The Animatrix

This is an archived article from my now-defunct NeonReviews website. Any qualities and/or information provided about the reviewed item must be seen in context of when it was originally published.

Distributor: Warner Bros. / Village Roadshow Pictures
Genre: Action / Science-Fiction / Animation
Availability: Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk
Related links: Official website
Additional information: The Matrix Revolutions (review), Internet Movie Database (IMDb) entry

This is actually a collection of nine animated short stories based on the universe of The Matrix. They all take you further down into the world of The Matrix and present some side stories covering what the three full feature movies couldn’t cover. I think it’s only fair that I divide my review up in that many parts for full coverage.

Segment 1: Final Flight of the Osiris
In The Matrix Reloaded, we were told that the Osiris brought them the information about the several thousands sentinels burrowing their way down to Zion, and here’s their story. We start off in a sparring program similar to the Dojo fight in The Matrix (the original), only with swords. The training is interrupted by a proximity alert, and they discover the sentinels’ dig site. In this segment, we follow the crew aboard the Osiris and their fight to warn the others.
From a technical point of view, I think this one is simply astounding 3D animation. Considering Square USA made this, the same people who created the Final Fantasy game series as well as the Final Fantasy movie, I notice some similarities in the animation. The story sequence is set up as such you’ll benefit from seeing this movie between The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded. Directed by Andy Jones and written by the Wachowski brothers.

Segment 2: The Second Renaissance Part I
You know the year is no longer 1999, but closer to 2199. You know that the humans marvelled as they gave birth to A.I. You know that it was us who scorched the sky. Here begins the story taken from the Zion archives, further describing what went wrong and how the war started. The machines, after some time of disrespect from the humans, are seperated into their own nation, called 01 (Zero-One), and they create a new and better A.I.
We see that the main reason for the human downfall, was our tendency to vanity and corruption, and with the creation of the machinces, our disrespect of the machines. The Second Renaissance follows the human downfall to the human life, with the result seen in The Matrix triology movies.
The antimation is good, even in our time of 3D animation, and it tells the story well. It’s interesting to see what could start the destruction of mankind. In a way, it tells us what we cannot allow ourselves to do, and what could create our own demise.

Segment 3: The Second Renaissance Part II
The story from the Zion archive continues. We’re told what happened during the beginning of the war against the machines, the destruction of the sky, and exactly how the machines found out how useful the human body could be to the machines in terms of energy supply. In The Matrix (the original movie), we’re told that they found all the energy they needed. In this segment, we’re told how they found it, and the torture of humans for this type of research.
Both parts directed by Mahiro Maeda and written by the Wachowski brothers.

Segment 4: Kid’s Story
If you saw The Matrix Reloaded, you notice upon the return of the Nebuccanezzar crew to Zion, that a kid comes up to Neo, thanking him for freeing him from the Matrix. This is the story of that kid, and you discover why Neo said that the kid saved himself.
The animation looks a bit odd, compared to the animation of today, but it creates the effect The Matrix has; they’re living in a dreamworld. Directed by Shinichirô Watanabe and written by the Wachowski brothers.

Segment 5: Program
Inside a sparring program, Cis is acting out her favorite training simulation, in the age of the Japanese samurais. One of her crewmates, Duo, makes an indecent proposal about going back to The Matrix. Permanently.
Familiar anime-type animation, written and directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri.

Segment 6: World Record
Not everyone who become aware of the capabilities of The Matrix, wants to break free. Some use it for their own personal benefit. We follow an athlete who, by bending the rules of The Matrix system, sets the new world record. Agents are following his every step, attempting to avoid his capabilities from telling others about what’s wrong with the world they’re living in.
Directed by Takeshi Koike, written by Yoshiaki Kawajiri.

Segment 7: Beyond
A girl goes looking for her missing cat, and stumbles across what some kids call a haunted house. To those familiar with The Matrix, it’s a zone where the programming has gone all wrong. These kids explore this zone and what they are able to do within it, until a group of technicians comes to the area and spoils all the fun.
Written and directed by Koji Morimoto.

Segment 8: A Detective Story
We see the world through the eyes of a hard-boiled detective, who currently is out of work. Suddenly, he’s hired for a substantial sum of money to track down a hacker named Trinity. He finds out that several other detectives have tried to find this Trinity and failed, leading them either to insanity or suicide.
Written and directed by Shinichirô Watanabe.

Segment 9: Matriculated
A sentinel-type hunter-killer machine is captured by a group of individuals who seek to turn some of the machines over to their side, fighting for the humans instead of against them. This is a rather difficult and psychedelic process, but we’re taken to a synthetic world, not constructed by the machines, but by humans. A robot is introduced to a virtual world.
Written and directed by Peter Chung.

All of these animation short films presents us with an extension to The Matrix triology, and lets us explore a few other aspects of The Matrix universe either only referenced in the movies or not covered at all. Absolutely recommended to those who seek more information about this alternate universe.

 

Story interest: ★★★★★★ 

Plot development: ★★★★★☆ 

Characters: ★★★★★☆ 

Credibility: ★★★★★☆ 

Visual effects: ★★★★★☆ 

 

Overall: ★★★★★☆