In early 1999, “The Matrix” amazed and thrilled audiences with its remarkable special effects, interesting story and fascinating visuals. Much really hadn’t been said or heard about the film early in production, then more and more details and images from the production came out and the excitement built. A series of marvelously edited and powerful trailers were the first elements to hook audience’s interest – by the time of release, the excitement of the film’s release had built to an exceptional level, but not quite to the point of the kind of hype that will overpower a film’s possibility for success in the way that “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” ran into.
The film’s success and continuing box office run after its release not only opened the doors to two sequels for the picture (which are currently in production), but influenced quite a number of action films that came after (most of which, like “The One”, pale in comparison). It’s now been quite some time since “The Matrix” really hit audiences and Warner Brothers has obviously felt the need to pull audiences back into the “Matrix” stories and give fans something to hold them over at least somewhat until the release of the sequel – hence, “The Matrix: Revisited”, a 120 minute documentary about the making of “The Matrix”.
The documentary mainly revolves around interviews with those involved: directors The Wachowski Brothers, ace cinematographer Bill Pope, editor Zach Staenberg, legendary (rightly so) fight choreographer Yuen Wo Ping, producer Joel Silver, actors Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie Anne-Moss and other members of the film’s cast and crew. The documentary mainly revolves around the first picture – for those who are hoping to see some sneak peeks of the second picture, there really aren’t many. “Revisited” revolves almost entirely around the production of the first picture, as we hear from many of the crew members, who discuss their roles in the film’s production – such as costumes, sets, visual effects and other elements. Most of the detailed production interviews are quite informative and interesting; yet, there are moments that talk about the story (Reeves often discusses it in his interviews) or how great everyone was that offer less insight. These moments are brief and mainly at the begining of the documentary.
While much of the documentary offers interviews from around the set and in offices, there are also some terrific behind-the-scenes clips, showing the actors in serious physical preparation for their fight sequences and some clips of the production at work in Australia. The documentary gets more enjoyable in the second half, as we see more about the making of the film and some of the obstacles that had to be faced (Reeves’ physical problems as the production began) and in-depth footage of how some of the film’s biggest stunts were achieved.
I think there was some concern over this release and what it would contain (I didn’t even know that the main piece that was going to be included was this two-hour documentary. Overall though, I was very pleased. I didn’t feel this was just some “promotional” piece, but a well-crafted and often very informative two-hour documentary about the film’s journey from pre-production to final film.
VIDEO: The documentary is presented in 1.33:1 full-frame, while the clips of the movie throughout are presented in 2.35:1 widescreen. The quality of the image is generally excellent, as the image remained sharp and detailed throughout the entire program, with only a few minor instances of shimmer to take away from the image. Colors remained bold and vibrant throughout, with no concerns.
SOUND: The documentary is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, but there’s really little for the surrounds to do but lightly reinforce the music. The interviews are the focus and the discussions of those on-screen remained clear and easily understood.
MENUS: Slightly animated, with background music and film-themed images.
What Is To Come?: While there was some discussion at the end of the main documentary, this section actually offers some production footage of the sequel and slight discussion of what you might see. At a little less than 3 minutes, it doesn’t offer more than a glimpse.
What is the Animatrix?: A short documentary discussing the planned animated “Matrix” stories. The head animators, as well as producer Joel Silver, are interviewed.
Whatisthematrix.com?: A short featurette where producer Joel Silver discusses what is included on the “Matrix” website and how the material was produced.
The Dance of the Master: This section allows the viewer to watch fight choreographer Yuen Wo-Ping’s blocking tapes as the film’s fight sequences are planned out. 5 min – 39 sec.
The True Followers: A short featurette about the film’s internet fans. A bit strange.
Bathroom Fight: A smaller documentary about the preparations for the bathroom fight sequence.
But Wait, There’s More: Additional random clips of the production at work, cut together into a short featurette.
Final Thoughts: While I wouldn’t say that “The Matrix Revisited” isn’t without a few minor slow moments, I thought the majority of the documentary and the extra features were well-crafted, informative and entertaining – the entire package provides substance and isn’t something “promotional”. Priced at $19.99 ($14.99 at most places is likely), this is a nicely done package that fans of the film should consider taking a look at. Note: there is also a “2 pack” now available with the “Matrix” and “Matrix: Revisited” DVDs together.