The Matrix is a 1999 science fiction action film that was written and directed by The Wachowskis (credited as The Wachowski Brothers) and starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, and Joe Pantoliano. It depicts a dystopian future in which reality as perceived by most humans is actually a simulated reality called “the Matrix”, created by sentient machines to subdue the human population, while their bodies’ heat and electrical activity are used as an energy source. Cybercriminal and computer programmer Neo learns this truth and is drawn into a rebellion against the machines, which involves other people who have been freed from the “dream world”.
The Matrix is known for popularizing a visual effect known as “bullet time”, in which the heightened perception of certain characters is represented by allowing the action within a shot to progress in slow-motion while the camera’s viewpoint appears to move through the scene at normal speed. The film is an example of the cyberpunk sub-genre. It contains numerous references to philosophical and religious ideas, and prominently pays homage to works such as Plato’s Allegory of the cage, Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation, and Lewis Caroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland. The Wachowskis approach to action scenes drew upon their admiration for Japanese animation and martial arts films, and the film’s use of flight choreographers and wire fu techniques from Hong Kong action cinema influenced subsequent Hollywood action film productions.
The Matrix was first released in the United States on March 31, 1999, and ended up grossing over $460 million worldwide. It was well-received by film critics, and won four Academy Awards, as well as other accolades, including BAFTA Awards, and Saturn Awards. Reviews praised The Matrix for its innovative visual effects, cinematography and entertainment value. The film has since appeared in lists of the greatest science fiction films, and in 2012, was added to the National Film Registry for preservation. The success of the film led to the release of two feature film sequels, both written and directed by the Wachowskis: The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. The Matrix franchise was further expanded through the production of comic books, video games, and animated short films, in which the Wachowskis were heavily involved, and even inspired books and theories on ideas in religion and philosophy.
The Film Itself (4.5/5):
If you were a child who grew up during the ’90s, then you definitely saw The Matrix and its revolutionary presentation. Taking a vision that the Wachowski brothers had and using the characteristics of other films to fuel this movie really brought forth one of the better science fiction films from the late ’90s. The story, for a product of its time, is something that was considered to be complex, and the overall execution was carried out so well that we were all waiting in anticipation to see what would happen with the announcement of the second movie. I’m not going to speak in regard to the two latter films; but, this specific film is and always will be one of my go-to films when I can’t really decide on what to watch.
Picture Quality (5/5):
As soon as the 4K UHD release of The Matrix showed up at my door, I knew that I had to put this in my player to watch and experience with its utilization of HDR. And let me tell you, this release does not disappoint in the slightest. Everything about this movie looked so much crisper and bright that it felt as if I were watching this movie for the first time in 1999; at least what it felt that it looked like at that time. The computer generated effects looked pretty damn amazing, in fact the notorious rooftop scene with the bullets looked better than I had imagined. But, out of the various sequences that played out the best on this release were the elevator shaft explosion and the huge shoot out sequence that took place in the last quarter of the film.
Audio Quality (5/5):
Bundled with an English Dolby Atmos Audio track, The Matrix offers a completely revitalized and all out immersive experience for its viewers. Everything from the ambient sound effects to the surround aspect of the action sequences really, really roared with this release. The utilization of the camera location stood out the best with this release, specifically in the outdoor action scenes as my wife and I were able to really feel as if we were right there in the middle of everything as we were able to hear the specific elements or channels as the bullets would fly by.
The Packaging (2.5/5):
The 4K UHD release of The Matrix comes packaged in a two-disc 4K UHD amaray case. Within that case is the standard 4K UHD copy of the film as well as the standard Blu-ray copy of the film. Underneath the Blu-ray copy of the movie is an additional Blu-ray disc that includes all of the available special features for this release. I’m personally not a fan of this kind of packaging as I, and may others do not like the stacking of discs like this and the case should have the center tray for the third disc. None of the discs feature any artwork outside of the standard release text and generic black background. There is also a digital copy redemption pamphlet that’s been included as well as a slipcover that’s been made available in the original pressing that features a completely different piece of artwork from that of what’s provided on the case art.
Special Features (5/5):
The Matrix on 4K UHD comes fully loaded with additional content. In fact, it’s not like your standard release as some of the additional content has been made available on the UHD disc as well. The content that’s been provided offers not only a deeper look into the movie, but a nice look at the behind the scenes work that went into making this movie. Included with this release is:
- Written Introduction By The Wachowskis
- Philosopher’s Commentary By Dr. Cornel Powers & David Thomson
- Critics Commentary By Todd McCarthy, John Powers & David Thomson
- Cast & Crew Commentary By Carrie-Anne Moss, Zach Staenberg & John Gaeta
- Composer Commentary By Don Davis With Music-Only Audio Track
- The Matrix Revisited
- Behind The Matrix
- Follow The White Rabbit
- And Over Three-Hours Of More Content!
Codec: HEVC / H.265
Resolution: Native 4K (2160p)
HDR: Dolby Vision + HDR10
Original Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English: Dolby Atmos
English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
French: Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
English: Dolby Digital 5.1
English SDH, French, Spanish, Dutch
Original Film: 136 minutes
As you can tell, I was really excited to see the 4K UHD release of The Matrix appear at my door. The only complaint that I have with this release would have to be the packaging as the two Blu-ray discs are stacked on top of each other. Other than that, this release is an absolutely perfect release for this format. The visual and audible experiences from the 4K copy of the movie were simply out of this world. The special features are fully loaded and should be seen by anyone and everyone who picks this up for your collection. If you’re on the fence about picking this up for your collection, I would hands down recommend grabbing it. The Matrix will be available on 4K UHD beginning on Tuesday, May 22, 2018.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.