Almost twenty years after the original trilogy wrapped up, The Matrix was revived with the aptly titles The Matrix Resurrections. Because of the ongoing pandemic the launch wasn’t the cinema-only experience that happened with the first films, instead launching simultaneously on HBO Max as well for home viewing. It was one of the of most eagerly anticipated films during the holiday season, and now it’s out on 4K BluRay as well, offering excellent video, audio and a host of special features. Time for a closer look.
Opinions certainly were divided when The Matrix Resurrections launched, and so were the opinions on whether or not this was a sequel that was needed in terms of adding enough to the existing franchise. To a degree, that even echoed in the filmmaking process, as the Wachowski siblings didn’t both want to return for Resurrections, which was penned and directed by Lana Wachowski. We also think that a lot of that divisiveness came from familiar and beloved characters not returning with the actors we originally fell in love with. Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving’s Morpheus and Agent Smith return in new guises, and no amount of meta babble about the nature of The Matrix is able to make fans ignore that they just weren’t able to get the whole cast back. When Gloria Foster passed and was replaced as The Oracle, they made it work from a narrative point of view, but here the end result is less impactful as a result of the change.
Another reason why people were divided on the new film is that is felt too much like one of Neo’s déjà vu moments – a man called Thomas Anderson living in the “real” world and gradually realizing there’s another world and that this one’s just a virtual construct for his mind. Sound familiar? How to enter and exit that world has been updated to present times, with some spectacular scenes as a result, but ultimately Resurrections feels like you’re once again watching Neo follow the white rabbit and awaken to a different reality.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, and fans will notice plenty of fun nods to the original trilogy, with some unexpected returning characters in a world where sixty years have passed since the first film – a fact that no doubt will raise questions for viewers as well, as many will come away with unanswered questions, even after subsequent viewings. Anyway – the movie isn’t new at this point, but the 4K transfer is, so let’s focus on the audiovisual aspects.
The Matrix films were always visually captivating, and Resurrections is no exception. On the 4K disc, the digital effects look amazing, with exceptional clarity and detail levels that really push the envelope and make use of today’s higher resolutions. Deep black really make the iconic green effect pop from the screen, and in both close-ups and action sequences the detail is astounding. Explosive action sequences make especially good use of HDR technology, as do scenes with atmospheric lighting, of which Resurrections has plenty. We haven’t seen the 4K remasters of the original trilogy yet, but comparing Resurrections in 4K to the original trilogy releases makes those feel a little washed out in places, so it’s safe to say this is a great demo disc for a 4K setup.
The audio is just as impressive when using the included Dolby Atmos track, which is actually available in multiple languages on the disc (though we only tried the English dub). The Matrix Resurrections, like the other films in the series before it, is fantastic at using surround channels, and there’s a lot going on off-screen that’s delivered through audio – as well as action that thunders from the front to the back and from one side to the other. Dolby Atmos adds to that sensation by adding verticality into the mix as well – and a few scenes in particular are excellent showcases of where the visuals and audio complement one another in this sense.
But if you’ve already purchased/streamed The Matrix Resurrections when it launched, one of the bigger draws here will be the extras that come with the disc. You’ll find about two hours of extra material here, which is very decent for a first time release on disc. What’s also nice is that roughly half of that is connected to the older films and how and why they’re returning to the franchise, while the other half is typical “making of” stuff about Resurrections, with some behind the scenes footage as well as breakdowns of a few key scenes.
As divisive as the film may be, there’s no denying the appeal of IP, and even if you come away with complaints about what Resurrections is and could have been, it still feels like an essential watch for fans. The fact that the 4K version is audiovisually gorgeous and packed with a good amount of extras certainly helps in that regard, and the filmmaker insights will no doubt entice you towards a second and third viewing as well.