For the 20th anniversary of THE MATRIX, Dolby Cinema has done an upgrade on the groundbreaking film. The movie has been converted to Dolby Atmos surround sound, which has the ability to process over a hundred channels of sound that move with the action, and Dolby Vision, which from what their website says has a million to one contrast ratio and twice the brightness of standard screens. Dolby equipped theatres are located mostly in the AMC chain and that’s where I was treated to a screening of THE MATRIX earlier this week.
I am a pretty good person to send to review this screening itself as I am a fan of restorations, usually 4K, and a confirmed midnight screening connoisseur where the projectionists usually let the sound rip because that’s what late night audiences want.
I’ll just go into this saying that if you are a fan of THE MATRIX and you’ve never seen it on the big screen, this week long window – starting on August 30th with a well done enhancement, is worth your time. Even if you’re not a rabid Matrix fanatic, if you are just a fan of cinema, it’s not a bad idea to go either.
First of all, the sound: there’s a lot of incredibly loud noises (LOUD NOISES!!) in this movie and while I could feel the boom of the sound in the seats, I did not suffer from ear discomfort afterwards. So while the sound delivered on all levels, impact and meaning, it didn’t hurt me to be in the theatre. The quiet parts, yes, there are some, were very quiet. The sound had depth and moved with the action which was incredibly helpful in doing the most important part of a movie’s job, involving the viewer.
The restoration of the visuals was a real treat. I have a thing that I do when I watch restorations or movies shot in high definition digital. When the image is so crisp that the even the smallest details are so easily seen, I have been known to count the pores in an actor’s nose. I was able to do this with The Mute and with The New York Ripper. With this version of THE MATRIX, the darks were velvety, the brights were equally as velvety smooth and I was surprised to see Keanu Reeves nose hairs peeping out of his right nostril at one critical juncture. The mint green tinge over the TV set of reality is a delicate and beautiful detail in addition to the nostril hair. While there are moments when the action is so frenetic that things are a bit blurry, I think that is an issue with the motion and the ability of the cameras of the time period to capture it, rather than Dolby Vision itself.
This restoration of THE MATRIX is rewarding and not just a money grab. I’ve never seen THE MATRIX look this good and it was an amazing achievement when it was released. If you love the movie or cinema itself, you owe yourself this kind of treat.