The Matrix (1999)
A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.
Country United States
Genre Action, Sci-Fi
- Reviews & Recommendations
- Technical Specs
- Trivia & Quotes
- Video Gallery
- Photo Gallery
BBC - Films - review - The Matrix: Collector's Edition DVD
| BBCi - Films | www.bbc.co.uk | English
Never far from the top 50 selling DVDs since launch back in 1999, "The Matrix" DVD still impresses today, especially when Warner Bros is kind enough to re-release it along with another disc packed with even more features. Money for old rope? Actually no, and if you love the movie, you'll find it hard to resist this new package.
Picture Just as good as it ever was. Clear, sharp and filled with the moody dark hues of the nightmarish world of the Matrix; this is a stunning transfer.
Sound The speakers bristle to the constantly busy 5.1 sound mix that accompanies the movie. Never afraid to make full use of the subwoofer, this is exciting stuff. Disc one, with "The Matrix Revisited" is also in 5.1, although more front speaker focused.
The Matrix Revisited (on Disc One) You'd really better like this movie, because this 123-minute documentary is all about "The Matrix". It's long, but good chaptering breaks it down into separate segments that you can pick and choose from. Absolutely every angle of the production is covered, from the impressively detailed storyboards to regular gasps from producer Joel Silver about the feats they achieved on the movie. There are a good few hints as to how the two sequels will tun out, along with some sneak behind-the-scenes footage of them in production.
What is to Come? (on Disc One) Multi-million dollar box office revenues for the sequels? Probably, but this is not a featurette where Joel Silver works out what he'll be able to buy when the follow-up hits the screen. Rather, there's some teaser footage of the cast working on new moves.
What is Animatrix? (on Disc One) Actually it's some rather cool Japanese artwork for the website, as this featurette reveals.
What is thematrix.com? (on Disc One) A website? Well, as Joel Silver explains, it's a "revolutionary filmsite that blows the competition out of the water". As the following featurette reveals, it's well used.
The True Followers (on Disc One) Yikes! Beautiful people who spend their lives chained to computers explain the appeal of the website, the movie, but sadly don't reveal if over-exposure to the film results in their fashion choices.
The Dance of the Master (on Disc One) Yuen Wo Ping's blocking tapes as he trains up assorted cast members into lethal fighting machines.
The Wet Wall and Bathroom Fight (on Disc One) Remember that mad fighting bit in the wall of a building? Here it is deconstructed from a behind-the-scenes angle.
The Movie (on Disc Two) In amongst all the hype, it's nice to know that they've not forgotten to include the movie. This disc is in essence the same as the original 1999 release, but with minor changes to the DVD-ROM website content.
HBO First Look (on Disc Two) Over 20 minutes of interviews and behind-the-scenes material. There is some footage here that's not in "The Matrix" Revisited, and it ends with a look at the Bullet Time shooting process (that's further expanded in the next featurette).
What is Bullet Time? (on Disc Two) Choose the 'red pill' option and this little featurette pops up. It's fascinating stuff, though, as the ingenious Bullet Time process, and the 122 cameras that make it work, are revealed.
Follow the White Rabbit (on Disc Two) This is still a cool feature that's not been used much on other DVDs. Every time a white rabbit pops up on screen when you're watching the movie, you press it to access a short featurette. It will show you behind-the-scenes footage of the scene in question, before then returning you to the movie. These include a white and cold-looking Keanu covered in goo.
DVD ROM Features (on Disc Two) The original website, genre essays, interactive quiz, screenplay, storyboards, access to the new website, plus chatrooms and message boards.
Additional Features (on Disc Two) Cast and crew biographies and filmographies.
Ratio: 2.35:1 (anamorphic)
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Extra Features: Scene selection, animated menus, multiple languages and subtitles, and English captions for the hearing impaired.
This DVD was reviewed on a JVC XV-S57 DVD player.
BBC - Films - review - The Matrix
| BBCi - Films | www.bbc.co.uk | English
"No one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself." says Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), the earnest, elegant John the Baptist figure in the Wachowski brothers' allegorical science fiction masterpiece. Well, we'll give it a shot.
He's talking to Neo (Keanu Reeves), a blank-faced computer whizz who's about to go through the looking glass - out of the late 20th century world as he knows it, into the real, post-apocalyptic "desert of the real".
It's a reality where robots rule the planet and keep humans plugged into a virtual reality matrix, living in a dream world, while their energy fuels the machines.
Morpheus thinks Neo is The One, the messiah figure who will destroy the Matrix and resurrect humanity. Fellow freedom fighter Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) is convinced too. But Neo isn't certain, and will have to face the pernicious, powerful, Matrix meanie Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) to find out.
At first viewing, the action sequences stun, but there's more to this than the groundbreaking "bullet time" photography, or the adolescent allure of flash, black clothes and big, black guns.
Sure, "The Matrix" is almost untenably cool, but beneath the sheen there's substance. The story's a potent mix of buddhism, Greek mythology, and - predominantly - the Christian gospel.
The image of a superficial existence, where ignorant people thrive by blocking out a troublesome reality, is potent for a Western society drowning in wealth while the rest of the world suffers.
The performances, too, wow. Admittedly Reeves is gifted the perfect role - he has to look good while hitting things - but Moss is charismatic, clever and sexy, while Fishburne is monumental.
Nestling next to "The Terminator" and "Metropolis", this is one the finest sci-fi flicks ever made.
What is "The Matrix"? It's genius. And yes, we admit, you do have to see it for yourself.
The next instalment, "The Matrix Reloaded", opens in UK cinemas on Wednesday 21st May 2003.
BBC - Movies - review - The Ultimate Matrix DVD Box Set
| BBCi - Films | www.bbc.co.uk | English
Mixing science and philosophy with heart-pounding action, The Matrix trilogy is a landmark in modern filmmaking. Charting a human revolt against a world order ruled by artificial intelligence, this fable of 'free thinking' was the brainchild of the enigmatic directing duo the Wachowski brothers. Not only did they push the boundaries of visual effects with the invention of 'bullet time', but they also made professional plank Keanu Reeves one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood. It prompts the question: is this the real world, or just a crazy simulation?
The Red Pill
Matrix fans could lose themselves forever in the digital wonder world that is The Ultimate Matrix - which includes all nine shorts in The Animatrix series. Ten discs come loaded with behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, music and artwork with every major car chase and kung-fu fight in the trilogy painstakingly dissected across nearly 100 'making of' featurettes.
Anatomy Of A Super Punch is a prime example, focussing on a single second of film where Neo (Reeves) clocks Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) with atomic force. Capturing this fleeting moment is a vastly complicated process involving multiple storyboards, motion-capture technology, high-powered air jets (to ripple Weaving's skin), clay sculptures and CG wizardry. Elsewhere you can take tours of key sets like The Nebuchadnezzar, get a breakdown of 'bullet time' and watch video diaries by members of cast and crew.
Follow The Rabbit
For a broader view of the four years it took to bring Reloaded and Revolutions to the screen, check out The Burly Man Chronicles. It's a feature-length documentary that affords rare access to the Wachowskis as they chew over major set pieces and ostentatious stunt sequences. Among the reams of behind-the-scenes footage, catch Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss and Laurence Fishburne in kung-fu training, or the preparation and execution of the epic car chase from Reloaded. Video cameras also put you in the middle of these breathtaking action sequences.
While you watch, 'The White Rabbit' appears intermittently to lead you down a deeper hole where you can meet stunt co-ordinators, visual effects supervisors and costume designers as they go about their daily business. It's an exhaustive journey, tracing a shoot that lasted 276 days across two continents. Spending the bulk of production against a green screen, Keanu looks dazed most of the time (but hey, what's new?), and after 200 days admits he's not enjoying it anymore. "I need flesh and blood," he says, "You've got to give it some life but how do you do it?" Um, acting lessons perhaps?
Free Your Mind
Philosophy scholars, science fiction scribes, scientists, and geeks ponder the meaning of The Matrix in two feature-length documentaries. It may sound rather dry, but both are as entertaining as they are utterly baffling. "How do we know what we know and why do we think we know it if what is known is not a known?" is just one of the questions raised here and addressed by what one of the interviewees dubs, "The ultimate geek movie."
Sadly The Wachowski's do not offer any commentaries, because, as they explain in a wordy introductory statement, the trilogy espouses the idea of free thought so "it felt hypocritical to talk publicly about them". Instead they recruited three critics (who hated the sequels) and a couple of philosophers to talk you through the trilogy - the idea being to stretch your mind between two differing perspectives. Unfortunately, the exercise isn't entirely successful since the critics seem to spend most the time snoozing and laughing at their own jokes, while the philosophers chase their tails in unending spirals of profound contemplation. It's the one disparity in an otherwise extravagant package of extras.
Storyboards, music from the soundtrack, galleries of concept art and a visually arresting effects montage (with thumping music) complements the plethora of 'making of' featurettes and documentaries. Everything you ever wanted to know about The Matrix is covered here with rare attention to detail, but be warned: once you're plugged in, you may never get out.
Written introduction by The Wachowski brothers
Audio commentaries for three films by critics Todd McCarthy, John Powers, and David Thomson
Audio commentaries for three films by philosophers Dr Cornel West and Ken Wilbur
17 'making of' featurettes on The Matrix
41 audio tracks of music from The Matrix
21 'making of' featurettes on The Matrix Reloaded
23 extra scenes shot for Enter The Matrix video game
28 'making of' featurettes on The Matrix Revolutions
Nine short films from The Animatrix with individual director's commentaries
Seven 'making of' featurettes on The Animatrix films
Scrolls To The Screen: The History And Culture Of Anime featurette
Promo reel for Enter The Matrix
Return To Source: Philosophy & The Matrix feature documentary
The Hard Problem: The Science Behind The Fiction feature documentary
The Burly Man Chronicles feature documentary (on the making of Revolutions and Reloaded)
21 White Rabbit featurettes
Four concept art galleries (characters, ships, machines, sets)
Trailers, TV spots and two music videos
Rave Reel (visual effects gallery with music)
Promo reel for The Matrix Online game
Matrix, The | Reelviews Movie Reviews
James Berardinelli | ReelViews | www.reelviews.net | English
Matrix, The (United States, 1999)
There's no sophomore jinx for the Wachowski Brothers. Andy and Larry, a pair of obviously talented film makers, have returned to theaters with The Matrix, a science fiction thriller that is every bit the match of their debut effort, Bound, for tension, excitement, and intelligence. In an era when movie scripts (especially those pigeonholed into the science fiction genre) are becoming increasingly more stupid and special effects reliant, the Wachowskis prove that style and substance do not have to be mutually exclusive.
I loved The Matrix, and only a few minor contrivances associated with the climax caused the film to miss a four-star rating. The movie is kinetic, atmospheric, visually stunning, and mind-bending. It toys with the boundaries between reality and fantasy in unique and interesting ways. In its approach and content, it reminded me of last year's vastly underrated Dark City. There's also a synergy with two movies due to be released within the next month: David Cronenberg's eXistenZ and Alejandro Amenabar's Open Your Eyes. The Matrix is undeniably science fiction, but, unlike most pictures claiming that association, it never falls into the boring, expected patterns of space battles and laser gun shoot-outs. Instead, it ventures into territory that, while not virgin, is sufficiently interesting to provide an involving, invigorating backdrop.
Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) is leading a double life. To most people, he's a hard-working computer programmer who holds down a nine-to-five job for a major software corporation. But, in the privacy of his home, he's a hacker named Neo who is "guilty of virtually every computer crime [there's] a law for." Neo is dissatisfied with his existence, and, while he's groping for a meaning to it, he is contacted by a mysterious computer presence known as Morpheus. "Wake up Neo," a printout on his monitor screen reads. "The Matrix has you. Follow the white rabbit." And so begins an amazing odyssey for both Neo and the audience.
It turns out that Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) is the captain of a small space ship, and he believes that Neo is a messianic figure. When the two finally meet, Morpheus explains to Neo that all is not as it seems. The reality he is used to is a fabrication, the product of a sinister race of intelligent machines that use human beings as power supplies, to be discarded at will. Neo is dubious, and Morpheus sets out to show him the truth. Soon, he is learning how to manipulate the Matrix: a computer-generated dreamworld built by the machines to control human minds. But danger lurks ahead for Morpheus and his small band of followers. The goal of the machines is to eliminate all free humans, and their most powerful weapons, the Sentient Agents (who look like Men in Black), are closing in. Led by Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), their goal is to capture Morpheus and pry the secrets from his brain.
There's much more to The Matrix than this, but to explain further would be to reveal plot twists better discovered through viewing. Although the film frequently toys with the blurred line between grim reality and computer-generated fantasy, it rarely leaves the viewer completely confused (except, perhaps, at the very beginning). The Wachowskis have carefully structured the story in such a way that the audience is capable of following the action and understanding what's going on even when all of the secrets have not been revealed. Nevertheless, because The Matrix is intelligent, it will defeat those unwilling to invest some intellectual participation. The payoff is worth the effort.
Stylistically, The Matrix is much like Bound. Both films are visually stunning, with images painstakingly constructed and action sequences choreographed to excite the eye and quicken the pulse. The Wachowskis use a varied pallette that includes shadows, slow motion, quick cuts, and offbeat humor to paint a unique portrait. Like in Dark City, theirs is a grim world, where darkness and gloom seemingly always hold sway. Everything from the set design to the costumes (lots of black, lots of sunglasses) is intended to contribute to an overall look. When it comes to shoot-outs, the Wachowskis show that John Woo isn't the only director capable of doing interesting things with familiar devices. The shots of Keanu Reeves streaking down a hall with guns blazing all around him and the air thick with shattered bits of concrete is only one of many snapshots that lingers in the mind's eye long after they have vanished from the screen. The special effects, which are not as numerous as those in many science fiction pieces, are flawless.
Keanu Reeves is not generally regarded as a strong actor, but, given the right part - one that doesn't demand much subtlety or emoting - he can be effective. His role as Neo fits the criteria. The Matrix needs a leading man who can look good, act cool, and not stumble over his dialogue, and Reeves is three for three. It's easily his best work since Speed, where the same kinds of demands were made of him. For more nuanced performances, the Wachowskis rely on the rest of the cast: the always excellent Laurence Fishburne, brilliant character actor Joe Pantoliano (who appeared in Bound), and Carrie-Anne Moss, who looks great in black leather. Aussie Hugo Weaving (Proof) brings the perfect mix of dry wit and menace to his role as the head Man in Black.
The Matrix offers a little something for everyone. The die-hard science fiction fan will discover a plot that mixes and matches both new and old conventions of the genre in a compelling fashion. Action aficionados will find that there's no shortage of electric excitement, whether it's in the form of hand-to-hand kung fu-type fights or shoot-outs with seemingly limitless ammunition. There's also betrayal, a little romance, some humor, and a moral dilemma or two, all wrapped into a well-produced package. As I stated earlier, the way in which the Wachowskis choose to resolve everything seems slightly contrived, but, in the overall scheme of things, that's a small price to pay for one of the most enjoyable science fiction thrillers to reach the screen in months.
The Matrix Movie Review & Film Summary (1999) | Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert | rogerebert.com | www.rogerebert.com | English
"The Matrix" is a visually dazzling cyberadventure, full of kinetic excitement, but it retreats to formula just when it's getting interesting. It's kind of a letdown when a movie begins by redefining the nature of reality, and ends with a shoot-out. We want a leap of the imagination, not one of those obligatory climaxes with automatic weapons fire.
I've seen dozens if not hundreds of these exercises in violence, which recycle the same tired ideas: Bad guys fire thousands of rounds, but are unable to hit the good guy. Then it's down to the final showdown between good and evil--a martial arts battle in which the good guy gets pounded until he's almost dead, before he finds the inner will to fight back. Been there, seen that (although rarely done this well).
Too bad, because the set-up is intriguing. "The Matrix" recycles the premises of "Dark City" and "Strange Days," turns up the heat and the volume, and borrows the gravity-defying choreography of Hong Kong action movies. It's fun, but it could have been more. The directors are Larry and Andy Wachowski, who know how to make movies (their first film, "Bound," made my 10 best list in 1996). Here, with a big budget and veteran action producer Joel Silver, they've played it safer; there's nothing wrong with going for the Friday night action market, but you can aim higher and still do business.
Warning; spoilers ahead. The plot involves Neo (Keanu Reeves), a mild-mannered software author by day, a feared hacker by night. He's recruited by a cell of cyber-rebels, led by the profound Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and the leather-clad warrior Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss). They've made a fundamental discovery about the world: It doesn't exist. It's actually a form of Virtual Reality, designed to lull us into lives of blind obedience to the "system." We obediently go to our crummy jobs every day, little realizing, as Morpheus tells Neo, that "Matrix is the wool that has been pulled over your eyes--that you are a slave." The rebels want to crack the framework that holds the Matrix in place, and free mankind. Morpheus believes Neo is the Messianic "One" who can lead this rebellion, which requires mind power as much as physical strength. Arrayed against them are the Agents, who look like Blues Brothers. The movie's battles take place in Virtual Reality; the heroes' minds are plugged into the combat. (You can still get killed, though: "The body cannot live without the mind"). "Jacking in" like this was a concept in "Strange Days" and has also been suggested in novels by William Gibson ("Idoru") and others. The notion that the world is an artificial construction, designed by outsiders to deceive and use humans, is straight out of "Dark City." Both of those movies, however, explored their implications as the best science fiction often does. "Dark City" was fascinated by the Strangers who had a poignant dilemma: They were dying aliens who hoped to learn from human methods of adaptation and survival.
In "Matrix," on the other hand, there aren't flesh-and-blood creatures behind the illusion--only a computer program that can think, and learn. The Agents function primarily as opponents in a high-stakes computer game. The movie offers no clear explanation of why the Matrix-making program went to all that trouble. Of course, for a program, running is its own reward--but an intelligent program might bring terrifying logic to its decisions.
Both "Dark City" and "Strange Days" offered intriguing motivations for villainy. "Matrix" is more like a superhero comic book in which the fate of the world comes down to a titanic fist-fight between the designated representatives of good and evil. It's cruel, really, to put tantalizing ideas on the table and then ask the audience to be satisfied with a shoot-out and a martial arts duel. Let's assume Neo wins. What happens then to the billions who have just been "unplugged" from the Matrix? Do they still have jobs? Homes? Identities? All we get is an enigmatic voice-over exhortation at the movie's end. The paradox is that the Matrix world apparently resembles in every respect the pre-Matrix world. (I am reminded of the animated kid's film "Doug's 1st Movie," which has a VR experience in which everything is exactly like in real life, except more expensive.) Still, I must not ignore the movie's virtues. It's great-looking, both in its design and in the kinetic energy that powers it. It uses flawlessly integrated special effects and animation to visualize regions of cyberspace. It creates fearsome creatures, including mechanical octopi. It morphs bodies with the abandon of "Terminator II." It uses f/x to allow Neo and Trinity to run horizontally on walls, and hang in the air long enough to deliver karate kicks. It has leaps through space, thrilling sequences involving fights on rooftops, helicopter rescues and battles over mind control.
And it has performances that find the right notes. Keanu Reeves goes for the impassive Harrison Ford approach, "acting" as little as possible. I suppose that's the right idea. Laurence Fishburne finds a balance between action hero and Zen master. Carrie-Anne Moss, as Trinity, has a sensational title sequence, before the movie recalls that she's a woman and shuttles her into support mode. Hugo Weaving, as the chief Agent, uses a flat, menacing tone that reminded me of Tommy Lee Jones in passive-aggressive overdrive. There's a well-acted scene involving Gloria Foster as the Oracle, who like all Oracles is maddeningly enigmatic.
"The Matrix" did not bore me. It interested me so much, indeed, that I wanted to be challenged even more. I wanted it to follow its material to audacious conclusions, to arrive not simply at victory, but at revelation. I wanted an ending that was transformational, like "Dark City's," and not one that simply throws us a sensational action sequence. I wanted, in short, a Third Act.