The Matrix appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only a few small concerns appeared here to slightly mar an otherwise solid transfer.
For the most part, sharpness looked excellent. A few wide shots seemed just a little soft. However, those remained very minor, and the majority of the movie was crisp and detailed. No issues connected to jagged edges or moire effects appeared, but I did see some light edge enhancement occasionally. Print flaws also created very small concerns. A speck or two cropped up, but nothing much interfered with the presentation. Some light digital artifacting did occur, though.
Over the years, many folks have griped about the DVD's green tint. Portions of The Matrix - specifically those scenes that
actually take place in the matrix - have been given a moderate green tint. Apparently this was done in an attempt to make scenes in the matrix look different from those in the "real world."
Whether the filmmakers succeeded in that regard, I'll leave up to the
individual viewer. The DVD did seem to replicate the original material accurately, green shading and all. Overall the colors looked appropriately displayed. Black levels were nicely deep and tight, and low-light shots came across as well developed and concise. Ultimately, The Matrix displayed a positive image.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix of The Matrix was also solid, though I
must admit that it didn't quite live up to my expectations. I anticipated
an all-out sensory assault, and that wasn't the case. Still, it's a very
effective mix. The audio created a fairly convincing sound environment, and
effects panned nicely between channels. Effects popped up cleanly in the surrounds and combined to create a good sense of place. These became especially useful during fight and action sequences, during which we got almost the level of activity I expected.
Audio quality appeared good. Speech was natural and distinct, and I noticed no issues connected to intelligibility or edginess. Music could have been a little more dynamic, but the score and songs were mostly well defined and bright. Effects packed a nice punch, as they sounded accurate and clean. Across the board, bass response was tight and rich. While not quite demo level, the audio of The Matrix seemed satisfying.
This DVD of The Matrix includes a decent but unspectacular set of extras. We open with an audio commentary from actor Carrie-Anne Moss, editor Zach Staenberg and special effects
supervisor John Gaeta. This lineup didn't necessarily have to be a bad thing; big names don't
always guarantee a good commentary (Dustin Hoffman on Sphere, anyone?) and
participants of less obvious significance often come through nicely; for
example, of the three tracks on Contact, I preferred the one from the
effects guys over those from Jodie Foster and Robert Zemeckis.
Unfortunately, the underdogs didn't come through during The Matrix. This
isn't a bad commentary, but it's not too hot. The participants occasionally
offer some interesting information, but this happens on a much too
infrequent basis; there are very large gaps during this commentary that
feature no participation from the crew. The men dominate the discussions
that do occur; Moss chimes in on occasion, but the periods of time that lack
her participation are so I suspect she either left the room or fell asleep
at one point! She's basically not there for the middle 90 minutes of the
film. The track is worth a listen if you don't have much else to do, but
don't expect much from it.
Actually, The Matrix DVD offers a second commentary. This one comes from
composer Don Davis and is included during the isolated music-only audio
track. As is usually the case with this kind of commentary, the focus is
generally limited to a discussion of the music, but Davis also offers some
general information about what the filmmakers were trying to achieve. It's
a fairly brief commentary - this film contains a lot of music - and it's
kind of a hassle to listen to, since you have to skip past the music, but I
found it to be pretty interesting. It's not as good as Randy Newman's
terrific track for Pleasantville, but it's not bad.
Next up is a nifty 26-minute documentary called Making The Matrix. This
program began its life as a "time filler" on HBO, but it's much better than
its humble origins would let you believe. Due to its relatively brief
length, it's not exactly an in-depth piece, but it manages to offer a nice
overview of the creation of the film. It's worth a look, and you'll
actually probably want to watch it a few times.
The DVD also contains some semi-hidden extras. First up is the Follow the
White Rabbit feature. The way this one works is that if you activate it
before you watch the film, a white rabbit icon will periodically appear in
the lower right hand corner of your TV screen. At that time, you can press
the "enter" button on your remote and you will then get to see "alternate,
behind the scenes angles" of the scene you were about to watch.
These segments aren't really "alternate angles"; that implies that you will
see the completed scene from a different vantage point. Instead, what they
offer are one to four minute video montages that intersperse raw footage
from the set with some of the finished product. They're really quite
interesting; it's a lot of fun to see the "behind the scenes" machinations
for the film. Some of this kind of material can also be found in "Making
The Matrix", but this feature presents it in a more easily accessible way
(ie, if you just want to watch this stuff without having to search for it in
a larger program). Hopefully other DVDs will see fit to include this kind
Oh, and here's a way to skip all that "find the white rabbit" crap: use your
remote to select "track" (not "chapter") 27 through 35; each of those
"tracks" contains a separate "behind the scenes" segment. Alternately, you
can switch between them by finding one of the bits and using the
chapter/track forward or back button on your remote to change. I can't
guarantee this will work on your player, but it worked nicely on my
Which brings me to a DVD controversy: player difficulties. DVD newsgroups
and websites have been on fire with reports of various difficulties getting
The Matrix to work on many different players. All I can say is that it
worked flawlessly on my 110; I encountered no problems as I watched the
movie or as I accessed the special features. If you're concerned about
this, do a search through Deja.com to see if you can find any problems
associated with your particular machine.
(By the way, don't take my comments as necessarily meaning that if you also
have a 110, the DVD will run fine. I've read a bunch of reports of 110s
that run into troubles. Happily, I'm not a member of that club, however.)
So what other extras does The Matrix provide? We also find two "hidden"
video programs. The first is called What is Bullet Time? and can be found
if you click on the "red pill" underneath the title page that lists "Making
The Matrix". This segment runs for about six minutes and it details how
the "stop motion" effects in the film were produced. It's a pretty
interesting piece that lets you better understand how they did some of the
movie's most interesting effects.
The second "hidden" video can be found by clicking the "red pill" found in
the biography for the Wachowski brothers. This one's called What is the
Concept? and it lasts for about 11 minutes. It's a little more abstract
than "What is Bullet Time?" as it consists of a video montage of
storyboards, rough effects, production drawings, and finished film clips. I
didn't like it as much as I enjoyed "...Bullet Time?", but it's nonetheless
another fun behind the scenes segment.
Finally, the DVD includes the standard cast and crew biographies. These are
nice and fairly detailed (with the exception of the hilariously incomplete
entry for the Wachowskis) but they're nothing out of the ordinary. Still,
they're nice to have.
DVD-ROM owners get all of what I just listed and more! According to the
package, The Matrix includes these DVD-ROM features:
- "The One" Challenge: Answer questions about the film to find out if you are
really "The One." Meet the challenge and visit an exclusive web site with
more cool stuff!
- Special Web Events: Check for listings of celebrity chat room guests and
other special events!
- 7 Special Essays and Articles;
- A "Phone" icon that will display storyboards while you watch the film;
- All the features from the original theatrical web site housed on the DVD;
- Theatrical trailer sampler: features trailers for films such as Demolition
Man and The Road Warrior. (From what I understand, the trailers for The
Matrix can be found within the section that includes the web site's
content; the trailers can not be found on the regular DVD portion of the
All of that sounds great, but I can't comment on it, since I still don't
have a DVD-ROM drive! Oh well!
Even without those extras,The Matrix is an excellent DVD. Combine a
fantastic action movie with strong picture and sound and some decent
supplements and you get a top notch DVD. Add to that the disc's MSRP of only
$24.98, and this thing's a serious bargain. The Matrix comes highly