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DVD Brief: The Matrix

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The Matrix
The Matrix

Warner Home Video
136 minutes
Widescreen 2.35:1
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Interactive menu
Theatrical trailer
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
Extras: Audio commentary, isolated music score, production notes, behind the scenes features, documentary, DVD-ROM enhancements.
Suggested Retail Price: $24.98
Directors: Larry and Andy Wachowski
Writers: Larry and Andy Wachowski
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Joe Pantoliano

Description: Bizarre and totally absorbing virtual reality thriller about humans being manipulated by a future machine-intelligence to believe they are living in the late-20th century -- when they are in fact bred in vats as "batteries" to fuel the energy of the Matrix, the computer net (i.e., the global artificial intelligence that won a future war, enslaving humans) that strings the world together. Story revolves around a group of revolutionaries who choose computer geek Neo (Keanu Reeves) as the "one" to overthrow the machines and break down the veil of the Matrix's virtual reality. Astounding special effects and believable story line make this one of the most original sci-fi films to come down the pike in years (despite Keanu Reeves' acting).

Warner Bros. jammed this DVD with a plethora of features that certainly augments "The Matrix's" viewing pleasure (and this is a film that we recommend you watch at least twice -- the first time to be washed along with the breathtaking story line, concept and special effects, the second time to luxuriate with your understanding of what's really going on). In addition to the de rigueur cast and crew bios/filmographies and trailers there's a 25-minute "Making the Matrix" documentary featuring interviews with the Wachowski brothers (discussing how they were influenced by comic books and Hong Kong actioners), producer Joel Silver, special effects techs, and cast members (including a neat section on the rigorous five-month training the stars went through with famed "Fists of Legend" director Wu-ping Yuen; a music only track with commentary by composer Don Davis; audio commentary by Carrie-Anne Moss, visual effects supervisor John Gaeta and film editor Zach Staenberg; and two special fun features: the "red pill" and "follow the white rabbit."

There are two red pills that can be accessed: "What Is the Concept?" which is a mini-doc showing storyboards, models and special effects layouts, and "What Is Bullet-Time?" which is a five-minute look at how FX maven Gaeta used a 360 degree, 120 camera setup to film and slow time down for the incredible fighting sequences in which Neo dodges bullets while virtually flying. Interspersed throughout the movie are nine "follow the white rabbit" icons; when a white rabbit pops up and you click "enter," behind-the-scenes information on the construction of the relevant action scene is revealed.

The DVD-ROM enhancements are legion: "The One" game (answering questions to find out if you're worthy of being "the one"); screenplay and storyboards; special essays and articles; "Do You Know Kung Fu?" jumps to action sequences; theatrical trailer sampler of other film future worlds ("Demolition Man," "Outland," "The Road Warrior"); Web sites.

Image: Terrific transfer has great detail and contrast, with a fairly solid, seamless image -- which is particularly important for a film so laden with special effects. There is a little digital noise and some artifacts.

Sound: Excellent, realistic sound -- with plenty of subwoofer action.

All DVDs are screened on a reference Onkyo DV- S717 third-generation DVD player.

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