I grabbed a copy of the deZIONized fanfix years ago when it first came out... but never bothered to watch it. It seemed like such a good idea but perhaps I had just had enough after the bad sequels. Then, I pretty much forgot about The Matrix altogether for more than a decade, probably for the same reason. A couple weeks ago, however, I rewatched the first film and the sequel pair. I had forgotten how much I like the first film but was not surprised by how much I didn’t like the sequels. Thus, I gave the first film 9 stars on IMDb and the sequels both 3 stars (they are just one long movie to me, as most seem to agree, only split into two movies to milk the audience for cash and, thus, share the same rating regardless). And there lies the baseline: 3 stars.
And, now, to hopefully be excruciatingly constructive for future editors:
I feel like this edit is reaching for 6 stars but falls a bit short of that – which is still maintaining a significant improvement over the originals. I feel that this edit is 90% on the right track for fanfix ideas but that other 10%, some of it intentional, hurts it pretty bad for me. My movie ratings are driven primarily by the story and the craftsmanship around telling that story. FX and fight choreography, for example, can make a good film a bit better, but they can’t make a bad film better by even a single star (unless the film is primarily about FX or fighting) thus the harsh 3 stars on the sequels.
The great part of this edit is that it treats Zion with the right amount of attention. I feel the original tried to make Zion more interesting by showing it to us but they ended up showing us something more like the evil community from a Mad Max film – primarily due to the “temple” scenes. Something to hate. All that stuff to hate is gone in this edit while keeping the more likable or, at least, identifiable parts... and the rest of Zion is probably best kept a mystery.
Another good part of this edit is that some of the more dull actions scenes were trimmed well, such as the burly brawl and the highway. Also, some characters that don’t need to be developed and cared about were dropped as much as possible and I didn’t miss them (like Kid, and the train people). (Leaving the gate to Mifune instead of Kid was a good move.)
And that takes me to the weakest part of this edit: the character development. A lot of the character development (and, consequently, plot development) seems to have been dropped and it hurts the edit equally. Yes, the sequels probably had too many characters to develop but I wouldn’t cut anything that develops the more critical characters. Smith somehow didn’t feel as evil or as powerful in this edit and I’m not sure why. He felt more like an annoyance than the villain. I also felt like we didn’t spend enough time with pretty much everybody else that was left in. In the end, this felt like it wanted to be an action movie that merely suffered the bits of drama it needed to hold the action together. I see The Matrix as the other way around pretty much. And to tell that “heady” side of the story, you need to take your time to give the audience time to digest what you are delivering – something American films are pretty bad at to begin with, so I probably wouldn’t suggest cutting these parts any harder. A lot of these headier scenes and other dramatic scenes where chopped as short as possible and ended up feeling like someone rushing though the agenda at a terribly boring meeting (while taking a 10-minute recess to work out a fistfight once in a while). These quick back-to-back scenes kill the pacing rather than fixing it.
Now, just because my ratings are primarily driven by story, this doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate good action choreography as well. I do. On that line, I personally found it very disappointing that perhaps my favorite scene from the sequels was cut: the fight with Sereph. I found this scene to be both interesting intellectually as well as a great fight scene (and it develops Sereph more). The tension of being pretty sure Sereph was a good guy but not being entirely sure why they are fighting was marvelous with an enjoyable finale and explanation to it. The chop of this scene kinda foreshadows the chop of some other tense action. For example, even though I agree many action scenes carried on too long in the sequels, the invasion of the dock was very long also... and yet also very appropriately built up a high level of how terrifying such an invasion might be. Most of that build up of terror was lost here. I think the dock scenes were also recolored but I haven’t bothered to check that against the source. It just felt like I couldn’t see the machines as well as I could in the original and thus subduing their threat even more.
Another difficult part of the sequels’ story is with the relationship between Neo and Trinity. The first film handled this well by simply leaving the tension there and not touching it much. Similar to how the sequels handled Zion, however, they tried to make this more interesting by resolving their love and showing it to us. That’s a classic boneheaded move. Even in a martyr film. This edit, fortunately, cuts most of that resolving... but I think it could be done better by cutting it even more to leave it as unresolved as the first film. In other words, cut the elevator passion as well and leave Neo with the disciples with no promises of what might come next. The leap to Neo going for a night walk was a bit jarring so rework focused more on the disciples and less on Trinity in this section might help.
And then there’s the brief and really strange ending. So many head scratchers here. I think the problem here starts with leaving Bane out entirely. He probably can’t be left out if we have a blind Neo in the end. Otherwise, it feels ludicrous to blind Neo for no significant plot reason just before the climax. Also, a blind Neo needs some story support for how he is still able to function by jacking into the machines without physically jacking in. Sure, he doesn’t need to be so powerful as to stop machines in flight, but elimination of all his crossover power is likely too difficult to hold up with the given footage. And, in that, could be the answer as to how to handle Bane: take out some of the blatant Smith control stuff with Bane and leave Neo less sure of what he is seeing there. Leaving Bane in might also help with a weak part of the originals that gets weaker in this edit: How did all the other ships get destroyed exactly? This gets covered so quick in the original I didn’t really understand it until much later in the film. Less so here.
Personally, I see no reason to save Trinity or Neo, especially when no other movies are likely to follow (assuming Neo is dead), but I don’t really feel a need to be too critical of fanedits that change the story like this. Such things are the editor’s prerogative even I feel it weakens it by losing the martyrdom story. That’s fine and I’m okay with that. If I want another ending, I can do that myself. The problem here, however, is that I completely didn’t fully “get” the intended ending meaning until I reread the change notes. Whoosh! Part of it right over my head and I wasn’t Drax enough to catch it.
Using the club hell footage to create an Ewok style ending celebration was a cute idea... but it is also... a cute idea, for better or for worse. Resolving Morpheus and Niobe there worked pretty well. The Architect??? Again, Drax.
I can recommend this edit for those who have seen the sequels, didn’t like them, and want a new take. I can’t, however, recommend it for anybody who hasn’t seen the sequels. Still looking for that edit. Too much was cut in this edit – maybe 30 minutes too much. I feel a 7-star edit is probably the most that can be got out of the sequels, I just need to find it (if someone has done it already) or wait for someone to create it (because I’m not convinced a 7-star edit is worth the time for a personal project and I should probably just pretend the sequels don’t exist).
This probably isn't going to be my strongerst review as I haven't seen Matrix Revolutions since it was released on DVD. I however re-watched Reloaded some couple years ago.
This fanedit is such a double-edged sword. The first part was surprisingly good. The story was pretty easy to follow and it was very enjoyable to watch, especially those awesome yet somewhat cheesy action scenes. Then something happens, the movie takes a deep dive into absulute garbage. It's possible or even likely that Revolutions just is so inferior in all areas compared to Reloaded but I wonder if it could have been salvaged by cutting (a lot) or in some other ways.
I was left with a bad taste. Now we got an enjoyable over the top cool action movie to be followed by a very confusing and boring second half. This is the reason I can't recommend this fanedit much... only diehard Matrix fans probably like this. According to the other reviews, there are/were plenty of those around :)
Audio/Video quality was excellent and Visual/Audio editing was good but suffered a bit from scene changes. Many of them seemed quite obvious and weren't that seamless.
Overall not very enjoyable experience due to deep dive in enjoyment in the latter part of the film due to Revolutions being what it is. Enjoyment gets 6 only because the first part was cool.
OK! So, I absolutely love the first Matrix. A great tale that merges eastern religion (zen Buddhism, mostly, but a little Hinduism for good measure), philosophy (what is real and how can we tell), and cyberpunk mentality (conspiracies and those in power trying to keep the truth hidden) into a really fun action movie that actually gave you more to talk about than some dramas... even with Kenau Reeves' cardboard performance.
Then enter the second and *shudder* third movies and all that was gone... I never understood how to utterly craptastic movies could follow such gold. Well, that's a lie. I actually never saw the abortion that was Revolutions... Reloaded was so bad I swore off the entire atrocity. After a friend told me it was the worst, I never felt compelled to try again.
Well, this edit upends ....some... of that criticism. In fact, cutting down Reloaded actually let me see the serious philosophy that had gotten hidden beneath the crap (free will vs determinism) and I found I really liked the first half of this edit. Everything moved smoothly, and I didn't feel like I was missing anything (even though I kinda remembered scenes that weren't there, I didn't miss them). I was totally pumped at this point and seriously thinking that this may be the best fanedit I had seen.
Then we got to the Revolutions half, and everything fell apart. Suddenly there was just a lot of action, and I was lost. When Trinity and co get picked up by the other ship, I thought that was the only ship left and Zion had already fallen (remember I hadn't seen the original of this one) especially because of the captain's description of things. Then the two groups split and I find out they are going to Zion because its almost time for the final battle? And then Neo is blind? There was so much WTF going on I actually backed the movie up and watched about 30 minutes of it again and was still confused. Again, I felt like this was the original movie's fault as much as the editor, as I was still kinda confused as to what was happening after reading the Wikipedia summaries later.
Kudos to the editor for keeping Trinity alive... I almost bought it, but something about the sequence felt weird enough that I had to pause the movie and look up a synopsis on Wikipedia to learn that she was supposed to die. Armed with that knowledge, the rest of the movie was well done with respect to her, and it all felt plausible. Jerrick, you are a great editor, because it all seemed very believable that she survived the crash, and the footage you used for her at the end (even cheering for him during the final fight!) was epic. Loved it. A little weird right at the crash, but that could have been my general confusion at this point.
My final point is also probably with the original material, not the edit, as the plot summaries are confusing on this plot point. I have no idea why the baby-faced machine god needed Neo's help with Smith to begin with. If you get a computer virus in the real world (which is exactly what Smith was behaving like), you disconnect the infected computer from the network so it can't spread and re-install a clean OS, not have a DBZ style fight in the rain. I mean crap. You were about to rewrite the Matrix anyway! He is software. Turn off the computer he inhabits and he's done! In what way does flying around in the rain punching faces fix it? And what makes it different when Neo is absorbed that kills them all? What a crappy finish.
The one bit of editing that I really disliked (and not knowing the original material, it may still be better than it originally was :D) was the scene with the Oracle and Smith? WTF? How did they find her? Why was that sequence so obviously copy-pasted together? Where was that bodyguard of hers? It felt like something was obviously trying to be smoothed over or fixed, but I actually didn't see the relevance of the scene anyway.
All in all, this edit was about as good as could be hoped for given the source material, but some things can't be taken away. Jerrick does an amazing job of fixing what can be fixed, unfortunately glitter on poo doesn't actually make poo any better to look at. And despite all the failings of the story, I have to say that I still recommend this edit, because it is light years better than what we had before, and if you have to acknowledge that the trilogy exists, this is probably still the best way to watch it.
Edit: I realized that I must have moused over the ratings at some point before I submitted the review. I Also reworded a few things to make it clearer that it was the source material and not the editor that I took objection to. Thanks!