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There is no denying it; THE MATRIX RELOADED ($30) is one heck of a cool movie. By the same token, THE MATRIX RELOADED isnít quite as good as it predecessor- THE MATRIX. Whereas THE MATRIX had a whole lot of originality on its side, this second film in the trilogy by brothers Andy and Larry Wachowski, seems a bit too stylistically reminiscent of its predecessor, as well as every copycat movie that has come this way since its release. Also, some sequences in THE MATRIX RELOADED come off as too self indulgent- going on longer than necessary and sucking some of the energy out of the filmís pacing. Now donít get me wrong, I really liked THE MATRIX RELOADED, I just think that if the plot and pacing could have been streamlined a bit more to maintain a continuous sense of urgency throughout the entire film.

Picking up the story after Neo (Keanu Reeves) discovers the true nature of reality and his place in the order of things, THE MATRIX RELOADED finds the free contingent of humanity on the brink of loosing the ongoing war. However, the enigmatic Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) is convinced that prophecy is soon to be fulfilled and that Neo is the key to humanityís victory. While he may be the key to the prophecy, Neo, and his comrades Morpheus and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) are dependent upon the guidance from The Oracle (Gloria Foster), who has gone into hiding within The Matrix. Also waiting for Neo inside The Matrix is his old nemesis, Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), who now packs more than a few surprises. The cast of THE MATRIX RELOADED also features Jada Pinkett Smith, Monica Bellucci, Harry Lennix, Helmut Bakaitis, Randall Duk Kim and Anthony Zerbe.

As with the first film, I hate to give away too much of the plot of THE MATRIX RELOADED, as it would spoil oneís enjoyment of this particular film. However, I will give you some advice; donít sit down to watch THE MATRIX RELOADED unless you have already seen THE MATRIX. Sure, one could watch this movie without seeing the first film, and love every bit of the breathtaking action and some spectacular CGI effects, but they would really be at a loss to understand the story. However, once you are up to speed, THE MATRIX RELOADED proves to be a slam-bang terrific action movie that resonates with some depth and meaning. THE MATRIX RELOADED also whets your appetite for THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS, which will be hitting theaters shortly after the DVD release of this middle film of the trilogy.

Warner Home Video has made THE MATRIX RELOADED available on DVD in a marvelous looking 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. The image is uniformly excellent, providing a crisp highly defined picture throughout. Colors are beautifully rendered, appearing vibrant when required, and purposely skewed towards green when the necessities of the plot dictate. The cooler hues look incredible and those of a warmer cast are even better. Blacks are dead on the money, while the whites are clean and completely stable. Contrast can be wonderfully smooth or a bit harsh, depending upon the requirements of a given moment. Shadow detail is first rate and the picture produces an excellent sense of dimensionality. Digital compression artifacts are rarely noticeable on this cleanly authored DVD.

THE MATRIX RELOADED features an incredible Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack that is everything that one should expect from this type of sci-fi action movie. The is plenty of audio bravado in the mix- aggressively taking advantage of the all the discrete channels for the filmís numerous action sequences. Additionally, one will find a whole lot of atmosphere and nuance in the sound mix that helps to subtlety create the filmís acoustic environments with a real sense of space. There is very effective imaging across the forward soundstage, which nicely wraps around into the surround channels. Also, there are plenty of sound effects whizzing through the rear channels to keep surround junkies happy. As for the bass channel, it is going to rock your world- or at the very least, rumble the sofa across your listening room. A French 5.1 channel track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental programming that is contained on the second disc of the set. Since a special edition release will be forthcoming, when the entire trilogy is revisited on DVD, the supplements on the current DVD set are modest. Preload is a twenty-two minute program that contains the usual mix of interviews, as well a glimpse at how some of the filmís magic was created. The Matrix Unfolds is a five-minute look at the film trilogy, its connection to THE ANIMATRIX, as well as the video games inspired by the movie series.

The Freeway Chase runs thirty minutes and gives a very detailed look at the filmís top action set piece and how it was accomplished. Clocking in at slightly less than ten minutes is Get Me An Exit, which examines the impact the style of film series has had on advertising and product placement. Enter The Matrix: Making The Game is a twenty eight minute program that looks at the enormous effort that went into conceiving and producing the video game inspired by the movie series. A trailer for THE ANIMATRIX, as well as a spoof of the film from the MTV Movie Awards closes out the supplements.

Despite some minor flaws, I still think that THE MATRIX RELOADED is one heck of a cool movie. As for Warnerís DVD release, it looks incredible and sounds phenomenal, making it another must have demo disc. Very highly recommended.



The Matrix Reloaded (Widescreen Edition) (2003)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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