The Matrix Reloaded
delivers added amounts of everything that the first film had, with the exception of surprises. We see more of the "real world" in the "last human city" of Zion and we go back to the 1999-look urban virtual reality of the Matrix for more encounters with artificially-intelligent baddies and--the real reason you've turned up--a lot
more martial arts superheroics.
The downside is that this is just part one of a two-pack of sequels, with Revolutions required to tie up the story and sort out a great deal of plot confusion. There are other problems: none of the stars have much good material to work with outside the fights and stunts, which makes the film sorely miss the mix of science fiction thrills and character interplay of the original instalment.
However, the Wachowski Brothers still deliver more than enough stand-alone instant classic action sequences to make you ignore their duff script: in particular, Reeves and Hugo Weaving square off in a rumble that gets dicey, as more and more identical Weavings come out of the woodwork to pile on the lone hero; and a full quarter of an hour is devoted to a chase through the Matrix that lets Laurence Fishburne shoulder the heroic business. A last-reel encounter with a virtual God, the architect of the Matrix, finally delivers some major plot advances, but the scene is so brilliantly shot and designed--with Reeves framed against a wall of TV screens that show multiple versions of himself--that it's easy to be distracted by the decor and miss the point of what's being said. --Kim Newman
On the DVD: The Matrix Reloaded two-disc set amazingly has very little in-depth stuff on this physically impressive movie; there's not even a commentary track. Perhaps the Wachowski Brothers want to keep their enigmatic aura, or perhaps there's a better DVD coming after the trilogy ends? Best here is the 30-minute feature on the incredible freeway chase: here you get the inside scoop on how the titanic 12-minute sequence was put together. There's plenty of material on the second disc, but it's just filler, with the actors talking about how great it is to work again with the Matrix team and plenty of quick edits of explosions and other "cool" things. There's a segment on product placement, 30 minutes on how the video game was created and the MTV Movie Awards parody. The features feel more like pre-movie hype than post-film deconstruction. Dolby 5.1 sound is suitably spectacular--but there's no DTS option--and the super-wide 2.40:1 picture is, of course, pin-sharp, bringing out all the lavish detail and highlighting the contrast between the green-hued Matrix and the grimy grey real world. --Doug Thomas
Reeves/Fishburne/Moss/Pinkett ~ Matrix Reloaded