The Matrix presented itself as the movie that needed to be seen, and that made all the difference!
Y’all. I certainly liked movies a lot before I saw The Matrix, but this is the first film I remember NEEDING to see. In the trailer, Morpheus was all “No one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself” and I was like “HOLY SHIT I NEED TO KNOW WHAT IT IS LET ME SEE IT.”
It’s not impossible, but it’s really hard to pull off the marketing trick today that they pulled in 1999 with this film. I even remember the website, because I checked it regularly in case I could find clues about what The Matrix was: Www.WhatIsTheMatrix.com. (Sadly it no longer exists – don’t bother looking)
These days, if you really want to be spoiled, you’ll find what you’re looking for (and just like when I went looking through my parents’ closet for Christmas presents, I didn’t actually want to find them), but The Matrix was a complete mystery to me until I walked into the theater. My friend Jennifer was late, and eventually I got tired of waiting for her out front and ran inside just in time to see Trinity murder some police officers by suspending herself in mid-air and I was like OMG WHAT IS THIS IS THIS THE MATRIX HOLY CRAP.
And that sense of Holy Crapness has not left me in all the years since.