Ah, The Matrix. I can still remember the year it came out, with everyone excited about the new Star Wars film, it was almost passed over but with amazing reviews and the film itself being one of the most groundbreaking spectacles in recent history, it soon became a staple of every action, sci-fi and general film fans library. Although its subsequent sequels failed to live up to their expectations (how could they?), the original film still tops sci-fi fans best-of lists to this day.
The Matrix follows the trials of Neo (Keanu Reeves), a young computer programmer, searching to determine the deepest reality of a post-Apocalyptic world. His journey uncovers a web of deceit and massive computer-generated illusions obscuring the truth. As Morpheus (Lawrence Fishburne) says to Neo, “No one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.” The same is true for this mind-blowing movie which was a worldwide box-office sensation when it debuted in 1999.
Seeing as I was twelve when the first installment came out and such violent films were a no-no in my house until much later, I ended up not seeing any of the Matrix films until after they’d passed out of the collective conscience of the mass-movie goer. Although it’d been a film I wanted to see since the early days of its release, the years not being able to see it actually hampered my desire. Of course I’d seen what was arguably the most violent and entertaining sequence in the film, the “Lobby Shooting Spree,” countless times as my brother used it to set up his home theater equipment (and to this day I still use that sequence to make sure everything sounds right—and hot damn does it sound and look great on Blu-ray), so it wasn’t as if I’d gone without seeing a single frame of it. Still, I happened upon the film years later during a late TNT (or was it TBS? I always get those two confused) airing of the film. While the full frame aspect ratio killed it and the commercial breaks ruined it, it wasn’t until I saw Neo get the sentinel sucked out of his stomach did I turn the film off. No the scene didn’t gross me out; it was that the station had dubbed over Reeve’s “Jesus Christ!” with “Jeepers Creepers!” It sounded and looked so perfect that I actually didn’t even think it was fake, so for a few months afterwards I genuinely thought that The Matrix, one of Hollywood’s most recent and greatest films, actually contained “Jeepers Creepers!” as a piece of dialogue.
Needless to say I eventually watched the film without the silly dubbing and commercial breaks and was able to enjoy it for what it was: a brilliant film. Never was there such a perfect marriage of pure-adrenaline action mixed with amazing visuals (except maybe Die Hard) and from all corners The Matrix impressed. To this day it remains one of my favorite films and is something I’ll forever have on my shelf. Between the story, the actors and the visuals, The Matrix is one to love.
I think what helps keep The Matrix an exciting and still entertaining outing to this day is the general feeling of shock and awe it created. Sure it’s been ripped and riffed on in films more times than I can count now (Wanted comes to mind with its excessive slow down and gunplay), but the film still manages to feel fresh, if only because it takes you into a world that is as believable as it is unbelievable and forces you to question your own reality. All the while stuff is blowing up, robots are attacking and unstoppable evil is just at the cusp of Neo’s boots.
Obviously this film is old hat for many, but even now, ten years after it first graced theaters, I can still remember the excitement from those around me who loved the film. My brother and next door neighbor talked about it frequently, blasted the soundtrack for the film (which was honestly pretty good), and made it a point for it to be their first DVD purchase. Now the film that sold a ton of people on the “new” DVD format can, ten years after the fact, pick it up on Blu-ray by itself and discover just how truly amazing the film can be in full high definition.
Overall The Matrix is, and forever will be regardless of the lackluster sequels efforts (although I enjoy those in their own right as well), a modern classic. Never has such a film permeated into pop culture so fast as The Matrix and modern cinema and the way it handles special effects is all the better because of it. Highly Recommended.
Although the film was previously available in the big Ultimate Matrix box set, Warner has released the film by itself for the first time on Blu-ray. This also marks the first time that the “new” transfer for the film, i.e. the removal of the intense “green hue” that was overlaid on the new The Matrix, is available outside of a box set. While not a major deal, those who are still holding onto their original DVD release have a reason to upgrade even moreso.
While The Matrix was the least pretty of the three films in the Ultimate set, that doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful. On the contrary, this film is simply stunning from start to finish and it’s only singled out from its brothers because it has a more film-like appearance than the other two. Still, this film, in full VC-1 encoded 1080p glory, is brilliant to look at. Topping the visuals, however, is the TrueHD 5.1 track which is as room-shaking and foundation cracking as you’d expect. Ample surround usage, beautiful subwoofer output and crystal clear dialogue make this a worthy demo track for the home theater.
The extras here are identical to the Ultimate set and include:
o Written introduction by the Wachowski brothers
o Philosophers commentary by Dr. Cornel West, Ken Wilber
o Critics commentary by Todd McCarthy, John Powers, David Thomson
o Cast and crew commentary by Carrie-Anne Moss, Zach Staenberg and John Gaeta
o Composer commentary by Don Davis with music-only track
• The Matrix Revisited
• Behind The Matrix
o Making The Matrix The Dance of the Master: Yuen Wo Ping’s Blocking Tapes
o The Bathroom Fight and Wet Wall
o The Code of the Red Dress
o The Old Exit: Wabashand Lake
o Agent Down
o But Wait- There’s More
• Take the Red Pills
• Follow the White Rabbit
o The Music Revisited
o Marilyn Manson Music Video Rock is Dead
o The Matrix teaser
o The Matrix trailer
o The Matrix TV spots
One thing you’ll notice about The Matrix extras is they seem less intense than the ones included for the other films in the series. Obviously when they were making the film they didn’t realize what a big hit it’d become, although anyone who remembers the DVD market in 2001-2002 will no doubt remember the “Matrix Revisited” DVD that was literally all extras. Of course that is included here as well, so if you didn’t pick up that release before, then you’re in for plenty of interesting footage and interviews on that disc.
Overall if you aren’t a big fan of the entire trilogy, then this is definitely the film to own. On top of the single-release, we get a Blu-ray exclusive “book” packaging version of the film which is really well done, with a reflective foil cover and information about the film and photos from the set included inside. Also include is a digital copy, if you’re interested in that kind of thing. If you don’t already own the Ultimate set, or simply don’t want it, then this one is Highly Recommended.
The Matrix: 10Th Anniversary Edition is now available on Blu-ray.