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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: The Matrix Reloaded (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED).



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#1 of 119 Herb Kane

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Posted October 09 2003 - 10:28 AM

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The Matrix Reloaded





Studio: Warner Brothers
Year: 2003
Rated: R
Film Length: 138 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Enhanced Widescreen
Audio: DD 5.1
Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
Package: Two Disc Keepcase






The Feature:
Let’s cut to the chase… as someone who considers himself to be a huge fan of movies (and I’ve seen many), I make it a point to watch the entire movie rather than prejudging it from, say, its twenty minute opening sequence or even half way through. Let’s face it; a lot of things can happen during a two hour movie. Now, add to that, I have only ever turned off two movies part way through prior to their completion. Unfortunately, The Matrix was one of the two.

The Matrix Reloaded is the second installment of a three part series brought to us by the Wachowski brothers, and produced by Joel Silver. The soon to be released The Matrix Revolutions will be the third and final installment. Neo, Morpheus and Trinity (starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Ann Moss respectively) are back in this installment in a race to save Zion.

The Machines are burrowing fast through what’s left of the Earth’s surface to destroy Zion and its human inhabitants. Smith continues to clone (at one point looking like a Secret Service convention) and with upgrades, is an even greater foe. To this end, Morpheus and his crew volunteer for a mission to find the one person who holds the “key” to saving Zion before the Machines destroy it. Throughout their search they encounter continual roadblocks and must try to figure out the meaning of certain events in order to further their search.

Throughout the movie, Neo has a dream (or more accurately a vision) that he is about to lose Trinity. Later, he will be faced with the most difficult decision of his life. But hey, this is only part two of a three part series, right…?

Admittedly, after watching The Matrix Reloaded I have an almost strange (albeit rather slight) desire to give the original The Matrix another chance. This movie did have a unique atmosphere which I did enjoy and for the most part found it rather entertaining. The fight scenes (and there were plenty) became tiresome and many of them could have been eliminated.



Video:
In a word; REFERENCE. This is a transfer that is sure to impress. Only the movie is located on disc one as to not compromise the feature in a competition for bit space. Color saturation is perfect as is skin color. Black levels are deep and equally impressive is the stark brisk look of whites. The level of clarity is incredible. On a 96” screen, the slightest hair, fabric and facial detail was amazing. A few scenes appeared to be slightly soft, but it didn’t appear to be transfer related. As one would expect with a new release, the movie was free of any dirt, scratches, video noise and the amount of grain was virtually non existent. I could detect no sign any haloing video enhancements whatsoever. A few scenes looked as though EE was present, but in my opinion, it was light and contrast related. Only the slightest amount of grain is visible.

Warning... a fullscreen version exists.


I think we’ll hear about this video transfer for a long time in terms of its quality. Most impressive.



Audio:
As you can imagine, this is the type of movie that begs for an overly aggressive soundtrack. The movie is absolutely filled with action scenes, chases, fights etc. From the start, I had to increase the volume as it was a slightly quieter mix than usual. While the soundtrack is aggressive, I wouldn’t necessarily call it overly aggressive (with the exception of LFE – see below). It was more subtle than I expected. Not that it is disappointing, just not quite as aggressive as I anticipated. I try to use gunshots (and this movie has plenty of them) as a gauge of the robustness of a track and here felt they were rather anemic. The level of clarity with respect to dialogue was excellent and there were no problems relating to dialnorm.

The front soundstage is hugely expansive and the level of directionality renders pinpoint precision. The music score is never muddied and is always clear.

There is a ton of LFE throughout the entire film. While much of it will give Titan AE and Toy Story 2 a run for their money, I felt as though the mix was almost overly aggressive. While many of us have come to expect a rumble say, during an explosion or crash, it seemed as though, quite often there was rumble just for the sake of rumble. And at times I found it rather exasperating. Make no mistake about it though, when it hits (and it hits often), it hits hard…

Another interesting observation was the use of surrounds. Almost the entire film has rear surround deployment that is tactful and plentiful. However, I found the rear surround mix to be also more subdued than anticipated. I thought the surround mix should have been a few dB’s greater.

I think everybody is going to enjoy the soundtrack on this disc (and so they should). Other than the seemingly gratuitous use of LFE, my criticisms are more as a point of observation than that of disappointment.

A soundtrack that is sure to please.



Special Features:
The second disc in the set contains all of the special features exclusively, thereby avoiding the possibility of any compression issues for the feature. First up on the disc is Preload - Behind The Scenes is a somewhat informative but brief documentary focusing on many aspects of the production such as the extensive wire work used throughout many (no, make that all…) of the fight scenes, computer animation, training techniques etc. Much of it is narrated by producer Joel Silver. Duration: 22:10 Mins.

Up next is On The Set of The Matrix which is nothing more than a tool used for promotional purposes to promote The Animatrix and the corresponding video game. Duration: 5:21 Mins.

The Freeway Chase is a rather detailed and in my opinion, the best of the special features included. Since the highway chase is perhaps the most gripping part of the movie, it’s rather apropos that the feature is every bit as galvanizing. This gives a detailed look at the CGI that was used during the course of this lengthy scene, the driver training involved as well as the highway that was constructed solely for the purpose of the film. Very interesting. Duration: 30:47.

Get Me An Exit - Products… er, advertising. Through a well crafted attempt to explicate the use of many products and their relevance in the film, we are presented with a few marketing plugs… I guess someone has to pay the bills. Duration: 9:48 Mins.

Enter The Matrix. Lists three segments starting with:

The Game - For those interested in games, you’ll find this interesting. It is a detailed feature that describes the making of the video game. Duration: 28:15

The Animatrix – Trailer. Duration: 4:32 Mins.

MTV Awards which is a spoof for the 2003 MTV Movie Awards on the movie featuring Justin Timberlake… ah… never mind! Actually, this was kinda funny. Duration: 9:40 Mins.

Finally there are a few DVD-ROM features. I didn’t spend a lot of time with this but looks as though, there is a link to WB web page, a sign-up for movie promos, as well as additional info about The Animatrix and the video game.

Other than the freeway scene documentary, I wasn’t very impressed with the special features included on this disc. It’s the type of movie that begs to have a plethora of the “making of” features and this showcases merely a few. Although much of the cast & crew are involved (and maybe that’s part of the problem), there just seems to be a lot of superfluous gibberish about nothing, really.



Final Thoughts:
As I have said earlier, it’s evident that the likeability of the reviewed feature is directly proportional to the ease of the review. Having said that, this is one of the hardest reviews I’ve had to do. The whole Matrix thing is just not my cup of tea. While I may not necessarily value or enjoy the franchise I certainly do recognize and moreover, appreciate the fact there are many who do. All in all, I did find it rather entertaining.

Objectively speaking, there is no denying that The Matrix Reloaded is a top notch quality production with a DVD presentation that is of reference quality in both audio and video categories. For fans of this movie and the franchise in general, this should be a very easy decision. Highly Recommended….!!




Release Date: October 14th, 2003
My Top 25 Noirs:

25. 711 Ocean Drive (1950), 24. Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), 23. Desperate (1947), 22. Pushover (1954), 21. The Blue Dahlia (1946), 20. The File on Thelma Jordon (1949), 19. He Ran All the Way (1951), 18. The Asphalt Jungle (1950), 17. The Killing (1956), 16. I Walk Alone (1948),...

#2 of 119 Sergio Martorel

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Posted October 09 2003 - 10:37 AM

Sounds like a cool DVD. Pity they included a damn boring movie among the extras... Posted Image

#3 of 119 Adam_Reiter

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Posted October 09 2003 - 11:08 AM

Wow, that was fast! Posted Image

#4 of 119 Tony-B

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Posted October 09 2003 - 11:31 AM

I'll be getting this one on release day. Thanks for the great review Herb! Posted Image
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#5 of 119 Chris Tedesco

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Posted October 09 2003 - 11:49 AM

I am impressed with the video and audio quality, unfortunately I can't say this for the movie itself.

For me it was the biggest let down this summer.

With that said, I will still see Revolutions.

Good Review.

#6 of 119 Joseph J.D

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Posted October 09 2003 - 01:24 PM

Great review Herb.....as one who enjoyed this film, I will definitely pick this one up first chance I get on Tuesday.Posted Image
Recently watched- After Earth, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo(2009), The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug 3D, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey EE 3D, Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: A New Hope, Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith, Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Beauty and The Beast: Season 3

Currently watching- Planet Earth, The Twilight Zone: Season 1, Cheers: Season 6, True Blood: Season 2, Gatchaman: The Complete Series, Simon & Simon: Season 3
 

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#7 of 119 Dustin Wind

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Posted October 09 2003 - 03:39 PM

I want to choke Keanu everytime i hear his same boring mono-tone voice.

Mabye i'll give this a rent as i also though the first matrix was stupid...but if you thought this one was ok...worth a rent.

#8 of 119 ErichH

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Posted October 09 2003 - 04:27 PM

I like the fact that there is a definate divide on this film.

Some people need that exact taste or they get upset.

Studio Heads are the same way.

I'll buy In.

E

#9 of 119 Steve K.H.

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Posted October 09 2003 - 04:45 PM

One thing about this film... people who were thinking of buying this will be buying it no matter what the reviewers think... it's a cult (I'm hooked)

Anyway... it's great to see the transfer and package is excellent...

Great review (again)!

Bluecruzer...
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#10 of 119 Tony_Ramos

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Posted October 09 2003 - 05:36 PM

I'll be buying this film on release day for the sophistication of the special effects and the inventiveness of the world that it takes place in. Unfortunately, from a storytelling perspective I was disappointed.

#11 of 119 Brendon

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Posted October 09 2003 - 11:36 PM

Good review Herb - given the number of us that adore the Matrix films (so far), it is refreshing to have someone review the film who is of a different opinion to the majority.

Keep up the splendid work!

Brendon

#12 of 119 Chris Atkins

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Posted October 10 2003 - 12:23 AM

I will also be buying this disc, despite the disappointment that RELOADED was to me and my circle of friends. If it hadn't gotten slightly better the second time (from a 2 1/2 star out of 5 to a 3) I wouldn't buy this one at all.

Thanks for the review.

#13 of 119 Daniel Kikin

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Posted October 10 2003 - 12:25 AM

I'm really looking forward to this disc but I'm holding off until I see what Warner Brothers does when Revolutions hits DVD.

#14 of 119 Jack.G

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Posted October 10 2003 - 03:07 AM

Just curious, what was the other movie that you did not finish watching?

#15 of 119 Haden

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Posted October 10 2003 - 04:45 AM

Given that most people will be buying this, I'll probably just borrow it from someone I know so I can see it again right before Matrix 3 comes out next month. I'm personally holding off on getting the sequels until the trilogy box set comes out next year. There's no doubt that WB will make us double-dip, releasing fully-loaded special editions of all 3 films by Christmas 2004.

#16 of 119 Patrick Sun

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Posted October 10 2003 - 05:21 AM

After seeing this film on an IMAX screen with a tremendous sound system, I doubt my puny setup will measure up. Oh well, I could have worse things to worry about...

I did see this film 6 times theatrically, so I guess you could call me a fan of this type of film. I'll be there on Tuesday to pick up these shiny discs of Matrix goodness.
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#17 of 119 John_Berger

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Posted October 10 2003 - 05:38 AM

Quote:
Warning... a fullscreen version exists.
What's up with this? The Wachowski brothers are reported to have REFUSED to allow a pan-and-scan DVD version of the original Matrix. Why did they backpedal on that for this DVD, which is mine by the way?

#18 of 119 Dan Kaplan

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Posted October 10 2003 - 09:28 AM

Quote:
I did see this film 6 times theatrically, so I guess you could call me a fan of this type of film.
Now we know how it made all that money! Posted Image

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#19 of 119 David Fisher

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Posted October 10 2003 - 09:28 AM

I got Reloaded at the Imax, too, and I am afraid to watch this on my puny 27" Sharp. I'll probably rent this once before I go see Revolutions, but will wait for some ultimate Matrix DVD set.

I personally loved the direction that the Wach. Bros. took with the series. I saw it at an early screening with some close friends, and we sat outside in the parking lot for an hour discussing what we just saw. I've seen it several times since, and can not wait to see how they wrap this up.
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#20 of 119 Sergio Martorel

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Posted October 10 2003 - 10:19 AM

Quote:
The Wachowski brothers are reported to have REFUSED to allow a pan-and-scan DVD version of the original Matrix. Why did they backpedal on that for this DVD?


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