In addition to resolving the fates of Neo, Trinity, and the entire enslaved human race, ''The Matrix Revolutions'' faces the task of winning back fans who've begun to doubt that the sci-fi saga is truly The One. But judging by the film's first theatrical trailer, which hit the 'Net and theaters on Friday, ''Revolutions'' has a shot at overcoming gripes about ''The Matrix Reloaded'''s logy pace and Lucas-esque dialogue. We take a close look at the preview to discover what it reveals about the final ''Matrix'' movie:
TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER The machines, it seems, have a ruler, and in ''Revolutions,'' Neo engages him (it?) in some high-level negotiations. The machine boss, which meets Neo in the real, non-Matrix world, is a striking special effect: a giant sphere surrounded by spiky metal, with a babylike face floating at its center. In the trailer, Neo negotiates a deal with the machines to stop former Agent Smith -- suggesting a new complexity to the battle. In other words, if you were already confused, it's only getting worse.
FREE AGENT Smith, meanwhile, runs amok in ''Revolutions''; it appears the malevolent program has turned many of the inhabitants of the Matrix into his clones, threatening machines and humans alike. Plus, he's established a foothold into the real world, by taking over the body of Zion inhabitant Bane. The trailer shows that Neo and Smith (as Bane) will, for the first time, face off outside of the Matrix -- which means no wire-fu or flying. Judging from the bloody blindfold Neo wears in some scenes, Smith may resort to eye-gouging instead.
POWER PLAY But luckily for Neo, his mysterious ability to carry some of his superpowers into the real world (as seen in the end of ''Reloaded,'' when he stops the robotic Sentinels -- the tentacled machines that pursue human ships -- by raising his hand) was more than just a fluke. The trailer shows him repeating the stunt, though it only hints at how it's possible. The Oracle says that Neo, who fell into a coma in ''Reloaded'''s conclusion, is ''trapped in a place between this world and the machine world.'' Oh, right, THAT place.
WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? At its core, ''The Matrix Revolutions'' may well be a war movie. The trailer teems with massive shots of hundreds of Sentinels attacking Zion, with an army of humans (dressed for battle in nifty exo-skeletons) ready to take them on. But will the sci-fi feel of such battles further alienate fans who thrived on the first movie's small-scale hand-to-hand fights? Only the Oracle knows for sure -- we think.