Still trying to figure out what the Matrix is? Eight years after hacker-cum-savior Neo asked this deviously loaded question, the answer is clear: It’s a movie trilogy that will never stop coming out on DVD. The latest salvo on sci-fi geeks’ wallets is The Ultimate Matrix Collection, a five-disc HD-DVD version of the 2004 box set. Though this is essentially the same exhaustive mix of the Matrix, Matrix Reloaded, Matrix Revolutions, Animatrix shorts, and 35-plus hours of features you’ve seen — or attempted to see — before, the few upgrades are doozies. All three films are presented in razor-sharp high-definition video and sound (disappointingly, the Animatrix cartoons and the extras aren’t), and if you thought stunt scenes like Revolution‘s freeway chase looked insane before, wait till you see them in HD.
EXTRAS In addition to sounding and looking better than ever, The Ultimate Matrix also gets a huge boost from an ”In-Movie Experience” that shoe-horns commentaries from the Wachowski brothers, Joel Silver, cast, and crew into a small picture that runs throughout the films. Technically, it’s not a new feature; all it does is cherry-pick snippets from the special features found elsewhere in the same boxed set. However, seen in the context of each scene as it’s unfolding, the IME is really the best and only practical way to process the overwhelming amount of bonus material. Watch all of it, and the concepts in The Matrix actually start to make sense. Whoa! B+