Reviewed October 7th, 2003 by Dan Jones
“Some of my answers you will understand, and some of them you will not. Concordantly, while your first question may be the most pertinent, you may or may not realize it is also the most irrelevant.”
The Matrix Reloaded marks the second chapter in the Matrix trilogy, with Revolutions coming this November. Reloaded brought us far further down the proverbial rabbit hole then did its predecessor, negating some of which we thought to be true and adding far more questions then one can ever hope to answer without seeing the finale.
Reloaded picks up soon after the original ends. It is soon found out, through the sacrifice of the crew of the Osiris, that the machines are burrowing towards Zion, the central point of the human resistance. Because of this, all of Zion begins to build their offensive to these machines, though Morpheus feels there is another way to defeat the machines, specifically through Neo. After some resistance he is allowed to take his crew out to where they can enter into the Matrix so Neo can speak with The Oracle for guidance on what to do next.
We also get an early meeting from the long lost Agent Smith, thought to be destroyed in the first film. It seems that Smith has unhooked himself from the Matrix in some way, refusing to be deleted and as a result, now functioning on his own. It also seems he has found a way to replicate himself by loading himself into the participants of the system, either people or other agents. Primarily, he’s looking for his long-long pal: Mr. Anderson.
For whatever reason Reloaded did not fare as well with fans and critics alike as did its predecessor. I’ve heard many reasons for this, the most common being that the film was boring, or scenes went on too long, like the rave scene in Zion. Personally, for me, the original Matrix was more then just a sci-fi action film; it was a film that had a far deeper theological underlying then that. Therefore, I found that perusing this aspect of the trilogy to greater length in Reloaded was very interesting. As for the Zion rave scene, I found it to be an important addition to the film. This scene represents the difference between the human race and the machines burrowing towards them. Zion is ready to fight to its death, but they do not lose their qualities that make them human. Thusly, this rave marks their celebration of what they have done, and what they will need to do to continue.
I won’t go into anymore detail of the film as it can get pretty convoluted to put into words and it might ruin some of the surprises for those who have yet to see it. Suffice it to say that Reloaded is an excellent bridge from the original to the upcoming finale. The action sequences are incredibly choreographed and shot, and the story is as intriguing as ever.
Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen Reloaded looks about as close to reference quality as the film can get. Colors look accurate for the film, considering the green hue that goes along with all Matrix films, while darks and blacks are rich while sustaining high detail. The picture is very detailed with no noticeable edge enhancement problems, nor digital compression problems. Overall this is an excellent transfer, not surprisingly considering that the Matrix is undoubtedly Warner’s crown jewel for DVD.
On the audio side we are given an excellent 5.1 Dolby Digital mix with outstanding ambient surround use and 360-degree imaging. This mix seems to use the surrounds constantly, from even the most ambient creeks to powerful action sequences. Dynamic range and clarity is excellent throughout. The LFE channel is powerful and pronounced when needed, sounding especially good in the aforementioned rave scene. Overall this is an excellent mix with great surround activity.
Also included is a 5.1 French mix and English, French and Spanish subtitles.
As for the extras, Warner has provided us with a two-disc feature, with disc two housing all of the extras besides the films theatrical trailer in anamorphic widescreen. So, let’s check out disc two.
The first glaring omission from this set is an audio commentary. Why there isn’t one here is anyone’s guess.
“Preload” gives us twenty-two minutes of behind the scenes featurette with cast and crew, mostly dealing with the films production. This featurettes is actually surprisingly detailed for its runtime, ranging from how the stunts were done, fight training, and set design. “Matrix Unfolds” is a fairly small five-minute look at how popular the Matrix has become and how it has influenced the arts.
“Freeway Chase” is probably the most interesting featurette on the disc, covering this extremely expensive and detailed scene, from its storyboard starts all the way to final cut. This freeway chase was far more elaborate then any such scene ever done, with the filmmakers creating the highway from scratch, allowing just about anything they wanted to be possible. This featurette runs about thirty minutes and is definitely worth a watch, especially for budding filmmakers.
“Get Me an Exit” runs nine minutes and is more fluff, covering the many of the Matrix product tie-ins. “Enter the Matrix” comes in at 28 minutes long and deals with the much-hyped videogame that parallels the film, albeit through different characters. “MTV Movie Awards” is a 9 and a half minute MTV comedy sketch with Justin Timberlake and Sean William Scott (with cameo by Will Ferrell) that puts the actors into the film in typical VMA fashion.
Rounding out the extras is a trailer for The Animatrix (read our review here), which if you’re a fan of the Matrix series you should really have by now.
Overall, the Matrix Reloaded is a very solid sequel to a hard to beat original film. The already complex story gets overhauled, while we get a lot more to chew on before Revolutions hits theaters this November. This two-disc DVD set provides us with reference quality audio and video, as well as a decent selection of extras. Reloaded is highly recommended. If you own a DVD player (and you do) pick up this release.
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