Matrix Resurrections, The (4K UHD Review)
2021 (March 8, 2022)
Village Roadshow / Venus Castina Productions (Warner Bros. Pictures)
- Film/program category: C+
- Video Note: A+
- Audio quality: A-
- Additional Rank: B-
In many ways, The Matrix Resurrections is both a sequel and a reboot. As the film opens in San Francisco, we meet an older Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves), the current developer of a hit video game series called The matrix. It seems fame and fortune have left Thomas jaded and dissatisfied, numbed by the pills his analyst (Neil Patrick Harris) prescribes for him to treat his difficulties in sorting dreams from reality. But when Thomas sees a woman in his local cafe – who looks like one of the main characters from his video games – he becomes obsessed with figuring out who she is. Turns out her name is Tiffany, a married mother of two and an unlikely motorcycle builder. But it’s not until a strange young hacker named Bugs (Jessica Henwich) finds him in a dark moment that Thomas begins to learn the truth: The matrix is not a game, it is reality. He’s not its programmer, he’s Neo, somehow risen from the dead and still trapped within it. And the key to the whole mystery is Tiffany – who is actually Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) – also resurrected and trapped in the system, still so close but still beyond her reach.
The idea of resurrecting the characters of Neo and Trinity, and continuing their story, was driven by Lana Wachowski’s personal experiences in the years since the original. Matrix Trilogy has been freed. Warner Bros. had tried for years to bring Lana and her sister Lilly (formerly Larry and Andy) back into this franchise, but it wasn’t until the two Wachowskis transitioned and subsequently lost their parents that Lana felt the need to to bring the characters back (Lilly chose not to be involved). Lana’s reasons were twofold; first, it was a heartwarming way to process her grief, but it was also a way for her to process the impact that making the previous films had on her life. The resulting story is a “meta” construct, in which the world Thomas finds himself in is analogous to Lilly’s own experiences. It’s smart and as good a reason as any to create something new. Unfortunately, the in the world the rationale for this story’s existence is a bit tenuous, more intellectually interesting than emotionally resonant. That’s a problem, considering it’s supposed to be a love story. Plus, the story itself feels like a “greatest hits” collection of beats from previous movies. Nonetheless, the comeback leads are pretty good, the supporting cast of mostly newcomers is mostly solid (though Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving are sorely lacking), and the cinematography is a nice visual evolution from the artifice. tinged with green from the previous trilogy.
The Matrix Resurrections was digitally captured by cinematographers Daniele Massaccesi and John Toll in the Redcode RAW codec (at 6K and 8K) using Red Komodo, Red Monstro and Red Ranger cameras with Panavision Panaspeed lenses. The film was then finished as a native 4K digital intermediate in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio. For its Ultra HD release, Warner Bros. features the movie rated for high dynamic range with Dolby Vision and HDR10 options available. They also had the good sense to release this film on triple-layered BD-100 discs to allow for less compression and the highest possible video and audio data rates that this format has to offer. The result is nothing short of spectacular. The picture is crisp, clean and highly cinematic, with plenty of fine detail and refined texture. The brightest areas of the frame are just reactive to the eyes, while the shadows are deeply black, but pleasing detail is retained at both ends. The colors are bold and precise – much more naturalistic in this film than the more stylized and oppressive look of the previous trilogy. Lighting is also more directional, with plenty of highlights, background fills, and more use of natural sunlight in outdoor scenes, all of which work with 10-bit and 12-bit color depth and the high data rate to create a magnificent sense of depth in the image. This is a reference quality 4K image.
The first English audio mix of the film, presented here in Dolby Atmos format, is also very good, but not quite reference quality. Clarity is excellent, to be sure, with clear dialogue and nuanced staging of objects and sound sources around the listening space. Motion is smooth and natural, and the overall scene is medium-width and immersive, with a nice airy finish in the height channels. But the mix is not as aggressive and muscular as one would like, especially compared to previous films in 4K (reviewed here, here, and here on The pieces back in 2018). Dynamic range is still nice, but the mix is noticeably less bombastic. (Although it’s also fair to say that there are simply fewer action sequences in this film than in previous entries – and when the action Is come into play, the bluster is still very satisfying.) Meanwhile, the score – this time from composers Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykwer – is less showy and more subtle than Don Davis’ work on previous films. Corn Resurrections definitely deserves points for a use of Jefferson Airplane’s 1967 hit single White Rabbit it’s so clever it’s hard to believe they waited for the fourth movie in this series to include it. Additional sound mixes include English Descriptive Audio (US and UK), German and Italian Dolby Atmos, English, German, French, Spanish and Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 and German Audio Description, with subtitles. optional titles available in English for the deaf and hard of hearing, French, German for the hard of hearing, Italian for the deaf, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish.
There are no extras on Warner’s 4K disc, but the package also includes the film in 1080p HD on a Blu-ray which adds the following features:
- No one can know what the Matrix is (HD – 8:52)
- Resurrect the Matrix (HD – 30:44)
- Neo x Trinity: Return to the Matrix (HD – 8:16)
- Allies + Adversaries: The Matrix Remixed (HD – 8:27)
- Matrix 4 Life (HD – 6:19)
- I still know Kung Fu (HD – 4:56)
- Matrix reactions: echo opening (HD – 5:34)
- Matrix Reactions: Deus Machina (HD – 4:45)
- Matrix Reactions: Welcome to IO (HD – 5:17)
- Matrix Reactions: Morpheus vs. Neo (HD – 4:00)
- Matrix Reactions: Exile Battle (HD – 5:20)
- The Matrix Reactions: Neo vs. Smith (HD – 4:11)
- Matrix Reactions: Bullet Time Redux (HD – 4:34)
- Matrix Reactions: The Pursuit of San Fran (HD – 7:32)
- Matrix Reactions: San Fran’s Leap (HD – 7:56)
Some of these featurettes are pretty good, while others are more superficial and promotional. Resurrect the Matrix, Neo x Trinityand Allies + Opponents are the best of the lot, offering eye-opening insights into why Lana returned to the franchise, the cast’s views on what the characters mean to them, and various perspectives from the crew. No one can know what the Matrix is is fascinating for a more unexpected reason; the actors are each asked to summarize the plot of the previous Matrix movies and… well, the results are pretty fun. Matrix reactions the clips are short behind-the-scenes glimpses of the production itself, focusing on the making of key scenes, sequences and stunts. Unfortunately, there’s no audio commentary here, but you do at least get a Movies Anywhere Digital code on a paper insert.
While The Matrix Resurrections is in many ways a better and leaner movie than either The Matrix Reloaded Where The matrix revolutions, it feels more elective than truly vital or necessary. But if you liked the original trilogy, it’s still nice to revisit this universe for a while. The film certainly leaves Neo and Trinity in a more positive place. And Warner’s Ultra HD version definitely delivers a reference-quality viewing experience. It is therefore recommended, if only for diehards and 4K enthusiasts.
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