Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

The Matrix Revolutions

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
9 out of 10
Extras Rating:
9 out of 10
Movie Details:
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Rating: R

Starring:
Keanu Reeves as Neo
Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus
Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity
Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith
Jada Pinkett Smith as Niobe
Mary Alice as The Oracle
Sing Ngai as Seraph
Bruce Spence as Trainman
Gina Torres as Cas
Clayton Watson as The Kid
Bernard White as Rama-Kandra
Lambert Wilson as Merovingian
Anthony Wong as Ghost
Tanveer Atwal as Sati
Helmut Bakaitis as The Architect
Monica Bellucci as Persephone
Nona Gaye as Zee
Harold Perrineau Jr. as Link

Special Features:
Documentaries: REVOLUTIONS RECALIBRATED: The making of the movie, including a segment on "Neo Realism: The Evolution of Bullet Time"

Documentary: CG REVOLUTION: The special effects, including a segment Super Big Mini-Models

Featurette: SUPER BURLY BRAWL: Behind the final Neo/Smith showdown, including the segments Double Agent Smith and Mind Over Matter: The Physicality of The Matrix

Other: BEFORE THE REVOLUTION: A 3-D Matrix timeline

FUTURE GAMER: THE MATRIX ONLINE: an introduction to the massively mulit-player game

Photo gallery: 3-D EVOLUTION: Multidimensional stills gallery

Other Info:
Widescreen
Dolby 5.1 Digital Surround Sound
English and French Language
English, Spanish, and French Subtitles
Running Time: 129 Minutes

Synopsis:
This is the third and final chapter of the Matrix trilogy.

The Matrix Revolutions picks up immediately where the cliffhanger ending of Reloaded left off. Neo is trapped in limbo between the Matrix and the real world. After talking with the Oracle, Trinity and Morpheus learn that the only one who can get him out is the Merovingian. After tense negotiations (and some gunplay), our heroes are successful in saving The One. However, they're not out of trouble yet.

The Machines have broken into Zion and the final battle has begun. Niobe, Morpheus, and the others race back to help in the fight. Meanwhile, Neo and Trinity race to the heart of the Machine City in order to try and save the human race. But what can Neo possibly do against millions of Sentinels? And how will Agent Smith ruin things?

The Matrix Revolutions is rated R for sci-fi violence and brief sexual content.

The Movie:
As a big fan of the Matrix series, I was a little bit let down by The Matrix Reloaded. Fortunately, Revolutions is better than the second film. While not quite as good as the first film, it's an overall more satisfying flick. There's less philosophy and more action. While it takes around 50 minutes for it to pick up steam, the last hour and ten minutes is almost non-stop excitement. It's a very satisfying roller coaster ride and an exciting mix of action and special effects.

The visual effects are absolutely stunning. The battle in Zion between the Sentinels and the humans is jaw dropping. You really feel like the fate of the human race is at stake. The Sentinels mass in such great numbers that it's mind-numbing. This is one of the best sci-fi battles in recent memory. There's also a spectacular fight between Smith and Neo that takes place in mid-air. They fight while in flight like General Zod and Superman. As they zip and fly through the rain, the imagery is both beautiful and impressive. This film definitely raises the bar for any Superman movie to come.

As far as the acting goes... let's face it. Everyone plays it a little stiff. They show very little emotion. However, the stand out character is Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith. He evolves from his reserved agent character into a full-blown mad god of the Matrix. It's a chilling (and amusing) transformation. He also ends up being one of the few characters that show any emotion, if you can believe it.

One of the good things about Revolutions is that it finally proves that our heroes aren't invincible. Neo has a moment on par with Luke Skywalker getting his hand cut off in The Empire Strikes Back. That kind of thing proves that anything goes, and of course it does. Fearing for the safety of your favorite characters makes you invest a lot more emotion in them and ultimately makes the completion of their journey that much more satisfying.

Finally, the film is more or less open for a sequel. The Wachowski Brothers have said they’re done with the Matrix series, but it's nice to know it can be revisited if they so choose.

As much as I enjoyed The Matrix Revolutions, it still had its problems. Most notably is the first 50 minutes of the film. As you might expect, the problems with Revolutions are the same type of problems that were in Reloaded. Those early minutes are rather slow and bogged down with Matrix-speak. There are all sorts of confusing exposition on love, emotions, the Matrix, and prophecy. It becomes especially tedious and you become antsy for them to get on with the war.

Like the second film, this one has its awkward moment. Reloaded featured a bizarre rave scene that went on too long. Revolutions features an S&M club filled with people in deviant costumes and rubber outfits. It came across as the directors acting out their fetishes on screen and it was just plain silly. It's a little hard not to snicker at a guy in a rubber shirt and pants pointing a gun and acting tough against Morpheus.

The movie also suffers from occasional lapses in logic. For example, Zion desperately needs an EMP device in order to stop the Sentinels, however they all just happen to be on the ships outside of the city. Why don't they have one in the base? Also, the fighters in the robot battle suits wear nothing more than cotton shirts and rags. This makes them very vulnerable to, well, anything. You'd think they'd at least wear a helmet or armor. However, I recognize that these situations make things much more exciting, so they are forgivable.

Wooden performances are a trademark of The Matrix, but I was hoping for just a little more emotion in the film. For example, after an incredibly dramatic harrowing escape and impossible rescue, Niobe and Morpheus deliver lines as if they just woke up from a nap. I kept waiting for Morpheus to get angry, happy, sad, or anything. Of course it didn't happen. Ironically Neo, probably the most stiff of them all, has one of the few emotional moments in the film. I won't give details, but I was impressed with his performance.

I'm still pondering the ending of the film. I think I liked it, but I'm not sure. I like the fact that they left it open for a sequel, but I don't like the fact that I wasn't clear on Neo's final fate. I liked the subtle references to both religion and mythology, but I think they got a little too blatant when a big glowing cross briefly flashes across the screen. In fact, the giant machine monster at the end even says a variation of "It is finished". I liked the fact that it was a happy ending, but I didn't like the fact that I was still left with a million lingering questions. How was Neo able to manipulate machines in the real world? What happens to the humans? What happens to the Matrix? What is the Source? And is it the cousin of The Force?? In short, don't expect this film to answer everything about the Matrix universe.

The Matrix Revolutions, while not on par with the first film in the trilogy, is still pretty good. Those that didn't like The Matrix Reloaded should be a bit happier with this final film in the series.

The Extras:
The second disc of this two disc set is packed with extras. As an interesting side trick, there are some Easter eggs hidden within the documentaries. When you see a white rabbit appear on the screen, you hit "enter" and a side documentary plays. These feature the making of the Super Burly Brawl, the multiple Agent Smiths, the big miniatures, and the wire stunts. If you don't want to access them in the middle of the documentaries, you can find them under "Operator" on the regular menu. I liked having that option rather than having to watch for the rabbit all the time. Here are the other highlights of the DVD extras:

Revolutions Recalibrated – This is the centerpiece of the DVD extras. It's a 45 minute or so documentary on the making of the movie. It has your typical behind the scenes footage, interviews with the cast and crew, and discussions on making the movie. Again, the absence of the Wachowski Brothers is glaringly apparent. The only problem is that it no longer seems like an eccentric quirk of the men – it comes across as a bit elitist. If every other actor and crew member can have the courtesy to chat with their fans about the making of the movie, why can't they? I suppose it has become a pet peeve of mine. That aside, it's still an interesting and informative look at how the movie was made. It looks like the movie was fun to make and you even see a few bloopers in the footage.

CG Revolution – This is a detailed look at the making of the special effects. It gets heavily into the computer effects as well as the miniatures used in the movie. Though some of the material is redundant after having seen "Revolutions Recalibrated", it is still quite impressive. It also made me realize even more what a travesty it was that this film wasn't at least nominated for an Academy Award for effects. You'll learn trivia about how the robot god at the end was designed with a baby face, how miniatures were blown up for many of the key action scenes, and how the faces of the actors were scanned to make the virtual actors. Look for a brief cameo by Mythbusters star Adam Savage, too.

Super Burly Brawl – In this feature you can watch the final battle between Neo and Agent Smith in storyboard form, animatic, and the final version. You hit your "angle" button to toggle between them. It's cool to see just how closely the final product looks to the earliest storyboards. It's a testament to how the Wachowski Brothers stick to their original vision.

Before The Revolution – This is nothing more than a timeline discussing what happened in the Animatrix, The Matrix, and Matrix Reloaded. If you've seen all these, there's nothing new here for you. The events are presented in text, photos, and a couple of short video clips.

Future Gamer – The Matrix Online – At first I thought this was nothing more than an ad for the upcoming Matrix "massively mulit-player game". However, it is more than that. It is a full making of feature telling how the game was designed, how it will be implemented, what features are in it, and where they are going with it. You'll see the computer characters wandering through Mega City forming alliances, meeting people, and most importantly fighting each other. I'm not a gamer, but this looked like it would be a lot of fun. Look for this game to arrive later in 2004.

3-D Evolution - This is an elaborately set up archive of storyboards, concept art, and movie stills. It's interesting, but not a major draw of the DVD extras.

The Bottom Line:
Though it has its problems, The Matrix Revolutions is a good end to the Matrix Trilogy and it's a better film than Reloaded. The DVD is worth adding to your collection, but I suspect some sort of deluxe edition will be coming in the future. I think there's more material that they are holding back on.

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