Arena (UK), September 2002

The Wait is Almost Over!

WITH STAR WARS EPISODE II, MINORITY REPORT AND OCEAN'S ELEVEN 2002 HAS BEEN A DECENT YEAR FOR CINEMA-GOERS. BUT THE NEXT YEAR'S MOVIES MAKE SITTING IN A DARKROOM FOR TWO HOURS WITH POPCORN-COATED TROUSERS REALLY WORTH YOUR WHILE...

by Mark Salisbury

The Matrix Reloaded

What is it: The most eagerly awaited sequel that doesn't have a Skywalker in it.

Key players: Writer-directors Larry and Andy Wachowski, Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Monica Bellucci, Hugo Weaving, Jada Pinkett Smith, Nona Gaye, Gloria Foster.

Reason to be excited: The Wachowski brothers chose to shoot two sequels concurrently over an 18-month period, at a reputed cost of $300 million, which means that Matrix Reloaded will be followed by Matrix Revolutions next winter. The first, Reloaded, takes place over the course of just one day, kicks off with an epic fight sequence in a virtual tea house, and sees Keanu Reeves' The One turning superhero - he flies! Agent Smith, meanwhile, has gone renegade and is cloning himself all over the Matrix like a computer virus, and we finally get to see Zion, mankind's last hideout from the machines. Not only that, but Morpheus [Fishburne] isn't the only hovercraft captain. There are four of those cool giant craft floating around the Earth, one piloted by Jada Pinkett Smith, whose character, Niobe, is Morpheus's ex. Producer Joel Silver promises that Reloaded will not just raise the bar on action movies but reset it for all time. "The first movie was like The Hobbit for Lord of The Rings," he told Time magazine. Reloaded features a car-chase sequence that is being trumpeted as the biggest, fastest and most expansive ever created. Shot on a disused air base in Oakland, California, it involves cars, guns, helicopters and motorcycles - much to the distress of Moss, who hates them. “I have to ride one a lot in the new [film] and I'm scared to death of them," she says.

Reason to be cautious: The first film introduced us to a new form of special effect - now known as bullet time - which has been copied in every recent action movie. Will these sequels deliver the leap forward in fight technology we are all hoping for?

On-set snitch: Moss broke her leg during the second week of rehearsals for the sequels. "I was on wires doing a stunt and I took a bad landing," she recalls. "During the first Matrix, I screwed up my ankle really badly, but this was much worse. I had to rehearse with a broken leg for six weeks." The finale of Matrix Revolutions is a 14-minute effects-filled sequence that took 60 days to complete, and includes thousands of Agent Smiths attacking thousands of Neo clones.




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