Matrix Revolutions picks up exactly where Matrix Reloaded left off, and it’s considerably rough going for the film’s first half. Neo (Keanu Reeves) is now lost in the limbo between Zion and the matrix, befriending computer programs disguised as a Hindi family and butting heads with the inconsequential Trainman (Bruce Spence), a minion of Lambert Wilson’s insufferable, olive-munching Merovingian. (Persephone fans be warned: Monica Bellucci really is just window-dressing this time around.) Neo and the gang go through the same spiritual motions (“If I’m not me, then who am I?” says the messiah. Zzzzzzzz) and still have to attend the occasional Zhaka Zulu tribal meeting, but the good news is that the film’s bogus philosophical philandering is considerably top-heavy (and that the techno music has been replaced with deliriously over-the-top Gregorian chants). Mostly relegated to the film’s first half, Andy and Larry Wachowski’s trite believe-in-me-or-not free will hokum quickly dissipates; the reason the film’s two limbo-land battles (Neo versus the Trainman and, then, Neo versus an Agent Smith in-disguise) work so well is because the directors don’t spell out the details of whatever glitch pits purgatory beings against each other. Unlike its bloated predecessor, Matrix Revolutions actually has a heart, which is sure to disappoint fans of the franchise expecting to spend extra time inside the matrix. Make no mistake: Matrix Revolutions is really nothing more than a glorified shooting game, a Metroid megaland with Oedipus, err, Christ, err, Neo on his way to conduct business with Mother Brain. But it’s a pretty exciting shooting game at that, perhaps because there’s a touching human drama that plays out beneath the glorious storm of sentinels and constant gunfire that overwhelms Zion. “You did it,” says Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) to woman-warrior Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith). “No, we did it,” she replies. Indeed, the battle to save Zion is a collective effort, and though The Kid (Clayton Watson) and Zee (Nona Gaye) aren’t exactly dynamic figures (let alone fully-fleshed characters), their struggle to defend a civilization on the brink of collapse is both fierce and unmistakably sweet. I still don’t buy Neo and Trinity as lovers (what do they really have in common besides the same slick-backed hairdos and penchant for designer eyewear?) and the Wachowskis lay on the spiritual allegory thick, but the film’s fragile, better-than-here hopefulness is genuinely unsettling. This feeling is so simply and beautifully evoked in Trinity’s all-too-brief view of a better tomorrow above the film’s robot city that everything that follows is a mere afterthought.
If you don’t remember what we said about Matrix Reloaded when it came out on DVD last October, please click here. The very same thing applies this time around.
Besides the film, check out teaser trailers for The Matrix, Matrix Reloaded, The Animatrix and the theatrical trailer for Matrix Revolutions on disc one. An impressive collection of supplemental materials highlights the second disc, but haven’t we seen them all before? If you shoot two films back-to-back, expect the actors to say the same things on the DVD. As such, the only difference between "Revolutions Recalibrated" and "Preload: Get Behind the Scenes" is that the cutaways are to their respective film’s fight sequences. "CG Revolutions" is an ode to the green screen wizardry of the film and its "804 CG shots with live integration." Even better is the "Before the Revolution" timeline (even though I had a hard time figuring out how to get out of it-though I suppose that’s rather fitting in this case) and "Super Burly Brawl," an awesome behind-the-scenes screen comparison of the final Neo/Smith showdown. Rounding out the disc is the throwaway "Future Gamer: The Matrix Online," three eye-candy stills galleries, a collection of weblinks and a four-part "Operator" section (not advertised on the back of the DVD) that explores different FX/philosophical mantras from the film from the perspective of different characters.
I’ll say it again: Isn’t this more or less a teaser for the inevitable DVD package containing all three films?