The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Reloaded’ DVD fails to fire on all cylinders

Tim Masterton | Tuesday, November 4, 2003

One billion dollars.

The first two installments of The Matrix have already grossed over a billion dollars, and with The Matrix Revolutions due out this Wednesday, Matrix fever is starting to spread again. The movie’s creators, brothers Larry and Andy Wachowski, have established an empire of merchandise, from video games to comic books, and are poised to make even more with the release of The Matrix Reloaded on DVD.

Reloaded picks up where the first film left off and is only half of the final chapter to this story. Rather unconventionally, Reloaded was released in May, leaving fans hanging for months with its huge cliffhanger ending – but that will soon be resolved with Revolutions.

The complex story of Reloaded makes that of the first film look relatively simple by comparison. Keanu Reeves is back as Neo, prophesized to be “The One” to save humans from destruction by the machines that have taken over both the world and the majority of humans’ bodies and minds. Reeves still retains his stone-cold delivery of lines, but who cares? It somehow works in this fascinating trilogy of movies. Back, too, are multiple philosophical and religious references, making this film appealing on many levels.

Like most other sequels, there are the typical bigger-and-better fights and action scenes. But very little about any of these films can be called typical. The revolutionary bullet-time camera techniques are used again in Reloaded to good effect when Neo flies, or, as one character notes, does “his Superman thing.” (Yes, now he can fly.)

The highlight of Reloaded is the one-of-a-kind car chase staged on a one-mile stretch of highway built especially for the movie. The mix of real stunts and computer-generated imagery provides a seamless end result that will keep anyone on the edge of his seat. Only so much can be said or written about it. You just need to see this scene for yourself.

Some Matrix fans have complained about a few seemingly unnecessary scenes, including those depicting the developing love between Neo and Trinity’s (Carrie-Anne Moss and one showing some sort of techno dance orgy that is too long and wholly excessive. Another fight scene between Neo and hundreds of agents drags on and ends when Neo flies away. Why didn’t he just do that in the first place? However, the film has very few major, glaring flaws.

The quality of the movie itself on DVD is outstanding. Although released as a two-disc set, don’t get the wrong idea. There isn’t much here beyond the film itself. Disc One features the film in its original widescreen format. The images are crisp, and the sound is phenomenal. Even though most students don’t have flat-screen TVs and surround sound in their dorm rooms, Reloaded is still worth a view. You will probably want to go back and watch that highway chase again and again.

Disc Two includes “an explosion of mind-freeing features,” or so the DVD case promises. Even though Reloaded will help you put off your homework, don’t waste your time on Disc Two. The only things worth watching are a “How They Did It” explaining the aforementioned chase and a parody entitled The MTV Movie Awards Reloaded, featuring a hilarious performance by Will Farrell as the film’s character, the architect. Unless French subtitles and Matrix-inspired advertising excite you, skip the rest of this disc.

Although some, myself included, may find some elements of Reloaded to complain about, it is overall a thrilling movie and a great showcase for cutting-edge film technology. It picks up where the first movie left off and sets the stage for the all-out war between man and machine to be concluded in theaters this Wednesday. Like any good entertainment should do, Reloaded succeeds in leaving the viewer wanting more.

Contact Tim Masterton at [email protected]