“The Matrix Revisited” should be seen as both an affront and a gift to the die-hard cyber-geeks and geekettes that elevated the 1999 smash from simple franchise fare to a kind of erstwhile religous experience. With both the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the death of co-star Aaliyah slowing the production on two “Matrix” sequels, Warner Bros. throws fans a bone with this all-new documentary loaded with goodies, previews and interviews galore. While it does seem like a cheap attempt to squeeze even more money out of fans who may be forced to wait for years for the return of the Nebuchadnezzar, “Revisited” is so informative and entertaining that any true fan would be remiss to skip it.
While your gut reaction may be to simply re-watch the supplements on the original “Matrix” DVD and save yourself $15, the carrot is dangling just a little too close. The documenatry itself is fantastic, following the film from conception through the intense training of the actors to the weird cult-like following Neo and his compadres accquired via the Internet. The feeling of overwhelming dorkiness you incur while learning how bullet-vision was conceived will be eradicated once you see a creepy Midwest housewife”s dead-eyed stare into the camera, claiming that she sometimes feels as if she is in the Matrix herself.
The high-point of both the documentary and the extra material comes in the compact form of Yuen Woo-Ping, the martial arts auteur who choreographed “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and nearly every other cool Hong Kong actioner to come about in the past 10 years. Yuen, who cannot speak English, struggles to find nice things to say about each of the lead actors, but can came up with nothing more interesting to say about lead Keanu Reeves than “he tries very hard.”
Also of interest are his personal blocking tapes, showing real martial artists performing the scenes later made famous by Reeves and Laurence Fishburne. Yuen solidifies his reputation as a master by turning the put-upon actors into balletic fighters, equally adept at wire-work and pulling punches.
Other behind the scenes highlights include a detailed deconstruction of the subway fight between Reeves” Neo and Hugo Weaving”s Agent Smith, complete with shattering concrete and a near-dead stuntman. The afore-mentioned bullet-vision and its origins are shown in great detail, as are several back-up plans that would have been employed had the newer technology been a disaster.
The Wachowski brothers, the co-directors/creators of the series come across, both in their talking-head interviews and in footage taken from the set, as zen-master comic nerds who quote Khamu as they comment on what kind of gleam they want off of actress Carrie-Anne Moss”s latex jumpsuit. Instead of bringing clarity to the Matrix, the brothers” minds seem to open up to reveal its vastness. Confusion and awe are compounded by the intricate story-boards and maddening set designs that the Wachowskis lackadaisically demand of their underlings. It”s amusing to watch these comic-shop flunkies helm an $80-million project, and ber-producer Joel Silver pretend that he and the studio always had the utmost faith in them.
The disc also includes a look at the new Animatrix, a series of Anime cartoons avalible on the Internet by acclaimed artists, including the minds behind cult classic “Vampire Hunter D.” The cartoons take the mere idea behind “The Matrix,” and use it as a seed to create new characters and universes. Add a behind-the-scenes look at “The Matrix” sequels, a few easy-to-find Easter Eggs and plenty of sexy shots of Moss in a harness kicking ass, and you”ve got yourself quite a little DVD.
So Warner Bros. accomplishes what they set out to do, make a new disc with enough depth to appease the crazed fanboys, but also one easy to understand and enjoyable to the casual fan who wants to take another look down the rabbit hole.