Cover Art and Menus: 8/10
The cover is expected and suitable. It’s not fancy or obnoxious, so I like that. The box is the standard size for our DVD shelf, and amazingly comes with some awesome looking slimline Blu-ray cases, it’s the first time I have seen these slim cases and they hold 2 discs (please movie studios can we have all our movies in these slim boxes). I’m glad it doesn’t have the faces of the stars on it, that gets pretty boring after a while. It’s understated and represents the movie set well. The menus are HD all the way, and they took the time to make them in the theme of films, so that’s cool.
I’m not coping out of writing about the extras, well, not entirely. I have seen most of them on the old standard DVDs that were released a while ago. They have added some new things for each movie, but in the end they didn’t even bother to make the content into HD, so it’s not so much like they are giving us a bunch of new stuff to enjoy.
We spent about an hour browsing and watching some of the behind the scenes that we had not watched before, and there would have been more, but after more than six hours in one day with Neo and the gang, it was time to break free from the Matrix and get on with my own reality.
Let’s just say that you will encounter lots and lots of actors training to do Martial Arts, lots of stunts being dissected, interviews with the cast and crew, and so much more about how the movies were made.
DON’T FORGET the Animatrix is on a disc too. I HIGHLY recommend taking the time to watch these amazing animated films. They link the entire world and history of The Matrix together with inventive, creative and beautiful artwork and story telling. For the first time ever these anime films are now in 1080P HD take that HD DVD owners 🙂
I personally didn’t want the HD version of the DVD’s for the extras. I wanted to see the movies again and what new extras they did add are purely a bonus. The price for the set is way to high for rehashed extras to be added to the mix, but that’s how it goes.
The Movies: 9/10
Before you glance down to the scores and wonder if I’m swooned by the whole Matrix allure, let me explain. I know intellectually these movies are not the top of the film making food chain. Let’s be honest, there’s lots of eye candy and smoke and mirrors to keep us stimulated, which is easy to get past if you try to take the high road and let your cynical side convince you that this is but a tale that’s been told a million times before, just with more flash and not so much more substance. I choose not to take the intellectual high road however, I take it all in for what it is for me personally, an amazing experience in modern movie watching with some philosophical ideas to ponder as a bonus.
The Matrix – I can’t help it, no matter how many times I see The Matrix I love it. I know it’s an old story. I know it’s got overloaded-conceptualitis, but from the first time I saw it until now it’s always an experience. I look forward to every scene, and I never want it to end. That’s why our Day of Matrix this past weekend was so excellent. We woke up, and headed straight for the all day viewing of the entire trilogy.
I’m not even an Keanu Reeves fan, honest. I kind of wrinkle my nose every time I see his little stiff acting head laying on that desk surrounded by computer equipment and then I prepare for him to begin the 6 hours of stunned stiffness he pulls off as acting. So you see, I’m not fully in love with these movies just for the sake of it. I don’t turn a blind eye to the imperfections. I know what is weak about them all, I just don’t care enough to rip them apart bit by bit.
The Matrix always gets me excited for a couple reasons. First I love the way it looks. I admit, I let my eyes wander and look at the sets, clothes, and details that were lost the first few times I watched it. That being said, I turn a blurry eye to other things like the aforementioned Neo personality gaps due to his vessel, Mr. Reeves.
The other thing that I truly do appreciate about the first installment of the Wachowski brothers’ digital celluloid love child is the quality of special effects, action sequences, and sound track. You say that’s three things? Well, for me it’s a packaged deal. It’s all put together in a way that takes me to a different time and place, away from my middle America 21st century life. That’s a genuinely tough thing to do after years of movie watching.
I guess I should serve up some details for anyone who has been living under a rock the past few years and hasn’t see these movies yet. Hmmm I’ll give it a brief attempt.
The idea behind the whole Matrix story is that we are living in a fabricated world meant to enslave us with a reality that controls us through lies and distraction to benefit those more powerful than us. Who can argue with that? My life philosophy has always followed that general concept, so I love to see it interpreted through such creative eyes. This series of movies just makes the point with all of humankind being farmed by machines for our bodies’ electricity value while our minds are kept sweet in a digital version of a world we have long since lost to the ravages of war and destruction of the earth’s surface. A small group of people have broken free and live their lives toward the goal of one day winning the battle and freedom for the billions of people still locked in the Matrix. One of them thinks that a young man named Neo is the “One” who will be the peace. Only time and two more movies will confirm or debunk his theory. Whew. (No I won’t go into the religious implications or parallels, there are lots of sites and other writings that you can find for that. I find that discussion a bit boring.)
Overall I will always dig The Matrix, no matter how many people try to knock it down with academic rhetoric and nay saying. It was thrilling the first time and I still have a great time watching it. I hope I always do.
HD NOTE: The Matrix looks amazing in HD on our 104 Inch Cinema Screen I am not one to usually comment on the look of things. I actually don’t care if something is on VHS, on my laptop in a little window, or crystal clear on the big screen. That being said, I was watching every skin tone, every thread of clothing, every spot of rust, bolt, lump, bump, and texture on surfaces. Even I can say it made re-watching the movie more fun and more engaging for sure.
Reloaded – Anyone who watches a lot of movies, including the popular trilogies of recent generations will tell you that the second film in a series has a certain purpose and that’s just the way it is. I actually see all three movies in a trilogy as one big movie. I think of it as the three acts of the same story. That way I don’t bother much with expectations of revolutionary resolutions. Do I sound defensive? I guess I have heard so much crap and cock-n-bull reviews about Reloaded and Revolutions that I feel the need to give some kind of disclaimer for my more friendly perspective.
I won’t apologize for liking Reloaded, not even close. I really enjoyed it to tell you the truth. I wanted more vampires and creepy content, but it was a bit truncated with the slight overload of action and Kung Fu stuff. That’s ok, I just wanted more of a cool view of the darker cultural icons we are all familiar with. That didn’t take anything away from the movie, it just felt like lost potential.
“That’s a nice trick.” is my favorite line for some unexplained reason. I didn’t get a thrill from the ghost twins, but they were pretty cool. I just don’t like it when bad guys bite the dust too quickly and they sure did. The Merovingian is somewhat sexy and I like his reason for choosing French as his language, because it’s like wiping your arse with silk.
The love angle is explored pretty heavily, of course. We get a sex scene, some jealousy with Neo kissing some other chick, and a few other moments I won’t mention to prevent any spoilers from leaking out of my fingers. I don’t mind the love story, even though it doesn’t really mean much to me. I don’t get more involved with the characters because of their relationship. I don’t care more about their fates or if one of them in in danger. I understand why it’s there and it’s dynamic to say the least, but it kind of gets lost for me with all the somewhat forced action sequences throughout the movie.
The biggest plot point of Reloaded for me is that we get filled in that this version of constructed reality is being relived over and over with a slightly different but still predictably controllable outcome each time. The machines who run the world, and more specifically the Architect, keep themselves alive with the farming and use of energy produced by the human species. This we already know. We are, however, given the open door to the possibility that there may be a way to break free from the bondage of humanity. This isn’t an original concept. I know it. You know it. It’s an idea that can make your mind run in circles if you try to analyze it too much, so don’t. Just go with the flow and only let it soak in far enough to enjoy, not far enough to debate the feasibility factor.
We are introduced to Zion, the last human city deep underground where our kind will make it’s last stand against the machines above. Never mind that I find the costumes and overt attempt at making the citizens more sensual and more “cool” and earthy than my obnoxious-o-meter can register. I just looked past the bigger budget and self indulgent art director/costume department. The city is in a huge cavern with hundreds of levels of the hidden city. It’s kept alive by machines and that point is made in a rather pedestrian way with an elder discussing that precise fact with Neo. The idea being planted that there is a somewhat symbiotic relationship between the machines and mankind, and more than that, between good and evil in the bigger picture of life. As if that’s not enough of a concept, Neo is being made to be even more of a savior type, which isn’t done subtly, but it’s tolerable.
I guess after saying I’m not a Reeves fan, I should say that Trinity (the character not Carrie Ann Moss) doesn’t do much for me either. I like some of her one liners and she’s tough as nails, but she becomes more of a caricature in Reloaded then I would have liked to have seen. She changes into more of a tagged on part of Neo’s journey and less of the kick ass individual we got to know in The Matrix.
Overall I enjoyed Reloaded. I think knowing that the next installment was just around the corner made me more reserved and less judgmental as I watched it the first time as well as this last time in our marathon session, so it does make the flaws easier for me to overlook because I don’t see it as a film that stands on its own it is a good second act for the full Matrix tale.
HD NOTE: The look of Reloaded doesn’t really catch my attention visually the way The Matrix does. There are lots of moments I actually hate to watch anyway, so making them more clear and more defined is not a good thing. I’m talking about the horrible video game look of Neo in some fights. I have to blur my eyes just to get through it because it look so yuck, so the HD didn’t serve me well through that trauma 🙂
Revolutions – Geez, I could actually run out of things to say about this set of movies. Not because I don’t have opinions, but because my fingers are getting tired. I’ll be brave and keep on going until I have completed my mission of reviewing all three in one setting.
I’ll be back after I get a beverage to boost me up …….
The first time I saw Revolutions I liked it. The second time was during our little Matrix love fest this past weekend and guess what, I still like it. I can’t rave about it because it simply can’t match the impact of Revolutions vs. The Matrix but that’s ok. I didn’t expect it to be world shattering, I was excited to see the end of the story, whatever that was going to be.
Let’s just say that if The Matrix had 70% content and 30% action, Reloaded being more like 40/60, Revolutions then is in the 20/80 arena for sure. The climax of each movie is respectable in it’s own way, but if you see the three as one big movie making Revolutions the climax of the whole thing, it makes more sense that it’s so full on, in your face activity.
The siege of Zion is underway by the machines. By now I care about the folks down there, despite their bad taste in clothing. I even have some concern for our team of tough and resilient heroes and heroines who are facing the challenge of defending the last of their civilization. I would say with the exception of Niobi I was hoping for a happy ending for almost everyone. I’m all for determined and talented women in movies, but she’s just too much on the side of ultra cool, once again. There is a line between intense and annoying. Trinity is intense (even if she’s not very compelling) while Niobi is just annoying to me.
Even with the personality glitches, I was interested in how things would turn out for everyone, even the machine overlords of the world. That’s what kept all three movies alive for me, the feelings I had for the characters. It wasn’t a deep connection, but it was enough to give me that little chill down my spine that rallies around at the idea of humans being defeated by some outside foe. I can handle it if we destroy ourselves, but when it’s something out of our control, even machines that we spawned centuries before that have now taken on their own power and intelligence, it’s enough of a threat that makes me want the people type folks to overcome.
I don’t mind when humans loose in the end and there is a bleakness that leaves me feeling doomed, but that’s better suited for zombie flicks. For this fairy tale of man vs. machine vs. himself, I was entertained by the first two in the set, and satisfied with the final chapter as a fitting close. I’m not sure I fully appreciate the presentation of the ending, but that’s just me thinking they got a bit lazy and fell too close to the literal interpretation of their religious imprints of the story. Fair enough though, I didn’t write the thing, I just wanted it to be more in line with the counter culture themes they dabbled in through it all instead of falling back to the less interesting emotional baggage they seem to have.
Revolutions was fine by me. It was better to see it right after the other two in the same day. When there is space in between you lose some of the flow. Watching them all in a row made them all better, flaws and all.
HD NOTE: The siege on Zion by the sentinels is amazing from start to finish and in HD it still looks good. By that I mean that sometimes when you get the better version of a film you can see the cracks and blunders of the special effects and stunts, but in Revolutions that is completely not the case. It looks incredible, and this from a chick who doesn’t care about that shiny new HD stuff.
Video & Audio By Ascully: 9/10
The 64 thousand dollar question I know most of you are asking is “How much of a upgrade over the HD DVD version is The Ultimate Matrix Collection on Blu-Ray?” Well the answer is simple and it all hinges on whether or not you really care about the Animatrix.
The original three movies are presented in 2.40:1 wide screen which preserves the original theatrical presentation, and are all encoded with the VC1 codec in full 1080P. Warner have not messed with the encodes at all. These are the original transfers they ported over from HD DVD. This isn’t a bad thing though as those transfers were just about perfect without a hint of Macro blocking, super deep black levels and a crisp 3D like image.
The big deal here is for the first time ever “The Animatrix”, the supplemental Anime movie which explains a lot of the back story of The Matrix, is now presented in the same 1080P encode that the three original movies use. The Animatrix is a great movie and to me is the fourth movie in the series or the first depending on how you look at it so seeing it in high definition was a blast.
Audio once again has not been touched and is the exact same Dolby TrueHD 5.1 tracks, uncompressed and awesome sounding as usual. Most of the extras are in SD and some are presented on standard DVD which is a disappointment, but these movies were made pre-HD and a lot of those extras were shot on SD camcorders so Warner have done there best to include them just from a completest standpoint.
Overall The Ultimate Matrix Collection is the definitive set for HD buffs and movie buffs in general. This is pretty much every single bit of footage and extra ever filmed for the Matrix, so I wouldn’t hesitate to pick it up if you are a fan.
Yes it’s HD. Yes it’s basically everything you ever wanted to know about The Matrix trilogy. But let’s be honest folks, we have seen A LOT of the extras they are offering up so that’s not exactly added value. No, I don’t think HD is worth the extra cash. I mean, come on, I was one of the first people to buy the original Matrix on DVD for like 15 bucks and I was thrilled with that price at the time. I do think the movies looked amazing, no doubt, but it’s not $73+ worth. If they had done the extras all in HD with added value commentaries and about 100 more hours of NEW footage and interviews and other stuff, I might consider spending the cash. If you have an Blu-Ray player and you have never seen the movies before, I say rent them before investing that much money. If you are buying an Blu-Ray player JUST because you want to re-watch The Matrix trio over and over and over, well, you probably have the loose change to spare.
I might not think it’s worth the price, but it is totally worth your time and effort to watch every drip of these DVD’s. That’s why the whole package gets a 10 from me. I love the flicks and I loved watching them all in a row and then watch a bunch of the extras. I’m not a Matrix guru or anything, I just know a good time when I come across one. I say have a Matrix day if you can and you will have a great time for sure. Just don’t get buyer’s remorse from spending your grocery money for a lot of stuff you have seen before.
Overall Score 10/10