Oh, yeah. That other trilogy.
It's become fashionable to bash this and Matrix Reloaded, the final two movies in a triad started by the wildly successful original Matrix. The two movies do have problems, not the least of which is that they are basically one totally kickass movie padded out to two only moderately kickass movies. The fact that the padding consists of philosophical nattering on the essence of existence and determinism didn't help much, either... though it has to be admitted that padding which actually attempts to engage your brain cells is a novel concept, at least.
Oh, yeah, the plot. Um, while the machines attack Zion - the last human stronghold - Neo takes the war to the machine city, and also has to contend with an increasingly viral Agent Smith. Both of the final fight scenes are absolutely amazing, and most filmmakers could have made three or four movies on what those sequences cost (or three or four thousand, in the case of Roger Corman). Complain all you like, I came out of these movies feeling I'd gotten my money's worth.
In the final analysis, the Matrix movies are nothing more than live-action (and incredibly expensive) anime, and the infuriating abstrusity of some of the plot points (and the total abandonment of others) is one of the reasons I simply don't watch much anime anymore, without effusive recommendations from people I trust. In that respect, the movies are a success.
Madre de Dios, that's an ugly cover. But definitely a high-quality video and audio transfer. I will say, however, that the most impressive sequences definitely lose their punch on a small screen; I'm glad I saw this one in a theater.
And I still can't believe I'm actually holding in my hands a Warner Home Video release in a clamshell case. Could this be the dawning of a new era?
Disc One contains the movie, teaser trailers for The Matrix, Matrix Reloaded, and The Animatrix, and the full theatrical trailer for Revolutions. There are also a slew of Web links if you can't get enough Matrix.
Speaking of enough Matrix, let's move on to the second disc, and it's bounty of bonus features. "Revolutions Recalibrated" is your making-of featurette, blending interviews with on-set footage. "CG Revolution", as could be predicted, is all about greenscreen madness and making worlds in a computer; "Super Burly Brawl" uses the angle button to switch the climactic battle between Neo and Agent Smith through storyboards, animatics/rough footage and final scene; "Future Gamer: The Matrix Online" is about UbiSoft's upcoming MMORPG - you, too, can be trapped in the Matrix, dress like a ho or pimp, and fight in bullet time!
Second Page of Extras: "Before the Revolution" is a slideshow displaying the timeline of the World of the Matrix, taking you up to the beginning of Revolutions - hey, there's an actual backstory in here! Guess that's what I get for not checking out The Animatrix. It may just be me, but I found it dang near impossible to get out of this section on my computer - I had to stop the disc and start it up again. "3-D Evolutions" is a collection of Concept Art, Storyboards, and photos of Final Scenes. Though pretty, the interface for this is not terribly intuitive - pay attention during the opening "Icon Glossary".
The white rabbit icon is back - clicking on it or hitting "enter" when it appears whisks you away to another featurette. If you don't want to follow the white rabbit, though, these auxiliary bits are gathered under "Operator": "Neo Realism" details the evolution of bullet time through the digital actors used in Reloaded and Revolutions; "Super Big Mini Models" takes us into the world of the model builders and model blower-uppers (a sense of dislocation hits Mythbusters fans when Adam Savage briefly crops up); "Double Agent Smith" is about the creation of multiple Hugo Weavings; and "Mind Over Matter" covers stunt and wirework. And hey, there's those Web Links again.
Third page - Oh, that's credits and copyright information. Never mind.
DVD-ROM users can access preview material from the Matrix Website, a somewhat glitchy PDF preview of the Matrix comic book, and "Tunnel Recon", a Flash game that plays rather like Pac-Man, if Pac-Man had fore and aft missile bays and an EMP.
Dr. Freex, 4/21/2004