by Ben McKelvey
A group of young men dressed as Hugo Weaving's Agent Smith sit in a temporary lunch tent sipping coffee and playing cards. They're waiting to be called to the set. To their left, a man walks down the street from the special effects building: he's struggling under the weight of a two metre replica of Sydney's Centrepoint Tower. Behind him, beyond the open doors of a gigantic soundstage, workmen are adding the finishing touches to a full-sized city intersection, strewn with the debris of battle.
Spend enough time in the Fox Studios back lot and you could piece together the hotly anticipated second and third instalments of The Matrix. This is where Larry and Andy Wachowski's metaphysical sci-fi blockbuster is being craffed. JUICE met up with the cast and crew to find out what to expect from The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions.
Keanu Reeves and the journey of Neo
"The story goes outside the Matrix and starts to concern itself with the machines in Zion, so it's almost what he can do in the Matrix is not enough. He'll still on the path of discovery, and he's told by the Oracle that he has not a destiny, but some choices he'll have to make that will affect the survival of the human race.
"The development between Neo and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) is explored and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Smith. So, I guess that's about it: it's just really the development of the hero journey for my character. Just the new challenges and choices. And he wanted to find out where he was - now he knows, or at least he thinks he knows."
Producer Joel Silver on "bullet time"
"The computer is allowing us to do things we never dreamed we could do before. The 'bullet time' sequences were just the beginning, the embryonic stage of what the computer can do. Now it's at such a level that they can do anything they want. The great thing is that somebody else can't say, 'I saw that, I want to do that!' - it's sometimes two and a half years to create one shot.
"The guys have enough intellect and understand the process so they're able to create an arena for this stuff to exist in that could not exist anywhere else. We have done visual effects in this movie that, because of the time it took them to make and the cost, we'll never see again, I really think the bar is risen so high there is no bar."
Jada Pickett Smith on Matrix fighting
"I had one fight scene in the movie and of course Keanu, Hugo, Carrie-Anne and Laurence had tons and tons of fight scenes. I tell you, after that one fight scene... I had two days that I had to shoot and I was in Oakland with Keanu. I see this tiny swimming pool full of ice, and I'm like 'What is Keanu doing? Why is he in that tub of ice, soaking like that?'
"So after those two days I got off those wires, and I prayed; I said: 'Thank you, Lord! I do not have to get on these wires tomorrow'. I could not have move my body; I was so swollen and so sore. Then I said, 'I get it; I get the ice now.'
"I had so much respect for these actors. When you have to do 25 takes of those kicks on those wires, you have to get up and do it for two weeks, all-day long - that's hardcore. That's hardcore. I'm telling you: Keanu, you're the man!"
Joel Silver on the multimedia world
"We've begun a series of animated shorts we're referring to as 'The Animatrix'. There are 10 shorts we're making that will be fed to the audience through the internet in the fall, and will culminate in a DVD at the time of release of the movie.
"Some of these stories, four of them, are actually written by the Wachowski brothers ; the others, they guided the Japanese animators through that material. But the last story, the final fight of Osiris - which is essentially The Matrix 1.5 - takes place right before Reloaded. That story sets up what will happen in Reloaded. If you don't ever see it, it'll be fine: but we're going to release that theatrically.
"The video game is interesting too, in that it's written also by the Wachowski brothers. It stars Niobi, which is Jada's character; it's also a story that takes place almost parallel to the first movie and features scenes, essentially with all the characters, which will not be in the movies. It has scenes that have been created specifically for the video game, and it's another story.
"The world the Wachowski brothers created is so fantastic and so full of material that it allows us to tell more stories - I think that's unique and exciting."