Like most other reviewers, I am a huge fan of the original Matrix and consider it one of my top 25 favorite movies. Similarly, I was disappointed by the sequels. I have watched multiple Matrix fanedits in order to find my permanent watching replacement. After really enjoying The Matrix Revolutions Decoded and this Epic version, I believe this is THE ONE (ba dum tshhh).
It all boils down to the fact that this version is flawlessly edited and turns two overlong, overly complex movies filled with philosophy babble into a streamlined action sci-fi movie that makes complete sense. Like the first Matrix, this edit capitalizes on some basic philosophical questions (how much should man rely on machine? what makes us human? how do we define reality) and doesn't veer into the confusing meditations on choice, purpose, and multiple realities/matrices that the two original sequels do.
-I could have done without the Zion orgy dance scene, but I get its symbolism (bestial life versus cold machines).
-We don't get any sort of closure on what happens to Trinity at the end, though we can assume she makes her way from broadcasting depth back to Zion where she will live a life of sadness without Neo.
-I can't stand the change in oracle actors, but there isn't much to be done about that.
-First off, the most brilliant thing about this edit was changing where Neo goes after he steps through the special door to the Source. He travels to the "source" which is, in the original, the machine mainframe, and speaks with the baby-faced leader of the machines where they make a simple deal that Neo will remove Smith from the Matrix in exchange for peace. Absolutely inspired -- this renders the multiple matrix plotline pointless (which I always hated, as it sort of devalues the current struggle of our characters) and cuts out a ton of extraneous plot including the Architect.
-All of the best action sequences are kept, but many are trimmed down just enough for pacing.
-Small things that are stupid or ridiculous are removed. One of my favorites is when Link returns home: In the original, he starts saying something like "Where's my puss--" and is interrupted by his nephew/niece (I think) who are visiting his wife. It's a cheap laugh, and pretty crass and unlikeable that he would greet his wife after months of being away and missing her in this manner. There are a lot of little moments like this that have been thankfully removed.
-Obvious poorly done elements (Bane, Neo having powers in the real world, Trinity's comically long death scene) are gone and would make no sense with the new narrative plotline.
Overall, the narrative change and editing have redeemed these movies for me and will replace my DVD hardcopies for good.
I'd give the originals a 5/10, the Decoded version a 9/10, and this a 10/10 overall.
I first watched and reviewed this fanedit about a year ago, but upon re-watching it today having not visited the Matrix franchise again since - or fanedits in general - I thought it'd be nice to re-review this edit with a relatively fresh perspective. And this time around, I enjoyed the edit a LOT more and developed a whole new appreciation for it. So I thought I'd re-write an earlier review I wrote for it on the Fanedit Forums, which unfairly focused on criticizing geminigod's relatively great editing skills despite giving a very positive score overall.
So firstly, here are the main major changes to the films themselves in slightly more detail *OBVIOUS SPOILERS AHEAD*: Throughout the entire movie, there is so sub-plot about Agent Smith possessing Bane and entering the real world. By doing this, the whole sub-plot of Neo/Bane being stuck in a coma can be exercised, and additionally there is no footage or mention of the Caduceus crew. Additionally, Neo has no powers carrying across into the real world, only in The Matrix. But the most dramatic change is towards the end of the first half of the film. Instead of Neo meeting the Architect when he enters the door of light, it cuts straight to Neo entering the Machine City and having a peace deal with the Machines if he destroys Agent Smith. Trinity and Neo do not go to the Machine City, instead asking for a ship to borrow to go into The Matrix with, and the edit then goes straight into the battle for Zion and the final battle between Neo and Smith.
How well does this work? Pretty much flawlessly in the first 100 minutes. The pacing is expertly done, with the story still making a heck of a lot of sense and being easy to follow as one stylish, enjoyable action scene after another is thrown your way with a side of universe mythology and a touch of philosophy. The editing is barely noticeable, save for a split-second frame glitch and slowed down shot that happens in the Zion rave scene, and everything just goes into such a cohesive whole that you'd assume this is how the original Matrix sequel was made in the first place.
However, things unfortunately get a little shakier after that. The edit relies heavily on a new scene constructed from existing footage to set up a new narrative, and while the scene isn't awful and lasts for less than 1 minute, it's a scene that is *clearly* edited and feels a little disjointed. The plot threads introduced immediately following the scene feel a little rushed too, with the pacing being simply not as tight as before, and the drama/battle within Zion is simply not as engaging as the action sequences that filled the first half of the edit. The editing in general becomes more noticeable too, with a few smash cuts that feel sudden or fades to white/black that feel unnatural. However, even with that being the case it only mildly distracts from the story at hand rather than derailing it, and thankfully the narrative finds it's footing again in the last half hour, becoming a gripping, suitably epic and hugely satisfying wrap-up to everything we've seen in the rest of the film.
In terms of the quality of the edit itself, the video quality is fantastic for an AVCHD and so is the sound, although it suffers a bit mix-wise since the dialogue always seems a bit too quiet compared to the action scenes. The DVD features are simplistic, but the addition of two shorts from the Animatrix as optional intros really helps set that "epic" feel for the movie, and the commentary from geminigod is a nice addition too.
If I'd give the original sequels a 7, and the Dezionized edit an 8 for trimming the fat, I give The Epic Edition a 9 for doing the same thing but packing a bigger emotional wallop. The score would've been higher if the editing was consistently flawless as it was in the first half, but nonetheless, well done to geminigod for turning the sequels into the true successor the original film deserved!
Finally got around to this after DL'ing last year.
I put off viewing partly because I did not want to waddle through sorry assed Revolutions again.
Then I delayed reviewing because I wanted to listen to Geminigod's audio commentary.
In a nutshell, the A/V editing was spectacular. I missed glitches and fudges he referenced in the commentary. Had to go back, and even then they were often hard to catch.
He also purged the bulk of the offensive bungles from Revolutions.
Also, he made a good argument that the sequel ought to have been one long film, rather than two.
Best, this edit redeemed the franchise, which ain't gonna revive any day soon.
Less compelling, were Geminigod's prolonged defense for the importance of Zion. I never bought that argument. Zion, to me, represented a separation of humanity into elites and mudbugs. Far as Zion went, if the machines whacked them, fine by me.
Commentaries by their nature are enlightening, thoughtful, and maddening. Geminigod's was no exception. For every point he addressed, and I thought "Ooh, I hadn't thought of that," then he would belabor another cue for five minutes, and I'm going, "Hey, Pilgrim, movie's rolling, stay on topic."
This really was a powerhouse job, with a tremendous amount of editing and rearranging, in crafting a true, alternative experience.
And barking aside, I truly appreciated the editor's words. Most enlightening.