The Matrix 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
Arguably the most original and innovative action sci-fi film in the last 25 years, THE MATRIX debuted in 1999 to rave reviews and adoration. Keanu Reeves was already a star, but his habit of trying out wacky, outside-the-box roles finally paid off in a big way and launched The Wachowskis into the national spotlight. Nearly 20 years later, the movie is still fantastic and although the slow-mo bullet action has been used exhaustively since then, it hasn’t been done nearly as well.
There’s so much to love about THE MATRIX, but for me it’s the grittiness of the film, especially in the beginning. The settings are mostly confined and The Wachowskis stick to the blacks and grays to show the grim nature of the real world. The use of CGI is amazing and was groundbreaking in 1999, but I like the scenes that keep the CGI to a minimum. There’s a human element in The Matrix that comes through exceptionally well, thanks in large part to the grounded budget.
Despite looking cool, there are no polished heroes in THE MATRIX; these are just normal people that have inexplicably found themselves in a mind-bogglingly crazy situation. Neo might be a computer genius, but he’s humble and sticks to the shadows as the world passes around him. Keanu Reeves had already perfected his “whoa” schtick in movies like POINT BREAK and SPEED, but with THE MATRIX, it works perfectly because Neo spends most of the movie in awe of everything he’s learning and seeing. Throw in a super-cool Laurence Fishburne, a subtle but sexy Carrie-Anne Moss and a villainous Hugo Weaving and the cast clicks to perfection.
In 1999, the most surprising thing was the expert direction of The Wachowskis. They created such an intriguing and interesting world that was ripe for sequels. Although I think the sequels have actually gotten better over time, it’s still surprising to see how far they deviated from the grittiness of the original. Despite the over the top visuals and electronic-heavy-metal music, THE MATRIX surprisingly feels low key, sticking to the basics and keeping the settings grounded. Perhaps that’s what happens when you limit brilliant creative minds to $60 million as opposed to the $150 million they received for each sequel.
I’ve seen the movie dozens of times, but even to this day, THE MATRIX is exciting and fast paced. I know what’s coming and when, but getting there is still a blast. And it somehow still feels almost as refreshing and original as it did 20 years ago. That’s a credit to what The Wachowskis were able to accomplish.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: THE MATRIX has always been a must-own movie in every format it has been on, but the 4K UHD has outdone itself. I love that Warner Bros. respects their properties so much and they know that THE MATRIX has its legions of fans that will show up in droves to purchase the film again if it’s a worthwhile upgrade. And this one is definitely worth the upgrade. WB involved the original director of photography in the transfer process and the result is a presentation that holds true to the original vision while taking advantage of the available technology. The original Blu-ray wasn’t without its flaws and the 4K manages to fix everything. Gone is the overuse of the green tint, which I honestly thought was supposed to be there since I couldn’t remember seeing the film without it. But now things look more “normal” in the sense that colors are more defined and details are clearer. Seeing it this clear and with this many colors has almost changed my take on the film, giving me a new respect to the Wachowski’s use of color and shading to tell their story. I don’t know if the sequels will get this much time and care, but I’m thankful the original got the five star treatment.
Audio: Adding to the spoils is an incredible Dolby Atmos track. The shootout in the lobby was always my go-to scene to show off my system several years ago, when Blu-ray first came out and now that same scene might be used to show off my system on 4K. This movie was made for a track like this and it’s incredible.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
There are no special features exclusive to the 4K, but it does include a Blu-ray of the film, which includes ll of the special features found on the original Blu-ray release.