High-tech reload for Matrix
For filmmakers Larry and Andy Wachowski, cyberspace is proving to be a scary environment. The Wachowski brothers' 1999 science fiction thriller The Matrix was a runaway hit.
They are now in Australia filming two sequels with Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne and Carrie Ann Moss reviving their roles.
Jada Pinkett, Hugo Weaving and Monica Bellucci have joined the cast of Matrix Reloaded and Matrix 3, which are scheduled for release in 2003 and 2004.
The films' producer, Joel Silver, says "cutting edge doesn't even begin to describe what the Wachowskis are creating."
He reveals the Wachowski brothers "are actually uncomfortable with the success of The Matrix.
"When they created that movie, they felt they had simply made a film that was groundbreaking.
"They had no idea it would become such a phenomenon."
The Wachowskis always conceived The Matrix as a trilogy, but they could not have anticipated the pressure they are now working under.
"All around them, Larry and Andy see movies that essentially carbon-copied their effects and their ideas, so they feel the need to go far beyond where they were," says Silver, who produced the new horror film Thirteen Ghosts as a special-effects scarefest.
"They keep telling me that these next two movies are so expensive and such a complicated shoot that it could break them.
"They feel their reputations could be destroyed if these next two movies don't live up to people's expectations.
"As a result, we're trying to do what nobody has ever even dreamed of seeing."
Silver produced Jet Li's movie Romeo Must Die.
Li was originally offered a role in The Matrix Reloaded, but he withdrew during early negotiations.
"Having made a picture with Jet Li, I saw the level and amount of preparation he puts into his fight sequences. Staggering as it may be, I can say Keanu is 10 times what Jet Li has ever given to the screen," insists Silver.
"Keanu is a machine. Jet will shoot the fight sequences in small pieces.
"Keanu wants to do the whole fight with no breaks. He is absolutely relentless.
"Like the Wachowskis, Keanu wants to deliver what no one has ever seen before."
Silver says he cannot reveal the plots of the sequels, but he points to one sequence as an example of what fans can expect.
"At the end of the first sequel, there is a car chase that takes place in the Matrix.
"It's just so beyond anything you could ever imagine because there are no laws, no rules in that computerized world."
One role that needs to be recast is that of singer Aaliyah Haughton, who died in a plane crash in the Bahamas on Aug. 25.
She was hired for The Matrix Reloaded after Silver worked with her in Romeo Must Die.
"Her death was a horrible, tragic accident. We're going to have to recast the role sooner or later.
"We're putting off the inevitable because her death is still a painful thing for all of us to deal with."
Silver says there is no footage of Aaliyah from The Matrix Reloaded.
"She had a great part, but she wasn't scheduled to start shooting her scenes until January, so she really didn't do anything major for the film."