THE MATRIX RELOADED
Review by Michael Jacobson
Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Jada
Pinkett Smith, Gloria Foster
Directors: The Wachowski Brothers
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 138 Minutes
Release Date: October 14, 2003
know you can hear me…I’m not letting go.
LOVE YOU TOO DAMN MUCH.”
upon a time, a bold new vision of science fiction graced the movie screen.
The first part of what would become a trilogy, it instantly captured the
imaginations of filmgoers everywhere, its vocabulary and philosophy became a
part of our culture, and its heroes became icons because they represented the
best of humanity confronting the end product of our darkest sides.
I talking about Star Wars or The Matrix? Both. And
the reason I do is because as an 8 year old child seeing the former for the
first time, I never believed I would ever again see anything that would enthrall
me and fuel my imagination as much as it did...especially
once I got old and cynical. But
sometimes lightning strikes twice. I
guess what I’m trying to say is that I love The Matrix movies, but not
only for their great storytelling, their remarkable advancement in cinematic
technology, their characters and their message.
I love them because they remind me what it was like to be a wide-eyed kid
thinking that ANYTHING was possible in the movies.
a bold new vision. The Matrix
Reloaded furthered it, showing that the “rabbit hole” went even deeper
than we knew. It’s not a sequel,
but a continuing chapter in a trilogy. Therefore,
it doesn’t attempt to repeat the formula of the first (that would be
impossible; the stunning revelations of the world of the Matrix could not have
been duplicated), but turns to the next part of the story while addressing the
concept of man vs. machine made in his image with more thought, deeper
philosophy, and a greater realization of the full scope of the war.
While this review contains no spoilers for Reloaded, it may spoil
the first film for those who haven’t seen it yet.
If you’re one of them, stop reading now and go buy The Matrix and
watch it as soon as possible…you’ve been denied long enough.
the time since we last left the Matrix, more than a quarter million humans have
been freed from it, and the last human city of Zion has been flourishing
underground. Neo (Reeves) has just
about fully come into his own as The One who was prophesized to bring about the
end of the war between man and machine. His
captain Morpheus (Fishburne) is still the greatest believer in that prophecy,
holding fast to faith in a world of technology.
And Trinity (Moss) is still in support of Neo as both warrior and lover.
the triumphant return of humanity may be short lived. When it’s discovered that sentinel machines are digging to
get to Zion with more than enough power to wipe out the free humans, there are
only hours to either prepare for a battle to the death or to follow Morpheus’
belief that Neo can bring about the end of the war as predicted.
Doing so will mean a return to the Oracle (Foster) and facing off against
an old nemesis, Agent Smith (Weaving) who has becoming freed from the mainframe
journey will bring our heroes deeper into the secret of the Matrix, and it’s
something bigger and more sinister than they (or we) could have imagined.
In fact, the secret of the Matrix may come down to the answers of the
most basic but persistent of philosophical questions:
namely, do we have choice in our actions?
Is what we do predetermined? Or
does it all come down to cause and effect, with control as an illusion?
this point, if you haven’t seen the movie, you’re probably thinking man,
that sounds like heady, heavy handed material for science fiction or action.
It’s part of what makes the film so great, though.
Yes, you could argue that the thinking process is somewhat basic and
superficial, but when was the last time a movie like this dared to be about
anything substantial at all?
the other part of what makes the film so great is the sheer adrenaline pumping
ecstasy of it. There is plenty of
action to go with the mental stimuli, which can be reduced down to three major
sequences that are possibly the finest and most exhilarating ever constructed
for a film. I was fortunate enough
to see this movie in a packed house at a sneak preview, and I’ve never heard
anything in my life to compare with the sounds of the audience reaction to these
scenes. It was like a rising chorus
of unintelligible noise caused by a large crowd of individuals who were so
thrilled by what they saw that they didn’t even realize their breath was
vibrating their vocal cords. There
were explosions of cheers, strangers high-fiving one another, and a roar of
angst and delight as the film ended on a sharp cliffhanger, making way for the
final installment Revolutions.
the first film utilized bold new technology to create visuals never before seen
in action or science fiction (and it certainly did, scoring a well-deserved
Oscar for its efforts), then the second takes it even further.
The “bullet-time” concept is explored even more, as we follow
characters in slow motion as they dive through high windows and fall, dodge
bullets, fly and fight, all with the technology of bringing the impossibly fast
action down to a digestible speed while simultaneously giving us all angles at
once. It’s a technology that’s
been copied and spoofed to death, but never equaled nor surpassed until The
critics who got the entire picture lauded it with praise.
Those who weren’t plugged in (no pun intended) were sometimes cold and
cruel in their short-sighted reviews. I
don’t wish to insult any of my brethren in criticism, but it was obvious from
reading the negative reviews that something was very wrong with the authors’
points of view. Some seemed as though they hadn’t seen the first movie (a
tragic mistake; you’ll never follow the second film without having seen the
first), others found the philosophy and faith questions more than they wanted to
deal with in a movie of this nature. One
of our local critics here in Jacksonville actually slammed the film saying it
wasn’t “the least bit scary”. Scary?
What movie did he think he was going to see?
seen the film four times already at the time of this writing, and having
discussed it over and over with friends and colleagues who were equally
enthusiastic, I can only say that I don’t understand how anyone could dismiss
this movie, for three major reasons: one,
it’s a genuine story continuation, not a rehashing like so many sequels we get
nowadays. Two, it combines special
effects and storytelling to create a completely believable, realized, and
engrossing science fiction world that captures viewers’ imaginations like no
film since the Star Wars ones. And
three, it boasts some of the most exhilarating action of any motion picture
I’ve ever seen.
a nutshell, The Matrix Reloaded, like its predecessor, does more than
walk a fine line between science fiction and action. Much more…it’s both the year’s best science fiction and
the year’s best action film in one package.
Keanu would say, whoa…this anamorphic transfer from Warner Bros. is a beauty
from start to finish. Considering the amount of visual information, the
level of detail, and the intense constancy of the action, I’d wager that this
movie was a hard one to commit to disc. The
studio did right by putting all the features on a second disc and reserving the
maximum amount of space for the film’s presentation, thus minimizing
compression. The Wachowskis’ distinct look is wonderfully replicated,
with sharp images, bold coloring schemes and integrity in both well-lit and
darker scenes. This is what DVD is
5.1 soundtrack is strong, busy, and dynamic, with an almost constant signal to
the subwoofer to keep the futuristic world humming. The lengthy action sequences keep all channels open and
working overtime so that you’re in the center of the action, and the stylized
science fiction aspect of the action makes the most of multi-layered sound
effects editing. Dialogue is clean
and clear, even though such scenes are often quiet and contemplative…they make
for a formidable comparison to the bolder moments.
guess it should be said that the features are as good as can be hoped for given
the Wachowski’s lack of participation…noted for not doing interviews or
promotions, they pretty much let others do the talking here.
the extras are on the second disc, and they start with “Preload”, which
features plenty of cast and crew interviews and lots of behind the scenes looks
at the training, design and special effects of the film.
For an even bigger look at the film’s most complex and thrilling scene,
there is a “How They Did It” featurette on the freeway chase.
“The Matrix Unfolds” looks at how the film has crossed over into
sequels, anime, and a popular video game, while “Get Me an Exit” shows how
the picture made its way into advertising and products (including the cell
phones used in the film!).
is a look at the video game “Enter the Matrix”, which was pretty much
written as though it were a film in and of itself, a trailer preview for The
Animatrix, and web links. The
finale will tickle your funny bone…a Reloaded spoof crafted for the MTV
Movie Awards that features Justin Timberlake and Seann William Scott, plus some
surprise cameos. It’s absolutely