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The Matrix cover

Blu-ray Reviews: The Matrix

Not previously published
Last updated 7 April 2010

The Matrix
1999 - Roadshow Entertainment
Director: Andy Wachowski/Larry Wachowski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Gloria Foster, Joe Pantoliano, Marcus Chong, Julian Arahanga, Matt Doran, Belinda McClory and Anthony Ray Parker

Movie: 5 Picture: 4.5 Sound: 4.5 Extras: 4

No review as yet

Running time: 136 mins
Picture: 2.35:1, 1080p24, VC1 @ 16.44Mbps
Sound: English: Dolby TrueHD 16 bit/48kHz 3/2.1 @ 1646kbps (Core: English: Dolby Digital 3/2.1 @ 640kbps); English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese: Dolby Digital 3/2.1 @ 640kbps; Commentary (x 4): Dolby Digital Pro Logic 2/0.0 @ 192kbps
Features: BonusView 'In-Movie Experience' PIP; Documentary: 'The Matrix Revisited' (4:3, 480i, VC1, DPL 2.0 @ 192kbps - 123 mins); 18 Featurettes (4:3, 480i, VC1, DD 2.0 @ 192kbps - 84 mins); Forty music tracks over animated background' (1080p24, VC1, DD 2.0 @ 192kbps - 42 mins); Music Video: Marilyn Manson: 'Rock Is Dead' (4:3, 480i, VC1, DD 2.0 @ 192kbps - 3 mins); 2 Trailers (480i, VC1, DD 2.0 @ 192kbps - 3 mins); 8 TV Spots (4:3, 480i, VC1, DD 2.0 @ 192kbps - 4 mins)
Restrictions: Rated M (Australian rating); Region Free

The following video bitrate graph was generated by BDInfo 0.5.3:

The Matrix video bitrate graph

And the following video bitrate graph is for the PIP element in the movie:

The Matrix PIP video bitrate graph

Comparison: Blu-ray vs PAL DVD

Here are some comparisons between the PAL DVD and the Blu-ray version of this movie. At the top of each is the full frame (suitably shrunk down) used in the comparison, with a 250 pixel wide detail from the frame underneath. The left side is from the PAL DVD. The image was captured digitally from the disc, scaled up from its native 720 by 576 resolution to 1,024 by 576 (to present in the correct aspect ratio), and then, in order to be comparable to the Blu-ray version, from that to 1,920 by 1,080. The detail is from that last scaled version, and has not been rescaled again. The right side is from the Australian Blu-ray. This has not been scaled at all.

Different applications were used to capture the two frames, so I am not normally comfortable comparing the colour between the two, merely the detail and sharpness. However there are overwhelming differences in the black levels and colour balance of the whole movie, with the Blu-ray being far better. These shots do seem to be representative of how things look on the big screen. For those visitors from NTSC lands, generally the PAL DVD is just a touch sharper than the NTSC DVD.

I took more than eighty comparison screen shots. I would love to show them all, but in the interests of bandwidth usage I've merely put about twice as many in as I normally do: a baker's dozen.

Forget about the increased sharpness and detail of the Blu-ray. Forget about the reduced compression noise of the Blu-ray. For those of us old enough to have used monochrome computer monitors, the colour in the Blu-ray version rings true, while the DVD doesn't:

Comparison 1

Now you can see the restoration of the stylised colour palette. And the far greater sharpness and detail. Try to find Trinity's lower eyelashes on the DVD version:

Comparison 2

The next shot illustrates not just the greater detail and sharpness of the Blu-ray, but how the DVD seems somehow unsettling in its portrayal of the human face, due to compression artefacts hovering just below the threshold of conscious perception, combined with a softness of the image:

Comparison 3

DVD and Blu-ray: chalk and cheese when it comes to reading telephone keypads:

Comparison 4

The lower resolution of DVD eliminates the vertical lines marking the vertical columns of pixel phosphors, and incidentally flattens Keanu Reeves' nose:

Comparison 5

This procedure, now that we are in the 'real world', looks even more painful on Blu-ray than it did on DVD:

Comparison 6

A correct colour balance, proper deep blacks, and the greater resolution offered by Blu-ray, combine to provide a far more three dimensional feel to this movie:

Comparison 7

The woman in red is grimacing. At least, so it would seem from the DVD. Meanwhile, the fellow behind her has diagonal stripes on his tie:

Comparison 8

This scene is all about exulting in the (imaginery, but indistinguishable from real) flesh. Only in the Blu-ray does the flesh look at all real:

Comparison 9

The incidental detail also makes a great contribution to how the overall picture looks, at least if enough of it is delivered by Blu-ray:

Comparison 10

I simply have to include some of the cool scenes that make this movie a classic. Here is one:

Comparison 11

A second (and look at that MPEG2 noise on the DVD version!):

Comparison 12

And to finish:

Comparison 13

© 2002-2010, Stephen Dawson