Genre:  Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Rating:  R (for sci-fi violence, brief sexual content)

Release Date:  November 5, 2003 (theatrical and IMAX)

Actors:  Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Monica Bellucci, Daniel Bernhardt, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Matt McColm, Harold Perrineau Jr., Harry Lennix, Stuart Wells

Director:  Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski

Special Notes:  “Everything that has a beginning has an end,” and so it is that in a year where Nemo and Neo ruled, we have witnessed movie history in the making. In 1999, the first “Matrix” hit the theaters and forever changed the way we looked at action sequences. The now infamous scenes of Neo dodging bullets and doing cartwheels on the walls, while unloading his gun with a spray of slow motion bullets, set the standard for special effects in other movies the following year. Even commercials adopted the “Matrix look.” This last summer “The Matrix Reloaded” was the highest-grossing film of 2003 and became the highest-grossing R-rated film in history.

Plot:  In this climactic conclusion of the epic trilogy, the rebels' quest for freedom continues with Neo pursuing the dark side and fighting a multitude of Agent Smiths while the whole city defends itself in the final battle. As the Machine Army wages devastation on Zion, the citizens do what they can to fight off the relentless swarm of Sentinels that look like some sort of plague from the depths of Matrix hell. Can Neo save the day with his one-liners chock full of meaning and powers that can crush buildings? Will we ever find out why some people wear sunglasses underground and some don’t? And why does the gang get to wear cool leather outfits the minute they leave Zion but prefer to wear drab brown underground?  While I’m at it … if the Oracle is so wise and all knowing, why does she smoke? Doesn’t she know those things will kill her? And why does the master machine in the heart of menacing machine city, remind me of “The Great and Powerful OZ?”

Good:  Answers to these and other questions you may have will most likely be answered in this final battle saga. But then again, they may not. As far as I can tell, good triumphs over evil because what used to be evil helps good destroy the supreme evil. Confused yet? This last trilogy is a continuation of the battle between man and machine so it is dark and full of intense fight scenes with some of the most bizarre, wicked looking machines you’ve ever seen. There are incredible ballet-worthy martial arts fight sequences with one in particular that has the enemy walking on the ceiling while shooting upside down – very inventive and unique. (Don’t worry – I haven’t spoiled a thing for you.) Pinkett-Smith gets to be the heroine this time out, and her flying skills kick Sentinel struts. Neo and Trinity battle evil together while the Oracle bakes cookies and shares her wisdom. All of it culminates in an ending that will leave you cheering and relieved, but also a bit sad. Understanding the ultimate meaning of what the Wachowski brothers meant in this trilogy could take weeks of discussion around the water cooler, but I don’t really care what it all means. All I know is that I enjoyed the creative and unusual way this story is told, I adore Reeves and enjoy his acting no matter what his critics say, and I appreciate the skill and talent it took to create a trilogy.

Bad:  I find it sadly ironic that although this story is filled with spiritual metaphors, the writers felt it necessary to load the story with profanity and unnecessary religious profanity, especially in one character's case where it was overkill. Brief sexual content includes a couple of steamy kisses. Also, there's a high body count from sci-fi violence. Special effects abound including ones that show people with bloody faces, a man whose eyes are burnt out and battle victims.

Bottom Line:  This last addition will probably make movie history at the box office and complete the amazing journey that has forever changed the way we see special effects in movies. The Wachowski brothers have created a world that sci-fi geeks will be talking about for years to come and future directors and special effects people will be emulating for years. This isn’t a movie for everyone because of the subject matter; you definitely have to be a fan of the first two to understand and enjoy it. But it is an entertaining movie with thrill-a-minute action, creative visual effects and a wild and interesting ride. Good job, Mr. Anderson!