By Keane Eacobellis

‘The Matrix Resurrections’ star Keanu Reeves explains origins of Unreal Engine 5 tie-in

Reeves was apparently surprised to hear many people couldn't tell the difference between the real him and one that appeared in the tech demo.

The Matrix Resurrections is the hotly anticipated sequel to the sci-fi action trilogy that revolutionized cinema with its special effects, philosophical themes, and breathtaking action more than two decades ago.

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The story of the film centers around people trapped in a simulation of reality run by a malevolent artificial intelligence that is harvesting human beings for batteries in the machine-dominated real world.

With the release of the film came a tie-in tech demo for Unreal Engine 5, called The Matrix Awakens, in which gaming technology was taken to new heights of photorealism. When the playable sandbox was announced at The Game Awards earlier this month, and subsequently released for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S, people were completely blown away that the computer-generated versions of actors Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss weren’t straight up real-life pieces of footage, because that’s exactly what it looks like.

Reeves was apparently surprised to hear many people couldn’t tell the difference between the real him and the computer-generated one that appeared in the tech demo.

“Really, they couldn’t tell?” he remarked during an IGN-hosted “green carpet” premiere of the film in San Francisco Saturday evening when one of the hosts brought this to his attention, but agreed, “it is very realistic.”

Reeves, who is reprising his role of Neo in the upcoming film, alongside Moss’ Trinity, explained how he got involved in the Unreal Engine 5 experience and where it all originated from.

“It was something that Lana Wachowski and Kim Libreri, who works at Epic and who had worked on the previous Matrix films, brought to Carrie-Anne and I to be a part of the launch of the Unreal Engine 5 and connection with the Matrix,” he said. “It felt like it’s kind of like an evolutionary step into photorealistic humans in the digital space.”

As for Moss’ impression of being involved in Unreal Engine 5 experience, she said the realism of the end result took her by surprise, especially since she’s not too familiar with video games in general.

“I didn’t know what it would look like. It was pretty shocking. It was pretty crazy,” she said, adding, “I didn’t even know what ‘uncanny valley’ meant before I did this.”

You can check out the tech demo for yourself on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S now and The Matrix Resurrections in theaters and HBO Max beginning Dec. 22.

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Danny Peterson
Danny Peterson covers entertainment news for WGTC and has previously enjoyed writing about housing, homelessness, the coronavirus pandemic, historic 2020 Oregon wildfires, and racial justice protests. Originally from Juneau, Alaska, Danny received his Bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Alaska Southeast and a Master's in Multimedia Journalism from the University of Oregon. He has written for The Portland Observer, worked as a digital enterprise reporter at KOIN 6 News, and is the co-producer of the award-winning documentary 'Escape from Eagle Creek.'