The Ultimate Matrix Collection
Warner Bros. new 10-disc Ultimate Matrix Collection is possibly the most extensive
boxed set ever released on DVD. It features pretty much every piece of footage
ever recorded relating to the Matrix trilogy. Rather than waste space reprinting
reviews of the films, click here, here,
or here to read the individual reviews.
Otherwise, read on for a walk-through of this huge set.
Disc 1 The Matrix in all its glory,
featuring a brand-new high definition transfer and 2 new audio commentaries,
neither of which involve anybody related to the Matrix in any way. The new transfer
is similar to the original, but the detail is a wee bit sharper, particularly
involving the darker scenes.
The audio track is pretty much the same, but a little more bass-heavy this
time around. The first of the commentaries is by philosophers Dr.
Cornel West and Ken Wilber; the second is by critics Todd McCarthy, John Powers
and David Thomson. The Wachowski Brothers include a written introduction explaining
why they chose the people they did for the commentaries, and while we cant
really fault them for being intensely shy, it would have been nice to have someone
involved in the film giving their thoughts.
Disc 2 A repackage of The Matrix Revisited, a two-hour documentary
chronicling the making of the first film, from conception to phenomenon. Its
very extensive, including interviews with more people than you knew existed,
combined with massive amounts of behind-the-scenes footage. Its actually
a pretty interesting doc, spending time not only on making the film, but also
on the effect of the film on the movie-going public and on subsequent Hollywood
The Music Revisited is a selection of 41 audio tracks that were used in the
film, but this will probably only appeal to the hippest of the hip. The average
person (ourselves included) have probably never heard of more than one or two
of the bands, but you cant deny that many of the tunes have a pretty good
groove. Also on disc two is a series of short featurettes taken from the original
Matrix DVD. They include the Take the Red Pill, Follow the
White Rabbit, and Behind the Matrix.
Disc 3 The Matrix Reloaded,
with the same audio and video transfers as the DVD that came out in 2003. It,
too, includes a written intro by the Wachowskis and two audio commentaries by
the same dudes as on The Matrix. By now weve gotten used to these guys
and are over the fact they had nothing to do with the movie. With an open mind,
we can listen intently as they peel apart the layers of the film. All seem like
pretty smart chaps, although judging from their comments, its hard to
imagine them ever really liking a single movie in their entire lives. Its
nice that the critics were nice enough to point out how the movie could not
possibly have lived up to the four-year expectations of fans (especially since
its probably the best film in the trilogy).
Disc 4 The Matrix Reloaded Revisited, on which we get 21 featurettes
about the making of the film. While theyre not organized into one handy
little documentary ala The Matrix Revisited, theres just as much information
to be had, and just as many insights from the cast and crew. There are different
sections, each focusing on a single aspect or scene, such as Unplugged
(the 1 Neo/100 Agent Smith fight), Car Chase, Ill Handle
Them, and Teahouse Fight. Theres also a very in-depth
look at Enter the Matrix, the popular video game for which 23 live-action scenes
were shot using existing sets and costumes. This is a pretty interesting piece,
regardless of whether or not you care about the video game (cause we dont).
Disc 5 The Matrix Revolutions,
and yes, it includes a written Wachowski introduction and two separate audio
commentaries by the same participants. By this time, their attention is dwindling
about as much as our own. There are gaps in their comments and their comments
are less interesting. However, they do manage to talk about the Christ-like
overtones in the third film and the massive special effects used in the Sentinel
attack scene. Neither track is as good as either of the tracks on either of
the first films, but theres still some good stuff.
Disc 6 The Matrix Revolutions Revisited, which is organized very
similarly to the Reloaded Revisited disc. 28 featurettes take us through everything
we ever wanted to know about the making of the third and final Matrix film.
Everything from the Crew, to the Aftermath, all the
way into Club Hel. Some sections are much longer and more extensive
than others, but in the end nobody will be able to say there isnt a sufficient
amount of behind-the-scenes footage and cast & crew interviews for all three
Disc 7 The Animatrix, repackaged with all nine short films, audio
commentaries and making-of featurettes. The Wachowski Brothers wrote the first
four shorts, including Final Flight of the Osiris, The Second Renaissance Parts
1 & 2, and Kids Story. Final Flight leads us into The Matrix Reloaded,
while the Renaissances give us some background on how the state of the world
in the Matrix came to be.
The remaining short films are just that: short films. Theyre all related
to the Matrix universe in some way or another, even though it must be said that
some of them dont really make a lot of sense. They all feature fun anime-tion
and are directed by some big names in the genre. The computer animation used
on Final Flight of the Osiris rivals that of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within,
and may actually be even better. Each short is presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic
widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1.
Disc 8 Roots of the Matrix, which is a series of documentaries
examining the historical, philosophical and technological inspirations of the
trilogy. Kicking it off is the hour-long Return to Source: Philosophy &
The Matrix, which gives a whole bunch of well-educated stuffed shirts the chance
to discuss the religious and spiritual undertones of the film. We hear from
numerous sources that all make comparisons or mentions of everything from the
Bible to Socrates. Its an interesting and informative documentary thats
only problem is not being all that entertaining.
The other hour-long documentary is called The Hard Problem, and
focuses more on the technological. More well-educated folks talk about how the
technology in the Matrix is either a potential glimpse into the future, or merely
pure, fun science fiction. Its produced just as well as Return to Source,
but has the advantage of being filled with more interesting subject matter (well
take science fiction over religion any day).
Disc 9 The Burly Man Chronicles, a 90-minute documentary that
takes us from pre-production, all the way to the end of shooting, and covers
not only the two Matrix sequels, but also the videogame. Theres plenty
of behind-the-scenes footage and behind-the-scenes goings on; this is just as
much a the story of the making of the Matrix as it is a plain and
simple making-of documentary. Everything from the death of pop star Aaliyah
to the effects of 9/11 on the shoot is touched upon.
And just in case a 90-minute documentary isnt enough, theres also
a Follow the White Rabbit feature that allows you to go behind the
behind-the-scenes for an additional 23 featurettes any time a white rabbit appears
on screen. Just hit Enter on your DVD remote for more fun and excitement.
Disc 10 While this final disc may seem essentially like filler,
once you realize just how much production art, photo galleries, and promo material
is one here, youre willing to forgive the whole thing. There are sketches
galore: storyboards for thirty scenes, immense amounts of photos, trailers and
TV spots for all three films, and music videos for the first two.
You have to give the studio a major kudos for unloading all this stuff in one
convenient, surprisingly affordable boxed set. If youre a major fan of
the films, itll be really hard to say no. However, if you already own
the movies and dont care about all that bonus crap, theres little
more here than a new transfer for the first film and a repackage of The Animatrix.
But either way, this is an incredibly extensive, very well put together set
that will surely please fans.
The Matrix Ultimate Collection, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
301 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving
Produced by Joel Silver
Written and directed by The Wachowski Brothers
Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think