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The Matrix Reinvigorated on Blu-Ray
on 30 December 2009
A word about the Blu-Ray quality first. There are some very strange rumours on these pages such as saying that these films are just upscaled DVDs. I don't know where people get these ideas from, but it is simply not true. For a 10 year old film "The Matrix" is very close to the top of the Blu-Ray tree. The close-ups, particularly of Neo and Morpheus, are stunning reference level examples of depth and plasticity. I watched this projected c. 3m wide, and just gawped at the detail in Fishburne's pock-marked face: it was more like having a giant statue of his head on the wall than looking at a flat TV-like image.
What some people are looking at and not liking is probably either (a) the occasional use of green colour filtration which is a clever cinematic trick conveying the irreality of The Matrix or (b) the crushed blacks which are a stylistic choice by the film's makers. Yes, the black levels on "The Spirit" make a mockery of these, but that's the look they've gone with. It is also true that not all scenes have reference level sharpness and HD image quality. But very few films 'pop' constantly as it gets boring, and with the aesthetic choices made the film has a very good share of stupendous image quality
Audio quality is very good (5.1 True HD) with dialogue and effects well balanced, although some late scenes are significantly louder than earlier ones (and I mean comparing action scenes with action scenes); again, a directorial choice no doubt.
In "The Matrix Reloaded" the picture quality is maybe slightly better, the audio a touch more forceful (although the actual music is not as good as in "The Matrix". For me, "Revolutions" is on the same BD level as Part II. But on balance, the boxset is a very good HD release at a crazily cheap price, and it does not deserve the false criticism of its supposedly sub BD-level standard.
The films themselves were interesting to see again after what, for me, was quite a long term. The original is magnificent as ever, and I found the second installment much less disappointing than back at the time of release. If you mentally prepare in advance for the wilfully tedious scenes with "The Merovingian" and "The Architect" then you realise that the film is actually a pretty good sequel, and not the disaster it seemed back then. The party scene in Zion is also fairly dull and overlong, but otherwise much better than I remembered. And even if the ending of "Revolutions" is not very satisfying, it remains my second favourite Matrix film, and as Mr Anderson loved to say, perhaps the way it is was "inevitable".
For just over a fiver a disc, you cannot go wrong. These are not upscaled DVDs, they are very good BD transfers. Free your mind!