The Matrix Reloaded
What is the Matrix? Even if youve seen the first movie you know the
answer, but that doesnt mean you fully understand it.
After a four year wait, the Wachowski Brothers were finally able to bring the
middle chapter of their trilogy to the big screen, with mixed results. As is
the case with any sequel, many were disappointed, probably because they had
such high expectations (or, as is my theory, they wouldnt have been happy
regardless of how the movie turned out because they have some sort of long,
thin device inserted in their posterior).
But being only a moderate fan of the first film, I must say that The Matrix
Reloaded surpassed any and all of my expectations to become the best movie of
the year (that is, of course, until The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
is released in December - hopefully).
An entire swarm of Sentinels (thousands upon thousands, to be slightly more
precise) is heading towards Zion, the last refuge of the humans. As the city
prepares for the attack, Neo, Morpheus and Trinity are off to find the Keymaker,
who can get them into certain restricted areas. Unfortunately for the trio,
Agent Smith has been freed of his agent status and has cloned himself
several hundred times and counting.
There is also a pair of ghosts who, if they dont feel like
being hurt, can turn transparent. Sounds like Pac Man, doesn't it?
This brief description doesnt do the movie justice. This is a highly
complex, thoroughly entertaining film that combines a great story with some
of the best action scenes ever filmed, if not the best. Its been reported
that $100 million was spent on special effects, which is more than Lord of the
Rings and even Star Wars. But these are some of the most seamless, most impressive
effects ever done, not just your typical everyday CGI like you see in Gladiator
or other big-budget Hollywood blockbusters. The freeway chase is a great mix
of live-action and special effects, not to mention the mile-and-a-half long
strip of road that was built specifically for the movie. It also features some
of the most professional, complex direction Ive ever seen.
The cast is impressive. Keanu Reeves turns in a Keanu Reeves performance as
Neo, but before you cringe, you should realize that he is actually perfect for
the role, as if it were written for him (which it may have been; we dont
know for sure). Laurence Fishburne is, of course, Morpheus, and he plays him
with equal parts wisdom, intensity, and naiveté. Carrie-Anne Moss is
again Trinity, who comes across as smart, sexy, and tough. Hugo Weaving, who
was a load of fun as Agent Smith in the original, appears to have even more
fun this time around. Fellow supporters Jada Pinkett Smith, Gloria Foster and
Monica Bellucci all do a good job, but dont really have enough to do.
Theres only one scene in the movie that is wholly unnecessary. Near the
beginning, Zion is having a rave, where people dance, grind, and have sex. Its
too long, slows things down, and doesnt have anything to do with the movie.
It seems like just an excuse for cheap titillation.
The Wachowski Brothers have created a brilliant series with The Matrix, and
despite what some think, The Matrix Reloaded is even better than the first.
Its smart and deep, with a helluva lotta wicked action.
Though it didnt do as well theatrically as most people expected ($281
million is still pretty impressive, however), the DVD sales will undoubtedly
more than make up for it. Warner Bros. has come up with a disc worthy of such
a great film, even if it doesnt quite seem like enough.
First point of note: The Matrix Reloaded is officially Warners first
DVD to be released in the keepcase that so many have longed for
for many a year. Its nice to see them finally casting aside the cheap
cardboard case, even if its only on a title-by-title basis for now.
The movie is presented in anamorphic widescreen, 16x9 TV compatible, and Pan&Scan
versions SOLD SEPARATELY - so beware! Audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. Both
video and audio are outstanding. The picture is extremely sharp, with deep blacks
that arent so dark that they cover up details, rich colors (when there
are any), and crystal clear sharpness. There are a lot of dark scenes that,
on some discs, would be hard to make out. In this case, however, you never miss
a thing. This is quite possibly the best video transfer ever from a non-digital
Audio is just as good, with deep rumbling bass, plenty of surrounds, and perfect
separation of the individual elements. Dialogue is a little quiet in places,
but the action more than makes up for it. All five speakers roar into action,
creating the perfect engulfing effect that brings you right into the movie.
The music also uses all five channels effectively, but doesnt overpower
the other elements. If the dialogue were a little more audible the entire time,
Id daresay this is a perfect track.
Pop in disc two and youll be treated to a series of extras that are pretty
good, but arent quite enough. Preload takes you behind-the-scenes
for a little over 20 minutes, and features interviews with everyone involved
except the press-shy Wachowski Brothers. It also features plenty of behind-the-scenes
footage of filming, training, and pre-production.
The Matrix Unfolds runs about five minutes and examines the Matrix
phenomenon, including the movies, The Animatrix, and the Enter the Matrix video
game. The Freeway Chase is the most extensive, focusing an entire
half hour on the making of the sequence. When watching the film, you cant
help but imagine how hard it was to make the scene, and this featurette confirms
Get Me An Exit shows a series of designs and advertisements that
were inspired by the films, many of which were directed by First Assistant Director
James McTiegue. Enter the Matrix is another half-hour featurette
that shows the making of the video game, which was also written and directed
by the Wachowskis.
Finally, there is a trailer for The Animatrix, and a series of MTV Movie Awards
sketches parodying the movie (which are, I hate to say, pretty damn funny).
The extras are pretty extensive, but it would have been better to have one
big documentary so we could learn about the entire production. And its
always nice to have the writers/directors involved, so the Wachowskis should
really get over their fear and tell us what they have to say.
The Matrix Reloaded, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
138 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) 16X9 enhanced, 5.1 Dolby Digital
Starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Jada
Pinkett Smith, Gloria Foster
Produced by Joel Silver
Written and directed by The Wachowski Brothers
Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think