Animatrix DVD: Review By stevegibbs

  • OVERALL
    4.0
    GREAT
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE FEATURE
A great concept. Allow the anime directors who influenced the creation of The Matrix a chance to play in that world themselves. This series of nine short films, totalling 89 minutes, gives a variety of different - sometimes surprising - views of what the Matrix is:

Final Flight of the Osiris - Tying in with the Matrix Reloaded storyline, one of the rebel human ships discovers machines boring towards the earth's core on a mission to destroy the last human stronghold of Zion.

The Second Renaissance Part 1 - Covers the robot rebellion, leading to the great war between humans and machines.

The Second Renaissance Part 2 - Picks up the story as machines take over the planet and turn the tables on their former human masters.

Kid's Story - Again tying in to Matrix Reloaded, this explains how Neo helped one kid awaken to the Matrix, and to free himself from it.

Program - Set inside one of the combat simulations, Program touches on the desire of some humans to return to the Matrix, even though they know it is all an illusion.

World Record - Shows how, what happens in one reality, affects the same poeple in the alternate universe.

Beyond - A great spin on the old haunted house theme.

A Detective Story - Done as a very cool black-and-white film noir, a detective is confronted by the reality of the Matrix.

Matriculated - The battle continues between the machines and the humans who have become aware.
THE EXTRAS
"Scrolls to Screen: The History and Culture of Anime" doc*mentary

If you're not too familiar with the whole culture of Japanese manga (comic books) and anime, then this is a very nice introduction. Mostly interviews with the guys involved in the Animatrix project (if anyone understands anime, they should, right?), they give a brief history and show how Japanes culture has influence the form and look of anime over the years.

7 featurettes with director profiles, interviews and behind-the-scenes footage of each of the films

Brief interviews explaining the concepts and direction each team took in producing their segments. Not bad.

4 audio commentaries

"Enter the Matrix" videogame trailer
THE VIDEO
Presented in 1.85:1 Widescreen. The differing styles of animation vary wildly from one segment to another, but they all end up looking great. The high contrast sequences hold up well. Apart from the all CGI Final Flight of the Osiris, the most visually striking shorts, in my opinion, are Program and A Detective Story.
THE AUDIO
Presented in English and Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1. The soundtrack is one of the best anime tracks you'll every hear. They make good use of all channels and have a great mix. My only complaint is with the English voice talent. As with many anime translations, the dialogue seems rather flat. There must be some better voice-over actors out there.
THE FINAL WORD
If you're interested in exploring some of the concepts introduced in the Matrix movies, this is a great discussion starter. Since the topics and styles vary dramatically, you'll likely find a few segments you respond to more than others. In their own ways, they all push the form in new directions. I'm curious to see if this DVD has a similar impact on future anime productions as The Matrix had on Hollywood action movies.

My favorite story segmenthas to be Beyond. It picks up on the idea that deja vu, ghosts and so on are really nothing more than programming glitches; little technical slips that seem to overthrow natural laws of physics or nature. It was a theme I had hoped might be developed in Reloaded, but was again skipped over. Finally, its time has come.

If you have any interest at all in the worlds of anime or The Matrix, then I can't recommend this DVD highly enough. It is a collection of some of the great talents and authorities in the field.

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