Caught in the Matrix
'THE MATRIX' IS BACK WITH A SLOW-MOTION BANG. HERE'S A QUICK GUIDE TO GET YOU UP TO SPEED WITH THE HIGHLY ANTICIPATED FIRST SEQUEL, 'THE MATRIX RELOADED.'
by Daniel Fierman
WHAT IS THE MATRIX? THE more important question has been, when is The Matrix? That is, when will the sequels hit theaters? It has been a long journey for fans of the movie, who have been waiting more than four years for writer-directors Andy and Larry Wachowski to cough up follow-ups to their groundbreaking 1999 cyberpunk spectacle. Well, after all those years, finally - finally! - the first of two sequels, The Matrix Reloaded, will upload to theaters on May 15. (The end of the trilogy, The Matrix Revolutions, will follow in November.)
Over the next few pages, you'll find all you need to know to plug back into The Matrix. There's a primer on Zion, Squiddies, and other plot elements the supersecretive and press-shy Wachowski brothers programmed the first time around. Then you'll meet two of the newest members of the Matrix world - one good, one evil, both gorgeous - and visit with an old enemy. As is dedicated fans know, the original movie was deeply influenced by the otherwordly artistry of Japanese animation. So we also offer a comprehensive guide to The Animatrix, nine short films commissioned by the Wachowskis to provide crucial back story, expand upon the mythology, and of course, act as a unique promotional tool for the new movies.
Tough babes, superbad villains, and razor's-edge animation? All that's left for you to figure out is whether there actually is a spoon.
SPEAKING OF WHICH, WHEN WAS THE last time you actually watched The Matrix? We're guessing it's been a while. And let's face it - if you were anything like a goodly number of our nation's college students, you probably saw it, uh, altered. (Suffice it to say that experience adds a whole new layer of meaning to all those whoas.) So for the purposes of memory refreshment, upload this data file to your cortex. You may not know kung fu, but you'll be ready for Reloaded.
The story so far: In the future, machines have enslaved human beings, growing them in pods to harness their bioelectric energy as a power source. To keep human brains active and happy, everyone is plugged into the Matrix, an artificial reality that looks just like the present day. A few intrepid souls have escaped and live in the last human city of Zion, where they launch attacks against the machines and try to liberate powerful hackers. The Matrix follows Morpheus' quest to find the leader who will head up the revolt against the machines and free the humans. He finds him in Neo (Keanu Reeves), a computer freak who turns out to be the most powerful person in the digital world.
After evolving into "The One" at the end of the first movie, Neo is now all-powerful within the Matrix. He can fly. He can stop bullets. He can defeat scores of bad guys single-handedIy. And he'll have to, considering that the evil Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) and his digital goons are on his trail.
Having fulfilled his destiny by finding Neo, Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), captain of the rebel ship Nebuchadnezzar, will now act as a general in the antimachine army. A very important general, obviously.
Along with - and largely because of - the traitorous Cypher (Joe Pantoliano), Morpheus' fellow crew members Apoc, Switch, Mouse, and Dozer all died in the first movie. And even though he appeared to have been killed by Neo - who physically jumped into his digital body and burst it from the inside out at the conclusion of the first movie - Agent Smith will (obviously) be back.
Morpheus' right-hand woman, Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), declared her love for Neo in The Matrix, resurrecting him from death with a kiss. They're now officially a PVC-clad couple and they will consummate their love by swapping - ahem - data cards.
In The Animatrix short Final Flight of the Osiris, we learn that the machines have found Zion, located near the earth's core (see story on page 32). An army of Squiddies - those mechanical beasties that tore up Morpheus' ship at the end of The Matrix - are dispatched at the beginning of Reloaded to destroy Zion and all the unplugged humans inside. The film follows Neo's race to stop the Squiddies from getting there. The Matrix Revolutions will depict the final battle between man and machine.
Oh, and don't expect The Matrix Resolution anytime soon. Reloaded and Revolutions are essentially one big four-hour-plus movie that's been cut in two... and the cliff-hanger at the end of Reloaded is said to be brutally abrupt.
And if, you've been pondering why the heroes can get out of the Matrix only by using land lines and not cell phones, don't look at us. We're still trying to figure that one out.