After over a decade of CGI-heavy blockbusters, it's hard to see the magic in a high-tech movie edit. While glossy, computerized effects felt exciting and new in the late '90s or early 2000s, they've since become overused, often to a bland and lifeless effect. It's much more impressive when a skilled practical effects team makes it possible to film a shot without a ton of technological embellishments.
A recently resurfaced behind-the-scenes video from Reddit revealed the charming, DIY spirit of the climactic clone fight in 2003's The Matrix Revolutions. In this scene, hacker messiah Neo (Keanu Reeves) and devious AI antagonist Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) meet for their final showdown in an eerie, dystopian landscape. Countless copies of Agent Smith hover in the background, intensifying the dark, uncanny feel of the scene. The production team accomplished this by creating a mold of Weaving's face, adding prosthetic hair and facial features, and replicating this process for each of his doubles. Under the bright, fluorescent lights of the movie studio, there's no mistaking the wax faces for Weaving. But in the film, the camera keeps its distance from the clone army, while dark lighting and sunglasses make them all look perfectly, surreally imposing. At the end of the clip, Weaving nods at his horde of doubles with the excitement of a child:
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It's a fun peek into more creative, craft-based approaches to filmmaking, and hopefully one we'll see more after the success of The Matrix Resurrections.