Plot: What’s it about?
When “The Matrix” exploded onto the scene four years ago, audiences had never seen anything like it. Nowadays, though, the movie has already been imitated (both dramatically and humorously) that the second installment had a lot to live up to. While “The Matrix: Reloaded” didn’t quite live up to the hype, it’s hard to call the movie a failure. As far as sequels go, this followed the formula almost to a tee. We have more and longer action sequences (I’ll get into those in a minute), better special effects and essentially more of the same stuff that made its predecessor such a hit. So what went wrong, then? It’s hard to answer that question. Maybe the mistake was made when it took four years to come out with the next part. That “Back to the Future” thing where they made parts 2 and 3 together seems to have a curse on it when it comes to the success of the movies. Peter Jackson seems to have done it right with “The Lord of the Rings” by releasing one a year (to be concluded this year). Though I thought the second installment of that wasn’t quite as good as the first, it still was nominated for Best Picture; so that shows you what I know.
“The Matrix: Reloaded” tries to be a little too smart and clever and the result was that it backfired on them. Granted, of the many speeches in the film, there weren’t many needed. Questions are being answered with questions and in turn, you lose the audience in the process. But, for the record, here’s what I gathered from the movie. We meet Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie Anne Moss) after Neo has learned that he is “The One”. Flying and being the most important man in the virtual world aren’t all that’s bugging him as of later. It seems that the world of Zion is threatened by the machines. Lest we forget that when we see characters, cars and “normal” people it’s when they’re in the Matrix. But the “real” world exists as humans are plugged into an alternate reality. Morpheus (Larry Fishburne) is back as well, though the rest of his entourage had been killed in the previous installment. But we find that the story, naturally, revolved around Neo and his search for how to defeat the machines. More and more of the people plugged into the Matrix are being freed and the machines have amassed an army of 250,000 robots to tunnel to Zion and destroy it. If they succeed, they win the war and the human race is doomed forever. But now, it’s up to Neo to stop them or else the humans are doomed.
Not much pressure on Neo, eh? If all of the layers are peeled off, a pretty imaginative story exists. But as we get countless and pointless fights, we have to wonder why they exist in the course of the film. If Neo can fly, whey does he take the time to fight 100 Agent Smiths (Hugo Weaveing)? What the movie does is to set us up for the third installment. Perhaps like “Return of the Jedi”, we just can’t wait and see how it all ends. Granted, “The Matrix: Reloaded” isn’t going to be for everybody. But more of the same action exists. The slow motion gunfire, the kung-fu fights and everything in between are all here and then some. Probably the highlight of the film is the car/motorcycle chase that lasts about twenty minutes. Let’s face it, this makes “Bullitt” look like ancient history. Odds are that this will be a big seller and what it mainly does (just like the “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”) is get us pumped for the third installment: Revolutions. Maybe with that, we can finally answer the question that the first one asked: “What is the Matrix”?
Video: How does it look?
It’s been just about seven years since “The Matrix Reloaded” debuted on DVD and, granted, we’ve already been presented with all of the “Matrix” movies in both HD DVD and Blu-ray. If you own “The Ultimate Matrix Collection” on Blu-ray stop reading right there ? the discs are identical. The 2.40:1 VC-1 HD transfer looks exactly like the one in the box set. Many of the scenes are oversaturated, the white skin of the agents and the darkness of the movie contrast well with one another. There are plenty of green hues to go around and any and all artifacting that was present on the original DVD has now been erased. You know what you’re getting into with a “Matrix” movie on Blu-ray and this delivers the goods.
Audio: How does it sound?
The original Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack has been replaced by a Dolby TrueHD soundtrack that literally rocks. Most Blu-ray’s these days contain a DTS HD Master Audio, but this being a stand alone version of what’s already been produced, there really wasn’t a need to re-create the wheel. Again, with a “Matrix” movie you get what you signed on for ? pure, awesome, uncompressed sound. Dialogue is rich and crisp, and LFE are quite active. The car chase scene still continues to impress and every punch does sound like it’s hitting twenty pounds of meat. Surrounds are always there and rarely do they dissipate. This Dolby TrueHD mix delivers on all levels, as expected.
Supplements: What are the extras?
As mentioned before, if you already own “The Ultimate Matrix Collection” then there’s absolutely no reason you need to purchase this disc (unless you just feel like giving Warner another $20). That said, the supplements are identical to those of the two-disc DVD save for the “In Movie Experience” which is, again, something we’ve already seen before (pardon the pun). We start off wtih “Preload: Get Behind the Scenes”. It’s probably the best of the featurettes you’ll get. Though more of an EPK, we get some interviews with the cast and crew, but we do see some stunts and interviews with the stars of the movie. “What is the Animatrix” is basically a glorified advertisement for the Animatrix DVD, there’s also one for the Matrix videogame which goes behind the scenes as to how it was made. “The Matrix Unfolds” is a look at the tremendous success of the film since it hit screens in 1999 and though a bit self-congratulatory, it is amazing at exactly how popular this film is around the world. There is a rather lengthy look at the freeway chase scene, aptly entitled “How They Did It”. We see all the effects, stunts and more than we need to know, but its interesting how much thought (and money) went into this scene. Needless to say, it paid off. Lastly is “Give Me an Exit” which is essentially a poster gallery.