Jim Bray's Car & Tech rants - publishing online exclusively since 1995
The Matrix Resurrections

Warner Brothers digs up a new Matrix in a spectacular 4K disc package

By Jim Bray
March 10, 2022

"Go fourth and multiply" may be Warner Brothers' catchphrase upon the unleashing of the latest entry in its very profitable Matrix series of movies. And for fans, it's probably well worth the time.

It's also a darn fine presentation if you're looking for an excellent 4K picture to show off your video equipment and make your friends jealous.

I saw all three of the original Matrix movies, the second and third reluctantly since I had to review them – otherwise I wouldn't have sought them out at all. Oh, I enjoyed the first two films, but the third seemed to me quite incoherent and suffered more than a tad from "sequelitis", a disease from Hollywood where the marketing potential seems to push the story telling potential to the sidelines.

That made me not really interested in seeing this new version – The Matrix Resurrections – but Warners sent me the 4K disc and so I fired it up and swallowed the red pill. And while I was mostly right about it – it didn't really need to be made nor does it really move the Matrix bar a lot – it's still quite enjoyable, even funny in a few places, and is overall a worthwhile watch if you're into the Wachowski Brothers' series.

And it does look really good in 4K!

"The Matrix", the original movie that kicked off the series, was a sci-fi action-adventure film that's much more than just an action film. It's exciting, looks great (though a tad green) and offers terrific special effects. It's also a pretty neat mind game, with a thought-provoking concept of "reality" that's oddly analogous to the real-world situation in which our civilization finds itself currently, with media and government manipulation of the citizens via propaganda and outright lies.

Except in the Matrix, the entire world isn't just a place where people are sheep – it's a complete fake as well, using humanity as slaves. Watch the "red pill" scene from the first movie for a real mind-bending example of what I mean.

Anyway, on the surface, "The Matrix" comes across as if it's just another shoot 'em up action adventure, and there's certainly enough of that to please fans – but it's also more than that. It's intelligent, well conceived, well written and acted – and with production values that do it justice.  

How does Resurrections stand up? Not bad. Only one of the "Wachowski brothers" is on hand this time but the movie really does feel like the others, and it ups the story and action ante quite a bit. And as mentioned, there are some laughs that I didn't expect.

The first one came when Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves, again) learns that his employer's parent company, some big corporation named Warner Brothers, is going to do a sequel to the first three Matrix "video games" with or without him, so he might as well get on board. Yep, they went there, and I laughed out loud, wondering just how close that may have been to the real-life situation facing the Wachowskis.

The story is set decades after the original trilogy (which helps, I daresay, explain why the returning cast members look so much older!), and sees Anderson as a renowned game developer, his most famous title being a trilogy of alternate reality games called "The Matrix". Except, of course, that world really did/does/will(?) exist even though he thinks it's just something he dreamed up. It's real, obviously, or we'd have a movie much shorter than Resurrections' rather bloated 148-minute running time, and it's been upgraded from earlier Matrix versions. And it needs Anderson's Neo to defeat it.

Along the way there are some quite touching moments and, of course, plenty of action and special effects. I'm actually glad I saw it, though I probably won't sit through it a second time.

The stunts are spectacular, especially one near the end in which Reeves and co-star (again) Carrie-Anne Moss actually jump from the roof of a San Francisco sky scraper. And, yes, they really did it – watch the supplements on the Blu-ray that also comes in the package (there's a digital download code, too) to see how they pulled it (and a lot more stuff!) off.

There's actually two hours or more of supplements on the Blu-ray, and some of it is very interesting, indeed. The best piece, besides the building jump, is a half hour "making of" featuring cast and crew, that I found particularly compelling, especially when Wachowski explains about the differences between making the Matrix back then, as a green filmmaker, and now, as a seasoned and more confident one.

I was hoping this would be a fantastic-looking 4K experience and I was definitely not disappointed. The film, shot digitally this time, features Dolby Vision high dynamic range and, while some of the dark scenes (and a lot of this film is dark, either at night, indoors or "underground") do look pretty darn dark if your room lighting or 4KTV aren't taken care of, overall the video quality is nothing short of spectacular.

I didn't miss the fact that things inside the Matrix weren't nearly as green as in the earlier films; now there's a much more natural look and it helps with the suspension of disbelief. Well, mine anyway…

Black levels here are exquisite, colours are rich and deep and gorgeous, and fine details are so fine I can't imagine them being much better (of course, I thought this back in the DVD days, too, which are now the dark ages of home video discs). I guess we'll have to wait a few years for the probably-inevitable 8K version to compare.

The audio is Dolby Atmos, which is backward compatible to 5.1 systems for those who haven't moved their systems from the more traditional audio setup. And that's fine; I listened in 5.1 and loved the soundtrack – and the bass wasn't nearly as overpowering as I find in some other (dare I say many?) Warner disc titles.

And your audio system will get a lovely workout, regardless of the number of channels you may have. Between bullets, explosions, kicks and punches and the like, there's plenty of "punch" to the sound.  

As mentioned, there's plenty of extras, too. Here's a quick look at the supplementary stuff on the Blu-ray:As mentioned, there's plenty of extras, too. Here's a quick look at the supplementary stuff on the Blu-ray:

  • * No One Can Be Told What the Matrix Is. A short feature where the cast and crew bring you up to date with the first three films' stories, with clips.
  • * Resurrecting The Matrix. This is the one I mentioned earlier, and it's worth the price of admission. It focuses mainly on the director, though there's plenty of backup from others, and is a very interesting look at the creative choices made and how her decision to pretend to be a woman affected his/her/its thought processes. 
  • * The San Fran Jump. A short feature, but a must-see as we get to see that they really did pull this thing off! 
  • * Neo x Trinity: Return To The Matrix features Reeves and Moss talking about how they first met, their experiences working together, etc..
  • * Allies + Adversaries: The Matrix Remixed. Focuses on the new characters, with cast/crew talking about how wonderful it was being part of a Matrix movie.
  • * Matrix 4 Life. Another short, this one looking at the cast and crew members who came back for this fourth film.
  • * I Still Know Kung Fu. An amusing clip with Reeves showing off his martial arts training.
  • * The Matrix Reactions. This is a nine-part series of shorts in which cast and crew talk about various individual elements of the film. At heart, it's a more in-depth "making of" feature than even the great, half hour one "Resurrecting The Matrix," and is worth a viewing.

Yeah, it's basically just another trip to the well for Warner Brothers, but at least the filmmakers have given audiences a fun ride with excellent production values. The fact that it's also a terrific 4K experience only enhances that, and the extras are worth your time as well.

Copyright 2022 Jim Bray

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