Blogcritics.org (US), April 22, 2009
Blu-Ray Review: The Matrix: 10th Anniversary Edition
by Robert M. Barga
Just ten short years ago, two brothers created the 28th best film of all time (as rated by IMDb readers). The Wachowski brothers, Andy and Larry, had limited film experience, yet they teamed up and put out a movie like the world had never seen before. Utilizing stunning special effects, groundbreaking freeze-motion, and tying into the evolving computer world, this movie caused every person who saw it to pause and ponder. Yes, just ten years ago, The Matrix was born.
The Matrix tells the story of Neo (Keanu Reeves), a small-time employee in a tech firm by day and a hacker by night. During the first few scenes with Reeves, there is the feeling that something is wrong with the world. Neo cannot tell you what it is, but something is amiss — something just isn’t right. Neo meets up with Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) who reveal the truth to him. That is, Neo sees that the world really isn’t a world, but is merely a computer simulation of sorts.
After being removed from the simulation and thrust into the real world, Neo is forced to come to terms with thousands of new things. He can learn kung fu, how to fly a helicopter, and get anything he wants all by being plugged into a machine. He must accept that food does not really taste good, that he will be living a limited life, and that everything he thought he knew was wrong. In short, Neo must restart his life, while at the same time finding out what his true destiny is.
I have always been a big Matrix fan and have loved the movie ever since it first came out. Though I abhor the sequels, the original movie is great, a classic, and a very good watch. The Matrix uses many literary metaphors and stories to tell a compelling tale. From Alice in Wonderland to several Sartre and Nietzsche stories, you can follow the course of illusion and existentialism throughout the movie. The Matrix also nicely ties in various historical and biblical references, as the ship is a type Mark: 3:11 and called Nebuchadnezzar.
Another thing that I like about The Matrix is the symbolism inherent in the movie. From the references already mentioned, to the color palette, this movie makes sure to use any and all symbols that it can. The Matrix talks about right vs. wrong, the concept of what it is to be human, and even the technology struggle depicted in Frankenstein. Even the names of the characters tie into the symbology, as there are three main parts to the puzzle (Trinity), a new man (Neo), and a change to the world (Morpheus). The Wachowski brothers pulled all of the stops to make sure that The Matrix showed the world as it was and is.
Back in 1999, when The Matrix first came out, the movie was used by geeks, audiophiles, and rich people to show off exactly how impressive their surround sound system was. The movie had rich audio and booming bass, which set the standard for all DVDs to come. Though it is no longer the standard, the audio in The Matrix: 10th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray is still exceptionally good, clear, and perfect on my 5.1 sound system. I could hear all of the dialog, had no issues with volume, and even was able to hear the clattering of each shell casing as it hit the ground. Though the audio is no longer cutting edge, it still is up to par and a good mix.
Along the same lines, the visual quality of The Matrix: 10th AE is stunning and superb. The colors, which are hued greener or bluer, depending on if you are in the Matrix or not, are vibrant and bright. The black levels are deep and properly adjusted for HD viewing. Overall, the transfer was well done and the movie looks really good on my HDTV. That said, however, if you are looking for the modern HD look, where you can see pores and sweat, then the transfer will be disappointing. The only downside of the transfer was that the film retained a grainy look; this look, however, actually fits with the mood of the movie so it wasn’t that bad.
Did you know that Carrie-Anne Moss was an actress in a TV show called The Matrix, an unrelated show that was on Canadian television a few years before the movie? Well, I didn’t, but I do now thanks to a 30-some page booklet that came with the movie. You can read biographies, filmographies, production information, trivia, and even an essay about the movie in this book. This is unusual and lacking in many other anniversary or special editions of movies, and it is something that I really enjoyed.
The Matrix: 10th AE comes jammed with tons of extras that are well worth your time. Besides the booklet, the Blu-ray itself has four commentaries, a documentary about the sequels, and the normal slew of deleted and extended scenes. Additionally, there are an amazing 19 featurettes comprising three general categories of the film. All of these extras are worth watching, as they all take you further and further down the rabbit hole. The only downside here is the fact that they are all the same as the DVD, HD-DVD, and Ultimate Collection versions.
Overall, The Matrix: 10th Anniversary Edition is a great movie to add to your shelf. This represents the first time that The Matrix has been put out on its own in the Blu-ray format so you don’t need to waste precious space with the sequels. That said, however, if you already own the Ultimate Collection then you don’t need to get the movie as there is nothing new in this release. The Matrix is perfect for geeks, nerds, and any action junkie, as well as all teens.
Movie: This movie is one of the best ever made. 5/5
Video: The transfer is well done and the colors are good, but it isn’t what you have come to expect from Blu-ray. 4/5
Audio: The sound is amazing and well done, but not nearly as grand as it used to be. 4/5
Extras: You truly can find out how deep the rabbit hole is by watching these extras. 5/5
Overall: There is no excuse for sci-fi lovers not upgrading to the Blu-ray version. 5/5