Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

The Ultimate Matrix Collection

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
9 out of 10
Extras Rating:
8 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

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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:
3 Monumental Movies.
10 State-Of-The-Art Discs.
Over 35 Spellbinding Hours Of Bonus Material.

1. The Matrix
New digital transfer and 2 new commentaries.

2. The Matrix Revisited
A feature-length mind-expanding look at the Matrix from conception to phenomenon, plus 17 featurettes.

3. The Matrix Reloaded
2 new commentaries

4. The Matrix Reloaded Revisited
Go to the second chapter's furthest reaches via 21 featurettes, plus 23 exciting extra scenes shot for the Enter The Matrix console game.

5. The Matrix Revolutions
2 new commentaries.

6. The Matrix Revolutions Revisited
The cataclysmic final confrontation is chronicled through 29 featurettes.

7. The Animatrix
9 short films from pioneering anime directors exploring the world of the Matrix.

8. The Roots Of The Matrix
Historical, philosophical and technological inspirations are explored in insightful documentaries.

9. The Burly Man Chronicles
Probe the society of actors, craftspeople and filmmakers who shaped the movie trilogy and the Enter The Matrix console game within 21 featurettes.

10. The Zion Archive
Production assets developed for the Matrix universe, including concept artwork, storyboards, drawings, music videos, TV spots and trailers. Also includes a preview of The Matrix Online multiplayer game.

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
5.1 DTS Surround Sound
Various Languages
Various Subtitles
Running Time: A lot of minutes

Synopsis:
The following are official synopses of the main films from the series:

The Matrix (1999) - Keanu Reeves stars as Neo, a disaffected computer hacker seeking the answer to the question, "What is the Matrix?" His search leads him to the elusive Morpheus (Fishburne), who begins to enlighten Neo about the illusions of his so-called reality. In accepting the answer Morpheus provides, Neo is hurled into a futuristic world where old realities are shattered, and he must fight for his life, and the future of humanity, against a dangerous group of inhuman government agents. This film is rated R (for sci-fi violence and brief language).

The Matrix Reloaded (2003) - In the second chapter of the Matrix trilogy, freedom fighters Neo (Reeves), Trinity (Moss) and Morpheus (Fishburne) continue to lead the revolt against the Machine Army, unleashing their arsenal of extraordinary skills and weaponry against the systematic forces of repression and exploitation. In their quest to save the human race from extinction, they gain greater insight into the construct of The Matrix and Neo's pivotal role in the fate of mankind. This film is rated R (for sci-fi violence and some sexuality).

The Matrix Revolutions (2003) - In "The Matrix Revolutions," the final chapter in the "Matrix" trilogy, the rebels' long quest for freedom culminates in a final explosive battle. As the Machine Army wages devastation on Zion, its citizens mount an aggressive defense -- but can they stave off the relentless swarm of Sentinels long enough for Neo to harness the full extent of his powers and end the war? This film is rated R (for sci-fi violence and brief sexual content).

The Movie:
I'm not even going to bother reviewing the Matrix movies here. If you're interested in this DVD set, then chances are you've already seen The Matrix films and you know if you like them or not. I will say that I'm a huge fan of The Matrix, the first film in the series. I thought it was a great blend of action, sci-fi, special effect, and drama. I wasn't as big of a fan of The Matrix Reloaded, but you can read my full review of it here. And while I didn't think the final film, The Matrix Revolutions, was as good as the first film, I thought it was an improvement over the second. You can read my full review of that here.

This Ultimate Matrix set also includes The Animatrix. It is a series of short stories from The Matrix universe shown in anime format. You can read my original review of that DVD here.

You probably already know and love the movies, so the real draw of this DVD set is the bonus features. Are they worth it? Read on.

The Extras:
There are literally hours and hours of bonus features included in this DVD set. It would take quite a bit of time to review them all, so I'm just going to give you an overview of them and address your likely questions about them.

My first question was if I already owned the other Matrix DVDs, would this set replace them? The answer is no. While some of the previous bonus features are repeated in the Ultimate Matrix set, a number of them aren't. For example, the Cast and Crew commentary on the first Matrix DVD isn't included here. Some of the bonus features on Reloaded and Revolutions aren't included here either. So if you probably won't want to give away your other Matrix DVDs if you get this Ultimate set.

Is it worth picking up The Ultimate Matrix Collection? That depends what you're into. If you're into the historical, philosophical, and religious aspects of The Matrix movies, then you'll really love the documentary "Return to the Source: Philosophy & The Matrix". In this documentary various professors of philosophy and religious scholars pontificate about the film and its connections to their various fields. If you're into that sort of discussion then you'll really enjoy this hour long feature. I personally have limited tolerance for such discussion before I get bored or annoyed, so I didn't get much out of it. But if you're into the science, A.I., and cyberpunk, then you'll love "The Hard Problem: The Science Behind The Fiction". This hour long documentary rallies another batch of academics and authors and has them discuss the scientific aspects of The Matrix. This was a little more up my alley, but again I found myself bored by the lengthy discussions about artificial intelligence, the possibility of a real Matrix, and other stuff. If you're into the actual making of the Matrix movies, then you're probably going to enjoy "The Burly Man Chronicles". This is an extensive look at the making of the Matrix sequels and the Enter The Matrix game. It follows the entire production from early concept meetings to finish. The movie also has the White Rabbit feature that allows you to jump to side featurettes highlighting various cast and crew. This documentary is further supplemented by various featurettes on the DVDs for the other movies. While this was most interesting to me, I found that the documentaries didn't have a whole lot of new stuff to show me. Though all the footage seems new, a lot of what it had to show was covered extensively on the previous DVD editions. There's only so much behind the scenes footage that you can see of The Freeway Chase before you feel like you've seen it all. But if you're into the art, trailers, and music videos from the Matrix movies, then you'll like The Zion Archive disc. It has all the artwork and media from the movies that you could possibly ask for. (My 3 year old son walked in when I was watching the Marilyn Manson video "Rock Is Dead" and he started dancing and bobbing his head. I don't know whether to be worried or amused.)

The only other significant addition to the DVDs is the commentaries. As the Wachowski Brothers go to great lengths to explain in a letter with the DVD, they wanted to offer unique commentaries for this set. So to do this, they rallied a number of philosophers to do one commentary for the trilogy and a few critics that weren't thrilled by The Matrix for the other commentary. While it's a daring and interesting idea, the commentaries end up being quite boring. The movie critics make some of the most inane comments that I've ever heard in a commentary and the philosophers don't seem to know what to say whenever action hits the screen (which is often). I think it would have been infinitely more interesting to have thrown the snobby "feelm critics" in a room with die-hard Matrix fans and see what the final result had been. Now I think that would have been an interesting commentary.

So I guess my final verdict is that The Ultimate Matrix Collection is only worth picking up if you're a die hard Matrix fan, a fan of the philosophy, or a cyberpunk enthusiast. I think general Matrix fans will probably find that their already purchased copies of the Matrix movies and The Animatrix are sufficient.

The Bottom Line:
Despite consisting of 10 discs, the Ultimate Matrix Collection doesn't have a lot more to offer you than the already released Matrix DVDs. Fans of the philosophical, religious, and scientific aspects of the Matrix movies will probably find the new documentaries well worth checking out, though.

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