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
As a fan of CGI the two standout pieces for me were "Last Flight of the Osiris" and "Matriculated". "Last Flight of the Osiris" (from the team responsible for "Final Fantasy") is jaw dropping state of the art hyper-real CGI. It is obvious that much of the Matrix Reloaded was produced in this way. The opening scene is absolutely delicious as two very attractive CGI characters disrobe eachother in a virtual martial arts sword fight. The piece goes on to illustrate a link between the first two movies in the Matrix trilogy.
But the one that really got me was "Matriculated". An astounding blend of CGI and handrawn animation this film really explores the possibilities of the medium and the results are mind-blowing, and quite psychadelic in places. A curious story about a group of humans who attempt to convert machines to their cause, "Matriculated" really pushes the boundaries. For hardcore fans it is worth owning the DVD for these two pieces alone, however the other pieces are excellent too, using more standard animation techniques to tell their stories. Those with a passing interest in the Matrix movies will probably be happier just renting The Animatrix.
If you are unfamiliar with Anime it is worth noting that it often contains strong violence and sexual material, and the Animatrix is no exception. One scene in particular depicted violence against a robot made to look like a human woman and I found this quite uncomfortable to watch.
After watching The Animatrix I am left feeling confident that despite the unexpected success of the first Matrix movie, the Wachowski brothers are committed to bringing the Matrix to the World with integrity. A lot of people have been disappointed in the second movie, but seen in the context of an action packed comic book sci-fi saga it all makes sense, and its really working for me. It is not going to be to everyone's taste, but this is to the directors' credit, not to their detriment.
This was an incredible notion to connote to an audience that may or may not have been ready to accept them. This meant that creating a sequel to this film from the point where The Matrix ended, would be incredibly difficult considering the foundations of the first movie. To answer this problem the Wachowski brothers commissioned these nine animations to fill the gaps left by the first movie.
They are as follows:
The Final Flight Of The Osiris.
This is the first animation on the disk, however, I feel it should be at the end of the disk as it the animation that flows straight in to the story of Reloaded. It has been created by the people that made the 2000 film Final Fantasy – The Spirits Within and the CG used in it makes this worthy of gracing the big screen as part of Reloaded.
The Second Renaissance Part One.
This story is taken directly from the Zion archives. It tells of the birth of AI, rise of the machines and the founding of Zero one. It uses iconic imagery of our life times to show how truly violent the beginnings of the war are and how mistakes are remade again.
The Second Renaissance Part Two.
The second part of the renaissance charts the attempts to stop the machines ever growing power over the human race and the first battles of the war. We see how the machine begin to wield us as we die out and the founding of the matrix as there new source of power.
This is my personal favourite, simply because the animation is stunning. In this short, we see how self enlightenment can sometimes show us the way to things beyond our comprehension. In this case a boy yearning to be free of his reality.
This is one of my favourite shorts. It show how even outside the matrix in the real world, people still want to cling to there ordinary lives in the virtual world.
World Record took me a few viewings to really understand the underlying ideas of this animation. It follows an athlete as he tries to break his own personal best speed. And by doing so breaks out of the matrix itself.
What happens when the matrix fails to keep a constant in reality? Beyond shows how ordinary people can find the flaws in the program and perform acts that they could only imagine.
This is a sharp and classily animated story of how the agents try to entrap Trinity. Its comic book retro style and use of black and white imagery, give it a refined and polished image that sets it apart from the other animations.
What can I say about this one? Well one word sums it up, Insane. However, it raises an interesting idea that all individual machines have the own minds and it show how people are able to release a mechanical mind in the same way that a human mind can be released from the matrix.
So what over all does the Animatrix offer the viewer? Well it give answers to a lot of questions but this in turn gives rise to even more questions, not only about The Matrix, but about reality it self. I thoroughly recommend this DVD even to those who were not fans of the film because there is something to be gained from it by all who see it.
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