Warner Bros. has released the entire Matrix Trilogy on 4K UHD with new Dolby Vision / HDR transfers and Dolby Atmos hemispherical surround sound. Each film comes with its own set of bonus features which were featured on previous releases along with digital copies of each movie. It's one fantastic set and is great to revisit this amazing trilogy that tells the story of a guy named Neo who finds out the world he knows is not real. Once he awakens from that dream world, the reality is far worse. The philosophy and filmmaking behind this film was a milestone in cinema for its time and is still regarded as one of the finest achievements in the film industry. This is the best these films have ever looked and sounded. MUST-OWN.
In 1999, the Wachowski siblings gave the world a brand new and original movie called The Matrix, which was a huge box office success. It was a milestone in filmmaking really with brand new camera techniques and top-of-the-line action sequences that set this sci-fi action thriller apart from anything that came before it and influenced a generation of filmmakers after its release. The Matrix follows a reclusive hacker named Neo (Keanu Reeves) who wants to know the truth about the Matrix. He gets way more than he bargained for when he is awakened in the "real world" and finds out that giant machines have taken over and use humans as a source for their electric power and that The Matrix is just a faux simulated digital world which we all perceive as the real thing. A big war is brewing for sure between humans and machine. The philosophy and scientific realities and discussions in this movie are still talked about today with its deep meanings and perhaps a prelude to our own future. And one can't help but notice some similarities to Neo and DC Comic's Superman. The Matrix is a fantastic film still to this day and changed the way movies are watched and made all these years later.
The Matrix Reloaded
From the success of The Matrix, The Wachowski siblings made two sequels back-to-back and released them few months apart from each other in 2003. With a giant budget and an overly long running time, the two sequels weren't well received at the time. It was that fact in addition to focusing more on actions sequences than furthering the mythos of the Matrix and how it became to be. The sequel titled The Matrix Reloaded shows the last human civilization called Zion, which is held in an underground cave-like place where the evil sentinel machines are trying to destroy all life. Meanwhile, Neo is honing in on his super abilities to live up to being the "chosen one", while trying to fight an army of Agent Smiths at every turn. Coming back to this film fifteen years later, I found more at work underneath all of the big car chases and fight scenes as Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus finally start realizing what they're meant to do and be. It's a fantastic sequel that is still fun to watch.
The Matrix Revolutions
Revolutions picks up right where Reloaded left off, where Neo figured out he can destroy machines with his mind in the real world, but put him in a coma. At the same time, Agent Smith transferred to the real world in a human host body. From here, there are two big story arcs that culminate in this third and final film. One of them is the attack on Zion while the other follows Neo in his quest to save the real world. Revisiting this movie after fifteen years, I found depth in each scene giving new life to these characters and story. When Neo realizes he no longer has to resist or fight, perhaps from becoming blind, he can see more clearly that his future has already been laid out and he just has to play his part as told by the architect.
With this new sense of depth and emotion to the film after years have passed, each death and emotional moment resonates for me more today than it did back in 2003. Each character, both old and new, has their respective conclusion. The two big action sequences still look unbelievably good, being the attack on Zion and Neo vs. Agent Smith in a legendary battle in the sky. Each piece of dialogue and physical punch is earned and felt here and we finally get to know why with Revolutions. The Wachowskis left the franchise open for more films and let's hope we see them very soon because I don't think this story is done yet, but with Revolutions, it's a satisfying end to one the great trilogies in cinema.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
The Matrix Trilogy comes with all three films, including the 4K Ultra HD Discs, Blu-ray Discs, Bonus Feature Discs, and 4K Digital Copies of each movie. Each film has it's own hard, black plastic case and sleeve, which all are encased in a hard cardboard glossy sleeve. The same artwork from the individual releases are in this set.
The Matrix (4.5 stars)
This 4K Blu-ray is the ultimate way to watch The Matrix. Perceivable resolution takes another step forward, revealing fine details in the costuming, actor faces, and production design. The film grain structure is also more prevalent, alluding to the movie's Super 35mm origins. Yet, despite these improvements, I couldn't help but notice that overall sharpness isn't always consistent. As an example, look at Chapter 13, which begins with a Neo-Morpheus conversation. Neo's clothing and Morpheus' face are crisp and detailed while Neo's face seems a touch waxy. Perhaps it's a depth of field issue in the original photography or perhaps some digital smoothing has been applied, I can't quite tell.
However, that's the only fault I found. Colors are bolder and more vivid, naturally -- look at the greens as we dive through computer screen numbers, the pure whites of the simulations, the deep blue skies, and the rich red tones of the TV in the scene where Morpheus reveals the post-apocalyptic truth to Neo. Contrast and shadow delineation are excellent as well; seriously, this disc might boast some of the inkiest black levels I've ever encountered in the HDR era. Black costumes cloaked in shadows cloaked in more shadows... except you can still see details in said shadows. There are no signs of banding or digital compression errors, and the visual effects work doesn't look any worse than the SDR Blu-ray (HDR + VFX can be problematic). In fact, some of the effects, most notably The Sentinels featured in the film's climax, remain convincingly, terrifyingly real.
It is worth noting that, for those with dimmer or entry-level HDR10-only TVs, you might consider using the standard Blu-ray because, without enough nits, the HDR10 grading may appear too dark (it's similar to Pacific Rim). In Dolby Vision, which uses dynamic metadata to make the image work with each TV's capabilities, this isn't a problem.
While I wouldn't call The Matrix 4K Blu-ray perfect, it's an impressive, obvious upgrade over both the original Blu-ray and the newly remastered one also included in this set.
The Matrix Reloaded (4.5 stars)
The sci-fi action sequel receives an awesome upgrade and new lease on life when being reloaded into the Ultra HD system. Equipped with a fantastic and occasionally stunning HEVC H.265 encode, which was struck from a reportedly fresh remaster of the original camera negatives and approved by cinematographer Bill Pope, the new 4K transfer boasts sharper definition and better clarity than its Blu-ray predecessor. Viewers can better make out the threading of the rough, coarse, gunny-sack-like clothing of the real world versus the elaborate stitching in the glossy latex outfits worn in the Matrix. The fine lines of ships, the pipes of the sewer system and intricate pieces of every machine are distinct while every object in the background is plainly visible.
Also, brightness levels enjoy a noteworthy boost, delivering significantly deeper and more velvety blacks, which are immediately apparent in the clothing and vehicles. Unfortunately, there a couple of times when they are so rich, they nearly reach the point of crushing the finer details of those aforementioned objects. Nevertheless, detailing remains strong in the silky midnight shadows showering the darkest, murkiest corners, providing the 2.39:1 image with appreciable dimensionality and a lovely cinematic appeal. Although Pope's heavily stylized cinematography noticeably restrains contrast, the 2160p video is considerably brighter, delivering sharply crisp and resplendent whites that push peak luminance without blooming or washing the finer aspects. In fact, specular highlights supply the edges of various metallic objects with a radiant, brilliant glisten while the brightest, hottest areas, like explosions or electrical surges, maintain extraordinary clarity and a sparkling, eye-popping glow.
Interestingly, given Pope's photographic style and the movie's history on home video, the heavy green filter fans have grown accustomed to has been toned down for UHD, which was also a surprising change in the first Matrix release from earlier this year. Frankly, the new look feels more faithful to what was originally seen in cinemas, which is not to say the green tint has been completely removed. The Dolby Vision presentation is still bathed in an emerald-shamrock greenish hue when inside the Matrix while the real world is a drab, grayish cold reality, and it maintains this look without also muting the other primaries, displaying radiant, deep reds and electrifying, animated blues throughout. Secondary hues can feel somewhat limited, at times. However, the picture is occasionally sprinkled with purple magentas and a few sparkles of pink, mostly in scenes set in Zion, while explosions dazzle the screen with spirited fiery oranges mixed with golden marigold yellows, and the highly revealing facial complexions appear rosier and more natural throughout.
The Matrix Revolutions (5.0 stars)
Much like the 4K releases of both The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded, this third and final Matrix film is simply magnificent with its new 2160p transfer with HDR and Dolby Vision. The Matrix Revolutions 4K transfer was supervised by cinematographer Bill Pope and Jan Yarbrough to give the best possible video presentation and they succeeded in every way. There's a certain color palette with this futuristic trilogy and the third one is no different, although it might be a bit more dynamic being the most recent. These are stylistic choices made by the Wachowski siblings and Bill Pope to give us a subtle sense of the real world and when we are in the Matrix world. When in the Matrix world, there are varying shades of green throughout. It's as if there are green filters everywhere, but with this new 4K UHD transfer in Dolby Vision and HDR, each set piece, prop and color are much more fluid and discernible. Interestingly enough, in The Matrix Revolutions, Neo is placed in limbo type area between the real world and the Matrix, one of them being a subway station.
If you notice on this new transfer, this subway station has a white color palette, but with the Dolby Vision, you'll be able to see the quiet shades of green in each tile, signifying the Matrix world. Similarly, in the final battle between Agent Smith and Neo, you'll notice the tall skyscrapers and various amounts of cars lines up on the street, which have an amber glow to them, but also have the slight greenish tint to every shine and reflection in the raindrops and windows. It's quite astonishing and not as blatant in the Blu-ray releases.
In the real world of Zion, everything has a blue hue or silver lining to it with heavy accents of red. It seems more realistic and not as polished. The different color palettes on the AI robots and machinery in Zion look exemplary as do the bright red eyes on each sentinel machine. The skin tones here too of all shades of white, brown, and black look excellent too.
The detail is even more enhanced with this 4K release as well, even with the heavy CGI work. You'll notice each raindrop fall from the sky as you will every pore and wrinkle on Agent Smith and Neo's face. The amount of detail in the heavy fighting machines and bullets that ravage each other in the final fight scene showcase every nick, scratch, and wound nicely. When you see the practical makeup effects of a bloodied soldier, you'll notice muscle tissue, bone, and even veins that are very distinguishable. Even the fight scene in the sky with lighting and clouds in the background have a ton of detail. There were no video issues of any kind with this video presentation and is a demo worthy, perfect picture.
NOTE: Warner Bros. defaults the audio track automatically to a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. You actually have to go in manually and click Dolby Atmos to get that Atmos sound. It's not a huge gripe, but a small pain none-the-less.
The Matrix (5.0 Stars)
Available on both the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and Blu-ray (thank you, Warners!), The Matrix roars to life with an intense, reference quality Atmos mix that's sure to test the accuracy of any Dolby Atmos home theater system or sound bar. The movie has been a go-to demo disc since the days of DVD, but this is a whole other level.
If any of you read my recent Gladiator and Braveheart 4K reviews, you may recall that I enjoyed those mixes, but felt they were holding back in terms of overhead immersion. The Matrix, by comparison, is foot-to-the-floor wide open throttle the whole time. And the best part? Because the movie oozes kinetic, mind-bending visuals, aggressive overhead and surround panning fits the aesthetic perfectly. Rain and thunder cascade from above. When the camera pushes into The Matrix, it feels like you're falling into another world. When the bullets slow down to super slow motion, it sounds like they're just missing you. We're talking Fury Road levels of hemispherical immersion, folks, and this sound mix is shiny and chrome on the road to Valhalla -- oh, what a day, what a lovely day!
LFE effects are also impressive, punctuating gunshots and explosions with heart-pounding grunt. Dialogue is clean and intelligible. Don Davis' pulsating score also surrounds the audience as it helps build the movie's sensations of tension, horror, and wonder. Everything sounds clean and dynamic and like it was recorded in 2018, not 1999. Honestly, if Warners can make an older mix sound this good, Disney should be embarrassed by their new releases.
If you have a Dolby Atmos sound system, you're going to love The Matrix.
The Matrix Reloaded (4.5 Stars)
Accompanying the awesome video is a sensational Dolby Atmos soundtrack that may not completely blow its Dolby TrueHD predecessor out of the water but offers plenty of noteworthy improvements for fans to enjoy. For much of the runtime, the design occupies the surrounds with a variety of effects discretely panning throughout the room, generating a highly satisfying 360° soundfield. The freeway chase sequence is a prime example where Trinity and the Key Maker race between speeding cars, and the honks and engines smoothly move from the front of the room to the back. And even Neo's fight in Merovingian's house nicely envelops the listening area with bits of debris and the ringing of weapons clanking with one another. Occasionally, some of those noises subtly echo into the overheads, but sadly, it's never on a consistent level to create an immersive hemispheric environ. Nevertheless, there are a couple of times worth admiring when atmospherics employ the ceiling channels effectively.
The lossless mix's greatest strength comes by way of an awesomely wide and expansive soundstage. The action and the many conversations, including the puzzlingly complicated dialogue with the Architect, is continuously kept busy and layered with tons of background activity that convincingly moves into the off-screen area. From beginning to end, imaging maintains a highly-engaging and spacious sense of presence with crystal-clear clarity in the mid-range, exhibiting room-penetrating highs during loud action sequences and lots of warmth in the mids in the quieter moments. At the same time, vocals are distinct and precise, never drowned out by the chaos left in the wake of Neo's search for answers. The low-end is about the same as its TrueHD counterpart, which is not a bad thing. Bass is powerfully robust and, at times, imposing in a few spots, providing the action and especially the techno music with a room-shaking weight.
The Matrix Revolutions (5.0 Stars)
To go along with the previous two films, this Dolby Atmos soundtrack is the best way to listen to this movie, because a big part of it is all of the unique sounds from all different planes and places. Your speaker system will get a full workout, and then some, with The Matrix Revolutions. Previous sound mixes sound excellent, but this Dolby Atmos track just upgrades each nuanced noise and makes the listening experience ten times better.
The two biggest sonic moments in the film are the two big battles that happen simultaneously. The first being the sentinel attack on Zion, which is chaotic, scary, and yet full of life. Each explosion in this large dome-like room just fills the soundscape up with a powerful low end of bass. There are literally millions of bullets flying by here and tons of large flying killer machines surrounding everyone, which the height speakers add that amazing and smooth transition from speaker to speaker. There will be many times you will look up to see if an actual sentinel is flying above you. The bullets all sound different and make clashing sounds on the different objects they hit, making for a unique sound design. Let's not forget the humans screaming and the machine's parts moving that all make sounds that can all be heard in each speaker, making for a fully immersive experience.
The other great sounding section is the battle between Agent Smith and Neo, which you'll hear the rain, thunder, and lightning strikes, but that's just the beginning. Every window break with glass falling to the ground and vehicle being smashed, you'll hear each individual noise that comes with this carnage. Then you have the multiple Agents talking with reverb and the punches that connect with a heavy snap of bass each time. It's incredible the amount of time and love that went into making this audio presentation. It's smooth, loud, and perfect for the Atmos setup. Don Davis' score always adds to the futuristic chaos in each scene that keeps things lively and suspenseful. Dialogue is always clear and easy to follow along with in the quieter moments, which gears us up for the impending doom and action.
This Dolby Atmos track is demo worthy too and a joy to listen to when you don't want to be quiet.
You can read about all the bonus features individually by heading HERE, but here they are all listed out in full.
The Matrix Reloaded
The Matrix Revolutions
If you're a fan of The Matrix, then this is the ultimate set to have. You get each film with new 4K Ultra HD transfers that were supervised by Bill Pope, new Dolby Atmos mixes, and most of the extras from past editions. However, The Animatrix along with a few other extras from previous editions such as The Burly Man Chronicles are nowhere to be found in this 4K UHD set.The final result is that this is these are the best video and audio presentations these movies have seen thus far. You also get the Blu-ray versions and digital copies with this set as well. A Must Own!