy reliance on digital effects because I have never seen a movie that revolved around racing that had virtually no actual cars in it.

The Wachowskis' Speed Racer was remarkably faithful to the cartoon–which was perhaps its downfall, truth be told–though it was interesting for another reason, which is that no one seemed to die when cars crashed, something that it definitely didn't hold in common with the TV show (cars crashed all the time, exploded and no one exited the wreckage, which typically implies death, though bodies weren't ever shown).

After that the brother and sister team went to work on the movie version of David Mitchell's novel, Cloud Atlas, which they co-directed with Tom Tywker (The International).

Cloud Atlas was a bold, complex movie that took place in the past, present and future though maybe it was too much for many viewers because it also failed at the box office.

Which reminds me: When you're thinking what movie you want to see in 2015, what comes to mind? The Avengers: Age of Ultron? Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice?

Do you know what movie you probably aren't waiting for (even if you're aware of it)? Jupiter Ascending, which Warner Bros moved from its original release date of July of this year to February of next.

And while there are lots of valid reasons for a studio to move the premiere date of movies, it never tends to inspire confidence.

Despite all that I have written above, no one is counting the Wachowskis out. They have an upcoming series on Netflix, Sense8, that should bring them plenty of attention, though if will be enough to get them back on top will be anyone's guest.


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