What is the Matrix? That’s the question everyone’s looking to answer in this sci-fi spectacular from Wachowski brothers. One thing it was — groundbreaking both in the spectacular special effects that we’ve since taken for granted even in tv commercials and in actual ground (the tons of concrete) broken in the film itself.
Computer hacker extraordinaire Neo (Reeves) has this gut feeling that life isn’t all that it seems to be. Turns out he’s right in a big way. A group of revolutionaries l…d by the thought to be mythical Morpheus (Fisburne) open his eyes to the Matrix.
The Matrix, it turns out, is nothing more than an elaborate computer generated reality intended to mollify humanity who are in reality nothing more than sheep or in this case a renewable energy source, to feed the machines that have inherited the Earth.
Morpheus believes Neo is “The One”, a prophesized savior who can bend the Matrix to his own will who will eventually lead humanity out of slavery. What follows is enough eye candy to give an army of Swiss chocolate factory workers diabetes.
The Matrix contains a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. There are also 2 commentary tracks included on the disc. The first commentary features Carrie – Anne Moss (Actress), Zack Staenberg (editor), and John Gaeta (special effects) and is spotty. There are many lags where there is no contribution and not much of Moss at all. The 2nd commentary track features Don Davis (composer) and appears only in a few select spots of the soundtrack.
The Sound is mostly crisp and dynamic on about 95% of the disc. During that other 5%, there are places where the dialogue is hard to distinguish. I was not happy during the rescue sequence with the sound separation. I will admit that rarely must a home system deal with so much audio overload. You have to hear this stuff in a good theatre with great gear. The surround channels were used amply throughout the film, and for the most part, the dialog and front channels are clear and accurate.
The Matrix is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. I like the transfer except for one noticeable flaw; the film uses a slight green “wash” during the matrix sequences to provide a subtle reference to the viewer of where the action is taking place. This transfer is not very true in that one aspect… but other then that, the transfer is mint. You’ll hear more about it in the commentary track. On the positive side, the blacks are outstanding, and are so vital to this film… just take a better look at Carrie-Anne Moss’s inside the matrix outfit to appreciate the black tones.
At one point in the film a character complains that he wished he would have told Morpheus what he could do with that red pill. After struggling with these menus and you’ll feel the same way. Most of the cool stuff is hard to access, and this is the main flaw this the menu structure on this DVD. Other then the confusing structure of these menus, they are fun to look at, and are fully audible with motion.
Easy to find is the HBO special “Making the Matrix” and it offers some nice looks at the cool effects. To get to other features you have to navigate through the pills, and trust me, it is worth the effort to see the two documentaries… “What is Bullet Time?” and “What is the Concept?”
The disc also includes the expected storyboards, script, bios, a Q&A section, and a multi-angle feature. To access the multi-angles you must select it before the film begins and watch for a white rabbit to appear, signaling that this scene has multi-angles. The Special Features on this DVD are very cool; it is unfortunate that more special features were not included for this amazing film.
Let’s be honest. There’s never been a film like this and probably never will be. I include the coming sequels here. What doesn’t it have? You’ve got kung-fu, hot babes, stellar f/x, and inspired story, super heroes and evil villains, and good actors. (Ok, let’s not talk about Reeves). So put in the disc, press a few buttons, and welcome to the real world. Or could it be considered the reel world?
Special Features List
- Commentary by Carrie-Anne Moss, editor Zach Staenberg and visual effects supervisor John Gaeta
- Isolated musical score with comentary by composer Don Davis (I)
- Production notes
- Theatrical trailer(s)
- Behind-the-scenes documentary “HBO First Look: Making the Matrix”
- Take the red pills to view two hidden special effects documentaries: “What is Bullet Time?” and “What is the Concept?”
- Follow the white rabbit to nine behind-the-scenes featurettes