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Feature: The Matrix

A new spin

We swallowed the red pill and caught up with the cast and crew of the next Matrix movie

Few Films have ever been greeted with quite as much anticipation as the two sequels to 1999’s monster hit The Matrix. The Matrix Reloaded followed by The Matrix Revolutions. There’s little doubt that writers and directors Andy and Larry Wachowski sparked a revolution in movie-making. Similar effects and camera moves were imitated by commercials as well as Hollywood hit films like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Charlie’s Angels, Scary Movie and Shrek. Everywhere you turned there seemed to be a Matrix imitation. At first the Wachowski brothers were flattered by this, then they grew increasingly weary of the endless repetition.

Matrix producer Joel Silver recalls, “The boys said, ‘We have to make sure that we do visual effects and action for the sequels that can’t ever be copied.’ So the new movies are a whole new way of looking at entertainment.”

The original is a tough act to follow. It cost $65 million and earned more than $458 million in cinemas worldwide. The two new films cost more than $300 million to make –but will a bigger budget make them better?

Silver thinks so, saying that Reloaded and Revolutions aren’t simply sequels offering contrived variations on the same theme. “From the start, the boys envisioned a tale that unfolds in three parts like a superheroes comic book sprung to life,” tells Hollywood’s most successful action-adventure producer, responsible for the Lethal Weapon series, the first two Die Hard films, and now the Matrix trilogy. “The story is the driving force in this trilogy. The sequels are not two movies released back-to-back, but rather one movie cut in half and shown in two parts.”

Adds Jada Pinkett-Smith, who stars as fleet commander Niobe as well as in the spin-off video game: “These sequels are going to blast the original off the screen. When I read the game script and it was all this action, flipping out the car windows, I was like, ‘How they going to shoot all this? They got to shoot 2, 3 and this video game script.’”

Last time we saw Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, his character Neo had transformed from reluctant messiah into The One, a metaphysical superhero who, it was prophesied, would save Humanity from its enslavement by the machines.

“Neo’s abilities have developed for the sequels,” says the actor, “but the brothers have also investigated the man inside the costume – the flesh and blood and the emotions – and shown the superhero when he goes home.”

“Neo becomes Superman and Morpheus becomes Batman,” claims Laurence Fishburne, who plays Morpheus, the man who found Neo and wants to end the war between man and machine. “This time much more is revealed about the machines and Zion, the last human outpost. You get to meet the crews and captains of other ships. You find out there’s a whole network of people who have been out hacking into the Matrix in an effort to wake people up and help them fight the machines.”

by Roald Rynning

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Feature © Visual Imagination 2003. Not for reproduction

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Film Review (Jun)
#631, June 2003
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