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Artwork copyright (c) 2003 Warner Bros.; review copyright (c) 2003 James Southall


Bigger, better, more

After the rather unexpected mega-success of The Matrix - an entertaining action/sci-fi film - sequels were inevitable.  I suppose the fact that they were hyped unendingly for months was equally inevitable.  Slightly less enjoyable simply because it takes its ridiculous cod-mythology so seriously, The Matrix Reloaded still contains some highly-impressive action sequences and is stylish enough to let you gloss over its shortcomings (though the movie's participants speaking about it as if it were "bigger than any of us" makes you want to cringe).  Above all, though, any film featuring the stunning Monica Bellucci in a nice dress has to be worth your money.

Back on board was composer Don Davis, whose score for the original was highly-impressive.  Of course, everything is much bigger this time around, including the music.  Whereas The Matrix was a glorious, uncompromisingly avant garde score for orchestra and choir, for the first sequel synth elements play a far greater role - and the results are staggering.  I rarely think film composers add electronic drum elements very well to their orchestral music - and I don't think there's a film composer around who wouldn't benefit from listening to The Matrix ReloadedThis is how you do it.

Just because you're adding layers of drums doesn't mean you can leave your orchestral music highly-simplistic - Davis's music remains furiously complex from start to finish.  Actually, the first two cues of the score CD (which is the second disc on the two-CD set) are very similar to stuff from the first movie, and then there are two other bits of score which aren't by Davis, but then the fun and games begin.  There are only three cues remaining, but these span over half an hour and are breathlessly, relentlessly exciting.  With the help of a gentleman by the name of Juno Reactor, Davis has made the perfect modern film music - wonderful orchestral stylings mixing with electronic elements.  "Mona Lisa Overdrive" and "Burly Brawl" are breathtaking pieces of music.  Finally there's the "Matrix Reloaded Suite", which doesn't seem especially different from the first movie's score, but is highly-impressive nonetheless.

The album created rather a lot of controversy because of its presentation.  Disc one is the predictable assortment of songs from modern beat combos like Linkin Park and the always-lovely Marilyn Manson; disc two is the score.  Many complained of its length, but with over 35 minutes of music by Davis, that's actually more than was on the score album from the first movie.  Still - I don't often finish a modern-day film score and wish the album were longer (usually, the reverse!) but this is definitely one of those times.  I won't hold my breath, but hopefully a more complete release of Davis's music might appear some day.

This is certainly not a score for everyone, but for my money it's the best of 2003 thus far.  Roll on the next one.

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Disc one

  1. Session Linkin Park (2:23)
  2. This is the New Shit Marilyn Manson (4:20)
  3. Reload Rob Zombie (4:25)
  4. Furious Angels Rob Dougan (5:29)
  5. Lucky You Deftones (4:08)
  6. The Passportal Team Sleep (2:55)
  7. Sleeping Awake POD (3:23)
  8. Bruises Unloco (2:36)
  9. Calm Like a Bomb Rage Against the Machine (4:58)
  10. Dread Rock Oakenfold (4:40)
  11. Zion Fluke (4:33)
  12. When the World Ends Dave Matthews Band (5:26)


Disc two

  1. Main Title (1:30)
  2. Trinity Dream (1:56)
  3. Teahouse Juno Reactor (1:04)
  4. Chateau Rob Dougan (3:23)
  5. Mona Lisa Overdrive (10:08)
  6. Burly Brawl (5:52)
  7. Matrix Reloaded Suite (17:34)