Case Number 14815

THE ULTIMATE MATRIX COLLECTION (BLU-RAY)

The Matrix
Warner Bros. // 1999 // 13 Minutes // Rated R
The Animatrix
Warner Bros. // 2003 // 89 Minutes // Not Rated
The Matrix Reloaded
Warner Bros. // 2003 // 138 Minutes // Rated R
The Matrix Revolutions
Warner Bros. // 2003 // 129 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // October 23rd, 2008

The Charge

What is the matrix?

Opening Statement

At the risk of sounding a little bit glib about such a highly regarded series of films, The Matrix is starting to become the new Army of Darkness for the new decade. By my count, it has individual catalog releases, along with a separate boxed set of all the films, with or without your choice of a collectible figurine. Then you had the boxed set released for the first time last year in high definition on HD DVD. So it's here on Blu-ray, after technical delays with the format, so what's it like?

Facts of the Case

You still don't know what happens in The Matrix trilogy? I'm sorry, but The Matrix is one of the more heavily talked-about reviews within our offices at DVD Verdict. No less than 11 reviewers have contributed individually or in group to six reviews of the films, including the straight to video Animatrix series. Nearly 30,000 words have been put down on virtual wax, so to speak. Suffice to say that Johnny Utah from Point Break (Keanu Reeves) isn't sure what the real reality is in the world, so he's a little intrigued when Tre's dad from Boyz in the Hood (Laurence Fishburne) shows him how things REALLY look, and what he's able to do within this world called "the Matrix," include leap really really high from building to building and kick the crap out of many people simultaneously. The bad guy per se is the guy who voiced Megatron in the Transformers movie (Hugo Weaving), looking real cool in a black suit and sunglasses, but able to transform himself into virtually anyone, just so Johnny Utah can be stopped from becoming Jesus Christ and the machines can keep the humans down on the farm.

At least, that's how I think it goes.

The Evidence

The trilogy of Matrix films is notable for a couple of different things. First, it showed us the possibility of filmmaking using visual effects many of us had not seen before. Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss, Memento) didn't just leap up and pause in mid air, you circled around her to see that yes, this wasn't just some goofy computer generated likeness of her doing this. Similar revolutions around a shot occur several times through the first Matrix film, with the help of wire work that has been prominent in a lot of films since then. Many other mind-bending shots were the reason why The Matrix was so popular, that and a semi-decent story about breaking through the wall of technology.

The second thing is that apparently Andy and Larry Wachowski (Speed Racer) had an itch for the first film and wanted to scratch it, in the form of two sequels shot back to back. What was it about Neo from film one to film two that he could fly all of a sudden? Knowing that the middle parts of films are always problematic, Reloaded came in and didn't really elevate the bar. In fact some of the same elements from the first film (the Neo-Trinity flirting/relationship/whatever it was) seem to carry over a little more obviously here than before. There are more moments that include tangents which are a little strange, and as far as the visuals and stunts go, you don't feel that same degree of awe that you did the first time. In fact, a lot of the stunts seem, well, ordinary. That might not be a good word for them, but there's a little more down to earth this time, even the stuff that people still pimp as being jaw-dropping. I'm sorry, but the car chase scene doesn't hold up for me, and when I saw it in the theaters, the only thing that impressed me then, as it does now, is how long is it. Even though both Reloaded and Revolutions have visuals that are shot exceptionally well, but there's enough cutting and techno music going on that you're liable to get ADD from watching either film, which will hopefully make you forget about the sappy nature of the lead character and his love interest, which would have been better left out of a science fiction film to begin with.

Technically, all three films are in 2.40:1 widescreen with the same VC-1 encoded presentations and all with the same Dolby TrueHD soundtracks, and they all look fantastic. Blacks are inky and as deep as they come, detail is excellent both in close up shots and in the background, where the dimensionality of the shots helps show off the composition. The TrueHD soundtracks get better with each film, as the sound in the first film is a little inconsistent to me, resulting in frequent adjustment. It was annoying but past that, you get great directional effects and speaker panning, and subwoofer activity in spades. These films were demo material on HD DVD, that's not changed here.

All the extras are brought over from the Ultimate Collection standard and HD DVD versions. Another difference between is that The Animatrix has been brought into its widescreen 1.78:1 glory. The colors on each feature look real good, and while there's a TrueHD soundtrack option listed on the back of the case, I couldn't find it on the disc. You also get a digital copy of The Matrix for your troubles.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

There's no denying the enthusiasm and energy that the Wachowskis infused in the sci-fi genre with the Matrix trilogy. The first film crossed over from goofy future film into technological breakthroughs, and won four Oscars -- all in the technical areas. Everything since then has paled in comparison, including the story quality...but I digress.

Closing Statement

Well, if you waited to buy The Matrix until the format wars were solved, you're in luck, because you can go in several directions. If you have the HD DVD, I'd probably not worry about it, unless getting The Animatrix in high definition is really that important to you. That's the only real change from the HD DVD set, since the audio and video is the same. For those who waited, boom goes the dynamite! Go grab this sucker! In the interest of disclosure, there are rumors of The Matrix as a standalone title in 2009, so approach with caution.

The Verdict

Warner Bros. is acquitted for at least trying to make a double-dip slightly worthwhile for consumers, but it only results in a reduced sentence. Next time you want to release a catalog jewel in a video format, how about ultimately waiting?

Review content copyright © 2008 Ryan Keefer; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice, The Matrix
Video: 100
Audio: 98
Extras: 99
Acting: 89
Story: 87
Judgment: 94

Perp Profile, The Matrix
Video Formats:
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p Widescreen)

Audio Formats:
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Italian)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)

Subtitles:
* English
* Dutch
* French
* Italian
* Portuguese
* Spanish

Running Time: 13 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, The Matrix
* In-Movie Experience
* Written Introduction
* 4 Audio Commentaries
* Documentary: "The Matrix Revisited"
* "Take the Red Pill" Featurette Gallery
* "Follow the White Rabbit" Featurette Gallery
* "Behind the Matrix" Featurette Gallery
* "The Music Revisited" Isolated Musical Cues
* Music Video
* Theatrical Trailers
* TV Spots
* Digital Copy

Scales of Justice, The Animatrix
Video: 100
Audio: 94
Extras: 36
Acting: 86
Story: 84
Judgment: 86

Perp Profile, The Animatrix
Video Formats:
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p Widescreen)

Audio Formats:
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Italian)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)

Subtitles:
* English
* Dutch
* French
* Italian
* Portuguese
* Spanish

Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, The Animatrix
* Voices: Creative Team Commentary on Select Films
* Creators: Bios and Filmographies on Creative Teams
* Execution: Behind the Scenes Featurettes on Each Film
* Scrolls To Screen: History and Culture of Anime Featurette

Scales of Justice, The Matrix Reloaded
Video: 100
Audio: 100
Extras: 99
Acting: 87
Story: 83
Judgment: 88

Perp Profile, The Matrix Reloaded
Video Formats:
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p Widescreen)

Audio Formats:
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Italian)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)

Subtitles:
* English
* Dutch
* French
* Italian
* Portuguese
* Spanish

Running Time: 138 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, The Matrix Reloaded
* In-Movie Experience
* Written Introduction
* 2 audio Commentaries
* "Behind the Matrix" Featurette Gallery
* "Enter the Matrix" Featurette Gallery
* "The Matrix Reloaded Revisited" Featurette Gallery
* Music Video
* Theatrical Trailers
* TV Spots

Scales of Justice, The Matrix Revolutions
Video: 100
Audio: 100
Extras: 99
Acting: 84
Story: 80
Judgment: 85

Perp Profile, The Matrix Revolutions
Video Formats:
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p Widescreen)

Audio Formats:
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Italian)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)

Subtitles:
* English
* Dutch
* French
* Italian
* Portuguese
* Spanish

Running Time: 129 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, The Matrix Revolutions
* In-Movie Experience
* Written Introduction
* 2 Audio Commentaries
* "Behind the Matrix" Featurette Gallery
* "The Matrix Revolutions Revisited" Featurette Gallery
* 3D Evolution Stills Gallery
* Theatrical Trailers
* TV Spots

Accomplices
* IMDb: The Matrix
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0133093/combined

* IMDb: The Matrix Reloaded
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0234215/combined

* IMDb: The Matrix Revolutions
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0242653/combined

* IMDb: The Animatrix
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0328832/combined

* Official Site
http://whatisthematrix.warnerbros.com/

* Mythography: Morpheus at a Glance
http://www.loggia.com/myth/morpheus.html