The Art Of The Matrix

Review by Jack Foley

When The Matrix arrived on movie screens during the summer of 1999, audiences and critics the world over marveled at the wonderfully conceived set pieces which set new standards in action.

What they didn't know, however, was that the movie was almost never made. Directors the Wachowski brothers had one hell of a time convincing producers that, yes, it could be done and that, even more importantly, the movie would be a hit.

The Art Of The Matrix lifts the lid on the extraordinary lengths the Wachowskis went to ensuring the film was made. Beset by studio doubts, the brothers began very much on the back foot and were forced to convince studio execs that "the impossible could become possible".

Rather than producing the usual rough storyboards to convince their bosses, the brothers got together some of the world's top comic book artists - including Geof Darrow and Steve Skroce - to produce a series of visually striking set pieces that it would be impossible for the execs to ignore.

It is these frames and designs that comprise the majority of the book, along with commentaries from the artists involved, and some ideas which never saw the light of day (Neo was initially conceived as having long hair!).

And if you think the idea of a collection of cartoons to be boring, then there are also stills from the film itself which serve to show just how accurate many of the storyboards were when realised.

Accompanying the visuals in the book is a full shooting script, providing a further insight into the movie, as well as scene notes from the Wachowski's assistant, Phil Oosterhouse, which reveal even more juicy extras about life on-set.

If the price sounds a little steep (it's 49.99, and it did to me), then rest assured, there is plenty for Matrix fans to get their teeth into, making this an essential companion to the movie as well as whetting the appetite for the forthcoming sequels...