Springfield News-Leader (US), November 2, 2003

Fans hope 'Revolutions' wraps up loose ends

Keanu Reeves stars as The One, or Neo, in "The Matrix Revolutions," which features the Machine City, from which machines wage a battle upon the free residents of Zion, a city of rebels who escaped from the false world created by the machines.

Enter the Matrix

• At Campbell 16 Cine, 4005 South Ave: "Revolutions" opens at 8 a.m. Wednesday. Advance tickets available at the box office or by calling 890-8454.
• At Springfield 8, Battlefield Road and U.S. 65: Opens at 8 a.m. Wednesday, no advance ticket sales. Call 882-7469.
• At Branson I-MAX Theater, 3562 Shepherd of the Hills Expressway. Opens at 9 p.m. Wednesday. Advance tickets available at the box office or by calling 335-4832.

'The Matrix' theories

"The Matrix Revolutions" has movie goers speculating about the plot lines, outcomes and characters. Here are few theories bouncing around water coolers, chat rooms and home theaters:

MATRIX WITHIN A MATRIX

This theory assumes the Wachowski brothers will use a "Russian doll" plot device whereby the "real" world of freed humans is actually another Matrix and another form of control. Some say this explains why Neo is able to use his powers outside the Matrix at the end of "Reloaded."

THE DEATH OF NEO

Because of the Christ-like symbolism associated with the character, some believe Neo will sacrifice his own life to bring an end to the Matrix and free the human race.

MEROVINGIAN AS A PAST 'ONE'

In his quest, Neo must free the Keymaker from imprisonment by a man named the Merovingian. When he refuses to give up the Keymaker, the Merovingian's girlfriend Persephone does it behind his back. Persephone says the Merovingian was once "like him," referring to Neo. Some say this indicates the Merovingian is a past "One" left over from an older version of the Matrix.

PERSEPHONE AS THE 'MOTHER'

In his conversation with Neo, the Architect says he needed a partner to help create the Matrix. If he is the father of the system, the other entity would be its mother. When Neo replies, "The Oracle," the Architect scoffs. This had led some to believe he was actually speaking of Persephone, not The Oracle.

WINNING THE WAR

The Oracle's prophecy says the coming of The One will signal the end of the war between man and the machines. Although it's assumed the humans will win — and destroy the Matrix — some believe man and machines will learn to co-exist in the end.

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by Michael A. Brothers

What is the Matrix?

The question has plagued moviegoers ever since sci-fi thriller and philosophical mind-bender "The Matrix" hit theaters in 1999.

The question marks multiplied like Agent Smiths when "The Matrix Reloaded" was released in May. The second part of a trilogy, "Reloaded" ended with an abrupt cliffhanger.

Now come the answers.

On Wednesday, the fates of Neo, Trinity, Morpheus and the rest of the human race will finally be revealed with the release of the saga's concluding chapter, "The Matrix Revolutions."

For "Matrix" fans, "Revolutions" is a chance to confirm or deny their myriad plot theories.

For some, it's a chance for the trilogy's creators, Andy and Larry Wachowski, to redeem the franchise after a somewhat disappointing showing with "Reloaded," which many perceived to be more style than substance.

"It really had mixed reviews and it seemed kind of hit-and-miss in terms of how it was received," says Scott Adams, 32, of Springfield. "It just seemed like there wasn't a whole lot of depth to it. It was a lot of effects, a lot of flash, but not a whole lot of substance."

"Reloaded" featured two much-hyped action scenes: the "burly brawl" in which Neo battles 100 replicas of his nemesis Agent Smith, and a high-speed car chase on a crowded freeway.

Although a cool concept, some fans thought the brawl with Agent Smith looked fake — more Xbox game than special effects. Much of the fighting in the rest of the film felt gratuitous at times. And there's the ending, or lack thereof.

Despite some flaws, audiences plugged into "Reloaded" in a big way. The film has earned $734 million at box offices worldwide, according to Warner Bros. Studios.

Fan Zoey Engel, 22, says he truly enjoyed the flick. He didn't expect it to be quite as satisfying as the original movie because it is the middle portion of a three-part tale.

"I knew it was going to have a cliffhanger," he says. "In a sense, 'Reloaded' is like 'The Empire Strikes Back.' It ends on a bummer, on a down note. But (the characters) come back in the third movie. That's what you hope, anyway."

Of course, the original "Matrix" was a hard act to follow. Its innovative "bullet time" freeze-frame camera work revolutionized action flicks and has been imitated and parodied over and over since its release.

The film's plot struck a chord with an increasingly homogenized American public. It was an action flick for the brain.

Is there such a thing as choice? How do you define reality?

"The amazing thing about 'The Matrix' is when you walk out of that film, you ask a question that Plato wanted us to ask, Descartes wanted us to ask — Is the reality as we perceive it the true reality?" says Glenn Yeffeth, author of "Taking the Red Pill: Science, Philosophy and Religion in The Matrix" (BenBella Books; $17.95).

"I think almost everyone who walks out of 'The Matrix' at least for a split second thinks, 'Boy, I wonder if we are in the Matrix?' "

For the uninitiated, "The Matrix" story arc breaks down like this:

The human race has been enslaved by machines.

In the first film Neo, played by Keanu Reeves, learns the world as he knows it isn't real. Super-intelligent machines use humans as an energy source, placating them by hooking their minds into an artificial reality program — the Matrix.

After being "unplugged" and introduced to a post-Armageddon world ruled by machines, Neo joins a band of rebels led by Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and begins to fall in love with Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss).

Morpheus believes Neo is The One, the messiah who will save the human race, as prophesied by a psychic known as The Oracle. At the end of the film, Neo fully realizes his power to manipulate Matrix programming.

The result is a slew of eye-candy fight scenes and explosive action.

In the second film we see Zion, the city of freed humans, and meet a larger cast of fighters staving off a machine invasion of Zion. Through his exploration of the Matrix, Neo meets The Architect — the original programmer.

Then, the bombshell: The Architect tells Neo that Zion and the Matrix have been created and destroyed five times. He is the sixth One. The power of The One to manipulate the Matrix is a glitch the Architect cannot control. In order to contain The One, a system was created to return him to The Source code, thereby rebooting the Matrix and allowing the human race to continue — albeit under enslavement.

Instead of saving Zion by returning to The Source, Neo chooses to return to the Matrix and save Trinity, whose life is in danger. The film ends abruptly, just as Neo discovers that he can use his powers in the "real" world outside the Matrix.

Is that world real? Is the Oracle helping Neo fight the system or is she a part of it? How can Neo end the Matrix cycle? Will Zion be saved or destroyed?

Can the Wachowskis wrap up all the loose ends without resorting to cheesy plot devices?

Fans' burning desire to know how it all turns out — and their hope that "Revolutions" will leave them more satisfied than "Reloaded" — will likely add up to a huge opening week for the film at the box office.

Consider this: "Reloaded" set the record for the largest single week ever with $158.2 million and reached the $150 million mark in a record-breaking six days domestically, according to Warner Bros. That's without a cliffhanger at the end of the original movie.

And Warner Bros. has announced it will debut the film at the exact same hour — the zero hour — all over the globe. "Revolutions" will light up screens 8 a.m. Wednesday in Springfield, 2 p.m. in London, and 11 p.m. in Tokyo. On the franchise's official Web site, www.thematrix.com, a clock counts the days, hours and minutes to the zero hour.

It's the first movie to be released at the exact same time worldwide.

Kendra Sparrow, general manager at Campbell 16 Cine, says advance ticket sales for "Revolutions" are on par with "Reloaded." The film will play on three screens at the theater.

Springfield 8 isn't selling advance tickets, and manager James Jackson says he expects people will be lined up Tuesday night to re-enter the Matrix on Wednesday. "Revolutions" will play on two screens there.

The zero hour is something completely new for both theaters, where employees are used to working afternoons and late night shifts.

"People usually look for a midnight show the night before, so this is very different," Sparrow says.

Dave Rumley, a "Matrix" fan and young adults pastor at Central Assembly of God, says the zero hour concept is cool, but nothing more than a gimmick.

"They're trying to keep thinking outside the box and continue that vibe," he says. "But I don't care if I'm watching it at the exact same time as everyone else. I just want to watch it."

Rumley, who has a master's degree in theology, is deeply interested in the philosophical and religious references within "The Matrix." He sometimes uses the movie as way to relate his sermons to the young adults group at Central Assembly.

"(The Wachowski brothers) are coming from a post-modern perspective because they've got different religions blended together," he says. "They've really thought about the philosophical backdrop of the movie."

In the first film, Neo is betrayed by a member of his group, much like Judas betrayed Jesus in the New Testament. Neo's Christ-like role makes many wonder if he will sacrifice his own life to save the rest of humanity at the end of the trilogy.

Zion is a biblical reference, and the concept of reality not being real is a principle tenet of Buddhism, Rumley says. Agent Smith and Neo have become intertwined in a ying-yang, good-evil relationship, the consequences of which will be fully revealed in "Revolutions."

Rumley is hoping for a juicy plot line payoff from the Wachowskis.

"To me it seems like they are going for making some kind of a statement," he says. "They've gone through some kind of philosophical journey in life."

In addition to religion, the Wachowskis borrowed heavily from established science fiction themes.

Science fiction writer Paul Di Filippo, author of "Ribofunk" (Four Walls Eight Windows; $20) identifies numerous literary precedents, notably the work of Philip K. Dick, whose 1981 novel "Valis" features a central character who's awakened by a pink light beam (much like the red pill taken by Neo) to realize that his world is actually an illusion that obscures the real age, a Roman era known as the "Black Iron Prison."

Di Filippo says it's not unusual for Hollywood to ride behind the curve when adopting the ideas of science-fiction writers. "Star Wars," he says, sprang from the science fiction of the 1940s, as well as such authors as Frank Herbert ("Dune") and Isaac Asimov ("The Foundation" trilogy).

Much of "The Matrix" takes its cues from science fiction's so-called cyberpunk movement, perhaps best represented by William Gibson's novel "Neuromancer," which coined the term "cyberspace" in 1984. In the book, hacker "cowboys" enter virtual reality to unravel a Dashiell Hammett-style mystery.

But "The Matrix" has garnered a much larger audience than those novels and may even be altering the way people think and act.

Di Filippo says recent protests against globalization, including the Seattle riots during the 1999 world trade conference, exhibit a Matrix-type attitude.

"I'm wondering if maybe the most lasting impact of 'The Matrix' may not be this kind of 'fight the power' anti-authoritarian take on things," he says. "Nobody's saying necessarily that (President) Bush is an android or it's all an illusion or something, and yet there's this sense there's this structure that's bigger than us. It's come to overwhelm us and render the life of the individual rather insignificant. So somehow, I think 'The Matrix' films may be simultaneously tapping into that and fostering it."

Local fans agree that "The Matrix" has already made a lasting impact on movie-making, especially on sci-fi and action films.

But will the films be regarded as the greatest movie trilogy of all time, right up there with the original "Star Wars" films?

That's just another question mark to add to the list.

"It depends on how the third one ends," says Brian Bounds, a 27-year-old fan. "If a lot of questions don't get answered, a lot of people might be mad and won't like it as much as they would have otherwise. But I think it will leave a legacy, definitely. It's already created a kind of subculture with all the chat rooms, Web sites, video games and comics they've created."

Gannett News Service contributed to this report.




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Matrix Revolutions, The

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