The Matrix Reloaded (Remastered) (2003)

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Released 6-Dec-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Audio-Rain
Dolby Digital Trailer-Train
Notes-Written Introduction By The Wachowski Brothers
Audio Commentary-The Philosophers: Dr Cornel West & Ken Wilber
Audio Commentary-The Critics: Todd McCarthy, JohnPowers & David Thomson
DVD-ROM Extras-Enter The Matrix: The Game
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 132:37
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (62:25) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Andy Wachowski
Larry Wachowski
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Keanu Reeves
Laurence Fishburne
Carrie-Anne Moss
Hugo Weaving
Jada Pinkett Smith
Gloria Foster
Case ?
RPI Box Music Don Davis


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits Yes, the trailer for Revolutions after the credits end.

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    It is a time of human prosperity. Humans still struggle to make a life for themselves, but since Neo was liberated from the Matrix, he and the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar have freed thousands of minds from the system. In that sense, the human race has prospered as more individuals have been released to join their fellow man in the liberated free world of Zion, the last human city. But there are rumblings and rumours of war as the crew of the Neb travel to a broadcast point. In a meeting with other ship's captains in the Matrix, Morpheus tells his fellow captains that the machines are coming to destroy Zion. 250,000 machines, which is one for every man, woman and child in the last human city, are drilling their way down from the surface and will reach Zion within 72 hours. All ships have been called back to mount a defence of the city, but Morpheus asks that one ship remain within broadcast distance in case the Oracle decides to contact them.

    Meanwhile, Neo is apprehensive as the Neb nears Zion. Not so much for the impending battle that is to come, but because of dreams he has of Trinity meeting her death in a battle with an Agent. It is a reoccurring vision that he has, one that he can't shake. Despite this fear of an impending loss of his love, Neo has many things to do. Upon the Neb's arrival at Zion, there are two different greetings for Neo and Morpheus. For Neo, there are the adoring followers of the One that has been the instrument of release for thousands of minds. In almost messianic praise, the faithful gather near his dwelling to present gifts and objects for him to bless. This greeting is not replicated for Morpheus. Commander Lock, in charge of the defence of Zion, has summoned Morpheus to account for why a ship was left behind when all are needed for the defence of the city against the coming machine horde. When Morpheus speaks of the Oracle, Lock is furious. Not all believe in the pronouncements of the Oracle and the prophecy of The One. Still, there are enough that do believe and this much is a comfort to Morpheus.

    In a massive gathering of the population of Zion, the citizens are told of the nearing machine attack. Defiant, the populace celebrate their humanity in the face of destruction. But soon revelry must turn to duty, and Neo and the the Nebuchadnezzar return to a broadcast point to contact the Oracle. In again meeting the mysterious prophet, Neo learns much about not only his role in the Matrix, but on the nature of the Matrix itself and the Oracle's part in it. And shortly after meeting the Oracle, Agent Smith makes an appearance...several of them. Something has happened to Smith during his last encounter with Neo, and much like a computer virus he is now able to spread and replicate himself throughout the Matrix. Now, not only does Neo have one Smith to face, but dozens, hundreds, maybe even thousands.

    The path of the One is held by the Keymaker, a programme within the Matrix that holds a key that unlocks a door that only The One can enter. In order to gain access to the key, several things have to be done, and the Agents as well as Smith (now unlocked from the system and a FreeAgent) will stop at nothing to stop Neo from accessing the door. In the end, battles will have to be fought in several worlds, sacrifices will have to be made, and the truth of The One will be revealed. And Smith is more of a threat than ever, both in the Matrix...and the real world.

    How do you follow up one of the most popular films of all time? The thing that made The Matrix such a success also made it a very hard act to follow. In the first act, the characters and the laws governing them was set up. This sometimes difficult part of establishing a storyline was for The Matrix one of its real strong suits. Many films based on established stories (graphic novels, classic television shows, bygone era films) have difficulty in getting the story going as first the characters and story premise must be established. Where many films falter, The Matrix excelled. The journey of discovery with the characters was integral to the story itself. Instead of setting up characters and back story just to play out a certain scenario, the set-up was a prerequisite for the film to work. And work the first film did, and now for that sometimes tricky second act, The Matrix Reloaded.

    Part of the problem with sequels is that if you've outdone yourself the first time, you are duty-bound to replicate your overachievement a second time, and in the case of this series, a third time. The Matrix was a standout example of one of those films that comes around every 20 years or so. 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, and Blade Runner all come to mind. Some were box office smashes, whilst others received critical acclaim, but each will be remembered as classics in the science fiction genre, as will The Matrix. The difficulty with this second instalment is its lack of accessibility. The first film featured an interesting mix of eastern and classical mysticism. Religion, both mainstream and esoteric had their influence on The Matrix, along with several disciplines of philosophy and psychology. The nature of self, the concepts of reality, the essence of faith and the need for redemption are all present in the first film. That said, it was still a kick-ass action flick, and if you didn't get all the metaphysical, dare I say 'mumbo-jumbo', you still could have a rocking good time with the movie. In this film it is much harder to ignore the spiritual aspects of the film, as they are integral to the telling of the story. There is a richness of story here, but you have to work hard to follow it at times and you have to pay attention. Miss one important passage of dialogue during the film, such as Neo's conversation with the The Oracle, and you fight an uphill battle trying to understand the rest of the film. This all isn't necessarily a problem, but as I stated before, it does make the film less accessible.

    The action in this film is, as expected, over the top. With the first film setting the benchmark for sci-fi action, the second was by default required to better it. To some extent this second film succeeds. There are some excellent action sequences here, especially the freeway scene. With a purpose built 6 km freeway built for the production, 300 real cars were destroyed in the filming of one of the most action packed car chases ever captured on film. The fight sequences are good too, although there is at times an expected overuse of CG, such as that seen during the 'Burley Brawl' between Neo and the Agent Smiths. Nice concept, but at times I could see the obvious CG characters and this had the effect of taking me out of the film, something a film should never do. Still, the action here is very good and enough to satisfy die hard fans of the series.

    There are two ways you can look at this film. One is as purely an action sequel, and on this count the film does an okay job. It's a bit wordy, but there are some great set pieces that make all the talk seem okay. The second way is go along with the spiritual aspects as spelled out in the film. There is a wealth of story here when you follow the metaphysical story of the film. This can require several viewings and the commentary by Dr. Cornel West and Ken Wilber is mandatory, but it's rewarding if you want to get the most from this movie.

    You will either love this film or hate it. I'd be kidding myself if I thought otherwise. Many thought that it got bogged down in philosophy and spirituality and lost its touch with the originality (sort of) of the first. Others thought it a worthy successor to the first film. I had problems with this film. I thought that it didn't resonate with the tone and style of the first making it far less accessible, and I feel that the Wachowski Bros. wrote themselves into a corner and didn't know how to write themselves out of it. That said, I can't allow myself to throw away the film because of its various failings. So it isn't as accessible as the first. Invest a bit of time in the film and it does become worth it. Either that or talk amongst yourselves until the next action sequence comes along. Your choice.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a quality transfer, but you won't find it any different than that already released previously.

    This feature is presented in the aspect ratio of 2.40:1, 16x9 enhanced. This is close to the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1.

    I found the level of image sharpness here to be very good. Transferred at a reactive average bitrate of around 5.92Mb/s (the same as the initial release), this is enough to provide a quality image that provides a good level of detail throughout the film. This bitrate isn't as high as that afforded The Matrix (Remastered), but it still is quite good. Shadow detail is good with a decent level of darker image detail available throughout. I had no issues with low level noise.

    As with the first film (especially the remastered version), the colour palette here is pronounced. The 'real' world is bathed in blue, whilst the Matrix is devoid of that colour and instead is overexposed with a high level of green. Anyone familiar with the films will know that blue is the colour of the real world, whilst green is the colour of the Matrix. This second film matches the colour of that seen in the new remastered version of The Matrix and the transfer is from what I can see exactly the same as that found on the initial release. Shadow detail is good and there is plenty to see in the various darker scenes of the film, of which there are many. I had no problems making out details in these darker scenes. I had no issues with low level noise.

    As stated earlier, colour is very important in these films. The green of the Matrix and the blue of the real world are all part of the storyline, and the DVD conveys these colours quite well.

    With an average bitrate of about 6.00 Mb/s, you wouldn't expect any MPEG nasties, and I had no problems of that nature with this disc. Some massive displays may exhibit some level of pixelization during some of the lower bitrate sections, but I had no problems whatsoever on my 76cm 16x9 display. The print used here is very clean, and I can't remember seeing a film artefact of any sort, other than mild grain, for the duration of the feature. A very good picture throughout.

    There is only one subtitle language available, that being English and English for the Hearing Impaired. I found the English stream to be of reasonable accuracy, without being word for word.

    This disc is formatted RSDL with the layer change taking place at 62:25 within Chapter 17. It's the scene where Neo, Morpheus and Trinity are at the restaurant with Merovingian. It's during a close-up on Neo and it's very hard to pick. I missed it all three times I watched the film. This is a bit different from the layer change on the original release, which was at 77:14, between Chapters 20 and 21. This too is a good spot for a change, and I can't see the advantage of one over the other as both are well placed.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio here is good, but those expecting an upgrade from the original's 384 Kb/s will be disappointed, and this disc features exactly the same audio mix as the first release. It's good, but it could have been a bit better.

    There are three audio options here, these being the original English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix running at 384 Kb/s as well as two audio commentaries in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 Kb/s. I listened to all three, of course.

    Dialogue is quite important with this film, and so the spoken word should be audible throughout, which it is. There are no problems with the clarity of the spoken word during the programme, even during the intense action sequences. Audio sync is also quite good with no major issues of note.

    Music for this film again comes from film score composer Don Davis. I found his original score for The Matrix to be quite good, despite some commenting that it was too predictable and by-the-numbers. It suited the film well and had one of the most memorable opening score passages in film score history. With this second film, I didn't think that the score stood out as much. The music is there, but it isn't as memorable. Still, it works and matches the feel and tone of the film. There are also many modern music tracks throughout the film from such artists as Fluke, Oakenfold, Rage Against The Machine (as expected), P.O.D., Linkin Park and several others. All quite suitable for the film.

    The film's soundtrack offers quite a bit of surround information and this creates an immersive soundstage that will wrap you within the film as much as your display will with the visuals. Despite this disc only running at 384 Kb/s, the sound here is good and the surround channels get plenty to do in service of the film.

    The film features quite a bit of LFE, so if your subwoofer is up to the challenge, then let 'er rip!  I would love to hear this film with a full bitrate dts track, but what this disc might lack at the very upper end of the frequency scale, it makes up for at the bottom end. A decent offering, but not reference.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    This disc, as with the others in this 10 disc set, is fairly devoid of extras except for the two audio commentaries. As there are 7 disc in this set devoted to supplementary material, this isn't a problem.

Menu

    After the usual distributor's logos, copyright warnings and the 'What is Warner Bros. Movie World?' (yup...again) trailer, we are taken to the disc's Main Menu which offers us the following:     The Main Menu is 16x9 enhanced and animated. Audio is in English Dolby Digital 2.0.

    Selecting the Commentaries icon offers up the following:

Written Introduction by The Wachowski Brothers   -   9 Pages

    Those waiting to hear a commentary by the Wachowski Bros. will be disappointed. A clause in the Wachowski Brothers' contract with Warner Bros. stipulated that the pair would not be obligated to do any press or interviews for the films. So instead of a Director's Commentary, you have this written introduction to the commentaries provided. This is the same introduction as that seen on The Matrix disc in this collection.

Audio Commentary - The Philosophers: Dr. Cornel West and Ken Wilber

    Dr. Cornel West, a professor at Harvard University and philosopher and author Ken Wilber really hit their straps with this film. There is hardly a dropped beat as the pair elaborate on the various spiritual messages that the film contains. This commentary is quite entertaining and worthwhile if you are struggling to make sense of the metaphysical aspects of the film. Very interesting and funny at times, especially Dr. West, who has a cameo in the film as one of the Elders of Zion.

Audio Commentary - The Critics: Todd McCarthy, John Powers & David Thomson

    Cornel West and Ken Wilber are on the pro (support) side, whilst Todd McCarthy of Variety, John Powers of Vogue and film critic and author David Thomson are members of the opposition. Fans of the first film, they begin to lay on the criticism of this second film in the series. It is an interesting idea to have the pros and cons of a film spelled out by those in authority, but this commentary falls a bit flat and there are too many dead patches during the film. Dr. West and Ken Wilber can't seem to get the words out fast enough on their commentary, but these three don't have much to say too many times here.

Web Links

    With the InterActual DVD player installed (included), a host of interactive and web enabled extras are made available.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Released in December of 2004, this package is essentially the same as that afforded our Region 1 cousins. There are some language and subtitle differences, but for all intents and purposes we get the same as Region 1.

Summary

    Some wish that the Wachowski Brothers would have quit with the first film, and to some extent I agree with that. But there is part of me that wants more. Just as you can't have just one Dorito corn chip, I find it hard to stop with the first film. There are some good aspects to this follow-up to The Matrix, but one of its problems is that it isn't as accessible as the first, and to really get an understanding of it requires several viewings and an appreciation of the various mythological, spiritual, metaphysical, philosophical and religious influences that permeate the film. Some will find it too much mumbo-jumbo, but if you can get through it, there is some great fun to be had.

    The video is quite good.

    The audio is reasonably good, with plenty of LFE for subwoofer fans. A higher bitrate (higher than 384 Kb/s) wouldn't have gone astray.

    There are two commentaries. One is quite interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
Thursday, January 20, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD RP-82 with DVD-Audio on board, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko TRW 325 / 32 SFT 10 76cm (32") 16x9. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderYamaha RX-V2300 Dolby Digital and dts. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationYamaha RX-V2300 110w X 6 connected via optical cable and shielded RCA (gold plated) connects for DVD-Audio
SpeakersVAF DC-X Fronts (bi-wired), VAF DC-6 Center, VAF DC-2 Rears, VAF LFE-07 Sub (Dual Amp. 80w x 2)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Ridiculous Rave & Keanu's Keister... - Dark Lord (Bio? We don't need no stinkin' bio!) REPLY POSTED
Don't buy it! unless you want the extra's.... - Pendergast (Why not take a look at my bio, you might think it stinks.)