is a series of nine stories by different directors set in the Matrix
universe, all of them conceived and commissioned by the Wachowski brothers. They demonstrate an eclectic mix of anime animation styles, stories and characters, most of which intertwine with the narrative of the first sequel, The Matrix Reloaded
The first and most impressive is the Final Flight of the Osiris (from the director of Final Fantasy). In a breathtaking computer-generated short that would have worked well as a pre-title sequence for the second film, the crew of the ill-fated Osiris discover the sentinel army and the machines drilling towards Zion. This most filmic of the offerings guides fans into the more individualistic animated styles of the subsequent features.
The second and third instalments, The Second Renaissance, Parts 1 & 2, turn the tables on the man vs. machines battle by telling the story of the emergence of artificial intelligence and the ensuing (mostly human instigated) carnage leading up to the subjugation of the human race. The remaining features are: Kid's Story (directed by anime supreme Shinichiro Watanabe), which introduces us to the Kid, who also features in Reloaded; Program and World Record, written by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, better known for schlock horror anime Vampire Hunter B; Beyond, which tells what happens when ordinary people discover bugs in the system; A Detective Story, a homage to film noir as PI Ash is hired to track Trinity; and the distinctly psychedelic Matriculated.
The standard of animation is high throughout, even where the storylines are confused (and in one or two cases little more than conceptual). This is a fascinating collection of shorts that will appeal to Matrix and anime fans alike, as well as shedding light on some of the more obtuse plot machinations of Reloaded.
On the DVD: The Animatrix is primarily a visual offering, so it's good to see that this anamorphically enhanced 2.35:1 video transfer is near-perfect, with CGI extravaganza signature short The Final Flight of the Osiris being about as stunning as is possible on a small screen. Extras are plentiful: the commentaries for The Second Renaissance Parts 1 & 2 are in Japanese with English subtitles; there are two more commentaries, for Program and World Record. There are also some features, including one on the history of anime and seven on the individual films in the series; the best of the latter is the featurette for Osiris, which goes into detail on the CGI and contains a "square celebrity death match" sequence of a modified Aki (from the Final Fantasy film) battling a sentinel. --Kristen Bowditch
Nine short animated films that share the general theme of the war between humanity and artificial intelligence. In "Final Flight of the Osiris," the crew of a hovercraft must get a message back to Zion and battle an armada of Sentinels along the way. As the genesis of the film "The Matrix," "The Second Renaissance-Parts I and II" serve as a guided tour and history of the Matrix. In "Kid's Story," a high school boy gets a personalized invitation from Neo to escape the Matrix. "Program" features a simulated Samurai training program in which a soldier of Zion is forced to chose between love and her comrades in the real world. In "World Record," a world-record holding sprinter breaks out of the Matrix. The quiet town of "Beyond" features a bug in the system--in the form of an abandoned mansion. "A Detective Story" finds a hard-boiled detective tracking cyber-criminal Trinity through the looking glass. And in "Matriculated," a small group of rebels capture a sentient robot and proceed to program it as an ally for their cause.