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I just saw Revolutions last night, so I'm a bit late to the discussion. Hope some of what I contribute will be new to some people.

I liked the movie a lot, and I attribute that at least partly to the fact that I heard so many people bad mouth the movie beforehand. I knew what to expect going in. Morpheus was going to give some very bad speeches, and there was going a really long rave/orgy sequence that made no sense, and Neo's big fight with all the Smith's is somewhat pointless since he could just leave at any time. I understood all that, and so I was able to grip my armrests and just overlook it all. After that happened, the payoff was very great.

In my mind, I segment the movie into three roughly equal parts. Part one is the stupid zone, containing all I mentioned above. Part two is the action zone, containing the really cool stuff, the sword fight and the car chase. And then we have part three, which is the real meat of the movie. It's what the real Matrix fans were waiting to see: more exploration of what the matrix is, how it affects the minds of its inhabitants, and why those people escaped.

After watching the movie, my wife and I had a long discussion with my sister and her boyfriend, and he replayed the entire end of the movie for us, which he had downloaded on his Mac laptop. (Yes it's illegal. We paid to see the movie, now we're just analyzing it.) We watched Colonel Sanders give his speech, and argued about it minute by minute.

I'm going to write the remainder of this post in Question and Answer format -- not because I think these are your questions, but because these are questions we asked of each other and came up with some answers to. Some of the answers were mine, some were not; they just generally came out of our discussion. I'd welcome more discussion on the answers I put, or more questions.

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Q. Who is that sinister guy with the goatee who kept appearing in the "real world", especially the last shot of the movie?

A. Agent Smith. I was surprised that this question came up, because I thought it was fairly obvious, but none of the other three realized it. You have to be paying attention. Early in the movie, two humans are about to leave the Matrix. One of them is the Goatee Guy (GG). One leaves, but GG gets interrupted by Agent Smith. Smith turns GG into a copy of himself, and then Smith takes the exit. Hence, Smith imprinted his software onto GG's mind -- he's free of the Matrix.

Q. Who is the architect? (AKA Colonel Sanders, Robert E. Lee) Is/was he human?

A. We think the architect is purely software. The Matrix wasn't built by humans, it was built by other machines, who were oppressed by the humans. You can learn more about the history of the Matrix by watching the Animatrix clips that are available online.

Q. What's all this jargon about "choice"? Why do they need humans with free will? Why don't they just use cows or something? They could call it "The Mootrix".

A. I would like to take credit for that stupid joke, but I can't -- it was written (and apologized for) by Scott Kurtz of Player vs. Player comics. But the question is a serious one. Who cares if they have free will? Aren't they just batteries? My best guess is that the Matrix doesn't just use humans as "batteries" in the sense of burning calories from them -- somehow, the mental processes of an active mind are required for the process to continue. In the first movie, Agent Smith says "The original Matrix was a utopia, a perfect world, but humans rejected it, so they shut down." Ergo, human minds only run the machines if they are sentient somehow. Colonel Sanders said they were given a "choice", and 99% of the humans chose the Matrix. My wife thinks it's all a bunch of mystical BS, but you have to accept it to get what's coming next.

Q. Why does Zion exist? Is it a successful rebellion or something else? What's the meaning of "The One"?

A. Ah, this is where it gets interesting. Zion was created by the machines, as were the prophecy and the whole concept of "The One". It's like this. In order to keep running, the Matrix needs people to have minds that makes choices, as I said. But some people will always make the "wrong" choice and reject the Matrix. This is unavoidable. The computer could try to winnow out each rebellious individual, but that would be far too inefficient. So it picks one person who is likely to be a rebel and have strong leadership qualities, and makes that person "The One". The One will naturally draw all the "undesirables" out of the Matrix into Zion. Then, when Zion reaches a critical mass, they do a mass extermination. It's much easier this way. In effect, Neo is a debugger -- he cleans up faulty parts of the code, and this is an ongoing process.

Q. Is the oracle the "mother" of the matrix that Sanders referred to? Is she evil?

A. It is unclear whether Sanders really meant the oracle. I thought I remembered the conversation like this: Sanders talks about the mother, Neo says "The oracle?" and Sanders says "Of course." Watching it again, it turned out that Sanders' reply was a sarcastic "PLEASE. (Pause) As I was saying..." This could mean "What a stupid guess", or it could mean "Please shut up and let me finish". I would have guessed that it's the oracle too, but I can't interpret the answer.

Is she evil? Well, she seems to be a program created by the Matrix, fulfilling a purpose that was intended by the Matrix (helping Neo become the debugger), but that doesn't mean that she's doing it on purpose. Maybe part of her programming makes her really believe that she is helping people, and that's what she would like to do.

Q. Did Neo make the choice that Colonel Sanders wanted him to?

A. I think not. Sanders claimed that his choice was "so predictable", but I think he was pulling a little reverse psychology on him. The ideal outcome for Sanders is that Neo agrees to start building Zion 7.0 from scratch so the debugging process can continue. When Neo starts to go toward the Trinity door, Sanders tries to stop him by pontificating about hope and claiming he can't save her. In the end, Neo's personal love for Trinity is what makes his choice different from the past six Ones.

Sanders doesn't really want to kill all the humans in the Matrix; then he'd lose all his power. Maybe this is foreshadowed by Neo's conversation with the commander in the engineering room.

Q. How does Neo stop all the sentinels at the end?

A. There are two theories we came up with, neither of which is necessarily right. The first is that Agent Smith transferred some of his mind/abilities into Neo when he tried to replicate himself, so now Neo's mind is sort of hooked into the master computer telepathically.

The second theory I think is much more interesting: at the end of the movie, they are all STILL IN THE MATRIX. Even though they think they escaped, they are in another construct that looks just like the real world. Neo said "Something's different" and then he just KNOWS that he can stop those sentinels. This is what it's like to be "The One", but it doesn't seem like that would work in the real world, so he must still be in the virtual world. Of course, this is a cliche that appears in just about every Star Trek episode that involves the Holodeck, but it's still kind of cool.

Q. Is everyone in Zion dead at the end of the movie?

A. That's not clear to me. Neo says that everyone will be dead in 24 hours if they don't do something; minutes later, they get the grim report. Was Neo that wrong? If the second theory in the previous question is correct, then it might not be true. Maybe it's another trick by the computer. Even if they're in the real world, the dialogue isn't that clear about whether they all died. Maybe just the people on the defending ships died. I guess we'll just have to wait until November to find out.

Q. How does Agent Smith figure into all of it? What's his motivation?

A. We think Smith is now a virus in the system -- as he said, he really is "free". Interestingly, this means that the computer doesn't control him, so this is a factor that didn't exist in the previous six incarnations of Zion. Unpredictability seems to be a good thing, according to the theme of the movie. We predict that Agent Smith will somehow be a key to saving the day in the last movie, even if by accident. We're not sure what his motivation is, except maybe revenge or the fact that he hates the humans in general (refer to his speech about "the smell" in part one).

Q. Who the hell was that French guy?

A. I have no clue at all. Maybe he's a human in the Matrix, who just likes having power even if it's imaginary. Remember the restaurant scene in the first movie, where Cypher says he would rather be powerful and happy even if he knows it's not real? That guy might be the same. Or he might be just another program. Hard to say.

Q. What does the title of the movie mean?

A. This is kind of obvious, but clever because we didn't get it until we were discussing the other parts of the movie. The Matrix is going to be "reloaded" in the sense that the program is going to reboot once Zion is exterminated.

Q. What is the movie's position on religion?

A. This is a puzzle. With all the religious lingo in both movies, you'd think it's going for some kind of strange Zen/neo-Christian thing. But here's the kicker: Morpheus is the one who really believes in the prophecy and "The One", and it turns out that he was a pawn of the Matrix all along. This is what it WANTED. Morpheus forms a religion around Neo, and it turns out that this religion is just another form of control that was set up intentionally. Now there's an interesting perspective.
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