What is the Matrix? The more important question has been, when is The Matrix? That is, when will the sequels hit theaters? It has been a long journey for fans of the movie, who have been waiting more than four years for writer-directors Andy and Larry Wachowski to cough up follow-ups to their groundbreaking 1999 cyberpunk spectacle. Well, after all those years, finally -- finally! -- the first of two sequels, The Matrix Reloaded, will upload to theaters on May 15. (The end of the trilogy, The Matrix Revolutions, will follow in November.)
Over the next few pages, you'll find all you need to know to plug back into The Matrix. There's a primer on Zion, Squiddies, and other plot elements the supersecretive and press-shy Wachowski brothers programmed the first time around. Then you'll meet two of the newest members of the Matrix world -- one good, one evil, both gorgeous -- and visit with an old enemy. As dedicated fans know, the original movie was deeply influenced by the otherworldly artistry of Japanese animation. So we also offer a comprehensive guide to The Animatrix, nine short films commissioned by the Wachowskis to provide crucial back story, expand upon the mythology, and of course, act as a unique promotional tool for the new movies.
Tough babes, superbad villains, and razor's-edge animation? All that's left for you to figure out is whether there actually is a spoon.
Speaking of which, when was the last time you actually watched The Matrix? We're guessing it's been a while. And let's face it -- if you were anything like a goodly number of our nation's college students, you probably saw it, uh, altered. (Suffice it to say that experience adds a whole new layer of meaning to all those whoas.) So for the purposes of memory refreshment, upload this data file to your cortex. You may not know kung fu, but you'll be ready for Reloaded.
-- The story so far: In the future, machines have enslaved human beings, growing them in pods to harness their bioelectric energy as a power source. To keep human brains active and happy, everyone is plugged into the Matrix, an artificial reality that looks just like the present day. A few intrepid souls have escaped and live in the last human city of Zion, where they launch attacks against the machines and try to liberate powerful hackers. The Matrix follows Morpheus' quest to find the leader who will head up the revolt against the machines and free the humans. He finds him in Neo (Keanu Reeves), a computer freak who turns out to be the most powerful person in the digital world.
-- After evolving into ''The One'' at the end of the first movie, Neo is now all-powerful within the Matrix. He can fly. He can stop bullets. He can defeat scores of bad guys single-handedly. And he'll have to, considering that the evil Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) and his digital goons are on his trail.
-- Having fulfilled his destiny by finding Neo, Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), captain of the rebel ship Nebuchadnezzar, will now act as a general in the antimachine army. A very important general, obviously.