'The Matrix' gets reloaded
by Jeremy Jaso
In May of 1999, I was dragged on a family outing to see a movie at the Warren in Wichita. I hadn't ever heard of the movie we were going to watch -- I just figured by the name it had something to do with mathematics, and I loathed math.
That movie happened to be "The Matrix," and the trip to the Warren that day in May turned out to be one of my most memorable experiences in a movie theater. From the opening scenes until the end credits, I knew I was watching something special. That spring, millions of people shared that experience, making "The Matrix" one of the most popular films of all time.
Since then, I've been anticipating the sequel, which I actually remember talking about at the restaurant we went to after the film. It's been a long wait, delayed by a round-the-world production schedule and the death of a cast mate, but in four weeks audiences and die-hard sci-fi fans will finally get the follow-up they've been waiting for -- "The Matrix Reloaded."
The prelude to the sequel, an animated short called "The Animatrix: The Final Flight of Osiris," was premiered as a preview to last month's "Dreamcatcher." It's all over the Net by now, but if you haven't seen it, here's the scoop: Zion, the last stronghold for humanity outside the Matrix, has been located by the Machines. Before they launch a surprise attack, though, a band of freedom fighters similar to Morpheus' group get a message out to the home world warning of an attack. Then they're massacred.
From there, "Reloaded" is expected to pick up, but little has been divulged about the plot. What I have heard is that a new breed of evil is created by the Agents from the first film to stop Neo. They succeed in booting him out of the Matrix while locking Trinity and Morpheus inside. In a race against time, Neo must find a way back into the system to save his comrades and destroy the new breed before they finish off his friends. The one fact I've heard worth mentioning is that "Reloaded" will end abruptly, a la "The Lord of The Rings," and pick up where it left off with the third film in November.
So what should we expect from Neo? He was killed at the end of the last film, but resurrected by Trinity's kiss as The One. His evolution into the ultimate warrior has now afforded him abilities he didn't possess before. From the previews, it's evident he can now fly. He also seems able to disperse dozens of Agent Smiths (clones of the main baddie from the first movie that Neo trouble with) with great ease.
And what about the supporting cast? By The end of "The Matrix," Trinity and Neo hooked up and Neo evolved into the leader of the humans, fulfilling the prophecy and completing Morpheus' mission. How will the on-screen romance play out in the film and what new job will arise of Morpheus to tackle?
Along with the returning cast is the addition of two new, major characters. The first is Jada Pinkett-Smith's character Niobe, who is supposedly a former flame of Morpheus. She will help Neo in his quest to get back into the system. Another addition to the cast is Italian import Monica Bellucci as Persephone. Bellucci, who audiences may recognize from "Tears of The Sun," will add evil sex appeal to rival Trinity as Persephone, the leader of the Machines.
It seems now the film series isn't just for kids and action freaks anymore. Scholars and professors are hooked, as evidenced by the philosophy section of the official Web site, www.what-isthematrix.warnerbros.com. Several great minds have posted their own opinions on the science and the fiction behind the film, the possibilities of human happiness in a computer-controlled world and religious inspirations in and of the films. It's recommended reading if you're a fan of the franchise and have some free time.
If you're an Internet junkie, you've probably already read some of the rumors flying around. Some people speculate Trinity will be revealed as an Agent, that there's a Matrix within the Matrix and that a new character will emerge who's mightier than Neo. I would probably dismiss the first rumor as just speculation, but if it were to happen, it would be one of the greatest twists in film history.
The other two rumors are more likely. I would almost expect a new tough guy to show up as a challenge for Neo's new powers. Also, the Matrix in a Matrix theory is very likely, too. In the first film, the evil Agent spoke of a "first Matrix" that failed. Maybe it didn't.
It's going to be a long month, but what's an extra 30 days for fans who've been waiting four years already? When "Reloaded" hits in May, the bar will be raised again for the film industry, just as it was when "The Matrix" revolutionized film making. That same bar will be lifted one more time in November when "The Matrix Revolutions" drops, but I'll save those thoughts for another day.