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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski
Cast:
Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Helmut Bakaitis, Mary Alice, Jada Pinkett Smith, Harold Perrineau, Hugo Weaving, Monica Bellucci
Writing Credits:
Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski

Tagline:
Everything that has a beginning has an end.

Synopsis:
The definitive ten-disc DVD set, The Ultimate Matrix Collection features all three films in the trilogy together for the first time ever with a newly remastered picture and sound for The Matrix.

Also included is the companion piece The Matrix Revisited and the best-selling The Animatrix, plus five entirely new DVDs packed solid with brand-new supplemental materials that encompass every aspect of the Matrix universe, including two new audio commentaries on each film, "Enter the Matrix" video game footage, 106 deep-delving featurettes / documentaries and much more!

The Matrix Revolutions: In The Matrix Revolutions, the final explosive chapter in The Matrix Trilogy, the epic war between man and machine reaches a thundering crescendo: the Zion military, aided by courageous civilian volunteers like Zee (Nona Gaye) and the Kid (Clayton Watson), desperately battles to hold back the Sentinel invasion as the Machine army bores into their stronghold. Facing total annihilation, the citizens of the last bastion of humanity fight not only for their own lives, but for the future of mankind itself.

Box Office:
Budget
$110 million.
Opening Weekend
$48.475 million on 3502 screens.
Domestic Gross
$139.259 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 129 min.
Price: $79.92
Release Date: 12/7/2004

Available Only as Part of the Ultimate Matrix Collection.

Bonus:
Disc Five
• Audio Commentary with Philosophers Dr. Cornel West and Ken Wilber
• Audio Commentary with Critics Todd McCarthy, John Powers and David Thomson
• Written Introduction from Writers/Directors Larry and Andy Wachowski
Disc Six
• “Crew” Featurettes
• “Hel” Featurettes
• “Siege” Featurettes
• “Super Burly Brawl” Featurettes
• “New Blue World” Featurettes
• “Aftermath” Featurettes


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Matrix Revolutions: Special Edition (The Ultimate Matrix Collection) (2003)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 1, 2004)

When 2003 opened, a wide audience champed at the bit to get a look at the year’s two sequels to 1999’s The Matrix. The middle portion of the trilogy - The Matrix Reloaded - cleaned up at the box office in the spring, as it took in a whopping $281 million, a record for an “R”-rated movie until The Passion of the Christ appeared.

However, by the time the final part of the trilogy hit the screens in the fall, most of the anticipation and excitement no longer existed. The Matrix Revolutions limped along to a decidedly disappointing gross of $139 million. This essentially means that less than half of the people who went to see Reloaded six months earlier mustered the enthusiasm to take in Revolutions. To coin a phrase: wha’ happened? Reloaded happened. Personally, I liked the movie. It didn’t live up to the original, but it worked fairly well overall.

Apparently I didn’t have a lot of company. Many of those who saw Reloaded felt disappointed by it, but I felt the movie seemed fairly effective. It didn’t live up to the hype or the expectations set by the first film, but it did enough to succeed.

On the other hand, Revolutions left me flat. Revolutions launches right where Reloaded ended. Neo (Keanu Reeves) lies comatose. Piloted by Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith), the Logos remains absent and feared lost. The robotic sentinels are headed toward Zion, the last refuge of the free humans, where they will arrive in less than 20 hours and pretty much trash the joint.

We quickly learn that Neo’s not in a coma per se. Instead, he’s stuck in the Matrix and needs to find a way out of there. Our friends also get a call from the Oracle (Mary Alice) and go to see her. She provides info about Neo’s status to his girlfriend Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and buddy Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne). They need to help him out before the forces of the Merovingian (Lambert Wilson) discover Neo first. Along with the Oracle’s assistant Seraph (Collin Chou), they go to find the Merovingian and take care of business. All the while, Neo tries to get out of a train station that acts as the transfer point out for him.

Eventually our trio meets with the Merovingian, who tries to strike a deal with them. Trinity enacts her own bargain, and they finally get Neo out of the train station. They play to leave the Matrix, but he wants to meet with the Oracle once more before they split. She provides her usual enigmatic messages and sends Neo on his way to make his own decisions, though she warns our boy of the threat presented by Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), whose powers continues to increase, and basically places the fate of the world on Neo’s shoulders.

Smith presents a more direct threat when he visits the Oracle and increases his power. The Hammer finds the Logos and they all attempt to do what they can to get back to Zion. Neo declares that he needs to take a ship – all of which are in short supply – to the Machine City to confront his destiny. Niobe volunteers the Logos, and Trinity insists that she go with Neo. Back home, the humans plan their defense against the machines.

The remainder of the movie follows those three threads. We see the efforts of Niobe, Morpheus and the others on board the Hammer as try to come to the rescue, and we watch the sentinel attack on Zion. We also check out the quest of Neo and Trinity to reach the Machine City, which comes with its own obstacles.

On second viewing, Revolutions seems better than I felt it was when I watched it theatrically. I didn’t have particularly high expectations for it. Even though I liked Reloaded, I didn’t think we’d get much satisfaction from the final chapter. Despite my enjoyment of the second flick, it still took a lot of steam out of the franchise, and Revolutions failed to reignite matters.

A lot of that stems from the diffuse focus of the movie. In the first Matrix, we concentrated mainly on three characters: Neo, Trinity and Morpheus. Reloaded broadened that scope but kept things acceptably tight. Unfortunately, Revolutions largely loses track of its leads. Neo remains a prime player, but Trinity exists mainly to cling to him, and poor Morpheus gets reduced to a bit part.

This means that Revolutions concentrates on characters about whom we know little and care less. We see a lot of the folks back in Zion, with some emphasis on Captain Mifune (Nathaniel Lees) and a raw recruit just known as “The Kid” (Clayton Watson). Niobe gets a lot of screen time as well, and Morpheus does little more than act as her backseat driver.

This feels unsatisfying to me. Nothing against the secondary characters or the actors who play them, but the whole thing between Mifune and The Kid seems silly; it feels like a throwback to World War II-era propaganda piece.

The main problem is that we don’t want to see a movie about Mifune and Niobe. We want to wrap up the story of Neo, Trinity and Morpheus. The movie does this, I suppose, but it fails to present them in a satisfying manner. Mainly that’s because of the absence of Morpheus, but even Trinity has little to do other than Stand By Her Man. Neo’s journey is one more of reaction than action too. It all feels like if Return of the Jedi put Luke, Leia and Han in secondary roles and concentrated on Admiral Ackbar and Nien Nunb.

The movie certainly pours on a lot of action, something that was a bit of a weakness in Reloaded. That flick’s first half plodded to a degree, though its second segment made up for it. Revolutions slams us with a higher level of action, though it lacks some impact because of the absence of character involvement. The sentinel attack on Zion is a doozy, and it presents a lot of dazzling work. However, it fails to become terribly emotionally involving because of the “who are these guys?” factor. No, we don’t need a total commitment to the personalities to care, but some attachment would certainly help. The characters are one-dimensional and new to us, so we don’t feel the assault’s impact as well as we should.

A lot of Revolutions feels padded as well. Why is Neo trapped in the Matrix? I don’t know. It contributes nothing to the story, though it offers the opportunity for a big action shoot-out piece. That’s fine, but it starts the movie slowly, as we don’t get much useful material. It presents an intriguing concept of programs who exhibit humanity – represented by a little girl whose parents try to get her out of the Matrix – but the film doesn’t explore the ideas well, and they feel like gimmicks.

Revolutions seems ambitious, though its intellectual depth appears questionable. One nice thing about the series stems from its attempts to get into various deeper spiritual issues, but it doesn’t tie these together well. Some may argue this was intentional, as the ambiguity leaves the material open to interpretation and introspection. Some of that may be true, but I think a lot of the inconsistencies occur because the Wachowski brothers don’t want to bother with a real worldview. Instead, it’s easier to leave plot holes and whatnot and leave it to the audience to worry about fitting it together.

Ultimately, The Matrix Revolutions fails to complete the trilogy in a truly satisfying manner. Granted, the movie has more than a few solid sequences, and it presents a decent level of general entertainment. Unfortunately, it doesn’t wrap up matters in a coherent way, and it presents far too many flaws to become something winning. I enjoyed parts of it but felt let down as a whole.


The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus A-

The Matrix Revolutions 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. Since they shot Reloaded and Revolutions at the same time, one might expect the two films to demonstrate similar visuals on their respective DVDs. One would anticipate correctly, for Revolutions looked like a virtual carbon copy of Reloaded

Once again, sharpness seemed excellent. Softness created virtually no concerns at any time. The movie always came across as tight and distinctive, with no signs of any lack of definition. No issues with softness arose during the movie. Instead, the image always remained nicely detailed and well defined. Jagged edges and shimmering caused no concerns, and I also detected no evidence of intrusive edge enhancement. Print flaws remained absent. Never did I notice signs of specks, grit, or other problems in this clean transfer.

As with Reloaded, the colors of Revolutions varied from setting to setting. Scenes aboard the ships and that involved machines looked blue. As with the first flick, segments that took place inside the Matrix itself demonstrated a decided green tint. A few shots differed from these two schemes, but they accounted for the vast majority of the palette. Within the world of the film, the colors always looked strong. The movie held these stylistic decisions well and presented tones that were tight and cleanly represented. Black levels also were very positive, as dark elements appeared deep and bold. Low-light shots demonstrated appropriate levels of opacity but didn’t come across as dense or thick. In the end, Matrix Revolutions presented a very solid image.

I also felt that the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Matrix Revolutions matched up with what I anticipated. The mix for Reloaded started slowly, but that didn’t occur here. To be sure, the audio created a much more active setting during the film’s second half, since that included most of the action sequences. However, it also kicked in with good material during the first hour, so the difference didn’t seem as noticeable as during Reloaded.

Forward definition always remained strong. Music showed good stereo presence, and the rears supported the score well. Effects demonstrated nice delineation and localization, and elements moved across the front smoothly. The showiest parts of the film started with the sentinel attack on Zion. From there through the end, a great deal of unique material poured from the rear speakers, and they helped make the track engrossing and involving.

Audio quality appeared fine across the board. I discerned no problems connected to speech, as the lines demonstrated good clarity and crispness. No issues connected to edginess or intelligibility manifested themselves. Music probably could have been a little more dynamic, but the score mostly seemed bright and full. Effects presented good range, as those elements seemed distinctive and accurate. They also powered the low-end response well, with bass that appeared loud and solid. Nothing about the audio of Revolutions disappointed, as it provided a consistently involving and impressive piece.

How did the picture and audio of this new Ultimate Collection version of Revolutions compare to those of the original DVD? They seemed identical. The Matrix got a new transfer, but Revolutions used identical visual and audio for both releases.

The new Revolutions differs from the old one in regard to its extras. Virtually all of the components on these two discs don’t appear on the earlier set. By the way, I call the discs “DVDs Five and Six” for continuity; that’s how they’re referred to in the 10-platter package.

On DVD Five, we get two audio commentaries. The first comes from philosophers Dr. Cornel West and Ken Wilber, both of whom sit together and provide a running, screen-specific chat. This one presents virtually all the same pros and cons I heard on the two prior tracks from West and Wilber. On the positive side, the pair get into some of the movie’s weightier issues well. They delve into the meaning of the whole thing and can put it in good context. This becomes especially useful during the somewhat convoluted final third of the flick.

As for negatives, the main one stems from dead air. An awful lot of the movie passes with no remarks at all. During those occasions, Wilber exclaims his appreciation for some scenes, but we get little in the way of interpretation or meaning. I thought the first two commentaries would have worked better as separate interviews. The information can be good, but there’s not enough content here to make it a consistently satisfying discussion. The massive amounts of down time make this one frustrating.

For the second commentary, we hear from critics Todd McCarthy, David Thomson and John Powers, all of whom sit together for a running, screen-specific chat. As with the first two commentaries, this one isn’t very informative. Once again, dead air dominates, and when the critics do speak, they offer little other than smarmy one-liners. They never seem sure of their own opinions. At one point during the first movie, they griped that we didn’t need exposition, only action. Here they reverse course and decide there’s too much action and they want exposition!

Sometimes they hit on insightful remarks about plot flaws and the political correctness of the way the movie portrays non-white cultures. However, there’s just not enough here to keep us interested or informed. Over the three movies, I spent about seven hours with these guys, but I can recall almost no helpful points they raised. With all the movie critics in the world, this was the best the DVD’s producers could do?

Over on DVD Six, we open with a collection of featurettes called Crew. This includes four components: “Owen’s Army: The Australian Art Department” (four minutes, 22 seconds), “2nd Unit: A World of Their Own” (5:58), “Bill Pope: Cinematographer of The Matrix” (5:48), and “Masters of Light and Shadow” (6:51). These and the rest of the DVD’s programs use the standard format with a mix of movie clips, behind the scenes elements, and interviews. We hear from production designer Owen Paterson, supervising art director Hugh Bateup, art director Jules Cook, props department leading hand Kevin McManus, second unit director Kimble Rendall, second unit director of photography Ross Emery, second unit dolly grip Matt Coping, director of photography Bill Pope, supervising key grip Ray Brown, gaffer Reg Garside, and first assistant director James McTeigue. They cover sets and art design, the work of the second unit, Pope’s career and cinematographic choices, electrical issues, and various practical physical work required to shoot.

“Army” is fairly dull as it does little more than wander around the art department’s offices and introduce us to the workers. “World” proves more interesting as it details the nature of second unit photography, though it’s also moderately fluffy and insubstantial. The featurette about Pope goes through some general subjects and also seems sporadically interesting but not great, largely because it lacks great focus. “Masters” reminds me of “Army” in that it acts more as a general introduction than anything else. I like the fact that these featurettes let us get to know more about some less glamorous positions, but they simply aren’t very compelling.

Under the banner of Hel, the next section includes six featurettes. We get “Coat Check” (4:40), “Upsidedown Under” (5:11), “Fast Break” (5:46), “Exploding Man” (4:35), “Gun Club” (2:26) and “The Extras of Club Hel” (4:55). They feature comments from McTeigue, actor Carrie-Anne Moss, supervising stunt coordinator RA Rondell, special effects supervisor Steve Courtley, stunt coordinator Glenn Boswell, camera operator Andrew Rowlands, stunt players Bobby Bowles, Keir Beck, and Alex Kuzelicki, main unit supervisor Robert Heggie, pyro head technician Leo Henry, armorer John Bowring, costume designer Kym Barrett, and unnamed extras.

Most of these examine the creation of the movie’s big nightclub action sequence. The featurettes get into the design of the action along with shooting the stunts, working out the visual effects and explosives, weapons and extras. Some of them - primarily “Break” and “Exploding” - go over general topics with material about other scenes as well. The pieces add up to a decent summary of the segment’s creation.

After this we go to Siege and its five programs: “Dig This” (9:53), “The Siege Action Match” (10:03), “Anatomy of a Shot: Mifune’s Last Stand” (5:07), “Building an APU” (5:06), and “Product of Zion” (9:56). They present statements from Gaeta, Pope, Paterson, Beck, Rondell, Boswell, actors Rachel Blackman, Harold Perrineau, Nona Gaye, Harry Lennix and Nathaniel Lees, producer Joel Silver, visual effects supervisor George Murphy, computer animator Gabe Rountree, MoCap supervisor Demian Gordon, high speed first assistant camera Paul Sanchez, art director Nancy Noblett, conceptual designer Geoffrey Darrow, prop maker foremen Adam Savage, Dave Fogler and Fon Davis, property manufacture supervisor Peter Wyborn, weapons coordinator Robert Galotti, animation supervisor Lyndon J. Barrois, visual effects supervisor John Des Jardin, and pre-vis supervisor Colin Green.

As one might expect from this domain’s title, “Siege” gets into the massive Zion battle sequence. “Match” gives us a comparison feature; it shows the final footage on the bottom while we see relevant behind the scenes bits on the top. “Anatomy” offers narration from Gaeta as he focuses on the execution of this part of the battle. The technical elements dominate, though “Product” offers a nice look at some of the Zion characters. The components combine for a good examination of the sequence and its parts.

Next we find Super Burly Brawl. It presents four featurettes: “The Skybarn” (4:50), “The Crater” (4:55), “The Egg” (2:43), and “Anatomy of a Superpunch” (4:19). We hear from Paterson, Rondell, Cook, Gaeta, McTeigue, martial arts stunt coordinator Chad Stahelski, stunt player Darko Tuskan, stunt performer David Leitch, gag supervisor Rodney Burke, on set technician Jason Grant, and actors Mary Alice, Keanu Reeves and Hugh Weaving.

“Skybarn” offers a cool deconstruction of stunt shots that lets us see how various performers take on different elements. Despite the relative brevity of “Brawl”, it covers the appropriate topics well. “Anatomy” echoes the Gaeta-narrated feature found in the prior section, while the others delve into a mix of subjects. It’s good to get notes from the actors ala “Crater”; we didn’t hear much from them in the Reloaded set, so I’m pleased to find them more frequently in Revolutions. Gaeta’s “Anatomy” is unusually interesting as well, especially when we see test footage created for the shot.

Within New Blue World we discover another five pieces. We see “Geography of Zion” (8:45), “The Ships” (5:43), “Tour of the Neb” (3:16), “Matrix TV” (5:14) and “Logos Fight Expansion” (3:07). These feature notes from Gaeta, Paterson, Lennix, Perrieneau, Darrow, Cook, McTeigue, Pope, art director Charlie Revai, screen graphics design supervisor Tim Richter, screen graphics technical supervisor Tim Ahern, and actors Laurence Fishburne, Ian Bliss and Jada Pinkett-Smith. We get a lot of information about the look and configuration of Zion and the ships. I like these programs because they get into the more creative side of the technical elements. The parts about the nitty-gritty of digital work and whatnot is good, but it gets a little tedious, so it’s nice to learn more about design choices and details.

Finally we end with Aftermath and its four components: “Revolutionary Composition” (8:45), “The Glue” (7:30), “Dane Tracks” (7:21), and “Cause and Effects” (16:10). We discover remarks from Des Jardin, Gaeta, Darrow, Libreri, Murphy, Barrois, composer Don Davis, editor Zach Staenberg, assistant editor Allison Gibbons, visual effects editor Jody Rogers, sound designer Dane Davis, visual effects producer Di Giorgiutti, animator Michael Holzl, effects supervisor Mike Schmitt, technical director/compositor Jon Heckman, animator Greg Gladstone, senior visual effects supervisor Craig Hayes, ESC Entertainment chief technology officer Paul Ryan, art director Tom Hull, supervising animator Tom Gibbons, animator Scott Kravitz, UCAP processor Ken Faiman, compositor Barnaby Robson, animation supervisor Michael F. Gay, animator Kody Sabourin, sequence lead Mohen Leo, and ESC Entertainment technology supervisor George Borshukov. The programs cover the movie’s music, editing, sound effects, and computer generated elements. These serve to summarize post-production elements well. I especially like Dane Davis’s discussion of all the work put into the audio.

So what extras do we lose from the prior set? Quite a lot - too much for me to discuss all the pieces here, so please flip back to the original review to find out more about these elements. The Special Edition doesn’t repeat any of the specific components, though it uses a lot of the same source materials and goes over many of the same topics. It’s not a perfect match, however; for instance, I think the featurette on the “Super Burly Brawl” in the prior DVD better covers creating all the extra Smiths. Nonetheless, this package goes over the film’s creation in a much broader and more satisfying manner, so the minor losses don’t detract much from its success.

Folks with DVD-ROM drives can access a few additional elements. The main attraction comes from a “bonus commentary”. This sends you online. As I write this about 10 days before street date, the link doesn’t work; it just displays some Warner Bros. ads. I’ll update the review when the content actually appears.

In addition, some other links pop up here. We get connections to “The Matrix Online Game”, but it doesn’t launch for a couple of months. Another portal to the Enter the Matrix game just heads to more WB ads. At least we can actually visit the Matrix website; that connection works.

The Matrix Revolutions finishes a once-exciting series on a moderately flat note. I can’t call it a bad film, as it presents far too much good action and excitement to flop. Unfortunately, it lacks the humanity and depth that helped make the first movie such a success. We get a lot of fairly mindless excitement but not much else. Picture and audio seem excellent, and the extras help expand our understanding of the film and the processes used to make it.

Because this version of The Matrix Revolutions can be found only in a 10-disc boxed set called The Ultimate Matrix Collection, I’ll defer my recommendation until I get to the final review of the set; that one will cover DVDs Eight through Ten and summarize the whole package. For now, suffice it to say that this new Matrix Revolutions improves upon the original release due to more substantial supplements.

To rate this film, visit the original review of THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS