The Animatrix

"Very Good"

The Animatrix Review


Somewhere between The Matrix and Reloaded lies The Animatrix. If you're a hardcore Matrix geek, this DVD has plenty of material to quench your thirst for the backstory that Reloaded so seriously lacked. Of course, if you're that heavy into this sci-fi saga, you've probably already bootlegged most of these shorts online.

In short, The Animatrix consists of nine animated short films. Best known among these is Final Flight of the Osiris, which serves as a prequel to Reloaded, and explains what the hell everyone was talking about in that opening scene. Directed by Andy Jones, Final Flight bears much of the look and feel of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, on which Jones served as animation supervisor. As with Final Fantasy, this brief adventure does more to advance the cause of CG animation than to convey any kind of meaningful story. Instead, it spends roughly half of its runtime in a VR sword fight that is reminiscent of Neo's first bout with Morpheus, except that in this version the fighters get naked. If you're the type who finds cartoons arousing, then this bit is for you. Otherwise, it's just wearying.

What Final Flight does do well is reveal a little more detail about the world of The Matrix. It does a better job than either of the first two feature films of showing how the tunnel systems connect to the surface of the world. And who knew these hovercraft ships actually have turret cannons? By the time Final Flight gets going, though, it's over.

Anyone looking for the machine's perspective will find it in The Second Renaissance Parts I & II. Why this story is divided into two brief parts is beyond me, as each half is only a few minutes long. Even without that flaw, this little work is a fairly weak, poorly imagined tale of how the machines took over. The animation is on par with much of the most popular anime, but the story is just pathetic. But those who enjoy looking for philosophical overtones in this series will be delighted by the richness of mandala and bodhisattva imagery sprinkled liberally throughout the piece.

If, like me, you wasted valuable seconds of your life wondering who that annoying kid in Zion was while watching Reloaded, Kid's Story has your answer. Program is a trite argument about the virtues of returning to the power plant and living in ignorant bondage. World Record and Beyond explore accidental awakenings to the nature of reality, but neither one leaves a lasting impression.

The final two shorts, A Detective Story and Matriculated are more interesting, if only because they are in many ways more artful than the rest. As the title implies, A Detective Story is a noir about a private dick who stumbles onto Trinity's trail. While most of the art deco imagery breaks with the visual styles we expect from this fictional world, it's an interesting twist on the saga. Matriculated is a lush visual adventure from Peter Chung. Like Aeon Flux, which Chung also wrote and directed, Matriculated is a stunning work to view, even while it is deliberately ambiguous about its storyline.

Ultimately, The Animatrix is very good at being what it is: eye candy for geeks who are obsessed with The Matrix. The animation is consistently excellent and those who care will appreciate the way this collection informs the mainstream trilogy. Unfortunately, however, its appeal will be limited primarily to thirteen-year-old boys and thirty-year-old men who live with their mothers, because it absolutely fails to deliver anything resembling an intellectually mature story. Of course, those who enjoy anime are accustomed to this phenomenon, so The Animatrix gets a conditional recommendation from this critic.

The 10-disc Matrix DVD box set is an exhaustive set containing 35 hours of bonus material alone. Each of the three films contains numerous commentary tracks, and each film is buttressed by a feature length documentary like The Matrix Revisited. The Animatrix is also included along with three additional discs full of archival material, interviews, philosophical inquiries, trailers, and extra footage. Any Matrix fan will want to own this set and keep it on the top shelf, where the cat can't get to it.

She knows kung fu.



The Animatrix

Facts and Figures

Run time: 102 mins

In Theaters: Tuesday 3rd June 2003

Budget: $5M

Distributed by: Warner Home Video

Production compaines: Village Roadshow Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Fresh: 15 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Peter Chung, , , Takeshi Koike, Koji Morimoto, , Shinichiro Watanabe

Starring: as Neo (Voice), as Trinity (voice), as Kid (voice), Akio Ohtsuka as Thadeus (voice), as Jue ("Final Flight of the Osiris") / Manabu ("Beyond") (voice), as Alexa ("Matriculated") (voice), as Crew Man ("Final Flight of the Osiris") / Kaiser ("Program") (voice), as Thadeus ("Final Flight of Osiris") / Cop ("Kid's Story") / Agent #2 ("World Record"), as Operator ("Final Flight of Osiris"), as Pilot ("Final Flight of Osiris"), as Crew Woman ("Final Flight of Osiris") / Nurse ("World Record") / Misha ("Beyond"), Bette Ford as Old Womand ("Final Flight of Osiris"), as The Instructor ("The Second Renaissance Part I & II") / Narrator ("World Record"), Dane A. Davis as 01 Versatran Spokesman ("The Second Renaissance Part I & II"), as Kid ("The Second Renaissance Part I & II"), as Mother ("The Second Renaissance Part I & II"), as Additional Voices ("The Second Renaissance Part I & II") / Monaka ("Matriculated"), as Additional Voices ("The Second Renaissance Part I & II") / Ash ("A Detective Story") / Raul ("Matriculated"), John Demita as Teacher ("Kid's Story"), Hedy Burress as Cis ("Program") / Yoko ("Beyond"), as Duo ("Program"), Victor Williams as Dan ("World Record"), as Dan's dad ("World Record"), Alex Fernandez as Tom ("World Record"), as Reporter ("World Record"), as Agent #1 ("World Record") / Agent ("Beyond") / Agent ("A Detective Story"), as Housewife ("Beyond") / Kenny ("Beyond"), as Pudgy ("Beyond") / Masa ("Beyond") / Sara ("Beyond"), Terrence 'T.C.' Carson as Clarence ("A Detective Story"), Rodney Saulsberry as Chyron ("Matriculated"), Olivia d'Abo as Rox ("Matriculated"), Jack Fletcher as Sandro ("Matriculated")

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