The Matrix

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Details At A Glance

Category Science Fiction/Action Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - Dolby Digital City
Year Released 1999 Commentary Tracks Yes, 2
1 - John Gaeta (Visual Effects Supervisor), Zach Staenberg (Editor), Carrie-Anne Moss (Actor)
2 - Isolated Music Score plus Commentary by Don Davies (Composer)
Running Time 131:20 minutes Other Extras Menu Audio & Animation
Cast & Crew Biographies
Featurette-What Is The Concept (11:24)
Featurette-What Is Bullet-Time (6:14)
Featurette-Making Of (25:55)
Featurette-Follow The White Rabbit (22:51)
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (59:12)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 4 Director Larry Wachowski
Andy Wachowski

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Keanu Reeves
Laurence Fishburne
Carrie-Anne Moss
Hugo Weaving
Joe Pantoliano
RRP $34.95 Music Don Davies

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Isolated Music Score plus Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    IN SHORT: Whoa!

    It's very hard to give a synopsis of The Matrix without giving away significant amounts of the plot. As Morpheus says, "No one can tell you what The Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself". The Matrix is a visionary movie, painting an intriguing vision of the future. It is a full-on sensory explosion, grabbing its audience from the very start and never letting go. It is heavily reliant on special effects, but unlike most special-effects driven movies, the story does not take a back seat to the special effects. Quite the contrary, in fact. The special effects help to tell the story in a very unique way.

    Neo (Keanu Reeves), is a computer hacker. He senses that something is not quite right, but he is not sure exactly what it is that is wrong. Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) intend to show Neo exactly what the problem is, once he takes the red pill.

Transfer Quality

Technical Note

    I reviewed this DVD primarily on a Toshiba 2109 DVD player, and briefly compared a sequence from Chapter 5 (Neo being warned by his boss not to be late again) on both a Pioneer DV-505 and a Pioneer DV-525.


    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced and is exemplary in nature.

    The transfer is generally very clear and very sharp throughout. A few scenes show some minor grain in the background, and the aforementioned scene in Chapter 5 is a little washed out, but generally the picture sharpness is excellent. Shadow detail is very good, though it does fall just short of the very best transfers that I have seen. There is no low level noise.

    The colours were accurately rendered according to the directors' wishes. The Matrix is very much lacking in blue, which gives these scenes a strong green tint about them. In direct contrast to this colour scheme, the scenes aboard the Nebuchadnezzar are strongly blue-tinted.

    There were no MPEG artefacts seen. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some minor moiré effects on some of the zoom-in sequences into TV monitors, and some trivial aliasing here and there. Film artefacts were very few and very far between.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change occurring during a fade-to-black at 59:12, between Chapters 18 and 19. It is not intrusive at all, and very well placed.


    This soundtrack is of reference quality.

    There are three audio tracks on this DVD; the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, an English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack and an Isolated Music Score plus Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack. I listened to all three soundtracks.

    The dialogue was basically completely clear and easy to understand at all times. The only sequence where I had to strain to understand the dialogue was the scene where Trinity meets Neo for the first time at the rave club.

    Audio sync was not a problem at all with the Toshiba 2109 DVD player. As a test, I then compared a selected passage from Chapter 5 on both a Pioneer DV-525 and a Pioneer DV-505. On the DV-505, the sync was so far out as to make the passage all but unwatchable. On the DV-525, the sync was still noticeably out, but considerably better than on the DV-505.

    The musical score by Don Davies is exemplary in creating the appropriate atmosphere and feel for the movie. It is a very dramatic and strident score, ideally mated to the on-screen action.

    The surround channels were used extremely aggressively by this soundtrack, with frequent special effects finding their way into all sorts of positions in the soundfield. It is a fully enveloping soundtrack - one that grabs you by the coattails and drags you into the movie.

    The subwoofer was used very heavily by the soundtrack, but despite being used heavily, it was always used appropriately. It never called attention to itself, but it accentuated the on-screen action superbly when it was used.


    I say again - Whoa! There is an enormous collection of extras on this disc, with a good 10 hours worth of additional material included.

    [Addendum 24th November 1999: There is a minor packaging error. The packaging states that the scene selections are animated. They are not - the animation was deleted at the last moment to leave sufficient room for the other extras.]


    The menu design is superb, with a movie-themed segue into the actual main menu which features both animation and audio. One thing about the menu audio on this menu that is particularly notable is the fact that the level of the Dolby Digital 2.0 audio matches the subsequent level of the Dolby Digital 5.1 movie soundtrack, rather than being too loud as is often the case.

Cast & Crew Biographies

Featurette - What Is The Concept (11:24)

Featurette - What Is Bullet-Time (6:14)

    These featurettes are the closest to "Easter Eggs" that I have yet seen on a Region 4 DVD. They are accessible by finding and selecting the red pills which are slightly hidden within the menu structure.

Audio Commentary - John Gaeta (Visual Effects Supervisor), Zach Staenberg (Editor), Carrie-Anne Moss (Actor)

    John Gaeta is mixed into the Left speaker, Zach Staenberg is mixed into the Right speaker and Carrie-Anne Moss is mixed into the center speaker. This is only a fair commentary. Whilst there are some very good insights into the movie-making process, there are also quite large periods of silence. Carrie-Anne Moss has very little to say except at the start and at the end of the movie.

Isolated Musical Score and Commentary - Don Davies (Composer)

    This track is very much worth a listen. In many ways it is actually more interesting than the first Audio Commentary track as Don Davies speaks about more than just the music, and touches on many aspects of the filmmaking process. It is also fascinating to watch the movie without the dialogue, and see just how much of a contribution the music makes to the overall mood of the movie.

Featurette-Making Of (25:55)

    This is a passable Making Of featurette that isn't all that great and gives away too much of the plot for my liking.

Follow The White Rabbit (Total Time 22:51)

    This is a very innovative and clever feature. When activated (it utilizes a subtitle track), a white rabbit appears in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. When you press Enter, you can then jump to an appropriately themed featurette which showcases the making of that particular segment of the movie. There are nine segments in all, with the white rabbit appearing at 3:29, 31:41, 48:35, 77:22, 81:01, 97:53, 102:09, 106:57, and 110:44. The total running time of the featurettes is 22:51. The only minor irritation about the featurettes is that they are in 4:3 mode rather than in 16:9 mode as the movie is. In my case, this necessitated manually switching between 4:3 and 16:9 mode on my display device. When the featurettes finish, you return to the point in the movie from whence you came.

DVD-ROM Features

    I briefly looked at the DVD-ROM features, which included;     all with appropriate hyperlinks to both on-line and on-disc destinations. There is a great deal of material included here that will keep you occupied for hours.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 and Region 1 versions of this disc are essentially exactly the same, with only trivial differences between the two.

    The Region 4 version misses out on;


    The Matrix is a stunning and visionary piece of filmmaking.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is superb, and is of reference quality.

    The extras are superlative.

    This disc is good enough to be inducted into my Hall Of Fame.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
17th November 1999
Amended 24th November 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Toshiba 2109, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer