Review of Matrix, The
This movie was the summer hit of 1999, and visually The Matrix is downright stunning.
This movie is crammed with special effects galore, many never before seen on film. Many visual effects techniques were designed exclusively for this film, notably ‘the bullet’ sequences, and we will no doubt be seeing more of this kind of work in future Hollywood typical special effects movies. And this is just what this film is.
The DVD transfer is superb in every way and thankfully is 2.35:1 anamorphic. We were testing out DVD Reviewer’s new toy for this screening – a Davis Cinema One Digital Light Processing projector. This new machine arrived on Friday to replace one ageing Sharp LCD projector unit, and also to compliment another current model Sharp projector. The higher resolution offered by anamorphic discs is essential when using 16:9 viewing equipment (TV or projection), and here The Matrix excels.
High contrast levels at the beginning of the film could give the impression the film is a little dark, but this adds to the atmosphere the film generates. Colours are vibrant throughout, and for those people that made recent postings to the DVD newsgroups saying “My copy of The Matrix is green at the beginning. Is my player broken?” – IT’S MEANT TO BE THAT WAY!!! :-)
Sound again is superb. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio must have been designed for movies like this, and for this typical Hollywood action blockbuster, the soundstage is filled. The gunfire echoes round the audience, the explosions engulf you, and the fire scenes envelope you in a blanket of atmospheric ambience.
A comprehensive clutch of extras is provided, one of which includes the now infamous ‘Follow the White Rabbit’ viewing feature. This mode pops up a little rabbit icon on certain scenes. The user can select the icon and the ‘making of’ type documentary snippet is played instead of the scene itself. This technique was the first of its kind to use this DVD branching, and has tripped up several DVD players, the first and possibly the most notorious being the Samsung range.
The ‘making of’ documentaries are there, a full length commentary is provided, as is a music only audio track. You also get filmographies. For those of you with a DVD ROM drive instead of a home stand alone player, you will be treated to the original web site, trailers, screenplays, storyboards and more. It is surprising some of these features are not available to the stand alone DVD players.
This was one of the biggest films of the year. It is also the fastest selling DVD. Compared to the sales of The Matrix, Fox’s Titanic was totally sunk. It is one of the most technically advanced DVDs to be released to date – but this may trip up certain players with buggy, unproven firmware (although many firmware updates are now becoming available). The video and audio quality is real ‘system show off’ stuff.
As to the film itself, well I suppose I am in a minority here when I say that I thought it just the latest Hollywood Special Effects vehicle. Don’t get me wrong here, it is a great way to pass a couple of hours, but I did feel the new groundbreaking visual effects techniques used did tend to put the story on the backburner. One lapse of concentration and you’ve lost it, which is easy to do since you’re being dazzled left, right and centre with the on screen action. The film will warrant two or even three screenings to get the best from it, and I dare say it is one of those movies that will show the audience more and more every time it is seen. I will certainly be watching it again soon (as I never saw it at the cinema) so this review may get amended after that!!