I think I may have been alone in my assessment of "The
Unlike almost every other geek on the planet, I actually
liked the climactic installment of the Wachowski Brothers' gnostic-punk epic.
I even liked it better than "Reloaded,"
despite the fact that my loud declaration of that opinion resulted in even "Matrix"
fan boys coming after me with pitchforks and torches. Let's just say that my
review proved... controversial.
The one thing that there should be absolutely no controversy about, though,
is the relative quality of the DVD releases for the "Matrix" sequels. Sure,
go ahead and think that the Wachowskis have destroyed all that was good and
wholesome in cyberpunk wire-fu movies with their sequels. But it's fact as plain
as the stunned-mullet look on Keanu's face that the DVD of "Revolutions" is
far superior to the DVD of "Reloaded." I'd even go so far as to say that it's
the best DVD version of ANY "Matrix" movie, and overall it's second only to
the brilliant and extras-packed "Animatrix"
The lackluster "Reloaded"
for those who may not remember (or who make a habit of skipping my
"Matrix" reviews), contained short documentaries on two of that film's big action
setpieces, the surprisingly funny parody from the MTV Movie Awards, and a slew
of useless trailers. The "Revolutions" disc redeems the Wachowskis at least
somewhat, since it contains a HELL of a lot more goodies. For starters, the
"Revolutions" DVD contains more and longer documentaries that focus on the SFX
as a whole rather than isolated flashy bits. Even better, the documentaries
feature the return of the "Follow the White Rabbit" extra from the DVD of the
first movie, where at random times as you're watching the feature a small white
rabbit flashes onscreen, and if you're fast enough in clicking on it you get
taken to a special expanded minidocumentary focusing on whatever particular
bit of SFX magic was being propounded on in the regular documentary.
And that's just the beginning of the goodies on this DVD. There is a huge stills
gallery, tracing the evolution of world and mecha designs from Geoff Darrow's
intricate initial sketches to intermediate renderings to the final finished
look of the film. There is a triple-screen version of the big showdown between
Neo and Agent Smith that lets you see the storyboards, animatics, and final
version of that scene all at once, and you can zoom in to focus on any of those
three at will. There is an interactive timeline of the Matrix world, going from
the B1-66ER trial (as seen in "The Second Renaissance" on the "Animatrix" DVD)
up to the final events of "Reloaded." There's even a short and fluffy but still
rather informative documentary about the "Matrix Online" massively-multiplayer
online RPG that goes into some rather drool-inducing detail about how the game
will work, what players can do in it, and how the storyline of the "Matrix"
movies is continued in it.
Of course, this DVD isn't quite perfect. There's still the mysterious lack of
any kind of commentary track (at least the first "Matrix" had a commentary track
on its DVD, however sucky and pointless it was). And, to be fair, this DVD does
contain a full copy of "Matrix Revolutions" on it.
But aside from all that, the "Revolutions" DVD is the best way to experience
the movie short of catching it at an IMAX theater. Maybe it's not quite enough
to turn around those who hated the "Matrix" sequels (I don't think there's any
hope for them). But if you were ambivalent about "Revolutions" in the theater,
then the presentation and the extras and the exhaustive behind-the-scenes peeks
contained on DVD just may be enough to tip you over to the favorable side.