'The bar has been raised so high that there is no bar'

Preview by Jack Foley

HARD to believe, but even as Yoda twirls his light-sabre and Spider-Man spins his webs, the hype machine is being cranked up on another movie favourite - a full 12 months before it is due for release.

Warner Bros have very craftily inserted a 75-second teaser trailer for their Matrix sequels right in the middle of this year's blockbuster race, whetting appetites the world over for some more kick-arse action featuring Keanu Reeves in very dark shades.

The Matrix sequels are back! That's all there is to say. Only we still have to wait a whole darn year for it and then, like buses, two will be coming along at once - Reloaded and Revolutions.

The trailer, though, is classic Matrix. Neo is back, as is Fishburne (the man with that voice), Carrie-Anne Moss, Huge Weaving and, of course, those very special effects. For starters, we have slow-mo cars spinning in mid-air, fight sequences galore and ... need I go on?

Producer Joel Silver is understandably euphoric. At a recent screening of Attack of the Clones in Westwood, LA, he went along to see the trailers, which included Minority Report and The Sum of All Fears among them. This year's incoming movies went down well, of course, but the best reaction was reserved for his sequels.

"It was unbelievable... I've never seen a collective response for a piece of entertainment like that before... ever," he confessed. Needless to say, the kids went crazy.

And the movie isn't even finished yet! Silver, cast and co are still on set in Sydney, working there way through some 150 sets, including nearly two miles of freeway for a climactic chase sequence (in California).

Romours abound, of course, about the plot of the sequels; although Silver remains determined to keep as much of it a secret as possible, so that 'people can really experience the picture' themselves.

What is thought to be true, however, is that Reloaded and Revolutions comprise one big movie, split in two, which takes place over a 24-hour period. Reloaded is said to concentrate on Neo's attempts to come to terms with his own 'heroic' status in between bouts of fighting with Weaving's Agent Smith (including a sequence in a Chinese restaurant and a mirrored room), while Revolutions will visit 'scorched Earth', where bio-mechanical machines are waging war against Zion (the last human city).

New cast members include Monica Bellucci (of Malena/Brotherhood of the Wolf fame), Nona Gaye (who replaced the late Aaliyah) and Jada Pinkett Smith, while the budget for both projects is rumoured to be somewhere in the region of $300 million, in return for which audiences are promised shots so complex and mind-boggling that they will never be attempted again.

The countdown begins now, I guess. Although given that over a million people downloaded the teaser trailer from the official site in just 24 hours when it was first released, that wait might be too long to imagine.

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