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DVD REVIEW

The Matrix

Packed With Features

By Jacob Beniflah

After amazing us with its special effects last year, The Matrix is back with a DVD release of the movie, jam-packed with special features.

The opening sequence of the DVD dives right into the action of the movie with a shot of Keanu Reeves (Neo) dodging bullets along with Laurence Fishburne (Morpheus) welcoming you to “the real world.”

The film itself is divided into 38 scenes that the viewer can skip through and is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 sound in widescreen format. The entire movie can be viewed with commentary from Carrie-Anne Moss (Trinity), John Gaeta (visual effects supervisor), and Zach Staenberg (editor) while the movie plays in the background softly. The commentary is informative and full of trivia, but is enjoyable to watch only if you are a huge fan of the movie. Also available is an option to watch the entire movie with only the soundtrack and commentary from Don Davis (composer). English is the only language available for dialogue and subtitles.

The special features section is what really sets The Matrix apart from other DVDs. This option offers the option to watch special documentaries on the making of the movie and read biographies of cast and crew. Featured biographies of cast members include: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith), and Joe Pantoliano (Cypher). The crew members include the Wachowski brothers (writers and directors) and Joel Silver (producer).

The first of the documentaries in the special features section is called “What is the Concept?” This 12-minute film shows various scenes of the movie from storyboard to composite models to actual footage, including the human hatchery, rebirth, and models of the ship. Another documentary is called “What is Bullet Time?” This movie spends over six minutes explaining how the slow motion scenes were filmed and why they were placed there. I enjoyed this documentary the most because it wasn’t too long and it revealed how some of the better scenes of the movie were made. Choosing “What is the Matrix?” will present a 25-minute production featurette filmed on location in Sydney, Australia. It includes interviews of the cast and crew and many film clips. It is well made, and even when it gets boring, you can always laugh at the Keanu Reeves interviews. Finally, you can choose an option to “Follow the White Rabbit,” which allows you to watch the movie and click on the white rabbit at various scenes to watch behind-the-scenes footage of that scene.

If you have exhausted all of the special features and you have a DVD player for your computer (PC only), you can access even more special features. Playing the DVD in a computer with supplied software will display a screen that shows two hands: one has a red pill and the other has a blue pill. The red pill leads to the computer-only content and the blue pill leads to the opening screen for DVD players.

“Are You the One?” is a trivia game you can play to determine if you are worthy of saving the world. The game is a series of questions from the movie with clips playing in the background to help you answer. Answer wrong, and the sentinels will swarm in. The game is fun to play a couple of times but has little replay value besides punting a problem set. “Event Listing” shows all the web-based events you can access with the DVD. The next scheduled event is November 6 at 9 p.m., and will be a simultaneous viewing of the movie coupled with a chat with the Wachowski brothers.

“Alternate Realities” features several articles about the movie from such publications as The New York Times and Time magazine. “Programmed Realities” has the entire screenplay available to read through, including storyboard sketches. Users can click on the storyboard to actually jump to that scene in the movie. Beneath this heading is “Do You Know Kung Fu?,” allowing the viewer to skip directly to six fight scenes in the movie. Finally, viewers can access the film’s website.

Overall, The Matrix DVD is an excellent addition to any DVD collection. The disc is full of enough special features to keep you busy well beyond viewing the movie several times. With DVD prices so low on the Internet, there is no reason not to buy it.