New Reviews
Django Unchained
Captain Corelli's Mandolin
Les Misérables
Chernobyl Diaries
The Cabin in the Woods

The Matrix (1999)

The Matrix Special Edition Collector’s Box Set DVD

The fight for the future begins

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 136 minutes

UK Certificate: 15


Before the machines rose, before we all realised there was “no spoon”, and before the crappy sequels, there was just ‘The Matrix’. It’s sometimes hard to believe it’s only four years old, given how swiftly the image of Keanu Reeves in that long black leather coat became embedded in modern day cinematic iconography. But is it really as good as it now seems universally acknowledged to be, or does the downright awfulness of the rest of the trilogy just make it seem that way?

Where we enter the story, Reeves is still “plugged in”, as it were. He’s Thomas Anderson, the slightly boring software writer. But he’s also Neo, the slightly boring computer hacker. He knows his life is incomplete in some way (perhaps he should try smiling sometimes?), but it’s not until he meets so-called terrorists Morpheus and Trinity (Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Ann Moss) that he realises just how right he is.

Without giving too much away, what unfolds is a battle for the future as Neo assists his new buddies in squaring up to a race of machines and virtual reality baddies who, unbeknownst to Joe Public, exercise outright control over the world as we know it. The sods.

‘The Matrix’ is one of those movies that’s so packed with info, action and minutiae that it’s worth spending the pennies on the DVD in order to see it over and over again. Unfortunately, whilst such repeated viewings will certainly allow a better understanding of Matrix philosophising, they might also bring about the gradual dawning that this film isn’t quite as superb as it first seemed. The final third veers disappointingly off into cliché, the characters are only marginally more human than their robotic foes, and taking the wooden Mr Reeves seriously is nigh-on impossible – regardless of how deadpan he is in his handling of the role.

Regardless, there’s plenty to enthuse over. The premise has the fresh originality many modern sci-fi outings tend to lack, there’s just the right amount of action to keep the plot moving along swiftly, and Hugo Weaving’s Agent Smith makes for a memorable baddie. The special effects, meanwhile, are arguably the best since Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park in the first half of the 90s.

It’s tough to predict whether the turgid sequels will make this original look better or worse in years to come, but right now it has to be one of the must-have DVDs for any collection.

It's Got: A couple of faces that long-standing viewers of the mighty ‘Home & Away’ may find strangely familiar (yes, the woman with the white rabbit on her shoulder IS that waitress from the Summer Bay diner).

It Needs: To give us a bit more of that explanation of de ja vu.

DVD Extras This bad boy is about as good as it gets on the DVD extras front. Before you’ve even popped the thing into your machine you get eight limited edition card prints, an original poster, and a collection of black and white photograph stills. Then there’s the special features, which include a host of documentaries, nine different behind-the-scenes segments, and a bunch of previews looking forward to the rubbishy sequels. And let’s not forget the interactive screenplay, info on web events, a look at the Matrix anime project, the mandatory trailers, and even some essays! Seriously, essays! As if anyone’s going to read them!! DVD Extras Rating: 10/10


Perhaps not as great as it first seemed, but still a cracker.