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