There is no spoon.
A review by Mike Shea Movie Rating: ( * * * * * ) DVD Rating: ( * * * * * )
The Matrix is one of the best science fiction movies ever made. The Timecop and made it into a monumental film that will forever change the film industry.
The Matrix is an amazing balance of these three genres. It has an excellent story that helps glue together these elements but rather than being a side effect, it could stand on its own as excellent science fiction. Take the first conversation between Morphius and Neo, before Neo takes the red pill. The writing is perfect. There is no needless words. There is no fluff. Each word that comes out of Morphius's mouth is required and clear. There is very little special effects in this scene and no action at all but there is no lack of interest. It is a pivotal moment of pure science fiction with nothing but dialog.
There is no lack of action or special effects. Morphius's vision of the harvesting fields is horrifying. Giant machines pluck babies like ripe apples and then buried in tubes and cables put them into pods they will live in their whole lives. These quick visions of the future history of the world are critical to the strength of the Matrix. It must have cost millions for the shots of the giant human-powered batteries but it was worth every penny. They are powerful and moving.
The action scenes are textbook definitions of the art. The pure wired kung-fu was done by the experts in the field and the John Woo style shoot-outs not only look good but fit the story. There is no lack of guts either. I remember sitting in the theater and feeling the power of Neo's awakening. Having the delicate glass mirror of reality shattered to reveal something else. A weaker director and a weaker studio would have demanded more of a soft transition but this would have ruined the strength of the scene. It is perfect.
The DVD of the Matrix was excellent for the time but deserves a new special edition release. It has a 16x9 enhanced 2.35 to 1 picture that looks excellent on a good display. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is top notch. There is an excellent set of commentaries including actor and director tracks that give a lot of background. The only thing I could ask for is a DTS remaster of the sound but this really isn't needed. It is still a reference quality DVD and a must-have for any collector.
The Matrix is a movie that improved the lives of it's viewers. This is a bold statement and many will disagree, but the excellent story of the Matrix expanded the minds of those able to accept it. It defined action movies for our time. It improved the entire industry of film. This year, two new sequels will be released and they have big footsteps to follow. If anyone can pull it off, the Wachowski brothers can.