Animatrix DVD: Review By carl

  • OVERALL
    3.5
    GREAT
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE FEATURE
When I first heard the news of an animated series based on the world of The Matrix I had a very sceptical reaction. Afterall some of the worst kids shows I've seen have been based on some of the most enjoyable Hollywood blockbusters. However the more I thought about it the more the idea started to make sense. The Matrix (at least the first one) is possibly the best live action interpretation of Japanese animation ever seen, and from the looks of the screen shots this series would follow the next logical step by producing a Japanese style animated series set in the world of The Matrix. More than that The Wachowski Brothers had been making some pretty lofty promises that The Animatrix would compliment the films and videogame in order to finally tell the entire story.

In my opinion the show succeeded at this. The first short worked to bridge the gap between the first 2 films and the game, and the rest (while a few fall short of greatness work as a series of slick stories that explore the depths of thee matrix in a far more satisfying way than the sequels would do.

1) The Final Flight Of The Osiris - You may be familiar with this episode as

it was shown in theatre's before the Steven King adaption Dreamcatcher.

Final Flight Of The Osiris is a fantastic opening to the world of The

Animatrix. Visually stunning it represents the next step in CGI animation

after the Final Fantasy movie from the same makers. You will literally be

awestruck as you see these visuals though, with nothing at all being

neglected. It opens with 2 characters training in a sword fight inside the

training simulation, and as they fight they literally fight each others

clothes off. Just to show off the detail, of course. Anyway this part looks

simply stunning and when they leave the simulation and you see how detailed

the metal work is you're jaw will hit the floor again, the sentinels really

looked like they did in the films. However Final Flight Of The Osiris was

not just a visual experience. Out of all The Animatrix shorts this one had

the best soundtrack that built up the tension, and brought out the horror of

the sentinels in the same way as the original movie did, and out of all the

Animatrix shorts this one had some of the best characters, due to the fact

that they show emotion but their emotion is not exaggerated. Final Flight Of

The Osiris is one of the most exciting Animatrix short, and get's 4.5/5 from

me.

2) The Second Renaissance part 1 -The 2 Second Renaissance shorts are joint

as the best Animatrix shorts available. They are the ones that, more than

the rest, develop the world of the Matrix beyond the films. It's visual

style is a combination of traditional cell shading and CGI and it does have

a very Ghost In The Shell look to it's animation. It has no characters

persay, but is more of a doc*mentary into the history of The Matrix, and

shows why it all happened. Using some absolutely shocking imagery the

director shows how the machines were treated badly by humans, and visually

makes similarities between the eventual fate of the machines and the Nazi

holocaust. It also has a great soundtrack but the truly great thing about

this short is how it makes you question everything you thought you knew

about the machines evil. 5/5

3) The Second Renaissance part 2 - Visually it uses the same style as part 1

but if that was told from the machines viewpoint, this is very much the

humans viewpoint. After the humans black out the sky we see visions of the

machines marching on us that are designed to be terrifying hellish images.

One moment involving a robotic horseman riding over a flaming field is

particularly chilling, until eventually it shows the same images from the

first part but this time happening to humans instead of Machines. That's the

great thing about these 2 shorts is that by telling them from opposite sides

of the war they raise questions about who is good and who is evil, but leave

them up to the individual to decide. Something The Matrix has never been

good at before now. 5/5

4) Kids Story - The weakest of the good Animatrix short, Kids story is

responsible for introducing everyone to that annoying kid from The Matrix

Reloaded. It has a very interesting visual style which makes it a

fascinating watch for the most part. It uses sketches for it's animation

that just seem to fit in the story of a teenager and even help to give the

feelings he has about unreality. However when the action kicks in this

animation, while stylish, starts to look terrible. Unfortunately the story

is what let's this one down as it's very much in the vein of The Matrix, in

that it features a boy typing things like "Someone tell me why it feels more

real when I'm dreaming" into his computer. Most kids would know the answer

is drugs and alcohol but this kid decides to type it into his computer and

shows no concern over the cryptic response that he gets. I'm hoping that

this kid will have an important part in the third film because otherwise the

ending really doesn't make sense and the whole episode will be pointless.

3/5

5) Program - Program is one of the most visually interesting episodes of The

Animatrix. The use of Black in a lot of the stems really helps to support

the traditional Japanese colors of this samurai episode. It starts with a

fantastic action sequence the likes of which none of the episodes can touch,

in terms of uniqueness. However when the story kicks in it starts to falter.

It has the same problem as the Cypher part of the plot in the original film.

It has the potential to raise some amazing questions about the benefits of

escaping The Matrix but ultimately decides the answer for you. The character

who wants to be returned to The Matrix is not really given any human

emotions except that he claims he loves her, and spends the whole episode

trying to kill her. This fixation with anyone who wants to be plugged back

into The Matrix being psychotic prevents people from asking these questions,

and the twist at the end destroys any shred of dignity the theory may have

had. I don't like that because I'm one of those who would rather live in the

dream. 3/5

6) World Record - This is the worst of The Animatrix shorts. I just doesn't

lead anywhere. The animation style is very similar to the deformed style

used in the Spawn animations and it just looks plain ugly. The characters

have no real strengths and the story doesn't add anything satisfying to The

Matrix. From what I could make out it was saying that the runner was so

determined to beat his own record that he was able to run right out of The

Matrix. Either that or he ran so fast he beat The matrix. Either way the

idea was done better in Kids story, and had more relevance to the films. The

ending was ambiguous though which was a good thing, and maybe the character

will have a part to play in the next film. 2/5

7) Beyond - This is an extremely good entry into the mythology of The

Matrix. It deals with the subject of malfunctioning programs in the matrix

causing supernatural occurrences, and so for anyone who saw it the second

films plot wont seem quite so left field. However this episode deals with it

in a much more satisfying way than the film did. It's not an over the top

action sequence but rather a more personal human affair. It features a young

woman looking for her cat, who is told by a group of youths that the cat is

at the haunted house. She follows them there, where she discovers the laws

of physics no longer apply and that they can do almost anything. The

emotions these characters display are the most restrained emotions outside

of The Final Flight Of The Osiris, and the characters never feel like

they're over the top. 4/5

8) Detective Story - This is the best chapter of The Animatrix as far as

visuals are concerned. It uses Black And White animation in order to give it

a tense, film noire feel. It works surprisingly well in the confines of The

Matrix too, as the character is hired to find a hacker named trinity. The

whole episode is told through a narrator just like the classic detective

stories and even features a satisfying ending. You do wonder why Trinity

would have used a train for the meeting when she knew the guy would be being

tracked, and so a public place with no easy means of escape wasn't a wise

move, yet we all make mistakes and what the agents do in this is exactly

what people wanted them to do with Neo in the film. 5/5

9) Matriculated - The final episode of The animatrix is a natural end to the

series, because it offers a possible solution for the Matrix problem.

However despite that interesting idea I must say that I didn't really like

this episode. Visually the real world shots are OK but inside the Matrix

everything get's a little to trippy for my tastes. The bright colors are

just too much, especially as it comes right after the terminally dark and

Bleak detective story. I didn't like the characters much either as they were

unlikable and their solution was to trick the machines. They didn't want to

make peace, nor did they want to reprogram the machines, they just wanted to

convince the machines to accept peace in order to enslave them again. That's

not my problem though because I don't mind seeing the machine as the victim

again, my problem is that the machines don't look right. The Second

Renaissance set up that the machines became sentinels in order to be nothing

like humans, yet these runners seem somehow more human. They haven't been

mentioned anywhere else in the Matrix universe and so feel out of place now

that they've just been introduced as normal machines. Inside The Matrix I

also picked up on a strange preoccupation with sex in this episode that was

somehow supposed to help convince the robot. It didn't make sense to me.
THE EXTRAS
It's a decent disk. Extra's include commentaries on Both second Renaissance,

Program, and World Record. Subtitles are used to fix the language barrier

and they offer some technical details into why the directors chose to do

their films the way the did. There's some more details to be found in the

doc*mentaries Scrolls to screen, a history of anime, and a doc*mentary on

each of the shorts profiling different things including he films that

influenced each episode. There's a trailer for the Enter The Matrix game as

well as some DVD ROM exclusive material.
THE VIDEO
The Animatrix has some of the best picture quality I've seen yet. Animations

have always benefited from the clarity of DVD and this is no exception. The

Second Renaissance will absolutely blow you away.
THE AUDIO
Like the Video the sound is amazing. Those who've only seen some of the

films in Quicktime need will be amazed at how much more emotional and

exciting this is in 5.1.
THE FINAL WORD
The Animatrix offers a fascinating view into the world of The Matrix outside

of the films. It's been given a good but unspectacular disk, yet is still an

essential purchase for fans of the mythology of the films.

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