The next five months are going to seem like an eternity. Check out this article on The Matrix in this week’s Newsweek, where we learn:
- On the climactic car chase in Reloaded (Matrix 2): The ensuing sequence may be the most audaciously conceived, thrillingly executed car chase ever filmed. Sounds like hype, yeah. But you’ve gotta see this thing. The scene features two kung fu battles in speeding vehicles-one in the back seat of a Cadillac, the other on the roof of an 18-wheeler truck. There’s also a heart-stopping motorcycle chase through oncoming traffic and enough wrecked cars to keep a junkyard in business for years. Fans will go particularly bonkers over one shot of an agent leaping from atop a moving car onto the hood of another and, with his feet, crushing the entire thing into a pretzel. Says cinematographer Bill Pope: “It’s going to make ‘The Fast and the Furious’ look like ‘The Slow and the Dimwitted’.”
- On the climax to Revolutions (Matrix 3): A climactic battle like we’ve never seen before: a 17-minute sequence that alone cost about two thirds of the budget of the first “Matrix.”
- On building their own freeway: The freeway chase was the first sequence the Wachowskis tackled for the sequels, and they spent months searching for the perfect location. The brothers wanted their freeway to have a sense of doom about it; not surprisingly, most urban planners try to avoid that. So the search came up empty. The brothers’ solution was a tad unconventional: they dumped the idea of shooting on an existing freeway and built their own. In February 2001, they hired a construction crew to erect a two-mile loop – complete with exit signs, dividers, an on ramp and an overpass – on an old U.S. naval base in Alameda, Calif. When they first heard the idea, the construction guys nearly keeled over. “They actually said to us, ‘We’re not doing this’,” recalls executive producer Grant Hill. “They couldn’t believe it was for a movie. They said, ‘Do you realize how much this costs?’” Correct answer: $300,000 per quarter mile. “We just looked at each other and said, ‘OK, we can do that’.”
- On the special effects in the two films: Gaeta’s visual-effects company, Esc (as in the “escape” button on a keyboard), and six other FX houses will have to deliver more than 2,500 separate shots, many of which will have taken nearly three years to complete. (By comparison, the first “Matrix” had 412 FX shots.) The price tag: a whopping $100 million, a figure that includes a new facility for Esc on the base in Alameda. Gaeta’s previous company, Manix, won a visual-effects Oscar for the first “Matrix” – an upset victory over George Lucas’s “The Phantom Menace.” But Manix was far too small to handle what the Wachowskis wanted for the sequels. “Reloaded” and “Revolutions” required technology that, at the time, hadn’t been invented yet.
I cannot wait.