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movies > the matrix: reloaded

the matrix: reloaded

VIDEO: "The Matrix Reloaded" is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The transfer is simply stunning, possibly aided by the fact that all of the extra material is located on a second disc, leaving the film by itself on a dual-layer disc. Sharpness and detail are exceptional - definition throughout is consistent and remarkable, with fine details nearly always clearly present.

Flaws? Well, there really aren't many, if any. A tiny bit of edge enhancement was spotted a couple times, but it was so minor and brief that the couple of instances are hardly worth mentioning. The print is in pristine condition, with not a speck or mark on it. No compression artifacts were noticed, either.

The film's unique greenish/bluish color palette is quite perfectly portrayed here, with no concerns. Black level remained rock solid, while flesh tones appeared accurate. This is certainly a first-rate transfer that will impress many.

SOUND: "The Matrix Reloaded" is presented by Warner Brothers in Dolby Digital 5.1. Since the three "Matrix" features share the same sound designer (Dane Davis, who has worked on such films as "Swordfish" and "Treasure Planet"), one can be assured that all three films share the same "vision" when it comes to the sound design. Viewers of the first film will be familiar with some of the "signature" sound effects, too.

However, "Reloaded" is certainly a much bigger, bolder experience sound-wise than the award-winning soundtrack of first film. Surrounds are put into play much more frequently and maintain a near-constant presence throughout the picture. With more action this time around, there's plenty of instances where sound effects pan around the room or ping between speakers. In fact, I appreciated hearing the film's soundtrack in the close-up environment of a home theater to hear some of the sound work that I'd missed in a large auditorium, such as the word "inevitable" coming from all sides when the multiple Agent Smiths pile on Neo during the fight.

Sound quality is certainly what one would expect; strong, deep bass accompanies both much of the sound effects and Don Davis' score. Dialogue remained clear and easily understood throughout, with all the elements well-balanced in the mix. Certainly, "Reloaded" will have an easy time becoming the new sound demo for many home theater owners.

EXTRAS: The extras in the set are included on a single-layered second disc. There is no commentary, although I suppose that's to be expected, given the fact that directors the Wachowski Brothers have expressed their desire to not explain the films, they were probably working on completion of the third film and, well, response to the somewhat sparse commentary on the first film's DVD wasn't too positive. I'd also like to thank Warner Brothers for making straightforward menus. A few studios lately have been making needlessly multi-layered/multi-leveled/plain complex menus, and this certainly could have been one of those instances.

Preloaded: This is a fairly ordinary 22-minute "making of" that does finally get going a little further into the documentary. It starts off with the obvious - all involved talk about how they signed-on happily (well, duh.) and how great it was returning to make the second feature. After all the "happy talk" is out of the way, the documentary finally starts to go into detail about the fight training that the actors had to undergo before production. After that, the piece touches on the visual effects work, storyboarding and costume design.

Matrix Unfolded: A brief, 5-minute featurette that gives a "Matrix" overview, including information on the videogame and "Animatrix" features.

Highway Chase: Clearly far-and-away the best supplement on the disc, this thirty-minute documentary follows the Wachowski brothers and the film's crew through production on the film's famed highway chase sequence. We get interviews with the visual effects supervisors, the stunt coordinators and even are taken through aspects of pre-production and planning for the scene. Then the documentary moves into production, the scariest aspect of which is certainly Carrie Anne-Moss trying to learn to ride a motorcycle good enough to do so safely without helmet for the scene. We also watch as the stretch of freeway used in the film is being built (they couldn't find a usable stretch of freeway in the US that could be shut down for the film).

Give Me An Exit: Uh, the making of the phone and Poweraide drink ads. Seriously. That's all this is.

MTV Movie Awards: The parody - starring Sean William Scott, Wanda ("I'm the Oracle, dammit.") Sykes, Justin Timberlake and a brilliant Will Farrell - that opened the MTV Movie Awards this year. Uncensored version.

Also: Promo for "Animatrix" and brief featurette on the video game. No trailer.

Final Thoughts: Some gave "Reloaded" a mixed reception, but I found it to be an entertaining continuation of the "Matrix" trilogy. The performances are quite good and certainly, the remarkable visuals reflect the increased budget the sequels were working with. As for the DVD, the extras are somewhat lackluster (the "Highway Chase" documentary being the main highlight), but the audio/video quality for the film presentation is nothing short of outstanding. Recommended.

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