The Matrix Reloaded Review
When the Matrix was released four years ago it made a lasting impact: Bullet Time, "The One", the lobby scene, The Oracle, spoons, the woman in the red dress, the rabbit hole and "Dodge This".
The Matrix DVD was a major contributory factor in the formats incredible early growth and to this day remains one of the biggest selling discs of all time. So naturally there was an enormous amount of anticipation surrounding the first sequel before its release this summer.
For anyone who doesn’t already know the story of The Matrix, it was about Thomas Anderson (aka Neo), a computer hacker who discovered that the world in which we live is actually a computer generated fantasy used by a race of machines to keep our minds occupied while our bodies lie in a vast rows of cocoons, our energy sucked from us like electricity from a battery. Meanwhile, our planet is a desolated, post apocalyptic hell that’s patrolled by squid like robot sentinels and the only hope for humanity rests with the resistance, cyberpunks like Morpheus (Fishburne) and Trinity (Moss) who navigate the bowels of the machines’ world in their rocket ships and they jump in and out of the Matrix with stolen technology. Morpheus has rescued Neo from within the Matrix, believing him to be ‘The One’ – the subject of a prophecy that a human will be born who can control the Matrix and will use his powers to destroy the machines and save the world. As the film ended, it appeared that Neo did indeed have the ability to manipulate reality at will.
When we join the story again, Neo is still vowing to show the world the truth but at the same time he must find the answers to the pivotal role that he has to play in the fate of mankind. At the same time news reaches the resistance that a quarter of a million sentinels are burrowing their way towards the main city of Zion.
Morpheus however remains unconcerned by this threat and his total unwavering belief in the Oracle’s (Foster) prophecy that Neo will save mankind will turn out to be correct. Unfortunately for Morpheus the leader of the resistance Commander Lock (Lennix) does not share the same faith as him. Lock sees Morpheus as a threat to Zion because of his unpredictability and for his constant disobeying of orders. Lock wants all ships to stay and help protect Zion rather than putting the fate of mankind in the hands of Neo. The fact that the commander stole Morpheus’ girlfriend Niobe (Pinkett-Smith) also adds to the tension between the pair of them.
This conflict leads Morpheus and his crew on their own as they make their way through the Matrix, using Neo’s powers to strike against the machines before they can breach the walls of Zion. Along the way they come across the Keymaker (Duk Kim), a mysterious kind of figure who can allow the gang to pass through the Matrix by giving them access to impossible to find areas. The problem for Morpheus, Neo and Trinity is that they are not alone as they are being followed by Agent Smith (Weaving), who is now seemingly unplugged from the Matrix and has discovered a way of cloning himself so that there are countless numbers of Smiths to deal with, each one more powerful than before. However Agent Smith is not the only problem they have to face as they make their way through the Matrix. They come up against other agents of the Matrix, some of which are rogue programs with agendas of their own like the power broker Merovingian (Lambert Wilson), his decadent wife Persephone (Monica Bellucci) and their twin bodyguards (Neil and Adrian Rayment) who can do all sorts of cool tricks. Finally Neo comes across the Architect (Helmut Bakaitis) who wrote The Matrix and has some major surprises to spring upon him.
The Matrix Reloaded certainly caters for a larger audience than the original, and the Wachowski Brothers have managed to redefine the action boundaries once again with Neo, Trinity and Morpheus showing off their highly impressive Kung Fu skills at every opportunity. Thankfully, the $100 million spent on the special effects was put to good use, with the burly brawl between Neo and 100 cloned Agent Smiths, and the freeway chase being the particular stand out moments within the movie. The only problems that the Matrix Reloaded has is that at times there is too much exposition and the sometimes lengthy dialogue scenes especially the early parts in Zion tend to grind the action to a halt. As a film it does deserve repeat viewings as the action makes it worth seeing again and it also gives you a better understanding of the lengthy expositions on the origins of the Matrix and Neo’s role within it. Reloaded is only the first part of a larger sequel and we can only hope that when The Matrix Revolutions opens next month the setup from Reloaded will have paid off.
The Matrix Reloaded shines on DVD thanks to an excellent transfer from Warner Brothers. Whilst fast moving scenes like the burly brawl could cause problems with compression artefacts, due to the huge number of characters onscreen and the speed in which this scene takes place, but thankfully this is not the case. Blacks are solid throughout and the green tone within the Matrix is reproduced well without overshadowing other colours used in the film. There does seem to be a little bit of minor grain but nothing to spoil your enjoyment. The R2 PAL release is also much sharper than the R1 NTSC release.
Like the picture the sound is excellent although it is something of a disappointment that there is no DTS track as this is the sort of movie that is crying out for one. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track does an excellent job, especially with the LFE channel. The rear channels are also put to good use when the action scenes begin.
There is a trailer for the second sequel the Matrix Revolutions at the end of the film on disc one. You can access this separately by going to chapter 36 in the scene selection menu. All the other extras are contained on the second disc.
Preload – Get behind the scenes
This is a fascinating look behind the scenes that last for 22 minutes. It interviews most of the key cast and crew members and features lots of behind the scenes footage of the cast doing wire work, stunt training, fight choreography etc… The training lasted for about 8 months and about two months into that Carrie Anne Moss broke her leg. It also shows how the impressive special effects were done along with the construction of the sets, there were about 150-180. One other interesting thing about the fight work was that there were more moves in the burly brawl between Neo and the 100 Agent Smiths than there was in the whole of the previous Matrix film.
The Matrix Unfolds – A Look at the Matrix Phenomenon
This looks at the whole world of the Matrix from the Films to the Animatrix and to the videogame and how each one interacts with the other. There is unfortunately overlapping of footage from the other features on this disc and it is really nothing more than an advertisement to try and make you buy all the other Matrix products and how wonderful they are.
The Freeway Chase – How they did it
This is an excellent documentary that last for 30 minutes. It features behind the scenes footage of how the spectacular car chase was put together. It starts with the early planning of the sequence which was then transferred to the computers to see how it would play out. It shows footage of the actors in training with bikes and cars and how they tried to look for a suitable freeway in America to shoot the sequence but later ended up constructing their own mile and a half of freeway to film the chase. The best thing about this is that it interviews people that might not normally feature in these documentaries and the amazing job that they do to make sequences like this come to life.
Get Me an Exit- Inspired Design and Advertising
This short documentary looks at various Matrix themed advertising. It features more behind the scenes footage that some people may not have seen before especially the Powerade adverts. It looks at the phone used within the film which apparently after a lot of interest from the public is now being made by Samsung. This is basically an advert for lots of other Samsung products.
Enter the Matrix – Making the Game
This is basically and advertisement for the game. It lasts for about 30 minutes and does manage to incorporate lots of behind the scenes footage focusing mostly on the motion capture process and the impressive fight moves captured by the cast and crew. The game also includes exclusive footage that wasn’t in the film whilst at the same time not spoiling the game if you haven’t played it. Whilst interesting this is really just a filler feature for a game that was critically panned and the space could have been better filled by another documentary focusing on the film or some sort of preview of Revolutions instead.
What is the Animatrix?
This is basically just a trailer for the Animatrix DVD that tells you a bit about the short films, but less than there was about it in the Matrix Unfolds section.
MTV Movie Awards 2003
Like most years MTV take the mick out of a major film for their awards ceremony and this year it was the Matrix Reloaded. It stars Sean William Scott (Stifler in American Pie) and Justin Timberlake. They manage to condense the film down into 10 minutes with the help of some of the Matrix’s cast and American comedians who I’m sure very few people will recognise in Britain. One you might recognise is comedian Will Ferrell as the Architect who is very funny.
Various links including the Matrix.com where you will have access to information about comics, the Animatrix, the work of the Art department, Games, Photos, Philosophies from the Matrix, Behind the Scenes footage, Posters, Trailers, stuff for you computer desktop and interviews.
You also have access to Special Events, Information on the Latest Warner Bros DVD’s, you can sign up for a Movie Mail newsletter and there is a link to the Warner Brothers website.
The Matrix Reloaded is a good film with great special effects and on DVD it looks and sounds great but the extras content is very disappointing. If you’re a fan you will still want to own it although I suggest you shop around to get the best deal as Warner’s recommended retail price of £26.99 is extortionately high for a 2 disc set
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