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MATRIX RELOADED, THE

SYNOPSIS:
With only hours before Zion, the last human enclave, is destroyed by 250,000 machine Sentinels, programmed to annihilate humans from the face of the earth, Morpheus (Laurence Fishburn) remains firm in his belief that Neo (Keanu Reeves), as The One, will fulfil the Oracle’s prophecy and end the war. Under this great pressure and driven by his love for Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), Neo returns to The Matrix with Morpheus to exploit their strengths and fight the Machines, but even here they are undermined by doubters – and out there is the supercharged Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), whose connection to Neo is just as dangerous as his incredible array of powers. Even as Neo questions his abilities, he is tested by an impossible choice. (To be concluded…)


Review by Andrew L. Urban:
High budget, high concept, high drama and high level action are the highlights, but Reloaded has loads of love, too, and much more: it’s sci-fi with raunch, for one thing. Death defying stunts, by the dozen. Multiplying Agent Smiths who can morph you into another Smith at the poke of a hand into your ribcage. Fight sequences that draw no blood but demolish buildings. Highway mayhem shot with speeding motorbike-cam. And if you want to get Reloaded with the mystical/spiritual side of The Matrix, this one’s for you, too, peppered with profundities and set in an apocalyptic tomorrow where machines threaten to annihilate humans. This is not a totally original concept, I grant you, but the brothers Wachowski have made something new out of the idea, layering Reloaded with philosophical and mystical references. You don’t have to dig deep to find any number of references drawn from Christian mythology, like Neo’s long black robe, seemingly pilfered from a priest’s locker, his disturbing visions, his appellation as The One, his moment of doubt, his healing powers, names of other characters like Trinity and Morpheus … and the plot itself, in which Neo has to save mankind from evil (machines). This metaphor feeds our ongoing longing for a saviour in the real world, whether temporal or divine. But these are elements we can pick up or ignore, or perceive others in their place – which feed into our subconscious and drive the film’s hyper mood, giving it some sort of epic grandeur. After all, we’re witness to the potential wipe-out of the species. It sure feels as though Australian production designer Owen Paterson (notable collaborator with Steph Elliott on Priscilla and Woop Woop) digs this stuff; his retro industrial look married to high tech is gutsy and primitive and futuristic all at once, as if he was working on the second coming staged at some mining camp under the outback in the year 2222. Indeed, by that time, blacks, coloureds, women and sophisticated computer programs are all equal with the white man. Hugo Weaving and Carrie-Anne Moss walk away with the acting honours; Keanu Reeves stays mainly in his special Neo gear (not clothes) except for a sensual love scene, and Laurence Fishburn’s Morpheus has acquired serious stolidity since The Matrix first loaded up on our screens. Take special note of the works of editor Zach Staenberg, composer Don Davis, fight choreographer Yuen Wo Ping, and sound designer Dane A. Davis, who claims to have been born quietly but has lived noisily ever since. Their contributions are every bit as valuable as the Wachowskis’ and their cast. Likewise the teams of digital artisans who make Matrix style movie magic, from invisible forces to impossible faces. The battle between good and evil, between life and death - or between two equally compelling courses of action – continues, to be concluded with Revolutions. 

Review by Louise Keller:
The Matrix magic continues in this second spectacular instalment, exploding onto the screen with high impact effects, great stunts and an intriguing mix of philosophy, mythology and technology. This is a futuristic sci-fi thriller entwined with its intense love story. There are no answers, only questions as a myriad doors open and close, as the protagonists tumble deeper and deeper into the ultimate rabbit hole for theorists or simply those who enjoy a puzzle. The Matrix Reloaded is all about the look, the feel and the sound – and all are impressive. All dressed in black, wearing shades and performing the kind of moves that seem impossible, even in your dreams. Bending and stretching the boundaries of classic Kung Fu and Eastern martial arts with its breathtaking wire work, the renowned Wachowski Brothers have created a thrilling fusion of action and effects that are coloured by emotions and characterised by a high-tech fantasy comic-book style. The virtual cinematography propels the film to new heights. These technical achievements allow the storytelling to be visceral or contemplative, with sizzling levels of innovation. But best of all, the gee-whiz reality that is so realistically created, stretches our imagination and entices us to connect to the characters, the storyline and the events. The spectacle of effects and transfixing sound is not gratuitous, but a profound part of the storytelling process. ‘You don’t really know someone until you fight them,’ Neo is told. And the fights are awe-inspiring. There’s a stunning sequence in which Neo single-handedly fights a multitude of Agent Smiths. It took nine weeks to perfect this five and a half minute routine working with twelve stunt men, and Keanu Reeves’ fitness is blatantly apparent. But he is not the only one. Carrie-Anne Moss simply glows with taut athleticism and Neo and Trinity together make an appealing and intense couple of love-birds. Both Reeves and Moss exude calmness and stillness that translate into acute magnetism; we genuinely care about them both. But all the cast are excellent: Laurence Fishburne, Jada Pinkett Smith, Harold Perrineau, and there’s a high voltage scene with the sumptuous Monica Bellucci which you will definitely not forget. Hugo Weaving makes Agent Smith something very special, and I love his line: ‘The best thing about being me is ….. that there are so many me-s,’ as he transforms another victim into yet another Agent Smith look-alike. There’s an enthralling 14 minute breakneck freeway chase with a devastating car chase, a heart-pumping motorcycle race in which Trinity is riding against the traffic, a barrage of cars smashing, crashing and overturning like a pack of cards on the highway, and impossible feats and stunts performed on the roof of a speeding truck. This is an event of a film, ready to blow you away. If you’re scared of heights, hang onto your seats; The Matrix Reloaded is an electrifying trip with no safety net.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

RELOADED REVEALED - the digital power

MATRIX RELOADED, THE (M)
(US)

CAST: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Matt McColm, Jada Pinkett Smith, Monica Bellucci, Lambert Wilson, Harold Perrineau Jr., Harry J. Lennix, Clayton Watson, Daniel Bernhardt, Christine Anu

PRODUCER: Joel Silver

DIRECTOR: Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski

SCRIPT: Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Bill Pope

EDITOR: Zach Staenberg

MUSIC: Don Davis

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Owen Paterson

RUNNING TIME: 138 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 16, 2003







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