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The Ultimate Matrix Collection [Blu-ray]
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Ten-disc set includes "The Matrix," "The Matrix Reloaded," "The Matrix Revolutions," the documentary "The Matrix Revisited," and "The Animatrix". Standard and Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtracks: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital stereo, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital stereo; Subtitles: English (SDH), French, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese; audio commentary; "making of" documentaries; photo gallery; storyboards; music video; TV spots; theatrical trailers; more.
By following up their debut thriller Bound with the 1999 box-office smash The Matrix, the codirecting Wachowski brothers--Andy and Larry--annihilated any suggestion of a sophomore jinx, crafting one of the most exhilarating sci-fi/action movies of the 1990s. Set in the not too distant future in an insipid, characterless city, we find a young man named Neo (Keanu Reeves). A software techie by day and a computer hacker by night, he sits alone at home by his monitor, waiting for a sign, a signal--from what or whom he doesn't know--until one night, a mysterious woman named Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) seeks him out and introduces him to that faceless character he has been waiting for: Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne). A messiah of sorts, Morpheus presents Neo with the truth about his world by shedding light on the dark secrets that have troubled him for so long: "You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad." Ultimately, Morpheus illustrates to Neo what the Matrix is--a reality beyond reality that controls all of their lives, in a way that Neo can barely comprehend.
Neo thus embarks on an adventure that is both terrifying and enthralling. Pitted against an enemy that transcends human concepts of evil, Morpheus and his team must train Neo to believe that he is the chosen champion of their fight. With mind-boggling, technically innovative special effects and a thought-provoking script that owes a debt of inspiration to the legacy of cyberpunk fiction, this is much more than an out-and-out action yarn; it's a thinking man's journey into the realm of futuristic fantasy, a dreamscape full of eye candy that will satisfy sci-fi, kung fu, action, and adventure fans alike. Although the film is headlined by Reeves and Fishburne--who both turn in fine performances--much of the fun and excitement should be attributed to Moss, who flawlessly mixes vulnerability with immense strength, making other contemporary female heroines look timid by comparison. And if we were going to cast a vote for most dastardly movie villain of 1999, it would have to go to Hugo Weaving, who plays the feckless, semipsychotic Agent Smith with panache and edginess. As the film's box-office profits soared, the Wachowski brothers announced that The Matrix is merely the first chapter in a cinematically dazzling franchise--a chapter that is arguably superior to the other sci-fi smash of 1999 (you know... the one starring Jar Jar Binks). --Jeremy Storey
The Matrix Reloaded
Considering the lofty expectations that preceded it, The Matrix Reloaded triumphs where most sequels fail. It would be impossible to match the fresh audacity that made The Matrix a global phenomenon in 1999, but in continuing the exploits of rebellious Neo (Keanu Reeves), Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) as they struggle to save the human sanctuary of Zion from invading machines, the codirecting Wachowski brothers have their priorities well in order. They offer the obligatory bigger and better highlights (including the impressive "Burly Brawl" and freeway chase sequences) while remaining focused on cleverly plotting the middle of a brain-teasing trilogy that ends with The Matrix Revolutions. The metaphysical underpinnings can be dismissed or scrutinized, and choosing the latter course (this is, after all, an epic about choice and free will) leads to astonishing repercussions that made Reloaded an explosive hit with critics and hardcore fans alike. As the centerpiece of a multimedia franchise, this dynamic sequel ends with a cliffhanger that virtually guarantees a mind-blowing conclusion. --Jeff Shannon
The Matrix Revolutions
Despite the inevitable law of diminishing returns, The Matrix Revolutions is quite satisfying as an adrenalized action epic, marking yet another milestone in the exponential evolution of computer-generated special effects. That may not be enough to satisfy hardcore Matrix fans who turned the Wachowski Brothers' hacker mythology into a quasi-religious pop-cultural phenomenon, but there's no denying that the trilogy goes out with a cosmic bang instead of the whimper that many expected. Picking up precisely where The Matrix Reloaded left off, this 130-minute finale finds Neo (Keanu Reeves) at a virtual junction, defending the besieged human enclave of Zion by confronting the attacking machines on their home turf, while humans combat swarms of tentacled mechanical sentinels as Zion's fate lies in the balance. It all amounts to a blaze of CGI glory, devoid of all but the shallowest emotions, and so full of metaphysical hokum that the trilogy's detractors can gloat with I-told-you-so sarcasm. And yet, Revolutions still succeeds as a slick, exciting hybrid of cinema and video game, operating by its own internal logic with enough forward momentum to make the whole trilogy seem like a thrilling, magnificent dream. -- Jeff Shannon
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The difference between the limited and the unlimited editions are: The Limited Edition comes in a plastic box with trays, a Neo bust and an 80 page booklet that lists the extras of the 10 disks (yes, that's all it does). Besides this the sets are the same.
These two sets include all three films, The Animatrix, the film footage shot for Enter the Matrix videogame and 106 documentaries. The bonus disks for Reloaded and Revolutions are different from those included in the versions already released.
REMASTERD: The movies were enhanced so the films look brighter in color and richer in details. Don't worry it was not done by Gorge Lucas. The films are the same.
AUDIO: Also enhanced (not that it was necessary). Voices are stronger, gentle noises stand out more and details were sweetened just a bit. Great work!
DISK 1: The Matrix. The original commentaries, the music only audio track, follow the white rabbit, take the red pills... ALL ARE MISSING in this version. It comes with two commentaries worth listening to, a written intro from the Wachowski bros., and a ROM feature.
DISK 2: The Matrix Revisited. It includes the entire contents of the original disk except the fanboy stuff.
DISK 3: The Matrix Reloaded. Two new commentaries and a ROM feature.
DISK 4: The Matrix Reloaded Revisited. All new stuff such as a 17-min look at the fight in the Merovingian's chateau, 55-min dissection of the car chase, 40-min look at the Neo vs. 100 Smith battle, 7-min segment on Neo vs. Seraph and more.
DISK 5: The Matrix Revolutions. Two new commentaries and a ROM feature.
DISK 6: The Matrix Revolutions Revisited. Includes a tour of the set, 27-min piece on the Club Hel fight (ceiling walkers), segments on the workers and extras, 17-min profile of Neo vs. Smith final battle, 36-min piece covering the soundtrack, film editing, etc. and more.
DISK 7: The Animatrix. Just as we all remember it.
DISK 8: The Roots of the Matrix. Two documentaries: 1-Return to Source: The Philosophy of The Matrix: is an hour long discussion on the philosophical elements of the movie. And 2-The Hard Problem: the Science Behind the Fiction is an hour long discussion of the science of the films and its possibilities for a real life Matrix.
DISK 9: The Burly Man Chronicles. This is a 94-min featurette documenting the whole 276 day shoot for films 2 and 3. Profiles, interviews, a tribute to Alliyah and more are also found on this disk. Although almost nothing is said about Gloria Foster (the original Oracle).
DISK 10: The Zion Archive. Here we find storyboards and concept art for all three films; trailers and music videos for all three films; video effects in various states of completion and a Matrix Online game preview.
Overall: Excellent collection and a must for fans. If you are not a hardcore fan though and you like this collection, you may want to purchase the one without Neo's bust. It's cheaper and the booklet is only a guide to the extras on the 10 disks which are all included in both sets. The Wachowskis DO NOT give any commentaries on these disks which may be disappointing for some fans. But over all this is a great collection. You may add it to the ones you already own with confidence. There are more goodies in these disks not mentioned here so have fun exploring. Just follow the white rabbit and remember... there is no spoon.
Let me explain what you exactly get here. Housed in one original sized keepcase with a leaf in the middle to separate the two discs inside, each disc is a DVD-18, otherwise known as "dual-sided/dual-layed". Imagine if you took say The Matrix DVD and glued/attached it's label side to the label side of the first movie disc of The Matrix Reloaded. Then did the same thing to Disc One of Matrix Revolutions and the single disc of The Animatrix. That's pretty much what this set is. Each side is an EXACT, down to the bitrate quality, copy of the original release as it was when first released. Same menus, video/audio, Disc One extras, and all. Nothing has been changed except there's no picture label side now. Sure, the Disc Two's of Reloaded/Revolutions are absent now, but for under $12, and if you only want the movies that still are presented in their original Anamorphic Widescreen video, this for the tight-walleted film fans out there that never bothered to buy these films in the first place is truly the best way to go.
If the set has any cons, the first film is from 1999 DVD master, and while it's okay, it's still nowhere near the quality of the 2004 remaster that for Standard Definition discs is still exclusive to the Ultimate boxset. The transfers on the other three films here DO match in quality since they all were shot digitally to begin with, so one out of three isn't all that bad. Also, in order to give two full dual-layered presentations on just one disc, they HAVE to be dual-sided, otherwise known as "flippers". With flippers, each side is untouchable so to not get unwanted scratches on either side, you have to be more careful with them than a single-sided disc with it's label side that can be handled much easier.
In conclusion, if you never bothered in buying either the individual releases or the high-priced boxset, this 4 Film Favorites set for the cost and space-saving is an excellent deal. Other than losing a bonus disc of features that you probably would watch just once anyway, you get the whole Matrix for the cost of just one tiny little red pill.
The Blu-ray version is the best of them (except that it doesn't come with a Neo bust like the DVD edition did).
At the time of purchase and of writing this review the product info was wrong on the Blu-ray version. It claims it is a 10 disc set, when it actually is a 6 disc set, 4 Blu-ray's and 2 DVD's. I notified Amazon.com of this, but who knows when they will get around to fixing it.
Also it was said that this is a waste of money in another review because newer DVD players upscale. However this person must have never seen an upscaled movie compared against a Blu-ray or HD-DVD version of the same. There is a BIG BIG difference, I watch a lot of movies "upscaled" but all that does is allow you to watch a DVD movie on a HD TV, it improves the quality a little but not enough to say it is as good as Blu-ray or HD-DVD.
It is worth the extra bucks to buy one of greatest movies in the last 20 years in beautiful Blu-ray.
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