So much anticipation for one little film. Well actually, for one huge film, especially so when taking its budget into consideration. We know what can be expected as far as special effects are concerned, but the real question is: Does the movie deliver what the first movie did? That is, does it deliver intellectual stimulation and a story to die for, all mixed in with the perfect combination of innovation in special effects, stunts and cinematography? If the answer is mostly "yes" I'll take the red pill, if the answer is mostly "no," I'll take the blue. Red it is!

The Matrix Reloaded presents in itself a sequel to the 1999 hit sci-fi flick "The Matrix." It is the second chapter in the trilogy. The film takes place 6 months since we last left off and many more people have been freed since. Much has changed. A whole new way of government has even been set up. But an attack is set to take place on Zion. In merely 72 hours 250,000 probes will manage to drill into the depths of Zion and destroy both it and its inhabitants. To add to that tension, Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) has been "freed" and is now able to copy himself, much like a virus. So Neo (Keanu Reeves), Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) must continue their elegant quest for freedom from the machines. Meanwhile they gain greater insight to the composition of The Matrix, themselves, and what it really means to be free.

First things first, the stunts and the special effects are spectacular. At one point Neo is fighting off what appears to be a hundred "Agent Smiths." Despite the obvious usage of computer animation in this scene, it comes of believable. Even Neo's flight scenes are beyond stunning. In another sequence there is a battle with the newly introduced characters: The Virus Twins (Adrian Rayment as Twin One, Neil Rayment as Twin Two, who also happen to be quite humorous). The twins have ghost like capabilities which allow them to pass through anything. The film does an excellent job of combining the supernatural effects with the biological space of the world.

Witty remarks definitely help make this movie enjoyable. And many of the supporting cast members get to make a few. Some new characters include Jada Pinkett Smith as Niobe, Monica Bellucci as Persephone, Lambert Wilson as Merovingian, Steve Bastoni as Captain Sorren and Nona M. Gaye as Zee. Unfortunately some of these characters are not especially necessary, nor interesting. We don't spend all that much time getting to know them, yet we are expected to feel for them. I didn't.

Aside from new characters, this time around there is plenty of religious zeal and deep philosophy intertwined. It's a shame that the movie moves so fast that we can't catch a moment's breath to think about it. That is one of the biggest problems with the film. It moves so fast at times that the substance gets left behind as it jumps from one place to the next, overwhelmed by the sheer amount of fights, new characters, effects and story lines. Similarly, the plot itself stands on extremely shaky foundation. It is all over the place, disorienting the viewer. I suspect that the odd, often speedy pacing is there to encourage DVD buyers and second theatrical viewings, as you will most likely need repeat viewings to fully comprehend everything. Nonetheless, the little bits where we do get some time to think add much substance to the story. There is discussion on what is control, power, love, purpose and humanity...

But even philosophy can't replace the void that has come as result of having already been introduced to the film. In the first Matrix we spent some time discovering what the Matrix was, who Neo was, what "speed-time" was... Now that experience is lost. That sense of novelty is gone forever, and that is what made the first picture so much stronger.

THE MATRIX RELOADED is no doubt a stylish, often jaw-dropping, passionate and philosophical production that at times falls flat because of storytelling tribulations. But nonetheless, it is worth watching, even if merely for the moments when the picture actually it works. Cause when it does -- it causes a ravishing effect.

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