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The Matrix

"The Matrix" on DVD

Eye-popping Brain Candy

"The Matrix" is a sci-fi action adventure film that's much more than skin deep. It's exciting and great looking, with terrific special effects - and a thought-provoking concept that's a real brain teaser. It's also a terrific example of the DVD medium.

Starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving and Joe Pantoliano, "The Matrix" turns one's conceptions about the earth and our life upon it upside down with its vision of a planet in which we are not who we think we are - or even when we think we are.

The film was directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski, and features Reeves as Neo, a computer programmer recruited by an underground figure-cum-Messiah called Morpheus (Fishburne) who's being hunted down by a group of ruthless "Men in Black-types".

Once recruited, however, he discovers the shock of his life (and we're not going to spoil the movie for those who haven't yet seen it) and is forced to decide whether to return to his previous existence of blissful unawareness or take his destiny into his hands and fight for the future of the human race. Morpheus believes Neo is the real Messiah, and trains him in a virtual world to fight with all manners of weapons and tactics and then joins the war to free his fellow Man.

The situation's a bit reminiscent of the "Terminator" movies, with some "13th Floor" and martial arts extravaganza thrown in for good measure, but in the end, it's unique and works (and succeeds) on its own levels.

Superficially, "The Matrix" looks like it's just another blast 'em up action yarn, and there's enough blast 'em up action to please fans of that genre - but it's also an intelligent movie that's well conceived, well written - and with acting and production that does the package justice. The production design is also excellent.

"The Matrix" is also a terrific DVD, offering lots of the extras that make the format so great. Besides the film, which is presented in widescreen and looks and sounds wonderful, with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, there's a whole set of DVD player extras, as well as a bundled set of goodies for your DVD ROM drive.

For your home theater, you can play with a "making of" documentary, an audio track featuring actress Carrie-Anne Moss (Trinity) and the film editor and special effects supervisor. There's also a track that features only the music, with commentary by its composer, and a couple of neat features ("Follow the White Rabbit" and "Take the Red Pill") that lead you into a DVD aficionado heaven of features that include looks at the special effects and production. These White Rabbit thingys are really neat: you click on the rabbit icon when it appears at the beginning of a special effects sequence and you're whisked to a "making of" section on that part of the film - then returned to the movie when it's over.

It's really something - though it would be even better if they played the sequence first, then took you to the documentary footage.

DVD ROM features include a quiz that lets you find out if you're "The One," a screenplay/storyboards section and a group of seven essays/articles about sci-fi, martial arts, comic books, etc. It's interesting stuff.

You also get links that take you to the kung fu scenes, a selection of theatrical trailers from various sci fi movies, and the usual web links, etc.

Naturally, there's also cast/crew information and chapter stops.

In all, it's a great package, despite the dearth of liner notes (which are more than offset by the extras on the disc itself).

Some think "The Matrix" is a science fiction masterpiece that'll live forever in Hollywood history. Only time will tell, but the DVD version is definitely an outstanding example of the species.

The Matrix, from Warner Home Video
136 minutes, Widescreen (2.35:1), Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving and Joe Pantoliano
Produced by Joel Silver,
Written and Directed by The Wachowski Brothers


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Updated May 13, 2006