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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Science Fiction > The Ultimate Matrix Collection (Warner Bros. Blu-ray)

The Ultimate Matrix Collection (Warner Bros. Blu-ray)

 

Picture: A-     Sound: A-     Extras: A-     Films:

 

Matrix: B

Matrix Reloaded: C+

Matrix Revolution: C+

Animatrix: B

 

 

Unlike the 2007 HD DVD release of the Matrix films; Warner Bros. has smartly opted to only release The Ultimate Matrix Collection on Blu-ray and not reissue the The Complete Matrix Trilogy, which featured much less material.  The best way to dive into this massive and impressive Blu-ray set is by giving a general overview and then going disc by disc.  The set comes with a nice booklet that has an introduction by the Wachowski Brothers and then breaks down each discs contents individually.  The Wachowski Brothers had an unexpected hit on their hands when The Matrix hit theaters and only grew bigger by word of mouth and home video distribution.  The Matrix was fun, full of action, smart, and had all the makings of a classic science fiction film.  When word came out that sequels were on the way, fans were ecstatic; but when Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions came to fruition, they failed to pack the punch of their innovative predecessor.  Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions were surprisingly different than The Matrix; whereas The Matrix was smart and well written, its sequels shoved pretentiously, nonsolid philosophical reasoning down the moviegoers’ throats.  No longer were the films fun, they were tedious ventures of self indulgence by the Wachowski Brothers as they unsuccessfully balanced a huge Hollywood budget with a once admirable artistic film vision.

 

Whereas the storyline of the main film and its two sequels have been discussed elsewhere on this site; this review will focus on the Blu-ray’s disc by disc breakdown as well as The Animatrix, which was not featured in the HD-DVD The Complete Matrix Trilogy set.

 

To read more about The Complete Matrix Trilogy backstory, please refer to the link below:

 

http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/5463/The+Complete+Matrix+Trilogy

 

 

The Matrix embraced so many different elements that when the film hit theaters in 1999 it was almost too much to comprehend.  With a combination of impressive martial arts, jam-packed action, and body swirling camera work; The Matrix had changed the world of big-budget action films forever.  It wasn’t a nerdy sci-fi film or a meathead action flick; there was something more there that embraced a sophisticated and mentally stimulating vision that had never been seen before.  Sure films like the classic Blade Runner and Dark City used the gritty, grimy cityscape to take their artistic vision to the next level, but The Matrix brought its own individuality to the table.  The film turned out to be a blockbuster smash that made over $500 million and fans across the board salivated at the thought of a sequel and in the end they wound up with two.  But those sequels did not fair as well as the inspirational original.

 

The Matrix Reloaded opened humungous, but with that large opening came even larger expectations.  In the end, Reloaded fell extremely short of the brilliance of the first film by rehashing what fans had already seen and adding a jumbled mess of philosophical banter with gluttonous action sequences.  Six months later when Matrix Revolutions hit the big screen it was obvious that fans’ expectations had been crushed and the less than stellar box office take even furthered that conclusion.  On an overall scale The Matrix Trilogy is fun film series that offered a ton for future films and directors to build off of.  On an individual basis, however, The Matrix is solid gold, but its sequels are just a shell of what they could have been.

 

On a more positive note, the fantastic Animatrix is also included in this set; and this time in High Definition!  After the success of the original Matrix film the Wachowski Brothers set out to do something a little different for the fans prior to releasing the two sequels.  Enlisting the help of anime artists the Wachowski’s managed to bring the Matrix to life in a whole new light.  A series of 9 anime films were created, each with their own unique style.  From deep inky blacks to blindingly bright, the entire spectrum of art was used.  In many ways the Animatrix stands alone from The Matrix films with its unique art direction and the way each film never seems to quite connect.  The short films are powerful, interesting, and gave us hope that The Matrix had many more hidden gems to offer us.

 

Now into this fantastically presented Blu-ray set.

 

The technical features on this 7-Disc Blu-ray set are fantastic.  The picture on The Matrix, Matrix Reloaded, and Matrix Revolutions is amazing in its 1080p/VC-1 transfers as each is projected in 2.40 X 1 Widescreen.  After fans for years (besides the HD-DVD release) suffering through lackluster release, after lackluster release on VHS and DVD, Warner Bros. has finally got the picture quality right.  Each of the three films as well as The Animatrix looks astonishing with no film out staging the other.  The films embody deep solid blacks, balanced colors, crisp lines, great contrast, and an almost incomparable texture.  The images pop from the screen and no longer do you have the problem of black on black or black on green meshing together into a visual mess.  Needless to say I was very impressed with the picture presentation on all 4 films presented in this set.  The sound is presented in a Dolby True HD 5.1 track (48 kHz/16-bit) that highlights the solid dialogue and lets every action sequence ‘boom’ with the presence it deserves.  The surrounds have an aggressive presence, but a smooth directionality at the same time allowing for a wonderful film experience.  My floor rumbled from the bass and it felt like I was right there in the film.  The Matrix is a complex film both picture and sound wise and now in Blu-ray that complexity shines through with its pristine image and encompassing soundstage.

 

The extra features found on this set are out of this world.  There is so much to dig through it is almost impossible to describe.  Everything and anything about The Matrix can be found on this set.  The over inundation of audio commentaries, deleted scenes, interviews, behind the scenes looks, and featurette after featurette could intimidate even the biggest Matrix fan.  Sadly most of the special features are presented in a standard definition 480p/i/MPEG-2.

 

Disc 1 (+ a Digital Copy Disc): The Matrix

  • 4 Commentaries with a Written Introduction by the Wachowski Brothers
    • The four commentaries are split between The Philosophers, The Critics, Cast/Crew, and Composer
  • The Music Revisited
    • 41 Track Audio only selection of nearly 3 hours of music
  • Behind the Matrix Featurettes (over 1.5 hours of footage)
    • Making the Matrix
    • The Dance of the Master: Yeun Wo Ping’s Blocking Tapes
    • The Bathroom Fight and Wet Wall
    • The Code of the Red Dress
    • The Old Exit: Wabash and Lake
    • Agent Down
    • And a ton more…
  • Take the Red Pill Featurettes
    • What is the Bullet Time?
    • What is the Concept?
  • Follow the White Rabbit Featurettes
    • Trinity Escape, Pod, Kung Fu, The Wall, Bathroom Fight, Government Lobby, Government Roof, Helicopter, and Subway

 

Disc 2: Matrix Reloaded

  • 2 Commentaries with a Written Introduction by the Wachowski Brothers
    • One commentary features The Philosophers and the other The Critics
  • Behind the Matrix Featurettes
    • The Matrix Unfolds
    • Pre-Load
    • Get Me an Exit
    • The MTV Movie Awards Reloaded
  • Car Chase Featurettes
    • The Freeway Chase
    • Oakland Streets and Freeway: Unseen Material
    • Tour of the Merovingian’s Car Garage
    • Queen of the Road
    • Arteries of the Mega-City: The Visual Effects of the Freeway Chase
    • Foresight: Preplanning the Mayhem
    • Freeway Truck Crash: Anatomy of a Shot
    • Fate of the Freeway
    • Freeway Action Match
  • Teahouse Fight Featurettes
    • Two Equals Clash
    • Guardian of the Oracle: Collin Chow
  • Unplugged Featurettes
    • Creating the Burly Brawl
    • A Conversation with Master Wo Ping
    • Chad Stahelski: The Other Neo
    • Burly Brawl Action Match
    • Spiraling Virtual Shot: Anatomy of a Shot
  • I’ll Handle Them Featurettes
    • The Great Hall
    • Building the Merovingian’s Lair
    • Tiger Style: A Day in the Life of Chen Hu
    • Heavy Metal: Weapons of the Great Hall
  • The Exiles Featurettes
    • The Exiles
    • Big Brother is Watching: The Architects Office
  • Enter the Matrix: The Game
    • Documentary
  • Enter the Matrix
    • View the 23 Live Action Scenes shot for the Video Game that plug into the action of the Matrix Reloaded.

 

Disc 3: The Matrix Revolutions

  • 2 Commentaries with a Written Introduction by the Wachowski Brothers
    • One commentary features The Philosophers and the other The Critics
  • Behind the Matrix Featurettes
    • Revolutions Recalibrated
    • Neo Realism: The Evolution of Bullet Time
    • CG Revolution
    • Super Big Mini Models
    • Double Agent Smith
    • Mind Over Matter: The Physicality of The Matrix
    • And much, much more…
  • Crew Featurettes
    • Owen’s Army: The Australian Art Department
    • 2nd Unit: A World of Their Own
    • Bill Pope: Cinematographer of The Matrix
    • Masters of Light and Shadow
  • HEL Featurettes
    • Coat Check
    • Upsidedown Under
    • Fast Break
    • Exploding Man
    • Gun Club
    • The Extras of Club HEL
  • New Blue World Featurettes:
    • Geography of Zion
    • The Ships
    • Tour of the Neb
    • Matrix TV
    • Logos Fight Expansion
  • Siege Featurettes
    • Dig This
    • The Siege Action Match
    • The Anatomy of the Shot: Mifune’s Last Stand
    • Building APU
    • Product of Zion
  • Aftermath Featurettes
    • Revolutionary Composition
    • The Glue
    • Dane Tracks
    • Cause and Effects

 

Disc 4: The Animatrix

  • Audio Commentaries
  • Scrolls to Screen: The History and Culture of Anime
  • Making of Documentaries on each Animatrix short film

 

Disc 5: Roots of The Matrix (yes…there is more folks)

  • Return to Source: Philosophy & The Matrix
    • Scholars, Philosophers and Theorists deconstruct the intellectual underpinnings of the trilogy.  It is interesting to see these guys pull out all kinds of crazy source material; from Socrates to Old Testament of the Bible it is all there.  Though some things they suggested just never sat right with me.
  • The Hard Problem: The Science Behind the Fiction
    • Is the notion of a real Matrix plausible?  An investigation of the technologies that inspire the metaphor of The Matrix Trilogy.  Though it seems the documentary talks more about man’s reliance on technology rather than ‘is The Matrix plausible?’

 

Disc 6: Burly Man Chronicles/The Zion Archives

  • The Burly Man Chronicles
    • Profiles the society of craftspeople, actors and filmmakers who devoted years to the movie trilogy and the Enter the Matrix console game.
  • The Zion Archive
  • The Media of The Matrix
    • The Matrix – 2 Trailers, 8 TV Spots, and Marilyn Manson Rock is Dead Music Video
    • The Matrix Reloaded – 2 Trailers, 8 TV Spots, and POD Sleeping Awake Music Video
    • The Matrix Revolutions – Theatrical Trailer, 6 TV Spots
  • Rave Reel (an assortment of clips from the 3 films)
  • The Matrix Online (an outdated look at The Matrix Online Game)

 

 

Did all of those extras sound exhausting?  Well they were.  These extras are like what they say about New York, if you can’t find it here then you can’t find it anywhere.  Granted some extras are better than others, but with the plethora of options to choose from this reviewer is not complaining.

 

In the end, this is one of the best sets to show off the picture and sound quality that Blu-ray has to offer.  Whereas the films may not have shaped up to what fans expected; it is undeniable that the trilogy had a significant impact on the film world.  This reviewer loved sifting through the immense amount of supplemental material and seeing how these films aged after years of not viewing them.  Overall, the films aged well and the magnificently imaginative world that the Wachowski brothers created is as fresh as ever.

 

 

-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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