Matrix Reloaded: An Insider’s Perspective

By Paul Martin May 30th, 2001, in The Matrix Reloaded

This comes from Corona!

We’ve been talking to someone working on the production for The Matrix Reloaded, and what they’re telling us is exciting stuff. But not all the news they had to share was good news; in fact, it’s sounding like the next Matrix movie will either be more amazing than anything we’ve seen before…or a lot of people are going to have nervous breakdowns. Or both.

Get the inside scoop on what’s going down as well as our source’s description of one of the new film’s major fight sequences, plus hints as to a couple of other scenes, a casting rumor and a new shot taken behind-the-scenes by another scooper. It’s all up for you to gawk at on our page for The Matrix Reloaded.

May 29, 2001… One of our San Fran readers took a photo of the production filming the actors inside a car and wanted to share (left). [Thanks to ‘Xmatthys’ for providing the photojournalism.]

Last week Dark Horizons had a report that Arion Salazar (the bass player for the band Third Eye Blind) might have a bit part in The Matrix Reloaded. This report remains unconfirmed at the present time. [Scooped by ‘Internet 24-7’; originally appeared on Dark Horizons.]

And now we come to that part of our show where we turn the reigns over to one of our sources. Over the past few weeks we’ve been in contact with a number of individuals who have told us their side of the story — read into that what you will. One of our sources, who we’re now codenaming ‘Bent Spoon’ for security reasons, has told us more interesting tidbits about how the Matrix Reloaded production is coming along.

Before we dive into Bent Spoon’s scoop, one of the things we feel the need to mention is that all of our scoopers and sources are mentioning the high level of work ethic and commitment that everyone working on the production is showing. Everything we’re told is that the bar has been set very high this time for the Matrix sequels.

Now, on to what our insider told us about The Matrix Reloaded. Please be aware we’re treating this stuff as possible SPOILER material so you’ll have to swipe it with your cursor to reveal the content. Live with it.

A couple of months ago you may remember the reports about Universal Pictures CEO Ron Meyer speaking to a classroom of college students. During the course of Meyer’s talk he apparently spilled the details on a certain special effects sequence that takes place in The Matrix Reloaded. According to our scooper, Meyer either made a mistake describing the sequence, or the scoopers who reported it to the Internet movie sites made a mistake in the translation. In any case, it turns out the FX that were mentioned in the Meyer report aren’t entirely correct as far as to what’s going to be seen in the movie. And with that, here come the SPOILERS:

The scene in question will be one of Matrix 2‘s biggest fight scenes and quite possibly its most complex from a special effects point-of-view. In it Neo (Keanu Reeves) is fighting over one hundred Agents (all looking exactly like Hugo Weaving, a.k.a. Agent Smith) in a totally CGI, photo-realistic environment. Spread around Neo and the hundred Agents are completely CGI extras, “synthespians” reacting to the combat as it occurs. Various cuts in the action will incorporate “bullet-time” perspectives but we’re told these shots are the next generation in the bullet-time concept. Visual effects supervisor and bullet-time creator John Gaeta will be pushing himself and the technology to the limit to pull off this incredibly complex scene — and that’s not even counting the film’s other special effects or bullet-time sequences. Using an analogy from another film, this fight between the Smith doubles and Neo has the same degree of difficulty as the final space dogfight sequence seen in Return of the Jedi, which at the time set a record for the number of blue screen shots and models used in a scene. This will be The Matrix Reloaded‘s Mount Everest to climb.

And right there in the middle of the crew, between the team of special effects technicians from Escape Entertainment and the Wachowski brothers is John Gaeta. Bent Spoon says that already Gaeta’s workload is redlined; he’s working on pulling off the FX as well as preparing himself for when the movie switches locations (and continents) to Australia. And it all has to be done by next year, when the film is supposed to come out!

But has the bar might be raised too high for Gaeta and the Escape team? We’re told a similar situation occurred last year for a SIGGRAPH demo that Gaeta directed. The staff felt that there wasn’t enough time to do the demo’s FX but Gaeta tried tackling the problem head on, only to find (in the opinion of Bent Spoon) that the end result was disappointing for all involved. The same thing could happen with the FX on the new Matrix films, albeit on a larger and more costly scale. And Bent Spoon is unsure if they’ll cross the finish line in time — and that the quality of the end product might suffer.

It could happen, or the design team could perform another miracle. All we know right now is this: ILM isn’t the only special effects company trying to rewrite the rule books (and putting in massive overtime hours) working on Star Wars 2. The M2 effects team is already sweating hard on Matrix Reloaded work, and the Wachowskis and Gaeta have set the bar even higher for the sequels than their Oscar-winning work done on the first film.

And the massive car chase sequence is equally as hard as the virtual brawl between Neo and the Smiths…just in a completely different way.

But there’s still room for optimism. From what Bent Spoon has seen of the recently-filmed Zion sequences, what the Wachowskis are filming looks amazing. We’re told that the brothers brought in hundreds of extras from minority backgrounds for these shots. We’re told that one scene in particular recalls the “spiral shot” sequence the Wachowskis had in Bound, but far cooler.

We think that’s enough for now.

[‘Bent Spoon’ has a cousin who is a butterknife.]

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